English Law Essays

This frame and these cross-beams are, on the one hand, the few larger monographs, from Mr.

The roof, the walls, the floors, the furnishings and decoration, are yet lacking.

Its scope and internal plan, its architecture and its relation of parts, can be already plainly seen.

Furthermore, in several essays and monographs, the narrow range of details, the lengthy marshalling of the historical evidence, or the impossibility of separating usable parts, has made them ineligible; though a reference-list of such authorities has been appended in the proper places.

A main motive for the Collection was to rescue, from scattered series of periodicals or general treatises on present law, and to assemble in one convenient form, those essays or chapters which are of permanent value and would otherwise fail of the constant and wide perusal which they deserve.

Johnson’s pronouncement upon French literature (and it was the kindest thing he had to say about it), that “he valued it chiefly for this reason: that it had a book upon every subject.” Even so much as this could hardly be claimed for our own literature in English.

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To this day it has no complete book upon the history of its own law.

It is now time for our profession to take account of past progress,—to put together and to possess in mastery that which has been so far achieved; following the dictate of Goethe: “My maxim in the study of Nature is this: Hold fast what is certain, and keep a watch on what is uncertain.” The times demand, too, of our profession, more cultivation of the taste for history.

A counter-balance against the hasty pressure for reform, and against an over-absorption in the narrow experience of the present, is to be sought in the solid influence of history.

Digby’s History of the Law of Real Property, or Mr. But, in several instances, exceptions to this plan were allowed.

The impelling reason was the Committee’s desire to give a certain symmetry to some topics and periods which would otherwise have been imperfectly represented.


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