« AnteriorContinuar »
THE FIRST EDITION.
In the year 1812, I collected all the authorities upon the Pleas of the Crown to be found in the text books, the books of reports, &c.; all that could elucidate the subject in Bracton, Britton, Fleta, and the Mirror; the substance of Hale, Hawkins, the Third Institute, Dalton, Foster, and East; all the cases upon the subject in the Year Books, the old reports, and in the modern and recent reports; and all the statutes upon the subject, down to the period at which I made the collection. Of these materials I framed, with infinite pains, a digest in three volumes, one of which was actually published in the year 1813.
When I contemplated the publication above mentioned, works upon the Pleas of the Crown were extremely scarce; those of repute, upon the subject, were rarely to be had, even at most extravagant prices. But immediately upon the publication of my First Volume, two other works were announced upon the same subject, one of which was published very shortly after it was announced; the other not for nearly two years afterwards. Their being announced, however, had the effect of deterring me from proceeding with my Work: I thought they would amply supply the deficiency of works upon the subject; and I felt too much diffidence in my own ability to enter into competition with the writers of them. Another, and a very elaborate work, has since been added, which has fully confirmed me in my determination not to publish the work I originally contemplated.
As the subject of Evidence in criminal cases, however, had not been treated of by any of these writers, and as
some book upon the subject was extremely desirable, I thought I might select from the Work I originally compiled such part of it as related to evidence in criminal cases, and publish it, without subjecting myself to the imputation of wishing to enter into any competition with the learned writers of the works already extant upon the pleas of the Crown. I have made this compilation; I have added to it all the cases since decided, and the statutes since enacted, upon the subject; and I have compressed the whole into the smallest compass that appeared to me to be practicable, consistently with perspicuity. I have also added precedents of indictments and other criminal pleadingsnot from any idea that this part of the Work was required by the profession, there being already one or two collections of great repute upon the subject-but merely because I found it impracticable to give the evidence in particular cases in the simplified form I was anxious to give it, without also giving, in each case, the particular indictment or pleading the evidence was intended to support. And as I was thus obliged to give the precedents, I thought it desirable, and, indeed, necessary, also, to give such a summary of the law relative to pleading in criminal cases generally, as would enable the reader to frame an indictment in cases where he might not be able to find a precedent.
As to the arrangement of my materials, I have endeavoured to make it simple and perspicuous. The Work consists of two books-the First Book, which treats of Pleading and Evidence in criminal cases generally, is divided into two parts: the first, treating of Pleading generally, namely, of indictments, informations, special pleas, demurrers, &c.; the second, treating of Evidence generally, namely of evidence of records, of maters quasi of record, of private written instruments, and of parol evidence, the competency and credit of witnesses, &c. &c.
The Second Book, which treats of Pleading and Evidence in particular cases, is divided into four parts: the first treats of offences against the property and persons of individuals; the second treats of offences of a public nature, namely
offences against the King and his government, offences against public justice, offences against the public peace, offences against public trade, and offences against public police and economy; the third treats of conspiracies; and the fourth, of principals and accessaries.
I have now apprised the reader of what he is to expect in the following work. Trifling as it may appear, it has cost me much time and great labour. I have taken infinite pains to simplify my subject; to reject everything redundant or irrelevant; to compress the whole into the smallest possible compass consistent with perspicuity; and to clothe it in language plain, simple, and unadorned. In fact, my sole object hasbeen, to make this a practically useful book: I neither anticipate nor desire for it a higher commendation. J. F. A.