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law in respect to carriers by water, though their Supreme Court have proceeded with great caution, and have not disturbed the rule in its foundations. It is admitted," that the English law is the law in Pennsylvania, as to carriers by land; but with respect to carries by water, the law was considered as locally unsettled, particularly in respect to their interior waters, and as fairly open to investigation. The carrier on inland waters was held to be clearly liable for every accident which skill, care, and diligence could have prevented; but beyond that, it was competent for the common carrier to prove a usage different from the common law. In Louisiana it is also stated, that the owners of a steam-boat are not liable to the freighters for a loss,
a Gordon v. Little, 8 Serg. & Rawle, 533.
b I apprehend, with great deference, that the case of Aymar v. Astor, so far as it meant to decide that masters of vessels were not liable as common carriers, (and it appears to have meant that and that only,) is not to be taken for sound law. A distinguished rule of commercial policy, which had been settled in England, and regarded as fundamental ever since the great case of Morse v. Slue, and which had been recognis ed, and acted upon, and vindicated, by the Supreme Court of this state, in the cases of Colt v. M'Mechan, Schieffelin v. Harvey, Watkinson v. Laughton, Elliott v. Russell, and Kemp v. Coughtry, cannot be thus suddenly demolished. If the court had placed the decision on the ground that the damage to the goods was occasioned by a peril of the sea, the rule would have been preserved, and the carrier would have been protected by the exception in his bill of lading. But the Court did not decide the cause on that point, nor could they, upon the facts stated, without overruling the English authority. They went upon the broad ground that masters of vessels were not common carriers, nor liable as such; and this appears to me to be overturning first principles, and rendering the law of the land vague and uncertain. No such judicial reformation of the law is thought of in England: and in relation to this very subject, a bill was introduced into parliament, and passed the House of Commons, since the year 1795, to reduce the liability of owners and masters of ves
when the boat was destroyed by fire, in a case where proBer diligence had been used.a
It has been the settled law in England since the case of Lane v. Cotton, that the rule respecting common carriers does not apply to postmasters, and there is no analogy beThe post office establishment is a branch of the public police created by statute, and the government have the management and control of the whole concern. The post masters enter into no contract with individuals, and receive no hire, like common carriers, in proportion to the risk and value of the letters under their charge, but only a general compensation from government. In the case last referred to, the Post Master General was held not to be answerable for the loss of the exchequer bills stolen out of a letter while in the defendant's office. The subject was elaborately discussed in Whitfield v. Lord Le Despencer, and the same doctrine asserted. The Post Master General was held not to be responsible for a bank note by one of the sorters out of a letter in the post office. But a deputy post-master is still answerable in a private suit for misconduct or negltgence; as for wrongfully detaining an unreasonable time. The English law on this subject was admitted in Dunlop v. Munroe, to be the law of the United States, and a post master was considered to be liable in a private action for damages arising from misfeasance, or for negligence in his office in not safely transmitting a letter
sels navigating the high seas as common carriers, to the cases of robbery, embezzlement, and actual default of the owner, master, or mariners, but the bill was rejected in the House of Lords. Abbott on Shipping. part 3. ch. 4. s. 1. note c.
a Christy's Dig. tit. Carrier, n. 5.
b 1 Lord Raym. 646.
c Cowp. 754.
d Rowning v. Goodchild, 3 Wils. 443. e 7 Cranch, 242.
Whether he was liable himself for the negligence of his clerks or assistants, was a point not decided; though if he were to be deemed responsible in that case, it would only result from his own neglect in not properly superintending the discharge of his duty in his office.
The general doctrines of agency and lien have a material bearing on this subject of bailment; but as they are essentially connected with mercantile transactions, their extent and importance will require a separate discussion.
OF PRINCIPAL AND AGENT.
THE law of principal and agent is of very general interest, and incessant application in the commercial world; and the rights and duties which belong to that relation ought to be accurately, as well as universally understood. And while recommending that title to the attention of the student, as well as of the practising lawyer, I will give a summary view of those general principles, which apply at large to every branch of the subject, and more especially to agencies that relate to commercial concerns.
(1.) Agency, how constituted.
Agency is founded upon a contract either express or implied, by which one of the parties confines to the other the management of some business, to be transacted in his name, or on his account, and by which the other assumes to do the business, and to render an account of it. The authority of the agent may be created by deed, or writing, or verbally without writing; and for the ordinary purposes of business and commerce, the latter is sufficient." The agency may be inferred from the relation of the parties, and the nature of the employment, without proof of
Lord Eldon, 9 Vesey, 250.
a Chilly on Commercial Law, vol. 3. 104. Stackpole v. Arnold, 11 Mass. Rep 27. Northam on Bank v. Pepoon, ibid. 238. Ewing v. Tees, 1 Biancy, 450.