The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

II. Historians, Biographers and Political Orators

§ 18. Sir Henry Maine

Of later English historical scholars who have taken a conspicuous part in examining the foundations of medieval political and social life, without confining themselves to this field of research and exposition, our mention must be of the briefest. The writings of Sir Henry Maine belong to legal and political, rather than to historical, literature, and his great reputation as a philosophical jurist, due, in the first instance, to his work entitled Ancient Law and strengthened by his legislative services as legal member of the council of India, rose to its height when, after his return home, he successively held two important professorial chairs—of jurisprudence and of international law. His lectures entitled Village Communities in the East and West (1871) developed, with a breadth and luminousness peculiar to the author and on a comparative basis largely supplied by his knowledge of India in especial, the conclusions of Maurer and Nasse. A second course, entitled The Early History of Institutions (1875), applied the same method to a still more extensive field of research. His lectures on international law, which entered into the question of arbitration as a preventive of war, Maine, unfortunately, did not live to see through the press. His method was a remarkably attractive one; but he lacked the time, and, perhaps, the inclination, for the closer investigation required for a historical treatment of certain of his subjects.