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John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume I – Autobiography and Literary Essays [1824]

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John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume I – Autobiography and Literary Essays, ed. John M. Robson and Jack Stillinger, introduction by Lord Robbins (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981). http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/242

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Vol. 1 of the 33 vol. Collected Works contains Mill’s autobiography and some literary essays mostly from the 1830s.

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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.

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Edition: current; Page: [i]
COLLECTED WORKS OF JOHN STUART MILL
volume i
Edition: current; Page: [ii]

The Collected Edition of the works of John Stuart Mill has been planned and is being directed by an editorial committee appointed from the Faculty of Arts and Science of the University of Toronto, and from the University of Toronto Press. The primary aim of the edition is to present fully collated texts of those works which exist in a number of versions, both printed and manuscript, and to provide accurate texts of works previously unpublished or which have become relatively inaccessible.

Editorial Committee

j. m. robson, General Editor

v. w. bladen, harald bohne, alexander brady,

j. c. cairns, j. b. conacher, d. p. dryer,

francess halpenny, samuel hollander,

jean houston,

marsh jeanneret, r. f. McRAE, f. e. l. priestley

Edition: current; Page: [iii]
Autobiography and Literary Essays
by JOHN STUART MILL
Edited by JOHN M. ROBSON Professor of English, Victoria College, University of Toronto and JACK STILLINGER Professor of English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
university of toronto press
routledge & kegan paul
Edition: current; Page: [iv]

© University of Toronto Press 1981

Toronto and Buffalo

Printed in Canada

ISBN 0-8020-2368-1

London Routledge & Kegan Paul

ISBN 0-7100-0718-3

This volume has been published with the assistance of a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Edition: current; Page: [v]

Contents

  • introduction vii
  • Autobiography 1
    • Parallel Reading Texts of the Early Draft and the Columbia MS
      • I. Childhood, and Early Education 5
      • II. Moral Influences in Early Youth. My Father’s Character and Opinions 41
      • III. Last Stage of Education, and First of Self-Education 65
      • IV. Youthful Propagandism. The Westminster Review 89
      • V. A Crisis in My Mental History. One Stage Onward 137
      • VI. Commencement of the Most Valuable Friendship of My Life. My Father’s Death. Writings and Other Proceedings up to 1840 193
      • VII. General View of the Remainder of My Life 229
  • Periodical Literature: Edinburgh Review (1824) 291
  • On Genius (1832) 327
  • Thoughts on Poetry and Its Varieties (1833) 341
  • Writings of Junius Redivivus [I] (1833) 367
  • Writings of Junius Redivivus [II] (1833) 379
  • Views of the Pyrenees (1833) 391
  • Tennyson’s Poems (1835) 395
  • Aphorisms: Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd (1837) 419
  • Ware’s Letters from Palmyra (1838) 431
  • Writings of Alfred de Vigny (1838) 463
  • Milnes’s Poems (1838) 503
  • Milnes’s Poetry for the People (1840) 517 Edition: current; Page: [vi]
  • Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome (1843) 523
  • Letter to the Editor of the Edinburgh Review, on James Mill (1844) 533
  • appendices
    • Appendix A. Juvenilia (1812-13?) 541
      • History of Rome 542
      • Ode to Diana 549
    • Appendix B. Mill’s Early Reading (1809-22) 551
    • Appendix C. Mill’s Early Writing (1811?-22) 582
    • Appendix D. A Few Observations on Mr. Mill (1833) 589
    • Appendix E. Note on Browning’s Pauline (1833) 596
    • Appendix F. Editorial Notes in the London and Westminster Review (1835-39) 598
    • Appendix G. Rejected Leaves of the Early Draft of the Autobiography 608
    • Appendix H. Helen Taylor’s Continuation of the Autobiography 625
    • Appendix I. Bibliographic Index of Persons and Works Cited, with Variants and Notes 628
  • index 747
  • facsimiles
Edition: current; Page: [vii]

Introduction

john stuart mill’s Autobiography offers details of his life, a subjective judgment as to its significance, and lengthy expositions of his leading ideas. It is therefore fitting that it should occupy the first place in an edition of his collected works. Indeed Mill himself, thinking of a smaller collection of essays, suggested to his wife that “the Life” should appear “at their head.”1 The Autobiography’s comprehensiveness makes the choice of other materials to accompany it less obvious. Those gathered under the rubric of literary essays were decided upon because autobiography is a literary genre, because these essays cast light on some of the personal relations outlined in the memoir, and because they derive from and help us understand a period Mill saw as crucial to his development. Indeed they allow us, as does the Autobiography, to see aspects of his character that are obscured in the more magisterial works. In particular, one finds specific evidence of aesthetic enthusiasm and taste, and of friendships and allegiances, that proves him not to have been the chill pedant of caricature.

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY

autobiographies are seldom explicit about their purposes, which can be widely diverse. Yet to ignore the author’s intentions is to run the risk of confusing, for example, confession with self-celebration, or diary with social anatomy. Mill helps us avoid this danger by presenting, in the first paragraph of his Autobiography, a warning that serves as an enticing framework for his overt statement of purpose. He cannot imagine that anything in a life “so uneventful” could be “interesting to the public as a narrative, or as being connected” with himself. But there are, he says, other reasons that justify the publication of the record: first, a description of his “unusual and remarkable” education should be useful in showing how much can effectively be taught to children; second, an account of the successive phases of a mind always eager and open will be “both of interest and of benefit” in “an age of transition in opinions”; and, finally, and to the author most significantly (though, as he does not point out, without direct public utility), an Edition: current; Page: [viii] acknowledgment of his intellectual and moral debts is necessary to satisfy his sense of duty. Having thus established the terms of a contract with his potential audience. Mill closes the paragraph with an admonition that probably no one has ever heeded: “The reader whom these things do not interest, has only himself to blame if he reads farther, and I do not desire any other indulgence from him than that of bearing in mind, that for him these pages were not written” (p. 5).2

Anyone reading this introduction (and we beg the same indulgence) presumably believes, malgré Mill, that his “uneventful” life is interesting, or accepts, with him, the validity of his stated goals. One can proceed, then, to use the opening paragraph as an avenue into comment on the Autobiography, confident that one is on the author’s chosen route. To do so is doubly important, for some critics have chosen to treat his evident omissions and underplaying of events and people as evidence of suppressed psychological states or distorting attitudes. And such inferences may be correct: but at least one should give Mill credit, with his quirks and biasses, for knowing what he was trying to do.

It is apparent, to begin with, that the narrative balance is affected by his notion of what his readers should properly take an interest in. As so often occurs in personal memoirs, there is a chronological imbalance: the first six chapters (about 70 per cent of the text) cover the period to 1840, when Mill was thirty-six years old, while the seventh and last chapter deals with the next thirty years. The title of that last chapter—“General View of the Remainder of My Life”—suggests summary and diminuendo, whereas the titles of the earlier chapters imply the rich detail that they in fact contain.

Although chronology is (in the main) the structural guide, the pace is irregular: ignoring some adumbration and very slight retrospection, one can say that Chapters i and ii cover roughly the same years (to aet. 15) from different points of view, intellectual and moral. Chapter iii, rather surprisingly, covers only about two years (to aet. 17). Chapters iv and v together deal with nine years (to 1830, aet. 24); they overlap in their accounts of the period from 1826 to 1829 (aet. 20 to 23). Chapter vi takes one through the next decade (to 1840, aet. 34), and Chapter vii brings the narrative to the point where Mill finally put down his pen, early in 1870 (aet. 63). Furthermore, the chapters vary considerably in length, so the average amount of space given per year in each period clarifies the emphasis:

TABLE 13
Chap i & ii iii iv & v vi vii
3 Percentages are used because the setting of the text in this edition (parallel passages with blank spaces) and the number of footnotes make page counting unreliable. For that reason, in both Table 1 and Table 2 below, the counts are based on Jack Stillinger’s editions of the Autobiography (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1969) and The Early Draft of John Stuart Mill’s “Autobiography” (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1961).
No. of years 15 2 9 10 30
% of total pages 19 8 32 12 30
% of pages per year 1.3 4 3.6 1.2 1
Edition: current; Page: [ix]

Explanatory light is thrown on the imbalance by Mill’s tripartite division of his life: the first stage being one of education and of propagandism for Philosophic Radicalism; the second stage one of new ideas, assimilation, and reconsideration; and the third stage one of mature and steady (but not rigid) views, recorded in his major works. This division, seen in conjunction with the three purposes Mill announces, makes it clearer why he structured the Autobiography as he did.

The account of his education (first purpose) occupies most of the first three chapters, while the explanation of the “successive phases” of his mind (second purpose) is the main matter of the next three chapters. The division between these phases, however, cannot be distinctly drawn, and the third purpose, acknowledgment of debts, as is to be expected, is served through most of the work. The reason is that education in its widest sense is a continuous process, during which one moves through “phases” and incurs repeated debts. For example, looking at the transition from Chapter iii to Chapter iv, one sees that the former ends with an account of what Mill, in its title, identifies as the “first” stage of his self-education, and the latter, with its mention of the strenuous activities of the fledgling Philosophic Radicals (discussions, debates, studies, editing, essays), obviously is the next phase. But, while the narrative of sectarian activities in Chapter iv provides an excellent foil for the rejection of one-sidedness in Chapter v, it also outlines a continuation of the young Mill’s education. Furthermore, his education of course continued in the exciting phase described in Chapter v, “A Crisis in My Mental History. One Stage Onward.” And in each of these chapters, as in Chapters i and ii, he mentions people who influenced him. The thematic intertwining, with the consequent need to cover crucial periods from different standpoints, explains why the period of greatest overlap, from about 1821 to the early 1830s, gets most attention. A glance at Table 1 above will show that Chapters iii-v occupy about 40 per cent of the whole work, and on an average each year in that period is given more than 3½ times as much space as each year after 1840.

So, if we accept the premises Mill himself advances, the concentration on his education and intellectual development until his mid-thirties is neither surprising nor exceptionable. Indeed, the anomalous element is the final chapter, with its account of his next thirty years, in which there should be little matter relevant to his stated purposes. There is, in fact, some: most obviously, Mill pays important tribute to his wife. Chapter vi, which covers the decade of their first acquaintance, has in its title the strong assertion, “Commencement of the Most Valuable Friendship of My Life,” but the continuation of the account into the final chapter results in almost one-fifth of it being dedicated to her part in his life and work. Indeed, he ties that account directly to his third purpose:

In resuming my pen some years after closing the preceding narrative, I am influenced by a desire not to leave incomplete the record, for the sake of which chiefly this biographical Edition: current; Page: [x] sketch was undertaken, of the obligations I owe to those who have either contributed essentially to my own mental developement or had a direct share in my writings and in whatever else of a public nature I have done.4

It may be noticed that here he somewhat modifies his initial statement of purpose: rather than referring to aids to his intellectual and moral development, he refers to those who contributed to his mental development and to those who shared in his writings and public acts. This modification further justifies the final chapter, for in its pages appear substantial accounts of his writings in maturity, in the course of which he mentions other debts.5 It cannot be denied, however, that after the last tribute to his wife, the focus does alter: in actual as well as proportional length, Mill gives more space to his parliamentary career (1865-68) than to any other period in his life, even that of his “mental crisis.”6 The account of that career, the events of which were fresh in his mind only a year after his defeat, is not easily justified on Mill’s stated terms. Indeed, its main interest surely lies outside them, in his own character and fame, which are described if not in a boastful, at least in a self-satisfied way.

Apart from the concluding portion of Chapter vii (which, untypically for Mill, was not rewritten), one can, then, gain considerable insight by accepting his exordium as accurate. In that light, some comment on the way he fulfils his goals is appropriate.

First, the description of his extraordinary education, initially at the hands of his father, but later and indeed for most of the time on his own initiative, is copious and full of interest. The account is also dense, as may be seen by comparing the combined lengths of Appendices B and C below, which attempt to reconstruct his early reading and writing, with their primary source, the early pages of the Autobiography (cf. especially pp. 9-25 with App. B, pp. 552-68). The early start (Greek at the age of three) was not then so exceptional as it now would be: to choose relevant comparisons, Bentham (with not much encouragement) was quick off the infant blocks, as (with more encouragement) was Macaulay. Mill was unusual, but he appears unique because he left such a full record. His detailed memory of those early years is surprising; however, he almost certainly had at least one aide-mémoire, a copy of the letter he wrote to Sir Samuel Bentham in mid-1819,7 setting out his educational accomplishments of the preceding six years. That letter confirms and slightly expands the account in the Autobiography, and strengthens our appreciation of two aspects of his education—its continued and indeed increasing intensity, and the fact that it was intermingled with daily Edition: current; Page: [xi] instruction of his younger siblings, especially of the two closest to him in age, Wilhelmina and Clara. In both these respects he was very unusual, especially when it is remembered that he had no formal education at all, his only teacher, in these early years, being his father, who was in truth using the child as a proving ground for his theories. (This wicked practice, it may be remarked, is found in all enlightened periods.) However, as Mill points out, his was not an education of cram; its great virtue, he believed, was that it enabled and encouraged him to think for himself, not only answering but questioning, not only getting but giving, not only remembering but discovering. This practice remained with him through life, and was connected with yet another distinguishing element: his curiosity and eagerness to learn. In the Autobiography this attribute is mentioned, although it surely tells against his assertion that anyone educated as he was could match his record. In the journal he kept while in France, his eagerness stands out as though in boldface, while one can read between the lines the efforts of his hosts, especially Lady Bentham, to prevent his doing lessons all the time.8

Probably the most extraordinary aspect of Mill’s precocity was his ability from about twelve to fifteen years of age to comprehend and enunciate abstract ideas in economics, and some parts of philosophy and science. Many gifted children astonish with feats of memory,9 with ability to learn languages, and, perhaps most obviously, with great mathematical powers; Mill had these talents, but also showed astonishing maturity in his wide-ranging discussions with his father and others, in his self-directed studies, in his comments on his more formal studies, and in the major surviving piece of contemporary evidence, the “Traité de logique” he wrote while in France. And, without extending the case unduly, his editing, before his twentieth year, of Bentham’s Rationale of Judicial Evidence (see the understated account on pp. 117-19 below) was a genuinely amazing feat.

In his account, of course, Mill, in keeping with his third purpose, is celebrating Edition: current; Page: [xii] not himself, but his father, and, despite the qualifications and explanations,10 it is a celebration, incorporating at least one memorable aphorism: “A pupil from whom nothing is ever demanded which he cannot do, never does all he can” (p. 35). Moving into the period of self-education, Mill, having learned his pedagogy, broadened his teaching to include others who were caught up in the Radicals’ increasing momentum,11 and one can be sure that at least the demand side of the aphorism was observed. We cannot now recapture all the detail—let alone the enthusiasm—of the activities he joined in with others, but what is known is remarkable.

The earliest joint venture was probably the “Mutual Improvement Society,” not mentioned in the Autobiography, which flowered at least briefly under Jeremy Bentham’s patronage.12 The date of Mill’s two surviving speeches for that Society, 1823 or 1824,13 suggests that in fact it may have melded with the “Utilitarian Society” that Mill says he founded in the winter of 1822-23 (p. 81); the latter also met in Bentham’s house, included Bentham’s amanuensis, Richard Doane, and convened once a fortnight to read essays and discuss questions of ethics and politics. This small group, which continued until 1826, included Mill’s most intimate friends, as did its successor, the “Society of Students of Mental Philosophy,” which met for detailed discussion of specific philosophic and economic texts in George Grote’s house from 1825 until early in 1828, and then again in 1829.14 In the mid-20s, emulating the philosophes, Mill kept a journal of his group’s activities, and wrote a few articles for a proposed Philosophical Dictionary Edition: current; Page: [xiii] to be edited by Charles Austin (see p. 110; the journal and articles seem not to have survived).

Another kind of mutual education, through propagation of the faith, was contemporaneous: public debate. First, in 1825, he and some friends15 debated against the Owenites of the Cooperative Society; then, from 1826 to 1829, they embarked on a more impressive scheme, the London Debating Society, in which the coming young men opened their minds and talents on major issues of the times.16 Less important were evening meetings to study elocution, and the formation of a class to learn German on the “Hamiltonian method.”17

Of greater significance in a wider sphere was the work done by the young Philosophic Radicals with their elders and mentors on the Westminster Review, founded in 1824 (see pp. 93-101), and on the Parliamentary History and Review during its brief career from 1826 to 1828 (p. 121), the latter year also seeing the Mills withdraw from the Westminster Review stable (p. 135). Throughout this period Mill’s practical education, the value of which he acknowledges on p. 87, was going on in the Examiner’s Office of the East India Company, which he had joined in 1823 on his seventeenth birthday. Finally, though the details are vague, one should not overlook the broad educational benefits of his less formal but undoubtedly strenuous and wide-ranging discussions with his friends on his daily walks between Kensington and the City, and his weekend and holiday excursions into the countryside. Even without analysis of his writings, one can wholeheartedly support his judgment that from 1822 to 1828 his “own pursuits . . . were never carried on more vigorously” (p. 89).18

Here one is moving to the second of Mill’s purposes, his desire to show “the successive phases” of a “mind which was always pressing forward, equally ready to learn and to unlearn either from its own thoughts or from those of others” (p. 5). The least precise of the three goals, it nonetheless gets very careful attention in the next few chapters of the Autobiography, those dealing with the period from the Edition: current; Page: [xiv] time of his mental crisis in 1826-27 until 1840, when the Logic was virtually completed. He says that in his account of “these years of transition” he has mentioned only those of his “new impressions” which appeared then and later “to be a kind of turning points, marking a definite progress” in his mode of thought (p. 175). And he goes on to indicate that he was considering much more in those years than the account indicates. The nature and intensity of some of these considerations are to be seen in the literary essays in the present volume.

Many of the changes, these essays also imply, came through personal contact of the kind already suggested, as his circle of acquaintance broadened. The record of “successive phases” of his mind is, therefore, again seen to be intertwined with that of his debts, and so the second and third purposes are served together. Often his desire to acknowledge his intellectual debts is greater than his desire to trace his development, with the result, quite intentional on Mill’s part, that emphasis falls on certain aspects of his development at the expense of others. For example, the brief period of near withdrawal from his customary activities from 1828 to 1830 is left in shade, and little evidence is available elsewhere to fill in the picture. And the years of active political sectarianism in the London and Westminster Review, years that have troubled many who otherwise admire Mill (after all, he says he had already forsworn at least overt sectarianism [see pp. 115-17]), are excused by the plea of circumstance, inadequately described. Again—and from the perspective of the editors of this volume, quite regrettably—Mill gives little space to his writings for journals in the 1830s, and much of that concerns his mainly political leaders in the Examiner.

As mentioned above, one important change, Mill’s new aesthetic interest, is seen in his literary essays. In particular, they indicate the shift in thought following his distress over the effects of purely analytic methods, and point to the existence of what was not quite a school, or even a coterie, but certainly was a group quick to respond and to interact. The relief Mill found in Wordsworth’s poetry (pp. 149-53), and his related discovery of Shelley (a favourite of Harriet Taylor’s), as well as his love of music (almost unmentioned in the Autobiography),19 and his growing appreciation of drama, painting, and architecture, all had a part in inducing the aesthetic speculations found in these essays. Though they do not amount to an important theory, elements of them are of considerable value, and helped clarify for Mill both the place of emotion in individual lives and in the human sciences, and what he took to be his proper role in the “Art and Science of Life,” as “Scientist” or “Logician,” and not as “Artist” or “Poet.”20

Mill was markedly influenced by his new acquaintances, most significantly by Edition: current; Page: [xv] W. J. Fox’s circle of Unitarians,21 including Harriet and John Taylor, by Thomas Carlyle, and by John Sterling. Through Sterling (and perhaps through Cambridge friends of Charles Austin) Mill became acquainted with other of the Cambridge “Apostles,” and it is of more than passing significance that his reaching out for “radicals” of different kinds brought into the net of the London and Westminster Review some of these apparently incompatible, but equally enthusiastic proponents of a new order. When one considers the subjects and provenances of Mill’s articles in the present volume, the network of relations is evident: of those articles published in the 1830s, four of the five that appeared before 1835 were in Fox’s journal, the Monthly Repository (which in these years was Mill’s main organ for non-literary essays as well); all those after that date were in the London and Westminster under his own editorship. Not all the articles are actually reviews, but of those that are, two deal with William Bridges Adams, a protégé of Fox’s, who married Sarah Flower, the sister of Harriet Taylor’s closest friend (and Fox’s lover), Eliza. Browning also was a member of Fox’s circle, and only accident (see pp. xxxiii-xxxiv) prevented Mill’s review of his Pauline from appearing. Tennyson, Helps, Milnes, and Bulwer (see App. F, p. 604) were all Cambridge men, the first three Apostles. This evidence does not justify an accusation of puffery, though the reviews are favourable, but Mill can at least be seen as showing bias in his selection of subjects. And there is other evidence of his raising a wind. Exhalations include his placing, in the Examiner, reviews of Eliza Flower’s musical compositions,22 and complimentary notices of the Monthly Repository.23 In return, the Repository blew some kisses, mentioning as a new publication the pamphlet reprint of Mill’s “Corporation and Church Property,” and commenting, “ ‘Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest’ this little pamphlet, which is full of the marrow of a sound philosophy and morality.” In “Characteristics of English Aristocracy,” a review of Bulwer’s England and the English, there is praise for the appendices Mill contributed anonymously on Bentham and James Mill that might well normally have gone unnoticed. And there is an unambiguous (to the informed) reference to Mill: “The most accomplished and perfect logician we ever knew, has the best appreciation of the beautiful and the poetical.”24

In all ages, and even among the virtuous, manus manum lavat, and altruism may be a form of self-help. There were, in that age of excitement, when the old order (again) seemed to be passing away, many opportunities for the daring and enthusiastic young to air and share their views, and as Mill passed through his Edition: current; Page: [xvi] “successive phases” he joined in or was touched by the Philosophic Radicals of the 1820s, the Romantics, the Saint-Simonians, the Unitarians, the Cambridge Apostles, the new bureaucrats, the Philosophic Radicals of the 1830s; in some cases he was at or near the centre, in others on the periphery—but never was he to be ignored.

A change came, however. The last stage (on his account) was one in which he thought himself rejected by “society,” and in which, in any case, he rejected the society of most others. His relation with Harriet Taylor, a relation which they seem naïvely to have thought neither would nor should cause comment, resulted in their eventual isolation from all but a few, such as the Carlyles (and there was constant and increasing tension even with them). Mill’s account of his movement into maturity of opinion, then, ought to be seen also as a movement away from the influence of groups. He did not, it should be clear, go into intellectual solitude, for quite apart from the constant interchange of views with Harriet Taylor, he read and corresponded widely (for example with Auguste Comte). He was not, however, in an arena where the constant push-and-pull of allegiances, opinions, and events could initiate major fluctuations of belief. When, in the mid-1860s after his wife’s death and his retirement from the East India Company, the time did come for him to plunge into turbulent political waters, his general attitudes were indeed firm, though his expression of them in particular circumstances led some to believe him fickle. And at that time, as young men gathered round him—Bain, Cairnes, Fawcett, Morley, even Spencer—it was his influence on them that mattered, not theirs on him. And that tale he does not choose to tell.

The tale he does tell, right from the beginning of the Autobiography, as we have seen, is that of his third purpose: acknowledgment of his intellectual and moral debts, the importance of which justifies brief analysis. It is hard and indeed unwise to identify separately the elements that make up Mill’s accounts of his teachers and friends; there is some mention of their characters, some of their careers, and some of their writings, as well as of their relations with Mill, and all these matters bear on one another. Also, a few people of obvious importance are mentioned almost in passing,25 one may infer because the exigencies of narrative did not easily permit of a fuller account. As has been argued, the tributes and assessments are entwined with the accounts of his education and the movement of his mind; nonetheless, if we look simply at the main emphasis of passages, almost one-third of the final version is given generally to an account of his debts. (A considerably higher proportion is found in the Early Draft, which includes, inter alia, longer passages on Roebuck and Sarah Austin and necessarily excludes the narrative of the final Edition: current; Page: [xvii] years.) The relative weighting is interesting. Ignoring all those of less than one-half page in length, one finds:

TABLE 2
Tribute to and discussion of App. no. of pages Tribute to and discussion of App. no. of pages
26 In the Early Draft; about three pages were removed in the final revision.
27 In the Early Draft; the passage was removed in the final revision.
James Mill 19½ Charles Austin
Harriet Taylor Mill 14 Carlyle
Roebuck 426 Sarah Austin 127
John Austin 3 Sterling 1
Comte 3 Maurice 1
Wordsworth Helen Taylor 1
Bentham 2 Hare 1
Saint-Simonians 2 Black
Tocqueville 2 Grote ½

Such computation (which ignores the strength as well as the kind of comment) does rough justice to Mill’s account; but he himself is not even-handed. Given other evidence, including Mill’s writings, no one is likely to challenge the placing of his father and his wife at the head of the list of those who influenced him. The kind of influence and its effect are perhaps moot, especially in the case of his wife, but one can easily accept his estimate of their weights. Mill says his conscience spoke to him in his father’s voice (p. 613); there can be no doubt that there was a literal transference of this function to Harriet Taylor after James Mill’s death in 1836, if not before, and only a little that Helen Taylor played a speaking role after her mother’s death in 1858.28 There is no room here for essays on these extraordinary relations; our comment is only that they were, certainly from a psychological point of view, as important as Mill indicates.

About others, though, some caveats concerning Mill’s judgment must be entered. His attitude to his mother has caused speculation: not mentioned in the Autobiography, she is given, in isolated comments of a derogatory kind, almost all of which were cancelled, only about one-half page in the Early Draft. When he began that draft, Mill was excessively, indeed petulantly, angry at his family because of what he (and/or Harriet) took to be their slighting response to his marriage; in revision, he at least moved from derogation to silence. It is likely that his mother and his siblings did not “influence” him, using the word as he intends it, but one may well regret the attitude and the omission. At the very least it is odd that a strong feminist, writing under the correcting eye of an equally strong feminist, should have given himself but a single parent in the opening narrative sentence of Edition: current; Page: [xviii] his autobiography: “I was born in London, on the 20th of May 1806, and was the eldest son of James Mill, the author of The History of British India” (p. 5).

Other questions can here only be asked:29 if John Austin gets (deservedly) three pages, surely Bentham deserves more than two, and George Grote more than one-half—and what of Harriet Grote? Wordsworth merits at least the treatment he receives, but where then is Coleridge? (The answer lies partly, but only partly, in the discussion of the “Coleridgeans,” Sterling and Maurice.) Does not Tocqueville, whose influence, curiously enough, is not acknowledged at all in the Early Draft, deserve as much space as Comte (even if we admit that much of the three pages devoted to the latter is given to denial of influence)? Surely Carlyle, whatever Mill’s later judgments, had more influence than Roebuck (who was on his own admission a pupil of Mill’s)—and, again, where is Jane Carlyle? Could he not have mentioned his colleagues in the East India House, such as Thomas Love Peacock? The questions pile up, and answers implying the deliberate downplaying of friendships, or the desire to avoid comment on those alive to read the account, do not seem adequate. Of greater relevance are Mill’s and his wife’s attitudes to the people discussed and the exigencies of narrative and of thesis: the case he is making does not require equal or absolute justice, and a story—even one the author claims to be devoid of interesting episode—militates against judgmental balance. One certainly may regret that Mill’s denigration of self led him to the purposes he thought proper, and so to exclude much that other autobiographers, many of them of narrower experience and less insight, delight us with. But his judgment should be respected. Although his mind, his life, and his career have an interest beyond the significance he attached to them, in developing his stated purposes Mill faithfully adheres to his contract with the reader for whom “these pages were . . . written.”

The Autobiography stands alone among Mill’s book-length works in the abundance of MS materials that have survived.30 We have no fewer than three complete MSS—Mill’s original draft, a revised MS also in his hand, and a transcript of the whole—as well as a four-page piece of holograph draft independent of the other MSS. The three complete MSS were among the collection of letters and papers owned after Mill’s death by Helen Taylor, bequeathed by her to her niece Mary Taylor, and sold at auction in 1922 by the executors of the latter’s estate. They are Edition: current; Page: [xix] listed together, “a large parcel,” as lot 720 (third day) in Sotheby’s sale catalogue of 27-29 March, 1922: “Mill (John Stuart) Auto. MS. of his Autobiography upwards of 220 pp. 4to; with an earlier draft of the same in his hand, and a copy, mostly in the hand of Helen Taylor, with the suppressed passages.” The lot went for £5 5s. to Maggs Bros., who resold the MSS separately.

Early Draft. The “earlier draft” was purchased from Maggs in 1923 by Jacob H. Hollander, Professor of Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University, who kept it until his death in 1940, after which it was stored for nearly two decades in a Baltimore warehouse. In 1958 it was acquired with the rest of Hollander’s library by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More than just “earlier,” it is in fact the original draft of the Autobiography, consisting of 169 leaves all told—139 leaves constituting the first finished version of the work plus thirty leaves of rejected text retained together at the end of the draft. Written in the late months of 1853 and the early months of 1854 (see below on this and other datings), the MS contains a complete account, as Mill then would have given it, of his life up to his marriage in 1851. The paper is apparently that used in the East India Company office where Mill worked, half-sheets of white laid foolscap measuring c. 33.6 × 20.8 cm., with either a Britannia watermark (on about half the leaves, irregularly throughout) or one of three countermarks: “Stacey Wise 1849,” “C Ansell 1851,” and “C Ansell 1852.” Mill wrote in ink, generally on both sides. Before beginning a leaf, he folded it once lengthwise, to divide each page into two long halves c. 10.4 cm. wide;31 he originally composed only in the right-hand half, saving the space at left for his revisions and for corrections, comments, and other markings by his wife.

Columbia MS. The second of the complete MSS (to take them in the order in which they were written), the “Auto. MS.” of the description in Sotheby’s catalogue, was bought from Maggs by Professor John Jacob Coss, acting for members of the Department of Philosophy at Columbia who presented it to the Columbia University Library in April, 1923. This MS consists of 210 leaves (not counting those left blank by Mill or used as wrappers) measuring c. 26 × 21.5 cm. The first 162 leaves, medium blue paper sewn in twenty-leaf gatherings marked A through I (with the initial leaf of A and the last seventeen leaves of I left blank) and containing either a fleur-de-lis watermark or the countermark “Weatherley 1856,” constitute a revised version of the Early Draft text plus a three-page continuation, the text of 247.35-251.9 below. This part of the MS was written in 1861. The remaining forty-eight leaves, a gathering marked K and made up of twenty-four sheets of darker blue (unwatermarked) paper folded separately and Edition: current; Page: [xx] unsewn, represent—except for text taken over from the Yale fragment (see below)—the first and only draft of the rest of the Autobiography, written in the winter of 1869-70.

Rylands transcript. The third of the MSS sold at Sotheby’s, the “copy, mostly in the hand of Helen Taylor, with the suppressed passages,” went to an unknown English buyer, and was lost sight of until July, 1959, when it was discovered in the London salerooms of Messrs. Hodgson and acquired by the John Rylands Library, Manchester. Consisting of 282 leaves of various kinds and sizes of paper, the transcript was made mainly or entirely in the months just after Mill’s death by three writers—Helen Taylor, Mill’s youngest sister Mary Elizabeth Colman, and an unidentified French copyist. It is from this MS that the first edition of the work (1873) was printed, and the “descent” of the text is thus simple and straightforward: Mill revised, recopied, and continued his original version (Early Draft) in the Columbia MS; Helen Taylor and her helpers copied the Columbia text in the Rylands transcript; and the work was set in type from the Rylands transcript.

Yale fragment. In addition to these complete MSS, Mill’s first draft of the present 251.18-259.21, the “Note . . . concerning the participation of my wife in my writings” given below beginning on p. 250, is extant at Yale. This is written on the four pages of a folded sheet of bluish-gray wove paper, page size c. 25.8 × 20.2 cm. The MS bears the pencil date “[1861]” in the hand of a twentieth-century scholar or archivist, but the basis for this dating is not clear. Mill could have drafted the note any time between the completion of the Early Draft, in 1854, and the writing of the last part of the work in 1869-70. The tenses, the tone, and the mention of On Liberty as a “book” (pp. 256-8) strongly suggest that it was composed no earlier than 1859, after his wife’s death and the publication of On Liberty, and probably after 1861, because it was not included in the continuation of the Early Draft written at that time.

In his surviving letters Mill first mentions the Early Draft on 23 January, 1854, four days after recording in a diary entry his bitterness at having “procrastinated in the sacred duty of fixing in writing, so that it may not die with me, everything that I have in my mind which is capable of assisting the destruction of error and prejudice and the growth of just feelings and true opinions.”32 Replying to a letter now lost, he writes to his wife:

I too have thought very often lately about the life & am most anxious that we should complete it the soonest possible. What there is of it is in a perfectly publishable state—as far as writing goes it could be printed tomorrow—& it contains a full writing out as far as anything can write out, what you are, as far as I am competent to describe you, & what I owe to you—but, besides that until revised by you it is little better than unwritten, it contains nothing about our private circumstances, further than shewing that there was intimate friendship for many years, & you only can decide what more it is necessary or desirable to Edition: current; Page: [a] Edition: current; Page: [xxi] say in order to stop the mouths of enemies hereafter. The fact is there is about as much written as I can write without your help & we must go through this together & add the rest to it at the very first opportunity—I have not forgotten what she said about bringing it with me to Paris.33

lf0223-01_figure_001.jpg

Folio 1r of the Early Draft MS

University of Illinois

He discusses the subject at length again on 10 February:

I . . . have read through all that is written of the Life—I find it wants revision, which I shall give it—but I do not well know what to do with some of the passages which we marked for alteration in the early part of it which we read together. They were mostly passages in which I had written, you thought, too much of the truth or what I believe to be the truth about my own defects. I certainly do not desire to say more about them than integrity requires, but the difficult matter is to decide how much that is. Of course one does not, in writing a life, either one’s own or another’s, undertake to tell everything—& it will be right to put something into this which shall prevent any one from being able to suppose or to pretend, that we undertake to keep nothing back. Still it va sans dire that it ought to be on the whole a fair representation. Some things appear to me on looking at them now to be said very crudely, which does not surprise me in a first draft, in which the essential was to say everything, somehow, sauf to omit or revise afterwards. As to matters of opinion & feeling on general subjects, I find there is a great deal of good matter written down in the Life which we have not written anywhere else, & which will make it as valuable in that respect (apart from its main object) as the best things we have published. But of what particularly concerns our life there is nothing yet written, except the descriptions of you, & of your effect on me; which are at all events a permanent memorial of what I know you to be, & (so far as it can be shewn by generalities) of what I owe to you intellectually. That, though it is the smallest part of what you are to me, is the most important to commemorate, as people are comparatively willing to suppose all the rest. But we have to consider, which we can only do together, how much of our story it is advisable to tell, in order to make head against the representations of enemies when we shall not be alive to add anything to it. If it was not to be published for 100 years I should say, tell all, simply & without reserve. As it is there must be care taken not to put arms into the hands of the enemy.34

Taken together, the two letters show (1) that an early form of the draft, including at least the first eight leaves of the original Part II,35 largely unrevised since it was first written but nevertheless “in a perfectly publishable state,” was finished by 23 Edition: current; Page: [xxii] January, 1854; (2) that Mill and his wife had read an “early part of it” together, marking passages for alteration (those extracted in App. G from R23-5, and possibly Mill’s subsequent revisions of them—in R242-252 and R19/20, also marked by her—are more or less specifically mentioned in the second letter); but (3) that she had not yet read any portion of the original Part II, in which she and their relationship are described. Up to this point, therefore, there were at least two periods of composition—one in which he wrote the early part that they read and marked together, the other in which he continued writing in her absence.

We have, unfortunately, virtually no biographical documents for the first two years of their marriage, after they had returned from the Continent and settled at Blackheath Park in September, 1851. In August, 1853, Mill took his wife to Sidmouth, Devonshire, returning to London alone on the 23rd—the first time since the marriage that they had been separated. He remained in London through much of September, and then, on the advice of their physicians, accompanied his wife to Nice. When his three-month leave of absence from the India House had expired, he left her at Hyères, on 27 or 28 December, and arrived back in London on 5 January.

It is unlikely that he worked on the draft between 5 and 23 January (the date of the first letter quoted above). On his return he was occupied with official correspondence that had accumulated in his absence, and of his own work he was primarily concerned with the essay on “Nature.” He told his wife on 14 January:

I am working hard at getting up the arrear of India house business & have taken some of it home to work at tomorrow (Sunday). I hardly feel well or vigorous enough to set about any work of our own yet on Sundays & in the evenings—when I do the first thing shall be to finish the rewriting of the paper on Nature, which I began before we left.36

Moreover, the tone of his letter of 23 January (“I too have thought very often lately about the life”) does not suggest that he has been writing. What seems most probable, if we assume that he began the draft in London, perhaps even (as he did with other works) during office hours at the India House when correspondence lagged, is that he commenced writing earlier than August, 1853; that he and his wife read and marked the early part (at least the first twenty-five leaves, through the first extract given in App. G) before going to Devonshire in that month; and that he continued writing, through at least the first eight leaves of the original Part II, in the August-September interval of separation, before joining her for their sojourn in France. A large part of the draft, the “publishable” version described in the letter of 23 January, 1854, should therefore be dated earlier than 24 September, 1853, the date on which they left England together.

On 13 February, 1854, still planning to join his wife in Paris, Mill again mentions bringing the draft with him, and adds:

But if we are not to be together this summer it is doubly important to have as much of the life Edition: current; Page: [xxiii] written as can be written before we meet—therefore will you my own love in one of your sweetest letters give me your general notion of what we should say or imply respecting our private concerns. As it is, it shews confidential friendship & strong attachment ending in marriage when you were free & ignores there having ever been any scandalous suspicions about us.37

To his earlier letter of the 10th she replied on 14-15 February:

I feel sure dear that the Life is not half written and that half that is written will not do. Should there not be a summary of our relationship from its commencement in 1830—I mean given in a dozen lines. . . . This ought to be done in its genuine truth and simplicity—strong affection, intimacy of friendship, and no impropriety. It seems to me an edifying picture for those poor wretches who cannot conceive friendship but in sex—nor believe that expediency and the consideration for feelings of others can conquer sensuality.38

While her letter was en route Mill wrote to her again on the 18th that he was “most anxious at present about the Life, but . . . can do little in the way of addition to it till I hear from her,”39 and a diary entry of 19 February implies further concern with the life: “Goethe . . . [called] his autobiography, which tells just as much about himself as he liked to be known, ‘Aus meinem Leben Dichtung und Wahrheit.’ The Aus even without the Dichtung saves his veracity.”40 Finally on the 20th, having received her letter, he was able to report some progress in the work:

As to the Life—which I have been revising & correcting—the greater part, in bulk, of what is written consists of the history of my mind up to the time when your influence over it began—& I do not think there can be much objectionable in that part, even including as it does, sketches of the character of most of the people I was intimate with—if I could be said to be so with any one. I quite agree in the sort of résumé of our relationship which you suggest—but if it is to be only as you say a dozen lines, or even three or four dozen, could you not my own love write it out your darling self & send it in one of your precious letters—It is one of the many things of which the fond would be much better laid by you & we can add to it afterwards if we see occasion.41

On 5 February Mill had finished rewriting “Nature”; on 5 March, having caught up with India House correspondence, he began writing “Utility of Religion.”42 Between those dates, and especially around 20 February, when we have seen him “revising & correcting,” he read over and revised the whole of the draft he had written in 1853, and it was probably then also that he finished writing the original Part II. Professor Levi is surely right in suggesting that a passage from Harriet Mill’s letter of 14-15 February (“strong affection, intimacy of friendship . . . an edifying picture for those poor wretches who cannot conceive friendship but in sex—nor believe that expediency and the consideration for feelings of others can Edition: current; Page: [xxiv] conquer sensuality”) is echoed in Mill’s account of their relationship in the twentieth leaf of Part II:

our relation to each other was one of strong affection and confidential intimacy, entirely apart from sensuality. . . . we disdained, as every person not a slave of his animal appetites must do, the abject notion that the strongest and tenderest friendship cannot exist between a man and a woman without a sensual tie; or that sensuality cannot be put aside when regard for the feelings of others, or even when only prudence and personal dignity require it.43

She did not otherwise send him the account he requested, for of the numbered series of Mill’s letters to her all but one—a short letter addressed to Marseilles on 13 March—are extant between 20 February and the middle of April, and there are but two subsequent references to the work during the period. On 24 February he writes: “we must do what we can while we are alive—the Life being the first thing—which independent of the personal matters which it will set right when we have made it what we intend, is even now an unreserved proclamation of our opinions on religion, nature, & much else.”44 The gist of the first part of this statement is repeated in a letter of 20 March: “above all I am anxious about the Life, which must be the first thing we go over when we are together.”45

Harriet Mill returned to London in the middle of April, and it must have been either then or shortly afterward—“the Life being the first thing”—that she read and “improved” the remainder of the draft. Though no useful terminal date for Mill’s subsequent corrections can be assigned with certainty, it seems most reasonable to suppose that he revised and rewrote the leaves of Part II before departing for a six-week tour of Brittany in June-July, 1854, and certainly before setting out on his extended tour of France, Italy, and Greece, 8 December, 1854-late June, 1855, during which he was separated from his wife for nearly seven months.

The Early Draft is a heavily worked over MS, with cancellations and interlined revisions on nearly every page, and a great many additional passages written and rewritten at left. Mill foliated the MS in pencil, and most of the leaves show evidence of having been renumbered one or more times as additional leaves were inserted, passages reordered, and revised leaves substituted for earlier ones. The principal additions and rearrangements are reported in notes to the Early Draft text and in headnotes to the extracts given in Appendix G. The most interesting of Mill’s large-scale changes has to do with his early intention to divide the work into two parts, the first covering his life before he met Harriet Taylor, and “Part II,” beginning with his “first introduction to the lady whose friendship has been the honour and blessing of my existence.” Possibly because he wished to bring her in at an earlier point in his account (after his writings of 1832, rather than, as originally, after his writings of 1834 and Molesworth’s proposal in that year to Edition: current; Page: [xxv] establish the London and Westminster Review), perhaps also because the two parts were of considerably disproportionate lengths (121 vs. 24 leaves). Mill rearranged several paragraphs, condensed the first eight leaves of Part II to three and a half, and discarded the two-part division altogether (see pp. 616-17 below).

Except possibly for the revised leaves that replaced the rejected leaves of the original Part II and the ending of Part I, Harriet Mill read the entire MS, marking passages with lines, X’s, and question marks beside the text, deleting and sometimes rewriting Mill’s sentences, here and there commenting in the space at left; and Mill followed many of her suggestions and accepted most of her pencilled alterations by rewriting them in ink. A sizable proportion of her markings are editorial in character, calling attention to wordiness, vagueness, inaccuracy of expression, repetition of word or phrase, and the like “minuter matters of composition” (see p. 255); but she was also the originator of some major changes in the texture and tone of the work. In response to her markings Mill suppressed personal and family details that, had they been retained, would have made the Autobiography a warmer, if often more critical document, and she exerted extensive influence on the several versions in which he attempted to describe his practical deficiencies (see pp. 608-11) and on the account he wrote of their relations in the original Part II. While “HTM” appears frequently in the textual apparatus, the notes report only the most significant of her markings and alterations, and do not adequately convey the pervasiveness of her pencil in the MS.46

Mill returned to the work sometime in 1861, two or three years after the death of his wife, and on this occasion wrote the first 162 leaves of the Columbia MS, the text from the beginning through the present 251.9.47 Most of this, of course, was revision rather than initial composition—the “second writing” that Mill refers to in describing the “double redaction” method by which “all my books have been composed” (see pp. 229-31)—but, although the Early Draft on which it was based is itself, in its final stage, a highly finished piece of writing, the new version is substantially different. Between the Early Draft and the corresponding text of the Edition: current; Page: [xxvi] Columbia MS there are some 2,600 substantive differences, large and small (the figure is offered simply as a rough indication of the frequency of revision; the alteration of a single word counts as one substantive change, and the omission or addition of an entire paragraph or more also counts as one). The number and nature of the differences make impracticable the usual method of recording variants in this edition. We have, therefore, chosen to present the Early Draft and the Columbia MS as parallel texts on facing pages, with spacing adjusted to bring corresponding passages, as much as possible, opposite one another. As a result, blank spaces (and even whole blank pages) on one side or the other immediately call attention to the most extensive of the revisions. Some of the less obvious may be mentioned briefly.

With the distance gained by the passing of seven or more years since his writing of the Early Draft, Mill viewed the events of his life with increased detachment. He could now, for example, add a mitigating comparison to his description of heavy dejection during his mental crisis, by seeing it as like “the state . . . in which converts to Methodism usually are, when smitten by their first ‘conviction of sin,’ ” and go on, less dramatically. “In all probability my case was by no means so peculiar as I fancied it, and I doubt not that many others have passed through a similar state” (pp. 137, 145). This new objectivity dictated a number of changes by which earlier outbursts of egotism, contrasting strikingly with the characteristic self-effacement that marks much of the work, were deflated or restrained. Occasionally, for passages first written specifically about himself, Mill substituted generalization (compare the two versions of the concluding statement about Plato’s influence, pp. 24, 25); and many particulars of biographical detail were omitted in the revised account: his meeting with the Frenchmen Ternaux, Destutt de Tracy, Dunoyer, and others (p. 62), “emulation of a little manuscript essay of Mr. Grote” in attempting his first argumentative composition (p. 72), writing an early essay replying to Paley’s Natural Theology (p. 74), keeping a journal “on the model of Grimm’s Correspondence” and contributing three or four articles to a projected “Philosophical Dictionary, suggested by Voltaire’s” (p. 110), weekly evening meetings to study elocution (p. 126), his elaborate speech in reply to Thirlwall (p. 128), his enthusiastic admiration in response to Carlyle’s article on Johnson (p. 182), and so on. The revised life is less full, less varied in texture, than that of the Early Draft.

Here and there Mill toned down his recollections of family relationships and especially of his father. Indirect references to his mother, in speaking of his father’s “ill assorted marriage,” “to which he had not, and never could have supposed that he had, the inducements of kindred intellect, tastes, or pursuits” (pp. 52, 6), are charitably omitted. James Mill’s “authority and indignation” is rewritten as “displeasure” (pp. 14, 15); and the fact that he “often mockingly caricatured” his son’s bad reading aloud is discarded (p. 26), along with a number of other sentences and phrases of similar tendency (compare the summary comments Edition: current; Page: [xxvii] on the severity of his upbringing at 52.19-21 and 53.28-9). By changes of this sort, and the addition of several sentences comparing James Mill with Bentham (p. 213), the revised version comes considerably closer than the earlier to being, in the passages describing his father, a eulogy.48 The same access of charity is evident in recollections of associates outside his family. He cut out the greater part of his “character” of Roebuck (pp. 154-8), softened his critique of Maurice (pp. 160-1), rewrote his account of Sterling (pp. 162, 161), dropped a nasty paragraph on Sarah Austin (p. 186), and resorted to anonymity (“My father and I had hoped that some competent leader might arise; some man of philosophic attainments and popular talents”) in place of several sentences of harsh commentary on George Grote’s lack of courage, energy, and activity (pp. 202, 204-5).

The more formal and generalized character of the later version is continued in the last part that Mill wrote, the forty-eight leaves of the K gathering in the Columbia MS, containing the text of the work from the present 251.10 to the end. This was drafted in the winter of 1869-70.49 Mill presumably also gave the earlier part of the MS a final polish at this time (there are in this part a few interlineations and other alterations in darker ink than the rest); there is no evidence of any authoritative changes in the work after this date.50 At this point other hands take over, and the text deteriorates.

In a codicil to his will dated 14 February, 1872, Mill names Helen Taylor as his literary executor “with full and absolute power and license . . . to edit all or any of my literary works and to publish all or any of my manuscripts as she in her sole discretion may think fit.” He then specifically mentions the Autobiography:

And whereas in these days no one is secure against attempts to make money out of his memory by means of pretended biographies I therefore think it necessary to state that I have written a short account of my life which I leave to the absolute charge and controul of my said stepdaughter Miss Helen Taylor to be published or not at her will and discretion and in the event of her death in my lifetime to the charge and controul of William Thomas Thornton Edition: current; Page: [xxviii] [a longtime colleague of Mill’s at the India House] of No. 23 Queens Gardens Hyde Park Square on condition that he publishes the same within two years of my decease.

Mill died at Avignon on 7 May, 1873, and the will was proved in London on 5 September. By the latter date the Autobiography was already set in type and about to be printed.

Though Helen Taylor may have begun copying the Columbia MS in France before Mill’s death, the greater part of the Rylands transcript was made afterward, in the summer of 1873, when she was in England “pressing on as quickly as I am able” with the publication of the work, “having come to England for that purpose only.”51 In the last 236 leaves of the Rylands MS, which constitute about five-sixths of the whole, Helen Taylor and Mary Colman copied discontinuous sections of the Columbia MS simultaneously (the former doing Columbia MS gatherings B, E, G, H, I, and K, the latter doing C, D, and F), and there is further evidence of haste in the great number of errors in these leaves, and in the fact that although Helen Taylor here and there corrected and punctuated Mary Colman’s parts of the transcript, she clearly did not read them over entirely or attempt to prepare them in any thorough way for the press. Mary Colman’s pages of the transcript went to the printer with more than 1,200 variants from Mill’s text unaltered, including some 170 substantive variants—all of them errors, and many quite obvious. Altogether, when we add the considerably longer stretches copied by Helen Taylor and the twenty-three leaves at the beginning in the hand of the unidentified French copyist, the transcript has over 2,650 variants, including more than 450 substantives, from the MS that was its immediate source.

The Autobiography was published by Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, “8vo. price 7s. 6d.,” on 17 October, 1873.52 The most significant of the differences between the first printed text and that of the Columbia MS are (1) the omission of the first paragraph that Mill wrote when he took up the work again in 1869-70 (the present 251.10-17); (2) the rearrangement of the remaining nine paragraphs of transition between the 1861 and 1869-70 parts of the MS (247.35-251.9, 251.18-261.12) into the order 4-5, 1-3, 9, 6-8 (so that 1873 has, in Edition: current; Page: [xxix] succession, 251.18-257.32, 247.35-251.9, 261.8-12, 257.33-261.7); and (3) the excision of ten mostly short passages (563 words altogether) referring to Helen Taylor.53 In addition to these, there are some eighty other substantive differences of varying length and importance,54 and, as one would expect in comparing any MS text with a printed version, hundreds of differences in the accidentals of punctuation, spelling, capitalization, and word-division.

The evidence of rearranged and partly rewritten leaves in the Rylands MS shows that Helen Taylor originally copied all ten of Mill’s paragraphs beginning at 247.35 in their original order, and that she dropped 251.10-17 and rearranged the others as a revision in the transcript. The cancellation of the ten passages referring to herself, on the other hand, as the spaced asterisks replacing them in 1873 make clear, was done at proof stage.55 The rest of the substantive differences between the Columbia MS and the printed text represent errors and alterations originating in the Rylands transcript and then further changes made by the 1873 compositor and/or the proof-correctors. It is remarkable that only sixty of the more than 450 substantive errors in the Rylands transcript got into print. Someone—most likely Helen Taylor, but perhaps also Alexander Bain, who we know had a text of the work in hand in the weeks just before it was published—read proofs fairly carefully against the Columbia MS, and restored Mill’s wording in some 390 places. The first printed text could have been much worse.

The 1873 edition (reprinted many times in London and New York) remained the sole source of text until September, 1924, when the Columbia University Press issued Autobiography of John Stuart Mill Published for the First Time without Alterations or Omissions from the Original Manuscript in the Possession of Columbia University, with a Preface by John Jacob Coss (and, as the Preface explains, the “editorial work . . . undertaken by Mr. Roger Howson”). Considerably more faithful than the text of 1873, this nevertheless departs from readings of Mill’s MS in more than nine hundred particulars, including some seventy errors of Edition: current; Page: [xxx] wording and paragraphing, many of which originated in the Rylands transcript and 1873, on the latter of which Howson relied too much in his attempts to decipher Mill’s hand. It was, however (as it should have been), the standard edition for the next forty-five years, although, until the textual puzzles were untangled in the early 1960s, scholars and critics sometimes used another text also published in 1924, Harold J. Laski’s Oxford World’s Classics edition, which is an imperfect and unedited reprint of the first edition. The second twentieth-century text based on the Columbia MS is that in the Riverside paperback edited by Jack Stillinger (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1969). This improves on the accuracy of the 1924 Columbia edition in the nine hundred particulars just mentioned, and has been the most reliable text for the past decade. The third editing from the Columbia MS is that in the present volume. It corrects “their contraries” to “the contraries” at 53.1 (Mill wrote “their” but then deleted “ir”) and restores “given to the world” to Mill’s note at 253n.22 (words deleted by Helen Taylor’s pencil in the MS); otherwise it is substantively identical with the text published in 1969. In the present edition the reader can, as mentioned, compare at a glance this text with that of the Early Draft in various stages, aided by the editorial apparatus described later in this introduction.

LITERARY ESSAYS

this volume includes, in addition to the Autobiography, fourteen of Mill’s essays and reviews,56 and nine appendices. Only two of these articles were republished in Dissertations and Discussions (1859) in more or less complete form, “Thoughts on Poetry and Its Varieties” (the two-part essay in the Monthly Repository) and “Writings of Alfred de Vigny” (from the London and Westminster), but two more, “Aphorisms: Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd” and “Ware’s Letters from Palmyra” (both from the London and Westminster), are represented by extracts in Dissertations and Discussions. It might be argued that Mill did not, at least in 1859 when Dissertations and Discussions first appeared, believe many of these essays to be of major importance, and indeed by any standards some of them are Edition: current; Page: [xxxi] slight; however, a case can be made for each of those he chose to leave buried in periodicals, and a fortiori for the importance of his literary essays as a whole.

It would be perverse to argue, on the other hand, that Mill in middle life or later believed his literary articles to have the importance of those on economics, history, and politics (though a great many of the last were not reprinted by Mill); in this connection one should note that the essays in this volume span only the years 1824 to 1844, with all but four appearing in the 1830s, the period when he was most concerned to examine literary works and, as editor of the London and Westminster, was able to review them at will. They thus illustrate (without in themselves establishing) Mill’s movement from orthodox Philosophic Radicalism through a period of eclectic search to settled maturity.

“Periodical Literature: Edinburgh Review” represents the initial period, being in fact his first article in the newly-founded organ of the Philosophic Radicals, and indicating both in manner and content that the designated successor to Bentham and James Mill was coming out in the expected and proper fashion. The assurance, contempt, irony (particularly in the attacks on Brougham’s articles—anonymous, of course, but not to the initiate), and characteristic language (e.g., the demand for “securities”) all mark the author as a committed sectarian as surely as the argument that the governors must be accountable to the governed, and the insistence that the aristocracy and its organs are motivated by special (and therefore sinister) interests. That Mill later recognized these as signs of narrow sectarianism is indicated by his comment in the Autobiography: “The continuation of this article in the second number of the review was written by me under my father’s eye, and (except as practice in composition, in which respect it was, to me, more useful than anything else I ever wrote) was of little or no value” (p. 95n; see also p. 96k). It also, of course, was a continuation of his practised diligence (soon to be taxed in his editing of Bentham’s Rationale), especially when one notes that he had done the extensive research for his father’s impressive article as well as for his own. Though there are hints in the article of his individual views, it is not surprising that he chose not to republish it (in fact he republished none of his thirteen articles from the first dynasty of the Westminster, all of which have considerable interest and value). Alexander Bain’s comment is fair: most of the opinions in the article “were his father redivivus; yet, we may see the beginnings of his own independent start, more especially in the opinions with regard to women, and the morality of sex.”57

The next four essays, “On Genius,” “Thoughts on Poetry and Its Varieties,” and the two reviews of Junius Redivivus, all date from 1832 and 1833. They show Mill in the midst of his period of search, examining and enjoying the new perspectives and insights afforded by W. J. Fox and his circle, including Harriet Taylor, and by Thomas Carlyle, who, though certainly not a member of that group, knew them and discussed their ways and works in his extensive correspondence with Mill. Edition: current; Page: [xxxii] The first three of these essays appeared in Fox’s Monthly Repository, where Harriet Taylor was publishing poetry, and to which William Bridges Adams (“Junius Redivivus”) was contributing. Probably in response to a suggestion in conversation, Mill wrote to Fox on 3 April, 1832, to say that he would send along anything of his appropriate to the “design” of the Monthly Repository;58 “On Genius,” a response to an article in the Repository, was the first to appear, some six months later. Of it, and the three following pieces, Mill might equally well have noted that he was gaining practice in composition, though he had changed his model from James Mill to Carlyle. To the latter he commented on 17 September, 1832:

. . . I have written a rambling kind of article, in which many, I will not say great, but big things are said on a small occasion, namely in the form of strictures on a well-meaning but flimsy article which recently appeared in the Monthly Repository. . . . As for this article of mine, those who best know me will see more character in it than in anything I have ever published; other people will never guess it to be mine. You, I hope, will find all the three articles true, the only praise I covet, & certainly rarer than any other in our times. But in this last you will find many things which I never saw, or never saw clearly till they were shewn to me by you, nor even for some time after.59

The italicized words, “You” and “true,” match the article’s intensity, which clearly relates to his excitement over Carlyle’s rhetoric, as does the expression of emotional response, and also the Delphic evasiveness of such comments as that in the same letter: “You see I adhere to my system, which is to be as particular in the choice of my vehicles, as you are indiscriminate, & I think we are both right.” All of this mannerism he later repudiated (and he did not reprint “On Genius”), informing George Henry Lewes (probably late in 1840):

The “Genius” paper is no favorite with me, especially in its boyish stile. It was written in the height of my Carlylism, a vice of style which I have since carefully striven to correct & as I think you should do—there is too much of it in the Shelley. I think Carlyle’s costume should be left to Carlyle whom alone it becomes & in whom it would soon become unpleasant if it were made common—& I have seen as you must have done, grievous symptoms of its being taken up by the lowest of the low.60

The next item, “Thoughts on Poetry and Its Varieties,” is the republished form of two essays in the Monthly Repository (January and October, 1833), which show less hectically the same characteristics. (The version in Dissertations and Discussions, it may be interjected, reveals Mill’s awareness of the over-enthusiasm in the originals by removing italics in sixty-four places.) The first, “What Is Poetry?” was evidently written without thought of a sequel, in a rather tentative spirit, as befitted a venture into strange new lands. He sought guidance and reassurance Edition: current; Page: [xxxiii] from Carlyle on 27 December, 1832, saying he had written an essay for “Fox’s January number” that

attempts something much higher, and intrinsically more valuable, than all these writings on politics, but with far less success: it is not nearly so good of its kind, because I am not so well versed in the subject. It embodies some loose thoughts, which had long been floating in my mind, about Poetry and Art, but the result is not satisfactory to me and will probably be far less so to you—but you will tell me to what extent you think me wrong, or shallow. I wrote the paper from conviction (else it had never been written) but not from that strong conviction which forces to write: rather because I wished to write something for Fox, and thought there was a clearer field open for him in that direction than in the political one.61

And his doubts continued, as is evident in a letter to Carlyle (11 and 12 Apr., 1833) after the article appeared:

That last [“What Is Poetry?”] you promised me a careful examination and criticism of: I need it much; for I have a growing feeling that I have not got quite into the heart of that mystery, and I want you to shew me how. If you do not teach me you will do what is better, put me in the way of finding out. But I begin to see a not very far distant boundary to all I am qualified to accomplish in this particular line of speculation.62

During the course of the year, and in large measure because of actual and anticipated responses from Carlyle, Mill pushed his investigations further into the relation between Art and Philosophy (a question that was to resolve itself for him a decade later in Book VI of his Logic), into the value of his intellectual inheritance, and into examinations of new poets. The products were, in part, the comments on his father included in Bulwer’s England and the English (App. D below), the ill-fated review of Robert Browning’s Pauline (the surviving note for which is given in App. E below), and the beginnings of a review of Alfred Tennyson’s poems which resulted in both “The Two Kinds of Poetry” (the second part of “Thoughts on Poetry and Its Varieties”) and “Tennyson’s Poems.” The remarks on his father, which Mill repudiated as having been “cut and mangled and coxcombified” by Bulwer (see p. 589 below), should be seen in conjunction with the comments on Bentham that he also contributed to England and the English.63 In both he is respectful; the voice, however, is that of a broadening critic, not that of a narrow disciple. The independence is more obvious in the “review” of Pauline, which has received much comment from Browning scholars. One need only summarize briefly what is known: Pauline was published in March, and Mill, given a copy by W. J. Fox, wrote a review for the Examiner before the middle of May. It was judged too long for the Examiner, so Mill proposed to revise it for Tait’s. His summer months being busy, however, he had not made his revisions by August, when Tait’s published a dismissive review of the poem, and Mill withdrew Edition: current; Page: [xxxiv] his offer. The only surviving evidence of his views is found in the copy of Pauline which he returned to Fox. He, going against Mill’s suggestion, gave it to Browning, whose revisions of the poem reflect in part a reaction to Mill’s marginal comments. The fullest recording of these, with the note printed below as Appendix E, and Browning’s revisions, is in an article by William S. Peterson and Fred L. Standley.64 Some of the marginalia give evidence of Mill’s subjective reading of this highly subjective poem; for example, against

  • But then to know nothing—to hope for nothing—
  • To seize on life’s dull joys from a strange fear,
  • Lest, losing them, all’s lost, and nought remains

he wrote, “deeply true.”

When these other articles of 1833 are read with “The Two Kinds of Poetry,” one can see the “weaving anew” process mentioned in the Autobiography (p. 163), as Mill intertwines the warp of his learned associationism with the woof of new ideas about the use and value of emotion. The new insight he owed, in this case, to James Martineau’s “On the Life, Character, and Works of Dr. Priestley,”65 as he acknowledges on 26 May, 1835:

The last two pages of the concluding paper made an impression upon me which will never be effaced. In a subsequent paper of my own in the “Repository” headed “The Two Kinds of Poetry” (October, 1833) I attempted to carry out your speculation into some of those ulterior consequences which you had rather indicated than stated.66

And he goes on to assert his continued acceptance of at least part of his intellectual inheritance, in a way that was to become increasingly sure as he gained confidence in his new proceedings; he had, he told Carlyle, two articles in the Monthly Repository for October, 1833, one on Blakey, and the other

the little paper I told you I was writing in further prosecution of, or rather improvement on, the thoughts I published before on Poetry and Art. You will not find much in the first to please you; perhaps rather more in the second, but I fear you will think both of them too much infected by mechanical theories of the mind: yet you will probably in this as in many other cases be glad to see that out of my mechanical premisses I elicit dynamical conclusions. . . .67

It is not known what Mill thought of these speculations later—he merely refers to them as “the most considerable” of his contributions to the Monthly Repository Edition: current; Page: [xxxv] (p. 205)—but it is unquestionably significant that he included a carefully revised version in Dissertations and Discussions, the only such inclusions from his Repository articles (apart from a section of his review of Alison’s History).

Using the latest version from Mill’s lifetime as copy-text (the normal practice in this edition), we indicate the variants in earlier versions in footnotes. A study of these shows that the revisions can be seen to fall into four types: (1) alterations in opinion or fact, including major omissions, amplifications, or corrections of information; (2) alterations resulting from the time between writings, including changes in statement of fact consequent upon the passage of time and new publications; (3) alterations which qualify, emphasize, or give technical clarity; and (4) alterations which are purely verbal, or give semantic clarity, or result from shifts in word usage, and alterations in italicization. The changes here reveal several similarities to Mill’s practice in other reprinted essays: first, there is a large number, some 209 in all (or 6.5 per page of Dissertations and Discussions), as is common in the early essays reprinted by Mill; when less time intervened between the original form and the first revised form in 1859, fewer changes seemed necessary. Second, using the categories just described, one finds the order of frequency to be 4 (128 changes), 3 (58 changes), 1 (20 changes), and 2 (3 changes); by far the largest number (more than half) are of type 4.68 Third, very few of the changes (16 in all) were made for the 2nd ed. of Vols. I and II of Dissertations and Discussions (1867), and of these almost all were relatively trivial (12 involved the removal of italics that had survived the apparently thorough reduction of shrillness in 1859). It should be noted that while what, to modern taste, might seem to be excessive italicization appears in articles by others in the Monthly Repository, Mill’s usage in these articles went far beyond that journal’s norm. Finally, the non-substantive changes, like those in Mill’s other writings, generally parallel those of the substantives.69

Any selection of significant or even merely interesting variants will reflect subjective judgments, but, especially when seen in conjunction with the Autobiography and the other literary essays, it seems likely that most readers would attach importance to the long type 1 variants (p. 353s-s and p. 365a) that originally closed the separate essays. The former contains a comparison of French and Grecian (Modern and Ancient) artists (capped by a quotation from Carlyle), an account of beauty in painting, illustrated by Claude Lorraine and Salvator Rosa, Edition: current; Page: [xxxvi] and a passage on the weakness of modern architecture compared to the Classical and Gothic “tongues” which it “parrots” (here a quotation from Milton is used). The latter (with a quotation from Wordsworth) has a different kind of interest, explaining as it does (if again somewhat mysteriously) Mill’s use of the signature “Antiquus,” and by inference its successor, the simple “A” that he normally used in the London and Westminster Review.

An example of the few and slight type 2 changes may be seen in the deletion of “last summer” from the account of Mme Schröder-Devrient’s performance in Fidelio at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, in 1832 (p. 351q).

Probably the most easily identified characteristic of Mill’s revisions is the search for the properly weighted judgment, resulting in the qualifications that we count as type 3 changes. Most common are substitutions of a less extreme modifier: in 1859 “rarely” replaced “never” at p. 344j-j, and “commonly” replaced “always” at p. 364t-t. (See also the string of changes, pp. 359-60b-b tof.) A troublesome instance of scholarly obfuscation may be instanced: a description of poetry (in quotation marks) as “man’s thoughts tinged by his feelings” is ascribed by Mill to “a writer in Blackwood’s Magazine”; in 1859 he says, bluntly, “He defines” it as such; but in 1833 he had said, “We forget his exact words, but in substance he defined” (p. 348i-i)—he almost certainly refers to John Wilson, who used similar phrases (especially after Mill wrote these words), but no such definition has been located by us. Perhaps Mill was simply seeking a more positive persona, as in a similar change where “We believe that whenever” is strengthened to just “Whenever” (p. 362j-j). There are also some that remind one of the circumstances relating to the composition: at p. 364w-w Mill in 1833 placed the “logician-poet” above the “mere poet”; “logician” was the term he used at the time in contrasting himself with Carlyle the “poet”; in 1859 the higher talent was assigned to the “philosopher-poet”—not, it should be said, with any self-reference.

While the type 4 changes are most trivial as well as most common, they have a cumulative effect (as in the removal of italics already cited, with which may be compared the removal of exclamation marks at, e.g., p. 363o-o). Also some have special or typical interest, not infrequently of a slightly puzzling kind. For instance, at p. 347b-b, when Mill, referring to the powers of the imagination, altered “arranged in the colours and seen through the medium” to “seen through the medium and arrayed in the colours,” had his attention been caught by what may well be a printer’s misreading of his hand (“arranged” for “arrayed”) which led him to reconsider the temporal or logical priority of the two clauses?70

The final two essays in this group, the parallel reviews in 1833 of The Producing Edition: current; Page: [xxxvii] Man’s Companion by W. B. Adams, were published in April (Monthly Repository) and June (Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine)—that is, in the period between the two essays on poetry. The one in Tait’s, though it appeared later, was written and submitted before the one in the Monthly Repository, being proposed by Mill in a letter to William Tait of 23 January, 1833:

I shall probably send you, in time for your March number, a short review of an excellent book, the Producing Man’s Companion, by Junius Redivivus—whom I think the very best popular writer whom the enlightened radicals count in their ranks—though I like his personal articles in the Examiner less than the many admirable papers he has written in the True Sun, Mechanics Magazine & various other periodicals.71

The article went to Tait on 28 February, with Mill’s comment: “I send you a paper on Junius Redivivus, for your Magazine, in case you think it worthy of insertion.”72 He also mentioned it to Carlyle in a letter of 3 March, saying that he was forwarding a copy of the book to him.73 Some implications in the review evidently gave Tait doubts, which Mill attempted to assuage on 30 March:

With respect to the article on Junius Redivivus, I myself have not made up my mind on the question whether the situation of the working classes is on the whole better or worse than it was: I worded the article so as if possible not to commit the Magazine to a decided opinion, but I thought the testimony of a writer who evidently knows much of the working people, an article of evidence very fit to be received, though not sufficient to decide the question. Could not you let the article stand as it is, and express your dissent from the opinion of J. R. in an editorial note? If not, I should like to see the article again before it is printed; not from any fear that you should “spoil” the article, but because when anything is to be left out, a writer almost always thinks it necessary that something else should be put in.

As to the matter of fact in dispute I feel convinced from the great diversity of opinion among equally good observers, & from the result of the enquiries of the Poor Law Commission, that the truth varies very much in different parts of the kingdom & among different classes of workmen.

Are there any other parts of the article which you object to?74

Tait’s reservations may have delayed publication, but in any case almost a month earlier, indeed on 1 March, the day after he had sent his review to Tait, Mill said to W. J. Fox: “I will write a short paper for the next M.R. on Junius Redivivus.”75 This he produced with his usual dispatch, commenting to Carlyle in a letter of 11-12 April:

Tait has not yet published that paper on Junius Redivivus, but in the meantime I have written another on the same subject for Fox, (a much better one as I think), which has appeared in the April number, and . . . you shall have it by the first opportunity.76

Edition: current; Page: [xxxviii]

Before the “first opportunity” had arrived, Carlyle had seen a quoted passage that prompted him to think that, just as he had detected a new mystic (that is, a promising disciple) in Mill’s anonymous articles on the Spirit of the Age in the Examiner, so here he had found another.77 Mill, saying on 18 May that he has finally sent a copy, adds: “The passage you saw quoted about Books and Men, was from that; so there is not evidence therein of ‘another mystic’; so much the worse.”78

The brief notice of Views in the Pyrenees, which is not mentioned by Mill in extant correspondence or in the Autobiography, also appeared in 1833 in the Monthly Repository. Though slight, it shows his continued enthusiasm for mountain views; one recalls his remark that the powerful effect of Wordsworth on him was in part the result of Wordsworth’s setting much of his poetry in mountains, which, says Mill, “owing to my early Pyrenean excursion, were my ideal of natural beauty” (p. 151). Though we have no evidence to support the assertion, it seems not unlikely that Mill chose to notice the book, rather than having it given to him for review merely by accident.

The next five essays have a common source: all appeared in the journal edited by Mill, the London Review (later the London and Westminster Review). As might be expected when he was his own editor, they are more assured and independent. This tone is also seen, even when mixed with apology, in Mill’s editorial notes for the review, printed in Appendix F below.79 These help us see Mill in his editorial Edition: current; Page: [xxxix] role, though it seems that Alexander Bain overstates the case in saying that the review “abounds in editorial caveats, attached to the articles: [Mill’s] principle of seeing partial truth on opposite sides was carried out in this form.”80 There can be no question, however, about their casting more light on his friendships with Sterling and Carlyle, and on his running battle with Abraham Hayward.81

Mill’s first major literary essay in his own journal was the review of Tennyson (1835), which has links with the preceding years: as we have already mentioned, “The Two Kinds of Poetry” was first conceived as the prelude to a notice of Tennyson. Had such a notice appeared in 1833, what has been recognized as Mill’s early appreciation of Tennyson’s poems would have been even more remarkable. His view was enthusiastic: in a letter to J. P. Nichol he ranked them as “the best poems . . . which have appeared since the best days of Coleridge.”82 As is typical of him, impressions were retained: a particular view, he wrote to his wife twenty years later, is “as one fancies the valley in Tennyson’s Oenone, only that there is no forest or turf here”; Francis Mineka notes that Mill had quoted in his review the lines from “Oenone” beginning, “There is a vale in Ida.”83

Though Mill chose, regrettably and for unknown reasons, not to include his review of Tennyson in Dissertations and Discussions, the next three items from the London and Westminster were represented there, though, in one case, only by the opening and, in another, by the closing paragraphs. That is, the “review” parts were deleted, leaving the generalized comments appropriate to an exordium and a peroration. The subject of the first of these reviews, Arthur Helps’s Thoughts in Edition: current; Page: [xl] the Cloister and the Crowd, was another book that Mill held in more than a reviewer’s regard. According to Alexander Bain,

This [review] was another occasion when [Mill] displayed his passion for discerning and encouraging the first indications of talent and genius. I remember when I first came to London, this was one of the books he lent me; and we agreed that, in point of thinking power, Helps had not fulfilled the promise of that little work.84

Mill seems to have pondered the subject for almost a year, for he told Nichol just after the article appeared that it “was all prepared last spring, though I had not put any of it on paper.”85 As usual, when he put pen to paper, the ink flowed easily and quickly: “I have stolen in the last two days, time to begin a little article for the review & a day or two more will finish it.”86 Helps gave Mill one of those fine moments of gratification for reviewers when he let Mill know, over thirty years later, that his had been a word in season. Mill replied:

If, as you intimate, my review of your first publication had any share in procuring for the world the series of works which I & so many others have since read with so much pleasure & instruction; far from regarding this exploit of mine as a sin to be repented of, I should look upon it as a fair set off against a good many sins.87

No detailed comment is needed on the revisions Mill made in the reprinted paragraphs, the discussion on pp. xxxv-xxxvi above being intended to cover the general issues and types. It may be noted, however, that there are comparatively few changes, only 12, or 2.4 per page of Dissertations and Discussions,88 all of them type 3 or type 4, and all but 2 made in 1859.

“Ware’s Letters from Palmyra” is not mentioned in any of Mill’s extant correspondence or in the Autobiography. The novel, published in the United States, was probably first brought to his attention by its mention (which he quotes to open his review) in Harriet Martineau’s Society in America. Here again there are few variants (7, or 2.3 per page of Dissertations and Discussions, each made in 1859), all of which are minor.89

Mill’s review of Alfred de Vigny’s Œuvres, which appears in Dissertations and Discussions, less only the summary and running comment on Cinq Mars (p. 474c), is his last major attempt, in Bain’s words, “to philosophize upon Literature and Poetry.”90 Though we have only two comments on it by Mill, they indicate Edition: current; Page: [xli] why he thought it was worth reprinting, and also show how he saw it in relation to his earlier essays. In the Early Draft he remarks that of his literary essays, “the one which contained most thought” was that on Vigny (p. 224). And in a letter of February, 1841, to George Henry Lewes, he says:

You have not however yet convinced me that the line between poetry, & passionate writing of any kind, is best drawn where metre ends & prose begins. The distinction between the artistic expression of feeling for feeling’s sake & the artistic expression of feeling for the sake of compassing an end, or as I have phrased it between poetry & eloquence, appears to me to run through all art; & I am averse to saying that nothing is poetry which is not in words, as well as to saying that all passionate writing in verse is poetry. At the same time I allow that there is a natural, not an arbitrary relation between metre & what I call poetry. This is one of the truths I had not arrived at when I wrote those papers in the Repository but what afterwards occurred to me on the matter I put (in a very condensed form) into the concluding part of an article in the L. & W. on Alfred de Vigny. I wish you would look at that same when you have time, (I will shew it to you) & tell me whether what I have said there exhausts the meaning of what you say about the organic character of metre, or whether there is still something further which I have to take into my theory.91

A glance at the revisions in this article helps establish the generalization offered above, that the later the date of an essay (this appeared in 1838), the less rewriting was needed: here there are 132 substantive changes, or 3.1 per page of Dissertations and Discussions (as against 6.5 per page for “Thoughts on Poetry and Its Varieties” of 1833).92 Once again no extensive treatment of the variants is called for. As usual, the order of frequency is type 4, type 3, type 1, type 2, with more than half being type 4,93 and more than a third type 3; and very few changes were made in 1867 (7 of 132).94

The last essay in this group from the London and Westminster is Mill’s first review (Aug., 1838) of Richard Monckton Milnes. It would appear again that he was searching out good material for the Review, for the first issues of Milnes’s two books (later in the year published as Milnes’s Poems, Vols. I and II) were rather elusive. In the review, it will be noted, Mill says one of the volumes “was not Edition: current; Page: [xlii] designed for publication, and the other is not yet published” (p. 505). Editorial consultation led him to write to Leigh Hunt on 11 November, 1838:

Robertson tells me you have a copy of Mr. Milnes’ volume of poems: if you are not needing it for a day or two, would it be too much to beg the favour of a sight of it? Something relating to the next number of the Review may depend upon the opinion we form of it—if left at Hooper’s or sent by omnibus or parcel company to the I[ndia] H[ouse] I should receive it.95

Despite the cautious tone (“Something . . . may depend”), Mill probably already intended to review the volumes, as the search and the praise in the review suggest prior knowledge.

After giving up the editorship and proprietorship of the London and Westminster, Mill wrote only a little for the Westminster, as it then once more became. The next two essays in this volume, appreciative notices of Milnes’s Poetry for the People and of Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome, come from that small group, and it is at least moderately ironical that one of the remnant from the early, ferocious, and anti-poetical days of the Westminster should appear in it, almost for the last time, as the author of favourable reviews of poetry by non-Radicals. Nothing, it should be said, is known of the composition of these articles, nor do their texts present any challenges. And the same is true of the final item in the volume, Mill’s letter of January, 1844, in defence of his father, which appeared in the Edinburgh Review, the journal to which, in 1840, he began to contribute many of his best essays, as James Mill had in the years preceding the founding of the Westminster. (Concerning the main issue in this letter, James Mill’s financial obligations to Bentham, one should look at the revision of the Early Draft at p. 56a-a below.) So a cycle, which this volume illustrates, comes to a close: the young sectarian Benthamite, now assured and, with the publication of the Logic, widely acclaimed, whose first periodical article was an attack on the Edinburgh, has become a contributor to it. The Autobiography tells us, of course, that the story does not end here, but the record of Mill’s further career as an author must be sought in other volumes of the Collected Works.

This is not the appropriate place to enter into detailed exposition of Mill’s critical ideas or their relation to his ethical or political thought, and in any case one would be hard pressed to maintain that the essays in this volume—so various in occasion, scope, and seriousness of purpose—represent a coherent body of theory. A few of the pieces are not really “literary” at all (in the stricter sense of treating imaginative literature imaginatively), while others suggest that, as a practical critic, Mill had, by our standards, less than excellent taste. (His lengthy quotations in the two reviews of Milnes amount to a small anthology of the world’s worst poetry.) Even so, there are in the essays some statements that have, to modify Keats’s phrase, put Mill “among the English critics,” and these deserve to be noticed.

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The best known of Mill’s critical ideas are contained in “Thoughts on Poetry and Its Varieties,” and most of them more specifically in the first section (originally published separately as “What Is Poetry?”), where, after setting down the object of poetry (“to act upon the emotions”) and distinguishing between poetry and eloquence (“eloquence is heard, poetry is overheard”), Mill arrives at this summary definition: “Poetry is feeling, confessing itself to itself in moments of solitude, and embodying itself in symbols, which are the nearest possible representations of the feeling in the exact shape in which it exists in the poet’s mind” (p. 348). The three elements of this definition—the strong (almost exclusive) emphasis on feeling, the idea of the poet as self-confessor in solitude, and the description of symbols as vehicles of the poet’s emotion—are distinctive, and these are the points that have been of most interest to historians of modern criticism.96

Near the beginning of the essay, in a preliminary attempt to pin down exactly where poetry resides, Mill says that “poetry is not in the object itself, nor in the scientific truth itself, but in the state of mind in which the one and the other may be contemplated,” and he then invents an example, often quoted, of object as representation of feeling:

If a poet describes a lion, he does not describe him as a naturalist would, nor even as a traveller would, who was intent upon stating the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. He describes him by imagery, that is, by suggesting the most striking likenesses and contrasts which might occur to a mind contemplating the lion, in the state of awe, wonder, or terror, which the spectacle naturally excites, or is, on the occasion, supposed to excite. Now this is describing the lion professedly, but the state of excitement of the spectator really.

(P. 347.)

In the later twentieth century, on the hither side of T. S. Eliot’s famous definition of “objective correlative”97 (which is certainly what Mill, in his simpler way, intended the lion to exemplify) and several decades of New Critical elaboration of the concept, we can appreciate Mill’s intelligence, even precocity, at this point in the essay. But in the course of developing the notion of self-confession—“All poetry is of the nature of soliloquy,” “no trace of consciousness that any eyes are upon us must be visible in the work itself,” “Poetry . . . is the natural fruit of solitude and meditation” (p. 349)—he strips poetry of nearly all its traditional Edition: current; Page: [xliv] elements (story, incident, description, moral truth, above all an audience to interact with), and in place of the poet as, in Wordsworth’s Preface to Lyrical Ballads (para. 15), “a man speaking to men,” we are presented with the much narrower concept of a man speaking to himself about himself.98

Mill was himself soliloquizing, of course, and his essay has the rhetorical character of the greater Romantic lyric, taking shape according to the movement of the speaker’s mind. In the second section (originally published separately as “The Two Kinds of Poetry”), Mill restores some of what he had taken away by defining two categories, the poetry of the “poet by nature” (represented by Shelley) and the “poetry of culture” (Wordsworth—some would today reverse the examples), and then, perhaps upon realizing that he has produced two halves of something rather than two discrete entities, ends up with the ideal union of the two in the concept “philosopher-poet” (p. 364).99 And this is the position that he begins with when he enters into the theoretical section of his review of Tennyson: “There are in the character of every true poet, two elements, for one of which he is indebted to nature, for the other to cultivation” (p. 413).

The Tennyson essay contains an eloquent statement on the relative value of feeling and thought in achieving “the noblest end of poetry”:

Every great poet, every poet who has extensively or permanently influenced mankind, has been a great thinker;—has had a philosophy, though perhaps he did not call it by that name;—has had his mind full of thoughts, derived not merely from passive sensibility, but from trains of reflection, from observation, analysis, and generalization. . . . Where the poetic temperament exists in its greatest degree, while the systematic culture of the intellect has been neglected, we may expect to find, what we do find in the best poems of Shelley—vivid representations of states of passive and dreamy emotion, fitted to give extreme pleasure to persons of similar organization to the poet, but not likely to be sympathized in, because not understood, by any other persons; and scarcely conducing at all Edition: current; Page: [xlv] to the noblest end of poetry as an intellectual pursuit, that of acting upon the desires and characters of mankind through their emotions, to raise them towards the perfection of their nature. This, like every other adaptation of means to ends, is the work of cultivated reason; and the poet’s success in it will be in proportion to the intrinsic value of his thoughts, and to the command which he has acquired over the materials of his imagination, for placing those thoughts in a strong light before the intellect, and impressing them on the feelings.

(Pp. 413-14.)

This is a much more generous and reasonable view of poetry than that of the first section of “Thoughts on Poetry and Its Varieties,” and it much better represents Mill’s considered ideas on the subject. From the Tennyson essay on, and most prominently in the reviews of Vigny, Milnes, and Macaulay, his emphasis is where readers of the Autobiography would expect it to be—on the importance of feeling and thought, and on the educational, social, and cultural functions of poetry (“to raise [men and women] towards the perfection of their nature”). These later ideas, unlike those of “Thoughts on Poetry,” are not distinctive; they were long in the public domain before Mill arrived. But this is not the first instance in which Mill sacrificed distinctive originality for the sake of more substantial and more comprehensive truth.

There is little evidence that Mill read poetry later in life,100 and it is probably best, in the over-all view, to say that where, before the mental crisis, he had been “theoretically indifferent” to poetry (see p. 115), ever afterward he was theoretically in favour of it—still, however, almost entirely at the level of theory. But though he wrote no more articles or reviews that would qualify for inclusion as “literary essays,” we nevertheless have, from his middle years, the fine paragraphs about discovering Wordsworth and the importance of poetry and “culture of the feelings” in the Autobiography (pp. 149-53), and from his last decade the powerful defence of poetry and art at the conclusion of his Inaugural Address Delivered to the University of St. Andrews (1867). What is most significant, finally, is not any specific idea about the nature of poetry or the role of the poet, but instead the spectacle of Mill’s “strange confusion . . . endeavouring to unite poetry and philosophy.”101 This “confusion” and endeavour made him a broader, deeper, and more complex thinker and writer than he had been before, and they continue to make him interesting and valuable. His more orderly predecessors and contemporaries now figure mainly in footnotes; he, on the other hand, as the works collected in these volumes amply testify, remains alive in text and in context.

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APPENDICES

the appended materials, arranged chronologically, fall into four categories: first, items that, though they contain text by Mill, for one reason or another are not in a form intended by him for publication (Appendices A, D, E, and G); second, lists that are provided as additional information for the understanding of the main texts (Appendices B, C, and I); third, matter of which the authorship is, in general, not certain, though most of it is probably by Mill (Appendix F); and fourth, a pertinent text by Helen Taylor (Appendix H). These are mentioned above, and are described in the headnotes that introduce each item; therefore a cursory description is here sufficient.

Appendix A consists of the only surviving juvenilia from Mill’s pen: the opening pages of his first history of Rome, and his “Ode to Diana,” the former written when he was 6½ years old, the latter probably about a year or so later.

Appendices B and C, in an attempt to bring together evidence of Mill’s precocity, provide lists of his early reading and writing; neither is, nor can be, complete, but even in this form they make up, at least for our less strenuous times, an impressive record.

Appendix D gives the version by Bulwer, repudiated by Mill, of comments (now lost) that he had written on his father’s place in English life and letters.

Appendix E gives the text of the comment on Browning’s Pauline that probably formed the basis of the review which, by a combination of circumstances, never was printed.

Appendix F is made up of the editorial notes in the London and Westminster Review; these help elucidate the history of the periodical, and Mill’s attitudes towards authors and subjects.

Appendix G gives a selection of extracts from the “Rejected Leaves” of the Early Draft of the Autobiography; it was not feasible to print these as variants, but they should be read in connection with the corresponding passages in the two main texts as evidence of Mill’s earliest intentions and of his and his wife’s sense of the appropriate and the proper.

Appendix H is a continuation by Helen Taylor of the Autobiography, which summarizes the period between the last section by Mill (1869-70) and his death in May, 1873.

Appendix I, the Bibliographic Index, lists all persons and works cited in the Autobiography, the essays, and the relevant appendices. These references are, consequently, omitted from the index proper. Because Mill saw his autobiographical memoir as a record of his writing career, this appendix incidentally includes references to most of his writings.

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TEXTUAL PRINCIPLES AND METHODS

as throughout this edition, the copy-text for each item is the final version produced under Mill’s personal supervision, the latest over which he had significant authorial control.102 For the Autobiography this means the Columbia MS, since Mill never saw the Rylands transcript of it, or of course the first printed edition. (The Early Draft text presented here on facing pages may, in this view, be considered a single long variant, though it also has claims to independent status as a once complete and wholly authoritative version.) For the rest of the items (except for material given in Appendices A, E, G, and H) there are no extant MSS, and the source of text in each case is a printed version.

Silent emendations. The following procedures apply to all the texts alike. Typographical peculiarities of titles, chapter headings, first lines, and some other features that similarly are matters of printing design are not strictly preserved. While as a rule the copy-text’s punctuation and spelling are retained, certain elements of style have been made uniform: for example, periods have regularly been inserted, where they are missing, after abbreviations, but have been deleted after references to monarchs (e.g., “Louis XIV,”); and dashes have been deleted where they are combined with other punctuation before a quotation or a reference. Italic punctuation following italic letters (in a printed version) has been regularized to roman. Indications of ellipsis have been normalized to three dots plus, where necessary, terminal punctuation. The positioning of footnote indicators has been normalized so that they always follow adjacent punctuation marks; in some cases, for consistency of appearance, references have been moved from the beginning to the end of quotations.

Also in accordance with modern practice, all long quotations have been set off from the text, in reduced type, with opening and closing quotation marks removed. In consequence, it has occasionally been necessary to add square brackets around Mill’s own editorial interpolations; but there will be little likelihood of confusion, because our own editorial insertions in the texts are strictly confined to page references (we have deleted Mill’s square brackets in the one place—p. 474n—that would have caused trouble). Double quotation marks replace single as the standard. Titles of works referred to in the text have been italicized or enclosed in quotation marks according to a uniform style, and occasionally a lower-cased word in a title has been silently capitalized. Mill’s references to sources, and additional page references supplied editorially (in square brackets), have been Edition: current; Page: [xlviii] normalized. Erroneous references have regularly been corrected; a list of corrections and other alterations is given in the note below.103

Treatment of MS texts. In the texts edited from MSS—the Autobiography and the Early Draft (as well as in the textual notes to those items and the MS materials printed in Appendices A, E, G, and H)—these further silent procedures apply. Superscript letters in “20th,” “McCrie’s,” “Mr,” and the like have been regularly lowered to the line. Initial capitals of words that originally began a sentence but in revision were rearranged into some other position within a sentence have been reduced to lower case. Periods have been added, where they are missing, at the ends of sentences. Commas and in a few instances other marks of punctuation have been added, where necessary or especially desirable, mainly to complete Mill’s intended revision—as before or after an interlined phrase or clause, and before a deleted conjunction—but also in combination with other devices (the end of the line in the MS, or a closing parenthesis or quotation mark) that Mill characteristically used as a substitute for more conventional punctuation. Very occasionally, as when an opening parenthesis appears intended to cancel a mark, punctuation has been dropped. The ampersand has regularly been changed to “and,” and we have spelled out most arabic numbers (and added conventional hyphens in some that were already spelled out). Editorial emendations to the texts of the Autobiography and Early Draft that are not covered by these general procedures are listed in the note below.104 In the headnotes to the essays, the quotations from Mill’s personal Edition: current; Page: [xlix] bibliography, which survives in a scribal copy in the Mill-Taylor Collection, British Library of Political and Economic Science, have regularly been corrected; again, a note below lists the corrections.105

Textual notes to the MSS. The textual apparatus to the Early Draft provides a selection of the most significant earlier and cancelled readings that illuminate Mill’s education, his reading and writing, and his relationships with his father, mother, siblings, and wife. Sometimes, especially in conjunction with Appendix G, which should be considered an extension of this apparatus, several successive Edition: current; Page: [l] versions may be reconstructed (e.g., the five accounts of Mill’s practical deficiencies, three of them extracted or described at pp. 608-11 below, the other two in the Early Draft and Columbia MS texts at pp. 32-3, 37, 39): and the influence of Mill’s wife, in alterations, queries, and other markings pencilled in the MS, is given special attention. The simplified methodology used in these textual notes is explained in the headnote on p. 2. It should be understood that the descriptions “deleted first by HTM” and “altered to final reading first by HTM” mean that the deletion or revision at hand originated with her, and that Mill accepted it by going over the pencilled alteration in ink (no change by her, if Mill himself did not subsequently alter the words, has been incorporated into the text). Only two cancelled passages are given from the Columbia MS (on pp. 272, 287). For the most part, the cancelled readings in the first 162 leaves of this later version are identical, or nearly so, with the Early Draft text that we print on facing pages; and in the final section of the MS, which is first draft, Mill was no longer writing intimately about his father or his wife, or any other matter where ambiguous personal feelings were involved, and his deletions and revisions here are routinely stylistic, and not of sufficient interest to deserve recording.

Emendation of printed sources. In the items based on printed sources, typographical errors have been regularly corrected in the text. The note below lists these along with other readings that have been emended.106

Textual apparatus for the essays. As indicated in an earlier section of this Edition: current; Page: [li] Introduction, only four of the essays were reprinted by Mill (in two cases only a brief passage is involved), and so there are relatively few variants to record. The ensuing paragraphs explain the methods of indicating variants in these instances and more generally throughout this edition.

We are concerned primarily with substantive variants, which may be taken to mean any differences among comparable texts except those in punctuation, spelling, capitalization, word-division, demonstrable typographical errors, and such printing-house concerns as type size and style. All substantive variants are Edition: current; Page: [lii] reported, save for the substitution of “on” for “upon” (in five places), “an” for “a” (twice before “historical” and once before “heroic”), and “though” for “although” (twice).107 The variants are of three kinds: addition of a word or words, substitution of a word or words, and deletion of a word or words. The illustrative examples that follow are drawn, except as indicated, from “Thoughts on Poetry and Its Varieties,” for which our copy-text is the version printed in 1867.

Addition of a word or words: see p. 356g-g. In the present text the passage “Whatever be the thing which they are contemplating, if it be capable of connecting itself with their emotions, the aspect” appears as “Whatever be the thing which they are contemplating, gif it be capable of connecting itself with their emotions,g the aspect”; and the variant note reads “g-g+59,67”. The plus sign shows that the passage enclosed by the superscripts in the text is an addition, and the numbers after the plus sign specify the editions in which the passage is included. The editions are indicated by the last two digits of the year of publication: here 59 = 1859 and 67 = 1867 (respectively, the 1st and 2nd editions of Volumes I and II of Dissertations and Discussions). Information explaining the use of these abbreviations is given in the headnotes, as required. Any editorial comment in the variant notes is enclosed in square brackets and italicized.

When this example is placed in context, the interpretation is that the first published text (1833) had “Whatever be the thing which they are contemplating, the aspect”; in 1859 this was altered to “Whatever be the thing which they are contemplating, if it be capable of connecting itself with their emotions, the aspect”; and (as is evident in the present text) the new reading was retained in 1867.

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Substitution of a word or words: see p. 356f-f. In the text the passage “which is a natural though not an universal consequence of” appears as “which is fa natural though not an universal consequencef of”; the variant note reads “f-f33 one of the natural consequences”. Here the words following the edition indicator are those for which “a natural though not an universal consequence” was substituted. When the same rules are applied and the variant is placed in context, the interpretation is that the first published text had “which is one of the natural consequences of”; in 1859 this was altered to “which is a natural though not an universal consequence of”; and the reading of 1859 (as is evident in the text) was retained in 1867.

In this volume there are only rare and trivial instances where passages were altered more than once: at p. 343b-b, the first published text has “ ‘poetry’ does import”; in 1859 Mill changed this to “ ‘poetry’ imports”; and in 1867 he removed the quotation marks from “poetry” to give the final reading, “poetry imports”, which appears in this edition as “bpoetry importsb”. To indicate this sequence, the note reads “b-b33 ‘poetry’ does import] 59 ‘poetry’ imports” (the closing square bracket separates variants in a sequence). In the other cases, the variant represents a return to the original reading, as at p. 473z-z, where in 1838 “these” appeared; in 1859, “those”; and in 1867, “these” again. Here the note indicates, as well as the sequence, the possibility of a typographical error: “z-z59 those [printer’s error?]”.

Deletion of a word or words: see p. 356b and p. 422f-f. The first of these is typical, representing a convenient way of indicating deletions in a later version. In the text at p. 356b a single superscript b appears centred between “in” and “a”; the variant note reads “b33 the table of contents of”. Here the words following the edition indicator are the ones subsequently deleted. The interpretation is that the first published text had “in the table of contents of a”; in 1859 the words “the table of contents of” were deleted; and the reading of 1859 (as is evident in the text) was retained in 1867.

The second example (p. 422f-f) illustrates the method used to cover deletions when only portions of the text were later reprinted, as in the case of “Aphorisms: Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd,” part of which was republished as “Aphorisms. A Fragment,” in Dissertations and Discussions, Vol. I, pp. 206-10. (That is, there is here, exceptionally, a later version of only part of the text originally published in the London and Westminster Review [1837], which, being the only complete version, we adopt as our copy-text; normally the copy-text would be the latest version.) In the text the words “appears to us to be” are printed “appears fto usf to be”; the variant note reads “f-f-59,67”. The minus sign indicates that in the editions specified the words enclosed were deleted. The interpretation is that the first published version had (as is evident in the text) “appears to us to be”; in 1859 this was altered to “appears to be”; and the latter reading was retained in 1867.

Differences between italic and roman type are treated as substantive variants and therefore are regularly recorded, except when they occur in foreign phrases Edition: current; Page: [liv] and titles of works. Although variations in punctuation and spelling are generally ignored, when they occur as part of a substantive variant they are included in the record of the variant. The superscript letters used to indicate variants to the text are placed exactly with reference to their position before or after punctuation.

Variants in Mill’s footnotes are treated in the same manner as those in his text. In the essays in this volume no footnotes were added or deleted in the reprinted versions.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

for permission to publish manuscript material, we are indebted to the Columbia University Library and the Columbia University Press, the University of Illinois Library and the University of Illinois Press, the Yale University Library, the British Library, the British Library of Political and Economic Science, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the National Provincial Bank (literary executors and residual legatees of Mary Taylor, Mill’s step-grand-daughter). Our gratitude goes in full measure to the staffs of the libraries just mentioned, and also to those of the Archives Départementales (Tarn-et-Garonne), Bibliothèque Interuniversitaire, Montpellier, Bibliothèques Municipales de Bagnères-de-Bigorre, Montauban, Pau, Tarbes, Toulouse, the Liverpool Public Library, the London Library, the Somerville College Library, the University of London Library, the University of Toronto Library, and the Victoria University Library. Instrumental in our work has been the cheerful and ready co-operation of the editorial, production, design, and printing staff of the University of Toronto Press, most particularly that of Rosemary Shipton, the copy-editor. Among others to whom thanks are due are the members of the Editorial Board of the edition, and T. D. Barnes, Robert Fenn, John Grant, Walter Houghton, J. R. de J. Jackson, Renée Kahane, F. E. Sparshott, and Bart Winer.

A Major Editorial Project Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada has generously supported the preparation and production of this volume; perhaps we may be allowed to say, for all those who have benefited from this programme, how much the Council is to be congratulated for its contributions to scholarship in what are, for too many, very lean times. This grant has enabled us to work with an editorial team whose members have insisted on labouring far beyond reason and request: Marion Filipiuk (whose command of French has been particularly valuable), Bruce Kinzer (who has, in addition to his other labours, compiled the Index), Martin Kreiswirth, Mary O’Connor, and Rea Wilmshurst. Where better than in what is truly a joint production could we acknowledge our immense indebtedness to our colleague-wives, Ann Robson and Nina Baym, who (to paraphrase Mill) have both taught and learnt that a scholar from whom nothing is ever demanded which he or she cannot do, never does all she or he can.

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AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND LITERARY ESSAYS

AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Parallel Reading Texts of the Early Draft and the Columbia MS

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EDITORS’ NOTE

The latest authoritative text, printed here on recto pages through p. 259 and on both rectos and versos thereafter, is that of the holograph MS in the Columbia University Library, untitled by Mill but containing two identical notes written and signed by his stepdaughter:

Autobiography of J. S. Mill Written by himself

To be published without alterations or omissions within one year after my death.

Helen Taylor

The text given on the facing versos is that of the holograph Early Draft MS at the University of Illinois (through p. 246) followed by that of a holograph fragment at Yale headed “Note . . . concerning the participation of my wife in my writings” (pp. 250-8). It should be specially observed, since the co-ordination of early and later versions on facing pages will here and there produce gaps on the page and occasionally even entire pages of blank space that do not exist in the MSS, that both the Early Draft text and the Yale fragment are written continuously from beginning to end, without chapter divisions; in the Columbia MS each chapter begins on a new page, after which the text is written continuously without break to the end of the chapter.

In the accompanying textual apparatus, mainly two kinds of note are used to present a selection of cancellations and other alterations preliminary to the final form of the MS texts. In one of them (e.g., 8c-c), a bracketed “Earlier version” indicates earlier wording that Mill deleted and replaced by the word or span of words enclosed by the superscript letters in the text. In the other (e.g., 6b), which depends on a single superscript in the text, a bracketed “Cancelled text” indicates a word or words that Mill deleted, but did not replace, at the point at which the single superscript occurs. Both kinds of note represent simplifications; they overlook false starts and generally do not distinguish between original and intermediate versions preliminary to the final form of text (at 8c-c Mill first wrote “cannot remember any time . . .” before revising to the wording given in the textual note, and an abandoned intermediate attempt—“have no remembrance of having ever been unable to”—is likewise ignored). They do, however, unless there is explanation to the contrary, give readings that once stood complete in their contexts and that, for the practical purpose of recovering what Mill at one time or another actually wrote, can be substituted or inserted in the text according to the positions designated by the superscripts.

There are also, specifically for the Early Draft, a number of notes explaining the later addition of leaves to the MS, the addition or revision of text “at left” (in the normally blank Edition: current; Page: [3] left-hand half of the MS page), the rearrangement of paragraphs and other sizable portions of text, a selection of pencilled alterations and other markings by Mill’s wife, Harriet Taylor Mill (HTM), and some variant and cancelled readings from the thirty “rejected leaves” retained at the end of the MS (these are designated “R” or “RII” plus folio number in the textual notes, and are described in detail in Appendix G, pp. 608-24 below). The alignment of parallel texts and the length of some notes to the Early Draft have occasionally made it necessary to carry notes over to the facing recto page; to prevent confusion, a rule is used to set them off from the text and notes of the Autobiography.

The Autobiography was published by Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer on 17 October, 1873, five months and ten days after Mill’s death, from a hastily written transcript of the Columbia MS made by Helen Taylor, Mill’s sister Mary Elizabeth Colman, and an unidentified French copyist. Neither the transcript, which is now in the John Rylands Library, Manchester, nor the first printed version has independent authority, and their variants are not included in the textual apparatus here.

The work is not mentioned in Mill’s bibliography. For critical comment and more specific details concerning the manuscripts and the composition and transmission of the text from the Early Draft through the first edition, see the Introduction, pp. vii-xxx above.

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[EARLY DRAFT]

ait seems proper that I should prefix to the following biographical sketch, some mention of the reasons which have made me think it desirable that I should leave behind me such a memorial of so uneventful a life as mine. I do not for a moment imagine that any part of what I have to relate, can be interesting to the public as a narrative, or as being connected with myself. But I have thought, that in an age in which education, and its improvement, are the subject of more if not of profounder study than at any former period in English history, it may be useful that there should be some record of an education which was unusual and remarkable, and which, whatever else it may have done, has proved how much more than is commonly supposed may be taught, and taught thoroughly, in those early years which, in the common modes of instruction, are little better than wasted. It has also seemed to me that in an age of transition in opinions, there may be somewhat both of interest and of benefit in noting the successive phases of a mind which was always pressing forward, equally ready to learn and to unlearn either from its own thoughts or from those of others. The reader whom these things do not interest, has only himself to blame if he reads farther, and I do not desire any other indulgence from him than that of bearing in mind, that for him these pages were not written.a

I was born in London, on the 20th of May 1806, and was the eldest son of James Mill, the author of The History of British India. My father, the son of a petty tradesman and (I believe) small farmer, at Northwater Bridge, in the county of Angus, was, when a boy, recommended by his abilities to the notice of Sir John Stuart, of Fettercairn, one of the Barons of the Exchequer in Scotland, and was in consequence, sent to the University of Edinburgh at the expense of a fund Edition: current; Page: [6] established by Lady Jane Stuart (the wife of Sir John Stuart) and some other ladies for educating young men for the Scottish Church. He there went through the usual course of study, and was licensed as a Preacher, but never followed the profession; having satisfied himself that he could not believe the doctrines of that or of any other church. For a few years he was a private tutor in various families in Scotland; but ended by going to London, and devoting himself to authorship; nor had he any other means of support until 1819, when he obtained an appointment in the India House.

In this period of my father’s life there are two things which it is impossible not to be struck with: one of them, unfortunately, a very common circumstance, the other a most uncommon one. The first is, that in his position, with no resource but the precarious one of writing in periodicals, he married and had a large family: conduct, than which nothing could be more opposed, both in point of good sense and of morality, to the opinions which, at least at a later period of life, he strenuously upheld; and to which he had not, and never could have supposed that he had, the inducements of kindred intellect, tastes, or pursuits. The other circumstance, is the extraordinary energy which was required to lead the life he did, with the disadvantages under which he laboured from the first, and with those which he brought upon himself by his marriage. It would have been no small thing, had he done no more than to support himself and his family during so many years by writing, without ever being in debt or in any pecuniary difficulty; holding as he did, opinions of extreme democracy, and what is called infidelity, in a generation during which those opinions were more odious to all persons of influence, and to the common run of prosperous Englishmen, than either before or since: and being a man whom not only nothing would have induced to write against his convictions, but who invariably threw into everything he wrote, as much of his convictions as he thought the circumstances would in any way admit of: being, it must also be said, one who never did anything negligently; never undertook any task, literary or other, on which he did not conscientiously bestow all the labour necessary for performing it adequately. But he, with these burthens on him, planned, commenced, and completed the History of India; and this in the course of about ten years, a shorter time than has been occupied (even by writers who had no other employment) in the production of almost any other historical work of equal bulk and of anything approaching to the same amount of reading and research. And to this is to be added that during the whole period, a considerable part of almost every day was employed in the instruction of his children;b in the case of one of whom, myself, whatever may be thought of his success, he exerted an amount of labour, care and perseverance rarely if ever employed for a similar purpose, in endeavouring to give according to his own conception the highest order of intellectual education.

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A man who in his own practice so vigorously acted up to the principle of losing no time, was likely to adhere to the same rule in the instruction of his pupil. I chave no remembrance ofc the time when I began to learn Greek. I have been told that it was when I was three years old. My earliest recollection on the subject is of learning what my father termed Vocables, being lists of common Greek words, with their signification in English, which he wrote on cards and gave me to learn by heart. Of grammar I learnt, until some years later, nothing except the inflexions of the nouns and verbs but after a course of vocables, proceeded at once to translation; and I can faintly remember going through Æsop’s Fables, the first Greek book which I read. The Anabasis was the second I learnt no Latin until my eighth year. Before that time I had read a number of Greek prose authors, among whom I remember the whole of Herodotus, Xenophon’s Cyropædia and Memorials of Socrates, some of the lives of the philosophers by Diogenes Laertius, part of Lucian, a little of Isocrates, and I think part of Thucydides; I also read in 1813 the first six dialogues of Plato (in the common arrangement) from the Euthyphron to the Theætetus inclusive, which last dialogue had been better omitted, as it was utterly impossible I should understand it. But my father, in all his teaching, demanded and expected of me not only the utmost that I could do, but much that I could by no possibility have done. What he was himself willing to undergo for the sake of my instruction may be judged from dthe fact, that I went through the whole process of preparing my Greek lessons in the same room and at the same table at which he was writing, andd as in those days Greek and English Lexicons were not, and I could make no more use of a Greek and Latin Lexicon than could be made without having begun to learn Latin, I was forced to have recourse to him for the meaning of every word which I did not know: and this incessant interruption he, one of the most impatient of mankind, submitted to, and wrote under that interruption several volumes of his History and all else that he had to write during those years.

The only thing besides Greek that I learnt as a lesson during those years was arithmetic: this also my father taught me: it was the work of the evenings and I well remember its irksomeness. But the lessons were enot the most important part of the instruction I was receiving. Muche of it consisted in the books I read by myself and in my father’s discourses to me, chiefly during our walks. From 1810 to the end of 1813 we were living at Newington Green, then an almost rustic neighbourhood. My father’s health required considerable and constant exercise and he walked habitually before breakfast, generally in the green lanes towards Hornsey. In these Edition: current; Page: [10] walks I always accompanied him, and what I chiefly remember of them (except the bouquets of wild flowers which I used to bring in) is the account I used to give him daily of what I had read the previous day. fI made notes on slips of paper while readingf, and from these I used in the morning walks to tell the story to him. I say the story, for the books were chiefly histories, of which I read in this manner a great number: Robertson’s histories, Hume, Gibbon; but my greatest delight, then and for long afterwards, was Watson’s Philip Second and Third. The heroic defence of the Knights of Malta against the Turks, and of the Dutch revolted provinces against Spain, excited in me an intense and lasting interest. Next to Watson my favorite book of the historical sort was Hooke’s History of Rome. Of Greece I had seen at that time no regular history, except school abridgments and the last two or three volumes of a translation of Rollin’s Ancient History, from Philip of Macedon to the end. But I read with great delight, Langhorne’s translation of Plutarch; and I had Greek history in my daily Greek lessons. For English history beyond the time at which Hume leaves off, I remember reading Burnet’s History of His Own Time, though I cared little for anything in it except the wars and battles—and the historical part of the Annual Register from the beginning to about 1788 where the volumes my father borrowed for me from Mr. Bentham left off. I felt a lively interest in Frederic of Prussia during his difficulties and in Paoli, the Corsican patriot—but when I came to the American War of independence I took my part like a child as I was, on the wrong side because it was called the English side; until gset right by my fatherg. In these frequent talks about the books I read, he used as opportunity offered to give me explanations and ideas respecting civilization, society, government, morality, mental cultivation, which he required me afterwards to hrestate to him in my own wordsh. He also made me read, and give him a verbal account of, many books which would not have interested me sufficiently to induce me to read them of myself: I particularly remember Millar’s Historical View of the English Government, a book of great merit for its time, and which he much valued: also Mosheim’s Ecclesiastical History, McCrie’s Life of Knox, and even Sewell’s and Rutty’s histories of the Quakers. Of voyages and travels I remember as part of my constant reading Anson’s Voyage which is so delightful to most young persons, and a Collection in four octavo volumes (Hawkesworth’s I believe it was) of Voyages round the World, from Drake to Cook and Bougainvillei. Edition: current; Page: [12] I read few books of amusement properly so called: of children’s books, any more than of playthings, I had scarcely any, except an occasional gift from a relation or acquaintance—among those I had, Robinson Crusoe was preeminent and continued to delight me through all my boyhood. It was no part however of my father’s system to exclude books of amusement: though he allowed them very sparingly. Of such books he possessed, at that time, next to none, but an early friend and companion of his, Dr. Thomson the chemist, had many, and some of those he borrowed purposely for me—those which I remember are the Arabian Nights, Cazotte’s Arabian Tales, Don Quixote, and a book of some reputation in its day, Brooke’s Fool of Quality.

jIn my eighth year I commenced learning Latin by means of teaching it to a younger sister, who afterwards repeated the lessons to my father. From this time other sisters and brothers being successively added as pupils, a considerable part of my day’s work consisted of this preparatory teaching; and it was a part which I especially disliked. The principal advantage which, as far as I am aware, arose from it, was that I myself learnt more thoroughly and retained more lastingly the things which I had to teach as well as learn; perhaps too, the practice it afforded in explaining difficulties to others, may even at that age have been usefulk. In other respects the experience of my boyhood is not favorable to the plan of teaching children by means of one another. The teaching, I am sure, is very inefficient as teaching, and I well know that the relation between teacher and taughtl is a most unfavourable moral discipline to both. I went through the grammar and part of Cornelius Nepos and Cæsar’s Commentaries min this manner, but afterwards added to the superintendance of thesem lessons, much longer ones of my own which I repeated to my father in the usual manner.

In the same year in which I began Latin I made my first commencement in the Greek poets with the Iliad. After I had made some progress in this, my father put Pope’s translation into my hands: it was the first English verse I had cared to read, and became one of the books in which for many years I most delighted: I think I must have read it from twenty to thirty times through. I should not have thought it worth while to mention a taste apparently so natural to boyhood if I had not, as I Edition: current; Page: [14] think, observed that the keen enjoyment of this brilliant specimen of narrative and versification, is not so universal with boys as I should have expected both a priori and from my individual experience. Soon after this time I commenced Euclid, and somewhat later, algebra, still under my father’s tuition.

From my eighth to my twelfth year the Latin books which I remember reading were the Bucolics of Virgil, and the first six books of the Æneid; all Horace; the fables of Phædrus; the first five books of Livy (to which from my love of the subject I voluntarily added at my leisure, the remainder of the first decad); all Sallust; a considerable part of Ovid’s Metamorphoses; some plays of Terence; two or three books of Lucretius; some of the orations of Cicero and of his writings on oratory; also his letters to Atticus, my father taking the trouble to translate to me from the French the historical explanations in Mongault’s notes. Tacitus I do not think I meddled with till my thirteenth yearn. In Greek I read the Iliad and Odyssey through; one or two plays of Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes, but by these I profited little; all Thucydides; Xenophon’s Hellenics; oa great part of Demostheneso, Æschines and Lysias; Theocritus; Anacreon; part of the Anthology; a little of Dionysius; the first two or three books of Polybius; and lastly, Aristotle’s Rhetoric, which as the first expressly scientific treatise on any moral or psychological subject which I had read and containing, besides, many of the best observations of the ancients on human nature and human affairs, my father made me study with peculiar care and throw the matter of it into synoptic tablesp. During the same years I learnt elementary geometry and algebra thoroughly; the differential calculus and other portions of the higher mathematics not thoroughlyq; for my father not having kept up this part of his early acquired knowledge, could not spare time to qualify himself for removing my difficulties and left me to deal with them with little other aid than that of books; at the same time continually calling on me, with authority and indignation, to solve difficult problems for which he did not see that I had not the necessary previous knowledge.

As to my private reading, I can only speak of what I remember. History continued to be my strongest predilection. Mitford’s Greece I used to be continually readingr. My father had put me on my guard against the Tory prejudices of this writer, and his perversions of facts for the glorification of despots and discredit of popular institutions. These points he used to discourse upon, exemplifying them from the Greek orators and historianss with such effect that in reading Mitford my sympathies always were on the contrary side to those of the author, and I could, to some extent, have argued the point against him; yet this did not diminish the ever new pleasure with which I read the book. Ferguson’s Roman history was also a Edition: current; Page: [16] favorite. Another book which notwithstanding what is called the dryness of the stile I took great pleasure in was the Ancient Universal History: through the incessant reading of which I had my head full of details of the history of the obscurest ancient people, while in modern history with the exception of tdetached passages such as the Dutch war of independence I was at this time little interestedt. A voluntary exercise to which I was throughout my boyhood much addicted, was what I called writing histories: of course in imitation of my father—who used to give me the manuscript of part of his history of India to read. Almost as soon as I could hold a pen I must needs write a history of India too: this was soon abandoned, but what I called a Roman history, picked out of Hooke, I continued for a long time to employ myself in writing: after this an abridgment of the Ancient Universal History: then a History of Holland, compiled from my favorite Watson and from an anonymous history which somebody who knew my liking for the subject, picked up at a book stall and gave to me. But in my eleventh and twelfth year I occupied myself with writing what I flattered myself was something serious, and might be made fit to be published; this was no less than a history of the Roman Government, compiled (with the assistance of Hooke) from Livy and Dionysius: of which I wrote as much as would have made an octavo volume, extending to the epoch of the Licinian laws. It was in fact an account of the struggles between the patricians and plebeians, which now engrossed all the interest in my mind that I had previously felt in the mere wars and conquests of the Romans. I discussed all the constitutional points as they arose, vindicated the Agrarian law on the evidence of Livy (though quite ignorant of Niebuhr’s researches) and upheld to the best of my capacity the Roman democratic party. A few years later in my contempt of my childish efforts I destroyed all these papers, not then anticipating that I could ever have any curiosity about my first attempts at writing or reasoning. My father encouraged me in this useful amusement, though, as I think judiciously, he never asked to see what I wrote, so that I never felt that in writing it I was accountable to any one, nor had the chilling sensation of being under a critical eye.

But though these histories were never a compulsory lesson, there was another kind of composition which was so, namely writing verses and it was one of the most irksome of my tasks. Greek or Latin verses I never wrote, nor learnt the prosody of those languages. My father, thinking this not worth the time it required, was contented with making me read aloud to him and correcting false quantities. I never composed at all in Greek, even in prose, and but little in Latin. But I wrote Edition: current; Page: [18] many English verses; beginning from the time of my first reading Pope’s Homer, when I ambitiously attempted to write something of the same kind, and achieved as much as one book of a continuation of the Iliad. uThe exercise, begun by choice, was continued by commandu. Conformably to my father’s usual custom of explaining to me the reasons for what he required me to do, he gave me, for this, two reasons which were highly characteristic of him. One was that some things could be expressed better and more forcibly in verse than in prose: this he said was a real advantage: the other was, that people in general attached more value to verse than it deserved, and the power of writing it was therefore useful and worth acquiring. He generally left me to choose my own subjects which as far as I remember were mostly odes to some mythological personage or allegorical abstraction: but he made me translate into English verse many of Horace’s shorter poems. I remember his giving me Thomson’s “Winter” to read, and afterwards making me attempt to write something myself on the same subject. I had read very little English poetry at this time. Shakespeare my father had put into my hands, at first for the sake of the historical plays, from which however I went on to the othersv. My father was never a great admirer of Shakespeare the English idolatry of whom, he used to attack in unmeasured terms. wHe had little value for any English poetry except Milton, Goldsmith, Burns, and Gray’s “Bard,” which he preferred to his Elegy: perhaps I may also add Beattiew. I remember his reading to me (unlike his usual practice of making me read to him) the first book of The Fairie Queene: but I took little pleasure in it. The poetry of the present century he set no value on—and I hardly saw any of it till I was grown up to manhood, except Walter Scott’s metrical romances, which he borrowed for me and which I was much delighted with—as I always was with all animated narrative. Dryden’s Poems were among my father’s books and many of these he made me read, though I never cared for any of them except Alexander’s Feast, which like the songs in Walter Scott I used to sing Edition: current; Page: [none] Edition: current; Page: [20] internally, to a music of my own. Cowper’s short poems I read with some pleasure but never got far into the longer ones—and nothing in the two volumes interested me like the little prose account of his three hares. In my thirteenth year I met with the poems of Campbell, among which “Lochiel,” “Hohenlinden,” “The Exile of Erin” and some others gave me sensations I had never before received from poetry. Here too I made nothing of the longer poems, except the opening of “Gertrude of Wyoming,” which appeared to me the perfection of pathos.

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Recto of “Ode to Diana” MS

British Library

During this part of my childhood one of my greatest amusements was experimental science; not however trying experiments, a kind of discipline which I have often regretted not having had—but merely reading about the experiments of others. I never remember being so wrapt up in any book as I was in Joyce’s Scientific Dialogues, and I devoured treatises on chemistry, especially Dr. Thomson’s, for years before I ever attended a lecture or saw an experiment.x

From about the age of twelve I entered into yanother and more advanced stage in my course of instruction—y in which the main object was no longer the aids and appliances of thought, but the thoughts themselves. This commenced with Logic, in which I began at once with the Organon and read it to the Analytics inclusive, but profited little by the Posterior Analytics, which belong to a branch of speculation I was not yet ripe for. Contemporaneously with the Organon my father made me read the whole or parts of several of the Latin treatises on the scholastic logic; giving each day to him, in our walks, a minute account of the portion I had read and answering his numerous and searching questions. After this I went through in the same manner the “Computatio sive Logica” of Hobbes, a work of a much higher order of thought than the books of the school logicians and which he estimated very highly; in my opinion beyond its merits great as these are. It was his invariable practice, whatever studies he exacted from me, to make me as far as possible understand and feel the utility of them: and this he deemed peculiarly fitting in the case of the syllogistic logic, its usefulness having been impugned by so many writers of authority. Accordingly I well remember how, in his usual manner, he first attempted by questions to make me think on the subject, and frame some conception of what constituted the utility of the syllogistic logic, and when I had Edition: current; Page: [22] failed in this, to make me understand it by explanations. I do not believe that the explanations made the matter at all clear to me at the time; but they were not therefore useless; they remained as a nucleus for my observations and reflexions to crystallize upon: his general remarks being interpreted to me by the particular instances which occurred to myself afterwards. My own consciousness and experience ultimately led me to appreciate quite as highly as he did the value of an early practical familiarity with the school logic. I know of nothing, in my education, to which I think myself more indebted for whatever capacity of thinking I have attained. The first intellectual operation in which I arrived at any skill was dissecting a bad argument and finding in what part the fallacy lay: and though whatever success I had in this I owed entirely to the fact that it was an intellectual exercise in which I was most perseveringly drilled by my father; yet it is also true that the school logic, and the mental habits acquired in studying it, were among the principal instruments of this drilling. I am persuaded that nothing, in modern education, tends so much when properly used, to form exact thinkers, who attach a definite meaning to words and propositions, and are not imposed on by vague, loose, or ambiguous terms. It is also a study peculiarly adapted to an early stage in the education of students in philosophy, since it does not presuppose the slow process of acquiring by experience and reflection, valuable thoughts of their own. They may become capable of seeing through confused and self contradictory thinking before their own thinking powers are much advanced; zto the great benefit of those powers in their subsequent developementz.

During this time the Latin and Greek books which I continued to read with my father were chiefly such as were worth studying not merely for the language, but for the thoughts. This included much of the orators and the whole of Demosthenes, some of whose principal orations I read several times over, and wrote out, by way of exercise, an analysis of them. My father’s comments on these orations when I read them to him were very instructive to me: he not only drew my attention to the knowledge they afforded of Athenian institutions, and to the principles of legislation and government which they illustrated, but pointed out the skill and art of the orator—how everything important to his purpose was said exactly at the moment when he had brought the minds of his hearers into the state best fitted to receive it; how he made steal into their minds, gradually and by insinuation, thoughts which if expressed directly would have roused their opposition. Most of these reflexions Edition: current; Page: [24] were abeyond my capacity of full comprehension at the time,a but they left seed behind. I also read through Tacitus, and Quintilian. The latter, owing to his obscure stile and to the scholastic details of which many parts of his treatise are made up, is little read and seldom sufficiently appreciated. His book is a kind of encyclopædia of the thoughts of the ancients on education and culture: and I have retained through life many valuable ideas which I can trace to my reading of it, even at that age. I read, too, at this time, some of the most important dialogues of Plato, especially the Gorgias, the Protagoras, and the Republic. There is no author to whom my father thought himself more indebted for his own mental culture, than Plato, and I can say the same of mine. The Socratic method, of which the Platonic dialogues are the chief example, is unsurpassed as a discipline for abstract thought on the most difficult subjects. Nothing in modern life and education, in the smallest degree supplies its place. The close, searching elenchus by which the man of vague generalities is absolutely compelled either to express his meaning to himself in definite terms, or to confess that he does not know what he is talking about—the perpetual testing of all general statements by particular instances—the siege in form which is laid to the meaning of large abstract terms, by laying hold of some much larger class-name which includes that and more, and dividing downb to the thing sought, marking out its limits and definition by a series of accurately drawn distinctions between it and each of the cognate objects which are successively severed from it—all this even at that age took such hold on me that it became part of my own mind; and I have ever felt myself, beyond any modern that I know of except my father and perhaps beyond even him, a pupil of Plato, and cast in the mould of his dialectics.c

In going through Demosthenes and Plato, as I could now read these authors as far as the language was concerned with perfect ease, I was not required to construe them sentence by sentence but to read them aloud to my father, answering questions when asked: but the particular attention which he paid to elocution (in Edition: current; Page: [26] which his own excellence was remarkable) made this reading aloud to him da most painful taskd. Of all things which he required me to do, there was none which I did so constantly ill, or in which he so perpetually lost his temper with me. He had thought much on the principles of the art of reading, especially the part of it which relates to the inflexions of the voice, or modulation as writers on elocution call it (in contrast with articulation on the one side, and expression on the other), and had reduced it to rules, grounded on the logical analysis of a sentence. These rules he constantly impressed upon me, and severely took me to task for every violation of them: but I even then remarked (though I did not venture to make the remark to him) that though he reproached me when I read a sentence ill, and told me how I ought to have read it, he never shewed me: he often mockingly caricatured my bad reading of the sentence, but did not, by reading it himself, instruct me how it ought to be read. It was a defect running through his modes of instruction as it did through his modes of thinking that he trusted too much to the intelligibleness of the abstract when not embodied in the concrete. It was at a much later time of life when practising elocution by myself or with companions of my own age, that I for the first time thoroughly understood his rules and saw the psychological grounds of them; and at that time I and others followed out the subject into its ramifications and could have composed a very useful treatise grounded on my father’s principles. He himself left those principles and rules unwritten, and unwritten they still remain.

eMy private exercises in composition during my thirteenth and fourteenth year changed from historical to dramatic; though indeed they were historical still, for my dramatic attempts were on historical subjects. Like most youthful writers I wrote tragedies: the first was on the Roman emperor Otho, the attraction to me not being the character or fortunes of the hero, but the movement and bustle of that portion of Roman history, as related by Tacitus. I wrote fa playf on the story of the Danaides, and began two more, one on a subject from Tacitus, another from Thucydides. What kindled my dramatic aspirations was not so much Shakespeare as the plays of Joanna Baillie, among which Constantine Paleologus appeared to me one of the most glorious of human compositions. I have read it since and I still think it one of the best dramas of the last two centuries.e

A book which contributed very much to my education was my father’s History of India. It was published in the beginning of 1818. During the year previous it was passing through the press, and I used to read the proofsheets to him; or rather, to read the manuscript to him while he corrected the proofs. The number of new ideas which I received from this remarkable book, and the impulse and stimulus as well as guidance given to my thoughts by its criticisms and disquisitions on society and civilization in the Hindoo part, on institutions and the acts of governments in the Edition: current; Page: [28] English part—made my early familiarity with this book eminently useful to my subsequent progress. And though I can perceive deficiencies in it now as compared with a perfect standard, I still think it the most instructive history ever yet written, and one of the books from which most benefit may be derived by a mind in the course of making up its opinions.

The Preface to the History, one of the most characteristic of my father’s writings, as well as one of the richest in materials for thought, gives a picture entirely to be depended on, of the sentiments and expectations with which he wrote the book. Saturated as the book is with the principles and modes of judgment of a democratic radicalism then regarded as extreme; and treating with a severity then most unusual the English constitution, the English law, and all parties and classes who possessed at that time any influence in this country, he may have expected reputation but certainly not advancement in life from its publication, nor could he have supposed that it would raise up anything but enemies for him in powerful quarters, least of all could he have expected favour from the East India Company, on the acts of whose government he had made so many severe comments: though in various parts of his book he bore a testimony in their favour, which he felt to be their due, viz. that if the acts of any other government had the light of publicity as completely let in upon them, they would probably still less bear scrutiny; and that no government on record had on the whole given so much proof (to the extent of its lights) of good intention towards its subjects.

On learning however in the spring of 1819, about a year after the publication of his History, that the East India Directors desired to strengthen that part of their establishment which was employed in carrying on the correspondence with India, my father declared himself a candidate for that employment, and to the credit of the Directors, successfully. He was appointed one of the Assistants of the Examiner of Indian Correspondence; officers whose duty it is to prepare drafts of despatches to India in the principal departments of administration. In this office and in that of Examiner which he subsequently attained, the influence which his talents, his reputation, and his decision of character gave him, enabled him to a great extent to throw into his drafts of despatches, and to carry through the ordeal of the Court of Directors and Board of Control without having their force much weakened, his real opinions on Indian subjects. Those despatches, in conjunction with his History, did more than had ever been done before to promote the improvement of India, and teach Indian officials to understand their business. If a selection of them were published, they would, I am convinced, place his character as a practical statesman quite on a level with his reputation as a speculative writer.

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This new gemploymentg caused no relaxation in his attention to my education. It was in this same year 1819 that he went through with me a course of political economy. His loved and intimate friend, Ricardo, had shortly before published the hbook which made so great an epoch in political economy; a book whichh would never have been published or written, but for the earnest entreaty and strong encouragement of my father; for Ricardo, the most modest of men, though firmly convinced of the truth of his doctrines, believed himself so incapable of doing them justice in point of exposition and expression, that he shrank from the idea of publicity. The same friendly encouragement induced Ricardo, a year or two later, to become a member of the House of Commons, where during the few remaining years of his life, unhappily cut short in the full vigour of his intellect, he rendered so much service to his and my father’s opinions both in political economy and on other subjects.

Though Ricardo’s great work was already in print, no didactic treatise embodying its doctrines, in a manner fit for learners, had yet appeared. My father therefore instructed me on the subject by a sort of lectures,i which he delivered to me in our walks. He expounded to me each day a part of the subject, and I gave him next day a written account of it which he made me write over and over again until it was clear, precise and tolerably complete. In this manner I went through the whole subject; and the written outline of it which jresulted from my daily compte renduj, served him afterwards as notes from which to write his Elements of Political Economy. After this I went through Ricardo, giving an account daily of what I read, and discussing in the best manner I could, the collateral points which were raised as we went on. On money, as the most intricate part of the subject, he made me read in a similar manner Ricardo’s admirable pamphlets, published during what was called the Bullion controversy. I afterwards went through Adam Smith, and in this reading it was one of my father’s main objects to make me apply to Smith’s more superficial view of political economy the superior lights of Ricardo, and detect with logical exactness what was fallacious in Smith’s arguments or erroneous in his conclusions. Such a system of instruction was excellently suited to form a thinker; but it required to be worked by a thinker, as close and vigorous as my father. The path was a thorny one even to him, and I am sure it was so to me, though I took the strongest interest in the subject. He was continually provoked by my failures kboth where success could, and where it could not,k have been expected: but in the main his method was right, and it succeeded. I do not believe that any scientific teaching ever was more thorough, or better calculated for training the faculties, than the mode in which logic and political economy were Edition: current; Page: [32] taught to me by my father. He not only gave me an accurate knowledge of both subjects but made me a thinker on both; who thought for myself almost from the first, and occasionally thought differently from him, though for a long time only on minor points, and making his opinion the ultimate standard. If I could not convince him that I was right I always supposed I must be wrong, but it sometimes happened that I did convince him, and that he altered his opinion on points in the detail of political economy which he had not much considered from representations and arguments of mine. I state this to his honor, not my own; it at once exemplifies his perfect candour and the real worth of his method of teaching.

At this point concluded what can properly be called my lessons. When I was about fourteen I left England for more than a year and after my return though my studies went on under my father’s general direction he was no longer my schoolmaster. I shall therefore pause here and turn back to matters of a more general nature connected with the part of my life and education included in the preceding reminiscences.

In the education which I have partially retraced, the point most superficially apparent is the great effort to give, during the years of childhood, lan amount of knowledgel in what are considered the higher branches of education, which is seldom acquired (if acquired at all) until the age of manhood. The experiment shews them ease with which this may be done, and places in a strong light the wretched waste of so many precious years as are spent in acquiring the modicum of Latin and Greek commonly taught to schoolboys—a waste, which has led so many of the reformers of education to propose discarding those languages altogether from general education. If I had been by nature extremely quick of apprehension, or had possessed a very accurate and retentive memory, or were of a remarkably active and energetic character, the trial would not be decisive: but nin all these natural gifts I am rather below than above parn. What I could do, could assuredly be done by any boy or girl of average capacity and healthy physical constitution: and oit is most encouraging to the hopes of improvement for the human race, that education can do so much for persons of pnot more than the ordinaryp natural gifts.

There is one cardinal point in my education which more than anything else, was the cause of whatever good it effectedo. Most boys or youths who have had much knowledge drilled into them, have their mental faculties not strengthened but Edition: current; Page: [34] overlaid by it. They are crammed with mere facts and with the opinions or phrases of others, and these are accepted as a substitute for the power to form opinions of their own. And thus the sons of eminent fathers, who have spared no pains in their education, grow up mere parroters of what they have learnt, incapable of any effort of original or independent thought. Mine, however, was not an education of cram. My father never permitted anything which I learnt, to degenerate into a mere exercise of memory. He strove to make the understanding not only go along with every step of the teaching but if possible precede it. His custom was, in the case of everything which could be found out by thinking, to make me strive and struggle to find it out for myself, giving me no more help than was positively indispensable. As far as I can trust my remembrance, I acquitted myself very lamely in this department; my recollection of such matters is almost wholly of failures, hardly ever of successes. It is true, the failures were often in things in which success was almost impossible. I remember at some time in my twelfth or thirteenth year, qhis indignation at my using the common expression that something was true in theory but required correction in practice: and how, after making me vainly strive to define the word theory, he explained its meaning and shewed the fallacy of the form of speech which places practice and theory in opposition: leaving me fully persuaded that in being unable to give a definition of Theory, and in speaking of it as something which might be opposed to practice I had shewn unparalleled ignorance. In this he seems, and perhaps was, very unreasonable; but I think, only in rbeing angryr at my failure. A pupil from whom nothing is ever demanded which he cannot do, never does all he can.

One of the evils most liable to attend on any sort of early proficiency, and which often fatally blights its promise, my father most sedulously guarded against. This was self conceit. He kept me, with extreme vigilance, out of the way of hearing myself praised, or of being led to make self complimentary comparisons between myself and others. From his own intercourse with me I could derive none but a very humble opinion of myself; and the standard of comparison he always held up to me, was not what other people did, but what could and ought to be done. He completely succeeded in preserving me from the sort of influences he so much dreaded. sI was not at alls aware that my attainments were anything unusual at my age. If as unavoidably happened I occasionally had my attention drawn to the fact that some other boy knew less than myself, I supposed, not that I knew much, but that he for some reason or other knew little: or rather that the things he knew were differentt. My state of mind was no more arrogance than it was humility. I never Edition: current; Page: [36] thought of saying to myself, I am, or I can do, so and so. I neither estimated myself highly nor lowly: I did not think of estimating myself at all. uI was sometimes thought to be self conceited, probably because I was disputatious, and did not scruple to give direct contradictions to what was said. I suppose I acquired this manner fromu having been encouraged in an unusual degree to talk on matters beyond my age, and with grown persons, while I never had inculcated on me the usual respect for them. My father did not correct this ill breeding and impertinence, probably from not seeing it, for I was always too much in awe of him to be otherwise than extremely subdued and quiet in his presence. vYet with all this I had no notion of any superiority in myself. I remember the very place in Hyde Park where, in my fourteenth year, on the eve of my leaving my father’s house for a year’s absence, he told me, that I should find, as I got acquainted with new people, that I had been taught many things which youths of my age did not commonly know; and that many people would be disposed to talk to me of this, and to flatter me about itw. What other things he said on this topic I remember xvery imperfectlyx; but he wound up by saying, that whatever I did know more than others, could not be ascribed to any merit in me, but to the very unusual advantage which had fallen to my lot, of having a father who was able to teach me, and willing to sacrifice the necessary trouble and time; that it was no matter of praise to me, to know more than those who had not had a similar advantage, but the utmost disgrace to me if I did not. I have a distinct remembrance, that the suggestion thus for the first time made to me that I knew more than other youths who were considered well educated, was to me a piece of information; to which as to all other things which my father told me, I gave implicit credence, but which did not at all impress me as a personal matter. I felt no disposition to glorify myself upon the circumstance that there were other persons who did not know what I knew, nor had I been accustomed to flatter myself that my acquirements, whatever they were, were any merit of mine: but now when my attention was called to the subject, I felt that what my father had said respecting my peculiar advantages was exactly the truth and common sense of the matter, and it fixed my opinion and feeling from that time forward.y

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In my, as in all other education, the moral influences, which are so much more important than all others, are at the same time the most complicated, and the most difficult to specify with any approach to exactnessa. I shall not attempt to enter into the detail of the circumstances by which in this respect my character may have been shaped. I shall confine myself to a few leading points, which are essential to a correct account of my educationa.

I was brought up from the first without any religious belief, in the ordinary meaning of the term. My father, educated in the creed of Scotch presbyterianism, had by his own studies and reflections been early led to reject not only all revealed religion but the belief in a supreme governor of the world. I have heard him say that the turning point of his mind on this subject was his reading Butler’s Analogy. That work, of which he always continued to speak with respect, kept him, as he said, a believer in Christianity for (if I remember right) a whole year; by shewing him that whatever are the difficulties in believing that the Old and New Testaments proceeded from a perfectly wise and good being, there are the same, and even greater difficulties in conceiving that a wise and good being could have been the maker of the universe. He considered Butler’s argument conclusive against the only opponents for whom it was intended, those who, rejecting revelation, adhere to what is called Natural Religion. Those who admit an omnipotent and allbenevolent maker and ruler of such a world as this, can say blittleb against Christianity but what can bec retorted against themselves. Finding, therefore, no halting place in Deism, he remained in a state of perplexity, until, doubtless after many struggles, he yielded to the conviction, that of the origin of things nothing whatever can be known. These particulars are important, because they shew that Edition: current; Page: [42] my father’s rejection of all religious belief was not, as many might suppose, primarily a matter of logic and evidence; the grounds of it were moral, still more than intellectual. He found it impossible to believe that a world so full of evil was made by a being of perfect goodness. His intellect spurned the subtleties by which men attempt to elude this open contradiction. His aversion to religion was like that of Lucretius: dhe regarded it with the feelings due not to a mere mental delusion but to a greatd moral evil. He looked upon religion as the greatest enemy of morality: first, by setting up factitious excellencies, belief in creeds, devotional feelings and ceremonies, not connected with the good of human kind and causing them to be accepted as substitutes for real virtues: but above all by radically vitiating the standard of morals; making it consist in doing the will of a being on whom it lavishes ethe most servilee phrases of adulation but whom in sober truth it depicts as eminently hateful. I have a hundred times heard him say, that all ages and nations have represented their gods as wicked, in an increasing progression; that mankind have gone on adding trait after trait till they reached the most perfect conception of wickedness which the human mind could devise, and called this God and prostrated themselves before it. This fne plus ultraf he considered to be embodied in the idea of God as represented in the Christian creed. Think (he used to say) of a being who would make a Hell—who would create the human race with the infallible foreknowledge and therefore with the intention that the great majority of them were to be consigned to infinite torment. gThe time, I too believe, is not very far distant when all persons with any sense of moral good and evil will regard this horrible conception of an object of worship with the same indignation with which my father regarded it. That they have not done so hitherto, is owing to the infantine state of the general intellect of mankind, under the wretched cultivation which it has received. Such howeverg is the facility with which mankind believe at one and the same time contradictory things; and so few are those who draw from what they receive as truths, any consequences but those recommended to them by their feelings; that multitudes have held the belief in an omnipotent author of Hell, and have nevertheless identified that Being with the best conception they knew how to form of perfect goodness. Their worship was not paid to the demon which Edition: current; Page: [44] such a Being as they imagined would really be, but to their own ideal of excellence. The evil is, that such a belief keeps the ideal wretchedly low; and crushes all thought which has any tendency to raise it. Believers shrink from every train of thought which would lead to a clear conception and an elevated standard of excellence, because they feel (even when they do not distinctly see) that any such would conflict with many of the dispensations of nature, and with many doctrines of the Christian creed. And thus morality continues a matter of blind tradition, with no consistent principle or feeling to guide it.

It would have been totally inconsistent with my father’s ideas of duty, to allow me to imbibe notions contrary to his convictions and feelings respecting religion: and he himpressed upon me from the firsth that the manner in which the world came into existence was a subject on which nothing was known; that the question “Who made me?” cannot be answered, because we have no experience from which to answer it; and that any answer only throws the difficulty a step further back,i since the question immediately presents itself, Who made God? He at the same time took care that I should be acquainted with what had been thought by mankind on these impenetrable problems. It has been seen how early he made me a reader of ecclesiastical history: and he taught me to take the strongest interest in the Reformation, as the great and decisive contest against priestly tyranny and for liberty of thought.

I am thus one of the very few examples, in this country, of one who has, not thrown off religious belief, but never had it. I grew up in a negative state with relation to it. I looked upon the modern exactly as I did upon the Greek religion, as something which in no way concerned me. It did not seem to me more strange that English people should believe what I did not believe, than that the men whom I read about in Herodotus should have done so.j History had made the variety of opinions among mankind a fact familiar to me, and this was but a prolongation of that fact. This point in my early education, however, had incidentally one bad consequence deserving notice. In giving me an opinion contrary to that of the world, my father thought it necessary to give it as one which could not prudently be avowed to the world. This lesson of keeping my thoughts to myself at that early age, could not but be morally prejudicial; though my limited intercourse with strangers, especially such as were likely to speak to me on religion, prevented me from being placed in the alternative of avowal or hypocrisy. I remember two occasions in my boyhood on which I felt placed in this alternative and in both cases I avowed my disbelief and defended it. My opponents in both cases were boys, considerably older than myself; one of them I certainly staggered at the time, but Edition: current; Page: [46] the subject was never renewed between us; the other, who seemed surprised and somewhat shocked, did his best to convince me, but it is hardly necessary to say, without effect.

kThe great advance in liberty of discussion which is one of the points of difference between the present time and that of my childhood, has greatly altered the moralities of this question; and I think that few men of my father’s intellect and public spirit, holding with such intensity of moral conviction as he did, unpopular opinions on religion or on any other of the great subjects of thought, would now either practise or inculcate the withholding of them from the world; unless in those cases, becoming rarer every day, in which frankness on these subjects would risk the loss of means of subsistence. On religion in particular it appears to me to have now become a duty for all who being qualified in point of knowledge, have on mature consideration satisfied themselves that the current opinions are not only false but hurtful, to make their dissent known. At least those are bound to do so whose station, or reputation, gives their opinion a chance of being attended to. Such an avowal would put an end, at once and for ever, to the vulgar prejudice that what is called, very improperly, unbelief, is connected with any bad qualities either of mind or heart. The world would be astonished if it knew how great a proportion of its brightest ornaments, of those most distinguished both for wisdom and virtue, are complete sceptics in religion; many of theml refraining from avowal, less from personal considerations, than from a conscientious though in my opinion a most mistaken apprehension lest by speaking out what would tend to weaken existing beliefs they should do harm instead of good.

Of unbelievers (so called) as well as of believers, there are many species, including almost every variety of moral type. But the best among them, as no one who has opportunities of knowing will hesitate to say (believers rarely have that opportunity), are more genuinely religious, in the best sense of the word religion, than those who exclusively arrogate to themselves the title. Though they may think the proofs insufficient that the universe is a work of design, and assuredly believe that it cannot have a Creator and Governor who is perfect both in power and in goodness,m they nhave that which constitutes the principal worth of all religions whatever, an ideal conception of a perfect character which they take as the guide of their consciencen; and this ideal oof goodo is usually far nearer to perfection than Edition: current; Page: [48] the objective Deity of those, who think themselves obliged to find perfection in the author of a world so crowded with suffering and so deformed by injustice.k

pMy father’s moral convictions, entirely dissevered from religion, were very much of the character of those of the Greek philosophers: and were delivered with the force and decision which characterized all that came from him. Even at the very early age at which I read with him the Memorabilia of Xenophon, I imbibed from that book and from his comments a deep respect for the character of Socrates; who stood in my mind as a model of ideal excellence: and I remember how, at the same time of life, my father impressed on me the lesson of the “Choice of Hercules.” At a later period the lofty moral standard exhibited in the writings of Plato, took great effect on me. My father’s moral inculcations were at all times mainly those of the “Socratici viri”: justice, temperance, veracity, perseverance; readiness to brave pain and especially labour; regard for the public good; estimation of persons according to their merits, and of things according to their intrinsic usefulness; a life of exertion, in contradistinction to one of self indulgent indolence. These and other moralities were mostly conveyed by brief sentences, uttered as occasion arose, of stern reprobation or contempt.p

But though direct moral teaching does much, indirect does more; and the effect my father had on my character, did not depend merely on what he said or did with that direct object, but also, and still more, on what manner of man he was.

In his views of life he partook of the character of the Stoic, the Epicurean, and the Cynic. In his personal character the Stoic predominated: his standard of morals was Epicurean, in so far as that it was utilitarian, taking as the sole test of right and wrong, the tendency of actions to produce pleasure or pain. But he had (and this was the Cynic element) scarcely any belief in pleasure; at least in his later years, of which alone on this subject I can speak confidently. He deemed very few pleasures worth the price which at all events in the present state of society, must be paid for them. The greatest miscarriages in life he considered attributable to the overvaluing of pleasures. Accordingly, temperance in the large sense intended by the Greek philosophers—stopping short at the point of moderation in all indulgences—was with him as with them, almost the cardinal point of moral precept. His inculcations of this virtue fill a large place in my childish recollectionsq. He thought rhuman life a poor thing at best,r after the freshness of youth and of unsatisfied curiosity had gone by. This was a topic on which he did not often speak, especially, it may be supposed, in the presence of young persons: but when he did, Edition: current; Page: [50] it was with an air of profound and habitual conviction. He would sometimes say that if life were made what it might be, by good government and good education, it would then be worth having: but he never spoke with anything like enthusiasm even of that possibility. He never varied in rating intellectual enjoyments above all others, even in their value as pleasures, independently of ulterior consequences. The pleasures of the benevolent affections he placed high in the scale; and used to say, that he had never known a happy old man, except those who were able to live over again in the pleasures of the young. For passionate emotions of all sorts, and for everything which has been said or written in exaltation of them, he professed the greatest contempt: he regarded them as a form of madness; “the intense” was with him a bye-word of scornful disapprobation. He regarded as an aberration of the moral standard of modern times, compared with that of the ancients, the great stress laid upon feeling. Feelings, as such, he considered to be no proper subjects of praise or blame; Right and wrong, good and bad, he regarded as terms having reference only to conduct; to acts and omissions; there being no feeling which may not lead, and does not frequently lead, either to good or to bad actions: even conscience, even the desire to act right, often leading people to act wrong. Consistently carrying out the doctrine, that the object of praise and blame should be the discouragement of wrong conduct and the encouragement of right, he refused to let his praise or blame be influenced by the motive of the agent. He blamed as severely what he thought bad actions when the motive was a sense of duty as if the agents had been consciously evil doers. sHe would not have accepted as a plea in mitigation for inquisitors, that they conscientiously believed burning heretics to be a sacred duty. But though he did not allow sincerity of purpose to soften his disapprobation of actions, it had its full effect on his estimation of characters;s no one prized conscientiousness and rectitude of intention more highly, or was more incapable of valuing any person in whom he did not feel assured of it. But he disliked people quite as much for any other deficiency, provided he thought it equally likely to make them act ill. He disliked, for instance, a fanatic in any bad cause, as much or more than one who adopted the same cause from self interest, because he thought him still more likely to be practically mischievous.[*] And thus his aversion to many intellectual errors, or what he regarded as such, partook, in a certain sense, of the character of a moral feeling.t This sentiment, though persons who do not care about opinions may confound it with intolerance, is inevitable to any earnest mind. Those who, holding opinions Edition: current; Page: [52] which they deem immensely important and their contraries prodigiously hurtful, have any strong feeling of care for the general good, will necessarily dislike those who think wrong what they think right, and right what they think wrong. uThey will not, or at least they ought not, to desire to punish them for their sincere opinions, and this forbearance, flowing not from indifference but from a conscientious sense of the importance to mankind of freedom of opinion, is the only kind of tolerance which is commendable. I grant that an earnest person may dislike others on account of opinions which do not merit dislike. But if he neither himself does them any ill office, nor connives at its being done by others, he is not intolerant; nor does he err because he judges them by his own standard, but because his own standard is wholly or partially wrong; and because his antagonism to the opinions he dislikes is a stronger principle than his desire to enlarge and rectify his own doctrines.u

vPersonally I believe my father to have had much greater capacities of feeling than were ever developed in him. He resembled almost all Englishmen in being ashamed of the signs of feeling, and by the absence of demonstration, starving the feelings themselves. In an atmosphere of tenderness and affection he would have been tender and affectionate; but his ill assorted marriage and his asperities of temper disabled him from making such an atmosphere. It was one of the most unfavourable of the moral agencies which acted on me in my boyhood, that mine was not an education of love but of fear. I do not mean, for I do not believe, that boys can be induced to apply themselves with vigour, and what is so much more difficult, perseverance, to dry and irksome studies, by the sole force of persuasion and soft words. Much must be done and much must be learnt by children, for which rigid discipline and known liability to punishment are indispensable as means. It is no doubt a very laudable effort, in the improved methods of modern teaching, to render as much as possible of what the young are required to learn, easy and interesting to them. But when this principle is pushed to the length of not requiring them to learn anything but what has been made easy and interesting, one of the chief objects of education is sacrificed. I rejoice in the decline of the old brutal and Edition: current; Page: [54] tyrannical system of teaching, which however did enforce habits of application; but the new, as it seems to me, is training up a race of men incapable of doing anything which is disagreeable to them. I do not believe that fear, as an element in education, can be dispensed with; but I am sure that it ought not to be the predominant element; and when it is carried so far as to preclude love or confidence on the part of the child to those who should be the unreservedly trusted advisers of after years, and perhaps to seal up altogether the fountains of frank and spontaneous communicativeness in the child’s character, it is an evil for which a large abatement must be made from the benefits, moral and intellectual, which may flow from any other part of the education.

During this first period of my life, the habitual frequenters of my father’s house were limited to a very few persons, mostly little known, but whom personal worth, and more or less of congeniality with his opinions (not so frequently to be met with then as since) disposed him to cultivate; and his conversations with them I listened to with interest and instruction. My being an habitual inmate of my father’s study, made me acquainted with the most intimate and valued of his friends, David Ricardo, who by his benevolent countenance and kindliness of manner was very attractive to young persons, and who after I became a student of political economy, sometimes invited me to breakfast and walk with him in order to converse on the subject.v I was a more frequent visitor (from about 1817 or 1818) to Mr. Hume, who, born in the same part of Scotland as my father, and having been, I rather think, a younger schoolfellow or college companion of his, had after his return from India renewed their old acquaintance, and who coming like many others greatly under the influence of his intellect and energy of character, was induced partly by that influence to go into Parliament, and there to adopt the line of conduct by which he has earned an honorable place in the history of his country. Of Mr. Bentham I saw much more, owing to the wclose intimacy which subsisted between him and my fatherw. I do not know at what time they became first acquainted. But my father was the earliest Englishman of any great mark who thoroughly understood and in the main adopted Bentham’s general views of ethics, government, and law: and Bentham accordingly valued his society highly and xthey became intimate companionsx in a period of Bentham’s life during which he admitted much fewer visitors than was the case subsequently. yAt this time Mr. Bentham passed some part of every year at Barrow Green House, in a beautiful part of the Surrey hills, a few miles from Godstone, and there I each summer accompanied my father on a long visit. In 1813 Mr. Bentham, my father and I made an excursion, which Edition: current; Page: [56] included Oxford, Bath and Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, and Portsmouthy. In this journey I saw many things which werez instructive to me, and acquired my first taste for natural scenery, in the elementary form of fondness for a “view.” aIn the following winter we left Newington Green, and moved into a house which my father rented of Mr. Bentham, in Queen Square, Westminstera From 1814 to 1817 Mr. Bentham lived during half of each year at Ford Abbey, in Somersetshire (or rather in a parish of Devonshire surrounded by Somersetshire), and bthese intervals I had the advantage of passing at that placeb. This sojourn was, I think, an important circumstance in my education. Nothing contributes more to nourish elevation of sentiments in a people, than the large and free character of their habitations. The middle age architecture, the baronial hall and the spacious and lofty rooms of this fine old place, so unlike the mean and cramped externals of English middle class life, gave the feeling of a larger and freer existence, and were to me a sort of poetic culture, aided also by the character of the grounds in which the Abbey stood; which cwere riant and secluded, umbrageous, and full of the sound of falling waters.c

dI owed another of the fortunate circumstances in my education, a year’s residence in France, to Mr. Bentham’s brother, General Sir Samuel Bentham. I had seen Sir Samuel Bentham and his family at their house near Gosport at the time of the tour before mentioned (he being then Superintendant of the Dockyard at Portsmouth) and also during a stay of a few days which they made at Ford Abbey shortly after the peace, before going to live on the Continent. In 1820 they invited me for a six months visit to them in the South of France, ultimately prolonged to Edition: current; Page: [58] nearly a twelvemonthd. Sir Samuel Bentham, though of a character of mind very different from his illustrious brother, was a man of considerable attainments and general mental powers, with a decided geniuse for mechanical art. His wife, a daughter of the celebrated chemist Dr. Fordyce, was a woman of strong will and determined character, much general knowledge, and great practical good sense in the Edgeworth stile: she was the ruling spirit of the household, which she was well qualified to be. Their family consisted of one son (the eminent botanist) and three daughters, the youngest about two years my senior. fI am indebted to them for much instruction, and for an almost parental interest in my improvementf. When I first joined them, in May 1820, they occupied the Chateau of Pompignan (still belonging to a descendant of Voltaire’s enemy) on the heights overlooking the plain of the Garonne between Montauban and Toulouse.g I accompanied them on an excursion to the Pyrenees, including a stay of some duration at Bagnères de Bigorre, a journey to Pau, Bayonne, and Bagnères de Luchon, and an ascent of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre. In October we proceeded by the beautiful mountain route of Castres and St. Pons from Toulouse to Montpellier, in which last neighbourhood (a few miles north of Montpellier) they had just bought the estate of Restinclière, which they set about vigorously to improve.h During this sojourn in France I acquired a familiar knowledge of the French language and considerable acquaintance with French books; I took lessons in various bodily exercises, in none of which however I made any proficiency; and at Montpellier I attended the excellent winter courses of lectures at the Faculté des Sciences of the University, those of M. Anglada on chemistry, of M. Provençal on zoology, and of M. Gergonne, on logic, under the name of Philosophy of the Sciences. I also went through a course of the higher branches of mathematics under the able private tuition of M. Lenthéric, a professor at the Lycée of Montpellieri. But the greatest advantage which I derived from this episode in my life was that of having breathed for a whole year the free and genial atmosphere of Continental life. This advantage I could not then judge and appreciate, nor even consciously feel, but it was not the less real. Having so little experience of English life, and the few people I knew being mostly such as had at heart public objects of a large and personally Edition: current; Page: [60] disinterested kind, I was then ignorant of the low moral tone of English society generally; the habit of, not indeed professing, but taking for granted in all modes of implication, that conduct is of course always directed towards low and petty objects; the absence of high feelings which manifests itself by sneering depreciation of all demonstrations of them, and by general abstinence (except among the more fanatical religionists) from professing any high principles of action at all, except in those preordained cases in which such profession is put on as part of the costume or formalities of the occasion. I could not then know or estimate the difference between this manière d’être and that of a people like the French with whom elevated sentiments are the current coin of human intercourse both in writing and in private life; and though doubtlessj often evaporating in profession, are yet, in the nation at large, kept alive by constant exercise, and stimulated by sympathy so as to form an active and living part of the existence of multitudes of persons and to be recognized and understood by all. Neither could I then appreciate that general culture of the understanding which results from the habitual exercise of the feelings and which is thus carried down into the most uneducated classes of the Continent to a degree not equalled in England among the so called educated. I did not know how, among the English, the absence of interest in things of an unselfish kind, except sometimes in a special thing here and there, and the habit of not speaking to others, nor much even to themselves, about the things in which they are interested, makes both their feelings and their intellectual faculties remain undeveloped, or develope themselves only in some single and very limited direction, and reduces them to a kind of negative existence. All this I did not perceive till long afterwards: but I even then felt, though without stating it clearly to myself, the contrast between the frank sociability and amiability of French personal intercourse, and the English mode of existence in which everybody acts as if everybody else (with perhaps a few individual exceptions) was either an enemy or a bore. In France, it is true, the bad as well as the good points of individual character come more to the surface and break out more fearlessly in ordinary intercourse, than in England, but the general manner of the people is to shew, as well as to expect, friendly feeling wherever there is not some positive cause for its opposite. In England it is only of the best bred people (either in the upper or middle ranks) that as much can be saidk.

In my way through Paris to the South I stayed some days and in my return lseverall weeks in the house of M. Say, the political economist, who was a Edition: current; Page: [62] correspondent of my father, having become acquainted with him on a visit to England a year or two after the peace. I remembered M. Say as a visitor to Ford Abbey. He was a man of the later period of the French Revolution, a fine specimen of the best kind of old French republican, one of those who had never bent the knee to Bonaparte though courted by him; a thoroughly upright and brave man. He lived a quiet and studious life, made, I should think, happy by warm affections, public and private. He was acquainted with many of the chiefs of the Liberal party: but the only one of them whom I remember seeing at that time was M. Ternaux, the manufacturer, who then lived at the beautiful place formerly Necker’s at St. Ouen. The other persons of note whom I saw were M. Destutt-Tracy; M. Dunoyer; M. Duméril the zoologist; M. Clement-Desormes, the chemist; a more eminent chemist Berthollet, who was a friend of Sir S. Bentham but not of M. Say, being on the opposite side in politics; and I have pleasure in the recollection of having once seen Saint Simon, not then known as the founder either of a philosophy or of a religion but considered only as a clever original. mThe chief fruit which I carried away from the society I saw, wasm a strong interest in Continental Liberalism, of which I always afterwards kept myself au courant as much as of English politics. After passing a few weeks at Caen with an nearlyn friend of my father’s, I returned to England in July 1821.

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For the next year or so I continued my old studies, with the addition of some new ones. When I returned my father was just finishing for the press his Elements of Political Economy, and he made me perform as an exercise on the manuscript, what Mr. Bentham practised on all his own writings, namely, making what he called “marginal contents”; a short abstract of every paragraph, to enable the writer more easily to judge of, and improve, the order of the ideas, and the general character of the exposition. Shortly after this, my father put into my hands Condillac’s Traité des Sensations, and the alogical and metaphysicala volumes of his Cours d’Etudes; bthe first (notwithstanding the superficial resemblance between Condillac’s psychological system and my father’s own theory) rather as a warning than as an exampleb. I am not sure whether it was in this winter or the next that I first read a history of the French Revolution. I learnt with astonishment that the principles of democracy then apparently in so insignificant and hopeless a minority everywhere in Europe, had borne down everything before them in France thirty years earlier, and had been the creed of the nation. As may be supposed from this, I had previously had a very vague idea of that great commotion. I knew nothing about it except that the French had thrown off the absolute monarchy of Louis 14th and 15th, had put the king and queen to death, guillotined many persons, one of whom was Lavoisier, and had ultimately fallen under the despotism of Bonaparte. But from this time the subject took an immense hold of my feelings. It allied itself with all my juvenile aspirations to the character of a Edition: current; Page: [66] democratic champion. What had happened so lately, seemed as if it might easily happen again: and the greatest glory I was capable of conceiving was that of figuring, successful or unsuccessful, as a Girondist in an English Convention.

In the course of the winter of 1821/2 Mr. Austin, with whom at the time when I went to France my father had but lately become acquainted, allowed me to read Roman law with him. At this time my father, notwithstanding his abhorrence of the chaos of barbarism called English law, had turned his thoughts towards the bar as on the whole less ineligible for me than any other profession: and these readings of Roman law with Mr. Austin, who had made cBentham’s bestc ideas his own and added many others to them, were not only a valuable introduction to legal studies but an important branch of general education. With Mr. Austin I went through Heineccius on the Institutes, his Roman Antiquities, and part of his exposition of the Pandects; with the addition of a considerable part of Blackstone. It was on this occasion that my father, as a needful accompaniment to these studies, put into my hands Bentham’s principal speculations, as interpreted to the Continental world and indeed to the world in general by Dumont, in the Traité de Législation. The reading of this book was an event in my life; one of the turning points of my mental history.

My previous education had been, in a great measure, a course of Benthamism. The Benthamic standard of “the greatest happiness” was that which I had always been taught to apply; I was even familiar with an abstract discussion of it contained in a manuscript dialogue on government, written by my father on the Platonic modeld. Yet in the first few pages of Bentham it burst on me with all the force of novelty. What thus impressed me was the chapter in which Bentham examined the common modes of reasoning on morals and legislation, deduced from phrases like “law of nature,” “right reason,” “the moral sense,” “natural rectitude,” and the like, and characterized them as dogmatism in disguise, imposing its own sentiments upon other people by the aid of sounding phrases which convey no reason for the sentiment but set up the sentiment as its own reason. This struck me at once as truee. The feeling rushed upon me that all previous moralists were superseded, ande that here indeed was the commencement of a new era in thought. This impression was strengthened by the manner in which Bentham gave a scientific form to the application of the happiness principle to the morality of actions, by analysing the various classes and orders of consequences. But what most of all impressed me was the Classification of Offences; which is much more clear, compact, and imposing in Dumont’s redaction than in the original work of Edition: current; Page: [68] Bentham from which it was taken. Logic and the Dialogues of Plato, which had formed so large a part of my intellectual training, had given me a great relish for accurate classification; this taste had been strengthened and enlightened by the study of botany, on the principles of the so called Natural Method which I had taken up with great zealf during my stay in France: and when I found scientific classification applied to the large and complex subject of Punishable Acts, under the guidance of the ethical principle of Pleasurable and Painful Consequences followed out in the method of detail introduced into these subjects by Bentham, I felt taken up to an eminence from which I could survey a vast mental domain and see stretching out in the distance, intellectual results beyond all computation. As I proceeded farther, to this intellectual clearness there seemed to be added the most inspiring prospects of practical improvement in human affairs. To Bentham’s general views of the construction of a body of law I was not altogether a stranger, having read with attention that admirable compendium, my father’s article “Jurisprudence”: but I had read it with little profit, and almost without interest, no doubt on account of its extremely general and abstract character, and also because it concerned the form more than the substance of the corpus juris, the logic rather than the ethics of law. But Bentham’s subject was Legislation, of which Jurisprudence is only the formal part; and at every page he seemed to open a clearer and larger conception of what human opinions and institutions ought to be, how far removed from it they were, and how they might be made what they ought to be. When I laid down the last volume of the Traité I was a different being. The “principle of utility,” understood as Bentham understood it, and applied in the manner in which he applied it through these three volumes, fell exactly into its place as the keystone which held together the detached and fragmentary portions of my knowledge and beliefs. It gave unity to my conceptions of things. I now had opinions; a creed, a doctrine, a philosophy; in one (and the best) sense of the word, a religion; the inculcation and diffusion of which could be made the principal outward aim of a life. And I had a grand conception laid before me of changes to be made in the condition of mankind by that doctrine. The Traité de Législation winds up with what was to me a most impressive picture of human life as it would be made by such opinions and such laws as are recommended in the book. The anticipations of practicable improvement are studiously moderate, deprecating and discountenancing as reveries of vague enthusiasm much which will one day be Edition: current; Page: [70] so natural to human beings that they will be apt to ascribe intellectual and even moral obliquity to those who could ever think such prospects chimerical. But in my state of mind this apparent superiority to illusions added to the effect of Bentham’s doctrines on me, by heightening the impression of mental power. And the vista of improvement which he did open was large enough, and brilliant enough, to light up my life, as well as to give definiteness to my aspirations.

After this I read from time to time the most important of the other works of Bentham which had at that time been published, either as written by himself or as edited by Dumont. This I did for my own satisfaction: while under my father’s direction my studies were carried into the higher branches of analytic psychology. I read Locke’s Essay on the Human Understanding and wrote out an account of it, consisting of a full abstract of every chapter, with such remarks as occurred to me: this was read by, or (I think) to, my father, and discussed throughout. I went through the same processg, of my own motion, with Helvetius De l’Esprit; a book which I greatly admiredg. This writing of abstracts, subject as it was to my father’s censorship, was a most valuable exercise, by compelling precision in conceiving and expressing philosophical doctrines, whether received as truths or merely as the opinions of writers. After Helvetius, my father made me study what he deemed the really master-production in the philosophy of mind, Hartley. This book, though it did not constitute an era in my existence, like the Traité de Législation, made a very similar impression on me in regard to its immediate subject. Hartley’s explanation, incomplete as in many parts it is, of the more complex mental phenomena by the law of association, commended itself to me as a real analysis, and made me feel by contrast the insufficiency of the mere verbal generalizations of Condillac, and even of the instructive gropings and feelings-about for psychological explanations, of Locke. It was at this very time that my father commenced writing his Analysis of the Mind, which carried Hartley’s mode of explaining the phenomena to so much greater length and depth. He could only command the concentration of thought necessary for this work during the complete leisure of his annual holiday of a month or six weeks and he commenced it in the summer of 1822, the first holiday he passed at Dorking; in which neighbourhood from that time to the end of his life, with the exception of two years, he lived h(as far as his official duties permitted) for six months of every yearh. He worked at the Analysis during several successive holidays, and allowed me to read the manuscript portion by portion as it advancedi. The first instalment of it I read in this same summerj. The other principal English writers on mental philosophy I read afterwards as I felt inclined, particularly Berkeley, Hume’s Essays, Dugald Stewart, Reid, and Brown on Cause and Effect. Brown’s Lectures I did not read till two or three years later, nor at that time had my father himself read them.

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Among the things read in the course of this year which contributed materially to my developement I should mention a book, written on the foundation of some manuscripts of Bentham and published under the pseudonyme of Philip Beauchamp, entitled Analysis of the Influence of Natural Religion on the Temporal Happiness of Mankind. This was an examination not of the truth, but of the usefulness of religious belief, in the most general sense, apart from any supposed special revelation; which, of all the portions of the discussion respecting religion, is the most important in this age, in which real belief in any religious doctrine is feeble, but the opinion of its necessity for moral and social purposes almost universal; and when those who reject revelation very generally take refuge in an optimistic deism, a worship of the order of Nature or of Providence at least as full of contradictions, and as perverting to the moral sentiments, as any of the received forms of Christianity; for if the world has a ruler, and but one ruler, kthat one is certainly far less deserving of worship thank the author of the Sermon on the Mount.[*] Yet very little of a philosophical character has been written by sceptics against the usefulness of the belief in this Being. The volume bearing the name of Philip Beauchamp, which was shewn to my father in manuscript and by him given to me to read and make a marginal analysis of, as I had done of the Elements of Political Economy, made a great impression on mel, and gave me much instruction both on its express subject and on many collateral topics. On reading it lately after an interval of many years, I find it to have the defects as well as the merits of the Benthamic modes of thought, and to contain many weak arguments, but with a great overbalance of sound ones, and much good material for a more philosophic and conclusive treatment of the subjectl.

I have now, I believe, mentioned all the books which had any considerable effect on my early mental developement. From this point I began to carry on my own mental cultivation by writing still more than by reading. In the summer of 1822 I wrote my first argumentative essay: I remember very little about it except that it was an attack on what I regarded as the aristocratic prejudice that the rich were, or were likely to be, superior in moral excellence to the poor. I set about this task unprompted, except by emulation of a little manuscript essay of Mr. Grote. I recollect that my performance was entirely argumentative, without any of the declamation which the subject would admit of, and might be expected to suggest to a young writer. In that department however I was and remained very inapt. Dry argument was the only thing I could manage, or willingly attempted: though passively I was very susceptible to the effect of all composition, whether in the form of poetry or oratory, which appealed to the feelings on any basis of reason. Edition: current; Page: [74] My father was well satisfied with this essay, and as I learnt from others, even much pleased with it; but, perhaps from a desire to promote the exercise of other mental faculties than the argumentative, he advised me to make my next exercise in composition one of the oratorical kind; and accordingly availing myself of my familiarity with Greek history and ideas and with the Athenian orators, I wrote two speeches, one an accusation, the other a defence of Pericles on a supposed impeachment for not marching out to fight the Lacedæmonians on their invasion of Attica. My next essay, suggested by my father, was a reply to Paley’s Natural Theology:[*] and after this I went on writing papers often on subjects very much beyond mme, but with great benefit both from the exercise itself, and from the discussions with my father to which it ledm.

I had now also begun to converse on terms of equality, with the instructed men with whom I came in contact: and the opportunities of such contact naturally became more numerous. The two friends of my father from whom I derived most, nand with whom I most associatedn, were Mr. Grote and Mr. Austin. The acquaintance of both with him was recent, but had ripened rapidly into intimacy. Mr. Grote was introduced to my father by Ricardo, I believe in 1819 (being then about twenty-five years old), and sought assiduously his society and conversation. Already a highly instructed man, he was yet, by the side of my father, a tyro on the great subjects of human opinion; but he rapidly seized on my father’s best ideas, and made them his own: and in the department of political opinion he signalized himself as early as 1820 by a pamphlet in defence of Radical Reform, in reply to a celebrated article by Sir James Mackintosh, then lately published in the Edinburgh Review. Mr. Grote’s father, the old banker, was I believe a thorough Tory and his mother intensely Evangelical, so that for his liberal opinions he was in no way indebted to home influences. But, unlike most persons who have the prospect of being rich by inheritance, he had, though actively engaged in business as a banker, devoted a great portion of time to philosophic studies, and his intimacy with my father decided the character of his subsequent mental progress. Him I often visited, and my conversations with him on politics, ethics, religion and philosophy, gave me, in addition to much instruction, some useful practice in expressing myself and carrying on discussion by word of mouth.

Mr. Austin, a man four or five years older than Mr. Grote, was the eldest son of a retired miller in Suffolk who had made money by contracts during the war and who Edition: current; Page: [76] I othink must have beeno a man of remarkable qualities, from the fact that all his sons are of more than common ability and all eminently gentlemen. At least I can affirm this of three out of the four, and have reason to believe the same of the remaining one with whom as he went early to live abroad I was never much acquainted. The one of whom I am now speaking was for some time an officer in the army, and served in Sicily under Lord William Bentinck. After the peace he sold his commission and studied for the bar, to which he had been called and was endeavouring to get into practice at the time when my father became acquainted with him. He pcould not, like Mr. Grote, be calledp a disciple of my father, but had already formed by reading or thought, many of the same opinions, modified however by his own individual character. He was a man of great intellectual powers, which in conversation appeared still greater: from the energy and richness of expression with which, under the excitement of discussion, he was accustomed to assert and to defend some view or other of most subjects; qand from an appearance ofq not only strong but deliberate and collected will; tinged with a certain bitterness, partly derived from temperament, partly perhaps from personal circumstances, and partly from the general course of his feelings and reflexions. The dissatisfaction with life and the world, felt more or less in the present state of society by every discerning and conscientious mind, was in his case, I think, combined with habitual dissatisfaction with himself, giving a generally melancholy cast to the character, very natural to those whose passive moral susceptibilities are much more than proportioned to their active energies. For it must be said, that the strength of will of which his manner seemed to give such strong assurance, expended itself in manner, and appeared to bear little active fruits except bitterness of expression. With great zeal for human improvement, a strong sense of duty, and habitual precision both in speech and in action, he hardly ever completed any intellectual task of magnitude. He had so high a standard of what ought to be done, so exaggerated a sense of deficiencies in his own performances and was so unable to content himself with the degree of elaboration which the occasion and the purpose required, that he not only spoiled much of his work by overlabouring it, but spent so much time and exertion in superfluous study and thought that when his task ought to have been completed he had generally worked himself into an illness without having half finished what he undertook. From this mental infirmity combined with liability to frequent attacks of disabling though not dangerous ill health, he accomplished through life very little compared with what he seemed capable of; though like Coleridge he might plead as a set off that he had exercised, through his conversation, a highly improving influence on many persons, both as to intellect and sentiments. On me his influence was most salutary. It was moral in the best sense. He took a sincere and kind interest in me, far beyond Edition: current; Page: [78] what was to be expected towards a mere youth from a man of his age, standing, and what seemed austerity of character. There was in his conversation and demeanour a tone of what I have since called high-mindedness, which did not shew itself so much, if the quality existed as much, in any of the other persons with whom at that time I associatedr. My intercourse with him was the more beneficial to me owing to his being of a different mental type from any of the other intellectual men whom I frequented, and his influence was exerted against many of the prejudices and narrownesses which are almost sure to be found in a young man formed by a particular school or a particular set.

His younger brother, Charles Austin, of whom at this time sand for the next year or two I saw muchs, had also a great effect on me though of a different kind. He was but six years older than myself, and at that time had just left the University of Cambridge where he had shone with great éclat as a man of intellect and especially of brilliancy both as an orator and as a converser. His influence among his Cambridge contemporaries deserves to be regarded as an historical event; for to it may in no small degree be traced the tendency towards Liberalism in general, and towards the Benthamic and politico-economic form of Liberalism, which shewed itself among a portion of the more active minded young men of the higher classes, from this time to 1830. The Union Debating Society, then at the height of its reputation, was an arena where what were then thought extreme opinions, in politics and philosophy, were weekly asserted, face to face with their opposites, before audiences consisting of the élite of the Cambridge youth: and though many persons afterwards of more or less note (Mr. Macaulay perhaps the most conspicuous) gained their first oratorical laurels in these debates, the really influential mind among these intellectual gladiators was Charles Austin. He continued after leaving the University to be by his conversation and personal ascendancy a leader among the same class of young men who had been his associates there; and he attached me among others to his car. Through him I became acquainted with Macaulay, Hyde and Charles Villiers, Strutt, and various other young men who afterwards became known in literature or in politics, and among whom I heard discussions on many topics to a certain degree new to me. None of them however had any effect on my developement except Austin: whose influence over me tdiffered from that of the persons whom I have hitherto mentioned, in being not that of a man over a boy but of an older contemporary. Itt was through him that I first felt myself not a pupil with teachers but a man among menu. He was the first person of intellect whom I met on a ground of equality, though obviously and confessedly my superior on that common ground. He was a man who never failed to make a great impression on those with whom he came in contact, even when Edition: current; Page: [80] their opinions were the very opposite of his. The impression which he gave was that of unbounded strength, together with talents which, combined with such apparent force of will and character, seemed made to dominate the world. Those who knew him, whether friendly to him or not, always anticipated that he would play a conspicuous part in public life. It is seldom that men produce so great an immediate effect by speech unless they in some degree lay themselves out for it, and he did so in no ordinary degree. He loved to strike, and even to startle. He knew that decision is the greatest element of effect and he uttered his opinions with all the decision he could throw into them, never so well pleased as when he could astonish any one by their audacity. Very unlike his brother, who made war on the narrower interpretations and applications of the principles they both professed, he on the contrary presented the Benthamic doctrines in the most startling form of which they were susceptible, exaggerating everything in them which tended to consequences offensive to any one’s preconceived feelings. All which, he defended with such verve and vivacity, and carried off by a manner so agreeable as well as forcible, that he always came off victor, or divided the honours of the field with any, however formidable antagonist. It is my belief that much of the popular notion of the tenets and sentiments of what are called Benthamites or Utilitarians, had its foundation in paradoxes thrown out by Charles Austin. It is but fair to add, however, that his example was followed, haud passibus æquis, by younger proselytes, and that to outrer whatever was by anybody considered offensive in the doctrines and maxims of Benthamism, became at one time the badge of a certain, not very numerous, coterie of youths. All of them however who had anything in them, myself among others, quickly outgrew this boyish vanity; and those who had not, became tired of differing from other people, and left off both the good and the bad of the heterodox opinions they for some time professed.

It was in this winter of 1822/23 that I formed the plan of a little society, to be composed of young men agreeing on fundamental principles—that is, acknowledging utility as their first principle in ethics and politics, and a certain number of the principal corollaries drawn from it in the philosophy I had accepted; and meeting once a fortnight to read essays and discuss questions comformably to the premises thus agreed on. This fact would be hardly worth mentioning but for the circumstance, that the name I gave to the little society I had planned was the Utilitarian Society. It was the first time that any one had taken the title of Utilitarian, and the word made its way into the language from this humble source. I did not invent the word, but found it in one of Galt’s novels, the Annals of the Parishv. In one sentence of this book (if my remembrance is correct) the Scotch clergyman of whom it is the supposed autobiography, finding heretical doctrines creeping into his parish about the time of the French Revolution, warns some parishioner not to leave the gospel and become an utilitarian. With a boy’s Edition: current; Page: [82] fondness for a name and a banner I seized on the word, and for some years called myself and others by it as a sectarian appellation: and it came to be a little used (though never very much) by some others holding the opinions which it was intended to designate. As those opinions attracted more notice the term came to be repeated by strangers and opponents, and got into rather common use just about the time when those who had originally assumed it laid down that along with other sectarian characteristics. The society so called consisted at first of only three members, one of whom being Mr. Bentham’s amanuensis we obtained permission to hold our meetings in his house. The number never I think reached ten and the society was broken up in 1826. It had thus an existence of about three years and a half. The chief effect of it as regards myself, over and above practice in woral discussionw, was its bringing me in contact with young men less advanced than myself, among whom, as they professed the same opinions, I became a sort of leader or chief, either directing for the time, or much influencing, their mental progress. Any young man of education who fell in my way, whose opinions were not incompatible with those of the society, I endeavoured to press into its service: and several others I probably should never have known had they not joined it. Those of the members who became my intimate companions were William Eyton Tooke, the eldest son of the eminent political economist, a young man of singular worth both moral and intellectual, lost to the world by an early death; his friend William Ellis, now known by his apostolic exertions for the improvement of education; George Graham, now an official assignee of the Bankruptcy Court: and (from the time when he came to England to study for the bar, in 1824 or 1825) a man who has made considerably more noise in the world, John Arthur Roebuck.

In May 1823 my professional occupation and status were decided by my father’s obtaining for me an appointment from the East India Company, in the office of the Examiner of Indian Correspondence, immediately under himself. I was appointed in the usual manner at the bottom of the list of Clerks, to rise by seniority; but with the understanding that I should be employed from the first in preparing drafts of despatches; and be thus trained up as a successor to those who then filled the higher departments of the office. My drafts of course required at first much revision from my immediate superiors, but I soon became well acquainted with the business, and by my father’s instructions and the general progress of my own powers I was in two or three years qualified to be, and practically was, the chief conductor of the Edition: current; Page: [84] correspondence with India in one of the leading departments, that of the Native States: xand thisx has continued to be my official duty up to the present time. I know no occupation among those by which a subsistence is now gained more suitable than such as this to any one who, not being pecuniarily independent, desires to devote a part of the twenty-four hours to intellectual pursuits. The attempt to earn a living by writing for the press, can be recommended to no one qualified to accomplish anything in the higher departments of literature or speculation: for (not to speak of the uncertainty of such a means of livelihood, especially if the writer has a conscience and will not consent to serve any opinions but his own) it is evident that the writings by which one can live are not the writings which themselves live, or those in which the writer does his best. The books which are to form future thinkers take too much time to write, and when written come in general too slowly into notice and repute to be a resource for subsistence. Those who have to support themselves by literature must depend on literary drudgery, or at best on writings addressed to the multitude, and can employ in the pursuits of their choice only such time as they can spare from those of necessity; generally less than the leisure allowed by office occupations, while the effect on the mind is far more enervating and fatiguing. For my own part I have through life found office duties an actual rest from the occupations which I have carried on simultaneously with them.y They were sufficiently intellectual not to be an onerous drudgery, without being such as to cause any strain upon the mental powers of a person used to abstract thought or even to the labour of careful literary composition. The drawbacks, for every mode of life has its drawbacks, were not, however, unfelt by me. The absence of the chances of riches and honours held out by some professions, particularly the bar (which had been as I said the profession thought of for me) affected me little. But I was not indifferent to exclusion from Parliament and public life: and I felt very sensibly the more immediate unpleasantness of confinement to London, the holiday allowed by India-house practice not exceeding a month in the year, while my taste was strong for a country life and my year in France had left behind it an ardent desire for travelling. But though these tastes could not be freely indulged, they were at no time entirely sacrificed. zI passed most Sundays throughout the year in the country, often in long walksz. The month’s holiday was for a few years spent at my father’s house in the country: afterwards a part or the whole was passed in tours, chiefly pedestrian, with some one or more of the young men who were my companions: and from 1830 onwards the greater part of it was in most Edition: current; Page: [86] years employed in visits to friends whose acquaintance I made in that year, or in journeys or excursions in which I accompanied them.a France, Belgium, and Rhenish Germany have been within easy reach of the annual holiday: and two longer absences, one of three, the other of six months, under medical advice, added Switzerland, the Tyrol, and Italyb to my list. Fortunately also both these journeys occurred rather early, so as to give the benefit and charm of the remembrance to a large portion of life.

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The occupation of so much of my time by office work did not relax my attention to my own pursuits, which were never carried on more vigorouslya. It was about this time that I began to write in newspapers. The first writings of mine which got into print were two letters published towards the end of 1822 in the Traveller evening newspaper, on I forget what abstract point of political economy. The Traveller (which soon after grew into the Globe and Traveller by the purchase and incorporation of the Globe) was then the property of the well known political economist Colonel Torrens, and under the editorship of an able man, Mr. Walter Coulson (who after being an amanuensis of Bentham, became a reporter, then an editor, next a barrister and conveyancer, and is now counsel to the Home Office), had become one of the most important newspaper organs of liberal politics. Col. Torrens himself wrote much of the political economy of his paper, and had at this time made an attack on some opinion of Ricardo and my father to which at my father’s instigation I wrote an answer and Coulson out of consideration for my father and good will to me, inserted it. There was a reply by Torrens to which I again rejoined. I soon after attemptedb something more ambitious. The prosecutions of Richard Carlile and his wife and sister for publishing books hostile to Christianity, were then exciting much attention, and nowhere more than among the people I frequented. Freedom of discussion even in politics, much more in religion, was at that time far from being, even in theory, the conceded point which it at least seems to be now; and it was necessary for the holders of obnoxious opinions to be always ready to argue and reargue for liberty to express them. I wrote a series of five letters, under the signature of Wickliffe, going over the whole length and breadth of the question of free publication of all opinions on religion, and offered them to the Morning Chronicle. The first three were published in January and February 1823; the others contained things too outspoken for that Edition: current; Page: [90] journal and never appeared at all. But a paper which I wrote some time after on the same subject, a propos of a debate in the House of Commons, was inserted as a leading article: and during the whole of this year, 1823. I sent a considerable number of contributions to the Chronicle and Traveller, sometimes notices of books, but oftener letters commenting on some nonsense talked in parliament, or some defect of the law or misdoings of the magistracy or the courts of justice. In this last department the Chronicle was now rendering signal service. After the death of Mr. Perry, the whole editorship and management of the paper had fallen into the hands of Mr. John Black, long a reporter on its establishment, a man of most extensive reading and information, great honesty and simplicity of mind: a particular friend of my father, imbued with many of his and Bentham’s best ideas, which as a writer he reproduced together with many other valuable thoughts, with great facility and skill. From this time the Chronicle ceased to be the merely Whig organ it was before, and became to a very considerable extent, for the next ten years, a vehicle of the opinions of the utilitarian radicals. This was mainly by Black’s own articles, with some assistance from Fonblanque, who first shewed his eminent qualities as a writer by articles and jeux d’esprit in the Chronicle. The defects of the law and of the administration of justice were the subject on which that paper rendered most service to improvement. Up to that time hardly a word had been said, except by Bentham and my father, against that most peccant part of English institutions and of their administration. It was the almost universal creed of Englishmen, that the law of England, the judicature of England, the unpaid magistracy of England, were models of excellence. I express my sober conviction when I say that after Bentham who supplied the whole materials, the greatest share of the glory of breaking down this miserable superstition belongs to Black, as editor of the Morning Chronicle. He kept up an incessant fire against it, exposing the absurdities and vices of the law and the courts of justice, paid and unpaid, until he forced some sense of them into people’s minds. On many other important questions he became the organ of opinions much in advance of any which had ever before found regular advocacy in the newspaper press; only avoiding any direct radical confession of faith which would have brought the paper into a collision with all who called themselves Whigs, fatal to its prosperity and influence. Black was a frequent visitor of my father,c and Mr. Grote used to say that he always knew by the Monday morning’s article, whether Black had been with my father on the Sunday. Black was one of the most influential of the many channels through which my father’s conversation and personal influence made his opinions tell on the world; cooperating with the effect of his own writings in making him a power in the country such as no individual has since exercised, in a private station, by mere force of intellect and character; and a power which was often acting the most Edition: current; Page: [92] efficiently when it was least seen or suspected. I have already noticed how much of what was done by Ricardo, Hume, and Grote was done at his prompting and persuasion; he was the good genius by the side of Brougham in all he ever did for the public, either on education, law reform, or any other subject. And his influence flowed in minor streams too numerous to be specified. This influence now received a great extension by the foundation of the Westminster Review.

Contrary to what might be supposed, my father was in no degree a party to the setting up of the Westminster Reviewd. The need of a Radical review to make head against the Edinburgh and Quarterly (then in the period of their greatest reputation and influence) had been a topic of conversation between him and Mr. Bentham many years earlier, and it had then been part of their chateau en Espagne that my father should be the editore, but the idea had never assumed a practical shapee. fIn 1823 however Mr. Bentham determined to establish the review at his own cost, and offered the editorship to my father, who declined it, as being incompatible with his India House appointment. It was then entrusted to Mr. Bowring, at that time engaged in mercantile businessf. Mr. Bowring had for two or three years previous been an assiduous frequenter of Bentham, to whom he was recommended by many personal good qualities, by an ardent admiration for Bentham, a zealous adoption of many though not all of his opinions, and not least by an extensive acquaintanceship and correspondence with Liberals of all countries, which seemed to qualify him for being a powerful agent in spreading Bentham’s fame and doctrines through all quarters of the world. My father had seen little of Bowring, but knew enough of him to be convinced that he was a man of an entirely different type from what my father deemed suitable for conducting a political and philosophical review: and he augured so ill of the enterprise that he regretted it altogether, feeling persuaded not only that Bentham would lose his money, but that discredit would be brought upon radical principles. gSince however it was to be attempted, he could not refuse to write for itg. He consented therefore to write an article for the first number: and as it had been part of the plan formerly talked of between him and Bentham that a portion of the work should be devoted to reviewing the other Reviews, this article of my father’s was a general review of the Edinburgh. Before he began writing it he hput my services in requisition, toh read Edition: current; Page: [94] through all the numbers of the Edinburgh Review from its commencement, or at least as much of them as seemed important (this was not then so onerous a task as it would be now, the review having only lasted twenty years of the fifty and upwards which it now reckons), making notes for him of the articles which I thought he would wish to examine, either on account of their good or their bad qualities. The article is I think one of the most striking of all his writings, both in conception and in execution. He began with an analysis of the tendencies of periodical literature in general; pointing out that since it cannot, like a book, wait for success, but must succeed immediately or not at all, it is almost certain to profess and inculcate the opinions already held by the public to which it addresses itself, instead of attempting to rectify them. He next, by way of characterizing the position of the Edinburgh Review as a political organ, entered into a complete analysis of the British Constitution. He commented on its thoroughly aristocratic composition; the nomination of a majority of the House of Commons by a few hundred families; the different classes which this narrow oligarchy was obliged to admit to a share of power; and finally, what he called its two props, the Church, and the legal profession. He then pointed out the natural tendency of an aristocratic body of this composition, to group itself into two parties, one of them in possession of the executive, the other seeking to become so, and endeavouring to supplant the former and become the predominant section by the aid of public opinion. He described the course likely to be pursued, and the political ground occupied, by an aristocratical party in opposition, coquetting with popular principles for the sake of popular support. He shewed how this idea was realized in the conduct of the Whig party, and of the Edinburgh Review, as the chief literary organ of that party. He noted as their principal characteristic what he termed “seesaw”; writing alternately on both sides of every question which touched the power or interest of the governing classes: sometimes in different articles, sometimes in different parts of the same article. And this he illustrated by copious specimens. So formidable an attack on the Whig party and policy had never before been made; nor had so great a blow ever been struck, in this country, for radicalism: and there was not, I believe, any person living who could have written that article except my father.*

In the meantime the nascent review had formed a junction with another project, of a purely literary periodical to be edited by Mr. Henry Southern, afterwards known as a diplomatist, then a literary man by professionj. The two editors agreed Edition: current; Page: [96] to unite their corps and to divide the editorship, Bowring taking the political, Southern the literary department. Southern’s review was to have been published by Longman, and that firm, though part proprietors of the Edinburgh, were willing to be the publishers of the new journal. But when all the arrangements had been made, and the prospectuses sent out, the Longmans saw my father’s attack on the Edinburgh and drew back. My father was now appealed to for his interest with his own publisher, Baldwin; to whom he spoke accordingly with a successful result. And so, amidst anything but hope on my father’s part, and that of most of those who afterwards aided in carrying on the review, the first number made its appearance.

That number was an agreeable surprise to us. The average of the articles was of much better quality than had been expected. The literary and artistic department had rested chiefly on Mr. Bingham, a barrister on the Western Circuit (subsequently a Police Magistrate) who had been some years a frequenter of Bentham, was a friend of both the Austins, and had adopted with great ardour Mr. Bentham’s philosophical opinions. Partly I believe from accident, there were in the first number no less than five articles by Bingham; and we were extremely pleased with them. I well remember the mixed feeling I myself had about the Review; the joy at finding, what we did not at all expect, that it was sufficiently good to be capable of being made a creditable organ of those who held the opinions it professed; and extreme vexation, since it was so good in the main, at what we thought the blemishes of it: there were two articles in particular which I individually took extremely to heart.[*] When however, in addition to our favourable opinion of it on the whole, we found that it had an extraordinarily large sale for a first number, and that the appearance of a Radical Review of pretensions equal to those of the established organs of parties had excited considerable attention, there was no room for hesitation, and we all became eager in exerting ourselves as much as possible to strengthen and improve it.

kMy father continued to write occasionally. First the Quarterly Review received its exposure, as a sequel to that of the Edinburgh: of his other contributions the Edition: current; Page: [98] most important were an attack on Southey’s Book of the Church in the fifth number, and a political article in the twelfth. Mr. Austin only contributed one article, but one of great merit, an argument against primogeniture, in reply to an article then lately published in the Edinburgh Review by McCulloch. Grote also was a contributor only once, all the time he could spare being already taken up by his History of Greece, which he had commenced at my father’s instigation. The article he wrote was on his own subject, and was a very complete exposure and castigation of Mitford. Bingham and Charles Austin continued to write for some numbers; Fonblanque was a frequent contributor from the third number. Of my particular set, Ellis was a regular writer up to the ninth number and about the time when he left off others of the set began: Eyton Tooke, Graham, and Roebuck. I myself was the most frequent writer of all, having contributed from the second number to the eighteenth, thirteen articlesl; chieflyl reviews of books on history and political economy, or discussions on special political topics, as corn laws, game laws, law of libel. Occasional articles of merit came in from other Edition: current; Page: [100] macquaintancesm of my father’s, and in time, of mine; and some of Dr. Bowring’s writers turned out well. On the whole however, the conduct of the review was never satisfactory to any of the persons strongly interested in its principles with whom I came in contact. Hardly ever did a number come out which did not contain several things extremely offensive to us, either in point of opinions, or of taste, or by mere want of ability. The unfavourable judgments passed by my father, Grote, the two Austins and others, were reechoed with exaggeration by us younger people: and as our nyouthful zealn rendered us by no means backward in making complaints, we led the two editors a sad life. From my remembrance of what I then was, I have no manner of doubt that we were at least as often wrong as right; and I am very certain that if the review had been carried on according to our notions (I mean those of the juniors) it would have been no better, perhaps not even so good as it was. But it is a fact of some interest in the history of English radicalism, that its chief philosophical organ was from the beginning extremely unsatisfactory to those, whose opinions it was supposed especially to represent.

In the meanwhile however the review made a considerable noise in the world, and gave a recognized status in the arena of opinion and discussion to the Benthamic type of radicalism quite out of proportion to theo number of its adherents and to the personal merits or abilities, at that time, of any but some three or four of them. It was a time, as is well known, of rapidly rising Liberalism. When the fears and animosities accompanying the war against France were ended, and people had room in their minds for thoughts on home politics, the tide began to set towards reform. The renewed oppression of the Continent by the old reigning families, the countenance given by the English Government to the conspiracy against liberty called the Holy Alliance, and the enormous weight of the national debt and of taxation occasioned by so long and costly a war, rendered the government and the parliament very unpopular: and Radicalism, under the lead of the Burdetts and Cobbetts, had assumed a character which seriously alarmed the Administration. Their apprehensions had scarcely been temporarily allayed by the Six Acts, when the trial of Queen Caroline excited a still wider and deeper feeling of hatred: and though the outward signs of this hatred passed away with its exciting cause, there arose on all sides a spirit which had never shewn itself before, of opposition to abuses in detail. Mr. Hume’s persevering scrutiny of the public expenditure, forcing the House of Commons to a division on every objectionable item in the estimates, had begun to tell with great force on public opinion. Political economy had asserted itself with great vigour in public affairs, by the Petition of the Merchants of London for Free Trade drawn up in 1820 by Mr. Tooke and Edition: current; Page: [102] presented by Mr. Baring; and by the noble exertions of Ricardo during the few years of his parliamentary life. His writings, following up the impulse given by the Bullion Controversy, and followed up in their turn by the expositions and comments of my father and McCulloch, had drawn general attention to the subject, making converts, partially at least, even among the ministers; and Huskisson, backed by Canning, had already commenced that gradual demolition of the protective system, which one of their colleagues virtually completed in 1846. pMr. Peelp, then Home Secretary, was entering, though very cautiously, into the untrodden and peculiarly Benthamic path of Law Reform. At this time, when Liberalism seemed to be becoming the tone of the times, when improvement of institutions was preached from the highest places, and a complete change of the constitution of parliament was loudly demanded from the lowest, it is not wonderful that attention was roused by the regular appearance in controversy of what seemed a new school of writers, claiming to be the philosophers and legislators of this new tendency. The air of strong persuasionq with which they wrote, while scarcely any one else seemed to have as strong faith in as definite a creed; the boldness with which they ran full tilt against the very front of both the existing political parties; their uncompromising profession of opposition to many of the most generally received opinions; the talent and verve of at least my father’s articles, and the appearance of a corps behind him sufficient to carry on a review: and finally the fact that the review sold and was read,r made the so called Bentham school in philosophy and politics fill a greater place in the public mind than it ever had done before or has done since. As I was in the head quarters of it, knew of what it was composed, and as one of the most active of its very small number might even say, quorum pars magna fui, it belongs to me more than to most others, to give some account of it.

This supposed school, then, shad no other existence than was constituted bys Edition: current; Page: [106] a considerable amount of my father’s influence: for example, Black (as before mentioned) and Fonblanque: but most of these we accounted only partial allies. Fonblanque for instance was widely divergent from us on many important points. But indeed there was by no means complete unanimity among any portion of us nor had any of usv adopted implicitly all my father’s opinions. For example, the paragraph in his Essay on Government,w in which he maintained that women might without compromising good government be excluded from the suffrage because their interest is the same with that of men—from this I and all those who formed my chosen associates, most positively dissented. It is due to my father to say that he always denied having intended to say that women should be excluded, any more than men under the age of forty, concerning whom he maintained in the very next paragraph an exactly similar thesis. He was, as he truly said, not discussing whether the suffrage ought to be restricted to less than all, but (assuming that it is to be restricted) what is the utmost limit of restriction which does not involve a sacrifice of the securities for good government. But I thought then, as I have always thought since, that even the opinion which he acknowledged was as great an error as any of those which his Essay combated; that the interest of women is exactly as much and no more involved in that of men, as the interest of subjects is involved in that of kings, and that every reason which exists for giving the suffrage to anybody, imperatively requires that it be given to women. This was also the general opinion of the younger proselytes: and it is pleasant to be able to say that Bentham on this most important point, was wholly with us.

But though none of us, probably, agreed in everything with my father, yet as I said before, his opinions gave the general character and colour to the band, or set, or whatever else it may be called; which was not characterized by Benthamism, in any sense which has relation to Bentham as a guide, but rather by a combination of Bentham’s point of view with that of the modern political economy, and with that of the Hartleian metaphysics. Malthus’s population principle was quite as much a banner, and point of union among us, as any opinion specially belonging to Bentham. This doctrine, originally brought forward as an argument against the indefinite improvability of human affairs, we took up with great zeal in the contrary sense, as indicating the sole means of realizing that improvability, by securing full employment at high wages to the whole labouring population through Edition: current; Page: [108] a restriction of the increase of their numbers. The other leading characteristics of our creed, as mainly derived from my father, may be stated as follows.

In politics, xan almost unboundedx confidence in the efficacy of two things: representative government, and complete freedom of discussion. So great was my father’s reliance on the influence of reason upon the minds of mankind, whenever it was allowed to reach them, that he felt as if all would be gained if the people could be universally taught to read, if all sorts of opinions were allowed to be preached to them by word and writing, and if through the suffrage they could nominate a legislature to give effect to their opinion when formed. He thought that if the legislature no longer represented a class interest it would mostly aim at the general interest with adequate wisdom, as the people would be sufficiently under the guidance of educated intelligence to make in general a good choice of representatives and to leave a liberal discretion to those whom they had chosen. Accordingly aristocratic government, the government of the Few in any of its shapes, was the object of his sternest disapprobation, and a democratic suffrage the principal article of his political creed, not on the ground of “rights of man,” “liberty” or any of the phrases more or less significant by which up to that time democracy had usually been defended, but as the most essential of “securities for good government.” In this too he held fast only to what he deemed essentials: he was comparatively indifferent to monarchical or republican forms, far more so than Bentham, to whom a king, in the character of “corrupter general,” appeared necessarily very noxious. Next to aristocracy, an established church, or corporation of priests, was the object of his strongest detestation; though he disliked no clergyman personally who did not deserve it, and was on terms of sincere friendship with several. I have already spoken of his rejection of both Christianity and Deism, both of which he regarded not only as false but as morally mischievous. In ethics his standard was utility or the general happiness; and his moral feelings were energetic and rigid on all points which he deemed important to human well being, while he was supremely indifferent to all those doctrines of the common morality which he thought had no foundation but in asceticism and priestcraft. He looked forward for example to a great increase of freedom in the relations between the sexes; and he anticipated as one of the beneficial effects of that freedom, that the imagination would no longer dwell upon the physical relation and its adjuncts, and swell this into one of the principal objects of life, which perversion of the imagination and feelings he regarded as one of the deepest seated and most pervading evils in the human mindy. In psychology his fundamental Edition: current; Page: [110] doctrine was the formation of all human character by circumstances, through the principle of association, and the consequent unlimited possibility of improving the moral and intellectual attributes of mankind by education. Of all his doctrines none was more valuable than this, or needs more to be insisted on: unfortunately there is none which is more in contradiction to the prevailing tendency of speculation both in his time and at present.

These various opinions were seized on with youthful fanaticism by the little knot of young men of whom I was one; and we threw into them a sectarian spirit from which, in intention at least, my father was free. What we (or rather a phantom substituted in the place of us) were by a ridiculous exaggeration called by others, namely a “school,” we for some time really hoped and aspired to be. In the first two or three years of the Westminster Review, the French philosophes of the eighteenth century were the example we sought to imitate and we hoped to accomplish as much as they did. I even proposed to myself to chronicle our doings, from that early period, on the model of Grimm’s Correspondence,[*] and actually for some time kept a journal with that intention. Charles Austin had a project of a Philosophical Dictionary, suggested by Voltaire’s, in which everything was to be spoken out freely; I entered eagerly into it and sent three or four articles (the only ones, I believe, ever written) towards a commencement of it. My particular companions and Charles Austin’s however did not much associate with one another: an attempt we made to bring them together periodically at his lodgings was soon given up, and he and I did not long travel in the same direction. The head quarters of me and my zassociatesz was not my father’s house but Grote’s, which I very much frequented. Every new proselyte and every one whom I hoped to make a proselyte, I took there to be indoctrinated. Grote’s opinions were at that time very much the same both in their strong and their weak points as those of us younger people, but he was of course very much more formed, and incomparably the superior of all of us in knowledge and present abilities.

All this however is properly the outside of our existence; or at least the intellectual part alone, and only one side of that. In attempting to penetrate inward, and to shew what we really were as human beings, I shall at present speak only of myself, of whom alone I can speak from sufficient knowledge.

I conceive, then, that for these two or three years of my life the description commonly given of a Benthamite, as a dry, hard logical machine, was as much applicable to me, as it can well be applicable to any one just entering into life; to whom the common objects of desire must in general have at least the attraction of Edition: current; Page: [112] novelty. aAmbitiona and desire of distinction I had in abundance; and zeal for what I thought the good of mankind was my most predominant sentiment, mixing with and colouring all other wishes and feelings. But this zeal, at that period of my life, was as yet little else than zeal for speculative opinions. It did not proceed from genuine benevolence or sympathy with mankind; though those qualities held btheir dueb place in my moral creed. Nor was it connected with any high enthusiasm for ideal nobleness. yet of this feeling I was imaginatively very susceptible; but there was at that time an intermission in me of what is its natural source, poetical culture; while there was a superabundance of the discipline antagonistic to it, that of mere logic and analysis. Add to this that the tendency of my father’s teachings was to the undervaluing of feeling. It was not that he was himself hard hearted or insensible; I believe it was rather from the contrary quality; he thought that feeling could take care of itself, and that there was sure to be enough of it if actions were properly cared about. Offended by the frequency with which in ethical and philosophical controversy, feeling is made the ultimate reason and justification of conduct, instead of being itself called on for a justification; while in practice, actions, the effect of which on human happiness is mischievous, are defended as being required by feeling, and the character of a person of feeling receives a credit for desert which he thought only due to actions, he had a real impatience of the attributing praise to feeling or of any but the most sparing reference to it either in the estimation of persons or in the discussion of things. In addition to the influence which this characteristic in him had on me and others, we found all our principal opinions constantly attacked on the ground of feeling. Utility was denounced as cold calculation; political economy as hard hearted; anti-population doctrines as repulsive to the natural feelings of mankind. We retorted by the word “sentimentality” which along with “declamation” and “vague generalities” served us as common terms of opprobrium. Although we were generally right as against those who were opposed to us, the effect was that the cultivation of feeling (except, indeed, the feelings of public and private duty) had very little place in the thoughts of most of us, myself in particular.c All we thought of was to alter people’s opinions; to make them believe according to evidence, and know what was their real interest, which if they knew, they would by “public opinion” enforce a regard to it from one another. While fully recognizing the superior excellence of unselfish benevolence and love of justice, we expected the regeneration of mankind not from any direct action on those sentiments but from educated intellect enlightening the selfish feelings. Although this last is an important means of improvement in the hands of those who are themselves impelled by nobler principles of action, I do not believe Edition: current; Page: [114] that any one person known to me now relies mainly upon it for the regeneration of human life.

From this neglect both in theory and practice of the cultivation of feeling, naturally resulted among other things an undervaluing of poetry, and of Imagination generally as an element of human nature. It is or was part of the common notion of Benthamites that they are enemies to poetry: this was partly true of Bentham; he used to say “all poetry is misrepresentation”: but in the sense in which he meant it, the same thing might be said of all impressive speech, of all representation or inculcation more oratorical in its character than a sum in arithmetic. An article of Bingham’s in the first number of the Westminster, in which he gave as an explanation of some things which he disliked in Moore that “Mr. Moore is a poet and therefore is not a reasoner,” did a good deal to attach the notion of hating poetry to the writers in the review. But the truth was that (to speak only of poetry in the narrowest, the purely literary sense) many of us, and Bingham himself, were great readers of poetry, and as for myself, who at that time was not so, the correct statement would be (and the same thing might be said of my father) that I was speculatively indifferent to poetry, not hostile to it. I disliked any sentiments in poetry which I should have disliked in prose, and that included a great deal. And I was wholly blind to its place in human culture as dad means of educating the feelings. Bute I was always personally very susceptible to some kinds of it. In the most sectarian period of my Benthamism I happened to look into Pope’s Essay on Man, and though every opinion in it was contrary to mine I well remember how much I was struck with the poem. I do not know whether at that time poetical composition of any higher type than eloquent discussion in verse, would have produced a similar effect on me.

This however was a mere passing state. Long before I outgrew the narrowness of my taught opinions, or enlarged in any considerable degree the basis of my intellectual creed, I had obtained in the natural course of my mental progress, poetic culture of the most valuable kind, by means of reverential admiration for the lives and characters of heroic persons; especially the heroes of philosophy. The same animating effect which so many remarkable persons have left on record that they had experienced from Plutarch’s Lives, was produced on me by Plato’s pictures of Socrates, and by some modern biographies, but chiefly by Condorcet’s Life of Turgot; a book well calculated to excite the best sort of enthusiasm, since it contains one of the noblest and wisest of lives, described by one of the noblest and wisest of men. The heroic virtue of these admirable representatives of the opinions with which I sympathized, deeply affected me, and I perpetually recurred to them as others do to a favourite poet, when needing to be carried up into the more elevated regions of feeling and thought. I may observe by the way that this book Edition: current; Page: [116] also cured me of my sectarian tastes. The two or three pages beginning “Il regardait toute secte comme nuisible,” and explaining why Turgot always kept himself distinct from the Encyclopedists, sank deeply into mef. I left off designating myself and others as Utilitarians, or by the pronoun “we,” or any other collective denomination: I ceased to afficher sectarianism: but my real, inward sectarianism I got rid of later and much more gradually.

About the end of 1824 or beginning of 1825, Mr. Bentham, having lately got back his papers on Evidence from M. Dumont (whose Traité de Preuves Judiciaires, grounded on them, was then first completed and published), resolved to have them printed in the original and bethought himself of me as capable of preparing them for the press; in the same manner as his Book of Fallacies had been recently edited by Bingham. I undertook this task, and it occupied nearly all my leisure for about a year, exclusive of the time afterwards spent in seeing the five large volumes through the press. Bentham had begun the book three times, at considerable intervals, each time in a different manner, and each time without reference to the preceding: two of the three times he had gone over nearly the whole field. These three masses of papers I had to condense into a single treatise: adopting the one last written as the groundwork, and inserting into it as much of the two others as it had not completely superseded. I had also to unroll such of Bentham’s involved and parenthetical sentences as seemed to me to overpass in obscurity what readers were likely to take the pains to understand. Further, it was Bentham’s particular desire that I should endeavour to supply, from myself, any lacunæ which he had left: and I read at his instance Phillipps on the Law of Evidence and part of Starkie[*] and wrote gcommentsg on those few among the defective points in the English rules of evidence which had escaped Bentham’s notice. I added replies to the objections which had been made to some of Bentham’s doctrines by reviewers of the Traité des Preuves, and a few supplementary remarks on some of the more abstract parts of the subject, such as the theory of improbability and impossibility. The tone of these additions, or at least of the controversial part of them, was hmore assuming than becameh one so young and inexperienced as I was: but indeed I had never contemplated coming forward in my own person; and, as an anonymous editor of Bentham, I fell into the tone of my author, not thinking that Edition: current; Page: [118] tone unsuitable to him or to the subject however it might be so to me. My name as editor was put to the book after it was printed, at Bentham’s positive desire, which I in vain attempted to persuade him to forego.

The time occupied in this editorial work was extremely well employed for my own improvement. The Rationale of Judicial Evidence is one of the richest in matter of all Bentham’s writings. The theory of evidence being itself one of the most important of his subjects, and ramifying into most of the others, the book contains a great proportion of all his best thoughts: while, among more special things, it comprises the most elaborate exposure of the vices of English law which he ever made, including not the law of evidence only, but by way of illustrative episode, the whole procedure or practice of the courts of justice. The direct knowledge, therefore, which I obtained from the book and which was imprinted on me much more thoroughly than it could have been by mere reading, was itself no inconsiderable acquisition. But this ioccupationi also did for me what might seem less to be expected: it gave a great start to my powers of composition. Everything which I wrote after this editorial work was markedly superior to anything I had written before it.j Bentham’s later style as is well known, was heavy and cumbersome, from the excess of a good quality, the love of precision, which made him introduce clause within clause into the heart of every sentence, that the reader might take into his mind all the qualifications simultaneously with the main proposition: and the habit grew on him until his sentences became, to those not accustomed to them, most laborious reading. But his earlier stile, that of the Fragment on Government, Plan of a Judicial Establishment, &c., is a model of liveliness and ease combined with fulness of matter scarcely ever surpassed: and of this earlier stile there were many striking specimens in the Manuscripts on Evidence, all of which I endeavoured to preserve. So long a course of this admirable writing had a great effect on my own; and I increased that effect by the assiduous reading of other styles, both French and English, which combined ease with force, such as Fielding, Goldsmith, Pascal, Voltaire, kand Courierk. Through these influences my writing lost the jejuneness of my early compositions: the bones and cartilages began to clothe themselves with flesh and the stile became, at times, lively and almost light.

This improvement was first shewn in a new field. Mr. Marshall, of Leeds, father of the present generation of Marshalls, an earnest parliamentary reformer, and a man of large fortune of which he made a liberal use, had been much struck with Edition: current; Page: [120] Bentham’s Book of Fallacies: and the thought occurred to him that it would be useful to publish annually the Parliamentary Debates, not in chronological order as in Hansard, but classified according to subjects, and accompanied by a commentary pointing out the fallacies of the speakers. With this intention he very naturally addressed himself to the editor of The Book of Fallacies; and Bingham, with the assistance of Charles Austin, undertook the editorship. The work was called Parliamentary History and Review. Its sale was not sufficient to keep it in existence, and it only lasted three yearsl. It excited however some attention among parliamentary and political people. The best strength of the party was put forth in it; and its execution did them much more credit than that of the Westminster had ever done. Bingham and Charles Austin wrote much in it; so did Strutt, Romilly and some other mliberal lawyersm. My father wrote one very able article; the elder Austin another. Coulson wrote one of great merit. I myself was selected to lead off the first number by an article on the principal topic of the session (1825), the Catholic Association and the Catholic disabilities.n In the second number I wrote an elaborate essay on the Commercial Crisis of 1825 and the Currency Debates. In the third I wrote two articles, one on a minor subject, the other on the Reciprocity principle in commerce, a propos of a celebrated diplomatic correspondence between Canning and Gallatino. These articles were no longer Edition: current; Page: [122] mere reproductions and applications of what I had been taught: they were original thinking, as far as that name can be applied to old ideas in new forms and relations: and there was a maturity and a well-digested character about them which pthere had not been in any of my previous performancesp. In execution therefore they were not at all juvenile; but their subjects have been so much better treated since, that they are entirely superseded, and should remain buried in the same oblivion with my contributions to the first dynasty of the Westminster Review.

During several years of this period of my life the social studies of myself and several of my companions assumed a shape which contributed very much to my mental development. The idea occurred to us of carrying on by reading and conversation, a joint study of several of the branches of science which we wished to be masters of. We assembled to the number of a dozen or more. Grote lent a room of his house in Threadneedle Street for the purpose, and his partner Prescott, one of the three original members of the Utilitarian Society, took an active part as one of our number. We met two mornings in every week, from half past eight till ten, at which time most of us were called off to our daily occupations. The subject we began with was Political Economy. We chose some systematic treatise as our text-book; my father’s Elements being our first choice. One of us (by turns) read aloud a chapter, or some smaller portion, of the book. The discussion was then opened, and any one who had an objection or other remark to make, made it. Our rule was to discuss every point, great or small, which was raised, until all who took part were satisfied with the conclusion they had arrived at; and to follow up every topic of collateral speculation which the chapter or the discussion suggested, never leaving it till we had untied every knot which we found in it. We repeatedly kept up the discussion of some single point for several weeks, thinking intently on it during the intervals of our meetings and contriving solutions of the new difficulties which had risen up in the last morning’s discussion. When we had finished in this way my father’s Elements, we went through in the same manner Ricardo’s Principles of Political Economy; and afterwards, Bailey’s Dissertation on Value. These discussions were not only instructive to those who took part in them, but brought out new views of some topics of abstract Political Economy. The theory of International Values qwhich I afterwards publishedq emanated from these conversations, as did also the modified form of Ricardo’s theory of Profits, laid down in my essay on Profits and Interest. Those among us from whom, generally speaking, any new Edition: current; Page: [124] speculations originated, were Ellis, Graham and I: though others gave valuable aid to the discussions, more especially Prescott and Roebuck; the one by his knowledge, the other by his dialectical acuteness. The theories of International Values and of Profits, were excogitated and worked out in about equal proportions by myself and Grahamr, and we at one time had thoughtsr of publishing these theories, with some other matters, in a volume of Essays bearing our joint names: but when my expositions of them came to be written I found I had so much overestimated my agreement with him, and he differed so much from the most original of the two essays, that on International Values, that I was obliged to consider the theory as now exclusively mine, and it came out as such when it was published many years after.s I may mention that tamong the alterations made by my father in revising his Elements for the third edition, several were grounded on criticisms elicited by these Conversationst, and in particular, he modified his opinions (though not to the extent of our new doctrines) on both the points which I have just touched upon.

When we had enough of political economy we took up the scholastic logic in the same manner, Grote now joining us. Our first text book was Aldrich, but being disgusted with its superficiality, we reprinted by subscription one of the most finished among the many manuals of the school logic, which my father, a great collector of such books, possessed, the Manuductio ad Logicam of the Jesuit Du Trieu. After finishing this we took up Whately’s Logic (then first republished from the Encyclopedia Metropolitana) and finally, I think, the “Computatio sive Logica” of Hobbes. These books, gone through in our manner, afforded large scope for original metaphysical speculation: and most of what has been done in the First Book of my System of Logic to rationalize and correct the principles and distinctions of the school logic and to improve the theory of the Import of Propositions, had its origin in these discussions; Graham and I as before originating most of the novelties, while Grote and others furnished an excellent tribunal or test. From this time I formed the project of writing a book on Logic, though on a much humbler scale than the one I ultimately executed.

Having done with Logic we launched into analytic psychology: and having chosen Hartley for our text book, we raised Priestley’s edition to an extravagant Edition: current; Page: [126] price by searching through London to furnish each of us with a copy. When we had finished Hartley we suspended our meetings; but my father’s Analysis being published soon after, we reassembled for the purpose of reading it. With this our exercises ended. I have always dated from these conversations my own real inauguration as an original and independent thinker. It was also through them that I acquired, or very much strengthened, a mental habit to which I attribute all that I have ever done, or ever shall do, in speculation; the habit of never receiving half-solutions of difficulties as complete; never abandoning a puzzle, but returning again and again to it till it was resolved; never allowing obscure corners of a subject to remain unexplored, because they did not seem important; nor ever thinking that I perfectly understood any part of a subject until I understood every part. It became a mental necessity with me, to require for my own complete conviction what Moliere calls “des clartés de tout,”[*] and this qualified me to make things clear to others, which is probably what I have best succeeded in as an expository writer.

Various other studies and exercises were carried on during this period by some of the same people in the same social manner. We formed a class of five or six to learn German in the Hamiltonian manner; and we held weekly evening meetings for a considerable timeu to study the theory and practice of elocution. Roebuck here stepped into the first rank; I contributed the rules I had learnt from my father, and among us we thought out a set of principles on the subject.

Our doings from 1825 to 1830 in the way of public speaking filled a considerable place in my life during those years, and had important effects on my developement.

There was for some time in existence a society of Owenites, under the name of the Cooperative Society, which held weekly public discussions. In the early part of 1825 accident brought Roebuck in contact with several of its members and led to his attending one or two of the meetings and taking part in the debate, in opposition to Owenism. Some one of us started the notion of going there in a body and having a general battle, and it fell out that Charles Austin and some of his friends entered into the project. It was carried into effect by concert with the principal members of the Society, themselves nothing loth, as they naturally preferred a controversy with opponents to a tame discussion among their own body. The question of population was proposed as the subject of debate: Charles Austin led the case on our side with a brilliant speech, and the fight was kept up by adjournment for five or six weekly meetings before crowded auditories, including along with the members of the Society and their friends, many hearers and some speakers from the Inns of Courtv. When this debate was ended another was commenced on the general Edition: current; Page: [128] merits of Owen’s system: and the contest altogether lasted about three months. It was a lutte corps à corps between Owenites and political economists, whom the Owenites regarded as their most inveterate opponents: but it was a perfectly friendly dispute. We who represented political economy had the same objects in view which they had, and took pains to shew it, and the principal champion on their side was a very estimable man with whom I was well acquainted, Mr. William Thompson of Cork, author of a book on the Distribution of Wealth, and of an Appeal in behalf of women against the passage relating to them in my father’s Essay on Government. I myself spoke oftener than any one else on our side, there being no rule against speaking wseveral times in the same debatew. Ellis and Roebuck took a prominent part, and among those from the Inns of Court who joined in the debate I remember Charles Villiers. The other side obtained also, on the population question, very efficient support from without. The well known Gale Jones, then an elderly man, made one of his florid speeches; but the speaker by whom I was most impressed although I dissented from every argument he used and from almost every opinion he expressed, was Thirlwall, the historian, since bishop of St. David’s, then a Chancery Barrister unknown, except (as I found on enquiry) by a reputation for eloquence acquired at the Cambridge Union before the era of Austin and Macaulay. His speech was in answer to one of mine. Before he had uttered ten sentences I set him down as the best speaker I had ever heard, and I do not think I have since heard a better. I made an elaborate reply to him at the next meeting,[*] but he was not there to hear it; and except a few words interchanged between us as soon as he had done speaking, of admiration on my side, and politeness on his, we remained strangers to each other until I met him at dinner at M. Guizot’s in 1840.

During or about the time when these discussions were going on, McCulloch the political economist who was then temporarily in London to deliver the “Ricardo Lectures” on political economy, threw out the idea one day to my father and me, that a society was wanted in London similar to the Speculative Society of Edinburgh in which Brougham, Horner and others first cultivated public speaking. The discussions at the Cooperative Society had put me in a frame of mind to catch at the suggestion. I liked the kind of thing in itself, and those debates seemed to give cause for being sanguine as to the sort of men who might be brought together for such a purpose in London. McCulloch mentioned the matter to several young men of influence to whom he was then giving private lessons in political economy. Edition: current; Page: [130] Some of these entered warmly into the project, particularly George Villiers (now Earl of Clarendon)x. He and his two brothers, Hyde and Charles; Romilly, Charles Austin, and I, with some others, met and completed the plan; a larger meeting was then held to constitute the Society. We determined to meet once a fortnight from November to June, at the Freemason’s Tavern, and we had soon a splendid list of members, containing, along with several members of parliament, nearly all the great speakers of the Cambridge Union and of the United Debating Society at Oxford. It is curiously illustrative of the tendencies of the time that our principal difficulty in recruiting for the society was to find a sufficient number of Tory speakers. Almost all whom we could press into the service were Liberals, of different orders and degrees. We had Charles Austin, Macaulay, Thirlwall, Praed, Samuel Wilberforce (now Bishop of Oxford), Lord Howick, Charles Poulett Thomson (afterwards Lord Sydenham), Fonblanque, Edward and Henry Lytton Bulwer, and many others whom I cannot now recollect, who made themselves afterwards more or less conspicuous in public life. Nothing could seem more promising. But when the time for action drew near and it was necessary to fix on a President and to find somebody to open the first debate, none of our celebrities would consent to perform either office. Of the many who were pressed on the subject, the only one who could be prevailed on was a man of whom I knew very little but who had taken high honours at Oxford, and was said to have acquired a great oratorical reputation there; who some time after became a Tory member of parliament. He accordingly was fixed on both for filling the President’s chair and for making the first speech. The important day arrived: the benches were crowded: all our great speakers were present to judge of but not to help our efforts. The Oxford orator’s speech was an utter failure. This threw a damp on the whole concern: the speakers who followed were few, and none of them did their besty. The affair was a complete fiasco: and the oratorical celebrities we had counted on went away never to return, giving to me at least a lesson in knowledge of the world. Not one of the notabilities whom I have just enumerated except Praed (and he only once or twice) ever opened their lips in the society. This unexpected break-down completely altered my relation to the project. I had not anticipated taking personally a prominent part, or speaking much or often, especially at first; but I now saw that the success of the scheme depended on the new men, and I put my shoulder to the wheel. I opened the second question and from that time spoke in nearly every debate. The three Villiers’ and Romilly stuck to the scheme for some time longer, and took their part well in several debates. Robert Hildyard, a clever and vehement speaker from the Cambridge Union, then a violent radical Benthamite, since a Tory and Protectionist writer in the Morning Post and now a silent Derbyite member of Parliament, spoke two or three times well, and some new men, among others Henry Taylorz, Vernon Smith and his brother Leveson, occasionally took part. But in the main the debates during the whole season rested on me and Edition: current; Page: [132] Roebuck: and very uphill work it was in the latter part of it, even the Villiers’ and other founders of the society having ceased to attend. In the season following, 1826/27, we had acquired two excellent Tory speakers, Hayward, and Shee (now Serjeant Shee): the radical side was reinforced by Charles Buller, Cockburn, and others of the second generation of Cambridge Benthamites: and with such occasional aid and the two Tories as well as Roebuck and me for regular speakers, almost every debate was a bataille rangée between the philosophic radicalsa and the Tory lawyers, until our conflicts came to be talked about, and many persons of note and consideration came to hear us. This happened still more in the subsequent seasons, 1828 and 1829, when another set of speakers, of whom hereafter, had joined the society. Some of our debates were really worth hearing; not for oratory, but as good specimens of polemical discussion on the great questions of politics. Radicalism of the type of the Westminster and Parliamentary Reviews, was then a recognized power in politics and literature: it was the only attempt which had been made to give principles and philosophy to the Liberalism which was growing into importance, while the temporary vogue of political economy had so far encroached upon the ordinary English antipathy to theory, as to give a prestige to any pretension to treat politics scientifically. Now, some of our speeches were really better expositions than could be heard anywhere else, of our principal doctrines: and as the side of existing opinions and institutions was very ably defended by Shee with rhetoric, by Hayward with sophistry, our doctrines were fairly pitted against their opposites. At least our debates were very different from those of common debating societies, for they habitually consisted of the strongest arguments and most philosophic principles which either side was able to produce, thrown often into close and serré confutations of one another. For my own part, nothing I ever wrote was more carefully elaborated both in matter and expression than some of those speeches. My delivery was and remained bad; but I could make myself listened to; and I even acquired a certain readiness of extemporary speaking, on questions of pure argument, and could reply offhand, with some effect, to the speech of an opponent: but whenever I had an exposition to make in which from the feelings involved or from the nature of the ideas to be developed, expression seemed important, I always most carefully wrote the speech and committed it to memory, and I did this even with my replies, when an opportunity was afforded by an adjourned debate. Therefore bmanyb of my speeches were of some worth as compositions, to be set against a bad and ungraceful manner. I believe that this practice greatly increased my power of effective writing. The habit of composing speeches for delivery gave me not only an ear for smoothness and rhythm but a practical sense for telling sentences and an immediate criterion of their telling property, by their effect on a mixed audience.

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The Society and the preparation for it, together with the preparation for the morning conversationsc which were going on simultaneously, occupied the greater part of my leisure; and made me feel it personally a relief when, in the spring of 1828, I ceased to write for the Westminster Review. The review had fallen into difficulties. Though the sale of the first number had been encouraging, the permanent sale was never, I believe, sufficient to pay the expenses on the scale on which the review was carried on. Those expenses had been considerably, but not sufficiently, reduced. One of the editors, Southern, had resigned; and some of the writers, including my father and me, who had been paid like other contributors for our earlier articles, had latterly written without payment. Nevertheless the original funds contributed by Bentham were nearly or quite exhausted, and if the review was to be continued some new arrangement for carrying it on became indispensable. My father and I had several conferences with Bowring on the subject. We were willing to do our utmost for maintaining the review as an organ of our opinions, but not under Bowring’s editorship: while the impossibility of its any longer supporting a paid editor, afforded a ground on which, without affront to him, we could propose to dispense with his services. We and some of our friends were prepared to carry on the review as unpaid writers, either finding among ourselves an unpaid editor, or dividing the editorship among us. But while this negociation was proceeding, with Bowring’s apparent acquiescence, he was carrying on another, in a different quarter (as it afterwards appeared, with Colonel Perronet Thompson),d of which we received the first intimation in a letter from Bowring as editor saying that an arrangement had been made and proposing to us to write for the next number, with promise of payment. We thought the concealment which he had practised on us, while seemingly entering into our own project, an affront; and even had we not thought so, we were indisposed to take any further trouble for the review under his management. Accordingly my father excused himself from writing (though two or three years later he did write one political article, being strongly urged). As for me, I absolutely refused. And thus ended my connexion with the original Westminster. The last article which I wrote in it had cost me more time and trouble than any previous; but it was a labour of love, being a defence of the early French revolutionists against the Tory misrepresentations of Sir Walter Scott in his Life of Napoleon. For this the number of books which I read, making notes and extracts, even the number which I bought (for in those days there was no epublic or subscriptione Library from which books of reference could be taken home), far exceeded the worth of the immediate object; but I had a half formed intention of writing a History of the French Revolution: and though I never executed it, my collections afterwards served Carlyle for a similar purpose.

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For some years after this I wrote very little, and nothing regularly, for publication: and great were the advantages I derived from the intermission. It was of immense importance to me at this period, to be able to digest and mature my thoughts with a view to my own mind only, without any immediate call for giving them out in print.a Had I gone on writing it would have much disturbed the important transformation in my opinions and character which took place during these years. The origin of this transformation, or at least the process by which I was prepared for it, can only be explained by turning some distance back.

From the winter of 1821, when I first read Bentham, and especially from the commencement of the Westminster Review, I had what might truly be called an object in life; to be a reformer of the world. My conception of happiness was entirely identified with this object: the personal sympathies I wished for were those of fellow labourers in this enterprise; I picked up as many flowers as I could by the way, but as a serious and permanent personal satisfaction to rest upon, my whole reliance was placed on this: and I was accustomed to felicitate myself on the certainty of a happy life which I enjoyed by placing my happiness in something durable and distant, in which some progress might be always making, but which could never be exhausted by complete attainment. This did very well for several years, during which the general improvement going on in the world, and the idea of myself as engaged with others in struggling to promote itb, seemed enough to fill up an interesting and animated existence. But the time came when I awakened from this as from a dream. It was in the autumn of 1826. I wasc in a dull state of nerves, such as everybody is occasionally liable to, unsusceptible to enjoyment or pleasurable excitement: one of those moods in which what is pleasure at other times, becomes dinsipid and indifferentd. In this frame of mind it occurred to me to Edition: current; Page: [138] put the question distinctly to myself, “Suppose that all your objects in life were realized, that all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to, could be completely effected at this very instant; would this be a great joy and happiness to you?” and an irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered “No!” At this my heart sank within me; the whole foundation on which my life was constructed fell down. All my happiness was to have been found in the continual pursuit of this end. The end had ceased to charm, and how could there ever again be excitement in the means? I had nothing left to live for.

At first I ehopede that the cloud would pass away of itself: but it did not. A night’s sleep, the sovereign remedy for the smaller vexations of life, had no effect on it. I awoke to a renewed consciousness of the woful fact. I carried it with me into all companies, into all occupations. Hardly anything had power to cause me even a few minutes oblivion of it. fFor some months thef cloud seemed to grow thicker and thicker. The lines in Coleridge’s poem “Dejection” exactly describe my case:

  • A grief without a pang, void, dark and drear
  • A drowsy, stifled, unimpassioned grief
  • Which finds no natural outlet or relief
  • In word, or sigh, or tear.

In vain I sought relief from my favourite books, those memorials of past nobleness and greatness from which I had always hitherto drawn strength and animation. I read them now without feeling, or with the accustomed feeling minus all its charm; and I gbecame persuadedg that my love of mankind and of excellence for their own sake, had worn itself out. I sought no relief by speaking to others of what I felt. If I had loved any one sufficiently to make the confiding to them of my griefs a necessity, I should not have been in the condition I was. I was conscious too that mine was not an interesting or in any way respectable distress. There was nothing in it to attract sympathy. Advice if I had known where to seek it would have been most precious. The words of Macbeth to the physician often recurred to my thoughts. But there was no one on whom I could build the faintest hope of such assistance. My father, to whom I should most naturally have had recourse as an adviser in any practical difficulties, was the last person to whom in such a case as this I looked for help. Everything convinced me that he had no knowledge of any such mental state as I was suffering from, and that even if he could be made to understand it he was not the physician who could heal it. My education, which was wholly his work, had been conducted without any regard to the possibility of its ending in this result; and I saw no use in endeavouring to prove to him that his plans Edition: current; Page: [140] had failed, when the failure was probably irremediable and at all events beyond the power of his remedies. Of other friends I had at that time none to whom I had any hope of making my condition intelligible. It was however abundantly intelligible to myself; and the more I dwelt upon it, the more hopeless it appeared.

hMy course of study had led me to believeh that all mental and moral feelings and qualities, whether of a good or a bad kind, were the results of association; that we love one thing and hate another, have pleasure in one sort of action or contemplation and pain in another sort, through the clinging of pleasurable and painful ideas to those things from the effect of education or of experience. As a iconsequence of this, I had always heard it maintained by my father, and was myselfi convinced, that the object of education should be to form the strongest possible associations of the salutary class; associations of pleasure with all things beneficial to the great whole, and of pain with all things hurtful to it. All this appeared inexpugnable, but it now seemed to me on retrospect, that my teachers had occupied themselves but superficially with the means of forming and keeping up these salutary associations. They seemed to have trusted altogether to the old familiar instruments, praise and blame, reward and punishment. Now I did not doubt that by these means, begun early and applied vigilantly, intense associations of pain and pleasure might be raised up, especially of pain, and might produce desires and aversions capable of lasting undiminished to the end of life. But there must always be something artificial and casual in associations thus generated: the pains and pleasures thus forcibly associated with things, are not connected with them by any natural tie; and it is therefore, I thought, essential to the durability of these associations, that they should have become so intense and inveterate as to be practically indissoluble before the habitual exercise of the power of analysis had commenced. For I now saw, or thought I saw, what I had always before received with incredulity—that the habit of analysis has a tendency to wear away the feelings. This is a commonplace, but it is true, and only errs in being but a half-truth. The habit of analysis has really this tendency when no other mental habit is cultivated, and the analysing tendency remains without its natural complements and correctives. At this time I did not see what these complements and correctives are. The very excellence of analysis (I argued) is that it tends to weaken and undermine whatever is prejudice; that it enables us mentally to separate ideas which have only casually clung together, and no associations whatever could ultimately resist its dissolving force, were it not that we owe to analysis our clearest knowledge of the permanent sequences in nature; the real connexions between things, quite independent of our will and feelings; natural laws by which, in many cases, one thing is inseparable from another, and which laws, in proportion as they are clearly perceived and imaginatively realized, cause the ideas of things which always accompany one another in fact, to cohere more and more closely in Edition: current; Page: [142] conception. Analytic habits may thus even strengthen the associations between causes and effects but tend to weaken all those which are, to speak familiarly, a mere matter of feeling. They are, therefore (I thought), favourable to prudence and clearsightedness, but a perpetual worm at the root both of the passions and of the virtues: and above all, fearfully undermine all desires and all pleasures which are the result of association, that is, according to the theory I held, all except the purely physical and organic: of the entire insufficiency of which, to make life desirable, no one had a stronger conviction than I had. These were the laws of human nature by which, as it seemed to me, I had been brought to my present state. jAll those to whom I looked up, were of opinionj that the pleasures of sympathy with human beings, and the feelings which made the good of others and especially of mankind on a large scale the object of existence, were the greatest and surest source of happiness. I was well convinced of this, but to know that a feeling would make me happy if I had it, did not create the feeling. My education had failed, as I thought, to give me these feelings in sufficient strength to resist the dissolving influence of analysis, while the whole course of my intellectual cultivation had made precocious and premature analysis the inveterate habit of my mind. I was thus, as I said to myself, left stranded at the commencement of my voyage, with a well equipped ship and a rudder but no sail; without any real desire for the ends which I had been so carefully fitted to labour for: no delight in virtue or the general good, but also just as little in anything else. The ksourcesk of vanity and ambition seemed to have dried up within me, as completely as those of benevolence. I had had (as I reflected) some gratification of vanity at too early an age; I had obtained some distinction and felt myself to be of some importance before the desire of distinction and of importance had grown into a passion; and little as it was which I had attained, yet having been attained so early, like all pleasures enjoyed too soon, it had made me blasé and indifferent to the pursuit. Thus neither selfish nor unselfish pleasures were pleasures to me. And there seemed no power in nature sufficient to begin the formation of my character afresh and create in a mind now irrevocably analytic, fresh associations of pleasure with any of the objects of human desire.

These were the thoughts which mingled with the dry heavy dejection of the melancholy winter of 1826-7. During this time I was not incapable of my usual occupations; I went on with them mechanically, by the mere force of habit. I had been so drilled in a certain sort of mental exercise that I could carry it on when all the spirit had gone out of it. I even composed and spoke several speeches at the debating society; how, or with what degree of worth I know not. Of four years continual speaking at that society, this is the only year of which I remember next to nothing. Two lines of Coleridge, in whom alone of all writers I have found a true description of what I felt, were often in my thoughts, not at this time, but in a later period of the same mental malady.

Edition: current; Page: [144]
  • Work without hope draws nectar in a sieve
  • And hope without an object cannot live.

I often asked myself, if I could, or was bound, to live on, when life must be passed in this manner. I generally answered to myself, that I did not think I could possibly bear it beyond a year. When however not more than half that length of time had passed, a small ray of light broke in upon my gloom. I was reading, accidentally, Marmontel’s Memoirs, and came to the passage where he relates his father’s death, the distressed position of his family, and how he, then a mere boy, by a sudden inspiration, felt and made them feel that he would be everything, would supply the place of everything to them. A vivid conception of lthis scenel came over me, and I was moved to tears. From this moment my burthen grew lighter. The oppression of the thought that all feeling was dead within me, was gone. I was no longer hopeless. I was not a stock or a stone. I had still, it seemed, some of the material out of which all worth of character and all capacity of happiness are made. Relieved from my ever present sense of wretchedness, I gradually found that the ordinary incidents of life could again give some pleasure; that I could again find enjoyment in sunshine and sky, in books, in conversation, in public affairs, not intense, but sufficient for cheerfulness; and that there was once more, excitement though but of a moderate kind, in exerting myself for my opinions and for the public good. Thus the cloud gradually drew off, and I again enjoyed life; and though mbefore the gloom entirely passed awaym I had several relapses, some of which lasted many months, I never again was as miserable as I had been.

The experiences of this period had two very decided effects on my opinions and character. In the first place, they led me to adopt a theory of life very unlike that on which I had before acted, and having much in common with what at that time I had never heard of, the anti-self-consciousness theory of Carlyle. I never indeed varied in the conviction that happiness is the test of all rules of conduct, and the end of life. But I now thought that this end was only to be attained by not making it the direct aim. Those only are happy (I thought) who have their attention fixed on something other than their own happiness: on the happiness of others, either individually or collectively; on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or Edition: current; Page: [146] favorite pursuit followed not as a means but as an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way. The enjoyments of life (such was now my theory) are sufficient to make life pleasant when they are taken en passant, without being made a principal object. Once make them so however and they are immediately felt to be insufficient. They will not bear a scrutinizing examination: ask yourself if you are happy, and you cease to be so. The only chance is to treat not happiness but some end external to it, as the object of life. Let your self consciousness, your scrutiny, your self interrogation exhaust themselves on that, and if otherwise fortunately circumstanced you will inhale happiness with the air you breathe, without dwelling on it or thinking about it, without either forestalling it in imagination or putting it to flight by fatal self questioning. This theory now became the basis of my philosophy of life. And I still hold to it as the best theory for those who have but a moderate degree of sensibility and of capacity for enjoyment, that is, for the great majority of mankind.

The other great change which my opinions at this time underwent, was that I now for the first time gave its proper place among the prime necessities of human well being, to the internal culture of the individual. I ceased to attach almost exclusive importance to the ordering of outward circumstances, and to the training of the human being for knowledge and for action. I now knew by experience that the passive susceptibilities needed to be cultivated as well as the active capacities, and required to be nourished and enriched as well as guided. I never for an instant lost sight of or undervalued, that part of the truth which I saw before: I never turned recreant to intellectual culture, or ceased to value the power and habit of analysis as essential both to individual and to social improvement. But I thought that it had consequences which required to be corrected by joining other sorts of cultivation with it: and the maintenance of a due balance among the faculties, now seemed to me of primary importance. The cultivation of the feelings now became one of the cardinal points in my ethical and philosophical creed. And my thoughts and inclinations turned more and more towards whatever I thought capable of being instrumental to that object.

nI nown began to find meaning in the things which I had read or heard said about the importance of poetry and art as instruments of culture. But it was some time longer before I began to know this by personal experience. The only one of the imaginative arts in which I had from childhood taken great pleasure was music: the best effect of which (and in this it surpasses perhaps every other art) consists in exciting enthusiasm; in winding up to a high pitch those feelings of an elevated kind which are already in the character, but to which this excitement gives a glow and a fervour which though transitory in its utmost height, is precious for sustaining them at other times. This effect of music I had often experienced: but like all my better susceptibilities it was suspended during my gloomy period. I had sought relief again and again from this quarter, but found none. After the tide had turned, Edition: current; Page: [148] indeed, and I was in process of recovery, I had been helped forward by music, but in a much less elevated manner. I at this time first became acquainted with Weber’s Oberon, and the extreme pleasure which I drew from its delicious melodies did me good by shewing me a source of pleasure to which I was as susceptible as ever: this good however being much impaired by the thought that the pleasure of music (as is quite true of such pleasure as this was, that of mere tune) fades with familiarity, and requires to be fed by continual novelty. And it is very characteristic both of my then state and of my general mental character at that time, that I was seriously tormented by the thought of the exhaustibility of musical combinations. The five tones and two semitones of the octave can be put together only in a limited number of ways; of these only a small proportion are beautiful; most of these must have been already discovered and there could not be room for a long succession of Mozarts and Webers to strike out as they had done entirely new and surpassingly rich veins of musical beauty. This source of anxiety may appear perhaps to resemble that of the philosophers of Laputa who feared lest the sun should be burnt out. It was however connected with the best point of my character, the only good point indeed to be found in my very unromantic and in no way honorable distress. For though my dejection honestly looked at, cannot be called other than egotistical, produced by the ruin as I thought of my fabric of happiness; yet the condition of mankind in general was ever in my thoughts, and could not be separated from my own; I felt that the evil in my life must be an evil in life itself; that the question was whether if the reformers of society and government could succeed in their objects and every person living were free and in physical comfort, the pleasures of life, being no longer kept up by privation and struggle would cease to be pleasures: and I felt that unless I could see my way to some better hope than this for the general happiness of mankind, my dejection must continue; but that if I could, I should then look on the world with pleasure, content with any fair share of the general lot.

This state of my thoughts and feelings made the fact of my first reading Wordsworth (in the autumn of 1828) an important event of my life. I took up the collection of his poems from curiosity, with no expectation of mental relief from it, though I had before resorted to poetry with that hope. In the worst period of my mental depression I had read through the whole of Byron (then new to me) to try whether a poet whose peculiar department was supposed to be that of the intenser feelings, could rouse any feeling in me. As might be expected, I got no good from Edition: current; Page: [150] this reading but the reverse. The poet’s state of mind was too like my own. His was the lament of a man who had worn out all pleasures and who seemed to think that life to all who possessed the good things of it, must necessarily be the vapid uninteresting thing which I found it. His Harold and Manfred had the same burthen on them which I had; and I was not in a frame of mind to derive any comfort from the vehement sensual passion of his Giaours or the sulkiness of his Laras. But while Byron was exactly what did not suit my condition, Wordsworth was exactly what did. I had looked into The Excursion two or three years before and found little or nothing in it; and should probably have found as little had I read it now. But the miscellaneous poems, in the two-volume edition of 1815 o(to which little valuable was added in any of the subsequent editions)o, proved to be the precise thing for my mental wants at that particular time.

In the first place, these poems addressed themselves powerfully to one of the strongest of my pleasurable susceptibilities, the love of rural objects and of natural scenery; to which I had been indebted not only for much of the pleasure of my life, but quite recently for relief from one of my longest relapses into depression.p In this power of rural beauty over me there was a foundation laid for taking pleasure in Wordsworth’s poetry; the more so, as his scenery is mostly among mountains, which owing to my early Pyrenean excursion were my ideal of natural beauty. But Wordsworth would never have had any great effect on me if he had merely placed before me beautiful pictures of natural scenery. A collection of very second rate landscapes does this more effectually than any books. What made Wordsworth’s poems qaq medicine for my state of mind was that they expressed, not outward beauty but states of feeling, and of thought coloured by feeling, under the excitement of beauty. They seemed to be the very culture of the feelings which I was in quest of. By their means I seemed to draw from a source of inward joy, of sympathetic and imaginative pleasure, which could be shared in by all human beings, which had no connexion with struggle or imperfection, but would be made richer by every improvement in the physical or social condition of mankind. I seemed to learn from them what would be the perennial sources of happiness when all the greater evils of life should be removed. And I felt myself at once better and happier as I came under their influence. At present my estimate of Wordsworth as a Edition: current; Page: [152] poet is very far indeed below that which I then formed; but poetry of deeper and loftier feeling could not have done for me at that time what this did. I wanted to be made to feel that there was happiness in tranquil contemplation. Wordsworth taught me this and not only without turning away from, but with a greatly increased interest in, the common feelings and common destiny of human beings. And ther delight which these poems gave me, proved to me that with culture of this sort there was nothing to dread from the most confirmed habit of analysis. At the end of the poems came the famous “Ode,” falsely called Platonic; in which, along with more than his usual sweetness of rhythm and melody, and along with the two passages of fine description but bad philosophy so often quoted, I founds that he too had had similar experience to mine; that he had felt that the first freshness of youthful enjoyment of life was not lasting; but that he had sought for compensation, and found it, in the way in which he was now teaching me to find it.t The consequence of all these things was that I gradually but completely emerged from my habitual depression and was never again subject to it. uI long continued to value Wordsworth less according to his intrinsic merits than to what he had done for meu. My present judgment of him is, that he is the poet of unpoetical natures, when accompanied by quiet and contemplative tastes. But it must be remembered that unpoetical natures are precisely those which require poetic cultivation. This cultivation Wordsworth is more fitted to give them, than poets incomparably his superiors.

It so happened that the merits of Wordsworth were the occasion of my first public declaration of my new way of thinking, andv separation from those of my habitual companions who had not undergone a similar change. The person with whom at that time I was most in the habit of comparing notes was Roebuck; and I induced him to read Wordsworth, in whom he also at first seemed to find much to admire: but I like most Wordsworthians threw myself into strong antagonism to Byron, both as a poet and in respect to his effect on the character. Roebuck, all whose instincts were those of action and struggle, had on the contrary a strong relish and admiration of Byron, whose writings he regarded as the poetry of real life while Wordsworth’s according to him were that of flowers and butterflies. We agreed to have the fight out at our Debating Society, where we accordingly discussed for two evenings the comparative merits of Byron and Wordsworth, wpropounding, and illustrating by long recitations,w our respective theories of poetry. This was the first debate on any weighty subject on which Roebuck and I Edition: current; Page: [154] were on opposite sides. The schism between us widened more and more from this time and though for some years we continued to be companions our differences of opinion on life and philosophy became so strongly pronounced that we ceased to be allies either in opinion or in action except as to the immediate objects of radicalism.

I suppose that of the set of young men with whom I had associated, Roebuck would have been and was generally regarded as the most complete type of what was considered narrow Benthamism. This however is only an example of the extreme inaccuracy of that common conception. Roebuck was in many things totally opposite to the vulgar notion of a Benthamite. He was a lover of poetry and of almost all the fine arts. He took great pleasure in music, in dramatic performances, especially in painting, and himself drew and designed landscapes with great facility and beauty. Instead of being, as Benthamites are supposed to be, unfeeling, he had very quick and susceptible feelings: and his feelings towards persons, favourable and hostile, have greatly influenced his course all through life. No description of a class would exactly fit Roebuck; he had a decided character of his own, and took only that portion of any creed which was in harmony with his character. Of this, pugnacity was one of the principal elements. Nine years of his boyhood and youth had been passed in the back woods of Canada; and his character had a great tinge of the backwoodsman: formed to self help, to self assertion, and to be ever ready for conflict; with the reservation, that as the small and weakly brother among a family of giants, mental and not bodily weapons were those with which his battles had been fought and his victories gained. These early circumstances gave him the audacity and self reliance which most distinguished him from the common run of Englishmen, in whom those qualities become every day more rare. On the other hand, his mother (a daughter of Tickell, and of the sister of the first Mrs. Sheridan), by whom chiefly he was educated and of whom he always spoke with great admiration and affection, had cultivated in him a polish of manners not at all American which he always manifested towards friends, though not always towards opponents.x Roebuck was a Radical in Canadian politics though his stepfather,[*] on whom at that time he was entirely dependent, was a placeman. He came to England to qualify for the bar, and finding that he could maintain himself by writing, remained there. On his arrival he almost immediately fell in with me and my set, and had Bentham’s and my father’s writings presented to him as the philosophy of radicalism. He seized on this political creed with great and sincere zeal. Naturally quick of perception and comprehension, though not inventive or original, he was qualified to become a reasoner rather than a thinker; and his intellectual type, in all matters of speculation, continued to be one of ratiocination rather than of insight, as Carlyle calls it, or (to describe it more precisely) induction and analysis. He arrived at his conclusions by deduction from the principles of his Edition: current; Page: [156] creed, never anxious to enlarge the basis of the creed itself by perpetual examination of the specialities of the questions to which he was called on to apply it. This deficiency I used to account for to myself,y by the deep rooted pugnacity of his character. When any proposition came before him as that of an opponent, he rushed eagerly to demonstrate its falsity, without taking any pains to discover and appropriate the portion of truth which there might be in it. This mental type, very natural to persons of impetuosity of character and which I saw in a less extreme degree in my father, became more and more alien to my tastes and feelings. I had now taken a most decided bent in the opposite direction, that of eclecticism; looking out for the truth which is generally to be found in errors when they are anything more than mere paralogisms, or logical blunders. My disputes with Roebuck in the early part of our discussions turned mainly on the culture of the feelings; and in these he who had certainly the quickest feelings took the unfeeling side. But this, instead of a paradox, is the explanation of the whole matter. Like most Englishmen who have feelings, he found his feelings stand very much in his way: he was much more susceptible to the painful sympathies than to the pleasurable, and looking for his happiness elsewhere, wished that his feelings should be deadened rather than quickened. And in truth the English character and English social circumstances make it so seldom possible to derive happiness from the exercise of the sympathies that it is not wonderful they should count for very little in an Englishman’s scheme of life. In all other countries the paramount importance of the sympathies as a constituent of happiness is an axiom, taken for granted rather than needing any formal statement; but most English thinkers seem to regard them as necessary evils, required to keep men’s actions benevolent and compassionate. Roebuck was this sort of Englishman, or seemed to be so; he saw little good in the cultivation of the feelings, and none in their cultivation through the imagination, which he thought was only cultivating illusions. It was in vain I urged on him that the imaginative emotion which an idea when vividly conceived excites in us, is not an illusion but a fact, as real as any of the other qualities of objects; and far from implying anything erroneous and delusive in our mental apprehension of the object, is quite consistent with the most accurate knowledge and practical recognition of all its physical and intellectual laws and relations. The intensest feeling of the beauty of a cloud lighted by the setting sun, is no hindrance to my knowing that the cloud is the vapour of water, subject to all the laws of vapours in a state of suspension; and I am just as likely to allow for, and act on, these physical laws whenever there is occasion to do so, as if I were incapable of perceiving any distinction between beauty and ugliness. To conclude here my notice of Roebuck; when three years afterwards he under almost every disadvantage of fortune and position took his seat in the House of Commons, he fulfilled my expectation and prediction at the time, viz. that he would fail, apparently irretrievably, half a dozen times and succeed at last. He escaped the imputation which almost all persons in Edition: current; Page: [158] his position are subject to, of being an adventurer. Nobody ever suspected him of wishing to be bought off. His ambition was not of this low kind: and his very faults, his asperity and the needless offensiveness of his attacks, protected him from the suspicion. Notwithstanding his many defects of judgment, he succeeded by perseverance and by really having something to say, in acquiring the ear of the house. He conquered all external obstacles, and if he ceased rising it was because he had got to the end of his tether. He made considerable exertions for radicalism during some years in the House of Commons, and was the vigorous champion of two great questions; national education, which he reoriginated in parliament (the first unsuccessful move had been made by Mr. Brougham twelve years before), and responsible government in the colonies, of which Roebuck was in this country altogether the originator, both in the press and in parliament, and remained up to the period of Lord Durham’s mission the principal pillar. It ought to be recorded among the most honorable points in his career, that he braved his own supporters and lost his seat at Bath by his vigorous opposition to the bills for the puritanical observance of Sunday.[*] But he did not labour to master the special questions of legislation which were brought or which he might usefully have brought before parliament; and his voice, at last, was heard almost solely on personal questions, or on such as he was able to make personal. He made no progress in general principles; like the Parliamentary Radicals generally, made no addition to his original stock of ideas; and when the mental movement of Europe outstripped him even in politics, as was manifested in February 1848, he zturned against the movement of Europez. Even on English matters, when he had succeeded in being somebody, and above all when he had married and become involved in the petty vanities and entanglements of what is called society, he gradually ceased to be the champion of any important progress; he became a panegyrist of England and things English, a conformist to the Church,a and in short merged in the common herd of Conservative Liberals.

But to return to the point of separation between his course and mine. I have mentioned that the difference of our philosophy first declared itself in the debate on Wordsworth, at the Society we had founded and in which, in addition to the Tory party with whom we had hitherto been combating, we were now face to face with another set of adversaries of far greater intrinsic worth, the Coleridgians, represented in the society by Frederick Maurice and John Sterling: both subsequently well known, the former by his writings, the latter through the two biographies by Hare and Carlyle. Of these two friends, Maurice was the thinker, Sterling the orator, and impassioned expositor of thoughts which were, at this time, almost Edition: current; Page: [160] entirely formed for him by Maurice. With Maurice I had been for some time acquainted through Eyton Tooke, who had known him at Cambridge, and although my discussions with him were almost always disputes, I had carried away from them much that helped to build up my new fabric of thought; in the same way as I was deriving much from Coleridge, and from writings of Goethe and other Germans which I read during these yearsb. I have always thought that there was more intellectual power misapplied and wasted in Maurice than in any other of my cotemporaries. Great power of generalization, rare ingenuity and subtlety and a wide perception of important and unobvious truth, served him not for putting something better into the place of the worthless heap of received opinions in spiritual matters but for proving that the Church of England had known everything from the first, and that all the truths on the ground of which the Church and orthodoxy have been attacked, are not only consistent with the Thirty-nine articles but are better understood and expressed in those articles than by any one who rejects them. Such was the perverting effect on what would otherwise have been a fine intellect, of the combination of a timid character and conscience with an originally highly sensitive temperament. In this he resembled Coleridge, to whom, in merely intellectual powers, apart from poetical genius, I think him decidedly superior. At this time however he might be described as a disciple of Coleridge, and Sterling as a disciple of Coleridge and of him. In our Debating Society they made their appearance as a second Liberal and even Radical party, on totally different grounds from Benthamism and vehemently opposed to it; and they brought into their discussions the general doctrines and modes of thought of the European reaction against the philosophy of the eighteenth century: thus adding a third and very important belligerent party to our discussions, which were now no bad exponent of the movement of opinion among the most cultivated of the new generation. The modifications which were taking place in my old opinions naturally gave me some points of contact with them; and both Maurice and Sterling were of considerable use to my developement. In after conversations with Sterling he Edition: current; Page: [162] told me how he and others had been accustomed to look upon me as a “made” or manufactured man, having had a certain impress of opinion stamped upon me which I could only reproduce; and what a change took place in his feelings when he found, in the discussion on Wordsworth and Byron (in which as might be expected he made a brilliant speech), that Wordsworth and all that is implied in Wordsworth “belonged to” me as much as to him and his friends. But if I agreed with them much more than with Bentham on poetry and general culture, I was as much opposed to them as ever on religion, political philosophy, ethics and metaphysics, and as long as we continued our debating practice we were almost always on contrary sides. One vehement encounter between Sterling and me, he making what I thought a violent and unfair attack on the political philosophy I professed, to which I responded as sharply, fixed itself particularly in my memory because it was immediately followed by two things: one was, Sterling’s withdrawing from the society; the other, that he and I sought one another privately much more than before, and became very intimate. His frank, cordial, affectionate and expansive character made him very attractive to me as he was to every one who knew him. The failure of his health soon scattered all his plans of life and compelled him to live at a distance from London, and I living almost constantly in it, we after the first year or two of our acquaintance only saw each other at distant intervals. He never became, in the proper sense of the word, a thinker; but his open mind and heart, and the moral courage in which he was greatly superior to Maurice, made him soon outgrow the dominion over his intellect of Maurice and of Coleridge. Except in that short and passing phasis of his life, during which he made thec mistake of becoming a clergyman, his mind was ever progressive; the advance he always seemed to have made when I saw him again after an interval, made me apply to him what Goethe said of Schiller’s “fürchtliche Fortschreitung.” He and I started from intellectual points almost as wide apart as the poles, but the distance between us was always growing less: if I made steps towards some of his opinions, he, during his short life, was constantly approximating more and more to mine: and if he had lived and had health and vigour to prosecute his ever assiduous self culture I have little doubt that his mental emancipation on all the leading points of opinion would have become complete.

After 1829 I withdrew from attendance on the Debating Society. I had had enough of speech making, and was glad to carry on my private studies and meditations without any immediate call for outward assertion of their results. I found the fabric of my old and taught opinions giving way in many fresh places, and I never allowed it to fall to pieces, but was incessantly occupied in weaving it anew: I never, in the course of my transition, suffered myself to remain confused and unsettled. When I had taken in any new idea I could not rest till I had adjusted Edition: current; Page: [164] its relation to all my old opinions, and ascertained exactly how far its effect ought to extend in modifying or superseding them.d

The conflicts which I had so often had to carry on in defence of the theory of government laid down in Bentham’s and my father’s writings, and the acquaintance I had obtained with other modes of political thinking, had made me aware of many things which that doctrine, professing to be a theory of government in general, ought to have made room for, and did not. But these things as yet remained with me rather as corrections to be made in applying the theory to practice, than as defects in the theory. I felt that politics could not be a science of specific experience; that the accusations against the Benthamic theory of being a theory, of proceeding a priori, by way of general reasoning instead of Baconian experiment, shewed complete ignorance of Bacon’s principles, and of the necessary conditions of political investigation. At this juncture appeared Macaulay’s famous attack, in the Edinburgh Review, on my father’s Essay on Government. This gave me much to think about. I saw that Macaulay’s conception of political reasoning was wrong; that he stood up for the empirical mode of treating political phenomena against the philosophical. At the same time I could not help feeling that there was truth in several of his strictures on my father’s treatment of the subject; that my father’s premises were really too narrow, and included but a small part of the general truths on which, in politics, the important consequences depend. Identity of interest, in any practical sense which can be attached to the term, between the governing body and the community at large, is not the only thing on which good government depends; neither can this identity of interest be secured by the mere conditions of election: I was not at all satisfied with the mode in which my father met the criticisms of Macaulay. He did not, as I thought he ought to have done, justify himself by saying “I was not writing a scientific treatise on politics. I was writing an argument for parliamentary reform.” He treated Macaulay’s argument as simply irrational; as an attack on the reasoning faculty; an example of the remark of Hobbes that when reason is against a man, a man will be against reason. Edition: current; Page: [166] This made me think that there was really something more fundamentally erroneous in my father’s conception of philosophical Method, as applicable to politics, than I had hitherto supposed there was. But I did not at first see clearly what the error might be. At last however it flashed upon me all at once in the course of my reflexions on another subject. I had begun in the early part of 1830 to put on paper the ideas on Logic (chiefly on the distinctions among Terms, and the import of Propositions) which had been suggested and in part worked out in the morning conversations ealready spoken ofe. Having secured these thoughts by putting them into writing, I pushed on into the other parts of the subject, to try whether I could do anything further to clear up the theory of Logic generally. I attempted at once to grapple with the problem of Induction, postponing that of Reasoning on the ground that it is necessary to obtain premisses before we can reason from them. Now Induction is mainly finding the causes of effects; and in endeavouring to give an account of the manner of tracing causes and effects in the physical sciences, I soon saw that in the more perfect of those sciences we ascend, by generalization from particular instances to the tendencies of causes considered singly, and then reason downward from those separate tendencies, to determine the action of the same causes when combined. I then asked myself, what is the ultimate analysis of this deductive process? the common theory of the syllogism evidently throwing no light upon it. Myf practice being to study abstract principles in the best concrete instances I could find, the Composition of Forces, in dynamics, occurred to me as the most complete example of the logical process I was investigating. On examining what the mind does when it applies the principle of the Composition of Forces, I found that it performs a simple act of addition. It adds the separate effect of the one cause to the separate effect of the other, and puts down the sum of the separate effects as the joint effect. But is this a legitimate process? In dynamics and in the other branches of mathematical physics it is; but in some other cases, as in chemistry it is not; and I then recollected that this was pointed out as one of the distinctions between chemical phenomena and those of natural philosophy, in the introduction to that favorite book of my boyhood, Thomson’s Chemistry. This distinction cleared up what was perplexing me in respect to the philosophy of politics. I saw that a science is deductive or experimental according as the effects of its causes when conjoined are or are not the sums of the effects of the same causes when separate; which, in the moral and political sciences, they may on the whole be said to be. Hence it appeared that both Macaulay and my father were wrong; the one in assimilating the method of philosophizing in politics to the purely experimental method of chemistry; while the other, though right in adopting an a priori method, had made a wrong selection of one, having taken, not the appropriate method, that of the deductive branches of natural philosophy, but the Edition: current; Page: [168] inappropriate method of pure geometry, which not being a science of causation at all, did not require or admit of the summation of effects. A foundation was thus laid in my thoughts for the principal chapters of what I afterwards published on the “Logic of the Moral Sciences”; and my position in respect to my old political creed was now to my own mind quite cleared up.g

If I am asked what other system of political philosophy I substituted for that which, as a philosophy, I had abandoned, my answer is, no system: merely a conviction, that the true system was something much more complex and many sided than I had hitherto had any idea of, and that its office was to supply, not a set of model institutions, but principles from which the institutions suitable to any given circumstances might be deduced. The influences of European, that is to say, Continental thought, and especially those of the reaction of the nineteenth century against the eighteenth, were now showering in upon me. They came from various quarters; partly from the writings of Coleridge, which I had begun to read with interest even before the change in my opinionsh; partly fromh the Coleridgians with whom I was in personal contact: partly from what I had read of Goethe; partly from Carlyle’s early articles in the Edinburgh and Foreign Reviews, though for a long time I saw nothing in these (as my father saw nothing in them to the last) but insane rhapsodies. From all these, and from the acquaintance I kept up with the French writers of the time, I derived, among other ideas, which the general turning upside down of the opinions of European thinkers had brought uppermost, these in particular: that the human mind has a certain order of possible progress in which some things must precede others, an order which governments and public instructors can alter to some extent, but not to an unlimited extent: that all questions of institutions are relative, not absolute, and that different stages of human progress not only will have (which must always have been evident), but ought to have, different institutions; that government is always either in the hands, or passing into the hands, of whatever is the strongest power in society, and that what this power is, does not depend on institutions, but institutions on it: that any general theory or philosophy of politics supposes a previous theory of human progress, in other words a philosophy of history. These opinions, true in the main, were held in an exaggerated and violent manner by ithe thinkers with whom I was now becoming acquainted, andi who, in the true spirit of a reaction, ignored that half of the truth which the thinkers of the eighteenth century saw. I never went along with them in this, but kept as firm a hold of one side of the truth as I took of the other. The fight Edition: current; Page: [170] between the nineteenth century and the eighteenth always reminded me of the battle about the shield, one side of which was black and the other white. I marvelled at the blind rage with which the combatants rushed against one another. I applied to them, and to Coleridge among the rest, many of the sayings of Coleridge himself about half truths; and Goethe’s device, “manysidedness,” was much in my thoughts.

The writers by whom more than by any others a new mode of political thinking was brought home to me, were those of the St. Simonian school in France. In 1829 and 1830 I became acquainted with some of their writings. They were then only in the earlier stages of their speculations: they had not yet dressed up their philosophy as a religion, nor had they organized their scheme of Socialism. They were just beginning to question the principle of hereditary property. I was by no means prepared to go with them even this length; but I was greatly struck with the connected view which they for the first time presented to me, of the natural order of human progress; and especially with their division of history into organic periods and critical periods. During the organic periods (they said) mankind accept with firm conviction some positive creed, containing more or less of truth and of adaptation to the needs of humanity. Under its influence they first make all the progress compatible with that creed, and then finally outgrow it: and a period follows of criticism and negation, in which mankind lose their old convictions without acquiring any new ones except the conviction that the old are false. The period of Greek and Roman polytheism, so long as really believed in by instructed Greeks and Romans, was an organic period, followed by the critical or sceptical period of the Greek philosophers. Another organic period came in with Christianity; the corresponding critical period began with the Reformation, has lasted ever since, and cannot altogether cease until a new organic period has been inaugurated by the triumph of a still more advanced creed. These ideas, I knew, were nowise peculiar to the St. Simonians; they were the general property of Europe, or at least of Germany and France; but they had never to my knowledge been so completely systematized as by these writers, nor the distinguishing characters of a critical period so powerfully set forth. In Carlyle indeed I found bitter denunciations of the Edition: current; Page: [172] evils of an “age of unbelief” and of the present age as such, which I and most other people at that time supposed to be intended as passionate protests in favour of the old belief. But all that was true in these denunciations I thought that I found more calmly and philosophically stated by the St. Simonians. Among their publications too there was one which seemed to me far superior to the rest, and in which the general idea was matured into something much more definite and instructive. This was an early writing of Auguste Comte, who then called himself, and even announced himself in the title page as, an élève of Saint-Simon. In this tract M. Comte first enunciated the doctrine which he afterwards so copiously illustrated, of the natural succession of three stages in every department of inquiry; first the theological, second the metaphysical, and third, the positive stage; and contended that social science must be subject to the same law; that the feudal and Catholic system was the last phasis of the theological state of the social science, Protestantism the commencement and the doctrines of the French Revolution the consummation of its metaphysical, and that its positive state was yet to come. This doctrine harmonized very well with my existing notions. I already regarded the methods of physical science as the proper models for political. But the chief service which I received at this time from the trains of thought suggested by the St. Simonians and by Comte, was that I obtained a much clearer conception than before of the peculiarities of an age of transition in opinion, and ceased to mistake the moral and intellectual characteristics of such an age, for the normal attributes of humanity. I looked forward, through the present age of loud disputes but generally weak convictions, to a future which will unite the best qualities of the critical with the best of the organic periods; unchecked liberty of thought, perfect freedom of individual action in things not hurtful to others; but along with this, firm convictions as to right and wrong, useful and pernicious, deeply engraven on the feelings by early education and general unanimity of sentiment, and so well grounded in reason and in the real exigencies of life, that they shall not, like all former and present creeds, religious, ethical and political, require to be periodically thrown off and replaced by others.

M. Comte soon left the St. Simonians, and I lost sight of him and his writings for a number of years. But the Saint Simonians I continued cultivating. I was kept au courant of their progress by one of their most enthusiastic disciples, Gustave d’Eichthal, who about that time passed a considerable period in England. I was introduced to their chiefs, Bazard and Enfantin, in 1830; and as long as their public teachings and proselytism continued, I read nearly everything they wrote. Their criticisms on the common doctrines of liberalism seemed to me full of important Edition: current; Page: [174] truth; and it was partly by their writings that my eyes were opened to the very limited and temporary value of the old political economy, which assumes private property and inheritance as indefeasible facts, and freedom of production and exchange as the dernier mot of social improvement. The scheme gradually unfolder by the St. Simonians, by which the labour and capital of the community would be managed for the general account, every individual being required to take a share of labour either as thinker, teacher, artist or producer, and all being classed according to their capacity and rewarded according to their works, appeared to me a far superior kind of Socialism to Owen’s; their aim seemed to me perfectly rational, however their means might be inefficacious; and though I neither believed in the practicability nor in the beneficial operation of their social machinery, I felt that the proclamation of such an ideal of human society could not but be calculated to give a beneficial direction to the efforts of others to bring society, as at present constituted, nearer to that ideal standard. I honoured them above all for the boldness and freedom from prejudice with which they treated the subject of family, the most important of any, and needing more fundamental alterations than any other, but which scarcely any reformer has the courage to touch. In proclaiming the perfect equality of men and women, and an entirely new order of things in regard to their relations with one another, the St. Simonians in common with Owen and Fourier have entitled themselves to the grateful remembrance of all future generations.j

In giving an account of this period of my life, I have only specified such of my new impressions as appeared to me both at the time and since to be a kind of turning points, marking a definite progress in my modes of thought. But these few selected points give a very insufficient idea of the quantity of thinking which I carried on respecting a host of subjects during these years of transition. It is true much of the thinking consisted in rediscovering things known to all the world, which I had previously disbelieved, or disregarded. But even then the rediscovery usually placed these truths in some new light by which they were reconciled with, and served to confirm even while they modified, the truths not generally known which kwere contained in my early opinionsk and in no essential part of which I at any time wavered. All my thinking only rendered the foundation of these deeper and stronger, while it often removed misunderstandings and confusion of ideas which had perverted their effect. For example; during the later returns of my dejection, the doctrine of what is called Philosophical Necessity weighed like an incubus on my existence. I felt as if I was the helpless slave of antecedent circumstances; as if lthe character of all persons had been formed for them by agencies beyond their Edition: current; Page: [176] control, and was wholly out of theirl power. I often said to myself what a relief it would be if I could disbelieve the doctrine of the formation of character by circumstances; and remembering the wish of Fox respecting the doctrine of resistance to governments, that it might never be forgotten by kings, nor remembered by subjects, I said in like manner that it would be a blessing if the doctrine of necessity could be believed by all in respect to the characters of others and disbelieved in respect of their own. I pondered on the subject till gradually I saw light through it; I saw that the word necessity as a name for the doctrine of cause and effect applied to human action, carries with it a misleading association; and that this association is the main cause of the depressing and paralysing influence which I had experienced. I perceived that though character ism formed by circumstances, our own desires can influence those circumstances; and that what is really inspiriting and ennobling in the doctrine of free will, is the conviction that our will has real power over the formation of our character; that our will, by influencing some of our circumstances, can modify our future habits or capacities of willing. This was perfectly consistent with the doctrine of circumstances or rather was that doctrine itself properly understood. From that time I drew in my own mind a clear distinction between the doctrine of circumstances and fatalism, discarding altogether the misleading term necessity. The theory, which I now for the first time rightly apprehended, ceased to be discouraging: and I no longer suffered under the burthen, so heavy to one who aims at being a reformer in opinions, of thinking one doctrine true and the contrary doctrine morally beneficial. The train of thought which had extricated me from this dilemma seemed to me fitted to render a similar service to others, and it now forms the chapter on Liberty and Necessity in the concluding book of my System of Logic.

In like manner in politics, though I no longer accepted the doctrine of the Essay on Government as a scientific theory; though I ceased to consider representative democracy as an absolute principle and regarded it as a question of time, place, and circumstance; though I now looked on the choice of political institutions as a moral and educational question rather than a question of material interest, and thought it should be decided mainly by considering what great improvement in life and culture stood next in order for the people concerned, as the condition of their further progress, and what institutions were most likely to promote that; nevertheless this change in the premisses of my political philosophy did not alter my practical political creed as to the requirements of my own time and country. I was as much as ever a radical and democrat for Europe and especially for England. I thought the predominance of the aristocracy and the rich in the English Constitution an evil worth any struggle to get rid of: not on account of taxes or any such comparatively trifling inconvenience but as the great demoralizing influence in the country. Demoralizing, first, because it made the conduct of the government an Edition: current; Page: [178] example of a gross public immorality—the predominance of private over public interest—the abuse of the powers of legislation for the advantage of nseparate classesn Secondly, and above all, because the respect of the multitude always attaches itself principally to that which is the principal passport to power; for which reason under the English institutions where riches, hereditary or acquired, were the almost exclusive source of political importance, riches and the signs of riches were almost the only things really respected, and to the pursuit of these the life of the people was mainly devoted. Further, I thought that while the higher and richer classes held the power of government, the instruction and improvement of the mass of the people was contrary to the self interest of those classes, because necessarily tending to raise up dissatisfaction with their monopoly: but if the democracy obtained a share in the supreme power, and still more if they obtained the predominant share, it would become the interest of the opulent classes to promote their education, in order to guard them from really mischievous errors and especially to ward off unjust violations of property. For these reasons I was not only as ardent as ever for democratic institutions, but earnestly hoped that Owenite, St. Simonian, and all other anti-property opinions might spread widely among the poorer classes, not that I thought those doctrines true but in order that the higher classes might be led to see that they had more to fear from the poor when uneducated, than from the poor when educated.

In this frame of mind the French Revolution of July found me. It roused my utmost enthusiasm, and gave me as it were a new existence. I went at once to Pariso, was introduced to Lafayette, and got acquainted with several of the active chiefs of the popular partyp. After my return I entered warmly, as a writer, into the politics of the time, which soon became still more exciting by the coming in of Lord Grey’s ministry, and the proposing of the Reform Bill. For the next few years I wrote largely in newspapers. It was just about this time that Fonblanque, who had for some time previous written the political articles in the Examiner, became the proprietor and editor of the paper. It is not forgotten with what verve and talent he carried it on, during the whole period of Lord Grey’s ministry, and what importance it assumed as the principal representative of radical opinions in the newspaper press. qAt least three fourths of the original writing in the paper was his own; but of the remaining fourthq I contributed during the first years a considerable share. I wrote nearly all the articles on French subjects, including a weekly summary of French politics often extending to considerable length. I also wrote many leading articles on general politics, on commercial and financial legislation, and any miscellaneous subjects suitable to the paper in which I felt interested, besides Edition: current; Page: [180] occasional reviews of books. In mere newspaper articles on the occurrences and questions of the moment there was little room for the developement of any general mode of thought; but I attempted in the beginning of 1831, to embody in a series of articles, under the heading of “The Spirit of the Age” some of my new opinions and especially to point out in the character of the present age the anomalies and evils characteristic of the transition from one system of opinions which had worn out, to another only in process of formation. These articles were I believe lumbering in style, and not lively and striking enough to be acceptable to newspaper readers at any time; but had they been much more attractive, still at that particular time, when great political changes were impending, and occupied all minds, these discussions were ill timed, and missed fire altogether* sThe only effect which I know to have been produced by them iss that Carlyle, then living in a secluded part of Scotland, read them in his solitude, and saying to himself (as he afterwards told me) “here is a new Mystic,” enquired on coming to London that autumn, concerning their authorship, an enquiry which was the immediate cause of our becoming personally acquainted.

I have mentioned Carlyle’s earlier writings as one of the channels through which the influences reached me, which had enlarged my early narrow creed: but I do not think that those writings by themselves would ever have had any effect on my opinions. What truths they contained were presented in a form and vesture less suited than any other to give them access to a mind trained as mine had been. They seemed a haze of poetry and German metaphysics, in which the only clear thing was a strong animosity to most of the opinions which were the basis of my mode of thought, religious scepticism, utilitarianism, the doctrine of circumstances, and the attaching any importance to democracy or logic or political economy. Instead of being taught anything in the first instance by Carlyle, it was only in proportion as Edition: current; Page: [182] I came to see the same truths through media more suited to my mental constitution that I recognized them in his writings. Even afterwards the chief good they did me was not as philosophy to instruct but as poetry to animate. In this respect they ultimately became, and long continued, very valuable and delightful to me. Even at the time when our acquaintance began I was not sufficiently advanced in my new modes of thought to appreciate him fully; a proof of which is that when he shewed me the manuscript of Sartor Resartus, his best and greatest work, which he had then just finished,t it made hardly any impression on me: though I read his article on Johnson, published a few months later in Fraser’s Magazine,[*] with uenthusiastic admirationu, and when Sartor came out in the same periodical in 1833 or 1834, I read that with equal enthusiasm.v I did not seek and cultivate Carlyle less on account of the fundamental differences in our philosophy. He soon found out that I was not “another mystic,” and when I wrote to him for the sake of my own integrity a distinct profession of all those of my opinions which I knew he most disliked, he replied that the chief difference between us was that I “was as yet consciously nothing of a mystic”: but he continued for a long time to think that I was destined to become one. I need hardly say that in this expectation he was disappointed, and that although both his and my opinions underwent in subsequent years various changes, we never approached much nearer to each other’s modes of thought than we were in the first years of our wacquaintancew. But I did not consider myself a competent judge of Carlyle. I felt that he was a poet and that I was not, that he was a man of intuition, which I was not; and that as such he not only saw many things long before me which I could only, when they were pointed out to me, hobble after and prove, but that it was possible he could see many things which were not visible to me even when pointed out. I knew that I could not see round him, and could never be quite sure that I saw over him; and xI never yformedy a definitive judgment of him until he was interpreted to me by one far the superior of us both—who was more a poet than he, and more a thinker than I—whose own mind and nature included all his and infinitely morex.

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zAmong the persons of intellect whom I had known of old, the one with whom I had now most points of agreement was the elder Austin. I have mentioned that he always set himself in opposition to our early sectarianism; and latterly he had, like myself, come under new influences. Having been appointed Professor of Jurisprudence in the London University (now University College) then just founded, he had lived for some time at Bonn to study for his lectures, and the influences of German literature and of the German character and state of society had made a very perceptible change in his views of life. His personal disposition was much softened; he was less militant and polemic; his tastes were greatly turned to the poetic and contemplative. He now attached much less importance than formerly to outward changes, unless accompanied by higher cultivation of the inward nature. He had a strong distaste for the meanness of English life, the absence of enlarged thoughts and unselfish desires, the low objects on which the faculties of all classes of the English are intent. Even the kind of public interests which Englishmen care for he held in very little estimation. He thought that there was more practical good government, and infinitely more care for the education and improvement of the people of all ranks under the Prussian monarchy than under the English representative government: and he held, with the French Economistes, that the real security for good government is not popular institutions but “un peuple éclairé.” Though he approved the Reform Bill he predicted what in fact occurred, that it would not produce the great immediate improvements in government which many expected from it. The men, he said, do not exist in the country. There were many points of sympathy between him and me both in the new opinions he had adopted and in the old ones he retained. Like me he never ceased to be a utilitarian, and with all his love of the Germans, never became in the smallest degree reconciled to the innate-principle metaphysics. He however cultivated more and more a kind of German religion, more comfortable though assuredly less virtuous than the bitter opposition to the order of the universe which had formerly distinguished him; and in politics he acquired an indifference, bordering on contempt, for the progress of popular institutions, though he rejoiced in that of socialism as the most effectual means of compelling the powerful classes to educate the people and to point out to them the real road to an improvement of their material condition, that of a limitation of their numbers. Neither was he fundamentally opposed to socialism in itself, as an ultimate result of improvement. He professed great disrespect for the Edition: current; Page: [186] “universal principles of human nature of the political economists,” and insisted on the evidence which history and daily experience afford, of the “extraordinary pliability of human nature.”

His wife, who was then first beginning to be known by her translations,[*] took the principal conduct of the active and practical part of their life: for he, though he always felt like a gentleman and judged like a man of the world, in the good sense of both those terms, retired as far as he could from all business or contact with worldly affairs. She laid herself out for drawing round her as many persons of consideration or promise of consideration, as she could get, and succeeded in getting many foreigners, some literary men and a good many young men of various descriptions, and many who came for her remained for him. Having known me from a boy, she made great profession of a kind of maternal interest in me. But I never for an instant supposed that she really cared for me; anor perhaps for anybody beyond the surfacea; I mean as to real feeling, not that she was not quite ready to be friendly or serviceableb. She professed Benthamic opinions when Mr. Austin professed the same, and German opinions when he turned in that direction; but in truth, though she had considerable reading and acquirements, she never appeared to me to have anything deserving the name of opinions. If at that time she had anything capable of being so called, and coming from her own mind, it consisted of prudential maxims for the conduct of life. Under the influence of these she slid into the opinions agreeable to the well-to-do classes, as soon as she saw a possibility of making any way for herself among a few people of consequence. She cultivated blandness of manner and the ways which put people at their ease; and while she was quite ready to listen, she had always plenty to say, though chiefly in the form of narrative and that mainly of what had been said to her by other people. She made herself agreeable to young men by encouraging them with professions of sympathy to talk about themselves; but I do not think the impression thus made lasted long with them, though she often succeeded in retaining that degree of good will which is obtained by an appearance of good nature. The good nature, in the sense in which that quality can be ascribed to a person of so little feeling, was I dare say, to a certain extent genuine; but it was not inconsistent with her having, at times, a very mischievous tongue, which sowed médisance far and wide by expressions so guarded as almost to elude responsibility for any distinct statement.z

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cMy father’s tone of thought and feeling I now felt myself at a great distance from: much greater than a full and calm explanation and reconsideration on both sides, would have shewn to exist in reality. But my father was not one with whom calm and full explanations on fundamental points of doctrine could be expected, dat leastd by one whom he might consider a deserter from his standard. Fortunately we were almost always in strong agreement on the political questions of the day, which engrossed a large part of his interest and of his conversation. On those matters of opinion on which we differed, we talked little. He knew that the habit of thinking for myself, which he had given me, sometimes led me to opinions different from his, and he perceived from time to time that I did not always tell him how different. I expected no good, but only pain to both of us, from discussing our differences, and I never expressed them but when he gave utterance to some opinion or feeling very repugnant to mine, in a manner which would have made it disingenuousness on my part to remain silent. At such times we used to have a short sharp contest, never leading to any result.

During the years of which I am now speaking, I did a not inconsiderable quantity of writing over and above my contributions to newspapers. In 1830 and 1831 I wrote the five Essays since published as Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy almost as they now stand, except that in 1833 I partially rewrote the fifth essay. I wrote them with no immediate purpose of publication, and only sent them to press in 1844 in consequence of the success of the Logic. I also resumed my speculations on this last subject, and puzzled myself (like others before me, but with, I hope, more of useful result) with the great paradox of the discovery of new truth by general reasoning. As to the fact there could be no doubt; as little could it be doubted, that all reasoning was resolvable into syllogisms and that in every syllogism the conclusion is actually contained and implied in the premisses. How being so contained and implied, it could be new truth, and how the theorems of geometry, so different to all appearance from the definitions and axioms, could be all contained in them, was a difficulty which no one, I thought, had sufficiently felt, and which at all events no one had succeeded in clearing up. The attempts at explanation by Whately and others seemed rather explainings away; and though they might give a temporary satisfaction, always left a mist still hanging over the subject. At last, whene reading for the fsecond or thirdf time the chapters on Reasoning in the second volume of Dugald Stewart, interrogating myself on every point and following out the various topics of thought which the book suggested, I came to an idea of his about the use of axioms in ratiocination, which I did not remember to have noticed before, but which now in meditating on it Edition: current; Page: [190] seemed to me to be not only true of axioms but of all general propositions whatever, and to lead to the true solution of my perplexity. From this germ grew the theory of the syllogism propounded in the second book of the Logic; which I immediately made safe by writing it out. And now with greatly increased hope of being able to produce a book of some originality on Logic, I proceeded to write the First Book, from the rough and imperfect draft I had previously made. What I now wrote became the basis of that part of the subsequent Treatise; except that it did not contain the theory of Kinds, which was a much later addition. At this point I made a halt, which lasted five years. I had come to the end of my tether: I could make nothing satisfactory of Induction at this time. I continued to read any book which promised light on the subject,g and to appropriate as well as I could the results, but for a long time I found nothing which opened to me any very instructive vein of meditation.

In 1832 I wrote several papers for the first series of Tait’s Magazine, and one for a quarterly periodical called the Jurist, which had been founded and was for a short time carried on by a set of reforming lawyers with several of whom I was acquainted. This paper, entitled “On Corporation and Church Property,” I still think a very complete discussion of the rights of the state over Foundations. It shewed both sides of my opinions; asserting as firmly as I should ever have done, the doctrine that endowments are national property which the government may and ought to control, but not, as I should formerly have done, condemning endowments in themselves and proposing that they should be taken to pay off the national debt. On the contrary I urged strongly the importance of having a provision for education, not dependent on the mere demand of the market, that is, on the knowledge and discernment of ordinary parents, but calculated to establish and keep up a higher standard of instruction than is likely to be spontaneously demanded by the buyers of the article. This essay which was little read would be better worth reprinting than most of the short things I have written.h

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It was at the period of my mental progress which I have now reached, that I formed the friendship which has been the honour and blessing of my existence, as well as the source of a great part of all that I have attempted to do, or hope to effect hereafter for human improvement. My first introduction to the lady who, after a friendship of twenty years, consented to become my wife, was in 1830, when I was in my twenty-fifth and she in her twenty-third year. With her husband’s family it was a renewal of an old acquaintanceship. His grandfather lived in the next house to my father’s in Newington Green and I had sometimes when a boy been invited to play in the old gentleman’s garden. He was a fine specimen of the old Scotch puritan; stern, severe and powerful, but very kind to children, on whom such men make a lasting impression. Although it was years after my introduction to Mrs. Taylor before my acquaintance with her became at all intimate or confidential, I very soon felt her to be the most admirable person I had ever known. It is not to be supposed that she was, or that any one, at the age at which I first saw her, could be all that she afterwards became. Least of all could this be true of her, with whom self-improvement, progress in the highest and in all senses, was a law of her nature; a necessity equally from the ardour with which she sought it, and from the spontaneous tendency of faculties which could not receive an impression or an experience without making it the source or the occasion of an accession of wisdom. Up to the time when I knew her, her rich and powerful nature had chiefly unfolded itself according to the received type of feminine genius. To her outer circle she was a beauty and a wit, with an air of natural distinction, felt by all who approached her: to the inner, a woman of deep and strong feeling, of penetrating and intuitive intelligence, and of a most meditative and poetic nature. Married at a very early age, to a most upright, brave, and honorable man, of liberal opinions and good education, but without the intellectual or artistic tastes which would have made him a companion for her—though a steady and affectionate friend, for whom she Edition: current; Page: [194] had true esteem and the strongest affection through life and whom she most deeply lamented when dead; shut out by the social disabilities of women from any adequate exercise of her highest faculties in action on the world without; her life was one of inward meditation, varied by familiar intercourse with a small circle of friends, of whom one only was a person of genius, or of capacities of feeling or intellect kindred with her own, but all had more or less of alliance with her in sentiments and opinions. Into this circle I had the good fortune to be admitted, and I soon perceived that she possessed in combination the qualities which in all other persons whom I had known I had been only too happy to find singly. In her, complete emancipation from every kind of superstition, and an earnest protest both against society as at present constituted and against the pretended perfection of the order of nature and the universe, resulted not from the hard intellect but from strength of noble and elevated feeling, and coexisted with a highly reverential nature. In general spiritual characteristics as well as in temperament and organization I have often compared her, as she was at this time, to Shelley, but in thought and intellect Shelley, so far as his powers were developed in his short life, was but a child to her. Alike in the highest regions of philosophy and in the smallest practical concerns of daily life, her mind is the same perfect instrument, going down to the very heart and marrow of the matter—always seizing the essential idea or principle. The same exactness and rapidity of operation pervading her sensitive as well as her mental faculties, would with her gifts of feeling and imagination have fitted her to be a consummate artist, as her fiery and tender soul and her vigorous eloquence might have made her a great orator, and her profound knowledge of human nature and discernment and sagacity in practical life would in the times when such a carrière was open to women, have made her eminent among the rulers of mankind. Her intellectual gifts did but minister to a moral character at once the noblest and the best balanced which I have ever met with in life. Her unselfishness was not that of a taught system of duties but of a heart which thoroughly identified itself with the feelings of others and even imaginatively invested them with the intensity of its own. The passion of justice might have been thought to be her strongest feeling but for her boundless generosity and a lovingness ever ready to pour itself forth upon any or all human beings who were capable of giving the smallest feeling in return. All the rest of her moral characteristics were such as naturally accompany these qualities of mind and heart: the most genuine modesty combined with the loftiest pride; a simplicity and sincerity which was absolute towards all who were fit to receive it; the utmost scorn of everything mean and cowardly, and indignation at everything brutal or tyrannical, faithless or dishonorable in conduct and character; while making the broadest distinction Edition: current; Page: [196] between mala in se and mere mala prohibita—between acts giving evidence of intrinsic badness of feeling and character, and those which are only violations of conventions either good or bad, and which whether in themselves right or wrong, are capable of being done by persons otherwise loveable or admirable.

To be admitted into any degree of personal intercourse with a being of these qualities, could not but have a most beneficial influence on my development. The benefit I received was far greater than any which I could hope to give; except that, to her, who had reached her opinions by the moral intuition of a character of strong feeling, there was doubtless help as well as encouragement to be derived from one who had arrived at many of the same results by study and reasoning: and in the rapidity of her intellectual growth, her mental activity which converted everything into knowledge, doubtless drew from me, as well as from other sources, many of its materials. What I owe to her intellectually, is that without which all I possessed before is of little value. With those who, like all the wisest and best of mankind, are dissatisfied with human life as it is and whose feelings are wholly identified with its radical amendment, there are two main regions of thought: one is the region of ultimate aims; the constituents of the highest realizable ideal of human life; the other is that of the immediately useful and practically attainable. In both of these departments aI have learnt more from her than from all other persons taken togethera. And to say truth, it is in these two extremes that the only real certainty lies. My own strength lay wholly in the uncertain and slippery intermediate region, that of theory, or moral and political science: respecting the conclusions of which in any of the forms in which I have received or originated them, whether as political economy, analytic psychology, logic, philosophy of history, or anything else, it is not the least of my intellectual obligations to her that I have derived from her a wise scepticism; which, while it has not hindered me from following out the honest exercise of my thinking faculties to whatever conclusions might result from it, has prevented me, I hope, from holding or announcing those conclusions with a confidence which the nature of such speculations does not warrant, and has kept my mind always open to admit clearer perceptions and better evidence.

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bDuring the first years of our acquaintance the principal effect of her nature upon mine was to enlarge and exalt my conceptions of the highest worth of a human being. The poetic elements of her character, which were at that time the most ripened, were naturally those which impressed me first, and those years were, in respect of my own development, mainly years of poetic culture. My faculties became more attuned to the beautiful and elevated, in all kinds, and especially in human feeling and character, and more capable of vibrating in unison with it; and I required, in all those in whom I could take interest, a strong taste for elevated and poetic feeling, if not the feeling itself. This however did not check, but gave additional animation to my activity in all the modes of exertion for public objects to which I had been accustomed. I retained unabated interest in radical politics, kept up my connexion with such of the rising or promising politicians on the radical side, as I was previously acquainted with, and even became more involved than before in political as well as literary relations.

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In the autumn of 1832 occurred the election of the first Reformed Parliament, which included several of the most notable of my Radical friends and acquaintances; Grote, Roebuck, Charles Buller, Sir William Molesworth (with whom through Buller I had lately become acquainted), John and Edward Romilly and several others; besides Strutt and others who were in parliament already. Those who thought themselves, and were called by their friends, the philosophic radicals, had now a fair opportunity, in a more advantageous position than they had ever before occupied, of shewing what was in them; and I as well as my father founded great hopes on them. Those hopes were destined to be disappointed. The men were honest, and faithful to their opinions, as far as votes were concerned; often in spite of much discouragement. But they did very little to promote any opinions. One or two of the youngest did as much, perhaps, as could reasonably have been expected from them individually. What Roebuck did has already been mentioned: Buller and Molesworth also by degrees did something. But those from whom most was expected did least. They had no enterprise, no activity; they left the lead of the radical portion of the House to the old hands, to Hume and O’Connell. Nobody disappointed my father and me more than Grote, because no one else had so much in his power. We had long known him fainthearted, ever despairing of success, thinking all obstacles giganticc; butc the Reform Bill excitement seemed for a time to make a new man of him: he had grown hopeful, and seemed as if he could almost become energetic. When brought face to face however with an audience opposed to his opinions, when called on to beat up against the stream, he dwas found wantingd. The years which he withdrew from his History and spent in the House of Commons were almost wasted. Except an annual motion for the ballot[*] (to which he continued to stick after the change of times had made it no longer desirable) and an honorable stand made now and then against a bad measure, such as the Irish and Edition: current; Page: [204] Canada Coercion Bills,[*] Mr. Grote was almost an inactive member of parliament. If his courage and energy had been equal to the circumstances, or to his knowledge and abilities, the history of those ten years of relapse into Toryism might have been very different. His standing and social position would have enabled him to create a real Radical party, for which the materials then existed; he could have put heart into the many younger men who would have been ready to join him—could have made them available to the extent of their talents in bringing advanced ideas before the public—could have used the House of Commons as a rostra or a teacher’s chair for instructing and impelling the public mind, and would either have forced the Whigs to take their measures from him, or taken the lead of the Reform party out of their hands. All this would eprobablye have happened if my father had been in Parliament. For want of such a man the instructed Radicals sank into a mere côté gauche of the Whig party. With a keen sense of the fgreatf possibilities which were open to the Radicals if they made even ordinary exertion for their opinions, I laboured from this time till 1839 both by personal influence with some of them, and by writings, to put ideas into their heads and purpose into their hearts. gI did some good with Charles Buller, and some with Sir W. Molesworth;g but on the whole the attempt was vain. To have had a chance of succeeding in it, required a different position from mine. It was a task only for one who being himself in parliament, could have mixed with the radical members in daily consultation, and instead of saying to others “Lead,” could himself have led, and incited them to follow.

During the year 1833 I continued working in the Examiner with Fonblanque, who at that time was zealous in keeping up the fight for radicalism against the Whigs, though after 1834 he sank into little better than their supporter and panegyrist. During the session of 1834 I wrote comments on passing events, under the title “Notes on the Newspapers,” in the Monthly Repository, a magazine conducted by Mr. Fox (with whom I had lately become acquainted) and which I wrote for, chiefly on his account. I contributed several other articles to this periodical, some of them (especially two on the theory of poetry) containing a considerable amount of thought. Altogether, the writings (independently of those Edition: current; Page: [206] in newspapers) which I published from 1832 to 1834, amount to a large volume. This however includes abstracts of several of Plato’s Dialogues, with introductory remarks, which though not published until 1834, had been written several years earlier; and which I afterwards on various occasions found to have been read, and their authorship known, by more people than were aware of anything else which I had written up to that time. To complete the tale of my writings I may add that in 1833, at the request of Bulwer, who was just then completing his England and the English, I wrote for him a critical account of Bentham’s philosophy, a small part of which he incorporated in his text, and printed the rest as an Appendix. In this, along with the favorable, a part also of the unfavourable side of my estimation of Bentham’s doctrines, considered as a complete philosophy, was for the first time put into print.

As the “philosophic radical” party fell off my endeavours to put life into it were redoubled. Among the possibilities which had been much talked of between my father and me, and some of the parliamentary and other radicals who frequented his house, was the foundation of a periodical organ of philosophic radicalism, to take the place which the Westminster had been intended to fill; and the scheme went so far as to bring under discussion the pecuniary contributions which could be looked for, and even the choice of an editor. The project however seemed to have fallen to the ground, when in the summer of 1834 Sir W. Molesworth, himself a laborious student, and one of the most hzealous at that timeh of the Parliamentary Radicals, of himself proposed to establish a Review, provided I would consent to be the real, if not the nominal, editor. Such an offer was not to be refused; and the review was founded, under my direction, though under the ostensible editorship of Roebuck’s brother in law, Falconer.i In the years between 1834 and 1840 the conduct of this review occupied the greater part of my spare time. It came out in April 1835 under the name of the London Review, and four numbers were published with that title, after which Molesworth bought the Westminster Review from its proprietor Colonel Thompson and the two were united under the name of the London and Westminster Review. In the beginning the review did not, as a whole, by any means Edition: current; Page: [208] represent my opinions. I was under the necessity of conceding much to my inevitable associates. The review was established to be the representative of the “philosophic radicals,” with most of whom I was at issue on many essential points and among whom I could not even claim to be the most important individualj. My father’s cooperation as a writer we all deemed indispensable, and he wrote largely in it until prevented by illness. The subjects of his articles and the strength and decision with which his opinions were expressed in them, made the review at first derive its colour and tone from him much more than fromk any of the other writers. I could not exercise editorial control over his articles and I was even obliged to sacrifice to him portions of mine. The old Westminster Review opinions, little modified, thus formed the staple of the review, but I hoped by the side of these to introduce other ideas and another tone, and to give to my opinions a fair representation in the review along with those of other members of the party. For this purpose chiefly I made it one of the peculiarities of the review that every article should bear an initial or some other signature and be held to express only the opinions of the writer, the editor being only responsible for its being worth publishing, and not conflicting with the objects for which the review was set on foot. I had an opportunity of putting in practice my scheme of conciliation between the old and the new “philosophic radicalism” by the choice of a subject for my own first contribution. Mr. Sedgwick had then lately published his Discourse on the Studies of Cambridge, a tract of which the most prominent feature was an abusive assault on analytic psychology and on utilitarian ethics, in the form of an attack on Locke and Paley. This had excited great indignation in my father and others, which I thought was fully deserved. And here, I conceived, was an opportunity of at the same time repelling an unjust attack and inserting into my defence of Hartleianism and utilitarianism, a number of the opinions which constituted my view of those subjects as distinguished from that of my old associates. In this I partially succeeded, though I lcould not speak out my whole mind at this time without coming into conflict with my fatherl. There are things however which incline me to believe that my father was not so much opposed as he seemed, to the modes of Edition: current; Page: [210] thought in which I supposed myself to differ from him; that mhe did injustice to his own opinions bym the unconscious exaggerations of a pugnacious and polemical intellect, and that when thinking without an adversary en présence he was ready to make room for a great portion of the truths he seemed to deny. His Fragment on Mackintosh, which he wrote and published about this time, although I greatly admired some parts of it, was as a whole very repulsive to me; yet on reading it againn, long after,n I found very little in the opinions it contains but what I think in the main just; and I can even sympathize in his disgust at the verbiage of Mackintosh though his asperity went beyond not only what was judicious but what was even fair. One thing which I thought at the time of good augury, was the very favourable reception he gave to Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. It is true he said and thought much more about what Tocqueville said in favour of Democracy than about what he said against it. Still, his high appreciation of a book which was at any rate an example of a mode of treating the question of government almost the reverse of his—wholly inductive and analytical instead of purely ratiocinative—gave me great encouragement. He also approved of an article which I published in the first number following the junction of the two reviews, under the heading “Civilization,” into which I threw many of my new opinions and criticized rather emphatically the mental tendencies of the time on grounds and in a manner which I certainly had not learnt from him.

All speculation however on the possible future developments of my father’s opinions and on the probabilities of successful cooperation between him and me in the promulgation of our thoughts, was doomed to be cut short. During the whole of 1835 his health had been declining; his symptoms became unequivocally those of pulmonary consumption and after lingering to the last stage of debility he died on the 23d of June 1836. Until the last few days of his life there was no apparent abatement of intellectual vigour; his interest in all things and persons that had interested him through life, was unabated; nor did the approach of death cause the smallest wavering (as in so strong a mind it was impossible that it should) in his anti-religious convictions. His chief satisfaction, after he knew that his end was near, seemed to be the thought of what he had done to make the world better than he found it; and his chief regret in not living longer, that he had not had time to do more.

His place is an eminent one in the literary and even the political history of this country; and it is far from honorable to the generation which has benefitted by his worth, that he is so seldom mentioned and so little remembered. Probably the chief Edition: current; Page: [212] cause of the neglect of his memory, is that, notwithstanding the great number of his opinions which have now been generally adopted, there was a marked opposition between his spirit and that of the present time. As Brutus was the last of the Romans, so was he the last of the eighteenth century: he continued its tone of thought and sentiment into the nineteenth (though with great additions and improvements), partaking neither in the good nor in the bad influences of the reaction against the eighteenth century which is the great characteristic of the first half of the nineteenth. The eighteenth century was a great age, an age of stronger and braver men than the nineteenth, and he waso a fit companion for its strongest and bravest. By his writings and his personal influence, he was a great centre of light to his generation. During the latter years of his life he was quite as much the head and leader of the intellectual radicals in England as ever Voltaire was of the philosophers of France. It is only one of his minor merits that he was the originator of all sound statesmanship in regard to the subject of his largest work, India. He wrote on no subject which he did not enrich with valuable thought: and if we except the Political Economy, very useful when written but which has now for some time finished its work, it will be long before any of his books will be wholly superseded, or will cease to be instructive reading to students of their subjects. In the power of influencing by mere force of mind and character, the convictions and purposes of others, and in the strenuous exertion of that power to promote freedom and progress, he has left no equal among men—and but one among women.

Though acutely sensible of my own inferiority in the qualities by which he acquired his personal ascendancy, I had now to try pwhat it might be possible for me to accomplish without himp; and the review was the instrument on which I built my chief hopes of establishing a useful influence over the liberal and democratic Edition: current; Page: [214] portion of the public mind. Deprived now of my father’s aid, I was also exempted from the restraints and retinences by which that aid was purchased: I did not feel that there was any other radical writer or politician to whom I was bound to defer further than consisted with my own opinions: and having the complete confidence of Molesworth, I resolved from henceforth to give full scope to my own opinions and modes of thought and to open the review widely to all writers who were in sympathy with Progress as I understood it, even though I should lose by it the support of my former associates. Carlyle from this time became a frequent writer in the review; Sterling, soon after, an occasional one; and though each individual article continued to be the expression of the private sentiments of its writer, the general tone conformed in some tolerable degree to my opinions. This was not effected without parting company with the nominal editor, Falconer, who, after holding on for some time in spite of differences of opinion, at last resignedq. I supplied his place by a young Scotchman of the name of Robertson, who had some ability and information, much industry, and an active scheming head, full of devices for making the review more saleable, and on whose capacity in that particular I founded a good deal of hope: insomuch that when Molesworth, in the beginning of 1837, became tired of carrying on the review at a loss, and desirous of getting rid of it. I, very imprudently for my own pecuniary interest, and very much from reliance on Robertson’s devices, determined to continue it at my own risk until his plans should have had a fair trial. The devices were good in their way, but I do not believe that any devices would have made a radical and democratic review pay its expenses, including a liberal payment to writers. I myself and several frequent contributors gave our labour gratuitously, as we had done for Molesworth, but the paid contributors continued to be paid at the usual rate of the Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews: and this could not be done from the proceeds of the sale.

In the same year, 1837, and in the midst of these occupations, I resumed the Logic. I had now done nothing to it for five years, having been stopped, and brought to a pause, on the threshold of Induction. I had gradually discovered that what was mainly wanting to overcome the difficulties of that subject was a comprehensive and at the same time accurate view of the whole circle of physical science, which I feared it would take a long course of study to acquire, since I knew not of any book or other guide that would display before me the generalities and processes and believed that I should have no choice but to extract them for myself, if I could, from the details of the sciences. Happily for me, Dr. Whewell, early in this year, published his History of the Inductive Sciences. I read it with eagerness and found in it a considerable approximation to what I wanted. Much if not most of his philosophy appeared to me erroneous; but the materials were there, for my own thoughts to work upon, and the author had given to those materials that first degree Edition: current; Page: [216] of elaboration which so greatly abridges and facilitates the subsequent labour. I felt that I had now got what I had been waiting for. Under the impulse given me by the thoughts excited by Whewell I read again Herschel’s Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy, which I had read (and even reviewed) several years before, but had found little help in it. I now found much. I then set vigorously to work out the subject in thought and in writing. I had just two months to spare in the intervals of writing for the review. In those two months I wrote (in the first draft) about a third, the most difficult third, of the book. What I had before written I estimated at another third, so that only a third remained. What I wrote at this time consisted of the remainder of the doctrine of Reasoning (the theory of Trains of Reasoning, and Deductive Science) and the greater part of the Third Book, on Induction. I had now, as it seemed to me, untied all the really hard knots, and the completion of the book had become only a question of time. When I had got thus far I had to leave off in order to write two articles for the next number of the review. When these were written I returned to the subject and now for the first time fell in with Comte’s Cours de Philosophie Positive or rather with the two volumes of it which were then all that had been published. My theory of Induction was substantially completed before I knew of Comte’s book and it is perhaps well that I came to it by ar different road from his, since the consequence has been that my treatise contains what his certainly does not, a reduction of the inductive process to strict rules and to a scientific test, such as the Syllogism is for ratiocination. Comte is always profound on the methods of investigation but he does not even attempt any exact definition of the conditions of proof: and his own writings shew that he has no just conception of them. This however was specifically the problem which, in treating of Induction, I had proposed to myself. Nevertheless I gained much from Comte with which to enrich my chapters in the subsequent rewriting, and his book was of essential service to me in the parts which still remained to be thought out. After completing the study of his two volumes I wrote three more chapters in the autumn of 1837 after which I did not return to the subject until the middle of the next year: the review engrossing all the time I could devote to authorship, or to thinking with authorship in view.

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In the conduct of the review I had two principal objects. One was to free radical opinions from the reproach of narrow Benthamism. I desired, while retaining the precision of expression, the definiteness of meaning, the aversion to declamatory phrases and vague generalities which were so honorably characteristic of Bentham, and my father, to give a wider basis and a freer and more genial character to radical speculations; to shew that there was a radical philosophy better and more complete than Bentham’s, though recognizing and incorporating all of Bentham’s which is permanently valuable. In this first object I to a certain extent succeeded. The other thing I attempted was to stir up the educated radicals in and out of parliament to exertion, and induce them to make themselves what I thought they might by taking the proper means have become, a powerful party, capable of Edition: current; Page: [222] taking the government of the country, or at least of dictating the terms on which they should share it with the Whigs. This attempt totally failed, partly because the time was unfavourable; the Reform fervour being then in its period of ebb, and the old Tory influences powerfully rallying; but far more, because, as Austin so truly said, “the country did not contain the men.” Among the Radicals in Parliament there were two or three qualified to be useful members of an enlightened Radical party, but none capable of forming or leading such a partys. The exhortations of the review found no response. One occasion did present itself when there seemed to be room for a bold and successful stroke for radicalism. Lord Durham had left the ministry, as was thought, because they were not sufficiently liberal: he afterwards accepted from them the task of removing the causes of rebellion in Canada: he had shewn a disposition to surround himself at his outset with radical advisers; one of his earliest measures, a good measure both in intention and in effect, having been disapproved and reversed by the government at home, he had resigned his post and placed himself openly in a position of quarrel with the ministers. Here was a possible chief for a radical party, in the person of a man of importance who was hated by the Tories, and had just been injured by the Whigs. It was an opportunity to be seizedt. Lord Durham was bitterly attacked from all sides; he appeared to be returning a defeated and discredited man, and those who would willingly have defended him did not know what to say. I had followed the course of Canadian events from the beginning; I had been one of the prompters of his prompters; his policy was almost exactly what mine would have been, and I was in a position to defend it. I wrote and published a manifesto in the form of a review article in which I claimed for him not mere acquittal but praise and honour. I believe that there was a portion of truth in what Lord Durham afterwards with polite exaggeration said to me, that to this article might be attributed the almost triumphal reception which he met with on his arrival in England. I believe it to have been the word in season which at a critical moment decides the result; the touch which determines whether a stone set in motion at the top of a hill shall roll down on the north or on the south side. All hopes connected with Lord Durham as a politician soon vanished; but with regard to Canadian and generally to colonial Edition: current; Page: [224] policy, the cause was gained: Lord Durham’s report, written by Charles Buller under the inspiration of Wakefield, began a new era; its recommendations extending to complete internal self government were in full operation in Canada within two or three years, and are becoming rapidly extended to all the other colonies which have as yet any existence as considerable communities: and I may say that in successfully upholding the reputation of Lord Durham and of his advisers at the most important moment, I contributed materially to this result.

There was one other case during my conduct of the review which similarly illustrated the effect of taking a decided initiative. I believe that the early success and reputation of Carlyle’s French Revolution were very materially promoted by what I wrote about it in the review. Immediately after its publication, and before the commonplace critics, all whose rules and modes of judgment it set at defiance, had time to preoccupy the public with their disapproval of it, I wrote and published a review of the book hailing it as one of those productions of genius which are above all rules and are a law to themselves. Neither in this case nor in Lord Durham’s do I ascribe the impression which I think was produced by what I wrote, to any particular merit of execution; and indeed, in at least one of the two cases (Carlyle’s) I do not think the execution was good. I believe that anybody in a position to be read, who had expressed the same opinion at the same precise time and had made any tolerable statement of the just grounds for it, would have produced exactly the same effect. But after the complete failure of my plans for putting a new life into radical politics by means of the review I am glad to look back on these two instances of success in an honest attempt to do immediate service to things and persons that deserved it.

After the last hope of the formation of a Radical party had disappeared, it was time for me to stop the heavy expenditure of time and money which the review cost me. It had to some extent answered my purpose as a vehicle for my opinions: It had enabled me to express in print much of my then present mode of thought and to distinguish it in a marked manner from the narrower Benthamism of my early writings. This was done by the general tone of all I wrote, including various literary articles (among which the one which contained most thought was on Alfred de Vigny),[*] but especially by two articles which attempted a philosophical estimate of Bentham and of Coleridge. In the first of these, while doing full justice to the merits of Bentham, I pointed out what I thought the errors and deficiencies of his philosophy. The substance of this criticism I still think just, but I have much Edition: current; Page: [226] doubted since whether it was right to publish it. I have often felt that Bentham’s philosophy as an instrument of progress has been in a great measure discredited before it had half done its work and that lending a hand to pull down its reputation was doing more harm than service to improvement. In the article on Coleridge I attempted to characterize the European reaction against the negative philosophy of the eighteenth century: and here I erred by giving undue prominence to the favourable side, as I had done in the case of Bentham to the unfavourable. In both cases, the impetus with which I had detached myself from what was untenable in the doctrines of Bentham and of the eighteenth century carried me too far to the opposite side; but so far as relates to the article on Coleridge the excuse may be made for me that I was writing for radicals and liberals and had therefore an inducement to dwell most on that in writers of a different school, from the knowledge of which they might derive most benefit.

The number of the review which contained the article on Coleridge was the last which was published under my proprietorship. In the spring of 1840 I made over the review to Mr. Hickson, who had been a very useful unpaid contributor to the London and Westminster, only stipulating that the change should be marked by a resumption of the old name, the Westminster Review. Under this name he carried it on for ten years, on the plan of dividing among contributors only the net proceeds of the review (giving his own labour as a writer and editor gratuitously). Under the difficulty in obtaining writers which arose from this low scale of remuneration, it is highly creditable to him that he was able to maintain in some tolerable degree the character of the review as an organ of radicalism and progress. For my own part, though I still occasionally wrote in newspapers and in the Westminster and Edinburgh Reviews when I had anything to say for which they appeared to be suitable vehicles, I henceforth employed my writing faculties mainly on things of a less temporary nature.

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The first use which I made of the leisure I gained by disconnecting myself with the review, was to finish the Logic.a In July and August 1838 I had found an interval in which to complete the first draft of the third book. In working out the logical theory of those laws of nature which are not laws of causation, or corollaries from such laws, I was led to recognize Kinds as realities and not mere distinctions for convenience, a light which I had not yet obtained when the first Book was originally written and in consequence of which I now modified and enlarged the corresponding portion of that Book. The book on Language and Classification, and the Chapter on the Classification of Fallacies, were drafted in the autumn of the same year; the remainder of the work in the summer and autumn of 1840. From April following to the end of 1841 my spare time was devoted to a complete rewriting of the book from its commencement. During this operation Dr. Edition: current; Page: [230] Whewell’s Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences made its appearance; a fortunate circumstance for me, as it gave me what I very much needed, an antagonist, and enabled me to present my ideas with greater clearness and emphasis as well as fuller and more various development, in defending them against definite objections, and confronting them distinctly with an opposite theory. The controversies with Whewell as well as much matter derived from Comte were first introduced into the book in the present rewriting.

At the end of 1841, the book being ready for press, I offered it to Murray, who kept it until too late for publication that season and then refused it for reasons which could just as well have been given at first. I next offered it to Parker, and in the spring of 1843 it was published. My expectations of success were extremely moderate. A book on such a subject could not be popular; it could only be a book for students, and students on such subjects in England are not only few, but are mostly in the present generation addicted to the opposite school of metaphysics, the ontological and “innate principle” school. I therefore did not expect that the book would have many readers, or approvers; and would gladly have compounded for a sale sufficient to prevent the publisher from losing by it. What hopes I had of its exciting attention were mainly grounded on the polemical propensities of Dr. Whewell; who I thought would have replied, and that promptly, to the attack on his opinions. He did reply, but not till 1850, just in time for me to answer him in the third edition. How the book came to have, for a work of the kind, so much success and what sort of persons compose the bulk of those who have bought, I will not venture to say read it, I have never thoroughly understood; and I bhave never Edition: current; Page: [232] indulged the illusion that it had made any considerable impressionb on philosophic opinion. The German, or ontological view of human knowledge and of the knowing faculties, still predominates and will probably long predominate (though it may be hoped in a diminishing degree) among those who occupy themselves with such enquiries either here or on the Continent. But the System of Logic supplies what was much wanted, a text book of the opposite doctrine, that which derives all knowledge from experience, and all moral and intellectual qualities principally from the direction given to the associations. And in this consists, I think, the chief worth of the book as a contribution to human improvement. I make as humble an estimate as anybody of what either an analysis of logical processes, or any possible canons of evidence, can do, taken by themselves, to guide or rectify the operations of the understanding. But whether the direct practical use of a true philosophy on these matters be great or little, it is difficult to exaggerate the mischief of a false one. The doctrine that truths external to the mind may be known by intuition or consciousness, independently of observation and experiment, is, I am persuaded, in these times the great intellectual support for false doctrines and bad institutions. By the aid of this philosophy every inveterate belief and every strong feeling, of which the artificial origin is not remembered, is dispensed from the obligation of justifying itself by evidence or reason, and is erected into its own sufficient justification. There never was such an instrument devised for consecrating all deepseated prejudices. It is the main doctrinal pillar of all the errors which impede human improvement. And the chief strength of this false philosophy in the departments of morals and religion lies in the appeal which it is accustomed to make to the evidence of mathematics and of the cognate branches of physical science. To expel it from these is to attack it in its stronghold: and because this had not been effectually done, the intuition school, even after what my father had written in his Analysis, had, at least in appearance, and as far as published writings were concerned, on the whole the best of the argument. In attempting to clear up the real nature of the evidence of mathematical and physical truths, the System of Logic met the intuition doctrine as it had never before been met; and gave its own explanation, from experience and association, of that peculiar character of what are called necessary truths which is adduced as proof that they cannot be derived from experience. Whether this has been done effectually, is still sub judice; and even if so, merely to deprive a mode of thought so strongly rooted in human prejudices and partialities of its speculative support, goes but a little way towards conquering it: but cthough this is but one step, that step is indispensable; for since, Edition: current; Page: [234] after all, prejudice can only be successfully combated by philosophy, no way can be effectually made against it until it has been shewn not to have philosophy on its sidec.

dBeing now released from any active concern in temporary politics and from any literary occupation involving personal communication with contributors and others, I was enabled to indulge the inclination, natural to thinking persons when the age of boyish vanity is once past, for limiting my own society to a very few persons. General society as now carried on, at least in England, is so thoroughly insipid an affair, even to the very persons who make it what it is, that it is kept up for any reason rather than the pleasure it affords. All serious discussion on matters on which opinions differ, being considered ill bred, and the national deficiency in liveliness and sociability having prevented the cultivation of the art of talking agreeably on trifles, in which the French of the last century so much excelled, the sole attraction of what is called society to those who are not at the top of the tree, is the hope of climbing a little higher on it, while to those who are already at the top it is chiefly a compliance with custom and with the supposed requirements of their station. To a person of any but the commonest order in thought or feeling, such society must unless he has personal objects to serve by means of it, be supremely unattractive: and most people, in the present day, of any really high class of intellect, make their contact with it so slight and at such long intervals as to be almost considered as retiring from it altogether. Those persons of any real mental superiority who act otherwise, are almost without exception, greatly deteriorated by it. Not to mention loss of time, the tone of their feelings is always lowered: they become less in earnest about those of their opinions about which they feel that they must remain silent in the society they frequent; they come to think their more elevated objects unpractical, or at least too remote from realization to be more than a vision or a theory; or even if, more fortunate than most, they retain their higher principles unimpaired, yet with regard to the persons and affairs of the present they insensibly adopt the modes of feeling and judgment of the company they keep. A person of high intellect should never go into unintellectual society unless he can enter it as an apostle. And all persons of even intellectual aspirations had much better, if they can, make their habitual associates of at least their equals, and as far as possible, their superiors in knowledge, intellect, and elevation of sentiment.e Further, if their character is formed and their minds made up on the few cardinal Edition: current; Page: [236] points in human opinion, agreement of opinion and feeling on those, has been felt in all times to be an essential requisite of anything worthy the name of friendship, in a really earnest mind. All these circumstances united made necessarily, in England (it might not have been so much so in some countries of the Continent), the number very small of those whose society, and still more whose intimacy, I ever voluntarily sought.

Among these, by far the principal was the incomparable friend of whom I have already spoken. At this period of her life she lived mostly, with one young daughter, in a quiet part of the country,f and only occasionally in town, with her first husband, Mr. Taylor. I visited her equally in both places, and was greatly indebted to the strength of character which enabled her to disregard the false interpretations liable to be put on the frequency of my visits to her while living ggenerallyg apart from Mr. Taylor, and on our occasionally travelling together, though in all other respects our conduct, during these years, gave not the slightest ground for any other supposition than the true one, that our relation to each other was one of strong affection and confidential intimacy honlyh. For though we did not consider the ordinances of society ibinding on a subject so entirely personal, we did feel bound that our conduct should be such as in no degree to bring discredit on her husband, nor therefore on herself; andi we disdained, as every person not a slave of his animal appetites must do, the abject notion that the strongest and tenderest friendship cannot exist between a man and a woman without a sensual jrelation, or that any impulses of that lower characterj cannot be put aside when regard for the feelings of others, or even when only prudence and personal dignity require it.k

In this (as it may be termed) third period of my mental progress, which still continues and which now went hand in hand with hers, my opinions gained equally in breadth and depth. I understood more things, and those which I had understood before I understood more thoroughly. I had many new opinions, and the old which I retained I now saw much more deeply into the grounds of. One of the earliest changes which occurred in this stage of my progress was that I turned back from what there had been of excess in my reaction against Benthamism. I had, at the height of that reaction, certainly become much more indulgent to the common opinions of society and the world, and more willing to be content with seconding the superficial improvement which had begun to take place in those common opinions, than became one whose own convictions differed fundamentally from them. I was much more inclined, than I can now approve, to put in abeyance the most decidedly heretical part of my opinions, which I now look upon as almost the Edition: current; Page: [238] only ones the assertion of which tends in any way to regenerate society. But in addition to this, our opinions were now far more heretical than mine had been in the days of my most extreme Benthamism. In those days I had seen little further than the old school of political economists into the possibilities of future improvement in social arrangements. Private property as at present understood, and inheritance, appeared to me as to them, the dernier mot of legislation: and I looked no further than to mitigating the inequalities consequent on these institutions, by abolishing primogeniture and entails. The notion that it was possible to get rid in any considerable degree of the flagrant injustice involved in the fact that some are born to riches and the vast majority to poverty, I reckoned chimerical; and only hoped that by universal education, leading to voluntary restraint on population, the portion of the poor might be made more tolerable. In short, I was a democrat but not the least of a Socialist. We were now less democrats than I had formerly been, because we dreaded more the ignorance and especially the selfishness and brutality of the mass: but our ideal of future improvement was such as would class us decidedly under the general designation of Socialists. While we repudiated with the greatest energy the tyranny of society over the individual, we yet looked forward to a time when society should no longer be divided into the idle and the industrious,[*] when the rule that they who do not work shall not eat, should be applied not to the pauper merely, but impartially to all; when the division of the produce of labour, instead of being dependent as in so great a degree it is, on the accident of birth, should be made by concert, on an acknowledged principle of justice, and when it should no longer either be, or be thought to be, impossible for human beings to exert themselves strenuously for benefits which were not to be exclusively their own, but to be shared with the society they belong to. The social problem of the future we considered to be, how to unite the greatest individual liberty of action with an equal ownership of all in the raw material of the globe and an equal participation of all in the benefits of combined labour. We knew that to render any such social transformation practicable an equivalent change of character must take place both in the uncultivated herd who now compose the labouring masses, and lin the immensel majority of their employers. Both these classes must learn by practice to labour and contrive for generous, or at all events for public and social purposes, and not as hitherto solely for self interested ones. But the capacity for this has always existed in mankind, and is not, nor is ever likely to be, extinct. Education and habit will make a common man dig or weave for the public as well as fight for the public. Interest in the common good is at present so weak a motive Edition: current; Page: [240] in the generality, only because the mind is not accustomed to dwell on it as it dwells from morning to night on things which tend only to personal good. When called into activity as only self interest now is, by the daily course of life, and spurred from behind by the love of distinction and the fear of shame, it is adequate to produce even in common men the most strenuous exertions as well as the most heroic sacrifices. Doubtless it requires a long course of training to alter the deeprooted selfishness which the whole course of existing institutions tends to generate; and modern institutions still more than ancient, since the occasions on which the individual is called on to act for the public without receiving its pay, are far less frequent in modern life, than in the smaller commonwealths of antiquity. mBut in this direction lies assuredly the course of future progressm.

In the Principles of Political Economy these opinions are promulgated; less clearly and fully in the first edition, rather more so in the second, and quite unequivocally in the third. The difference arose partly from the change of times, the first edition having been written and sent to press before the French Revolution of 1848 when the public mind was far less open to the reception of novelties in opinion, especially those of a socialistic character, than it became after that great event.n In the first edition the difficulties of Socialism were stated so stronglyo that the tone was on the whole that of opposition to it. In the year or two which followed, much time was given to the study of the best Socialist writers on the Continent, and to meditation and discussionp on the whole range of topics involved in the controversy: and the result was that most of what had been written on the subject in the first edition was cancelled, and replaced by arguments and reflexions of a decidedly socialistic tendency.

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The Political Economy was far more rapidly executed than the Logic, or indeed than anything of importance which I had yet written. It was commenced in the autumn of 1845 and completed before the end of 1847. In this period of little more than two years there was an interval of six months during which it was suspended, in order to write articles in the Morning Chronicle (which unexpectedly entered warmly into my purpose) urging the formation of peasant properties on the waste lands of Ireland. This was during the winter of 1846/47, the period of the famine, when the stern necessities of the time seemed to afford a chance of attracting attention to what appeared to me the only mode of combining relief to the immediate destitution with a permanent improvement of the social and economical condition of the Irish people. But the novelty and strangeness, in England, of the idea of peasant proprietors, one of the striking examples of the extreme ignorance of English politicians and the English public concerning all social phenomena not generally met with in England (however common elsewhere), made these efforts ineffectual. Instead of a great operation on the waste lands and the conversion of cottiers into proprietors, Parliament passed a Poor Law for maintaining them as paupers: and if the English Government has not since found itself in inextricable difficulties from the joint operation of the old evils and the quackish remedy, it has to thank not its own foresight, but that most unexpected and surprising fact, the depopulation of Ireland, commenced by famine and continued by voluntary emigration.

The rapid success of the Political Economy shews that the public wanted and were prepared for such a book. Published early in 1848, an edition of a thousand copies was sold in less than a year. Another similar edition was published in the spring of 1849: and a third of 1250 copies early in 1852. It was from the first continually cited and referred to as an authority: because like the Wealth of Nations it was not a book merely of abstract science, but of application. It treated Political Economy not as a thing by itself, butq as a fragment of a greater whole, a mere department of Social Philosophy, and so interlinked with all the other branches that its conclusions, even in its own peculiar province, that of Wealth, are only true conditionally, subject to interference and counteraction from causes not directly within its domain: while to the character of a practical guide it has rnor pretension, apart from other classes of considerations.s Political Economy has never, in reality, pretended to advise with no lights but its own, though some persons who knew nothing but political economy (and therefore knew that ill) may have done so. But the numerous sentimental enemies of political economy, and its still more numerous interested enemies in sentimental guise, have been very successful in Edition: current; Page: [244] gaining belief for this among other unmerited imputations upon it. The Principles having, in spite of the freedom of many of its opinions on social matters, become for the present the most popular exposition of the subject, has helped to disarm these enemies of so important a study, while I venture to think that it has both widened the basis of the science itself and made many useful applications of its truths in conjunction with others, to the improvement of human practice, moral, political, and social.

Since this time I have published no work of magnitude, though I have written or commenced much, for publication at some future time. I have not to relate any further changes in my opinions, though I hope there has been a continued progress in my mental development. I have seen, in the last twenty years, many of the opinions of my youth obtain general recognition, and many of the reforms in institutions, for which I had through life contended, either effected or in course of being so. But these changes have been attended with much less benefit to human well being than I should formerly have anticipated, because they have produced very little improvement in that on which depends all real amelioration in the lot of mankind, their intellectual and moral state: it may even be questioned whether the causes of deterioration which have been at work in the meanwhile, have not more than counterbalanced the tendencies to improvement. I have learnt from experience that many false opinions may be exchanged for true ones, without in the least altering the habits of mind of which false opinions are the result. The English mind, for example, is quite as raw and undiscerning on subjects of political economy since the nation was converted to free trade, as it was before; although whoever really understands the theory of free trade, must necessarily understand much else, the grounds of that doctrine going very deep into the foundations of the whole philosophy of the production and distribution of wealth. Still further is the public mind from having acquired better habits of thought and feeling or being in any way better fortified against error on subjects of a more elevated nature. I am now convinced that no great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible until a change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought. The old opinions in religion, morals, and politics are so much discredited in the more Edition: current; Page: [246] intellectual minds as to have lost the greater part of their efficacy for good, while they have still vitality enough left to be an effectual obstacle to the rising up of better opinions on the same subjects. When the philosophic minds of the world can no longer believe its religion, a transitional period of weak convictions, paralysed intellects and growing laxity of principle commences, which can never cease but when a renovation has been effected in the bases of belief, leading to the evolution of another faith, whether religious or not, which they can believe. Therefore I hold that all thinking or writing, which does not directly tend towards this renovation, is at present of very little value beyond the moment.

The last considerable event in my own life, and the latest of which I shall make mention here, is my marriage, in April 1851, to the lady whose incomparable worth had made her friendship the greatest source to me both of happiness and of improvement, during many years in which we never expected to be in any closer relation to one another. Ardently as I should have aspired to this complete union of our lives at any time in the course of my existence at which it had been practicable, I, no less than even my wife, would far rather have foregone that blessing for ever, than have owed it to the premature death of one for whom I had the sincerest respect, and she the strongest affection. That event however having taken place in July 1849, it was granted to me to derive my own greatest good from that evil, by adding to the partnership of thought, feeling, and even writing which had long existed, a partnership of our entire existence. Before as well as since, I have owed the best part of what I was and did to her inspirations and often to her direct assistance: and so long as any of my writings subsequent to the Logic are read or remembered, I hope it will be borne in mind that to her intellect and character they are mainly indebted for whatever in them deserves remembrance.

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[YALE FRAGMENT]

Note, to be expanded in a supplement to the biographical sketch, concerning the participation of my wife in my writings.

When two persons have their thoughts and speculations completely in common, when all subjects of intellectual or moral interest are discussed between them in daily life and probed to much greater depths than are usually or conveniently laid open in published writings, when they set out from the same principles and form their opinions together, it is of little consequence which of them holds the pen: the writings which result are the joint product of both, and it must in general be impossible to disentangle their respective parts and affirm that this belongs to one and that to the other. In this sense, not only during the years of our married life but through the many years of confidential friendship which preceded, all my published writings were our joint production, her share in them constantly increasing as years advanced. But in many cases (though but a small proportion of the whole) what belongs to her can be distinguished and specially identified. The most valuable ideas and features in these joint productions, those which have been most fruitful of important results and have contributed most to the success and reputation of the works themselves, originated with her, and were purely emanations from her mind, my part in them being no greater than in any of the thoughts which I found in previous authors and made my own only by incorporating them with my system of thought. This was oftener the case where it would be least than where it Edition: current; Page: [252] would be most expected. Some might suppose, for instance, that my strong convictions on the complete equality which ought to exist in all legal, social, political and domestic relations between men and women, were adopted or learnt from her. This was so far from being the case, that I held these convictions from early boyhood and the strength with which I held them was, as I believe, more than anything else, the originating cause of the interest she felt in me. Undoubtedly however this conviction was at that time, in my mind, little more than an abstract principle: it was through her teaching that I first perceived and understood its practical bearings; her rare knowledge of human nature, and perception and comprehension of moral and social influences, shewed me (what I should never have found out in more than a very vague way for myself) the mode in which the consequences of the inferior position of women intertwine themselves with all the evils of existing society and with the difficulties of human improvement. Without her I should probably always have held my present opinions on the question, but it would never have become to me as, with the deepest conviction, it now is, the great question of the coming time: the most urgent interest of human progress, involving the removal of a barrier which now stops the way, and renders all the improvements which can be effected while it remains, slight and superficial. I learnt from her nearly all I know of the details of the subject; the opinion itself I held as strongly, though less according to knowledge, before I had even seen her.

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The first of my books in which her share was conspicuous was the Political Economy: the Logic owed little to her except in the minuter matters of composition. The chapter of the Political Economy which has had greater direct practical effect than all the rest, that on “the probable future of the labouring classes,” is entirely due to her: in the first draft of the book that chapter did not exist. She pointed out the need of such a chapter and the extreme imperfection of the book without it; she caused me to write it, and the whole of the general part of the chapter, the statement and discussion of the two theories respecting the proper condition of the labouring classes, was a mere exposition of her thoughts, often in words taken down from her lips. The purely scientific part of the Political Economy I did not learn from her: but it was chiefly her influence that gave the general tone to the book by which it was distinguished from all previous expositions of Political Economy and which has made it so useful in conciliating the minds which those previous treatises had alienated, viz. that it never treats the mere arrangements of modern society as final; the economical generalisations which depend on social arrangements, including the whole of what are called the laws of Distribution, it never deals with as more than provisional, and certain to be much altered by the progress of events. I had indeed partially learnt this view of Edition: current; Page: [256] things from other teachings and suggestions; but it was confirmed in my own mind and made predominant in the book by her promptings. This example well illustrates the general character of what she contributed to my writings. What was abstract and purely scientific was generally mine: the properly human element came from her: in all that related to the application of philosophy to the exigencies of human society and progress, I was her pupil, and that, too, equally in the boldly speculative and in the cautiously practical. For, on the one hand, she was much more courageous and farsighted than, without her, I should ever have been, in anticipations of a state of future improvement in which many of the limited generalizations now so often confounded with universal principles of human nature, will cease to be applicable. Those parts of my writings, and particularly of the Political Economy which look forward to changes in the present opinions on the limits of the right of property and which contemplate possibilities, as to the springs of human action in economical matters, which had only been affirmed by Socialists and in general fiercely denied by political economists; all this, but for her, would either have been absent from my writings or would have been suggested much more timidly and in a more qualified form. While she thus rendered me more bold in speculation on human affairs, her eminently practical turn of mind and almost unerring estimate of practical considerations repressed in me all tendencies that were really visionary and kept me both in thought and expression within the bounds of good sense. Her mind at once invested every idea in a concrete shape and framed to itself a conception of how it would actually work; and her knowledge of human feelings and conduct as they now are, was so seldom at fault that the weak point in any unworkable practical suggestion rarely escaped her.

The Liberty was more directly and literally a joint production than anything else I wrote, for there was not a sentence in it that was not several times gone over by us together, turned over in many ways, and laboriously weeded of any imperfection Edition: current; Page: [258] we could discover either in thought or in expression. But it is difficult in this case to identify any particular part or element as being more hers than all the rest. The whole mode of thinking of which the book was the expression, was emphatically hers. But I also was so thoroughly imbued with it that the same thoughts naturally occurred to us both. That I was thus imbued with it, however, I owe in a great degree to her. There was a moment in my mental progress when I might easily have fallen into a tendency towards over-government both social and political, as there was also a moment when, by reaction from a contrary tendency, I might have become less a radical and a democrat than I now am. In both these points as in numerous others, she benefitted me as much in keeping me right where I was right, as in leading me to new truths or correcting errors. My great readiness and eagerness to learn from everybody and to make room in my system of opinions for every new acquisition by adjusting the old and the new to one another might, but for her steadying influence, have seduced me into modifying my original opinions too much. She was in nothing more valuable to my development than by her just measure of the relative importance of one consideration and another, which often protected me from allowing to truths I had only recently seen, a more important place in my thoughts than was properly their due.

[End of the Yale fragment]

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CHAPTER I: Childhood, and Early Education

it seems proper that I should prefix to the following biographical sketch, some mention of the reasons which have made me think it desirable that I should leave behind me such a memorial of so uneventful a life as mine. I do not for a moment imagine that any part of what I have to relate, can be interesting to the public as a narrative, or as being connected with myself. But I have thought that in an age in which education, and its improvement, are the subject of more, if not of profounder study than at any former period of English history, it may be useful that there should be some record of an education which was unusual and remarkable, and which, whatever else it may have done, has proved how much more than is commonly supposed may be taught, and well taught, in those early years which, in the common modes of what is called instruction, are little better than wasted. It has also seemed to me that in an age of transition in opinions, there may be somewhat both of interest and of benefit in noting the successive phases of any mind which was always pressing forward, equally ready to learn and to unlearn either from its own thoughts or from those of others. But a motive which weighs more with me than either of these, is a desire to make acknowledgment of the debts which my intellectual and moral development owes to other persons; some of them of recognized eminence, others less known than they deserve to be, and the one to whom most of all is due,[*] one whom the world had no opportunity of knowing. The reader whom these things do not interest, has only himself to blame if he reads farther, and I do not desire any other indulgence from him than that of bearing in mind, that for him these pages were not written.

I was born in London, on the 20th of May 1806, and was the eldest son of James Mill, the author of The History of British India.[†] My father, the son of a petty tradesman and (I believe) small farmer, at Northwater Bridge, in the county of Angus, was, when a boy, recommended by his abilities to the notice of Sir John Stuart, of Fettercairn, one of the Barons of the Exchequer in Scotland, and was, in consequence, sent to the University of Edinburgh at the expense of a fund Edition: current; Page: [7] established by Lady Jane Stuart (the wife of Sir John Stuart) and some other ladies for educating young men for the Scottish Church. He there went through the usual course of study, and was licensed as a Preacher, but never followed the profession; having satisfied himself that he could not believe the doctrines of that or any other Church. For a few years he was a private tutor in various families in Scotland, among others that of the Marquis of Tweeddale; but ended by taking up his residence in London, and devoting himself to authorship. Nor had he any other means of support until 1819, when he obtained an appointment in the India House.

In this period of my father’s life there are two things which it is impossible not to be struck with: one of them unfortunately a very common circumstance, the other a most uncommon one. The first is, that in his position, with no resource but the precarious one of writing in periodicals, he married and had a large family; conduct than which nothing could be more opposed, both as a matter of good sense and of duty, to the opinions which, at least at a later period of life, he strenuously upheld. The other circumstance, is the extraordinary energy which was required to lead the life he led, with the disadvantages under which he laboured from the first, and with those which he brought upon himself by his marriage. It would have been no small thing, had he done no more than to support himself and his family during so many years by writing, without ever being in debt, or in any pecuniary difficulty; holding, as he did, opinions, both in politics and in religion, which were more odious to all persons of influence, and to the common run of prosperous Englishmen, in that generation than either before or since; and being not only a man whom nothing would have induced to write against his convictions, but one who invariably threw into everything he wrote, as much of his convictions as he thought the circumstances would in any way permit: being, it must also be said, one who never did anything negligently; never undertook any task, literary or other, on which he did not conscientiously bestow all the labour necessary for performing it adequately. But he, with these burthens on him, planned, commenced, and completed, the History of India; and this in the course of about ten years, a shorter time than has been occupied (even by writers who had no other employment) in the production of almost any other historical work of equal bulk, and of anything approaching to the same amount of reading and research. And to this is to be added, that during the whole period, a considerable part of almost every day was employed in the instruction of his children: in the case of one of whom, myself, he exerted an amount of labour, care, and perseverance rarely, if ever, employed for a similar purpose, in endeavouring to give, according to his own conception, the highest order of intellectual education.

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A man who, in his own practice, so vigorously acted up to the principle of losing no time, was likely to adhere to the same rule in the instruction of his pupil. I have no remembrance of the time when I began to learn Greek. I have been told that it was when I was three years old. My earliest recollection on the subject, is that of committing to memory what my father termed Vocables, being lists of common Greek words, with their signification in English, which he wrote out for me on cards. Of grammar, until some years later, I learnt no more than the inflexions of the nouns and verbs, but, after a course of vocables, proceeded at once to translation; and I faintly remember going through Æsop’s Fables, the first Greek book which I read.[*] The Anabasis,[†] which I remember better, was the second. I learnt no Latin until my eighth year. At that time I had read, under my father’s tuition, a number of Greek prose authors, among whom I remember the whole of Herodotus, and of Xenophon’s Cyropædia and Memorials of Socrates; some of the lives of the philosophers by Diogenes Laertius; part of Lucian, and Isocrates Ad Demonicum and Ad Nicoclem. I also read, in 1813, the first six dialogues (in the common arrangement) of Plato, from the Euthyphron to the Theætetus inclusive:[‡] which last dialogue, I venture to think, would have been better omitted, as it was totally impossible I should understand it. But my father, in all his teaching, demanded of me not only the utmost that I could do, but much that I could by no possibility have done. What he was himself willing to undergo for the sake of my instruction, may be judged from the fact, that I went through the whole process of preparing my Greek lessons in the same room and at the same table at which he was writing: and as in those days Greek and English Lexicons were not, and I could make no more use of a Greek and Latin Lexicon than could be made without having yet begun to learn Latin, I was forced to have recourse to him for the meaning of every word which I did not know. This incessant interruption he, one of the most impatient of men, submitted to, and wrote under that interruption several volumes of his History and all else that he had to write during those years.

The only thing besides Greek, that I learnt as a lesson in this part of my childhood, was arithmetic: this also my father taught me: it was the task of the evenings, and I well remember its disagreeableness. But the lessons were only a part of the daily instruction I received. Much of it consisted in the books I read by myself, and my father’s discourses to me, chiefly during our walks. From 1810 to the end of 1813 we were living in Newington Green, then an almost rustic neighbourhood. My father’s health required considerable and constant exercise, and he walked habitually before breakfast, generally in the green lanes towards Edition: current; Page: [11] Hornsey. In these walks I always accompanied him, and with my earliest recollections of green fields and wild flowers, is mingled that of the account I gave him daily of what I had read the day before. To the best of my remembrance, this was a voluntary rather than a prescribed exercise. I made notes on slips of paper while reading, and from these, in the morning walks, I told the story to him, for the books were chiefly histories, of which I read in this manner a great number: Robertson’s histories, Hume, Gibbon; but my greatest delight, then and for long afterwards, was Watson’s Philip the Second and Third. The heroic defence of the Knights of Malta against the Turks, and of the revolted provinces of the Netherlands against Spain, excited in me an intense and lasting interest.[*] Next to Watson, my favorite historical reading was Hooke’s History of Rome. Of Greece I had seen at that time no regular history, except school abridgments and the last two or three volumes of a translation of Rollin’s Ancient History, beginning with Philip of Macedon. But I read with great delight Langhorne’s translation of Plutarch. In English history, beyond the time at which Hume leaves off, I remember reading Burnet’s History of His Own Time, though I cared little for anything in it except the wars and battles; and the historical part of the Annual Register, from the beginning to about 1788, where the volumes my father borrowed for me from Mr. Bentham left off. I felt a lively interest in Frederic of Prussia during his difficulties, and in Paoli, the Corsican patriot; but when I came to the American War, I took my part, like a child as I was (until set right by my father) on the wrong side, because it was called the English side. In these frequent talks about the books I read, he used, as opportunity offered, to give me explanations and ideas respecting civilization, government, morality, mental cultivation, which he required me afterwards to restate to him in my own words. He also made me read, and give him a verbal account of, many books which would not have interested me sufficiently to induce me to read them of myself: among others, Millar’s Historical View of the English Government, a book of great merit for its time, and which he highly valued; Mosheim’s Ecclesiastical History, McCrie’s Life of John Knox, and even Sewell’s and Rutty’s Histories of the Quakers.[†] He was fond of putting into my hands books which exhibited men of energy and resource in unusual circumstances, struggling against difficulties and overcoming them: of such works I remember Beaver’s African Memoranda, and Collins’s account of the first settlement of New South Wales.[‡] Two books which I never wearied of reading were Anson’s Voyage, so delightful to most young persons, and a Collection (Hawkesworth’s, I believe) of Voyages round the World, in four volumes, beginning with Drake and ending with Cook and Edition: current; Page: [13] Bougainville.[*] Of children’s books, any more than of playthings, I had scarcely any, except an occasional gift from a relation or acquaintance: among those I had, Robinson Crusoe was preeminent, and continued to delight me through all my boyhood. It was no part however of my father’s system to exclude books of amusement, though he allowed them very sparingly. Of such books he possessed at that time next to none, but he borrowed several for me; those which I remember are, the Arabian Nights, Cazotte’s Arabian Tales, Don Quixote, Miss Edgeworth’s Popular Tales, and a book of some reputation in its day, Brooke’s Fool of Quality.

In my eighth year I commenced learning Latin, in conjunction with a younger sister, to whom I taught it as I went on, and who afterwards repeated the lessons to my father: and from this time, other sisters and brothers being successively added as pupils, a considerable part of my day’s work consisted of this preparatory teaching. It was a part which I greatly disliked; the more so, as I was held responsible for the lessons of my pupils, in almost as full a sense as for my own: I however derived from this discipline the great advantage, of learning more thoroughly and retaining more lastingly the things which I was set to teach: perhaps, too, the practice it afforded in explaining difficulties to others, may even at that age have been useful. In other respects, the experience of my boyhood is not favorable to the plan of teaching children by means of one another. The teaching, I am sure, is very inefficient as teaching, and I well know that the relation between teacher and taught is not a good moral discipline to either. I went in this manner through the Latin grammar, and a considerable part of Cornelius Nepos[†] and Cæsar’s Commentaries, but afterwards added to the superintendance of these lessons, much longer ones of my own.

In the same year in which I began Latin, I made my first commencement in the Greek poets with the Iliad. After I had made some progress in this, my father put Pope’s translation into my hands. It was the first English verse I had cared to read, and it became one of the books in which for many years I most delighted: I think I must have read it from twenty to thirty times through. I should not have thought it worth while to mention a taste apparently so natural to boyhood, if I had not, as I Edition: current; Page: [15] think, observed that the keen enjoyment of this brilliant specimen of narrative and versification is not so universal with boys, as I should have expected both a priori and from my individual experience. Soon after this time I commenced Euclid, and somewhat later, algebra, still under my father’s tuition.

From my eighth to my twelfth year the Latin books which I remember reading were, the Bucolics of Virgil, and the first six books of the Æneid; all Horace except the Epodes; the fables of Phædrus; the first five books of Livy (to which from my love of the subject I voluntarily added, in my hours of leisure, the remainder of the first decad); all Sallust; a considerable part of Ovid’s Metamorphoses; some plays of Terence; two or three books of Lucretius; several of the Orations of Cicero, and of his writings on oratory; also his letters to Atticus, my father taking the trouble to translate to me from the French the historical explanations in Mongault’s notes. In Greek I read the Iliad and Odyssey through; one or two plays of Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, though by these I profited little; all Thucydides; the Hellenics of Xenophon; a great part of Demosthenes, Æschines, and Lysias; Theocritus; Anacreon; part of the Anthology; a little of Dionysius;[*] several books of Polybius; and lastly, Aristotle’s Rhetoric, which, as the first expressly scientific treatise on any moral or psychological subject which I had read, and containing many of the best observations of the ancients on human nature and life, my father made me study with peculiar care, and throw the matter of it into synoptic tables. During the same years I learnt elementary geometry and algebra thoroughly, the differential calculus and other portions of the higher mathematics far from thoroughly: for my father, not having kept up this part of his early acquired knowledge, could not spare time to qualify himself for removing my difficulties, and left me to deal with them, with little other aid than that of books:[†] while I was continually incurring his displeasure by my inability to solve difficult problems for which he did not see that I had not the necessary previous knowledge.

As to my private reading, I can only speak of what I remember. History continued to be my strongest predilection, and most of all ancient history. Mitford’s Greece I read continually. My father had put me on my guard against the Tory prejudices of this writer, and his perversions of facts for the whitewashing of despots, and blackening of popular institutions. These points he discoursed on, exemplifying them from the Greek orators and historians, with such effect that in reading Mitford, my sympathies were always on the contrary side to those of the author, and I could, to some extent, have argued the point against him: yet this did not diminish the ever new pleasure with which I read the book. Roman history, both in my old favorite, Hooke, and in Ferguson, continued to delight me. A book Edition: current; Page: [17] which, in spite of what is called the dryness of its stile, I took great pleasure in, was the Ancient Universal History:[*] through the incessant reading of which, I had my head full of historical details concerning the obscurest ancient people, while about modern history, except detached passages such as the Dutch war of independence. I knew and cared comparatively little. A voluntary exercise to which throughout my boyhood I was much addicted, was what I called writing histories. I successively composed a Roman history, picked out of Hooke;[†] an abridgment of the Ancient Universal History; a History of Holland, from my favorite Watson and from an anonymous compilation;[‡] and in my eleventh and twelfth year I occupied myself with writing what I flattered myself was something serious. This was no less than a history of the Roman Government, compiled (with the assistance of Hooke) from Livy and Dionysius: of which I wrote as much as would have made an octavo volume, extending to the epoch of the Licinian Laws. It was, in fact, an account of the struggles between the patricians and plebeians, which now engrossed all the interest in my mind which I had previously felt in the mere wars and conquests of the Romans. I discussed all the constitutional points as they arose: though quite ignorant of Niebuhr’s researches,[§] I, by such lights as my father had given me, vindicated the Agrarian Laws on the evidence of Livy, and upheld to the best of my ability the Roman democratic party. A few years later, in my contempt of my childish efforts, I destroyed all these papers, not then anticipating that I could ever feel any curiosity about my first attempts at writing and reasoning. My father encouraged me in this useful amusement, though, as I think judiciously, he never asked to see what I wrote; so that I did not feel that in writing it I was accountable to any one, nor had the chilling sensation of being under a critical eye.

But though these exercises in history were never a compulsory lesson, there was another kind of composition which was so, namely writing verses, and it was one of the most disagreeable of my tasks. Greek or Latin verses I did not write, nor learnt the prosody of those languages. My father, thinking this not worth the time it required, contented himself with making me read aloud to him, and correcting false quantities. I never composed at all in Greek, even in prose, and but little in Edition: current; Page: [19] Latin: not that my father could be indifferent to the value of this practice, in giving a thorough knowledge of those languages, but because there really was not time for it. The verses I was required to write were English. When I first read Pope’s Homer, I ambitiously attempted to compose something of the same kind, and achieved as much as one book of a continuation of the Iliad. There, probably, the spontaneous promptings of my poetical ambition would have stopped; but the exercise, begun from choice, was continued by command. Conformably to my father’s usual practice of explaining to me, as far as possible, the reasons for what he required me to do, he gave me, for this, as I well remember, two reasons highly characteristic of him. One was, that some things could be expressed better and more forcibly in verse than in prose: this, he said, was a real advantage. The other was, that people in general attached more value to verse than it deserved, and the power of writing it was, on this account, worth acquiring. He generally left me to choose my own subjects, which, as far as I remember, were mostly addresses to some mythological personage or allegorical abstraction;[*] but he made me translate into English verse many of Horace’s shorter poems: I also remember his giving me Thomson’s “Winter” to read, and afterwards making me attempt (without book) to write something myself on the same subject. The verses I wrote were of course the merest rubbish, nor did I ever attain any facility of versification, but the practice may have been useful in making it easier for me, at a later period, to acquire readiness of expression.* I had read, up to this time, very little English poetry. Shakespeare my father had put into my hands, chiefly for the sake of the historical plays, from which however I went on to the others. My father never was a great admirer of Shakespeare, the English idolatry of whom he used to attack with some severity. He cared little for any English poetry except Milton (for whom he had the highest admiration), Goldsmith, Burns, and Gray’s “Bard,” which he preferred to his Elegy: perhaps I may add Cowper and Beattie. He had some value for Spenser, and I remember his reading to me (unlike his usual practice of making me read to him) the first book of The Fairie Queene; but I took little pleasure in it. The poetry of the present century he saw scarcely any merit in, and I hardly became acquainted with any of it till I was grown up to manhood, except the metrical romances of Walter Scott, which I read at his recommendation and was intensely delighted with; as I always was with animated narrative. Dryden’s Poems were among my father’s books, and many of these he made me read, but I never cared for any of them except Alexander’s Feast, which, as well as many of the songs in Edition: current; Page: [21] Walter Scott, I used to sing internally, to a music of my own: to some of the latter indeed I went so far as to compose airs, which I still remember. Cowper’s short poems I read with some pleasure, but never got far into the longer ones; and nothing in the two volumes interested me like the prose account of his three hares. In my thirteenth year I met with Campbell’s Poems, among which “Lochiel,” “Hohenlinden,” “The Exile of Erin,” and some others, gave me sensations I had never before experienced from poetry. Here, too, I made nothing of the longer poems, except the striking opening of “Gertrude of Wyoming,” which long kept its place in my feelings as the perfection of pathos.

During this part of my childhood, one of my greatest amusements was experimental science; in the theoretical, however, not the practical sense of the word; not trying experiments, a kind of discipline which I have often regretted not having had—nor even seeing, but merely reading about them. I never remember being so wrapt up in any book, as I was in Joyce’s Scientific Dialogues; and I was rather recalcitrant to my father’s criticisms of the bad reasoning respecting the first principles of physics which abounds in the early part of that work. I devoured treatises on Chemistry, especially that of my father’s early friend and schoolfellow Dr. Thomson, for years before I attended a lecture or saw an experiment.

From about the age of twelve, I entered into another and more advanced stage in my course of instruction; in which the main object was no longer the aids and appliances of thought, but the thoughts themselves. This commenced with Logic, in which I began at once with the Organon, and read it to the Analytics inclusive, but profited little by the Posterior Analytics,[*] which belong to a branch of speculation I was not yet ripe for. Contemporaneously with the Organon, my father made me read the whole or parts of several of the Latin treatises on the scholastic logic;[†] giving each day to him, in our walks, a minute account of what I had read, and answering his numerous and searching questions. After this, I went, in a similar manner, through the “Computatio sive Logica” of Hobbes, a work of a much higher order of thought than the books of the school logicians, and which he estimated very highly; in my own opinion beyond its merits, great as these are. It was his invariable practice, whatever studies he exacted from me, to make me as far as possible understand and feel the utility of them: and this he deemed peculiarly fitting in the case of the syllogistic logic, the usefulness of which had been impugned by so many writers of authority. I well remember how, and in what particular walk, in the neighbourhood of Bagshot Heath (where we were on a visit to his old friend Mr. Wallace, then one of the Mathematical Professors at Sandhurst) he first attempted by questions to make me think on the subject, and frame some conception of what constituted the utility of the syllogistic logic, and when I Edition: current; Page: [23] had failed in this, to make me understand it by explanations. The explanations did not make the matter at all clear to me at the time; but they were not therefore useless; they remained as a nucleus for my observations and reflections to crystallize upon; the import of his general remarks being interpreted to me, by the particular instances which came under my notice afterwards. My own consciousness and experience ultimately led me to appreciate quite as highly as he did, the value of an early practical familiarity with the school logic. I know of nothing, in my education, to which I think myself more indebted for whatever capacity of thinking I have attained. The first intellectual operation in which I arrived at any proficiency, was dissecting a bad argument, and finding in what part the fallacy lay: and though whatever capacity of this sort I attained, was due to the fact that it was an intellectual exercise in which I was most perseveringly drilled by my father, yet it is also true that the school logic, and the mental habits acquired in studying it, were among the principal instruments of this drilling. I am persuaded that nothing, in modern education, tends so much, when properly used, to form exact thinkers, who attach a precise meaning to words and propositions, and are not imposed on by vague, loose, or ambiguous terms. The boasted influence of mathematical studies is nothing to it; for in mathematical processes, none of the real difficulties of correct ratiocination occur. It is also a study peculiarly adapted to an early stage in the education of philosophical students, since it does not presuppose the slow process of acquiring, by experience and reflection, valuable thoughts of their own. They may become capable of disentangling the intricacies of confused and self-contradictory thought, before their own thinking faculties are much advanced; a power which, for want of some such discipline, many otherwise able men altogether lack; and when they have to answer opponents, only endeavour, by such arguments as they can command, to support the opposite conclusion, scarcely even attempting to confute the reasonings of their antagonists; and therefore, at the utmost, leaving the question, as far as it depends on argument, a balanced one.

During this time, the Latin and Greek books which I continued to read with my father were chiefly such as were worth studying not for the language merely, but also for the thoughts. This included much of the orators, and especially Demosthenes, some of whose principal orations I read several times over, and wrote out, by way of exercise, a full analysis of them. My father’s comments on these orations when I read them to him were very instructive to me. He not only drew my attention to the insight they afforded into Athenian institutions, and the principles of legislation and government which they often illustrated, but pointed out the skill and art of the orator—how everything important to his purpose was said at the exact moment when he had brought the minds of his audience into the state most fitted to receive it; how he made steal into their minds, gradually and by insinuation, thoughts which if expressed in a more direct manner would have roused their opposition. Most of these reflections were beyond my capacity of full comprehension Edition: current; Page: [25] at the time; but they left seed behind, which germinated in due season. At this time I also read the whole of Tacitus, Juvenal, and Quintilian. The latter, owing to his obscure stile and to the scholastic details of which many parts of his treatise are made up, is little read and seldom sufficiently appreciated. His book is a kind of encyclopædia of the thoughts of the ancients on the whole field of education and culture; and I have retained through life many valuable ideas which I can distinctly trace to my reading of him, even at that early age. It was at this period that I read, for the first time, some of the most important dialogues of Plato, in particular the Gorgias, the Protagoras, and the Republic. There is no author to whom my father thought himself more indebted for his own mental culture, than Plato, or whom he more frequently recommended to young students. I can bear similar testimony in regard to myself. The Socratic method, of which the Platonic dialogues are the chief example, is unsurpassed as a discipline for correcting the errors, and clearing up the confusions incident to the intellectus sibi permissus,[*] the understanding which has made up all its bundles of associations under the guidance of popular phraseology. The close, searching elenchus by which the man of vague generalities,[†] is constrained either to express his meaning to himself in definite terms, or to confess that he does not know what he is talking about; the perpetual testing of all general statements by particular instances; the siege in form which is laid to the meaning of large abstract terms, by fixing upon some still larger class-name which includes that and more, and dividing down to the thing sought—marking out its limits and definition by a series of accurately drawn distinctions between it and each of the cognate objects which are successively parted off from it—all this, as an education for precise thinking, is inestimable, and all this, even at that age, took such hold of me that it became part of my own mind. I have felt ever since that the title of Platonist belongs by far better right to those who have been nourished in, and have endeavoured to practise Plato’s mode of investigation, than to those who are distinguished only by the adoption of certain dogmatical conclusions, drawn mostly from the least intelligible of his works, and which the character of his mind and writings makes it uncertain whether he himself regarded as anything more than poetic fancies, or philosophic conjectures.

In going through Plato and Demosthenes, since I could now read these authors, as far as the language was concerned, with perfect ease, I was not required to construe them sentence by sentence, but to read them aloud to my father, answering questions when asked: but the particular attention which he paid to elocution Edition: current; Page: [27] (in which his own excellence was remarkable) made this reading aloud to him a most painful task. Of all things which he required me to do, there was none which I did so constantly ill, or in which he so perpetually lost his temper with me. He had thought much on the principles of the art of reading, especially the most neglected part of it, the inflexions of the voice, or modulation as writers on elocution call it (in contrast with articulation on the one side, and expression on the other), and had reduced it to rules, grounded on the logical analysis of a sentence. These rules he strongly impressed upon me, and took me severely to task for every violation of them: but I even then remarked (though I did not venture to make the remark to him) that though he reproached me when I read a sentence ill, and told me how I ought to have read it, he never, by reading it himself, shewed me how it ought to be read. A defect running through his otherwise admirable modes of instruction, as it did through all his modes of thought, was that of trusting too much to the intelligibleness of the abstract, when not embodied in the concrete. It was at a much later period of my youth, when practising elocution by myself, or with companions of my own age, that I for the first time understood the object of his rules, and saw the psychological grounds of them. At that time I and others followed out the subject into its ramifications, and could have composed a very useful treatise, grounded on my father’s principles. He himself left those principles and rules unwritten. I regret that when my mind was full of the subject, from systematic practice, I did not put them, and our improvements of them, into a formal shape.

A book which contributed largely to my education, in the best sense of the term, was my father’s History of India. It was published in the beginning of 1818. During the year previous, while it was passing through the press, I used to read the proofsheets to him; or rather, I read the manuscript to him while he corrected the proofs. The number of new ideas which I received from this remarkable book, and the impulse and stimulus as well as guidance given to my thoughts by its criticisms and disquisitions on society and civilization in the Hindoo part, on institutions and Edition: current; Page: [29] the acts of governments in the English part, made my early familiarity with it eminently useful to my subsequent progress. And though I can perceive deficiencies in it now as compared with a perfect standard, I still think it, if not the most, one of the most instructive histories ever written, and one of the books from which most benefit may be derived by a mind in the course of making up its opinions.

The Preface, among the most characteristic of my father’s writings, as well as the richest in materials of thought, gives a picture which may be entirely depended on, of the sentiments and expectations with which he wrote the History. Saturated as the book is with the opinions and modes of judgment of a democratic radicalism then regarded as extreme; and treating with a severity at that time most unusual the English Constitution, the English law, and all parties and classes who possessed any considerable influence in the country; he may have expected reputation, but certainly not advancement in life, from its publication; nor could he have supposed that it would raise up anything but enemies for him in powerful quarters: least of all could he have expected favour from the East India Company, to whose commercial privileges he was unqualifiedly hostile, and on the acts of whose government he had made so many severe comments: though, in various parts of his book, he bore a testimony in their favour, which he felt to be their just due, namely, that no government had on the whole given so much proof, to the extent of its lights, of good intention towards its subjects; and that if the acts of any other government had the light of publicity as completely let in upon them, they would, in all probability, still less bear scrutiny.

On learning, however, in the spring of 1819, about a year after the publication of the History, that the East India Directors desired to strengthen the part of their home establishment which was employed in carrying on the correspondence with India, my father declared himself a candidate for that employment, and, to the credit of the Directors, successfully. He was appointed one of the Assistants of the Examiner of India Correspondence; officers whose duty it was to prepare drafts of despatches to India, for consideration by the Directors, in the principal departments of administration. In this office, and in that of Examiner, which he subsequently attained, the influence which his talents, his reputation, and his decision of character gave him, with superiors who really desired the good government of India, enabled him to a great extent to throw into his drafts of despatches, and to carry through the ordeal of the Court of Directors and Board of Control, without having their force much weakened, his real opinions on Indian subjects. In his History he had set forth, for the first time, many of the true principles of Indian administration: and his despatches, following his History, did more than had ever been done before to promote the improvement of India, and teach Indian officials to understand their business. If a selection of them were published, they would, I am convinced, place his character as a practical statesman fully on a level with his eminence as a speculative writer.

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This new employment of his time caused no relaxation in his attention to my education. It was in this same year, 1819, that he took me through a complete course of political economy. His loved and intimate friend, Ricardo, had shortly before published the book which formed so great an epoch in political economy;[*] a book which never would have been published or written, but for the entreaty and strong encouragement of my father; for Ricardo, the most modest of men, though firmly convinced of the truth of his doctrines, deemed himself so little capable of doing them justice in exposition and expression, that he shrank from the idea of publicity. The same friendly encouragement induced Ricardo, a year or two later, to become a member of the House of Commons; where during the few remaining years of his life, unhappily cut short in the full vigour of his intellect, he rendered so much service to his and my father’s opinions both in political economy and on other subjects.

Though Ricardo’s great work was already in print, no didactic treatise embodying its doctrines, in a manner fit for learners, had yet appeared. My father, therefore, commenced instructing me in the science by a sort of lectures, which he delivered to me in our walks. He expounded each day a portion of the subject, and I gave him next day a written account of it, which he made me rewrite over and over again until it was clear, precise, and tolerably complete. In this manner I went through the whole extent of the science; and the written outline of it which resulted from my daily compte rendu, served him afterwards as notes from which to write his Elements of Political Economy. After this I read Ricardo, giving an account daily of what I read, and discussing, in the best manner I could, the collateral points which offered themselves in our progress. On Money, as the most intricate part of the subject, he made me read in the same manner Ricardo’s admirable pamphlets, written during what was called the Bullion controversy. To these succeeded Adam Smith;[†] and in this reading it was one of my father’s main objects to make me apply to Smith’s more superficial view of political economy, the superior lights of Ricardo, and detect what was fallacious in Smith’s arguments, or erroneous in any of his conclusions. Such a mode of instruction was excellently calculated to form a thinker; but it required to be worked by a thinker, as close and vigorous as my father. The path was a thorny one even to him, and I am sure it was so to me, notwithstanding the strong interest I took in the subject. He was often, and much beyond reason, provoked by my failures in cases where success could not have been expected; but in the main his method was right, and it succeeded. I do not believe that any scientific teaching ever was more thorough, or better fitted for training the faculties, than the mode in which logic and political Edition: current; Page: [33] economy were taught to me by my father. Striving, even in an exaggerated degree, to call forth the activity of my faculties, by making me find out everything for myself, he gave his explanations not before, but after, I had felt the full force of the difficulties; and not only gave me an accurate knowledge of these two great subjects, as far as they were then understood, but made me a thinker on both. I thought for myself almost from the first, and occasionally thought differently from him, though for a long time only on minor points, and making his opinion the ultimate standard. At a later period I even occasionally convinced him, and altered his opinion on some points of detail: which I state to his honour, not my own. It at once exemplifies his perfect candour, and the real worth of his method of teaching.

At this point concluded what can properly be called my lessons. When I was about fourteen I left England for more than a year; and after my return, though my studies went on under my father’s general direction, he was no longer my schoolmaster. I shall therefore pause here, and turn back to matters of a more general nature connected with the part of my life and education included in the preceding reminiscences.

In the course of instruction which I have partially retraced, the point most superficially apparent is the great effort to give, during the years of childhood, an amount of knowledge in what are considered the higher branches of education, which is seldom acquired (if acquired at all) until the age of manhood. The result of the experiment shews the ease with which this may be done, and places in a strong light the wretched waste of so many precious years as are spent in acquiring the modicum of Latin and Greek commonly taught to schoolboys; a waste, which has led so many educational reformers to entertain the ill-judged proposal of discarding those languages altogether from general education. If I had been by nature extremely quick of apprehension, or had possessed a very accurate and retentive memory, or were of a remarkably active and energetic character, the trial would not be conclusive; but in all these natural gifts I am rather below than above par. What I could do, could assuredly be done by any boy or girl of average capacity and healthy physical constitution: and if I have accomplished anything, I owe it, among other fortunate circumstances, to the fact that through the early training bestowed on me by my father, I started, I may fairly say, with an advantage of a quarter of a century over my contemporaries.

There was one cardinal point in this training, of which I have already given some indication, and which, more than anything else, was the cause of whatever good it effected. Most boys or youths who have had much knowledge drilled into them, have their mental capacities not strengthened, but overlaid by it. They are Edition: current; Page: [35] crammed with mere facts, and with the opinions or phrases of other people, and these are accepted as a substitute for the power to form opinions of their own. And thus, the sons of eminent fathers, who have spared no pains in their education, so often grow up mere parroters of what they have learnt, incapable of using their minds except in the furrows traced for them. Mine, however, was not an education of cram. My father never permitted anything which I learnt, to degenerate into a mere exercise of memory. He strove to make the understanding not only go along with every step of the teaching, but if possible, precede it. Anything which could be found out by thinking, I never was told, until I had exhausted my efforts to find it out for myself. As far as I can trust my remembrance, I acquitted myself very lamely in this department; my recollection of such matters is almost wholly of failures, hardly ever of success. It is true, the failures were often in things in which success in so early a stage of my progress, was almost impossible. I remember at some time in my thirteenth year, on my happening to use the word idea, he asked me what an idea was; and expressed some displeasure at my ineffectual efforts to define the word: I recollect also his indignation at my using the common expression that something was true in theory but required correction in practice; and how, after making me vainly strive to define the word theory, he explained its meaning, and shewed the fallacy of the vulgar form of speech which I had used; leaving me fully persuaded that in being unable to give a correct definition of Theory, and in speaking of it as something which might be at variance with practice, I had shewn unparalleled ignorance. In this he seems, and perhaps was, very unreasonable; but I think, only in being angry at my failure. A pupil from whom nothing is ever demanded which he cannot do, never does all he can.

One of the evils most liable to attend on any sort of early proficiency, and which often fatally blights its promise, my father most anxiously guarded against. This was self conceit. He kept me, with extreme vigilance, out of the way of hearing myself praised, or of being led to make self-flattering comparisons between myself and others. From his own intercourse with me I could derive none but a very humble opinion of myself; and the standard of comparison he always held up to me, was not what other people did, but what a man could and ought to do. He completely succeeded in preserving me from the sort of influences he so much dreaded. I was not at all aware that my attainments were anything unusual at my age. If I accidentally had my attention drawn to the fact that some other boy knew less than myself—which happened less often than might be imagined—I concluded, not that I knew much, but that he, for some reason or other, knew little, or that his knowledge was of a different kind from mine. My state of mind was not Edition: current; Page: [37] humility, but neither was it arrogance. I never thought of saying to myself, I am, or I can do, so and so. I neither estimated myself highly nor lowly: I did not estimate myself at all. If I thought anything about myself, it was that I was rather backward in my studies, since I always found myself so, in comparison with what my father expected from me. I assert this with confidence, though it was not the impression of various persons who saw me in my childhood. They, as I have since found, thought me greatly and disagreeably self-conceited; probably because I was disputatious, and did not scruple to give direct contradictions to things which I heard said. I suppose I acquired this bad habit from having been encouraged in an unusual degree to talk on matters beyond my age, and with grown persons, while I never had inculcated on me the usual respect for them. My father did not correct this ill breeding and impertinence, probably from not being aware of it, for I was always too much in awe of him to be otherwise than extremely subdued and quiet in his presence. Yet with all this I had no notion of any superiority in myself; and well was it for me that I had not. I remember the very place in Hyde Park where, in my fourteenth year, on the eve of leaving my father’s house for a long absence, he told me that I should find, as I got acquainted with new people, that I had been taught many things which youths of my age did not commonly know; and that many persons would be disposed to talk to me of this, and to compliment me upon it. What other things he said on this topic I remember very imperfectly; but he wound up by saying, that whatever I knew more than others, could not be ascribed to any merit in me, but to the very unusual advantage which had fallen to my lot, of having a father who was able to teach me, and willing to give the necessary trouble and time; that it was no matter of praise to me, if I knew more than those who had not had a similar advantage, but the deepest disgrace to me if I did not. I have a distinct remembrance, that the suggestion thus for the first time made to me, that I knew more than other youths who were considered well educated, was to me a piece of information, to which, as to all other things which my father told me, I gave implicit credence, but which did not at all impress me as a personal matter. I felt no disposition to glorify myself upon the circumstance that there were other persons who did not know what I knew; nor had I ever flattered myself that my acquirements, whatever they might be, were any merit of mine: but, now when my attention was called to the subject, I felt that what my father had said respecting my peculiar advantages was exactly the truth and common sense of the matter, and it fixed my opinion and feeling from that time forward.

It is evident that this, among many other of the purposes of my father’s scheme of education, could not have been accomplished if he had not carefully kept me from having any great amount of intercourse with other boys. He was earnestly Edition: current; Page: [39] bent upon my escaping not only the ordinary corrupting influence which boys exercise over boys, but the contagion of vulgar modes of thought and feeling; and for this he was willing that I should pay the price of inferiority in the accomplishments which schoolboys in all countries chiefly cultivate. The deficiencies in my education were principally in the things which boys learn from being turned out to shift for themselves, and from being brought together in large numbers. From temperance and much walking, I grew up healthy and hardy, though not muscular; but I could do no feats of skill or physical strength, and knew none of the ordinary bodily exercises. It was not that play, or time for it, was refused me. Though no holidays were allowed, lest the habit of work should be broken, and a taste for idleness acquired, I had ample leisure in every day to amuse myself; but as I had no boy companions, and the animal need of physical activity was satisfied by walking, my amusements, which were mostly solitary, were in general of a quiet, if not a bookish turn, and gave little stimulus to any other kind even of mental activity than that which was already called forth by my studies. I consequently remained long, and in a less degree have always remained, inexpert in anything requiring manual dexterity; my mind, as well as my hands, did its work very lamely when it was applied, or ought to have been applied, to the practical details which, as they are the chief interest of life to the majority of men, are also the things in which whatever mental capacity they have, chiefly shews itself. I was constantly meriting reproof by inattention, inobservance, and general slackness of mind in matters of daily life. My father was the extreme opposite in these particulars: his senses and mental faculties were always on the alert; he carried decision and energy of character in his whole manner, and into every action of life: and this, as much as his talents, contributed to the strong impression which he always made upon those with whom he came into personal contact. But the children of energetic parents, frequently grow up unenergetic, because they lean on their parents, and the parents are energetic for them. The education which my father gave me, was in itself much more fitted for training me to know than to do. Not that he was unaware of my deficiencies; both as a boy and as a youth I was incessantly smarting under his severe admonitions on the subject. There was anything but insensibility or tolerance on his part towards such shortcomings: but, while he saved me from the demoralizing effects of school life, he made no effort to provide me with any sufficient substitute for its practicalizing influences. Whatever qualities he himself, probably, had acquired without difficulty or special training, he seems to have supposed that I ought to acquire as easily. He had not, I think, bestowed the same amount of thought and attention on this, as on most other branches of education; and here, as well as in some other points of my tuition, he seems to have expected effects without causes.

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CHAPTER II: Moral Influences in Early Youth. My Father’s Character and Opinions

in my education, as in that of every one, the moral influences, which are so much more important than all others, are also the most complicated, and the most difficult to specify with any approach to completeness. Without attempting the hopeless task of detailing the circumstances by which, in this respect, my early character may have been shaped, I shall confine myself to a few leading points, which form an indispensable part of any true account of my education.

I was brought up from the first without any religious belief, in the ordinary acceptation of the term. My father, educated in the creed of Scotch presbyterianism, had by his own studies and reflexions been early led to reject not only the belief in revelation, but the foundations of what is commonly called Natural Religion. I have heard him say, that the turning point of his mind on the subject was reading Butler’s Analogy.[*] That work, of which he always continued to speak with respect, kept him, as he said, for some considerable time, a believer in the divine authority of Christianity; by proving to him, that whatever are the difficulties in believing that the Old and New Testaments proceed from, or record the acts of, a perfectly wise and good being, the same and still greater difficulties stand in the way of the belief, that a being of such a character can have been the Maker of the universe. He considered Butler’s argument as conclusive against the only opponents for whom it was intended. Those who admit an omnipotent as well as perfectly just and benevolent maker and ruler of such a world as this, can say little against Christianity but what can, with at least equal force, be retorted against themselves. Finding, therefore, no halting place in Deism, he remained in a state of perplexity, until, doubtless after many struggles, he yielded to the conviction, that concerning the origin of things nothing whatever can be known. This is the only correct statement of his opinion; for dogmatic atheism he looked upon as absurd; as most of those, whom the world has considered atheists, have always done. These particulars are important, because they shew that my father’s rejection Edition: current; Page: [43] of all that is called religious belief, was not, as many might suppose, primarily a matter of logic and evidence: the grounds of it were moral, still more than intellectual. He found it impossible to believe that a world so full of evil was the work of an Author combining infinite power with perfect goodness and righteousness. His intellect spurned the subtleties by which men attempt to blind themselves to this open contradiction. The Sabæan, or Manichæan theory of a Good and an Evil Principle, struggling against each other for the government of the universe, he would not have equally condemned; and I have heard him express surprise, that no one revived it in our time. He would have regarded it as a mere hypothesis; but he would have ascribed to it no depraving influence. As it was, his aversion to religion, in the sense usually attached to the term, was of the same kind with that of Lucretius: he regarded it with the feelings due not to a mere mental delusion, but to a great moral evil. He looked upon it as the greatest enemy of morality: first, by setting up factitious excellencies,—belief in creeds, devotional feelings, and ceremonies, not connected with the good of human kind,—and causing these to be accepted as substitutes for genuine virtues: but above all, by radically vitiating the standard of morals; making it consist in doing the will of a being, on whom it lavishes indeed all the phrases of adulation, but whom in sober truth it depicts as eminently hateful. I have a hundred times heard him say, that all ages and nations have represented their gods as wicked, in a constantly increasing progression; that mankind have gone on adding trait after trait till they reached the most perfect conception of wickedness which the human mind could devise, and have called this God, and prostrated themselves before it. This ne plus ultra of wickedness he considered to be embodied in what is commonly presented to mankind as the creed of Christianity. Think (he used to say) of a being who would make a Hell—who would create the human race with the infallible foreknowledge, and therefore with the intention, that the great majority of them were to be consigned to horrible and everlasting torment. The time, I believe, is drawing near when this dreadful conception of an object of worship will be no longer identified with Christianity; and when all persons, with any sense of moral good and evil, will look upon it with the same indignation with which my father regarded it. My father was as well aware as any one that Christians do not, in general, undergo the demoralizing consequences which seem inherent in such a creed, in the manner or to the extent which might have been expected from it. The same slovenliness of thought, and subjection of the reason to fears, wishes, and affections, which enable them to accept a theory involving a contradiction in terms, prevents them from perceiving the logical consequences of the theory. Such is the facility with which mankind believe at one and the same time things inconsistent with one another, and so few are those who draw from what they receive as truths, any consequences but those recommended to them by their feelings, that multitudes have held the undoubting belief in an Omnipotent Author of Hell, and have nevertheless identified that being with the best conception they were able to form of perfect goodness. Their worship Edition: current; Page: [45] was not paid to the demon which such a Being as they imagined would really be, but to their own ideal of excellence. The evil is, that such a belief keeps the ideal wretchedly low; and opposes the most obstinate resistance to all thought which has a tendency to raise it higher. Believers shrink from every train of ideas which would lead the mind to a clear conception and an elevated standard of excellence, because they feel (even when they do not distinctly see) that such a standard would conflict with many of the dispensations of nature, and with much of what they are accustomed to consider as the Christian creed. And thus morality continues a matter of blind tradition, with no consistent principle, nor even any consistent feeling, to guide it.

It would have been wholly inconsistent with my father’s ideas of duty, to allow me to acquire impressions contrary to his convictions and feelings respecting religion: and he impressed upon me from the first, that the manner in which the world came into existence was a subject on which nothing was known: that the question “Who made me?” cannot be answered, because we have no experience or authentic information from which to answer it; and that any answer only throws the difficulty a step further back, since the question immediately presents itself, Who made God? He, at the same time, took care that I should be acquainted with what had been thought by mankind on these impenetrable problems. I have mentioned at how early an age he made me a reader of ecclesiastical history; and he taught me to take the strongest interest in the Reformation, as the great and decisive contest against priestly tyranny for liberty of thought.

I am thus one of the very few examples, in this country, of one who has, not thrown off religious belief, but never had it: I grew up in a negative state with regard to it. I looked upon the modern exactly as I did upon the ancient religion, as something which in no way concerned me. It did not seem to me more strange that English people should believe what I did not, than that the men whom I read of in Herodotus should have done so. History had made the variety of opinions among mankind a fact familiar to me, and this was but a prolongation of that fact. This point in my early education had however incidentally one bad consequence deserving notice. In giving me an opinion contrary to that of the world, my father thought it necessary to give it as one which could not prudently be avowed to the world. This lesson of keeping my thoughts to myself, at that early age, was attended with some moral disadvantages; though my limited intercourse with strangers, especially such as were likely to speak to me on religion, prevented me from being placed in the alternative of avowal or hypocrisy. I remember two occasions in my boyhood, on which I felt myself in this alternative, and in both cases I avowed my disbelief and defended it. My opponents were boys, considerably older than myself: one of them I certainly staggered at the time, but the subject Edition: current; Page: [47] was never renewed between us: the other, who was surprised and somewhat shocked, did his best to convince me for some time, without effect.

The great advance in liberty of discussion, which is one of the most important differences between the present time and that of my childhood, has greatly altered the moralities of this question; and I think that few men of my father’s intellect and public spirit, holding with such intensity of moral conviction as he did, unpopular opinions on religion, or on any other of the great subjects of thought, would now either practise or inculcate the withholding of them from the world, unless in the cases, becoming fewer every day, in which frankness on these subjects would either risk the loss of means of subsistence, or would amount to exclusion from some sphere of usefulness peculiarly suitable to the capacities of the individual. On religion in particular the time appears to me to have come, when it is the duty of all who being qualified in point of knowledge, have on mature consideration satisfied themselves that the current opinions are not only false but hurtful, to make their dissent known; at least, if they are among those whose station, or reputation, gives their opinion a chance of being attended to. Such an avowal would put an end, at once and for ever, to the vulgar prejudice, that what is called, very improperly, unbelief, is connected with any bad qualities either of mind or heart. The world would be astonished if it knew how great a proportion of its brightest ornaments—of those most distinguished even in popular estimation for wisdom and virtue—are complete sceptics in religion; many of them refraining from avowal, less from personal considerations, than from a conscientious, though now in my opinion a most mistaken apprehension lest by speaking out what would tend to weaken existing beliefs, and by consequence (as they suppose) existing restraints, they should do harm instead of good.

Of unbelievers (so called) as well as of believers, there are many species, including almost every variety of moral type. But the best among them, as no one who has had opportunities of really knowing them will hesitate to affirm (believers rarely have that opportunity), are more genuinely religious, in the best sense of the word religion, than those who exclusively arrogate to themselves the title. The liberality of the age, or in other words the weakening of the obstinate prejudice, which makes men unable to see what is before their eyes because it is contrary to their expectations, has caused it to be very commonly admitted that a Deist may be truly religious: but if religion stands for any graces of character and not for mere dogma, the assertion may equally be made of many whose belief is far short of Deism. Though they may think the proof incomplete that the universe is a work of design, and though they assuredly disbelieve that it can have an Author and Governor who is absolute in power as well as perfect in goodness, they have that which constitutes the principal worth of all religions whatever, an ideal conception of a Perfect Being, to which they habitually refer as the guide of their conscience; and this ideal of Good is usually far nearer to perfection than the objective Deity of Edition: current; Page: [49] those, who think themselves obliged to find absolute goodness in the author of a world so crowded with suffering and so deformed by injustice as ours.

My father’s moral convictions, wholly dissevered from religion, were very much of the character of those of the Greek philosophers; and were delivered with the force and decision which characterized all that came from him. Even at the very early age at which I read with him the Memorabilia of Xenophon, I imbibed from that work and from his comments a deep respect for the character of Socrates; who stood in my mind as a model of ideal excellence: and I well remember how my father at that time impressed upon me the lesson of the “Choice of Hercules.”[*] At a somewhat later period the lofty moral standard exhibited in the writings of Plato operated upon me with great force. My father’s moral inculcations were at all times mainly those of the “Socratici viri”;[†] justice, temperance (to which he gave a very extended application), veracity, perseverance, readiness to encounter pain and especially labour; regard for the public good; estimation of persons according to their merits, and of things according to their intrinsic usefulness; a life of exertion, in contradiction to one of self-indulgent sloth. These and other moralities he conveyed in brief sentences, uttered as occasion arose, of grave exhortation, or stern reprobation and contempt.

But though direct moral teaching does much, indirect does more; and the effect my father produced on my character, did not depend solely on what he said or did with that direct object, but also, and still more, on what manner of man he was.

In his views of life he partook of the character of the Stoic, the Epicurean, and the Cynic, not in the modern but the ancient sense of the word. In his personal qualities the Stoic predominated. His standard of morals was Epicurean, inasmuch as it was utilitarian, taking as the exclusive test of right and wrong, the tendency of actions to produce pleasure or pain. But he had (and this was the Cynic element) scarcely any belief in pleasure; at least in his later years, of which alone, on this point, I can speak confidently. He was not insensible to pleasures; but he deemed very few of them worth the price which, at least in the present state of society, must be paid for them. The greatest number of miscarriages in life, he considered to be attributable to the overvaluing of pleasures. Accordingly, temperance, in the large sense intended by the Greek philosophers—stopping short at the point of moderation in all indulgences—was with him, as with them, almost the central point of educational precept. His inculcations of this virtue fill a large place in my childish remembrances. He thought human life a poor thing at best, after the freshness of youth and of unsatisfied curiosity had gone by. This was a topic on which he did not often speak, especially, it may be supposed, in the presence of young persons: Edition: current; Page: [51] but when he did, it was with an air of settled and profound conviction. He would sometimes say, that if life were made what it might be, by good government and good education, it would be worth having: but he never spoke with anything like enthusiasm even of that possibility. He never varied in rating intellectual enjoyments above all others, even in value as pleasure, independently of their ulterior benefits. The pleasures of the benevolent affections he placed high in the scale; and used to say, that he had never known a happy old man, except those who were able to live over again in the pleasures of the young. For passionate emotions of all sorts, and for everything which has been said or written in exaltation of them, he professed the greatest contempt. He regarded them as a form of madness. “The intense” was with him a bye-word of scornful disapprobation. He regarded as an aberration of the moral standard of modern times, compared with that of the ancients, the great stress laid upon feeling. Feelings, as such, he considered to be no proper subjects of praise or blame. Right and wrong, good and bad, he regarded as qualities solely of conduct—of acts and omissions; there being no feeling which may not lead, and does not frequently lead, either to good or to bad actions: conscience itself, the very desire to act right, often leading people to act wrong. Consistently carrying out the doctrine, that the object of praise and blame should be the discouragement of wrong conduct and the encouragement of right, he refused to let his praise or blame be influenced by the motive of the agent. He blamed as severely what he thought a bad action, when the motive was a feeling of duty, as if the agents had been consciously evil doers. He would not have accepted as a plea in mitigation for inquisitors, that they sincerely believed burning heretics to be an obligation of conscience. But though he did not allow honesty of purpose to soften his disapprobation of actions, it had its full effect on his estimation of characters. No one prized conscientiousness and rectitude of intention more highly, or was more incapable of valuing any person in whom he did not feel assurance of it. But he disliked people quite as much for any other deficiency, provided he thought it equally likely to make them act ill. He disliked, for instance, a fanatic in any bad cause, as much or more than one who adopted the same cause from self-interest, because he thought him even more likely to be practically mischievous. And thus, his aversion to many intellectual errors, or what he regarded as such, partook, in a certain sense, of the character of a moral feeling. All this is merely saying that he, in a degree once common, but now very unusual, threw his feelings into his opinions; which truly it is difficult to understand how any one, who possesses much of both, can fail to do. None but those who do not care about opinions, will confound it with intolerance. Those who, having opinions Edition: current; Page: [53] which they hold to be immensely important, and the contraries to be prodigiously hurtful, have any deep regard for the general good, will necessarily dislike, as a class and in the abstract, those who think wrong what they think right, and right what they think wrong: though they need not therefore be, nor was my father, insensible to good qualities in an opponent, nor governed in their estimation of individuals by one general presumption, instead of by the whole of their character. I grant that an earnest person, being no more infallible than other men, is liable to dislike people on account of opinions which do not merit dislike; but if he neither himself does them any ill office, nor connives at its being done by others, he is not intolerant: and the forbearance, which flows from a conscientious sense of the importance to mankind of the equal freedom of all opinions, is the only tolerance which is commendable, or, to the highest moral order of minds, possible.

It will be admitted, that a man of the opinions, and the character, above described, was likely to leave a strong moral impression on any mind principally formed by him, and that his moral teaching was not likely to err on the side of laxity or indulgence. The element which was chiefly deficient in his moral relation to his children, was that of tenderness. I do not believe that this deficiency lay in his own nature. I believe him to have had much more feeling than he habitually shewed, and much greater capacities of feeling than were ever developed. He resembled most Englishmen in being ashamed of the signs of feeling, and, by the absence of demonstration, starving the feelings themselves. If we consider further that he was in the trying position of sole teacher, and add to this that his temper was constitutionally irritable, it is impossible not to feel true pity for a father who did, and strove to do, so much for his children, who would have so valued their affection, yet who must have been constantly feeling that fear of him was drying it up at its source. This was no longer the case, later in life and with his younger children. They loved him tenderly: and if I cannot say so much of myself, I was always loyally devoted to him. As regards my own education, I hesitate to pronounce whether I was more a loser or gainer by his severity. It was not such as to prevent me from having a happy childhood. And I do not believe, that boys can be induced to apply themselves with vigour, and what is so much more difficult, perseverance, to dry and irksome studies, by the sole force of persuasion and soft words. Much must be done, and much must be learnt, by children, for which rigid discipline, and known liability to punishment, are indispensable as means. It is, no doubt, a very laudable effort, in modern teaching, to render as much as possible of what the young are required to learn, easy and interesting to them. But when this principle is pushed to the length of not requiring them to learn anything but what has been made easy and interesting, one of the chief objects of education is sacrificed. I rejoice in the decline of the old brutal and tyrannical system of teaching, which Edition: current; Page: [55] however did succeed in enforcing habits of application; but the new, as it seems to me, is training up a race of men who will be incapable of doing anything which is disagreeable to them. I do not, then, believe that fear, as an element in education, can be dispensed with; but I am sure that it ought not to be the main element; and when it predominates so much as to preclude love and confidence on the part of the child to those who should be the unreservedly trusted advisers of after years, and perhaps to seal up the fountains of frank and spontaneous communicativeness in the child’s nature, it is an evil for which a large abatement must be made from the benefits, moral and intellectual, which may flow from any other part of the education.

During this first period of my life, the habitual frequenters of my father’s house were limited to a very few persons, most of them little known to the world, but whom personal worth, and more or less of congeniality with at least his political opinions (not so frequently to be met with then as since) inclined him to cultivate; and his conversations with them I listened to with interest and instruction. My being an habitual inmate of my father’s study made me acquainted with the dearest of his friends, David Ricardo, who by his benevolent countenance, and kindliness of manner, was very attractive to young persons, and who after I became a student of political economy, invited me to his house and to walk with him in order to converse on the subject. I was a more frequent visitor (from about 1817 or 1818) to Mr. Hume, who, born in the same part of Scotland as my father, and having been, I rather think, a younger schoolfellow or college companion of his, had on returning from India renewed their youthful acquaintance, and who coming like many others greatly under the influence of my father’s intellect and energy of character, was induced partly by that influence to go into Parliament, and there adopt the line of conduct which has given him an honorable place in the history of his country. Of Mr. Bentham I saw much more, owing to the close intimacy which existed between him and my father. I do not know how soon after my father’s first arrival in England they became acquainted. But my father was the earliest Englishman of any great mark, who thoroughly understood, and in the main adopted, Bentham’s general views of ethics, government, and law: and this was a natural foundation for sympathy between them, and made them familiar companions in a period of Bentham’s life during which he admitted much fewer visitors than was the case subsequently. At this time Mr. Bentham passed some part of every year at Barrow Green House, in a beautiful part of the Surrey hills, a few miles from Godstone, and there I each summer accompanied my father in a long visit. In 1813 Mr. Bentham, my father, and I made an excursion, which included Oxford, Bath and Edition: current; Page: [57] Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, and Portsmouth. In this journey I saw many things which were instructive to me, and acquired my first taste for natural scenery, in the elementary form of fondness for a “view.” In the succeeding winter we moved into a house very near Mr. Bentham’s, which my father rented from him, in Queen Square, Westminster. From 1814 to 1817 Mr. Bentham lived during half of each year at Ford Abbey, in Somersetshire (or rather in a part of Devonshire surrounded by Somersetshire), which intervals I had the advantage of passing at that place. This sojourn was, I think, an important circumstance in my education. Nothing contributes more to nourish elevation of sentiments in a people, than the large and free character of their habitations. The middle-age architecture, the baronial hall, and the spacious and lofty rooms, of this fine old place, so unlike the mean and cramped externals of English middle class life, gave the sentiment of a larger and freer existence, and were to me a sort of poetic cultivation, aided also by the character of the grounds in which the Abbey stood; which were riant and secluded, umbrageous, and full of the sound of falling waters.

I owed another of the fortunate circumstances in my education, a year’s residence in France,[*] to Mr. Bentham’s brother, General Sir Samuel Bentham. I had seen Sir Samuel Bentham and his family at their house near Gosport in the course of the tour already mentioned (he being then Superintendant of the Dockyard at Portsmouth) and during a stay of a few days which they made at Ford Abbey shortly after the peace, before going to live on the Continent. In 1820 they invited me for a six months visit to them in the South of France, which their Edition: current; Page: [59] kindness ultimately prolonged to nearly a twelvemonth. Sir Samuel Bentham, though of a character of mind different from that of his illustrious brother, was a man of very considerable attainments and general powers, with a decided genius for mechanical art. His wife, a daughter of the celebrated chemist Dr. Fordyce, was a woman of strong will and decided character, much general knowledge, and great practical good sense of the Edgeworth kind:[*] she was the ruling spirit of the household, as she deserved, and was well qualified, to be. Their family consisted of one son (the eminent botanist) and three daughters, the youngest about two years my senior. I am indebted to them for much and various instruction, and for an almost parental interest in my welfare. When I first joined them, in May 1820, they occupied the Château of Pompignan (still belonging to a descendant[†] of Voltaire’s enemy) on the heights overlooking the plain of the Garonne between Montauban and Toulouse. I accompanied them in an excursion to the Pyrenees, including a stay of some duration at Bagnères de Bigorre, a journey to Pau, Bayonne, and Bagnères de Luchon, and an ascent of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre. This first introduction to the highest order of mountain scenery made the deepest impression on me, and gave a colour to my tastes through life. In October we proceeded by the beautiful mountain route of Castres and St. Pons, from Toulouse to Montpellier, in which last neighbourhood Sir Samuel had just bought the estate of Restinclière, near the foot of the singular mountain of St. Loup. During this residence in France I acquired a familiar knowledge of the French language, and acquaintance with the ordinary French literature; I took lessons in various bodily exercises, in none of which however I made any proficiency; and at Montpellier I attended the excellent winter courses of lectures at the Faculté des Sciences, those of M. Anglada on chemistry, of M. Provençal on zoology, and of a very accomplished representative of the eighteenth century metaphysics, M. Gergonne, on logic, under the name of Philosophy of the Sciences.[‡] I also went through a course of the higher mathematics under the private tuition of M. Lenthéric, a professor at the Lycée of Montpellier. But the greatest, perhaps, of the many advantages which I owed to this episode in my education, was that of having breathed for a whole year the free and genial atmosphere of Continental life. This advantage was not the less real though I could not then estimate, nor even consciously feel it. Having so little experience of English life, and the few people I knew being mostly such as had public objects, of a large and personally disinterested Edition: current; Page: [61] kind, at heart, I was ignorant of the low moral tone of what, in England, is called society; the habit of, not indeed professing, but taking for granted in every mode of implication, that conduct is of course always directed towards low and petty objects; the absence of high feelings which manifests itself by sneering depreciation of all demonstrations of them, and by general abstinence (except among a few of the stricter religionists) from professing any high principles of action at all, except in those preordained cases in which such profession is put on as part of the costume and formalities of the occasion. I could not then know or estimate the difference between this manner of existence, and that of a people like the French, whose faults, if equally real, are at all events different; among whom sentiments, which by comparison at least may be called elevated, are the current coin of human intercourse, both in books and in private life; and though often evaporating in profession, are yet kept alive in the nation at large by constant exercise, and stimulated by sympathy, so as to form a living and active part of the existence of great numbers of persons, and to be recognized and understood by all. Neither could I then appreciate the general culture of the understanding, which results from the habitual exercise of the feelings, and is thus carried down into the most uneducated classes of several countries on the Continent, in a degree not equalled in England among the so called educated, except where an unusual tenderness of conscience leads to a habitual exercise of the intellect on questions of right and wrong. I did not know the way in which, among the ordinary English, the absence of interest in things of an unselfish kind, except occasionally in a special thing here and there, and the habit of not speaking to others, nor much even to themselves, about the things in which they do feel interest, causes both their feelings and their intellectual faculties to remain undeveloped, or develope themselves only in some single and very limited direction; reducing them, considered as spiritual beings, to a kind of negative existence. All these things I did not perceive till long afterwards; but I even then felt, though without stating it clearly to myself, the contrast between the frank sociability and amiability of French personal intercourse, and the English mode of existence in which everybody acts as if everybody else (with few, or no, exceptions) was either an enemy or a bore. In France, it is true, the bad as well as the good points both of individual and of national character come more to the surface, and break out more fearlessly in ordinary intercourse, than in England: but the general habit of the people is to shew, as well as to expect, friendly feeling in every one towards every other, wherever there is not some positive cause for the opposite. In England it is only of the best bred people, in the upper or upper middle ranks, that anything like this can be said.

In my way through Paris, both going and returning, I passed some time in the house of M. Say, the eminent political economist, who was a friend and correspondent Edition: current; Page: [63] of my father, having become acquainted with him on a visit to England a year or two after the peace. He was a man of the later period of the French Revolution—a fine specimen of the best kind of French republican, one of those who had never bent the knee to Bonaparte though courted by him to do so; a truly upright, brave, and enlightened man. He lived a quiet and studious life, made happy by warm affections, public and private. He was acquainted with many of the chiefs of the Liberal party, and I saw various noteworthy persons while staying at his house; among whom I have pleasure in the recollection of having once seen Saint-Simon, not yet the founder either of a philosophy or a religion, and considered only as a clever original. The chief fruit which I carried away from the society I saw, was a strong and permanent interest in Continental Liberalism, of which I ever afterwards kept myself au courant, as much as of English politics: a thing not at all usual in those days with Englishmen, and which had a very salutary influence on my development, keeping me free from the error always prevalent in England, and from which even my father with all his superiority to prejudice was not exempt, of judging universal questions by a merely English standard. After passing a few weeks at Caen with an old friend of my father’s,[*] I returned to England in July 1821; and my education resumed its ordinary course.

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CHAPTER III: Last Stage of Education, and First of Self-Education

for the first year or two after my visit to France, I continued my old studies, with the addition of some new ones. When I returned, my father was just finishing for the press his Elements of Political Economy, and he made me perform an exercise on the manuscript, which Mr. Bentham practised on all his own writings, making what he called “marginal contents”; a short abstract of every paragraph, to enable the writer more easily to judge of, and improve, the order of the ideas, and the general character of the exposition. Soon after, my father put into my hands Condillac’s Traité des Sensations, and the logical and metaphysical volumes of his Cours d’Etudes; the first (notwithstanding the superficial resemblance between Condillac’s psychological system and my father’s) quite as much for a warning as for an example. I am not sure whether it was in this winter or the next that I first read a history of the French Revolution.[*] I learnt with astonishment, that the principles of democracy, then apparently in so insignificant and hopeless a minority everywhere in Europe, had borne all before them in France thirty years earlier, and had been the creed of the nation. As may be supposed from this, I had previously a very vague idea of that great commotion. I knew only that the French had thrown off the absolute monarchy of Louis XIV and XV, had put the king and queen to death, guillotined many persons, one of whom was Lavoisier, and had ultimately fallen under the despotism of Bonaparte. From this time, as was natural, the subject took an immense hold of my feelings. It allied itself with all my juvenile aspirations to the character of a democratic champion. What had happened so Edition: current; Page: [67] lately, seemed as if it might easily happen again; and the most transcendant glory I was capable of conceiving, was that of figuring, successful or unsuccessful, as a Girondist in an English Convention.

During the winter of 1821/2, Mr. John Austin, with whom at the time of my visit to France my father had but lately become acquainted, kindly allowed me to read Roman law with him. My father, notwithstanding his abhorrence of the chaos of barbarism called English Law, had turned his thoughts towards the bar as on the whole less ineligible for me than any other profession: and these readings with Mr. Austin, who had made Bentham’s best ideas his own, and added much to them from other sources and from his own mind, were not only a valuable introduction to legal studies, but an important portion of general education. With Mr. Austin I read Heineccius on the Institutes, his Roman Antiquities, and part of his exposition of the Pandects; to which was added a considerable portion of Blackstone.[*] It was at the commencement of these studies that my father, as a needful accompaniment to them, put into my hands Bentham’s principal speculations, as interpreted to the Continent, and indeed to all the world, by Dumont, in the Traité de Législation. The reading of this book was an epoch in my life; one of the turning points in my mental history.

My previous education had been, in a certain sense, already a course of Benthamism. The Benthamic standard of “the greatest happiness” was that which I had always been taught to apply; I was even familiar with an abstract discussion of it, forming an episode in an unpublished dialogue on Government, written by my father on the Platonic model. Yet in the first pages of Bentham it burst upon me with all the force of novelty. What thus impressed me was the chapter in which Bentham passed judgment on the common modes of reasoning in morals and legislation, deduced from phrases like “law of nature,” “right reason,” “the moral sense,” “natural rectitude,” and the like, and characterized them as dogmatism in disguise imposing its sentiments upon others under cover of sounding expressions which convey no reason for the sentiment, but set up the sentiment as its own reason.[†] It had not struck me before, that Bentham’s principle put an end to all this. The feeling rushed upon me, that all previous moralists were superseded, and that here indeed was the commencement of a new era in thought. This impression was strengthened by the manner in which Bentham put into scientific form the application of the happiness principle to the morality of actions, by analyzing the various classes and orders of their consequences. But what struck me at that time most of all, was the Classification of Offences; which is much more clear, compact, and imposing, in Dumont’s redaction, than in the original work of Edition: current; Page: [69] Bentham from which it was taken.[*] Logic, and the dialectics of Plato, which had formed so large a part of my previous training, had given me a strong relish for accurate classification. This taste had been strengthened and enlightened by the study of botany, on the principles of what is called the Natural Method, which I had taken up with great zeal, though only as an amusement, during my stay in France; and when I found scientific classification applied to the great and complex subject of Punishable Acts, under the guidance of the ethical principle of Pleasurable and Painful Consequences, followed out in the method of detail introduced into these subjects by Bentham, I felt taken up to an eminence from which I could survey a vast mental domain, and see stretching out into the distance intellectual results beyond all computation. As I proceeded farther, there seemed to be added to this intellectual clearness, the most inspiring prospects of practical improvement in human affairs. To Bentham’s general views of the construction of a body of law I was not altogether a stranger, having read with attention that admirable compendium, my father’s article “Jurisprudence”: but I had read it with little profit, and scarcely any interest, no doubt from its extremely general and abstract character, and also because it concerned the form more than the substance of the corpus juris, the logic rather than the ethics of law. But Bentham’s subject was Legislation, of which Jurisprudence is only the formal part: and at every page he seemed to open a clearer and broader conception of what human opinions and institutions ought to be, how they might be made what they ought to be, and how far removed from it they now are. When I laid down the last volume of the Traité I had become a different being. The “principle of utility,” understood as Bentham understood it, and applied in the manner in which he applied it through these three volumes, fell exactly into its place as the keystone which held together the detached and fragmentary component parts of my knowledge and beliefs. It gave unity to my conceptions of things. I now had opinions; a creed, a doctrine, a philosophy; in one among the best senses of the word, a religion; the inculcation and diffusion of which could be made the principal outward purpose of a life. And I had a grand conception laid before me of changes to be effected in the condition of mankind through that doctrine. The Traité de Législation wound up with what was to me a most impressive picture of human life as it would be made by such opinions and such laws as were recommended in the treatise.[†] The anticipations of practicable improvement were studiously moderate, deprecating and discountenancing as reveries of vague enthusiasm many things which will one day seem so natural to Edition: current; Page: [71] human beings, that injustice will probably be done to those who once thought them chimerical. But, in my state of mind, this appearance of superiority to illusion added to the effect which Bentham’s doctrines produced on me, by heightening the impression of mental power. And the vista of improvement which he did open was sufficiently large and brilliant to light up my life, as well as to give a definite shape to my aspirations.

After this I read, from time to time, the most important of the other works of Bentham which had then seen the light, either as written by himself or as edited by Dumont. This was my private reading: while, under my father’s direction, my studies were carried into the higher branches of analytic psychology. I now read Locke’s Essay, and wrote out an account of it, consisting of a complete abstract of every chapter, with such remarks as occurred to me: which was read by, or (I think) to, my father, and discussed throughout. I performed the same process with Helvetius De l’Esprit, which I read of my own choice. This preparation of abstracts, subject to my father’s censorship, was of great service to me, by compelling precision in conceiving and expressing psychological doctrines, whether accepted as truths or only regarded as the opinions of others. After Helvetius, my father made me study what he deemed the really master-production in the philosophy of mind, Hartley’s Observations on Man. This book, though it did not, like the Traité de Législation, give a new colour to my existence, made a very similar impression on me in regard to its immediate subject. Hartley’s explanation, incomplete as in many points it is, of the more complex mental phenomena by the law of association, commended itself to me at once as a real analysis, and made me feel by contrast the insufficiency of the merely verbal generalizations of Condillac, and even of the instructive gropings and feelings about for psychological explanations, of Locke. It was at this very time that my father commenced writing his Analysis of the Mind, which carried Hartley’s mode of explaining the mental phenomena to so much greater length and depth. He could only command the concentration of thought necessary for this work, during the complete leisure of his holiday of a month or six weeks annually; and he commenced it in the summer of 1822, in the first holiday he passed at Dorking; in which neighbourhood, from that time to the end of his life, with the exception of two years, he lived, as far as his official duties permitted, for six months of every year. He worked at the Analysis during several successive vacations, up to the year 1829, when it was published, and allowed me to read the manuscript, portion by portion, as it advanced. The other principal English writers on mental philosophy I read as I felt inclined, particularly Berkeley, Hume’s Essays, Reid, Dugald Stewart, and Brown on Cause and Effect. Brown’s Lectures I did not read until two or three years later, nor at that time had my father himself read them.

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Among the works read in the course of this year, which contributed materially to my development, I ought to mention a book (written on the foundation of some of Bentham’s manuscripts and published under the pseudonyme of Philip Beauchamp)[*] entitled Analysis of the Influence of Natural Religion on the Temporal Happiness of Mankind. This was an examination not of the truth, but of the usefulness of religious belief, in the most general sense, apart from the peculiarities of any special Revelation; which, of all the parts of the discussion concerning religion, is the most important in this age, in which real belief in any religious doctrine is feeble and precarious, but the opinion of its necessity for moral and social purposes almost universal; and when those who reject revelation, very generally take refuge in an optimistic Deism, a worship of the order of Nature and the supposed course of Providence, at least as full of contradictions, and perverting to the moral sentiments, as any of the forms of Christianity, if only it is as completely realized. Yet, very little, with any claim to a philosophical character, has been written by sceptics against the usefulness of this form of belief. The volume bearing the name of Philip Beauchamp had this for its special object. Having been shewn to my father in manuscript, it was put into my hands by him, and I made a marginal analysis of it as I had done of the Elements of Political Economy. Next to the Traité de Législation, it was one of the books which by the searching character of its analysis produced the greatest effect upon me. On reading it lately after an interval of many years, I find it to have some of the defects as well as the merits of the Benthamic modes of thought, and to contain, as I now think, many weak arguments, but with a great overbalance of sound ones, and much good material for a more completely philosophic and conclusive treatment of the subject.

I have now, I believe, mentioned all the books which had any considerable effect on my early mental development. From this point I began to carry on my intellectual cultivation by writing still more than by reading. In the summer of 1822 I wrote my first argumentative essay. I remember very little about it, except that it was an attack on what I regarded as the aristocratic prejudice, that the rich were, or were likely to be, superior in moral qualities to the poor. My performance was entirely argumentative, without any of the declamation which the subject would admit of, and might be expected to suggest to a young writer. In that department however I was, and remained, very inapt. Dry argument was the only thing I could manage, or willingly attempted; though passively I was very susceptible to the effect of all composition, whether in the form of poetry or oratory, which appealed to the feelings on any basis of reason. My father, who knew nothing of Edition: current; Page: [75] this essay until it was finished, was well satisfied, and as I learnt from others, even pleased with it; but, perhaps from a desire to promote the exercise of other mental faculties than the purely logical, he advised me to make my next exercise in composition one of the oratorical kind: on which suggestion, availing myself of my familiarity with Greek history and ideas and with the Athenian orators, I wrote two speeches, one an accusation, the other a defence of Pericles on a supposed impeachment for not marching out to fight the Lacedæmonians on their invasion of Attica. After this I continued to write papers on subjects often very much beyond my capacity, but with great benefit both from the exercise itself, and from the discussions which it led to with my father.

I had now also begun to converse, on general subjects, with the instructed men with whom I came in contact: and the opportunities of such contact naturally became more numerous. The two friends of my father from whom I derived most, and with whom I most associated, were Mr. Grote and Mr. John Austin. The acquaintance of both with my father was recent, but had ripened rapidly into intimacy. Mr. Grote was introduced to my father by Mr. Ricardo, I think in 1819 (being then about twenty-five years old), and sought assiduously his society and conversation. Already a highly instructed man, he was yet, by the side of my father, a tyro on the great subjects of human opinion; but he rapidly seized on my father’s best ideas; and in the department of political opinion he made himself known as early as 1820, by a pamphlet in defence of Radical Reform, in reply to a celebrated article by Sir James Mackintosh, then lately published in the Edinburgh Review.[*] Mr. Grote’s father, the banker, was, I believe, a thorough Tory, and his mother intensely Evangelical; so that for his liberal opinions he was in no way indebted to home influences. But, unlike most persons who have the prospect of being rich by inheritance, he had, though actively engaged in the business of banking, devoted a great portion of time to philosophic studies; and his intimacy with my father did much to decide the character of the next stage in his mental progress. Him I often visited, and my conversations with him on political, moral, and philosophical subjects gave me, in addition to much valuable instruction, all the pleasure and benefit of sympathetic communion with a man of the high intellectual and moral eminence which his life and writings have since manifested to the world.

Mr. Austin, who was four or five years older than Mr. Grote, was the eldest son of a retired miller in Suffolk, who had made money by contracts during the war, Edition: current; Page: [77] and who must have been a man of remarkable qualities, as I infer from the fact that all his sons were of more than common ability and all eminently gentlemen. The one with whom we are now concerned, and whose writings on jurisprudence have made him celebrated, was for some time in the army, and served in Sicily under Lord William Bentinck. After the peace he sold his commission and studied for the bar, to which he had been called for some time before my father knew him. He was not, like Mr. Grote, to any extent a pupil of my father, but he had attained, by reading and thought, a considerable number of the same opinions, modified by his own very decided individuality of character. He was a man of great intellectual powers, which in conversation appeared at their very best; from the vigour and richness of expression with which, under the excitement of discussion, he was accustomed to maintain some view or other of most general subjects; and from an appearance of not only strong, but deliberate and collected will; mixed with a certain bitterness, partly derived from temperament, and partly from the general cast of his feelings and reflexions. The dissatisfaction with life and the world, felt more or less in the present state of society and intellect by every discerning and highly conscientious mind, gave in his case a rather melancholy tinge to the character, very natural to those whose passive moral susceptibilities are more than proportioned to their active energies. For it must be said, that the strength of will, of which his manner seemed to give such strong assurance, expended itself principally in manner. With great zeal for human improvement, a strong sense of duty, and capacities and acquirements the extent of which is proved by the writings he has left, he hardly ever completed any intellectual task of magnitude. He had so high a standard of what ought to be done, so exaggerated a sense of deficiencies in his own performances, and was so unable to content himself with the amount of elaboration sufficient for the occasion and the purpose, that he not only spoiled much of his work for ordinary use by overlabouring it, but spent so much time and exertion in superfluous study and thought, that when his task ought to have been completed, he had generally worked himself into an illness, without having half finished what he undertook. From this mental infirmity (of which he is not the sole example among the accomplished and able men whom I have known), combined with liability to frequent attacks of disabling though not dangerous ill health, he accomplished, through life, little in comparison with what he seemed capable of; but what he did produce is held in the very highest estimation by the most competent judges; and, like Coleridge, he might plead as a set-off that he had been to many persons, through his conversation, a source not only of much instruction but of great elevation of character. On me his influence was most salutary. It was moral in the best sense. He took a sincere and kind interest in me, far beyond what Edition: current; Page: [79] could have been expected towards a mere youth from a man of his age, standing, and what seemed austerity of character. There was in his conversation and demeanour a tone of highmindedness which did not shew itself so much, if the quality existed as much, in any of the other persons with whom at that time I associated. My intercourse with him was the more beneficial, owing to his being of a different mental type from all other intellectual men whom I frequented, and he from the first set himself decidedly against the prejudices and narrownesses which are almost sure to be found in a young man formed by a particular mode of thought or a particular social circle.

His younger brother, Charles Austin, of whom at this time and for the next year or two I saw much, had also a great effect on me, though of a very different description. He was but a few years older than myself, and had then just left the University, where he had shone with great éclat as a man of intellect and a brilliant orator and converser. The effect he produced on his Cambridge cotemporaries deserves to be accounted an historical event; for to it may in part be traced the tendency towards Liberalism in general, and the Benthamic and politico-economic form of it in particular, which shewed itself in a portion of the more active-minded young men of the higher classes from this time to 1830. The Union Debating Society, at that time at the height of its reputation, was an arena where what were then thought extreme opinions, in politics and philosophy, were weekly asserted, face to face with their opposites, before audiences consisting of the élite of the Cambridge youth: and though many persons afterwards of more or less note (of whom Lord Macaulay is the most celebrated) gained their first oratorical laurels in those debates, the really influential mind among these intellectual gladiators was Charles Austin. He continued, after leaving the University, to be, by his conversation and personal ascendancy, a leader among the same class of young men who had been his associates there; and he attached me among others to his car. Through him I became acquainted with Macaulay, Hyde and Charles Villiers, Strutt (now Lord Belper), Romilly (now Lord Romilly and Master of the Rolls), and various others who subsequently figured in literature or politics, and among whom I heard discussions on many topics, as yet to a certain degree new to me. The influence of Charles Austin over me differed from that of the persons I have hitherto mentioned, in being not the influence of a man over a boy, but that of an elder cotemporary. It was through him that I first felt myself, not a pupil under teachers, but a man among men. He was the first person of intellect whom I met on a ground of equality, though as yet much his inferior on that common ground. He was a man who never failed to impress greatly those with whom he came in contact, even Edition: current; Page: [81] when their opinions were the very reverse of his. The impression he gave was that of boundless strength, together with talents which, combined with such apparent force of will and character, seemed capable of dominating the world. Those who knew him, whether friendly to him or not, always anticipated that he would play a conspicuous part in public life. It is seldom that men produce so great an immediate effect by speech, unless they, in some degree, lay themselves out for it; and he did this in no ordinary degree. He loved to strike, and even to startle. He knew that decision is the greatest element of effect, and he uttered his opinions with all the decision he could throw into them, never so well pleased as when he astonished any one by their audacity. Very unlike his brother, who made war against the narrower interpretations and applications of the principles they both professed, he on the contrary presented the Benthamic doctrines in the most startling form of which they were susceptible, exaggerating every thing in them which tended to consequences offensive to any one’s preconceived feelings. All which, he defended with such verve and vivacity, and carried off by a manner so agreeable as well as forcible, that he always either came off victor, or divided the honours of the field. It is my belief that much of the notion popularly entertained of the tenets and sentiments of what are called Benthamites or Utilitarians, had its origin in paradoxes thrown out by Charles Austin. It must be said, however, that his example was followed, haud passibus æquis,[*] by younger proselytes, and that to outrer whatever was by anybody considered offensive in the doctrines and maxims of Benthamism, became at one time the badge of a small coterie of youths. All of these who had anything in them, myself among others, quickly outgrew this boyish vanity; and those who had not, became tired of differing from other people, and gave up both the good and the bad part of the heterodox opinions they had for some time professed.

It was in the winter of 1822/23 that I formed the plan of a little society, to be composed of young men agreeing in fundamental principles—acknowledging Utility as their standard in ethics and politics, and a certain number of the principal corollaries drawn from it in the philosophy I had accepted—and meeting once a fortnight to read essays and discuss questions conformably to the premises thus agreed on. The fact would hardly be worth mentioning, but for the circumstance, that the name I gave to the society I had planned was the Utilitarian Society. It was the first time that any one had taken the title of Utilitarian; and the term made its way into the language from this humble source. I did not invent the word, but found it in one of Galt’s novels, the Annals of the Parish, in which the Scotch clergyman, of whom the book is a supposed autobiography, is represented as warning his parishioners not to leave the Gospel and become utilitarians.[†] With a Edition: current; Page: [83] boy’s fondness for a name and a banner I seized on the word, and for some years called myself and others by it as a sectarian appellation; and it came to be occasionally used by some others holding the opinions which it was intended to designate. As those opinions attracted more notice, the term was repeated by strangers and opponents, and got into rather common use just about the time when those who had originally assumed it, laid down that along with other sectarian characteristics. The Society so called consisted at first of no more than three members, one of whom, being Mr. Bentham’s amanuensis,[*] obtained for us permission to hold our meetings in his house. The number never, I think, reached ten, and the society was broken up in 1826. It had thus an existence of about three years and a half. The chief effect of it as regards myself, over and above the benefit of practice in oral discussion, was that of bringing me in contact with several young men at that time less advanced than myself, among whom, as they professed the same opinions, I was for some time a sort of leader, and had considerable influence on their mental progress. Any young man of education who fell in my way, and whose opinions were not incompatible with those of the Society, I endeavoured to press into its service; and some others I probably should never have known, had they not joined it. Those of the members who became my intimate companions—no one of whom was in any sense of the word a disciple, but all of them independent thinkers on their own basis—were William Eyton Tooke, son of the eminent political economist, a young man of singular worth both moral and intellectual, lost to the world by an early death; his friend William Ellis, an original thinker in the field of political economy, now honorably known by his apostolic exertions for the improvement of education; George Graham, afterwards an official assignee of the Bankruptcy Court, a thinker of originality and power on almost all abstract subjects; and (from the time when he came first to England to study for the bar in 1824 or 1825) a man who has made considerably more noise in the world than any of these, John Arthur Roebuck.

In May 1823, my professional occupation and status for the next thirty-five years of my life, were decided by my father’s obtaining for me an appointment from the East India Company, in the office of the Examiner of India Correspondence, immediately under himself. I was appointed in the usual manner, at the bottom of the list of clerks, to rise, at least in the first instance, by seniority; but with the understanding, that I should be employed from the beginning in preparing drafts of despatches, and be thus trained up as a successor to those who then filled the higher departments of the office. My drafts of course required, for some time, much revision from my immediate superiors, but I soon became well acquainted with the business, and by my father’s instructions and the general growth of my own powers, I was in a few years qualified to be, and practically was, the chief Edition: current; Page: [85] conductor of the correspondence with India in one of the leading departments, that of the Native States. This continued to be my official duty until I was appointed Examiner, only two years before the time when the abolition of the East India Company as a political body determined my retirement. I do not know any one of the occupations by which a subsistence can now be gained, more suitable than such as this to any one who, not being in independent circumstances, desires to devote a part of the twenty-four hours to private intellectual pursuits. Writing for the press, cannot be recommended as a permanent resource to any one qualified to accomplish anything in the higher departments of literature or thought: not only on account of the uncertainty of this means of livelihood, especially if the writer has a conscience, and will not consent to serve any opinions except his own; but also because the writings by which one can live, are not the writings which themselves live, and are never those in which the writer does his best. Books destined to form future thinkers take too much time to write, and when written come in general too slowly into notice and repute, to be relied on for subsistence. Those who have to support themselves by their pen must depend on literary drudgery, or at best on writings addressed to the multitude; and can employ in the pursuits of their own choice only such time as they can spare from those of necessity; which is generally less than the leisure allowed by office occupations, while the effect on the mind is far more enervating and fatiguing. For my own part, I have, through life, found office duties an actual rest from the other mental occupations which I have carried on simultaneously with them. They were sufficiently intellectual not to be a distasteful drudgery, without being such as to cause any strain upon the mental powers of a person used to abstract thought, or to the labour of careful literary composition. The drawbacks, for every mode of life has its drawbacks, were not, however, unfelt by me. I cared little for the loss of the chances of riches and honours held out by some of the professions, particularly the bar, which had been, as I have already said, the profession thought of for me. But I was not indifferent to exclusion from Parliament, and public life: and I felt very sensibly the more immediate unpleasantness of confinement to London; the holiday allowed by India-house practice not exceeding a month in the year, while my taste was strong for a country life, and my sojourn in France had left behind it an ardent desire of travelling. But though these tastes could not be freely indulged, they were at no time entirely sacrificed. I passed most Sundays, throughout the year, in the country, taking long rural walks on that day even when residing in London. The month’s holiday was, for a few years, passed at my father’s house in the country: afterwards a part or the whole was spent in tours, chiefly pedestrian, with some one or more of the young men who were my chosen companions; and at a later period, Edition: current; Page: [87] in longer journeys or excursions, alone or with other friends.[*] France, Belgium, and Rhenish Germany were within easy reach of the annual holiday: and two longer absences, one of three, the other of six months, under medical advice, added Switzerland, the Tyrol, and Italy to my list. Fortunately, also, both these journies occurred rather early, so as to give the benefit and charm of the remembrance to a large portion of life.

I am disposed to agree with what has been surmised by others, that the opportunity which my official position gave me of learning by personal observation the necessary conditions of the practical conduct of public affairs, has been of considerable value to me as a theoretical reformer of the opinions and institutions of my time. Not, indeed, that public business transacted on paper, to take effect on the other side of the globe, was of itself calculated to give much practical knowledge of life. But the occupation accustomed me to see and hear the difficulties of every course, and the means of obviating them, stated and discussed deliberately, with a view to execution; it gave me opportunities of perceiving when public measures, and other political facts, did not produce the effects which had been expected of them, and from what causes; above all it was valuable to me by making me, in this portion of my activity, merely one wheel in a machine, the whole of which had to work together. As a speculative writer, I should have had no one to consult but myself, and should have encountered in my speculations none of the obstacles which would have started up whenever they came to be applied to practice. But as a Secretary conducting political correspondence, I could not issue an order or express an opinion, without satisfying various persons very unlike myself, that the thing was fit to be done. I was thus in a good position for finding out by practice the mode of putting a thought which gives it easiest admittance into minds not prepared for it by habit; while I became practically conversant with the difficulties of moving bodies of men, the necessities of compromise, the art of sacrificing the non-essential to preserve the essential. I learnt how to obtain the best I could, when I could not obtain everything; instead of being indignant or dispirited because I could not have entirely my own way, to be pleased and encouraged when I could have the smallest part of it; and when even that could not be, to bear with complete equanimity the being overruled altogether. I have found, through life, these acquisitions to be of the greatest possible importance for personal happiness, and they are also a very necessary condition for enabling any one, either as theorist or as practical man, to effect the greatest amount of good compatible with his opportunities.

Edition: current; Page: [89]

CHAPTER IV: Youthful Propagandism. The Westminster Review

the occupation of so much of my time by office work did not relax my attention to my own pursuits, which were never carried on more vigorously. It was about this time that I began to write in newspapers. The first writings of mine which got into print were two letters published towards the end of 1822, in the Traveller evening newspaper. The Traveller (which afterwards grew into the Globe and Traveller by the purchase and incorporation of the Globe) was then the property of the well known political economist Colonel Torrens. Under the editorship of an able man, Mr. Walter Coulson (who after being an amanuensis of Mr. Bentham, became a reporter, then an editor, next a barrister and conveyancer, and died Counsel to the Home Office), it had become one of the most important newspaper organs of liberal politics. Col. Torrens himself wrote much of the political economy of his paper; and had at this time made an attack upon some opinion of Ricardo and my father, to which at my father’s instigation I attempted an answer, and Coulson out of consideration for my father and good will to me, inserted it. There was a reply by Torrens, to which I again rejoined.[*] I soon after attempted something considerably more ambitious. The prosecutions of Richard Carlile and his wife and sister for publications hostile to Christianity, were then exciting much attention, and nowhere more than among the people I frequented. Freedom of discussion even in politics, much more in religion, was at that time far from being, even in theory, the conceded point which it at least seems to be now; and the holders of obnoxious opinions had to be always ready to argue and reargue for the liberty of expressing them. I wrote a series of five letters, under the signature of Wickliffe, going over the whole length and breadth of the question of free publication of all opinions on religion, and offered them to the Morning Chronicle. Three of them were published in January and February 1823; the other two, Edition: current; Page: [91] containing things too outspoken for that journal, never appeared at all.[*] But a paper which I wrote soon after on the same subject, à propos of a debate in the House of Commons, was inserted as a leading article;[†] and during the whole of this year, 1823, a considerable number of my contributions were printed in the Chronicle and Traveller: sometimes notices of books, but oftener letters, commenting on some nonsense talked in Parliament, or some defect of the law, or misdoings of the magistracy or the courts of justice.[‡] In this last department the Chronicle was now rendering signal service. After the death of Mr. Perry, the editorship and management of the paper had devolved on Mr. John Black, long a reporter on its establishment; a man of most extensive reading and information, great honesty and simplicity of mind; a particular friend of my father, imbued with many of his and Bentham’s ideas, which he reproduced in his articles, among other valuable thoughts, with great facility and skill. From this time the Chronicle ceased to be the merely Whig organ it was before, and during the next ten years became to a considerable extent a vehicle of the opinions of the Utilitarian radicals. This was mainly by what Black himself wrote, with some assistance from Fonblanque, who first shewed his eminent qualities as a writer by articles and jeux d’esprit in the Chronicle. The defects of the law, and of the administration of justice, were the subject on which that paper rendered most service to improvement. Up to that time hardly a word had been said, except by Bentham and my father, against that most peccant part of English institutions and of their administration. It was the almost universal creed of Englishmen, that the law of England, the judicature of England, the unpaid magistracy of England, were models of excellence. I do not go beyond the mark in saying, that after Bentham, who supplied the principal materials, the greatest share of the merit of breaking down this wretched superstition belongs to Black, as editor of the Morning Chronicle. He kept up an incessant fire against it, exposing the absurdities and vices of the law and the courts of justice, paid and unpaid, until he forced some sense of them into people’s minds. On many other questions he became the organ of opinions much in advance of any which had ever before found regular advocacy in the newspaper press. Black was a frequent visitor of my father, and Mr. Grote used to say that he always knew by the Monday morning’s article, whether Black had been with my father on the Sunday. Black was one of the most influential of the many channels through which my father’s conversation and personal influence made his opinions tell on the world; cooperating with the effect of his writings in making him a power in the country, such as it has rarely been the lot of an individual in a private station to be, through the mere force of intellect and character: and a power which was often acting the Edition: current; Page: [93] most efficiently where it was least seen and suspected. I have already noticed how much of what was done by Ricardo, Hume, and Grote, was the result, in part, of his prompting and persuasion. He was the good genius by the side of Brougham in most of what he did for the public, either on education, law reform, or any other subject. And his influence flowed in minor streams too numerous to be specified. This influence was now about to receive a great extension, by the foundation of the Westminster Review.

Contrary to what may have been supposed, my father was in no degree a party to setting up the Westminster Review. The need of a Radical organ to make head against the Edinburgh and Quarterly (then in the period of their greatest reputation and influence) had been a topic of conversation between him and Mr. Bentham many years earlier, and it had been a part of their cháteau en Espagne that my father should be the editor, but the idea had never assumed any practical shape. In 1823, however, Mr. Bentham determined to establish the review at his own cost, and offered the editorship to my father, who declined it as incompatible with his India House appointment. It was then entrusted to Mr. (now Sir John) Bowring, at that time a merchant in the City. Mr. Bowring had been for two or three years previous an assiduous frequenter of Mr. Bentham, to whom he was recommended by many personal good qualities, by an ardent admiration for Bentham, a zealous adoption of many though not all of his opinions, and, not least, by an extensive acquaintanceship and correspondence with Liberals of all countries, which seemed to qualify him for being a powerful agent in spreading Bentham’s fame and doctrines through all quarters of the world. My father had seen little of Bowring, but knew enough of him to have formed a strong opinion, that he was a man of an entirely different type from what my father considered suitable for conducting a political and philosophical review: and he augured so ill of the enterprise that he regretted it altogether, feeling persuaded not only that Mr. Bentham would lose his money, but that discredit would probably be brought upon radical principles. He could not however desert Mr. Bentham, and he consented to write an article for the first number.[*] As it had been a favorite portion of the scheme formerly talked of, that part of the work should be devoted to reviewing the other Reviews, this article of my father’s was to be a general criticism of the Edinburgh Review from its commencement. Before writing it he made me read through all the volumes of the Edition: current; Page: [95] Review, or as much of each as seemed of any importance (which was not so arduous a task in 1823 as it would be now), and make notes for him of the articles which I thought he would wish to examine, either on account of their good or their bad qualities. This paper of my father’s was the chief cause of the sensation which the Westminster Review produced at its first appearance, and is, both in conception and in execution, one of the most striking of all his writings. He began by an analysis of the tendencies of periodical literature in general; pointing out, that it cannot, like books, wait for success, but must succeed immediately, or not at all, and is hence almost certain to profess and inculcate the opinions already held by the public to which it addresses itself, instead of attempting to rectify or improve those opinions. He next, to characterize the position of the Edinburgh Review as a political organ, entered into a complete analysis, from the Radical point of view, of the British Constitution. He held up to notice its thoroughly aristocratic character: the nomination of a majority of the House of Commons by a few hundred families; the entire identification of the more independent portion, the county members, with the great landholders; the different classes whom this narrow oligarchy was induced, for convenience, to admit to a share of power; and finally, what he called its two props, the Church, and the legal profession. He pointed out the natural tendency of an aristocratic body of this composition, to group itself into two parties, one of them in possession of the executive, the other endeavouring to supplant the former and become the predominant section by the aid of public opinion, without any essential sacrifice of the aristocratical predominance. He described the course likely to be pursued, and the political ground occupied, by an aristocratic party in opposition, coquetting with popular principles for the sake of popular support. He shewed how this idea was realized in the conduct of the Whig party, and of the Edinburgh Review as its chief literary organ. He described, as their main characteristic, what he termed “seesaw”;[*] writing alternately on both sides of every question which touched the power or interest of the governing classes; sometimes in different articles, sometimes in different parts of the same article: and illustrated his position by copious specimens. So formidable an attack on the Whig party and policy had never before been made; nor had so great a blow been ever struck, in this country, for radicalism: nor was there, I believe, any living person capable of writing that article, except my father.*

In the meantime the nascent review had formed a junction with another project, of a purely literary periodical, to be edited by Mr. Henry Southern, afterwards a diplomatist, then a literary man by profession. The two editors agreed to unite their Edition: current; Page: [97] corps, and divide the editorship, Bowring taking the political, Southern the literary department. Southern’s review was to have been published by Longman, and that firm, though part proprietors of the Edinburgh, were willing to be the publishers of the new journal. But when all the arrangements had been made, and the prospectuses sent out, the Longmans saw my father’s attack on the Edinburgh, and drew back. My father was now appealed to for his interest with his own publisher, Baldwin, which was exerted with a successful result. And so, in April 1824, amidst anything but hope on my father’s part, and that of most of those who afterwards aided in carrying on the review, the first number made its appearance.[*]

That number was an agreeable surprise to most of us. The average of the articles was of much better quality than had been expected. The literary and artistic department had rested chiefly on Mr. Bingham, a barrister (subsequently a Police Magistrate) who had been for some years a frequenter of Bentham, was a friend of both the Austins, and had adopted with great ardour Mr. Bentham’s philosophical opinions. Partly from accident, there were in the first number as many as five articles by Bingham;[†] and we were extremely pleased with them. I well remember the mixed feeling I myself had about the Review; the joy at finding, what we did not at all expect, that it was sufficiently good to be capable of being made a creditable organ of those who held the opinions it professed; and extreme vexation, since it was so good on the whole, at what we thought the blemishes of it. When, however, in addition to our generally favourable opinion of it, we learned that it had an extraordinarily large sale for a first number, and found that the appearance of a Radical review, with pretensions equal to those of the established organs of parties, had excited much attention, there could be no room for hesitation, and we all became eager in doing everything we could to strengthen and improve it.

My father continued to write occasional articles. The Quarterly Review received its exposure, as a sequel to that of the Edinburgh. Of his other contributions, the Edition: current; Page: [99] most important were an attack on Southey’s Book of the Church, in the fifth number, and a political article in the twelfth.[*] Mr. Austin only contributed one paper, but one of great merit, an argument against primogeniture, in reply to an article then lately published in the Edinburgh Review by McCulloch.[†] Grote also was a contributor only once; all the time he could spare being already taken up with his History of Greece.[‡] The article he wrote was on his own subject, and was a very complete exposure and castigation of Mitford. Bingham and Charles Austin continued to write for some time; Fonblanque was a frequent contributor from the third number. Of my particular associates, Ellis was a regular writer up to the ninth number; and about the time when he left off, others of the set began; Eyton Tooke, Graham, and Roebuck. I was myself the most frequent writer of all, having contributed, from the second number to the eighteenth, thirteen articles; reviews of books on history and political economy, or discussions on special political topics, as corn laws, game laws, law of libel.[§] Occasional articles of merit came in from Edition: current; Page: [101] other acquaintances of my father’s, and in time, of mine; and some of Mr. Bowring’s writers turned out well. On the whole, however, the conduct of the Review was never satisfactory to any of the persons strongly interested in its principles, with whom I came in contact. Hardly ever did a number come out without containing several things extremely offensive to us, either in point of opinion, of taste, or by mere want of ability. The unfavorable judgments passed by my father, Grote, the two Austins, and others, were reechoed with exaggeration by us younger people; and as our youthful zeal rendered us by no means backward in making complaints, we led the two editors a sad life. From my knowledge of what I then was, I have no doubt that we were at least as often wrong as right; and I am very certain that if the Review had been carried on according to our notions (I mean those of the juniors) it would have been no better, perhaps not even so good as it was. But it is worth noting as a fact in the history of Benthamism, that the periodical organ, by which it was best known, was from the first extremely unsatisfactory to those, whose opinions on all subjects it was supposed specially to represent.

Meanwhile, however, the Review made considerable noise in the world, and gave a recognized status, in the arena of opinion and discussion, to the Benthamic type of radicalism, out of all proportion to the number of its adherents, and to the personal merits and abilities, at that time, of most of those who could be reckoned among them. It was a time, as is known, of rapidly rising Liberalism. When the fears and animosities accompanying the war with France had been brought to an end, and people had once more a place in their thoughts for home politics, the tide began to set towards reform. The renewed oppression of the Continent by the old reigning families, the countenance apparently given by the English Government to the conspiracy against liberty called the Holy Alliance, and the enormous weight of the national debt and taxation occasioned by so long and costly a war, rendered the government and parliament very unpopular. Radicalism, under the leadership of the Burdetts and Cobbetts, had assumed a character and importance which seriously alarmed the Administration: and their alarm had scarcely been temporarily assuaged by the celebrated Six Acts,[*] when the trial of Queen Caroline roused a still wider and deeper feeling of hatred. Though the outward signs of this hatred passed away with its exciting cause, there arose on all sides a spirit which had never shewn itself before, of opposition to abuses in detail. Mr. Hume’s persevering scrutiny of the public expenditure, forcing the House of Commons to a division on every objectionable item in the estimates, had begun to tell with great force on public opinion, and had extorted many minor retrenchments from an unwilling Administration. Political economy had asserted itself with great vigour in public affairs, by the Petition of the Merchants of London for Free Trade, drawn up in Edition: current; Page: [103] 1820 by Mr. Tooke and presented by Mr. Alexander Baring;[*] and by the noble exertions of Ricardo during the few years of his parliamentary life. His writings, following up the impulse given by the Bullion controversy, and followed up in their turn by the expositions and comments of my father and McCulloch (whose writings in the Edinburgh Review during those years were most valuable), had drawn general attention to the subject, making at least partial converts in the Cabinet itself; and Huskisson, supported by Canning, had commenced that gradual demolition of the protective system, which one of their colleagues virtually completed in 1846, though the last vestiges were only swept away by Mr. Gladstone in 1860. Mr. Peel, then Home Secretary, was entering cautiously into the untrodden and peculiarly Benthamic path of Law Reform. At this period, when Liberalism seemed to be becoming the tone of the time, when improvement of institutions was preached from the highest places, and a complete change of the constitution of Parliament was loudly demanded in the lowest, it is not strange that attention should have been roused by the regular appearance in controversy of what seemed a new school of writers, claiming to be the legislators and theorists of this new tendency. The air of strong conviction with which they wrote, when scarcely any one else seemed to have an equally strong faith in as definite a creed; the boldness with which they tilted against the very front of both the existing political parties; their uncompromising profession of opposition to many of the generally received opinions, and the suspicion they lay under of holding others still more heterodox than they professed; the talent and verve of at least my father’s articles, and the appearance of a corps behind him sufficient to carry on a review; and finally, the fact that the review was bought and read, made the so called Bentham school in philosophy and politics fill a greater place in the public mind than it had held before, or has ever again held since other equally earnest schools of thought have arisen in England. As I was in the head quarters of it, knew of what it was composed, and as one of the most active of its very small number, might say without undue assumption, quorum pars magna fui,[†] it belongs to me more than to most others to give some account of it.

This supposed school, then, had no other existence than what was constituted by the fact, that my father’s writings and conversation drew round him a certain number of young men who had already imbibed, or who imbibed from him, a greater or smaller portion of his very decided political and philosophical opinions. The notion that Bentham was surrounded by a band of disciples who received their opinions from his lips, is a fable to which my father did justice in his Fragment on Mackintosh,[‡] and which, to all who knew Mr. Bentham’s habits of life and Edition: current; Page: [105] manner of conversation, is simply ridiculous. The influence which Bentham exercised was by his writings. Through them he has produced, and is producing, effects on the condition of mankind, wider and deeper, no doubt, than any which can be attributed to my father. He is a much greater name in history. But my father exercised a far greater personal ascendancy. He was sought for the vigour and instructiveness of his conversation, and did use it largely as an instrument for the diffusion of his opinions. I have never known any man who could do such ample justice to his best thoughts in colloquial discussion. His perfect command over his great mental resources, the terseness and expressiveness of his language, and the moral earnestness as well as intellectual force of his delivery, made him one of the most striking of all argumentative conversers: and he was full of anecdote, a hearty laugher, and when with people whom he liked, a most lively and amusing companion. It was not solely, or even chiefly, in diffusing his merely intellectual convictions, that his power shewed itself: it was still more through the influence of a quality, of which I have only since learnt to appreciate the extreme rarity: that exalted public spirit and regard above all things to the good of the whole, which warmed into life and activity every germ of similar virtue that existed in the minds he came in contact with: the desire he made them feel for his approbation, the shame at his disapproval; the moral support which his conversation and his very existence gave to those who were aiming at the same objects, and the encouragement he afforded to the faint-hearted or desponding among them, by the firm confidence which (though the reverse of sanguine as to the results to be expected in any one particular case) he always felt in the power of reason, the general progress of improvement, and the good which individuals could do by judicious effort.

It was my father’s opinions which gave the distinguishing character to the Benthamic or utilitarian propagandism of that time. They fell singly scattered from him in many directions, but they flowed from him in a continued stream principally in three channels. One was through me, the only mind directly formed by his instructions, and through whom considerable influence was exercised over various young men who became, in their turn, propagandists. A second was through some of the Cambridge cotemporaries of Charles Austin, who, either initiated by him or under the general mental impulse which he gave, had adopted many opinions allied to those of my father, and some of the more considerable of whom afterwards sought my father’s acquaintance and frequented his house. Among these may be mentioned Strutt, afterwards Lord Belper, and the present Lord Romilly, with whose eminent father, Sir Samuel, my father had of old been on terms of friendship. The third channel was that of a younger generation of Cambridge undergraduates, cotemporary not with Austin but with Eyton Tooke, who were drawn to that estimable person by affinity of opinions, and introduced by him to my father: the most notable of these was Charles Buller. Various other persons individually received and transmitted a considerable amount of my father’s Edition: current; Page: [107] influence: for example, Black (as before mentioned) and Fonblanque: most of these however we accounted only partial allies; Fonblanque, for instance, was always divergent from us on many important points. But indeed there was by no means complete unanimity among any portion of us, nor had any of us adopted implicitly all my father’s opinions. For example, although his Essay on Government[*] was regarded probably by all of us as a masterpiece of political wisdom, our adhesion by no means extended to the paragraph of it, in which he maintains that women may consistently with good government, be excluded from the suffrage, because their interest is the same with that of men. From this doctrine, I, and all those who formed my chosen associates, most positively dissented. It is due to my father to say that he denied having intended to affirm that women should be excluded, any more than men under the age of forty, concerning whom he maintained, in the very next paragraph, an exactly similar thesis. He was, as he truly said, not discussing whether the suffrage had better be restricted, but only (assuming that it is to be restricted) what is the utmost limit of restriction, which does not necessarily involve a sacrifice of the securities for good government.[†] But I thought then, as I have always thought since, that the opinion which he acknowledged, no less than that which he disclaimed, is as great an error as any of those against which the Essay was directed; that the interest of women is included in that of men exactly as much and no more, as the interest of subjects is included in that of kings; and that every reason which exists for giving the suffrage to anybody, demands that it should not be withheld from women. This was also the general opinion of the younger proselytes; and it is pleasant to be able to say that Mr. Bentham, on this important point, was wholly on our side.

But though none of us, probably, agreed in every respect with my father, his opinions, as I said before, were the principal element which gave its colour and character to the little group of young men who were the first propagators of what was afterwards called “philosophic radicalism.” Their mode of thinking was not characterized by Benthamism in any sense which has relation to Bentham as a chief or guide, but rather by a combination of Bentham’s point of view with that of the modern political economy, and with the Hartleian metaphysics. Malthus’s population principle[‡] was quite as much a banner, and point of union among us, as any opinion specially belonging to Bentham. This great doctrine, originally brought forward as an argument against the indefinite improvability of human affairs, we took up with ardent zeal in the contrary sense, as indicating the sole means of realizing that improvability by securing full employment at high wages to the whole labouring population through a voluntary restriction of the increase of their Edition: current; Page: [109] numbers. The other leading characteristics of the creed, which we held in common with my father, may be stated as follows:

In politics, an almost unbounded confidence in the efficacy of two things: representative government, and complete freedom of discussion. So complete was my father’s reliance on the influence of reason over the minds of mankind, whenever it is allowed to reach them, that he felt as if all would be gained if the whole population were taught to read, if all sorts of opinions were allowed to be addressed to them by word and in writing, and if by means of the suffrage they could nominate a legislature to give effect to the opinions they adopted. He thought that when the legislature no longer represented a class interest, it would aim at the general interest, honestly and with adequate wisdom; since the people would be sufficiently under the guidance of educated intelligence, to make in general a good choice of persons to represent them, and having done so, to leave to those whom they had chosen a liberal discretion. Accordingly aristocratic rule, the government of the Few in any of its shapes, being in his eyes the only thing which stood between mankind and an administration of their affairs by the best wisdom to be found among them, was the object of his sternest disapprobation, and a democratic suffrage the principal article of his political creed, not on the ground of liberty, Rights of Man, or any of the phrases, more or less significant, by which, up to that time, democracy had usually been defended, but as the most essential of “securities for good government.” In this, too, he held fast only to what he deemed essentials; he was comparatively indifferent to monarchical or republican forms—far more so than Bentham, to whom a king, in the character of “corrupter-general,”[*] appeared necessarily very noxious. Next to aristocracy, an established church, or corporation of priests, as being by position the great depravers of religion, and interested in opposing the progress of the human mind, was the object of his greatest detestation; though he disliked no clergyman personally who did not deserve it, and was on terms of sincere friendship with several. In ethics, his moral feelings were energetic and rigid on all points which he deemed important to human well being, while he was supremely indifferent in opinion (though his indifference did not shew itself in personal conduct) to all those doctrines of the common morality, which he thought had no foundation but in asceticism and priestcraft. He looked forward, for example, to a considerable increase of freedom in the relations between the sexes, though without pretending to define exactly what would be, or ought to be, the precise conditions of that freedom. This opinion was connected in him with no sensuality either of a theoretical or of a practical kind. He anticipated, on the contrary, as one of the beneficial effects of increased freedom, that the imagination would no longer dwell upon the physical relation and its adjuncts, and swell this into one of the principal objects of life; a perversion of the imagination and feelings, which he regarded as one of the deepest seated and most pervading evils in the human mind. In psychology, his fundamental doctrine Edition: current; Page: [111] was the formation of all human character by circumstances, through the universal Principle of Association, and the consequent unlimited possibility of improving the moral and intellectual condition of mankind by education. Of all his doctrines none was more important than this, or needs more to be insisted on: unfortunately there is none which is more contradictory to the prevailing tendencies of speculation, both in his time and since.

These various opinions were seized on with youthful fanaticism by the little knot of young men of whom I was one: and we put into them a sectarian spirit, from which, in intention at least, my father was wholly free. What we (or rather a phantom substituted in the place of us) were sometimes, by a ridiculous exaggeration, called by others, namely a “school,” some of us for a time really hoped and aspired to be. The French philosophes of the eighteenth century were the example we sought to imitate, and we hoped to accomplish no less results. No one of the set went to so great excesses in this boyish ambition as I did; which might be shewn by many particulars, were it not an useless waste of space and time.

All this, however, is properly only the outside of our existence; or at least, the intellectual part alone, and no more than one side of that. In attempting to penetrate inward, and give any indication of what we were as human beings, I must be understood as speaking only of myself, of whom alone I can speak from sufficient knowledge; and I do not believe that the picture would suit any of my companions without many and great modifications.

I conceive that the description so often given of a Benthamite, as a mere reasoning machine, though extremely inapplicable to most of those who have been designated by that title, was during two or three years of my life not altogether untrue of me. It was perhaps as applicable to me as it can well be to any one just entering into life, to whom the common objects of desire must in general have at least the attraction of novelty. There is nothing very extraordinary in this fact: no youth of the age I then was, can be expected to be more than one thing, and this was Edition: current; Page: [113] the thing I happened to be. Ambition and desire of distinction, I had in abundance; and zeal for what I thought the good of mankind was my strongest sentiment, mixing with and colouring all others. But my zeal was as yet little else, at that period of my life, than zeal for speculative opinions. It had not its root in genuine benevolence, or sympathy with mankind; though these qualities held their due place in my ethical standard. Nor was it connected with any high enthusiasm for ideal nobleness. Yet of this feeling I was imaginatively very susceptible; but there was at that time an intermission of its natural aliment, poetical culture, while there was a superabundance of the discipline antagonistic to it, that of mere logic and analysis. Add to this that, as already mentioned, my father’s teachings tended to the undervaluing of feeling. It was not that he was himself cold-hearted or insensible; I believe it was rather from the contrary quality; he thought that feeling could take care of itself; that there was sure to be enough of it if actions were properly cared about. Offended by the frequency with which, in ethical and philosophical controversy, feeling is made the ultimate reason and justification of conduct, instead of being itself called on for a justification, while, in practice, actions, the effect of which on human happiness is mischievous, are defended as being required by feeling, and the character of a person of feeling obtains a credit for desert, which he thought only due to actions, he had a real impatience of attributing praise to feeling, or of any but the most sparing reference to it either in the estimation of persons or in the discussion of things. In addition to the influence which this characteristic in him had on me and others, we found all the opinions to which we attached most importance, constantly attacked on the ground of feeling. Utility was denounced as cold calculation; political economy as hard-hearted; anti-population doctrines as repulsive to the natural feelings of mankind. We retorted by the word “sentimentality,” which, along with “declamation” and “vague generalities,” served us as common terms of opprobrium. Although we were generally in the right, as against those who were opposed to us, the effect was that the cultivation of feeling (except the feelings of public and private duty) was not in much esteem among us, and had very little place in the thoughts of most of us, myself in particular. What we principally thought of, was to alter people’s opinions; to make them believe according to evidence, and know what was their real interest, which when they once knew, they would, we thought, by the instrument of opinion, enforce a regard to it upon one another. While fully recognizing the superior excellence of unselfish benevolence and love of justice, we did not expect the regeneration of mankind from any direct action on those sentiments, but from the effect of educated intellect, enlightening the selfish feelings. Although this last is prodigiously important as a means of improvement in the hands of those who are themselves impelled by nobler principles of action, I Edition: current; Page: [115] do not believe that any one of the survivors of the Benthamites or Utilitarians of that day, now relies mainly upon it for the general amendment of human conduct.

From this neglect both in theory and in practice of the cultivation of feeling, naturally resulted among other things an undervaluing of poetry, and of Imagination generally as an element of human nature. It is, or was, part of the popular notion of Benthamites, that they are enemies of poetry: this was partly true of Bentham himself; he used to say that “all poetry is misrepresentation”:[*] but, in the sense in which he said it, the same might have been said of all impressive speech; of all representation or inculcation more oratorical in its character than a sum in arithmetic. An article of Bingham’s in the first number of the Westminster Review, in which he offered as an explanation of something which he disliked in Moore, that “Mr. Moore is a poet, and therefore is not a reasoner,”[†] did a good deal to attach the notion of hating poetry to the writers in the Review. But the truth was that many of us were great readers of poetry; Bingham himself had been a writer of it, while as regards me (and the same thing might be said of my father) the correct statement would be not that I disliked poetry, but that I was theoretically indifferent to it. I disliked any sentiments in poetry which I should have disliked in prose; and that included a great deal. And I was wholly blind to its place in human culture, as a means of educating the feelings. But I was always personally very susceptible to some kinds of it. In the most sectarian period of my Benthamism I happened to look into Pope’s Essay on Man,[‡] and though every opinion in it was contrary to mine, I well remember how powerfully it acted on my imagination. Perhaps at that time poetical composition of any higher type than eloquent discussion in verse, might not have produced a similar effect on me: at all events I seldom gave it an opportunity. This, however, was a mere passing state. Long before I had enlarged in any considerable degree, the basis of my intellectual creed, I had obtained in the natural course of my mental progress, poetic culture of the most valuable kind, by means of reverential admiration for the lives and characters of heroic persons; especially the heroes of philosophy. The same inspiring effect which so many of the benefactors of mankind have left on record that they had experienced from Plutarch’s Lives, was produced on me by Plato’s pictures of Socrates, and by some modern biographies, above all by Condorcet’s Life of Turgot; a book well calculated to rouse the best sort of enthusiasm, since it contains one of the wisest and noblest of lives, delineated by one of the wisest and noblest of men. The heroic virtue of these glorious representatives of the opinions with which I sympathized, deeply affected me, and I perpetually recurred to them as others do to a favorite poet, when needing to be carried up into the more elevated regions of feeling and thought. I may observe by the way that this book cured me of Edition: current; Page: [117] my sectarian follies. The two or three pages beginning “Il regardait toute secte comme nuisible,”[*] and explaining why Turgot always kept himself perfectly distinct from the Encyclopedists, sank deeply into my mind. I left off designating myself and others as Utilitarians, and by the pronoun “we,” or any other collective designation, I ceased to afficher sectarianism. My real inward sectarianism I did not get rid of till later, and much more gradually.

About the end of 1824, or beginning of 1825, Mr. Bentham, having lately got back his papers on Evidence from M. Dumont (whose Traité des Preuves Judiciaires, grounded on them, was then first completed and published), resolved to have them printed in the original, and bethought himself of me as capable of preparing them for the press; in the same manner as his Book of Fallacies had been recently edited by Bingham.[†] I gladly undertook this task, and it occupied nearly all my leisure for about a year, exclusive of the time afterwards spent in seeing the five large volumes through the press.[‡] Mr. Bentham had begun this treatise three times, at considerable intervals, each time in a different manner, and each time without reference to the preceding: two of the three times he had gone over nearly the whole subject. These three masses of manuscript it was my business to condense into a single treatise; adopting the one last written as the groundwork, and incorporating with it as much of the two others as it had not completely superseded. I had also to unroll such of Bentham’s involved and parenthetical sentences, as seemed to overpass by their complexity the measure of what readers were likely to take the pains to understand. It was further Mr. Bentham’s particular desire that I should, from myself, endeavour to supply any lacunæ which he had left; and at his instance I read, for this purpose, the most authoritative treatises on the English Law of Evidence, and commented on a few of the objectionable points of the English rules, which had escaped Bentham’s notice. I also replied to the objections which had been made to some of his doctrines, by reviewers of Dumont’s book,[§] and added a few supplementary remarks on some of the more abstract parts of the subject, such as the theory of improbability and impossibility.[¶] The controversial part of these editorial additions was written in a more assuming tone, than became one so young and inexperienced as I was: but indeed I had never contemplated coming forward in my own person; and, as an anonymous editor of Bentham, I fell into the tone of my author, not thinking it Edition: current; Page: [119] unsuitable to him or to the subject, however it might be so to me. My name as editor was put to the book after it was printed, at Mr. Bentham’s positive desire, which I in vain attempted to persuade him to forego.[*]

The time occupied in this editorial work was extremely well employed in respect to my own improvement. The Rationale of Judicial Evidence is one of the richest in matter of all Bentham’s productions. The theory of evidence being in itself one of the most important of his subjects, and ramifying into most of the others, the book contains, very fully developed, a great proportion of all his best thoughts: while, among more special things, it comprises the most elaborate exposure of the vices and defects of English law, as it then was, which is to be found in his works; not confined to the law of evidence, but including, by way of illustrative episode, the entire procedure or practice of Westminster Hall. The direct knowledge, therefore, which I obtained from the book, and which was imprinted upon me much more thoroughly than it could have been by mere reading, was itself no small acquisition. But this occupation did for me what might seem less to be expected; it gave a great start to my powers of composition. Everything which I wrote subsequently to this editorial employment, was markedly superior to anything that I had written before it. Bentham’s later style, as the world knows, was heavy and cumbersome, from the excess of a good quality, the love of precision, which made him introduce clause within clause into the heart of every sentence, that the reader might receive into his mind all the modifications and qualifications simultaneously with the main proposition: and the habit grew on him until his sentences became, to those not accustomed to them, most laborious reading. But his earlier style, that of the Fragment on Government, Plan of a Judicial Establishment.[†] &c., is a model of liveliness and ease combined with fulness of matter, scarcely ever surpassed, and of this earlier style there were many striking specimens in the manuscripts on Evidence, all of which I endeavoured to preserve. So long a course of this admirable writing had a considerable effect upon my own; and I added to it by the assiduous reading of other writers, both French and English, who combined, in a remarkable degree, ease with force, such as Goldsmith, Fielding, Pascal, Voltaire, and Courier. Through these influences my writing lost the jejuneness of my early compositions; the bones and cartilages began to clothe themselves with flesh, and the style became, at times, lively and almost light.

This improvement was first exhibited in a new field. Mr. Marshall, of Leeds, father of the present generation of Marshalls, the same who was brought into Parliament for Yorkshire when the representation forfeited by Grampound was transferred to it[‡]—an earnest parliamentary reformer, and a man of large fortune, Edition: current; Page: [121] of which he made a liberal use, had been much struck with Bentham’s Book of Fallacies:[*] and the thought had occurred to him that it would be useful to publish annually the Parliamentary Debates, not in the chronological order of Hansard, but classified according to subjects, and accompanied by a commentary pointing out the fallacies of the speakers. With this intention, he very naturally addressed himself to the editor of The Book of Fallacies; and Bingham, with the assistance of Charles Austin, undertook the editorship. The work was called Parliamentary History and Review. Its sale was not sufficient to keep it in existence, and it only lasted three years.[†] It excited, however, some attention among parliamentary and political people. The best strength of the party was put forth in it; and its execution did them much more credit, than that of the Westminster Review had ever done. Bingham and Charles Austin wrote much in it;[‡] as did Strutt, Romilly, and several other liberal lawyers. My father wrote one article in his best style, the elder Austin another.[§] Coulson wrote one of great merit.[¶] It fell to my lot to lead off the first number by an article on the principal topic of the session (that of 1825), the Catholic Association and the Catholic disabilities. In the second number I wrote an elaborate Essay on the commercial crisis of 1825 and the Currency Debates. In the third I had two articles, one on a minor subject, the other on the Reciprocity principle in commerce, à propos of a celebrated diplomatic correspondence between Canning and Gallatin.[∥] These writings were no longer mere reproductions Edition: current; Page: [123] and applications of the doctrines I had been taught; they were original thinking, as far as that name can be applied to old ideas in new forms and connexions: and I do not exceed the truth in saying that there was a maturity, and a well-digested character about them, which there had not been in any of my previous performances. In execution, therefore, they were not at all juvenile; but their subjects have either gone by, or have been so much better treated since, that they are entirely superseded, and should remain buried in the same oblivion with my contributions to the first dynasty of the Westminster Review.

While thus engaged in writing for the public, I did not neglect other modes of self-cultivation. It was at this time that I learnt German; beginning it in the Hamiltonian method,[*] for which purpose I and several of my companions formed a class. For several years from this period, our social studies assumed a shape which contributed very much to my mental progress. The idea occurred to us of carrying on, by reading and conversation, a joint study of several of the branches of science which we wished to be masters of. We assembled to the number of a dozen or more. Mr. Grote lent a room of his house in Threadneedle Street for the purpose, and his partner Prescott, one of the three original members of the Utilitarian Society, made one among us. We met two mornings in every week, from half past eight till ten, at which hour most of us were called off to our daily occupations. Our first subject was Political Economy. We chose some systematic treatise as our text-book; my father’s Elements being our first choice. One of us read aloud a chapter, or some smaller portion, of the book. The discussion was then opened, and any one who had an objection or other remark to make, made it. Our rule was to discuss thoroughly every point raised, whether great or small, prolonging the discussion until all who took part were satisfied with the conclusion they had individually arrived at; and to follow up every topic of collateral speculation which the chapter or the conversation suggested, never leaving it until we had untied every knot which we found. We repeatedly kept up the discussion of some one point for several weeks, thinking intently on it during the intervals of our meetings, and contriving solutions of the new difficulties which had risen up in the last morning’s discussion. When we had finished in this way my father’s Elements, we went in the same manner through Ricardo’s Principles of Political Economy, and Bailey’s Dissertation on Value.[†] These close and vigorous discussions were not only improving in a high degree to those who took part in them, but brought out new views of some topics of abstract Political Economy. The theory of International Values which I afterwards published, emanated from these conversations, as did also the modified form of Ricardo’s theory of Profits, laid down in my Essay on Profits and Interest. Those among us with whom new speculations chiefly originated, Edition: current; Page: [125] were Ellis, Graham, and I; though others gave valuable aid to the discussions, especially Prescott and Roebuck, the one by his knowledge, the other by his dialectical acuteness. The theories of International Values and of Profits were excogitated and worked out in about equal proportions by myself and Graham: and if our original project had been executed, my Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy[*] would have been brought out along with some papers of his, under our joint names. But when my exposition came to be written, I found that I had so much overestimated my agreement with him, and he dissented so much from the most original of the two Essays, that on International Values, that I was obliged to consider the theory as now exclusively mine, and it came out as such when published many years later. I may mention that among the alterations which my father made in revising his Elements for the third edition, several were grounded on criticisms elicited by these Conversations; and in particular, he modified his opinions (though not to the extent of our new speculations) on both the points to which I have adverted.

When we had enough of political economy, we took up the syllogistic logic in the same manner, Grote now joining us. Our first text book was Aldrich,[†] but being disgusted with its superficiality, we reprinted one of the most finished among the many manuals of the school logic, which my father, a great collector of such books, possessed, the Manuductio ad Logicam of the Jesuit Du Trieu.[‡] After finishing this, we took up Whately’s Logic, then first republished from the Encyclopædia Metropolitana,[§] and finally the “Computatio sive Logica” of Hobbes. These books, dealt with in our manner, afforded a wide range for original metaphysical speculation: and most of what has been done in the First Book of my System of Logic,[¶] to rationalize and correct the principles and distinctions of the school logicians, and to improve the theory of the Import of Propositions, had its origin in these discussions; Graham and I originating most of the novelties, while Grote and others furnished an excellent tribunal or test. From this time I formed the project of writing a book on Logic, though on a much humbler scale than the one I ultimately executed.

Having done with Logic, we launched into analytic psychology, and having chosen Hartley for our text book, we raised Priestley’s edition[∥] to an extravagant Edition: current; Page: [127] price by searching through London to furnish each of us with a copy. When we had finished Hartley, we suspended our meetings; but, my father’s Analysis of the Mind being published soon after, we reassembled for the purpose of reading it. With this our exercises ended. I have always dated from these conversations my own real inauguration as an original and independent thinker. It was also through them that I acquired, or very much strengthened, a mental habit to which I attribute all that I have ever done, or ever shall do, in speculation; that of never accepting half-solutions of difficulties as complete; never abandoning a puzzle, but again and again returning to it until it was cleared up; never allowing obscure corners of a subject to remain unexplored, because they did not appear important; never thinking that I perfectly understood any part of a subject until I understood the whole.

Our doings from 1825 to 1830 in the way of public speaking filled a considerable place in my life during those years, and as they had important effects on my development, something ought to be said of them.

There was for some time in existence a society of Owenites, called the Cooperative Society, which met for weekly public discussions in Chancery Lane. In the early part of 1825, accident brought Roebuck in contact with several of its members, and led to his attending one or two of the meetings and taking part in the debate in opposition to Owenism. Some one of us started the notion of going there in a body and having a general battle: and Charles Austin and some of his friends who did not usually take part in our joint exercises, entered into the project. It was carried out by concert with the principal members of the Society, themselves nothing loth, as they naturally preferred a controversy with opponents to a tame discussion among their own body. The question of population was proposed as the subject of debate: Charles Austin led the case on our side with a brilliant speech, and the fight was kept up by adjournment through five or six weekly meetings before crowded auditories, including along with the members of the Society and their friends, many hearers and some speakers from the Inns of Court.[*] When this debate was ended, another was commenced on the general merits of Owen’s Edition: current; Page: [129] system:[*] and the contest altogether lasted about three months. It was a lutte corps-à-corps between Owenites and political economists, whom the Owenites regarded as their most inveterate opponents: but it was a perfectly friendly dispute. We who represented political economy had the same objects in view as they had, and took pains to shew it; and the principal champion on their side was a very estimable man, with whom I was well acquainted, Mr. William Thompson, of Cork, author of a book on the Distribution of Wealth, and of an Appeal in behalf of women against the passage relating to them in my father’s Essay on Government.[†] Ellis, Roebuck, and I, took an active part in the debate, and among those from the Inns of Court who joined in it I remember Charles Villiers. The other side obtained also, on the population question, very efficient support from without. The well known Gale Jones, then an elderly man, made one of his florid speeches; but the speaker with whom I was most struck, though I dissented from nearly every word he said, was Thirlwall, the historian, since Bishop of St. David’s, then a Chancery barrister, unknown except by a high reputation for eloquence acquired at the Cambridge Union before the era of Austin and Macaulay. His speech was in answer to one of mine. Before he had uttered ten sentences, I set him down as the best speaker I had ever heard, and I have never since heard any one whom I placed above him.

The great interest of these debates predisposed some of those who took part in them, to catch at a suggestion thrown out by McCulloch, the political economist, that a society was wanted in London similar to the Speculative Society at Edinburgh, in which Brougham, Horner and others first cultivated public speaking. Our experience at the Cooperative Society seemed to give cause for being sanguine as to the sort of men who might be brought together in London for such a purpose. McCulloch mentioned the matter to several young men of influence to whom he was then giving private lessons in political economy. Some of these entered Edition: current; Page: [131] warmly into the project, particularly George Villiers, afterwards Earl of Clarendon. He and his brothers Hyde and Charles, Romilly, Charles Austin, and I, with some others, met and agreed on a plan. We determined to meet once a fortnight, from November to June, at the Freemason’s Tavern, and we had soon a splendid list of members, containing, along with several members of parliament, nearly all the most noted speakers of the Cambridge Union and of the Oxford United Debating Society. It is curiously illustrative of the tendencies of the time that our principal difficulty in recruiting for the Society was to find a sufficient number of Tory speakers. Almost all whom we could press into the service were Liberals, of different orders and degrees. Besides those already named, we had Macaulay, Thirlwall, Praed, Lord Howick, Samuel Wilberforce (afterwards Bishop of Oxford), Charles Poulett Thomson (afterwards Lord Sydenham), Edward and Henry Lytton Bulwer, Fonblanque, and many others whom I cannot now recollect, but who made themselves afterwards more or less conspicuous in public or literary life. Nothing could seem more promising. But when the time for action drew near, and it was necessary to fix on a President, and find somebody to open the first debate, none of our celebrities would consent to perform either office. Of the many who were pressed on the subject, the only one who could be prevailed on was a man of whom I knew very little, but who had taken high honours at Oxford and was said to have acquired a great oratorical reputation there; who some time afterwards became a Tory member of parliament.[*] He accordingly was fixed on, both for filling the President’s chair and for making the first speech. The important day arrived; the benches were crowded; all our great speakers were present, to judge of, but not to help our efforts. The Oxford orator’s speech was a complete failure. This threw a damp on the whole concern: the speakers who followed were few, and none of them did their best: the affair was a complete fiasco; and the oratorical celebrities we had counted on went away never to return, giving to me at least a lesson in knowledge of the world. This unexpected breakdown altered my whole relation to the project. I had not anticipated taking a prominent part, or speaking much or often, particularly at first; but I now saw that the success of the scheme depended on the new men, and I put my shoulder to the wheel. I opened the second question, and from that time spoke in nearly every debate.[†] It was very uphill work for some time. The three Villiers’ and Romilly stuck to us for some time longer, but the patience of all the founders of the Society was at last exhausted, except me and Roebuck. In the season following, 1826/27, things Edition: current; Page: [133] began to mend. We had acquired two excellent Tory speakers, Hayward, and Shee (afterwards Sergeant Shee): the radical side was reinforced by Charles Buller, Cockburn, and others of the second generation of Cambridge Benthamites; and with their and other occasional aid, and the two Tories as well as Roebuck and me for regular speakers,[*] almost every debate was a bataille rangée between the “philosophic radicals” and the Tory lawyers; until our conflicts were talked about, and several persons of note and consideration came to hear us. This happened still more in the subsequent seasons, 1828 and 1829, when the Coleridgians, in the persons of Maurice and Sterling, made their appearance in the Society as a second Liberal and even Radical party, on totally different grounds from Benthamism and vehemently opposed to it; bringing into these discussions the general doctrines and modes of thought of the European reaction against the philosophy of the eighteenth century; and adding a third and very important belligerent party to our contests, which were now no bad exponent of the movement of opinion among the most cultivated part of the new generation.[†] Our debates were very different from those of common debating societies, for they habitually consisted of the strongest arguments and most philosophic principles which either side was able to produce, thrown often into close and serré confutations of one another. The practice was necessarily very useful to us, and eminently so to me. I never, indeed, acquired real fluency, and had always a bad and ungraceful delivery, but I could make myself listened to: and as I always wrote my speeches when, from the feelings involved, or the nature of the ideas to be developed, expression seemed important. I greatly increased my power of effective writing, acquiring not only an ear for smoothness and rhythm, but a practical sense for telling sentences, and an immediate criterion of their telling property, by their effect on a mixed audience.

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The Society, and the preparation for it, together with the preparation for the morning conversations which were going on simultaneously, occupied the greater part of my leisure; and made me feel it a relief when, in the spring of 1828, I ceased to write for the Westminster. The Review had fallen into difficulties. Though the sale of the first number had been very encouraging, the permanent sale had never, I believe, been sufficient to pay the expenses, on the scale on which the review was carried on. Those expenses had been considerably, but not sufficiently, reduced. One of the editors, Southern, had resigned; and several of the writers, including my father and me, who had been paid like other contributors for our earlier articles, had latterly written without payment. Nevertheless, the original funds were nearly or quite exhausted, and if the Review was to be continued some new arrangement of its affairs had become indispensable. My father and I had several conferences with Bowring on the subject. We were willing to do our utmost for maintaining the Review as an organ of our opinions, but not under Bowring’s editorship: while the impossibility of its any longer supporting a paid editor, afforded a ground on which, without affront to him, we could propose to dispense with his services. We, and some of our friends, were prepared to carry on the Review as unpaid writers, either finding among ourselves an unpaid editor, or sharing the editorship among us. But while this negociation was proceeding, with Bowring’s apparent acquiescence, he was carrying on another in a different quarter (with Colonel Perronet Thompson), of which we received the first intimation in a letter from Bowring as editor, informing us merely that an arrangement had been made, and proposing to us to write for the next number, with promise of payment. We did not dispute Bowring’s right to bring about, if he could, an arrangement more favorable to himself than the one we had proposed; but we thought the concealment which he had practised towards us, while seemingly entering into our own project, an affront: and even had we not thought so, we were indisposed to expend any more of our time and trouble in attempting to write up the Review under his management. Accordingly my father excused himself from writing; though two or three years later, on great pressure, he did write one more political article.[*] As for me, I positively refused. And thus ended my connexion with the original Westminster. The last article which I wrote in it had cost me more labour than any previous; but it was a labour of love, being a defence of the early French Revolutionists against the Tory misrepresentations of Sir Walter Scott, in the introduction to his Life of Napoleon. The number of books which I read for this purpose, making notes and extracts—even the number I had to buy (for in those days there was no public or subscription library from which books of reference could be taken home), far exceeded the worth of the immediate object; but I had at that time a half formed intention of writing a History of the French Revolution; and though I never executed it, my collections afterwards were very useful to Carlyle for a similar purpose.[†]

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CHAPTER V: A Crisis in My Mental History. One Stage Onward

for some years after this time I wrote very little, and nothing regularly, for publication: and great were the advantages which I derived from the intermission. It was of no common importance to me, at this period, to be able to digest and mature my thoughts for my own mind only, without any immediate call for giving them out in print. Had I gone on writing, it would have much disturbed the important transformation in my opinions and character, which took place during those years. The origin of this transformation, or at least the process by which I was prepared for it, can only be explained by turning some distance back.

From the winter of 1821, when I first read Bentham, and especially from the commencement of the Westminster Review, I had what might truly be called an object in life; to be a reformer of the world. My conception of my own happiness was entirely identified with this object. The personal sympathies I wished for were those of fellow labourers in this enterprise. I endeavoured to pick up as many flowers as I could by the way; but as a serious and permanent personal satisfaction to rest upon, my whole reliance was placed on this: and I was accustomed to felicitate myself on the certainty of a happy life which I enjoyed, through placing my happiness in something durable and distant, in which some progress might be always making, while it could never be exhausted by complete attainment. This did very well for several years, during which the general improvement going on in the world and the idea of myself as engaged with others in struggling to promote it, seemed enough to fill up an interesting and animated existence. But the time came when I awakened from this as from a dream. It was in the autumn of 1826. I was in a dull state of nerves, such as everybody is occasionally liable to; unsusceptible to enjoyment or pleasurable excitement; one of those moods when what is pleasure at other times, becomes insipid or indifferent; the state, I should think, in which converts to Methodism usually are, when smitten by their first “conviction of sin.” Edition: current; Page: [139] In this frame of mind it occurred to me to put the question directly to myself, “Suppose that all your objects in life were realized; that all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to, could be completely effected at this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you?” And an irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered, “No!” At this my heart sank within me: the whole foundation on which my life was constructed fell down. All my happiness was to have been found in the continual pursuit of this end. The end had ceased to charm, and how could there ever again be any interest in the means? I seemed to have nothing left to live for.

At first I hoped that the cloud would pass away of itself; but it did not. A night’s sleep, the sovereign remedy for the smaller vexations of life, had no effect on it. I awoke to a renewed consciousness of the woful fact. I carried it with me into all companies, into all occupations. Hardly anything had power to cause me even a few minutes oblivion of it. For some months the cloud seemed to grow thicker and thicker. The lines in Coleridge’s “Dejection”—I was not then acquainted with them—exactly describe my case:

  • A grief without a pang, void, dark and drear,
  • A drowsy, stifled, unimpassioned grief,
  • Which finds no natural outlet or relief
  • In word, or sigh, or tear.[*]

In vain I sought relief from my favourite books; those memorials of past nobleness and greatness, from which I had always hitherto drawn strength and animation. I read them now without feeling, or with the accustomed feeling minus all its charm; and I became persuaded, that my love of mankind, and of excellence for its own sake, had worn itself out. I sought no comfort by speaking to others of what I felt. If I had loved any one sufficiently to make confiding my griefs a necessity, I should not have been in the condition I was. I felt, too, that mine was not an interesting, or in any way respectable distress. There was nothing in it to attract sympathy. Advice, if I had known where to seek it, would have been most precious. The words of Macbeth to the physician often occurred to my thoughts.[†] But there was no one on whom I could build the faintest hope of such assistance. My father, to whom it would have been natural to me to have recourse in any practical difficulties, was the last person to whom, in such a case as this, I looked for help. Everything convinced me that he had no knowledge of any such mental state as I was suffering from, and that even if he could be made to understand it, he was not the physician who could heal it. My education, which was wholly his work, had been conducted without any regard to the possibility of its ending in this result; and I saw no use in giving him the pain of thinking that his plans had failed, when the Edition: current; Page: [141] failure was probably irremediable, and at all events, beyond the power of his remedies. Of other friends, I had at that time none to whom I had any hope of making my condition intelligible. It was however abundantly intelligible to myself; and the more I dwelt upon it, the more hopeless it appeared.

My course of study had led me to believe, that all mental and moral feelings and qualities, whether of a good or of a bad kind, were the results of association; that we love one thing and hate another, take pleasure in one sort of action or contemplation, and pain in another sort, through the clinging of pleasurable or painful ideas to those things, from the effect of education or of experience. As a corollary from this, I had always heard it maintained by my father, and was myself convinced, that the object of education should be to form the strongest possible associations of the salutary class; associations of pleasure with all things beneficial to the great whole, and of pain with all things hurtful to it. This doctrine appeared inexpugnable; but it now seemed to me on retrospect, that my teachers had occupied themselves but superficially with the means of forming and keeping up these salutary associations. They seemed to have trusted altogether to the old familiar instruments, praise and blame, reward and punishment. Now I did not doubt that by these means, begun early and applied unremittingly, intense associations of pain and pleasure, especially of pain, might be created, and might produce desires and aversions capable of lasting undiminished to the end of life. But there must always be something artificial and casual in associations thus produced. The pains and pleasures thus forcibly associated with things, are not connected with them by any natural tie; and it is therefore, I thought, essential to the durability of these associations, that they should have become so intense and inveterate as to be practically indissoluble, before the habitual exercise of the power of analysis had commenced. For I now saw, or thought I saw, what I had always before received with incredulity—that the habit of analysis has a tendency to wear away the feelings: as indeed it has when no other mental habit is cultivated, and the analysing spirit remains without its natural complements and correctives. The very excellence of analysis (I argued) is that it tends to weaken and undermine whatever is the result of prejudice; that it enables us mentally to separate ideas which have only casually clung together: and no associations whatever could ultimately resist this dissolving force, were it not that we owe to analysis our clearest knowledge of the permanent sequences in nature; the real connexions between Things, not dependent on our will and feelings; natural laws, by virtue of which, in many cases, one thing is inseparable from another in fact; which laws, in proportion as they are clearly perceived and imaginatively realized, cause our ideas of things which are always joined together in Nature, to cohere more and more closely in our Edition: current; Page: [143] thoughts. Analytic habits may thus even strengthen the associations between causes and effects, means and ends, but tend altogether to weaken those which are, to speak familiarly, a mere matter of feeling. They are therefore (I thought) favourable to prudence and clearsightedness, but a perpetual worm at the root both of the passions and of the virtues; and above all, fearfully undermine all desires, and all pleasures, which are the effects of association, that is, according to the theory I held, all except the purely physical and organic; of the entire insufficiency of which to make life desirable, no one had a stronger conviction than I had. These were the laws of human nature by which, as it seemed to me, I had been brought to my present state. All those to whom I looked up, were of opinion that the pleasure of sympathy with human beings, and the feelings which made the good of others, and especially of mankind on a large scale, the object of existence, were the greatest and surest sources of happiness. Of the truth of this I was convinced, but to know that a feeling would make me happy if I had it, did not give me the feeling. My education, I thought, had failed to create these feelings in sufficient strength to resist the dissolving influence of analysis, while the whole course of my intellectual cultivation had made precocious and premature analysis the inveterate habit of my mind. I was thus, as I said to myself, left stranded at the commencement of my voyage, with a well equipped ship and a rudder, but no sail; without any real desire for the ends which I had been so carefully fitted out to work for: no delight in virtue or the general good, but also just as little in anything else. The fountains of vanity and ambition seemed to have dried up within me, as completely as those of benevolence. I had had (as I reflected) some gratification of vanity at too early an age: I had obtained some distinction, and felt myself of some importance, before the desire of distinction and of importance had grown into a passion: and little as it was which I had attained, yet having been attained too early, like all pleasures enjoyed too soon, it had made me blasé and indifferent to the pursuit. Thus neither selfish nor unselfish pleasures were pleasures to me. And there seemed no power in nature sufficient to begin the formation of my character anew, and create in a mind now irretrievably analytic, fresh associations of pleasure with any of the objects of human desire.

These were the thoughts which mingled with the dry heavy dejection of the melancholy winter of 1826-7. During this time I was not incapable of my usual occupations. I went on with them mechanically, by the mere force of habit. I had been so drilled in a certain sort of mental exercise, that I could still carry it on when all the spirit had gone out of it. I even composed and spoke several speeches at the debating society, how, or with what degree of success I know not. Of four years continual speaking at that society, this is the only year of which I remember next to nothing. Two lines of Coleridge, in whom alone of all writers I have found a true description of what I felt, were often in my thoughts, not at this time (for I had never read them), but in a later period of the same mental malady:

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  • Work without hope draws nectar in a sieve,
  • And hope without an object cannot live.[*]

In all probability my case was by no means so peculiar as I fancied it, and I doubt not that many others have passed through a similar state; but the idiosyncracies of my education had given to the general phenomenon a special character, which made it seem the natural effect of causes that it was hardly possible for time to remove. I frequently asked myself, if I could, or if I was bound to go on living, when life must be passed in this manner. I generally answered to myself, that I did not think I could possibly bear it beyond a year. When, however, not more than half that duration of time had elapsed, a small ray of light broke in upon my gloom. I was reading, accidentally, Marmontel’s Memoirs, and came to the passage which relates his father’s death, the distressed position of the family, and the sudden inspiration by which he, then a mere boy, felt and made them feel that he would be everything to them—would supply the place of all that they had lost.[†] A vivid conception of the scene and its feelings came over me, and I was moved to tears. From this moment my burthen grew lighter. The oppression of the thought that all feeling was dead within me, was gone. I was no longer hopeless: I was not a stock or a stone. I had still, it seemed, some of the material out of which all worth of character, and all capacity for happiness, are made. Relieved from my ever present sense of irremediable wretchedness, I gradually found that the ordinary incidents of life could again give me some pleasure; that I could again find enjoyment, not intense, but sufficient for cheerfulness, in sunshine and sky, in books, in conversation, in public affairs; and that there was, once more, excitement, though of a moderate kind, in exerting myself for my opinions, and for the public good. Thus the cloud gradually drew off, and I again enjoyed life: and though I had several relapses, some of which lasted many months, I never again was as miserable as I had been.

The experiences of this period had two very marked effects on my opinions and character. In the first place, they led me to adopt a theory of life, very unlike that on which I had before acted, and having much in common with what at that time I certainly had never heard of, the anti-self-consciousness theory of Carlyle.[‡] I never, indeed, wavered in the conviction that happiness is the test of all rules of conduct, and the end of life. But I now thought that this end was only to be attained by not making it the direct end. Those only are happy (I thought) who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not Edition: current; Page: [147] as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way. The enjoyments of life (such was now my theory) are sufficient to make it a pleasant thing, when they are taken en passant, without being made a principal object. Once make them so, and they are immediately felt to be insufficient. They will not bear a scrutinizing examination. Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so. The only chance is to treat, not happiness, but some end external to it, as the purpose of life. Let your self-consciousness, your scrutiny, your self-interrogation, exhaust themselves on that; and if otherwise fortunately circumstanced you will inhale happiness with the air you breathe, without dwelling on it or thinking about it, without either forestalling it in imagination, or putting it to flight by fatal questioning. This theory now became the basis of my philosophy of life. And I still hold to it as the best theory for all those who have but a moderate degree of sensibility and of capacity for enjoyment, that is, for the great majority of mankind.

The other important change which my opinions at this time underwent, was that I, for the first time, gave its proper place, among the prime necessities of human well-being, to the internal culture of the individual. I ceased to attach almost exclusive importance to the ordering of outward circumstances, and the training of the human being for speculation and for action. I had now learnt by experience that the passive susceptibilities needed to be cultivated as well as the active capacities, and required to be nourished and enriched as well as guided. I did not, for an instant, lose sight of, or undervalue, that part of the truth which I had seen before; I never turned recreant to intellectual culture, or ceased to consider the power and practice of analysis as an essential condition both of individual and of social improvement. But I thought that it had consequences which required to be corrected, by joining other kinds of cultivation with it. The maintenance of a due balance among the faculties, now seemed to me of primary importance. The cultivation of the feelings became one of the cardinal points in my ethical and philosophical creed. And my thoughts and inclinations turned in an increasing degree towards whatever seemed capable of being instrumental to that object.

I now began to find meaning in the things which I had read or heard about the importance of poetry and art as instruments of human culture. But it was some time longer before I began to know this by personal experience. The only one of the imaginative arts in which I had from childhood taken great pleasure, was music; the best effect of which (and in this it surpasses perhaps every other art) consists in exciting enthusiasm; in winding up to a high pitch those feelings of an elevated kind which are already in the character, but to which this excitement gives a glow and a fervour, which though transitory at its utmost height, is precious for sustaining them at other times. This effect of music I had often experienced; but, like all my pleasurable susceptibilities, it was suspended during the gloomy period. I had sought relief again and again from this quarter, but found none. After Edition: current; Page: [149] the tide had turned, and I was in process of recovery, I had been helped forward by music, but in a much less elevated manner. I at this time first became acquainted with Weber’s Oberon,[*] and the extreme pleasure which I drew from its delicious melodies did me good, by shewing me a source of pleasure to which I was as susceptible as ever. The good however was much impaired by the thought, that the pleasure of music (as is quite true of such pleasure as this was, that of mere tune) fades with familiarity, and requires either to be revived by intermittence, or fed by continual novelty. And it is very characteristic both of my then state, and of the general tone of my mind at this period of my life, that I was seriously tormented by the thought of the exhaustibility of musical combinations. The octave consists only of five tones and two semitones, which can be put together in only a limited number of ways, of which but a small proportion are beautiful: most of these, it seemed to me, must have been already discovered, and there could not be room for a long succession of Mozarts and Webers, to strike out as these had done, entirely new and surpassingly rich veins of musical beauty. This source of anxiety may perhaps be thought to resemble that of the philosophers of Laputa, who feared lest the sun should be burnt out.[†] It was, however, connected with the best feature in my character, and the only good point to be found in my very unromantic and in no way honorable distress. For though my dejection, honestly looked at, could not be called other than egotistical, produced by the ruin, as I thought, of my fabric of happiness, yet the destiny of mankind in general was ever in my thoughts, and could not be separated from my own. I felt that the flaw in my life, must be a flaw in life itself; that the question was, whether, if the reformers of society and government could succeed in their objects, and every person in the community were free and in a state of physical comfort, the pleasures of life, being no longer kept up by struggle and privation, would cease to be pleasures. And I felt that unless I could see my way to some better hope than this for human happiness in general, my dejection must continue; but that if I could see such an outlet, I should then look on the world with pleasure; content as far as I was myself concerned, with any fair share of the general lot.

This state of my thoughts and feelings made the fact of my reading Wordsworth for the first time (in the autumn of 1828) an important event in my life. I took up the collection of his poems from curiosity, with no expectation of mental relief from it, though I had before resorted to poetry with that hope. In the worst period of my depression I had read through the whole of Byron (then new to me) to try whether a poet, whose peculiar department was supposed to be that of the intenser feelings, could rouse any feeling in me. As might be expected, I got no good from this Edition: current; Page: [151] reading, but the reverse. The poet’s state of mind was too like my own. His was the lament of a man who had worn out all pleasures, and who seemed to think that life, to all who possess the good things of it, must necessarily be the vapid uninteresting thing which I found it. His Harold and Manfred had the same burthen on them which I had; and I was not in a frame of mind to derive any comfort from the vehement sensual passion of his Giaours, or the sullenness of his Laras.[*] But while Byron was exactly what did not suit my condition, Wordsworth was exactly what did. I had looked into The Excursion[†] two or three years before, and found little in it; and should probably have found as little, had I read it at this time. But the miscellaneous poems, in the two-volume edition of 1815[‡] (to which little of value was added in the latter part of the author’s life), proved to be the precise thing for my mental wants at that particular juncture.

In the first place, these poems addressed themselves powerfully to one of the strongest of my pleasurable susceptibilities, the love of rural objects and natural scenery; to which I had been indebted not only for much of the pleasure of my life, but quite recently for relief from one of my longest relapses into depression. In this power of rural beauty over me, there was a foundation laid for taking pleasure in Wordsworth’s poetry; the more so, as his scenery lies mostly among mountains, which, owing to my early Pyrenean excursion, were my ideal of natural beauty. But Wordsworth would never have had any great effect on me, if he had merely placed before me beautiful pictures of natural scenery. Scott does this still better than Wordsworth, and a very second-rate landscape does it more effectually than any poet. What made Wordsworth’s poems a medicine for my state of mind, was that they expressed, not mere outward beauty, but states of feeling, and of thought coloured by feeling, under the excitement of beauty.[§] They seemed to be the very culture of the feelings, which I was in quest of. In them I seemed to draw from a source of inward joy, of sympathetic and imaginative pleasure, which could be shared in by all human beings; which had no connexion with struggle or imperfection, but would be made richer by every improvement in the physical or social condition of mankind. From them I seemed to learn what would be the perennial sources of happiness, when all the greater evils of life shall have been removed. And I felt myself at once better and happier as I came under their influence. There Edition: current; Page: [153] have certainly been, even in our own age, greater poets than Wordsworth; but poetry of deeper and loftier feeling could not have done for me at that time what his did. I needed to be made to feel that there was real, permanent happiness in tranquil contemplation. Wordsworth taught me this, not only without turning away from, but with a greatly increased interest in, the common feelings and common destiny of human beings. And the delight which these poems gave me, proved that with culture of this sort, there was nothing to dread from the most confirmed habit of analysis. At the conclusion of the Poems came the famous “Ode,” falsely called Platonic, “Intimations of Immortality”:[*] in which, along with more than his usual sweetness of melody and rhythm, and along with the two passages of grand imagery but bad philosophy so often quoted, I found that he too had had similar experience to mine; that he also had felt that the first freshness of youthful enjoyment of life was not lasting; but that he had sought for compensation, and found it, in the way in which he was now teaching me to find it. The result was that I gradually, but completely, emerged from my habitual depression, and was never again subject to it. I long continued to value Wordsworth less according to his intrinsic merits, than by the measure of what he had done for me. Compared with the greatest poets, he may be said to be the poet of unpoetical natures, possessed of quiet and contemplative tastes. But unpoetical natures are precisely those which require poetic cultivation. This cultivation Wordsworth is much more fitted to give, than poets who are intrinsically far more poets than he.

It so fell out that the merits of Wordsworth were the occasion of my first public declaration of my new way of thinking, and separation from those of my habitual companions who had not undergone a similar change. The person with whom at that time I was most in the habit of comparing notes on such subjects was Roebuck, and I induced him to read Wordsworth, in whom he also at first seemed to find much to admire: but I, like most Wordsworthians, threw myself into strong antagonism to Byron, both as a poet and as to his influence on the character. Roebuck, all whose instincts were those of action and struggle, had, on the contrary, a strong relish and great admiration of Byron, whose writings he regarded as the poetry of human life, while Wordsworth’s, according to him, was that of flowers and butterflies. We agreed to have the fight out at our Debating Society, where we accordingly discussed for two evenings the comparative merits of Byron and Wordsworth, propounding and illustrating by long recitations our respective theories of poetry: Sterling also, in a brilliant speech, putting forward his particular theory.[†] This was the first debate on any weighty subject in which Edition: current; Page: [155] Roebuck and I had been on opposite sides. The schism between us widened from this time more and more, though we continued for some years longer to be companions. In the beginning, our chief divergence related to the cultivation of the feelings. Roebuck was in many respects very different from the vulgar notion of a Benthamite or Utilitarian. He was a lover of poetry and of most of the fine arts. He took great pleasure in music, in dramatic performances, especially in painting, and himself drew and designed landscapes with great facility and beauty. But he never could be made to see that these things have any value as aids in the formation of character. Personally, instead of being, as Benthamites are supposed to be, void of feeling, he had very quick and strong sensibilities. But, like most Englishmen who Edition: current; Page: [157] have feelings, he found his feelings stand very much in his way. He was much more susceptible to the painful sympathies than to the pleasurable, and looking for his happiness elsewhere, he wished that his feelings should be deadened rather than quickened. And in truth the English character, and English social circumstances, make it so seldom possible to derive happiness from the exercise of the sympathies, that it is not wonderful if they count for little in an Englishman’s scheme of life. In most other countries the paramount importance of the sympathies as a constituent of individual happiness is an axiom, taken for granted rather than needing any formal statement; but most English thinkers almost seem to regard them as necessary evils, required for keeping men’s actions benevolent and compassionate. Roebuck was, or appeared to be, this kind of Englishman. He saw little good in any cultivation of the feelings, and none at all in cultivating them through the imagination, which he thought was only cultivating illusions. It was in vain I urged on him that the imaginative emotion which an idea when vividly conceived excites in us, is not an illusion but a fact, as real as any of the other qualities of objects; and far from implying anything erroneous and delusive in our mental apprehension of the object, is quite consistent with the most accurate knowledge and most perfect practical recognition of all its physical and intellectual laws and relations. The intensest feeling of the beauty of a cloud lighted by the setting sun, is no hindrance to my knowing that the cloud is vapour of water, subject to all the laws of vapours in a state of suspension; and I am just as likely to allow for, and act on, these physical laws whenever there is occasion to do so, as if I had been incapable of perceiving any distinction between beauty and ugliness.

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While my intimacy with Roebuck diminished, I fell more and more into friendly intercourse with our Coleridgian adversaries in the Society, Frederick Maurice and John Sterling, both subsequently so well known, the former by his writings, the latter through the biographies by Hare and Carlyle.[*] Of these two friends, Maurice was the thinker, Sterling the orator, and impassioned expositor of thoughts which, at this period, were almost entirely formed for him by Maurice. Edition: current; Page: [161] With Maurice I had for some time been acquainted through Eyton Tooke, who had known him at Cambridge, and though my discussions with him were almost always disputes, I had carried away from them much that helped to build up my new fabric of thought, in the same way as I was deriving much from Coleridge, and from the writings of Goethe and other German authors which I read during those years. I have so deep a respect for Maurice’s character and purposes, as well as for his great mental gifts, that it is with some unwillingness I say anything which may seem to place him on a less high eminence than I would gladly be able to accord to him. But I have always thought that there was more intellectual power wasted in Maurice than in any other of my cotemporaries. Few of them certainly have had so much to waste. Great powers of generalization, rare ingenuity and subtlety, and a wide perception of important and unobvious truths, served him not for putting something better into the place of the worthless heap of received opinions on the great subjects of thought, but for proving to his own mind that the Church of England had known everything from the first, and that all the truths on the ground of which the Church and orthodoxy have been attacked (many of which he saw as clearly as any one) are not only consistent with the Thirty-nine articles,[*] but are better understood and expressed in those articles than by any one who rejects them. I have never been able to find any other explanation of this, than by attributing it to that timidity of conscience, combined with original sensitiveness of temperament, which has so often driven highly gifted men into Romanism from the need of a firmer support than they can find in the independent conclusions of their own judgment. Any more vulgar kind of timidity no one who knew Maurice would ever think of imputing to him, even if he had not given public proof of his freedom from it, by his ultimate collision with some of the opinions commonly regarded as orthodox, and by his noble origination of the Christian Socialist movement. The nearest parallel to him, in a moral point of view, is Coleridge, to whom, in merely intellectual power, apart from poetical genius, I think him decidedly superior. At this time, however, he might be described as a disciple of Coleridge, and Sterling as a disciple of Coleridge and of him. The modifications which were taking place in my old opinions gave me some points of contact with them; and both Maurice and Sterling were of considerable use to my development. With Sterling I soon became very intimate, and was more attached to him than I have ever been to any other man. He was indeed one of the most loveable of men. His frank, cordial, affectionate and expansive character; a love of truth alike conspicuous in the highest things and the humblest; a generous and ardent nature which threw itself with impetuosity into the opinions it adopted, but was as eager to do justice to the doctrines and the men it was opposed to, as to make war on what it thought their errors; and an equal devotion to the two cardinal points of Liberty and Duty, formed a combination of qualities as attractive to me, as to all others who knew him Edition: current; Page: [163] as well as I did. With his open mind and heart, he found no difficulty in joining hands with me across the gulf which as yet divided our opinions. He told me how he and others had looked upon me (from hearsay information) as a “made” or manufactured man, having had a certain impress of opinion stamped on me which I could only reproduce; and what a change took place in his feelings when he found, in the discussion on Wordsworth and Byron, that Wordsworth, and all which that name implies, “belonged” to me as much as to him and his friends. The failure of his health soon scattered all his plans of life, and compelled him to live at a distance from London, so that after the first year or two of our acquaintance we only saw each other at distant intervals. But (as he said himself in one of his letters to Carlyle) when we did meet it was like brothers. Though he was never, in the full sense of the word, a profound thinker, his openness of mind, and the moral courage in which he greatly surpassed Maurice, made him outgrow the dominion which Maurice and Coleridge had once exercised over his intellect; though he retained to the last a great but discriminating admiration of both, and towards Maurice a warm affection. Except in that short and transitory phasis of his life, during which he made the mistake of becoming a clergyman, his mind was ever progressive, and the advance he always seemed to have made when I saw him after an interval, made me apply to him what Goethe said of Schiller, “Er hatte eine fürchtliche Fortschreitung.”[*] He and I started from intellectual points almost as wide apart as the poles, but the distance between us was always diminishing: if I made steps towards some of his opinions, he, during his short life, was constantly approximating more and more to several of mine: and if he had lived, and had health and vigour to prosecute his ever assiduous self-culture, there is no knowing how much further this spontaneous assimilation might have proceeded.

After 1829 I withdrew from attendance on the Debating Society. I had had enough of speech-making, and was glad to carry on my private studies and meditations without any immediate call for outward assertion of their results. I found the fabric of my old and taught opinions giving way in many fresh places, and I never allowed it to fall to pieces, but was incessantly occupied in weaving it anew. I never, in the course of my transition, was content to remain, for ever so short a time, confused and unsettled. When I had taken in any new idea, I could not Edition: current; Page: [165] rest till I had adjusted its relation to my old opinions, and ascertained exactly how far its effect ought to extend in modifying or superseding them.

The conflicts which I had so often had to sustain in defending the theory of government laid down in Bentham’s and my father’s writings, and the acquaintance I had obtained with other schools of political thinking, made me aware of many things which that doctrine, professing to be a theory of government in general, ought to have made room for, and did not. But these things, as yet, remained with me rather as corrections to be made in applying the theory to practice, than as defects in the theory. I felt that politics could not be a science of specific experience; and that the accusations against the Benthamic theory of being a theory, of proceeding à priori, by way of general reasoning, instead of Baconian experiment, shewed complete ignorance of Bacon’s principles, and of the necessary conditions of experimental investigation. At this juncture appeared, in the Edinburgh Review, Macaulay’s famous attack on my father’s Essay on Government.[*] This gave me much to think about. I saw that Macaulay’s conception of the logic of politics was erroneous; that he stood up for the empirical mode of treating political phenomena, against the philosophical; that even in physical science, his notion of philosophizing might have recognized Kepler, but would have excluded Newton and Laplace. But I could not help feeling, that though the tone was unbecoming (an error for which the writer, at a later period, made the most ample and honorable amends),[†] there was truth in several of his strictures on my father’s treatment of the subject; that my father’s premises were really too narrow, and included but a small number of the general truths, on which, in politics, the important consequences depend. Identity of interest between the governing body and the community at large, is not, in any practical sense which can be attached to it, the only thing on which good government depends; neither can this identity of interest be secured by the mere conditions of election. I was not at all satisfied with the mode in which my father met the criticisms of Macaulay. He did not, as I thought he ought to have done, justify himself by saying, “I was not writing a scientific treatise on politics. I was writing an argument for parliamentary reform.” He treated Macaulay’s argument as simply irrational; an attack upon the reasoning faculty; an example of the saying of Hobbes, that when reason is against Edition: current; Page: [167] a man, a man will be against reason.[*] This made me think that there was really something more fundamentally erroneous in my father’s conception of philosophical Method, as applicable to politics, than I had hitherto supposed there was. But I did not at first see clearly what the error might be. At last it flashed upon me all at once in the course of other studies. In the early part of 1830 I had begun to put on paper the ideas on Logic (chiefly on the distinctions among Terms, and the import of Propositions) which had been suggested and in part worked out in the morning conversations already spoken of. Having secured these thoughts from being lost, I pushed on into the other parts of the subject, to try whether I could do anything further towards clearing up the theory of Logic generally. I grappled at once with the problem of Induction, postponing that of Reasoning, on the ground that it is necessary to obtain premises before we can reason from them. Now, Induction is mainly a process for finding the causes of effects: and in attempting to fathom the mode of tracing causes and effects in physical science, I soon saw that in the more perfect of the sciences, we ascend, by generalization from particulars, to the tendencies of causes considered singly, and then reason downward from those separate tendencies, to the effect of the same causes when combined. I then asked myself, what is the ultimate analysis of this deductive process; the common theory of the syllogism evidently throwing no light upon it. My practice (learnt from Hobbes and my father) being to study abstract principles by means of the best concrete instances I could find, the Composition of Forces, in dynamics, occurred to me as the most complete example of the logical process I was investigating. On examining, accordingly, what the mind does when it applies the principle of the Composition of Forces, I found that it performs a simple act of addition. It adds the separate effect of the one force to the separate effect of the other, and puts down the sum of these separate effects as the joint effect. But is this a legitimate process? In dynamics, and in all the mathematical branches of physics, it is; but in some other cases, as in chemistry, it is not; and I then recollected that something not unlike this was pointed out as one of the distinctions between chemical and mechanical phenomena, in the introduction to that favorite of my boyhood, Thomson’s System of Chemistry. This distinction at once made my mind clear as to what was perplexing me in respect to the philosophy of politics. I now saw, that a science is either deductive or experimental, according as, in the province it deals with, the effects of causes when conjoined, are or are not the sums of the effects which the same causes produce when separate. It followed that politics must be a deductive science. It thus appeared, that both Macaulay and my father were wrong; the one in assimilating the method of philosophizing in politics to the purely experimental method of chemistry; while the other, though right in adopting a deductive method, had made a wrong selection of one, having taken as the type of deduction, not the appropriate process, that of the deductive branches of natural philosophy, Edition: current; Page: [169] but the inappropriate one of pure geometry, which not being a science of causation at all, does not require or admit of any summing-up of effects. A foundation was thus laid in my thoughts for the principal chapters of what I afterwards published on the Logic of the Moral Sciences;[*] and my new position in respect to my old political creed now became perfectly definite.

If I am asked what system of political philosophy I substituted for that which, as a philosophy, I had abandoned, I answer, no system: only a conviction, that the true system was something much more complex and many sided than I had previously had any idea of, and that its office was to supply, not a set of model institutions, but principles from which the institutions suitable to any given circumstances might be deduced. The influences of European, that is to say, Continental, thought, and especially those of the reaction of the nineteenth century against the eighteenth, were now streaming in upon me. They came from various quarters: from the writings of Coleridge, which I had begun to read with interest even before the change in my opinions; from the Coleridgians with whom I was in personal intercourse; from what I had read of Goethe; from Carlyle’s early articles in the Edinburgh and Foreign Reviews,[†] though for a long time I saw nothing in these (as my father saw nothing in them to the last) but insane rhapsody. From these sources, and from the acquaintance I kept up with the French literature of the time, I derived, among other ideas which the general turning upside down of the opinions of European thinkers had brought uppermost, these in particular: That the human mind has a certain order of possible progress, in which some things must precede others, an order which governments and public instructors can modify to some, but not to an unlimited extent: That all questions of political institutions are relative, not absolute, and that different stages of human progress not only will have, but ought to have, different institutions: That government is always either in the hands, or passing into the hands, of whatever is the strongest power in society, and that what this power is, does not depend on institutions, but institutions on it: That any general theory or philosophy of politics supposes a previous theory of human progress, and that this is the same thing with a philosophy of history. These opinions, true in the main, were held in an exaggerated and violent manner by the thinkers with whom I was now most accustomed to compare notes, and who, as usual with a reaction, ignored that half of the truth which the thinkers of the eighteenth century saw. But though, at one period of my progress, I for some time undervalued that great century, I never joined in the reaction against it, but kept as firm hold of one side of the truth as I took of the other. The fight between the Edition: current; Page: [171] nineteenth century and the eighteenth always reminded me of the battle about the shield, one side of which was white and the other black.[*] I marvelled at the blind rage with which the combatants rushed against one another. I applied to them, and to Coleridge himself, many of Coleridge’s sayings about half truths;[†] and Goethe’s device, “many-sidedness,”[‡] was one which I would most willingly, at this period, have taken for mine.

The writers by whom, more than by any others, a new mode of political thinking was brought home to me, were those of the St. Simonian school in France. In 1829 and 1830 I became acquainted with some of their writings. They were then only in the earlier stages of their speculations. They had not yet dressed out their philosophy as a religion, nor had they organized their scheme of Socialism. They were just beginning to question the principle of hereditary property. I was by no means prepared to go with them even this length; but I was greatly struck with the connected view which they for the first time presented to me, of the natural order of human progress; and especially with their division of all history into organic periods and critical periods. During the organic periods (they said) mankind accept with firm conviction some positive creed, claiming jurisdiction over all their actions, and containing more or less of truth and adaptation to the needs of humanity. Under its influence they make all the progress compatible with the creed, and finally outgrow it; when a period follows of criticism and negation, in which mankind lose their old convictions without acquiring any new ones, of a general or authoritative character, except the conviction that the old are false. The period of Greek and Roman polytheism, so long as really believed in by instructed Greeks and Romans, was an organic period, succeeded by the critical or sceptical period of the Greek philosophers. Another organic period came in with Christianity. The corresponding critical period began with the Reformation, has lasted ever since, still lasts, and cannot altogether cease until a new organic period has been inaugurated by the triumph of a yet more advanced creed. These ideas, I knew, were not peculiar to the St. Simonians; on the contrary, they were the general property of Europe, or at least of Germany and France, but they had never, to my knowledge, been so completely systematized as by these writers, nor the distinguishing characteristics of a critical period so powerfully set forth; for I was not then acquainted with Fichte’s Lectures on The Characteristics of the Present Age.[§] Edition: current; Page: [173] In Carlyle, indeed, I found bitter denunciations of an “age of unbelief,” and of the present age as such,[*] which I, like most people at that time, supposed to be passionate protests in favour of the old modes of belief. But all that was true in these denunciations I thought that I found more calmly and philosophically stated by the St. Simonians. Among their publications, too, there was one which seemed to me far superior to the rest; in which the general idea was matured into something much more definite and instructive. This was an early work of Auguste Comte, who then called himself, and even announced himself in the title page as, a pupil of Saint-Simon.[†] In this tract M. Comte first put forth the doctrine which he afterwards so copiously illustrated, of the natural succession of three stages in every department of human knowledge—first the theological, next the metaphysical, and lastly, the positive stage; and contended, that social science must be subject to the same law; that the feudal and Catholic system was the concluding phasis of the theological state of the social science, Protestantism the commencement and the doctrines of the French Revolution the consummation of the metaphysical, and that its positive state was yet to come.[‡] This doctrine harmonized well with my existing notions, to which it seemed to give a scientific shape. I already regarded the methods of physical science as the proper models for political. But the chief benefit which I derived at this time from the trains of thought suggested by the St. Simonians and by Comte, was, that I obtained a clearer conception than ever before of the peculiarities of an era of transition in opinion, and ceased to mistake the moral and intellectual characteristics of such an era, for the normal attributes of humanity. I looked forward, through the present age of loud disputes but generally weak convictions, to a future which shall unite the best qualities of the critical with the best qualities of the organic periods: unchecked liberty of thought, unbounded freedom of individual action in all modes not hurtful to others; but also, convictions as to what is right and wrong, useful and pernicious, deeply engraven on the feelings by early education and general unanimity of sentiment, and so firmly grounded in reason and in the true exigencies of life, that they shall not, like all former and present creeds, religious, ethical, and political, require to be periodically thrown off and replaced by others.

M. Comte soon left the St. Simonians, and I lost sight of him and his writings for a number of years. But the St. Simonians I continued to cultivate. I was kept au courant of their progress by one of their most enthusiastic disciples, M. Gustave d’Eichthal, who about that time passed a considerable interval in England. I was introduced to their chiefs, Bazard and Enfantin, in 1830; and as long as their public teachings and proselytism continued, I read nearly everything they wrote. Their criticism on the common doctrines of Liberalism seemed to me full of important Edition: current; Page: [175] truth; and it was partly by their writings that my eyes were opened to the very limited and temporary value of the old political economy, which assumes private property and inheritance as indefeasible facts, and freedom of production and exchange as the dernier mot of social improvement. The scheme gradually unfolded by the St. Simonians, under which the labour and capital of society would be managed for the general account of the community, every individual being required to take a share of labour, either as thinker, teacher, artist, or producer, all being classed according to their capacity, and remunerated according to their works, appeared to me a far superior description of Socialism to Owen’s. Their aim seemed to me desirable and rational, however their means might be inefficacious; and though I neither believed in the practicability, nor in the beneficial operation of their social machinery, I felt that the proclamation of such an ideal of human society could not but tend to give a beneficial direction to the efforts of others to bring society, as at present constituted, nearer to some ideal standard. I honoured them most of all for what they have been most cried down for—the boldness and freedom from prejudice with which they treated the subject of family, the most important of any, and needing more fundamental alterations than remain to be made in any other great social institution, but on which scarcely any reformer has the courage to touch. In proclaiming the perfect equality of men and women, and an entirely new order of things in regard to their relations with one another, the St. Simonians in common with Owen and Fourier have entitled themselves to the grateful remembrance of future generations.

In giving an account of this period of my life, I have only specified such of my new impressions as appeared to me, both at the time and since, to be a kind of turning points, marking a definite progress in my mode of thought. But these few selected points give a very insufficient idea of the quantity of thinking which I carried on respecting a host of subjects during these years of transition. Much of this, it is true, consisted in rediscovering things known to all the world, which I had previously disbelieved, or disregarded. But the rediscovery was to me a discovery, giving me plenary possession of the truths not as traditional platitudes but fresh from their source: and it seldom failed to place them in some new light, by which they were reconciled with, and seemed to confirm while they modified, the truths less generally known which lay in my early opinions, and in no essential part of which I at any time wavered. All my new thinking only laid the foundation of these more deeply and strongly, while it often removed misapprehension and confusion of ideas which had perverted their effect. For example, during the later returns of my dejection, the doctrine of what is called Philosophical Necessity weighed on my existence like an incubus. I felt as if I was scientifically proved to be the helpless slave of antecedent circumstances; as if my character and that of all others had been formed for us by agencies beyond our control, and was wholly out of our Edition: current; Page: [177] own power. I often said to myself, what a relief it would be if I could disbelieve the doctrine of the formation of character by circumstances; and remembering the wish of Fox respecting the doctrine of resistance to governments, that it might never be forgotten by kings, nor remembered by subjects, I said that it would be a blessing if the doctrine of necessity could be believed by all quoad the characters of others, and disbelieved in regard to their own. I pondered painfully on the subject, till gradually I saw light through it. I perceived, that the word Necessity, as a name for the doctrine of Cause and Effect applied to human action, carried with it a misleading association; and that this association was the operative force in the depressing and paralysing influence which I had experienced. I saw that though our character is formed by circumstances, our own desires can do much to shape those circumstances; and that what is really inspiriting and ennobling in the doctrine of freewill, is the conviction that we have real power over the formation of our own character; that our will, by influencing some of our circumstances, can modify our future habits or capabilities of willing. All this was entirely consistent with the doctrine of circumstances, or rather, was that doctrine itself, properly understood. From that time I drew, in my own mind, a clear distinction between the doctrine of circumstances, and Fatalism; discarding altogether the misleading word Necessity. The theory, which I now for the first time rightly apprehended, ceased altogether to be discouraging, and besides the relief to my spirits, I no longer suffered under the burthen, so heavy to one who aims at being a reformer in opinions, of thinking one doctrine true, and the contrary doctrine morally beneficial. The train of thought which had extricated me from this dilemma, seemed to me, in after years, fitted to render a similar service to others; and it now forms the chapter on Liberty and Necessity in the concluding Book of my System of Logic.[*]

Again, in politics, though I no longer accepted the doctrine of the Essay on Government as a scientific theory; though I ceased to consider representative democracy as an absolute principle, and regarded it as a question of time, place, and circumstance; though I now looked upon the choice of political institutions as a moral and educational question more than one of material interests, thinking that it ought to be decided mainly by the consideration, what great improvement in life and culture stands next in order for the people concerned, as the condition of their further progress, and what institutions are most likely to promote that; nevertheless this change in the premises of my political philosophy did not alter my practical political creed as to the requirements of my own time and country. I was as much as ever a radical and democrat, for Europe, and especially for England. I thought the predominance of the aristocratic classes, the noble and the rich, in the English Constitution, an evil worth any struggle to get rid of; not on account of taxes, or any such comparatively small inconvenience, but as the great demoralizing agency in the country. Demoralizing, first, because it made the conduct of the government Edition: current; Page: [179] an example of gross public immorality, through the predominance of private over public interests in the State, and the abuse of the powers of legislation for the advantage of classes. Secondly, and in a still greater degree, because the respect of the multitude always attaching itself principally to that which, in the existing state of society, is the chief passport to power; and under English institutions, riches, hereditary or acquired, being the almost exclusive source of political importance; riches, and the signs of riches, were almost the only things really respected, and the life of the people was mainly devoted to the pursuit of them. I thought, that while the higher and richer classes held the power of government, the instruction and improvement of the mass of the people were contrary to the self interest of those classes, because tending to render the people more powerful for throwing off the yoke: but if the democracy obtained a large, and perhaps the principal, share in the governing power, it would become the interest of the opulent classes to promote their education, in order to ward off really mischievous errors, and especially those which would lead to unjust violations of property. On these grounds I was not only as ardent as ever for democratic institutions, but earnestly hoped that Owenite, St. Simonian, and all other anti-property doctrines might spread widely among the poorer classes; not that I thought those doctrines true, or desired that they should be acted on, but in order that the higher classes might be made to see that they had more to fear from the poor when uneducated, than when educated.

In this frame of mind the French Revolution of July found me. It roused my utmost enthusiasm, and gave me, as it were, a new existence. I went at once to Paris, was introduced to Lafayette, and laid the groundwork of the intercourse I afterwards kept up with several of the active chiefs of the extreme popular party. After my return I entered warmly, as a writer, into the political discussions of the time; which soon became still more exciting, by the coming in of Lord Grey’s ministry, and the proposing of the Reform Bill.[*] For the next few years I wrote copiously in newspapers. It was about this time that Fonblanque, who had for some time written the political articles in the Examiner, became the proprietor and editor of the paper. It is not forgotten with what verve and talent, as well as fine wit, he carried it on, during the whole period of Lord Grey’s ministry, and what importance it assumed as the principal representative, in the newspaper press, of radical opinions. The distinguishing character of the paper was given to it entirely by his own articles, which formed at least three fourths of all the original writing contained in it: but of the remaining fourth I contributed during those years a much larger share than any one else.[†] I wrote nearly all the articles on French subjects, including a weekly summary of French politics, often extending to considerable length; together with many leading articles on general politics, commercial and financial legislation, and any miscellaneous subjects in which I felt interested, and Edition: current; Page: [181] which were suitable to the paper, including occasional reviews of books. Mere newspaper articles on the occurrences or questions of the moment gave no opportunity for the development of any general mode of thought; but I attempted, in the beginning of 1831, to embody in a series of articles, headed “The Spirit of the Age,” some of my new opinions, and especially to point out in the character of the present age, the anomalies and evils characteristic of the transition from a system of opinions which had worn out, to another only in process of being formed.[*] These articles were, I fancy, lumbering in style, and not lively or striking enough to be at any time acceptable to newspaper readers; but had they been far more attractive, still, at that particular moment, when great political changes were impending, and engrossing all minds, these discussions were ill timed, and missed fire altogether. The only effect which I know to have been produced by them, was that Carlyle, then living in a secluded part of Scotland, read them in his solitude, and saying to himself (as he afterwards told me) “here is a new Mystic,” enquired on coming to London that autumn respecting their authorship; an enquiry which was the immediate cause of our becoming personally acquainted.[†]

I have already mentioned Carlyle’s earlier writings as one of the channels through which I received the influences which enlarged my early narrow creed; but I do not think that those writings, by themselves, would ever have had any effect on my opinions. What truths they contained, though of the very kind which I was already receiving from other quarters, were presented in a form and vesture less suited than any other to give them access to a mind trained as mine had been. They seemed a haze of poetry and German metaphysics, in which almost the only clear thing was a strong animosity to most of the opinions which were the basis of my mode of thought; religious scepticism, utilitarianism, the doctrine of circumstances, and the attaching any importance to democracy, logic, or political economy. Instead of my having been taught anything, in the first instance, by Carlyle, it was only in proportion as I came to see the same truths, through media more Edition: current; Page: [183] suited to my mental constitution, that I recognized them in his writings. Then, indeed, the wonderful power with which he put them forth made a deep impression upon me, and I was during a long period one of his most fervent admirers; but the good his writings did me, was not as philosophy to instruct, but as poetry to animate. Even at the time when our acquaintance commenced, I was not sufficiently advanced in my new modes of thought, to appreciate him fully; a proof of which is, that on his shewing me the manuscript of Sartor Resartus, his best and greatest work, which he had just then finished, I made little of it; though when it came out about two years afterwards in Fraser’s Magazine,[*] I read it with enthusiastic admiration and the keenest delight. I did not seek and cultivate Carlyle less on account of the fundamental differences in our philosophy. He soon found out that I was not “another mystic,” and when for the sake of my own integrity I wrote to him a distinct profession of all those of my opinions which I knew he most disliked, he replied that the chief difference between us was that I “was as yet consciously nothing of a mystic.”[†] I do not know at what period he gave up the expectation that I was destined to become one; but though both his and my opinions underwent in subsequent years considerable changes, we never approached much nearer to each other’s modes of thought than we were in the first years of our acquaintance. I did not, however, deem myself a competent judge of Carlyle. I felt that he was a poet, and that I was not; that he was a man of intuition, which I was not; and that as such, he not only saw many things long before me, which I could only, when they were pointed out to me, hobble after and prove, but that it was highly probable he could see many things which were not visible to me even after they were pointed out. I knew that I could not see round him, and could never be certain that I saw over him;[‡] and I never presumed to judge him with any definiteness, until he was interpreted to me by one greatly the superior of us both[§]—who was more a poet than he, and more a thinker than I—whose own mind and nature included his, and infinitely more.

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Among the persons of intellect whom I had known of old, the one with whom I had now most points of agreement was the elder Austin. I have mentioned that he always set himself in opposition to our early sectarianism; and latterly he had, like myself, come under new influences. Having been appointed Professor of Jurisprudence in the London University (now University College), he had lived for some time at Bonn to study for his Lectures;[*] and the influences of German literature and of the German character and state of society had made a very perceptible change in his views of life. His personal disposition was much softened; he was less militant and polemic; his tastes had begun to turn themselves towards the poetic and contemplative. He attached much less importance than formerly to outward changes, unless accompanied by a better cultivation of the inward nature. He had a strong distaste for the general meanness of English life, the absence of enlarged thoughts and unselfish desires, the low objects on which the faculties of all classes of the English are intent. Even the kind of public interests which Englishmen care for, he held in very little esteem. He thought that there was more practical good government, and (which is true enough) infinitely more care for the education and mental improvement of all ranks of the people, under the Prussian monarchy, than under the English representative government: and he held, with the French Economistes, that the real security for good government is “un peuple éclairé,” which is not always the fruit of popular institutions, and which if it could be had without them, would do their work better than they. Though he approved of the Reform Bill, he predicted, what in fact occurred, that it would not produce the great immediate improvements in government, which many expected from it. The men, he said, who could do these great things, did not exist in the country. There were many points of sympathy between him and me, both in the new opinions he had adopted and in the old ones which he retained. Like me, he never ceased to be an utilitarian, and with all his love of the Germans, and enjoyment of their literature, never became in the smallest degree reconciled to the innate-principle metaphysics. He cultivated more and more a kind of German religion, a religion of poetry and feeling with little if anything of positive dogma; while, in politics (and here it was that I most differed with him) he acquired an indifference, bordering on contempt, for the progress of popular institutions: though he rejoiced in that of Socialism, as the most effectual means of compelling the powerful classes to educate the people, and to impress on them the only real means of permanently improving their material condition, a limitation of their numbers. Neither was he, at this time, fundamentally opposed to Socialism in itself, as an ultimate result of improvement. He professed great disrespect for what he called “the universal Edition: current; Page: [187] principles of human nature of the political economists,” and insisted on the evidence which history and daily experience afford of the “extraordinary phability of human nature” (a phrase which I have somewhere borrowed from him);[*] nor did he think it possible to set any positive bounds to the moral capabilities which might unfold themselves in mankind, under an enlightened direction of social and educational influences. Whether he retained all these opinions to the end of life I know not. Certainly the modes of thinking of his later years and especially of his last publication[†] were much more Tory in their general character, than those which he held at this time.

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My father’s tone of thought and feeling, I now felt myself at a great distance from: greater, indeed, than a full and calm explanation and reconsideration on both sides, might have shewn to exist in reality. But my father was not one with whom calm and full explanations on fundamental points of doctrine could be expected, at least with one whom he might consider as, in some sort, a deserter from his standard. Fortunately we were almost always in strong agreement on the political questions of the day, which engrossed a large part of his interest and of his conversation. On those matters of opinion on which we differed, we talked little. He knew that the habit of thinking for myself, which his mode of education had fostered, sometimes led me to opinions different from his, and he perceived from time to time that I did not always tell him how different. I expected no good, but only pain to both of us, from discussing our differences: and I never expressed them but when he gave utterance to some opinion or feeling repugnant to mine, in a manner which would have made it disingenuousness on my part to remain silent.

It remains to speak of what I wrote during these years, which, independently of my contributions to newspapers, was considerable. In 1830 and 1831 I wrote the five Essays since published under the title of Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy, almost as they now stand, except that in 1833 I partially rewrote the fifth Essay.[*] They were written with no immediate purpose of publication; and when, some years later, I offered them to a publisher, he declined them. They were only printed in 1844, after the success of the System of Logic. I also resumed my speculations on this last subject, and puzzled myself, like others before me, with the great paradox of the discovery of new truths by general reasoning. As to the fact, there could be no doubt. As little could it be doubted, that all reasoning is resolvable into syllogisms, and that in every syllogism the conclusion is actually contained and implied in the premises. How, being so contained and implied, it could be new truth, and how the theorems of geometry, so different, in appearance, from the definitions and axioms, could be all contained in these, was a difficulty which no one, I thought, had sufficiently felt, and which at all events no one had succeeded in clearing up. The explanations offered by Whately and others, though they might give a temporary satisfaction, always, in my mind, left a mist still hanging over the subject. At last, when reading a second or third time the chapters on Reasoning in the second volume of Dugald Stewart,[†] interrogating myself on every point, and following out as far as I knew how, every topic of thought which the book suggested, I came upon an idea of his respecting the use of axioms in ratiocination, which I did not remember to have before Edition: current; Page: [191] noticed, but which now, in meditating on it, seemed to me not only true of axioms, but of all general propositions whatever, and to be the key of the whole perplexity. From this germ grew the theory of the Syllogism propounded in the second Book of the Logic; which I immediately fixed by writing it out. And now, with greatly increased hope of being able to produce a work on Logic, of some originality and value, I proceeded to write the First Book, from the rough and imperfect draft I had already made. What I now wrote became the basis of that part of the subsequent Treatise; except that it did not contain the Theory of Kinds, which was a later addition, suggested by otherwise inextricable difficulties which met me in my first attempt to work out the subject of some of the concluding chapters of the Third Book. At the point which I have now reached I made a halt, which lasted five years. I had come to the end of my tether; I could make nothing satisfactory of Induction, at this time. I continued to read any book which seemed to promise light on the subject, and appropriated, as well as I could, the results; but for a long time I found nothing which seemed to open to me any very important vein of meditation.

In 1832 I wrote several papers for the first series of Tait’s Magazine,[*] and one for a quarterly periodical called the Jurist,[†] which had been founded and for a short time carried on by a set of friends, all lawyers and law reformers, with several of whom I was acquainted. The paper in question is the one on the rights and duties of the State respecting Corporation and Church Property, now standing first among the collected Dissertations and Discussions;[‡] where one of my articles in Tait, “The Currency Juggle,” also appears.[§] In the whole mass of what I wrote previous to these, there is nothing of sufficient permanent value to justify reprinting. The paper in the Jurist, which I still think a very complete discussion of the rights of the State over Foundations, shewed both sides of my opinions, asserting as firmly as I should have done at any time, the doctrine that all endowments are national property, which the government may and ought to control: but not, as I should once have done, condemning endowments in themselves, and proposing that they should be taken to pay off the national debt. On the contrary, I urged strenuously the importance of having a provision for education, not dependent on the mere demand of the market, that is, on the knowledge and discernment of average parents, but calculated to establish and keep up a higher standard of instruction than is likely to be spontaneously demanded by the buyers of the article. All these opinions have been confirmed and strengthened by the whole course of my subsequent reflections.

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CHAPTER VI: Commencement of the Most Valuable Friendship of My Life. My Father’s Death. Writings and Other Proceedings up to 1840

it was at the period of my mental progress which I have now reached that I formed the friendship which has been the honour and chief blessing of my existence, as well as the source of a great part of all that I have attempted to do, or hope to effect hereafter, for human improvement. My first introduction to the lady who, after a friendship of twenty years, consented to become my wife, was in 1830, when I was in my twenty-fifth and she in her twenty-third year. With her husband’s family it was the renewal of an old acquaintanceship. His grandfather lived in the next house to my father’s in Newington Green, and I had sometimes when a boy been invited to play in the old gentleman’s garden. He was a fine specimen of the old Scotch puritan; stern, severe, and powerful, but very kind to children, on whom such men make a lasting impression. Although it was years after my introduction to Mrs. Taylor before my acquaintance with her became at all intimate or confidential, I very soon felt her to be the most admirable person I had ever known. It is not to be supposed that she was, or that any one, at the age at which I first saw her, could be, all that she afterwards became. Least of all could this be true of her, with whom self-improvement, progress in the highest and in all senses, was a law of her nature; a necessity equally from the ardour with which she sought it, and from the spontaneous tendency of faculties which could not receive an impression or an experience without making it the source or the occasion of an accession of wisdom. Up to the time when I first saw her, her rich and powerful nature had chiefly unfolded itself according to the received type of feminine genius. To her outer circle she was a beauty and a wit, with an air of natural distinction, felt by all who approached her: to the inner, a woman of deep and strong feeling, of penetrating and intuitive intelligence, and of an eminently meditative and poetic nature. Married at a very early age, to a most upright, brave, and honourable man, of liberal opinions and good education, but without the intellectual or artistic tastes which would have made him a companion for her—though Edition: current; Page: [195] a steady and affectionate friend, for whom she had true esteem and the strongest affection through life, and whom she most deeply lamented when dead; shut out by the social disabilities of women from any adequate exercise of her highest faculties in action on the world without; her life was one of inward meditation, varied by familiar intercourse with a small circle of friends, of whom one only (long since deceased)[*] was a person of genius, or of capacities of feeling or intellect kindred with her own, but all had more or less of alliance with her in sentiments and opinions. Into this circle I had the good fortune to be admitted, and I soon perceived that she possessed in combination, the qualities which in all other persons whom I had known I had been only too happy to find singly. In her, complete emancipation from every kind of superstition (including that which attributes a pretended perfection to the order of nature and the universe), and an earnest protest against many things which are still part of the established constitution of society, resulted not from the hard intellect but from strength of noble and elevated feeling, and coexisted with a highly reverential nature. In general spiritual characteristics, as well as in temperament and organisation, I have often compared her, as she was at this time, to Shelley: but in thought and intellect, Shelley, so far as his powers were developed in his short life, was but a child compared with what she ultimately became. Alike in the highest regions of speculation and in the smallest practical concerns of daily life, her mind was the same perfect instrument, piercing to the very heart and marrow of the matter; always seizing the essential idea or principle. The same exactness and rapidity of operation, pervading as it did her sensitive as well as her mental faculties, would with her gifts of feeling and imagination have fitted her to be a consummate artist, as her fiery and tender soul and her vigorous eloquence would certainly have made her a great orator, and her profound knowledge of human nature and discernment and sagacity in practical life, would in the times when such a carrière was open to women, have made her eminent among the rulers of mankind. Her intellectual gifts did but minister to a moral character at once the noblest and the best balanced which I have ever met with in life. Her unselfishness was not that of a taught system of duties, but of a heart which thoroughly identified itself with the feelings of others, and often went to excess in consideration for them, by imaginatively investing their feelings with the intensity of its own. The passion of justice might have been thought to be her strongest feeling, but for her boundless generosity, and a lovingness ever ready to pour itself forth upon any or all human beings who were capable of giving the smallest feeling in return. The rest of her moral characteristics were such as naturally accompany these qualities of mind and heart: the most genuine modesty combined with the loftiest pride; a simplicity and sincerity which were absolute, towards all who were fit to receive them; the utmost scorn of whatever was mean and cowardly, and a burning indignation at everything brutal or tyrannical, faithless or dishonorable in conduct and character; while making the broadest Edition: current; Page: [197] distinction between mala in se and mere mala prohibita[*]—between acts giving evidence of intrinsic badness in feeling and character, and those which are only violations of conventions either good or bad, violations which whether in themselves right or wrong, are capable of being committed by persons in every other respect loveable or admirable.

To be admitted into any degree of mental intercourse with a being of these qualities, could not but have a most beneficial influence on my developement; though the effect was only gradual, and many years elapsed before her mental progress and mine went forward in the complete companionship they at last attained. The benefit I received was far greater than any which I could hope to give; though to her, who had at first reached her opinions by the moral intuition of a character of strong feeling, there was doubtless help as well as encouragement to be derived from one who had arrived at many of the same results by study and reasoning: and in the rapidity of her intellectual growth, her mental activity, which converted everything into knowledge, doubtless drew from me, as it did from other sources, many of its materials. What I owe, even intellectually, to her, is, in its detail, almost infinite; of its general character, a few words will give some, though a very imperfect, idea. With those who, like all the best and wisest of mankind, are dissatisfied with human life as it is, and whose feelings are wholly identified with its radical amendment, there are two main regions of thought. One is the region of ultimate aims; the constituent elements of the highest realizable ideal of human life. The other is that of the immediately useful and practically attainable. In both these departments I have acquired more from her teaching, than from all other sources taken together. And, to say truth, it is in these two extremes principally, that real certainty lies. My own strength lay wholly in the uncertain and slippery intermediate region, that of theory, or moral and political science: respecting the conclusions of which, in any of the forms in which I have received or originated them, whether as political economy, analytic psychology, logic, philosophy of history, or anything else, it is not the least of my intellectual obligations to her that I have derived from her a wise scepticism, which, while it has not hindered me from following out the honest exercise of my thinking faculties to whatever conclusions might result from it, has put me on my guard against holding or announcing those conclusions with a degree of confidence which the nature of such speculations does not warrant, and has kept my mind not only open to admit, but prompt to welcome and eager to seek, even on the questions on which I have most meditated, any prospect of clearer perceptions and better evidence. I have often received praise, which in my own right I only partially deserve, for the greater practicality which is supposed to be found in my writings, compared with those of most thinkers who have been equally addicted to large generalizations. The Edition: current; Page: [199] writings in which this quality has been observed, were not the work of one mind, but of the fusion of two, one of them as preeminently practical in its judgments and perceptions of things present, as it was high and bold in its anticipations for a remote futurity.

At the present period, however, this influence was only one among many which were helping to shape the character of my future development: and even after it became, I may truly say, the presiding principle of my mental progress, it did not alter the path, but only made me move forward more boldly and at the same time more cautiously in the same course. The only actual revolution which has ever taken place in my modes of thinking, was already complete. My new tendencies had to be confirmed in some respects, moderated in others: but the only substantial changes of opinion that were yet to come, related to politics, and consisted, on one hand, in a greater approximation, so far as regards the ultimate prospects of humanity, to a qualified Socialism, and on the other, a shifting of my political ideal from pure democracy, as commonly understood by its partisans, to the modified form of it, which is set forth in my Considerations on Representative Government.[*]

This last change, which took place very gradually, dates its commencement from my reading, or rather study, of M. de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America,[†] which fell into my hands immediately after its first appearance. In that remarkable work, the excellencies of Democracy were pointed out in a more conclusive, because a more specific manner than I had ever known them to be even by the most enthusiastic democrats; while the specific dangers which beset Democracy, considered as the government of the numerical majority, were brought into equally strong light, and subjected to a masterly analysis, not as reasons for Edition: current; Page: [201] resisting what the author considered as an inevitable result of human progress, but as indications of the weak points of popular government, the defences by which it needs to be guarded, and the correctives which must be added to it in order that while full play is given to its beneficial tendencies, those which are of a different nature may be neutralized or mitigated. I was now well prepared for speculations of this character, and from this time onward my own thoughts moved more and more in the same channel, though the consequent modifications in my practical political creed were spread over many years, as would be shewn by comparing my first review of Democracy in America, written and published in 1835,[*] with the one in 1840 (reprinted in the Dissertations),[†] and this last, with the Considerations on Representative Government.

A collateral subject on which also I derived great benefit from the study of Tocqueville, was the fundamental question of Centralization.[‡] The powerful philosophic analysis which he applied to American and to French experience, led him to attach the utmost importance to the performance of as much of the collective business of society, as can safely be so performed, by the people themselves, without any intervention of the executive government, either to supersede their agency, or to dictate the manner of its exercise. He viewed this practical political activity of the individual citizen, not only as one of the most effectual means of training the social feelings and practical intelligence of the people, so important in themselves and so indispensable to good government, but also as the specific counteractive to some of the characteristic infirmities of Democracy, and a necessary protection against its degenerating into the only despotism of which in the modern world there is real danger—the absolute rule of the head of the executive over a congregation of isolated individuals, all equals but all slaves. There was, indeed, no immediate peril from this source on the British side of the channel, where nine tenths of the internal business which elsewhere devolves on the government, was transacted by agencies independent of it; where Centralization was, and is, the subject not only of rational disapprobation, but of unreasoning prejudice; where jealousy of Government interference was a blind feeling preventing or resisting even the most beneficial exertion of legislative authority to correct the abuses of what pretends to be local self-government, but is, too often, selfish mismanagement of local interests, by a jobbing and borné local oligarchy. But the more certain the public were to go wrong on the side opposed to Centralization, the greater danger was there lest philosophic reformers should fall into the contrary error, and overlook the mischiefs of which they had been spared the painful experience. I was myself, at this very time, actively engaged in defending important Edition: current; Page: [203] measures, such as the great Poor Law Reform of 1834,[*] against an irrational clamour grounded on the Anti-Centralization prejudice: and had it not been for the lessons of Tocqueville, I do not know that I might not, like many reformers before me, have been hurried into the excess opposite to that which, being the one prevalent in my own country, it was generally my business to combat. As it is, I have steered carefully between the two errors, and whether I have or have not drawn the line between them exactly in the right place, I have at least insisted with equal emphasis upon the evils on both sides, and have made the means of reconciling the advantages of both, a subject of serious study.

In the meanwhile had taken place the election of the first Reformed Parliament, which included several of the most notable of my Radical friends and acquaintances; Grote, Roebuck, Buller, Sir William Molesworth, John and Edward Romilly, and several more; besides Warburton, Strutt, and others, who were in parliament already. Those who thought themselves, and were called by their friends, the philosophic radicals, had now, it seemed, a fair opportunity, in a more advantageous position than they had ever before occupied, for shewing what was in them; and I, as well as my father, founded great hopes on them. These hopes were destined to be disappointed. The men were honest, and faithful to their opinions, as far as votes were concerned; often in spite of much discouragement. When measures were proposed, flagrantly at variance with their principles, such as the Irish Coercion Bill, or the Canada coercion in 1837,[†] they came forward manfully, and braved any amount of hostility and prejudice rather than desert the right. But on the whole they did very little to promote any opinions; they had little enterprise, little activity: they left the lead of the radical portion of the House to the old hands, to Hume and O’Connell. A partial exception must be made in favour of one or two of the younger men; and in the case of Roebuck, it is his title to permanent remembrance, that in the very first year during which he sat in Parliament he originated (or reoriginated after the unsuccessful attempt of Mr. Brougham) the parliamentary movement for National Education;[‡] and that he was the first to commence, and for years carried on almost alone, the contest for the self-government of the Colonies. Nothing, on the whole equal to these two things, was done by any other individual, even of those from whom most was expected. And now, on a calm retrospect, I can perceive that the men were less in fault than we supposed, and that we had expected too much from them. They were in unfavourable circumstances. Their lot was cast in the ten years of inevitable reaction, when the Reform excitement being over, and the few legislative improvements which the public really called for having been rapidly effected, power Edition: current; Page: [205] gravitated back in its natural direction, to those who were for keeping things as they were; when the public mind desired rest, and was less disposed than at any other period since the peace, to let itself be moved by attempts to work up the reform feeling into fresh activity in favour of new things. It would have required a great political leader, which no one is to be blamed for not being, to have effected really great things by parliamentary discussion when the nation was in this mood. My father and I had hoped that some competent leader might arise; some man of philosophic attainments and popular talents, who could have put heart into the many younger or less distinguished men that would have been ready to join him—could have made them available, to the extent of their talents, in bringing advanced ideas before the public—could have used the House of Commons as a rostra or a teacher’s chair for instructing and impelling the public mind; and would either have forced the Whigs to receive their measures from him, or have taken the lead of the Reform party out of their hands. Such a leader there would have been, if my father had been in Parliament. For want of such a man, the instructed Radicals sank into a mere côté gauche of the Whig party. With a keen, and as I now think, an exaggerated sense of the possibilities which were open to the Radicals if they made even ordinary exertion for their opinions, I laboured from this time till 1839, both by personal influence with some of them, and by writings, to put ideas into their heads and purpose into their hearts, I did some good with Charles Buller, and some with Sir William Molesworth; both of whom did valuable service, but were unhappily cut off almost in the beginning of their usefulness. On the whole, however, my attempt was vain. To have had a chance of succeeding in it, required a different position from mine. It was a task only for one who, being himself in Parliament, could have mixed with the radical members in daily consultation, could himself have taken the initiative, and instead of urging others to lead, could have summoned them to follow.

What I could do by writing, I did. During the year 1833 I continued working in the Examiner with Fonblanque, who at that time was zealous in keeping up the fight for radicalism against the Whig ministry. During the session of 1834 I wrote comments on passing events, of the nature of newspaper articles (under the title “Notes on the Newspapers”), in the Monthly Repository,[*] a magazine conducted by Mr. Fox, well known as a preacher and political orator, and subsequently as member of parliament for Oldham; with whom I had lately become acquainted, and for whose sake chiefly I wrote in his Magazine. I contributed several other articles to this periodical, the most considerable of which (on the theory of poetry) is reprinted in the Dissertations.[†] Altogether, the writings (independently of Edition: current; Page: [207] those in newspapers) which I published from 1832 to 1834, amount to a large volume.[*] This, however, includes abstracts of several of Plato’s Dialogues, with introductory remarks, which, though not published until 1834,[†] had been written several years earlier; and which I afterwards, on various occasions, found to have been read, and their authorship known, by more people than were aware of anything else which I had written, up to that time. To complete the tale of my writings at this period, I may add that in 1833, at the request of Bulwer, who was just then completing his England and the English (a work, at that time, greatly in advance of the public mind), I wrote for him a critical account of Bentham’s philosophy, a small part of which he incorporated in his text, and printed the rest (with an honorable acknowledgment) as an Appendix.[‡] In this, along with the favorable, a part also of the unfavourable side of my estimation of Bentham’s doctrines, considered as a complete philosophy, was for the first time put into print.

But an opportunity soon offered by which, as it seemed, I might have it in my power to give more effectual aid, and at the same time, stimulus, to the “philosophic radical” party, than I had done hitherto. One of the projects occasionally talked of between my father and me, and some of the parliamentary and other Radicals who frequented his house, was the foundation of a periodical organ of philosophic radicalism, to take the place which the Westminster Review had been intended to fill: and the scheme had gone so far as to bring under discussion the pecuniary contributions which could be looked for, and the choice of an editor. Nothing however came of it for some time: but in the summer of 1834 Sir William Molesworth, himself a laborious student, and a precise and metaphysical thinker capable of aiding the cause by his pen as well as by his purse, spontaneously proposed to establish a Review, provided I would consent to be the real, if I could not be the ostensible, editor. Such a proposal was not to be refused; and the review was founded, at first under the title of the London Review, and afterwards under that of the London and Westminster, Molesworth having bought the Westminster from its proprietor General Thompson, and merged the two into one. In the years between 1834 and 1840 the conduct of this review occupied the greater part of my spare time. In the beginning, it did not, as a whole, by any means represent my Edition: current; Page: [209] opinions. I was under the necessity of conceding much to my inevitable associates. The Review was established to be the representative of the “philosophic radicals,” with most of whom I was now at issue on many essential points, and among whom I could not even claim to be the most important individual. My father’s cooperation as a writer we all deemed indispensable, and he wrote largely in it until prevented by his last illness. The subjects of his articles, and the strength and decision with which his opinions were expressed in them, made the Review at first derive its tone and colouring from him much more than from any of the other writers.[*] I could not exercise editorial control over his articles, and I was sometimes obliged to sacrifice to him portions of my own. The old Westminster Review doctrines, but little modified, thus formed the staple of the review; but I hoped, by the side of these, to introduce other ideas and another tone, and to obtain for my own shade of opinion a fair representation, along with those of other members of the party. With this end chiefly in view, I made it one of the peculiarities of the work that every article should bear an initial, or some other signature, and be held to express the opinions solely of the individual writer; the editor being only responsible for its being worth publishing, and not in conflict with the objects for which the Review was set on foot. I had an opportunity of putting in practice my scheme of conciliation between the old and the new “philosophic radicalism” by the choice of a subject for my own first contribution. Professor Sedgwick, a man of eminence in a particular walk of natural science, but who should not have trespassed into philosophy, had lately published his Discourse on the Studies of Cambridge,[†] which had as its most prominent feature an intemperate assault on analytic psychology and utilitarian ethics, in the form of an attack on Locke and Paley. This had excited great indignation in my father and others, which I thought it fully deserved. And here, I imagined, was an opportunity of at the same time repelling an unjust attack, and inserting into my defence of Hartleianism and Utilitarianism a number of the opinions which constituted my view of those subjects, as distinguished from that of my old associates. In this I partially succeeded, though my relation to my father would have made it painful to me in any case, and impossible in a review for which he wrote, to speak out my whole mind on the subject at this time.

I am, however, inclined to think that my father was not so much opposed as he Edition: current; Page: [211] seemed, to the modes of thought in which I believed myself to differ from him; that he did injustice to his own opinions by the unconscious exaggerations of an intellect emphatically polemical; and that when thinking without an adversary in view, he was willing to make room for a great portion of the truths he seemed to deny. I have frequently observed that he made large allowance in practice for considerations which seemed to have no place in his theory. His Fragment on Mackintosh, which he wrote and published about this time, although I greatly admired some parts of it, I read as a whole with more pain than pleasure; yet on reading it again, long after, I found little in the opinions it contains, but what I think in the main just; and I can even sympathize in his disgust at the verbiage of Mackintosh, though his asperity towards it went not only beyond what was judicious, but beyond what was even fair. One thing which I thought, at the time, of good augury, was the very favorable reception he gave to Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. It is true, he said and thought much more about what Tocqueville said in favour of Democracy, than about what he said of its disadvantages. Still, his high appreciation of a book which was at any rate an example of a mode of treating the question of government almost the reverse of his—wholly inductive and analytical, instead of purely ratiocinative—gave me great encouragement. He also approved of an article which I published in the first number following the junction of the two reviews, the Essay reprinted in the Dissertations under the title “Civilization”;[*] into which I threw many of my new opinions, and criticized rather emphatically the mental and moral tendencies of the time, on grounds and in a manner which I certainly had not learnt from him.

All speculation, however, on the possible future developments of my father’s opinions, and on the probabilities of permanent cooperation between him and me in the promulgation of our thoughts, was doomed to be cut short. During the whole of 1835 his health had been declining: his symptoms became unequivocally those of pulmonary consumption, and after lingering to the last stage of debility, he died on the 23rd of June 1836. Until the last few days of his life there was no apparent abatement of intellectual vigour; his interest in all things and persons that had interested him through life was undiminished, nor did the approach of death cause the smallest wavering (as in so strong and firm a mind it was impossible that it should) in his convictions on the subject of religion. His principal satisfaction, after he knew that his end was near, seemed to be the thought of what he had done to make the world better than he found it; and his chief regret in not living longer, that he had not had time to do more.

His place is an eminent one in the literary, and even in the political history of his country; and it is far from honourable to the generation which has benefitted by his worth, that he is so seldom mentioned, and, compared with men far his inferiors, so little remembered. This is probably to be ascribed mainly to two causes. In the first place, the thought of him merges too much in the deservedly superior fame of Edition: current; Page: [213] Bentham. Yet he was anything but Bentham’s mere follower or disciple. Precisely because he was himself one of the most original thinkers of his time, he was one of the earliest to appreciate and adopt the most important mass of original thought which had been produced by the generation preceding him. His mind and Bentham’s were essentially of different construction. He had not all Bentham’s high qualities, but neither had Bentham all his. It would, indeed, be ridiculous to claim for him the praise of having accomplished for mankind such splendid services as Bentham’s. He did not revolutionize—or rather create—one of the great departments of human thought. But, leaving out of the reckoning all that portion of his labours in which he benefitted by what Bentham had done, and counting only what he achieved in a province in which Bentham had done nothing, that of analytic psychology, he will be known to posterity as one of the greatest names in that most important branch of speculation, on which all the moral and political sciences ultimately rest, and will mark one of the essential stages in its progress. The other reason, which has made his fame less than he deserved, is that notwithstanding the great number of his opinions which, partly through his own efforts, have now been generally adopted, there was on the whole a marked opposition between his spirit and that of the present time. As Brutus was called the last of the Romans,[*] so was he the last of the eighteenth century: he continued its tone of thought and sentiment into the nineteenth (though not unmodified nor unimproved), partaking neither in the good nor in the bad influences of the reaction against the eighteenth century, which was the great characteristic of the first half of the nineteenth. The eighteenth century was a great age, an age of strong and brave men, and he was a fit companion for its strongest and bravest. By his writings and his personal influence he was a great centre of light to his generation. During his later years he was quite as much the head and leader of the intellectual radicals in England, as Voltaire was of the philosophes of France. It is only one of his minor merits, that he was the originator of all sound statesmanship in regard to the subject of his largest work, India. He wrote on no subject which he did not enrich with valuable thought, and excepting the Elements of Political Economy, a very useful book when first written, but which has now for some time finished its work, it will be long before any of his books will be wholly superseded, or will cease to be instructive reading to students of their subjects. In the power of influencing by mere force of mind and character, the convictions and purposes of others, and in the strenuous exertion of that power to promote freedom and progress, he left, as far as my knowledge extends, no equal among men, and but one among women.

Though acutely sensible of my own inferiority in the qualities by which he acquired his personal ascendancy, I had now to try what it might be possible for me to accomplish without him; and the Review was the instrument on which I built my chief hopes of establishing a useful influence over the liberal and democratic Edition: current; Page: [215] section of the public mind. Deprived of my father’s aid, I was also exempted from the restraints and retinences by which that aid had been purchased. I did not feel that there was any other radical writer or politician to whom I was bound to defer, further than consisted with my own opinions: and having the complete confidence of Molesworth, I resolved henceforth to give full scope to my own opinions and modes of thought, and to open the Review widely to all writers who were in sympathy with Progress as I understood it, even though I should lose by it the support of my former associates. Carlyle, consequently, became from this time a frequent writer in the Review; Sterling, soon after, an occasional one; and though each individual article continued to be the expression of the private sentiments of its writer, the general tone conformed in some tolerable degree to my opinions. For the conduct of the Review, under and in conjunction with me, I associated with myself a young Scotchman of the name of Robertson, who had some ability and information, much industry, and an active scheming head, full of devices for making the Review more saleable, and on whose capacities in that direction I founded a good deal of hope: insomuch that when Molesworth, in the beginning of 1837, became tired of carrying on the Review at a loss, and desirous of getting rid of it (he had done his part honourably, and at no small pecuniary cost), I, very imprudently for my own pecuniary interest, and very much from reliance on Robertson’s devices, determined to continue it at my own risk, until his plans should have had a fair trial. The devices were good, and I never had any reason to change my opinion of them. But I do not believe that any devices would have made a radical and democratic review defray its expenses, including a paid editor or sub editor, and a liberal payment to writers. I myself and several frequent contributors gave our labour gratuitously, as we had done for Molesworth; but the paid contributors continued to be remunerated on the usual scale of the Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews; and this could not be done from the proceeds of the sale.

In the same year, 1837, and in the midst of these occupations, I resumed the Logic. I had not touched my pen on the subject for five years, having been stopped and brought to a halt on the threshold of Induction. I had gradually discovered that what was mainly wanting, to overcome the difficulties of that branch of the subject, was a comprehensive and at the same time accurate view of the whole circle of physical science, which I feared it would take me a long course of study to acquire; since I knew not of any book, or other guide, that would spread out before me the generalities and processes of the sciences, and I apprehended that I should have no choice but to extract them for myself, as I best could, from the details. Happily for me, Dr. Whewell, early in this year, published his History of the Inductive Sciences.[*] I read it with eagerness, and found in it a considerable approximation to what I wanted. Much, if not most, of the philosophy of the work appeared open to objection; but the materials were there, for my own thoughts to work upon: and the author had given to those materials that first degree of Edition: current; Page: [217] elaboration, which so greatly facilitates and abridges the subsequent labour. I had now obtained what I had been waiting for. Under the impulse given me by the thoughts excited by Dr. Whewell, I read again Sir J. Herschel’s Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy; and I was able to measure the progress my mind had made, by the great help I now found in this work, though I had read and even reviewed it several years before with little profit.[*] I now set myself vigorously to work out the subject in thought and in writing. The time I bestowed on this had to be stolen from occupations more urgent. I had just two months to spare, at this period, in the intervals of writing for the Review. In these two months I completed the first draft of about a third, the most difficult third, of the book. What I had before written I estimate at another third, so that only one third remained. What I wrote at this time consisted of the remainder of the doctrine of Reasoning (the theory of Trains of Reasoning, and Demonstrative Science) and the greater part of the Book on Induction. When this was done, I had, as it seemed to me, untied all the really hard knots, and the completion of the book had become only a question of time. Having got thus far, I had to leave off in order to write two articles for the next number of the Review.[†] When these were written, I returned to the subject, and now for the first time fell in with Comte’s Cours de Philosophie Positive, or rather with the two volumes of it which were all that had at that time been published.[‡]

My theory of Induction was substantially completed before I knew of Comte’s book; and it is perhaps well that I came to it by a different road from his, since the consequence has been that my treatise contains, what his certainly does not, a reduction of the inductive process to strict rules and to a scientific test, such as the Syllogism is for ratiocination. Comte is always precise and profound on the methods of investigation, but he does not even attempt any exact definition of the conditions of proof: and his writings shew that he never attained a just conception of them. This, however, was specifically the problem which, in treating of Induction, I had proposed to myself. Nevertheless, I gained much from Comte, with which to enrich my chapters in the subsequent rewriting: and his book was of essential service to me in some of the parts which still remained to be thought out. As his subsequent volumes successively made their appearance, I read them with avidity, but, when he reached the subject of Social Science, with varying feelings. The fourth volume disappointed me: it contained those of his opinions on social Edition: current; Page: [219] subjects with which I most disagree. But the fifth, containing the connected view of history, rekindled all my enthusiasm; which the sixth (or concluding) volume did not materially abate. In a merely logical point of view, the only leading conception for which I am indebted to him is that of the Inverse Deductive Method, as the one chiefly applicable to the complicated subjects of History and Statistics: a process differing from the more common form of the Deductive Method in this, that instead of arriving at its conclusions by general reasoning and verifying them by specific experience (as is the natural order in the deductive branches of physical science), it obtains its generalizations by a collation of specific experience, and verifies them by ascertaining whether they are such as would follow from known general principles.[*] This was an idea entirely new to me when I found it in Comte: and but for him I might not soon (if ever) have arrived at it.

I had been long an ardent admirer of Comte’s writings before I had any communication with himself; nor did I ever, to the last, see him in the body. But for some years we were frequent correspondents, until our correspondence became controversial, and our zeal cooled.[†] I was the first to slacken correspondence; he was the first to drop it. I found, and he probably found likewise, that I could do no good to his mind, and that all the good he could do to mine, he did by his books. This would never have led to discontinuance of intercourse, if the differences between us had been on matters of simple doctrine. But they were chiefly on those points of opinion which blended in both of us with our strongest feelings, and determined the entire direction of our aspirations. I had fully agreed with him when he maintained that the mass of mankind, including even their rulers in all the practical departments of life, must, from the necessity of the case, accept most of their opinions on political and social matters, as they do on physical, from the authority of those who have bestowed more study on those subjects than they generally have it in their power to do. This lesson had been strongly impressed on me by the early work of Comte, to which I have adverted.[‡] And there was nothing in his great Treatise which I admired more than his remarkable exposition of the benefits which the nations of modern Europe have historically derived from the separation, during the middle ages, of temporal and spiritual power, and the distinct organization of the latter.[§] I agreed with him that the moral and intellectual ascendancy, once exercised by priests, must in time pass into the hands of philosophers, and will naturally do so when they become sufficiently unanimous, and in other respects worthy to possess it.[¶] But when he exaggerated this line of thought into a practical system, in which philosophers were to be organized into a kind of corporate hierarchy, invested with almost the same spiritual supremacy (though without any secular power) once possessed by the Catholic church; when I Edition: current; Page: [221] found him relying on this spiritual authority as the only security for good government, the sole bulwark against practical oppression, and expecting that by it a system of despotism in the state and despotism in the family would be rendered innocuous and beneficial; it is not surprising, that while as logicians we were nearly at one, as sociologists we could travel together no further. M. Comte lived to carry out these doctrines to their extremest consequences, by planning, in his last work, the Système de Politique Positive,[*] the completest system of spiritual and temporal despotism, which ever yet emanated from a human brain, unless possibly that of Ignatius Loyola: a system by which the yoke of general opinion, wielded by an organized body of spiritual teachers and rulers, would be made supreme over every action, and as far as is in human possibility, every thought, of every member of the community, as well in the things which regard only himself, as in those which concern the interests of others. It is but just to say that this work is a considerable improvement, in many points of feeling, over Comte’s previous writings on the same subjects: but as an accession to social philosophy, the only value it seems to me to possess consists in putting an end to the notion that no effectual moral authority can be maintained over society without the aid of religious belief; for Comte’s work recognizes no religion except that of Humanity, yet it leaves an irresistible conviction that any moral beliefs, concurred in by the community generally, may be brought to bear upon the whole conduct and lives of its individual members with an energy and potency truly alarming to think of. The book stands a monumental warning to thinkers on society and politics, of what happens when once men lose sight, in their speculations, of the value of Liberty and of Individuality.

To return to myself: the Review engrossed, for some time longer, nearly all the time I could devote to authorship, or to thinking with authorship in view. The articles from the London and Westminster Review which are reprinted in the Dissertations are scarcely a fourth part of those I wrote. In the conduct of the Review I had two principal objects. One was to free philosophic radicalism from the reproach of sectarian Benthamism. I desired, while retaining the precision of expression, the definiteness of meaning, the contempt of declamatory phrases and vague generalities, which were so honorably characteristic both of Bentham and of my father, to give a wider basis and a more free and genial character to Radical speculations; to shew that there was a Radical philosophy, better and more complete than Bentham’s, while recognizing and incorporating all of Bentham’s which is permanently valuable. In this first object I, to a certain extent, succeeded. The other thing I attempted, was to stir up the educated Radicals, in and out of Parliament, to exertion, and induce them to make themselves, what I thought by using the proper means, they might become—a powerful party capable of taking Edition: current; Page: [223] the government of the country, or at least of dictating the terms on which they should share it with the Whigs. This attempt was from the first chimerical: partly because the time was unpropitious, the Reform fervour being in its period of ebb, and the Tory influences powerfully rallying; but, still more, because, as Austin so truly said, “the country did not contain the men.” Among the Radicals in Parliament there were several qualified to be useful members of an enlightened Radical party, but none capable of forming and leading such a party. The exhortations I addressed to them found no response. One occasion did present itself when there seemed to be room for a bold and successful stroke for Radicalism. Lord Durham had left the ministry, by reason, as was thought, of their not being sufficiently liberal; he afterwards accepted from them the task of ascertaining and removing the causes of the Canadian rebellion: he had shewn a disposition to surround himself at the outset with Radical advisers; one of his earliest measures, a good measure both in intention and in effect, having been disapproved and reversed by the Government at home, he had resigned his post, and placed himself openly in a position of quarrel with the ministers. Here was a possible chief for a Radical party in the person of a man of importance, who was hated by the Tories, and had just been injured by the Whigs. Any one who had the most elementary notions of party tactics, must have attempted to make something of such an opportunity. Lord Durham was bitterly attacked from all sides, inveighed against by enemies, given up by timid friends; while those who would willingly have defended him did not know what to say. He appeared to be returning a defeated and discredited man. I had followed the Canadian events from the beginning; I had been one of the prompters of his prompters; his policy was almost exactly what mine would have been, and I was in a position to defend it. I wrote and published a manifesto in the Review, in which I took the very highest ground in his behalf, claiming for him not mere acquittal, but praise and honour.[*] Instantly a number of other writers took up the tone.[†] I believe there was a portion of truth in what Lord Durham, soon after, with polite exaggeration, said to me—that to this article might be ascribed the almost triumphal reception which he met with on his arrival in England. I believe it to have been the word in season, which, at a critical moment, does much to decide the result; the touch which determines whether a stone, set in motion at the top of an eminence, shall roll down on one side or on the other. All hopes connected with Lord Durham as a politician soon vanished; but with regard to Canadian, and generally to colonial policy, the cause was gained: Lord Durham’s Edition: current; Page: [225] report,[*] written by Charles Buller, partly under the inspiration of Wakefield, began a new era; its recommendations, extending to complete internal self-government, were in full operation in Canada within two or three years, and have been since extended to nearly all the other colonies, of European race, which have any claim to the character of important communities. And I may say that in successfully upholding the reputation of Lord Durham and his advisers at the most important moment, I contributed materially to this result.

One other case occurred during my conduct of the Review, which similarly illustrated the effect of taking a prompt initiative. I believe that the early success and reputation of Carlyle’s French Revolution, were considerably accelerated by what I wrote about it in the Review.[†] Immediately on its publication, and before the commonplace critics, all whose rules and modes of judgment it set at defiance, had time to preoccupy the public with their disapproval of it, I wrote and published a review of the book, hailing it as one of those productions of genius which are above all rules, and are a law to themselves. Neither in this case nor in that of Lord Durham do I ascribe the impression, which I think was produced by what I wrote, to any particular merit of execution: indeed, in at least one of the cases (the article on Carlyle) I do not think the execution was good. And in both instances, I am persuaded that anybody, in a position to be read, who had expressed the same opinion at the same precise time, and had made any tolerable statement of the just grounds for it, would have produced the same effect. But, after the complete failure of my hopes of putting a new life into radical politics by means of the Review, I am glad to look back on these two instances of success in an honest attempt to do immediate service to things and persons that deserved it.

After the last hope of the formation of a Radical party had disappeared, it was time for me to stop the heavy expenditure of time and money which the Review cost me. It had to some extent answered my personal purpose, as a vehicle for my opinions. It had enabled me to express in print much of my altered mode of thought, and to separate myself in a marked manner from the narrower Benthamism of my early writings. This was done by the general tone of all I wrote, including various purely literary articles, but especially by the two papers (reprinted in the Dissertations) which attempted a philosophical estimate of Bentham and of Coleridge.[‡] In the first of these, while doing full justice to the merits of Bentham, I pointed out what I thought the errors and deficiencies of his philosophy. The substance of this criticism I still think perfectly just; but I have sometimes Edition: current; Page: [227] doubted whether it was right to publish it at that time. I have often felt that Bentham’s philosophy, as an instrument of progress, has been to some extent discredited before it had done its work, and that to lend a hand towards lowering its reputation was doing more harm than service to improvement. Now however when a counter-reaction appears to be setting in towards what is good in Benthamism, I can look with more satisfaction on this criticism of its defects, especially as I have myself balanced it by vindications of the fundamental principles of Bentham’s philosophy, which are reprinted along with it in the same collection.[*] In the essay on Coleridge I attempted to characterize the European reaction against the negative philosophy of the eighteenth century: and here, if the effect only of this one paper were to be considered, I might be thought to have erred by giving undue prominence to the favourable side, as I had done in the case of Bentham to the unfavourable. In both cases, the impetus with which I had detached myself from what was untenable in the doctrines of Bentham and of the eighteenth century, may have carried me, though in appearance rather than in reality, too far on the contrary side. But as far as relates to the article on Coleridge, my defence is, that I was writing for Radicals and Liberals, and it was my business to dwell most on that in writers of a different school, from the knowledge of which they might derive most improvement.

The number of the Review which contained the paper on Coleridge, was the last which was published during my proprietorship. In the spring of 1840 I made over the Review to Mr. Hickson, who had been a frequent and very useful unpaid contributor under my management; only stipulating that the change should be marked by a resumption of the old name, that of Westminster Review. Under that name Mr. Hickson conducted it for ten years, on the plan of dividing among contributors only the net proceeds of the Review, giving his own labour as writer and editor gratuitously. Under the difficulty in obtaining writers, which arose from this low scale of payment, it is highly creditable to him that he was able to maintain, in some tolerable degree, the character of the Review as an organ of radicalism and progress. I did not cease altogether to write for the Review, but continued to send it occasional contributions, not, however, exclusively; for the greater circulation of the Edinburgh Review induced me from this time to offer articles to it also when I had anything to say for which it appeared to be a suitable vehicle. And the concluding volumes of Democracy in America having just then come out, I inaugurated myself as a contributor to the Edinburgh by the article on that work, which heads the second volume of the Dissertations.[†]

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CHAPTER VII: General View of the Remainder of My Life

from this time, what is worth relating of my life will come into a very small compass; for I have no further mental changes to tell of, but only, as I hope, a continued mental progress; which does not admit of a consecutive history, and the results of which, if real, will be best found in my writings. I shall therefore greatly abridge the chronicle of my subsequent years.

The first use I made of the leisure which I gained by disconnecting myself from the Review, was to finish the Logic. In July and August 1838 I had found an interval in which to execute what was still undone of the original draft of the Third Book. In working out the logical theory of those laws of nature which are not laws of Causation, nor corollaries from such laws, I was led to recognize Kinds as realities in nature, and not mere distinctions for convenience; a light which I had not obtained when the First Book was written, and which made it necessary for me to modify and enlarge several chapters of that Book. The Book on Language and Classification, and the chapter on the Classification of Fallacies, were drafted in the autumn of the same year; the remainder of the work in the summer and autumn of 1840. From April following to the end of 1841, my spare time was devoted to a complete rewriting of the book from its commencement. It is in this way that all my books have been composed. They were always written at least twice over; a first draft of the entire work was completed to the very end of the subject, then the whole begun again de novo; but incorporating, in the second writing, all sentences and parts of sentences of the old draft, which appeared as suitable to my purpose as anything which I could write in lieu of them. I have found great advantages in this system of double redaction. It combines, better than any other mode of composition, the freshness and vigour of the first conception, with the superior precision and completeness resulting from prolonged thought. In my own case, moreover, I have found that the patience necessary for a careful elaboration of the details of exposition and expression, costs much less effort after the entire subject has been once gone through, and the substance of all that I find to say has in some manner, however imperfect, been got upon paper. The only thing which I am careful, in the Edition: current; Page: [231] first draft, to make as perfect as I am able, is the arrangement. If that is bad, the whole thread on which the ideas string themselves becomes twisted; thoughts placed in a wrong connexion are not expounded in a manner that suits the right, and a first draft with this original vice is next to useless as a foundation for the final treatment.

During the rewriting of the Logic, Dr. Whewell’s Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences made its appearance;[*] a circumstance fortunate for me, as it gave me what I greatly desired, a full treatment of the subject by an antagonist, and enabled me to present my ideas with greater clearness and emphasis as well as fuller and more varied development, in defending them against definite objections, and confronting them distinctly with an opposite theory. The controversies with Dr. Whewell, as well as much matter derived from Comte, were first introduced into the book in the course of the rewriting.

At the end of 1841, the book being ready for press, I offered it to Murray, who kept it until too late for publication that season, and then refused it, for reasons which could just as well have been given at first. But I have had no cause to regret a rejection which led to my offering it to Mr. Parker, by whom it was published in the spring of 1843. My original expectations of success were extremely limited. Archbishop Whately had indeed rehabilitated the name of Logic, and the study of the forms, rules, and fallacies of Ratiocination; and Dr. Whewell’s writings had begun to excite an interest in the other part of my subject, the theory of Induction. A treatise, however, on a matter so abstract, could not be expected to be popular; it could only be a book for students, and students on such subjects were not only (at least in England) few, but addicted chiefly to the opposite school of metaphysics, the ontological and “innate principles” school. I therefore did not expect that the book would have many readers, or approvers; and looked for little practical effect from it, save that of keeping the tradition unbroken of what I thought a better philosophy. What hopes I had of exciting any immediate attention, were mainly grounded on the polemical propensities of Dr. Whewell; who, I thought, from observation of his conduct in other cases, would probably do something to bring the book into notice, by replying, and that promptly, to the attack on his opinions. He did reply, but not till 1850,[†] just in time for me to answer him in the third edition.[‡] How the book came to have, for a work of the kind, so much success, and what sort of persons compose the bulk of those who have bought, I will not venture to say read, it, I have never thoroughly understood. But taken in conjunction Edition: current; Page: [233] with the many proofs which have since been given of a revival of speculation, speculation too of a free kind, in many quarters, and above all (where at one time I should have least expected it) in the Universities, the fact becomes partially intelligible. I have never indulged the illusion that the book had made any considerable impression on philosophical opinion. The German, or à priori view of human knowledge, and of the knowing faculties, is likely for some time longer (though it may be hoped in a diminishing degree) to predominate among those who occupy themselves with such enquiries, both here and on the Continent. But the System of Logic supplies what was much wanted, a text-book of the opposite doctrine—that which derives all knowledge from experience, and all moral and intellectual qualities principally from the direction given to the associations. I make as humble an estimate as anybody of what either an analysis of logical processes, or any possible canons of evidence, can do by themselves, towards guiding or rectifying the operations of the understanding. Combined with other requisites, I certainly do think them of great use; but whatever may be the practical value of a true philosophy of these matters, it is hardly possible to exaggerate the mischiefs of a false one. The notion that truths external to the mind may be known by intuition or consciousness, independently of observation and experience, is, I am persuaded, in these times, the great intellectual support of false doctrines and bad institutions. By the aid of this theory, every inveterate belief and every intense feeling, of which the origin is not remembered, is enabled to dispense with the obligation of justifying itself by reason, and is erected into its own all-sufficient voucher and justification. There never was such an instrument devised for consecrating all deep seated prejudices. And the chief strength of this false philosophy in morals, politics, and religion, lies in the appeal which it is accustomed to make to the evidence of mathematics and of the cognate branches of physical science. To expel it from these, is to drive it from its stronghold: and because this had never been effectually done, the intuitive school, even after what my father had written in his Analysis of the Mind, had in appearance, and as far as published writings were concerned, on the whole the best of the argument. In attempting to clear up the real nature of the evidence of mathematical and physical truths, the System of Logic met the intuition philosophers on ground on which they had previously been deemed unassailable; and gave its own explanation, from experience and association, of that peculiar character of what are called necessary truths, which is adduced as proof that their evidence must come from a deeper source than experience. Whether this has been done effectually, is still sub judice; and even then, to deprive a mode of thought so strongly rooted in human prejudices and partialities, of its mere speculative support, goes but a very little way towards overcoming it; but though only a step, it is a quite indispensable one; for since, Edition: current; Page: [235] after all, prejudice can only be successfully combated by philosophy, no way can really be made against it permanently until it has been shewn not to have philosophy on its side.

Being now released from any active concern in temporary politics, and from any literary occupation involving personal communication with contributors and others, I was enabled to indulge the inclination, natural to thinking persons when the age of boyish vanity is once past, for limiting my own society to a very few persons. General society, as now carried on in England, is so insipid an affair, even to the persons who make it what it is, that it is kept up for any reason rather than the pleasure it affords. All serious discussion on matters on which opinions differ, being considered ill bred, and the national deficiency in liveliness and sociability having prevented the cultivation of the art of talking agreeably on trifles, in which the French of the last century so much excelled, the sole attraction of what is called society to those who are not at the top of the tree, is the hope of being aided to climb a little higher in it; while to those who are already at the top, it is chiefly a compliance with custom, and with the supposed requirements of their station. To a person of any but a very common order in thought or feeling, such society, unless he has personal objects to serve by it, must be supremely unattractive: and most people, in the present day, of any really high class of intellect, make their contact with it so slight, and at such long intervals, as to be almost considered as retiring from it altogether. Those persons of any mental superiority who do otherwise, are, almost without exception, greatly deteriorated by it. Not to mention loss of time, the tone of their feelings is lowered: they become less in earnest about those of their opinions respecting which they must remain silent in the society they frequent: they come to look upon their most elevated objects as unpractical, or, at least, too remote from realization to be more than a vision, or a theory; and if, more fortunate than most, they retain their higher principles unimpaired, yet with respect to the persons and affairs of their own day they insensibly adopt the modes of feeling and judgment in which they can hope for sympathy from the company they keep. A person of high intellect should never go into unintellectual society unless he can enter it as an apostle; yet he is the only person with high objects, who can safely enter it at all. Persons even of intellectual aspirations had much better, if they can, make their habitual associates of at least their equals, and as far as possible, their superiors, in knowledge, intellect, and elevation of sentiment. Moreover, if the Edition: current; Page: [237] character is formed, and the mind made up, on the few cardinal points of human opinion, agreement of conviction and feeling on these, has been felt in all times to be an essential requisite of anything worthy the name of friendship, in a really earnest mind. All these circumstances united, made the number very small of those whose society, and still more whose intimacy, I now voluntarily sought.

Among these, by far the principal was the incomparable friend of whom I have already spoken. At this period she lived mostly, with one young daughter, in a quiet part of the country, and only occasionally in town, with her first husband, Mr. Taylor. I visited her equally in both places; and was greatly indebted to the strength of character which enabled her to disregard the false interpretations liable to be put on the frequency of my visits to her while living generally apart from Mr. Taylor, and on our occasionally travelling together, though in all other respects our conduct during those years gave not the slightest ground for any other supposition than the true one, that our relation to each other at that time was one of strong affection and confidential intimacy only. For though we did not consider the ordinances of society binding on a subject so entirely personal, we did feel bound that our conduct should be such as in no degree to bring discredit on her husband, nor therefore on herself.

In this third period (as it may be termed) of my mental progress, which now went hand in hand with hers, my opinions gained equally in breadth and depth. I understood more things, and those which I had understood before, I now understood more thoroughly. I had now completely turned back from what there had been of excess in my reaction against Benthamism. I had, at the height of that reaction, certainly become much more indulgent to the common opinions of society and the world, and more willing to be content with seconding the superficial improvement which had begun to take place in those common opinions, than became one whose convictions, on so many points, differed fundamentally from them. I was much more inclined, than I can now approve, to put in abeyance the more decidedly heretical part of my opinions, which I now look upon as almost Edition: current; Page: [239] the only ones, the assertion of which tends in any way to regenerate society. But in addition to this, our opinions were now far more heretical than mine had been in the days of my most extreme Benthamism. In those days I had seen little further than the old school of political economists into the possibilities of fundamental improvement in social arrangements. Private property as now understood, and inheritance, appeared to me as to them, the dernier mot of legislation: and I looked no further than to mitigating the inequalities consequent on these institutions, by getting rid of primogeniture and entails. The notion that it was possible to go further than this in removing the injustice—for injustice it is whether admitting of a complete remedy or not—involved in the fact that some are born to riches and the vast majority to poverty, I then reckoned chimerical; and only hoped that by universal education, leading to voluntary restraint on population, the portion of the poor might be made more tolerable. In short, I was a democrat, but not the least of a Socialist. We were now much less democrats than I had been, because so long as education continues to be so wretchedly imperfect, we dreaded the ignorance and especially the selfishness and brutality of the mass: but our ideal of ultimate improvement went far beyond Democracy, and would class us decidedly under the general designation of Socialists. While we repudiated with the greatest energy that tyranny of society over the individual which most Socialistic systems are supposed to involve, we yet looked forward to a time when society will no longer be divided into the idle and the industrious; when the rule that they who do not work shall not eat, will be applied not to paupers only, but impartially to all; when the division of the produce of labour, instead of depending, as in so great a degree it now does, on the accident of birth, will be made by concert, on an acknowledged principle of justice; and when it will no longer either be, or be thought to be, impossible for human beings to exert themselves strenuously in procuring benefits which are not to be exclusively their own, but to be shared with the society they belong to. The social problem of the future we considered to be, how to unite the greatest individual liberty of action, with a common ownership in the raw material of the globe, and an equal participation of all in the benefits of combined labour. We had not the presumption to suppose that we could already foresee, by what precise form of institutions these objects could most effectually be attained, or at how near or how distant a period they would become practicable. We saw clearly that to render any such social transformation either possible or desirable, an equivalent change of character must take place both in the uncultivated herd who now compose the labouring masses, and in the immense majority of their employers. Both these classes must learn by practice to labour and combine for generous, or at all events for public and social purposes, and not, as hitherto, solely for narrowly interested ones. But the capacity to do this has always existed in mankind, and is not, nor is ever likely to be, extinct. Education, habit, and the cultivation of the sentiments will make a common man dig or weave for his country, as readily as fight for his country. True enough, it is only by slow degrees, Edition: current; Page: [241] and a system of culture prolonged through successive generations, that men in general can be brought up to this point. But the hindrance is not in the essential constitution of human nature. Interest in the common good is at present so weak a motive in the generality, not because it can never be otherwise, but because the mind is not accustomed to dwell on it as it dwells from morning till night on things which tend only to personal advantage. When called into activity as only self interest now is, by the daily course of life, and spurred from behind by the love of distinction and the fear of shame, it is capable of producing, even in common men, the most strenuous exertions as well as the most heroic sacrifices. The deep rooted selfishness which forms the general character of the existing state of society, is so deeply rooted, only because the whole course of existing institutions tends to foster it; modern institutions in some respects more than ancient, since the occasions on which the individual is called on to do anything for the public without receiving its pay, are far less frequent in modern life, than in the smaller commonwealths of antiquity. These considerations did not make us overlook the folly of premature attempts to dispense with the inducements of private interest in social affairs, while no substitute for them has been or can be provided: but we regarded all existing institutions and social arrangements as being (in a phrase I once heard from Austin) “merely provisional,” and we welcomed with the greatest pleasure and interest all socialistic experiments by select individuals (such as the Cooperative Societies), which, whether they succeeded or failed, could not but operate as a most useful education of those who took part in them, by cultivating their capacity of acting upon motives pointing directly to the general good, or making them aware of the defects which render them and others incapable of doing so.

In the Principles of Political Economy, these opinions were promulgated, less clearly and fully in the first edition, rather more so in the second, and quite unequivocally in the third.[*] The difference arose partly from the change of times, the first edition having been written and sent to press before the French Revolution of 1848, after which the public mind became more open to the reception of novelties in opinion, and doctrines appeared moderate which would have been thought very startling a short time before. In the first edition the difficulties of Socialism were stated so strongly, that the tone was on the whole that of opposition to it. In the year or two which followed, much time was given to the study of the best Socialistic writers on the Continent, and to meditation and discussion on the whole range of topics involved in the controversy: and the result was that most of what had been written on the subject in the first edition was cancelled, and replaced by arguments and reflexions which represent a more advanced opinion.

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The Political Economy was far more rapidly executed than the Logic, or indeed than anything of importance which I had previously written. It was commenced in the autumn of 1845, and was ready for the press before the end of 1847. In this period of little more than two years there was an interval of six months during which the work was laid aside, while I was writing articles in the Morning Chronicle (which unexpectedly entered warmly into my purpose) urging the formation of peasant properties on the waste lands of Ireland.[*] This was during the period of the famine, the winter of 1846/47, when the stern necessities of the time seemed to afford a chance of gaining attention for what appeared to me the only mode of combining relief to immediate destitution with permanent improvement of the social and economical condition of the Irish people. But the idea was new and strange; there was no English precedent for such a proceeding: and the profound ignorance of English politicians and the English public concerning all social phenomena not generally met with in England (however common elsewhere) made my endeavours an entire failure. Instead of a great operation on the waste lands, and the conversion of cottiers into proprietors, Parliament passed a Poor Law[†] for maintaining them as paupers: and if the nation has not since found itself in inextricable difficulties from the joint operation of the old evils and the quack remedy, it is indebted for its deliverance to that most unexpected and surprising fact, the depopulation of Ireland, commenced by famine, and continued by emigration.

The rapid success of the Political Economy shewed that the public wanted, and were prepared for such a book. Published early in 1848, an edition of a thousand copies was sold in less than a year. Another similar edition was published in the spring of 1849; and a third, of 1250 copies, early in 1852. It was, from the first, continually cited and referred to as an authority, because it was not a book merely of abstract science, but also of application, and treated Political Economy not as a thing by itself, but as a fragment of a greater whole; a branch of Social Philosophy, so interlinked with all the other branches, that its conclusions, even in its own peculiar province, are only true conditionally, subject to interference and counteraction from causes not directly within its scope: while to the character of a practical guide it has no pretension, apart from other classes of considerations. Political Economy, in truth, has never pretended to give advice to mankind with no lights but its own; though people who knew nothing but political economy (and therefore knew that ill) have taken upon themselves to advise, and could only do so by such lights as they had. But the numerous sentimental enemies of political economy, and its still more numerous interested enemies in sentimental guise, have been very Edition: current; Page: [245] successful in gaining belief for this among other unmerited imputations against it. And the Principles having, in spite of the freedom of many of its opinions, become for the present the most popular treatise on the subject, has helped to disarm the enemies of so important a study. The amount of its worth as an exposition of the science, and the value of the different applications which it suggests, others of course must judge.

For a considerable time after this, I published no work of magnitude; though I still occasionally wrote in periodicals, and my correspondence (much of it with persons quite unknown to me) on subjects of public interest, swelled to a considerable bulk. During these years I wrote or commenced various Essays,[*] for eventual publication, on some of the fundamental questions of human and social life, with regard to several of which I have already much exceeded the severity of the Horatian precept.[†] I continued to watch with keen interest the progress of public events. But it was not, on the whole, very encouraging to me. The European reaction after 1848, and the success of an unprincipled usurper in December 1851,[‡] put an end, as it seemed, to all present hope for freedom or social improvement in France and the Continent. In England, I had seen and continued to see many of the opinions of my youth obtain general recognition, and many of the reforms in institutions, for which I had through life contended, either effected or in course of being so. But these changes had been attended with much less benefit to human well being than I should formerly have anticipated, because they had produced very little improvement in that which all real amelioration in the lot of mankind depends on, their intellectual and moral state: and it might even be questioned if the various causes of deterioration which had been at work in the meanwhile, had not more than counterbalanced the tendencies to improvement. I had learnt from experience that many false opinions may be exchanged for true ones, without in the least altering the habits of mind of which false opinions are the result. The English public, for example, are quite as raw and undiscerning on subjects of political economy since the nation has been converted to free trade, as they were before; and are still further from having acquired better habits of thought and feeling, or being in any way better fortified against error, on subjects of a more elevated character. For, though they have thrown off certain errors, the general discipline of their minds, intellectually and morally, is not altered. I am now convinced, that no great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible, until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought. The old opinions in religion, morals, and politics, are so much discredited in the Edition: current; Page: [247] more intellectual minds as to have lost the greater part of their efficacy for good, while they have still life enough in them to be a powerful obstacle to the growing up of any better opinions on those subjects. When the philosophic minds of the world can no longer believe its religion, or can only believe it with modifications amounting to an essential change of its character, a transitional period commences, of weak convictions, paralysed intellects, and growing laxity of principle, which cannot terminate until a renovation has been effected in the basis of their belief, leading to the evolution of some faith, whether religious or merely human, which they can really believe: and when things are in this state, all thinking or writing which does not tend to promote such a renovation, is of very little value beyond the moment. Since there was little in the apparent condition of the public mind, indicative of any tendency in this direction, my view of the immediate prospects of human improvement was not sanguine. More recently a spirit of free speculation has sprung up, giving a more encouraging prospect of the gradual mental emancipation of England; and, concurring with the renewal, under better auspices, of the movement for political freedom in the rest of Europe, has given to the present condition of human affairs a more hopeful aspect.

Between the time of which I have now spoken, and the present, took place the most important events of my private life. The first of these was my marriage, in April 1851, to the lady whose incomparable worth had made her friendship the greatest source to me both of happiness and of improvement, during many years in which we never expected to be in any closer relation to one another. Ardently as I should have aspired to this complete union of our lives at any time in the course of my existence at which it had been practicable, I, as much as my wife, would far rather have foregone that privilege for ever, than have owed it to the premature death of one for whom I had the sincerest respect, and she the strongest affection. That event however having taken place in July 1849, it was granted to me to derive from that evil my own greatest good, by adding to the partnership of thought, feeling, and writing which had long existed, a partnership of our entire existence. For seven and a half years that blessing was mine; for seven and a half only! I can say nothing which could describe, even in the faintest manner, what that loss was and is. But because I know that she would have wished it, I endeavour to make the best of what life I have left, and to work on for her purposes with such diminished strength as can be derived from thoughts of her, and communion with her memory.

During the years which intervened between the commencement of my married life and the catastrophe which closed it, the principal occurrences of my outward existence (unless I count as such a first attack of the family disease, and a consequent journey of more than six months for the recovery of health, in Italy, Sicily, and Greece) had reference to my position in the India House. In 1856 I was promoted to the rank of chief of the office in which I had served for upwards of thirty-three years. The appointment, that of Examiner of India Correspondence, was the highest, next to that of Secretary, in the East India Company’s home Edition: current; Page: [249] service, involving the general superintendance of all the correspondence with the Indian Governments, except the military, naval, and financial. I held this office as long as it continued to exist, being a little more than two years; after which it pleased Parliament, in other words Lord Palmerston, to put an end to the East India Company as a branch of the government of India under the Crown, and convert the administration of that country into a thing to be scrambled for by the second and third class of English parliamentary politicians. I was the chief manager of the resistance which the Company made to their own political extinction. To the letters and petitions I wrote for them,[*] and the concluding chapter of my treatise on Representative Government,[†] I must refer for my opinions on the folly and mischief of this ill-considered change. Personally I considered myself a gainer by it, as I had given enough of my life to India, and was not unwilling to retire on the liberal compensation granted. After the change was consummated, Lord Stanley, the first Secretary of State for India, made me the honorable offer of a seat in the Council, and the proposal was subsequently renewed by the Council itself, on the first occasion of its having to supply a vacancy in its own body. But the conditions of Indian government under the new system made me anticipate nothing but useless vexation and waste of effort from any participation in it: and nothing that has since happened has had any tendency to make me regret my refusal.

During the two years which immediately preceded the cessation of my official life, my wife and I were working together at the Liberty.[‡] I had first planned and written it as a short essay, in 1854. It was in mounting the steps of the Capitol, in January 1855, that the thought first arose of converting it into a volume. None of my writings have been either so carefully composed, or so sedulously corrected as this. After it had been written as usual twice over, we kept it by us, bringing it out from time to time and going through it de novo, reading, weighing and criticizing every sentence. Its final revision was to have been a work of the winter of 1858/59, the first after my retirement, which we had arranged to pass in the South of Europe. That hope and every other were frustrated by the most unexpected and bitter calamity of her death—at Avignon, on our way to Montpellier, from a sudden attack of pulmonary congestion.

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Since then, I have sought for such alleviation as my state admitted of, by the mode of life which most enabled me to feel her still near me. I bought a cottage as close as possible to the place where she is buried, and there her daughter (my fellow-sufferer and now my chief comfort) and I, live constantly during a great portion of the year. My objects in life are solely those which were hers; my pursuits and occupations those in which she shared, or sympathized, and which are indissolubly associated with her. Her memory is to me a religion, and her approbation the standard by which, summing up as it does all worthiness, I endeavour to regulate my life.

In resuming my pen some years after closing the preceding narrative, I am influenced by a desire not to leave incomplete the record, for the sake of which chiefly this biographical sketch was undertaken, of the obligations I owe to those who have either contributed essentially to my own mental development or had a direct share in my writings and in whatever else of a public nature I have done. In the preceding pages, this record, so far as it relates to my wife, is not so detailed and precise as it ought to be; and since I lost her, I have had other help, not less deserving and requiring acknowledgment.

When two persons have their thoughts and speculations completely in common; when all subjects of intellectual or moral interest are discussed between them in daily life, and probed to much greater depths than are usually or conveniently sounded in writings intended for general readers; when they set out from the same principles and arrive at their conclusions by processes pursued jointly, it is of little consequence in respect to the question of originality which of them holds the pen; the one who contributes least to the composition may contribute most to the thought; the writings which result are the joint product of both, and it must often be impossible to disentangle their respective parts and affirm that this belongs to one and that to the other. In this wide sense, not only during the years of our married life, but during many of the years of confidential friendship which preceded, all my published writings were as much her work as mine; her share in them constantly increasing as years advanced. But in certain cases, what belongs to her can be distinguished, and specially identified. Over and above the general influence which her mind had over mine, the most valuable ideas and features in these joint productions—those which have been most fruitful of important results, and have contributed most to the success and reputation of the works themselves—originated with her; were emanations from her mind, my part in them being no greater than in any of the thoughts which I found in previous writers, and made my own only by incorporating them with my own system of thought. During the greater part of my literary life I have performed the office in relation to her, which from a rather early period I had considered as the most useful part that I was qualified to take in the domain of thought, that of an interpreter of original thinkers, and mediator between them and the public; for I had always a humble opinion of my own powers as an original thinker, except in abstract science (logic, metaphysics, and the theoretic principles of political economy and politics), but thought Edition: current; Page: [253] myself much superior to most of my contemporaries in willingness and ability to learn from everybody; as I found hardly any one who made such a point of examining what was said in defence of all opinions, however new or however old, in the conviction that even if they were errors there might be a substratum of truth underneath them, and that in any case the discovery of what it was that made them plausible, would be a benefit to truth. I had, in consequence, marked out this as a sphere of usefulness in which I was under a special obligation to make myself active: the more so, as the acquaintance I had formed with the ideas of the Coleridgians, of the German thinkers, and of Carlyle, all of them fiercely opposed to the mode of thought in which I had been brought up, had convinced me that along with much error they possessed much truth, which was veiled from minds otherwise capable of receiving it by the transcendental and mystical phraseology in which they were accustomed to shut it up and from which they neither cared, nor knew how, to disengage it; and I did not despair of separating the truth from the error and expressing it in terms which would be intelligible and not repulsive to those on my own side in philosophy. Thus prepared, it will easily be believed that when I came into close intellectual communion with a person of the most eminent faculties, whose genius, as it grew and unfolded itself in thought, continually struck out truths far in advance of me, but in which I could not, as I had done in those others, detect any mixture of error, the greatest part of my mental growth consisted in the assimilation of those truths, and the most valuable part of my intellectual work was in building the bridges and clearing the paths which connected them with my general system of thought.*

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The first of my books in which her share was conspicuous was the Principles of Political Economy. The System of Logic owed little to her except in the minuter matters of composition, in which respect my writings, both great and small, have largely benefitted by her accurate and clear-sighted criticism.* The chapter of the Political Economy which has had a greater influence on opinion than all the rest, that on “the Probable Future of the Labouring Classes,”[*] is entirely due to her: in the first draft of the book, that chapter did not exist. She pointed out the need of such a chapter, and the extreme imperfection of the book without it: she was the cause of my writing it; and the more general part of the chapter, the statement and discussion of the two opposite theories respecting the proper condition of the labouring classes, was wholly an exposition of her thoughts, often in words taken from her own lips. The purely scientific part of the Political Economy I did not learn from her; but it was chiefly her influence that gave to the book that general tone by which it is distinguished from all previous expositions of Political Economy that had any pretension to being scientific, and which has made it so useful in conciliating minds which those previous expositions had repelled. This tone consisted chiefly in making the proper distinction between the laws of the Production of Wealth, which are real laws of nature, dependent on the properties of objects, and the modes of its Distribution, which, subject to certain conditions, depend on human will. The common run of political economists confuse these together, under the designation of economic laws, which they deem incapable of being defeated or modified by human effort; ascribing the same necessity to things dependent on the unchangeable conditions of our earthly existence, and to those which, being but the necessary consequences of particular social arrangements, are merely coextensive with these. Given certain institutions and customs, wages, Edition: current; Page: [257] profits, and rent will be determined by certain causes; but this class of political economists drop the indispensable presupposition, and argue that these causes must by an inherent necessity, against which no human means can avail, determine the shares which fall, in the division of the produce, to labourers, capitalists, and landlords. The Principles of Political Economy yielded to none of its predecessors in aiming at the scientific appreciation of the action of these causes, under the conditions which they presuppose; but it set the example of not treating those conditions as final. The economic generalisations which depend, not on necessities of nature but on those combined with the existing arrangements of society, it deals with only as provisional, and as liable to be much altered by the progress of social improvement. I had indeed partially learnt this view of things from the thoughts awakened in me by the speculations of the Saint-Simonians; but it was made a living principle pervading and animating the book by my wife’s promptings. This example illustrates well the general character of what she contributed to my writings. What was abstract and purely scientific was generally mine; the properly human element came from her: in all that concerned the application of philosophy to the exigencies of human society and progress, I was her pupil, alike in boldness of speculation and cautiousness of practical judgment. For, on the one hand, she was much more courageous and farsighted than without her I should have been, in anticipations of an order of things to come, in which many of the limited generalizations now so often confounded with universal principles will cease to be applicable. Those parts of my writings and especially of the Political Economy which contemplate possibilities in the future such as, when affirmed by Socialists, have in general been fiercely denied by political economists, would, but for her, either have been absent, or the suggestions would have been made much more timidly and in a more qualified form. But while she thus rendered me bolder in speculation on human affairs, her practical turn of mind, and her almost unerring estimate of practical obstacles, repressed in me all tendencies that were really visionary. Her mind invested all ideas in a concrete shape, and formed to itself a conception of how they would actually work: and her knowledge of the existing feelings and conduct of mankind was so seldom at fault, that the weak point in any unworkable suggestion seldom escaped her.*

The Liberty was more directly and literally our joint production than anything else which bears my name, for there was not a sentence of it that was not several times gone through by us together, turned over in many ways, and carefully Edition: current; Page: [259] weeded of any faults, either in thought or expression, that we detected in it. It is in consequence of this that, although it never underwent her final revision, it far surpasses, as a mere specimen of composition, anything which has proceeded from me either before or since. With regard to the thoughts, it is difficult to identify any particular part or element as being more hers than all the rest. The whole mode of thinking of which the book was the expression, was emphatically hers. But I also was so thoroughly imbued with it that the same thoughts naturally occurred to us both. That I was thus penetrated with it, however, I owe in a great degree to her. There was a moment in my mental progress when I might easily have fallen into a tendency towards over-government, both social and political; as there was also a moment when, by reaction from a contrary excess, I might have become a less thorough radical and democrat than I am. In both these points as in many others, she benefitted me as much by keeping me right where I was right, as by leading me to new truths and ridding me of errors. My great readiness and eagerness to learn from everybody, and to make room in my opinions for every new acquisition by adjusting the old and the new to one another, might, but for her steadying influence, have seduced me into modifying my early opinions too much. She was in nothing more valuable to my mental development than by her just measure of the relative importance of different considerations, which often protected me from allowing to truths I had only recently learnt to see, a more important place in my thoughts than was properly their due.

The Liberty is likely to survive longer than anything else that I have written (with the possible exception of the Logic), because the conjunction of her mind with mine has rendered it a kind of philosophic text-book of a single truth, which the changes progressively taking place in modern society tend to bring out into ever stronger relief: the importance, to man and society, of a large variety in types of character, and of giving full freedom to human nature to expand itself in innumerable and conflicting directions. Nothing can better shew how deep are the foundations of this truth, than the great impression made by the exposition of it at a time which, to superficial observation, did not seem to stand much in need of such a lesson. The fears we expressed lest the inevitable growth of social equality and of the government of public opinion should impose on mankind an oppressive yoke of uniformity in opinion and practice, might easily have appeared chimerical to those who looked more at present facts than at tendencies; for the gradual revolution that is taking place in society and institutions has thus far been decidedly favourable to the development of new opinions, and has procured for them a much more unprejudiced hearing than they previously met with. But this is a feature belonging to periods of transition, when old notions and feelings have been unsettled and no new doctrines have yet succeeded to their ascendancy. At such times people of any mental activity, having given up many of their old beliefs, and not feeling quite sure that those they still retain can stand unmodified, listen eagerly to new opinions. But this state of things is necessarily transitory: some particular body of Edition: current; Page: [260] doctrine in time rallies the majority round it, organizes social institutions and modes of action conformably to itself, education impresses this new creed upon the new generations without the mental processes that have led to it, and by degrees it acquires the very same power of compression, so long exercised by the creeds of which it has taken the place. Whether this noxious power will be exercised depends on whether mankind have by that time become aware that it cannot be exercised without stunting and dwarfing human nature. It is then that the teachings of the Liberty will have their greatest value. And it is to be feared that they will retain that value a long time.

As regards originality, it has of course no other than that which every thoughtful mind gives to its own mode of conceiving and expressing truths which are common property. The leading thought of the book is one which, though in many ages confined to insulated thinkers, mankind have probably at no time since the beginning of civilisation been entirely without. To speak only of the last few generations, it is distinctly contained in the vein of important thought respecting education and culture spread through the European mind by the labours and genius of Pestalozzi. The unqualified championship of it by Wilhelm von Humboldt[*] is referred to in the book; but he by no means stood alone in his own country. During the early part of the present century, the doctrine of the rights of individuality, and the claim of the moral nature to develope itself in its own way, was pushed by a whole school of German authors even to exaggeration; and the writings of Goethe, the most celebrated of all German authors, though not belonging to that or to any other school, are penetrated throughout by views of morals and of conduct in life, often in my opinion not defensible, but which are incessantly seeking whatever defence they admit of in the theory of the right and duty of self-development. In our own country, before the book On Liberty was written, the doctrine of Individuality had been enthusiastically asserted, in a stile of vigorous declamation sometimes reminding one of Fichte, by Mr. William Maccall, in a series of writings of which the most elaborate is entitled Elements of Individualism.[†] And a remarkable American, Mr. Warren, had framed a System of Society, on the foundation of “the Sovereignty of the Individual,” had obtained a number of followers, and had actually commenced the formation of a Village Community (whether it now exists I know not) which, though bearing a superficial resemblance to some of the projects of Socialists, is diametrically opposite to them in principle, since it recognises no authority whatever in Society over the individual, except to enforce equal freedom of development for all individualities.[‡] As the book which bears Edition: current; Page: [261] my name claimed no originality for any of its doctrines, and was not intended to write their history, the only author who had preceded me in their assertion of whom I thought it appropriate to say anything, was Humboldt, who furnished the motto to the work;[*] although in one passage I borrowed from the Warrenites their phrase, the sovereignty of the individual.[†] It is hardly necessary here to remark that there are abundant differences in detail, between the conception of the doctrine by any of the predecessors I have mentioned, and that set forth in the book.

After my irreparable loss one of my earliest cares was to print and publish the treatise, so much of which was the work of her whom I had lost, and consecrate it to her memory. I have made no alteration or addition to it, nor shall I ever. Though it wants the last touch of her hand, no substitute for that touch shall ever be attempted by mine.

The political circumstances of the time induced me shortly after to complete and publish a pamphlet (Thoughts on Parliamentary Reform), part of which had been written some years previously on the occasion of one of the abortive Reform Bills[§] and had at the time been approved and revised by her. Its principal features were, hostility to the Ballot (a change of opinion in both of us, in which she rather preceded me) and a claim of representation for minorities; not however at that time going beyond the cumulative vote proposed by Mr. Garth Marshall.[¶] In finishing the pamphlet for publication with a view to the discussions on the Reform Bill of Lord Derby’s and Mr. Disraeli’s Government in 1859.[∥] I added a third feature, a plurality of votes, to be given, not to property, but to proved superiority of education. This recommended itself to me, as a means of reconciling the irresistible claim of every man or woman to be consulted, and to be allowed a voice, in the regulation of affairs which vitally concern them, with the superiority of weight justly due to opinions grounded on superiority of knowledge. The suggestion however was one which I had never discussed with my almost infallible counsellor, and I have no evidence that she would have concurred in it. As far as I have been able to observe, it has found favour with nobody; all who desire any sort of inequality in the electoral vote, desiring it in favour of property and not of intelligence or knowledge. If it ever overcomes the strong feeling which exists Edition: current; Page: [262] against it, this will only be after the establishment of a systematic National Education by which the various grades of politically valuable acquirement may be accurately defined and authenticated. Without this it will always remain liable to strong, possibly conclusive, objections; and with this, it would perhaps not be needed.

It was soon after the publication of Thoughts on Parliamentary Reform that I became acquainted with Mr. Hare’s admirable system of Personal Representation, which, in its present shape, was then for the first time published.[*] I saw in this great practical and philosophical idea, the greatest improvement of which the system of representative government is susceptible; an improvement which, in the most felicitous manner, exactly meets and cures the grand, and what before seemed the inherent, defect of the representative system; that of giving to a numerical majority all power, instead of only a power proportional to its numbers, and enabling the strongest party to exclude all weaker parties from making their opinions heard in the assembly of the nation, except through such opportunity as may be given to them by the accidentally unequal distribution of opinions in different localities. To these great evils nothing more than very imperfect palliatives had seemed possible; but Mr. Hare’s system affords a radical cure. This great discovery, for it is no less, in the political art, inspired me, as I believe it has inspired all thoughtful persons who have adopted it, with new and more sanguine hopes respecting the prospects of human society; by freeing the form of political institutions towards which the whole civilised world is manifestly and irresistibly tending, from the chief part of what seemed to qualify or render doubtful its ultimate benefits. Minorities, so long as they remain minorities, are, and ought to be, outvoted; but under arrangements which enable any assemblage of voters, amounting to a certain number, to place in the legislature a representative of its own choice, minorities cannot be suppressed. Independent opinions will force their way into the council of the nation and make themselves heard there, a thing which often cannot happen in the existing forms of representative democracy; and the legislature instead of being weeded of individual peculiarities and entirely made up of men who simply represent the creed of great political or religious parties, will comprise a large proportion of the most eminent individual minds in the country placed there without reference to party by voters who appreciate their individual eminence. I can understand that persons, otherwise intelligent, should, for want of sufficient examination, be repelled from Mr. Hare’s plan by what they think the complex nature of its machinery. But any one who does not feel the want which the scheme is intended to supply; any one who throws it over as a mere theoretical subtlety or crotchet, tending to no valuable purpose, and unworthy of the attention of practical men, may be pronounced an incompetent statesman, unequal to the politics of the future. I mean, unless he is a minister, or aspires to Edition: current; Page: [263] become one: for we are quite accustomed to a minister’s continuing to profess unqualified hostility to an improvement almost to the very day when his conscience or his interest induces him to take it up as a public measure and carry it.

Had I met with Mr. Hare’s system before the publication of my pamphlet, I should have given an account of it there. Not having done so, I wrote an article in Fraser’s Magazine (reprinted in my miscellaneous writings)[*] principally for that purpose, though I included in it, along with Mr. Hare’s book, a review of two other productions on the question of the day; one of them a pamphlet by my early friend Mr. John Austin, who had in his old age become an enemy of all further parliamentary reform; the other an able and ingenious though partially erroneous work by Mr. Lorimer.[†]

In the course of the same summer I fulfilled a duty particularly incumbent upon me, that of helping (by an article in the Edinburgh Review) to make known Mr. Bain’s profound treatise on the Mind, just then completed by the publication of its second volume.[‡] And I carried through the press a selection of my minor writings, forming the first two volumes of Dissertations and Discussions. The selection had been made during my wife’s lifetime, but the revision, in concert with her, with a view to republication, had been barely commenced; and when I had no longer the guidance of her judgment I despaired of pursuing it further, and republished the papers as they were, with the exception of striking out such passages as were no longer in accordance with my opinions. My literary work of the year terminated with an essay in Fraser’s Magazine (afterwards republished in the third volume of Dissertations and Discussions) entitled “A Few Words on Non-Intervention.”[§] I was prompted to write this paper by a desire, while vindicating England from the imputations commonly brought against her on the Continent of a peculiar selfishness in matters of foreign policy, to warn Englishmen of the colour given to this imputation by the low tone in which English statesmen are accustomed to speak of English policy as concerned only with English interests, and by the conduct of Lord Palmerston at that particular time in opposing the Suez Canal. And I took the opportunity of expressing ideas which had long been in my mind (some of them generated by my Indian experience and others by the international questions which then greatly occupied the European public) respecting the true principles of international morality and the legitimate Edition: current; Page: [264] modifications made in it by difference of times and circumstances; a subject I had already to some extent discussed in the vindication of the French Provisional Government of 1848 against the attacks of Lord Brougham and others which I published at the time in the Westminster Review and which is reprinted in the Dissertations.[*]

I had now settled, as I believed for the remainder of my existence, into a purely literary life; if that can be called literary which continued to be occupied in a preeminent degree with politics, and not merely with theoretical, but practical politics, although a great part of the year was spent at a distance of many hundred miles from the chief seat of the politics of my own country, to which, and primarily for which, I wrote. But in truth, the modern facilities of communication have not only removed all the disadvantages, to a political writer in tolerably easy circumstances, of distance from the scene of political action, but have converted them into advantages. The immediate and regular receipt of newspapers and periodicals keeps him au courant of even the most temporary politics, and gives him a much more correct view of the state and progress of opinion than he could acquire by personal contact with individuals: for every one’s social intercourse is more or less limited to particular sets or classes, whose impressions and no others reach him through that channel; and experience has taught me that those who give their time to the absorbing claims of what is called society, not having leisure to keep up a large acquaintance with the organs of opinion, remain much more ignorant of the general state either of the public mind, or of the active and instructed part of it, than a recluse who reads the newspapers need be. There are, no doubt, disadvantages in too long a separation from one’s country—in not occasionally renewing one’s impressions of the light in which men and things appear when seen from a position in the midst of them; but the deliberate judgment formed at a distance, and undisturbed by inequalities of perspective, is the most to be depended on, even for application to practice. Alternating between the two positions I combined the advantages of both. And, though the inspirer of my best thoughts was no longer with me, I was not alone: she had left a daughter—my stepdaughter, Miss Helen Taylor, the inheritor of much of her wisdom, and of all her nobleness of character, whose ever growing and ripening talents from that day to this have been devoted to the same great purposes, and have already made her name better and more widely known than was that of her mother, though far less so than I predict that if she lives, it is destined to become. Of the value of her direct cooperation with me, something will be said hereafter: of what I owe in the way of instruction to her great powers of original thought and soundness of practical judgment, it would be a vain attempt to give an adequate idea. Surely no one ever before was so fortunate, as, after such a loss as mine, to draw another such prize in the lottery of life—another companion, Edition: current; Page: [265] stimulator, adviser, and instructor of the rarest quality. Whoever, either now or hereafter, may think of me and of the work I have done, must never forget that it is the product not of one intellect and conscience but of three, the least considerable of whom, and above all the least original, is the one whose name is attached to it.

The work of the years 1860 and 1861 consisted chiefly of two treatises, only one of which was intended for immediate publication. This was the Considerations on Representative Government, a connected exposition of what, by the thoughts of many years, I had come to regard as the best form of a popular constitution. Along with as much of the general theory of government as is necessary to support this particular portion of its practice, the volume contains my matured views of the principal questions which occupy the present age, within the province of purely organic institutions, and raises by anticipation some other questions to which growing necessities will sooner or later compel the attention both of theoretical and of practical politicians. The chief of these last is the distinction between the function of making laws, for which a numerous popular assembly is radically unfit, and that of getting good laws made, which is its proper duty, and cannot be satisfactorily fulfilled by any other authority: and the consequent need of a Legislative Commission, as a permanent part of the constitution of a free country; consisting of a small number of highly trained political minds on whom, when Parliament has determined that a law shall be made, the task of making it should be devolved; Parliament retaining the power of passing or rejecting the bill when drawn up, but not of altering it otherwise than by sending proposed amendments to be dealt with by the Commission. The question here raised respecting the most important of all public functions, that of legislation, is a particular case of the great problem of modern political organization, stated I believe for the first time in its full extent by Bentham, though in my opinion not always satisfactorily resolved by him; the combination of complete popular control over public affairs with the greatest attainable perfection of skilled agency.

The other treatise written at this time is the one which was published some years later under the title of The Subjection of Women. It was written at my daughter’s suggestion that there might, in any event, be in existence a written exposition of my opinions on that great question, as full and conclusive as I could make it. The intention was to keep this among other unpublished papers, improving it from time to time if I was able, and to publish it at the time when it should seem likely to be most useful. As ultimately published it was enriched with some important ideas of my daughter’s, and passages of her writing. But in what was of my own composition, all that is most striking and profound belongs to my wife; coming from the fund of thought which had been made common to us both, by our innumerable conversations and discussions on a topic which filled so large a place in our minds.

Soon after this time I took from their repository a portion of the unpublished papers which I had written during the last years of our married life, and shaped them, with some additional matter, into the little work entitled Utilitarianism; Edition: current; Page: [266] which was first published in three parts, in successive numbers of Fraser’s Magazine, and afterwards reprinted in a volume.[*]

Before this however the state of public affairs had become extremely critical, by the commencement of the American civil war. My strongest feelings were engaged in this struggle, which, I felt from the beginning, was destined to be a turning point, for good or evil, of the course of human affairs for an indefinite duration. Having been a deeply interested observer of the Slavery quarrel in America, during the many years that preceded the open breach, I knew that it was in all its stages an aggressive enterprise of the slave owners to extend the territory of slavery; under the combined influences of pecuniary interest, domineering temper, and the fanaticism of a class for its class privileges, influences so fully and powerfully depicted in the admirable work of my friend Professor Cairnes, The Slave Power.[†] Their success, if they succeeded, would be a victory of the powers of evil which would give courage to the enemies of progress and damp the spirits of its friends all over the civilised world, while it would create a formidable military power grounded on the worst and most anti-social form of the tyranny of men over men, and by destroying for a long time the prestige of the great democratic republic would give to all the privileged classes of Europe a false confidence, probably only to be extinguished in blood. On the other hand, if the spirit of the North was sufficiently roused to carry the war to a successful termination, and if that termination did not come too soon and too easily, I foresaw, from the laws of human nature and the experience of revolutions, that when it did come it would in all probability be thorough: that the bulk of the Northern population, whose conscience had as yet been awakened only to the point of resisting the further extension of slavery, but whose fidelity to the Constitution of the United States made them disapprove of any attempt by the Federal Government to interfere with slavery in the States where it already existed, would acquire feelings of another kind when the Constitution had been shaken off by armed rebellion, would determine to have done for ever with the accursed thing, and would join their banner with that of the noble body of Abolitionists, of whom Garrison was the courageous and single minded apostle, Wendell Phillips the eloquent orator, and John Brown the voluntary martyr.* Then, too, the whole mind of the United States Edition: current; Page: [267] would be let loose from its bonds, no longer corrupted by the supposed necessity of apologising to foreigners for the most flagrant of all possible violations of the free principles of their Constitution, while the tendency of a fixed state of society to stereotype a set of national opinions would be at least temporarily checked and the national mind would become more open to the recognition of whatever was bad in either the institutions or the customs of the people. These hopes, so far as related to Slavery, have been completely, and in other respects are in course of being progressively realized. Foreseeing from the first this do