action of detinue, and became a concurrent remedy with trespass de bonis asportatis, he could hardly fail to throw light on the difficulties of the existing law of conversion. Mr. Pollock has given no pace to historical details, but he has stated the law as it is with accuracy and clearness. The subject of Negligence, for example, usually so confused and voluminous, is well covered in a single chapter of about forty pages.
To a student seeking a general theory of the law of torts, the principle of classification adopted by Mr. Pollock will probably be the most interesting part of the book. One form of its statement, found on page 17, is in these words: “Liability for delict, or civil wrong in the strict sense, is the result either of wilful injury to others, or wanton disregard of what is due to them (dolus), or of a failure to observe due care and caution, which has similar though not intended or expected consequences (culpa). We have, moreover, apart from the law of trespass, an exceptionally stringent rule in certain cases, where liability is attached to the befalling of harm without proof of either intention or negligence.” In other words, all torts may be divided into these three classes: 1. Cases where an actual intention to do harm is necessary. This includes but a very small part of the law of torts at present, though malicious prosecution may be cited as an example. 2. Cases where the actor is liable only for failing to act in the circumstances up to the standard set by the law, that is, the conduct of a prudent man. This covers the great bulk of the law of torts, including the subject of Negligence. 3. Cases where the actor is liable, regardless of intention or negligence, that is, he acts at his peril. The type of this class of cases is Fletcher v. Rylands. This division embraces the whole subject, and all torts might be arranged and discussed under these heads, regardless of the forms of action. For example, trespass by entering upon real estate, and conversion by an innocent purchaser from a wrongful possessor, both being cases where a man is liable regardless of intention or negligence, belong, in a strictly scientific arrangement, under the same title with Fletcher v. Rylands. Such an arrangement might be a bold step at present, but Mr. Pollock’s book will certainly do good service in preparing the way for the final statement and classification of the law of torts in the future.
Constitutional Prohibitions. By Henry Campbell Black, of the Williamsport (Pa.) bar. Little, Brown & Co., Boston. 316 pp. 8vo. This “essay,” as the author styles it, is divided into three parts. The first and third treat respectively of the application of that clause of the Constitution of the United States (Art. I., Sect. 10) which prohibits a State from impairing the obligation of contracts, and of the clauses (Art. I., Sects. 9 and 10) which forbid both Congress and the States to pass ex post facto laws and bills of attainder. Part II. treats of the way in which the States have dealt with retroactive laws not forbidden by the clauses above mentioned.
The author favors the historical method of treating his subject, and has applied it wherever practicable, e. g., in showing that a State may constitutionally pass insolvent laws. The book is not full of original discussions, or of attempts to show what the law ought to be. To give