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mission they desired, the editors commenced their task; the place of Bekker, who was compelled by other literary occupations to relinquish that duty, was supplied by Professor Hollweg, who had volunteered his valuable assistance, and the manuscript was transcribed almost entirely; somewhat less than one-ninih part of the whole alone, being found unreadable. On their return, the transcript was submitted to the Royal Academy; and although it was evidently desirable that the copy should be again collated with the manuscript, especially as the effect of the galls in restoring the ancient writing is wonderfully aided by time, yet, to satisfy the curiosity of the learned, and the expectation of antique jurisprudentiæ cultores,' the Academy wisely determined to publish immediately such an edition as they were able, and at the same time to make preparations for a more perfect one. Gaius accordingly first appeared at Berlin in the year 1820.
The learned editors give a curious and ample description of the manuscript. It consists of 127 leaves : the latter writing is in uncial letters, and is of considerable antiquity; it contains some of the works of St Jerome, chiefly his epistles, of which there are 26; traces of the former writing were observed throughout nearly the whole volume. The ancient writing is of two kinds; the one is remarkable for its antiquity and eleganceit extends through the whole manuscript, and is that in which the Institutions are written; the other kind is intermediate, that is, it is written over the most ancient, but under the last. It had superseded Gaius, therefore, but yielded in its turn to the present occupier of the parchment; so that a fourth part of the manuscript has been thrice written upon, the contents of that part have been twice erased, or, according to the etymology, it has been thrice rubbed or polished-once in its virgin state to fit it for the reception of Gaius; a second time to prepare it for St Jerome, the intermediate writing also consisting of his epistles and other works; and finally, a third time, after this intermediate writing had been removed, that other works of the same holy father might be inscribed! The intermediate writing is in uncial letters also, but it is inferior to the most ancient and original characters, in which Gaius is preserved, in elegance, and very nearly approaches the last, and greatly resembles it. It is satisfactory to find that many of the pages which had been written upon thrice are amongst the most complete; and as the lines were always placed immediately upon one another and on the same part of the parchment, the difficulty of deciphering the original writing was often very considerable, in consequence of the confusion of the letters, which were entangled together and intermixed; a more unfavourable case, therefore, could hardly exist. In the course of these successive erasures, the order of the leaves was necessarily greatly disturbed ; their confusion is very clearly explained. The characters are thought to resemble those of the most famous manuscript in the world—the Florentine Pandects, except that they are said to be more handsome, and that abbreviations, which are extremely rare in the Pandects, are very abundant in Gaius.
The original manuscript is not entitled in any part; so that the burden is cast upon the learned editors of proving that the ancient characters, which they have copied with so much pains, do in truth contain those celebrated Institutions. The general presumption is certainly against them; for German critics are equally apt to believe, and to disbelieve, injudiciously; to be strangely credulous, and whimsically sceptical. All men, therefore, of cool judgment, who have had any experience in Teutonic theories, Teutonic discoveries, and Teutonic crotchets, and have thus been forced to speak paradoxically of a paradoxical people, and to say that the most ingenious, veracious, and sincere nation in the world are the least to be believed or confided in, will be apt to cling, with some obstinacy, to the notion, that whatever the Germans have demonstrated, with much erudition, and unanswerable arguments, must be, in very truth cannot be. In order to rebut the presumption that arises against the genuineness of the Institutions, from the fact of Niebuhr, V. Savigny, and a host of most illustrious and deeply learned critics, believing them to be genuine, the editors bring three arguments : First, they assert, that there is a remarkable agreement between these Institutions and those of Justinian, which are known to have been chiefly derived from them; it not being so great, however, as to induce the supposition that these are little more than a mere copy of the others, particularly since these contain, as they affirm, a great number of the rules of the more ancient law, which are omitted in the imperial Institutions, as being inapplicable to latter times. Secondly, they assert, that if the present work be compared with the epitome of the Institutions of Gaius, which was made by the authors of the Breviarium Alaricianum, it will appear manifestly to be the source whence that epitome was derived. Thirdly, and it is upon this argument that they mainly rely; they say, that in this work are to be found nearly all the passages that are cited from Gaius in the Pandects and the Collatio Mosaicarum et Romanarum Legum,' and also by Boëthius and Priscian; a list of these passages is subjoined. To enable the reader to decide upon this difficult question, it would be necessary to enter into a minute and detailed examination of the several passages which are adduced, and this would evidently be foreign to our present purpose. The learned editors, however, are quite satisfied with their proofs; and thus express their firm conviction ;~'Quæ cum ita sint, nulla relin
quitur dubitatio, quin membranæ nostræ genuinas Gaii Insti'tutiones offerant; neque tamen illas integras, ut ex eo quod proxiniè monui apparet. Unde nunc diligenter inquirendum est, quanta primitivi codicis pars deperdita habenda sit.' They decide that three leaves only are wanting ; but as they speak only of those cases where the leaf itself is actually absent, without noticing that several pages are nearly illegible, although the parchment on which they were written is corporeally present, and that there are many lacune, we take it to be certain that we cannot read one-sixth, or perhaps one-fifth part of the whole work. It is creditable to the literary curiosity of Germany that the first edition was immediately sold off. Bluhm paid another visit to Verona, and examined the manuscript with great care; and the fruits of his labours appeared in the edition which was published in 1824. The fragment 'De Jure Fisci’ is a wretched scrap.
As to the age of the original manuscript, Niebuhr gave his opinion early, that it was older than the time of Justinian ; Kopp, of whom we have before spoken, was of the same opinion, and wrote upon the subject; and alleged his reasons, which are these :-First, the form of the letters, and the nature and frequency of the Tigla, with which we may suppose that he is familiar. Secondly, • Quod initialis cujusque pagine • littera, licet in medio aliquo verbo collocata, reliquis major esse
deprehenditur.' This practice resembles that which is observed in engrossing our deeds, except that the scribes of those days were content to enlarge one letter to show that it was the first of the page, and that nothing was wanting; while in our deeds the whole of the first word of each skin of parchment is made of a larger size than the rest, although it be but some insignificant conjunction, as but, and, also. Thirdly, he does not think it probable that, after the time of Justinian, any one would take the trouble to make a copy of the Institutions of Gaius, which were superseded by those of the Emperor. Of the first and second reasons skilful diplomatists will judge; the last argument is refuted by the anxiety of the learned Prussians to procure a transcript, under circumstances of extraordinary difficulty. A third edition of Gaius appeared at Leipsic in 1825, without the notes of Goeschen, and the modern orthography has been adopted in place of the ancient, which was religiously retained in the editions of Berlin.
As to the French version, the translator informs us that Gaius was somewhat late in attracting attention in France. In that country learned lawyers were once abundant-at present they are very scarce. When the priest was dislodged, the soldier took his place, and if things were somewhat improved on the whole, they were not so much better as sanguine persons had hoped they would be. M. Boulet speaks with extreme diffidence of his expectations from the scholarship of his countrymen. • J'ai tenté de traduire ces Commentaires, parce que j'ai 'cru que c'étoit le meilleur moyen de les répandre; non que je
pense que jamais une traduction puisse tenir lieu du texte: à • Dieu ne plaise ! Il serait, sans doute, à desirer que les éleves n'eussent pas besoin de ce secours ; mais toujours il est vrai que, pour ceux qui ne sauraient s'en passer, il vaut mieux qu'ils • étudient Gaius, non dans la traduction, mais au moyen de la
traduction, que de ne pas l'étudier du tout. He has accordingly printed the Latin text on the left hand, and the French version on the right; and produced a work, the aspect of which brings to mind the unpleasant remembrance of those editions of some of the easier Latin classics that have been put forth by dissenting schoolmasters, and other masters of private academies, as stumbling-blocks and impediments thrown down in the path of learning. The notes of the translator are small in bulk, and trifling and unimportant in substance.
It has long been a vexed and vexing question, who Gaius was, and when he lived? The learned person, who has considered the subject most fully, decides, that he was born under Adrianthat he began to write at the end of the reign of Antoninus Pius -that he was most famous under M. Aurelius—and very probably died under Commodus. Perhaps the best account of him is given by the admirable and exquisite Gravina, who sums up all that is known of him in two words :- Scripsit autem ille,
quisquis fuerit, institutiones, unde suas magnam in partem depromsit Justinianus,' &c. The only satisfactory biography of this jurisconsult, although the Germans will not believe it, is
quisquis fuerit.' Justinian acknowledges his obligations to bim, in speaking of his own Institutions in the Proem, thus :Quas, ex omnibus antiquorum Institutionibus, et precipue ex Commentariis Gaii nostri, compositas,' &c.
It is not to be denied that the recovery of this work is an accession of some value to the remains of ancient jurisprudence; but we had rather, in common with all who are inquisitive as to such matters, that we had recovered the writings of some jurisconsult who flourished under the republic, and wrote before the laws of a great and free people were polluted by the intermixture of imperial constitutions, of which so large a part of the body of the Code, and even of the Pandects, is composed. That such works were not wanting we have abundant proof; one high authority will suffice: Cicero, writing to a lawyer, asks—Num jus civile vestrum ex libris cognosci potest ? qui, quamquam plurimi sunt, doctorem tamen, unumque desiderant.'-Ad. Fam. vii. 19.
We have discoursed fully, and perhaps somewhat tediously, of the Palimpsests; because we are deeply impressed with a sense of the paramount importance of the subject, and are convinced, that the accessions which ancient literature may derive from this source are without limit. We are placed, as it were, by this discovery, on a vast plain, which has no bounds; and although the horizon may seem to our senses to circumscribe and intercept the prospect on all sides, yet, on which side soever we advance, the apparent obstacle to our vision is removed, and our view is extended. We shall be truly happy, if by any thing we have said, we shall invite or excite persons who have access to ancient manuscripts, to profit by their opportunities. Although we would not actually have it made a capital offence for any one to have in his possession or disposition a piece of ancient parchment, without being able to bring satisfactory evidence that it had been carefully examined, to ascertain whether it was a Palimpsest, because evil-disposed persons, through a dread of the penalty, might be tempted to destroy their parchments altogether; yet it is incumbent on all good citizens of the republic of letters, to use their utmost diligence to promote and facilitate these interesting discoveries. It would be a commendable thing to collect together all the Palimpsests that have hitherto been discovered, and that are scattered in different volumes, which are expensive, and not easily procured in Great Britain, and are swollen to a great bulk and cost by annotations and disquisitions, which, though useful, are of less value than the text, and to print the unadorned text, without note or comment, in a small and cheap form, and thus, by showing at one view what has actually been done, to hold out the most powerful encouragement to future exertions.
It is not to the present purpose, nor would time permit us, if it were, to state our reasons for lamenting, that the study of the Civil Law is so much neglected in the British empire. To know the value of this study, and to be able to appreciate its importance, is alone an advance in civility and knowledge. The lawyers of England have hitherto led, like the Chinese, a grotesque and unsociable life, and have refused to hold communication with, or to receive instruction from, other nations. The spirit of improvement, however, is now abroad; and the desire of