A lawyer without history and
literature is a mechanic, a mere working mason; if he possess some
knowledge of these, he may venture to call himself an architect.
-- Sir Walter
Scott, Guy Mannering (1815; New York: E. P. Dutton & Co.,
The Laws of a country are
necessarily connected with every thing belonging to the people of it;
so that a thorough knowledge of them, and of their progress,
would inform us of every thing that was most useful to be known about
them; and one of the greatest imperfections of historians in general,
is owing to their ignorance of law.
Priestley, Lectures on History (Birmingham: Pearson and
Rollason, 1788), 149.
The life of the law has not been logic:
it has been experience. The seed of every new growth within its sphere
has been a felt necessity. The form of continuity has been kept up by
reasonings purporting to reduce everything to a logical sequence; but
that form is nothing but the evening dress which the new-comer puts on
to make itself presentable according to conventional requirements. The
important phenomenon is the man underneath it, not the coat; the
justice and reasonableness of a decision, not its consistency with
previously held views. No one will every have a truly philosophic
mastery over the law who does not habitually consider the forces
outside of it which have made it what it is....
Wendell Holmes, Jr., review of A Selection of Cases on the Law of
Contracts. . ., 2d ed.,
by Christoper C. Langdell, American Law
Review 14 (1880): 233.