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I owe it to the Public to state by what chance it happened that the completion of the following work, commenced and partly written by one of the most celebrated of American lawwriters, fell into the hands of one so unknown to the Profession as myself. For some time previous to the decease of the late Joseph K. Angell, this book had been advertised as in preparation; but the more pressing demand for new editions of his former works continually retarded its appearance. In order that its publication might not be unreasonably delayed, he procured my assistance; and, at the time of his death, had already obtained from me the chapter entitled “ Highways by Prescription and Dedication, and the chapter entitled “ Nuisances and their Remedies.” He had also frequently conversed with me about the plan of the work, and, with the frankness and the candor which formed so amiable a trait of his character, had, I am inclined to believe, fully acquainted me with his ideas upon the subject in so far as they had then become matured. When, therefore, by his sudden and lamented death, it became necessary to find some one to carry forward to its completion the work which he had begun, a knowledge of these facts led, not unnaturally perhaps, to my selection for that service. In the performance of it, my aim has been to embody the design which I received from his own lips.
Besides the plan, Mr. Angell's share of this book embraces the first two chapters, already in print at the time of his decease, and much the larger portion of the fourth chapter. For the remainder I am responsible. And, though I cannot flatter myself, that I have preserved the symmetry in its parts and the correspondence in the views presented, which would have characterized it, had it been the product of a single mind, I trust, nevertheless, that the few blemishes of this kind, which the reader may detect, will not materially detract from its utility.
Another apparent deficiency may seem to call for explanation. The Reports abound with decisions upon English and American statutes, which are omitted. On this point it might be sufficient to say that I was expressly informed by Mr. Angell, that the compilation of these decisions formed no part of his design. I have, however, examined them myself, with the hope of discovering some principle of classification by which they could be pressed into service; but have found, that they relate to statutory provisions, so local and so heterogeneous in their character, that their introduction would only add to the bulk of the volume, without, in any corresponding degree, enhancing its usefulness.
THOMAS DURFEE. PROVIDENCE, October 1, 1857.