Front Page Titles (by Subject) II.: THE PRESENT TEXT - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume II - The Principles of Political Economy with Some of Their Applications to Social Philosophy (Books I-II)
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II.: THE PRESENT TEXT - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume II - The Principles of Political Economy with Some of Their Applications to Social Philosophy (Books I-II) 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume II - The Principles of Political Economy with Some of Their Applications to Social Philosophy (Books I-II), ed. John M. Robson, introduction by V.W. Bladen (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965).
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THE PRESENT TEXT
there will always be arguments about the “best” text of any work, centring on two main issues: which text represents the author at his best; and which most accurately reproduces what the author wrote. When a book has gone through as many authorial revisions as the Principles has, a consensus of opinion on the first of these issues is hard to achieve. For the reasons stated above and below, and because Mill was not senile when the 7th edition was prepared, I believe it shows him at his best.
With the intention of producing texts which most closely approximate accuracy, literary scholars now, following the lead of Sir Walter Greg and Professor Fredson Bowers, commonly use as a basic text the manuscript or (if it is not known, or in conjunction with it) the earliest edition known to have been supervised by the author. The virtues of this approach need not be presented here, but it should be made clear why it has not been adopted. The method was devised to deal with Elizabethan and other early texts in which, because of printing-house and publishing practices, there is demonstrable evidence of corruption. Seldom did an author see his work through the press for edition after edition, and reprinting almost always took the text further away from the author’s intention.
A different approach is valid for nineteenth-century works such as the Principles. Each edition was revised by Mill himself, who read and altered the proofs carefully; there is no question of substantial corruption in the editions published during his lifetime. The manuscript and 1st edition have validity primarily as a starting point, as an indication of the state of economic thought in 1848, and of Mill’s knowledge of, and attitude towards, economic phenomena and theory at that time. There can surely be few who believe in plenary economic inspiration. Each successive edition reveals more information, as well as changed attitudes, and therefore, considered primarily as a textbook of economics, the 7th edition best represents Mill’s considered judgment, and is, because of the constant re-readings, more reliable than any previous edition. For him, and for the student of political economy from 1871 to the present, this is the best text, and it has been adopted in this edition.
The Principles, however, must now appear in a light different from that of the years immediately following its publication. Both in evidence and analysis, the science of economics has advanced beyond Mill, and its primacy as a textbook cannot be asserted, although, as Dean Bladen argues in his Introduction above, its value purely as an economic text has been under-exploited.
Its importance in other areas, however, has steadily increased. It served as an economic text to several generations of policy framers and law makers, even into the twentieth century, and its influence on them must be recognized. If one is to study the effect of political and economic thought on events, the changes in such thought are of obvious importance. Each edition of the Principles takes on separate value then, as do the changes from edition to edition. Similarly, the way in which events alter theory is shown by a comparison of the various editions. One might examine, for example, the changes in Mill’s expressed opinions about socialism after the French Revolution of 1848, or the effect of Irish experience on his views concerning land tenure. Again, any study in the history of economic and social ideas can benefit from a close study of the changing attitudes revealed by a comparison of the various editions. Here one might look at Mill’s remarks on slavery in the years before and during the American Civil War. And most obviously, the development of Mill’s own thought is demonstrated by such a comparison. For example, his increased attention to co-operative experiments is evident in the revisions of IV, vii.
We have, therefore, while accepting the 7th edition as the best in both senses, incorporated the textual changes found in a complete collation of the seven Library editions of the Principles. Of all editorial practices, the recording of variants is most obviously a matter of diminishing returns. Furthermore, the returns, defying all quantification, do not accrue to one person or group, and are certainly not monetary. There is no clear distinction between the significant and the insignificant, between stylistic orchestration and mere fiddling. Given the exigencies of printing and the frailty of editors, which make it impossible to record all changes, and the justifiable impatience of readers who cannot follow the text through jungles of textual apparatus, some compromise is necessary. The one adopted for this edition is intended to meet the needs of all potential readers, and does not represent a licentious acceptance of particular views (including those of the editors).
In simple statement, the following pages contain all substantive variants amongst the various editions. “Substantive” here means all changes of text except spelling, capitalization, hyphenation, punctuation, demonstrable typographical errors, such necessary alterations as changed footnote references to the Principles itself, and such printing-house concerns as type size, etc. (There are two exceptions—to prove the rule—Mill’s frequent changes between “though” and “although” and between “on” and “upon” are not recorded.)
A glance at any of the heavily revised pages in this edition will reveal the difficulties involved in providing variant readings without at the same time making the text difficult if not impossible to follow. The method adopted, after considerable trial, has these objectives: a text as little interrupted by editorial apparatus as possible; variant readings which allow reconstruction of the earlier texts without separate instructions for each variant; the minimum number of levels of text on each page consistent with accuracy and with the above objectives. The method is, I believe, harder to describe than to apply, and I beg the reader’s indulgence in the following account.
On a typical page, there will be three levels of text: the text of the 7th edition; in slightly smaller type, Mill’s own notes; in smaller type again, notes containing the variant readings. In the text itself, the usual indicators (*, †, etc.) call attention to Mill’s notes, while small italic superscript letters, in alphabetical sequence (beginning anew in each section) call attention to variant readings. These variants are of three kinds: addition of a word or words, substitution of a word or words, deletion of a word or words. Examples to illustrate these three kinds will be drawn from the “Preliminary Remarks.”
Addition of a word or words: see I.7p-p. In the text, the word “power” appears as “ppowerp”; the variant note reads “p-p+65, 71”. Here the plus sign indicates that the word “power” was added; the following numbers (65, 71) indicate the editions in which it appears. The editions are always indicated by the last two numbers of the year of publication, as follows: 48 = 1848 (1st edition), 49 = 1849 (2nd edition), 52 = 1852 (3rd edition), 57 = 1857 (4th edition), 62 = 1862 (5th edition), 65 = 1865 (6th edition), 71 = 1871 (7th edition). The manuscript is indicated by MS. (This indicator does not appear in variants after Book III, Chapter vi, where the manuscript ends.) If the variant occurs within a quotation, and the earlier version (i.e., that in the variant note) is the reading of the source from which Mill is quoting, the word “Source” precedes the manuscript and edition indicators in the variant note. If the reading in the text, as opposed to that in the variant note, is the same as that of the source, no indicator is needed. If the text varies from the source, but not amongst editions, there is no variant note; the variant will, however, appear in Appendix I.
Placing the example above (I.7p-p) in context, then, the interpretation is that from the manuscript through the 5th edition, the reading is “grinding by water instead of by hand”; in the 6th edition (65) this is altered to “grinding by water power instead of by hand”, and the reading of the 6th edition is retained (as is clear in the text) in the 7th edition (71).
Before going on to the second kind of variant, it should be noted that in all cases, any added editorial information, except “Source,” “MS,” the edition indicators, and page references, is in italics. Also, in the case of long added or substituted passages, the second enclosing superscript may be found on the next page, or even several pages, after the first; when necessary, the superscript notation in the footnote will give the page number on which the variant passage concludes (see, e.g., I.81l-l84).
Substitution of a word or words: see I.5e-e. In the text the word “promoting” appears as “epromotinge”; the variant note reads “e-eMS, 48, 49, 52, 57, 62 favouring”. Here the word following the edition indicators is that for which “promoting” was substituted; again applying the same rules and putting the variant in context, the interpretation is that from the manuscript through the 5th edition the reading is “concurred in favouring it”; in the 6th edition this was altered to “concurred in promoting it”, and the reading of the 6th edition was retained (as is clear in the text) in the 7th edition.
Deletion of a word or words: see I.5f. In the text, a single superscript f appears centred between “absurdity” and “seemed”; the variant note reads “fMS, 48, 49 must have”. Here the words following the edition indicators are those deleted; applying the same rules and putting the variant in context, the interpretation is that the manuscript (MS), 1st edition (48), and 2nd edition (49) read “absurdity must have seemed”; the words “must have” were deleted in the 3rd edition and the reading of the 3rd edition was retained through all subsequent editions.
Variants within variants: see I.10a-a. Often, of course, Mill altered a passage more than once. In this case the text reads “aamong most savagesa”; the variant note reads “a-aMS even in the most savage state] 48, 49 in most savage states”. The different readings are given in chronological order, with a square bracket separating them, and the interpretation is that in the manuscript the reading is “exists even in the most savage state”; in the 1st and 2nd editions the reading is “exists in most savage states”; and the final reading is found in all editions from the 3rd through the 7th. In longer variants of this sort, it seems unnecessary to repeat the whole passage, and so such variant notes as those at I.7n-n and I.21m-m appear. In the first of these the note reads “n-nMS want, answers no purpose whatsoever:] 48, 49 as MS . . . purpose:”—the interpretation is that the 1st and 2nd editions have the same reading as the manuscript up to and including the word “purpose” and end in the same way (i.e., with a colon); in other words, “whatsoever” is found in the manuscript but not in the 1st and 2nd editions. At I.21m-m the variant note reads “m-mMS determined by laws as rigid, & as independent of human control, as those of Production itself] 48, 49 as MS . . . rigid as those . . . as MS”—the interpretation is, similarly, that the passage “, & as independent of human control,” which appears in the manuscript, is not in the 1st and 2nd editions.
Variants in Mill’s footnotes. To avoid four levels of text on the page, a different method has been used to indicate changes in the notes supplied by Mill. An example will be seen at I.37n, where the footnote reads in part “. . . According to these definitions [49 this distinction], the . . . .” Here a simple substitution of “these definitions” for “this distinction” took place in the 3rd edition. Often, to allow for accurate placing of the variant, the words before and/or after the altered passage are given (see the other variants in the same note).
Dates of footnotes. Here the practice (borrowed from Ashley’s edition, but applied more rigorously) is to place immediately after the footnote indicator, in square brackets, the figure indicating the edition in which the note first appeared. In the last cited example, for instance, the beginning of the note reads “* The . . .”, indicating that the note was added in the 2nd edition. If no such figure appears, the note is in the first version (manuscript or 1st edition) and in all subsequent editions. If a note was deleted, it will appear in the variant notes at the bottom of the page, with suitable indication (see, for example, I.27b). If a note was lengthened in a subsequent edition, the appropriate date is given, again in square brackets, before the added passage (see, for example, I.174n, where the original MS note was added to in the 1st edition).
Punctuation and spelling. In general, changes in punctuation and spelling (including capitalization and hyphenation) are ignored. Those changes which occur as part of a substantive variant are included in that variant, and the superscript letters in the text are placed exactly with reference to punctuation. Changes within variants are ignored, however, so that if a reference is, say, to MS, 48, 49 the punctuation and spelling derive from the 2nd edition, the last cited. In a few cases changes in capitalization and punctuation (especially terminal punctuation) reveal at least a change in emphasis, and these are noted as normal variants. Changes from or to italic type are noted.
Prefaces. After the Preface to the 1st edition, the additional prefatory passages have been added in chronological order (as in Ashley’s edition).
Other textual liberties. The typographical errors in the 7th edition have been silently corrected.34 Mill’s section titles in the Table of Contents have been introduced, in square brackets and italics, after each section number. (The wording has been slightly altered in a few cases for the sake of brevity and clarity.) The volumes are divided between Books II and III, instead of between Chapters vi and vii of Book III, and the Appendix to Volume I has been moved to the end of Book II, to which it has reference. Mill occasionally uses square brackets in his footnotes; these have been altered to round brackets to avoid confusion with editorial information. Mill’s footnotes referring to sources have been completed and corrected, with all added information being placed in square brackets. Also in Mill’s footnotes, the page references to other parts of the Principles have been altered to apply to the present edition. A few alterations in printing style have been made: for example, small capitals for proper names have been replaced by lower case in a few places; the form of tables has been altered; and periods have been removed after section titles. The running heads and the style of chapter headings, etc., have been altered when necessary or desirable.
[34 ]Typographical errors in earlier editions are ignored. It should be noted that no correction has been made in such matters as French accents unless there is authority in the earlier editions or the MS. The errors which have been corrected are (with the reading of the 7th edition first, followed by the corrected reading in square brackets):