« VorigeDoorgaan »
child a fitting maintenance, with a view to compel him to change his religion, the lord chancellor shall by order of court constrain him to do what is just and reasonable. But this did not extend to persons of another religion, of no less bitterness and bigotry than the popish: and therefore in the very next year we find an instance of a jew of immense riches, whose only daughter having embraced christianity, he turned her out of doors; and on her application for relief, it was held she was entitled to nonen (3). But this gave occasion to another statute P, which ordains, that if jewish parents refuse to allow their protestant children a fitting maintenance suitable to the fortune of the parent, the lord chancellor on complaint may make such order therein as he shall see proper.
OUR law has made no provision to prevent the disinheriting of children by will: leaving every man's property in his own disposal, upon a principle of liberty in this, as  well as every other, action: though perhaps it had not been amiss, if the parent had been bound to leave them at the least a necessary subsistence. Indeed, among persons of any rank or fortune, a competence is generally provided for younger children, and the bulk of the estate settled upon the eldest, by the marriage-articles. Heirs also, and children, are favorites of our courts of justice, and cannot be disinherited by any dubious or ambiguous words; there being required the utmost certainty of the testator's intentions to take away the right of an heir 9.
FROM the duty of maintenance we may easily pass to that of protection, which is also a natural duty, but rather permitted
n Lord Raym. 699.
o Com. Journ, 18 Feb. 12 Mar. 1701.
p 1 Ann. st. 1. c. 30.
(3) It was not held that she was entitled to none, because she was the daughter of a jew, but because the order did not state that she was poor, or likely to become chargeable to the parish.
BOOK I. than enjoined by any municipal laws; nature, in this respect, working so strongly as to need rather a check than a spur. A parent may, by our laws, maintain and uphold his children in their law-suits, without being guilty of the legal crime of maintaining quarrels. A parent may also justify an assault and battery in defence of the persons of his children: nay, where a man's son was beaten by another boy, and the father went near a mile to find him, and there revenged his son's quarrel by beating the other boy, of which beating he afterwards unfortunately died; it was not held to be murder, but manslaughter merely t. Such indulgence does the law shew to the frailty of human nature, and the workings of parental affection.
THE last duty of parents to their children is that of giving them an education suitable to their station in life: a duty pointed out by reason, and of far the greatest importance of any. For,
as Puffendorf very well observes, it is not easy to  imagine or allow, that a parent has conferred any considerable benefit upon his child by bringing him into the world; if he afterwards entirely neglects his culture and education, and suffers him to grow up like a mere beast, to lead a life useless to others, and shameful to himself. Yet the municipal laws of most countries seem to be defective in this point, by not constraining the parent to bestow a proper education upon his children. Perhaps they thought it punishment enough to leave the parent, who neglects the instruction of his family, to labor under those griefs and inconveniencies, which his family, so uninstructed, will be sure to bring upon him. Our laws, though their defects in this particular cannot be denied, have in one instance made a wise provision for breeding up the rising generation: since the poor and laborious part of the community, when past the age of nurture, are taken out of the hands of their parents, by the statutes for apprenticing poor children w; and are placed out by the public in such a
r 2 Inst. 564.
s 1 Hawk. P. C. 131.
t Cro. Jac. 296. 1 Hawk. P. C. 83.
u L. of N. b. 6. c. 2. sec. 12.
w See pag. 426.
manner, as may render their abilities, in their several stations, of the greatest advantage to the commonwealth. The rich indeed are left at their own option, whether they will breed up their children to be ornaments or disgraces to their family. Yet in one case, that of religion, they are under peculiar restrictions for x it is provided, that if any person sends any child under his government beyond the seas, either to prevent its good education in England, or in order to enter into or reside in any popish college, or to be instructed, persuaded, or strengthened in the popish religion; in such case, besides the disabilities incurred by the child so sent, the parent or person sending shall forfeit 1007. which y shall go to the sole use and benefit of him that shall discover the offence. Andz if any parent, or other, shall send or convey any person beyond sea, to enter into, or be resident in, or trained up in, any priory, abbey, nunnery, popish university, college, or school, or house of jesuits, or priests, or in any private popish family, in order to be instructed, persuaded, or confirmed in the popish religion; or shall contribute any thing towards their maintenance when abroad by any pretext whatever, the person both sending and sent shall be disabled to sue in law or equity, or to be executor or administrator to any person, or to enjoy any legacy or deed of gift, or to bear any office in the realm, and shall forfeit all his goods and chattels, and likewise all his real estate for life (4).
2. THE power of parents over their children is derived from the former consideration, their duty: this authority being given them, partly to enable the parent more effectually to
x Stat. 1 Jac. I. c. 4. and 3 Jac. I. c. 5. y Stat. 11 and 12 W. III. c. 4.
z Stat. 3 Car. I. c. 2.
(4) By the 31 Geo. III. c. 32. No person professing the Roman catholic religion, who shall take and subscribe the oath required by that statute, shall be subject to the penalties in the statutes referred to in the preceding page.
perform his duty, and partly as a recompense for his care and trouble in the faithful discharge of it. And upon this score the municipal laws of some nations have given a much larger authority to the parents, than others. The ancient Roman laws gave the father a power of life and death over his children; upon this principle, that he who gave had also the power of taking away a. But the rigor of these laws was softened by subsequent constitutions; so that we find a father banished by the emperor Hadrian for killing his son, though he had committed a very heinous crime, upon this maxim, that "patria potestas in pietate debet, non in atrocitate, consi"stere." But still they maintained to the last a very large and absolute authority: for a son could not acquire any property of his own during the life of his father; but all his acquisitions belonged to the father, or at least the profits of them for his life.
THE power of a parent by our English laws is much more moderate; but still sufficient to keep the child in order and obedience. He may lawfully correct his child, being under age, in a reasonable mannerd; for this is for the benefit of his education. The consent or concurrence of the parent to the marriage of his child under age, was also directed by our ancient law to be obtained: but now it is absolutely necessary; for without it the contract is void. And this also is
another means, which the law has put into the  parent's hands, in order the better to discharge his duty; first, of protecting his children from the snares of artful and designing persons; and, next, of settling them properly in life, by preventing the ill consequences of too early and precipitate marriages. A father has no other power over his son's estate than as his trustee or guardian; for, though he may receive the profits during the child's minority,
a Ff. 28. 2. 11. Cod. 8. 47, 10.
b Ff. 48. 9. 5.
e Inst. 2. 9.1.
d1 Hawk. P. C. 130.
e Stat. 26 Geo. IL g. 33.
yet he must account for them when he comes of age (5). He may indeed have the benefit of his children's labor while they live with him, and are maintained by him: but this is no more than he is entitled to from his apprentices or servants. The legal power of a father (for a mother, as such, is entitled to no power, but only to reverence and respect), the power of a father, I say, over the persons of his children ceases at the age of twenty-one for they are then enfranchised by arriving at years of discretion, or that point which the law has established (as some must necessarily be established) when the empire of the father, or other guardian, gives place to the empire of reason. Yet, till that age arrives, this empire of the father continues even after his death; for he may by his will appoint a guardian to his children. He may also delegate part of his parental authority, during his life, to the tutor or schoolmaster of his child; who is then in loco parentis, and has such a portion of the power of the parent committed to his charge, viz. that of restraint and correction, as may be necessary to answer the purposes for which he is employed.
3. THE duties of children to their parents arise from a principle of natural justice and retribution. For to those, who gave us existence, we naturally owe subjection and obedience during our minority, and honor and reverence ever after they, who protected the weakness of our infancy, are entitled to our protection in the infirmity of their age; they who by sustenance and education have enabled their offspring
(5) Where children have fortunes independent of their parents, lord Thurlow declared, that it was the practice in chancery to refer it to the master, to inquire whether the parents were of ability to maintain the children; if not, then to report what would be a proper maintenance; and this practice did not vary where a maintenance was directly given by the will, unless in cases where it was given to the father; under which circumstance it was a legacy to him. 1 Bro. 388.