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As if in order to justify his comparison of Rousseau's love affairs with that of John Stuart Mill in favour of the former, we are informed that Rousseau 'must have been called a chaste man even had he lived in our day,' and that the charges of immorality against him are ‘ridiculously feeble.'
Does he suppose that his readers have not read the Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau ? The candour of the author is the excuse made here for the revolting revelations of that autobiography. But this so-called candour is no virtue. It is rather a species of shamelessness, although Jean Jacques is primed with glib phrases expressive of self-disapproval while describing those episodes of his life which do not commend themselves for quotation here."
Lord Morley remarks : ‘Rousseau's repulsive and equivocal personality has deservedly fared ill in the esteem of the saner and more rational of those who have judged him.'
In short, if the Edinburgh critic considers that Rousseau 'cultivated morality and simplicity of life,' what value can praise or blame from his pen possess? Absolutely none.
In the last page of his article we are told that the only philosophical lesson we can learn from these lives is that--whether the talents were good or bad, large or small (the italics are mine), they were in each case drawn upon and exercised to the maximum extent of their capacity, and we are to learn to strive not ... even for what we think the public welfare, but simply to make the best of our talents, whithersoever they may lead. What if these talents lead us, like Rousseau, to theft and lying and even worse actions? It is still our talent, good or bad, that we are exercising. Is this the only philosophical lesson’ we can learn from the life of John Stuart Mill? To what a depth has criticism descended here !
Another proof of the deleterious influence exercised on Mill by his wife and step-daughter alleged in the Edinburgh Review is the asserted inferiority of the letters written by him after his marriage to those of an earlier date. Here again the fact that his intellectual friendship with Mrs. Taylor had survived the test of twenty years before he married her is conveniently ignored. That there is a 'vulgarisation and enfeeblement' in the letters that he wrote after meeting her in 1831, as compared with those he wrote before that date, every impartial critic will deny. Vulgarity is the last quality that can be attributed by a sincere and well-balanced mind to any of Mill's productions. But letters are only the by-product of a literary life, and by these, therefore, it cannot be judged. They are written not to instruct posterity, but for their immediate ends.
i On this subject see Francis Gribble's Women whom Rousseau loved,
If the quality of Mill's correspondence after his marriage was really in any way impaired this is no more than we should expect. In middle life he was attacked by consumption. That in spite of this, and of his arduous work at the India House, he was still engaged in writing for the public is simply a marvel, when we consider that he was compelled to spend his winters in our raw climate and in the confinement of an office, and that the disease did not leave him until one lung was destroyed. This fact I have heard from my father, who was an inmate of Mill's house, after the latter had married my grandmother, until his own marriage in 1860, subsequent to her death. Mill's remaining lung was not attacked ; consequently he recovered a tolerable degree of health, but his vitality was necessarily lowered. Mr. Courtney tells us that Mill's medical adviser at this time believed that general debility would probably prevent him from doing any other considerable work. The reviewer entirely ignores these considerations when attributing to the Taylor influence' the fact that in his judgment Mill wrote no great work after the age of thirty-nine. It is fortunate that the Logic and Political Economy were written previous to this ; works requiring such a prodigious amount of thought and labour could scarcely have been produced afterwards. Works as great in moral inspiration might have been, and were, written at a later date. In such circumstances was it any wonder if less care and thought were spent upon his correspondence than during his younger and more vigorous years ?
Besides, when a man has the satisfaction of close and constant intercourse with a chosen woman friend, capable of sharing in bis great ideas and of appreciating his grand visions for the future of humanity, he may naturally feel less craving for expressing himself by means of his pen to friends of his own sex.
Finally, the amount of general correspondence Mill had to deal with had by this time increased to almost unmanageable proportions, and no friend of his would have wished him to use up the spare strength that remained after the duties alluded to had been discharged, by long philosophical letters that were not essential to his life-work. One can imagine how much those who cared for Mill must have desired that he should shorten his correspondence and increase his hours of rest.
With regard to the assertion that Mrs. Mill was not received in society, I challenge the writer to bring forward his authority for this statement. It was Mill himself who declined to see the three ladies mentioned by Bain as having expressed their opinion freely on the previous platonic affection between my
VOL. LXXI-No. 420
grandmother and himself. It may be remarked that throughout her maturer years her health, as well as her natural tastes, had induced her to prefer a retired life. For many years before ber second marriage she had suffered from consumptive tendencies, and had been obliged to winter abroad. Bain, whose opinion as an intimate friend of Mill can hardly be gainsaid on such a point, makes the following observations:
Mill could almost always allow a visitor fifteen or twenty minutes in the course of his official day, and this was the only way he could be seen. He never went into any society, except the monthly meetings of the Political Economy Club. He was completely alienated from Mrs. Grote, while keeping up his intercourse with Grote himself, and as she was not the person to have an opinion without freely expressing it, I inferred that estrangement had reference to Mrs. Taylor. Mrs. Austin, too, I was told, came in for the cold shoulder, and Harriet Martineau, who had special opportunities of knowing the history of the connection, and also spoke her mind freely, was understood to be still more decisively under the ban. [The italics are my own.] He asked no one, so far as I know, to visit her. Grote would most cordially have paid his respects to her, had he known it would be agreeable ; but he did not receive any intimation to that effect, and never saw her either before or after her marriage to Mill. Mrs. Grote had on one occasion, at Mill's desire, taken her to the House of Commons to hear Grote speak. . . During all the years of her marriage with Mill she was properly described as an invalid.
It is evident that the critic in the Edinburgh Review makes the assertion referred to in the last paragraph with the intention of prejudicing his readers against Mrs. John Stuart Mill. That Mill had close communion with my grandmother for so many years with perfect propriety, and the countenance of my grandfather, would speak in most people's estimation for the inherent goodness of both natures. Not so in the eyes of this writer; the credit is entirely the man's, and we are to take this at his word. "John Stuart Mill,' he says, was by this same feature [his hatred of sensuality] preserved from immoral relations with Mrs. Taylor.' The insinuation that Mrs. Taylor was virtuous only because of Mill's impeccability shows that this anonymous critic, who professes to admire him, is incapable of appreciating the true greatness of either.
In answer to the statement that Mrs. Mill ‘had no unusual qualities of mind or body,' I shall content myself by quoting George Mill, who, while unable to recognise the extraordinary genius attributed to her by his brother John, yet spoke of her as a 'clever and remarkable woman.' The impression she left on the mind of her bereaved husband is touchingly conveyed in his letter, dated November 28, 1858, acknowledging Mr. Grote's tribute of sympathy after her decease : ‘Without any personal tie, merely to have known her as I do would have been enough to make life a blank now that she has disappeared from it. I seem to have
cared for things or persons, events, opinions on the future of the world, only because she cared for them : the sole motive that remains strong enough to give any interest to life is the desire to do what she would have wished.'
Reference is made in the article under consideration to the intellectual pretensions of Mrs. Taylor and Miss Helen Taylor. That John Stuart Mill found his inspiration and delight in my grandmother's companionship during twenty-seven years speaks infinitely more for her mental qualities than these studied yet shallow reflections can detract from either her intellectual or moral reputation. In what way did Miss Helen Taylor pretend to intellectuality ? Simply by giving up her life to her stepfather when her mother died. Had she left Mill alone, while pursuing her own path in life, instead of soothing him, as she knew her mother would have wished, by sharing his grief, distracting his thoughts by inducing him to travel, and assisting him with his books and correspondence and in any other way in which he desired her help, the reviewer would not then have accused her of pretending to intellectuality.
When the Letters, chiefly on public questions, appeared more than a year and a half ago there was a general demand in the Press
a for others of a more personal and domestic character. impossible to bring these out at the same time, as the book would have been swollen to too great dimensions. Besides, I felt that my personal editing would be required. Having many interesting letters of John Stuart Mill, and others bearing a Mill interest, I hope soon to carry out this work. As they only came into my possession in 1907, and two volumes have been already issued, it cannot be considered that there has been so far any unreasonable delay.
2 In the published Letters of John Stuart Mill a portrait was given of Mrs. Mill, which professed to be a copy of a cameo in my possession, but which was not a good reproduction. All those copies of the Letters that are now being sold contain an excellent engraving (substituted for the original one) which faithfully represents the beautiful likeness. Any persons who have the Letters of John Stuart Mill containing the inferior engraving, page 213, may obtain, cost free, this new production of the portrait from the publishers, who will also, if desired, insert it in their copy of the Letters in place of the original one.
THE LEGAL POSITION OF WOMEN
In all European countries women have been held in subjection for centuries. In legislation they have, in almost all conditions of life, been treated as subordinate to men. When legislation has been in the hands of the people women have been excluded, and the laws of all countries have borne and still bear unmistakable signs of having been worked out and enacted by men, and only by men.
The reasoning underlying this fact has been that as woman's proper place is within the four walls of the home she can have no concern in political and social questions and other matters of public interest. From childhood she has been educated to this dependent position. When married she was, according to the law, the property of the man-entirely under the authority of her husband. She had no control over her own property or over what she might earn by her own efforts. Whether married or unmarried, she was excluded from all important positions in the municipality as well as in the State.
In all civilised countries these walls of injustice and prejudice are now being broken down. In no single country has the work yet been completed. In spite of opposition, however, it is going on, and to-day it may be said that the development of justice and civilisation in any nation is to be measured mainly by its progress in regard to the emancipation of women and the protection of children. In this article I will endeavour to describe briefly how far, and in what respects, this work has already been carried out in Norway.
The work of strengthening and raising the weak must begin at the root. The most important basis for the establishment of equal rights for men and women is to be found in education. In Norway all the schools, from the lowest to the highest, are open to boys and girls on the same terms. All children must attend the primary schools from their seventh to the end of their fourteenth year; the boys and girls sit together and, in the recreation