‘An Active, Enterprising Genius’ <sup>1</sup> (1753–58)

Wilfrid Prest

in William Blackstone

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199550296
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720925 | DOI:
 ‘An Active, Enterprising Genius’  1   (1753–58)

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This chapter focuses on Blackstone's increasing involvement in academic administration and politics during the mid-1750s. As assessor or judge of the chancellor's court, legal counsel to colleges and the university, facilitator of the Pomfret gift of classical statuary, and would-be reformer of Oxford University Press, Blackstone's ambition and drive yielded results but also inevitably aroused ill-feeling. While an unpublished poem and other evidence suggest that he may have been contemplating an academic career as professor of history, after the death of Charles Viner in June 1756 his efforts turned to winning the new chair in English law Viner had endowed. Besides publishing An Analysis of the Laws of England, based on his lecture syllabus, Blackstone now organized a spirited campaign to ensure that the new professorship was established on the terms he wanted, and to counter personal attack against himself.

Keywords: academic; politics; Pomfret; reform; printing; poetry; history; Viner; publication

Chapter.  14506 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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