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certain tameness in style, and prolixity in topographical relation, appear to fit upon him a little more naturally. Through some chapters of his book, not much more is to be learnt, than that he went up a hill in this place, and down it in that ; that the first part of the road is woody, and the second is not woody. Here there is a large pond, and there a fmall pond ; and, in a thire place, no pond at all. The most valuable topics are all difcussed in a few separate chapters; so that the plums and sweetmeats are all crowded into a small space, and the larger portion left insipidly plain. Pallas, however, is not of that description of travellers, who profess to amuse by anecdotes about waiters and chambermaids : his object is to make the world minutely and thoroughly acquainted with the country which he is sent to explore. If he is dry, he is perspicuous and accurate ; if he is unamusing, he is authentic ; and, long after many witty pamphlets. called books of travels, have perished, the works of Pallas will be ftudied as genuine and valuable descriptions of the countries through which he has passed.
Chire place, no ponlarge pond, only, and the recit in
Art. XIII. An Hißorical View of the English Government, from the
Settlement of the Saxons in Britain, to the Revolution in 1688. To which are subjoined, some Differtations connected with the History of the Government, from the Revolution to the present time. BÝ toho Millar Elg. Professor at Law in the University of Glasgow. Four Votumes 8vo. London. Mawinan. 1803. .
This is a pofthumous publication, and does not complete the
plan that was announced by the author in his lifetime. According to that plan, the history of the English government was to have been brought down, in the concluding part, from the Revolution to the present times. The manuscript of this portion of the work, however, we are informed by the present editor. was not left in such a finished and correct state as to be laid en: tire before the public. The Historical View, therefore, is only brought down to the Revolution in 1688; and a selection from the materials for the subsequent period is given in the form of separate dissertations. The two first volumes contain that portion of the work which was formerly published in 1786, including the history of the government previous to the accession of the house of Stuart; and the two latter the history and differta. tions that belong to the subsequent period.
The reputation of Professor Millar, we are inclined to think. stands somewhat higher with his pupils, and those who had the benefit of his acquaintance, than it is likely to do with those who may merely peruse his publications. The constant alacrity and vigour of his understanding, the clearness and familiarity of his illustrations, and the great variety of his arguments and topics of discussion, together with something unulually animated and impressive in his tones and expressions, gave an interest and a fpi. rit to his living language, that can scarcely be traced in his writ. ings. All that vivacity and facility of statement, all that dexterity of reply, and power of picturesque illustration, that delighted in convertation, and fascinated in his lectures, appear to have evaporated as soon as he took the pen into his hand. In his style and manuer of Speaking, there was something very characteristic and peculiar. The composition of his writings is of a very ordinary description. He writes indeed with great clearness and solidity; and is never for a moment either trifling, loquacious, or absurd ; but he is not often very captivating in his manner, and makes us feel the weight of his matter rather too fenfibly in his style : it is a style, in short, that is somewhat heavy, cold, and inele. gant; and his works, though abounding in good sepse and forcible expression, are apt to fatigue the reader, from the want of that variety and relief, of which his fpoken language afforded fo eminent an example.
The style of conversation, indeed, in which most of liis lectures were delivered, is not very easily adapted to the purposes of publication. The great merit, and the great charm of this style confift in its varying and judicious adaptation to the taste and fituation of the hearers, and in the facility and animation with which every thing is communicated and explained. In addressing the public and posterity, however, no adaptation of this kind can take place : a greater reserve must be assumed : our positions muft be fortified with greater care, and our conclusions enforced with more authority. In the deliberation and anxiety that neceffarily accompany these operations, the spirit of our first conceptions, and the colouring of our original language, are apt to fly off: We are afraid to commit our dignity among ftrangers, by the use of a familiar or a ludicrous expreflion : We put our ideas into a dress of ceremony, and feel the oppreilion and constraint of it the more, for having been accustomed to the ease and the lightness of a less cumbrous drapery.
But though, for these, and for other reasons, the written style of Mr Millar be certainly inferior in force and effect to his conversation, the character of his genius is very clearly imprinted upon both : and though it must go down to pofterity with some disadvantage, from his contempt or unskilfulness in the art of composition, his writings will long continue, we have no doubt, to command the respect and admiration of his readers.
The distinguishing feature of Mr Millar's intellect was, the great clearness and accuracy of his apprehension, and the, singular sa
gacity gacity with which he seized upon the true statement of a queition, and disentangled the point in dispute from the mass of fophisticated argument in which it was frequently involved. His great delight was to simplify an intricate question, and to reduce a perplexed and elaborate system of argument to a few plain problems of common sense. Though an expert dialectician himself, and ready enough to acknowledge the merit of any ingenious paradox that he had occafion to expose, he had but little indulgence for those more diffuse and imposing pieces of false reasoning that rest on the prejudices of mankind, or are produced by the weakness and wavering of the author's own under. standing. As there was no man, indeed, that ever made less parade of his own intellectual achievements, there have been few less disposed to tolerate the learned vanity of others. To form a sound judgment upon all points of substantial importance, appeared to him to require little more than the free and independent use of that vulgar fenfe on which no man is entitled to value himself; and he was apt to look with sufficient contempt upon the elaborate and ingenious errors into which philosophers are so liable to reason themselves. To bring down the dignity of such false science, and to expose the emptiness of ostentatious and pedantic reasoners, was therefore one of his favourite employments. He had, indeed, no prejudices of veneration in his nature; and was apt to regard those minute inquiries in which many great scholars have consumed their days, as a species of most unprofitable trifling. Mere learning did not appear to him to deserve any extraordinary respect; and his veneration was reserved for those who had either made discoveries of practical utility, or combined into a system the scattered truths of speculation. • To some of our readers, perhaps, it may afford a clearer conception of his intellectual character, to say, that it corresponded pretty nearly with the abstract idea that the learned of England entertain of a Scotish philosopher ; a personage, that is, with little or no deference to the authority of great names, and not very apt to be startled at conclusions that seem to run counter to received opinions or existing institutions ; acute, sagacious, and systematical ; irreverent towards classical literature; rather indefatigable in argument, than patient in investigation ; vigilant in the observation of facts, but not so strong in their number, as skilful in their application.
There is one attribute of a philosopher, however, which Mr Millar must have been allowed in all countries to pofless in great perfection. He wondered at nothing; and has done more to repress the ignorant admiration of others than most of his contem. poraries. It was the leading principle, indeed, of all his fpecu-' lations on law, morality, government, language, the arts, sciences, and manners--that there was nothing produced by arbitrary or accidental causes ; that no great change, inftitution, custom, or occurrence, could be ascribed to the character or exertions of an individual, to the temperament or disposition of a nation, to occafional policy, or peculiar wisdom or folly : every thing, on the contrary, he held, arose spontaneously from the situation of the society, and was suggested or imposed irresistibly by the opportunities or necessities of their condition. Instead of gazing, therefore, with stupid amazement, on the fingular and diversified appearances of human manners and inftitutions, Mr Millar taught his pupils to refer them all to one fimple principle, and to consider them as necessary links in the great chain which connects civilized with barbarous fociety. By the use of this master principle, he reconciled many of the paradoxes of history and tradition, explained much of what appeared to be unaccountable, and connected events and circumstances that seemed to be incapable of combination. While the antiquary pored with childish curioîty over the confused and fantastic ruins that cover the scenes of early story, he produced the plan and elevation of the original fabric, and enabled us to trace the connexions of the scattered fragments, and to determine the primitive form and denomination of all the disfigured maties that lay before us.
But though it is impoffible not to be delighted with the ingenuity and happiness of the combinations by which these explanations are made out, and though it would be absurd, after what has been done, to call in question the foundness of the philofophy in which the principle is founded; it must not be difsembled, that Mr Miilar's confidence in its infallibility was greater than could always be justified. As his object was to obtain great clearness and simplicity in his theory, he was apt, when fatisfied, upon the whoie, of its truth, to pass somewhat haftily over all that could not be eatily reconciled to it. His greatest adınirers must admit, that he has sometimes cut the knot which he could not untie, and disregarded difficulties which he was not prepared to overcome; that he has afferted, where he ought to have proved ; advanced a conjecture for a certainty ; and given the signal of triumph, when the victory might be confidered as doubtful.
As his habits and dispolitivos led him chiefly to the exertion of his intellectual and argumentative faculties, he had made no great proficiency in the finer or more elegint departments of lic terature. His imagination, though extrem<ly active and vigorous in the coinage of illustrations and topics of persuasion, was not very easily excited by the more exquisite and delicate beauties
them may therefore be allowed to form no improper introduction to an account of that publication, we should scarcely have indulged ourselves in so full a description of them, if it had not been to supply a defect that occurred to us, on first taking up the volumes in question. Though this work is now published by Mr Millar's representatives at a considerable interval after his death, it contains no biographical account of the author, nor any attempt to delineate the general character of his genius or public cations. To the greater part of writers, it would certainly be doing no fort of injury to withhold from the public every thing but what they had themselves laid before it: but wherever the living character is really superior to the writings that remain to illustrate it, we cannot help feeling it as a fort of duty to erect some memorial, however frail, to its merits; and to endeavour, at least, to supply some of the deficiencies that may be found in that picture of himself, which every author exhibits in his works. -We now proceed to make a few observations on the volumes before us.
It is only the latter half of this publication, as we have already remarked, that is new; but, in order to judge of its execution, we must state very shortly the scheme and order of the whole work. It was Mr Millar's design to exhibit an historical view of the English government from the earliest periods of its independent existence, down to the present times. This subject he has divided into three parts. The firit, comprehends the hiitory of the form of government that prevailed, from the establishment of the Saxons, down to the time of the Norman conqueft. During this period, the scattered tribes and families of barbarians seem to have gradually arranged themselves under the protection of a few great leaders; and the government came gradually to be administered by a great feudal arisiocracy. The second period extends from the conquest to the accession of the house of Stuart, and is diftin. guished by the struggles that took place between the Nobles and the Sovereign, and the gradual predominancy of the latter, in confequence of the divisions that took place among the aristocracy, and the authority that was acquired by a common leader, after the nation began to engage in more extensive enterprises. In this period, therefore, Mr Millar considers the government to have attained the condition of a feudal monarchy. About the period of the accefsion of James the First, a still more important change had begun to take place in the constitution of society; the introduction of arts and manufactures had made the internal aspect of the country pacific, and had not only engaged the retainers of the great lands in new employments, but had appropriated to other purposes the revenues from which they were originally maintained.