"THE GREATEST GOOD OF THE COMMUNITY IS INSEPARABLE FROM THE LIBERTY OF THE INDIVIDUAL": FIRST EDITION OF JOHN STUART MILL'S CLASSIC ON LIBERTY, 1859, PRESENTATION COPY TO THE WRITER THOMAS CARLYLE, WITH CARLYLE'S OWNERSHIP SIGNATURE DATED THE YEAR OF PUBLICATION
MILL, John Stuart. On Liberty. London: John W. Parker and Son, 1859. Octavo, contemporary full tan calf, raised bands, red morocco spine label, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, top edge gilt. $22,500.
First edition of Mill's most famous work—"the final stage in the growth of Utilitarian doctrine… His arguments for freedom of every kind of thought or speech have never been improved on" (PMM), presentation copy, with "From the author" inscribed in a secretarial hand on the title page, with Thomas Carlyle's ownership signature, dated "Chelsea, 1859" in the year of publication.
"Mill realized that the 'greatest good' of the community is inseparable from the liberty of the individual. Hitherto, liberty had always been considered relative, in relation to tyranny or oppression: Mill extended tyranny to include a custom-ridden majority, and declared that 'the sole end for which mankind is justified in interfering with liberty of action is self-protection… Many of Mill's ideas are now the commonplaces of democracy. His arguments for freedom of every kind of thought or speech have never been improved on. He was the first to recognize the tendency of a democratically elected majority to tyrannize over a minority… Mill's On Liberty remains his most widely read book. It represents the final stage in the growth of Utilitarian doctrine" (PMM 345). "On Liberty is regarded as one of the finest expressions of 19th-century liberalism" (Baugh, 1323). With four-page publisher's catalog bound in at rear. Occasional mispagination as issued without loss of text. With the ownership signature of writer Thomas Carlyle on the title page. Carlyle and Mill quickly became close friends when Carlyle moved to London in 1834; Mill was even the source for the idea that Carlyle write his influential work The French Revolution: A History. Famously, once Carlyle finished the work, he gave the only draft of the manuscript to Mill, only to have Mill's maid burn the manuscript after it was left out unattended, thinking it scrap paper. Their friendship survived the debacle, and indeed, after Carlyle rewrote the work and it was finally published, Mill's later glowing review of it in the London and Westminster Review helped ensure its success. The friendship grew cool over the ensuing years, however, due partly to the wildly different political views of the two men, but also because of Carlyle's disapproval of Mill's 1851 marriage to Harriet Taylor, whom Carlyle disliked. By the time On Liberty was published, the two men were at best infrequent correspondents. Early dealer description laid in.
Interior fine, expert repairs to joints and corners of attractive contemporary calf. A presentation copy with an extraordinary provenance.