14 APRIL 1866, Page 21


The Student's Blackstone. By Robert Malcolm Kerr, LL.D. (John Murray.)--This abridgment professes to be a concise outline of the whole law of England. Nurses do not give compressed meat or pemmi- can to babies, nor would a cat with proper feelings bring its kitten the tail of the extinct English black rat for its first meal, and we fear com- pressed Blackstone will prove too indigestible for babes in jurisprudence. For supporting life over the deserts of Circuit portable law of this kind may possibly come in usefully, but hardly for the well-stored pupil- room. Indeed Blackstone unabridged is for the most part already too condensed to be a good and intelligible beginning book in law, just as Hallam would be unsuitable for beginners in English history, but as it is exceedingly accurate and contains the authorities for all its statements, it is very valuable for reference, especially upon any point involving recurrence to fundamental principles. The Student's Blackstone, as it cites no authorities, is of comparatively little use for this purpose. Nor does it even enunciate clearly the bare principles of law of which it treats, so as to be like a Euclid of general enunciations, without proofs or figures. In treating of the law of defamation, for instance, which is very simple, and admits of being stated concisely in a very few propositions, it rambles over two pages, giving instances of what has been held to be, and what to be not defamatory, without any clear statement of the simple principles governing them. Mach labour and pains must have been spent on the compilation, with but inadequate result. Still there is unquestionably a great deal of information, especially on constitutional law, in a very small compass, which may be a considerable assistance, if not to lawyers embryo or adult, at least to political speakers and writers. There is an index of exemplary copiousness.