- A Note On the Text
- Abbreviations Used In the Notes
- An Historical View of the English Government
- To the Right Honourable Charles James Fox. 1
- Book I: Of the English Government, From the Settlement of the Saxons In Britain to the Reign of William the Conqueror.
- Chapter I: Preliminary Account of the State of Britain Under the Dominion of the Romans.
- Chapter II: Character and Manners of the Saxons.
- Chapter III: Settlement of the Saxons In Britain.
- Chapter IV: Similarity In the Situation of the Anglo-saxons, and of the Other Barbarians Who Settled In the Provinces of the Western Empire.—how Far the State of All Those Nations Differed From That of Every Other People, Ancient Or Modern.
- Chapter V: The State of Property, and the Different Ranks and Orders of Men, Produced By the Settlement of the Saxons In Britain.
- Section I: Of the Chief Regulations Attending the Establishment of Christianity In the Roman Empire, and In the Modern Kingdoms of Europe.
- Section II: The Establishment of Christianity In Britain, Under the Roman Dominion, and In the Early Government of the Anglo-saxons.
- Chapter VI: Institution of Tythings, Hundreds, and Counties.
- Chapter VII: Of the Wittenagemote.
- Chapter VIII: State of the Sovereign In the Primitive Anglo-saxon Government.
- Chapter IX: Of the Principal Events From the Reign of Egbert to the Norman Conquest.
- Chapter X: Variations In the State of Tythings, Hundreds, and Shires. 1
- Chapter XI: Changes Produced In the Condition of the Vassals, and of the Peasants.
- Chapter XII: The Influence of These Changes Upon the Jurisdiction and Authority of the Feudal Lords.
- Chapter XIII: Of Ecclesiastical Courts.
- Chapter XIV: Alterations In the State of the Wittenagemote.
- Book II: Of the English Government From the Reign of William the Conqueror, to the Accession of the House of Stewart.
- Chapter I: The Norman Conquest.—progress of the Feudal System.—view of the Several Reigns Before That of Edward I.—THE Great Charter, and Charter of the Forest.
- Chapter II: In What Manner the Changes Produced In the Reign of William the Conqueror Affected the State of the National Council.
- Chapter III: Of the Ordinary Courts of Justice After the Norman Conquest.
- Chapter IV: Progress of Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Authority.
- Chapter V: General View of the Kingly Power, From the Reign of Edward I. To That of Henry VII.
- Chapter VI: History of the Parliament In the Same Period.
- Section I: The Introduction of the Representatives of Counties and Boroughs Into Parliament.
- Section II: The Division of Parliament Into Two Houses, and the Peculiar Privileges Acquired By Each House.
- Section III: Concerning the Manner of Electing the National Representatives, and the Forms of Procedure In Parliament.
- Chapter VII: Alterations In the State of the Ordinary Courts of Justice.
- Section I: Establishment of the Courts of Common Law, At Westminster.
- Section II: Of the Petty Jury—and the Grand Jury.
- Section III: Circumstances Which Prevented the Civil Law From Being So Much Incorporated In the System of English Jurisprudence, As In That of Other European Countries.
- Section IV: The Rise of the Court of Chancery.
- Chapter VIII: Of the Circumstances Which Promoted Commerce, Manufactures, and the Arts, In Modern Europe, and Particularly In England.
- Chapter IX: Of Henry the Seventh.—circumstances Which, In His Reign, Contributed to the Exaltation of the Crown.—review of the Government of This Period.
- Chapter X: Of Henry the Eighth.—the Reformation.—its Causes.—the Effects of It Upon the Influence of the Crown.
- Chapter XI: Of Edward the Sixth—mary—and Elizabeth.—general Review of the Government.—conclusion of the Period From the Norman Conquest to the Accession of the House of Stewart.
- Conclusion of the Period, From the Norman Conquest.
- Volume Iii
- Book I: Of the English Government, From the Accession of James the First, to the Reign of William the Third.
- Chapter I: Review of the Government of Scotland.
- Section I: Of the Government of Scotland, From the Time When Britain Was Abandoned By the Romans, to the Reign of Malcolm the Second.
- Section II: Of the Government of Scotland, From the Reign of Malcolm the Second, to the Union of Its Crown With That of England.
- Section III: Of the Government of Scotland, From the Union of the Scottish and English Crowns, to That of the Two Kingdoms.
- Chapter II: Changes In the Political State of England From the Accession of the House of Stuart—the Advancement of Commerce and Manufactures—institutions For National Defence—different Effect of These In Britain, and Upon the Neighbouring Continent.
- Chapter III: In What Manner the Political System Was Affected By the State of Religious Opinions.
- Chapter IV: Progress of the Disputes Between the King and Parliament, During the Reigns of James the First, and of Charles the First.
- Section I: The Reign of James the First; and That of Charles the First, From His Accession to the Meeting of the Long Parliament.
- Section II: Of the Reign of Charles the First, From the Meeting of the Long Parliament to the Commencement of the Civil War.
- Section III: Of the Reign of Charles the First, From the Commencement of the Civil War to His Death.
- Chapter V: Of Oliver Cromwell, and the Protectorate.
- Chapter VI: Of the Reigns of Charles the Second, and James the Second.
- Chapter VII: Of the Revolution-settlement; and the Reign of William and Mary.
- Book II: Of the English Government From the Reign of William the Third to the Present Time.
- Chapter I: Review of the Government of Ireland.
- Chapter II: Political Consequences of the Revolution—subsequent Changes In the State of the Nation—influence of the Crown.
- Chapter III: The Advancement of Manufactures, Commerce, and the Arts, Since the Reign of William III.; And the Tendency of This Advancement to Diffuse a Spirit of Liberty and Independence.
- Chapter IV: How Far the Advancement of Commerce and Manufactures Has Contributed to the Extension and Diffusion of Knowledge and Literature.
- Chapter V: The Separation of the Different Branches of Knowledge; and the Division of the Liberal Arts and of the Sciences.
- Chapter VI: The Effects of Commerce and Manufactures, and of Opulence and Civilization, Upon the Morals of a People.
- Section I: Of Courage and Fortitude.
- Section II: Of Sobriety and Temperance.
- Section III: Of Justice and Generosity.
- Chapter VII: The Progress of Science Relative to Law and Government.
- Chapter VIII: The Gradual Advancement of the Fine Arts—their Influence Upon Government.
- Section I: Of Poetry; Or Those Compositions Which Are Primarily Calculated For Mere Entertainment.
- Part I: Of Epic Poetry; Or What Is Related By the Poet In His Own Person.
- Part II: Of Dramatic Poetry.
- Appendix 1: Authorities Cited In the Text and In Millar’s Notes
- Appendix 2: Main Historiographical Sources For Millar’s Narrative to 1688
AN HISTORICAL VIEW OF THE ENGLISH GOVERNMENT
SETTLEMENT OF THE SAXONS IN BRITAIN
THE REVOLUTION IN 1688.
To which are subjoined,
SOME DISSERTATIONS CONNECTED WITH THE
HISTORY OF THE GOVERNMENT,
From the Revolution to the Present Time.
BY JOHN MILLAR ESQ.
Professor of Law in the University of Glasgow
IN FOUR VOLUMES
printed for j. mawman, no 22 in the poultry.
By T. Gillet, Salisbury-Square
The Friends of Mr. Millar to whom he entrusted his Manuscripts, think they would be wanting in their duty, were they not to publish the following continuation of his Historical View of the English Government.
It was the intention of the Author, as will be seen in the following pages, to divide the history from the Accession of the House of Stewart, to the present time, into two periods: the first comprehending the history of those contests between Prerogative and Privilege, which, by the Revolution in 1688, terminated in a manner so honourable to the spirit of the nation, and so advantageous to the happiness and liberties of the people: the second containing the history of the rise and progress of the Influence of the Crown: an influence, which, though in some measure checked by the general diffusion of knowledge and the advancement of the arts, was likely, in the opinion of the Author, to become the more dangerous to the constitution, as its slow and insensible advances are less apt to excite attention.
Of these two parts of the general design, the<vi> first was left by the Author, in the state in which he apparently meant to give it to the public, and in which it now appears.—A great part of the materials for the history of the second period, as well as for an account of the present state of the English Government, had also been collected, and partly arranged by him: but considerable alterations on the manuscripts would be requisite, before these very important parts of the work could be offered to the public.
There were found, however, among Mr. Millar’s papers several dissertations on subjects connected with the later history of the Government, Manners, and Literature of England, the substance of which it would appear he had intended to introduce into his work; these dissertations seem to contain so many ingenious and interesting speculations, that it has been judged proper to make them public, notwithstanding the unfinished state of the concluding Essay.<vii>
14th March, 1803.
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE CHARLES JAMES FOX.
I shall, perhaps, be thought guilty of presumption, in wishing to draw your attention to the following publication. The truth is, it appears to me scarcely possible for any man to write a constitutional history of England, without having Mr. Fox almost constantly in his thoughts.
In delineating the progress of the English government, I have endeavoured to avoid those fond preposses-<viii>sions which Englishmen are apt to entertain upon the subject, as well as the prejudices peculiar to the two great parties, which the nature of our limited monarchy has produced. How far I have succeeded in this, must be left to the judgment of the public. But, whatever indulgence may be shewn to this work, the ambition of its author will not be gratified; unless he can procure in some degree, the approbation of a mind superior to prejudice; equally capable of speculation, and of active exertion; no less conversant in elegant literature, than accustomed to animate the great scenes of national business; possessed of the penetration to discover the genuine principles of the constitution, and of the virtue to make them an invariable rule of conduct.<ix><x>
Impressed with the highest esteem for such a character, permit me to declare the satisfaction I feel from your steady perseverance in a system, which, by tending to secure the natural rights of mankind, has led to a reputation the most exalted, and the most grateful to a generous mind.
I have the honour to be,
Your most obedient
4th Dec. 1786.<xi>
The great series of events in the history of England may be divided into three parts: the first, extending from the settlement of the Saxons in Britain to the Norman conquest; the second, from the reign of William the Conqueror to the accession of the house of Stewart; the third, from the reign of James the First to the present time. The important changes exhibited in the state of the country, and in the situation of its inhabitants, appear, like a sort of natural boundaries, to mark out these different periods, and to recommend them as objects of distinct and separate examination.
The first period contains the conquest of England by the northern barbarians, the division of the country under the different chiefs by whom that people were conducted, the subsequent union of those principalities under one sovereign, and the course of public transactions under the Saxon and Danish monarchs.
The reign of William the Conqueror, while<2> it put an end to the ancient line of kings, introduced into England a multitude of foreigners, who obtained extensive landed possessions, and spread with great rapidity the manners and customs of a nation more civilized and improved than the English. The inhabitants were thus excited to a quicker advancement in the common arts of life, at the same time that the nation, by acquiring continental connections, was involved in more extensive military operations.
By the union of the crowns of England and Scotland, upon the accession of the house of Stewart, the animosities and dissensions, with all their troublesome consequences, which had so long subsisted between the two countries, were effectually suppressed. By the improvement of manufactures, and the introduction of a considerable foreign trade, England began, in a short time, to establish her maritime power, and to assume a higher rank in the scale of Europe.
The same periods are also distinguished by remarkable variations in the form of government.
Upon the settlement of the Saxons in Bri-<3>tain, we behold a number of rude families or tribes feebly united together, and little accustomed either to subordination among themselves, or to the authority of a monarch. During the reigns of the Anglo-Saxon princes, we discover the effects produced by the gradual acquisition of property; in consequence of which some individuals were advanced to the possession of great estates, and others, who had been less fortunate, were obliged to shelter themselves under the protection of their more opulent neighbours. Political power, the usual attendant of property, was thus gradually accumulated in the hands of a few great leaders, or nobles; and the government became more and more aristocratical.
When the advances of the country in improvement had opened a wider intercourse, and produced a more intimate union, between the different parts of the kingdom, the accumulated property in the hands of the king became the source of greater influence than the divided property possessed by the nobles. The prerogatives of the former, in a course of time, were therefore gradually augmented; and the privileges of the latter suffered a pro-<4>portionable diminution. From the reign of William the Conqueror in England, we may date the first exaltation of the crown, which, under his successors of the Plantagenet and Tudor families, continued to rise in splendor and authority.
About the commencement of the reign of James the First, great alterations began to appear in the political state of the nation. Commerce and manufactures, by diffusing a spirit of liberty among the great body of the people, by changing the system of national defence, and by increasing the necessary expences of government, gave rise to those disputes, which, after various turns of fortune, were at last happily terminated by the establishment of a popular government.
With reference to that distribution of property, in the early part of our history, which goes under the name of the feudal system, the constitution established in the first of these periods, may be called the feudal aristocracy; that in the second, the feudal monarchy; and that which took place in the third, may be called the commercial government.
Similar periods to those which have now<5> been pointed out in the English history, may also be distinguished in the history of all those kingdoms on the continent of Europe, which were established upon the ruins of the Roman Empire, and in which the people have since become opulent and polished. Thus the reign of Hugh Capet in France, and of Otho the Great in Germany, correspond to that of William the Conqueror in England; as those of Lewis XIII. and Ferdinand II. in the two former countries, were analogous to that of James the First, in the latter.
In the following treatise, it is proposed to take a separate view of these periods of the English history, and to examine the chief differences of the political system in each of them. As the government which we enjoy at present has not been formed at once, but has grown to maturity in a course of ages, it is necessary, in order to have a full view of the circumstances from which it has proceeded, that we should survey with attention the successive changes through which it has passed. In a disquisition of this nature, it is hoped that, by considering events in the order in which they happened, the causes of every change will be<6> more easily unfolded, and may be pointed out with greater simplicity. As the subject, however, is of great extent, I shall endeavour to avoid prolixity, either from quoting authorities and adducing proofs in matters sufficiently evident, or from intermixing any detail of facts not intimately connected with the history of our constitution.
With respect to the Saxon period, which comes first in order, many writers appear to have looked upon it as too remote, and as affording a prospect too barren and rude, to deserve any particular examination. But it ought to be considered, that the foundations of our present constitution were laid in that early period; and that, without examining the principles upon which it is founded, we cannot form a just opinion concerning the nature of the superstructure. To trace the origin of a system so singular in its nature may, at the same time, be regarded as an object of rational curiosity. The British government is the only one in the annals of mankind that has aimed at the diffusion of liberty through a multitude of people, spread over a wide extent of territory. The ancient republics of Greece and<7> Rome comprehended little more than the police of a single city; and in these a great proportion of the people, so far from being admitted to a share in the government, were, by the institution of domestic slavery, excluded from the common rights of men. The modern republics of Italy, not to mention the very unequal privileges which they bestow upon different individuals, are inconsiderable in their extent. The same observation is applicable to the government of the Swiss cantons. In the Seven United Provinces of the Netherlands, the government can hardly be considered as more extensive; for, notwithstanding the confederacy by which they are connected, every particular province, and even every single town of any consequence, belonging to each, having the exclusive power of making or consenting to its own regulations, forms in reality an independent political system. By what fortunate concurrence of events has a more extensive plan of civil freedom been established in this island? Was it by accident, or by design, or from the influence of peculiar situation, that our Saxon forefathers, originally distinguished as the most ferocious<8> of all those barbarians who invaded the Roman provinces, have been enabled to embrace more comprehensive notions of liberty, and to sow the seeds of those political institutions which have been productive of such prosperity and happiness to a great and populous empire? To these questions it is hoped that, in the sequel, a satisfactory answer will be given.<9>