Reference > Quotations > S. Austin Allibone, comp. > Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay
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S. Austin Allibone, comp.  Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay.  1880.
 
Judge Joseph Story
 
  Human wisdom is the aggregate of all human experience, constantly accumulating, and selecting, and reorganizing its own materials.
Judge Joseph Story.    
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  No one appreciates more fully than myself the general importance of the study of the law. No one places a higher value upon that science as the great instrument by which society is held together and the cause of public justice is maintained and vindicated. Without it, neither liberty, nor property, nor life, nor that which is even dearer than life, a good reputation, is for a moment secure. It is, in short, the great elastic power which pervades and embraces every human relation. It links man to man by so many mutual ties, and duties, and dependencies, that, though often silent and unseen in its operations, it becomes at once the minister to his social necessities and the guardian of his social virtues.
Judge Joseph Story: Address at Harvard 2d Centen. Anniv., Sept. 8, 1836: Story’s Life and Letters, ii. 254.    
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  The law is a science of such vast extent and intricacy, of such severe logic and nice dependencies, that it has always tasked the highest minds to reach even its ordinary boundaries. But eminence in it can never be attained without the most laborious study, united with talents of a superior order. There is no royal road to guide us through its labyrinths. These are to be penetrated by skill, and mastered by a frequent survey of landmarks. It has almost passed into a proverb that the lucubrations of twenty years will do little more than conduct us to the vestibule of the temple; and an equal period may well be devoted to exploring the recesses.
Judge Joseph Story: Discourse on John H. Ashmun: Story’s Life and Letters, ii. 145.    
  3
 
  The common law has now become an exceedingly voluminous system; and as its expositions rest, not on a positive text, but upon arguments, analogies, and commentaries, every person who desires to know much must engage in a very extensive system of reading. He may employ half his life in mastering treatises the substance of which, in a positive code, might occupy but a few hundred pages. The codes of Justinian, for instance, superseded the camel-loads of commentaries which were antecedently in use, and are all now buried in oblivion. The Napoleon Codes have rendered thousands of volumes only works of occasional consultation which were before required to be studied very diligently, and sometimes in repeated perusals.
Judge Joseph Story: Encyc. Amer., vii. (1835), Appendix (Law, Legislation, Codes).    
  4
 
  The opinion of no jurist, however high or distinguished is his reputation or ability, is of the least importance in settling the law, or ascertaining its construction, in England or the United States. So far as he may, by his arguments, or counsel, or learning, instruct the court, or enlighten its judgments, they have their proper weight. But if the court decide against his opinion, it falls to the ground. It has no farther effect. The decision becomes conclusive and binding, and other courts are governed by it, as furnishing for them the just rule of decision. No court would feel itself at liberty to disregard it, unless upon the most urgent occasion, and when it interfered with some other known rule or principle; and even then with the greatest caution and deference. In countries where the common law prevails, it is deemed of infinite importance that there should be a fixed and certain rule of decision, and that the rights and property of the whole community should not be delivered over to endless doubts and controversies. Our maxim, in truth, and not in form merely, is, Misera est servitus, ubi jus est vagum aut incertum.
Judge Joseph Story: Encyc. Amer., vii. (1835), Appendix (Law, Legislation, Codes).    
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  The value of an accurate Index is well known to those who have frequent occasion to consult voluminous works in any science, and to construct a good one requires great patience, labor, and skill.
Judge Joseph Story: N. Amer. Rev., xxiii. 39.    
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