Eulogy for W. L. Morison
In 1970, fresh from law school and a one year stint in New Guinea as a tutor, I became Bill's research assistant. Thus began my true academic education. It was a rare privilege to work with someone, who was and still is, the most outstanding intellectual and scholar I ever met.
Bill had an international reputation as a scholar and writer. He was admired for his ability to illuminate other's work, to penetrate their messages, locate them in the body of knowledge on a subject and renew their relevance to contemporary society. This is especially true of his work on Austin and his writing on the work of Eugene Rostow, Former Dean of Yale Law School. Rostow wrote to Bill in 1985:
"Your article gives me immense pleasure not only because it is yours - though there is no legal philosopher whose approving criticism could mean more - but because you take the philosophical foundations of my work seriously, and treat it as a whole, devised from a set of propositions you make coherent and consistent."
The test of the enduring quality of writing is whether one can return to it long after its publication and continue to find meaning, relevance and illumination. Extracts from the text The System of Law and Courts Governing New South Wales, 2nd ed 1984 have most recently been used in teaching Legal Method and Research in Jordan in February this year. Its importance lies in the ability to distil a myriad of information into broader conceptions, to see the grand order of things, to put detailed information in a framework of reference that illuminates our understanding. It brings together his qualities as historian, philosopher and lawyer.
Bill's love of books and reading had a pleasurable outlet in his membership of the Board of Sydney University of Press. He especially enjoyed the cream cakes at afternoon tea and was the driving force in the publication of The Fifth Sparrow, a novel about D. H. Lawrence. He took immense pleasure in crafting wickedly funny little ditties for student evenings at the Colleges - I only regret that I did not keep some of them.
To Bill, whose friendship and support spanned thirty years, I salute you and grieve at your passing.
Professor and Chair, School of Law,
University of Western Sydney, Nepean
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