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LONDON :

PR1 N red by LEvEY, Robsox, AND FRANKLYN, - Great New Street, Fetter lane.

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I AvAIL myself of the usual privilege of writers, to explain the views with which this work has been commenced and completed. The great changes which have taken place since Blackstone wrote render it necessary that the works of that illustrious commentator should be read with the notes and additions of later editors. That necessity is sufficiently shewn by the favourable manner in which the recent editions of the Commentaries have been received. But Blackstone does not, in any form, altogether answer the purpose for which this Commentary is intended. The principal object of that writer was to give students a knowledge of the entire civil and criminal jurisprudence of the country; the constitutional law forms a secondary or introductory part of his work. Thus the portion of his book exclusively devoted to constitutional law is necessarily incomplete in itself, because many things are either entirely omitted, or scattered over other parts of the Commentaries, according to the nature of his plan. For instance, the practical results of the responsibility of ministers to parliament are imperfectly sketched out; and the law respecting the courts of justice, though an important part of our constitution, is necessarily reserved for the third and fourth books. For these reasons Blackstone's Commentaries are but ill adapted to the purpose of those who have not leisure or inclination to study the whole system of our public and private law, yet wish to acquire, within a comparatively small compass of time, a knowledge of the fundamental principles and more important details of the English constitution. That class of readers is very important, especially at the present time; since a more urgent necessity never existed for placing within the reach of all persons of education that knowledge of constitutional principles without which no honest man can exercise political functions and franchises with a safe conscience. Such is the object I have principally had in view. I have therefore brought together within a single volume the whole substance of the chapters of Blackstone's first book relating to constitutional law, and also those parts of his writings bearing directly on the same subject which lie interspersed in his third and fourth books. I have added all the new law under each head, and many things which Blackstone has either only hinted at or omitted altogether. The reader will also find in their proper places the more valuable theories of De Lolme, and a good deal of important matter from various other sources. With regard to the mode of executing this work, I have been scrupulous to say nothing without the sanction of some sufficient authority, and, in general, to insert no mere opinions or ideas of my own, excepting occasionally in the form of doubts or suggestions. The consequence is, that the reader will find references in almost every page, directing him to

sources whence he may derive either further knowledge, or, at least, the means of testing the accuracy of what I have said. And this is very important; for mere superficial theories of constitutional law, not based on the solid ground of experience and the authority of the sages of the common law, can "scarcely lead to results whereby the conduct of public men may be fairly judged, or political privileges and franchises safely exercised. Some, indeed, of the references in the course of this Commentary may perhaps seem unnecessary; but an industrious reader will, I trust, not find them useless. In accordance with the same principles, I have been careful (wherever it was possible) to use the very words of the author cited. Brevity has also been much studied. Care has been taken to avoid all reflections, disquisitions, or phrases, which did not seem absolutely requisite. In some places the style may consequently appear dry, and the transitions somewhat abrupt; but the reader will, it is hoped, attribute this to a desire of not occupying his time a moment longer than necessary. For the same reason some matters have been thrown into the notes, and there treated in the form of a mere summary of authorities and arguIllents. Nothing has been a greater object of solicitude to me than the propounding of what I believe to be the only sound principles on which the doctrine of the connexion of Church and State can be grounded. It has been too much the practice of lawyers to speak and write as if they considered the Church visible, or at least its hierarchy, as a mere creature of the tem

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