The Doctor and Student (1518)

Christopher St. Germain


A DOCTOR of divinity, that was of great acquaintance and familiarity with a student in the laws of England, said thus unto him: I have had a great desire of long time to know whereupon the law of England is grounded; but because the most part of the law of England is written in the French tongue, therefore I cannot, through mine own study, attain to the knowledge thereof; for in that tongue I am nothing expert. And because I have found you a faithful friend to me in all my business, therefore I am bold to come to you before any other, to know your mind, what be the very grounds of the law of England, as you think.

Stud. That would ask a great leisure, and it is also above my cunning to do it: nevertheless, that you shall not think that I would wilfully refuse to fulfill your desire, I shall with good will do that in me is to satisfy your mind. But I pray you that you will first show me somewhat of other laws that pertain most to this matter, and that doctors treat of, how laws have been begun; and then I will gladly show you, as I think, what be the grounds of the law of England.

Doct. I will with good will do as you say. Wherefore you shall understand that doctors treat of four laws, the which (it seems to me) pertain most to this matter. The first is the law eternal. The second is the law of nature of reasonable creatures, the which, as I have heard say, is called by them that be learned in the law of England, the law of reason. The third is the law of God. The fourth is the law of man. And therefore I will first treat of the law eternal.