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On Liberty.

Stock Code 112587

London, John W. Parker, 1859

Original price £7,500.00 - Original price £7,500.00
Original price £0.00
£7,500.00 - £7,500.00
Current price £7,500.00
Liberty and the individual. The first edition of Mill's great essay on liberty and the duty owed by fellow man.

Widely considered a masterpiece of nineteenth-century political thought, which brought up to date the Benthamite utilitarianism of Mill's (1806-1873) precursors, introducing the key, defining principle that the 'greatest happiness' of society cannot be achieved at the expense of individual liberty. The 'sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection... the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others' (pp21-22).

On Liberty was written during the 8 years of Mill's happy marriage to the women's rights activist Harriet Taylor Mill, who died shortly before the book's publication in 1859. The work is movingly dedicated to her memory as 'the inspirer, and in part the author, of all that is best in my writings' (dedication). Mill himself was an early advocate for expanded suffrage; as MP for Westminster he became one of the strongest voices in Parliament calling for women to be given the right to vote, and on his death left a legacy of £6000, nearly half of his estate, to the furtherance of women's education.

Mill's own education, under the aegis of his father James Mill, a historian and noted disciple of Jeremy Bentham, was famously severe. 'At the age of the three the boy could read Greek; by the time he was eight he was reading Plato and Herodotus and an incredible quantity of historical writing; at twelve he had embarked on Aristotle's works of logic, Adam Smith and Ricardo' (PMM). Nevertheless, Mill was later thankful for the firm grounding this tutelage gave him, concluding that 'in the main his method was right, and it succeeded' (Autobiography).

With interesting provenance for the surgeon and medical reformer William Rendle FRCS (1811-1893), Vice-President of the Association of Medical Officer of Health, and early advocate for sanitary reform.

First edition; 8vo (20.5 x 13 cm); dated ownership inscription in pen to title, bookplate to front pastedown, 8pp publisher's ads to rear, occasional annotations in pencil, one note to p.23 in pen, bibliographic notes in pencil to rear free endpaper recto, front free endpaper renewed, offsetting and minor perforations to title, small area of loss to head, slight offsetting to pp26-27 and 204-205, otherwise internally clean; publisher's ribbed brown cloth, lettered in gilt to spine, expertly rebacked with original spine laid down, a very good example; 207, [1], 8pp.

PMM 345.

Provenance: William Rendle, 1864, 33, Bridge House Place, Newington Causeway, S.E. (ownership inscription and bookplate).


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On Liberty.

MILL, John Stuart.

Stock code: 112587



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