LAURUS, in botany, bay-tree, a genus of the Enneandria Monogynia class and order. Natural order of Itoloracem. Lauri, Jussieu. Essential character : calyx none ; corolla calycine, six-parted ; nectary of three two-bristled glands, surrounding the germ; filaments inner, glanduliferous; drupe one-seeded. There are thirty-two species. This genus consists of trees or shrubs ; leaves mostly entire, in a feed nearly opposite, commonly perennial, as in most trees of the torrid zone. L. nobilis, common sweet-bay, has been celebrated in all ages ; with us it appears as a shrub ; but in the southern parts of Europe, it grows from twenty to thirty feet in height ; it has large evergreen leaves, of a firm texture, with an agreeable smell, and an aromatic, bitterish taste ; flowers dioecious, or male and female on different trees, in racemes shorter than the leaves, of an herbaceous colour : co rollas four-petalled in the male flowers ; stamens from eight to twelve; berry supe rior, of a dark purple colour, almost black. It is a native of the southern parts of Eu rope and Asia. L. persea, alligator, or avocado pear, of the West Indies, is about thirty feet in height ; the bark is smooth, and of an ash colour ; the branches have large, smooth leaves, like those of laurel ; the flowers are mostly produced towards the extremities of the branches ; the fruit is the size of one of our biggest pears, inclosing a large seed with two lobes. This fruit is held in great esteem in the West Indies; the pulp is of a pretty firm consistence, and has a delicate, rich flavour ; it gains upon the palate of most persons, and soon becomes agreea ble even to those who cannot like it at first ; it is very rich and mild, so that most people make use of some spice or pungent substance to give it a poignancy.
LAW, (Sax. lag. Let. lex, from Lego, or le ends, choosing, or rather a ligando, from binding), the rule and bond of men's actions : or it is a rule for the well govern ing of civil society, to give to every man that which cloth belong to him.
Law, in its most general and compre hensive sense, is defined by Blackstone, in the Commentaries, ' a rule of action,' and is applied indiscriminately to all kinds of action, whether animate or in animate, rational or irrational. And it is that rule of action which is prescribed by some superior, and which the inferior is bound to obey.
Laws, in their more confined sense, and in which it is the business of works of this nature to consider them, denote the rules, not of action in general, but of human action or conduct. And this per haps (it has been acutely observed) is the only sense in which the word law can be strictly used ; for in all cases where it is not applied to human conduct, it may be considered as a metaphor, and in every instance a more appropriate term (as quality or property) may be found. When law is applied to any other object than man, it ceases to contain two of its essen tial ingredients, disobedience and punish ment.
Municipal law, is by the same great commentator defined to be "a rule of civil conduct, prescribed by the supreme power in a state ; commanding what is right, and prohibiting what is wrong." The latter clause of this sentence seems to Mr. Christian to be either superfluous or defective. If we attend to the learned judge's exposition, perhaps we may be inclined to use the words " establishing and ascertaining what is right or wrong;" and all cavil or difficulty will vanish.
Every law may be said to consist of several parts ; declaratory, whereby the rights to be observed, and the wrong to be eschewed, are clearly defined and laid down ; directory, whereby the subject of a state is instructed and enjoined to ob serve those rights, and to abstain from the commission of those wrongs ; remedial, whereby a method is pointed out to re cover a man's private rights or redress his private wrongs ; vindicatory, which imposes the sanction, whereby it is signi. fled what evil or penalty shall be incurred by such as commit any public wrongs, and transgress or neglect any duty.