Front Page Titles (by Subject) PREFACE - Select Essays in Anglo-American Legal History, vol. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
PREFACE - Committee of the Association of American Law Schools, Select Essays in Anglo-American Legal History, vol. 2 
Select Essays in Anglo-American Legal History, by various authors, compiled and edited by a committee of the Association of American Law Schools, in three volumes (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1908). Vol. 2.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
THE first volume of this series seems to have met with the commendation of those for whom it was intended. This, in the opinion of the Editorial Committee, is partly due to the singular symmetry with which the individual essays were found to unite in a mosaic showing the general pattern of our law for the last six centuries. In the present volume, containing the first half of Book II, History of Particular Topics of the Law, that feature can no longer be looked for in such degree; the separate Essays will more usually have, in Coleridge’s phrase, only “the same connection that marbles have in a bag,—they touch without adhering.”
But what may be lost in symmetry is more than made up in concreteness. The solid tangibleness of the ultimate details gives somehow its own peculiar satisfaction. The Essays tell each its separate story of legal history: the varied succession of pictures pleases, like the assembled incidents of daily life depicted by Homer on Achilles’s shield:
So through Procedure and Courts to Property and Torts these detailed cameos make up an interesting whole. Some day the missing spaces will be filled in, and the present tracings revised and re-set. Both the small facts and the large features of our last six centuries we shall then know as well at least as the Germans and the French already know their own much more complicated story.
The other contributors to the volume will surely pardon the Committee for specially mentioning its appreciation of the interest shown and the labor done by Professor Heinrich Brunner in re-writing for this Series his essay on the Sources of English Law. May his interest in our legal history stimulate some of us to take a like interest in the origins of that related system for which he has done so much!
No less important and attractive to us, for a later stage in our development, should be the history of Norman and French law, and the researches of the great scholars who labor on it. How much lies there for us, a mere glance at the citations on any page of the lamented leader Maitland will show. Thus far, none of that material has been available for this Series; but it is the hope of the Committee that the third volume will include one representative essay from the French field.
After all, we must recognize that an enlightened cosmopolitanism will be no new thing for us in the legal sphere. Many men from many other lands and systems, in time past, have shared in influencing our law. Bracton drew inspiration from an Italian, and Blackstone from a Frenchman; on Dutch learning Hardwicke and Kent were nourished; an Italian supervised the preparation of Domesday Book, and a Dutchman signed the Bill of Rights; Anglo-Saxon laws have been unearthed by a German, and Bracton’s Note-Book by a Slav; and a Frenchman made Bentham famous. Even the latest achievement of Maitland, which traces back our theory of equitable trusts to an ancient Lombard idea (expounded in a modern German book), was given to the world in an Austrian periodical and is as yet formally unpublished in our own language. The day of the open door in legal learning is upon us.
It remains to repeat that the Lists of References prefixed to each of the Parts in this Book are not put forth as exhaustive, but are intended merely to assemble in convenient form the various materials which the Committee came upon in preparing the selection here reprinted.
The Committee of the
William E. Mikell,
John H. Wigmore,Chairman,