DIRECTOR   Georgi Slootmaekers


We, in fact, know of no nation, or, at least, of no civilized nation, whose history has reached us, in which a positive system of laws for the exigencies of tho whole society was coeval with its origin ; and it would be astonishing if such a nation could be found. Nations, in their origin, arc usually barbarous or rude in their habits, customs and occupations. They are scanty in population and resources, and have neither the leisure, nor the inclination, nor the knowledge, to provide systems for future use, suited to the growing wants of society, or to their own future advancement in the arts. A few positive rules suffice, for the present, to govern them in their most pressing concerns ; and the rest are left to be disposed of according to the habits and manners of the people. Habits soon become custon s ; customs soon become rules ; and rules soon fasten themselves as firmly upon the existing institutions, as if they were positive ordmances. Wherever we trace positive laws, in the early stages of society, they are few, and not of any wide extent; directions for special concerns, rather than comprehensive regulations for the universal adjustment of rights. No man can pretend that, in Asia, any such universal rules were established by positive legislation, at the origin of the great nations by which it is peopled. The instructions of Moses, as promulgated by divine authority, for the government of the Jews, are not (as every one perceives) designed for every possible exigency of contract, or right, or injury, or duty, arising in the course of the business and history of that wonderful people. They are rather positive precepts, adapted to great occasions, and to govern those concerns which respected thoir wants, their spiritual advancement, and their duties as the chosen of God. The Greeks are not to us, in their early or later history, as having had a code of universal extent. The Romans, in their early history, had few positive laws; and those seem to have been borrowed from other sources. We often, indeed, see it stated, that the common law of England was originally formed from statutes now obsolete and unknown. But this assertion is wholly gratuitous. There is no reason to suppose that, in the early history of its lurisprudence, more was done than is usual in other nations, at the same period of their progress, such as the promulgating of some leading regulations, or the forming of some great institutions for the security of the public. In fact, a great portion of the English common law is of modern growth, and can be traced distinctly to sources independent of legislation.