Autograph letter signed to Pastor Louis Rey of Avignon. Blackheath Park, August 13th 1865
Octavo, 17 x 10.8cm, 3 pages in French in ink, discreet repairs to fold.
Newly discovered letter from John Stuart Mill to Pastor Louis Rey in Avignon, asking for an introduction to MM Dollfus [presumably Jean Dollfus 1800-1887, cotton manufacturer] in Mulhouse to see the work that the philanthropic factory owners had done for the benefit of their workers. In Mulhouse, industrial paternalism took the form of efforts to build housing for workers, known as cites ouvrières, to offer educational opportunities, to organise health services, to administer a variety of pension plans, insurance programmes and savings accounts, and to organise leisure-time activities.
In 1866 at a meeting in Mulhouse, Frederick Engel-Dollfus explained the rational behind Mulhousian industrialists’ adoption of paternalist projects in 1866; “The manufacturer owes something more to his workers than a salary; it is equally his obligation to concern himself with their moral and physical condition, and this obligation, which no type of salary can replace, must take precedence over considerations of private interest”.
Mill visited Germany in September 1865 but it is not known whether he went to Mulhouse to see the industrial paternalism in action, though it was unquestionably of great interest to him.
Pastor Louis Rey [circa 1837-1936] was pastor of the local Protestant church at Saint Vèran, Avignon where John Stuart Mill had bought a house near to where his wife Harriet was buried.
“There was the young Protestant Pastor, Louis Rey, on whose keen and liberal Gallic mind the contradictory features of Mill’s character continued to exert a consuming fascination, to the end of his long life of ninety-nine years. After Mill’s death he helped Helen [Taylor, JSM’s step-daugher] with her legal affairs, and when she left Avignon, he undertook a Power of Attorney for the sale of her house and property. Later, he made two splendid addresses, just before and just after the first world war, in favour of Mill’s statue being erected in the Place Crillon facing the Hôtel de l’Europe” Packe.
Louis Rey was present at Mill’s death at Saint Vèran in May 1873, and made a short address at his burial. He was the author of two works on Mill; Le Roman de John Stuart Mill. Paris 1913 and John Stuart Mill en Avignon. Vaison 1921
Mineka records only one short letter to Pastor Rey in 1862 in which Mill sends a contribution to the church funds. Our letter here is unpublished.
Centenaire de la Société Industrielle de Mulhouse,1826-1926, 2 vols, vol,1,p.97. Jonas, Heckner & Knorr, La enc de Mulhouse: Un modèle d’habitat économique et social du dix-neuvième encil. Strasbourg 1981. For a description of Jean Dollfus, see Matilda Betham-Edwards, In the heart of the Vosges, 1911, pp.24-25. Packe,The Life of John Stuart Mill, pp.485-486, 508. See Mineka, The Later Letters of John Stuart Mill, letter no.530 Jan 26th 1862 J S Mill to Louis Rey. For two letters from Louis Rey to J S Mill in the Mill/Taylor Papers, vol 2, nos 264, 269, letters dated April 13th and 22nd 1873.