No one who is interested in the growth of human ideas or the origins of human society can afford to neglect Maine's Ancient Law. Published some fifty-six years ago it immediately took rank as a classic, and its epoch-making influence may not unfitly be compared to that exercised by Darwin's Origin of Species. The revolution effected by the latter in the study of biology was hardly more remarkable than that effected by Maine's brilliant treatise in the study of early institutions.
omeric poems, the Latin dramatists, the laws of the Barbarians, the sacerdotal laws of the Hindus, the oracles of the Brehon caste, and the writings of the Roman jurists. In other words, he was a master of the Comparative Method. Few writers have thrown so much light on the development of the human mind in its social relations. We know now--a hundred disciples have followed in Maine's footsteps and applied his teaching--how slow is the growth of the human intellect in these matters, with what painful steps man learns to generalise, how convulsively he clings in the infancy of civilisation to the formal, the material, the realistic aspects of things, how late he develops such abstractions as "the State." In all this Maine first showed the way. As Sir Frederick Pollock has admirably put it--
Nowadays it may be said that "all have got the seed," but this is no justification for forgetting who first cleared and sowed the ground. We may till fields that the master left untouched, and one man will bring a be