TO JOHN PRINGLE NICHOL
16th January, 1833.
My dear Sir,
I had fully resolved that of us two, you should not be the first to write; and here have I allowed a fortnight to elapse since receiving your letter before I have ever acknowledged the reception of it. This you would I am sure excuse if I could tell you in what manner my time and thoughts have been engrossed. From the time when I first saw your papers in Tait’s Magazine, I have been ambitious of the honour of your acquaintance, and now that I am privileged to communicate with you I am not disposed to let the privilege lapse from disuse. It has often struck me that one of the many causes which prevent those who cultivate moral and political truth from occupying the place and possessing the influence which properly belong to them as the instructors and leaders of mankind, is that they never consider themselves as other labourers do, to constitute a guild or fraternity, combining their exertions for certain common ends, and freely communicating to each other everything they possess which can be used to promote these ends. As to the particular subject which has made us two known to each other—political economy—there are so many talkers about it, and so few (you will I am sure agree with me), even among professed economists, who study it scientifically, that all who do, ought to know each other.
[. . . .]
I long to see the article which it was my luck to anticipate—that we should agree on such a point was to be expected, as it is evident we look at these subjects from the same station or Standpunkt, as the Germans call it.
Is there any chance of your coming to town? I fear there is little of my soon visiting your part of the world—though my father’s birthplace is very near Montrose, at the foot of the Grampians. I fear there are not many persons in your neighbourhood with whom you can profitably discuss these subjects, or who even take any interest in them. On selfish principles I ought to be glad of this, as it gives me a chance of oftener hearing from you. Pray write soon, if you have time, and believe me,
Most sincerely yours,
J. S. Mill.
TO WILLIAM TAIT
[Jan. 23, 1833]
I shall probably send you, in time for your March number, a short review of an excellent book, the Producing Man’s Companion, by Junius Redivivus —whom I think the very best popular writer whom the enlightened radicals count in their ranks—though I like his personal articles in the Examiner less than the many admirable papers he has written in the True Sun, Mechanics Magazine & various other periodicals.
Yours ever truly
J. S. Mill
TO THOMAS CARLYLE
2d February 1833
My dear Carlyle
First let me dispatch the matters of business. Cochrane is apprised of your present residence: That Holcroft is so you will have learnt before this by receiving the Examiner direct. Holcroft’s address is 13 Bartlett’s Buildings, Holborn: as the people at the Adelphi, he says, well knew: Mr Badams’s address is 8, Old Church Street, Paddington. Holcroft writes, speaking of you “I am sure he must have given me up as a careless & negligent person & unworthy of having any thought bestowed upon him, for to my shame be it said that I have written but once to him since he left London. I earnestly respect & love him and could have wished for more frequent interchange of ideas, but I really dread to expose myself to his critical lash as an unauthorized correspondent. When you write, ask him if he will let me know under his own hand and seal how he and his wife are, and also whether I may venture to send him a frank.”—I ought to have apprised you sooner of his address and Mr Badams’s; however, you know them now—the fault is not repaired but it is stopped.—You shall very soon receive another packet of books. Let me hear from you first, however, whether you have access to the books I am going to mention. There exists a very voluminous collection of Memoirs of the French Revolution. A considerable part of this I have, & among others two volumes of Mémoires sur les Prisons, chiefly the “personal narratives” of people who were in confinement during the epoch of “Terror”: I never have read those two volumes, strange as it may seem, & know not exactly the worth of the contents—but I should think they could not fail to be interesting, and to answer your purpose in some degree. If you have not access to these two volumes where you are, I will send them. Next—have you the means of getting the Memoirs of Levasseur? He was one of the less noted members of the montagne party, & wrote his life or rather got it written very recently in order to justify that party—he is evidently a highly conscientious, well meaning man, with something of the spirit of an old Roman, and his book lets one into the aspect of that period as it presented itself to the honester minds among the actors, in a manner which has interested me deeply. Your friend Fraser lent it to me, and would, I am sure, allow me to forward it to you if you cannot get it at Edinburgh. You would learn more about Danton from this book than from any other I know—it is astonishing how little is known of such a man. Then, I have in the collection already mentioned the “Vieux Cordelier” of Camille Desmoulins, which I think would interest you. The Memoirs of Mme Roland you have, of course, read. I have several other memoirs of girondists but they are little more than long elegies.—Mirabeau, Danton, and Bonaparte are the only men who appear other than common in Thiers’ pages: but there were other remarkable men besides those three: Robespierre especially, who strangely enough, has been spoken of by all parties as a mediocre man, & Thiers thinks him so: it was always a puzzle to me how a mediocre man could remain master of the field among so many competitors, until I read some of his speeches and then saw that he was by far the most skilful of the combatants in every sense of the word.—On the whole, however, it is wonderful how little can be traced of the private and social life of that period. There is positively much more of it in Thiers than in any other of the innumerable books on the revolution which I have read. There is more of it (as is often the case) in their professed fictions than in their histories: a novel by Picard which I have, entitled “Le Gil Blas de la Revolution” is worthy of some account in this respect, & I have been told that there are novels of Pigault Lebrun which paint several periods of the revolution very vividly.—You have characterized Thiers’ system of ethics most accurately. I am afraid it is too just a specimen of the young French littérateurs, and that this is all they have made, ethically speaking, of their attempt to imitate the Germans in identifying themselves with the past. By dint of shifting their point of view to make it accord with that of whomsoever they are affecting to judge, coupled with their historical fatalism, they have arrived at the annihilation of all moral distinctions except success and not success.—The “Soirées de Neuilly” mentioned by that “English in France” man, I have, & admire it much as a literary work; it also paints, as I believe correctly, some of the aspects of French life under the restoration. But above all, to have a notion of French life as it is, you should get hold of the “Livre des cent et un”. It professes to be a description of Paris under all its aspects; & as all the French writers of the day who are deemed fit to write in it, do so, it must be instructive even if the 101 have painted nothing but the state of their own minds. Then I have various St Simonian documents to send to you. The society is broken up, & a large portion including Duveyrier and d’Eichthal is at Naples: Duveyrier and Stéphane [Flachat?] are now editing a daily paper. I will send you Duveyr[ier’s] letter to me on the subject, which is a very odd one. He professes not to have changed a single opinion, and yet he admits that his whole line of conduct is changed. Those of the St Simonians who retain their connexion with the Pere Suprême and with each other, have made themselves prolètaires and gone off in a body to Lyons to work on the canals and railroads. Enfantin & Michel Chevalier are in prison. Bazard, I think I told you, is dead. The writers in the Revue Encyclopédique have retained all or nearly all that was good in the doctrines of the St Simonians, & now content themselves with prophesying a new religion. Latterly some of them seem to be looking out for it in a strange enough quarter—the East—they think that as the East only partially known, has given us something so good as the Bible, when we know it perfectly it will give us something infinitely better. This seems to me a stranger delusion than even Fourier’s.—Do you know anything of the writings of somebody who writes everywhere & on all subjects and signs Junius Redivivus? probably you only know what he has written in the Examiner, which are chiefly radical personalities and good for very little; but the man has great worth in him, & I should like to send to you various productions of his. He takes so much pains to conceal his name and properties, that he is probably some obscure person who thinks that the disclosure of his obscurity would diminish, not increase, the attention paid to his writings. You should know him however, as far as he can be known from his writings, for I am sure he would interest you more than most people would.—I know something of Miss Martineau personally: her books, some of them at least, deserve I think all the praise they have received: I suspect all the good in her, comes out in them. She is about thirty, bred a “Socinian liberal,” and I believe substantially so still: narrow, and matter-of-fact I should say, in the bad sense; the best about her, being indefatigable industry and a ravenous thirst for knowledge & acquirement of all kinds, at least all intellectual kinds. Brougham has been taking pains to attach her to his car, and has paid so many attentions to her that for the present he has spoiled her: she will, however I think, end by finding him out. She has, I find, the faculty of making herself personally disliked, by means it would seem of inattention to Christ’s percept “judge not, that ye be not judged.”
I hoped to have found your Diderot in the pre[sent] Foreign Quarterly, but was disappointed. I myself have written little, published nothing except some matters on a property tax, which you will have seen in the Examiner. Meanwhile my time, though I can scarcely say it has been employed, has not been wasted; something either good or bad will come of it—let us hope the best.
I have not received those books yet—at all events the loss must be mine, not yours, as it could in no way have been averted by you—perhaps, though that is little to the purpose, it might by me, had I not delayed so long making any enquiry at Longman’s. I have little news of anybody. The Austins are in their usual state—Austin lecturing to six or seven persons only, but those of a kind he likes. This strange Wittenagemote calling itself a reformed parliament is just meeting, & we are to see what it is to do: all that seems certain is, that it is to reform the Church—heaven bless the mark! where, I wonder, will they find a Church to reform.—Buller is by this time in town, but I have not seen him: did you recognize a letter of his in The Examiner respecting election petitions? there will be another tomorrow on the private business of the House —good symptoms—he can work if he chuses, well, & I will hope that he will.
Write again soon, in spite of the slackness of my correspondence—I do not want any of those books and shall not, for a long time to come—keep them therefore as long as you like or till a convenient opportunity offers for sending them. Commend me to Mrs Carlyle, and believe me
Ever faithfully yours,
J. S. Mill
I have been reading Bourrienne —it gives one a much more distinct idea of Napoleon than I had before: but I still cannot, with you, allow the one excellence strength of will, to outweigh the entire want of any virtuous purpose, and the willingness to employ any even the most paltry means.
TO WILLIAM TAIT
28 February 1833
My dear Sir
I send you a paper on Junius Redivivus, for your Magazine, in case you think it worthy of insertion.
By the same opportunity I send a copy of a tract of mine on a topic of great immediate interest —I add another copy which I will thank you to forward to Mr Nichol when you have an opportunity.
Many thanks for the trouble you took about the Professorship. Nobody in this country has been heard of whose claims are at all equal to those of Mr Nichol. When I have anything definite to communicate—I will write to that gentleman direct.
My dear Sir
Ever sincerely yours
J. S. Mill
TO WILLIAM JOHNSON FOX
Friday [March 1, 1833]
Dear Mr Fox
I will write a short paper for the next M.R. on Junius Redivivus.
That article on Mehetabel Wesley is very painful—as it ought to be—but beautiful and valuable, beyond anything that I have read either in the M.R. or elsewhere for many, many months. It is a good number, altogether, though the first article is, I think, the weakest. You seem to me to overpraise Leigh Hunt —I say you, that is, I assume that you are the writer, partly for that reason—I think you often overpraise, & the cause is, the keen sense of enjoyment which all things give you, that have anything of good or beautiful in them. I have fallen under the same accusation but for an opposite reason—the best gave me so little enjoyment compared with what it should give, that I could not afford not to like, even things which were very imperfect indeed.
That at least is over—I have grown excessively fastidious now.
I got home by one o’clock the other night—thanks to an accidental meeting with a cab at the beginning of Islington.
Ever yours faithfully
J. S. Mill.
TO THOMAS CARLYLE
India House, 9th March 1833.
My dear Carlyle
I ought to write oftener; though not exactly for the reason you jocularly give. I ought; and I would, if my letters were, or could be, better worth having: yet, even such as they are, not being altogether valueless to you, they shall become more frequent. Truly I do not wonder that you should desiderate more “heartiness” in my letters, and should complain of being told my thoughts only, not my feelings; especially when, as is evident from your last letter, you stand more than usually in need of the consolation and encouragement of sympathy. But alas! when I give my thoughts, I give the best I have. You wonder at “the boundless capacity Man has of loving”—boundless indeed it is in some natures, immeasurable and inexhaustible: but I also wonder, judging from myself, at the limitedness and even narrowness of that capacity in others. That seems to me the only really insuperable calamity in life; the only one which is not conquerable by the power of a strong will. It seems the eternal barrier between man and man; the natural and impassable limit both to the happiness and to the spiritual perfection of (I fear) a large majority of our race. But few, whose power of either giving or receiving good in any form through that channel, is so scanty as mine, are so painfully conscious of that scantiness as a want and an imperfection: and being thus conscious I am in a higher, though a less happy, state, than the self-satisfied many who have my wants without my power of appreciation. You speak of obstacles which exist for others, but not for me. There are many of Earth’s noblest beings, with boundless capacity of love, whom the falseness and halfness which you speak of, have so hemmed round and so filled with distrust and fear that “they dare not love”. But mine is a trustful nature, and I have an unshakeable faith in others though not in myself. So my case must be left to Nature, I fear: there is no mind-physician who can prescribe for me, not even you, who could help whosoever is helpable: I can do nothing for myself, and others can do nothing for me; all the advice which can be given, (and that is not easily taken) is, not to beat against the bars of my iron cage; it is hard to have no aspiration and no reverence but for an Ideal towards which striving is of no use: is there not something very pitiful in idle Hoping? but to be without Hope were worse?
You see it is cold comfort which I can give to any who need the greatest of comforts, sympathy in moments of dejection; I, who am so far from being in better mental health than yourself, that I need sympathy quite as much, with the added misfortune that if I had it, it could do me no good. When you knew me in London I was in circumstances favourable to your mistaking my character, and judging of it far too advantageously: it was a period of fallacious calm; grounded in an extravagant over-estimate of what I had succeeded in accomplishing for myself, and an unconscious self-flattery and self-worship. All that is at an end; which is a “progress” surely. I would not now take the greatest human felicity on such terms.
But this is enough for the present, in this strain; perhaps I may say more another time. Let me rather think of you, and what can be done to improve your environment. Your picture of Edinburgh is triste enough, and might serve, I fear, a fortiori, for all other provincial towns: there is an odour of literature and intellect about Edinburgh; at Glasgow, Liverpool, & the like, there is little else than the stench of Trade. London is better; far better; bad though even it be. There are here, in infinitesimal proportion indeed, but in absolute number more than a very few, actual believers some, whom I and even you could call true believers; to a very great extent, or entirely: among whom your thoughts would not fall like hand-grenades and put them to flight, but would at least be caught up and cherished, probably planted and reared into fruit. If you determine to leave Craigenputtock, there is surely no place so good as this; at least in the most important of all good things which locality can bring—kindred companionship. But you will have more things to consider, doubtless, that even that greatest of all, and you will not give that less than its proper weight.
I have no news to tell—the Reformed Parliament has not disappointed me any more than you; it is (as Miss Martineau, I understand, says of Brougham) so ridiculously like what I expected: but some of our Utilitarian Radicals are downcast enough, having deemed that the nation had in it more of wisdom and virtue than they now see it has, and that the vicious state of the representation kept this wisdom & virtue out of parliament. At least this good will come out of their disappointment, that they will no longer rely upon the infallibility of Constitution-mongering: they admit that we have as good a House of Commons as any mode of election would have given us, in the present state of cultivation of our people. They are digging a little nearer to the root of the evil now, though they have not got to the tap-root: read Roebuck’s paper on National Education in Tait’s last number; while you have the number in your hand, look at the first article in it, which is his also. He is narrow, still, but the other parliamentary radicals are narrower; all but our friend Charles [Buller], who has the finest understanding of the set, but wants strength of will. For myself, I have well-nigh ceased to feel interested in politics. The time is not yet come for renovation, and the work of destruction goes on of itself without the aid of hands. If any man of clear Insight were in parliament just now, I hardly know what he could hope or aim at, unless to sow in some few of the more impressible minds, the seeds of a renovation which will not be yet, nor soon. The Bad, God wot, is tumbling down quite as fast as is safe where there is nothing of Good ready to be put into its place: what need of help in rolling the ball down hill? I was wont to think that the benches of the House of Commons might be as a pulpit, from whence a voice might make itself heard further and more widely than even from your pulpit and mine, the Periodical Press. But what sort of a voice must it be which could be heard through all this din: what were a single nightingale amidst the cawing and chattering of 657 rooks and magpies and jackdaws? Truly if there were not in the world two or three persons who seem placed here only to shew that all is not hollow and empty and insufficient, one would despair utterly. It is only the knowledge that such persons have an actual existence on the sa[me globe] with us, which keeps alive any interest in anything besides oneself, or even could I but believe that the good I see in a few comes note from any peculiarity of nature, but from the more perfect developement of capacities and powers common to us all—and that the whole race were destined, at however remote a period either of individual or collective existence, to resemble the best specimen of it whom I have myself known—I verily believe, with that faith, I could be content to remain to eternity the solitary exception—
As for work, I have written perhaps of late not less than usual: but (except what has been already mentioned to you) nothing noteworthy that is likely to be soon published, except a notice for Tait of that book of Junius Redivivus, which same book you will soon receive in a parcel through Fraser; along with two articles of mine which I have formerly written to you about; sundry Memoirs of the French Revolution; the Trial of the St Simonians; & two letters which contain all I know of their subsequent proceedings & present state. (Those former books which miscarried have been traced to this house, though I have not been able to recover them.) My parcel for you at present waits only for William Fraser’s permission to send you his copy of Levasseur’s Memoirs: a permission too late applied for, & which has not yet reached me.—Junius Redivivus will interest you, were it only for this, that he too is evidently a believer: a true believer I think it may be said, so far as his faith has yet reached. There is vigour, & a capacity of Insight in him; & if we may judge from the quantity he writes (the quality being never positively bad, & often very good), an altogether indomitable power of work.—I have seen nothing of your writing for a long time: Cochrane, I see, has not yet printed your paper on Diderot; when shall we see it? deeply interesting it is sure to be.—You know something of Fraser’s Magazine: do you know, or can you guess, the authorship of a recent paper on Byron? it looks like the production of some half-fledged pupil of yours.
I have asked an instructed and clever Frenchman now here (one of the editors of the National) about the authenticity of those revolutionary portraits; to which I also am no stranger. He tells me that the genuineness of many of them is very doubtful, and without any hint from me he at once instanced Danton; some of whose relations he knows, and has seen an authentic portrait. Danton he says was ugly, but not ignoble, either in mind or feature, and the portrait in the Collection wrongs him grievously.
As you conjectured, I have lost sight of poor Glen: only because I am utterly ignorant of his place of abode: at his old lodgings they believe him to be still in Scotland, with his brother and such other relatives as he may have. I therefore know not what to do with your letter: poor fellow, it would have gladdened him to the very bottom of his soul to have received it, or but to have known that you had written to him: you probably have better means of discovering his whereabout in Scotland than I have.—Of our common friends or acquaintances I have little to tell. Austin is lecturing to fit audience though few, & will, I think, very probably go to live either at Berlin or at Bonn. He is still subject to his fits of illness, but they are I think less frequent. Mrs Austin is very much as usual: Falk is not yet through the press. The Bullers are all in London. I fear they have lost money by failures in India, not enough to impoverish them, but any loss falls heavily on people who live up to their income.
Yours ever faithfully,
J. S. Mill
I have heard nothing of Detrosier for a long time: I believe he has returned to Manchester with the intention of setting up a school, or else of continuing to go about lecturing on physical subjects as he did formerly with some success.
Make my best remembrances to Mrs Carlyle—I sometimes hear of her through Mrs. Austin. I do not say, “write soon” but I know you will.
TO WILLIAM TAIT
30th March 1833
My dear Sir
I will immediately write to Mr Nichol myself. The appointment of the Professor is still, I understand, quite undetermined—Mr Nichol’s letter to you went to France, with the recommendation of my father and Mr Senior. I think he should decidedly make himself known in any way to Talleyrand, whose opinion would have very great weight.
With respect to the article on Junius Redivivus, I myself have not made up my mind on the question whether the situation of the working classes is on the whole better or worse than it was: I worded the article so as if possible not to commit the Magazine to a decided opinion, but I thought the testimony of a writer who evidently knows much of the working people, an article of evidence very fit to be received, though not sufficient to decide the question. Could not you let the article stand as it is, and express your dissent from the opinion of J.R. in an editorial note? If not, I should like to see the article again before it is printed; not from any fear that you should “spoil” the article, but because when anything is to be left out, a writer almost always thinks it necessary that something else should be put in.
As to the matter of fact in dispute I feel convinced from the great diversity of opinion among equally good observers, & from the result of the enquiries of the Poor Law Commission, that the truth varies very much in different parts of the kingdom & among different classes of workmen.
Are there any other parts of the article which you object to?
I am so little master of my own time, and so little capable moreover of writing with spirit on any subject in which I do not happen to be feeling an interest at the moment, that I do not ven[ture] to promise to write at any given time on a given subject. As for Currency, I think it is blowing over—with regard to France I am so thoroughly sick of the wretched aspect of affairs there that I have written little about them in the Examiner for a long time.
Most truly yours
J. S. Mill.
TO THOMAS CARLYLE
India House 11th & 12th April 1833
My dear Carlyle
I write to you again a letter which I could wish were better worth having—really an apology for a letter: Your last, which you called so, deserved a better name. I would write, if it were only to thank you for having a better opinion of me than I have of myself. It is useless discussing which is right; time will disclose that; though I do not think that my nature is one of the many things into which you see “some ten years farther” than I do. At all events I will not if I can help it give way to gloom and morbid despondency, of which I have had a large share in my short life, and to which I have been indebted for all the most valuable of such insight as I have into the most important matters, neither will this return of it be without similar fruits, as I hope and almost believe; nevertheless I will and must, though it leaves me little enough of energy, master it, or it will surely master me. Whenever it has come to me it has always lasted many months, and has gone off in most cases very gradually.
I have allowed myself to be paralysed more than I should, during the last month or two by these gloomy feelings, though I have had intervals of comparative brightness but they were short. I have therefore a poor account to render of work done. Tait has not yet published that paper on Junius Redivivus, but in the meantime I have written another on the same subject for Fox, (a much better one as I think), which has appeared in the April number, and should have been sent if I had got it in time for Fraser’s parcel: you shall have it by the first opportunity. With this exception I have written little, and read less: but this shall have an end.
You will have received long before this time by Fraser, two tracts of mine, of very different kinds, a political or rather ethico-political one on Church & Corporation Property, and the one I told you of, long ago, in Fox’s periodical, on Poetry and Art. That last you promised me a careful examination and criticism of: I need it much; for I have a growing feeling that I have not got quite into the heart of that mystery, and I want you to shew me how. If you do not teach me you will do what is better, put me in the way of finding out. But I begin to see a not very far distant boundary to all I am qualified to accomplish in this particular line of speculation. I have sent you fewer books than I thought I should have had to send: three volumes of Levasseur, the fourth I have read but Fraser has not yet got it: I shall put it into some future parcel. Of the proportion in which this book is the work of Levasseur himself, and the proportion in which it is got up by Achille Roche the editor, one of the clever young political journalists of the day, I know no more than the book itself indicates, which does not seem to aim at concealing anything. The Soirées de Neuilly I have lent to somebody and omitted to take the precaution of making a memorandum, so I have not been able to get it for this parcel. I have sent two volumes of Memoirs on the Prisons which I have not read; & another volume in which the only thing of value is the Vieux Cordelier by Camille Desmoulins. The account of Robespierre & the others by Villatte is, I believe, worthy of no regard: he was one of the instruments of their tyranny, wrote this book after their fall in hopes of getting himself off, and I believe was guillotined after all. I have also sent the Trial of the St Simonians, a letter from d’Eichthal, & one from Duveyrier. I have lately heard again, both from, and of, the latter. He is now writing, in the Revue des deux Mondes, which he says is the first in France in the department of literature and art, & to which a number of their most celebrated writers, so far as any of their writers can be called celebrated, contribute. He writes to me “je me lance décidément dans le drame et le théâtre. Je fais une grande pièce, mais comme cela ne fait pas vivre pour le moment je cherche à gagner mon pain courrant par quelques articles de journaux. J’ai quelqu’espoir d’avoir à la revue des deux mondes où j’ai beaucoup d’amis, la fonction de rediger la chronique de quinzaine politique et théâtrale. En attendant je n’entends plus parler de d’Eichthal, qui est toujours en Italie.” What I have heard of Duveyrier is, that being condemned to a year’s imprisonment along with Enfantin & Chevalier, he applied through his relations for a pardon from the government, & obtained it, I suppose by declaring his intention of quitting the Father of Humanity. This I heard from a friend of his.—Such part of the St Simonians as remain faithful, or at least a large body of them headed by Barrault, have as I find from the French newspapers, set out for the East (Constantinople I was told was their first destination) pour chercher la femme libre. This seems greater madness than I had imputed to them. It is among the inmates of a harem that they expect to find a woman capable of laying down or as they say revealing the new moral law which is to regulate the relations between the sexes! it will be lucky for them if the search is attended with no disagreeable personal consequences to them except only that of not finding. These St Simonians have done so much good, that one regrets they were not capable of doing more. One of the seceding members writes of them in the Revue Encyclopédique that the St Simonian society is the only spiritual fruit of the Revolution of 1830: it is literally so: the excessive avidity & barrenness of the French mind has never been so strikingly displayed: there are such numbers of talkers & writers so full of noise and fury, keeping it up for years and years, and not one new thought, new to them I mean, has been struck out by all the collision since I first began attending to these matters, except only those which the St Simonians have set afloat among them. It is no wonder that minds so little productive as the French should run wild with an interesting truth when they have had it impressed upon them. St Simon really for a Frenchman was a great man. Enfantin likewise pourrait bien être aussi une espèce de grand homme as Voltaire said: the others were probably mere redactors and amplifiers of their thoughts, a talent as common in France, as the power of original thinking seems to be rare.—If you can get hold of it at Edinburgh, read a novel called Arthur Coningsby, by John Sterling: he is one of the men who would most interest you among those here; and his book will interest you; I should much like to know what it looks like when seen from your point of view.
Though I am sick of politics myself, I do not despair of improvement that way; you hear the cackle of the noisy geese who surround the building, I see a little of what is going on inside. I can perfectly sympathize in Bonaparte’s contempt of the government of bavards: talking is one thing and doing another: but while every corner of the land has sent forth its noisy blockhead to talk, over head I am near enough to see the real men of work, and of head for work, who are quietly getting the working part of the machine into their hands, and will be masters of it as far as anybody can be with that meddling and ignorant assembly lawfully empowered to be their masters. After that let even one man come, who with honesty, & intellect to appreciate these working men, has the power of leading a mob,—no rare combination formerly, though a very rare one now; and there will be as good a government as there can be until there shall be a better people. It is a real satisfaction to me to know, & in some cases to have even been able somewhat to help on, several men who are now gaining by dint of real honesty & capacity a considerable and increasing influence though not an externally visible one, over the underworkings of our government. Some of them are as I am convinced, among the very fittest persons in the country to have that influence, fit or not as they may be in a greater or less degree for still higher purposes. A chacun selon sa capacité is far enough from being realised, to be sure, but the real deviation great as it is, falls far short of the apparent. It is much more in their apparent than in their real power that such men as Brougham and Althorp are exalted above their proper station.
Fonblanque you see goes on hammering at the politics of the day, for better for worse: I have seen less than usual of him lately. The public mind is coming round to him: the popularity of the Reform Ministry will soon be at as low an ebb as that of the poor Patriot King. How long is this dreary work to last, before a man appears? Mrs. Austin is at present laid up with the prevalent influenza, a sort of cold accompanied with fever: she and her husband seem to have almost resolved to emigrate into Germany this autumn. The Bullers are here: Charles has gone the Western Circuit this spring, and got some briefs: I have increasing hopes of his steadiness and power of work. I have little to tell of any one else whom you know here. Is De Quincey still in Edinburgh? do you ever see him? and what do you think of him? Your criticism on Miss Martineau is, I think, just: she reduces the laissez faire system to absurdity as far as the principle goes, by merely carrying it out to all its consequences. In the meantime that principle like other negative ones has work to do yet, work, namely, of a destroying kind, & I am glad to think it has strength left to finish that, after which it must soon expire: peace be with its ashes when it does expire, for I doubt much if it will reach the resurrection. I wish you could see something I have written lately about Bentham & Benthamism —but you can’t.
My best thanks to Mrs Carlyle for the few words of kindness she added to your last letter—I keep so little note of time that I know not whether I have redeemed my promise of writing after a less interval than usual—but you will write soon.—
Yours ever faithfully
J. S. Mill
I should have availed myself of the opportunity you afforded me to make acquaintance with Leigh Hunt, did I not find it absolutely necessary, if I mean either to work or to enjoy society, to restrict rather than to extend the number of my acquaintance. He is worth knowing, and a time may come for that among other things.—Have you seen Archibald Alison’s History of the French Revolution? If you have, just tell me whether it is worth reading, or reviewing—I suppose it is wrong, when one has taken the trouble to accumulate knowledge on a subject, not to work it up if one can into some shape useful to others—and if I am to write about the F.R. it may as well be while my recollections of the original authorities are fresh.
TO THOMAS CARLYLE
India House 18th May 1833
My dear Carlyle
By this time you are again in your wilds, and have had time to feel yourselves at home and settled there, and you are expecting a letter from me—and I have two to acknowledge and if so might be to repay. I have many things to say, too; at least they seem many before I begin to say them; they will seem few before I have done.—First, then, I have read your paper on Diderot. Of the man, and of his works and of his cotemporaries, so far as I think at all, I think very much as you do: yet I have found more to differ from in that article of yours than in anything of your writing I commonly do. The subject seems to have carried you, and me as your reader, over a range of topics on which there has always been a considerable extent of undiscussed and unsifted divergence of opinion (pardon this galimatias of mixed metaphors) between us two; on some of which too I sometimes think that the distance has rather widened than narrowed of late. That may be my loss, and my fault; at all events it seems to me that there has been on my part something like a want of courage in avoiding, or touching only perfunctorily, with you, points on which I thought it likely that we should differ. That was a kind of reaction from the dogmatic disputatiousness of my former narrow and mechanical state. I have not any great notion of the advantage of what the “free discussion” men, call the “collision of opinions,” it being my creed that Truth is sown and germinates in the mind itself, and is not to be struck out suddenly like fire from a flint by knocking another hard body against it: so I accustomed myself to learn by inducing others to deliver their thoughts, and to teach by scattering my own, and I eschewed occasions of controversy (except occasionally with some of my old Utilitarian associates). I still think I was right in the main, but I have carried both my doctrine and my practice much too far: and this I know by one of its consequences which I suppose would be an agreeable one to most men, viz. that most of those whom I at all esteem and respect, though they may know that I do not agree with them wholly, yet, I am afraid, think, each in their several ways, that I am considerably nearer to agreeing with them than I actually am. In short, I know that I have been wrong, by finding myself seated in the Gig much more firmly than I have any business as an honest man to be. So you see, I am only about to have in all its fullness, that sincerity of speech for which you give me credit. I only had it thus far hitherto, that all I have ever spoken, by word of mouth or in writing, I have firmly believed, and have spoken it solely because it was my belief. Yet even that, in these days, was much, but not enough, seeing that it depends upon my own will to make it more.—The result of all which is that with you as well as with several others very unlike you, there will probably be a more frequent and free communication of dissent than has hitherto been, even though the consequence should be to be lowered in your opinion; that indeed if it were to be the result would be conclusive proof that I have been acting wrong hitherto, because it would shew that for being thought so highly of I had been partly indebted to not being thoroughly known—which I am sure is the case oftener than I like to think of.
You see there will be so much the more to talk over when we meet: and that will be this summer, unless, which is always possible, I should not be in a state of mind in which meeting with any one is profitable or delightful to me. I believe I am the least helpable of mortals—I have always found that when I am in any difficulty or perplexity of a spiritual kind I must struggle out of it by myself. I believe, if I could, whenever anything is spiritually wrong with me I should shut myself up from the human race, and not see face of man until I had got firm footing again on some solid basis of conviction, and could turn what comes into me from others into wholesome nutriment. I am often in a state almost of scepticism, and have no theory of Human Life at all, or seem to have conflicting theories, or a theory which does not amount to a Belief. This is only a recent state, and as I well know, a passing one, and my convictions will be firmer and the result of a larger experience when I emerge from this state, than before: but I have never found any advantage in communion with others while my own mind was unsettled at its foundations, and if I am not much mended when my vacation-time comes round, I will rather postpone a meeting with you until I am.
I have neither written nor read much since I last wrote to you, except one or two trifling things in the Examiner: including however one of a somewhat more weighty kind (though not much) which you will see in a week or two probably in that paper, under my old signature A.B. I think I shall write more now, because I begin to see some things a little clearer, though many things which I once thought I understood—I now believe cannot be known with true Insight but by means of faculties which cannot be acquired and which to me have not been given, save in most scanty measure. Alison’s book which I asked you about, I have procured and read: the man is quite inconceivably stupid and twaddling, I think beyond anybody who has attempted to write elaborately on the subject. He has no research; the references with which he loads his margin are chiefly to compilations. I could write something about him or rather about his subject; but I could employ myself better unless there were some widely-circulated periodical that would publish it: the Edinburgh Review perhaps would, were it not that I should wish to shew up Macaulay’s ignorance of the subject and assumption of knowledge, as shewn in that very review.
The long-missing parcel of books has at length turned up, and I have received intimation that the second is at Longman’s. I did not mean you to return those Repositories, but they are not, to you, worth my sending back again. Keep all I send you henceforth. On learning that my parcel was not in time for Fraser’s monthly packet, (which I thought I had taken care that it should be) I sent two more numbers of the Repository to be added to it, in one of which is the article I told you of, concerning Junius Redivivus. The passage you saw quoted about Books and Men, was from that; so there is not evidence therein of “another mystic”; so much the worse. I was much interested by learning that your recent thoughts have been so nearly of the same kind; tell me what you have thought since, especially since you have thought of the question practically, as altering your own future choice of a mode of activity. The difficulty of comparing two magnitudes and distinguishing which is greatest, is as well all know, vastly enhanced when the magnitudes themselves are of almost infinitesimal smallness, and that unhappily seems to be the case at present with the portion of good, that one can see clearly a prospect of achieving in any course that one can chuse. Yet it seems to me that if one had a proper stage and proper tools, more is to be accomplished just now by the doer of the deed than by the sayer of the word—words are so little listened to now but when they are the prelude or the accompaniment to some deed; my word again is partly intelligible to many more persons than yours is, because mine is presented in the logical and mechanical form which partakes most of this age and country, yours in the artistical and poetical (at least in one sense of those words though not the sense I have been recently giving them) which finds least entrance into any minds now, except when it comes before them as mere dilettantism and pretends not to make any serious call upon them to change their lives. But then, what career is open to the doer, if either in your position or in mine? write to me what has been passing in you on this matter, whether of a general kind or as affecting yourself individually.
I am sure I have twenty other things to say, but cannot think of them at this instant; I shall write again the sooner. Let me ask you this one question; Have you seen the book published by the Poor Law Commissioners? If you have not, let me send it to you—often you have complained how little of the state of a people is to be learnt from books; much is to be learned of it from that book, both as to their physical and their spiritual state. The result is altogether appalling to the dilettanti, and the gigmen, and the ignorant and timid in high stations; to me it has been, & will be I think to you, rather consoling, because we knew the thing to be unspeakably bad, but this I think shews that it may be considerably mended with a considerably less amount of intellect, courage, and virtue in the higher classes, than had hitherto appeared to me to be necessary. Any way the book cannot fail to interest you, because any authentic information as to any human thing is interesting to you. I regard this enquiry with satisfaction under another aspect too; that it has been more honestly and more ably performed than anything which has been done under the authority of Govt. since I remember: and has, in consequence, been the means of getting some of the best men I know, for such purposes, put into other work of the same kind, and decidedly embarked in the same career. You will find among them my friend John Wilson whom you have seen; he is now Secretary to the Factory Commission. Chadwick also, the ablest of them all, may be said to be at the head of that Commission.
I know not of any news to tell. I have seen little of Fonblanque lately. The Austins are still bent upon going to live in Germany after the conclusion of his present course of Lectures. At the Literary Union I can learn no more of Glen than I knew before. Kindest remembrances to Mrs. Carlyle.
Charles Buller is well, and in spirits, and increasingly disposed to work; he will not be lost, it were pity he should: his career will be politics I think, not the best career, far from that, but he will I now think, demean himself therein like a true man: his superiority to all those people is even now, little as he has yet done, beginning to be felt, and he is gaining influence which will enable him to utter such truth as is in him with some certainty of being listened to—he is pure-minded and not a self-seeker, I am sure of that.
TO WILLIAM JOHNSON FOX
 May 1833
Dear Mr Fox
If there are any rumours that I was writing anything for the M.R. of this month, I am sorry I cannot confirm them. I have abundance of vague intentions of writing for you, but I have been very idle of late, and in fact never have been in a state more unfit for work; from various causes, the chief of which is, I think, a growing want of interest in all the subjects which I understand, and a growing sense of incapacity ever to have real knowledge of or insight into the subjects in which alone I shall ever again feel a strong interest. I have written nothing lately but a short article on that “Pauline”, which will not, I believe, be too long for the Examiner, and if so, will probably appear there.That I have written chiefly because you wished it. I fear there would scarcely be time to write anything which you would care for, now, this month, but if there is any subject within my range, on which you wish to have two or three pages only, tell me so and I will try what I can do.
I feel so unequal to any of the higher moral and aesthetic subjects, that because I would rather write something than nothing, I have had thoughts of offering you a few pages on a stupid book lately published by a man named Alison, and pretending to be a history of the French Revolution. I am sick of that subject, but I could write something on it which perhaps would be of more use to the M.R. than something better would be—your having got over the “Unitarian storm” with so little damage to the vessel is a real victory.
I knew not that you were to be in K.T. on Wednesday, and I seldom go there without some special reasons on that day of the week, for as it cannot be right in present circumstances to be there every evening, none costs so little to give up as that in which there is a much shorter time and only in the presence of others. Had I known of your going I would have gone—as it is, I must take my compensation at Clapton—as I will very soon.
I did know the neighbourhood of Limpsfield—part of it at least—in my childhood, and have walked to it and about it since, but am not familiar with it. I do not know the particular walk you allude to, though your description enables me to conceive it almost as if I knew it. I mean to renew my acquaintance with Limpsfield, and cultivate it, and perfect it—that seems to me the only place on earth where it is possible to be happy—although it is you who have been there, and not I.—should I say although? and not rather because?
Does the Political Cyclopœdia plan go on thrivingly? where in heaven and earth are you to find writers? It is very easy to find people who can write ill, but very difficult to collect together even one or two who can write well, especially when the purpose is didactic, not controversial.
J. S. Mill.
TO WILLIAM JOHNSON FOX
[May 20, 1833]
Dear Mr Fox
I am obliged to write in great haste, so I will only say this that I will write something on Alison but that will be too late for this number—and that I will be with you at Clapton as soon as I am allowed by being off duty at Kensington where my father whose sight is disabled for the present by inflammation, has need of me to read to him. He may have recovered by Wednesday, but at any rate I cannot dine with you for I shall not get away from this place early enough for that. Au reste I will come to you in a day or two whether he has recovered or not.
J. S. Mill
TO WILLIAM JOHNSON FOX
My dear Mr Fox
It is really not my fault that the French Revolution is not yet completed; you shall have it, I think I may say, in two days at most. It will be a poor thing though—
As for me, I am going to K.T. [Kent Terrace] today, despite its being Wednesday. However meet we must, and soon too.
W.A.is wrong, as Fonblanque was. I thought so from the first, & as soon as I found others thought differently, I made the matter sure by enquiry at the Colonial Office, from the highest authority (nearly) namely the head of the West Indies Department there. He tells me (as I expected) that the slave is to pay nothing directly or indirectly towards his ransom. He is to be free ¼th now, & entirely in twelve years; & is not to be required to work for his master (or to work at all) during the ¼th nor is his master to be required to give him employment nor to pay him any rate of wages. So all commentary on the manifold absurdities & impossibilities of that part of the plan is useless now when it is abandoned.
I wrote a notice of “Pauline” for the Examiner which could not be inserted, & I am to alter & enlarge it for Tait.
J. S. Mill.
TO WILLIAM JOHNSON FOX
July 4, 1833
My dear Mr Fox
I am afraid I shall altogether forfeit all character with you for knowing my own mind or for telling it, by so constantly talking about going to see you, and never doing it. So I will not talk about it any more, but will do it all the sooner; & in the mean time I write to say how happy I shall be to bear my testimony to the Cause, by maintaining it in the M.R. in the manner you propose, against the threatened attack. Of all propositions which could have been made to me for writing anything either in the M.R. or elsewhere, that is what I should like best—because it is the subject I am most interested in, and to be treated in the manner in which I think myself most equal to treating it. I have always done more justice to a subject when I have treated it controversially than when I have attempted a systematic exposition. I should not do for the pulpit, for I am always cold when I “have all the palaver to myself”: and besides I always find most to say when I do not feel under an obligation to say all that can be said.
Pray let me know when I am to begin, that is, let me have the paper I am to reply to, as early as may be.
Yours ever faithfully
J. S. Mill
I think I have found out Pel Verjuice, but I do not want to be told who he is—I like the new number of the M.R. very much, except the article on the education of women —
TO THOMAS CARLYLE
[London,] 5th July 1833.
My dear Carlyle
I wrote a short letter to you intending to send it by your brother when he went to Craigenputtoch; but he did not find time to call on me again and I having very foolishly mislaid his address, did not find out his place of abode till some hours after he had left town. As the letter was very short and had little in it, I cancelled it and determined to write a longer and better; which however I have not set about till now. In the meantime I have received your letter, which was welcome on many accounts: on none more than because it recognises in express words, what has always been tacitly recognised but seldom spoken or written about by either of us, the negative part of the relation between us—the fact that we still differ in many of our opinions, perhaps as you say (though of this I am not sure) throughout the range of a “half-universe.” I certainly shall not hesitate to shew you “the length and breadth of my dissent.” But the truth is, I had persuaded myself for a long time that the difference was next to nothing; was such as counted for little in my estimation at least, being rather in some few of our speculative premises than in any of our practical conclusions. When I came to review my opinions and ask myself after a considerable period of fresh thought and fresh experience, the deliberate question, which at some periods assumes a more serious and solemn aspect than at others, what I believed? what were my convictions? I found that they were, and for the present could not but be, more materially divergent from yours than I had for a time believed. As soon as I felt quite sure of this, I told you so; and though I wrote as if in a sceptical and unsettled state of mind, the very fact that I wrote at all about it proved that I had come into a more settled state. I think that I have obtained something like a firm footing, and additional rather than new light; I can hardly say that I have changed any of my opinions, but I seem to myself to know more, from increased observation of other people, and increased experience of my own feelings. All which is thus acquired must be clear gain; it is increased knowledge of the only valuable kind, knowledge of Realities; and it must be for want of intellect or for want of will if with additional ground to build upon, I cannot raise my edifice of Thought to a greater height and so look round and see more of Truth than I could see before. But of all these things we shall both write and speak hereafter. Concerning my journey to Craigenputtoch all I can at present say is that if I go not thither I shall go nowhere else. However it will not, at all events be in August, for in that month my father will be absent, and it is inconvenient for both of us to be away from the India House at the same time. It cannot be till he return.—I had the pleasure of an hour’s conversation with Dr. Carlyle on his passing through London, and was glad to learn that he is to be an inmate of Craigenputtoch all this summer and autumn.—My occupations for some time back have been rather internal than external; I have not been working much, but much has been working in me. I have written little, partly because I was better employed in obtaining whereof to write, than in writing, partly also because of press of business at the India House, and of certain temporary domestic occupations in my father’s house. I have completed scarcely anything but a poor, flimsy, short paper on that book of Alison’s, which I undertook in an evil hour, when the subject was as remote as possible from those which were occupying my thoughts and feelings at the time; and which I accordingly performed exceedingly ill, and was obliged to cancel the part which had cost me most labour. What is left, (it is not worth your perusal) will appear in the Monthly Repository: short as the whole is, it has been divided into two parts, of which one has appeared: it had been better to reserve the whole for another number. I shall in future never write on any subject which my mind is not full of when I begin to write; unless the occasion is such that it is better the thing were ill done than not at all, that being the alternative.—What you say of that paper of mine on Poetry and Art is exactly what I think respecting it myself. I do not think it contains anything erroneous, but I feel that it is far from going to the bottom of the subject, or even very deep into it; I think I see somewhat further into it now, and shall perhaps understand it in time. I think I mentioned to you that I have carried the investigation (rightly or wrongly as it may be) one step farther in a paper (being a review of a new poem) which I wrote for the Examiner: it proved too long for Fonblanque, and it is to appear in Tait, after such additions and alterations as I see it absolutely requires, and which I have not yet found time to give it. You say, you wish that you could help me in this matter; you can, and do, help me in all such matters, not by logical definition, which as I think I have said or written before, I agree with you in thinking not to be your peculiar walk of usefulness; but in suggesting deep and pregnant thoughts which might never have occurred to me, but which I am quite able when I have them to subject to all needful logical manipulation. This brings to my mind that I have never explained what I meant when writing once before in this strain I called you a Poet and Artist. I conceive that most of the highest truths, are, to persons endowed by nature in certain ways which I think I could state, intuitive; that is, they need neither explanation nor proof, but if not known before, are assented to as soon as stated. Now it appears to me that the poet or artist is conversant chiefly with such truths and that his office in respect to truth is to declare them, and to make them impressive. This, however, supposes that the reader, hearer, or spectator is a person of the kind to whom those truths are intuitive. Such will of course receive them at once, and will lay them to heart in proportion to the impressiveness with which the artist delivers and embodies them. But the other and more numerous kind of people will consider them as nothing but dreaming or madness: and the more so, certainly, the more powerful the artist, as an artist: because the means which are good for rendering the truth impressive to those who know it, are not the same and are often absolutely incompatible with those which render it intelligible to those who know it not. Now this last I think is the proper office of the logician or I might say the metaphysician, in truth he must be both. The same person may be poet and logician, but he cannot be both in the same composition: and as heroes have been frustrated of glory “carent quia vate sacro,” so I think the vates himself has often been misunderstood and successfully cried down for want of a Logician in Ordinary, to supply a logical commentary on his intuitive truths. The artist’s is the highest part, for by him alone is real knowledge of such truths conveyed: but it is possible to convince him who never could know the intuitive truths, that they are not inconsistent with anything he does know; that they are even very probable, and that he may have faith in them when higher natures than his own affirm that they are truths. He may then build on them and act on them, or at least act nothing contradictory to them. Now this humbler part is, I think, that which is most suitable to my faculties, as a man of speculation. I am not in the least a poet, in any sense; but I can do homage to poetry. I can to a very considerable extent feel it and understand it, and can make others who are my inferiors understand it in proportion to the measure of their capacity. I believe that such a person is more wanted than even the poet himself; that there are more persons living who approximate to the latter character than to the former. I do not think myself at all fit for the one; I do for the other; your walk I conceive to be the higher. Now one thing not useless to do would be to exemplify this difference by enlarging in my logical fashion upon the difference itself: to make those who are not poets, understand that poetry is higher than Logic, and that the union of the two is Philosophy—I shall write out my thoughts more at length somewhere, and somewhen, probably soon. Yours faithfully,
J. S. Mill
I am so far from seeing any intolerance in your dislike of Speculation, unless it be either of the highest kind, or interesting for the sake of its interesting author, that I am exactly in the same case. I shall attend to this in making up my parcels for you hereafter. I have Madame Roland’s memoirs and will send them with the Poor-Law book and what else of interesting I can get together.—What I said about “infinitesimal smallness” did not refer to the work itself but to the effect—no doubt in another sense, all who do all they can, do equally, and that infinitely. But when we are to chuse what we shall do, we must compare the results, and the difficulty is how to compare things infinitely small. Tell me what you think about this, for it will perhaps lead to the root of some of the chief differences of opinion between us—
TO JOHN PRINGLE NICHOL
10th July, 1833.
My dear Sir,
Every letter I write to you begins with apologies for not writing sooner, and certainly not before they are due; though if “good intentions” might suffice (which they never can), I have been intending to write any time for the last four or five weeks. The first thing I have to say is that I fear there is no chance of the French Professorship. Bowring has returned, I have seen him, and he says that the choice of a professor has been retarded by the impossibility of an agreement between the body who chuse and the ministry who confirm. “De Broglie and Guizot,” he says in a note to me, “won’t appoint Comte” (he married one of Say’s daughters, you may know him as the author of the Censeur Européen and a work on Legislation), “and the professors and members of the Institute won’t appoint anybody else, and the matter rests there. Rossi” (the friend of Dumont, professor of droit public or something of the kind at Geneva) “has been sent for to Paris and is arrived; but it is doubtful whether he will be put forward by the Ministry. Comte seems determined not to give way.” I do not think Comte the fit man—the most that can be said is that he will not do harm or discredit the science; but he is not profound in it. He is an excellent man, however, and the new Academy of Moral and Political Science in the Institute have recently shown some spirit by choosing him their perpetual secretary, contrary to the wishes of the Government, who oppose him because he is against them in politics. Their first idea of appointing an English economist was much better, but, perhaps, they would have found it difficult where the candidate had not established a high European reputation, to make out such a case as would justify in the eyes of Frenchmen the preference of a foreigner, however highly qualified, over “native talent,” for it is not with us in political economy as it has long been with Italy in music—there is not a prejudice in our favour—therefore there must be a natural prejudice against us.
What you say in your last on the extreme desirableness of banding together the English Gironde is perfectly just and has been often thought of by almost all the leading philosophic reformers here, never more than lately; but it never was brought to any practical result nor, I fear, will it until the crisis becomes considerably more imminent than at present. The lamentable truth is that our Gironde, like the other Gironde, are a rope of sand; what our friend Tait (or rather the author of his first article for May) said of them is not much, if at all, exaggerated. There are no leaders, and without leaders there can never be organization. There is no man or men of commanding talents among the Radicals in public life, or those whose position in respect of pecuniary independence enables them to put themselves forward personally. If there were but two or three men with your energy, what you propose might be done, and much else.
About a twelvemonth ago steps were actually taken for the formation of a Society for the Diffusion of Moral and Political Knowledge. Hume had consented to be chairman, Warburton vice-chairman, Grote treasurer, J. Romilly secretary, and there was a very creditable list of names for the Committee; they were to cause works to be written, and they were also to sanction others which were not written for them. No arrangements had been made, however, for the commencement of any work but one, which was only to be sanctioned, a Political Penny Magazine, of which Roebuck was to be the editor, and the appearance of which was to depend on alterations in the law, or on the chances of being able to evade it. The Ministry made private intimations to the parties concerned in this Penny Magazine Scheme, that the taxes on knowledge were to be taken off; fully believing this, they suspended their proceedings until that event. The Ministry broke faith with them, and in the meantime Roebuck got into Parliament, everybody’s mind became otherwise occupied, and nothing was done.
I have little hope of any of the present race of parliamentary radicals. Some of them are full of crotchets, others fastidious and overloaded with petty scrupulosity; none have energy, except Roebuck and Buller; Roebuck has no judgment, Buller no patient persevering industry. Those two, however, will improve, and we shall hear more of them every year; all the others will remain, I think, very much the same men they are now. There is really more to be hoped from new converts like Clay and Gisborne, who are in the habit of uttering their sentiments boldly, than from the men who were Radicals in Tory times, and got the habit of prudence and temporizing which they cannot break themselves of even now.
What are we driving to? I do not expect a Revolution, because I think any unanimous demand of the people of this country will always be yielded to, as it was last year; but it is difficult to conjecture what acts of injustice they might, under circumstances of excitement, be provoked to demand. I expect a series of such Parliaments as this, with a step gained at every election. The cause of the evil is one which I foresaw and predicted long before—the anomaly of a democratic constitution in a plutocratically constituted society. Till changes take place which can only be remotely promoted by any Reform Bill, the people will continue from necessity to select their representatives from the same class as before, avoiding only those who are committed to principles which the people abhor. The consequence is they must take the feebles. All the marked and energetic men in the higher classes, a few excepted, were committed against Reform; that was the natural consequence of their education and the circumstances of those times. The people, therefore, threw them aside, and selected men from the second or third rank, who were not committed because it had never been thought worth while to ask their opinion, such men as would say they were for the Reform Bill, and the Whig Ministers. But further than this, they were not at all better than their class in opinions or feelings, and inferior to their predecessors in talent and judgment. They have acted as such men were sure to do: what will happen? There will be a fresh purgation; these being now disgraced will be thrown aside, and there will be a third levy from the self-same class, consisting of the same sort of men or still feebler ones, but who will say they are for the particular measure then most called for at the particular time by the people, and most recently resisted by the present house. That particular measure will then be carried, and all other things will go as badly as they do now. The same next time, and so on till the real waking minds of the country renounce money-getting, and till they are paid for devoting their time to legislation.
Have you considered the effect of the proposed Commutation of Tithe? The compulsory part of it is I perceive to be postponed till another year. As it will stop the increase of tithe at least in corn—as no new land, or new improvements will pay any tithe—it strikes me that the commuted tithe will continue wholly, or partially, a tax on the consumer, until the least productive land or capital shall, by the extension of cultivation and population, yield a rent equal to the commuted tithe, and after that it will become wholly a rent-charge. Do you think I am right? You continue I see to write with great spirit and excellent effect in Tait. I am much gratified by your favourable opinion of my tract on endowments. You have, I dare say, recognized me in The Examiner on the Bank Question; the article was superficial, and could not consistently with its purpose be otherwise. Nobody, except you and me, seems to write on that side of the question. My father quite agrees with us. Pray do not imitate my neglect in not writing soon, and believe me,
Yours very faithfully,
J. S. Mill.
You promised me a letter on the Property Tax—I never was more in need of it.
TO JOHN STERLING
12 July 1833
My dear Sterling
I have been very long in writing to you and have only time to write a few words now—Taylor’s answer to your question is briefly this—“I have not heard of any plans of the Govt for the education of the negroes, nor do I expect to hear of any. Certainly if there were to be any Commission of enquiry on the subject, Sterling could not employ his time more serviceably to the ends which he has at heart than by getting himself placed upon it—nor would the Govt be likely to meet with any person half so well qualified to conduct such an enquiry.” So much for these statesmen of ours—they always remind me of what Southey said to me at Keswick—pointing in a little Bible-book for children in size and shape an inch cube, to a wood-cut of Samson with a gate on his back about twenty times his own size, he said “that is like Lord John Russell carrying away the British constitution” & sure enough that is about the proportion between the men & the work they have in hand.
I suppose you have by this time returned from your journey up the Rhine. I shall be much interested by the impression German literature and philosophy make upon you on a nearer acquaintance. That question between Schelling’s view and Schleiermacher’s is the one great question on the subject of religion. My own views as far as I have any fixed ones are much nearer to Schleiermacher’s than to Schelling’s and Coleridge’s. With them I do not at all see as my mind is at present constituted any chance of my ultimately agreeing. I think I am even further from them than I was. I suspect that your mind and mine have passed that point in their respective orbits where they approximate most—and that our premisses are now more nearly the same than our conclusions are likely to be. I think I am becoming more a Movement-man than I was, instead of less—I do not mean merely in politics, but in all things—& that you are becoming more and more inclined to look backward for good. However I am talking without book, for who in these times knows what he shall think rightest & best six months hence? Yours faithfully
J. S. Mill
TO THOMAS CARLYLE
[Late July, 1833]
My dear Carlyle
This note will be given to you by Mr. R. W. Emerson of Boston (United States) who having been long a reader of your writings, is desirous to take the first opportunity of making your acquaintance. Mr. Emerson met with our friend Gustave d’Eichthal at Rome, and was by him referred to me as one who could give him the introduction to you which he wished for—I have great pleasure in doing so—Yours faithfully
J. S. Mill.
TO THOMAS CARLYLE
India House, 2nd August 1833.
My dear Carlyle
This letter will be as you desire, extremely biographical: I was conscious myself of a deficiency in that department, in my last: which however was wholly autobiographic; for what is my life made up of, in the main, but my thoughts and feelings? I have no actions to relate except occasionally the promulgation of some thoughts and feelings. But I am now to speak of others rather than of myself. And first, of those in whom you are most interested. You have probably heard that the Austins do not quit England. The Chancellor is to appoint or has actually appointed a Commission to digest the Criminal Law and Austin is to be one of the members. This is work for him of the kind which he most likes, and for which he is best fitted: it is also a provision for him: he is to have £500 a year while it lasts, and it will doubtless lead to other employment in the same line. All his good fortune comes to him at the same time: the four Inns of Court, chiefly at the instigation of Bickersteth (the most valuable man in the profession of the law—do you know about him?), have resolved to found two Lectureships, one of English Law, the other of Civil Law and Jurisprudence: this last it is not impossible that Austin may be appointed to: it is compatible with his other employment and will add £450 to his income. So he is likely to be placed in the best circumstances possible for him, whether we consider his usefulness or his own happiness. There are no fears now but for his health: I have always thought that anxiety was the chief cause of his frequent illnesses; they have been, however of late, considerably more frequent than formerly though less severe—he is ill now; as soon as he is fit to travel they are going out of town, probably to some place on the north coast of Devonshire, where they will remain till October, when he returns to commence his new duties. Mrs. Austin is now overloaded with proposals for translating; her fame as a translator has been, very deservedly, raised much higher by this “Falk.” As she will not now be at all dependent on the profits (McCulloch would take me to task—I should say wages) of her literary undertakings, she will now be at liberty to consult only her own judgment of what will do most good: she will persevere, I have no doubt, and be useful.—You ask me about Grote: I happen to be able to tell you more about him than almost any one, having been intimate with him almost from my boyhood, though less so than formerly in proportion as I have diverged from his opinions: he is a Utilitarian; in one sense I am so too, but he is so in rather a narrow sense; has therefore a belief, a firm one, in him most deep and conscientious, for which chiefly he lives and for which he would die. He is a highly instructed man; an excellent scholar; has made great progress in writing a History of Greece, some of the manuscript of which I have seen; it will be a work of great, though not of consummate merit: he was one of the first of his rank and station to proclaim strong Benthamic-Radical opinions; he published a pamphlet of merit, in defence thereof against the Edinburgh Review, as long ago as 1820, when not so old as I am now, and another two years ago just before the Reform Bill. He is a man of good, but not first-rate intellect: hard and mechanical; not at all quick; with less subtlety than any able and instructed man I ever knew: with much logical and but little aesthetic culture; narrow therefore; even narrower than most other Utilitarians of reading and education: more a disciple of my father than of any one else: industrious, brave, not very active or spirited; universally beloved for his extreme goodness, his simplicity, uprightness, and gentleness; resembling Ricardo in that particular, though a far inferior man to him in powers of intellect. He is by far the most considered of the radicals in the H. of C. [House of Commons] is more nearly their leader than any one else, & would be so altogether but that he has not the kind of talents which fit a man for a parliamentary leader; he has not sufficient readiness, decision, & presence of mind. After all I have said of him you will be surprised to learn that he reads German. He will be a man of considerable weight in politics soon. As I am on politics, I will ask you if you have seen, except in the abridgment which the Examiner will give, Roebuck’s speech on proposing a resolution for the establishment of a national education of the whole people: I should like you to see it, for it is a better exhibition of him than I think you have seen: it has raised him considerably, I think, in most people’s estimation, which is seldom matter of praise but is really so in this instance. It was beginning to be supposed that he could do nothing: he has shewn now that he can; and we must add him to Grote and Buller to make up the only three among the radical members who have not disappointed the expectations of their friends. Of these three, and of all the rest, Buller is as you once said the only one who possesses any the smallest genius. But several of them may be and will be valuable as ‘honest Artisans.’—I can tell you something of Detrosier. He is again in London, and has some prospect of picking up a living as a lecturer on experimental physics: he is, it seems, accustomed to the craft, and qualified for it; he has made the attempt even here with success, and the only doubt about his having several profitable engagements arises from the freshness of his fame as Secretary to the Political Union. Assuredly Radicalism is not yet the road to wealth and honours, though its turn I think is coming. In the meantime Detrosier, poor fellow, with a foolish wife and two or three children, has some difficulty in making the two ends meet; however he has friends here, who will not let him be in want.—I had a short note from Gustave d’Eichthal the other day, dated from Rome, merely to introduce an American named Emerson, who had sought an introduction to me as a means of obtaining one to you: this I of course gave him; he is going into Scotland and may possibly seek you out: he appears to be a reader and professes to be an admirer of your writings; therefore you might possibly do him some good: but from one or two conversations I have had with him, I do not think him a very hopeful subject. Of Fonblanque I have not seen very much lately; except (as you have) through the Examiner: in which I myself have written very little of late: almost the only paper I have sent to him for some time you will see in the next or the next but one: I will let you find it out if you can; there is not much in it; it is all political. I have indeed written less of late than for a long time before; no longer for the reason I formerly mentioned, but literally from the pressure of comparatively trivial occupations, yet which in the particular circumstances were not such. The little remainder of my little paper on Alison’s book has just appeared: the two numbers of the M.R. containing it, shall reach you somehow soon. I have sent you no books this month, because I really could not get together enough to make it worth while: I had only the Poor Laws book. I have a promise of a copy of the Factory Commissioners Report: when it comes, shall I send it? Madame Roland I had lent, and it did not return to me till a day or two too late. I have now a copy (borrowed) of one of Babbage’s two books: you once expressed a wish to see them: have you still that wish? or has it been satisfied! Now I have also (if you would care to see it) a book of Bulwer’s, entitled “England & the English.” I have not yet looked into it: but a Frenchman who is now in London said of it to Mrs. Austin, that though he had been here only a month that book did not tell him any one thing that was new to him: it must therefore be a very poor book. I told you in one of my letters that I had been writing something about Bentham & his philosophy; it was for Bulwer, at his request, for the purposes of this book: contrary to my expectation at that time, he has printed part of this paper ipsissimis verbis as an appendix to his book: so you will see it; but I do not acknowledge it, nor mean to do so. I furnished him also at his request with a few yet rougher notes concerning my father, which he has not dealt so fairly by, but has cut and mangled and coxcombified the whole thing till its mother would not know it: there are a few sentences of mine in it, something like what they were when I wrote them; for the sake of artistic congruity I wish there were not. This I still less own, because it is not mine, in any sense. About my going to Craigenputtoch there will be some uncertainty till the very time, because the only contingency which would prevent it may happen at any time, and will remain possible to the very last. You will not hear positively that I am coming till the post immediately preceding my arrival—yes you will though, for I shall travel rather slowly. I am sorry that your brother’s speedy return to Italy will prevent me from meeting him at Craigenputtoch: but I shall at all events see him on his passage through London?—I have read the first part of your Cagliostro; not yet the second: I know not why you should call it “half mad”; it is merely like much of your writing, half ironical, half earnest; it may be of use to some people: If human beings would but do thoroughly all they do, I believe with you that Good would be much more forwarded than Evil: halfness is the great enemy of spiritual worth: whatever shames any human being out of that, is of unspeakable value. I have left little room for any of the many things I could willingly say on your last letter; neither is the letter before me, which however frequently happens to be the case when I am answering your letters. Do not mistake what I meant when I talked of logic; I did not mean it in the sense in which your answers to Sir William Hamilton (who I suppose is the “schoolman” you allude to) would apply to it. Of logic, as the theory of the processes of intellect, I think not wholly as you, yet nearly: he who has legs can walk without knowledge of anatomy, yet you will allow that such knowledge may be made substantially available for the cure of lameness. By logic however I meant the antithesis of Poetry or Art: in which distinction I am learning to perceive a twofold contrast: the literal as opposed to the symbolical, and reasoning as opposed to intuition. Not the theory of reasoning but the practice. In reasoning I include all processes of thought which are processes at all, that is, which proceed by a series of steps or links. What I would say is that my vocation is, I think, chiefly for this last; a more extended & higher one than for any branch of mere “Philosophy of Mind” though far inferior to that of the artist.—We shall talk doubtless of these things, and also of many others, not excepting the one you mention, Paris—My notion of it is chiefly taken from its recent literature, which is exactly what Goethe called it, the literature of Despair—die Litteratur der Verzweiflung. You will not wonder at that—nor do I.
Buller who is about to write to you will put this letter under his cover—Yours faithfully
J. S. Mill.
Thanks to Mrs. Carlyle for her two lines, and best remembrances to her and to Dr. Carlyle.
TO WILLIAM TAIT
My dear Sir
You must have been a good deal surprised at hearing nothing from me respecting the literary article which was to be transferred from the Examiner to your Magazine. The fact is that for some weeks past the pressure of other occupations had left me no time to take the article in hand and fit it for your use: and now at length when I had begun to rewrite it for you, I find that the work it is a review of (a poem named Pauline) has been disposed of in your last number by a passing notice, in terms of contempt which though I think the poem was overpraised in the Monthly Repository, I cannot consider it to deserve. So I hope you will receive this as my apology for not fulfilling my engagement.
Most truly yours
J. S. Mill
TO THOMAS CARLYLE
India House, 5th September 1833.
My dear Carlyle
You have probably heard from Dr Carlyle before this reaches you, that I shall not, after all, see you this autumn. There were about twenty chances to one that I should, but it is the twenty-first which has taken effect in Reality. I was mistaken, too, when I said that if I went not to Craigenputtoch I should go nowhere: I am going to Paris: the same cause which I then thought, if it operated at all, would operate to keep me here, now sends me there. It is a journey entirely of duty; nothing else, you will do me the justice to believe, would have kept me from Craigenputtoch after what I have said & written so often: it is duty, and duty connected with a person to whom of all persons alive I am under the greatest obligations. If I had not so short a vacation the two journeys would not be incompatible, but alas for him who must abide eleven months of the year at a desk in Leadenhall Street! All the compensation I can make to you will be to write often and fully, and tell you all I see and hear at Paris that will interest you. You said something in one of your letters about a projected residence of some time at Paris for yourself—it would not, I think, be pleasant to you, but extremely melancholy; everywhere however there is food enough for that—and I do believe that for observation of realities, at least human spiritual realities, there is no place in the world like Paris in the present age, for the reason you mentioned, that individualities of character are there unchained, not being kept down and fashioned to a model by a common overruling Belief—but again, nowhere in Europe, if I am not greatly mistaken, are there so few individualities of character as at Paris. I suspect Prussia is the only country pleasant to live in for one who loves mankind—but for that very reason not the fit place for one who is capable of being their spiritual benefactor in any however small a degree unless he was born there.
Dr Carlyle has been so good as to take charge of some books for you: viz. two Reports of the Factory Commission, full of the biography of history; the works of Madame Roland, the noblest character by far of the French Revolution, perhaps of France itself; though far from the most brilliant; & the two numbers of the Repository which contain my flimsy paper on Alison. That last was hardly worth sending; keep it however. I meant you to keep Junius Redivivus; I have other copies: it is not, however, worth sending back, to you. That and all the other books, came safe. What did you think of the Vieux Cordelier? Villate’s book, which pretends to let one into the secrets of the Terreur I believe to be a mere tissue of lies and exaggerations: he was a juré of the revolutionary tribunal, deeply implicated in all the horrors of the time, and anxious by making great disclosures to save his own neck from the reaction, to which unless my memory fail me he nevertheless fell a sacrifice.—The Poor-Laws book, Dr Carlyle tells me you have: indeed I thought you would, for it has been very widely circulated: write me word what you think of it. Write to me also about your brother: he stays here so short a time that I shall not know him, only lay the foundation for future knowledge; but I have already seen enough to respect and like him and to hope for his future friendship.—I forgot to ask whether you have seen that “Arthur Coningsby”—it is scarcely worth sending,—though decidedly worth reading: perhaps it may go with other books:—also Bulwer’s book.
I have read the latter half of Cagliostro with very great pleasure; greater than the first half: and I look forward to the appearance of Teufelsdreck with great satisfaction: by the impression it makes upon me now, as compared with that which it made on the first reading, I shall have a kind of measure of the space which I have franchi (as the French say) in the interval; whether forwards, backwards, or to one side. I have certainly changed much since you knew me; in some things I have become, I think, more like yourself, in others more unlike; I am partly reconciled to not seeing you this year by the thought that next year I shall probably be firmer on my legs, spiritually speaking, and shall have a clearer and more fixed insight into what I am to be and to do, than I have at present, and that the relation between us will then be (much more than now) what you once called it, “a relation between two Somethings” and not between a Something & a Nothing.
—About that Cagliostro and that Teufelsdreck, by the way, it has frequently occurred to me of late to ask of myself and also of you, whether that mode of writing between sarcasm or irony and earnest, be really deserving of so much honour as you give to it by making use of it so frequently. I do not say that it is not good: all modes of writing, in the hands of a sincere man, are good, provided they are intelligible. But are there many things, worth saying, and capable of being said in that manner which cannot be as well or better said in a more direct way? The same doubt has occasionally occurred to me respecting much of your phraseology, which fails to bring home your meaning to the comprehension of most readers so well as would perhaps be done by commoner and more familiar phrases: however this last I say with the most perfect submission, because I am sure that every one speaks and writes best in his own mother tongue, the language in which he thinks.—I have just received a copy of some Evidence taken by the Poor Law Commissioners on the subject of Education, affording some striking instances of the good effect produced upon the very rabble of London by even such imperfect schooling as they now sometimes receive: shall I send it in my next parcel?
I am now reading, very sedulously, Voltaire’s Correspondence: I have never read it before. It throws much light upon the spiritual character of that time, and especially of its literary men. How strangely Voltaire’s own character has been mistaken; and how little does he seem to have been conscious of what he was about, to have had even any settled purpose in it. He certainly had no intention of being the Patriarch of any sect of Destructives, & if the priests would have let him alone, he would have let them alone. In the greater part of his lifetime he seems to have been timid excessively, and would have abstained from almost anything in order to remain quiet at Paris. But after he had found the quiet he sought, at a distance, it was the revival of persecution as evinced by the suppression of the Encyclopédie, the condemnation of Helvetius’s book, the speech of Le Franc de Pompignan at the Academy denouncing Voltaire himself personally, the success of Palissot’s comedy of Les Philosophes, the abuse of the Philosophes by Fréron & others, &c., &c. it was these things which erected Voltaire after the age of sixty-five into the leader of a crusade against Christianity; & it was then, too, that he seems to have found out that wit and ridicule were capable of being powerful weapons in his hands. He always seems to have despised the French, & thought them incapable of philosophy, or even of science; and he continually lamented that they insisted upon taking to speculation, which they were unfit for, and neglected the beaux-arts (what beaux-arts!) which had been the glory of the siècle de Louis 14.
I have no more room—mit Glück und Heil
J. S. Mill.
I shall remain here till the middle of October probably, so that your letters will reach me as usual. I cannot get a frank this time; all Parliament is out of town. My kindest remembrances to Mrs. Carlyle.
TO WILLIAM JOHNSON FOX
Saturday [Sept. 7, 1833]
My dear Mr Fox
I am ashamed to say I can give no hope that Blakey will be ready on Monday—though I think part of him will be. But I have nearly made up my mind to transfer to you the paper on Poetry which I thought of putting at the head of a review of Tennyson somewhere. I think I could make a better review of Tennyson, and with the same ideas too, in another way.
If you like the idea, and if you see her before Monday, will you mention it to her—you know it is hers—if she approves, it shall be yours. I shall see her on Monday myself, and then I will speak of the matter to her. [Ye]s—she is like hers[elf]—if she is ever ou[t] of spirits it is always something amiss in me that is the cause—it is so now—it is because she sees that what ought to be so much easier to me than to her, is in reality more difficult—costs a harder struggle—to part company with the opinion of the world, and with my former modes of doing good in it; however, thank heaven, she does not doubt that I can do it—
Yes—I shall see you often, I hope, at Clapton when she is gone—
J. S. Mill
TO WILLIAM TAIT
24 September 1833
My dear Sir
You have not heard from me as a contributor to your Magazine for some time past. I am now about to make up for my neglect by making a proposal to you which if accepted would furnish you with a “stock in hand” but which it is very probable may not suit you.
I have had by me for some time, five Political Economy essays, ready for publication; four of them on particular points, containing views which I am desirous to submit to the judgment of the scientific students of the science,—in continuation and completion of Ricardo’s doctrines. The fifth is a dissertation on the science itself, and on the proper mode of studying it. The last may be considered as comparatively popular; the other four are, as from their nature and object they cannot but be, somewhat abstract; not more so however than De Quincey’s “Templar’s Dialogues” in the London Magazine. There is no use in publishing these tracts as a separate voume, for few would read them and nobody would buy them. They must therefore remain in my desk unless they will suit you. In length they would average I think about the dimensions of an article on such subjects in the Edinburgh Review. They would not be attractive to the bulk of Magazine-readers, and the only chance of their suiting you lies in the extremely miscellaneous character of such a Magazine as yours, which should and does contain matter for almost all classes of readers. The high character which your work is establishing for itself in Political Economy would also make any elaborate paper on that subject less out of place in your pages than in those of any other periodical.
If you do not think the proposition quite inadmissible, be so good as to write to me, and I will send you one or two of them for your inspection—I should also be much obliged to our friend Mr Nichol if he would favour me with his remarks on them before anything is determined upon.
If you should finally resolve to publish them in the Magazine, I shall further request of you to have 100 copies of each, struck off for me & at my expense, to give away to the few persons who can be expected to take any considerable interest in such speculations.
I have not seen much in the Magazine lately which I could ascribe to Mr Nichol—nor have I heard from him—I hope he is not ill?
The French Professorship I fear is out of the question—the choice lies between Comte & Rossi.
Most truly yours
J. S. Mill
I have not given up the idea of those “Essays on the Ambiguities of the Moral Sciences” but for the present I see no chance of my having time for it—
TO THOMAS CARLYLE
- Mickleham, near Dorking, Surrey,
5th October 1833
(don’t direct hither, though.)
My dear Carlyle
Two of your letters, both well deserving a better answer than this will be, have been waiting a long time for it: such as it is you shall have it now: You ask me to write with abandonment—it is pleasant in many ways to be asked that, and by you—doubt not but that I shall do so, more and more—I have not, and have never had, any voluntary or rather intentional reserve with any one whom I value, certainly not with you—but that is not enough—I am sensible in myself of a want of spontaneousness, a self-consciousness even in the act of confiding, which is perhaps natural enough in a born metaphysician as I am in the very worst sense, but which I dislike extremely both in myself and wherever else I see it, and which I believe I am getting rid of. There will I think be perfect spontaneous confidence, the abandonment you speak of, in the fullest sense, between us two, some time; I think as soon as we are completely intimate; I was going to say completely know each other, but that is an impossibility, as you well know. In the meantime it is very grateful to me to find that everything which brings me nearer to you, brings you also nearer to me, and that every approach to a closer intimacy is responded to as soon as made. Our friendship is a strong healthy young plant, which being in a good soil may be left to itself to grow. So no more of that at present—Now I will say that I am going to Paris probably at the end of this week. If I could have another letter from you before I go, well: if not, write when you are moved thereto, and a friend at the India House will forward your letter to Paris, for I do not wish to be five weeks without it. What you wish to be ascertained for you at Paris, shall be so; I shall be able to obtain the fullest and exactest information. Touching French dictionaries I am fully as ignorant as yourself: I learnt the language in the country itself, and acquired the colloquial part of it in greater perfection than most English do, so had never occasion for the sort of dictionary you want: I believe there is none good, none but such as you probably have; but I will inquire about that, too. Before I go I will send a parcel to Fraser’s for you, containing Bulwer, Coningsby, and more French Memoirs if I can find any more worth sending. I am afraid you have already had the best of them. With them shall go the October number of the Monthly Repository: containing two articles of mine: one, a review of a foolish book by a man named Blakey, of Morpeth, called a History of Moral Science; for writing which he is utterly unfit, being a man who as you would say, has no eyes, only a pair of glasses and I will add, almost opake ones. The other article is the little paper I told you I was writing in further prosecution of, or rather improvement on, the thoughts I published before on Poetry and Art. You will not find much in the first to please you; perhaps rather more in the second, but I fear you will think both of them too much infected by mechanical theories of the mind: yet you will probably in this as in many other cases be glad to see that out of my mechanical premisses I elicit dynamical conclusions—and I have a paragraph at the end of the article on Blakey’s book by way of manifesto, to tell people that I don’t care one straw about premisses except for the sake of conclusions. I have been very busy and active in writing lately; even on politics; did you detect me in those long-winded answers (in the Examiner) to the ministerial pamphlet? but I tell it not to the profane. Your approval of the Alison paper was very gratifying; I also am conscious that I write with a greater appearance of sureness and strong belief than I did for a year or two before, in that period of recovery after the petrification of a narrow philosophy, in which one feels quite sure of scarcely anything respecting Truth, except that she is many-sided. Did you ever read Schleiermacher’s paper on Socrates? I have been reading it in a number of Connop Thirlwall’s “Philological Museum,” a Cambridge classical periodical of merit: Schleiermacher’s theory of Socrates is that besides knowing “that he knew nothing,” he however knew also what knowledge was, and how it was to be come at: that was exactly my case and was the faith I also professed and taught for some years unconscious all the while that I had nothing else to teach: I have now got at some few things more: all of which, as they become clearer to myself, will be shewn to you either in what I publish, or in letters, or personal communication. You suggest to me, what I have many times thought of, the advisableness of my writing something more elaborate than I have yet written on the French Revolution: it is highly probable I shall do it sometime if you do not; but besides the difficulty of doing it tolerably, there is a far greater difficulty of doing it so as to be read in England, until the time comes when one can speak of Christianity as it may be spoken of in France; as by far the greatest and best thing which has existed on this globe, but which is gone, never to return, only what was best in it to reappear in another and still higher form, some time (heaven knows when). One could not, now, say this openly in England, and be read—at least by the many; yet it is perhaps worth trying. Without saying out one’s whole belief on that point, it is impossible to write about the French Revolution in any way professing to tell the whole truth. A propos I have been reading the New Testament; properly I can never be said to have read it before. I am the fitter to read it now; perhaps there is nobody within the four seas so utterly unprejudiced on the subject. I have never believed Christianity as a religion, consequently have no habitual associations of reverence, nor on the other hand any of contempt like so many who have become sceptics after having been taught to believe; nor have I, like so many, been bored or disgusted with it in my youth. As far as I know your impressions about Christ, mine from this reading are exactly the same. How strikingly just for instance is your contrast in your last letter, between the Christ of the Gospels, & the namby-pamby Christ of the poor modern Christians. Many things have struck me in reading this book. One is that nearly all the good of the four Gospels is in St Matthew alone; & we could almost spare the other three. Mark and Luke however do no harm; but John has I think been the cause of almost all bad theology: the Christ of that Gospel also strikes me as quite unlike the Christ of the other three; a sort of Edward Irving, one might say. How clearly one can trace in all of them the gradual rise of his conviction that he was the Messiah: and how much loftier & more self-devoted a tone his whole language & conduct assumed as soon as he felt convinced of that. Reading his history has done me along with much other good, this in particular, that it has completed my hatred of the Gig: I can hardly feel easy now under the thought that I have one foot in it still: I shall probably dismount altogether from it in time.—It was more than I hoped for that your brother should form any favourable judgment of me from the very little he can have seen, and that not of the best kind. I am persuaded that I owe his good opinion chiefly to your testimony. He appeared to me very like you: though I cannot doubt but that there are differences enough: it was the likeness too of a scholar to his master.
Of your friends or acquaintance here I have little to relate: most of them are away from London & have not written to me. Only Rowland Detrosier is doing exceedingly well as a lecturer on physics—picking up also some money by writing—and he will do something and be of use: a man of clearer or quicker understanding I never saw: only he has had no help, and no materials for his understanding to work on: the most abstract truths when they are presented to him he seizes almost at a glance, & possesses himself of their spirit, not their letter merely. He will thrive best under my teaching just now; he is not yet ripe for yours. He is eager, ardent, and indefatigably laborious; and to the extent of his faculties, most serious in his purpose of knowing and teaching the Truth.—If I had known you as well when you were in London as I do now, how many more persons should I have brought to see you! I now know that any human being is interesting to you, all who have self-subsistence eminently so: now even of those I could have made you acquainted with not a few. Since you were so much pleased with Emerson I feel encouraged to try you with almost any person whatever who has any sort of good in him: I should have thought he was about the last person who would have interested you so much as he seems to have done. But you, yourself, are doubtless in many things, changed, and as you have several times intimated, changing: I greatly desire to know in what, and how much; should be still more gratified if I could in any way aid you, paying back thereby some small part of the good, of that and so many other kinds, which I have received from you. I have done little for you yet; perhaps am incapable of doing much: but it was part of my former character, the character I am throwing off, that I seldom wished or ventured to argue with my teachers: I do not mean mere logic-fence, but that I was content to receive without giving, & rather avoided occasions for expressing difference of opinion. In that however as in much else “I will mend” as you said of something far less important—The Austins are at Boulogne—but I have not heard from them. Falk I am sorry to hear sells but indifferently. I find both from enquiry and observation that the puffing system has worn itself out, even more rapidly than seemed likely: & a united chorus of praise from all the press will scarcely now sell fifty copies of any work: Effingham Wilson the bookseller is so sensible of this that he has resolved to cease advertising the praises of periodicals and to sell his wares by samples, advertising passages of the works themselves. Thus does all lying contain the seeds of its own destruction: when all human speech has ceased to be believed, it seems as if men must recommence speaking the truth: yet who knows? for how many centuries has the whole East persevered in lying, although the fact that “all men are liars” there forms part of all men’s knowledge of the world. Bulwer’s book is considerably better than I expected; the “tenuity” does not amount to more than semitransparency. There was one thing in what you said of Madame Roland which I did not quite like—it was, that she was almost rather a man than a woman: I believe that I quite agree in all that you really meant, but is there really any distinction between the highest masculine & the highest feminine character? I do not mean the mechanical acquirements; those, of course, will very commonly be different. But the women, of all I have known, who possessed the highest measure of what are considered feminine qualities, have combined with them more of the highest masculine qualities than I have ever seen in any but one or two men, & those one or two men were also in many respects almost women. I suspect it is the second-rate people of the two sexes that are unlike—the first-rate are alike in both—except—no, I do not think I can except anything—but then, in this respect, my position has been and is, what you say every human being’s is in many respects “a peculiar one.”—
I shall write from Paris—probably more than once.
J. S. Mill
Make my kindest respects to Mrs Carlyle and crave her forgiveness (though as it was a matter of moral necessity, not choice, that is hardly the right word) for the postponement of my visit.
TO WILLIAM JOHNSON FOX
[Oct. 10, 1833]
Dear Mr Fox
I go off this evening & therefore shall not see you which I am sorry for.
Thanks for your kind offer of doing anything for me during my absence —The only thing which occurs to me, that you could do, would be to send us a copy of the Repository for next month. You might send it to Dussard, whose address is 9 Great Castle Street Cavendish Square[;] he has opportunities for Paris once or twice a week.
I send “Pauline” having done all I could—which was, to annotate copiously in the margin, and sum up on the flyleaf—on the whole the observations are not flattering to the author—perhaps too strong in the expression to be shewn to him.
I also send three numbers of the Plato for your inspection and judgment. They cannot in any case be used until I return for it is necessary they should be carefully looked over, some passages altered, and some preliminary matter written—Let us hope that the arrival of Elliott’s drama will relieve you from any difficulty in filling the present number—if not, you must write it all yourself—I do not think the remainder of those scraps will help you much. A propos I had them actually in my pocket at Clapton but neglected to give them to you—I am sorry your brother has had the trouble of calling for them.
You shall hear from me very soon—as I hope I shall from you
TO WILLIAM JOHNSON FOX
[Paris, Nov. 5 or 6, 1833]
I could have filled a long letter to you with the occurrences and feelings and thoughts of any one day since I have been here—this fortnight seems an age in mere duration, and is an age in what it has done for us two. It has brought years of experience to us—good and happy experience most of it. We never could have been so near, so perfectly intimate, in any former circumstances—we never could have been together as we have been in innumerable smaller relations and concerns—we never should have spoken of all things, and in all frames of mind, with so much freedom and unreserve. I am astonished when I think how much has been restrained, how much untold, unshewn, uncommunicated till now—how much which by the new fact of its being spoken, has disappeared—so many real unlikenesses, so many more false impressions of unlikeness, most of which have only been revealed to me since they have ceased to exist or these which still exist have ceased to be felt painfully. Not a day has passed without removing some real & serious obstacle to happiness. I never thought so humbly of myself compared with her, never thought or felt myself so little worthy of her, never more keenly regretted that I am not, in some things, very different, for her sake—yet it is much to know as I do now; that almost all which has ever caused her any misgivings with regard to our fitness for each other was mistaken in point of fact—that the mistakes no longer exist—& that she is now (as she is) quite convinced that we are perfectly suited to pass our lives together—better suited indeed for that perfect than for this imperfect companionship. There will never again I believe be any obstacle to our being together entirely, from the slightest doubt that the experiment would succeed with respect to ourselves—not, as she used to say, for a short time, but for our natural lives. And yet—all the other obstacles or rather the one obstacle being as great as ever—our futurity is still perfectly uncertain. She has decided nothing except what has always been decided—not to renounce the liberty of sight—and it does not seem likely that anything will be decided until the end of the six months, if even then finally. For me, I am certain that whatever she decides will be wisest and rightest, even if she decide what was so repugnant to me at first—to remain here alone—it is repugnant to me still—but I can now see that perhaps it will be best—the future will decide that.
When will you write again—she shewed me your letter—it is beautiful in you to write so to any one, but who could write otherwise to her?
I am happy, but not so happy as when the future appeared surer.
I had written thus far before receiving your letter, and I am glad of it. I have now taken a larger sheet and copied the above into it.
Your letter does indeed shew that you do not at all “understand her state” and never have understood it—this I have only lately begun to suspect, & never was quite sure of it till now—and I see that under the presumption that you were more aware than I perceive you are of the real state of her feelings, I myself have said & written things which have confirmed you in the wrong impression.
You seem to think that she was decided, and is now undecided—that the state of feeling which led to the separation has been as you say “interrupted” and is to be “recommenced.” Now this is an incorrect and so far a lower idea of her than the true one—she never had decided upon anything except not to give up either the feeling, or the power of communication with me—unless she did so, it was Mr. Taylor’s wish, and seemed to be necessary to his comfort that she should live apart from him. When the separation had actually taken place, the result did as you say seem certain—not because we had willed to make it so, but because it seemed the necessary consequence of the new circumstances if the feelings of all continued the same. This was the sole cause & I think cause enough for the hopefulness and happiness which I felt almost all that month and which must have made a false impression on you. I never felt sure of what was to be after the six months, but I felt an immense increase of the chances in my favour. When I came here, I expected to find her no more decided than she had always been about what would be best for all, but not to find her as for the first time I did, doubtful of what would be best for our own happiness—under the influence of that fact and of the painful feelings it excited, I wrote to you. That doubt, thank heaven, lasted but a short time—if I had delayed my letter two days longer I should never have sent it.
If Mr. Taylor feels as you believe he does, he has been very far from telling her “all he feels”; for his last letter to her, which came by the same post as this of yours (the first she ever shewed to me) is in quite another tone. He is most entirely mistaken in all the facts. Her affection for him, which originated in gratitude for his affection & kindness, instead of being weakened by this stronger feeling, has been greatly strengthened, by so many new proofs of his affection for her, & by the unexpected & (his nature considered) really admirable generosity & nobleness which he has shewn under so severe a trial. Instead of reviving in absence, her affection for him has been steady throughout; it is of quite another character from this feeling, & therefore does not in the least conflict with it naturally, & now when circumstances have thrown the two into opposition she can no more overcome, or wish to overcome the one, than the other. The difference is, that the one, being only affection, not passion, would be satisfied with knowing him to be happy though away from her—but if the choice were absolutely between giving up the stronger feeling, & making him (what he says he should be) durably wretched, I am quite convinced that either would be [more?] than she could bear. I know it is the common notion of passionate love that it sweeps away all other affections—but surely the justification of passion, & one of its greatest beauties & glories, is that in an otherwise fine character it weakens no feeling which deserves to subsist, but would naturally strengthen them all. Because her letters to Mr. Taylor express the strong affection she has always felt, and he is no longer seeing, every day, proofs of her far stronger feeling for another, he thinks the affection has come back—he might have seen it quite as plainly before, only he refused to believe it. I have seen it, and felt its immense power over her, in moments of intense excitement with which I am sure he would believe it to be utterly incompatible.
Her affection for him, which has always been the principal, is now the sole obstacle to our being together—for the present there seems absolutely no prospect of that obstacle’s being got over. She believes—& she knows him better than any of us can—that it would be the breaking-up of his whole future life—that she is determined never to be the cause of, & I am as determined never to urge her to it, as convinced that if I did I should fail. Nothing could justify it but “the most distinct perception” that it is not only “necessary to the happiness of both”, but the only means of saving both or either from insupportable unhappiness. That can never be unless the alternative were entire giving up. I believe he is quite right in his impression that the worst for him which is to be expected at the end of the six months is her remaining permanently here. She will if it is in human power to do so, make him understand the exact state of her feelings, and will as at present minded, give him the choice of every possible arrangement except entire giving-up, with a strong wish that her remaining here may be his choice; with a full understanding however that the agreement whatever it be, is to be no longer binding than while it is found endurable. This seems but a poor result to come of so much suffering & so much effort, but for us even so the gain is great.
She has seen and approved all that precedes, therefore it is as much her letter as mine. So now you know the whole state of the case.
She is on the whole far happier than I have ever known her, and quite well physically though far from strong—I have many anxious thoughts of how she is to bear the being again alone with so little of hope to sustain her. I am so convinced of all I have written above, that if the final decision were already made (whatever it might be) I am certain that the fact of Mr. Taylor’s being to be here so soon after I am gone would be a real & great good to her—but now, I am afraid unless she sees her way clearly to some tolerably satisfactory arrangement in the first few days of his visit she will only be made more unhappy by being made to feel still more keenly the impossibility of avoiding great unhappiness to him.
You know, perhaps, that her brother has been here—nothing could have been better or sweeter than all he said & did—he was even friendly.
Can I do anything for you here—see any one, or bring over anything for you—I shall leave Paris probably Friday week.
It is idle, almost, to say any thanks for all you are saying and doing for our good & for such part of the interest you feel in it, as regards me personally—I may be able some time or other to make some return to you for it all, more than by invoking as I do, all the blessings earth is heir to upon you and yours.
TO WILLIAM JOHNSON FOX
[Nov. 22, 1833]
In our conversation the other evening the more important matters of which we were thinking and talking made me forget to say that if you will send to me those Plato papers, I will try to make them fit for the M.R.
You are I suppose provided for the next number—otherwise in a day or two I could finish one of those things.
I have the strongest wish, and some hope, that there will some day arrive a sketch of Paris, in the manner of some of your local sketches—if there does, it will be the most beautiful thing ever written—she has spoken quite enough to me at different times, to shew what it would be.
Have you seen Mr. Taylor? he has received a letter by this time, part of which she has sent to me, and which if he was still in the state in which you last saw him, will certainly put him completely out of it. Ed. Hardy while he confirms all you told me of the impression her precious letter made upon him when it came, bringing back his old hopes and theories, affirms positively that all this had quite gone off before he received any other letter, & that his acquiescence in her return to him is not given under the influence of those hopes and theories but of a real intention of being with her as a friend and companion. His conduct & feelings now, will shew whether this is correct. I shall be anxious to know your impression when you shall have seen him in his present state.
It seems he had written to her again since I left Paris—she writes “I had yesterday one of those letters from Mr. Taylor which make us admire & love him. He says that this plan & my letters have given him delight—that he has been selfish—but in future will think more for others & less for himself—but still he talks of this plan being good for all, by which he means me, as he says he is sure it will ‘prevent after misery’ & again he wishes for complete confidence. I have written exactly what I think without reserve.”
I have not time to write another word.
TO THOMAS CARLYLE
India House 25th November 1833
My dear Carlyle
As might have been anticipated I found no time while at Paris to write to you, and though I have now been in London a week, I have not been able till now to collect my thoughts for the sort of letter which my conscience tells me I ought to write. Let me dispose of business matters first. I have made the various inquiries you wanted made. First about the mode of living at Paris. M. Comte, whom you may have heard of as a writer, & who is now Secretaire Perpetuel to the new Academy of Moral and Political Science, a man who has tried both countries & who lived in a very simple stile in both, who has lived in both as a man ever in narrow circumstances—married and having two or three children—he is my first witness, & he says that Paris & London are much on a par: that you may live luxuriously in Paris for less money than in London, but that for any stile of living not luxuriously, the expense is nearly the same in both cities, with perhaps a slight advantage in favour of Paris. Tanneguy Duchâtel, who is an economist & statistician & I should think accurate in his facts, says that un député may if he chuse live at Paris during a six months session of the chamber for 300 francs (£12) a month if alone, for at most 500 francs (£20) if he have a wife and no children. The chief article of necessary consumption which is dearer at Paris than en province or in England, seems to be dress: that, if you stay only six months or so you can carry out a supply of for the whole time I suppose. You can have in the best quarters of Paris, lodgings which I think would perfectly suit you for 200 francs a month. This would include accommodation for a maid servant. Your food would be decidedly cheaper than in London. As to other matters, there is the most ample & ready access to many excellent libraries; some difficulty, but not I believe impossibility, in having permission to take books home with you. All persons of all sorts are accessible with the greatest ease to any one who had such introductions as you would have. A little way out of Paris the expenses are decidedly less, viz. houserent less, food of all sorts cheaper by the cost of conveyance and the very high octroi. In executing your smaller commissions at Paris I have had great assistance from Adolphe d’Eichthal who is much pleased at the prospect of your going there. The books which I ordered were not ready when I left Paris & I do not even know what the bookseller whom Adolphe employed had & had not been able to get. I fear there is no Dictionnaire Neologique but that appended to the Dict. de l’Academie. The Hénault I expect to receive immediately, together with a map of the province “Ile de France” & I have hopes of several tracts on the collier affair. Adolphe has sent your questions to several people whom he thought likely to be able to give you information, of whom one only has yet given him any answers; a certain Baron Darnay, who was then (viz. during the procès) a conseiller au parlement: his responses, which do not give much information, I inclose. Apropos I find that the parcel I destined for you did not go, last month; the cause being that Fraser promised to send for it, and faithlessly neglected to do so. I have ordered no very great number of books, & of those I doubt whether many would interest you much: the works of Ballanche, a sort of palingenesic philosopher now in some repute; Beranger’s poems; the Proverbes of Leclerc; no memoirs except those of the Abbé Morellet which I had read before, & know to contain several revolutionary scenes which would interest you. But it seems to me that the writing, buying, and reading of books has come to an end in France as well as here; in France it may perhaps revive sooner than here, having been extremely rife only five years ago & perhaps only temporarily interrupted by the débordement de la politique et des petits écrits. Here it has perished by a gradual decay, and the causes of its melancholy fate are I fear permanent.
But now to attempt to tell you anything about France and Paris! I cannot; one or two personal portraits I think I could give you, & that is the sum of all my personal knowledge—I can only say, go and look; look & you will certainly see: there is abundance to be seen, known, & judged of in six months or a year, little or nothing in one month, especially when the object of one’s visit is not exclusively to see. Except of some few individuals, I have brought back no impressions but very general ones, & of these scarcely one of which I am quite certain, except this one that there is an infinity of things to see, & that it requires a less piercing eyesight to see them, than here, because the natural signs and expressions of feeling & character are in a much less degree repressed by the ponderous dull atmosphere of custom & respectability which weighs upon them here. It really does seem to me that people care infinitely less in Paris about keeping in the gig: or what comes to the same thing when we are speaking of a people, the gig is lower, far nearer to the ground, does not so easily break down with you, & it is easy stepping in as well as out. It does appear to me that it needs little or no courage at Paris, to make the openest profession of any kind of opinions or feelings whatever. It is the very place which a speculative man should desire for promulgating his opinions, for you startle nobody, you are sure of an audience; sure of being supported, & what is perhaps still better, sure of being attacked. How different here. Littérateurs and artists there are I fancy next to none—those who pass for such I had not time to go amongst, but you easily might. I could, had I stayed longer. I suspect we have been too much impressed, you and I and others, by the Literature of Despair. I was in hopes that despair was the necessary consequence of having no Belief, in a nation at least, though not always in an individual: but I fear that is only in the nobler spirits, or at least the young persons of strong feelings and artistical capabilities. In France I see every reason to believe that the mass of the well-to-do classes can make themselves comfortable without either God or Devil, either literal or constructive, and are well satisfied to eat their pudding in quiet—those I mean who have enough pudding to eat, which is an infinitely larger proportion than in this country. Most of the educated people have enough to make them comfortable, and there is very little of the artificial demand for more money which the striving & straining for respectability occasions here; respectability there does not depend upon money. All agree that any man who can dress decently may dine with or go to the soirées of anybody, & mix on terms of perfect equality with all whom he meets. Then the peasantry commonly have their bit of land, & consider themselves also as lords of the soil: except, therefore, the ambitious spirits & the working population of Paris and the great towns, people seem to be tolerably content with their lot. The government has for the last year or two made great efforts to fix the attention of the people on les intérêts matériels, on schemes of commercial improvement, railroads & the like; & they are half mad, many of them, about railroads, in mere unreasoning imitation of England & England’s “prosperity.” The trades of Paris, like the manufacturers of Lyons have formed unions & are all striking for wages, i.e. the skilled labourers, those who are highly paid already: & impartial people, such as Adolphe d’Eichthal, say that their object is not so much, more money, as to elevate their rank in society, since at present the gentlemen will not keep company with them & they will not keep company with the common labourers. The revolutionary part of the republicans have opened a connexion with these Trade Societies, and attempt to turn them to purposes of revolution, with what success I know not: they themselves say “the greatest,” the other republicans say “not so great,” the non-republicans say “none at all,” from all which I infer that nothing can be known about it. If I had stayed I should have managed to attend some of the meetings of these workmen: though it seems they are jealous of the presence of gentlemen, even gentlemen-republicans. On the whole, politics are for the present very much out of vogue: nor do I know what is in vogue, except railroads: not the theatres, for people are ceasing to go there: not literature, for nothing is written or read except the usual succession of novels which went on even during the Reign of Terror. The newspapers, even, are little read compared with two years ago; & even la propagande républicaine has taken refuge in little penny papers which are hawked every Sunday in the streets & on the boulevards. One must be at Paris to know how profoundly irreligious the French are: the higher kind of books and newspapers have got beyond the irreligious state and are mostly prophesying a religion or regretting the impossibility of one—or have at least learnt to recognise a historical value in the religions of the Past or at most think it an old joke, too stale to be revived now: but the little feuilles which one buys as one goes into a theatre, are the representatives of the Voltairian philosophy at present: the summits of the national intellect have emerged above it, and it has descended to envelop & overshroud the lower regions. Our friends the St. Simonians now St. Simonians no longer, have done much good, & are still doing some. The Père, as you may have seen in the newspapers, having been let out of prison before his sentence was expired, has gone, with Fournel & some others of the set who were engineers, to persuade the Pacha of Egypt to let them cut a canal across the Isthmus of Suez—whereby the deux mondes, the Orient & the Occident, are still to be réunis by means of them. What has become of those who went to Constantinople in search of la femme libre I do not know. One or two, especially Jules Lechevalier & Abel Transon, have become disciples of Fourier, a sort of Robert Owen who is to accomplish all things by means of cooperation & of rendering labour agreeable, & under whose system man is to acquire absolute power over the laws of physical nature; among other happy results, the sea is to be changed into lemonade. Some have become Catholics; but among these are none of the considerable men of the set. The great majority have retained of St Simonianism about as much as is good and true, dropping the rest. The Bazard portion have mostly become republicans, the Enfantin portion, who were rich, strong partisans of les moyens pacifiques, have become juste milieu men in politics, endeavouring to work out improvement with the existing machinery. The government, acting I suppose on the judicious maxim that a Utopian désenchanté is very manageable, has restored to most of them who were engineers miners or the like, their rank in the service. Michel Chevalier was scarcely out of prison when they selected him to be sent to the United States to study their canals & railways. Flachat is now one of the three editors of the Constitutionnel, where he writes good articles on free trade & such like matters: he seems a sensible man, without much enthusiasm left in him; he stuck to them to the last, & had by his own account a fièvre cérébrale from the suffering & anxiety it caused him; after which he was very near becoming a Christian: now he seems to be left with a vague presentiment that there will be a religion some time or other. Leroux, & Reynaud, whom you remember as the protester against Enfantin, (both of whom I saw) go on prophesying a religion in the Revue Encyclopédique; their notions are somewhat singular, Reynaud’s especially who thinks that the future religion will not be revealed, nor brought to light at once, but will be evolved gradually by le progrès de la raison publique, like a science. They have all sorts of vagaries too about the “Orient” & are grubbing into Sanscrit and Chinese literature in hopes of finding something which may help towards raising up this religion which is to be built up, brick after brick. I recollect in a number of the Revue Encyclopédique one of them says in express terms that since we know hardly anything of the East except the Bible, & since that is so good, doubtless if we knew more we should find something still better.—Among the individuals of another kind whom I saw & formed an acquaintance with, two made a particular impression upon me; two perfectly self-subsistent men in the best sense, or I am greatly mistaken in them; & in that, honorably distinguished from Frenchmen in general. Both these are republican leaders; leaders however of two very different sorts of republicans; or rather, not leaders, but men who follow no other person’s lead, and whom every one is glad to follow. These are, Carrel, the editor of the National, & Cavaignac, whose speech when on trial for a conspiracy two years ago I translated & inserted in the Examiner, where you may have seen it. I knew Carrel as the most powerful journalist in France, sole manager of a paper which while it keeps aloof from all coterie influence & from the actively revolutionary part of the republican body, has for some time been avowedly republican; & I knew that he was considered a vigorous, energetic man of action, who would always have courage & conduct in an emergency. Knowing thus much of him, I was ushered into the National office where I found six or seven of the innumerable rédacteurs who belong to a French paper, all dark-haired men with formidable moustaches (which many of the republicans have taken to wearing) & looking fiercely republican. Carrel was not there, & after waiting some time I was introduced to a slight elegant young man with extremely polished manners, no moustaches at all, and apparently fitter for a drawingroom than a camp; this was the commander-in-chief of those formidable looking champions. But it was impossible to be five minutes in his company without perceiving that he was accustomed to ascendancy, & so accustomed as not to feel it; instead of that eagerness & impetuosity which one finds in most Frenchmen, his manner is extremely deliberate; without any affectation he speaks in a sort of measured cadence, & in a manner of which your words “quiet emphasis” are more characteristic than of any man I know: there is the same quiet emphasis in his writings: a man singularly free, if we may trust appearances, from self-consciousness; simple, graceful, almost infantinely playful as they all say when he is among his intimates, & indeed I could see that myself; & combining perfect self-reliance with the most unaffected modesty; in opinions, & political position, the Fonblanque of France; like Fonblanque, too, standing quite alone (je n’aime pas, said he to me one day, à marcher en troupeau) occupying a midway position, facing one way towards the supporters of monarchy & an aristocratic limitation of the suffrage, with whom he will have no compromise, on the other towards the extreme republicans who have anti-property doctrines, and instead of his United-States republic, want a republic de la façon de la Convention, with something like a dictatorship in their own hands: he calls himself a Conservative Republican (l’opinion républicaine conservatrice); not but that he sees plainly that the present constitution of property admits of many improvements but he thinks they can only take place gradually or at least that philosophy has not yet matured them: & he would rather hold back than accelerate the revolution which he thinks inevitable, in order to leave time for ripening those great questions, chiefly affecting the constitution of property & the condition of the working classes, which would press for a solution if a revolution were to take place. As for himself he says that he is not un homme spécial, that his métier de journaliste engrosses him too much to enable him to study, and that he is profoundly ignorant of much upon which he would have to decide if he were in power; & could do nothing but bring together a body generally representative of the people, & assist in carrying into execution the dictates of their united wisdom. This is modest enough in the man who would certainly be President of the Republic if there were a republic within five years & the extreme party did not get the upper hand. He seems to know well what he does know: I have met with no such views of the French Revolution in any book, as those I have heard from him.—A very different man from Carrel is Cavaignac; he is president of the Société des Droits de l’Homme, who are the active stirring revolutionary party, who look up to Robespierre, and aim at l’égalité absolue: he is for taking the first opportunity for overthrowing the government by force, & thinks the opportunity must come in six months, or a year at farthest: a man whose name is energy; who cannot ask you the commonest question but in so decided a manner that he makes you start: a man who impresses you with a sense of irresistible power & indomitable will; you might fancy him an incarnation of Satan, if he were your enemy or the enemy of your party, & if you had not associated with him & seen how full of sweetness and amiableness & gentleness he is: intense in everything, he is the intensest of atheists, & says, “je n’aime pas ceux qui croient en Dieu” because “it is generally a reason for doing nothing for Man”: but his notion of Duty is that of a Stoic; he conceives it as something quite infinite, & having nothing whatever to do with Happiness, something immeasurably above it: a kind of half Manichean in his views of the universe: according to him man’s Life consists of one perennial & intense struggle against the principle of Evil, which but for that struggle would wholly overwhelm him: generation after generation carries on this battle, with little success as yet: he believes in perfectibility, & progressiveness, but thinks that hitherto progress has consisted only in removing some of the impediments to good, not in realising the good itself; that nevertheless the only satisfaction which man can realise for himself is in battling with this evil principle & overpowering it; that after evils have accumulated for centuries, there sometimes comes one great clearing-off on one day of reckoning called a revolution; that it is only on such rare occasions, very rarely indeed on any others, that good men get into power, & then they ought to seize the opportunity for doing all they can; that any government which is boldly attacked, by ever so small a minority, may be overthrown, & that is his hope with regard to the present government. His notion of égalité absolue is rather speculative than practical: he says he does not know whether it should be by an equal division of the means of production (land and capital) or by an equal division of the produce: when I stated to him the difficulties of both he felt & acknowledged them; all he had to propose were but a variety of measures tending towards an equalisation of property: & he seems to have a strange reliance on events, thinking that when the end is clearly conceived, the circumstances of the case would when power is in the right hands, suggest the most appropriate means. Cavaignac is the son of a Conventionalist and regicide. He is a much more accomplished man than most of the political men I saw there; has a wider range of ideas, converses on Art, & most subjects of general interest: always throwing all he has to say into a few brief energetic sentences, as if it was contrary to his nature to expend one superfluous word. Just as I was coming away he gave me the first two numbers of a periodical work which a set of republicans have just set up. All of it seems to be rubbish except the introductory discourse, which is by Cavaignac, and which is an exposition of his philosophy, his idea of “the significance of man’s life”: it contains all that I have just written to you & much of the same sort, but my impressions were not derived from it, but from his conversation; and the essay appeared to me a complete résumé of the man: such as it is, it made no sensation whatever; it flew over the heads of Carrel & the rest, they all voted it vague, abstract, metaphysical, & the like: you will be struck with it; I send it in Fraser’s parcel. I am to correspond with Cavaignac and Carrel & various others and shall know much more of them I hope: with Carrel I am to establish an exchange of articles; Carrel is to send some to the Examiner and I am to send some to the National, with liberty to publish them here. I could tell you much more of these men & other men, but this is enough for one letter—let me hear your remarks & questions, and they will remind me of a hundred things which I have omitted. I have other things to write, too, not about Paris: but they must wait. On the whole, I think you will go to Paris next summer, and I probably shall pay my visit to you there instead of Craigenputtoch. You will find several persons there eager to be friendly, among others, Cousin. His name reminds me of a hundred things to tell you in my next.—Let me hear from you soon. My best remembrances to Mrs Carlyle.—Vale mei memor.
J. S. Mill
Read Buller on Mirabeau in the Cochrane Review —did you detect me in the Exr reviewing Miss Martineau, & Col. Napier?
TO WILLIAM JOHNSON FOX
26th November, 1833
Roebuck, Strutt, Buller, and other radical members of Parliament have a scheme to start a radical review as their organ, with individual signatures like J.R., in which we should all of us write—the thing looks possible, and everybody seems so eager about it that I really think it will come to pass.
If so, it will train up both readers and writers for The Monthly Repository, The Examiner, Tait, and all. Strength is multiplied by division when it is growing strength. [. . .]
The Examiner has hoisted a flag of distress. Fonblanque cannot go on, and the paper may stop any week. He can retrench so as to cover the weekly loss if he had £1000 in hand. This he proposes raising by inducing 100 persons to pay £10 each, for which they are to receive his paper for ten years, and for which (without counting on any increase of sale) he can carry it on on the chance of reduction of the stamp duties within that time. What think you of the scheme? And if you think well of it, would you—not subscribe yourself—but mention the proposition to any persons you know who would?
A much better plan selon moi would be that someone who has £1000 should put it down himself to become the proprietor, keeping Fonblanque as editor only, and the other persons interested remaining creditors of the paper. If I were not in the India House and were going to remain in England I would do so immediately, that is, I would propose it to Fonblanque, who I think must consent—and I would have him as political editor and take the literary and art department myself. But that it seems cannot be—and I fear nobody else will—though it would at worst be only an advance without interest, at best an extremely profitable investment.
TO VICTOR COUSIN
India House, 30 Novembre 1833
Mon cher Monsieur,
Parmi les documents que vous avez désiré avoir au sujet de ce qui ce fait ici sur l’éducation considérée comme affaire d’Etat, je n’ai pu encore me procurer que le discours de mon ami Roebuck, qui m’a chargé de vous en faire hommage en son nom. Vous verrez qu’il donne à l’élection populaire le choix des instituteurs primaires. Vous mettrez peut-être cela sur le compte du radicalisme; mais radicalisme ou non, je crois que, dans notre pays, où la centralisation n’est nullement dans les mœurs, c’est la le seul moyen de faire accepter par la nation l’éducation forcée.
Quant au commencement d’exécution que reçoit aujourd’hui ce principe introduit, pour ainsi dire, par supercherie, dans nos lois, mon ami Chadwick, qui en est l’auteur principal, m’a promis des renseignements que j’aurai l’honneur de vous faire parvenir par la première occasion. C’est alors que je prendrai la liberté de vous écrire plus au long.
Je n’ai pas encore vu Madame Austin, à qui cependant j’ai envoyé depuis longtemps les petits ouvrages que vous m’avez confiés pour elle. Un léger mal aux yeux qui m’a forcé de rester chez moi le soir, ne m’empêchera sans doute pas beaucoup plus longtemps d’aller la voir. Je ne sais pas si elle vous a écrit. Son adresse est, 5 Orme Square, Bayswater.
Agréez, mon cher Monsieur, l’hommage de mon profond respect.
J. S. Mill
Si vous vouliez me donner des nouvelles de votre santé, vous me feriez un très grand plaisir.
TO THOMAS CARLYLE
22d December 1833.
My dear Carlyle
Your letter had been hoped for and expected & in one sense waited for, a considerable time—for I had various matters of interest to write to you about, but as I hoped for a letter so soon I delayed writing till I could make my letter answer yours.
One of those matters is, the affair of the Examiner, of which you have heard somewhat from Hayward. It is in difficulties, and those of so serious a kind, that if something had not been done or attempted immediately to save it, there was danger of its stopping altogether. The cause is melancholy enough, being less the circumstances of the paper, though it is not prosperous, than those of Fonblanque himself, who, like his father before him, has wanted firmness to restrain his expenses within his means. Since he enlarged the paper in January 1831, it has yielded him little; it allows him nominally £500 a year; reckoning that in addition to its other expenses it has during these three years lost on the average £6 a week; which coming out of his £500 reduced it to below £200. He, meantime, has been living at a rate most needlessly expensive, and is at last so completely drained, & his credit I should think so completely exhausted, that he can go on no longer. Strange that a man who writes so feelingly and powerfully on this same weakness should so act—but not at all strange, only melancholy, that one who so acts, possessing intellect, should so write. If his difficulties do not ruin the paper, it is in no danger; for means of retrenchment present themselves to the extent of £8 or £9 a week, by discharging Chadwick, whose work Fonblanque takes upon himself in addition to his own; and by cheaper arrangements for printing and paper; which however depend upon first paying off an arrear to his printer & stationer. £1000 would do all this, & start him fair with £500 a year & an improving property; for advertisements, the great source of profit to a paper, have as you must have observed with pleasure, multiplied exceedingly in the Exr since the reduction of the duty. The £1000 it were to be wished that some one person of the right disposition should have advanced, becoming thereby proprietor, in the place of F. whose personal circumstances would then have ceased to compromise the paper, & who would of course have been retained as editor. This I would myself have proposed to do, were not my position with regard to the India House, which hampers my freedom of action in a thousand ways but which shall not hamper it always, in this case an insuperable obstacle. What has been attempted is, to raise the money in subscriptions of £10 each from 100 persons, each of whom is to receive the paper gratis for ten years. Sixty promises have been obtained, the remaining forty are still to seek: as many as twenty more are I think as good as certain—but less than the whole hundred will not do, for the debts on the paper amount to £780 & money to the extent of the remainder will then be wanted to start it fair, or perhaps (for I know not) to keep poor Fonblanque out of the King’s Bench. I am doing all I can to interest people in the matter—& should have written to you among the first, had I not known that you could do little (if anything) in the way either of subscribing or procuring subscriptions. I think we shall succeed, but it will require a vigorous effort.—The sale of the Examiner does not much exceed 3000 copies. This is as you say a scandalous symptom, yet there are many causes that contribute to it besides the scandalous ones that first suggest themselves. Of course it can only expect buyers (readers are quite another matter) from radicals: now of these the more vulgar sort find as much radicalism in other papers, of a more direct and palpable kind, with greater breadth, as the painters say: for Fonblanque’s genius, fine as it is, goes all into the details—not into the general mode of treating a subject: he does not go straight to the main point, despising all little side views, dwell upon that & make that tell—like the Times, which with materials of no intrinsic value whatever writes powerfully for popular effect, as Fonblanque might do with his powers, though scarcely with his turn of mind. Then F.’s allusions, expressions, stile, all the garb of his thoughts is intelligible, or at least impressive, only to persons of literary, one might say almost classical education, & most of them are not radicals.—Not to mention that such as do not take a daily paper, require in a weekly one a better abstract of news—that I hope will now in some degree be mended. Then the more moderate radicals are revolted by the tone of hatred in which the paper is written. This feeling extends to many who would have no objection to, but would applaud, the utterance of the bitterest truths, but do not like a perpetual carping at little things, honestly indeed, yet often unfairly & making no personal allowances, sometimes misstating altogether the kind of blame which is deserved, & meting it out in unequal measures to different people, so as to give an appearance of spleen & personal antipathy to individuals—especially to some of the Ministers, & among them, most perhaps to some of those who deserve it rather less than the others. In all this there is much truth; on the other hand much also is to be said for Fonblanque, but on the whole not enough to acquit him entirely. So he has really no partisans at all, & loses by almost all his excellencies and by his faults too. At the very time when he was offending the moderate radicals by the nature of his attacks on the ministry, he was losing at the rate of 100 subscribers every week for some time by resisting the anti-police furor. Still, the position of the paper will be a good one if this money can be raised, & raised I hope it will be.
I have another piece of news to tell you: the principal radicals in parliament & many of those out of it have a scheme for starting a new quarterly review, & are exerting themselves so much for it that they will probably succeed in setting it going. The first promoters of it were Roebuck, Buller, & I; & we shall probably be the surest & most regular contributors, though there will be abundance of others—All the educated radicals to whom the thing has been mentioned enter into it with a degree of warmth unusual with them & offer both pecuniary & literary assistance. There is but one exception—& that one I lament to say is Grote—who has gradually sunk into a state always too congenial to him, of thinking that no good is to be done & who therefore will certainly never do any—at most no harm, & scarcely that, for it is harm to discourage others. A bookseller is willing to take the risk for two years provided editorship & writers are found for that period—in order to do so, the rich radicals, Strutt, Warburton, Sir. W. Molesworth, the Marshalls of Leeds, & others, are going to raise money of the necessary amount among themselves & their friends, in shares of £25 or £50 the same person being allowed to take any number. The plan (Roebuck’s & mine, to which all have at once assented) is, to drop altogether every kind of lying; the lie of pretending that all the articles are reviews, when more than half of them are not; and the lie of pretending that all the articles proceed from a corps, who jointly entertain all the opinions expressed. There is to be no we; but each writer is to have a signature, which he may avow or not as he pleases, but which (unless there be special reasons to constitute an exception) is to be the same for all his articles, thus making him individually responsible & allowing his opinions to derive what light they can from one another. The editor answers only for adequate literary merit, & a general tendency not in contradiction to the objects of the publication. They would I believe make me editor if I would take it—but I cannot; hampered again! but this time it is of little consequence, for I hope they will have Mr. Fox, who will be quite as fit: if they will not have him, there are other candidates not unfit though not so fit. If this scheme goes on, I hope you will write for the review or at least in it. As an organ of utterance it will be at least more congenial to you than Fraser’s Magazine. It is true the prejudices of our Utilitarians are at least as strong against some of your writings as those of any other persons whatever, & though the individual signature would smooth many difficulties, even that would hardly, with them, have covered your “Characteristics” or “Teufelsdröckh” (were you afraid of the word Dreck?) but such an article as that on Johnson they would have delighted in; that on Ebenezer Elliott & various others of yours would have suited them perfectly. In fact, I hardly know one of your opinions, as often as you do not feel yourself called upon to make a direct attack upon themselves, which they would have any difficulty in getting on with: and I expect no difficulty in getting a passport for any of mine, which except in mere metaphysics, are quite as unlike theirs as yours are: what revolts them is the combination of opinions new & often strange to them, with a manner (to them) equally new & still more strange, & which prevents them not only from understanding your meaning but from desiring to understand it. I have never found one of them who, after taking the trouble to read enough of your writings to understand any thing of your drift, did not recognise in them much more of what he deemed good than of what he deemed bad; it is true I have found few who would take that trouble, & some of those few would not have done so if they had not had faith (derived from my testimony) that it was worth while. I tell you this, to let you know how the land lies. There is nothing in what I have said that needs be any obstacle to your writing for this review—it simply shews under what conditions either of subject or else of manner your writings will be acceptable to it. To me your manner being the natural clothing or rather skin of your thoughts, is (whenever I understand those) all that it should be: so however is Plato’s: whom however I would not counsel to preach at St Paul’s in good Attic Greek: of course I am exaggerating, for the purpose of illustration. Here is a letter neither menschlich nor geistlich but wholly dinglich: you will be I think not more than a week without another letter; there is so much of the two former kinds to be said. I have not answered your letter, as you see. As for your letters, they are never, I think, more menschlich than when they are geistlich, nor more geistlich than when menschlich. Yours affectionately
J. S. Mill
I long to see your Collier book, yet could wish for the sake of it that you had received long since what you will receive soon, unless the diligence to which Adolphe d’Eichthal has entrusted it, prove unfaithful. This is, (if I rightly recollect, for I have not his letter by me) a collection, in two volumes 8vo, of all the pièces du procès; a book without which, he says, everybody says there is no getting any conception of what it was. This book is to come, along with the Hénault, & shall go by Fraser’s next, if it come in time. I know not why my parcel had not yet reached you. Do you still desire Babbage’s book on Manufactures? I have at length borrowed it, & can lend. The Roland is mine, and I do not want it: your books have never returned after, generally much before they were needed. Beaumarchais’ works since you have not read them will be of the greatest value & interest to you—they throw light on a great deal, had immense effect at the time, & are works of real genius. I have them not; but will endeavour to borrow them—it is quite a new idea to me that you have need of them.—Fraser’s address is or was lately, 22 Wilton Crescent. I see little of him. my kind regards to Mrs Carlyle.
Of the St Simonians next time; vide also a forthcoming Examiner.
Roebuck, & much else, postponed.