The English Utilitarians, Volume II (of 3) - James Mill
by Leslie Stephen
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In Three Volumes



London Duckworth And Co. 3 Henrietta Street, W.C. 1900





I. Early Life, 1

II. Bentham's Lieutenant, 7

III. Leader of the Utilitarians, 25



I. Political Change, 41

II. Law Reform, 47

III. Economic Reform, 51

IV. Church Reform, 57

V. Sinister Interests, 62



I. Mill on Government, 74

II. Whiggism, 98

III. Conservatism, 109

IV. Socialism, 119



I. Malthus's Starting-point, 137

II. The Ratios, 147

III. Moral Restraint, 156

IV. Social Remedies, 165

V. Political Application, 174

VI. Rent, 181



I. Ricardo's Starting-point, 186

II. The Distribution Problem, 195

III. Value and Labour, 204

IV. The Classical Political Economy, 216

V. The Ricardians, 226



I. The Malthusian Controversy, 238

II. Socialism, 259



I. Thomas Brown, 267

II. James Mill's Analysis, 287

III. James Mill's Ethics, 312



I. Philip Beauchamp, 338

II. Contemporary Thought, 361




Bentham's mantle fell upon James Mill.[1] Mill expounded in the tersest form the doctrines which in Bentham's hands spread into endless ramifications and lost themselves in minute details. Mill became the leader of Bentham's bodyguard; or, rather, the mediator between the prophet in his 'hermitage' and the missionaries who were actively engaged on the hustings and in committee-rooms. The special characteristics of English Utilitarianism in the period of its greatest activity were thus more affected by Mill than by any other leader of opinion.

James Mill was one of the countless Scots who, having been trained at home in strict frugality and stern Puritanic principles, have fought their way to success in England. He was born 6th April 1773 in the parish of Logie Pert, Forfarshire. His father, also named James Mill, was a village shoemaker, employing two or three journeymen when at the height of his prosperity. His mother, Isabel Fenton, daughter of a farmer, had been a servant in Edinburgh. Her family had some claims to superior gentility; she was fastidious, delicate in frame, and accused of pride by her neighbours. She resolved to bring up James, her eldest son, to be a gentleman, which practically meant to be a minister. He probably showed early promise of intellectual superiority. He received the usual training at the parish school, and was then sent to the Montrose Academy, where he was the school-fellow and friend of a younger lad, Joseph Hume (1777-1855), afterwards his political ally. He boarded with a Montrose shopkeeper for 2s. 6d. a week, and remained at the Academy till he was seventeen. He was never put to work in his father's shop, and devoted himself entirely to study. The usual age for beginning to attend a Scottish university was thirteen or fourteen; and it would have been the normal course for a lad in Mill's position to be sent at that age to Aberdeen. Mill's education was prolonged by a connection which was of great service to him. Sir John Stuart (previously Belches), of Fettercairn House, in Mill's neighbourhood, had married Lady Jane Leslie, and was by her father of an only child, Wilhelmina. Lady Jane was given to charity, and had set up a fund to educate promising lads for the ministry. Mill was probably recommended to her by the parish minister, as likely to do credit to her patronage. He also acted as tutor to Wilhelmina, who afterwards became the object of Scott's early passion. Mill spent much time at Fettercairn House, and appears to have won the warm regards both of the Stuarts and of their daughter, who spoke of him affectionately 'with almost her last breath.'[2] The Stuarts passed their winters at Edinburgh, whither Mill accompanied them. He entered the university in 1790, and seems to have applied himself chiefly to Greek and to philosophy. He became so good a Greek scholar that long afterwards (1818) he had some thoughts of standing for the Greek chair at Glasgow.[3] He was always a keen student of Plato. He read the ordinary Scottish authorities, and attended the lectures of Dugald Stewart. Besides reading Rousseau, he studied Massillon, probably with a view to his future performances in the pulpit. Massillon might be suggested to him by quotations in Adam Smith's Moral Sentiments. There are few records of acquaintanceship with any of his distinguished contemporaries, except the chemist Thomas Thomson, who became a lifelong friend. He probably made acquaintance with Brougham, and may have known Jeffrey; but he was not a member of the Speculative Society, joined by most young men of promise.

In 1794 he began his course of divinity, and on 4th October 1798 was licensed to preach. He lived in his father's house, where part of the family room was screened off to form a study for him. He delivered some sermons, apparently with little success. He failed to obtain a call from any parish; and there are vague reports of his acting as tutor in some families, and of a rebuff received at the table of the marquis of Tweeddale, father of one of his pupils, which made him resolve to seek for independence by a different career.

In 1802 Mill went to London in company with Sir John Stuart, who was about to take his seat in parliament. Stuart procured admission for him to the gallery of the House of Commons, where he attended many debates, and acquired an interest in politics. His ambition, however, depended upon his pen; and at first, it would seem, he was not more particular than other journalists as to the politics of the papers to which he contributed. He had obtained a testimonial from Thomson, on the strength of which he introduced himself to John Gifford, editor of the Anti-Jacobin Review.[4] This was a monthly magazine, which had adopted the name and politics of the deceased Anti-Jacobin, edited by William Gifford. Mill obtained employment, and wrote articles implying an interest in the philosophy, and especially in the political economy, of the time. It is noteworthy, considering his later principles, that he should at this time have taken part in a strong Tory organ. He wrote a pamphlet in 1804 (the first publication under his name) to prove the impolicy of a bounty upon the exportation of grain; and in 1807 replied in Commerce Defended to William Spence's Britain independent of Commerce. Meanwhile he had found employment of a more regular kind. He had formed a connection with a bookseller named Baldwin, for whom he undertook to help in rewriting a book called Nature Delineated. This scheme was changed for a periodical called the Literary Journal, which started at the beginning of 1803, and lived through four years with Mill as editor. At the same time apparently he edited the St. James's Chronicle, also belonging to Baldwin, which had no very definite political colour. The Journal professed to give a systematic survey of literary, scientific, and philosophical publications. For the scientific part Mill was helped by Thomson. His own contributions show that, although clearly a rationalist, he was still opposed to open infidelity. A translation of Villers' History of the Reformation implies similar tendencies. Other literary hack-work during this and the next few years is vaguely indicated. Mill was making about L500 a year or something more during his editorships, and thought himself justified in marrying. On 5th June 1805 he became the husband of Harriett Burrow, daughter of a widow who kept a private lunatic asylum originally started by her husband. The Mills settled in a house in Pentonville belonging to Mrs. Burrow, for which they paid L50 a year.

The money question soon became pressing. The editorships vanished, and to make an income by periodical writing was no easy task. His son observes that nothing could be more opposed to his father's later principles than marrying and producing a large family under these circumstances. Nine children were ultimately born, all of whom survived their father. The family in his old home were an additional burthen. His mother died before his departure from Scotland. His father was paralysed, and having incautiously given security for a friend, became bankrupt. His only brother, William, died soon afterwards, and his only sister, Mary, married one of her father's journeymen named Greig, and tried to carry on the business. The father died about 1808, and the Greigs had a hard struggle, though two of the sons ultimately set up a business in Montrose. James Mill appears to have helped to support his father, whose debts he undertook to pay, and to have afterwards helped the Greigs. They thought, it seems, that he ought to have done more, but were not unlikely to exaggerate the resources of a man who was making his way in England. Mill was resolute in doing his duty, but hardly likely to do it graciously. At any rate, in the early years, it must have been a severe strain to do anything.

In spite of all difficulties Mill, by strict frugality and unremitting energy, managed to keep out of debt. In the end of 1806 he undertook the history of British India. This was to be the great work which should give him a name, and enable him to rise above the herd of contemporary journalists. He calculated the time necessary for its completion at three years, but the years were to be more than trebled before the book was actually finished. At that period there were fewer facilities than there could now be for making the necessary researches: and we do not know what were the reasons which prompted the selection of a subject of which he could have no first-hand knowledge. The book necessarily impeded other labours; and to the toil of writing Mill added the toil of superintending the education of his children. His struggle for some years was such as to require an extraordinary strain upon all his faculties. Mill, however, possessed great physical and mental vigour. He was muscular, well-made, and handsome; he had marked powers of conversation, and made a strong impression upon all with whom he came in contact. He gradually formed connections which effectually determined his future career.


The most important influence in Mill's life was the friendship with Bentham. This appears to have begun in 1808. Mill speedily became a valued disciple. He used to walk from Pentonville to dine with Bentham in Queen's Square Place. Soon the elder man desired to have his new friend nearer at hand. In 1810 Mill moved to the house in Bentham's garden, which had once belonged to Milton; when this proved unsuitable, he was obliged to move to a more distant abode at Stoke Newington; but finally, in 1814, he settled in another house belonging to Bentham, 1 Queen's Square, close under the old gentleman's wing. Here for some years they lived in the closest intimacy. The Mills also stayed with Bentham in his country-houses at Barrow Green, and afterwards at Ford Abbey. The association was not without its troubles. Bentham was fanciful, and Mill stern and rigid. No one, however, could be a more devoted disciple. The most curious illustration of their relations is a letter written to Bentham by Mill, 19th September 1814, while they were both at Ford Abbey. Mill in this declares himself to be a 'most faithful and fervent disciple' of the truths which Bentham had the 'immortal honour' of propounding. He had fancied himself to be his master's favourite disciple. No one is so completely of Bentham's way of thinking, or so qualified by position for carrying on the propaganda. Now, however, Bentham showed that he had taken umbrage at some part of Mill's behaviour. An open quarrel would bring discredit upon both sides, and upon their common beliefs. The great dangers to friendship are pecuniary obligation and too close intimacy. Mill has made it a great purpose of his life to avoid pecuniary obligation, though he took pride in receiving obligations from Bentham. He has confined himself to accepting Bentham's house at a low rent, and allowing his family to live for part of the year at Bentham's expense. He now proposes so to arrange his future life that they shall avoid an excessively close intimacy, from which, he thinks, had arisen the 'umbrage.' The letter, which is manly and straightforward, led to a reconciliation, and for some years the intercourse was as close as ever.[5]

Mill's unreserved adoption of Bentham's principles, and his resolution to devote his life to their propagation, implies a development of opinion. He had entirely dropped his theology. In the early years of his London life, Mill had been only a rationalist. He had by this time become what would now be called an agnostic. He thought 'dogmatic atheism' absurd, says J. S. Mill;[6] 'but he held that we can know nothing whatever as to the origin of the world.' The occasion of the change, according to his family, was his intercourse with General Miranda, who was sitting at Bentham's feet about this time. J. S. Mill states that the turning-point in his father's mind was the study of Butler's Analogy. That book, he thought, as others have thought, was conclusive against the optimistic deism which it assails; but he thought also that the argument really destroyed Butler's own standing-ground. The evils of the world are incompatible with the theory of Almighty benevolence. The purely logical objection was combined with an intense moral sentiment. Theological doctrines, he thought, were not only false, but brutal. His son had heard him say 'a hundred times' that men have attributed to their gods every trait of wickedness till the conception culminated in the Christian doctrine of hell. Mill still attended church services for some time after his marriage, and the children were christened. But the eldest son did not remember the period of even partial conformity, and considered himself to have been brought up from the first without any religious belief. James Mill had already taken up the uncompromising position congenial to his character, although the reticence which the whole party observed prevented any open expression of his sentiments.

Mill's propaganda of Benthamism was for some time obscure. He helped to put together some of Bentham's writings, especially the book upon evidence. He was consulted in regard to all proposed publications, such as the pamphlet upon jury-packing, which Mill desired to publish in spite of Romilly's warning. Mill endeavoured also to disseminate the true faith through various periodicals. He obtained admission to the Edinburgh Review, probably through its chief contributor, Brougham. Neither Brougham nor Jeffrey was likely to commit the great Whig review to the support of a creed still militant and regarded with distrust by the respectable. Mill contributed various articles from 1808 to 1813, but chiefly upon topics outside of the political sphere. The Edinburgh Review, as I have said, had taken a condescending notice of Bentham in 1804. Mill tried to introduce a better tone into an article upon Bexon's Code de la Legislation penale, which he was permitted to publish in the number for October 1809. Knowing Jeffrey's 'dislike of praise,' he tried to be on his guard, and to insinuate his master's doctrine without openly expressing his enthusiasm. Jeffrey, however, sadly mangled the review, struck out every mention but one of Bentham, and there substituted words of his own for Mill's. Even as it was, Brougham pronounced the praise of Bentham to be excessive.[7] Mill continued to write for a time, partly, no doubt, with a view to Jeffrey's cheques. Almost his last article (in January 1813) was devoted to the Lancasterian controversy, in which Mill, as we shall directly see, was in alliance with the Whigs. But the Edinburgh Reviewers were too distinctly of the Whig persuasion to be congenial company for a determined Radical. They would give him no more than a secondary position, and would then take good care to avoid the insertion of any suspicious doctrine. Mill wrote no more after the summer of 1813.

Meanwhile he was finding more sympathetic allies. First among them was William Allen (1770-1843), chemist, of Plough Court. Allen was a Quaker; a man of considerable scientific tastes; successful in business, and ardently devoted throughout his life to many philanthropic schemes. He took, in particular, an active part in the agitation against slavery. He was, as we have seen, one of the partners who bought Owen's establishment at New Lanark; and his religious scruples were afterwards the cause of Owen's retirement. These, however, were only a part of his multifarious schemes. He was perhaps something of a busybody; his head may have been a little turned by the attentions which he received on all hands; he managed the affairs of the duke of Kent; was visited by the Emperor Alexander in 1814; and interviewed royal personages on the Continent, in order to obtain their support in attacking the slave-trade, and introducing good schools and prisons. But, though he may have shared some of the weaknesses of popular philanthropists, he is mentioned with respect even by observers such as Owen and Place, who had many prejudices against his principles. He undoubtedly deserves a place among the active and useful social reformers of his time.

I have already noticed the importance of the Quaker share in the various philanthropic movements of the time. The Quaker shared many of the views upon practical questions which were favoured by the freethinker. Both were hostile to slavery, in favour of spreading education, opposed to all religious tests and restrictions, and advocates of reform in prisons, and in the harsh criminal law. The fundamental differences of theological belief were not so productive of discord in dealing with the Quakers as with other sects; for it was the very essence of the old Quaker spirit to look rather to the spirit than to the letter. Allen, therefore, was only acting in the spirit of his society when he could be on equally good terms with the Emperor Alexander or the duke of Kent, and, on the other hand, with James Mill, the denouncer of kings and autocrats. He could join hands with Mill in assailing slavery, insisting upon prison reform, preaching toleration and advancing civilisation, although he heartily disapproved of the doctrines with which Mill's practical principles were associated. Mill, too, practised—even to a questionable degree—the method of reticence, and took good care not to offend his coadjutor.

Their co-operation was manifested in a quarterly journal called the Philanthropist, which appeared during the seven years, 1811-1817, and was published at Allen's expense. Mill found in it the opportunity of advocating many of his cherished opinions. He defended toleration in the name of Penn, whose life had been published by Clarkson. He attacked the slave-owners, and so came into alliance with Wilberforce, Zachary Macaulay, and others of the evangelical persuasion. He found, at the same time, opportunities for propagating the creed of Bentham in connection with questions of prison reform and the penal code. His most important article, published in 1812, was another contribution to the Lancasterian controversy. In this Mill had allies of a very different school; and his activity brings him into close connection with one of the most remarkable men of the time.[8]

This was Francis Place, the famous Radical tailor. Place, born 3rd November 1771, had raised himself from the position of a working-man to be occupant of a shop at Charing Cross, which became the centre of important political movements. Between Place and Mill there was much affinity of character. Place, like Mill, was a man of rigid and vigorous intellect. Dogmatic, self-confident, and decidedly censorious, not attractive by any sweetness or grace of character, but thoroughly sincere and independent, he extorts rather than commands our respect by his hearty devotion to what he at least believed to be the cause of truth and progress. Place was what is now called a thorough 'individualist.' He believed in self-reliance and energy, and held that the class to which he belonged was to be raised, as he had raised himself, by the exercise of those qualities, not by invoking the direct interference of the central power, which, indeed, as he knew it, was only likely to interfere on the wrong side. He had the misfortune to be born in London instead of Scotland, and had therefore not Mill's educational advantages. He tried energetically, and not unsuccessfully, to improve his mind, but he never quite surmounted the weakness of the self-educated man, and had no special literary talent. His writing, in fact, is dull and long-winded, though he has the merit of judging for himself, and of saying what he thinks.

Place had been a member of the Corresponding Society, and was at one time chairman of the weekly committee. He had, however, disapproved of their proceedings, and retired in time to escape the imprisonment which finally crushed the committee. He was now occupied in building up his own fortunes at Charing Cross. When, during the second war, the native English Radicalism began again to raise its head, Place took a highly important share in the political agitation. Westminster, the constituency in which he had a vote, had long been one of the most important boroughs. It was one of the few large popular constituencies, and was affected by the influences naturally strongest in the metropolis. After being long under the influence of the court and the dean and chapter, it had been carried by Fox during the discontents of 1780, when the reform movement took a start and the county associations were symptoms of a growing agitation. The great Whig leader, though not sound upon the question of reform, represented the constituency till his death, and reform dropped out of notice for the time. Upon Fox's death (13th September 1806) Lord Percy was elected without opposition as his successor by an arrangement among the ruling families. Place was disgusted at the distribution of 'bread and cheese and beer,' and resolved to find a truly popular candidate. In the general election which soon followed at the end of 1806 he supported Paull, an impecunious adventurer, who made a good fight, but was beaten by Sir J. Hood and Sheridan. Place now proposed a more thorough organisation of the constituency, and formed a committee intended to carry an independent candidate. Sir Francis Burdett, a typical country gentleman of no great brains and of much aristocratic pride, but a man of honour, and of as much liberal feeling as was compatible with wealth and station, had sat at the feet of the old Radical, Home Tooke. He had sympathised with the French revolution; but was mainly, like his mentor, Tooke, a reformer of the English type, and a believer in Magna Charta and the Bill of Rights. He had sat in parliament, and in 1802 had been elected for Middlesex. After a prolonged litigation, costing enormous sums, the election had been finally annulled in 1806. He had subscribed L1000 towards Paull's expenses; but was so disgusted with his own election experiences that he refused to come forward as a candidate. Place's committee resolved therefore to elect him and Paull free of expense. Disputes between Paull and Burdett led to a duel, in which both were wounded. The committee threw over Paull, and at the election on the dissolution of parliament in the spring of 1807, Burdett and Cochrane—afterwards Lord Dundonald—were triumphantly elected, defeating the Whig candidates, Sheridan and Elliot. The election was the first triumph of the reformers, and was due to Place more than any one. Burdett retained his seat for Westminster until 1837, and, in spite of many quarrels with his party, was a leading representative of the movement, which henceforward slowly gathered strength. Place, indeed, had apparently but scanty respect for the candidate whose success he had secured. Burdett and his like aimed at popularity, while he was content to be ignored so long as he could by any means carry the measures which he approved. Place, therefore, acted as a most efficient wire-puller, but had no ambition to leave his shop to make speeches on the hustings.

The scandals about the duke of York and the Walcheren expedition gave a chance to the Radicals and to their leader in the House of Commons. Events in 1810 led to a popular explosion, of which Burdett was the hero. John Gale Jones, an old member of the Corresponding Societies, had put out a placard denouncing the House of Commons for closing its doors during a debate upon the Walcheren expedition. The House proceeded against Jones, who was more or less advised by Place in his proceedings. Burdett took the part of Jones, by a paper published in Cobbett's Register, and was ultimately committed to the Tower in consequence. The whole of London was for a time in a state of excitement, and upon the verge of an outbreak. Burdett refused to submit to the arrest. Mobs collected; soldiers filled the streets and were pelted. Burdett, when at last he was forced to admit the officers, appeared in his drawing-room in the act of expounding Magna Charta to his son. That, it was to be supposed, was his usual occupation of an afternoon. Meetings were held, and resolutions passed, in support of the martyr to liberty; and when his imprisonment terminated on the prorogation of parliament, vast crowds collected, and a procession was arranged to convoy him to his home. Place had been active in arranging all the details of what was to be a great popular manifestation. To his infinite disgust, Burdett shrank from the performance, and went home by water. The crowd was left to expend its remaining enthusiasm upon the hackney carriage which contained his fellow-sufferer Jones. Jones, in the following December, was sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment for a libel. Cobbett, Burdett's special supporter at this time, was also imprisoned in June 1810. For a time the popular agitation collapsed. Place seems to have thought that the failure was due to Burdett's want of courage, and dropped all communication with him till a later contest at Westminster.

Place was thus at the centre of the political agitation which, for the time, represented the most energetic reforming movement. It was in 1811 or 1812 that he became acquainted with Mill.[9] In Mill he recognised a congenial spirit, and a man able to defend and develop principles. He perhaps, as Professor Bain thinks, made advances to Mill upon the strength of the history of India; and in 1814 he was certainly endeavouring to raise money to put Mill above the need of precarious hack-work.[10] The anticipated difficulty of persuading Mill so far to sacrifice his independence was apparently fatal to the scheme. Place was in occasional communication with Bentham, and visited him at Ford Abbey in 1817. He became intimate with the great man; helped him in business affairs; and was one of the disciples employed to prepare his books for publication.[11] Bentham was the source of philosophy, and Mill only his prophet. But Mill, who was capable of activity in practical affairs, was more useful to a man of the world. The first business which brought them into close connection was the Lancasterian controversy. The strong interest roused by this agitation was significant of many difficulties to come. The average mind had been gradually coming to the conclusion that the poor should be taught to read and write. Sunday schools and Hannah More's schools in Somersetshire had drawn the attention of the religious world to the subject. During the early years of the century the education question had steadily become more prominent, and the growing interest was shown by a singularly bitter and complicated controversy. The opposite parties fought under the banners of Bell and Lancaster. Andrew Bell, born at St. Andrews, 27th March 1753, was both a canny Scot and an Anglican clergyman. He combined philanthropy with business faculties. He sailed to India in 1787 with L128, 10s. in his pocket to be an army chaplain; he returned in 1796 with L25,000 and a new system of education which he had devised as superintendent of an orphan asylum. He settled in England, published an account of his plan, and did something to bring it into operation. Meanwhile Joseph Lancaster (1770-1838), a young Quaker, had set up a school in London; he devised a plan similar to that of Bell, and in 1803 published an account of his improvements in education with acknowledgments to Bell. For a time the two were on friendly terms. Lancaster set about propagating his new system with more enthusiasm than discretion. His fame rapidly spread till it reached the throne. In 1805 George III. sent for him; the royal family subscribed to his schools; and the king declared his wish that every child in his dominions should be taught to read the Bible. The king's gracious wish unconsciously indicated a difficulty. Was it safe to teach the Bible without the safeguard of authorised interpretation? Orthodox opponents feared the alliance with a man whose first principle was toleration, and first among them was the excellent Mrs. Trimmer, who had been already engaged in the Sunday-school movement. She pointed out in a pamphlet that the schismatic Lancaster was weakening the Established Church. The Edinburgh Review came to his support in 1806 and 1807; for the Whig, especially if he was also a Scot, was prejudiced against the Church of England. Lancaster went on his way, but soon got into difficulties, for he was impetuous, careless of money, and autocratic. William Allen, with another Quaker, came to his support in 1808, and founded the Royal Lancasterian Society to maintain his school in the Borough Road, and propagate its like elsewhere. Lancaster travelled through the country, and the agitation prospered, and spread even to America. The church, however, was now fairly aroused. Bishop Marsh preached a sermon in St. Paul's, and followed it up by pamphlets; the cause was taken up by the Quarterly Review in 1811, and in the same year the National Society was founded to 'educate the poor in the principles of the Established Church.' Bell had suggested a national system, but the times were not ripe. Meanwhile the controversy became furious. The Edinburgh and the Quarterly thundered on opposite sides. Immense importance was attached by both parties to the scheme devised by Bell, and partly adopted by Lancaster. The war involved a personal element and the charges of plagiarism which give spice to a popular controversy. All parties, and certainly the Utilitarians, strangely exaggerated the value of the new method. They regarded the proposal that children should be partly taught by other children instead of being wholly taught by adults as a kind of scientific discovery which would enormously simplify and cheapen education. Believers in the 'Panopticon' saw in it another patent method of raising the general level of intelligence. But the real question was between church and dissent. Was the church catechism to be imposed or not? This, as we have seen, was the occasion of Bentham's assault upon church and catechism. On the other side, Bell's claims were supported with enthusiasm by all the Tories, and by such men as Southey and Coleridge. Southey, who had defended Bell in the Quarterly,[12] undertook to be Bell's biographer[13] and literary executor. Coleridge was so vehement in the cause that when lecturing upon 'Romeo and Juliet' in 1811, he plunged by way of exordium into an assault upon Lancaster's modes of punishment.[14] De Quincey testifies that he became a positive bore upon Bell's virtues. In 1812 Lancaster had got deeply into debt to the trustees of the Society, who included besides Allen, Joseph Fox—a 'shallow, gloomy bigot' according to Place—and some other Quakers. Lancaster resented their control, and in 1812 made over his Borough Road school to them, and set up one of his own at Tooting. They continued, however, to employ him, and in 1813 formed themselves into the 'British and Foreign' School Society. Place had known Lancaster from 1804, and Mill had supported him in the press. They both became members of the committee, though Place took the most active part. He makes many grave charges against Lancaster, whom he regarded as hopelessly flighty and impracticable, if not worse. Ultimately in 1814 Lancaster resigned his position, and naturally retorted that Place was an infidel. Place, meanwhile, was ill at ease with the 'gloomy bigot,' as he calls Fox. After many quarrels, Fox succeeded in getting the upper hand, and Place finally withdrew from the committee in 1815.

Two other schemes arose out of this, in which Mill was specially interested, but which both proved abortive. Mill and Place resolved in 1813 to start a 'West London Lancasterian Institution,' which was to educate the whole population west of Temple Bar. They were joined by Edward Wakefield, father of the Edward Gibbon Wakefield who in later years was known as an economist, and himself author of a work of considerable reputation, An Account of Ireland, Statistical and Political (1812). The three joined Joseph Fox, and ultimately a meeting was held in August 1813. Sir James Mackintosh was in the chair. Mill wrote the address, and motions were proposed by his friend Joseph Hume and by William Allen. Papers were circulated, headed 'Schools for all,'[15] and the institution was launched with a sufficiency of applause. But the 'gloomy bigot' was secretary. He declared that he would rather see the institution destroyed than permit it to be used for infidel purposes. The Bible was, of course, to be read in the schools, but Fox wished that the Bible alone should be read. As the committee, according to Place, included four infidels, three Unitarians, six Methodists, two Baptists, two Roman Catholics, and several members of the Established Church, it was hardly a happy family. To add to the confusion, Sir Francis Burdett, who had contributed a thousand pounds, had taken it into his head that Place was a government spy.[16] The Association, as is hardly surprising, ceased to exist in 1816, after keeping up a school of less than three hundred children, and ended in hopeless failure. The Utilitarians had higher hopes from a scheme of their own. This was the Chrestomathic school which occasioned Bentham's writing. An association was formed in February 1814. Mackintosh, Brougham, Mill, Allen, Fox, and Wakefield were to be trustees. The school was to apply Lancasterian principles to the education of the middle classes, and Bentham was to supply them with a philosophy and with a site in his garden. There the old gentleman was to see a small version of the Panopticon building, and, for a time, he took great delight in the prospect. Gradually, however, it seems to have dawned upon him that there might be inconveniences in being overlooked by a set of even model schoolboys. There were difficulties as to funds. Ricardo offered L200 and collected subscriptions for L900, but Place thought that he might have been more liberal. About 1817 they counted upon subscriptions for L2310. Allen was treasurer, Place secretary, and the dukes of Kent and York were on the committee. Romilly was persuaded to join, and they had hopes of the L1000 given by Burdett to the West London Institution. But the thing could never be got into working order, in spite of Place's efforts and Mill's counsels; and, after painful haulings and tuggings, it finally collapsed in 1820.[17]

The efforts of the Utilitarians to effect anything directly in the way of education thus fell completely flat. One moral is sufficiently obvious. They were, after all, but a small clique, regarded with suspicion by all outsiders; and such a system as could seriously affect education could only be carried out either by government, which was thinking of very different things, or by societies already connected with the great religious bodies. The only function which could be adequately discharged by the little band of Utilitarians was to act upon public opinion; and this, no doubt, they could do to some purpose. I have gone so far into these matters in order to illustrate their position; but, as will be seen, Mill, though consulted at every stage by Place, and doing what he could to advocate the cause, was, after all, in the background. He was still wrestling with the Indian History, which was, as he hoped, to win for him an independent position. The effort was enormous. In 1814 he told Place that he was working at the History from 5 A.M. till 11 P.M. When at Ford Abbey his regular day's work began at 6 A.M. and lasted till 11 P.M., during which time three hours were given to teaching his children, and a couple of short walks supplied him with recreation. How, with all his energy, he managed to pay his way is a mystery, which his biographer is unable fully to solve.[18]

The History at last appeared in 3 vols. 4to, at the end of 1817. Dry and stern as its author, and embodying some of his political prejudices, it was at least a solid piece of work, which succeeded at once, and soon became the standard book upon the subject. Mill argues in the preface with characteristic courage that his want of personal knowledge of India was rather an advantage. It made him impartial. A later editor[19] has shown that it led to some serious misconceptions. It is characteristic of the Utilitarian attitude to assume that a sufficient knowledge of fact can always be obtained from blue-books and statistics. Some facts require imagination and sympathy to be appreciated, and there Mill was deficient. He could not give an adequate picture of Hindoo beliefs and customs, though he fully appreciated the importance of such questions. Whatever its shortcomings, the book produced a remarkable change in Mill's position. He applied for a vacant office in the India House. His friends, Joseph Hume and Ricardo, made interest for him in the city. Place co-operated energetically.[20] Canning, then president of the Board of Control, is said to have supported him; and the general impression of his ability appears to have caused his election, in spite of some Tory opposition. He became Assistant to the Examiner of India Correspondence, with a salary of L800 on 12th May 1819. On 10th April 1821 he became Second Assistant, with L1000 a year; on 9th April 1823 he was made Assistant Examiner, with L1200 a year; and on 1st December 1830 Examiner, with L1900, which on 17th February 1836 was raised to L2000. The official work came in later years to absorb the greatest part of Mill's energy, and his position excluded him from any active participation in politics, had he ever been inclined for it. Mill, however, set free from bondage, was able to exert himself very effectually with his pen; and his writings became in a great degree the text-books of his sect.

During 1818 he had again co-operated with Place in a political matter. The dissolution of parliament in 1818 produced another contest at Westminster. Place and Mill were leaders in the Radical committee, which called a public meeting, where Burdett and Kinnaird were chosen as candidates. They were opposed to Romilly, the old friend of Bentham and of Mill himself. Both Mill and Bentham regarded him as not sufficiently orthodox. Romilly, however, was throughout at the head of the poll, and the Radical committee were obliged to withdraw their second candidate, Kinnaird, in order to secure the election of Burdett against the government candidate Maxwell. Romilly soon afterwards dined at Bentham's house, and met Mill, with Dumont, Brougham, and Rush, on friendly terms. On Romilly's sad death on 2nd November following, Mill went to Worthing to offer his sympathy to the family, and declared that the 'gloom' had 'affected his health.' He took no part in the consequent election, in which Hobhouse stood unsuccessfully as the Radical candidate.


Politics were beginning to enter upon a new phase. The period was marked by the 'Six Acts' and the 'Peterloo massacre.' The Radical leaders who upheld the cause in those dark days were not altogether to the taste of the Utilitarians. After Burdett, John Cartwright (1740-1824) and Henry (or 'Orator') Hunt (1773-1835), hero of the 'Peterloo massacre,' were the most conspicuous. They were supported by Cobbett, the greatest journalist of the time, and various more obscure writers. The Utilitarians held them in considerable contempt. Burdett was flashy, melodramatic, and vain; Hunt an 'unprincipled demagogue'; and Cartwright, the Nestor of reform, who had begun his labours in 1780, was, according to Place, wearisome, impracticable, and a mere nuisance in matters of business. The Utilitarians tried to use such men, but shared the Tory opinion of their value. They had some relations with other obscure writers who were martyrs to the liberty of the press. Place helped William Hone in the Reformer's Register, which was brought out in 1817. The famous trial in which Hone triumphed over Ellenborough occurred at the end of that year. Richard Carlile (1790-1843), who reprinted Hone's pamphlets, and in 1818 published Paine's works, was sentenced in 1819 to three years' imprisonment; and while in confinement began the Republican, which appeared from 1819 to 1826. Ultimately he passed nine years in jail, and showed unflinching courage in maintaining the liberty of speech. The Utilitarians, as Professor Bain believes, helped him during his imprisonments, and John Mill's first publication was a protest against his prosecution.[21] A 'republican, an atheist, and Malthusian,' he was specially hated by the respectable, and had in all these capacities claims upon the sympathy of the Utilitarians. One of Carlile's first employments was to circulate the Black Dwarf, edited by Thomas Jonathan Wooler from 1817 to 1824.[22] This paper represented Cartwright, but it also published Bentham's reform Catechism, besides direct contributions and various selections from his works.

The Utilitarians were opposed on principle to Cobbett, a reformer of a type very different from their own; and still more vitally opposed to Owen, who was beginning to develop his Socialist schemes. If they had sympathy for Radicalism of the Wooler or Carlile variety, they belonged too distinctly to the ranks of respectability, and were too deeply impressed with the necessity of reticence, to allow their sympathies to appear openly. As, on the other hand, they were too Radical in their genuine creed to be accepted by Edinburgh Reviewers and frequenters of Holland House, there was a wide gap between them and the genuine Whig. Their task therefore was to give a political theory which should be Radical in principle, and yet in such a form as should appeal to the reason of the more cultivated readers without too openly shocking their prejudices.

James Mill achieved this task by the publication of a series of articles in the Supplement to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which appeared from 1816 to 1823, of which I shall presently speak at length. It passed for the orthodox profession of faith among the little circle of friends who had now gathered round him. First among them was David Ricardo. He had become known to Mill in 1811. 'I,' said Bentham, 'was the spiritual father of Mill, and Mill the spiritual father of Ricardo.'[23] Mill was really the disciple of Ricardo in economics; but it was Mill who induced him to publish his chief work, and Mill's own treatise upon the subject published in 1820 is substantially an exposition of Ricardo's doctrine. Mill, too, encouraged Ricardo to take a seat in parliament in 1818, and there for the short remainder of his life, Ricardo defended the characteristic Utilitarian principles with the authority derived from his reputation as an economist.[24] The two were now especially intimate. During Mill's first years in the India House, his only recreation was an annual visit to Ricardo at Gatcombe. Meetings at Ricardo's house in London led to the foundation of the 'Political Economy Club' in 1821. Mill drafted the rules of the club, emphasising the duty of members to propagate sound economic opinions through the press. The club took root and helped to make Mill known to politicians and men of commercial influence. One of the members was Malthus, who is said, and the assertion is credible enough, to have been generally worsted by Mill in the discussions at the club. Mill was an awkward antagonist, and Malthus certainly not conspicuous for closeness of logic. The circle of Mill's friends naturally extended as his position in the India House enabled him to live more at his ease and brought him into contact with men of political position. His old school-fellow Joseph Hume had made a fortune in India, and returned to take a seat in parliament and become the persistent and tiresome advocate of many of the Utilitarian doctrines. A younger generation was growing up, enthusiastic in the cause of reform, and glad to sit at the feet of men who claimed at least to be philosophical leaders. John Black (1783-1855), another sturdy Scot, who came from Duns in Berwickshire, had, in 1817, succeeded Perry as editor of the Morning Chronicle. The Chronicle was an opposition paper, and day by day Black walked with Mill from the India House, discussing the topics of the time and discharging himself through the Chronicle. The Chronicle declined after 1821, owing to a change in the proprietorship.[25] Albany Fonblanque (1793-1872) took to journalism at an early age, succeeded Leigh Hunt as leader-writer for the Examiner in 1826, became another exponent of Utilitarian principles, and for some time in alliance with John Stuart Mill was among the most effective representatives of the new school in the press. John Ramsay M'Culloch (1789-1864) upheld the economic battle in the Scotsman at Edinburgh from 1817-1827, and edited it from 1818-1820. He afterwards devoted himself to lecturing in London, and was for many years the most ardent apostle of the 'dismal science.' He was a genial, whisky-loving Scot; the favourite object of everybody's mimicry; and was especially intimate with James Mill. Many other brilliant young men contributed their help in various ways. Henry Bickersteth (1783-1851), afterwards Lord Langdale and Master of the Rolls, had brought Bentham and Burdett into political alliance; and his rising reputation at the bar led to his being placed in 1824 upon a commission for reforming the procedure of the Court of Chancery, one of the most cherished objects of the Utilitarian creed. Besides these there were the group of young men, who were soon to be known as the 'philosophical Radicals.' John Stuart Mill, upon whom the mantle of his father was to descend, was conspicuous by his extraordinary precocity, and having been carefully educated in the orthodox faith, was employed in 1825 upon editing Bentham's great work upon evidence. George Grote (1794-1871), the future historian, had been introduced to Mill by Ricardo; and was in 1821 defending Mill's theory of government against Mackintosh, and in 1822 published the Analysis of Revealed Religion, founded upon Bentham's manuscripts and expressing most unequivocally the Utilitarian theory of religion. With them were associated the two Austins, John (1790-1859) who, in 1821, lived close to Bentham and Mill in Queen's Square, and who was regarded as the coming teacher of the Utilitarian system of jurisprudence; and Charles (1799-1874), who upheld the true faith among the young gentlemen at Cambridge with a vigour and ability which at least rivalled the powers of his contemporary, Macaulay. Meanwhile, Mill himself was disqualified by his office from taking any direct part in political agitations. Place continued an active connection with the various Radical committees and associations; but the younger disciples had comparatively little concern in such matters. They were more interested in discussing the applications of Utilitarianism in various directions, or, so far as they had parliamentary aspirations, were aspiring to found a separate body of 'philosophical Radicals,' which looked down upon Place and his allies from the heights of superior enlightenment.

Mill could now look forward to a successful propaganda of the creed which had passed so slowly through its period of incubation. The death of Ricardo in 1823 affected him to a degree which astonished his friends, accustomed only to his stern exterior. A plentiful crop of young proselytes, however, was arising to carry on the work; and the party now became possessed of the indispensable organ. The Westminster Review was launched at the beginning of 1824. Bentham provided the funds; Mill's official position prevented him from undertaking the editorship, which was accordingly given to Bentham's young disciple, Bowring, helped for a time by Henry Southern. The Westminster was to represent the Radicals as the two older reviews represented the Whigs and the Tories; and to show that the new party had its philosophers and its men of literary cultivation as well as its popular agitators and journalists. It therefore naturally put forth its claims by opening fire in the first numbers against the Edinburgh and the Quarterly Reviews. The assault upon the Edinburgh Review, of which I shall speak presently, made an impression, and, as J. S. Mill tells us, brought success to the first number of the new venture. The gauntlet was thrown down with plenty of vigour, and reformers were expected to rally round so thoroughgoing a champion. In later numbers Mill afterwards (Jan. 9, 1826) fell upon Southey's Book of the Church, and (April 1826) assailed church establishments in general. He defended toleration during the same year in a review of Samuel Bailey's Formation of Opinions, and gave a general account of his political creed in an article (October) on the 'State of the Nation.' This was his last contribution to the Westminster; but in 1827 he contributed to the Parliamentary History and Review, started by James Marshall of Leeds, an article upon recent debates on reform, which ended for a time his political writings.

The Utilitarians had no great talent for cohesion. Their very principles were indeed in favour of individual independence, and they were perhaps more ready to diverge than to tolerate divergence. The Westminster Review had made a good start, and drew attention to the rising 'group'—J. S. Mill declares that it never formed a 'school.'[26] From the very first the Mills distrusted Bowring and disapproved of some articles; the elder Mill failed to carry his disciples with him, partly because they were already in favour of giving votes to women; and as the Review soon showed itself unable to pay its way, some new arrangement became necessary. It was finally bought by Perronet Thompson, and ceased for a time to be the official organ of Benthamism.

Another undertaking occupied much of Mill's attention in the following years. The educational schemes of the Utilitarians had so far proved abortive. In 1824, however, it had occurred to the poet, Thomas Campbell, then editing the New Monthly Magazine, that London ought to possess a university comparable to that of Berlin, and more on a level with modern thought than the old universities of Oxford and Cambridge, which were still in the closest connection with the church. Campbell addressed a letter to Brougham, and the scheme was taken up energetically on several sides. Place[27] wrote an article, which he offered to Campbell for the New Monthly, who declined out of modesty to publish it in his own organ. It was then offered to Bowring for the Westminster, and ultimately suppressed by him, which may have been one of the causes of his differences with the Mills. Brougham took a leading part in the agitation; Joseph Hume promised to raise L100,000. George Birkbeck, founder of the Mechanics' Institution, and Zachary Macaulay, who saw in it a place of education for dissenting ministers, joined the movement, and among the most active members of the new body were James Mill and Grote. A council was formed at the end of 1825, and after various difficulties a sum of L160,000 was raised, and the university started in Gower Street in 1828. Among the first body of professors were John Austin and M'Culloch, both of them sound Utilitarians. The old difficulty, however, made itself felt. In order to secure the unsectarian character of the university, religious teaching was omitted. The college was accused of infidelity. King's College was started in opposition; and violent antipathies were aroused. A special controversy raged within the council itself. Two philosophical chairs were to be founded; and philosophy cannot be kept clear of religion. After long discussions, one chair was filled by the appointment of the Reverend John Hoppus, an independent minister. Grote, declaring that no man, pledged by his position to the support of any tenets, should be appointed, resigned his place on the council.[28] The university in 1836 became a college combined with its rival King's College under the newly formed examining body called the University of London. It has, I suppose, been of service to education, and may be regarded as the one practical achievement of the Utilitarians in that direction, so far as its foundation was due to them. It must, however, be admitted that the actual body still falls very far short of the ideal present to the minds of its founders.

From 1822 James Mill spent his vacations at Dorking, and afterwards at Mickleham. He had devoted them to a task which was necessary to fill a gap in the Utilitarian scheme. Hitherto the school had assumed, rather than attempted to establish, a philosophical basis of its teaching. Bentham's fragmentary writings about the Chrestomathic school supplied all that could by courtesy be called a philosophy. Mill, however, had been from the first interested in philosophical questions. His reading was not wide; he knew something of the doctrines taught by Stewart and Stewart's successor, Brown. He had been especially impressed by Hobbes, to some degree by Locke and Hume, but above all by Hartley. He knew something, too, of Condillac and the French Ideologists. Of recent German speculation he was probably quite ignorant. I find indeed that Place had called his attention to the account of Kant, published by Wirgman in the Encyclopaedia Londinensis 1817. Mill about the same time tells Place that he has begun to read The Critic of Pure Reason. 'I see clearly enough,' he says, 'what poor Kant would be about, but it would require some time to give an account of him.' He wishes (December 6, 1817) that he had time to write a book which would 'make the human mind as plain as the road from Charing Cross to St. Paul's.'[29] This was apparently the task to which he applied himself in his vacations. The Analysis appeared in 1829, and, whatever its defects of incompleteness and one-sidedness from a philosophical point of view, shows in the highest degree Mill's powers of close, vigorous statement; and lays down with singular clearness the psychological doctrine, which from his point of view supplied the fundamental theorems of knowledge in general. It does not appear, however, to have made an impression proportionate to the intellectual power displayed, and had to wait a long time before reaching the second edition due to the filial zeal of J. S. Mill.

James Mill, after his articles in the Westminster, could take little part in political agitation. He was still consulted by Place in regard to the Reform movement. Place himself took an important part at the final crisis, especially by his circulation in the week of agony of the famous placard, 'Go for Gold.' But the Utilitarians were now lost in the crowd. The demand for reform had spread through all classes. The attack upon the ruling class carried on by the Radicals of all shades in the dark days of Sidmouth and the six Acts was now supported by the nation at large. The old Toryism could no longer support itself by appealing to the necessities of a struggle for national existence. The prestige due to the victorious end of the war had faded away. The Reform Bill of 1832 was passed, and the Utilitarians hoped that the millennium would at least begin to dawn.

Mill in 1830 removed from Queen's Square to Vicarage Place, Kensington. He kept his house at Mickleham, and there took long Sunday walks with a few of his disciples. His strength was more and more absorbed in his official duties. He was especially called upon to give evidence before the committees which from 1830 to 1833 considered the policy to be adopted in renewing the charter of the East India Company. Mill appeared as the advocate of the company, defended their policy, and argued against the demands of the commercial body which demanded the final suppression of the old trading monopoly of the Company. The abolition, indeed, was a foregone conclusion; but Mill's view was not in accordance with the doctrines of the thoroughgoing freetraders. His official experience, it seems, upon this and other matters deterred him from the a priori dogmatism too characteristic of his political speculations. Mill also suggested the formation of a legislative council, which was to contain one man 'versed in the philosophy of men and government.' This was represented by the appointment of the legal member of council in the Act of 1833. Mill approved of Macaulay as the first holder of the post. It was 'very handsome' of him, as Macaulay remarks, inasmuch as the famous articles written by Macaulay himself, in which the Edinburgh had at last retorted upon the Utilitarians, must still have been fresh in his memory. The 'Penal Code' drawn by Macaulay as holder of the office was the first actual attempt to carry out Bentham's favourite schemes under British rule, and the influence of the chief of Bentham's disciples at the India House may have had something to do with its initiation. Macaulay's chief subordinate, it may be remarked, Charles Hay Cameron, was one of the Benthamites, and had been proposed by Grote for the chair at the London University ultimately filled by Hoppus.

After 1830 Mill wrote the severe fragment on Mackintosh, which, after a delay caused by Mackintosh's death, appeared in 1835. He contributed some articles to the London Review, founded by Sir W. Molesworth, as an organ of the 'philosophical Radicals,' and superintended, though not directly edited, by J. S. Mill. These, his last performances, repeat the old doctrines. It does not appear, indeed, that Mill ever altered one of his opinions. He accepted Bentham's doctrine to the end, as unreservedly as a mathematician might accept Newton's Principia.

Mill's lungs had begun to be affected. It was supposed that they were injured by the dust imbibed on coach journeys to Mickleham. He had a bad attack of haemorrhage in August 1835, and died peacefully on 23rd June 1836.

What remains to be said of Mill personally may be suggested by a noticeable parallel. S. T. Coleridge, born about six months before Mill, died two years before him. The two lives thus coincided for more than sixty years, and each man was the leader of a school. In all else the contrast could hardly be greater. If we were to apply the rules of ordinary morality, it would be entirely in Mill's favour. Mill discharged all his duties as strenuously as a man could, while Coleridge's life was a prolonged illustration of the remark that when an action presented itself to him as a duty he became physically incapable of doing it. Whatever Mill undertook he accomplished, often in the face of enormous difficulties. Coleridge never finished anything, and his works are a heap of fragments of the prolegomena to ambitious schemes. Mill worked his hardest from youth to age, never sparing labour or shirking difficulties or turning aside from his path. Coleridge dawdled through life, solacing himself with opium, and could only be coaxed into occasional activity by skilful diplomacy. Mill preserved his independence by rigid self-denial, temperance, and punctuality. Coleridge was always dependent upon the generosity of his friends. Mill brought up a large family, and in the midst of severe labours found time to educate them even to excess. Coleridge left his wife and children to be cared for by others. And Coleridge died in the odour of sanctity, revered by his disciples, and idolised by his children; while Mill went to the grave amidst the shrugs of respectable shoulders, and respected rather than beloved by the son who succeeded to his intellectual leadership.

The answer to the riddle is indeed plain enough; or rather there are many superabundantly obvious answers. Had Mill defended orthodox views and Coleridge been avowedly heterodox, we should no doubt have heard more of Coleridge's opium and of Mill's blameless and energetic life. But this explains little. That Coleridge was a man of genius and, moreover, of exquisitely poetical genius, and that Mill was at most a man of remarkable talent and the driest and sternest of logicians is also obvious. It is even more to the purpose that Coleridge was overflowing with kindliness, though little able to turn goodwill to much effect; whereas Mill's morality took the form chiefly of attacking the wicked. This is indicated by the saying attributed by Bowring to Bentham that Mill's sympathy for the many sprang out of his hatred of the oppressing few.[30] J. S. Mill very properly protested against this statement when it was quoted in the Edinburgh Review. It would obviously imply a gross misunderstanding, whether Bentham, not a good observer of men, said so or not. But it indicates the side of Mill's character which made him unattractive to contemporaries and also to posterity. He partook, says his son,[31] of the Stoic, the Epicurean, and the Cynic character. He was a Stoic in his personal qualities; an Epicurean so far as his theory of morals was concerned; and a Cynic in that he cared little for pleasure. He thought life a 'poor thing' after the freshness of youth had passed; and said that he had never known an old man happy unless he could live over again in the pleasures of the young. Temperance and self-restraint were therefore his favourite virtues. He despised all 'passionate emotions'; he held with Bentham that feelings by themselves deserved neither praise nor blame; he condemned a man who did harm whether the harm came from malevolence or from intellectual error. Therefore all sentiment was objectionable, for sentiment means neglect of rules and calculations. He shrank from showing feeling with more than the usual English reserve; and showed his devotion to his children by drilling them into knowledge with uncompromising strictness. He had no feeling for the poetical or literary side of things; and regarded life, it would seem, as a series of arguments, in which people were to be constrained by logic, not persuaded by sympathy. He seems to have despised poor Mrs. Mill, and to have been unsuccessful in concealing his contempt, though in his letters he refers to her respectfully. Mill therefore was a man little likely to win the hearts of his followers, though his remarkable vigour of mind dominated their understandings.

The amiable and kindly, whose sympathies are quickly moved, gain an unfair share of our regard both in life and afterwards. We are more pleased by an ineffectual attempt to be kindly, than by real kindness bestowed ungraciously. Mill's great qualities should not be overlooked because they were hidden by a manner which seems almost deliberately repellent. He devoted himself through life to promote the truth as he saw it; to increase the scanty amounts of pleasures enjoyed by mankind; and to discharge all the duties which he owed to his neighbours. He succeeded beyond all dispute in forcibly presenting one set of views which profoundly influenced his countrymen; and the very narrowness of his intellect enabled him to plant his blows more effectively.


[1] The chief authority for James Mill is James Mill: a Biography, by Alexander Bain, Emeritus Professor of Logic in the University of Aberdeen, London, 1882. The book contains very full materials; and, if rather dry, deals with a dry subject.

[2] Wallas's Francis Place, p. 70 n.

[3] Bain's James Mill, p. 166.

[4] Gifford's real name was John Richards Green. The identity of his assumed name with that of the more famous William Gifford has led to a common confusion between the two periodicals. 'Peter Pindar' assaulted William Gifford under the erroneous impression that he was editor of the second.

[5] Letter in Bain's James Mill, pp. 136-40.

[6] Autobiography, p. 39.

[7] Bain's James Mill, pp. 97-106. Mill appears to have said something 'extravagant' about Bentham in an article upon Miranda in the Edinburgh Review for January 1809. He also got some praises of Bentham into the Annual Review of 1809 (Bain, 92-96).

[8] See the very interesting Life of Francis Place, by Mr. Graham Wallas, 1898.

[9] Bain's James Mill, p. 78, and Wallas's Francis Place, p. 66.

[10] Wallas's Francis Place, p. 68.

[11] He 'put together' the Not Paul but Jesus at Ford Abbey in 1817, and helped to preface the Reform Catechism. Wallas's Francis Place, p. 84.

[12] The article of 1811 was also published separately.

[13] He wrote only the first volume. Two others were added by Cuthbert Southey.

[14] Lectures (Ashe, 1885), pp. 32, 61.

[15] James Mill, according to Place, wrote a 'memorable and admirable essay, "Schools for all, not schools for Churchmen only."'—Wallas's Francis Place, 99 n.

[16] This absurd suspicion was aroused by the quarrel about Burdett's arrest. See Wallas's Place, p. 56.

[17] Mr. Wallas gives an account of these schemes in chap. iv. of his Life of Place. I have also consulted Place's collections in Additional MSS., 27,823.

[18] Bain's James Mill, p. 162.

[19] H. H. Wilson in his preface to the edition of 1840.

[20] Wallas's Francis Place, p. 78.

[21] Bain's James Mill, p. 435.

[22] Ibid. p. 433.

[23] Bentham's Works, p. 498.

[24] See Carman in Economic Review, 1894.

[25] See under Black in Dictionary of National Biography.

[26] Autobiography, p. 101.

[27] See Place's account in Additional MSS. 27,823.

[28] G. C. Robertson, Philosophical Remains, p. 166; and under George Grote in Dictionary of National Biography.

[29] Letters communicated by Mr. Graham Wallas. See Mr. Wallas's Francis Place, p. 91.

[30] So Place observed that Mill 'could help the mass, but could not help the individual, not even himself or his own.'—Wallas's Francis Place, p. 79.

[31] Autobiography, p. 48.




The last years of Mill's life correspond to the period in which Utilitarianism reached, in certain respects, its highest pitch of influence. The little band who acknowledged him as their chief leader, and as the authorised lieutenant of Bentham, considered themselves to be in the van of progress. Though differing on many points from each other, and regarded with aversion or distrust by the recognised party leaders, they were in their most militant and confident state of mind. They were systematically reticent as to their religious views: they left to popular orators the public advocacy of their favourite political measures; and the credit of finally passing such of those measures as were adopted fell chiefly to the hands of the great political leaders. The Utilitarians are ignored in the orthodox Whig legend. In the preface to his collected works, Sydney Smith runs over the usual list of changes which had followed, and, as he seems to think, had in great part resulted from, the establishment of the Edinburgh Review. Smith himself, and Jeffrey and Horner and, above all, 'the gigantic Brougham,' had blown the blast which brought down the towers of Jericho. Sir G. O. Trevelyan, in his Life of Macaulay, describes the advent of the Whigs to office in a similar sense. 'Agitators and incendiaries,' he says, 'retired into the background, as will always be the case when the country is in earnest: and statesmen who had much to lose, and were not afraid to risk it, stepped quietly and firmly to the front. The men and the sons of the men who had so long endured exclusion from office, embittered by unpopularity, at length reaped their reward.'[32] The Radical version of the history is different. The great men, it said, who had left the cause to be supported by agitators so long as the defence was dangerous and profitless, stepped forward now that it was clearly winning, and received both the reward and the credit. Mill and Place could not find words to express their contempt for the trimming, shuffling Whigs. They were probably unjust enough in detail; but they had a strong case in some respects. The Utilitarians represented that part of the reforming party which had a definite and a reasoned creed. They tried to give logic where the popular agitators were content with declamation, and represented absolute convictions when the Whig reformers were content with tentative and hesitating compromises. They had some grounds for considering themselves to be the 'steel of the lance'; the men who formulated and deliberately defended the principles which were beginning to conquer the world.

The Utilitarians, I have said, became a political force in the concluding years of the great war struggle. The catastrophe of the revolution had unchained a whole whirlwind of antagonisms. The original issues had passed out of sight; and great social, industrial, and political changes were in progress which made the nation that emerged from the war a very different body from the nation that had entered it nearly a generation before. It is not surprising that at first very erroneous estimates were made of the new position when peace at last returned.

The Radicals, who had watched on one side the growth of debt and pauperism, and, on the other hand, the profits made by stockjobbers, landlords, and manufacturers, ascribed all the terrible sufferings to the selfish designs of the upper classes. When the war ended they hoped that the evils would diminish, while the pretext for misgovernment would be removed. A bitter disappointment followed. The war was followed by widespread misery. Plenty meant ruin to agriculturists, and commercial 'gluts' resulting in manufacturers' warehouses crammed with unsaleable goods. The discontent caused by misery had been encountered during the war by patriotic fervour. It was not a time for redressing evils, when the existence of the nation was at stake. Now that the misery continued, and the excuse for delaying redress had been removed, a demand arose for parliamentary reform. Unfortunately discontent led also to sporadic riotings, to breaking of machinery and burning of ricks. The Tory government saw in these disturbances a renewal of the old Jacobin spirit, and had visions—apparently quite groundless—of widespread conspiracies and secret societies ready to produce a ruin of all social order. It had recourse to the old repressive measures, the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, the passage of the 'Six Acts,' and the prosecution of popular agitators. Many observers fancied that the choice lay between a servile insurrection and the establishment of arbitrary power.

By degrees, however, peace brought back prosperity. Things settled down; commerce revived; and the acute distress passed away. The whole nation went mad over the wrongs of Queen Caroline; and the demand for political reform became for the time less intense. But it soon appeared that, although this crisis had been surmounted, the temper of the nation had profoundly changed. The supreme power still belonged constitutionally to the landed interest. But it had a profoundly modified social order behind it. The war had at least made it necessary to take into account the opinions of larger classes. An appeal to patriotism means that some regard must be paid to the prejudices and passions of people at large. When enormous sums were to be raised, the moneyed classes would have their say as to modes of taxation. Commerce and manufactures went through crises of terrible difficulty due to the various changes of the war; but, on the whole, the industrial classes were steadily and rapidly developing in wealth, and becoming relatively more important. The war itself was, in one aspect at least, a war for the maintenance of the British supremacy in trade. The struggle marked by the policy of the 'Orders in Council' on one side, and Napoleon's decrees on the other, involved a constant reference to Manchester and Liverpool and the rapidly growing manufacturing and commercial interests. The growth, again, of the press, at a time when every one who could read was keenly interested in news of most exciting and important events, implied the rapid development of a great organ of public opinion.

The effects of these changes soon became palpable. The political atmosphere was altogether different; and an entirely new set of influences was governing the policy of statesmen. The change affected the Tory as much as the Whig. However strongly he might believe that he was carrying on the old methods, he was affected by the new ideas which had been almost unconsciously incorporated in his creed. How great was the change, and how much it took the shape of accepting Utilitarian theories, may be briefly shown by considering a few characteristic facts.

The ablest men who held office at the time were Canning, Huskisson, and Peel. They represented the conservatism which sought to distinguish itself from mere obstructiveness. Their influence was felt in many directions. The Holy Alliance had the sympathy of men who could believe that the war had brought back the pre-revolutionary order, and that its main result had been to put the Jacobin spirit in chains. Canning's accession to office in 1822 meant that the foreign policy of England was to be definitely opposed to the policy of the 'Holy Alliance.' A pithy statement of his view is given in a remarkable letter, dated 1st February 1823, to the prince who was soon to become Charles X.[33] The French government had declared that a people could only receive a free constitution as a gift from their legitimate kings. Should the English ministry, says Canning, after this declaration, support the French in their attack upon the constitutional government of Spain, it would be driven from office amid 'the execration of Tories and Whigs alike.' He thought that the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people was less alien to the spirit of the British Constitution than the opposite doctrine of the legitimists. In the early days, when Canning sat at the feet of Pitt, the war, if not in their eyes an Anti-Jacobin crusade, had to be supported by stimulating the Anti-Jacobin sentiment. In later days, the war had come to be a struggle against the oppression of nations by foreign despots. Canning could now accept the version of Pitt's policy which corresponded to the later phase. Englishmen in general had no more sympathy for despots who claimed a divine right than for despots who acted in the name of democracy—especially when the despots threatened to interfere with British trade. When Canning called 'the new world into existence to redress the balance of the old,'[34] he declared that English policy should resist threats from the Holy Alliance directed against some of our best customers. The general approval had special force among the Utilitarians. In the South American States Bentham had found eager proselytes, and had hoped to become a Solon. He had been consulted by the constitutionalists in Spain and Portugal; and he and his disciples, Joseph Hume in particular, had joined the Greek Committee, and tried to regenerate Athens by sound Utilitarian tracts. All English Liberals sympathised with the various movements which were more or less favoured by Canning's policy; but the Utilitarians could also see in them the opening of new fields already white for the harvest.

The foreign policy was significant. It proved that the war, whatever else it had done, had not brought back the old order; and the old British traditions in favour of liberty of speech and action would revive now that they were no longer trammelled by the fears of a destructive revolution. The days of July in 1830 gave fresh importance to the reaction of foreign upon English politics.


Meanwhile, however, the Utilitarians had a far stronger interest in domestic problems. In the first place, in Bentham's especial province a complete change of feeling had taken place. Romilly was Bentham's earliest disciple (so Bentham said), and looked up to him with 'filial reverence.' Every 'reformatiuncle' introduced by Romilly in parliament had been first brought to Bentham, to be conned over by the two.[35] With great difficulty Romilly had got two or three measures through the House of Commons, generally to be thrown out by Eldon's influence in the Lords.[36] After Romilly's death in 1818, the cause was taken up by the Whig philosopher, Sir James Mackintosh, and made a distinct step in advance. Though there were still obstacles in the upper regions, a committee was obtained to consider the frequency of capital punishment, and measures were passed to abolish it in particular cases. Finally, in 1823, the reform was adopted by Peel. Peel was destined to represent in the most striking way the process by which new ideas were gradually infiltrating the upper sphere. Though still a strong Tory and a representative of the university of Oxford, he was closely connected with the manufacturing classes, and had become aware, as he wrote to Croker (23rd March 1820), that public opinion had grown to be too large for its accustomed channels. As Home Secretary, he took up the whole subject of the criminal law, and passed in the next years a series of acts consolidating and mitigating the law, and repealing many old statutes. A measure of equal importance was his establishment in 1829 of the metropolitan police force, which at last put an end to the old chaotic muddle described by Colquhoun of parish officers and constables. Other significant legal changes marked the opening of a new era. Eldon was the very incarnation of the spirit of obstruction; and the Court of Chancery, over which he presided for a quarter of a century, was thought to be the typical stronghold of the evil principles denounced by Bentham. An attack in 1823 upon Eldon was made in the House of Commons by John Williams (1777-1846), afterwards a judge. Eldon, though profoundly irritated by the personal imputations involved, consented to the appointment of a commission, which reported in 1825, and recommended measures of reform. In 1828, Brougham made a great display upon which he had consulted Bentham.[37] In a speech of six hours' length he gave a summary of existing abuses, which may still be read with interest.[38] Commissions were appointed to investigate the procedure of the Common Law Court and the law of real property. Another commission, intended to codify the criminal law, was appointed in 1833. Brougham says that of 'sixty capital defects' described in his speech, fifty-five had been removed, or were in course of removal, when his speeches were collected (i.e. 1838). Another speech of Brougham's in 1828 dealt with the carrying into execution of a favourite plan of Bentham's—the formation of local courts, which ultimately became the modern county courts.[39] The facts are significant of a startling change—no less than an abrupt transition from the reign of entire apathy to a reign of continuous reform extending over the whole range of law. The Reform Bill accelerated the movement, but it had been started before Bentham's death. The great stone, so long immovable, was fairly set rolling.

Bentham's influence, again, in bringing about the change is undeniable. He was greatly dissatisfied with Brougham's speech, and, indeed, would have been dissatisfied with anything short of a complete logical application of his whole system. He held Brougham to be 'insincere,'[40] a trimmer and popularity-hunter, but a useful instrument. Brougham's astonishing vanity and self-seeking prompted and perverted his amazing activity. He represents the process, perhaps necessary, by which a philosopher's ideas have to be modified before they can be applied to practical application. Brougham, however, could speak generously of men no longer in a position to excite his jealousy. He says in the preface to his first speech that 'the age of law reform and the age of Jeremy Bentham' were the same thing, and declares Bentham to be the 'first legal philosopher' who had appeared in the world. As the Chief advocates of Bentham he reckons Romilly, his parliamentary representative; Dumont, his literary interpreter; and James Mill, who, in his article upon 'jurisprudence,' had popularised the essential principles of the doctrine.

The Utilitarians had at last broken up the barriers of obstruction and set the stream flowing. Whigs and Tories were taking up their theories. They naturally exaggerated in some respects the completeness of the triumph. The English law has not yet been codified, and it was characteristic of the Benthamite school to exaggerate the facility of that process. In their hatred of 'judge-made law' they assumed too easily that all things would be arranged into convenient pigeon-holes as soon as 'Judge and Co.' were abolished. It was a characteristic error to exaggerate the simplicity of their problem, and to fail to see that 'judge-made' law corresponds to a necessary inductive process by which the complex and subtle differences have to be gradually ascertained and fitted into a systematic statement. One other remark suggests itself. The Utilitarians saw in the dogged obstructiveness of Eldon and his like the one great obstacle to reform. It did not occur to them that the clumsiness of parliamentary legislation might be another difficulty. They failed to notice distinctly one tendency of their reforms. To make a code you require a sovereign strong enough to dominate the lawyers, not a system in which lawyers are an essential part of a small governing class. Codification, in short, means centralisation in one department. Blindness to similar results elsewhere was a characteristic of the Utilitarian thinkers.


In another department the Utilitarians boasted, and also with good reason, of the triumph of their tenets. Political economy was in the ascendant. Professorships were being founded in Oxford, Cambridge,[41] London, and Edinburgh. Mrs. Marcet's Conversations (1818) were spreading the doctrine among babes and sucklings. The Utilitarians were the sacred band who defended the strictest orthodoxy against all opponents. They spoke as recognised authorities upon some of the most vital questions of the day, of which I need here only notice Free Trade, the doctrine most closely associated with the teaching of their revered Adam Smith. In 1816 Ricardo remarks with satisfaction that the principle 'is daily obtaining converts' even among the most prejudiced classes; and he refers especially to a petition in which the clothiers of Gloucestershire[42] expressed their willingness to give up all restrictions. There was, indeed, an important set-off against this gain. The landowners were being pledged to protection. They had decided that in spite of the peace, the price of wheat must be kept up to 80s. a quarter. They would no longer be complimented as Adam Smith had complimented them on their superior liberality, and were now creating a barrier only to be stormed after a long struggle. Meanwhile the principle was making rapid way among their rivals. One symptom was the adoption by the London merchants in 1820 of a famous petition on behalf of free trade.[43] It was drawn up by Thomas Tooke (1774-1858), who had long been actively engaged in the Russian trade, and whose History of Prices is in some respects the most valuable economic treatise of the time. Tooke gives a curious account of his action on this occasion.[44] He collected a few friends engaged in commerce, who were opposed to the corn laws. He found that several of them had 'crude and confused' notions upon the subject, and that each held that his own special interests should be exempted on some pretext from the general rule. After various dexterous pieces of diplomacy, however, he succeeded in obtaining the signature of Samuel Thornton, a governor of the bank of England, and ultimately procured a sufficient number of signatures by private solicitation. He was favourably received by the Prime Minister Lord Liverpool, and Vansittart (then Chancellor of the Exchequer), and finally got the petition presented to the House of Commons by Alexander Baring (afterwards Lord Ashburton). Tooke remarks that the Liverpool administration was in advance, not only of the public generally, but of the 'mercantile community,' Glasgow and Manchester, however, followed in the same steps, and the petition became a kind of official manifesto of the orthodox doctrine. The Political Economy Club formed next year at Tooke's instigation (April 18, 1821) was intended to hasten the process of dispersing crude and confused ideas. It was essentially an organ of the Utilitarian propaganda.

The influence of the economists upon public policy was shown by the important measures carried through chiefly by Huskisson. Huskisson (1770-1830) was a type of the most intelligent official of his time. Like his more brilliant friend Canning, he had been introduced into office under Pitt, and retained a profound reverence for his early leader. Huskisson was a thorough man of business, capable of wrestling with blue-books, of understanding the sinking-fund, and having theories about the currency; a master of figures and statistics and the whole machinery of commerce. Though eminently useful, he might at any moment be applying some awkward doctrine from Adam Smith.

Huskisson began the series of economic reforms which were brought to their full development by Peel and Gladstone. The collection of his speeches[45] incidentally brings out very clearly his relation to the Utilitarians. The most remarkable is a great speech of April 24, 1826[46] (upon the state of the silk manufacture), of which Canning declared that he had never heard one abler, or which made a deeper impression upon the House. In this he reviews his policy, going over the most important financial measures of the preceding period. They made a new era, and he dates the beginning of the movement from the London petition, and the 'luminous speech' made by Baring when presenting it. We followed public opinion, he says, and did not create it.[47] Adopting the essential principles of the petition, the government had in the first place set free the great woollen trade. The silk trade had been emancipated by abolishing the Spitalfield Acts passed in the previous century, which enabled magistrates to fix the rates of wages. The principle of prohibition had been abandoned, though protective duties remained. The navigation laws had been materially relaxed, and steps taken towards removing restrictions of different kinds upon trade with France and with India. One symptom of the change was the consolidation of the custom law effected by James Deacon Hume (1774-1842), an official patronised by Huskisson, and an original member of the Political Economy Club. By a law passed in 1825, five hundred statutes dating from the time of Edward I. were repealed, and the essence of the law given in a volume of moderate size. Finally, the removal of prohibitions was undermining the smugglers.

The measures upon which Huskisson justly prided himself might have been dictated by the Political Economy Club itself. So far as they went they were an application of the doctrines of its thoroughgoing members, of Mill, Ricardo, and the orthodox school. They indeed supported him in the press. The Morning Chronicle, which expressed their views, declared him to be the most virtuous minister, that is (in true Utilitarian phrase), the most desirous of national welfare who had ever lived. The praise of Radicals would be not altogether welcome. Canning, in supporting his friend, maintained that sound commercial policy belonged no more to the Whigs than to the Tories. Huskisson and he were faithful disciples of Pitt, whose treaty with France in 1786, assailed by Fox and the Whigs, had been the first practical application of the Wealth of Nations. Neither party, perhaps, could claim a special connection with good or bad political economy; and certainly neither was prepared to incur political martyrdom in zeal for scientific truth. A question was beginning to come to the front which would make party lines dependent upon economic theories, and Huskisson's view of this was characteristic.

The speech from which I have quoted begins with an indignant retort upon a member who had applied to him Burke's phrase about a perfect-bred metaphysician exceeding the devil in malignity and contempt for mankind. Huskisson frequently protested even against the milder epithet of theorist. He asserted most emphatically that he appealed to 'experience' and not to 'theory,' a slippery distinction which finds a good exposure in Bentham's Book of Fallacies.[48] The doctrine, however, was a convenient one for Huskisson. He could appeal to experience to show that commercial restrictions had injured the woollen trade, and their absence benefited the cotton trade,[49] and when he was not being taunted with theories, he would state with perfect clearness the general free trade argument.[50] But he had to keep an eye to the uncomfortable tricks which theories sometimes play. He argued emphatically in 1825[51] that analogy between manufactures and agriculture is 'illogical.' He does not wish to depress the price of corn, but to keep it at such a level that our manufactures may not be hampered by dear food. Here he was forced by stress of politics to differ from his economical friends. The country gentleman did not wish to pay duties on his silk or his brandy, but he had a direct and obvious interest in keeping up the price of corn. Huskisson had himself supported the Corn Bill of 1815, but it was becoming more and more obvious that a revision would be necessary. In 1828 he declared that he 'lamented from the bottom of his soul the mass of evil and misery and destruction of capital which that law in the course of twelve years had produced.'[52] Ricardo, meanwhile, and the economists had from the first applied to agriculture the principles which Huskisson applied to manufactures.[53] Huskisson's melancholy death has left us unable to say whether upon this matter he would have been as convertible as Peel. In any case the general principle of free trade was as fully adopted by Huskisson and Canning as by the Utilitarians themselves. The Utilitarians could again claim to be both the inspirers of the first principles, and the most consistent in carrying out the deductions. They, it is true, were not generally biassed by having any interest in rents. They were to be the allies or teachers of the manufacturing class which began to be decidedly opposed to the squires and the old order.

In one very important economic question, the Utilitarians not only approved a change of the law, but were the main agents in bringing it about. Francis Place was the wire-puller, to whose energy was due the abolition of the Conspiracy Laws in 1824. Joseph Hume in the House of Commons, and M'Culloch, then editor of the Scotsman, had the most conspicuous part in the agitation, but Place worked the machinery of agitation. The bill passed in 1824 was modified by an act of 1825; but the modification, owing to Place's efforts, was not serious, and the act, as we are told on good authority, 'effected a real emancipation,' and for the first time established the right of 'collective bargaining.'[54] The remarkable thing is that this act, carried on the principles of 'Radical individualism' and by the efforts of Radical individualists, was thus a first step towards the application to practice of socialist doctrine. Place thought that the result of the act would be not the encouragement, but the decline, of trades-unions. The unions had been due to the necessity of combining against oppressive laws, and would cease when those laws were abolished.[55] This marks a very significant stage in the development of economic opinion.


The movement which at this period was most conspicuous politically was that which resulted in Roman Catholic emancipation, and here, too, the Utilitarians might be anticipating a complete triumph of their principles. The existing disqualifications, indeed, were upheld by little but the purely obstructive sentiment. When the duke of York swore that 'so help him God!' he would oppose the change to the last, he summed up the whole 'argument' against it. Canning and Huskisson here represented the policy not only of Pitt, but of Castlereagh. The Whigs, indeed, might claim to be the natural representatives of toleration. The church of England was thoroughly subjugated by the state, and neither Whig nor Tory wished for a fundamental change. But the most obvious differentia of Whiggism was a dislike to the ecclesiastical spirit. The Whig noble was generally more or less of a freethinker; and upon such topics Holland House differed little from Queen's Square Place, or differed only in a rather stricter reticence. Both Whig and Tory might accept Warburton's doctrine of an 'alliance' between church and state. The Tory inferred that the church should be supported. His prescription for meeting discontent was 'more yeomanry' and a handsome sum for church-building. The Whig thought that the church got a sufficient return in being allowed to keep its revenues. On the Tory view, the relation might be compared to that of man and wife in Christian countries where, though the two are one, the husband is bound to fidelity. On the Whig view it was like a polygamous system, where the wife is in complete subjection, and the husband may take any number of concubines. The Whig noble regarded the church as socially useful, but he was by no means inclined to support its interests when they conflicted with other political considerations. He had been steadily in favour of diminishing the privileges of the establishment, and had taken part in removing the grievances of the old penal laws. He was not prepared to uphold privileges which involved a palpable danger to his order.

This position is illustrated by Sydney Smith, the ideal divine of Holland House. The Plymley Letters[56] give his views most pithily. Smith, a man as full of sound sense as of genuine humour, appeals to the principles of toleration, and is keenly alive to the absurdity of a persecution which only irritates without conversion. But he also appeals to the danger of the situation. 'If Bonaparte lives,'[57] he says, 'and something is not done to conciliate the Catholics, it seems to me absolutely impossible but that we must perish.' We are like the captain of a ship attacked by a pirate, who should begin by examining his men in the church catechism, and forbid any one to sponge or ram who had not taken the sacrament according to the forms of the church of England. He confesses frankly that the strength of the Irish is with him a strong motive for listening to their claims. To talk of 'not acting from fear is mere parliamentary cant.'[58] Although the danger which frightened Smith was evaded, this was the argument which really brought conviction even to Tories in 1829. In any case the Whigs, whose great boast was their support of toleration, would not be prompted by any Quixotic love of the church to encounter tremendous perils in defence of its privileges.

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