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PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION,
So sensible is every lawyer of the importance of the law relating to the Limitations of Actions and Suits, of the frequent occurrence, at the present day, of occasion to investigate it, and of the want of any late general work on the subject, that it is only necessary, it is presumed, to advert to these facts for an apology for submitting such a work to the public. In preparing the following, the design of the author has been both to afford instruction to the student, and subserve the convenience of the practitioner. Although it is entitled “a second edition,” it is in all respects a new, as well as much enlarged work. The adoption of a different method in treating of the subject, the author hopes, and is induced to believe, will be deemed an improvement, by those who may have recourse to the present, and have had an acquaintance with the past, editions. What is of more importance, the present Treatise is in a very great measure a fresh production as relates to the matter, it having been much extended by new references to, and illustrations of, the law as accumulated by later adjudged cases.
The Appendix is valuable as containing the results of later and more enlightened and suitable legislative action. It embraces late Revised Acts of Limitations of the old
States, and Acts on the same subject promulgated by new States; the late English Act of 3 & 4 Will. IV. c. 27; the Act of 9 Geo. IV. requiring all acknowledgments of debts and new promises to be in writing, and Acts, with like provisions, of some of our States. These Acts are referred to from time to time in the course of the Treatise, as occasion renders proper; and so, also, have decisions under them in like manner received attention.
The above-mentioned Act of 3 & 4 Will. IV. is entitled, “An Act for the Limitations of Actions relating to Real Property, and for simplifying the Remedies for trying the Rights thereto," and was intended to be adapted to the modern state of society. To this end, it has effected a no less desirable, than radical, change in the law of Real Actions, by their almost entire abolition; and a change in the law of possession, by rendering it in positive terms, the means of the extinguishment of title, at the end of the period of limitation. The old statutes of limitations do not, in terms, apply to Courts of Equity, though equitable titles have uniformly been held to be affected in analogy to those statutes. But the provis. ions of this Act have the effect of making imperative on Courts of Equity what they had before done at discretion. The provisions, many of them, are very special, and by some have been thought difficult of construction." In reference to the Act in general, it has been justly remarked by a very learned English writer, “ that it is seldom possible to understand a law which repeals a former, and substitutes new provisions, unless we have
" See Smythe's Landlord and Tenant in Ireland.
a coñpetent knowledge of the law repealed." This competent knowledge it has been the aim of the author of the following work to afford, by giving the statutes of 32 Henry VIII. and of 21 James I. in the Appendix, and by reference to their settled judicial construction, in the Treatise. Besides which, the Act in question is followed in the Appendix by an analysis of it, accompanied by comments and references to a considerable number of cases explanatory of its text; and for this the author has been indebted to an English publication of merit, entitled, “ Browne on Actions at Law.”
The following work is in like manner, as it were, an introduction to such changes as will be found made by the Revised Statutes of Limitations of some of our
PROVIDENCE, April 1, 1846.