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time for ever applied in the purchasing and distribution of such books as might have a tendency to promote the interests of virtue and religion, and the happiness of mankind. An amicable suit having been instituted for carrying this trust into effect, Lord Thurlow, to the surprise of every one, set aside the will for uncertainty (a): thus affording a striking illustration of what has been often remarked, that expressions clear to the writer himself, who has the advantage of knowing his own meaning, are not necessarily intelligible to others. Distinctness of conception does not always produce distinctness of expression.
XXVIII. The most eminent conveyancer, how- Fearne. ever, of this period was undoubtedly Charles Fearne. He was something more. He was a general scholar; had composed a treatise in the Greek language on the Greek accents, and another on the Retreat of the Ten Thousand ; and was profoundly versed in mathematics, chemistry, and mechanics (6). These pursuits, however congenial to his capacious mind, he resolved to abandon, and to dedicate himself
(a) Bradley, Pref. xiii. by diminishing its size and in
(6) Butler's Reminiscences, i. creasing its power, the gunsmith 118. “ He had obtained,” says pointed out to him some defects, Butler, “ a patent for dyeing observing, that "a Mr. Fearne, scarlet, and had solicited one for an obscure law-man, in Breame'sa preparation of porcelain.” Ibid. buildings, Chancery-lane, had Mr. Butler also mentions that invented a musket, which, ala friend of his having commu- though defective, much nicated to an eminent gunsmith nearer to the attainment of the a plan for improving the musket, object."
wholly to the study of the law. He burned his profane library, and wept over its flames (a).
Mr. Fearne's first publication was an Historical Legigraphical Chart of Landed Property in England, which appeared in 1769. It is a kind of analytical table, displaying in one view the tenures, mode of descent, and power of alienation of land, from the time of the Saxons to the present era.
This ingenious and accurate performance was followed by the celebrated Essay on the Learning of Contingent Remainders and Executory Devises, published in 1772. It then consisted only of 98 pages. Subsequent editions were greatly enlarged. The fourth edition of that part of the work which relates to contingent remainders was published by Mr. Fearne in 1791, together with the opinions of Mr. Booth, Lord Mansfield, and other eminent counsel, on the will which was the subject of the case of Perrin v. Blake, and a prefatory address to his Lordship. He lived only to complete a few
pages of that portion of the work which treats of executory devises: these, with the remainder of the work as it stood in the third edition, were edited by Mr. Powell, in 1795, with copious notes. An improved edition, with notes and appendix, was published by Mr. Butler in 1809. After Mr. Fearne's death, Mr. Mitchell Shadwell selected from his friend's manuscripts a Reading on the Statute of Inrolments, Arguments on the singular Case of General
(a) He told Mr. Butler, that ple of Antioch, and the Comethe works which he most re- dies of Aristophanes. Rem. i. gretted were the Homilies of 119. St. John Chrysostom to the peo
Stanwix, and a Collection of his professional opinions; and published them in 1797, under the title of his posthumous works.
XXIX. Mr. Powell, whom I have just named, was Powell. himself a conveyancer of no mean repute. To him belongs the merit of having first given a systematic exposition of the subtle doctrine of Powers, since so admirably treated of by Sir E. Sugden. This work appeared in 1787. Mr. Powell had previously published, in 1785, a very useful Essay on Mortgages (a); but his earliest work was on the Learning of Devises, in 1783, since edited by Mr. Jarman with distinguished ability. Mr. Powell also published an Essay, on the Law of Contracts and Agreements, in 1790. A collection of his Precedents was edited by Mr. Barton, in 1803. Mr. Barton was himself the author Barton. of several works on Conveyancing; and, in 1803, published a considerable collection of Precedents. With the exception of Williams's Precedents in Conveyan- Williams's Precing, in 1792, no other collection of any consequence 1792. appeared until Mr. Bythewood's, in 1821. The Bythewood's editor lived to finish only a very small portion of 1821. his extensive design, since completed by Mr. Jarman, and by Messrs. Parken and Stewart.
XXX. A new school in Conveyancing is considered Butler. to have been formed by Charles Butler ; who, having raised himself to the head of this branch of the profession, continued during many years to hold that con
(a) An enlarged and very ably published by Mr. Coventry, in edited edition of this work was
spicuous station almost without a rival. Eminently successful as a draftsman, he did much by the influence of his example to prune that prolixity in conveyancing which some of his distinguished predecessors had introduced. Greater conciseness, however, he considered to be hardly attainable without abandoning established forms and language so much as to render the innovation a matter of experiment--always hazardous, and never more so than when legal instruments are concerned (a). His Annotations on Lord Coke's First Institute, published in 1787, in continuation of those of Mr. Hargrave, though deservedly esteemed, were confessedly too hastily prepared to reach the high standard of his predecessor; who to great patience of research, united an acuteness and discrimination which admirably fitted him for such a task (6). Of Mr. Butler's numerous literary works, which are chiefly of an historical and religious cast, it would be irrelevant here to speak. His knowledge appears to have been more various than profound.
XXXI. In this catalogue of Conveyancers it would
(a) Butler's Reminiscences, than once displayed by him in ii. 280.
a manner highly honourable to Character of (6) “In the law of property, himself and serviceable to his Mr. Hargraves and many other branches of En- country. When he retired from
glish jurisprudence, Mr. Har- the practice of the profession,
be unjust to omit the names of Francis Sanders, author of a learned treatise on Uses and Trusts, published in 1791, and James Humphreys, whose lu- Humphreys. minous work on Real Property, which appeared in 1826, is of distinguished merit. As a compend, concise yet clear, it is unrivalled. His Outlines of a Code, whatever may be thought of the abstract question, bespeaks a mind conversant with the details of practice, and yet above them; capable, as Bacon says, “of casting his eyes upon some things which the actors themselves, especially some being interested, some led and addicted, some declared and engaged, did not or would not see (a).” The publication of Park. Mr. Humphreys' book called forth the Contre-Projet of the late John James Park, in 1828. Park was, as he avowed himself, "a self-educated man;” and this, combined with his sedentary way of life, will perhaps account for those literary heresies which so often disfigured his writings. He was, in the best sense of the word, a free-thinker. This character is as conspicuous in his professional opinions as in his printed works. “As a lawyer, Professor Park deservedly ranked high — he was not unworthy of the master under whom he studied (6); and one cannot but regret that his promising career should have been so soon cut short; that, when about to reap the harvest of his hopes, the sickle should have fallen from his hand (c).” From Mr. Park's valuable MS. Collection of Precedents, in
(a) Character of Lord Bacon, For an authentic account of Mr.
Park and his works, see Legal (6) Mr. Preston.
Observer, vols. vi. and vii. (c) Recital-Book, Pref. viii.