By Henry Sumner, Sir Maine
Creation via J. H. MORGAN
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Additional resources for Ancient Law: Its Connection to the History of Early Society
In all the qualities of the advocate, the judge, and the legislator, they far excelled their compeers throughout Europe. Their juridical tact, their ease of expression, their fine sense of analogy and harmony, and (if they may be judged by the highest names among them) their passionate devotion to their conceptions of justice, were as remarkable as the singular variety of talent which they included, a variety covering the whole ground between the opposite poles of Cujas and Montesquieu, of D'Aguesseau and Dumoulin.
It is never safe, however, to assume that conclusions, however certain and immediate in our own eyes, were actually drawn at any period of history. No passage has ever been adduced from the remains of Roman law which, in my judgment, proves the jurisconsults to have believed natural law to have obligatory force between independent commonwealths; and we cannot but see that to citizens of the Roman empire who regarded their sovereign's dominions as conterminous with civilisation, the equal subjection of states to the Law of Nature, if contemplated at all, must have seemed at most an extreme result of curious speculation.
Dumoulin, the highest of all authorities on old French Customary Law, has some extravagant passages on the Law of Nature; and his panegyrics have a peculiar rhetorical turn which indicated a considerable departure from the caution of the Roman jurisconsults. The hypothesis of a Natural Law had become not so much a theory guiding practice as an article of speculative faith, and accordingly we shall find that, in the transformation which it more recently underwent, its weakest parts rose to the level of its strongest in the esteem of its supporters.
Ancient Law: Its Connection to the History of Early Society by Henry Sumner, Sir Maine