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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Savigny has been translated into English by Mr


[Footnote

52: In his Oration for Murena, (c. 9--13,) Cicero turns into ridicule the forms and mysteries of the civilians, which are represented with more candor by Aulus Gellius, (Noct. Attic. xx. 10,) Gravina, (Opp p. 265, 266, 267,) and Heineccius, (Antiquitat. l. iv. tit. vi.) * Note: Gibbon had conceived opinions too decided against the forms of procedure in use among the Romans. Yet it is on these solemn forms that the certainty of laws has been founded among all nations. Those of the Romans were very intimately allied with the ancient religion, and must of necessity have disappeared as Rome attained a higher degree of civilization. Have not modern nations, even the most civilized, overloaded their laws with a thousand forms, often absurd, almost always trivial? How many examples are afforded by the English law! See, on the nature of these forms, the work of M. de Savigny on the Vocation of our Age for Legislation and Jurisprudence, Heidelberg, 1814, p. 9, 10.--W. This work of M. Savigny has been translated into English by Mr. Hayward.--M.]

A more liberal art was cultivated, however, by the sage of Rome, who, in a stricter sense, may be considered as the authors of the civil law. The alteration of the idiom and manners of the Romans rendered the style of the Twelve Tables less familiar to each rising generation, and the doubtful passages were imperfectly explained by the study of legal antiquarians. To define the ambiguities, to circumscribe the latitude,

to apply the principles, to extend the consequences, to reconcile the real or apparent contradictions, was a much nobler and more important task; and the province of legislation was silently invaded by the expounders of ancient statutes. Their subtle interpretations concurred with the equity of the praetor, to reform the tyranny of the darker ages: however strange or intricate the means, it was the aim of artificial jurisprudence to restore the simple dictates of nature and reason, and the skill of private citizens was usefully employed to undermine the public institutions of their country. [521] The revolution of almost one thousand years, from the Twelve Tables to the reign of Justinian, may be divided into three periods, almost equal in duration, and distinguished from each other by the mode of instruction and the character of the civilians. [53] Pride and ignorance contributed, during the first period, to confine within narrow limits the science of the Roman law. On the public days of market or assembly, the masters of the art were seen walking in the forum ready to impart the needful advice to the meanest of their fellow-citizens, from whose votes, on a future occasion, they might solicit a grateful return. As their years and honors increased, they seated themselves at home on a chair or throne, to expect with patient gravity the visits of their clients, who at the dawn of day, from the town and country, began to thunder at their door. The duties of social life, and the incidents of judicial proceeding, were the ordinary subject of these consultations, and the verbal or written opinion of the juris-consults was framed according to the rules of prudence and law. The youths of their own order and family were permitted to listen; their children enjoyed the benefit of more private lessons, and the Mucian race was long renowned for the hereditary


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