Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/19

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10

The Green Bag

sumably few other living men could do, upon the dry subject of the history of Anglo-American law. Every page is worth reading; every page gives a stim ulus to new thoughts, or confirms or overturns old ones." Dean Wigmore admits that on a mere perusal of the metaphorical chapter headings he was repelled by a sensation of euphuism, but the reading of the book removed this distaste. "Certainly, if the object of using it was to invoke deep sentiment and high elevation to the nobility of the lawyer's career, that object is attained. Mr. Justice Holmes is the only legal writer in English (of the past century) who hitherto has won his readers or hearers while striking this note." The timeliness of Pollock's comments on "almost every debatable topic" of our modern law is noted, arid a charac teristic and highly suggestive reference occurs to Sir Frederick's casual mention of Thackeray's sentence: "Mr. Paley has not been throwing himself away; he has only been bringing a great in tellect laboriously down to the com prehension of a mean subject." This deprecatory attitude of Thackeray toward the law, says Dean Wigmore, "was more or less generally the temper of the intellectuals in the stirring days of Kingsley and Newman and Peel.

As late as the '60's, Mr. Justice Holmes tells us. in his introduction to the recently appeared General Survey of Continental Legal History, young men of promise were found turning away from the law because it was a 'mean subject,' a barren study, unmeet for men of heart and soul. And the law deserved this then. "There have been other such periods of dryasdustism in the law. There was one, on the Continent, back in the 1400's, when Bartolus and his followers reigned intellectually supreme. Read what the early Humanists said about the law, and then what the later ones did to revive it. There is a revival of today, similar to that of Humanism four centuries ago, which will put such life and interest into the rules of law as they have not seen in Anglo-American annals, since the days of the Commonwealth and Charles II. And the capacity of its magnetism will be so increased that Sir Frederick's closing sentence (which we believe he himself could not have really felt a generation ago) will really come true in the next generation: 'There is no more arduous enterprise for lawful men, and none more noble than the Perpetual Quest of Justice laid upon all of us who are pledged to serve Our Lady the Common Law.' "