Henry James Sumner Maine

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Henry Sumner Maine

Sir Henry James Sumner Maine (15 August 18223 February 1888) was a British comparative jurist and historian.


  • The movement of the progressive societies has hitherto been a movement from Status to Contract.
    • ‘Ancient Law’ (1861) ch. 5.
  • So great is the ascendancy of the Law of Actions in the infancy of Courts of Justice, that substantive law has at first the look of being gradually secreted in the interstices of procedure; and the early lawyer can only see the law through the envelope of its technical forms.
    • ‘Dissertations on Early Law and Custom’ (1883) ch. 11.
  • Except the blind forces of Nature, nothing moves in this world which is not Greek in its origin.
    • ‘Village Communities’ (3rd ed., 1876) p. 238.

Quotes about Maine[edit]

  • We want to help to better the conditions for our own people. We want to see our people raised, not into a society of State ownership, but into a society in which, increasingly, the individual may become an owner. There is a very famous sentence of Sir Henry Maine's, in which he said that the progress of our civilisation had been of recent centuries a progress on the part of mankind from status to contract. Socialism would bring him back from contract to status.
    • Stanley Baldwin, speech to the Junior Imperial League (3 May 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 225
  • Intellectually he was a giant; I have hardly ever known anyone who gave me such an impression of the power and grasp of his mind. Like Mr. Gladstone, he would sometimes, when he was talking to me in my room, get interested in his subject, and, with great emphasis, and in an unnecessarily loud voice, deliver a speech which, if it had been taken down, would have been an appreciable addition to the sum of human thought. In Council he rarely spoke, but when he did so, always with the same thunderous voice and commanding air, he invariably convinced everybody and carried his point. His knowledge, his sagacity, his insight were wonderful, and they were by no means confined to questions of law.
  • Maine has always spoken to me in strong dislike of the acts of Modern Liberals & I believe he was to have stood as a moderate Conservative at Cambridge. I take him to be of the same politics as many of the Liberals of thirty years ago, who are now Conservative. I believe he writes for the St James Gazette & he has written four articles against Democracy in the Quarterly which have attracted a great deal of attention.
    • Lord Salisbury to R. A. Cross (2 July 1885), quoted in Michael Bentley, Lord Salisbury's World: Conservative Environments in Late-Victorian Britain (2001), p. 130. The four articles were published as Popular Government (1885)

External links[edit]

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