The beginnings of law are everywhere lost in obscurity. Laws of some kind were necessary before historians arose, and the gradual growth of legal customs would in any event have been too gradual to have attracted the attention of historians even if they had then existed.

The original forces behind the early laws may be said to be those of custom and might. In this respect private law in its infancy bears a striking resemblance to the International Law of to-day. With no general tribunal to enforce the principles of this branch of law, its existence at all depends on the fact that nations will generally follow the settled customs governing relations between states. In cases of disputes the stronger nation will force its views upon the weaker. So among primitive people in their private dealings. It was soon appreciated that people could not live together in society without some rules governing their respective rights and liabilities and their dealings one with another. The rules would arise gradually and finally acquire the force of customs. They would be in general followed by the members of the community, but when this was not the case, the enforcement of their observance would generally fall upon the party injured by the breach.