Page:English Law and the Renaissance.djvu/45

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33
and the Renaissance

A hundred legislatures—little more or less—are now building on that foundation: on the rock that was not submerged. We will not say this boastfully. Far from it. Standing at the beginning of a century and in the first year of Edward VII, thinking of the wide lands which call him king, thinking of our complex and loosely-knit British Commonwealth, we cannot look into the future without serious misgivings. If unity of law—such unity as there has been—disappears, much else that we treasure will disappear also, and (to speak frankly) unity of law is precarious. The power of the parliament of the United Kingdom to legislate for the colonies is fast receding into the ghostly company of legal fictions. Men of our race have been litigious; the great Ihering admired our litigiousness74; it is one of our more amiable traits; but it seems to me idle to believe that distant parts of the earth will supply a tribunal at Westminster with enough work to secure uniformity. The so-called common law of one colony will swerve