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distance of completion. Some critics held that the work thus rapidly done might be improved in elegance and accuracy, but its value on the whole has been generally admitted. Stephen was profoundly impressed by the great work achieved by the English in India, and the comparatively slovenly nature of English administration and legislation at home. He began during the home voyage to write a series of letters, expressing these conclusions, which appeared in the ‘Pall Mall Gazette’ in the winter of 1872–3, and were collected as ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,’ a very forcible protest against some popular opinions. The book shows that in philosophy he was a disciple of Mill and the utilitarians, but in the application to political questions rather followed Hobbes, and was in sympathy with Carlyle's approval of strong government. He agreed, too, with Carlyle in retaining much of the old puritan sentiment, while abandoning the dogmas as indefensible. In spite of this he considered himself to be still on the liberal side, and in the summer of 1873 stood for Dundee as a supporter of Mr. Gladstone's government. He was defeated by a large majority, and his want of sympathy for the popular sentiment led him to see that, although differing on many important points, he was less averse to the conservatives. He had been strongly opposed to democracy since the impression made upon him in 1848.
After his return from India he was much employed in attempts to carry out codification in England. He prepared an Evidence Act with the approval of Sir John Duke (afterwards Lord) Coleridge, and a homicide bill with Russell Gurney [q. v.] These, and a bill consolidating the acts relating to the government of India, cost much labour in 1873–4, but never passed into law. He was appointed professor of common law at the inns of court in December 1875, and lectured upon the law of evidence, which led to a ‘digest’ of that law, published in 1876. In 1877 he published a digest of the criminal law, to which he had been led when preparing a new edition of his ‘General View.’ His suggestion that this might be converted into a code was favourably received by government, and he was instructed to prepare a measure, which was in 1878 carefully considered by a commission including himself and three judges. A bill to give effect to the code was dropped on a change of government, but again announced in the Queen's speech in 1882. It was never brought before parliament.
Stephen had been employed in some important cases before the judicial committee of the privy council, though his practice was always irregular. He was a member of a commission upon fugitive slaves (1876), a commission upon extradition (1878), and a copyright commission (1878). When he undertook the criminal code he received a virtual promise of a judgeship, and he was accordingly appointed on the first vacancy (3 Jan. 1879). He had been elected a member of the ‘Metaphysical Society’ on his return from India, and published a few articles which were partly the result of debates in that body upon theological questions. He had by this time entirely abandoned his belief in the orthodox dogmas, though he felt strongly the impracticability of dispensing with the old ‘sanctions.’ Some letters which he wrote to the ‘Times’ in 1877–8 in defence of Lord Lytton's policy in India against Lord Lawrence and others also attracted some notice. Lord Lytton, on the eve of his departure as governor-general (March 1876), had made Stephen's acquaintance; they became exceedingly warm friends, maintained a close correspondence, and Stephen heartily admired his friend's general conduct of Indian affairs. Soon after his return from India he took a house at Anaverna, near Ravensdale in Ireland, where he spent his vacations till near the end of his life, and employed much of his leisure upon literary labours.
On becoming a judge Stephen set himself to work upon the new edition of his ‘General View,’ which gradually developed into the ‘History of the Criminal Law,’ a much larger book, in which very little of the original remains. It was published in 1883, and represents a great amount of original inquiry. The labour superadded to his judicial duties sensibly tried his strength. He turned for relief to an historical inquiry, and his interest in India led him to contemplate an account of Warren Hastings's impeachment. He began, by way of experiment, to write upon the Nuncomar incident, and in 1885 published an investigation which involves a very searching criticism of Macaulay's famous article. The publication was followed by a serious illness (April 1885), which had to be met by careful regimen and by limited indulgence in hard work. He was, however, fully up to his regular work, and in the autumn of 1886 became chairman of a commission to inquire into the ordnance department. A disease which had been slowly developing began to affect his mental powers. Upon hearing that public notice had been taken of supposed failure, he consulted his physician, and by his advice at once resigned in April