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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Jubet id lex furtum manifestum esse

by the breaking of a branch;

the clinched fist was the symbol of a pledge or deposit; the right hand was the gift of faith and confidence. The indenture of covenants was a broken straw; weights and scales were introduced into every payment, and the heir who accepted a testament was sometimes obliged to snap his fingers, to cast away his garments, and to leap or dance with real or affected transport. [50] If a citizen pursued any stolen goods into a neighbor's house, he concealed his nakedness with a linen towel, and hid his face with a mask or basin, lest he should encounter the eyes of a virgin or a matron. [51] In a civil action the plaintiff touched the ear of his witness, seized his reluctant adversary by the neck, and implored, in solemn lamentation, the aid of his fellow-citizens. The two competitors grasped each other's hand as if they stood prepared for combat before the tribunal of the praetor; he commanded them to produce the object of the dispute; they went, they returned with measured steps, and a clod of earth was cast at his feet to represent the field for which they contended. This occult science of the words and actions of law was the inheritance of the pontiffs and patricians. Like the Chaldean astrologers, they announced to their clients the days of business and repose; these important trifles were interwoven with the religion of Numa; and after the publication of the Twelve Tables, the Roman people was still enslaved by the ignorance of judicial proceedings. The treachery of some plebeian
officers at length revealed the profitable mystery: in a more enlightened age, the legal actions were derided and observed; and the same antiquity which sanctified the practice, obliterated the use and meaning of this primitive language. [52]

[Footnote 49: Scaevola, most probably Q. Cervidius Scaevola; the master of Papinian considers this acceptance of fire and water as the essence of marriage, (Pandect. l. xxiv. tit. 1, leg. 66. See Heineccius, Hist. J. R. No. 317.)]

[Footnote 50: Cicero (de Officiis, iii. 19) may state an ideal case, but St. Am brose (de Officiis, iii. 2,) appeals to the practice of his own times, which he understood as a lawyer and a magistrate, (Schulting ad Ulpian, Fragment. tit. xxii. No. 28, p. 643, 644.) * Note: In this passage the author has endeavored to collect all the examples of judicial formularies which he could find. That which he adduces as the form of cretio haereditatis is absolutely false. It is sufficient to glance at the passage in Cicero which he cites, to see that it has no relation to it. The author appeals to the opinion of Schulting, who, in the passage quoted, himself protests against the ridiculous and absurd interpretation of the passage in Cicero, and observes that Graevius had already well explained the real sense. See in Gaius the form of cretio haereditatis Inst. l. ii. p. 166.--W.]

[Footnote 51: The furtum lance licioque conceptum was no longer understood in the time of the Antonines, (Aulus Gellius, xvi. 10.) The Attic derivation of Heineccius, (Antiquitat. Rom. l. iv. tit. i. No. 13--21) is supported by the evidence of Aristophanes, his scholiast, and Pollux. * Note: Nothing more is known of this ceremony; nevertheless we find that already in his own days Gaius turned it into ridicule. He says, (lib. iii. et p. 192, Sections 293,) prohibiti actio quadrupli ex edicto praetoris introducta est; lex autem eo nomine nullam poenam constituit. Hoc solum praecepit, ut qui quaerere velit, nudus quaerat, linteo cinctus, lancem habens; qui si quid invenerit. jubet id lex furtum manifestum esse. Quid sit autem linteum? quaesitum est. Sed verius est consuti genus esse, quo necessariae partes tegerentur. Quare lex tota ridicula est. Nam qui vestitum quaerere prohibet, is et nudum quaerere prohibiturus est; eo magis, quod invenerit ibi imponat, neutrum eorum procedit, si id quod quaeratur, ejus magnitudinis aut naturae sit ut neque subjici, neque ibi imponi possit. Certe non dubitatur, cujuscunque materiae sit ea lanx, satis legi fieri. We see moreover, from this passage, that the basin, as most authors, resting on the authority of Festus, have supposed, was not used to cover the figure.--W. Gibbon says the face, though equally inaccurately. This passage of Gaius, I must observe, as well as others in M. Warnkonig's work, is very inaccurately printed.--M.]

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