Autobiography of John Stuart Mill

By John Stuart Mill | Go to book overview

PREFACE

JEREMY BENTHAM, John Stuart Mill, and John Morley in their life dates cover the period from the middle of the Eighteenth Century to the present day. The American Revolution, the French Revolution, English Reform, and the World War are all included in these dates, as in the transformation of the Western World into a civilization predominantly industrial. Mill grew out of Bentham. Mill and Morley worked together for many years. All show that ability to combine great learning and scholarship with keen insight into contemporary affairs which has been one of the chief glories and ornaments of public life in England.

Mill's Autobiography shows, as few books can, the growth of a man in the midst of his age. In many ways it is primarily an account of the social history of England in the first three quarters of the Nineteenth Century. Yet it is the personal though dispassionate story of the conflict of an integrated spirit with ideas and with the affairs of men. One sees an age, and one sees a man; and both man and age are so a part of our own day that by knowing them we learn to know ourselves.

The text as printed in this volume has been taken from a manuscript of the Autobiography recently given to Columbia University by members of the Department of Philosophy. It has been considered desirable, as the definitive printing of Mill's own hand, accurately to follow the varying capitalization and punctuation of the manuscript, and in this form this version of the Autobiography is commended to its readers. It seems evident that this manuscript is the final draft intended for publication, because of the state-

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