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465 pages, 5½" x 8½", introduction, footnotes, Key Issues series

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Contemporary Responses to John Stuart Mill

Pyle, Andrew, editor

Mill’s On Liberty has turned out to be, as he predicted, the most widely read and long-lasting of his writings. It has proved, however, extremely difficult to pin Mill down to any definite political doctrines. His contemporaries clearly had the same problems as have beset modern commentators. Some portray Mill as a dangerous revolutionary, a latter-day Jacobin; others see him as peddling mere platitudes. Was he aiming to preach Pyrrhonism, undermine the Church, and dissolve social bonds; or were his principles already informing the thought and practice of Victorian Britain?

This volume traces the reception of On Liberty in the periodical literature, from the “rave” review of Buckle in Fraser’s Magazine, by way of the furious denunciations in such Tory journals as Blackwood’s and the Quarterly, down to later liberals like John Morley and Leslie Stephen.