The opinions of Sir William Jones produced great effects both in the East and in the West.
One result which followed from them I must pass by with notice very unequal to its practical importance.
This volume is drawn from a number of his courses and deals with a range of topics as religion and the law, the Salic law, feudal property and the classification of property. This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. of lectures, delivered by the Author while he had the honour of holding the Corpus Professorship of Jurisprudence in the University of Oxford, have been already published with the titles ‘Village-Communities in the East and West,’ and ‘The Early History of Institutions.’ The substance of the present volume was originally contained in lectures which formed part of various other courses given by him at Oxford; but in some cases the form has been materially altered.
For Manu, though it contains a good deal of law, is essentially a book of ritual, of priestly duty and religious observance; and to this combination of law with religion the whole family of Hindu writings, to which the book of Manu belongs, owe some remarkable characteristics on which I am desirous of dwelling.
It is not at the same time to be supposed that the combination is peculiar to the Hindus.
Yet the meagre extant fragments of the Twelve Tables of Rome contain rules which are plainly religious or ritualistic:— We are told by Cicero (‘De Legibus,’ 2, 25, 64) that several of these rules contained in the Tenth of the Roman Tables were taken from Greek originals.
He attributes the Greek rules to Solon, and explains that they limited the costliness of the ancient ritual of funerals.
There is no system of recorded law, literally from China to Peru, which, when it first emerges into notice, is not seen to be entangled with religious ritual and observance.
The law of the Romans has been thought to be that in which the civil and Pontifical jurisprudence were earliest and most completely disentangled.