Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 35.djvu/351

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sided, however, frequently in the college, and was warmly welcomed as a useful and eminent member of university society. He was twice invited to stand for the university in the conservative interest, but on both occasions declined. He resigned his Oxford professorship in the following year. A book published in 1883, ‘Dissertations on Early Law and Custom,’ contained the last product of his Oxford lecturing, with considerable modifications, and concluded the series begun by ‘Ancient Law.’

In 1885 he published ‘Popular Government,’ four essays which had previously appeared in the ‘Quarterly Review.’ It was an attempt to apply the historical method to political institutions. It has perhaps been given to no man to attain to a purely philosophical attitude in regard to contemporary politics, and although Maine preserved the tone of calm perspicacity, democrats naturally regarded his ostensible impartiality as a mask for distrust of popular impulses. John (Viscount) Morley and E. L. Godkin, of the New York ‘Nation,’ were among his critics, and he replied to the last (in 1886) in the ‘Nineteenth Century.’ The book is at least a very acute and noteworthy criticism of some of the tenets of believers in the virtues of democracy. Maine frequently contributed in later years to the ‘St. James's Gazette,’ and sympathised with its anti-Jacobin principles.

In 1887 Maine succeeded Sir William Harcourt as Whewell professor of international law at Cambridge. The founder had laid down the condition that the professor should suggest measures tending towards the extinction of war. Maine had written a book on international law before his departure for India, but the manuscript had been lost. He now lectured upon the growth of the conception of international law, upon some points of law which had been recently discussed, and upon the possibility of introducing a system of arbitration. The lectures were not revised for press by the author, and represent a fragment of a larger scheme. They were edited after his death by Mr. Frederic Harrison and Sir Frederick Pollock. Maine's health, never strong, had gradually declined. In the winter he went to Cannes, and died there on 3 Feb. 1888, the immediate cause of his death being apoplexy.

Maine left a widow and two sons, the eldest of whom, Charles, was clerk of assize on the South Wales circuit, and died soon after his father. A portrait of Maine by Mr. Lowes Dickinson is at Trinity Hall (an engraving is prefixed to ‘Memoir’), and an unsatisfactory medallion by Sir Edgar Boehm was placed in Westminster Abbey.

Maine received many honours. He declined offers of the chief justiceship of Bengal, of the permanent under-secretaryships at the home and the foreign office, and of the principal clerkship of the House of Commons. Among honorary distinctions he was made a member of the American Academy in 1866, of the Dutch Institute about 1876, of the Accademia dei Lincei in 1877, of the Madrid Academy in 1878, of the Royal Irish Academy in 1882, of the Washington Anthropological Society in 1883, and of the Juridical Society of Moscow in 1884. He became corresponding member of the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques in 1881, and foreign member, in place of Emerson, in 1883. He was a fellow of the Royal Society, and was elected an honorary fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge, in 1887.

The delicacy of Maine's constitution must be remembered in all estimates of his career. It disqualified him from taking a part in the rougher warfare of life. He often appeared to be rather a spectator than an actor in affairs, and a certain reserve was the natural guard of an acute sensibility. To casual observers he might appear as somewhat cold and sarcastic, but closer friends recognised both the sweetness of his temper and the tenderness of his nature. His refinement of understanding made him alive to the weak side of many popular opinions, and he neither shared nor encouraged any unqualified enthusiasm. His inability for drudgery shows itself by one weakness of his books, the almost complete absence of any reference to authorities. He extracted the pith of a large book, it is said, as rapidly as another man could read one hundred pages, and the singular accuracy of his judgments was often admitted by the most thorough students; but he gave his conclusions without producing, or perhaps remembering, the evidence upon which they rested. It is a proof of the astonishing quickness, as well as of the clearness and concentration of his intellect, that, in spite of physical feebleness, he did so much work of such high qualities. He succeeded conspicuously in everything that he undertook. He was among the ablest journalists of his day, though his works in that department, except a few reprinted articles, are inevitably forgotten. He took a very important part in Indian legislation, and his experience of actual business gave much value to his later writings. But full appreciation of such official work is necessarily confined to colleagues, and undoubtedly Maine's chief claim to general remembrance rests upon the ‘Ancient Law’ and succeeding works in a similar vein. They were among the first examples of the appli-