Page:Select Essays in Anglo-American Legal History, Volume 1.djvu/11

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vii
PREFACE

umes to that class of our expected readers who are already immersed in practice; for those ancient writers, he says, "have this great convenience (suited to my humour) that the knowledge I there seek is discoursed in several pieces, not requiring any great trouble of reading long, of which I am incapable; 'tis no great undertaking to take one of them in hand, and I give over to them at pleasure, for they have no necessary chain or dependence upon one another."

To the profession, then, and to all its members, whether in school or out of it, we commend this Collection, in the hope that it may bring into general knowledge the main part of the historical achievements which are not yet contained in independent volumes, and that it may help to stimulate a deeper and wider knowledge of the present meaning of our law as seen in the light of its past. Sooner or later the number of those who themselves take an efficient part in historical legal research will have to be, and will be, much increased. But that day will the sooner come to pass if meantime the number of those can be increased who will read and appreciate what has already been done, and will thus give support and encouragement for such research. Science expands with culture, and, in Matthew Arnold's phrase, "Culture is reading,—but reading with a purpose to guide it, and with system. He does a good work who does anything to help this; indeed, it is the one essential service now to be rendered to education."

In giving account of our labors in the preparation of this Collection, it is our first duty, on behalf of our profession, to thank those authors and publishers who have so freely allowed the reprinting of these essays and chapters. From the leaders of the historical vanguard (so to speak)—of whom Professor Brunner of Berlin, the lamented Professor Maitland of Cambridge, Sir F. Pollock of Oxford, Mr. Justice Holmes of Washington, Professor Ames of Harvard, and Professor Bigelow of Boston, are representative—this consent has been especially welcome.

We must, secondly, express our regret that the limitations of scope and space have forced the omission of many essays