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1834 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XII - The Earlier Letters of John Stuart Mill 1812-1848 Part I 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XII - The Earlier Letters of John Stuart Mill 1812-1848 Part I, ed. Francis E. Mineka, Introduction by F.A. Hayek (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963).
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TO THOMAS CARLYLE1
12th January 1834.
My dear Carlyle
Your little note dated the 24th was evidently written before you received my letter written I forget when, but which I fear lost the first week’s post. I am therefore still expecting an answer to that letter, but shall not wait for it, mindful that I still owe you an answer to your last long letter,2 —and a fuller answer too than can be given in any moderate space. I feel that letter a kind of call upon me to a more complete unfolding to you of my opinions and ways of thinking than I have ever yet made; which however cannot be all accomplished at once, but must be gradual. In the very fact that there has not been that full explanation, and that I feel moved to it now, you may see that there has taken place a great change in my character and one of which you will wholly approve—a change, not from any kind of insincerity, but to a far higher kind of sincerity than belonged to me before. This change has been progressive, and had barely begun to take place when you were in London two years ago. I was then, and had been for some years, in an intermediate state—a state of reaction from logical-utilitarian narrowness of the very narrowest kind, out of which after much unhappiness and inward struggling I had emerged, and had taken temporary refuge in its extreme opposite. My first state had been one of intense philosophic intolerance; not arising from the scornfulness of the heart but from the onesidedness of the understanding: seeing nothing myself but the distorted image, thrown back from many most oblique and twisted reflectors, of one side only of the truth. I felt towards all who saw any other side, not indeed a feeling of disdain, for that never was in my character but the very utmost excess of intellectual vilipending. At that time I was thought to outrer the doctrines of utilitarianism, even by those who now consider me a lost sheep who has strayed from the flock and been laid hold of by the wolves. That was not wonderful; because even in the narrowest of my then associates, they being older men, their ratiocinative and nicely concatenated dreams were at some point or other, & in some degree or other, corrected and limited by their experience of actual realities, while I, a school-boy fresh from the logic-school, had never conversed with a reality; never seen one; knew not what manner of thing it was; had only spun, first other people’s & then my own deductions from assumed premisses. Now when I had got out of this state, and saw that my premisses were mere generalizations of one of the innumerable aspects of Reality, & that far from being the most important one; and when I had tried to go all round every object which I surveyed, and to place myself at all points of view, so to have the best chance of seeing all sides; I think it is scarcely surprising that for a time I became catholic and tolerant in an extreme degree, & thought one-sidedness almost the one great evil in human affairs, seeing it was the evil which had been the bane of my own teachers, & was also that of those who were warring against my teachers. I never indeed was tolerant of aught but earnest Belief; but I saw, or seemed to see, so much of good & of truth in the positive part of the most opposite opinions & practices, could they but be divested of their exclusive pretensions, that I scarcely felt myself called upon to deny anything but Denial itself. I never made strongly prominent my differences with any sincere, truth-loving person; but held communion with him through our points of agreement, endeavoured in the first place to appropriate to myself whatever was positive in him, & if he gave me any encouragement, brought before him also whatever of positive might be in me, which he till then had not. A character most unlike yours; of a quite lower kind, & which if I had not outgrown, & speedily too, there could have been little worth in me.—Do you remember a paper I wrote in an early number of Tait,3 reviewing a book by a Mr. Lewis (a man of considerable worth, of whom I shall have something more to say yet). That paper paints exactly the state of my mind & feelings at that time. It was the truest paper I had ever written, for it was the most completely an outgrowth of my own mind & character: not that what is there taught, was the best I even then had to teach; nor perhaps did I even think it so; but it contained what was uppermost in me at that time; and differed from most else that I knew in having emanated from me, not, with more or less perfect assimilation, merely worked itself into me.—Now from this my intellectual history, in relating which I have faith that I have not presumed too much upon your interest in me, you will easily see why it is that we two have so rarely canvassed together, or even mentioned to each other our differences. I never or rarely felt myself called upon to come into collision with any one, except those to whom I felt myself altogether superior, & with whom if I had any intellectual communion it was not for the sake of learning but of teaching. I have not, till lately, and very gradually, found out that this is not honest; that although I have not positively, I have negatively, done much to give to you and to others, a false opinion of me: though the deliberation with which you form your opinions, always waiting for sufficient grounds, has I think protected you from forming an actually false opinion of me, & I have only to accuse myself of not having afforded you sufficient means of forming the true. Whether if you knew me thoroughly I should stand higher, or lower, either in your esteem or in your affection, I know not; in some things you seem to think me further from you than I am, in others perhaps I am further from you than you know. On the whole I think if all were told I should stand lower; but there cannot fail, any way, to be much which we shall mutually not only respect but greatly prize in each other; and after all, this, as you & I both know, is altogether of secondary importance; the first being, that we, and all persons and all things, should be seen truly—and as they are.
Our differences are indeed of the first importance, and to you must appear of infinite importance; though for reasons which you will feel the force of, they do not, in my feeling, throw me to so great a distance from you as they perhaps will in yours. The first and principal of these differences is, that I have only, what appears to you much the same thing as, or even worse than, no God at all; namely, a merely probable God. By probable I do not mean as you sometimes do, in the sense of the Jesuits, “that which has weighty authorities in its favour”. I mean that the existence of a Creator is not to me a matter of faith, or of intuition; & as a proposition to be proved by evidence, it is but a hypothesis, the proofs of which as you I know agree with me, do not amount to absolute certainty. As this is my condition in spite of the strongest wish to believe, I fear it is hopeless; the unspeakable good it would be to me to have a faith like yours, I mean as firm as yours, on that, to you, fundamental point, I am as strongly conscious of when life is a happiness to me, as when it is, what it has been for long periods now past by, a burthen. But I know that neither you nor any one else can be of any use to me in this, & I content myself with doing no ill, by never propagating my uncertainties. The reason why I think I shall never alter on this matter is, that none of the ordinary difficulties as they are called, as the origin of evil, & such like, are any serious obstacles to me; it is not that the logical understanding, invading the province of another faculty, will not let that other higher faculty do its office; there is wanting something positive in me, which exists in others; whether that something be, as sceptics say, an acquired association, or as you say, a natural faculty. So you see I am nearly as proper an object of your pity as Cavaignac; nevertheless I do not feel myself so, having, as I have, other supports, which the want of that one cannot take away. With respect to the immortality of the soul I see no reason to believe that it perishes; nor sufficient ground for complete assurance that it survives; but if it does, there is every reason to think that it continues in another state such as it has made itself here, & no further affected by the change than it would be by any equally great event during its sojourn on earth, were such possible. Consequently in all we do here we are working for our “hereafter” as well as our “now.”—Now, were you aware that I was in such a state of uncertainty on these main points? I am almost sure that you were not much mistaken in the matter, but yet were not quite certain that you knew.
Another of our differences is, that I am still, & am likely to remain, a utilitarian; though not one of “the people called utilitarians”; indeed, having scarcely one of my secondary premisses in common with them; nor a utilitarian at all, unless in quite another sense from what perhaps any one except myself understands by the word. It would take a whole letter to make it quite clear to you what I mean; & I feel perfectly that I have stated the difference between us in a manner & in terms which give no just idea of what it really is, & that every explanation I shall hereafter make will show that difference to be less than the words I have used seem to import. One of the explanations I have to give, I partly indicate by saying, as I do most fully, that I entirely recognise with you the “infinite nature of Duty”.4 Yet by this too, if unexplained, I should convey an idea of as much greater an agreement with you than the truth warrants, as I do in the other case of a less agreement. This also must wait till another time for a fuller developement. You will see, partly, with what an immense number & variety of explanations my utilitarianism must be taken, & that those explanations affect its essence, not merely its accidental forms, when I tell you that on the very point on which you express your belief so kindly & with so much ménagement and appeal to my future self, & promise not to be angry if I differ from you “even with vehemence”, I agree & have long agreed with you, even in the most decided and vehement manner. I have never, at least since I had any convictions of my own, belonged to the benevolentiary, soup-kitchen school. Though I hold the good of the species (or rather of its several units) to be the ultimate end, (which is the alpha & omega of my utilitarianism) I believe with the fullest Belief that this end can in no other way be forwarded but by the means you speak of, namely by each taking for his exclusive aim the development of what is best in himself.5 I qualify or explain this doctrine no otherwise than as you yourself do, since you hold that every human creature has an appointed task to perform which task he is to know & find out for himself; this can only be by discovering in what manner such faculties as he possesses or can acquire may produce most good in the world: meaning by the world a larger or a smaller part of it as may happen. Thus you think it a part of your duty, of your work, to address yourself, through the press, to the “species” at large. Further than that I do not go; perhaps even less far. And when once I have written down my Belief & sent it forth in such manner as happens or seems to be the most effectual within my reach, I harass myself as little as you do with any thought about the consequences; being like yourself perfectly satisfied that what I have done, if done in the spirit of my own creed, will “prove in reality all & the utmost that I was capable of doing” for mankind.
And now do not “take it ill” if I say how much it surprised me that you should think it necessary to say you would not “take it ill” if I differed from you. I never for an instant suspected that you would take ill any difference of opinion while you continue fully assured that the dissentient is sincere, earnest, & truth-loving: and you never allow me to be under a moment’s fear that you are unassured of that in my case. Grieved you might be at what you might deem my errors, but that feeling you could not mean to disavow; nor would it be any pleasure to me, but the contrary, if you could.—In your recent letters you have several times expressed surprise at opinions & feelings of mine which you did not expect, & which you have said proved to you how little you yet know me; & which in truth did shew, how small a part of my character I had yet shewn to you; so much smaller a part than I was aware of: truly I begin to think that instead of being as I once thought I was, the most self-conscious person living, I am much less self-conscious now, (whatever I was once) than almost anybody. But what most shews how little I had afforded you an insight into, is that the fact of my having recently read the New Testament, & what I wrote to you of the impressions it had made upon me,6 should have formed as it seems to have done, an era in your opinion & feeling concerning me. In my own history it is no era; it has made no new impression, only strengthened the best of the old: I have for years had the very same idea of Christ, & the same unbounded reverence for him as now; it was because of this reverence that I sought a more perfect acquaintance with the records of his life, that indeed gave new life to the reverence, which in any case was becoming or was closely allied with all that was becoming a living principle in my character.
Here is a very long letter; yet how little it says of all that is to be said! However you see that you are likely to know much more of me hereafter than you have known hitherto. I must expend this remaining space on matters of fact. The two volumes on the collier, together with Henault7 , came from Adolphe d’Eichthal & went off immediately, I hope in time to go by Fraser’s last parcel. I wonder at your not having received the other books. The Examiner subscribers amount now to 80 of the required 100, & others are known to be coming.—The review proceeds hopefully, but assurance is needed of a greater number of acceptable writers. The paper on the Repository was mine, also that in last Examiner on the new number,8 & I have recommenced my French articles. The paper on Miss Martineau9 was really a paper on Impressment. D’Eichthal says you will find much on the collier in the history by the Abbé Montgaillard,10 and in the Mémoires secrets de Bachaumont:11 this last person wrote down the doings & talkings of every successive day. The 2 vols I have sent, contain the mémoires of the different parties in the cause. How find you the Goesman Memoires?12 Make my kind remembrances to Mrs Carlyle and believe me Faithfully yours
J. S. Mill.
TO JOHN PRINGLE NICHOL1
17th January, 2
My dear Sir,
Your letter gave me the pleasure your letters always do, and that is a constantly increasing pleasure, for every fresh communication discloses new points of agreement and sympathy. Whoever else may have difficulty in co-operating, we two shall find it easy; for wherever we turn our minds separately to the same subject, we seem always to arrive at the same, or at the lowest, perfectly harmonious conclusions. . . . About the Review—though I felt almost sure that you would approve of it, and enter into it with the warmth which I wish were as characteristic of all our friends as of you, it is no less a satisfaction to me to find that I was not mistaken. The project advances, and if we had a sufficient list of good writers on whom we could rely so as to be independent of chance contributions, we could start almost immediately; but, unhappily, “the harvest is great, and the labourers are few”—there are scarcely any first-rate minds forming—indè origo mali—we want such an organ quite as much to train up public instructors, to erect a Normal School of Literature as for any temporary or party purposes. Though I do not say so to any one whose zeal I am afraid of damping, I do not think we shall be ready before the 1st of January next year. We can do little till Parliament meets, and our friends come to town; and our arrangements will not be made in time to publish the first number before the end of the session, which is so bad a time for a new literary undertaking that it will be better to postpone, and employ the delay in accumulating a stock of good articles to start with. Meantime, we shall increase our corps, and shall ascertain the result of several experiments, especially Tait’s reduction of price (Roebuck, who has just come from Bath, says the reduction will tenfold the sale in that city, but then Tait’s magazine means Roebuck’s magazine, at Bath, where his popularity is boundless. I say boundless, because he is able to get over everything though constantly meeting with rubs. Two public meetings have been necessary to obliterate the impression produced by his having, in Tait, termed Watts’ hymns a “wretched farrago”).3 About an editor—the fittest who has presented himself, and also the least objected to hitherto, is Mr. Fox, whom you know probably most as a writer in The Westminster Review, and leader of the Political Union in London. His principles, opinions, talents, and attainments, render him, I think, eminently fit; the objection is his being a Unitarian minister, and that objection is only as to the appearance, not the fact, as you well know if you ever read The Monthly Repository, of which he is editor and proprietor, and has divested it of its sectarian character so completely as to have lost the support of almost all the Unitarians. His religion, of the most unobtrusive kind, is what the religion of all denominations would be, if we were in a healthy state—a religion of spirit, not of dogma, and catholic in the best sense. For writers, those we most rely on for regular support are my father, who, if he continues to be satisfied with the conduct of the Review, will, I have no doubt, write frequently; Roebuck, Buller, and myself (the originators of the scheme), Fonblanque, John Wilson, secretary to the Factory Commission, a most valuable man; Fox himself, to whom we have now the pleasure of adding you. Strutt and Hawkins4 will write occasionally. Many others, some of them most valuable, have promised assistance, but we cannot count upon them to the same extent. With some of the very best it is on the cards whether they will be able to give us much of their time or none; for instance, Chadwick, the poor Law Commissioner, one of the most remarkable men of our time in the practical art of Government, Dr. Southwood Smith,5 and a variety of others. Can you help us to swell the list? Since I have mentioned The Monthly Repository, I will exhort you if it falls in your way to read it, and I should be happy, if it does not, to send you a number now and then as I am anxious both for Mr. Fox’s sake and for its merit, to spread it abroad in every way—it has an uphill fight for success, having lost almost all its old circulation and gained an entirely new one—and it has little or no bibliopolic support. It is highly gratifying to me to find my views on the definition and method of Political Economy6 coinciding with those of so competent a judge as yourself—it is by the approbation of such persons as you (and how few they are) that the fate of such speculations must be decided—but I hope for more from you than simple approbation, you who will enter perfectly into the spirit of all I have written so far as it is true, will also be able to add much to it and to suggest all manner of further developments, clearer explanations and apter illustrations, and I most earnestly beg you to do so—as I am ambitious that the essay, even if for that end it should remain unpublished for twenty years, should become classical and of authority; and as I am persuaded that the foundation of the truth is here, I do not despair by the help of the very few whose help is worth having in such a case, of gradually perfecting the execution until it may deserve more than an ephemeral existence. I was prepared for our agreeing in the main, as I think we always shall on questions of philosophic method, because we always have hitherto, and because we have both of us laid the foundation in the study of physics. Though my acquaintance with either mathematical or experimental science is not profound as yours is, but extremely superficial, it is sufficient to have enabled me to lay hold of the methods and appropriate to myself fully as much as any metaphysician has ever done, the logic of physical science—yet I feel great imperfections still in that department, and look forward to soliciting much of your aid not only for little things like this but for a much more elaborate work on Logic which I have made some progress in. I am extremely glad that you are writing for the F.Q.7 an article which I have long wished written, and look forward to its perusal with great expectation both of pleasure and of valuable suggestions for the guidance of my own mind. It is a great honour to my MS. that you should wish to quote anything from it in your article; I most readily delegate to you absolute powers over it for that purpose; only the very flattering expressions which you are kind enough to apply to it in your letter induce me to request that if you mention my name (which I leave to your option) the quotation may be left to speak for itself. The passport of your recommendation is given by the fact of its insertion, and the public have seen so much of coteries of men puffing one another into a fictitious reputation that one is anxious to avoid any such appearance—but you do not need that I should say to you these things—though if I were writing of you perhaps I should. My habit and inclination is to simplicity in all things, and I can as little conceive that a man of any dignity of character can feel hurt by praise as by blame—but one is obliged to defer to appearances and avoid vulgarising oneself by being confounded with the herd of those who quack for a reputation. Tait has shown his usual want of delicacy (he has the least nicety of perception of all men I know) in laying praise with a trowel on his own contributors as he does—if I had not been past blushing I should have blushed the other day both for him and those of us whom he bedaubed in a recent number.8
J. S. Mill.
TO WILLIAM TAIT1
My dear Sir
A few weeks ago I cashed the accompanying draft for our friend Roebuck and I now send it, but am in no hurry for payment.
The first number of your new series is I think better than any of the old—and I like the getting up & the outward & inward appearance of the new much more than of the old.
Is the “English Opium-Eater” the author of the clever gossiping paper on Hannah More?2 and is it permitted to ask who he is? & also who is the writer on “the Decline & Fall of the Empire of Fashion”?3
The paper I like least is that on the “Streets of London.”4
I shall expect with some anxiety the result of the experiment of lowering the price. Roebuck says that it will increase tenfold the sale at Bath—but Bath is not a fair specimen, for Tait to the Bath people means Roebuck, & all his party who can afford it are sure to buy it—
J. S. Mill.
TO WILLIAM JOHNSON FOX1
Friday [Feb. 14?, 1834]
I send the first of the notes2 —I have two short ones besides, which I do not send yet, because something may occur in the remaining days of the month to change them.
You will tell me when I must close the series & send them to press?
On looking again at those two articles in the last M. R. I wonder how I could ever have said what I did say to their disadvantage—but I suppose first impressions, in a question of manner, are most likely to be right.
Thibaudeau3 is so dilatory that I fear I shall scarcely have my French paper for this month.
I like the Coriolanus4 better on a second reference to it.
I hope we shall meet oftener—we four or rather five5 —as we did on Tuesday—I do not see half enough of you—and I do not, half enough, see anybody along with her6 —that I think is chiefly what is wanting now—that, and other things like it—
J. S. M.
TO WILLIAM JOHNSON FOX1
Saturday [Feb. 22, 1834]
On second thoughts I do not find so much to say as I expected about tithes—a few lines will do their business.2 If it would not be troublesome & expensive to add & subtract when the article is in type, we might see how much it prints to, & then judge. I go on at all events, writing the notes, so if it be found worth while to introduce a half sheet in the manner you mention, there is sure to be matter enough to fill it up.
On the subject of attendance3 I agree with you, & will subjoin the sentence you suggest—respecting libel4 I adhere to the full extent of my opinion, and should be glad if you differ from me to make the M.R. the scene of an amicable controversy on the subject. I think “tolerance, freedom, and sincerity” would not be generated; to suppose they would, is to suppose that the revelations in question would ultimately lead to this, that true statements would be believed & false ones disbelieved: now my whole argument rests upon this as its foundation that truth, in any rational sense of the term, cannot in such cases be got at by the public; that true charges cannot be distinguished from false ones by such a tribunal. I should expect one of two results; that the lives of all but the independent in fortune & brave in heart, would be thoroughly artificialized, by becoming one continued struggle to save appearances & escape misinterpretation, or else that freedom would work itself out by what seems to have taken place in America, calumny & scandal carried to such a length that nobody believes anything which appears in print, & as none can escape such imputations, nobody regards them.
[Postscript probably intended for Eliza Flower]
I wish I could give him10 half of my health and take half of some of his other endowments.
Now I hope you will get this in time—
TO WILLIAM JOHNSON FOX1
[Feb. 24, 1834]
Let it be so by all means. You will have received today from her,2 the note on Tithe.3 As the subject will have got on into another stage by next month, this might if there be room & if it is worth while, be added at the end of the No. as a separate short article.
I know all about the Saturday scheme, & in any way if it takes effect I hope to have a share in it. How could it give pain, or anything but extreme pleasure to me? but all the pros and cons have been discussed yestereven and she will have told you all that we think about it.
On the truth question she completely agrees with me.4
Health and peace and blessing and love to both—and continue to give some love to me as I do to you—
It was sweet of you to write those last words.5
TO THOMAS CARLYLE1
2d March 1834
My dear Carlyle
This is going to be a strange miscellaneous kind of a letter. I have a long arrear of little things to bring up, and for the present few great ones to say—and am in a mood in which it is impossible for me to say them if I had, for nothing but the most dogged determination not to lose another post could induce me to overcome the extreme aversion which I feel to writing a letter this morning. I must take your two letters as an index of the subjects to be written about. First, to answer your questions as to the projected Periodical. On a rough classification of periodicals into Tory, Whig, & Radical, there are as you truly say, various radical reviews & magazines already; even radical-utilitarian ones; but the radical-utilitarians who promote this new project, do not recognise in any of the existing works what they want; they wish to throw the combined strength of the most thoughtful & fertile-minded of the radicals into one publication, of a more weighty & elaborate character than any magazine can be; allowing itself to treat subjects at greater length than the Repository, or Tait; excluding all things which compromise the radical cause by platitude, or mediocrity, or ignorance, or subservience to any popular delusion; & on the whole representing as favourably as the materials admit, the radical intellect, which certainly is not, & never has been, fairly represented. Tait and the Westminster give an altogether exaggerated notion of its poverty and bareness. The “philosophical radicals” are narrow enough, it is true, though few of them are so narrow as Col. Thompson, the presiding spirit of the Westminster Review. But many of them are far from being empty; and they are generally much offended by the emptiness of the radical publications. I have no doubt that this review if it be started, will be one with which it will be pleasant to be associated; one will have not only more freedom, but far better companionship than in any publication which has yet existed. I have no doubt of its being established, except that which arises from my abundant experience of the incapacity of the radicals to cooperate. Those of them who have money, & station, are mostly impracticably fastidious; men of small objections; men to whom small difficulties appear great ones. They mostly surprised me by taking up this scheme with warmth.—Your papers on Knox, & on Authors,2 would both, I think, be extremely suitable to such a work: suitable both in respect to the subjects, & to the light in which you are likely to place them—You have time before you however, for as it will not be possible to start the work until the dead time of the year, we think it better to wait for the beginning of the next. Before the time therefore when it will be necessary to set about one or other of your articles, you will have heard more; I hope, seen: for if you come to London you can judge for yourself.
I greatly commend your project of establishing yourself here; which I have long thought would, as far as all circumstances are concerned of which I could judge, be the best thing you could do. I have thought so, this much more than ever, lately, in proportion as I have seen that you are capable of deriving much pleasure & support from communion with persons who are even a little superior to the herd in any of the elements of spiritual worth. I can now promise you, what I had not ventured to promise a year ago, that you will find many more persons than you expect who will be more or less in sympathy with you, & interesting to you. Any way, you will find many more here than anywhere else. Meantime you may reckon upon my doing all I can to smooth the way to your coming, & when you are come, to your finding all that you do or may seek.
The parcel of books came through Tait, a considerable time before they were announced; & came safe, but, by what misadventure I know not, saturated with whiskey: from the odour of which it will require considerable airing to free them, so thoroughly are they impregnated. You have not told me whether you will have Babbage. I have not much else to send you, except Repositories. I would send Montgaillard & Bachaumont3 if I had them or knew how to obtain them but by ordering them from a bookseller. Of the former I once read the first two volumes, & found much in them which at that time interested me; you will find the title in the review I wrote for the W.R. of Scott’s Napoleon4 if you still have the copy I gave you (if you have not I will send you another). Of Bachaumont, a work in innumerable volumes, I know nothing but what I may have read of it in the spurious Memoirs of Louis 18th,5 which they say were almost wholly made up from it, & which were certainly most amusing & most like an authentic picture of what one may suppose to have been going on then. By the way, have you ever read the Memoirs of St Simon?6 (the Duc de St Simon in the time of Louis 14th.) From what I read of it formerly (an abridged or rather mutilated edition) & from all I have heard of it since the complete edition appeared, I should think that no more complete setting before one’s eyes of a set of human creatures, had ever been achieved: the creatures themselves it is true were as little worth it, as any who have really existed can well be. Adolphe has repeated his recommendation of Montgaillard & Bachaumont, which therefore I suppose would be of real & great use to you.
What of work I have been doing lately has been chiefly for the day, until something of a more durable kind ripen itself within me. You will have recognised in the Examiner the resumption of my papers on French politics.7 Besides these I have written in the last Repository & mean to continue during the session “notes on the newspapers”8 so as to present for once at least a picture of our “statesmen” & of their doings, taken from the point of view of a radical to whom yet radicalism in itself is but a small thing. This was worth doing I think, & I have not been capable of doing much else lately. The Repository is also publishing some notes of mine upon Plato,9 mostly written long ago, which I thought might be of some interest & perhaps use, chiefly because they do not speculate and talk about Plato, but shew to the reader Plato himself. Copies of these I will speedily send to you through Simpkin & Marshall.—I am not at all “amazed” at your reading Homer, & should like very much to hear all you will have to say about him.—I entirely agree in what you say about Beaumarchais; of Morellet10 I have no very accurate recollection.
I have scarcely heard at all from any of my acquaintances (correspondents I cannot call them) at Paris; except a note from Cousin asking me to do some things for him, & the least, or shortest word of salutation from Cavaignac. His preface to “Paris Revolutionnaire”11 impressed me, much as it did you. It was to me, also, a résumé and piecing together of many scattered and fragmentitious notions gathered from his conversation. I have no doubt of the perfect sincerity of the paper; that is, of its containing the genuine views of life and human nature, which have possessed themselves of his convictions, & by which he steers his own course. He is accused however, of being much influenced by vanity, & the love of popularity: I should have thought, without ground, had not the most keen-sighted & penetrating discerner of character I ever knew, drawn from opportunities of observation at least equal to mine, that very inference.—I am not much surprised at not hearing from Carrel, as he is in such a state of persecution & harassing from the French government. This you will have learnt from the Examiner.
Fonblanque’s business goes well. Thanks for your mention of it to Tait; who has subscribed, & promised to speak to others. There is no necessity however for any further exertions, as the money is now all obtained or as good as obtained.
I would say something in acknowledgment of your so kind answer to my letter of “revelations” but I really cannot, just now, say anything of what I would say. I would rather ask of you, to speak more & more freely to me on those subjects & unfold to me more & more your whole mind in regard to them. I will also ask one or two questions more: Is not the distinction between Mysticism, the mysticism which is of Truth, & mere dreaming, or the substitution of imaginations for realities, exactly this, that mysticism may be “translated into logic?” I mean in the only sense in which I ever endeavour so to translate it. You will understand what I mean. Logic proves nothing, yet points out clearly whether and how all things are proved. This being my creed, of course none of my mysticism, if mysticism it be, rests on logic as its basis; yet I require to see how it looks in the logical dialect before I feel sure of it. And if I have any vocation I think it is exactly this, to translate the mysticism of others into the language of Argument. Have not all things two aspects, an Artistic and a Scientific; to the former of which the language of mysticism is the most appropriate, to the latter that of Logic? The mechanical people, whether theorists or men of the world, find the former unintelligible, & despise it. Through the latter one has a chance of forcing them to respect even what they cannot understand—and that once done, they may be made to believe what to many of them must always be in the utmost extent of the term “things unseen.” This is the service I should not despair of assisting to render, & I think it is even more needed now than works of art, because it is their most useful precursor, & one might, almost say, in these days their necessary condition.
Expand to me also more & more the meaning of “Humility” and “Entsagen.”
I had almost forgotten to mention the cost of those books. The Mémoires Adolphe was obliged to pay 24 francs for; if they be not worth that to you, they will (when you have done with them) to me, who am a sort of collector of books on French history. The Hénault cost (I think) 12 francs. There were I believe no others. Adolphe said he knew of no Dictionnaire Néologique, and we tried together to get a map of the “Ile de France” but could not find one. A map of the department of Seine et Oise might be got of course, & I expected that Adolphe would have sent it if he still found it impossible to procure the other. It can be got immediately if it would still be of use.
I am thinking of ordering from Paris a series which is in the course of publication & which from notices in the National I see to be very interesting, “Histoire parlementaire de la revolution française”12 being by far the completest collection ever made of original documents; including debates in the Clubs, & so forth. There are likewise memoirs concerning & papers of Mirabeau,13 published by a relation of his & undoubtedly authentic, but I fear having but little in them. These I shall attempt to borrow & look through before I buy them.
Thiers completely verifies the impression his history makes. Even among French ministers he stands out, conspicuously unprincipled.
J. S. Mill.
TO JOHN PRINGLE NICHOL1
15th April, 1834.
My dear Sir,
The inclosed statement is all that I have been able to think of that can at all promote your purpose. It is taken from the annual statistical volume now published by the Board of Trade, and prepared by Mr. Porter,2 of that department; a most valuable collection, which you ought to have, as it will not only save you hundreds of troublesome references, but also afford much information, the very existence of which you would not otherwise know of. This account, like many others in the volume, was prepared from returns furnished by the Inspector General of Exports and Imports expressly for that work. The table of protections annexed to Sir Henry Parnell’s book3 is classified by himself; at least, he gives a separate list of those which he considers to be inoperative; and I, judging only by conjecture, am unable to correct it in any point. But for your purpose, which does not require minute accuracy, the enclosed paper may perhaps afford sufficient materials. I suppose you have Sir Henry’s book.
I had been a letter in your debt for a most unreasonable time before I received your last, and I know not how to excuse myself for being so, for such a letter as yours was most assuredly deserved better treatment. Every letter I receive from you discovers, I will not say more and more points of agreement between us, for that would be little, but more and more traces of a general conformity in our views and in our methods; and this strikes me more whenever we travel on new ground. For instance, I was wondering whether you were a reader of Coleridge, and should certainly have asked you the question very soon, when you unexpectedly wrote to me about him exactly what I think of him myself—except, by the way, when you say, “as a politician he seems unprincipled.” I think he is not unprincipled but principled—his views on politics are, I have reason to believe, systematic. Did you ever read his little work on Church and State?4 If not, read it; if you have, tell me whether you agree with it in the main (I mean the Church part of it) as I do. Few persons have exercised more influence over my thoughts and character than Coleridge has; not much by personal knowledge of him, though I have seen and conversed with him several times, but by his works, and by the fact that several persons with whom I have been very intimate were completely trained in his school. Through them, too, I have had opportunities of reading various unpublished manuscripts of his; and, on the whole, I can trace through what I know of his works, pieced together by what I have otherwise learned of his opinions, a most distinct thread of connection. I consider him the most systematic thinker of our time, without excepting even Bentham, whose edifice is as well bound together, but is constructed on so much simpler a plan, and covers so much less ground. On the whole, there is more food for thought—and the best kind of thought—in Coleridge than in all other contemporary writers; and it is in many respects a great good that almost all the most accomplished and zealous of the rising defenders of the Church of England are pupils of his. They are mischievous only in this, that they will be effectual in keeping up, for a time, what they will not be effectual in shaping to their ideal of what it ought to be.
I am expecting with great anticipations of pleasure, your paper5 in the Foreign Quarterly—on a subject I have long wished to see treated as you will treat it—and also your tract on the Corn Law6 controversy. You should have a Bread-eaters’ Union to counteract the Bread-taxers’ Union. That Fife Herald7 interested me exceedingly; one so seldom has the pleasure of seeing a fallacy torn up by the roots, instead of being merely lopped, or at most levelled with the ground. What an immense superiority the scientific study of any detached point, by which I mean the habit of viewing it in its relations to all the rest of the field of which it forms a part, gives one over the mere dealers in εἰκότα και σημει̑α !8 I was forcibly struck with this when, soon after reading your Fife Herald, I read Lord Milton’s address to the landowners on the corn laws9 —well meant, but as feeble and shallow as may be expected from those who, as Plato says, “study pottery in the pot itself;”10 or, as Bacon says, “Naturam rei in ipsâ re perscrutantur.”11 It is a primitive fallacy to imagine that assurance of truth can be had by looking at the subject-matter in the concrete, without that process of analysis which men term abstraction. But that is the wise, practical way; and, for want of disciplined minds, you cannot make people understand that no conclusion obtained in that way ever rises above a more or less strong presumption, requiring to be philosophically verified—brought to the test of analytic investigation.
As for those Essays,12 not only I do not want them but I beg you to keep them by you a while longer, and to annotate them copiously—they have much need of it. By-the-bye, I believe almost all that I have written in the fourth essay13 concerning Interest is erroneous but it may lead you to think on the subject, if you have not already.
The Review scheme has been slumbering temporarily for want of assurance of a sufficient number of writers. O for ten men with your ardour of character, and rectitude of intellect! I am not meaning it as praise, but as the expression of a lamentable fact that I know not any three except you, me, and Mr. Fox, who I feel sure will always be moving and could always move together—and I could name perhaps fifty who have every requisite except some one. There is always some fatal want. Now, by way of a beginning, will you say how much you think you could undertake to write regularly? I mean on the average, not to tie you to a particular time. We want sixteen sheets a quarter or thereabouts—if you will undertake for one sheet in every number, I will do the same, and I will see what others will do—but our poor Radicals! what a miserable figure they make in Parliament!
Yours ever faithfully,
J. S. Mill.
The “Philosophy of Taxation” is an excellent subject, and you will do it ample justice.
I have not yet sent the St. Simonians,14 but I will send them almost immediately, and some numbers of the Monthly Repository with them.
TO THOMAS CARLYLE1
28th April 1834.
My dear Carlyle
I received, a week ago, your little note2 —it had not escaped me that for an unusual length of time I had not heard from you—but I had ascribed it to the very cause you mention3 —which is also the cause of my not having written for so long a period. The same reason will make this letter an empty one; nor should I write it did I not know that the most intrinsically worthless communication between us two is valuable to both. All that either cares about is so much better spoken than written of. You will find me too “altered & altering”; perhaps more so than you expect; more, too, than will probably be quite intelligible to you, without my opening up to you many incidents in my spiritual history, which, on a principle which I have heard you also profess, I like not to speak fully and freely of, until I myself have a sufficiently clear perception of the meaning and bearing of them. But I too have what for a considerable time was quite suspended in me, the “feeling of growth.” I feel myself much more knowing, more seeing, having a far greater experience, of realities, not abstractions, than ever before; nor do I doubt that this superior knowledge and insight will one day make itself available in the form of greater power, for accomplishing whatever work I may be called to, shall I say also for chusing the work which I may most worthily perform? Every increase of insight carries with it the uncomfortable feeling of being separated more & more widely from almost all other human beings; this one would the less care for, did it not also damp all those feelings which prompt one to exertion through the hope of success, I mean any other success than is constituted by the struggle itself. One feels more & more that one is drifting so far out of the course of other men’s navigation as to be altogether below their horizon; not only they will not go with us, but they cannot see whither we are steering, & they believe if they ever catch a glimpse of us, that we are letting ourselves go blindly whither we may. However this must be, & may be, borne with, when one’s own path is clear—and mine is always becoming clearer.—On every account which I can judge of, I am convinced that you do wisely in coming to London. Nowhere else, at least nowhere in this country are there so many realities to be known & communed with; whereof not a few in the shape of true-hearted men and women, who to the extent of their intellect or experience, believe aright & act according to their belief. There are very few of them in whom there is not wanting something of the very first importance, but still there is in many enough & more than enough of good to give you a stronger interest in them than merely that which you have in all Actualities. Some of these I shall have opportunities of making known to you, & you to them, to the mutual advantage and pleasure of both.—I should send to you various books, if you were not so soon to be here; among others several numbers of the Repository, with writings of mine in them: but a much more remarkable production than anything of mine is a novel which has lately appeared, entituled “Eustace Conway” written by a far superior man,4 evidently, to the author of “Arthur Coningsby” but the tone of thinking is much the same. You will read it with great interest I am sure, though you will probably differ from many of the author’s opinions as widely as I do—but you will perhaps agree in a greater number of them. I thought I had told you that the author of Arthur Coningsby is John Sterling, who at that time was in the ferment & effervescence of the process of forming his opinions & his character—now he has become as you say “compacted and adjusted” & like all Coleridge’s disciples has become a sort of conservative & churchman—he is going into orders—but will not keep upon terms with any lie notwithstanding—he is able, which it is happy for him that he is, still to believe Christianity without doing violence to his understanding, and that therefore not being, to his mind, false in the smallest particle, he can & does denounce all which he recognises as false, in the speculation or practice of those among whom he is about to find himself.5 I believe there are not a few such persons, & that many of the most earnest and most genially-natured of the youth of the English Universities are gone or going into the clerical profession with similar views. If the Church conformed to their ideal of what it should be, I could say to them, Ite fausto pede; but they will not regenerate it from within so soon as it will be pulled down from without.—I long to hear all you could say about Homer—I hope you will, some time, write & publish it. Mr Austin is better: Buller, poor fellow, is but indifferently in health. Have you yet seen Mrs Austin’s Cousin?6 Her preface is the truest & best piece of printed writing I have read for many months. Yours faithfully
J. S. Mill.
TO WILLIAM JOHNSON FOX1
[June 17, 1834]
I have some news for you. Molesworth, without any suggestion or solicitation, has spontaneously offered to establish, at his own expense, the review2 we were talking of—making but one condition viz. that substantially it shall be under my direction—he knows that I cannot on account of my position in the India House, be myself the editor, or be ostensibly connected with the review in any way, except as an occasional writer—but he will appoint his editor under the complete understanding that he is to be guided altogether by me.
This is a much more feasible scheme than the former one3 —because there will be but one person to satisfy, and he a man of decided movement principles, docile, and who will certainly be pleased with the thing if it is such as will please us. At the same time we must not allow him to throw away his money—we must see our way clearly to being able to carry it on before we announce it—a failure would be disastrous to the cause.
I am anxious to talk over the matter with you and let us lay our heads together to see what can be done—a great part of the chance of success will depend upon the degree in which you can cooperate.
We can speak of it as Molesworth’s review—none out of our own circle should be told that I have more to do with it that any of the rest of us.
Do think about it—& if you do not come to me in a day or two, we will come to you.
TO WILLIAM JOHNSON FOX1
[June 26, 1834]
I have sent to P.R.2 I think about as much matter as we agreed upon. I have no subjects remaining, except the Beer Bill,3 on which I shall send (today) a single paragraph; the debate on education & crime; & the admission of Dissenters to the Universities:4 on these last subjects I shall write something & send it, but if necessary it can stand over to next month, with an announcement to that effect.
I should like to have a proof—
The following are the titles:
Abolition of Patronage in the Church of Scotland
Mr Rawlinson & the man of no religion
Business of the House of Commons
The Tom-foolery at Oxford
William Adams will like my notes this time—at least the first five. There is much of “the devil” in them.
How are you? do, one of you, write & let me know.
Our affairs have been gradually getting into a more & more unsatisfactory state—and are now in a state which, a very short time ago, would have made me quite miserab[le]5 but now I am altogether in a higher state than I was & better able to conquer evil & to bear it. I will tell you all about it some day—perhaps the first time we meet—but by that time perhaps the atmosphere will be clearer—adieu—
I have not spoken much to you about our affairs lately, as I did while she6 was away; partly because I did not so much need to give confidence & ask support when she was with me, partly because I know you disapprove & cannot enter with the present relation between her & me & him.7 but a time perhaps is coming when I shall need your kindness more than ever—if so, I know I shall always have it—8
TO HARRIET TAYLOR1
I have been made most uncomfortable all day by your dear letter sweet & loving as it was dearest one—because of your having had that pain—& because of my having given you pain. You cannot imagine dearest how very much it grieves me now when even a small thing goes wrong now that thank heaven it does not often happen so, & therefore always happens unexpectedly. As for my saying “do not let us talk of that now” I have not the remotest recollection of my having said so, or what it was that I did not want to talk about—but I am sure that it was something which I considered to be settled & done with long ago, & therefore not worth talking any more about, a reason which you yourself so continually express for not explaining to me or telling me about impressions of yours, uncertainty about the nature of which is tormenting me—& I have latterly learnt sufficient selfsacrifice, sometimes to yield to that feeling, & leave off asking you questions which you tell me it is unpleasant to you to answer. But whatever it was that we were talking about on the common I am sure if I had thought that anything remained to be said about it, much more if I had thought that such a matter as whether we can or cannot be in complete sympathy, had depended on what remained unsaid, I should have been a great deal more anxious to have everything said, than you would have been to say it. O my own love, if you were beginning to say something which you had been thinking of for days or weeks, why did you not tell me so? why did you not make me feel that you were saying what was important to you, & what had not been said or had not been exhausted before? I am writing you know in complete ignorance about what it was—but I am sure I have tormented you enough & long enough by refusing to acquiesce in your seemingly determined resolution that there should be radical differences of some sort in some of our feelings, and now having found, & convinced you, that there are none that need make us unhappy, I have learnt from you to be able to bear that there should be some—consisting chiefly in the want of some feelings in me which you have. But I thought we perfectly knew & understood what those were, & that neither of us saw any good in discussing them further—& when I ask you questions which you do not like to answer, it is only to know what is paining you at the time—not meaning to discuss feelings any more if it is feelings and not facts that are annoying you.
I know darling it is very doubtful if you will get this before I see you—but I cannot help writing it & perhaps I shall feel easier afterwards. at present I feel utterly unnerved & quite unfit for thinking or writing or any business—but I shall get better, & don’t let it make you uncomfortable mine own—o you dear one.
TO WILLIAM JOHNSON FOX1
We had a great deal more discussion after we left you, and we all (three) most decidedly think that since the crisis in the congregation2 appears to have been brought on principally by the belief3 that a fact, which would be of the greatest importance in their eyes, though of none at all in yours, is true—it would be very foolish that you should not have the full advantage of its not being true. Even supposing that your separation from the chapel were inevitable in every case, the effect on your future prospects will entirely depend upon that fact being denied or not—& whether you feel it consistent, or not, with your personal dignity to deny it, we are quite convinced that we, and all your friends, ought. While that fact is denied and deniable, all who are otherwise favourably disposed to you will not be afraid to stand by you, & there will be at least a strong diversion in your favour against the tide which will set in against you. But if it were made impossible for any one to defend you except those who were willing to encounter the odium of justifying all which is now alleged against you, I am afraid you will be worse situated than if no defence were made at all, since people will make it a matter of conscience to discountenance what they consider the open profession & vindication of immorality.
This being the case, I should not, if I were in your situation, think myself bound to court attention to the fact that expediency only & not principle was the cause of your not having gone to the full length of what they assert. If they put that very question to you, no doubt you ought to say so—but I think not otherwise. It seems to me quite enough if you appeal to those articles in the Reposy4 as containing your principles on the subject. You might say that you have acted no otherwise than in consistency with those principles; and if they ask you whether the particular fact is true, you might deny altogether their concern with it or right to enquire into it, but nevertheless profess your willingness voluntarily to give the information sought, by denying the assertion. We all think it of great importance that every public mention of the charge should be accompanied by mention of your denying it—& also that the effect of this denial should not, unless it be absolutely necessary to your integrity, be injured by the public profession of the extent to which your principles go in that one matter. She5 went to Walworth yesterday to endeavour to induce Mr Hardy6 to move in the matter—I know not yet with what success. But it is of importance that the steps they take should be in a better spirit & taste than if the affair is left to its original promoters it probably would happen.
all quite well