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."