Front Page Titles (by Subject) Appendix F: War and Peace, by Helen Taylor (1871) - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIX - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part II July 1869 - March 1873
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Appendix F: War and Peace, by Helen Taylor (1871) - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIX - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part II July 1869 - March 1873 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIX - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part II July 1869 - March 1873, ed. John M. Robson and Bruce L. Kinzer (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988).
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War and Peace, by Helen Taylor (1871)
MS fragment, Houghton Library, Harvard University, Autograph file A.MS *49M-85; no full version is known, nor is the occasion for which it was prepared. In Mill’s hand; on 2r is written in Helen Taylor’s hand, “H T. Feby 1871.”
the contemplation of all the brutal horrors of war, as well as of the extremely unsatisfactory way in which after all it settles disputes, irresistibly arouses the question why the disputes of civilised nations cannot be settled as those of private individuals are settled. The first reply to this is unfortunately only too plain: and the difficulty of obtaining any impartial judge or jury in international disputes has hitherto been an insuperable bar to their pacific settlement. A second reply, less obvious, but hitherto of not less practical weight, is the difficulty of finding any one willing to put themselves in the position of the tax payer who provides the policeman and the prison for the individual evil doer. No nation will put itself forward to incur the expense and the danger of war, without the prospect of gaining something by it for itself. And there exists a party of no inconsiderable weight in this country that even lays it down as an axiom that we ought never to go to war but for our own interests. If this axiom is right, there is either no parity at all between individuals and nations, or else those who hold it right to carry out their principles by refusing to appropriate any part of the national revenues to the public administration of justice between one citizen and another: for what business have we to pay a policeman to interfere in any case where he himself is not personally concerned?
But in fact I believe that on examining the question we shall find that there is not really any parity between the administration of justice at least in the form in which it exists in a great measure in the most highly civilised nations, and which it is constantly tending to assume in the hands of the greatest thinkers and best law reformers and any of those ideas of international arbitration which present themselves spontaneously to the mind when we ask why the disputes of nations cannot be settled by some such means as those which settle the disputes between individuals. I believe that if ever the disputes between nations are so settled, it will be by taking as our model, not courts of arbitration, but courts of law; not courts of law as they existed in the early stages of human society, but as they exist in their most perfect forms: and that the narrow and technical view of his duties held by the modern English common law judge will be found the most effectual by whoever should attempt to avert the bloody consequences of international quarrels.
To shew this clearly one must go back to the consideration not so much of the fundamental causes which lead to war (for I believe that dwelling too much upon these has led us into a wrong track in seeking to avoid war altogether) but of the fundamental causes which lead to our abhorrence of war.1
Perhaps it is in the ambiguity of the word Peace that we ought really to seek for the explanation of the long persistence of war, as a phenomenon among civilised nations. As long as we have but a confused knowledge of what we desire, our success in obtaining it will depend not so much upon the ardour with which we desire it, as upon the ardour and the frequency of those desires which conflict with it. When man does not act with his reason, he is a prey to instincts, and passions which are little removed from instincts. The first step towards working with our reason towards the attainment of any desirable aim, is to define clearly what it is that is desired: the second, which portion of what we desire can most readily be attained.
Now it is precisely this first step which does not appear to me to have been ever systematically attempted for the attainment of Peace. I define our object as the attainment of Peace, rather than the avoidance of war, because I take it that the word peace is really, in all languages and in the human mind, the correlative of war, and the attainment of peace means the avoidance of that pain on account of which war is hateful. But what I have to say will apply equally well whether we take it in a negative or in a positive form: whether we consider it as our object to avoid war or to obtain peace.
What, then, are the delights of peace, which make the word so sweet in all its associations? I think we shall find that the idea is a peculiarly complex one. We associate with it all the pleasures of concord and harmony, benevolent emotions, sympathy with our fellow creatures, facility of intercourse and consequently all the enjoyments that arise from commerce. Besides these ideas, we are apt to associate with the idea of peace things that more properly belong to the domain of liberty; the undisturbed possession of wealth, freedom of expansion of our energies etc., in all directions, personal safety for ourselves and those who are dear to us, and security from insult. One reason why the world has not hitherto abhorred war, and valued peace as much as we are now beginning to think they deserve, is one which we are very apt to lose sight of: namely, that it is only quite of late that any nations have really possessed these blessings of liberty. For a man’s abhorrence of war and love of peace are naturally not so intense when in a state of peace he undergoes at the hands of his political masters all the most serious sufferings of a state of war. The enjoyment of security of life, honour, and property, freedom of intercourse, liberty of commerce, and various kindred advantages of free and civilised society, are therefore essential antecedents to that horror of war among all classes of the community which is beginning to be a characteristic feature of modern times; and when we consider this, we shall see less cause to be surprised that greater progress has not yet been made towards getting rid of war itself. The same considerations will apply, although in a less marked degree, to the physical sufferings and the great mortality among those actually engaged in war. The progress of civilisation and of the medical art undoubtedly diminishes the amount of physical suffering with which men are familiar. With every improvement, therefore, in these things, war becomes more exceptional, and stands out more strikingly from the general course of human life as a cause of agony and death. As plague, pestilence, and famine cease to be conspicuous among us, war stands out with ever increasing distinctness as a cause of human suffering, and the main agent in violent and premature death.
[1 ]Here Helen Taylor has written “See A”; the next folio is headed “A” (and that insertion, running for two sides, completes the manuscript).