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(3.) The Digest, or Pandects, is a vast abridgment, in Pandects. fifty books, of the decisions of prætors, and the writings and opinions of the ancient sages of the law. This is the work which has principally excited the study, and reflections, and commentaries, of succeeding ages. It is supposed to contain the embodied wisdom of the Roman people in civil jurisprudence for near 1200 years; and the European world has ever since had recourse to it for authority and direction upon public law, and for the exposition of the principles of natural justice. The most authentic and interesting information concerning the compilation of the Pandects, is to be found in the ordinances of Justinian, prefixed, by way of prefaces, to the work itself.
In the first ordinance addressed by Justinian to his quæstor Tribonian, he directs him and his associates to read and correct the books which had been written by authority upon the Roman law, and to extract from them a body of jurisprudence in which there should be no two laws contradictory or alike, and that the collection should be a substitute for all former works; that the compilation should be made in fifty books, and digested upon the plan of the perpetual edict, and contain all that is worth having in the Roman law for the preceding 1400 years, so that it might
tus, and in 62 out of 251 pages iterum rescriptus. The original text had, during the dark ages, been obliterated for other matter, which, in its turn, was supplanted by the Epistles of St. Jerome. The original work was restored to the world by the skill and perseverance of Professors Göschen, Bakker, and Hollweg, of Berlin, who, upon Niebuhr's report, went to Verona. The work appeared for the first time in 1820. It awakened renewed zeal, bordering on enthusiasm, in Germany, for the study of the civil law. It led to dissertations from every quarter, and M. Boulet, in the preface to his French translation of Gaius's Institutes, says, that no work ever produced a more remarkable revolution in the study of the Roman law. Institutes de Gaius, par J. B. E. Boulet, Pref. Professor Hugo makes great use of the Institutes of Gaius, as shedding new and bright light on many branches of the civil law. See Histoire de Droit Romain, par G. Hugo, sec. 329.—et passim.
thereafter be regarded as the temple and sanctuary of justice. He directed, that the selection be made from the civilians, and the laws then in force, with such discretion and sagacity as to produce in the result a perfect and immorta) work. And, in the anticipation of the result, he declared, that no commentaries were to be made upon the digest, as it had been found that the contradictions of expositors had disturbed the whole body of the ancient law.
In about three years after the publication of this first ordinance, Justinian issued another upon the completion of the work. In the latter ordinance, addressed to the senate and people, he declared that he had reduced the jurispradence of the empire within reasonable limits, and within the power of all persons to possess at a moderate price, and without the necessity of expending a fortune in acquiring useless volumes of laws. 'He stated, that in the compilation of the Pandects, Tribonian and his associates had drawn from authors of such antiquity that their names were unknown to the learned of that age. If defects should be discovered, recourse must be had to the emperor ; and he pointedly prohibited all persons to have any further recourse to the ancient laws, or to institute any comparison between them and the new compilation. And to prevent the system from being disfigured and disordered by the glosses of interpreters, he declared, that no citations were to be made from any other books than the Institutes, the Pandects, and the Code; and that no commentaries were to be made upon them, upon pain of being subjected to the charge of the crimen falsi, and to have the commentaries destroyed.
The Pandects are supposed to have been compiled with too much haste, and they were very defective in precision and methodical arrangement. The emperor allowed ten years, and Tribonian and his sixteen colleagues finished the work in three years. It'is said that the Pandects were composed of the writings of forty civilians, the principal part of whom lived under the latter Cæsars; and the doctrines only, and not the names of the more ancient sages, were preserved. If the work had been executed with the care and leisure that Justinian intended, it would have been an incomparable monument of human wisdom. There are, as it is, a great many contradictory doctrines and opinions in the compilation on the same subject, and too much of that very uncertainty which Justinian was so solicitous to avoid. But with all its errors and imperfections, the Pandects are the greatest repository of sound legal principles, applied to the private rights and business of mankind, that has ever appeared in any age or nation. Justinian has given it the venerable appellation of the temple of human justice. The excellent doctrines, and the enlightened equity which pervade the work, were derived from the ancient sages, who were generally men of distinguished patriotism, and sustained the most unblemished character, and had frequently been advanced to the highest offices in the administration of the government. The names of Gaius, Scævola, Papinian, Ulpian, Paulus, and Modestinus, may be selected from a multitude of civilians, as models of exalted virtue, and of the most cultivated reason and philosophy, drawn from the precepts and examples of freer and better ages. It is owing to their writings that the civil law, for the purity and vigour of its style, almost rivals the productions of the Augustan age.
a Professor Hugo concludes that the compilers of the Pandects had never seen the original writings of Mucius Scævola, though they are referred to as if they had really been read and consulted. Hist. du Droit Rom. sec. 320. He is further of opinion that the merit of the order which is so visible in the civil law, is to be attributed to Servius Sulpicius, the friend of Cicero. Ibid. sec. 322.
b According to Hommel, a writer cited by Professor Hugo, of the 1800 pages of which the Pandects are composed, 600 were taken from the writings of Ulpian, 300 from Paulus, 100 from Papinian, 90 from Julian, 78 from Scævola, 72 from Pomponius, 70 from Gaius, 41 from Modestinus, and so on to other civilians of less noto in diminished proportions.
Xorele. (4.) The novels of Justinian are a collection of new im
perial statutes, which constitute a part of the body of the civil law. Those ordinances were passed subsequent to the date of the code, and had been required in the course of a long reign, and by the exigencies of succeeding times. They were made to supply the omissions and correct the errors of the preceding publications; and they are said by competent judges to show the declining taste of the age, and to want much of that brevity, dignity, perspicuity, and elegance, which distinguished the juridical compositions of the ancients. Some of these novels are of great utility, and particularly the 118th novel, which is the groundwork of the English and our statute of distribution of intestates' effects. The institutes, code, and pandects were afterwards translated into Greek, and the novels were generally composed in that language, which had become the vernacular tongue of the eastern empire; and as evidence of the universality of that tongue, Justinian declared, that one of his constitutions was composed in the Greek language, for the
benefit of all nations. Loss of the When the body of the civil law, as contained in the Insti
tutes, the Pandects, and the Code, was ratified and confirmed by Justinian, it became exclusively the law of the land; and the various texts from which the compilation was made, fell speedily into oblivion; and all of them, except the Theodosian code, and fragments of the other parts, disappeared
a Sir William Blackstone, Com. vol. 2. 516. does not seem willing to admit that the statute of distributions was taken from the civil law; but when Lord Holt and Sir Joseph Jekyll declare, (1 P. #ms. 27. Prec. in Chan. 593.) that the statute was penned by a civilian, and is to be governed and construed by the rules of the civil law; and when we compare the provisions in the English statute with the Roman novel, the conclusion seems to be very fair and very strong, that the one was borrowed essentially from the other.
b Inst. 3. 8. 3.
in the wreck of the empire. The great work itself was in danger of being involved in the general destruction which attended the irruption of the northern barbarians into the southern provinces of Europe. The civil law maintained its ground a long time at Ravenna and in the Illyrian borders; but all Italy passed at length under the laws, as well as under the yoke of the barbarians ;-belluinas, atque ferinas immanesque Longobardorum leges accepit."
There was but one circumstance that could give any thing like compensation to the inhabitants of Europe for the absence or silence of the civil law, during the violence and confusion of the feudal ages; and that circumstance was the redeeming spirit of civil and political liberty, which pervaded the Gothic institutions, and tempered the fierceness of military governments, by the bold outlines and rough sketches of popular representation. It was an indelible and foul blot on
« Pothier, in the preface to his Pandectæ Justinianeæ, has given a rapid view of the progress of the Roman jurisprudence from the Jus Civile Papyrianum, under Tarquinius-Priscus to the time of Justinian, and an interesting sketch of the series of Roman lawyers from the earliest notice of them, far beyond the age of Cicero, down to the compilation of the Pandects. And notwithstanding the efforts of Justinian to supereede and destroy the admirable materials of the civil law, from which he was enabled to erect the splendid and ever-during monument of his reign, yet from the remains of the works of the civilians there has been compiled the Jus Civile ante-Justinianeum, which is a collection of great interest and currency on the continent of Europe. It has now received an addition of the utmost value in the newly-discovered Institutions of Gaius.
b Gravina de Ortu et Prog. Jur. Civ. sec. 139. The law school at Rome was transferred to Ravenna, where it existed even in the Hth century, and was then removed to Bologna.
c The German nations were associations of freemen prior to their invasion of the Roman empire, and their governments were mixed, or limited and elective monarchies, which continued to exist for a time, even after they had established themselves by conquest in the Roman provinces. All the Gothic governments in Europe, whether in Germany, France, Spain, or England, were originally un