improvement; and that it ought to he replaced by a principle of perfect equality, admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other."
Mr. Mill is fully aware of the difficulty of his task. He admits that he is arguing against "an almost universal opinion," but he urges that it and the practice founded on it is a relic of a by-gone state of things. "We now live—that is to say, one or two of the most advanced nations of the world now live—in a state in which the law of the strongest seems to be entirely abandoned as the regulating principle of the world's affairs. Nobody professes it, and, as regards most of the relations between human beings, nobody is permitted to practise it.... This being the ostensible state of things, people flatter themselves that the rule of mere force is ended." Still they do not know how hard it dies, and in particular they are unaware of the fact that it still regulates the relations between men and women. It is true that the actually existing generation of women do not dislike their position. The consciousness of this haunts Mr. Mill throughout the whole of his argument, and embarrasses him at every turn. He is driven to account for it by such assertions as that "each individual of the subject class is in a chronic state of bribery and intimidation combined," by reference to the affection which slaves in classical times felt for their masters in many cases, and by other suggestions of the same sort. His great argument against the present state of things is that it is opposed to what he calls "the modern conviction, the fruit of a thousand years of experience"—
The result is that "the social subordination of women thus stands out as an isolated fact in modern social institutions." It is in "radical opposition" to "the progressive movement, which is the boast of the modern world." This fact creates a "prima-facie presumption" against it, "far outweighing any which custom and usage could in such circumstances create" in its favor.