Front Page Titles (by Subject) MARY BATESON 1 - The Collected Papers of Frederic William Maitland, vol. 3
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MARY BATESON 1 - Frederic William Maitland, The Collected Papers of Frederic William Maitland, vol. 3 
The Collected Papers of Frederic William Maitland, ed. H.A.L. Fisher (Cambridge University Press, 1911). 3 Vols. Vol. 3.
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To many residents at Cambridge it still seems hardly credible that Miss Mary Bateson is no longer at work among them. We thought it so certain that twenty years hence her generous enthusiasm for learning, her dogged tenacity of purpose, her cool and sober common sense, would still be serving mankind, that we might well be dazed by the disaster that has befallen us. Yet some things are clear. If we have to think of promise, we can also think with some comfort of performance. For much more we confidently hoped; but we have much that cannot be taken away. I shall not endeavour to tell the whole tale, but will speak only of the last book. The admirably edited Records of the Borough of Leicester and the brilliant papers on the “Laws of Breteuil” had shown that Miss Bateson’s knowledge of the history of our medieval towns was almost, if not quite, unrivalled. Thereupon she was asked to undertake for the Selden Society a sort of digest of the borough custumals, published and unpublished. The first volume appeared in 1904; the second and last appeared this summer, with a long and learned introduction, which is in truth a full and elaborate commentary. When the first volume only had been issued, the Lord Chief Justice told the Selden Society that Miss Bateson knew more about English legal history than nine lawyers out of ten. After seeing the second volume, his lordship may doubt whether his words were quite strong enough. Such a book cannot make its mark in a couple of months, nor yet in a couple of years. It cannot attract “the general reader”; it can be only a book for a few students of history. Moreover, Miss Bateson, a true daughter of Cambridge, felt such scorn for what she would call “gas” that it was difficult to persuade her that a few sentences thrown in for the benefit of the uninitiated are not to be condemned by the severest taste. Of such a work I should not like to speak confidently at short notice. But it was my good fortune to see this book in every stage of its growth: in manuscript, in slip, and in page. Good fortune it was. The hunger and thirst for knowledge, the keen delight in the chase, the good-humoured willingness to admit that the scent was false, the eager desire to get on with the work, the cheerful resolution to go back and begin again, the broad good sense, the unaffected modesty, the imperturbable temper, the gratitude for any little help that was given—all these will remain in my memory, though I cannot paint them for others. As to the book—friendship apart—I do think it good. Given the limits of space and time, which were somewhat narrow, I do not see how it could have been much better. Given those limits, the name of the Englishman who both could and would have done the work does not occur to me. Unless I am much mistaken, that book will “sup late,” but in very good company. I see it many years hence on the same shelf with the History of the Exchequer and the History of Tithes. Neither Thomas Madox nor yet John Selden will resent the presence of Mary Bateson.
Coke, Fourth Institute, p. 25.
This is an Anwartschaft.
The Athenæum, 1906.