Return to Title Page for The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXI - Essays on Equality, Law, and Education
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
STATEMENT ON MARRIAGE 1851 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXI - Essays on Equality, Law, and Education 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXI - Essays on Equality, Law, and Education, ed. John M. Robson, Introduction by Stefan Collini (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The online edition of the Collected Works is published under licence from the copyright holder, The University of Toronto Press. ©2006 The University of Toronto Press. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or medium without the permission of The University of Toronto Press.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
STATEMENT ON MARRIAGE
MS facsimile reproduced in Hugh S.R. Elliot, The Letters of John Stuart Mill, 2 vols. (London: Longmans, Green, 1910), I, facing 159 and 160. Unheaded. Signed “J.S. Mill” and dated 6 March, 1851. Not published (and therefore not in Mill’s bibliography). In Elliot’s transcription, “pretension” (1.17) is mistakenly given as “pretence”. For comment, see lxii above.
Statement on Marriage
being about, if I am so happy as to obtain her consent, to enter into the marriage relation with the only woman I have ever known, with whom I would have entered into that state; and the whole character of the marriage relation as constituted by law being such as both she and I entirely and conscientiously disapprove, for this among other reasons, that it confers upon one of the parties to the contract, legal power and control over the person, property, and freedom of action of the other party, independent of her own wishes and will; I, having no means of legally divesting myself of these odious powers (as I most assuredly would do if an engagement to that effect could be made legally binding on me), feel it my duty to put on record a formal protest against the existing law of marriage, in so far as conferring such powers; and a solemn promise never in any case or under any circumstances to use them. And in the event of marriage between Mrs. Taylor and me I declare it to be my will and intention, and the condition of the engagement between us, that she retains in all respects whatever the same absolute freedom of action, and freedom of disposal of herself and of all that does or may at any time belong to her, as if no such marriage had taken place, and I absolutely disclaim and repudiate all pretension to have acquired any rights whatever by virtue of such marriage.