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Blupete's Weekly Commentary


December 31st, 2000.

"Lawyers, History and Literature."

"A lawyer without history and literature is a mechanic, a mere working mason; if he possess some knowledge of these, he may venture to call himself an architect." [Sir Walter Scott, Guy Mannering.]

"The Laws of a country are necessarily connected with every thing belonging to the people of it; so that a thorough knowledge of them, and of their progress, would inform us of every thing that was most useful to be known about them; and one of the greatest imperfections of historians in general, is owing to their ignorance of law." [Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), Lectures on History.]

"The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience. The seed of every new growth within its sphere has been a felt necessity. The form of continuity has been kept up by reasonings purporting to reduce everything to a logical sequence; but that form is nothing but the evening dress which the new-comer puts on to make itself presentable according to conventional requirements. The important phenomenon is the man underneath it, not the coat; the justice and reasonableness of a decision, not its consistency with previously held views. No one will ever have a truly philosophic mastery over the law who does not habitually consider the forces outside of it which have made it what it is...."1 [Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.]

For further material on this subject, see "Wigmore's Reading List."

________________

NOTES:

1 A Selection of Cases on the Law of Contracts, 2d ed., by Christoper C. Langdell, American Law Review 14 (1880): 233.

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Peter Landry

December, 2000 (2011)