He was certain that the Americans
had been aiming
all along at independence, and like the Bedford
party in parliament, he held it fortunate that matters had so soon been brought to a crisis.
As a lover of mankind, he was ready to bewail the check to prosperous and growing states; but, said he, ‘we are past the hour of lenitives and half exertions.’
On the other hand, John Millar
, the professor of law in the university of Glasgow
, taught the youth of Scotland
who frequented his lectures, ‘that the republican form of government is by far the best, either for a very small or a very extensive country.’
‘I cannot but agree with him,’ said David Hume
, who yet maintained that it would be ‘most criminal’ to disjoint the established government in Great Britain
, where he believed a republic would so certainly be the immediate forerunner of despotism, that none but fools would think to augment liberty by shaking off monarchy.
He had written the history of England
without love for the country, or comprehension of its early popular liberty, or any deep insight into its parties, or exact study of its constitution.
He that reads his lucid and attractive pages will not learn from them the formation of the ‘native English
’ tongue, or of the system of English government, or of religious opinion, or of English philosophy, or of English literature; his work is the work of a sceptic, polemic against the dogmatism of the church, otherwise unbiassed except by the sceptic's natural predilection for the monarchical principle.
But he had no faith in the universal application of that principle.
‘The ancient republics,’ said he, rising above the influence of his philosophy, ‘were somewhat ferocious ’