But generally the essay-character - that is to say, the discussion of a special point, it may be with wide digressions and divergences - displays itself.
The digressions are indeed constant, and sometimes have the appearance of being absolutely wilful.
It is immensely diffuse and pretentious, loaded with digressions, its argument buried under masses of fantastic, uncritical learning, the work of a vigorous but quite unoriginal mind.
Hence, probably, the wide popularity which his works enjoyed in the 18th century; and hence the agreeable feeling with which, notwithstanding all their false taste and their tiresome digressions, they impress the modern reader.
Nevertheless, the book exhibits a relative unity; for, whatever digressions occur in the development of its theme, the main object of the writer is never lost sight of.