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John Stuart Mill thinks Emerson is a man-baby


First off, if you don't know, John Stuart Mill was an English philosopher/economist/hilarious person of the Victorian Age. We're pissed at him because he liked Utilitarianism, which was a dumb movement, but I don't even care anymore, because this article makes him the best.

As his obituary in The Times observed, Mill was a candid controversialist, but he was ‘too amiable to indulge in scorching sarcasm or inflict unnecessary pain’. In his spontaneous marginalia, however, Mill was free to indulge his private opinions without fear of causing offence.


"Sentimental Essays in the Art of Intimately blending Sense and Nonsense"
ZING, Mill

This is basically the equivalent of taking a book like The Secret and scrawling "The Secret (to Being Dumb)" on the title page.

This article contains gems like:

Mill took exception to Emerson’s poetry, which he often crossed out.

And later in the essay where Emerson wrote that ‘every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins’, Mill jotted: ‘Speak for yourself.’

 For one poem, "Mill reached for his pencil and wrote: ‘pretensious [sic] emptyness’.

And my favorite:

The concluding paragraph aroused Mill’s scorn, for he scribbled ‘pooh’ twice in the margins.

I want Mill to write marginalia in all Victorian lit. Like there's some big tortured paragraph in Wuthering Heights (which could really be anywhere in that book) and next to it he just writes "pooh." YOU JUST GOT SERVED BY JOHN STUART MILL.

The essayists of the Victorian Age are a bit neglected nowadays. That's true of essayists from almost any period other than the current one, but THEY'RE the people talking about the ideas the authors would then take and run with. If we're being responsible Victorian lit readers, we should be reading Ruskin, Carlyle, Mill and...other people whose names I don't know. The only thing I remember about Ruskin from college is he said the Gothic was an excellent aesthetic because man shouldn't strive to be perfect because only God is perfect. Or something. So our architecture should reflect that. IT'S POSSIBLE I AM MISREMEMBERING I WAS 18 YEARS OLD.

More snarky commentary from Victorians, please. Especially about Transcendentalists, because they are nincompoops.


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