Majydami's, the name of a remedial writ, belonging to a once extensive class of precepts which bore the generic name of mandamus. They derived their name from the significant word of the mandatory clause, which, while the writs were framed in Latin, ran: Nos igi-tur tibi mandamus, etc, " We therefore command you." Their origin is referred to that clause of Magna Charta which declares that to no man will the king refuse or delay justice: Nulli negabimm aut differemxis jvstitiam rectum. At a very early period, the injunction was in form nothing but a letter from the sovereign. Subsequently it became a parliamentary writ, and issued on petition from the king and his council. Later the king's bench took jurisdiction, which in the recent judicial changes in England has been transferred to the supreme court. The writ is directed to persons, corporations, or courts of inferior judicature, and requires them to do some specific act which belongs to their oilieial duty, or which exact justice demands. In this country the power to grant it is vested in the supreme judicial authority of the state, hut in some states, also, in inferior court-. Not only does it form a branch of that general supervisory control which the sovereign power must possess over tribunals, magistrates, and all indeed who in any sense are invested with pnblic functions; but also, as it was originally contrived to prevent failure of justice and to remedy defects of police, it is to be awarded in cases for which the law affords no specific and adequate remedy, yet where justice requires that there should be one.

By the judiciary act of 1793 the United States snpreme court received power to issue writs of mandamus in cases warranted by the principles and usages of law "to any courts appointed or persons holding office under the authority of the Uni-ted States;" but in Marbury v Madison, 1 Cranch, 137, the latter clause was held to be unconstitutional and void, and the snpreme court refused to grant the writ to compel the secretarv of state to deliver a civil commission alleged to be illegally withheld by him. Circuit courts, too, were authorized to issue the writ when necessary for the exercise of their jurisdiction. The award of the writ is generally a matter of judicial discretion. He who seeks this remedy must show that he is innocent of laches, that he has a clear right in the premises, that there has been a distinct refusal to do that which the petitioner would compel, and finallv that lie has in the ordinary processes of law no adequate remedy. The most common practice is for the court in the first instance to issue a writ commanding to be done that which i- prayed for, or that the respondent show cause why it should not be done; or an order may issue in the first instance that the respondent show cause why a peremptory mandamus should not issue.

In either case the defendant makes answer, and if the petitioner, who is usually called relator, is satisfied with the statement of facts in the answer, he will demur thereto, and the question will thus be referred to the court on an issue of law. If the relator is dissatisfied with the statement of facts in the answer, he may join issue thereon, and this issue of fact will be tried as the court may direct. If either issue is decided in favor of the relator, a peremptory mandamus is awarded. In a very clear case the peremptory writ may issue in the first instance. When directed to a court, the writ merely sets such court in motion; it bids it exercise a power which is vested in it. It does not presume to revise the decision of the inferior tribunal upon a question either of fact or law addressed to its judgment. As examples of this jurisdiction, mandamus has been granted to compel the sealing of a bill of exceptions or its amendment according to the truth of the case; or, at suit of a defendant, to require the inferior court to enter judgment upon a verdict, in the regular course of proceedings, in order to enable the defeated party to bring his writ of error. But the writ does not lie to control courts in respect to matters of practice under their rules, where their authority is discretionary.

Mandamus often issues to commissioners of highways and supervisors of counties, commanding them to perform the peculiar duties of their office; ordering them, for example, to open a road regularly laid out; to estimate the damages caused to landowners thereby, or to levy a tax as they were required by law to do for'the payment of damages caused by laying out a highway. Corporations, too, are often commanded by this process to do what their constituent acts require. Thus railway corporations have been compelled to pursue, in cross-ing rivers, the mod, prescribed in their char-ters, and have been forbidden to obstruct navigation by the location of their track. Retiring public officers may also be compelled by his writ to deliver official hooks and papers to their successors, and corporations to admit members to their privileges, to restore a member irregularly disfranchised, and to allow di-rectors and inproper cases other corporators, to have inspection of books. It is a common process to compel the performance of public duties by public officers, but in such cases the attorney general or other public prosecuting officer should be relator, and a private citizen would not be allowed to take action except where some special and peculiar right of his own was involved in the performance of the public duty.

The action of the executive, however, in the performance of his peculiar duties, is not to be controlled by this writ.