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Page:Harvard Law Review Volume 1.djvu/140

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“TRUSTS.”

Ⅰ.

PRACTISING lawyers in so progressive a country as America are continually met with new devices, with new legal situations, with want of remedies, for which neither the text-books nor their legal education afford them precedent or direct advice; and their law schools, to which they would naturally look for relief, forgetting perhaps too easily that law—at least, American law—is a science that is always becoming, never being, overlook the present in their study of the past. Like an exuberant vine, first twining for support upon the rocks of practice and precedent, it then separates, overthrows, and, lastly, scatters them into new heaps whose equilibrium is more stably adjusted to the needs of a growing democracy. It seems that the pages of this Review are a happy ground where those who are battling in fields of practice may meet others still clear-minded with the quiet wisdom of theory; nor should the law-student hear without interest those questions which newly vex the active bar, though it may be years ere they are cut short by statute, or come to authoritative decision, and thence broaden down to text-books, and become an orthodox part of the science of the law.

We have heard much of the dangers of corporations in late years; but, while our publicists had hardly whetted their swords to meet this question, we are confronted with a new monster a thousand times more terrible. Every student knows how corporations have grown from a monastic institution to the predominance they now occupy in the business world; but American ingenuity has invented a legal machine which may swallow a hundred corporations or a hundred thousand individuals; and then, with all the corporate irresponsibility, their united power be stored, like a dynamo, in portable compass, and wielded by one or two men. Not even amenable to the restraints of corporation law, these “trusts” may realize the Satanic ambition,—infinite and irresponsible power free of check or conscience. Corporations are bad enough; it is one of the defects of the historical growth of law that the conditions which attend the birth of a legal idea so infinitely differ from those that make possible its greatest