Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/35

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25
JOHN STUART MILL.

JOHN STUART MILL.
By ALEXANDER BAIN, LL.D.,
PROFESSOR OF LOGIC IN THE UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN.
IV.

THE year 1842 was memorable for the American repudiation, in which Mill was heavily involved. He had invested, I am told, a thousand pounds of his own money, and several thousands of his father's money which he had in trust for the family, and which he would have to make good. The blow completely shook him for the time. From whatever cause, or union of causes, his bodily strength was prostrated to such degree that, before I left London that autumn, he was unequal to his usual walk from the India House home, and took the omnibus before he went far. The disaster must have preyed upon him for a year or more. He alluded to his state in the Comte letters, in which he described his depression as both physical and moral. It appears that in a letter to Comte of the 15th of November, he gave assurances of his being much better. So in writing to me on the 3d of October, he says, "I am quite well and strong, and now walk the whole way to and from Kensington without the self-indulgence of omnibi" But on the 5th of December he says, "I have not been very well, but am a little better." He was now in the middle of the very heavy winter's work of getting the "Logic" through the press. There is no more heard of his health till the following June, in which he wrote to Comte in a very depressed tone. I remember, either in that or in the previous summer, his confessing to me that he was in a low state. I naturally urged that he had a long continuance of very heavy work. He replied hastily, "I do not believe any man was ever the worse for work," or something to that effect. I listened in mute astonishment, being quite ignorant that other circumstances besides his intellectual strain were at work. In writing to Comte, who, unlike him, believed in the bad consequences of prolonged study, he said his doctors advised him to rest his brain, but, as they knew so very little, he preferred to abide by his own feelings, which taught him that work was the only thing to counteract melancholy. Comte, however, urged that a "true positive therapeutics" involved rest and diversion; and Mill believed in regular holiday tours. It was during this dreadful depression of June and July, 1843, and after the American repudiation had beggared him, that he made his offer of pecuniary assistance to Comte. He had had no holiday for two years, and, except for his customary Sunday walks, he did not leave town that autumn: I suspect that his money affairs had something to do with his still postponing his holiday. In October his letters announce an improved state of health.