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Title: John Stuart Mill; His Life and Works - Twelve Sketches by Herbert Spencer, Henry Fawcett, Frederic Harrison, and Other Distinguished Authors
Author: Spencer, Herbert, 1820-1903 [Contributor], Fawcett, Henry, 1833-1884 [Contributor], Harrison, Frederic, 1831-1923 [Contributor], Bourne, H. R. Fox (Henry Richard Fox), 1837-1909 [Contributor], Thornton, William Thomas, 1813-1880 [Contributor], Trimen, Henry, 1843-1896 [Contributor], Minto, William, 1845-1893 [Contributor], Levy, J. H. (Joseph Hiam), 1838-1913 [Contributor], Hunter, W. A. (William Alexander), 1844-1898 [Contributor], Cairnes, John Elliot, 1823-1875 [Contributor], Fawcett, Millicent Garrett, 1847-1929 [Contributor]
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Twelve Sketches by

Herbert Spencer, Henry Fawcett, Frederic Harrison,
and Other Distinguished Authors

Boston: James R Osgood and Company
(Late Ticknor & Field and Fields Osgood, & Co.)




         H. R. Fox Bourne

         W. T. Thornton

         Herbert Spencer

         Henry Trimen

         W. Minto

         J. H. Levy

         W. A. Hunter

         J. E. Cairnes

         Henry Fawcett

         Millicent Garrett Fawcett

         Frederic Harrison

         W. A. Hunter



John Stuart Mill was born on the 20th of May, 1806. "I am glad," wrote
George Grote to him in 1865, with reference to a forthcoming article
on his "Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy," "to get an
opportunity of saying what I think about your 'System of Logic' and
'Essay on Liberty,' but I am still more glad to get (or perhaps to
_make_) an opportunity of saying something about your father. It has
always rankled in my thoughts that so grand and powerful a mind as his
left behind it such insufficient traces in the estimation of
successors." That regret was natural. The grand and powerful mind of
James Mill left very notable traces, however, in the philosophical
literature of his country, and in the training of the son who was to
carry on his work, and to be the most influential teacher in a new
school of thought and action, by which society is likely to be
revolutionized far more than it has been by any other agency since
the period of Erasmus and Martin Luther. James Mill was something more
than the disciple of Bentham and Ricardo. He was a profound and
original philosopher, whose depth and breadth of study were all the
more remarkable because his thoughts were developed and his knowledge
was acquired mainly by his own exertions. He had been helped out of
the humble life into which he had been born by Sir John Stuart, who
assisted him to attend the lectures of Dugald Stewart and others at
Edinburgh with a view to his becoming a minister in the Church of
Scotland. Soon finding that calling distasteful to him, he had, in or
near the year 1800, settled in London as a journalist, resolved by
ephemeral work to earn enough money to maintain him and his family in
humble ways while he spent his best energies in the more serious
pursuits to which he was devoted. His talents soon made him friends,
and the greatest of these was Jeremy Bentham.

As erroneous opinions have been current as to the relations between
Bentham and James Mill and have lately been repeated in more than one
newspaper, it may be well here to call attention to the contradiction
of them that was published by the son of the latter in "The Edinburgh
Review" for 1844. "Mr. Mill and his family," we there read, "lived
with Mr. Bentham for half of four years at Ford Abbey,"--that is,
between 1814 and 1817,--"and they passed small portions of previous
summers with him at Barrow Green. His last visit to Barrow Green was
of not more than a month's duration, and the previous ones all
together did not extend to more than six months, or seven at most.
The pecuniary benefit which Mr. Mill derived from his intimacy with
Bentham consisted in this,--that he and his family lived with him as
his guests, while he was in the country, periods amounting in all to
about two years and a half. I have no reason to think that his
hospitality was either given or accepted as pecuniary assistance, and
I will add that the obligation was not exclusively on one side.
Bentham was not then, as he was afterwards, surrounded by persons who
courted his society, and were ever ready to volunteer their services,
and, to a man of his secluded habits, it was no little advantage to
have near him such a man as Mr. Mill, to whose advice and aid he
habitually had recourse in all business transactions with the outward
world of a troublesome or irksome nature. Such as the connection was,
it was not of Mr. Mill's seeking." On the same unquestionable
authority we learn, that "Mr. Mill never in his life was in debt, and
his income, whatever it might be, always covered his expenses." It is
clear, that, from near the commencement of the present century, James
Mill and Bentham lived for many years on terms of great intimacy, in
which the poorer man was thoroughly independent, although it suited
the other to make a fair return for the services rendered to him. A
very characteristic letter is extant, dated 1814, in which James Mill
proposes that the relations between him and his "dear friend and
master" shall be to some extent altered, but only in order that their
common objects may be the more fully served. "In reflecting," he says,
"upon the duty which we owe to our principles,--to that system of
important truths of which you have the immortal honor to be the
author, but of which I am a most faithful and fervent disciple, and
hitherto, I have fancied, my master's favorite disciple,--I have
considered that there was nobody at all so likely to be your real
successor as myself. Of talents it would be easy to find many
superior. But, in the first place, I hardly know of anybody who has so
completely taken up the principles, and is so thoroughly of the same
way of thinking with yourself. In the next place, there are very few
who have so much of the necessary previous discipline, my antecedent
years having been wholly occupied in acquiring it. And, in the last
place, I am pretty sure you cannot think of any other person whose
whole life will be devoted to the propagation of the system." "There
was during the last few years of Bentham's life," said James Mill's
son, "less frequency and cordiality of intercourse than in former
years, chiefly because Bentham had acquired newer, and to him more
agreeable intimacies, but Mr. Mill's feeling never altered towards
him, nor did he ever fail, publicly or privately, in giving due honor
to Bentham's name and acknowledgment of the intellectual debt he owed
to him."

Those extracts are made, not only in justice to the memory of James
Mill, but as a help towards understanding the influences by which his
son was surrounded from his earliest years. James Mill was living in a
house at Pentonville when this son was born, and partly because of the
peculiar abilities that the boy displayed from the first, partly
because he could not afford to procure for him elsewhere such teaching
as he was able himself to give him, he took his education entirely
into his own hands. With what interest--even jealous interest, it
would seem--Bentham watched that education, appears from a pleasant
little letter addressed to him by the elder Mill in 1812. "I am not
going to die," he wrote, "notwithstanding your zeal to come in for a
legacy. However, if I were to die any time before this poor boy is a
man, one of the things that would pinch me most sorely would be the
being obliged to leave his mind unmade to the degree of excellence of
which I hope to make it. But another thing is, that the only prospect
which would lessen that pain would be the leaving him in your hands. I
therefore take your offer quite seriously, and stipulate merely that
it shall be made as soon as possible; and then we may perhaps leave
him a successor worthy of both of us." It was a bold hope, but one
destined to be fully realized. At the time of its utterance, the "poor
boy" was barely more than six years old. The intellectual powers of
which he gave such early proof were carefully, but apparently not
excessively, cultivated. Mrs. Grote, in her lately-published "Personal
Life of George Grote," has described him as he appeared in 1817, the
year in which her husband made the acquaintance of his father. "John
Stuart Mill, then a boy of about twelve years old,"--he was really
only eleven,--"was studying, with his father as sole preceptor, under
the paternal roof. Unquestionably forward for his years, and already
possessed of a competent knowledge of Greek and Latin, as well as of
some subordinate though solid attainments, John was, as a boy,
somewhat repressed by the elder Mill, and seldom took any share in the
conversation carried on by the society frequenting the house." It is
perhaps not strange that a boy of eleven, at any rate a boy who was to
become so modest a man, should not take much part in general
conversation; and Mr. Mill himself never, in referring to his father,
led his hearers to suppose that he had, as a child, been in any way
unduly repressed by him. The tender affection with which he always
cherished his father's memory in no way sanctions the belief that he
was at any time subjected to unreasonable discipline. By him his
father was only revered as the best and kindest of teachers.

There was a break in the home teaching in 1820. James Mill, after
bearing bravely with his early difficulties, had acquired so much
renown by his famous "History of India," that, in spite of its adverse
criticisms of the East-India Company, the directors of the Company in
1817 honorably bestowed upon him a post in the India House, where he
steadily and rapidly rose to a position which enabled him to pass the
later years of his life in more comfort than had hitherto been within
his reach. The new employment, however, interfered with his other
occupation as instructor to his boy; and for this reason, as well
probably as for others tending to his advancement, the lad was, in the
summer of 1820, sent to France for a year and a half. For several
months he lived in Paris, in the house of Jean Baptiste Say, the
political economist. The rest of his time was passed in the company of
Sir Samuel Bentham, Jeremy Bentham's brother. Early in 1822, before he
was eighteen, he returned to London, soon to enter the India Office as
a clerk in the department of which his father was chief. In that
office he remained for five and thirty years, acquitting himself with
great ability, and gradually rising to the most responsible position
that could be there held by a subordinate.

But, though he was thus early started in life as a city clerk, his
self-training and his education by his father were by no means
abandoned. The ancient and modern languages, as well as the various
branches of philosophy and philosophical thought in which he was
afterwards to attain such eminence, were studied by him in the early
mornings, under the guidance of his father, before going down to pass
his days in the India Office. During the summer evenings, and on such
holidays as he could get, he began those pedestrian exploits for which
he afterwards became famous, and in which his main pleasure appears to
have consisted in collecting plants and flowers in aid of the
botanical studies that were his favorite pastime, and something more
than a pastime, all through his life. His first printed writings are
said to have been on botany, in the shape of some articles contributed
to a scientific journal while he was still in his teens, and it is
probable, that, could they now be detected, we should find in other
periodicals traces of his work, at nearly if not quite as early a
period in other lines of study. That he worked early and with
wonderful ability in at least one very deep line, appears from the
fact that while he was still only a lad, Jeremy Bentham intrusted to
him the preparation for the press, and the supplementary annotation,
of his "Rationale of Judicial Evidence." That work, for which he was
highly commended by its author, published in 1827, contains the first
publicly acknowledged literary work of John Stuart Mill.

While he was producing that result of laborious study in a special and
intricate subject, his education in all sorts of other ways was
continued. In evidence of the versatility of his pursuits, the veteran
author of a short and ungenerous memoir that was published in "The
Times" of May the 10th contributes one interesting note. "It is within
our personal knowledge," he says, "that he was an extraordinary youth
when, in 1824, he took the lead at the London Debating Club in one of
the most remarkable collections of 'spirits of the age' that ever
congregated for intellectual gladiatorship, he being by two or three
years the junior of the clique. The rivalry was rather in knowledge
and reasoning than in eloquence, mere declamation was discouraged; and
subjects of paramount importance were conscientiously thought out." In
evidence of his more general studies, we may here repeat a few
sentences from an account, by an intimate friend of both these great
men, of the life of Mr. Grote, which was published in our columns two
years ago. "About this time a small society was formed for readings in
philosophical subjects. The meetings took place at Mr. Grote's house
in Threadneedle Street, on certain days from half past eight till ten
in the morning, at which hour the members (all in official employment)
had to repair to their respective avocations. The members were Grote,
John Mill, Roebuck, William Ellice, William Henry Prescott, two
brothers Whitmore, and George John Graham. The mentor of their
studies was the elder Mr. Mill. The meetings were continued for two or
three years. The readings embraced a small manual of logic, by Du
Trieu, recommended by Mr. Mill, and reprinted for the purpose,
Whately's Logic, Hobbes's Logic, and Hartley on Man, in Priestley's
edition. The manner of proceeding was thorough. Each paragraph, on
being read, was commented on by every one in turn, discussed and
rediscussed, to the point of total exhaustion. In 1828 the meetings
ceased; but they were resumed in 1830, upon Mill's 'Analysis of the
Mind,' which was gone over in the same manner." These philosophical
studies were not only of extreme advantage in strengthening and
developing the merits of Mr. Mill and his friends, nearly all of whom
were considerably older than he was, they also served to unite the
friends in close and lasting intimacy of the most refined and
elevating sort. Mr. Grote, his senior by twelve years, was perhaps the
most intimate, as he was certainly the ablest, of all the friends whom
Mr. Mill thus acquired.

Many of these friends were contributors to the original "Westminster
Review," which was started by Bentham in 1824. Bentham himself and the
elder Mill were its chief writers at first; and in 1828, if not
sooner, the younger Mill joined the number. In that year he reviewed
Whately's Logic; and it is probable that in the ensuing year he
contributed numerous other articles. His first literary exploit,
however, which he cared to reproduce in his "Dissertations and
Discussions" was an article that appeared in "The Jurist," in 1833,
entitled "Corporation and Church Property." That essay, in some
respects, curiously anticipated the Irish Church legislation of
nearly forty years later. In the same year he published, in "The
Monthly Repository," a remarkably able and quite a different
production,--"Poetry and its Varieties," showing that in the
department of _belles-lettres_ he could write with nearly as much
vigor and originality as in the philosophical and political
departments of thought to which, ostensibly, he was especially
devoted. Shortly after that he embarked in a bolder literary venture.
Differences having arisen concerning "The Westminster Review," a new
quarterly journal--"The London Review"--was begun by Sir William
Molesworth, with Mr. Mill for editor, in 1835. "The London" was next
year amalgamated with "The Westminster," and then the nominal if not
the actual editorship passed into the hands of Mr. John Robertson. Mr.
Mill continued, however, to be one of its most constant and able
contributors until the Review passed into other hands in 1840. He
aided much to make and maintain its reputation as the leading organ of
bold thought on religious and social as well as political matters.
Besides such remarkable essays as those on Civilization, on Armand
Carrel, on Alfred de Vigny, on Bentham, and on Coleridge, which, with
others, have been republished in his collection of minor writings, he
contributed many of great importance. One on Mr. Tennyson, which was
published in 1835, is especially noteworthy. Others referred more
especially to the politics of the day. From one, which appeared in
1837, reviewing Albany Fonblanque's "England under Seven
Administrations," and speaking generally in high terms of the
politics of "The Examiner," we may extract a few sentences which
define very clearly the political ground taken by Mr. Mill, Mr.
Fonblanque, and those who had then come to be called Philosophical
Radicals. "There are divers schools of Radicals," said Mr. Mill.
"There are the historical Radicals, who demand popular institutions as
the inheritance of Englishmen, transmitted to us from the Saxons or
the barons of Runnymede. There are the metaphysical Radicals, who hold
the principles of democracy, not as means to good government, but as
corollaries from some unreal abstraction,--from 'natural liberty' or
'natural rights.' There are the radicals of occasion and circumstance,
who are radicals because they disapprove the measures of the
government for the time being. There are, lastly, the Radicals of
position, who are Radicals, as somebody said, because they are not
lords. Those whom, in contradistinction to all these, we call
Philosophical Radicals, are those who in politics observe the common
manner of philosophers; that is, who, when they are discussing means,
begin by considering the end, and, when they desire to produce
effects, think of causes. These persons became Radicals because they
saw immense practical evils existing in the government and social
condition of this country, and because the same examination which
showed them the evils showed also that the cause of those evils was
the aristocratic principle in our government,--the subjection of the
many to the control of a comparatively few, who had an interest, or
fancied they had an interest, in perpetuating those evils. These
inquirers looked still farther, and saw, that, in the present
imperfect condition of human nature, nothing better than this
self-preference was to be expected from a dominant few; that the
interests of the many were sure to be in their eyes a secondary
consideration to their own ease or emolument. Perceiving, therefore,
that we are ill-governed, and perceiving that, so long as the
aristocratic principle continued predominant in our government, we
could not expect to be otherwise, these persons became Radicals; and
the motto of their Radicalism was, Enmity to the aristocratical

The period of Mr. Mill's most intimate connection with "The London and
Westminster Review" forms a brilliant episode in the history of
journalism; and his relations, then and afterwards, with other men of
letters and political writers,--some of them as famous as Mr. Carlyle
and Coleridge, Charles Buller and Sir Henry Taylor, Sir William
Molesworth, Sir John Bowring, and Mr. Roebuck,--yield tempting
materials for even the most superficial biography; but we must pass
them by for the present. And here we shall content ourselves with
enumerating, in the order of their publication, those lengthier
writings with which he chiefly occupied his leisure during the next
quarter of a century; though that work was frequently diversified by
important contributions to "The Edinburgh" and "The Westminster
Review," "Fraser's Magazine," and other periodicals. His first great
work was "A System of Logic," the result of many years' previous
study, which appeared in 1843. That completed, he seems immediately to
have paid chief attention to politico-economical questions. In 1844
appeared "Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy,"
which were followed, in 1848, by the "Principles of Political
Economy." After that there was a pause of ten years, though the works
that were issued during the next six years show that he had not been
idle during the interval. In 1857 were published two volumes of the
"Dissertations and Discussions," consisting solely of printed
articles, the famous essay "On Liberty," and the "Thoughts on
Parliamentary Reform." "Considerations on Representative Government"
appeared in 1861, "Utilitarianism," in 1863, "Auguste Comte and
Positivism" and the "Examination of Sir William Hamilton's
Philosophy," in 1865. After that, besides the very welcome "Inaugural
Address" at St. Andrew's in 1867, his only work of importance was "The
Subjection of Women," published in 1869. A fitting conclusion to his
more serious literary labors appeared also in 1869 in his annotated
edition of his father's "Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind."

When we remember how much and what varied knowledge is in those
learned books, it is almost difficult to believe, that, during most of
the years in which he was preparing them, Mr. Mill was also a hard
worker in the India House, passing rapidly, and as the reward only of
his assiduity and talent, from the drudgery of a junior clerk to a
position involving all the responsibility, if not quite all the
dignity, of a secretary of state. One of his most intimate friends,
and the one who knew far more of him in this respect than any other,
has in another column penned some reminiscences of his official life;
but if all the state papers that he wrote, and all the correspondence
that he carried on with Indian officials and the native potentates of
the East, could be explored, more than one volume would have to be
written in supplement to his father's great "History of British

Having retired from the India House in 1858, Mr. Mill went to spend
the winter in Avignon, in the hope of improving the broken health of
the wife to whom he was devotedly attached. He had not been married
many years, but Mrs. Mill, who was the widow of Mr. John Taylor, a
London merchant, had been his friend since 1835, or even earlier.
During more than twenty years he had been aided by her talents, and
encouraged by her sympathy, in all the work he had undertaken, and to
her rare merits he afterwards paid more than one tribute in terms that
have no equal for the intensity of their language, and the depth of
affection contained in them. Mrs. Mill's weak state of health seems to
have hardly repressed her powers of intellect. By her was written the
celebrated essay on "The Enfranchisement of Women" contributed to "The
Westminster Review," and afterwards reprinted in the "Dissertations
and Discussions," with a preface avowing, that by her Mr. Mill had
been greatly assisted in all that he had written for some time
previous. But the assistance was to end now. Mrs. Mill died at Avignon
on the 3d of November, 1858, and over her grave was placed one of the
most pathetic and eloquent epitaphs that have been ever penned. "Her
great and loving heart, her noble soul, her clear, powerful, original,
and comprehensive intellect," it was there written, "made her the
guide and support, the instructor in wisdom, and the example in
goodness, as she was the sole earthly delight, of those who had the
happiness to belong to her. As earnest for all public good as she was
generous and devoted to all who surrounded her, her influence has been
felt in many of the greatest improvements of the age, and will be in
those still to come. Were there even a few hearts and intellects like
hers, this earth would already become the hoped-for heaven."
Henceforth, during the fourteen years and a half that were to elapse
before he should be laid in the same grave, Avignon was the chosen
haunt of Mr. Mill.

Passing much of his time in the modest house that he had bought, that
he might be within sight of his wife's tomb, Mr. Mill was also
frequently in London, whither he came especially to facilitate the new
course of philosophical and political writing on which he entered. He
found relief also in excursions, one of which was taken nearly every
year, in company with his step-daughter, Miss Helen Taylor, into
various parts of Europe. Italy, Switzerland, and many other districts,
were explored, partly on foot, with a keen eye both to the natural
features of the localities, especially in furtherance of those
botanical studies to which Mr. Mill now returned with the ardor of his
youth, and also to their social and political institutions. Perhaps
the longest and most eventful of these excursions was taken in 1862 to
Greece. On this occasion it had been proposed that his old friend, Mr.
Grote, should accompany him. "To go through those scenes, and
especially to go through them in your company," wrote Mr. Grote in
January, "would be to me pre-eminently delightful; but, alas! my
physical condition altogether forbids it. I could not possibly stay
away from London, without the greatest discomfort, for so long a
period as two months. Still less could I endure the fatigue of horse
and foot exercise which an excursion in Greece must inevitably
entail." The journey occupied more than two months; but in the autumn
Mr. Mill was at Avignon; and, returning to London in December, he
spent Christmas week with Mr. Grote at his residence, Barrow
Green,--Bentham's old house, and the one in which Mr. Mill had played
himself when he was a child. "He is in good health and spirits," wrote
Mr. Grote to Sir G.C. Lewis after that visit; "violent against the
South in this American struggle; embracing heartily the extreme
Abolitionist views, and thinking about little else in regard to the
general question."

It was only to be expected that Mr. Mill would take much interest in
the American civil war, and sympathize strongly with the Abolitionist
party. His interest in politics had been keen, and his judgment on
them had been remarkably sound all through life, as his early articles
in "The Morning Chronicle" and "The London and Westminster Review,"
and his later contributions to various periodicals, helped to testify;
but towards the close of his life the interest was perhaps keener, as
the judgment was certainly more mellowed. It was not strange,
therefore, that his admirers among the working classes, and the
advanced radicals of all grades, should have urged him, and that,
after some hesitation, he should have consented, to become a candidate
for Westminster at the general election of 1865. That candidature
will be long remembered as a notable example of the dignified way in
which an honest man, and one who was as much a philosopher in practice
as in theory, can do all that is needful, and avoid all that is
unworthy, in an excited electioneering contest, and submit without
injury to the insults of political opponents and of political
time-servers professing to be of his own way of thinking. The result
of the election was a far greater honor to the electors who chose him
than to the representative whom they chose; though that honor was
greatly tarnished by Mr. Mill's rejection when he offered himself for
re-election three years later.

This is hardly the place in which to review at much length Mr. Mill's
parliamentary career, though it may be briefly referred to in evidence
of the great and almost unlooked-for ability with which he adapted
himself to the requirements of a philosophical politician as distinct
from a political philosopher. His first speech in the House of
Commons, delivered very soon after its assembling, was on the occasion
of the second reading of the Cattle Diseases Bill, on the 14th of
February, 1866, when he supported Mr. Bright in his opposition to the
proposals of Mr. Lowe for compensation to their owners for the
slaughter of such animals as were diseased or likely to spread
infection. His complaint against the bill was succinctly stated in two
sentences, which fairly illustrated the method and basis of all his
arguments upon current politics. "It compensates," he said, "a class
for the results of a calamity which is borne by the whole community.
In justice, the farmers who have not suffered ought to compensate
those who have; but the bill does what it ought not to have done, and
leaves undone what it ought to have done, by not equalizing the
incidence of the burden upon that class, inasmuch as, from the
operation of the local principle adopted, that portion of an
agricultural community who have not suffered at all will not have to
pay at all, and those who have suffered little will have to pay
little; while those who have suffered most will have to pay a great
deal." "An aristocracy," he added, in words that as truly indicate the
way in which he subjected all matters of detail to the test of general
principles of truth and expediency,--"an aristocracy should have the
feelings of an aristocracy; and, inasmuch as they enjoy the highest
honors and advantages, they ought to be willing to bear the first
brunt of the inconveniences and evils which fall on the country
generally. This is the ideal character of an aristocracy: it is the
character with which all privileged classes are accustomed to credit
themselves; though I am not aware of any aristocracy in history that
has fulfilled those requirements."

That, and the later speeches that Mr. Mill delivered on the Cattle
Diseases Bill, at once announced to the House of Commons and the
public, if they needed any such announcement, the temper and spirit in
which he was resolved to execute his legislative functions. The same
spirit and temper appeared in the speech on the Habeas Corpus
Suspension (Ireland) Bill, which he delivered on the 17th of February;
but his full strength as a debater was first manifested during the
discussion on Mr. Gladstone's Reform Bill of 1866, which was brought
on for second reading on the 12th of April. His famous speech on that
occasion, containing the most powerful arguments offered by any
speaker in favor of the measure, and his shorter speech during its
discussion on the 31st of May, need not here be recapitulated. They
were only admirable developments in practical debate of those
principles of political science which he had already enforced in his
published works. The other leading topics handled by Mr. Mill during
the session of 1866 were the expediency of reducing the National Debt,
which he urged on the occasion of Mr. Neate's proposal on the 17th of
April; the Tenure and Improvement of Land (Ireland) Bill, on which he
spoke at length and with force on the 17th of May, then practically
initiating the movement in favor of land-reform, which he partly
helped to enforce in part with regard to Ireland, and for the more
complete adoption of which in England he labored to the last; the
Jamaica outbreak, and the conduct of Governor Eyre, on which he spoke
on the 31st of July; and the electoral disabilities of women, which he
first brought within the range of practical politics by moving, on the
20th of July, for a return of the numbers of householders, and others
who, "fulfilling the conditions of property or rental prescribed by
law as the qualification for the electoral franchise, are excluded
from the franchise by reason of their sex."

In the session of 1867 Mr. Mill took a prominent part in the
discussions on the Metropolitan Poor Bill; and he spoke on various
other topics,--his introduction of the Women's Electoral Disabilities
Removal Bill being in some respects the most notable: but his chief
action was with reference to Mr. Disraeli's Reform Bill, several
clauses of which he criticised and helped to alter in committee.
Though he was as zealous as ever, however, in his attendance to
public business, he made fewer great speeches, being content to set a
wise example to other and less able men in only speaking when he felt
it absolutely necessary to do so, and in generally performing merely
the functions of a "silent member."

In 1868 he was, if not more active, somewhat more prominent. On March
the 6th, on the occasion of Mr. Shaw-Lefevre's motion respecting the
"Alabama Claims," he forcibly expressed his opinions as to the wrong
done by England to the United States during the civil war, and the
need of making adequate reparation; and on the 12th of the same month
he spoke with equal boldness on Mr. Maguire's motion for a committee
to inquire into the state of Ireland, repeating anew and enforcing the
views he had lately put forward in his pamphlet on Ireland, and
considerably aiding by anticipation the passage of Mr. Gladstone's two
great measures of Irish Reform. He took an important part in the
discussion of the Election Petitions and Corrupt Practices Bill; and
among a great number of other measures on which he spoke was the
Married Women's Property Bill of Mr. Shaw-Lefevre.

Soon after that the House of Commons was dissolved, and Mr. Mill's too
brief parliamentary career came to an end. The episode, however, had
to some extent helped to quicken his always keen interest in political
affairs. This was proved, among other ways, by the publication of his
pamphlet on "England and Ireland" in 1868, and of his treatise "On the
Subjection of Women" in 1869, as well as by the especial interest
which he continued to exhibit in two of the most important political
movements of the day,--all the more important because they are yet
almost in their infancy,--the one for the political enfranchisement
of women, the other for a thorough reform of our system of land
tenure. The latest proof of his zeal on the second of these important
points appeared in the address which he delivered at Exeter Hall on
the 18th of last March, and in two articles which he contributed to
"The Examiner" at the commencement of the present year. We may be
permitted to add that it was his intention to use some of the greater
quiet that he expected to enjoy during his stay at Avignon in writing
frequent articles on political affairs for publication in these
columns. He died while his intellectual powers were as fresh as they
had ever been, and when his political wisdom was only ripened by

In this paper we purposely limit ourselves to a concise narrative of
the leading events of Mr. Mill's life, and abstain as far as possible
from any estimate of either the value or the extent of his work in
philosophy, in economics, in politics, or in any other of the
departments of thought and study to which, with such depth and breadth
of mind, he applied himself; but it is impossible for us to lay down
the pen without some slight reference, however inadequate it may be,
to the nobility of his character, and the peculiar grace with which he
exhibited it in all his dealings with his friends and with the whole
community among whom he lived, and for whom he worked with the
self-sacrificing zeal of an apostle. If to labor fearlessly and
ceaselessly for the good of society, and with the completest
self-abnegation that is consistent with healthy individuality, be the
true form of religion, Mr. Mill exhibited such genuine and profound
religion--so permeating his whole life, and so engrossing his every
action--as can hardly be looked for in any other man of this
generation. Great as were his intellectual qualities, they were
dwarfed by his moral excellences. He did not, it is true, aim at any
fanciful ideal, or adopt any fantastic shibboleths. He was only a
utilitarian. He believed in no inspiration but that of experience. He
had no other creed or dogma or gospel than Bentham's axiom,--"The
greatest happiness of the greatest number." But many will think that
herein was the chief of all his claims to the honor of all men, and
the best evidence of his worth. At any rate, he set a notable example
of the way in which a man, making the best use in his power of merely
his own reason and the accumulated reason of those who have gone
before him, wisely exercising the faculties of which he finds himself
possessed, and seeking no guidance or support from invisible beacons
and intangible props, may lead a blameless life, and be one of the
greatest benefactors of his race. No one who had any personal
knowledge of him could fail to discern the singular purity of his
character; and to those who knew him best that purity was most
apparent. He may have blundered and stumbled in his pursuit of truth;
but it was part of his belief that stumbling and blundering are
necessary means towards the finding of truth, and that honesty of
purpose is the only indispensable requisite for the nearest approach
towards truth of which each individual is capable. That belief
rendered him as charitable towards others as he was modest concerning
his own attainments. He never boasted; and he despised no one. The
only things really hateful to him were arrogance and injustice, and
for these he was, to say the least, as willing and eager to find
excuse as could be the most devout utterer of the prayer, "Father,
forgive them, for they know not what they do." We had noted many
instances, coming within our own very limited observation, of his
remarkable, almost unparalleled magnanimity and generosity; but such
details would here be almost out of place, and they who need such will
doubtless before long receive much more convincing proof of his moral

We shall not here dilate on those minor qualities of mind and heart
that made Mr. Mill's society so charming to all who were fortunate
enough to have any share in it; and these, especially in recent years,
were many. When the first burden of his grief at the loss of his wife
had passed,--perhaps partly as a relief from the solitude, save for
one devoted companion, that would otherwise have been now forced upon
him,--he mixed more freely than he had done before in the society of
all whose company could yield him any satisfaction or by whom his
friendship was really valued. His genial and graceful bearing towards
every one who came near him must be within the knowledge of very many
who will read this column; and they will remember, besides his
transparent nobility of character, and the genial ways in which it
exhibited itself, certain intellectual qualities for which he was
remarkable. We here refer, not to his higher abilities as a thinker,
but to such powers of mind as displayed themselves in conversation.
Without any pedantry,--without any sort of intentional notification to
those with whom he conversed that he was the greatest logician,
metaphysician, moralist, and economist of the day,--his speech was
always, even on the most trivial subjects, so clear and incisive, that
it at once betrayed the intellectual vigor of the speaker. Not less
remarkable also than his uniform refinement of thought, and the
deftness with which he at all times expressed it, were the grasp and
keenness of his observation, and the strength of memory with which he
stored up every thing he had ever seen, heard, or read. Nothing
escaped his notice at the time of its occurrence: nothing was
forgotten by him afterwards. His friends often found, to their
astonishment, that he knew far more about any passages in their lives
that he had been made aware of than they could themselves remember;
and, whenever that disclosure was made to them, they must have been
rejoiced to think, that this memory of his, instead of being, as it
might well have been, a dangerous garner of severe judgments and
fairly-grounded prejudices, was a magic mirror, in which their follies
and foibles were hardly at all reflected, and only kindly
reminiscences and generous sympathies found full expression.

But he is dead now. Although the great fruits of his life--a life in
which mind and heart, in which senses and emotions, were singularly
well balanced--are fruits that cannot die, all the tender ties of
friendship, all the strictly personal qualities that so much aided his
work as a teacher of the world, as the foremost leader of his
generation in the search after truth and righteousness, are now
snapped forever. Only four weeks ago he left London for a
three-months' stay in Avignon. Two weeks ago he was in his customary
health. On the 5th of May he was attacked by a virulent form of
erysipelas. On the 8th he died. On the 10th he was buried in the grave
to which he had, through fourteen years, looked forward as a pleasant
resting-place, because during fourteen years there had been in it a
vacant place beside the remains of the wife whom he so fondly loved.




I have undertaken to prepare a sketch of Mr. Mill's official career,
but find, on inquiry, scarcely any thing to add to the few particulars
on the subject which have already found their way into print. Of his
early official associates, all have, with scarcely an exception,
already passed away; and there is no one within reach to whom I can
apply for assistance in verifying or correcting my own impressions.
These are in substance the following.

In the few last decades of its existence, the East-India Company's
establishment, in Leadenhall Street, consisted of three
divisions,--the secretary's, military secretary's, and examiners'
offices,--in the last of which most of the despatches and letters were
composed which were afterwards signed by the directors or the
secretary. Into this division, in the year 1821, the directors,
perceiving an infusion of new blood to be very urgently required,
introduced, as assistant examiners, four outsiders,--Mr. Strachey
(father of the present Sir John and Major-Gen. Richard Strachey),
Thomas Love Peacock (author of "Headlong Hall"), Mr. Harcourt, and
Mr. James Mill; the selection of the last-named being all the more
creditable to them, because, in his "History of British India," he had
animadverted with much severity on some parts of the Company's
administration. Two years afterwards, in 1823, the historian's son,
the illustrious subject of these brief memoirs, then a lad of
seventeen, obtained a clerkship under his father. According to the
ordinary course of things in those days, the newly-appointed junior
would have had nothing to do, except a little abstracting, indexing,
and searching, or pretending to search, into records; but young Mill
was almost immediately set to indite despatches to the governments of
the three Indian Presidencies, on what, in India-House phraseology,
were distinguished as "political" subjects,--subjects, that is, for
the most part growing out of the relations of the said governments
with "native" states or foreign potentates. This continued to be his
business almost to the last. In 1828 he was promoted to be assistant
examiner, and in 1856 he succeeded to the post of chief examiner;
after which his duty consisted rather in supervising what his
assistants had written than in writing himself: but for the three and
twenty years preceding he had had immediate charge of the political
department, and had written almost every "political" despatch of any
importance that conveyed the instructions of the merchant princes of
Leadenhall Street to their pro-consuls in Asia. Of the quality of
these documents, it is sufficient to say, that they were John Mill's;
but, in respect to their quantity, it may be worth mentioning that a
descriptive catalogue of them completely fills a small quarto volume
of between three hundred and four hundred pages, in their author's
handwriting, which now lies before me; also that the share of the
Court of Directors in the correspondence between themselves and the
Indian governments used to average annually about ten huge
vellum-bound volumes, foolscap size, and five or six inches thick, and
that of these volumes two a year, for more than twenty years running,
were exclusively of Mill's composition; this, too, at times, when he
was engaged upon such voluntary work in addition as his "Logic" and
"Political Economy."

In 1857 broke out the Sepoy war, and in the following year the
East-India Company was extinguished in all but the name, its
governmental functions being transferred to the Crown. That most
illustrious of corporations died hard; and with what affectionate
loyalty Mill struggled to avert its fate is evidenced by the famous
Petition to Parliament which he drew up for his old masters, and which
opens with the following effective antithesis: "Your petitioners, at
their own expense, and by the agency of their own civil and military
servants, originally acquired for this country its magnificent empire
in the East. The foundations of this empire were laid by your
petitioners, at that time neither aided nor controlled by Parliament,
at the same period at which a succession of administrations under the
control of Parliament were losing, by their incapacity and rashness,
another great empire on the opposite side of the Atlantic."

I am fortunate enough to be the possessor of the original MS. of this
admirable state paper, which I mention, because I once heard its real
authorship denied in that quarter of all others in which it might have
been supposed to be least likely to be questioned. On one of the last
occasions of the gathering together of the Proprietors of East-India
Stock, I could scarcely believe my ears, when one of the directors,
alluding to the petition, spoke of it as having been written by a
certain other official who was silting by his side, adding, after a
moment's pause, "with the assistance, as he understood, of Mr. Mill,"
likewise present. As soon as the Court broke up, I burst into Mill's
room, boiling over with indignation, and exclaiming, "What an infamous
shame!" and no doubt adding a good deal more that followed in natural
sequence on such an exordium. "What's the matter?" replied Mill as
soon as he could get a word in. "M----[the director] was quite right.
The petition was the joint work of ---- and myself."--"How can you be
so perverse?" I retorted. "You know that I know you wrote every word of
it."--"No," rejoined Mill, "you are mistaken: one whole line on the
second page was put in by----."

In August, 1858, the East-India Company's doom was pronounced by
Parliament. The East-India House was completely re-organized, its very
name being changed into that of the India Office, and a Secretary of
State in Council taking the place of the Court of Directors. But a
change of scarcely secondary importance to many of those immediately
concerned was Mill's retirement on a pension. A few months after he
had left us an attempt was made to bring him back. At that time only
one-half of the Council were nominated by the Crown, the other half
having been elected, and the law prescribing that any vacancy among
these latter should be filled by election on the part of the remaining
elected members. On the first occasion of the kind that occurred,
Mill was immediately proposed; and I had the honor of being
commissioned to sound him on the subject of the intended offer, and to
endeavor to overcome the objections to acceptance which it was feared
he might entertain. I went accordingly to his house at Blackheath, but
had no sooner broached the subject than I saw that my mission was
hopeless. The anguish of his recent bereavement was as yet too fresh.
He sought eagerly for some slight alleviation of despair in hard
literary labor; but to face the outside world was for the present

Here my scanty record must end, unless I may be permitted to
supplement its meagreness by one or two personal--not to say
egotistical--reminiscences. The death of Mr. Mill senior, in 1836, had
occasioned a vacancy at the bottom of the examiner's office, to which
I was appointed through the kindness of Sir James Carnac, then
chairman of the Company, in whose gift it was. Within a few months,
however, I was transferred to a newly-created branch of the
secretary's office; owing to which cause, and perhaps also to a little
(or not a little) mutual shyness, I for some years came so seldom into
contact with Mr. Mill, that, though he of course knew me by sight, we
scarcely ever spoke, and generally passed each other without any mark
of recognition when we happened to meet in or out of doors. Early in
1846, however, I sent him a copy of a book I had just brought out, on
"Over-population." A day or two afterwards he came into my room to
thank me for it; and during the half-hour's conversation that
thereupon ensued, sprang up, full grown at its birth, an intimate
friendship, of which I feel that I am not unduly boasting in declaring
it to have been equally sincere and fervent on both sides. From that
time for the next ten or twelve years, a day seldom passed without, if
I did not go into his room, his coming into mine, often telling me as
he entered, that he had nothing particular to say; but that, having a
few minutes to spare, he thought we might as well have a little talk.
And what talks we have had on such occasions, and on what various
subjects! and not unfrequently, too, when the room was Mill's, Grote,
the historian, would join us, first announcing his advent by a
peculiar and ever-welcome rat-tat with his walking-stick on the door.
I must not dwell longer over these recollections; but there are two
special obligations of my own to Mill which I cannot permit myself to
pass over. When, in 1856, he became examiner, he had made it, as I
have been since assured by the then chairman of the East-India
Company, a condition of his acceptance of the post, that I, whose name
very likely the Chairman had never before heard, should be associated
with him as one of his assistant examiners; and I was placed, in
consequence, in charge of the Public-Works Department. Not long
afterwards, having lapsed into a state of nervous weakness, which for
nearly a year absolutely incapacitated me for mental labor, I should,
but for Mill, have been compelled to retire from the service. From
this, however, he saved me by quietly taking upon himself, and for the
space of twelve months discharging, the whole of my official duties,
in addition to his own. Is it wonderful that such a man, supposed by
those who did not know him to be cold, stern, and dry, should have
been enthusiastically beloved by those who did?

It is little to say, that my own friendship with him was, from first
to last, never once ruffled by difference or misunderstanding of any
kind. Differences of opinion we had in abundance; but my open avowal
of them was always recognized by him as one of the strongest proofs of
respect, and served to cement instead of weakening our attachment.[1]
The nearest approach made throughout our intercourse to any thing of
an unpleasant character was about the time of his retirement from the
India House. Talking over that one day with two or three of my
colleagues, I said it would not do to let Mill go without receiving
some permanently-visible token of our regard. The motion was no sooner
made than it was carried by acclamation. Every member of the
examiners' office--for we jealously insisted on confining the affair
to ourselves--came tendering his subscription, scarcely waiting to be
asked; in half an hour's time some fifty or sixty pounds--I forget the
exact sum--was collected, which in due course was invested in a superb
silver inkstand, designed by our friend, Digby Wyatt, and manufactured
by Messrs. Elkington. Before it was ready, however, an unexpected
trouble arose. In some way or other, Mill had got wind of our
proceeding, and, coming to me in consequence, began almost to upbraid
me as its originator. I had never before seen him so angry. He hated
all such demonstrations, he said, and was quite resolved not to be
made the subject of them. He was sure they were never altogether
genuine or spontaneous; there were always several persons who took
part in them merely because they did not like to refuse; and, in
short, whatever we might do, he would have none of it. In vain I
represented how eagerly everybody, without exception, had come
forward; that we had now gone too far to recede; that, if he would not
take the inkstand, we should be utterly at a loss what to do with it;
and that I myself should be in a specially embarrassing position. Mill
was not to be moved. This was a question of principle, and on
principle he could not give way. There was nothing left, therefore,
but resort to a species of force. I arranged with Messrs. Elkington
that our little testimonial should be taken down to Mr. Mill's house
at Blackheath by one of their men, who, after leaving it with the
servant, should hurry away without waiting for an answer. This plan
succeeded; but I have always suspected, though she never told me so,
that its success was mainly due to Miss Helen Taylor's good offices.
But for her, the inkstand would almost certainly have been returned,
instead of being promoted, as it eventually was, to a place of honor
in her own and her father's drawing-room.

Mine is scarcely just now the mood in which I should have been
naturally disposed to relate anecdotes like this; but, in the
execution of my present task, I have felt bound chiefly to consider
what would be likely to interest the reader.



     [1] I may be permitted here, without Mr. Thornton's
     knowledge, to recall a remark made by Mr. Mill only a few
     weeks ago. We were speaking of Mr. Thornton's recently
     published "Old-fashioned Ethics and Common-Sense
     Metaphysics," when I remarked on Mr. Mill's wide divergence
     from most of the views contained in it. "Yes," he replied,
     "it is pleasant to find _something_ on which to differ from
     Thornton." Mr. Mill's prompt recognition of the importance
     of Mr. Thornton's refutation of the wage-fund theory is only
     one out of numberless instances of his peculiar



To dilate upon Mr. Mill's achievements, and to insist upon the
wideness of his influence over the thought of his time and
consequently over the actions of his time, seems to me scarcely
needful. The facts are sufficiently obvious, and are recognized by all
who know any thing about the progress of opinion during the last half
century. My own estimate of him, intellectually considered, has been
emphatically though briefly given on an occasion of controversy
between us, by expressing my regret at 'having to contend against the
doctrine of one whose agreement I should value more than that of any
other thinker.'

While, however, it is almost superfluous to assert of him that
intellectual height so generally admitted there is more occasion for
drawing attention to a moral elevation that is less recognized partly
because his activities in many directions afforded no occasion for
exhibiting it, and partly because some of its most remarkable
manifestations in conduct are known only to those whose personal
relations with him have called them forth. I feel especially prompted
to say something on this point, because, where better things might
have been expected, there has been, not only a grudging recognition of
intellectual rank, but a marked blindness to those fine traits of
character, which, in the valuation of men, must go for more than
superiority of intelligence.

It might indeed have been supposed, that even those who never enjoyed
the pleasure of personal acquaintance with Mr. Mill would have been
impressed with the nobility of his nature as indicated in his opinions
and deeds. How entirely his public career has been determined by a
pure and strong sympathy for his fellow men, how entirely this
sympathy has subordinated all desires for personal advantage, how
little even the fear of being injured in reputation or position has
deterred him from taking the course which he thought equitable or
generous--ought to be manifest to every antagonist, however bitter. A
generosity that might almost be called romantic was obviously the
feeling prompting sundry of those courses of action which have been
commented upon as errors. And nothing like a true conception of him
can be formed, unless, along with dissent from them, there goes
recognition of the fact that they resulted from the eagerness of a
noble nature impatient to rectify injustice and to further human

It may perhaps be that my own perception of this pervading warmth of
feeling has been sharpened by seeing it exemplified, not in the form
of expressed opinions only, but in the form of private actions, for
Mr. Mill was not one of those, who, to sympathy with their fellow men
in the abstract, join indifference to them in the concrete. There came
from him generous acts that corresponded with his generous sentiments.
I say this, not from second-hand knowledge, but having in mind a
remarkable example known only to myself and a few friends. I have
hesitated whether to give this example, seeing that it has personal
implications. But it affords so clear an insight into Mr. Mill's
character, and shows so much more vividly than any description could
do how fine were the motives swaying his conduct, that I think the
occasion justifies disclosure of it.

Some seven years ago, after bearing as long as was possible the
continued losses entailed on me by the publication of the "System of
Philosophy," I notified to the subscribers that I should be obliged to
cease at the close of the volume then in progress. Shortly after the
issue of this announcement I received from Mr. Mill a letter, in
which, after expressions of regret, and after naming a plan which he
wished to prosecute for re-imbursing me, he went on to say, "In the
next place ... what I propose is, that you should write the next of
your treatises, and that I should guarantee the publisher against
loss; i.e., should engage, after such length of time as may be agreed
on, to make good any deficiency that may occur, not exceeding a given
sum,--that sum being such as the publisher may think sufficient to
secure him." Now, though these arrangements were of kinds that I could
not bring myself to yield to, they none the less profoundly impressed
me with Mr. Mill's nobility of feeling, and his anxiety to further
what he regarded as a beneficial end. Such proposals would have been
remarkable even had there been entire agreement of opinion, but they
were the more remarkable as being made by him under the consciousness
that there existed between us certain fundamental differences, openly
avowed. I had, both directly and by implication, combated that form
of the experiential theory of human knowledge which characterizes Mr.
Mill's philosophy: in upholding Realism, I had opposed in decided ways
those metaphysical systems to which his own Idealism was closely
allied; and we had long carried on a controversy respecting the test
of truth, in which I had similarly attacked Mr. Mill's positions in an
outspoken manner. That, under such circumstances, he should have
volunteered his aid, and urged it upon me, as he did, on the ground
that it would not imply any personal obligation, proved in him a very
exceptional generosity.

Quite recently I have seen afresh illustrated this fine trait,--this
ability to bear with unruffled temper, and without any diminution of
kindly feeling, the publicly-expressed antagonism of a friend. The
last evening I spent at his house was in the company of another
invited guest, who, originally agreeing with him entirely on certain
disputed questions, had some fortnight previously displayed his change
of view,--nay, had publicly criticised some of Mr. Mill's positions in
a very undisguised manner. Evidently, along with his own unswerving
allegiance to truth, there was in Mr. Mill an unusual power of
appreciating in others a like conscientiousness, and so of suppressing
any feeling of irritation produced by difference,--suppressing it, not
in appearance only, but in reality, and that, too, under the most
trying circumstances.

I should say indeed, that Mr. Mill's general characteristic,
emotionally considered, was an unusual predominance of the higher
sentiments,--a predominance which tended, perhaps, both in theory and
practice, to subordinate the lower nature unduly. That rapid advance
of age which has been conspicuous for some years past, and which
doubtless prepared the way for his somewhat premature death, may, I
think, be regarded as the outcome of a theory of life which made
learning and working the occupations too exclusively considered. But
when we ask to what ends he acted out this theory, and in so doing too
little regarded his bodily welfare, we see that even here the excess,
if such we call it, was a noble one. Extreme desire to further human
welfare was that to which he sacrificed himself.




If we would have a just idea of any man's character, we should view it
from as many points, and under as many aspects, as we can. The
side-lights thrown by the lesser occupations of a life are often very
strong, and bring out its less obvious parts into startling
prominence. Much especially is to be learned of character by taking
into consideration the employment of times of leisure or relaxation;
the occupation of such hours being due almost solely to the natural
bent of the individual, without the interfering action of necessity or
expediency. Most men, perhaps especially eminent men, have a
"hobby",--some absorbing object, the pursuit of which forms the most
natural avocation of their mind, and to which they turn with the
certainty of at least satisfaction, if not of exquisite pleasure. The
man who follows any branch of natural science in this way is almost
always especially happy in its prosecution; and his mental powers are
refreshed and invigorated for the more serious and engrossing if less
congenial occupation of his life. Mr. Mill's hobby was practical field
botany; surely in all ways one very well suited to him.

Of the tens of thousands who are acquainted with the philosophical
writings of Mr. Mill, there are probably few beyond the circle of his
personal friends who are aware that he was also an author in a modest
way on botanical subjects, and a keen searcher after wild plants. His
short communications on botany were chiefly if not entirely published
in a monthly magazine called "The Phytologist," edited, from its
commencement in 1841, by the late George Luxford, till his death, in
1854, and afterwards conducted by Mr. A. Irvine of Chelsea, an
intimate friend of Mr. Mill's, till its discontinuance in 1863. In the
early numbers of this periodical especially will be found frequent
notes and short papers on the facts of plant distribution brought to
light by Mr. Mill during his botanical rambles. His excursions were
chiefly in the county of Surrey, and especially in the neighborhood of
Guildford and the beautiful vale of the Sittingbourne, where he had
the satisfaction of being the first to notice several plants of
interest, as _Polygonum dumetorum_, _Isatis tinctoria_, and _Impatiens
fulva_, an American species of balsam, affording a very remarkable
example of complete naturalization in the Wey and other streams
connected with the lower course of the Thames. Mr. Mill says he first
observed this interloper in 1822 at Albury, a date which probably
marks about the commencement of his botanical investigations, if not
that of the first notice of the plant in this country. Mr. Mill's
copious MS lists of observations in Surrey were subsequently forwarded
to the late Mr. Salmon of Godalming, and have been since published
with the large collection of facts made by that botanist in the "Flora
of Surrey," printed under the auspices of the Holmesdale (Reigate)
Natural History Club. Mr. Mill also contributed to the same
scientific magazine some short notes on Hampshire botany, and is
believed to have helped in the compilation of Mr. G.G. Mill's
"Catalogue of the Plants of Great Marlow, Bucks."

The mere recording of isolated facts of this kind of course affords no
scope for any style in composition. It may, however, be thought worth
while to reproduce here the concluding paragraph of a short article on
"Spring Flowers in the South of Europe," as a sample of Mr. Mill's
popular manner, as well as for its own sake as a fine description of a
matchless scene. He is describing the little mountain range of Albano,
beloved of painters, and, after comparing its vernal flora with that
in England, goes on:--

     'If we would ascend the highest member of the mountain group,
     the Monte Cavo, we must make the circuit of the north flank
     of the mountains of Marino, on the edge of the Albano Lake,
     and Rocca di Tassa, a picturesque village in the hollow
     mountain side, from which we climb through woods, abounding
     in _Galanthus nivalis_ and _Corydalis cava_, to that summit
     which was the _arx_ of Jupiter Latialis, and to which the
     thirty Latian cities ascended in solemn procession to offer
     their annual sacrifice. The place is now occupied by a
     convent, under the wall of which I gathered _Orinthogalum
     nutans_; and from its neighborhood I enjoyed a panoramic
     view, surely the most glorious, in its combination of
     natural beauty and grandeur of historical recollections, to
     be found anywhere on earth. The eye ranged from Terracina on
     one side to Veii on the other, and beyond Veii to the hills
     of Sutrium and Nepete, once covered by the Cimmian forests,
     then deemed an impenetrable barrier between the interior of
     Etruria and Rome. Below my feet the Alban mountain, with all
     its forest-covered folds, and in one of them the dark-blue
     Lake of Nemi; that of Albano, I think, was invisible. To the
     north, in the dim distance, the Eternal City, to the west
     the eternal sea, for eastern boundary, the long line of
     Sabine mountains from Soracte past Tibur and away towards
     Proeneste. The range then passed behind the Alban group, but
     re-appeared to the south-east as the mountain crescent of
     Cora and Pometia, enclosing between its horns the Pontine
     marshes, which lay spread out below as far as the sea line,
     extending east and west from Terracina in the bay of Fondi,
     the Volscian Anxur, to the angle of the coast where rises
     suddenly, between the marshes and the sea, the mountain
     promontory of Circeii, celebrated alike in history and in
     fable. Within the space visible from this one point, the
     destinies of the human race were decided. It took the Romans
     nearly five hundred years to vanquish and incorporate the
     warlike tribes who inhabited that narrow tract, but, this
     being accomplished, two hundred more sufficed them to
     complete the conquest of the world.

During the frequent and latterly prolonged residence at Avignon, Mr.
Mill, carrying on his botanical propensities, had become very well
acquainted with the vegetation of the district, and at the time of his
death had collected a mass of notes and observations on the subject.
It is believed to have been his intention to have printed these as the
foundation of a flora of Avignon.

In the slight contributions to the literature of botany made by Mr.
Mill, there is nothing which gives any inkling of the great
intellectual powers of their writer. Though always clear and accurate,
they are merely such notes as any working botanical collector is able
to supply in abundance. Mainly content with the pursuit as an outdoor
occupation, with such an amount of home work as was necessary to
determine the names and affinities of the species, Mr. Mill never
penetrated deeply into the philosophy of botany, so as to take rank
among those who have, like Herbert Spencer, advanced that science by
original work either of experiment or generalization, or have entered
into the battle-field where the great biological questions of the day
are being fought over. The writer of this notice well remembers
meeting, a few years since, the (at that time) parliamentary logician,
with his trousers turned up out of the mud, and armed with the tin
insignia of his craft, busily occupied in the search after a
marsh-loving rarity in a typical spongy wood on the clay to the north
of London.

But however followed, the investigation of nature cannot fail to
influence the mind in the direction of a more just appreciation of the
necessity of system in arrangement, and of the principles which must
regulate all attempts to express notions of system in a
classification. Traces of this are not difficult to find in Mr. Mill's
writings. It may be safely stated, that the chapters on classification
in the "Logic" would not have taken the form they have, had not the
writer been a naturalist as well as a logician. The views expressed so
clearly in these chapters are chiefly founded on the actual needs
experienced by the systematic botanist; and the argument is largely
sustained by references to botanical systems and arrangements. Most
botanists agree with Mr. Mill in his objections to Dr. Whewell's views
of a natural classification by resemblance to "types," instead of in
accordance with well-selected characters; and indeed the whole of
these chapters are well deserving the careful study of naturalists,
notwithstanding that the wonderfully rapid progress in recent years of
new ideas, lying at the very root of all the natural sciences, may be
thought by some to give the whole argument, in spite of its logical
excellence, a somewhat antiquated flavor. How fully Mr. Mill
recognized the great importance of the study of biological
classifications, and the influence such a study must have had on
himself, may be judged from the following quotation:--

     "Although the scientific arrangements of organic nature
     afford as yet the only complete example of the true
     principles of rational classification, whether as to the
     formation of groups or of series, those principles are
     applicable to all cases in which mankind are called upon to
     bring the various parts of any extensive subject into mental
     co-ordination. They are as much to the point when objects
     are to be classed for purposes of art or business as for
     those of science. The proper arrangement, for example, of a
     code of laws, depends on the same scientific conditions as
     the classifications in natural history; nor could there be a
     better preparatory discipline for that important function
     than the study of the principles of a natural arrangement,
     not only in the abstract, but in their actual application to
     the class of phenomena for which they were first elaborated,
     and which are still the best school for learning their use.
     Of this, the great authority on codification, Bentham, was
     perfectly aware; and his early 'Fragment on Government,' the
     admirable introduction to a series of writings unequalled in
     their department, contains clear and just views (as far as
     they go) on the meaning of a natural arrangement, such as
     could scarcely have occurred to any one who lived anterior
     to the age of Linnaeus and Bernard de Jussieu" (_System of
     Logic_, ed. 6, ii., p. 288).




Mr. Mill's achievements as an economist, logician, psychologist, and
politician are known more or less vaguely to all educated men; but his
capacity and his actual work as a critic are comparatively little
regarded. In the three volumes of his collected miscellaneous
writings, very few of the papers are general reviews either of books
or of men; and even these volumes derive their character from the
essays they contain on the severer subjects with which Mr. Mill's name
has been more peculiarly associated. Nobody buys his "Dissertations
and Discussions" for the sake of his theory of poetry, or his essays
on Armand Carrel and Alfred de Vigny, noble though these are in many
ways. His essay on Coleridge is very celebrated; but it deals, not
with Coleridge's place as a poet, but with his place as a
thinker--with Coleridge as the antagonistic power to Bentham in
forming the opinions of the generation now passing away. Still at such
a time as this it is interesting to make some endeavor to estimate the
value of what Mr. Mill has done in the way of criticism. It is at
least worth while to examine whether one who has shown himself
capable of grappling effectively with the driest and most abstruse
problems that vex the human intellect was versatile enough to study
poetry with an understanding heart, and to be alive to the distinctive
powers of individual poets.

It was in his earlier life, when his enthusiasm for knowledge was fresh,
and his active mind, "all as hungry as the sea," was reaching out
eagerly and strenuously to all sorts of food for thought,--literary,
philosophical, and political,--that Mr. Mill set himself, among other
things, to study and theorize upon poetry and the arts generally. He
could hardly have failed to know the most recent efflorescence of
English poetry, living as he did in circles where the varied merits of
the new poets were largely and keenly discussed. He had lived also for
some time in France, and was widely read in French poetry. He had
never passed through the ordinary course of Greek and Latin at school
and college, but he had been taught by his father to read these
languages, and had been accustomed from the first to regard their
literature as literature, and to read their poetry as poetry. These
were probably the main elements of his knowledge of poetry. But it
was not his way to dream or otherwise luxuriate over his favorite
poets for pure enjoyment. Mr. Mill was not a cultivator of art for
art's sake. His was too fervid and militant a soul to lose itself in
serene love and culture of the calmly beautiful. He read poetry for
the most part with earnest, critical eye, striving to account for it,
to connect it with the tendencies of the age, or he read to find
sympathy with his own aspirations after heroic energy. He read De
Vigny and other French poets of his generation, with an eye to their
relations to the convulsed and struggling state of France, and because
they were compelled by their surroundings to take life _au sérieux_,
and to pursue, with all the resources of their art, something
different from beauty in the abstract. Luxurious passive enjoyment or
torpid half-enjoyment must have been a comparatively rare condition of
his finely-strung, excitable, and fervid system. I believe that his
moral earnestness was too imperious to permit much of this. He was
capable indeed of the most passionate admiration of beauty, but even
that feeling seems to have been interpenetrated by a certain militant
apostolic fervor; his love was as the love of a religious soldier for
a patron saint who extends her aid and countenance to him in his wars.
I do not mean to say that his mind was in a perpetual glow: I mean
only that this surrender to impassioned transports was more
characteristic of the man than serene openness to influx of enjoyment.
His "Thoughts on Poetry and its Varieties," while clear and strenuous
as most of his thoughts were, are neither scientifically precise, nor
do they contain any notable new idea not previously expressed by
Coleridge, except perhaps the idea, that emotions are the main links
of association in the poetic mind: still his working out of the
definition of poetry, his distinction between novels and poems, and
between poetry and eloquence, is interesting as throwing light upon
his own poetic susceptibilities. He holds that poetry is the
delineation of the deeper and more secret workings of human emotion.
It is curious to find one who is sometimes assailed as the advocate of
a grovelling philosophy complaining that the chivalrous spirit has
almost disappeared from books of education, that the youth of both
sexes of the educated classes are growing up unromantic. "Catechisms,"
he says, "will be found a poor substitute for the old romances,
whether of chivalry or faery, which, if they did not give a true
picture of actual life, did not give a false one, since they did not
profess to give any, but (what was much better) filled the youthful
imagination with pictures of heroic men, and of what are at least as
much wanted,--heroic women."

If Mr. Mill did not love poetry with a purely disinterested love, but
with an eye to its moral causes and effects, neither did he study
character from mere delight in observing the varieties of mankind.
Armand Carrel the Republican journalist, Alfred de Vigny the Royalist
poet, Coleridge the Conservative, and Bentham the Reformer, are taken
up and expounded, not as striking individuals, but as types of
influences and tendencies. This habit of keeping in view mind in the
abstract, or men in the aggregate, may have been in a large measure a
result of his education by his father; but I am inclined to think that
he was of too ardent and pre-occupied a disposition, perhaps too much
disposed to take favorable views of individuals, to be very sensitive
to differences of character. It should not, however, be forgotten that
in one memorable case he showed remarkable discrimination. Soon after
Mr. Tennyson published his second issue of poems, Mr. Mill reviewed
them in "The Westminster Review" for July, 1835, and, with his usual
earnestness and generosity, applied all his powers to making a just
estimate of the new aspirant. To have reprinted this among his
miscellaneous writings might have seemed rather boastful, as claiming
credit for the first full recognition of a great poet: still it is a
very remarkable review; and one would hope it will not be omitted if
there is to be any further collection of his casual productions. I
shall quote two passages which seem obvious enough now, but which
required true insight, as well as courageous generosity, to write them
in 1835--

     "Of all the capacities of a poet, that which seems to have
     arisen earliest in Mr. Tennyson, and in which he most
     excels, is that of scene-painting in the higher sense of the
     term; not the mere power of producing that rather vapid
     species of composition usually termed descriptive
     poetry,--for there is not in these volumes one passage of
     pure description,--but the power of creating scenery in
     keeping with some state of human feeling, so fitted to it as
     to be the embodied symbol of it, and to summon up the state
     of feeling itself with a force not to be surpassed by any
     thing but reality."

            *       *       *       *       *

     "The poems which we have quoted from Mr. Tennyson prove
     incontestably that he possesses in an eminent degree the
     natural endowment of a poet,--the poetic temperament. And it
     appears clearly, not only from a comparison of the two
     volumes, but of different poems in the same volume, that
     with him the other element of poetic excellence,
     intellectual culture, is advancing both steadily and
     rapidly; that he is not destined, like so many others, to be
     remembered for what he might have done rather than for what
     he did; that he will not remain a poet of mere temperament,
     but is ripening into a true artist.... We predict, that, as
     Mr. Tennyson advances in general spiritual culture, these
     higher aims will become more and more predominant in his
     writings; that he will strive more and more diligently, and,
     even without striving, will be more and more impelled by the
     natural tendencies of an expanding character, towards what
     has been described as the highest object of poetry,--'to
     incorporate the everlasting reason of man in forms visible
     to his sense, and suitable to it.'"

This last sentence might easily be construed into a prediction of "In
Memoriam" and "The Idyls of the King."

If it is asked why Mr. Mill, with all his width of knowledge and
sympathy, has achieved so little of a reputation as a miscellaneous
writer, part of the reason no doubt is, that he sternly repressed his
desultory tendencies, and devoted his powers to special branches of
knowledge, attaining in them a distinction that obscured his other
writings. Another reason is, that, although his style is extremely
clear, he was for popular purposes dangerously familiar with terms
belonging more or less to the schools. He employed these in literary
generalizations, without remembering that they were not equally
familiar to his readers; and thus general readers, like Tom Moore, or
the author of the recent notice in "The Times," who read more for
amusement than instruction, were disposed to consider Mr. Mill's style
"vastly unreadable."




To a savage contemplating a railway train in motion, the engine would
present itself as the master of the situation,--the determining cause
of the motion and direction of the train. It visibly takes the lead,
it looks big and important, and it makes a great noise. Even people a
long way up in the scale of civilization are in the habit of taking
these attributes, perhaps not as the essential ones of leadership, but
at all events as those by which a leader may be recognized. Still that
blustering machine, which puffs and snorts, and drags a vast multitude
in its wake, is moving along a track determined by a man hidden away
from the public gaze. A line of rail lies separated from an adjacent
one, the pointsman moves a handle, and the foaming giant, that would,
it may be, have sped on to his destruction and that of the passive
crew who follow in his rear, is shunted to another line running in a
different direction and to a more desirable goal.

The great intellectual pointsman of our age--the man who has done more
than any other of this generation to give direction to the thought of
his contemporaries--has passed away; and we are left to measure the
loss to humanity by the result of his labors. Mr. Mill's achievements
in both branches of philosophy are such as to give him the foremost
place in either. Whether we regard him as an expounder of the
philosophy of mind or the philosophy of society, he is _facile
princeps_. Still it is his work in mental science which will, in our
opinion, be in future looked upon as his great contribution to the
progress of thought. His work on political economy not only put into
thorough repair the structure raised by Adam Smith, Malthus, and
Ricardo, but raised it at least one story higher. His inestimable
"System of Logic" was a revolution. It hardly needs, of course, to be
said that he owed much to his predecessors,--that he borrowed from
Whewell much of his classification, from Brown the chief lines of his
theory of causation, from Sir John Herschel the main principles of the
inductive methods. Those who think this a disparagement of his work
must have very little conception of the mass of original thought that
still remains to Mr. Mill's credit, the great critical power that
could gather valuable truths from so many discordant sources, and the
wonderful synthetic ability required to weld these and his own
contributions into one organic whole.

When Mr. Mill commenced his labors, the only logic recognized was the
syllogistic. Reasoning consisted solely, according to the then
dominant school, in deducing from general propositions other
propositions less general. It was even asserted confidently, that
nothing more was to be expected,--that an inductive logic was
impossible. This conception of logical science necessitated some
general propositions to start with; and these general propositions
being _ex hypothesi_ incapable of being proved from other
propositions, it followed, that, if they were known to us at all, they
must be original data of consciousness. Here was a perfect paradise of
question begging. The ultimate major premise in every argument being
assumed, it could of course be fashioned according to the particular
conclusion it was called in to prove. Thus an 'artificial ignorance,'
as Locke calls it, was produced, which had the effect of sanctifying
prejudice by recognizing so-called necessities of thought as the only
bases of reasoning. It is true, that outside of the logic of the
schools great advances had been made in the rules of scientific
investigation; but these rules were not only imperfect in themselves,
but their connection with the law of causation was but imperfectly
realized, and their true relation to syllogism hardly dreamt of.

Mr. Mill altered all this. He demonstrated that the general type of
reasoning is neither from generals to particulars, nor from
particulars to generals, but from particulars to particulars. "If from
our experience of John, Thomas, &c., who once were living, but are now
dead, we are entitled to conclude that all human beings are mortal, we
might surely, without any logical inconsequence, have concluded at
once from those instances, that the Duke of Wellington is mortal. The
mortality of John, Thomas, and others is, after all, the whole
evidence we have for the mortality of the Duke of Wellington. Not one
iota is added to the proof by interpolating a general proposition." We
not only may, according to Mr. Mill, reason from some particular
instances to others, but we frequently do so. As, however, the
instances which are sufficient to prove one fresh instance must be
sufficient to prove a general proposition, it is most convenient to
at once infer that general proposition, which then becomes a formula
according to which (but not from which) any number of particular
inferences may be made. The work of deduction is the interpretation of
these formulas, and therefore, strictly speaking, is not inferential
at all. The real inference was accomplished when the universal
proposition was arrived at.

It will easily be seen that this explanation of the deductive process
completely turns the tables on the transcendental school. All
reasoning is shown to be at bottom inductive. Inductions and their
interpretation make up the whole of logic; and to induction
accordingly Mr. Mill devoted his chief attention. For the first time
induction was treated as the _opus magnum_ of logic, and the
fundamental principles of science traced to their inductive origin. It
was this, taken with his theory of the syllogism, which worked the
great change. Both his "System of Logic" and his "Examination of Sir
William Hamilton's Philosophy" are for the most part devoted to
fortifying this position, and demolishing beliefs inconsistent with
it. As a systematic psychologist Mr. Mill has not done so much as
either Professor Bain or Mr. Herbert Spencer. The perfection of his
method, its application, and the uprooting of prejudices which stood
in its way,--this was the task to which Mr. Mill applied himself with
an ability and success rarely matched and never surpassed.

The biggest lion in the path was the doctrine of so-called "necessary
truth." This doctrine was especially obnoxious to him, as it set up a
purely subjective standard of truth, and a standard--as he was easily
able to show--varying according to the psychological history of the
individual. Such thinkers as Dr. Whewell and Mr. Herbert Spencer had
to be met in intellectual combat. Dr. Whewell held, not that the
inconceivability of the contradictory of a proposition is a proof of
its truth co-equal with experience, but that its value transcends
experience. Experience may tell us what _is_; but it is by the
impossibility of conceiving it otherwise that we know it _must be_.
Mr. Herbert Spencer, too, holds that propositions whose negation is
inconceivable have "a higher warrant than any other whatever." It is
through this door that ontological belief was supposed to enter.
"Things in themselves" were to be believed in because we could not
help it. Modern Noumenalists agree that we can know nothing more of
"things in themselves" than their existence, but this they continue to
assert with a vehemence only equalled by its want of meaning.

In his "Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy," Mr. Mill
gives battle to this mode of thought. After reviewing, in an opening
chapter, the various views which have been held respecting the
relativity of human knowledge, and stating his own doctrine, he
proceeds to judge by this standard the philosophy of the absolute and
Sir William Hamilton's relation to it. The argument is really on the
question whether we have or have not an intuition of God, though, as
Mr. Mill says, "the name of God is veiled under two extremely abstract
phrases,--'The Infinite' and 'The Absolute.'" So profound and friendly
a thinker as the late Mr. Grote held this raising of the veil
inexpedient, but he proved, by a mistake he fell into, the necessity
of looking at the matter in the concrete. He acknowledged the force of
Mr. Mill's argument, that "The Infinite" must include "a farrago of
contradictions;" but so also, he said, does the Finite. Now
undoubtedly finite things, taken distributively, have contradictory
attributes, but not as a class. Still less is there any one individual
thing, "The Finite," in which these contradictory attributes inhere.
But it was against a corresponding being, "The Infinite," that Mr.
Mill was arguing. It is this that he calls a "fasciculus of
contradictions," and regarded as the _reductio ad absurdissimum_ of
the transcendental philosophy.

Mr. Mill's religious tendencies may very well be gathered from a
passage in his review of Auguste Comte, a philosopher with whom he
agreed on all points save those which are specially M. Comte's.
"Candid persons of all creeds may be willing to admit, that if a
person has an ideal object, his attachment and sense of duty towards
which are able to control and discipline all his other sentiments and
propensities, and prescribe to him a rule of life, that person has a
religion; and though every one naturally prefers his own religion to
any other, all must admit, that if the object of his attachment, and
of this feeling of duty, is the aggregate of our fellow-creatures,
this religion of the infidel cannot in honesty and conscience be
called an intrinsically bad one. Many indeed may be unable to believe
that this object is capable of gathering round it feelings
sufficiently strong; but this is exactly the point on which a doubt
can hardly remain in an intelligent reader of M. Comte: and we join
with him in contemning, as equally irrational and mean, the conception
of human nature as incapable of giving its love, and devoting its
existence, to any object which cannot afford in exchange an eternity
of personal enjoyment." Never has the libel of humanity involved in
the current theology been more forcibly pointed out, with its constant
appeal to low motives of personal gain, or still lower motives of
personal fear. Never has the religious sentiment which must take the
place of the present awe of the unknown been more clearly indicated.
It is this noble sentiment which shines out from every page of Mr.
Mill's writings and all his relations to his fellow-creatures: the
very birds about his dwelling seemed to recognize it. It is this noble
sentiment which infuses a soul of life into his teachings, and the
enunciation and acting-out of which constitute him, not only the great
philosopher, but also the great prophet of our time.




The two chief characteristics of Mr. Mill's mind are conspicuous in
the field of morals and jurisprudence. He united in an extraordinary
degree an intense delight in thinking for its own sake, with an almost
passionate desire to make his intellectual excursions contribute to
the amelioration of the lot of mankind, especially of the poorer and
suffering part of mankind. And yet he never allowed those high aims to
clash with one another: he did not degrade his intellect to the
sophistical office of finding reasons for a policy arising from mere
emotion, nor did he permit it to run waste in barren speculations,
which might have excited admiration, but never could have done any
good. This is the reason why so many persons have been unable to
understand him as the prophet of utilitarianism. A man of such
exquisite feeling, of such pure conscientiousness, of such
self-denying life, must surely be an advocate of what is called
absolute morality. Utilitarianism is the proper creed of hard
unemotional natures, who do not respond to the more subtle moral
influences. Such is the view natural to those who cannot dissociate
the word "utilitarianism" from the narrow meaning of utility, as
contrasted with the pleasures of art. The infirmity of human
language excuses such errors; for the language in which controversy
is conducted is so colored by sentiment that it may well happen
that two shall agree on the thing, and fight to the death about
the word. We need the support of such reflections when we recall
the history of such a word as "pleasure." To pursue pleasure, say the
anti-utilitarians, is a swinish doctrine. "Yes," replied Mr. Mill, "if
men were swine, and capable only of the pleasures appropriate to that
species of animals." Those who could not answer this argument, and at
the same time cannot divest themselves of the association of pleasure
with the ignoble, took refuge in the charge of inconsistency, and,
finding there was not less but more nobility in Mr. Mill's writing
than their own theory, accused him of abandoning the tradition of his
school. Mahomet would not go to the mountain, and they pleased
themselves with the thought that the mountain had gone to Mahomet.
Such a charge is really tantamount to a confession that popular
antipathy was more easily excited by the word than by the real
doctrine. Nevertheless Mr. Mill did an incalculable service in showing
not less by his whole life, than by his writings, that utilitarianism
takes account of all that is good in man's nature, and includes the
highest emotions, as well as those that are more commonplace. He took
away a certain reproach of narrowness, which was never in the
doctrine, and which was loudly, though perhaps with little reason,
urged against some of its most conspicuous supporters. An important
addition to the theory of morals is also contained in the book on
"Utilitarianism." His analysis of "justice" is one of the happiest
efforts of inductive definition to be found in any book on ethics.
From any point of view, it must be regarded as a valuable addition to
the literature of ethical philosophy.

The somewhat technical subject of jurisprudence was not too much for
Mr. Mill's immense power of assimilation. One of his earliest efforts
was as editor of Bentham's "Rationale of Judicial Evidence." He must,
therefore, at an early period, have been master of the most original
and enlightened theory of judicial evidence that the world has seen.
He lived to see nearly all the important innovations proposed by
Bentham become part and parcel of the law of the land; one of the last
relics of bigotry--the exclusion of honest atheists (and only of such)
from the witness-box--having been removed two or three years ago. Mr.
Mill, in after years, attended Austin's famous lectures on
jurisprudence, taking extensive notes; so that he was able to supply
the matter wanting to complete two important lectures, as they were
printed in the first edition of Austin's works. Among the
"Dissertations and Discussions," is a criticism of Austin's work,
which shows that he was far more than a scholar,--a most competent
judge of his master. He pointed out in Austin's definition of "right"
a real defect. One of the points that Austin elaborated most was a
classification such as might serve for a scientific code of law. Mr.
Mill fully acknowledged the merits of the scheme, but laid his finger
unerringly on its weakest part. His remarks show, that, if he had
followed up the subject with an adequate knowledge of any good system
of law, he would have rivalled or surpassed his achievements in other
departments of knowledge.




The task of fairly estimating the value of Mr. Mill's achievements in
political economy--and indeed the same remark applies to what he has
done in every department of philosophy--is rendered particularly
difficult by a circumstance which constitutes their principal merit.
The character of his intellectual, no less than of his moral nature,
led him to strive to connect his thoughts, whatever was the branch of
knowledge at which he labored, with the previously-existing body of
speculation, to fit them into the same framework, and exhibit them as
parts of the same scheme; so that it might be truly said of him, that
he was at more pains to conceal the originality and independent value
of his contributions to the stock of knowledge than most writers are
to set forth those qualities in their compositions. As a consequence
of this, hasty readers of his works, while recognizing the
comprehensiveness of his mind, have sometimes denied its originality;
and in political economy in particular he has been frequently
represented as little more than an expositor and popularizer of
Ricardo. It cannot be denied that there is a show of truth in this
representation; about as much as there would be in asserting that
Laplace and Herschel were the expositors and popularizers of Newton,
or that Faraday performed a like office for Sir Humphry Davy. In
truth, this is an incident of all progressive science. The cultivators
in each age may, in a sense, be said to be the interpreters and
popularizers of those who have preceded them; and it is in this sense,
and in this sense only, that this part can be attributed to Mill. In
this respect he is to be strongly contrasted with the great majority
of writers on political economy, who, on the strength perhaps of a
verbal correction or an unimportant qualification of a received
doctrine, if not on the score of a pure fallacy, would fain persuade
us that they have achieved a revolution in economic doctrine, and that
the entire science must be rebuilt from its foundation in conformity
with their scheme. This sort of thing has done infinite mischief to
the progress of economic science; and one of Mill's great merits is,
that both by example and by precept he steadily discountenanced it.
His anxiety to affiliate his own speculations to those of his
predecessors is a marked feature in all his philosophical works, and
illustrates at once the modesty and comprehensiveness of his mind.

It is quite true that Mill, as an economist, was largely indebted to
Ricardo; and he has so fully and frequently acknowledged the debt,
that there is some danger of rating the obligation too highly. As he
himself used to put it, Ricardo supplied the backbone of the science;
but it is not less certain that the limbs, the joints, the muscular
developments,--all that renders political economy a complete and
organized body of knowledge,--have been the work of Mill. In Ricardo's
great work, the fundamental doctrines of production, distribution, and
exchange have been laid down, but for the most part in mere outline;
so much so, that superficial students are in general wholly unable to
connect his statement of principles with the facts, as we find them,
of industrial life. Hence we have innumerable "refutations of
Ricardo,"--almost invariably refutations of the writers' own
misconceptions. In Mill's exposition, the connection between
principles and facts becomes clear and intelligible. The conditions
and modes of action are exhibited by which human wants and
desires--the motive powers of industry--come to issue in the actual
phenomena of wealth, and political economy becomes a system of
doctrines susceptible of direct application to human affairs. As an
example, I may refer to Mill's development of Ricardo's doctrine of
foreign trade. In Ricardo's pages, the fundamental principles of that
department of exchange are indeed laid down with a master's hand; but
for the majority of readers they have little relation to the actual
commerce of the world. Turn to Mill, and all becomes clear. Principles
of the most abstract kind are translated into concrete language, and
brought to explain familiar facts; and this result is achieved, not
simply or chiefly by virtue of mere lucidity of exposition, but
through the discovery and exhibition of modifying conditions and links
in the chain of causes overlooked by Ricardo. It was in his "Essays on
Unsettled Questions in Political Economy" that his views upon this
subject were first given to the world,--a work of which M. Cherbuliez
of Geneva speaks as "un travail le plus important et le plus original
dont la science economique se soit enrichie depuis une vingtaine

On some points, however, and these points of supreme importance, the
contributions of Mill to economic science are very much more than
developments--even though we understand that term in its largest
sense--of any previous writer. No one can have studied political
economy in the works of its earlier cultivators without being struck
with the dreariness of the outlook which, in the main, it discloses
for the human race. It seems to have been Ricardo's deliberate
opinion, that a substantial improvement in the condition of the mass
of mankind was impossible. He considered it as the normal state of
things that wages should be at the _minimum_ requisite to support the
laborer in physical health and strength, and to enable him to bring up
a family large enough to supply the wants of the labor-market. A
temporary improvement indeed, as the consequence of expanding commerce
and growing capital, he saw that there might be; but he held that the
force of the principle of population was always powerful enough so to
augment the supply of labor as to bring wages ever again down to the
_minimum_ point. So completely had this belief become a fixed idea in
Ricardo's mind, that he confidently drew from it the consequence, that
in no case could taxation fall on the laborer, since--living, as a
normal state of things, on the lowest possible stipend adequate to
maintain him and his family--he would inevitably, he argued, transfer
the burden to his employer; and a tax nominally on wages would in the
result become invariably a tax upon profits. On this point Mill's
doctrine leads to conclusions directly opposed to Ricardo's, and to
those of most preceding economists. And it will illustrate his
position as a thinker, in relation to them, if we note how this result
was obtained. Mill neither denied the premises nor disputed the logic
of Ricardo's argument: he accepted both; and in particular he
recognized fully the force of the principle of population; but he took
account of a further premise which Ricardo had overlooked, and which,
duly weighed, led to a reversal of Ricardo's conclusion. The _minimum_
of wages, even such as it exists in the case of the worst-paid
laborer, is not the very least sum that human nature can subsist upon:
it is something more than this; in the case of all above the
worst-paid class it is decidedly more. The _minimum_ is, in truth, not
a physical but a moral _minimum_, and as such, is capable of being
altered with the changes in the moral character of those whom it
affects. In a word, each class has a certain standard of comfort below
which it will not consent to live, or at least to multiply,--a
standard, however, not fixed, but liable to modification with the
changing circumstances of society, and which, in the case of a
progressive community, is, in point of fact, constantly rising, as
moral and intellectual influences are brought more and more
effectually to bear on the masses of the people. This was the new
premise brought by Mill to the elucidation of the wages question; and
it sufficed to change the entire aspect of human life regarded from
the point of view of political economy. The practical deductions made
from it were set forth in the celebrated chapter on "The Future of
the Industrial Classes,"--a chapter which it is no exaggeration to say
places a gulf between Mill and all who preceded him, and opens an
entirely new vista to economic speculation.

The doctrine of the science with which Mill's name has been most
prominently associated within the last few years is that which relates
to the economic nature of land, and the consequences to which this
should lead in practical legislation. It is very commonly believed,
that on this point Mill has started aside from the beaten highway of
economic thought, and propounded views wholly at variance with those
generally entertained by orthodox economists. No economist need be
told that this is an entire mistake. In truth, there is no portion of
the economic field in which Mill's originality is less conspicuous
than in that which deals with the land. His assertion of the peculiar
nature of landed property, and again his doctrine as to the "unearned
increment" of value arising from land with the growth of society, are
simply direct deductions from Ricardo's theory of rent, and cannot be
consistently denied by any one who accepts that theory. All that Mill
has done here has been to point the application of principles all but
universally accepted to the practical affairs of life. This is not the
place to consider how far the plan proposed by him for this purpose is
susceptible of practical realization; but it may at least be
confidently stated, that the scientific basis on which his proposal
rests is no strange novelty invented by him, but simply a principle as
fundamental and widely recognized as any within the range of the
science of which it forms a part.

I have just remarked that Mill's originality is less conspicuous in
relation to the economic theory of land than in other problems of
political economy, but the reader must not understand me from this to
say, that he has not very largely contributed to the elucidation of
this topic. He has indeed done so, though not, as is commonly
supposed, by setting aside principles established by his predecessors,
but, as his manner was, while accepting those principles, by
introducing a new premise into the argument. The new premise
introduced in this case was the influence of custom as modifying the
action of competition. The existence of an active competition, on the
one hand between farmers seeking farms, on the other between farming
and other modes of industry as offering inducements to the investment
of capital, is a constant assumption in the reasoning by which Ricardo
arrived at his theory of rent. Granting this assumption, it followed
that farmers as a rule would pay neither higher nor lower rents than
would leave them in possession of the average profits on their capital
current in the country. Mill fully acknowledged the force of this
reasoning, and accepted the conclusion as true wherever the conditions
assumed were realized; but he proceeded to point out, that, in point
of fact, the conditions are not realized over the greater portion of
the world, and, as a consequence, that the rent actually paid by the
cultivators to the owners of the soil by no means, as a general rule,
corresponds with that portion of the produce which Ricardo considered
as properly "rent." The real regulator of actual rent over the greater
part of the habitable globe was, he showed, not competition, but
custom; and he further pointed out that there are countries in which
the actual rent paid by the cultivators is governed neither by the
causes set forth by Ricardo, nor yet by custom, but by a third cause
different from either,--the absolute will of the owners of the soil,
controlled only by the physical exigencies of the cultivator, or by
the fear of his vengeance if disturbed in his holding. The recognition
of this state of things threw an entirely new light over the whole
problem of land-tenure, and plainly furnished grounds for legislative
interference in the contracts between landlords and tenants. Its
application to Ireland was obvious; and Mill himself, as the world
knows, did not hesitate to urge the application with all the energy
and enthusiasm which he invariably threw into every cause that he

In the above remarks, I have attempted to indicate briefly some few of
the salient features in Mill's contributions to the science of
political economy. There is still one more which ought not to be
omitted from even the most meagre summary. Mill was not the first to
treat political economy as a science; but he was the first, if not to
perceive, at least to enforce the lesson, that, just because it is a
science, its conclusions carried with them no obligatory force with
reference to human conduct. As a science, it tells us that certain
modes of action lead to certain results; but it remains for each man
to judge of the value of the results thus brought about, and to decide
whether or not it is worth while to adopt the means necessary for
their attainment. In the writings of the economists who preceded Mill,
it is very generally assumed, that to prove that a certain course of
conduct tends to the most rapid increase of wealth suffices to entail
upon all who accept the argument the obligation of adopting the course
which leads to this result. Mill absolutely repudiated this inference,
and, while accepting the theoretic conclusion, held himself perfectly
free to adopt in practice whatever course he preferred. It was not for
political economy or for any science to say what are the ends most
worthy of being pursued by human beings; the task of science is
complete when it shows us the means by which the ends may be attained;
but it is for each individual man to decide how far the end is
desirable at the cost which its attainment involves. In a word, the
sciences should be our servants, and not our masters. This was a
lesson which Mill was the first to enforce, and by enforcing which he
may be said to have emancipated economists from the thraldom of their
own teaching. It is in no slight degree through the constant
recognition of its truth, that he has been enabled to divest of
repulsiveness even the most abstract speculations, and to impart a
glow of human interest to all that he has touched.




Some time ago, when there was no reason to suppose that we should so
soon have to mourn the loss of the great thinker and of the kind
friend who has just passed away, I had occasion to remark upon the
influence which Mr. Mill had exercised at the universities. I will
quote my words as they stand, because it is difficult to write with
impartiality about one whose recent death we are deploring; and Mr.
Mill would, I am sure, have been the first to say, that it is
certainly not honoring the memory of one who is dead to lavish upon
him praise which would not be bestowed upon him if he were living. I
will therefore repeat my words exactly as they were written two years
since: 'Any one who has resided during the last twenty years at either
of our universities must have noticed that Mr. Mill is the author who
has most powerfully influenced nearly all the young men of the
greatest promise.' In thus referring to the powerful influence
exercised by Mr. Mill's works, I do not wish it to be supposed that
this influence is to be measured by the extent to which his books form
a part of the university _curriculum_. His "Logic" has no doubt
become a standard examination-book at Oxford. At Cambridge the
mathematical and classical triposes still retain their former
_prestige_. The moral science tripos, though increasing in importance,
still attracts a comparatively small number of students, and there is
probably no other examination for which it is necessary to read Mr.
Mill's "Logic" and "Political Economy." This fact affords the most
satisfactory evidence that the influence he has exerted is
spontaneous, and is therefore likely to be lasting in its effects. If
students had been driven to read his books by the necessity which
examinations impose, it is quite possible, that, after the
examination, the books might never be looked at again. A resident,
however, at the university can scarcely fail to be struck with the
fact, that many who perfectly well know that they will never in any
examination be asked to answer a question in logic or political
economy are among the most diligent students of Mr. Mill's books. When
I was an undergraduate, I well remember that most of my friends who
were likely to take high mathematical honors were already so
ultimately acquainted with Mr. Mill's writings, and were so much
imbued with their spirit, that they might have been regarded as his
disciples. Many looked up to him as their teacher; many have since
felt that he then instilled into them principles, which, to a great
extent, have guided their conduct in after life. Any one who is
intimately acquainted with Mr. Mill's writings will readily understand
how it is that they possess such peculiar attractiveness for the class
of readers to whom I am now referring. There is nothing more
characteristic in his writings than generosity and courage. He always
states his opponent's case with the most judicial impartiality. He
never shrinks from the expression of opinion because he thinks it
unpopular; and there is nothing so abhorrent to him as that bigotry
which prevents a man from appreciating what is just and true in the
views of those who differ from him. This toleration, which is so
predominant a feature of his writings, is probably one of the rarest
of all qualities in a controversialist. Those who do not possess it
always produce an impression that they are unfair; and this
impression, once produced, exercises a repelling influence upon the
young. Another cause of the attractiveness of Mr. Mill's writings is
the precision with which his views are expressed, and the systematic
form which is given to his opinions. Confidence is reposed in him as a
guide, because it is found that there is some definite goal to which
he is leading his readers: he does not conduct them they know not
whither, as a traveller who has lost his way in a mist, or a navigator
who is steering his ship without a compass. The influence exercised by
Mr. Mill does not chiefly depend upon the originality of his writings.
He did not make any great discovery which will form an epoch in the
history of human thought; he did not create a new science, or become
the founder of a new system of philosophy. There is perhaps not so
much originality in his "Political Economy" as in Ricardo's; but there
are thousands who never thought of reading Ricardo who were so much
attracted by Mr. Mill's book, that its influence might be traced
throughout the rest of their lives. No doubt one reason of his
attractiveness as a writer, in addition to other circumstances to
which allusion has already been made, is the unusual power he
possessed in applying philosophical principles to the facts of
ordinary life. To those who believe that the influence Mr. Mill has
exercised at the universities has been in the highest degree
beneficial,--to those who think that his books not only afford the
most admirable intellectual training, but also are calculated to
produce a most healthy moral influence,--it may be some consolation,
now that we are deploring his death, to know, that, although he has
passed away, he may still continue to be a teacher and a guide. I
believe he never visited the English universities: it was consequently
entirely through his books that he was known. Not one of those who
were his greatest admirers at Cambridge, when I was an undergraduate,
ever saw him till many years after they had left the University. I
remember that we often used to say, that there was nothing we should
esteem so great a privilege as to spend an hour in Mr. Mill's society.
There is probably no bond of attachment stronger than that which
unites a pupil to one who has attracted him to new intellectual
pursuits, and has awakened in him new interests in life. Some four or
five years after taking my degree, I met Mr. Mill for the first time;
and from that hour an intimate friendship commenced, which I shall
always regard as a peculiarly high privilege to have enjoyed. Intimacy
with Mr. Mill convinced me, that, if he had happened to live at either
of the universities, his personal influence would have been no less
striking than his intellectual influence. Nothing, perhaps, was so
remarkable in his character as his tenderness to the feelings of
others, and the deference with which he listened to those in every
respect inferior to himself. There never was a man who was more
entirely free from that intellectual conceit which breeds disdain.
Nothing is so discouraging and heart-breaking to young people as the
sneer of an intellectual cynic. A sarcasm about an act of youthful
mental enthusiasm not only often casts a fatal chill over the
character, but is resented as an injury never to be forgiven. The most
humble youth would have found in Mr. Mill the warmest and most kindly

It may be said, if Mr. Mill has not become the founder of a new
philosophical school at the universities where must we seek the result
of his influence? I cannot give any thing like a complete reply to
this question now; but any one who has observed the marked change
which has come over the mode of thought in the universities in the
last few years will be able to form some idea of the kind of influence
which has been exercised by Mr. Mill. Speaking generally, he has
obtained a very wide acceptance of the utilitarian doctrines: they
were presented by Bentham in a form so harsh and unattractive as to
produce an almost repelling effect. Mr. Mill, on the contrary, showed
that the utilitarian philosophy might inspire the most active
benevolence and the most generous enthusiasm. This acceptance of
utilitarianism has produced a very striking effect in modifying the
political opinions prevalent in the universities. For many years what
has been known as the liberalism of young Oxford and Cambridge is in
many respects fundamentally different from what is known as liberalism
outside the universities. The liberalism of the universities, as well
as that of the Manchester school, are both popularly described as
advanced but between the two there is in many essentials the widest
possible divergence. What is known as Philosophical Radicalism will
long bear the impression of Mr. Mill's teaching.

It should be particularly remembered, that, avowing himself a liberal,
he never forgot that it is the essence of true liberalism to be
tolerant of opinions from which one differs, and to appreciate the
advantages of branches of learning to which one has not devoted
special attention. It is somewhat rare to find that those who profess
themselves undoubted liberals are prepared to accept a consistent
application of their principles. There is almost sure to be some
region of inquiry which they regard as so dangerous that they regret
that any one should enter upon it. Sometimes it is said that freedom
of thought, though admirable in politics, is mischievous in theology:
some, advancing what they believe to be one step further, express a
general approbation of freedom of thought, but stigmatize
free-thinkers. Again, it may be not infrequently observed that
devotion to some particular study makes men illiberal to other
branches of knowledge. Metaphysicians and physiologists who have never
taken the trouble to master mathematical principles dogmatically
denounce the influence of mathematics. Eminent classics and
mathematicians have too frequently sneered at each other's studies. No
one was ever more free from this kind of bigotry than Mr. Mill, and it
probably constitutes one of the main causes of his influence. Some
years ago I happened to be conversing at Cambridge with three men who
were respectively of great eminence in mathematics, classics, and
physiology. We were discussing the inaugural address which Mr. Mill
had just delivered as rector of the St. Andrew's University. The
mathematician said, that he had never seen the advantages to be
derived from the study of mathematics so justly and so forcibly
described; the same remark was made by the classic about classics, and
by the physiologist about natural science. No more fitting homage can
probably be offered to the memory of one to whom so many of us are
bound by the strongest ties of gratitude and affection, than if,
profiting by his example, we endeavor to remember, that above all
things he was just to his opponents, that he appreciated opinions from
which he differed, and that one of his highest claims to our
admiration was his general sympathy with all branches of knowledge.




Every one must be familiar with the often expressed opinion, that, as
a practical politician, Mr. Mill's career was essentially a failure.
It has been said a thousand times that the principal result of his
brief representation of Westminster was to furnish an additional
proof, if one were wanted, that a philosopher is totally incapable of
exercising any useful influence in the direction of practical
politics. It is proposed briefly to examine this opinion, though it
may, indeed, with truth be urged that the present time is not
calculated to make the examination an impartial one. The inquiry
involves an almost constant reference, either expressed or implied, to
Mr. Mill's personal character and influence, and it is hardly possible
for those who are mourning him as a friend to speak of these
dispassionately. It is perhaps hardly necessary at such a time as this
to ask the indulgence of the reader if this unworthy tribute to the
memory of a great man is colored by personal reverence and gratitude.

When, it is said that Mr. Mill failed as a practical politician,
there are two questions to be asked: "Who says he has failed?" And
"What is it said that he failed in?" Now, it seems that the persons
who are loudest in the assertion of his failure are precisely those to
whom the reforms advocated by Mr. Mill in his writings are
distasteful. They are those who pronounce all schemes of electoral
reform embodying the principle of proportional representation to be
the result of a conspiracy of fools and rogues; they are those who
sneer at the "fanciful rights of women;" they are those who think our
present land tenure eminently calculated to make the rich contented,
and keep the poor in their proper places; they are those who believe
that republicans and atheists ought to be treated like vermin, and
exterminated accordingly; they are those who think that all must be
well with England if her imports and exports are increasing, and that
we are justified in repudiating our foreign engagements, if to
maintain them would have an injurious effect upon trade. The assertion
of failure coming from such persons does not mean that Mr. Mill failed
to promote the practical success of those objects the advocacy of
which forms the chief feature of his political writings. It is rather
a measure of his success in promoting these objects, and of the
disgust with which his success is regarded by those who are opposed to
his political ideas. It was known, or ought to have been known, by
every one who supported Mr. Mill's candidature in 1865, that he was a
powerful advocate of proportional representation, and that he
attributed the very greatest importance to the political, industrial,
and social emancipation of women; he advocated years ago, in his
"Political Economy," the scheme of land tenure reform with which his
name is now practically associated; his essay "On Liberty" left no
doubt as to his opinions upon the value of maintaining freedom of
thought and speech, his article entitled "A Few Words on
Non-intervention" might have warned the partisans of the Manchester
school that he had no sympathy with their views on foreign policy.
There is little doubt that the majority of Mr. Mill's supporters in
1865 did not know what his political opinions were, and that they
voted for him simply on his reputation as a great thinker. A large
number, however, probably supported him, knowing in a general way the
views advocated in his writings, but thinking that he would probably
be like many other politicians, and not allow his practice to be in
the least degree influenced by his theories. Just as radical heirs
apparent are said to lay aside all inconvenient revolutionary opinions
when they come to the throne, it was believed that Mr. Mill in
Parliament would be an entirely different person from Mr. Mill in his
study. It was one thing to write an essay in favor of proportional
representation it was another thing to assist in the insertion of the
principle of proportional representation in the Reform Bill, and to
form a school of practical politicians who took care to insure the
adoption of this principle in the school board elections. It was one
thing to advocate theoretically the claims of women to representation
it was another to introduce the subject into the House of Commons, to
promote an active political organization in its favor, and thus to
convert it, from a philosophical dream, into a question of pressing
and practical importance. It was one thing to advocate freedom of
thought and discussion in all political and religious questions it was
another to speak respectfully of Mr. Odger, and to send Mr. Bradlaugh
a contribution toward the expenses of his candidature for Northampton.
The discovery that Mr. Mill's chief objects in Parliament were the
same as his chief objects out of Parliament branded him at once as an
unpractical man: and his success in promoting these objects
constituted his "failure" as a politician. His fearless disregard of
unpopularity, as manifested in his prosecution, in conjunction with
Mr. P.A. Taylor, of Ex-Governor Eyre, was another proof that he was
entirely unlike the people who call themselves "practical
politicians." His persistency in conducting this prosecution was one
of the main causes of his defeat at the election of 1868.

If to be unpopular because he promoted the practical success of the
opinions his life had been spent in advocating is to have failed, then
Mr. Mill failed. If, however, the success of a politician is to be
measured by the degree in which he is able personally to influence the
course of politics, and attach to himself a school of political
thought, then Mr. Mill, in the best meaning of the words, has
succeeded. If Mr. Mill had died ten years ago, is it probable that his
views on representative reform would have received so much practical
recognition as they have obtained during the last five years? If he
had never entered the House of Commons, would the women's-suffrage
question be where it now is? Before he introduced the subject into the
House of Commons in 1867, it may be said to have had no political
existence in this country. The whole question was held in such
contempt by "practical politicians," that the House would probably
have refused to listen to any member, except Mr. Mill, who advocated
the removal of the political disabilities of women. Mr. Mill was the
one member of Parliament whose high intellectual position enabled him
to raise the question without being laughed down as a fool. To every
one's astonishment, seventy-four members followed Mr. Mill into the
lobby: the most sanguine estimate, previous to the division, of the
number of his supporters had been thirty. Since that time, the
movement in favor of women's suffrage has made rapid and steady
progress. Like all genuine political movements, it has borne fruit in
many measures which are intended to remove the grievances of which
those who advocate the movement complain: among these collateral
results of the agitation for women's suffrage, may be enumerated the
Married Women's Property Act, the Custody of Infants Bill, and the
admission of women to the municipal and educational franchises and to
seats upon school-boards. A large part of the present anxiety to
improve the education of girls and women is also due to the conviction
that the political disabilities of women will not be maintained. In
this question of the general improvement of the position of women, Mr.
Mill's influence can scarcely be over-estimated. All through his life
he regarded it as a question of first-rate importance; and the extent
to which he was able practically to promote it is sufficient in itself
to make his career as a politician a success. A strong proof of the
vitality of the movement, of which he was the principal originator, is
that his death cannot injuriously affect its activity or its prospects
of ultimate success. What he has done for women is final: he gave to
their service the best powers of his mind and the best years of his
life. His death consecrates the gift: it can never lessen its value.

What is true of Mr. Mill's influence on the women's-suffrage question
is true also of the other political movements in which he took an
active interest. He was able in all of these powerfully to influence
the political history of his day in the direction in which he desired
to influence it. If this is failure, failure is worth much more than

Of the influence of Mr. Mill's personal character on those who were
his political associates, it is difficult to speak too warmly. No one
could be with him or work with him without being conscious of
breathing a purer moral atmosphere: he made mean personal ambitions
and rivalries seem despicable and ridiculous, not so much by any thing
that he said directly on the subject, as by contrast with his own
noble, strong, and generous nature. It is almost impossible to imagine
that any one could be so insensible to the high morality of Mr. Mill's
character as to suggest to him any course of conduct that was not
entirely upright and consistent. A year or two ago, however, a story
was told of a gentleman who asked Mr. Mill to stand for an Irish
constituency, and stated that the only opinion it would be necessary
for him to change was the one he had so often expressed against
denominational education. A smile at the man's stupidity, and the
remark, "I should like to have seen Mill's face when he heard this
suggestion," is the almost invariable comment on this story. It is a
very suggestive indication of the impression Mr. Mill's moral
influence made on those who knew him.

An apology is due to the readers of these pages that the task of
speaking of Mr. Mill as a practical politician has not fallen into
more competent hands. No one can be more deeply sensible of my
inability to deal adequately with the subject than I am myself. This
sketch ought to have been written by one who is in every way more
qualified to speak of Mr. Mill's political career than I am.
Unavoidable circumstances, however, prevented his undertaking the
work; and as the time was too short to allow of any being spent in a
search that might have proved fruitless, the honor of writing these
lines has devolved upon me.




The present course of lectures on a special subject has made no
pretension to present the religious aspect of Positivism, and I shall
not venture to intrude on one of its gravest functions the due
commemoration of the dead. But nothing that is spoken here should have
a merely scientific form, nor can I be satisfied until I have tried to
give expression to the feeling which must be foremost in the minds of
all present. It is impossible to forget that it was by Mr. Mill that
Comte was first made known in this country, and that by him first in
this country the great doctrines of positive thought, the supreme
reign of law in the moral and social world, no less than in the
intellectual world, were reduced to system and life. This conception
as a whole has been gradually forming in the minds of all modern
thinkers; but its full scope and force were presented to Englishmen
for the first time by Mr. Mill. The growth of my own mind, and of that
of all those with whom I have been associated, has been simply the
recognition of this truth in all its bearings and force; and it was
in minds saturated with this principle by the teaching of Mr. Mill
that the great phases of English thought have germinated in our day.
In this place it is impossible to forget, that, in introducing to the
English world the principles of Comte, Mr. Mill so clearly and
ardently professed the positive philosophy at that time restricted to
its earlier phase alone. In this place it is impossible, too, to
forget the generous assistance which he extended to Comte, whereby he
was enabled to continue his labors in philosophy, impossible also to
forget the active communion of mind between them, and the large space
which their intercourse occupied in the thoughts and labors of both.
Nor can I, and many present here, forget the many occasions on which
we have been guided by his counsel and supported by his help in many a
practical work in which we have depended on his example and
experience. It is needless to repeat, for it must be present to all
minds, how many and deep are the differences which separate him from
the later doctrines of Comte, and how completely he repudiated
connection with the religious reconstruction of Positivism. We here,
at any rate, shall claim Mr. Mill for Positivism in no other sense
than that in which he claimed it for himself in his own latest
writings. These differences we shall neither exaggerate nor veil. They
stand all written most clearly for all men to weigh and to use. But
naturally we shall point, as one of us has already publicly pointed,
to the cardinal features of agreement, and the vast importance of the
features for which we may claim the whole weight of his authority. Yet
I would not pretend that it is only on this side of his connection
with the founder and principles of Positivism, that we dwell on the
memory of Mr. Mill with admiration and sympathy. We reverence that
unfaltering fearlessness of spirit, that warmth of generous emotion,
that guileless simplicity of nature, which made his life heroic.
Neither insult, failure, nor abandonment could shake his sense of
duty, or touch his gentle and serene fortitude. For us his high
example, his noble philosophic calm, continue to live and to teach.
He, being dead, yet speaketh. And, if his great heart and brain are no
longer amongst us as visible and conscious agencies, his spirit lives
yet in all that he has given to the generation of to-day: the work of
his spirit is not ended, nor the task of his life accomplished; but we
feel that his nature is entering on a new and greater life amongst
us,--one that is entirely spiritual, intellectual, and moral.



     [2] Part of a lecture on "Political Institutions," delivered
     at the Positivist School, May 11.



It is always hazardous to forecast the estimation in which any man
will be held by posterity. In one sense truly we have no right to
anticipate the judgment of the future, sufficient for us to form
opinions satisfactory within the limits of our own generation.
Sometimes, by evil chance, a great name is covered with undeserved
reproach; and it is reserved for a distant future to do it justice.
But such a work as Mr. Carlyle did for Cromwell we may confidently
anticipate will never be required for the name of John Stuart Mill. He
is already enrolled among the first of contemporary thinkers, and from
that list his name will never be erased. The nature of Mr. Mill's work
is such as to make it easy to predict the character of his future
reputation. His is the kind of philosophy that is destined to become
the commonplace of the future. We may anticipate that many of his most
remarkable views will become obsolete in the best sense: they will
become worked up into practice, and embodied in institutions. Indeed,
the place that he will hold will probably be closely resembling that
of the great father of English philosophy,--John Locke. There is
indeed, amid distinguishing differences, a remarkable similarity
between the two men, and the character of their influence on the
world. What Locke was to the liberal movements of the seventeenth
century, Mr. Mill has more than been to the liberal movement of the
nineteenth century. The intellectual powers of the two men had much in
common, and they were exercised upon precisely similar subjects. The
"Essay on the Human Understanding" covered doubtless a field more
purely psychological than the "Logic;" but we must remember that the
"Analysis of the Mind" by the elder Mill had recently carried the
inductive study of mind to an advanced point. If, however, we regard
less the topics on which these two illustrious men wrote, than the
special service rendered by each of them to intellectual progress, we
may not unfittingly compare the work of Locke--the descent from
metaphysics to psychology--to the noble purpose of redeeming logic
from the superstition of the Aristotelians, and exalting it to
something higher than a mere verbal exercise for school-boys. The
attack that Locke opened with such tremendous effect on the _a priori_
school of philosophy was never more ably supported than by the "Logic"
and controversial writings of Mr. Mill.

The remarkable fact in regard to both these great thinkers--these
conquerors in the realms of abstract speculation--is their relation to
politics. Locke was the political philosopher of the Revolution of
1688; Mr. Mill has been the political philosopher of the democracy of
the nineteenth century. The vast space that lies between their
treatises represents a difference, not in the men, but in the times.
Locke found opposed to the common weal an odious theory of arbitrary
and absolute power. It is interesting to remember what were the giants
necessary to be slain in those days. The titles of his first chapters
on "Government" significantly attest the rudimentary condition of
political philosophy in Locke's day. Adam was generally considered to
have had a divine power of government, which was transmitted to a
favored few of his descendants. Accordingly Locke disposes of Adam's
title to sovereignty to whatever origin it may have been ascribed,--to
"creation," "donation," "the subjection of Eve," or "fatherhood."
There is something almost ludicrous in discussing fundamental
questions of government with reference to such scriptural topics; and
it is a striking evidence of the change that has passed over England
since the Revolution, that, whereas Locke's argument looks like a
commentary on the Bible, even the bishops now do not in Parliament
quote the Bible on the question of marriage with a deceased wife's
sister. Nevertheless Locke clearly propounded the great principle,
which, in spite of many errors and much selfishness, has been the
fruitful heritage of the Whig party. "Political power, then, I take to
be a right of making laws with penalties of death, and consequently
all less penalties, for the regulating and preserving of property, and
of employing the force of the community in the execution of such laws,
and in the defence of the commonwealth from foreign injury, _and all
this only for the public good_." Locke also enounced the maxim, that
the state of nature is one of equality. Mr. Mill's special views on
the land question are not without parallel in Locke; for that acute
thinker distinctively laid down that "labor" was the true ground even
of property in land. Still it must be confessed that Locke's political
philosophy is much cruder than Mr. Mill's. His "Essay on Government"
is as the rough work of a boy of genius, the "Representative
Government" a finished work of art of the experienced master. And this
difference corresponds with the rate of political progress. The
English constitution, as we now understand it, was unknown at the
Revolution: it had to be slowly created. Now the great task of the
future is to raise the mass of the people to a higher standard of
political intelligence and material comfort. To that great end no man
has contributed so much as Mr. Mill.

Perhaps the one writing for which above all others Mr. Mill's
disciples will love his memory is his essay "On Liberty." In this
undertaking Mr. Mill followed the noble precedent of Locke, with
greater largeness of view and perfection of work. Locke's four letters
"Concerning Toleration" constitute a splendid manifesto of the
Liberals of the seventeenth century. The principle, that the ends of
political society are life, health, liberty, and immunity from harm,
and not the salvation of souls, has taken nearly two centuries to root
itself in English law, but has long been recognized by all but the
shallowest bigots. And yet Locke spoke of "atheism being a crime,
which, for its madness as well as guilt, ought to shut a man out of
all sober and civil society." Here again, what a stride does the
_Liberty_ make? It is, once more, the difference of the times, rather
than of the men. The same noble and prescient insight into the springs
of national greatness and social progress characterizes the work of
both men, but in what different measures? Again, we must say, the
disciple is greater than the master. Closely bearing on this topic is
the relation of the two men to Christianity. Locke not only wrote to
show the "Reasonableness of Christianity," but paraphrased several of
the books of the New Testament. Mr. Mill has never written one
sentence to give the least encouragement to Christianity. But,
although a contrast appears to exist, there is really none. Locke was
what may be called a Bible Christian. He rejected all theological
systems, and constructed his religious belief in the truly Protestant
way,--with the Bible and his inner consciousness. His creed was the
Bible as conformed to reason; but he never doubted which, in the event
of a conflict, ought to give way. To him the destructive criticism of
biblical scholars and the discoveries of geology had given no
disquietude; and he died with the happy conviction, that, without
abandoning his religious teaching, he could remain faithful to reason.
Mr. Mill inherited a vast controversy, and he had to make a choice
like Locke, he remained faithful only to reason.

Perhaps, it might be urged, this comparison leaves out of account the
very greatest work of Mr. Mill,--his 'Political Economy.' Locke lived
too soon to be an Adam Smith; but, curiously enough, the parallel is
not broken even at this point. In 1691 and again in 1695 he wrote,
"Some considerations of the consequences of the lowering of interest,
and raising the value of money," in which he propounded among other
views, that, "taxes, however contrived, and out of whose hands soever
immediately taken, do, in a country where the great fund is in land
for the most part terminate upon land." There is of course no
comparison between the two men on this head: nevertheless it is
interesting to note in prototype the germs of the great work of Mr.
Mill. It shows the remarkable and by no means accidental similarity
between the men.

The parallel is already too much drawn out, otherwise it would be
worth observing on the characters and lives of these two men. Enough,
however, has been said to show that we may not unreasonably anticipate
for Mr. Mill a future such as has fallen to Locke. His wisdom will be
the commonplace of other times: his theories will be realized in
political institutions; and we may hope and believe the working-class
will rise to such a standard of wealth and culture and political power
as to realize the generous aspirations of one of England's greatest


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