IGNORANCE. The want of knowledge.
2. Ignorance is distinguishable from error. Ignorance is want of knowledge; error is the non-conformity or opposition of our ideas to the truth. Considered as a motive of our actions, ignorance differs but little from error. They are generally found together, and what is said of one is said of both.
3. Ignorance and error, are of several kinds. 1. When considered as to their object, they are of law and of fact. 2. When examined as to their origin, they are voluntary or involuntary, 3. When viewed with regard to their influence on the affairs of men, they are essential or non-essential.
4. - 1. Ignorance of law and fact. 1. Ignorance of law, consists in the want of knowledge of those laws which it is our duty to understand, and which every man is presumed to know. The law forbids any one to marry a woman whose hushand is living. If any man, then, imagined he could marry such a woman, he would be ignorant of the law; and, if he married her, he would commit an error as to a matter of law. How far a party is bound to fulfil a promise to pay, upon a supposed liability, and in ignorance of the law, see 12 East, R. 38; 2 Jac. & Walk. 263; 5 Taunt. R. 143; 3 B. & Cresw. R. 280; 1 John. Ch. R. 512, 516; 6 John. Ch. R. 166; 9 Cowen's R. 674; 4 Mass. R. 342; 7 Mass. R. 452; 7 Mass. R. 488; 9 Pick. R. 112; 1 Binn. R. 27. And whether he can be relieved from a contract entered into in ignorance or mistake of the law. 1 Atk. 591; 1 Ves. & Bea. 23, 30; 1 Chan. Cas. 84; 2 Vern. 243; 1 John. Ch. R. 512; 2 John. Ch. R. 51; 1 Pet. S. C. R. 1; 6 John. Ch. R. 169, 170; 8 Wheat. R. 174; 2 Mason, R. 244, 342.
5. - 2. Ignorance of fact, is the want of knowledge as to the fact in question. It would be an error resulting from ignorance of a fact, if a man believed a certain woman to be unmarried and free, when in fact, she was a married woman; and were he to marry her under that belief, he would not be criminally responsible. Ignorance of the laws of a foreign government, or of another state; is ignorance of a fact. 9 Pick. 112. Vide, for the difference between ignorance of law and ignorance of fact, 9 Pick. R. 112; Clef. des Lois Rom. mot Fait; Dig. 22, 6, 7.
6. - 2. Ignorance is either voluntary or involuntary. 1. It is voluntary when a party might, by taking reasonable pains, have acquired the necessary knowledge. For example, every man might acquire a knowledge of the laws which have been promulgated, a neglect to become acquainted with them is therefore voluntary ignorance. Doct. & St. 1, 46; Plowd. 343.
7. - 2. Involuntary ignorance is that which does not proceed from choice, and which cannot be overcome by the use of any means of knowledge known to him and within his power; as, the ignorance of a law which has not yet been promulgated.
8. - 3. Ignorance is either essential or non-essential. 1. By essential ignorance is understood that which has for its object some essential circumstance so intimately connected with the: matter in question, and which so influences the parties that it induces them to act in the business. For example, if A should sell his horse to B, and at the time of the sale the horse was dead, unknown to the parties, the fact of the death would render the sale void. Poth. Vente, n. 3 and 4; 2 Kent, Com. 367.
9. - 2. Non-essential or accidental ignorance is that which has not of itself any necessary connexion with the business in question, and which is not the true consideration for enteting into the contract; as, if a man should marry a woman whom he believed to be rich, and she proved to be poor, this fact would not be essential, and the marriage would therefore be good. Vide, generally, Ed. Inj. 7; 1 Johns. h. R. 512; 2 Johns. Ch. R. 41; S. C. 14 Johns. R 501; Dougl. 467; 2 East, R. 469; 1 Campb. 134: 5 Taunt. 379; 3 M. & S. 378; 12 East, R. 38; 1 Vern. 243; 3 P. Wms. 127, n.; 1 Bro. C. C. 92; 10 Ves. 406; 2 Madd. R. 163; 1 V. & B. 80; 2 Atk. 112, 591; 3 P. Wms. 315; Mos. 364; Doct. & Stud. Dial. 1, c. 26, p. 92; Id. Dial. 2, ch. 46, p. 303; 2 East, R. 469; 12 East, R. 38; 1 Fonbl. Eq. B. 1, ch. 2, 7, note v; 8 Wheat. R. 174; S. C. 1 Pet. S. C. R. 1; 1 Chan. Cas. 84; 1 Story, Eq. Jur. 137, note 1; Dig. 22, 6; Code, 1, 16; Clef des Lois Rom. h. t.; Merl. RĮpert. h. t.; 3 Sav. Dr. Rom. Appendice viii., pp. 337 to 444. '
STUPIDITY, med. jur. That state of the mind which cannot perceive and embrace the data presented to it by the senses; and therefore the stupid person can, in general, form no correct judgment. It is a want of the perceptive powers. Ray, Med. Jur. c. 3, 40. Vide Imbecility.
LICENSE, International law. An authority given by one of two belligerent parties, to the citizens or subjects of the other, to carry on a specified trade. 2. The effects of the license are to suspend or relax the rules of war to the extent of the authority given. It is the assumption of a state of peace to the extent of the license. In the country which grants them, licenses to carry on a pacific commerce are stricti juris, as being exceptions to the general rule; though they are not to be construed with pedantic accuracy, nor will every small deviation be held to vitiate the fair effect of them. 4 Rob. Rep. 8; Chitty, Law of Nat. 1 to 5, and 260; 1 Kent, Com. 164, 85.
Name. 5. No man can have more than one Christian name; 1 Ld. Raym. 562; Bac. Ab. Misnomer, A; though two or more names usually ke* t separate, as John and Peter, may undoubtedly be compounded, so as to form, in contemplation of law, but one. 5 T. R. 195. A letter put between the Christian and surname, as an abbreviation of a part of the Christian name, as, John B. Peterson, is no part of either. 4 Watts' R. 329; 5 John. R. 84; 14 Pet. R. 322; 3 Pet. R. 7; 2 Cowen. 463; Co. Litt. 3 a; 1 Ld. Raym. 562; , Vin. Ab. Misnomer, C 6, pl. 5 and 6: Com. Dig. Indictment, G 1, note u; Willes, R. 654; Bac. Abr. Misnomer and Addition; 3 Chit. Pr. 164 to 173; 1 Young, R. 602. But see 7 Watts & Serg. 406.
5. In general a corporation must contract and sue and be sued by its corporate name; 8 Jobn. R. 295; 14 John. R. 238; 19 John. R. 300; 4 Rand. R. 359; yet a slight alteration in stating the name is unimportant, if there be no possibility of mistaking the identity of the corporation suing. 12 L. R. 444.
8. As to names which have the same sound, see Bac. Ab. Misnomer, A; 7 Serg & Rawle, 479; Hammond's Analysis of Pleading, 89; 10 East. R. 83; and article Idem Sonans.
11. When a person uses a name in making a contract under seal, he will not be permitted to say that it is not his name; as, if he sign and seal a bond " A and B," (being his own and his partner's name,) and he had no authority from bis partner to make such a deed, he cannot deny that bis name is A. & B. 1 Raym. 2; 1 Salk. 214.
And if a man describes himself in the body of a deed by the name of James and signs it John, he cannot, on being sued by the latter name, plead that his name is James. 3 Taunt. 505; Cro. Eliz. 897, n. a. Vide 3 P. & D. 271; 11 Ad. & L. 594.
The above # 11 is important. If you sign a document in which your name is misnomered (initialed or all uppercase) you can not plead that you are not the "FICTION" created by LAW or not that PERSON. =============================================================
by Henry Maine
I employ the word "fiction" in a sense considerably wider than that in which English lawyer are accustomed to use it, and with a meaning much more extensive than that which belonged to the Roman "fictiones.
" Fictio, in old Roman law, is properly a term of pleading, and signifies a false averment on the part of the plaintiff which the defendant was not allowed to traverse; such, for example, as an averment that the plaintiff was a Roman citizen, when in truth he was a foreigner.
The object of these "fictiones" was, of course, to give jurisdiction, and they therefore strongly resembled the allegations in the writs of the English Queen's Bench, and Exchequer, by which those Courts contrived to usurp the jurisdiction of the Common Pleas:
-- the allegation that the defendant was in custody of the king's marshal, or that the plaintiff was the king's debtor, and could not pay his debt by reason of the defendant's default.
But I now employ the expression "Legal Fiction" to signify any assumption which conceals, or affects to conceal, the fact that a rule of law has undergone alteration, its letter remaining unchanged, its operation being modified.
The words, therefore, include the instances of fictions which I have cited from the English and Roman law, but they embrace much more, for I should speak both of the English Case-law and of the Roman Responsa Prudentum as resting on fictions. Both these examples will be examined presently.
The fact is in both cases that the law has been wholly changed; the fiction is that it remains what it always was. It is not difficult to understand why fictions in all their forms are particularly congenial to the infancy of society.
They satisfy the desire for improvement, which is not quite wanting, at the same time that they do not offend the superstitious disrelish for change which is always present.
At a particular stage of social progress they are invaluable expedients for overcoming the rigidity of law, and, indeed, without one of them, the Fiction of Adoption which permits the family tie to be artificially created, it is difficult to understand how society would ever have escaped from its swaddling clothes, and taken its first steps towards civilisation.
We must, therefore, not suffer ourselves to be affected by the ridicule which Bentham pours on legal fictions wherever he meets them.
To revile them as merely fraudulent is to betray ignorance of their peculiar office in the historical development of law. But at the same time it would be equally foolish to agree with those theorists, who, discerning that fictions have had their uses, argue that they ought to be stereotyped in our system.
They have had their day, but it has long since gone by. It is unworthy of us to effect an admittedly beneficial object by so rude a device as a legal fiction. I cannot admit any anomaly to be innocent, which makes the law either more difficult to understand or harder to arrange in harmonious order.
Now legal fictions are the greatest of obstacles to symmetrical classification. The rule of law remains sticking in the system, but it is a mere shell.
It has been long ago undermined, and a new rule hides itself under its cover. Hence there is at once a difficulty in knowing whether the rule which is actually operative should be classed in its true or in its apparent place, and minds of different casts will differ as to the branch of the alternative which ought to be selected.