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Introduction - John Millar, An Historical View of the English Government 
An Historical View of the English Government, From the Settlement of the Saxons in Britain to the Revolution in 1688, in four volumes, edited by Mark Salber Philips and Dale R. Smith, introduction by Mark Salber Philips (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
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From the accession of James the First to the English throne, we may date the commencement of what, in a former part of this inquiry, I have called the Commercial Government of England.1 The progress of commerce and manufactures had now begun to change the manners and political state of the inhabitants. Different arrangements of property had contributed to emancipate the people of<2> inferior condition, and to undermine the authority of the superior ranks. A new order of things was introduced; the feudal institutions natural to a rude nation, were, in great measure, abolished and forgotten; and, upon the venerable stock of our ancient constitution, were engrafted other customs and regulations more consistent with the genius and circumstances of a civilized and opulent kingdom. The commercial improvements which about the same time took place in other parts of Europe, were also attended with great political changes. These, however, were, in each country, accommodated to the peculiar state of society, and therefore exhibited very different combinations and modes of government. According as mankind have been more successful in cultivating the arts of life, their political systems are likely to be more diversified, and to afford a more interesting picture. The attention of a rude people is confined to few objects; and the precautions which occur to them for preventing injustice, and for maintaining good order and tranquillity, are simple and uniform. By experience and observation, by the gradual expansion of the<3> human understanding,2 new measures are discovered for the removal of particular inconveniences: while, from the various pursuits in which men are engaged, and the wealth of different kinds which they accumulate, a variety of regulations are suggested for the security and enjoyment of their several acquisitions. Their systems of policy are thus rendered more comprehensive, and, to the eye of the philosopher, present a richer field of instruction and entertainment.
The historical aera from which the present inquiry sets out, is further distinguished by an accidental event of great importance; the union of the crowns of England and of Scotland.3 By the accession of the house of Stuart to the English throne, the whole island of Great Britain, which had long been divided into two separate kingdoms, independent of each other, and frequently engaged in mutual depredations, was reduced under one sovereign, by whose authority their future animosities were effectually restrained, and their military force invariably directed against their common enemies. That this federal union was highly beneficial to both nations,<4> by exalting their power and consideration among foreign states, as well as by promoting their security, together with their trade and opulence at home, appears abundantly manifest. How far it affected their political circumstances, and contributed to improve the form of their government, I shall afterwards endeavour to explain.
The whole period of English history from the accession of James the First to the present time, may be divided into two branches: the one comprehending the occurrences prior to the revolution in 1688;4 the other the occurrences posterior to that great event. The former contains the rise and progress of the long contest between the king and parliament concerning the extent of prerogative;5 a contest which, after involving the nation in a civil war, and after producing various political changes and turns of fortune, was at last happily terminated by a judicious and moderate correction of the ancient limited monarchy. We have here an opportunity of considering the condition of England and of Scotland, after the union of the two crowns; the circumstances in the state of society, which<5> encouraged the king to claim a despotical power, and which, on the other hand, prompted the people to demand an extension of privileges; the views of the two great parties, into which the whole kingdom was naturally divided; and the several events, whether proceeding from local and temporary, or from general and permanent causes, which promoted or obstructed the success of either party.
In the latter branch of this period, the political horizon assumed a different aspect.6 By the revolution in 1688, the extent of the prerogative was understood to be fixed in such a manner as to preclude any future disputes. The modes of arbitrary power, with which the nation had formerly been threatened or oppressed, were now completely restrained. The eminent advantages of a constitution, which appeared effectually to secure the most important rights of mankind, and which England enjoyed without a rival, promoted, in a wonderful degree, her commerce and manufactures, exalted her power as a maritime nation, and enabled her to plant colonies as well as to<6> establish her dominion in distant parts of the globe.
The accumulation of wealth, arising, in these prosperous circumstances, from a long course of industry and activity, could not fail to increase the expence of living to every individual, and, of consequence, the expences incurred in the management of public affairs. Hence the necessity for a proportional increase of taxes, and augmentation of the public revenue under the disposal of the sovereign. The patronage and correspondent influence of the crown, which were thus rendered more and more extensive, began to excite apprehension, that, if permitted to advance without controul, they might undermine and subvert the pillars of the ancient constitution. Thus the two great political parties were not extinguished at the revolution; though, according to the change of times and circumstances, their object was considerably varied. The Whigs,7 who had formerly opposed the extension of the prerogative, now opposed the secret influence of the crown; and the Tories, upon a similar variation of the ground, still adhered to the interest of the monarch.<7>
The operation of this influence was, indeed, retarded, for some time, by that warm attachment to the exiled royal family8 which prevailed through a part of the nation. While a powerful faction in Britain supported the claim of a pretender to the crown,9 those who exercised the executive power were laid under the necessity of acting with extreme circumspection, and of keeping at a distance from every measure which might occasion suspicion or alarm. The greater diffusion of knowledge, however, contributed, by degrees, to discredit and dissolve this foreign connection, and, of course, to remove those restraints which it had created; but, in the mean time, the progress of liberal opinions, and the growing spirit of independence, disposed the people to examine more narrowly the corruptions of government, and to reform the abuses of administration. In this manner the popular and monarchical parts of our constitution have been again set at variance; a struggle between them has proceeded with some degree of animosity; and express regulations have been thought requisite for limiting that ascendant which the latter has gained, and is farther<8> likely to gain, over the former. The latter branch of our history will exhibit the conduct of political parties, in this critical situation, and the various events and circumstances which have tended to prevent, or delay, an amicable conclusion of their differences.<9>
[1. ]Here Millar refers back to his periodization of English history as falling in three parts: “feudal aristocracy,” “feudal monarchy,” and “commercial government.”
[2. ]The theme of growing complexity in human society is also a concern throughout Millar’s Distinction of Ranks.
[3. ]The crowns were joined on the accession of James VI of Scotland as James I in 1603.
[4. ]The Glorious Revolution of 1688–89 displaced the Stuart monarch, James II (r.= 1685–89), who was replaced by his son-in-law, William of Orange, as William III (r.= 1689–1702), and his daughter as Mary II (r. 1689–99).
[5. ]See p. 235, note 45.
[6. ]Here, and in the paragraph that follows, Millar outlines the essence of the Whig view of the change in the British constitution following 1688.
[7. ]The Whig party took its name from whiggamore, a term applied to the Scots Covenanters who opposed the Catholic duke of York (the future James II) as the heir to the British throne. The Glorious Revolution of 1688–89 brought the Whigs, with their ideology of limiting the royal prerogative, into favor as the consistent supporters of the Hanoverian settlement. In common with other “radical Whigs,” Millar feared that “secret influence” had replaced authority in giving the Crown sway over the Parliament and people. Tory, derived from an Irish word for bandit or cattle thief, was originally a pejorative term for the supporters of the duke of York (James II), and then became a more general term for those loyal to king and church over the issue of the sovereignty of Parliament. In the early part of the eighteenth century, the party suffered from internal divisions and was excluded from office under the first two Hanoverian monarchs (1714–60). The reaction to the French Revolution in the 1790s helped to legitimate Tory values, and the name became voluntarily applied.
[8. ]The Stewart dynasty was established in Scotland with the ascension of Robert the Steward as Robert II (r. 1371–90). The Scottish spelling was anglicized to Stuart after the union of the English and Scottish crowns in 1603.
[9. ]The term Jacobite, derived from the Latin form of James, was applied to those who continued to support the Stuart claim to the British throne via the exiled James Edward Stuart, the “Old Pretender” (1688–1766), son of the deposed James II. Major Jacobite uprisings occurred in 1715 and in 1745–46 under the “Young Pretender,” Charles Edward Stuart (1720–88).