1798 he was licensed as a preacher, but met with little success.
From 1790 to 1802, in addition to holding various tutorships, he
occupied himself with historical and philosophical studies. Finding
little prospect of a career in Scotland, in 1802 he went to London,
in company with Sir John Stuart, then member of parliament for Kincardineshire,
and devoted himself to literary work.
1803 to 1806 he was editor of an ambitious periodical called the
Literary Journal, which professed to give a summary view of all
the leading departments of human knowledge. During this time he
also edited the St James's Chronicle, belonging to the same proprietor.
In 1804 he wrote a pamphlet on the corn trade, arguing against
a bounty on the exportation of grain. In 1805 he published a translation
(with notes and quotations) of CF Villers's work on the Reformation,
an unsparing exposure of the alleged vices of the papal system.
1805 he married Harriet Burrow, whose mother, a widow, kept an
establishment for lunatics in Hoxton. He then took a house in
Pentonville, where his eldest son, John Stuart Mill, was born
in 1806. About the end of this year he began his History of India,
which he took twelve years to complete, instead of three or four,
as had been expected.
1808 he became acquainted with Jeremy Bentham, and was for many
years his chief companion and ally. He adopted Bentham's principles
in their entirety, and determined to devote all his energies to
bringing them before the world. Between 1806 and 1818 he wrote
for the Anti-Jacobin Review, the British Review and the Electric
Review; but there is no means of tracing his contributions.
1808 he began to write for the Edinburgh Review, to which he contributed
steadily till 1813, his first known article being "Money
and Exchange." He also wrote on Spanish America, China, General
Miranda, the East India Company, and the Liberty of the Press.
In the Annual Review for 1808 two articles of his are traced--a
"Review of Fox's History," and an article on "Bentham's
Law Reforms," probably his first published notice of Bentham.
In 1811 he co-operated with William Allen (1770-1843), quaker
and chemist, in a periodical called the Philanthropist.
contributed largely to every number--his principal topics being
Education, Freedom of the Press, and Prison Discipline (under
which he expounded Bentham's Panopticon). He made powerful onslaughts
on the Church in connexion with the Bell and Lancaster controversy,
and took a prominent part in the discussions which led to the
foundation of the University of London in 1825. In 1814 he wrote
a number of articles, containing an exposition of utilitarianism,
for the supplement to the fifth edition of the Encyclopædia
Britannica, the most important being those on "Jurisprudence,"
"Prisons" and "Government."
1818 the History of India was published, and obtained a great
and immediate success. It brought about a change in the author's
position. The year following he was appointed an official in the
India House, in the important department of the examiner of Indian
correspondence. He gradually rose in rank till he was appointed,
in 1830, head of the office, with a salary of £1900, raised
in 1836 to £2000. His great work, the Elements of Political
Economy, appeared in 1821 (3rd and revised ed. 1825).
1824 to 1826 Mill contributed to the Westminster Review, started
as the organ of his party, a number of articles in which he attacked
the Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews and ecclesiastical establishments.
In 1829 appeared the Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind.
From 1831 to 1833 Mill was largely occupied in the defence of
the East India Company, during the controversy attending the renewal
of its charter, he being in virtue of his office the spokesman
of the court of directors. For the London Review, founded by Sir
William Molesworth in 1834, he wrote a notable article entitled
"The Church and its Reform," which was much too sceptical
for the time, and injured the Review. His last published book
was the Fragment on Mackintosh (1835).
had a thorough acquaintance with Greek and Latin literature, general
history, political, mental and moral philosophy. His intellect
was logical in the highest degree; he was clear and precise, an
enemy of loose reasoning, and quick to refute prevailing fallacies.
All his work is marked by original constructive thought, except
in a few subjects, in which he confessedly expounded Bentham's
a time when social subjects were as a rule treated empirically,
he brought first principles to bear at every point. His greatest
literary monument is the History of India. The materials for narrating
the acquisition by the United Kingdom of its Indian Empire were
put into shape for the first time; a vast body of political theory
was brought to bear on the delineation of the Hindu civilization;
and the conduct of the actors in the successive stages of the
conquest and administration of India was subjected to a severe
work itself, and the author's official connexion with India for
the last seventeen years of his life, effected a complete change
in the whole system of governing that country. It is noteworthy
that Mill never visited the Indian colony, relying solely on documentary
material and archival records in compiling his work.
played a great part also in British politics, and was, more than
any other man, the founder of what was called "philosophic
radicalism." His writings on government and his personal
influence among the Liberal politicians of his time determined
the change of view from the French Revolution theories of the
rights of man and the absolute equality of men to the claiming
of securities for good government through a wide extension of
this banner it was that, the Reform Bill was fought and won. His
Elements of Political Economy, which was intended only as a textbook
of the subject, shows all the author's precision and lucidity.
As Dr J. K. Ingram said, it has the "character of a work
of art." It followed up the views of Ricardo, with whom Mill
was always on terms of intimacy. Its interest is mainly historical,
as an accurate summary of views which are now largely discarded.
Among the more important of its theses are:
that the chief problem of practical reformers is to limit the
increase of population, on the assumption that capital does not
naturally increase at the same rate as population (ii. §
2, art. 3)
2. that the value of a thing depends entirely on the quantity
of labour put into it; and
3. that what is now known as the "unearned increment"
of land is a proper object for taxation.
4. The work as a whole is a striking example of the weakness of
treating monomic problems from a purely a priori standpoint by
the deductive method.
his Analysis of the Mind and his Fragment on Mackintosh Mill acquired
a position in the history of psychology and ethics. He took up
the problems of mind very much after the fashion of the Scottish
Enlightenment, as then represented by Thomas Reid, Dugald Stewart
and Thomas Brown, but made a new start, due in part to David Hartley,
and still more to his own independent thinking. He carried out
the principle of association into the analysis of the complex
emotional states, as the affections, the aesthetic emotions and
the moral sentiment, all which he endeavoured to resolve into
pleasurable and painful sensations.
the salient merit of the Analysis is the constant endeavour after
precise definition of terms and clear statement of doctrines.
The Fragment on Mackintosh is a severe exposure of the flimsiness
and misrepresentations of Sir James Mackintosh's famous Dissertation
on the Progress of Ethical Philosophy (1830), and discusses the
foundations of ethics from the author's utilitarian point of view.