Little thorough critical attention has been paid to William Blackstone's experiment in legal poetry, 'The Lawyer's Farewell to His Muse', published in 1755 in the fourth volume of Robert Dodsley's Collection of Poems. This article argues that the poem demonstrates Blackstone's
early commitment to a programme of academic enquiry that (on the one hand) boldly asserts the structure and symmetry of English law, and that (on the other) is predicated on a notion of accessibility, a determination to reclaim legal knowledge to public understanding. It may thus be read as
an intellectual manifesto for Blackstone's innovative programme of lectures on English law, and for Commentaries on the Laws of England itself. Consideration of the poem offers a rare glimpse of the field of scholarly excitement within which a monumental, necessarily sober piece of
Enlightenment scholarship originates, and provides a perspective on Blackstone's magnum opus which is liberated from the contexts of Jeremy Bentham's critique.
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