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Law; one in the Institutes, another in the Pandects. I should hope that, making the Institutes our class-book, I shall be able to bring before you much illustrative matter from the Pandects and the Code, and, as falling in best with the arrangements in connexion with which important privileges are given by the College to law students who do not properly belong to it, and who may wish to attend these classes, I shall try to complete the course of instruction within a year.
I cannot be without some anxiety as to the result of this experiment in education. I cannot but feel that on our first success in this effort to aid by professional instruction the progress of the law students, infinitely more is at issue than would at first appear. To the Benchers of the King's Inns the profession and the country are deeply indebted, and we must not disappoint their hopes. Of the University it is, perhaps, unbecoming here to speak; still I cannot but say what I most deeply feel, that of all the institutions of the country, it alone has been at all times true to its trust;—at all times ;-never, surely, more than at the time in which we live, when there is no educated man in Europe who has not received instruction from the great men whom we have still among us, and from our illustrious dead; great men, whose names are so familiar here that we forget their greatness,--forget that their names are everywhere familiar. Our University has, I say, at all times since its foundation, truly aided the cause of education; and it is with a feeling of delight that I see in the new Colleges one distinguished man after another, most of whom we have educated, connecting themselves with those rising establish. ments, and furthering the good cause of education. I have read with exceeding pleasure and instruction a published lecture by Mr. Mills, of Cork, on the subject of general jurisprudence. I must fear for myself; I cannot fear for the
cause of legal education; in particular, I cannot fear for you, when I remember those to whose courses of instruction you must pass as each successive class moves onward. The admiration and delight,—more measured words would not express my feeling, — the admiration and delight with which I have heard some of the lectures now being delivered at the King's Inns, and which cannot be wholly without fruit in the case of the dullest and most inattentive hearer, are to me evidence irresistible of the benefit which may arise from the system. The strong sympathy between all who are in any way connected with this course of instruction, and the determination of each and all to do whatever all and each can do to promote the common object, compel me to believe that we must succeed.
I place as little faith as any one can on the mere effect of lectures. By themselves they can do nothing, or next to nothing. By lectures, if lectures are only formal prelections, nothing can be done. If any one thinks that details of practice cannot be taught to such an extent as to be of any great use, he will not find me very anxiously opposing his views. But to assume that our course of instruction is by professional lecture alone, is greatly to mistake. In the classes at King's Inns, the more formal lectures, to which the public is admitted, are followed by instruction given to the class in private. The University Professors endeavour to instruct by prelection and by class lectures, and we have examinations testing the progress of the students.
I think the persons who distrust the system of lectures ought to remember that from courses of lectures delivered from public chairs, many admirable works have had their origin:— Adam Smith's — Ferguson's— Reid's — Dugald Stewart's--Coleridge's. There is Merivale's book on Colonization. There is Miller's, who occupied your chair of History. And this has been the fact in the case of Law, as well as everything else. The name of Blackstone must have long ago occurred to you all. Sullivan's book on the Feudal Law, a volume often mentioned with praise, grew out of lectures delivered here. From lectures delivered here, Browne's several works on Civil Law, on Ecclesiastical Law, and on Admiralty Law, were formed. A system of teaching, out of which well-arranged text-books have grown, cannot be vicious. The books never would have existed but for the lectures, and the lecturer continues to teach wherever his book is read.
The evidence taken before Mr. Wyse's Committee on legal education gives us a detailed account of a law school of private foundation in Dublin. It would be ingratitude to be silent on the subject of the successful effort made in Mr. Kennedy's “ Institute” to assist the education of law students. I have heard lectures at that school from distinguished men,-from Mr. Napier,--from Mr. Whiteside, from Dr. Longfield,—from Mr. Molyneux, who now fills one of the Law chairs in the Queen's College at Belfast, from Mr. Barry. There, too, I heard an instructive discourse on the subject of evidence, or rather on the subject of the duties of counsel with respect to examining witnesses, from the Archbishop of Dublin. I mention this as the strongest evidence of what such men think on the subject of instructing the law student by means of lectures. I am the less anxious to urge this on you, because it has been well argued in Mr. Joy's important letters on education for the Bar.
It is impossible that any such course of professional education as is contemplated by the University and by the Benchers, can be commenced without having difficulties of one kind or another to encounter. It is natural, perhaps, that I should think most of those which affect the peculiar department assigned to myself. If it seems to have less practical bearing, and therefore can scarcely be expected to
engage the time and attention of men about to take part at once in the actual business of our courts of law, I have at all events the satisfaction of having, as my peculiar class, those who will not, for the most part, be called to the Bar for some three or four years; and, what is also of moment, who have not yet forgotten the books to which, even more than what are properly law books, I shall be compelled constantly to refer. I must often call your attention to passages, perhaps familiar to you, but which, in the illustrations they occasionally receive from the Roman law, or give to it, cannot be supposed to have occupied you. What is familiar will for a while be likely to deceive by its very familiarity, and by its being for the first time exhibited in connexion with objects which you have not before seen. The process must be gradual and slow before we are quite at home “ in light that counterfeits a gloom,"_but one by one we shall, I trust, begin to distinguish objects, --and see them in something of their true position. Their relations are what we are most concerned with, and these cannot possibly be understood without more of inquiry, more of attention than can be expected, or, at all events, than will be given by men advanced in life, and occupied with its duties. It is to me a source of great delight, my one only hope for the accomplishment of the task intrusted to me,—for the accomplishment of that yet higher task, which in each humblest man's imagination his own mind will present to him as possible to be accomplished,—that to me is confided, at this best moment of their lives, the opportunity of in some slight degree aiding by suggestion the studies of the young. Without you, without your fixed attention,—nay, without your generous confidence in me and my earnestness, we can do nothing. Give me that attention, and I feel that much, that more than I venture to predict will be done. Were you men advanced in life I could do little more than, perhaps, now and then excite some feeling of interest by what I might chance to recall to your mind of old and half-faded recollections. I could hope little sympathy; I could neither give nor receive instruction. I feel myself fortunate, too, in another inci. dent, as well as in the mere fact of your youth. If I did not regard you as already trained and disciplined by accurate science, I should have little hope of that fixed attention, without which nothing can be learned. I shall do all I can distinctly to communicate, what I shall do all I can myself distinctly to understand. You are not to expect from me formal language,—our business being, now and at all times, to break up the false associations which language is for ever creating. I shall, in the plainest words by which the purpose can be effected, communicate to you all I can of the Roman laws and constitution. In such communication it will be wholly impossible not to consider numbers of the questions which modern writers on legislation have discussed. The principles which such questions involve will be best learned for our purpose through such illustration as they receive from the laws and legislation of the ancient nations, and the avoidance of all that may have any peculiar reference to the circumstances of modern society. I shall do what I can, in building up these old republics, to rest on sure foundations; but if we are at times unable to ascertain precise relations, if there be chasms which the imagination must arch over, I feel as if, even in those cases, Aristotle and Plato and Cicero are our surest guides; may I not dare to add Virgil, for I have myself learned from him very much of what early society and early religion was; and I think the picture of the Trojan settlement in Italy one which -not, of course, for its facts, but for its truth to what must ever occur in colonization founded on the principles universal among the ancients—is above all praise.