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But other influences in turn were rising, — the contrasted but complementary influences of Natural Law and of Nationalism; and in the 1600's and the 1700's they became dominant. Broader and at the same time more practical features of law were now conceived as composing legal science in general. New methods were needed.

In 1667, LEIBNITZ published his essay, "Nova Methodus discendae docendaeque Jurisprudentiae.”3 He was but twenty-one years old; the vast science of law was thus (in Hallam's phrase) "invaded by a boy.” 4 He divided it into four parts or modes, didactic, historic, exegetic, and polemic; and for each part he described the kinds of materials that should be used for study and the way of using them. Though his influence on educational method apparently did not extend beyond Germany, nevertheless he anticipated the great movements of the next two centuries, — national codification, for example, in the 1700's, and the historical school in the 1800's. His proposed “Novum Corpus Juris,” or Justinian Rearranged, was first realized a century later in France, by Pothier. The polemic moots which he recommended are perhaps the precursors of von Ihering's practical exercises, introduced only in the last generation. His projected “Theatrum Legale” was an anticipation of the processes of Comparative Law which have come to pass only in the days of Maine, Kohler, and Dareste; 5 and, curiously enough, the Socratic method, as applied in the Harvard Law School under Ames and Keener, is foreshadowed in his preface.




In philosophic stimulus Leibnitz owed much to Bacon's “Novum Organum.” Insular England had meanwhile been developing its own system of legal education, - the Inns of Court, with their

4 OPERA OMNIA, ed. Dutens (Geneva, 1768), 159. I desire to acknowledge the courtesy of the Librarian of Harvard University in lending me this volume.

4 Moreover, the added marvel is (as Wolf tells us) that he composed it "in itinere omni librorum apparatu destitutus."

5 "Ex his aliisque omnibus (gentium moribus) undecunque collectis, Deo dante, conficiemus aliquando theatrum legale, et in omnibus materiis omnium gentium, locorum, temporum placita rapallýdws disponemus ” ($ 29).

6 “Judicium enim, etsi ante annos non veniat, potest tamen et in pueritia interrogando excitari; hoc enim voluit Platonis reminiscentia, exhibitumque specimen in


Moots. Here, as in everything, the British change was slower, and less radical when it came.

At a very early period the Inns of Court were, in effect, organizations clustering around the professors of the common law at London, maintaining its teaching and practice. But, by the end of the 1500's they had lost this character, and up to the first half of the 1800's systematic legal education in England was stagnant. What was given at the universities does not seem to have had any value placed upon it. Lord Brougham once said, “I won't say it's a humbug; but it's something very like it. When I was attending lectures on the civil law in Edinburgh, they were all in Latin. A set of Latin questions were proposed after the lecture to the students.. Very difficult, indeed, some of them might be to answer, if a proper answer were required; but all we had to do was, if the question commenced with ‘Nonne,' we said 'Etiam'; and if with 'An,' we replied, “Non.'” The office of a practising lawyer was the only place in which the law could be learned, if at all. The eminent authority just mentioned thus sketched the process of legal apprenticeship in his day: “It is a most melancholy state of things. There is nothing like education for law students now. When I was in the chambers of Mr. (afterwards Chief-Justice) Tindal, we seldom or never saw our master; we were told, 'Copy whatever you can lay hold of,' and with that injunction we were left to ourselves." 9 Professor Dicey added his testimony concerning the state of affairs even in the '70's: “He is put to make bricks without straw, or rather without having even been taught how bricks are to be made. The oddity of the thing is that he, after all, gets in due time, mainly by the process of imitation, to make pretty tolerable bricks.” 10

Towards the middle of the 1800's an effort began to devise some

Menone, ubi puerum Socrates a primis sensuque manifestis, nihil docens, interrogando tantum ad ea deducit quae vel subtilissimo cuique negotium facessant: incommensurabilitatem scilicet diagonii et lateris in quadrato.”


8 12 Law REVIEW, 114.

9 “I myself read no treatises. I learned law by reading the reports and attending the courts,” said Chief Baron Pollock to his grandson, now Sir Frederick Pollock, Bart. (First BOOK OF JURISPRUDENCE, 3 ed., 313.)

25 MACMILLAN'S MAG., 127, 209.


thing more helpful and better suited to the professional dignity of law. The matter was taken up by the Society for the Amendment of the Law and was vigorously discussed. A committee of inquiry of the House of Commons was appointed in 1846 to report on the state of legal education; and a commission, including ViceChancellor Wood and Sir John Coleridge, was appointed in 1855 to report on the Inns of Court. Both these bodies recommended the establishment of a University of Law, under the control of the Inns. But the outcome seems to have been not much more than a zealous increase of the number of lectures by the Readers of the Inns. The old system was revivified, not materially altered. Apparently it was a case of “muddling through.”

In 1871 (when Mr. Langdell's incumbency in the Harvard Law School had but just begun) Mr. Bryce and Mr. Dicey came to the United States and visited several law schools. The Columbia Law School received from them the most favorable comment; 11 at the head of it was then Theodore Dwight, a man of great personal magnetism and didactic skill. The idea of a University of Law was now again mooted by the Society for Legal Education, having at its head Lord Selborne, who carried through in 1873 the measure reforming the judiciary system. The principal material result seems to have been that the Readers of the Inns were replaced by Professors and Tutors, the number being increased. Among these were included, in 1873, such scholars as Amos, Broom, and Hunter, and, in 1886, Pollock, Bryce, and Harrison. But within the next fifteen or twenty years an extension of the number and scope of the subjects required for the law degree at the larger universities showed the wide workings of this spirit of improvement; and in 1883 appeared Mr. Dicey's plea for the teaching of English law at the universities.

Early in 1885 Mr. Finch visited the Harvard Law School; I remember that we students felt proud of the reason for his presence. On his return to Cambridge, England, his lectures then introduced what the Law Quarterly Review was willing to term the method of Professor Langdell.” In the fall of 1885 came Sir Frederick Pollock, and visited the Harvard Law School; and the impression produced on his mind by its method of instruction was an important influence (as he tells us in the preface to his "Treatise

11 See 25 MACMILLAN'S MAG., 127, 209.


on Torts,”) not only in his teaching but in his writing also. Mr. Finch later published a "Selection of Cases on the English Law of Contract, Part I,” and an inaugural address on “Legal Education, its Aim and Method.”

The important features of this fourth stage of legal education in England were: (a) the radical change in the source of instruction, - for it now began to be given at universities by scholars holding university professorships, instead of in London by barristers under the auspices of the Inns of Court; (b) the adoption of the Langdell method by Mr. Finch.12


IN AMERICA Meantime, a century before, America had already made its first contribution to Anglo-American method, - the law school. At Litchfield in 1782 (the old schoolhouse is still standing; you can buy a picture-card of its dilapidated modesty) the example was set by REEVE, and then by GOULD. Harvard University now celebrates the hundredth anniversary of its own school, the oldest surviving one. There were other schools, which passed away, though notable in their day and region, — for example, those of NICHOLAS, PIRTLE, and ROBERTSON at Lexington, Kentucky (afterwards Transylvania University). But the didactic type was the same set lecture and memorized treatise, or both, - though Smith's "Leading Cases” had long hinted at other possibilities.

Then came Christopher Columbus LANGDELL, with the insight of genius into the spirit and needs of Anglo-American legal sources.


THE LANGDELL METHOD AS A WORLD METHOD It has always seemed to me that Langdell's method was an unconscious product of the scientific spirit of realism - that realism which was then just beginning to obtain the dominance now universal, – the scientific realism of Darwin, Comte, and Spencer, which has gradually spread into Art, Religion, and Industry. Of this aspect of his method, he himself may or may not have been

12 The foregoing page or so has been lifted without quotation marks (but with slight revision) from an editorial note in the first volume (1887) of this REVIEW, 297. But to deflect the sleuth of plagiarists, let me confess that the anonymous author was myself. At the time I felt rather pleased with this editorial début.

conscious; but it was conceived in the spirit of looking at the ultimate facts as they are and of treating them inductively.

But I think that he must indeed have been conscious of the relation of his ideas to the modern movement of Science; for his formal exposition of principles, delivered at the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration, in 1886, begins with the mighty sentence: “LAW IS A SCIENCE!”

I was present, as a student, on that occasion; and often, in the ten years thereafter, when arrayed in the ranks of militant disciples of his method, I recalled that deliverance. To me it has the sonorous ring of a new gospel, the utterance of a prophet and a seer. In its rhetoric, as in its philosophic significance, it is, for us lawyers, what John's utterance (“not to speak it profanely”) was to the theologians: “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

And it was a daring thing to say, in those days. His hearers believed in him; but I doubt if many of them believed in his utterance, or even grasped its full truth. The profession (let us acknowledge it) does not yet believe. For some years past, I have ventured to try the phrase “legal science” in this or that professional connection; and ever I find but a philistine reception for it. Outside of our profession, there is even less readiness to concede such a status to Law. Recently, before a Science Club, composed chiefly of professors in the natural sciences, I delivered, by request, an address on the topic, “Law as a Science, and its Methods Compared with those of Other Sciences." It was evident (at the outset, certainly) that any exponent of such a theme must yet expect to be on the defensive in claiming a genuine place for Law as a science.

Langdell's great truth, so boldly affirmed now thirty years ago, has another generation to run before it becomes a truism in AngloAmerica. His method, however, — the method founded on that truth, --

, has already been accorded universal acceptance. And if, beyond its native soil of America, it has received as yet only theoretical approval, in England and other countries of Anglo-American law, that is only because of temperamental obstacles to the free Socratic style of discussion which incidentally has gone with it,13 and be

13 Mr. Dicey pointed this out thirty years ago (2 L. QUART. REV. 88); and contemporary witnesses report little change today.

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