Item of the Day: Coke’s Institutes of the Lawes of England (1633)

Full Title:

The First Part of the Institutes of The Lawes of England: or A Commentary upon Littleton, not the name of a Lawyer only, but of the Law it selfe. Authore EDW. COKE Milite. The third Edition, corrected.

Written by Sir Edward Coke. A marvelous example of seventeenth-century typesetting and engraving. Plate two is “The true portraiture of Judge Littleton the famous English Lawyer.” Printed in London by M.F.I.H. and R.Y. Assignes of I. More Esquire, 1633.

From the Preface:

I shall desire, That the learned Reader will not conceiue any opinion against any part of this painfull and large Volume, vntill hee shall haue aduisedly read ouer the whole, and diligently searched out and wellconsidered of the seuerall Authorities, Proofes, and Reasons which wee haue cited and set downe for warrant and confirmation of our opinions thorow out this whole worke.

Mine aduice to the Student is, That before hee reade any part of our Commentaries upon any Section, that first he reade againe and againe our Author himselfe in that Section, and doe his best endeuours, first of himselfe, and them by conference with others, (which is the life of Study) to vnderstand it, and then to reade our Commentarie thereupon, and no more at any one time, than he is able with delight to beare away, and after to meditate thereon, which is the life of reading. But of this Argument wee haue for the better direction of our Student in his Study, spoken in our Epistle to our first Booke of Reports.

And albeit the Reader shall not at any one day (doe what he can) reach to the meaning of our Author, or of our Commentaries, yet let him no way discourage himselfe, but proceed; for on some other day, in some other place, that doubt will bee cleared. Our Labours herein are drawne out to this great Volume, for that our Authour is twice repeated, once in French and againe in English.


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Filed under 1630's, Legal, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt

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