Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/717

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

APRIL, 1879.


 

JOHN STUART MILL.
By ALEXANDER BAIN, LL.D.,

PROFESSOR IN THE UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN.

I.

I PROPOSE to review the life and character of John Stuart Mill. In addition to what all the world may know, I am aided by personal recollections extending over the second half of his life, and by documents in the possession of his family for some of the earlier portions.

My plan requires me to recall the account given in the "Autobiography" of the successive stages of his early education. There is a sort of pause or break at his eighth year, when he began Latin. His years from three to eight are occupied with Greek, English and arithmetic; the Greek, strange to say, taking precedence. His earliest recollection of all, we are led to suppose, although not explicitly affirmed, is his committing to memory lists of Greek words written by his father on cards. He had been told that he was then three years old. Of course reading English, both printed and written, was supposed: and we have to infer that he had no recollection of that first start of all, which must have been taken before he completed his third year. And, judging from the work gone through by his eighth year, he can not be far wrong in putting down the date of the Greek commencement.

A letter from his father to Bentham, dated July 25, 1809, affords us a momentary glimpse of him at the age of three years and two months. It was the occasion of the first visit to Bentham at Barrow Green. The letter is an apology for not being able to come on the day previously arranged, and is full of rather heavy joking about the domestic obstructions. The passage to our present purpose is this: