Front Page Titles (by Subject) Appendix E: Browning's Pauline (1833) - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume I - Autobiography and Literary Essays
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Appendix E: Browning’s Pauline (1833) - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume I - Autobiography and Literary Essays 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume I - Autobiography and Literary Essays, ed. John M. Robson and Jack Stillinger, introduction by Lord Robbins (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981).
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Browning’s Pauline (1833)
pencilled MS comments in Mill’s hand on blank leaves bound into the back of the copy of Browning’s Pauline (London: Saunders and Otley, 1833) in the Forster Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum (Press mark 48.D.46).
For comment, see the Introduction, pp. xxxiii-xxxiv above
With considerable poetic powers, this writer seems to me possessed with a more intense and morbid self-consciousness than I ever knew in any sane human being. I should think it a sincere confession, though of a most unloveable state, if the “Pauline” were not evidently a mere phantom. All about her is full of inconsistency—he neither loves her nor fancies he loves her, yet insists upon talking love to her—if she existed and loved him, he treats her most ungenerously and unfeelingly. All his aspirings and yearnings and regrets point to other things, never to her—then, he pays her off towards the end by a piece of flummery, amounting to the modest request that she will love him and live with him and give herself up to him without his loving her, moyennant quoi he will think her and call her everything that is handsome, and he promises her that she shall find it mighty pleasant. Then he leaves off by saying he knows he shall have changed his mind by tomorrow, and despise “these intents which seem so fair” but that having been “thus visited” once no doubt he will again—and is therefore “in perfect joy”[*] —bad luck to him! as the Irish say.
A cento of most beautiful passages might be made from this poem—and the psychological history of himself is powerful and truthful, truth-like certainly, all but the last stage. That he evidently has not yet got into. The self-seeking and self-worshipping state is well described—beyond that, I should think the writer had made, as yet, only the next step, viz. into despising his own state. I even question whether part even of that self-disdain is not assumed. He is evidently dissatisfied, and feels part of the badness of his state, but he does not write as if it were purged out of him—if he once could muster a hearty hatred of his selfishness, it would go—as it is he feels only the lack of good, not the positive evil. He feels not remorse, but only disappointment. A mind in that state can only be regenerated by some new passion, and I know not what to wish for him but that he may meet with a real Pauline.
Meanwhile he should not attempt to shew how a person may be recovered from this morbid state—for he is hardly convalescent, and “what should we speak of but that which we know?”[*]
[[*] ]The quotations are from passages near the end of Pauline, pp. 68-9 (ll. 992, 1008, and 994 or 1007—the line is repeated).
[[*] ]Cf. Carlyle’s letter to Mill of 18 Apr., 1833, in Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, Vol. VI, p. 373.