Front Page Titles (by Subject) PREFACE. - Dissertations on Early Law and Custom
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PREFACE. - Sir Henry Sumner Maine, Dissertations on Early Law and Custom 
Dissertations on Early Law and Custom, chiefly selected from Lectures delivered at Oxford (London: John Murray, 1883).
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Two courses of lectures, delivered by the Author while he had the honour of holding the Corpus Professorship of Jurisprudence in the University of Oxford, have been already published with the titles ‘Village-Communities in the East and West,’ and ‘The Early History of Institutions.’ The substance of the present volume was originally contained in lectures which formed part of various other courses given by him at Oxford; but in some cases the form has been materially altered.
The Author continues in these pages the line of investigation which he has followed in former works. He endeavours to connect a portion of existing institutions with a part of the primitive or very ancient usages of mankind, and of the ideas associated with these usages. In his first four chapters he attempts, with the help of the invaluable series of ‘Sacred Books of the East,’ translated under the superintendence of Professor Max Müller, to throw some light on that close implication of early law with ancient religion which meets the inquirer on the threshold of the legal systems of several societies which have contributed greatly to modern civilisation. In the chapters which follow, he treats of another influence which has acted strongly on early law, the authority of the King. In the later portions of the book he examines certain forms of property and tenure, and certain legal conceptions and legal classifications, which have survived to our day, but which appear to have had their origin in remote antiquity. In a few words at the commencement of his Seventh Chapter, the writer has explained his reasons for prefixing to his later chapters a discussion of some ‘Theories of Primitive Society.’
The substance of Chapters V., VI., IX., and XI. has already appeared in the ‘Fortnightly Review,’ and the bulk of Chapter VIII. in the ‘Nineteenth Century;’ and the Author has to express his thanks to the proprietors of those periodicals for their permission to republish his contributions.