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considerations be sound, on the historical conditions of legal systems and institutions. But there is no reason why in England, Germany, or America, we should make ourselves the slaves of such conditions, or why one method should be cultivated to the exclusion of the others. The false pride and exclusiveness of a favourite method will always bring their own punishment. A merely practical attention to law brings us into the danger of degrading our science to what Plato calls inartistic routine. Historical interest unchecked by analysis may in another way overwhelm us with particulars, and leave us where we cannot see the wood for the trees : again, the historical scholar is apt to fall into unreflecting optimism, thinking everything must be for the best which is explained as the natural result of historical conditions. Unguarded analytical speculation tends to make jurisprudence a thing of abstract formulasas it were a sham exact science-instead of a study of human life and action. Excess of zeal for that which ought to be, whether in the shape familiar to us here of agitation for reforms, or in its Continental guise of devotion to the law of nature, tends no less strongly to beget contempt and ignorance of that which is, and expose the would-be philosopher to the derision of the first attorney's clerk. Every method is in its place legitimate and necessary, but is bound to secure itself against mistakes by taking due account of its fellows. Practically we shall guide our course by looking for what seems most to want doing among the things that come in our way to do. Here in England we have an immense wealth of particular doctrines and principles, which, however, for want of being brought into the light of general ideas, remains uninstructive to the student until he has made a pretty full acquaintance with it in miscellaneous reading and practice. We have likewise a scheme of general jurisprudence due to Bentham's ideas in the first instance, and of which the importance as a part of legal knowledge and education was explicitly laid down from this chair by Austin. Not having been developed from within our particular and historical jurisprudence, but set beside it by criticism from without, and having indeed arisen from a movement of repulsion, this is at present, I think, something too much in the air. English learners run an appreciable risk—which for the moment our attempts at improvement have perhaps rather increased than diminishedof regarding legal science as a thing apart from legal practice. Jurisprudence and Roman law may seem to them nothing but additional subjects of examination imposed by the perversity of fate. Little has yet been done to make it clear that the object of these studies is not to enable English lawyers to talk with an air of knowledge of foreign systems or abstract speculations, but to make them better English lawyers by the exercise of comparison and criticism. There is a want of effectual contact and influence between the general and the particular branches of Jurisprudence, which nevertheless are both needful if either is to do its best. Our most useful ambition at present, I think, will be to supply this want; and
it will be my endeavour, so far as my means avail, to work in this direction. I propose to illustrate from English institutions and doctrines the general form and constituents of Positive Law, and a certain number of its leading ideas. We shall have opportunities both of correcting and enlarging our general ideas by reference to practice, and of criticising particular solutions and consequences from a comparative and general point of view. We shall try to go like wary travellers, neither slavishly following every winding of a beaten road, nor rashly making short cuts over unknown ground to find ourselves confronted by impassable floods or precipices.
ENGLISH OPPORTUNITIES IN HISTORICAL AND
envy is ever allowable between colleagues, I think I might have been excused two or three months ago for regarding my friend the Vinerian Professor with some measure of that feeling. In the first place, Professor Dicey had delivered his inaugural lecture while I still had to provide for mine, and therefore he had outstripped me in the beatitude of accomplished possession. Another advantage I was more gravely disposed to envy him was that of entering on his new labours in a scene known to him of old, and among familiar friends; an advantage which perhaps is not a matter of mere sentiment. For, as our two ancient Universities, taken together, have a generic character which makes them unique in Europe and broadly marks them off from all other seats of learning, so each of them is marked off from the other by subtle but real differences of individual spirit and traditions. In such a case resemblance and analogy will carry one a long way; but there comes a pointas in the learning of a language closely akin to another already known—where the warrant of analogy fails, and even where the unbiassed curiosity of a perfect stranger may be less liable to error.
1 An Inaugural Lecture delivered at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, October 20, 1883.
The privileges of starting from impartial ignorance, be they more or less, are too manifestly denied to me. Therefore I must seek to fortify myself in another direction. Having no interest to maintain the paradox that, next after an Oxford man, a complete stranger will make the best Oxford Professor, I must persuade you to think me, as I desire to think myself, as little of a stranger as possible. And this is not such a merely personal matter as it seems : for the relations of a Professor to the University and its members are (at least it is a Professor's business to make them so if he can) something wider and more human than the delivering and hearing of lectures, and therefore it concerns you to know that fortune has dealt favourably with me in preparing the way for these relations, and especially in regard to the Faculty to which my work belongs.
To say that I find myself here among friends is nothing. I have seen enough of Oxford hospitality and of the universal brotherhood of scholarship to be assured that such would be my experience if I had come here without a single acquaintance in this College or in the University. But it is something to say that I find myself in the company of old friends, and moreover of those who have been my guides and fellow-workers in a pursuit still followed in this land by few, scorned or depreciated by many, the scientific