In the section of gardens at the foot of Temple Steps are several statues, tucked in amongst the shrubs and trees. Here I found another striking Victorian bronze, that of John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), philosopher, political economist and Civil Servant. He was the Liberal MP for the City and Westminster between 1865 and 1868.
The sculptor of this statue was Thomas Woolner RA, an English sculptor and poet who was one of the founder-members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He was the only sculptor among the original members.This statue was probably the last of these great Victorian statues to be erected in the gardens in 1878, five years after Mill’s death.
John Stuart Mill was known for expounding and developing both utilitarian ethics and classical economic theory. He was an advocate of free speech and strongly opposed censorship. He believed that free discourse between people was a necessary for both intellectual and social progress. In addition, he also believed that an individual should be free to do as he wishes unless his actions harm others and that the Government should only interfere when it is for the protection of society. He also felt that a ruler’s power needed to have limits in order to ensure that it was not used for his own benefit that could perhaps harm society.In 1866, Mill became the first person in the history of Parliament to call for women to be given the right to vote, vigorously defending this position in subsequent debate. He advocated such social reforms as labour unions and farm cooperatives and called for Parliamentary reform, especially concerning proportional representation, the extension of suffrage and the single transferable vote. Mill was godfather to another great philosopher, Bertrand Russell.