Front Page Titles (by Subject) 225.: THE MONTHLY REPOSITORY FOR DECEMBER 1833 EXAMINER, 15 DEC., 1833, PP. 788-9 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIII - Newspaper Writings August 1831 - October 1834 Part II
Return to Title Page for The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIII - Newspaper Writings August 1831 - October 1834 Part II
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
225.: THE MONTHLY REPOSITORY FOR DECEMBER 1833 EXAMINER, 15 DEC., 1833, PP. 788-9 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIII - Newspaper Writings August 1831 - October 1834 Part II 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIII - Newspaper Writings August 1831 - October 1834 Part II, ed. Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson, Introduction by Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The online edition of the Collected Works is published under licence from the copyright holder, The University of Toronto Press. ©2006 The University of Toronto Press. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or medium without the permission of The University of Toronto Press.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
THE MONTHLY REPOSITORY FOR DECEMBER 1833
Once again Mill acknowledged his authorship of an article in the Examiner to Carlyle (12 Jan., 1834; EL, CW, Vol. XII, p. 209). Mill had nothing in this number of the Monthly Repository, though his “Comparison of the Tendencies of French and English Intellect” (No. 158) had appeared in November. The review, in the “Literary Examiner,” is headed “The Monthly Repository for December [n.s. VII]. Edited by W.J. Fox”; page references are to this volume. This notice, the fifth in a series beginning with No. 198, is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A review of the December number of the Monthly Repository, in the Examiner of 15th December 1833” (MacMinn, p. 36). In the Somerville College set of the Examiner, it is listed as “Review of the Monthly Repository for December” and enclosed in square brackets.
we think this the best number yet published of a periodical which is rising rapidly into the high estimation it continues more and more to deserve. The same solidity of thought and justness of judgment, the same ardent sympathy with the emotions, interests, and aspirations of the poorer classes, the same enthusiastic feeling for, that is, of, the good and the beautiful, manifest themselves under more varied forms, and in a still more sustained and more impressive manner. Most of the numerous and diversified articles in this number, scarcely leave room for a wish that they could be better, either in design or execution. They are all that they profess to be, and all that their subjects require.
The volume which closes the year, is inscribed—
To no work could such a dedication be more appropriately annexed, for the well-being of the classes to whom the work is thus addressed, is, indeed, the polar star of its course; and by their well-being is not meant, in this work, their physical comfort, nor even their political independence, but these and likewise the invigorating of their understanding and the refinement of their tastes. Not the frivolous, washy “mental improvement” which lords and gentlemen patronizingly and condescendingly administer when they cater “useful knowledge for the people,” always with an eye to diverting them from the discussion of the great social questions, and “keeping them in their proper station.” If this be philanthropy, Mr. Fox is no philanthropist. Speaking of the mechanics of England, he says, or the Repository says for him:
Their intelligence, their principles, their growing moral power, are indications of approaching change, not merely in political forms, but in the structure of society which it is high time to study, and on which a philosophical and courageous statesman, if such an one the country were but blessed withal, would already begin to act, and that on no petty scale. Happily this growing power is not one of brute force; it is a developement of intelligence. To us, therefore, there is in it nothing fearful. The only evil which we apprehend is in the kind of resistance which may be opposed to it. It may be guided, but it cannot be coerced: and the attempt to mislead it, for the private benefit of other classes, will not fail less signally, nor recoil less destructively, than even coercion itself. We have long been impressed by the conviction that the intellect of poverty must be self-instructed, that it will not feed on the crumbs which fall from the rich man’s table; that the real teachers of the poorer class must themselves be men of that class, imbued with its peculiar feelings, alive to its peculiar interests, influenced even by its peculiar prejudices; but, by their native power of mind, strongly conscious of its peculiar wants, and of capacity to minister to the supply of those wants. Such are the teachers who will be attended to without suspicion: whose words will have many echoes from the multitudes of their brethren, while the voice of condescending instruction dies without response on the empty air. Laughable as it might lately have been deemed, the “producing men” are actually producing their own politicians and poets; and such too as feel it to be grander and a nobler part, to make common cause with their brethren, raising their minds and refining their tastes, than to become, as was the old practice, the flattered appendages of superior station, tame monsters, with the range of the kitchen, rising into the livery dignity of patronage, hot-pressed paper, and a subscription list.1
In every word of this we concur; but with the qualification, that not only the more vigorous minds in the poorer class, but persons also with the superior opportunities of instruction afforded by a higher station, may be, (and of this the writer himself is an example) most efficient instructors of the poorer classes, provided they have sufficient freedom from the littleness of mind which caste-distinctions engender, and a sufficiently just appreciation of the intelligence of the reading part of the working-classes, to prevent them from being condescending instructors. No gentleman is fit to write for the poor who cannot help betraying in every line that he habitually deems himself a being of a different order from them, and vastly their superior, that he cannot for one half hour lose the consciousness of his artificial and conventional rank, but is perpetually showing it in the most offensive of all ways, that of taking credit for not showing it. He must learn to speak to the working-people as an equal to his equals, as he would speak to persons less informed than himself on the particular subject, but with minds quite as capable of understanding it. When, moreover, the assumption of superiority over their intellect, and the ostentation of descending to make himself intelligible to their ignorant minds is accompanied with an attempt to pass off upon them, even though in a good cause, palpable sophisms which the least discerning of them has intellect enough to see through, he but excites the contempt, mingled with aversion, which a large portion of the reading mechanics feel for the instructions in political economy which have been put forth to the “working man” by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.2
The vigorous and impressive article from which we have quoted is itself a review of a remarkable work, a poem, by a mechanic, entitled Saint Monday.3 The extracts from the poem are as interesting as the review itself, which concludes thus:
We say to him (the Author) and his fellow-labourers, go on and prosper, and so saying we include ourselves in our own benediction, for we have a common purpose with him and them. We adhere to the St. Simonian maxim,4 (even though the Times should recommend our being pelted for the same;) we contend that the legitimate object of all political institutions is the improvement of the condition, physical, intellectual, and moral, of the poorest and most numerous class. We hold that this object is paramount in social arrangements. We believe in no real discrepancy; but if there were, coûte qui coûte, the progression of humanity must be exhibited in those who toil. Their rights and interests should be pursued by all honourable means, and at all real risk; by unions, by meetings, by cheap publications, by petitions and remonstrances, and by whatever else circumstances may require; and that, whatever becomes of churches, corporations, or monopolies of peers or princes; the physical comfort, the mental cultivation, the political rights of the working-people of England, that is the motto on our banner; we nail that flag to the mast, and will sink or swim with it flying,so help us God.
Next to this unflinching advocacy of the interests of the working-classes the most characteristic distinction of this periodical from others is a keen sensibility to the beautiful in all its kinds and varieties, and the strongest interest, manifested both by precept and example, in poetry and art, not as idle amusements, but important branches of human culture, and agents in the progression of the species.
We quote from a delightful article on the Louvre a description of a picture, itself almost a still lovelier picture:
It is all that a National gallery ought to be. Watch the people clustered round, and being educated by their favourite pictures; look at their eager intelligent faces; listen to their doubly happy remarks, reading all they can from a picture, too poor to purchase a catalogue, and courteously asking the more fortunate to help them to its subject. Soldiers, too, but they are of the National Guard, not your mere legalized cut-throats; generals, colonels, and captains, would do well, if true to their profession, to keep all such from picture-galleries. The arts are meant to refine, their system to brutalize. One fancies that soldiers would choose battle pieces (of which, be it said, there are vastly too many taken as subjects by the French artists—more of that anon). Not so; there is one with his eyes fixed on a picture of Annibal Carracci, the quietest, gentlest, most exquisitely touched! It is called Le Silence, and you hold your breath, and do not speak as you look at it. The catalogue says, La Vierge recommande le silence à St. Jean, pour ne pas troubler le repos de Jésus. That recommande sounds strangely, but what other word could be found? The sweet, earnest face of the mother, whose arm tenderly cradles the sleeping child—sleeping so placidly, that you hear in fancy the gentle breathing through its parted lips; her upraised, hushing finger, her slight bending forward, as if to check the little disciple, who is making his whole body minister to one tiny finger, that it may fall like down upon the foot of the sleeper. . . . The soldier is still gazing, and if you asked him why? he would perhaps answer, Because the woman was so douce, and the children so jolis. We would make answer for him, that he has a human heart—that he is enjoying, perhaps unconsciously, the expression of brotherly affection and expansive benevolence. The mother’s face is alike free from the harshness of rebuke or the weakness of entreaty. She is careful of the feelings of the child of another, as she is watchful over the repose of her own; she is not one to exact obedience through fear, but to change it into pleasure through affection—the face of that mother, the act of that child, are lovely lessons of kindness and gentleness, from which all, whether men, women, or children, may learn equally.5
The gallery of the Louvre on a Sunday, and the working men and the working women whom it is filled with, are indeed a spectacle which we have never seen without envying those who have the happiness to live in an unaristocratic country; a country where the rich and the poor having the same enjoyments, do not repel, but attract each other; where the very populace, in the height of an armed insurrection, place sentinels to guard their own gallery of statues and pictures from injury, and chalk up in every street the words, “Respect aux Monuments.”
The “Autobiography of Pel. Verjuice” becomes more and more interesting.6 It contains this month a vivid portraiture of the horrors of a man-of-war, which would be deemed one of the most vigorous chapters of the best recent novels, and as an authentic biography will, if generally read, strike a heavier blow at impressment, and the present naval discipline, than twenty of Sir James Graham’s most insolent speeches will be able to parry.7
An excellent article on Church Reform,8 advocates with equal strength of feeling and vigour of argument, the right of the nation to do what it pleases with the public property, called by an abuse of terms, the “property of the Church,” and the expediency of exercising that right by taking the Church endowments (after the death of existing incumbents) not to be swallowed up in the bottomless pit of the National Debt, but to form a fund for the mental culture of the people in the most extensive sense, by education, and the diffusion and encouragement of all branches of science and art.
There is much more in this number of the Repository, which we would gladly notice, but we must conclude; and we shall do so by a quotation from the address of the editor to his readers at the close of the year:
With a satisfaction, in which I trust my readers will join, do I look back, not only on the accession of so many enlightened and philosophical minds, attracted by congeniality with the spirit of the Monthly Repository, to labour for the extension of its influences, but also on the topics which have exercised their powers. The experiment has, unless I am much deceived in the result, been made successfully, of rendering a periodical interesting without sacrificing to mere amusement, to personal calumny, or to party or private objects. On every great question, however brief the space allowed for its discussion, it has been attempted to penetrate to the true and ultimate principles of solution. Caring comparatively little about particular men or temporary measures, constant regard has been had to those pervading evils of the social condition, and those redeeming and progressive tendencies of the human constitution, which must be understood before the one can be effectually redressed, or the other can have their free and full operation in the production of the happiness which man was created to enjoy. Using words which have been egregiously misapplied, it may be justly said, that on whatever point reform or change has been advocated, we were destructive9 only that we might be conservative. And that for the conservation of which, free from all impediment, we are most solicitous, is the principle of progression in humanity; a principle which is ever growing in strength with the growth of knowledge; which must and will burst all the bonds, and demolish all the barriers of antiquated institutions; and on which Governments must learn to act, unless they are content to be regarded as the present enemies of nations, and the speedy victims of revolutions.
[1 ]“Saint Monday,” p. 830. The article is probably by W.J. Fox.
[2 ]Founded in 1826 by a group including Brougham, James Mill, and Grote, the S.D.U.K. published through Charles Knight inexpensive editions of works on a wide range of subjects including science, history, economics, philosophy, and literature. Brougham’s influence was the dominant one.
[3 ]Saint Monday: A Poem, by the Author of “The Mechanic’s Saturday Night” (London: Steill, 1833) was by Henry Brown, an artisan.
[4 ]The “maxim,” partly paraphrased in English below, reads: “Toutes les institutions sociales doivent avoir pour but l’amélioration du sort moral, physique et intellectuel de la classe la plus nombreuse et la plus pauvre. / Tous les privilèges de la naissance, sans exceptions, seront abolis.” See Doctrine Saint-Simonienne (Nouveau Christianisme) (1830), in Oeuvres de Saint-Simon et d’Enfantin, 2nd ed., 47 vols. (Paris: Dentu, and Leroux, 1865-78), Vol. XLI, p. 55. The maxim was used as a motto by Le Globe.
[5 ]Sarah Flower, “A National Gallery,” pp. 841-2. The marks of ellipsis are hers.
[6 ]The latest instalment of this novel by Pemberton is on pp. 816-29 (for the other instalments, see No. 207, n5).
[7 ]The reference is to Graham’s speech of 15 Aug.; see No. 222, n1.
[8 ]“Church Reform, Considered as a National and Not a Sectarian Question,” pp. 805-13; for the attack on the term “property of the Church,” see p. 809. The article is probably by W.J. Fox.
[9 ]For the origins of the term in this sense, see No. 216, n25.