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But, on the other hand, it is to be observed, in the first place, that a good text-book upon a given subject is not always available, and especially is this apt to be the case if the branch of law to be considered-like insurance law, for instance_is one which is in process of rapid development. Owing to the large number of independent tribunals in the different States, and the enormous multiplication of reported cases, involving decisions more or less in harmonious with one another, it is a harder task to write a scientific treatise upon a general branch of American jurisprudence than it used to be in former years, when, with a limited field to traverse, the learned juridical author led rather than followed the courts. Accordingly, as is well known, the cautious practitioner of modern times uses his text-book as an index or digest of cases and subjects, rather than as a safe and final exposition of the law, and is seldom satisfied without supplementing its perusal with a resort to the more reliable sources of authority to be found in the reports themselves.

But, in the second place, the solution of the question of ways and means how most effectively to inculcate legal principles may not turn altogether upon the excellence of the text-book that happens to offer itself for use ; since at best a text-book is only a reflection from the law, and not the law itself.

It is, for the most part, as has been remarked, nothing but a collection of actual decisions from many cases.

Ilere the abridg. ment is not in the number of cases, but in the form and substance of every one; and in order to bring the reports of all the adjudications cited in the text within the compass of a volume, each case must be condensed to a point almost beyond recognition. Its title and individuality must be sacrificed. The exact and concise statement of material facts, prepared with all the experience and skill of the official reporter, without a careful examination of which no judge or lawyer would venture to estimate or pass upon the validity or significance of the decision, must be seriously curtailed or altogether dropped, for lack of room. For the same reason the opinion of the court, although it may be a monument of legal learning and profound thought, and may offer a most concise model of sound and convincing logic, and although presumably it was deemed necessary for the elucidation of the decision or else it would not have been written, must likewise be omitted.

In place of the statement of facts and the course of reasoning by which the conclusion of the court is explained and supported, the author of the text-book puts into a few words of his own what he considers to be the pith and point of the case; and this is all that is furnished to the student for his edification and instruction. Indeed, without a proper book of selected cases this is all that the instructor can furnish to his class, for it would be fruitless to refer them to a reported case without supplying copies of it, and without making it the subject of examination and discussion in the recitation room, since it is evident that a large class cannot all gain access to the same volume in the library on the same day, and experience proves that they would seldom have the inclination to do so if they could.

One difficulty with these summarized transcripts from adjudicated cases, as they appear in the text-book, is that they must be more or less inaccurate as compared with the originals from which they are taken; another conspicuous disadvantage inherent in them is that their meaning is frequently obscured by the mutilation which they have undergone, and especially to the apprehension of a student, for the reason that their abbreviated form presupposes a much greater knowledge of the sub ject than the ordinary reader possesses; and a third cause for unfavorable criticism is their abstract character as compared with complete reports. An actual, well-established, neverchanging case, the full details of which have been made familiar by private study and open discussion, appeals to the imagination and fastens itself upon the memory; but an abstract generalization, read from the pages of some particular edition of a text-book and recited by rote, produces an impression of uncertainty and dissatisfaction, and quickly fades out of remembrance. The student who has gained all his knowledge of law from a perusal of general treatises, when he is subsequently confronted by practical problems in the course of his professional career, will often have a vague recollection that he has read or heard something or other upon the subject presented for his determination, but what the point of the decision was, or which way it went, or where it is to be found, he is unable to remember.,

What he wants to acquire from his two or three years in the law school is a legal training of practical utility, and no

course of study is satisfactory that does not meet that requirement; for the practice of the law is an art as well as a science, and its success depends not merely on a knowledge of rules, but still more on the ability to apply them to actual and evervarying problems of fact. No system of legal instruction can be pronounced perfect that allows a student to wait until after graduation before being required to read any insurance cases, or to see the form of an insurance policy, or the written application for a policy, or the proofs of loss; and yet, a few years ago, that was precisely the experience of many if not most of our law students, although insurance was made one of the required subjects of study in every course upon contracts.

There are two things, all will agree, in regard to which a law-student ought to make himself an adept before he can hope to become a successful practitioner—he must be able, upon a given statement of facts, to reach a correct legal conclusion, or else he cannot give good advice to his clients; and he must also be able to follow out a sound and logical course of reasoning to its legitimate result, or else he cannot win their cause before court or jury. From all this the inquiry arises whether in trying to teach these two lessons we can afford to discard altogether the leading cases of our great judges, which constitute the original and final standards of legal authority.

Those of us who have had hereditary or long-standing prepossessions in favor of the old and time-honored methods of teaching law, and who are inclined to defend them against a new-comer with feelings of just gratitude and loyalty, must face the question fairly, whether, with all their merits, they are not susceptible of some improvement, and whether the wisest course to adopt is not a resultant of the advantages of both the systems which I have thus attempted to compare and contrast. The actual combinations of fact are so multifarious, legal distinctions are so arbitrary, often having a historical rather than a scientific basis, that it surely must be more profitable for the student to limit his attention at first to fundamental and farreaching principles, taking time to make these intelligible and familiar by working them out in a realistic way from the great masterpieces of forensic logic and learning given by illustrious judges in the performance of their professional duty, rather than to seek a wider and more indefinite survey of the entire field of the subject as mapped out by an individual and irresponsible author, of which at best only a faint impression can be permanently retained in the memory.

Finally, it may be objected, that to devote attention to an examination and discussion of actual cases will induce the student to pin his faith to isolated decisions rather than to rely upon general principles, and will encourage in him a habit of superficial disputation at the expense of hard study. However forcible this objection might be if directed against the exclusive use of the case system, it offers no adequate reason for neglecting to take advantage of the undeniable assistance to be derived from a collection of well-selected cases with which to illustrate the more general propositions of the text-book. And the great weight of testimony from those who have tried the experiment certainly favors the further use of selected cases for purposes of debate in the class-room. The collision of mind with mind among the students who take an active part in the argument is stimulating and instructive; and the free and open discussion of principles, based upon definite statements of fact, brings the teacher into more vital and influential relations with his class, and affords him the better opportunity to discover and correct their difficulties and mistakes.

With respect to the law of insurance, the more recent American text-books are, for the most part, elaborate digests of decisions, altogether too voluminous for the class-room. Moreover, much of their space is given up to a consideration of phraseology which does not appear in the later forms of policies, and consequently is more or less obsolete ; and no one of them treats specifically of the New York standard fire policy, which is now used exclusively within this State, and has been substantially adopted by several other of the largest States. English text-books on this subject, such as Porter and Bunyon, relate principally to English forms of policies and English statutes and decisions, which differ in important particulars from our own; while no one of the books named treats of marine insurance, although in it, as the oldest branch, the first principles of insurance law were established.

Having lately accepted an invitation from the Faculty of the Columbia Law School to deliver a course of lectures upon the law of insurance generally, including fire, life, accident, and

marine, I find myself reluctantly compelled to prepare and print a book which can with propriety and convenience be put into the hands of the class. In the arrangement of its contents, after tracing the nature of insurance and the origin and growth of insurance and insurance law, I have adopted the method of considering, first, general principles of insurance law by themselves, apart from the terms of the policies, and then the provisions of the policies clause by clause, following the phraseology and the order in which they occur in the several instruments. This, I think, is the most practical and convenient method, both for students and practitioners, and is one which the adoption of a standard form of fire policy has made quite feasible.

The'leading cases composing Part Second have been care. fully selected from the English and American reports, and are illustrative of the corresponding chapters of Part First, in connection with which they should be studied and discussed.

In the Appendix will be found classified lists of references to the numerous statutes of American legislatures relating to the insurance contract, with a specimen of each class. These lists have been made up from the original statutes of all the States, and are now, for the first time, presented in a text-book on insurance law.


March, 1892.

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