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William BlackstoneLaw and Letters in the Eighteenth Century$
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Wilfrid Prest

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199550296

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199550296.001.0001

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‘Useful and Agreeable’ (1770–80)

‘Useful and Agreeable’ (1770–80)

(p.276) Chapter 13 ‘Useful and Agreeable’ (1770–80)
William Blackstone

Wilfrid Prest (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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

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