Front Page Titles (by Subject) March 1863 to July 1873 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXV - Newspaper Writings December 1847 - July 1873 Part IV
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March 1863 to July 1873 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXV - Newspaper Writings December 1847 - July 1873 Part IV 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, XXV - Newspaper Writings December 1847 - July 1873 Part IV, 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).
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March 1863 to July 1873
The Polish uprising of 1830-31 had been followed by a period of repression, during which Poland had been reduced to the status of a Russian province; attempts to extinguish Polish nationality continued under the milder rule, beginning in 1855, of Tsar Alexander II (1818-81). The revolt of January 1863 had as its immediate cause an ordinance conscripting Poles into the Russian army at the arbitrary discretion of the government. By the time of Mill’s letter, a Provisional Government had been formed by the rebels.
On 8 Mar., p. 1, the Penny Newsman, edited by Mill’s friend of forty years, Edwin Chadwick, published “The Polish Insurrection,” which prompted Mill to write to Chadwick on 9 Mar.: “I send a paper on the Polish question, in the form of a letter to the Editor. If you like you can alter the form to that of an article from a correspondent; but on the whole probably it is better as it is. I have signed it with my initials, and have no objection to being known as the author. . . . Proofs would be agreeable if there is time and it is not inconvenient.” The next day he wrote again: “I have returned the proof, corrected, to the Editor. [paragraph] I have no objection to being named in your leader, but I wish only my initials to be put to the letter itself; and I would rather that, in your first sentence, my name was introduced more indirectly. You might say ‘we feel thankful to a correspondent, whose initials sufficiently indicate his name’ or some such words, and you might then go on mentioning me by name as at present. [paragraph] I would rather you did not add the sentence proposed in your letter, because I do not wish to be understood as having peculiar sources of information. Herzen’s and Ogareff’s writings are open to all the world, and the notification by the Insurrectionary Committee to which my letter refers was mentioned by the correspondents of some of the English newspapers. [paragraph] Many thanks for your offer of separate slips, but I do not care to have any.” (LL, CW, Vol. XV, pp. 847, 847-8.) In a long introductory paragraph (pp. 8-9), Chadwick followed Mill’s wishes.
Mill’s letter, headed “(To the Editor of the Penny Newsman),” is his only contribution to that paper. It is described in his bibliography as “A letter on Poland, signed J.S.M. in the Penny Newsman for March 15, 1863”
(MacMinn, p. 94).
The view which you have taken in your last and some previous numbers1 —or, I should rather say, the view which you appear disposed to take of—Polish and Hungarian affairs, seeming not to be characterised by your usual accuracy of information, you will, I hope, permit a warm friend and admirer of your principles and purposes to endeavour to set right what he regards as a complete misapprehension of the events now taking place in those countries.
You appear to look with suspicion on the great national movements in Poland and in Hungary as being aristocratic movements; not likely to confer any good upon the mass of the population; not provoked by the tyranny under which aristocracy and people alike suffer, but rather by the benefits which the Emperors of Russia and Austria are desirous of conferring upon the people, and which the aristocracy would be glad to intercept.2
The true state of the case, both in Poland and in Hungary, is very far from this. I limit myself for the present to Poland, leaving Hungary for, perhaps, a future occasion. In Poland, then, the present insurrection is essentially a popular one. The higher nobility and great landholders have, hitherto, for the most part stood aloof; not from want of sympathy with the movement, but because they regarded it as premature. The Insurrectionary Committee have, in consequence, thought it necessary to issue a general summons to the aristocracy, both in Poland and in exile, threatening that if they do not join the insurrection they shall be deprived of their lands.3
Next, as to the benefits which the Emperor designs for the labouring classes, and which you seem to think are a cause of displeasure to the authors of the insurrection. Let me first say, the enfranchisement of serfs is not now the matter in question. There are no serfs in Poland; and there are none in Russia since the 2nd March.4 Let the Emperor Alexander have all honour for this great triumph of justice. But though there is now no question between the peasantry and their former masters respecting their personal freedom, there is a great and fundamental question still open relating to the land. The peasants maintain that, along with their freedom, they ought to receive, in full ownership, the portion of land which was previously assigned to them to be cultivated by themselves and their families. This claim is resisted by the landowners. From the peculiar character of the agricultural economy of the country, which it would be too long at present to enter into, both sides have much that they can justly urge for their view of the question. The Emperor has decided the point in favour of the landlords. The leaders of the insurrection have decided it in favour of the peasants.
The Insurrectionary Committee have entered into a public engagement that the land, which is the subject of dispute, shall be given absolutely (without any payment, present or future) to the peasants who have hitherto tilled it; and that the landowners shall receive compensation at the cost of the State, the only mode by which the burthen can be fairly shared between the two parties. Some months before the insurrection broke out, the leaders had already announced to their friends in England, as part of their programme, what they have now pledged themselves in the face of the world to carry into effect.5
Thus, if the insurrection were successful, the labouring population of Poland would acquire, without internal conflict or wrong to any one, that proprietorship in the land which the rural population of France gained by the Revolution, and the acquisition of which was an ample return for the sacrifice of a whole generation.
Even if this great benefit to the masses were not, as it is, one of the direct objects of the insurrection, I submit that, in the more backward countries of Europe any revolution, any bursting of the bonds by which all the energies of the people are now cramped and paralyzed, must be an improvement, must be the commencement of a new era. The resurrection of Polish nationality would at least let in the light. It would bestow a free press, freedom of public discussion, representative assemblies, national education. It would let in the ideas of civilised Europe; and not the ideas only, but the industry and capital also; and before these combined influences, the barbarism, which has been prolonged till now chiefly by the benumbing influence of foreign bondage, would rapidly pass away. A foreign tyranny necessarily regards intelligence and education as its greatest dangers. Any national government in the situation of Poland, much more one which is certain to be a free and popular government, will feel its safety and prosperity entirely dependent on the amount of popular intelligence and popular energy which it can array in its defence.
If you would only learn what the Liberals and Democrats of Russia itself think and feel about Poland; if you would inquire what is thought and felt by the editors of the Bell, Mr. Herzen and Mr. Ogareff, who, by their newspaper, clandestinely circulated at St. Petersburg, are already shaking the whole fabric of Russian despotism;6 if you will ascertain their opinion, you will no longer mistake one of the most unanimous and profoundly popular political manifestations in history for a class movement to perpetuate the domination of an aristocracy. If you would see, on the other hand, a vivid representation of the old type of a haughty aristocrat, sincerely zealous for the dignity and nationality of his country, as identified with his class, but reckless of any amount of cruel oppression inflicted upon the multitude, read the sketch in last week’s Spectator of the principal agent of Russian tyranny over Poland at the present moment, the Marquis Wielopolski.7
THE CIVIL WAR IN THE UNITED STATES
Our Daily Fare was issued from 8 to 21 June, 1864, in connection with the Great Central Sanitary Fair of that year held in Philadelphia by the United States Sanitary Commission. Established in the spring of 1861, this was a voluntary civilian organization that supplied medical aid, financial relief, and material and spiritual comfort to the soldiers and sailors of the Union forces. Mill’s interest in their work continued: a year later, the Daily News (3 Apr., 1865, p. 3), reported from Boston papers that Mill, “who has all along been a good friend of the United States, has directed that whatever copyright may be allowed by the American publishers of his works shall be given to the Sanitary Commission or some similar object of national charity.” The Editorial Committee, to whom the letter here printed is addressed, was chaired by George W. Childs (1829-94), publisher and philanthropist, to whom Mill had earlier written (LL, CW, Vol. XV, pp. 729-30). Dated “Avignon, May 25,” and headed, “Written to the Editorial Committee of Our Daily Fare,” this letter is Mill’s only contribution to the paper. It was republished in the Daily News, 25 July, p. 5, and the Penny Newsman, 31 July, p. 1, and also in the New York Times, 10 July, p. 6, and the National Reformer, 6 Aug., p. 327. It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A letter to the Philadelphia Sanitary Paper dated May 25, 1864, reprinted in the Daily News of [July 25] and in the Newsman of July 31, 1864” (MacMinn, p. 95). The variant notes derive from collation with the Daily News and Penny Newsman, signified in the notes by “DN” and “PN”.
i am sincerely thankful to the Editing Committee for including me among those from whom they have invited a public expression of sympathy with the cause in which the Free States of America are so heroically shedding their best blood.
a The war, justifiable and laudable even if it had continued to be, as it was at first, one of mere resistance to the extension of slavery, is becoming, as it was easy to foresee it would, more and more a war of principle for the complete extirpation of that curse. And in proportion as this has become apparent, the sympathies of nearly all in Europe whose approbation is worth having, are resuming their natural course, and the cause of the North will soon have no enemies, on this side of the Atlantic, but those who prefer any tyranny, however odious, to a triumph of popular government.
b It would be unpardonable, did I omit, on an occasion like this, to express my warmest feelings of admiration for the Sanitary Commission. History has caffordedc no other example—though it is to be hoped that it will hereafter afford many—of so great a work of usefulness extemporized by the spontaneous self-devotion and organizing genius of a people, altogether independently of the Government.
d But while the present struggle has called into brilliant exercise all the high qualities which the institutions of the American Republic have made general among her citizens, it has also laid open—as e is the nature of trying times to do—all the weak points in her national habits, and in the working of her institutions. These are doubtless far better known to thoughtful Americans than they are likely to be to any foreigner, and this great historical crisis will be doubly blessed if it directs attention to them. In all states of society the most serious danger is that the national mind should go to sleep on the self-satisfied notion that all is right with it; but the great awakening of the public conscience which is taking place on the one political and social abomination which has done more than all other causes together to demoralize American politics, has probably removed all danger of this sort for one generation at least; and warrants the hope that the American people will not rest satisfied with the great advantages which no other people and no other Government fpossessf in so high a degree; but will resolve that their democracy shall not be behind any nation whatever in those elements of good government which have been thought to find a more congenial soil in other States of society and gunderg other political institutions.
John Stuart Mill
ENGLAND AND EUROPE
In February 1864 Austria and Prussia invaded Denmark to take possession of Schleswig and Holstein. The Liberal British cabinet under Palmerston, though sympathetic to the Danish cause, resolved on 28 June not to intervene. Disraeli moved a motion censuring the government for its inaction, which was debated at length on 4, 5, 7, and 8 July in the Commons (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 176, cols. 709-817, 826-930, 952-1073, 1198-1300). Mill’s letter, headed as title, with the subhead, “To the Editor of the Daily News,” is described in his bibliography as “A letter headed ‘England and Europe’, signed J.S.M. in the Daily News of July 1st 1864” (MacMinn, p. 95). It is probably referred to in a letter of 4 July to Chadwick, editor of the Penny Newsman, giving him permission to reprint an article which had appeared in another paper (LL, CW, Vol. XV, p. 946); at any rate it was reprinted in the Penny Newsman, 10 July, p. 7. The text below is that of the Daily News, which has been collated with the Penny Newsman, yielding one substantive variant; in the note the reading of the latter is signalled by “PN”.
Allow me to invite your attention to one of the aspects of the question about to be tried next week between the present Government and the Tories, which does not seem to have received the amount of attention that is its due.
The Government of this country is called to a severe account for conduct which is said to have lowered the country in the estimation of the world. And what has thus impaired the reputation of the country is supposed to be, that it has used strong language when it did not intend to support that language by fighting; that it spoke its mind about the perpetration of a great public iniquity, which it was not willing to go to war to prevent. This is what England lately did in the case of Poland,1 and what it is reproached with doing in the present case of Denmark.
Now this is simply complaining that England has done what as civilisation advances the more high-principled nations are certain to do more and more; and that it has set the example of a practice which, when it becomes general, will be one of the greatest steps in advance ever made in international proceedings.
In times past nations have scarcely ever gone to war unless for their own supposed interest or dignity. It appears to be the general opinion that they ought to persist in thus acting, and I am not going to discuss just now whether, or how far, this opinion is right. But there is one point in which the practice of past times may very properly be altered, even if the alteration goes no further. In former days, governments, when a wrong did not affect themselves, did not care enough about the interests of others, or about wrong merely as such, to put themselves out of their way to incur the ill will of powerful neighbours by giving to wrong its proper name. The present government, though not the first, have been among the first, to break through this selfish and cowardly forbearance. As the British government, and in the name of the British nation, they have, in the two cases of Poland and of Denmark, given public expression to the reprobation of a crime, although its consequences did not touch themselves, and although they were not prepared to brave all the evils and difficulties involved in arresting the crime by armed interference.
There are those who think this a fit subject for reproach. To me it appears to be the inauguration of the practice of bringing international and political wrongs under a moral police, by a demonstration of disinterested disapproval. Not an insignificant thing in itself; and if the time ever comes when such wrongs will be repressed by a sharper mode of interference on the part of disinterested bystanders, this milder method will be the necessary precursor and preparation for it.
But this plan of speaking our mind without backing our expression of asentimenta by blows is a new thing in a government, because governments have never yet cared enough about justice and honesty for their own sake, or been sufficiently indignant against violations of them, to adopt it. The majority of governments are still in this condition of moral callousness and indifference, and are not even able to understand that any government can care about a wrong which is no prejudice to itself. In consequence, a government which begins the practice of speaking out honestly when circumstances do not allow it to act chivalrously, must lay its account with incurring, in the first instance, some loss of what is termed consideration. The consideration of a government still depends, as that of an individual once did, upon the degree of readiness ascribed to it to draw its sword whenever any of its sentiments is offended. If, therefore, it shows any offended feeling, and the sword does not come forth, it is for a time suspected of being wanting either in sincerity or in spirit. But England is able, and should be willing, to show that the kind of consideration which is given to a Drawcansir is a kind that she can do without.2
The feeling of the country did not allow the government to go to war for Poland, and would not, probably, allow it to go to war for Denmark. But this being granted, I hope there are very few Englishmen who would have preferred that, not intending to fight, England should have remained silent. I trust that if Poland had been desolated and Denmark plundered without a word of protest on our part there would have been far greater dissatisfaction with our government, and a far deeper sense of shame and national humiliation, than I believe to exist now. As it is, we need not fear any permanent loss of prestige, even with those with whom the only thing which gives it is the power and willingness to resort to force. They will soon find out whether the change which has taken place in us is that we have grown more afraid of war, or only more prone to denounce and stigmatise great public iniquities, even when the sacrifices required for stopping their perpetration are greater than it is the duty of a single power to incur in a quarrel not its own.—I am, &c.,
ON HARE’S PLAN
In his A Treatise on the Election of Representatives, Parliamentary and Municipal (1859), Thomas Hare (1806-91) put forward a scheme for proportional representation that Mill immediately adopted (see, e.g., CW, Vol XIX, pp. 358-70). Hare advanced particular proposals for applying the plan to Metropolitan elections in On an Organization of the Metropolitan Elections (London: National Association for the Promotion of Social Science, 1865), a paper read at the Association’s meeting in London on 10 Apr., 1865, at which Mill spoke (see “Metropolitan Elections,” Daily News, 11 Apr., p. 2). The issues were taken up in the article referred to in Mill’s first sentence, “Metropolitan Elections,” Spectator, 15 Apr., pp. 405-6. The letter, headed “Mr. John Stuart Mill on Mr. Hare’s Plan,” with subhead, “To the Editor of the ‘Spectator,’ ” is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A letter on Hare’s System in the Spectator of April 29th 1865”
(MacMinn, p. 96).
In your paper of Saturday, the 15th, while commenting on the proposal of Mr. Hare for the experimental adoption of his system of representation in the metropolitan constituencies, you give to that system the credit which it deserves of opening the representation of the capital to the eminent men of the whole empire; but you seem to think that it would exclude all others, and that local men, qualified and disposed to attend to the local interests of the constituency, would under that system no longer be elected.
Nothing can more strongly exemplify the need of discussion on the subject than the appearance of such a misconception in a paper like yours; for it seems to me evident that Mr. Hare’s plan could not have the effect which you apprehend, and that of all the objections which have been made to it this is one of the most untenable.
Mr. Hare’s plan would enable every person to be elected for the metropolis who was voted for by a twenty-second part of the whole number of votes given. Is it supposed that not so many as a twenty-second part of the metropolitan electors would desire a local representative? Were this so, it would be a clear proof that local representatives were not needed. But they are needed, and they would consequently be voted for, not by once or twice or three times, but by ten or twelve times the number of the quota. In Mr. Hare’s system, as in the present, the real danger would be lest local feelings and interests should predominate too much. They would certainly fill as great a place in the representation as they do in the minds of the represented; for Mr. Hare’s system does not swamp the real wishes of any portion of the electors, all other systems do.
The misapprehension is probably occasioned by a momentary forgetfulness of the main difference between Mr. Hare’s mode of election and the existing one. If the result of the poll were to be determined in the present way, by comparative majorities, it would be possible, though not probable, that men of national reputation, known to all, and voted for in every part of the metropolis, might obtain a majority over all the local candidates, each of whom might be known and supported only by the inhabitants of a particular district. But under Mr. Hare’s system, the man of general celebrity could not have an unlimited number of votes counted for him, but a certain number only; when he had obtained that number, he would be returned, and the remainder of his supporters would have their votes counted for some one else. The return of the useful and hardworking local candidate would not depend upon his obtaining more votes, for example, than Mr. Gladstone;1 he would be sure of his election if he obtained the 2,000 or 5,000 suffrages which might represent a twenty-second part of the total number of votes given. The clubs and political parties whose influence you dread, would be well aware of this, and as it would be their strongest interest that their list should be composed of such names as would conciliate every large section of the constituency, they would be sure to include in it a sufficient number of the most competent local men of their party.
The power which would undoubtedly be exercised by these clubs and managers of parties, is a consideration of greater moment, which deserves and requires a full discussion. Lord Stanley touched on it at the Social Science meeting, not as an objection, but as a difficulty; unfortunately towards the close of the discussion, when time did not admit of its receiving the prominence due to it.2 My answer would be, that party organization will always be a great power, but that the power is at present greater instead of less than it would be under the proposed system. As things now are, the party which can obtain the numerical majority returns all the members, and nobody else is represented. If neither party is confident of a majority the two parties, by an understanding with one another, can divide the representation without a contest between regular party men of both sides. And these party men, in the majority of cases, are not the best or ablest men of either party, but its landed or moneyed nullities. Under the proposed system, no party, however well organized, could engross all the representation, unless it embraced all the constituency: it could never be represented in a greater proportion than that of its numerical strength, and to thus much it is indisputably entitled. If the opposite party, or if independent electors, anxious only to elect the best man, could make up, not a half, or a third, or a tenth, but a bare twenty-second part of the number of actual voters, they would obtain one, at least, of the twenty-two representatives. Meanwhile the great parties, though they would of course strive for the election of their political friends, would be obliged to select from among their friends those who would do most credit to the proposers. It would not do for them to make up a list of less worthy or less distinguished names than the rival lists. They would have the strongest motives for proposing among party men those who were also something more than party men; who, besides the party support, might have a chance of obtaining by their personal merit votes which would have been refused to them as mere party organs. For the electors who care for things above party would not then, as now, have only a choice between party candidates; if the party names proposed did not satisfy them they would have the power of returning some candidates of their own.
Allow me, Sir, in conclusion, to entreat your more deliberate consideration of this great subject. Your paper is honourably distinguished from most others by looking forward to a perhaps distant future, which instead of deprecating, you desire, but because you are sufficiently interested in it to perceive in what direction its special difficulties and chances of failure lie, you are anxious to provide it in time with the appropriate correctives. I have the deepest conviction that no corrective ever yet thought of for the peculiar inconveniences of a commercial and industrial democracy approaches in efficacy to the system of Mr. Hare; while it is equally suitable to the state of things under which we now live, since it would at once assure to that minority in the constituencies which consists of the operative classes, the share in the representation which you demand for them, and which they cannot obtain in any other mode yet proposed except by extruding from the same privilege other large and important portions of the electoral body.—I am, &c.,
THE WESTMINSTER ELECTION 
This item and No. 414 are concerned with the parliamentary election of 1865, in which Mill was a successful candidate. One of the two Westminster seats had become vacant with the retirement of George de Lacy Evans (1787-1870), who had represented the borough 1833-41 and 1846-65; the other was held by Sir John Villiers Shelley (1808-67), like Evans a Liberal, and M.P. since 1852. The first new Liberal candidate for the election of 1865 was Robert Wellesley Grosvenor (1834-1918), a representative of the wealthy Grosvenor family, headed by the Duke of Westminster, whose estates included much of Westminster. On 13 Feb., however, the Liberal electors held a meeting at which they resolved to solicit eminent men to run as their representatives; Mill and Viscount Amberley were suggested (see The Times, 14 Feb., 1865, p. 6). Mill explained his principles in two letters, which were published, to James Beal (1829-91), the Committee Chairman, who had announced to him that he was their choice (see LL, CW, Vol. XVI, pp. 1005-7). He also urged the Committee to persevere in their proposed plan of soliciting names of candidates from the Liberal electors at large. The following MS draft of a letter to be used for this purpose is in Mill’s hand in University College London, attached to a copy of his letter to Chadwick of 28 Apr., 1865 (LL, CW, Vol. XVI, pp. 1038-9). Whether it is of Mill’s own composition, or is a revision of someone else’s is not known. It is not listed in the bibliography of his published writings, and no published version has been found; however, the opinions are those he expressed elsewhere.
“a committee of —” or “The Liberal Committee” (or whatever is its proper designation) having taken into consideration the prospect of a vacancy in the representation of Westminster, have determined, before nominating any candidate to ascertain by a direct appeal to the electors, what candidates they would prefer, and have appointed a Special Committee for carrying this resolution into effect, whose names are adjoined.
You are therefore, as an elector of Westminster, earnestly requested to read and consider the documents herewith submitted, and having done so, to fill up the form hereunto annexed, with the names of the two persons for whom, without any personal solicitation, you would be willing to vote.
The Committee have adopted this mode of proceeding for the following reasons.
1st. To afford to the electors a wider range of choice, and enable them to obtain a better quality of representatives. They do not think it worthy of Westminster to accept the first man, of wealth or aristocratic connexion, who offers himself under the appellation of a Liberal. The largest and most intelligent constituencies in the Kingdom should aim at being represented by persons of proved capacity for public service, and of a high order of intellect. It is for the electors to select, among such persons, those whom they would most wish to adopt as their candidates, in order that the necessary steps may be taken to give effect to their wishes.
2dly. To avoid the useless and wasteful expenses, by which the choice of the electors is virtually limited to rich men, and seats in parliament are, in effect, made purchaseable by money, for no higher purposes than personal distinction or party convenience.
3dly. To give to every elector an equal opportunity for expressing his opinion, with the least possible trouble and inconvenience, and without the intrusion of paid canvassers, or the exertion of undue influence to obtain the promise of his vote.
The Committee were desirous of bringing before the electors, along with the names now submitted, the greatest number possible of other persons whose character, and proved qualifications, would render them suitable representatives of a place which, like Westminster, has for a century aspired to be represented by the most eminent names in the party of Reform and Progress. But, of the persons known to possess such qualifications as would make them worthy to be elected without personal solicitation and free of expense, some were prevented by other engagements, and some by personal reasons, from consenting to be proposed to the electors. The Committee have been thus precluded from submitting authentic statements of the claims of any other candidates than those herein specified. They do not, however, presume or desire to put any restrictions on your choice, but will gladly receive and record the expression of your preference in favour of any person by whom it would be more agreeable to you to be represented.
After the receipt of replies from a sufficient number of electors, the two persons for whom the greatest number of preferences have been expressed, will be put in nomination at the hustings. It would have been gratifying to the Committee if the friends of the sitting member, and those of the gentleman who first presented himself to supply the vacancy, would have consented to refer the pretensions of their candidates to the same test. This, however, they have refused. It now, therefore, rests with the electors to declare, whether they are so perfectly satisfied with the qualifications of these gentlemen, as to prefer them to the candidates now submitted for your choice, and to all others who could be obtained. The Committee earnestly hope that by returning the paper with the blanks filled up, you will afford them the means of judging whether this is the case with yourself.
ROMILLY’S PUBLIC RESPONSIBILITY AND THE BALLOT
Mill’s review is of Public Responsibility and Vote by Ballot. By an Elector (London: Ridgway, 1865), by Henry Romilly (1805-84), businessman and magistrate, son of Sir Samuel Romilly and brother of John, 1st Baron Romilly. Romilly included Mill’s review (calling it a “letter,” perhaps because it was signed with Mill’s initials) in the 2nd ed. of his pamphlet, which had the subtitle: To Which Are Appended, A Letter from John Stuart Mill to the Editor of the Reader, 29 Apr., 1865, and Observations Thereon (London: Ridgway, 1867). (A copy is in SC, without marks.) Mill’s only contribution to the Reader, this notice is in the “Current Literature” section, headed “Public Responsibility and the Ballot,” with the subhead, “Public Responsibility and Vote by Ballot. By an Elector. (Ridgway.) 1865.” It is described in Mill’s bibiliography as “Review of a pamphlet on the Ballot (by Mr. Henry Romilly) in the Reader of April 29, 1865; afterwards reprinted by Mr. Henry Romilly, in a pamphlet replying to it”
(MacMinn, p. 96).
this pamphlet is a defence of the Ballot, or, rather, an answer to the objections to it. The writer is evidently a man of intelligence and knowledge, and accustomed to discussion. It is always fortunate when disputed questions are treated, not in a rhetorical, but in a dialectical spirit. The pamphlet contains incidentally many true and useful thoughts, and some others which excite surprise that the writer can have gone through the process of putting them on paper without perceiving their untenableness. To the present reviewer (who must be understood as speaking for himself only) the discussion appears, as to its main object, a failure.
The arguments for and against the Ballot are so trite and familiar, that the world is excusably tired of them. But in the answers to them there is still room for novelty, and it is in these that the main stress of the practical controversy lies. The author of the pamphlet directs his principal efforts against one of the anti-Ballot arguments, which he is quite right in regarding as the strongest; namely, that the franchise is a trust for the public, and the voter should be responsible to the public for the use made of it.
There are two ways in which a writer might meet this argument. He might admit the moral responsibility of the elector, and the beneficial effect on his mind of fulfilling his trust under the eye and criticism of those who are interested in its right fulfilment; but, he might say, the voters are in such a state of helpless dependence—each of them, so to speak, has a tyrant with eyes so fiercely glaring on him—that since his vote, if known to his friends and family, will be known to his master, the salutary influences of honour and shame cannot be admitted without letting in, along with them, the more powerful ones of terror. Darkness is the only element in which the voter can be free to do his duty; and we must trust, for a good vote, to such spontaneous feelings of conscience and patriotism as may not need the support of publicity. This would reduce the question to one of fact, on which every one would form his own opinion. He who thinks that the electors, or a large proportion of them, are in this state of compulsory subjection, will probably be a supporter of the Ballot; though, even then, he ought to ask himself whether this slavish dependence is likely to last, whether the whole of the changes now taking place in society do not tend to its diminution, and even extinction. There might be a good case against its being yet time to abolish the Ballot, if we had always had it, and yet no case in favour of introducing, for a temporary purpose, a novelty which, when the time comes for which we ought to be looking, will be mischievous, and which has a decided tendency to unfit men for that coming time.
This, however, in our judgment, is the only line of defence for the Ballot which can ever be, to a certain extent, tenable. The author of the pamphlet has not chosen this mode. He prefers to reject the principle of electoral responsibility altogether. He does not deny the voter to be discharging a duty, for which he is accountable to conscience; on the contrary, a high sense of duty to the public is always present to the author’s mind. But he thinks that responsibility to public opinion will seldom operate with much force; that, when it does, it will as often operate on the wrong side as on the right; and that the voter is more likely to vote well if left to his personal promptings, uninfluenced by praise or blame from anyone. For, “if you place him by the Ballot quite beyond the reach of the improper control of other men, you leave to the elector no intelligible interest except that of the body of which he is a member—his interest as a citizen.” (P. 12.) It would hardly be fair to hold the author to this dictum, to which, we are sure, he could not, on consideration, adhere. Has no elector any private interest but what other people’s bribes or threats create for him? We will not take advantage, against the author, of his own exaggerations. We will give his argument a liberal construction. He means, and in many places says, that in the absence of other motives to an honest vote, we may safely rely on the voter’s interest as a citizen; his share of the public interest.
Now, we venture to say that this motive, in the common course of things, does not operate at all, or only in the slightest possible degree, on the mind either of an elector or of a member of Parliament. When he votes honestly, he is thinking of voting honestly, not of the fraction of a fraction of an interest which he, as an individual, may have in what is beneficial to the public. That minute benefit is not only too insignificant in amount, but too uncertain, too distant, and too hazy, to have any real effect on his mind. His motive, when it is an honourable one, is the desire to do right. We will not term it patriotism or moral principle, in order not to ascribe to the voter’s state of mind a solemnity that does not belong to it. But he votes for a particular man or measure because he thinks it the right thing to do, the proper thing for the good of the country. Once in a thousand times, as in a case of peace and war, or of taking off taxes, the thought may cross him that he shall save a few pounds or shillings in his year’s expenditure if the side he votes for prevails. But these cases are few, and, even in them, the interested motive is not the prevailing one. It is possible, indeed, that he or his class may have a private interest acting in the same direction with the public interest, as a man who has speculated for a fall in corn has an interest in a good harvest; and this may determine his conduct. But, in that case, it is the private interest that actuates him, not his share of the public interest.
Since, then, the real motive which induces a man to vote honestly is, for the most part, not an interested motive in any form, but a social one, the point to be decided is, whether the social feelings connected with an act, and the sense of social duty in performing it, can be expected to be as powerful when the act is done in secret, and he can neither be admired for disinterested, nor blamed for mean and selfish conduct. But this question is answered as soon as stated. When, in every other act of a man’s life which concerns his duties to others, publicity and criticism ordinarily improve his conduct, it cannot be that voting for a member of Parliament is the single case in which he will act better for being sheltered against all comment.
The author, indeed, says with truth, and it is his strongest point, that public opinion is itself one of the misleading influences. In the first place, the public opinion nearest to the voter may be that of his own class, and may side with, instead of counteracting, the class interest. Besides, the opinion of the general public has its aberrations, too, and its most violent action is apt to be its worst. “At periods of political excitement, the practical sense to an elector of the phrase, ‘Responsibility to public opinion,’ is too often this: Go up to that polling-booth and, at your peril, vote for any candidate but the popular candidate.” (P. 42.) Such cases of physical violence are not what we have here to consider. If voters are liable to be mobbed, and if the state of society, as at Rome in the time of Cicero, is so lawless that the public authorities cannot protect them, cadit quaestio the Ballot is indispensable; though, in that case, even the Ballot is a feeble protection. We are for leaving the voter open to the penalties of opinion, but not to those of brute force. The author overlooks what, under this limitation, is the most important feature of the case; he supposes that, if public opinion acts on the elector at all, it must act by dictating his vote. When it is violently exerted, it does so; but its more ordinary operation consists in making the voter more careful to act up to his own sincere opinion. It operates through the quiet comments of relatives, neighbours, and companions; noting instances of variance between professions and conduct, or in which a selfish private purpose or a personal grudge prevails over public duty. In countries used to free discussion, it is only in times of fierce public contention that a man is really disliked for voting in conformity to the opinion he is known to hold. If he is reproached even by opponents, it is for something paltry in the motive; and, if there is a paltry motive, it is generally no recondite one, but such as the opinion of those who know him can easily detect, and therefore may be able to restrain.
The author deems it a fallacy to distinguish between the election of members of a club and that of members of Parliament, on the ground that the voters in a club have no public duty. [Pp. 4-12.] They have a duty, he says, to the members of the club. This we altogether dispute. A club is a voluntary association, into which people enter for their individual pleasure, and are not accountable to one another. What is there wanted is, that each should declare by his vote what is agreeable to himself; whatever has then a majority is proved to be agreeable to the majority, and whoever dislikes it can leave the association. But if we were all born members of a club, and had no means, except emigration, of exchanging our club for any other, then, indeed, the voter would really be bound to consult the interests of the other members, the case would be assimilated to that of an election to Parliament, and the Ballot, accordingly, would be objectionable.
There is no room to follow the writer though all his arguments, but we cannot leave unnoticed the answer he makes to the objection that the Ballot would lead to lying. To this he replies, that lies are of very different degrees of criminality; that there are many greater moral delinquencies than “the lie of legitimate self-defence;” [p. 67] that a dishonest vote, given from a selfish motive, is worse; that such a vote ought to be called a falsehood; and that to think so rigorously of the mere breach of verbal truth, and so gently of a grave violation of public duty, is shallow and false morality. In all this we heartily concur; but the fact remains, that the majority of mankind do feel the lie an offence and a degradation, and do not so feel respecting the breach of public duty. We would gladly make them think a dishonest vote as bad as a lie, but it is to be feared we should only succeed in making them think a lie no worse than a dishonest vote. When people have only a few of the moral feelings they ought to have, there is the more danger in weakening those few. This is a truth which many moral saws in general circulation overlook. We are often told, for example, that an equivocation is as bad as a lie. It is well for mankind that everybody is not of this opinion, and that not all who will equivocate will lie. For the temptation to equivocate is often almost irresistible; indeed, the proposition, that everything which can be termed an equivocation is necessarily condemnable, is only true in those cases and those relations in life in which it is a duty to be absolutely open and unreserved. But to confine ourselves to what is really culpable: a person may be a habitual equivocator of a bad kind, he may have no scruple at all in implying what is not true, and yet, if when categorically questioned he shrinks from an express falsehood, this ultimate hold on him makes it still possible for his fellow-creatures to trust his word. Let no one underrate the importance of what mankind would gain if the precise literal meaning of men’s assertions could be kept conformable to fact. There may be much unworthy cunning and treachery notwithstanding, but the difference for all human purposes is immense between him who respects that final barrier and those who overleap it.
Did space permit, we might point out some cases in which the author, though habitually candid, yields to the temptation of caricaturing an opponent’s argument; as in charging a writer (pp. 31-2 and 48) with arguing as if all votes, given under the shelter of the Ballot, would be base or selfish, when the only thing asserted, or needed was that some would.1 But we prefer to quote a passage which tells strongly against the writer, and in favour of our own case:
A century ago, before the virtuous example of the first William Pitt had made it dishonourable in members of Parliament to hold their votes at the disposal of the dispensers of the public money, it might almost have been a question whether the incontestable advantages of publicity were not too dearly bought at the cost of that mass of political turpitude which it would have been possible, by means of the Ballot, to sweep from within the walls of Parliament.
If, at the time spoken of, our ancestors, to get rid of this mass of turpitude, had introduced the Ballot into the House of Commons, they would have done the exact parallel of what we should do if we adopted it in Parliamentary elections. And ought not the fact that all this profligacy has been got rid of without the Ballot to be a lesson to us for the other case? We see that the progress of the public conscience could and did, in the space of a single generation, correct political immoralities more gross and mischievous than those which now remain, and apparently harder to remove, because affecting the élite, socially speaking, of the nation. Such an example in times when the public conscience was much less alive, and its improvement far less rapid than now, ought to reassure us, to say the least, as to the necessity of the Ballot, and should deter us from putting on the badge of slavery at the very time when a few more steps and a very little additional effort will land us in complete freedom.
THE WESTMINSTER ELECTION 
For the background, see No. 412. William Henry Smith (1825-91), head of the well-known bookselling firm, a liberal-conservative, had since entered the race, and Sir John Villiers Shelley had retired; on 12 July Mill and Grosvenor were elected with votes of 4525 and 4534 respectively. Mill’s letter of thanks appeared in other papers on 22 July, including the Daily News. Headed “Westminster Election,” the letter (not listed in Mill’s bibliography) is introduced by this note: “The following letter from Mr. J.S. Mill, M.P., to the Liberal electors of Westminster, has been forwarded to us for publication:”. In the Daily News it is dated “Blackheath Park, July 21.” The text below is that of The Times, which has been collated with the Daily News, 22 July, 1865, p. 2; in the variant notes the text of the latter is signalled by “DN”.
The triumphant reassertion of the principle of purity of election in its largest sense, by the selection of a representative in Parliament on public grounds alone, against an unexampled combination of personal and pecuniary influences, is a lasting honour to Westminster and benefit to the popular cause. The victory is wholly yours, not mine, since I only appeared among you in the last stage of the contest to meet the desire expressed for a fuller explanation of my opinions. But the address just issued by the committee1 seems to demand that I should join with them in hearty and grateful acknowledgments to the Liberal electors generally, and especially to the great number who, by their strenuous and disinterested personal exertions, renewed the lesson so often forgotten, of the power of a high and generous purpose over bodies of citizens accustomed to free political action.
aElectors!a your work is done, and mine has now to be commenced. The unsought confidence which you have placed in me has laid on me an obligation which it would heavily tax powers far superior to mine adequately to fulfil. That I may not fall so far below your hopes as to make you regret your choice, will be my constant and earnest endeavour.
John Bright (who had been closely allied with Mill on many issues in the House of Commons) gave a speech to his constituents on 24 July, 1868, in which he predicted that the ballot, especially in the large constituencies, would be required “merely as a matter of election machinery.” He went on: “Even Mr. Stuart Mill, who had long objected to the ballot, was becoming a convert, and was of opinion that it might be tried in Ireland” (“Mr. Bright at Birmingham,” The Times, 25 July, p. 12). Mill’s response (not listed in his bibliography) is headed “Mr. Mill on the Ballot” with the subhead, “To the Editor of the Daily News,” and is dated “Blackheath-park, July 29.” It appeared also in the Beehive, 8 Aug., 1868, p. 7, without substantive variants.
As it would appear from the report of Mr. Bright’s eloquent speech at Birmingham that there exists some misapprehension concerning my present opinion on the ballot, I should be obliged by your permitting me to state that my opinion is as decidedly unfavourable to the ballot as it ever was; that I should see its adoption with regret in any part of the United Kingdom; that I spoke against it in a meeting of my constituents on the same evening on which Mr. Bright was speaking at Birmingham; and that I voted against its adoption in Ireland at the division on it this session.1 —I am, etc.,
GLADSTONE FOR GREENWICH
Gladstone having become unpopular in his constituency of South Lancashire because of his position on the Irish Church, he was put forward as a candidate for Greenwich without his solicitation, and in the event elected there, while losing his South Lancashire seat. The committee proposing him called a meeting at Deptford on 16 Sept., inviting Mill and others to speak. (See “Election Intelligence. Greenwich,” The Times, 17 Sept., p. 10.) As Mill explained in a letter to William Cox Bennett on 14 Sept., “Mr. Dickson, whom I understand to be the Secretary for Deptford, wrote to me during your absence, asking me either to attend or to write a letter; and as I was unable to attend, I sent him a letter for the purpose of being read at the meeting, the receipt of which he has acknowledged” (LL, CW, Vol. XVI, p. 1440). The letter, dated “Avignon, August 28,” and headed “Mr. John Stuart Mill and Mr. Gladstone,” is introduced by the following sentence: “The following is the text of the letter from Mr. John Stuart Mill, read at the meeting held at Deptford, on Wednesday evening, to support the election of Mr. Gladstone for the borough of Greenwich:”. A shortened version of the letter appeared also in the Daily News, 17 Sept., 1868, p. 3, under the heading “Election Intelligence / Greenwich.” The letter is not listed in Mill’s bibliography.
I am greatly honoured by your invitation to be present at your meeting for promoting the election of Mr. Gladstone for the borough of Greenwich, and should have been very happy to attend it had I been in England. The example which Greenwich is now setting is a valuable one, which we may hope to see more generally followed when the true importance of political action is more justly appreciated, and when politics arouse more of the interest that is justly due to them. The example of electing a public man, without any solicitation on his part, and without any consideration of whether he may also be elected elsewhere, as a tribute to his character, and as an expression of the strength of the feeling in his favour, is happily not new in our political history. It is too natural a thing to do, when people feel as warmly as they often ought to feel, and the unanswerable evidence of public confidence it gives in a great man too obviously must strengthen him and the cause he serves, for the example not to have been set on several occasions (in the cases of Mr. Cobden and Lord Brougham, among others),1 when political feeling was strong and the merits of the public man conspicuous. It would be much to be regretted if such examples as these were allowed to die out; and Greenwich is doing a public service by reviving them, by strengthening a statesman whose public services have aroused a bitterness which is the best tribute of their value, and by adding to his power to carry through some more of the many important reforms that must not be long retarded if England is to hold its honourable place among nations.—I am, &c.,
BOUVERIE VERSUS CHADWICK
For the election of 1868, Mill wished to find a seat for his friend Edwin Chadwick; by strongly endorsing him for the borough of Kilmarnock, he incurred the ire of Edward Pleydell Bouverie (1818-89), a Liberal hostile to Gladstone who had represented the borough since 1844. The Times of 16 Oct., 1868, p. 10, printed a letter of Bouverie’s to Mill complaining of Mill’s sowing dissension in the Liberal party, as well as Mill’s reply, and Bouverie’s further rejoinder (Mill’s reply is in LL, CW, Vol. XVI, pp. 1453-4). The paragraph printed here introduces another reply by Mill (ibid., pp. 1460-4), which is not listed in his bibliography. On the envelope of the MS draft of that reply at Johns Hopkins is written in Mill’s hand “For publication as chiefly Helen’s” (i.e., his step-daughter Helen Taylor’s). The letter is headed “Mr. Mill and Mr. Bouverie,” with the subhead, “To the Editor of The Times,” and is dated “Avignon, Oct. 19.” On the same day the letter appeared in the Daily News (p. 5) under the heading “Mr. Mill on the Character of Liberal Candidates. / To the Editor of the Daily News.”
Mr. Bouverie having forwarded to you a correspondence between us, and his last letter having appeared in The Times before I had received it, I take the liberty of asking permission to reply to it through The Times.—I am, &c.,
NEW ENGLAND WOMAN’S SUFFRAGE ASSOCIATION
This letter was addressed to Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), reformer and author, the President of the New England Woman’s Suffrage Association, founded in Boston in 1868 chiefly by Lucy Stone (1818-93) and including prominent reformers such as Wendell Phillips. The association, having been unsuccessful in enfranchising women along with negroes in the 15th amendment to the Constitution, was now working for a 16th. The letter, dated “Avignon, April 18, 1869,” is not listed in Mill’s bibliography. It appeared, under the heading “Woman Suffrage / Letter from J. Stuart Mill—the XVIth Constitutional Amendment,” as part of an account beginning, “Boston, May 26. A Public meeting, which was largely attended, was held by the New-England Woman’s Suffrage Association, in Horticultural Hall, today, Julia Ward Howe presiding. Prayer was offered by the Rev. Mrs. P.N. Hannaford. Letters, sympathizing with the movement, were received from Robert Collyer, Anna Dickinson, J. Stuart Mill, George William Curtis, Mrs. E.D. Cheeny, and the Hon. George T. Hoar. The following is the letter of Mr. Mill:”.
I am very much honored by the wish of the New-England Woman’s Suffrage Association that I should be present at their annual meeting, but they have been misinformed as to my having any present intention of visiting America. Should I ever contemplate such a visit, there are no persons on your side of the Atlantic with whom it would give me more pleasure to exchange marks of sympathy than with those who are working so energetically for a cause so dear to me as that of the equal claim of all human beings, independent of sex, to the full rights of citizenship, and freedom of competition, on equal terms, for all social advantages.
I am, etc., very sincerely yours,
THE CASE OF WILLIAM SMITH
William Smith, police constable, had been tried and punished for striking an Irish labourer and felt-maker, Patrick Macgovern, in the course of stopping Macgovern’s assault on his wife Eliza. The case was reported in “The Police Courts. Thames,” Daily News, 25 Dec., 1869, p. 2, from which Mill quotes. For Mill’s efforts to interest the Attorney-General, Sir Robert Porrett Collier, and the editor of the Daily News, Frank Harrison Hill, in Smith’s reinstatement, see LL, CW, Vol. XVII, pp. 1677-9, and 1705-6. A long leader appeared in the Daily News, 18 Jan., 1870, pp. 4-5; one may assume that a fair copy of this unsigned draft (MS, Yale) was sent to the Daily News (which did not print it) as part of Mill’s unsuccessful campaign. The letter, being unpublished, is not in Mill’s bibliography.
I beg you to receive the inclosed £5 as the commencement of a subscription for the benefit of the police constable William Smith, No. 151 K, who as I learn from your paper of Dec. 25 has been sentenced by Mr. Benson, the Thames Police magistrate,1 to a month’s imprisonment and hard labour for striking with his staff a man who had only knocked down his own wife in the street.
“The assault,” said Mr. Benson, meaning not the man’s assault upon his wife but the constable’s assault upon the man, “was unprovoked, brutal, and unjustifiable” and it has gone forth from the seat of justice to the whole brutal part of the population, that for a man to knock down a woman, provided that woman is his wife, is no “provocation” and that a month’s penal servitude is a proper penalty, not for the ruffian himself but for the appointed guardian of the public peace who interferes with his authorized brutality.
For my own part, it seems to me that the policeman who thinks that men’s wives are within the pale of legal protection and who, astonishing as the idea was to the man himself and to the magistrate, thinks it his duty not to look on passively and see them maltreated, deserves a signal mark of public approbation, which cannot in this instance take a better shape than that of a subscription to compensate him for the suffering and degradation as well as the pecuniary loss inflicted on him by this iniquitous sentence.
THE EDUCATION BILL
At a National Education League meeting, held Friday, 25 Mar., 1870, chaired by Sir Charles Dilke, Mill was the principal speaker (The Times, 26 Mar., p. 5). The meeting was called to protest the power given to School Boards to found denominational schools at public expense, in the Government’s “Bill to Provide for Public Elementary Education in England and Wales,” 33 Victoria (17 Feb., 1870), PP, 1870, I, 505-42. (In the event, when the Bill became law as 33 & 34 Victoria, c. 75, the powers of the denominations were much curtailed.) The Spectator commented on the issues and Mill’s views in “The Secularists in Full Cry,” 2 Apr., pp. 425-6, from which the quotations are taken. Mill’s letter, not listed in his bibliography, is in the “Letters to the Editor” column, headed “Mr. J.S. Mill and the Education Bill,” with the subhead, “To the Editor of the ‘Spectator.’ ”
Having full belief in your not intending to misrepresent, though (if you will allow me to say so) not equal confidence in the carefulness and accuracy of all your representations, I do not doubt that you will permit me to correct a serious misstatement which pervades the whole of your last Saturday’s comments on the Education meeting at St. James’s Hall. The writer affirms again and again, with sundry uncomplimentary remarks on the inconsistencies and other irrationalities therein implied, that in my speech at that meeting I advocated and asked for the system of the British Schools,1 which he describes as the merely formal reading of a portion of the Bible “as a kind of grace before meat to secular lessons.” I challenge your writer to point out a single word of my speech which either expresses or implies approval of the “British system,” or of the employment of the Bible in rate-supported schools at all. I referred to the British system only as a proof that the Dissenters do not desire their distinctive doctrines to be taught in schools, and would consequently derive no advantage from the fund which the Bill gives them, where they are the stronger party,2 of practising this injustice to the detriment of the Established Church.
For myself, though I regard the British system as greatly preferable to the merely denominational, yet, on any other footing than as the less of two evils, I decidedly object to it, as unjust to Catholics, Jews, and the Secularists, and for other reasons.
I am, Sir, &c.,
THE TREATY OF 1856 
On 31 Oct., 1870, the Russian government issued a declaration repudiating the neutralization of the Black Sea required by the Treaty of Paris of 1856. The declaration, sent by Prince Gortschakoff to Baron Bunnow, was communicated to Earl Granville on 9 Nov. (see “The Treaty of 1856: Prince Gortschakoff’s Note,” The Times, 18 Nov., p. 3). The action caused a war scare in England. Mill sent this letter to The Times through Leonard Courtney (see LL, CW, Vol. XVII, p. 1775), who was a leader writer for The Times, and may have been responsible for leading articles on 16, 17, and 19 November professing the attitudes to which Mill was objecting. In her continuation of Mill’s Autobiography, Helen Taylor says this and the following letter (No. 422) “were called forth by a cry, that arose at that time in a portion of the English press, for plunging England into a war with Russia. They were the first protest that appeared in any well known name against such a war; they called forth others and helped calm down the warlike excitement that was being aroused.” (CW, Vol. I, p. 626.) Mill’s “Treaty Obligations” in December took up the same issues (CW, Vol. XXI, pp. 341-8), as does No. 423. This letter, headed “Mr. Mill on the Treaty of 1856,” with the subhead, “To the Editor of The Times,” is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A letter in the Times of Nov. 19, 1870 on the threatened war with Russia”
(MacMinn, p. 99).
Without wishing, at least for the present, to discuss the character of the declaration just made by the Russian Government—a discussion which would raise questions, both moral and political, more intricate and difficult than people seem to be aware of—may I hope from your impartiality that you will allow expression to be given through your columns to the opinion of at least one Englishman, which he believes to be shared by multitudes of his countrymen, that for England to let herself be drawn into war by this provocation or on this account would be nothing less than monstrous.
This is not the doctrine of a partisan of peace at any price. Had we, at the first breaking out of the present hateful war,1 declared that whichever nation first invaded the territory of the other should have England also for its foe, we should, at an extremely small risk to ourselves, in all human probability have prevented the war, and perhaps given commencement to a new era in the settlement of international differences. To effect this great good to humanity and to public morals, we did not choose to incur a mere chance of being involved in a war, and in my opinion we were wrong, and have exposed ourselves to the just recriminations of the suffering people—I do not speak of the governments—of Germany and France. Were we now to plunge into a war infinitely more dangerous to ourselves, and for which we are materially speaking totally unprepared, those among us who are the causes of our so doing will, in my judgment, deserve and receive the execration of the people of England.
The honour of England is not concerned either in the protection of Turkey or in the humiliation of Russia. Treaties are not made to be eternal, and before we go to war for the maintenance of one it behoves the nation at least to consider whether it would enter into it afresh at the present day.2 We should have learnt little, indeed, from the spectacle that has been going on before our eyes during the last four months if we allow our journalists to hurry us into a war under the plea of honour, merely because of the manner or the form in which Russia has thought fit to throw off an obligation the substance of which we all admit we ought to be ready to reconsider.
I am, &c.,
THE TREATY OF 1856 
Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, criticized the views of Mill expressed in No. 421, in a letter headed “Lord Shaftesbury on the Russian Note,” The Times, 22 Nov., p. 3, from which Mill quotes in this reply, headed “The Treaty of 1856,” with the subhead, “To the Editor of The Times.” It is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A further letter on the same subject [as No. 421] in the Times of Nov. 24, 1870”
(MacMinn, p. 99).
The letter in which Lord Shaftesbury, in your paper of Tuesday, the 22d, animadverted upon a letter of mine which you did me the favour to insert, deserves so much respect for its manifestly conscientious feeling, and states the question, besides, so neatly and compactly, that I must address myself to your courtesy for an opportunity of, if possible, setting myself right with him.
The opinion which I maintain concerning treaties is very remote indeed from that which Lord Shaftesbury ascribes to me. He understands me to have said that a country is not bound “to observe” the terms of a treaty “unless they be so convenient that the country would be ready to enter on them afresh.” What I did say is, that a country is not bound to enforce the observance of terms which it has imposed on others, “until it has considered whether it would impose them afresh at the present day.”1 And if it not only would not, but, according to its present judgment, ought not to impose them afresh, it is not merely not bound to go to war for their enforcement, but would commit a great crime if it did so.
There is a wide difference between affirming that I may break a promise, as soon as it is inconvenient to me to keep it, and maintaining that if another person breaks a promise made to me I am not necessarily bound to shed his blood. I cannot believe that Lord Shaftesbury, with the two doctrines before him, will hold the latter to be “one in principle” with the former.
Let the people of England, then, deliberately consider whether a stipulation denying to a country the legitimate liberty possessed by all other countries, of maintaining military and naval defences on its own coast, is one which they think they have a right permanently to impose. If not, then in however objectionable a manner the claim may be disputed we shall be criminal if we go to war to enforce it.
Having now, as I hope, cleared myself from the very serious charge brough against me by Lord Shaftesbury, allow me to make one more remark.
Treaties are the promises of nations; and in the breach of a treaty, as in that of a private promise, there are all degrees of guilt, from some of the gravest to some of the most venial. The degree of Russia’s guilt in this particular repudiation of treaty is not to be decided off hand. I have no desire to extenuate it, but it is not pertinent to the question. It is sufficient that treaties and other engagements will be broken if they are imposed without limit as to duration. An individual, however, has no power of promising anything beyond the duration of his mortal life; but nations have the wild folly to make, and to exact, engagements for all time. Mankind, happily, are now beginning to find out that anything whatever to which a nation attempts to bind either itself or others in perpetuity, be it a Constitution, a dynasty, an irrevocable law, a particular disposition of public or private property, or whatever else, will assuredly, at some time or other, require to be, and will actually be, shaken off by those to whom it is injurious. The present generation has had sufficiently convincing experience that to this rule treaties are no exception. Lord Shaftesbury warns England, if the Russian doctrine be admitted, to “take good care never to contract another” treaty. The warning I would give is, if we wish to be able successfully to combat the Russian doctrine, to make no more treaties except for terms of years.
I am, &c.,
DE LAVELEYE ON THE EASTERN QUESTION
Seeking support for the views expressed in Nos. 421 and 422, Mill sent this letter to The Times as a cover for one from Emile Louis Victor, baron de Laveleye (1822-92), a Belgian political economist for whom he had a high regard. The letter, headed “M. de Laveleye on the Eastern Question,” with the subhead, “To the Editor of The Times,” is not listed in Mill’s bibliography.
I shall be obliged if you will give a place in The Times to the accompanying extract from a private letter written by M. Emile de Laveleye, and showing in what light the war which we are urged to undertake is regarded by one of the most enlightened public writers of the Continent, from the impartial position of a Belgian citizen.
I am, &c.,
THE SOCIETY OF ARTS
In the Daily News of 25 Mar., p. 5, the following notice appeared: “Mr. John Stuart Mill is expected to take the chair, next Wednesday, at the Society of Arts, when Miss Emily Faithfull will read a paper on ‘Women’s work, with special reference to industrial employment.’ ” Faithfull (1835-95) was the founder of the Victoria Press, which employed women compositors and printed, among other things, the Transactions of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science. The address she delivered at the meeting on 29 Mar. was printed as “Woman’s Work, with Special Reference to Industrial Employment,” Journal of the Society of Arts, XIX (31 Mar., 1871), 378-83. Mill’s letter (not in his bibliography), is dated only from “Blackheath-park, Kent,” and headed “Mr. Mill and the Society of Arts,” with the subhead, “To the Editor of the Daily News.” A copy also appeared under the heading “The Penalties of Celebrity,” in The Times, 27 Mar., p. 12. The text below is that of the Daily News, which has been collated with that in The Times; in the variant notes the latter is signalled by “TT”.
The assertion which appeared in ayour papera of Saturday, bMarch 25b , that I am expected to take the chair at a meeting of the Society of Arts next Wednesday is without any foundation. I have no intention of being present at the meeting at all. I am glad to take this opportunity of protesting against a habit which is growing up, of making those misleading statements through the medium of the public press or otherwise. It has gained ground to such a degree as to have become a nuisance to almost every man whose name is well known; placing him under the alternative of making public contradictions of such statements, or of allowing his name to be used for the purpose of exciting false expectations. I shall be obliged by your giving publicity to this, and remain, sir,
your obedient servant,
ADVICE TO LAND REFORMERS
In 1869 Mill was Chairman of the Provisional Committee to establish the Land Tenure Reform Association, and was responsible in large measure for its proposals, published as Programme of the Land Tenure Reform Association, with an Explanatory Statement by John Stuart Mill (London: Longmans, et al., 1871); in CW, Vol. V, pp. 687-95. The work of the Association, along with the women’s suffrage movement, absorbed most of his energy in his last years, and it is appropriate that his last three newspaper writings should be on land tenure, and that they should appear in the Examiner, where the bulk of his journalism appeared. Helen Taylor’s continuation of Mill’s Autobiography concludes: “In the autumn and winter [of 1872] he wrote . . . two articles for the Examiner (published January 4th and 11th, 1873) on Land Reform” (CW, Vol. I, p. 627). In a letter to Cairnes of 8 Jan., 1873, after welcoming Cairnes’ agreement with him on the question of the land held by endowed institutions, Mill remarks that he and his daughter are occasionally sending articles to the Examiner now, hoping to help build it up once more as “an organ of opinion allied to our own” (LL, CW, Vol. XVII, p. 1933).
This article, in the “Political and Social” section, is headed as title, and is described in his bibliography as “An article headed ‘Advice to Land Reformers’ in the Examiner of 4 January 1873” (MacMinn, p. 101). The article was combined by Helen Taylor with No. 426 and printed in the posthumous fourth volume of Dissertations and Discussions (London: Longman, et al., 1875), under the title “Advice to Land Reformers,” pp. 266-77 (in which this article ends at p. 272.31).
now, when the question of the constitution and limits of property in land has fairly come to the front, and a majority of Liberal politicians find it needful to include in their programme some improvement in the existing arrangements on that subject, it is time to consider which among the minor modifications that alone find favour with the more timid or more cautious innovators deserve to be supported by those who desire greater changes, and which are those that should be opposed, either as giving a renewed sanction to wrong principles, or as raising up new private interests hostile to a thorough reform. There are at present two proposals affecting property in land which engage a considerable and increasing amount of public attention: one, the abrogation of the right of primogeniture, and the abolition or great restriction of the power of making settlements of land;1 the other, that corporations and endowed institutions should be required to sell their lands, and invest the proceeds in the funds or other public securities.2 The difference between these two projects affords an illustration of the principles which, we think, should guide the judgment of land tenure reformers in matters of this nature. The former of the two is, in our opinion, entitled to their full support; the latter should be strenuously resisted by them.
Before proceeding farther, it is right to explain whom we mean by land tenure reformers. On so new a question there are naturally many shades of opinion. There are some with whose plans we agree, others from whom we differ; we address ourselves equally to both. There are those who aim at what is called the nationalisation of the land; the substitution of collective for individual property in the soil, with reasonable compensation to the landowners. Their doctrine is far from being so irrational as is pretended; they have much to say for themselves. Nor is theirs a wholly untried theory. It has the feudal traditions, and the general practice of the East, on its side. Nevertheless, for reasons which we shall have many opportunities of stating, we are decidedly of opinion that, whatever may possibly be the case in a distant future, this scheme is altogether unsuited to the present time. But, short of this, there are modifications of the rights of landed property of a more or less fundamental character, which have already numerous supporters, and are likely, as we believe, before long to become widely popular. There is the principle asserted by the Land Tenure Reform Association; that, inasmuch as land in a prosperous country brings in a constantly increasing income to its owner, apart from any exertion or expenditure on his part, it may and ought to be subjected to special taxation in virtue of that increase.3 Again, it is maintained that, inasmuch as the acknowledged end for which land is allowed to be appropriated, is that it may be made more productive, the right of property ought not to extend to that which remains unproductive: and that if large tracts of land are kept in a wild state by their owners, either for purposes of amusement, or because they cannot be let at a rent (though they might amply remunerate a labourer cultivating for himself) the State should resume them, paying only their present value.4 Again, there might be a limit set to the extent of territory which could be held by a single proprietor.5 Many other changes might be proposed, more or less extensive, more or less expedient, but all compatible with the maintenance of the institution of landed property in its broad outlines. Now, the reforms which are proposed on the subject of primogeniture, and of entails and settlements, are of a different character. Instead of limiting, they would increase the power over the land of the existing generation of landowners; and accordingly, the supporters of more drastic changes are much divided as to whether these particular measures ought or ought not to be supported.
Among the reasons for getting rid of the law of primogeniture and the existing laws of entail and settlement, the one which we oftenest hear, and which carries most weight with many of the assailants of those laws, is that by keeping land out of the market they detain it in too few hands, and that their abolition would increase the number of landed proprietors. The long and obstinate prejudice which existed against peasant properties, grounded on the densest ignorance of their actual operation in the countries where they prevail, has given way before more correct information. Those who fancied that peasant proprietors must be wretched cultivators because cottier tenants are so, have learnt that some of the best agriculture in the world is to be found where such properties abound: those who thought that peasant proprietorship breeds over-population, and converts a country into a “pauper-warren,”6 now know that its tendency is rather towards the other extreme. Within a few years, therefore, the existence of peasant properties has come to be regarded by English philanthropists as eminently desirable, and the removal of all obstacles to it has become an aim of advanced politicians; and primogeniture and entail being such obstacles, their abolition is advocated on that ground. But it has come to pass that the same thing which recommends this measure to one class of land reformers, renders another class worse than indifferent to it. Multiplication of proprietors is not the kind of reform which finds favour with a large section of the more thoroughgoing land reformers. Many of them believe that an addition to the number of private owners of land is but an addition to the number of the enemies of the larger changes which they meditate. They think, and in this they are not mistaken, that the wide diffusion of landed property in some Continental countries, and especially in France, is in these countries the great obstacle to any improvement in the conditions of ownership: and they look with no good will on anything which tends, in ever so small a degree, to approximate, in this respect, the British state of things to the French.
We agree, to a considerable extent, with the general views on which this judgment is grounded; but we do not think that the question of abolishing primogeniture and entail is a case for their application. Whether the creation of a class of peasant-proprietors would be a good thing or a bad, we are of opinion that the reforms in question would not have that effect; while they would produce benefits which, even from the exclusive point of view of the land-reformers, might well outweigh some amount of the inconvenience they apprehend.
To what extent these measures would practically operate in causing land to be brought into the market, it is very difficult at present to foresee; but there is no probability that, of such as might be sold, much would come into the hands of small proprietors. As long as the private wealth of the country and its social condition are what they are, the rich will always outbid the poor in the land market. We are speaking, of course, of rural land, of which alone the possession is an object of desire to the wealthy classes. Land in towns, or so close to them as to be available for streets, might often obtain a higher price in small lots; such lots as would enable prudent and economical working people to become the owners of the houses they live in; which we hold to be an unqualified good: nor is it likely that even the most extreme plans of land reform would disturb such persons in the possession. The land of the country at large outside the towns might possibly come to be shared among a greater number of rich families than at present; but sales by the rich to the rich do not really add to the number of those whose interests and feelings are engaged on the side of landlordism; for the rich who wish to be landlords are already as much wedded to landlord privileges as they would be when they actually became so. Reformers, therefore, either moderate or extreme, need have no fear that the facilitation of the sale of land already appropriated should raise up additional obstacles to their projects.
On the other hand, the measures in question would be attended with no small amount of positive benefit. In the first place, whatever transfers of landed property might really be occasioned by these changes would be in the direction of agricultural improvement. True it is that, according to the present ideas of landed property, landlords are neither required nor expected to do anything for the land; but some landlords are more disposed to do so than others; and the purchasers are almost always a more improving class of landowners than those from whom they purchase. It is the capitalist and man of business who buys; it is the needy and the spendthrift who sell. The whole tendency is thus to improve the cultivation and increase the produce of the country. But there is a still greater benefit than this, and one which is often not sufficiently appreciated. The principle of the laws of primogeniture and entail is radically wrong; and to get rid of a bad principle, and put a better in its place, is equivalent to a very considerable amount of practical gain. The preference of one child above all the rest, without any superiority of personal claims, is an injustice. The power given to an owner of property to exercise control over it after it has passed into the hands of those to whom it devolves on his death, is, as a rule (with certain obvious exceptions), both an injustice and an absurdity. Moreover, the end for which these institutions are kept up ought to be their sufficient condemnation in the eyes of advanced reformers. The purpose of their existence is to retain the land, not only in the families which now possess it, but in a certain line of succession within those families, from eldest son to eldest son. They are a contrivance for maintaining an aristocratical order in unimpaired territorial wealth from generation to generation, in spite of the faults which its existing members may commit, and at the sacrifice both of justice between the heir and the other children, and of the interest which all the existing members of the family may have in selling the land. The aristocratic spirit, more powerful than the personal interest of each living member of the body, postpones the private wishes of the existing generation to the interest of the order in maintaining an aristocratic monopoly of the land. The possession of the land is the centre round which aristocratic feeling revolves; and the removal of the two props of the monopoly, though its immediate practical effect would probably be small, should be welcome to all who wish to dissolve the connection between landed property and aristocratic institutions.
We think, then, that all land reformers, whatever may be their ulterior views, should unite in supporting the abrogation of the law of primogeniture and the reform of the law of settlement. We must reserve for another article our reasons for thinking quite otherwise of the proposal recently broached (and which has derived importance from the strong advocacy of the Times and from the interpretation put upon a speech of Mr. Goschen) for requiring all corporate bodies and endowed institutions to part with their lands by sale to private individuals.7
SHOULD PUBLIC BODIES BE REQUIRED TO SELL THEIR LANDS?
For the background of Goschen’s proposal and The Times’ support, and for the article’s appearance in Dissertations and Discussions, Vol. IV, pp. 272-7, see No. 425. This leader, in the “Political and Social” section and headed as title, is described in Mill’s bibliography as “An article headed ‘Should public bodies be required to sell their lands?’ in the Examiner of 11th January 1873” (MacMinn, p. 101). This is the final entry in Mill’s bibliography.
a considerable sensation seems to have been excited by the quite unexpected appearance a few weeks ago, in the Times, of two articles strenuously contending that corporate bodies and endowed institutions should no longer be permitted to withhold land from the market, and that the principle of the Mortmain Acts1 should be so far extended as to compel all such bodies or institutions to sell their lands and invest the proceeds in Government securities. The coincidence of this manifestation by the Times with a speech of Mr. Goschen, some expressions in which were supposed to point to a similar conclusion, has led to a suspicion that the Government is throwing out feelers preparatory to some actual proposal of the kind suggested. And the papers that are bitterly hostile to the present Government, whenever its political and social policy is other than that of keeping things as they are, have not missed the opportunity of upbraiding the Government with making an unworthy concession to the land tenure reformers, who are represented as grasping at the opportunity of attacking landed property at its most easily assailable point.2
It is an odd supposition that reformers who are asserted to have, and some of whom really have, for their object the extinguishing of private and hereditary landed property altogether, desire to begin their operations by making a great mass of landed property private and hereditary which was not so before. Nothing could be more opposed to the principles and purposes of thorough-going land tenure reformers of every shade of opinion, than any further conversion of what is still, in some sense, a kind of public property, into private. The point on which they are all agreed, whether they desire anything further or not, is that, at all events, the appropriation of the land of the country by private individuals and families has gone far enough; and that a determined resistance should be made to any further extension of it, either by the stealing, euphemistically termed the inclosure, of commons, or by the alienation of lands held upon trust for public or semi-public objects. Far from allowing any land which is not already private property to become so, the most moderate of these land reformers think that it may possibly be expedient, in districts where land not already appropriated does not abound, to redeem some part of that which is in private hands, by repurchasing it on account of the State.
Those countries are fortunate, or would be fortunate if decently governed, in which, as in a great part of the East, the land has not been allowed to become the permanent property of individuals, and the State consequently is the sole landlord. So far as the public expenditure is covered by the proceeds of the land, those countries are untaxed; for it is the same thing as being untaxed, to pay to the State only what would have to be paid to private landlords if the land were appropriated. The principle that the land belongs to the Sovereign, and that the expenses of government should be defrayed by it, is recognised in the theory of our own ancient institutions. The nearest thing to an absolute proprietor whom our laws know of is the freeholder, who is a tenant of the Crown; bound originally to personal service, in the field or at the plough, and, when that obligation was remitted, subject to a land tax intended to be equivalent to it. The first claim of the State has been foregone; the second has for two centuries been successfully evaded:3 but the original wrongdoers have been so long in their graves, and so much of the land has come into the hands of new possessors, who have bought it with their earnings at a price calculated on the unjust exemption, that the resumption of the land without indemnity would be correcting one injustice by another, while, if weighted with due compensation, it would be a measure of very doubtful profit to the State. But, though the State cannot replace itself in the fortunate condition in which it would now have been if it had reserved to itself from the beginning the whole rent of the land, this is no reason why it should go on committing the same mistake, and deprive itself of that natural increase of the rent which the possessors derive from the mere progress of wealth and population, without any exertion or sacrifice of their own. If the Grosvenor, Portman, and Portland estates belonged to the municipality of London, the gigantic incomes of those estates would probably suffice for the whole expense of the local government of the capital.4 But these gigantic incomes are still swelling; by the growth of London they may again be doubled, in as short a time as they have doubled already: and what have the possessors done, that this increase of wealth, produced by other people’s labour and enterprise, should fall into their mouths as they sleep, instead of being applied to the public necessities of those who created it? It is maintained, therefore, by land reformers, that special taxation may justly be levied upon landed property, up to, though not exceeding, this unearned increase; excess being guarded against by leaving the possessors free to cede their land to the State at the price they could sell it for at the time when the tax is imposed, but no higher price to be claimable on account of any increase of value afterwards, unless proved to have been the effect of improvements made at the landlord’s expense.5 Now, if the nation would be justified in thus reasserting its claim to the unearned increase of value, even when it has allowed the legal right to that increase to pass into the hands of individuals; how much more ought it to prevent further legal rights of this description from being acquired by those who do not now possess them? The landed estates of public bodies are not family property; the interest that any individual has in them is never more than a life interest, often much less; the increase of value by lapse of time would go to enrich nobody knows whom, and its appropriation by the State would give no one the shadow of a moral title to compensation. But if these lands are sold to individuals, they become hereditary, and can only be repurchased by the State at their full value as a perpetuity.
Neither would this compulsory sale be attended with any of the advantages in the form of increased production, which would result from facilitating the voluntary sale of land by individual to individual. As long as, by the theory and practice of landed proprietorship, the landlord of an estate is a mere sinecurist quartered on it, improvement by the landlord is an accident dependent on his personal tastes. But he who sells his land, voluntarily or from necessity, is almost always below the average of landlords in disposition and ability to improve; the tendency of the change of proprietors is, therefore, in favour of improvement. But there is no reason to think that public bodies in general are worse than average landlords in any particular; it is matter of common remark that they are less grasping: and, if they do not come up to the most enterprising landlords in what they themselves accomplish, they leave more power of improvement, and more encouragement to it, to their tenants, than the majority of private landlords. It would, therefore, be no gain, but all loss, to reinforce the enemies of the reform of landed tenure by the addition of a new class of wealthy hereditary landholders, quartered upon land which is as yet devoted more or less faithfully to public uses. If public bodies are required to part with their lands, they should part with them to the State, and to that alone.
Whether it is desirable that such bodies should be holders of lands; whether it is wise that their time and attention should be divided between their appointed duties, certain to be enforced with increasing strictness as improvement goes on, and the management of a tenantry, with the duties which, if private property in land continues to exist, are sure to be more and more attached to it,—is a question of the future, which it may be left to the future to decide. We do not think it can be properly decided, until the fermentation now going on in the public mind respecting the constitution of landed property, has subsided into a definite conviction respecting the end to be aimed at and the means of practically drawing nearer to that end. But the time has come for announcing with the utmost decision, and we hope to see land reformers uniting as one body in the demand, that no private appropriation of land, not yet private property, shall hereafter take place under any circumstances or on any pretext.
THE RIGHT OF PROPERTY IN LAND
This is the last of three articles on land reform (see Nos. 425-6). Not listed in Mill’s bibliography, it appeared posthumously, headed as title, in the “Political and Social” section of the Examiner, Mill having died in Avignon on 7 May, 1873. A footnote to the title reads: “We regret that, owing to unexpected delays, it has not been possible to compare the following paper with the original manuscript of Mr. Mill. This paper was written for the Land Tenure Reform Association.—Ed. Ex.” It appeared as a pamphlet, The Right of Property in Land. Reprinted from the Examiner of July 19, 1873 (London: Dallow, ), and, edited by Helen Taylor, in Dissertations and Discussions, Vol. IV, pp. 288-302. A version printed from the MS (now lost) appeared as Appendix B in The Letters of John Stuart Mill, ed. Hugh S.R. Elliot, 2 vols. (London: Longmans, Green, 1910), Vol. II, pp. 387-95. The text below is that of the Examiner, which has been collated with those of the pamphlet, Dissertations and Discussions, and Elliot. In the variant notes, “E” signals Elliot’s version, and “P” signals the pamphlet and Dissertations and Discussions (which agree in substantives).
rights of property are of several kinds. There is the property which a person has in things that he himself has made. There is property in what one has received as a recompense for making something for somebody else, or for doing any service to somebody else, among which services must be reckoned that of lending to him what one has made, or honestly come by. There is property in what has been freely given to one, during life or at death, by the person who made it or honestly came by it, whatever may have been the motive of the gift,—personal affection, or because one had some just claim on him, or because he thought one would use it well, or as he would a wish it to be used. All these are rights to things which are the produce of labour; and they all resolve themselves into the right of every person to do as he pleases with his own labour, and with the produce or earnings of his labour, either by applying them to his own use, or exchanging them for other things, or bestowing them upon other persons at his own choice.
But there is another kind of property which does not come under any of these descriptions, nor depend upon this principle. This is the ownership which persons are allowed to exercise over things not made by themselves, nor made at all. Such is property in land; including in that term what is under the surface as well as what is upon it. This kind of property, if legitimate, must rest on some other justification than the right of the labourer to what he has created by his labour. The land is not of man’s creation; and for a person to appropriate to himself a mere gift of nature, not made to him in particular, but which belonged as much to all others until he took possession of it, is primâ facie an injustice to all the rest. Even if he did not obtain it by usurpation, but by just distribution; even if, at the first foundation of a settlement, the land was equitably parcelled out among all the settlers (which has sometimes been the case), there is an apparent wrong to posterity, or at least to all those subsequently born who do not inherit a share. To make such an institution just, it must be shown to be conducive btob the general interest, in which this disinherited portion of the community has its part.
The general verdict of civilised nations chasc hitherto been that this justification does exist. The private appropriation of land has been deemed to be beneficial to those who do not, as well as to those who do, obtain a share. And in what manner beneficial? Let us take particular note of this. Beneficial, because the strongest interest which the community and the human race have in the land is that it should yield the largest amount of food, and other necessary dord useful things required by the community. Now, though the land itself it not the work of human beings, its produce is; and to obtain enough of that produce somebody must exert much labour, and, in order that this labour may be supported, must expend a considerable amount of the savings of previous labour. Now we have been taught by experience that the great majority of mankind will work much harder, and make much greater pecuniary sacrifices for themselves and their immediate descendants than for the public. In order, therefore, to give the greatest encouragement to production, it has been thought right that individuals should have an exclusive property in land, so that they may have the most possible to gain by making the land as productive as they can, and may be in no danger of being hindered from doing so by the interference of eany onee else. This is the reason usually assigned for allowing fthef land to be private property, and it is the best reason that can be given.
Now, when we know the reason of a thing, we know what ought to be its limits. The limits of the reason ought to be the limits of the thing. The thing itself should stop where the reason stops. The land not having been made by the owner, nor by any one to whose rights he has succeeded, and the justification of private ownership ging land being the interest it gives to the owner in the good cultivation of the land, the rights of the owner ought not to be stretched hfartherh than this purpose requires. No rights to the land should be recognised which do not act as a motive to the person who has power over it, to make it as productive, or otherwise as useful to mankind, as possible. Anything beyond this exceeds the reason of the case, and is an injustice to the remainder of the community.
It cannot be said that landed property, as it exists in the United Kingdom, conforms to this condition. The legal rights of the landlord much exceed what is necessary to afford a motive to improvement. They do worse; they tend, in many ways, to obstruct, and do really obstruct, improvement.
For one thing, the landlord has the right, which he often exercises, of keeping the land not only unimproved, but uncultivated, in order to maintain an inordinate quantity of wild animals for what he calls sport. This right, at all events, cannot be defended as a means of promoting improvement.
Again, if the purpose in allowing private ownership of the land were to provide the strongest possible motive to its good cultivation, the ownership would be vested in the actual cultivator. But in England almost all the land of the country is cultivated by tenant-farmers, who not only are not the proprietors, but, in the majority of cases, have not even a lease, but may be dispossessed at six months’ notice. If those lands are well cultivated, it cannot be in consequence of the rights of the landlord. If those rights have any effect iat all on cultivation,i it must be to make it bad, not good. If farmers with such a tenure cultivate well, it is a proof that property in land is not necessary for good cultivation.
Butj, it will be saidj , if the mere cultivation can be, and is, satisfactorily carried on by tenants-at-will, it is not so with the great and costly improvements which have converted so much barren land into fertile. The returns to kthosek improvements are slow; and a temporary holder, even if he has the lnecessaryl capital, will not make them. They can seldom be made, and, in point of fact, seldom are made, by any one but the proprietor. And, as a certain number of landed proprietors do make such improvements, the institution of property in land is thought to be sufficiently vindicated.
Giving all the weight to this consideration which it is entitled to, the claim it gives to the landlord is not to all the possible proceeds of the land, but to such mpartsm of them only as are the result of his own improvements, or ofn improvements made by predecessors in whose place he stands. Whatever portion of them is due, not to his labour or outlay, but to the labour and outlay of other people, should belong to those other people. If the tenant has added anything to the value of the land beyond the duration of his tenancy, the landlord should be bound to purchase the improvement, whether permanent or temporary, at its full value. If the nation at large, by their successful exertions to increase the wealth of the country, have enhanced the value of the land independently of anything done by o the landlord or the tenant, that increase of value should belong to the nation. That it should do so is not only consistent with the principles on which landed property confessedly depends for its justification, but is a consequence of those very principles.
Now, the labours of the nation at large do add daily and yearly to the value of the land, whether the landlord plays the part of an improver or not. The growth of towns, the extension of manufactures, the increase of population consequent on increased employment, create a pconstantlyp increasing demand for land both for the habitations of the people and for the supply of food and qthe materials ofq clothing. They also create a constantly increasing demand for coal, iron, and all the other produce of mining industry. By this increase of demand the landed proprietors largely profit, without in any way contributing to it. The income from rural lands has a constant tendency to increase; that from building lands still more: and with this increase of their incomes the owners of the land have nothing to do except to receive it.
The Land Tenure Reform Association claim this increase for those who are its real authors.1 They do not propose to deprive the landlords of their present rents, nor of anything which they may hereafter add to those rents by their own improvements. The future Unearned Increase is what the Association rseekr to withdraw from them, and to retain for those to whose slabourss and sacrifices, from generation to generation, it will really be due. The means by which it is proposed to accomplish this is Special Taxation. Over and above the fair share of the landlords in the general taxation of the public, they may justly be required to pay hereafter a special tax, within the limits of the increase which may accrue to their tpresentt income from causes independent of themselves.
Against this proposal it is objected that many landholders have bought the lands they hold, and in buying them had in view not only their present rental, but the probability of future increase; of which increase, therefore, it would be unjust to deprive them. But the Association do not propose to deprive them of it without compensation. In the plan of the Association the landlords would have the right reserved to them of parting with their land to the State, immediately or at any future time, at the price for which they could sell it at the time when the plan is adopted. By availing themselves of this option, they would not only get back whatever they had paid for the prospect of future increase, but would obtain the full price for which they could have sold that future prospect at the time when the new system was introduced. They would be left, therefore, in a pecuniary sense, exactly as well off as they were before: while the State would gain the difference between the price of the land at the time and the higher value which, according to all probability, it would afterwards rise to. There would be no transfer of private property to the State, but only an interception by the State of an increase of property, which would otherwise accrue at a future time to private individuals without their giving any value for it; since they would have been reimbursed whatever money they had given, and would even have received the full present value of their expectations.
There is another objection commonly made, which is disposed of by the same answer. It is often said that land, and particularly land in towns, is liable to lose value as well as to gain it. Certain quarters of London cease to be fashionable; and are deserted by their opulent inhabitants; certain towns lose a portion of their trading prosperity when railway communication enables purchasers to supply themselves cheaply from elsewhere. Those cases, however, are the exception, not the rule: and when they occur, what is lost in one quarter is gained in another, and there is the general gain due to the prosperity of the country besides. If some landlords, for exceptional reasons, do not partake in the benefit, neither will they have to pay the tax. They will be exactly where they are now. If it be said that as they took the chance of a diminution they ought to have the counter-balancing chance of an increase, the answer is that the power of giving up the land at its existing price, in which both chances are allowed for, makes the matter even. Indeed, more than even. No one would benefit so much by the proposed measure as those whose land might afterwards fall in value; for they would be able to claim the former price from the State, although they could no longer obtain so much from individuals. By giving up the rise of value, they would obtain an actual State guarantee against a fall. And this would be no loss to the State; for every such fall in one quarter, unless owing to a decline of the general prosperity, implies a corresponding rise somewhere else, of which rise the State would have the benefit.
A third objection is sometimes made. Land, it is said, is not the only article of property which rises in value from the mere effect of the advance of national wealth, independently of anything done by the proprietor. Pictures by the old masters, ancient sculptures, rare curiosities of all sorts, have the same tendency. If it is not unjust to deprive the landlord of the unearned increase of the value of his land, by the same rule the increase of value of Raphaels uandu Titians might be taken from their fortunate vpossessorv and appropriated by the State.
Were this true in principle it would lead to no consequences in practice, since the revenue which could be obtained by even a very high tax on these rare and scattered possessions would not be worth consideration to a prosperous country. But it is not true, even in principle.
Objects of art, however rare or incomparable, differ from land and its contents in this essential particular, that they are products of labour. Objects of high art are products not only of labour but of sacrifice. The pains, patience, and care necessary for producing works which will be competed for by future ages, are far from being those from which the greatest immediate, and especially the greatest pecuniary, advantage is reaped by the artist. Such works almost always imply renunciation of a great part of the gains which might easily have been obtained by hasty and marketable productions; and often could not be produced at all, unless the few purchasers who are able to distinguish the immortal from the ephemeral, could feel that they might, without imprudence, pay a high price for works which would be a fortune to their descendants. The prospective rise in price of works of art is by no means an unearned increase: the best productions of genius and skill alone obtain that honour, while the increasing value of land is indiscriminate. Governments do not think it improper to disburse considerable sums in order to foster high art and encourage the taste for it among the public. Much more, then, should they not grudge to the artist what may come to him spontaneously from the estimate which good judges form of what his productions wwillw sell for long after he is dead. xWex grant that in many cases the increased value does not reach the artist himself, but is an addition, and sometimes an unlooked-for addition, to the gains of a middleman, who may have bought, at a very moderate price, works which subsequent accident or fashion suddenly ybringsy into vogue. This is a contingency to which artists, like all other workmen, are liable; if they are unable to wait they may be obliged to sell their future chances below the true value, to somebody who can. But they obtain, on the average, a higher remuneration for their labour than they could obtain if they had no such chances to sell. And it must be remembered that, along with his chances of profit, the dealer takes the risk of loss. Changes in the public taste and judgment may take place either way: if some works which may have been bought cheap acquire a high value, others for which a high price has been paid go out of fashion, gradually or even suddenly. If dealers are exposed to the one chance, they must have the benefit of the other. Were they deprived of it, their useful function, by which, until replaced by something better, artists are greatly benefited, could not be carried on.
Neither can it be said, as in the case of land, that receiving the market price of the day would compensate the holder for the chances of future increase. There is no market price of such thingsz, and the future increase has no common standard of estimationz ; it is a matter of individual judgment; and, even if an average could be struck, it would not compensate any one for the disappointment of his own expectation. The objection, therefore, from the supposed parallel case fails in its application: the cases are not really parallel.*
Other objectors say that, if it is allowable to take the unearned increase of the value of land, it must, for the same reasons, be allowable to take for the public the unearned increase of the price of railway shares. But the fallacy is here so transparent as scarcely to require pointing out. In the first place, every penny which is obtained by railway shareholders is not the gift of nature, but the earnings and recompense of human labour and thrift. In the next place, railway shares fall in price as frequently as they rise, which is far from being the case with land. If it be said that the prosperity of the country tends to increase the gains of railway shareholders as well as those of landlords, the same national prosperity leads to the creation of competing railroads, and of new and comparatively unproductive branches, so as to take away from the old shareholders with one hand nearly, if not quite, as much as it bestows on them with the other. The two cases, therefore, differ in the essential point.
We have now, we think, exhausted the objections of principle which are usually made to the detention by the State of the unearned increment of rent. It has, we think, been shown that they are all of them such as a very little consideration of the subject is sufficient to dispel. But, besides these theoretical, there are practical objections, in appearance more formidable, but, as we shall be able to show, quite as inconclusive.
It is alleged that, granting the justice of claiming the unearned increase for the State, there are no means of ascertaining what it is. It would be impossiblea, it is said,a to distinguish the increase of rent which arises from the general progress of society, from that which is owing to the skill and outlay of the proprietor: and in intercepting the former there would be perpetual danger of unjustly encroaching upon the latter.
There would be some ground for this objection in a country of peasant proprietors. The improvements made by such a class of landowners consist more in the ungrudging and assiduous application of their own labour and care, and in attention to small gains and petty savings, than in important works, or in the expenditure of money. It would really be very difficult, if not impossible, to determine how much the proprietor and his family had done in any given number of years to improve the productiveness or add to the value of the land.
But it is quite otherwise with the improvements made by rich landlords, like those who own nearly all the soil of the British Islands. What they do for the land is done by outlay of money, through the agency of skilled engineers and superintendents. It is easy to register operationsb, for instance,b of thorough drainage, and to ascertain and record, as one of the elements in the case, the cost of those operations. Their effect in adding to the value of the land has a natural measure in the increased rent which a solvent tenant would be willing to pay for it; and the whole of that increase, whether great or small, we would leave to the landlord.
The possibility of a valuation of unexhausted improvements is assumed as a matter of notoriety in all the discussions, now so common, respecting Tenant Right. It is already a custom in many parts of England to compensate an outgoing tenant for these cimprovements. Whatc is a custom in many places will soon, it is probable, be made a legal obligation in all; and among the objections made to its imposition by law, we are never told of the impossibility of doing it. But if it is possible to value the deffectd of temporary improvements, why should it be impossible to value the effect of permanent improvements? A Bill compelling a valuation of both, and giving compensation etoe both alike, has been introduced into the House of Commons by a high agricultural authority, Mr. James Howard, and has met with influential support.2
Yet if this be possible, the object is completely attained, for there is no other difficulty. The fact of an increase of rent is easily ascertained. There is nothing needed but the trouble and expense of registering the facts. It might be necessary to have a survey of the whole country, ascertaining and recording the conditions of every tenancy, and to renew this operation periodically, say every ten or twenty years. This is not so difficult as the cadastral operations of some continental countries, or the revenue surveys of British India, for these undertake to determine, by special inquiry, what rent each piece of land is capable of yielding. In the proposed survey it would suffice to record what it does yield; allowing the landlord, if he can, to prove that it is under-rented, in which case he ought not to suffer for his past moderation.
It should be understood, also, that no intention is entertained of paring down the increment of rent to the futmostf farthing. We assert in principle, the right of taking it all: in practice we have no desire to insist upon the extreme right, at any risk of going beyond it. No doubt, the option allowed to the landlord of giving up the land at its existing value, would secure him against pecuniary wrong; but we should be sorry to trade upon his reluctance to give up an ancestral possession, or one endeared to him by association. We would leave, therefore, an ample margin by way of insurance against mistakes in the ginstitutiong . We would not insist upon taking the last penny of the unearned increase. But we hmaintainh that within that limit taxation on the land, in addition to the landlord’s share of all other taxes, may justly be, and ought to be, imposed. We contend that a tax on land, not preceding but following the future increase of its value, and increasing with that increase, is a legitimate financial resource; and that it is for the individual landlord, by making an authentic record of what he does for the land, to preserve evidence that its increase of rent is the consequence and rightful reward of his own intelligent improvements.
This is the meaning of the fourth article in the programme of the Land Tenure Reform Association;3 and the reasons which have now been given are its justification. The more it is considered the more general, we believe, will be the adhesion to it of those whose regard for property is not a superstition but an intelligent conviction, and who do not consider landlords as entitled to pecuniary privilege but only to equal justice.
[1 ]See, e.g., “The Insurrection in Russian Poland,” 1 Feb., p. 8; “Poland,” 22 Feb., p. 2; and “Poland,” 1 Mar., p. 9.
[2 ]Alexander II proclaimed in 1861 the emancipation of the serfs. Francis Joseph I (1830-1916) had introduced a series of ultimately unsuccessful constitutional reforms in 1860 and 1861.
[3 ]See “Foreign Intelligence: France” (24 Feb., 1863), The Times, 25 Feb., p. 9.
[4 ]Although given personal liberty by the proclamation of March 1861, the Russian serfs were, during a transitional two-year period that had just expired, obliged to perform their traditional duties to their masters. After March 1863, household serfs were to be entirely free, while those on the land entered a “temporarily-obligated” state while they paid for their holdings.
[5 ]The announcement to their friends was in the form of a letter from the Central National Polish Committee in Warsaw (Bell, 1 Oct., 1862, pp. 1205-6); the public pledge may be found in “Proclamation of the National Committee” (22 Jan., 1863), in “Correspondence of the British Government Respecting the Insurrection in Poland,” PP, 1863, LXXV, 40-1.
[6 ]The Bell (Kolokol) was a Russian language journal published in London and Geneva under the editorship of Alexander Ivanovich Herzen (1812-70), in exile in London, of whose writing Mill had known at least since 1859 (see LL, CW, Vol. XV, p. 607). Nikolai Platonovich Ogarev or Ogareff (1813-77) was a life-long friend of Herzen, and like him an early Saint-Simonian. In exile from 1856, he lived mostly in London and Geneva, and collaborated with Herzen. Mill had written to him in November 1862 (ibid., pp. 805-6).
[7 ]The behaviour of Marquis Alexander Wielopolski (1803-77), who held, inter alia, the presidency of the Polish council of state, is described in “Zamoyski and Wielopolski,” Spectator, 7 Mar., 1863, pp. 1717-18.
[a]PN [no paragraph]
[b]PN [no paragraph]
[d]PN [no paragraph]
[1 ]For the Polish rebellion, see No. 408. For examples, first of the strong language and then of the unwillingness, see Temple, Speech on the Affairs of Poland (27 Feb., 1863), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 169, cols. 932-9; and Speech on the Affairs of Poland, Question (6 July, 1863), ibid., Vol. 172, col. 253.
[2 ]Drawcansir, a braggart and swashbuckler in George Villiers’s The Rehearsal (London: Dring, 1672), who was given to striking against all sides in a battle.
[1 ]William Ewart Gladstone (1809-98), M.P. since 1832, who was to lead the Liberals in the House of Commons during the parliament of 1865-68, when Mill supported him.
[2 ]Edward Henry Stanley (1826-93), Speech at the Meeting of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science (10 Apr., 1865), Daily News, 11 Apr., p. 2.
[1 ]The opponent was Mill himself, whose argument in Considerations on Representative Government (1861) was attacked (for the passage, see CW, Vol. XIX, pp. 488-95). Romilly’s other targets were Sydney Smith and Lord Palmerston.
[1 ]Advertisement by Mill’s Committee (dated 17 July), The Times, 18 July, p. 8. The statement from Mill’s Committee was signed by Charles Westerton, Chairman, J.S. Storr, Treasurer, and James Beal, Honorary Secretary.
[a-a]DN [no paragraph] Electors,
[b]DN [no paragraph]
[1 ]In his speech of 24 July, at an election meeting in the Pimlico Rooms, Warwick Street, Mill is reported to have said “that he had been in favour of the ballot, but was not in favour of it now” (The Times, 25 July, p. 5). His vote against the ballot’s adoption in Ireland came on an amendment to the Representation of the People (Ireland) Bill on 18 June, 1868 (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 192, cols. 1801-5).
[1 ]In 1847 Richard Cobden was chosen to stand for the West Riding of Yorkshire, without his knowledge, as well as for his former borough of Stockport; Henry Brougham, after he brought forward a motion against slavery in 1830, was put forward in Yorkshire, as well as in his former constituency of Knaresborough.
[1 ]Ralph Augustus Benson (1828-86), barrister.
[1 ]In the schools of the British and Foreign School Society (founded by and often called by the name of Joseph Lancaster) the scriptural readings were not part of the lessons.
[2 ]See esp. Sect. 7.3 of the Bill.
[3 ]The letter is followed by a square-bracketed note: “We are exceedingly sorry to have misrepresented Mr. Mill, and of course absolutely withdraw the statement. We cannot, however, admit that our blunder was anyone’s fault but Mr. Mill’s, at least if the Times’ report of his speech is correct. In that he is stated to have said, ‘The system deliberately chosen by the Dissenters is that of the British Schools, where religious teaching is limited to reading the Bible without note or comment.’ Thereafter the whole tenor of the speech appeared to be supporting the demand of the Dissenters, and not a word was reported criticizing that demand as itself involving the very injustice of which Mr. Mill complained in the Government proposals, or stating, as we suppose he now states, that he would be satisfied with nothing but a purely secular system. We are not sorry to have drawn from him that avowal.—Ed. Spectator.” In fact The Times correctly reported the sentence quoted (it appears substantively thus in Mill’s autograph MS); the issue lies in its interpretation.
[1 ]The Franco-Prussian War had broken out on 14 July, 1870.
[2 ]The Treaty of Paris, “General Treaty between Great Britain, Austria, France, Prussia, Russia, Sardinia, and Turkey, for the Re-establishment of Peace,” PP, 1856, LXI, 1-34.
[1 ]Mill does not quote himself exactly; see No. 421.
[1 ]Laveleye, in the letter that follows Mill’s introduction, deplores any action that might involve Britain in a war with Prussia and the United States and throw the Slavonians, who are naturally against Russian encroachment, into Russia’s arms by espousing the Turks; destroy Austria by aligning her Slav subjects with Russia against Turkey; involve the United States by enfringing the rights of neutrals; thwart the natural tendency of a United Germany to combine with Austria to prevent the Danube’s becoming a Russian river; and inflict the miseries of war on the working classes of the whole world.
[a-a]TT some journals
[b-b]TT the 25th of March
[1 ]The letter is followed by a square-bracketed editorial note: “The statement of which Mr. Mill complains came to us with the apparent authority of the Society of Arts.”
[1 ]See Programme of the Land Tenure Association, Arts. 1-3, p. 3 (CW, Vol. V, p. 689).
[2 ]See Speech at the Colston Dinner, Bristol (13 Nov., 1872), The Times, 14 Nov., p. 10, by George Joachim Goschen (1831-1907), liberal politician, President of the Poor-Law Board (1870) and First Lord of the Admiralty (1871); and The Times’ leaders on the subject, 22 Nov., p. 7, and 29 Nov., p. 7.
[3 ]Programme of the Land Tenure Association, Art. 4, p. 3 (CW, Vol. V, p. 690).
[4 ]Ibid., Art. 6, pp. 3-4 (CW, Vol. V, p. 693).
[5 ]This is not one of the formal proposals of the Association.
[6 ]For the phrase, see No. 328, n2.
[7 ]See n2.
[1 ]The Mortmain Acts include 7 & 8 William III, c. 37 (1696), 9 George II, c. 36 (1736), and 43 George III, c. 108 (1803).
[2 ]E.g., Leading article on land tenure reform, Standard, 25 Nov., 1872, p. 4.
[3 ]Feudal tenures were finally abolished by 12 Charles II, c. 24 (1660), and a land tax, as part of the property tax, was imposed by 4 William and Mary, c. 1 (1692). Mill says the claim was “evaded” presumably because the land was rated at its valuation in the reign of Edward I, rather than at a rental value, which would have gradually increased. In 1798 Pitt allowed for the redemption of the land tax by a lump payment, and subsequently the annual revenue from land was even lower.
[4 ]Estates whose commercial value was enormously increased by the expansion of fashionable London westwards.
[5 ]See Programme of the Land Tenure Association, Art. 4, p. 3 (CW, Vol. V, p. 690).
[i-i]E on cultivation at all
[j-j]P (it will be said)
[q-q]E of the materials for
[1 ]See Programme of the Land Tenure Association, Art. 4, p. 3 (CW, Vol. V, p. 690).
[* ]In so far as there does exist any parallelism, its consequences should be accepted. The right of property in things which, being unique, belong, in some sense, to the whole human race, assuredly ought not to be absolute. If a half-insane millionaire took it into his head to buy up the pictures of the great masters for the purpose of destroying them, the State ought to stop his proceedings, if not to punish him for the mischief he had already done. It may hereafter be thought right to require that those who possess such treasures should either open their galleries to public view, or at least lend the contents from time to time for the purpose of exhibition; and should allow to artists, under reasonable restrictions, regular access to them for the purpose of reproduction or of study. With regard to other possessions of public interest, such as architectural remains and historical monuments generally, they ought to be, if not acquired by the State, placed under State protection. The pretence of right to destroy them, or to make any change which would impair their historical interest, ought not for a moment to be listened to. The preservation of such monuments is one of the articles in the programme of the Land Tenure Reform Association. Had it been conceded fifty years ago, many interesting relics of antiquity would have been still in existence which are now irreparably lost. [See Programme of the Land Tenure Association, Art. 10, p. 5 (CW, Vol. V, p. 695).]
[a-a]E,P (it is said)
[b-b]E,P (for instance)
[c-c]E,P improvements; what
[2 ]“A Bill for the Improvement of the Relations between Landlord and Tenant,” 36 Victoria (13 Feb., 1873), PP, 1873, II, 269-84, introduced by James Howard (1821-89), Liberal M.P. for Bedford, manufacturer of agricultural implements and author of works on agriculture; it was withdrawn before its Second Reading (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 216, cols. 1644-5).
[3 ]Programme of the Land Tenure Association, p. 3 (CW, Vol. V, p. 690).