Page:English Law and the Renaissance.djvu/15

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
and the Renaissance

have known Sir Robert except as an English lawyer who throve so well in his profession that he became Chief Justice of the Common Bench. And the rest of the acts of Robert Rede—we might say—and the arguments that he urged and the judgments that he pronounced, are they not written in queer old French in the Year Books of Henry VII and Henry VIII? Those ancient law reports are not a place in which we look for humanism or the spirit of the Renaissance: rather we look there for an amazingly continuous persistence and development of medieval doctrine.

Perhaps we should hardly believe if we were told for the first time that in the reign of James I a man who was the contemporary of Shakespeare and Bacon, a very able man too and a learned, who left his mark deep in English history, said, not by way of paradox but in sober earnest, said repeatedly and advisedly, that a certain thoroughly medieval book written in decadent colonial French was 'the most perfect