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By WILLIAM C. SPRAGUE, A. B., LL. B.
PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION.
This Abridgment was prepared for the use of the pupils of The Sprague Correspondence School of Law, and was made with special reference to the needs of persons who are entering upon the study of the law, and of such as are reviewing^the Commentaries.
The plan has been to omit the greater part of the obsolete, historical, and argumentative matter; to print in type smaller than that of the text, comments upon such matter as is omitted, or brief statements of such matter; to separate and emphasize the divisions of the text by "side heads;" and to give synopses where it is important that the student should have a condensed and connected view of the book, chapter or section. A short life of Sir William Blackstone precedes the text, and translations of the Latin and French occurring in the text, a short bibliography of the Commentaries, and a table of the important dates in the history of English Law follow it
William C. Spracue.
Detroit, Mich., May ist, 1892.
Life of Sir William Blackstone.
Sir William Blackstone was born at Cheapside, Parish of St. Michael le Querne, July 10, 1723. He died at Wallingford, February 14, 1780. His father, Charles Blackstone, citizen and silk man of London, died before he was born, and he lost his mother at the early age of eleven. He was thus thrown upon the care of his maternal uncle, Dr. Thomas Bigg, an eminent surgeon of" London.
In 1730, William, then about seven years old, was put to school at the Charter House; and in 1735 was, by the nomination of Sir Robert Walpole, admitted as a scholar upon its foundation. He is said to have been studious and exemplary in his habits and to have gained the favor of his masters. At the age of fifteen he was at the head of the school, and was thought sufficiently advanced to be removed to the University; and he was accordingly entered a commoner at Pembroke College, in Oxford, on the 30th of November, 1738.. He was, however, allowed to remain at school until after the 12th of December, the anniversary commemoration of the foundation of the Charter House, in order that he might deliver the customary oration in honor of Richard Sutton—by which he gained great applause.
Having chosen the profession of the law, he was, on the 20th of November, 1741, being then eighteen, entered in the Middle Temple. Blackstone had given considerable attention to literature, and had produced verses of some merit, but now, recognizing that "the law is a jealous mistress," he determined to become one of her most assiduous devotees, and wrote "A Lawyer's Farewell to His Music," in which he gave utterance to the regret with which he abandoned the pleasing pursuits of youth for severer studies.
The course at the Temple was very loose and crude, and we are not told under whose advice or by whose direction Blackstone pursued his studies, but we may conjecture that he began with Finch, and then waded through the mazes of Coke upon Littleton, Bracton, Glanvil, Fleta, and the reports. Chief Justice Sharswood said: "The young student little thought that, in the design of Providence, he was the engineer selected to make a new road through this wild and almost impassable country, and that he would do so with so much skill and judgment, and at the same time adorn its sides and environs with so green and rich a land