There is little doubt that the majority of Mr. Mill’s supporters in 1865 did not know what his political opinions were, and that they voted for him simply on his reputation as a great thinker.
What he has done for women is final: he gave to their service the best powers of his mind and the best years of his life. His death consecrates the gift: it can never lessen its value.
A large part of the present anxiety to improve the education of girls and women is also due to the conviction that the political disabilities of women will not be maintained.
If, however, the success of a politician is to be measured by the degree in which he is able personally to influence the course of politics, and attach to himself a school of political thought, then Mr. Mill, in the best meaning of the words, has succeeded.
Just as radical heirs apparent are said to lay aside all inconvenient revolutionary opinions when they come to the throne, it was believed that Mr. Mill in Parliament would be an entirely different person from Mr. Mill in his study.
The first organised opposition by women to women’s suffrage in England dates from 1889, when a number of ladies led by Mrs Ward appealed against the proposed extension of the Parliamentary suffrage to women.
The assertion of failure coming from such persons does not mean that Mr. Mill failed to promote the practical success of those objects the advocacy of which forms the chief feature of his political writings.
It is almost impossible to imagine that any one could be so insensible to the high morality of Mr. Mill’s character as to suggest to him any course of conduct that was not entirely upright and consistent.
What is true of Mr. Mill’s influence on the women’s-suffrage question is true also of the other political movements in which he took an active interest.