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with a laugh that seemed to have the full strength of his mind in it. Probably no one who heard it will ever forget his amusement when, in the course of a most learned discussion about the nature of an account, some one mentioned the Massachusetts action upon an “account annexed."
It was largely owing to Mr. Langdell's manner in class, and to his careful fullness of statement and of discussion, that his law sometimes seemed too academic; and many of his students said, if they did not really feel, that his teaching was magnificent, but it was not law. He was quoted as speaking of “a comparatively recent case decided by Lord Hardwicke," and he was believed to regard modern decisions as beneath his notice. In the subjects of Equity and Suretyship, which he was then teaching, one might have fancied from his list of cases that Lord Eldon was still on the woolsack and that America was legally undiscovered. Even his warmest admirers felt constrained to give up his course on Mortgages when at Christmas-time he was still dealing with the rights of tenant and mortgagee under a common law mortgage, and had not yet informed us that equity preserved a right of redemption after breach. His list of cases on Specific Performance of Contracts held out the fond hope that we should get as near to the present as the case of Lumley v. Wagner; but there was only time in the last lecture for a hurried but scathing criticism of that decision. His manner of treating the subjects he taught was unimpassioned and coldly logical, and his intellectual deliberation seemed medieval.
The quietness of his teaching, however, was the quietness of intensive force, and the antique seeming of his law was all on the surface. We found that we were carrying away his ideas in our heads as well as in our note-books, and that those ideas really represented the law of the present time. We thought it wise to examine modern cases; we took the Massachusetts Digest and collected and carefully studied the current decisions on Equity Jurisdiction; and we found that the judges of the present day were saying precisely the same things that Mr. Langdell had been telling us, though possibly the words sounded more modern from their lips. One of his pupils of that day still prizes his notes of the lectures on Equity Jurisdiction, annotated by a full collection of the Massachusetts and modern English authorities, as one of his most useful law-books. Nearer acquaintance led us to appreciate at its true worth the painstaking and accurate learning of Mr. Langdell's mind, as it led us to admiration and affection for the sterling honesty and the untiring generosity of his character. The test of time has certainly justified his teaching, not only in the learning, but also in the preparedness of his pupils for modern conditions and their mastery of modern law.
To his patient thoroughness we owe his articles on Equity Jurisdiction, which embody the results of long thought and investigation. I happened to be responsible for the now obsolete department of Lecture Notes in the first numbers of the HARVARD LAW REVIEW, and went to him to ask if we might print notes of his lectures on an abstruse point. After long thought he decided that it would be better if he went a little more thoroughly into the matter, and wrote an article upon it. As he wrote, he became engrossed in the line of thought involved, and he decided to expand his article into “A Brief Survey of Equity Jurisdiction,” which might perhaps require three monthly articles. He actually worked on the articles seventeen years.
The same characteristic distinguished his work as Dean of the Law School. For twenty-five years the whole administration of the School was carried on with the most minute care. Whether a great measure of policy was under consideration, or the granting of a scholarship, procuring a new Professor or a new book for the library, every consideration which occurred to his great mind on either side of the question was faithfully and even anxiously weighed; the precedents, if any, were examined, and a general principle deduced to govern the case; and it may be truly said that his decisions were so carefully made that they were never overruled or reversed.
We sometimes in our haste think that minds that act with deliberation are apt to be too cautious to accomplish great things. Mr. Langdell acted deliberately, and his nature was thoroughly conservative; yet few men, however radical, have effected greater changes than he.
Joseph H. Beale, Jr.
PROFESSOR LANGDELL- HIS SERVICES
TO LEGAL EDUCATION.
F Professor Langdell had done nothing more than to write his
“Summary of Equity Pleading" and his “Brief Survey of Equity Jurisdiction,” his title to rank as one of the great masters of the law would be undisputed. If his legal work had been limited to leading the discussions with his pupils, his influence upon the law would have been far-reaching. It was a liberal education to his students to follow the working of his mind in the classroom, and many of his pupils, like the writer of these lines, recognize with gratitude that he did more for their intellectual development than any other man. But pre-eminent as he was as a writer and teacher, his chief distinction is his success in the reorganization and development of the Law School.
The Law School has had two flourishing periods, — the one covering the years 1829–1845, when Judge Story was a professor; the other extending from the advent of Professor Langdell, in 1870, to the present time. In the twelve years before Story came the School was feeble, languishing, and, at the end, almost moribund. During the twenty-five years after Story's death the School, although doing much good work, lost ground as to resources, number of students, and condition of the library.
The transformation of the School wrought by Langdell was a wonderful achievement, — an achievement, it should be said, that would have been impossible without the sympathetic and steadfast support of President Eliot. When Langdell came, there were but three professors giving ten lectures a week to 115 students, and the degree was conferred after one year of residence upon “ persons admitted to the School without any evidence of academic acquirements and sent from it without any evidence of legal acquirements.” He lived to see a faculty of ten professors, eight of them his former pupils, giving more than fifty lectures a week to over 750 students, and bestowing the degree upon college graduates only after three years of residence and the passing of three annual examinations. At the beginning of his services here, the Treasurer's books disclosed a deficit. At the time of his death the surplus was nearly half a million dollars, large enough to provide a
library fund of $100,000, and an additional building with ampler accommodations than those of Austin Hall, to be named, with peculiar appropriateness, Langdell Hall. Since 1870 the library has increased more than tenfold, from 8700 to 96,000 volumes, and is believed to be without a rival, if regard be had to the number, editions, and physical condition of the books.
Professor Langdell had the satisfaction of seeing, as one result of his innovations, a thoroughgoing change in the quality of the law students. Thirty-six years ago they were looked down upon by the college undergraduates as inferior beings. To-day, by common consent, they are the élite of the university students.
But the most fruitful change of all was the revolution effected by Langdell in the mode of teaching and studying law, - a revolution now so complete that most persons hear with surprise that, when his “ Cases on Contracts” was first used, his disciples were a mere handful and known as “ Langdell's freshmen," a name given as a term of reproach but received as a title of honor; that the students for a dozen years were divided into the Langdellians and the antiLangdellians, and that unanimity among his colleagues came only in the second half of his administration. In the last ten years his method has conquered its way into a majority of American law schools. To his pupils and colleagues it is a constant satisfaction that this man of genius was permitted to see his views dominating legal education throughout the United States.
James Barr Ames.
VOLUNTARY ASSUMPTION OF RISK.
HE maxim volenti non fit injuria as expressing the principle
that one who has voluntarily encountered a known danger cannot recover from the creator thereof, has of late years been much discussed in relation to a particular class of cases, those brought by workmen against their employers to recover for injuries received in the course of their employment. Neither the maxim nor this principle, which among other things it expresses, is confined to this particular class of cases, nor does it state any isolated or anomalous doctrine. It is not in any way founded upon anything peculiar to the relation of master and servant, nor is it based upon the contractual nature of the relation. It does not result from an implied term in a contract creating the relation; it applies equally to any relation voluntarily assumed - contractual or not. The maxim volenti non fit injuria is a terse expression of the individualistic tendency of the common law, which, proceeding from the people and asserting their liberties, naturally regards the freedom of individual action as the keystone of the whole structure. Each individual is left free to work out his own destinies; he must not be interfered with from without, but in the absence of such interference he is held competent to protect himself. While therefore protecting him from external violence, from imposition and from coercion, the common law does not assume to protect him from the effects of his own personality and from the consequences of his voluntary actions or of his careless misconduct.
The doctrine of the so-called voluntary assumption of known risks is but one of the expressions of this fundamental idea; other exhibitions of it, differing only with the conditions to which the conception is applied, are the defenses of consent and of contributory negligence. None of these is identical with any other, none is derived from the other, all are derivatives from a common source.
In the law of torts, at least, the idea of any obligation to protect others was abnormal. In time it came to be recognized that such duties might be forced upon persons who should engage in certain public pursuits. Upon carriers, innkeepers, and those engaged in