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I HAVE devoted more than three years to the attempt to bring this work down through the quarter of a century which has elapsed since the author's death.

While it has been in progress I have tried to keep the various subjects before my mind, so far as to see the bearing upon them of any new decision in this country or in England. Almost all my more important notes have been partially or wholly rewritten - many of them more than once - in the light of cases which have appeared since their first preparation ; and every case cited has been carefully examined in the original report. In order to avoid encumbering the text with frequent interruptions and an unmanageable body of notes, the additions to each of the author's subdivisions have generally been compressed into one subordinate essay. Great care has been taken to insert nothing which does not contribute to the main current of the discussion, to condense as far as possible what has been inserted, and to make each of the more important notes a whole in itself when that could be done without repetition. The contents of the notes are indicated by italicized headings. The notes which have been added to former editions since the author's death have not been retained, with the exception of one by Mr. Justice Kent, the Chancellor's son, and several by the last and very able editor, Judge Comstock. These are enclosed in brackets, and marked with the initials of the authors. The large store of materials which has been collected since the sixth edition has not been neglected, however, and has often furnished valuable cases not to be found elsewhere.

The great weight attaching to any opinion of Chancellor Kent has been deemed a sufficient reason for not attempting any alteration in his text or notes. To insure accuracy, this edition has been printed from the eleventh, and then read with the sixth, which contained the author's last corrections. The original text has been scrupulously restored, except that whenever a difference between the proofs and the sixth edition has occurred in a citation, it has been corrected in the proper abbreviated form. In this way a large proportion of the author's citations has been verified ; and it is believed tbat the present revision, together with the care which former editors have bestowed, has insured their accuracy.

In order to make the author's arrangement clear, the principal headings into which be divides each chapter are distinguished by full-faced type ; the subordinate heads are printed in italics; and when, as happens in a few chapters, these are again subdivided, the heads of the last subdivisions are also printed in italics, but enclosed in brackets.

The star paging, which is that of the second edition, and by which the book ought always to be cited, is put at the top of the page. It has been thought advisable to present the cases cited in the four volumes in one table, for the same reason that one index is better than four.

I wish to express my gratitude to my friend, JAMES B. THAYER, Esq., upon whom has rested the whole responsibility for my work to the owners of the copyright. He has read all that I have written, and has given it the great benefit of his scholarly and intelligent criticism. I have further to acknowledge the valuable aid which my friends, HENRY PARKMAN and JOSEPH B. WARNER, have given me by selecting from the cases cited in the eleventh edition most of those which have been added in brackets [ ] to the author's notes in the fourth volume. Mr. PARKMAN has also made, under my supervision, such additions as were necessary to the index.

0. W. HOLMES, JR. OCTOBER 3, 1873.

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HAVING retired from public office in the summer of 1823, I had the honor to receive the appointment of Professor of Law in Columbia College. The trustees of that institution have repeatedly given me the most liberal and encouraging proofs of their respect and confidence, and of which I shall ever retain a grateful recollection. A similar appointment was received from them in the year 1793; and this renewed mark of their approbation determined me to employ the entire leisure, in which I found myself, in further endeavors to discharge the debt which, according to Lord Bacon, every man owes to his profession. I was strongly induced to accept the trust, from want of occupation; being apprehensive that the sudden cessation of my habitual employment,' and the contrast between the discussions of the forum and the solitude of retirement might be unpropitious to my health and spirits, and cast a premature shade over the happiness of declining years.

The following Lectures are the fruit of the acceptance of that trust; and, in the performance of my collegiate duty, I had the satisfaction to meet a collection of interesting young gentlemen, of fine talents and pure character, who placed themselves under my instruction, and in whose future welfare a deep interest is felt.

1 I was appointed Recorder of New York in March, 1797, and from that time until August, 1823, I was constantly employed in judicial duties.

Having been encouraged to suppose that the publication of the Lectures might render them more extensively useful, I have been induced to submit the present volume to the notice of students, and of the junior members of the profession, for whose use they were originally compiled. Another volume is wanting, to embrace all the material parts of the Lectures which have been composed. It will treat, at large, and in an elementary manner,

of the law of property, and of personal rights and commercial contracts; and will be prepared for the press in the course of the ensuing year, unless, in the mean time, there should be reason to apprehend that another volume would be trespassing too far upon the patience and indulgence of the public.

New York, November 23, 1826.



WHEN the first volume of these Commentaries was published, it was hoped and expected that a second would be sufficient to include the remainder of the Lectures which had been delivered in Columbia College. But, in revising them for the press, some parts required to be suppressed, others to be considerably enlarged, and the arrangement of the whole to be altered and improved. A third volume has accordingly become requisite,' to embrace that remaining portion of the work which treats of commercial law, and of the doctrines of real estates, and the incorporeal rights and privileges incident to them.

It is probable that, in some instances, I may have been led into more detail than may be thought consistent with the plan of the publication. My apology is to be found in the difficulty of being really useful on some branches of the law, without going far into practical illustrations, and stating, as far as I was able, with precision and accuracy, the established distinctions. Such a detail, however, has been, and will hereafter be, avoided as much as possible ; for the knowledge that is intended to be communicated in these volumes is believed to be, in most cases, of general application, and is of that elementary kind, which is not only essential to every person who pursues the science of the law as a practical profession, but is deemed

1 This appeared in 1828, and a fourth volume was required, and appeared

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