Front Page Titles (by Subject) Appendix F: The MS of the Principles - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume III - Principles of Political Economy Part II
Return to Title Page for The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume III - Principles of Political Economy Part II
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Appendix F: The MS of the Principles - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume III - Principles of Political Economy Part II 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume III - The Principles of Political Economy with Some of Their Applications to Social Philosophy (Books III-V and Appendices), ed. John M. Robson, Introduction by V.W. Bladen (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The online edition of the Collected Works is published under licence from the copyright holder, The University of Toronto Press. ©2006 The University of Toronto Press. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or medium without the permission of The University of Toronto Press.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
The MS of the Principles
the only known ms of the Principles is that in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York.* It is the press-copy MS of Vol. I of the 1st edition, bound in three volumes, half-green morocco, the MS volumes containing, respectively, Book I; Book II; and Chapters i-vi of Book III, with the Appendix to Vol. I. The folios of MS Vols. I and II are watermarked 1846; those of Vol. III are watermarked 1829 and 1833, but were undoubtedly prepared at the same time as those of the other volumes. The binding paper, however, is watermarked 1878 (five years after Mill’s death), and the original folios may not have been cut to their present size (circa 24c. × 18.5c.) until that time.
The text is written on recto, with the verso sheets reserved for notes and revisions. (This is one of the two methods usually employed by Mill, the other being to write on the right-hand side of both recto and verso, reserving the left-hand side for notes and revisions.) The sheets are gathered usually into groups of twenty which are lettered sequentially in Mill’s hand from A to Bb (L, which would occur on the first folio of Vol. II, does not appear, as the folio is missing). The first volume is numbered 1-66, 66x, 67-187, and 1-40. Neither the Table of Contents nor the Preface is here, and the “Preliminary Remarks” of the printed editions appear as Chapter i, so the chapter numbers differ. The second volume is numbered 2-139, 1-60, and 1-58, the first folio, as noted above, being missing; also ff135 and 136 have been misbound between ff129 and 130. The third volume is numbered 1-60, and 1-16, the last 16ff being the Appendix to Vol. I of the printed text, consisting here of pasted-up columns from the Morning Chronicle, linked and altered in ink by Mill. Printers’ marks and signatures are found throughout.
As indicated in the Textual Introduction, the MS is heavily revised, almost every folio containing cancellations and interlineations. Most of the cancellations are trivial (many are false starts); many are virtually indecipherable. In the following illustrative examples the early readings are sometimes tentative.
The longest revision evidently took place in Book I, Chapter ix, §2 (on joint-stock management), which appears in the MS on slightly smaller sheets in a different pen. The earlier version must have been rejected in full, as the beginning of this first version of §2 is cancelled on the last full-sized folio, and the beginning of §3 is found on the last of the smaller folios, where the last line does not reach the margin. (These folios are watermarked like those in MS Vol. III.)
Trivial changes are very frequent; I.97.35, “considerable”, will serve as example. The final MS reading is “material”, but Mill wrote and then cancelled “great” and “large”, interlined and cancelled “considerable”, and finally interlined “material”. There are other places where Mill restored cancelled readings (evidently) in proof; for example at I.135.31, where the cancelled “advantages” replaces the MS “recommendations” in the printed version. In a few places proof corrections were necessary to clear up tangles created by the MS revisions. For example at I.187.34-5, in altering by cancellation and interlineation “the improvements which in the arts of production” to “the improvements which facilitate production”, Mill forgot to cancel “of” in the MS, but it was caught in proof. A similar change which was not caught in proof, and so is recorded as a variant,] may be seen at I.188i-i, where Mill cancelled “properties of the soil” and interlined “niggardliness of nature” without altering the verb “are” to the singular. A printer’s error which led to a revision is seen at I.110k-k, where Mill wrote “the direst waste of wealth”, which the typesetter read as “the direct waste of wealth”; in looking over the passage in 1852 (and probably puzzling over his apparent choice of words), Mill must have seen “direct” used again six lines lower in the next sentence, and so changed the reading to the final “the most obvious part of the waste of wealth”.
One typical example of the extent of revision will illustrate Mill’s habits. At I.67, a paragraph ends: “I conceive this to be one of the many errors arising in political economy, from the practice of not beginning with the examination of simple cases, but rushing at once into the complexity of concrete phenomena.” The earliest MS version read, after “rushing”, “at once into the complication of concrete phenomena, without having obtained a clue to disentangle them, & hence seeing only a part of the facts which are relevant to the point in consideration.” A first revision altered “point in consideration” to “matter”; a second resulted in the reading, “into the complexity of concrete phenomena, without first obtaining a clue to disentangle it”; and the final reading was reached in proof. (Such passages were often altered again in later editions.)
The most interesting cancellations are, of course, the longer ones. In the 1st edition is found the following passage (an interesting anticipation of On Liberty), which was altered in the 3rd edition:
The perfection of social arrangements would be to secure to all persons complete independence and freedom of action, subject to no restriction but that of not doing injury to others: but the scheme which we are considering abrogates this freedom entirely, and places every action of every member of the community under command.
In the MS (II.f9v) that sentence is added to replace the following cancelled one:
Deprive human life of all which this system would take away from it, & it would be reduced as I said before, to a sort of sentient vegetation; a state not so much superior as may be thought, to the condition of any of the other gregarious animals when they have enough to eat. [In these two passages I ignore internal revisions.]
An example of a cancelled passage not replaced will seem, to those who know Mill’s habits, even more typical. At I.368.20, between the sentences ending with “discussed” and beginning with “People,” the following sentences were cancelled in the MS:
The maladies of society are like the physical ailments of the wealthy Turk, whom the Swedish traveller Hasselquist was asked to prescribe for at Smyrna. The patient was dying of marasmus, & Hasselquist learning that he had a numerous harem, well knew what advice he needed, but forbore to give it, & prescribed some trifling palliative, knowing that any allusion to such a subject, besides being entirely useless, would be regarded as a mortal affront.
A longer example, tentatively reproducing all the stages of revision (ignoring only a few false starts), shows Mill in difficulty over one of his key notions, the distinction between Production and Distribution. Towards the end of his “Preliminary Remarks,” he first wrote the following sentences:
But though governments or nations can in some measure determine what institutions shall be established, it is not in their power to make those institutions have any other effects, than those which naturally belong to them. What are the effects of human institutions is as much a question of necessary laws & of strict science, as what are the effects of natural agencies. The laws, therefore, of the Distribution of Wealth, are as susceptible of scientific treatment as those of its production: the latter however are universal, & belong to all states of society equally, while the former are in a great measure different, according to the artificial circumstances of different societies; to ascertain the relation between these artificial circumstances & the differences in the distribution of wealth which are consequent on it, is the very scientific object which Political Economy, in this branch of it, proposes to itself. If mankind will produce wealth, they can do so according to invariable laws: the manner in which they will distribute it, is partly, & would on the supposition of perfect wisdom be wholly, in their own power to determine: but the necessary conditions of the power they can exercise over the distribution, & the manner in which it is affected by the various modes of conduct which society may think fit to adopt, are determined by laws as rigid, & as independent of human control, as the laws of Production itself.
[MS Vol. I.27r, 28r.]
The words “in their power” were altered to “in the power of either”, and then altered again to produce, with other revisions, the reading:
But though governments or nations can in some measure determine what institutions shall be established, they cannot arbitrarily determine how those institutions shall work; their operation when established is a question of necessary laws & strict science & quite as susceptible of scientific treatment as are the operation of natural agencies. Though [illegible word] difference is [illegible word], the laws of Production are universal, & belong equally to all states of society, while those of Distribution are in a great measure different, according to the artificial circumstances of different societies. Mankind can produce wealth only by conforming to the natural laws of its production; the manner in which they will distribute it, is partly, & would on the supposition of perfect knowledge be wholly, in their own power to determine, but the conditions of the power which they can exercise over the distribution, & the manner in which it is affected by the various modes of conduct which society may think fit to adopt, are determined by laws as rigid, & as independent of human control, as those of Production itself.
Immediately after this revision, Mill carried the beginning of the sentence starting “Mankind can” over to the verso of f26, writing:
Mankind can produce wealth, only by conforming to the natural laws of its production, while the manner in which they will distribute it,
Then, apparently going through the passage yet again, he cancelled all between “strict science” and “to the laws of Production”, and then decided to cancel the middle part of the account totally by drawing vertical lines through it; he then rewrote the final sentence, producing the last MS version, which is reproduced in the 1st edition with only one change (“, & as independent of human control,” being omitted from the last clause). Here is the 1848 version, with subsequent changes indicated in square brackets:
But though governments or nations can in some measure determine [3rd to 7th eds. nations have the power of deciding] what institutions shall be established [3rd to 7th eds. shall exist], they cannot arbitrarily determine how those institutions shall work. The conditions on which the power they possess over the distribution of wealth is dependent, and the manner in which the distribution is affected [5th to 7th eds. effected] by the various modes of conduct which society may think fit to adopt, are determined by laws as rigid as those of Production itself [3rd to 7th eds. are as much a subject for scientific enquiry as any of the physical laws of nature].
One final example will show the difficulty of reconstructing the heavily revised passages. The passage below, which is reproduced on the opposite page, is an attempt at reconstruction: the final reading is given in bold-face; the first two readings are given in italic, with square brackets to indicate the cancellations which led (with the italic interlineation) to the second reading; further revisions are given in ordinary roman type. (It should be realized that none of the readings but the last may have existed in complete form.)
Butthis seems to me adecidedmisunderstandingis intended to any ofof the matter in dispute.no [one intends any] disparagement [to] these classes of words, if not of things.Productionnot beingis notthe sole end of human existence, & the termof persons by refusing to their labour the name of productive, nor areunproductive,therefore,does not necessarily imply any stigma;norIt is not inwas nevertheir respective functions in the economy of society at all in questionintended to do so in the present case. The question is one of mere language & classification.here. [I.45.20–4; MS I.56]
The assumption is that the first reading was:
But no one intends any disparagement to these classes of persons by refusing to their labour the name of productive, nor are their respective functions in the economy of society at all in question here.
The second reading was:
But no disparagement is intended to any of these classes of persons by refusing to their labour the name of productive, nor are their respective functions in the economy of society at all in question here.
The third reading was:
But this seems to me a decided misunderstanding of words, if not of things. Production is not the sole end of human existence & the term unproductive, therefore, does not necessarily imply any stigma. It was never intended to do so in the present case. The question is one of mere language & classification.
(Here a false start in the penultimate sentence is ignored: Mill wrote “It is not in” and then cancelled “is not in”.) Finally he reached the ultimate MS reading:
But this seems to me a misunderstanding of the matter in dispute. Production not being the sole end of human existence, the term unproductive does not necessarily imply any stigma; nor was ever intended to do so in the present case. The question is one of mere language & classification.
The complexity and uncertainty of this reconstruction should illustrate the inutility of any attempt to reproduce in full the MS cancellations.
[* ]It was bought in 1919 for £225 from Bernard Quaritch Limited, who had obtained it from Sotheby’s sale (6 May, 1919) of Alfred Morrison’s autograph collection.