New HeinOnline Resources Added to the Catalogue

Approximately 3,600 new resources available via HeinOnline have been loaded to the library catalogue as follows:

HeinOnline Core Collection 12 new titles
American Indian Law Collection 2 new titles
Foreign Relations of the U.S. 4 new title
History of International Law 16 new titles
Law Journal Library 29 new titles
Scottish Legal History 2 new titles
Subject Comilations of State Laws 47 new titles
U.S. Congressional Documents 1,023 new titles
U.S. Federal Legislative History Library 129 new titles
Women and the Law (Peggy) 21 new titles
World Constitutions Illustrated: Contemporary & Historical Documents & Resources 2,251 new titles
World Trials Library 90 new titles

Alexander Buchanan (1798-1851) and His Books: Part 1

It may simply be an instance of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, but it seems like everywhere I turn in our rare book room I run into vestiges of Alexander Buchanan.

As a reasonably important historical figure, it’s not surprising to see his name pop up here and there every now and then, but this barrage of six books is unprecedented.

So who was this Alexander Buchanan?

Alexander Buchanan was born in Gosport, England, on April 23, 1798. John Buchanan, Alexander’s father, emigrated with his family in 1802 and settled in Quebec City, where he was surgeon to the garrison, in 1803. In 1814, Alexander was apprenticed to Andrew Stuart, a Quebec City lawyer, and was called to the bar in 1819. He argued his first case before the Court of King’s Bench in Montreal in 1821 and subsequently settled there. He went into practice first with his mentor’s brother, James Stuart, a renowned Montreal lawyer and former Solicitor General; and, after the latter’s appointment as Attorney General, with the equally renowned Charles Richard Ogden, himself Solicitor General. In 1824, Buchanan married the conventiently-named Mary Buchanan, daughter of the British consul in New York. He was appointed King’s Counsel in 1835, and a judge of the Court of Requests and justice of the peace in 1839.

Buchanan is best known for his subsequent work as Chair of two important commissions of inquiry in 1842. The first was set up to revise the acts and ordinances of Lower Canada. Buchanan’s Report, which was presented in three sections from 1843 to 1845, incorporated the previously scattered laws into one volume; it recommended that these laws, which were in both French and English, be codified and translated to promote their dissemination, and resulting in the publication of the Revised Acts and Ordinances of Lower Canada in 1845.

The second commission was to inquire into the system of seigneurial tenure in Lower Canada. In this period of economic and political change (and some revolutionary ferment after the uprisings of 1838), many people were demanding that the system of seigneurial tenure be abolished or at least reformed. In his report, Buchanan came down on the side of those opposing seigneurial tenure, calling it a relic of “barbaric ages”, a system of servitude disastrous for agriculture and industrial development that no longer met the needs of the population, and he recommended it be abolished. Sadly, Buchanan, who died in 1851, did not live to see the final abolition of the seigneurial system in 1854.

Buchanan was a keen collector of books and built a large private library, which was a rare thing in the Canadian colonies of the day. The collection was was so significant that a catalogue of it was printed shortly after Buchanan’s death:

Catalogue of the library of thr [sic] late Alexander Buchanan, Esq., Q.C. : being one of the most select and complete collections of valuable books in this province comprising the principal and most important works on the civil, French, and English law; the Greek and Roman classics; standard works in English literature; and the productions of the principal writers in French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese languages. Montreal : Printed by Wm. Salter & Co., St. James Street, 1852.

The catalogue has been digitized and is available online here. And though we don’t have a copy of the catalogue in our library, we do have one of the actual books listed in the catalogue. Our copy of the Dictionnaire des fiefs et des droits seigneuriaux utiles et honorifiques, par M. Renauldon (Paris: chez Knapen, 1765) is listed as item #215 in the catalogue and bears Buchanan’s autograph signature. His acquisition of this title is also a refection of his work as Chair of the commission on the seigneurial system, described above.

So often we find a bookplate or an inscription with a name that, if followed, will lead to naught.  Thankfully, here with Buchanan’s books, the clues lead not to empty ghosts but to a fully fleshed character and a part of Canadian history.

For more about Alexander Buchanan and his books in our library, stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of this post.

Annotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals – Now Online!

The Osgoode Library now has access to the online version of this important series of international criminal law reports. Access is available to all members of the York University community via Passport York and no username/password is required.

Annotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals provides you with the full text of the most important decisions, including concurring, separate and dissenting opinions. Distinguished experts in the field of international criminal law have commented the most important decisions of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), The Special Court for Sierra Leone, The International Criminal Tribunal for Timor-Leste and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Annotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals is useful for students, scholars, legal practitioners, judges, prosecutors and defence counsel who are interested in the various legal aspects of the law of the ICTY, ICTR and other forms of international criminal adjudication.

The establishment of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda raised many new legal issues, such as the competence of the Security Council of the United Nations to establish a criminal tribunal, the relationship between the Tribunal and national authorities and the protection of vulnerable witnesses without violating the rights of the defence at the same time.

In dealing with these and other issues, one has to bear in mind that there was no useful precedent to guide the International Tribunals in their work. The Intergovernmental Conference for the creation of the statute of the International Criminal Court met with these very same challenges. Therefore, it was and is a major challenge for the Tribunals and the International Criminal Court to come up with creative solutions to legal problems in a manner that enables them to function effectively and fully respects the rights of the accused. The Tribunal’s and Court’s case law provides some of these solutions.

For more information about individual volumes in the series, click here.

A Topsy-Turvy Image of the Lawyer-Client Relationship

With its classical symmetry, coffered ceiling, modern furnishings and book-lined walls, all suffused with old book smell (“A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness”), the Canada Law Book Rare Book Room is a near perfect space and a wonderful place to work. The collection is not as large as Harvard’s or Yale’s, but it still provides ample opportunity for serendipitous discovery and consequent wonder. We recently discovered an 18th-century print of a very silly caricature, seemingly unsigned. The etching was in an old Plexiglas frame, completely yellowed. Fortunately, when removed from the frame, the print proved to be in perfect condition. Though the image looked vaguely familiar, none of us could identify it. Because of its obvious quality, we immediately determined to get the print expertly framed, to archival standard; but first, we wanted to identify the artist. This post is a short record of our investigations and what we learned about the picture and the artist.

The print is a small copper etching, 7 x 8.7 cm, of a curious sort. Held one way, it’s a picture of a “Lawyer”. But when you turn the image 180 degrees, it’s portrays a “Client” — a technique referred to as “topsy-turvy caricature”. There’s no signature on the plate, the only identification being the caption “The Lawyer” followed by the very small date “1790”; and when flipped, the caption “The Client” followed by “K 1790 347”. Here’s the image (from both directions):


I cease to be amazed by what can be found on the web and how effective it is for research. A quick Google search of the basic terms “the lawyer the client etching caricature” got immediate results. The sixth link on the first page of results was a review of the book Capital Caricatures: A Selection of Etchings by John Kay, by Sheila Szatkowski (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2007).  (The home site, Electric Scotland, is dedicated to books and information about “Scots, Scotland and the Scottish Diaspora”.) The review page not only reproduced the Lawyer-Client etching, but also provided basic biographical information about its creator, the great Scottish engraver and caricaturist John Kay (1742-1826).

John Kay was born near Dalkeith, Scotland, in 1742, to a stonemason and his wife. His father died when he was only six, and his mother sent him to apprentice to a barber at the age of 13. Six years later he set up shop in Edinburgh after paying his dues to the Society of Surgeon-Barbers in 1771, where he earned a good living “dressing the wigs and trimming the heads of a certain number of gentlemen every morning”. But he had always possessed a knack for sketching; and perhaps employment as a barber provided him ample occasion for the close inspection of human features and afforded him the opportunity to develop the analytic eye necessary for accurate portraiture and uproarious caricature. One of Kay’s customers, William Nisbet of Dirleton, took to Kay and desired to foster his talent. Nisbet supplied Kay with proper artistic materials for the first time in his life and supported Kay’s family as he became established. Nisbet died in 1782, but arranged for Kay to draw a yearly sum of money from his estate. Kay published his first caricature in 1784, when he was 42; and during a long and distinguished career produced portraits, sketches and caricatures of Scotland’s most important personalities and of Edinburgh’s celebrities and oddities. He worked steadily at his craft until his death in 1826. Kay is buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh.

Our image, Kay’s “The Lawyer; The Client”, dates to 1790, in the first decade of his professional career. The British Museum tells us that Kay drew inspiration from a print published, though not necessarily executed, by John Wallis in 1789 , depicting “Moses and The Vicar” (a parish clerk and a parson), and which seems to come from a popular ballad of the period.

With the black hat and the wig, Kay’s etching uses the exact same elements and the same composition as that of Wallis. I can spot only two real differences. Most obviously, Kay labels the characters represented differently, changing “Moses and the Vicar” to “The Lawyer and the Client”. Along with the change in professions, Kay’s caricatures, with their wrinkles and warts, are considerably more satirical. It’s funny to think that despite the passage of time, public opinion on certain matters can remain remarkably obstinate. This wasn’t the only etching Kay produced in this satirical style (you can see another one here), suggesting that, thankfully, the law profession shouldn’t feel uniquely victimized. The great equalizers are death and the satirist’s pen.

To produce an etching, the artist scratches his drawing into a wax ground covering a metal plate, often copper, to create an intaglio design. When he’s completed his image, he soaks the plate in a bath of acid, which eats away at the exposed parts of the metal; that is, everywhere he’s scratched through the wax. After the acid bath, the artist scrapes away the remaining wax, inks the metal plate, and puts it to paper. Etching allows the artist greater freedom than engraving, as wax is much easier to manipulate than metal. Identifying the various types of prints can be tricky, but one thing you can look for is the impression the plate makes around the image, as etchings and engravings require an enormous amount of force to properly transfer ink from plate to paper. You won’t find this impression with woodblock or most modern methods of printmaking.

There’s one last issue to consider with regard to our print; namely, the “state” of the plate from which it was printed. Compared to a copy of the image online at the British National Portrait Gallery, ours seems identical, right down to the presence of three small dots in the bottom left when “The Lawyer” faces right side up; but there is one glaring difference. Ours  print has the number “347” in the bottom right corner when “The Client” is right side up, whereas the National Portrait Gallery’s does not. One other copy was also not numbered; and unfortunately, the British Museum record for the etching does not include an image with which we could compare ours.

I could find only one more copy online, and thankfully, this one solved the riddle. I believe our print was taken from the second volume of the two-volume collection A Series of Original Portraits and Caricature Etchings by the Late John Kay, with Biographical Sketches and Illustrative Anecdotes, published after Kay’s death in 1837-1838, in which all images are numbered. The introductory notice to the first volume notes that that Kay tried unsuccessfully to publish a collected works in his own lifetime, and that after his and his widow’s death, his original plates came into the possession of Hugh Paton, the book’s compiler and publisher. Our presumption is that, for the collection, Paton had the catalogue number added to (ie, inscribed onto) each individual plate used for the published work. This would mean that our print was made after Kay’s death, from a late state of the original plate, with the numbering added. Of course, this knowledge does not make our print any less interesting.

Kay’s Lawyer and Client is currently the only work of art (other than the books) in the Canada Law Book Rare Book Reading Room, but only one of many in the law library. Next time you’re on a study break, take a stroll and admire our growing collection.