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BOSTON, DECEMBER 1, 1828.
(VOL. 1, No. 5.
SKETCHES OF CONTEMPORARY AUTHORS, STATESMEN, &c.
No. IV.-MR. James Mill.
But the pur
The reputation which this writer has substance of the human mind, instead achieved is the strongest evidence of of referring to abstractions and names, the practical character of English which have nothing to do with the acmind in the present age; that is to tual processes of our thoughts, desay, of our habit of thinking directly sires, and convictions. It is, of and immediately about practice, with- course, possible to form scientific sysout considering at all that foundation tems without reference to the testiof conscience, and enlarged experi- mony of consciousness; and, if these ence, and philosophical enlightenment, be sedulously and honestly framed, on which good practice can alone be they will have a value of their own, as built. Wisdom, in other countries, means and materials. and in other periods of this country, port of those things, which are the has been held to include in itself a subjects of the science, will be utterly moral tendency and power, and much beyond its domain, unless that shall also of which it is not the purport to have been traced out and subdued by bear in the first instance, on conduct, a mind accustomed to meditate on itand many feelings and principles valu- self. One kind of skill is requisite to able not as instruments, but simply as put together the scattered leaves of being true and good. A philosopher, Sibyl Nature, and arrange in connectin the language of some generations, ed periods the piecemeal words and was a man who drew from his own chaotic phraseology. Another, absomind, and from the nature of things, lutely different, and immeasurably the laws of universal truth, whereby higher, is necessary to interpret the alone phenomena can be explained. language in which she writes, and exNothing which is not an end in itself pound her symbol characters. can be at once both fact and reason; But in our day and land a man and the merely mechanical and sub earns the reputation of philosophy by servient requires something higher simply generalizing on facts, and for than it can supply, to manifest the that purpose taking away from them idea, whereof it is the outward reali- every thing which made them interzation. An idea of this kind has, in esting to the agent. All the external truth, the closest relation to men's business of the world has increased feelings and affections. It was in this enormously in extent and activity. way that the philosophy of Socrates Experiment and mechanical invention gained its proper and distinctive re- have multiplied themselves in every nown. Not because it was a mere department of industry. Earth, sea, classifying of external facts, but he- and air, have given up their secrets, cause it was drawn from the living and enriched mankind with all their
21 ATHENEUM, vol. 1, 3d series.
powers. Every resource that nature partment of thought, and all our ducontains has been investigated and ap- ties, and those especially which are plied, till the land has become one the laws of our most precious powers, vast manufactory; the sea one broad and which flow from our relation to highway of nations ; every nook is God. the domain of labor, and every shore A philosopher, in this sense of the an emporium. The mind of man is word, Mr. Mill is not. He does not given up to these things : and produc- profess to love wisdom, but the contion, and accumulation, have become sequences to which wisdom leads ; the vocation of the world. Litera- and is, therefore, no more a philosoture, too, partakes of this character : pher than he who weds for money is a and the research for truth is no longer lover. The only wisdom which is of considered important, except inasmuch any value contains, in itself, the means as it conducts to profit. We crowd of moral as well as intellectual excel. to the temple, not that we may listen lence. It is essentially different from to the oracles, or kneel before the al- prudence; and an extended prudence tar; but to barter our souls at the ta- is all which can be learned from the bles of the money-changers. The writings of this author, or is ever incurse, therefore, which smote Helio- culcated in them. At the same time, dorus in the midst of his sacrilege, he is often an acute and a laborious authe same shall fall on us.
thority ; and the range of his general The world is sure enough to pay acquirements appears to be highly reattention to its worldly wants. The spectable, while his benevolence is necessities which we have in common obvious and delightful, and evidently with the beasts, will always be of at proceeds from a higher source, and is least sufficient importance in ordinary supported by a stronger sanction than eyes. It should be the business of the author himself would be willing to literature to preserve and disseminate recognise. His works, so far at least truth, with regard to those subjects as is commonly known, are a volume which belong peculiarly to man, of “ The Elements of Political Ecowhich constitute our essential human- nomy,” a “ History of British India," ity. To the philosopher is committed and several Essays on Government this task of teaching his age that and Legislation, in the Supplement to there are many faculties in the mind the “Encyclopædia Britannica.” If besides those which are needful for the author has produced any other the support of the body : that each works than these, it should be rememhas its peculiar object, beauty, morali- bered that by these alone he is here ty, religion, truth; that to resolve judged. any one into the other, is to destroy As mere compositions, they are so much of man's inheritance; and marked by a niggard and dreary style, yet that, if any one be cultivated ex- such that even the laurels of his fame clusively, instead of independently, of will not suffice to conceal from a sinthe rest, the whole will necessarily be gle eye the baldness they encircle. It ruined. Not only for the purpose of seems to be the author's main effort enforcing these truths is the philoso- to separate his subject into as many pher appointed, but also for keeping atoms as possible, and to put each of alive on earth the conviction that, in these into a sentence which will erthe consciousness of these truths, and actly hold it ; and he takes a sedulous in devotion to them, resides the genu- and perverse care to divest his litine hope and glory of human nature : tle, lifeless, shapeless, fragmentary not for teaching religion, and religion propositions, of every accompaniment in its highest and most perfect form, of sympathy or association, even the Christianity, as a thing totally cut off most completely justified by what from our daily feeling and habitual goes before ; so as to secure the want conduct, but as including every de- of all unity of impression from the
whole. This is a great defect; and with which the tone of the remainder akin to it is another : Mr. Mill never of the author's speculations is totally brings before us his view of any point at variance, however fitted it may be by an image ; which may at once to any arbitrary canons of the schools, make the subject plainer than whole human nature will trample on schools pages of mere argumentation, and by and scholars, and proclaim that the remaining fixed in the mind, may for logic of rhetoricians* is very different ever serve to recal the reason which it from the logic of the mind. has originally illustrated. Does Mr. Such seem to us the radical defects Mill really believe that the column is of Mr. Mill's style. On the whole, the weaker or the less majestic, be- it wants both ease and strength. It cause the primroses grow around its is, as nearly as possible, the style of base ; that the armor is the more “ Euclid's Elements,” adapted to subfrail, because it is embossed with jects for which Euclid never would gold; or, that the Damascus sabre have used it. Dry, harsh, and prickwill smite the less surely, for its flow- ly, it would be utterly unendurable, ery fragrance ? Like the fountain, but there is enough of real informawhich nourishes the roots of the oak, tion conveyed in it to compensate for a feeling lies deep and fresh at the much annoyance. Grapes do someroot of all valuable moral truths. It times grow on thorns, and figs on thisgoes along with them in all their pro- tles ; though now and then the grapes gress; and, if we find that which pro- are sour, and the figs, like those sold fesses to be such a truth, unaccompa- in the streets of Constantinople, are nied by this inward life, we may be cried with rather excessive ostentasure that it is either an error, or the tion. There would, nevertheless, be produce of some other mind than that something manly and simple in this which presented it to us; even as if writer's compositions, but for the afwe saw a tree on a dry spot of the fectation which is exbibited in many desert, we might be certain that it ei- occasional phrases, a sort of Utilitather was utterly useless, or had been rian coxcombry, and professorial prebrought thither from some more gene- tension. Such modes of speech as rous soil. In ethics, love accompanies “the matter of evil,” and “ portion intelligence ; and when a man is writ. of discourse ;” and the formulas, ing on these subjects, affection will (they occur in every page of Mr. show itself, now in tracing out a thou- Mill's writings,) “ either a thing is sand analogies; now in bringing ra- white, or it is black. If white, then, pidly together many particulars, all &c., if black, then something else, welded into one by the fervor of the and so forth; all these are mere pesoul; and, again, by perpetually re- dantries, worthy only of a school-boy, eurring from the individual proposition in the lowest class of Utilitarian Phito the general feeling which alone losophy,—a Neophyte in the outer gives it importance. It is easy to say court of the Temple of the Economic that all this is so much injury done to Goddess. Yet we believe these abthe logical excellence of the style : surdities may help to win admirers and but to harmonise logical perfection proselytes. For when the merely with strength of sentiment, is the task getting by rote a few simple phrases and the prerogative of philosophers, and sentences of this kind, and the emand men of genius; and, moreover, ployment of them in all companies, if part of a composition brings every will gain for any one the reputation of one, whose sympathies are healthy, profoundness, it would be strange into a certain state of consciousness, indeed if many did not avail them
We must be satisfied for the present to take Rhetoric in Dr. Whately's sense of “ Argumentative Composition.”
† “ In the name of the Prophet, Figs !” Mr. Mill's Prophet, however, is not Mahomet, but Mr. Bentham.
selves of so easy a “ Gradus ad Phi- observations on commercial questions losophiam.'
are commonly excellent: and his It has been said already, that Mr. mode of analysing the different meaMill has knowledge sufficient to make sures and institutions of British stateshim—in spite of these drawbacks—a manship is full of acuteness. Even in valuable author. If we did not think these we could have wished for some him an influential writer, we should more earnest enforcing of national dunot now be examining the character of ty, some stronger evidences of faith his works. But it is observable, that in the possibility of human virtue. little of his knowledge is his own. But if there is any subject in discussHe is not, indeed, one of the pedants ing which the want of that faith is exwho put their minds into their books, cusable, it is undoubtedly the recent instead of putting their books into history of English Parliaments and their minds. But neither is he one of Ministers. His scalpel is practised in the thinkers who, instead of keeping the laying open men's motives ; and if books in their minds as they came he is too much predisposed to find the from their authors, recompose ther parts diseased, he is, at all events, an there with a thousand new illustra- unsparing operator when they really tions, strong connections, and nice de
We should probably not be pendencies. Take the system of the inclined to make the same use of Mr. human mind of Locke, the theory of Mill's political discoveries and dereligion of Hume, the principles of monstrations as he would do. But government and legislation of Ben- they are curious and valuable to every tham, and the political economy of benevolent reformer who has accusRicardo; deprive these of all which tomed his mind to trace and to lament made them peculiarly the property of the influence of bad institutions on their inventors, of all their air of ori- national well-being. ginality, of all their individual linea But with regard to that more diffiments, and join them together in one cult division of this writer's labors mass, and you have the creed of the which refers to Hindoostan, we can Historian of British India. But many give no such applause. It seems to of the doctrines which he holds have us that his views on this subject are undoubtedly been stated by him more fundamentally and desperately wrong. clearly than by any one else : and in He has, in no one instance, made the his great work he has applied them to slightest approach to understanding of a wide range of subjects, and support- the Hindoo Polity. To comprehend ed them in appearance by such a mul- the principles and mode of thought tiplicity of facts, that it certainly de- which prevail among any people, it is serves to be held among the oracular necessary to seize the idea on which books of the sect.
their social system is founded. The History of British India is every community which has antiquity clearly distinguishable, though not di- and a national life of its own, such an visible, into two parts. The one relates idea has existed, the mould for the to England and Englishmen, the other mind of the society, sometimes parto India and its Natives. Of the for- tially realised in institutions, somemer of these portions we need say but times partially manifested in great little. It is in general executed with changes, sometimes lost for a period ability and knowledge. For the au- amid internal tumults, or, perhaps, thor's system of human nature, though destroyed for ever by subjection to professing to be universal, is - drawn foreigners. But to grasp this is to from the circumstances of modern hold the clue which alone can guide Europe ; and the vesture fits tolerably us to full intelligence of the religion, well the form for which it was intend- the laws, the literature, the primary ed,-infinitely better at least than it institutions of a people. To select would adapt itself to any other. His some of its results, and to judge them