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: to which are subjoined, some dissertations connected with the history of the government, from the revolution to the present time
In Four Volumes
Автор(и) : John Millar
Издател : Liberty Fund, Inc.
Място на издаване : Indianapolis, USA
Година на издаване : 2006
ISBN : 978-0-86597-444-9
Брой страници : 889
Език : английски
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"An Historical View of the English Government" consists of three parts, concerned with the most substantive revolutions in English government and manners: from the Saxon settlement to the Norman Conquest, from the Norman Conquest to the accession of James I, and from James I to the Glorious Revolution. Through these three phases Millar traces the development of the “great outlines of the English constitution”—the history of institutions of English liberty from Saxon antiquity to the revolution settlement of 1689. Millar demonstrates serious concern for the maintenance of liberties achieved through revolution and maintains that the manners of a commercial nation, while particularly suited to personal and political liberty, are not such as to secure liberty forever.
The historical context that An Historical View provides makes it an excellent complement to Liberty Fund’s The Glasgow Edition of the Works of Adam Smith and The History of England by David Hume.
The Progress of Science relative to Law and Government.
As the advancement of commerce and civilization tends to promote the virtue of strict justice, it of course disposes mankind to cultivate and improve the science of law. By attention and experience, and by a gradual refinement of their feelings, men attain a nicer discrimination in matters of right and wrong, and acquire more skill and dexterity in settling the claims and disputes of individuals, or in proportioning punishments to the various offences which may invade the peace of society.
There is this remarkable difference between justice and the other virtues, that the former can be reduced under general rules, capable, in some degree, of accuracy and precision; while the latter, more uncertain and variable in their limits, can frequently<267> be no otherwise determined than from a complex view of their circumstances, and must, in each particular case, be submitted to the immediate decision of taste and sentiment.1 Justice requires no more than that I should abstain from hurting my neighbour, in his person, his property, or his reputation; that I should pay the debts, or perform the services, which by my contracts, or by the course of my behaviour, I have given him reason to expect from me; and that, if I have ever transgressed in any of these particulars, I should make a suitable compensation and reinstate him, as far as possible, in those advantages of which I have unwarrantably deprived him. The line of duty suggested by this mere negative virtue can be clearly marked, and its boundaries distinctly ascertained. It resembles a matter of calculation, and may, in some sort, be regulated by the square and the compass.
John Millar (1735-1801) was a Scottish philosopher, historian and Regius Professor of Civil Law at the University of Glasgow from 1761 to 1800.
In 1761, with the support of Adam Smith and Lord Kames, Millar was elected to the Chair of Civil Law at Glasgow. His regular teaching duties included a course on Civil (Roman) Law and another on Public Law, or the Principles of Government. Millar was very popular in the classroom on account of the manner of his teaching, as well as for his enthusiasm for his subject and his personal support for his students. He was also extremely active in faculty matters during his forty years at the university.
Millar’s activities in Glasgow extended beyond the university campus. In addition to teaching law, he practiced it, trying cases personally, as well as serving as both Counsel and arbitrator. He was a member of the Literary Society, a club founded by Smith in 1752 that included among its members the philosopher Thomas Reid, the inventor James Watt, and the chemist William Cullen. Millar, always a defender of personal liberty, was also active in the anti-slavery movement of his day.
Millar’s most well-known work is The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks (1771). It went through four editions, the final of which appeared in 1801 and contained an ‘Account of the Life and Writings of John Millar’ written by Millar’s nephew John Craig. The book adopts a stadial model of human social history to examine a series of authority relations. The most well-known of these analyses is the first chapter, which looks at the ways in which women’s social status increases or decreases as the dominant mode of production in a society changes.
Other works include a constitutional history of Britain entitled An Historical View of the English Government (1787) and a collection of political papers critical of the British government’s decision to go to war with France published as Letters of Crito (1796).