Download The Path of the Law (Little Books of Wisdom) by Oliver Wendell Holmes PDF

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By Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Extra resources for The Path of the Law (Little Books of Wisdom)

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Sir Henry Maine has made it fashionable to connect the archaic notion of property with prescription. But the connection is further back than the first recorded history. It is in the nature of man's mind. A thing which you have enjoyed and used as your own for a long time, whether property or an opinion, takes root in your being and cannot be torn away without your resenting the act and trying to defend yourself, however you came by it. The law can ask no better justification than the deepest instincts of man.

The advice of the elders to young men is very apt to be as unreal as a list of the hundred best books. At least in my day I had my share of such counsels, and high among the unrealities I place the recommendation to study the Roman law. I assume that such advice means more than collecting a few Latin maxims with which to ornament the discourse—the purpose for which Lord Coke recommended Bracton. If that is all that is wanted, the title De Regulis Juris Antiqui can be read in an hour. I 35 assume that, if it is well to study the Roman Law, it is well to study it as a working system.

The lack is not confined to valets. The object of ambition, power, generally presents itself nowadays in the form of money alone. Money is the most immediate form, and is a proper object of desire. " That is a good text to waken people out of a fool's paradise. " To an imagination of any scope the most far-reaching form of power is not money, it is the command of ideas. If you want great examples, read Mr. Leslie Stephen's History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century, and see how a hundred years after his death the abstract speculations of Descartes had become a practical force controlling the conduct of men.

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