Law, College of


Date of this Version

August 1921


Delivered as the Dartmouth Alumni Lectures, summer 1921, and revised for publication that year. Published by Marshall Jones Company, Francestown, New Hampshire.


These lectures speak in large part from the second decade of the present [20th] century; and they show the faith in the efficacy of effort and belief that the administration of justice may be improved by conscious intelligent action which characterized that time. The recrudescence of juristic pessimism in the past three years has not led me to abandon that point of view. At the end of the nineteenth century lawyers thought attempt at conscious improvement was futile. Now many of them think it is dangerous. In the same way the complacent nothing-needs-to-be-done attitude of Blackstone, who in the spirit of the end of a period of growth thought the law little short of a state of perfection, was followed by the timorous juristic pessimism of Lord Eldon who feared that law reform would subvert the constitution. Not a little in the legislative reform movement which followed might have proceeded on more conservative lines if he had been willing to further needed changes instead of obstructing all change. The real danger to administration of justice according to law is in timid resistance to rational improvement and obstinate persistence in legal paths which have become impossible in the heterogeneous, urban, industrial America of today. Such things have been driving us fast to an administrative justice through boards and commissions, with loosely defined powers, unlimited discretion and inadequate judicial restraints, which is at variance with the genius of our legal and political institutions.

When the lawyer refuses to act intelligently, unintelligent application of the legislative steam-roller by the layman is the alternative.

I. The Feudal Element
II. Puritanism and the Law
III. The Courts and the Crown
IV. The Rights of Englishmen and the Rights of Man
V. The Pioneers and the Law
VI. The Philosophy of Law in the Nineteenth Century
VII. Judicial Empiricism
VIII. Legal Reason

Contains the complete work (xviii + 224 pages), with index.

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