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binding out minors as apprentices, to learn some useful art, trade, or calling, has probably been very generally adopted in this country, with considerable local variations. In the state of Maine, male infants may be bound till the age of twenty-one; but females only till their arrival to the age of eighteen. In Pennsylvania, it has been held, that an infant could not be bound by his father or guardian, as a servant to another; while in Massachusetts, their statute law concerning apprentices, does not make void all contracts binding the minor to service, that are not made in conformity to the statute. It has been held, that the father may, at common law, bind his infant son to service, and the contract will be good, independent of the statute. This doctrine is contrary to the English law, and to the construction of the statute of this state, and to the rule in Pennsylvania; and it has been questioned in the case of the United States v. Bainbridge. It has been decided in that last case, that the father could not bind his infant son, without his consent, to military service, and that where his enlistment has been held valid, it was by force of the statute authority of the United States. Whether an ine dented apprentice can be assigned by one master to another, is a question which does not seem to have been definitively settled. It was concluded, in the case of Nickerson v. Howard, that such an assignment might be good, by way of covenant between the masters, though not as an assignment to pass an interest in the apprentice. As was observed by Lord Mansfield, though an apprentice be not strictly assignable, nor transmissible, yet if he continue with his new master, with the consent of all parties, and his own, it is a continuation of the apprenticeship.
a 4 Greenleaf, 36. 40.
b Respublica v. Keppell, 2 Dallas, 197.
c Day v. Everett, 7 Mass. Rep. 145.
d 1 Mason, 71.
e 19 Johns. Rep. 113.
The King v. The Inhabitants of Stockland, Doug. 70.
The master is entitled to the wages and fruit of the personal labour of the apprentice, while the relationship continues, and the apprentice is in his service; and there are cases which give the master a right to the wages or earnings of the apprentice, while in another's service, and with or without his master's license, and even though the trade or service be different from that to which the apprentice is bound. But Lord Hardwicke declared in the case before him, that if the master had not done his duty with the apprentice, and had been the unjustifiable cause of his pursuing a different course of life, he would grant relief in equity against the master's legal claim to his earnings.b
a Hill v. Allen, 1 Vesey, 83. Barber v. Dennis, 6 Mod. 69.
b In taking leave of the extensive subject of the domestic relations, I cannot refrain from acknowledging the assistance I have received from the work of the late Chief Justice Reeve on that title. That excellent lawyer and venerable man, has discussed every branch of the subject in a copious manner; and though there is some want of precision and ac`curacy in his references to authority, and sometimes in his deductions, yet be every where displays the vigour, freedom, and acuteness of a sound and liberal mind.
I would here further observe, that since the preceding sheets were put to the press, I have met with the late case of Lewis v. Lee, in the English Court of K. B., reported in 3 Barn. & Cress. 291. in which it is adjudged, upon demurrer, that though a woman be divorced a mensa et thoro, and lives separate and apart from her husband, with an ample allowance as and for her separate maintenance, she cannot be sued as a feme sole. This decision had not been seen when the observations were made at pages 132 and 136 of this volume; whether it is to be received as law in this country, in preference to the opinions of the Editor of Bacon, and of Lord Loughborough, there referred to, must be left for future judicial discussion.
A corporation is a franchise possessed by one or more individuals, who subsist as a body politic, under a special denomination, and are vested, by the policy of the law, with the capacity of perpetual succession, and of acting, in several respects, however numerous the association may be, as a single individual.
The object of the institution is to enable the members to act by one united will, and to continue their joint powers and property in the same body, undisturbed by the change of members, and without the necessity of perpetual conveyances, as the rights of members pass from one individual to another. All the individuals composing a corporation, and their successors, are considered in law but as one moral person, capable, under an artificial form, of taking and conveying property, contracting debts and duties, and of enjoying a variety of civil and political rights. One of the peculiar properties of a corporation, is the power of perpetual succession; for, in judgment of law, it is capable of indefinite duration. The rights and privileges of the corporation do not determine, or vary, upon the death or change of any of the individual members. They continue as long as the corporation endures. It is sometimes said, that a corporation is an immortal, as well as an invisible and intangible being. But the immortality of a corporation means only its capacity to take in perpetual succession so long as the corporation exists. It is so far from being immortal, that it is well known, that most of the private corporations recently created by statute, are limited in duration to a few years. There are many corporate bodies that are without limitation, and,
consequently, capable of continuing so long as a succession of individual members of the corporation remains, and can be kept up.
It was chiefly for the purpose of clothing bodies of men in succession, with the qualities and capacities of one sine gle, artificial, and fictitious being, that corporations were originally invented, and, for the same convenien purpose, they have been brought largely into use. By means of the corporation, many individuals are capable of acting in perpetual succession like one single individual, without incurring any personal hazard or responsibility, or exposing any other property than what belongs to the corpora tion in its legal capacity.
I. Of the History of Corporations.
Corporations were well known to the Roman law, and they existed from the earliest periods of the Roman republic. It would appear, from a passage in the Pandects, that they were copied from the laws of Solon, who permitted private companies to institute themselves at pleasure, provided they did nothing contrary to the public law. But the Romans were not so indulgent as the Greeks. They were very jealous of such combinations of individuals, and they restrained those that were not specially authorized; and every corporation was illicit that was not ordained by a decree of the senate, or of the emperor. A collegia licita, in the Roman law, was like our incorporated companies, a society of men united for some useful business or purpose, with power to act like a single individual; and if they abused their right, or assembled for any other purpose than that expressed in their charter, they were deemed illicita, and many laws, from the time of the twelve tables down to the times of the emperors, were passed against all illicit or unauthorised companies. In the age of Augustus,
a Dig. 47. 22. 4.
b Dig. 47. 22. 3. 1. e Taylor's Elements of the Civil Law, 567–570.
as we are informed by Suetonius, certain corporations had become nurseries of faction and disorder, and that emperor interposed, as Julius Cæsar had done before him, and dissolved all but the ancient and legal corporations-s cuncta collegia, præter antiquitus constituta, distraxit. We find, also, in the younger Pliny, a singular instance of the extreme jealousy indulged by the Roman government of these corporations. A destructive fire in Nicomedia, in duced Pliny to recommend to the emperor Trajan the in stitution, for that city, of a fire company of 150 men, (col legium fabrorum,) with an assurance, that none but those of that business should be admitted into it, and that the privileges granted them should not be extended to any other purpose. But the emperor refused the grant, and observed, that societies of that sort had greatly disturbed the peace of the cities; and he observed, that whatever name he gave them, and for whatever purpose they might be instituted, they would not fail to be mischievous.
The powers, capacities, and incapacities of corpora tions, under the English law, very much resemble those under the civil law; and it is evident, that the principles of law applicable to corporations under the former, were borrowed chiefly from the Roman law. Under the latter system, corporations were divided into ecclesiastical and lay, civil and elcemosynary Phey could not purchase, or receive donations of land, without a license, nor could they alienate without just cause. These restraints bear a striking resemblance to the mortmain and disabling statutes in the English law. They could only act by attorney ; and the act of the majority bound the whole; and they were dissolved by death, surrender, or forfeiture, as with us.d Corporations or colleges for the advancement of learning,
a Ad Aug. 32.
b Suet. J. Cæsar, 42.
e Epist. b. 10. Letters 42, 43.
d1 Brown's Civil & Adm. Law, 142–8. Wood's Inst. of the Civil Law, 134.