Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/239

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JOHN MILLAR. 33


poem, Almada Hill, which was published in 1781. The cruise had been highly successful, and Mickle, being appointed joint agent for the prizes, was sent home to superintend the legal proceedings connected with their condemnation. His own share of the results was very considerable, and, together with the for- tune he acquired by his wife, whom he married in June, 1782, at once established his independence. The remainder of his life was spent in literary leisure, at Wheatley, in Oxfordshire, where he died, October 25, 1788, after a short ill- ness, leaving one son. Mickle's poems are not voluminous, and have been eclipsed, like so much of the other verse of the last century, by the infinitely superior productions of the present or immediately by-past age. Many of them, however, show considerable energy of thought ; others, great sweetness of versification ; and his translation has obtained the rank of a classic. It is not to be overlooked, moreover, that the authorship of one exquisite song in his native dialect, Colins' Welcome, is ascribed to him, though not upon definite grounds.

After Mickle's death, his Scottish creditors revived their claims upon his ex- ecutors. An Edinburgh agent, named Henderson, having got the debts vested in his own person, raised an action in England for their recovery. Not having furnished himself with the necessary vouchers, he lost his action, with costs, which the executors employed another Scottish agent to recover. This latter individual to whom we are indebted for some of the information in the pre- sent memoir being aware that the debts might have still been available in A Scottish court, succeeded in getting the business managed extra-judicially ; so that the poet's representatives were no more troubled with his Scottish creditors.

MILLAR, JOHN, professor of law in the university of Glasgow, and author of the Historical "View of the English Government, was born on the 22nd of June, 1735, in the parish of Shotts, of which his father, the Rev. Mr James Millar, was minister. Two years after his birth, his father was translated to Hamilton, and he was himself placed under the charge of his uncle, Mr John 31illar of Milhaugh, in the neighbouring parish of Blantyre, where he spent almost all his early years. Having been taught to rend by his uncle, he was placed in 1742, at the school of Hamilton, in order to be instructed in Latin and Greek. In 1746, being designed for the church, he went to Glasgow college, where he distinguished himself as an attentive and intelligent student.* He had the advantage of the society of Dr Cullen, (then professor of chemistry at Glasgow,) to whose wife he was related, and of the acquaintance of other per- sons distinguished by their intelligence. He was particularly fortunate in ob- taining the friendship of Dr Adam Smith, whose lectures and conversation first directed his attention to the particular line of research in which he afterwards became so eminent As his mind expanded, he found that the clerical pro- fession was not agreeable to his tastes or faculties, and he accordingly adopted the resolution of studying- for the Scottish bar. About the time when his col- lege studies were finished, he became preceptor to the eldest son of lord Kames, in whose society he spent two years, during which he formed an intimacy with David Hume and other eminent persons. " It seldom happens," says the Edinburgh Review, " that we can trace the genealogy of a literary progeny so correctly as the two circumstances which have now been mentioned, enable us to do that of Mr Millar's future studies. It is perfectly evident to all who are acquainted with their writings, that his speculations are all formed upon the model of those of lord Kames and Dr Smith ; and that his merit consists almost entirely in the accuracy with which he surveyed, and the sagacity with which he pursued, the path which they had the merit of discovering. It was one great object of those original authors to trace back the history of society to its