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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

An Early English Study Guide (1600)

As finals are nearing an end, the Library and Riesenfeld Center wishes good luck, and a happy holidays, to our students. The year has been a difficult one in many ways, and the pandemic is still with us. None of this has made the study of law easier. Though as the early modern English lawyer William Fulbecke reminds, all things worth doing - and particularly the study of law - are challenging. Fortunately, the going gets easier; Fulbecke writes in A Direction or Preparative to the Study of the Law (1600):

"For though the way were plain, yet to them that know it not, it is hard and difficult. And as the yoke is to the young steer heavy, not because he [ed.: she, he, or any individual!] is not able to bear it, but because he is unacquainted with the carrying of it, so young students [...] are somewhat troubled at the first: yet in continuance of time, by labour and some direction of veterans of the art, they pierce through the thorny fence or bar of these great difficulties..."

Fulbecke has other advice, for example on studying early instead of late, based on astrology and the ancient theory of the humors, which should probably be set aside. But his general encouragement is perhaps not out of place then or now.

Best wishes for a very good end of semester and holidays, and for a happy (and safer, healthier) 2021.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections 

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