Rare Books Blog

December 31, 2008

To ring in the New Year, I’d like to acknowledge the outstanding gifts to the Lillian Goldman Law Library’s Rare Book Collection in 2008.

I begin with a superb letter written by the great Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Marshall, in April 1835 (only a few months before Marshall’s death), to James Kirke Paulding, whose Life of Washington was published later that year. In the letter Marshall recounts how George Washington convinced him to begin his career in public service 37 years earlier. The letter is a gift from Charles J. Tanenbaum (LL.B. Yale 1937).

At right is an image of the last page with Marshall’s autograph; below is a transcription of the entire letter (postmarked Richmond, Virginia, April 4), followed by a list of resources.

J. K. Paulding esquire
New York

Sir

Your favor of the 22d of March was received in the course of the mail, but I have been confined to my room, and am only now resuming my pen.

The single difficulty I feel in complying with your request arises from my repugnance to any thing which may be construed into an evidence of that paltry vanity which, if I know myself forms no part of any character. To detail any conversation which might seem to intimate that General Washington considered my engaging in the political transactions of the United States an object of sufficient consequence to induce him to take an interest in effecting it, may look like boasting that I held a more favorable place in the opinion of that great man than the fact would justify. I do not however think that this, perhaps, fastidious feeling would justify a refusal to answer an enquiry made in terms entitled to my sincere acknowledgements.

All who were then old enough to notice the public affairs of the United states, recollect the arduous struggle of 1798 and 1799. General Washington, it is well known, took a deep interest in it. He believed that the real independence, the practical self government of our country, depended greatly on its issue[?] on our resisting the encroachments of France.

I had devoted myself to my profession, and, though actively and zealously engaged in support of the measures of his administration in the legislature of Virginia, had uniformly declined any situation which might withdraw me from the bar. In 1798 I was very strongly pressed by the federalists to become a candidate for Congress, and the gentleman of that party who had offered himself to the district [*], proposed to resign his pretensions in my favor. I had however positively refused to accede to the proposition, and believed that I could not be induced to change my determination. In this state of things, in August or September 1798 as well as I recollect, I received an invitation from General Washington to accompany his nephew, the late Judge Washington on a visit to Mount Vernon. I accepted this invitation and remained at Mount Vernon four or five days. During this time the walk and conversation in the Piazza mentioned by W. Lewis took place.

General Washington urged the importance of the crisis, expressed his decided conviction that every man who could contribute to the success of sound opinions was required by the most sacred duty to offer his services to the public and pressed me to come into the Congress of the ensuing year.

After the very natural declaration of distrust in my ability to do any good, I told him that I had made large pecuniary engagements which required close attention to my profession, and which would distress me should the emoluments derived from it be abandoned. I also mentioned the assurance I had given to the gentleman then a candidate, which I could not honorably violate.

He thought that gentleman would still willingly withdraw in my favor, and that my becoming a member of Congress for the present, would not sacrifice my practice as a lawyer. At any rate the sacrifice might be temporary.

After continuing the conversation for sometime, he directed my attention to his own conduct. He had withdrawn from office with a declaration of his determination never again, under any circumstances, to enter public life. No man could be more sincere in making that declaration, nor could any man feel stronger motives for adhering to it. No man could make a stronger sacrifice than he did in breaking a resolution thus publicly made, and which he had believed to be unalterable. Yet I saw him, in opposition to his public declaration, in opposition to his private feelings, consenting under a sense of duty, to surrender the sweets of retirement, and again to enter the most arduous and perilous station which an individual could fill.

My resolution yielded to this representation after remarking that the obligation which had controuled[?] his course was essentially different from that which bound me - that no other man could fill the place to which his country had called him, whereas my services could weigh but little in the political balance, I consented to become a candidate, and have continued, ever since my election, in public life.

This letter is intended to be private, and you will readily perceive the unfitness of making it public. It is written because it has been requested in polite and obliging terms, and because I am willing, should your own views induce you to mention the fact derived from W. Lewis, to give you the assurance of its truth.

With my great respect I am Sir
your obed.t serv.t

J Marshall

  • Three English law reports in our Rare Book Collections bear Marshall’s inscriptions and marginal notes: Hobart’s Reports (London, 5th ed. 1724), Strange’s Reports (London, 1755), and Vernon’s Chancery Reports (London, 1726-1728). We also have vol. 1 of the abridged edition of Marshall’s Life of George Washington (Philadelphia, 1832), inscribed by Marshall to his fellow Supreme Court Justice Smith Thompson.
  • James Kirke Paulding (1778-1860) was a prominent early American author who later served as Secretary of the Navy. See his biographical sketch in Wikipedia. There are several biographies of Paulding, the most recent being Ralph M. Aderman & Wayne R. Kime, Advocate for America: The Life of James Kirke Paulding (Susquehanna University Press, 2003).
  • The 1848 Aberdeen edition of Paulding’s Life of Washington is available in Google Books; a brief mention of Marshall’s meeting with Washington (without using Marshall’s name) is on pages 260-261.

MIKE WIDENER
Rare Book Librarian

November 1, 2008

The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library

Papal States. Gli statuti dell’agricoltura con varie osservazioni, bolle, decisioni della S. Ruota, e decreti intorno alla medesima (Rome 1718). Acquired with the Albert S. Wheeler Fund, May 2008.

(View the Papal States on a map: “Stato Pontificio”.)

The agricultural statutes of Rome were first collected during the pontificate of Gregory XII in the early 1400s, and underwent several revisions and reforms before they were promulgated for the last time in 1848. Yale Law Library owns six different editions of this wide-ranging collection of regulations and advice of use to lawyers, agriculturalists (agronomo), and rural merchants in the Papal States. The 1718 edition shown here was the first to be translated from Latin to Italian, and includes a twenty-six page illustrated treatise on locusts.

BENJAMIN YOUSEY-HINDES & MIKE WIDENER

Exhibit Curators

 

“The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library” is on display October 2008 through February 2009 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

November 1, 2008

The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library

“The outstanding acquisition of the year”

The Yale Law Library owes its superb collection of early Italian statutes to a generous alumnus, an opportunistic librarian, and a “learned Italian lawyer.”

John A. Hoober (Law 1891), an attorney and industrialist in York, Pa., led a fund drive that raised a hefty acquisitions endowment for the Yale Law Library in 1942, much of it from Hoober’s own pocket. When legal historian Samuel Thorne took over as Law Librarian three years later, he had an ample book budget and a buyer’s market in war-torn Europe. Thorne’s report for the 1945-46 academic year included the following under the heading “Notable Purchases”:

“The outstanding acquisition of the year was the notable collection of Italian statuta, numbering almost nine hundred volumes, purchased from a learned Italian lawyer who had brought it, over a period of fifty years, to its present completeness. It contained fifty-two manuscripts of the fourteenth to eighteenth centuries, nine incunabula, and many sixteenth-century editions, more than a few unknown to Luigi Manzoni whose ‘Bibliografia statutaria e storica italiana’ is the standard bibliography of the class.”

Efforts to discover the identity of the “learned Italian lawyer” who sold his splendid collection to Yale have so far come up empty.

The collection has been supplemented by two major acquisitions from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. Their Roman-Canon Law Collection, placed on permanent loan at the Yale Law Library in 2006, included twenty-two volumes of Italian treatises and judicial opinions. An additional sixty volumes were acquired in Fall 2008 as part of the Bar’s Foreign Law Collection. In addition, book dealers in the U.S. and Europe have supplied individual volumes of statutes for Ancona, Bergamo, Brescia, Cremona, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Monteregale, Novara, Riviera di Salo, Sicily, Rome, Trento, and Vicenza.

BENJAMIN YOUSEY-HINDES & MIKE WIDENER
Exhibit Curators

“The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library” is on display October 2008 through February 2009 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

Illustration: Statuta provisiones et ordinamenta magnificae civitatis Ferrariae (2nd ed.; Ferrara, 1534).

November 1, 2008

The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library

One of the main reasons for organizing this exhibit is to encourage students and scholars to use the Yale Law Library’s outstanding collection of early Italian statutes. All of the volumes in the collection are represented in our online catalog, MORRIS. Feel free to contact Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian; see the Rare Books homepage for contact information.

Below is a selective list of online resources, bibliographies, and publications on early Italian statutes.

Online resources

Bibliographies

  • Biblioteca del Senato della Repubblica (Italy). Catalogo della raccolta di statuti, consuetudini, leggi, decreti, ordini e privilegi del comuni, delle associazioni e degli enti locali italiani, dal medioevo alla fine del secolo XVIII (Roma: Tipografia del Senato, 1943- ). Eight of the nine volumes have been published so far, and when it is complete it will be the most comprehensive bibliography of early Italian statutes. The entire set is available online at the website of the Biblioteca del Senato, along with updates to the earlier volumes. The Yale Law Library has a copy, which is currently shelved in the Rare Book Librarian’s office.
  • Leone Fontana, Bibliografia degli statuti dei comuni dell’ Italia superiore (3 vols.; Torino: Fratelli Bocca, 1907). The Yale Law Library has a copy.
  • Luigi Manzoni, comp., Bibliografia statutaria e storica italiana (2 vols. in 3; Bologna: G. Romagnoli, 1876-1892). Volume 1 covers statutes; volume 2 (which our library lacks) covers local histories. The Yale Law Library’s copy is currently shelved in the Rare Book Librarian’s office.
  • Statuti italiani: riuniti ed indicati dal conte Antonio Cavagna Sangiuliani (2 vols.; Pavia: Prem. Tipografia successori fratelli Fusi, 1907). This entire collection is now in the library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and it is probably the only early Italian statute collection in the U.S. that rivals the Yale Law Library’s collection. The catalogue is available online, but stops with entries for the letter M.

Books and articles

  • Mario Ascheri, “Beyond the Comune: The Italian City-State and Its Inheritance,” in The Medieval World (Peter Linehan & Janet L. Nelson eds.; London: Routledge, 2001), 451-468. “[T]he sections of statutes relating to public law have every right to be treated as constitutional history, even if their wide dispersion, mutability and multiplicity make them difficult to study. Paradoxically, it is their very richness that is responsible for the comparative neglect they have suffered. … The city-states were the precursors of the majoritarian principle. In order to delimit the activities of different governmental agencies they introduced systems of checks and balances. They pioneered measures designed to depoliticise judges and the administration of justice and to moderate the excesses of their officials.”
  • George Bowyer, A Dissertation on the Statutes of the Cities of Italy (London: Richards and Co., 1838). Although 170 years old, it is so far the only full-length book in English on early Italian municipal statutes. The Yale Law Library has a copy in its collection, and it is also online in Google Books.
  • Carlo Calisse, A History of Italian Law (Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1928). Translated by Layton B. Register, with introductions by Frederick Parker Walton and Hessel E. Yntema. Volume 8 in the Continental Legal History Series. The book is a translation of parts of Calisse’s Storia del diritto italiano, and was described in a contemporary review as “a long and complicated book.” The Yale Law Library has a copy.
  • Kenneth Pennington, “Law Codes: 1000-1500,” in Dictionary of the Middle Ages 7 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1986), 425-431.

MIKE WIDENER

Rare Book Librarian

Illustration: Perugia (Italy), Statuta augustae Perusiae (Perugia, 1523-1528).

 

November 1, 2008

The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge the following for their assistance and support (in alphabetical order):

  • Oriana Bleecher, History Department, Yale University
  • Kathy Colello, Office of Public Affairs, Yale Law School
  • Margot Curran, Exhibits Conservator, Yale University Libraries
  • Arthur Hobson Dean Purchase Fund in International Law, Yale Law School
  • Renata Ferraro, President, Fondazione Gabriele Berionne
  • John A. Hoober Fund, Yale Law School
  • Shana Jackson, Lillian Goldman Law Library
  • Joanne Kittredge, Computer Services, Yale Law School
  • Harold Hongju Koh, Dean, Yale Law School
  • S. Blair Kauffman, Librarian & Professor of Law, Yale Law School
  • Christine McCarthy, Chief Conservator, Yale University Libraries
  • Liliane McClenning, Lillian Goldman Law Library
  • Brian Mendez, Lillian Goldman Law Library
  • Alfredo Serangeli, Director, Archivio Storico “Innocenzo III”
  • Pamela Sims, Alumni Affairs, Yale Law School
  • Richard Tuske, Librarian, Association of the Bar of the City of New York
  • Albert S. Wheeler Fund, Yale Law School
  • Anders Winroth, Professor, History Department, Yale University
  • Paula Zyats, Assistant Chief Conservator, Yale University Libraries

BENJAMIN YOUSEY-HINDES & MIKE WIDENER
Exhibit Curators

“The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library” is on display October 2008 through February 2009 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

Illustration: Statuta augustae Perusiae (Perugia, 1523-1528).

October 30, 2008

The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library

Rovito, Scipione. Decisiones supremorum tribunalium regni Neapolitani (Naples, 1687). Acquired from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, September 2008.

(View the Kingdom of Naples on a map: “Regno di Napoli”.)

The most recent addition to the Yale Law Library’s collection of early Italian materials is not a body of statutes, but rather an extensive set of rulings written by the jurist Scipone Rovito (1556-1636) as a member of the highest court in the Kingdom of Naples. In this rare 1687 edition the rulings are accompanied by commentaries and summaries written by the Neopolitan jurist Blasio Altimaro (1630-1713). The Yale Law Library’s collection of municipal statutes is complimented by a large—and growing—number of early commentaries and treatises on Italian law like this one.

BENJAMIN YOUSEY-HINDES & MIKE WIDENER

Exhibit Curators

“The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library” is on display October 2008 through February 2009 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

October 11, 2008

The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library

Montefortino (Italy). Statutum Montisfortini in Campanea [with] Statuto e tassa de mercedi che si devono al governatore, mandatario, e barigello di Montefortino in Campagna (manuscript, Montefortino, 1685). Acquired with the John A. Hoober Fund, May 1946.

(View Montefortino, today named Artena, on a map.)

The present-day city of Artena, southeast of Rome, was known as Montefortino from the Middle Ages until 1873. We owe the following description of our manuscript to Alfredo Serangeli, Director of the Archivio Storico “Innocenzo III” in Segni, Italy, and present it here with his permission and our thanks:

The Montefortino Statutes are the regulations for an essentially feudal municipality. Everything belonged to the feudal lord “in dominio et iurisdictione”, while vassals had broad rights for grazing, gathering wood and working the land. In fact, the statutes gave the feudal lord the right to one-fourth of all agricultural production, including wheat, barley, beans, spelt, millet, hemp, chick peas, and wine. This right was his in all cases, regardless of how the land was owned and worked.

The community, whose life was regulated in detail, was concerned that the feudal lords and governors should also respect the statutory rules. In fact, in a 1559 petition to the Colonna princesses (Tuzia, Porzia, Claudia and Virginia, owners of Montefortino at that time), concerning the reconstruction and reestablishment of normal conditions after the destruction of the castle in 1557 (during the Campagna War that the Papacy and France waged against Spain), Montefortino’s inhabitants asked that their governor respect the statutes. In the notary’s act produced when Prince Ascanio Massimo took possession of the castle on February 12, 1595, the prince’s oath to obey and enforce the Statutes is specifically mentioned.

The original manuscript is composed of 38 parchment folia, 16 x 24 cm., and was produced in 1468 by Antonio son of Luca, one of the most important notaries in Montefortino during the 15th century. The manuscript held in the Lillian Goldman Law Library is a copy of the revised statutes of 1606.

    – Alfredo Serangeli, Director, Archivio Storico “Innocenzo III”

Incidentally, Alfredo Serangeli is from the same family as Stefano Serangeli, the scribe who produced the Yale Law Library’s manuscript in 1685.

BENJAMIN YOUSEY-HINDES & MIKE WIDENER

Exhibit Curators

“The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library” is on display October 2008 through February 2009 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

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