VIII.—The Early Life of James Mill.

VIII.—The Early Life of James Mill.

James Mill was born on the 6th of April, 1773, at Northwater Bridge, parish of Logie Pert, county of Forfar or Angus.(8 ¶ 1)

The spot of his birth is not far from being a central point in that part of Strathmore, extending into the two counties Forfar or Angus and Kincardine or the Mearns, called Howe of Angus, and Howe of the Mearns. The strath or plain is four to six miles wide, and lies between the Grampians and a line of coast hills of much lower elevation.(8 ¶ 2)

Northwater Bridge is a bridge on the Northwater or North Esk, a river inferior to the Tay and the Dee but still a considerable stream, rising not far off in Glenesk in the Grmpians and flowing across the county from west to east, entering the sea three miles north of Montrose. Of its various bridges, the oldest and most important is the one that gives the name to Mill's birth-place; a three-arch stone bridge built about two centuries before his time, on the great central line of communication from the north of Scotland to the south; the bridge near the sea for the coast road being built only in the end of last century. The river is for a great part of its course the boundary of the two counties.(8 ¶ 3)

The parish of Logie Pert, a union of two older parishes, Logie and Pert, lies along the right bank of the North Esk, and is the last of the Forfar parishes northward. Across the river is Maykirk, lower down St. Cyrus--the coast hills and coast parish.(8 ¶ 4)

The account of Logie Pert parish in the old statistical account of Scotland was drawn up by the parish minister, Mr. Peters, in the year 1791. It is most careful and minute, and will enable any one to form a very accurate picture of James Mill's life and surroundings, both physical and social. The parish is about four miles long by three miles broad; it contained in that year a population of 999 persons. It was mainly an agricultural parish; but had also two bleachfields--Craigo and Logie, a small flax mill, and even a snuff mill, besides meal mills. There were also limestone quarries then largely worked. The river yielded a good supply of salmon. The land for agriculture was distributed among thirty-six farmers; five or six paying from £100 to £200 yearly rent.(8 ¶ 5)

Northwater Bridge became the name of one of the leading farms, of which the farm-house was continguous to the bridge; an unusually large and good farm-house, of four rooms in length and two storeys in height. This was also in Mill's time an inn and posting-house, kept by the tenant of the farm. Right and left of the high road south of the bridge, there were other houses, perhaps fourteen or fifteen, making up a hamlet, the largest in the parish, with a population of seventy persons. Blacksmith, wright, mason, carrier, small grocer or merchant--were all found here; in addition to which were cottages attached to the farm, and let by the farm-tenant. One of these was a clay-built thatched cottage, a hundred yards south of the farm-house of the bridge, and on the same side of the road (right hand going south). It was some twenty yards off the road, and at right angles, the gable towards the road. It had two doors and three windows; the farthest door from the road was the entry to the usual two rooms of a cottage—but an' ben. The other door entered a single room, the room next the road. This was the cottage where James Mill was born. In front was the kail yard or garden: behind that, running at right angles, was a similar cottage inhabited by the head labourer or manager of the farm; at the south end of that cottage was the byre belonging to Mill's cottage.[20] Mill rented also a cow's grass; and the family continued to have a cow to the last.(8 ¶ 6)

The father of James Mill (also called James) was a shoe-maker, and had a good country business, employing usually two or three men. Of his own previous history we know only that he worked at his trade some time in Edinburgh before settling in Northwater Bridge; and one tradition is that he built the cottage himself on the ground belonging to the farm, and enjoyed it rent-free for a certain time in consequence. There are plenty of his name all over that part of Scotland, but the spelling varies, Milne being perhaps more common: his own name in the register of his son's birth is spelt so. The elder James Mill was industrious and steady in his calling, good-natured in his disposition, pious and devout, but with no special claim to intelligence or any high mental quality. In the prime of his age he seems to have been in good circumstances, and to have saved money.(8 ¶ 7)

Mill's mother was Isabel Fenton, the daughter of a farmer in the Kirriemuir district of the country. Her exact parentage has not been traced, but there have long been a number of substantial farmers of the same name on the Airlie and other estates in that neighbourhood. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the Fentons had landed property in the district, and were called the Fentons of Baikie. It is said that Isabel Fenton's father had fallen from much better circumstances, in consequence of joining in the Stuart rising of 1745. Forfarshire was the chief part of the Lowlands that was so infatuated as to take the field for the Pretender. The then heir of Airlie, Lord Ogilvie, led out a large band of tenants and residents, including, it is said, Isabel Fenton's father, who, with the rest, suffered severely by the ravages of Cumberland's troops, and was thenceforth a much poorer man. It is even said that he was himself a proprietor before 1745, but the circumstance is not verified. Isabel, at all events, looked upon herself as one that had fallen from a better estate. She was not taken direct from Kirriemuir to Logie Pert, but went into domestic service and resided in Edinburgh, where James Mill made her acquaintance while working there. Her character is difficult to rescue from various conflicting traditions. All admit that she was a proud woman; her pride taking the form of haughty superiority to the other cottagers' wives, and also entering into her determination to rear her eldest son to some higher destiny. She could do fine work, but was not in her element in the common drudgery of her cottage; she was given to the luxuries of the table beyond what her husband considered fitting. But it is the fancy of those that knew her that she was the source of her son's intellectual energy; although we can hardly obtain clear evidence of her possessing any superior powers of intelligence.[21](8 ¶ 8)

The biography of James Mill requires a special notice of the tenants of the farm where his father's cottage lay. This farm, consisting of about two hundred Scotch acres, is on the Earl of Kintore's estate of Inglismaldie, and was commonly called the bridge, or the brig. The tenant was a member of the widely-spread and important family of the Barclays; in earlier times extensive proprietors in Forfar and adjoining counties, but latterly, for the most part, substantial tenant farmers. The lands of Ury were possessed by one branch of the family. The tenant--at the time of Mill's birth--died in 1794, leaving a widow and a large family, with whom James Mill was very intimate. The eldest son, who succeeded to the farm, Mr. David Barclay, was four years younger than Mill, and is the medium of much of our authentic information respecting him. One of the sisters, the youngest of the family, still lives, and is able to testify to some important events in Mill's early history.(8 ¶ 9)

The children of James Mill and Isabel Fenton were James Mill (1773), William Mill, two years younger, and a daughter, May Mill, two years younger than William. There are no family events to record for the early years of James Mill. He went, of course, to the parish school (in the centre of the parish) as soon as he was able to walk two miles and back. Of his schoolmaster I have heard no special accounts. It is a matter of fair inference that his superior talent was unmistakably shown in very early years. In fact, James Mill could not have reached his seventh year without disclosing to the stupidest observer his superiority over the other children of his years. His talent was of a kind that the common school elements would make manifest. He must have been distinguished in all the three R's. He had voice and elocution for a reader, he was a neat writer, had abundant arithmetical faculty and an admirable turn for languages. His parents at home could not be ignorant of his powers. As a matter of course, the parish minister would soon learn that an extraordinary boy was growing up at the Northwater Bridge. His mother's ambition resolved that he should be a scholar; by her he was nurtured and petted, and exempted from all distracting occupation. It is a very rare thing, indeed, for a boy to live in a humble rural family, be he ever so scholarly, without having to take some share in manual occupations, either field labour or artisan employment within doors. I have received the most emphatic assurances, from good authority, that James Mill neither assisted in his father's trade, nor took any part in the labour of the field, whereby he might have been less dependent on his parents. He saw what was going on, contracted an interest in farming, but his own sole occupation was study. His brother William was put to work in the father's shop, and so continued till he fell a premature victim to disease.(8 ¶ 10)

After mastering the R's with a little English Grammar, Mill would enter the Latin class of the parish school; the fee at this stage 2s 6d a quarter. With the most humble tutorial assistance, and with his studious habits at home, he must have got on very rapidly: and, in fact, at ten or eleven years he would be at the end of the schoolmaster's curriculum.(8 ¶ 11)

It is much to be regretted that we have nothing but a few plausible conjectures to make up the history of his studies to his eighteenth year. It is as certain as it can be without positive contemporary registration, that he was sent to Montrose Academy, one of the good grammar schools of Scotland. He had, of course, to board in Montrose, and his education must then have been more costly; but his parents were able and willing to pay the expense. The Montrose Academy was once famous for Greek, being a prepatory school for the universities; and Mill here obtained, if not the groundwork, at least the finishing part, of the very good classical attainments that he carried with him to Edinburgh. But it is hopeless to inquire when, and how long, he attended the Academy; our evidence only suffices to make the fact itself indubtiable.(8 ¶ 12)

We should not omit at this stage the assistance he received from the excellent and able minister of the parish, Mr. Peters, his friend all through. It is within allowable conjecture that if the schoolmaster ever staggered under the pressure of Mill's rapid advances, Mr. Peters would come to the rescue; would help the boy over difficulties, lend him books both for scholastic purposes and for general study, and guide and encourage him in his aspirations. He would also advise his parents, and confirm them in their determination to set him apart for a student's career.(8 ¶ 13)

A passage in a letter written long after, in an interesting moment of his life, may be quoted here as the only existing testimony borne by himself to his early feelings: My pleasure shall consist ..... in establishing to myself that name in the world for wisdom and knowledge which was the darling object even of my infant years to think I should one day attain; and which I know I do not deceive myself when I think that few men, at my years (31), have laid so good a foundation for attaining. The circumstances probably gave an undue warmth to his expressions on this occasion.(8 ¶ 14)

I now approach what appears to have been the most important event of his early career, his connection with the Fettercairn family.[22] The beginnings of this connection are hopelessly obscure; but before stating the traditions bearing upon the event I will make a few preliminary observations.(8 ¶ 15)

A young man born on the banks of the North Esk, in humble circumstances, and possessing superior abilities, would, as a matter of course, turn his thoughts to the colleges at Aberdeen. The distance from Northwater Bridge is thirty-eight miles, an easy student's journey. The distance to St. Andrews is much greater, to Edinburgh more than double. The Aberdeen colleges possessed numerous bursaries open to competition, the exercise being a version or translation from English into Latin. A £10 bursary would pay all the fees and in those days cover half the maintenance of a student for the college session. Moreover, there was in the patronage of the family of Ramsay, of Balmain (in Mill's neighbourhood), four bursaries of £24 a year, tenable for four years: so that one was vacant every year. Such a bursary would pay the fees and give a sumptuous maintenance to the student. A boy so distinguished as James Mill could have been put forward to the patron as a candidate for one of these bursaries, and notwithstanding the claims of factor's sons, clergymen's sons, &c., would eventually have succeeded. Add to all this that the parish minister, Mr. Peters, was brother-in-law to Professor Stuart of Marischal College, in Aberdeen, and in frequent communication with the professor, who was a man of some property in Kincardineshire, and came every year to visit his brother-in-law; while it is known that he became well acquainted with Mill, and was useful to him at a later stage. The minister and the professor would certainly have discovered a way of sending him to Marischal College. The sons of the clergy and the farmers in that district, we know, went to Aberdeen; a younger brother of Mr. David Barclay studied there. Had it been proposed to send Mill to Aberdeen, he was quite ready to go in his thirteenth, or at latest, his fourteenth year. Starting at that age he would have kept abreast of every branch in the curriculum, and probably have been the first man of ihs year. That he as detained at home till his eighteenth year, to be then sent to the University of Edinburgh, shows that some powerful hand had interposed at an early stage to divert him from what I must deem his obvious and natural career.(8 ¶ 16)

The account given by John Stuart Mill (Autobiography) of his father's introduction to the Fettercairn family is a somewhat loose version of the statement made to him by Mr. David Barclay in a letter written after his father's death in 1836.[23] We do not possess that letter, but we know the substance; and we have Mr. Barclay's own words in another communication, which he made to the Montrose Review in the same year. It was to furnish a biography of his father, for the Encyclopædia Britannica, that John Mill applied to Mr. Barclay for information. He placed the letter that he received in the hands of Mr. Andrew Bisset, who with some assistance from Mill himself, composed the article. Mr. Bisset had the advantage of being locally connected with James Mill's birth-place, and of having independent information respecting his early days. I therefore accept his rendering of the circumstances of the introduction to the Stuart family as the best now attainable; although it is not so complete as we should wish. Some pious ladies, he says, amongst whom was Lady Jane Stuart (she was then Belsches), having established a fund for educating one or two young men for the Church, Lady Jane applied to the Rev. Mr. Foote, minister of Fettercairn, to recommend some one. Mr. Foote applied to Mr. Peters, of Logie Pert, who recommended James Mill, both on account of his own abilities, and the known good character of the parents. Mr. Barclay's published statement is to the same effect. He was himself rather too young to have remembered the circumstances from personal knowledge of what happened somewhere between 1783 and 1790; his account is a tradition from the elder members of his own family. Mill would undoubtedly be brought to the notice of Sir John and Lady Jane Stuart, either by their own parish minister, or by Mr. Peters of Logie Pert. The house of Fettercairn is only five miles from Northwater Bridge. How far Lady Jane was associated with other ladies, and whether Mill was but one of several young men that received the same assistance, it is impossible to find out. We know that Lady Jane was reputed in her neighbourhood as foremost in every good work; and, if the educating of a promising youth to the ministry had come before her as a proposal, she would have readily taken a part in carrying it out; and we are safe in giving her the chief credit of obtaining for Mill the higher start that he gained, in being taken at a mature age to the University of Edinburgh, instead of going to Aberdeen as a mere boy, however precocious or advanced. As I consider it morally certain that the resolution to send him to Edinburgh must have been formed several years before he actually went, his going to Montrose Academy for a time might be part of the plan; and his parents must have been partly relieved of the cost of this residence by Lady Jane, although the general opinion is that their own means were equal to the effort.(8 ¶ 17)

As there are no particulars to relate of his years at the Montrose Academy, we next enter upon his college career, in which, strange to say, there is considerable difficulty in obtaining even the external facts. The registers of the University were so imperfectly kept, that, so far as they are concerned, we are left in the dark on some essential points. I have obtained from Professor Masson every item that the University records can furnish, and shall try to turn them to the best account.(8 ¶ 18)

He first appears in the records in 1790: so that he entered college at the unusually advanced age of 17½ years. For this session he is entered in the Senior Latin Class (Prof. Hill), and the Senior Greek Class (Dalziel). That is to say, he skipped the junior classes in both Latin and Greek, and entered at once into the senior, which gave him the rank of a second year's student. I reserve my comments till I give his whole Arts attendance. Next year, 1791–92, he is entered for Senior Greek, Logic (Finlayson), Natural Philosophy (Robison). Third year, 1791–93, Senior Greek.(8 ¶ 19)

This is all that we obtain from the College books, and it lands us in more than one puzzle. Besides the omission of the junior classes in the Classics there is no Mathematics (Playfair), and, more marvellous still, no Moral Philosophy (Dugald Stewart). As we know that he was destined for the Church, the first thing to ask is, what attendances did this necessitate? It is curious that such a matter should be doubtful, but so it is. The Act of Assembly in operation at the time merely specifies a course of Philosophy corresponding to the course for the M.A. degree at each university; but, in Edinburgh, the M.A. degree was rarely taken, and the regulations for it at that time are unknown to me. The subjects of the usual curriculum for a degree in Arts are understood to be Latin, Greek, Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Logic, and Moral Philosophy. In Classics there were in all the universities junior and senior classes, but it may have been allowable to pass over the junior class if the students were sufficiently advanced to enter the senior, which Mill certainly was. Then as to Mathematics. I have heard, on good authority, that the subject was not, at that time, obligatory for students for the Church.[24] But that James Mill should fail to attend Playfair's classes seems to me very strange. With all his ability and devotion to study, and with the very best help that Montrose Academy could give him, he could not have been so accomplished a mathematician as he was a classic. Moreover, to see him entering the Natural Philosophy class in his second year, without a previous mathematical course, is quite inexplicable. He might have had enough of geometry to enter the school of Plato, but certainly he had not enough to enter the school of Robison--the last of the adherents to the tough geometry of the Principia.(8 ¶ 20)

But it is when I look to the entry of his third year that I must express doubts as to the sufficiency of the record. It may be quite true that he gave a second unnecessary attendance on Dalziel's class, for Greek was his delight, and Dalziel was an admirable teacher, and seemed to notice Mill's aptitude; but that he should have attended no other class is wholly incredible. He must have attended Dugald Stewart this year: the Church never dispensed with Moral Philosophy; and, if it had, he would not have neglected Stewart. The power of Stewart's lecturing has been repeatedly celebrated; but by no one more than Mill. The following passage has already been printed; it occurred in a letter seemingly addressed, in 1821, to Mcvey Napier, Jeffrey's successor in the Edinburgh Review:—All the years I remained about Edinburgh, I used, as often as I possibly could, to steal into Mr. Stewart's class to hear a lecture, which was always a high treat. I have heard Pitt and Fox deliver some of their most admired speeches; but I never heard anything nearly so eloquent as some of the lectures of Professor Stewart. The taste for the studies which have formed my favourite pursuits, and which will be so to the end of my life, I owe to him.(8 ¶ 21)

If we can satisfactorily challenge the completeness of the college records, as I think we may, we are then at liberty to suppose that Mill, in his first year, attended Playfair's Mathematical class, in addition to Senior Latin and Senior Greek, which were hardly sufficient to occupy his time. He may have attended Playfair's second class in the second year, along with Logic and Natural Philosophy, as well as Senior Greek, a voluntary attendance.[25](8 ¶ 22)

Excepting his strong testimony to Dugald Stewart's fascination, which, no doubt, was the stirring of his own great philosophical aptitudes--I, too, am a metaphysician--we have not a shred of information as to his doings or feelings those three Edinburgh winters. From extraneous sources we know what Edinburgh was in those years; the local colouring--political, literary, and social--has been given in connection with many memoirs, as well as in the general history of the time. We can tell who were his distinguished contemporaries and class fellows; but let us first pass on to complete his college studies.(8 ¶ 23)

We have good cause to grumble at the bad registration of the Edinburgh University; but as regards Mill's subsequent studies at the Divinity Hall there is an incidental record, which gives us some real insight into his mental progress. His Divinity studies commence in 1794, and occupy four winters. The Theological professors we see were--Divinity, Andrew Hunter; Church History, Thomas Hardie; Hebrew, William Moodie. Of Dr. Hunter I am unable to speak; but the professor of Church History, Hardie, is cited by Mill himself, in his translation of Villars, in terms of high praise. The passage there quoted does credit to Hardie's vigour as a reasoner. It is directed against ritualism and superstition. Hardie must have been of the stamp of Principal George Campbell, of Aberdeen, and his lecturing would probably be in keeping with Mill's intellectual phase at the time.(8 ¶ 24)

But what interests us most is the Librarian's Register of the Theological Library, which contains the titles of the works taken out by the students, with their names appended chiefly in their own hand. Here we have a clue to Mill's reading during those four winters. Of course he had other sources: he might have access at the same time to the General Library; and, besides his own private collection of favourite authors, he could borrow from other parties. Making allowance for all these, we can discern a marked character in his studies. The liast of books taken out by him has been extracted by Professor Masson; and I here give it entire.(8 ¶ 25)

The first entry is for January 2, 1794; the book is not very legibly given. Jan 20; Ferguson's History of Civil Society. Feb. 6; Alison On Taste. Feb. 13; Rousseau's Emile, vol. 1. Feb 20; Emile, vol. 2. March 3; Cudworth's Morality. March 6; Gregory's Essays. March 13; Smith's Theory (of Moral Sentiments), vol. 1. April 3; Smith's Theory, vol. 2. April 10; Massillon's Sermons. April 30; Reid's Intellectual Powers. This last was probably returned in a week, and he would then leave town. No books are borrowed in the recess.(8 ¶ 26)

The second Divinity session (1794–95), shows the first entry in November 20; Ferguson's Philosophy, vol. 2. Without giving dates, I will quote the rest: Discours par Rousseau; Mélanges de Litterature; Hume's Essays, vol. 1; Jortin's Dissertations; Bolingbroke's Dissertations; Hume's Essays, vol. 2 (four weeks after vol. 1); Sermons par Massillon; Alison on Taste; Smith's Theory, vol. 2; Kames's Sketches; Theological Repository, vol. 1; Gregory's Sermons; Necker's Religious Opinions; Platonis Opera, folio; Hakewell's Apology (a very peculiar book); Campbell on Rhetoric; Platonis Opera; Campbell on Rhetoric (permission to have Plato and Campbell together); Ferguson's Essay; Oeuvres de Maupertuis; Hume's Essays. This brings us down to August 12, showing that Mill resided in Edinburgh this summer, and was absent only in September and October, being then probably at Northwater Bridge.(8 ¶ 27)

The third session opens with the entry November 26, Oeuvres de Fénélon; Plato's Works; Ferguson's Philosophy; Plato's Works (for six weeks an alternation of the two); Massillon's Sermons; Oeuvres de Fénélon; Massillon; Plato's Works; History of Man; Plato's Works—April 27, 1796, last entry of the session.(8 ¶ 28)

He has now made three full sessions in Divinity. His fourth and last might be what is called a partial session--two or three weeks, during which his principal duty is the delivering of the last of his prescribed discourses in the Hall. Only three entries occur:—December 26, Locke's Works, Vol. 2. December 29; Whitly on the Five Points. January 2; Abernethie's Sermons. The two last may have had some bearing on his discourses.(8 ¶ 29)

The foregoing list speaks for itself. Mr. Masson remarks that it is very unlike the lists of other Divinity students. Mental Philosophy is the foremost subject of his choice: but it surprises us that he had not yet become possessed of such leading authors as Locke and Reid. There is also a beginning of his studies in Historical and Social Philosophy; a dead set at Plato; and an attempt upon the flowery vein of Massillon. He is already a fair French scholar.(8 ¶ 30)

A word or two now on his college companions. I doubt if there were ever at one time gathered together in one spot such a host of young men of ability as were about Edinburgh College in the last ten years of the century. Thomas M'Crie as well as John Leyden sat with Mill in the Senior Greek Class in 1790–1. Brougham was at college at the same time, although young, and must have then commenced his intimacy with Mill.[26] Jeffrey should have gone to Edinburgh College for his whole education, but seems to have attended only the class of Law. Whether Mill knew him here I cannot say. Thomas Thomson, the chemist, was a class-fellow, both in Arts and Divinity, and was all through life an intimate friend. Sir D. Brewster knew Mill, but their college careers only touched: Mill ended in the Divinity Hall in the year that Brewster began. Another of Mill's life-long friendships may have commenced here: Professor Wallace began to study in Edinburgh at that time, although mainly in the scientific classes. In the Life of Constable is given an interesting sketch of his first start.[27] Among many other names of after-repute may be mentioned also Mountstuart Elphinstone. We may readily imagine Mill's conversational encounters with such men, but we have nothing to record as to facts. An Aberdeen life in the same years, would, I am sorry to say, have been a dull affair. They were the closing years of Beattie and Campbell in Marischal College; and the young men of the period were undistinguished.(8 ¶ 31)

Having thus presented his college life in unbroken narrative, because of the continuity of the recorded facts, I may as well go on to the date of his being licensed as a preacher, making use of the records of the Presbytery of Brechin, to which I have been allowed to refer. He finished the Divinity Course, in January, 1797, and had now to present himself to be taken on trial for license. The first entry in the Presbytery records is on the 19th of October, 1796, at which date he was allowed to make an appearance in anticipation; being introduced by his friend, Mr. Peters. At the subsequent meeting in December, notice is given by Mr. Peters, that at the next ordinary meeting, Mr. James Mill, student in Divinity, upon producing proper certificates, be admitted to his questionary trials. On the 1st of February, 1797, he accordingly appears; produces his certificate from the Professor of Divinity, that he had regularly attended the Divinity Hall and had delivered the usual exercises with approbation, and that his conduct had been suitable to his views. He was then subjected to questionary trials, or, as we call it, a vivâ voce examination, and gave satisfactory answers. Whereupon he had to be reported to the ensuing Synod, which had to authorise the Presbytery to proceed with the rest of his probationary trials. He is not mentioned again in the Presbytery books till the 28th of June, although in the meantime the subjects of some of his discourses must have been prescribed to him. He delivered his Homily on Matthew v. 8 (Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God), and more interesting still his Exegesis (Latin) on the foundations of Natural Religion, Num sit Dei cognitio naturalis? The Presbytery is satisfied, and farther prescribes, as a Lecture, the 14th chapter of John's Gospel. On the 30th August, he delivers the Lecture, together with his Exercise in addition on Galatians ii. 20 (I am crucified with Christ, &c.). Both are approved of, and there are prescribed farther Revelation xxii. 14 for a popular sermon, the fifth century for a discourse on Church History, and the 23rd Psalm in Hebrew to be explained. On the 11th of October, he gives the popular sermon. An unexplained blank of a year occurs between this appearance and his next, which was the last. On the 4th of October, 1798, he is examined upon his knowledge of Chronology and Church History, and of the Hebrew and Greek languages, and was approved. [There is a curious want of tallying with the previous prescription]. And the Presbytery having taken the whole of his trials under their consideration, Did and hereby Do unanimously approve and sustain them, and therefore after he had given satisfying answers to the usual Questions, and subscribed to the Confession of Faith and Formula, coram, and after Act Eight of the Assembly, 1759 [directed against obtaining a church by Simony] was read to him, the Presbytery Did and hereby Do License him, the said Mr. James Mill, to Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Moderator [his friend, Mr. Peters] having given him suitable Directions, the above was intimated to him.(8 ¶ 32)

Being now qualified to preach, he would display his powers, in the first instance, in the churches of his own neighbourhood. Very few records of his preaching exist; but there is good evidence of his officiating in the church of Logie Pert. My informant, the last survivor of the Barclay family, distinctly remembers hearing him on one occasion; and knows of his preaching twice. She remembers his loud clear voice, which filled the church; that his text was from Peter; and that the generality of the hearers complained of not being able to understand him. Other traditions concur in regard to his unpopular style. Sir David Brewster said to myself, I have heard him preach; and no great han' he made o't. His discourses would no doubt be severely reasoned, but wanting in the unction of the popular evangelical preacher.[28](8 ¶ 33)

It is no easy matter to trace his movements and occupations from 1790 to 1802, in that part of his time not spent at college. That he acted as private tutor in various families must be received as fact, but the particulars handed down are very confusing. The best attested of these engagements is that connected with the Fettercairn family. He certainly acted as tutor to Miss Stuart; of her he made mention in after years in conversation with friends in London. She was three years younger than himself; being fourteen at the time he went to college. In 1797 she was married, being then twenty-one; and we may reasonably suppose that her connection with Mill as a tutor may have ceased some time before that event. If she was done with him at eighteen, in 1794, he must have taught her soon after he went to college; either at Fettercairn House, in his vacations, or partly there, and partly in Edinburgh while attending classes.[29] At any rate it must have been at an early stage of his studies. She had reached an interesting age, and made a lasting impression on his mind. He spoke of her in later years with some warmth; putting it in the form of her great kindness to him; although, if we may believe the traditions, the first source of all the friendship displayed towards him by the family was her mother.(8 ¶ 34)

The romance that surrounds this lady is now well known. Lockhart gives the incidents of Scott's passion for her. In marrying the son of the banker, Sir William Forbes, she became the mother of James David Forbes, the distinguished Natural Philosophy Professor of Edinburgh. In the Life of Forbes is given her portrait along with her husband's; and one could easily fall into the opinion that her cast of expression and mind is what was reproduced in the philosopher, as he unfortunately participated in her constitutional delicacy. Beloved of so many gods, she died young.(8 ¶ 35)

It is thus certain that Mill resided for a certain time in the family as Miss Stuart's tutor: it is equally certain that the house was always open to him as a guest. He might walk across any day from Northwater Bridge to Fettercairn House, a distance of five miles, and he was counted upon when company were in the house.(8 ¶ 36)

But now as to his other tutorial engagements, say from 1795 to 1802. One tradition that deserves respect, as being supported by the evidence of Mr. David Barclay, and confirmed from at least one other source, is that he was for some time tutor in the family of the Marquis of Tweeddale. It happens that the present head of the family from his great age (being born in 1787) would in that case have been his pupil. I took the liberty of writing to the Marquis, stating the tradition; he responded most courteously, and took pains to explain to me how his education had been conducted; from which it was evident that he never had Mill as his tutor. I am obliged, therefore, to regard this tradition as a mistake, although I cannot account for its origin.(8 ¶ 37)

One engagement, not mentioned in any tradition, I have been able to trace out by the assistance of a daughter of Professor Stuart of Marischal College (born in 1792, and still living), who distinctly remembers having seen James Mill in Aberdeen. This was to me an entirely novel circumstance. No one had ever heard him say that he had been in Aberdeen, or mention any fact that implied it. As the lady in question was the niece of Mr. Peters, and often visited his manse as a child, she probably saw Mill there; but she farther states that she knew him as a tutor in Aberdeen, in the family of Mr. Burnet of Elick, one of the branches of the family of Bishop Burnet. At the same time when I first received this information, one of the sons that would have been his pupils was still alive. From him I received this statement: It is quite true that a Mr. Mill was private tutor in my father's family, whom I am aware my father held in high estimation, and kept up an intimate correspondence with for years afterwards, but I am sorry to say that my memory does not serve me sufficiently to give any reliable information, and I was not even aware of the Mr. Mill in question being the father of John Stuart Mill. That an intimate or extensive correspondence was kept up I should very much doubt; but if the letters are ever forthcoming they will be a valuable contribution to the biography, assuming that there is no mistake. A farther confirmation, however, occurs in Mill's own letters to Mr. Barclay, who had a brother that studied in Marischal College. Mill promises to introduce this brother to his friends in Aberdeen. Now he might have had one or two friends in Aberdeen, without ever being there; but the unqualified plural seems to imply that he had made friends there by residence.(8 ¶ 38)

This tutorship must have been subsequent to his leaving the Divinity Hall in the beginning of 1797; for although he might have been tutor to families in the south while attending college, seeing that the high families often wintered in Edinburgh, he could not have been a tutor in Aberdeen so long as he was a student. His introduction to Mr. Burnet was, without doubt, through Professor Stuart. The professor's daughter relates a tradition to the effect that Mill threw up this appointment suddenly, owing to an affront given him at a dinner party; but this cannot be received if we are to trust Mr. Burnet's own statement.(8 ¶ 39)

On the above supposition as to the time of this engagement, Mill would have been in Aberdeen after being a licentiate of the church; and I therefore thought it worth while to search the rcords of the Kirk Session of Aberdeen, in which a regular insertion is made of the preachers and texts every Sunday in the three parish churches. I found his friend, Mr. Peters, twice mentioned, but Mill's name does not occur. There were other churches, called chapels of ease, but their records I have not seen.(8 ¶ 40)

Thus the history of his tutorships, which must have been his first source of income, is left very vague; and so also is his local habitation, for a great part of several years of his life. He must have preached in Edinburgh, to have been heard by Sir David Brewster, whose time was divided between Edinburgh and his native place, Jedburgh, which was quite out of Mill's beat.(8 ¶ 41)

I will now present in one connected view the notices of Mill at home, or in his family at Northwater Bridge. He would not reside there continuously any year after first going to college, but he was known to be there occasionally in vacations, and on longer or shorter visits.(8 ¶ 42)

Taking our stand about 1795, his father and mother were past middle age, and not what they were. Perhaps as yet there was no failure in their circumstances, but the decline was not far off. William was twenty, and had for years been in his father's shop; another of his workmen is identified at that date, a married man, who lived apart from the Mills. These would probably be his usual complement of workmen; although it is admitted that he might have three men at work. The household would thus be made up of father and mother, James (when at home), William, and May (eighteen), on whom would fall a chief part of the housework, as well as the shoe-binding for the shop.(8 ¶ 43)

The west room of the house contained two beds along the right hand wall; in that room the mother hung up a canvass curtain (cannass it was called, being what is laid on the threshing-floor to keep the corn together); thus cutting off from the draught and from the gaze, the farther end of the room, including James's bed, the fire, and the gable window. This was his study; and the whole arrangement was vividly retained in the memory of contemporaries. Here he had his book shelves, his little round table and chair, and the gable window sill for a temporary shelf. He spent great part of his day in study. He had his regular pedestrian stretches; one secluded narrow glen is called James Mill's walk. He avoided people on the road; and was called haughty, shy, or reserved, according to the point of view of the critic. He went often in the evening to tea with the Barclays, being thoroughly at home there. Besides the minister, he had as friends some of the most important people in the parish, as for example, Lord Kintore's factor.(8 ¶ 44)

His meals were taken alone in his screened study; and were provided by his mother, expressly for his supposed needs. Among the other members of the family, who would take their meals in the kitchen, there is said to have been a line of demarcation on the score of rank, but authorities are not agreed as to how it was drawn. Some accounts represent the mother as having, in her dignified and luxurious fashion, a table apart; others say that she and her husband were at one table, and the workmen with the two younger children at the other.[30](8 ¶ 45)

The latest recorded incident of his career in Scotland is his being defeated in his attempt to become minister of the pleasant parish of Craig, a long narrow strip of uplands lying on the coast between Montrose and the Bay of Lunan. Mill could have taken care of such a parish, and yet have found time for his favourite studies, working his way to authorship, and perhaps a chair in a university. The patronage was in the hands of the Divinity professors of St. Andrews, who might be expected to favour one of their own pupils; but in this case the contest turned upon other considerations. Mill was said to rely on Lady Jane Stuart, whose family, all-powerful in Fifeshire, might have influenec with the St. Andrews professors. On the other hand the Rossie family (chief in the parish itself) preferred James Brewster, the brother of Sir David.(8 ¶ 46)

As the vacancy did not take place till June 1803 (by the resignation of the minister), more than a year after Mill left Scotland, the contest must have taken place in anticipation, and must have been virtually decided against him. It is said that the disappointment was the immediate cause of his going to London; a mere guess. Brewster was a man far more acceptable to an ordinary congregation than ever Mill could have been. With his friends, however, he would soon have found a parish. One third of the parishes were in the gift of the Crown, and Sir John Stuart's influence would have been enough to secure one for him.(8 ¶ 47)

A. Bain.

(To be continued.)

8 n. 1. Before the cottage was pulled down, some twenty years ago, a photograph was taken, which preserves its appearance.

8 n. 2. In 1840 Mr. Barclay wrote to John Stuart Mill, intimating that a property in Kirriemuir seemed to fall to him as his grandmother's heir; which may be taken as conclusive proof that she was a Kirriemuir Fenton. If we had the papers drawn up on this occasion, we should doubtless have her exact connections. Mill's reception of the news was characteristic. He would not take advantage of any mere informality in a will; but if there were a case, he would take any steps that might be necessary to secure the property for his paternal aunt's family, the Greigs. They took advice in the matter, but found that the genealogy was not, in their opinion, so fully made out as to justify them in risking a suit.

By desire of Lady Airlie, the minister of Lintrathen, Mr. Chree, furnished mewith an account of the best known families of the name of Fenton in the Airlie district. One family possessed formerly a considerable property in Forfarshire. An anecdote, illustrative of Scottish life and character in the last century, is given by Mr. Chree, relating to a Fenton, tenant of Balintore, in Lintrathen: he was ejected by his landlord, at the instigation of the Earl of Airlie, for violently opposing the settlement of a former minister of Lintrathen.

8 n. 3. It is necessary to know a small portion of the family history of Sir John Stuart. The following particulars will suffice. He was a descendant of the great Stuart family. His mother Emilia Stuart, in 1752, married her cousin William Belsches, the heir of Belsches, of Tofts, in Perthshire. Her husband died the year after, leaving an infant son John Belsches. This son she educated for the Edinburgh bar. In 1775, when he was 22, he married Lady Jane Leslie, eldest daughter of the Earl of Leven and Melville. Two years after happened the event that lifted him to fortune. His mother, on the death of her uncle Sir William Stuart, in 1777, became heir to her grandfather Daniel Stuart, who was a man of wealth, but not seemingly in land. No estate is mentioned as transmitted; but in the same year was purchased by her the estate of Fettercairn, which had descended for generations in the family of the Earl of Middleton. An ancestor of Emilia Stuart Belsches had served in the army under William III., and in 1706 received a baronetcy; this title was now inherited by John Belsches. He was now Sir John Belsches, of Fettercairn, and his wife, Lady Jane Belsches. They had an only child, a daughter Wilhelmina, born in October 1776. In 1797, Mrs. Belsches, the mother of Sir John, executed a settlement enforcing upon her son the name of his great-grand father Daniel Stuart, and he was henceforth Sir John Stuart, of Fettercairn, whence we have the name John Stuart Mill.

Sir John was elected member for Kincardineshire, in the Union Parliament, 1801; an occurrence that had an important bearing on James Mill's fortunes. He continued to serve in Parliament till 1807, when he was made a Baron of Exchequer, a promotion conferred for being a good adherent to his party. It was an honourable appointment (with a salary of £2000 a year), but the duties were light in comparison to those of a Lord of Session; and although Sir John studied for the bar, he could scarcely have ever practised. He held the office till his death in 1821.

It is not easy to find out what sort of man Sir John Stuart was. Few people can give any account of him. He was not even honoured with a newspaper paragraph on his death. The popular tradition of the neighbourhood makes him out haughty and ill-tempered. Lady Jane was revered for every virtue. Sir John's steady attachment to James Mill seems his chief title to honourable remembrance.

8 n. 4. The following extract from John Stuart Mill's letter to Mr. David Barclay shows the ignorance of the family as to their father's early history:--

The chief points are the time and place of his birth; who and what his parents were, and anything interesting that there may be to state about them: what places of education he went to: for what professions he was educated. I believe he went through a medical course, and also that for the Church, and I have heard that he was actually licensed as a preacher, but I never heard him say so himself, and never heard of it till after his death. I do not know whether it is true or not; perhaps you do. How long did he remain at the University, or prosecute his studies for the Church? The history of his connection with the late Sir John Stuart.

8 n. 5. The late Professor Cruickshank, of Marischal College, had heard his colleague, Dr. Glennie, state that he remembered a discussion taking place in the General Assembly on the question whether students going into the ministry should be made to attend Mathematics. The smallness in the attendance in the Edinburgh Mathematical classes renders it very probable that students for the Church could dispense with the subject, the numbers being less than half of those attending Latin and Greek.

8 n. 6. The biography of John Leyden, Mill's contemporary and class-fellow, is of some use here. Leyden entered, in 1790, the Senior Latin and Greek classes, and, although his biographer does not say so, the college record shows that he attended Senior Greek with Mill, and Junior Greek also. In 1791 he took Logic (with Mill, of course), Mathematics, and Classics again. His third session he devoted to Moral Philosophy, Rhetoric, Natural Philosophy, and Natural History; thus, like Mill, finishing the Arts' course in three years. With this information we may fairly say that Divinity students found three years enough.

As to the Logic class, Leyden's biographer seems to believe that Professor Finlayson recognised the native energy of thought and the assiduity of Leyden, and not only bestowed on him particular notice, but found employment for him in the preparing of other students, and acting as his own amanuensis. I take this to mean that Leyden assisted him in reading class exercises; a proof that Finlayson did not prelect merely (like Stewart and Robison), but gave the students work to do. That Leyden should have risen to the leading position in the Logic class of that year shows that James Mill, in those days, was disposed to hide his light under a bushel: an explanation is obviously wanted. The Logic class of the year following contained Thomas Brown, thus treading on the heels of Mill, and we are quite prepared for the statement (given in Brown's Life) that Finlayson's approbation was decidedly expressed.

Mill might have followed Leyden's example, and taken Rhetoric in his third year, or even Natural History. I cannot account for John Stuart Mill's supposition that he may have studied in the Medical classes. Perhaps, in conjunction with Thomas Thomson, he may have attended the lectures of Black, who drew students from all parts.

8 n. 7. Brougham's flighty biography shows that he attended Playfair in 1792–3, Mill's third year.

8 n. 8. Constable's description of Hill's book shop, in Parliament Close, where he and Wallace were fellow-shopmen, and which was frequented by the professors and clergy (Burns came there when in Edinburgh), can be used as a help in our imagination of James Mill's Edinburgh life. Most probably he here became acquainted with Wallace; and, at all events, their intimacy would bring him here. Wallace was an admirable mathematician, but was neither a metaphysician nor a sceptic. James Mill's sociability was much wider than his tastes and opinions.

8 n. 9. I cannot account for John Stuart Mill's uncertainty as to whether his father had been licensed to preach. I have been told by members of the family that their father's sermons were known to be in the house. What became of them no one can tell.

8 n. 10. I gather from Lockhart's Life of Scott, that Sir John and Lady Jane Stuart lived for a long time secluded (that is, in their country house), but that several years before 1797 they resided in Edinburgh part of the year; no doubt to educate and bring out their daughter. Mill would thus be very much with them both in summer and winter during his first college years. He was therefore not a dependent upon their mere bounty.

8 n. 11. I was somewhat pained to hear an intelligent old man, a relation, and the son of a journeyman, of James Mill, speak very strongly of his wife's luxurious as well as slovenly habits. On the other hand, the husband, in his rigid piety and simplicity, may have been unreasonably stingy. He regularly fasted on Sunday till he returned from church. It is not likely that the less strict members of the household would breakfast very sumptuously on Sunday mornings. He had an incontinent habit of whistling in a low sough, while at his work; and the neighbours remarked that he was never known to give way to it on the Sabbath day. He was very strict in all observances of a religious nature; but as regards the discipline of the children, he and his wife were (in their eldest son's judgment) blamably lax.

In the dearth of characteristic illustrations of Mill in his home relations, the following anecdote may be excused. One day his sister coming to serve his dinner, found him inclining his little table to his lap. She exclaims, Hoo can the things sit there? He replies, If they winna sit, try if they'll stan'. It may be going too far to interpret this as showing his early resolution to conquer Scotticisms, which he carried out in after-life with admitted success.