As John Mill emerged from the worst of his mental crisis, he embarked on a search to discover truths that his education had failed to disclose. He sought to broaden the scope of his intellectual and emotional sympathies and to deepen their imprint upon his being. To this undertaking he brought several important advantages, not all of which he necessarily recognized. Endowed with a spacious, supple, and prodigiously powerful mind, John Mill had experienced an education that furnished him with a rich store of knowledge on an impressive range of subjects. To this knowledge was joined a command and appreciation of ordering principles that helped give shape and method to his quest. Moreover, his internal ordeal of 1826–27 forced him to confront his shortcomings and produced a vow to rectify them. And this was not all. John Mill had a secure position at India House, one that afforded him ample opportunity to pursue his program of internal culture without undue distraction. Whatever anxieties continued to beset him, they should not have arisen from concern for his present or future material well-being. As for the prospects of enriching the content of his emotional life, they were favorable. Cultivating the sympathies comes more easily when one is the object of others’ affection and sympathy. John Mill found such affection and sympathy in a number of quarters. For the gathering of truths—about the world and about himself—he was favorably situated.
KeywordsHuman Nature Eighteenth Century English Society French Revolution East India Company
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