Autobiography HTML version

[1]In a subsequent stage of boyhood, when these exercises had ceased to be compulsory,
like most youthful writers I wrote tragedies; under the inspiration not so much of
Shakspeare as of Joanna Baillie, whose Constantine Paleologus in particular appeared to
me one of the most glorious of human compositions. I still think it one of the best dramas
of the last two centuries.
[2] The continuation of this article in the second number of the Review was written by me
under my father's eye, and (except as practice in composition, in which respect it was, to
me, more useful than anything else I ever wrote) was of little or no value.
[3] Written about 1861.
[4] The steps in my mental growth for which I was indebted to her were far from being
those which a person wholly uninformed on the subject would probably suspect. It might
be supposed, for instance, that my strong convictions on the complete equality in all
legal, political, social, and domestic relations, which ought to exist between men and
women, may have been adopted or learnt from her. This was so far from being the fact,
that those convictions were among the earliest results of the application of my mind to
political subjects, and the strength with which I held them was, as I believe, more than
anything else, the originating cause of the interest she felt in me. What is true is that, until
I knew her, the opinion was in my mind little more than an abstract principle. I saw no
more reason why women should be held in legal subjection to other people, than why
men should. I was certain that their interests required fully as much protection as those of
men, and were quite as little likely to obtain it without an equal voice in making the laws
by which they were bound. But that perception of the vast practical bearings of women's
disabilities which found expression in the book on the Subjection of Women was acquired
mainly through her teaching. But for her rare knowledge of human nature and
comprehension of moral and social influences, though I should doubtless have held my
present opinions, I should have had a very insufficient perception of the mode in which
the consequences of the inferior position of women intertwine themselves with all the
evils of existing society and with all the difficulties of human improvement. I am indeed
painfully conscious of how much of her best thoughts on the subject I have failed to
reproduce, and how greatly that little treatise falls short of what it would have been if she
had put on paper her entire mind on this question, or had lived to revise and improve, as
she certainly would have done, my imperfect statement of the case.
[5] The only person from whom I received any direct assistence in the preparation of the
System of Logic was Mr. Bain, since so justly celebrated for his philosophical writings.
He went carefully through the manuscript before it was sent to the press, and enriched it
with a great number of additional examples and illustrations from science; many of
which, as well as some detached remarks of his own in confirmation of my logical views,
I inserted nearly in his own words.