Autobiography (Penguin Classics)
Autobiography (Penguin Classics)
John Stuart Mill
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One of the greatest prodigies of his era, John Stuart Mill (1806-73) was studying arithmetic and Greek by the age of three, as part of an astonishingly intense education at his father's hand. Intellectually brilliant, fearless and profound, he became a leading Victorian liberal thinker, whose works - including On Liberty, Utilitarianism, The Subjection of Women and this Autobiography - are among the crowning achievements of the age. Here he describes the pressures placed on him by his childhood, the mental breakdown he suffered as a young man, his struggle to understand a world of feelings and emotions far removed from his father's strict didacticism, and the later development of his own radical beliefs. A moving account of an extraordinary life, this great autobiography reveals a man of deep integrity, constantly searching for truth.
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that any answer only throws the difficulty a step further back, since the question immediately presents itself, Who made God? He, at the same time, took care that I should be acquainted with what had been thought by mankind on these impenetrable problems. I have mentioned at how early an age he made me a reader of ecclesiastical history; and he taught me to take the strongest interest in the Reformation, as the great and decisive contest against priestly tyranny for liberty of thought. I am thus
democratic suffrage the principal article of his political creed, not on the ground of liberty, Rights of Man, or any of the phrases, more or less significant, by which, up to that time, democracy had usually been defended, but as the most essential of ‘securities for good government.’ In this, too, he held fast only to what he deemed essentials; he was comparatively indifferent to monarchical or republican forms – far more so than Bentham, to whom a king, in the character of ‘corrupter-general,’
and private duty) was not in much esteem among us, and had very little place in the thoughts of most of us, myself in particular. What we principally thought of, was to alter people’s opinions; to make them believe according to evidence, and know what was their real interest, which when they once knew, they would, we thought, by the instrument of opinion, enforce a regard to it upon one another. While fully recognizing the superior excellence of unselfish benevolence and love of justice, we did
that of her mother, though far less so than I predict that if she lives, it is destined to become. Of the value of her direct cooperation with me, something will be said hereafter: of what I owe in the way of instruction to her great powers of original thought and soundness of practical judgment, it would be a vain attempt to give an adequate idea. Surely no one ever before was so fortunate, as, after such a loss as mine, to draw another such prize in the lottery of life – another companion,
my opinions on that great question, as full and conclusive as I could make it. The intention was to keep this among other unpublished papers, improving it from time to time if I was able, and to publish it at the time when it should seem likely to be most useful. As ultimately published it was enriched with some important ideas of my daughter’s, and passages of her writing. But in what was of my own composition, all that is most striking and profound belongs to my wife; coming from the fund of