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Gathering Truths, 1826–30

Chapter

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Human Nature Eighteenth Century English Society French Revolution East India Company 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    See Norman Gash, Aristocracy and People: Britain 1815–1865 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press), 21–22.Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    Henry Taylor, Autobiography, 2 vols. (London: Longmans, Green, 1885), vol. 1, 78.Google Scholar
  3. 12.
    See Anna J. Mill, “John Stuart Mill’s Visit to Wordsworth, 1831,” Modern Language Review 44 (1949): 342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 14.
    Charles Greville, The Greville Memoirs, 8 vols., ed. Lytton Strachey and Roger Fulford (London: Macmillan, 1938), vol. 2, 58.Google Scholar
  5. 36.
    See Merrill Distad, Guessing at Truth: The Life of Julius Charles Hare ( Shepherdstown, West Virginia: Patmos, 1979 ), 39.Google Scholar
  6. 48.
    Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Darker Reflections, 1804–1834 ( New York: Pantheon, 1998 ), 281n.Google Scholar
  7. 67.
    John Austin, The Province of Jurisprudence Determined; and, The Uses of the Study of Jurisprudence ( New York: Noonday Press, 1954 ), 73.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Bruce L. Kinzer 2007

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