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LAW OF REAL PROPERTY
AN ELEMENTARY COLLECTION OF
AUTHORITIES FOR STUDENTS
SELECTED AND EDITED
GEORGE W. KIRCHWEY
The collection herewith submitted has no more ambitious aim than to bring within the reach of students the necessary material for an understanding of the law of real property. It is not primarily a book of “ sources,” nor, strictly speaking, a compilation of authorities, but, as its title indicates, a series of carefully selected readings on the elements of property law, the several topics being treated by those who have —for the purposes of the student and within permissible limits of space—most clearly and adequately expounded them. The service which it seeks to render has for a hundred years been performed for the American student by the second book of Blackstone's immortal commentary on the common law, but a variety of causes—the development of the law since Blackstone's day, the rise of the new school of historical students of our law, and, perhaps, a diminishing reverence for great names of the past (other signs of which are not wanting horis novissimis)—have combined to render that work antiquated (in Lord Coke's sense of the term) and unavailable for use as an introduction to the law of real property.
That no one has arisen to do for us moderns what Blackstone did so well for our predecessors, is a commonplace of the law schools. A real introduction to the English and American law of land, which shall acquaint the student with the living sources of that law without leading him through the dreary waste of technicalities and obsolete doctrines with which its course is encumbered, which shall deal with the law of real property as a vital thing, having actual relations to the life of the community and not as an artificial system, invented to fasten the yoke of feudalism on a free people and perpetuated to preserve a monopoly of injustice to conveyancers,—this is the great desideratum of our legal education. The editor of this collection has long contemplated the writing of such a book, not without a hope, however, that soi
more competent hand would render the service in more adequate fashion than he could expect to do. In the meantime, this collection of extracts from the writings of the masters of the law is offered to students. It will at least save them the labor of hunting through scores of volumes in search of the most authoritative and lucid expositions of the doctrines considered.
The gratitude of the editor is due to all those who have, by their generous contributions from their writings, made such a collection possible. He desires, however, to make particular acknowledgment of his indebtedness to Professor John C. Gray, of the Harvard Law School, whose ripe learning and indefatigable labors, not less than his stimulating example as a legal writer and teacher, have brought the scientific study of the law of real property within the reach of all earnest students.
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, February, 1900.