Page:Harvard Law Review Volume 2.djvu/302

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


284 ^^^ YARD LA W RE VIE W

All that I contend is, that the method of study by cases is the best fomi of legal education that has yet been discovered.

It is the best, because it is most in accordance with the constitution of the human mind ; because the only way to learn how to do a thing is to do it. No man ever learned to dance or to swim by reading treatises upon saltation or natation. No man ever learned chemistry except by retort and crucible. No man ever learned mathematics without paper and pencil. . . .

" Although an important object of education is to tell the student what others have found out, a more important object is to teach him to find things for himself.

" The greatest teacher the world has ever known was fond of compar- ing himself to a midwife. His task, he said, was to aid the scholar to bring forth his own ideas. He, to-day, will be the most successful teacher who can best exercise this obstetrical function. And in law no better way has been devised to make the student work for himself than to give him a series of cases on a topic and compel him to discover the principles which they have settled and the process by which they have been evolved. A young man thus trained not only learns the common law, but is imbued with its historical and progressive spirit. . . .

"In the matter of exciting interest and fixing in the memory, the advantage is all on the side of the study of cases. To keep the atten- tion fastened and every power of the mind awake when reading continuously a book so severely abstract as a treatise on law, is a very difficult task. To retain the contents in the memory is still more diffi- cult. . . . The case gives form and substance to legal doctrine, it arrests the attention, it calls forth the reasoning powers, it implants in the memory the principles involved, . . .

" When from a case the student has gained a vivid sense of what the difficulties of a subject are, he will be eager to turn — and he will turn with profit — to find out what able and learned jurists have said on them, and to classify and systematize his knowledge. Their words will fall on a prepared soil, and will stay in his memory. But to begin with text-books is to begin at the wrong end."

A RECENT decision by Judge Jackson, of the United States Circuit Court, at Louisville, Ky.,* has an important bearing on the powers of the Interstate Commerce Commission. A controversy between the Kentucky & Indiana Bridge Company and the Louisville & Nashville Railroad had been brought before the Commission, who decided in favor of the Bridge Company. The railroad refused to obey the orders of the Commission, and the Bridge Company applied to the court to enforce the order. After a hearing, the court refused to follow the rec- ommendation of the Commission, or to enforce their order against the Railroad Company. The court, in so deciding, held that, the Commis- sion being given no power to enforce their decrees and being obliged to apply to the United States Circuit Courts for that purpose, their decisions have no final or binding authority ; they are only in the nature of reports of a referee, which leave all questions of law and fact open for the con- sideration ojf the Circuit Court as original questions, except in so far as the findings are prima facie evidence of what is therein contained.

The Interstate Commerce Act provides, in substance, that the Com-

» The Chicago Times Jan. 8, 1889. [37 Fed. Rep. 567.]