The Unexpurgated Case Against Woman Suffrage eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 79 pages of information about The Unexpurgated Case Against Woman Suffrage.

To this lady he is always ascribing credit for his eminent intellectual achievements.  And lest his reader should opine that woman stands somewhat in the shade with respect to her own intellectual triumphs, Mill undertakes the explanation.  “Felicitous thoughts,” he tells us, “occur by hundreds to every woman of intellect.  But they are mostly lost for want of a husband or friend . . . to estimate them properly, and to bring them before the world; and even when they are brought before it they generally appear as his ideas.”

Not only did Mill see woman and all her works through an optical medium which gave images like this; but there was upon his retina a large blind area.  By reason of this last it was inapprehensible to him that there could be an objection to the sexes co-operating indiscriminately in work.  It was beyond his ken that the sex element would under these conditions invade whole departments of life which are now free from it.  As he saw things, there was in point of fact a risk of the human race dying out by reason of the inadequate imperativeness of its sexual instincts.

Mill’s unfaithfulness to the facts cannot, however, all be put down to constitutional defects of vision.  When he deals with woman he is no longer scrupulously conscientious.  We begin to have our suspicions of his uprightness when we find him in his Subjection of Women laying it down as a fundamental postulate that the subjection of woman to man is always morally indefensible.  For no upright mind can fail to see that the woman who lives in a condition of financial dependence upon man has no moral claim to unrestricted liberty.  The suspicion of Mill’s honesty which is thus awakened is confirmed by further critical reading of his treatise.  In that skilful tractate one comes across, every here and there, a suggestio falsi [suggestion of a falsehood], or a suppressio veri [suppression of the truth], or a fallacious analogy nebulously expressed, or a mendacious metaphor, or a passage which is contrived to lead off attention from some weak point in the feminist case.[1] Moreover, Mill was unmindful of the obligations of intellectual morality when he allowed his stepdaughter, in connexion with feminist questions, to draft letters [2] which went forward as his own.

[1] Vide [See] in this connexion the incidental references to Mill on pp. 50, 81 footnote, and 139. [2] Vide Letters of John Stuart Mill, vol. ii, pp. 51, 79, 80, 100, 141, 157, 238, 239, 247, 288, and 349.  There is yet another factor which must be kept in mind in connexion with the writings of Mill.  It was the special characteristic of the man to set out to tackle concrete problems and then to spend his strength upon abstractions.

In his Political Economy, where his proper subject matter was man with his full equipment of impulses, Mill took as his theme an abstraction:  an economic man who is actuated solely by the desire of gain.  He then worked out in great elaboration the course of conduct which an aggregate of these puppets of his imagination would pursue.  Having persuaded

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The Unexpurgated Case Against Woman Suffrage from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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