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W. J. ASHLEY, M.A., M.CoM.






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2VOLS. 8vo

1st Edition 184P, 2nd Edition 1849

3rd Edition 1852, 4th Edition 1857

5th Edition 1862. All published by Parker & Co.

Published by Longmans, Green, & Co. 6th Edition April 1865, 7th Edition October 1870 8th Edition March 1878, 9th Edition October 1885

People's Edition, cr. 8vo
Fiist printed May 1865; Reprinted October .1865

January 1866, October 1866, May 1866
August 1869, November 1871, jlf^rc//. 1872

4pr# 1873, February 1875, ^riZ 1876

JfeTarc/j. 1878, Afarcfe 1880, September 1881

February 1883, January 1885, August 1886

September 1888, Ji% 1891

Silver Library
.FVrstf issued January 1892

Reprinted October 1894, August 1896, 4p?-*Z 1898
January 1900, January 1902, ^riZ 1904, J?/,7ie 1909

New Edition, cr. 8vo. Edited by W. J. Ashley November 1909


The best Introduction to the Principles of Political Economy of John Stuart Mill is Mill's own account of his economic studies. They began at the age of thirteen; when he was approaching the end of that unique educational process, enforced by the stern will of his father, which he has described in his Autobiography for the amazement and pity of subsequent generations.

"It was in 1819 that he took me through a complete course of political economy. His loved and intimate friend, Ricardo, had shortly before published the book which formed so great an epoch in political economy; a book which would never have been published or written, but for the entreaty and strong encouragement of my father. ... No didactic treatise embodying its doctrines, in a manner fit for learners, had yet appeared. My father, therefore, commenced instructing me in the science by a sort of lectures, which he delivered to me in our walks. He expounded each day a portion of the subject, and I gave him next day a written account of it, which he made me rewrite over and over again until it was clear, precise, and tolerably complete. In this manner I went through the whole extent of the science; and the written outline of it which resulted from my daily compte rendu served him afterwards as notes from which to write his Elements of Political Economy. After this I read Ricardo, giving an account daily of what I read, and discussing . . . the collateral points which offered themselves in our progress.

"On Money, as the most intricate part of the subject, he made me read in the same manner Ricardo's admirable pamphlets, written during . . . the Bullion controversy ; to these succeeded Adam Smith; and ... it was one of my father's main objects to make me apply to Smith's more superficial view of political economy the superior lights of Ricardo, and detect what was fallacious in Smith's arguments, or erroneous in any of his conclusions. Such a mode of instruction was excellently calculated to form a thinker; but it required to be worked by a thinker, as close and vigorous as my father. The path was a thorny one, even to him, and I am sure it was so to me, notwithstanding the strong interest I took in the subject. He was often, and much beyond reason, provoked by my failures in cases where success could not have been expected; but in the main his method was right, and it succeeded." 1

After a year in France, during which he "passed some time in the house of M. Say, the eminent political economist, who was a friend and correspondent" of the elder Mill,2 he went a second time over the same ground under the same guidance.

"When I returned (1821), my father was just finishing for the press his Elements of Political Economy, and he made me perform an exercise on the manuscript, which Mr. Bentham practised on all his own writings, making what he called ' marginal contents'; a short abstract of every paragraph, to enable the writer more easily to judge of, and improve, the order of the ideas, and the general character of the exposition." 3 This was soon after reaching the age of fifteen. Four years later, in 1825, he made a systematic survey of the field for the third time. Though he was still only nineteen, he was now fully embarked upon his career as an economist, and was contributing articles on currency and commercial policy to the Westminster Review. Yet when, in that year, John Mill and a number of his youthful friends entered upon "the joint study of several of the branches of science" which they "wished to be masters of," it was once more the work of the elder Mill which served as the basis.

"We assembled to the number of a dozen or more. Mr. Grote lent a room of his house in Threadneedle Street. . . . We met two mornings in every week, from half-past eight till ten, at which hour most of us were called off to our daily occupations. Our first subject was Political Economy. We chose some systematic treatise as our text-book; my father's Elements being our first choice. One of us read a chapter, or some smaller portion of the book. The discussion was then opened, and anyone who had an objection, or other remark to make, made it. Our rule was to discuss thoroughly every point raised . . . until all who took part were satisfied with the conclusion they had individually arrived at; and to follow up every topic . . . which the chapter or the conversation suggested, never leaving it until we had untied every knot." l

1 Autobiography, p. 27 (Pop. ed. p. 15).

2 Ibid. p. 60 (Pop. ed. p. 34). ;i Ibid. p. 62 (Pop. ed. p. 36). 1 Ibid. p. 119 (Pop. ed. p. 68).

The figure of James Mill has been singularly obscured by the more attractive personality of his son. It may possibly be open to discussion how far James Mill was a trustworthy interpreter of Ricardo. But what cannot be doubted is the extent and penetrating character of his influence. The evidence of his son may certainly be relied upon:

"My father's writings and conversation drew round him a number of young men who had already imbibed, or who imbibed from him, a greater or smaller portion of his very decided political and philosophical opinions. The notion that Bentham was surrounded by a band of disciples who received their opinions from his lips, is a fable. . . . The influence which Bentham exercised was by his writings. Through them he has produced, and is producing, effects on the condition of mankind, wider and deeper than any which can be attributed to my father. He is a much greater name in history. But my father exercised a far greater personal ascendency. He was sought for the vigour and instructiveness of his conversation, and did use it largely as an instrument for the diffusion of his opinions. . . ."It was my father's opinions which gave the distinguishing character to the Benthamic or utilitarian propagandism of that time. They fell singly, scattered from him, in many directions, but they flowed from him in a continued stream principally in three channels. One was through me, the only mind directly formed by his instructions, and through whom considerable influence was exercised over various young men, who became, in their turn, propagandists. A second was through some of the Cambridge contemporaries of Charles Austin . . . some of the more considerable of whom afterwards sought my father's acquaintance. . . . The third channel was that of a younger generation of Cambridge undergraduates, contemporary . . . with Eyton Tooke, who were . . . introduced by him to my father. ...

"Though none of us, probably, agreed in every respect with

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