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5 April 1984
Collected Works of John Stuart Mill. Vol. I: Autobiography and Literary Essays 
edited by John​ Robson and Jack Stillinger.
Toronto, 766 pp., £35, March 1982, 0 7100 0718 3
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... I was born in London on the 20th of May, 1806, and was the eldest son of James Mill, the author of The History of British India.’ The father-author thus announced at the beginning of JohnStuartMill’s Autobiography dominated his life from early childhood on. Did he in any sense author his son’s life as he authored his books? JohnStuartMill wrote his own Life in large part to work out an ...
16 October 1980
An Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy 
by John Stuart Mill, edited by J.M. Robson.
Routledge, 625 pp., £15.95, February 1980, 0 7100 0178 9
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... It is a long time​ now since any undergraduate class used Mill’s An Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy, first published in 1865, as a set text. But it has happened. George Santayana, who graduated from Harvard College in 1886, has described in ...
17 April 1980
The Optimists: Themes and Personalities in Victorian Liberalism 
by Ian Bradley.
Faber, 301 pp., £12.50, January 1980, 0 571 11495 4
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... Most of the great positive evils of the world,’ JohnStuartMill asserted in 1863, ‘are in themselves removable, and will, if human affairs continue to improve, be in the end reduced to within narrow limits.’ This sort of confidence in the reality and efficacy ...


Richard Wollheim: On A.J. Ayer

27 July 1989
... modest in all except their cultural ambitions, readers of, say, the New Statesman and George Eliot, who craved philosophy. Furthermore the media were willing to recognise their existence. In 1951 Stuart Hampshire produced a small book on Spinoza. Spinoza was, through his associations with 19th-century dissent, the philosopher designed to appeal to this audience, but it is still remarkable that (as I ...
20 December 1979
Western Political Thought in the Face of the Future 
by John​ Dunn.
Cambridge, 120 pp., £8.50
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... hypothesis in explaining the cloud-cuckooland behaviour of contemporary politicians and governments, only because an even more plausible explanation has recently been provided. One source for it is John Dunn’s new book. Let me hasten to say that the explanation of contemporary political behaviour is not the primary task that he sets himself. What he is explicitly concerned with is the exhaustion ...


J.H. Burns

2 March 1989
Whigs and Liberals: Continuity and Change in English Political Thought 
by J.W. Burrow.
Oxford, 159 pp., £17.50, March 1988, 0 19 820139 7
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... and liberalism have perhaps done rather better in terms of general esteem, though they suffer more than the Whigs from the intolerable rectitude of the bien pensant. The austere righteousness of a JohnStuartMill, for example – the governess-figure of ‘Miss Mill’ in Judy’s Mid-Victorian caricatures – must have alienated many who clung to the belief that virtue need not debar one from all ...

Vote for the Beast!

Ian Gilmour: The Tory Leadership

20 October 2005
... JohnStuartMill labelled the Conservatives ‘the stupid party’. They have certainly been stupid since 1997, and one wonders if their stupidity will persist. But a related and more interesting question is: ‘Are ...
8 May 1997
Eve’s Renegades: Victorian Anti-Feminist Women Novelists 
by Valerie Sanders.
Macmillan, 249 pp., £42.50, September 1996, 0 333 59563 7
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... steady opposition to women’s suffrage is an embarrassment, and it is not encouraging to find Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell united in their distaste for the robust feminist arguments of JohnStuartMill. ‘In short, J.S. Mill’s head is, I dare say, very good, but I feel disposed to scorn his heart,’ sniffed Charlotte in a letter to Elizabeth Gaskell. ‘Woman must obey,’ Christina ...
10 October 1991
G.H. Lewes: A Life 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Oxford, 369 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 19 812827 4
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... to striking effect. She can be very funny in the process. I particularly like her account of the remarks sent to Lewes by his literary friends on receiving copies of his clearly lamentable novels. JohnStuartMill wrote explaining that he needed to read the book through a second time before making his comments, though meanwhile he liked it ‘on the whole decidedly better than I expected from your ...
3 February 2000
An Intelligent Person's Guide to Liberalism 
by Conrad Russell.
Duckworth, 128 pp., £12.95, September 1999, 0 7156 2947 6
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... This is a rather relaxed book. As such, it may disappoint those who know the author through his brilliant contributions to early Stuart history, or his recent principled interventions in debate in the House of Lords. Its aim, a truly ambitious one, is to trace the continuities between the liberalism of the 17th, 18th and 19th ...

Athenian View

Michael Brock

12 March 1992
Public Moralists: Political Thought and Intellectual Life in Britain, 1850-1930 
by Stefan Collini.
Oxford, 383 pp., £40, September 1991, 0 19 820173 7
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... of that centrality and enquire into the psychological and cultural assumptions which conferred such authority on the moral ambitions it represented. This branch-to-branch search is centred on JohnStuartMill, Henry Fawcett and Leslie Stephen. He then traces the change in style and tone which came as the academic profession and the public service spread their tentacles. He discusses three legal ...

Bring some Madeira

Thomas Keymer: Thomas Love Peacock

8 February 2018
Nightmare Abbey 
by Thomas Love Peacock, edited by Nicholas A. Joukovsky.
Cambridge, 297 pp., £84.99, December 2016, 978 1 107 03186 9
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Crotchet Castle 
by Thomas Love Peacock, edited by Freya Johnston and Matthew Bevis.
Cambridge, 328 pp., £79.99, December 2016, 978 1 107 03072 5
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... Sea House was like decades before. The East India Company was a powerhouse of idealistic utilitarianism. Peacock began in the examiner’s office in 1819, working under the Scots economist James Mill and alongside JohnStuartMill (who had been brought into the company by his father in 1823) on a starting salary of £600, which rose with various promotions. It reached £2000 when Peacock ...

Wild Words

Stuart​ Hampshire

18 August 1983
A History of the Modern World: From 1917 to the 1980s 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 832 pp., £16.50, April 1983, 0 297 78226 6
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... this comes to seem an obsession, an obsession both typical and revealing. In the world as a whole, Maynard Keynes was probably the most influential thinker that Britain has produced, at least since JohnStuartMill, and in addition he exhibited a variety of talents and achievements which together amounted to genius. Wherever 20th-century English literature is discussed, whether in America or ...
5 March 1981
The Illustrated Dictionary of British History 
edited by Arthur Marwick.
Thames and Hudson, 319 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 500 25072 3
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Who’s Who in Modern History, 1860-1980 
by Alan Palmer.
Weidenfeld, 332 pp., £8.50, October 1980, 0 297 77642 8
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... in Government. This may indicate the administrative path to editorial favour, for A.V. Dicey’s academic writings on the 19th century state are rewarded with an entry of nine lines, the same as Lord John Russell who was merely in office at the time. This is three lines less than Bonar Law, dubbed by Asquith as the unknown prime minister, which proportionately must make Russell practically unheard-of ...
18 October 1984
Property and Political Theory 
by Alan Ryan.
Blackwell, 198 pp., £15, August 1984, 0 631 13691 6
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... island, but one could hardly hoard there. However, while ownership itself can be enviable and in some circumstances even impressive, the mere desire to have seems to many today – just as it did to John Locke – a furtive, even incipiently criminal form of lust. Disputes over property, and over the power which flows from it and flows back into it, are far from being the only major theme (let alone ...

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