Professor Paul Vinogradoff, professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford University, delivered the third of his series of lectures on "The Elements of Law" on the subject of "Self-help," in the Lecture Room of Austin Hall last evening. The next lecture will be given tonight at 8 o'clock on the subject of "Compromise." It will be open to the public.
Professor Vinogradoff said that ancient law was essentially a rule of conduct, which addressed itself to the will and the moral sense of the individual. Legal evolution has been slowly developed from a union of law and right. In Roman times, right often existed without any laws whatever to affect it, and wrong was usually merely the violation of private or individual interest.
Self-help or self-assertion of right, which has not yet entirely disappeared from our systems of law, was a fundamental principle of ancient law. In cases of theft or adultery, an individual was allowed to kill the offender if he could catch him, but if not caught the case had to be referred to trial. Persons who claimed lost property, had the right of taking possession of the property, and justifying their possession afterwards. Ancient law did not depend so much on moral right and claim, as upon the assertion of individual interests.