The preparation of this edition was commenced about three years ago by the Hon. Edmund H. Bennett; but that gentleman, after prosecuting the work about a year, was compelled to abandon it by reason of failing health, and it then lay dormant until the summer of 1873. The present editor (who, in giving aid to Judge Bennett in the earlier part of the work, had acquired some familiarity with it) was at this time desired to complete the preparation of the edition, and after much hesitancy consented.
This hesitancy might well have taken a more decided form had the extent of the undertaking been fully realized. The amount of work already done could not be accurately ascertained, as no definite memoranda of all the Reports which had been examined could be found; and, added to this embarrassment, the extensive work of revision and addition which, with the author's approval, was found desirable proved to require a greater amount of labor than the editor could have ventured to undertake, had he been able to see the end.
It would serve no useful purpose to state in detail what editorial work has been done upon this edition. It is perhaps enough to say that there has been a compression of the original material of some two hundred pages, - without the loss, the editor trusts, of any thing essential to the work. This was accomplished in part by bringing together certain subjects which had from apparent oversight been disconnected; and in part by eliminating such matter as might with propriety be omitted from an elementary work on Contracts. This part of the work, if not the most important, was, in carrying out the plan of the edition, quite as necessary as any. The volumes had already become almost too large for convenient use; and the editor's work contemplated a considerable addition of new matter.
The author desired that, aside from this, whatever changes, or modifications, or additions to the text should be found necessary should be made there directly, and without marks of distinction from his own work, - a compliment which, in the performance, it is hoped has not resulted in seriously marring the work.
The next step was to add any new chapters, subchapters, or sections which seemed desirable; and much in this direction has been done. Two entirely new chapters, one on Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes, and one on Telegraph Companies, have been added; several sub-chapters have been newly written, and others of the former editions rewritten; and at least fifty sections besides have been added.
Then, and finally, it was important that there should be a new numbering of the sections; and this, with the other changes, involved a considerable change in the Index, and the making of an entirely new Table of Cases, which alone was no inconsiderable task.
All this, besides the usual editorial work of examining the Eeports and collecting the new cases. The addition of cases has been about three thousand; and the table is now one of the largest to be found. In order to equalize the size of the volumes, it was necessary to place the list in the second volume; for which there are some good precedents in very modern law-books.
The publication of the volume has, since the editorial work upon the text was completed, been unavoidably delayed by reason of the unusual time required in remaking the Index, the Table of Cases, and the Cross-references, and the pressure of other important duties.
The editor trusts that the value of this well-known and useful work has, by his humble efforts, been in some slight degree enhanced.
M. M. B.
Boston, Aug. 2, 1874.