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Law and Philology: the Meaning of SS. By Joseph Osmun Skinner of the New York City Bar IN these days of the "modern law" without intermission. Now by addition of de of real property, in these modern (euphoniae gratia dis) to it which is a privative, it signifieth an intermission. Discontinuare nihil days when an attorney is chary of quot aliud significat quam intermittere, desuescere, ing a Latin phrase in court lest it cause interrumpere. And as our author saith, it is a knowing glances among his colleagues, very ancient word in law."' one is inclined to apologize to the busy "Here Littleton explaineth a man of no sound practitioner before taking him into a purely historical field. For philology memorie to be non compos mentis. Many times _ is considered an historical field today. (as here it appeareth) the Latin word explaineth the true sense, and calleth him not amens, As Vice-Chancellor Kindersley said in demens, furiosus, lunaticus, fatuus, stultus, or an English case,1 "It is not necessary the like, for non compos mentis is most sure and to go into the derivation of the word, for legal." 4 that sort of reasoning would not assist in If, then, in our examination of the the administration of justice." Though meaning of the two little letters ss we we have apparently graduated from the are compelled to pass by modern pre philological stage of legal interpretation cedents we take it that the reader, who, we have not yet reached the Lookingwe assume, is a busy lawyer, will approve. Glass world of Lewis Carroll's fairy All the cases in the books, both ancient story.2 There Humpty Dumpty says and modern, dealing with the said appen to Alice, in a rather scornful tone, "When dage of the venue as written today could I use a word it means just what I choose be counted on one hand. The New it to mean — neither more nor less." York reports contain two of them, Jones "The question is," said Alice, "whether v. Hoyti and Babcock v. Kuntzsch*; you can make words mean so many dif Utah reports contain one, McCord Mer ferent things." "The question is," said cantile Company v. Glenn,1 all of which Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be mas are very modern. And likewise, all ter — that's all." of which merely state that the omission In this nebulous interval between the of the letters from the venue is im derivation and the Humpty Dumpty material. In 1736 Chief Justice Hardstage there is nothing for us to do but wicke, in Jodderell versus Cowell? com to hold fast to the precedents we have. menting on the apparent contradiction But sometimes, in these days of "mod by the venue in the margin of the venue ern" precedents, our reports lack fruition in the body of the declaration, said: "for and we are compelled to go back — back the word ss, I verily believe, was not even to Coke on Littleton where Lord Coke says : > 325a. ' 246ft. "'Discontinuance' is a word compounded of '85 Hun (N. Y.) 35 (1895). de and continuo, for continuare is to continue 0 32 N. Y. Supp. 587 (1895). 7 6 Utah 139. 21 Pac. Rep. 500. 'Barrett v. White, 24 L. J. Ch. 726. 5 Michaelmas Term, 10 Geo. II. Lee's Cases, 1 "Through the Looking Glass." temp. Hardwicke.