Mr. Prochaska, a member of the Oxford History Faculty, has written in in some haste to alert us to one of the University's little-known treasures: the personal library of John Stuart Mill, which his step-daughter Miss Taylor presented to Somerville College in 1905, and in particular to Mill's many marginal notes that are to be found therein.
Mill (an atheist and Bertrand Russell's god-father) was more critical and caustic in his comments than his father James (whose notes may also be inspected in places). On Ralph Emerson's Essays, for example, the younger Mill's annotations would have made uncomfortable reading for the author had he ever seen them: "fudge!" cried Mill; "nonsense!" "pooh!" "sentimental!" "superficial!" "stupid!" "very stupid!" "trash!" On the first page of the essay "Love" Mill wrote: "Nature's trick to keep the world filled." And on the essay "Friendship" he jotted: "Reality is so much higher & better than 'sacred and solemn.' When will people dare to give up the old religious nomenclature?" Evidently, reflects Mr. Prochaska, the writings of a dreamy transcendentalist were never likely to find favour with an austere empiricist like Mill.
Would the Membership agree with jolly old John Stuart Mill that Love is a trick of Nature? Or is it perhaps more that Nature is a trick of Love?