Posted by Zia Shah
Scott published Through Spain in 1886, based on his experiences there. He demonstrated his growing interest in that country and culture in his scholarly work The History of the Moorish Empire in Europe, which remains in print. He followed that in 1910 with his translation of early medieval Spanish law The Visigothic Code. Other pieces of Scott’s scholarship were not published until after his death in 1929. In 1931 the American Bar Association published his Las Siete Partidas, an English translation of the law code ordered by Alfonso X of Castile, which also is still in print. and in 1932 his executors published Scott’s The Civil Law—the first English translation of the entire Corpus Juris Civilis.
Unfortunately, Scott did not base his translation of the Corpus Juris Civilis on the best available Latin versions, and his work was severely criticized. The noted English legal historian W. W. Buckland, wrote that Scott “…had at his disposal an adequate latinity and has produced a version written in an English which can be read with pleasure. But much more than that was needed, and the work cannot be said to satisfy these further requirements.” Buckland went on to say of some errors he noted: “These and many others like them would have disappeared if Mr. Scott had survived to see his work through the press…” But there were more fundamental problems with Scott’s translation. Another commentator pointed out that while Scott had a good command of classical literary Latin, he was an amateur, operating on his own and that, moreover, “He did not use Mommsen’s great critical edition of the Digest…limiting the usefulness of the translation…[and that] [a]lthough Scott’s work was published in 1932, it shows no knowledge of any of the impressive achievements of Roman law scholarship made since the middle of the nineteenth century.” Ironically, at the same time Scott was creating his solo translation, Fred H. Blume also was working by himself to translate Codex Justinianus and the Novellae Constitutiones, two parts of the same compilation ordered by Justinian I, Eastern Roman Emperor.
In his will, Scott left his 8,000 volume library and a large sum of money to endow a library at the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia. This is now the Scott Memorial Library at Thomas Jefferson University.