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generally. He was one of the great lawyers, who, either by the

1 Life of Joseph Story, II. 38, 299, 320, 554.

2 Letters of J. R. Lowell, I. n, 45.
^ Life of Charles Sumner^ III. 11.


unkindness of fortune or by the want of one or more of the
lower qualities of the mind, had never been a great advocate.
" At the bar of New York, of which for more than fifteen years
he had been a member, not many could be found who had even
heard of him ; he had rarely been seen in the Courts." ' Presi-
dent Eliot, in his address on the Law School Day at the great
Commemoration in iS86, gives the following account of his
appointment : " I remembered that when I was a Junior in
College, in the year 1851-52, and used to go often in the early
evening to the room of a friend who was in the Divinity School,
I there heard a young man who was making the notes to
Parsons on Contracis talk about law. He was generally eating
his supper at the time, standing up in front of the fire and eating
with good appetite a bowl of brown bread and milk. I was a
mere boy, only eighteen years old ; but it was given to me to
understand that I was listening to a man of genius. In the
year 1870 I recalled the remarkable quality of that young man's
expositions, sought him in New York, and induced him to be-
come Dane Professor. So he became Professor Langdell. He
then told me, in 1870, a great many of the things he has told
you this afternoon. He told me that law was a science ; I was
quite prepared to believe it. He told me that the way to study
a science was to go to the original sources. I knew that was
true, for I had been brought up in the science of chemistry
myself; and one of the first rules of a conscientious student of
science is never to take a fact or a principle out of second-hand
treatises, but to go to the original memoir of the discoverer of
that fact or principle. Out of these two fundamental propo-
sitions — that law is a science, and that a science is to be
studied in its sources — there gradually grew, first, a new

I The Green Bag, January, 1S89, p. 17.


method of teaching law ; and, secondly, a reconstruction of the
curriculum of the school." ^

The method of construction pursued by Story and Greenleaf
and their successors had been " oral lectures illustrating and
explaining a previously prescribed text-reading, with more or
less examination thereon." No care had ever been taken at
any time to exclude those whose ignorance unfitted them for
the teaching of a university." There was only one course of
studies, and it lasted two years. The students, therefore, of
every second year entered on it when it was half-way through.
" This system," writes President Eliot, " was only justified by
poverty, and the convenient, though unsound, theory that there
is neither beginning nor end to the law, neither fundamental
principles nor natural development." ^ The ignorant students
were henceforth to be excluded by an entrance examination in
Latin or French, in Blackstone's Commentaries (exclusive of
editor's notes) , and in English spelling and composition. Those,
however, who had taken the degree of Bachelor of Arts at any
recognized university were admitted without any test. The
course of instruction was lengthened from eighteen months, first
to two years and later on to three. No one can enter on the
studies of the second year who has not passed his examinations
in the studies of the first year, or on the studies of the third
year who has not passed in the studies of the second year.
Nevertheless, the degree of Bachelor of Laws is conferred after
a two years' residence on those who pass in the entire course of
three years. Cum laude is added to the degree of all who
show " distinguished excellence." Twelve such distinctions are

1 Harvard University, 2joih Anniversary, p. 97.

2 The Green Bag, pp. 17, 18.

• Higher Education, etc., by G. G. Bush, p. 135.


on the average gained each year. In 1893, seventy-three
students in all graduated.*

Far beyond all the other changes which followed on Pro-
fessor Langdell's appointment, was the revolution made in
the method of teaching. What this revolution was we have
described in his own words. In his address at the Commemo-
ration of 1886, he said : —

" It was indispensable to establish at least two things : first, that law is
a science; secondly, that all the available materials of that science are
contained in printed books. If law be not a science, a university will
best consult its own dignity in declining to teach it. If it be not a
science, it is a species of handicraft, and may best be learned by serving
an apprenticeship to one who practises it. If it be a science, it will
scarcely be disputed that it is one of the greatest and most difficult of
sciences, and that it needs all the light that the most enlightened seat of
learning can throw upon it. Again, law can only be learned and taught
in a university by means of printed books. If, therefore, there are other
and better means of teaching and learning law than printed books, or if
printed books can only be used to the best advantage in connection with
other means, — for instance, the work of a lawyer's office, or attendance
upon the proceedings of Courts of Justice, — it must be confessed that
such means cannot be provided by a university. But if printed books are
the ultimate sources of all legal knowledge; if every student who would
obtain any mastery of law as a science must resort to these ultimate
sources; and if the only assistance which it is possible for the learner to
receive, is such as can be afforded by teachers who have travelled the same
road before him — then a university, and a university alone, can furnish
every possible facility for teaching and learning law. I wish to emphasize
the fact that a teacher of law should be a person who accompanies his pupils
on a road which is new to them, but with which he is well acquainted from
having often travelled it before. What qualities a person, therefore, to teach
law is not experience in the work of a lawyer's office, not experience in deal-
ing with men, not experience in the trial or argument of causes, — not ex-
perience, in short, in using law, but experience in learning law; not the
experience of the Roman advocate or of the Roman pr:i;lor, still less of the
Roman procurator, but the experience of the Roman juris-consult." ■*

1 Catalogue, pp. 346-49, 511.

^ Harvard Uuiversily, z^olh Anniversary, p. 85.


From an article on the Harvard Law School, by Mr. Louis D.
Brandeis, one of the foremost among the younger lawyers of
Boston, I extract the following account of the method by
which Professor Langdell " teaches the student to think in a
legal manner in accordance with the principles of the particu-
lar branch of the law." Mr. Brandeis begins by quoting the
following passage from the Professor's Select Cases on Con-
tracts, the first of a series published for the use of the School.

" Law, considered as a science, consists of certain principles or doc-
trines. To have such a mastery of these as to be able to apply them with
constant facility and certainty to the ever-tangled skein of human affairs,
is what constitutes a true lawyer; and hence to acquire that mastery
should be the business of every earnest student of the law. Each of these
doctrines has arrived at its present state by slow degrees ; in other words,
it is a growth, extending in many cases through centuries. This growth is
to be traced in the main through a series of cases; and much the shortest
and best, if not the only way of mastering the doctrine effectually is by
studying the cases in which it is embodied. But the cases which are use-
ful and necessary for this purpose at the present day bear an exceedingly
small proportion to all that have been reported. The vast majority are
useless and worse than useless for any purpose of systematic study. More-
over, the number of fundamental legal doctrines is much less than is com-
monly supposed; the many different guises in which the same doctrine is
constantly making its appearance, and the great extent to which legal
treatises are a repetition of each other, being the cause of much misap-
prehension. If these doctrines could be so classified and arranged that
each should be found in its proper place, and nowhere else, they would
cease to be formidable from their number."

"These books of cases," Mr. Brandeis goes on to say, "are the tools
with which the student supplies himself as he enters upon his work.
Take, for instance, the subject of ' Mutual Assent' in contracts. A score
of cases covering a century, contained in about one hundred and fifty
pages and selected from the English reports, the decisions of the Supreme
Court of the United States, and the highest courts of New York, Pennsyl-
vania, and Massachusetts, arranged in chronological order, show the devel-
opment of its leading principles. Before coming to the lecture-room, the
student, by way of preparation, has studied — he does not merely read —
say from two to six cases. In the selection of cases used as a text-book,


the head notes appearing in the regular reports are omitted, and the
student, besides mastering the facts, has endeavoured for himself to deduce
from the decision the principle involved. In the class-room some student
is called upon by the Professor to state the case, and then follows an
examination of the opinion of the court, an analysis of the arguments of
counsel, a criticism of the reasoning on which the decision is based, a
careful discrimination between what was decided and what is a dictum
merely. To use the expression of one of the Professors, the case is " evis-
cerated." Other students are either called upon for their opinions or
volunteer them, — the Professor throughout acting largely as moderator.
When the second case is taken up, material for comparison is furnished;
and with each additional authority that is examined, the opportunity for
comparison and for generalization grows. When the end of the chapter
of cases is reached, the student stands possessed of the principles in their
full development." ^

Mr. Brandeis describes "the ardour of the students. Pro-
fessor Ames, writing of the School ten years ago, said : ' Indeed,
one speaks far within bounds in saying that the spirit of work
and enthusiasm which now prevails is without parallel in the
history of any department of the University.' What was true
then is at least equally true now. The students live in an
atmosphere of legal thought. Their interest is at fever heat."
One of the Professors informed me that nine out of ten of his
pupils study hard. If they had had a period of idleness at the
University, it was in their Arts course. The entrance into the
Law School they looked upon as the entrance into the real
work of life. The idlers are weeded out each year by an
examination ; but of these there are always very few.

There is the freest access to a noble Law Library of thirty-
three thousand volumes. On it in each year between 1870 and
1890 about three thousand dollars (^613) were spent. Great
as this annual expenditure was, it has not been found sufficient.
In the last three years it has been nearly doubled.* In 1S92
1 The Green Bag, January, 18S9, p. 19. '•^ Catalogue, p. 351.


it was thought needful to add " another copy of every set of
EngHsh and American reports which is used to any consider-
able extent." In the summer vacation of that year the Libra-
rian took a trip to England and purchased nearly fourteen
hundred volumes of English reports. Before long " the Library
will have three copies of all the more important sets of English
and American reports, and of several sets it will have four
copies."^ "We have constantly inculcated the idea," said
Professor Langdell, " that the Library is the proper workshop
of Professors and students alike ; that it is to us all that the
Laboratories of the University are to the chemists and physi-
cists, all that the Museum of Natural History is to the zoolo-
gists, all that the Botanical Garden is to the botanists." "

In two different courts the students are trained both in law
and in arguing, — in Moot Courts held by the Professors, and
in Club Courts conducted entirely by the students. "The
Club Courts have generally two sets of members — the Junior
Court consisting of eight members selected from the first-year
Class, and the Senior Court consisting of nine members selected
from the second-year Class. At each sitting a case is argued
by two of the members as counsel, the rest sitting as judges.
In the Junior Court a member of the Senior Court sits as Chief
Justice. The cases are regularly presented upon the pleadings ;
briefs are prepared, arguments made, and opinions — some-
times in writing — delivered by each of the judges. The cases
are prepared with quite as much thoroughness as any work
that is done at the School." ^

Nothing better shows the excellence of the teaching than the

^ Annual Reports, 1892-93, p. 143.

2 Harvard University, 2joth Anniversary, p. 86.

^ The Green Bag, p. 23.


position held by the Harvard Law Revieiv. It is managed
wholly by the students ; their notes on legal topics are, I am
told, some of its best features. Among its contributors it
reckons not a few of the foremost legal thinkers both of Kng-
land and America. It is about to enter on its eighth volume ;
it has accumulated a reserve fund, and is in a perfectly sound
financial condition.

The Faculty is composed of six Professors, two Assistant-
Professors, two Lecturers and one Instructor, by whom forty-
eight lectures are delivered every week. They are not men
engaged in other occupations, who dwell at a distance, and
hurry down from time to time to give one or two hasty lect-
ures. They all live close to the College, and " they almost
without exception devote their entire time to the work of the
School, and the personal needs of the students." " I have
seen," said President Eliot, " four Professors added to the
Faculty of Law since Professor Langdell's accession ; if genius
be a remarkable capacity for work, they are all men of
genius." ^

It is the great desire, not only of the (ioverning Bodies in
general, but also of the Faculty of the Law School, that all
who study in it should first have graduated in Arts. In Oxford
so strongly is it felt by some of the Law Professors that the
School of Literge Humaniores best disciplines the mind, that,
if a man destined for the Bar has to choose between it and the
Law School, they always advise him to follow the witler instead
of the narrower course. He had belter, they think, learn all
his law in a barrister's chambers than miss the best jiart of a
liberal training. Professor Goodwin, with all his admiration
of the learning and the research of German universities, yet

1 Harvard University, 2^oth Anitivenary, p. 9S.


sees how in regard to " a purely liberal education " they are
surpassed by those of England and America. " A German,"
he writes, " passes by a single leap from the life of a school-
boy to that of a man who is (or ought to be) beginning the
serious work of life. He knows no period of transition such
as is open to the English and American youth, when his ship is
loosed from shore but is still in harbour, when he is in the
world but not exactly of the world, when he has a right to
spend his time in becoming acquainted with the great heritage
which has been bequeathed him before he is called to admin-
ister it and improve it for his successors. To this habit of our
English race of taking a period of rest combined with most
active work, of active work free from the responsibilites of real
life, between boyhood and manhood, we owe much that gives
the English and American college-bred man his distinct char-
acter, which often makes him a more cultivated man than one
of a different stamp with perhaps far greater learning." ^

True as this is, unless our students who are intended for the
Bar or the Solicitor's Office stay on at our universities and
study law as a science, their education will always be maimed
and imperfect. We must follow in Professor Langdell's steps,
and establish a School in which that natural impatience which
comes over the best minds, by the end of their undergraduates'
course, to enter on the real work of life, shall be satisfied. To
do this, our short terms and frequent vacations must come to
an end. The real work of life is not carried on in twenty-five
weeks of each year divided into three periods, separated by
vacations, the shortest of which lasts at least a month. There
must be, as at Harvard, the long sweep of work from the end
of September to the end of June, broken only by a few days'

^ The Present and Future of Harvard College, p. 33.


rest at Christmas and Easter. The gain will be twofold — a
gain in the steadiness of work and in its amount. By the end
of his three years' course the student will have had, not
seventy-two weeks of study broken up into nine periods, but
one hundred and eleven weeks divided into three. Wlien
once we have a well-organized School and a large staff of Pro-
fessors all inspired with that spirit which animates these New
England teachers, and all gifted with that genius which consists
in a remarkable capacity for work, we shall soon have a body
of students equally inspired and equally gifted. The School
will grow with the rapidity of which Han-ard boasts ; in the
ten years between 1882 and 1892, it saw its students of law
increase in number from one hundred and thirty-one to three
hundred and ninety-four. Stricter measures which were taken
two years ago to exclude incompetent men have, for a time,
caused a slight check ; in the present year there are but three
hundred and fifty-three on the list. Of these rather more than
seven in every ten have taken a degree in Arts. In 1891-92,
for the first time, the Harvard graduates were outnumbered
by the graduates of all the other universities combined. Yale
sent twenty-one. The average age at entrance was a few weeks
under twenty-three.^ In America, as in England, youths at the
present day make too long a stay at school, entering upon
their university life at least a year too late.

Daniel Webster, in one of his speeches, looks fonvard to the
time when America shall repay to Europe the great debt of
learning which she owes her. The repayment to F^ngland has
already begun ; all that we have to do is to stretch out our
hands and to gather in the fruits of Harvanl's experience in
the method of teaching law.

^ Harvard University, by Y. Bollcs, p. 69.


The Lawrence Scientific School. — Special Students.

THE growth of the Scientific School has been more rapid
even than that of the Law School. " It has to-day
twenty times as many students as it had seven years ago." In
1886 they were but fourteen in number; now they are two
hundred and eighty.^ It was founded in 1847 by a noble gift
of Mr. Abbott Lawrence, but it was long in taking root. It
was in the department of Natural History that it made its first
great start. " Nothing," says Professor Goodwin, " rouses a
stronger opposition to any scheme for university reform than
the charge that it is foreign." ^ Happily there is not appa-
rently the same jealousy of foreigners; for it was the Swiss
Agassiz, who had been trained in the best methods of the great
German universities, who by his genius, his ardent love of
knowledge and his persuasive eloquence, stirred up the citizens
of Boston and the Legislature of the Commonwealth to found
the University Museum. It would have been in itself a noble
monument to his memory, but to render it still worthier his son,
Professor Alexander Agassiz, has laid out on it at his own cost
more than a quarter of a million of dollars. " There is," says
President Eliot, " no institution in the world which offers richer
and more varied opportunities for the study of Natural History

1 An7tual Repoi-ts, 1892-93, p. 7.

2 The Present and Future of Harvard College, p. 21.



than the Lawrence Scientific School." ' Nevertheless, owing
apparently to defects in organization, the number of students
had of late years fallen away. Up to 1890 it had been "as
distinct a professional school as the Law School or the Medical
School. Since its consolidation with the other two depart-
ments under the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, it has grown
with great rapidity. Its students work side by side under one
Faculty, play on the same teams, row in the same boats, and
mingle freely in the same societies."- Of the two hundred
and eighty students, one hundred and forty-two entered with
the intention of taking the degree of Bachelor of Science,
while the rest either resorted to the School for the sake of
pursuing some particular study, or did not propose to go
through the four years' course.'"* The entrance examination is
easier for the young students of Science than for one who
intends to take his degree in Arts. On the other hand, when
he is once in, more work is required of him, and more is freely
done. " As a rule," says the President, " there is more of the
spirit of hard work in the Scientific Schools or Courses than
in the Colleges or College Departments of Universities. The
motive of earning a livelihood presses more constantly, and
the students feel more distinctly that they are beginning their
life work."* The candidates for a degree work at one of
" seven compactly arranged groups of subjects." All either at
entrance or, if they prefer, at the end of their course must
pass an examination in English. Those taking their degree
this year have to satisfy the examiners that they have " read

1 History of Higher Education, etc., by G. G. Bush, pp. 117-18.

2 Harvard University^ by F. Bolles, p. 59.

8 Catalogtie, p. 246; Annual Reports, 1S92-93, p. 104.
* Annual Reports, 1891-92, p. 22; lb. 1S92-93, p. II.


intelligently Shakespeare's Julius Ccesar and Merchant of
Venice, Scott's Lady of the Lake, Arnold's Sohrab and Rustiim,
the " Sir Roger de Coverley Papers " in The Spectator, Macau-
lay's Second Essay on the Earl of Chatham, Emerson's Ameri-
can Scholar, Irving's Sketch-Book, Scott's Abbot, Dickens's
David Copperfieldy ^

This School is open to undergraduates in general ; some of
the courses counting for the degree, either of Bachelor of Arts
or of Bachelor of Medicine. Dr. Goodale, Professor of
Natural History, told me that last year two hundred students
in all attended his classes on Botany. His lecture-room is
admirably fitted up. In one part of the Museum he showed
me long cases full of wonderful imitations of plants in glass,
so perfect that they stand the test of the microscope. They
are the productions of a father and son named Blaschka, who
belong to a family long settled in Germany, which for many
generations has produced skilful workers in glass. I was told
that when the son paid a visit to America, and saw in the Har-
vard Museum these flowers thus displayed, and his name and
his father's inscribed on the walls, the tears came into his eyes.
One of the Professor's pupils had lately made a minute exami-
nation of the weeds on a small plot of ground. Scarcely a
single one of nearly seventy varieties was of American origin.
The European seeds get as great a mastery over the native
seeds as the white men got over the red.

For the last twenty years, during six weeks of the Long
Vacation, the College has been open to students, whether they
are members of the University or outsiders. The Summer
Courses, as they are called, include instruction in German,
French, English, Anglo-Saxon, engineering, physics, chemistry,

1 Harvard University, by F. Bolles, p. 58; Catalogue, p. 247.


botany, geology, mathematics, and physical training. In the
Medical School, moreover, "courses in many branches of
practical and scientific medicine are given." Last year three
hundred and forty-six students in all attended, of whom a large
proportion were teachers. The summer school vacation, it
must be remembered, is much longer in the United States than
in England. Of these three hundred and forty-six, two hun-
dred and forty-three were men and one hundred and three
were women.^ I doubt whether at Oxford, in the Long Vaca-

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Online LibraryGeorge Birkbeck Norman HillHarvard college, by an Oxonian; → online text (page 20 of 26)