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guide, seems to be full of intricate mazes and perplexities. We cannot refrain from quoting the following passages from his introductory lecture.
“ It has appeared to me worthy of an effort, to give to the study of the law, in our own state, a more accurate and scientific character, than it has hitherto usually received. I am persuaded of the utility of the design; and if it should not eventually succeed, it must be imputed to the magnitude of the undertaking, and the want of ability, or courage, or perseverance in the execution. But allowances will, no doubt, be made, and will be largely required, for the deficiencies of this first experiment, probably prematurely commenced, and appearing in the shape of a broken and very imperfect
It has certainly been contemplated with painful anxiety, lest it should totally disappoint the expectations which may have been excited.”
" When I pass my eye over the vast field of knowledge, which lies within the circle of law, and pause to observe the labours of the eminent jurists who have devoted their time and talents to the cultivation of the science, I am truly distrustful of my ability to shed any new light upon the path we are to pursue. My aim will be utility-direct, plain, practical utility. After a certain age and portion of experience, the sense of duty becomes a stronger principle of action, than the love of reputation. I wish not to raise delusive expectations of being able to give any very deep interest to the study of the law, or to add much embellishment or value to the beautiful and costly fabric of jurisprudence, which we are to survey. My wishes will be abundantly gratified, if I shall be able to designate, with judgment and accuracy, the true course of legal studies, and the road to professional eminence; and successfully to aid and encourage the student, and the younger members of the bar, in their manly purposes and generous exertions."
“ But my purpose is not to pronounce an eulogy on the profession. It is. merely to remind the student, as well as the lawyer, of the gravity of his pursuit and the dignity of the trust. Knowledge is of slow acquisition ; the fruit of steady, close and habitual application. It appears to be the general order and design of Providence, manifested in the constitution of our nature, that every thing valuable in human acquisition, should be the result of toil and labour. Life itself is a state of mental discipline, for a being destined for immortality; and the formation of any character, which is to command the homage of its own age and to descend with honour to posterity, by means of its moral power and intellectual greatness, can only be the result of hard and inflexible endurance in duty. Knowledge alone is not sufficient for pure and lasting fame. It is mischievous and even dangerous, unless it be regulated by moral principle. If the young lawyer intends to render himself truly useful to mankind, if he expects to be a blessing and not a scourge to his fellow citizens, he must cherish in his own bosom, and inculcate by precept and practice, a firm and animated zeal for justice. It must follow him in all his practical pursuits, as a living and invigorating principle of action. He must likewise cultivate, throughout all his forensic concerns, and vexatious details of business, an habitual candour, and a sacred love for truth. The consequences will be most benign, both to his temper and character. No man preserves in his heart a constant and lively sense of justice, without being insensibly led to cherish the benevolent affections. Those affections sharpen the perceptions of the moral sense, and give energy and a proper direction to all the noble powers of the understanding. The observation which I have somewhere met with, is no less profound than striking, that wisdom is as much the offspring of the heart as of the head." Vol. I. No. II.
In this enlarged and liberal spirit, does this profound jurist and accomplished scholar speak of the requisites of the lawyer, and of the objects he has undertaken to accomplish. We are mistaken if the benefits of his labours do not far
those which he anticipates; for we think, in addition to the enlarged and yet precise knowledge of the science he will convey to his pupils, his precepts will serve to awaken the best springs of action, and the most liberal sentiments and feelings, amongst all those who are so fortunate as to listen to his instructions. It is something to feel that there is nothing so evil in the characters or principles of those with whom we daily mingle in society, as to poison or corrupt the moral sense in ourselves. But how delightful is it, to be conscious, not only that we are safe in this respect; not only that there will be no temptations to evil, but that we shall be made to see and feel that moral character is no less beautiful in itself, than a necessary prerequisite in every man who would wish to obtain professional knowledge and reputation.
The course for the present season was concluded on the 18th instant, and comprised thirty lectures, principally upon the two great divisions of the rights of persons and the rights of things ; and under this head real and personal property, besides several incidental lectures connected with the main design. Of the incidental lectures, we should select those on the reports of adjudged cases, on the principal treatises of law, and on the civil law, as most interesting. Amid all the variety of reports and treatises, it is difficult for the uninitiated to select those which are entitled to most confidence and respect; and it is, therefore, of material benefit, to have the advice of an experienced and able friend and instructor, to teach us how to choose those authors on whose learning, faithfulness and accuracy we may safely rely. Chancellor Kent divided the reporters into two classes; those before and those since the revolution of 1688. To several of the reporters of our own country, he paid a just and handsome tribute of respect; selecting, as most important, the Reports of the Supreme Court of the United States, Gallison and Mason's Reports of the first Circuit Court of the United States, Tyng's Massachusetts Reports, and the elegant and highly finished volumes of Mr John
The lecture on law treatises was equally interesting; and we were gratified by the manner in which he mentioned the treatises of Judge Reeve, Livermore on Agency, and other works honourable to American jurists. The plain and practical manner in which the Professor explained and illustrated some
of his difficult subjects, commanded our particular admiration ; that, for instance, of contingent remainders and executory devises, the pons asinotum of law, and which he had the art to explain in a manner as simple as Barrow, while he gave it all the elegance of Simpson.
He also explained, satisfactorily, the nature of tenure in this state, and the peculiarities arising from our local situation and laws, as to some of the incidents connected with the mode of our holding real estates. Several of the lectures were complete and finished treatises upon some of the subjects of personal property ; as, for instance, those on the contract of sale, on bailments, and on negotiable paper. Apart from the utility of these lectures, as explaining and making simple the more difficult subjects, and furnishing correct views and much learning upon all those embraced within the circle of the law, we have observed already some of the effects which the influence and character of such a man as Chancellor Kent are certain to produce upon the minds of his pupils; and we trust that the spirit which he has excited will produce, as we think it must, good fruits. Apart, also, from the moral effects, it is most de sirable that all who mean to practice law should embrace, within the course of their studies, the different branches which are in any way connected with the science. It is too much the practice, to confine the attention to those branches, merely, which are useful in the particular line of business in which members of the profession may happen to be engaged. Our city lawyers, for instance, pay comparatively little attention to the subject of real property; and the country lawyers to commercial law. We suspect both classes, (if we may so term them,) to be quite deficient in a knowledge of the civil law, and also of constitutional law, that boast of our country,--the great fabric, under Providence, next to the virtue of our people, on which depend the liberties of this free and enlightened republic. There is another important benefit, which Professor Kent will confer
upon the student. He will explain the peculiarities that belong to our law as distinguishing it from that of England. Blackstone's Commentaries furnish him with an easy mode of access to a general and beautiful outline of that law; have peculiarities, resulting from our customs, the laws of our legislature, and, above all, from our state constitution, and the constitution of the union. We have yet no American Blackstone, to lead us to a knowledge of these differences; but we must search for them in our digests and statutes ; find out some of them by experience; and still remain, for years, perhaps,
utterly ignorant of some of our local laws and customs. An experienced instructor, who can aid us in our difficulties, and has the inclination as well as ability to inform us as to all these points, who will save us the labour we might bestow upon subjects of no utility, as connected with our country, and prevent our imbibing wrong notions of American jurisprudence, must benefit, no less from the instruction he will impart, than from the loss of time, the labour and discouragements he may prevent. We do, therefore, consider it as of the utmost importance to young men of this city, and indeed of the country in general, that Chancellor Kent should be induced to proceed in the execution of the plan he has so auspiciously commenced. He will give them more enlarged views upon the subject, and induce them to extend the line of their studies; or if he does not create this desire, he will at least make them acquainted with the outlines and general principles of its various branch
At the conclusion of the syllabus of the first course, Chancellor Kent has added the following postcript:
“ The present course terminates with this 30th lecture; but the Professor has it in contemplation to commence a new course of Law Lectures the ensuing autumn. If he should venture to re-assume the duty, (and timely notice would, in that case be given,) the next course would probably commence as early as the beginning of November, and would be much more comprehensive in the plan, and much more enlarged and accurate in the details. Many subjects would then be discussed, which have now been unavoidably omitted. The attempt would be made, also, to give a full and correct examination of the criminal code of this state, and to embrace a general view of the law of nations and of the constitutional polity, and civil jurisprudence of the government of the United States."
The emoluments arising from the lectures have, we believe, been liberal, and the professor has probably been, in some degree, remunerated for the time and labour he has bestowed
the course. But without considering the adequacy of the compensation he may possibly receive from voluntary subscriptions, we should suppose it worthy the attention of the legislature, to secure his services by giving to the professorship an ample and liberal endowment It is no less important to afford the means of education for the several professions, than to furnish its rudiments to all classes. We must have a class of educated men, fit for the several professions, and we must give them the means, not only to gain that general course of information which is taught in our colleges, but also that which belongs to the particular profession which they are designed to fill. Divinity, medicine, arms, are perhaps the most important of what are
usually called the professions ; but those who know that the profession of law has always furnished the most zealous assertors and defenders of liberty in this and other countries, cannot believe it far behind the others in utility. When it is considered too, that some of the rights of almost every man must at times become the subject of legal inquiry, that all are privileged to serve as jurors, and may be called upon to act in other capacities, it seems as if the interests of all were concerned in the education of able, upright and learned lawyers, fitted by their habits to be legal advisers, and willing, from their sense of duty, to act at all times, and at any hazard, as the advocates of right and justice. The claims of Columbia College for liberality on the part of the legislature, are equal, perhaps superior, to those of any other in the state. We are quite indifferent as to its early history and progress; but it has sent forth from its walls some of the ablest assertors of American rights; some of the best soldiers of our armies; and some of the greatest ornaments of American science and literature. We believe that this institution has never received any efficient legislative aid. If properly cherished, it must hereafter, from its local advantages, have a most extensive influence over the minds and character of our citizens; and through them, over the whole state and country. As another reason for endowing the professorship of law, we will mention that it has always seemed to us a duty, on the part of the state, to provide employment for such of her servants as have faithfully, for a long series of years, discharged important public trusts. The legislature of Virginia, with a liberality and wisdom which often mark the councils of that state, has employed Mr. Jefferson, in his old age, to superintend the execution of a project, for endowing a literary institution on a large scale. Why should not New-York emulate so respectable an example, by employing some of those who have passed the best part of their lives in her service, in bringing to perfection plans, by which to secure a succession of able men, fitted to perform the most arduous public duties.
It is not solely on account of Chancellor Kent, or of mere present utility, that we wish to see the professorship he now so ably fills, well endowed; but because we wish to see a succession of lecturers like himself, connected with our college. We cannot always have his services, though we trust they may be preserved to us for many years; but our wish is, that the professorship may never again be suffered to remain for any length of time inoccapied.