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CAVIL. Sophism, subtlety. Cavilis a captious argument, by which a conclusion evidently false, is drawn from a principle evidently true: Ea est natura cavillationis ut ab evidenter veris, per brevissimas mutationes disputatio, ad ea quce evidentur falsa sunt perducatur. Dig. 60, 16, 177 et 233; Id. 17, 65; Id. 33, 2, 88.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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(30) In referring to Huntington as a "confidence-man," I am calling attention to Herman Melville's proleptic satire of modern American (humanist) optimism, a blind optimism that, like Huntington's, derives from perceiving the differential being of being meta-ta-physika (from after or above the temporal world): "In short," Melville says ironically, paraphrasing the words of one of the many avatars of the American confidence-man, "with all sorts of cavillers, it was best, both for them and everybody, that whoever had the true light should stick behind the secure Malakoff of confidence [the reference is to an 'impregnable' fort defended by the Russians in the Crimean War that fell to the French in 1855], nor to be tempted forth to hazardous skirmishes on the open ground of reason.
"Cervantes perhaps with the undistinguishing Herd of his countrymen"--might not this be softened, even preserving the sense [?] Mr White did not like it better than myself, that expression, & the best reason he gave for not altering it, for I own I would have done so, was, this Question, may not Mr Bowle think we take too great Liberties with his Diction[?] I answered[,] Mr Bowle is master to determine at last; we mean as his friends to defend him from Cavillers or Criticks when it is made publick, & some, nay often, times a cool reader is more aware, than the writer can be, especially a head so fraught with abundant various matter as that of our friend Mr Bowle[.] Pray think of this before the sheet is work[ed] of[f].
We don't need any more headstrong, litigious lawyers; we've been groaning under the weight of carpers and cavillers for years.
Cavillers will object that the sole play worthy of that description is the Auto da India and that the Exortacao da Guerra and the first Barca clamoured only for the control of ever more pracas in Atlantic Morocco, an area where the Portuguese had been establishing footholds ever since the capture, a full century earlier, of Ceuta in i415, and that even the projected subjugation of the whole Magreb hardly amounted to 'discovery'.