Contracts in Rome and England

I am not about to enter here into a critical examination of the Roman contracts: it would be a work of deadly ennui. If we were to imagine all possible defects-in their division, in their nomenclature-it would be difficult to exaggerate them. The idea of reciprocal promises, of mutual dispositions, so familiar to all the world, finds itself so obscured in this mischievous and absurd system of jurisprudence, that the lawyers, who have not ceased to explain it, always feel the necessity of new explanations. These are the words of that unrealistic busybody, Jeremy Bentham. Like him, if for very different reasons, we are not going to enter into a critical examination of the Roman contracts, but we do propose to make some observations about them in relation to the common law of England. We are not, any more than Bentham, going to be scholarly; neither, unlike him, have we a unitary view of what is, or what is not desirable.

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