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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Is inserted or abridged in the Pandects


the maxims of Cato [148] were revered, they tended to perpetuate in each family a just and virtuous mediocrity: till female blandishments insensibly triumphed; and every salutary restraint was lost in the dissolute greatness of the republic. The rigor of the decemvirs was tempered by the equity of the praetors. Their edicts restored and emancipated posthumous children to the rights of nature; and upon the failure of the agnats, they preferred the blood of the cognats to the name of the gentiles whose title and character were insensibly covered with oblivion. The reciprocal inheritance of mothers and sons was established in the Tertullian and Orphitian decrees by the humanity of the senate. A new and more impartial order was introduced by the Novels of Justinian, who affected to revive the jurisprudence of the Twelve Tables. The lines of masculine and female kindred were confounded: the descending, ascending, and collateral series was accurately defined; and each degree, according tot he proximity of blood and affection, succeeded to the vacant possessions of a Roman citizen. [149]

[Footnote 143: Among the patriarchs, the first-born enjoyed a mystic and spiritual primogeniture, (Genesis, xxv. 31.) In the land of Canaan, he was entitled to a double portion of inheritance, (Deuteronomy, xxi. 17, with Le Clerc's judicious Commentary.)]

[Footnote 144: At Athens, the sons were equal; but the poor daughters were endowed

at the discretion of their brothers. See the pleadings of Isaeus, (in the viith volume of the Greek Orators,) illustrated by the version and comment of Sir William Jones, a scholar, a lawyer, and a man of genius.]

[Footnote 145: In England, the eldest son also inherits all the land; a law, says the orthodox Judge Blackstone, (Commentaries on the Laws of England, vol. ii. p. 215,) unjust only in the opinion of younger brothers. It may be of some political use in sharpening their industry.]

[Footnote 146: Blackstone's Tables (vol. ii. p. 202) represent and compare the decrees of the civil with those of the canon and common law. A separate tract of Julius Paulus, de gradibus et affinibus, is inserted or abridged in the Pandects, (l. xxxviii. tit. x.) In the viith degrees he computes (No. 18) 1024 persons.]

[Footnote 147: The Voconian law was enacted in the year of Rome 584. The younger Scipio, who was then 17 years of age, (Frenshemius, Supplement. Livian. xlvi. 40,) found an occasion of exercising his generosity to his mother, sisters, &c. (Polybius, tom. ii. l. xxxi. p. 1453--1464, edit Gronov., a domestic witness.)]

[Footnote 148: Legem Voconiam (Ernesti, Clavis Ciceroniana) magna voce bonis lateribus (at lxv. years of age) suasissem, says old Cato, (de Senectute, c. 5,) Aulus Gellius (vii. 13, xvii. 6) has saved some passages.]

[Footnote 149: See the law of succession in the Institutes of Caius, (l. ii. tit. viii. p. 130--144,) and Justinian, (l. iii. tit. i.--vi., with the Greek version of Theophilus, p. 515-575, 588--600,) the Pandects, (l. xxxviii. tit. vi.--xvii.,) the Code, (l. vi. tit. lv.--lx.,) and the Novels, (cxviii.)]

The order of succession is regulated by nature, or at least by the general and permanent reason of the lawgiver: but this order is frequently violated by the arbitrary and partial wills, which prolong the dominion of the testator beyond the grave. [150] In the simple state of society, this last use or abuse of the right of property is seldom indulged: it was introduced at Athens by the laws of Solon; and the private testaments of the father of a family are authorized by the Twelve Tables. Before the time of the decemvirs,

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