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1849 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XIV - The Later Letters of John Stuart Mill 1849-1873 Part I 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XIV - The Later Letters of John Stuart Mill 1849-1873 Part I, ed. Francis E. Mineka and Dwight N. Lindley (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972).
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TO GEORGE GROTE1
I have just finished reading the two volumes2 with the greatest pleasure and admiration.
The fifth volume seems to me all that we had a right to expect, and the sixth is splendid!
I mean to read them again at leisure, and I shall then note one or two very small points to talk about, which I do not now remember.
Every great result which you have attempted to deduce seems to me most thoroughly made out.
TO HARRIET TAYLOR1
You might well feel that the handwriting would be “worth having”, but instead of there being “little said” the excessive sweetness & love in this exquisite letter makes it like something dropt from heaven. I had been literally pining for it & had got into a state of depression which I do not think I shall fall into again during this absence—When I left you my darling & during all the journey back3 I was full of life & animation & vigour of wish & purpose, because fresh from being with you, fresh from the immediate influence of your blessed presence & of that extreme happiness of that time which during this last week or fortnight I have hardly been able to conceive that I ever had—much less that I ever should have again—but this angel letter has begun to bring back happiness & spirit & I again begin to feel the holiday & journey & that blessed meeting as if they would really be—& to feel capable also of being & of doing something in the meanwhile which I had entirely ceased to feel. But I am very anxious darling to hear about the lameness4 & to find that it has got better. I have a very strong feeling about the obstinacy of lamenesses from the troublesome persistency of this of mine5 —though it is certainly better—but still it does not go away, nor allow me to take more than a very little exercise & I feel the effect a little now in the general health—the sight too has not quite recovered itself yet, which is an additional teaze, but I am not uneasy about it. The only piece of news I have is that Austin6 called yesterday. When he came & during all the time he staid there was a Frenchman with me, a man named Guerry,7 a statistical man whom Col. Sykes8 brought to me—the man whose maps of France with the dark & light colours, shewing the state of crime, instruction &c. in each department you may remember. He was [wanting?] to shew me some other maps & tables of his & to ask me about the “logic” of his plans so he did not go away—& the talk was confined to general subjects, except that Austin said he was going to prepare a new edition of his book on jurisprudence9 on a much enlarged plan & should wish very much to consult me on various matters connected with the application of induction to moral science. Of course I could not refuse & indeed saw no reason for doing so—but as this will lead to his coming again, sending MSS. & so on it both gives an occasion & creates a necessity for defining the relation I am to stand in with respect to them. He said he had after much difficulty & search taken a house at Weybridge & that he liked the place, but he did not (I have no doubt purposely) say anything about wishing that I would visit him there, or anywhere. His talk was free & éclairé as it always is with me, much of it about that new publication of Guizot10 (which I have not read) of which he spoke very disparagingly & defended communists11 & socialists against the attacks contained in it & said he saw no real objection to socialism except the difficulty if not impracticability of managing so great a concern as the industry of a whole country in the way of association. Nothing was said about her12 or about the copy of the Pol. Ec.13 but it is necessary to prendre un parti. What should it be? I am reading Macaulay’s book:14 it is in some respects better than I expected, & in none worse. I think the best character that can be given of it is that it is a man without genius, who has observed what people of genius do when they write history, & tries his very best to do the same, without the amount of painful effort, & affectation, which you might expect, & which I did expect from such an attempt & such a man. I have no doubt like all his writings it will be & continue popular—it is exactly au niveau of the ideal of shallow people with a touch of the new ideas—& it is not sufficiently bad to induce anybody who knows better to take pains to lower people’s estimation of it. I perceive no very bad tendency in it as yet, except that it in some degree ministers to English conceit15 —only in some degree, for he never “goes the whole” in anything. He is very characteristic & so is his book, of the English people & of his time. I am rather glad than not that he is writing the history of that time for it is just worth reading when made (as he does make it) readable: though in itself I think English one of the least interesting of all histories—(French perhaps the most & certainly the most instructive in so far as history is ever so).
TO GEORGE GROTE MILL1
[Jan. 31, 1849]
As to Jane’s2 money—there is certainly a strong inducement to transfer it to the French funds, as it would about double the income & if invested as proposed in her own name & that of the trustees it would be as exclusively in her own control as at present & she could receive the interest. It can only be done by sending out a power of attorney to be executed by you. But it seems to me that now when there seems so much chance of your not being able to live in England where alone you could act, it would be very desirable to put in a third trustee along with the present two, both for Jane’s and Mary’s3 property. I will suggest this to them & ascertain the proper way of doing it. The buying of French stock, if you determine to do it, ought not to be done through Ferraboschi,4 but it can be done by an agent here & this I can see to if it is ultimately decided to do it.
With love to Clara5 & ever afft yours
J. S. Mill
TO WILLIAM E. HICKSON1
6th Feb. 1849
Many thanks for the Guizot2 which I have had read to me (for I am obliged to spare my sight which is ailing a good deal).3 I find it far inferior to what I expected—so vague and general as to be almost intangible, and it hardly comes into collision at all with what I think it necessary to say, in answer to Brougham.4 I do not think I can make any use of it on this occasion. The article5 however is in itself a complete answer to all such diatribes. It is finished, except revision, which the state of my sight alone retards. I will however, “make an effort” (vide chap.1 of Dombey)6 and let you have it soon.
Yours ever truly,
J. S. Mill
I should like to know who wrote the article on Channing7 if it is no secret.
TO HARRIET TAYLOR1
I received your dear letter 11 on Saturday & this morning the first instalment of the Pol. Ec.2 This last I will send again (or as much of it as is necessary) when I have been able to make up my mind about it. The objections are I think very inconsiderable as to quantity—much less than I expected—but that paragraph, p. 248, in the first edit. which you object to so strongly & totally,3 is what has always seemed to me the strongest part of the argument (it is only what even Proudhon says against Communism)4 —& as omitting it after it has once been printed would imply a change of opinion, it is necessary to see whether the opinion has changed or not—yours has, in some respects at least, for you have marked strong dissent from the passage that “the necessaries of life when secure for the whole of life are scarcely more a subject of consciousness”5 &c. which was inserted on your proposition & very nearly in your words. This is probably only the progress we have been always making, & by thinking sufficiently I should probably come to think the same—as is almost always the case, I believe always when we think long enough. But here the being unable to discuss verbally stands sadly in the way, & I am now almost convinced that as you said at first, we cannot settle this 2d edit. by letter. We will try, but I now feel almost certain that we must adjourn the publication of the 2d edit. to November.6 In the new matter one of the sentences that you have cancelled is a favorite of mine, viz “It is probable that this will finally depend upon considerations not to be measured by the coarse standard which in the present state of human improvement is the only one that can be applied to it.”7 What I meant was that whether individual agency or Socialism would be best ultimately—(both being necessarily very imperfect now, & both susceptible of immense improvement) will depend on the comparative attractions they will hold out to human beings with all their capacities, both individual & social, infinitely more developed than at present. I do not think it is English improvement only that is too backward to enable this point to be ascertained for if English character is starved in its social part I think Continental is as much or even more so in its individual, & Continental people incapable of entering into the feelings which make very close contact with crowds of other people both disagreeable & mentally & morally lowering. I cannot help thinking that something like what I meant by the sentence, ought to be said though I can imagine good reasons for your disliking the way in which it is put. Then again if the sentence “the majority would not exert themselves for anything beyond this & unless they did nobody else would &c”8 is not tenable, then all the two or three pages of argument which precede & of which this is but the summary, are false, & there is nothing to be said against Communism at all—one would only have to turn round & advocate it—which if done would be better in a separate treatise & would be a great objection to publishing a 2d edit. until after such a treatise. I think I agree in all the other remarks. Fourrier [sic]9 if I may judge by Considérant10 is perfectly right about women both as to equality & marriage—& I suspect that Fourier himself went further than his disciple thinks prudent in the directness of his recommendations. Considérant sometimes avails himself as Mr Fox11 used, of the sentimentalities & superstitions about purity, though asserting along with it all the right principles. But C. says that the Fourrierists are the only Socialists who are not orthodox about marriage—he forgets the Owenites,12 but I fear it is true of all the known Communist leaders in France—he says it specially of Buchez,13 Cabet,14 & what surprises one in Sand’s15 “guide, philosopher & friend” of Leroux.16 This strengthens one exceedingly in one’s wish to prôner the Fourrierists besides that their scheme of association seems to me much nearer to being practicable at present than Communism.—Your letter was very delightful—it was so very pleasant to know that you were still better as to general health than I knew before, & that the lameness also improves though slowly. I am very glad I did right about Herbert17 —his conduct on Xmas day & his not writing even to say that he is going to America seem like ostentation of heartlessness & are only as you say to be explained by his being a very great fool (at present) & therefore influenced by some miserably petty vanities & irritabilities. Their not sending George’s18 letter directly is very strange. The pamphlet19 has gone to Hickson—I had thought of sending one of the separate copies to L. Blanc.20 Whom else should it go to? To all the members of the Prov. Gov. I think, & as it will not be published till April I had better take the copies to Paris with me & send them when there as it saves so much uncertainty & delay. I did see that villainous thing in the Times21 & noticed that the American had used those words.
TO HARRIET TAYLOR1
I despatched yesterday to the dear one an attempt at a revision of the objectionable passages.2 I saw on consideration that the objection to Communism on the ground of its making life a kind of dead level might admit of being weakened (though I think it never could be taken away) consistently with the principle of Communism, though the Communistic plans now before the public could not do it. The statement of objections was moreover too vague & general. I have made it more explicit as well as more moderate; you will judge whether it is now sufficiently either one or the other; & altogether whether any objection can be maintained to Communism, except the amount of objection which, in the new matter I have introduced, is made to the present applicability of Fourierism.3 I think there can—& that the objections as now stated to Communism are valid: but if you do not think so, I certainly will not print it, even if there were no other reason than the certainty I feel that I never should long continue of an opinion different from yours on a subject which you have fully considered. I am going on revising the book: not altering much, but in one of the purely political economy parts which occurs near the beginning, viz. the discussion as to whether buying goods made by labour gives the same employment to labour as hiring the labourers themselves, I have added two or three pages of new explanation & illustration which I think make the case much clearer.4 —It is certainly an unlucky coincidence that the winter which you have gone away from should be so very mild a one here: on Sunday I found the cottage gardens &c. as far advanced as they often are only in the middle of April; mezereons, hepaticas, the white arabis, pyrus japonica &c. in the fullest flower, the snow ball plant very much in leaf, even periwinkles & red anemones fully out: daffodils I saw only in bud. If it is not checked it will be I think an even earlier spring than the very early one two or three years ago. I shall be able to benefit by it more than I expected in the way of country walks on Sundays although the dimness of sight, slight as it is, interferes not a little with the enjoyment of distant scenery—as I found in that beautiful Windsor Park last Sunday. If it is very fine I think I shall go some Sunday & wander about Combe—it is so full of association with all I wish for & care for. As I have taken care to let my ailments be generally known at the I[ndia] H[ouse] I have no doubt it will be easy to get a two or three months holiday in spring if we like: this indeed if I return quite well would make any holiday in the after part of the year impracticable, but need not prevent me from taking two or three days at a time occasionally during a séjour at Ryde or any other place & thus making it a partial holiday there—Unless, which I do not expect, a long holiday soon should be necessary for health, the question ought to depend entirely on what would best suit you—which is quite sure to be most desirable for me—I am in hopes that parties in France are taking a more republican turn than they seemed likely to do—if Napoleon Bonaparte coalesces with Lamartine’s party for election purposes there will be a much larger body of sincere republicans in the new assembly than was expected.5 The Roman republic & the Tuscan Provisional Govt I am afraid will end in nothing but a restoration by Austria & a putting down of the popular party throughout Italy.6 I was sorry to see in the feuilleton of the National7 a very bad article on women in the form of a review of a book by the M. Légouvé8 who was so praised in La Voix des Femmes.9 The badness consisted chiefly in laying down the doctrine very positively that women always are & must always be what men make them—just the false assumption on which the whole of the present bad constitution of the relation rests. I am convinced however that there are only two things which tend at all to shake this nonsensical prejudice: a better psychology & theory of human nature, for the few; & for the many, more & greater proofs by example of what women can do. I do not think anything that could be written would do nearly so much good on that subject the most important of all, as the finishing your pamphlet—or little book rather, for it should be that.10 I do hope you are going on with it—gone on with & finished & published it must be, & next season too.—Do you notice that Russell in bringing forward his Jew Bill,11 although he is actually abolishing the old oaths & framing new, still has the meanness to reinsert the words “on the true faith of a Christian” for all persons except Jews, & justifies it by saying that the Constitution ought not avowedly to admit unbelievers into Parliament.—I have seen very little of the Chairman & Dep. Chairman12 lately—as to avoid the long staircase I have communicated with them chiefly through others but now being released from restraint I shall take an early opportunity of speaking to Galloway about Haji.13 I have seen nothing more of Haji any more than of Herbert.14 [torn page]
TO WILLIAM E. HICKSON1
My dear Hickson
I attach importance to most of the notes,2 since when I am charging Brougham with misrepresentation of what Lamartine said,3 it will not do to bid the reader trust to my translations—and the passages from Tocqueville4 being cited as evidence to matters of fact, ought to be given in the original. You however must judge what is best for your review. You kindly offered me some separate copies—I should not desire more than 50, but in these I would like to have the notes preserved and it would not be necessary for that purpose to set them up in smaller type. If the types are redistributed I would willingly pay the expense of recomposing. I cannot imagine how the printer could commit the stupid blunder of putting those notes with the text. As a heading,5 “The Revolution of February and its assailants” would do. In the separate copies I should like to have a title page, which might run thus: “A Vindication of the French Revolution of 1848 in reply to Lord Brougham and others.”
J. S. Mill
TO HARRIET TAYLOR1
What a nuisance it is having anything to do with printers—Though I had no reason to be particularly pleased with Harrison,2 I was alarmed at finding that Parker3 had gone to another, & accordingly, though the general type of the first edition is exactly copied, yet a thing so important as the type of the headings at the top of the page cannot be got right—you know what difficulty we had before—& now the headings, & everything else which is in that type, they first gave much too close & then much too wide, & say they have not got the exact thing, unless they have the types cast on purpose. Both the things they have produced seem to me detestable & the worst is that as Parker is sole owner of this edition I suppose I have no voice in the matter at all except as a point of courtesy. I shall see Parker today & tell him that I should have much preferred waiting till another season rather than having either of these types—but I suppose it is too late now to do any good—& perhaps Parker dragged out the time in useless delays before, on purpose that all troublesome changes might be avoided by hurry now. It is as disagreeable as a thing of the sort can possibly be—because it is necessary that something should be decided immediately without waiting for the decision of my only guide & oracle. If the effect should be to make the book an unpleasant object to the only eyes I wish it to please, how excessively I shall regret not having put off the edition till next season. I have had the proof of the pamphlet,4 all but the last few pages. There seems very little remaining in it that could be further softened without taking the sting out entirely—which would be a pity. I am rather against giving away any copies, at least for the present, in England—except to Louis Blanc to whom I suppose I should acknowledge authorship. He has not come near me—I see he is writing in sundry Communist papers of which there are now several in London.5 As a heading in the review I have thought of “The Revolution of February & its assailants”—it does not seem advisable to put Brougham’s name at the top of the page—& “the Revolution of February” or anything of that kind itself would be tame, & excite no attention. There is no fresh news from George6 nor any incident of any kind except that Mr Fox has sent me (without any letter) four volumes of his lectures to the working classes,7 the last volume of which (printed this year) has a preface in which he recommends to the working classes to study Polit. Economy8 telling them that they will see by “the ablest book yet produced on this subject” that it is not a thing against them but for them—with some other expressions of compliment he quotes two passages, one of them the strongest there is in the book about independence of women,9 & tells them in another place though rather by inference than directly that women ought to have the suffrage.10 He speaks in this preface of “failing health” & as if he did not expect either to write or speak in public much more: this may mean little, or very much. I feel now as if the natural thing, the thing to be expected, was to hear of every one’s death—as if we should outlive all we have cared for, & yet die early.
Did you notice that most bête & vulgar say by Emerson in a lecture at Boston, about the English? It is hardly possible to be more stupidly wrong—& what sort of people can he have been among when here?11 The Austrian octroyé federal constitution12 seems as bad as anything pretending to be a constitution at all now dares to be—the only significant circumstance in it on the side of democracy being that there is no House of Lords nor any mention of nobility or hereditary rank. Here the sort of newspaper discussion which had begun about Sterling’s13 infidelity seems to have merged in a greater scandal about a book by Froude,14 a brother of the Froude who was the originator of Puseyism15 —This book was reviewed in the last Spectator16 I sent to you & that review was the first I had heard & is all I have seen of the book—but the Herald & Standard17 are abusing the man in the tone of Dominican Inquisitors on account of the strong declarations against the inspiration of the Bible which he puts into the mouth of one of his characters, obviously as they say thinking the same himself—It appears the Council of University College had been asked to select a schoolmaster for Hobart Town & had chosen Froude from among a great many candidates & probably some rival defeated candidate has raised this stir.18 It all, I think, does good, but one ought to see occasionally the things that are written on such matters, in order not to forget the intensity of the vulgar bigotry, or affection of it, that is still thought to be the thing for the Christian readers of newspapers in this precious country. The Times is quite gentlemanlike in comparison with those other papers when they get on the ground of imputed infidelity or anything approaching to it. I suppose they overshoot their mark, but they would scruple nothing in any such case.
TO HARRIET TAYLOR1
[17 March, 1849]
[⅔ of folio 1r cut away] the old way, or [rest of line cut away] has the advantage of taking [rest of line cut away] Toulouse, but I suspect the means of conveyance by it are much slower & more precarious, till we reach Bourges or Châteauroux where we join the railway. I think from what has been in the papers that the whole or nearly the whole of the [⅔ of page cut away as above].
The bargain with Parker2 is a good one & that it is so is entirely your doing—all the difference between it & the last being wholly your work, as well as all the best of the book itself so that you have a redoubled title to your joint ownership of it. While I am on the subject I will say that the difficulty with the printer is surmounted3 —both he & Parker were disposed to be accommodating & he was to have the very same type from the very same foundry today—in the meantime there has been no time lost, as they have been printing very fast without the headings, & will I have no doubt keep their engagement as to time. You do not say anything this time about the bit of the P[olitical] E[conomy]—I hope you did not send it during the week, as if so it has miscarried—at the rate they are printing, both volumes at once, they will soon want it.
I was wrong to express myself that way about the Athenians,4 because without due explanations it would not be rightly understood. I am always apt to get enthusiastic about those who do great things for progress & are immensely ahead of everybody else in their age—especially when like the Athenians it has been the fashion to run them down for what was best in them—& I am not always sufficiently careful to explain that the praise is relative to the then state & not the now state of knowledge & of what ought to be improved feeling. I do think, however even without those allowances, that an average Athenian was a far finer specimen of humanity on the whole than an average Englishman—but then unless one says how low one estimates the latter, one gives a false notion of one’s estimate of the former. You are not quite right about the philosophers, for Plato did condemn those “barbarisms”.
I regret much that I have not put in anything about Palmerston into that pamphlet5 —I am almost tempted to write an express article in the Westr in order to make him the amende. As you suggested I wrote an article on Russell’s piece of meanness in the Jew Bill6 & have sent it to Crowe7 from whom I have not yet any answer—there has been no time hitherto fit for its publication—the time will be when the subject is about to come on again in Parlt. But I fear the article, even as “from a correspondent” will be too strong meat for the Daily News, as it declares without mincing the matter, that infidels are perfectly proper persons to be in parliament. I like the article myself. I have carefully avoided anything disrespectful to Russell personally, or any of the marks, known to me, by which my writing can be recognized.
If I meet Fleming8 again or am again assaulted on any similar point I will reply in the sort of way you recommend—I dare say the meeting with F. was accidental as it was just at the door of Somerset House where he is assistant secretary to the Poor Law Board & just at the time when he would probably be coming out. Ever since I have kept the opposite side.
TO HARRIET TAYLOR1
The Pol. Ec. packet came on Monday for which a thousand thanks. I have followed to the letter every recommendation. The sentence which you objected to in toto of course has come quite out.2 In explanation however of what I meant by it—I was not thinking of any mysterious change in human nature—but chiefly of this—that the best people now are necessarily so much cut off from sympathy with the multitudes that I should think they must have difficulty in judging how they would be affected by such an immense change in their whole circumstances as would be caused by having multitudes whom they could sympathize with—or in knowing how far the social feelings might then supply the place of that large share of solitariness & individuality which they cannot now dispense with. I meant one thing more, viz. that as, hereafter, the more obvious & coarser obstacles & objections to the community system will have ceased or greatly diminished, those which are less obvious & coarse will then step forward into an importance & require an attention which does not now practically belong to them & that we can hardly tell without trial what the result of that experience will be. I do not say that you cannot realize and judge of these things—but if you, & perhaps Shelley & one or two others in a generation can, I am convinced that to do so requires both great genius & great experience & I think it quite fair to say to common readers that the present race of mankind (speaking of them collectively) are not competent to it. I cannot persuade myself that you do not greatly overrate the ease of making people unselfish. Granting that in “ten years” the children of a community might by teaching be made “perfect” it seems to me that to do so there must be perfect people to teach them. You say “if there were a desire on the part of the cleverer people to make them perfect it would be easy”—but how to produce that desire in the cleverer people? I must say I think that if we had absolute power tomorrow, though we could do much to improve people by good laws, & could even give them a very much better education than they have ever had yet, still, for effecting in our lives anything like what we aim at, all our plans would fail from the impossibility of finding fit instruments. To make people really good for much it is so necessary not merely to give them good intentions & conscientiousness but to unseal their eyes—to prevent self flattery, vanity, irritability & all that family of vices from warping their moral judgments as those of the very cleverest people are almost always warped now. But we shall have all these questions out together & they will all require to be entered into to a certain depth, at least, in the new book3 which I am so glad you look forward to as I do with so much interest.—As for news—did you see in the Times Mrs Buller’s death? I suspect it was there the very day I wrote last. I have heard nothing of the manner or occasion of it, & had not supposed from anything I had heard before, that there was any likelihood of it. So that volume is closed now, completely.4 I called the other day at Charles Fox’s5 shop to ask the meaning of Mr Fox’s illness & C.F. said he has constant pains in his side which are either heart disease or merely nervous but which are made much worse by public speaking or any other excitement & that that is the reason he so seldom speaks in the H[ouse] of C[ommons]. It is probably mere nervous pain therefore, & not dangerous, but it shews him to be out of health. There were letters from George6 yesterday of three weeks later date: his report is that he is neither worse nor better. He thinks that he coughs about six or seven times an hour through the 24 hours. He still writes as not at all out of spirits—one expression he uses is that he wants nothing to make him happy but to be able to go up into the mountains, & to have a better prospect of the future—I think he means a better avenir in case he ultimately recovers—but he seems persuaded that his disease is seldom cured or stopped. I shall write to encourage him, for I am convinced it is often stopped though hardly ever cured, & I do not yet despair of his case.
Crowe’s answer was “I shall be but too happy to print the article.7 The Jews Bill is put off till after Easter, but if you will allow me I will insert it immediately.” There is nothing like kicking people of the D[aily] N[ews] sort it appears. I answered telling him if he thought it would be of as much use now as about the time when the bill comes on by all means to print it now. It has not yet made its appearance. The printing of the 2d edit.8 goes on satisfactorily in all respects. Last Sunday I went by railway to Watford & walked from there to town, indeed more, for the direct road being by Stanmore I turned off before getting there, to Harrow, thus lengthening the walk 3 or 4 miles. I think I must have walked 20 miles, & almost all of it at a stretch, with occasional short resting on a stile. I confess however that the miles between Harrow & London were excessively long, but I felt no kind of inconvenience the next day or since from the walk. The lameness is now no obstacle at all—the only obstacle is general weakness, as compared with my state when in perfect health. The sight remains the same.9 I look forward to Saturday with immense pleasure because there is always a letter—adieu with every good wish.
TO HARRIET TAYLOR1
[ca. 31 March 1849]
[9/10 of first folio cut away] short too—as a [rest of line cut away] surprised to hear of [rest of line cut away] been some, very often for the last fortnight—but it has never lain. Today it is a sunny [9/10 of page cut away as above] The alteration I had made in that sentence of the P[olitical] E[conomy] was instead of “placard their intemperance” to say “placard their enormous families”—it does not read so well, but I think it may do, especially as the previous sentence contains the words “this sort of incontinence”—but your two sentences are so very good that as that sheet is not yet printed, get them in I must & will.2 —Are you not amused with Peel about Ireland? He sneers down the waste lands plan,3 two years ago, which the timid ministers, timid because without talent, give up at a single sarcasm from him, & now he has enfanté a scheme containing that & much more than was then proposed—& the Times supports him4 & Ireland praises him. I am extremely glad he has done it—I can see that it is working as nothing else has yet worked to break down the superstition about property—& it is the only thing happening in England which promises a step forward—a thing which one may well welcome when things are going so badly for the popular cause in Europe—not that I am discouraged by this—progress of the right kind seems to me quite safe now that Socialism has become inextinguishable. I heartily wish Proudhon dead however—there are few men whose state of mind, taken as a whole, inspires me with so much aversion, & all his influence seems to me mischievous except as a potent dissolvent which is good so far, but every single thing which he would substitute seems to me the worst possible in practice & mostly in principle. I have been reading another volume of Considérant5 lately published—he has got into the details of Fourierism, with many large extracts from Fourier himself. It was perhaps necessary to enter into details in order to make the thing look practicable, but many of the details are, & all appear, passablement ridicules. As to their system, & general mode of thought there is a great question at the root of it which must be settled before one can get a step further. Admitting the omnipotence of education, is not the very pivot & turning point of that education a moral sense—a feeling of duty, or conscience, or principle, or whatever name one gives it—a feeling that one ought to do, & to wish for, what is for the greatest good of all concerned. Now Fourier, & all his followers, leave this out entirely, & rely wholly on such an arrangement of social circumstances as without any inculcation of duty or of “ought,” will make every one, by the spontaneous action of the passions, intensely zealous for all the interests of the whole. Nobody is ever to be made to do anything but act just as they like, but it is calculated that they will always, in a phalanstere, like what is best. This of course leads to the freest notions about personal relations of all sorts, but is it, in other respects, a foundation on which people would be able to live & act together. Owen keeps in generals & only says that education can make everybody perfect, but the Fourierists attempt to shew how, & exclude, as it seems to me, one of the most indispensable ingredients.
6 What a bathos to turn from these free speculations to pinched & methodistical England. It is worth while reading the articles in newspapers about Froude & Sterling7 to have an adequate idea what England is. The newspaper talk on the subject having the irresistible attraction of personality still continues, & I have within this week read in shop windows leading articles of two weekly newspapers, the Church & State Gazette8 & the English Churchman,9 keeping it up. They have found the splendid mare’s nest of the “Sterling Club”.10 I remember the foundation of the said club by Sterling himself, very many years before his death—soon after he began to live permanently out of London. Though called a club it had neither subscription nor organization, but consisted in an agreement of some 12 or 20 acquaintances of Sterling, the majority resident University people, that there should be one day in a month when if any of them liked to dine at a place in Lincoln’s Inn Fields he would have a chance of finding some of the others. I let them put me down as one, & went there, I think three times, with Sterling himself & at his request, in order to pass an evening in his company—the last time being, I believe, in 1838. A few weeks ago I was reminded of the existence of the thing by receiving a printed list of members, in which I was put down with many others as honorary—it has greatly increased in numbers, is composed (in more than one half) of clergymen including two bishops, Thirlwall11 & Wilberforce,12 & I suppose it has organized itself with a regular subscription, as it has removed to the Freemason’s & has begun sending circulars previous to each dinner. One of these lists fell into the hands of the “Record”13 newspaper & combining this with Hare’s Life of Sterling it charges Hare, Maurice,14 Trench,15 these bishops, & innumerable others with founding a society to honour & commemorate an infidel, & joining for that purpose with persons strongly suspected of being no better than infidels themselves, such as Carlyle & me. It is very amusing that those people who take such care to guard their orthodoxy get nothing by it but to be more bitterly attacked. However it shews what I did not suppose, that it required some courage in a church dignitary to write about a heretic even in the guarded way that Hare did.—
Yesterday Nichol16 called on me—whom I had not seen since 1840—he is in town for some days or probably weeks & is about to publish a book on America where he has been travelling.17 As he is a walking man I am going to have a country walk with him tomorrow—my other Sunday walks have been alone. I have always thought him a man of whom something might be made if one could see enough of him—I shall perhaps be able to judge now if my opinion was right, but at all events his book will shew. He has this in his favour at least which is the grand distinction now that he is intensely forward-looking—not at all conservative in feeling but willing to be very destructive & now adieu with every possible wish.
On Monday no doubt I shall hear again
TO LOUIS BLANC1
Mon cher Monsieur Louis Blanc,
permettez-moi de vous faire l’hommage d’un petit écrit2 destiné à servir de protestation contre les calomnies odieuses dont on cherche à flétrir votre noble révolution de février,3 et ceux qui l’ont dirigée pendant les premiers jours.
J’ai tâché de rendre justice à la part que vous avez prise personnellement dans le grand événement, et vous verrez que j’y parle du socialisme avec une sympathie plus ouverte que celle que j’ai manifestée dans la première édition de mon Econ. politique. Je crois que vous serez plus satisfait de la seconde.4
J. S. Mill
TO WILLIAM E. HICKSON1
[May 16, 1849]
My dear Hickson—
I send you Mr Lombe’s2 letter as you desire. Who can he be that pays for articles at £100 each & talks so confidently of sending one or two members to Parliament? I, at least, can take no part in what he proposes, for I do not agree with him. I do not think the coast blockade3 so ineffectual as it is represented, & at all events, to abandon it would be understood throughout the world as the abandonment of our anti-slavery policy & by its moral effect would I believe increase the amount of slavery tenfold. I do not mean that it should be persevered in for ever, but I would not give it up until something more effectual for the purpose is actually in operation.—I hope you are in better health & that your excursion to Paris will set you up. My ramble4 has done me good but has not cured my principal ailment.5
J. S. Mill
TO WILLIAM GEORGE WARD1
[Spring of 1849]
You have given me six months2 to answer all your questions. I think you ought to allow me six volumes too; for if the questions occupy so many pages, what must the answers? I could give, no doubt, some sort of replies to most of your queries in a few sentences, but they would not be such as could be satisfactory either to you or to myself. However your letter is a sort of challenge which I am unwilling to refuse, though aware that what I say will give scarcely the faintest idea of how much there is to say & though I do not undertake to carry on the discussion any further. If I did, each answer would suggest further questions & these would require longer answers, till I would be led into writing a treatise on each point—which though if I live I may probably do—at any rate, I had rather defer until I can do it thoroughly & in a shape for permanent use.
1st. Your explanations do not at all clear up, to my apprehension, what I think the inconsistency of blending high moral praise with the strongest language of moral reprobation.3 You say that certain states of mind are sinful in the greatest degree, yet that for those states the individual may possibly be not at all responsible. I can understand that persons may hold false & pernicious opinions conscientiously & may have defects or peculiarities of character which both in themselves and in their consequences are extremely undesirable, yet to which their own wishes or voluntary conduct having in no way contributed, they are not morally accountable for them. But to call anything a sin & yet say that the sinner is not accountable for it seems to me if the word sin means anything, a direct contradiction. It is you who appear to be chargeable with what my opinions are usually charged with, viz. confounding the distinction between moral badness & mere aberration in a person or thing from the ideal perfection of the kind of being it belongs to. I recognise two kinds of imperfections: those which come independently of our will & which our will could not prevent, & for these we are not accountable; & those which our will has either positively or negatively assisted in producing & for which we are accountable. The former may be very hurtful to ourselves & offensive to others but in us they are not morally culpable. The latter are. You ride over this (as it seems to me) perfectly definite distinction by the ambiguous word sin, under which a third class of defects of character finds entrance which is supposed to unite both attributes—to be culpable & ultra-culpable although the person thus morally guilty cannot help it. This seems to me to exemplify the unmeaningness of the word sin which if it is anything other than the theological synonym of “morally wrong” is a name for something which I do not admit to exist.
2d. On the subject out of which this discussion grew, population, marriage, &c.4 we differ so utterly that there seems not even a chance of our doing ourselves or each other any good by discussing it. Our ideas of moral obligation on the subject are completely incompatible, the repugnancy goes down to the very root of the subject & I entertain quite as uncomplimentary an opinion of your mode of regarding these questions as you can possibly do of mine. Two sentences will give some little notion of the wideness of our divergence. You think that the legality or illegality of an act makes a difference (not in its being right or wrong, socially speaking—but) in its purity or impurity—& you think that a man can without forfeiting his title to respect, live in the habitual practice of that which he feels to be degrading to him. I, on the contrary, cannot conceive anything more gross & grovelling than the conceptions involved in the first supposition & the conduct described in the second. They appear to me the extreme of animalism & sensuality in the fullest sense of the bad meaning of those terms.
I will say nothing more on this subject except to correct a mistake you have made about my opinions on population. I do not know where you find that on my shewing the evils of over-population are in some distant future. On the contrary, I hold with Malthus that they are, & have been throughout history, almost everywhere present, & often in great intensity.
3d. You ask what are the natural instincts that civilisation has strikingly & memorably conquered. I answer, nearly all. E.g. the instinct of taking a thing which we very much wish for, wherever we find it—food, for instance, when we are hungry. The instinct of knocking down a person who offends us if we are the strongest. As a rather different example take the eminently artificial virtue of cleanliness—think what savages are, & what violence must be done to the natural man to produce the feelings which civilised people have on this point—take again all the delicacies respecting bodily physicalities which savages have not a vestige of but which in the artificialised human being often equal in intensity any human feelings, natural or artificial.
4th. As to the opinion expressed in the Logic,5 that miracles are evidence of a revelation only to those who already believe in a God or at least in supernatural beings. What I meant is this. We can never know that what is presented to us as a miracle, is so. The proof can only be negative, viz. that we do not know any mode in which the thing can have been produced by natural means; & what is this worth when we are so ignorant of nature? Two years ago a man who by passing a handkerchief across a person’s face could plunge him into a sort of extasy during which a limb could be cut off without pain would have given apparent evidence of miraculous powers equal to any saint in the calendar. You ask, but what if the man himself, being morally trustworthy, affirms that it is a miracle? I answer, this would in many cases convince me that he himself believed it to be one; but that would weigh for absolutely nothing with me, as it is the easiest & commonest fact in the world, especially in an unscientific state of the human mind, that people should sincerely ascribe any peculiar & remarkable power in themselves to divine gift, & any unexpected prompting of their own minds to a divine communication. If the spectator did not previously believe in supernatural powers an apparent miracle will never give him, I conceive, any reason for believing in them, while he is aware that there are natural powers unknown to him; but if he does already believe in supernatural powers he has the choice between two agencies both of which he feels assured really exist & he therefore may & ought to consider which of the two is the most probable in the individual instance.
Next as to Xtianity. You need not have supposed any inclination in me to speak with irreverence of J[esus] C[hrist]. He is one of the very few historical characters for whom I have a real & high respect. But there is not, to me, the smallest proof of his having ever said that he worked miracles—nor if he did, should I feel obliged either to believe the fact or to disbelieve his veracity. Respecting St Paul I have a very different feeling. I hold him to have been the first great corrupter of Xtianity. He never saw Christ, never was under his personal influence, hardly ever alludes to any of his deeds or sayings, seems to have kept aloof from all who had known him & in short, made up a religion which is Paulism but not, me judice, Xtianity. Even St Paul however, though I would by no means answer for his sincerity, never that I know of speaks of any particular miracle as having been wrought by him—he only speaks generally of signs & wonders which may mean anything. The author of the “Acts” does speak of particular miracles, & those like the miracles of the Gospel I no more believe than I do the miraculous cure mentioned by Tacitus as wrought by Vespasian.6 I regard them simply as part of the halo which popular enthusiasm throws round its heroes. The argument of the Horae Paulinae7 scarcely aims at proving more than that St Paul really wrote the epistles ascribed to him, which in respect to all but one or two of them, no competent enquirer, I believe, seriously doubts (the case is very different from that of the Gospels), & that the Acts are in part an authentic record of St. Paul’s life, which I see no reason to disbelieve, no more than that Livy is in part a true history of Rome & Herodotus of the countries of which he treats. Since I am on the subject I will add that I cannot conceive how, except from deeprooted impressions of education, any reasonable person can attach value to any attestations of a miracle in an age when everybody was ready to believe miracles the moment they were attested, & even enemies instead of denying the facts, ascribed them to diabolical agency. I would say to such a person, only read any book which gives a really living picture of, let us say, the Oriental mind of the present day. You there see hundreds of millions of people to whose habits of thought supernatural agency is of such everyday familiarity that if you tell them any strange fact & say it is miraculous, they believe you at once, but if you give them a physical explanation of it, they think you a juggler & an imposter. Add to this that until long after the time Xtianity began you hardly find a trace even in the best minds of any regard for abstract veracity—any feeling which should prevent a teacher from deceiving the people for their good. Plato, the highest expression probably of the ethical philosophy of the ancient world & the elevated nature of whose purposes it is impossible to doubt, thought it the duty of legislators to pretend a supernatural origin for their precepts,8 as all very early legislators seem to have done.
These are I think the more important topics of your letter. As to the condition of the labouring people as compared with former times, I incline to think them worse off as to quantity tho’ not quality of food than three centuries ago, and better off as to clothing & lodging—but there is a sad dearth of facts that can be relied on. You speak of Macaulay9 and D’Israeli10 as authorities—anything that Macaulay says, is not matter of observation but of inference & argument of which one must judge for oneself. As for D’Israeli & his Sibyl [sic], I cannot imagine its being received as testimony, or supposed to be anything but a commonplace story.
I am afraid I cannot be of any use to you in recommending treatises on astronomy as it is many years since I read any of the more deeply mathematical sort. The most recent that I have read is that of Biot,11 which is probably by this time superseded. I have never read Laplace’s Mécanique Céleste,12 but have understood that it is the most obscure, & by no means the best, of the treatises on the subject. Most probably Pontécoulant13 will answer your purpose. Nobody I believe ever hazarded a conjecture when the supposed condensation of the sun’s atmosphere began nor whether it is indefinitely progressive or forms part of a cycle including periods of expansion as well as of contraction. I believe it is thought, though I know not on what grounds, that the throwing off of new planets has ceased. It is, I believe, mathematically demonstrable that the supposed changes could not alter the centre of gravity of the solar system & therefore (as it cannot alter the total mass of matter) would make no difference in the orbits of the planets or in any of the other effects of gravitation.
The opinion that all axioms are founded on the evidence of experience, rests to my own mind on the most complete proof but I always knew it would be very difficult to bring home that evidence to those trained in a different school of psychology from mine. Accordingly I have failed to make you see (I do not mean admit) the main & characteristic points of my doctrine on the subject, viz. that our not being able to conceive a thing is no evidence of the thing’s being in itself impossible. You understand me correctly to say that the absence of any law of causation in some distant star, not only is, for anything we know, perfectly possible but is even conceivable—but you ask, is it conceivable that in such a star two straight lines may inclose a space? I say, certainly it is not conceivable, but that does not prove to me that the thing is impossible, since the limitation may be in our faculties, & in the all-pervadingness, to us, of a contrary experience. Again, “the possibility of proving geometrical first principles by merely mental experimentation”14 seems to me to arise from previous experience that in this particular department what is true of our mental images is true also of their originals, which I illustrated in the Logic by the case of a daguerreotype.15
I agree with you that ratiocinative logic may usefully be taught separately from inductive & belongs indeed to an earlier stage in mental instruction.
It is so long since I read Butler16 & I have so little faith in opinions the grounds of which we are not constantly revising, that I will not venture to express an opinion of him. I know that my father thought the argument of the “Analogy” conclusive against deists with whom alone Butler professes to argue & I have heard my father say that it kept him for some time a believer in Xtianity. I was not prepared by what I had heard from him for so contemptuous an opinion as is indicated in some passages of the “Fragment”17 though he never can have thought highly of Butler except by comparison with other writers of the same general tendency in opinion.
I am convinced that competent judges who have sufficient experience of children will not agree in the opinion you express that they have a natural idea of right or duty. I am satisfied that all such ideas in children are the result of inculcation & that were it not for inculcation they would not exist at all except probably in a few persons of pre-eminent genius & feeling.
I have followed your example in expressing my meaning without polite circumlocutions, as I believe you really wish that I should—& any appearance of egotism or dogmatism in what I have said, you will, I hope, not attribute to my thinking an opinion important because it is mine, but will remember that what you asked me to do was to tell you as a matter of fact, what my opinions are, & that too on subjects on which they are strong, & have been much & long considered. I am dear Sir, very truly yours
J. S. Mill
I should have answered your letter weeks ago had I not been out of town on account of health.18
Rev. W. G. Ward, Old Hall Green, Ware
TO HENRY SAMUEL CHAPMAN1
28th May 1849
My dear Chapman
You must have been expecting to hear from me long before this, on the subject of your article2 for the Edinburgh & indeed I have delayed writing much too long, although the reason of the delay was the hope of being able to write something more certain about the article than I am even yet able to do. I must mention to you in the first place that I am not on terms of direct communication with the Edinburgh since the death of Napier3 & the accession of the present editor Empson.4 I was therefore obliged to have recourse to an indirect channel & I thought Buller5 the best as it enabled me at the same time to say a word in the hope of forwarding your views with respect to V[an] D[iemen’s] L[and]. But when I called at Buller’s with the article he was at Paris & when he returned he fell ill & you know the catastrophe. As soon as I could get back the article from among his papers I applied to Senior6 who sent it to Empson; I having first, under the power you gave me, made the few alterations & omissions which seemed to me desirable. Empson wrote to Senior saying that the article was interesting & he should like to insert it, but could not do so before the July number & then must make some alterations & suppressions; this I ventured, in your name, to express assent to. Two or three weeks ago, however, (I being at the time out of town) Empson returned the article to Senior saying that he had tried to alter the article as he had proposed doing, but had not been able to satisfy himself, & added a question, Would Senior’s unknown friend (meaning me, for I had not authorized S. to mention me in connexion with the article) try to set the article in order for the October number. This is the state which the thing is now in. I shall try to do what he says, but I am so little aware of what his objections are to the article as it stands, that it is very probable I may not be able to remove them. When I am able to tell you more I will. As to your claims to promotion,7 I can contribute nothing but good wishes—my interest with Lord Grey8 or any other members of the government is less than none, it is negative, & is never likely to be otherwise.—Thanks for your full particulars about New Zealand affairs in all departments & for your last letter about the earthquake.9 I hope it will not turn out that such serious natural convulsions are to be of common occurrence—as it is I fear even what you have had will be likely to check the recourse of capital & even of labour to the colony. In Europe we are as thickly as ever in the midst of another sort of convulsions—in which the despots10 for the present appear to be getting the best of it & will probably succeed by the aid of Russian troops in putting down democracy for a time everywhere but in France,—the democratic spirit in Germany11 & even in Italy,12 seems quite too strong to be put down & it is sure to resume its ascendancy even but it is terrible to think of a noble people like the Hungarians being cut to pieces13 & their country made another Poland of.14 The whole problem of modern society however will be worked out, as I have long thought it would, in France & nowhere else. I do not know if I have written to you or not since the extraordinary election of Louis Bonaparte as President of the Republic by six or seven millions of votes against a million & a half,15 an election the more remarkable as the million & a half included not only all the intelligence of France but most of what is called the property, a large proportion both of the bourgeoisie & of the grands propriétaires having voted for Cavaignac.16 The election was carried by the vast mass of the peasantry, & it is one of the most striking instances in history of the power of a name—though no doubt dislike of the republic helped the effect, the peasantry being too ignorant to care much about forms of government & being irritated by the temporary increase of taxation which the revolution17 rendered necessary & terrified by the anti-property doctrines of Proudhon & the Socialists—I may say of Proudhon only, for the Socialists, even the Communists, do not propose to take away any property from any one, any more than Owen does. The result is that France having had the rare good fortune of finding two men in succession of perfectly upright intentions, enlightened principles & good sense, Lamartine & Cavaignac, has chosen to reject both & be governed by a stupid, ignorant adventurer who has thrown himself entirely into the hands of the reactionary party,18 &, but that he is too great a fool, would have some chance by these means of making himself emperor.19 But the elections just ended have much disappointed that party, for though they will have a majority20 in the new assembly, the number of the Montagne or red republican party (who are now all socialists) have increased fourfold, while the moderate republican party also musters a considerable number, though many of its chiefs have been turned out. There will probably be no outbreak like that of June21 (unless to repel some attempt at a coup d’état) for the democrats & even the socialists will now think they have a better chance of gaining their objects by the peaceable influence of discussion on the minds of the electors—but what turn things will take it is hard to say, the French people being divided into two violent parties, the furious friends of “order” & the Socialists, who have generally very wild & silly notions & little that one can sympathize with except the spirit & feelings which actuate them. The party who attempt to mediate between these two extremes as the Provisional Government strove to do, is weak, & is disliked by both parties, though there are some signs that all sections of republicans intend to pull together now that they are all in opposition. The chance for France & Europe entirely depends now on the respite which has been obtained & on the possibility of the maturing by this middle party, of rational principles on which to construct an order of society which, retaining the institution of private property (but facilitating all possible experiments for dispensing with it by means of association) shall studiously hurl all inequalities out necessarily inherent in that institution. As an example I may mention the grand idea of the Provisional Government, that of making all education, even professional, gratuitous,22 which as they proposed it, is liable to the grave objection of throwing all education virtually into the hands of the government, but means might I think be found to purge the scheme of this most serious fault. A great source of hope for France lies in the fact that the most powerful & active section of the Socialists are the Fourierists headed by Considérant, who are much the most sensible & enlightened both in the destructive, & in the constructive parts of their system, & are eminently pacific. On the other hand there is the great danger of having a firebrand like Proudhon, the most mischievous man in Europe, & who has nothing whatever of all that I like & respect in the Socialists to whom he in no way belongs.—We certainly live in a most interesting period of history. As for England, it is dead, vapid, left quite behind by all the questions now rising. From the Dukes to the Chartists, including all intermediate stages, people have neither heads nor hearts, & yet they all hug themselves & think they are the only people who are good for anything, & all their public men, even Roebuck,23 have the sentiment.
Ever yours truly,
J. S. Mill
TO GEORGE CORNEWALL LEWIS1
13 June 1849
My dear Sir
As I understand from my friend Mr Bisset2 that Charles Villiers3 has been interesting himself to obtain some government employment for him in the way of his profession & has spoken or is likely to speak to you on the subject, I think it but justice to Bisset to add any testimony which I can give in his favour, to that which you will have received from Villiers. I have known Bisset for many years during which he has struggled hard and meritoriously to make his way in his profession (as a conveyancer) supporting himself meanwhile as a writer, & though he has had little success I believe it to be neither from want of ability nor of legal learning. Coulson,4 whose pupil he was, can speak to both points & it is much in his favour that he was selected to edit the recent edition of Jarman on Wills5 (not the right technical title I am afraid) which I understand he did very creditably. Coulson feels I know considerable interest in him & thinks him competent for many useful public duties & in particular “an excellent person to collect digest & judge of information on any legal subject.” Coulson thinks him not a likely person to succeed in the captation of attornies, & advises him, I believe, rather to look for some permanent appointment than to professional work to which his own wishes at present seem to point. There are many situations which he would be very fit for but he has no means of knowing when any are vacant or in what quarter an application would have any chance. He has the feelings and habits of a gentleman & may be depended on for conscientious care & pains taking in all he undertakes.
He was for a short time employed under the original Poor Law Commission & Senior probably could say something about him though he came very little into direct contact with him.