[Transcriber's note:

between brackets [ ] some fragments are included,

which are not present in all editions, mostly commentaries concerning

Mr. Mill's wife and stepdaughter (Helen Taylor)--an html ed. of this

e-text, including index is pending.]


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

recognised 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 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 burdens 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



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 inflections of the nouns and verbs, but, after

a course of vocables, proceeded at once to translation; and I faintly

remember going through Aesop'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 _Cyropaedia_ 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 Theoctetus 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 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

favourite 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 other's 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 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 Voyages, 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 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 pre-eminent, 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; 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 favourable 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 Caesar's Commentaries, but

afterwards added to the superintendence 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 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

Aeneid; all Horace, except the Epodes; the Fables of Phaedrus; 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

decade); 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 Mingault'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,

Aeschines, 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 favourite,

Hooke, and in Ferguson, continued to delight me. A book which, in

spite of what is called the dryness of its style, 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; and an Abridgment of the _Ancient Universal History_; a

History of Holland, from my favourite 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

and 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 Latin. Not that my father could be indifferent to the

value of this practice, in giving a thorough knowledge of these

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.[1] I had read, up to this time, very

little English poetry. Shakspeare 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

Shakspeare, 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 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 most 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 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 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 style 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 encyclopaedia 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



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 (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 inflections 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, _showed_ 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 proof sheets 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

criticism and disquisitions on society and civilization in the Hindoo

part, on institutions and 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.


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 would never 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

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 on 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



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 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

shows 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 these 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 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 showed 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 shown 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

  1. 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 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. 


In my education, as in that of everyone, 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 reflections 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 show that my father's rejection 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 Sabaean, or Manichaean 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 fictitious excellences--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 can 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 anyone

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

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

  1. It did not seem to me more strange that English people should believe

what I did not, than that the men I read of in Herodotus should have done

  1. 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 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, 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 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 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 ease and 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 greater 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: 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

pleasures, 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 bas 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 as 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 anyone who possesses much of both, can

fail to do. None but those who do not care about opinions will confound

this with intolerance. Those who, having opinions which they hold to be

immensely important, and their 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 donc 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

showed, 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,

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 honourable 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 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 Superintendent 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

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 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

recognised 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 to develop 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 show, 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 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 this 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. 


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 lately,

seemed as if it might easily happen again: and the most transcendent

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 analysing 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 _rédaction_ than in

the original work of 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 further,

there seemed to be added to this intellectual clearness, the most

inspiring prospects of practical improvement in human affairs. To

Bentham's general view 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 on 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 Legislation_

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 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 opinion 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

for 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.


Among the works read in the course of this year, which contributed

materially to my development, I owe it 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 shown 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 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 Lacedemonians 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 in 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 he

_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, 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 reflections. 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 spoilt 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 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 high-mindedness which did not show 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 contemporaries

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 showed 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 ascendency, 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 contemporary. 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 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 anyone 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 everything in them which tended to

consequences offensive to anyone'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 aequis_, 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 1822-3 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 anyone 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 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 honourably known by his apostolic

exertions for the improvement of education; George Graham, afterwards

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 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 anyone 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 anyone 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, 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 journeys

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 anyone, either as theorist or as practical man,

to effect the greatest amount of good compatible with his opportunities. 


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, and 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.

Colonel 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 goodwill 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 re-argue 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,

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 showed 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 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 _Château 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

favourite 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 _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 showed 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 the 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 ever been struck, in this country, for Radicalism; nor

was there, I believe, any living person capable of writing that article

except my father.[2]


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 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 of 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

extraordinary 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 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 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

unfavourable judgments passed by my father, Grote, the two Austins, and

others, were re-echoed 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 recognised _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 shown 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 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 anyone

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 headquarters 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

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

ascendency. 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 showed 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 fainthearted 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.


If 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

contemporaries 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, contemporary, 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 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 as

the interest of subjects is included in that of kings, and no more; 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 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 show 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 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

  1. 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 examples we

sought to imitate, and we hoped to accomplish no less results. No one of

the set went to so great excesses in his boyish ambition as I did; which

might be shown 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 anyone 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 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 recognising 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 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 upon me: at all events I seldom gave it an opportunity.

This, however, was a mere passive 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 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 cured me of 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 time's, 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 _lacunae_ 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 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_, etc., 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, 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 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 on 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

anyone 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, 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 over-estimated

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 founded 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 _Encyclopedia

Metropolitana_, and finally the _Computatio sive Logica_ of Hobbes.

These books, dealt with in our manner, afforded a high 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 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

Co-operative 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 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 show 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 anyone 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 Co-operative

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

warmly into the project, particularly George Villiers, after 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 Freemasons'

Tavern, and we had soon a fine 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, 1826-7, things 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 Benthamities; 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.


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 negotiation 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 favourable 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. 


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." 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

anyone 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 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

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 clear-

sightedness, 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:


   "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 idiosyncrasies 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

_Mémoires_, 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 burden 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 I 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 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 I 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 passing 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 1 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 be 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

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 showing 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

semi-tones, 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

honourable 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 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 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 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 burden on them

which I had; and I was not in a frame of mind to desire 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 I 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 connection 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 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

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 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 always 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.


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.


With Maurice I had for some time been 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 the writings of Goethe and other

German authors which I read during these 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

contemporaries. 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 anyone) are not only

consistent with the Thirty-nine Articles, but are better understood and

expressed in those Articles than by anyone 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 lovable 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 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

furchtliche 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 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 _a priori_ by way of general

reasoning, instead of Baconian experiment, showed 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 notions of philosophizing might have recognised

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 honourable 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 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 favourite of my boyhood, Thompson'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, 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 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_. 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.


  1. 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 criticisms on the common doctrines of Liberalism seemed to

me full of important 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 work, 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 the 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



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 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 burden--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 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 anyone 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 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," inquired on coming to London that autumn respecting

their authorship; an inquiry 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 suited to my mental

constitution, that I recognised 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 showing me the manuscript of

_Sartor Resartus_, his best and greatest work, which he 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.


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 a utilitarian, and, with all his love for 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 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" (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.


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 shown 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 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 had 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, showed 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 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 of my

subsequent reflections. 



It was 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 an 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 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 co-existed 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 smaller 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

dishonourable in conduct and character, while making the broadest

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 lovable 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

development; 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 these 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 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 pre-eminently 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 excellences 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

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 shown

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 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 showing 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 re-originated 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 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 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 honourable

acknowledgment), as an appendix. In this, along with the favourable,

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 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 co-operation 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 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 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 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 criticised 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 co-operation

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,

  1. 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 benefited 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

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 benefited 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 section of the public mind.

Deprived of my father's aid, I was also exempted from the restraints and

reticences 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

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 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 method

of investigation, but he does not even attempt any exact definition of

the conditions of proof: and his writings show 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 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

  1. 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 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 recognises 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 honourably

characteristic both of Bentham and of my father, to give a wider basis

and a more free and genial character to Radical speculations; to show

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 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 shown 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 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 pre-occupy 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

mediate 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 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_.


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

composition 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 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

connection 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 re-writing 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, or

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 re-writing.


At the end of 1841, the book being ready for the 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

  1. 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 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 _a 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 inquiries, 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 intuitive 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, after all, prejudice can only be successfully combated by

philosophy, no way can really be made against it permanently until it

has been shown 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 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

the only ones, the assertion of which tends in any way to regenerate

society. But in addition to this, our opinions were 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, 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; and 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 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 Co-operative 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 reflections which represent a more advanced



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



The rapid success of the _Political Economy_ showed 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

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



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 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



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.


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 more 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 here 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 myself much superior to

most of my contemporaries in willingness and ability to learn from

everybody; as I found hardly anyone 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 this out 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 exposing 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.[4]


The first of my books in which her share was conspicious 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 benefited by her accurate

and clear-sighted criticism.[5] The chapter of the _Political Econonomy_

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 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 commom 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

co-extensive with these; given certain institutions and customs, wages,

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 generalizations which depend not

on necessaties 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 St. 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 far-sighted than without her I should have been, in

anticipation 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 escapes her.[6]


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 1858-9, 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.


Since then I have sought for such allevation 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.


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 _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 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 benefited 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 show 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 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 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 had 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 civilization 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

develop 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 style 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 recognizes no

authority whatever in Society over the individual, except to enforce

equal freedom of development for all individualities. As the book which

bears 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



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 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 palliations 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 civilized 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 become one: for we are quite

accustomed to a minister 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 to all further Parliamentary

reform; the other an able and vigourous, 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 was 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 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 pre-eminent 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 prize in the

lottery of life [--another companion, 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 many 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[7] 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_; 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 civilized 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.[8] Then, too,

the whole mind of the United States would be let loose from its bonds,

no longer corrupted by the supposed necessity of apologizing 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 double set of

consequences from the success or failure of the rebellion, it may be

imagined with what feelings I contemplated the rush of nearly the whole

upper and middle classes of my own country even those who passed for

Liberals, into a furious pro-Southern partisanship: the working

classes, and some of the literary and scientific men, being almost the

sole exceptions to the general frenzy. I never before felt so keenly how

little permanent improvement had reached the minds of our influential

classes, and of what small value were the liberal opinions they had got

into the habit of professing. None of the Continental Liberals committed

the same frightful mistake. But the generation which had extorted negro

emancipation from our West India planters had passed away; another had

succeeded which had not learnt by many years of discussion and exposure

to feel strongly the enormities of slavery; and the inattention habitual

with Englishmen to whatever is going on in the world outside their own

island, made them profoundly ignorant of all the antecedents of the

struggle, insomuch that it was not generally believed in England, for

the first year or two of the war, that the quarrel was one of slavery.

There were men of high principle and unquestionable liberality of

opinion, who thought it a dispute about tariffs, or assimilated it to

the cases in which they were accustomed to sympathize, of a people

struggling for independence.


It was my obvious duty to be one of the small minority who protested

against this perverted state of public opinion. I was not the first to

protest. It ought to be remembered to the honour of Mr. Hughes and of

Mr. Ludlow, that they, by writings published at the very beginning of

the struggle, began the protestation. Mr. Bright followed in one of the

most powerful of his speeches, followed by others not less striking. I

was on the point of adding my words to theirs, when there occurred,

towards the end of 1861, the seizure of the Southern envoys on board a

British vessel, by an officer of the United States. Even English

forgetfulness has not yet had time to lose all remembrance of the

explosion of feeling in England which then burst forth, the expectation,

prevailing for some weeks, of war with the United States, and the

warlike preparations actually commenced on this side. While this state

of things lasted, there was no chance of a hearing for anything

favourable to the American cause; and, moreover, I agreed with those who

thought the act unjustifiable, and such as to require that England

should demand its disavowal. When the disavowal came, and the alarm of

war was over, I wrote, in January, 1862, the paper, in _Fraser's

Magazine_, entitled "The Contest in America," [and I shall always feel

grateful to my daughter that her urgency prevailed on me to write it

when I did, for we were then on the point of setting out for a journey

of some months in Greece and Turkey, and but for her, I should have

deferred writing till our return.] Written and published when it was,

this paper helped to encourage those Liberals who had felt overborne by

the tide of illiberal opinion, and to form in favour of the good cause a

nucleus of opinion which increased gradually, and, after the success of

the North began to seem probable, rapidly. When we returned from our

journey I wrote a second article, a review of Professor Cairnes' book,

published in the _Westminster Review_. England is paying the penalty, in

many uncomfortable ways, of the durable resentment which her ruling

classes stirred up in the United States by their ostentatious wishes for

the ruin of America as a nation; they have reason to be thankful that a

few, if only a few, known writers and speakers, standing firmly by the

Americans in the time of their greatest difficulty, effected a partial

diversion of these bitter feelings, and made Great Britain not

altogether odious to the Americans.


This duty having been performed, my principal occupation for the next

two years was on subjects not political. The publication of Mr. Austin's

_Lectures on Jurisprudence_ after his decease, gave me an opportunity of

paying a deserved tribute to his memory, and at the same time expressing

some thoughts on a subject on which, in my old days of Benthamism, I had

bestowed much study. But the chief product of those years was the

_Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy_. His _Lectures_,

published in 1860 and 1861, I had read towards the end of the latter

year, with a half-formed intention of giving an account of them in a

Review, but I soon found that this would be idle, and that justice could

not be done to the subject in less than a volume. I had then to consider

whether it would be advisable that I myself should attempt such a

performance. On consideration, there seemed to be strong reasons for

doing so. I was greatly disappointed with the _Lectures_. I read them,

certainly, with no prejudice against Sir William Hamilton. I had up to

that time deferred the study of his _Notes to Reid_ on account of their

unfinished state, but I had not neglected his _Discussions in

Philosophy_; and though I knew that his general mode of treating the

facts of mental philosophy differed from that of which I most approved,

yet his vigorous polemic against the later Transcendentalists, and his

strenuous assertion of some important principles, especially the

Relativity of human knowledge, gave me many points of sympathy with his

opinions, and made me think that genuine psychology had considerably

more to gain than to lose by his authority and reputation. His

_Lectures_ and the _Dissertations on Reid_ dispelled this illusion: and

even the _Discussions_, read by the light which these throw on them,

lost much of their value. I found that the points of apparent agreement

between his opinions and mine were more verbal than real; that the

important philosophical principles which I had thought he recognised,

were so explained away by him as to mean little or nothing, or were

continually lost sight of, and doctrines entirely inconsistent with them

were taught in nearly every part of his philosophical writings. My

estimation of him was therefore so far altered, that instead of

regarding him as occupying a kind of intermediate position between the

two rival philosophies, holding some of the principles of both, and

supplying to both powerful weapons of attack and defence, I now looked

upon him as one of the pillars, and in this country from his high

philosophical reputation the chief pillar, of that one of the two which

seemed to me to be erroneous.


Now, the difference between these two schools of philosophy, that of

Intuition, and that of Experience and Association, is not a mere matter

of abstract speculation; it is full of practical consequences, and lies

at the foundation of all the greatest differences of practical opinion

in an age of progress. The practical reformer has continually to demand

that changes be made in things which are supported by powerful and

widely-spread feelings, or to question the apparent necessity and

indefeasibleness of established facts; and it is often an indispensable

part of his argument to show, how those powerful feelings had their

origin, and how those facts came to seem necessary and indefeasible.

There is therefore a natural hostility between him and a philosophy

which discourages the explanation of feelings and moral facts by

circumstances and association, and prefers to treat them as ultimate

elements of human nature; a philosophy which is addicted to holding up

favourite doctrines as intuitive truths, and deems intuition to be the

voice of Nature and of God, speaking with an authority higher than that

of our reason. In particular, I have long felt that the prevailing

tendency to regard all the marked distinctions of human character as

innate, and in the main indelible, and to ignore the irresistible proofs

that by far the greater part of those differences, whether between

individuals, races, or sexes, are such as not only might but naturally

would be produced by differences in circumstances, is one of the chief

hindrances to the rational treatment of great social questions, and one

of the greatest stumbling blocks to human improvement. This tendency has

its source in the intuitional metaphysics which characterized the

reaction of the nineteenth century against the eighteenth, and it is a

tendency so agreeable to human indolence, as well as to conservative

interests generally, that unless attacked at the very root, it is sure

to be carried to even a greater length than is really justified by the

more moderate forms of the intuitional philosophy. That philosophy not

always in its moderate forms, had ruled the thought of Europe for the

greater part of a century. My father's _Analysis of the Mind_, my own

_Logic_, and Professor Bain's great treatise, had attempted to

re-introduce a better mode of philosophizing, latterly with quite as

much success as could be expected; but I had for some time felt that the

mere contrast of the two philosophies was not enough, that there ought

to be a hand-to-hand fight between them, that controversial as well as

expository writings were needed, and that the time was come when such

controversy would be useful. Considering, then, the writings and fame of

Sir W. Hamilton as the great fortress of the intuitional philosophy in

this country, a fortress the more formidable from the imposing

character, and the in many respects great personal merits and mental

endowments, of the man, I thought it might be a real service to

philosophy to attempt a thorough examination of all his most important

doctrines, and an estimate of his general claims to eminence as a

philosopher; and I was confirmed in this resolution by observing that in

the writings of at least one, and him one of the ablest, of Sir W.

Hamilton's followers, his peculiar doctrines were made the justification

of a view of religion which I hold to be profoundly immoral--that it is

our duty to bow down in worship before a Being whose moral attributes

are affirmed to be unknowable by us, and to be perhaps extremely

different from those which, when we are speaking of our

fellow-creatures, we call by the same names.


As I advanced in my task, the damage to Sir W. Hamilton's reputation

became greater than I at first expected, through the almost incredible

multitude of inconsistencies which showed themselves on comparing

different passages with one another. It was my business, however, to

show things exactly as they were, and I did not flinch from it. I

endeavoured always to treat the philosopher whom I criticized with the

most scrupulous fairness; and I knew that he had abundance of disciples

and admirers to correct me if I ever unintentionally did him injustice.

Many of them accordingly have answered me, more or less elaborately, and

they have pointed out oversights and misunderstandings, though few in

number, and mostly very unimportant in substance. Such of those as had

(to my knowledge) been pointed out before the publication of the latest

edition (at present the third) have been corrected there, and the

remainder of the criticisms have been, as far as seemed necessary,

replied to. On the whole, the book has done its work: it has shown the

weak side of Sir William Hamilton, and has reduced his too great

philosophical reputation within more moderate bounds; and by some of its

discussions, as well as by two expository chapters, on the notions of

Matter and of Mind, it has perhaps thrown additional light on some of

the disputed questions in the domain of psychology and metaphysics.


After the completion of the book on Hamilton, I applied myself to a task

which a variety of reasons seemed to render specially incumbent upon me;

that of giving an account, and forming an estimate, of the doctrines of

Auguste Comte. I had contributed more than any one else to make his

speculations known in England, and, in consequence chiefly of what I had

said of him in my _Logic_, he had readers and admirers among thoughtful

men on this side of the Channel at a time when his name had not yet in

France emerged from obscurity. So unknown and unappreciated was he at

the time when my _Logic_ was written and published, that to criticize

his weak points might well appear superfluous, while it was a duty to

give as much publicity as one could to the important contributions he

had made to philosophic thought. At the time, however, at which I have

now arrived, this state of affairs had entirely changed. His name, at

least, was known almost universally, and the general character of his

doctrines very widely. He had taken his place in the estimation both of

friends and opponents, as one of the conspicuous figures in the thought

of the age. The better parts of his speculations had made great progress

in working their way into those minds, which, by their previous culture

and tendencies, were fitted to receive them: under cover of those better

parts those of a worse character, greatly developed and added to in his

later writings, had also made some way, having obtained active and

enthusiastic adherents, some of them of no inconsiderable personal

merit, in England, France, and other countries. These causes not only

made it desirable that some one should undertake the task of sifting

what is good from what is bad in M. Comte's speculations, but seemed to

impose on myself in particular a special obligation to make the attempt.

This I accordingly did in two essays, published in successive numbers of

the _Westminster Review_, and reprinted in a small volume under the

title _Auguste Comte and Positivism_.


The writings which I have now mentioned, together with a small number of

papers in periodicals which I have not deemed worth preserving, were the

whole of the products of my activity as a writer during the years from

1859 to 1865. In the early part of the last-mentioned year, in

compliance with a wish frequently expressed to me by working men, I

published cheap People's Editions of those of my writings which seemed

the most likely to find readers among the working classes; viz,

_Principles of Political Economy_, _Liberty_, and _Representative

Government_. This was a considerable sacrifice of my pecuniary interest,

especially as I resigned all idea of deriving profit from the cheap

editions, and after ascertaining from my publishers the lowest price

which they thought would remunerate them on the usual terms of an equal

division of profits, I gave up my half share to enable the price to be

fixed still lower. To the credit of Messrs. Longman they fixed, unasked,

a certain number of years after which the copyright and stereotype

plates were to revert to me, and a certain number of copies after the

sale of which I should receive half of any further profit. This number

of copies (which in the case of the _Political Economy_ was 10,000) has

for some time been exceeded, and the People's Editions have begun to

yield me a small but unexpected pecuniary return, though very far from

an equivalent for the diminution of profit from the Library Editions.


In this summary of my outward life I have now arrived at the period at

which my tranquil and retired existence as a writer of books was to be

exchanged for the less congenial occupation of a member of the House of

Commons. The proposal made to me, early in 1865, by some electors of

Westminster, did not present the idea to me for the first time. It was

not even the first offer I had received, for, more than ten years

previous, in consequence of my opinions on the Irish Land Question, Mr.

Lucas and Mr. Duffy, in the name of the popular party in Ireland,

offered to bring me into Parliament for an Irish county, which they

could easily have done: but the incompatibility of a seat in Parliament

with the office I then held in the India House, precluded even

consideration of the proposal. After I had quitted the India House,

several of my friends would gladly have seen me a member of Parliament;

but there seemed no probability that the idea would ever take any

practical shape. I was convinced that no numerous or influential portion

of any electoral body, really wished to be represented by a person of my

opinions; and that one who possessed no local connection or popularity,

and who did not choose to stand as the mere organ of a party had small

chance of being elected anywhere unless through the expenditure of

money. Now it was, and is, my fixed conviction, that a candidate ought

not to incur one farthing of expense for undertaking a public duty. Such

of the lawful expenses of an election as have no special reference to

any particular candidate, ought to be borne as a public charge, either

by the State or by the locality. What has to be done by the supporters

of each candidate in order to bring his claims properly before the

constituency, should be done by unpaid agency or by voluntary

subscription. If members of the electoral body, or others, are willing

to subscribe money of their own for the purpose of bringing, by lawful

means, into Parliament some one who they think would be useful there, no

one is entitled to object: but that the expense, or any part of it,

should fall on the candidate, is fundamentally wrong; because it amounts

in reality to buying his seat. Even on the most favourable supposition

as to the mode in which the money is expended, there is a legitimate

suspicion that any one who gives money for leave to undertake a public

trust, has other than public ends to promote by it; and (a consideration

of the greatest importance) the cost of elections, when borne by the

candidates, deprives the nation of the services, as members of

Parliament, of all who cannot or will not afford to incur a heavy

expense. I do not say that, so long as there is scarcely a chance for an

independent candidate to come into Parliament without complying with

this vicious practice, it must always be morally wrong in him to spend

money, provided that no part of it is either directly or indirectly

employed in corruption. But, to justify it, he ought to be very certain

that he can be of more use to his country as a member of Parliament than

in any other mode which is open to him; and this assurance, in my own

case, I did not feel. It was by no means clear to me that I could do

more to advance the public objects which had a claim on my exertions,

from the benches of the House of Commons, than from the simple position

of a writer. I felt, therefore, that I ought not to seek election to

Parliament, much less to expend any money in procuring it.


But the conditions of the question were considerably altered when a body

of electors sought me out, and spontaneously offered to bring me forward

as their candidate. If it should appear, on explanation, that they

persisted in this wish, knowing my opinions, and accepting the only

conditions on which I could conscientiously serve, it was questionable

whether this was not one of those calls upon a member of the community

by his fellow-citizens, which he was scarcely justified in rejecting. I

therefore put their disposition to the proof by one of the frankest

explanations ever tendered, I should think, to an electoral body by a

candidate. I wrote, in reply to the offer, a letter for publication,

saying that I had no personal wish to be a member of Parliament, that I

thought a candidate ought neither to canvass nor to incur any expense,

and that I could not consent to do either. I said further, that if

elected, I could not undertake to give any of my time and labour to

their local interests. With respect to general politics, I told them

without reserve, what I thought on a number of important subjects on

which they had asked my opinion: and one of these being the suffrage, I

made known to them, among other things, my conviction (as I was bound to

do, since I intended, if elected, to act on it), that women were

entitled to representation in Parliament on the same terms with men. It

was the first time, doubtless, that such a doctrine had ever been

mentioned to English electors; and the fact that I was elected after

proposing it, gave the start to the movement which has since become so

vigorous, in favour of women's suffrage. Nothing, at the time, appeared

more unlikely than that a candidate (if candidate I could be called)

whose professions and conduct set so completely at defiance all ordinary

notions of electioneering, should nevertheless be elected. A well-known

literary man[, who was also a man of society,] was heard to say that the

Almighty himself would have no chance of being elected on such a

programme. I strictly adhered to it, neither spending money nor

canvassing, nor did I take any personal part in the election, until

about a week preceding the day of nomination, when I attended a few

public meetings to state my principles and give to any questions which

the electors might exercise their just right of putting to me for their

own guidance; answers as plain and unreserved as my address. On one

subject only, my religious opinions, I announced from the beginning that

I would answer no questions; a determination which appeared to be

completely approved by those who attended the meetings. My frankness on

all other subjects on which I was interrogated, evidently did me far

more good than my answers, whatever they might be, did harm. Among the

proofs I received of this, one is too remarkable not to be recorded. In

the pamphlet, _Thoughts on Parliamentary Reform_, I had said, rather

bluntly, that the working classes, though differing from those of some

other countries, in being ashamed of lying, are yet generally liars.

This passage some opponent got printed in a placard, which was handed to

me at a meeting, chiefly composed of the working classes, and I was

asked whether I had written and published it. I at once answered "I

did." Scarcely were these two words out of my mouth, when vehement

applause resounded through the whole meeting. It was evident that the

working people were so accustomed to expect equivocation and evasion

from those who sought their suffrages, that when they found, instead of

that, a direct avowal of what was likely to be disagreeable to them,

instead of being affronted, they concluded at once that this was a

person whom they could trust. A more striking instance never came under

my notice of what, I believe, is the experience of those who best know

the working classes, that the most essential of all recommendations to

their favour is that of complete straightforwardness; its presence

outweighs in their minds very strong objections, while no amount of

other qualities will make amends for its apparent absence. The first

working man who spoke after the incident I have mentioned (it was Mr.

Odger) said, that the working classes had no desire not to be told of

their faults; they wanted friends, not flatterers, and felt under

obligation to any one who told them anything in themselves which he

sincerely believed to require amendment. And to this the meeting

heartily responded.


Had I been defeated in the election, I should still have had no reason

to regret the contact it had brought me into with large bodies of my

countrymen; which not only gave me much new experience, but enabled me

to scatter my political opinions rather widely, and, by making me known

in many quarters where I had never before been heard of, increased the

number of my readers, and the presumable influence of my writings. These

latter effects were of course produced in a still greater degree, when,

as much to my surprise as to that of any one, I was returned to

Parliament by a majority of some hundreds over my Conservative



I was a member of the House during the three sessions of the Parliament

which passed the Reform Bill; during which time Parliament was

necessarily my main occupation, except during the recess. I was a

tolerably frequent speaker, sometimes of prepared speeches, sometimes

extemporaneously. But my choice of occasions was not such as I should

have made if my leading object had been Parliamentary influence. When I

had gained the ear of the House, which I did by a successful speech on

Mr. Gladstone's Reform Bill, the idea I proceeded on was that when

anything was likely to be as well done, or sufficiently well done, by

other people, there was no necessity for me to meddle with it. As I,

therefore, in general reserved myself for work which no others were

likely to do, a great proportion of my appearances were on points on

which the bulk of the Liberal party, even the advanced portion of it,

either were of a different opinion from mine, or were comparatively

indifferent. Several of my speeches, especially one against the motion

for the abolition of capital punishment, and another in favour of

resuming the right of seizing enemies' goods in neutral vessels, were

opposed to what then was, and probably still is, regarded as the

advanced liberal opinion. My advocacy of women's suffrage and of

Personal Representation, were at the time looked upon by many as whims

of my own; but the great progress since made by those opinions, and

especially the response made from almost all parts of the kingdom to the

demand for women's suffrage, fully justified the timeliness of those

movements, and have made what was undertaken as a moral and social duty,

a personal success. Another duty which was particularly incumbent on me

as one of the Metropolitan Members, was the attempt to obtain a

Municipal Government for the Metropolis: but on that subject the

indifference of the House of Commons was such that I found hardly any

help or support within its walls. On this subject, however, I was the

organ of an active and intelligent body of persons outside, with whom,

and not with me, the scheme originated, and who carried on all the

agitation on the subject and drew up the Bills. My part was to bring in

Bills already prepared, and to sustain the discussion of them during the

short time they were allowed to remain before the House; after having

taken an active part in the work of a Committee presided over by Mr.

Ayrton, which sat through the greater part of the Session of 1866, to

take evidence on the subject. The very different position in which the

question now stands (1870) may justly be attributed to the preparation

which went on during those years, and which produced but little visible

effect at the time; but all questions on which there are strong private

interests on one side, and only the public good on the other, have a

similar period of incubation to go through.


The same idea, that the use of my being in Parliament was to do work

which others were not able or not willing to do, made me think it my

duty to come to the front in defence of advanced Liberalism on occasions

when the obloquy to be encountered was such as most of the advanced

Liberals in the House, preferred not to incur. My first vote in the

House was in support of an amendment in favour of Ireland, moved by an

Irish member, and for which only five English and Scotch votes were

given, including my own: the other four were Mr. Bright, Mr. McLaren,

Mr. T.B. Potter, and Mr. Hadfield. And the second speech I delivered[9]

was on the bill to prolong the suspension of the Habeas Corpus in

Ireland. In denouncing, on this occasion, the English mode of governing

Ireland, I did no more than the general opinion of England now admits to

have been just; but the anger against Fenianism was then in all its

freshness; any attack on what Fenians attacked was looked upon as an

apology for them; and I was so unfavourably received by the House, that

more than one of my friends advised me (and my own judgment agreed with

the advice) to wait, before speaking again, for the favourable

opportunity that would be given by the first great debate on the Reform

Bill. During this silence, many flattered themselves that I had turned

out a failure, and that they should not be troubled with me any more.

Perhaps their uncomplimentary comments may, by the force of reaction,

have helped to make my speech on the Reform Bill the success it was. My

position in the House was further improved by a speech in which I

insisted on the duty of paying off the National Debt before our coal

supplies are exhausted, and by an ironical reply to some of the Tory

leaders who had quoted against me certain passages of my writings, and

called me to account for others, especially for one in my

_Considerations on Representative Government_, which said that the

Conservative party was, by the law of its composition, the stupidest

party. They gained nothing by drawing attention to the passage, which up

to that time had not excited any notice, but the _sobriquet_ of "the

stupid party" stuck to them for a considerable time afterwards. Having

now no longer any apprehension of not being listened to, I confined

myself, as I have since thought too much, to occasions on which my

services seemed specially needed, and abstained more than enough from

speaking on the great party questions. With the exception of Irish

questions, and those which concerned the working classes, a single

speech on Mr. Disraeli's Reform Bill was nearly all that I contributed

to the great decisive debates of the last two of my three sessions.


I have, however, much satisfaction in looking back to the part I took on

the two classes of subjects just mentioned. With regard to the working

classes, the chief topic of my speech on Mr. Gladstone's Reform Bill was

the assertion of their claims to the suffrage. A little later, after the

resignation of Lord Russell's Ministry and the succession of a Tory

Government, came the attempt of the working classes to hold a meeting in

Hyde Park, their exclusion by the police, and the breaking down of the

park railing by the crowd. Though Mr. Beales and the leaders of the

working men had retired under protest before this took place, a scuffle

ensued in which many innocent persons were maltreated by the police, and

the exasperation of the working men was extreme. They showed a

determination to make another attempt at a meeting in the Park, to which

many of them would probably have come armed; the Government made

military preparations to resist the attempt, and something very serious

seemed impending. At this crisis I really believe that I was the means

of preventing much mischief. I had in my place in Parliament taken the

side of the working men, and strongly censured the conduct of the

Government. I was invited, with several other Radical members, to a

conference with the leading members of the Council of the Reform League;

and the task fell chiefly upon myself, of persuading them to give up the

Hyde Park project, and hold their meeting elsewhere. It was not Mr.

Beales and Colonel Dickson who needed persuading; on the contrary, it

was evident that these gentlemen had already exerted their influence in

the same direction, thus far without success. It was the working men who

held out, and so bent were they on their original scheme, that I was

obliged to have recourse to _les grands moyens_. I told them that a

proceeding which would certainly produce a collision with the military,

could only be justifiable on two conditions: if the position of affairs

had become such that a revolution was desirable, and if they thought

themselves able to accomplish one. To this argument, after considerable

discussion, they at last yielded: and I was able to inform Mr. Walpole

that their intention was given up. I shall never forget the depth of his

relief or the warmth of his expressions of gratitude. After the working

men had conceded so much to me, I felt bound to comply with their

request that I would attend and speak at their meeting at the

Agricultural Hall; the only meeting called by the Reform League which I

ever attended. I had always declined being a member of the League, on

the avowed ground that I did not agree in its programme of manhood

suffrage and the ballot: from the ballot I dissented entirely; and I

could not consent to hoist the flag of manhood suffrage, even on the

assurance that the exclusion of women was not intended to be implied;

since if one goes beyond what can be immediately carried, and professes

to take one's stand on a principle, one should go the whole length of

the principle. I have entered thus particularly into this matter because

my conduct on this occasion gave great displeasure to the Tory and

Tory-Liberal press, who have charged me ever since with having shown

myself, in the trials of public life, intemperate and passionate. I do

not know what they expected from me; but they had reason to be thankful

to me if they knew from what I had, in all probability preserved them.

And I do not believe it could have been done, at that particular

juncture, by any one else. No other person, I believe, had at that

moment the necessary influence for restraining the working classes,

except Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Bright, neither of whom was available: Mr.

Gladstone, for obvious reasons; Mr. Bright because he was out of town.


When, some time later, the Tory Government brought in a bill to prevent

public meetings in the Parks, I not only spoke strongly in opposition to

it, but formed one of a number of advanced Liberals, who, aided by the

very late period of the session, succeeded in defeating the Bill by what

is called talking it out. It has not since been renewed.


On Irish affairs also I felt bound to take a decided part. I was one of

the foremost in the deputation of Members of Parliament who prevailed on

Lord Derby to spare the life of the condemned Fenian insurgent, General

Burke. The Church question was so vigorously handled by the leaders of

the party, in the session of 1868, as to require no more from me than an

emphatic adhesion: but the land question was by no means in so advanced

a position; the superstitions of landlordism had up to that time been

little challenged, especially in Parliament, and the backward state of

the question, so far as concerned the Parliamentary mind, was evidenced

by the extremely mild measure brought in by Lord Russell's government in

1866, which nevertheless could not be carried. On that bill I delivered

one of my most careful speeches, in which I attempted to lay down some

of the principles of the subject, in a manner calculated less to

stimulate friends, than to conciliate and convince opponents. The

engrossing subject of Parliamentary Reform prevented either this bill,

or one of a similar character brought in by Lord Derby's Government,

from being carried through. They never got beyond the second reading.

Meanwhile the signs of Irish disaffection had become much more decided;

the demand for complete separation between the two countries had assumed

a menacing aspect, and there were few who did not feel that if there was

still any chance of reconciling Ireland to the British connection, it

could only be by the adoption of much more thorough reforms in the

territorial and social relations of the country, than had yet been

contemplated. The time seemed to me to have come when it would be useful

to speak out my whole mind; and the result was my pamphlet _England and

Ireland_, which was written in the winter of 1867, and published shortly

before the commencement of the session of 1868. The leading features of

the pamphlet were, on the one hand, an argument to show the

undesirableness, for Ireland as well as England, of separation between

the countries, and on the other, a proposal for settling the land

question by giving to the existing tenants a permanent tenure, at a

fixed rent, to be assessed after due inquiry by the State.


The pamphlet was not popular, except in Ireland, as I did not expect it

to be. But, if no measure short of that which I proposed would do full

justice to Ireland, or afford a prospect of conciliating the mass of the

Irish people, the duty of proposing it was imperative; while if, on the

other hand, there was any intermediate course which had a claim to a

trial, I well knew that to propose something which would be called

extreme, was the true way not to impede but to facilitate a more

moderate experiment. It is most improbable that a measure conceding so

much to the tenantry as Mr. Gladstone's Irish Land Bill, would have been

proposed by a Government, or could have been carried through Parliament,

unless the British public had been led to perceive that a case might be

made, and perhaps a party formed, for a measure considerably stronger.

It is the character of the British people, or at least of the higher and

middle classes who pass muster for the British people, that to induce

them to approve of any change, it is necessary that they should look

upon it as a middle course: they think every proposal extreme and

violent unless they hear of some other proposal going still farther,

upon which their antipathy to extreme views may discharge itself. So it

proved in the present instance; my proposal was condemned, but any

scheme for Irish Land reform short of mine, came to be thought moderate

by comparison. I may observe that the attacks made on my plan usually

gave a very incorrect idea of its nature. It was usually discussed as a

proposal that the State should buy up the land and become the universal

landlord; though in fact it only offered to each individual landlord

this as an alternative, if he liked better to sell his estate than to

retain it on the new conditions; and I fully anticipated that most

landlords would continue to prefer the position of landowners to that of

Government annuitants, and would retain their existing relation to their

tenants, often on more indulgent terms than the full rents on which the

compensation to be given them by Government would have been based. This

and many other explanations I gave in a speech on Ireland, in the debate

on Mr. Maguire's Resolution, early in the session of 1868. A corrected

report of this speech, together with my speech on Mr. Fortescue's Bill,

has been published (not by me, but with my permission) in Ireland.


Another public duty, of a most serious kind, it was my lot to have to

perform, both in and out of Parliament, during these years. A

disturbance in Jamaica, provoked in the first instance by injustice, and

exaggerated by rage and panic into a premeditated rebellion, had been

the motive or excuse for taking hundreds of innocent lives by military

violence, or by sentence of what were called courts-martial, continuing

for weeks after the brief disturbance had been put down; with many added

atrocities of destruction of property logging women as well as men, and

a general display of the brutal recklessness which usually prevails when

fire and sword are let loose. The perpetrators of those deeds were

defended and applauded in England by the same kind of people who had so

long upheld negro slavery: and it seemed at first as if the British

nation was about to incur the disgrace of letting pass without even a

protest, excesses of authority as revolting as any of those for which,

when perpetrated by the instruments of other governments, Englishmen can

hardly find terms sufficient to express their abhorrence. After a short

time, however, an indignant feeling was roused: a voluntary Association

formed itself under the name of the Jamaica Committee, to take such

deliberation and action as the case might admit of, and adhesions poured

in from all parts of the country. I was abroad at the time, but I sent

in my name to the Committee as soon as I heard of it, and took an active

part in the proceedings from the time of my return. There was much more

at stake than only justice to the negroes, imperative as was that

consideration. The question was, whether the British dependencies, and

eventually, perhaps, Great Britain itself, were to be under the

government of law, or of military licence; whether the lives and persons

of British subjects are at the mercy of any two or three officers

however raw and inexperienced or reckless and brutal, whom a

panic-stricken Governor, or other functionary, may assume the right to

constitute into a so-called court-martial. This question could only be

decided by an appeal to the tribunals; and such an appeal the Committee

determined to make. Their determination led to a change in the

chairmanship of the Committee, as the chairman, Mr. Charles Buxton,

thought it not unjust indeed, but inexpedient, to prosecute Governor

Eyre and his principal subordinates in a criminal court: but a

numerously attended general meeting of the Association having decided

this point against him, Mr. Buxton withdrew from the Committee, though

continuing to work in the cause, and I was, quite unexpectedly on my own

part, proposed and elected chairman. It became, in consequence, my duty

to represent the Committee in the House of Commons, sometimes by putting

questions to the Government, sometimes as the recipient of questions,

more or less provocative, addressed by individual members to myself; but

especially as speaker in the important debate originated in the session

of 1866, by Mr. Buxton: and the speech I then delivered is that which I

should probably select as the best of my speeches in Parliament.[10] For

more than two years we carried on the combat, trying every avenue

legally open to us, to the Courts of Criminal Justice. A bench of

magistrates in one of the most Tory counties in England dismissed our

case: we were more successful before the magistrates at Bow Street;

which gave an opportunity to the Lord Chief Justice of the Queen's

Bench, Sir Alexander Cockburn, for delivering his celebrated charge,

which settled the law of the question in favour of liberty, as far as it

is in the power of a judge's charge to settle it. There, however, our

success ended, for the Old Bailey Grand jury by throwing out our bill

prevented the case from coming to trial. It was clear that to bring

English functionaries to the bar of a criminal court for abuses of power

committed against negroes and mulattoes was not a popular proceeding

with the English middle classes. We had, however, redeemed, so far as

lay in us, the character of our country, by showing that there was at

any rate a body of persons determined to use all the means which the law

afforded to obtain justice for the injured. We had elicited from the

highest criminal judge in the nation an authoritative declaration that

the law was what we maintained it to be; and we had given an emphatic

warning to those who might be tempted to similar guilt hereafter, that,

though they might escape the actual sentence of a criminal tribunal,

they were not safe against being put to some trouble and expense in

order to avoid it. Colonial governors and other persons in authority,

will have a considerable motive to stop short of such extremities in



As a matter of curiosity I kept some specimens of the abusive letters,

almost all of them anonymous, which I received while these proceedings

were going on. They are evidence of the sympathy felt with the

brutalities in Jamaica by the brutal part of the population at home.

They graduated from coarse jokes, verbal and pictorial, up to threats of



Among other matters of importance in which I took an active part, but

which excited little interest in the public, two deserve particular

mention. I joined with several other independent Liberals in defeating

an Extradition Bill introduced at the very end of the session of 1866,

and by which, though surrender avowedly for political offences was not

authorized, political refugees, if charged by a foreign Government with

acts which are necessarily incident to all attempts at insurrection,

would have been surrendered to be dealt with by the criminal courts of

the Government against which they had rebelled: thus making the British

Government an accomplice in the vengeance of foreign despotisms. The

defeat of this proposal led to the appointment of a Select Committee (in

which I was included), to examine and report on the whole subject of

Extradition Treaties; and the result was, that in the Extradition Act

which passed through Parliament after I had ceased to be a member,

opportunity is given to any one whose extradition is demanded, of being

heard before an English court of justice to prove that the offence with

which he is charged, is really political. The cause of European freedom

has thus been saved from a serious misfortune, and our own country from

a great iniquity. The other subject to be mentioned is the fight kept up

by a body of advanced Liberals in the session of 1868, on the Bribery

Bill of Mr. Disraeli's Government, in which I took a very active part. I

had taken counsel with several of those who had applied their minds most

carefully to the details of the subject--Mr. W.D. Christie, Serjeant

Pulling, Mr. Chadwick--as well as bestowed much thought of my own, for

the purpose of framing such amendments and additional clauses as might

make the Bill really effective against the numerous modes of corruption,

direct and indirect, which might otherwise, as there was much reason to

fear, be increased instead of diminished by the Reform Act. We also

aimed at engrafting on the Bill, measures for diminishing the

mischievous burden of what are called the legitimate expenses of

elections. Among our many amendments, was that of Mr. Fawcett for making

the returning officer's expenses a charge on the rates, instead of on

the candidates; another was the prohibition of paid canvassers, and the

limitation of paid agents to one for each candidate; a third was the

extension of the precautions and penalties against bribery to municipal

elections, which are well known to be not only a preparatory school for

bribery at parliamentary elections, but an habitual cover for it. The

Conservative Government, however, when once they had carried the leading

provision of their Bill (for which I voted and spoke), the transfer of

the jurisdiction in elections from the House of Commons to the Judges,

made a determined resistance to all other improvements; and after one of

our most important proposals, that of Mr. Fawcett, had actually obtained

a majority, they summoned the strength of their party and threw out the

clause in a subsequent stage. The Liberal party in the House was greatly

dishonoured by the conduct of many of its members in giving no help

whatever to this attempt to secure the necessary conditions of an honest

representation of the people. With their large majority in the House

they could have carried all the amendments, or better ones if they had

better to propose. But it was late in the session; members were eager to

set about their preparations for the impending General Election: and

while some (such as Sir Robert Anstruther) honourably remained at their

post, though rival candidates were already canvassing their constituency,

a much greater number placed their electioneering interests before their

public duty. Many Liberals also looked with indifference on legislation

against bribery, thinking that it merely diverted public interest from

the Ballot, which they considered--very mistakenly as I expect it will

turn out--to be a sufficient, and the only, remedy. From these causes our

fight, though kept up with great vigour for several nights, was wholly

unsuccessful, and the practices which we sought to render more difficult,

prevailed more widely than ever in the first General Election held under

the new electoral law.


In the general debates on Mr. Disraeli's Reform Bill, my participation

was limited to the one speech already mentioned; but I made the Bill an

occasion for bringing the two great improvements which remain to be made

in Representative Government, formally before the House and the nation.

One of them was Personal, or, as it is called with equal propriety,

Proportional Representation. I brought this under the consideration of

the House, by an expository and argumentative speech on Mr. Hare's plan;

and subsequently I was active in support of the very imperfect

substitute for that plan, which, in a small number of constituencies,

Parliament was induced to adopt. This poor makeshift had scarcely any

recommendation, except that it was a partial recognition of the evil

which it did so little to remedy. As such, however, it was attacked by

the same fallacies, and required to be defended on the same principles,

as a really good measure; and its adoption in a few Parliamentary

elections, as well as the subsequent introduction of what is called the

Cumulative Vote in the elections for the London School Board, have had

the good effect of converting the equal claim of all electors to a

proportional share in the representation, from a subject of merely

speculative discussion, into a question of practical politics, much

sooner than would otherwise have been the case.


This assertion of my opinions on Personal Representation cannot be

credited with any considerable or visible amount of practical result. It

was otherwise with the other motion which I made in the form of an

amendment to the Reform Bill, and which was by far the most important,

perhaps the only really important, public service I performed in the

capacity of a Member of Parliament: a motion to strike out the words

which were understood to limit the electoral franchise to males, and

thereby to admit to the suffrage all women who, as householders or

otherwise, possessed the qualification required of male electors. For

women not to make their claim to the suffrage, at the time when the

elective franchise was being largely extended, would have been to abjure

the claim altogether; and a movement on the subject was begun in 1866,

when I presented a petition for the suffrage, signed by a considerable

number of distinguished women. But it was as yet uncertain whether the

proposal would obtain more than a few stray votes in the House: and

when, after a debate in which the speaker's on the contrary side were

conspicuous by their feebleness, the votes recorded in favour of the

motion amounted to 73--made up by pairs and tellers to above 80--the

surprise was general, and the encouragement great: the greater, too,

because one of those who voted for the motion was Mr. Bright, a fact

which could only be attributed to the impression made on him by the

debate, as he had previously made no secret of his nonconcurrence in the

proposal. [The time appeared to my daughter, Miss Helen Taylor, to have

come for forming a Society for the extension of the suffrage to women.

The existence of the Society is due to my daughter's initiative; its

constitution was planned entirely by her, and she was the soul of the

movement during its first years, though delicate health and

superabundant occupation made her decline to be a member of the

Executive Committee. Many distinguished members of parliament,

professors, and others, and some of the most eminent women of whom the

country can boast, became members of the Society, a large proportion

either directly or indirectly through my daughter's influence, she

having written the greater number, and all the best, of the letters by

which adhesions was obtained, even when those letters bore my signature.

In two remarkable instances, those of Miss Nightingale and Miss Mary

Carpenter, the reluctance those ladies had at first felt to come

forward, (for it was not on their past difference of opinion) was

overcome by appeals written by my daughter though signed by me.

Associations for the same object were formed in various local centres,

Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Bristol, and Glasgow; and others

which have done much valuable work for the cause. All the Societies take

the title of branches of the National Society for Women's Suffrage; but

each has its own governing body, and acts in complete independence of

the others.]


I believe I have mentioned all that is worth remembering of my

proceedings in the House. But their enumeration, even if complete, would

give but an inadequate idea of my occupations during that period, and

especially of the time taken up by correspondence. For many years before

my election to Parliament, I had been continually receiving letters from

strangers, mostly addressed to me as a writer on philosophy, and either

propounding difficulties or communicating thoughts on subjects connected

with logic or political economy. In common, I suppose, with all who are

known as political economists, I was a recipient of all the shallow

theories and absurd proposals by which people are perpetually

endeavouring to show the way to universal wealth and happiness by some

artful reorganization of the currency. When there were signs of

sufficient intelligence in the writers to make it worth while attempting

to put them right, I took the trouble to point out their errors, until

the growth of my correspondence made it necessary to dismiss such

persons with very brief answers. Many, however, of the communications I

received were more worthy of attention than these, and in some,

oversights of detail were pointed out in my writings, which I was thus

enabled to correct. Correspondence of this sort naturally multiplied

with the multiplication of the subjects on which I wrote, especially

those of a metaphysical character. But when I became a member of

Parliament. I began to receive letters on private grievances and on

every imaginable subject that related to any kind of public affairs,

however remote from my knowledge or pursuits. It was not my constituents

in Westminster who laid this burthen on me: they kept with remarkable

fidelity to the understanding on which I had consented to serve. I

received, indeed, now and then an application from some ingenuous youth

to procure for him a small government appointment; but these were few,

and how simple and ignorant the writers were, was shown by the fact that

the applications came in about equally whichever party was in power. My

invariable answer was, that it was contrary to the principles on which I

was elected to ask favours of any Government. But, on the whole, hardly

any part of the country gave me less trouble than my own constituents.

The general mass of correspondence, however, swelled into an oppressive



[At this time, and thenceforth, a great proportion of all my letters

(including many which found their way into the newspapers) were not

written by me but by my daughter; at first merely from her willingness

to help in disposing of a mass of letters greater than I could get

through without assistance, but afterwards because I thought the letters

she wrote superior to mine, and more so in proportion to the difficulty

and importance of the occasion. Even those which I wrote myself were

generally much improved by her, as is also the case with all the more

recent of my prepared speeches, of which, and of some of my published

writings, not a few passages, and those the most successful, were hers.]


While I remained in Parliament my work as an author was unavoidably

limited to the recess. During that time I wrote (besides the pamphlet on

Ireland, already mentioned), the Essay on Plato, published in the

_Edinburgh Review_, and reprinted in the third volume of _Dissertations

and Discussions_; and the address which, conformably to custom, I

delivered to the University of St. Andrew's, whose students had done me

the honour of electing me to the office of Rector. In this Discourse I

gave expression to many thoughts and opinions which had been

accumulating in me through life, respecting the various studies which

belong to a liberal education, their uses and influences, and the mode

in which they should be pursued to render their influences most

beneficial. The position taken up, vindicating the high educational

value alike of the old classic and the new scientific studies, on even

stronger grounds than are urged by most of their advocates, and

insisting that it is only the stupid inefficiency of the usual teaching

which makes those studies be regarded as competitors instead of allies,

was, I think, calculated, not only to aid and stimulate the improvement

which has happily commenced in the national institutions for higher

education, but to diffuse juster ideas than we often find, even in

highly educated men, on the conditions of the highest mental



During this period also I commenced (and completed soon after I had left

Parliament) the performance of a duty to philosophy and to the memory of

my father, by preparing and publishing an edition of the _Analysis of

the Phenomena of the Human Mind_, with notes bringing up the doctrines

of that admirable book to the latest improvements in science and in

speculation. This was a joint undertaking: the psychological notes being

furnished in about equal proportions by Mr. Bain and myself, while Mr.

Grote supplied some valuable contributions on points in the history of

philosophy incidentally raised, and Dr. Andrew Findlater supplied the

deficiencies in the book which had been occasioned by the imperfect

philological knowledge of the time when it was written. Having been

originally published at a time when the current of metaphysical

speculation ran in a quite opposite direction to the psychology of

Experience and Association, the _Analysis_ had not obtained the amount

of immediate success which it deserved, though it had made a deep

impression on many individual minds, and had largely contributed,

through those minds, to create that more favourable atmosphere for the

Association Psychology of which we now have the benefit. Admirably

adapted for a class book of the Experience Metaphysics, it only required

to be enriched, and in some cases corrected, by the results of more

recent labours in the same school of thought, to stand, as it now does,

in company with Mr. Bain's treatises, at the head of the systematic

works on Analytic psychology.


In the autumn of 1868 the Parliament which passed the Reform Act was

dissolved, and at the new election for Westminster I was thrown out; not

to my surprise, nor, I believe, to that of my principal supporters,

though in the few days preceding the election they had become more

sanguine than before. That I should not have been elected at all would

not have required any explanation; what excites curiosity is that I

should have been elected the first time, or, having been elected then,

should have been defeated afterwards. But the efforts made to defeat me

were far greater on the second occasion than on the first. For one

thing, the Tory Government was now struggling for existence, and success

in any contest was of more importance to them. Then, too, all persons of

Tory feelings were far more embittered against me individually than on

the previous occasion; many who had at first been either favourable or

indifferent, were vehemently opposed to my re-election. As I had shown

in my political writings that I was aware of the weak points in

democratic opinions, some Conservatives, it seems, had not been without

hopes of finding me an opponent of democracy: as I was able to see the

Conservative side of the question, they presumed that, like them, I

could not see any other side. Yet if they had really read my writings,

they would have known that after giving full weight to all that appeared

to me well grounded in the arguments against democracy, I unhesitatingly

decided in its favour, while recommending that it should be accompanied

by such institutions as were consistent with its principle and

calculated to ward off its inconveniences: one of the chief of these

remedies being Proportional Representation, on which scarcely any of the

Conservatives gave me any support. Some Tory expectations appear to have

been founded on the approbation I had expressed of plural voting, under

certain conditions: and it has been surmised that the suggestion of this

sort made in one of the resolutions which Mr. Disraeli introduced into

the House preparatory to his Reform Bill (a suggestion which meeting

with no favour, he did not press), may have been occasioned by what I

had written on the point: but if so, it was forgotten that I had made it

an express condition that the privilege of a plurality of votes should

be annexed to education, not to property, and even so, had approved of

it only on the supposition of universal suffrage. How utterly

inadmissible such plural voting would be under the suffrage given by the

present Reform Act, is proved, to any who could otherwise doubt it, by

the very small weight which the working classes are found to possess in

elections, even under the law which gives no more votes to any one

elector than to any other.


While I thus was far more obnoxious to the Tory interest, and to many

Conservative Liberals than I had formerly been, the course I pursued in

Parliament had by no means been such as to make Liberals generally at

all enthusiastic in my support. It has already been mentioned, how large

a proportion of my prominent appearances had been on questions on which

I differed from most of the Liberal party, or about which they cared

little, and how few occasions there had been on which the line I took

was such as could lead them to attach any great value to me as an organ

of their opinions. I had moreover done things which had excited, in many

minds, a personal prejudice against me. Many were offended by what they

called the persecution of Mr. Eyre: and still greater offence was taken

at my sending a subscription to the election expenses of Mr. Bradlaugh.

Having refused to be at any expense for my own election, and having had

all its expenses defrayed by others, I felt under a peculiar obligation

to subscribe in my turn where funds were deficient for candidates whose

election was desirable. I accordingly sent subscriptions to nearly all

the working class candidates, and among others to Mr. Bradlaugh. He had

the support of the working classes; having heard him speak, I knew him

to be a man of ability and he had proved that he was the reverse of a

demagogue, by placing himself in strong opposition to the prevailing

opinion of the democratic party on two such important subjects as

Malthusianism and Personal Representation. Men of this sort, who, while

sharing the democratic feelings of the working classes, judged political

questions for themselves, and had courage to assert their individual

convictions against popular opposition, were needed, as it seemed to me,

in Parliament, and I did not think that Mr. Bradlaugh's anti-religious

opinions (even though he had been intemperate in the expression of them)

ought to exclude him. In subscribing, however, to his election, I did

what would have been highly imprudent if I had been at liberty to

consider only the interests of my own re-election; and, as might be

expected, the utmost possible use, both fair and unfair, was made of

this act of mine to stir up the electors of Westminster against me. To

these various causes, combined with an unscrupulous use of the usual

pecuniary and other influences on the side of my Tory competitor, while

none were used on my side, it is to be ascribed that I failed at my

second election after having succeeded at the first. No sooner was the

result of the election known than I received three or four invitations

to become a candidate for other constituencies, chiefly counties; but

even if success could have been expected, and this without expense, I

was not disposed to deny myself the relief of returning to private life.

I had no cause to feel humiliated at my rejection by the electors; and

if I had, the feeling would have been far outweighed by the numerous

expressions of regret which I received from all sorts of persons and

places, and in a most marked degree from those members of the liberal

party in Parliament, with whom I had been accustomed to act.


Since that time little has occurred which there is need to commemorate

in this place. I returned to my old pursuits and to the enjoyment of a

country life in the south of Europe, alternating twice a year with a

residence of some weeks or months in the neighbourhood of London. I have

written various articles in periodicals (chiefly in my friend Mr.

Morley's _Fortnightly Review_), have made a small number of speeches on

public occasions, especially at the meetings of the Women's Suffrage

Society, have published the _Subjection of Women_, written some years

before, with some additions [by my daughter and myself,] and have

commenced the preparation of matter for future books, of which it will

be time to speak more particularly if I live to finish them. Here,

therefore, for the present, this memoir may close. 


[1]In a subsequent stage of boyhood, when these exercises had ceased

to be compulsory, like most youthful writers I wrote tragedies; under

the inspiration not so much of Shakspeare as of Joanna Baillie, whose

_Constantine Paleologus_ in particular appeared to me one of the most

glorious of human compositions. I still think it one of the best dramas

of the last two centuries.


[2] 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.


[3] Written about 1861.


[4] The steps in my mental growth for which I was indebted to her were

far from being those which a person wholly uninformed on the subject

would probably suspect. It might be supposed, for instance, that my

strong convictions on the complete equality in all legal, political,

social, and domestic relations, which ought to exist between men and

women, may have been adopted or learnt from her. This was so far from

being the fact, that those convictions were among the earliest results

of the application of my mind to political subjects, 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. What is true is that,

until I knew her, the opinion was in my mind little more than an

abstract principle. I saw no more reason why women should be held in

legal subjection to other people, than why men should. I was certain

that their interests required fully as much protection as those of men,

and were quite as little likely to obtain it without an equal voice in

making the laws by which they were bound. But that perception of the

vast practical bearings of women's disabilities which found expression

in the book on the _Subjection of Women_ was acquired mainly through her

teaching. But for her rare knowledge of human nature and comprehension

of moral and social influences, though I should doubtless have held my

present opinions, I should have had a very insufficient perception of

the mode in which the consequences of the inferior position of women

intertwine themselves with all the evils of existing society and with

all the difficulties of human improvement. I am indeed painfully

conscious of how much of her best thoughts on the subject I have failed

to reproduce, and how greatly that little treatise falls short of what

it would have been if she had put on paper her entire mind on this

question, or had lived to revise and improve, as she certainly would

have done, my imperfect statement of the case.


[5] The only person from whom I received any direct assistence in the

preparation of the _System of Logic_ was Mr. Bain, since so justly

celebrated for his philosophical writings. He went carefully through the

manuscript before it was sent to the press, and enriched it with a great

number of additional examples and illustrations from science; many of

which, as well as some detached remarks of his own in confirmation of my

logical views, I inserted nearly in his own words.


[6] A few dedicatory lines acknowledging what the book owed to her, were

prefixed to some of the presentation copies of the _Political Economy_

on iets first publication. Her dislike of publicity alone prevented

their insertion in the other copies of the work. 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 service,

involving the general superintendence 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,

and 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 honourable 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.


[7] In 1869.


[8]The saying of this true hero, after his capture, that he was worth

more for hanging than any other purpose, reminds one, by its combination

of wit, wisdom, and self-devotion, of Sir Thomas More.


[9] The first was in answer to Mr. Lowe's reply to Mr. Bright on the

Cattle Plague Bill, and was thought at the time to have helped to get

rid of a provision in the Government measure which would have given to

landholders a second indemnity, after they had already been once

indemnified for the loss of some of their cattle by the increased

selling price of the remainder.


[10] Among the most active members of the Committee were Mr. P.A.

Taylor, M.P., always faithful and energetic in every assertion of the

principles of liberty; Mr. Goldwin Smith, Mr. Frederic Harrison, Mr.

Slack, Mr. Chamerovzow, Mr. Shaen, and Mr. Chesson, the Honorary

Secretary of the Association. 


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