TO WILLIAM JACKSON HOOKER
26th January 1831.
My dear Sir,
I owe you many apologies for having so long delayed forwarding to you the small parcel of specimens which is all I have to offer in return for all those which you were so good as to send me. The fact is that I have been so completely engrossed by other occupations that I have not been able, till now, to perform the annual duty of looking over my herbarium.
The specimens I now send are, I regret to say, not in general very good ones, but they are the best I have; I will endeavour to procure better ones next summer. I began collecting fungi so late, & had so little time to hunt for them, that I am able to send only two or three I am afraid very common ones.
You will find however specimens such as they are of all the plants which you expressed a wish to see, except one, as to which I must plead guilty to having misinformed you, the Thalictrum majus. How I came to commit this blunder I cannot conceive, as the plant is entered both in my herbarium and in my catalogue as Thalictrum flavum. In compensation I send you a plant which, I believe I did not mention before: the Lilium martagon, a plant new to the British flora, but certainly wild, & as far as it is possible to judge, indigenous.
It fills, as I imagine, nearly the whole of an extremely thick & close coppice wood, near Headley in Surrey. I first saw it about four years ago, when the coppice or rather a part of it was cut down, & the ground was seen to be covered with this plant; but as it never flowered I did not know what it was, though I wondered at it a good deal; but in June this year (I believe shortly after I wrote the notes on your Flora to which I owe the privilege of corresponding with you) I discovered in another corner of the wood, a considerable number of full grown plants all of them on the point of flowering, two of which I gathered & now send to you. They are badly preserved, but there is no doubt of the identity of the plant, & as little of its being completely wild: If it ever escaped from a garden, it must have been at a very remote period, for there is no garden near, & the immense abundance of the plant in this coppice proves that if not indigenous, it is as completely naturalized as a plant can possibly be.
If chance, or your zeal for science, should ever bring you into the neighbourhood of Dorking (the most beautiful probably in the S. of England) it would be a great pleasure to me to shew you this spot, as well as the habitats of various other rare plants in that neighbourhood.
I have not been able to learn anything more respecting the Verbascum ferrugineum in the vicinity of Hampton Court & the Moulseys [sic], as I am no longer residing in that neighbourhood, but I will endeavour to revisit the spot. It certainly is not indigenous there, but it appeared to me to be completely naturalized. From your sending me the Rhynchospora alba, I conclude that it may not be known to you that the boggy or rather the wet parts of Cobham common in Surrey are covered with it. Accept once more my best thanks for your letter & its accompaniments & believe me
Most truly yours
J. S. Mill.
P.S. I send but one specimen of the Lycopodium from Esher Common, having lost the other.
TO GUSTAVE D’EICHTHAL
My dear Gustave
I write to you merely a few lines to shew that I am not inclined to neglect my absent friends. Adolphe will tell you every thing which I could say in a letter, and much more.
Your two friends, M. Janski and M. Bontemps, have not had more success in converting me to St Simonism than Duverryer [sic] and you; but if you are sufficiently catholic, in the original & correct sense of the word, to rejoice at any progress which does not bring any proselytes within your pale, I think you will be pleased with two or three articles of mine in the Examiner, headed “The Spirit of the Age”, which Adolphe is so kind as to take charge of for you.
Your doctrine begins to be talked of, & to excite some curiosity here—I have been the means of making it known to some persons, at their request: & in short, although I am not a St Simonist nor at all likely to become one, je tiens bureau de St Simonisme chez moi.
Pray commend me to Duveyrier; and to your two chiefs, even; if their haute mission has not prevented them from retaining any trace of me in their remembrance.
tout à vous
J. S. Mill
Je vous félicite de l’acquisition de Globe.
TO SARAH AUSTIN
[Spring or summer 1831]
How I wish I were by your side, and could speak to you instead of writing. You may lay down your anxiety, my dear Mütterlein, I hope never to resume it.
In the first place, the shutting up the University for a year is a cock-and-bull story. Romilly tells me that it was talked of by one or two of the members of council among themselves, but never was proposed to the Council, & R. is firmly persuaded it never will be proposed, & would have no chance of being carried.
Romilly is in better spirits about the University than he has long been. He says that he and my father and Mr Wm Tooke met together yesterday & looked over papers &c. &c. to see what could be done to reduce the expense, & the result was such as to convince Romilly that by the end of next year the receipts will exceed the disbursements.
So much for the University. Then Romilly tells me that it is now certain or nearly certain that a Professorship of Jurisprudence will be endowed by subscription for three years. I do not know whether I ought to have told you this as long as there could be even the slightest doubt: but I do not think there can be the slightest, from the manner in which he spoke of it, and besides I could not help telling you. However let us keep our joy to ourselves for the present. I never could bring myself to believe that we should lose you, and now I am sure we shall not.
Now you must write me a joyful note to make amends for your sorrowful one.
J. S. M.
TO GUSTAVE D’EICHTHAL
27 August 1831.
My dear Gustave
I suppose it is of no use writing to you about any thing except what relates to the doctrine of St Simon. With respect to the translating of the St Simonian books, I think the time has hardly come for it—indeed my own opinion is that to have any chance of making converts in this country it would be advisable not to translate the existing books, but to write new ones better adapted to the state of the English mind. However I was told some time ago by Mr Owen, that some of his friends were translating your works. Whether they understand them sufficiently to be able to translate them in the proper manner, I do not know—but I suspect not.
I do not know to what merits of my own, as respects the doctrine of St Simon, I am indebted for regularly receiving the Globe—but I beg you to make my acknowledgments to your chiefs, and to accept them yourself, for the great pleasure which it has afforded me. I read it regularly and have derived great advantage from it, and though there is as little chance as ever of my becoming one of you, I do not differ from you nearly so much as I did.
I am much obliged to you for introducing me to the acquaintance of Mr Silsey, and I hope you will confer on me a similar favour whenever any of your friends comes to this place.
Pray make my affectionate remembrances to Adolphe and all friends. Is there any chance that Lanjuinais will come here in the approaching vacation?
Yours most truly
J. S. Mill.
TO THOMAS CARLYLE
[Oct. 7, 1831]
My dear Sir
When I wrote to you this morning that I was about to dine with a Frenchman who was an intimate friend of mine I was not aware that both the brother and the uncle of that friend were known to you, the first (M. Gustave d’Eichthal) in correspondence with you, and the uncle a friend of your brother. My friend is extremely desirous of making your acquaintance, and as he leaves town for Edinburgh on Tuesday, Monday next is the only day on which I could have an opportunity of introducing him to you. If it is quite convenient and agreeable to you, it would be a great pleasure both to me and to him if you would permit us to call upon you on that evening. I think I may promise that you will like him.
He is acquainted with no person at Edinburgh, and if when you see him you should be disposed to give him any introductions there, I am sure they will be well bestowed and properly appreciated.
Yours most truly
J. S. Mill
TO JOHN STERLING
India House. From the 20th of October to the
You must have wondered at not hearing from me sooner; and not without good reason. It is true that I have not heard from you non plus, so that we seem to have been equally neglectful of one another. But, 1. very probably a letter from you is now on its way here. 2. Your silence ought only to be counted from your arrival, and mine from your setting out. 3. I have had only my ordinary occupations, while you have had all the trouble of settling in a new place, of commencing an entirely new mode of life and kind of occupation, and when this was just done, you were turned out by a vile hurricane & obliged to begin the whole thing over again. 4. A letter from home is still more precious than even the most interesting letter from abroad. 5. Though you have not written to me, you have to others, & I have seen part of what you wrote: now when a man is a great way off, his letter to one of his friends may be taken mutatis mutandis as a letter to all, but that cannot be said of their letters to him.—You see I have stated the case against myself as strongly as I can, in order to leave you nothing to add to it. As I have no excuse to make which will not leave my case worse than it is already, I can only make you the best reparation in my power by writing you an exceedingly long letter this time. I suppose it is right to assume that you must desire en premier lieu to hear about public affairs, now when they are in so ticklish a state: but really I can tell you little more than you will learn from the newspapers. The rejection of the Reform Bill by the large majority of 41 in the House of Lords, has given an immense impulse to the mouvement in this country. All chance that the Bill when passed should prove a healing measure is at an end. The House of Lords is now as much detested as ever the House of Commons was. Nothing less than the creation of from 60 to 100 liberal Peers, to change the character of the House, can now give it any chance of remaining in existence. It is said that they flinch, and will pass the Bill without any new creation, but that will not now save them. They will come into collision with the Reformed House on some other point, & will certainly go to the wall. You may consider the fate of the Church as sealed. Only two Bishops voted for the Bill; about five more staid away, the rest voted against it. The hierarchy being thus, as a body, hostile to it, while the temporal Peers were almost equally divided, the first brunt of public indignation has fallen upon the Prelacy. Every voice is raised against allowing them to continue in the House of Lords, and if I do not express my conviction that they will be excluded from it before this day five years, it is only because I doubt whether the House itself will last so long. I cannot say I regret either the approaching downfall of the Peers or that of the Church. I certainly think it desirable that there should be a conservative branch of the legislature; and that there should be a national clergy or clerisy, like that of which Coleridge traces the outline, in his work on Church & State. If therefore I thought that the present Peerage & Clergy would ever consent to become the peerage of a government constituted on anti-jobbing principles, & the clergy of a non-sectarian church, I should pray for their continuance. But they never will. Can a Peerage so ignorant as ours is proved to be by its recent vote, of the spirit of the age, & the feelings of the people, ever be able to fulfil with judgment the ends of a checking body, which are, to yield to all steady impulses of opinion, which are likely to be permanent, & to resist those which are in their nature temporary & changeable? And as for the clergy, who does not see that they are mainly divisible into two great categories, the worldly-minded, & the sectarians? I know that you will not agree with me, but I think that Coleridge would, in thinking that a national clergy ought to be so constituted as to include all who are capable of producing a beneficial effect on their age & country as teachers of the knowledge which fits people to perform their duties & exercise their rights, and as exhorters to the right performance & exercise of them: now I contend that such persons are to be found among all denominations of Christians, nay even among those who are not Christians at all: provided (which I deem an essential condition in the present stage of human progressiveness) they abstain from either directly attacking, or indirectly undermining Christianity, & even adopt (as far as without hypocrisy they can) those means of addressing the feelings & the conscience, to which a connexion with Christianity has given potency. An infidel who attempts to subvert or weaken the belief of mankind in Christianity, ought not in my opinion to form a part of the national clerisy; not because he may not be performing a conscientious duty in so doing, but because it is to me a proof that he misunderstands the wants & tendencies of his age, & that the effect of his exertions would probably be to make men worse instead of better by shaking the only firm convictions & feelings of duty which they have, without having even a remote chance of furnishing them with any effectual substitute. Accordingly in France, where Christianity has lost its hold on men’s minds, my reasoning would not apply. There, I believe that a Christian would be positively less fit than a St Simonian (for example), to form part of a national church. These then are my ideas of a church establishment; ideas which I shall promulgate to the public in some shape or other when I shall see a good opportunity for their being attended to. But I feel certain that no church, not founded on this comprehensive principle, can, or ought to stand. I believe that if any class of Christians, Socinians for example, or even Deists, or Atheists, were excluded you could not select your clergy from the remainder of mankind without including persons less fit in every respect than some whom you would exclude. Besides, you would then retain that encouragement to hypocrisy, that holding out of worldly motives first to the adoption & next to the obstinate retention of particular creeds, which has disgusted so many high-minded men with church establishments: which has made them to be considered as obstacles to improvement, as the creation of a class with an interest adverse to the progressiveness of the species. In the present age of transition, everything must be subordinate to freedom of inquiry: if your opinions, or mine, are right, they will in time be unanimously adopted by the instructed classes, and then it will be time to found the national creed upon the assumption of their truth.—But what chance is there that the Church as at present constituted, will consent to undergo, even by the most insensible steps, this transformation? and that, too, at a time when insensible steps will not suffice. If they would, the recent elevation of Whately to the archbishopric of Dublin & of Maltby to the bishopric of Chichester, would greatly encourage me; the former because I think him one of the fittest men in the country to hold a high station in a national church such as I conceive it should be; the latter for the very reason which makes others disapprove of it, his want of orthodoxy. But all this might do while the people were attached to the Church. At present they are hostile to it: hostile consequently, to all church establishments, because they know of none better than this: & they would be more likely to accept an entirely new one, than one which they considered to be a transformation of this. Why is it almost the natural course of things in politics, that destruction must precede renovation? It is because reform is delayed till the whole attachment of the public to the entire of the institution is gone, & then they feel a distrust of anything which looks like patching up the old edifice. So I believe it to be both with Church & State at this moment. You have no doubt seen in the English papers, the speeches at public meetings and the various Resolutions which have been agreed to. These are generally very strong; but they were, in every case, the weakest which there was the least chance that the people would have adopted. Almost everywhere, if any person came forward & proposed stronger Resolutions, they were carried by acclamation, much to the dissatisfaction of those who called the meeting & prepared the proceedings. I am convinced that we are indebted for the preservation of tranquillity solely to the organisation of the people in Political Unions. All the other Unions look to the Birmingham one, & that looks to its half dozen leaders, who consequently act under a most intense consciousness of moral responsibility & are very careful neither to do nor say anything without the most careful deliberation. I conversed the other day with a Warwickshire magistrate who told me that the meeting of 150,000 men a few days previous would have done any thing without exception which their leaders might have proposed. They would have passed any resolutions, marched to any place, or burnt any man’s house. The agricultural people are as determined as the manufacturers. The West is as exalté as the North. Colonel Napier made a speech at the Devizes meeting the other day for the express purpose (as I hear) of letting the men in the North perceive, that the West is ready to join in any popular movement if necessary; & since that speech (which the leaders in vain attempted to prevent him from delivering) he has received numbers of letters from all parts of the country, saying that they all look to him as their leader, & are ready to place themselves under his command. If the ministers flinch or the Peers remain obstinate, I am firmly convinced that in six months a national convention chosen by universal suffrage, will be sitting in London. Should this happen, I have not made up my mind what would be best to do: I incline to think it would be best to lie by and let the tempest blow over, if one could but get a shilling a day to live upon meanwhile: for until the whole of the existing institutions of society are levelled with the ground, there will be nothing for a wise man to do which the most pig-headed fool cannot do much better than he. A Turgot, even, could not do in the present state of England what Turgot himself failed of doing in France—mend the old system. If it goes all at once, let us wait till it is gone: if it goes piece by piece, why, let the blockheads who will compose the first Parliament after the bill passes, do what a blockhead can do, viz. overthrow, & the ground will be cleared, & the passion of destruction sated, & a coalition prepared between the wisest radicals & the wisest anti-radicals, between all the wiser men who agree in their general views & differ only in their estimate of the present condition of this country.—You will perhaps think from this long prosing rambling talk about politics, that they occupy much of my attention: but in fact I am myself often surprised, how little I really care about them. The time is not yet come when a calm & impartial person can intermeddle with advantage in the questions & contests of the day. I never write in the Examiner now except on France, which nobody else that I know of seems to know any thing about; & now & then on some insulated question of political economy. The only thing which I can usefully do at present, & which I am doing more & more every day, is to work out principles: which are of use for all times, though to be applied cautiously & circumspectly to any: principles of morals, government, law, education, above all self-education. I am here much more in my element: the only thing that I believe I am really fit for, is the investigation of abstract truth, & the more abstract the better. If there is any science which I am capable of promoting, I think it is the science of science itself, the science of investigation—of method. I once heard Maurice say (& like many things which have dropped from him, its truth did not strike me at first but it has been a source of endless reflexions since) that almost all differences of opinion when analysed, were differences of method. But if so, he who can throw most light upon the subject of method, will do most to forward that alliance among the most advanced intellects & characters of the age, which is the only definite object I ever have in literature or philosophy so far as I have any general object at all. Argal, I have put down upon paper a great many of my ideas on logic, & shall in time bring forth a treatise: but whether it will see the light until the Treaty of Westphalia is signed at the close of another cycle of reformation & antagonism, no one can tell except Messrs. Drummond, M’Niel, Irving, & others, who possess the hidden key to the Interpretation of the Prophecies. I have just put the finishing hand to my part of a work on Political Economy, which Graham & I are writing jointly: our object is to clear up some points which have been left doubtful, to correct some which we consider to be wrong, & to shew what the science is & how it should be studied. I have written five essays; four on detached questions & one on the science itself. Graham is to write five more on the same subjects: we are then to compare notes, throw our ideas into a common stock, talk over all disputed points till we agree (which between us two, we know by experience to be by no means an indefinite postponement) & then one of us is to write a book out of the materials. Graham is to add a sixth essay on a very important part of the subject which is above my reach, & which I am only to criticize when it is done. I am now resting upon my oars. Yesterday I completed my task, & having reached a sort of landing-place (vide the Friend) I have asked myself what recreation I could offer myself by way of reward for past & encouragement to future exertions; & nothing better has yet occurred to me, than writing to you. The next thing I shall do will be to complete my speculations on Logic: very likely I shall not get to the end of the subject yet, viewed as I understand it; but I shall at least gather in another harvest of ideas, & then let the ground lie fallow a while longer. After this I shall probably put down upon paper a vast quantity of miscellaneous ideas which are wrought out to a certain extent in my head, but which it would be quite premature to publish for a long while to come. I have nothing in view for the public just now, except (when the Reform Bill shall have past) to resume my series of papers headed the Spirit of the Age; and to write an article or two for the Jurist (now about to be revived) on some abstract questions of general legislation. When I shall have completed all this, then if the East India Company is abolished and funded property confiscated, I shall perhaps scrape together the means of paying my passage to St Vincent’s & see whether you will employ me to teach your niggers political economy. I take it for granted that if a Reformed Parliament should begin taking measures for the emancipation of the slaves, you will all join the United States, who being lovers of liberty, will I trust go to war with Republican England to restore you & the other colonists, to the inalienable rights of freemen.
I have done nothing in this letter but talk to you about the world in general and about myself. I must now talk to you about other people, and particularly about several new acquaintances of mine that I had not made or had only just begun to make when you left this white world. First of all, I went this summer to the Lakes, where I saw much splendid scenery, and also saw a great deal both of Wordsworth and Southey; and I must tell you what I think of them both. In the case of Wordsworth, I was particularly struck by several things. One was, the extensive range of his thoughts and the largeness & expansiveness of his feelings. This does not appear in his writings, especially his poetry, where the contemplative part of his mind is the only part of it that appears: & one would be tempted to infer from the peculiar character of his poetry, that real life & the active pursuits of men (except of farmers & other country people) did not interest him. The fact however is that these very subjects occupy the greater part of his thoughts, & he talks on no subject more instructively than on states of society & forms of government. Those who best know him, seem to be most impressed with the catholic character of his ability. I have been told that Lockhart has said of him that he would have been an admirable country attorney. Now a man who could have been either Wordsworth or a country attorney, could certainly have been anything else which circumstances had led him to desire to be. The next thing that struck me was the extreme comprehensiveness and philosophic spirit which is in him. By these expressions I mean the direct antithesis of what the Germans most expressively call onesidedness. Wordsworth seems always to know the pros and the cons of every question; & when you think he strikes the balance wrong, it is only because you think he estimates erroneously some matter of fact. Hence all my differences with him, or with any other philosophic Tory, would be differences of matter-of-fact or detail, while my differences with the radicals & utilitarians are differences of principle: for these see generally only one side of the subject, & in order to convince them, you must put some entirely new idea into their heads, whereas Wordsworth has all the ideas there already, & you have only to discuss with him concerning the “how much,” the more or less of weight which is to be attached to a certain cause or effect, as compared with others: thus the difference with him turns upon a question of varying or fluctuating quantities, where what is plus in one age or country is minus in another & the whole question is one of observation & testimony & of the value of particular articles of evidence. I need hardly say to you that if one’s own conclusions & his were at variance on every question which a minister or a Parliament could to-morrow be called upon to solve, his is nevertheless the mind with which one would be really in communion: our principles would be the same, and we should be like two travellers pursuing the same course on the opposite banks of a river.—Then when you get Wordsworth on the subjects which are peculiarly his, such as the theory of his own art—if it be proper to call poetry an art, (that is, if art is to be defined the expression or embodying in words or forms, of the highest & most refined parts of nature) no one can converse with him without feeling that he has advanced that great subject beyond any other man, being probably the first person who ever combined, with such eminent success in the practice of the art, such high powers of generalization & habits of meditation on its principles. Besides all this, he seems to me the best talker I ever heard (& I have heard several first-rate ones); & there is a benignity & kindliness about his whole demeanour which confirms what his poetry would lead one to expect, along with a perfect simplicity of character which is delightful in any one, but most of all in a person of first-rate intellect. You see I am somewhat enthusiastic on the subject of Wordsworth, having found him still more admirable & delightful a person on a nearer view than I had figured to myself from his writings; which is so seldom the case that it is impossible to see it without having one’s faith in man greatly increased & being made greatly happier in consequence. I also was very much pleased with Wordsworth’s family—at least the female part of it. I am convinced that the proper place to see him is in his own kingdom—I call the whole of that mountain region his kingdom, as it will certainly be as much thought of hereafter by the people of Natchitoches or of Swan River, as Mænalus and the Cephissus, or Baiae and Soracte by ourselves, and this from the fortuitous circumstance that he was born there & lived there. I believe it was not there that you were acquainted with him, & therefore I am not telling you an old story in talking about the little palace or pavilion which he occupies in this poetic region, & which is perhaps the most delightful residence in point of situation in the whole country. The different views from it are a sort of abstract or abridgment of the whole Westmoreland side of the mountains, & every spot visible from it has been immortalised in his poems. I was much pleased with the universality of his relish for all good poetry however dissimilar to his own: & with the freedom & unaffected simplicity with which every person about him seemed to be in the habit of discussing & attacking any passage or poem in his own works which did not please them.—I also saw a great deal of Southey, who is a very different kind of man, very inferior to Wordsworth in the higher powers of intellect, & entirely destitute of his philosophic spirit, but a remarkably pleasing & likeable man. I never could understand him till lately; that is, I never could reconcile the tone of such of his writings as I had read, with what his friends said of him: I could only get rid of the notion of his being insincere, by supposing him to be extremely fretful and irritable: but when I came to read his Colloquies, in which he has put forth much more than in any other work, of the natural man, as distinguished from the writer aiming at a particular effect, I found there a kind of connecting link between the two parts of his character, & formed very much the same notion of him which I now have after seeing & conversing with him. He seems to me to be a man of gentle feelings & bitter opinions. His opinions make him think a great many things abominable which are not so; against which accordingly he thinks it would be right, & suitable to the fitness of things, to express great indignation: but if he really feels this indignation, it is only by a voluntary act of the imagination that he conjures it up, by representing the thing to his own mind in colours suited to that passion: now, when he knows an individual & feels disposed to like him, although that individual may be placed in one of the condemned categories, he does not conjure up this phantom & feels therefore no principle of repugnance, nor excites any. No one can hold a greater number of the opinions & few have more of the qualities, which he condemns, than some whom he has known intimately & befriended for many years: at the same time he would discuss their faults & weaknesses or vices with the greatest possible freedom in talking about them. It seems to me that Southey is altogether out of place in the existing order of society: his attachment to old institutions & his condemnation of the practices of those who administer them, cut him off from sympathy & communion with both halves of mankind. Had he lived before radicalism & infidelity became prevalent, he would have been the steady advocate of the moral & physical improvement of the poorer classes & denouncer of the selfishness & supineness of those who ought to have considered the welfare of those classes as confided to their care. Possibly the essential one-sidedness of his mind might then have rendered him a democrat: but now the evils which he expects from increase of the power wielded by the democratic spirit such as it now is, have rendered him an aristocrat in principle without inducing him to make the slightest compromise with aristocratic vices and weaknesses. Consequently he is not liked by the Tories, while the Whigs and radicals abhor him. And after all, a man cannot complain of being misinterpreted, who always puts the worst interpretation upon the words and deeds of other people. As far as I have yet seen, speculative Toryism and practical Toryism are direct contraries. Practical Toryism simply means, being in, and availing yourself of your comfortable position inside the vehicle without minding the poor devils who are freezing outside. To be a Tory means either to be a place-hunter and jobber or else to think that (as Turgot expressed it) tout va bien, parce que tout va bien pour eux; to be one qui ayant leur lit bien fait, ne veulent pas qu’on le remue. Such Toryism is essentially incompatible with any large and generous aspirations; nor could any one who had such aspirations ever have any power of realizing them under our system, whatever might be his attachment to the forms of the Constitution, because the inert mass of our sluggish and enervated higher classes can be moved by nothing that does not come from without, & with a vengeance; they cannot be led, but must be driven: the clamours of the “fierce democracy” can alone stir their feeble and lazy minds, & awaken them from the sleep of indifference. What can you do when there is no faith in human improvement, & every glaring, disgusting evil which they cannot deny is set down as the inevitable price we pay for social order, & irremediable by human efforts? “It is all very true, but what can we do?” is the ready answer of everybody who can possibly avoid doing something; & you can say nothing in reply but this, “Then if you can do nothing for that society which has hitherto made nobody the happier unless it be yourselves, the rest of mankind must try what they can do to improve their own lot without your assistance, & then perhaps you may not like their manner of proceeding.” If there were but a few dozens of persons safe (whom you & I could select) to be missionaries of the great truths in which alone there is any well-being for mankind individually or collectively, I should not care though a revolution were to exterminate every person in Great Britain & Ireland who has £500 a year. Many very amiable persons would perish, but what is the world the better for such amiable persons. But among the missionaries whom I would reserve, a large proportion would consist of speculative Tories: for it is an ideal Toryism, an ideal King, Lords, & Commons, that they venerate; it is old England as opposed to the new, but it is old England as she might be, not as she is. It seems to me that the Toryism of Wordsworth, of Coleridge (if he can be called a Tory) of Southey even, & of many others whom I could mention, is tout bonnement a reverence for government in the abstract: it means, that they are duly sensible that it is good for man to be ruled; to submit both his body & mind to the guidance of a higher intelligence & virtue. It is therefore the direct antithesis of liberalism, which is for making every man his own guide & sovereign master, & letting him think for himself & do exactly as he judges best for himself, giving other men leave to persuade him if they can by evidence, but forbidding him to give way to authority; and still less allowing them to constrain him more than the existence & tolerable security of every man’s person and property renders indispensably necessary. It is difficult to conceive a more thorough ignorance of man’s nature, & of what is necessary for his happiness or what degree of happiness & virtue he is capable of attaining than this system implies. But I cannot help regretting that the men who are best capable of struggling against these narrow views & mischievous heresies should chain themselves, full of life & vigour as they are, to the inanimate corpses of dead political & religious systems, never more to be revived. The same ends require altered means; we have no new principles, but we want new machines constructed on the old principles; those we had before are worn out. Instead of cutting a safe channel for the stream of events, these people would dam it up till it breaks down every thing & spreads devastation over a whole region.
Another acquaintance which I have recently made is that of Mr. Carlyle, whom I believe you are also acquainted with. I have long had a very keen relish for his articles in the Edinburgh & Foreign Reviews, which I formerly thought to be such consummate nonsense; and I think he improves upon a nearer acquaintance. He does not seem to me so entirely the reflexion or shadow of the great German writers as I was inclined to consider him; although undoubtedly his mind has derived from their inspiration whatever breath of life is in it. He seems to me as a man who has had his eyes unsealed, and who now looks round him & sees the aspects of things with his own eyes, but by the light supplied by others; not the pure light of day, but another light compounded of the same simple rays but in different proportions. He has by far the largest & widest liberality & tolerance (not in the sense which Coleridge justly disavows, but in the good sense) that I have met with in any one; & he differs from most men who see as much as he does into the defects of the age, by a circumstance greatly to his advantage in my estimation, that he looks for a safe landing before and not behind: he sees that if we could replace things as they once were, we should only retard the final issue, as we should in all human probability go on just as we then did, & arrive again at the very place where we now stand. Carlyle intends staying in town all the winter: he has brought his wife to town (whom I have not seen enough of yet to be able to judge of her at all): his object was to treat with booksellers about a work which he wishes to publish, but he has given up this for the present, finding that no bookseller will publish anything but a political pamphlet in the present state of excitement. In fact literature is suspended; men neither read nor write. Accordingly Carlyle means to employ his stay here in improving his knowledge of what is going on in the world, at least in this part of it, I mean in that part of the world of ideas and feelings which corresponds to London. He is a great hunter-out of acquaintances; he hunted me out, or rather hunted out the author of certain papers in the Examiner (the first, as he said, which he had ever seen in a newspaper, hinting that the age was not the best of all possible ages): & his acquaintance is the only substantial good I have yet derived from writing those papers, & a much greater one than I expected when I wrote them. He has also, through me, sought the acquaintance of Fonblanque (of the Examiner) whom I found him to be an admirer of, and who though as little of a mystic as most men, reads his writings with pleasure. I expect great good from Fonblanque; he is fashioned for the work of the day, as befits one who works for the day, but he is one of those on whom one may most completely rely for being ready to turn over a new leaf when the old one is read through.
I have to add yet another new acquaintance to all these, and one who is by no means the least remarkable among them; I mean Stephen, the Counsel to the Colonial Office, son of the Master in Chancery. I have only yet seen him two or three times, but I hope to see much more of him, especially as I have now gone to live in his immediate neighbourhood, at Kensington. I have hardly met with any person who seems to me to take such just views of the age and of futurity as he does; to be so free from any exaggeration or one-sidedness, and to combine the speculative & the practical in so just a proportion. He cannot fail hereafter to exercise a great influence over the destinies of his country, not so much perhaps by what he does, as by what he makes other persons do. He is at this moment the directing spirit not only of the Colonial Office but of several other departments of the government: under great restraints & disadvantages of course, from the unteachable quality of those placed over him & their dread of anything like a principle, arising from their consciousness of inability to comprehend in one view all that is involved in it & all the consequences to which it leads. Stephen is reputed a saint: I do not know in what sense he is one, though I know that he carries the observance of the Sabbath to the extent of puritanism. But if all the English evangelicals were like him, I think I should attend their Exeter Hall meetings myself, and subscribe to their societies. I will write to you at greater length about Stephen when I have seen more of him.
As for our common friends and acquaintances here, I have but little to tell you concerning them. Mrs. Austin will of course write to you. I do not know whether the subscription for endowing the Jurisprudence chair is yet full, but no doubt is entertained that it will be so. Mr. Austin is still engaged in bringing out his first eight lectures, which are soon to appear. He is in good health & spirits upon the whole. I have not seen or heard anything about Maurice; I hope our separation is not to be everlasting. Wilson has very recently returned from Germany, where he has spent about a year. I have seen very little of Charles Buller; you are probably aware that he is not in this Parliament, but he is sure of being returned for Liskeard when the Bill passes. The greatest change that has occurred in any one since I saw you is in Roebuck; he has pulled off his strait jacket, and now moves freely: his mental powers are no longer enslaved by fixed forms of words, and phrases strung together syllogistically with the false appearance of Euclidean demonstration. His intellect has greatly expanded, & the asperities of his character are much softened: and though there still remains, & possibly may always remain, much in his mental character which you and I would greatly object to, I have now no doubt of his being a useful, powerful, and constantly improving member of the only Church which has now any real existence, namely that of writers and orators.
The Colonization scheme is going on prosperously. They have formed a plan for a new colony, to be settled on their principles on the coast of Southern Australia near the place where the newly discovered navigable river discharges itself into the sea. They are endeavouring to form a Land-Company to settle the country, & have the promise of an excellent Charter from Government when the company is formed. The Colonial Office I believe to be heartily with them at present. Our friend Graham has gone into the scheme with his usual vigour, & is now one of their leading minds: he wrote their last two pamphlets. Wakefield now moves openly in the thing, though it is not declared publicly that he was the originator of it; but there is no reason now for keeping his connexion with it altogether a secret, as he has made himself very advantageously known to the public by, really, a most remarkable book on the punishment of death, founded on the observations he made while in Newgate. You are aware that our old enemy, Wilmot Horton, has gone to Ceylon as governor, so that he no longer stands in the way of a rational scheme of colonization.—The St Simonists are making immense progress in France, & are doing great good there: France has nobody comparable to them on the whole. They talk of sending missionaries here; that will do them no good, I think.—This letter I hope will call forth an equally long one from you. I beg to be duly remembered to Mrs. John Sterling.
J. S. Mill
TO GUSTAVE D’EICHTHAL
My dear d’Eichthal
I know you too well to write to you on any subject except that of the great, and truly apostolic work in which you are engaged, and to which, though I am very far indeed from entirely agreeing with you, I have for some time been accustomed to look, as the greatest enterprise now in progress, for the regeneration of society.
I am greatly indebted to you and your associates, for being thought worthy to receive the Globe. If I did not sympathize with you in any other respect, it would still be a noble spectacle to see a body of men standing erect and fronting the world as you do. But the daily reading of the Globe, combined with various other causes, has brought me much nearer to many of your opinions than I was before; and I regard you as decidedly à la tête de la civilisation.
I am now inclined to think that your social organisation, under some modification or other, which experience, no doubt, will one day suggest to yourselves, is likely to be the final and permanent condition of the human race. I chiefly differ from you in thinking that it will require many, or at least several, ages, to bring mankind into a state in which they will be capable of it; & that in the mean time they are only capable of approximating to it by that gradual series of changes which are so admirably indicated and discussed in the writings of your body, and every one of which independently of what it may afterwards lead to, has the advantage of being in itself a great positive good. Your system, therefore, even supposing it to be impracticable, differs from every other system which has ever proposed to itself an unattainable end, in this, that many, indeed almost all attainable good lies on the road to it.
You, I am aware, think that all who adopt your system, prove thereby that they are capable of performing all which it would require of them if it became universal. I think not. But since you think so, it was your duty to commence, as you have done, the experiment of realizing it on such a scale as is permitted to you. I watch the experiment; and watch it with all the solicitude and anxiety of one, all whose hopes of the very rapid and early improvement of human society are wrapt up in its success.
If men of such ardent and generous enthusiasm, such strong and penetrating intellects, and such extensive views, are found unable to act up to their own conceptions of duty, what hope is there for the rest of mankind? If the Saint-Simonian society holds together without schism & heresy, and continues to propagate its faith and extend its numbers, at the rate it has done for the last two years—if this shall continue for a few years more, then I shall see something like a gleam of light through the darkness. But if not—then what is done will not be of no avail; I shall not despair, nor ought you. But it will be a grievous downfal[l] to our hopes.
Write to me sometimes, my dear friend. Be not afraid that your labour will be lost. I have never yet read a single article in the Globe which has not wrought something within me; which I have not been in some measure the better for. And if the hour were yet come for England—if it were not as vain to seek a hearing for any “vues organiques” in England now, as it would have been for your master St Simon in the height of the revolution—I know not that I should not renounce every thing, and become, not one of you, but as you.
But our 10 août, our 20 juin, and perhaps our 18 Brumaire, are yet to come and which of us will be left standing when the hurricane has blown over, Heaven only knows.
J. S. Mill.
TO GUSTAVE D’EICHTHAL
6th December 1831.
My dear d’Eichthal,
Ever since your note was given to me by M. Arlès, I have been turning over in my mind your ideas concerning the dissemination of your principles in this country, and considering to what persons the Globe might be sent with prospect of advantage. I should not recommend its being sent either to the leading newspapers or to the leading members of parliament. It would not be read, or it would be read just enough to be altogether misunderstood. I have however thought of a few persons to whom it would be useful. Some of these I know to be in some measure prepared to receive many of your opinions favorably. Others will make your doctrine known by attacking it. Now since you have been violently attacked already by Southey, in so widely circulated a work as the Quarterly Review, & mentioned in several newspapers of large circulation, as a set of dreamers and visionaries, it is desirable that you should be attacked a great deal more, & by a great variety of persons, in order that being attacked on all sides, your doctrine may have all its sides laid bare and divulged. Each person in pointing out the things which he dislikes, will shew to some other person that there are things which he would like. While you are only attacked as anarchists & levellers, you will excite no attention here, but when you come to be represented by A as anarchists; by B as absolutists; by C as levellers; by D as hierarchs; by E as infidels; by F as mystical religionists; by G as sentimentalists; by H as metaphysicians & political economists; & so forth; the public will see that an absurdity which has so many different faces, cannot be quite an absurdity; or at least, that it is an absurdity unlike others, & worth studying.
Among the young members of parliament (as for the old ones, they are hopeless) I only know two to whom there would be the least use in sending the Globe; & of them I am not sure. One is Mr T. Hyde Villiers, the same who originated in parliament the proposition for equalizing the duties on French & on other foreign wines. He has now a place in the government; he is secretary to the India Board, & his address is there. (N.B. Do not confound the India Board with the India House.) His brother is now at Paris as one of the commissioners to negociate about free trade.
The other member of parliament to whom I allude is Mr Edward Lytton Bulwer (his address is 36, Hertford Street, May-fair.) He is the author of several literary productions which have been very successful; & he is now the editor of the New Monthly Magazine, a periodical publication of considerable sale, very frivolous until lately, but which under his management has become very much the reverse. If you ever see it, you will remark in it des vues d’avenir which are exceedingly rare in this country.
It is not worth while to send the Globe to any of our daily newspapers; but if you send it to Mr Sterling (South Place, Knightsbridge) who is one of the principal writers in the Times, there is some chance of its being of use. I know that he has read particular articles in the Globe, & has been much pleased with them. It may be of use to send it to two of our best provincial papers, if you can do so conveniently, the “Scotsman”, an Edinburgh paper, and the “Brighton Guardian.” The former, with some prejudices, is the most “progressif” of all our newspapers, scarcely excepting the Examiner. The Brighton paper is remarkable for a certain force and boldness of speculation, though the writer is sadly abroad.
Your should certainly send the Globe to Colonel T. Perronet Thompson, the principal proprietor of the Westminster Review. He is partially acquainted with your doctrine, & likes some things in it, but dislikes others: I believe he has some notion of writing in his review about you. I am satisfied no one can do so without going egregiously wrong, unless he be a regular reader of the Globe. If your packets are sent to the Westminster Review office, Wellington Street, Strand, they will reach him.
If you like to send the Globe to Southey, his address is Robert Southey Esq. Keswick, Cumberland. Your brother will be able to advise you about sending it to Professor Wilson of Edinburgh, the principal writer in Blackwood’s Magazine, the great organ of our Tories. If you do, he will be sure to write about you; he will compliment you, and attack you, and will say a great deal about you which the public will not hear from any one else, and which will excite their curiosity; he did all this for our utilitarian school of the old Westminster Review. But it will be matter of accident & humour whether he treats you as well-meaning men or impostors.
One of the most “progressif” men in this country is Dr Whately, lately appointed Archbishop of Dublin; which is in itself equivalent to a revolution in the Church. He is well entitled to receive the Globe. So is the Reverend J. Blanco White, (Oriel College, Oxford), a Spanish Catholic priest, of considerable abilities, now a clergyman of the Church of England. He is acquainted at least with Comte’s book, & by this time (I have no doubt) with your subsequent publications, & is on the whole well disposed towards you. Any impression made upon these two men will spread far and wide.
You should send the Globe to Mr Stephen (James Stephen Esq. Kensington Gore) Council to the Colonial office; one of the ablest men connected with our Government, & a very important man in it, whoever happens to be minister. Although an Evangelical Christian, that is, a sort of Puritan and connected with Puritans, he is one of the most progressif men we have, & I have heard him speak of your master Saint Simon with considerable praise. I think it would be of great use to send him the Globe, & that it will interest him greatly if he has time to read it.
Mr Empson, (Harcourt Buildings, Inner Temple) Law Professor at the East India College, and one of the principal writers in the Edinburgh Review, is a very proper person to receive the Globe.
I believe you already send it to the Rev. W. J. Fox, the enlightened and eloquent Unitarian preacher. If you do not, you should commence doing so without delay.
Perhaps the Reverend Dr Arnold, Head Master of Rugby School near Birmingham, would be a proper person. He is one of the most enlightened and liberal of our clergy; but I am not sufficiently acquainted with his turn of mind to be able to judge in what manner your doctrines would affect him.
When I can think of any other fit persons, I will write to you again.
I will thank you not to shew this letter to any person except Adolphe, and M. Enfantin or such other of your associates as it may specially concern, as I should be sorry that any of the persons I have mentioned should know that I had written to you any particulars concerning them.
From what M. Arlès has told me concerning the late change in your society, I am inclined to think that it is a beneficial one; but I regret exceedingly to learn that it has detached M. Bazard & several others altogether from your body. I suppose I shall learn from the Globe such particulars as I am not yet acquainted with. If not, I beg you to write to me, as there is nothing which I am more anxious to be apprised of, than the internal history of your society.
J. S. Mill.