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Legal Quotations

Reason is the life of the law; nay, the common law itself is nothing else but reason…. The law, which is perfection of reason.
First Institute.
Sir Edward Coke

Ignorance of the law excuses no man; not that all men know the law, but because ’t is an excuse every man will plead, and no man can tell how to refute him.
Table Talk. Law.
John Selden

Let us consider the reason of the case. For nothing is law that is not reason.
Coggs.
Sir John Powell

A lawyer without history or literature is a mechanic, a mere working mason; if he possesses some knowledge of these, he may venture to call himself an architect.
Guy Mannering. Chap. Xxxvii.
Sir Walter Scott

The law: It has honored us; may we honor it.
Toast at the Charleston Bar Dinner, May 10, 1847. Vol. ii. p. 394.
Daniel Webster

I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effectual as their strict construction.
From the Inaugural Address, March 4, 1869.
Ulysses S. Grant

There is a written and an unwritten law. The one by which we regulate our constitutions in our cities is the written law; that which arises from custom is the unwritten law.
Plato. li.
Diogenes Laërtius

The brain may devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o’er a cold decree.
The Merchant of Venice. ACT I Scene 2.
William Shakespeare

The law is reason unaffected by desire.
III.1287a32
Aristotle

Even when laws have been written down, they ought not always to remain unaltered.
II.1269a9
Aristotle

Law is order, and good law is good order.
VII.1326a29
Aristotle

Justice delayed is justice denied.
Attributed to William Gladstone

Rigorous law is often rigorous injustice.
Heautontimoroumenos. Act iv. Sc. 5, 48. (796.)
Terence

The law is the last result of human wisdom acting upon human experience for the benefit of the public.
Johnsoniana. Piozzi, 58.
Samuel Johnson

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.
Benjamin Franklin

Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour … If at my convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?
Jane Eyre
Charlotte Bronte

The law is the public conscience.
Leviathan.
Thomas Hobbes

Every new time will give its law.
The New Lawyer’s Wit and Wisdom.
Maxim Gorky

The law should be the point at which savagery ended because civilization stood in its path.
Mistress of the Art of Death.
Ariana Franklin

Law intends indeed to do service to human life, but it is not able when men do not choose to accept her services; for it is only in those who are obedient to her that she displays her special virtue.
Fragments.
Epictetus

Law without justice is a wound without a cure.
Proverbs.
William Scott Downey

The final test of civilization of a people is the respect they have for law.
Thoughts.
Lewis F. Korns

He who dethrones the idea of law, bids chaos welcome in its stead.
Thoughts.
Horace Mann

Law is the rudder of the ship of state.
Keystones of Thought.
Austin O’Malley

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Letter from Birmingham Jail.
Martin Luther King, Jr.