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' would put their relations on an uncomfortable footing.' After reading such evidence from such witnesses one cannot but feel great surprise at the appearance of the objectionable reports among the recommendations of the Committee, and in the new Regulations for the Diplomatic Service.
One strong objection to the system of official reports on conduct which has not been noticed, is this, that it entirely defeats its avowed object. To make an official report against a man is a serious matter, for the report is preserved among official
a archives, and may damage him for years. It is a very disagreeable duty for the head of a regiment to perform, but it is much more disagreeable for the head of a mission, living, as he does, upon terms of intimacy with the three or four men upon whose conduct he is to report. The natural result must be that heads of missions will shrink from this duty, and that their reports, except in very gross cases, will be strikingly colourless. Hitherto, there can have been no difficulty for the head of a mission to communicate privately or indirectly to the Secretary of State, that A. was idle and useless, that B. was extravagant, or that C. had got into bad company and had better be transferred to some other post; but now, with the obligation before him of making a formal report upon A. B. and C.'s conduct, he will feel the necessity of much greater reserve in communicating what he thinks of them, while the Secretary of State, deprived of his most valuable source of information, will find himself bound to accept official reports scarcely more trustworthy than tombstones. In pointing out this objection, we have supposed the case of a good-natured Minister and an unsatisfactory Secretary; but Ministers are sometimes capricious and ill-tempered, and might possibly give an undeservedly bad report of one of their subordinates. In such a case the Secretary of State will find himself in a very disagreeable predicament. While the communication was indirect or private, he could ignore it or answer it if he thought proper to do so, but now that it is to be official he will be forced to notice it; to quash the report would be to censure the Minister who made it, to act upon it would be to condemn a man unheard, and to put the subordinate upon his defence would render his continuance in the mission impossible, though his removal might be, according to circumstances, an unmerited hardship or an ill-earned reward.
We have now pointed out what appear to be some of the blots in the reports of the Committees on the Diplomatic Service, and in the regulations founded upon those reports, and shall be ready to hear, in due course of time, with equal pleasure, that the regulations have been amended, or that our predictions of evil results have proved fallacious. We believe the Diplomatic Service to be, as Lord Clarendon said, 'mode
rately paid, hardly worked, and very useful. We think that it is in many respects capable of improvement; that that improvement may best be achieved by careful selection, fair treatment, and good pay; and, lastly, that the government of so small a body of men, working under various and ever-varying conditions, should be of a paternal character, administered with a deep sense of his responsibility, by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
Art. IV. - Autobiography. By JOHN STUART Mill.
London : 1873. The life of John Stuart Mill was so uneventful, secluded, and
even obscure, with the exception of the three years during which he sate in the House of Commons, that few men who have produced a powerful effect upon the world have been so little known by their contemporaries. But his death, which occurred in the spring of last year at the age of sixty-seven, seemed suddenly to awaken the curiosity of the public to know more of the character, the habits, and the early education of so remarkable and courageous a thinker. His merits and his mistakes were canvassed with unusual vivacity, although, except within the very limited circle of his personal friends, neither of them were sufficiently known to be correctly appreciated. His candour, his boldness, his vast intellectual strength, his simplicity, his genuine devotion to great public interests and to the cause of truth, caused him to be almost deified by his admirers, but their enthusiasm led them to overlook his paradoxes, his delusions, and some acts of his life which savoured of grave moral error. With a power of analytical reasoning unsurpassed by the wisest philosophers, he combined an infirmity of judgment which not unfrequently led him to mistake Utopian dreams for established truths ; so that a course of argument sustained with inimitable subtlety and art, landed him at last in conclusions which the common sense of a child would have rejected. As a guide no thinker was more unsafe, for he was perpetually exploring devious paths, which led him into regions where neither certainty nor truth could be found. What spectacle can be more melancholy than that of a seeker after truth of vast powers and of unbounded attainments, whose existence was
spent in an ineffectual struggle, and who died leaving all that it most concerns a man to know and to believe undiscovered and unsolved ? In thinking of Mill, the words of an authority he did not acknowledge involuntarily recur to the mind, for he was pre-eminently one ' ever learning and never able to come to 'a knowledge of the truth. Thus, to quote one or two of his paradoxes, he contended in the House of Commons, at the time of the Cattle Plague, that the farmers, whose cattle had been killed by order of the Government, were sufficiently indemnified by the increased value of cattle to those persons whose stock had not suffered. Cheshire was ruined, Dorset had rather gained than otherwise, therefore Cheshire was indemnified. Again, he held that the unearned increment of the value of land, caused by external causes, ought not to belong to the owner of the land. But why of land alone ? All trade, all commercial enterprise, is based on the hope of increment. Why is real property to be treated differently from a work of art or the public securities ? In truth this is the denial of property itself
, Mill defended capital punishment in Parliainent on the ground that the lives of great criminals were of very little value, and that their maintenance in prison is a serious burden to the community. We have ourselves heard him argue against the severity of penal servitude for life as compared with capital punishment, and his conclusion was that it would be well to supply men undergoing penal servitude with the means of self-destruction. All these instances denote a failure of correct judgment, to be traced to the absence of sound principle. The conclusions are absurd because the basis is false. According to what Mill terms common ‘morality,' to supply the means of self-destruction to a man likely to use them is an act not very remote from murder; but Mill's morality was very uncommon, not from wickedness, but from a false standard of right and wrong.
No one but himself could have afforded an explanation of so singular and perplexing a phenomenon. No other hand but his own could have recorded the extraordinary peculiarities of his early education and the gradual evolution of his mind. Fortunately he seems to have thought that the tale deserved to be told; and casting aside that modesty which causes most men to hide their secret thoughts, he completed his philosophical labours by this dissection of his own mind, to be published soon after his death, and he has thus left us one of the most curious and instructive volumes which exist in all literature. The only works to which we can compare it are the Confessions of St. Augustine and the Confessions of
Rousseau : for although Mill was as remote from the religious enthusiasm of the one as he was from the sensualism and depravity of the other, there was something of both of them in his nature, and he felt the same resolute determination to leave a record of his life, which is a cast rather than a statue, a photograph rather than a picture. •Sume libros,' he might have said, “quos desiderasti Confessionum mearum.
inspice, ne me laudes ultra quàm sum; ibi non aliis de me crede, sed mihi; ibi me attende, et vide quod fuerim in meipso, per meipsum.'
.* Although Rousseau was in many respects the antithesis of Mill, for the one was the child of sentiment and the other of dry abstract thought, there are points in their personal narratives which suggest a resemblance between them. Rousseau, before he was six years old, would sit up all night reading novels with his father, till they heard the swallows twittering in the eaves, and in his early childhood he had mastered books seldom accessible at that age. They were both wanting in imagination, in humour, and in memory (as both of them assure us); and both, from inexperience of the world, were without readiness and required time to put their thoughts in order; their conversation was hesitating and laborious, though full of thought; both were powerfully influenced by women, though the passion of love assumed in them a peculiar form; ; both were sceptics in religion, but the scepticism of Mill was scientific and carried him far beyond the scepticism of Rousseau; country walks, herborisation, and music were to both their only amusements, and both were apostles of modern democracy, animated by a fierce hatred of existing institutions and beliefs, and intent upon the overthrow of existing society. Rousseau was born in 1712, nearly a hundred years before Mill, but the opinions and writings of the English reformer, if they were adopted by his countrymen, would have an effect on the 19th century not far remote from that produced by the Genevese enthusiast on the last age-certainly not less destructive. Indeed, in the avowed objects of his speculations Mill was by far the more destructive of the two, for he would have subverted the eternal truths which are the basis of society, by denying to man the rights of property in this world and the hopes of existence hereafter.
We ourselves knew Mill well at a very early period of his life, when, as we shall presently show, his acquirements were so extraordinary as to take him wholly out of the ordinary circle of boyhood. We have followed with interest every step of
* August. Epist. 231.
his philosophical career; and in his later years we have several times been honoured by his contributions to this Journal, on subjects on which his opinions were not wholly at variance with our own. Perhaps these circumstances have heightened the interest we feel in this “Autobiography,' but we are much mistaken if it does not retain a lasting place in the history of literature. In reviewing, but a few months ago, Mrs. Grote's Memoir of her illustrious husband,* we attempted to give a brief sketch of the school of the Philosophical Radicals or Utilitarians, of which Bentham was the founder, James Mill the chief expositor, and Grote as well as John Mill eminent disciples. We traced to its root their fundamental divergence from the beliefs and ethical principles of the Christian world, but we touched as lightly as possible on the esoteric doctrines of the sect, of which, curiously enough, few traces are be found in their own writings. For they appear to have been aware—and in this they judged rightly—that if they disclosed to its full extent their absolute rejection of the principles of religious faith and of the accountability of man to God, which are the rules of life throughout the civilised world, they would stand but little chance of obtaining a hearing on any other subject.f The purport of John Mill's celebrated · Essay on • Liberty, which he describes as the most carefully written and considered of his works, was doubtless to vindicate, as far as he was able, the right of saying all things on all subjects; and one of the grounds of the acrimony with which he always speaks of English society, is that this entire liberty was denied him, or at least was only accorded under social penalties, which even he was not prepared to pay. His father, indeed, had early impressed on him the lesson that these opinions
could not prudently be avowed to the world' (p. 44); and though this species of dissimulation was painful to the sincere and courageous nature of John Mill, upon the whole he adhered to the recommendation. But, after his death, he seems to have resolved to make a clean breast of it. This posthumous volume contains his frank and clear avowal that, according to the opinion of the school in which he was brought up, nothing can be known of God or of a future state of existence,
* Edin. Rev., No. cclxxxi., July, 1873, p. 227.
† Thus, the · Essay on the Influence of Natural Religion,' alluded to on a former occasion, was published under the pseudonym of * '
Philip Beauchamp. It was compiled or edited by Mr. Grote; but he was not the sole or true author of it; the substance of the work consisted in a mass of Mr. Bentham's papers, which he consented to put into an intelligible form.