Chapter

‘Useful and Agreeable’ (1770–80)

Wilfrid Prest

in William Blackstone

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199550296
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720925 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199550296.003.0013
 ‘Useful and Agreeable’ (1770–80)

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Blackstone evidently presented a somewhat forbidding countenance, both in and out of court, especially in his later years. But while neither gregarious nor sociable, he maintained a number of close life-long friendships, and was plainly devoted to his wife, and a conscientious parent. At Wallingford, he continued to support St Peter's Church, commissioning architectural input from Robert Taylor; he also indulged his bibliographical, antiquarian, and literary interests, supplying numerous critical notes on Shakespeare's plays to Edmund Malone and George Steevens. Jeremy Bentham's fierce attack on the Commentaries provoked no direct reply, other than a postscript to the 1778 edition. Blackstone's last years were instead taken up with his judicial duties and his efforts to promote legislation establishing purpose-built gaols as an alternative penal sanction to transportation and capital punishment, which bore fruit in the Penitentiary Act of 1779.

Keywords: private life; domestic life; friendships; biography; Jeremy Bentham; Edmund Malone; George Steevens; law reform

Chapter.  12156 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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