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The Path of Law

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

10 Harvard Law Review 457 (1897)

When we study law we are not studying a mystery but a wellknown


profession. We are studying what we shall want in order to appear before
judges,ortoadvisepeopleinsuchawayastokeepthemoutofcourt.The
reasonwhyitisaprofession,whypeoplewillpaylawyerstoargueforthemor
toadvisethem,isthatinsocietieslikeoursthecommandofthepublicforceis
intrustedtothejudgesincertaincases,andthewholepowerofthestatewillbe
putforth,ifnecessary,tocarryouttheirjudgmentsanddecrees.Peoplewantto
knowunderwhatcircumstancesandhowfartheywillruntheriskofcoming
againstwhatissomuchstrongerthanthemselves,andhenceitbecomesa
businesstofindoutwhenthisdangeristobefeared.Theobjectofourstudy,
then,isprediction,thepredictionoftheincidenceofthepublicforcethroughthe
instrumentalityofthecourts.

The means of the study are a body of reports, of treatises, and of


statutes,inthiscountryandinEngland,extendingbackforsixhundredyears,
and now increasing annually by hundreds. In these sibylline leaves are
gatheredthescatteredpropheciesofthepastuponthecasesinwhichtheaxe
willfall.Thesearewhatproperlyhavebeencalledtheoraclesofthelaw.Far
themostimportantandprettynearlythewholemeaningofeveryneweffortof
legalthoughtistomakethesepropheciesmoreprecise,andtogeneralizethem
into a thoroughly connected system. The process is one, from a lawyer's
statementofacase,eliminatingasitdoesallthedramaticelementswithwhich
hisclient'sstoryhasclothedit,andretainingonlythefactsoflegalimport,upto
thefinalanalysesandabstractuniversalsoftheoreticjurisprudence.Thereason
whyalawyerdoesnotmentionthathisclientworeawhitehatwhenhemadea
contract,whileMrs.Quicklywouldbesuretodwelluponitalongwiththeparcel
giltgobletandtheseacoalfire,isthatheforeseesthatthepublicforcewillact
in the same way whatever his client had upon his head. It is to make the
prophecieseasiertoberememberedandtobeunderstoodthattheteachingsof
thedecisionsofthepastareputintogeneralpropositionsandgatheredinto
textbooks,orthatstatutesarepassedinageneralform.Theprimaryrightsand
dutieswithwhichjurisprudencebusiesitselfagainarenothingbutprophecies.
Oneofthemanyevileffectsoftheconfusionbetweenlegalandmoralideas,
aboutwhichIshallhavesomethingtosayinamoment,isthattheoryisaptto
getthecartbeforethehorse,andconsidertherightorthedutyassomething
existingapartfromandindependentoftheconsequencesofitsbreach,towhich
certainsanctionsareaddedafterward.But,asIshalltrytoshow,alegaldutyso
calledisnothingbutapredictionthatifamandoesoromitscertainthingshe
willbemadetosufferinthisorthatwaybyjudgmentofthecourt;andsoofa
legalright.

The number of our predictions when generalized and reduced to a


systemisnotunmanageablylarge.Theypresentthemselvesasafinitebodyof
dogmawhichmaybemasteredwithinareasonabletime.Itisagreatmistaketo
befrightenedbytheeverincreasingnumberofreports.Thereportsofagiven
jurisdictioninthecourseofagenerationtakeupprettymuchthewholebodyof
thelaw,andrestateitfromthepresentpointofview.Wecouldreconstructthe
corpusfromthemifallthatwentbeforewereburned.Theuseoftheearlier
reportsismainlyhistorical,auseaboutwhichIshallhavesomethingtosay
beforeIhavefinished.

Iwish,ifIcan,tolaydownsomefirstprinciplesforthestudyofthisbody
ofdogmaorsystematizedpredictionwhichwecallthelaw,formenwhowantto
useitastheinstrumentoftheirbusinesstoenablethemtoprophesyintheir
turn,and,asbearinguponthestudy,Iwishtopointoutanidealwhichasyet
ourlawhasnotattained.
The first thing for a businesslike understanding of the matter is to
understanditslimits,andthereforeIthinkitdesirableatoncetopointoutand
dispel a confusion between morality and law, which sometimes rises to the
heightofconscioustheory,andmoreoftenandindeedconstantlyismaking
troubleindetailwithoutreachingthepointofconsciousness.Youcanseevery
plainlythatabadmanhasasmuchreasonasagoodoneforwishingtoavoid
an encounter with the public force, and therefore you can see the practical
importance of the distinction between morality and law. A man who cares
nothingforanethicalrulewhichisbelievedandpractisedbyhisneighborsis
likelyneverthelesstocareagooddealtoavoidbeingmadetopaymoney,and
willwanttokeepoutofjailifhecan.

ItakeitforgrantedthatnohearerofminewillmisinterpretwhatIhaveto
sayasthelanguageofcynicism.Thelawisthewitnessandexternaldepositof
ourmorallife.Itshistoryisthehistoryofthemoraldevelopmentoftherace.The
practiceofit,inspiteofpopularjests,tendstomakegoodcitizensandgood
men.WhenIemphasizethedifferencebetweenlawandmoralsIdosowith
referencetoasingleend,thatoflearningandunderstandingthelaw.Forthat
purposeyoumustdefinitelymasteritsspecificmarks,anditisforthatthatIask
you for the moment to imagine yourselves indifferent to other and greater
things.

I do not say that there is not a wider point of view from which the
distinctionbetweenlawandmoralsbecomesofsecondaryornoimportance,as
allmathematicaldistinctionsvanishinpresenceoftheinfinite.ButIdosaythat
thatdistinctionisofthefirstimportancefortheobjectwhichwearehereto
consider a right study and mastery of the law as a business with well
understoodlimits,abodyofdogmaenclosedwithindefinitelines.Ihavejust
shown the practical reason for saying so. If you want to know the law and
nothingelse,youmustlookatitasabadman,whocaresonlyforthematerial
consequenceswhichsuchknowledgeenableshimtopredict,notasagood
one,whofindshisreasonsforconduct,whetherinsidethelaworoutsideofit,in
the vaguer sanctions of conscience. The theoretical importance of the
distinctionisnoless,ifyouwouldreasononyoursubjectaright.Thelawisfull
of phraseology drawn from morals, and by the mere force of language
continuallyinvitesustopassfromonedomaintotheotherwithoutperceivingit,
aswearesuretodounlesswehavetheboundaryconstantlybeforeourminds.
Thelawtalksaboutrights,andduties,andmalice,andintent,andnegligence,
and so forth, and nothing is easier, or, I may say, more common in legal
reasoning,thantotakethesewordsintheirmoralsense,atsomestateofthe
argument,andsotodropintofallacy.Forinstance,whenwespeakoftherights
of man in a moral sense, we mean to mark the limits of interference with
individualfreedomwhichwethinkareprescribedbyconscience,orbyourideal,
howeverreached.Yetitiscertainthatmanylawshavebeenenforcedinthe
past,anditislikelythatsomeareenforcednow,whicharecondemnedbythe
mostenlightenedopinionofthetime,orwhichatalleventspassthelimitof
interference,asmanyconscienceswoulddrawit.Manifestly,therefore,nothing
butconfusionofthoughtcanresultfromassumingthattherightsofmanina
moralsenseareequallyrightsinthesenseoftheConstitutionandthelaw.No
doubt simple and extreme cases can be put of imaginable laws which the
statutemakingpowerwouldnotdaretoenact,evenintheabsenceofwritten
constitutionalprohibitions,becausethecommunitywouldriseinrebellionand
fight;andthisgivessomeplausibilitytothepropositionthatthelaw,ifnotapart
ofmorality,islimitedbyit.Butthislimitofpowerisnotcoextensivewithany
system of morals. For the most part it falls far within the lines of any such
system,andinsomecasesmayextendbeyondthem,forreasonsdrawnfrom
the habits of a particular people at a particular time. I once heard the late
ProfessorAgassizsaythataGermanpopulationwouldriseifyouaddedtwo
centstothepriceofaglassofbeer.Astatuteinsuchacasewouldbeempty
words,notbecauseitwaswrong,butbecauseitcouldnotbeenforced.Noone
willdenythatwrongstatutescanbeandareenforced,andwewouldnotall
agreeastowhichwerethewrongones.

The confusion with which I am dealing besets confessedly legal


conceptions.Takethefundamentalquestion,Whatconstitutesthelaw?Youwill
find some text writers telling you that it is something different from what is
decided by the courts of Massachusetts or England, that it is a system of
reason,thatitisadeductionfromprinciplesofethicsoradmittedaxiomsor
whatnot,whichmayormaynotcoincidewiththedecisions.Butifwetakethe
viewofourfriendthebadmanweshallfindthathedoesnotcaretwostrawsfor
the axioms or deductions, but that he does want to know what the
MassachusettsorEnglishcourtsarelikelytodoinfact.Iammuchofthismind.
Thepropheciesofwhatthecourtswilldoinfact,andnothingmorepretentious,
arewhatImeanbythelaw.

Take again a notion which as popularly understood is the widest


conceptionwhichthelawcontainsthenotionoflegalduty,towhichalreadyI
havereferred.Wefillthewordwithallthecontentwhichwedrawfrommorals.
Butwhatdoesitmeantoabadman?Mainly,andinthefirstplace,aprophecy
thatifhedoescertainthingshewillbesubjectedtodisagreeableconsequences
bywayofimprisonmentorcompulsorypaymentofmoney.Butfromhispointof
view,whatisthedifferencebetweenbeingfinedandtaxedacertainsumfor
doingacertainthing?Thathispointofviewisthetestoflegalprinciplesis
provenbythemanydiscussionswhichhaveariseninthecourtsonthevery
questionwhetheragivenstatutoryliabilityisapenaltyoratax.Ontheanswer
tothisquestiondependsthedecisionwhetherconductislegallywrongorright,
andalsowhetheramanisundercompulsionorfree.Leavingthecriminallaw
ononeside,whatisthedifferencebetweentheliabilityunderthemillactsor
statutesauthorizingatakingbyeminentdomainandtheliabilityforwhatwecall
awrongfulconversionofpropertywhererestorationisoutofthequestion.In
bothcasesthepartytakinganotherman'spropertyhastopayitsfairvalueas
assessed by a jury, and no more. What significance is there in calling one
takingrightandanotherwrongfromthepointofviewofthelaw?Itdoesnot
matter, so far as the given consequence, the compulsory payment, is
concerned, whether the act to which it is attached is described in terms of
praiseorintermsofblame,orwhetherthelawpurportstoprohibititortoallow
it.Ifitmattersatall,stillspeakingfromthebadman'spointofview,itmustbe
becauseinonecaseandnotintheothersomefurtherdisadvantages,orat
leastsomefurtherconsequences,areattachedtotheactbylaw.Theonlyother
disadvantagesthusattachedtoitwhichIeverhavebeenabletothinkofareto
befoundintwosomewhatinsignificantlegaldoctrines,bothofwhichmightbe
abolishedwithoutmuchdisturbance.Oneis,thatacontracttodoaprohibited
actisunlawful,andtheother,that,ifoneoftwoormorejointwrongdoershasto
payallthedamages,hecannotrecovercontributionfromhisfellows.AndthatI
believe is all. You see how the vague circumference of the notion of duty
shrinksandatthesametimegrowsmoreprecisewhenwewashitwithcynical
acidandexpeleverythingexcepttheobjectofourstudy,theoperationsofthe
law.

Nowhereistheconfusionbetweenlegalandmoralideasmoremanifest
than in the law of contract. Among other things, here again the socalled
primaryrightsanddutiesareinvestedwithamysticsignificancebeyondwhat
canbeassignedandexplained.Thedutytokeepacontractatcommonlaw
meansapredictionthatyoumustpaydamagesifyoudonotkeepitand
nothingelse.Ifyoucommitatort,youareliabletopayacompensatorysum.If
youcommitacontract,youareliabletopayacompensatorysumunlessthe
promisedeventcomestopass,andthatisallthedifference.Butsuchamode
oflookingatthematterstinksinthenostrilsofthosewhothinkitadvantageous
togetasmuchethicsintothelawastheycan.ItwasgoodenoughforLord
Coke,however,andhere,asinmanyotherscases,Iamcontenttoabidewith
him. InBromage v. Genning, a prohibition was sought in the Kings' Bench
against a suit in the marches of Wales for the specific performance of a
covenanttograntalease,andCokesaidthatitwouldsubverttheintentionof
the covenantor, since he intends it to be at his election either to lose the
damagesortomakethelease.SergeantHarrafortheplaintiffconfessedthat
hemovedthematteragainsthisconscience,andaprohibitionwasgranted.
Thisgoesfurtherthanweshouldgonow,butitshowswhatIventuretosayhas
beenthecommonlawpointofviewfromthebeginning,althoughMr.Harriman,
inhisveryablelittlebookuponContractshasbeenmisled,asIhumblythink,to
adifferentconclusion.

Ihavespokenonlyofthecommonlaw,becausetherearesomecasesin
which a logical justification can be found for speaking of civil liabilities as
imposingdutiesinanintelligiblesense.Thesearetherelativelyfewinwhich
equitywillgrantaninjunction,andwillenforceitbyputtingthedefendantin
prison or otherwise punishing him unless he complies with the order of the
court.ButIhardlythinkitadvisabletoshapegeneraltheoryfromtheexception,
andIthinkitwouldbebettertoceasetroublingourselvesaboutprimaryrights
and sanctions altogether, than to describe our prophecies concerning the
liabilitiescommonlyimposedbythelawinthoseinappropriateterms.

Imentioned,asotherexamplesoftheusebythelawofwordsdrawn
frommorals,malice,intent,andnegligence.Itisenoughtotakemaliceasitis
usedinthelawofcivilliabilityforwrongswhatwelawyerscallthelawoftorts
toshowthatitmeanssomethingdifferentinlawfromwhatitmeansinmorals,
andalsotoshowhowthedifferencehasbeenobscuredbygivingtoprinciples
which have little or nothing to do with each other the same name. Three
hundred years ago a parson preached a sermon and told a story out of
Fox'sBookofMartyrsofamanwhohadassistedatthetortureofoneofthe
saints,andafterwarddied,sufferingcompensatoryinwardtorment.Ithappened
thatFoxwaswrong.Themanwasaliveandchancedtohearthesermon,and
thereuponhesuedtheparson.ChiefJusticeWrayinstructedthejurythatthe
defendantwasnotliable,becausethestorywastoldinnocently,withoutmalice.
He took malice in the moral sense, as importing a malevolent motive. But
nowadays no one doubts that a man maybe liable, withoutanymalevolent
motive at all, for false statements manifestly calculated to inflict temporal
damage. In stating the case inpleading,we still should call the defendant's
conductmalicious;but,inmyopinionatleast,thewordmeansnothingabout
motives, or even about the defendant's attitude toward the future, but only
signifiesthatthetendencyofhisconductunderknowncircumstanceswasvery
plainlytocausetheplaintifftemporalharm.

In the law of contract the use of moral phraseology led to equal


confusion,asIhaveshowninpartalready,butonlyinpart.Moralsdealwiththe
actualinternalstateoftheindividual'smind,whatheactuallyintends.Fromthe
time of the Romans down to now, this mode of dealing has affected the
languageofthelawastocontract,andthelanguageusedhasreacteduponthe
thought.Wetalkaboutacontractasameetingofthemindsoftheparties,and
thence itisinferredinvariouscasesthatthere isnocontractbecause their
mindshave not met; thatis, because theyhave intended differentthingsor
becauseonepartyhasnotknownoftheassentoftheother.Yetnothingis
more certain than that parties may be bound by a contract to things which
neitherofthemintended,andwhenonedoesnotknowoftheother'sassent.
Supposeacontractisexecutedindueformandinwritingtodeliveralecture,
mentioningnotime.Oneofthepartiesthinksthatthepromisewillbeconstrued
tomean atonce,withina week.The otherthinksthatitmeanswhen he is
ready.Thecourtsaysthatitmeanswithinareasonabletime.Thepartiesare
boundbythecontractasitisinterpretedbythecourt,yetneitherofthemmeant
what the court declares that they have said. In my opinion no one will
understand the true theory of contract or be able even to discuss some
fundamentalquestionsintelligentlyuntilhehasunderstoodthatallcontractsare
formal, thatthe making ofa contract dependsnot on the agreement oftwo
mindsinoneintention,butontheagreementoftwosetsofexternalsignsnot
ontheparties'havingmeantthesamethingbutontheirhavingsaidthesame
thing.Furthermore,asthesignsmaybeaddressedtoonesenseoranother
tosightortohearingonthenatureofthesignwilldependthemomentwhen
thecontractismade.Ifthesignistangible,forinstance,aletter,thecontractis
made when the letter of acceptance is delivered. If it is necessary that the
mindsofthepartiesmeet,therewillbenocontractuntiltheacceptancecanbe
read;none,forexample,iftheacceptancebesnatchedfromthehandofthe
offererbyathirdperson.

Thisisnotthetimetoworkoutatheoryindetail,ortoanswermany
obviousdoubtsandquestionswhicharesuggestedbythesegeneralviews.I
knowofnonewhicharenoteasytoanswer,butwhatIamtryingtodonowis
onlybyaseriesofhintstothrowsomelightonthenarrowpathoflegaldoctrine,
andupontwopitfallswhich,asitseemstome,lieperilouslyneartoit.Ofthe
firstoftheseIhavesaidenough.Ihopethatmyillustrationshaveshownthe
danger,bothtospeculationandtopractice,ofconfoundingmoralitywithlaw,
andthetrapwhichlegallanguagelaysforusonthatsideofourway.Formy
ownpart,Ioftendoubtwhetheritwouldnotbeagainifeverywordofmoral
significance could be banished from the law altogether, and other words
adopted which should convey legal ideasuncolored byanything outside the
law.Weshouldlosethefossilrecordsofagooddealofhistoryandthemajesty
got from ethical associations, but by ridding ourselves of an unnecessary
confusionweshouldgainverymuchintheclearnessofourthought.

Somuchforthelimitsofthelaw.ThenextthingwhichIwishtoconsider
iswhatare the forceswhichdetermineitscontentanditsgrowth.Youmay
assume,withHobbesandBenthamandAustin,thatalllawemanatesfromthe
sovereign,evenwhenthefirsthumanbeingstoenunciateitarethejudges,or
youmaythinkthatlawisthevoiceoftheZeitgeist,orwhatyoulike.Itisallone
to my present purpose. Even if every decision required the sanction of an
emperor with despotic power and a whimsical turn of mind, we should be
interested none the less, still with a view to prediction, in discovering some
order, some rational explanation, and some principle of growth for the rules
whichhelaiddown.Ineverysystemtherearesuchexplanationsandprinciples
tobefound.Itiswithregardtothemthatasecondfallacycomesin,whichI
thinkitimportanttoexpose.

ThefallacytowhichIreferisthenotionthattheonlyforceatworkinthe
development of the law is logic. In the broadest sense, indeed, that notion
wouldbetrue.Thepostulateonwhichwethinkabouttheuniverseisthatthere
isafixedquantitativerelationbetweeneveryphenomenonanditsantecedents
andconsequents.Ifthereissuchathingasaphenomenonwithoutthesefixed
quantitativerelations,itisamiracle.Itisoutsidethelawofcauseandeffect,
andassuchtranscendsourpowerofthought,oratleastissomethingtoorfrom
whichwecannotreason.Theconditionofourthinkingabouttheuniverseisthat
itiscapableofbeingthoughtaboutrationally,or,inotherwords,thateverypart
ofitiseffectandcauseinthesamesenseinwhichthosepartsarewithwhich
wearemostfamiliar.Sointhebroadestsenseitistruethatthelawisalogical
development, like everything else. The danger of which I speak is not the
admissionthattheprinciplesgoverningotherphenomenaalsogovernthelaw,
butthenotionthatagivensystem,ours,forinstance,canbeworkedoutlike
mathematicsfromsomegeneralaxiomsofconduct.Thisisthenaturalerrorof
theschools,butitisnotconfinedtothem.Ionceheardaveryeminentjudge
saythatheneverletadecisiongountilhewasabsolutelysurethatitwasright.
Sojudicialdissentoftenisblamed,asifitmeantsimplythatonesideorthe
other were not doing their sums right, and if they would take more trouble,
agreementinevitablywouldcome.

This mode of thinking is entirely natural. The training of lawyers is a


traininginlogic.Theprocessesofanalogy,discrimination,anddeductionare
those in which they are most at home. The language of judicial decision is
mainly the language of logic. And the logical method and form flatter that
longingforcertaintyandforreposewhichisineveryhumanmind.Butcertainty
generallyisillusion,andreposeisnotthedestinyofman.Behindthelogical
form lies a judgment as to the relative worth and importance of competing
legislativegrounds,oftenaninarticulateandunconsciousjudgment,itistrue,
andyettheveryrootandnerveofthewholeproceeding.Youcangiveany
conclusionalogicalform.Youalwayscanimplyaconditioninacontract.But
why do you imply it? It is because of some belief as to the practice of the
communityorofaclass,orbecauseofsomeopinionastopolicy,or,inshort,
because of some attitude of yours upon a matter not capable of exact
quantitativemeasurement,andthereforenotcapableoffoundingexactlogical
conclusions.Suchmattersreallyarebattlegroundswherethemeansdonot
exist for the determinations that shall be good for all time, and where the
decisioncandonomorethanembodythepreferenceofagivenbodyinagiven
time and place. We do not realize how large a part of our law is open to
reconsideration upon a slight change in the habit of the public mind. No
concretepropositionisselfevident,nomatterhowreadywemaybetoaccept
it,notevenMr.HerbertSpencer's"Everymanhasarighttodowhathewills,
providedheinterferesnotwithalikerightonthepartofhisneighbors."

Whyisafalseandinjuriousstatementprivileged,ifitismadehonestlyin
giving information about a servant? It is because it has been thought more
importantthatinformationshouldbegivenfreely,thanthatamanshouldbe
protectedfromwhatunderothercircumstanceswouldbeanactionablewrong.
Why is a man at liberty to set up a business which he knows will ruin his
neighborhood?Itisbecausethepublicgoodissupposedtobebestsubserved
byfreecompetition.Obviouslysuchjudgmentsofrelativeimportancemayvary
indifferenttimesandplaces.Whydoesajudgeinstructajurythatanemployer
is not liable to an employee for an injury received in the course of his
employmentunlessheisnegligent,andwhydothejurygenerallyfindforthe
plaintiffifthecaseisallowedtogotothem?Itisbecausethetraditionalpolicy
of our law is to confine liability to cases where a prudent man might have
foreseentheinjury,oratleastthedanger,whiletheinclinationofaverylarge
partofthecommunityistomakecertainclassesofpersonsinsurethesafetyof
thosewithwhomtheydeal.Sincethelastwordswerewritten,Ihaveseenthe
requirementofsuchinsuranceputforthaspartoftheprogrammeofoneofthe
bestknownlabororganizations.Thereisaconcealed,halfconsciousbattleon
thequestionoflegislativepolicy,andifanyonethinksthatitcanbesettled
deductively,oronceforall,IonlycansaythatIthinkheistheoreticallywrong,
andthatIamcertainthathisconclusionwillnotbeacceptedinpracticesemper
ubiqueetabomnibus.

Indeed, I think that even now our theory upon this matter is open to
reconsideration,althoughIamnotpreparedtosayhowIshoulddecideifa
reconsiderationwereproposed.Ourlawoftortscomesfromtheolddaysof
isolated, ungeneralized wrongs, assaults, slanders, and the like, where the
damagesmightbetakentoliewheretheyfellbylegaljudgment.Butthetorts
withwhichourcourtsarekeptbusytodayaremainlytheincidentsofcertain
wellknownbusinesses.Theyareinjuriestopersonorpropertybyrailroads,
factories,andthelike.Theliabilityforthemisestimated,andsoonerorlater
goesintothepricepaidbythepublic.Thepublicreallypaysthedamages,and
thequestionofliability,ifpressedfarenough,isreallyaquestionhowfaritis
desirablethatthepublicshouldinsurethesafetyofonewhoseworkituses.It
mightbesaidthatinsuchcasesthechanceofajuryfindingforthedefendantis
merelyachance,onceinawhileratherarbitrarilyinterruptingtheregularcourse
ofrecovery,mostlikelyinthecaseofanunusuallyconscientiousplaintiff,and
thereforebetterdoneawaywith.Ontheotherhand,theeconomicvalueevenof
alifetothecommunitycanbeestimated,andnorecovery,itmaybesaid,ought
togobeyondthatamount.Itisconceivablethatsomedayincertaincaseswe
mayfindourselvesimitating,onahigherplane,thetariffforlifeandlimbwhich
weseeintheLegesBarbarorum.

Ithinkthatthejudgesthemselveshavefailedadequatelytorecognize
theirdutyofweighingconsiderationsofsocialadvantage.Thedutyisinevitable,
and the result of the often proclaimed judicial aversion to deal with such
considerationsissimplytoleavetheverygroundandfoundationofjudgments
inarticulate,andoftenunconscious,asIhavesaid.Whensocialismfirstbegan
tobetalkedabout,thecomfortableclassesofthecommunitywereagooddeal
frightened.Isuspectthatthisfearhasinfluencedjudicialactionbothhereandin
England,yetitiscertainthatitisnotaconsciousfactorinthedecisionsto
whichIrefer.Ithinkthatsomethingsimilarhasledpeoplewhonolongerhope
to control the legislatures to look to the courts as expounders of the
constitutions, and that in some courts new principles have been discovered
outside the bodies of those instruments, which may be generalized into
acceptanceoftheeconomicdoctrineswhichprevailedaboutfiftyyearsago,
andawholesaleprohibitionofwhatatribunaloflawyersdoesnotthinkabout
right.Icannotbutbelievethatifthetrainingoflawyersledthemhabituallyto
considermoredefinitelyandexplicitlythesocialadvantageonwhichtherule
theylaydownmustbejustified,theysometimeswouldhesitatewherenowthey
areconfident,andseethatreallytheyweretakingsidesupondebatableand
oftenburningquestions.

Somuchforthefallacyoflogicalform.Nowletusconsiderthepresent
conditionofthelawasasubjectforstudy,andtheidealtowardwhichittends.
WestillarefarfromthepointofviewwhichIdesiretoseereached.Noonehas
reacheditorcanreachitasyet.Weareonlyatthebeginningofaphilosophical
reaction,andofareconsiderationoftheworthofdoctrineswhichforthemost
partstillaretakenforgrantedwithoutanydeliberate,conscious,andsystematic
questioning of their grounds. The development of our law has gone on for
nearly a thousand years, like the development of a plant, each generation
taking the inevitable next step, mind, like matter, simply obeying a law of
spontaneousgrowth.Itisperfectlynaturalandrightthatitshouldhavebeenso.
Imitation is a necessity of human nature, as has been illustrated by a
remarkableFrenchwriter,M.Tard,inanadmirablebook,LesLoisdel'Imitation.
Mostofthethingswedo,wedofornobetterreasonthanthatourfathershave
donethemorthatourneighborsdothem,andthesameistrueofalargerpart
thanwesuspectofwhatwethink.Thereasonisagoodone,becauseourshort
life gives us no time for a better, but it is not the best. It does not follow,
becauseweallarecompelledtotakeonfaithatsecondhandmostoftherules
onwhichwebaseouractionandourthought,thateachofusmaynottrytoset
somecornerofhisworldintheorderofreason,orthatallofuscollectively
should not aspire to carry reason as far as it will go throughout the whole
domain.Inregardtothelaw,itistrue,nodoubt,thatanevolutionistwillhesitate
toaffirmuniversalvalidityforhissocialideals,orfortheprincipleswhichhe
thinksshouldbeembodiedinlegislation.Heiscontentifhecanprovethem
bestforhereandnow.Hemaybereadytoadmitthatheknowsnothingabout
anabsolutebestinthecosmos,andeventhatheknowsnexttonothingabouta
permanentbestformen.Stillitistruethatabodyoflawismorerationaland
morecivilizedwheneveryruleitcontainsisreferredarticulatelyanddefinitelyto
an end which it subserves,and when the groundsfor desiring that end are
statedorarereadytobestatedinwords.

Atpresent,inverymanycases,ifwewanttoknowwhyaruleoflawhas
takenitsparticularshape,andmoreorlessifwewanttoknowwhyitexistsat
all,wegototradition.WefollowitintotheYearBooks,andperhapsbeyond
themtothecustomsoftheSalianFranks,andsomewhereinthepast,inthe
German forests, in the needs of Norman kings, in the assumptions of a
dominantclass,intheabsenceofgeneralizedideas,wefindoutthepractical
motiveforwhatnowbestisjustifiedbythemerefactofitsacceptanceandthat
menareaccustomedtoit.Therationalstudyoflawisstilltoalargeextentthe
studyofhistory. Historymust be a part ofthe study, because without itwe
cannotknowtheprecisescopeofruleswhichitisourbusinesstoknow.Itisa
part of the rational study, because it is the first step toward an enlightened
scepticism,thatis,towardsadeliberatereconsiderationoftheworthofthose
rules. When you get the dragon out of his cave on to the plain and in the
daylight,youcancounthisteethandclaws,andseejustwhatishisstrength.
Buttogethimoutisonlythefirststep.Thenextiseithertokillhim,ortotame
him and make him a useful animal. For the rational study of the law the
blacklettermanmaybethemanofthepresent,butthemanofthefutureisthe
manofstatisticsandthemasterofeconomics.Itisrevoltingtohavenobetter
reasonforaruleoflawthanthatsoitwaslaiddowninthetimeofHenryIV.Itis
stillmorerevoltingifthegroundsuponwhichitwaslaiddownhavevanished
longsince,andtherulesimplypersistsfromblindimitationofthepast.Iam
thinking of the technical rule as to trespassab initio, as itis called, which I
attemptedtoexplaininarecentMassachusettscase.

Letmetakeanillustration,whichcanbestatedinafewwords,toshow
howthesocialendwhichisaimedatbyaruleoflawisobscuredandonly
partiallyattainedinconsequenceofthefactthattheruleowesitsformtoa
gradual historical development, instead of being reshaped as a whole, with
conscious articulate reference to the end in view. We think it desirable to
preventoneman'spropertybeingmisappropriatedbyanother,andsowemake
larcenyacrime.Theevilisthesamewhetherthemisappropriationismadebya
man into whose hands the owner has put the property, or by one who
wrongfullytakesitaway.Butprimitivelawinitsweaknessdidnotgetmuch
beyondanefforttopreventviolence,andverynaturallymadeawrongfultaking,
a trespass, part of its definition of the crime. In modem times the judges
enlargedthedefinitionalittlebyholdingthat,ifthewrongdoergetspossession
by a trick or device, the crime is committed. This really was giving up the
requirementoftrespass,anditwouldhavebeenmorelogical,aswellastruerto
the present object of the law, to abandon the requirement altogether. That,
however,wouldhaveseemedtoobold,andwaslefttostatute.Statuteswere
passedmakingembezzlementacrime.Buttheforceoftraditioncausedthe
crimeofembezzlementtoberegardedassofardistinctfromlarcenythattothis
day, in some jurisdictions at least, a slip corner is kept open for thieves to
contend, if indicted for larceny, that they should have been indicted for
embezzlement,andifindictedforembezzlement,thattheyshouldhavebeen
indictedforlarceny,andtoescapeonthatground.

Farmorefundamentalquestionsstillawaitabetteranswerthanthatwe
doasourfathershavedone.Whathavewebetterthanablindguesstoshow
thatthecriminallawinitspresentformdoesmoregoodthanharm?Idonot
stop to refer to the effect which it has had in degrading prisoners and in
plunging them further into crime, or to the question whether fine and
imprisonmentdonotfallmoreheavilyonacriminal'swifeandchildrenthanon
himself.Ihaveinmindmorefarreachingquestions.Doespunishmentdeter?
Dowedealwithcriminalsonproperprinciples?AmodernschoolofContinental
criminalistsplumesitselfontheformula,firstsuggested,itissaid,byGall,that
wemustconsiderthecriminalratherthanthecrime.Theformuladoesnotcarry
usveryfar,buttheinquirieswhichhavebeenstartedlooktowardananswerof
my questions based on science for the first time. If the typical criminal is a
degenerate, bound to swindle or to murder by as deep seated an organic
necessityasthatwhichmakestherattlesnakebite,itisidletotalkofdeterring
himbytheclassicalmethodofimprisonment.Hemustbegotridof;hecannot
beimproved,orfrightenedoutofhisstructuralreaction.If,ontheotherhand,
crime,likenormalhumanconduct,ismainlyamatterofimitation,punishment
fairlymaybeexpectedtohelptokeepitoutoffashion.Thestudyofcriminals
hasbeenthoughtbysomewellknownmenofsciencetosustaintheformer
hypothesis.Thestatisticsoftherelativeincreaseofcrimeincrowdedplaceslike
large cities, where example has the greatest chance to work, and in less
populatedparts,wherethecontagionspreadsmoreslowly,havebeenused
withgreatforceinfavorofthelatterview.Butthereisweightyauthorityforthe
belief that, however this may be, "not the nature of the crime, but the
dangerousnessofthecriminal,constitutestheonlyreasonablelegalcriterionto
guidetheinevitablesocialreactionagainstthecriminal."
Theimpedimentstorationalgeneralization,whichIillustratedfromthe
lawoflarceny,areshownintheotherbranchesofthelaw,aswellasinthatof
crime.Takethelawoftortorcivilliabilityfordamagesapartfromcontractand
thelike.Isthereanygeneraltheoryofsuchliability,orarethecasesinwhichit
existssimplytobeenumerated,andtobeexplainedeachonitsspecialground,
asiseasytobelievefromthefactthattherightofactionforcertainwellknown
classesofwrongsliketrespassorslanderhasitsspecialhistoryforeachclass?
Ithinkthatthelawregardstheinflictionoftemporaldamagebyaresponsible
personasactionable,ifunderthecircumstancesknowntohimthedangerofhis
act is manifest according to common experience, or according to his own
experience if it is more than common, except in cases where upon special
groundsofpolicythelawrefusestoprotecttheplaintifforgrantsaprivilegeto
thedefendant.Ithinkthatcommonlymalice,intent,andnegligencemeanonly
that the danger was manifest to a greater or less degree, under the
circumstancesknowntotheactor,althoughinsomecasesofprivilegemalice
maymeananactualmalevolentmotive,andsuchamotivemaytakeawaya
permissionknowinglytoinflictharm,whichotherwisewouldbegrantedonthis
orthatgroundofdominantpublicgood.ButwhenIstatedmyviewtoavery
eminentEnglishjudgetheotherday,hesaid,"Youarediscussingwhatthelaw
ought to be; as the law is, you must show a right. A man is not liable for
negligenceunlessheissubjecttoaduty."Ifourdifferencewasmorethana
differenceinwords,orwithregardtotheproportionbetweentheexceptionsand
the rule, then, in his opinion, liability for an act cannot be referred to the
manifest tendency of the act to cause temporal damage in general as a
sufficientexplanation,butmustbereferredtothespecialnatureofthedamage,
ormustbederivedfromsomespecialcircumstancesoutsideofthetendencyof
theact,forwhichnogeneralizedexplanationexists.Ithinkthatsuchaviewis
wrong,butitisfamiliar,andIdaresaygenerallyisacceptedinEngland.

Everywherethebasisofprincipleistradition,tosuchanextentthatwe
evenareindangerofmakingtheroleofhistorymoreimportantthanitis.The
otherdayProfessorAmeswrotealearnedarticletoshow,amongotherthings,
thatthecommonlawdidnotrecognizethedefenceoffraudinactionsupon
specialties,andthemoralmightseemtobethatthepersonalcharacterofthat
defenceisduetoitsequitableorigin.Butif,asIsaid,allcontractsareformal,
thedifferenceisnotmerelyhistorical,buttheoretic,betweendefectsofform
which prevent a contract from being made, and mistaken motives which
manifestlycouldnotbeconsideredinanysystemthatweshouldcallrational
except against one who was privy to those motives. It is not confined to
specialties,butisofuniversalapplication.IoughttoaddthatIdonotsuppose
thatMr.AmeswoulddisagreewithwhatIsuggest.

However,ifweconsiderthelawofcontract,wefinditfullofhistory.The
distinctionsbetweendebt,covenant,andassumpsitaremerelyhistorical.The
classification of certain obligations to pay money, imposed by the law
irrespectiveofanybargainasquasicontracts,ismerelyhistorical.Thedoctrine
ofconsiderationismerelyhistorical.Theeffectgiventoasealistobeexplained
byhistoryalone.Considerationisamereform.Isitausefulform?Ifso,why
shoulditnotberequiredinallcontracts?Asealisamereform,andisvanishing
inthescrollandinenactmentsthataconsiderationmustbegiven,sealorno
seal.Whyshouldanymerelyhistoricaldistinctionbeallowedtoaffecttherights
andobligationsofbusinessmen?

SinceIwrotethisdiscourseIhavecomeonaverygoodexampleofthe
wayinwhichtraditionnotonlyoverridesrationalpolicy,butoverridesitafterfirst
havingbeenmisunderstoodandhavingbeengivenanewandbroaderscope
than it had when it had a meaning. It is the settled law of England that a
materialalterationofawrittencontractbyapartyavoidsitasagainsthim.The
doctrineiscontrarytothegeneraltendencyofthelaw.Wedonottellajurythat
ifamaneverhasliedinoneparticularheistobepresumedtolieinall.Evenif
amanhastriedtodefraud,itseemsnosufficientreasonforpreventinghim
fromprovingthetruth.Objectionsoflikenatureingeneralgototheweight,not
totheadmissibility,ofevidence.Moreover,thisruleisirrespectiveoffraud,and
isnotconfinedtoevidence.Itisnotmerelythatyoucannotusethewriting,but
thatthecontractisatanend.Whatdoesthismean?Theexistenceofawritten
contract dependson the factthatthe offerer and offeree have interchanged
theirwrittenexpressions,notonthecontinuedexistenceofthoseexpressions.
Butinthecaseofabond,theprimitivenotionwasdifferent.Thecontractwas
inseparablefromtheparchment.Ifastrangerdestroyedit,ortoreofftheseal,
oralteredit,theobligeecouldnotrecover,howeverfreefromfault,becausethe
defendant's contract, that is, the actual tangible bond which he had sealed,
couldnotbeproducedintheforminwhichitboundhim.Aboutahundredyears
agoLordKenyonundertooktousehisreasononthetradition,ashesometimes
didtothedetrimentofthelaw,and,notunderstandingit,saidhecouldseeno
reasonwhywhatwastrueofabondshouldnotbetrueofothercontracts.His
decisionhappenedtoberight,asitconcernedapromissorynote,whereagain
thecommonlawregardedthecontractasinseparablefromthepaperonwhich
itwaswritten,butthereasoningwasgeneral,andsoonwasextendedtoother
written contracts, and various absurd and unreal grounds of policy were
inventedtoaccountfortheenlargedrule.

Itrustthatnoonewillunderstandmetobespeakingwithdisrespectof
thelaw,becauseIcriticiseitsofreely.Iveneratethelaw,andespeciallyour
systemoflaw,asoneofthevastestproductsofthehumanmind.Nooneknows
better than I do the countless number of great intellects that have spent
themselvesinmakingsomeadditionorimprovement,thegreatestofwhichis
triflingwhencomparedwiththemightywhole.Ithasthefinaltitletorespectthat
itexists,thatitisnotaHegeliandream,butapartofthelivesofmen.Butone
maycriticiseevenwhatonereveres.Lawisthebusinesstowhichmylifeis
devoted,andIshouldshowlessthandevotionifIdidnotdowhatinmeliesto
improveit,and,whenIperceivewhatseemstometheidealofitsfuture,ifI
hesitatedtopointitoutandtopresstowarditwithallmyheart.
PerhapsIhavesaidenoughtoshowthepartwhichthestudyofhistory
necessarilyplaysintheintelligentstudyofthelawasitistoday.Intheteaching
ofthisschoolandatCambridgeitisinnodangerofbeingundervalued.Mr.
Bigelow here and Mr. Ames and Mr. Thayer there have made important
contributionswhichwillnotbeforgotten,andinEnglandtherecenthistoryof
earlyEnglishlawbySirFrederickPollockandMr.Maitlandhaslentthesubject
analmostdeceptivecharm.Wemustbewareofthepitfallofantiquarianism,
andmustrememberthatforourpurposesouronlyinterestinthepastisforthe
lightitthrowsuponthepresent.Ilookforwardtoatimewhenthepartplayedby
historyintheexplanationofdogmashallbeverysmall,andinsteadofingenious
research we shall spend our energy on a study of the ends sought to be
attainedandthereasonsfordesiringthem.Asasteptowardthatidealitseems
to me thatevery lawyeroughtto seek an understanding of economics.The
presentdivorcebetweentheschoolsofpoliticaleconomyandlawseemstome
anevidenceofhowmuchprogressinphilosophicalstudystillremainstobe
made.Inthepresentstateofpoliticaleconomy,indeed,wecomeagainupon
historyonalargerscale,buttherewearecalledontoconsiderandweighthe
endsoflegislation,themeansofattainingthem,andthecost.Welearnthatfor
everythingwehavewegiveupsomethingelse,andwearetaughttosetthe
advantagewegainagainsttheotheradvantagewelose,andtoknowwhatwe
aredoingwhenweelect.

Thereisanotherstudywhichsometimesisundervaluedbythepractical
minded,forwhichIwishtosayagoodword,althoughIthinkagooddealof
pretty poor stuff goes under that name. I mean the study of what is called
jurisprudence.Jurisprudence,asIlookatit,issimplylawinitsmostgeneralized
part. Every effort to reduce a case to a rule is an effort of jurisprudence,
althoughthenameasusedinEnglishisconfinedtothebroadestrulesand
mostfundamentalconceptions.Onemarkofagreatlawyeristhatheseesthe
applicationofthebroadestrules.ThereisastoryofaVermontjusticeofthe
peace before whom a suit was brought by one farmer against another for
breakingachurn.Thejusticetooktimetoconsider,andthensaidthathehas
looked through the statutes and could find nothing about churns, and gave
judgmentforthedefendant.Thesamestateofmindisshowninallourcommon
digestsandtextbooks.Applicationsofrudimentaryrulesofcontractortortare
tuckedawayundertheheadofRailroadsorTelegraphsorgotoswelltreatises
onhistoricalsubdivisions,suchasShippingorEquity,oraregatheredunderan
arbitrarytitlewhichisthoughtlikelytoappealtothepracticalmind,suchas
MercantileLaw.Ifamangoesintolawitpaystobeamasterofit,andtobea
masterofitmeanstolookstraightthroughallthedramaticincidentsandto
discernthetruebasisforprophecy.Therefore,itiswelltohaveanaccurate
notionofwhatyoumeanbylaw,byaright,byaduty,bymalice,intent,and
negligence,byownership,bypossession,andsoforth.Ihaveinmymindcases
inwhichthehighestcourtsseemtometohaveflounderedbecausetheyhadno
clear ideas on some of these themes. I have illustrated their importance
already. If a further illustration is wished, it may be found by reading the
AppendixtoSirJamesStephen'sCriminalLawonthesubjectofpossession,
andthenturningtoPollockandWright'senlightenedbook.SirJamesStephen
isnottheonlywriterwhoseattemptstoanalyzelegalideashavebeenconfused
bystrivingforauselessquintessenceofallsystems,insteadofanaccurate
anatomy of one. The trouble with Austin was that he did not know enough
English law. But still it is a practical advantage to master Austin, and his
predecessors,HobbesandBentham,andhisworthysuccessors,Hollandand
Pollock. Sir Frederick Pollock's recent little book is touched with the felicity
whichmarksallhisworks,andiswhollyfreefromthepervertinginfluenceof
Romanmodels.

Theadviceoftheelderstoyoungmenisveryapttobeasunrealasalist
ofthehundredbestbooks.AtleastinmydayIhadmyshareofsuchcounsels,
andhighamongtheunrealitiesIplacetherecommendationtostudytheRoman
law.IassumethatsuchadvicemeansmorethancollectingafewLatinmaxims
with which to ornament the discourse the purpose for which Lord Coke
recommendedBracton.Ifthatisallthatiswanted,thetitleDeRegulisJuris
Antiquicanbereadinanhour.Iassumethat,ifitiswelltostudytheRoman
Law,itiswelltostudyitasaworkingsystem.Thatmeansmasteringasetof
technicalities more difficult and less understood than our own, and studying
anothercourseofhistorybywhichevenmorethanourowntheRomanlaw
mustexplained.Ifanyonedoubtsme,lethimreadKeller'sDerRomischeCivil
ProcessunddieActionen,atreatiseonthepraetor'sedict,Muirhead'smost
interestingHistoricalIntroductiontothePrivateLawofRome,and,togivehim
thebestchance,Sohn'sadmirableInstitutes.No.Thewaytogainaliberalview
ofyoursubjectisnottoreadsomethingelse,buttogettothebottomofthe
subject itself. The means of doing that are, in the first place, to follow the
existing body of dogma into its highest generalizations by the help of
jurisprudence;next,todiscoverfromhistoryhowithascometobewhatitis;
andfinally,sofarasyoucan,toconsidertheendswhichtheseveralrulesseek
toaccomplish,thereasonswhythoseendsaredesired,whatisgivenuptogain
them,andwhethertheyareworththeprice.

Wehavetoolittletheoryinthelawratherthantoomuch,especiallyon
thisfinalbranchofstudy.WhenIwasspeakingofhistory,Imentionedlarceny
asanexampletoshowhowthelawsufferedfromnothavingembodiedina
clearformarulewhichwillaccomplishitsmanifestpurpose.Inthatcasethe
troublewasduetothesurvivalofformscomingfromatimewhenamorelimited
purposewasentertained.Letmenowgiveanexampletoshowthepractical
importance,forthedecisionofactualcases,ofunderstandingthereasonsof
thelaw,bytakinganexamplefromruleswhich,sofarasIknow,neverhave
beenexplainedortheorizedaboutinanyadequateway.Irefertostatutesof
limitationandthelawofprescription.Theendofsuchrulesisobvious,butwhat
isthejustificationfordeprivingamanofhisrights,apureevilasfarasitgoes,
in consequence of the lapse of time? Sometimes the loss of evidence is
referredto,butthatisasecondarymatter.Sometimesthedesirabilityofpeace,
but why is peace more desirable after twenty years than before? It is
increasinglylikelytocomewithouttheaidoflegislation.Sometimesitissaid
that,ifamanneglectstoenforcehisrights,hecannotcomplainif,afterawhile,
thelawfollowshisexample.Nowifthisisallthatcanbesaidaboutit,you
probablywilldecideacaseIamgoingtoput,fortheplaintiff;ifyoutakethe
viewwhichIshallsuggest,youpossiblywilldecideitforthedefendant.Aman
issuedfortrespassuponland,andjustifiesunderarightofway.Heprovesthat
hehasusedthewayopenlyandadverselyfortwentyyears,butitturnsoutthat
theplaintiffhadgrantedalicensetoapersonwhomhereasonablysupposedto
bethedefendant'sagent,althoughnotsoinfact,andthereforehadassumed
thattheuseofthewaywaspermissive,inwhichcasenorightwouldbegained.
Hasthedefendantgainedarightornot?Ifhisgainingitstandsonthefaultand
neglect of the landowner in the ordinary sense, as seems commonly to be
supposed,therehasbeennosuchneglect,andtherightofwayhasnotbeen
acquired. But if I were the defendant's counsel, I should suggest that the
foundationoftheacquisitionofrightsbylapseoftimeistobelookedforinthe
positionofthepersonwhogainsthem,notinthatoftheloser.SirHenryMaine
has made it fashionable to connect the archaic notion of property with
prescription.Buttheconnectionisfurtherbackthanthefirstrecordedhistory.It
isinthenatureofman'smind.Athingwhichyouhaveenjoyedandusedas
yourownforalongtime,whetherpropertyoranopinion,takesrootinyour
being and cannot be torn away without yourresenting the act and trying to
defendyourself,howeveryoucamebyit.Thelawcanasknobetterjustification
thanthedeepestinstinctsofman.Itisonlybywayofreplytothesuggestion
thatyouaredisappointingtheformerowner,thatyourefertohisneglecthaving
allowedthegradualdissociationbetweenhimselfandwhatheclaims,andthe
gradualassociationofitwithanother.Ifheknowsthatanotherisdoingacts
whichontheirfaceshowthatheisonthewaytowardestablishingsuchan
association,Ishouldarguethatinjusticetothatotherhewasboundathisperil
tofindoutwhethertheotherwasactingunderhispermission,toseethathe
waswarned,and,ifnecessary,stopped.
Ihavebeenspeakingaboutthestudyofthelaw,andIhavesaidnextto
nothingaboutwhatcommonlyistalkedaboutinthatconnectiontextbooks
andthecasesystem,andallthemachinerywithwhichastudentcomesmost
immediately in contact. Nor shall I say anything about them. Theory is my
subject,notpracticaldetails.Themodesofteachinghavebeenimprovedsince
mytime,nodoubt,butabilityandindustrywillmastertherawmaterialwithany
mode. Theory is the most important part of the dogma of the law, as the
architectisthemostimportantmanwhotakespartinthebuildingofahouse.
The most important improvements of the last twentyfive years are
improvements in theory. It is not to be feared as unpractical, for, to the
competent, it simply means going to the bottom of the subject. For the
incompetent,itsometimesistrue,ashasbeensaid,thataninterestingeneral
ideasmeansan absence ofparticularknowledge.Irememberinarmydays
readingofayouthwho,beingexaminedforthelowestgradeandbeingaskeda
question about squadron drill, answered that he never had considered the
evolutionsoflessthantenthousandmen.Buttheweakandfoolishmustbeleft
totheirfolly.Thedangeristhattheableandpracticalmindedshouldlookwith
indifferenceordistrustuponideastheconnectionofwhichwiththeirbusinessis
remote.Iheardastory,theotherday,ofamanwhohadavalettowhomhe
paidhighwages,subjecttodeductionforfaults.Oneofhisdeductionswas,
"Forlackofimagination,fivedollars."Thelackisnotconfinedtovalets.The
object of ambition, power, generally presents itself nowadays in the form of
moneyalone. Money isthe mostimmediate form, and isa proper object of
desire."Thefortune,"saidRachel,"isthemeasureofintelligence."Thatisa
goodtexttowakenpeopleoutofafool'sparadise.But,asHegelsays,"Itisin
the end not the appetite, but the opinion, which has to be satisfied." To an
imaginationofanyscopethemostfarreachingformofpowerisnotmoney,itis
the command of ideas. If you want great examples, read Mr. Leslie
Stephen'sHistoryofEnglishThoughtintheEighteenthCentury,andseehowa
hundred years after his death the abstract speculations of Descartes had
becomeapracticalforcecontrollingtheconductofmen.Readtheworksofthe
greatGermanjurists,andseehowmuchmoretheworldisgovernedtodayby
KantthanbyBonaparte.WecannotallbeDescartesorKant,butweallwant
happiness.Andhappiness,Iamsurefromhavingknownmanysuccessfulmen,
cannotbewonsimplybybeingcounselforgreatcorporationsandhavingan
incomeoffiftythousanddollars.Anintellectgreatenoughtowintheprizeneeds
otherfoodbesidessuccess.Theremoterandmoregeneralaspectsofthelaw
arethosewhichgiveituniversalinterest.Itisthroughthemthatyounotonly
become a great master in your calling, but connect your subject with the
universe and catch an echo of the infinite, a glimpse of its unfathomable
process,ahintoftheuniversallaw.