Page:English Law and the Renaissance.djvu/29

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17
and the Renaissance

the Tudors. Nevertheless I think that a well-equipped lecturer might persuade a leisurely audience to perceive that in the second quarter of the sixteenth century the continuity of English legal history was seriously threatened37.

Unquestionably our medieval law was open to humanistic attacks. It was couched partly in bad Latin, partly in worse French. For the business Latin of the middle age there is much to be said. It is a pleasant picture that which we have of Thomas More puzzling the omniscient foreigner by the question 'An averia carucae capta in withernamio sunt irreplegibilia38.' He asked a practical question in the only Latin in which that question could have been asked without distortion. Smith's acute glance saw that withernamium must have something to do with the German wiedernehmen; for among his other pursuits our professor had interested himself in the study of English words39. But this business Latin was a pure and elegant language when compared with what