Carlyle at His Zenith (1848-53)

By David Alec Wilson | Go to book overview

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JOHN STUART MILL AGAIN (1851)

IN 1851 the Irish Tenant League authorised Lucas and Gavan Duffy to offer John Stuart Mill a seat in Parliament1; and Gavan Duffy coming to London to see him about it applied to Carlyle for an introduction, and at once was introduced.1 But Mill was a civil servant, unable to go into Parliament without resigning his post, and as he explained in his Autobiography, that 'precluded even consideration of the proposal.' Which was a calamity to the nation, considering how much we have suffered since then from the ignorance of politicians about what the Irish wanted Mill to teach the Commons, the elements of Political Economy and the absurdity of the Irish land-laws.

It is worth the consideration of politicians whether they should not minimise the risk of any such calamity recurring by making it settled law that civil servants of every sort, local and national, and maybe teachers too and railway servants and others, including miners, whenever work in the mines is properly organised, should have a lien on their posts if elected to Parliament, and so be all of them available as candidates if ever required. But what concerns us now is Carlyle's talk with Duffy on this occasion. He said that tho able to introduce anyone to Mill, he and Mill had ceased to see much of each other.--

" Mill has one faculty in great perfection, the power of setting forth his opinions with a lucidity which no one in England can match. What he aims to make you see, you see as plainly as a conspicuous object set in the sunshine. He has the habit of approaching everything by the way of logical analysis, and when he brings that method to bear upon a question, he gets out of it nearly all it can yield him. There are probably quite other qualities in it, not at

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1
Life in Two Hemispheres, by Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, II. p. 39: Coversations with Carlyle, by the same, pp. 166-71; and the Autobiography of J. S. Mill, p. 279.

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