Pièce 103 - Letter from Sir Henry Maine to Henry Sidgwick

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Add. MS c/94/103

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Letter from Sir Henry Maine to Henry Sidgwick

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  • 8 Dec 1886 (Production)

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Refers to having asked Sidgwick 'the other day' about the possibility of discussing a matter concerning himself [Maine], and declares that he has decided to write to him on the subject. Explains that at the funeral of the late Master of Trinity College [William Hepworth Thompson] he asked Vernon Harcourt whether he was going to lecture that term, and that Harcourt replied that 'he should very probably lecture in November; but that, if he did not, he should certainly resign.' November, he observes, is now over and Harcourt has not returned, so that he doubts 'but that he will resign at the end of the year.' He has decided to attempt to succeed Harcourt [as Whewell Professor of International Law], and to abandon his seat on the Indian Council. Acknowledges that this course of action 'will involve much sacrifice of income', but he has long felt that sooner or later he must make his choice between his Cambridge and his [ ] duties. With regard to International Law, claims that he has paid a good deal of attention to it, and used to lecture on it at the Middle Temple. Refers to his work on Ancient Law, and states that some propositions of his on the subject 'found their way into [his work] and have been generally accepted by modern writers.' Reports that since he returned from India, the Foreign Office offered him their Law Undersecretaryship, and that he was 'communicated with from Cambridge...when the Whewell Professorship was first filled up.' Acknowledges that some, who remember that he resigned a Cambridge professorship thirty years before, might think him too old to apply for the position. Mentions that Harcourt's deputy might also be intending to put himself forward. Claims that when he first decided to consult Sidgwick, he was not award that he was an elector, but he has made up his mind that this is not likely to affect his opinion one way or the other. Announces his intention to call on Saturday afternoon; states that he is returning to Cambridge the following evening. Acknowledges that Sidgwick may wish to speak to somebody else on the matter. Says that he has no objection to that, but asks him to try to keep what he may say 'treated as confidential'.

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