John Stuart Mill; His Life and Works eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 87 pages of information about John Stuart Mill; His Life and Works.
some permanently-visible token of our regard.  The motion was no sooner made than it was carried by acclamation.  Every member of the examiners’ office—­for we jealously insisted on confining the affair to ourselves—­came tendering his subscription, scarcely waiting to be asked; in half an hour’s time some fifty or sixty pounds—­I forget the exact sum—­was collected, which in due course was invested in a superb silver inkstand, designed by our friend, Digby Wyatt, and manufactured by Messrs. Elkington.  Before it was ready, however, an unexpected trouble arose.  In some way or other, Mill had got wind of our proceeding, and, coming to me in consequence, began almost to upbraid me as its originator.  I had never before seen him so angry.  He hated all such demonstrations, he said, and was quite resolved not to be made the subject of them.  He was sure they were never altogether genuine or spontaneous; there were always several persons who took part in them merely because they did not like to refuse; and, in short, whatever we might do, he would have none of it.  In vain I represented how eagerly everybody, without exception, had come forward; that we had now gone too far to recede; that, if he would not take the inkstand, we should be utterly at a loss what to do with it; and that I myself should be in a specially embarrassing position.  Mill was not to be moved.  This was a question of principle, and on principle he could not give way.  There was nothing left, therefore, but resort to a species of force.  I arranged with Messrs. Elkington that our little testimonial should be taken down to Mr. Mill’s house at Blackheath by one of their men, who, after leaving it with the servant, should hurry away without waiting for an answer.  This plan succeeded; but I have always suspected, though she never told me so, that its success was mainly due to Miss Helen Taylor’s good offices.  But for her, the inkstand would almost certainly have been returned, instead of being promoted, as it eventually was, to a place of honor in her own and her father’s drawing-room.

Mine is scarcely just now the mood in which I should have been naturally disposed to relate anecdotes like this; but, in the execution of my present task, I have felt bound chiefly to consider what would be likely to interest the reader.

W.T.  Thornton.


[1] I may be permitted here, without Mr. Thornton’s knowledge, to recall a remark made by Mr. Mill only a few weeks ago.  We were speaking of Mr. Thornton’s recently published “Old-fashioned Ethics and Common-Sense Metaphysics,” when I remarked on Mr. Mill’s wide divergence from most of the views contained in it.  “Yes,” he replied, “it is pleasant to find something on which to differ from Thornton.”  Mr. Mill’s prompt recognition of the importance of Mr. Thornton’s refutation of the wage-fund theory is only one out of numberless instances of his peculiar magnanimity.—­B.


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John Stuart Mill; His Life and Works from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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