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to make thai my text book, or to refer to it as often as I otherwise should have done. I have however, made frequent extracts from it, as I have from time to time, found them in other works, and in judicial decisions. I have to acknowledge my indebtedness to that learned author, for all the reader will find contained in my tenth chapter, on the subject of the boundaries of legislative and judicial construction. I have had to mark out, and pursue my own order of arrangement, and have endeavored to annotate and illustrate in most instances, American authorities, deeming them more advantageous to my readers, and as affording in themselves better and more satisfactory illustration of the statute law of the American states. The elementary rules of construction, are few and simple, yet notwithstanding they are so, the application of those rules to given cases, arising out of the complex provisions as well as variety of statutory enactments, is not without much intrinsic difficulty. I am aware, many minds regard the subject matter of this branch of my work, too trivial to demand consideration; too plain to need elucidation. Not unfrequently have I had the remark made to me, that this branch of my subject was unworthy a moment's consideration, as it was perfectly familiar to every tyro in the legal profession. Such remarks have fallen from those for whom I have great respect, and ought perhaps, to have deterred me from prosecuting my undertaking. I have however assumed, that it does not necessarily follow, because the elementary rules of any science, or of any body of laws are few, that they are not, notwithstanding, involved in much that is intricate, as well as difficult in their application. The common law affords a striking illustration of the truth of this remark, and so too do the laws pertaining to the natural sciences. The law of gravitation for instance, has but one single elementary rule, pervading the entire system of worlds, and extending through the whole range of matter, yet it would be a work of great intrinsic difficulty, to analyze and arrange, even that single rule, and apply it to every complex and variegated combi
nation of material substances, so as, at once to discover the precise extent, or degree of its application, its consequences and effects in a given case. Still more difficult would it be, to combine in any one single proposition, or even in a class of general propositions, an accurate and complete definition and illustration of this rule; so plain, simple, and manifest, as that any mind of ordinary capacity, could at once, from such definition, grasp all that pertains to that intricate, complicated, wonderful law of the natural world. The same may be said of those rules, which pertain to all other departments of human science. If a single rule is involved in much which is intricate, certain it is, that a multiplicity of rules, pervading an entire system of laws, cannot, and ought not, to be regarded as undeserving of a critical and minute investigation and analysis. How far I have succeeded in analyzing and illustrating the subject I have treated of, it does not become me to judge. I am deeply sensible this work must stand or fall solely upon its own intrinsic merits. It has no preconceived public sentiment in its favor. It is unheralded by the public press, and is probably unexpected by the great mass of the legal profession and its author to a great extent unknown to them. It is submitted to the profession with much distrust as to its merits, and under a consciousness of its numerous defects.
E. Fitch Smith.
New York, Oct. 1, 1848.
TABLE OF CONTENTS,
Origin and History of Legislation among the Ancient Govern-
Origin and History of Legislation in England,