All this implies that … the so-called classical liberals, who nowadays call themselves neo-liberals or libertarians, claim Mill’s ideas and contend they follow in his footsteps. The Dutch historian Cor Hermans modifies this image thoroughly in his highly readable book Een Engelsman in Frankrijk …. In it he doesn’t deny that the famous philosopher played an important role in the history of European liberalism, but he demonstrates … that [Mill] was also influenced, and substantially so, by the Romantic Movement, socialism, and positivism.
Mr Hermans not only demonstrates that utilitarianism is much more interesting and wide ranging than is commonly assumed, he also shows that it is not justified to criticise Mill for being an ‘unsystematic’ thinker. (…) The Mill that Mr Hermans presents in his erudite and excellently written book made great demands on himself, such as ordinary mortals could never satisfy; however, he also was a very prolific and stimulating philosopher, who but little resembled the wooden Victorian schoolmaster looking down on us in photographs and paintings.