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• The Laws of Business," says an eminent jurist in discussing its merits, " is a work which, through its former editions, has already acquired a wide spread reputation for its practical usefulness both to the professional and non-professional man"
Its continued popularity with the legal profession as well as among con veyancers, commissioners, notaries, justices, bankers, and business men of every class is a convincing proof that it has filled an actual want. paring the present edition such additions and improvements have been made as seemed likely to add to the practical value of the work, and no efforts have been spared to make it a safe guide in every business question which is likely to anse in any State of the Union Large additions have been made to the former editions, especially of Abstracts of the Laws or all the States, in relation to such matters as Deeds of all kinds, Chatte Mortgages, Leases, Wills. Mechanics Liens, Days of Grace and Holidays Statutes of Limitations, Actions, Recovery and Collection of Debts. Attachment, Arrest, Garnishment or Trustee Process, Judgment, Exemp tions, Stay Laws, Homestead Rights, etc., etc., and a new chapter on the Legal Rights and Obligations of Farmers; Help, and their rights and duties, Trespassers, Adjoining Roads, Rivers and Ponds, Fences, Farmways. Re pairs, Fixtures, and many other topics. The Forms have been so multiplied as to embrace almost every description of contract and conveyance in com mon use, from an ordinary note of hand to a corporation deed. The new Forms for taking depositions and affidavits as well as corporation acknowi edgments will, it is hoped, be of special service to commissioners, notaries and justices, while the many new Forms for other purposes will meet the re quirements of the practical business man Some of these Forms will be found brief and simple; others, especially those in relation to real estate are full and minute. No one but a lawyer knows how necessary it is to use the technical, customary, and established language of Form, every phrase of which has passed through repeated litigation, and has thus acquired a certain meaning. Much in such Forms will seem, to those ignorant of law. to be wordy and full of repetition; but, if the Forms are made apparently more simple by omissions and abbreviations, they may be good, and they may not; and whether they are or aot cannot be known except by litiga tion. And he must be a bold lawyer who would undertake to prefer Forms of bis own make to those which the Courts and common use have sanctioned Wherever possible, Forms have been given which were thus sanctioned, be cause the very object of this book is to enable persons to use it to conduct their business affairs with ease, safety, and certainty.
We think such a book possible, and venture to hope that we have made such a book. We know only that whatever labor and care could do so make the book useful and safe, has been done. In this edition we have brought the law down to the present time, have revised the whole work, and, as already said, have made large additions which will, we hope, increase its usefulness and value
THE LAWS OF BUSINESS
THE PURPOSE AND USE OF THIS BOOK. The title of this work indicates, to some extent, its purpose and character; but, as they are in certain respects peculiar, it is thought that some remarks respecting them may make the volume more useful. Many years ago, after more than twentyfive years of practice at the bar, I accepted the office of Dane Professor in the Law School of Harvard University. I employed whatever leisure the duties of that office left me, in preparing a series of text-books on Commercial Law. I have published many volumes; and the manner in which they have been received by my professional brethren, calls for my most grateful acknowledgments. One of those works was entitled “The Ele. ments of Mercantile Law," and was intended as a general epitome of Commercial Law. I began it mainly for the use of lawyers, but at the same time hoping that it might be so written as to be useful to others, who were not lawyers. Before I had made much progress in it, the hope that one book could answer these two purposes faded away; and I finally made that work exclusively for lawyers. But the circumstance that many persons who were not lawyers, and did not intend to be, have bought my works,—the remarks that have reached me in relation to them, and particularly in reference to that above mentioned, and many other kindred facts,-have given additional strength to a belief that led me to prepare this volume, for wide and general use. I hat belief is, that there is a strong and growing dispositicn,
among the men of business of this country, to understand the laws of business. This disposition, and the actual diffusion of this knowledge, have both greatly increased of late years, and I believe could not have been arrested; for this progress is one element of advancing and improving civilization; and I think it cannot now be prevented.
The institutions and characteristics of this country have their bearing upon this question. We have no sovereign but the law; or rather the people is the sovereign, and the law is their only utterance. It is a sense of this that has here transferred, in some degree at least, the loyalty which in the kingdoms of the Old World attaches to a person, to the law itself, usirg this word in its most comprehensive sense. This is a good thing; l.lot because the law is always wise and good, but because it will more probably become wise and good, if the whole comAjunity recognize it as entitled to obedience, and therefore enti. tled to their constant, earnest, and vigorous endeavors to cure its defects, and bring it into harmony with those principles of truth and justice of which it should be the expression. This great duty rests upon us with the stronger obligation because of our greater intelligence and activity of mind, or more general education and wider extent of common knowledge; all which are none the less facts, although they are sometimes used as mere food for vanity, or as topics for adulation. And all these things together seem to lead to the conclusion, that here and now proper efforts should be made to supply all of the community who ask for it,—with accurate and practical information con. cerning those laws which are of the most immediate concern to them.
So far as concerns the whole people, their wish, if expressed in the simplest terms, would undoubtedly be, to know the laws which must regulate their conduct and determine their rights. This wish admits of but one question; it is, How far is this thing practicable? for so far as it is, its propriety and expediency can hardly be denied or doubted. Indeed, they who would most strenuously oppose any effort to teach the people the law, would do so only on the ground that it is impossible to give to the public any knowledge of this kind which would be wide enough
and accurate enough for use. They would think that the very endeavor to learn the law, by persons the main business of whose lives must be of a very different kind, would lead only to a superficial and erroneous view of the subject; and this, under the name of knowledge, is only the most dangerous ignorance.
We should, however, remember, that the people generally, here and elsewhere, must necessarily know a certain amount of law, for without this they cannot live safely in society. For example, men in business must know something of the most general laws of business; as how to conduct their sales, how to make notes, how to collect them, and the like; and all men must know so much of ordinary law as protects and defines their common and universal rights. Moreover, it will probably be admitted that important mistakes, leading to much loss and difficulty, are every day made, because many do not know those general principles or rules of law which some do know, and which every man in business might know. The question, therefore, can only be, how much of law it is possible and desirable for men in business to learn; and what is their best way of learning it.
Here let me remark, that few persons, who have not had occasion to study and to teach Commercial Law as a whole, are aware of that unity and harmony of its principles, which make it indeed a system of laws; or of the prevailing simplicity and reasonableness of its rules. An eminent English lawyer has said, that it was astonishing within how small a space all the principles of commercial law may be compacted. It is equally true, that the laws of business are generally free from mere technicálity and obscurity; and the reason is, that they are for the most part, and substantially, nothing more than the actual practice of the business community, expressed in rules and maxims, and invested with the authority of law.
The knowledge which a trader acquires of the laws of trade need not, at all events, be superficial; for a knowledge of principles, and an intelligent appreciation of them, however limited it may be, should not be regarded as superficial. And these limits need not be narrow.
The extent of this knowledge, and its accuracy, thoroughness, and utility, must obviously depend