Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1922

Abstract

KNOWLEDGE of the Common Law "doth no way conduce to the making of a statesman. It is a confined and topicall kind of Learning calculated only for the Meridian of WestministerHall, and reacheth no further than Dover. Transplant a Common Lawyer to Calice, and his head is no more usefull there than a Sun-dyal in a grave." So an anonymous individual placarded England, some three hundred years ago, in protest against the election of lawyers to Parliament. It is unquestionably true, today, that knowledge of the common law-in its customary connotation of precedent--does not in and of itself make a statesman. It contributes thereto, but it does not accomplish the end. Statesmen are pilots of the ship; they are the lookers-ahead, conceptors of what ought to be. They shift the course to avoid an evil or attain a good. They change old laws and make new laws when the welfare of their people so requires. They must know conditions as they are; they must determine whether to retain them or to change them. They direct the future from a knowledge of the present and the past.


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