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Title: Life and Correspondence of David Hume, Volume I (of 2)
Author: Burton, John Hill, 1809-1881
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life and Correspondence of David Hume, Volume I (of 2)" ***

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Transcriber's Notes: Variations in spelling and hyphenation have been
left as in the original. Words in italics in the original are surrounded
by _underscores_. A row of asterisks represents a thought break. Letters
superscripted in the original are surrounded by {braces}. Ellipses match
the original. A complete list of corrections follows the text.

The original has two different kinds of blockquotes: one uses a smaller
font than the main text, and the other has wider margins. In this text,
the blockquotes in a smaller font have wider margins, and the other
blockquotes have two blank lines before and after the quotation. An
explanation of the different kinds of quotations can be found at the end

The Index that was printed at the end of Volume II. of this series has
been included at the end of this Volume for reference purposes.

                           LIFE AND

                      CORRESPONDENCE OF

                         DAVID HUME.

              [Illustration: Bust of David Hume]





                         DAVID HUME.


                  BY JOHN HILL BURTON, ESQ.

                          VOLUME I.

             WILLIAM TAIT, 107, PRINCE'S STREET.

        Printed by WILLIAM TAIT, 107, Prince's Street.







                        J. H. BURTON.


In this work, an attempt has been made to connect together a series of
original documents, by a narrative of events in the life of him to whom
they relate; an account of his literary labours; and a picture of his
character, according to the representations of it preserved by his
contemporaries. The scantiness of the resources at the command of
previous biographers, and the extent and variety of the new materials
now presented to the world, render unnecessary any other apology for the
present publication. How far these materials have been rightly used,
readers and critics must judge; but I may be perhaps excused for
offering a brief explanation of the spirit in which I desired to
undertake the task; and the responsibility I felt attached to the duty,
of ushering before the public, documents of so much importance to

The critic or biographer, who writes from materials already before the
public, may be excused if he give way to his prepossessions and
partialities, and limit his task to the representation of all that
justifies and supports them. If he have any misgivings, that, in
following the direction of his prepossessions, he may not have taken the
straight line of truth, he may be assured, that if the cause be one of
any interest, an advocate, having the same resources at his command,
will speedily appear on the other side. But when original manuscripts
are for the first time to be used, it is due to truth, and to the desire
of mankind to satisfy themselves about the real characters of great men,
that they should be so presented as to afford the means of impartially
estimating those to whom they relate. We possess many brilliant
Eulogiums of the leaders of our race--many vivid pictures of their
virtues and their vices--their greatness or their weakness. But if a
humbler, it is perhaps a no less useful task, to represent these
men--their character, their conduct, and the circumstances of their
life, precisely as they were; rejecting nothing that truly exemplifies
them, because it is beneath the dignity of biography, or at variance
with received notions of their character and the tendency of their
public conduct. The desire to have a closer view of the fountain head
whence the outward manifestations of a great intellect have sprung, is
but one of the many examples of man's spirit of inquiry from effects to
their causes; and the desire will not be gratified by reproducing the
object of inquiry in all the pomp and state of his public intercourse
with the world, and keeping the veil still closed upon his inner nature.
It is difficult to write with mere descriptive impartiality, and without
exhibiting any bias of opinion, on matters which are, at the same time,
the most deeply interesting to mankind, and the objects of their
strongest partialities. Though the task that was before me was simply to
describe, and never to controvert, I do not profess to have avoided all
indications of opinion in the departments of the work which have the
character of original authorship. I have the satisfaction, however, of
reflecting, that the documents, which are the real elements of value in
this work, are impartially presented to the reader, and that nothing is
omitted which seemed to bear distinctly on the character and conduct of
David Hume.

I now offer a few words in explanation of the nature of these original
documents. The late Baron Hume had collected together his uncle's
papers, consisting of the letters addressed to him, the few drafts or
copies he had left of letters written by himself, the letters addressed
_by_ him to his immediate relations, and apparently all the papers in
his handwriting, which had been left in the possession of the members of
his family. To these the Baron seems to have been enabled to add the
originals of many of the letters addressed by him to his intimate
friends, Adam Smith, Blair, Mure, and others. The design with which this
interesting collection was made, appears to have been that of preparing
a work of a similar description to the present; and it is a misfortune
to literature that this design was not accomplished. On the death of
Baron Hume, it was found that he had left this mass of papers at the
uncontrolled disposal of the Council of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
This learned body, after having fully considered the course proper to be
adopted in these circumstances, determined that they would permit the
papers to be made use of by any person desirous to apply them to a
legitimate literary purpose, who might enjoy their confidence. Having
for some time indulged in a project of writing a life of Hume, postponed
from time to time, on account of the imperfect character of the
materials at my disposal, I applied to the Council of the Royal Society
for access to the Hume papers; and after having considered my
application with that deliberation which their duty to the public as
custodiers of these documents seemed to require, they acceded to my
request. The ordinary form of returning thanks for the privilege of
using papers in the possession of private parties, appears not to be
applicable to this occasion; and I look on the concession of the Council
as conferring on me an honour, which is felt to be all the greater, that
it was bestowed in the conscientious discharge of a public duty.

The Hume papers, besides a manuscript of the "Dialogues on Natural
Religion," and of a portion of the History, fill seven quarto volumes of
various thickness, and two thin folios. In having so large a mass of
private and confidential correspondence committed to their charge, the
Council naturally felt that they would be neglecting their duty, if they
did not keep in view the possibility that there might be in the
collection, allusions to the domestic conduct or private affairs of
persons whose relations are still living; and that good taste, and a
kind consideration for private feelings should prevent the accidental
publication of such passages. On inspection, less of this description of
matter was found than so large a mass of private documents might be
supposed to contain. There is no passage which I have felt any
inclination to print, as being likely to afford interest to the reader,
of which the use has been denied me; and I can therefore say that I have
had in all respects full and unlimited access to this valuable
collection. Before leaving this matter, I take the opportunity of
returning my thanks for the kind and polite attention I have received
from those gentlemen of the Council, on whom the arrangements for my
getting access to these papers, imposed no little labour and sacrifice
of valuable time.

A rumour has obtained currency regarding the contents of these papers,
which seems to demand notice on the present occasion.

It is stated in _The Quarterly Review_,[xi:1] that "those who have
examined the Hume papers--which we know only by report--speak highly of
their interest, but add, that they furnish painful disclosures
concerning the opinions then prevailing amongst the clergy of the
northern metropolis: distinguished ministers of the gospel encouraging
the scoffs of their familiar friend, the author of 'the Essay upon
Miracles;' and echoing the blasphemies of their associate, the author of
the 'Essay upon Suicide!'" I have the pleasing task of removing the
painful feelings which, as this writer justly observes, must attend the
belief in such a rumour, by saying that I could not find it justified
by a single sentence in the letters of the Scottish clergy contained in
these papers, or in any other documents that have passed under my eye. I
make this statement as an act of simple justice to the memory of men to
whose character, being a member of a different church, I have no
partisan attachment: and I may add that, in the whole course of my
pretty extensive researches in connexion with Hume and his friends, I
found no reason for believing that letters containing evidence of any
such frightful duplicity ever existed.

Among these papers, a variety of letters, chiefly from eminent
foreigners, though interesting in themselves, were entitled to no place
in the body of this work, as illustrative of the life and character of
Hume. These I had intended to print in an appendix, believing that,
though not directly connected with my own project, the lovers of
literature would not readily excuse me for neglecting the opportunity
afforded by my access to these papers, for adding to the stock of the
letters of celebrated men. But the work, according to its original scope
and design, continuing to increase under my hands, I found that if it
contained the documents specially referred to in the text, its bulk
would be sufficiently extended, and I have determined to let the other
papers here alluded to follow in a separate volume, which will contain
letters to Hume from D'Alembert, Turgot, Diderot, Helvétius, Franklin,
Walpole, and other distinguished persons.

The reader will find that many original documents printed in this
collection have been obtained from other sources than the Hume papers.
My acknowledgments are particularly due to the Earl of Minto, for the
liberality with which he allowed me the uncontrolled use of the large
and valuable collection of correspondence between Hume and Sir Gilbert
Elliot. For the letters in the Kilravock collection I am indebted to
Cosmo Innes, Esq., sheriff of Morayshire; and I obtained access to those
addressed to Colonel Edmondstoune, through the polite intervention of
George Dundas, Esq., sheriff of Selkirkshire. I am obliged to the
kindness of Lord Murray for much assistance in obtaining materials and
information for this work; and to Robert Chambers, Esq., who has been
accustomed from time to time, to preserve such letters and other
documents connected with Scottish biography, as came under his notice, I
have to offer my thanks for the whole of his collections regarding Hume,
which he generously transferred to me.

In the use of printed books, where the Advocates' Library, to which I
have professional access, has failed me, I have found the facilities for
consulting the select and well arranged collection of the Writers to the
Signet of great service.

I owe acknowledgments to many friends for useful advice in the conduct
of the work. To one especially, who, after having long occupied a
distinguished place in the literature of his country, permits his
friends still to enjoy the social exercise of those intellectual
qualities that have delighted the world, I am indebted for such critical
counsel as no other could have given, and few would have had the
considerate kindness to bestow, were they able.

Of the two portraits engraved for this work, that which will, probably,
most strikingly attract attention, is taken from a bust, of coarse and
unartistic workmanship, but bearing all the marks of a genuine likeness.
It was moulded by a country artist, at the desire of Hume's esteemed
friend, Professor Ferguson; and I am under obligations to his son, Sir
Adam, for the privilege of using it on this occasion, and to Sir George
Mackenzie, for having kindly mentioned its existence, and exerted
himself in its recovery, after it had been long lost sight of. The
medallion, from which the other portrait is taken, is in the possession
of Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, Esq., by whom I was presented with the
engraved plate, from which the fac simile of a letter, addressed by Hume
to his collateral ancestor, is printed.

_Edinburgh, February, 1846._

     *.* It may be right to explain, that the two sizes of type,
     used in this work, were first adopted with the design of
     presenting all letters addressed to Hume, all extracts, and
     all letters from him with which the public is already
     familiar, in the smaller type, in order that the reader coming
     to a document with which he is already acquainted, might see
     at once where it ends. This arrangement was accidentally
     broken through, several letters having been printed in the
     larger that should have appeared in the smaller type.


[xi:1] No. LXXIII. p. 555.



  Portrait of Hume from a Medallion,                   _Frontispiece_.

  Fac simile of a letter by Hume,                             Page 178


1711-1734. ÆT. 0-23.

  Birth--Parentage--His own account of his Ancestors--Local
  associations of Ninewells--Education--Studies--Early
  Correspondence--The Ramsays--Specimen of his early Writings--
  Essay on Chivalry--Why he deserted the Law--Early ambition to
  found a School of Philosophy--Letter to a Physician describing
  his studies and habits--Criticism on the Letter--Supposition
  that it was addressed to Dr. Cheyne--Hume goes to Bristol.         1


1734-1739. ÆT. 23-27.

  Hume leaves Bristol for France--Paris--Miracles at the Tomb of
  the Abbé Paris--Rheims--La Flêche--Associations with the Abbé
  Pluche and Des Cartes--Observations on French Society and
  Manners --Story of La Roche--Return to Britain--Correspondence
  with Henry Home--Publication of the first and second volume of
  the Treatise of Human Nature--Character of that Work--Its
  influence on Mental Philosophy.                                   48


1739-1741. ÆT. 27-29.

  Letters to his friends after the publication of the first and
  second volume of the Treatise--Returns to Scotland--Reception
  of his Book--Criticism in "The Works of the Learned"--Charge
  against Hume of assaulting the publisher--Correspondence with
  Francis Hutcheson--Seeks a situation--Connexion with Adam
  Smith--Publication of the third volume of the Treatise--
  Account of it--Hume's notes of his reading--Extracts from his
  Note-books.                                                      105


1741-1745. ÆT. 30-34.

  Publication of the Essays, Moral and Political--Their
  Character--Correspondence with Home and Hutcheson--Hume's
  Remarks on Hutcheson's System--Education and Accomplishments
  of the Scottish Gentry--Hume's Intercourse with Mure of
  Caldwell and Oswald of Dunnikier--Opinions on a Sermon by Dr.
  Leechman--Attempts to succeed Dr. Pringle in the Chair of Moral
  Philosophy in Edinburgh.                                         136


1745-1747. ÆT. 34-36.

  Hume's Residence with the Marquis of Annandale--His Predecessor
  Colonel Forrester--Correspondence with Sir James Johnstone and
  Mr. Sharp of Hoddam--Quarrel with Captain Vincent--Estimate of
  his Conduct, and Inquiry into the Circumstances in which he was
  placed--Appointed Secretary to General St. Clair--Accompanies
  the expedition against the Court of France as Judge-Advocate--
  Gives an Account of the Attack on Port L'Orient--A tragic
  Incident.                                                        170


1746-1748. ÆT. 35-37.

  Hume returns to Ninewells--His domestic Position--His attempts
  in Poetry--Inquiry as to his Sentimentalism--Takes an interest
  in Politics--Appointed Secretary to General St. Clair on his
  mission to Turin--His journal of his Tour--Arrival in Holland--
  Rotterdam--The Hague--Breda--The War--French Soldiers--Nimeguen
  --Cologne--Bonn--The Rhine and its scenery--Coblentz--Wiesbaden
  --Frankfurt--Battle of Dettingen--Wurzburg--Ratisbon--Descent
  of the Danube--Observations on Germany--Vienna--The Emperor and
  Empress Queen--Styria--Carinthia--The Tyrol--Mantua--Cremona--
  Turin.                                                           225


1748-1751. ÆT. 37-40.

  Publication of the "Inquiry concerning Human Understanding"--
  Nature of that Work--Doctrine of Necessity--Observations on
  Miracles--New Edition of the "Essays, Moral and Political"--
  Reception of the new Publications--Return Home--His Mother's
  Death--Her Talents and Character--Correspondence with Dr.
  Clephane--Earthquakes--Correspondence with Montesquieu--
  Practical jokes in connexion with the Westminster Election--
  John Home--The Bellman's Petition.                               271


1751-1752. ÆT. 40-41.

  Sir Gilbert Elliot--Hume's intimacy with him--Their Philosophical
  Correspondence--Dialogues on Natural Religion--Residence in
  Edinburgh--Jack's Land--Publication of the "Inquiry concerning
  the Principles of Morals"--The Utilitarian Theory--Attempt to
  obtain the Chair of Moral Philosophy in Glasgow--Competition
  with Burke--Publication of the "Political Discourses"--The
  foundation of Political Economy--French Translations.            319


1752-1755. ÆT. 41-44.

  Appointment as keeper of the Advocates' Library--His Duties--
  Commences the History of England--Correspondence with Adam
  Smith and others on the History--Generosity to Blacklock
  the Poet--Quarrel with the Faculty of Advocates--Publication of
  the First Volume of the History--Its reception--Continues the
  History--Controversial and Polemical attacks--Attempt to subject
  him, along with Kames, to the Discipline of Ecclesiastical
  Courts--The leader of the attack--Home's "Douglas"--The first
  Edinburgh Review.                                                367


  Fragments of a Paper in Hume's handwriting, describing the
  Descent on the Coast of Brittany, in 1746, and the causes of
  its failure.                                                     441

  Letters from Montesquieu to Hume,                                456

  ---- the Abbé le Blanc to Hume,                                  458

  Documents relating to the Poems of Ossian,                       462

   Essay on the Genuineness of the Poems,                          471





1711-1734. ÆT. 0-23.

     Birth--Parentage--His own account of his Ancestors--Local
     associations of Ninewells--Education--Studies--Early
     Correspondence--The Ramsays--Specimen of his early Writings--
     Essay on Chivalry--Why he deserted the Law--Early ambition to
     found a School of Philosophy--Letter to a Physician describing
     his studies and habits--Criticism on the Letter--Supposition
     that it was addressed to Dr. Cheyne--Hume goes to Bristol.

David Hume was born at Edinburgh, on the 26th of April,[1:1] 1711. He
was the second son of Joseph Hume, or Home, proprietor of the estate of
Ninewells, in the parish of Chirnside, in Berwickshire. His mother was a
daughter of Sir David Falconer of Newton, who filled the office of Lord
President of the Court of Session from 1682 to 1685, and is known to
lawyers as the collector of a series of decisions of the Court of
Session, published in 1701. His son, the brother of Hume's mother,
succeeded to the barony of Halkerton in 1727. Mr. Hume the elder, was a
member of the Faculty of Advocates.[1:2] He appears, however, if he
ever intended to follow the legal profession as a means of livelihood,
to have early given up that view, and to have lived, as his eldest son
John afterwards did, the life of a retired country gentleman.

It is an established rule, that all biographical attempts of
considerable length, shall contain some genealogical inquiry regarding
the family of their subject. The present writer is relieved both of the
labour of such an investigation, and the responsibility of adjusting it
to the appropriate bounds, by being able to print a letter in which the
philosopher has himself exhibited the results of an inquiry into the

DAVID HUME _to_ ALEXANDER HOME _of Whitfield_.

"_Edinburgh, 12th April, 1758._

"DEAR SIR,--I was told by Mrs. Home, when she was in town, that you
intended to make some researches into our family, in order to give them
to Mr. Douglas, who must insert them, or the substance of them, into his
account of the Scottish nobility.[2:1] I think that your purpose is very
laudable, and is very obliging to us all; and for this reason I shall
inform you of what I know of the matter. These hints will at least serve
to point out to you more authentic documents.

"My brother has no very ancient charters: the oldest he has, are some
charters of the lands of Horndean. There he is designated Home, or Hume,
of Ninewells. The oldest charters of Ninewells are lost. It was always
a tradition in our family, that we were descended from Lord Home, in
this manner. Lord Home gave to his younger son the lands of Tinningham,
East Lothian. This gentleman proved a spendthrift and dissipated his
estate, upon which Lord Home provided his grandchild, or nephew, in the
lands of Ninewells as a patrimony. This, probably, is the reason why, in
all the books of heraldry, we are styled to be cadets of Tinningham; and
Tinningham was undoubtedly a cadet of Home. I was told by my grand-aunt,
Mrs. Sinclair of Hermiston, that Charles earl of Home told her, that he
had been looking over some old papers of the family, where the Lord Home
designs Home of Ninewells either his grandson or nephew, I do not
precisely remember which.

"The late Sir James Home of Blackadder showed me a paper, which he
himself had copied a few days before from a gravestone in the churchyard
of Hutton: the words were these--'Here lies John Home of Bell, son of
John Home of Ninewells, son of John Home of Tinningham, son of John Lord
Home, founder of Dunglas.'

"I find that this Lord Home, founder of Dunglas, was the very person
whom Godscroft says went over to France with the Douglas, and was father
to Tinningham: so thus the two stories tally exactly. He was killed
either in the battle of Crevant or Verneuil, gained by the Duke of
Bedford, the regent, against the French. Douglas fell in the same
battle. I think it was the battle of Verneuil. All the French and
English histories, as well as the Scotch, contain this fact. This Lord
Home was your ancestor, and ours, lived in the time of James the First
and Second of Scotland, Henrys the Fifth and Sixth of England.

"I have asked old Bell the descent of his family. He said he was really
sprung from Ninewells, but that the lands fell to an heiress who married
a brother of Polwarth's.

"By Godscroft's account, Tinningham was the third son of Home in the
same generation that Wedderburn was the second, so that the difference
of antiquity is nothing, or very inconsiderable.

"The readiest way of vouching these facts would be for you to take a
jaunt to the churchyard of Hutton, and inquire for Bell's monument, and
see whether the inscription be not obliterated; for it is above
twenty-five years ago that I saw the paper in Sir James Home's hand, and
he told us, at that time, that the inscription was somewhat difficult to
be read. If it be still legible it would be very well done to take a
copy of it in some authentic manner, and transmit it to Mr. Douglas, to
be inserted in his volume. If it be utterly effaced, the next, but most
difficult task would be to search for the paper above-mentioned in the
family of Home: it must be some time about the year 1440 or 1450. If
both these means fail, we must rest upon the tradition.

"I am not of the opinion of some, that these matters are altogether to
be slighted. Though we should pretend to be wiser than our ancestors,
yet it is arrogant to pretend that we are wiser than the other nations
of Europe, who, all of them, except perhaps the English, make great
account of their family descent. I doubt that our morals have not much
improved since we began to think riches the sole thing worth

"If I were in the country I should be glad to attend you to Hutton, in
order to make the inquiry I propose. I doubt whether my brother will
think of doing it: he has such an extreme aversion to every thing that
savours of vanity, that he would not willingly expose himself to
censure; but this is a justice that one owes to their posterity, for we
are not certain that these matters will be always so little regarded.

"I shall farther observe to you, that the Lord Home, founder of Dunglas,
married the heiress of that family, of the name of Pepdie, and from her
we always bear the Pepingos in our arms.

"I find in Hall's Chronicle that the Earl of Surrey, in an inroad upon
the Merse, made during the reign of Henry the Eighth, after the battle
of Flouden, destroyed the castles of Hedderburn, West Nisgate, and
Blackadder, and the towers of East Nisgate, and Winwalls. The names, you
see, are somewhat disfigured; but I cannot doubt but he means Nisbet and
Ninewells: the situation of the places leads us to that conjecture.

"I have reason to believe, notwithstanding the fact, as Ninewells lay
very near Berwick, our ancestors commonly paid contributions to the
governor of that place, and abstained from hostilities and were
prevented from ravages. There is, in Hayne's State Papers, a very
particular account of the ravages committed by an inroad of the English,
during the minority of Queen Mary.[6:1] Not a village, scarce a single
house in the Merse, but what is mentioned as burnt or overthrown, till
you come to Whitwater. East of the river, there was not one destroyed.
This reason will perhaps explain why, in none of the histories of that
time, even the more particular, there is any mention made of our
ancestors; while we meet with Wedderburn, Aiton, Manderston,
Cowdenknows, Sprot, and other cadets of Home.

"I have learned from my mother, that my father, in a lawsuit with
Hilton, claimed an old apprizing upon the lands of Hutton-Hall, upon
which there had been no deed done for 140 years. Hilton thought that it
must necessarily be expired; but my father was able to prove that,
during that whole time there had not been forty years of majority in the
family. He died soon after, and left my mother very young; so that there
was near 160 years during which there was not forty years of
majority.[6:2] Now we are upon this subject, I shall just mention to
you a trifle, with regard to the spelling of our name. The practice of
spelling Hume is by far the most ancient and most general till about the
Restoration, when it became common to spell Home contrary to the
pronunciation. Our name is frequently mentioned in Rymer's Foedera,
and always spelt Hume. I find a subscription of Lord Hume in the memoirs
of the Sidney family, where it is spelt as I do at present. These are a
few of the numberless authorities on this head.

"I wish the materials I give you were more numerous and more
satisfactory; but such as they are, I am glad to have communicated them
to you.--I am," &c.[7:1]

A competent authority in such matters gives the following partly
heraldic, partly topographical account of the Humes and their

"Hume of Ninewells, the family of the great historian, bore 'Vert a lion
rampant, argent, within a bordure or, charged with _nine wells_, or
springs, barry-wavy and argent.'

"The estate of Ninewells is so named from a cluster of springs of that
number. Their situation is picturesque. They burst forth from a gentle
declivity in front of the mansion, which has on each side a semicircular
rising bank, covered with fine timber, and fall, after a short time,
into the bed of the river Whitewater, which forms a boundary in the
front. These springs, as descriptive of their property, were assigned to
the Humes of this place, as a difference in arms from the chief of their

The scenes amidst which Hume passed his boyhood, and many of the years
of his later life, have subsequently, in the light of a national
literature, become a classic land, visited by strangers, with the same
feeling with which Hume himself trod the soil of Mantua. In his own
days, the elements of this literature were no less in existence; but it
was not part of his mental character to find any pleasing associations
in spots, remarkable only for the warlike or adventurous achievements
they had witnessed. Intellect was the material on which his genius
worked: with it were all his associations and sympathies; and what had
not been adorned by the feats of the mind had no charm in his eye. Had
he been a stranger of another land, visiting at the present, or some
later day, the scenes of the Lay and of Marmion, they would, without
doubt, like the land of Virgil, have lit in his mind some sympathetic
glow; but the scenes illustrated solely by deeds of barbarous warfare,
and by a rude illiterate minstrelsy, had nothing in them to rouse a
mind, which was yet far from being destitute of its own peculiar
enthusiasm. He had often, in his history, to mention great historical
events that had taken place in the immediate vicinity of his paternal
residence, and in places to which he could hardly have escaped, if he
did not court occasional visits. About six miles from Ninewells, stands
Norham castle. Three or four miles farther off, are Twisel bridge, where
Surrey crossed the Till to engage the Scots, and the other localities
connected with the battle of Flodden. In the same neighbourhood is
Holiwell Haugh, where Edward I. met the Scottish nobility, when he
professed himself to be the arbiter of the disputes between Bruce and
Baliol. In his notices of these spots, in connexion with the historical
events which he describes, he betrays no symptom of having passed many
of his youthful days in their vicinity, but is as cold and general as
when he describes Agincourt or Marston Moor; and it may safely be said,
that in none of his historical or philosophical writings does any
expression used by him, unless in those cases where a Scoticism has
escaped his vigilance, betray either the district or the country of his
origin.[9:1] Hume tells us, in his short autobiography, "My family was
not rich, and being myself a younger brother, my patrimony, according to
the mode of my country, was of course very slender. My father, who
passed for a man of parts, died when I was an infant, leaving me, with
an elder brother and a sister, under the care of our mother, a woman of
singular merit, who, though young and handsome, devoted herself entirely
to the rearing and education of her children." He says no more of his
education, than that he "passed through the ordinary course of education
with success." In a document which will be immediately quoted at length,
we find him speaking of having received the usual college education of
Scotland, which terminates when the student is fourteen or fifteen years
old. It is probable that he studied at the University of Edinburgh, in
the matriculation book of which the name of "David Home" appears, as
intrant of the class of William Scott, Professor of Greek, on 27th
February, 1723. Holding the year to commence on 1st January, which was
then the practice in Scotland, though not in England, he would be at
that time nearly twelve years old. The name does not appear in any of
the subsequent matriculation lists: it was probably not then the
practice for the student to be entered more than once, at the
commencement of his curriculum; and neither the name of Hume, nor of
Home, occurs in the list of graduates.

Of his method of studying, and of his habits of life, after he left the
university, as of his literary aspirations and projects, we fortunately
possess some curious notices in his correspondence. The earliest letter
written by Hume, known to be extant, is in a scroll which has been
apparently preserved by himself. It is addressed to Michael Ramsay, with
whom it will be seen, from the letters quoted in the course of this
work, that the friendship formed, when both were young, remained
uninterrupted and vigorous during their mature years. I have been unable
to discover any thing of the history of this Michael Ramsay, beyond what
may be gathered from the internal evidence supplied by the
correspondence. He must have been destined for the English Church, but
he appears not to have taken orders; as in a letter from Hume, which,
though undated, must have been written at an advanced period of both
their lives, he is addressed "Michael Ramsay, Esq." Writing on 5th June,
1764, he says to Hume, "I continue in the old wandering way in which I
have passed so much of my life, and in which it is likely I shall end
it." He appears to have had many connexions well to do in the world, and
to have died before the year 1779, leaving his papers in the possession
of a nephew having his own Christian name of Michael; which was also, it
may be observed, the name of the Chevalier Ramsay, of whom Hume's
correspondent was perhaps a relation.[12:1]


"_July 4, 1727._

"D{R} M.--I received all the books you writ of, and your Milton among
the rest. When I saw it, I perceived there was a difference betwixt
preaching and practising: you accuse me of niceness, and yet practise it
most egregiously yourself. What was the necessity of sending your
Milton, which I knew you were so fond of? Why, I lent your's and can't
get it. But would you not, in the same manner, have lent your own? Yes.
Then, why this ceremony and good breeding? I write all this to show you
how easily any action may be brought to bear the countenance of a fault.
You may justify yourself very well, by saying it was kindness; and I am
satisfied with it, and thank you for it. So, in the same manner, I may
justify myself from your reproofs. You say that I would not send in my
papers, because they were not polished nor brought to any form: which
you say is nicety. But was it not reasonable? Would you have me send in
my loose incorrect thoughts? Were such worth the transcribing? All the
progress that I made is but drawing the outlines, on loose bits of
paper: here a hint of a passion; there a phenomenon in the mind
accounted for: in another the alteration of these accounts; sometimes a
remark upon an author I have been reading; and none of them worth to any
body, and I believe scarce to myself. The only design I had of
mentioning any of them at all, was to see what you would have said of
your own, whether they were of the same kind, and if you would send any;
and I have got my end, for you have given a most satisfactory reason for
not communicating them, by promising they shall be told _vivâ voce_--a
much better way indeed, and in which I promise myself much satisfaction;
for the free conversation of a friend is what I would prefer to any
entertainment. Just now I am entirely confined to myself and library for
diversion since we parted.

               ----ea sola voluptus,
     Solamenque mali--[14:1]

And indeed to me they are not a small one: for I take no more of them
than I please; for I hate task-reading, and I diversify them at
pleasure--sometimes a philosopher, sometimes a poet--which change is not
unpleasant nor disserviceable neither; for what will more surely engrave
upon my mind a Tusculan disputation of Cicero's De Ægritudine Lenienda,
than an eclogue or georgick of Virgil's? The philosopher's wise man and
the poet's husbandman agree in peace of mind, in a liberty and
independency on fortune, and contempt of riches, power, and glory. Every
thing is placid and quiet in both: nothing perturbed or disordered.

     At secura quies, et nescia fallere vita----
     Speluncæ, vivique laci; at frigida Tempe,
     Mugitusque boum, mollesque sub arbore somnos
     Non absint.[14:2]

"These lines will, in my opinion, come nothing short of the instruction
of the finest sentence in Cicero: and is more to me, as Virgil's life is
more the subject of my ambition, being what I can apprehend to be more
within my power. For the perfectly wise man, that outbraves fortune, is
surely greater than the husbandman who slips by her; and, indeed, this
pastoral and saturnian happiness I have in a great measure come at just
now. I live like a king, pretty much by myself, neither full of action
nor perturbation,--_molles somnos_. This state, however, I can foresee
is not to be relied on. My peace of mind is not sufficiently confirmed
by philosophy to withstand the blows of fortune. This greatness and
elevation of soul is to be found only in study and contemplation--this
can alone teach us to look down on human accidents. You must allow [me]
to talk thus, like a philosopher: 'tis a subject I think much on, and
could talk all day long of. But I know I must not trouble you. Wherefore
I wisely practise my rules, which prescribe to check our appetite; and,
for a mortification, shall descend from these superior regions to low
and ordinary life; and so far as to tell you, that John has bought a
horse: he thinks it neither cheap nor dear. It cost six guineas, but
will be sold cheaper against winter, which he is not resolved on as yet.
It has no fault, but bogles a little. It is tolerably well favoured, and
paces naturally. Mamma bids me tell you, that Sir John Home is not going
to town; but he saw Eccles in the country, who says he will do nothing
in that affair, for he is only taking off old adjudications, so it is
needless to let him see the papers. He desires you would trouble
yourself to inquire about the Earle's affairs, and advise us what to do
in this affair.

"If it were not breaking the formal rule of connexions I have prescribed
myself in this letter--and it did not seem unnatural to raise myself
from so low affairs as horses and papers, to so high and elevate things
as books and study--I would tell you that I read some of Longinus
already, and that I am mightily delighted with him. I think he does
really answer the character of being the great sublime he describes. He
delivers his precepts with such force, as if he were enchanted with the
subject; and is himself an author that may be cited for an example to
his own rules, by any one who shall be so adventurous as to write upon
his subject."[16:1]

This is certainly a remarkable letter to have been written by a youth
little more than sixteen years old. If it had been written by one less
distinguished by the originality of his mature intellect, it might be
looked upon as one of those illustrations of the faculty of imitation,
for which some young persons display peculiar powers; but its grave and
high-toned philosophical feeling is evidently no echo of other people's
words, but the deeply felt sentiments of the writer. In some measure,
perhaps, he deceived himself in believing that he had attuned his mind
to pastoral simplicity, and had weeded it of all ambitious longings. If
he had a sympathy with Virgil, it was not, as he has represented, with
the poet's ideas of life, but with his realizations of it; not with the
quiet sphere of a retired and unnoticed existence, but with the lustre
of a well-earned fame. Through the whole, indeed, of the memorials of
Hume's early feelings, we find the traces of a bold and far-stretching
literary ambition; and though he believed that he had seared his mind to
ordinary human influences, it was because this one had become so
engrossing as to overwhelm all others. "I was seized very early," he
tells us, in his 'own life,' "with a passion for literature, which has
been the ruling passion of my life, and a great source of my
enjoyments." Joined to this impulse, we find a practical philosophy
partaking far more of the stoical than of that sceptical school with
which his metaphysical writings have identified him; a morality of
self-sacrifice and endurance, for the accomplishment of great ends. In
whatever light we may view his speculative opinions, we gather from the
habits of his life, and from the indications we possess of his passing
thoughts, that he devotedly acted up to the principle, that his genius
and power of application should be laid out with the greatest prospect
of permanent advantage to mankind. He was an economist of all his
talents from early youth: no memoir of a literary man presents a more
cautious and vigilant husbandry of the mental powers and acquirements.
There is no instance of a man of genius who has wasted less in idleness
or in unavailing pursuits. Money was not his object, nor was temporary
fame; though, of the means of independent livelihood, and a good repute
among men, he never lost sight: but his ruling object of ambition,
pursued in poverty and riches, in health and sickness, in laborious
obscurity and amidst the blaze of fame, was to establish a permanent
name, resting on the foundation of literary achievements, likely to live
as long as human thought endured, and mental philosophy was studied.

There is among Hume's papers a fragment of "An Historical Essay on
Chivalry and Modern Honour." It is evidently a clean copy from a
corrected scrawl, written with great precision and neatness, and no
despicable specimen of caligraphy. From the pains that appear to have
been bestowed on the penmanship, and from many rhetorical defects and
blemishes which do not appear in any of his published works, it may be
inferred that this is a production of very early years, and properly
applicable to this period of his life; although its matured thought, and
clear systematic analysis, might, in other circumstances, have indicated
it as the fruit of a mind long and carefully cultivated. It is scarcely
necessary to frame an excuse for quoting such a document on the present
occasion. It could not be legitimately incorporated with his works;
because, whatever is given to the public in that shape, is presumed to
consist of those productions which the author himself, or those entitled
to represent him, have thought fit to lay before the public, as the
efforts by which the full stretch and compass of his intellectual powers
are to be tested. From such collections, the editor who performs his
functions with a kind and respectful consideration for the reputation of
the illustrious dead, will exclude whatever is characterized by the
crudeness of youth, or the feebleness of superannuation. To the
reputation of Hume it would be peculiarly unjust to publish among his
acknowledged and printed works, any productions of extreme youth;
because, from his earliest years to an advanced period of his life, his
mind was characterized by constant improvement, and he was every now and
then reaching a point from which he looked back with regret and
disapprobation at the efforts of earlier years.

But in a biographical work, where the chief object is the tracing the
history of the author's mind, not the representation of its matured
efforts, these early specimens of budding genius have their legitimate
place, and receive that charitable consideration for the circumstances
in which they were written, which their author's reputation demands.

The essay commences with a sketch of the decline of virtue, and the
prevalence of luxury among the Romans; and describes their possession of
the arts which they had learned in their better days, when not seconded
by bravery and enterprise, as furnishing, like the fine clothes of a
soldier, a temptation to hostile cupidity. He then represents the
conquerors adapting themselves, after the manner peculiar to their own
barbarous state, to the habits and ideas of the civilized people whom
they had subdued. He represents the conquered people as sunk in
indolence, but imperfectly preserving the arts and elegancies
transmitted to them by their ancestors; and the conquerors full of
energy and activity, as the sources of whatever impulse was thereafter
given to thought or action. They "came with freshness and alacrity to
the business; and being encouraged both by the novelty of these subjects
and by the success of their arms, would naturally ingraft some new kind
of fruit on the ancient stock." He then proceeds with the following
train of reflections:--

"'Tis observable of the human mind, that when it is smit with any idea
of merit or perfection beyond what its faculties can attain, and in the
pursuit of which it uses not reason and experience for its guide, it
knows no mean, but as it gives the rein, and even adds the spur, to
every florid conceit or fancy, runs in a moment quite wide of nature.
Thus we find, when, without discretion, it indulges its devote terrors,
that working in such fairy-ground, it quickly buries itself in its own
whimsies and chimeras, and raises up to itself a new set of passions,
affections, desires, objects, and, in short, a perfectly new world of
its own, inhabited by different beings, and regulated by different laws
from this of ours. In this new world 'tis so possessed that it can
endure no interruption from the old; but as nature is apt still on every
occasion to recall it thither, it must undermine it by art, and retiring
altogether from the commerce of mankind, if it be so bent upon its
religious exercise, from the mystic, by an easy transition, degenerate
into the hermite. The same thing is observable in philosophy, which
though it cannot produce a different world in which we may wander, makes
us act in this as if we were different beings from the rest of mankind;
at least makes us frame to ourselves, though we cannot execute them,
rules of conduct different from those which are set to us by nature. No
engine can supply the place of wings, and make us fly, though the
imagination of such a one may make us stretch and strain and elevate
ourselves upon our tiptoes. And in this case of an imagined merit, the
farther our chimeras hurry us from nature, and the practice of the
world, the better pleased we are, as valuing ourselves upon the
singularity of our notions, and thinking we depart from the rest of
mankind only by flying above them. Where there is none we excel, we are
apt to think we have no excellency; and self-conceit makes us take every
singularity for an excellency.

"When, therefore, these barbarians came first to the relish of some
degree of virtue and politeness beyond what they had ever before been
acquainted with, their minds would necessarily stretch themselves into
some vast conceptions of things, which, not being corrected by
sufficient judgment and experience, must be empty and unsolid. Those who
had first bred these conceptions in them could not assist them in their
birth, as the Grecians did the Romans; but being themselves scarce half
civilized, would be rather apt to entertain any extravagant misshapen
conceit of their conquerors, than able to lick it into any form. 'Twas
thus that that monster of romantic chivalry, or knight-errantry, by the
necessary operation of the principles of human nature, was brought into
the world; and it is remarkable that it descended from the Moors and
Arabians, who, learning somewhat of the Roman civility from the province
they conquered, and being themselves a southern people, which are
commonly observed to be more quick and inventive than the northern, were
the first who fell upon this vein of achievement. When it was once
broken upon it ran like wild-fire over all the nations of Europe, who,
being in the same situation with these nations, kindled with the least

"What kind of monstrous birth this of chivalry must prove, we may learn
from considering the different revolutions in the arts, particularly in
architecture, and comparing the Gothic with the Grecian models of it.
The one are plain, simple, and regular, but withal majestic and
beautiful, which when these barbarians unskilfully imitated, they ran
into a wild profusion of ornaments, and by their rude embellishments
departed far from nature and a just simplicity. They were struck with
the beauties of the ancient buildings; but, ignorant how to preserve a
just mean, and giving an unbounded liberty to their fancy in heaping
ornament upon ornament, they made the whole a heap of confusion and
irregularity. For the same reason, when they would rear up a new scheme
of manners, or heroism, it must be strangely overcharged with ornaments,
and no part exempt from their unskilful refinements; and this we find to
have been actually the case, as may be proven by running over the
several parts of it."

He then inquires into the reason, why courage is the principal virtue of
barbarous nations, and why they esteem deeds of heroism, however useless
or mischievous, as far more meritorious than useful efforts of
government or internal organization. He contrasts the heroism of the
barbarous periods of the ancient world, with those of the dark ages of
modern Europe; and finding the former selfish and aggrandizing, while
the latter is characterized by the more generous features of chivalry,
he thus accounts for this characteristic.

"The method by which these courteous knights acquired this extreme
civility of theirs, was by mixing love with their courage. Love is a
very generous passion, and well fitted both to that humanity and
courage they would reconcile. The only one that can contest with it is
friendship, which, besides that it is too refined a passion for common
use, is not by many degrees so natural as love, to which almost every
one has a great propensity, and which it is impossible to see a
beautiful woman, without feeling some touches of. Besides, as love is a
capricious passion, it is the more susceptible of these fantastic forms,
which it must take when it mixes with chivalry. Friendship is a solid
and serious thing, and, like the love of their country in the Roman
heroes, would dispel and put to flight all the chimeras, inseparable
from this spirit of adventure. So that a mistress is as necessary to a
cavalier or knight-errant, as a god or saint to a devotee. Nor would he
stop here, or be contented with a submiss reverence and adoration to one
of the sex, but would extend in some degree the same civility to the
whole, and by a curious reversement of the order of nature, make them
the superior. This is no more than what is suitable to that infinite
generosity of which he makes profession. Every thing below him he treats
with submission, and every thing above him, with contumacy. Thus he
carries these double symptoms of generosity which Virgil makes mention
of into extravagance.

     Parcere subjectis et debellare superbos.

Hence arises the knight-errant's strong and irreconcileable aversion to
all giants, with his most humble and respectful submission to all
damsels. These two affections of his, he unites in all his adventures,
which are always designed to relieve distressed damsels from the
captivity and violence of giants.

"As a cavalier is composed of the greatest warmth of love, tempered with
the most humble submission and respect, his mistress's behaviour is in
every point the reverse of this; and what is conspicuous in her temper
is the utmost coldness along with the greatest haughtiness and disdain;
until at last, gratitude for the many deliverances she has met with, and
the giants and monsters without number that he has destroyed for her
sake, reduces her, though unwilling, to the necessity of commencing a
bride. Here the chastity of women, which, from the necessity of human
affairs, has been in all ages and countries an extravagant point of
honour with them, is run into still greater extravagance, that none of
the sexes may be exempt from this fantastic ornament.

"Such were the notions of bravery in that age, and such the fictions by
which they formed models of it. The effects these had on their ordinary
life and conversation was, first, an extravagant gallantry and adoration
of the whole female sex, and romantic notions of extraordinary
constancy, fidelity, and refined passion for one mistress. Secondly, the
introduction of the practice of single combat. How naturally this sprung
up from chivalry may easily be understood. A knight-errant fights, not
like another man full of passion and resentment, but with the utmost
civility mixed with his undaunted courage. He salutes you before he cuts
your throat; and a plain man, who understood nothing of the mystery,
would take him for a treacherous ruffian, and think that, like Judas, he
was betraying with a kiss, while he is showing his generous calmness and
amicable courage. In consequence of this, every thing is performed with
the greatest ceremony and order; and whenever either chance or his
superior bravery make either of them victorious, he generously gives his
antagonist his life, and again embraces him as his friend. When these
fantastic practices have come in use, the amazed world, who, merely
because there is nothing real in all this, must certainly imagine there
is a great deal, could not but look upon such a courteous enmity as the
most heroic and sublime thing in nature; and instead of punishing any
murder that might ensue, as the law directs in such cases, would praise
and applaud the murderer."[25:1]

Perhaps the reader of these passages will have come to the conclusion
that the powers of reason displayed in them are as bold and original as
the imagination is meagre and servile. The reflections on Gothic
architecture are the commonplace opinions of the day, uttered by one who
was singularly destitute of sympathy with the human intellect, in its
early efforts to resolve itself into symmetry and elegance; whose mind
shrunk from the contemplation of any work of man that did not bear the
stamp of high intellectual culture. The same want of sympathy with man
in his rude and grand, though inharmonious efforts, here attends both
the chivalric manners and the solemn architecture of the dark ages. Of
the former, he has made a cold, clear, unsympathizing, perhaps accurate
estimate. The latter, unless a large proportion of the architectural
enthusiasts of the present day have raised the taste of the age upon
false foundations, he utterly misappreciated.

It must have been about his seventeenth year that Hume commenced, and
abruptly relinquished the practical study of the law,--a curious episode
in his history, which he thus describes in his "own life:" "My studious
disposition, my sobriety, and my industry, gave my family a notion that
the law was a proper profession for me; but I found an insurmountable
aversion to every thing but the pursuits of philosophy and general
learning; and while they fancied I was poring upon Voet and Vinnius,
Cicero and Virgil were the authors which I was secretly devouring."

But this by no means gives the reader a full and faithful impression of
his motives. The passage calls up the vision of a contemplative, gentle,
unambitious youth, shrinking from the arid labours that lead to wealth
and distinction, and content to dream away his life in obscurity with
the companionship of his favourite books. The document already referred
to, and immediately to be quoted, shows that far other thoughts were in
his mind; that he did not shrink from the professional labours of the
bar, to sink into studious ease, but rejected them to encounter higher
and more arduous toils--that he did not drop passively from the path of
ambition opened to him, but deserted it for a higher and more
adventurous course. He had indeed already before him the prospect of
being a discoverer in philosophy, and his mind, crowded with the images
of his new system, could see nothing else in life worthy of pursuit.

Without this clue, Hume's aversion to the study of the law would have
been a problem not to be easily solved. Had he lived in the present day,
when the mass of statute and precedent that have accumulated even within
the narrow domain of Scottish law, have completely precluded those
luxurious digressions into the field of speculation and theory, which
characterized the legal practice of our ancestors, one might readily
comprehend the aversion of his fastidiously cultivated logical mind to
such hard and coarse materials. But a lawyer's library, in his days,
consisted of the classics, the philosophers of mind, and the civilians.
The advocate often commenced his pleadings with a quotation from the
young philosopher's favourite poet Virgil, and then digressed into a
speculative inquiry into the general principles of law and government:
the philosophical genius of Themis long soaring sublime, until at last,
folding her wings, she rested on some vulgar question about dry multures
or an irritancy of a tailzie, to the settlement of which the wide
principles so announced were applied. Surely that science, within the
boundaries of which the speculative spirit of Lord Kames had room for
its flights, could not have been rejected on the ground that it cramped
and restrained the faculty of generalizing.[28:1] Yet in a letter to
Smith, of 12th April, 1759, which shows that Hume retained his antipathy
to the study to an advanced period of his life, he says, "I am afraid of
Kames' Law Tracts. A man might as well think of making a fine sauce by a
mixture of wormwood and aloes, as an agreeable composition by joining
metaphysics and Scottish law. However, the book I believe has merit,
though few people will take the pains of inquiring into it."

In truth there appear to have been in Hume all the elements of which a
good lawyer is made: clearness of judgment, power of rapidly acquiring
knowledge, untiring industry, and dialectic skill; and, if his mind had
not been preoccupied, he might have fallen into that gulf in which many
of the world's greatest geniuses lie buried--professional eminence, and
might have left behind him a reputation limited to the traditional
recollections of the Parliament House, or associated with important
decisions. He was through life an able, clear-headed man of business,
and I have seen several legal documents written in his own hand and
evidently drawn by himself. They stand the test of general professional
observation; and their writer, by preparing documents of such a
character on his own responsibility, showed that he had considerable
confidence in his ability to adhere to the forms adequate for the
occasion. He talks of it as "an ancient prejudice industriously
propagated by the dunces in all countries, that _a man of genius is
unfit for business_;"[29:1] and he showed, in his general conduct
through life, that he did not choose to come voluntarily under this

His writings, however, bear but slight traces of his juridical studies.
In analysing the foundations of our notions of property, he criticises
some of the subtleties of the early civilians, but shows no more
intimate acquaintance with their works than any well-informed scholar of
the day might be supposed to exhibit. He shows no pleasure in dwelling
on matters connected with this study, but rather appears disposed to
release himself and his reader from a subject so little congenial to his
taste. The particular law of Scotland is one of those subjects to which
he would be careful to avoid a reference, as carrying with it that tone
of provincial thought and education which he was always anxious to
avoid. It may be perhaps an unfortunate result of this early prejudice
against the study of jurisprudence, that in after life he failed to
acquire that knowledge of the progress of the law of England, which
would have made his history much less amenable than it has been to
censorious criticism.

It is now time that the reader should be possessed of the document above
alluded to, as throwing much light on Hume's early studies and habits of
life; and it is here presented, without any introductory explanation, as
it first appeared to me in going through the papers in the possession of
the Royal Society.

_A Letter to a Physician._

"SIR,--Not being acquainted with this handwriting, you will probably
look to the bottom to find the subscription, and not finding any, will
certainly wonder at this strange method of addressing to you. I must
here in the beginning beg you to excuse it, and, to persuade you to read
what follows with some attention, must tell you, that this gives you an
opportunity to do a very good-natured action, which I believe is the
most powerful argument I can use. I need not tell you, that I am your
countryman, a Scotsman; for without any such tie, I dare rely upon your
humanity even to a perfect stranger, such as I am. The favour I beg of
you is your advice, and the reason why I address myself in particular to
you, need not be told,--as one must be a skilful physician, a man of
letters, of wit, of good sense, and of great humanity, to give me a
satisfying answer. I wish fame had pointed out to me more persons, in
whom these qualities are united, in order to have kept me some time in
suspense. This I say in the sincerity of my heart, and without any
intention of making a compliment; for though it may seem necessary,
that, in the beginning of so unusual a letter, I should say some fine
things, to bespeak your good opinion, and remove any prejudices you may
conceive at it, yet such an endeavour to be witty, would ill suit with
the present condition of my mind; which, I must confess, is not without
anxiety concerning the judgment you will form of me. Trusting, however,
to your candour and generosity, I shall, without further preface,
proceed to open up to you the present condition of my health, and to do
that the more effectually, shall give you a kind of history of my life,
after which you will easily learn why I keep my name a secret.

"You must know then that, from my earliest infancy, I found always a
strong inclination to books and letters. As our college education in
Scotland, extending little further than the languages, ends commonly
when we are about fourteen or fifteen years of age, I was after that
left to my own choice in my reading, and found it incline me almost
equally to books of reasoning and philosophy, and to poetry and the
polite authors. Every one who is acquainted either with the philosophers
or critics, knows that there is nothing yet established in either of
these two sciences, and that they contain little more than endless
disputes, even in the most fundamental articles. Upon examination of
these, I found a certain boldness of temper growing in me, which was not
inclined to submit to any authority in these subjects, but led me to
seek out some new medium, by which truth might be established. After
much study and reflection on this, at last, when I was about eighteen
years of age, there seemed to be opened up to me a new scene of thought,
which transported me beyond measure, and made me, with an ardour natural
to young men, throw up every other pleasure or business to apply
entirely to it. The law, which was the business I designed to follow,
appeared nauseous to me, and I could think of no other way of pushing my
fortune in the world, but that of a scholar and philosopher. I was
infinitely happy in this course of life for some months; till at last,
about the beginning of September, 1729, all my ardour seemed in a moment
to be extinguished, and I could no longer raise my mind to that pitch,
which formerly gave me such excessive pleasure. I felt no uneasiness or
want of spirits, when I laid aside my book; and therefore never imagined
there was any bodily distemper in the case, but that my coldness
proceeded from a laziness of temper, which must be overcome by
redoubling my application. In this condition I remained for nine months,
very uneasy to myself, as you may well imagine, but without growing any
worse, which was a miracle. There was another particular, which
contributed, more than any thing, to waste my spirits and bring on me
this distemper, which was, that having read many books of morality, such
as Cicero, Seneca, and Plutarch, and being smit with their beautiful
representations of virtue and philosophy, I undertook the improvement of
my temper and will, along with my reason and understanding. I was
continually fortifying myself with reflections against death, and
poverty, and shame, and pain, and all the other calamities of life.
These no doubt are exceeding useful, when joined with an active life,
because the occasion being presented along with the reflection, works it
into the soul, and makes it take a deep impression; but in solitude they
serve to little other purpose, than to waste the spirits, the force of
the mind meeting with no resistance, but wasting itself in the air, like
our arm when it misses its aim. This, however, I did not learn but by
experience, and till I had already ruined my health, though I was not
sensible of it. Some scurvy spots broke out on my fingers the first
winter I fell ill, about which I consulted a very knowing physician, who
gave me some medicine that removed these symptoms, and at the same time
gave me a warning against the vapours, which, though I was labouring
under at that time, I fancied myself so far removed from, and indeed
from any other disease, except a slight scurvy, that I despised his
warning. At last, about April 1730, when I was nineteen years of age, a
symptom, which I had noticed a little from the beginning, increased
considerably; so that, though it was no uneasiness, the novelty of it
made me ask advice; it was what they call a ptyalism or wateryness in
the mouth. Upon my mentioning it to my physician, he laughed at me, and
told me I was now a brother, for that I had fairly got the disease of
the learned. Of this he found great difficulty to persuade me, finding
in myself nothing of that lowness of spirit, which those who labour
under that distemper so much complain of. However upon his advice I went
under a course of bitters, and anti-hysteric pills, drank an English
pint of claret wine every day, and rode eight or ten Scotch miles. This
I continued for about seven months after.

"Though I was sorry to find myself engaged with so tedious a distemper,
yet the knowledge of it set me very much at ease, by satisfying me that
my former coldness proceeded not from any defect of temper or genius,
but from a disease to which any one may be subject. I now began to take
some indulgence to myself; studied moderately, and only when I found my
spirits at their highest pitch, leaving off before I was weary, and
trifling away the rest of my time in the best manner I could. In this
way, I lived with satisfaction enough; and on my return to town next
winter found my spirits very much recruited, so that, though they sank
under me in the higher flights of genius, yet I was able to make
considerable progress in my former designs. I was very regular in my
diet and way of life from the beginning, and all that winter made it a
constant rule to ride twice or thrice a-week, and walk every day. For
these reasons, I expected, when I returned to the country, and could
renew my exercise with less interruption, that I would perfectly
recover. But in this I was much mistaken; for next summer, about May
1731, there grew upon me a very ravenous appetite, and as quick a
digestion, which I at first took for a good symptom, and was very much
surprised to find it bring back a palpitation of heart, which I had felt
very little of before. This appetite, however, had an effect very
unusual, which was to nourish me extremely; so that in six weeks' time,
I passed from the one extreme to the other; and being before tall, lean,
and raw-boned, became on a sudden the most sturdy, robust,
healthful-like fellow you have seen, with a ruddy complexion and a
cheerful countenance. In excuse for my riding, and care of my health, I
always said that I was afraid of consumption, which was readily believed
from my looks, but now every body congratulated me upon my thorough
recovery. This unnatural appetite wore off by degrees, but left me as a
legacy the same palpitation of the heart in a small degree, and a good
deal of wind in my stomach, which comes away easily, and without any bad
_goût_, as is ordinary. However, these symptoms are little or no
uneasiness to me. I eat well; I sleep well; have no lowness of spirits,
at least never more than what one of the best health may feel from too
full a meal, from sitting too near a fire, and even that degree I feel
very seldom, and never almost in the morning or forenoon. Those who live
in the same family with me, and see me at all times, cannot observe the
least alteration in my humour, and rather think me a better companion
than I was before, as choosing to pass more of my time with them. This
gave me such hopes, that I scarce ever missed a day's riding, except in
the winter time; and last summer undertook a very laborious task, which
was to travel eight miles every morning, and as many in the forenoon, to
and from a mineral well of some reputation. I renewed the bitter and
anti-hysteric pills twice, along with anti-scorbutic juice, last
spring, but without any considerable effect, except abating the symptoms
for a little time.

"Thus I have given you a full account of the condition of my body; and
without staying to ask pardon, as I ought to do, for so tedious a story,
shall explain to you how my mind stood all this time, which on every
occasion, especially in this distemper, have a very near connexion
together. Having now time and leisure to cool my inflamed imagination, I
began to consider seriously how I should proceed in my philosophical
inquiries. I found that the moral philosophy transmitted to us by
antiquity laboured under the same inconvenience that has been found in
their natural philosophy, of being entirely hypothetical, and depending
more upon invention than experience: every one consulted his fancy in
erecting schemes of virtue and of happiness, without regarding human
nature, upon which every moral conclusion must depend. This, therefore,
I resolved to make my principal study, and the source from which I would
derive every truth in criticism as well as morality. I believe it is a
certain fact, that most of the philosophers who have gone before us,
have been overthrown by the greatness of their genius, and that little
more is required to make a man succeed in this study, than to throw off
all prejudices either for his own opinions or for those of others. At
least this is all I have to depend on for the truth of my reasonings,
which I have multiplied to such a degree, that within these three years,
I find I have scribbled many a quire of paper, in which there is nothing
contained but my own inventions. This, with the reading most of the
celebrated books in Latin, French, and English, and acquiring the
Italian, you may think a sufficient business for one in perfect health,
and so it would had it been done to any purpose; but my disease was a
cruel encumbrance on me. I found that I was not able to follow out any
train of thought, by one continued stretch of view, but by repeated
interruptions, and by refreshing my eye from time to time upon other
objects. Yet with this inconvenience I have collected the rude materials
for many volumes; but in reducing these to words, when one must bring
the idea he comprehended in gross, nearer to him, so as to contemplate
its minutest parts, and keep it steadily in his eye, so as to copy these
parts in order,--this I found impracticable for me, nor were my spirits
equal to so severe an employment. Here lay my greatest calamity. I had
no hopes of delivering my opinions with such elegance and neatness, as
to draw to me the attention of the world, and I would rather live and
die in obscurity than produce them maimed and imperfect.

"Such a miserable disappointment I scarce ever remember to have heard
of. The small distance betwixt me and perfect health makes me the more
uneasy in my present situation. It is a weakness rather than a lowness
of spirits which troubles me, and there seems to be as great a
difference betwixt my distemper and common vapours, as betwixt vapours
and madness. I have noticed in the writings of the French mystics, and
in those of our fanatics here, that when they give a history of the
situation of their souls, they mention a coldness and desertion of the
spirit, which frequently returns; and some of them, at the beginning,
have been tormented with it many years. As this kind of devotion depends
entirely on the force of passion, and consequently of the animal
spirits, I have often thought that their case and mine were pretty
parallel, and that their rapturous admirations might discompose the
fabric of the nerves and brain, as much as profound reflections, and
that warmth or enthusiasm which is inseparable from them.

"However this may be, I have not come out of the cloud so well as they
commonly tell us they have done, or rather began to despair of ever
recovering. To keep myself from being melancholy on so dismal a
prospect, my only security was in peevish reflections on the vanity of
the world and of all human glory; which, however just sentiments they
may be esteemed, I have found can never be sincere, except in those who
are possessed of them. Being sensible that all my philosophy would never
make me contented in my present situation, I began to rouse up myself;
and being encouraged by instances of recovery from worse degrees of this
distemper, as well as by the assurances of my physicians, I began to
think of something more effectual than I had hitherto tried. I found,
that as there are two things very bad for this distemper, study and
idleness, so there are two things very good, business and diversion; and
that my whole time was spent betwixt the bad, with little or no share of
the good. For this reason I resolved to seek out a more active life, and
though I could not quit my pretensions in learning but with my last
breath, to lay them aside for some time, in order the more effectually
to resume them. Upon examination, I found my choice confined to two
kinds of life, that of a travelling governor, and that of a merchant.
The first, besides that it is in some respects an idle life, was, I
found, unfit for me; and that because from a sedentary and retired way
of living, from a bashful temper, and from a narrow fortune, I had been
little accustomed to general companies, and had not confidence and
knowledge enough of the world to push my fortune, or to be serviceable
in that way. I therefore fixed my choice upon a merchant; and having got
recommendation to a considerable trader in Bristol, I am just now
hastening thither, with a resolution to forget myself, and every thing
that is past, to engage myself, as far as is possible, in that course of
life, and to toss about the world, from the one pole to the other, till
I leave this distemper behind me.

"As I am come to London in my way to Bristol, I have resolved, if
possible, to get your advice, though I should take this absurd method of
procuring it. All the physicians I have consulted, though very able,
could never enter into my distemper; because not being persons of great
learning beyond their own profession, they were unacquainted with these
motions of the mind. Your fame pointed you out as the properest person
to resolve my doubts, and I was determined to have somebody's opinion,
which I could rest upon in all the varieties of fears and hopes,
incident to so lingering a distemper. I hope I have been particular
enough in describing the symptoms to allow you to form a judgment; or
rather, perhaps, have been too particular. But you know it is a symptom
of this distemper, to delight in complaining and talking of itself. The
questions I would humbly propose to you are: Whether, among all those
scholars you have been acquainted with, you have ever known any affected
in this manner? Whether I can ever hope for a recovery? Whether I must
long wait for it? Whether my recovery will ever be perfect, and my
spirits regain their former spring and vigour, so as to endure the
fatigue of deep and abstruse thinking? Whether I have taken a right way
to recover? I believe all proper medicines have been used, and therefore
I need mention nothing of them."

The history of this eventful period in the mental biography of Hume, is
very briefly narrated in his "own life." Alluding to his adoption of the
life of a student, he says, "My very slender fortune, however, being
unsuitable to this plan of life, and my health being a little broken by
my ardent application, I was tempted, or rather forced, to make a very
feeble trial for entering into a more active scene of life. In 1734, I
went to Bristol, with some recommendations to eminent merchants, but in
a few months found that scene totally unsuitable to me."

I am sure the reader will sympathize with me in esteeming it a high
privilege to be the humble instrument of ushering into the world so
curious a piece of literary autobiography as that which he has just
perused. We are here admitted into the confessional. So secret is the
communication of thought by the writer to the receiver, that the latter,
who was made acquainted with so much of the internal meditations of the
former, was not to be allowed to know with what outward man this mind of
which he obtained a description was connected. The individual mind was
fully and minutely described--to what individual man this mind belonged
was to be preserved a profound secret. The writer shrunk from the
admission of any man to a participation with him in his
self-conferences, and he planned that by keeping his name a secret, the
link which would connect this knowledge of the inner to an acquaintance
with the outer man should be broken. We have surely in this an argument
in favour of the candour and explicitness of his narrative. He felt that
to be known, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, by the person he
addressed, would be a restraint on the freedom of his revelations--he
threw off this restraint, and we are entitled to infer that his letter
is a piece of full and candid self-examination. Every word of it, as it
was originally written, is here printed, and it will perhaps be admitted
that there is not one word of it that does not do honour to its writer.
To Aristotle and others it is attributed that they taught esoteric
doctrines to a chosen few--doctrines not to be promulgated to the world
at large, because they were likely to have a dangerous influence on
minds not skilfully trained for their reception. For any vestiges of
these hidden doctrines the world searches, anticipating that in them
will be found a nearer approach to that which the philosopher believed
in his own mind, as distinct from that which he desired to inculcate on
others. In all ages there has been a natural and a praiseworthy
curiosity to know the hidden thoughts of great teachers. Mankind in
general admit, that truth is what is valuable in all philosophy, and if
a man entertained thoughts in his own mind in any way different from
those which he taught, it has been a conclusion certainly quite
legitimate, that truth is more likely to be found in the former than in
the latter. But certainly there can hardly be found any other instance
in which a document, so likely to be the honest impress of a
philosopher's own mind, has been laid before the world; and it is an
attestation of the sincerity with which the opinions then in the course
of formation in his mind were believed.

But, independently of the philosophical value of the document, to be
thus admitted into the secrecy of the thoughts of a man ambitious of
high literary distinction, and who has attained his object, is a rare
privilege. The revelation, notwithstanding its foreboding tone, is
calculated to give far more pleasure than pain. The future, which seemed
to the desponding philosopher for a moment so dark, we know to have
brightened on him. Hume was of the happy few who lived to see their airy
castles substantially realized. Comparing what it reveals of the inner
man, with the subsequent history of his achievements, the picture
supplied by this fragment of autobiography is a happy one. We sympathize
with the aspiring dreams of the young man, without feeling that they
were afterwards doomed to disappointment. The immediate occasion of his
earnest appeal is undoubtedly one of despondency; but it was preceded by
hope, as we know it was followed by success; and notwithstanding this
passing cloud, it may fairly be pronounced, that though Hume enjoyed
through life more than the average portion of human happiness, he had no
moments of purer felicity than those in which, in the retirement of his
paternal home, he was sketching the airy outline of his subsequent

Perhaps the feature that will most forcibly strike the reader, is the
evidence of the deep-rooted ambition to found a philosophical
reputation, that seems to have filled the mind of the writer of this
document. The consciousness that the receiver of the paper must at once
perceive this circumstance, and the desire not to let a stranger
penetrate his aspiring thoughts, must have been the reasons of his
desire for secrecy: it was natural that one who had not entered the
lists to struggle for literary distinction, should wish to conceal how
strong and inextinguishable was his desire to obtain the prize. The
intensity of his anxiety on this subject seems to have made him, in
relation to his mind, what the ordinary hypochondriac is as to his
physical constitution. The desire to preserve the elements of
distinction was so intense, that it disturbed him with vain fears for
their disappearance. Feeling within him, at times, the consciousness of
possessing an original genius,--that it should depart from him, and that
his lot should be cast among that of ordinary mortals, with good
physical health and commonplace abilities, appeared to him the most
awful calamity which fate could have in store for him. Of the excellent
physical health which accompanied these unpleasant variations of his
mental capacity, he speaks with an almost sardonic scorn, as one who, in
the bitterness of being bereft of what is all in all to him, talks of
some paltry trifle which fortune in her sarcastic malice has chosen to
leave untouched. In short, the manner in which he speaks of the
departure of his cunning, must almost necessarily convey to the reader a
considerable portion of that ludicrous character which is always
presented by a scene in which a man appears to be dreadfully anxious
about the safety of that which either is of no importance, or is not in

It may be a question whether this strange letter was ever sent to its
destination, as the version from which it is here printed is not a rough
draught, but a neatly written copy, such as might have been prepared for
transmission. But this does not afford so full a presumption in Hume's
case, as it would in that of the average of literary men, as he seems to
have felt a sort of enjoyment in his earlier years in having his papers
neatly written out. The first name that suggested itself as that of the
person to whom the paper was addressed was Arbuthnot, whose fine genius
was just then flickering in the socket. But a more full consideration
showed to my satisfaction that it must have been destined for Dr. George
Cheyne, and that it was suggested by that eminent physician's
publication, in the preceding year, of "The English Malady; or, a
Treatise of Nervous Diseases of all kinds, as Spleen, Vapours, Lowness
of Spirits, Hypochondriacal Distempers, &c." There is a certain unison
of tone between Hume's letter and this book, that, added to other
coincidences, strongly impresses on the mind their connexion with each
other; and though it is perhaps necessary, before this is fully seen, to
enter into the whole tenor and tone of Cheyne's book, the reader will
perhaps find the following passage sufficient to render the conjecture

"It is a common observation, (and I think has great probability on its
side,) that fools, weak or stupid persons, heavy and dull souls, are
seldom much troubled with vapours or lowness of spirits. The
intellectual faculty, without all manner of doubt, has material and
animal organs, by which it mediately works, as well as the animal
functions. What they are, and how they operate, as I believe very few
know, so it is very little necessary to know them for my present
purpose. As a philosophical musician may understand proportions and
harmony, and yet never be in a condition to gratify a company with a
fine piece of music, without the benefit of sounds from proper organs,
so the intellectual operations (as long as the present union between
soul and body lasts) can never be performed in the best manner without
proper instruments. The works of imagination and memory, of study,
thinking, and reflecting, from whatever source the principle on which
they depend springs, must necessarily require bodily organs. Some have
these organs finer, quicker, more agile, and sensible, and perhaps more
numerous than others; brute animals have few or none, at least none that
belong to reflection; vegetables certainly none at all. There is no
account to be given how a disease, a fall, a blow, a debauch, poisons,
violent passions, astral and aerial influences, much application, and
the like, should possibly alter or destroy these intellectual operations
without this supposition. It is evident, that in nervous distempers, and
a great many other bodily diseases, these faculties and their operations
are impaired, nay, totally ruined and extinguished to all appearance;
and yet, by proper remedies, and after recovery of health, they are
restored and brought to their former state. Now, since this present age
has made efforts to go beyond former times, in all the arts of
ingenuity, invention, study, learning, and all the contemplative and
sedentary professions, (I speak only here of our own nation, our own
times, and of the better sort, whose chief employments and studies these
are,) the organs of these faculties being thereby worn and spoiled, must
affect and deaden the whole system, and lay a foundation for the
diseases of lowness and weakness. Add to this, that those who are
likeliest to excel and apply in this manner, are most capable and most
in hazard of following that way of life which I have mentioned, as the
likeliest to produce these diseases. Great wits are generally great
epicures, at least, men of taste. And the bodies and constitutions of
one generation are still more corrupt, infirm, and diseased, than those
of the former, as they advance in time and the use of the causes

Then there are the farther coincidences, that Cheyne was a Scotsman,
that he was an eminent man in his profession, and that he had bestowed
some attention on mental philosophy. "I passed my youth," he tells us,
"in close study, and almost constant application to the abstracted
sciences, wherein my chief pleasure consisted." "Having," he elsewhere
says, "had a liberal education, with the instruction and example of
pious parents, (who at first had designed me for the church,) I had
preserved a firm persuasion of the great and fundamental principles of
all virtue and morality: viz. the existence of a supreme and infinitely
perfect Being, the freedom of the will, the immortality of the spirits
of all intellectual beings, and the certainty of future rewards or
punishments. These doctrines I had examined carefully, and had been
confirmed in, from abstracted reasonings, as well as from the best
natural philosophy, and some clearer knowledge of the material system of
the world in general, and the wisdom, fitness, and beautiful contrivance
of particular things animated and inanimated; so that the truth and
necessity of these principles was so riveted in me, (which may be seen
by the first edition of my 'Philosophical Principles,' published some
years before that happened,[45:1]) as never after to be shaken in all my
wanderings and follies."[45:2] It may be mentioned also, as a
circumstance likely to bring Cheyne's work early under Hume's
observation, that it contains a long statement of the case of Dr.
William Cranstoun, an eminent medical man then residing at Jedburgh, in
the same district of country with Ninewells.


[1:1] Old Style.

[1:2] He is entered in the list of members on 23d June, 1705, as "Mr.
Joseph Hume of Ninewalls." It thus appears that the orthography of the
name adopted by his son, and which will be found to have been so much
the subject of dispute, was not a novelty to the family.

[2:1] Both the "Peerage" and the "Baronage" of Scotland, by Robert
Douglas, are well known to Scottish genealogical antiquaries. The former
was published in 1764. The latter, in which there is a brief account of
the Ninewells' family, in 1798.

[4:1] In connexion with this, it is not uninteresting to view Hume's
opinions on the philosophy of family pride. He says, in the Treatise of
Human Nature, Book ii. p. i. sect. 9.--"'Tis evident that, when any one
boasts of the antiquity of his family, the subjects of his vanity are
not merely the extent of time and number of ancestors, but also their
riches and credit, which are supposed to reflect a lustre on himself on
account of his relation to them. He first considers these objects; is
affected by them in an agreeable manner; and then returning back to
himself, through the relation of parent and child, is elevated with the
passion of pride, by means of the double relation of impressions and
ideas. Since, therefore, the passion depends on these relations,
whatever strengthens any of the relations must also increase the
passion, and whatever weakens the relations must diminish the passion.
Now 'tis certain the identity of the possession strengthens the relation
of ideas arising from blood and kindred, and conveys the fancy with
greater facility from one generation to another, from the remotest
ancestors to their posterity, who are both their heirs and their
descendants. By this facility the impression is transmitted more entire,
and excites a greater degree of pride and vanity."

[6:1] The document is quoted in Book ii. of Robertson's History of

[6:2] A tragic incident occurred in the year 1683, in which Hume of
Ninewells, and Johnston of Hilton, were victims to the revengeful
passions of a brother of the Earl of Home, vented under circumstances of
singular treachery and inhospitality. It is thus narrated in Law's
Memorials, p. 259. "December, 1683, about the close of that moneth, the
Earl himself being from home, the Lairds of Hilton and Nynhools came to
make a visit to the Earl of Home his house, and went to dice and cards
with Mr. William Home, the Earl's brother. Some sharp words fell amongst
them at their game, which were not noticed, as it seemed to them; yet,
when the two gentlemen were gone to their bed-chambers, the foresaid Mr.
William comes up with his sword and stabs Hilton with nine deadly
wounds, in his bed, that he dies immediately; and wounds Nynhools
mortally, so that it was thought he could not live, and immediately took
horse and fled into England--a treacherous and villanous act done to two
innocent gentlemen, the fruits of dicing and card gaming."

"Joseph Johnstone of Hilton was stabbed by Mr. William, brother to
Charles earle of Hume. Hilton being of a lofty temper, had given Mr.
Hume bad words in his own house of Hilton, and a box on the ear. . . .
And William Hume made his escape to England, on Hilton's horse. He was
after killed himself in the wars abroad."--Lord Fountainhall's Diary, p.

The editor of Law, Mr. Kirkpatrick Sharpe, appends the following farther
notices of this incident:--

"Before his death he is said to have returned to Scotland, smitten with
remorse, and anxious to obtain pardon of a near male relation of
Johnstone's, then residing in Edinburgh. This gentleman, in the dusk of
the evening, was called forth to the outside stairs of the house, to
speak with a stranger muffled in a cloak. As he proceeded along the
passage, the door being open, he recognised the murderer; and
immediately drawing his sword, rushed towards him, on which the other
leapt nimbly down from the stairs into the street, and was never again
seen in Scotland." These events were made the subject of an amusing
sketch in _Chambers's Edinburgh Journal_, No. 569.

[7:1] Copy MS. communicated by Dr. Vallange, Portobello.

[8:1] Hist. and Allus. Arms, p. 400, where the information is derived
from Douglas's Baronage.

[9:1] Unless such allusions as the following be held as an exception:
"The north of England abounds in the best horses of all kinds which are
perhaps in the world. In the neighbouring counties, north side of the
Tweed, no good horses of any kind are to be met with." Essay on National
Characters. But he speaks fully as distinctly and specifically of local
matters in France or Spain.

The remarks in the text may probably be considered superfluous, being
applicable to by far the greater portion of literary men--as those who
have attempted to trace, from the internal evidence of their works, the
birthplaces of authors not commemorated by their contemporaries, can
testify. Thomson, also a borderer, and a poet of rural life, has
scarcely any allusion that bears a distinct reference to the scenery of
his childhood, and celebrates the heroism of almost every land but his
own. In that age, however, to be national in Scotland was to be
provincial in Britain; and unless an author chose to aim at the
restricted reputation of a Ramsay or a Pennecuik, he must carefully shun
allusions to his native country. But the very existence of this, as a
general characteristic, seems to render it worthy of notice in this
instance, which must certainly be held, like Thomson's, a peculiarly
marked illustration of this feature in literary history. Hume had
frequently to record events which had taken place close to his home; and
the whole of the surrounding district was full of traditional lore,
about the wild life of the borderers in the seventeenth century, which
would have afforded valuable materials for his history, and some of his
other works, had he been one of those who derive their knowledge from
men as well as from books. But these volumes will afford ample
opportunity for observing, that he required to place no great restraint
on his pen to keep it free of provincial allusions; and that, even in
his most familiar letters, though he often speaks of the friends of his
youth, he says nothing of the places in which he spent his early days.

[12:1] Among the Hume Papers in the possession of the Royal Society of
Edinburgh, there is a letter from the chevalier, addressed to "Monsieur
de Ramsay, à l'Hôtel de Provence, Rue de Condé, Faubourg St. Germain,"
dated 1st September, 1742. The receiver of this letter was probably the
correspondent of Hume, to whom it may have been sent, under the
impression that he was the person connected with the Vindication of the
Duchess of Marlborough, a book now well known to have been put into
shape by Hooke, the historian of Rome. The letter is in English; and it
shows that there are works of genius which the author of "The Travels of
Cyrus" had not taste to appreciate. He says:--

"I have read the first book of 'The History of Joseph Andrews,' but
don't believe I shall be able to finish the first volume. Dull burlesque
is still more insupportable than dull morality. Perhaps my not
understanding the language of low life in an English style is the reason
of my disgust; but I am afraid your Britannic wit is at as low an ebb as
the French. I hope to find some more amusement in my Lady Duchess of
Marlborough's adventures. They say a friend of ours has some hand in
them. I pity his misfortune, if he is obliged to stoop below his fine
genius and talents, to please an old rich dowager, that neither deserves
apology nor praise, and that would be too much honoured for her merit by
an ingenious fine satyr. I long to be in a condition to travel, that I
may see and embrace you, make acquaintance with your amiable young Lord,
and assure you both of the tender zeal, friendship, and attachment with
which I am your most humble and most obedient servant,

"The Ch. RAMSAY."

Perhaps the criticism on Fielding may not be thought inconsistent with
the man who pronounced Locke a shallow writer.

[14:1] Virg. Æn. iii. 660.


     At secura quies, et nescia fallere vita,
     Dives opum variarum: at latis otia fundis,
     Speluncæ, vivique lacus; at frigida Tempe,
     Mugitusque boum, mollesque sub arbore somni
     Non absunt.

                                Virg. Georg. ii. 467 et seq.

In the course of the correspondence which follows, there will be found
several quotations from the Latin classics. Hume's handwriting is so
distinct, that we can seldom have any doubt of the individual letters
written by him. At the same time, as he appears to have always quoted
from memory, there is sometimes a greater difference than even that
exhibited above, between the original and his version of it. I have
thought, that were I to attempt to correct his quotations, I would be
removing valuable data from which the reader may form an estimate of his
mental powers and his education. It will perhaps be allowed, that in
some instances he shows a fertile invention in substituting words for
those which his memory has failed to retain; while in others, as in the
above quotation, the fastidious critics of England will perhaps detect
traces of the more slovenly classical education of Scotland. In his
published works, Hume appears to have anxiously collated his quotations.
But in his letters he seems to have been always more anxious about the
judicious choice of his own expressions, than the accurate transcription
of the words of others. His letters appear to have been carefully
composed. He wrote in constant dread of falling into slovenly
colloquialisms of style, and was not ashamed to leave on his letters the
marks of this anxiety, in corrections and interlineations. This
peculiarity must be admitted to be at variance with the received canon
of the learned world, which excuses mistakes and clumsy expressions in
the vernacular language of a writer, but has no mercy for irregularities
in the use of the dead languages.

[16:1] From a scroll in the MSS. bequeathed by Baron Hume to the Royal
Society of Edinburgh.

An account of these MSS. will be found in the Preface. Henceforth, for
the sake of brevity, they will be referred to thus--MS. R.S.E. A part of
the above letter has been already printed in the _Literary Gazette_ for
1821, p. 762.

[25:1] It may be interesting to compare these extracts with his method
of treating the same subject at a later period of his life. The
following is taken from his Essay on the Feudal and Anglo-Norman
Government and Manners, in the two volumes of his History, first
published in 1762.

"The feudal institutions, by raising the military tenants to a kind of
sovereign dignity, by rendering personal strength and valour requisite,
and by making every knight and baron his own protector and avenger,
begat that martial pride and sense of honour, which, being cultivated
and embellished by the poets and romance writers of the age, ended in
chivalry. The virtuous knight fought not only in his own quarrel, but in
that of the innocent, of the helpless, and, above all, of the fair, whom
he supposed to be for ever under the guardianship of his valiant arm.
The uncourteous knight, who, from his castle, exercised robbery on
travellers, and committed violence on virgins, was the object of his
perpetual indignation; and he put him to death without scruple, or
trial, or appeal, whenever he met with him. The great independence of
men made personal honour and fidelity the chief tie among them, and
rendered it the capital virtue of every true knight, or genuine
professor of chivalry. The solemnities of single combat, as established
by law, banished the notion of every thing unfair or unequal in
rencounters, and maintained an appearance of courtesy between the
combatants till the moment of their engagement. The credulity of the age
grafted on this stock the notions of giants, enchanters, spells, and a
thousand wonders, which still multiplied during the time of the
crusades, when men, returning from so great a distance, used the liberty
of imposing every fiction on their believing audience. These ideas of
chivalry infected the writings, conversations, and behaviour of men
during some ages; and even after they were in a great measure banished
by the revival of learning, they left modern _gallantry_, and the _point
of honour_, which still maintain their influence, and are the genuine
offspring of those ancient affectations."

[28:1] Perhaps few authors afford so many curious illustrations of the
substitution of fanciful analogy for the severe logic of a practical
lawyer, as Lord Kames--_e. g._ when, in his essays on British
antiquities, he identifies hereditary descent with the law of
gravitation, and the inclination of the mind to continue downwards in a
straight line, as a stone falls from a height; so that, "in tracing out
a family, the mind descends by degrees from the father, first to the
eldest son, and so downwards in the order of age:" pleasant enough
speculations, yet not likely to serve any good purpose in practical law.

[29:1] Essay on Eloquence.

[45:1] Philosophical Principles of Natural Religion, 1705, 8vo.

[45:2] The English Malady, p. 330-331. I have run my eye over Cheyne's
"Natural Method of Curing Diseases of the Body and Mind," 1742,
8vo,--the only work I am aware of his having published subsequently to
the date of Hume's letter, but I have found in it no trace of a
reference to Hume's case. Cheyne's works are perhaps better known to the
public in general, than any medical books of the same period, and their
curious discursive contents amply repay perusal. Their science is of
course held to be completely superseded, but the unscientific reader
cannot help thinking that there is much sagacious good counsel in his
advice, notwithstanding the eccentric garrulity with which it is
uttered. His account of his own experiences, in experimenting on
himself, is the most interesting department of his medical observations.
He describes every thing with a sort of rude eloquence, infinitely more
pleasing to an ordinary reader than scientific precision; and the
recklessness with which he appears to have submitted his own carcass to
the most violent changes of regimen, inclines one to think that he had
applied towards it the _fiat experimentum in compore vili_. He tells us
that he was disposed to "corpulence by the whole race of one side" of
his family. In the quotation given above, he represents himself as
having been studious in his youth. He began to practise his profession
in London, of which he says--"The number of fires, sulphurous and
bituminous; the vast expense of tallow and foetid oil in candles and
lamps, under and above ground; the clouds of stinking breaths and
perspiration, not to mention the ordure of so many diseased, both
intelligent and unintelligent animals; the crowded churches,
churchyards, and burying places, with putrifying bodies, the sinks,
butcher houses, stables, dunghills, and the necessary stagnation,
fermentation, and mixture of all variety of all kinds of atoms, are more
than sufficient to putrify, poison, and infect the air, for twenty miles
round it." Having come from the fresh air of the country into so hopeful
an atmosphere, he seems to have resolved that his habit of living should
be an equally great contrast to his previous studious abstinence. "Upon
my coming to London, I all of a sudden changed my whole manner of
living. I found the bottle-companions, the younger gentry, and
free-livers, to be the most easy of access, and most quickly susceptible
of friendship and acquaintance,--nothing being necessary for that
purpose but to be able to eat lustily, and swallow down much liquor; and
being naturally of a large size, a cheerful temper, and tolerable lively
imagination; and having, in my country retirement, laid in store of
ideas and facts,--by these qualifications I soon became caressed by
them, and grew daily in bulk, and in friendship with these gay gentlemen
and their acquaintances. I was tempted to continue this course, no
doubt, from a liking, as well as to force a trade, which method I had
observed to succeed with some others: and thus constantly dining and
supping in taverns, and in the houses of my acquaintances of taste and
delicacy, my health was in a few years brought into great distress, by
so sudden and violent a change. I grew excessively fat, short-breathed,
lethargic, and listless."

The consequences were "a constant, violent headach, giddiness, lowness,
anxiety, and terror," and he went about "like a malefactor condemned, or
one who expected every moment to be crushed by a ponderous instrument of
death hanging over his head." These evil symptoms prompted him to
abandon suppers and restrict himself to a small quantity of animal food
and of fermented liquors. He very naturally found that on this abrupt
change all his "bouncing, protesting, and undertaking companions"
forsook him, and "dropped off like autumnal leaves," leaving him to
vegetate in temperate dreariness, while they "retired to comfort
themselves with a cheer-up cup," so that he pathetically tells us, "I
was forced to retire into the country quite alone, being reduced to the
state of Cardinal Wolsey, when he said, that if he had served his Maker
as faithfully and warmly as he had his prince, he would not have
forsaken him in that extremity."

It would be difficult to follow out the multitudinous course of remedies
he adopted, commencing with "volatiles, foetids, bitters, chalybeats,
and mineral waters," and how he took twenty grains of "what is called
the prince's powder," and "had certainly perished under the operation,
but for an over-dose of laudanum after it," having thus experienced
something like the good fortune of the man of Thessaly who leaped into a
quickset hedge. Under these circumstances he felt his body "melting away
like a snow-ball in summer." Having tried the Bath waters, he appears to
have somewhat revived, whereupon by increasing his quantity of "animal
food and strong liquors," he was "heated so," that he "apprehended a
hectic." His next change was to a milk diet, in which experiment he was
confirmed by a visit to Dr. Taylor of Croydon, its apostle, whom he
found "at home, at his full quart of cow's milk, which was all his
dinner." He found in consequence of this change, that he "increased in
spirits, strength, appetite and gaiety," until, the old Adam struggling
within him, he "began to find a craving and insufferable longing for
more solid and toothsome food, and for higher and stronger liquors."
Hereupon we have him getting more generous in his diet, but still, as he
counts it, "sober, moderate, and plain," in so far as he "drank not
above a quart or three pints at most of wine any day." Under this
regimen, he says, "I swelled to such an enormous size, that upon my last
weighing I exceeded thirty-two stones." Then came fits of various kinds,
and a dreary period of hypochondria, with recurrences to the low diet
system, and then such startling revulsions from it as the following: "I
resolved to change my half pint of port at dinner, into the same
quantity of Florence. I ate, at the same time, a good deal of more
butter with my vegetables, and plenty of old rich cheese; and likewise
nuts extremely--I procured from abroad and at home, great plenty of all
kinds, as filberts, walnuts, chestnuts, almonds, &c., eating them in
great quantities after dinner by way of dessert," but in pity to the
digestive sympathies of the reader this subject must be dropped. Dr.
Cheyne is--not the martyr, but the hero of dyspepsia, and Mrs. Radcliffe
could not have drawn him through a longer series of horrors than his
inventive genius seems to have created for himself.


1734-1739. ÆT. 23-27.

     Hume leaves Bristol for France--Paris--Miracles at the Tomb of
     the Abbé Paris--Rheims--La Flêche--Associations with the Abbé
     Pluche and Des Cartes--Observations on French Society and
     Manners--Story of La Roche--Return to Britain.--Correspondence
     with Henry Home--Publication of the first and second volume of
     The Treatise of Human Nature--Character of that Work--Its
     Influence on mental Philosophy.

We have no account of Hume's sojourn in Bristol, except his own very
brief statement, that "in a few months," he "found that scene totally
unsuitable" to him.[48:1] He must have proceeded to France about the
middle of the year 1734, and he thus describes in his "own life," his
motives and intentions. "I went over to France, with a view of
prosecuting my studies in a country retreat; and I there laid that plan
of life, which I have steadily and successfully pursued. I resolved to
make a very rigid frugality supply my deficiency of fortune, to
maintain unimpaired my independency, and to regard every object as
contemptible, except the improvement of my talents in literature."

His subsequent letters show that he proceeded in the first instance to
Paris, where he remained for a short time. Not long before his arrival
there, some occurrences had taken place which were afterwards
prominently referred to in his philosophical writings. A Jansenist,
distinguished by his sanctity and the wide circle of his charities--the
Abbé Paris, having died, a tomb was erected over his remains in the
cemetery of St. Médard. Thither the poor, whom the good man had
succoured in life, repaired to bless his memory and pray for the state
of his soul. But it was discovered that this devotion was speedily
rewarded; for the sick were cured, the blind saw, all manner of miracles
were performed; and the evidence of their genuineness was considered so
satisfactory, that the Jesuits were never able to impugn them--an
instance which it might be well for every one to recall to mind who is
told of phenomena out of the ordinary course of nature being
authenticated by the testimony of respectable and enlightened people. At
length, this series of miracles became offensive to the
government--there was no saying how far the matter might proceed. It was
resolved that there should be no more miracles performed at the tomb of
the Abbé Paris: the gates of the cemetery were closed, and the miracles
necessarily came to an end. This occurred in the year 1732, just two
years before Hume's visit; and it will easily be imagined that the
references to these wonderful events which he would hear in
conversation, suggested many trains of thought to the young philosopher.
It was not long afterwards, and probably while all this was very fresh
in his memory, that the principal theory of his Essay on Miracles was
suggested to him. In that Essay he says:

"Many of the miracles of Abbé Paris were proved immediately by witnesses
before the officialty or bishop's court at Paris, under the eye of
Cardinal Noailles, whose character for integrity and capacity was never
contested even by his enemies.

"His successor in the archbishopric was an enemy to the Jansenists, and
for that reason promoted to the see by the court. Yet twenty-two rectors
or curés of Paris, with infinite earnestness, press him to examine those
miracles, which they assert to be known to the whole world, and
indisputably certain. But he wisely forbore."

And farther on:--

"No less a man than the Duc de Chatillon, a duke and peer of France, of
the highest rank and family, gives evidence of a miraculous cure,
performed upon a servant of his, who had lived several years in his
house with a visible and palpable infirmity.

"I shall conclude with observing, that no clergy are more celebrated for
strictness of life and manners than the secular clergy of France,
particularly the rectors or curés of Paris, who bear testimony to these

An illustration of his notice of what was passing around him in Paris,
occurs in the following passage in his "Natural History of Religion."

"I lodged once at Paris in the same hotel with an ambassador from Tunis,
who, having passed some years at London, was returning home that way.
One day I observed his Moorish excellency diverting himself under the
porch, with surveying the splendid equipages that drove along; when
there chanced to pass that way some Capucin friars, who had never seen
a Turk, as he, on his part, though accustomed to the European dresses,
had never seen the grotesque figure of a Capucin: and there is no
expressing the mutual admiration with which they inspired each other.
Had the chaplain of the embassy entered into a dispute with these
Franciscans, their reciprocal surprise had been of the same nature. Thus
all mankind stand staring at one another; and there is no beating it
into their heads, that the turban of the African is not just as good or
as bad a fashion as the cowl of the European.--'He is a very honest
man,' said the Prince of Sallee, speaking of De Ruyter; 'it is a pity he
were a Christian.'"

After leaving Paris, he resided at Rheims in the province of Champagne,
about eighty miles north-east of the metropolis. Thence he addressed to
his friend Michael Ramsay the following letter, full of observation and


"_Rheims, September 12, 1734._

"MY DEAR MICHAEL,--I suppose you have received two letters from me,
dated at Paris, in one of which was enclosed a letter to my Lord Stair.
I am now arrived at Rheims, which is to be the place of my abode for
some considerable time, and where I hope both to spend my time happily
for the present, and lay up a stock for the future. It is a large town,
containing about forty thousand inhabitants, and has in it about thirty
families that keep coaches, though, by the appearance of the houses, you
would not think there was one. I am recommended to two of the best
families in town, and particularly to a man, who they say is one of the
most learned in France.[52:1] He is just now in the country, so that I
have not yet seen him; though, if I had seen him, it would be some time
before I could contract a friendship with him, not being yet sufficient
master of the language to support a conversation; which is a great
vexation to me, but which I hope in a short time to get over. As I have
little more than this to say about business, I shall use the freedom to
entertain you with any idle thoughts that come into my head, hoping at
least you will excuse them, if not be pleased with them, because they
come from an absent friend.

"When I parted from Paris, the Chevalier Ramsay gave me as his advice,
to observe carefully, and imitate as much as possible, the manners of
the French. For, says he, though the English, perhaps, have more of the
real politeness of the heart, yet the French certainly have the better
way of expressing it. This gave me occasion to reflect upon the matter,
and in my humble opinion it is just the contrary: viz., that the French
have more real politeness, and the English the better method of
expressing it. By real politeness I mean softness of temper, and a
sincere inclination to oblige and be serviceable, which is very
conspicuous in this nation, not only among the high but low; in so much
that the porters and coachmen here are civil, and that, not only to
gentlemen, but likewise among themselves; so that I have not yet seen
one quarrel in France, though they are every where to be met with in
England.[53:1] By the expressions of politeness, I mean those outward
deferences and ceremonies which custom has invented, to supply the
defect of real politeness or kindness, that is unavoidable towards
strangers, or indifferent persons, even in men of the best dispositions
in the world. These ceremonies ought to be so contrived, as that, though
they do not deceive nor pass for sincere, yet still they please by their
appearance, and lead the mind by its own consent and knowledge into an
agreeable delusion. One may err by running into either of the two
extremes; that of making them too like truth or too remote from it:
though we may observe, that the first is scarce possible, because
whenever any expression or action becomes customary, it can deceive
nobody. Thus, when the Quakers say, 'your friend,' they are as easily
understood, as another, that says, 'your humble servant.' The French err
in the contrary extreme, that of making their civilities too remote from
truth, which is a fault, though they are not designed to be believed;
just as it is a transgression of rules in a dramatic poet to mix any
improbabilities with his fable, though 'tis certain that, in the
representation, the scenes, lights, company, and a thousand other
circumstances, make it impossible he can ever deceive.

"Another fault I find in the French manners, is that, like their clothes
and furniture, they are too glaring. An English fine gentleman
distinguishes himself from the rest of the world, by the whole tenor of
his conversation, more than by any particular part of it; so that though
you are sensible he excels, you are at a loss to tell in what, and have
no remarkable civilities and compliments to pitch on as a proof of his
politeness. These he so smooths over, that they pass for the common
actions of life, and never put you to[55:1] trouble of returning thanks
for them. The English politeness is always greatest where it appears

"After all, it must be confessed that the little niceties of French
behaviour, though troublesome and impertinent, yet serve to polish the
ordinary kind of people, and prevent rudeness and brutality. For in the
same manner as soldiers are found to become more courageous in learning
to hold their muskets within half an inch of a place appointed; and your
devotees feel their devotion increase by the observance of trivial
superstitions, as sprinkling, kneeling, crossing, &c.; so men insensibly
soften towards each other in the practice of these ceremonies. The mind
pleases itself by the progress it makes in such trifles, and while it is
so supported, makes an easy transition to something more material. And I
verily believe it is for this reason that you scarce ever meet with a
clown or an ill-bred man in France.

"You may perhaps wonder that I, who have stayed so short time in France,
and who have confessed that I am not master of their language, should
decide so positively of their manner. But you will please to observe,
that it is with nations as with particular men, where one trifle
frequently serves more to discover the character, than a whole train of
considerable actions. Thus, when I compare our English phrase of 'humble
servant,' which likewise we omit upon the least intimacy, with the
French one of 'the honour of being your most humble servant,' which they
never forget,--this, compared with other circumstances, lets me clearly
see the different humours of the nations. This phrase, of the honour of
doing or saying such a thing to you, goes so far, that my washing-woman
to-day told me, that she hoped she would have the honour of serving me
while I staid at Rheims; and what is still more absurd, it is said by
people to those who are very much their inferiors.

"Before I conclude my letter, I must tell you that I hope you will
excuse my rudeness, if I use the freedom (?)[56:1] to desire of you
that, the next time you do me the honour of writing to me, you will be
so good as to sit down a day before the post goes away; for I cannot
help being afraid that, in your haste, you have omitted many things,
which otherwise I would have had the honour and satisfaction of hearing
from you. When you are so good as to condescend to write, please to
direct so:--'A Monsieur--Monsieur David Hume, gentilhomme, Ecossois,
chez Monsieur Mesier, au Peroquet verd, proche la porte au Ferron,

Hume states, in his "own life," that he passed "three years" very
agreeably in France. We find from a letter to Principal Campbell,[57:1]
that two of these years were spent at La Flêche, and that he had some
communication with the members of the Jesuits' College there. He says,
"It may perhaps amuse you to learn the first hint, which suggested to me
that argument which you have so strenuously attacked. I was walking in
the cloisters of the Jesuits' College of La Flêche, a town in which I
passed two years of my youth, and engaged in a conversation with a
Jesuit of some parts and learning, who was relating to me, and urging
some nonsensical miracle performed lately in their convent, when I was
tempted to dispute against him; and as my head was full of the topics of
my Treatise of Human Nature, which I was at that time composing, this
argument immediately occurred to me, and I thought it very much
gravelled my companion; but at last he observed to me, that it was
impossible for that argument to have any solidity, because it operated
equally against the Gospel as the Catholic miracles;--which observation
I thought proper to admit as a sufficient answer. I believe you will
allow, that the freedom at least of this reasoning makes it somewhat
extraordinary to have been the produce of a convent of Jesuits, though
perhaps you may think the sophistry of it savours plainly of the place
of its birth."

This same Jesuits' College of La Flêche, is familiar to the
philosophical reader as the seminary in which Des Cartes was educated.
The place which Hume had just left, has been seen to be associated with
the birth and residence of a distinguished opponent of the Cartesian
theory. We now find him perfecting his work in that academic solitude,
where Des Cartes himself was educated, and where he formed his theory of
commencing with the doubt of previous dogmatic opinions, and framing for
himself a new fabric of belief. The coincidence is surely worthy of
reflective association, and it is perhaps not the least striking
instance of Hume's unimaginative nature, that in none of his works,
printed or manuscript, do we find an allusion to the circumstance, that
while framing his own theories, he trod the same pavement that had
upwards of a century earlier borne the weight of one whose fame and
influence on human thought was so much of the same character as he
himself panted to attain.

It is to Hume's early sojourn in France that we must assign the time and
the scene of Mackenzie's pleasant fiction, called the "Story of La
Roche," published in the Mirror of 1779. It is generally admitted that
the writer's materials were merely the character and habits of the
philosopher, and that there was no groundwork for the narrative in any
incident that had actually occurred. But the story must be taken as the
observations of an acute perception, and a finely adjusted taste, upon
Hume's character; and our reliance on the accuracy of the picture is
enhanced by the circumstance that Smith, deceived by its air of reality,
expressed his wonder that Hume had never told him of the incident.[58:1]

The opening description is in these words:--

"More than forty years ago, an English philosopher, whose works have
since been read and admired by all Europe, resided at a little town in
France. Some disappointments in his native country had first driven him
abroad, and he was afterwards induced to remain there, from having found
in this retreat, where the connexions even of nature and language were
avoided, a perfect seclusion and retirement, highly favourable to the
development of abstract subjects, in which he excelled all the writers
of his time.

"Perhaps in the structure of such a mind as Mr. ----'s, the fine and
more delicate sensibilities are seldom known to have place; or, if
originally implanted there, are in a great measure extinguished by the
exertions of intense study and profound investigation. Hence the idea of
philosophy and unfeelingness being united, has become proverbial; and,
in common language, the former word is often used to express the latter.
Our philosopher had been censured by some, as deficient in warmth and
feeling: but the mildness of his manners has been allowed by all; and it
is certain, that if he was not easily melted into compassion, it was at
least not difficult to awaken his benevolence."

The impression of the actions of a kind, charitable, and tolerant
disposition, conveyed by the circumstances of the narrative, cannot be
represented without incorporating it in full; and it will probably be
thought that one or two passing sketches of character, such as the
above, are all that should be taken into a work like the present, from a
book accessible to every reader. Thus, when the housekeeper comes with
the account of the distresses of the poor protestant clergyman and his

"Her master laid aside the volume in his hand, and broke off the chain
of ideas it had inspired. His night-gown was exchanged for a coat, and
he followed his gouvernante to the sick man's apartment."


"La Roche found a degree of simplicity and gentleness in his companion,
which is not always annexed to the character of a learned or a wise man.
His daughter, who was prepared to be afraid of him, was equally
undeceived. She found in him nothing of that self-importance which
superior parts, or great cultivation of them, is apt to confer. He
talked of every thing but philosophy or religion; he seemed to enjoy
every pleasure and amusement of ordinary life, and to be interested in
the most common topics of discourse: when his knowledge or learning at
any time appeared, it was delivered with the utmost plainness, and
without the least shadow of dogmatism."

And not less distinctly are the following sentences the echo of
Mackenzie's own observations of the character and habits of the
philosopher, that they are put in the varied shape of dialogue and

"You regret, my friend," said [La Roche,] "when my daughter and I talk
of the exquisite pleasure derived from music, you regret your want of
musical powers and musical feelings; it is a department of soul, you
say, which nature has almost denied you, which, from the effects you see
it have on others, you are sure must be highly delightful. Why should
not the same thing be said of religion? Trust me, I feel it in the same
way, an energy, an inspiration, which I would not lose for all the
blessings of sense or enjoyments of the world. . . . . . And it would
have been inhuman in our philosopher to have clouded, even with a doubt,
the sunshine of this belief.

"His discourse was very remote from metaphysical disquisition or
religious controversy. Of all men I ever knew, his ordinary conversation
was the least tinctured with pedantry or liable to dissertation. With La
Roche and his daughter it was perfectly familiar. The country round
them, the manners of the villagers, the comparison of both with those of
England, remarks on the works of favourite authors, or the sentiments
they conveyed, and the passions they excited, with many other topics in
which there was an equality, or alternate advantage among the speakers,
were the subjects they talked on."

Nor can one, after having quoted so much, avoid giving the concluding
sentence, in which the philosopher contemplates the old clergyman's
grief for the loss of his daughter, and at the same time that he
perceives its bitterness and intensity, is made aware of the
consolations which the bereaved old man finds in religion, and "rejoices
that such consolation" is his.

"Mr. ----'s heart was smitten; and I have heard him long after confess,
that there were moments when the remembrance overcame him even to
weakness; when, amidst all the pleasures of philosophical discovery, and
the pride of literary fame, he recalled to his mind the venerable figure
of the good La Roche, and wished that he had never doubted."

The account of his sojourn in France is thus given in his "own
life:"--"During my retreat in France, first at Rheims, but chiefly at La
Flêche, in Anjou, I composed my 'Treatise of Human Nature.' After
passing three years very agreeably in that country, I came over to
London in 1737."

We must now follow him to London, where we find him occupied in carrying
his "Treatise of Human Nature," through the press. One of his early
friends was his namesake Henry Home, afterwards Lord Kames, who
pursued, but with unequal step, the same path with himself. Home was
fifteen years the elder of the two, and had joined the bar in 1723. He
had already published some of his professional works; but it was at a
subsequent period of his life, and when he perhaps became emulous of the
fame of his friend, that he attempted works in ethics, metaphysics, and
criticism. During many years of continued intimacy, these two
distinguished men enjoyed each other's mutual respect; but, in their
early intercourse, when his senior had for some time occupied a
prominent position in the eye of the public, we naturally find Hume
writing about his great project in a tone of modest deference.


"_London, December 2, 1737._

"DEAR SIR,--I am sorry I am not able to satisfy your curiosity by giving
you some general notion of the plan upon which I proceed. But my
opinions are so new, and even some terms I am obliged to make use of,
that I could not propose, by any abridgment, to give my system an air of
likelihood, or so much as make it intelligible. It is a thing I have in
vain attempted already, at a gentleman's request in this place, who
thought it would help him to comprehend and judge of my notions, if he
saw them all at once before him. I have had a greater desire of
communicating to you the plan of the whole, that I believe it will not
appear in public before the beginning of next winter. For, besides that
it would be difficult to have it printed before the rising of the
parliament, I must confess I am not ill pleased with a little delay,
that it may appear with as few imperfections as possible. I have been
here near three months, always within a week of agreeing with my
printers; and you may imagine I did not forget the work itself during
that time, where I began to feel some passages weaker for the style and
diction than I could have wished. The nearness and greatness of the
event roused up my attention, and made me more difficult to please, than
when I was alone in perfect tranquillity in France. But here I must tell
you one of my foibles. I have a great inclination to go down to Scotland
this spring to see my friends; and have your advice concerning my
philosophical discoveries; but cannot overcome a certain shamefacedness
I have to appear among you at my years, without having yet a settlement,
or so much as attempted any. How happens it that we philosophers cannot
as heartily despise the world as it despises us? I think in my
conscience the contempt were as well founded on our side as on the

"Having a franked letter, I was resolved to make use of it; and
accordingly enclose some '_Reasonings concerning Miracles_,'[63:1] which
I once thought of publishing with the rest, but which I am afraid will
give too much offence, even as the world is disposed at present. There
is something in the turn of thought, and a good deal in the turn of
expression, which will not perhaps appear so proper, for want of knowing
the context: but the force of the argument you'll be judge of, as it
stands. Tell me your thoughts of it. Is not the style too diffuse?
though, as that was a popular argument, I have spread it out much more
than the other parts of the work. I beg of you to show it to nobody,
except to Mr. Hamilton, if he pleases; and let me know at your leisure
that you have received it, read it, and burnt it. Your thoughts and mine
agree with respect to Dr. Butler, and I would be glad to be introduced
to him. I am at present castrating my work, that is, cutting off its
nobler parts; that is, endeavouring it shall give as little offence as
possible, before which, I could not pretend to put it into the Doctor's
hands. This is a piece of cowardice, for which I blame myself, though I
believe none of my friends will blame me. But I was resolved not to be
an enthusiast in philosophy, while I was blaming other enthusiasms. If
ever I indulge myself in any, 'twill be when I tell you that I am, dear
Sir, yours."[64:1]

Butler, to whom Hume is thus found desiring an introduction, had, in the
immediately preceding year, published "The Analogy of Religion, Natural
and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature;" and it appears
that Hume courted the attention of the author of that clear logical work
to those speculations of his own, which, in the opinion of the world in
general, have so opposite a tendency to that of the "Analogy." The
following letter, acknowledging an introduction from Home, and dated 4th
March, 1738, tells its own tale.

"I shall not trouble you with any formal compliments or thanks, which
would be but an ill return for the kindness you have done me in writing
in my behalf, to one you are so little acquainted with as Dr. Butler;
and, I am afraid, stretching the truth in favour of a friend. I have
called upon the Doctor, with a design of delivering him your letter,
but find he is at present in the country. I am a little anxious to have
the Doctor's opinion. My own I dare not trust to; both because it
concerns myself, and because it is so variable, that I know not how to
fix it. Sometimes it elevates me above the clouds; at other times, it
depresses me with doubts and fears; so that, whatever be my success, I
cannot be entirely disappointed. Somebody has told me that you might
perhaps be in London this spring. I should esteem this a very lucky
event; and notwithstanding all the pleasures of the town, I would
certainly engage you to pass some philosophical evenings with me, and
either correct my judgment, where you differ from me, or confirm it
where we agree. I believe I have some need of the one, as well as the
other; and though the propensity to diffidence be an error on the better
side, yet 'tis an error, and dangerous as well as disagreeable.--I am,

"I lodge at present in the Rainbow Coffeehouse, Lancaster Court."[65:1]

The transactions between authors and booksellers are seldom accompanied
by any formidable array of legal formalities; but Hume and his
publishers seem to have thought it necessary to bind each other in the
most stringent manner, to the performance of their respective
obligations, by "articles of agreement, made, concluded, and agreed,
upon the 26th day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand
seven hundred and thirty-eight, and in the twelfth year of the reign of
our sovereign lord King George the Second,--between David Hume of
Lancaster Court of the one part, and John Noone of Cheapside, London,
bookseller, of the other part." By this very precise document, it is
provided, that "the said David Hume shall and will permit and suffer the
said John Noone to have, hold, and enjoy, the sole property, benefit,
and advantage of printing and publishing the first edition of the said
book, not exceeding one thousand copies thereof." The author, in return,
receives £50, and twelve bound copies of the book.[66:1] The transaction
is on the whole creditable to the discernment and liberality of Mr.
Noone. It may be questioned, whether, in this age, when knowledge has
spread so much wider, and money is so much less valuable, it would be
easy to find a bookseller, who, on the ground of its internal merits,
would give £50 for an edition of a new metaphysical work, by an unknown
and young author, born and brought up in a remote part of the empire.
These articles refer to the first and second of the three volumes of the
"Treatise of Human Nature;" and they were accordingly published in
January, 1739. They include "Book I. Of the Understanding," and "Book
II. Of the Passions."

It has been generally and justly remarked, that the Treatise is among
the least systematic of philosophical works--that it has neither a
definite and comprehensive plan, nor a logical arrangement. It was,
indeed, so utterly deficient in the former--there was so complete a want
of any projected scope of subject which the author was bound to exhaust
in what he wrote--that an attempt to divide and subdivide the matter
after it had been written, according to a logical arrangement, would
only, as a sort of _experimentum crucis_, have exposed the imperfect
character of the original plan. The author, therefore, very discreetly
allowed his matter to be arranged as the subjects of which he treated
had respectively suggested themselves, and bestowed on his work a title
rather general than comprehensive,--a title, of which all that can be
said of its aptness to the subject is, that no part of his book can be
said to be wholly without it, while he might have included an almost
incalculable multitude of other subjects within it. He called it simply
"A Treatise of Human Nature;" and by a subsidiary title, explanatory
rather of his method than definitive of his matter, he called it "an
attempt to introduce the experimental method of reasoning into moral

The purely metaphysical,[67:1] and, at the same time, the most original
portion of the work, and that which has most conspicuously rendered
itself a constituent part of the literature of intellectual philosophy,
is "Book I. Of the Understanding." "Book II. Of the Passions," contains
mixed metaphysics and ethics, with occasional notices of phenomena,
which, though Hume does not, other writers would be likely to connect
with physiological inquiries. The third book, "Of Virtue and Vice in
General," published a year later, is of an ethical character, being an
inquiry into the origin and proper system of morals, and an application
of the system to government and politics.

The "Treatise of Human Nature" afforded materials for the criticism of
two very distinct classes of writers. The one consisted of men imbued
with a spirit of inquiry kindred to that of Hume, and a genius capable
of appreciating his services in the cause of truth; who, as the teachers
of systems of which they were themselves the architects, had to attack
or to defend the principles promulgated in the Treatise, according as
these differed from or corresponded with their own. It is in the
writings of these men that the true immortality of Hume as a philosopher
consists. Whether they find in him great truths to acknowledge, or
subtle and plausible errors to attack, they are the vital evidence of
the originality of his work, of the genius that inspired it, and of its
great influence on human thought and action. The other class of critics
are those who, in pamphlets, or works more ambitious but not rising in
real solidity above that fugitive class, or in occasional digressions
from other topics, have endeavoured to prejudice the minds of their
readers against the principles of the Treatise, by exaggeration, or by
the misapplication of their metaphysical doctrines to the proceedings of
every-day life,--a set of literary efforts of quick production and as
quick decay.

To the former class of authors, it is of course not within the scope of
the present writer's ambition to belong, and he sees no occasion to
attempt to imitate the latter. In a work, however, which professes to
give a life of David Hume, it is necessary to say something about the
"Treatise of Human Nature;" and as a preliminary to such an attempt, it
may be well to mark the boundaries within which the writer conceives
that the duty he has assumed calls on him for a description of the work,
neither impugning nor defending any of the opinions it sets forth.

It seems to be right that some attempt should be made to describe the
character and strength of the author's intellect, and the method of its
operations; and to give a view of the fundamental characteristic
principles by which he professes to distinguish his own philosophy from
that of other writers on metaphysical subjects. An attempt should also
be made to tell in what respect Hume has made incidental suggestions
which have either been admitted as new truths in metaphysics, or have,
as original but perhaps fallacious suggestions, afforded to other
thinkers the means of establishing truths. These being the general
objects to be kept in view, there is no intention to take them in any
precise order, or to exhaust them in remarks on this one work. To
attempt an analysis of the work would be out of place. There can be no
more repulsive matter for reading than condensed metaphysics; and
probably there is nothing less instructive than those abridgments,
which, necessarily suppressing the author's discursive arguments, appeal
almost entirely to the memory. To seize on and give a descriptive rather
than an analytical account of the prominent features of the system, will
be the chief aim of these remarks. Moreover, the Treatise bears on
subjects which are nearly all recalled in its author's subsequent works;
and while there are some things in the critical history of Hume's
opinions which may be appropriately viewed in connexion with his first
publication, there are others which it may be more expedient to examine
when he is found reconsidering the subjects in his later works; and
again, others which may be viewed in a general attempt to describe the
extent of his literary achievements.

The Treatise has been already spoken of as embracing two great objects,
metaphysics and ethics; or three, if politics be considered as distinct
from ethics. The great leading principle of the metaphysical department,
and a principle which is never lost sight of in any part of the book,
is, that the materials on which intellect works are the _impressions_
which represent immediate sensation, whether externally as by the
senses, or internally as by the passions, and _ideas_ which are the
faint reflections of these impressions. Thus to speak colloquially, when
I see a picture, or when I am angry with some one, there is an
_impression_; but when I think about this picture in its absence, or
call to recollection my subsided anger, what exists in either case is an
_idea_. Hume looked from words to that which they signified, and he
found that where they signified any thing, it must be found among the
things that either are or have been impressions. The whole varied and
complex system of intellectual machinery he found occupied in the
representation, the combination, or the arrangement of these raw
materials of intellectual matter. If I say I see an object, I give
expression to the fact, that a certain impression is made on the retina
of my eye. If I convey to the person I am speaking to an accurate notion
of what I mean, I awaken in his mind ideas left there by previous
impressions, brought thither by his sense of sight.[70:1] Thus, in the
particular case of the external senses, when they are considered as in
direct communication between the mind and any object, there are
impressions: when the senses are not said to be in communication with
the object, the operations of the mind in connexion with it, are from
vestiges which the impressions have left on the mind; and these vestiges
are called ideas, and are always more faint than the original
impressions themselves. And a material circumstance to be kept in view
at the very threshold of the system is, that there is no specific and
distinct line drawn between impressions and ideas. Their difference is
in degree merely--the former are stronger, the latter weaker. There is
no difference in kind; and there is sometimes doubt whether that which
is supposed to be an impression may not be a vivid idea, and that which
is supposed to be an idea a faint impression.

When Hume examined, with more and more minuteness, the elements of the
materials on which the mind works, he could still find nothing but these
impressions and ideas. Looking at language as a machinery for giving
expression to thought, he thus established for himself a test of its
adaptation to its right use,--a test for discovering whether in any
given case it really served the purpose of language, or was a mere
unmeaning sound. As he found that there was nothing on which thought
could operate but the impressions received through sensation, or the
ideas left by them, he considered that a word which had not a meaning to
be found in either of these things, had no meaning at all. He looked
upon ideas as the goods with which the mind was stored; and on these
stores, as being of the character of impressions, while they were in the
state of coming into the mind. When any one, then, in reasoning, or any
other kind of literature, spoke of any thing as existing, the principle
of his theory was, that this storehouse of idealized impressions should
be searched for one corresponding to the term made use of. If such an
impression were not found, the word was, so far as our human faculties
were concerned, an unmeaning one. Whether there was any existence
corresponding to its meaning, no one could say: all that the sceptical
philosopher could decide was, that, so far as human intellect was put in
possession of materials for thought, it had nothing to warrant it in
saying, that this word represented any thing of which that intellect had

This limitation of the material put at the disposal of the mind, was
largely illustrated in the course of the work; and the illustrations
assumed some such character as this:--Imaginative writers present us
with descriptions of things which never, within our own experience, have
existed,--of things which, we believe, never have had existence. Yet,
however fantastic and heterogeneous may be the representations thus
presented to our notice, there is no one part, of which we form a
conception, that is any thing more than a new arrangement of ideas that
have been left in the mind by impressions deposited there by sensation.
The most extravagant of eastern or classical fictions there find their
elements. If it be a three-headed dog, a winged horse, a fiery dragon,
or a golden palace, that is spoken of, the reader who forms a conception
of the narrative puts it together with the ideas left in his mind by
impressions conveyed through the external senses. If a spectre is said
to be raised, it may be spoken of as not denser than the atmosphere, yet
the attributes that bring a conception of it to the intellect are the
form and proportions of a human being,--expression, action, and
habiliments: all elements the ideas of which the mind has received
through the impressions of the senses. If words were used in a book of
fiction which did not admit of being thus realized by the mind putting
together a corresponding portion of the ideas stored up within
it--supplying, as it were, the described costume from this
wardrobe--then, according to Hume's philosophy, the word would be a
sound without meaning. He maintained a like rule as to books of
philosophy. If the authors used terms which were not thus represented in
the storehouse of the matter of thought and language, they were not
reasoning on what they knew; they were not using words as the signs of
things signified, but printing unmeaning collections of letters, or
uttering senseless sounds.

The system, if it were to be classed under the old metaphysical
divisions, was one of nominalism. Such words as shape, colour, hardness,
roughness, &c. the author of the Treatise could only admit to have a
meaning in as far as they signified ideas in the mind; and these ideas
could only be there as the relics of impressions derived through the
senses. Thus, general terms, such as the categories of Aristotle, could
have no existence except in so far as they represented and called up
particulars. Of the abstract term colour, our notion is derived solely
from the ideas left in the mind by the actual impressions made through
the senses. Heat, cold, and largeness, so far as these words represent
what is really in the mind, have no other foundation.

The application of this system to the mathematics, and to natural
philosophy, was so startling as to afford to some readers almost a
_reductio ad absurdum_. The infinite divisibility of matter was
arraigned by Hume as so far from being a truth, that it was not even
capable of being conceived by the mind, which had never yet received any
impressions through the senses corresponding to the expression. Every
man had seen matter divided--some into smaller fragments than others;
but where our ideas, derived from actual experiment, stopped in
minuteness of division, the conception of divisibility stopped also. The
truth of geometrical demonstration, as applicable to practice, he did
not deny; but he maintained, or rather seemed to maintain, for his
reasoning here is of a highly subtle order, that we have a conception of
these operations only in as far as they concur with really existing
things, or, more properly speaking, with the ideas in the mind conveyed
thither by the senses. Of the point, which has no breadth, depth, or
length; of the straight line, which is deficient in the first and
second, and not in the last of these qualities, he denied that we could
have an idea, unless that idea were just as much the representative of
an actual existence as any other idea is.

Infinity of space was an expression to which he had an objection on
similar grounds; it had no idea corresponding to it lodged in the mind.
Of space finite in various quantities, the mind possessed ideas stored
up from repeated impressions, and by adding these ideas together, more
or less vastness in the conception of finite space was afforded. But any
thing beyond this definitive increase, attested as it was by the senses,
the mind had no means of conceiving. Whatever might be in another
intellectual world, there was no idea corresponding to infinity of space
in the mind of man. It thence followed, that space unoccupied was a
conception of which the mind was incapable, because the impressions
originally conveyed to the mind were the medium through which the
conception of space existed, and where there were no ideas of such
impressions, an aggregate idea of space was wanting. In the same manner
it was held, that it was in a succession of impressions, with ideas
corresponding, that the conception of time consisted, and that without
such a succession, time would be a thing unknown and unconceived. Our
ideas of numbers he found to be but the collected ideas of the
impressions of the units of which the senses have received distinct
impressions; and in confirmation of this he appealed to the distinctness
of our notion of small numbers, which our mind has been accustomed to
find represented by units, and our imperfect conception of those large
numbers, which we have never had presented to us in detail. How readily
we have a notion of six, but how imperfectly the mind receives the
conception of six millions; how clearly we perceive, in units, the
difference between six and twelve, but how imperfect is our notion of
the difference between six millions and twelve millions.[75:1]

All human consciousness being of these two materials, impressions and
ideas, the answer to the question, What knowledge have we of an external
world, resolved itself into this, that there were certain impressions
and ideas which we supposed to relate to it--further we knew not. When
we turn, according to this theory, from the external world, and, looking
into ourselves, ask what certainty we have of separate self-existence,
we find but a string of impressions and ideas, and we have no means of
linking these together into any notion of a continuous existence. Such
is that boasted thing the human intellect, when its elements are
searched out by a rigid application of the sceptical philosophy of Hume.
Not a thing separate and self-existent, which was, and is, and shall
continue; but a succession of mere separate entities, called in one view
impressions, in another ideas.[76:1]

It may make this brief sketch more clear, to notice a circumstance in
the history of philosophy, which, perhaps, serves better in an
incidental manner to mark the boundaries of the field of Hume's inquiry,
than many pages of discursive description. The transcendentalists took
him up as having examined the materials solely, on which pure reason
operates; not pure reason itself. They said that he had examined the
classes of matter which come before the judge, but had omitted to
describe the judge himself, the extent of his jurisdiction, and his
method of enforcing it. They maintained, that all these things, which
with Hume appeared to be the constituent elements of philosophy, were
nothing but the materials on which philosophy works,--that to presume
them to be of service presupposed a reason which could make use of
them,--that Hume himself, while thus speculating and telling us that his
mind consisted but of a string of ideas, left behind by certain
impressions, was himself making use of that pure reason which was in him
before the ideas or impressions existed, and was through that power
adapting the impressions and ideas to use. He characterized his system
as "an attempt to introduce the experimental method of reasoning into
moral subjects:" but they said that there was another and a preliminary
matter of inquiry--the faculty, to speak popularly, which suggested what
experiments should be made, and judged of their results.

Hume may be found indirectly lamenting the fate of his own work on
metaphysics, in his remarks on other works of a kindred character; and
in these criticisms we have a clue to the expectations he had formed. In
his well-known rapid criticism on the literature of the epoch of the
civil wars, he says of Hobbes: "No author in that age was more
celebrated both abroad and at home than Hobbes. In our times, he is much
neglected: a lively instance how precarious all reputations founded on
reasoning and philosophy! A pleasant comedy which paints the manners of
the age, and exposes a faithful picture of nature, is a durable work,
and is transmitted to the latest posterity. But a system, whether
physical or metaphysical, owes commonly its success to its novelty; and
is no sooner canvassed with impartiality, than its weakness is

Like the majority of literary prophecies dictated by feeling and not by
impartial criticism, this one, whether as it refers to "The Leviathan,"
of which it is ostensibly uttered, or to the "Treatise of Human Nature,"
the fate of which doubtless suggested it, has proved untrue. The
influence of Hobbes has revived, as that of the Treatise remained
undiminished from the time when it was first fully appreciated. And in
both cases their influence has arisen from that element which seems
alone to be capable of giving permanent value to metaphysical thought.
It is not that in either case the fundamental theory of the author is
adopted, as the disciples of old imbibed the system of their masters,
but that each has started some novelties in thought, and, either by
themselves sweeping away prevailing fallacies, or suggesting to others
the means of doing so, have cleared the path of philosophy. As a general
system, the philosophy of Hobbes has been perhaps most completely
rejected at those times when its incidental discoveries and suggestions
made it most serviceable to philosophy, and were the cause of its being
most highly esteemed. "Harm I can do none," says Hobbes, when speaking
of the metaphysicians who preceded him, "though I err not less than
they, for I leave men but as they are, in doubt and dispute." There is
indeed nothing in the later history of metaphysical writing to show that
the triumphs in that department of thought are to stretch beyond the
establishment of incidental truths, the removal of fallacies, and the
suggestion of theories that may teach men to think. The field is a
republic: incidental merit has its praise, and is allowed its
pre-eminence; but no one mind, it may safely be pronounced, holds in it
that monarchical sway which Adam Smith retains over the empire of
political economy. The ancient systems anterior to Christianity allowed
of such empire. The pupil did not follow his master merely in this and
that incidental truth developed, but adopted the system in all its
details and proportions as his system and his creed. In later times it
would probably be found that the most devoted admirers of great writers
on metaphysics do not adopt their opinions in the mass; and it seems
that men must now go elsewhere than to the produce of human reason, for
the grand leading principles of the philosophy of belief and disbelief.

To those who hold that the writings of the great metaphysicians are thus
to be esteemed on account, not of their fundamental principles, but of
the truths they bring out in detail, a new theory is like a new road
through an unfrequented country, valuable, not for itself, but for the
scenery which it opens up to the traveller's eye. The thinker who adopts
this view, often wonders at the small beginnings of philosophical
systems--wonders, perhaps, at the circumstance of Kant having believed
that his own system started into life at one moment as he was reading
Hume's views of Cause and Effect. But the solution is ready at hand. We
feel that the philosopher of Königsberg had in his mind the impulses
that would have driven him into a new path had no Hume preceded him. We
owe it to the Essay on Cause and Effect that it was the starting-point
at which he left the beaten track; but, had it not attracted his
attention, his path would have been as original, though not, perhaps, in
the same direction. And so of Hume himself. If the main outline of his
theory had never occurred to him, he would still have been a great
philosopher; for in some form or other he would have found his way to
those incidental and subsidiary discoveries, which are admitted to have
reality in them by many who repudiate his general theory.

Of all the secondary applications of the leading principle of the
Treatise, none has perhaps exercised so extensive an influence on
philosophy, as this same doctrine of cause and effect. Looking to those
separate phenomena, of which in common language we call the one the
cause of the other, and the other the effect of that cause, he could see
no other connexion between them than that the latter immediately
followed the former. He found that the mind, proceeding on the inductive
system, when it repeatedly saw two phenomena thus conjoined, expected,
when that which had been in use to precede the other made its
appearance, that the other would follow; and he found that by repeated
experiment this expectation might be so far strengthened, that people
were ready to stake their most important temporal interests on the
occurrence of the phenomenon called the effect, when that called the
cause had taken place. But if there were any thing else but this
conjunction, of which a knowledge was demanded--if the unsatisfied
investigator sought for some power in the one phenomenon which enabled
it to be the fabricator of the other--the sceptical reasoner would
answer, that for all he could say to the contrary such a thing might be,
but he had no clue to that knowledge--no impression of any such quality
passed into his intellect through sensation--his mind had no material
committed to it by which the existence or non-existence of any such
thing could be argued.

The vulgar notion of this theory was, that it destroyed all our notions
of regularity and system in the order of nature; that it made no
provision for unseen causes, and contemplated only the application of
the doctrines of cause and effect to things which were palpably seen
following each other. But the inventor of the theory never questioned
the regularity of the operations of nature as established by the
inductive philosophy; he only endeavoured to show how far and within
what limits we could acquire a cognizance of the machinery of that
regularity. He denied not that when the spark was applied, the gunpowder
would ignite, or that when the ball was dropped, it would proceed to the
earth with the accelerated motion of gravitation; but he denied that we
could see any other connexion between the cause and effect in either
case, than that of uniform sequence. When it was scientifically adopted,
the theory was found to be productive of the most important results. The
view that when any effect was observed, that phenomenon which was most
uniform in its precedence was the one entitled to be termed the cause,
was a salutary incentive to close and patient investigation, by laying
before the philosopher the simple, numerical question--what was that
phenomenon which, by the uniformity of its precedence, was entitled to
be termed the cause?[81:1] The test became of the simplest kind; and, if
the experimentalist had at a particular time considered some phenomenon
as a cause,--if the farther progress of patient and unprejudiced inquiry
showed that another, by the occurrence of instances in which it
preceded the effect while the former did not, had a preferable title to
be termed the cause, the mind in its unbiassed estimate of numbers at
once admitted the claim. But when, according to the antagonist
system,[82:1] it became settled that any given phenomenon had in it the
power of bringing into existence another, that power was viewed as a
quality of the object. When things are admitted to have qualities, it is
not easy for the mind at once to assent to their non-existence and to
admit that others have the proper title to these qualities. Analogy, the
great source of fallacies, comes to increase the difficulty, by a
confusion of what are termed the qualities of bodies, and those
endowments with which we invest our fellow-creatures. In this respect
Hume's theory of cause and effect has been of great service to inductive

It was an objection to it that it made no allowance for unseen causes;
but it was part of its author's system, that the uniformity which our
observation teaches us, proceeds unseen in those cases to which our
observation cannot penetrate. It was part of the theory, that where
there is a want of the absolute uniformity in the sequence of two
phenomena, they are not respectively cause and effect. This principle is
of vital importance in physical science. It is a notion with the vulgar,
and one that sometimes perhaps lurks unseen in scientific operations,
that the cause sometimes does not produce its effect by reason of some
failure in the operating power. It is from a vague amplification of this
heresy, that the popular notion of chance is derived. Hume's theory
nips the bud of such a fallacy by denying, whenever there is a break in
the sequence, that the phenomena which have in other instances followed
each other, really are cause and effect. It is perhaps in the
unscientific application of therapeutics, that the popular fallacy is
most widely and most dangerously exemplified. The whole of the
complexity of that wondrous science consists in the immediate causes and
effects being unseen--in the phenomena immediately conjoined not being
ascertained, but in attempts being made to estimate them through the
connexion between those external causes to which the internal causes may
have had the relation of effects, and those external effects of which
these internal effects may have been the causes. The character of unseen
causes was aptly illustrated by Hume himself, from the throwing of a
die. The vulgar mind can see no cause and effect in the operation,
because there is a series of causes and effects, which are hidden from
the sight, in the interior of the box; but the philosopher knows not the
less, that those laws of motion, which induction has established to him
as truths, are taking place; and that there is no turn made by the die,
which is not as much the effect of some cause, as the turning of the
hands of a watch, or the parallel motion in a steam engine.

It is one of the peculiar features of the history of mental philosophy,
that there is scarcely ever a new principle, associated with the name of
a great author, but it is shown that it has been anticipated, in some
oracular sentence, probably by an obscure writer. Joseph Glanvill is
pretty well known as the author of "Saducismus Triumphatus," a
vindication of the belief in witches and apparitions, which must have
been perused by all the curious in this species of lore. Glanvill was
the author of various tracts on biblical subjects, but it was not
generally known that he wrote a book on sceptical philosophy, called
"Scepsis Scientifica, or, Confest Ignorance the Way to Science," until
it was unearthed by the persevering inquiries of Mr. Hallam. In that
book there is the passage, "all knowledge of causes is _deductive_, for
we know none by simple intuition, but through the medium of their
effects; so that we cannot conclude any thing to be the cause of another
but from its continual accompanying it, for the causality itself is
_insensible_."[84:1] This is an addition to the many instances where
writers have almost, as it were by chance, laid down principles, of
which they show, by neglecting to follow them to their legitimate
conclusions, that they have not understood their full meaning; if it do
not rather illustrate the view already noticed, that in metaphysics our
assent is secured, not to general propositions as such, but to their
particular applications; and that it is not in the laying down of first
principles that important truths are exhibited to the world, but in
those subsidiary expositions by which the discoverer endeavours to show
their application.

The subsequent history of Hume's theory of Cause and Effect, is a marked
illustration of the danger of bringing forward as an argument against
theories purely metaphysical, the statement that they are dangerous to
religion. It is difficult to see where there is a difference between
adducing that argument in the sphere of natural philosophy, from which
it has been long scouted by common consent, and bringing it forward as
an answer to the theories of the metaphysician. In either case it is a
threat, which, in the days of Galileo, bore the terror of corporal
punishment, and in the present day carries the threat of unpopularity,
to the person against whom it is used.[86:1] If any one should suppose
that he finds lurking in the speculations of some metaphysical writer,
opinions from which it may be inferred that he is not possessed of the
hopes and consolations of the Christian, humanity to the unhappy author
should suggest that he ought rather to be pitied than condemned, and
respect for the religious feelings of others should teach that there is
no occasion to endeavour, by a laborious pleading, to demonstrate that a
man who has said nothing against religion is in reality an enemy to
Christianity. They are surely no enlightened friends to religion, who
maintain that the suppression of inquiry as to the material or the
immaterial world, is favourable to the cause of revealed truth. The
blasphemer who raises his voice offensively and contentiously against
what his fellow citizens hold sacred, invokes the public wrath, and is
no just object of sympathy. The extent of his punishment is regretted
only when, by its vindictive excess, it is liable to excite retaliatory
attacks from the same quarter. But the speculative philosopher, who does
not directly interfere with the religion of his neighbours, should be
left to the peaceful pursuit of his inquiries; and those who, instead of
meeting him by fair argument, cry out irreligion, and call in the mob to
their aid, should reflect first, whether it is absolutely certain that
they are right in their conclusion, that his inquiries, if carried out,
would be inimical to religion--whether some mind more acute and
philosophical than their own, may not either finally confute the
sceptical philosopher's argument, or prove that it is not inimical to
religion; and secondly, whether they are not likely to be themselves the
greatest foes to religion, by holding that it requires such defence, and
the practical blasphemers, by proclaiming that religion is in danger?

Kant, the most illustrious opponent of Hume, in allusion to those who
have appealed against him to our religious feelings, asks, what the man
is doing that we should meddle with him; says he is but trying the
strength of human reason, and bids us leave him to combat with those who
are giving him specimens of the fabric on which to try his skill--tells
us to wait and see who will produce one too strong to be broken to
pieces--and not cry treason, and appeal to the angry multitude, who are
strangers to these refined reasonings, to rush in. Shall we ask reason
to give us lights, and prescribe beforehand what they are to show
us?[88:1] "The observation of human blindness and weakness," says Hume
himself, "is the result of all philosophy, and meets us at every turn,
in spite of our endeavours to elude or avoid it." A solemn saying, and
characteristic of one who has done more than any other man to show the
feebleness of poor human reason, and to teach man that he is not all
sufficient to himself.

Those revelations in astronomy and geology, the first glimmerings of
which made the timid if not doubting friends of their cause tremble,
have enlarged year by year in rapid progression; but revealed religion
is not less firm on her throne; and many of those who held that Hume's
theory of Cause and Effect was inimical to revelation, lived to see how
startlingly that argument could be turned against themselves. It has
been well observed by Dugald Stewart, that this theory is the most
effectual confutation of the gloomy materialism of Spinoza, "as it lays
the axe to the very root from which Spinozism springs." "The cardinal
principle," he says, "on which the whole of that system turns is, that
all events, physical and moral, are _necessarily_ linked together as
causes and effects; from which principle all the most alarming
conclusions adopted by Spinoza follow as unavoidable and manifest
corollaries. But if it be true, as Mr. Hume contends, and as most
philosophers now admit, that physical causes and effects are known to us
merely as _antecedents_ and _consequents_; still more if it be true that
the word _necessity_, as employed in this discussion, is altogether
unmeaning and insignificant, the whole system of Spinoza is nothing
better than a rope of sand, and the very proposition which it professes
to demonstrate is incomprehensible by our faculties."[89:1]

It will be remembered how signally, in the question in the General
Assembly of the Church of Scotland, as to Sir John Leslie's
professorship, the argument of irreligion was retaliated; and it was
shown that, in the theory of an existing machinery in nature enabling
the universe to proceed in its regular course, the cause having within
it the adequate power for producing its effect, the omnipresence of a
Deity was dispensed with, and there was substituted for the
all-pervading influence of a superior wisdom, a mere material machine,
having within itself the elements of its own regular motion. Thus, in
instances where writers have claimed credit for having aided the cause
of religion by carrying out the principles of natural theology, this
merit has in many cases, and among certain classes of devout religious
thinkers, been sternly denied them; and it has been said that their
labours are rather adverse than favourable to revealed religion,
because, through their tendency to make people believe in an established
order in nature, by which causes produce their effects according to a
fixed system, they have the effect of making mankind forget the
existence of a revealed, omnipresent Deity, whose all-competent
superintendence regulates the world, and they supply a religion
independent of the religion of revelation.

Perhaps in this little history we may find an illustration of the view,
that the greatest service which the Treatise has done to philosophy is
that purely incidental one of teaching human reason its own weakness--of
showing how easily the noblest fabric of human thought may be
undermined, by a destroying agency of power not greater than that of the
constructive genius which has raised it. In this respect it has done to
philosophy the invaluable service of teaching philosophers their own
fallibility. In all the departments of thought, and not only in the
world of thought but in that of action, the spirit of human
infallibility is the greatest obstacle to truth and goodness. Whether it
appear to protect a system which the thinker has framed for himself, or
assume the more modest shape of maintaining, that among conflicting
systems he has made choice of that which is absolutely and certainly
right, while all others which in any way differ from it are as
absolutely and certainly wrong; this offspring of the pride of human
intellect is an equally dangerous enemy of human improvement; and to
have contributed to its downfal is of itself no small achievement for
one mind.

Such are a few remarks on the matter of the first part of the "Treatise
of Human Nature"--given not by any means as an analysis of the doctrines
there taught, but merely as an attempt to characterize them by their
prominent features. It will naturally be expected that a similar attempt
should be made to characterize the form in which these doctrines were
promulgated. As to the style of the Treatise, it possesses the
clearness, flexibility, and simplicity that distinguish the maturity of
its author's literary career, though not quite in all the perfection in
which they afterwards attended his pen. There are occasional
Scoticisms--a defect which he took infinite pains to cure, but of which
he was never entirely rid. He uses a few obsolete and now harsh sounding
forms of expression, from which he afterwards abstained: such as the
elliptical combination 'tis, for it is. Here, and in the first editions
of his History, he frequently neglects the increment on the perfect
tense, as by saying, "I have forgot," instead of, I have forgotten; "I
have wrote," instead of I have written.

The Treatise has that happy equality of flight, which distinguishes the
author's maturer productions. There is no attempt to soar, and none of
those ambitious inequalities which often deform the works of young
authors. His imagination and language seem indeed to have been kept
permanently chained down by the character of his inquiries. His constant
aim is to make his meaning clear; and in the subtleties of a new and
intricate system of metaphysics, he seems to have felt that there lay
upon him so heavy a responsibility to make use on all occasions of the
clearest and simplest words, that any flight of imagination or eloquence
would be a dangerous experiment.

There is a corresponding absence of pedantic ornament. A young writer
who has read much, is generally more anxious to show his learning and
information than his own power of thought. With many the defect lasts
through maturer years, and they write as if to find a good thing in some
unknown author, were more meritorious than to have invented it.
Montesquieu, whom Hume has been accused of imitating, carried this
defect to a vice, and often distorted the order of his reasoning, that
he might introduce an allusion to something discovered in the course of
his peculiar learning. That Hume had read much in philosophy before he
undertook his great work, cannot be doubted, but he does not drag his
readers through the minutiæ of his studies, and is content with giving
them results. In many respects, indeed, one would have desired to know
more of his appreciation of his predecessors. The name of Aristotle is,
it is believed, not once mentioned in the work, and there are only some
indirect allusions to him, and these not very respectful, in casual
remarks on the opinions of the Peripatetics. One would have expected
from Hume a kindred sympathy with the great master of intellectual
philosophy, and a respectful appreciation of one whose inquiries were
conducted with a like acute severity, but whose mind took so much more
wide and comprehensive a grasp of the sources of human knowledge.

It has been often observed, that a person so original in his opinions as
Hume, ought to have made a new nomenclature for the new things which he
taught. But he has no philosophical nomenclature; he appears indeed to
have despised that useful instrument of method, and means of
communicating clear ideas to learners. This want has prevented his
system from being clearly and fully learned by the student, while it has
at the same time probably made his works less repulsive to the general
reader. He seems indeed hardly to have been conscious of the advantage
to all philosophy, of uniformity of expression. Using the words "force,"
"vivacity," "solidity," "firmness," and "steadiness," all with the same
meaning, he speaks of this usage as a "variety of terms which may seem
so unphilosophical;" and then observes, more in the style of one who is
tired of philosophical precision than of a philosopher, "Provided we
agree about the thing, 'tis needless to dispute about the terms."

This is a kindred defect to that absence of method which has been
already taken notice of. A fixed nomenclature is a beacon against
repetition and discursiveness. But the Treatise has no pretension to be
a work of which he who omits paying attention to any part, thereby drops
a link in a chain, the loss of which will make the whole appear broken
and inconsistent. There are, it is true, places where the essential
parts of the author's philosophy are developed, the omission of which
would render that which follows hard to be understood, but in general
each department of the work is intelligible in itself. Its author
appears to have composed it in separate fragments; holding in view,
while he was writing each part, the general principle of his theory, but
not taking it for granted that the reader is so far master of that
principle, as not to require it to be generally explained in connexion
with the particular matter under consideration. He seems indeed rather
desirous to dwell on it, as something that the reader may have seen in
the earlier part of the work, but may have neglected to keep in his mind
while he reads the other parts. Perhaps the true model of every
philosophical work is to be found in the usual systems of geometry,
where, whatever is once proposed and proved, is held a fixed part of
knowledge, and is never repeated; but as far as psychological reasoning
is from the certainty of geometrical, so distant perhaps, will ever be
the precision of its method from that of geometry.

It may safely be pronounced, that no book of its age presents itself to
us at this day, more completely free from exploded opinions in the
physical sciences. With the exception perhaps of occasional allusions to
"animal spirits," as a moving influence in the human body, the author's
careful sifting sceptical mind seems, without having practically tested
them, to have turned away from whatever doctrines were afterwards
destined to fall before the test of experiment and induction. It was not
that he was so much of a natural philosopher himself as to be able to
test their truth or falsehood, but that with a wholesome jealousy,
characteristic of the mind in which the Disquisition on Miracles was
working itself into shape, he avoided them as things neither coming
within the scope of his own analysis, nor bearing the marks of having
been satisfactorily established by those whose more peculiar province it
was to investigate their claims to be believed. At a later date, his
friend D'Alembert admitted judicial astrology and alchemy as branches of
natural philosophy in his "Systême Figuré des Connoissances Humaines."
Cudworth, and even the scrutinizing Locke, dealt gravely with matters
doomed afterwards to be ranked among popular superstitions, and Sir
Thomas Browne, in some respects a sceptic, eloquently defended more
"vulgar errors" than he exposed. Hobbes was, in the midst of the darkest
scepticism, a practical believer in the actual presence of the spirits
of the air; and Johnson, whose name, however, it may scarcely be fair to
class in this list, as he did not profess, except for conversational
triumph, to be a reducer and demolisher of unfounded beliefs, along
with his partial admission of the existence of spectres, has left behind
him many dogmatic announcements of physical doctrines, which the
progress of science has now long buried under its newer systems.

It is by no means maintained that Hume was beyond his age--or even on a
par with its scientific ornaments, in physical knowledge; but merely
that he showed a judicious caution in distinguishing, in his published
work, those parts of physical philosophy which had been admitted within
the bounds of true and permanent science, from those which were still in
a state of mere hypothesis. His knowledge of physical science was
probably not very extensive. A small portion of a collection of his
notes on subjects that attracted his attention bear on this subject. The
collection from which they are taken will be noticed in the next
chapter; but as those which are set apart from the others, and are
headed "Natural Philosophy," seem to have been written at an earlier
period than the rest of the collection, and are appropriate to the
present subject, they are here given. It is not expected that they will
awaken in the natural philosopher any great respect for the extent of
Hume's inquiries in this department of knowledge.


"A ship sails always swiftest when her sides yield a little.

"Two pieces of timber, resting upon one another, will bear as much as
both of them laid across at the distance of their opening.

"Calcined antimony more heavy than before.[95:1]

"A proof that natural philosophy has no truth in it, is, that it has
only succeeded in things remote, as the heavenly bodies; or minute, as

"'Tis probable that mineral waters are not formed by running over beds
of minerals, but by imbibing the vapours which form these minerals,
since we cannot make mineral waters with all the same qualities.

"Hot mineral waters come not a-boiling sooner than cold water.

"Hot iron put into cold water soon cools, but becomes hot again.

"There falls usually at Paris, in June, July, and August, as much rain
as in the other nine months.

"This seems to be a strong presumption against medicines, that they are
mostly disagreeable, and out of the common use of life. For the weak and
uncertain operation of the common food, &c. is well known by experience.
These others are the better objects of quackery."

The system of philosophy to which the foregoing remarks apply, was
published when its author was twenty-six years old, and he completed it
in voluntary exile, and in that isolation from the counsel and sympathy
of early friends, which is implied by a residence in an obscure spot in
a foreign country. While he was framing his metaphysical theory, Hume
appears to have permitted no confidential adviser to have access to the
workings of his inventive genius; and as little did he take for granted
any of the reasonings and opinions of the illustrious dead, as seek
counsel of the living. Nowhere is there a work of genius more completely
authenticated, as the produce of the solitary labour of one mind; and
when we reflect on the boldness and greatness of the undertaking, we
have a picture of self-reliance calculated to inspire both awe and
respect. The system seems to be characteristic of a lonely mind--of one
which, though it had no enmity with its fellows, had yet little sympathy
with them. It has few of the features that characterize a partaker in
the ordinary hopes and fears, the joys and sorrows, of humanity; little
to give impulse to the excitement of the enthusiast; nothing to dry the
tear of the mourner. It exposes to poor human reason her own weakness
and nakedness, and supplies her with no extrinsic support or protection.
Such a work, coming from a man at the time of life when our sympathies
with the world are strongest, and our anticipations brightest, would
seem to indicate a mind rendered callous by hardship and disappointment.
But it was not so with Hume. His coldness and isolation were in his
theories alone; as a man he was frank, warm, and friendly. But the same
impulses which gave him resolution to adopt so bold a step, seem at the
same time to have armed him with a hard contempt for the opinions of the
rest of mankind. Hence, though his philosophy is sceptical, his manner
is frequently dogmatical, even to intolerance; and while illustrating
the feebleness of all human reasoning, he seems as if he felt an innate
infallibility in his own. He afterwards regretted this peculiarity; and
in a letter, written apparently at an advanced period of life, we find
him deprecating not only the tone of the Inquiry, but many of its
opinions. He says:--

"Allow me to tell you, that I never asserted so absurd a proposition as
_that any thing might arise without a cause_. I only maintained that our
certainty of the falsehood of that proposition proceeded neither from
intuition nor demonstration, but from another source. _That Cæsar
existed_, that there is such an island as Sicily,--for these
propositions, I affirm, we have no demonstration nor intuitive
proof,--would you infer that I deny their _truth_, or even their
certainty? There are many different kinds of certainty; and some of them
as satisfactory to the mind, though perhaps not so regular as the
demonstrative kind.

"Where a man of sense mistakes my meaning, I own I am angry; but it is
only with myself, for having expressed my meaning so ill, as to have
given occasion to the mistake.

"That you may see I would no way scruple of owning my mistakes in
argument, I shall acknowledge (what is infinitely more material) a very
great mistake in conduct, viz. my publishing at all the 'Treatise of
Human Nature,' a book which pretended to innovate in all the sublimest
paths of philosophy, and which I composed before I was five-and-twenty;
above all, the positive air which prevails in that book, and which may
be imputed to the ardour of youth, so much displeases me, that I have
not patience to review it. But what success the same doctrines, better
illustrated and expressed, may meet with, _adhuc sub judice lis est_.
The arguments have been laid before the world, and by some philosophical
minds have been attended to. I am willing to be instructed by the
public; though human life is so short, that I despair of ever seeing the
decision. I wish I had always confined myself to the more easy parts of
erudition; but you will excuse me from submitting to a proverbial
decision, let it even be in Greek."[98:1]

The reader, who passes from the first book of the Treatise, on "the
Understanding," to the second, on "the Passions," will, in many
instances, feel like one who is awakened from a dream, or as if, after
penetrating in solitude and darkness into the unseen world of thought,
he had come forth to the cheerful company of mankind, and were holding
converse with a shrewd and penetrating observer of the passing world. As
Hume was never totally insensible to the elements of social enjoyment,
but had indeed an ample sympathy with the joys and sorrows of his fellow
men, he appears occasionally, in the midst of his most subtle
speculations, to experience a desire to burst from the dark prison of
solitude, into which he had voluntarily immured himself, and bask in the
sunshine of the world. "Man," he says, in his Treatise, "is the creature
of the universe who has the most ardent desire of society, and is fitted
for it by the most advantages. We can form no wish which has not a
reference to society. A perfect solitude is, perhaps, the greatest
punishment we can suffer. Every pleasure languishes when enjoyed apart
from company, and every pain becomes more cruel and intolerable." In a
remarkable passage, in which, after having long proceeded in enthusiasm
with his solitary labours, he seems to have stopped for a moment, and
recalling within himself the feelings and sympathies of an ordinary man,
to have reflected on the scope and tendency of the system in which he
was involving himself, he thus expresses himself, regarding its gloomy
tendency, and the effect it has in destroying, in the mind of its
fabricator, those stays of satisfactory belief in which it is so
comfortable for the wearied intellect to find a resting-place:--

     Before I launch out into those immense depths of philosophy
     which lie before me, I find myself inclined to stop a moment
     in my present station, and to ponder that voyage which I have
     undertaken, and which undoubtedly requires the utmost art and
     industry to be brought to a happy conclusion. Methinks I am
     like a man, who, having struck on many shoals, and having
     narrowly escaped shipwreck in passing a small frith, has yet
     the temerity to put out to sea in the same leaky
     weather-beaten vessel, and even carries his ambition so far as
     to think of compassing the globe under these disadvantageous
     circumstances. My memory of past errors and perplexities makes
     me diffident for the future. The wretched condition, weakness,
     and disorder of the faculties, I must employ in my inquiries,
     increase my apprehensions. And the impossibility of amending
     or correcting these faculties, reduces me almost to despair,
     and makes me resolve to perish on the barren rock, on which I
     am at present, rather than venture myself upon that boundless
     ocean which runs out into immensity. This sudden view of my
     danger strikes me with melancholy; and, as 'tis usual for that
     passion, above all others, to indulge itself, I cannot forbear
     feeding my despair with all those desponding reflections which
     the present subject furnishes me with in such abundance.

     I am first affrighted and confounded with that forlorn
     solitude in which I am placed in my philosophy, and fancy
     myself some strange uncouth monster, who, not being able to
     mingle and unite in society, has been expelled all human
     commerce, and left utterly abandoned and disconsolate. Fain
     would I run into the crowd for shelter and warmth, but cannot
     prevail with myself to mix with such deformity. I call upon
     others to join me, in order to make a company apart, but no
     one will hearken to me. Every one keeps at a distance, and
     dreads that storm which beats upon me from every side. I have
     exposed myself to the enmity of all metaphysicians, logicians,
     mathematicians, and even theologians; and can I wonder at the
     insults I must suffer? I have declared my disapprobation of
     their systems; and can I be surprised if they should express a
     hatred of mine and of my person? When I look abroad, I foresee
     on every side dispute, contradiction, anger, calumny, and
     detraction. When I turn my eye inward, I find nothing but
     doubt and ignorance. All the world conspires to oppose and
     contradict me; though such is my weakness, that I feel all my
     opinions loosen and fall of themselves, when unsupported by
     the approbation of others. Every step I take is with
     hesitation, and every new reflection makes me dread an error
     and absurdity in my reasoning.

     For with what confidence can I venture upon such bold
     enterprises, when, beside those numberless infirmities
     peculiar to myself, I find so many which are common to human
     nature? Can I be sure that, in leaving all established
     opinions, I am following truth? and by what criterion shall I
     distinguish her, even if fortune should at last guide me on
     her footsteps? After the most accurate and exact of my
     reasonings, I can give no reason why I should assent to it,
     and feel nothing but a _strong_ propensity to consider objects
     _strongly_ in that view under which they appear to me.[101:1]

Occasionally, seduced by some impulse of playful candour, we find him
giving us admission as it were into the chamber of his thoughts, and
desiring that some one would drag him into the common circle of the
world. When there, he consents for a short time to comport himself as a
man, is social and sympathetic with his kind, and pleased with what is
passing around; when anon the ambition which had prompted his solitary
musings stirs his soul, tells him that in active life and the world at
large, the sphere of his true greatness is not placed, and prompts him
to reimprison himself, and pursue the great aim of his existence.

     But what have I here said, that reflections very refined and
     metaphysical have little or no influence upon us? This opinion
     I can scarce forbear retracting, and condemning from my
     present feeling and experience. The _intense_ view of these
     manifold contradictions and imperfections in human reason has
     so wrought upon me, and heated my brain, that I am ready to
     reject all belief and reasoning, and can look upon no opinion
     even as more probable or likely than another. Where am I, or
     what? From what causes do I derive my existence, and to what
     condition shall I return? Whose favour shall I court, and
     whose anger must I dread? What beings surround me? and on whom
     have I any influence, or who have any influence on me? I am
     confounded with all these questions, and begin to fancy myself
     in the most deplorable condition imaginable, environed with
     the deepest darkness, and utterly deprived of the use of every
     member and faculty.

     Most fortunately it happens, that since Reason is incapable of
     dispelling these clouds, Nature herself suffices to that
     purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and
     delirium, either by relaxing this bent of mind, or by some
     avocation, and lively impression of my senses, which
     obliterate all these chimeras. I dine, I play a game of
     backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and
     when, after three or four hours' amusement, I would return to
     these speculations, they appear so cold, and strained, and
     ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them
     any farther.

     Here, then, I find myself absolutely and necessarily
     determined to live, and talk, and act like other people in the
     common affairs of life. But notwithstanding that my natural
     propensity, and the course of my animal spirits and passions
     reduce me to this indolent belief in the general maxims of the
     world, I still feel such remains of my former disposition,
     that I am ready to throw all my books and papers into the
     fire, and resolve never more to renounce the pleasures of life
     for the sake of reasoning and philosophy. For those are my
     sentiments in that splenetic humour which governs me at
     present. I may, nay I must yield to the current of nature, in
     submitting to my senses and understanding; and in this blind
     submission I show most perfectly my sceptical disposition and
     principles. But does it follow that I must strive against the
     current of nature, which leads me to indolence and pleasure;
     that I must seclude myself, in some measure, from the commerce
     and society of men, which is so agreeable; and that I must
     torture my brain with subtilties and sophistries, at the very
     time that I cannot satisfy myself concerning the
     reasonableness of so painful an application, nor have any
     tolerable prospect of arriving by its means at truth and
     certainty? Under what obligation do I lie of making such an
     abuse of time? And to what end can it serve, either for the
     service of mankind, or for my own private interest? No: if I
     must be a fool, as all those who reason or believe any thing
     _certainly_ are, my follies shall at least be natural and
     agreeable. Where I strive against my inclination, I shall have
     a good reason for my resistance; and will no more be led
     a-wandering into such dreary solitudes, and rough passages, as
     I have hitherto met with.

     These are the sentiments of my spleen and indolence; and
     indeed I must confess, that philosophy has nothing to oppose
     to them, and expects a victory more from the returns of a
     serious good-humoured disposition, than from the force of
     reason and conviction. In all the incidents of life, we ought
     still to preserve our scepticism. If we believe that fire
     warms, or water refreshes, 'tis only because it costs us too
     much pains to think otherwise. Nay, if we are philosophers, it
     ought only to be upon sceptical principles, and from an
     inclination which we feel to the employing ourselves after
     that manner. Where reason is lively, and mixes itself with
     some propensity, it ought to be assented to. Where it does
     not, it never can have any title to operate upon us.

     At the time, therefore, that I am tired with amusement and
     company, and have indulged a _reverie_ in my chamber, or in a
     solitary walk by a river side, I feel my mind all collected
     within itself, and am naturally _inclined_ to carry my view
     into all those subjects, about which I have met with so many
     disputes in the course of my reading and conversation. I
     cannot forbear having a curiosity to be acquainted with the
     principles of moral good and evil, the nature and foundation
     of government, and the cause of those several passions and
     inclinations which actuate and govern me. I am uneasy to think
     I approve of one object, and disapprove of another; call one
     thing beautiful, and another deformed; decide concerning truth
     and falsehood, reason and folly, without knowing upon what
     principles I proceed. I am concerned for the condition of the
     learned world, which lies under such a deplorable ignorance in
     all these particulars. I feel an ambition to arise in me of
     contributing to the instruction of mankind, and of acquiring a
     name by my inventions and discoveries. These sentiments spring
     up naturally in my present disposition; and should I
     endeavour to banish them, by attaching myself to any other
     business or diversion, I _feel_ I should be a loser in point
     of pleasure; and this is the origin of my philosophy.[104:1]

The acuteness which the solitary metaphysician brought to his aid when
he chose to contemplate mankind, is not the least interesting feature in
his book. That he could have seen much of men, since his life had been
but brief and his converse with books great, is not probable; yet
Chesterfield and Rochefoucauld did not observe men more clearly and
truly, though they may have done so more extensively. The following
sketch of the mental features of a vain man, would not have been
unworthy of Theophrastus.

     Every thing belonging to a vain man is the best that is any
     where to be found. His houses, equipage, furniture, clothes,
     horses, hounds, excel all others in his conceit; and 'tis easy
     to observe, that from the least advantage in any of these, he
     draws a new subject of pride and vanity. His wine, if you'll
     believe him, has a finer flavour than any other; his cookery
     is more exquisite; his table more orderly; his servant more
     expert; the air in which he lives more healthful; the soil he
     cultivates more fertile; his fruits ripen earlier, and to
     greater perfection; such a thing is remarkable for its
     novelty; such another for its antiquity: this is the
     workmanship of a famous artist; that belonged to such a prince
     or great man; all objects, in a word, that are useful,
     beautiful, or surprising, or are related to such, may, by
     means of property, give rise to this passion. These agree in
     giving pleasure, and agree in nothing else. This alone is
     common to them, and therefore must be the quality that
     produces the passion, which is their common effect.[104:2]


[48:1] A literary friend suggests that Hume has a quiet allusion to the
intellectual faculties of the people of Bristol, in the description of
James Naylor's attempts to personify our Saviour, where it is said, "he
entered Bristol mounted on a horse--I suppose from the difficulty in
that place of finding an ass." Retrospect of manners &c., at the end of
the History of the Commonwealth.

[52:1] It is not improbable that the person here alluded to is the Abbé
Pluche, a native of Rheims, the greatest literary ornament of that city,
and one who filled no small place in the lettered aristocracy of France,
where he held in many respects the position which Paley occupied in
England. He filled successively the chairs of Humanity and Rhetoric, in
the University of Rheims. His promotion in the Church was checked by his
partiality for Jansenism. He had the rare merit of uniting to a firm
belief in the great truths of Christianity a wide and full toleration
for the conscientious opinions of others; and he enjoyed, what is no
less rarely possessed by those who meddle in theological disputes, the
good opinion of his opponents. He was a great scholar, and wrote some
works on etymological and archæological subjects; but he is chiefly
known for his writings on natural theology, celebrated for their clear
and animated enunciation of the harmonies of nature, and not only
popular in their own country, but translated into most of the European
languages. His "Spectacle de la Nature," written in a series of
dialogues, was sketched while he acted as instructor to the son of Lord
Stafford; and the master and pupil, with the father and mother of the
latter, are the interlocutors. One of its main objects is, by tracing
effects in the operations of nature to their causes, to prove and
illustrate the beneficence and wisdom of the Deity. This work has been a
treasure to many an English schoolboy, in its well-known translation,
with the title, "Nature Displayed." An answer by Pluche to some _esprits
forts_, who wondered why a philosopher could believe so much, has been
preserved by his contemporaries: "It is more reasonable," he said, "to
believe in the dictates of the Supreme Being than to follow the feeble
lights of a reason bounded in its operations and subject to error."

It must be granted that what Hume calls the association of contrariety
has in some measure caused this digression, and that the Abbé Pluche
would not have been so amply discussed as the possible learned man that
Hume had an introduction to, had there not been so much that is common
in the subjects treated of by both, and so much that is contrasted in
the mode of treatment. Pluche was an opponent of Des Cartes, and thus a
name far greater than his, and as many will hold greater than Hume's, is
introduced into the circle of these local associations.

[53:1] The following passage in a recent work, Mrs. Shelley's "Rambles
in Germany and Italy," seems appropriate to this observation:--

"By this time I became aware of a truth which had dawned on me before,
that the French common people have lost much of that grace of manner
which once distinguished them above all other people. More courteous
than the Italians they could not be; but, while their manners were more
artificial, they were more playful and winning. All this has changed. I
did not remark the alteration so much with regard to myself, as in their
mode of speaking to one another. The 'Madame,' and 'Monsieur,' with
which stable boys, and old beggar women, used to address each other with
the deference of courtiers, has vanished. No trace of it is to be found
in France; a shadow faintly exists among the Parisian shopkeepers when
speaking to their customers, but only there is the traditional
phraseology still used: The courteous accent, the soft manner, erst so
charming, exists no longer. I speak of a thing known and acknowledged by
the French themselves. . . . . . Their phraseology, once so delicately
and even to us more straightforward people, amusingly deferential (not
to superiors only, but toward one another,) is become blunt, and almost
rude. The French allege several causes for this change, which they date
from the Revolution of 1830: some say it arises from every citizen
turning out as one of the national guard in his turn, so that they all
get a _ton de garnison_: others attribute it to their imitation of the
English. Of course, in the times of the _ancien regime_, the courtly
tone found an echo and reflexion, from the royal anti-chambers down to
the very ends of the kingdom. This has faded by degrees, till the
Revolution of 1830 gave it the _coup-de-grâce_."

[55:1] Sic in MS.

[56:1] This word is nearly obliterated. The passage appears to be a sort
of caricatured pompous politeness.

[56:2] MS. R.S.E.

[57:1] Dated 7th January, 1762, and written in relation to a copy of
Campbell's "Dissertation on Miracles," sent to him by Dr. Blair.

[58:1] It may be said, that, as Mackenzie's description of Hume's
character, this subject belongs to a later period of his life--the time
when Mackenzie was acquainted with him. But Mackenzie intended it to be
a true view of Hume's character as a young man; and it appears that it
properly belongs to that chronological period to which its author
assigned it.

[63:1] See above, p. 50. These reasonings appeared probably in a shape
more consonant with the author's later views in the "Philosophical
Essays," 1748.

[64:1] Tytler, Life of Kames, i. 84.

[65:1] Tytler, Life of Kames, i. 88.

[66:1] Original MS. R.S.E.

[67:1] According to some acceptations of the word metaphysical, which
seem to make it synonymous with transcendental, and referable solely to
the operations of pure reason, to the rejection of whatever is founded
on experiment, none of Hume's works are properly metaphysical; and by
the very foundation he has given to his philosophy, he has made it
empirical and consequently not metaphysical. The word metaphysical is,
however, here used in its ordinary, and, as it may be termed, popular
acceptation, and as applicable to any attempt to analyze mind or
describe its elements,--a subject in relation to which the word ontology
is also sometimes used.

[70:1] The term "ideas," in the philosophical nomenclature of Hume, is
thus used in a sense quite distinct from its previous current
acceptations, and as different from its vernacular use by Plato, in
reference to the archetypes of all the empirical objects of thought, as
from its employment by Locke, who used it to express "whatsoever is the
object of the understanding when a man thinks."

[75:1] "If we take as the utmost bounds of this system the orbit Uranus,
we shall find that it occupies a portion of space not less than three
thousand six hundred millions of miles in extent. The mind fails to form
an exact notion of a portion of space so immense; but some faint idea of
it may be obtained from the fact, that, if the swiftest race-horse ever
known, had begun to traverse it at full speed, at the time of the birth
of Moses, he could only as yet have accomplished half his
journey."--Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, pp. 1-2. Here an
attempt is made to give a conception of abstract numbers, by calling up
in the mind the ideas deposited there from actual impressions. Hume had,
in the application of his theory to mathematics, to struggle with the
fact that no truths had a clearer and more distinct existence in the
mind than the abstract truths of the exact sciences; and feeling the
difficulty he thus had to encounter, he did not recur in his subsequent
works to this part of the sceptical theory. Kant seems to have filled up
the blank for him, by treating those truths as synthetical intuitions
anterior to experience in their abstract existence, though depending on
experience in the knowledge of their concrete application; but it may be
observed, that at the beginning of sect. 4. of his Inquiry, Hume seems
to have nearly anticipated some such principle.

[76:1] "If any impression gives rise to the idea of self, that
impression must continue invariably the same, through the whole course
of our lives: since self is supposed to exist after that manner. But
there is no impression constant and invariable. Pain and pleasure, grief
and joy, passions and sensations, succeed each other, and never all
exist at the same time. It cannot, therefore, be from any of these
impressions, or from any other, that the idea of self is derived;
and consequently there is no such idea. . . . . For my part, when
I enter most intimately into what I call _myself_, I always stumble
on some perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love
or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch _myself_ at any time
without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the
perception."--Treatise, B. i. p. iv. sect. 6.

[81:1] One cannot escape a feeling of astonishment on finding so great a
philosopher as Reid saying, (Active Powers, ch. ix.) that on this theory
day and night might be called mutually the cause and effect of each
other, on account of their mutual sequence: as if the observation of
those who have gone so far in civilisation as just to have seen ignited
bodies, had not data for concluding that that phenomenon which most
uniformly preceded the ramification of rays of light, was the appearance
of a luminous body.

[82:1] This refers to the notion, which may now be termed obsolete, at
least in philosophy, of an inherent power in the cause to produce the
effect--not to Kant's theory, which does not appear to be inconsistent
with the scientific application of Hume's.

[84:1] "Scepsis Scientifica; or, Confest Ignorance the Way to Science,
in an essay of the vanity of dogmatizing and confident opinion." By
Joseph Glanvill, M.A. 1665, 4to, p. 142. See this coincidence commented
on in the _Penny Cyclopædia_, art. Scepticism. The style of Glanvill's
work, in its rich variety of logical imagery and its powerful use of
antithesis, is formed on that of Sir Thomas Browne, whose "Vulgar
Errors" had been first published fifteen years earlier. That one who
wrote a book so full of wisdom--so bold, original, and firm in its
attacks on received fallacies, should also have been the champion of
belief in witchcraft, in which his prototype, Sir Thomas Browne, was
also a believer, is one of those inconsistencies in poor human nature,
which elicit much wonder, but no explanation. The following passages
from this curious and rare book are offered for the reader's

"We conclude many things impossibilities, which yet are easie
_feasables_. For by an unadvised transiliency, leaping from the effect
to its remotest cause, we observe not the connexion through the
interposal of more immediate causalities, which yet at last bring the
extremes together without a miracle. And hereupon we hastily conclude
that _impossible_ which we see not in the proximate capacity of its
_efficient_."--pp. 83-84.

"From this last-noted head ariseth that other of _joyning causes with
irrelevant effects_, which either refer not at all unto them, or in a
remoter capacity. Hence the Indian conceived so grossly of the _letter_
that discovered his theft; and that other who thought the watch an
_animal_. From hence grew the impostures of _charmes_ and _amulets_, and
other insignificant ceremonies; which to this day impose upon common
belief, as they did of old upon the _barbarism_ of the uncultivate
_heathen_. Thus effects unusual, whose causes run under ground, and are
more remote from ordinary discernment, are noted in the book of _vulgar
opinion_ with _digitus Deî_, or _Dæmonis_; though they owe no other
dependence to the _first_ than what is common to the whole _syntax_ of
beings, nor yet any more to the _second_ than what is given it by the
imagination of those unqualified judges. Thus, every unwonted _meteor_
is portentous; and the appearance of any unobserved _star_, some divine
_prognostick_. Antiquity thought _thunder_ the immediate voyce of
_Jupiter_, and impleaded them of impiety that referred it to natural
causalities. Neither can there happen a _storm_ at this remove from
_antique_ ignorance, but the multitude will have the _Devil_ in
it."--pp. 84-85.

_On the Influence of Education._

"We judge all things by our _anticipations_; and condemn or applaud
them, as they agree or differ from our _first receptions_. One country
laughs at the _laws_, _customs_, and _opinions_ of another as absurd and
ridiculous; and the other is as charitable to them in its conceit of
theirs."--pp. 93-94.

"Thus, like the hermite, we think the sun shines nowhere but in our
cell, and all the world to be darkness but ourselves. We judge truth to
be circumscribed by the confines of our belief, and the doctrines we
were brought up in; and, with as ill manners as those of _China_, repute
all the rest of the world _monoculous_. So that, what some astrologers
say of our _fortunes_ and the passages of our lives, may, by the
allowance of a metaphor, be said of our _opinions_--that they are
written in our _stars_, being to the most as fatal as those involuntary
occurrences, and as little in their power as the _placits_ of _destiny_.
We are bound to our country's _opinions_ as to its _laws_; and an
accustomed assent is tantamount to an infallible conclusion. He that
offers to dissent shall be an _outlaw_ in reputation; and the fears of
guilty Cain shall be fulfilled on him--whoever meets him _shall slay
him_."--pp. 95-96.

"We look with superstitious reverence upon the accounts of preterlapsed
ages, and with a supercilious severity on the more deserving products of
our own--a vanity which hath possessed all times as well as ours; and
the _golden age_ was never present. . . . We reverence gray-headed
doctrines, though feeble, decrepit, and within a step of dust: and on
this account maintain opinions which have nothing but our _charity_ to
uphold them."--p. 102.

[86:1] "Had I done but half as much as he [Hume] in labouring to subvert
principles which ought ever to be held sacred, I know not whether the
friends of truth would have granted me any indulgence, I am sure they
ought not. Let me be treated with the lenity due to a good citizen no
longer than I act as becomes one."--Beattie's Essay on the Nature and
Immutability of Truth, &c. p. 20.

On this Priestley says, "Certainly the obvious construction of this
passage is, that Mr. Hume ought not to be treated with the indulgence
and lenity due to a good citizen, but ought to be punished as a bad one.
And what is this but what a Bonner and a Gardiner might have put into
the preamble of an order for his execution. . . I for my part am truly
pleased with such publications as those of Mr. Hume, and I do not think
it requires any great sagacity or strength of mind, to see that such
writings must be of great service to religion, natural and revealed.
They have actually occasioned the subject to be more thoroughly
canvassed, and consequently to be better understood than ever it was
before, and thus _vice cotis funguntur_."[86:A]

     [86:A] Examination of Dr. Reid's Inquiry, &c. Dr. Beattie's
     Essay, &c. and Dr. Oswald's Appeal, &c. 1774, pp. 191-193.

[88:1] Critik der reinen Vernunft, (Methodenlehre,) 7th ed. p. 571.

[89:1] Preliminary Dissertation to the _Encyclopædia Britannica_, 210.

[95:1] A scientific friend observes, that this is the germ of the theory
of oxidation.

[98:1] I have been favoured by Mr. Chambers with an old copy of this
letter, in which it is titled as a letter to Gilbert Stuart. The
original is among the MSS. R.S.E. where there is a note in Baron Hume's
handwriting, with a supposition that it was addressed to Dr. Traill.

[101:1] B. i. part iv. sect. 7.

[104:1] B. i. part iv. sect. 7.

[104:2] B. ii. part i. sect. 10.


1739-1741. ÆT. 27-29.

     Letters to his friends after the publication of the first and
     second volume of the Treatise--Returns to Scotland--Reception
     of his Book--Criticism in "The Works of the Learned"--Charge
     against Hume of assaulting the publisher--Correspondence with
     Francis Hutcheson--Seeks a situation--Connexion with Adam
     Smith--Publication of the third volume of the Treatise--Account
     of it--Hume's notes of his reading--Extracts from his Note

Immediately after the publication of his work we find Hume thus writing
to Henry Home:--

"_London, February 13, 1739._

"SIR,--I thought to have wrote this from a place nearer you than London,
but have been detained here by contrary winds, which have kept all
Berwick ships from sailing. 'Tis now a fortnight since my book was
published; and, besides many other considerations, I thought it would
contribute very much to my tranquillity, and might spare me many
mortifications, to be in the country while the success of the work was
doubtful. I am afraid 'twill remain so very long. Those who are
accustomed to reflect on such abstract subjects, are commonly full of
prejudices; and those who are unprejudiced are unacquainted with
metaphysical reasonings. My principles are also so remote from all the
vulgar sentiments on the subject, that were they to take place, they
would produce almost a total alteration in philosophy; and you know,
revolutions of this kind are not easily brought about. I am young enough
to see what will become of the matter; but am apprehensive lest the
chief reward I shall have for some time will be the pleasure of studying
on such important subjects, and the approbation of a few judges. Among
the rest, you may believe I aspire to your approbation; and next to
that, to your free censure and criticism. I shall present you with a
copy as soon as I come to Scotland; and hope your curiosity, as well as
friendship, will make you take the pains of perusing it.

"If you know any body that is a judge, you would do me a sensible
pleasure in engaging him to a serious perusal of the book. 'Tis so rare
to meet with one that will take pains on a book, that does not come
recommended by some great name or authority, that I must confess I am as
fond of meeting with such a one as if I were sure of his approbation. I
am, however, so doubtful in that particular, that I have endeavoured all
I could to conceal my name; though I believe I have not been so cautious
in this respect as I ought to have been.

"I have sent the Bishop of Bristol[106:1] a copy, but could not wait on
him with your letter after he had arrived at that dignity. At least I
thought it would be to no purpose after I began the printing. You'll
excuse the frailty of an author in writing so long a letter about
nothing but his own performances. Authors have this privilege in common
with lovers; and founded on the same reason, that they are both besotted
with a blind fondness of their object. I have been upon my guard against
this frailty; but perhaps this has rather turned to my prejudice. The
reflection on our caution is apt to give us a more implicit confidence
afterwards, when we come to form a judgment. I am," &c.[107:1]

To the same year we must attribute a letter from Hume to Michael Ramsay,
bearing no more precise date than 27th February. He says:--"As to
myself, no alteration has happened to my fortune: nor have I taken the
least step towards it. I hope things will be riper next winter; and I
would not aim at any thing till I could judge of my success in my grand
undertaking, and see upon what footing I shall stand in the world. I am
afraid, however, that I shall not have any great success of a sudden.
Such performances make their way very heavily at first, when they are
not recommended by any great name or authority."

In the same letter he speaks of Ramsay as being then a tutor in the
Marchmont family, and offers him this sage and business-like
advice:--"Should a living fall to the gift of the Duchess of
Marlborough, or any other of your friends and patrons, 'twould have but
an ill air to say that the gentleman was in the South of France, and
that he should be informed of the matter. Besides, you know how
necessary a man's presence is to quicken his friends, to make them unite
their interests, and to save them the trouble of contriving and thinking
about his affairs. Many a one may endeavour to serve you when you point
out the service you desire of them, who would not take the pains to find
it out themselves."[107:2]

Early in the year 1739, desiring apparently to await in retirement the
effect of his work on the mind of the public, he proceeded to Scotland,
and took up his residence at Ninewells, whence we find him writing to
Henry Home on 1st June.

"DEAR SIR,--You see I am better than my word, having sent you two papers
instead of one. I have hints for two or three more, which I shall
execute at my leisure. I am not much in the humour of such compositions
at present, having received news from London of the success of my
Philosophy, which is but indifferent, if I may judge by the sale of the
book, and if I may believe my bookseller. I am now out of humour with
myself; but doubt not, in a little time, to be only out of humour with
the world, like other unsuccessful authors. After all, I am sensible of
my folly in entertaining any discontent, much more despair, upon this
account, since I could not expect any better from such abstract
reasoning; nor, indeed, did I promise myself much better. My fondness
for what I imagined new discoveries, made me overlook all common rules
of prudence; and, having enjoyed the usual satisfaction of projectors,
'tis but just I should meet with their disappointments. However, as 'tis
observed with such sort of people, one project generally succeeds
another, I doubt not but in a day or two I shall be as easy as ever, in
hopes that truth will prevail at last over the indifference and
opposition of the world.

"You see I might at present subscribe myself your most _humble_ servant
with great propriety: but, notwithstanding, shall presume to call myself
your most affectionate friend as well as humble servant."[108:1]

His account of the success of his work in his "own life," is contained
in these well-known sentences: "Never literary attempt was more
unfortunate than my 'Treatise of Human Nature.' It fell _dead born from
the press_, without reaching such distinction as even to excite a murmur
among the zealots." But he was never easily satisfied with the success
of his works; and we know that this one was not so entirely unnoticed by
the periodical press, such as it then was, but that it called forth a
long review in the number for November, 1739, of _The History of the
Works of the Learned_, a periodical which may be said to have set the
example in England, of systematic reviews of new books. This review is
written with considerable spirit, and has a few pretty powerful strokes
of sarcasm--as where, in relation to Hume's sceptical examination of the
results of the demonstrations of the geometricians, the writer says, "I
will have nothing to do in the quarrel; if they cannot maintain their
demonstrations against his attacks, they may even perish." The paper is
of considerable length, and it has throughout a tone of clamorous
jeering and vulgar raillery that forcibly reminds one of the writings of
Warburton. But it is the work of one who respects the adversary he has
taken arms against; and, before leaving the subject, the writer makes a
manly atonement for his wrath, saying of the Treatise,--"It bears,
indeed, incontestable marks of a great capacity, of a soaring genius,
but young and not yet thoroughly practised. The subject is vast and
noble as any that can exercise the understanding; but it requires a very
mature judgment to handle it as becomes its dignity and importance: the
utmost prudence, tenderness, and delicacy are requisite to this
desirable issue. Time and use may ripen these qualities in our author;
and we shall probably have reason to consider this, compared with his
later productions, in the same light as we view the juvenile works of
Milton, or the first manner of a Raphael or other celebrated painter."

Immediately after Hume's death, there appeared in _The London Review_,
the following account of the manner in which he had acknowledged the
article in _The Works of the Learned_: "It does not appear our author
had acquired, at this period of his life, that command over his passions
of which he afterwards makes his boast. His disappointment at the public
reception of his 'Essay on Human Nature,' had, indeed, a violent effect
on his passions in a particular instance; it not having dropped so dead
born from the press but that it was severely handled by the reviewers of
those times, in a publication entitled _The Works of the Learned_. A
circumstance this which so highly provoked our young philosopher, that
he flew in a violent rage to demand satisfaction of Jacob Robinson, the
publisher, whom he kept, during the paroxysm of his anger, at his
sword's point, trembling behind the counter lest a period should be put
to the life of a sober critic by a raving philosopher."[110:1]

This statement is in a note to a Review of Hume's "own life," and it has
after it the letters "Rev." which serve to give it the attestation of
William Shakespeare Kenrick, the editor of _The London Review_, and a
man whose sole title to literary remembrance rests on the hardy
effrontery and deadly spite of his falsehoods. There is nothing in the
story to make it in itself incredible--for Hume was far from being that
docile mass of imperturbability, which so large a portion of the world
have taken him for. But the anecdote requires authentication; and has it
not. Moreover, there are circumstances strongly against its truth. Hume
was in Scotland at the time when the criticism on his work was
published: he did not visit London for some years afterwards; and, to
believe the story, we must look upon it not as a momentary ebullition of
passion, but as a manifestation of long-treasured resentment,--a
circumstance inconsistent with his character, inconsistent with human
nature in general, and not in keeping with the modified tone of
dissatisfaction with the criticism, evinced in his correspondence.

While Hume was preparing for the press the third part of his "Treatise
of Human Nature,"--on the subject of Morals, Francis Hutcheson, then
professor of moral philosophy in the university of Glasgow, was enjoying
a reputation in the philosophical world scarcely inferior to that of
either of his great contemporaries, Berkeley and Wolff. From the
following correspondence it will be seen that Hume submitted the
manuscript of his forthcoming volume to Hutcheson's inspection; and he
shows more inclination to receive with deference the suggestions of that
distinguished man, than to allow himself to be influenced from any other
quarter. But still, it will be observed that it is only in details that
he receives instruction, and that he vigorously supports the fundamental
principles of his system. The correspondence illustrates the method in
which he held himself as working with human nature--not as an artist,
but an anatomist, whose minute critical examinations might be injured by
any bursts of feeling or eloquence.[111:1] The letters show how far he
saw into the depths of the utilitarian system; and prove that it was
more completely formed in his mind than it appeared in his book.
Notions of prudence appear to have restrained him, at that time, from
issuing so full a development of the system as that which he afterwards
published; but he soon discovered that it was not in that department of
his works that he stood on the most dangerous ground.


"_Ninewells, 17th Sept. 1739._

"SIR,--I am much obliged to you for your reflections on my papers. I
have perused them with care, and find they will be of use to me. You
have mistaken my meaning in some passages, which, upon examination, I
have found to proceed from some ambiguity or defect in my expression.

"What affected me most in your remarks, is your observing that there
wants a certain warmth in the cause of virtue, which you think all good
men would relish, and could not displease amidst abstract inquiries. I
must own this has not happened by chance, but is the effect of a
reasoning either good or bad. There are different ways of examining the
mind, as well as the body. One may consider it either as an anatomist or
as a painter: either to discover its most secret springs and principles,
or to describe the grace and beauty of its actions. I imagine it
impossible to conjoin these two views. Where you pull off the skin, and
display all the minute parts, there appears something trivial, even in
the noblest attitudes and most vigorous actions; nor can you ever render
the object graceful or engaging, but by clothing the parts again with
skin and flesh, and presenting only their bare outside. An anatomist,
however, can give very good advice to a painter or statuary. And, in
like manner, I am persuaded that a metaphysician may be very helpful to
a moralist, though I cannot easily conceive these two characters united
in the same work. Any warm sentiment of morals, I am afraid, would have
the air of declamation amidst abstract reasonings, and would be esteemed
contrary to good taste. And though I am much more ambitious of being
esteemed a friend to virtue than a writer of taste, yet I must always
carry the latter in my eye, otherwise I must despair of ever being
serviceable to virtue. I hope these reasons will satisfy you; though at
the same time I intend to make a new trial, if it be possible to make
the moralist and metaphysician agree a little better.

"I cannot agree to your sense of _natural_. 'Tis founded on final
causes, which is a consideration that appears to me pretty uncertain and
unphilosophical. For, pray, what is the end of man? Is he created for
happiness, or for virtue? for this life, or for the next? for himself,
or for his Maker? Your definition of _natural_ depends upon solving
these questions, which are endless, and quite wide of my purpose. I have
never called justice unnatural, but only artificial. '_Atque ipsa
utilitas, justi prope mater et æqui_,'[113:1] says one of the best
moralists of antiquity. Grotius and Puffendorf, to be consistent, must
assert the same.

"Whether natural abilities be virtue, is a dispute of words. I think I
follow the common use of language; _virtus_ signified chiefly courage
among the Romans. I was just now reading this character of Alexander VI.
in Guicciardin. 'In Alessandro sesto fu solertia et sagacità singulare:
consiglio eccellente, efficacia a persuadere maravigliosa, et a tutte
le faccende gravi, sollicitudine, et destrezza incredibile. Ma erano
queste virtù avanzate di grande intervallo da vitii.'[114:1] Were
benevolence the only virtue, no characters could be mixed, but would
depend entirely on their degrees of benevolence. Upon the whole, I
desire to take my catalogue of virtues from 'Cicero's Offices,' not from
'The Whole Duty of Man.' I had indeed the former book in my eye in all
my reasonings.

"I have many other reflections to communicate to you; but it would be
troublesome. I shall therefore conclude with telling you, that I intend
to follow your advice in altering most of those passages you have
remarked as defective in point of prudence; though, I must own, I think
you a little too delicate. Except a man be in orders, or be immediately
concerned in the instruction of youth, I do not think his character
depends upon his philosophical speculations, as the world is now
modelled; and a little liberty seems requisite to bring into the public
notice a book that is calculated for few readers. I hope you will allow
me the freedom of consulting you when I am in any difficulty, and
believe me," &c.

"P.S.--I cannot forbear recommending another thing to your
consideration. Actions are not virtuous nor vicious, but only so far as
they are proofs of certain qualities or durable principles in the mind.
This is a point I should have established more expressly than I have
done. Now, I desire you to consider if there be any quality that is
virtuous, without having a tendency either to the public good or to the
good of the person who possesses it. If there be none without these
tendencies, we may conclude that their merit is derived from sympathy. I
desire you would only consider the _tendencies_ of qualities, not their
actual operations, which depend on chance. _Brutus_ riveted the chains
of _Rome_ faster by his opposition; but the natural tendency of his
noble dispositions--his public spirit and magnanimity--was to establish
her liberty.

"You are a great admirer of _Cicero_ as well as I am. Please to review
the fourth book _De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum_: where you find him
prove against the _Stoics_, that if there be no other goods but virtue,
'tis impossible there can be any virtue, because the mind would then
want all motives to begin its actions upon; and 'tis on the goodness or
badness of the motives that the virtue of the action depends. This
proves, that to every virtuous action there must be a motive or
impelling passion distinct from the virtue, and that virtue can never be
the sole motive to any action. You do not assent to this: though I think
there is no proposition more certain or important. I must own my proofs
were not distinct enough and must be altered. You see with what
reluctance I part with you, though I believe it is time I should ask
your pardon for so much trouble."

In the mean time we find Hume anxious to be employed in the capacity of
a travelling governor or tutor, and writing to Mr. George Carre of
Nisbet, intimating his readiness to officiate to that gentleman's
cousins, Lord Haddington and Mr. Baillie, if there are no favoured
candidates for the situation. There is nothing in the letter to excite
much interest.[116:1] He says, he hears the young gentlemen are
proposing to travel; observes that he has the honour to be their
relation, "which gives a governor a better air in attending his pupils,"
and that he has some leisure time. In his letter to a physician, in the
preceding chapter, we find him mentioning this office as one of the few
to which his prospects were limited, and, at the same time, as one for
which his knowledge of the world scarcely fitted him. His six years'
farther experience of life had perhaps in his own opinion provided him
with opportunities of better qualifying himself for the duties of this
office. It was held by many able and accomplished men at that time, and
appears to have been the profession of his friend Michael Ramsay. There
are no traces of the manner in which his application was received.

From such matters as these, one readily turns with interest to the most
trifling notices connected with his literary history. On 4th March,
1740, we find him thus writing to Hutcheson.

"My bookseller has sent to Mr. Smith a copy of my book, which I hope he
has received, as well as your letter. I have not yet heard what he has
done with the abstract; perhaps you have. I have got it printed in
London, but not in _The Works of the Learned_, there having been an
article with regard to my book, somewhat abusive, printed in that work,
before I sent up the abstract."[116:2]

The "Smith" here mentioned as receiving a copy of the Treatise, we may
fairly conclude, notwithstanding the universality of the name, to be
Adam Smith, who was then a student in the university of Glasgow, and
not quite seventeen years old.[117:1] It may be inferred from Hume's
letter, that Hutcheson had mentioned Smith as a person on whom it would
serve some good purpose to bestow a copy of the Treatise: and we have
here, evidently, the first introduction to each other's notice, of two
friends, of whom it can be said, that there was no third person writing
the English language during the same period, who has had so much
influence upon the opinions of mankind as either of these two men.

The correspondence with Hutcheson is continued as follows:


"_16th March,1740._

"DEAR SIR,--I must trouble you to write that letter you was so kind as
to offer to Longman the bookseller. I concluded somewhat of a hasty
bargain with my bookseller, from indolence and an aversion to
bargaining: as also because I was told that few or no bookseller would
engage for one edition with a new author. I was also determined to keep
my name a secret for some time, though I find I have failed in that
point. I sold one edition of these two volumes for fifty guineas, and
also engaged myself heedlessly in a clause, which may prove troublesome,
viz. that upon printing a second edition I shall take all the copies
remaining upon hand at the bookseller's price at the time. 'Tis in order
to have some check upon my bookseller, that I would willingly engage
with another: and I doubt not but your recommendation would be very
serviceable to me, even though you be not personally acquainted with

"I wait with some impatience for a second edition, principally on
account of alterations I intend to make in my performance. This is an
advantage that we authors possess since the invention of printing, and
renders the _nonum prematur in annum_ not so necessary to us as to the
ancients. Without it I should have been guilty of a very great temerity,
to publish at my years so many novelties in so delicate a part of
philosophy; and at any rate, I am afraid that I must plead as my excuse
that very circumstance of youth which may be urged against me. I assure
you, that without running any of the heights of scepticism, I am apt in
a cool hour to suspect, in general, that most of my reasonings will be
more useful by furnishing hints and exciting people's curiosity, than as
containing any principles that will augment the stock of knowledge, that
must pass to future ages.[118:1] I wish I could discover more fully the
particulars wherein I have failed. I admire so much the candour I have
observed in Mr. Locke, yourself, and a very few more, that I would be
extremely ambitious of imitating it, by frankly confessing my errors. If
I do not imitate it, it must proceed neither from my being free from
errors nor want of inclination, but from my real unaffected ignorance. I
shall consider more carefully all the particulars you mention to me:
though with regard to _abstract ideas_, 'tis with difficulty I can
entertain a doubt on that head, notwithstanding your authority. Our
conversation together has furnished me a hint, with which I shall
augment the second edition. 'Tis this--the word _simple idea_ is an
abstract term, comprehending different individuals that are similar. Yet
the point of their similarity, from the very nature of such ideas, is
not distinct nor separable from the rest. Is not this a proof, among
many others, that there may be a similarity without any possible
separation even in thought.

"I must consult you in a point of prudence. I have concluded a reasoning
with these two sentences: 'When you pronounce any action or character to
be vicious, you mean nothing but that, from the particular constitution
of your nature, you have a feeling or sentiment of blame from the
contemplation of it. Vice and virtue, therefore, may be compared to
sounds, colours, heat, and cold, which, according to modern philosophy,
are not qualities in objects, but perceptions in the mind. And this
discovery in morals, like that other in physics, is to be regarded as a
mighty advancement of the speculative sciences, though like that too it
has little or no influence on practice.'[119:1]

"Is not this laid a little too strong? I desire your opinion of it,
though I cannot entirely promise to conform myself to it. I wish from my
heart I could avoid concluding, that since morality, according to your
opinion, as well as mine, is determined merely by sentiment, it regards
only human nature and human life. This has been often urged against you,
and the consequences are very momentous. If you make any alterations in
your performances, I can assure you, there are many who desire you would
more fully consider this point, if you think that the truth lies on the
popular side. Otherwise common prudence, your character, and situation,
forbid you [to] touch upon it. If morality were determined by reason,
that is the same to all rational beings; but nothing but experience can
assure us that the sentiments are the same. What experience have we with
regard to superior beings? How can we ascribe to them any sentiments at
all? They have implanted those sentiments in us for the conduct of life
like our bodily sensations, which they possess not themselves. I expect
no answer to these difficulties in the compass of a letter. 'Tis enough
if you have patience to read so long a letter as this.--I am." &c.

The third volume of the "Treatise of Human Nature" being the part
relating to morals, was published by Thomas Longman in 1740. It is not
so original as the metaphysical part of the work, nor are its principles
so clearly and decidedly laid down. Its author's metaphysical theories
were rather modified than confirmed in his subsequent works. But his
opinions on ethical subjects, only indistinctly shadowed forth in his
early work, were afterwards reduced to a more compact system, and were
more clearly and fully set forth.

The metaphysical department of the Treatise is a system with a great
leading principle throughout, of which its author intended that all the
details should be but the individual applications. If his reasoning in
that department of his work be accurate, he sweeps away all other
systems of the foundation of knowledge, and substitutes another in their
stead. But the third book, "on Morals," like the second, on "the
Passions," has no such pretension. The leading principles of the
metaphysical department are certainly kept in view, but the details are
not necessarily parts of it. They have a separate existence of their
own: they are an analysis of phenomena which we witness in our daily
life; and the reader assents or dissents as the several opinions
expressed correspond with or diverge from his own observation of what he
sees passing in the world around him, without, in that mental operation,
either receiving or rejecting any general theory. In short, it is to a
considerable extent a series of observations of human conduct and
character; and as such they are admitted or denied, are sympathized with
or contemned, according to the previous feelings and opinions of the
reader. Among the prominent features of the theoretical part of this
book, is the admission of a moral sense,[121:1] but the negation of an
abstract code of morality, separately existing, and independent of the
position of the persons who are applying this sense. The work in some
measure foreshadows the systems which have been respectively called the
utilitarian and the selfish; the former applying as the scale of moral
excellence the extent to which an action is beneficial or hurtful to the
human race; the latter referring the actions of mankind, whether good or
bad, interested or disinterested, to self, and to impulses which are
always connected with the individual in whom they act, and his passions
or desires.

In this respect it had its influence, when joined to other hints thrown
out by philosophers, in supplying the texts on which Helvetius,
Beccaria, and Bentham discoursed at greater length and with a clearer
application to definite systems. The utilitarian principle Hume
afterwards extended and rendered systematic, in pursuance of the views
announced in his correspondence with Hutcheson. In connexion with what
is called the "selfish system" of morals, he went no farther than to
point out that the source of every impulse must have its relation to the
individual person on whom that impulse acts. If it be the sordid impulse
of the miser, it must be because the man who feels it loves gold; if it
be the profuse impulse of the spendthrift, it must be because the
individual who spends has a corresponding desire within himself; if it
be the charitable impulse of the person who feeds the poor, it must be
because that person is under the influence of inducements which incline
him rather to do so than not do so. If the principle be applied to a
martyr suffering for conscience sake, or to a soldier who prefers death
to submission, it is still because the person who acts fulfils impulses
acting on himself. But this is a subject from which Hume appears to have
shrunk in his subsequent works. He seems to have disliked the character
of being connected with "the selfish school;" and he thus failed to
revert to a subject on which his rigid and clear examination would have
been a matter of greater interest, than his merely arguing against
self-interest being the proper rule of action--an argument that with him
amounts to nothing more than a protest against that vulgarization of the
system, which charges it with such a doctrine for the purpose of
rendering it odious. We shall afterwards find that he had a
correspondence on this subject with Helvetius, who wished to bring him
over to the admission of his own opinions.

In this department of the Treatise there are some inquiries into the
first principles of law and government. Here, if any where, he shows the
influence over his mind of his reading in the works of the civilians.
His own utilitarian principle, when carried out on these subjects, shows
that the best government is that which is most conducive to the welfare
of the community. But he occasionally mixes up this principle with
elements totally heterogeneous to it--as in those instances where he
considers the privilege of governing as held by the same tenure with the
right of property, and views the question whether any particular
government is good or bad, in its effect upon the persons governed, as
secondary to the question whether it is or is not held by a good tenure
when it is considered as if it were a matter of private property. But,
notwithstanding these inconsistencies, which he afterwards amended when
he had more fully investigated the principles of politics, the general
aim of his observations on the sources of government is to show that
they are to be found in reason, and to dispel the various irrational and
superstitious notions of political authority, which are comprehended in
the use of the term Divine Right. Indeed, the observations which he
makes with a practical application to governments, are a partial
anticipation of the clear good sense which distinguished his subsequent
political essays. In connexion with the motives of that insurrection
which occurred within eight years after the publication of the Treatise,
and with the partiality for high monarchical principles with which
Hume's name is so much associated, the following remarks are interesting
and instructive.

     Whoever considers the history of the several nations of the
     world, their revolutions, conquests, increase and diminution,
     the manner in which their particular governments are
     established, and the successive right transmitted from one
     person to another, will soon learn to treat very lightly all
     disputes concerning the rights of princes, and will be
     convinced that a strict adherence to any general rules, and
     the rigid loyalty to particular persons and families, on
     which some people set so high a value, are virtues that hold
     less of reason than of bigotry and superstition. In this
     particular, the study of history confirms the reasonings of
     true philosophy, which, showing us the original qualities of
     human nature, teaches us to regard the controversies in
     politics as incapable of any decision in most cases, and as
     entirely subordinate to the interests of peace and liberty.
     Where the public good does not evidently demand a change, 'tis
     certain that the concurrence of all those titles, _original
     contract_, _long possession_, _present possession_,
     _succession_, and _positive laws_, forms the strongest title
     to sovereignty, and is justly regarded as sacred and
     inviolable. But when these titles are mingled and opposed in
     different degrees, they often occasion perplexity, and are
     less capable of solution from the arguments of lawyers and
     philosophers, than from the swords of the soldiery. Who shall
     tell me, for instance, whether Germanicus or Drusus ought to
     have succeeded Tiberius, had he died while they were both
     alive, without naming any of them for his successor? Ought the
     right of adoption to be received as equivalent to that of
     blood, in a nation where it had the same effect in private
     families, and had already, in two instances, taken place in
     the public? Ought Germanicus to be esteemed the eldest son,
     because he was born before Drusus; or the younger, because he
     was adopted after the birth of his brother? Ought the right of
     the elder to be regarded in a nation, where the eldest brother
     had no advantage in the succession to private families? Ought
     the Roman empire at that time to be esteemed hereditary,
     because of two examples; or ought it, even so early, to be
     regarded as belonging to the stronger, or the present
     possessor, as being founded on so recent an usurpation? Upon
     whatever principles we may pretend to answer these and
     such-like questions, I am afraid we shall never be able to
     satisfy an impartial inquirer, who adopts no party in
     political controversies, and will be satisfied with nothing
     but sound reason and philosophy.[124:1]

Some of Hume's notes, of matters which have occurred to him in the
course of his reading as worthy of observation, or of remarkable
thoughts passing through his mind, have been preserved.[125:1] They
appear to be merely a few stray leaves, which have accidentally survived
the loss of many others, as the number of subjects to which they refer
is limited in comparison with the wide compass of knowledge embraced in
Hume's various works. The specimens so preserved, appear generally to
have been written at this period of his life, with the exception,
perhaps, of those which are printed above, and which have reference to
physical science.[125:2] They are set down with clearness and precision,
as if by one who knew both the step in a series of reasoning to which
each of them belongs, and the form in which it should be expressed. They
are written on long sheets of paper; and unless the few that appear
under the head "Natural Philosophy," and some which have the general
heading "Philosophy," they appear to have been subjected to no system of
pre-arrangement, such as that which Locke suggested, but to have been
set down according as the fruits of the annotator's reading or thought
presented themselves to him. A few specimens are here given: they will
be found to have been chiefly made use of in the "Natural History of
Religion," and in the "Essay on the Populousness of Ancient Nations,"
while a few of them--as for instance that relating to Gustavus
Vasa--make their appearance in the little volume of "Essays, Moral and
Political," published in 1741.[125:3] A considerable proportion of them
have not been made use of in Hume's printed works, and some of them
contain information which is embodied in Smith's "Wealth of Nations."
It is an occurrence quite characteristic of the friendship of these two
great men, that either of them should have supplied the other with facts
or ideas applicable to the subjects on which he might be engaged.


Perhaps the custom of allowing parents to murder their infant children,
though barbarous, tends to render a state more populous, as in China.
Many marry by that inducement; and such is the force of natural
affection, that none make use of that privilege but in extreme

A pound of steel, when manufactured, may become of £10,000 value.

No hospitals in Holland have any land or settled revenue, and yet the
poor better provided for than any where else in the world.

The Romans had two ways chiefly of levying their taxes,--by public
lands, which were all dissipated by popular tribunes about the end of
the republic; or by customs upon importation, which were different in
different places; in some the fortieth part of the value; in Sicily the

They had also a kind of excise, which began with the emperors, and was
the two-hundredth or one-hundredth part of the value of all goods sold,
the fiftieth of slaves.

Beside this, they had pretty early, even in the time of the republic,
duties upon mines and salt; and in order to levy the former more easily,
they forbid all mines in Italy. Their mines near Carthagena yielded
them 25,000 drachms a-day. _Burman de Vict. Rom._

In the time of the monarchy, the kings had the sole power of imposing
taxes. In the time of the republic, 'tis strange to see this power
belonging sometimes to the magistrates, sometimes to the senate, or to
the people. We learn from Livy, in the second Punic War, that the senate
could contract debt alone. Polybius says, that all money matters
belonged to the senate. The censors levied all the taxes, and farmed
them out to the Roman knights. The Romans could be no great politicians;
since the senate could not gain the sovereignty, nor the censors the
supreme magistracy, notwithstanding these advantages.

All French projectors take it for granted that 'tis equally dangerous to
make the people too easy as to oppress them too much. _Comte de

The charter governments in America, almost entirely independent of

Those north of Virginia interfere most with us in manufactures, which
proceeds from the resemblance of soil and climate.

Gustavus Vasa is perhaps the only instance of a prince who humbled the
clergy while he aspired to arbitrary power.

From 1729 to 1730, imported of corn into Ireland to the value of
£274,000,--ascribed to the want of a drawback by the Irish House of

The exchange to Holland always against us. _Craftsman._ Not true.

Our exports no rule to judge of our trade: masters enter more than they
export, to persuade others that their ship is near full.

The East India Company have offered to pay all the duties upon tea,
provided it may be sold duty free. The interest the crown has in
seizures thought to be the cause why they were refused.--Never asked;
because afterwards they cannot expect the execution of the laws against
foreign tea.

The government of England perhaps the only one, except Holland, wherein
the legislature has not force enough to execute the laws without the
good-will of the people. This is an irregular kind of check upon the

Men have much oftener erred from too great respect to government than
from too little.

The French sugar colonies supplied entirely with provisions from our
northern colonies.

15000-20000 Hogsheads of tobacco exported to France at £20 a hogshead;
at £5.

The gross produce of the English customs £3,000,000 a-year; the neat
produce £1,800,000.

In all the British Leeward Islands, the muster-roll exceeded not two
thousand five hundred men a few years ago, and yet there are twenty
thousand blacks in Antigua alone.

The French fish on the coasts of Newfoundland in the winter, which gives
them an advantage above us.

Our bustle about the Ostend company, the cause of the great progress of
the French company.

The East India Company have desired to have China raw silk put upon the
same footing as to duty with the Italian, but have been refused.

The reason why the court has a greater superiority among the Lords than
Commons, beside the bishops, is that the court gives places to the
Lords, chiefly for their interest among the Commons.

Eighteen hundred children put upon the parishes at Dublin in five years,
of which, upon inquiry, there remained only twenty-eight.

Ninety-five thousand seamen computed to be in France; only sixty
thousand in England.

Ships formerly lasted twenty-seven years in the English navy; now only

Within the last two thousand years, almost all the despotic governments
of the world have been improving, and the free ones degenerating; so
that now they are pretty near a par.

There must be a balance in all governments; and the inconvenience of
allowing a single person to have any share is, that what may be too
little for a balance in one hand will be too much in another.

The fiars of wheat, in 1400, were fixed at Edinburgh, 6 sh. 7 p. Scots

Banks first invented in Sweden on account of their copper money.

There is not a word of trade in all Machiavel, which is strange,
considering that Florence rose only by trade.

About twenty thousand tun of wine imported into England about the time
of the first Dutch war.--_Sir Josiah Child._

One per cent. in interest, worse than two per cent. in customs; because
ships pay the interest, not the customs.

Eight hundred thousand Jews chased from Spain by Ferdinand the

About 100,000 Moors condemned for apostacy, by the Inquisition, in forty
years. 4000 burned.--_Id._

Near a million of Moors expelled Spain.--_Id._

The Commons of Castile, in taking arms against Charles the Fifth, among
other things petition, that no sheep nor wool shall be allowed to go out
of the kingdom.--_Id._

The interest in Rome reduced to six per cent. under Tiberius.--_Tacit._

The laws of Arragon required a public trial for the subjects: but
allowed the king a kind of despotic power over his servants and
ministers, in order to render the great men less fond of court

'Twould be more easy for the English liberties to recover themselves
than the Roman, because of the mixed government. The transition is not
so violent.

The farms were large among the ancients. The Leontine farms in Sicily
contained 130,000 acres, and were farmed to eighty-three
farmers.--_Cicero in Verrem._

After the conquest of Egypt by Augustus, the prices of every thing
doubled in Rome.

The Roman colonies, in the time of Augustus, voted in their colonies,
and sent their votes to Rome.

The Romans very exact in their book-keeping; in so much, that a crime,
such as bribery or poisoning, could be proved or refuted from their
books.--_Cic. pro Cluentio._

They also kept commentaries or ephemerides, wherein every action or word
was wrote down; at least Augustus practised this with his daughters and

In Nero's time, 30,000 buried in one autumn, while there was a plague.

Machiavel makes it a question, whether absolute power is best founded on
the nobility or the people. In my opinion, a subject who usurps upon a
free state, cannot trust the nobles, and must caress the people. This
was the case with the Roman emperors. But an established monarchy is
better founded on the nobles.

When the Lex Licinia was promulgated, the senate voted that it should be
binding from that moment, as if it had been voted by the people.

In 1721, the English and Dutch drew more money from Spain than France
did.--_Dict. de Com._

There is computed to be 3000 tun of gold in the bank of Amsterdam, at
100,000 florins a tun.--_Id._

A ship of 50 or 60 tun has commonly seven hands, and increases a man
every 10 tun.--_Id._

The French commerce sunk much about the middle of the seventeenth
century, by reason of their infidelity in their goods.--_Id._

There seems to have been a very bad police in Rome; for Cicero says,
that if Milo had waylaid Clodius, he would have waited for him in the
neighbourhood, where his death might have been attributed to robbers, by
reason of the commonness of the accident; and yet Clodius had above
sixty servants with him, all armed.

Thirty-eight holidays in the year in France.--_Vauban._ One hundred and
eighty working days at a medium.--_Id._

The people commonly live poorest in countries which have the richest
natural soil.

600 slaves, working in the silver mines of Athens, yielded a mina a-day
to their master Xenophon. He computes that 10,000 slaves would produce a
revenue of 100 talents a-year.

The holidays in Athens made two months in the year.--_Salmasius._

The public in Athens paid 20 per cent. for money.--_Xenophon._

Many of the chief officers of the army were named by the people in old
Rome.--_Liv._ lib. ix. and lib. vii.

The Roman senate were obliged by law to give their authority to the
Comitia Centuriata before the suffrages were called.--_Id._ lib. viii.
cap. 12.

The Pontifices of old Rome suppressed the records of their religion on
purpose, as well as those of new Rome.--_Id._ lib. ix.

Every part of the office of the senate could be brought before the
people; even the distribution of provinces. An evident part of the
executive.--_Id._ lib. x. cap. 24.

£60,000 sterling amassed beforehand for building the Capitol.--_Id._
lib. i.

Plays, a part of religious service for a pestilence.--_Id._ lib. vii.

The senators were forbid trade among the Romans.--_Id._ lib. viii. cap.

In the Roman government, there was a great restraint on liberty, since a
man could not leave his colony, or live where he pleased.--_Id._ lib.
xxxix. cap. 3.

External superstition punished by the Romans.--_Id._ lib. xxxix. cap.

They were very jealous of the established religion.--_Id._ lib. xl. cap.

Robbers established in legal companies in Egypt; and such captains as
Jonathan Wyld established.--_Diodorus Siculus._

Whoever consecrated the tenth of their goods to Hercules, was esteemed
sure of happiness by the Romans.--_Id._

Jupiter, according to the Cretan tradition, was a pious worshipper of
the gods; a clear proof that those people had a preceding
religion.--_Id._ lib. v.

Gradenigo's change of the Venetian republic was made in 1280.--_St.

The clergy are chosen by a popular call.--_Id._

Vossius says he saw in Rome, that, digging forty foot underground, they
found the tops of columns buried.

Horses were very rare among the ancients, (before the Romans,) and not
employed in any thing but war. 1st, In the retreat of the ten thousand,
'twould have been easy to have mounted the whole army, if horses had
been as common as at present. 2d, They had about fifty horses, which,
instead of increasing, diminished during the road, though very useful.
3d, In the spoils of villages, Xenophon frequently mentions sheep and
oxen; never horses. 4th, Cleombrotus' army, in lib. v. Hist. made use of
asses for the carriages.

Demosthenes tells the Athenians, that a very honest man of Macedonia,
who would not lie, told him such and such things of Philip's situation:
a kind of style that marks but bad intelligence, and little
communication among the different states.--_Olynth._ 2.

The 30 tyrants killed about 1500 citizens untried.--_Æschines._

Thrasybulus restoring the people, and Cæsar's conquest, the only
instances in ancient history of revolutions without barbarous cruelty.

There seems to be a natural course of things which brings on the
destruction of great empires. They push their conquests till they come
to barbarous nations, which stop their progress by the difficulty of
subsisting great armies. After that, the nobility and considerable men
of the conquering nation and best provinces withdraw gradually from the
frontier army, by reason of its distance from the capital, and barbarity
of the country in which they quarter. They forget the use of war. Their
barbarous soldiers become their masters. These have no law but their
sword, both from their bad education, and from their distance from the
sovereign to whom they bear no affection. Hence disorder, violence,
anarchy, tyranny, and a dissolution of empire.

Perseus's ambassadors to the Rhodians spoke a style like the modern,
with regard to the balance of power, but are condemned by Livy.--Lib.
xlii. cap. 46.

Herodotus makes a scruple of so much as delivering an account of the
difference of religion among foreigners, lest he should give
offence.--Lib. ii.

The Egyptians more careful of preserving their cats than their houses in
time of fire.--_Id._

Plutarch says, that the effect of the naval power of Athens, established
by Themistocles, was to render their government more popular: and that
husbandmen and labourers are more friends to nobility than merchants and
seamen are.--_In Vita Themist._

Solon is the first person mentioned in history to have raised the value
of money, which, says Plutarch, was a benefit to the poor in paying
their debts, and no loss to the rich.--_In Vita Solon._


Men love pleasure more than they hate pain.--_Bayle._

Men are vicious, but hate a religion that authorizes vice.--_Id._

The accounts we have of the sentiments of the ancient philosophers not
very distinct nor consistent. Cicero contradicts himself in two
sentences: in saying that Thales allowed the ordering of the world by a
mind, and in saying that Anaxagoras was the first.

Strato's atheism the most dangerous of the ancient--holding the origin
of the world from nature, or a matter endued with activity. Bayle thinks
there are none but the Cartesians can refute this atheism.

A Stratonician could retort the arguments of all the sects of
philosophy. Of the Stoics, who maintained their God to be fiery and
compound; and of the Platonicians, who asserted the ideas to be distinct
from the Deity. The same question,--Why the parts or ideas of God had
that particular arrangement?--is as difficult as why the world had.

Some pretend that there can be no necessity, according to the system of
atheism, "because even matter cannot be determined without something
superior to determine it."--_Fenelon._

Three proofs of the existence of a God: 1st, Some thing necessarily
existent, and what is so is infinitely perfect. 2d, The idea of infinite
must come from an infinite being. 3d, The idea of infinite perfection
implies that of actual existence.

There is a remarkable story to confirm the Cartesian philosophy of the
brain. A man hurt by the fall of a horse, forgot about twenty years of
his life, and remembered what went before in a much more lively manner
than usual.


[106:1] Dr. Butler was consecrated bishop, 3d December, 1739, and was
afterwards translated to the see of Durham, 16th October, 1750. He died
16th June, 1752, in the 60th year of his age.

[107:1] Tytler's Life of Kames, i. 90.

[107:2] MS. R.S.E.

[108:1] Tytler's Life of Kames, i. 93.

[110:1] London Review, v. 200.

[111:1] See above, p. 91.

[113:1] Horat. Lib. i. Sat. iii. l. 98.

[114:1] Edit. 1636, p. 5. "Alexander the Sixth was endowed with
wonderful cunning and extraordinary sagacity; had a surprising genius in
suggesting expedients in the cabinet, and uncommon efficacy in
persuading; and in all matters of consequence an incredible earnestness
and dexterity."--Goddard's Translation.

[116:1] Dated, 12th November, 1739. MS. R.S.E.

[116:2] MS. R.S.E.

[117:1] He was born on 5th June, 1723.

[118:1] See above, p. 78.

[119:1] See this passage in the "Treatise of Human Nature," Book iii.
part i. sect. 1. where it appears with no other variation than the
substitution of the word "considerable," for mighty. It thus appears
that whatever remarks Hutcheson made on the passage, they were not such
as to induce the author materially to alter it.

[121:1] It may be questioned if any reader of Hume's works has been able
to reconcile this admission of the existence of a moral sense, which,
according to his own account of it is an intuition, with his
metaphysical theory of impressions and ideas, notwithstanding his
ingenuity in ranking it among the impressions.

[124:1] Book iii. part ii. sect. 10.

[125:1] In the MSS. R.S.E.

[125:2] See p. 95.

[125:3] This circumstance, showing that a portion of the manuscript has
been written before the publication of these essays, points to the
present as the period to which a collection of extracts from the notes
will most aptly apply, although some of them may have been made at a
later date.

[129:1] Miscellaneous Tracts, by Michael Geddes. 1730.


1741-1745. ÆT. 30-34.

     Publication of the Essays, Moral and Political--Their
     Character--Correspondence with Home and Hutcheson--Hume's
     Remarks on Hutcheson's System--Education and Accomplishments
     of the Scottish Gentry--Hume's Intercourse with Mure of
     Caldwell and Oswald of Dunnikier--Opinions on a Sermon by Dr.
     Leechman--Attempts to succeed Dr. Pringle in the Chair of
     Moral Philosophy in Edinburgh.

A small duodecimo volume, the first of the "Essays Moral and Political,"
was published at Edinburgh in 1741, and the second was published in
1742. The publication was anonymous; and it is remarkable that, although
thus shielded, Hume appears to have, at that early period, been so
anxious to disconnect himself with the authorship of the Treatise, that,
in the advertisement, he addresses his readers as if he were then
appearing as an author for the first time. "Most of these essays," he
says, "were wrote with a view of being published as weekly papers, and
were intended to comprehend the designs both of the Spectators and
Craftsmen. But, having dropt that undertaking, partly from laziness,
partly from want of leisure, and being willing to make trial of my
talents for writing before I ventured upon any more serious
compositions, I was induced to commit these trifles to the judgment of
the public. Like most new authors, I must confess I feel some anxiety
concerning the success of my work; but one thing makes me more
secure,--that the reader may condemn my abilities, but must approve of
my moderation and impartiality in my method of handling political
subjects; and, as long as my moral character is in safety, I can, with
less anxiety, abandon my learning and capacity to the most severe
censure and examination."

Some of the subjects of these essays were not less untrodden at the time
when they appeared, than they are hackneyed in the present day. Of these
may be cited, "The Liberty of the Press;" "The Parties of Great
Britain;" "The Independency of Parliament." When they are compared with
the _Craftsman_, with _Mist's Journal_, and with the other periodicals
of the day, which had set the example of discussing such subjects, these
essays as little resemble their precursors, as De Lolme's "Remarks on
the British Constitution" do the articles in a daily London party paper.
Whatever he afterwards became, Hume was at that time no party
politician. He retained the Stoic severity of thought with which we have
found that he had sixteen years previously invested himself; and would
allow the excitements or rewards of no party in the state to drag him
out of the even middle path of philosophical observation. There is
consequently a wonderful impartiality in these essays, and an acuteness
of observation, which to the reader, who keeps in view how little the
true workings of the constitution were noticed in that day, is not less
remarkable. How completely, for instance, has the wisdom of the
following observations in the essay on "The Liberty of the Press," been
justified by the experience of a century.

     We need not dread from this liberty any such ill consequences
     as followed from the harangues of the popular demagogues of
     Athens and tribunes of Rome. A man reads a book or pamphlet
     alone and coolly. There is none present from whom he can catch
     the passion by contagion. He is not hurried away by the force
     and energy of action. And should he be wrought up to never so
     seditious a humour, there is no violent resolution presented
     to him by which he can immediately vent his passion. The
     liberty of the press, therefore, however abused, can scarce
     ever excite popular tumults or rebellion. And as to those
     murmurs or secret discontents it may occasion, 'tis better
     they should get vent in words, that they may come to the
     knowledge of the magistrate before it be too late, in order to
     his providing a remedy against them. Mankind, 'tis true, have
     always a greater propension to believe what is said to the
     disadvantage of their governors than the contrary; but this
     inclination is inseparable from them whether they have liberty
     or not. A whisper may fly as quick, and be as pernicious as a
     pamphlet. Nay, it will be more pernicious, where men are not
     accustomed to think freely, or distinguish betwixt truth and

     It has also been found, as the experience of mankind
     increases, that the _people_ are no such dangerous monster as
     they have been represented, and that 'tis in every respect
     better to guide them like rational creatures, than to lead or
     drive them like brute beasts. Before the United Provinces set
     the example, toleration was deemed incompatible with good
     government; and 'twas thought impossible that a number of
     religious sects could live together in harmony and peace, and
     have all of them an equal affection to their common country
     and to each other. England has set a like example of civil
     liberty; and though this liberty seems to occasion some small
     ferment at present, it has not as yet produced any pernicious
     effects; and it is to be hoped that men, being every day more
     accustomed to the free discussion of public affairs, will
     improve in their judgment of them, and be with greater
     difficulty seduced by every idle rumour and popular clamour.

     'Tis a very comfortable reflection to the lovers of liberty,
     that this peculiar privilege of Britain is of a kind that
     cannot easily be wrested from us, and must last as long as our
     government remains in any degree free and independent. 'Tis
     seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once. Slavery
     has so frightful an aspect to men accustomed to freedom, that
     it must steal in upon them by decrees, and must disguise
     itself in a thousand shapes in order to be received. But if
     the liberty of the press ever be lost, it must be lost at
     once. The general laws against sedition and libelling are at
     present as strong as they possibly can be made. Nothing can
     impose a farther restraint but either the clapping an
     imprimatur upon the press, or the giving very large
     discretionary powers to the court to punish whatever
     displeases them. But these concessions would be such a
     barefaced violation of liberty, that they will probably be the
     last efforts of a despotic government. We may conclude that
     the liberty of Britain is gone for ever when these attempts
     shall succeed.

The opinion generally acceded to at the present day, that ministerial
and judicial functions should be intrusted to responsible individuals,
and not to bodies of men who may individually escape from a joint
responsibility, is anticipated in the following passage:--"Honour
is a great check upon mankind; but where a considerable body of
men act together, this check is in a great measure removed, since
a man is sure to be approved of by his own party for what promotes
the common interest, and he soon learns to despise the clamour of
adversaries."[139:1] The Grenville Act, and the subsequent measures for
reducing the number of the judges on controverted elections, are a
practical commentary on the truth of this remark.

It has often been observed, that foreigners have been the first to
remark the leading peculiarities of the British constitution, and of the
administration of justice in this country, in a manner rational and
unimpassioned, yet so as to give them greater prominence, and a more
full descriptive development than they obtain from our own impassioned
party writers--an observation attested by the character which the works
of Montesquieu and De Lolme held in the preceding century, and those of
Thierry, Cottu, Meyer, and Raumer, have obtained in the present.
The reason of this superiority is to be sought in the circumstance that
the acuteness of these foreign observers was not obscured, or their
feelings excited, by any connexion with the workings of the systems they
have described; and the isolation from active life in which Hume was
placed, appears to have in some measure given him like qualifications
for the examination of our political institutions. He expresses a
general partiality for the monarchical government of Britain, but it is
a partiality of a calm utilitarian character, which would not be
inconsistent with an equally great esteem for a well-ordered republic.
On his philosophical appreciation of its merits, the monarchy has no
stronger claims than these--that to have an individual at the head of
the government who is merely the name through which other persons act,
and who is not amenable to any laws, while the real actors are
personally responsible for what they do in his name, is an expedient
arrangement. That it is very convenient to have some fixed criterion
such as the hereditary principle, which shall obviate the trouble and
danger of a competition for this elevated station. But that these are
all recommendations on the ground of expediency, which may be outweighed
by others, and the misconduct of a weak or tyrannical prince will
justify an alteration in that arrangement, which convenience only, and
the avoidance of occasions for turbulence and anarchy, have sanctioned.

It may be observed, that in the edition of these essays which he
directed to be published after his death, many of those passages which
bear a democratic tendency are suppressed. Such was the fate of the
passage in "The Liberty of the Press" quoted above, and of the remarks
put within brackets in the quotation which follows, from the essay on
"The Parties of Great Britain."

     Some who will not venture to assert, that the real difference
     between Whig and Tory, was lost at the Revolution, seem
     inclined to think that the difference is now abolished, and
     that affairs are so far returned to their natural state, that
     there are at present no other parties amongst us but court and
     country; that is, men who, by interest or principle, are
     attached either to monarchy or to liberty. It must indeed be
     confessed, that the Tory party has of late decayed much in
     their numbers, still more in their zeal, and I may venture to
     say, still more in their credit and authority. [There is no
     man of knowledge or learning, who would not be ashamed to be
     thought of that party; and in almost all companies, the name
     of _Old Whig_ is mentioned as an incontestible appellation of
     honour and dignity. Accordingly, the enemies of the ministry,
     as a reproach, call the courtiers the true _Tories_; and, as
     an honour, denominate the gentlemen in the _Opposition_ the
     true _Whigs_.] The Tories have been so long obliged to talk in
     the republican style, that they seem to have made converts of
     themselves by their hypocrisy, and to have embraced the
     sentiments as well as language of their adversaries. There
     are, however, very considerable remains of that party in
     England, with all their old prejudices; and a proof that court
     and country are not our only parties, is, that almost all our
     dissenters side with the court, and the lower clergy, at least
     of the Church of England, with the opposition. This may
     convince us that some bias still hangs upon our constitution,
     some extrinsic weight which turns it from its natural course,
     and causes a confusion in our parties.[141:1]

Perhaps the most ambitious of the essays, and those on which the author
bestowed most of his skill and attention, are "The Epicurean," "The
Stoic," "The Sceptic," and "The Platonist." These are productions of the
imagination, suggested apparently by the style and method of _The
Spectator_. There is no attempt either to support or to attack the
systems represented by the names of the essays, nor is there a
description or definition of them; but on each occasion a member of one
of these celebrated schools speaks in his own person, and describes the
nature of the satisfaction that he finds in his own code of philosophy,
as a solution of the great difficulty of the right rule of thought and
action. "The Epicurean" takes a flight of imagination beyond that of
Hume's other works. It departs from the cold atmosphere of philosophy,
and desires to fascinate as well as enlighten. But though it possesses
all the marks of a fine intellect, the reader is apt to feel how far
more sweetly and gracefully the subject would have been handled by
Addison, to whose department of literature it seems rightly to belong.
The follower of Epicurus is not represented, as indulging in that gross
licentiousness, as wallowing in that disgusting "stye" which the
representations of Diogenes Laertius, and others, have impressed on the
vulgar associations with the name of that master. On the other hand, the
picture is far from embodying what many maintain to be the fundamental
precept of Epicurus, that happiness being the great end sought by man,
the proper method of reaching it is by the just regulation of the
passions and propensities; a precept embodied in the

     "Sperne voluptates. Nocet empta dolere voluptas."

Hume, who was not correcting errors, or instructing his readers in the
true meaning of terms, or appreciation of characters, draws in "The
Epicurean" a picture of one who is not gross or grovelling in his
pleasures, and who restrains himself lest he should outrun enjoyment;
but whose ruling principle is still that of the voluptuary.

The reader expects to find an attempt to draw his own picture in "The
Sceptic;" but it is not to be found there. The sceptic of the essays is
not a man analyzing the principles of knowledge, to find wherein they
consist, but one who is dissatisfied with rules of morality, and who,
examining the current codes one after another, tosses them aside as
unsatisfactory. It is into "The Stoic" that the writer has thrown most
of his heart and sympathy; and it is in that sketch that, though
probably without intention, some of the features of his own character
are portrayed. There are passages which have considerable unison of tone
with those autobiographical documents already quoted, in which he
describes himself as having laboured to subdue the rebellious passions,
to reduce the mind to a regulated system, to drive from it the influence
of petty impressions,--to hold one great object of life in view, and to
sacrifice before that object whatever stood in the way of his firmly
settled purpose.

Of the success of these essays, and the method in which he occupied
himself after their publication, he thus speaks in his "own life:"--"The
work was favourably received, and soon made me entirely forget my former
disappointment. I continued with my mother and brother in the country,
and in that time recovered the knowledge of the Greek language, which I
had too much neglected in my early youth." On 13th June, 1742, he says
to Henry Home:--"The _Essays_ are all sold in London, as I am informed
by two letters from English gentlemen of my acquaintance. There is a
demand for them; and, as one of them tells me, Innys, the great
bookseller in Paul's Churchyard, wonders there is not a new edition, for
that he cannot find copies for his customers. I am also told that Dr.
Butler has every where recommended them; so that I hope they will have
some success. They may prove like dung with marl, and bring forward the
rest of my Philosophy, which is of a more durable, though of a harder
and more stubborn nature. You see I can talk to you in your own style."
In consequence of this favourable reception, a second edition appeared
in 1742.

The communication of which the above is a part, contains the following
short essay on the Orations of Cicero:--

     I agree with you, that Cicero's reasonings in his "Orations"
     are very often loose, and what we should think to be wandering
     from the point; insomuch, that now-a-days a lawyer, who should
     give himself such liberties, would be in danger of meeting
     with a reprimand from the judge, or at least of being
     admonished of the point in question. His Orations against
     Verres, however, are an exception; though that plunderer was
     so impudent and open in his robberies, that there is the less
     merit in his conviction and condemnation. However, these
     orations have all a very great merit. The Oration for Milo is
     commonly esteemed Cicero's masterpiece, and indeed is, in many
     respects, very beautiful; but there are some points in the
     reasoning of it that surprise me. The true story of the death
     of Clodius, as we learn from the Roman historians, was
     this:--It was only a casual rencontre betwixt Milo and him;
     and the squabble was begun by their servants, as they passed
     each other on the road. Many of Clodius's servants were
     killed, the rest dispersed, and himself wounded, and obliged
     to hide himself in some neighbouring shops; from whence he was
     dragged out by Milo's orders, and killed in the street. These
     circumstances must have been largely insisted on by the
     prosecutors, and must have been proved too, since they have
     been received as truth by all antiquity. But not a word of
     them in Cicero, whose oration only labours to prove two
     points, that Milo did not waylay Clodius, and that Clodius was
     a bad citizen, and it was meritorious to kill him. If you read
     his oration, you'll agree with me. I believe that he has
     scarce spoke any thing to the question, as it would now be
     conceived, by a court of judicature.

     The Orations for Marcellus and Ligarius, as also that for
     Archias, are very fine, and chiefly because the subjects do
     not require or admit of close reasoning.

     'Tis worth your while to read the conclusion of the Oration
     for Plancius, where I think the passions are very well
     touched. There are many noble passages in the Oration for
     Muræna, though 'tis certain that the prosecutors (who,
     however, were Servius Sulpicius, and Cato,) must either have
     said nothing to the purpose, or Cicero has said nothing. There
     is some of that oration lost.

     'Twould be a pleasure to read and compare the two first
     philippics, that you may judge of the manners of those times,
     compared to modern manners. When Cicero spoke the first
     philippic, Antony and he had not broke all measures with each
     other, but there were still some remains of a very great
     intimacy and friendship betwixt them; and besides, Cicero
     lived in close correspondence with all the rest of Cæsar's
     captains; Dolabella had been his son-in-law; Hirtius and Pansa
     were his pupils; Trebasius was entirely his creature. For this
     reason, prudence laid him under great restraints at that time
     in his declamations against Antony; there is great elegance
     and delicacy in them; and many of the thoughts are very fine,
     particularly where he mentions his meeting Brutus, who had
     been obliged to leave Rome. "I was ashamed," says he, "that I
     durst return to Rome after Brutus had left it, and that I
     could be in safety where he could not." In short, the whole
     oration is of such a strain, that the Duke of Argyle might
     have spoke it in the House of Peers against my Lord Orford;
     and decency would not allow the greatest enemies to go
     farther. But this oration is not much admired by the ancients.
     The _Divine Philippic_, as Juvenal calls it, is the second,
     where he gives a full loose to his scurrility; and without
     having any point to gain by it, except vilifying his
     antagonist, and without supporting any fact by witnesses (for
     there was no trial or accusation) he rakes into all the filth
     of Antony's character; reproaches him with drunkenness and
     vomiting, and cowardice, and every sort of debauchery and
     villany. There is great genius and wit in many passages of
     this oration; but I think the whole turn of it would not now
     be generally admired.[145:1]

In 1742, Hutcheson published his celebrated outline of a system of
ethics, "Philosophiæ Moralis Institutio Compendiaria." The following
letter contains Hume's remarks on the work; and to render them more
intelligible, the passages he had particularly in view are printed in
notes. It is not, however, as pieces of detached criticism, so much as
in the character of an elucidation of those features of his own system
in which it differs from that of Hutcheson, that the letter is valuable.
It is an argument for the utilitarian system of morality--an argument
that there is no _summum bonum_ which should be the object of moral
conduct, apart from the good of the human species.


"DEAR SIR,--I received your very agreeable present, for which I esteem
myself much obliged to you. I think it needless to express to you my
esteem of the performance, because both the solidity of your judgment,
and the general approbation your writings meet with, instruct you
sufficiently what opinion you ought to form of them. Though your good
nature might prompt you to encourage me by some praises, the same reason
has not place with me, however justice might require them of me. Will
not this prove that justice and good nature are not the same? I am
surprised you should have been so diffident about your Latin. I have not
wrote any in that language these many years, and cannot pretend to judge
of particular words and phrases. But the turn of the whole seems to me
very pure, and even easy and elegant.

"I have subjoined a few reflections, which occurred to me in reading
over the book. By these I pretend only to show you how much I thought
myself obliged to you for the pains you took with me in a like case, and
how willing I am to be grateful.

"P. 9, l. _ult. et quæ seq._[147:1] These instincts you mention seem not
always to be violent and impetuous, more than self-love or benevolence.
There is a calm ambition, a calm anger or hatred, which, though calm,
may likewise be very strong, and have the absolute command over the
mind. The more absolute they are, we find them to be commonly the
calmer. As these instincts may be calm without being weak, so self-love
may likewise become impetuous and disturbed, especially where any great
pain or pleasure approaches.

"P. 21. l. 11.[147:2] In opposition to this, I shall cite a fine
writer,--not for the sake of his authority, but for the fact, which you
may have observed. 'Les hommes comptent presque pour rien toutes les
vertus du coeur, et idolâtrent les talens du corps et de l'esprit:
celui qui dit froidement de soi, et sans croire blesser la modestie,
qu'il est bon, qu'il est constant, fidèle, sincère, équitable,
reconnoissant, n'ose dire qu'il est vif, qu'il a les dents belles et la
peau douce: cela est trop fort.'--_La Bruyere._[148:1]

"I fancy, however, this author stretches the matter too far. It seems
arrogant to pretend to genius or magnanimity, which are the most shining
qualities a man can possess. It seems foppish and frivolous to pretend
to bodily accomplishments. The qualities of the heart lie in a medium;
and are neither so shining as the one, nor so little valued as the
other. I suppose the reason why good nature is not more valued, is its
commonness, which has a vast effect on all our sentiments. Cruelty and
hardness of heart is the most detested of all vices. I always thought
you limited too much your ideas of virtue; and I find I have this
opinion in common with several that have a very high esteem for your

"P. 30, l. _antepen. et quæ seq._[148:2] You seem here to embrace Dr.
Butler's opinion in his "Sermons on Human Nature," that our moral sense
has an authority distinct from its force and durableness; and that
because we always think it _ought_ to prevail. But this is nothing but
an instinct or principle, which approves of itself upon reflection, and
that is common to all of them. I am not sure that I have not mistaken
your sense, since you do not prosecute this thought.

"P. 52. l. 1. I fancy you employ the epithet _ærumnosam_[149:1] more
from custom than your settled opinion.

"P. 129, _et quæ seq._[149:2] You sometimes, in my opinion, ascribe the
original of property and justice to public benevolence, and sometimes to
private benevolence towards the possessors of the goods; neither of
which seem to me satisfactory. You know my opinion on this head. It
mortifies me much to see a person who possesses more candour and
penetration than any almost I know, condemn reasonings of which I
imagine I see so strongly the evidence. I was going to blot out this
after having wrote it, but hope you will consider it only as a piece of
folly, as indeed it is.

"P. 244, l. 7.[149:3] You are so much afraid to derive any thing of
virtue from artifice or human conventions, that you have neglected what
seems to me the most satisfactory reason, viz. lest near relations,
having so many opportunities in their youth, might debauch each other,
if the least encouragement or hope was given to these desires, or if
they were not easily repressed by an artificial horror inspired against

"P. 263, l. 14. As the phrase is true Latin, and very common, it seemed
not to need an apology, as when necessity obliges one to employ modern

"P. 266, l. 18, _et quæ seq._[150:2] You imply a condemnation of Locke's
opinion, which, being the received one, I could have wished the
condemnation had been more express.

"These are the most material things that occurred to me upon a perusal
of your ethics. I must own I am pleased to see such just philosophy, and
such instructive morals to have once set their foot in the schools. I
hope they will next get into the world, and then into the churches.

     Nil desperandum, Teucro duce et auspice Teucro.

"_Edinb. Jan. 10, 1743._"

Among the Scottish gentry of Hume's day, there were many men of high
education and accomplishments; and the glimpses we occasionally obtain
into the society which he frequented, show us a circle possessing a much
less provincial tone than later times would probably have exhibited in
the same class. The notion that a university was a seat of learning,
where the scholarship of all the world should meet, and not a provincial
school, still lingered in our country, and prompted the gentry to
educate their sons abroad. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
the registers of the universities of Paris, Bourgès, Bologna, and
Leyden, were crowded with familiar Scottish names, whom we find holding
as great a proportion among the teachers as among the learners; and thus
a Wilson, a Barclay, a Bellenden, a Jack, and many others, whose fame
hardly reached their native country, are conspicuous among the literary
ornaments of the foreign universities. It is perhaps in a great measure
to the lingering continuance of this practice through part of the
eighteenth century, that we may attribute the learning and
accomplishments of the society in Scotland during that period.[151:1]

"Many are poets who have never penned their inspiration, and perchance
the best." Many also are philosophers who have never either penned their
philosophy, or put it into shape in their own minds. The two operations
of induction and analysis proceed in every human mind with more or less
success; but it is only when literary ambition, or pecuniary necessity,
or the desire to head a system, prompts a man to collect and put into
shape their results, that they are given to the world. Instances have
occurred in which they have appeared very nearly in their raw unwrought
form. Thus, Tucker's "Light of Nature" is nothing more than the
reflections of an English country gentleman, collected and strung
together. Paley and Reid used them as if they had themselves gone
through the operation, and put the results into shape; while the late
William Hazlitt was at the pains of writing an abridgment of the book.
It was fortunate for philosophy that these disconnected observations and
thoughts were collected and preserved. And the reflection leads to the
recollection of the quantity of valuable thoughts that any man, who
notices the course of conversation around him, hears produced and
dropped. In after-dinner social intercourse, in general verbal criticism
of books or men, how much of the gold of true philosophy is scattered
away with the dross; lost almost at the moment it is uttered, and
forgotten both by hearer and speaker.

It is interesting to have so much of this valuable matter, as may have
found its way into epistolary correspondence, preserved. The
conversation of Hume's friends we have unfortunately lost, for there was
no Boswell at his elbow. But their letters show how much of scholarship,
and elegant literature, and philosophy slumbered in the minds of the
Scottish gentry of that age; and assure us that in his intercourse with
an Elliot, a Mure, an Edmonstone, an Elibank, a Macdonald, an Oswald,
Hume was exchanging ideas with men not unworthy of literary fellowship
with a mind even so highly cultivated as his own.

William Mure of Caldwell, who was in 1761 made a Baron of the Exchequer
in Scotland, was among those who seem to have earliest secured and
longest retained Hume's esteem. The letters which passed between them
are not often dated, but the circumstances under which many of them are
written are attested by internal evidence. The following is one of the
few which do not admit of being thus tested, but its merit is in a vein
of quiet, easy, epistolary humour, rather than in its connexion with the
events of the writer's life.

HUME _to_ WILLIAM MURE _of Caldwell_.

"_September 10._

"I made a pen, dipt it in ink, and set myself down in a posture of
writing, before I had thought of any subject, or made provision of one
single thought, by which I might entertain you. I trusted to my better
genius that he would supply me in a case of such urgent necessity; but
having thrice scratched my head, and thrice bit my nails, nothing
presented itself, and I threw away my pen in great indignation. 'O! thou
instrument of dulness,' says I, 'doest thou desert me in my greatest
necessity? and, being thyself so false a friend, hast thou a secret
repugnance at expressing my friendship to the faithful Mure, who knows
thee too well ever to trust to thy caprices, and who never takes thee in
his hand without reluctance. While I, miserable wretch that I am, have
put my chief confidence in thee; and, relinquishing the sword, the gown,
the cassock, and the toilette, have trusted to thee alone for my fortune
and my fame. Begone! avaunt! Return to the goose from whence thou
camest. With her thou wast of some use, while thou conveyedst her
through the etherial regions. And why, alas! when plucked from her wing,
and put into my hand, doest thou not recognise some similitude betwixt
it and thy native soil, and render me the same service, in aiding the
flights of my heavy imagination?'

"Thus accused, the pen erected itself upon its point, placed itself
betwixt my fingers and my thumb, and moved itself to and fro upon this
paper, to inform you of the story, complain to you of my injustice, and
desire your good offices to the reconciling such ancient friends. But
not to speak nonsense any longer, (by which, however, I am glad I have
already filled a page of paper,) I arrived here about three weeks ago,
am in good health, and very deeply immersed in books and study. Tell
your sister, Miss Betty, (after having made her my compliments,) that I
am as grave as she imagines a philosopher should be,--laugh only once a
fortnight, sigh tenderly once a week, but look sullen every moment. In
short, none of Ovid's metamorphoses ever showed so absolute a change
from a human creature into a beast; I mean, from a gallant into a

"I doubt not but you see my Lord Glasgow very often, and therefore I
shall suppose, when I write to one, I pay my respects to both. At least,
I hope he will so far indulge my laziness. _Hanc veniam petimusque
damusque vicissim._

"Did you receive my letter from Glasgow? I hope it did not displease
you. What are your resolutions with regard to that affair?

"Remember me to your sister, Miss Nancy, to Miss Dunlop, and to Mr.
Leechman. Tell your mother, or sisters, or whoever is most concerned
about the matter, that their cousin, John Steuart, is in England, and,
as 'tis believed, will return with a great fortune.

"I say not a word of Mr. Hutcheson, for fear you should think I intend
to run the whole circle of my West-country acquaintance, and to make you
a bearer of a great many formal compliments. But I remember you all
very kindly, and desire to be remembered by you, and to be spoke of
sometimes, and to be wrote to."[155:1]

The following letter is in reference to Mr. Mure having been chosen
member of Parliament for Renfrewshire as successor to Alexander
Cunningham, on whose death a new writ was moved on 22d November, 1742.
The advice which this letter offers to a young statesman, seems to be
both sagacious and honest.

HUME _to_ WILLIAM MURE _of Caldwell_.

"I have wrote to Mr. Oswald[155:2] by this post, in order to promote an
intimacy and friendship betwixt you. I exhort you to persevere in your
intention of cultivating a friendship with him. You cannot possibly find
a man of more worth, of a gentler disposition, or better understanding.
There are infinite advantages attending an intimacy with such persons;
among which this is not the least, as far as I can judge by my own
experience, that I always derive from it an additional motive to
preserve my character for honour and integrity; because I know that
nothing else can preserve their friendship. Should I give you an
exhortation of this kind, you might think me very impertinent; though
really you ought to ascribe it more to my friendship, than my
diffidence. 'Tis impossible ever to think ourselves secure enough, where
our concern is extremely great; and, though I dare be confident of your
good conduct, as of my own, yet you must also allow me to be diffident
of it, as I should be of my own. When I consider your disposition to
virtue, cultivated by letters, together with your moderation, I cannot
doubt of your steadiness. The delicacy of the times does not diminish
this assurance, but only dashes it with a few fears, which rise in me
without my approbation, and against my judgment. Let a strict frugality
be the guardian of your virtue; and preserve your frugality by a close
application to business and study. Nothing would so effectually throw
you into the lumber and refuse of the house as your departure from your
engagements at this time; as a contrary behaviour will secure your own
good opinion, and that of all mankind. These advantages are not too
dearly purchased even by the loss of fortune, but it belongs to your
prudence and frugality to procure them, without paying so dear a
purchase for them. I say no more; and hope you will ascribe what I have
said, not to the pedagogue, or even to the philosopher, but to the
friend. I make profession of being such with regard to you; and desire
you to consider me as such no longer than I shall appear to be a man of
honour. Yours."

_January 26._[156:1]

Among Hume's friends in early life, we find James Oswald of Dunnikier,
who is mentioned in the foregoing letter--a name pretty well known in
the political history of Scotland. He was elected member for the
Kirkaldy district of burghs in 1741. He filled successively the
situations of Commissioner of the Navy, Member of the Board of Trade,
Lord of the Treasury, and Treasurer of Ireland. He was well read in the
sources of literary information, and brought to his official duties a
sagacious, practical understanding, which made him infinitely
serviceable to the speculative labours of his two illustrious friends,
Hume and Smith. "I know," says Hume, "you are the most industrious and
the most indolent man of my acquaintance; the former in business, the
latter in ceremony."[157:1] We have occasional glimpses of philosophical
rambles, not unmixed with a little conviviality, in which Oswald
sometimes embarked with his speculative friends. "You will remember," he
says, writing to Henry Home in 1742, "how your friend David Hume and
you, used to laugh at a most sublime declamation I one night made, after
a drunken expedition to Cupar, on the impotency of corruption in certain
circumstances; how I maintained, that on certain occasions, men felt, or
seemed to feel, a certain dignity in themselves, which made them disdain
to act on sordid motives: and how I imagined it to be extremely
possible, in such situations, that even the lowest of men might become
superior to the highest temptations."[157:2] The political course which
he afterwards adopted, however, was not precisely of this soaring cast,
but savoured more of the school of practical expedients founded by Sir
Robert Walpole. We shall afterwards have occasion to see his intercourse
with Hume illustrated at greater length.

The following letter to Mure, contains a pretty sagacious division of
the prominent political movements of the day, into those which a
supporter of the court party would advocate, and those which he would
oppose. Hume seems to have had some dread lest the spirit of what was
then termed patriotism, might sway an inexperienced, young, and aspiring
politician into devious paths, inconsistent with the straight road of
duty and devotion to an adopted party. But Mure seems to have been a
sagacious steady-minded man, not likely to be seduced out of the path he
had chosen. He was subsequently much relied on by Lord Bute, and rose
to eminence and distinction as a Tory politician. The letter exhibits a
playful practice of talking of his correspondents as his pupils, which
Hume adopted sometimes with those who had least sympathy with his
principles, unless they were clergymen, or otherwise likely to take the
familiarity in bad part.

HUME _to_ WILLIAM MURE _of Caldwell_.

"I am surprised you should find fault with my letter. For my part, I
esteem it the best I ever wrote. There is neither barbarism, solecism,
equivoque, redundancy, nor transgression of one single rule of grammar
or rhetoric, through the whole. The words were chosen with an exact
propriety to the sense, and the sense was full of masculine strength and
energy. In short, it comes up fully to the Duke of Buckingham's
description of fine writing,--_Exact propriety of words and thought_.
This is more than what can be said of most compositions. But I shall not
be redundant in the praise of brevity, though much might be said on that
subject. To conclude all, I shall venture to affirm, that my last letter
will be equal in bulk to all the orations you shall deliver, during the
two first sessions of parliament. For, let all the letters of my epistle
be regularly divided, they will be found equivalent to a dozen of _No's_
and as many _Ay's_. There will be found a _No_ for the triennial bill,
for the pension bill, for the bill about regulating elections, for the
bill of pains and penalties against Lord Orford, &c. There will also be
found an Ay for the standing army,[158:1] for votes of credit, for the
approbation of treaties, &c. As to the last _No_ I mentioned, with
regard to Lord Orford, I beg it of you as a particular favour. For,
having published to all Britain my sentiments on that affair, it will be
thought by all Britain that I have no influence on you, if your
sentiments be not conformable to mine. Besides, as you are my disciple
in religion and morals, why should you not be so in politics? I entreat
you to get the bill about witches repealed, and to move for some new
bill to secure the Christian religion, by burning Deists, Socinians,
Moralists, and Hutchinsonians.

"I shall be in town about Christmas, where, if I find not Lord Glasgow,
I shall come down early in the spring to the borders of the Atlantic
Ocean, and rejoice the Tritons and sea-gods with the prospect of
Kelburn[159:1] in a blaze. For I find, that is the only way to unnestle
his lordship. But I intend to use the freedom to write to himself on
this subject, if you will tell me how to direct to him. In the meantime
do you make use of all your eloquence and argument to that purpose.

"Make my humble compliments to the ladies, and tell them, I should
endeavour to satisfy them, if they would name the subject of the essay
they desire. For my part, I know not a better subject than themselves;
if it were not, that being accused of being unintelligible in some of my
writings, I should be extremely in danger of falling into that fault,
when I should treat of a subject so little to be understood as women. I
would, therefore, rather have them assign me the deiform fund of the
soul, the passive unions of nothing with nothing, or any other of those
mystical points, which I would endeavour to clear up, and render
perspicuous to the meanest readers.

"Allow not Miss Dunlop to forget, that she has a humble servant, who
has the misfortune to be divided from her, by the whole breadth of this
island. I know she never forgets her friends; but, as I dare not pretend
to that relation, upon so short an acquaintance, I must be beholden to
your good offices for preserving me in her memory; because I suspect
mightily that she is apt to forget and overlook those who can aspire no
higher than the relation I first mentioned.

"This, I think, is enough in all conscience. I see you are tired with my
long letter, and begin to yawn. What! can nothing satisfy you, and must
you grumble at every thing? I hope this is a good prognostic of your
being a patriot."[160:1]

"_Nov. 14th._"

In the course of these Memoirs there will be many occasions for
exhibiting Hume's acquaintance with some of the most distinguished
clergymen of his time, and the mutual esteem which he and they
entertained towards each other. Among those members of the Presbyterian
church, with whom he appears to have had the most early intercourse, we
find the name of Dr. Leechman, who was his senior by about five years.
They probably got acquainted with each other in the family of the Mures
of Caldwell, where Leechman had been tutor to Hume's friend and
correspondent. Whatever other jealousies or distastes may have occurred
between them, it would be no drawback to their subsequent intimacy, that
Leechman was by his marriage with Miss Balfour, the brother-in-law of
one of Hume's most zealous controversial opponents, Mr. Balfour of
Pilrig. Dr. Leechman was for many years professor of divinity in the
university of Glasgow, of which he afterwards became principal.
His sermons, now little known, stood at one time in formidable rivalry
with those of Blair. He appears to have been a man who united settled
religious principles with a calm conscientious inquiring mind; and the
account which his biographer, the Rev. James Wodrow, gives of his
lectures, is characteristic of one who had too much respect for truth to
hate or contemn any man engaged in purely metaphysical inquiries,
whatever might be the opinions to which they led him. We are told, that
"no dictatorial opinion, no infallible or decisive judgment on any great
controverted point, was ever delivered from that theological chair.
After the point had undergone a full discussion, none of the students
yet knew the particular opinion of this venerable professor, in any
other way than by the superior weight of the arguments which he had
brought under their view; so delicately scrupulous was he to throw any
bias at all upon ingenuous minds, in their inquiries after sacred

There is a letter by Hume to Baron Mure, containing a criticism on the
composition and substance of a sermon by Dr. Leechman. From the general
tenor of the letter, it would appear that the sermon was placed in
Hume's hands that the author might have the advantage of his suggestions
in preparing a second edition for the press. The criticisms on style and
collocation are careful and minute, but they all indicate blemishes
peculiar to the piece of composition before the critic, and suggest
corresponding improvements; and none of them appear so far to illustrate
any canon of criticism as to be intelligible to a reader who has not
the sermon in his hands, in the same state as that in which it was
inspected by Hume. These corrective annotations precede the following
general remarks on the sermon and its subject. There may be seen in
these remarks a desire, which haunts the whole of Hume's writings on
kindred subjects; a desire to call forth argument and evidence in
support of that side from which he himself feels inclined to dissent;
like the unsatisfied feeling of one who would rather find refuge in the
argumentative fortress of some other person, than remain a sceptical
wanderer at his own free will.

HUME _to_ WILLIAM MURE _of Caldwell_.

"These are all the minute faults I could observe in the sermon. Mr.
Leechman has a very clear and manly expression; but, in my humble
opinion, he does not consult his ear enough, nor aim at a style which
may be smooth and harmonious, which, next to perspicuity, is the chief
ornament of style; _vide_ Cicero, Quinctilian, Longinus, &c. &c. &c. If
this sermon were not a popular discourse, I should also think it might
be made more concise.

"As to the argument, I could wish Mr. Leechman would, in the second
edition, answer this objection both to devotion and prayer, and indeed
to every thing we commonly call religion, except the practice of
morality, and the assent of the understanding to the proposition _that
God exists_.

"It must be acknowledged, that nature has given us a strong passion of
admiration for whatever is excellent, and of love and gratitude for
whatever is benevolent and beneficial; and that the Deity possesses
these attributes in the highest perfection: and yet I assert, he is not
the natural object of any passion or affection. He is no object either
of the senses or imagination, and very little of the understanding,
without which it is impossible to excite any affection. A remote
ancestor, who has left us estates and honours acquired with virtue, is a
great benefactor; and yet 'tis impossible to bear him any affection,
because unknown to us: though in general we know him to be a man or a
human creature, which brings him vastly nearer our comprehension than an
invisible, infinite spirit. A man, therefore, may have his heart
perfectly well disposed towards every proper and natural object of
affection--friends, benefactors, country, children, &c.--and yet, from
this circumstance of the invisibility and incomprehensibility of the
Deity, may feel no affection towards him. And, indeed, I am afraid that
all enthusiasts mightily deceive themselves. Hope and fear perhaps
agitate their breast when they think of the Deity; or they degrade him
into a resemblance with themselves, and by that means render him more
comprehensible. Or they exult with vanity in esteeming themselves his
peculiar favourites; or at best they are actuated by a forced and
strained affection, which moves by starts and bounds, and with a very
irregular, disorderly pace. Such an affection cannot be required of any
man as his duty. Please to observe, that I not only exclude the
turbulent passions, but the calm affections. Neither of them can operate
without the assistance of the senses and imagination; or at least a more
complete knowledge of the object than we have of the Deity. In most men
this is the case; and a natural infirmity can never be a crime. But,
secondly, were devotion never so much admitted, prayer must still be
excluded. First, the addressing of our virtuous wishes and desires to
the Deity, since the address has no influence on him, is only a kind of
rhetorical figure, in order to render these wishes more ardent and
passionate. This is Mr. Leechman's doctrine. Now, the use of any figure
of speech can never be a duty. Secondly, this figure, like most figures
of rhetoric, has an evident impropriety in it; for we can make use of no
expression, or even thought, in prayers and entreaties, which does not
imply that these prayers have an influence. Thirdly, this figure is very
dangerous, and leads directly, and even unavoidably, to impiety and
blasphemy. 'Tis a natural infirmity of men to imagine that their prayers
have a direct influence; and this infirmity must be extremely fostered
and encouraged by the constant use of prayer. Thus, all wise men have
excluded the use of images and pictures in prayer, though they certainly
enliven devotion; because 'tis found by experience, that with the vulgar
these visible representations draw too much towards them, and become the
only objects of devotion."[164:1]

The literary history of this sermon is curious and instructive. When its
author received his appointment of professor of divinity in 1744, a
party in the church opposed his being admitted in the usual manner as a
member of the presbytery of Glasgow; and one of their methods of attack
was to charge him with heretical opinions, promulgated in this sermon,
of which the first edition had been then published. It is singular
enough, in comparing their charge with Hume's criticism, to find the two
attacks brought against the same point, though with different weapons.
"The purport of the whole went to charge Mr. Leechman with having laid
too little stress on the merit of the satisfaction and intercession of
our blessed Saviour, as the sole ground of our acceptance with God in
prayer, and with teaching Christians to look for pardon and acceptance
on other grounds than this."[165:1]

At this time, we find Hume making an effort to obtain a professorship in
Edinburgh. Dr. Pringle, subsequently Sir John Pringle, and President of
the Royal Society of London,--

           "Who sat in Newton's chair,
     And wonder'd how the devil he got there,"--

held the chair of "ethics and pneumatic philosophy"[165:2] in the
university of Edinburgh. In 1742, he was appointed physician to the Earl
of Stair, commander of the British troops in the Low Countries; and
through this circumstance it will be seen, from the following letter,
that Hume contemplated a vacancy, and that he was employing the usual
means for securing his own appointment to the chair.

HUME _to_ WILLIAM MURE _of Caldwell_.

"DEAR WILL,--I shall tell you how my affair stands. Dr. Pringle has been
absent two years by allowance, and about six weeks ago wrote a letter to
the provost, in which he seemed in a manner to have resigned his office;
and desired the council, if they thought the university any way a
sufferer by his absence, to send him over a resignation in form, which
he would sign, and then they might proceed to the choice of a successor.
Mr. Couts,[165:3] upon receiving this, mentioned me to several of the
council, and desired me to mention myself as a candidate to all my
friends; not with a view of soliciting or making interest, but in order
to get the public voice on my side, that he might with the more
assurance employ his interest in my behalf. I accordingly did so; and
being allowed to make use of the provost's name, I found presently that
I should have the whole council on my side, and that, indeed, I should
have no antagonist. But when the provost produced the doctor's letter to
the council, he discovered that he had in secret wrote differently to
some of his friends, who still insisted that the town should give him
allowance to be absent another year. The whole council, however, except
two or three, exclaimed against this proposal, and it appeared
evidently, that if the matter had been put to a vote, there would have
been a majority of ten to one against the doctor. But Mr. Couts, though
his authority be quite absolute in the town, yet makes it a rule to
govern them with the utmost gentleness and moderation: and this good
maxim he sometimes pushes even to an extreme. For the sake of unanimity,
therefore, he agrees to an expedient, started by one of the doctor's
friends, which he thought would be a compliment to the doctor, and yet
would serve the same purpose as the immediate declaration of a vacancy
in the office. This expedient was to require either the doctor's
resignation, or a declaration upon honour, that whether it were peace or
war, or in any event, he would against November, 1745, return to his
office, and resign his commission of physician to the army, or any other
employment incompatible with his attendance in this place. This last
condition, Mr. Couts thinks it impossible he will comply with, because
he has a guinea a-day at present, as physician to the army, along with a
good deal of business and half-pay during life. And there seems at
present to be small chance for a peace before the term here assigned. I
find, however, that some are of a contrary opinion; and particularly
several of the doctor's friends say that he will sign the obligation
above-mentioned. We shall receive his answer in a fortnight, upon which
my success seems entirely to depend.

"In the mean time, I have received another offer, which I shall tell you
as a friend, but desire you may not mention to any body. My Lord
Garlees[167:1] received a commission from Mr. Murray of Broughton[167:2]
to look out for a travelling tutor to his son, who is at present at
Glasgow. My lord inclines to give me the preference, but I could not
positively accept, till I had seen the end of this affair, which is so
near a crisis. Please to inform me of any particulars that you know with
regard to the young man, his family, &c., that in case the former
project fail, I may deliberate upon the other. The accusation of heresy,
deism, scepticism, atheism, &c. &c. &c., was started against me; but
never took, being bore down by the contrary authority of all the good
company in town. But what surprised me extremely, was to find that this
accusation was supported by the pretended authority of Mr. Hutcheson and
even Mr. Leechman, who, 'tis said, agreed that I was a very unfit person
for such an office. This appears to me absolutely incredible, especially
with regard to the latter gentleman. For, as to Mr. Hutcheson, all my
friends think that he has been rendering me bad offices to the utmost
of his power. And I know that Mr. Couts, to whom I said rashly that I
thought I could depend upon Mr. Hutcheson's friendship and
recommendation,--I say, Mr. Couts now speaks of that professor rather as
my enemy than as my friend. What can be the meaning of this conduct in
that celebrated and benevolent moralist, I cannot imagine. I shall be
glad to find, for the honour of philosophy, that I am mistaken: and,
indeed, I hope so too; and beg of you to inquire a little into the
matter, but very cautiously, lest I make him my open and professed
enemy, which I would willingly avoid. Here then it behoves you to be
very discreet.

"'Tis probable Mr. Murray of Broughton may consult Mr. Hutcheson and the
other professors of Glasgow, before he fix absolutely on a tutor for his
son. We shall then see whether he really entertains a bad opinion of my
orthodoxy, or is only unwilling that I should be Professor of Ethics in
Edinburgh; lest that town, being in the neighbourhood of Glasgow, should
spread its contagion all around it, and even infect the students of the
latter university.

"I have passed a week with Mr. Oswald at Kirkcaldy. He makes his
compliments to you. He has shown me the whole economy of the navy, the
source of the navy debt, with many other branches of public business. He
seems to have a great genius for these affairs, and I fancy will go far
in that way if he perseveres."

"_Edinburgh, August 4, 1744._"[168:1]

It may easily be imagined that both Mr. Hutcheson and Dr. Leechman would
be opposed to the appointment of David Hume as a teacher of moral
philosophy in one of the universities; and that they might entertain
this opinion along with an honest admiration of his character, and an
appreciation of the value of his talents when exercised in another
sphere. It is at all events gratifying to find, that whatever opposition
Hutcheson may have made, he was influenced by no sordid motive, as he
was offered the chair, and refused it. On 27th March, 1745, a letter in
which Dr. Pringle resigned the chair, was read to the Town Council. On
3d April, a nomination to the chair was transmitted to Hutcheson.[169:1]
He declined the honour, in a rather verbose letter, in which he speaks
in the tone of one whose tenure of life cannot be expected to be strong
enough to fit him for new labours: yet he was then only fifty years old.
His death occurred two years later, and he probably felt that his long
series of intellectual labours had exhausted too much of the stamina of
life to leave him the prospect of a successful career in a new sphere of
duty. On Hutcheson's letter being read to the council, on 10th April,
1745, the minutes bear, that "several other persons having been named as
proper candidates, it was thereupon moved in council, whether to proceed
to take the ministers' avisamentum betwixt and next council day, in
order to facilitate their choice, or to delay the same for a month or
six weeks, so that the members of council might with the greater leisure
deliberate thereanent; and the rolls having thereupon been called, and
the vote marked, it carried delay for said space."

It is probable that the "ministers' avisamentum," whatever may be
precisely designed by that phrase, was not such a recommendation as
would turn the minds of the members of council in favour of Hume. His
name is not mentioned in the council records in connexion with the
proceedings, and the vacancy was filled up on 5th June, 1745, by the
appointment of William Cleghorn, who had acted for Dr. Pringle in his

The date of these transactions, brings us into the middle of a very
curious episode in Hume's history, which must now be examined.


[139:1] Essay on the Independency of Parliament.

[141:1] This concluding sentence was added in the third Edition, (1748,)
in which also the passage within brackets was modified.

[145:1] Tytler's Life of Kames, i. 98, et seq.

[147:1] Ab his animi motibus purioribus, et tranquillo stabilique suae
beatitudinis appetitione, quae ratione utitur duce, diversi plane sunt
motus quidam vehementiores et perturbati, quibus, secundum naturae suae
legem, saepe agitatur mens, ubi certa species ipsi obversatur, atque
bruto quodam impetu, fertur ad quaedam agenda, prosequenda, aut
fugienda, quamvis nondum, adhibita in consilium ratione, secum statuerat
haec ad vitam facere vel beatam vel miseram. Hos motus quisque
intelliget, qui, in se descendens, in memoriam revocaverit quali animi
impetu fuerat abreptus, quae passus, quum libidine, ambitione, ira,
odio, invidia, amore, laetitia, aut metu, agitabatur; etiam ubi nihil de
earum rerum, quae mentem commoverant, cursu ad vitam beatam aut miseram
serio cogitarat. Quid quod saepe in partes contrarias distineantur et
distrahantur homines, cum aliud cupido, mens vero, ejusque appetitus
tranquillus, aliud suadeat.

[147:2] Diximus ex virtutis comprobatione ardentiorem efflorescere
amorem, in eos qui virtute videntur praediti. Quumque in omnes suas
vires, affectiones, sensus, vota, appetitiones, reflectere possit mens,
eaque contemplari; ille ipse decori et honesti sensus acrior, ardentior
virtutis appetitio, et honestiorum omnium amor et caritas, omnino
comprobabitur; neque ulla animi affectio magis, quam optimi cujusque
dilectiones et caritates.

[148:1] See _Caractéres_ _Ch._ 11. De L'homme.

[148:2] Qui multiplicem sensuum horum perspexerit varietatem, quibus res
adeo dispares hominibus commendantur appetendae; animique propensiones
pariter multiplices, et mutabiles; et inter se saepe pugnantes
appetitus, et desideria, quibus suam quisque insequitur utilitatem,
eamque variam, aut non minus variam voluptatem; eam etiam ingenii
humanitatem, affectionesque benignas multiplices; humana huic natura
prima specie videbitur, chaos quoddam, rudisque rerum non bene junctarum
moles, nisi altius repetendo, nexum quendam, et ordinem a natura
constitutum, et principatum deprehenderit, aut ἡγημονικὸν aliquod, ad
modum caeteris ponendum idoneum. Philosophiae munus et hoc investigare,
atque monstrare qua demum ratione haec sint ordinanda; miro enim

     Hanc Deus, et melior litem natura diremit.

[149:1] Hanc vitam caducam et aerumnosam.

[149:2] The chapter _De Dominii acquirendi Rationibus_.

[149:3] De nuptiis consanguineorum in linea transversa, quas adferunt
rationes viri docti, vix quiquam affirmant. Quia vero apud plurimas
gentes legis Judaicae ignaras, ejusmodi nuptiae habebantur impurae et
nefariae, credibile est et eas in prima mundi aetate lege aliqua
positiva, cujus diu manserunt vestigia, fuisse a Deo vetitas. Ea autem
lex hoc praecipue spectasse videtur, ut plures familiae gentesque ea
devinciantur caritate et benevolentia, quae ex affinitate et sanguinis
conjunctione oriri solet. Alia forte commoda hominibus nascituris
prospexit Deus, ex eo quod gentes variae, conjugiis inter se misceantur.

[150:1] This is in reference to the word _despotica_ being put in
italics as a modern barbarism.

[150:2] Civium quisque non sibi solum, verum et liberis, a civitate
defensionem stipulatur, et omnia vitae civilis commoda. Liberis gestum
est negotium utilissimum; unde citra suum consensum, ad ea omnia pro
ipsorum viribus, facienda praestanda adstringuntur, quae ob istiusmodi
commoda ab adultis jure flagitari poterant. Nihil autem aequius quam ut
singuli, pro virili parte, eam tueantur civitatem, neque ab ea
intempestive discedant, cujus beneficio diu protecti, innumeris potiti
fuerant vitae excultae commodis; utque haec a majoribus accepta ad
posteros transmittant.

[151:1] The practice of sending young men to the continental
universities, seems to have continued for a longer time in the north
than in the south. Within these few years it was not uncommon north of
the Grampians, to meet with elderly country gentlemen, recalling to each
other the memorable events of their student life at Leyden. The practice
appears to be reviving in a favour for the German universities; but
perhaps it is now more frequently followed by the commercial classes
than by the country gentlemen.

[155:1] MS. R.S.E. This letter is printed in the _Literary Gazette_ for
1822, p. 635.

[155:2] Mr. Oswald of Dunnikier.

[156:1] MS. R.S.E. _Literary Gazette_, 1822, p. 635.

[157:1] Memorials of James Oswald, p. 82.

[157:2] Ib. p. 19-20.

[158:1] This refers to the taking Hanoverian troops into British pay,
warmly debated in the House of Commons on 10th December, 1742.

[159:1] The Earl of Glasgow's house, on the coast of Ayrshire.

[160:1] MS. R.S.E. _Literary Gazette_, 1822, p. 636.

[161:1] Sermons by William Leechman, D.D. to which is prefixed some
account of the author's life, and his character, by James Wodrow, D.D.
1789, i. 34.

[164:1] MS. R.S.E.

[165:1] Memoir, _ut supra_, p. 23.

[165:2] Pneumatic Philosophy must here be taken in its old sense, as
meaning Psychology.

[165:3] John Couts or Coutts, a native of Dundee, at that time Lord
Provost of Edinburgh. He was the father of Thomas Coutts, the celebrated

[167:1] The title of courtesy of the eldest son of the Earl of Galloway.

[167:2] There were two Murrays of Broughton. The one had a small piece
of property in Tweeddale, between Noblehouse and Moffat; and soon after
the date of this letter acquired an infamous celebrity by giving
evidence against the rebels, after having acted as secretary to the
Pretender. The other, who was probably the person Hume had in view, had
a considerable estate in Galloway.

[168:1] MS. R.S.E.

[169:1] Town Council Records, where he is called George Hutcheson,
instead of Francis.


1745-1747. ÆT. 34-36.

     Hume's Residence with the Marquis of Annandale--His
     Predecessor Colonel Forrester--Correspondence with Sir James
     Johnstone and Mr. Sharp of Hoddam--Quarrel with Captain
     Vincent--Estimate of his Conduct, and Inquiry into the
     Circumstances in which he was placed--Appointed Secretary to
     General St. Clair--Accompanies the expedition against the
     Court of France as Judge-Advocate--Gives an Account of the
     Attack on Port L'Orient--A tragic Incident.

Hume's history of his residence with the Marquis of Annandale, is given
in the following brief terms, in his "own life." "In 1745, I received a
letter from the Marquis of Annandale, inviting me to come and live with
him in England: I found, also, that the friends and family of that young
nobleman were desirous of putting him under my care and direction, for
the state of his mind and health required it. I lived with him a
twelvemonth. My appointments during that time made a considerable
accession to my small fortune."

It might have been favourable perhaps to the dignity of his position in
the world of letters, that this episode in his history had never been
more fully narrated; for a philosopher conducting a litigation for £75
of arrears of salary, is apt to experience that diminution of respect in
the eyes of the public, which the prince of Condé discovered that a hero
suffered in those of his valet. Since, however, many statements have
been given to the world, connected with that part of Hume's life, and
many charges and countercharges among the persons connected with it are
preserved, it is necessary to give such a brief view of the whole
affair, as may enable the reader to estimate the respective merits of
the parties in the dispute. A collection of documents on the subject was
lately published by a gentleman to whom the literary history of Scotland
is indebted for many other services;[171:1] and from his book the
following statement is compiled.

The person with whom David Hume was thus connected was the last Marquis
of Annandale, on whose death that title became dormant. On the 5th of
March, 1748, he was found, on an inquest from the Court of Chancery in
England, to be a lunatic, incapable of governing himself and managing
his own affairs, and to have been so since 12th December, 1744, a few
months anterior to Hume's engagement with him. The correspondence does
not give the reader the notion of one reduced to so abject a mental
state, but rather that of a man nervously timid and reserved;
distrustful of himself and his ability to transact business with other
people, but not quite incapable of managing his affairs, though
exciteable, and liable to be driven into fits of passion by causes not
susceptible of being anticipated. A party to the correspondence, talking
of him as in an improved condition, says: "My Lord walked out with me
lately two or three miles, received and returned the compliments of the
hat of those we met, and without any shyness or reserve: and bears to
stand by, and hear me talk with any farmer or countryman. This is a vast
change for the better, and the greatest appearance that it will
continue."[172:1] He appears to have been haunted by a spirit of
literary ambition. Hume says in a letter to Lord Elibank, "I have copied
out half a dozen of epigrams, which I hope will give you entertainment.
The thought in them is indeed little inferior to that in the celebrated
Epigrams of Rousseau; though the versification be not so correct. What a
pity! I say this on account both of the author and myself; for I am
afraid I must leave him." And on another occasion he alludes at length
to a far more extensive literary achievement, a novel, which the
excited Marquis had written, and which those about him had found it
necessary to print, circulating a few copies, and advertising it in one
newspaper to allay any suspicions in the author's mind that a thousand
copies had not been printed. Hume says:

"You would certainly be a little surprised and vexed on receiving a
printed copy of the novel, which was in hands when you left London. If I
did not explain the mystery to you, I believe I told you, that I hoped
that affair was entirely over, by my employing Lord Marchmont and Lord
Bolingbroke's authority against publishing that novel; though you will
readily suppose that neither of these two noble Lords ever perused it.
This machine operated for six weeks; but the vanity of the author
returned with redoubled force, fortified by suspicions, and increased by
the delay. 'Pardie,' dit il, 'je crois que ces messieurs veulent être
les seules Seigneurs d'Angleterre qui eussent de l'esprit. Mais je leur
montrerai ce que le petit A---- peut faire aussi.' In short, we were
obliged to print off thirty copies, to make him believe that we had
printed a thousand, and that they were to be dispersed all over the

"My Lady Marchioness will also receive a copy, and I am afraid it may
give her a good deal of uneasiness, by reason of the story alluded to in
the novel, and which she may imagine my Lord is resolved to bring to
execution. Be so good, therefore, as to inform her, that I hope this
affair is all over. I discovered, about a fortnight ago, that one of the
papers sent to that damsel had been sent back by her under cover to his
rival, Mr. M'----, and that she had plainly, by that step, sacrificed
him to her other lover. This was real matter of fact, and I had the
good fortune to convince him of it; so that his pride seems to have got
the better of his passion, and he never talks of her at present."

The "novel" appears to have referred to some little event in its
author's private history. If there be a copy of it now any where
existing, it is to be feared that it wastes its fragrance on the desert
air, as the existence of so choice a flower of literature, were it in
the possession of any collector, could not fail to have been rumoured
through the bibliographical world.

The Marquis had previously been attended by a succession of hired
companions, of whom one was a man of considerable distinction, Colonel
James Forrester,[174:1] a person who, in the Scottish society of the
age, seems to have united some of the qualities of a Chesterfield to a
like proportion of those of a Beau Fielding. He was the author of "The
Polite Philosopher;" a lively little essay, sometimes published along
with Chesterfield's "Advice," in which the author is so much at ease
with his reader, that he discourses in prose or poetry as his own humour
dictates. Johnson said, with reference to the man and the book, that "he
was himself the great polite he drew;" and if it did not happen that his
coxcombry excited the poor invalid's irritable nerves to distraction, he
was probably an infinitely more suitable man for the office of companion
to the Marquis of Annandale, than David Hume.

The overtures to Hume were made by the Marquis himself; who was,
according to an expression used by Sir James Johnstone, when writing to
Hume, "charmed with something contained in his Essays." The place of
residence of the Marquis was Weldhall, near St. Alban's, in
Hertfordshire. Hume had to go to London to make the anticipatory
arrangements, and he commenced his companionship on 1st April, 1745. The
insurrection, headed by Prince Charles Edward in Scotland, commenced
four months afterwards; and there is perhaps nothing more curious in
the whole dispute than the indifference with which this matter, fraught
with so much importance to his countrymen, is spoken of by Hume; while
there could not probably be a better answer to those who afterwards
insinuated that he was a Jacobite, than an account of the manner in
which his thoughts were occupied during that struggle. He occasionally
complains that he is prevented from personally discussing, with the
individuals interested, the matters he is writing about, on account of
"the present unhappy troubles;" and the following portion of a letter to
Sir James Johnstone of Westerhall, the brother of the Marquis's
stepfather, written immediately after he had left his attendance on the
Marquis, is the only occasion in which he appears to show the least
sympathy in the conflict or its results.

"_Portsmouth, June 6, 1746._

"DEAR SIR,--I have always sympathized very cordially with you, whenever
I met with any of the names, wherein you was interested, in any of the
public papers; but I hope that one of the persons is now safe by his
escape, and the other protected by her sex and innocence.[176:1] We live
not now in a time, when public crimes are supposed to cancel all private
ties, or when the duties of relation, even though executed beyond the
usual bounds, will render the persons criminal. I am willing,
therefore, to flatter myself, that your anxiety must now be in a great
measure over, and that a more happy conclusion of so calamitous an
affair could not be expected, either for private individuals or for the
public. Some little time ago, we had here a conversation with regard to
L----, and other persons in her condition, when General St. Clair said,
that he heard, from some of the ministers, that the intentions of the
menaces, or even of the intended prosecutions (if they went so far,)
were not to proceed to execution; but only to teach our countrywomen
(many of whom had gone beyond all bounds) that their sex was no absolute
protection to them, and that they were equally exposed to the law with
the other sex. However, I doubt not but your friend has no occasion for
their clemency, whatever may be the case with the other ladies in the
same situation, who had particularly valued themselves upon their
activity and courage."

It is now necessary to enter on a subject, which one feels a natural
inclination to postpone, as long as the order of events will afford any
excuse for looking at other things: the treatment Hume experienced in
this his self-adopted slavery. He had to deal with a capricious
unreasonable employer; to that he would, in the circumstances,
philosophically reconcile himself. He states in one of his letters, that
he lived with him "in a more equal way of complaisance and good humour
than could well have been expected. Some little disgusts and humours
could not be prevented, and never were proposed to be of any
consequence." But he had another and a far more unpleasant person to
deal with, in a certain Philip Vincent, a captain in the navy,[178:1] a
relation of the Dowager-marchioness of Annandale. For some months
matters appear to have gone smoothly with all concerned. The following
letter to one of his esteemed friends, shows that Hume was consoling
himself for the probable dissipation of his hopes of a professorship, by
reflecting on his good fortune in being connected with so amiable and
excellent a man as Captain Vincent:--

[Illustration: handwritten letter, text of which follows]

HUME _to_ MATTHEW SHARP _of Hoddam_.[178:2]

"MY DEAR SIR,--I am informed that such a popular clamour has been raised
against me in Edinburgh, on account of scepticism, heterodoxy, and other
hard names, which confound the ignorant, that my friends find some
difficulty, in working out the point of my professorship, which once
appeared so easy. Did I need a testimonial for my orthodoxy, I should
certainly appeal to you; for you know that I always imitated Job's
friends, and defended the cause of Providence when [you] attacked it, on
account of the headachs you felt after a deba[uch.] But, as a more
particular explication of that particular seems superfluous, I shall
only apply to you for a renewal of your good offices with your
nephew, Lord Tinwal,[179:1] whose interest with Yetts and Allan may be
of service to me. There is no time to lose; so that I must beg you to be
speedy in writing to him, or speaking to him on that head. A word to the
wise. Even that is not necessary to a friend, such as I have always
esteemed and found you to be.

"I live here very comfortably with the Marquis of Annandale, who, I
suppose you have heard, sent me a letter of invitation, along with a
bill of one hundred pounds, about two months ago. Every thing is much
better than I expected, from the accounts I heard after I came to
London; for the secrecy with which I stole away from Edinburgh, and
which I thought necessary for preserving my interest there, kept me
entirely ignorant of his situation.

"My lord never was in so good a way [before.] He has a regular family,
honest servants, and every thing is managed genteelly and with economy.
He has intrusted all his English affairs to a mighty honest friendly
man, Captain Vincent, who is cousin-german to the Marchioness. And as my
lord has now taken so strong a turn to solitude and repose, as he
formerly had to company and agitation, 'tis to be hoped that his good
parts and excellent dispositions may at last, being accompanied with
more health and tranquillity, render him a comfort to his friends, if
not an ornament to his country. As you live in the neighbourhood of the
Marchioness, it may give her a pleasure to hear these particulars. I
am,[180:1] &c.

"_Weldehall, near St. Albans_,

"_April 25, 1745._"

On the other hand, we find Captain Vincent, when he speaks of Hume,
saying, "I think it very happy that he is with my lord, and still more
so if he is constantly to remain with him, which I do not foresee but
that he may; and I must do him the justice to say, that after having had
time enough to weigh the temper, situation, and circumstances of the
person he has to deal with, he very candidly owned that it was what he
could cheerfully abide with." And again in August, "Mr. Hume is almost
wholly taken up with our friend personally, so that he can scarce have
the resource of amusement, or even of business, which is somewhat hard
upon a man of erudition and letters, whom indeed I think very deserving
and good natured; and whilst he can be his companion, there could not be
a better made choice of." The captain, in other letters, speaks of Hume
as "a very worthy and knowing man," and as "My friend Mr. Hume;" and
seems at one time to have wished that an annuity of £100 a-year should
be settled upon him, without reference to his continuance in his office,
and in addition to the salary he might receive while he did so. But the
dawn was soon afterwards overcast.

Hume, in the first place, disliked some of Captain Vincent's proposed
arrangements, as to the disposal of the person of the Marquis, and
seems to have soon suspected him of wishing to carry through designs
which would materially affect the interest of some of the Marquis's
relations. It is probable that a feeling of friendliness, or of duty,
may have prompted him to interfere. It may be so, and he may in reality
have done good; but the impression produced by the correspondence is,
regret that Hume did not at once retire in lofty scorn from the scene of
these paltry cabals.

Captain Vincent held a commission from the Marquis to "hire and dismiss
servants," and perform other like functions. It was in virtue of this
authority that he dealt with Hume; and he seems at first to have
thought, that in the person of the philosopher he had met with a sort of
superior and valuable member of the fraternity of upper-servants. Though
Hume had then written the works on which a large portion of his European
reputation was afterwards built, this man seems to have regarded his
literary abilities as merely an enhancement of the qualities which
suited him for his servile office. Looking upon himself as a member of
the family, he appears to have had much the same disposition to admit
that Hume's literary distinction put them on a par with each other, as
he might have had to admit that the display of an unexpected degree of
musical talent in the servants' hall would qualify one of its
frequenters to be hail-fellow well met with him in the dining-room.
Whether Hume was right or wrong in the suspicions he entertained of
Vincent, the conduct of Vincent to Hume was brutal, and that on his own

One of Hume's views, as to the proper treatment of the Marquis, was,
that the isolation of Weldhall was unsuitable to his condition: that he
should be in a a more cheerful residence, and one in other respects
more suitable; and the dispute appears to have been for some time
suspended on this peg. On the 31st October, Hume writes:--

"What is the mighty matter in dispute? Only about hiring a few carts to
remove the family to another house, in order to quit this; which, for
very good reasons, is infinitely disagreeable to your friend, very
dangerous, will be uninhabitable for cold during the winter season, and
costs £300 to £400 a-year, at least, to the family, more than is
requisite." And afterwards he says of Vincent:--"He said, when he was
here, that we shall live in this house till the lease was out, in spite
of all opposition."

In the letter from which the preceding passage is taken, he says to Sir
James Johnstone,--

"I must begin by complaining of you for having yoked me here with a man
of the Captain's character, without giving me the least hint concerning
it, if it was known to you, as, indeed, it is no secret to the world.
You seemed satisfied with his conduct, and even praised him to me; which
I am fully persuaded was the effect of your caution, not your
conviction. However, I, who was altogether a stranger, entered into the
family with so gross a prepossession. I found a man who took an infinite
deal of pains for another, with the utmost professions both of
disinterestedness and friendship to him and me; and I readily concluded
that such a one must be either one of the best, or one of the worst of
men. I can easily excuse myself for having judged at first on the
favourable side; and must confess that, when light first began to break
in upon me, I resisted it as I would a temptation of the devil. I
thought it, however, proper to keep my eyes open for farther
observation; till the strangest and most palpable facts, which I shall
inform you of at meeting, put the matter out of all doubt to me.

"There is nothing he would be fonder of than to sow dissension betwixt
my Lady and you, whom he hates and fears. He flatters, and caresses, and
praises, and hates me also; and would be glad to chase me away, as doing
me the honour, and, I hope, the justice of thinking me a person very
unfit for his purposes. As he wants all manner of pretext from my
conduct and behaviour, he has broken his word."

That these statements are not those of a secret foe emitting calumnies
in the dark, is made clear by the concluding terms of the letter, in
which the writer, instead of asking his correspondent to keep its
contents secret--a very common clause when people, thrown much in each
other's way, write about each other's conduct to third parties--says, "I
wish you would bring this letter south with you, that, if you will allow
it, I may show it to him,"--that is, to Vincent.

The excitement communicated to Hume's nerves on this occasion, is shown
by the following short letter to Sir James, so much at variance with the
usual character of his writings:--

"God forgive you, dear Sir, God forgive you, for neither coming to us,
nor writing to us. The unaccountable, and, I may say, the inhuman
treatment we meet with here, throws your friend into rage and fury, and
me into the greatest melancholy. My only comfort is when I think of your
arrival; but still I know not when I can propose to myself that
satisfaction. I flatter myself you have received two short letters I
wrote within this month; though the uncertainty of the post gives me
apprehension. I must again entreat you to favour me with a short line,
to let me know the time you can propose to be with us; for, if it be
near, I shall wait with patience and with pleasure; if distant, I shall
write you at length, that you and my Lady Marchioness may judge of our
circumstances and situation.--I am, Dear Sir, yours, with great
sincerity, D. H."

Unfortunately, the precise objects which the parties respectively
desired to accomplish cannot be distinctly ascertained, as the letters
generally refer to explanations which it will be necessary for the
parties to make when they meet, because the troubled character of the
times made private letters liable to be opened and inspected. Hume at
the same time, being in the midst of a considerable retinue of servants
under the control and management of his enemy, was in dread that spies
were set on his motions. Thus he says to Sir James Johnstone,--

"I did write you the very first occasion after I came out thither. But I
find my letters have great difficulty to reach you; for which reason I
shall put this into the post-house myself, to prevent such practices as
I suspect are used in this family. I have some reason also to think that
spies are placed upon my most indifferent actions. I told you that I had
had more conversation with one of the servants than was natural, and for
what reason. Perhaps this fellow had the same privilege granted him as
other spies, to rail against his employer, in order to draw in an
unguarded man to be still more unguarded. But such practices, if real,
(for I am not altogether certain,) can only turn to the confusion of
those who use them. Where there is no arbitrary power, innocence must
be safe; and if there be arbitrary power in this family, 'tis long since
I knew I could not remain in it. What a scene is this for a man
nourished in philosophy and polite letters to enter into, all of a
sudden, and unprepared! But I can laugh, whatever happens; and the
newness of such practices rather diverts me. At first they caused
indignation and hatred; and even (though I am ashamed to confess it)
melancholy and sorrow."

What a scene indeed!

The chief incidental light that can be thrown on the nature of the
suspicions which Hume entertained of Vincent, is derived from the
position of the person to whom the greater part of these letters were
addressed--Sir James Johnstone, who has already been alluded to as a
connexion of the Annandale family. His brother, Colonel John Johnstone,
had married the Marchioness-dowager, the mother of the Marquis, and by
her had three children. She was an heiress; and though the Scottish
estates, following an entail, were destined to pass to another family,
her own property would be inherited by the children of her second
marriage, on the death of the Marquis. The accumulated rents of his
estates, being movable property, would also be the subject of
succession, different from that of the entail; and therefore the
management of this property, during his imbecility, was a matter of much
moment to some of his connexions. The public had ample opportunity of
knowing the extent of these accumulated funds. They rose to the sum of
£415,000, and were the subject of long litigation both in England and
Scotland. The "Annandale cases" had a material effect in settling in
Britain the important principle which had been previously adopted over
the greater part of Europe, that the movable or personal estate of a
deceased person must be distributed according to the law of the country
where he had his domicile or permanent residence at the time of his

It is pretty evident that Vincent had certain family projects in view in
connexion with the management of the estate, and that Hume wished to
defeat them. Before the outbreak of the quarrel, the latter had written
to Sir James:

"I shall endeavour to give you my opinion, which I am certain would be
yours, were you to pass a day amongst us. I am sorry, therefore, to
inform you, that nothing now remains but to take care of your friend's
person, in the most decent and convenient manner; and, with regard to
his fortune, to be attentive that the great superplus, which will remain
after providing for these purposes, should be employed by my Lady and
your nephews, as the true proprietors, for their honour and advantage."

Having written a civil letter to Vincent, stating that he desired the
intervention of Sir James Johnstone, and that he believed, in the mean
time, that the Marquis was satisfied with the engagement, and did not
wish him to be dismissed, he thus hints to Sir James his suspicions of
Vincent's views.

"I must own it was with excessive reluctance I wrote so softening and
obliging a letter to this man; but as I knew that such a method of
proceeding was conformable to your intentions, I thought it my duty to
comply. However, I easily saw it would all be vain, and would only
fortify him in his arrogance. Do you think that _the absolute possession
of so ample a fortune_, to which this is the first requisite step, is a
prize to be resigned for a few fair words or flattering professions? He
deals too much in that bait himself ever to be caught with it by others.

"I think this is the last opportunity that will ever offer of retrieving
the family and yourself (as far as you are concerned with the family,)
from falling into absolute slavery to so odious a master. If, in the
beginning, and while he is watched by jealous eyes, he can attempt such
things, what will he not do when he has fixed his authority, and has no
longer any inspector over him?

"'Tis lucky, therefore, that this, as it seems the last, is so good an
opportunity. Nothing was ever so barefaced as his conduct. To quarrel
with me, merely because I civilly supported a most reasonable project;
to threaten me with his vengeance, if I opened my lips to you concerning
your friend's affairs; to execute that threat, without a pretext, or
without consulting you; these steps give us such advantages over him as
must not be neglected.

"I hope you will not take it amiss, if I say, that your conduct, with
regard to your friend, and to those who have at different times been
about him, has all along been too gentle and cautious. I had
considerably shaken the authority of this man (though I had no authority
myself,) merely by my firmness and resolution. He now assumes more, when
he observes your precautions.

"But, as I do not believe that, though your firmness may daunt him, it
will ever engage him to loose hold of so fine a prize, it will be
requisite to think of more effectual remedies. Happily there is time
enough both to contrive and to execute. For, though he makes me the
offer of present payment, (which I hope you observed,) in order to
engage me to leave you presently, he shall not get rid of me so easily."

Hume appears, with a marvellous degree of self-restraint--marvellous in
a man of independent spirit--to have felt that it was his duty not to be
driven from his post by the insults of Vincent. He says to Sir James
Johnstone, when apparently wearied out, "I fancy he must prevail at
last; and I shall take care not to be a bone of contention betwixt you,
unless you think I am the most advantageous piece of ground on which you
can resist him." His opinion, that the interests of the other relations
were concerned in his resisting Vincent's designs, is confirmed by the
following letter, also addressed to Sir James Johnstone:--

"He [Vincent] desired you should intermeddle as little as possible in
these affairs; adding, that he intended, by keeping my Lord's person and
his English affairs in his own hands, to free my Lady from all slavery
to you.

"Ever since, no entreaties, no threatenings have been spared to make me
keep silence to you; to which my constant answer was, that I thought not
that consistent with my duty. I told him freely, that I would lay all
the foregoing reasons before you, when you came to London, and hoped you
would prevail with him to alter his opinion. If not, we should all
write, if you thought proper, to my Lady Marchioness, in order to have
her determination. The endeavouring, then, to make me keep silence to
you, was also to keep my Lady in the dark about such material points,
since I could not have access to let her know the situation of our
affairs, by any other means.

"He offered to let me leave your friend in the beginning of winter, if I
pleased, provided I would make no opposition to his plan,--that is,
would not inform you; for I was not capable of making any other
opposition. He added, he would allow me my salary for the whole year,
and that he would himself supply my place, leave his house in London,
and live with your friend. Can all this pains be taken, merely for the
difference betwixt one house and another?

"An evening or two before his departure from Weldehall, he offered me
the continuance of the same friendship, which had always subsisted
betwixt us, if I would promise not to open my lips to you about this

"The morning of his departure, he burst out all of a sudden, when the
subject was not talked of, into threatenings, and told me, that, if I
ever entered upon this subject with you, I should repent it. He went out
of the house presently, and these were almost his last words."

The circumstance of these "threatenings" is amply confirmed by a letter
of Vincent himself, addressed to the Marchioness; an admirable specimen
of the outpouring of a vulgar and insolent mind:--

"I will venture to say I have the knack of parrying and managing him,
but that Mr. Hume, who is so extraordinarily well paid, only for his
company, and lodged and lives, that, if it was at his own expense, he
could not do it for £200 a-year, should be gloomy and inconsolable for
want of society, and show, for this good while past, little or no sign
of content or gratitude to me for all I have done, and the best
intentions to serve him, and principally promoted his being in this
station, and repeatedly offered to come out frequently during the winter
and stay two or three days at a time, whilst he should be in town. I
shall do so, but nowise in consideration to him, but out of tenderness
and regard to our friend. Mr. Hume is a scholar, and I believe an honest
man; but one of his best friends at Edinburgh at first wrote me, he had
conversed more with books than the world, or any of the elegant part of
it, chiefly owing to the narrowness of his fortune. He does not in this
case seem to know his own interest, though I have long perceived it is
what he mostly has a peculiar eye to. Hereafter I shall consider him no
more than if I had never known him. Our friend in reality does not
desire he should stay with him. I don't see his policy in offering to
oppose my pleasure, and think it very wrong in him to mention his
appealing to Sir James Johnstone. I dare say your ladyship thinks as I
do, that it is unbecoming for me to be in a subservient state, in such a
case, to any body. I am very zealously disposed to be accountable to
you; both regard, civility, justice, long friendship and acquaintance,
as well as near relationship, are all the motives in the world for it;
and I hoped my being concerned would produce all possible good effects
in your having constant, true, and satisfactory accounts, as well as
that, in due time, those advantages in your own affairs might be
accruing, which you are so justly entitled to, and which I have before
declared to be one of the main ends to be accomplished, and which I
believe you think I could effect better than another. It is not one of
the most pleasing circumstances that, in the situation of our friend, it
is an inlet to strangers, taken in by accident, to be too much
acquainted with private family affairs. I certainly desire that Sir
James and I should be in good correspondence, and I believe he is
satisfied of that; but this man, taking it into his head to thwart my
methods, and all to gratify his own desire of being near town in the
winter forsooth, after the offer I have made of giving him relief
sometimes, and as nothing will satisfy some dispositions, I shall, at
the end of the year, close all accounts, in which there will be done
what was never done before, a complete state of the receipt and the
expense, and then very willingly desire to be excused from having any
farther concern. Most certainly I would do every thing in my power to
serve and oblige you; but if you desire the continuance of my care,
please to write to Sir James to signify occasionally to Mr. Hume that
the management is left to me, and not to a stranger, who, if he is not
satisfied, is at his liberty to remove from such attendance."

This illustration of character would be incomplete without a passage in
a subsequent letter, in which, after Hume had ceased to attend on the
Marquis, Vincent characterizes the sort of person who would be a
desirable successor.

"If any proper person is about him again whilst I am concerned, terms
for their behaviour must be specified, and as they wax fat and are
encouraged, they must be discreet enough and reasonable in their nature,
so as not to kick. Such deportment would engage any good offices of
mine, in favour of a worthy man, fit for the purpose, which, I confess,
is very hard to find, and possibly my Lord will not care to have any
body put upon him by way of terms of continuance."

That the iron of this bondage entered into his soul, is apparent in many
passages of Hume's letters. He regretted that he had left independence
in a humble home, for dependence in a lordly mansion: he regretted that
he had been led to meddle with intrigues, in which a vulgar selfish man,
who knew the world, was far more than a match for a profound
philosopher. How wise it had been for him had he never deserted the
humble prospects of an independent life, the following complaints,
addressed to Lord Elibank, testify:--

"Meanwhile, I own to you, that my heart rebels against this unworthy
treatment; and nothing but the prospect of depending entirely on you,
and being independent of him, could make me submit to it. I have fifty
resolutions about it. My loss, in ever hearkening to his treacherous
professions, has been very great; but, as it is now irreparable, I must
make the best of a bad bargain. I am proud to say that, as I am no
plotter myself, I never suspect others to be such, till it be too late;
and, having always lived independent, and in such a manner as that it
never was any one's interest to profess false friendship to me, I am not
sufficiently on my guard in this particular. . . . . My way of living is
more melancholy than ever was submitted to by any human creature, who
ever had any hopes or pretensions to any thing better; and if to
confinement, solitude, and bad company, be also added these marks of
disregard, . . . . I shall say nothing, but only that books, study,
leisure, frugality, and independence, are a great deal better."

The filling up of the cup of his slights and injuries, and the
termination of his servitude, is thus described by Hume; and one reads
it with a feeling of relief, as an event long protracted, and for the
occurrence of which the reader of the narrative is impatient. He says,
writing to Sir James Johnstone, on 17th April, 1746,--

"You'll be surprised, perhaps, that I date my letters no longer from
Weldehall; this happened from an accident, if our inconstancies and
uncertainties can be called such.

"You may remember in what humour you saw your friend a day or two before
you left us. He became gay and good-humoured afterwards, but more
moderately than usual. After that, he returned to his former
disposition. These revolutions, we have observed, are like the hot and
cold fits of an ague: and, like them too, in proportion as the one is
gentle, the other is violent. But the misfortune is, that this prejudice
continued even after he seemed, in other respects, entirely recovered.
So that, having tried all ways to bring him to good humour, by talking
with him, absenting myself for some days, &c., I have at last been
obliged yesterday to leave him. He is determined, he says, to live
altogether alone; and I fancy, indeed, it must come to that. As far as I
can judge, this caprice came from nobody, and no cause, except physical
ones. The wonder only is, that it was so long a-coming."

There is a stroke of generosity in his thus attributing the impulse to
physical causes, and not only abstaining from an accusation of his
enemy, but expressly exempting him from all blame. The readers of the
correspondence have not probably all seconded the charitable exemption;
and the exulting tones in which Vincent speaks of the dismissal, foster
the suspicion that he had paved the way for it. He says, on the 19th

"This day was a fortnight, my Lord told Mr. Hume to be gone, and that in
terms which I shall not repeat; the Monday following, the same
directions were renewed in a very peremptory manner, attended with such
expressions of resentment, that I advised Hume to go away the next day,
which he did, the 8th; and on the 15th I went out thither, and had told
my Lord before, that, if he could be reconciled to have him return, I
was very willing to contribute towards it, which proposal was not in
the least agreed to. . . . . Hume has not for many months stomached
depending in any respect upon my decision, who was originally the cause
of his being received at all, and had very great difficulty, long since
and at different times, to get my Lord to bear him. He has mistaken the
point; for there is nothing irritates his Lordship so much, as the
thought of any one showing some tokens of authority, and looking on what
he says as caprice, and of no consequence; and I really believe it is
some such notion as this, which has produced so thorough an aversion."

There are two different views that may be taken of Hume's motives for
not having at once resigned his appointment, at the very commencement of
the train of indignities to which he was subjected. Whoever anticipates
that a man who had tutored his mind by the rules of philosophy, and who
lived an upright and independent life, may be actuated by some better
views than those of mere pecuniary aggrandizement, will give him credit
for having believed it to be his duty to watch over certain interests of
the Annandale family at the sacrifice of his own feelings. Those who,
strongly disapproving of his opinions as a philosopher, believe them to
be therefore the dictate of a corrupted mind, will probably search for
base and selfish motives; and will have little difficulty in identifying
them with a pure love of gain, sufficiently strong to absorb all
gentlemanly feeling and all spirit of independence. The favourable and
charitable view admits of no direct demonstration on which an opponent
could not be able to throw doubt; and, the circumstances being stated,
each reader is left to form his own opinion.

There is one thing that Hume never attempts to conceal--his feeling that
the situation was in a pecuniary point of view advantageous to him, and
his consequent desire to preserve it for his own sake, so long as he
could do so with honour. That it should be so is one of those
inconsistencies often exhibited in fine geniuses, which ordinary men of
the world find it difficult to appreciate. It frequently proceeds from
this circumstance, that, not being acquainted with the ordinary beaten
tracks towards wealth and independence, which other men so easily find;
yet desiring the latter, although perhaps they care not for the former
endowment, they lay hold with avidity on any guide that is likely to
lead them, by however devious and unpleasant a path, to the desired
object. Men whose minds are much occupied with abstract subjects, if
they be poor and desire to be free of unpleasant obligations, are thus
apt to grasp at trifling rights with a pertinacity which has the air of
selfishness. They feel a timidness of their own ability to make way in a
bustling active world; and, conscious that it would be vain to compete
with hard-headed acute men of business in the enlargement of their
fortune, treat with an undue importance any comparatively trifling
claims and advantages; while the sagacious world, which sees before it
so many more advantageous paths to the objects of men's secondary
ambition, ridicules their much ado about nothing. It was Hume's first
and chief desire to be independent. That if he had enjoyed a choice of
means, to be the hired companion of the Marquis of Annandale would have
been among the last on which he would have fixed, will easily be
believed. But this occupation was the only method of gaining a
livelihood that offered itself at the time; it was an honest one, and
the disagreeable circumstances attending the means were overlooked in
the desirableness of the end.

It is necessary, also, along with the account of Hume's efforts to gain
a humble livelihood, to keep in mind the state of society in Scotland at
that time. The union with England had introduced new habits of living,
which made the means of the smaller aristocracy insufficient for the
support of their younger children. On the other hand, England was
jealous of Scottish rivalry in foreign trade: neither agriculture nor
manufactures had made any considerable progress in Scotland; while
Indian enterprise was in its infancy, and Scottish adventurers in the
East had not yet found a Pactolus in the Ganges. At that period the
gentleman-merchant, manufacturer, or money dealer; the civil engineer,
architect, editor, or artist, were nearly unknown in Scotland. The only
form in which a man poor and well born could retain the rank of a
gentleman, if he did not follow one of the learned professions, was by
obtaining a commission in the army, or a government civil

Here ended the channels to subsistence along with gentility, and he who
had none of these paths open to him, and had resolved to make an
independent livelihood by his own talents or labour, had at once, as the
German nobles frequently do in the present day, to abandon his rank, and
become a shopkeeper or small farmer, probably with the intention of
returning to the bosom of his former social circle when he had realized
an independence, but more commonly ending his days with the
consciousness that he was, in the words of Henry Hunt, "the first of a
race of gentlemen who had become a tradesman." Any lawyer who pays
attention to the statistics of the Scottish decisions in mercantile
cases, during the earlier part of the eighteenth century, will have
noticed how frequently it occurs that the younger sons of some good
family are mentioned as fulfilling the humblest duties of village
tradesmen.[197:1] The practice is now comparatively unknown. The well
educated gentleman's son, if he be brought up to commerce, connects
himself with those more liberal departments of it, in which he may reap
the advantage of his education and training. To the practice which
distinguished the period of depression above alluded to, aided perhaps
by the spirit of clanship, we may owe the existence of so many
aristocratic names among the humbler tradesmen in Scotland. In England
the nomenclature of a city directory will as surely indicate the court
and the tradesmen end of the town, as the Norman name used to indicate
nobility and the Saxon vassalage. We do not find Edward Plantagenet
keeping an oyster shop, or Henry Seymour cobbling shoes; but it would
not be difficult to exemplify these humble occupations, in the regal
names of a Robert Bruce or a James Stuart. In his essay on "The Parties
of Great Britain," published in 1741, Hume alludes to the absence of a
middle class in Scotland, where he says there are only "two ranks of
men," "gentlemen who have some fortune and education, and the meanest
starving poor: without any considerable number of the middling rank of
men, which abounds more in England, both in cities and in the country,
than in any other quarter of the world."[198:1]

The history of the miserable quarrels and intrigues connected with
Hume's residence in the Annandale family, is a sad picture, not only of
the position of the individual, but of his class,--the poor scholars,
the servile drudges for bread. The modern literary labourer--or hack, as
he is called by those who deem the word labourer too respectable to be
employed on such an occasion--may look from the narrow bounds of his own
independent home, with a feeling of sincere though not boastful
superiority on David Hume, living in the splendid bondage of a peer's
mansion. But in drawing the comparison on which the reflection rests,
let him keep in view the state of literature and of society at that
period, and ask where lay the hopes of the literary labourer? If he
remained in the less conspicuous walks of learned industry, and became a
divine or a teacher, there was before him the career of Parson Adams,
taking his pot and pipe with the upper servants; or that of the
threadbare tutor, subjected to the caprice and insolence of young men,
who, if they do not happen to be endowed with a high tone of sentiment,
must imbibe from all around them this feeling, that they are as far
beyond the parallel of rank of their instructor, as the Brahmin is
beyond that of the Pariah; or, thirdly, he might be the hired victim of
a semi-maniac, whose few rays of remaining reason are but sufficient to
indicate his own immeasurable superiority to the bought attendant of his
humours. These were the resources of the man who distrusted the power of
his own genius to soar into the higher flights of original literature;
the man, who might perhaps be too conscientious, not to say also too
timid, to throw the chance of his being able to meet his obligations to
society and to perform his social duties, on the chance of his
succeeding in the race for literary distinction.

But suppose the race run and gained, and the laurels on the victor's
brow,--for what, then, has all been risked, all encountered? True, Hume
himself became one of the distinguished few who gained both fame and
fortune; but in the ordinary case, if the former were achieved, the
latter did not follow; and in seeking the types of literary distinction
in his age, Fielding, Goldsmith, and Johnson are the names that rise
before us. Was the garden in which these flowers bloomed so genial that
we would have others transplanted thither?

Let not, then, the considerate and charitable reader overlook all these
palliations of the motives which may have induced a great man to humble
himself and bear so much contumely. Let us suppose that he who reads
this narrative is an editor of a newspaper, with a salary of say two or
three hundred a-year; or that he writes articles for the periodicals,
and neither in name nor in reality bound to any one, gets the fair price
of his independent labour; or that he is a teacher in an active
commercial academy, who, after the harassing labours of the day, can
retire to the bosom of his own family, without fearing the frown or
desiring the smile of any great man,--let him, if such should be his
lot, indulge, in all its luxury, the consciousness of his superior
independence and happier fate; but in looking from its elevation to
David Hume, a bondman in the house of an insane lord, let compassion
rather than contempt tinge his estimate of the illustrious victim's
motives, and let him thank the better times, that with all the drudgery
of his lot, its disappointed aspirations, and the bitterness of
unavailing efforts to raise it to a higher and more justly-respected
position in the eye of the world, have yet enabled him to quaff the
sweet cup of independence.

Before entirely leaving the subject of Hume's connexion with the Marquis
of Annandale, it is necessary to take a view of his conduct regarding a
pecuniary dispute which arose out of the transaction. The terms of the
agreement were very distinctly set forth by Captain Vincent in the
following letter:--

"SIR,--You desire to have a letter from me, expressing all the
conditions of the agreement concluded betwixt us, with regard to your
living with the Marquis of Annandale. In compliance with so reasonable a
request, I hereby acknowledge that, by virtue of powers committed to me
by the said Marquis, and with the approbation and consent of his
Lordship and Sir James Johnstone, I engaged that my Lord should pay you
three hundred pounds sterling a-year, so long as you continued to live
with him, beginning from the first of April, one thousand seven hundred
and forty-five: also that the said Marquis, or his heirs, should be
engaged to pay you, or your heirs, the sum of three hundred pounds, as
one year's salary, even though the Marquis should happen to die any time
in the first year of your attendance, or should embrace any new scheme
or plan of life, which should make him choose that you should not
continue to live out the first year with him. Another condition was,
that, if you should, on your part, choose to leave the Marquis any time
in the first or subsequent years, you should be free to do it; and that
the Marquis should be bound to pay you your salary for the time you had
attended him, and also the salary for that quarter in which you should
leave him, in the same manner as if that quarter should be fully

"These were the conditions of our agreement about the end of February
last, on your first coming up to London for the purposes here mentioned,
and which I have committed to writing for your satisfaction and
security, this first day of September, at Weldehall, four miles south of
St. Alban's, in the county of Hertford, and in the year one thousand
seven hundred and forty-five."

Vincent, in continuation, and for Hume's information, gives him a copy
of the agreement, under which one of his predecessors in office, by name
Peter Young, had been engaged; an agreement, containing terms rather
more favourable to the stipendiary than those of which Hume had
consented to accept. And he concludes,--

"You see the latter part of Mr. Young's agreement are more advantageous
terms than the latter part of yours; but I have done as much as I
thought reasonable and proper for me, and as much as you desired. I make
no doubt but, in any contingency, all the Marquis's friends and
relations, would be far from reducing your conditions less than that of
others in the same case, as, in my opinion, and I dare believe in
theirs, your character and conduct would rather entitle you to a

Hume had in the mean time received a present of £100 from the Marquis of
Annandale, no reference to which is made in the agreement, and which he
considered as a gratuity to induce him to leave Scotland, and enter on
those negotiations with Lord Annandale and his friends, which ended in
his being engaged, but might have ended otherwise; as an indemnity, in
short, for the time wasted and the trouble taken in the preliminary
arrangements. Indeed, it will have been noticed in his letter to Mr.
Sharp, quoted above,[202:1] that this gratuity was sent by the Marquis
along with the invitation to Hume to repair to London and hold a
conference on the subject. Hume, then, was engaged at £300 a-year, with
the condition that for any broken quarter a full quarter's salary should
be paid. His engagement commenced on 1st April, 1745. It terminated on
the 15th April, 1746. He thus considered himself entitled to £300 as a
year's salary, and to £75 as the salary of the quarter, of which fifteen
days had run. In the mean time, however, just after the expiry of the
first year, it had occurred to the magnanimous Vincent, that though
better terms than those given to Hume, had been obtained by the Peter
Youngs and others, Hume's salary was twice as much as it should be, and
ought to be reduced by a half. Hume, as if he had been subdued in
spirit, by the life he had been leading--feeling as if his lot were
cast, and his fate fixed--oblivious of the glorious dreams of ambition
that had dawned on him ten years earlier in life and were yet to be
realized, seems to have calmly contemplated this pecuniary reduction,
and to have been inclined to agree to it if it should form the prelude
to a permanent engagement. He thus wrote to the mother of the Marquis.

"I had the honour of a letter from my Lord Marquis last spring, inviting
me to London, which I accordingly obeyed. He made me proposals of living
with him; and Mr. Vincent, in concert with Sir James Johnstone,
mentioned at first the yearly salary of £300 as an allowance which they
thought reasonable; because my Lord had always paid so much to all the
other gentlemen that attended him, even when his way of living, in other
particulars, was much more expensive than at present. Since that, Mr.
Vincent thinks this allowance too much, and proposes to reduce it from
£300 to £150. My answer was, that whatever your Ladyship and my Lord
should think my attendance merited, that I would very willingly accept
of. As he still insisted on the reasonableness of his opinion, I have
used the freedom to apply to your Ladyship, to whose sentiments every
one, that has the honour of being connected with the family of
Annandale, owe so entire a deference. I shall not insist on any
circumstances in my own favour. Your Ladyship's penetration will easily
be able to discover those, as well as what may be urged in favour of Mr.
Vincent's opinion. And your determination shall be entirely submitted to
by me."

At the same time he appears to have submitted his grievances to the
consideration of his kind friend Henry Home, who, in a letter to Sir
James Johnstone, expresses views which will probably meet with more
sympathy than those announced by Hume himself.

"_Kames, 14th April, 1746._

"SIR,--I have a letter from Mr. David Hume lately, which surprised me
not a little, as if there were a plot formed against him to diminish his
salary. For my part, I was never hearty in his present situation; as I
did not consider the terms offered as any sufficient temptation for him
to relinquish his studies, which, in all probability, would redound more
to his advantage some time or other. For this reason, though I had a
good deal of indignation at the dishonourable behaviour of the author of
this motion, yet underhand I was not displeased with any occasion, not
blameable on my friend's part, to disengage him. I thought instantly of
writing him a letter not to stay upon any terms after such an affront;
but, reflecting upon your interest in this matter, I found such an
advice would be inconsistent with the duty I owe you, and therefore
stopped short till I should hear from you. I'm well apprized of the
great tenderness you have for your poor chief; and it is certainly of
some consequence that he should have about him at least one person of
integrity; and it should have given me pain to be the author of an
advice that might affect you, though but indirectly. At the same time, I
cannot think of sacrificing my friend, even upon your account, to make
him submit to dishonourable terms; and, therefore, if you esteem his
attendance of any use to the Marquis, I beg you'll interpose that no
more attempts of this kind be made. For I must be so free to declare
that, should he himself yield to accept of lower terms, which I trust he
will not be so mean-spirited to do, he shall never have my consent, and
I know he will not act without it."

The Marchioness declined to interfere, and thus the award by which Hume
agreed to abide was not made. He had thus began the first quarter of a
new year under the old agreement, and he had not consented either to
abandon the terms of that agreement for the time that was running, or
even to make new terms applicable to any subsequent period, though he
had shown a disposition to accept, under certain circumstances, of these
new terms. His abrupt dismissal, however, put an end to the negotiation;
and, as the terms of his agreement entitled him to the £75 if he had
chosen to throw up his appointment, he thought he was not the less
entitled to the money that he had been dismissed, and that the
ignominious and insulting treatment connected with his dismissal should
not be any inducement to him to abandon his claim. He could not lose
sight, moreover, of the circumstance, that to place the parties more at
their ease in dealing with him, he had abandoned his claims on the
professorship in Edinburgh. It is true that he had small chance of
obtaining it, but that chance, such as it was, he was desired by the
friends of the Marquis to abandon, and he did so. The question with him
then was, how much injury he should allow to be added to the insults he
had received. The £300, for his year's services, were paid. The payment
of the £75, for the subsequent quarter, was resisted.

On the 9th June, 1746, Henry Home wrote a sensible and kind letter on
the subject to Sir James Johnstone, in which he laid down the law of the
case, that Hume's claim of salary for the broken quarter must be on the
old agreement, and could not be "upon the footing of a proposal or
offer, which never came the length of a covenant, and which, therefore,
never had any effect;" and he says,--"The question then is, whether he
is entitled to £75, for the broken quarter, or only to £37, 10s. The
thing is a mere trifle to the Marquis of Annandale, but of some
importance to a young gentleman who has not a large stock; and supposing
the claim to be doubtful, I have great confidence in your generosity,
that for a trifle you would not choose to leave a grudge in the young
gentleman's mind, of a hardship done to him.

"But to deal with you after that plain manner which I know you love, I
will speak out my mind to you, that in strict justice, and in the direct
words of the agreement, Mr. Hume is entitled to £75."

Hume never entirely abandoned this claim. He was not in a position to
urge it forward immediately after his dismissal, as another and more
agreeable official appointment called him abroad. So late as 1760 and
during the next ensuing year, we find him urging his demand, and
allusion is made to an action having been raised in the Court of
Session. "The case," says Dr. Murray, "must have been settled
extrajudicially or by reference; for, after a careful search in the
minute book of the Court of Session, we do not find that it was ever

There has been a general tendency to consider this pertinacious
adherence to a pecuniary claim, as a proceeding unworthy of a
philosopher. In any ordinary man, whether wise or foolish after the
wisdom of the world, such conduct would have appeared but just and
natural; but a philosopher is presumed to have no more respect for money
and its value, than the generous and sympathizing gentleman on the
stage, who on the impulse of the moment, always tosses a heavy purse to
somebody, without having any more distinct notion of its contents than
the admiring audience can have. Hume's notions of these matters were
different. "Am I," he said, "in a condition to make the Marquis of
Annandale a present of £75, that of right belongs to me." It is true
that in the interval between the debt being incurred, and his insisting
on its payment, he had by frugality and industry made himself
independent. In 1747, he tells us that he was possessed of £1000, and in
1760, his fortune had probably considerably increased, though the
sources of emolument which made him subsequently worth £1000 a-year, had
not been then opened up. The surplus of the Marquis of Annandale's
estate had in the mean time accumulated in the manner that has been
already mentioned, and Hume probably thought it was an action more truly
worthy of a philosopher, to make over his salary of librarian to the
poor blind poet Blacklock, than to abandon a claim of £75, justly due
by an estate which had developed a surplus of £400,000.

       *       *       *       *       *

Early in the year 1746, Hume received an invitation from General St.
Clair, "to attend him as a secretary to his expedition, which was at
first meant against Canada, but ended in an incursion on the coast of
France."[208:1] Before his departure, and while he expected to have to
cross the Atlantic, he wrote the following letter, addressed to "Mr.
Alexander Home, Advocate, His Majesty's Solicitor for Scotland, at
Edinburgh." The concluding remarks evidently relate to the state
prosecutions following on the insurrection in Scotland.

"_Portsmouth, May 23, 1746._

"DEAR SOLICITOR,--A letter you have good reason to expect from me,
before my departure for America; but a long one you cannot look for, if
you consider that I knew not a word of this matter till Sunday last at
night, that we shall begin to embark from hence in two or three days,
and that I had very ingeniously stripped myself of every thing, by
sending down my whole baggage for Scotland on Sunday morning. Such a
romantic adventure, and such a hurry I have not heard of before. The
office is very genteel--10s. a day, perquisites, and no expenses.
Remember me kindly to your brothers. Tell Frank I ask him ten thousand
pardons. Let Mr. Dysart, and Mrs. Dysart know of my good wishes. Be
assured yourself of my friendship. I cannot leave Europe without giving
you one instance of it, and so much the greater that with regard to any
other person but you, it would be a dangerous one. In short, I have
been told, that the zeal of party has been apt sometimes to carry you
too far in your expressions, and that fools are afraid of your violence
in your new office. Seek the praise, my dear Sandy, of humanity and
moderation. 'Tis the most durable, the most agreeable, and in the end
the most profitable.

"I am, dear Sandy, yours most sincerely.

"For God's sake, think of _Willy Hamilton_."[209:1]

At the same time we find him writing to Henry Home, and speculating on
the possibility of himself joining the military service.

"As to myself, my way of life is agreeable; and though it may not be so
profitable as I am told, yet so large an army as will be under the
general's command in America, must certainly render my perquisites very
considerable. I have been asked, whether I would incline to enter into
the service? My answer was, that at my years I could not decently accept
of a lower commission than a company. The only prospect of working this
point would be, to procure at first a company in an American regiment,
by the choice of the colonies. But this I build not on, nor indeed am I
very fond of it.[209:2] D. H."

The person to whom we thus find Hume acting in the capacity of
secretary, was the Honourable James St. Clair, one of those commanders
whose fortune it is to have passed through a long life of active
military service, without having one opportunity of performing a
distinguished action; for though, on the present occasion, the path to
honour appeared to be at last opened to him, it was closed by the
mismanagement of others. He was the second son of Henry Lord St. Clair.
His elder brother being engaged in the rebellion of 1715, was attainted
by act of Parliament. The father left the family estates to General St.
Clair, who, with a generous devotion to the hereditary principle,
conveyed them to his elder brother, on that gentleman obtaining a pardon
and a statutory removal of the disabilities of the attainder. He
obtained the rank of colonel on 26th July, 1722, of major-general on
15th August, 1741, and of lieutenant-general on 4th June, 1745. During
the last named year he was quarter-master general of the British forces
in Flanders. He was for many years a member of Parliament, having been
elected for the Dysart burghs in 1722, and subsequently for the counties
of Sutherland and Fife. He died at Dysart on 30th November, 1762.[210:1]

The marine force connected with the proposed expedition was commanded by
Admiral Richard Lestock, a man whose professional fate was in some
respects of a like character with that of his military colleague. The
intended object of the armament was an attack on the French possessions
in Canada, and steps had been taken to second its efforts on the other
side of the Atlantic, by bringing together a British American force. But
the indolence or negligence of the authorities at home, delayed the
departure of the fleet until it was too late to attempt such an
enterprise; and then, as if to furnish a vivid illustration of weak and
blundering counsels, that all these preparations might not be thrown
away, the force prepared for operations in America was sent to attempt a
descent on the coast of France.

The naval force, consisting of sixteen ships of the line, eight
frigates, and two bomb-ketches, accompanied by five thousand eight
hundred land troops, including matrosses and bombardiers, set sail from
Plymouth on 14th September.[211:1] Its destination was the town of Port
L'Orient, then a flourishing port, as the depot of the French East India
Company, which has since fallen to decay in common with the great
establishment with which it was connected. The history and fate of the
expedition will be best described in Hume's own words. It afforded no
harvest of military glory to either country; and while it is but
slightly described by our own historians, it is scarcely ever mentioned
by those of France. National partiality will hardly make any lover of
the true glory of his country regret that such an attempt was a failure.
The method of conducting war by descents upon an enemy's coast, is a
relic of barbarism which it is to be hoped the progress of humanity and
civilisation will not permit either false enthusiasm or the auspices of
a great name to revive among the nations of Europe. It is precisely the
warlike tactic of the scalping knife--the wreaking against the weak that
vengeance which cannot reach the strong. The rules of civilized war are
to strike such blows as will annihilate the power of an enemy's
government, with the least injury to the peaceful inhabitants of the
country. Descents on a coast do much injury to individuals--they do
little harm to the enemy's government. It is a system by which the vital
parts are not attacked until they suffer by exhaustion from the injuries
done to the extremities. Such expeditions do a grievous injury to our
enemies, to accomplish a very small good to ourselves. But if they
cannot be avoided, the next step of mercy is to make them effectual by
energetic and well-organized measures which render resistance hopeless,
and subject the places attacked only to the modified license of a
well-disciplined army. The blunders that made the present attempt as
contemptible as it was cruel, are amply recorded by Hume, and may be a
lesson of the responsibility incurred by those who fit out warlike

In this expedition Hume not only acted as secretary to the general, but
was appointed by him judge advocate of all the forces under his command,
by a commission "given on board his majesty's ship Superb, the third day
of August, 1746,"[212:1] in virtue of the power which the commander of
an army possesses to fill up a vacancy in that office. The mixed
ministerial and judicial duties of a judge advocate require a general
knowledge of the great principles of law and justice, with a freedom
from that technical thraldom of the practical lawyer which would be
unsuitable to the rapidity of military operations; and there can be
little doubt that these delicate and important functions were in this
instance committed to one in every way capable of performing them in a
satisfactory manner.

Some of Hume's permanent friendships appear to have been formed during
this expedition. General Abercromby, with whom we will afterwards find
him corresponding, was quarter-master general, Harry Erskine was deputy
quarter-master, and Edmonstoune of Newton was a captain in the Royal
Scottish regiment. Of the operations of the expedition, and some other
incidents of deep interest connected with it, he sent the following
narrative to his brother, John Hume, or Home, of Ninewells.

HUME _to his Brother_.

"Our first warlike attempt has been unsuccessful, though without any
loss or dishonour. The public rumour must certainly have informed you
that, being detained in the Channel, till it was too late to go to
America, the ministry, who were willing to make some advantage of so
considerable a sea and land armament, sent us to seek adventures on the
coast of France. Though both the general and admiral were totally
unacquainted with every part of the coast, without pilots, guides, or
intelligence of any kind, and even without the common maps of the
country; yet, being assured there were no regular troops near this whole
coast, they hoped it was not possible but something might be
successfully undertaken. They bent their course to Port L'Orient, a fine
town on the coast of Britanny, the seat of the French East India trade,
and which about twenty years ago was but a mean, contemptible village.
The force of this town, the strength of its garrison, the nature of the
coast and country, they professed themselves entirely ignorant of,
except from such hearsay information as they had casually picked up at
Plymouth. However, we made a happy voyage of three days, landed in the
face of about 3000 armed militia on the 20th of September, marched up
next day to the gates of L'Orient, and surveyed it.

"It lies at the bottom of a fine bay two leagues long, the mouth of
which is commanded by the town and citadel of Port Louis, or Blavet, a
place of great strength, and situated on a peninsula. The town of
L'Orient itself has no great strength, though surrounded by a new wall
of about 30 foot high, fortified with half moons, and guarded with some
cannon. They were in prodigious alarm at so unexpected an attack by
numbers which their fears magnified, and immediately offered to
capitulate, though upon terms which would have made their conquest of no
significancy to us. They made some advances a few hours after, to abate
of their demands; but the general positively refused to accept of the
town on any other condition than that of surrendering at discretion. He
had very good reason for this seeming rigour and haughtiness. It has
long been the misfortune of English armies to be very ill-served in
engineers; and surely there never was on any occasion such an assemblage
of ignorant blockheads as those which at this time attended us. They
positively affirmed it was easily in their power, by the assistance of a
mortar and two twelve pounders, in ten hours' time, either to lay the
town and East India magazine in ashes, or make a breach by which the
forces might easily enter. This being laid before the general and
admiral, they concluded themselves already masters of the
town,and[214:1] needed grant no terms. They were besides afraid that had
they taken the town upon terms, and redeemed it for a considerable sum
of money, the good people of England, who love mischief, would not be
satisfied, but would still entertain a suspicion that the success of his
majesty's arms had been secretly sold by his commanders. Besides,
nothing could be a greater blow to the French trade than the destruction
of this town; nor what[214:2] could imprint a stronger terror of the
English naval power, and more effectually reduce the French to a
necessity of guarding their coast with regular forces, which must
produce a great diversion from their ambitious projects on the
frontiers. But when the engineers came to execution, it was found they
could do nothing of what they had promised. Not one of their carkasses
or red hot balls took effect. As the town could not be invested either
by sea or land, they got a garrison of irregulars and regulars, which
was above double our number, and played 35 pieces of cannon upon us
while we could bring only four against them. Excessive rains fell, which
brought sickness amongst our men that had been stowed in transports
during the whole summer. We were ten miles from the fleet, the roads
entirely spoilt, every thing was drawn by men, the whole horses in the
country being driven away. So much fatigue and duty quite overcame our
little army. The fleet anchored in a very unsafe place in Quimperlay
Bay. For these and other reasons it was unanimously determined to raise
the siege on the 27th of September; and to this measure there was not
one contradictory opinion either in the fleet or army. We have not lost
above ten men by the enemy in the whole expedition, and were not in the
least molested either in our retreat or re-embarkation. We met with a
violent storm on the 1st of October, while we were yet very near the
coast, and have now got into Quiberon Bay south of Belle-Isle, where we
wait for a reinforcement of three battalions from England. There are
five or six of our transports amissing. After our French projects are
over, which must be very soon because of the late season, we sail to
Cork and Kingsale.

"While we lay at Ploemeur, a village about a league from L'Orient,
there happened in our family one of the most tragical stories ever I
heard of, and than which nothing ever gave me more concern. I know not
if ever you heard of Major Forbes, a brother of Sir Arthur's. He was,
and was esteemed, a man of the greatest sense, honour, modesty,
mildness, and equality of temper, in the world. His learning was very
great for a man of any profession; but a prodigy for a soldier. His
bravery had been tried, and was unquestioned. He had exhausted himself
with fatigue and hunger for two days, so that he was obliged to leave
the camp and come to our quarters, where I took the utmost care of him,
as there was a great friendship betwixt us. He expressed vast anxiety
that he should be obliged to leave his duty, and fear lest his honour
should suffer by it. I endeavoured to quiet his mind as much as
possible, and thought I had left him tolerably composed at night; but,
returning to his room early next morning, I found him, with small
remains of life, wallowing in his own blood, with the arteries of his
arm cut asunder. I immediately sent for a surgeon, got a bandage tied to
his arm, and recovered him entirely to his senses and understanding. He
lived above four-and-twenty hours after, and I had several conversations
with him. Never a man expressed a more steady contempt of life, nor more
determined philosophical principles, suitable to his exit. He begged of
me to unloosen his bandage, and hasten his death, as the last act of
friendship I could show him: but, alas! we live not in Greek or Roman
times. He told me that he knew he could not live a few days: but if he
did, as soon as he became his own master, he would take a more
expeditious method, which none of his friends could prevent. 'I die,'
says he, 'from a jealousy of honour, perhaps too delicate; and do you
think, if it were possible for me to live, I would now consent to it,
to be a gazing-stock to the foolish world. I am too far advanced to
return. And if life was odious to me before, it must be doubly so at
present.' He became delirious a few hours before he died. He had wrote a
short letter to his brother, above ten hours before he cut his arteries.
This we found on the table."

"_Quiberon Bay in Britanny, Oct. 4, 1746._"

"P.S.--The general has not sent off his despatches till to-day, so that
I have an opportunity of saying a few words more. Our army disembarked
on the 4th of October, and took possession of the peninsula of Quiberon,
without opposition. We lay there, without molestation, for eight days,
though the enemy had formed a powerful, at least a numerous, army of
militia on the continent. The separation of so many of our transports,
and the reinforcements not coming, determined us to reimbark, and return
home, with some small hopes that our expedition has answered the chief
part of its intended purpose, by making a diversion from the French army
in Flanders. The French pretend to have gained a great victory; but with
what truth we know not. The admiral landed some sailors, and took
possession of the two islands of Houat and Hedie, which were secured by
small forts. The governor of one of them, when he surrendered his fort,
delivered up his purse to the sea officer, and begged him to take care
of it, and secure it from the pillage of the sailors. The officer took
charge of it, and, finding afterwards a proper opportunity to examine
it, found it contained the important sum of ten sous, which is less than
sixpence of our money."[217:1]

"_October 17._"

As Niebuhr was an eye-witness of the battle of Copenhagen, so Hume also
had thus an opportunity of observing some practical warlike operations,
though they were on a much smaller scale, and were witnessed in much
less exciting circumstances than those which attended the position of
the citizen of Copenhagen. Thus, although not themselves soldiers, these
two great historians swell the list, previously containing the names of
Thucydides, Xenophon, Polybius, Guicciardini, Davila, and Rapin, of
those historians of warfare who have witnessed its practical operation.
Voltaire, when the accuracy of his description of a battle was
questioned by one who had been engaged in it, bid the soldier keep to
his profession of fighting, and not interfere with another man's, which
was that of writing; but there is little doubt, that the person who
would accurately describe military manoeuvres, will have his task
facilitated by having actually witnessed some warlike operations, on
however small a scale, and however unlike in character to those which he
has to describe. Scott considered that he had derived much of his
facility as a narrative historian from his services in the Mid-Lothian
yeomanry; and Gibbon found that to be an active officer in the Hampshire
militia was not without its use to the historian of the latter days of

It is pretty clear that Hume looked upon these operations, not only as
events likely to furnish him with some critical knowledge of warlike
affairs, but with the inquiring eye of one who might have an opportunity
of afterwards narrating them in some historical work. In the appendix
there will be found a pretty minute account by Hume, of the causes which
led to the failure of the expedition, in a paper apparently drawn up as
a vindication of the conduct of General St. Clair. It does not appear
to have been printed, although it seems to have been designed for the
press. It contains the following passage: "A certain foreign writer,
more anxious to tell his stories in an entertaining manner than to
assure himself of their reality, has endeavoured to put this expedition
in a ridiculous light; but as there is not one circumstance in his
narration that has truth in it, or even the least appearance of truth,
it would be needless to lose time in refuting it."

The following passage in a letter to Sir Harry Erskine, dated 20th
January, 1756,[219:1] shows that he here alludes to Voltaire: "I have
been set upon by several to write something, though it were only to be
inserted in the Magazines, in opposition to this account which Voltaire
has given of our expedition. But my answer still is, that it is not
worth while, and that he is so totally mistaken in every circumstance of
that affair, and indeed of every affair, that I presume nobody will pay
attention to him. I hope you are of the same opinion." But if Voltaire
ever wrote on this subject, it must have been in one of those works of
which he took the liberty of determinedly denying the authorship, for
there appears to be nothing bearing on the subject in the usual editions
of his published and acknowledged works, and in his "Précis du Siecle de
Louis XV.," he passes over the expedition with the briefest possible

We find Hume, on the return of the expedition, writing the following
letter to Henry Home. It contains some curious notices of its writer's
views and intentions, and betrays a sort of irresolution as to his
subsequent projects, which seems to have haunted him through life. It is
here that we find the first allusion to his historical studies. The
extracts from his notes, or adversaria, printed above, show that he had
read much in history, but chiefly in that of the ancient nations. It
does not appear that he had yet paid any marked attention to British


"DEAR SIR,--I am ashamed of being so long in writing to you. If I should
plead laziness, you would say I am much altered; if multiplicity of
business, you would scarce believe me; if forgetfulness of you and our
friendship, I should tell a gross untruth. I can therefore plead nothing
but idleness, and a gay, pleasurable life, which steals away hour after
hour, and day after day, and leaves no time for such occupations as
one's sober reason may approve most of. This is our case while on shore,
and even while on board, as far as one can have much enjoyment in that

"I wrote my brother from the coast of Britanny; giving him some account
of our expedition, and of the causes of our disappointment. I suppose he
received it after you had left the country, but I doubt not he has
informed you of it. We were very near a great success, the taking of
L'Orient, perhaps Port Louis, which would have been a prodigious blow to
France; and, having an open communication with the sea, might have made
a great diversion of their forces, and done great service to the common
cause. I suppose you are become a great general, by the misfortune of
the seat of war being so long in your neighbourhood. I shall be able
when we meet to give you the just cause of our failure. Our expedition
to North America is now at an end; we are recalled to England, the
convoy is arrived, and we re-embark in a few days. I have an invitation
to go over to Flanders with the general, and an offer of table, tent,
horses, &c. I must own I have a great curiosity to see a real campaign,
but I am deterred by the view of the expense, and am afraid, that living
in a camp, without any character, and without any thing to do, would
appear ridiculous. Had I any fortune which would give me a prospect of
leisure and opportunity to prosecute my _historical projects_, nothing
could be more useful to me, and I should pick up more literary knowledge
in one campaign, by living in the general's family, and being introduced
frequently to the duke's, than most officers could do after many years'
service. But to what can all this serve? I am a philosopher, and so, I
suppose, must continue.

"I am very uncertain of getting half pay, from several strange and
unexpected accidents, which it would be too tedious to mention; and if I
get it not, shall neither be gainer nor loser by the expedition. I
believe, if I would have begun the world again, I might have returned an
officer, gratis; and am certain, might have been made chaplain to a
regiment gratis; but[221:1] . . . . . . . I need say no more. I shall
stay a little time in London, to see if any thing new will present
itself. If not, I shall return very cheerfully to books, leisure, and
solitude, in the country. An elegant table has not spoiled my relish for
sobriety; nor gaiety for study; and frequent disappointments have taught
me that nothing need be despaired of, as well as that nothing can be
depended on. You give yourself violent airs of wisdom; you will say,
_Odi hominem ignavâ operâ, philosophicâ sententiâ_. But you will not
say so when you see me again with my Xenophon or Polybius in my hand;
which, however, I shall willingly throw aside to be cheerful with you,
as usual. My kind compliments to Mrs. Home, who, I am sorry to hear, has
not yet got entirely the better of her illness. I am," &c.[222:1]

We find Hume corresponding also with Oswald and Colonel Abercromby, as
to his claim of half-pay for his services as Judge Advocate in the
expedition; and this subject we find him occasionally resuming down to
so late a period as 1763, when he speaks of "insurmountable
difficulties," and fears he must "despair of success."[222:2] It must be
admitted that when he thought fit to make a pecuniary claim he did not
easily resign it. His correspondent, Colonel Abercromby of Glassauch,
has already been mentioned as having held a command in the expedition.
He was afterwards one of Hume's intimate friends. Besides his rank in
the army, he held the two discordant offices of king's painter in
Scotland, and deputy-governor of Stirling castle. He was elected member
of parliament for the shire of Banff in 1735,[222:3] and Hume's letters
contain congratulations on his re-election in 1747, along with some
incidents in his own journey towards Scotland.

"_Ninewells. 7th August, 1747._

"DEAR COL{L}.--I have many subjects to congratulate you upon. The honour
you acquired at Sandberg, your safety, and your success in your
elections. You are equally eminent in the arts of peace and war. The
cabinet is no less a scene of glory to you than the field. You are a
hero even in your sports and amusements; and discover a superior genius
in whist, as well as in a state intrigue or in a battle.

"I hope you recover well of your wound, and I beg of you to inform me. I
should be glad to know what became of Forster, and whether Bob Horne got
the majority. I write to you upon the supposition of your being at
London; because Dr. Clephane wrote me some time ago, that you was just
setting out for it. If that be the case please make my most humble
compliments to Mrs. Abercromby.

"If the Colonel be still detained abroad by any accident, I must beg it
of you, Mrs. Abercromby, to take these compliments to yourself, and to
keep this letter till the Colonel comes over, for it is not worth while
to pay postage for it. I suppose, madam, that Lady Abercromby informed
you of our happy voyage together, and safe arrival in Newcastle: your
young cousin was a little noisy and obstreperous; our ship was dirty;
our accommodation bad; our company sick. There were four spies, two
informers, and three evidences, who sailed in the same ship with us. Yet
notwithstanding all these circumstances, we were very well pleased with
our voyage, chiefly on account of its shortness, which indeed is almost
the only agreeable circumstance that can be in a voyage. I am, &c."

"To the royal in Bergen-op-zoom?[223:1] Have they lost any officers? I
hope Guidelianus[223:2] is safe? I hope Fraser is converted?"

In his correspondence with Oswald on the same matter of his half-pay,
his remarks on public affairs are very desponding. He says,--

"I know not whether I ought to congratulate you upon the success of
your election,[224:1] where you prevailed so unexpectedly. I think the
present times are so calamitous, and our future prospect so dismal, that
it is a misfortune to have any concern in public affairs, which one
cannot redress, and where it is difficult to arrive at a proper degree
of insensibility or philosophy, as long as one is in the scene. You know
my sentiments were always a little gloomy on that head; and I am sorry
to observe, that all accidents (besides the natural course of events)
turn out against us. What a surprising misfortune is this
Bergen-op-zoom, which is almost unparalleled in modern history! I hear
the Dutch troops, besides their common cowardice, and ill-discipline,
are seized with an universal panic. This winter may perhaps decide the
fate of Holland, and then where are we? I shall not be much disappointed
if this prove the last parliament, worthy the name, we shall ever have
in Britain. I cannot therefore congratulate you upon your having a seat
in it: I can only congratulate you upon the universal joy and
satisfaction it gave to every body."[224:2]


[171:1] Letters of David Hume, and extracts from letters referring to
him, edited by Thomas Murray, LL.D., author of "The Literary History of
Galloway." Edinburgh, 1841, 8vo, pp. 80. Dr. Murray says of these
letters: "The originals are supposed to have been deposited, about
eighty years ago, in the hands of a legal gentleman in Edinburgh, as
documents for a law-suit, to which the latter portion of them refers.
Since his death, they have, we believe, passed through several hands
without having attracted any particular attention, or, perhaps, without
having ever been read. They ultimately came into the possession of a
gentleman who appreciated their value, and who, several years ago, did
me the honour of presenting them unconditionally to me."

[172:1] The Marquis is said to have afforded the first example of his
state of mind, in the manner in which he gave a ball at Dumfries. He had
the floor covered with confections, as a garden walk is laid with
gravel. A lady who was alive a few years ago, remembered having seen him
walking about at Highgate, near London; when he was probably in a more
confirmed state of insanity than even his intercourse with Hume
exhibits: a keeper walked before him, and a footman behind. The latter
would occasionally tap his Lordship on the shoulder, and hand him a
snuff-box, whence he would take a pinch. He was a very handsome man. He
had a sister, who exercised so much influence over him, that in her
presence a keeper could be dispensed with.

[174:1] The following, discovered by a friend in an old newspaper, is so
amusing, and so descriptive of the man who was Hume's predecessor in
office, that I cannot resist inserting it:--

_On_ CAPTAIN (BEAU) FORRESTER'S _travelling to the Highlands of Scotland
in winter, anno 1727, incog._

     O'er Caledonia's ruder Alps
       While Forrester pursu'd his way,
     The mountains veil'd their rugged scalps,
       And wrapt in snow and wonder lay!

     Each sylvan god, each rural power,
       Peep'd out to see the raree-show;
     And all confess'd, that, till that hour,
       They ne'er had seen so bright a beau.

     Nay yet, and more I dare advance,
       The story true as aught in print,
     All nature round, in complaisance,
       And imitation, took the hint.

     The fields that whilome only bore
       Wild heath, or clad at best with oats,
     Despis'd these humble weeds, and wore
       Rich spangled doublets, and lac'd coats.

     The hills were periwigg'd with snow;
       Pig-tails of ice hung on each tree;
     The winds turn'd powder-puffs; and, lo,
       On every shrub a sharp toupee!

     With silver clocks the river gods
       Appear'd; and some will take their oath,
     Or lay at least a thousand odds,
       The clouds saliving spit white froth.

     The youth abash'd thus to survey
       So rude a scene himself outdo,
     His sprightly genius to display,
       Resolv'd on something odd and new:

     All things he found were grown genteel,
       Which made him deem it a-propos,
     To be alone in dishabile,
       A Forrester, and not a beau.

                          _Edinburgh Courant_, Oct. 3, 1781.

[176:1] The baronet's daughter, Margaret, had married the Earl of
Airley's eldest son, Lord Ogilvy, who, having engaged in the rebellion,
had fled to the continent after the battle of Culloden. His wife,
however, was among the prisoners; and in June 1746, she was committed to
Edinburgh Castle. In the ensuing November she escaped; and having joined
her husband in France, she died there, in 1757, at the age of
thirty-three. _Douglas's Peerage of Scotland_, vol. i. p. 35.

[178:1] He had obtained this rank in 1729. Beatson's Political Index.

[178:2] Matthew Sharp, born 18th Feb. 1693, was the second son of John
Sharp of Hoddam, by his wife Susan, daughter of John Muir of
Cassencarrie, ancestor of Sir John Muir Mackenzie of Delvin, Bart. Mr.
Sharp joined the Jacobite insurgents in the year 1715, and made his
escape to Scotland, after the rout at Preston, in the disguise of a
pig-driver. He then repaired to France, where he finally took up his
residence at Boulogne. In the year 1740 his elder brother George died,
and Mr. Sharp succeeded to the estate of Hoddam. He returned to his
native country, and died, unmarried, at Hoddam castle, in the year 1769.

[179:1] Charles Erskine of Tinwald, third son of Sir Charles Erskine of
Alva, Bart., a Lord of Session, with the style of Lord Tinwald. His
first wife was Grizel, daughter of John Grierson of Barjarg, by
Catherine, eldest sister of Matthew Sharp of Hoddam. Lord Tinwald's
third daughter Jane, married to William Kirkpatrick, second son of Sir
Thomas Kirkpatrick of Closeburne, Bart. was mother of Charles
Kirkpatrick, to whom Matthew Sharp bequeathed his estate of Hoddam.

[180:1] Original in the possession of Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, Esq.
This letter is printed in _The Edinburgh Annual Register_ for 1809, p.

[196:1] So much had it been considered a legitimate object of the
education of a young gentleman to bring him up to the expectation of a
government office, that in the "Institute of the Law of Scotland," the
posthumous work of John Erskine, who had been appointed professor of
Scots law in the university of Edinburgh in 1737, it is mentioned as one
of the duties of the guardian of a young man of good family with a small
patrimony, to "advance a yearly sum, far beyond the interest of his
patrimony, that he may appear suitably to his quality, while he is
unprovided of any office under the government by which he can live
decently." B. i. Tit. 7. § 25.

[197:1] Walpole gives a curious illustration of the poverty of the
Scottish nobility, before "the forty-five," saying of Lord Kilmarnock,
"I don't know whether I told you that the man at the tennis court
protests that he has known him dine with the man that sells pamphlets at
Storey's gate, and says he would have often been glad if I would have
taken him home to dinner. He was certainly so poor that in one of his
wife's intercepted letters, she tells him she has plagued their steward
for a fortnight for money, and can only get three shillings. Can any one
help pitying such distress?" Walpole's Letters, ii. 144.

Goldsmith found the holder of a Scottish Peerage keeping a glove shop,
and in the case of Lord Mordington, who had been arrested for debt, and
claimed his privilege in the Common Pleas, "the bailiff made affidavit,
that when he arrested the said lord, he was so mean in his apparel, as
having a worn out suit of clothes and a dirty shirt on, and but sixpence
in his pocket, he could not suppose him to be a peer of Great Britain,
and of inadvertency arrested him." Fortescue's Reports, 165. This family
was peculiarly celebrated, Lady Mordington having raised the question,
whether a Scottish peeress who kept a tavern was protected by privilege
of peerage from being amenable to the laws against keeping disorderly

[198:1] He had an example connected with his own neighbourhood, if not
with his own family, of the practice of the gentry following handicraft
trades. George Hume, son of the minister of his native parish,
Chirnside, who was connected with his own family, followed the humble
occupation of a baker in the Canongate, and rose to the dignity of
deacon of his trade. Ill-natured tradition says, that the philosopher
disliked the vicinity to himself of this living illustration of the
depression of the Scottish aristocracy, and occasionally put himself to
some trouble to avoid meeting him on the street; but this tradition is
not consistent with Hume's manly character.

[202:1] P. 179.

[208:1] My own Life.

[209:1] MS. R.S.E.

[209:2] Tytler's Life of Kames, i. 123.

[210:1] Douglas's Peerage, ii. 501-502.

[211:1] Campbell's Naval History, iv. 324. Appendix, A. It appears that
Rodney commanded one of the ships, the Eagle.

[212:1] MS. R.S.E.

[214:1] Sic in MS.

[214:2] Ibid.

[217:1] MS. R.S.E.

[219:1] In the possession of Cosmo Innes, Esq.

[221:1] Mr. Tytler says, "The blank is in the manuscript, the reader
will be at no loss to supply it."

[222:1] Tytler's Life of Kames, 125.

[222:2] Memorials, &c. 76.

[222:3] Beatson, Parliamentary Register.

[223:1] In allusion to the Royal Scottish Regiment--Bergen-op-zoom had
been taken by storm on 16th Sept.

[223:2] This name--probably latinised from some joke known only to the
parties, applies to Col. Edmonstoune of Newton.

[224:1] For Fifeshire.

[224:2] Memorials, &c. p. 54.


1746-1748. ÆT. 35-37.

     Hume returns to Ninewells--His domestic Position--His attempts
     in Poetry--Inquiry as to his Sentimentalism--Takes an interest
     in Politics--Appointed Secretary to General St. Clair on his
     mission to Turin--His journal of his Tour--Arrival in Holland
     --Rotterdam--The Hague--Breda--The War--French Soldiers--
     Nimeguen--Cologne--Bonn--The Rhine and its scenery--Coblentz--
     Wiesbaden--Frankfurt--Battle of Dettingen--Wurzburg--Ratisbon
     --Descent of the Danube--Observations on Germany--Vienna--The
     Emperor and Empress Queen--Styria--Carinthia--The Tyrol--

We now find Hume restored, though but for a brief period, to the
tranquil retirement of Ninewells; and undisturbed by public events,
civil or warlike, sitting down quietly among his books in the midst of
his family circle, consisting of his mother, his elder brother, and his
sister. It would be interesting to obtain a glimpse of this circle and
its habits; but the lapse of nearly a century has thrown it too far into
the shade of time, to permit of these minute objects being
distinguished. Perhaps the following scrap from the papers preserved by
Hume himself,[225:1] may represent the evening diversions of Ninewells.
It is written by another hand, but is touched and corrected here and
there by Hume. Whether or not it is intended to have any reference to
himself, is a matter on which I shall not attempt to forestall the
reader's judgment.

_Character of ----, written by himself._

1. A very good man, the constant purpose of whose life is to do

2. Fancies he is disinterested, because he substitutes vanity in place
of all other passions.

3. Very industrious, without serving either himself or others.

4. Licentious in his pen, cautious in his words, still more so in his

5. Would have had no enemies, had he not courted them; seems desirous of
being hated by the public, but has only attained the being railed at.

6. Has never been hurt by his enemies, because he never hated any one of

7. Exempt from vulgar prejudices--full of his own.

8. Very bashful, somewhat modest, no way humble.

9. A fool, capable of performances which few wise men can execute.

10. A wise man, guilty of indiscretions which the greatest simpletons
can perceive.

11. Sociable, though he lives in solitude.


13. An enthusiast, without religion; a philosopher, who despairs to
attain truth.

A moralist, who prefers instinct to reason.

A gallant, who gives no offence to husbands and mothers.

A scholar, without the ostentation of learning.

Sir Walter Scott says:--"We visited Corby castle on our return to
Scotland, which remains, in point of situation, as beautiful as when its
walks were celebrated by David Hume, in the only rhymes he was ever
known to be guilty of. Here they are from a pane of glass in an inn at

     Here chicks in eggs for breakfast sprawl,
     Here godless boys God's glories squall,
     Here Scotchmen's heads do guard the wall,
     But Corby's walks atone for all."[227:1]

In the face, both of this assurance of the limited extent of Hume's
poetical efforts, and of the circumstance that he was occasionally in
the practice of copying such verses as pleased his ear,[227:2] or fancy,
I venture to offer the following specimens of his versification,
admitting the possibility but not the probability that some minute
investigator might be able to identify them as the production of a less
distinguished bard. The censorious critic will probably admit their
genuineness, on the plea that no one but their author would commit such
verses to writing. But apart from their internal evidence, there is
every reason to presume that these efforts are by Hume. The first piece
is dated in the writer's hand, as if to mark the day when it was
composed. With the exception of the third in order, they all contain,
in corrections and otherwise, decided marks of being composed by the
person in whose handwriting they are; and they are in the handwriting of
David Hume.[228:1]

_4th Nov. 1747._

     Go, plaintive sounds, and to the fair
       My secret wounds impart,
     Tell all I hope, tell all I fear,
       Each motion in my heart.

     But she, methinks, is listening now
       To some amusing strain,
     The smile that triumphs o'er her brow,
       Seems not to heed my pain.

     Yet, plaintive sounds--yet, yet delay,
       Howe'er my love repine,
     Let this gay minute pass away,
       The next, perhaps, is mine.

     Yes, plaintive sounds, no longer crost,
       Your griefs shall soon be o'er;
     Her cheek, undimpled now, has lost
       The smile it lately wore.

     Yes, plaintive sounds, she now is yours,
       'Tis now your turn to move:
     Essay to soften all her powers,
       And be that softness love.

     Cease plaintive sounds, your task is done,
       That serious tender air
     Proves o'er her heart the conquest won,
       I see you melting there.

     Return, ye smiles,--return again,
       Bring back each sprightly grace:
     I yield up to your charming reign
       That sweet enchanting face.

     I take no outward shows amiss;
       Rove where you will, her eyes:
     Still let her smiles each shepherd bless,
       So that she hear my sighs.

If this piece be deficient in fire or polish, it has at least the merit
of simplicity, and of not being a slavish adaptation to the formal
taste of the age. The following pieces will scarcely perhaps be thought
worthy of the like qualified praise.

     Tell me, Clarinda, why this scorn,
       Why hatred give for love?
     Why for a gentler purpose born,
       Wouldst thou a tyrant prove?

     Why draw a cloud upon that face,
       Made to enslave mankind?
     Why through your lips does thunder pass,
       Those lips for love design'd.

     Kindness, conjoin'd with meaner charms,
       Will from you conquests gain;
     We fly into _extended_ arms,
       In _close-embraced_ remain.

     Thus when the angry heavens transform
       To frowns their cheerful smiles,
     When the dread thunder's voice a storm
       To trembling swains foretells,

     If but a humble cottage nigh
       Presents its peaceful shade,
     We scorn the furies of the sky,
       And court its friendly aid.


_Suspecting that the friendship of men to her sex always concealed a
more dangerous passion._

     Hang, my lyre, upon the willow,
       Sigh to winds thy notes forlorn,
     Or along the foaming billow,
       Float the wrecking tempest's scorn.

     Airs no more thy warbling raises,
       Such as Laura deigns approve;
     Laura scorns her poet's praises,
       Artless friendship calls it love.

     Impious love, that, spurning duty,
       Spurning nature's chastest ties,
     Mocks thy tears, dejected beauty,
       Sports with fallen virtue's sighs.

     Call it love no more, profaning
       Truth with dark suspicion's wound;
     Or, if still the term retaining,
       Change the sense, preserve the sound.

     Yes, 'tis love, that name is given,
       Angels, to your purest flames;
     Such a love as merits Heaven,
       Heaven's divinest image claims.


     Soon be thy lyre to winds consign'd.
       Or hurl'd beneath the raging deep;
     For while such strains seduce my mind,
       How shall my heart its purpose keep.

     Thy artless lays, which artless seem,
       With too much fondness I approve;
     Oh write no more in such a theme,
       Or Laura's friendship ends in love.

The question, whether the man concerning whom a biographical work is
written was ever in love, is an important feature in his history, if any
light can be thrown upon it. Perhaps some readers will hold, that the
tameness of these verses show that, at all events, when he wrote _them_,
Hume was under the impulse of no passion. Very little more light can be
brought to bear on this subject; and what can be obtained, is of a like
faint and negative cast. He tells us in his "own life," "As I took a
particular pleasure in the company of modest women, I had no reason to
be displeased with the reception I met with from them." In his essays he
frequently discusses the passion of love, dividing it into its elements
about as systematically as if he had subjected it to a chemical
analysis, and laying down rules regarding it as distinctly and
specifically as if it were a system of logic. Nor do the references in
his correspondence to any individuals of the other sex, show any
perceptible warmth of sentiment. In a letter to Henry Home, of which the
other portions are printed above,[232:1] he speaks with perhaps as much
appearance of sentiment as any where else, when he says,--

"I thank Mrs. Home for her intelligence, and have much employed my brain
to find out the person she means. It could not be the widow: for she
toasts always the Duke of Argyle or Lord Stair, and never would name a
young man whom she may reasonably enough suppose to be in love with her.
I shall therefore flatter myself it was Miss Dalrymple. It is now
Exchequer term: she is among the few _very fine ladies_ of Mrs. Home's
acquaintance, whom I have the happiness of knowing. In short, many
circumstances, besides my earnest wishes, concur to make me believe it
was she who did me that honour. I will persevere in that opinion; unless
you think it proper to disabuse me, for fear of my being too much puft
up with vanity by such a conceit."

His friend Jardine, writing to him when he was secretary of legation in
France, says, evidently in ironical reference to his notorious want of
sensibility in this respect, "An inordinate love of the fair sex, as I
have often told you, is one of those sins, that always, even from your
earliest years, did most easily beset you."

Nor does the following passage in a letter from Mr. Crawford,[233:1]
dated, London, 9th December, 1766, seem to convey any more serious

"What keeps you in Scotland? Lord Ossory says, it can be nothing but the
young beauty for whom you had formerly some passion. But we are both of
opinion, that she must now be old and ugly, and cannot be worthy to
detain you in so vile a country. Neither love nor wit can flourish
there, otherwise you would not have cracked such bad jokes upon
philosophers, the best subject in the world for joking upon. Then,

     --fuge nate Deâ--_sterili teque abstrahe terrâ_.

Come up here, and I know not but what I may be able to introduce you to
a young beauty, such as your imagination never figured to itself. With
charms and accomplishments possessed by no other woman, she has an
understanding equal to that of Madame du Deffand.--Would to God she were
blind like her too, that I might dare to avow my passion for her."

If there be any thing in these passages tending to show a slight degree
of interest in the sex, their tendency will perhaps be fully neutralized
by Hume's exultation on the fortunate nature of his own happy
indifference, in a letter to Oswald, which will be found a few pages
farther on. It must be confessed, indeed, that, according to all
appearance, the appellation, more expressive than classical, frequently
used on such occasions, is applicable to Hume, and that he was a "sad
indifferent dog."

To return to the verses.--The following is a specimen of a totally
different cast; and, if less ambitious in its pretensions, it will
probably be thought to have more successfully accomplished what it aims
at. It is called "An Epistle to Mr. John Medina," a son of Sir John
Medina, the celebrated painter, to whom, probably from the habits hinted
at in the verses, he was a far inferior artist. He is believed to have
been the painter of a large portion of the very numerous extant
portraits of Queen Mary. It would be difficult at this day to discover
the individual whom he is here called upon to portray, with attributes
about as grotesque as those of his inexplicable countryman, Aiken Drum.
As several names of persons who were active supporters of the measures
of social economy, and the agricultural improvements alluded to in the
verses, might be adduced, but no one can be named to whom they appear
distinctly and exclusively to apply, it may be less invidious to present
them in the form of a purely imaginative picture, than to associate them
with any name.


     Now, dear Medina, honest John,
     Since all your former friends are gone,
     And even Macgibbon 's turn'd a saint,[234:1]
     You now perhaps have time to paint.
     For you, and for your pencil fit,
     The subject shall be full of wit.

     Draw me a little lively knight,
     And place the figure full in sight.
     With mien erect, and sprightly air,
     To win the great, and catch the fair.
     Make him a wreath of turnip tops,
     With madder interwove, and hops;
     Lucerne, and St. Foin, here and there,
     Amid the foliage must appear;
     Then add potatoes, white and red,
     A garland for our hero's head.

     His coat be of election laws,
     Lined with the patriot's good old cause.
     His waistcoat of the linen bill,
     Lapelled with flint and lined with tull.
     The turnpike act must serve for breeches;
     With hose of rape tied up with fetches,
     Furrows, new horse-hoed, hide his shoes,
     As earnest cross the fields he goes.

     Draw Pallas offering him a spool,
     The Lemnian god a miner's tool.
     Ceres three stalks of blighted corn,
     Dangling from an inverted horn;
     And Plutus every scheme inspiring
     With proffer'd gold, but still retiring:
     Alike to each important call,
     Attentive, let him grasp at all.

     Finish, my friend, this grand design,
     And immortality be thine.
     No more obliged, for twenty groats,
     To draw the Duke, or Queen of Scots,
     Your name shall rise, prophetic fame says,
     Above your Mercis[235:1] or your Ramsays.
     Even I, in literary story,
     Perhaps shall have my share of glory.

Hume was again called away from the studious retirement of Ninewells, by
being appointed secretary to the mission of his friend General St.
Clair, to the court of Turin. The real object of the mission, in
whatever aspect it might have been openly represented, certainly was to
satisfy the British court on the question, whether Sardinia, and perhaps
some of the other stipendiary states, had furnished their respective
quotas of men to the war. The following letter by Hume to his friend
Oswald, details many of his feelings on assuming this new duty. It will
be found to be as different in tone from his previous letters, as the
life he was entering on was different from his hermit retirement at
Ninewells, or his slavery at Weldhall. This letter, indeed, appears to
mark an epoch in his correspondence. It is the first in which he
mentions miscellaneous public events, with the feeling of one who takes
an interest in the living politics of his time; and shows that the brief
episode of active practical life, in which he had just borne a share,
and the prospect of a renewal of such scenes, had opened his mind to the
reception of external impressions.


"I have little more to say to you than to bid you adieu before I leave
this country. I got an invitation from General St. Clair, to attend him
in his new employment at the court of Turin, which I hope will prove an
agreeable, if not a profitable jaunt for me. I shall have an opportunity
of seeing courts and camps; and if I can afterwards be so happy as to
attain leisure and other opportunities, this knowledge may even turn to
account to me, as a man of letters, which, I confess, has always been
the sole object of my ambition. I have long had an intention, in my
riper years, of composing some history; and I question not but some
greater experience in the operations of the field, and the intrigues of
the cabinet, will be requisite, in order to enable me to speak with
judgment upon these subjects. But, notwithstanding of these flattering
ideas of futurity, as well as the present charms of variety, I must
confess that I left home with infinite regret, where I had treasured up
stores of study and plans of thinking for many years. I am sure I shall
not be so happy as I should have been had I prosecuted these. But, in
certain situations, a man dares not follow his own judgment or refuse
such offers as these.

"The subscriptions for the stocks were filled up with wonderful
quickness this year; but, as the ministry had made no private bargains
with stock-jobbers, but opened books for every body, these money-dealers
have clogged the wheels a little, and the subscribers find themselves
losers on the disposal of their stock, to their great surprise.

"There was a controverted election, that has made some noise, betwixt
John Pitt and Mr. Drax of the Prince's family, when Mr. Pelham, finding
himself under a necessity of disobliging the heir-apparent, resolved to
have others as deep in the scrape as himself; and accordingly obliged
Fox, Pitt, Lyttelton, and Hume Campbell, all to speak on the same side.
They say their speeches were very diverting. An ass could not mumble a
thistle more ridiculously than they handled this subject. Particularly
our countryman, not being prepared, was not able to speak a word to the
subject, but spent half an hour in protestations of his own integrity,
disinterestedness, and regard to every man's right and property.

"His brother, Lord Marchmont, has had the most extraordinary adventure
in the world. About three weeks ago he was at the play, where he espied
in one of the boxes a fair virgin, whose looks, air, and manner, made
such a powerful and wonderful effect upon him as was visible to every
bystander. His raptures were so undisguised, his looks so expressive of
passion, his inquiries so earnest, that every body took notice of it. He
soon was told that her name was Crompton, a linen-draper's daughter,
that had been bankrupt last year, and had not been able to pay above
five shillings in the pound. The fair nymph herself was about sixteen or
seventeen, and being supported by some relations, appeared in every
public place, and had fatigued every eye but that of his Lordship,
which, being entirely employed in the severer studies, had never till
that fatal moment opened upon her charms. Such and so powerful was their
effect, as to be able to justify all the Pharamonds and Cyruses in their
utmost extravagancies. He wrote next morning to her father, desiring
leave to visit his daughter on honourable terms; and in a few days she
will be Countess of Marchmont.[238:1] All this is certainly true. They
say many small fevers prevent a great one. Heaven be praised that I have
always liked the persons and company of the fair sex! for by that means
I hope to escape such ridiculous passions. But could you ever suspect
the ambitious, the severe, the bustling, the impetuous, the violent
Marchmont, of becoming so tender and gentle a swain--an Artamenes, an

"The officers, (I suppose from effeminacy,) are generally much disgusted
at the service. They speak of no less than three hundred, high and low,
who have desired leave to sell out. I am," &c.[238:2]

"_London, January 29, 1748._"

On the same occasion he writes the following short letter to Henry Home.

"_London, Feb. 9. 1748._

"DEAR SIR,--The doubt and ambiguity with which I came hither was soon
removed. General St. Clair positively refused to accept of a secretary
from the ministry; and I go along with him in the same station as
before. Every body congratulates me upon the pleasure I am to reap from
this jaunt: and really I have little to oppose to this prepossession,
except an inward reluctance to leave my books, and leisure and retreat.
However, I am glad to find this passion still so fresh and entire; and
am sure, by its means, to pass my latter days happily and cheerfully,
whatever fortune may attend me.

"I leave here two works going on: a new edition of my Essays, all of
which you have seen, except one, 'Of the Protestant Succession,' where I
treat that subject as coolly and indifferently as I would the dispute
between Cæsar and Pompey. The conclusion shows me a Whig, but a very
sceptical one. Some people would frighten me with the consequences that
may attend this candour, considering my present station; but I own I
cannot apprehend any thing.

"The other work is the 'Philosophical Essays,' which you dissuaded me
from printing. I won't justify the prudence of this step, any other way
than by expressing my indifference about all the consequences that may
follow. I will expect to hear from you; as you may from me. Remember me
to Mrs. Home, and believe me to be yours most sincerely.

"P.S.--We set out on Friday next for Harwich."[239:1]

Of his second appointment under General St. Clair, on the duties of
which he entered at the beginning of the year 1748, Hume thus speaks in
his "own life," after having mentioned the descent on the coast of

"Next year, to wit, 1747, I received an invitation from the General to
attend him in the same station in his military embassy to the courts of
Vienna and Turin. I then wore the uniform of an officer, and was
introduced at these courts as aid-de-camp to the General, along with Sir
Harry Erskine and Captain Grant, now General Grant. These two years were
almost the only interruptions which my studies have received during the
course of my life. I passed them agreeably, and in good company; and my
appointments, with my frugality, had made me reach a fortune, which I
called independent, though most of my friends were inclined to smile
when I said so: in short, I was now master of near a thousand pounds."

We fortunately possess a more detailed account of his adventures and
observations on this occasion, in a pretty minute journal which he
transmitted to his brother, for the amusement of his family at
home.[240:1] It requires no farther introduction, and is as follows:--

"_Hague, 3d March, 1748, N. S._

"DEAR BROTHER,--I have taken a fancy, for your amusement, to write a
sort of journal of our travels, and to send you the whole from Turin, by
a messenger whom we are to despatch from thence. I shall endeavour to
find little snatches of leisure in the several towns through which we
shall pass, and shall give you an account of the appearances of things,
more than of our own adventures. The former may be some entertainment,
but the other will in all probability contain little diversity, at least
for some time.

"We set out from Harwich the day I wrote you last, and in twenty-four
hours arrived at Helvoet-Sluys. I had the misfortune to be excessively
sick, but the consolation to see an admiral as sick as myself. 'Twas
Admiral Forbes, the most agreeable, sensible sea officer in England.
Harwich and Helvoet are the general images in abridgment of all the
towns in the two countries; both of them small sea-port towns, without
much trade, or any support but passengers; yet the industry, economy,
and cleanliness of the Dutch, have made the latter the much prettier
town. The day of our arrival we lay at Rotterdam, and passed through the
Brill and Maeslan-Sluys. Yesterday we lay at this place. Holland has the
beauties of novelty to a stranger, as being so much different from all
the other parts of the world; but not those of diversity, for every part
of it is like another. 'Tis an unbounded plain, divided by canals, and
ditches, and rivers. The sea higher than the country, the towns higher
than the sea, and the ramparts higher than the towns. The country is in
general pretty open, except a few willow trees, and the avenues of elm,
which lead to their towns, and shade the ramparts. But the country is at
present covered with snow, so that it is difficult to judge of it. Were
the season favourable, the way of travelling would be very pleasant,
being along the dykes, which gives you a perfect prospect of the whole
country. I need not describe the beauty and elegance of the Dutch towns,
particularly of the Hague, which nothing can exceed. Rotterdam is also a
handsome town. The mixture of houses, trees, and ships, has a fine
effect, and unites town, country, and sea, in one prospect. Every person
and every house has the appearance of plenty and sobriety, of industry
and ease. I own, however, that the outside of their houses are the best;
they are too slight, full of bad windows, and not very well contrived."

"_Hague, 10th March._

"The General intended to have left this place to-day, but was detained
by the arrival of his Royal Highness,[242:1] which will retard him a day
or two longer. We go first to Breda, where the General's two battalions
lie, out of which he will endeavour to form one good healthy battalion
to remain here. The other returns to Scotland. We go in a day or two.
The Prince of Orange's authority seems firmly established, and for the
present is as absolute as that of any king in Europe; the favour of the
people is the foundation of it.[242:2] He is certainly a man of great
humanity and moderation, but his courage and capacity is perhaps a
little more doubtful. The present emergencies have given him an
opportunity of establishing his authority on a firmer bottom than
popular favour; viz. on foreign and mercenary forces. The Dutch troops
have behaved so ill, that the people themselves are willing to see them
disgraced, and discredited, and broke; so that the prince has been able
to make great distinctions in favour of foreigners, with the good will
of the people, who see the necessity of it.

"He has broke all the Dutch troops that were prisoners in France, but
keeps up the foreigners that were in the same condition; and the latter
are chiefly encouraged in every thing. Great and universal joy appeared
on the birth of the young prince while we were there, though all the
arrangements were taken to have the young princess succeed, and
particularly, she was named colonel of a regiment of guards.

"This is a place of little or no amusement, nor has the court made much
difference in this respect. No balls, no comedy, no opera. The prince
gives great application to business, which, however, they pretend does
not advance very much. But this we may venture to say, that Holland was
undoubtedly ruined by its liberty, and has now a chance of being saved
by its prince. Let republicans make the best of this example they can.

"'Tis here regarded as a point indisputable, that the old governors were
in concert with the French, and were resolved, by delivering up town
after town, and army after army, to have peace, though at the price of
slavery and dependence. 'Tis a pity that the scrupulous and
conscientious character of the prince has not allowed him to make some
examples of these rascals, against whom, 'tis said, there could have
been legal proofs. It was not the mob, properly speaking, that made the
revolution, but the middling and substantial tradesmen. At Rotterdam
particularly, these sent a regular deputation to the magistrates,
requiring the establishment of the Prince of Orange, telling them, at
the same time, that if their request was refused, they could no longer
answer for the mob. This hint was sufficiently understood, and gave an
example to all the other towns in the province.

"The only violence offered, was that of throwing into the canals whoever
wore not Orange ribbons. Every yellow rag, woollen, silk, and linen,
were employed; and when these were exhausted, the flowers were made use
of; and happily the revolution began in the spring, when the primroses
and daffodillys could serve as Orange cockades. To this day, every
boor, and tradesman, and schoolboy, wears the ensigns of the prince; and
every street in every village, as well as in every town, has triumphal
arches with emblematical figures and Latin inscriptions, such as,
'Tandem justitia triumphat,' 'Novus ab integro sæclorum nascitur ordo,'
'Vox populi, vox Dei.' I shall only say, if this last motto be true, the
Prince of Orange is the only _Jure divino_ monarch in the universe. I
believe, since the time of Germanicus, deservedly the darling of the
Romans, never was a people so fond of one man; surely there entered not
the smallest intrigue of his own into his election. There is something
of innocence and simplicity in his character, which promotes more his
popularity than the greatest capacity. But,

     Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis
     Tempus eget.

"_Breda, 16th March._

"We arrived here the day before yesterday, in three days from the Hague,
and as the snows were then melted, after the most violent frost in the
world, we discovered Holland in all its native deformity. Nothing can be
more disagreeable than that heap of dirt, and mud, and ditches, and
reeds, which they here call a country, except the silly collection of
shells and clipped evergreens which they call a garden. It gave us a
sensible pleasure, as we came near Breda, to find ourselves on a dry
barren heath, and to see something like a human habitation. I have heard
that a man, from the aspect of Holland, would imagine that land and
water, after many struggles which should be master of it, had at last
agreed to share it betwixt them. If so, the land has come by much the
worst bargain, and has much the smallest share of the possession. I am
told, however, that Holland is a pleasant enough habitation in the
summer: though even that beauty lasts a very short time; for, during the
latter end of summer and during the harvest, the canals send forth so
disagreeable and unwholesome a smell, that there is no enduring of it.

"We passed over the Maese at Gorcum, where it is above half a mile
broad; and as the ice had been softened by a thaw of three or four days,
we were obliged to make use of an ice boat. The operation is after this
manner: you place yourself on your ice boat, which is like an ordinary
boat, except only that it runs upon two keels, shod with iron. Three or
four men push you along in this boat, very cleverly, as long as the ice
will bear you: but whenever that fails, plump down you go into the water
of a sudden. You are very heartily frightened. The men are wet, up to
the neck sometimes; but, keeping hold of the boat, leap in, row you
through the water, till they come to ice which can bear. There they pull
you up, run along with you, till you sink again; and so they renew the
same operation.

"At Gorcum we met with Drumlanrig's regiment, which does no great honour
to their country by their looks and appearances. There has been a mutiny
amongst them, out of discontent to the country. We met with some
Highlanders, who regretted extremely their native hills.

"The night we came to Breda we supped with Lord Albemarle, who told us,
in entering, that we might soon expect to hear of a battle in the
neighbourhood; and accordingly, in about an hour, a messenger came in
with the news, which is the best we have had in the Low Countries during
the whole war. You have no doubt heard of it. It was the attack of a
convoy to Bergen-op-Zoom, escorted by about 5000 French, where 400 were
killed, and about 1000 taken prisoners.[246:1] Next day, the prisoners
were led through the town. They were the piquets of several old
regiments, and some companies of grenadiers; but such pitiful-looking
fellows never man set eye on. France is surely much exhausted of men,
when she can fill her armies with such poor wretches. We all said, when
they passed along, are these the people that have beat us so often?

"I stood behind Lord Albemarle, who was looking over a low window to see
them. One of the ragged scarecrows, seeing his lordship's star and
ribbon, turned about to him, and said very briskly, 'Aujourd'hui pour
vous, Monsieur, demain pour le roi.' If they have all this spirit, no
wonder they beat us. However, when one compares to the French the
figures of men that are in this town, British, Hessians, and Austrians,
they seem almost of a different species. Their officers expect they will
all do much better after having had leisure to see their enemy. Breda is
a strong town, though not near so strong as Bergen-op-zoom. It is almost
surrounded by water, and inaccessible except in one place, by which it
will be taken, if the 206,000 men, whom we are to have in the field this
year, in the Low Countries, cannot save it. 'Tis certain so many men are
stipulated by the several powers,--the greatest army that ever was
assembled together in the world, since the Xerxeses and Artaxerxeses; if
these could be called armies. God prosper his royal highness, and give
him what he only wants; I mean good fortune, to second his prudence and

"The French certainly have laid their account to give up Flanders by
the peace; they squeeze, and oppress, and tax and abuse the Flemings so
much, that 'tis evident they consider them not as subjects. They are
also said to be pretty heartily tired of the war, notwithstanding of
their great successes. I suppose the loss of their trade pinches them;
so that there are some hopes of a peace, which may not be altogether
intolerable. By the conversation I have had with several judicious
officers, I find that Mareschal Saxe and Lowendahl, though sensible men
and of great experience, are not regarded as such mighty generals as we
are apt to imagine them at a distance, from their victories and
conquests. Their blunders last campaign were many and obvious, and
particularly that of besieging Bergen-op-zoom. 'Twas a thousand to one
they got it, and it serves them to no purpose when they have it: It is
not by that quarter they can penetrate into the Provinces."

"_Nimeguen, 20th March._

"We have come from Breda in two days, and lay last night at Bois-le-duc,
which is situated in the midst of a lake, and is absolutely impregnable.
That part of Brabant, through which we travelled, is not very fertile,
and is full of sandy heaths. Nimeguen is in the Gueldre, the pleasantest
province of the seven, perhaps of the seventeen. The land is beautifully
divided into heights and plains, and is cut by the branches of the
Rhine. Nimeguen has a very commanding prospect, and the country below it
is particularly remarkable at present because of the innundation of the
Wahal, a branch of the Rhine, which covers the whole fields for several
leagues; and you see nothing but the tops of trees standing up amidst
the waters, which recalls the idea of Egypt during the inundations of
the Nile. Nimeguen is a well-built town, not very strong, though
surrounded with a great many works. Here we met our machines, which came
hither by a shorter road from the Hague. They are a berline for the
general and his company, and a chaise for the servants. We set out
to-morrow, and pass by Cologne, Frankfort, and Ratisbon, till we meet
with the Danube, and then we sail down that river for two hundred and
fifty miles to Vienna.

"_Cologne, 23d March._

"We came hither last night, and have travelled through an extreme
pleasant country along the banks of the Rhine. Particularly Cleves,
which belongs to the King of Prussia, is very agreeable, because of the
beauty of the roads, which are avenues bordered with fine trees. The
land in that province is not fertile, but is well cultivated. The
bishoprick of Cologne is more fertile and adorned with fine woods as
well as Cleves. The country is all very populous, the houses good, and
the inhabitants well clothed and well fed. This is one of the largest
cities in Europe, being near a league in diameter. The houses are all
high; and there is no interval of gardens or fields. So that you would
expect it must be very populous. But it is not so. It is extremely
decayed, and is even falling to ruin. Nothing can strike one with more
melancholy than its appearance, where there are marks of past opulence
and grandeur, but such present waste and decay, as if it had lately
escaped a pestilence or famine. We are told, that it was formerly the
centre of all the trade of the Rhine, which has been since removed to
Holland, Liege, Frankfort, &c. Here we see the Rhine in its natural
state; being only a little higher (but no broader) on account of the
melting of the snows. I think it is as broad as from the foot of your
house to the opposite banks of the river."

"_Bonne, 24th March._

"This is about six leagues from Cologne, a pleasant well-built little
town, upon the banks of the Rhine, and is the seat of the archbishop. We
have bestowed half a day in visiting his palace, which is an extensive
magnificent building; and he is certainly the best lodged prince in
Europe except the King of France. For, besides this palace, and a sort
of Maison de Plaisance near it, (the most elegant thing in the world,)
he has also two country houses very magnificent. He is the late
emperor's brother; and is, as they say, a very fine gentleman;--a man of
pleasure, very gallant and gay; he has always at his court a company of
French comedians and Italian singers. And as he always keeps out of
wars, being protected by the sacredness of his character, he has nothing
to hope and nothing to fear; and seems to be the happiest prince in
Europe. However, we could wish he took a little more care of his
high-ways, even though his furniture, pictures, and building were a
little less elegant. We are got into a country where we have no fires
but stoves; and no covering but feather beds; neither of which I like,
both of them are too warm and suffocating."

"_Coblentz, 26th March._

"We have made the pleasantest journey in the world in two days from
Bonne to this town. We travel all along the banks of the Rhine;
sometimes in open, beautiful, well-cultivated plains; at another time
sunk betwixt high mountains, which are only divided by the Rhine, the
finest river in the world. One of these mountains is always covered with
wood to the top; the other with vines; and the mountain is so steep that
they are obliged to support the earth by walls, which rise one above
another like terraces to the length of forty or fifty stories. Every
quarter of a mile, (indeed as often as there is any flat bottom for a
foundation,) you meet with a handsome village, situated in the most
romantic manner in the world. Surely there never was such an assemblage
of the wild and cultivated beauties in one scene. There are also several
magnificent convents and palaces to embellish the prospects.

"This is a very thriving well-built town, situated at the confluence of
the Moselle and the Rhine, and consequently very finely situated. Over
the former river there is a handsome stone bridge; over the latter a
flying bridge, which is a boat fixed by a chain: this chain is fixed by
an anchor to the bottom of the middle of the river far above, and is
supported by seven little boats placed at intervals that keep it along
the surface of the water. By means of the rudder, they turn the head of
the large boat to the opposite bank, and the current of the river
carries it over of itself. It goes over in about four minutes, and will
carry four or five hundred people. It stays about five or six minutes
and then returns. Two men are sufficient to guide it, and it is
certainly a very pretty machine. There is the like at Cologne. This town
is the common residence of the Archbishop of Treves, who has here a
pretty magnificent palace. We have now travelled along a great part of
that country, through which the Duke of Marlborough marched up his army,
when he led them into Bavaria. 'Tis of this country Mr. Addison speaks
when he calls the people--

     Nations of slaves by Tyranny debased,
     Their Maker's image more than half-defaced.

And he adds that the soldiers were--

     Hourly instructed as they urge their toil,
     To prize their Queen and love their native soil.

"If any foot soldier could have more ridiculous national prejudices than
the poet, I should be much surprised. Be assured there is not a finer
country in the world; nor are there any signs of poverty among the
people. But John Bull's prejudices are ridiculous, as his insolence is

"_Frankfort, 28th March._

"Our road from Coblentz to this passes through a great many princes'
territories; Nassau's, Hesse's, Baden's, Mentz, and this Republic, &c.
and there is as great a diversity in the nature of the country. The
first part of the road from Coblentz to Weis-Baden is very mountainous
and woody, but populous and well-cultivated. In many places the snow is
lying very thick. The road is disagreeable for a coach; sometimes you go
along the side of a hill with a precipice below you, and have not an
inch to spare; and the road hanging all the way towards the precipice,
so that one had need to have a good head to look out of the windows.
Nassau, the prince of Orange's capital, is but a village, and one of the
most indifferent I have seen in Germany. Betwixt Weis-Baden and
Frankfort we travel along the banks of the Maine, and see one of the
finest plains in the world. I never saw such rich soil nor better
cultivated; all in corn and sown grass. For we have not met with any
natural grass in Germany.

"Frankfort is a very large town, well-built and of great riches and
commerce. Around it there are several little country houses of the
citizens, the first of that kind we have seen in Germany; for every
body, except the farmers, live in towns, and these dwell all in
villages. Whether this be for company or protection, or devotion, I
cannot tell. But it has certainly its inconveniences. Princes have also
seats in the country, and monks have their convents; but no private
gentleman ever dwells there. To-morrow we pass over the field of
Dettingen. We saw Heighst [Höchst] to-day, where Lord Stair past the
Maine, and was recalled. The post he took seems not so good as we have
heard it represented. We saw General Mordaunt at Cologne, who was at the
battle of Dettingen, and gave us an exact description of the whole,
which we are to-morrow to compare with the field. Frankfort is a
Protestant town."

"_Wurtzburg, 30th March._

"The first town we come to after leaving Frankfort is Hanau, which
belongs to the Landgrave of Hesse, and where there is a palace, that may
lodge any king in Europe, though the Landgrave never almost lives there.
Hanau is a very beautiful, well-built, but not large town, on the banks
of the Maine. All the houses almost in Germany are of plaster, either
upon brick or wood, but very neatly done, and many of them painted over,
which makes them look very gay. Their peasants' houses are sometimes
plaster, sometimes clay upon wood, two stories high, and look very well.

"Next post beyond Hanau is the village of Dettingen, where we walked out
and surveyed the field of battle,[252:1] accompanied with the
postmaster, who saw the battle from his windows. Good God, what an
escape we made there! The Maine is a large river not fordable; this lay
on our left hand. On our right, high mountains covered with thick wood,
for several leagues. The plain is not half a mile broad. The French were
posted by Noailles with their right supported by the river and the
village of Dettingen; their left by the mountains; on their front a
little rivulet, which formed some marshes and meadows altogether
impassable for the cavalry, and passable with difficulty by the
infantry. Add to this, that their cannon, played in safety on the other
side of the Maine, raked the whole plain before Dettingen, and took our
army in flank. Noailles had past the bridge of Aschaffenbourg which was
not broke down, and came up upon our rear; and our army was starving for
want of provisions.

"Such an arrangement of circumstances, as it were contrived to ruin an
army, a king and kingdom, never was before found in the world; and yet
there we gained a victory, by the folly of Grammont, who past that
rivulet, and met us in the open plain, before Noailles had come up. We
were travelling in great security, notwithstanding two repeated
informations that the French had past the Maine; the baggage of the army
was betwixt the two lines; and when the first cannons were fired,
Neuperg and Stair both agreed that it could be nothing but the French
signal guns. But when they were certain that the affair was more in
earnest, Stair said, 'Go to the king; I take nothing upon me.' Clayton
said, 'I will take it upon me, to remove the baggage.' And it was he
that made the little disposition that was made that day. The English
behaved ill: the French worse, which gave us the victory. But this
victory so unexpectedly gained, we pushed not as we ought, by the
counsel of Neuperg. What Lord Stair's whim was to advance to
Aschaffenbourg, where he was twenty-five miles from Frankfort, the place
of all his magazines, 'tis impossible to imagine. Surely he could
advance no farther, as he must have been convinced had he reconnoitred
the road. It runs over high mountains, and for twenty-five miles through
the thickest woods in the world.

"There is a pass three or four miles beyond Aschaffenbourg, where no
army could go with cannon and baggage. When we[254:1] came to the foot
of it a trumpeter met us, who played a tune for joy of our safe arrival;
and the like on our ascending the opposite hill. The woods beyond are
the finest I ever saw. Wurtzburg is a very well-built town, situated in
a fine valley on the Maine. The banks of the river are very high, and
covered with vines. The river runs through the town, and is passed on a
very handsome bridge. But what renders this town chiefly remarkable, is
a building which surprised us all, because we had never before heard of
it, and did not there expect to meet with such a thing. 'Tis a
prodigious magnificent palace of the bishop who is the sovereign. 'Tis
all of hewn stone and of the richest architecture. I do think the king
of France has not such a house. If it be less than Versailles, 'tis more
complete and finished. What a surprising thing it is, that these petty
princes can build such palaces: but it has been fifty years a rearing;
and 'tis the chief expense of ecclesiastics. The bishop of Wurtzburg is
chosen from amongst the canons, who have a very good artifice to
exclude princes. 'Tis a rule, that every one at entering shall receive a
very hearty drubbing from the rest: the brother of the elector of
Bavaria offered a million of florins, to be exempted from the ceremony,
and could not prevail."

"_Ratisbon, 2d April._

"We were all very much taken with the town of Nuremberg, where we lay
two nights ago; the houses, though old-fashioned, and of a grotesque
figure, (having sometimes five or six stories of garrets,) yet are they
solid, well built, complete, and cleanly. The people are handsome, well
clothed, and well fed; an air of industry and contentment, without
splendour, prevails through the whole. 'Tis a Protestant republic on the
banks of a river, (whose name I have forgot,[255:1]) that runs into the
Maine, and is navigable for boats. The town is of a large extent. On
leaving Nuremberg we entered into the elector of Bavaria's country,
where the contrast appeared very strong with the inhabitants of the
former republic. There was a great air of poverty in every face; the
first poverty indeed we had seen in Germany. We travelled also through
part of the elector Palatine's country, and then returned to Bavaria;
but though the country be good and well cultivated, and populous, the
inhabitants are not at their ease. The late miserable wars have no doubt
hurt them much. Ratisbon is a catholic republic situated on the banks of
the Danube. The houses and buildings, and aspect of the people, are well
enough, though not comparable to those of Nuremberg. 'Tis pretended that
the difference is always sensible betwixt a Protestant and Catholic
country, throughout all Germany; and perhaps there may be something in
this observation, though it is not every where sensible.

"We descend the Danube from this to Vienna; we go in a large boat about
eighty foot long, where we have three rooms, one for ourselves, a second
for the servants, and a third for our kitchen. 'Tis made entirely of fir
boards, and is pulled to pieces at Vienna, the wood sold, and the
watermen return to Ratisbon a-foot. We lie on shore every night. We are
all glad of this variety, being a little tired of our berline."

"_The Danube, 7th of April._

"We have really made a very pleasant journey, or rather voyage, with
good weather, sitting at our ease, and having a variety of scenes
continually presented to us, and immediately shifted, as it were in an
opera. The banks of the Danube are very wild and savage, and have a very
different beauty from those of the Rhine; being commonly high scraggy
precipices, covered all with firs. The water is sometimes so straitened
betwixt these mountains, that this immense river is often not sixty foot
broad. We have lain in and seen several very good towns in Bavaria and
Austria, such as Strauburg, Passau, Lintz; but what is most remarkable
is the great magnificence of some convents, particularly Moelk, where a
set of lazy rascals of monks live in the most splendid misery of the
world; for, generally speaking, their lives are as little to be envied
as their persons are to be esteemed.

"We enter Vienna in a few hours, and the country is here extremely
agreeable; the fine plains of the Danube began about thirty miles above,
and continued down, through Austria, Hungary, &c. till it falls into
the Black Sea. The river is very magnificent. Thus we have finished a
very agreeable journey of 860 miles (for so far is Vienna from the
Hague,) have past through many a prince's territories, and have had more
masters than many of these princes have subjects. Germany is undoubtedly
a very fine country, full of industrious honest people; and were it
united, it would be the greatest power that ever was in the world. The
common people are here, almost every where, much better treated, and
more at their ease, than in France; and are not very much inferior to
the English, notwithstanding all the airs the latter give themselves.
There are great advantages in travelling, and nothing serves more to
remove prejudices; for I confess I had entertained no such advantageous
idea of Germany; and it gives a man of humanity pleasure to see that so
considerable a part of mankind as the Germans are in so tolerable a

"_Vienna, 15th April._

"The last week was Easter week, and every body was at their devotions,
so that we saw not the court nor the emperor and empress, till
yesterday, when we were all introduced by Sir Thomas Robinson.[257:1]
They are a well-looked couple, the emperor has a great air of goodness,
and his royal consort of spirit. Her voice, and manner, and address are
the most agreeable that can be, and she made us several compliments on
our nation. She is not a beauty; but, being a sovereign, and a woman of
sense and spirit, no wonder she has met such extraordinary support from
her subjects, as well as from some other nations of Europe. However, the
English gallantry towards her is a little relaxed; and the King of
Sardinia is their present favourite. She begged of the general not to be
so much her enemy as his predecessor, General Wentworth, had been. He
replied, that a perfect impartiality was recommended him by the king,
his master; and that he was resolved to preserve it, though he confessed
that was difficult for a person who had had the honour of having had
access to her imperial majesty.

"We were introduced to-day to the archdukes and archduchesses (who are
fine children) and to the empress-dowager. She had seen no company for
two months; but, hearing that Englishmen desired to be introduced to
her, she immediately received us. You must know that you neither bow
nor kneel to emperors and empresses, but curtsy; so that, after we had
had a little conversation with her imperial majesty, we were to walk
backwards through a very long room, curtsying all the way, and there was
very great danger of our falling foul of each other, as well as of
tumbling topsy-turvy. She saw the difficulty we were in; and immediately
called to us: 'Allez, allez, Messieurs, sans cérémonie; vous n'êtes pas
accoutumés a ce mouvement, et le plancher est glissant.' We esteemed
ourselves very much obliged to her for this attention, especially my
companions, who were desperately afraid of my falling on them and
crushing them.

"This court is fine, without being gay; and the company is very
accessible, without being very sociable. When we were to be introduced
to the emperor and empress, Sir Thomas Robinson gathered us all together
into a window, that he might be able to carry us to them at once, when
the time should be proper. A lady came up to him, and asked him if these
were not his chickens he was gathering under his wings, after which she
joined conversation with us; and in a little time asked us, if we had
any acquaintance of the ladies of the court, and if we should not be
glad to know their names. We replied that she could not do us a greater
favour. 'Why, then,' says she, 'I shall tell you, beginning with myself;
I am the Countess'--she added her name, which I am sorry to have forgot.
We have met with several instances of these agreeable liberties. The
women here are many of them handsome; if you ever want toasts, please to
name, upon my authority, Mademoiselle Staremberg, or the Countess Palfì.

"The men are ugly and awkward. We have seen all those fierce heroes,
whom we have so often read of in gazettes, the Lichtensteins, the
Esterhasis, the Colloredos; most of them have red heels to their shoes,
and wear very well-dressed toupees.

"I have heard Maly Johnston say she was told that she was very like the
empress-queen. Please tell her it is not so. The empress, though not
very well shaped, is better than Maly; but she has not so good a face.
She looks also as if she were prouder and worse tempered. Apropos, to
our friends of Hutton hall, inform them that they have a very near
relation at this court, who is a prodigious fine gentleman, and a great
fool. His name is Sir James Caldwell.[260:1] He told me his grandmother
was a Hume, and that he expected soon to inherit a very fine estate by
her, which he was to share with the Johnstones in Scotland. But he says
it is only Wynne that has the half, not the ladies, who have no share;
so that you'll please tell Sophy that I am off; and give her her
liberty, notwithstanding all vows and promises that may have past
betwixt us."

"_Vienna, 25th April._

"We set out to-morrow, but go not by the way of Venice, as we at first
proposed. This is some mortification to us. We shall go, however, by
Milan. This town is very little for a capital, but excessively populous.
The houses are very high, the streets very narrow and crooked, so that
the many handsome buildings that are here, make not any figure. The
suburbs are spacious and open; but, on the whole, I can never believe
what they tell us, that there are two hundred thousand inhabitants in
it. It is composed entirely of nobility and of lackeys, of soldiers and
of priests. Now, I believe you'll allow, that in a town inhabited only
by these four sets of people above-mentioned, the empress-queen could
not have undertaken a more difficult task, than that which she has
magnanimously entered upon, viz. the producing an absolute chastity
amongst them. A court of chastity is lately erected here, who send all
loose women to the frontiers of Hungary, where they can only debauch
Turks and Infidels. I hope you will not pay your taxes with greater
grudge, because you hear that her imperial majesty, in whose service
they are to be spent, is so great a prude.

"There has been great noise made with us on account of the queen's new
palace at Schönbrunn. It is, indeed, a handsome house, but not very
great nor richly furnished. She said to the general last night, that not
a single soldier had gone to the building, whatever might be said in
England, but that she liked better to be tolerably lodged than to have
useless diamonds by her; and that she had sold all her crown jewels to
enable her to be at that expense. I think, for a sovereign, she is none
of the worst in Europe, and one cannot forbear liking her for the spirit
with which she looks, and speaks, and acts. But 'tis a pity her
ministers have so little sense.

"Prince Eugene's palace in the suburbs is an expensive stately building,
but of a very barbarous Gothic taste. He was _more skilled in battering
walls than building_, as was said of his friend, the Duke of
Marlborough. There is a room in it, where all Prince Eugene's battles
were painted: upon which the Portuguese ambassador told him, that the
whole house was indeed richly furnished, but that all the kings in
Europe could not furnish such a room as that. I have been pretty busy
since I came here, and have regretted it the less that there is no very
great amusement in this place. No Italian opera; no French comedy; no
dancing. I have, however, heard Monticelli, who is the next wonder of
the world to Farinelli."

"_Knittelfeldt in Styria, 28th April._

"This is about a hundred and twenty miles from Vienna. The first forty
is a fine well-cultivated plain, after which we enter the mountains;
and, as we are told, we have three hundred miles more of them before we
reach the plains of Lombardy. The way of travelling through a
mountainous country is generally very agreeable. We are obliged to trace
the course of the rivers, and are always in a pretty valley surrounded
by high hills; and have a constant and very quick succession of wild
agreeable prospects every quarter of a mile. Through Styria nothing can
be more curious than the scenes. In the valleys, which are fertile and
finely cultivated, there is at present a full bloom of spring. The hills
to a certain height are covered with firs and larch trees, the tops are
all shining with snow. You may see a tree white with blossom, and, fifty
fathom farther up, the ground white with snow. These hills, as you may
imagine, give a great command of water to the valleys, which the
industrious inhabitants distribute into every field, and render the
whole very fertile. There are many iron mines in the country, and the
valleys are upon that account extremely populous. But as much as the
country is agreeable in its wildness, as much are the inhabitants
savage, and deformed, and monstrous in their appearance. Very many of
them have ugly swelled throats; idiots and deaf people swarm in every
village; and the general aspect of the people is the most shocking I
ever saw. One would think, that as this was the great road, through
which all the barbarous nations made their irruptions into the Roman
empire, they always left here the refuse of their armies before they
entered into the enemy's country, and that from thence the present
inhabitants are descended. Their dress is scarce European, as their
figure is scarce human.

"There happened, however, a thing to-day, which surprised us all. The
empress-queen, regarding this country as a little barbarous, has sent
some missionaries of Jesuits to instruct them. They had sermons to-day
in the street, under our windows, attended with psalms; and believe me,
nothing could be more harmonious, better tuned, or more agreeable than
the voices of these savages; and the chorus of a French opera does not
sing in better time. You may infer from thence, if you please, that
Orpheus did not civilize the savage nations by his music. I know not
what progress the Jesuits have made by their eloquence; but it appears
to me that religion is not the point in which the Styrians are
defective, at least if we may judge by the number of their churches,
crucifixes, &c. We shall be detained here some days by Sir Harry
Erskine's illness, who is seized with an ague."

"_Clagenfurt in Carinthia, May 4._

"This is a mighty pretty little town, near the Drave. It is the capital
of the province, and stands in a tolerable large plain, surrounded with
very high hills; and on the other side the Drave we see the savage
Mountains of Carniola. You know the Alps join with the Pyrenees, these
with the Alps,[264:1] and run all along the north of Turkey in Europe to
the Black Sea, and form the longest chain of mountains in the universe.

"The figure of the Carinthians is not much better than that of the

"_Trent, 8th of May._

"We are still amongst mountains, and follow the tract of rivers in order
to find our way. But the aspect of the people is wonderfully changed on
entering the Tyrol. The inhabitants are there as remarkably beautiful as
the Styrians are ugly. An air of humanity, and spirit, and health, and
plenty, is seen in every face. Yet their country is wilder than Styria,
the hills higher, and the valleys narrower and more barren. They are
both Germans, subject to the house of Austria; so that it would puzzle a
naturalist or politician to find the reason of so great and remarkable a
difference. We traced up the Drave to its source: (that river, you know,
falls into the Danube, and into the Black Sea.) It ended in a small
rivulet, and that in a ditch, and then in a little bog. On the top of
the hill (though there was there a well cultivated plain) there was no
more appearance of spring than at Christmas. In about half a mile after
we had seen the Drave extinguish, we observed a little stripe of water
to move. This was the beginning of the Adige, and the rivers that run
into the Adriatic. We were now turning toward the south part of the
hill, and descended with great rapidity. Our little brook in three or
four miles became a considerable river, and every hour's travelling
showed us a new aspect of spring; so that in one day we passed through
all the gradations of that beautiful season, as we descended lower into
the valleys, from its first faint dawn till its full bloom and glory. We
are here in Italy; at least the common language of the people is
Italian. This town is not remarkable neither for size nor beauty. 'Tis
only famous for that wise assembly of philosophers and divines, who
established such rational tenets for the belief of mankind."

"_Mantua, 11th of May._

"We are now in classic ground; and I have kissed the earth that produced
Virgil, and have admired those fertile plains that he has so finely

     Perdidit aut quales felices Mantua campos.[265:1]

"You are tired, and so am I, with the descriptions of countries; and
therefore shall only say, that nothing can be more singularly beautiful
than the plains of Lombardy, nor more beggarly and miserable than this

"_Cremona, 12th of May._

"Alas, poor Italy!

     Impius haec tam culta novalia miles habebit;
     Barbarus has segetes?

                         The poor inhabitant
     Starves, in the midst of Nature's plenty curst;
     And in the loaded vineyard dies for thirst.

"The taxes are here exorbitant beyond all bounds. We lie to-morrow at

"_Turin, June 16th, 1748._

"I wrote you about three weeks ago. This is brought into England by Mr.
Bathurst, a nephew of Lord Bathurst, who intended to serve a campaign in
our family. We know nothing as yet of the time of our return. But I
believe we shall make the tour of Italy and France before we come home.
'Tis thought the general will be sent as public minister to settle Don
Philip; so that we shall have seen a great variety of Dutch, German,
Italian, Spanish, and French courts in this jaunt.

     Qui mores hominum multorum vidit, et urbes.

"I say nothing of Milan, or Turin, or Piedmont: because I shall have
time enough to entertain you with accounts of all these. Though you may
be little diverted with this long epistle, you ought at least to thank
me for the pains I have taken in composing it. I have not yet got my

Far different was the pomp and circumstance in which the writer of this
narrative performed his journey, from the condition in which Goldsmith,
four years afterwards, pursued nearly the same route to--

           ----where the rude Carinthian boor
     Against the houseless stranger shuts the door.

And Hume's motions seem to have partaken of the pomp and regularity of
his official station; for, even in these familiar letters to his
brother, he is all along the secretary of legation; or when he descends
from that height, it is but to mount the chair of the scholar and
philosopher. There are no escapades. We never hear that he has taken it
in his head to diverge from the regular route to see an old castle or a
waterfall. Yet he went with an eye for scenery. The Alpine passes
excited his admiration, and his description of the banks of the Rhine
will be recognised at this day as very accurate--with one material
exception. He says nothing of the feudal fortresses perched like the
nests of birds of prey, to which their moral resemblance was at least as
close as their physical; and thus one of the greatest historians of his
age, passes through a country without appearing to have noticed in their
true character, this series of prominent marks of a remarkable chapter
in the history of Europe. He speaks of them simply as "palaces"--a word
not designative of the character of the buildings, or in any way
evincing that their historical position had occurred to his mind. But it
must be admitted, that later tourists on the Rhine have amply made up
for his silence on these matters.

He does not condescend to mention any one of the fine specimens of
Gothic architecture which he must have seen--not even that vast and
beautiful fragment the cathedral of Cologne. One wonders whether or not
he was at the trouble of inquiring, what was that huge mass which he
must have seen towering over the city; and if, straying within its
gates, and looking on Albert Durer's painted windows, he had curiosity
enough to inspect the reliquary of the tomb of the three kings,
containing gems so ancient, that they are conjectured to be older than
Christianity, and to have been the ornaments of some Pagan shrine,
transferred to and historically associated with the pure creed which
displaced the barbarous rites of Paganism. This might have at least
formed a curious topic for his Natural History of Religion. But on this
as on many other subjects, he would sympathize with La Bruyere when he
speaks of "L'ordre Gothique, que la barbarie avoit introduit pour les
palais et pour les temples;" and his thorough neglect of both the
baronial and ecclesiastical architecture of the middle ages, is
characteristic of a mind which could find nothing worthy of admiration,
in the time which elapsed between the extinction of ancient classical
literature, and the rise of the arts and sciences in modern Europe.

But upon scarcely any subject does Hume converse as a brother travelling
into foreign lands might be supposed to address a brother residing at
home, and cultivating his ancestral acres. We should expect to find him
observing that this river is like the Tweed, or unlike it--larger or
smaller; or comparing some range of hills with the Cheviots: but he is
general and undomestic in all his remarks, save the one observation that
the Rhine is as broad as from his brother's house to the opposite side
of the river.

Until he comes to the land of Virgil, where he shows real enthusiasm,
the chief object of his interest and observation appears to have been
the warlike operations in the midst of which he found himself. The
mission must have been attended with the ordinary dangers of a military
enterprise. It was undertaken at a time when all Europe was at war, and
though decisive battles were not taking place, petty conflicts and
surprises were of perpetual occurrence until the treaty of
Aix-la-Chapelle, a few months afterwards, restored repose to the
exhausted nations. Yet we find no symptoms of anxiety in the mind of the
philosophical actor of the military character. His tone is generally
that of a private traveller in a peaceful country, rather than that of a
member of an expedition armed for defence, and likely to be called on to
defend itself. When he mentions warlike operations, he adopts the tone
of a historical critic, and never that of a person who may find his
personal safety or comfort compromised by them.

Though he seems to have set out with the too general notion that
military affairs are the main object of attention to the man who is
desirous of distinction in historical literature, we find already
dawning on him the historian's nobler duty as a delineator of the state
of society, and an inquirer into the causes of the happiness or misery
of the people. And his observations are made with a wide and generous
benevolence, strikingly at contrast with those prevailing doctrines of
his day, which sought, in the success and happiness of one country, the
elements of the misery of another, and made the good fortune of our
neighbours a source of lamentation, as indicating calamity to ourselves.
His unaffected declaration of pleasure, in finding the Germans so happy
and comfortable a people, marks a heart full of genuine kindness and
benevolence, and will more than atone for the want of a disposition to
range through alpine scenery, or a taste to appreciate the beauties of
Gothic architecture.

It will be seen that Hume had intended to continue his journal, but no
farther trace of it has been found. The results of the mission have not
been generally noticed by historians. Its objects were of a subordinate
nature, and the occasion for attending to them was obviated by the
completion of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle on 7th October.

Meanwhile, of Hume's residence in Turin, we have some notices by an able
observer, Lord Charlemont, the celebrated Irish political leader, who,
then in his twentieth year, was following the practice of the higher
aristocracy of his age, and endeavouring to enlarge his mind by foreign
travel. In the following probably exaggerated description it will be
seen that he was far mistaken in his estimate of Hume's age.

"With this extraordinary man I was intimately acquainted. He had kindly
distinguished me from among a number of young men, who were then at the
academy, and appeared so warmly attached to me, that it was apparent he
not only intended to honour me with his friendship, but to bestow on me
what was, in his opinion, the first of all favours and benefits, by
making me his convert and disciple.

"Nature, I believe, never formed any man more unlike his real character
than David Hume. The powers of physiognomy were baffled by his
countenance; neither could the most skilful in that science, pretend to
discover the smallest trace of the faculties of his mind, in the
unmeaning features of his visage. His face was broad and fat, his mouth
wide, and without any other expression than that of imbecility. His eyes
vacant and spiritless, and the corpulence of his whole person, was far
better fitted to communicate the idea of a turtle-eating alderman, than
of a refined philosopher. His speech in English was rendered ridiculous
by the broadest Scotch accent, and his French was, if possible, still
more laughable; so that wisdom most certainly never disguised herself
before in so uncouth a garb. Though now near fifty years old, he was
healthy and strong; but his health and strength, far from being
advantageous to his figure, instead of manly comeliness, had only the
appearance of rusticity. His wearing an uniform added greatly to his
natural awkwardness, for he wore it like a grocer of the trained bands.
Sinclair was a lieutenant-general, and was sent to the courts of Vienna
and Turin, as a military envoy, to see that their quota of troops was
furnished by the Austrians and Piedmontese. It was therefore thought
necessary that his secretary should appear to be an officer, and Hume
was accordingly disguised in scarlet."[271:1]


[225:1] MS. R.S.E.

[226:1] Obliterated.

[227:1] Letter to Mr. Morritt, dated Abbotsford, 2d October, 1815.
Lockhart's Life. The letter continues: "Would it not be a good quiz to
advertise _The Poetical Works of David Hume_, with notes, critical,
historical, and so forth, with a historical inquiry into the use of eggs
for breakfast; a physical discussion on the causes of their being
addled; a history of the English Church music, and of the choir of
Carlisle in particular; a full account of the affair of 1745, with the
trials, last speeches, and so forth, of the poor _plaids_ who were
strapped up at Carlisle; and lastly, a full and particular description
of Corby, with the genealogy of every family who ever possessed it? I
think, even without more than the usual waste of margin, the poems of
David would make a decent twelve shilling touch."

[227:2] For instance, there is preserved in his handwriting a very neat
transcript of the sweet and sad "Ode to Indifference," by Mrs. Greville,
copied, probably at a time when something in its tone of plaintive
imagination was attuned to his own feelings, and called up in him a
response to the complaint.

     Nor ease nor peace that heart can know,
       That, like the needle true,
     Turns at the touch of joy or wo,
       But turning trembles too.

And a desire to join in that prayer that the senses may be steeped in
indifference, in which the poet says,

     The tears which pity taught to flow,
       My eyes shall then disown,
     The heart, that throbb'd at others' wo,
       Shall then scarce feel its own.

     The wounds that now each moment bleed,
       Each moment then shall close,
     And tranquil days shall still succeed,
       To nights of soft repose.

     Oh fairy elf, but grant me this--
       This one kind comfort send;
     And so may never-fading bliss
       Thy flowery paths attend.

     So may the glow-worm's glimmering light
       Thy fairy footsteps lead
     To some new region of delight,
       Unknown to mortal tread.

     And be thy acorn goblet fill'd
       With heaven's ambrosial dew;
     Sweetest, freshest flowers distill'd,
       That shed fresh sweets for you.

     And what of life remains for me,
       I'll pass in sober ease--
     Half-pleased, contented will I be,
       Content--but half to please.

[228:1] MSS. R.S.E. The third piece _appears_ to be in Hume's hand; but
it is written with so much schoolboy stiffness, that one cannot feel
sure of its being so: perhaps it may be a production of very early life.

[232:1] See p. 144.

[233:1] MS. R.S.E. Probably James Crawford of Auchinames.

[234:1] Macgibbon was the name of a dissipated musical composer.

[235:1] Probably Philip Mercier, portrait painter, who died 1760.

[238:1] The marriage took place accordingly on the day following the
date of the letter, viz. 30th January. She was the second wife of Lord
Marchmont; his first countess, whose name was Western, having died on
9th May of the previous year.

[238:2] Memorials of the Right Hon. James Oswald, p. 59.

[239:1] Tytler's Life of Kames, i. 128.

[240:1] MS. R.S.E.

[242:1] The Duke of Cumberland.

[242:2] The revolution by which the Stadtholdership was re-established
in the Prince of Orange, had taken place during the previous year.

[246:1] The French, under Lowendahl, had taken Bergen by storm on the
5th September, 1747.

[252:1] This celebrated battle took place nearly five years before
Hume's visit to the field. It was fought on 26th June, 1743.

[254:1] The "we," must now be held no more to apply to our army, as it
has heretofore done, in reference to the battle, but to General St.
Clair's party.

[255:1] The Pegnitz.

[257:1] Sir Thomas Robinson, whose name has dropped out of recollection
in the ordinary biographical dictionaries, but is still familiar to the
readers of the history of the period, was for some time ambassador at
Vienna, and was plenipotentiary from Britain at the treaty of Aix La
Chapelle in 1748. In 1754 he became secretary of state for a few months.
In 1761 he was raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Grantham.
"Sir Thomas," says Walpole, "had been bred in German courts, and was
rather restored than naturalized to the genius of that country; he had
German honour, loved German politics, and could explain himself as
little as if he spoke only German."--Memoires of George III. 337.
According to the same authority, he was subjected, on account of his
name, to an identification with Robinson Crusoe, something like that
with which Madame Talleyrand honoured Denon, owing to the accident of
his being a great traveller whose name ended in "on."

Sir T. Robinson was a tall uncouth man, and his stature was often
rendered still more remarkable by his hunting dress, a postilion's cap,
a tight green jacket, and buckskin breeches. He was liable to sudden
whims; and once set off on a sudden, in his hunting suit, to visit his
sister, who was married and settled at Paris. He arrived while there was
a large company at dinner. The servant announced Mr. Robinson, and he
came in, to the great amazement of the guests. Among others a French
abbé thrice lifted his fork to his mouth, and thrice laid it down, with
an eager stare of surprise. Unable to restrain his curiosity any longer,
he burst out with, "Excuse me, sir; are you the famous Robinson Crusoe
so remarkable in history."--Walpoliana.

[260:1] An Irish baronet, grandson of Sir James Caldwell who was created
a baronet in 1683, and distinguished himself in the service of William
III. during the Irish revolutionary wars. The person commemorated in so
flattering a manner by Hume, rose to considerable rank in the service of
the empress, and was enabled to introduce to that service a brother, who
obtained in it far more distinction, and who, in connexion with the
relationship mentioned above, was called Hume Caldwell. He seems to have
been strongly endowed with the mercurial disposition of his countrymen.
On his first introduction to the service, he "took expensive lodgings,
kept a chariot, a running footman, and a hussar, and was admitted into
the highest circles;" the natural result of which was, that, on
preparing to join his regiment, when he paid his debts, he found that he
had just two gold ducats left; whereupon, as his biographer pathetically
narrates, "the companion of princes, the friend of Count Conigsegg, the
possessor of a splendid hotel and a gilt chariot, who had kept a hussar
and an opera girl, figured at court, and had an audience of the empress,
and was possessed of a letter of credit for £1000, set out from Vienna
alone, on foot, in a mean habit, and with an empty pocket, for that army
in which he was to rise by his merit to a distinguished command." His
subsequent history is a little romance. Mr. Hume Caldwell, being lost
sight of by the great world, is searched for hither and thither, and at
length an Irish private soldier being questioned about the matter, turns
out to be Caldwell himself, who is immediately restored to his proper
station.--Ryan's Worthies of Ireland.

[264:1] Sic in MS. Perhaps he meant to allude to the junction with the
Carpathians through the Bohemian ranges.

[265:1] Et qualem infelix amisit Mantua campum. Georg. ii. 198?

[271:1] Memoirs of the Political and Private Life of James Caulfield,
Earl of Charlemont, by Francis Hardy, p. 8.


1748-1751. ÆT. 37-40.

     Publication of the "Inquiry concerning Human Understanding"--
     Nature of that Work--Doctrine of Necessity--Observations on
     Miracles--New Edition of the "Essays, Moral and Political"--
     Reception of the new Publications--Return Home--His Mother's
     Death--Her Talents and Character--Correspondence with Dr.
     Clephane--Earthquakes--Correspondence with Montesquieu--
     Practical jokes in connexion with the Westminster Election--
     John Home--The Bellman's Petition.

Early in the year 1748, and while he was on his way to Turin, Hume's
"Philosophical Essays concerning Human Understanding,"[272:1] which he
afterwards styled "Inquiry concerning Human Understanding," were
published anonymously in London. The preparation of this work had
probably afforded him a much larger share of genuine pleasure, than
either the excitement of travelling, or the observation of the natural
scenery, the works of art, and the men and manners among which he moved.
In the tone of a true philosophical enthusiast, he says in the first
section of the work, "Were there no advantage to be reaped from these
studies beyond the gratification of an innocent curiosity, yet ought not
even this to be despised, as being an accession to those few safe and
harmless pleasures which are bestowed on the human race. The sweetest
and most inoffensive path of life leads through the avenues of science
and learning; and whoever can either remove any obstructions in this
way, or open up any new prospect, ought so far to be esteemed a
benefactor to mankind. And though these researches may appear painful
and fatiguing, it is with some minds as with some bodies, which being
endowed with vigorous and florid health, require severe exercise, and
reap a pleasure from what, to the generality of mankind, may seem
burdensome and laborious."

On the publication of this work, he says in his "own life,"--"I had
always entertained a notion, that my want of success in publishing the
'Treatise of Human Nature,' had proceeded more from the manner than the
matter, and that I had been guilty of a very usual indiscretion, in
going to the press too early. I, therefore, cast the first part of that
work anew in the 'Inquiry concerning Human Understanding,' which was
published while I was at Turin. But this piece was at first little more
successful than the 'Treatise of Human Nature.' On my return from Italy,
I had the mortification to find all England in a ferment, on account of
Dr. Middleton's 'Free Inquiry,'[273:1] while my performance was entirely
overlooked and neglected."

He now desired that the "Treatise of Human Nature" should be treated as
a work blotted out of literature, and that the "Inquiry" should be
substituted in its place. In the subsequent editions of the latter work,
he complained that this had not been complied with; that the world still
looked at those forbidden volumes of which he had dictated the
suppression. "Henceforth," he says, "the author desires that the
following pieces may alone be regarded as containing his philosophical
principles and sentiments;" and he became eloquent on the uncandidness
of bringing before the world as the sentiments of any author, a work
written almost in boyhood, and printed at the threshold of manhood. But
it was all in vain: he had to learn that the world takes possession of
all that has passed through the gates of the printing press, and that
neither the command of despotic authority, nor the solicitations of
repentant authorship can reclaim it, if it be matter of sterling value.
The bold and original speculations of the "Treatise" have been, and to
all appearance ever will be, part of the intellectual property of man;
great theories have been built upon them, which must be thrown down
before we can raze the foundation. That he repented of having published
the work, and desired to retract its extreme doctrines, is part of the
mental biography of Hume; but it is impossible, at his command, to
detach this book from general literature, or to read it without
remembering who was its author.

But, indeed, there were pretty cogent reasons why the philosophical
world, and Hume's opponents in particular, should not lose sight of his
early work. In the Inquiry, he did not revoke the fundamental doctrines
of his first work. The elements of all thought and knowledge he still
found to be in impressions and ideas. But he did not on this occasion
carry out his principles with the same reckless hardihood that had
distinguished the Treatise; and thus he neither on the one side gave so
distinct and striking a view of his system, nor on the other afforded so
strong a hold to his adversaries. This hold they were resolved not to
lose; and therefore they retained the original bond, and would not
accept of the offered substitute.

Of those views which are more fully developed in the Inquiry than in the
early work, one of the most important is the attempt to establish the
doctrine of necessity, and to refute that of free will in relation to
the springs of human action. To those who adopted the vulgar notion of
Hume's theory of cause and effect, that it left the phenomena of nature
without a ruling principle, the attempt to show that the human mind was
bound by necessary laws appeared to be a startling inconsistency--a sort
of reversal of the poet's idea,

     And binding nature fast in fate,
       Left free the human will.

It appeared to remove the chains of necessity from inanimate nature, and
rivet them on the will.

But there is a decided principle of connexion between the two doctrines:
whether or not it be a principle that will bear scrutiny, is another
question. The two systems are identified with each other, simply by the
annihilation of the notion of power both in the material and in the
immaterial world. As we cannot find in physical causes any power to
produce their effect, so when a man moves his arm to strike, or his
tongue to reprimand, we have no notion of any _power_ being exercised;
but we have an impression that certain impulses are followed, and we can
no more suppose that it was at the choice of the individual whether,
when these impulses or motives existed, they should or should not be
obeyed, than that when the phenomenon called in the material world the
cause, made its appearance, there could be any doubt of its being
followed by the effect. The inference from this was, that human actions
are as much the objects of inductive philosophy as the operations of
nature; that they are equally regular, effect following cause as much in
the operations of the passions as in those of the elements. Of the
application of the theory to his historical observation of events, the
following passage is a vivid enunciation:--

"It is universally acknowledged, that there is a great uniformity among
the actions of men, in all nations and ages, and that human nature
remains still the same in its principles and operations. The same
motives always produce the same actions; the same events follow from the
same causes. Ambition, avarice, self-love, vanity, friendship,
generosity, public spirit; these passions, mixed in various degrees, and
distributed through society, have been, from the beginning of the world,
and still are, the source of all the actions and enterprises which have
ever been observed among mankind. Would you know the sentiments,
inclinations, and course of life of the Greeks and Romans? study well
the temper and actions of the French and English: you cannot be much
mistaken in transferring to the former _most_ of the observations which
you have made with regard to the latter. Mankind are so much the same,
in all times and places, that history informs us of nothing new or
strange in this particular. Its chief use is only to discover the
constant and universal principles of human nature, by showing men in all
varieties of circumstances and situations, and furnishing us with
materials from which we may form our observations, and become acquainted
with the regular springs of human action and behaviour. These records of
wars, intrigues, factions, and revolutions, are so many collections of
experiments, by which the politician or moral philosopher fixes the
principles of his science, in the same manner as the physician or
natural philosopher becomes acquainted with the nature of plants,
minerals, and other external objects, by the experiments which he forms
concerning them. Nor are the earth, water, and other elements, examined
by Aristotle and Hippocrates, more like to those which at present lie
under our observation, than the men described by Polybius and Tacitus
are to those who now govern the world.

"Should a traveller, returning from a far country, bring us an account
of men wholly different from any with whom we were ever acquainted, men
who were entirely divested of avarice, ambition, or revenge, who knew no
pleasure but friendship, generosity, and public spirit, we should
immediately, from these circumstances, detect the falsehood, and prove
him a liar, with the same certainty as if he had stuffed his narration
with stories of centaurs and dragons, miracles and prodigies. And if we
would explode any forgery in history, we cannot make use of a more
convincing argument than to prove, that the actions ascribed to any
person are directly contrary to the course of nature, and that no human
motives, in such circumstances, could ever induce him to such a conduct.
The veracity of Quintus Curtius is as much to be suspected, when he
describes the supernatural courage of Alexander, by which he was hurried
on singly to attack multitudes, as when he describes his supernatural
force and activity, by which he was able to resist them. So readily and
universally do we acknowledge a uniformity in human motives and actions,
as well as in the operations of body.

"Hence, likewise, the benefit of that experience, acquired by long life
and a variety of business and company, in order to instruct us in the
principles of human nature, and regulate our future conduct, as well as
speculation. By means of this guide we mount up to the knowledge of
men's inclinations and motives, from their actions, expressions, and
even gestures; and again descend to the interpretation of their
actions, from our knowledge of their motives and inclinations. The
general observations, treasured up by a course of experience, give us
the clue of human nature, and teach us to unravel all its intricacies.
Pretexts and appearances no longer deceive us. Public declarations pass
for the specious colouring of a cause. And though virtue and honour be
allowed their proper weight and authority, that perfect
disinterestedness, so often pretended to, is never expected in
multitudes and parties, seldom in their leaders, and scarcely even in
individuals of any rank or station. But were there no uniformity in
human actions, and were every experiment, which we could form of this
kind, irregular and anomalous, it were impossible to collect any general
observations concerning mankind; and no experience, however accurately
digested by reflection, would ever serve to any purpose. Why is the aged
husbandman more skilful in his calling than the young beginner, but
because there is a certain uniformity in the operation of the sun, rain,
and earth, towards the production of vegetables; and experience teaches
the old practitioner the rules by which this operation is governed and

How very clearly we find these principles practically illustrated in his
History! A disinclination to believe in the narratives of great and
remarkable deeds proceeding from peculiar impulses: a propensity, when
the evidence adduced in their favour cannot be rebutted, to treat these
peculiarities rather as diseases of the mind, than as the operation of
noble aspirations: a levelling disposition to find all men pretty much
upon a par, and none in a marked manner better or worse than their
neighbours: an inclination to doubt all authorities which tended to
prove that the British people had any fundamental liberties not
possessed by the French and other European nations. Such are the
practical fruits of this necessitarian philosophy.

It was on this occasion that Hume promulgated those opinions upon
miracles, which we have found him afraid to make public even in that
work of which he afterwards regretted the bold and rash character. No
part of his writings gave more offence to serious and devout thinkers;
but the offence was in the manner of the promulgation, not the matter of
the opinions. To understand how this occurred, let us cast a glance for
a moment at two opposite classes of religious thinkers, into which a
large portion of the Christian world is divided, and find with which, if
with either, Hume's opinions coincide.

If we suppose a man, impressed with a feeling of devotion and reverence
for a Superior Being, who, seeing in the order of the world and all its
movements, the omnipotent, all-wise, and all-merciful guidance of a
divine Providence, believes that the Great Being will give to his
creatures no revelation that is not in accordance with the merciful
harmony of all his ways; and thus devoutly and submissively receives the
word of God as promulgated in the Bible; attempts to make it the rule of
his actions and opinions; receives with deference the views of those
whom the same power that authorized it, has permitted to be the human
instruments of its promulgation and explanation; tries to understand
what it is within the power of his limited faculties to comprehend; but,
implicitly believing that in the shadows of those mysteries which he is
unable to penetrate, there lie operations as completely part of one
great regular plan, as merciful, as beneficent, and as wise as the
outward and comprehensible acts of Providence; who thus never for one
moment allows his mind to doubt, where it is unable to comprehend or
explain--such a man finds none of his sentiments in the writings of
Hume, for he is at once told there that reason and revelation are two
disconnected things, that each must act alone, and that the one derives
no aid from the other.

But take one who believes that religion is too sacred to be in any way
allied with so poor and miserable a thing as erring human reason; who
feels that it is not in himself to merit any of the boundless mercies of
the atonement; and that to endeavour by his actions, or the direction of
his thoughts, to be made a participator in them, is but setting blind
reason to lead the blind appetites and desires; who feels that by no act
of his own, the true light of the Christian religion has been lighted
within him as by a miracle; who has been adopted by a sudden change in
his spiritual nature into the family of the faithful--then there is
nothing in all Hume's philosophy to militate against the religion of
such a man, but rather many arguments in its favour, both implied and

Since this is the case, it may be asked, why, if one party in religion
attacked the opinions of Hume, another did not defend them? why, if
Beattie and Warburton couched the lance, Whitefield and John Erskine did
not come forward as his champions? In the first place, it was only those
who united reason and revelation as going hand in hand and aiding each
other, that looked at books of philosophy with an eye to their influence
on religion, and such works formed a department of literature in which
the advocates of "eternal decrees" would not expect to find much to suit
their purpose. But, in the second place, this class of religious
thinkers are all, except the few who are hypocrites, devout and serious
people, and Hume's method of treating these subjects was not such as
they could feel a sympathy with. A want of proper deference for
devotional feeling, is a defect that runs through all his works--a
constitutional organic defect it might be termed. There is no ribaldry,
but at the same time there are no expressions of decent reverence; while
this religious party knew from the manner in which their predecessors in
the same doctrines were historically treated by Hume, that if there were
any coincidence in abstract opinions, there was very little in common
between their sympathies and his.

In this same section on miracles, there are repeated protests against
the reader assuming that the writer is arguing against the Christian
faith. Against some Catholic miracles, which were asserted to be proved
by testimony as strong as that which attested the miracles of our
Saviour, he says, "As if the testimony of man could ever be put in the
balance with that of God himself, who conducted the pen of the inspired
writers!" and again, "Our most holy religion is founded on _faith_, not
on reason; and it is a sure method of exposing it to put it to such a
trial as it is by no means fitted to endure." These protests however
were made briefly and coldly, and in such a manner as made people feel,
that if Hume believed in the doctrines they announced, he certainly had
not his heart in them. Hence, although, since the origin of rationalism,
evangelical Christians have frequently had recourse to the arguments of
Hume, there was long in that quarter a not unnatural reluctance to
appeal to them.

It is perhaps one of the most remarkable warnings against hasty
judgments on the effects of efforts of subtle reasoning, that, according
to later scientific discoveries, no two things are in more perfect
unison than Hume's theory of belief in miracles, and the belief that
miracles, according to the common acceptation of the term, have actually
taken place. The leading principle of this theory is, in conformity with
its author's law of cause and effect, that where our experience has
taught us that two things follow each other as cause and effect by an
unvarying sequence, if we hear of an instance in which this has not been
the case, we ought to doubt the truth of the narrative. In other words,
if we are told of some circumstance having taken place out of the usual
order of nature, we ought not to believe it; because the circumstance of
the narrator having been deceived, or of his designedly telling a
falsehood, is more probable than an event contradictory to all previous
authenticated experience. It is a rule for marking the boundary and
proper application of the inductive system, and one that is highly
serviceable to science. But, in applying it to use, we must not be led
away by the narrow application, in common conversation, of the word
experience. There is the experience of the common workman, and there is
the experience of the philosopher. There is that observation of
phenomena which makes a ditcher know that the difficulty of pulling out
a loosened stone with a mattock indicates it to be so many inches thick;
and that observation, fully as sure, which shows the geologist that the
stratum of the Pennsylvanian grauwacke is upwards of a hundred miles
thick. The experience and observation of the husbandman teach him, that
when the opposite hill is distinct to his view, the intervening
atmosphere is not charged with vapour; but observation, not less
satisfactory, shows the astronomer that Jupiter and the Moon have around
them no atmosphere such as that by which our planet is enveloped. Now
there is nothing more fully founded on experimental observation than the
fact, that there was a time when the present order of the world was not
in existence. That there have been convulsions, such as, did we now hear
of their contemporary occurrence, instead of attesting their past
existence through the sure course of observation and induction, we would
at once maintain to be impossible. To this then, and this only, comes
the theory of miracles, that at the present day, and for a great many
years back, the accounts that are given of circumstances having taken
place out of the general order of nature, are to be discredited, because
between the two things to be believed, the falsehood of the narrative is
more likely than the truth of the occurrence. But the very means by
which we arrive at this conclusion bring us to another, that there was a
time to which the rules taken from present observation of the course of
nature did not apply.[283:1]

That in history, in science, in the conduct of every-day life, and
particularly in the formation of the minds of the young, this rule of
belief is of the highest practical utility, few will doubt. The parish
clergyman, who assists in throwing discredit on all the superstitious
stories of spectres, witchcrafts, and demoniacal possessions with which
his neighbourhood may be afflicted, is but an active promulgator of the
doctrine. It was a narrow view that Campbell adopted when he said, that
if we heard of a ferry boat, which had long crossed the stream in
safety, having sunk, we would give credit to the testimony concerning
it.[284:1] Our experience teaches us that ferry boats are made of
perishable materials, liable to be submerged; and thus, in this case,
there is no balance of incredibility against the narrator. To have tried
Campbell's practical faith in Hume's theory, he should have had before
him a person professing to have become aware of the sinking of the boat,
by some unprecedented means of perception, called a magnetic influence,
in the absence of a more distinct name; while it is shown that the same
person had an opportunity of being informed, through the organs of
hearing, of the circumstance which had taken place. It would then be
seen, whether that sagacious philosopher would have given the sanction
of his belief to a phenomenon contrary to all previous experience--the
ascertainment of an external event, without the aid of the senses; or
would have acceded to the too commonly illustrated phenomenon, that
human beings are capable of falsehood and folly.

It is much to be regretted that Hume employed the word miracles in the
title of this inquiry. He thus employed a term which had been applied to
sacred subjects, and raised a natural prejudice against reasonings,
applicable to contemporary events, and to the rules of ordinary
historical belief. He might have found some other title--such as, "The
Principles of Belief in Human Testimony," which would have more
satisfactorily explained the nature of the inquiry.

But it is not improbable that the odium thus occasioned first introduced
Hume's philosophical works to controversial notoriety. Though
disappointed by the silence of the public immediately on his arrival
from abroad, he has soon to tell us in his "own life,"--"Meanwhile, my
bookseller, A. Millar, informed me, that my former publications (all but
the unfortunate Treatise) were beginning to be the subject of
conversation; that the sale of them was gradually increasing, and that
new editions were demanded. Answers by reverends and right reverends
came out two and three in a year;[285:1] and I found, by Warburton's
railing, that the books were beginning to be esteemed in good

It was in the "Inquiry concerning the Human Understanding," that Hume
promulgated the theory of association, which called forth so much
admiration of its simplicity, beauty, and truth. "To me," he says,
"there appear to be only three principles of connexion among ideas,
namely, _Resemblance_, _Contiguity_ in time or place, and _Cause_ or

"That these principles serve to connect ideas, will not, I believe, be
much doubted. A picture naturally leads our thoughts to the original
[Resemblance.] The mention of one apartment in a building, naturally
introduces an inquiry or discourse concerning the others [Contiguity:]
and if we think on a wound, we can scarcely forbear reflecting on the
pain which follows it [Cause and Effect.]"[286:1]

In connexion with this theory a curious charge has been brought forward
by Coleridge, who says, "In consulting the excellent commentary of St.
Thomas Aquinas, on the Parva Naturalia of Aristotle, I was struck at
once with its close resemblance to Hume's essay on association. The main
thoughts were the same in both. The _order_ of the thoughts was the
same, and even the illustrations differed only by Hume's occasional
substitution of more modern examples. I mentioned the circumstance to
several of my literary acquaintances, who admitted the closeness of the
resemblance, and that it seemed too great to be explained by mere
coincidence; but they thought it improbable that Hume should have held
the pages of the angelic doctor worth turning over. But some time after,
Mr. Payne of the King's Mews, showed Sir James Mackintosh some odd
volumes of St. Thomas Aquinas, partly perhaps from having heard that Sir
James, (then Mr. Mackintosh,) had in his lectures passed a high encomium
on this canonized philosopher, but chiefly from the fact that the
volumes had belonged to Mr. Hume, and had here and there marginal marks
and notes of reference in his own handwriting. Among these volumes was
that which contains the Parva Naturalia, in the old Latin version,
swathed and swaddled in the commentary aforementioned."

On this, Sir James Macintosh says, that "the manuscript of a part of
Aquinas, which I bought many years ago, (on the faith of a bookseller's
catalogue,) as being written by Mr. Hume, was not a copy of the
commentary on the _Parva Naturalia_, but of Aquinas's own _Secunda
Secundæ_; and that, on examination, it proves not to be the handwriting
of Mr. Hume, and to contain nothing written by him."[287:1] So much for
the external evidence of plagiarism.

With regard to the internal evidence, the passage of Aquinas
particularly referred to, which will be found below,[287:2] refers to
memory not imagination; to the recall of images in the relation to each
other in which they have once had a place in the mind, not to the
formation of new associations, or aggregates of ideas there; nor will it
bring the theories to an identity, that, according to Hume's doctrine,
nothing can be recalled in the mind unless its elements have already
been deposited there in the form of ideas, because the observations of
Aquinas apply altogether to the _reminiscence_ of aggregate objects. But
the classification is different: for Hume's embodies cause and effect,
but not contrariety; while that of Aquinas has contrariety, but not
cause and effect. In a division into three elements, this discrepancy is
material; and, without entering on any lengthened reasoning, it may
simply be observed, that the merit of Hume's classification is, that it
is exhaustive, and neither contains any superfluous element, nor omits
any principle under which an act of association can be classed.

But it is remarkable that Coleridge should have failed to keep in view,
in his zeal to discover some curious thing to reward him for his
researches among the fathers, that the classification is not that of
Aquinas, but of Aristotle, and is contained in the very work on which
the passage in Aquinas is one of the many commentaries.[288:1]

       *       *       *       *       *

The "Essays Moral and Political," had, though it is not mentioned by
Hume in his "own life," been so well received, that a second edition
appeared in 1742, the same year in which the second volume of the
original edition was published. A third edition was published in London
in 1748,[289:1] of which Hume, comparing them with his neglected
contemporaneous publication of the Inquiry, says that they "met not with
a much better reception."

Two essays, which had appeared in the previous editions, were omitted in
the third. One of these, "Of Essay Writing," was evidently written at
the time when the author had the design of publishing his work
periodically,[289:2] and was meant as a prospectus or announcement to
the readers, of the method in which he proposed to address them in his
periodical papers. The other was a "Character of Sir Robert Walpole;" a
curious attempt to take an impartial estimate of a man who, at the time
of the first publication, had been longer in office, and was surrounded
by a more numerous and powerful band of enemies, than any previous
British statesman. But between the two publications the enemies had
triumphed; and the statesman of forty years had been driven into
retirement, where death speedily relieved him from a scene of inaction,
which might have been repose to others, but was to him an insupportable
solitude. Party rage had consequently changed its direction, and that
air of solemn deliberation which, while the statesman was moving between
the admiration of his friends and the hatred of his enemies, had an
appearance of resolute stoical impartiality, might have appeared
strained and affected, if the essay had been republished in 1748.

To this third edition three essays were added, "Of National Characters,"
"Of the Original Contract," and "Of Passive Obedience." The first of
these contains some very curious incidental notices of ancient morals
and habits, so adapted to modern colloquial language and habits, as to
make the descriptions as clear to the unlearned as to the learned; as,
for example, the following notices of the drinking practices of the

"The ancient Greeks, though born in a warm climate, seem to have been
much addicted to the bottle; nor were their parties of pleasure any
thing but matches of drinking among men, who passed their time
altogether apart from the fair. Yet when Alexander led the Greeks into
Persia, a still more southern climate, they multiplied their debauches
of this kind, in imitation of the Persian manners.[290:1] So honourable
was the character of a drunkard among the Persians, that Cyrus the
younger, soliciting the sober Lacedemonians for succour against his
brother Artaxerxes, claims it chiefly on account of his superior
endowments, as more valorous, more bountiful, and a better
drinker.[290:2] Darius Hystaspes made it be inscribed on his tomb-stone,
among his other virtues and princely qualities, that no one could bear a
greater quantity of liquor."

The other two essays, though bearing on subjects which have now almost
dropped out of political discussion, "The Original Contract," and
"Passive Obedience," trod close on the heels of the long conflict in
which Milton, Salmasius, Hobbes, Sidney, Locke, and Filmer, had been
partakers; and while the din of arms was far from being exhausted, they
professed to hold the balance equally between the combatants, or, more
properly speaking, to examine philosophically the merits of the theory
of each party, without taking up the angry arguments of either. They
are, in truth, but a farther adaptation to politics of those utilitarian
theories which Hume had previously applied both to private morals and to
government. And the principle they promulgate is, that the citizen's
allegiance to the laws and constitution of his country, has its proper
foundation neither in an acknowledgment of the divine right of any
governor, nor in a contract with him by which both parties are bound,
but in the moral duty of respecting internal peace and order, and of
avoiding outbreaks which may plunge the people into anarchy and misery,
to gratify the pride or baser passions of turbulent individuals.

It must have been on his return on this occasion, that Hume rejoined the
family circle at Ninewells, bereaved of the parent whose devotion to his
training and education he has so affectionately commemorated. "I went
down," he says, "in 1749, and lived two years with my brother at his
country house, for my mother was now dead."[291:1] In a letter, which
will have to be afterwards referred to, by Dr. Black, to Adam Smith,
written when Hume was on his death-bed, and in relation to his final
illness, there is the remark, "His mother," he says, "had precisely the
same constitution with himself, and died of this very disorder."

On this subject, the American traveller, Silliman, gave currency to a
foolish and improbable story, which he puts in the following shape:--

"It seems that Hume received a religious education from his mother, and
early in life was the subject of strong and hopeful religious
impressions; but, as he approached manhood, they were effaced, and
confirmed infidelity succeeded. Maternal partiality, however alarmed at
first, came at length to look with less and less pain upon this
declension, and filial love and reverence seem to have been absorbed in
the pride of philosophical scepticism; for Hume now applied himself with
unwearied, and unhappily with successful efforts, to sap the foundation
of his mother's faith. Having succeeded in this dreadful work, he went
abroad into foreign countries; and as he was returning, an express met
him in London, with a letter from his mother, informing him that she was
in a deep decline, and could not long survive: she said, she found
herself without any support in her distress; that he had taken away that
source of comfort, upon which, in all cases of affliction, she used to
rely, and that now she found her mind sinking into despair. She did not
doubt but her son would afford her some substitute for her religion; and
she conjured him to hasten to her, or at least to send her a letter,
containing such consolations as philosophy can afford to a dying mortal.
Hume was overwhelmed with anguish on receiving this letter, and hastened
to Scotland, travelling day and night; but before he arrived his mother
expired. No permanent impression seems, however, to have been made on
his mind by this most trying event; and whatever remorse he might have
felt at the moment, he soon relapsed into his wonted obduracy of heart."

This story, probably told after dinner, and invented on the spot,--the
American narrator's unfortunate name perhaps rendering him peculiarly
liable to the machinations of the mischievous,--is totally at variance
with Hume's character. He was no propagandist; and, indeed, seems ever
to have felt, that a firm faith in Christianity, unshaken by any doubts,
was an invaluable privilege, of which it would be as much more cruel to
deprive a fellow-creature than to rob him of his purse, as the one
possession is more valuable than the other. Hence we shall find, that
his conversation was acceptable to women and to clergymen, who never
feared in his presence to encounter any sentiment that might shock their
feelings; and what is more to the point, parents were never afraid of
trusting their children to his care and social attentions, and indeed
thought it a high privilege to obtain them.

The appearance of the above passage in a notice of "Silliman's Travels"
in _The Quarterly Review_, called forth a remonstrance from Baron Hume,
which elicited the following statement from the editor:--[293:1]

"That anecdote he has shown to be false by unquestionable dates, and by
a circumstance related in the manuscript memoirs of the late Dr.
Carlyle, an eminent clergyman of the Scottish Church, and friend of the
historian. The circumstance, interesting in itself, and decisive on the
subject, we transcribe, in the words of the manuscript, from the letter
before us:--

"David and he (the Hon. Mr. Boyle, brother of the Earl of Glasgow) were
both in London at the period when David's mother died. Mr. Boyle,
hearing of it, soon after went into his apartment, for they lodged in
the same house, where he found him in the deepest affliction, and in a
flood of tears. After the usual topics of condolence, Mr. Boyle said to
him, 'My friend, you owe this uncommon grief to having thrown off the
principles of religion; for if you had not, you would have been consoled
with the firm belief that the good lady, who was not only the best of
mothers but the most pious of Christians, was completely happy in the
realms of the just.' To which David replied, 'Though I throw out my
speculations to entertain the learned and metaphysical world, yet, in
other things, I do not think so differently from the rest of the world
as you imagine.'"[294:1]

One of Hume's most intimate friends was Dr. Clephane, a physician in
considerable practice in London. They appear to have become acquainted
with each other during the expedition to Port L'Orient, in which
Clephane was probably a medical officer, as Hume, in his letters about
his own half-pay, speaks of him as in the same position with himself.
The correspondence is characterized by the thorough ease and polite
familiarity of the camp, and none of Hume's letters are fuller of his
playful spirit than those addressed to his brother officer.


"Ιητρὸς γὰρ ἀνηρ πολλῶν ἀντάξιος ἄλλων.[296:1]

"DEAR DOCTOR,--I have here received a great many thanks from an honest
man, who tells me that he and all his family have been extremely obliged
to me. This is my brother's gardener, who showed me a letter from his
son, wherein he acknowledges that he owes his life to your care; that
you placed him in an hospital, and attended him with as much assiduity
as if he had been the best nobleman in the land; that all he shall ever
be worth will never be able to repay you: and that therefore he must
content himself with being grateful: at the same time desiring his
father to give me thanks, by whose means he was recommended to you.

"These thanks I received with great gravity, and replied, that one must
always endeavour to do good when it is in one's power. In short, I took
upon me your part, and gave myself as many airs as if I had really shown
the same beneficent dispositions. I considered that you have good deeds
to spare, and are possessed of greater store of merits and works of
supererogation, than any church, Pagan, Mahometan, or Catholic, ever was
entitled to, and that, therefore, to rob you a little was no great

                           ----cui plura supersunt,
     Et fallunt dominum, et prosunt furibus.[297:1]

"I hope, dear Doctor, you find virtue its own reward--that, methinks, is
but just--considering it is the only reward it is ever likely to meet
with--in this world I mean; at least you may take your own reward
yourself for me. I shall never trouble my head about the matter, and you
need not expect that I shall even like or esteem you the better for this
instance of your charity and humanity. You fancy, I suppose, that I
already liked and esteemed you so much, that this makes no sensible
addition. You may fancy what you please: I shall not so much as speak
another word upon this subject, but proceed to a better. You shall see.

"You would perhaps ask, how I employ my time in this leisure and
solitude, and what are my occupations? Pray, do you expect I should
convey to you an encyclopedia, in the compass of a letter? The last
thing I took my hand from was a very learned, elaborate discourse,
concerning the populousness of antiquity; not altogether in opposition
to _Vossius_ and _Montesquieu_, who exaggerate that affair infinitely;
but, starting some doubts, and scruples, and difficulties, sufficient
to make us suspend our judgment on that head. Amongst other topics, it
fell in my way to consider the greatness of ancient _Rome_; and in
looking over the discourse, I find the following period. 'If we may
judge by the younger Pliny's account of his house, and by the plans of
ancient buildings in Dr. Mead's collection, the men of quality had very
spacious palaces, and their buildings were like the Chinese houses,
where each apartment is separate from the rest, and rises no higher than
a single story.'[298:1] Pray, on what authority are those plans founded?
If I remember right, I was told they were discovered on the walls of the
baths, and other subterraneous buildings. Is this the proper method of
citing them? If you have occasion to communicate this to Dr. Mead, I beg
that my sincere respects may be joined.

"I think the parsons have lately used the physicians very ill, for, in
all the common terrors of mankind, you used commonly both to come in for
a share of the profit: but in this new fear of earthquakes, they have
left you out entirely, and have pretended alone to give prescriptions to
the multitude.[298:2] I remember, indeed, Mr. Addison talks of a quack
that advertised pills for an earthquake, at a time when people lay under
such terrors as they do at present. But I know not if any of the faculty
have imitated him at this time. I see only a Pastoral Letter of the
Bishop of London, where, indeed, he recommends certain pills, such as
fasting, prayer, repentance, mortification, and other drugs, which are
entirely to come from his own shop. And I think this is very unfair in
him, and you have great reason to be offended; for why might he not have
added, that medicinal powders and potions would also have done service?
The worst is, that you dare not revenge yourself in kind, by advising
your patients to have nothing to do with the parson; for you are sure he
has a faster hold of them than you, and you may yourself be discharged
on such an advice.[299:1]

"You'll scarcely believe what I am going to tell you; but it is
literally true. Millar had printed off, some months ago, a new edition
of certain philosophical essays, but he tells me very gravely that he
has delayed publishing because of the earthquakes.[300:1] I wish you may
not also be a loser by the same common calamity; for I am told the
ladies were so frightened, they took the rattling of every coach for an
earthquake; and therefore would employ no physicians but from amongst
the infantry: insomuch that some of you charioteers had not gained
enough to pay the expenses of your vehicle. But this may only be waggery
and banter, which I abhor. Please remember to give my respects to the
General, and Sir Harry, and Captain Grant, who I hope are all in good
health: indeed, as to the Captain, I do not know what to hope, or wish;
for if he recover his health, he loses his shape, and must always remain
in that perplexing dilemma.--Remember me also to Suncey
Glassaugh,[300:2] and remember me yourself.

"_Ninewells, near Berwick, April 18, 1750._

"P.S.--Pray, did Guidelianus[300:3] get his money, allowed him by the
Pay-office? I suppose he is in Ireland, poor devil! so I give you no
commission with regard to him.

"Pray, tell Glassaugh that I hope he has not suppressed the paper I
sent him about the new year.[301:1] If he has, pray ask for a sight of
it, for it is very witty. I contrived it one night that I could not
sleep for the tortures of rheumatism; and you have heard of a great
lady, who always put on blisters, when she wanted to be witty. 'Tis a
receipt I recommend to you."[301:2]

The following letter to Oswald shows us that Hume was, at the time it
was written, earnestly engaged in the preparation of the "Essays on
Political Economy," which he published in 1752.

HUME _to_ JAMES OSWALD _of Dunnikier_.

"DEAR SIR,--I confess I was a little displeased with you for neglecting
me so long; but you have made ample compensation. This commerce, I find,
is of advantage to both of us; to me, by the new lights you communicate,
and to you, by giving you occasion to examine these subjects more
accurately. I shall here deliver my opinion of your reasonings with the
freedom which you desire.

"I never meant to say that money, in all countries which communicate,
must necessarily be on a level, but on a level proportioned to their
people, industry, and commodities. That is, where there is double
people, &c. there will be double money, and so on; and that the only way
of keeping or increasing money is, by keeping and increasing the people
and industry; not by prohibitions of exporting money, or by taxes on
commodities, the methods commonly thought of. I believe we differ
little on this head. You allow, that if all the money in England were
increased fourfold in one night, there would be a sudden rise of prices;
but then, say you, the importation of foreign commodities would soon
lower the prices. Here, then, is the flowing out of the money already
begun. But, say you, a small part of this stock of money would suffice
to buy foreign commodities, and lower the prices. I grant it would for
one year, till the imported commodities be consumed. But must not the
same thing be renewed next year? No, say you; the additional stock of
money may, in this interval, so increase the people and industry, as to
enable them to retain their money. Here I am extremely pleased with your
reasoning. I agree with you, that the increase of money, if not too
sudden, naturally increases people and industry, and by that means may
retain itself; but if it do not produce such an increase, nothing will
retain it except hoarding. Suppose twenty millions brought into
Scotland; suppose that, by some fatality, we take no advantage of this
to augment our industry or people, how much would remain in the quarter
of a century? not a shilling more than we have at present. My expression
in the Essay needs correction, which has occasioned you to mistake it.

"Your enumeration of the advantages of rich countries above poor, in
point of trade, is very just and curious; but I cannot agree with you
that, barring ill policy or accidents, the former might proceed gaining
upon the latter for ever. The growth of every thing, both in art and
nature, at last checks itself. The rich country would acquire and retain
all the manufactures that require great stock or great skill; but the
poor country would gain from it all the simpler and more laborious. The
manufactures of London, you know, are steel, lace, silk, books, coaches,
watches, furniture, fashions; but the outlying provinces have the linen
and woollen trade.

"The distance of China is a physical impediment to the communication, by
reducing our commerce to a few commodities; and by heightening the price
of these commodities, on account of the long voyage, the monopolies, and
the taxes. A Chinese works for three-halfpence a-day, and is very
industrious; were he as near us as France or Spain, every thing we used
would be Chinese, till money and prices came to a level; that is, to
such a level as is proportioned to the numbers of people, industry, and
commodities of both countries.

"A part of our public funds serve in place of money; for our merchants,
but still more our bankers, keep less cash by them when they have stock,
because they can dispose of that upon any sudden demand. This is not the
case with the French funds. The _rentes_ of the Hotel de Ville are not
transferable, but are most of them entailed in the families. At least, I
know there is a great difference in this respect betwixt them and the
_actions_ of the Indian Company.

"That the industry and people of Spain, after the discovery of the West
Indies, at first increased more than is commonly imagined, is a very
curious fact; and I doubt not but you say so upon good authority, though
I have not met with that observation in any author.

"Beside the bad effects of the paper credit in our colonies, as it was a
cheat, it must also be allowed that it banished gold and silver, by
supplying their place. On the whole, my intention in the Essay was to
remove people's terrors, who are apt, from chimerical calculations, to
imagine they are losing their specie, though they can show in no
instance that either their people or industry diminish; and also to
expose the absurdity of guarding money otherwise than by watching over
the people and their industry, and preserving or increasing them. To
prohibit the exportation of money, or the importation of commodities, is
mistaken policy; and I have the pleasure of seeing you agree with me.

"I have no more to say, but compliments; and therefore shall conclude. I
am," &c.[304:1]

"_Ninewells, 1st November, 1750._"

In 1750 there was published in Edinburgh, an edition of Montesquieu's
"Esprit des Loix; avec les dernieres corrections et illustrations de
l'Auteur."[304:2] That Hume was instrumental to this publication, is
shown by the letters addressed to him by Montesquieu between the years
1749 and 1753, printed in the appendix. It appears, that, as he there
intimates, the author sent over a copy of his corrections and
illustrations; but the work must have been partly printed before their
arrival, for, in the advertisement to the reader, it is stated that a
few of the earliest sheets, where the more important amendments
occurred, had to be reprinted, while some minor alterations are
supplied by a list of corrections.

Montesquieu's appreciation of some of Hume's ethical works will be read
with interest. Hume appears to have made the first advances towards an
intimacy; and the great Frenchman, then in his sixtieth year, seems to
have hailed with satisfaction the appearance of a kindred spirit, and to
have received his proffers with warm cordiality. This is the
commencement of that intercourse with his eminent contemporaries in
France, which we shall hereafter find to occupy a prominent feature in
Hume's literary and social history.

At this period we find Hume taking much interest in the conduct of a
certain James Fraser, in connexion with the Westminster election of
1749--one of the marked epochs in the parliamentary history of that
renowned constituency. The candidates were Lord Trentham the eldest son
of Earl Gower, and Sir George Vandeput, of whom the former was returned
by the high bailiff. Sir George Vandeput was the "independent"
candidate, representing the "English interest." Lord Trentham was a
placeman, and was accused of a partiality for French interests. Though
the Jacobites were ranged on the Vandeput side, Lord Trentham was by
implication accused of having favoured the exiled family; as by one of
the election placards issued on the occasion, the voters are desired to
"ask Lord Trentham, who had his foot in the stirrup in the year 1715?"
He was charged with having sacrificed his country or Jacobite principles
for a place, and with being that most abhorred of all political
characters, an ex-patriot, who has ratted to obtain office. Shortly
before the election, a riotous attack had been made on a small French
theatre, which had become peculiarly unpopular by obtaining a licence,
when some English establishments had been suppressed under Walpole's
act. It appears that Lord Trentham had, with some others, endeavoured to
preserve the friendless foreigners from the fury of the mob. So
un-English an act, as this harbouring and protecting of foreign
vagabonds, against the just indignation of true born Britons, was very
successfully displayed as an overt act in favour of Popery, Jacobitism,
and French ascendency; and the skilful manner in which it was improved,
in the hand-bills, and pasquinades of the Vandeput party, shows that
this department of the electioneering art was not then far from its
present state of maturity.[306:1]

A pretty minute investigation has not enabled me to discover what
precise conduct in connexion with this affair was important enough to
elicit from Hume the elaborate joke against Fraser embodied in the
following papers. He was evidently a medical man, but he does not appear
in the list of those who attested Mr. Murray's health, or were appointed
to visit him. He certainly acted on the Vandeput side, yet his name is
nowhere mentioned, in connexion with it, in a pretty large collection of
documents relating to this election, which I have had an opportunity of

Fraser was evidently, like Clephane, one of the medical officers in
General St. Clair's expedition, for, in a previous letter to Colonel
Abercromby, Hume mentions him as an officer in the royal
regiment.[307:2] He appears to have been a thorough Jacobite, for, in
another letter, Hume speaks of him as one of the extreme persons whom
his history will displease by its too great partiality to the Whigs. A
very pleasing and natural description of his character is given by Hume,
in a letter to Clephane, a little farther on.[308:1]

The following document was sent to Colonel Abercromby, along with the
explanatory letters which immediately follow it.

  To the Right Honourable the Lord Chief Justice Reason, and the
      Honourable the Judges Discretion, Prudence, Reserve, and
      Deliberation, the Petition of the Patients of Westminster,
      against James Fraser, Apothecary.

Most humbly showeth,

That your petitioners had put themselves and families under the
direction and care of the said James Fraser, and had so continued for
several years, to their great mutual benefit and emolument.

That many of your petitioners had, under his management, recovered from
the most desperate and deplorable maladies, such as megrims, toothaches,
cramps, stitches, vapours, crosses in love, &c. which wonderful success,
after the blessing of God, they can ascribe to nothing but his
consummate skill and capacity, since many of their neighbours, labouring
under the same distresses, died every day, by the mistakes of less
learned apothecaries.

That there are many disconsolate widows among your petitioners, who
believed themselves, and were believed by all their neighbours, to be
dying of grief; but as soon as the said James Fraser applied lenitives,
and proper topical medicines, they were observed to recover wonderfully.

That in all hypochondriacal cases he was sovereign, in so much that his
very presence dispelled the malady, cheering the sight, exciting a
gentle agitation of the muscles of the lungs and thorax, and thereby
promoting expectoration, exhilaration, circulation, and digestion.

That your petitioners verily believe, that not many more have died from
amongst them, under the administration of the said James Fraser, than
actually die by the course of nature in places where physic is not at
all known or practised; which will scarcely be credited in this
sceptical and unbelieving age.

That all this harmony and good agreement betwixt your petitioners and
the said James Fraser had lately been disturbed, to the great detriment
of your petitioners and their once numerous families.

That the said James Fraser, associating himself with ---- Carey,
surgeon, and William Guthrey, Esq. and other evil intentioned persons,
not having the fear of God before their eyes, had given himself entirely
up to the care of Dame PUBLIC, and had utterly neglected your

That the lady above mentioned was of a most admirable CONSTITUTION,
envied by all who had ever seen her or heard of her; and was only
afflicted sometimes with vapours, and sometimes with a looseness or
flux, which not being of the bloody kind, those about her were rather
pleased with it.

That notwithstanding this, the said James Fraser uses all diligence and
art to persuade the said lady that she is in the most desperate case
imaginable, and that nothing will recover her but a medicine he has
prepared, being a composition of _pulvis pyrius_,[310:1] along with a
decoction of northern steel, and an infusion of southern _aqua sacra_ or
holy water.

That the medicine, or rather poison, was at first wrapt up under a wafer
marked Patriotism, but had since been attempted to be administrated
without any cover or disguise.

That a dose of it had secretly been poured down the throat of the said
Dame Public, while she was asleep, and had been attended with the most
dismal symptoms, visibly heightening her vapours, and increasing her
flux, and even producing some symptoms of the bloody kind; and had she
not thrown it up with great violence, it had certainly proved fatal to

That the said James Fraser and his associates, now finding that the
_Catholicon_ does not agree with the constitution of the said Dame,
prescribed to her large doses of _Phillipiacum_, _Cottontium_,[310:2]
and _Vandeputiana_,[310:3] in order to alter her constitution, and
prepare her body for the reception of the said Catholicon.

That he had even been pleased to see Lovitium[310:4] applied to her,
though known to be a virulent caustic, and really no better than a
_lapis infernalis_.

That while the medicines Goveriacum and Trentuntium[311:1] were very
violent, resembling sublimate of _high flown_ mercury, he also much
approved of them, but since they were mollified by late operations, and
made as innocent as mercurius dulcis, they were become his utter

That the said James Fraser, through his whole practice on the said Dame
Public, entirely rejected all lenitives, soporifics, palliatives, &c.
though approved of by the regular and graduate physicians, as Dr.
Pelham, Dr. Fox, Dr. Pitt; and that he prescribed nothing but chemical
salts and stimulating medicines, in which regimen none but quacks and
empirics who had never taken their degrees will agree with him.

That your petitioners remember the story of an Irish servant to a
physician, which seems fitted to the present purpose. The doctor bid
Teague carry a potion to a patient, and tell him it was the most
innocent in the world, and if it did him no good, could do him no harm.
The footman obeys, but unluckily transposing a word, said, that if it
did him no harm it could do him no good. And your petitioners are much
afraid that the catholicon above mentioned is much of the same nature.

  May it therefore please your worships to discharge the said
      James Fraser from any farther attendance on the said Dame
      Public, and to order him to return to the care and inspection
      of your petitioners and their families.

The following is entitled, "True letter to Colonel Abercromby, to be
first read."

"DEAR COLONEL,--Endeavour to make Fraser believe I am in earnest. If
the thing takes, you may easily find somebody to personate Mr. Cockburn;
and you may swear to the truth of the whole. To make it more probable,
you may say that you suspect too much study has made me crazy; otherwise
I had never thought of so foolish a thing.

"If there be any probability of succeeding, an advertisement, like that
which is on the following page, may be put into any of the public
papers--that is, if you think _que le jeu vaut la chandelle_.

"My compliments to Mrs. Abercromby. I hope some day to regain her good
opinion. It shall be the great object of my ambition.

"Tell the Doctor I shall answer him sooner than he did me. He will
assist you very well in any cheat or roguery: but do not attempt it,
unless you think you can all be masters of your countenance. This is a
note, not a letter. Yours sincerely.

"P.S. Read Fraser the letter, but do not put it into his hands; he will
tear it. Show him first my other letter to you."

       *       *       *       *       *

"ADVERTISEMENT.--Speedily will be published, price 1s. A letter to a
certain turbulent Patriot in Westminster, from a friend in the country.

                       ----_Et_ spargere voces
     In vulgum ambiguas, et quærere conscius arma.--_Virgil._"

The following is the letter which, in pursuance of the arrangements for
completing this complicated joke, Colonel Abercromby was to read to
Fraser. Its tone of mock heroic will at once be detected, and indeed,
when the spilling of the last drop of blood, "or of ink," is with so
much simplicity made an alternative, it may be presumed that James
Fraser was a very obtuse being, if he believed these protestations to
be serious.

"DEAR SIR,--This will be delivered you by Mr. William Cockburn, a friend
of mine, who travels to London for the first time. I have taken the
opportunity to send up by him a manuscript, which I intend to have
printed. I have ordered him first to read it to you; but not to trust it
out of his hands. You can scarce be surprised that I treat Mr. Fraser so
roughly in it. No man, who loves his country, can be a friend to that
gentleman, considering his late as well as former behaviour. For if I be
rightly informed, his conduct shows no more the spirit of submission and
tranquillity than that of prudence and discretion; and if he goes on at
this rate, you yourself will be obliged to renounce all connexion and
friendship with him.

"I have been ill of late; and am very low at present from the loss of
blood which they have drawn from me. My friends would hinder me from
reading; but my books and my pen are my only comfort and occupation; and
while I am master of a drop of blood or of ink, I will joyfully spill it
in the cause of my country. I am, Dear Sir,

"Your most obedient humble servant."

"_Ninewells, Feb. 16th, 1751._"

In the following letter to Dr. Clephane, we find that the practical joke
on James Fraser, which seems to have given a good deal of employment to
the wits of a great philosopher, a learned physician, and a gallant
colonel, is still a matter which Hume has very much at heart; while at
the same time he seems to have been amusing himself with some other
jocular effusions. The letter presents us with his first commemoration
of the poetical genius of his friend, John Home, though it gives no
forecast of the zeal with which he subsequently advocated his
countryman's claims to originality and high genius. The dramatic critic
will probably feel an interest in the light thrown on Hume's
appreciation of Shakspere by the manner in which his name is connected
with that of Racine.


"_Ninewells, near Berwick, 18th February, 1751._

"DEAR DOCTOR,--I will not pay you so bad a compliment as to say I was
not angry with you for neglecting me so long; that would be to suppose I
was indifferent whether I had any share in your memory or friendship.
However, since there is nothing in it but the old vice of indolence,

     Non ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco.

Ed io anche sóno Pittore, as Correggio said; I am therefore resolved to
forgive you, and to keep myself in a proper disposition for saying the
Lord's prayer, whenever I shall find space enough for it.

"I must own I could not but think you excusable, even before you
disarmed me by your submission and penitence; 'tis so common an artifice
for provincials to hook on a correspondence with a Londoner, under
pretext of friendship and regard, that a jealousy on that head is very
pardonable in the latter. But I ought not to lie under that general
suspicion; for the fashionable songs I cannot sing; the present or the
expectant ministers I have no interest in; the old good books I have not
yet all read or pondered sufficiently; and the current stories and _bon
mots_, I would not repeat if I knew them. You see, therefore, that if I
were not concerned about Dr. Clephane, I never should desire to hear
from him, and consequently that a line of his would be equally
acceptable whether it comes from London or Crookhaven.

"I have executed your desire and the Colonel's as well as I could, but
have not, I believe, succeeded so well as last year: the subject,
indeed, was exhausted, and the patient may justly, I fear, be esteemed
incurable. I leave you to manage the matter as you best can: but I beg
of you to conduct it, so as not to make a quarrel betwixt Fraser and me;
he is an honest, good-humoured, friendly, pleasant fellow, (though, it
must be confessed, a little turbulent and impetuous,) and I should be
sorry to disoblige him. The Colonel would be heartily bit, if by this or
any other means Fraser should be cured of his politics and patriotism;
all his friends would lose a great deal of diversion, and certainly
would not like him near so well, if he were more cool and reasonable,
and moderate, and prudent. But these are vices he is in no manner of
danger of. Is it likely that reason will prevail against nature, habit,
company, education, and prejudice? I leave you to judge.

"But since I am in the humour of displaying my wit, I must tell you that
lately, at an idle hour, I wrote a sheet called the Bellman's Petition:
wherein (if I be not partial, which I certainly am,) there was some good
pleasantry and satire. The Printers in Edinburgh refused to print it, (a
good sign, you'll say, of _my_ prudence and discretion.) Mr. Mure, the
member, has a copy of it; ask it of him if you meet with him, or bid the
Colonel, who sees him every day at the house, ask it, and if you like it
read it to the General, and then return it. I will not boast, for I have
no manner of vanity; but when I think of the present dulness of London,
I cannot forbear exclaiming,

     Rome n'est pas dans Rome,
     C'est par tout où je suis.

A namesake of mine has wrote a Tragedy, which he expects to come on this
winter.[316:1] I have not seen it, but some people commend it much. 'Tis
very likely to meet with success, and not to deserve it, for the author
tells me, he is a great admirer of Shakspere, and never read Racine.

"When I take a second perusal of your letter, I find you resemble the
Papists, who deal much in penitence, but neglect extremely _les bonnes
oeuvres_. I asked you a question with regard to the plans of ancient
buildings in Dr. Mead's collection.[316:2] Pray, are they authentic
enough to be cited in a discourse of erudition and reasoning? have they
never been published in any collection? and what are the proper terms in
which I ought to cite them? I know you are a great proficient in the
_virtu_, and consequently can resolve my doubts. This word I suppose you
pretend to speak with an (e), which I own is an improvement: but
admitting your orthography, you must naturally have a desire of doing a
good-natured action, and instructing the ignorant.

"It appears to me that apothecaries bear the same relation to
physicians, that priests do to philosophers; the ignorance of the former
makes them positive, and dogmatical, and assuming, and enterprising, and
pretending, and consequently much more taking with the people. Follow my
example--let us not trouble ourselves about the matter; let the one
stuff the beasts' guts with antimony, and the other their heads with
divinity, what is that to us? according to the Greek proverb, they are
no more, but as ες την αμιδα ενουρουντες.

"You may tell me, indeed, that I mistake the matter quite; that it is
not your kindness for the people, which makes you concerned, but
something else. In short, that if self-interest were not in the case,
they might take clysters, and physic, and ipecacuanha, till they were
tired of them. Now, dear Doctor, this mercenary way of thinking I never
could have suspected you of, and am heartily ashamed to find you of such
a temper.

"If you answer this any time within the twelve months 'tis sufficient,
and I promise not to answer you next at less than six months' interval;
and so, as the Germans say, je me recomante a fos ponnes craces. Yours,

The "Bellman's Petition," more than once alluded to in Hume's letters,
is a little jeu d'esprit, to which he seems to have attributed far more
than its due importance. The clergy and schoolmasters of Scotland were
then appealing to the legislature for an increase of their incomes; and
in this production, Hume, in a sort of parody on the representation of
these reverend and learned bodies, shows that bell-ringers have the
same, or even greater claims on the liberality of the public. It is
perhaps a little too like the original, of which it professes to be a
parody; and though it has some wit, is deficient in the bitter ridicule,
which Swift would have thrown into such an effort. The following are
some passages:--

"That as your petitioners serve in the quality of grave-diggers, the
great use and necessity of their order, in every well regulated
commonwealth, has never yet been called in question by any reasoner; an
advantage they possess above their brethren the reverend clergy.

"That their usefulness is as extensive as it is great, for even those
who neglect religion or despise learning, must yet, some time or other,
stand in need of the good offices of this grave and venerable order.

"That it seems impossible the landed gentry can oppose the interest of
your petitioners; since, by securing so perfectly as they have hitherto
done, the persons of the fathers and elder brothers of the foresaid
gentry, your petitioners, next after the physicians, are the persons in
the world, to whom the present proprietors of land are the most

"That, as your petitioners are but half ecclesiastics, it may be
expected they will not be altogether unreasonable nor exorbitant in
their demands.

"That the present poverty of your petitioners in this kingdom is a
scandal to all religion; it being easy to prove, that a modern bellman
is not more richly endowed than a primitive apostle, and consequently
possesseth not the twentieth part of the revenues belonging to a
presbyterian clergyman.

"That whatever freedom the profane scoffers, and free thinkers of the
age, may use with our reverend brethren the clergy, the boldest of them
tremble when they think of us; and that a simple reflection on us has
reformed more lives than all the sermons in the world.

"That the instrumental music allotted to your petitioners, being the
only music of that kind left in our truly reformed churches, is a
necessary prelude to the vocal music of the schoolmaster and minister,
and is by many esteemed equally significant and melodious.

"That your petitioners trust the honourable house will not despise them
on account of the present meanness of their condition; for, having heard
a learned man say that the cardinals, who are now princes, were once
nothing but the parish curates of Rome, your petitioners, observing the
same laudable measures to be now prosecuted, despair not of being, one
day, on a level with the nobility and gentry of these realms."

The petition of which this is a specimen, is accompanied by a letter,
signed "Zerubabel Macgilchrist, Bellman of Buckhaven;" who kindly says
to the members of parliament he addresses, that the brother to whom is
allotted "the comfortable task of doing you the last service in our
power, shall do it so carefully, that you never shall find reason to
complain of him."[319:1]


[272:1] "By the author of The Essays Moral and Political," 8vo. Printed
for Andrew Millar. Hume's complaints about the obscurity of all his
books anterior to the "Political Discourses" and the History, seem to be
confirmed by the absence of this Edition in places where such books are
expected to be found. It is not in The Advocates' or The Signet
libraries in Edinburgh, nor is it to be found in the catalogues of the
British Museum or Bodleyan. Did I not possess the book, I might have
found it difficult to obtain an authenticated copy of the title-page. It
is not mentioned in Watt's Bibliotheca; but it will be found correctly
set forth in a German bibliographical work, infinitely superior to any
we possess in this country, but unfortunately not completed. Adelung's
Supplement to Jöchers Allgemeines Gelehrten Lexicon. It appears in the
_Gentleman's Magazine_, list of books for April.

[273:1] "A Free Inquiry into the miraculous powers, which are supposed
to have subsisted in the Christian Church, from the earliest ages
through several successive centuries," by Conyers Middleton, D.D.
London, 1748-1749, 4to.

It was encountered by a perfect hurricane of controversial tracts, which
fill all the book lists of the time.

[278:1] Inquiry concerning Human Understanding, sect. viii.

[283:1] This matter seems on another occasion to have passed under his
own view. In the "Dialogues concerning Natural Religion" he makes Philo
say, "Strong and almost incontestable proofs may be traced over the
whole earth, that every part of this globe has continued for many ages
entirely covered with water. And though order were supposed inseparable
from matter, and inherent in it, yet may matter be susceptible of many
and great revolutions through the endless periods of eternal duration."
That even Hume's argument makes allowance for miracles having some time
or other existed, and that it can only be urged against this or that
individual statement of an unnatural occurrence, is the weapon which
Campbell wields with chief effect in his admirable dissertation.

[284:1] "Let us try how his manner of argument on this point can be
applied to a particular instance. For this purpose I make the following
supposition. I have lived for some years near a ferry. It consists with
my knowledge that the passage boat has a thousand times crossed the
river, and as many times returned safe. An unknown man, whom I have just
now met, tells me in a serious manner that it is lost; and affirms, that
he himself, standing on the bank, was a spectator of the scene; that he
saw the passengers carried down the stream and the boat overwhelmed. No
person, who is influenced in his judgment of things, not by
philosophical subtleties, but by common sense, a much surer guide, will
hesitate to declare, that in such a testimony I have probable evidence
of the fact asserted."--Dissertation on Miracles, 46-47.

[285:1] Perhaps the earliest in date of these is, "An Essay on Mr.
Hume's Essay on Miracles," by William Adams, M.A. chaplain to the Bishop
of Llandaff, 1751.

[285:2] Warburton says to Hurd, on 28th September, 1749,--"I am strongly
tempted to have a stroke at Hume in passing. He is the author of a
little book called 'Philosophical Essays;' in one part of which he
argues against the being of a God, and in another (very needlessly you
will say,) against the possibility of miracles. He has crowned the
liberty of the press: and yet he has a considerable post under the
government. I have a great mind to do justice on his arguments against
miracles, which I think might be done in a few words. But does he
deserve notice? Is he known among you? Pray answer these questions. For
if his own weight keeps him down, I should be sorry to contribute to his
advancement to any place but the pillory." Letters from a late Rev.
prelate to one of his friends, 1808, p. 11.

[286:1] Sect. iii.

[287:1] Preliminary Dissertation, Note T.

[287:2] "Quandoque remeniscitur aliquis incipiens ab aliqua re, cujus
memoratur, a quâ procedit ad alium triplici ratione. Quandoque quidem
ratione similitudinis, sicut quando aliquis memoratur de Socrate, et per
hoc, occurrit ei Plato, qui est similis ei in sapientia; quandoque vero
ratione contrarietatis, sicut si aliquis memoretur Hectoris, et per hoc
occurrit ei Achilles. Quandoque vero ratione propinquitatis cujuscunque,
sicut cum aliquis memor est patris, et per hoc occurrit ei filius. Et
eadem ratio est de quacunque alia propinquitate, vel societatis, vel
loci, vel temporis, et propter hoc fit reminiscentia quia motus horum se
invicem consequuntur."--_Aquinatis Comment. in Aristot. de Memoria et
Remeniscentia_; _edit. Paris_, 1660, p. 64. The scope of Aquinas'
remarks have more reference to mnemonics or artificial memory than to
association. They explain how a man, remembering what he did yesterday,
may pass to the remembrance of what he did the day before, &c.

[288:1] See Dr. Brown's commentary on the history of theories of
association, in his thirty-fourth Lecture. Sir William Hamilton, the
highest living authority on these subjects, while he thinks that
Aristotle has not got justice for the extent to which he has anticipated
Hume and others in relation to this matter, does not think there is the
slightest ground for the charge of plagiarism, and observes to me that
Coleridge's own remarks on association are merely an adaptation from the
German of Maas.

[289:1] 8vo, printed for A. Millar. It is in the _Gentleman's Magazine_
list for November.

[289:2] See p. 136.

[290:1] _Babylonii maxime in vinum, et quæ ebrietatem sequuntur, effusi
sunt._ Quint. Cur. lib. v. cap. 1.

[290:2] Plut. Symp. lib. i. quæst. 4.

[291:1] From the circumstances to be immediately stated regarding this
event, it seems to have taken place while Hume was on his way back from
Turin. In a search in _The Scots Magazine_, and other quarters where one
might expect to find mention of the decease of a person in the rank of
the lady of Ninewells, I have not been able to ascertain the precise

[293:1] Quarterly Review, xvi. 279.

[294:1] There is a traditional anecdote, to the effect that Mrs. Hume,
expressing her opinion of her son David and his accomplishments, said,
"Our Davie's a fine good-natured crater, but uncommon wake-minded." I
have heard this adduced as a proof of the philosopher's gentle, passive
nature, and the effect it had in stamping an impression of his character
on one not capable of appreciating his genius. But the anecdote is not
characteristic of either party, and arises out of the common mistake
that Hume was all his life tame, phlegmatic, and unimpassioned. However
much he had tutored himself to stoicism, and had succeeded in conquering
the outward demonstrations of strong feelings, it will be seen in
various documents quoted in these volumes, and in the incidents
narrated, that he was a man of strong impulses, full of blood and nerve,
and that, as in a high-mettled horse, his energies were regulated, not
extinguished. No one who had the training of his youth could have
escaped observing in him the workings of strong aspirations, and of a
hardy resolute temper.

But Mrs. Hume was evidently an accomplished woman, worthy of the
sympathy and respect of her distinguished son, and could not have failed
to see and to appreciate from its earliest dawnings the originality and
power of his intellect. Her portrait, which I have seen, represents a
thin but pleasing countenance, expressive of great intellectual
acuteness. Some verses, which a lady, who is her direct descendant,
authenticates as being in her handwriting, are in the curious collection
of autographs and illustrated portraits, in the possession of Mr. W. F.
Watson, Prince's Street, Edinburgh. It has been supposed that they are
the composition of David Hume himself; but the use of the Scottish
language almost amounts to evidence against that supposition: he would
as readily have walked the streets of Edinburgh in a kilt. The lines are
called "Song.--Air, Mary's Dream," and begin--

     What now avails the flowery dream,
       That animates my youthful mind,
     My Mary's vows are all a whim,
       Her plighted troth as light as wind.

     O Mary, dearer than the day
       That cheers the nighted wanderer's ee,
     Through ance-loved scenes I lonely stray,
       But lovely Mary's far frae me.

     What now avails the beachen grove,
       Or willow in its cloak o' gray,
     Those scenes 'twas sacred ance to love,
       Now fills my heart in grief and wae.

     O Mary, &c.

Perhaps this may be as good an opportunity as any other for the
insertion of some lines, carefully preserved in the MSS. R.S.E., which
are at least so far to the present purpose, that they give a pleasing
idea of the social circle at Ninewells. They are addressed to a lady who
had lived to see her grandchildren; which does not appear to have been
the case with the mother of the historian, as her eldest son was not
married till 1751. A dowager of an elder generation may have lived for
some time at Ninewells during David Hume's youth, though he does not
mention her: or there may have been some collateral member of the
family, to whom the lines may have been addressed; for, in a series of
extracts which I have obtained from the Kirk Session Records of
Chirnside, I find that a David Home _in_ Ninewells, who cannot have been
a lineal ancestor of the philosopher, had a numerous family baptized
between 1691 and 1701. The lines are entitled "Miss A. B. to Mrs. H. by
her Black Boy;" and however the genealogical questions, we have just
been considering, may stand, their intrinsic merit, as embodying a
beautiful and humane sentiment, entitle them to notice.--Query, is it to
this alone, or to some extrinsic interest attached to Miss A. B. that we
are to attribute the careful preservation of the lines by Hume?

     Condemn'd in infancy a slave to roam,
     Far far from India's shore, my native home,
     To serve a Caledonian maid I come--
     In me no father does his darling mourn--
     No mother weeps me from her bosom torn--
     Both grew to dust, they say to earth below;
     But who those were, alas, I ne'er shall know.
     Lady, to thee her love my mistress sends,
     And bids thy grandsons be Ferdnando's friends.
     Bids thee suppose, on Afric's distant coast,
     One of those lily-coloured favourites lost;
     Doom'd in the train of some proud dame to wait,
     A slave, as she should will, for use or state.
     If to the boy you'd wish her to be kind,
     Such grace from you let Ferdinando find.

[296:1] Hom. Il. λ. 515. A medical man is equal in value to many other
men. Or, as Pope has it,

     A wise physician, skill'd our wounds to heal,
     Is more than armies to the public weal.


                   ----ubi non et multa supersunt,
     Et dominum fallunt, et prosunt furibus.

                                       Hor. epist. i. 6, 45.

[298:1] See this passage nearly verbatim in the "Essay on the
Populousness of Ancient Nations," (Works, edit. 1826, p. 483.) Much
light has of course been subsequently thrown on this matter by the
investigations in Pompeii, and other places.

[298:2] London was kept in much excitement, during the year 1750, by
repeated shocks of earthquake. Horace Walpole says, on 11th March, "In
the night between Wednesday and Thursday last, (exactly a month since
the first shock,) the earth had a shivering fit between one and two; but
so slight that, if no more had followed, I don't believe it would have
been noticed. I had been awake, and had scarce dosed again. On a sudden
I felt my bolster lift up my head: I thought somebody was getting from
under my bed, but soon found it was a strong earthquake, that lasted
near half a minute, with a violent vibration and great roaring. I rang
my bell; my servant came in, frightened out of his senses. In an instant
we heard all the windows in the neighbourhood flung up. I got up, and
found people running into the streets; but saw no mischief done. There
has been some: two old houses flung down, several chimneys, and much
china ware."--Letters to Sir H. Man, ii. 349.

"Dick Leveson and Mr. Rigby, who had supped and staid late at Bedford
House, the other night, knocked at several doors, and in a watchman's
voice cried, 'Past four o'clock, and a dreadful earthquake.'"--Ib. 354.

[299:1] "There has been a shower of sermons and exhortations. Secker,
the jesuitical Bishop of Oxford, begun the mode. He heard the women were
all going out of town to avoid the next shock: and so, for fear of
losing his Easter offerings, he set himself to advise them to wait God's
good pleasure, in fear and trembling. But, what is more astonishing,
Sherlock, [Bishop of London,] who has much better sense, and much less
of the popish confessor, has been running a race with him for the old
ladies, and has written a Pastoral Letter, of which ten thousand were
sold in two days, and fifty thousand have been subscribed for since the
two first editions."--Ib. 353.

[300:1] A second edition of the "Essays concerning Human Understanding,"
was published by Millar in 1751, with the author's name. One of these
essays, which, in the first edition, had the title, "Of the Practical
Consequences of Natural Religion," but, in the second, received a much
less appropriate title, and one likely to make its tenor, as applicable
to the reasonings of philosophers anterior to Christianity, be
misunderstood. It was called, "Of a Particular Providence, and Future

[300:2] Colonel Abercromby. See above, p. 222.

[300:3] Colonel Edmonstoune.

[301:1] Probably "The Bellman's Petition," mentioned p. 317.

[301:2] From the original at Kilravock.

[304:1] Memorials of Oswald, p. 65.

[304:2] Two vols. 8vo, Hamilton and Balfour. The productions of the
Scottish press, in the middle period of last century, deserve to be
looked back upon with respect; and the excellence of its matter at that
time, will go far to balance its present fertility. It was not only as a
vehicle of native genius, that it was respectable. Besides the eminent
editions of the classics by the Ruddimans and the Foulises, it supplied
handsome editions of celebrated foreign works; a sure indication that it
was surrounded by a large class of well educated readers.

[306:1] The following placard is, in the circumstances, a master-stroke
in its simplicity and ingenuity.


     "MESSIEURS,--Vos suffrages et interêts sont desirés pour Le
     Très Hon. mi Lord TRENTHAM, un VÉRITABLE Anglois.

     "N. B.--L'on prie ses Amis de ses rendre a l'hôtel François
     dans le Marché au Foin."

The following acrostic is a specimen of the poetic lucubrations of the
Vandeput party:--

     "T ruant to thy promis'd trust;
      R ebel daring where thou durst,
      E ager to promote French strollers,
      N one but poltroons are thy pollers.

      T ribes of nose-led clerks and placemen,
      H ackney voters, (bribes disgrace men,)
      A ll forswear, through thick and thin,
      M eanness theirs, but thine the sin."

This election gave birth to some incidents apparently trifling, which
yet make a material figure in British history, from their connexion
with the vindication of the privileges of the House of Commons. The
Honourable Alexander Murray, brother of Lord Elibank, a gentleman who
will probably be again called up in a future part of these pages, was
charged along with Mr. Crowle, an attorney, and another person, with the
use of "threatening and affronting expressions," by the high bailiff.
They were brought before the bar of the House, and after some discussion
and inquiry, Crowle confessed, was submissive, received the usual
reprimand on his knees, and wiped them when he rose, saying, it was "the
dirtiest house he had ever been in." Murray denied the charge, and
resisted the House, "smiled," as Walpole says, "when he was taxed with
having called Lord Trentham and the high bailiff, rascals," and,
finally, refused to kneel, saying, "Sir, I beg to be excused, I never
kneel but to God." Then followed imprisonment, and embarrassing
questions about the prisoner's health, which, sinking under his
self-inflicted imprisonment, reproached those who could not turn back on
the course they had taken; the whole being rendered more complex by the
difficulty of finding a guiding rule in the precedents of the House,
until parliament was adjourned; and he left Newgate in a triumphant
procession, proclaiming the device of "Murray and Liberty."

[307:1] Viz. in a volume of broadsides and other documents, in the
possession of James Maidment, Esq. of which the pieces in the preceding
note are specimens. To show how such inquiries are beset by tantalizing
coincidences, there are two James Frasers mentioned on the Trentham
side, one of them having after his name on a printed list of voters, the
significant MS. notandum, "Don't pay."

[307:2] P. 223.

[308:1] A gentleman of the same name connected with the Lovat family,
was for some time an apothecary in London, where he lived "the life of a
genuine London bachelor;" he was a keen Jacobite, and died about 1760.
_Note communicated by Captain Fraser, Knockie_, who also mentions
another James Fraser, who was commissioner of the navy during the
revolutionary war, and settled in London in 1781; but this appears to
have been a person of a later generation than Hume's friend.

[310:1] Gunpowder.

[310:2] In allusion, probably, to Sir John Hynd Cotton.

[310:3] In allusion to Sir George Vandeput.

[310:4] In allusion, probably, to Fraser's own family.

[311:1] Earl Gower, and his son Lord Trentham.

[316:1] Probably "Agis," which appears to have been written before

[316:2] See above, p. 298.

[319:1] Printed sheet in the possession of James Maidment, Esq. "The
Bellman's Petition," has been reprinted in a curious collection of
scraps, called "A Scots Haggis," the editor of which does not however
appear to have known that Hume was the author of this piece.


1751-1752. ÆT. 40-41.

     Sir Gilbert Elliot--Hume's intimacy with him--Their
     Philosophical Correspondence--Dialogues on Natural Religion--
     Residence in Edinburgh--Jack's Land--Publication of the
     "Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals"--The Utilitarian
     Theory--Attempt to obtain the Chair of Moral Philosophy in
     Glasgow--Competition with Burke--Publication of the "Political
     Discourses"--The foundation of Political Economy--French

Foremost in that body of accomplished gentlemen, whose friendship and
companionship afforded to Hume so much pleasure and instruction, was
Mr. afterwards Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto. A small portion of the
letters, of which their correspondence consists, has already been
embodied in philosophical literature;[320:1] and I have now, through the
favour of the noble descendant of the person to whom they were
addressed, an opportunity of presenting the reader with all those
portions of Hume's letters to Sir Gilbert Elliot, now existing, which
have any claim on public attention, whether as containing valuable
philosophical speculations, or throwing light on the social habits and
intercourse of the two distinguished correspondents.[320:2]

Sir Gilbert Elliot was the third baronet of the family of Minto, who
bore the same Christian name.[320:3] He joined the Scottish bar, though
he does not seem to have sought professional practice.

He was, for a considerable period, a member of Parliament, and among
other offices held that of treasurer of the navy.[321:1] In lighter
literature he is known as the author of some pretty pieces of poetry,
among which, the popular song of "My Sheep I neglected," is well
esteemed by the admirers of pastoral lyrics. His acquirements as a
scholar and philosopher are amply attested by his correspondence with

HUME _to_ GILBERT ELLIOT _of Minto_.

"_Ninewells, near Berwick, 10th February, 1751._

"DEAR SIR,--About six weeks ago, I gave our friend, Jack Stuart, the
trouble of delivering you a letter, and some papers enclosed, which I
was desirous to submit to your criticism and examination. I say not this
by way of compliment and ceremonial, but seriously and in good earnest:
it is pretty usual for people to be pleased with their own performance,
especially in the heat of composition; but I have scarcely wrote any
thing more whimsical, or whose merit I am more diffident of.

"But, in sending in these papers, I am afraid that I have not taken the
best step towards conveying them to your hand. I should also have wrote
you to ask for them, otherwise, perhaps, our friend may wear them out in
his pocket, and forget the delivery of them: be so good, therefore, as
to desire them from him, and having read them at your leisure, return
them to him in a packet, and he will send them to me by the carrier. You
would easily observe what I mentioned to you, that they had a reference
to some other work, and were not complete in themselves: but, with this
allowance, are they tolerable?"[322:1]

The paper to which the following letter refers, was published as an
appendix to the "Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals," to be
shortly noticed, and was simply termed, "A Dialogue." It is, perhaps,
more imaginative than any other of Hume's works, "The Epicurean" not
excepted. It draws startling contrasts, by taking from ancient and
modern times, two communities of men strikingly opposed to each other in
habits, and describing those of the one in the social language of the
other. In this manner, it gives an account of the vices of the Greeks,
in the manner in which they would be described by a modern fashionable
Englishman, seeking pleasure and companionship in Greece, as it was in
the days of Alcibiades. This method of exhibiting national manners
through the magnifying glass of national prejudices, has, in later
times, been frequently adopted,[322:2] and, perhaps, owes its popularity
to the success with which it was exhibited in Montesquieu's "Lettres
Persanes," and Goldsmith's "Citizen of the World."


     _February, 1751._

     DEAR SIR,--I have read over your Dialogue, with all the
     application I am master of. Though I have never looked into
     any thing of your writing, which did not either entertain or
     instruct me; yet, I must freely own to you, that I have
     received from this last piece an additional satisfaction, and
     what indeed I have a thousand times wished for in some of your
     other performances. In the first part of this work, you have
     given full scope to the native bent of your genius. The
     ancients and moderns, how opposite soever in other respects,
     equally combine in favour of the most unbounded scepticism.
     Principles, customs, and manners, the most contradictory, all
     seemingly lead to the same end; and agreeably to your laudable
     practice, the poor reader is left in the most disconsolate
     state of doubt and uncertainty. When I had got thus far, what
     do you think were my sentiments? I will not be so candid as to
     tell you; but how agreeable was my surprise, when I found you
     had led me into this maze, with no other view, than to point
     out to me more clearly the direct road. Why can't you always
     write in this manner? Indulge yourself as much as you will in
     starting difficulties, and perplexing received opinions: but
     let us be convinced at length, that you have not less ability
     to establish true principles, than subtlety to detect false
     ones. This unphilosophical, or, if you will, this lazy
     disposition of mine, you are at liberty to treat as you think
     proper; yet am I no enemy to free inquiry, and I would gladly
     flatter myself, no slave to prejudice or authority. I admit
     also that there is no writing or talking of any subject that
     is of importance enough to become the object of reasoning,
     without having recourse to some degree of subtlety or
     refinement. The only question is, where to stop,--how far we
     can go, and why no farther. To this question I should be
     extremely happy to receive a satisfactory answer. I can't tell
     if I shall rightly express what I have just now in my mind:
     but I often imagine to myself, that I perceive within me a
     certain instinctive feeling, which shoves away at once all
     subtle refinements, and tells me with authority, that these
     air-built notions are inconsistent with life and experience,
     and, by consequence cannot be true or solid. From this I am
     led to think, that the speculative principles of our nature
     ought to go hand in hand with the practical ones; and, for my
     own part, when the former are so far pushed, as to leave the
     latter quite out of sight, I am always apt to suspect that we
     have transgressed our limits. If it should be asked--how far
     will these practical principles go? I can only answer, that
     the former difficulty will recur, unless it be found that
     there is something in the intellectual part of our nature,
     resembling the moral sentiment in the moral part of our
     nature, which determines this, as it were, instinctively. Very
     possibly I have wrote nonsense. However, this notion first
     occurred to me at London, in conversation with a man of some
     depth of thinking; and talking of it since to your friend H.
     Home, he seems to entertain some notions nearly of the same
     kind, and to have pushed them much farther.

     This is but an idle digression, so I return to the Dialogue.

     With regard to the composition in general, I have nothing to
     observe, as it appears to me to be conducted with the greatest
     propriety, and the artifice in the beginning occasions, I
     think, a very agreeable surprise. I don't know, if, in the
     account of the modern manners, you [had] an eye to Bruyere's
     introduction to his translation of Theophrastes.[324:1] If you
     had not, as he has a thought handled pretty much in that
     manner, perhaps looking into it might furnish some farther
     hints to embellish that part of your work.[324:2]

HUME _to_ GILBERT ELLIOT _of Minto_.

"_Ninewells, 19th February, 1751._

"DEAR SIR,--Your notion of correcting subtlety of sentiment, is
certainly very just with regard to morals, which depend upon sentiment;
and in politics and natural philosophy, whatever conclusion is contrary
to certain matters of fact, must certainly be wrong, and there must
some error lie somewhere in the argument, whether we be able to show it
or not. But in metaphysics or theology, I cannot see how either of these
plain and obvious standards of truth can have place. Nothing there can
correct bad reasoning but good reasoning, and sophistry must be opposed
by syllogisms. About seventy or eighty years ago, I observe, a principle
like that which you advance prevailed very much in France among some
philosophers and _beaux esprits_. The occasion of it was this: The
famous Mons. Nicole of the Port Royal, in his _Perpétuité de la
Foi_,[325:1] pushed the Protestants very hard upon the impossibility of
the people's reaching a conviction of their religion by the way of
private judgment; which required so many disquisitions, reasonings,
researches, eruditions, impartiality, and penetration, as not one in a
hundred even among men of education, is capable of. Mons. Claude and the
Protestants answered him, not by solving his difficulties, (which seems
impossible,) but by retorting them, (which is very easy.) They showed
that to reach the way of authority which the Catholics insist on, as
long a train of acute reasoning, and as great erudition, was requisite,
as would be sufficient for a Protestant. We must first prove all the
truths of natural religion, the foundation of morals, the divine
authority of the Scripture, the deference which it commands to the
church, the tradition of the church, &c. The comparison of these
controversial writings begot an idea in some, that it was neither by
reasoning nor authority we learn our religion, but by sentiment: and
certainly this were a very convenient way, and what a philosopher would
be very well pleased to comply with, if he could distinguish sentiment
from education. But to all appearance the sentiment of Stockholm,
Geneva, Rome ancient and modern, Athens and Memphis, have the same
characters; and no sensible man can implicitly assent to any of them,
but from the general principle, that as the truth in these subjects is
beyond human capacity, and that as for one's own ease he must adopt some
tenets, there is most satisfaction and convenience in holding to the
Catholicism we have been first taught. Now this I have nothing to say
against. I have only to observe, that such a conduct is founded on the
most universal and determined scepticism, joined to a little indolence;
for more curiosity and research gives a direct opposite turn from the
same principles.

"I have amused myself lately with an essay or dissertation on the
populousness of antiquity, which led me into many disquisitions
concerning both the public and domestic life of the ancients. Having
read over almost all the classics both Greek and Latin, since I formed
that plan, I have extracted what served most to my purpose. But I have
not a Strabo, and know not where to get one in this neighbourhood. He is
an author I never read. I know your library--I mean the Advocates'--is
scrupulous of lending classics; but perhaps that difficulty may be got
over. I should be much obliged to you, if you could procure me the loan
of a copy, either in the original language or even in a good

"The Greeks had military dances, particularly the Pyrrhicha; but these
were not practised in their festivals nor amidst their jollity. Their
way of dancing was very good for an indolent fellow; for commonly they
rose not from their seats, but moved their arms and head in cadence.
'Tis difficult to imagine there could be much grace in that kind of

"I send you enclosed a little endeavour at drollery, against some people
who care not much to be joked upon.[327:1] I have frequently had it in
my intentions to write a supplement to Gulliver, containing the ridicule
of priests. 'Twas certainly a pity that Swift was a parson; had he been
a lawyer or physician, we had nevertheless been entertained at the
expense of these professions: but priests are so jealous, that they
cannot bear to be touched on that head, and for a plain reason, because
they are conscious they are really ridiculous. That part of the Doctor's
subject is so fertile, that a much inferior genius I am confident might
succeed in it.

"Tell Jack Stuart, as soon as you see him, that I have sent you the
copy, if he can make any thing of it. I intended to have had it printed,
but I know not how--I find it will not do. If you like the thing, I wish
you would contrive together some way of getting over the difficulties
that have arisen, the most strangely in the world. I am, &c."[327:2]

Among the papers submitted to the inspection of Mr. Elliot, were the
"Dialogues concerning Natural Religion," which were not published until
after their author's death, but which the following letter shows to have
been written before the year 1751. The manuscript of this work[328:1] is
full of emendations and corrections; and while the sentiments appear to
be substantially the same as when they were first set down, the
alterations in the method of announcing them are a register of the
improvements in their author's style, for a period apparently of
twenty-seven years. Here at least he could not plead the excuse of youth
and indiscretion. The work, penned in the full vigour of his faculties,
comes to us with the sanction of his mature years, and his approval when
he was within sight of the grave. Whatever sentiments, therefore, in
this work, may be justly found to excite censure, carry with them a
reproach from which their author's name cannot escape.

The Dialogues are written with a solemn simplicity of tone worthy of the
character of the subject. The structure is in a great measure that of
Cicero, though there appears not, as there generally does in the
conversations professed to be recorded by the Roman moralist, any one
mind completely predominating over the others. Of the interlocutors,
Philo presents himself, at first as a materialist of the Spinoza school,
who finds that the material world has within itself the principles of
its own motion and development--the operating causes that produce its
phenomena; while he denies that these phenomena exhibit an all perfect
structure. He is not, however, a man of settled opinions, but rather a
sceptical demolisher of other people's views; and we find him saying, "I
must confess that I am less cautious on the subject of natural religion
than on any other; both because I know that I can never, on that head,
corrupt the principles of any man of common sense; and because no one, I
am confident, in whose eyes I appear a man of common sense, will ever
mistake my intentions. You in particular, Cleanthes, with whom I live in
unreserved intimacy, you are sensible, that notwithstanding the freedom
of my conversation, and my love of singular arguments, no one has a
deeper sense of religion impressed on his mind, or pays more profound
adoration to the Divine Being, as he discovers himself to reason, in the
inexplicable contrivance and artifice of nature."

Cleanthes, another speaker, has created a natural religion of his own--a
system of Theism, in which, by induction from the beautiful order and
mechanism of the world, he has reasoned himself into the belief of an
all-wise and all-powerful Supreme Being. He holds, that "the most
agreeable reflection which it is possible for human imagination to
suggest, is that of genuine Theism, which represents us as the
workmanship of a being perfectly good, wise, and powerful, who created
us for happiness; and who, having implanted in us immeasurable desires
of good, will prolong our existence to all eternity, and will transfer
us into an infinite variety of scenes, in order to satisfy those
desires, and render our felicity complete and durable." And, strangely
enough, it is with this one that the author shows most sympathy, very
nearly professing that the doctrine announced by Cleanthes is his own;
while it will be found in his correspondence, that he admits his having
designedly endeavoured to make the argument of that speaker the most
attractive. This is another illustration of the inapplicability of
perfectly abstract metaphysical disquisitions to religious faith; for,
if there is any system of religion that is incompatible with Hume's
metaphysical opinions on ideas and impressions, it is a system that is,
like this of Cleanthes, the workmanship of human reason. The third
speaker, Demea, is a devoutly religious man, who, not venturing to
create a system of belief for himself, sees in the order of the world
such a merciful and wise dispensation of Divine Providence, as induces
him to receive the whole revealed scheme of religion without questioning
those parts of it which are beyond his comprehension, any more than he
questions those of which the wisdom and goodness are immediately

The general scope and purport of the Dialogues are not unlike those of
Voltaire's Jenni. In both, the argument on natural theology,
illustrating the existence of a ruling mind from the general order and
harmony of created things, is adduced, and is measured with its
counterpart, the argument from the imperfection of earthly things, and
the calamities and unhappiness of the beings standing at the head of the
whole social order, mankind. But in the mere similarity of the argument
the resemblance stops; no two performances can be more unlike each other
in tone and spirit than the English sceptic's honest search after truth,
and the French infidel's ribald sport with all that men love and revere.
The contrast may be found not only in these individual men, but in the
two classes of thinkers at the head of which they respectively stood.
Hume represented the cautious conscientious inquiry, which has
established many truths and gradually ameliorated social evils; the
Frenchman directed that scornful, careless, and cruel sport with
whatever is dear and important to humanity, which one day bowed to
absolute despotism, and the next destroyed the whole fabric of social

HUME _to_ GILBERT ELLIOT _of Minto_.

"_Ninewells, near Berwick, March 10, 1751._

"DEAR SIR,--You would perceive by the sample I have given you, that I
make Cleanthes the hero of the dialogue: whatever you can think of, to
strengthen that side of the argument, will be most acceptable to me.
Any propensity you imagine I have to the other side, crept in upon me
against my will; and 'tis not long ago that I burned an old manuscript
book, wrote before I was twenty, which contained, page after page, the
gradual progress of my thoughts on that head. It began with an anxious
search after arguments, to confirm the common opinion; doubts stole in,
dissipated, returned; were again dissipated, returned again; and it was
a perpetual struggle of a restless imagination against inclination,
perhaps against reason.

"I have often thought, that the best way of composing a dialogue, would
be for two persons that are of different opinions about any question of
importance, to write alternately the different parts of the discourse,
and reply to each other: by this means, that vulgar error would be
avoided, of putting nothing but nonsense into the mouth of the
adversary; and at the same time, a variety of character and genius being
upheld, would make the whole look more natural and unaffected. Had it
been my good fortune to live near you, I should have taken on me the
character of Philo, in the dialogue, which you'll own I could have
supported naturally enough; and you would not have been averse to that
of Cleanthes. I believe, too, we could both of us have kept our tempers
very well; only, you have not reached an absolute philosophical
indifference on these points. What danger can ever come from ingenious
reasoning and inquiry? The worst speculative sceptic ever I knew, was a
much better man than the best superstitious devotee and bigot. I must
inform you, too, that this was the way of thinking of the ancients on
this subject. If a man made a profession of philosophy, whatever his
sect was, they always expected to find more regularity in his life and
manners, than in those of the ignorant and illiterate. There is a
remarkable passage of Appian to this purpose. That historian observes,
that notwithstanding the established prepossession in favour of
learning, yet some philosophers, who have been trusted with absolute
power, have very much abused it; and he instances Critias, the most
violent of the thirty, and Ariston, who governed Athens in the time of
Sylla: but I find, upon inquiry, that Critias was a professed Atheist,
and Ariston an Epicurean, which is little or nothing different. And yet
Appian wonders at their corruption, as much as if they had been Stoics
or Platonists. A modern zealot would have thought that corruption

"I could wish Cleanthes' argument could be so analyzed, as to be
rendered quite formal and regular. The propensity of the mind towards
it,--unless that propensity were as strong and universal as that to
believe in our senses and experience,--will still, I am afraid, be
esteemed a suspicious foundation. 'Tis here I wish for your assistance;
we must endeavour to prove that this propensity is somewhat different
from our inclination to find our own figures in the clouds, our faces in
the moon, our passions and sentiments even in inanimate matter. Such an
inclination may, and ought to be controlled, and can never be a
legitimate ground of assent.

"The instances I have chosen for Cleanthes are, I hope, tolerably happy,
and the confusion in which I represent the sceptic seems natural,
but--si quid novisti rectius, &c.

"You ask me, '_If the idea of cause and effect is nothing but
vicinity_,' (you should have said constant vicinity, or, regular
conjunction,) I should be glad to know _whence is that farther idea of
causation against which you argue_? This question is pertinent, but I
hope I have answered it; we feel, after the constant conjunction, an
easy transition from one idea to the other, or a connexion in the
imagination; and as it is usual for us to transfer our own feelings to
the objects on which they are dependent, we attach the internal
sentiment to the external objects. If no single instances of cause and
effect appear to have any connexion, but only repeated similar ones, you
will find yourself obliged to have recourse to this theory.

"I am sorry our correspondence should lead us into these abstract
speculations. I have thought, and read, and composed very little on such
questions of late. Morals, Politics, and Literature have employed all my
time; but still the other topics I must think more curious, important,
entertaining, and useful, than any geometry that is deeper than Euclid.
If in order to answer the doubts started, new principles of philosophy
must be laid, are not these doubts themselves very useful? Are they not
preferable to blind, and ignorant assent? I hope I can answer my own
doubts; but if I could not, is it to be wondered at? To give myself
airs, and speak magnificently, might I not observe, that Columbus did
not conquer empires and plant colonies?

"If I have not unravelled the knot so well, in those last papers I sent
you, as perhaps I did in the former, it has not, I assure you, proceeded
from want of good will; but some subjects are easier than others: at
some times one is happier in his researches and inquiries than at
others. Still I have recourse to the _si quid novisti rectius_; not in
order to pay you a compliment, but from a real philosophical doubt and

"I do not pay compliments, because I do not desire them. For this
reason, I am very well pleased you speak so coldly of my petition. I
had, however, given orders to have it printed, which perhaps may be
executed, though I believe I had better have let it alone; not because
it will give you offence, but because it will give no entertainment; not
because it may be called profane, but because it may perhaps be
deservedly called dull. To tell the truth, I was always so indifferent
about fortune, and especially now, that I am more advanced in life, and
am a little more at my ease, suited to my extreme frugality, that I
neither fear nor hope any thing from man; and am very indifferent either
about offence or favour. Not only, I would not sacrifice truth and
reason to political views, but scarce even a jest. You may tell me, I
ought to have reversed the order of these points, and put the jest
first: as it is usual for people to be the fondest of their performances
on subjects on which they are least made to excel, and that,
consequently, I would give more to be thought a good droll, than to have
the praises of erudition, and subtilty, and invention.--This malicious
insinuation, I will give no answer to, but proceed with my subject.

"I find, however, I have no more to say on it, but to thank you for
_Strabo_. If the carrier who will deliver this to you do not find you at
home, you will please send the book to his quarters; his name is Thomas
Henderson, the Berwick carrier; he leaves town on the Thursdays, about
the middle of the day; he puts up at James Henderson, stabler, betwixt
the foot of Cant's Close and Blackfriar's Wynd. After you have done with
these papers, please return them by the same carrier; but there is no
hurry; on the contrary the longer you keep them, I shall still believe
you are thinking the more seriously to execute what I desire of you. I
am, dear Sir,

"Yours most sincerely."

"P.S.--If you'll be persuaded to assist me with Cleanthes, I fancy you
need not take matters any higher than part 3d. He allows, indeed, in
part 2d, that all our inference is founded on the similitude of the
works of nature to the usual effects of mind, otherwise they must appear
a mere chaos. The only difficulty is, why the other assimilations do not
weaken the argument; and indeed it would seem from experience and
feeling, that they do not weaken it so much as we might naturally
expect. A theory to solve this would be very acceptable."[336:1]

HUME _to_ GILBERT ELLIOT _of Minto_.


"DEAR SIR,--I am sorry your keeping these papers has proceeded from
business and avocations, and not from your endeavours to clear up so
difficult an argument. I despair not, however, of getting some
assistance from you; the subject is surely of the greatest importance,
and the views of it so new as to challenge some attention.

"I believe the Philosophical Essays contain every thing of consequence
relating to the understanding, which you would meet with in the
Treatise; and I give you my advice against reading the latter. By
shortening and simplifying the questions, I really render them much more
complete. _Addo dum minuo._ The philosophical principles are the same in
both; but I was carried away by the heat of youth and invention to
publish too precipitately.--So vast an undertaking, planned before I was
one-and-twenty, and composed before twenty-five, must necessarily be
very defective. I have repented my haste a hundred, and a hundred times.

"I return Strabo, whom I have found very judicious and useful. I give
you a great many thanks for your trouble. I am," &c.

Hume's elder brother, John, the laird of Ninewells, was married in 1751;
and the following letter, enlivened by touches of light and even elegant
raillery, scarcely excelled in the writings of Addison, evidently refers
to that event. The plan of life which he sets forth was afterwards
altered, at least in so far as he had then in view a place of residence.

HUME _to_ MRS. DYSART.[337:1]

"_Ninewells, March 19th, 1751._

"DEAR MADAM,--Our friend at last plucked up a resolution, and has
ventured on that dangerous encounter. He went off on Monday morning; and
this is the first action of his life wherein he has engaged himself,
without being able to compute exactly the consequences. But what
arithmetic will serve to fix the proportion between good and bad wives,
and rate the different classes of each? Sir Isaac Newton himself, who
could measure the course of the planets, and weigh the earth as in a
pair of scales,--even he had not algebra enough to reduce that amiable
part of our species to a just equation; and they are the only heavenly
bodies whose orbits are as yet uncertain.

"If you think yourself too grave a matron to have this florid part of
the speech addressed to you, pray lend it to the Collector, and he will
send it to Miss Nancy.

"Since my brother's departure, Katty and I have been computing in our
turn, and the result of our deliberation is, that we are to take up
house in Berwick; where, if arithmetic and frugality don't deceive us,
(and they are pretty certain arts) we shall be able, after providing for
hunger, warmth, and cleanliness, to keep a stock in reserve, which we
may afterwards turn either to the purposes of hoarding, luxury, or
charity. But I have declared beforehand against the first; I can easily
guess which of the other two you and Mr. Dysart will be most favourable
to. But we reject your judgment; for nothing blinds one so much as
inveterate habits.

"My compliments to his Solicitorship.[338:1] Unfortunately I have not a
horse at present to carry my fat carcass, to pay its respects to his
superior obesity. But if he finds travelling requisite either for his
health or the captain's, we shall be glad to entertain him here, as long
as we can do it at another's expense; in hopes we shall soon be able to
do it at our own.

"Pray tell the Solicitor that I have been reading lately, in an old
author called _Strabo_, that in some cities of ancient Gaul, there was a
fixed legal standard established for corpulency; and that the senate
kept a measure, beyond which, if any belly presumed to increase, the
proprietor of that belly was obliged to pay a fine to the public,
proportionable to its rotundity. Ill would it fare with his worship and
I,[339:1] if such a law should pass our parliament; for I am afraid we
are already got beyond the statute.

"I wonder, indeed, no harpy of the treasury has ever thought of this
method of raising money. Taxes on luxury are always most approved of;
and no one will say, that the carrying about a portly belly is of any
use or necessity. 'Tis a mere superfluous ornament; and is a proof, too,
that its proprietor enjoys greater plenty than he puts to a good use;
and, therefore, 'tis fit to reduce him to a level with his
fellow-subjects, by taxes and impositions.

"As the lean people are the most active, unquiet, and ambitious, they
every where govern the world, and may certainly oppress their
antagonists whenever they please. Heaven forbid that Whig and Tory
should ever be abolished; for then the nation might be split into fat
and lean; and our faction, I am afraid, would be in piteous taking. The
only comfort is, if they oppressed us very much, we should at last
change sides with them.

"Besides, who knows if a tax were imposed on fatness, but some jealous
divine might pretend that the church was in danger.

"I cannot but bless the memory of Julius Cæsar, for the great esteem he
expressed for fat men, and his aversion to lean ones. All the world
allows, that that emperor was the greatest genius that ever was, and
the greatest judge of mankind.

"But I should ask your pardon, dear madam, for this long dissertation on
fatness and leanness, in which you are no way concerned; for you are
neither fat nor lean, and may indeed be denominated an arrant trimmer.
But this letter may all be read to the Solicitor; for it contains
nothing that need be a secret to him. On the contrary, I hope he will
profit by the example; and, were I near him, I should endeavour to prove
as good an encourager as in this other instance. What can the man be
afraid of? The Mayor of London had more courage, who defied the

"But I am resolved some time to conclude, by putting a grave epilogue to
a farce, and telling you a real serious truth, that I am, with great
esteem, dear madam, your most obedient humble servant.[340:2]

"P.S. Pray let the Solicitor tell Frank, that he is a bad
correspondent--the only way in which he can be a bad one, by his

We find, through the whole of his acts and written thoughts before his
return from the embassy to Turin, the indications of an earnest wish to
possess the means of independent livelihood, suitable to one belonging
to the middle classes of life. Great wealth or ornamental rank he seems
never to have desired: but the circumstance of his having, in the year
1748, achieved the means of independence through his official
emoluments, seems to have taken so strong a hold of his mind, that
nearly thirty years afterwards, in writing his autobiography, he speaks
with exultation of his having been then in possession of £1000. The
position of the man in comfortable circumstances, equally removed from
the dread of want, and the uneasy pressure of superfluous wealth,
appears always to have presented itself as the most desirable fate
which, in mere pecuniary matters, fortune could have in store for him;
and no commentary on the sacred text has perhaps better illustrated its
application to the conduct and feelings of mankind, than his adaptation
of Agur's prayer to the middle station in life, at a time when he was
far from having realized that happy mediocrity of fortune, of which he
gives so pleasing a picture.

     Agur's prayer is sufficiently noted--"Two things have I
     required of thee; deny me them not before I die: remove far
     from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches;
     feed me with food convenient for me, lest I be full and deny
     thee, and say, who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal,
     and take the name of my God in vain."--The middle station is
     here justly recommended, as affording the fullest security for
     virtue; and I may also add, that it gives opportunity for the
     most ample exercise of it, and furnishes employment for every
     good quality which we can possibly be possessed of. Those who
     are placed among the lower ranks of men, have little
     opportunity of exerting any other virtue besides those of
     patience, resignation, industry, and integrity. Those who are
     advanced into the higher stations, have full employment for
     their generosity, humanity, affability, and charity. When a
     man lies betwixt these two extremes, he can exert the former
     virtues towards his superiors, and the latter towards his
     inferiors. Every moral quality which the human soul is
     susceptible of, may have its turn, and be called up to action;
     and a man may, after this manner, be much more certain of his
     progress in virtue, than where his good qualities lie dormant,
     and without employment.[341:1]

The following letter, of a somewhat later date, gives a view of his
definitive intentions.


"_Ninewells, 22d June, 1751._

"DEAR MICHAEL,--I cannot sufficiently express my sense of your kind
letter. The concern you take in your friends is so warm, even after so
long absence, and such frequent interruptions as our commerce has
unhappily met with of late years, that the most recent familiarity of
others can seldom equal it. I might perhaps pretend, as well as others,
to complain of fortune; but I do not, and should condemn myself as
unreasonable if I did. While interest remains as at present, I have £50
a-year, a hundred pounds worth of books, great store of linens and fine
clothes, and near £100 in my pocket; along with order, frugality, a
strong spirit of independency, good health, a contented humour, and an
unabating love of study. In these circumstances I must esteem myself one
of the happy and fortunate; and so far from being willing to draw my
ticket over again in the lottery of life, there are very few prizes with
which I would make an exchange. After some deliberation, I am resolved
to settle in Edinburgh, and hope I shall be able with these revenues to
say with Horace--

     Est bona librorum et provisae frugis in annum

Besides other reasons which determine me to this resolution, I would not
go too far away from my sister, who thinks she will soon follow me; and
in that case, we shall probably take up house either in Edinburgh, or
the neighbourhood. Our sister-in-law behaves well, and seems very
desirous we should both stay. . . . . . . And as she (my sister) can
join £30 a-year to my stock, and brings an equal love of order and
frugality, we doubt not to make our revenues answer. Dr. Clephane, who
has taken up house, is so kind as to offer me a room in it; and two
friends in Edinburgh have made me the same offer. But having nothing to
ask or solicit at London, I would not remove to so expensive a place;
and am resolved to keep clear of all obligations and dependencies, even
on those I love the most."[343:1]

In fulfilment of the design thus announced, he tells us, in his "own
life," "In 1751, I removed from the country to the town, the true scene
for a man of letters." We find, from the dating of his letters, that
Hume's residence in Edinburgh was for a year or two in "Riddell's Land,"
and that it was afterwards in "Jack's Land." Since the plan of numbering
the houses in each street extended to the Scottish capital, these names
have no longer been in general use; but I find that the former applied
to an edifice in the Lawnmarket, near the head of the West Bow, and that
the latter was a tenement in the Canongate, right opposite to a house in
which Smollet occasionally resided with his sister. The term "Land"
applied to one of those edifices--some of them ten or twelve stories
high,--in which the citizens of Edinburgh, pressed upwards as it were by
the increase of the population within a narrow circuit of walls, made
stair-cases supply the place of streets, and erected perpendicular
thoroughfares. A single floor of one of these edifices was, a century
ago, sufficient to accommodate the family of a Scottish nobleman; and
we may be certain, that a very small "Flat" would suit the economical
establishment of Hume.

In 1751, appeared the "Inquiry concerning the Principles of
Morals,"[344:1] the full development, so far as it was made by Hume, of
the utilitarian system. The leading principle kept in view throughout
this work, is, that its tendency to be useful to mankind at large, is
the proper criterion of the propriety of any action, or the justness of
any ethical opinion. In this spirit he examines many of the social
virtues, and shows that it is their usefulness to mankind that gives
them a claim to sympathy, and a title to be included in the list of
virtues. The defects of this exposition of the utilitarian system, are
marked by the manner in which it was critically attacked. In 1753 a
controversial examination of it was made, with temper and ability, by
James Balfour of Pilrig,[344:2] who in 1754 succeeded to the chair, in
the university of Edinburgh, which Hume had been desirous of
filling.[345:1] Mr. Balfour's great argument is the universality of the
admission by mankind, in some shape or other, of the leading cardinal
virtues, and the unhesitating adoption and practice of them by men on
whom the utilitarian theory never dawned, and who are unconscious that
their isolated acts are the fulfilment of any general or uniform law.
Mr. Balfour argued that we must thus look to something else than
utility, as the criterion of moral right and wrong. But a supporter of
the utilitarian system, as it has been more fully developed in later
days, would probably only take from Mr. Balfour's argument a hint to
enlarge the scope of Hume's investigations. To the inquiry, how far
utility is the proper end of human conduct, he would add the inquiry,
how far the theory has been practically adopted by mankind at large.
Though Bacon first laid down the broad rule of unvarying induction from
experiment, many experiments were made, and many inductions derived from
them, before he saw the light; and so before the utilitarian theory was
first formally suggested--as it appears to have been by Aristotle in his
Nicomachean Ethics--utility may frequently have been a rule of action.

It does not necessarily follow, that because a practice is universal,
because it is adopted "by saint, by savage, and by sage," it is
therefore not the dictate of utility, provided it be admitted that
utility was an influencing motive with men before the days of Hume. The
followers of established customs may often be blind; but if we hunt back
a practice to its first institution, we may find that the leaders were
quick-sighted, and kept utility in view, so far as the state of things
they had to deal with permitted. A minute inquiry into national
prejudices and customs frequently surprises the speculative philosopher,
by developing these practices and opinions of the vulgar and illiterate,
as the fruit of great knowledge and forethought. Exhibiting, in their
full extravagance, the contrasts between different codes of morality,
was one of Hume's literary recreations; and it might have been worth his
while to have inquired, had it occurred to him, how much of his own
favourite utilitarian principle is common to all, or at least to many,
of the systems he has thus contrasted with each other.

It was a consequence, perhaps, of the limited extent to which he had
carried the utilitarian theory, that Hume was charged with having left
no distinct line between talent and virtue. By making it seem as if he
held that each man was virtuous according as he did good to mankind at
large, and vicious in as far as he failed in accomplishing this end, he
made way for the argument, that no man can rise high in virtue, unless
he also rise high in intellectual gifts; since, without possessing the
latter, he is not capable of deciding what actions are, and what are
not, conducive to the good of the human race. Many sentiments expressed
in the Inquiry appeared to justify this charge.[347:1] There was thus no
merit assigned to what is called good intention; and no ground for
extending the just approbation of mankind to those who have never
attempted to frame a code of morality to themselves, but who, following
the track of established opinions, or the rules laid down by some of the
many leaders of the human race, believe that, by a steadfast and
disinterested pursuit of their adopted course, they are doing that which
is right in the eye of God and man. It is certain, however, that in this
way many a man may be pursuing a line of conduct conducive to the good
of his fellow-creatures, without knowing that his actions have that
ultimate end. While he follows the rules that have been laid down for
him, his code of morality may be as far superior to that of his clever
and aspiring neighbour, who has fabricated a system for himself, as the
intelligence of the leader, followed by the one, is greater than the
self-sufficient wisdom of the other. Hence multitudes in the humblest
classes of society, in any well regulated community of modern Europe,
will be found, almost blindly, following a code of morality as much
above what the genius either of Socrates or Cicero could devise, as the
order of the universe is superior to the greatest efforts of man's
artificial skill.

     "Yon cottager, who weaves at her own door,
     Pillow and bobbins all her little store;--
     Content though mean, and cheerful if not gay,
     Shuffling her threads about the livelong day,
     Just earns a scanty pittance; and at night
     Lies down secure,--her heart and pocket light.

     She, for her humble sphere by nature fit,
     Has little understanding, and no wit;
     Receives no praise--but, though her lot be such,
     Toilsome and indigent, she renders much;
     Just knows, and knows no more, her Bible true--
     A truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew;
     And in that charter reads, with sparkling eyes,
     Her title to a treasure in the skies.

     Oh, happy peasant! oh, unhappy bard!
     His the mere tinsel, hers the rich reward;
     He, praised, perhaps, for ages yet to come;
     She never heard of half a mile from home;
     He, lost in errors his vain heart prefers,
     _She, safe in the simplicity of hers_."

It was, perhaps, from a like want of inquiry into the full extent of the
system, that his theory of utility encountered the charge of being a
mere system of "expediency," which estimated actions according as they
accomplished what appeared at the moment to be good or evil, without any
regard to their ultimate consequences. He certainly left for Bentham the
task of making a material addition to the utilitarian theory, by
applying it to the secondary effects of actions. Thus, according to
Bentham's view, when a successful highway robbery is committed, the
direct evil done to the victim is but a part of the mischief
accomplished. The secondary effects have an operation, if not so deep,
yet very widely spread, in creating terror, anxiety, and distrust on the
part of honest people, and emboldening the wicked to the perpetration of
crimes. On the same principle a good measure must not be carried through
the legislature by corrupt means; because the example so set, will, in
the end, though not perhaps till the generation benefited by the measure
has passed away, produce more bad measures than good, by lowering the
tone of political morality. Had Hume kept in view these secondary
effects, he never would have vindicated suicide, thought sudden death an
occurrence rather fortunate than otherwise, or used expressions from
which an opponent could with any plausibility infer, that, under any
circumstances, he held strict female chastity in light esteem. But he
was always careless about the offensive application of his principles;
forgetting that if there be any thing in a set of opinions calculated
deeply and permanently to outrage the feelings of mankind, the
probability at least is, that they have something about them
unsound,--that the mass of the public are right, and the solitary
philosopher wrong.

Hume's account, in his "own life," of this period of his literary
history, is contained in the following paragraph, in which, as in some
other instances, it will be seen that his memory has not accurately
retained the chronological sequence of his works.

"In 1752, were published at Edinburgh, where I then lived, my 'Political
Discourses,' the only work of mine that was successful on the first
publication. It was well received abroad and at home. In the same year
was published at London, my 'Inquiry concerning the Principles of
Morals;' which, in my own opinion, (who ought not to judge on that
subject,) is of all my writings, historical, philosophical, or literary,
incomparably the best. It came unnoticed and unobserved into the world."

Before noticing the "Political Discourses," it is necessary to state,
that during this winter of 1751, we find Hume again attempting to obtain
an academic chair, and again disappointed. Adam Smith, having been
Professor of Logic in the university of Glasgow, succeeded to the chair
of Moral Philosophy in November 1751, on the death of Professor Craigie,
its former occupant. That Hume used considerable exertions to be
appointed Smith's successor, is attested by some incidental passages in
his correspondence, and particularly by the following letter to Dr.

"_Edinburgh, 21st January, 1752._

"SIR,--The part which you have acted in the late project for my election
into your college, gave me so much pleasure, that I would do myself the
greatest violence did I not take every opportunity of expressing my most
lively sense of it. We have failed, and are thereby deprived of great
opportunities of cultivating that friendship, which had so happily
commenced by your zeal for my interests. But I hope other opportunities
will offer; and I assure you, that nothing will give me greater pleasure
than an intimacy with a person of your merit. You must even allow me to
count upon the same privilege of friendship, as if I had enjoyed the
happiness of a longer correspondence and familiarity with you; for as it
is a common observation, that the conferring favours on another is the
surest method of attaching us to him, I must, by this rule, consider you
as a person to whom my interests can never be altogether indifferent.
Whatever the reverend gentlemen may say of my religion, I hope I have as
much morality as to retain a grateful sentiment of your favours, and as
much sense as to know whose friendship will give greatest honour and
advantage to me. I am," &c.

The distinguished scientific man, in the course of whose researches this
curious literary incident was divulged, informs us that Burke was also a
candidate for this chair,[351:1] and that the successful competitor was
a Mr. Clow. Concerning this fortunate person literary history is silent;
but he has acquired a curious title to fame, from the greatness of the
man to whom he succeeded, and of those over whom he was triumphant.

It is not, perhaps, to be regretted, that Hume failed in both his
attempts to obtain a professor's chair. He was not of the stuff that
satisfactory teachers of youth are made of. Although he was beyond all
doubt an able man of business, in matters sufficiently important to
command his earnest attention, yet it is pretty clear that he had
acquired the outward manner of an absent, good-natured man, unconscious
of much that was going on around him; and that he would have thus
afforded a butt to the mischief and raillery of his pupils, from which
all the lustre of his philosophical reputation would not have protected

Discoverers do not make, in ordinary circumstances, the best instructors
of youth, because their minds are often too full of the fermentation of
their own original ideas and partly developed systems, to possess the
coolness and clearness necessary for conveying a distinct view of the
laws and elements of an established system. But if this may be an
incidental inconvenience in one whose discoveries are but extensions of
admitted doctrines, the revolutionist who is endeavouring to pull to
pieces what has been taught for ages within the same walls, and to erect
a new system in its stead, can scarcely ever be a satisfactory
instructor of any considerable number of young men. The teacher of the
moral department of science especially must be, to a certain extent, a
conformist; if he be not, what is taught in the class-room will be
forgotten or contradicted in the closet. The teachers of youth are
themselves not less irascible and sometimes not less prejudiced than
other mortals. They have their hatreds and partisanships, often
productive of acrimonious controversy; but when there is something like
a unity of opinion in the systems of those who teach the same, or like
subjects, these superficial discussions produce no evil fruit. Hume
would have been at peace with all who would have let his unobtrusive
spirit alone; but he would probably have quietly proceeded to inculcate
doctrines to which most of his fellow-labourers were strongly averse;
and that, perhaps, without knowing or feeling that he was in any way
departing from the simple routine of duties which the public expected of
him. And thus he would probably have created in the midst of the rising
youth of the day, an isolated circle of disciples, taught to despise the
acquirements and opinions of their contemporaries, as these
contemporaries held theirs in abhorrence.[353:1]

This was an important epoch in Hume's literary history; in 1751, he
produced the work which he himself considered the most meritorious of
all his efforts; in 1752, he published that which obtained the largest
amount of contemporary popularity, the "Political Discourses."[354:1]
After a series of literary disappointments, borne with the spirit of one
who felt within him the real powers of an original thinker and an
agreeable writer, and the assurance that the world would some day
acknowledge the sterling greatness of his qualifications, he now at last
presented them in a form, in which they received the ready homage of the
public. These Discourses are in truth the cradle of political economy;
and, much as that science has been investigated and expounded in later
times, these earliest, shortest, and simplest developments of its
principles are still read with delight even by those who are masters of
all the literature of this great subject.[354:2] But they possess a
quality which more elaborate economists have striven after in vain, in
being a pleasing object of study not only to the initiated but to the
ordinary popular reader, and of being admitted as just and true by many
who cannot or who will not understand the views of later writers on
political economy.[355:1] They have thus the rarely conjoined merit,
that, as they were the first to direct the way to the true sources of
this department of knowledge, those who have gone farther, instead of
superseding them, have in the general case confirmed their accuracy.

Political economy is a science of which the advanced extremities are the
subject of debate and doubt, while the older doctrines are admitted by
all as firm and established truths. It may be slippery ground, but it is
not a tread-mill, and no step taken has ever to be entirely retraced. It
is owing to this characteristic of the science that those who oppose the
doctrines of modern economists do not think of denying those of David
Hume; and thus, while in these essays the economist finds some of the
most important doctrines of his peculiar subject set forth with a
clearness and elegance with which he dare not attempt to compete, the
ordinary reader, who has a distaste of new doctrines and innovating
theories, awards them the respect due to old established opinion.

That they should have been, with all their innovation on received
opinions, and their startling novelty, so popular in their own age, is
also a matter which has its peculiar explanation. The dread of
innovation, simply as change, and without reference to the interests it
may affect, sprung up in later times, a child of the French revolution.
Before that event some men were republican or constitutional in their
views, and declared war against all changes which tended to throw power
into the hands of the monarch. Others were monarchical, and opposed to
the extension of popular rights. But if an alteration were suggested
which did not affect these fundamental principles and opinions, it was
welcomed with liberal courtesy, examined, and adopted or rejected on its
own merits. Hence both Hume and Smith, writing in bold denunciation of
all the old cherished prejudices in matters of commerce, instead of
being met with a storm of reproach, as any one who should publish so
many original views in the present day would be, at once received a fair
hearing and a just appreciation.[356:1]

Thus there was a period during which innovations, however bold or
extensive, received a favourable hearing, and in which the literature
both of England and of France was daily giving publicity to new theories
embodying sweeping alterations of social systems. In this work the two
countries presented their national characteristics. The English writers
kept always in view the question how far there would be a vital
principle remaining in society after the diseased part was removed; how
far there was reason to suppose that the small quantity of good done to
the public by any irrational system, which at the same time did much
evil, might be accomplished after its abolition. The French were
indiscriminate in their war against old received opinions, and offered
nothing to fill their place when they were gone; and hence in some
measure followed results which have made change and innovation words of
dread throughout a great part of society.

Of the inquiries through which Hume brought together the materials for
these essays, the reader will have found a specimen in the notes, or
_adversaria_ quoted above.[357:1] A comparison of these fragments of the
raw material, with the finished result, develops this marked feature in
Hume's method of working, that in the way to a short proposition, he has
often read and thought at great length. The simplicity and unity of his
writings were of more importance to him than the appearance of
elaboration; and where others would be scattering multitudinous
statements and authorities, he is content with the simple embodiment of
results, conscious that inquiry will confirm in the reader's mind the
justness of what he lays down. In some respects we can watch the
progress of Hume's mind in connexion with these subjects; for in his
allusions to commercial matters in his earlier works, he uses the common
phraseology, such as "balance of trade," in a manner indicating an
adherence to those ordinary fallacies of the day, which, when he came to
examine them in his essays on "commerce," "money," "interest," "the
balance of trade," "taxes," and "public credit," he extensively
repudiated. His examination of the nature and value of money as a medium
of exchange, is probably the best and simplest that, even down to this
day, can be found. His theory, so far as it goes, has hardly ever been
questioned; and indeed at present it may be said, that beyond it we know
little with certainty, and that its author had at once discovered the
limits at which full and satisfactory knowledge was, for nearly a
century, to rest.[358:1] He shows that money is not in itself property
or value; that it is a mere representative, which, if cheap or dear in
its material, is just, in the same ratio, a cheap or a dear method of
accomplishing a purpose. That if a community could conduct its
transactions with a small quantity of money as well as with a large, it
would, so far from being poorer, be the richer by so much as the
superabundant money had cost. He examines those simple laws which, when
there is no disturbing influence, have a tendency to equalize the
distribution of the precious metals, through the cheapness of labour and
commodities where they are scarce, the nominal enhancement where they
are abundant. He notices with great clearness and precision the
respective effects upon the community of a state of increase, and of a
state of diminution of the available currency of a country. But he
enters on few of those intricate monetary questions which are now so
frequently the subject of discussion. Of inquiries into the causes which
affect the quantity of money in a country, the moving influences from
which arise gluts, drains, stagnations, and all the mysteries of
finance, he shows us that he felt diffident; and on these matters, how
little is the quantity of full satisfactory undisputed knowledge which
we yet possess!

Indeed, one of the great merits of Hume's Essays on Political Economy
is, that he knows when he is getting out of his depth, and does not
conceal his position. With many writers on this subject, the point where
clear and satisfactory inquiry ends, is that where dogmatism begins; but
Hume stops at that point, sees and admits the difficulty, and
acknowledges that he can go no farther with safety.

Among these essays there is one which, like the Oceana of Harrington,
though on a smaller scale, is an attempt to construct a system of
polity. It is called "Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth." The system so put
together is liable to practical objections at every step, and is utterly
destitute of that sagacious applicability to the transactions of real
business, for which the efforts in hypothetical legislation by Bentham
are distinguished.[361:1]

Another essay of a different character is conspicuous for the vast
extent of the learning and research which must have been expended in
bringing together its crowd of apt illustrations,--that on "The
Populousness of Ancient Nations." To afford a choice of so many
applicable facts, directly bearing on the point, how wide must have been
the research, how extensive the rejection of such fruit of that
research, as did not answer his purpose! In the perusal of this essay
one is inclined to regret that Hume afterwards made a portion of modern
Europe the object of his historical labours, instead of taking up some
department of the history of classical antiquity. The full blown lustre
of Greek and Roman greatness had far more of his sympathy than the
history of his own countrymen, and their slow progress from barbarism to
civilisation. The materials were nearly all confined to the great
spirits of antiquity, with whom he delighted to hold converse, instead
of involving that heap of documentary matter with which the historian of
Britain must grapple; acts of parliament, journals, writs, legal
documents, &c.--all things which his soul abhorred. In such a field he
might have escaped the imputation of not being a full and fair
investigator; and he would, at all events, have avoided the reproach
thrown on him by the prying antiquary, who, by the light of newly
discovered documents, could charge him with having neglected that of
which he did not, and could not, know the existence.[364:1]

In a letter to Henry Home in 1748, we find Hume mentioning an essay on
the Protestant Succession, as one which he was to include in the edition
of his "Essays Moral and Political," then preparing for the
press.[365:1] He speaks of people having endeavoured to divert him from
this publication, as one likely to be injurious to him as an official
man. Perhaps he was prevailed on to adopt the view of his prudent
friends, for this essay is not among the "Essays Moral and Political,"
but forms one of the volume of Discourses, among which it is somewhat
inharmoniously placed, as it is the only one which bears a reference to
the current internal party politics of the day.

The "Political Discourses" introduced Hume to the literature of the
continent. The works of Quesnay, Rivière, Mirabeau, Raynal, and Turgot,
had not yet appeared, but the public mind of France had been opened for
novel doctrines by the bold appeal of Vauban,[365:2] and by the curious
and original inquiries of Montesquieu. The Discourses appear to have
been first translated by Eléazer Mauvillon, a native of Provence, and
private secretary to Frederic Augustus, King of Poland, who published
his translation in 1753.[365:3] Another, and better known translation,
by the Abbé Le Blanc, was published in 1754.[365:4] This Abbé had spent
some time in England, and wrote a work on his experiences in Britain,
called "Lettres sur les Anglois." He was the author also of a tragedy
called Aben Säid, which seems to have now lost any fame it ever
acquired. His translations from Hume were, however, highly popular, that
of the Discourses passing through several editions; and we shall find
that they obtained the approbation of Hume himself. The Abbé, in a
letter to the author, gives an account of the reception of the
translation,[366:1] the colour of which he may be supposed to have
enriched, as regarding a matter in which he felt himself to be _pars
magna_. He prophesies that it will produce a like sensation to that
caused by the Esprit des Loix, and he finds his prophecy fulfilled. He
states, that it is not only read with avidity, but that it has given
rise to a multitude of other works. There can be no doubt, indeed, that
as no Frenchman had previously approached the subject of political
economy with a philosophical pen, this little book was a main
instrument, either by causing assent or provoking controversy, in
producing the host of French works on political economy, published
between the time of its translation, and the publication of Smith's
"Wealth of Nations," in 1776.[366:2] The work of the elder Mirabeau in
particular--L'Ami des Hommes, was in a great measure a controversial
examination of Hume's opinions on population.


[320:1] Stewart's Philosophy of the Human Mind, and Preliminary
Dissertation to the Encyclopædia Britannica.

[320:2] In the following pages these papers will be cited as the Minto

[320:3] His grandfather distinguished himself by his resolute and
skilful defence of William Veitch, one of the nonconforming clergy, who
suffered in the persecutions of the reign of Charles II. Elliot acting
as the persecuted man's agent, made an appeal to the feelings of the
English statesmen, on the barbarity of the measures of their Scots
colleagues; and was so far successful, that the sentence of death
pronounced against Veitch, was commuted to banishment. He thenceforth
became, of course, a marked man, and an act of forfeiture passed against
him in 1685, as an accessory in Argyle's rising. He afterwards obtained
a remission of his sentence, and on 22d November, 1688, he was received
as a member of the faculty of advocates. He was created a baronet in
1700, and on 25th July, 1705, was raised to the bench. (_Brunton and
Haig's account of the Senators of the College of Justice._) In Dr.
M'Crie's curious "Memoirs of Mr. William Veitch," (p. 99) it is stated,
that when the evil days were passed, and the condemned nonconformist was
parish minister of Dumfries, he was occasionally visited by the judge,
when the following conversation passed between them,--"Ah Willie,
Willie, had it no' been for me, the pyets had been pyken your pate on
the Nether-bow Port;" to which the retort was, "Ah Gibbie, Gibbie, had
it no' been for me, ye would ha'e been yet writing papers for a plack
the page."

This Sir Gilbert's son, and the father of Hume's correspondent, was
raised to the bench on 4th June, 1726, and became Lord Justice Clerk on
3d May, 1703. He died on 16th April, 1766.

[321:1] He was chosen member for the county of Selkirk in 1754, and
1762, and for Roxburghshire in 1765, 1768, and 1774. He succeeded to the
baronetcy on his father's death in 1766. He was made a lord of the
admiralty in 1756, treasurer of the chamber in 1762, keeper of the
signet in Scotland in 1767, and treasurer of the navy in 1770. He died
in 1777. _Collins' Peerage. Beatson's Parliamentary Register._

[322:1] Minto MS.

[322:2] See as instances, Washington Irving's "Salmagundi," and Morier's
"Hajji Baba."

[324:1] Discours sur Théophraste, where there are some bitter and just
remarks on the Parisian manners of La Bruyere's day, as an appropriate
introduction to the exhibition of the follies of the Athenians.

[324:2] Scroll, Minto MSS.

[325:1] "La Perpétuité de la Foi, de l'Eglise Catholique touchant
L'Eucharistie," 3 vols. 4to, 1669-1676. A smaller work published by the
same author in 1664, was called "La Petite Perpétuité." Its author,
Pierre Nicole, one of the illustrious recluses of the Port Royal, was
more efficient as a polemical supporter of the principles of his church,
than as a practical administrator of its authority. An amusing story is
told of his unguarded habits and absence of mind. A lady had brought
under his notice, as her spiritual adviser, a matter of extreme
delicacy, with which he felt it difficult to deal. Seeing approach at
the moment Father Fouquet, whom he knew to have much judgment and
experience in such matters, he cried out--"Ah, here comes a man who can
solve the difficulty," and, running to meet him, told the whole case,
loudly and energetically. The feelings of the fair penitent may be

[327:1] Probably "The Bellman's Petition," mentioned above.

[327:2] Minto MSS.

[328:1] In the MSS. R.S.E.

[331:1] The late Rev. Dr. Morehead of St. Paul's Chapel in Edinburgh,
who was revered as a minister, and respected as a scholar and
philosopher, published in 1830, "Dialogues on Natural and Revealed
Religion," a pleasing continuation of the work we have just been
considering, in which the speakers are made to approach a conclusion
nearer to the reverend author's own opinions, than he found them to be
when he had read to the end of Hume's little book. From a note by Dr.
Morehead, I am tempted to extract the following passage: "Mr. Hume was
conscious of his own power, probably while his countrymen were making
him a theme of their uncouth derision; and he seems to have had a
prescience that he had not yet gathered all his fame. . . . . . . I am
much mistaken if the name of this profound thinker does not yet receive
the encomiastic epithets of a _grateful_ posterity; and if, when his
errors have passed away, he does not yet come to be regarded as the
philosopher who has made the most penetrating and successful researches
in the intricate science of human nature. He is a cool anatomist, who
has dissected it throughout every fibre and nerve; and he may be partly
pardoned, perhaps, if, in this sort of remorseless operation, he has too
much lost sight of the principle of its moral and intellectual life."
The Dialogues on Natural Religion seem to have taken a firm hold of Dr.
Morehead's mind. He left behind him a farther continuation, called
"Philosophical Dialogues," in which he beautifully represented the Philo
of the original, revising his old opinions amidst such a serene old age,
as the writer was then himself enjoying. This little work was published
after its author's death, by a distinguished surviving friend, who has
probably done more towards the propagation of Christian philosophy, than
any other living writer of the English language.

[334:1] Down to this point, the letter is printed in Dugald Stewart's
Preliminary Dissertation to The Encyclopædia Britannica, Note ccc.

[336:1] Minto MSS. In this collection there is a scroll of a letter
written by Mr. Elliot to Hume, returning the manuscripts to which the
correspondence refers. It has been published in the notes (ccc,) to
Dugald Stewart's Preliminary Dissertation. It is not only a criticism of
the Dialogues on Natural Religion, but an examination of Hume's general
theory of impressions and ideas, worthy of the perusal of all who take
interest in these inquiries. It is of considerable length, and the
temptation to print it along with Hume's letter, was only overcome by
the circumstance that it is to be found in a work widely circulated, and
that the disposable space in this book may be more economically devoted
to some letters of Sir Gilbert Elliot which are not to be found

[337:1] Mrs. Dysart of Eccles, "a much valued relation of Hume,"
according to Mackenzie's Account of the Life of Home, p. 104.

[338:1] Alexander Home, Solicitor-general for Scotland.--_Mackenzie._

[339:1] Sic.

[340:1] In allusion to that mayor who, on his first introduction to
field sports, hearing a cry that the hare was coming, exclaimed, in a
fit of magnanimous courage, "Let him come, in God's name; I fear him

[340:2] Mackenzie's Home, p. 104. The original is in the MSS. R.S.E.

[341:1] Essays Moral and Political, published in 1741.

[343:1] From a copy transmitted by Ramsay's nephew to Baron Hume, in the
MSS. R.S.E. The blank denoted above is in the copy.

[344:1] London: 8vo, printed for A. Millar. It is in the book list of
the _Gentleman's Magazine_, for December.

[344:2] "A Delineation of the Nature and Obligation of Morality, with
Reflections upon Mr. Hume's book, entitled an 'Inquiry concerning the
Principles of Morals.'"

On the publication of this book, Hume wrote the following letter,
addressed "To the Author of the Delineation of the Nature and
Obligations of Morality," and left it with the bookseller.

"SIR,--When I write you, I know not to whom I am addressing myself: I
only know he is one who has done me a great deal of honour, and to whose
civilities I am obliged. If we be strangers, I beg we may be acquainted,
as soon as you think proper to discover yourself: if we be acquainted
already, I beg we may be friends: if friends, I beg we may be more so.
Our connexion with each other as men of letters, is greater than our
difference as adhering to different sects or systems. Let us revive the
happy times, when Atticus and Cassius the epicureans, Cicero the
academic, and Brutus the stoic, could all of them live in unreserved
friendship together, and were insensible to all those distinctions,
except so far as they furnished agreeable matter to discourse and
conversation. Perhaps you are a young man, and being full of those
sublime ideas, which you have so well expressed, think there can be no
virtue upon a more confined system. I am not an old one; but, being of a
cool temperament, have always found, that more simple views were
sufficient to make me act in a reasonable manner; νηθε, και μἑμνησο
ἀπιστειν; in this faith have I lived, and hope to die.

"Your civilities to me so much overbalance your severities, that I
should be ungrateful to take notice of some expressions which, in the
heat of composition, have dropped from your pen. I must only complain of
you a little for ascribing to me the sentiments, which I have put into
the mouth of the Sceptic in the "Dialogue." I have surely endeavoured to
refute the sceptic, with all the force of which I am master; and my
refutation must be allowed sincere, because drawn from the capital
principles of my system. But you impute to me both the sentiments of the
sceptic, and the sentiments of his antagonist, which I can never admit
of. In every dialogue no more than one person can be supposed to
represent the author.

"Your severity on one head, that of chastity, is so great, and I am so
little conscious of having given any just occasion to it, that it has
afforded me a hint to form a conjecture, perhaps ill-grounded,
concerning your person.

"I hope to steal a little leisure from my other occupations, in order to
defend my philosophy against your attacks. If I have occasion to give a
new edition of the work, which you have honoured with an answer, I shall
make great advantage of your remarks, and hope to obviate some of your

"Your style is elegant, and full of agreeable imagery. In some few
places it does not fully come up to my ideas of purity and correctness.
I suppose mine falls still further short of your ideas. In this respect,
we may certainly be of use to each other. With regard to our
philosophical systems, I suppose we are both so fixed, that there is no
hope of any conversions betwixt us; and for my part, I doubt not but we
shall both do as well to remain as we are.

"I am, &c.

"_Edinburgh, March 15, 1753._"

[345:1] It is stated in Ritchie's "Account of the Life and Writings of
Hume," from which the above letter is taken, and in some works of
reference, which appear to have depended on the authority of that book,
that Hume was a competitor with Balfour for the chair. This statement
has probably arisen out of some misapprehension as to his previous
competition for the chair.

[347:1] See the dawning of this view in his correspondence with
Hutcheson, _supra_, p. 112. An essay, entitled "Of some Verbal
Disputes," published in the later editions of the work now under
consideration, contains some curious elucidations of it.

[351:1] Thomson--Life of Cullen, 72-73--where the above letter is first
printed. Dr. Thomson tells me, that the evidence of Burke having been a
candidate is merely traditional, but that it was enough to satisfy his
own mind. In the "Outlines of Philosophical Education," by Professor
Jardine, who afterwards filled the same chair, there is this passage,
(p. 21:) "Burke, whose genius led him afterwards to shine in a more
exalted sphere, was thought of by some of the electors as a proper
person to fill it. He did not, however, actually come forward as a

[353:1] Dr. Thomson says, "It might afford curious matter of speculation
to conjecture what effect the appointment of Mr. Hume, or of Mr. Burke,
to the chair of logic in Glasgow, would have had upon the character of
that university, or upon the metaphysical, moral, and political
inquiries of the age in which they lived; and what consequences were
likely to have resulted from the influence which the peculiar genius and
talents of either of these great men, had they been exerted in that
sphere, must necessarily have had in forming the minds of such of their
pupils as were to be afterwards employed in the pursuits of science, or
the conduct and regulation of human affairs. It seems difficult to
conceive how, as instructors of youth, they could either of them,
without a considerable modification of their opinions, have taught
philosophy upon the sceptical or the Berkeleian systems which they had
respectively adopted; while the strict purity of their moral characters,
and the great reverence which they both entertained for established
institutions, give the fullest assurance, that, had either of them been
appointed to the chair of logic, their academical duties would have been
executed with an unceasing regard to the improvement of their pupils,
and to the reputation of the society into which they had been admitted."
Life of Cullen, p. 73.

Smith, in a letter to Dr. Cullen, says, "I should prefer David Hume to
any man for a colleague; but I am afraid the public would not be of my
opinion; and the interest of the society will oblige us to have some
regard to the opinion of the public. If the event, however, we are
afraid of should happen, we can see how the public receives it. From the
particular knowledge I have of Mr. Elliot's sentiments, I am pretty
certain Mr. Lindsay must have proposed it to him, not he to Mr.
Lindsay." Ib. p. 606.

[354:1] Edinburgh, 1752, 8vo. Printed for Kincaid and Donaldson. It is
in the _Gentleman's Magazine_ list of books for February.

[354:2] Lord Brougham says, "Of the 'Political Discourses' it would be
difficult to speak in terms of too great commendation. They combine
almost every excellence which can belong to such a performance. The
reasoning is clear, and unencumbered with more words or more
illustrations than are necessary for bringing out the doctrine. The
learning is extensive, accurate, and profound, not only as to systems of
philosophy, but as to history, whether modern or ancient. The subjects
are most happily chosen; the language is elegant, precise, and vigorous;
and so admirably are the topics selected, that there is as little of
dryness in these fine essays as if the subject were not scientific; and
we rise from their perusal scarce able to believe that it is a work of
philosophy we have been reading, having all the while thought it a book
of curiosity and entertainment. The great merit, however, of these
Discourses, is their originality, and the new system of politics and
political economy which they unfold. Mr. Hume is, beyond all doubt, the
author of the modern doctrines which now rule the world of science,
which are to a great extent the guide of practical statesmen, and are
only prevented from being applied in their fullest extent to the affairs
of nations, by the clashing interests and the ignorant prejudices of
certain powerful classes." Lives of Men of Letters, p. 204.

[355:1] Perhaps a portion of the pleasure with which these essays are
read by those who are not partial to the study of political economy, may
be attributed to their having been written before that science was in
possession of a nomenclature, and thus appearing clothed in the ordinary
language of literature.

[356:1] It was in the most aristocratic quarters that these innovating
doctrines were best received; for in them was the greatest amount of
education, and its influence was not at that time paralyzed by general
prejudices against innovation. They were more in favour with the Tories
than with the Whigs. Indeed, Archdeacon Tucker, one of the boldest
speculators on the economy of trade, was in state politics one of the
most uncompromising Tories of his age. Fox, on the other hand, said of
the "Wealth of Nations," that "there was something in all these subjects
which passed his comprehension, something so wide that he could never
embrace them himself, or find any one who did." But in the French
treaty, and in other measures regarding trade, Pitt was in the fair way
of putting them into legislative practice, when, being arrested by the
French revolution, he entertained thenceforward a bitter enmity of
innovation; an enmity to which, in the department of political economy,
his party became the heirs, preserving the succession down nearly to the
present day, when, at least by their leader, old prejudices have been
already in a great measure, and are likely soon to be altogether

[357:1] P. 126.

[358:1] It is not intended to be maintained that Hume's Political
Economy is immaculate, but merely that in the majority of instances he
has fixed certain truths which later inquiries have not shaken. The
following passage, along with much that is received as true doctrine,
contains some observations, such as those on the tax on German linen,
and on brandy, which modern economists would pronounce to be heterodox.
The question of a gold or a paper currency was one which Hume did not
profess to decide. He described with considerable impartiality the
advantages and the disadvantages of both mediums of exchange.

"From these principles we may learn what judgment we ought to form of
those numberless bars, obstructions, and imposts, which all nations of
Europe, and none more than England, have put upon trade, from an
exorbitant desire of amassing money, which never will heap up beyond its
level, while it circulates; or from an ill-grounded apprehension of
losing their specie, which never will sink below it. Could any thing
scatter our riches, it would be such impolitic contrivances. But this
general ill effect, however, results from them, that they deprive
neighbouring nations of that free communication and exchange which the
Author of the world has intended, by giving them soils, climates, and
geniuses, so different from each other.

"Our modern politics embrace the only method of banishing money, the
using of paper credit; they reject the only method of amassing it, the
practice of hoarding; and they adopt a hundred contrivances, which serve
to no purpose but to check industry, and rob ourselves and our
neighbours of the common benefits of art and nature.

"All taxes, however, upon foreign commodities, are not to be regarded as
prejudicial or useless, but those only which are founded on the jealousy
above mentioned. A tax on German linen encourages home manufactures, and
thereby multiplies our people and industry. A tax on brandy increases
the sale of rum, and supports our southern colonies. And as it is
necessary that imposts should be levied for the support of government,
it may be thought more convenient to lay them on foreign commodities,
which can easily be intercepted at the port, and subjected to the
impost. We ought, however, always to remember the maxim of Dr. Swift,
that, in the arithmetic of the customs, two and two make not four, but
often make only one. It can scarcely be doubted, but if the duties on
wine were lowered to a third, they would yield much more to the
government than at present: our people might thereby afford to drink
commonly a better and more wholesome liquor; and no prejudice would
ensue to the balance of trade, of which we are so jealous. The
manufacture of ale beyond the agriculture is but inconsiderable, and
gives employment to few hands. The transport of wine and corn would not
be much inferior."

The following account of a banking practice still in lively operation in
Scotland, affords a specimen of Hume's capacity to grapple with
practical details.

"There was an invention which was fallen upon some years ago by the
banks of Edinburgh, and which, as it was one of the most ingenious ideas
that has been executed in commerce, has also been thought advantageous
to Scotland. It is there called a Bank-Credit, and is of this nature:--A
man goes to the bank, and finds surety to the amount, we shall suppose,
of a thousand pounds. This money, or any part of it, he has the liberty
of drawing out whenever he pleases, and he pays only the ordinary
interest for it while it is in his hands. He may, when he pleases, repay
any sum so small as twenty pounds, and the interest is discounted from
the very day of the repayment. The advantages resulting from this
contrivance are manifold. As a man may find surety nearly to the amount
of his substance, and his bank-credit is equivalent to ready money, a
merchant does hereby in a manner coin his houses, his household
furniture, the goods in his warehouse, the foreign debts due to him, his
ships at sea; and can, upon occasion, employ them in all payments, as if
they were the current money of the country. If a man borrow a thousand
pounds from a private hand, besides that it is not always to be found
when required, he pays interest for it whether he be using it or not:
his bank-credit costs him nothing except during the very moment in which
it is of service to him: and this circumstance is of equal advantage as
if he had borrowed money at much lower interest. Merchants likewise,
from this invention, acquire a great facility in supporting each other's
credit, which is a considerable security against bankruptcies. A man,
when his own bank-credit is exhausted, goes to any of his neighbours who
is not in the same condition, and he gets the money, which he replaces
at his convenience."

[361:1] Indeed, in all respects, Hume's political economy is rather
analytical of the effect of existing institutions and establishments,
than suggestive of any views on the practicability of any great
amelioration of mankind by positive regulations founded on principles of
political economy. Adam Smith pursued the same method. The mission of
that school was indeed rather to break down than to build up--to find
out and eradicate the mischief that had been done by empiric
legislation; not to attempt new arrangements. While so much mischievous
matter remained to be got rid of, the field was not clear for any
attempts to try the effect of plans of social organization. It is
perhaps only now when the doctrines of the political economists, after
having stood out against neglect and hostility, have been nearly brought
into practice by the successive abolition of the regulations most
objectionable in their eyes, that room has been made for the suggestion
of plans of internal social organization, founded on inquiries both
extensive and minute. In the present position of measures for the
physical and moral purification, and the social organization of this
densely peopled empire,--in the approach to an adjustment of the poor
law,--the reform of the criminal code,--the prison discipline, and the
sanatory suggestions; and still more, in these not being the mere dreams
of utopian theorists, but receiving the countenance and support of
practical statesmen, we appear to have witnessed the dawn of a new era
in political economy.

Hume seems so far from having himself contemplated the application of
philosophical skill to the organization of large masses of human beings,
that we frequently find in his writings and in his letters, remarks on
the growth of cities, sometimes speaking of certain limits which they
cannot pass, at other times noticing, in a tone of despondency, the
rapid progress of London, as if it were exceeding those bounds within
which mankind can be kept under the dominion of law and order. In the
essay on the Populousness of Ancient Nations, he says, "London, by
uniting extensive commerce and middling empire, has perhaps arrived at a
greatness, which no city will perhaps be able to exceed;" and he fixes
this number at 700,000 inhabitants,--saying farther, "from the
experience of past and present ages, one might conjecture that there is
a kind of impossibility that any city could ever rise much beyond this
proportion." London must then have been considerably under the
population he thus assigns to it, and it had not probably reached that
number of inhabitants twenty-four years later, when we find him,
oppressed by the disease of which he died, saying in a letter to Smith,
"should London fall as much in its size as I have done, it will be the
better. It is nothing but a hulk of bad and unclean humours."

During Hume's lifetime, the metropolis had been frequently outraged and
intimidated--on some occasions almost desolated, by mobs of city
savages; beings far more formidable and brutal than the savages of the
wilderness. At the time when he published his Political Discourses, it
contained bands of robbers, who followed their trade as openly as the
brigands of the Abruzzi, committing robberies and murders in the middle
of the city, in open day. Those who saw the city increasing in size,
while it retained these evil characteristics, naturally looked upon it
as a cancer, near the most vital part of the empire, and lamented
accordingly its waxing prosperity and bulk. But its size was not the
cause of the evil. It is now three times as populous as when Hume wrote,
yet, with much poverty, much vice, and much ignorance, it is not the
same diseased and dangerous mass it then was. The comparative sober
quietness of the streets,--the well ordered police,--the facilities for
discovering persons who are sought after, without their being subjected
in their movements to any control, inconsistent with British
liberty,--are all, when practised on so large a scale, indications that
human genius has great capacities for organization; and they may be, for
aught that can be seen to the contrary, only the initial movements,
which future generations will carry to far more wonderful results.

[364:1] Dr. Robert Wallace, a distinguished clergyman of the Church of
Scotland, had prepared for the Philosophical Society, of which he was a
member, an essay, which he enlarged and published in 1752, with the
title, "Dissertations on the Numbers of Mankind in Ancient and Modern
Times;" adding a supplement, in which he examined Hume's discourse on
the Populousness of Ancient Nations. Malthus admitted that Dr. Wallace
was the first to point distinctly to the rule, that to find the limits
of the populousness of any given community, we must look at the quantity
of food at its disposal. But he was not successful in the controversial
application of his principle. Hume's method of inquiry is a double
comparison. The statements of numbers in ancient authors being compared
with the numbers in existing communities, the relative organization for
the supply of food in the two cases is examined, and the author finds
reason to believe that the statements of numbers are greatly exaggerated
by ancient authors, as the state of commerce and transit, and the amount
of stock or capital available for the concentration and distribution of
food, are not such as would enable such multitudes to be supported. Dr.
Wallace, laying down, that where there is the most food there will be
the greatest number of inhabitants, maintains, that as a much greater
proportion of the people were employed in agriculture among the ancients
than the moderns, there must have been more food and consequently more
human beings. It is almost needless, after so much has been written on
this matter, to explain at length the fallacy of this reasoning. The
richest and most populous states are those of which the smallest
proportion of the people are employed in agriculture. A decrease of the
comparative number employed in procuring the necessaries of life is the
mark of increase in wealth and abundance of all things, and is
necessarily accompanied either by a proportionally improved agriculture,
or the purchase of food from poorer communities.

In the subsequent editions of the "Discourses," Hume acknowledges the
merit of Wallace's book, saying, "So learned a refutation would have
made the author suspect that his reasonings were entirely overthrown,
had he not used the precaution, from the beginning, to keep himself on
the sceptical side; and, having taken this advantage of the ground, he
was enabled, though with much inferior forces, to preserve himself from
a total defeat."

[365:1] See above, p. 239.

[365:2] Projet d'un Dime Royale, 4to, 1707--a project for abolishing the
feudal imposts and exemptions, tithes, and internal transit duties, and
levying a general revenue. "Projet," says the Dictionnaire Historique,
"digne d'un bon patriote, mais dont l'exécution est très-difficile." In
Hume's notes of his early reading, we find him referring to Vauban, see
p. 131.

[365:3] Discours Politiques traduits de L'Anglais, par M. D' M***
Amsterdam, 1753. Querard--_La France Litteraire_.

[365:4] With the same title as the above. It was reprinted at Berlin in

[366:1] See the letter in the Appendix.

[366:2] There is evidence of the lasting hold which the Discourses had
taken on the minds of the French, in the appearance of a new translation
so late as 1766, with the title, "Essais sur le Commerce; le Luxe;
l'argent; l'intérêt de l'argent; les impots; le crédit public, et la
balance du commerce; par M. David Hume," published at Amsterdam in 1766,
and Paris in 1767. Querard attributes this translation to a Mademoiselle
de la Chaux. So far as we are entitled to judge of a translation into a
foreign language, this one seems to be very spirited, speaking through
French idioms and ideas, and ingeniously overcoming the very few
conventionalisms which could not have been avoided by a native of
Britain, speaking of British trade and finance.


1752-1755. Æt. 41-44.

     Appointment as keeper of the Advocates' Library--His Duties--
     Commences the History of England--Correspondence with Adam
     Smith and others on the History--Generosity to Blacklock the
     Poet--Quarrel with the Faculty of Advocates--Publication of
     the First Volume of the History--Its reception--Continues
     the History--Controversial and Polemical attacks--Attempt
     to subject him, along with Kames, to the Discipline of
     Ecclesiastical Courts--The Leader of the attack--Home's
     "Douglas"--The first Edinburgh Review.

"In 1752," says Hume in his "own life," "the Faculty of Advocates chose
me their librarian, an office from which I received little or no
emolument, but which gave me the command of a large library."[367:1] We
have a very glowing account of the contest for this appointment from
his own pen in the following letter:


"_Edinburgh, February 4th, 1752._

"DEAR DOCTOR,--I have been ready to burst with vanity and self-conceit
this week past; and being obliged from decorum to keep a strict watch
over myself, and check all eruptions of that kind, I really begin to
find my health impaired by it, and perceive that there is an absolute
necessity for breathing a vein, and giving a loose to my inclination.
You shall therefore be my physician, "Dum podagricus fit pugil et
medicum urget." You must sustain the overflowings of my pride; and I
expect, too, that by a little flattery you are to help nature in her
discharge, and draw forth a still greater flux of the peccant matter.
'Tis not on my account alone you are to take part in this great event;
philosophy, letters, science, virtue, triumph along with me, and have
now in this one singular instance, brought over even the people from the
side of bigotry and superstition.

"This is a very pompous exordium, you see; but what will you say when I
tell you that all this is occasioned by my obtaining a petty office of
forty or fifty guineas a-year. Since Caligula of lunatic memory, who
triumphed on account of the cockle shells which he gathered on the sea
shore, no one has ever erected a trophy for so small an advantage. But
judge not by appearances! perhaps you will think, when you know all the
circumstances, that this success is both as extraordinary in itself, and
as advantageous to me, as any thing which could possibly have happened.

"You have probably heard that my friends in Glasgow, contrary to my
opinion and advice, undertook to get me elected into that college; and
they had succeeded, in spite of the violent and solemn remonstrances of
the clergy, if the Duke of Argyle had had courage to give me the least
countenance. Immediately upon the back of this failure, which should
have blasted for some time all my pretensions, the office of library
keeper to the Faculty of Advocates fell vacant, a genteel office, though
of small revenue; and as this happened suddenly, my name was immediately
set up by my friends without my knowledge. The President, and the Dean
of Faculty his son, who used to rule absolutely in this body of
advocates, formed an aversion to the project, because it had not come
from them; and they secretly engaged the whole party called squadroney
against me. The bigots joined them, and both together set up a gentleman
of character, and an advocate, and who had great favour on both these
accounts. The violent cry of deism, atheism, and scepticism, was raised
against me; and 'twas represented that my election would be giving the
sanction of the greatest and most learned body of men in this country
to my profane and irreligious principles. But what was more dangerous,
my opponents entered into a regular concert and cabal against me; while
my friends were contented to speak well of their project in general,
without having once formed a regular list of the electors, or considered
of the proper methods of engaging them. Things went on in this negligent
manner till within six days of the election, when they met together and
found themselves in some danger of being outnumbered; immediately upon
which they raised the cry of indignation against the opposite party; and
the public joined them so heartily, that our antagonists durst show
their heads in no companies nor assemblies: expresses were despatched to
the country, assistance flocked to us from all quarters, and I carried
the election by a considerable majority, to the great joy of all
bystanders. When faction and party enter into a cause, the smallest
trifle becomes important. Nothing since the rebellion has ever so much
engaged the attention of this town, except Provost Stewart's trial; and
there scarce is a man whose friendship or acquaintance I would desire,
who has not given me undoubted proofs of his concern and regard.

"What is more extraordinary, the cry of religion could not hinder the
ladies from being violently my partisans, and I owe my success in a
great measure to their solicitations. One has broke off all commerce
with her lover, because he voted against me! and W. Lockhart, in a
speech to the Faculty, said that there was no walking the streets, nor
even enjoying one's own fireside, on account of their importunate zeal.
The town says, that even his bed was not safe for him, though his wife
was cousin-german to my antagonist.

"'Twas vulgarly given out, that the contest was betwixt Deists and
Christians; and when the news of my success came to the Play-house, the
whisper ran that the Christians were defeated. Are you not surprised
that we could keep our popularity, notwithstanding this imputation,
which my friends could not deny to be well founded?

"The whole body of cadies bought flambeux, and made illuminations to
mark their pleasure at my success; and next morning I had the drums and
town music at my door, to express their joy, as they said, of my being
made a great man. They could not imagine, that so great a fray could be
raised about so mere a trifle.

"About a fortnight before, I had published a Discourse of the Protestant
Succession, wherein I had very liberally abused both Whigs and Tories;
yet I enjoyed the favour of both parties.

"Such, dear Doctor, is the triumph of your friend; yet, amidst all this
greatness and glory, even though master of 30,000 volumes, and
possessing the smiles of a hundred fair ones, in this very pinnacle of
human grandeur and felicity, I cast a favourable regard on you, and
earnestly desire your friendship and good-will: a little flattery too,
from so eminent a hand, would be very acceptable to me. You know you are
somewhat in my debt, in that particular. The present I made you of my
Inquiry, was calculated both as a mark of my regard, and as a snare to
catch a little incense from you. Why do you put me to the necessity of
giving it to myself?

"Please tell General St. Clair, that W. St. Clair, the Advocate, voted
for me on his account; but his nephew, Sir David, was so excessively
holy, that nothing could bring him over from the opposite party, for
which he is looked down upon a little by the fashionable company in
town. But he is a very pretty fellow, and will soon regain the little
ground he has lost.

"I am, dear Doctor, yours sincerely."

This letter is evidently but half serious. That there was a good deal of
contest and caballing is pretty clear; and it is equally clear that Hume
took a deep interest in the result: but he appears to have been inclined
to laugh a little at his own fervour, and to hide the full extent of his
feelings under a cloud of playful exaggeration.

The Advocates' Library, which is now probably next in extent in Britain
after the Bodleian, cannot then have borne any great proportion to its
present size. It had, however, existed for upwards of seventy years, and
was undoubtedly the largest collection of books in Scotland. It was
rich, perhaps unrivalled, in the works of the civilians and canonists,
and possessed, what was more valuable to Hume, a considerable body of
British historical literature, printed and MS.[373:1] Hume's duties must
have involved some attention, not only to the classification and custody
of the books, but to the arrangements for making them accessible to the
members of the Faculty, as numerous entries in his hand are to be found
in the receipt book for borrowed books.[373:2]

Hume informs us, that the stores thus put at his command enabled him to
put his historical designs in practice, by commencing the "History of
England." We shall now find a great part of his correspondence devoted
to the "History of the House of Stuart," which appears to have been
commenced early in 1752. The following is the earliest extant letter to


"_24th Sept. 1752._

"DEAR SIR,--I confess I was once of the same opinion with you, and
thought that the best period to begin an English history was about Henry
the Seventh. But you will please to observe, that the change which then
happened in public affairs, was very insensible, and did not display its
influence till many years afterwards. 'Twas under James that the House
of Commons began first to raise their head, and then the quarrel betwixt
privilege and prerogative commenced. The government, no longer oppressed
by the enormous authority of the crown, displayed its genius; and the
factions which then arose, having an influence on our present affairs,
form the most curious, interesting, and instructive part of our history.
The preceding events, or causes, may easily be shown, in a reflection or
review, which may be artfully inserted in the body of the work; and the
whole, by that means, be rendered more compact and uniform. I confess,
that the subject appears to me very fine; and I enter upon it with great
ardour and pleasure. You need not doubt of my perseverance.

"I am just now diverted for a moment, by correcting my 'Essays Moral and
Political,' for a new edition. If any thing occur to you to be inserted
or retrenched, I shall be obliged to you for the hint. In case you
should not have the last edition by you, I shall send you a copy of it.
In that edition I was engaged to act contrary to my judgment, in
retaining the sixth and seventh Essays,[375:1] which I had resolved to
throw out, as too frivolous for the rest, and not very agreeable
neither, even in that trifling manner: but Millar, my bookseller, made
such protestations against it, and told me how much he had heard them
praised by the best judges, that the bowels of a parent melted, and I
preserved them alive.

"All the rest of Bolingbroke's works went to the press last week, as
Millar informs me. I confess my curiosity is not much raised.

"I had almost lost your letter by its being wrong directed. I received
it late, which was the reason why you got not sooner a copy of Joannes
Magnus. Direct to me in Riddal's Land, Lawnmarket. I am, dear Sir, yours



"DEAR DOCTOR,--I need not inform you, that in certain polite countries,
a custom prevails, of writing _lettres de la nouvelle année_, and that
many advantages result from this practice, which may seem merely
ceremonious and formal. Acquaintance is thereby kept up, friendship
revived, quarrels extinguished, negligence atoned for, and
correspondences renewed. A man who has been so long conscious of his
sins, that he knows not how to return into the way of salvation, taking
advantage of this great jubilee, wipes off all past offences, and
obtains plenary indulgence; instances are not wanting of such reclaimed
sinners, who have afterwards proved the greatest saints, and have even
heaped up many works of supererogation. Will you allow me, therefore,
dear Doctor, in consideration of my present penitence, and hopes of my
future amendment, to address myself to you, and to wish you many and
happy new years, _multos et felices_. May pleasures spiritual
(_spirituels_) multiply upon you without a decay of the carnal. May
riches increase without an augmentation of desires. May your chariot
still roll along without a failure of your limbs. May your tongue in due
time acquire the _social sweet garrulity_ of age, without your teeth
losing the sharpness and keenness of youth. May ---- but you yourself
will best supply the last prayer, whether it should be for the recovery
or continuance of the blessing which I hint at. In either case, may your
prayer be granted, even though it should extend to the resurrection of
the dead.

"I must now set you an example, and speak of myself. By this I mean that
you are to speak to me of yourself. I shall exult and triumph to you a
little, that I have now at last--being turned of forty, to my own
honour, to that of learning, and to that of the present age--arrived at
the dignity of being a householder. About seven months ago, I got a
house of my own, and completed a regular family; consisting of a head,
viz. myself, and two inferior members, a maid and a cat. My sister has
since joined me, and keeps me company. With frugality I can reach, I
find, cleanliness, warmth, light, plenty, and contentment. What would
you have more? Independence? I have it in a supreme degree. Honour? that
is not altogether wanting. Grace? that will come in time. A wife? that
is none of the indispensable requisites of life. Books? that _is_ one of
them; and I have more than I can use. In short, I cannot find any
blessing of consequence which I am not possessed of, in a greater or
less degree; and without any great effort of philosophy, I may be easy
and satisfied.

"As there is no happiness without occupation, I have begun a work which
will employ me several years, and which yields me much satisfaction.
'Tis a History of Britain, from the Union of the Crowns to the present
time. I have already finished the reign of King James. My friends
flatter me (by this I mean that they don't flatter me) that I have
succeeded. You know that there is no post of honour in the English
Parnassus more vacant than that of history. Style, judgment,
impartiality, care--every thing is wanting to our historians; and even
Rapin, during this latter period, is extremely deficient. I make my work
very concise, after the manner of the ancients. It divides into three
very moderate volumes: one to end with the death of Charles the First;
the second at the Revolution; the third at the Accession,[378:1] for I
dare come no nearer the present times. The work will neither please the
Duke of Bedford nor James Fraser; but I hope it will please you and
posterity. Κτῆμα εις ἀεὶ.

"So, dear Doctor, after having mended my pen, and bit my nails, I return
to the narration of parliamentary factions, or court intrigues, or civil
wars, and bid you heartily adieu.

"_Edinburgh, Riddal's Land, 5th January, 1753._

"P.S.--When I say that I dare come no nearer the present time than the
Accession, you are not to imagine that I am afraid either of danger or
offence; I hope, in many instances, that I have shown myself to be above
all laws of prudence and discretion. I only mean, that I should be
afraid of committing mistakes, in writing of so recent a period, by
reason of the want of materials."[379:1]


"_Edinburgh, 6th March, 1753._

"DEAR DOCTOR,--This is delivered to you by my friend Mr.
Wedderburn,[379:2] who makes a jaunt to London, partly with a view to
study, partly to entertainment. I thought I could not do him a better
office, nor more suitable to both these purposes, than to recommend him
to the friendship and acquaintance of a man of learning and
conversation. He is young:

                       'Mais dans les ames bien nées
     La vertue n'attend point le nombre des années.'

It will be a great obligation, both to him and me, if you give him
encouragement to see you frequently; and, after that, I doubt not you
will think that you owe me an obligation--

     'La in giovenile corpo senile senno.'

"But I will say no more of him, lest my letter fall into the same fault
which may be remarked in his behaviour and conduct in life; the only
fault which has been remarked in them, that of promising so much that it
will be difficult for him to support it. You will allow that he must
have been guilty of some error of this kind, when I tell you that the
man, with whose friendship and company I have thought myself very much
favoured, and whom I recommend to you as a friend and companion, is just
twenty. I am, dear Doctor, your affectionate friend and servant."[379:3]


"_Jack's Land, 28th June, 1753._

"DEAR SIR,--I am to give you great and very hearty thanks for your care
in providing for my cousin, at my desire. The quickness in doing it, and
the many obliging circumstances attending that good office, I shall not
readily forget. What is usual, they say, makes little impression; but
that this rule admits of exceptions, I feel upon every instance of your

"Mr. Mure told me that you had undertaken to get satisfaction with
regard to the old English _subsidies_. I cannot satisfy myself on that
head; but I find that all historians and antiquarians are as much at a
loss. The nobility, I observe, paid according to their rank and quality,
not their estates. The counties were subjected to no valuation; but it
was in the power of the commissioners to sink the sums demanded upon
every individual, without raising it upon others; and they practised
this art when discontented with the court, as Charles complains of with
regard to the subsidies voted by his third parliament: yet it seems
certain that there must have been some rule of estimation. What was it?
Why was it so variable? Lord Strafford raised an Irish subsidy from
£12,000 to £40,000, by changing the rule of valuation; but the Irish
Parliament, after his impeachment, brought it down again: if Mr. Harding
undertakes the solution of this matter, it will be requisite to have
these difficulties in his eye. I am glad to hear that we are to have
your company here this summer, and that I shall have an opportunity of
talking over this, and many other subjects, where I want your advice and
opinion. The more I advance in my work, the more I am convinced that the
history of England has never yet been written; not only for style,
which is notorious to all the world, but also for matter; such is the
ignorance and partiality of all our historians. Rapin, whom I had an
esteem for, is totally despicable. I may be liable to the reproach of
ignorance, but I am certain of escaping that of partiality: the truth
is, there is so much reason to blame, and praise, alternately, king and
parliament, that I am afraid the mixture of both, in my composition,
being so equal, may pass sometimes for an affectation, and not the
result of judgment and evidence. Of this you shall be judge; for I am
resolved to encroach on your leisure and patience;

     Quem vero arripuit, tenet occiditque legendo.

Let me hear of you as you pass through the town, that we may concert
measures for my catching you idle, and without company, at Kirkcaldy. I
am," &c.[381:1]

The rapidity with which the first volume of the "History of England" was
composed and printed, has been the object both of surprise and censure.
Hume's labours at this time must have been intense; and during the whole
of the period in which he was engaged in the different departments of
this great work--from 1752 to 1763--his correspondence is more scanty
than at other periods of his history. Four months elapse between the
letter last printed, and the next in order which has been preserved; and
in the latter, we find him very wittily alluding to those great labours
which he finds absorbing the petty duties of social intercourse.


"_28th October, 1753._

"DEAR DOCTOR,--I know not if you remember the giant in Rabelais, who
swallowed every morning a windmill to breakfast, and at last was choked
upon a pound of melted butter, hot from an oven. I am going to compare
myself to that giant. I think nothing of despatching a quarto in fifteen
or eighteen months, but am not able to compose a letter once in two
years; and am very industrious to keep up a correspondence with
posterity, whom I know nothing about, and who, probably, will concern
themselves very little about me, while I allow myself to be forgot by my
friends, whom I value and regard. However, it is some satisfaction that
I can give you an account of my silence, with which I own I reproach
myself. I have now brought down my History to the death of Charles the
First: and here I intend to pause for some time; to read, and think, and
correct; to look forward and backward; and to adopt the most moderate
and most reasonable sentiments on all subjects. I am sensible that the
history of the two first Stuarts will be most agreeable to the Tories;
that of the two last to the Whigs; but we must endeavour to be above any
regard either to Whigs or Tories.

"Having thus satisfied your curiosity--for I will take it for granted
that your curiosity extends towards me--I must now gratify my own. I was
very anxious to hear that you had been molested with some disorders this
summer. I was told that you expected they would settle into a fit of the
gout. It is lucky where that distemper overtakes a man in his chariot:
we foot-walkers make but an awkward figure with it. I hope nobody has
the impertinence to say to you, Physician, cure thyself. All the world
allows that privilege to the gout, that it is not to be cured: it is
itself a physician; and, of course, sometimes cures and sometimes kills.
I fancy one fit of the gout would much increase your stock of
interjections, and render that part of speech, which in common grammars
is usually the most barren, with you more copious than either nouns or

"I must tell you good news of our friend Sir Harry. I am informed that
his talent for eloquence will not rust for want of employment: he bids
fair for another seat of the house; and what is the charming part of the
story, it is General Anstruther's seat which he is to obtain. He has
made an attack on the General's boroughs, and, by the assistance of his
uncle's interest and purse, is likely to prevail. Is not this delicious
revenge? It brings to my mind the story of the Italian, who reading that
passage of Scripture, 'Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord,' burst forth,
'Ay, to be sure; it is too sweet for any mortal.' I own I envy Sir
Harry: I never can hope to hate any body so perfectly as he does that
renowned commander; and no victory, triumph, vengeance, success, can be
more complete. Are not you pleased too? Pray, anatomize your own mind,
and tell me how many grains of your satisfaction is owing to malice, and
how many ounces to friendship. I leave the rest of this paper to be
filled up by Edmonstone. I am, &c.

"P.S.--After keeping this by me eight days, I have never been able to
meet with Edmonstone. I must, therefore, send off my own part of a
letter which we projected in common. I shall only tell you, that I have
since seen Mr. Oswald, who assures me that Anstruther's defeat is

The following letter to the same friend is a curious instance of Hume's
diligent efforts to attain a correct English style:--


"_Edinburgh, 8th Dec. 1753._

"DEAR DOCTOR,--I am at present reduced to the utmost straits and
difficulties. I know people are commonly ashamed to own such distresses.
But to whom can one have recourse in his misfortunes, but to his
friends? and who can I account my friend, if not Dr. Clephane? not a
friend only in the sunshine of fortune, but also in the shade of
adversity: not a security only in a calm; but in a storm a sheet-anchor.
But, to cut short all prefaces,--though, commonly, beggars and authors
abound with them, and I unite both these qualities,--the occasion of my
distress is as follows:

"You know that the word _enough_, or _enuff_, as it is pronounced by the
English, we commonly, in Scotland, when it is applied to number,
pronounce enow. Thus we would say: such a one has books enow for study,
but not leisure enuff. Now I want to know, whether the English make the
same distinction. I observed the distinction already in Lord
Shaftesbury; 'Though there be doors enow,' says he, 'to get out of
life;' and thinking that this distinction of spelling words, that had
both different letters, and different pronunciation, was an improvement,
I followed it in my learned productions, though I knew it was not usual.
But there has lately arisen in me a doubt, that this is a mere
Scotticism; and that the English always pronounce the word, as if it
were wrote enuff, whether it be applied to numbers or to quantity. To
you, therefore, I apply in this doubt and perplexity. Though I make no
question that your ear is well purged from all native impurities, yet
trust not entirely to it, but ask any of your English friends, that
frequent good company, and let me know their opinion.

"It is a rule of Vaugelas always to consult the ladies, rather than men,
in all doubts of language; and he asserts, that they have a more
delicate sense of the propriety of expressions. The same author advises
us, if we desire any one's opinion in any grammatical difficulty, not to
ask him directly; for that confounds his memory, and makes him forget
the use, which is the true standard of language. The best way, says he,
is to engage him as it were by accident, to employ the expression about
which we are in doubt. Now, if you are provided of any expedient, for
making the ladies pronounce the word enough, applied both to quantity
and number, I beg you to employ it, and to observe carefully and
attentively, whether they make any difference in the pronunciation. I
am, &c.

"P.S.--I am quite in earnest in desiring a solution of my grammatical

The gentle sensitive character, and hard fate of poor blind Thomas
Blacklock, the poet, operated strongly on Hume's kindly feelings. He
busied himself with many schemes for enabling his unfortunate friend to
gain a subsistence which might make him enjoy "the glorious privilege of
being independent:" but with small success. This appears to be the only
pursuit which he permitted to divert his attention, at this time, from
his great work. We find him writing the following letter to a person
whose position in society might enable him to do some substantial
service to Blacklock.

HUME _to_ MATTHEW SHARP _of Hoddam_.

"_Edinburgh, 25th February, 1754._

"DEAR SIR,--I have enclosed this letter under one to my friend Mr.
Blacklock, who has retired to Dumfries, and proposes to reside there for
some time. His character and situation are no doubt known to you, and
challenge the greatest regard from every one who has either good taste
or sentiments of humanity. He has printed a collection of poems, which
his friends are endeavouring to turn to the best account for him. Had he
published them in the common way, their merit would have recommended
them sufficiently to common sale; but, in that case, the greatest part
of the profit, it is well known, would have redounded to the
booksellers. His friends, therefore, take copies from him, and
distribute them among their acquaintances. The poems, if I have the
smallest judgment, are, many of them, extremely beautiful, and all of
them remarkable for correctness and propriety. Every man of taste, from
the merit of the performance, would be inclined to purchase them: every
benevolent man, from the situation of the author, would wish to
encourage him; and, as for those who have neither taste nor benevolence,
they should be forced, by importunity, to do good against their will. I
must, therefore, recommend it to you to send for a cargo of these poems,
which the author's great modesty will prevent him from offering to you,
and to engage your acquaintance to purchase them. But, dear sir, I would
fain go farther: I would fain presume upon our friendship, (which now
begins to be ancient between us,) and recommend to your civilities a man
who does honour to his country by his talents, and disgraces it by the
little encouragement he has hitherto met with. He is a man of very
extensive knowledge and of singular good dispositions; and his
poetical, though very much to be admired, is the least part of his
merit. He is very well qualified to instruct youth, by his acquaintance
both with the languages and sciences; and possesses so many arts of
supplying the want of sight, that that imperfection would be no
hinderance. Perhaps he may entertain some such project in Dumfries; and
be assured you could not do your friends a more real service than by
recommending them to him. Whatever scheme he may choose to embrace, I
was desirous you should be prepossessed in his favour, and be willing to
lend him your countenance and protection, which I am sensible would be
of great advantage to him.

"Since I saw you, I have not been idle. I have endeavoured to make some
use of the library which was intrusted to me, and have employed myself
in a composition of British History, beginning with the union of the two
crowns. I have finished the reigns of James and Charles, and will soon
send them to the press. I have the impudence to pretend that I am of no
party, and have no bias. Lord Elibank says, that I am a moderate Whig,
and Mr. Wallace that I am a candid Tory. I was extremely sorry that I
could not recommend your friend to Director Hume,[387:1] as Mr. Cummin
desired me. I have never exchanged a word with that gentleman since I
carried Jemmy Kirkpatrick to him; and our acquaintance has entirely
dropt. I am," &c.[387:2]

Another letter by Hume, longer and fuller of detail, though it has
already appeared in a work well known and much read,[387:3] seems to
demand insertion here. It is addressed to the author of Polymetis and
friend of Pope.


     _Edinburgh, Oct. 15, 1754._

     SIR,--The agreeable productions, with which you have
     entertained the public, have long given me a desire of being
     known to you: but this desire has been much increased by my
     finding you engage so warmly in protecting a man of merit, so
     helpless as Mr. Blacklock. I hope you will indulge me in the
     liberty I have taken of writing to you. I shall very willingly
     communicate all the particulars I know of him; though others,
     by their longer acquaintance with him, are better qualified
     for this undertaking.

     The first time I had ever seen or heard of Mr. Blacklock was
     about twelve years ago, when I met him in a visit to two young
     ladies. They informed me of his case, as far as they could in
     a conversation carried on in his presence. I soon found him to
     possess a very delicate taste, along with a passionate love of
     learning. Dr. Stevenson had, at that time, taken him under his
     protection; and he was perfecting himself in the Latin tongue.
     I repeated to him Mr. Pope's elegy to the memory of an
     unfortunate lady, which I happened to have by heart: and
     though I be a very bad reciter, I saw it affected him
     extremely. His eyes, indeed, the great index of the mind,
     could express no passion: but his whole body was thrown into
     agitation. That poem was equally qualified to touch the
     delicacy of his taste, and the tenderness of his feelings. I
     left the town a few days after; and being long absent from
     Scotland, I neither saw nor heard of him for several years. At
     last an acquaintance of mine told me of him, and said that he
     would have waited on me, if his excessive modesty had not
     prevented him. He soon appeared what I have ever since found
     him, a very elegant genius, of a most affectionate grateful
     disposition, a modest backward temper, accompanied with that
     delicate pride, which so naturally attends virtue in distress.
     His great moderation and frugality, along with the generosity
     of a few persons, particularly Dr. Stevenson and Provost
     Alexander, had hitherto enabled him to subsist. All his good
     qualities are diminished, or rather perhaps embellished, by a
     great want of knowledge of the world. Men of very benevolent
     or very malignant dispositions are apt to fall into this
     error; because they think all mankind like themselves: but I
     am sorry to say that the former are apt to be most egregiously

     I have asked him whether he retained any idea of light or
     colours. He assured me that there remained not the least
     traces of them. I found, however, that all the poets, even the
     most descriptive ones, such as Milton and Thomson, were read
     by him with pleasure. Thomson is one of his favourites. I
     remembered a story in Locke of a blind man, who said that he
     knew very well what scarlet was: it was like the sound of a
     trumpet. I therefore asked him, whether he had not formed
     associations of that kind, and whether he did not connect
     colour and sound together. He answered, that as he met so
     often, both in books and conversation, with the terms
     expressing colours, he had formed some false associations,
     which supported him when he read, wrote, or talked of colours:
     but that the associations were of the intellectual kind. The
     illumination of the sun, for instance, he supposed to resemble
     the presence of a friend; the cheerful colour of green, to be
     like an amiable sympathy, &c. It was not altogether easy for
     me to understand him: though I believe, in much of our own
     thinking, there will be found some species of association.
     'Tis certain we always think in some language, viz. in that
     which is most familiar to us; and 'tis but too frequent to
     substitute words instead of ideas.

     If you was acquainted with any mystic, I fancy you would think
     Mr. Blacklock's case less paradoxical. The mystics certainly
     have associations by which their discourse, which seems jargon
     to us, becomes intelligible to themselves. I believe they
     commonly substitute the feelings of a common amour, in the
     place of their heavenly sympathies: and if they be not belied,
     the type is very apt to engross their hearts, and exclude the
     thing typified.

     Apropos to this passion, I once said to my friend, Mr.
     Blacklock, that I was sure he did not treat love as he did
     colours; he did not speak of it without feeling it. There
     appeared too much reality in all his expressions to allow that
     to be suspected. "Alas!" said he, with a sigh, "I could never
     bring my heart to a proper tranquillity on that head." Your
     passion, replied I, will always be better founded than ours,
     who have sight: we are so foolish as to allow ourselves to be
     captivated by exterior beauty: nothing but the beauty of the
     mind can affect you. "Not altogether neither," said he: "the
     sweetness of the voice has a mighty effect upon me: the
     symptoms of youth too, which the touch discovers, have great
     influence. And though such familiar approaches would be
     ill-bred in others, the girls of my acquaintance indulge me,
     on account of my blindness, with the liberty of running over
     them with my hand. And I can by that means judge entirely of
     their shape. However, no doubt, humour, and temper, and sense,
     and other beauties of the mind, have an influence upon me as
     upon others."

     You may see from this conversation how difficult it is even
     for a blind man to be a perfect Platonic. But though Mr.
     Blacklock never wants his Evanthe, who is the real object of
     his poetical addresses, I am well assured that all his
     passions have been perfectly consistent with the purest virtue
     and innocence. His life indeed has been in all respects
     perfectly irreproachable.

     He had got some rudiments of Latin in his youth, but could not
     easily read a Latin author till he was near twenty, when Dr.
     Stevenson put him to a grammar school in Edinburgh. He got a
     boy to lead him, whom he found very docible; and he taught him
     Latin. This boy accompanied him to the Greek class in the
     College, and they both learned Greek. Mr. Blacklock
     understands that language perfectly, and has read with a very
     lively pleasure all the Greek authors of taste. Mr. William
     Alexander, second son to our late provost, and present member,
     was so good as to teach him French; and he is quite master of
     that language. He has a very tenacious memory and a quick
     apprehension. The young students of the College were very
     desirous of his company, and he reaped the advantage of their
     eyes, and they of his instructions. He is a very good
     philosopher, and in general possesses all branches of
     erudition, except the mathematical. The lad who first attended
     him having left him, he has got another boy, whom he is
     beginning to instruct; and he writes me that he is extremely
     pleased with his docility. The boy's parents, who are people
     of substance, have put him into Mr. Blacklock's service,
     chiefly on account of the virtuous and learned education which
     they know he gives his pupils.

     As you are so generous to interest yourself in this poor man's
     case, who is so much an object both of admiration and
     compassion, I must inform you entirely of his situation. He
     has gained about one hundred guineas by this last edition of
     his poems, and this is the whole stock he has in the world. He
     has also a bursary, about six pounds a-year. I begun a
     subscription for supporting him during five years; and I made
     out twelve guineas a-year among my acquaintance. That is a
     most terrible undertaking; and some unexpected refusals I met
     with, damped me, though they have not quite discouraged me
     from proceeding. We have the prospect of another bursary of
     ten pounds a-year in the gift of the exchequer; but to the
     shame of human nature, we met with difficulties. Noblemen
     interpose with their valet-de-chambres or nurses' sons, who
     they think would be burdens on themselves. Could we ensure but
     thirty pounds a-year to this fine genius and man of virtue, he
     would be easy and happy: for his wants are none but those
     which Nature has given him, though she has unhappily loaded
     him with more than other men.

     His want of knowledge of the world, and the great delicacy of
     his temper, render him unfit for managing boys or teaching a
     school: he would retain no authority. Had it not been for this
     defect, he could have been made professor of Greek in the
     University of Aberdeen.

     Your scheme of publishing his poems by subscription, I hope
     will turn to account. I think it impossible he could want,
     were his case more generally known. I hope it will be so by
     your means. Sir George Lyttleton, who has so fine a taste, and
     so much benevolence of temper, would certainly, were the case
     laid before him in a just light, lend his assistance, or
     rather indeed quite overcome all difficulties. I know not,
     whether you have the happiness of that gentleman's

     As you are a lover of letters, I shall inform you of a piece
     of news, which will be agreeable to you: we may hope to see
     good tragedies in the English language. A young man called
     Hume, a clergyman of this country, discovers a very fine
     genius for that species of composition. Some years ago, he
     wrote a tragedy called Agis, which some of the best judges,
     such as the Duke of Argyle, Sir George Lyttleton, Mr. Pitt,
     very much approved of. I own, though I could perceive fine
     strokes in that tragedy, I never could in general bring myself
     to like it: the author, I thought, had corrupted his taste by
     the imitation of Shakspere, whom he ought only to have
     admired. But the same author has composed a new tragedy on a
     subject of invention; and here he appears a true disciple of
     Sophocles and Racine. I hope in time he will vindicate the
     English stage from the reproach of barbarism.

     I shall be very glad if the employing my name in your account
     of Mr. Blacklock can be of any service. I am, Sir, with great
     regard, &c.

     P.S.--Mr. Blacklock is very docible, and glad to receive
     corrections. I am only afraid he is too apt to have a
     deference for other people's judgment. I did not see the last
     edition till it was printed; but I have sent him some
     objections to passages, for which he was very thankful. I also
     desired him to retrench some poems entirely; such as the Ode
     on Fortitude, and some others, which seemed to me inferior to
     the rest of the collection. You will very much oblige him, if
     you use the same freedom. I remarked to him some Scotticisms;
     but you are better qualified for doing him that service. I
     have not seen any of his essays; and am afraid his prose is
     inferior to his poetry. He will soon be in town, when I shall
     be enabled to write you further particulars.

In 1756, Spence published his edition of Blacklock's poems, with a long
introduction, in which all allusion to Hume's letter, and his services
to Blacklock, is carefully avoided. Blacklock was subsequently
alienated from Hume, and was accused by some of ingratitude; while
others threw the odium of the dispute on Hume, who, they said, was
mortified because Spence's edition of Blacklock's Poems was not
dedicated to him. Whoever may have been in the wrong, the latter
supposition is erroneous, as we shall find Hume at a much later period
conferring services on Blacklock, who in his turn gratefully
acknowledges them. The zeal of Spence to blot from the work any mark
that might connect it with the name of Hume, is alluded to with
good-natured sarcasm, in a letter to Dr. Clephane, farther on.

The following letter, connected with another curious circumstance,
describes an incident in Hume's conduct to Blacklock.


"_Edinburgh, 17th December, 1754._

"DEAR SIR,--I told you that I intended to apply to the Faculty for
redress; and, if refused, to throw up the library. I was assured that
two of the curators intended before the Faculty to declare their
willingness to redress me, after which there could be no difficulty to
gain a victory over the other two. But before the day came, the Dean
prevailed on them to change their resolution, and joined them himself
with all his interest. I saw it then impossible to succeed, and
accordingly retracted my application. But being equally unwilling to
lose the use of the books, and to bear an indignity, I retain the
office, but have given Blacklock, our blind poet, a bond of annuity for
the salary. I have now put it out of these malicious fellows' power to
offer me any indignity, while my motive for remaining in this office is
so apparent. I should be glad that you approve of my conduct. I own I
am satisfied with myself."[394:1]

The following minute or memorandum, in Hume's handwriting,[394:2]
explains the ground of his disgust. One of the "malicious fellows"
appears to have been Lord Monboddo; another, Sir David Dalrymple,
afterwards Lord Hailes, with whom he never was on very cordial terms.

"_Edinburgh, 27th June, 1754._

"This day Mr. James Burnet, [Mr. Thomas Millar,] and Sir David
Dalrymple, curators of the library, (then follow some arrangement as to
meetings,) having gone through some accounts of books, lately bought for
the library, and finding therein the three following French books, Les
Contes de La Fontaine, L'Histoire Amoureuse des Gaules, and L'Écumoire,
they ordain that the said books be struck out of the catalogue of the
library, and removed from the shelves as indecent books, and unworthy of
a place in a learned library.

"And to prevent the like abuses in time to come, they appoint that after
this no books shall be bought for the library, without the authority of
a meeting of the curators in time of session, and of two of them in time
of vacation."

It involves no approval of the licentious features of French literature,
to pronounce this resolution of the curators pre-eminently absurd. A
public library, purged of every book of which any portion might offend
the taste of a well-regulated mind of the present day, would
unfortunately be very barren in the most brilliant departments of the
literature of other days and other languages. It would be wrong in the
guardians of a public library to advance to the dignity of its shelves,
those loathsome books written for the promotion of vice, of which,
though they be published by no eminent bookseller, exhibited on no
respectable counter, advertised in no newspaper, too many have found
their way, by secret avenues, into the heart of society, where they
corrupt its life-blood. But if Greece, Rome, and France,--if our own
ancestors, had a freer tone in their imaginative literature than we
have, we must yet admit their works to our libraries, if we would have
these institutions depositaries of the genius of all times and all
places. The Faculty of Advocates are probably not less virtuous at this
moment than they were in 1754, yet they have now on their shelves the
brilliant edition of all La Fontaine's works, published at Amsterdam in
1762,--so that the expurgatory zeal of the three curators, had only put
their constituents to the expense of replacing the condemned
book.[396:1] L'Écumoire may also still be found in the Advocates'
library, along with the other still more censurable works of its author,
Crebillon the younger, who was certainly a free writer, but scarcely
deserved the very opprobrious name which he obtained, of the French
Petronius. Hume was afterwards the acquaintance and correspondent of
this author, who was anxious to hear that his works were well received
in Britain. Would Hume tell him that it was considered in Edinburgh an
offence against decency, to admit one of them to a national library? The
other condemned work, which is generally attributed to Bussy Rabutin, is
not now to be found in the catalogues of the Advocates' library.[396:2]

Amidst such unpleasant interruptions he brought the first volume of his
History to a conclusion; and thus announces the fact to a friend, while
in the midst of his satisfaction he does not forget poor Blacklock.


"_Sept. 1, 1754._

"DEAR DOCTOR,--I desire you to give me joy. _Jamque opus exegi, &c._
This day I received from the press the last sheet of the volume of
history which I intended to publish; and I am already well advanced in
composing the second volume. It was impossible for the booksellers to
refuse to several the sight of the sheets as we went on; and Whig and
Tory, and Tory and Whig, (for I will alternately give them the
precedence,) combine as I am told in approving of my politics. A few
Christians only (and but a few) think I speak like a Libertine in
religion: be assured I am tolerably reserved on this head. Elliot tells
me that you had entertained apprehensions of my discretion: what I had
done to forfeit with you the character of prudence, I cannot tell, but
you will see little or no occasion for any such imputation in this work.
I composed it _ad populum_, as well as _ad clerum_, and thought, that
scepticism was not in its place in an historical production. I shall
take care to convey a copy to you by the first opportunity, and shall be
very proud of your approbation, and no less pleased with your

"Our friend Aber is again to enjoy the privilege of franking after a
_hiatus valde deflendus_. Edmonstone is at Peterhead drinking the waters
for his health. Sir Harry lives among his boroughs, but not so assiduous
in his civilities as formerly; an instance of ingratitude which one
would not expect in a man of such nice honour. I was lately told, that
one day last winter he went to pay a visit to a deacon's wife, who
happened in that very instant to be gutting fish. He came up to her with
open arms, and said he hoped madam was well, and that the young ladies
her daughters were in good health. 'Oh, come not near me,' cried she,
'Sir Harry; I am in a sad pickle, as nasty as a beast.'--'Not at all,
madam,' replied he, 'you are in a very agreeable négligé.' 'Well,' said
she, 'I shall never be able to understand your fine English.'--'I mean,
madam,' returned he, 'that you are drest in a very genteel

"There is a young man of this country, Mr. Thomas Blacklock, who has
discovered a very fine genius for poetry, and under very extraordinary
circumstances. He is the son of a poor tradesman, and was born blind;
yet, notwithstanding these disadvantages, he has been able to acquire a
great knowledge of Greek, Latin, and French, and to be well acquainted
with all the classics in these languages, as well as in our own. He
published last winter a volume of Miscellanies, which all men of taste
admired extremely for their purity, elegance, and correctness; nor were
they devoid of force and invention. I sent up half-a-dozen to Dodsley,
desiring him to keep one, and to distribute the rest among men of taste
of his acquaintance. I find they have been much approved of, and that
Mr. Spence, in particular, has entertained thoughts of printing a new
edition by subscription, for the benefit of the author. You are an
acquaintance of Mr. Spence: encourage, I beseech you, so benevolent a
thought, and promote it every where by your recommendation. The young
man has a great deal of modesty, virtue, and goodness, as well as of
genius, and notwithstanding very strict frugality, is in great
necessities; but curst, or blest, with that honest pride of nature,
which makes him uneasy under obligations, and disdain all applications.
I need say no more to you. Dear Doctor, believe me, with great honesty
and affection, your friend and servant."[399:1]

Before the year 1754 came to an end, there was published, in a quarto
volume of four hundred and seventy-three pages, "The History of Great
Britain. Volume I. Containing the reigns of James I. and Charles I. By
David Hume, Esq."[399:2] He had now laid the foundation of a title to
that which all the genius and originality of his philosophical works
would never have procured for him--the reputation of a popular author.
His other works might exhibit a wider and a more original grasp of
thought: but the readers of metaphysics and ethics are a small number;
while the readers of history, and especially of the history of their own
country, are a community nearly as great as the number of those who can
read their own language. In this large market he produced his ware; and
after some hesitation on the part of those ordinary readers, who had
never known his genius as a philosopher, and of those who knew his
previous writings, but did not esteem them, it took the place of a
permanent marketable commodity--a sort of necessary of literary life.
The general reader found in it a distinct and animated narrative,
announced in a style easy, strong, and elegant. The philosopher and
statesman found in it profound and original views, such as the author of
the "Treatise of Human Nature" could not wield the pen without
occasionally dropping on his page. It was a work at once great in its
excellencies and beauties, and great in its defects; yet even the
latter circumstance swelled its fame, by producing a host of
controversial attacks, conducted by no mean champions. No author or
speaker could launch into a defence of monarchical prerogative without
triumphantly citing the opinion of Hume;--no friend of any popular
cause, from Chatham downwards, could appeal to history without
condemning his plausible perversions. No season of a debating society
has ever ended without the vexed questions he has started being
discussed in conjunction with his name. Every newspaper has recorded the
editor's opinion of the tendency of Hume's History. In reviews and
magazines, and political pamphlets, the references, laudatory or
condemnatory, are still, notwithstanding all that has been done for
British history in later times, unceasing; and some books, of no small
bulk, have been written, solely against the History, as one pamphlet is
written against another.

Of a book which is so universally known, and has been subjected to so
thorough a critical examination, both in its narrative and its
reflective parts, a detailed criticism in a work like the present would
be superfluous and unwelcome. But the great extent of the controversial
writings on the subject, the quantity of able criticism which the
controversy has produced, the new light it has frequently been the means
of throwing on portions of British history, and the variety of
contending opinions it has elicited, do, in some measure, enable one who
is partial to that kind of reading, to note slightly and fugitively the
leading opinions which this controversy has developed; and thus, looking
back through the whole vista of debate and inquiry, to describe, in
general terms, the estimate which those who have since Hume's time
studied British history to best effect, have formed of his great work.
Perhaps, for casting a glance at the general principles he has announced
as to the progress of the constitution and public opinion in Britain, as
well as the general scope and extent of his historical labours, his work
may be divided into two leading departments; the history from the
accession of the house of Tudor downwards, which he completed in 1759;
and the history anterior to that epoch, which was published at a later
period of his life. In this arrangement, the general observations will
find their place in a subsequent portion of this work; while, in the
meantime, the opinions entertained of the narrative department of the
volume, published in 1754, may be noticed.

The chief charge brought against it has been, that in describing the
great conflict which ended in the protectorate, the author has shown a
partiality to the side of the monarch, and particularly to Charles I.
and his followers; and has endeavoured to make the opposite
side--Independents, Presbyterians, Republicans, or under whatever name
they raised the banner of opposition to the court--odious and

Before Hume's day, every historian of those times took his side from the
beginning of the narrative, and proclaimed himself either the champion
or the opponent of the monarchical party. Salmon, Echard, and
Carte[401:1] wrote histories, in which, if they had spoken with decency
or temper of Oliver Cromwell, the Long Parliament, the Presbyterians, or
the Independents, they would have felt that they had as much neglected
their duty, as an advocate who, seeing some irregularity in the case of
the opposite party, fails to take advantage of it. The title-page of
Salmon announced his project: it promised "Remarks on Rapin, Burnet, and
other Republican writers, vindicating the just right of the Established
Church, and the prerogatives of the crown, against the wild schemes of
enthusiasts and levellers, no less active and diligent in promoting the
subversion of this beautiful frame of government, than their artful
predecessors in hypocrisy," &c. But Hume professed to approach the
subject as a philosopher, and to hold the balance even between Salmon
and Echard on the one side, and Oldmixon and Rapin on the other. Hence,
when it was believed that, under this air of impartiality, he masked a
battery well loaded and skilfully pointed against the principles of the
constitution, and the efforts of those who had fought for freedom, a
louder cry of indignation was raised against him than had ever assailed
the avowed retainers of the anti-popular cause.

The tendency of the History was unexpected and inexplicable. In his
philosophical examination of the principles of government, written in
times of hot party feeling, he had discarded the theories of arbitrary
prerogative and divine right with bold and calm disdain. His utilitarian
theory represented the good of the people, not the will or advantage of
any one man, or small class of men, as the right object of government.
Harrison, Milton, and Sidney, had not expressed opinions more thoroughly
democratic than his. "Few things," says a critic, well accustomed to
trace literary anomalies to their causes in the minds of their authors,
"are more unaccountable, and, indeed, absurd, than that Hume should have
taken part with high church and high monarchy men. The persecutions
which he suffered in his youth from the Presbyterians, may, perhaps,
have influenced his ecclesiastical partialities.[403:1] But that he
should have sided with the Tudors and the Stuarts against the people,
seems quite inconsistent with all the great traits of his character. His
unrivalled sagacity must have looked with contempt on the preposterous
arguments by which the _jus divinum_ was maintained. His natural
benevolence must have suggested the cruelty of subjecting the enjoyments
of thousands to the caprice of one unfeeling individual; and his own
practical independence in private life, might have taught him the value
of those feelings which he has so mischievously derided."[403:2]

In truth, it does not appear that Hume had begun his work with the
intention of adopting a side in the politics of the time; and that
sympathy, rather than rational conviction or political prejudice,
dictated his partisanship. His misapprehensions regarding the state of
the constitution, and the early foundation of British liberties, may be
attributed to another cause; but in his treatment of the question
between Charles I. and his opponents, he appears to have set out with
the design of preserving a rigid neutrality; to have gradually felt his
sympathies wavering,--to have at first restrained them, then let them
sway him slightly from the even middle path, and finally allowed them to
take possession of his opinions; opinions which, in their form of
expression, still preserved that tone of calm impartiality with which
he had set out. In the work of Clarendon--a scholar, a gentleman, a
dignified and elegant writer, a man of high-toned and manly feeling--he
found an attractive guide. In looking at the structure of Hume's
narrative, we can see that Clarendon was the author, whose account of
the great conflict was chiefly present to his mind; and dwelling on his
words and ideas, he must have in some measure felt the influence of that
plausible writer. As he went on with his narrative, he found on the one
side refinement and heroism, an elevated and learned priesthood, a
chivalrous aristocracy, a refined court,--all "the divinity" that "doth
hedge a king," followed by all the sad solemnity of fallen
greatness,--an adverse contest, borne with steady courage, and
humiliation and death endured with patient magnanimity. On the other
side appeared plebeian thoughts, rude uncivil speech, barbarous and
ludicrous fanaticism, and success consummated by ungenerous triumphs.
His philosophical indifference gave way before such temptations, and he
went the way of his sympathies. Yet he never permitted himself boldly
and distinctly to profess partisanship: he still bore the badge of
neutrality; and perhaps believed that he was swerving neither to the
right hand nor to the left. An eloquent writer has thus vividly
described the tone of his History:

     Hume, without positively asserting more than he can prove,
     gives prominence to all the circumstances which can support
     his case. He glides lightly over those which are unfavourable
     to it. His own witnesses are applauded and encouraged; the
     statements which seem to throw discredit on them are
     controverted; the contradictions into which they fall are
     explained away; a clear and connected abstract of their
     evidence is given. Every thing that is offered on the other
     side is scrutinized with the utmost severity; every suspicious
     circumstance is a ground for comment and invective; what
     cannot be denied is extenuated, or passed by without notice.
     Concessions even are sometimes made; but this insidious
     candour only increases the effect of this vast mass of

Yet when there was any thing of a grand and solemn character in the
proceedings of the Republican party,--when they were not connected with
the rude guards, and their insults to the fallen majesty of England;
with the long psalms, long sermons, and long faces of the Puritans; with
Trouble-world Lilburne, Praise-God Barebones, or eccentric, stubborn,
impracticable William Prynne,--he could employ the easy majesty of his
language in surrounding them with a suiting dignity of tone; and he did
so with apparent pleasure. Witness his description of the meeting of the
Long Parliament, and of the preparations for the king's trial before the
High Court of Justice.

He seems to have felt, not unfrequently, the inconsistencies that must
be perceptible between the tone of his historical, and the political
doctrines of his philosophical works; and his attempts to reconcile them
with each other, sometimes only serve to make the difference more
conspicuous. Speaking of the act of holding judgment on Charles I., he
says, "If ever, on any occasion, it were laudable to conceal truth from
the populace, it must be confessed that the doctrine of resistance
affords such an example; and that all speculative reasoners ought to
observe, with regard to this principle, the same cautious silence which
the laws, in every species of government, have ever prescribed to
themselves." One could imagine a congress of crowned heads, or a
conclave of cardinals, adopting such a view; and resolving, at the same
moment, that it should be kept as secret as the grave. But that a man
should speak of the right of resistance as existing, and say the
knowledge of it ought not to be promulgated, and print and publish this
in a book in his own vernacular language, is surely as remarkable an
anomaly, as the history of practical contradictions can exhibit.

Owing to his opinion of the manner in which the Abbé Le Blanc had
rendered his "Political Discourses" into French, he expressed a wish, in
the following courteous letter, that the History should have the benefit
of being translated by the same hand.


"_Edinburgh, 15th October, 1754._

"SIR,--You will receive, along with this, a copy of the first volume of
my 'History of Great Britain,' which will be published next winter in
London. The honour which you did me in translating my 'Political
Discourses,' inspires me with an ambition of desiring to have this work
translated by the same excellent hand. The great curiosity of the events
related in this volume, embellished by your elegant pen, might challenge
the attention of the public. If you do not undertake this translation, I
despair of ever seeing it done in a satisfactory manner. Many
intricacies in the English government,--many customs peculiar to this
island, require explication; and it will be necessary to accompany the
translation with some notes, however short, in order to render it
intelligible to foreigners. None but a person as well acquainted as you
with England and the English constitution, can pretend to clear up
obscurities, or explain the difficulties which occur. If, at any time,
you find yourself at a loss, be so good as to inform me. I shall spare
no pains to solve all doubts; and convey all the lights which, by my
long and assiduous study of the subject, I may have acquired. The
distance betwixt us need be no impediment to this correspondence. If you
favour me frequently with your letters, I shall be able to render you
the same service as if I had the happiness of living next door to you,
and was able to inspect the whole translation. In this attempt, the
knowledge of the two languages is but one circumstance to qualify a man
for a translator. Though your attainments, in this respect, be known to
all the world, I own that I trust more to the spirit of reflection and
reasoning which you discover; and I thence expect that my performance
will not only have justice done it, but will even receive considerable
improvements as it passes through your hands. I am, with great regard,
Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant."[407:1]

The Abbé received the proposal with rapture: he offered to translate
with the zeal not only of the illustrious author's admirer, but of his
friend. He desired Hume to postpone the publication for a while in
London, and to send him the sheets with the utmost rapidity, lest he
might be forestalled by some of that numerous host of rapid penmen, who
are ready, in obedience to the commands of the booksellers, to translate
such works, without knowing English, or even French. Holland was at that
period a great book mart, and there the Abbé found rivals still more
expeditious; for he was obliged to write to Hume, at a time when he
seems to have made little or no progress with his work, stating that he
is disheartened by the prospect of the immediate appearance of a
translation in Holland, where they employ, in the rendering of excellent
books into French, people who are only fit to manufacture paper. In the
end, having encountered a host of interruptions, he intimates that he
has placed the work in the hands of another person.[408:1]


"_Oct. 18th, 1754._

"DEAR DOCTOR,--I received your kind letter, for which I thank you. Poor
Aber[408:2] is disappointed by a train of Norland finesse, alas--what
you will. I have given orders to deliver to you a copy of my History,
as soon as it arrives in London, and before it be published. Lend it not
till it be published. It contains no paradoxes, and very little
profaneness,--as little as could be expected. The Abbé Le Blanc, who has
translated some other of my pieces, intends to translate it, and the
enclosed is part of a copy I send him: excuse the freedom--you may
perhaps receive some other packets of the same kind, which you will
please to send carefully to the post-house. The General and Sir Henry
are in town, who remember you. Edmonstone is well, and I just now left
him a-bed. I may perhaps be in London for good and all in a year or two.
Show me that frugality could make £120 a-year do, and I am with you: a
man of letters ought always to live in a capital, says Bayle. I believe
I have no more to say. You'll own that my style has not become more
verbose, on account of my writing quartos. Yours affectionately,"

HUME _to_ WILLIAM MURE _of Caldwell_.

"DEAR MURE,--I had sent to Sharpe a copy of my History, of which I hope
you will tell me your opinion with freedom;

                             Finding, like a friend,
     Something to blame, and something to commend.

"The first quality of an historian, is to be true and impartial. The
next to be interesting. If you do not say that I have done both parties
justice, and if Mrs. Mure be not sorry for poor King Charles, I shall
burn all my papers and return to philosophy.

"I shall send a copy to Paris to L'Abbé Le Blanc, who has translated
some other of my pieces; and therefore your corrections and amendments
may still be of use, and prevent me from misleading or tiring the French
nation. We shall also make a Dublin edition; and it were a pity to put
the Irish farther wrong than they are already. I shall also be so
sanguine as to hope for a second edition, when I may correct all errors.
You know my docility."[410:1]

HUME _to_ MRS. DYSART _of Eccles_.

"_9th October._

"DEAR MADAM,--As I send you a long book, you will allow me to write a
short letter, with this fruit of near two years' very constant
application, my youngest and dearest child. You should have read it
sooner; but, during the fine weather, I foresaw that it would produce
some inconvenience: either you would attach yourself so much to the
perusal of me, as to neglect walking, riding, and field diversions,
which are much more beneficial than any history; or if this beautiful
season tempted you, I must lie in a corner, neglected and forgotten. I
assure you I would take the pet if so treated. Now that the weather has
at last broke, and long nights are joined to wind and rain, and that a
fireside has become the most agreeable object, a new book, especially if
wrote by a friend, may not be unwelcome. In expectation, then, that you
are to peruse me first with pleasure, then with ease, I expect to hear
your remarks, and Mr. Dysart's, and the Solicitor's. Whether am I Whig
or Tory? Protestant or Papist? Scotch or English? I hope you do not all
agree on this head, and that there are disputes among you about my
principles. We never see you in town, and I can never get to the
country; but I hope I preserve a place in your memory. I am, &c.

"P.S.--I have seen John Hume's new unbaptized play,[411:1] and it is a
very fine thing. He now discovers a great genius for the theatre."

[Written at the top.] "I must beg of you not to lend the book out of
your house, on any account, till the middle of November; any body may
read it in the house."[411:2]

In a continuation of the letter, of which the part relating to Blacklock
was cited above, he thus desires Adam Smith's opinion of the History:--

"Pray tell me, and tell me ingenuously, what success has my History met
with among the judges with you. I mean Dr. Cullen, Mr. Betham, Mrs.
Betham, Mr. Leichman, Mr. Muirhead, Mr. Crawford, &c. Dare I presume
that it has been thought worthy of examination, and that its beauties
are found to overbalance its defects? I am very desirous to know my
errors; and I dare swear you think me tolerably docile to be so veteran
an author. I cannot, indeed, hope soon to have an opportunity of
correcting my errors; this impression is so very numerous. The sale,
indeed, has been very great in Edinburgh; but how it goes on in London,
we have not been precisely informed. In all cases I am desirous of
storing up instruction; and as you are now idle, (I mean, have nothing
but your class to teach, which to you is comparative idleness,) I will
insist upon hearing from you.

"_Edinburgh, 17th Dec. 1754._"

The following letter, still on the same subject, introduces the name of
a new correspondent.

HUME _to the_ EARL _of_ BALCARRES.

"_Edinburgh, 17th December, 1754._

"MY LORD,--I did really intend to have paid my respects to your lordship
this harvest; but I have got into such a recluse, studious habit, that I
believe myself only fit to converse with books; and, however I may
pretend to be acquainted with dead kings, shall become quite unsuitable
for my friends and cotemporaries. Besides, the great gulf that is fixed
between us terrifies me. I am not only very sick at sea, but often can
scarce get over the sickness for some days.

"I am very proud that my History, even upon second thoughts, appears to
have something tolerable in your lordship's eyes. It has been very much
canvassed and read here in town, as I am told; and it has full as many
inveterate enemies as partial defenders. The misfortune of a book, says
Boileau, is not the being ill spoke of, but the not being spoken of at
all. The sale has been very considerable here, about four hundred and
fifty copies in five weeks. How it has succeeded in London, I cannot
precisely tell; only I observe that some of the weekly papers have been
busy with me.--I am as great an Atheist as Bolingbroke; as great a
Jacobite as Carte; I cannot write English, &c. I do, indeed, observe
that the book is in general rather more agreeable to those they call
Tories; and I believe, chiefly for this reason, that, having no places
to bestow, they are naturally more moderate in their expectations from a
writer. A Whig, who can give hundreds a-year, will not be contented with
small sacrifices of truth; and most authors are willing to purchase
favour at so reasonable a price.

"I wish it were in my power to pass this Christmas at Balcarres. I
should be glad to accompany your lordship in your rural improvements,
and return thence to relish with pleasure the comforts of your fireside.
You enjoy peace and contentment, my lord, which all the power and wealth
of the nation cannot give to our rulers. The whole ministry, they say,
is by the ears. This quarrel, I hope, they will fight out among
themselves, and not expect to draw us in as formerly, by pretending it
is for our good. We will not be the dupes twice in our life.

"I have the honour to be, my lord, your lordship's most obedient and
most humble servant."[413:1]

The literary success that would satisfy Hume required to be of no small
amount. Though neither, in any sense, a vain man, nor a caterer for
ephemeral applause, he was greedy of fame; and what would have been to
others pre-eminent success, appears to have, in his eyes, scarcely risen
above failure. His expressions about the reception of his History, have
a tinge of morbidness. In John Home's memorandum of his latest
conversations, it is said that "he recurred to a subject not unfrequent
with him, that is, the design to ruin him as an author, by the people
that were ministers at the first publication of his History."[414:1] In
his "own life," written at the same time, the only passage truly bitter
in its tone, gives fuller expression to a like feeling:--"I was, I own,
sanguine in my expectations of the success of this work. I thought that
I was the only historian that had at once neglected present power,
interest, and authority, and the cry of popular prejudices; and as the
subject was suited to every capacity, I expected proportional applause.
But miserable was my disappointment: I was assailed by one cry of
reproach, disapprobation, and even detestation; English, Scotch, and
Irish, Whig and Tory, Churchman and Sectary, Freethinker and
Religionist, Patriot and Courtier, united in their rage against the man
who had presumed to shed a generous tear for the fate of Charles I. and
the Earl of Strafford; and after the first ebullitions of their fury
were over, what was still more mortifying, the book seemed to sink into
oblivion. Mr. Millar told me, that in a twelvemonth he sold only
forty-five copies of it. I scarcely, indeed, heard of one man in the
three kingdoms, considerable for rank or letters, that could endure the
book. I must only except the primate of England, Dr. Herring, and the
primate of Ireland, Dr. Stone, which seem two odd exceptions. These
dignified prelates separately sent me messages not to be discouraged.

"I was however, I confess, discouraged; and had not the war been, at
that time, breaking out between France and England, I had certainly
retired to some provincial town of the former kingdom, have changed my
name, and never more have returned to my native country. But as this
scheme was not now practicable, and the subsequent volume was
considerably advanced, I resolved to pick up courage, and to persevere."

Andrew Millar, a countryman of Hume, had, about this time, formed an
extensive publishing connexion in London. An arrangement was made, by
which he should take the History under his protection,--publish the
subsequent volumes, and push the sale of the first. The arrangement is
said to have been recommended by Hume's Edinburgh publishers; and it
shows how much, in that age, as probably also in this, even a great work
may depend on the publisher's exertions, for giving it a hold on the
public mind. Hume had a pretty extensive correspondence with Millar.
Many of the letters are purely on business, and sometimes on business
not very important; but others, such as the following, have some
literary interest. Hume appears to have contemplated a translation of
Plutarch, and Millar seems to have wished to make him editor of a London


"_12th April, 1755._

"The second volume of my History I can easily find a way of conveying
to you when finished and corrected, and fairly copied. Perhaps I may be
in London myself about that time. I have always said, to all my
acquaintance, that if the first volume bore a little of a Tory aspect,
the second would probably be as grateful to the opposite party. The two
first princes of the house of Stuart were certainly more excusable than
the two second. The constitution was, in their time, very ambiguous and
undetermined; and their parliaments were, in many respects, refractory
and obstinate. But Charles the Second knew that he had succeeded to a
very limited monarchy. His long parliament was indulgent to him, and
even consisted almost entirely of royalists. Yet he could not be quiet,
nor contented with a legal authority. I need not mention the oppressions
in Scotland, nor the absurd conduct of King James the Second. These are
obvious and glaring points. Upon the whole, I wish the two volumes had
been published together. Neither one party nor the other would, in that
case, have had the least pretext of reproaching me with partiality.

"I shall give no farther umbrage to the godly, though I am far from
thinking, that my liberties on that head have been the real cause of
checking the sale of the first volume. They might afford a pretext for
decrying it to those who were resolved on other accounts to lay hold of

"Pray tell Dr. Birch, if you have occasion to see him, that his story of
the warrant for Lord Loudon's execution, though at first I thought it
highly improbable, appears to me at present a great deal more
likely.[416:1] I find the same story in "Scotstarvet's Staggering
State,"[417:1] which was published here a few months ago. The same
story, coming from different canals, without any dependence on each
other, bears a strong air of probability. I have spoke to Duke Hamilton,
who says, that I shall be very welcome to peruse all his papers. I shall
take the first opportunity of going to the bottom of that affair; and if
I find any confirmation of the suspicion, will be sure to inform Dr.
Birch. I own it is the strongest instance of any which history affords,
of King Charles's arbitrary principles.

"I have made a trial of Plutarch, and find that I take pleasure in it;
but cannot yet form so just a notion of the time and pains which it will
require, as to tell you what sum of money I would think an equivalent.
But I shall be sure to inform you as soon as I come to a resolution. The
notes requisite will not be numerous,--not so many as in the former
edition. I think so bulky a book ought to be swelled as little as
possible; and nothing added but what is absolutely requisite. The little
trial I have made, convinces me that the undertaking will require time.
My manner of composing is slow, and I have great difficulty to satisfy


"_Edinburgh, 9th January, 1755._

 "DEAR SIR,--I beg you to make my compliments to the Society,[417:3]
and to take the fault on yourself, if I have not executed my duty, and
sent them, this time, my anniversary paper. Had I got a week's warning I
should have been able to have supplied them. I should willingly have
sent some sheets of the history of the Commonwealth, or Protectorship;
but they are all of them out of my hand at present, and I have not been
able to recall them.

"I think you are extremely in the right, that the Parliament's bigotry
has nothing in common with Hiero's generosity. They were, themselves,
violent persecutors at home, to the utmost of their power. Besides, the
Hugunots in France were not persecuted; they were really seditious,
turbulent people, whom their king was not able to reduce to obedience.
The French persecutions did not begin till sixty years after.

"Your objection to the Irish massacre is just, but falls not on the
execution, but the subject. Had I been to describe the massacre of
Paris, I should not have fallen into that fault. But, in the Irish
massacre, no single eminent man fell, or by a remarkable death.[418:1]
If the elocution of the whole chapter be blamable, it is because my
conception laboured with too great an idea of my subject, which is there
the most important. But that misfortune is not unusual. I am,"

We shall have farther occasion to notice the deep interest which Hume
took in John Home's tragedy of Douglas. The following letter, which is
without date, was, probably, written at the beginning of the year 1755,
and before Home made his unsuccessful journey to London, to submit his
effort to the judgment of Garrick.


"DEAR SIR,--With great pleasure I have more than once perused your
tragedy. It is interesting, affecting, pathetic. The story is simple and
natural; but what chiefly delights me, is to find the language so pure,
correct, and moderate. For God's sake read Shakspere, but get Racine and
Sophocles by heart. It is reserved to you, and you alone, to redeem our
stage from the reproach of barbarism.

"I have not forgot your request to find fault; but as you had neither
numbered the pages nor the lines in your copy, I cannot point out
particular expressions. I have marked the margin, and shall tell you my
opinion when I have the pleasure of seeing you. The more considerable
objections seem to be these: _Glenalvon's_ character is too abandoned.
Such a man is scarce in nature; at least it is inartificial in a poet to
suppose such a one, as if he could not conduct his fable by the ordinary
passions, infirmities, and vices of human nature. _Lord Barnet's_[419:1]
character is not enough decided; he hovers betwixt vice and virtue;
which, though it be not unnatural, is not sufficiently theatrical nor
tragic. After _Anna_ had lived eighteen years with _Lady Barnet_, and
yet had been kept out of the secret, there seems to be no sufficient
reason why, at that very time, she should have been let into it. The
spectator is apt to suspect that it was in order to instruct him; a very
good end, indeed, but which might have been attained by a careful and
artificial conduct of the dialogue.

"There seem to be too many casual rencounters. _Young Forman_[420:1]
passing by chance, saves _Lord Barnet_; _Old Forman_, passing that way,
by chance, is arrested. Why might not _Young Forman_ be supposed to be
coming to the castle, in order to serve under _Lord Barnet_, and _Old
Forman_, having had some hint of his intention, to have followed him
that way?

     [Some lines torn off and lost.]

Might not _Anna_ be supposed to have returned to her mistress after long
absence? This might account for a greater flow of confidence."[420:2]


"_Edinburgh, 12th June, 1755._

"DEAR SIR,--I give you a great many thanks for thinking of me in your
project of a weekly paper. I approve very much of the design, as you
explain it to me; and there is nobody I would more willingly engage
with. But, as I have another work in hand, which requires great labour
and care to finish, I cannot think of entering on a new undertaking,
till I have brought this to a conclusion. Your scheme would require me
immediately to remove to London; and I live here, at present, in great
tranquillity, with all my books around me; and I cannot think of
changing while I have so great a work in hand as the finishing of my

"There are four short Dissertations, which I have kept some years by me,
in order to polish them as much as possible. One of them is that which
Allan Ramsay mentioned to you. Another, of the Passions; a third, of
Tragedy; a fourth, some Considerations previous to Geometry and Natural
Philosophy.[421:1] The whole, I think, would make a volume, a fourth
less than my Inquiry, as nearly as I can calculate; but it would be
proper to print it in a larger type, in order to bring it to the same
size and price. I would have it published about the new year; and I
offer you the property for fifty guineas, payable at the publication.
You may judge, by my being so moderate in my demands, that I do not
propose to make any words about the bargain. It would be more convenient
for me to print here, especially one of the Dissertations, where there
is a good deal of literature; but, as the manuscript is distinct and
accurate, it would not be impossible for me to correct it, though
printed at London. I leave it to your choice; though I believe that it
might be as cheaply and conveniently and safely executed here. However,
the matter is pretty near indifferent to me. I would fain prognosticate
better than you say with regard to my History; that you expect little
sale till the publication of the second volume. I hope the prejudices
will dissipate sooner. I am," &c.[422:1]

In 1755, an effort was made to establish a periodical Review in
Scotland, characterized by a higher literary spirit, and a more original
tone of thinking, than the other periodical literature of the day could
boast. It assumed the name, so famous in later times, of _The Edinburgh
Review_. With such contributors as Smith, Robertson, Blair, and Jardine,
it could not fail to achieve its object, so far as its own merit was
concerned; but the public did not appreciate its excellence, and it died
after two half-yearly numbers, which may now be found on the shelves of
the curious. On this matter, Mackenzie says,

     David Hume was not among the number of the writers of the
     _Review_, though we should have thought he would have been the
     first person whose co-operation they would have sought. But I
     think I have heard that they were afraid both of his extreme
     good nature, and his extreme artlessness; that, from the one,
     their criticisms would have been weakened or suppressed; and,
     from the other, their secret discovered. The merits of the
     work strongly attracted his attention, and he expressed his
     surprise, to some of the gentlemen concerned in it, with whom
     he was daily in the habit of meeting, at the excellence of a
     performance written, as he presumed, from his ignorance on the
     subject, by some persons out of their own literary circle. It
     was agreed to communicate the secret to him at a dinner, which
     was shortly after given by one of their number. At that dinner
     he repeated his wonder on the subject of _The Edinburgh
     Review_. One of the company said he knew the authors, and
     would tell them to Mr. Hume upon his giving an oath of
     secrecy. "How is the oath to be taken," said David, with his
     usual pleasantry, "of a man accused of so much scepticism as I
     am? You would not trust my Bible oath; but I will swear by the
     το καλον and the το πρεπον never to reveal your secret." He
     was then told the names of the authors and the plan of the
     work; but it was not continued long enough to allow of his
     contributing any articles.[423:1]

It was a strong judgment to pass on a man who filled the office of
secretary of legation, and under-secretary of state, that a secret was
not safe in his keeping. Perhaps Hume had acquired absent habits about
trifles. But he could transact important business with ability, and keep
important secrets with strictness. There is a general propensity to
find, in the nature and habits of abstruse thinkers, an innocent
simplicity about the passing affairs of the world, which is often
dispelled by a nearer view of their characters. Hume was careless about
small matters; but in the serious transactions of life, he was
sagacious, prompt, and energetic. Though he did not contribute to it,
he owed some substantial services to this periodical, in the conflict in
the ecclesiastical courts, which, in the course of events, comes now to
be considered.[424:1]

Hume was not one of those who, when they find that the opinions they
have formed are at variance with those of the rest of mankind, blaze the
unpopular portions forth in the light of day, or fling them in the face
of their adversaries. Among his intimate friends, he could pass sly
jests about his opinions; using, in regard to them, those strong
expressions which he knew his adversaries would apply to them. But he
disliked ostentation of any kind. He particularly disliked the
ostentation of singularity; and so little was he aware that he was
outraging any of the world's opinions, in promulgating the fruits of his
metaphysical speculations, that he appears to have been much astonished
that any one should find in them any ground for serious objection, and
to have marvelled greatly that clergymen and others should deem him an
unfit person to be a professor of moral philosophy, or a teacher of
youth. "Rara temporum felicitas, ubi sentire quæ velis, et quæ sentias
dicere, licet," was the motto of his first work; and he seems to have
thought that he lived in an age when speculation might soar with
unclipped wings, and when his opinions would be questioned only before
the tribunal of reason.

In all this, however, he now found that he was mistaken, and that there
were persons who, professing to have charge of these matters, and to
know the final judgment concerning them, thought right to execute it on
earth, by punishing the man whose opinions were different from their
own. The soul of this crusade was a certain Reverend George Anderson, a
restless, fiery, persevering being, probably of great polemical note in
his day, the observed of all observers as he passed through the city, a
Boanerges in church courts; but now only known through the eminence of
those against whom the fury of his zeal was directed. Hume was not the
only object of pursuit. Other game was started at the same time in the
person of his friend, Lord Kames. It is somewhat remarkable, that it was
against the latter that the pursuit was most persevering and bitter. He
was certainly not a man likely to have provoked such attacks. It is true
that he meddled with dangerous subjects, but he did so with great
caution and skill. Bred to the practice of the bar, at a time when the
advocate often felt a temptation to insinuate doctrines which could not
be proclaimed without risk, he became like a chemist who is expert in
the safe manipulation of detonating materials. Yet he made a narrow
escape; for as he had been raised to the bench in 1752, any proceeding
by a church court, professing to subject him to punishment, temporal or
eternal, however lightly it might have fallen on a philosopher, might
have tended materially to injure the usefulness of a judge.

Kames' work, which was published in 1751, and entitled "Essays on the
Principles of Morality and Natural Religion," bears evident marks of
having been written in opposition to the opinions laid down by Hume,
although the author probably did not wish to expose the works of his
kind friend to odium, by making a particular reference to them. It is
clear that he considered his own opinions likely to be so very popular
among the orthodox, that it would be doing an evil turn to his friend,
to mention him as the promulgator of views on the other side. In his
advertisement, he said, the object of his book was "to prepare the way
for a proof of the existence of the Deity," and the Essays end with a
prayer. Their leading principle is, that according to the doctrine of
predestination, there can be no liberty to human beings, in the ordinary
acceptation of the term, while the Deity has nevertheless, for wise
purposes, which we cannot fathom, implanted in our race the feeling that
we are free. Some have held that, while the scheme of predestination was
exhibited by Hume as a mere metaphysical theory, Kames united it to
vital religion. He had the misfortune, however, to write in a
philosophical tone; and those who constituted themselves judges of the
matter, seem to have taken example from the stern father, who, when
there is a quarrel in the nursery, punishes both sides, because
quarrelling is a thing not allowed in the house. In a letter to Michael
Ramsay, Hume says, in continuation of a passage printed above,[427:1]
"Have you seen our friend Harry's Essays? They are well wrote, and are
an unusual instance of an obliging method of answering a book.
Philosophers must judge of the question; but the clergy have already
decided it, and say he is as bad as me! Nay, some affirm him to be
worse,--as much as a treacherous friend is worse than an open enemy."
Dr. Blair is believed to have been the champion of Kames; and the
following notice of his connexion with the controversy, given by
Mackenzie, is valuable and instructive.

     It is a singular enough coincidence with some church
     proceedings, about fifty years after,[427:2] that Dr. Blair,
     in defence of his friend's Essays, expressly states, that one
     purpose of those Essays was to controvert what appeared to him
     to be a very dangerous doctrine, held by the author of certain
     other _Essays_, then recently published, (by Mr. David Hume,)
     that, by no principle in human nature, can we discover any
     real connexion between _cause_ and _effect_. According to Dr.
     Blair, the object of one of Lord Kames' Essays is to show,
     that though such connexion is not discoverable by _reason_,
     and by a process of argumentative induction, there is,
     nevertheless, a real and obvious connexion, which every one
     intuitively perceives between an _effect_ and its _cause_. We
     feel and acknowledge, that every effect implies a cause; that
     nothing can begin to exist without a cause of its existence.
     "We are not left," says the author of the Vindication, "to
     gather our belief of a _Deity_, from inferences and
     conclusions deduced through intermediate steps, many or few.
     How unhappy would it be, for the great bulk of mankind, if
     this were necessary!"

The first attack was made in a pamphlet, called "An Estimate of the
Profit and Loss of Religion, personally and publicly stated: illustrated
with reference to 'Essays on Morality and Natural Religion,'" published
at Edinburgh, in 1753; the work of Anderson himself, and endowed with
all the marks of its author. This was levelled against Kames alone; but
it was followed in 1755 by a pamphlet, in which, under the name of
Sopho, he was coupled with Hume, thus: "An Analysis of the Moral and
Religious Sentiments contained in the Writings of Sopho and David Hume,
Esq., addressed to the consideration of the reverend and honourable
members of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland." "My design,"
says the author, "is to analyze the works of these celebrated authors,
giving their own expressions under the different heads to which they
seem to belong. This method, I imagine, will not only give the clearest
view of the sentiments of these gentlemen, but is such as they
themselves must allow to be the most fair and candid; because if, in
stating the proposition, I should happen to mistake their meaning, their
own words, subjoined, must immediately do them justice." With this
preamble, the writer ranges his quotations under such heads as, "All
distinction betwixt virtue and vice is merely imaginary;" "Adultery is
very lawful, but sometimes not expedient," &c.

A counter pamphlet was published, called "Observations upon a pamphlet,
entitled 'An Analysis of the Moral and Religious Sentiments contained in
the Writings of Sopho and David Hume, Esq.'"[428:1] In reference to his
opponents' boasted series of accurate quotations, the writer of this
answer says, "If there should be found passages which are neither the
words nor the meaning of the author, the falsehood cannot be palliated
nor excused." And then, after giving a specimen of these "accurate"
quotations, he says,--

     "In all that page there is no such sentence, neither is there
     any such sentiment to be found. The passage from the beginning
     is as follows," &c. and he continues: "To glean disunited
     sentences, to patch them together arbitrarily, to omit the
     limitations or remarks with which a proposition is delivered;
     can this be styled exhibiting the sentiments of an author? I
     hope I shall not be thought to deviate into any thing
     ludicrous, when I refer the reader to a well-known treatise of
     the Dean of St. Patrick's, in which the inquisitorial method
     of interpretation in the Church of Rome is by so just and so
     severe raillery rendered detestable. _Si non totidem
     sententiis, ast totidem verbis; si non totidem verbis, ast
     totidem syllabis; si non totidem syllabis ast totidem
     literis._ This is the genuine logic of persecution."[429:1]

The matter was brought before the immediately ensuing General Assembly,
that of 1755; by which a general resolution was passed, expressive of
the Church's "utmost abhorrence" of "impious and infidel principles,"
and of "the deepest concern on account of the prevalence of infidelity
and immorality, the principles whereof have been, to the disgrace of
our age and nation, so openly avowed in several books published of late
in this country, and which are but too well known amongst us." But this
general anathema was not sufficient to satisfy the pious zeal of Mr.
Anderson, who, in anticipation of the meeting of the Assembly in 1756,
wrote another pamphlet, called "Infidelity a proper object of censure."

The initiatory step in the legislative business of the General Assembly,
is the bringing before it an overture, which has previously obtained the
sanction, either of one of the inferior church courts, or of a committee
of the Assembly for preparing overtures. In such a committee, it was
moved on 28th May, 1756, that the following overture should be
transmitted to the Assembly.

     "The General Assembly, judging it their duty to do all in
     their power to check the growth and progress of infidelity;
     and considering, that as infidel writings have begun of late
     years to be published in this nation, against which they have
     hitherto only testified in general, so there is one person
     styling himself David Hume, Esq. who hath arrived at such a
     degree of boldness as publicly to avow himself the author of
     books containing the most rude and open attacks upon the
     glorious gospel of Christ, and principles evidently subversive
     even of natural religion, and the foundations of morality, if
     not establishing direct atheism: therefore the Assembly
     appoint the following persons . . . . . as a committee to
     inquire into the writings of this author, to call him before
     them, and prepare the matter for the next General Assembly."

The matter was discussed with the usual keenness of such debates in such
bodies. But toleration was triumphant, and the overture was rejected by
fifty votes to seventeen.[430:1]

Still the indefatigable Anderson returned to the charge, though he
brought it against humbler persons in a less conspicuous arena. As he
found the authors above his reach, he resolved to proceed against the
booksellers; and he brought before the Presbytery of Edinburgh a
"Petition and Complaint" against Alexander Kincaid and Alexander
Donaldson, the publishers of "Kames' Essays," praying, "that the said
printer and booksellers may be summoned to the next meeting of the
Presbytery, and there and then to declare and give up the author of the
said book; and that he and they may be censured, according to the law of
the gospel, and the practice of this and all other well-governed
churches." Anderson indeed would seem to have imbibed the spirit of the
great Anthony Arnauld: who, when Nicole spoke of some rest from the
endless war of polemical controversy, exclaimed, "Rest! will you not
have enough of rest hereafter, through all eternity?" Before the
Presbytery could meet he accordingly published another pamphlet, called
"the Complaint of George Anderson, minister of the gospel, verified by
passages in the book libelled." He died in the 19th October,[432:1] just
ten days before the meeting of the presbytery, for which he had made
such active preparation. He fell in harness, and the departure of the
restless spirit of the champion from its tenement of clay, was death to
the cause. After the perusal of written pleadings, and a formal debate,
the complaint was dismissed.

This matter appears to have given Hume very little disturbance. He does
not mention it in his "own life." He laboured uninterruptedly at the
second volume of his History; and his correspondence, which we may now
resume, will be found to pursue its even tenor, taking no farther notice
of the proceedings of his opponents, than the simple question put to
Smith, whether it will be a matter of much consequence if he should be


"_Edinburgh, 20th April, 1756._

"DEAR DOCTOR,--There is certainly nothing so unaccountable as my long
silence with you; that is, with a man whose friendship I desire most to
preserve of any I know, and whose conversation I would be the most
covetous to enjoy, were I in the same place with him. But to tell the
truth, we people in the country, (for such you Londoners esteem our
city,) are apt to be troublesome to you people in town; we are vastly
glad to receive letters which convey intelligence to us of things which
we should otherwise have been ignorant of, and can pay them back with
nothing but provincial stories, which are no way interesting. It was
perhaps an apprehension of this kind which held my pen: but really, I
believe, the truth is, when I was idle, I was lazy--when I was busy, I
was so extremely busy, that I had no leisure to think of any thing else.
For, dear Doctor, what have we to do with news on either side, unless it
be literary news, which I hope will always interest us? and of these,
London seems to me as barren as Edinburgh; or rather more so, since I
can tell you that our friend Hume's 'Douglas,' is altered and finished,
and will be brought out on the stage next winter, and is a singular, as
well as fine performance, [----[433:1]] of the spirit of the English
theatre, not devoid of Attic and French elegance. You have sent us
nothing worth reading this winter; even your vein of wretched novels is
dried up, though not that of scurrilous partial politics. We hear of Sir
George Lyttleton's History, from which the populace expect a great deal:
but I hear it is to be three quarto volumes. 'O, magnum horribilem et
sacrum Libellum.'--This last epithet of _sacrum_ will probably be
applicable to it in more senses than one. However, it cannot well fail
to be readable, which is a great deal for an English book now-a-days.

"But, dear Doctor, even places more hyperborean than this, more
provincial, more uncultivated, and more barbarous, may furnish articles
for a literary correspondence. Have you seen the second volume of
Blackwell's 'Court of Augustus?' I had it some days lying on my table,
and, on turning it over, met with passages very singular for their
ridicule and absurdity. He says that Mark Antony, travelling from Rome
in a post-chaise, lay the first night at Redstones: I own I did not
think this a very classical name; but, on recollection, I found, by the
Philippics, that he lay at Saxa Rubra. He talks also of Mark Antony's
favourite poet, Mr. Gosling, meaning Anser, who, methinks, should rather
be called Mr. Goose. He also takes notice of Virgil's distinguishing
himself, in his youth, by his epigram on Crossbow the robber! Look your
Virgil, you'll find that, like other robbers, this man bore various
names. Crossbow is the name he took at Aberdeen, but Balista at Rome.
The book has many other flowers[434:1] of a like nature, which made me
exclaim, with regard to the author,

     Nec _certe_[435:1] apparet . . . utrum
     Minxerit in patrios cineres, an triste bidental
     Moverit incestus. Certe furit.

But other people, who have read through the volume, say that,
notwithstanding these absurdities, it does not want merit; and, if it be
so, I own the case is still more singular. What would you think of a man
who should speak of the mayorality of Mr. Veitch; meaning the consulship
of Cicero?--Is not this a fine way of avoiding the imputation of
pedantry? Perhaps Cicero, to modernize him entirely, should be called
Sir Mark Veitch, because his father was a Roman knight.

"I do not find your name among the subscribers of my friend Blacklock's
poems, you have forgot; buy a copy of them and read them, they are many
of them very elegant, and merit esteem, if they came from any one, but
are admirable from him. [----[435:2]] Spence's industry in so good a
work, but there is a circumstance of his conduct that will entertain
you. In the Edinburgh edition there was a stanza to this effect:

     The wise in every age conclude,
     What Pyrrho taught and Hume renewed,
       That Dogmatists are fools.

"Mr. Spence would not undertake to promote a London subscription, unless
my name, as well as Lord Shaftesbury's, (who was mentioned in another
place,) were erased: the author frankly gave up Shaftesbury, but said
that he would forfeit all the profit he might expect from a
subscription, rather than relinquish the small tribute of praise which
he had paid to a man whom he was more indebted to than to all the world
beside. I heard by chance of this controversy, and wrote to Mr. Spence,
that, without farther consulting the author, I, who was chiefly
concerned, would take upon me to empower him to alter the stanza where I
was mentioned. He did so, and farther, having prefixed the life of the
author, he took occasion to mention some people to whom he had been
obliged, but is careful not to name me; judging rightly that such good
deeds were only _splendida peccata_, and that till they were sanctified
by the grace of God they would be of no benefit to salvation.[436:1]

"I have seen (but, I thank God, was not bound to read) Dr. [Birch's]
'History of the Royal Society.' Pray make my compliments to him, and
tell him, that I am his most obliged humble servant. I hope you
understand that the last clause was spoken ironically. You would have
surprised _him_ very much had you executed the compliment. I shall
conclude this article of literature by mentioning myself. I have
finished the second volume of my History, and have maintained the same
unbounded liberty in my politics which gave so much offence: religion
lay more out of my way; and there will not be . . .[436:2] in this
particular: I think reason, and even some eloquence, are on my side, and
. . . will, I am confident, get the better of faction and folly, which
are the . . .[436:2] least they never continue long in the same shape. I
am sorry, however, that you speak nothing on this head in your
postscript to me.

"It gives me great affliction, dear Doctor, when you speak of gouts and
old age. Alas! you are going down hill, and I am tumbling fast after
you. I have, however, very entire health, notwithstanding my studious
sedentary life. I only grow fat more than I could wish. When shall I see
you? God knows. I am settled here; have no pretensions, nor hopes, nor
desires, to carry me to court the great. I live frugally on a small
fortune, which I care not to dissipate by jaunts of pleasure. All these
circumstances give me little prospect of seeing London. Were I to change
my habitation, I would retire to some provincial town in France, to
trifle out my old age, near a warm sun in a good climate, a pleasant
country, and amidst a sociable people. My stock would then maintain me
in some opulence; for I have the satisfaction to tell you, dear Doctor,
that on reviewing my affairs, I find that I am worth £1600 sterling,
which, at five per cent, makes near 1800 livres a-year--that is, the pay
of two French captains.

"Edmonstone left this town for Ireland. I wish he were out of the way:
he has no prospect of advancement suitable to his merit. Sir Harry, I
hope, has only run backwards to make a better jump. Pray imitate not my
example--delay not to write; or, if you do, I will imitate yours, and
write again without waiting for an answer. Ever most sincerely."[437:1]


[367:1] The appointment is thus recorded in the minutes of the Faculty
of Advocates.

"_28th January, 1752._

"The Faculty proceeded to the choice of a keeper of their library, in
place of the said Mr. Thomas Ruddiman; and some members proposed that a
dignified member of their own body, viz. Mr. Kenneth Mackenzie,
Advocate, Professor of the Civil Law in the University of Edinburgh,
should be named to that office, and others inclining that Mr. David Hume
should be elected, it was agreed that the matter should be put to a
vote. And the rolls being called, and votes distinctly marked and taken
down and numbered, it was found that the majority had declared for the
latter; upon which, the Dean and Faculty declared the said Mr. David
Hume duly elected keeper of their library, and appointed that the usual
salary of forty pounds sterling should be paid to him yearly on that
account. And in regard that he was to have their minutes, acts, and
records, under his custody, they appointed him also clerk to the
Faculty, which office had been lately resigned by Mr. David Falconer,
with power to the said Mr. Hume to officiate therein by a depute.

"Mr. Gilbert Elliot, senior, curator of the library, here proposed, that
in consideration that there would be a good deal of labour and trouble
in delivering over the library to Mr. Hume, and his receiving the same,
and doing several other things requisite and necessary relating thereto,
that the Faculty should name a certain salary to some person as under
keeper for some time till that business may be accomplished. The Dean
and Faculty resolved, that they would name no person, nor no salary, but
leave Mr. Hume, their library keeper, himself the nomination and choice
of his own depute, as he was to be answerable and accountable to the
Faculty for his whole charge and intromissions; but that, against the
next anniversary meeting, they would take under their consideration what
extraordinary work should be then accomplished, and do therein as should
be found reasonable.

"Lastly, the Dean and Faculty appointed Mr. George Brown to intimate to
Mr. David Hume their election of him for their library keeper, and that
he should be present at their next meeting to have the oath _de fideli_
administered to him."

In this office, Hume succeeded the celebrated Thomas Ruddiman. The life
of this distinguished critic and philologist was written in an 8vo
volume by George Chalmers, (1794.) This book is valuable as containing
some of the finest specimens of mixed bombast and bathos in the English
language. Chalmers was a distinguished antiquary, and his high fame in
that department of research was well earned; but this did not content
his ambition, and like an eminent Anglo-Saxon antiquary of the present
day, he must needs mount a cap and bells on his head, by aping the style
of the fine writers of his age. Gibbon and Johnson seem to have been
honoured with an equal share in the elements of his style. He can say
nothing without a due pomp and state; when he tells us how John Love was
the son of a bookseller in Dumbarton, he must put it thus: "He was born
in July, 1695, at Dunbarton, the Dunbriton of the British, the _arx
Britonum_ of the Romans, the Dunclidon of Ravennas, the Alcluyd of Bede,
and he was the son of John Love, a bookseller, who, like greater dealers
in greater towns, supplied his customers with such books as their taste
required, and, like the father of Johnson, occasionally exhibited his
books at the neighbouring fairs." We are then of course provided with a
list of what these books sold by Love's father might or might not
probably be, which has this reference to the life of Ruddiman, that
_young_ Love quarrelled with him. We then find such solemn announcements
as the following: "Love had scarcely animadverted on Trotter, when he
was carried before the judicatories of the kirk by Mr. Sydserf, the
minister of Dumbarton, who accused him of _brewing on a Sunday_; and
who, after a juridical trial, was obliged to make a public apology for
having maliciously accused calumniated innocence." A printer publishing
books calculated for an extensive sale is thus described:--"To these
other qualities of prudence, of industry, and of attention, Ruddiman
added judgment. He did not print splendid editions of books for the
public good; he did not publish volumes for the perusal of the few; but
he chiefly employed his press in supplying Scotland with books, which,
from their daily use, had a general sale; and he was by this motive
induced to furnish country shopkeepers with school-books at the lowest

[373:1] The state of the library in Hume's time may be guessed at by
consulting the first volume of the catalogue, printed under Ruddiman's
auspices in 1742, folio. It is a singular circumstance that this library
has always been very deficient in the early editions of Hume's
works--those which were published before his librarianship. Another set
of works, which one misses in the early catalogues, consists in the
controversial books, written by Logan _against_ its previous librarian,

[373:2] The assistant, whose remuneration was to be at the pleasure of
the Faculty, according to the above minute, was Walter Goodall, an
unfortunate scholar, whom Hume's predecessor in office, the celebrated
Thomas Ruddiman, had attached to the library as a hanger-on and
miscellaneous drudge. The extent of his emoluments may be appreciated
from a minute of Faculty, (7th Jan. 1758,) which, in consideration of
his long services, awards him a salary of "£5 a-year, over and above
what he may receive from the keeper of the library." Goodall's character
and fate are summed up in the sententious remark of Lord Hailes, that
"Walter was seldom sober." Yet he did not a little for historical
literature. He was a violent Jacobite and champion of the innocence of
Queen Mary; and in 1754 he published, in two volumes 8vo, his
"Examination of the Letters said to be written by Mary, Queen of Scots,
to James, Earl of Bothwell, showing by intrinsick and extrinsick
evidence that they are forgeries." In 1759 he edited the best edition of
Fordun's Scotichronicon, in two volumes folio.

The following traditional anecdote has been preserved, of the keeper and
his assistant. "One day, while Goodall was composing his treatise
concerning Queen Mary, he became drowsy, and laying down his head upon
his MSS. in that posture fell asleep. Hume entering the library, and
finding the controversialist in that position, stepped softly up to him,
and laying his mouth to Watty's ear, roared out with the voice of a
stentor, that Queen Mary was a whore and had murdered her husband.
Watty, not knowing whether it was a dream or a real adventure, or
whether the voice proceeded from a ghost or a living creature, started
up, and before he was awake or his eyes well opened, he sprang upon
Hume, and seizing him by the throat, pushed him to the farther end of
the library, exclaiming all the while that he was some base Presbyterian
parson, who was come to murder the character of Queen Mary, as his
predecessors had contributed to murder her person. Hume used to tell
this story with much glee, and Watty acknowledged the truth of it with
much frankness." Chambers's Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen,
_voce_ GOODALL.

[375:1] "Of Love and Marriage," and "Of the Study of History."

[376:1] _Literary Gazette_, 1821, p. 745. The original is in the MSS.

[378:1] Thus it appears that it was his original intention to continue
the history down to 1714, before he went back to the earlier periods.

[379:1] From the original at Kilravock.

[379:2] Probably Alexander Wedderburn, afterwards Lord Chancellor
Loughborough, who was then twenty years of age.

[379:3] From the original at Kilravock.

[381:1] Memorials of James Oswald, p. 72.

[383:1] _Scots Mag._ 1802, p. 794. Collated with original at Kilravock.

[385:1] _Scots Magazine_, 1802, p. 902.

[387:1] Alexander Hume, a director of the East India Company.

[387:2] _Edinburgh Annual Register_ for 1809, p. 553.

[387:3] Singer's edition of Spence's Anecdotes of Books and Men, p. 448.

[394:1] It is out of some vague rumour as to this transaction, that Lord
Charlemont must have constructed the following romantic story of Hume.
"He was tender-hearted, friendly, and charitable in the extreme, as will
appear from a fact, which I have from good authority. When a member of
the University of Edinburgh, and in great want of money, having little
or no paternal fortune, and the collegiate stipend being very
inconsiderable, he had procured, through the interest of some friend, an
office in the university, which was worth about £40 a-year. On the day
when he had received this good news, and just when he had got into his
possession the patent or grant entitling him to his office, he was
visited by his friend Blacklock, the poet, who is much better known by
his poverty and blindness than by his genius. This poor man began a long
descant on his misery, bewailing his want of sight, his large family of
children, and his utter inability to provide for them, or even procure
them the necessaries of life. Hume, unable to bear his complaints, and
destitute of money to assist him, ran instantly to his desk, took out
the grant, and presented it to his miserable friend, who received it
with exultation, and whose name was soon after, by Hume's interest,
inserted instead of his own."--_Hardy's Memoirs of Charlemont_, p. 9.
This story is constructed after the received model of the current
anecdotes of Fielding, Goldsmith, and others, and is perhaps as close to
the truth as many of them would be found to be, if they were minutely
investigated. It is pretty clear that Hume's generosity,--for generosity
he certainly had, to a very large extent, by the testimony of all who
knew him,--was not so much the creature of impulse, as that of the
authors who have been mentioned above: but such an instance as that just
given, is a warning to distrust those anecdotes of the inconsiderate
generosity of men of genius, that are put into a very dramatic shape.

[394:2] It is along with the letter to Smith in the MSS. R.S.E.

[396:1] The fastidious Gray's appreciation of La Fontaine, is thus
recorded. "The sly, delicate, and exquisitely elegant pleasantry of La
Fontaine he thought inimitable, whose muse, however licentious, is never
gross; not perhaps on that account the less dangerous."--Nicholls'
Reminiscences. Gray's Works, v. 45.

[396:2] In 1756, some disputes appear to have arisen between the Faculty
and their curators, owing to the arbitrary disposal of the books by the
latter. On 6th January it was represented by Mr. William Johnstone, that
the curators had ordered certain books to be sold, and that the practice
was a very questionable one, "seeing as one curator succeeded another
yearly, and different men had different tastes, the library might by
that means happen to suffer considerably." It was declared that the
curators had no right to dispose of books.

[399:1] From the original at Kilravock.

[399:2] Edinburgh: published by Hamilton, Balfour, and Neill. It is
entered in the _Gentleman's Magazine_ list for October.

[401:1] Carte's last volume was posthumously published in the year after
Hume's first.

[403:1] He does not appear to have suffered any _persecutions_ before he
wrote the first volume of the History of the Stuarts, unless the
opposition to his appointment as a professor deserves that name. The
tone of the History itself was indeed one of the grounds on which he was
attacked in the ecclesiastical courts.

[403:2] Article by Lord Jeffrey in _The Edinburgh Review_, xii. 276.

[405:1] Article on History by Mr. Macaulay. _Edinburgh Review_, xlvii.
p. 359.

[407:1] Printed in the Appendix of Voltaire et Rousseau, par Henry Lord
Brougham, p. 340.

[408:1] See the letters in Appendix. The French bibliographical works
of reference, which are in general very full, do not mention any
translation of the History of the Stuarts earlier than 1760, when
Querard and Brunet give the following:

     Histoire de la Maison de Stuart sur le trône d'Angleterre,
     jusqu'au détrônement de Jacques II. traduite de l'Anglois de
     David Hume, (par L'Abbé Prévost.) Londres (Paris) 1760. 3
     vols. in 4to.

The edition about to appear in Holland, which threw Le Blanc into
despair, seems to have been overlooked. This Prévost, or Prévôt, is the
well-known author of the "Histoire du Chevalier des Grieux et de Manon
Lescaut," which still holds its place in French popular literature,
though it bears but a small proportion to the bulk of his other
voluminous works which are forgotten. The authors of the Dictionnaire
Historique, say they find in his translation of Hume, "un air étranger,
un style souvent embarrassé, sémé d'Anglicismes, d'expressions peu
Françoises, de tours durs, de phrases louches et mal construites." This
abbé led an irregular life, being a sort of disgraced ecclesiastic, and
his death was singularly tragical. He had fallen by the side of a wood
in a fit of apoplexy. Being found insensible, he was removed as a dead
body to the residence of a magistrate, where a surgeon was to open the
body to discover the cause of death. At the first insertion of the
knife, a scream from the victim terrified all present: but it was too
late; the instrument had entered a vital part.

[408:2] Colonel Abercrombie.

[409:1] From the original at Kilravock.

[410:1] MS. R.S.E.

[411:1] "I presume this was 'Douglas;' and the expression, 'he now
discovers a great genius for the theatre,' I suppose was meant to imply
Mr. D. Hume's opinion of its being better fitted for the stage than

[411:2] Mackenzie's Account of Home, p. 102. The original in the MS.

[413:1] "Lives of the Lindsays, or a Memoir of the Houses of Crawford
and Balcarres, by Lord Lindsay." Hume's correspondent was James, the
fifth earl. He had had the misfortune to be "out in the fifteen," and
though a zealous and hardy soldier, he in vain attempted to rise in the
army; and at last retiring in disgust, he betook himself to learned
leisure. In the pleasing work above referred to, he is thus
picturesquely described: "Though his aspect was noble, and his air and
deportment showed him at once a man of rank, yet there was no denying
that a degree of singularity attended his appearance. To his large
brigadier wig, which hung down with three tails, he generally added a
few curls of his own application, which I suspect would not have been
considered quite orthodox by the trade. His shoe, which resembled
nothing so much as a little boat with a cabin at the end of it, was
slashed with his pen-knife, for the benefit of giving ease to his honest
toes; here--there--he slashed it where he chose to slash, without an
idea that the world or its fashions had the smallest right to smile at
his shoe; had they smiled, he would have smiled too, and probably said,
'Odsfish! I believe it is not like other people's; but as to that, look,
d' ye see? what matters it whether so old a fellow as myself wears a
shoe or a slipper.'"

[414:1] Mackenzie's Account of Home, p. 175.

[416:1] He does not, however, mention it in any of the subsequent
editions of his History.

[417:1] Scott of Scotstarvet's Staggering State of Scots Statesmen.--A
collection of contemporary characters, drawn by a shrewd but bitter and
unscrupulous observer.

[417:2] MS. R.S.E.

[417:3] Evidently the Philosophical Society. It was instituted in 1731,
chiefly as a medical society; but, in 1739, its plan was so far
enlarged, as to admit of the above comprehensive denomination.

[418:1] Sic in MS.

[418:2] _Lit. Gazette_, 1822, p. 745. The original is in the MSS. R.S.E.

[419:1] This name changed to _Randolph_, after the first

[420:1] Changed to _Norval_, before the tragedy was brought on the

[420:2] Mackenzie's Account of Home, p. 100.

The following paper made its first appearance in _The Edinburgh Weekly
Chronicle_, a few years ago, when it was edited by Mr. Hislop, a
gentleman said to be well acquainted with theatrical matters. It is here
repeated, not as being believed, but because having excited some
attention when it first appeared, it found its way into some books
connected with Scottish literature.

"It may not be generally known, that the first rehearsal took place in
the lodgings in the Canongate, occupied by Mrs. Sarah Warde, one of
Digges's company; and that it was rehearsed by, and in presence of the
most distinguished literary characters Scotland ever could boast of. The
following was the cast of the piece on the occasion:--


     Lord Randolph,       Dr. Robertson, Principal, Edinburgh.
     Glenalvon,           David Hume, Historian.
     Old Norval,          Dr. Carlyle, Minister of Musselburgh.
     Douglas,             John Home, the Author.
     Lady Randolph,       Dr. Ferguson, Professor.
     Anna, (the Maid,)    Dr. Blair, Minister, High Church.

"The audience that day, besides Mr. Digges, and Mrs. Warde, were, the
Right Honourable Patrick Lord Elibank, Lord Milton, Lord Kames, Lord
Monboddo, (the two last were then only lawyers,) the Rev. John Steele
and William Home, ministers. The company, all but Mrs. Warde, dined
afterwards in the Erskine Club, in the Abbey."

The reader must take this statement at its own value, which he will
probably not consider high. The "cast," has no pretensions to be a
transcript of any contemporary document; for Dr. Robertson was not then
Principal of the University, but minister of the country parish of
Gladsmuir; and Ferguson was not a Professor, but an army chaplain, with
leave of absence, spending his time chiefly in Perthshire. Lord Kames,
spoken of as "only" a lawyer, had been raised to the bench in 1752.

[421:1] This last appears to have been suppressed. The publication of
the others is mentioned further on.

[422:1] MS. R.S.E.

[423:1] Account of John Home, p. 24.

[424:1] There is an amusing traditional anecdote, with which this
periodical has some connexion. Dr. Walter Anderson, minister of
Chirnside, having caught the fire of literary ambition, made the remark
to Hume, one afternoon when they had been enjoying the hospitalities of
Ninewells: "Mr. David, I daresay other people might write books too; but
you clever fellows have taken up all the good subjects. When I look
about me, I cannot find one unoccupied."--"What would you think, Mr.
Anderson," said Hume, in reply, "of a History of Croesus, king of Lydia?
This has never yet been written." Dr. Anderson was a man who understood
no jesting, and held no words as uttered in vain; so away he goes, pulls
down his Herodotus, and translates all the passages in the first book
relating to Croesus, with all the consultations of the oracles, and all
the dreams; only interweaving with them, from his own particular genius,
some very sage and lengthy remarks on the extent to which there was real
truth in the prophetic revelations of the Pythoness. This book, which is
now a great rarity, was reviewed with much gravity and kindness in _The
Edinburgh Review_. It was more severely treated in _The Critical
Review_, edited by Smollett, where it is said, "There is still a race of
soothsayers in the Highlands, derived, if we may believe some curious
antiquaries, from the Druids and Bards that were set apart for the
worship of Apollo. The author of the History before us may, for aught we
know, be one of these venerable seers, though we rather take him to be a
Presbyterian teacher, who has been used to expound apothegms that need
no explanation."

[427:1] Page 342. MS. R.S.E.

[427:2] The case of Sir John Leslie, see above, p. 89.

[428:1] Attributed to Dr. Blair by Tytler, (Life of Kames, i. 142,) as
well as by Mackenzie; as on the preceding page.

[429:1] Besides those mentioned above, the occasion seems to have called
forth some blasts of the trumpet, still better suited to split the ears
of the groundlings--such as "The Deist stretched on a Death-bed, or a
lively Portraiture of a Dying Infidel." The contemporary _Edinburgh
Review_, which carried on a guerilla warfare on the side of the
threatened philosophers, thus commences a notice of this production.
"This is a most extraordinary performance. The hero of it is an infidel,
'a humorous youth,' as the author describes him, 'a youth whose life was
one successive scene of pleasantry and humour: who laughed at
revelation, and called religion _priestcraft_ and _grimace_: a gay and
sprightly free-thinker. But yesterday,' says he 'this gay and sprightly
free-thinker _revelled_ his usual _round_ of gallantry and applause,
till, satiated at length, he staggered to bed devoid of sense and
reason.' We suppose, (continues the reviewer,) the author's meaning is,
that he went to bed very drunk.'"

[430:1] _Scots Magazine_, 1756, pp. 248, 280, where those who are
partial to such reading, will find a pretty clear abstract of the
debate. The General Assembly had its hands at that time pretty full. A
deadly dispute had arisen between the partisans of the old and new
church music, which is thus described in Ritchie's Life of Hume, p. 57:

"At this time the Scottish church was thrown into a general ferment by
an attempt to introduce the reformed music. In accomplishing this, the
most indecent scenes were exhibited. It was not uncommon for a
congregation to divide themselves into two parties, one of which, in
chaunting the psalms, followed the old, and the other the new mode of
musical execution; while the infidel, who was not in the habit of
frequenting the temple, now resorted to it, not for the laudable purpose
of repentance and edification, but from the ungodly motive of being a
spectator of the contest. . . . .

"During the present dispute, it was customary for the partisans of the
different kinds of music to convene apart, in numerous bodies, for the
purpose of practising, and to muster their whole strength on the
Sabbath. The moment the psalm was read from the pulpit, each side, in
general chorus, commenced their operations; and as the pastor and clerk,
or precentor, often differed in their sentiments, the church was
immediately in an uproar. Blows and bruises were interchanged by the
impassioned songsters, and, in many parts of the country, the most
serious disturbances took place."

They had, at the same time, to conduct the war against the tragedy of
Douglas, and the frequenters of the theatre. Home himself, as is well
known, escaped the odium of ecclesiastical punishment, by resigning his
ministerial charge. Order was then taken with those clergy who could not
resist being present on so memorable an occasion as the performance of a
great national tragedy, written by a member of their own body. Among
these the Rev. Mr. White of Libberton was subjected to the modified
punishment of a month's suspension from office, because 'he had attended
the representation only once, when he endeavoured to conceal himself in
a corner, to avoid giving offence.' _Scots Mag._ for 1757, p. 47.

[432:1] Ritchie says, (p. 79,) that he was in his eightieth year. One is
tempted to say with Lady Macbeth, "Who would have thought the old man
had so much blood in him." Besides these conflicts in Scotland, he was
conducting a war in England against Mallet, for the publication of
Bolingbroke's works.

[433:1] Word illegible.

[434:1] That such flowers were not confined to Aberdeen, may be seen in
the following passage of the "Carpentariana."

"Si l'on vouloit traduire les noms Grecs et Romains en François, on les
rendroit souvent ridicules. J'ai vu une traduction des épitres de
Cicéron à Atticus, imprimée chez Thiboust, en 1666, pag. 217, où
l'auteur est tombé dans cette faute ridicule, en traduisant cet endroit:
_Pridie autem apud me Crassipes fuerat_, Le jour précédent Gros-pied fut
chez moi. Véritablement _Crassipes_, veut dire Gros-pied, mais il est
ridicule de la traduire ainsi: et il ne faut jamais toucher aux noms
propres, soit qu'ils fassent un bon ou mauvais effet, rendus dans notre
langue. Un autre traducteur des épitres de Cicéron, lui fait dire,
Mademoiselle votre fille, Madame votre femme; et je me souviens d'un
auteur qui appelloit Brutus et Collatinus, les Bourgmestres de la ville
de Rome."

[435:1] Satis.

[435:2] Words obliterated.

[436:1] See above p. 393.

[436:2] Words obliterated by decay of the MS.

[437:1] Original at Kilravock.




     The forces under Lieutenant General St. Clair consisted of
     five battalions, viz. the first battalion of the 1st Royal,
     the 5th Highlanders, 3d Brag's, 4th Richbell's, 2d Harrison's,
     together with part of Frampton's, and some companies of
     Marines, making in all about 4500 men. The fleet consisted of
     __________. Though this army and fleet had been at first
     fitted out for entering upon action in summer 1746, and making
     conquest of Canada, it was found, after several vain efforts
     to get out of the Channel, first under Commodore Cotes, then
     under Admiral Listock, that so much time had been unavoidably
     lost, from contrary winds and contrary orders, as to render it
     dangerous for so large a body of ships to proceed thither. The
     middle of May was the last day of rendezvous appointed at
     Spithead; and in the latter end of August, the fleet had yet
     got no farther than St. Helen's, about a league below it. It
     is an observation, that in the latter end of autumn, or
     beginning of winter, the north-west winds blow so furiously on
     the coast of North America, as to render it always difficult,
     and often impossible, for ships that set out late to reach any
     harbour in those parts. Instances have been found of vessels
     that have been obliged to take shelter from these storms, even
     in the Leeward Islands. It was therefore become necessary to
     abandon all thoughts of proceeding to America that season; and
     as the transports were fitted out and fleet equipped at great
     expense, an attempt was hastily made to turn them to some
     account in Europe, during the small remainder of the summer.
     The distress of the allies in Flanders demanded the more
     immediate attention of the English nation and ministry, and
     required, if possible, some speedy remedy. 'Twas too late to
     think of sending the six battalions under General St. Clair,
     to reinforce Prince Charles of Lorraine, who commanded the
     armies of the allies; and their number was, besides, too
     inconsiderable to hope for any great advantages from that
     expedient. 'Twas more to be expected, that falling on the
     parts of France, supposed to be defenceless and disarmed, they
     might make a diversion, and occasion the sending a
     considerable detachment from the enemy's army in Flanders. But
     as time pressed, and allowed not leisure to concert and
     prepare this measure, the Duke of Newcastle, Secretary of
     State, hoped to find that General St. Clair had already
     planned and projected some enterprise of this nature. He
     formed this presumption on a hint which had been started very
     casually, and which had been immediately dropped by the

     In the spring, when the obstructions and delays thrown in the
     way of the American enterprise were partly felt and partly
     foreseen, the Secretary, lamenting the great and, he feared,
     useless expense to which the nation had been put by that
     undertaking, gave occasion to the General to throw out a
     thought, which would naturally occur in such a situation. He
     said, "Why may you not send the squadron and troops to some
     part of the coast of France, and at least frighten and alarm
     them as they have done us; and, as all their troops are on the
     Flanders and German frontiers, 'tis most probable that such an
     alarm may make them recall some of them?" The subject was then
     no farther prosecuted; but the King, being informed of this
     casual hint of the General's, asked him if he had formed any
     plan or project by which the service above-mentioned might be
     effectuated. He assured his majesty that he had never so much
     as thought of it; but that, if it was his pleasure, he would
     confer with Sir John Ligonier, and endeavour to find other
     people in London who could let him into some knowledge of the
     coast of France. To this the King replied, "No, no; you need
     not give yourself any trouble about it." And accordingly the
     General never more thought of it, farther than to inform the
     Duke of Newcastle of this conference with his majesty.
     However, the Duke being willing that the person who was to
     execute the undertaking should also be the projector of it, by
     which means both greater success might be hoped from it, and
     every body else be screened from reflection in case of its
     miscarriage, desired, in his letter of the 22d of August, that
     both the Admiral and General should give their opinion of such
     an invasion; and particularly the General, who, having, he
     said, formed some time ago a project of this nature, might be
     the better prepared to give his thoughts with regard to it.
     They both jointly replied, that their utter ignorance made
     them incapable of delivering their sentiments on so delicate a
     subject; and the General, in a separate letter, recalled to
     the Duke's memory the circumstances of the story, as above

     Though they declined proposing a project, they both cheerfully
     offered, that if his majesty would honour them with any plan
     of operation for a descent, they would do their best to carry
     it into execution. They hoped that the Secretary of State,
     who, by his office, is led to turn his eyes every where, and
     who lives at London, the centre of commerce and intelligence,
     could better form and digest such a plan, than they who were
     cooped up in their ships, in a remote sea-port town, without
     any former acquaintance with the coast of France, and without
     any possibility of acquiring new knowledge. They at least
     hoped, that so difficult a task would not be required of them
     as either to give their sentiments without any materials
     afforded them to judge upon, or to collect materials, while
     the most inviolable secrecy was strictly enjoined on them. It
     is remarkable, that the Duke of Newcastle, among other
     advantages proposed by this expedition, mentions the giving
     assistance to such Protestants as are already in arms, or may
     be disposed to rise on the appearance of the English, as if we
     were living in the time of the League, or during the confusion
     of Francis the Second's minority.

     Full of these reflections, they sailed from St. Helens on the
     23d of August, and arrived at Plymouth on the 29th, in
     obedience to their orders, which required them to put into
     that harbour for farther instructions. They there found
     positive orders to sail immediately, with the first fair wind,
     to the coast of France, and make an attempt on L'Orient, or
     Rochefort, or Rochelle, or sail up the river of Bourdeaux; or,
     if they judged any of these enterprises impracticable, to sail
     to whatever other place on the western coast they should think
     proper. Such unbounded discretionary powers could not but be
     agreeable to commanders, had it been accompanied with better,
     or indeed with any intelligence. As the wind was then
     contrary, they had leisure to reply in their letters of the
     29th and 30th. They jointly represented the difficulties, or
     rather impossibilities, of any attempt on L'Orient, Rochefort,
     and Rochelle, by reason of the real strength of these places,
     so far as their imperfect information could reach; or, if that
     were erroneous, by reason of their own absolute want of
     intelligence, guides, and pilots, which are the soul of all
     military operations.

     The General, in a separate letter, enforced the same topics,
     and added many other reflections of moment. He said, that of
     all the places mentioned in his orders, Bourdeaux, if
     accessible, appeared to him the properest to be attempted;
     both as it is one of the towns of greatest commerce and riches
     in France, and as it is the farthest situated from their
     Flanders' army, and on these accounts an attack on it would
     most probably produce the wished-for alarm and diversion. He
     added, that he himself knew the town to be of no strength, and
     that the only place there capable of making any defence, is
     Chateau Trompette, which serves it as a citadel, and was
     intended, as almost all citadels are, more as a curb, than a
     defence, on the inhabitants. But though these circumstances
     promised some success, he observed that there were many other
     difficulties to struggle with, which threw a mighty damp on
     these promising expectations. In the first place, he much
     questioned if there was in the fleet any one person who had
     been ashore on the western coast of France, except himself,
     who was once at Bourdeaux; and he, too, was a stranger to all
     the country betwixt the town and the sea. He had no single map
     of any part of France on board with him; and what intelligence
     he may be able to force from the people of the country can be
     but little to be depended on, as it must be their interest to
     mislead him. And if money prove necessary, either for
     obtaining intelligence, carrying on of works, or even
     subsisting the officers, he must raise it in the country; for,
     except a few chests of Mexican dollars, consigned to other
     uses, he carried no money with him. If he advanced any where
     into the country, he must be at a very great loss for want of
     horses to draw the artillery; as the inhabitants will
     undoubtedly carry off as many of them as they could, and he
     had neither hussars nor dragoons to force them back again. And
     as to the preserving any conquests he might make, (of which
     the Duke had dropped some hints,) he observed that every place
     which was not impregnable to him, with such small force, must
     be untenable by him. On the whole, he engaged for nothing but
     obedience; he promised no success; he professed absolute
     ignorance with regard to every circumstance of the
     undertaking; he even could not fix on any particular
     undertaking; and yet he lay under positive orders to sail with
     the first fair wind, to approach the unknown coast, march
     through the unknown country, and attack the unknown cities of
     the most potent nation of the universe.

     Meanwhile, Admiral Anson, who had put into Plymouth, and had
     been detained there by the same contrary winds, which still
     prevailed, had a conversation with the General and Admiral on
     the subject of their enterprise. He told them, that he
     remembered to have once casually heard from Mr. Hume, member
     for Southwark, that he had been at L'Orient, and that, though
     it be very strong by sea, it is not so by land. Though Mr.
     Hume, the gentleman mentioned, be bred to a mercantile
     profession, not to war, and though the intelligence received
     from him was only casual, imperfect, and by second-hand, yet
     it gave pleasure to the Admiral and General, as it afforded
     them a faint glimmering ray in their present obscurity and
     ignorance; and they accordingly resolved to follow it. They
     wrote to the Duke of Newcastle, September the 3d, that 'twas
     to L'Orient they intended to bend their course, as soon as the
     wind offered. To remedy the ignorance of the coast and want of
     pilots, as far as possible, Commodore Cotes in the Ruby,
     together with Captain Stewart in the Hastings, and a sloop and
     tender, was immediately despatched by the Admiral to view Port
     L'Orient and all the places near it, so far as might regard
     the safe approach and anchorage of the ships. The ignorance of
     the country, and want of guides, was a desperate evil, for
     which the General could provide no remedy. But as the wind
     still continued contrary to the fleet and transports, though
     single ships of war might work their way against it, the
     General had occasion to see farther alterations made by the
     ministry in their project of an invasion.

     The Duke of Newcastle, who had before informed the General
     that, if he could establish himself on any part of the coast
     of France, two battalions of the Guards, and General Huske's
     regiment, should be despatched after him, now says, (Sept. 3,)
     that these three battalions have got immediate orders to
     follow him. He farther adds, that if the General finds it
     impracticable to make any descent on the coast of Brittany, or
     higher up in the Bay of Biscay, he would probably find, on his
     return, some intelligence sent him, by the reinforcement, with
     regard to the coast of Normandy. Next day the Duke changes his
     mind, and sends immediately this intelligence with regard to
     the coast of Normandy, and a plan for annoying the French on
     that quarter, proposed by Major Macdonald; and to this plan he
     seems entirely to give the preference to the other, of making
     an attempt on the western coast of France, to which he had
     before confined the Admiral and General. They considered the
     plan, and conversed with Major Macdonald, who came down to
     Plymouth a few days after. They found that this plan had been
     given in some years before, and was not in the least
     calculated for the present expedition, but required a body of
     cavalry as an essential point towards its execution; an
     advantage of which the General was entirely destitute. They
     found that Major Macdonald had had so few opportunities of
     improving himself in the art of war, that it would be
     dangerous, without farther information, to follow his plan in
     any military operations. They found that he pretended only to
     know the strength of the town, and nature of the country, in
     that province, but had never acquainted himself with the
     sea-coast, or pitched upon any proper place for
     disembarkation. They considered that a very considerable step
     had been already taken towards the execution of the other
     project on the coast of Brittany, viz. the sending Commodore
     Cotes to inspect and sound the coast; and that the same step
     must now be taken anew, in so late a season, with regard to
     the coast of Normandy. They thought that, if their whole
     operations were to begin, an attempt on the western coast was
     preferable, chiefly because of its remoteness from the
     Flanders' army, which must increase and spread the alarm, if
     the country were really so defenceless as was believed. They
     represented all those reasons to the Secretary; but at the
     same time expressed their intentions of remaining at Plymouth
     till they should receive his majesty's positive orders with
     regard to the enterprise on which they were to engage.

     The Duke immediately despatched a messenger, with full powers
     to them to go whithersoever they pleased. During this
     interval, the General was obliged, to his great regret, to
     remain in a manner wholly inactive. Plymouth was so remote a
     place, that it was not to be expected he could there get any
     proper intelligence. He was bound up by his orders to such
     inviolable secrecy, that he could not make any inquiries for
     it, or scarce receive it, if offered. The Secretary had sent
     Major Macdonald, and one Cooke, captain of a privateer, who,
     'twas found, could be of no manner of service in this
     undertaking. These, he said, were the only persons he could
     find in London that pretended to know any thing of the coast
     of France, as if the question had been with regard to the
     coast of Japan or of California. The General desired to have
     maps of France, chiefly of Gascony and Brittany. He receives
     only a map of Gascony, together with one of Normandy. No map
     of Brittany; none of France; he is obliged to set out on so
     important an enterprise without intelligence, without pilots,
     without guides, without any map of the country to which he was
     bound, except a common map, on a small scale, of the kingdom
     of France, which his Aid-de-camp had been able to pick up in a
     shop at Plymouth. He represented all these difficulties to the
     ministry; he begged them not to flatter themselves with any
     success from a General who had such obstacles to surmount, and
     who must leave his conduct to the government of chance more
     than prudence. He was answered, that nothing was expected of
     him, but to land any where he pleased in France, to produce an
     alarm, and to return safe, with the fleet and transports, to
     the British dominions. Though he was sensible that more would
     be expected by the people, yet he cheerfully despised their
     rash judgments, while he acted in obedience to orders, and in
     the prosecution of his duty. The fleet sailed from Plymouth on
     the 15th of September, and, after a short voyage of three
     days, arrived, in the evening of the 18th, off the island of
     Groa, where they found Commodore Cotes and Captain Stuart, who
     gave them an account of the success which they had met with in
     the survey of the coast near L'Orient. The place they had
     pitched on for landing, was ten miles from that town, at the
     mouth of the river of Quimperlay. They represented it as a
     flat open shore, with deep water: on these accounts a good
     landing-place for the troops, but a dangerous place for the
     ships to ride in, on account of the rocks with which it was
     every where surrounded, and the high swell which was thrown
     in, from the Bay of Biscay, by the west and south-west winds.

     It was then about eight in the evening, a full moon and a
     clear sky, with a gentle breeze blowing in shore. The question
     was, whether to sail directly to the landing-place, or hold
     off till morning. The two officers who had surveyed the coast
     were divided in opinion: one recommended the former measure,
     the other suggested some scruples, by representing the
     dangerous rocks that lay on every side of them, and the
     ignorance of all the pilots with regard to their number and
     situation. The Admiral was determined, by these reasons, to
     agree to this opinion. The question seemed little important,
     as it regarded only a short delay; but really was of the
     utmost consequence, and was, indeed, the spring whence all the
     ill success in this expedition flowed.

     The great age of Admiral Listock, as it increased his
     experience, should make us cautious of censuring his opinion
     in sea affairs, where he was allowed to have such consummate
     knowledge. But at the same time, it may beget a suspicion,
     that being now in the decline of life, he was thence naturally
     inclined rather to the prudent counsels which suit a concerted
     enterprise, than to the bold temerity which belongs to such
     hasty and blind undertakings. The unhappy consequences of this
     over-cautious measure immediately appeared. The Admiral had
     laid his account, that by a delay, which procured a greater
     safety to the fleet and transports, only four or five hours
     would be lost; but the wind changing in the morning, and
     blowing fresh off shore, all next day, and part of next night,
     was spent before the ships could reach the landing-place. Some
     of them were not able to reach it till two days after.

     During this time, the fleet lay full in view of the coast,
     and preparations were making in Port Louis, L'Orient, and
     over the whole country, for the reception of an enemy, who
     threatened them with so unexpected an invasion.

     The force of France, either for offence or defence, consists
     chiefly in three different bodies of men: first, in a numerous
     veteran army, which was then entirely employed in Italy and on
     their frontiers, except some shattered regiments, which were
     dispersed about the country, for the advantage of recruiting,
     and of which there were two regiments of dragoons at that time
     in Brittany; secondly, in a regular and disciplined militia,
     with which all the fortified cities along the sea-coast were
     garrisoned, and many of the frontier towns, that seemed not to
     be threatened with any immediate attack. Some bodies of this
     militia had also been employed in the field with the regular
     troops, and had acquired honour, which gave spirits and
     courage to the rest: thirdly, in a numerous body of coast
     militia, or gardes-du-cote, amounting to near 200,000, ill
     armed and ill disciplined, formidable alone by their numbers;
     and in Brittany, by the ferocity of the inhabitants, esteemed
     of old and at present, the most warlike and least civilized of
     all the French peasants. Regular signals were concerted for
     the assembling of these forces, by alarm guns, flags, and
     fires; and in the morning of the 20th of September, by break
     of day, a considerable body of all these different kinds of
     troops, but chiefly of the last, amounting to above 3000 men,
     were seen upon the sea-shore to oppose the disembarkation of
     the British forces. A disposition, therefore, of ships and
     boats must be made for the regular landing of the army; and as
     the weather was then very blustering, and the wind blew almost
     off shore, this could not be effected till afternoon.

     There appeared, in view of the fleet, three places which
     seemed proper for a disembarkation, and which were separated
     from each other either by a rising ground, or by a small arm
     of the sea. The French militia had posted themselves in the
     two places which lay nearest to L'Orient; and finding that
     they were not numerous enough to cover the whole, they left
     the third, which lay to the windward, almost wholly
     defenceless. The General ordered the boats to rendezvous
     opposite to this beach; and he saw the French troops march off
     from the next contiguous landing-place, and take post opposite
     to him. They placed themselves behind some sandbanks, in such
     a manner as to be entirely sheltered from the cannon of those
     English ships which covered the landing, while at the same
     time they could rush in upon the troops, as soon as their
     approach to the shore had obliged the ships to leave off

     The General remarked their plan of defence, and was
     determined to disappoint them. He observed, that the next
     landing-place to the leeward was now empty; and that, though
     the troops which had been posted on the more distant beach had
     quitted their station, and were making a circuit round an arm
     of the sea, in order to occupy the place deserted by the
     others, they had not as yet reached it. He immediately seized
     the opportunity. He ordered his boats to row directly forward,
     as if he intended to land on the beach opposite to him; but
     while the enemy were expecting him to advance, he ordered the
     boats to turn, at a signal; and, making all the speed that
     both oars and sails could give them, to steer directly to the
     place deserted by the enemy. In order to render the
     disembarkation more safe, he had previously ordered two
     tenders to attack a battery, which had been placed on a mount
     towards the right, and which was well situated for annoying
     the boats on their approach. The tenders succeeded in chasing
     the French from their guns; the boats reached the shore before
     any of the French could be opposite to them. The soldiers
     landed, to the number of about six hundred men, and formed in
     an instant; immediately upon which the whole militia dispersed
     and fled up into the country. The English followed them
     regularly and in good order; prognosticating success to the
     enterprise from such a fortunate beginning.

     There was a creek, or arm of the sea, dry at low water, which
     lay on the right hand of the landing-place, and through which
     ran the nearest road to L'Orient, and the only one fit for the
     march of troops, or the draught of cannon and heavy carriages.
     As it was then high water, the French runaways were obliged,
     by this creek, to make a circuit of some miles; and they
     thereby misled the general, who, justly concluding they would
     take shelter in that town, and having no other guides to
     conduct him, thought that, by following their footsteps, he
     would be led the readiest and shortest way to L'Orient. He
     detached, therefore, in pursuit of the flying militia, about a
     thousand men, under the command of Brigadier O'Farrel; who,
     after being harassed by some firing from the hedges, (by which
     Lieut.-Col. Erskine, Quarter-Master General, was dangerously
     wounded,) arrived that evening at Guidel, a village about a
     league distant from the landing-place. The general himself lay
     near the sea-shore, to wait for the landing of the rest of the
     forces. By break of day he led them up to join the brigadier
     at Guidel. He there learned from some peasants, taken
     prisoners, and who spoke the French language, (which few of
     the common people in Brittany are able to do,) that the road
     into which he had been led, by the reasons above specified,
     was the longest by four or five miles. He was also informed,
     what he had partly seen, that the road was very dangerous and
     difficult, running through narrow lanes and defiles, betwixt
     high hedges, faced with stone walls, and bordered in many
     places with thick woods and brushes, where a very few
     disciplined and brave troops might stop a whole army; and
     where even a few, without discipline or bravery, might, by
     firing suddenly upon the forces, throw them into confusion.

     In order to acquire a more thorough knowledge of the country,
     of which he and the whole army were utterly ignorant, he here
     divided the troops into two equal bodies, and marched them up
     to L'Orient, by two different roads, which were pointed out to
     him. The one part, which he himself conducted, passed without
     much molestation. The other, under Brigadier O'Farrel, was not
     so fortunate. Two battalions of that detachment, Richbell's
     and Frampton's, partly from their want of experience, and
     partly from the terror naturally inspired into soldiers by
     finding themselves in a difficult country unknown both to
     themselves and leaders, and partly, perhaps, from accident, to
     which the courage of men is extremely liable, fell into
     confusion, before a handful of French peasants who fired at
     them from behind the hedges. Notwithstanding all the
     endeavours of the Brigadier, many of them threw down their
     arms, and ran away; others fired in confusion, and wounded
     each other; and if any regular forces had been present to take
     advantage of this disorder, the most fatal consequences might
     have ensued. And though they were at last led on, and joined
     the general that evening before L'Orient, the panic still
     remained in these two battalions afterwards, and communicated
     itself to others; kept the whole army in anxiety, even when
     they were not in danger, and threw a mighty damp on the
     expectations of success, conceived from this undertaking.
     L'Orient, lately a small village, now a considerable town, on
     the coast of Brittany, lies in the extremity of a fine bay,
     the mouth of which is very narrow, and guarded by the strong
     citadel of Port Louis. This town has become the centre of the
     French East India trade, the seat of the company established
     for that commerce, and the magazine whence they distribute the
     East India commodities. The great prizes made upon them by the
     English, during the course of the war, had given a check to
     this growing commerce; yet still the town was esteemed a
     valuable acquisition, were it only on account of the wealth it
     contained, and the store-houses of the company, a range of
     stately buildings, erected at public charge, both for use and
     ornament. The town itself is far from being strong. Two sides
     of it, which are not protected with water, are defended only
     with a plain wall, near thirty feet high, of no great
     thickness, and without any fosse or parapet. But the water
     which covers the other two sides, rendered it impossible to
     be invested, and gave an opportunity for multitudes of people
     to throw themselves into it from every corner of that populous
     country. And though these, for want of discipline, could not
     be trusted in the field against regular forces, yet became
     they of great use in a defence behind walls, by throwing up
     works, erecting batteries, and digging trenches, to secure
     (what was sufficient) for a few days, a weak town against a
     small and ill-provided army. The East India Company had
     numbers of cannon in their magazines, and had there erected a
     school of engineers, for the service of their ships and
     settlements; the vessels in the harbour supplied them with
     more cannon, and with seamen accustomed to their management
     and use; and whatever was wanting, either in artillery or
     warlike stores, could easily be brought by water from Port
     Louis, with which the town of L'Orient kept always an open

     But as these advantages, though great, require both a
     sufficient presence of mind, and some time, to be employed
     against an enemy, 'tis not improbable, that if the admiral had
     been supplied with proper pilots, and the general with proper
     guides, which could have led the English immediately upon the
     coast, and to the town, the very terror of so unexpected an
     invasion would have rendered the inhabitants incapable of
     resistance, and made them surrender at discretion. The want of
     these advantages had already lost two days; and more time must
     yet be consumed, before they could so much as make the
     appearance of an attack. Cannon was wanting, and the road by
     which the army had marched, was absolutely unfit for the
     conveyance of them. The general, therefore, having first
     despatched an officer and a party to reconnoitre the country,
     and find a nearer and better road, September 22d, went himself
     next day to the sea-shore, for the same purpose, and also in
     order to concert with the admiral the proper method of
     bringing up cannon; as almost all the horses in the country,
     which are extremely weak and of a diminutive size, had been
     driven away by the peasants. Accordingly, a road was found,
     much nearer, though still ten miles of length; and much
     better, though easily rendered impassable by rainy weather, as
     was afterwards experienced.

     A council of war was held on board the Princessa, consisting
     of the admiral and general, Brigadier O'Farrel and Commodore
     Cotes. The engineers, Director-General Armstrong, and Captain
     Watson, who had surveyed the town of L'Orient, being called
     in, were asked their opinion with regard to the practicability
     of an attempt on it, together with the time, and artillery,
     and ammunition, requisite for that purpose. Their answer was,
     that with two twelve pounders, and a ten inch mortar, planted
     on the spot which they had pitched on for erecting a battery,
     they engaged either to make a practicable breach in the walls,
     or with cartridges, bombs, and red-hot balls, destroy the
     town, by laying it in ashes in twenty-four hours. Captain
     Chalmers, the captain of the artillery, who had not then seen
     the town, was of the same opinion, from their description of
     it, provided the battery was within the proper distance. Had
     the king's orders been less positive for making an attempt on
     some part of the coast of France, yet such flattering views
     offered by men who promised what lay within the sphere of
     their own profession, must have engaged the attention of the
     admiral and general, and induced them to venture on a much
     more hazardous and difficult undertaking. 'Twas accordingly
     agreed that four twelve pounders, and a ten inch mortar,
     together with three field-pieces, should be drawn up to the
     camp by sailors, in order to make, with still greater
     assurance, the attempt, whose success seemed so certain to the
     engineers. These pieces of artillery, with the stores
     demanded, notwithstanding all difficulties, were drawn to the
     camp in two days, except two twelve pounders, which arrived
     not till the day afterwards. A third part of the sailors of
     the whole fleet, together with all the marines, were employed
     in this drudgery; the admiral gave all assistance in his power
     to the general; and the public, in one instance, saw that it
     was not impossible for land and sea officers to live in
     harmony together, and concur in promoting the success of an

     The general, on his arrival in the camp, found the officer
     returned whom he had sent to summon the town of L'Orient. By
     his information, it appeared that the inhabitants were so much
     alarmed by the suddenness of this incursion, and the terror of
     a force, which their fears magnified, as to think of
     surrendering, though upon conditions, which would have
     rendered the conquest of no avail to their enemies. The
     inhabitants insisted upon an absolute security to their houses
     and goods; the East India Company to their magazines and
     store-houses; and the garrison, consisting of about seven
     hundred regular militia and troops, besides a great number of
     irregulars, demanded a liberty of marching out with all the
     honours of war. A weak town that opened its gates on such
     conditions was not worth the entering; since it must
     immediately be abandoned, leaving only to its conquerors the
     shame of their own folly, and perhaps the reproach of
     treachery. The general, therefore, partly trusting to the
     promise of the engineers, and partly desirous of improving the
     advantages gained by the present danger, when the deputies
     arrived next day, September 23d, from the governor, from the
     town, and from the East India Company, refused to receive any
     articles but those from the governor, who commanded in the
     name of his most Christian majesty. He even refused liberty to
     the garrison to march out; well knowing that, as the town was
     not invested, they could take that liberty whenever they

     Meanwhile, every accident concurred to render the enterprise
     of the English abortive. Some deserters got into the town, who
     informed the garrison of the true force of the English, which,
     conjecturing from the greatness and number of the ships, they
     had much magnified. Even this small body diminished daily,
     from the fatigue of excessive duty, and from the great rains
     that began to fall. Scarce three thousand were left to do
     duty, which still augmented the fatigue to the few that
     remained; especially when joined to the frequent alarms, that
     the unaccountable panic they were struck with made but too
     frequent. Rains had so spoilt the roads as to render it
     impracticable to bring up any heavier cannon, or more of the
     same calibre, so long a way, by the mere force of seamen. But
     what, above all things, made the enterprise appear desperate,
     was the discovery of the ignorance of the engineers, chiefly
     of the director-general, who in the whole course of his
     proceedings appeared neither to have skill in contrivance, nor
     order and diligence in execution. His own want of capacity and
     experience, made his projects of no use; his blind obstinacy
     rendered him incapable of making use of the capacity of
     others. Though the general offered to place and support the
     battery wherever the engineer thought proper, he chose to set
     it above six hundred yards from the wall, where such small
     cannon could do no manner of execution. He planted it at so
     oblique an angle to the wall that the ball thrown from the
     largest cannon must have recoiled, without making any
     impression. He trusted much to the red-hot balls, with which
     he promised to lay the town in ashes in twenty-four hours;
     yet, by his negligence, or that of others, the furnace with
     which these balls were to be heated, was forgot. After the
     furnace was brought, he found that the bellows, and other
     implements necessary for the execution of that work, were also
     left on board the store-ships. With great difficulty, and
     infinite pains, ammunition and artillery stores were drawn up
     from the sea-shore in tumbrels. He was totally ignorant, till
     some days after, that he had along with him ammunition wagons,
     which would have much facilitated this labour. His orders to
     the officers of the train were so confused, or so ill obeyed,
     that no ammunition came regularly up to the camp, to serve the
     few cannon and the mortars that played upon the town. Not only
     fascines, piquets, and every thing necessary for the battery,
     were supplied him beyond his demand; but even workmen,
     notwithstanding the great fatigue and small numbers of the
     army. These workmen found no addition to their fatigue in
     obeying his orders. He left them often unemployed, for want of
     knowing in what business he should occupy them.

     Meanwhile the French garrison, being so weakly attacked, had
     leisure to prepare for a defence, and make proper use of their
     great number of workmen, if not of soldiers, and the nearness
     and plenty of their military stores. By throwing up earth in
     the inside of the wall, they had planted a great many cannon,
     some of a large calibre, and opened six batteries against one
     that played upon them from the English. The distance alone of
     the besiegers' battery, made these cannon of the enemy do less
     execution; but that same distance rendered the attack
     absolutely ineffectual. Were the battery brought nearer, to a
     hundred paces for instance, 'twould be requisite to make it
     communicate with the camp by trenches and a covered way, to
     dig which was the work of some days for so small an army.
     During this time, the besieged, foreseeing the place to which
     the attack must be directed, could easily fortify it by
     retrenchments in the inside of the wall; and planting ten
     cannon to one, could silence the besiegers' feeble battery in
     a few hours. They would not even have had leisure to make a
     breach in the thin wall, which first discovered itself; and
     that breach, if made, could not possibly serve to any purpose.
     Above fifteen thousand men, completely armed by the East India
     Company, and brave while protected by cannon and ramparts,
     still stood in opposition to three thousand, discouraged with
     fatigue, with sickness, and with despair of ever succeeding in
     so unequal a contest.

            *       *       *       *       *

     A certain foreign writer, more anxious to tell his stories in
     an entertaining manner than to assure himself of their
     reality, has endeavoured to put this expedition in a
     ridiculous light; but as there is not one circumstance of his
     narration, which has truth in it, or even the least appearance
     of truth, it would be needless to lose time in refuting it.
     With regard to the prejudices of the public, a few questions
     may suffice.

     Was the attempt altogether impracticable from the beginning?
     The general neither proposed it, nor planned it, nor approved
     it, nor answered for its success. Did the disappointment
     proceed from want of expedition? He had no pilots, guides, nor
     intelligence, afforded him; and could not possibly provide
     himself in any of these advantages, so necessary to all
     military operations. Were the engineers blamable? This has
     always been considered as a branch of military knowledge,
     distinct from that of a commander, and which is altogether
     intrusted to those to whose profession it peculiarly belongs.
     By his vigour in combating the vain terrors spread amongst the
     troops, and by his prudence in timely desisting from a
     fruitless enterprise, the misfortune was confined merely to a
     disappointment, without any loss or any dishonour to the
     British arms. Commanders, from the situation of affairs, have
     had opportunities of acquiring more honour; yet there is no
     one whose conduct, in every circumstance, could be more free
     from reproach. On the first of October, the fleet sailed out
     of Quimperlay Road, from one of the most dangerous situations
     that so large a fleet had ever lain in, at so late a season,
     and in so stormy a sea as the Bay of Biscay. The reflection on
     this danger had been no inconsiderable cause of hastening the
     re-embarkation of the troops. And the more so, that the
     secretary had given express orders to the admiral not to bring
     the fleet into any hazard. The prudence of the hasty departure
     appeared the more visibly the very day the fleet sailed, when
     a violent storm arising from the south west, it was concluded,
     that if the ships had been lying at anchor on the coast, many
     of them must have necessarily been driven ashore, and wrecked
     on the rocks that surrounded them. The fleet was dispersed,
     and six transports being separated from the rest, went
     immediately for England, carrying with them about eight
     hundred of the forces. The rest put into Quiberon Bay, and the
     general landed his small body on the peninsula of that name.
     By erecting a battery of some guns on the narrow neck of land,
     which joins the peninsula to the continent, he rendered his
     situation almost impregnable, while he saw the fleet riding
     secure in his neighbourhood, in one of the finest bays in the

     The industry and spirit of the general supported both himself
     and the army against all these disadvantages, while there was
     the smallest prospect of success. But his prudence determined
     him to abandon it, when it appeared altogether desperate.

     The engineers, seeing no manner of effect from their shells
     and red-hot balls, and sensible that 'twas impossible either
     to make a breach from a battery, erected at so great a
     distance, or to place the battery nearer, under such a
     superiority of French cannon, at last unanimously brought a
     report to the general, that they had no longer any hope of
     success; and that even all the ammunition, which, with
     infinite labour, had been brought, was expended: no prospect
     remained of being farther supplied, on account of the broken
     roads, which lay between them and the fleet. The council of
     war held in consequence of this report, balanced the reasons
     for continuing or abandoning the enterprise, if men can be
     said to balance where they find nothing on the one side but an
     extreme desire to serve their king and country, and on the
     other every maxim of war and prudence. They unanimously agreed
     to abandon the attempt, and return on board the transports.
     The whole troops were accordingly re-embarked by the 28th of
     September, with the loss of near twenty men killed and
     wounded, on the whole enterprise.


[441:1] See ante, p. 218.





     J'ai reçu Monsieur, comme une chose très précieuse, la belle
     lettre que vous m'avez fait l'honneur de m'écrire au sujet de
     mon ouvrage. Elle est remplie de réflexions si judicieuses et
     si sensées, que je ne sçaurois vous dire à quel point j'en ai
     été charmé. Ce que vous dites sur la forme dont les jurés
     prononcent en Angleterre, ou en Ecosse, m'a surtout fait un
     grand plaisir, et l'endroit de mon livre où j'ai traité cette
     matière est peut-être celui qui m'a fait le plus de peine, et
     où j'ai le plus souvent changé. Ce que j'avois fait, parce-que
     je n'avois trouvé personne qui eut la-dessus des idées aussi
     nettes, que vous avez. Mais c'est assez parler de mon livre
     que j'ai l'honneur de vous présenter. J'aime mieux vous parler
     d'une belle dissertation où vous donnez une beaucoup plus
     grande influence aux causes morales qu'aux causes
     physiques--et il m'a paru, autant que je suis capable d'en
     juger, que ce sujet est traité à fond, quelque difficile qu'il
     soit à traiter, et écrit de main de maître, et rempli d'idées
     et de réflexions très neuves. Nous commençâmes aussi à
     lire--M. Stuart et moi--un autre ouvrage de vous où vous
     maltraitez un peu l'ordre ecclésiastique. Vous croyez bien que
     Monsr. Stuart et moi n'avons pas pu entièrement vous
     approuver--nous nous sommes contentés de vous admirer. Nous ne
     crûmes pas que ces Messieurs furent tels, mais nous trouvâmes
     fort bonnes les raisons que vous donnez pour qu'ils dussent
     être tels. M. Stuart m'a fait un grand plaisir en me faisant
     espérer que je trouverois à Paris une partie de ces beaux
     ouvrages. J'ai l'honneur, Monsieur, de vous en remercier, et
     d'être avec les sentimens de la plus parfaite estime, votre
     très humble et très obéissant serviteur.


     _A Bordeaux, ce 19 May, 1749._


     Monsieur j'ai reçu la lettre que vous m'avez fait l'honneur de
     m'écrire du 16 de Juillet, et il ne m'a été possible de la
     lire qu' aujourdhui, à cause d'une grande fluxion sur les yeux
     et que n'ayant point actuellement de secrétaire Anglais je ne
     pouvois me la faire lire. J'étois prêt à y faire réponse quand
     Mr. Le Mosnier est entré chez moi, et m'a parlé de l'honneur
     qu'on veut faire à mon livre en Ecosse de l'y imprimer, et m'a
     dit ce que vous m'avez déjà appris par votre lettre. Je suis
     très obligé à vous Monsieur et à Monsieur Alexandre, de la
     peine que vous avez prise. Je suis convenu avec M. Le Mosnier
     que je ferais faire une copie des corrections que j'ai
     envoiées en Angleterre, et à Paris, de la première édition de
     Genève, en 2 volumes in 4to qui est très fautive, et qu'il se
     chargeroit de les envoyer. J'ai reçu Monsieur, les exemplaires
     de vos beaux ouvrages que vous avez eu la bonté de m'envoyer,
     et j'ai lu avec un très grand plaisir l'essay sur l'esprit
     humain, qui ne peut partir que d'un esprit extrêmement
     philosophique. Tout ceci est rempli de belles idées, et je
     vous remercie du plaisir que la lecture m'en a fait; à l'égard
     de la citation des Lettres Persanes il vaut autant que mon nom
     y soit que celui d'un autre, et cela n'est d'aucune

     La réputation de Monsieur le Docteur Midleton est certainement
     venue jusqu'à nous. Notior ut jam sit canibus non Delia
     nostris, et j'espère bien me procurer l'avantage de lire les
     ouvrages dont vous me parlez. Je sçais que Mr. de Midleton est
     un homme éminent. J'ai Monsieur l'honneur d'être, &c.

     _A Paris ce 3 7bre, 1749._

     Je vous prie Monsieur, de vouloir bien faire mes compliments
     très humbles à Mons. Stewart: il fairoit bien de venir nous
     revoir cet automne prochain.


     J'ai Monsieur reçu l'honneur de votre lettre avec la postille
     qui y est jointe, et j'ai de plus reçu un exemplaire de vos
     excellentes compositions par la voie de Milord Morton. Mr. de
     Jouquart qui a formé le dessein de traduire l'ouvrage de
     Mons{r.} Wallace, me dit hier qu'il traduiroit aussi le vôtre
     sur le nombre des peuples chez les anciennes nations. Cela
     dépendra du succès qu'aura sa traduction qui est la première
     qu'il ait faite. Il est certain qu'il a tous les talents qu'il
     faut pour s'en acquitter, et je ne doute pas que le public ne
     l'encourage à continuer. Le public qui admirera les deux
     ouvrages, n'admirera pas moins deux amis qui font céder d'une
     manière si noble les petits intérêts de l'esprit aux intérêts
     de l'amitié; et pour moi, je regarderai comme un très grand
     bonheur, si je puis me flatter d'avoir quelque part dans cette
     amitié. J'ai l'honneur d'être, &c.

     _Paris, ce 13 Juillet, 1753._


_Referred to in_ vol. i. p. 366, _and_ p. 408.


     MONSIEUR,--La traduction de vos discours politiques, que j'ai
     l'honneur de vous envoyer, est la preuve la plus éclatante que
     je pouvois vous donner de l'estime que j'en fais; vous en
     serez peut-être plus content si j'avois été à portée de
     profiter de vos lumières. Je vous prie, et votre intérêt s'y
     trouve comme le mien, de me faire la grâce de la lire avec
     attention, et de m'avertir des endroits, ou malgré toute
     l'attention que j'y ai apportée, j'aurois pu m'écarter de
     votre sens. J'en profiterai à la première édition, ainsi que
     des remarques, changements, ou additions, qu'il vous plaira me
     communiquer, soit à l'occasion de vos discours, soit sur les
     autres ouvrages Anglois dont je parle dans mes notes.

     Je vous prie encore Monsieur que ce soit le plus tôt qu'il
     vous sera possible, car il est bon de vous dire que cette
     traduction, grâce à l'excellence de l'original, se débite ici
     comme un Roman; c'est tout dire, notre goût pour les futilités
     vous est connu; il vous étoit réservé de nous y faire
     renoncer, pour nous occuper des matières les plus dignes
     d'exercer les esprits raisonnables. Le Libraire m'avertit
     qu'il sera bientôt tems de penser à la seconde édition.
     J'attendrai votre réponse pour l'enrichir de vos remarques qui
     feront que celle-ci sera reçue du public avec encore plus

     Je profite de cette occasion pour vous offrir une amitié qui
     vous sera, peut-être, inutile, et vous demander la vôtre que
     je serois très flatté d'obtenir. Il semble que l'auteur et le
     traducteur sont faits pour être liés ensemble: il est à
     présumer qui celui que traduit un ouvrage a d'avance ou du
     moins épousé la façon de parler de celui qui l'a fait. J'ai
     trouvé dans vos discours un politique Philosophe, et un
     Philosophe citoyen. Je n'ai moi-même donné aucun ouvrage qui
     ne porte ce double caractère, et je me flatte que vous le
     trouverez dans les Lettres d'un François, si par hazard elles
     vous sont connues.

     J'ai l'honneur d'être, avec les sentiments d'estime dont je
     viens de vous donner des témoignages publics, et cette sorte
     de respect que je n'ai que pour quelques Philosophes tels que
     vous. Monsieur, votre très humble et très obéissant serviteur,

     L'ABBÉ LE BLANC, Historiographe des Bâtiments du Roy de France.

     _De Paris, le 25th Août, 1754._


     MONSIEUR,--La traduction de vos discours politiques est la
     première que j'ai donnée au public; et l'utilité que j'ai cru
     que ma patrie en pouvoit retirer, est l'unique motif que m'ait
     déterminé à l'entreprendre. Je n'ose me répondre que vous la
     trouverez telle que vous l'espérez. C'est à moi à vous
     demander votre indulgence pour les fautes que vous y
     trouverez, et à vous prier de me communiquer vos remarques sur
     des notes que j'ai cru y devoir adjouter. Je vous promets de
     corriger avec soumission les erreurs que vos m'y ferez
     apercevoir. A la fin du 2d vol. j'ai donné une notice des
     meilleurs ouvrages Anglois que j'ai consultés, sur les
     matières du commerce; j'ai hazardé de porter mon jugement sur
     chacun de ceux dont j'ai parlé. Je le rectifierai sur vos
     lumières, si vous voulez bien me les communiquer. Si j'en ai
     omis quelqu'un d'important, je vous prie de me le faire
     connoître, et de me dire vous-même, qui êtes un si excellent
     juge, ce que l'on en doit penser. J'enricherai la 2 Edition de
     tout ce dont vous voudrez bien me faire part.

     A l'égard de votre histoire de la Grande Bretagne que vous
     m'annoncez, ce ne sera plus simplement comme votre admirateur
     mais comme votre ami Monsieur, que j'en entreprendrai la
     traduction, et je ferai de mon mieux pour qu'elle perde le
     moins qu'il est possible. J'aime votre façon de penser, et je
     suis familiarisé avec votre stile; si la matière exige qu'il
     soit plus élevé je tacherai d'y atteindre. Mais pour que je
     puisse entreprendre cette traduction avec succès, il faut s'il
     est possible, que vous retardiez à Londres au moins d'un mois
     la publication de votre ouvrage, et que vous me l'envoyez tout
     de suite par la poste, addressé sans autre enveloppe à Mr.
     Jannes, Chevalier de l'ordre du Roi, Controlleur Général des
     Postes à Paris. Nous avons ici une foule d'écrivains
     médiocres, qui sans savoir ni l'Anglois ni le François même,
     sont a l'affût de tout ce qui s'imprime chez vous, et qui à
     l'aide d'un dictionnaire vous massacreront impitoyablement. On
     nous a donné ainsi plusieurs bons ouvrages, et entre autres la
     dissertation de M. Wallace dont il n'est pas possible de
     supporter la lecture en François. Pour faire de pareille
     besogne, il ne faut pas beaucoup de tems à ces Messieurs là.
     Ils travaillent vîte, parce qu'ils travaillent _fami potius
     quam famæ_. Si je n'ai pas du tems devant eux, je serai
     prévenu, et si je le suis, je serai obligé d'abandonner
     l'ouvrage. Je ne vous parle pas des traducteurs de Hollande
     qui sont encore plus mauvais s'il est possible. Cette fois-ci
     je veux faire un office d'amitié, je vous prie de me mettre à
     portée de le bien faire. Vos discours Politiques vous ont,
     comme je m'y attendois, donné ici la plus haute réputation,
     dès que votre histoire paroîtra, un libraire la fera venir par
     la poste, et mettra ses ouvriers après, à moins que vous ne
     m'accordiez la grâce que je vous demande. Alors on saura que
     je la traduis, et je suis sûr que ces messieurs me laisseront

     J'ai encore à vous apprendre, monsieur, que le succès de vos
     Discours Politiques ne fait qu'augmenter tous les jours, et
     que tout retentit de vos Éloges. Nos ministres même n'en sont
     pas moins satisfaits que le public. Mr. le Comte d'Argenson,
     Mr. Le Maréchal de Noailles, en un mot tous ceux qui ont ici
     part au gouvernement ont parlé de votre ouvrage, comme d'un
     des meilleurs qui ayent jamais été faits sur ces matières.
     J'ai été obligé de céder mon exemplaire à un d'entre eux;
     ainsi je vous prie de m'en adresser un par la même voie que je
     vous ai indiquée, la poste après que vous m'aurez envoyé le I.
     vol. de votre histoire, d'autant plus que les additions et
     corrections dont vous m'avez fait part se rapportent à la 3{e}
     edition qui je crois se trouveroit difficilement a Paris.


     MONSIEUR,--Je vous avois promis, et je m'étois flatté de
     pouvoir consacrer mes veilles à traduire aussi votre admirable
     Histoire de l'infortunée Maison de Stewart. Les obstacles les
     plus puissants, ceux-mêmes qui ôtent à l'esprit cette liberté
     sans laquelle on ne fait rien de bien, voyages, affaires,
     disgrâces, maladies--tout s'est opposé à l'exécution d'un
     projet qui rioit si fort à mon imagination et dont l'exécution
     ne pouroit que me faire honneur.

     A ce défaut j'ai prêté à un de mes amis, homme d'esprit et
     laborieux, le premier volume que vous avez eu la bonté de
     m'envoyer. Il l'a traduit et le rendra public au commencement
     de l'hiver prochain.

     J'ai de même que tous ceux qui savent ici l'Anglois, le plus
     grand empressement de lire votre second volume. J'en ferai le
     même usage que du premier.

     Je vous avois annoncé que vos discours Politiques feroient
     parmi nous le même effet que _L'Esprit des Loix_. L'évènement
     m'a justifié, non seulement ils jouissent parmi nous de cette
     haute réputation qu'ils méritent, mais ils ont donné lieu à
     un grand nombre d'autres ouvrages plus ou moins estimables et
     qui la plus part n'ont d'original que la forme. Vous en
     trouverez le catalogue à la suite d'une troisième édition de
     ma traduction que je vais donner incessamment.

     Il vient d'en paroître un qui fait ici un grand bruit, et que
     je n'ai garde de confondre avec tous ceux dont je viens de
     parler. Il est intitulé, L'AMI DES HOMMES OU TRAITÉ DE LA
     POPULATION. L'Auteur est un génie hardi, original, qui comme
     Montaigne se laisse aller à ses idées, les expose sans
     orgueil, sans modestie; il ne suit ni ordre ni méthode; mais
     son ouvrage, plein d'excellentes choses, respire le bien de
     l'humanité et de la patrie. Il prêche l'agriculture, et
     foudroye la finance. Il combat votre système sur le luxe, mais
     avec les égards élevés à la superiorité de vos lumières. Il
     m'a remis un exemplaire de son ouvrage, qu'il me prie de vous
     présenter comme un tribut de son estime et de la
     reconnoissance qu'il vous doit, pour l'utilité qu'il a tirée
     de vos Discours Politiques. Il ne demande pas mieux que d'
     être éclairé et par la noblesse des sentiments et la politesse
     de la conduite. Je ne crains pas de le dire. L'adversaire est
     digne de vous. C'est _Monsieur le Marquis de Mirabeau_, qui
     est tel qu'il paroît dans son livre--c'est à dire un des plus
     extraordinaires des hommes qu'il y ait en quelque pays que ce
     soit. Je vous prie Monsieur de m'indiquer une voie sûre pour
     vous faire parvenir son ouvrage.


     _Dresde, le 25 Dec. 1754._

     J'ai vu ici la traduction de vos Discours Politiques imprimée
     en Hollande; elle ne se peut pas lire; vous souffririez vous,
     Monsieur, de vous voir ainsi défiguré. Le Traducteur quel
     qu'il soit ne sait constamment ni l'Anglois ni le François.
     C'est probablement un de ces auteurs qui travaillent à la
     foire pour les libraires de Hollande, et dont les ouvrages
     bons ou mauvais se débitent aux foires de Leipsig et de
     Francfort. Les bibliothèques de ce pays ci sont remplies de
     livres François qui n'ont jamais été et ne seront jamais
     connus en France. Cette traduction passe ici pour être d'un
     Mr. Mauvillon de Leipsic dont le métier est de faire des
     livres François pour L'Allemagne, et d'enseigner ce qu'il ne
     sait--c'est à dire, votre langue et la nôtre. Ce qu'il y a de
     Saxons lettrés qui les possèdent l'une ou l'autre, et qui
     s'intéressent au bien de leur pays, connoissent l'excellence
     de votre ouvrage, me pressent de faire imprimer à Dresde même
     la seconde édition de ma traduction, et je pourrois bien me
     rendre à leur avis. Je n'attends plus que votre réponse pour
     me décider. Quelque part qu'elle se fasse, je tâcherai de
     faire en sorte qu'elle soit belle et correcte.


     MONSIEUR,--Il y a à peu près un an que notre commerce
     épistolaire a commencé, et j'ai grand regret que par des
     contretems de tout espèce il ait été sitôt interrompu. Vous
     m'avez donné trop de preuves de votre politesse pour que je ne
     sois pas à présent convaincu que vous n'avez reçu aucune des
     lettres que je vous ai écrites de Dresde, et que j'avois
     essayé de vous faire passer par la voie de votre ambassadeur à
     cette cour. Prêt a quitter la Saxe, je vous écrivis encor de
     Leïpzic, pour vous rendre compte de mon séjour en ce pays, et
     vous dire que la dissipation où j'y avois vécu forcément, ne
     m'avoit pas permis d'avancer beaucoup dans la traduction de
     votre histoire de la malheureuse famille des Stuarts. J'ai
     depuis été en Hollande, et, comme je l'avois prévu j'ai appris
     qu'un de ces auteurs, qui travaillent à la fois aux gages des
     libraires qui les employent, en avoit fait une de son coté,
     qui étoit toute prête à paroître. Vous pouvez aisément juger
     du découragement où une pareille nouvelle m'a jetté. La
     manufacture des livres de Hollande fait réellement grand tort
     à notre littérature Françoise. On y employe à traduire un
     excellent ouvrage des gens qui ne seroient bons qu'à
     travailler à la fabrique du papier.


[456:1] From the MSS. R.S.E.

[456:2] See _antea_, p. 304.





HUME _to_ ----.

     _Edinburgh, August 16, 1760._

     SIR,--I am not surprised to find by your letter, that Mr. Gray
     should have entertained suspicions with regard to the
     authenticity of these fragments of our Highland poetry. The
     first time I was shown the copies of some of them in
     manuscript, by our friend John Home, I was inclined to be a
     little incredulous on that head; but Mr. Home removed my
     scruples, by informing me of the manner in which he procured
     them from Mr. Macpherson, the translator.

     These two gentlemen were drinking the waters together at
     Moffat last autumn, when their conversation fell upon Highland
     poetry, which Mr. Macpherson extolled very highly. Our friend,
     who knew him to be a good scholar, and a man of taste, found
     his curiosity excited, and asked whether he had ever
     translated any of them. Mr. Macpherson replied, that he never
     had attempted any such thing; and doubted whether it was
     possible to transfuse such beauties into our language; but,
     for Mr. Home's satisfaction, and in order to give him a
     general notion of the strain of that wild poetry, he would
     endeavour to turn one of them into English. He accordingly
     brought him one next day, which our friend was so much pleased
     with, that he never ceased soliciting Mr. Macpherson, till he
     insensibly produced that small volume which has been

     After this volume was in every body's hands, and universally
     admired, we heard every day new reasons, which put the
     authenticity, not the great antiquity which the translator
     ascribes to them, beyond all question; for their antiquity is
     a point, which must be ascertained by reasoning; though the
     arguments he employs seem very probable and convincing. But
     certain it is, that these poems are in every body's mouth in
     the Highlands, have been handed down from father to son, and
     are of an age beyond all memory and tradition.

     In the family of every Highland chieftain, there was anciently
     retained a bard, whose office was the same with that of the
     Greek rhapsodists; and the general subject of the poems which
     they recited was the wars of Fingal; an epoch no less
     remarkable among them, than the wars of Troy among the Greek
     poets. This custom is not even yet altogether abolished: the
     bard and piper are esteemed the most honourable offices in a
     chieftain's family, and these two characters are frequently
     united in the same person. Adam Smith, the celebrated
     Professor in Glasgow, told me that the piper of the
     Argyleshire militia repeated to him all those poems which Mr.
     Macpherson has translated, and many more of equal beauty.
     Major Mackay, Lord Reay's brother, also told me that he
     remembers them perfectly; as likewise did the Laird of
     Macfarlane, the greatest antiquarian whom we have in this
     country, and who insists so strongly on the historical truth,
     as well as on the poetical beauty of these productions. I
     could add the Laird and Lady Macleod to these authorities,
     with many more, if these were not sufficient, as they live in
     different parts of the Highlands, very remote from each other,
     and they could only be acquainted with poems that had become
     in a manner national works, and had gradually spread
     themselves into every mouth, and imprinted themselves on every

     Every body in Edinburgh is so convinced of this truth, that we
     have endeavoured to put Mr. Macpherson on a way of procuring
     us more of these wild flowers. He is a modest, sensible, young
     man, not settled in any living, but employed as a private
     tutor in Mr. Grahame of Balgowan's family, a way of life which
     he is not fond of. We have, therefore, set about a
     subscription of a guinea or two guineas a-piece, in order to
     enable him to quit that family, and undertake a mission into
     the Highlands, where he hopes to recover more of these
     fragments. There is, in particular, a country surgeon
     somewhere in Lochaber, who, he says, can recite a great number
     of them, but never committed them to writing; as indeed the
     orthography of the Highland language is not fixed, and the
     natives have always employed more the sword than the pen. This
     surgeon has by heart the Epic poem mentioned by Mr. Macpherson
     in his Preface; and as he is somewhat old, and is the only
     person living that has it entire, we are in the more haste to
     recover a monument, which will certainly be regarded as a
     curiosity in the republic of letters.

     I own that my first and chief objection to the authenticity of
     these fragments, was not on account of the noble and even
     tender strokes which they contain; for these are the offspring
     of genius and passion in all countries; I was only surprised
     at the regular plan which appears in some of these pieces, and
     which seems to be the work of a more cultivated age. None of
     the specimens of barbarous poetry known to us, the Hebrew,
     Arabian, or any other, contain this species of beauty; and if
     a regular epic poem, or even any thing of that kind, nearly
     regular, should also come from that rough climate or
     uncivilized people, it would appear to me a phenomenon
     altogether unaccountable.

     I remember Mr. Macpherson told me, that the heroes of this
     Highland epic were not only, like Homer's heroes, their own
     butchers, bakers, and cooks, but also their own shoemakers,
     carpenters, and smiths. He mentioned an incident which put
     this matter in a remarkable light. A warrior had the head of
     his spear struck off in battle; upon which he immediately
     retires behind the army, where a large forge was erected,
     makes a new one, hurries back to the action, pierces his
     enemy, while the iron, which was yet red-hot, hisses in the
     wound. This imagery you will allow to be singular, and so well
     imagined, that it would have been adopted by Homer, had the
     manners of the Greeks allowed him to have employed it.

     I forgot to mention, as another proof of the authenticity of
     these poems, and even of the reality of the adventures
     contained in them, that the names of the heroes, Fingal,
     Oscar, Osur, Oscan, Dermid, are still given in the Highlands
     to large mastiffs, in the same manner as we affix to them the
     names of Cæsar, Pompey, Hector, or the French that of

     It gives me pleasure to find, that a person of so fine a taste
     as Mr. Gray approves of these fragments; as it may convince
     us, that our fondness of them is not altogether founded on
     national prepossessions, which, however, you know to be a
     little strong. The translation is elegant; but I made an
     objection to the author, which I wish you would communicate to
     Mr. Gray, that we may judge of the justness of it. There
     appeared to me many verses in his prose, and all of them in
     the same measure with Mr. Shenstone's famous ballad:

     "Ye shepherds so cheerful and gay,
     Whose flocks never carelessly roam, &c."

     Pray, ask Mr. Gray, whether he made the same remark, &c. and
     whether he thinks it a blemish. Yours most sincerely,



     _Lisle St. Leicester Fields, 19th Sept. 1763._

     DEAR SIR,--I live in a place where I have the pleasure of
     frequently hearing justice done to your Dissertation; but
     never heard it mentioned in a company where some one person or
     other did not express his doubts with regard to the
     authenticity of the poems which are its subject; and I often
     hear them totally rejected with disdain and indignation, as a
     palpable and most impudent forgery. This opinion has, indeed,
     become very prevalent among the men of letters in London; and
     I can foresee, that in a few years the poems, if they continue
     to stand on their present footing, will be thrown aside, and
     will fall into final oblivion. It is in vain to say that their
     beauty will support them, independent of their authenticity.
     No; that beauty is not so much to the general taste as to
     ensure you of this event; and if people be once disgusted with
     the idea of a forgery, they are thence apt to entertain a more
     disadvantageous notion of the excellency of the production
     itself. The absurd pride and caprice of Macpherson himself,
     who scorns, as he pretends, to satisfy any body that doubts
     his veracity, has tended much to confirm this general
     scepticism; and I must own, for my own part, that, though I
     have had many particular reasons to believe these poems
     genuine, more than it is possible for any Englishman of
     letters to have, yet I am not entirely without my scruples on
     that head. You think that the internal proofs in favour of the
     poems are very convincing; so they are: but there are also
     internal reasons against them, particularly from the manners,
     notwithstanding all the art with which you have endeavoured to
     throw a varnish on that circumstance; and the preservation of
     such long and such connected poems by oral tradition alone,
     during a course of fourteen centuries, is so much out of the
     ordinary course of human affairs, that it requires the
     strongest reasons to make us believe it.

     My present purpose, therefore, is to apply to you, in the name
     of all the men of letters of this, and I may say of all other
     countries, to establish this capital point, and to give us
     proof that these poems are, I do not say so ancient as the age
     of Severus, but that they were not forged within these five
     years by James Macpherson. These proofs must not be arguments,
     but testimonies. People's ears are fortified against the
     former: the latter may yet find their way before the poems are
     consigned to total oblivion. Now the testimonies may, in my
     opinion, be of two kinds. Macpherson pretends that there is an
     ancient manuscript of part of Fingal, in the family, I think,
     of Clanronald. Get that fact ascertained by more than one
     person of credit; let these persons be acquainted with the
     Gaelic; let them compare the original and the translation; and
     let them testify the fidelity of the latter. But the chief
     point in which it will be necessary for you to exert yourself,
     will be to get positive testimony from many different hands,
     that such poems are vulgarly recited in the Highlands, and
     have there long been the entertainment of the people. This
     testimony must be as particular as it is positive. It will not
     be sufficient that a Highland gentleman or clergyman say or
     write to you, that he has heard such poems; nobody questions
     that there are traditional poems in that part of the country,
     where the names of Ossian and Fingal, and Oscar, and Gaul, are
     mentioned in every stanza. The only doubt is, whether these
     poems have any farther resemblance to the poems published by
     Macpherson. I was told by Bourke, a very ingenious Irish
     gentleman, the author of a tract on the Sublime and Beautiful,
     that on the first publication of Macpherson's book, all the
     Irish cried out, We know all these poems, we have always heard
     them from our infancy. But when he asked more particular
     questions, he could never learn that any one had ever heard,
     or could repeat the original of any one paragraph of the
     pretended translation. This generality, then, must be
     carefully guarded against, as being of no authority.

     Your connexions among your brethren of the clergy, may here
     be of great use to you. You may easily learn the names of all
     ministers of that country, who understand the language of it;
     you may write to them, expressing the doubts that have arisen,
     and desiring them to send for such of the bards as remain, and
     make them rehearse their ancient poems. Let the clergymen,
     then, have the translation in their hands, and let them write
     back to you, and inform you that they heard such a one,
     (naming him,) living in such a place, rehearse the original of
     such a passage, from such a page to such a page of the English
     translation, which appeared exact and faithful. If you give to
     the public a sufficient number of such testimonies, you may
     prevail. But I venture to foretel to you that nothing less
     will serve the purpose; nothing less will so much as command
     the attention of the public. Becket tells me that he is to
     give us a new edition of your Dissertation, accompanied with
     some remarks on Temora; here is a favourable opportunity for
     you to execute this purpose. You have a just and laudable zeal
     for the credit of these poems; they are, if genuine, one of
     the greatest curiosities, in all respects, that ever was
     discovered in the commonwealth of letters; and the child is,
     in a manner, become yours by adoption, as Macpherson has
     totally abandoned all care of it. These motives call upon you
     to exert yourself; and I think it were suitable to your
     candour, and most satisfactory also to the reader, to publish
     all the answers to all the letters you write, even though some
     of these letters should make somewhat against your own opinion
     in this affair. We shall always be the more assured that no
     arguments are strained beyond their proper force, and no
     contrary arguments suppressed, where such an entire
     communication is made to us. Becket joins me heartily in this
     application, and he owns to me, that the believers in the
     authenticity of the poems diminish every day among the men of
     sense and reflection. Nothing less than what I propose, can
     throw the balance on the other side. I depart from hence in
     about three weeks, and should be glad to hear your resolution
     before that time.

     This journey to Paris is likely to contribute much to my
     entertainment, and will certainly tend much to improve my
     fortune; so that I have no reason to repent that I have
     allowed myself to be dragged from my retreat. I shall
     henceforth converse with authors, but shall not probably for
     some time have much leisure to peruse them; which is not
     perhaps the way of knowing them most to their advantage. I
     carried only four books along with me, a Virgil, a Horace, a
     Tasso, and a Tacitus. I could have wished also to carry my
     Homer, but I found him too bulky. I own that, in common
     decency, I ought to have left my Horace behind me, and that I
     ought to be ashamed to look him in the face. For I am sensible
     that, at my years, no temptation would have seduced him from
     his retreat; nor would he ever have been induced to enter so
     late into the path of ambition.[468:1] But I deny that I enter
     into the path of ambition; I only walk into the green fields
     of amusement; and I affirm, that external amusement becomes
     more and more necessary as one advances in years, and can find
     less supplies from his own passions or imagination. I am,



     _Edinburgh, 29th September, 1763._

     DEAR SIR,--I am much obliged to you for the information you
     have communicated to me, and for the concern you show that
     justice should be done to our Highland Poems. From what I saw
     myself when at London, I could easily believe that the
     disposition of men of letters was rather averse to their
     reception as genuine; but I trusted that the internal
     characters of their authenticity, together with the occasional
     testimonies given to them by Highland gentlemen who are every
     where scattered, would gradually surmount these prejudices.
     For my own part, it is impossible for me to entertain the
     smallest doubt of their being real productions, and ancient
     ones, too, of the Highlands. Neither Macpherson's parts,
     though good, nor his industry, were equal to such a forgery.
     The whole publication, you know, was in its first rise
     accidental. Macpherson was entreated and dragged into it. Some
     of the MSS. sent to him passed through my hands. Severals of
     them he translated, in a manner, under my eye. He gave me
     these native and genuine accounts of them, which bore plain
     characters of truth. What he said was often confirmed to me by
     others. I had testimonies from several Highlanders concerning
     their authenticity, in words strong and explicit. And, setting
     all this aside, is it a thing which any man of sense can
     suppose, that Macpherson would venture to forge such a body of
     poetry, and give it to the public as ancient poems and songs,
     well known at this day through all the Highlands of Scotland,
     when he could have been refuted and exposed by every one of
     his own countrymen? Is it credible that he could bring so many
     thousand people into a conspiracy with him to keep his secret?
     or that some would not be found who, attached to their own
     ancient songs, would not cry out, "These are not the poems we
     deal in. You have forged characters and sentiments we know
     nothing about; you have modernized and dressed us up: we have
     much better songs and poems of our own." Who but John Bull
     could entertain the belief of an imposture so incredible as
     this? The utmost I should think any rational scepticism could
     suppose is this, that Macpherson might have sometimes
     interpolated, or endeavoured to improve, by some corrections
     of his own. Of this I am verily persuaded there was very
     little, if any at all. Had it prevailed, we would have been
     able to trace more marks of inconsistency, and a different
     hand and style; whereas, these poems are more remarkable for
     nothing than an entire, and supported, and uniform consistency
     of character and manner through the whole.

     However, seeing we have to do with such incredulous people, I
     think it were a pity not to do justice to such valuable
     monuments of genius. I have already, therefore, entered upon
     the task you prescribe me, though I foresee it may give me
     some trouble. I have writ by last post to Sir James Macdonald,
     who is fortunately at this time in the Isle of Skye. I have
     also, through the Laird of Macleod, writ to Clanronald, and
     likewise to two clergymen in the Isle of Skye, men of letters
     and character; one of them, Macpherson minister of Sleat, the
     author of a very learned work about to be published concerning
     the Antiquities of Scotland. Several others in Argyleshire,
     the Islands, and other poetical regions, worthy clergymen, who
     are well versed in the Gaelic, I intend also without delay to
     make application to.

     My requisition to them all is for such positive and express
     testimonies as you desire; MSS. if they have any, compared
     before witnesses with the printed book, and recitations of
     bards compared in the same manner. I have given them express
     directions in what manner to proceed, so as to avoid that
     loose generality which, as you observe, can signify nothing.
     What use it may be proper to put these testimonies to, I can
     only judge after having got all my materials. I apprehend
     there may be some difficulty in obtaining the consent of those
     concerned to publish their letters, nor might it be proper.
     But concerning this, I may afterwards advise with you and my
     other friends.

     In the meantime, you may please acquaint Mr. Becket, that this
     must retard for some time the publication of his new edition
     with my Dissertation; as the least I can allow for the return
     of letters from such distant parts, where the communication by
     post is irregular and slow, together with the time necessary
     for their executing what is desired, will be three months,
     perhaps some more; and, assuredly, any new evidence we can
     give the world, must accompany my Dissertation.

     I am in some difficulty with Macpherson himself in this
     affair. Capricious as he is, I would not willingly hurt or
     disoblige him; and yet I apprehend that such an inquiry as
     this, which is like tracing him out, and supposing his
     veracity called in question, will not please him. I must write
     him by next post, and endeavour to put the affair in such a
     light as to soften him; which you, if you see him, may do
     likewise, and show him the necessity of something of this kind
     being done; and with more propriety, perhaps, by another than



     _6th October, 1763._

MY DEAR SIR,--I am very glad you have undertaken the task which I used
the freedom to recommend to you. Nothing less than what you propose will
serve the purpose. You need expect no assistance from Macpherson, who
flew into a passion when I told him of the letter I had wrote to you.
But you must not mind so strange and heteroclite a mortal, than whom I
have scarce ever known a man more perverse and unamiable. He will
probably depart for Florida with governor Johnstone, and I would advise
him to travel among the Chickisaws or Cherokees, in order to tame him
and civilize him.

     I should be much pleased to hear of the success of your
     labours. Your method of directing to me is under cover to the
     Earl of Hertford, Northumberland House; any letters that come
     to me under that direction, will be sent over to me at Paris.

     I beg my compliments to Robertson and Jardine. I am very sorry
     to hear of the state of Ferguson's health. John Hume went to
     the country yesterday with Lord Bute. I was introduced the
     other day to that noble lord, at his desire. I believe him a
     very good man, a better man than a politician.

     Since writing the above, I have been in company with Mrs.
     Montague, a lady of great distinction in this place, and a
     zealous partisan of Ossian. I told her of your intention, and
     even used the freedom to read your letter to her. She was
     extremely pleased with your project; and the rather as the Duc
     de Nivernois, she said, had talked to her much on that subject
     last winter, and desired, if possible, to get collected some
     proofs of the authenticity of these poems, which he proposed
     to lay before the Académie des Belles Lettres at Paris. You
     see, then, that you are upon a great stage in this inquiry,
     and that many people have their eyes upon you. This is a new
     motive for rendering your proofs as complete as possible. I
     cannot conceive any objection, which a man, even of the
     gravest character, could have to your publication of his
     letters, which will only attest a plain fact known to him.
     Such scruples, if they occur, you must endeavour to remove.
     For on this trial of yours will the judgment of the public
     finally depend.

     Lord Bath, who was in the company, agreed with me, that such
     documents of authenticity are entirely necessary and

     Please to write to me as soon as you make any advances, that I
     may have something to say on the subject to the literati of
     Paris. I beg my compliments to all those who bear that
     character at Edinburgh. I cannot but look upon all of them as
     my friends. I am, &c.[471:1]



     I think the fate of this production the most curious effect of
     prejudice, where superstition had no share, that ever was in
     the world. A tiresome, insipid performance; which, if it had
     been presented in its real form, as the work of a
     contemporary, an obscure Highlander, no man could ever have
     had the patience to have once perused, has, by passing for the
     poetry of a royal bard, who flourished fifteen centuries ago,
     been universally read, has been pretty generally admired, and
     has been translated, in prose and verse, into several
     languages of Europe. Even the style of the supposed English
     translation has been admired, though harsh and absurd in the
     highest degree; jumping perpetually from verse to prose, and
     from prose to verse; and running, most of it, in the light
     cadence and measure of Molly Mog. Such is the Erse epic, which
     has been puffed with a zeal and enthusiasm that has drawn a
     ridicule on my countrymen.

     But, to cut off at once the whole source of its reputation, I
     shall collect a few very obvious arguments against the notion
     of its great antiquity, with which so many people have been
     intoxicated, and which alone made it worthy of any attention.

     (1.) The very manner in which it was presented to the public
     forms a strong presumption against its authenticity. The
     pretended translator goes on a mission to the Highlands to
     recover and collect a work, which, he affirmed, was dispersed,
     in fragments, among the natives. He returns, and gives a
     quarto volume, and then another quarto, with the same
     unsupported assurance as if it were a translation of the
     Orlando Furioso, or Lousiade, or any poem the best known in
     Europe. It might have been expected, at least, that he would
     have told the public, and the subscribers to his mission, and
     the purchasers of his book, _This part I got from such a
     person, in such a place; that other part, from such another
     person. I was enabled to correct my first copy of such a
     passage by the recital of such another person; a fourth
     supplied such a defect in my first copy_. By such a history of
     his gradual discoveries he would have given some face of
     probability to them. Any man of common sense, who was in
     earnest, must, in this case, have seen the peculiar necessity
     of that precaution, any man that had regard to his own
     character, would have anxiously followed that obvious and easy
     method. All the friends of the pretended translator exhorted
     and entreated him to give them and the public that
     satisfaction. No! those who could doubt his veracity were
     fools, whom it was not worth while to satisfy. The most
     incredible of all facts was to be taken on his word, whom
     nobody knew; and an experiment was to be made, I suppose in
     jest, how far the credulity of the public would give way to
     assurance and dogmatical affirmation.

     (2.) But, to show the utter incredibility of the fact, let
     these following considerations be weighed, or, rather, simply
     reflected on; for it seems ridiculous to weigh them. Consider
     the size of these poems. What is given us is asserted to be
     only a part of a much greater collection; yet even these
     pieces amount to two quartos. And they were composed, you say,
     in the Highlands, about fifteen centuries ago; and have been
     faithfully transmitted, ever since, by oral tradition, through
     ages totally ignorant of letters, by the rudest, perhaps, of
     all the European nations; the most necessitous, the most
     turbulent, the most ferocious, and the most unsettled. Did
     ever any event happen that approached within a hundred degrees
     of this mighty wonder, even to the nations the most fortunate
     in their climate and situation? Can a ballad be shown that has
     passed, uncorrupted, by oral tradition, through three
     generations, among the Greeks, or Italians, or Phoenicians,
     or Egyptians, or even among the natives of such countries as
     Otaheite or Molacca, who seem exempted by nature from all
     attention but to amusement, to poetry, and music?

     But the Celtic nations, it is said, had peculiar advantages
     for preserving their traditional poetry. The Irish, the Welsh,
     the Bretons, are all Celtic nations, much better entitled than
     the Highlanders, from their soil, and climate, and situation,
     to have leisure for these amusements. They, accordingly,
     present us not with complete epic and historical poems, (for
     they never had the assurance to go that length,) but with very
     copious and circumstantial traditions, which are allowed, by
     all men of sense, to be scandalous and ridiculous impostures.

     (3.) The style and genius of these pretended poems are another
     sufficient proof of the imposition. The Lapland and Runic
     odes, conveyed to us, besides their small compass, have a
     savage rudeness, and sometimes grandeur, suited to those ages.
     But this Erse poetry has an insipid correctness, and
     regularity, and uniformity, which betrays a man without
     genius, that has been acquainted with the productions of
     civilized nations, and had his imagination so limited to that
     tract, that it was impossible for him even to mimic the
     character which he pretended to assume.

     The manners are still a more striking proof of their want of
     authenticity. We see nothing but the affected generosity and
     gallantry of chivalry, which are quite unknown, not only to
     all savage people, but to every nation not trained in these
     artificial modes of thinking. In Homer, for instance, and
     Virgil, and Ariosto, the heroes are represented as making a
     nocturnal incursion into the camp of the enemy. Homer and
     Virgil, who certainly were educated in much more civilized
     ages than those of Ossian, make no scruple of representing
     their heroes as committing undistinguished slaughter on the
     sleeping foe. But Orlando walks quietly through the camp of
     the Saracens, and scorns to kill even an infidel who cannot
     defend himself. Gaul and Oscar are knight-errants, still more
     romantic: they make a noise in the midst of the enemy's camp,
     that they may waken them, and thereby have a right to fight
     with them and to kill them. Nay, Fingal carries his ideas of
     chivalry still farther; much beyond what was ever dreamt of by
     Amadis de Gaul or Lancelot de Lake. When his territory is
     invaded, he scorns to repel the enemy with his whole force: he
     sends only an equal number against them, under an inferior
     captain: when these are repulsed, he sends a second
     detachment; and it is not till after a double defeat, that he
     deigns himself to descend from the hill, where he had
     remained, all the while, an idle spectator, and to attack the
     enemy. Fingal and Swaran combat each other all day, with the
     greatest fury. When darkness suspends the fight, they feast
     together with the greatest amity, and then renew the combat
     with the return of light. Are these the manners of barbarous
     nations, or even of people that have common sense? We may
     remark, that all this narrative is supposed to be given us by
     a contemporary poet. The facts, therefore, must be supposed
     entirely, or nearly, conformable to truth. The gallantry and
     extreme delicacy towards the women, which is found in these
     productions, is, if possible, still more contrary to the
     manners of barbarians. Among all rude nations, force and
     courage are the predominant virtues; and the inferiority of
     the females, in these particulars, renders them an object of
     contempt, not of deference and regard.

     (4.) But I derive a new argument against the antiquity of
     these poems, from the general tenor of the narrative. Where
     manners are represented in them, probability, or even
     possibility, are totally disregarded: but in all other
     respects, the events are within the course of nature; no
     giants, no monsters, no magic, no incredible feats of strength
     or activity. Every transaction is conformable to familiar
     experience, and scarcely even deserves the name of wonderful.
     Did this ever happen in ancient and barbarous poetry? Why is
     this characteristic wanting, so essential to rude and ignorant
     ages? Ossian, you say, was singing the exploits of his
     contemporaries, and therefore could not falsify them in any
     great degree. But if this had been a restraint, your pretended
     Ossian had never sung the exploits of his contemporaries; he
     had gone back a generation or two, which would have been
     sufficient to throw an entire obscurity on the events; and he
     would thereby have attained the marvellous, which is alone
     striking to barbarians. I desire it may be observed, that
     manners are the only circumstances which a rude people cannot
     falsify; because they have no notion of any manners beside
     their own: but it is easy for them to let loose their
     imagination, and violate the course of nature, in every other
     particular; and indeed they take no pleasure in any other kind
     of narrative. In Ossian, nature is violated, where alone she
     ought to have been preserved; is preserved where alone she
     ought to have been violated.

     (5.) But there is another species of the marvellous, wanting
     in Ossian, which is inseparable from all nations, civilized as
     well as barbarous, but still more, if possible, from the
     barbarous, and that is religion; no religious sentiment in
     this Erse poetry. All those Celtic heroes are more complete
     atheists than ever were bred in the school of Epicurus. To
     account for this singularity, we are told that a few
     generations before Ossian, the people quarrelled with their
     Druidical priests, and having expelled them, never afterwards
     adopted any other species of religion. It is not quite
     unnatural, I own, for the people to quarrel with their
     priests,--as we did with ours at the Reformation; but we
     attached ourselves with fresh zeal to our new preachers and
     new system; and this passion increased in proportion to our
     hatred of the old. But I suppose the reason of this strange
     absurdity in our new Erse poetry, is, that the author, finding
     by the assumed age of his heroes, that he must have given them
     the Druidical religion, and not trusting to his literature,
     (which seems indeed to be very slender) for making the
     representations consistent with antiquity, thought it safest
     to give them no religion at all; a circumstance so wonderfully
     unnatural, that it is sufficient alone, if men had eyes, to
     detect the imposition.

     (6.) The state of the arts, as represented in those poems, is
     totally incompatible with the age assigned to them. We know,
     that the houses even of the Southern Britons, till conquered
     by the Romans, were nothing but huts erected in the woods; but
     a stately stone building is mentioned by Ossian, of which the
     walls remain, after it is consumed with fire. The melancholy
     circumstance of a fox is described, who looks out at the
     windows; an image, if I be not mistaken, borrowed from the
     Scriptures. The Caledonians, as well as the Irish, had no
     shipping but currachs, or wicker boats covered with hides: yet
     are they represented as passing, in great military
     expeditions, from the Hebrides to Denmark, Norway, and Sweden;
     a most glaring absurdity. They live entirely by hunting, yet
     muster armies, which make incursions to these countries as
     well as to Ireland: though it is certain from the experience
     of America, that the whole Highlands would scarce subsist a
     hundred persons by hunting. They are totally unacquainted with
     fishing; though that occupation first tempts all rude nations
     to venture on the sea. Ossian alludes to a wind or water-mill,
     a machine then unknown to the Greeks and Romans, according to
     the opinion of the best antiquaries. His barbarians, though
     ignorant of tillage, are well acquainted with the method of
     working all kinds of metals. The harp is the musical
     instrument of Ossian; but the bagpipe, from time immemorial,
     has been the instrument of the Highlanders. If ever the harp
     had been known among them, it never had given place to the
     other barbarous discord.

          Stridenti miserum stipula disperdere carmen.

     (7.) All the historical facts of this poem are opposed by
     traditions, which, if all these tales be not equally
     contemptible, seem to merit much more attention. The Irish
     Scoti are the undoubted ancestors of the present Highlanders,
     who are but a small colony of that ancient people. But the
     Irish traditions make Fingal, Ossian, Oscar, all Irishmen, and
     place them some centuries distant from the Erse heroes. They
     represent them as giants, and monsters, and enchanters, a sure
     mark of a considerable antiquity of these traditions. I ask
     the partisans of Erse poetry, since the names of these heroes
     have crept over to Ireland, and have become quite familiar to
     the natives of that country, how it happens, that not a line
     of this poetry, in which they are all celebrated, which, it is
     pretended, alone preserves their memory with our Highlanders,
     and which is composed by one of these heroes themselves in the
     Irish language, ever found its way thither? The songs and
     traditions of the Senachies, the genuine poetry of the Irish,
     carry in their rudeness and absurdity the inseparable
     attendants of barbarism, a very different aspect from the
     insipid correctness of Ossian; where the incidents, if you
     will pardon the antithesis, are the most unnatural, merely
     because they are natural. The same observation extends to the
     Welsh, another Celtic nation.

     (8.) The fiction of these poems is, if possible, still more
     palpably detected, by the great numbers of other traditions,
     which, the author pretends, are still fresh in the Highlands,
     with regard to all the personages. The poems, composed in the
     age of Truthil and Cormac, ancestors of Ossian, are, he says,
     full of complaints against the roguery and tyranny of the
     Druids. He talks as familiarly of the poetry of that period as
     Lucian or Longinus would of the Greek poetry of the Socratic
     age. I suppose here is a new rich mine of poetry ready to
     break out upon us, if the author thinks it can turn to
     account. For probably he does not mind the danger of
     detection, which he has little reason to apprehend from his
     experience of the public credulity. But I shall venture to
     assert, without any reserve or further inquiry, that there is
     no Highlander who is not, in some degree, a man of letters,
     that ever so much as heard there was a Druid in the world. The
     margin of every page almost of this wonderful production is
     supported, as he pretends, by minute oral traditions with
     regard to the personages. To the poem of Dar-thula, there is
     prefixed a long account of the pedigree, marriages, and
     adventures of three brothers, Nathos, Althos, and Ardan,
     heroes that lived fifteen hundred years ago in Argyleshire,
     and whose memory, it seems, is still celebrated there, and in
     every part of the Highlands. How ridiculous to advance such a
     pretension to the learned, who know that there is no tradition
     of Alexander the great all over the East; that the Turks, who
     have heard of him from their communication with the Greeks,
     believe him to have been the captain of Solomon's guard; that
     the Greek and Roman story, the moment it departs from the
     historical ages, becomes a heap of fiction and absurdity; that
     Cyrus himself, the conqueror of the East, became so much
     unknown, even in little more than half a century, that
     Herodotus himself, born and bred in Asia, within the limits of
     the Persian empire, could tell nothing of him, more than of
     Croesus, the contemporary of Cyrus, and who reigned in the
     neighbourhood of the historian, but the most ridiculous
     fables; and that the grandfather of Hengist and Horsa, the
     first Saxon conquerors, was conceived to be a divinity. I
     suppose it is sufficiently evident, that without the help of
     books and history, the very name of Julius Cæsar would at
     present be totally unknown in Europe. A gentleman, who
     travelled into Italy, told me, that in visiting Frescati or
     Tusculum, his cicerone showed him the foundation and ruins of
     Cicero's country house. He asked the fellow who this Cicero
     might be, "Un grandissimo gigante," said he.

     (9.) I ask, since the memory of Fingal and his ancestors and
     descendants is still so fresh in the Highlands, how it
     happens, that none of the compilers of the Scotch fabulous
     history ever laid hold of them, and inserted them in the list
     of our ancient monarchs, but were obliged to have recourse to
     direct fiction and lying to make out their genealogies? It is
     to be remarked, that the Highlanders, who are now but an
     inferior part of the nation, anciently composed the whole; so
     that no tradition of theirs could be unknown to the court, the
     nobility, and the whole kingdom. Where, then, have these
     wonderful traditions skulked during so many centuries, that
     they have never come to light till yesterday? And the very
     names of our ancient kings are unknown; though it is
     pretended, that a very particular narrative of their
     transactions was still preserved, and universally diffused
     among a numerous tribe, who are the original stem of the
     nation. Father Innes, the only judicious writer that ever
     touched our ancient history, finds in monastic records the
     names, and little more than the names, of kings from Fergus,
     whom we call Fergus the Second, who lived long after the
     supposed Fingal: and he thence begins the true history of the
     nation. He had too good sense to give any attention to
     pretended traditions even of kings, much less would he have
     believed that the memory and adventures of every leader of
     banditti in every valley of the Highlands, could be
     circumstantially preserved by oral tradition through more than
     fifteen centuries.

     (10.) I shall observe, that the character of the author, from
     all his publications, (for I shall mention nothing else,)
     gives us the greatest reason to suspect him of such a
     ludicrous imposition on the public. For to be sure it is only
     ludicrous; or at most a trial of wit, like that of the
     sophist, who gave us Phalaris' Epistles, or of him that
     counterfeited Cicero's Consolation, or supplied the fragments
     of Petronius. These literary amusements have been very common;
     and unless supported by too violent asseverations, or
     persisted in too long, never drew the opprobrious appellation
     of impostor on the author.

     He writes an ancient history of Britain, which is plainly
     ludicrous. He gives us a long circumstantial history of the
     emigrations of the Belgae, Cimbri, and Sarmatae, so
     unsupported by any author of antiquity that nothing but a
     particular revelation could warrant it; and yet it is
     delivered with such seeming confidence, (for we must not think
     he was in earnest,) that the history of the Punic wars is not
     related with greater seriousness by Livy. He has even left
     palpable contradictions in his narrative, in order to try the
     faith of his reader. He tells us, for instance, that the
     present inhabitants of Germany have no more connexion with the
     Germans mentioned by Tacitus, than with the ancient
     inhabitants of Peloponnesus: the Saxons and Angles, in
     particular, were all Sarmatians, a quite different tribe from
     the Germans, in manners, laws, language, and customs. Yet a
     few pages after, when he pretends to deliver the origin of the
     Anglo-Saxon constitution, he professedly derives the whole
     account from Tacitus. All this was only an experiment to see
     how far the force of affirmation could impose on the credulity
     of the public: but it did not succeed; he was here in the open
     daylight of Greek and Roman erudition, not in the obscurity of
     his Erse poetry and traditions. Finding the style of his
     Ossian admired by some, he attempts a translation of Homer in
     the very same style. He begins and finishes, in six weeks, a
     work that was for ever to eclipse the translation of Pope,
     whom he does not even deign to mention in his preface; but
     this joke was still more unsuccessful: he made a shift,
     however, to bring the work to a second edition, where he says,
     that, notwithstanding all the envy of his malignant opponents,
     his name alone will preserve the work to a more equitable

     In short, let him now take off the mask, and fairly and openly
     laugh at the credulity of the public, who could believe that
     long Erse epics had been secretly preserved in the Highlands
     of Scotland, from the age of Severus till his time.

     The imposition is so gross, that he may well ask the world how
     they could ever possibly believe him to be in earnest?

     But it may reasonably be expected that I should mention the
     external positive evidence, which is brought by Dr. Blair to
     support the authenticity of these poems. I own, that this
     evidence, considered in itself, is very respectable, and
     sufficient to support any fact, that both lies within the
     bounds of credibility, and has not become a matter of party.
     But will any man pretend to bring human testimony to prove,
     that above twenty thousand verses have been transmitted, by
     tradition and memory, during more than fifteen hundred years;
     that is, above fifty generations, according to the ordinary
     course of nature? verses, too, which have not, in their
     subject, any thing alluring or inviting to the people, no
     miracle, no wonders, no superstitions, no useful instruction;
     a people, too, who, during twelve centuries, at least, of that
     period, had no writing, no alphabet; and who, even in the
     other three centuries, made very little use of that imperfect
     alphabet for any purpose; a people who, from the miserable
     disadvantages of their soil and climate, were perpetually
     struggling with the greatest necessities of nature; who, from
     the imperfections of government, lived in a continual state of
     internal hostility; ever harassed with the incursions of
     neighbouring tribes, or meditating revenge and retaliation on
     their neighbours. Have such a people leisure to think of any
     poetry, except, perhaps, a miserable song or ballad, in praise
     of their own chieftain, or to the disparagement of his rivals?

     I should be sorry to be suspected of saying any thing against
     the manners of the present Highlanders. I really believe that,
     besides their signal bravery, there is not any people in
     Europe, not even excepting the Swiss, who have more plain
     honesty and fidelity, are more capable of gratitude and
     attachment, than that race of men. Yet it was, no doubt, a
     great surprise to them to hear that, over and above their
     known good qualities, they were also possessed of an
     excellence which they never dreamt of, an elegant taste in
     poetry, and inherited from the most remote antiquity the
     finest compositions of that kind, far surpassing the popular
     traditional poems of any other language; no wonder they
     crowded to give testimony in favour of their authenticity.
     Most of them, no doubt, were sincere in the delusion; the same
     names that were to be found in their popular ballads were
     carefully preserved in the new publication; some incidents,
     too, were perhaps transferred from the one to the other; some
     sentiments also might be copied; and, on the whole, they were
     willing to believe, and still more willing to persuade others,
     that the whole was genuine. On such occasions, the greatest
     cloud of witnesses makes no manner of evidence. What Jansenist
     was there in Paris, which contains several thousands, that
     would not have given evidence for the miracles of Abbé Paris?
     The miracle is greater, but not the evidence, with regard to
     the authenticity of Ossian.

     The late President Forbes was a great believer in the second
     sight; and I make no question but he could, on a month's
     warning, have overpowered you with evidence in its favour. But
     as finite added to finite never approaches a hair's breadth
     nearer to infinite; so a fact incredible in itself, acquires
     not the smallest accession of probability by the accumulation
     of testimony.

     The only real wonder in the whole affair is, that a person of
     so fine a taste as Dr. Blair, should be so great an admirer of
     these productions; and one of so clear and cool a judgment
     collect evidence of their authenticity.


[465:1] _European Magazine_, May, 1784, p. 327.

[468:1] See this observation commented on by Blair, in vol. ii. p. 167.

[468:2] Laing's History, iv. 496. Report of the Highland Society on
Ossian's Poems.

[470:1] MS. R.S.E.

[471:1] Laing's History, iv. 500. Report of the Highland Society.

[471:2] See this referred to in Vol. II., p. 85.

     END OF VOL. I.


     Printed by WILLIAM TAIT, 107, Prince's Street.


  Abercrombie--General James, i. 212, 222, 311.

  Abingdon--Lord, ii. 185.

  Adam--John, architect, ii. 174, 187, 195, 286.

  ----, William--Lord Chief Commissioner, ii. 174.
    His notices of Hume, 439.

  ----, Mrs., ii. 174, 286.

  Advocates' Library.
    Hume as librarian, i. 367.
    Its extent, 373.
    French works removed from, as improper, 395.
    Hume resigns librarianship of, ii. 18.

  Aiguillon--Duchesse de, ii. 175.

  Albemarle--Lord, i. 245-246.

  Alembert--D', i. 94; ii. 181.
    Hume's friendship with, 218, 270, 323, 345, 348, 350, 354, 355, 377,

  Allen--Dr., his inquiry into the rise and progress of the royal
      prerogative, ii. 122.

  Amelia--The Princess, ii. 292.

  Ancient Nations--Essay on the populousness of, i. 363.

  Anderson--Revd. George, i. 425.
    His writings against Hume and Lord Kames, 428.
    His death, 432.

  Anderson--Dr. Walter, i. 424.

  Annandale--Marquis of.
    His invitation to Hume, i. 170.
    His mental condition, 172.
    Hume's residence with, 170, _et seq._

  ----, Marchioness-Dowager of, i. 185.
    Letter to, 203.

  Anson--Madame, ii. 236.

  Anstruther--General, i. 383.

    Their use to the historian, ii. 122-123.

  Antiquity, the populousness of.
    Dissertation on, i. 326.

  Aquinas--His theory of association, i. 286.
    Its alleged similarity to Hume's, 287.

  Argyle--Duke of, ii. 55.

  Armstrong--Dr., ii. 64, 148.

  Arnauld--Antony, i. 432.

  Artois--Comte d', ii. 178.

    Its proceedings against Hume, i. 429.
    Overture to, regarding him, 430.

  Association--Hume's theory of, i. 286.

  Aylesbury--Lady, ii. 305, 385.

  Bacon--Lord, ii. 67.

  Balance of trade--Hume's opinions on, i. 358.

  Balcarras--Earl of, letter to, i. 412.
    His appearance, 413.

  Balfour--James of Pilrig, i. 160, 345; ii. 192, 414, 415.

  Bank--Cash credit in.
    Its nature, i. 359.

  Banking--Hume's remarks on, i. 359.

  Barbantane--Marquise de, ii. 280, 309, 322, 360.

  Barré--Colonel, ii. 150, 289.

  Bastide--M., ii. 236, 241.

  Bath--Hume's visit to, ii. 495, _et seq._

  Bayard--The Chevalier, ii. 441.

  Beauchamp--Lord, ii. 161, 162, 171, 183, 204, 245, 268, 287.

  Beauvais--Princess, ii. 497.

  Beauveau--Madame de, ii. 206.

  Beccaria, i. 121.

  Bedford--Duke of, ii. 279, 280, 285, 290.

  ----, Duchess of, ii. 279.

  Bellman's Petition, i. 315, 317.

  Belot--Madame, her translation of Hume's works, ii. 176.

  Bentham, i. 121, 384.

  Berri--Duc de, ii. 178.

  Bertrand--Professor, ii. 187.

  Betham--Mr. and Mrs., i. 411.

  Birch--Dr., i. 416, 436; ii. 82.

    Letters from, ii. 488, 514-515.

  Blacklock--Thomas, i. 385.
    Hume's first acquaintance with, 388.
    His ideas of light and colours, 389.
    Account of his early life, 390.
    Publication of his poems, 392.
    Miscellaneous notices of, 393, 398; ii. 164, 454.
    Letters from, 399.

  Blacklock--Mrs., ii. 401.

  Blackwell--Hume's criticism on his Court of Augustus, i. 434.

  Blair--Dr., i. 427; ii. 86, 115, 117, 139, 153, 167, 175, 192, 198.
    Letters to, 180, 181, 193, 229, 265, 267, 286, 288, 297, 310, 312,
        318, 344, 365, 371, 386, 395, 421, 472.

  ----, Robert, President of the Court of Session, ii. 423.

  Blanc--Abbé le, i. 365.
    His translations from Hume, 366.
    Letter to, 406, 409; ii. 347.

  Bologna--University of, i. 151.

  Bon--Abbé le, his death, ii. 428.

  Bonne--Hume's account of, i. 249.

  Boswell--James, received Johnson in Hume's house, ii. 138, 139, 307,

  Boufflers--Madame de, ii. 72.
    Account of, 90.
    Her letters to Hume, 94, 99, 106, 110.
    Letters to, 114, 205, 246, 247.
    Notice of, 251, 279, 280, 298, 303, 323, 330, 346, 352, 353, 429.
    Last letter to, 513.

  Bourgés--University of, i. 151.

  Bower--Archibald, ii. 58.

  Boyle--The Honourable Mr., i. 293.

  Brand--Mr., ii. 225.

  Breda--Hume's account of, i. 244.

  Brest, ii. 63.

  Brienne, Archbishop of Toulouse, ii. 283, 497.

  Bristol--Lord, ii. 407.

  Brodie--George, ii. 66.

  Brougham--Lord, ii. 348.
    His opinion of Hume's Political Discourses, i. 354.

  Brown--Dr. John, ii. 23.

  Browne--Sir Thomas, i. 94.

  Bruce--Professor, ii. 192.

  Bruyére--La, i. 148.

  Buccleuch--Duke of, ii. 58, 227, 467.

  Buchan--Lord, ii. 455.

  Buckingham--Mrs., ii. 186.

  Buffon--M. de, ii. 181, 299.

  Bunbury--Mr. afterwards Sir Charles, ii. 159, 164, 189, 239, 277, 280.

  ----, Lady Sarah, ii. 239.

  Burke--Edmund, i. 351, 353; ii. 59, 333, 449.

  Burnet--James, Lord Monboddo, i. 394; ii. 204, 231.

  Bute--Lord, ii. 34, 149, 159, 162, 163, 187, 258, 265, 282, 290, 334,
      407; ii. 418.

  Butler--Samuel, ii. 90.

  ----, Bishop, i. 64, 143.

  Caldwell--Sir James, i. 260.

  Calton Hill--Hume's monument on, ii. 518.

  Campbell--Dr. George, ii. 115, 116.
    Letter to, 118.
    Letter from, 119.
    Notice of, 154.

  Carlyle--Dr., ii. 88, 164, 266, 472.

  Carraccioli, ii. 53.

  Carre--George, of Nisbet, i. 115.

  Cause and Effect--Hume's views of, i. 79.
    Their effect on Kant, ib.

  Causes--unseen, aptly illustrated by Hume, i. 83.

  Charles Edward--his insurrection, i. 175.
    Anecdotes of, ii. 462.

    Description and anecdotes of Hume by, i. 270, 394; ii. 116, 223.

  Chatham--Lord, ii. 396, 406, 418.
    Hume's dislike to, ii. 420, 422.

  Chaulieu, 510.

  Chesterfield--Lord, ii. 131, 160.

  Cheyne--Dr. George, i. 42.
    His work, "The English Malady," i. 43.

  Chivalry--Essay on, i. 18-25.

  Choiseul--Duc de, ii. 228, 500.

  ----, Duchesse de, her civilities to Hume, ii. 169.

  Choquart--Abbé, ii. 242, 261, 262, 271, 273.

  Christianity--cannot be injured by theories purely metaphysical, i.
      86, 88.

    Hume's treatment of, ii. 5.

  ----, Scottish Episcopal.
    Its condition in Hume's time, ii. 6.

  ----, English.
    Hume's sympathies with, ii. 9.

  Churchill--Charles, ii. 148.

  Chute--Mr., ii. 225.

  Cicero--Orations of.
    Essay on, i. 144, 145.

  Clagenfurt in Carinthia.
    Hume's account of, i. 264.

  Clairaut--M., ii. 295.

  Clarendon--as a historian, i. 404.

  Clark--General, ii. 172, 195.

  Clarke--Dr. Staniers, ii. 179.

    Appointed Professor of Moral Philosophy, i. 170.

    Letters to, i. 314, 376, 379, 381, 384, 397, 408, 433; ii. 38, 443.

  Clow--Mr., Professor of logic in the University of Glasgow, i. 351;
      ii. 199.

  Club--The Poker.
    Its proceedings, ii. 456.

  Coblentz--Hume's account of, i. 249.

    Letter from, ii. 230, 424, 449.

  Coke--Sir Edward, ii. 69.

  Colebroke--Sir George, ii. 460, 467.

  Coleridge--His charge against Hume, i. 286.
    How disproved, 287.

  Cologne--Hume's account of, i. 248.

  Condé--Prince of, ii. 92.

  Constitutional theories--Hume's, ii. 65, 67, 73.

  Conti--Prince of, ii. 90, 221, 246, 297, 307.

  ----, Princess of, ii. 245.

  Conway--Marshal, ii. 156-157, 283, 284, 305, 307, 324, 326, 351, 365,
      371, 374.

  ----, Appoints Hume under-secretary, ii. 382, 396, 407.

  Corby castle, i. 226.

  Corneille, ii. 196.

  Coutts--Provost, i. 165.

  ----, Thomas, ii. 476.

  ----, James, ii. 476.

  Cowley, ii. 90.

  Craigie--Professor, i. 350.

  Crawford--James, i. 233; ii. 149, 500.

  Crébillon--His "L'Ecumoire," i. 395; ii. 428.

  Crowle--Anecdote regarding, i. 306.

  Cudworth, i. 94.

    Letter to, i. 350, 418.
    Notice of, 411; ii, 199.
    Letters from, ii. 488, 489, 515.

  Currency--Hume's views on, ii. 426.

  D'Angiviller--M., ii. 216.

  Dalrymple--Sir David, i. 395; ii. 415, 416.

  ----, Sir John, ii. 37, 467.

  Dauphin of France--His attentions to Hume, ii. 177-178.
    Notice of, 286.

  Davenport--Richard, ii. 313.
    Gives Rousseau a retreat at Wooton, 319.
    Notice of, 323, 327, 328.
    Letter from, 335, 336, 343, 345, 364, 367, 368, 370.
    Notice of, 374, 378, 379.

  Deffand--Madame du.
    Character of, ii. 214.
    Her quarrel with Mademoiselle de L'Espinasse, 215.

  De Lolme, i. 137.

    Anecdote from, ii. 224.

  Dettingen--Battle-field of, i. 252.

  Deyverdun, ii. 410.

  Dialogues concerning Natural Religion--Their characteristics, i.
    Account of them in a letter to Sir Gilbert Elliot, 332; ii. 490.

  Dickson--David, ii. 383.

  Diderot, ii. 181, 220.

  D'Ivernois--M., ii. 325.

  Divine right--Hume's opinions on, i. 123-124.

  Dodwell--Mr., ii. 386.

  Donaldson--Alexander, i. 431; ii. 4, 82.

  Douglas--Mr., ii. 204.

  ----, Dr., afterwards Bishop of Carlisle, ii. 78, 87.

  ---- cause, ii. 150, 163, 203, 421, 423.

  ---- of Cavers, ii. 407.

  ----, Duchess of, ii. 232.

  ----, Lady Jane, ii. 424.

  ----, Tragedy of. Hume's criticism on, i. 419.
    Rehearsal of, 420.

  Dow--Colonel, ii. 461.

  Duclos, ii. 181, 347.

  Dupré de St. Maur--Madame, ii. 168, 347.

  Durand--M., ii, 378.

  Dysart--Mrs., of Eccles.
    Hume's correspondence with, i. 337.

  Dyson--Mr., ii. 132, 408.

  Earthquakes--Fears regarding, i. 298.

    See Political Economy.

  Edmondstoune--Colonel, i. 212, 397, 409.
    Letter to, ii. 182.
    Letter from, to Hume, 185.
    Letters to, 187, 473.
    Letter from, 474, 508.

  Education--On the influences of, i. 85.

  ----, State of, in Scotland, in 17th and 18th centuries, i. 151.

  Egmont--Countess of, ii. 299.

  Election--Westminster, in 1749, i. 305.

  Elibank--Lord, letters to, i. 192, 387; ii. 167, 252, 256, 257, 260.

  Elliot--Sir Gilbert, of Minto.
    Hume's intercourse with, i. 320.
    Letters to, 321, 324.
    His criticism on Hume's Dialogue, 323.
    Hume's reply to, 324.
    Account of the "Epigoniad" to, ii. 25.
    Letter to, 32.
    Letters to, 144, 159, 189.
    Letter from, 233.
    Reply, 235.
    Letters to, 240, 244, 261, 270, 273, 280, 406, 407, 414.
    Letter from, 415.
    Letters to, 432, 434.

  ----, Gilbert, younger of Minto, afterwards Governor-general of India,
      ii. 233, 262, 271, 273, 281.

  Elliot--Sir John, of Stobs, ii. 407.

  ----, Anne, ii. 345.

  ----, Hugh, ii. 262, 271, 273, 281.

  ----, Lady, ii. 415, 446.

  ----, Miss, ii. 62, 90.

  ----, Peggy, ii. 62

  "Emile"--Criticism on, ii. 114.

  England--History of.
    Rapidity with which it was composed and printed, i. 381; ii. 121.

  "English Malady," by Dr. Cheyne--Extracts from, i. 43-46.

  Entails--Device for breaking, ii. 32.

    Remarks on, i. 142.

  Epicurus, i. 142.

    Some account of, ii. 25.
    Hume's partiality to, 31.
    Its rejection by the public, 34, 37.

  Eriot--Professor, ii. 241.

  Erskine--Sir Harry, i. 212.
    Letter to, 219.
    His illness, 264, 397, 409; ii. 159.

  Erskine--John, ii. 453.

  Essay--Historical, on chivalry and modern honour, i. 18, 25.

  Essays--Moral and Political, when published, and how, i. 136.
    Their success, 143.
    Third edition of, 289.

  ---- on Suicide and the Immortality of the Soul, ii. 13.

  ---- on Political Economy, i. 354, 363.

    His palace, i. 262; ii. 501

  Fairholms--Bankruptcy of, ii. 195.

  Falconer--Sir David, of Newton, i. 1.

  Farquhar--John, ii. 154.

  Ferguson--Sir Adam, ii. 451, 457.

  ----, Professor Adam.
    Hume's commendation of, ii. 32.
    Notice of, 34.
    Appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy, 45.
    Notice of, 56.
    "Sister Peg" attributed to him, 83.
    Hume's mystification on the subject, 88.
    Letter to, 172.
    Letter from, 175.
    His Essay on the History of Civil Society, 385, 409, 440, 461.

  ----, a painter, ii. 409.

  Fitzmaurice--Mr., ii. 163, 171.

  Fitzroy--Charles, ii. 407.

    Hume's residence in, i. 57.
    Jesuit's College of, ib.

  Fleury--Cardinal, 498.

  Fontaine--La, Les Contes de, removed from the Advocates' Library, i.

  Forester--Colonel James.
    His connexion with the Marquis of Annandale, i. 174.
    Verses on his traveling to the Highlands of Scotland, ib.

  Fourqueux, ii, 348.

  France--State of morality in, during Hume's time, ii. 91.

  ----, Manners in, i. 53-54, 55-56; ii. 208.

  Frankfort--Hume's account of, i. 251, 252.

  Franklin--Benjamin, ii. 426, 427, 471, 476.

  Fraser--James, i. 305.
    Hume's character of, 308.

  Free Trade--Hume as the founder of the principles of, ii. 520.

  French literature.
    Its licentious features, i. 395.

  Galliani--Abbé, ii. 428.

  Garden--Francis, ii. 204.

  Garrick--David, ii. 141, 309, 421.

  Gascoigne--Chief-justice, ii. 69.

  Genlis--Madame de, ii. 221, 301.

    Her position in Paris, ii. 210.
    Specimen of her handwriting, 211.
    Character of, 212, 471.

  Geometry and Natural Philosophy--Dissertation on, i. 421.

  Gerard--Alexander, ii. 55, 154, 155.

  Gibbon--Edward, ii. 409.
    Letter from, 410.
    Letter to, 411, 484.

  Gillies--Adam, ii. 138.

  Glamorgan--Lord, ii. 77, 78.

  Glanvill--Joseph, i. 83.

  Glover--Richard, ii. 141.

  Goodall--Walter, i. 374.
    Anecdote regarding him, ib.; ii. 254.

  Gordon--Father, ii. 201.

    Hume's partiality for, i. 140.

  Gower--Earl, i. 305.

  Graffigny--M., ii. 390.

  ----, Madame de, ii. 391.

  Grafton--Duke of, ii. 284, 397, 407, 432.

  Grammont--Madame de, ii. 206.

  Gregory--Dr., ii. 154, 155.

  Grenville--George, ii. 191, 226, 265, 272, 274, 282.

    Her Ode to Indifference, i. 228.

  Grimm--Baron de, ii. 168, 223.

  Guerchy--M. de, ii. 290, 373.

  Guichiardin, i. 113.
    His character of Alexander VI. 113-114.

  Guigne--M. de, ii. 446.

  Gustard--Doctor, ii. 504.

    Hume's account of, i. 243.

  Hamilton--Duke of, i. 417.

  ----, Sir William, i. 288; ii. 153.

  Halifax--Lord, ii. 160, 277.

  Hall--Edward, ii. 72.

  Hallam--Henry, ii. 66.

  Hardwicke--Lord, ii. 465.

  Harrington--Hume's opinion of, i. 361; ii. 481.

  Hawke--Admiral, ii. 63.

  Hay--Secretary to Prince Charles Edward, ii. 203.

  Helvétius--His "De l'Esprit," i. 121; ii. 52.
    Proposes Hume to translate it, 52.
    Hume excuses himself, 53.
    Notice of, 54, 57, 168, 131, 387.
    His intercourse with Prince Charles Edward, ii. 464.

  Henault--President, ii. 181, 266, 269.

    His History of Britain, ii. 469.
    Hume's review of it, 470.

  Hepburn--Rev. Thomas, ii. 472.

  Herbert--Mr., ii. 162.

  Hertford--Marquis of.
    His appointment to the French Embassy, ii. 156.
    Invitation to Hume, 156, 158.
    Notice of, 159, 161, 164, 171, 172, 181.
    Hume's opinion of, 183, 188, 197, 205, 232, 258, 269, 272, 274, 278.
    Appointed lord-lieutenant of Ireland, 282, 284, 388.

  ----, Marchioness of, ii. 92, 161, 171, 280.

  Hervey--Lady, ii. 225.

  Historians--Benefit to, from being familiar with military service, i.
      218, 221.

  ----, Knowledge requisite in, ii. 123-127.

  History--Essay on, ii. 123, 126.

  ---- of England--Hume's.
    Preparation of, i. 378.
    Rapidity of composition, 381.
    Its reception, 414.

  Hobbes--Hume's remarks regarding, i. 77, 94.

  Holbach--Baron d', ii. 346, 353, 357.

  Holderness--Lord, ii. 194, 386, 463.

  Holingshed--Raphael, ii. 73.

  Holland--Lord, i. 403; ii. 239.

  Home--Alexander, Solicitor General, i. 208.

  ----, Alexander, of Whitfield.
    Letter to, i. 2-3.

  ----, Lord.
    His relationship to the Humes, i. 3.

  ----, Henry.
    Letters to, i. 62, 105, 144.
    Letter from, 204.
    His Essays, 426.
    Anderson's writings against, 428.
    Attacked in the General Assembly, 429.
    His Law Tracts, ii. 56, 131, 195, 454.

  ----, John.
    His "Douglas" noticed, i. 316, 392, 411; ii. 17.
    Hume's interest in him, i. 418.
    Hume's opinion of his "Douglas," i. 419; ii. 32.
    Suppressed dedication to, 16.
    His "Siege of Aquileia," 81, 159, 166, 188, 191, 199, 383, 444, 456,
        475, 482.
    His diary of a journey with Hume, 495.
    Bequest of port wine to, 506, 507.

  ---- of Ninewells.
    _See_ Hume.

  ----, Mrs., ii. 404.

  ----, Sir James, of Blackadder, i. 3.

  Hope--Lord, ii. 56.

  Human Nature, treatise of, i. 66.
    Character of the work, 66, 97.
    Its Style, 91.

  ----, Understanding, Philosophical Essays concerning, i. 271.
    Inquiry concerning, 271.

  Human Actions, as the object of inductive philosophy, i. 275.
    Application of this theory to history, 276.

  Hume--David, his birth and parentage, i. 2-3.
    Account of his family, 2-7.
    His opinions on the philosophy of family pride, 5.
    Scenes of his boyhood, 8-9.
    Account of his early years, 10-11.
    Education, ib.
    Early correspondence, 12-16.
    Ambitious projects, 17.
    Early writings, 18-19.
    Essay on chivalry, 18-25.
    Deserts the law, 26.
    Letter to a physician, 30-39.
    Goes to Bristol, 39.
    Leaves Bristol for France, 48.
    Visit to Paris, 49.
    Residence at Rheims, 51-56.
    Residence at La Fléche, 57.
    Correspondence with Home, 62-65.
    Preparing his treatise for press, 65.
    Treatise of Human Nature, 66.
    Treatise on the Passions, 99.
    Review of Treatise in "Works of the Learned," 109.
    Anecdote on the subject, 110.
    Intercourse with Hutcheson, 112.
    Application for a situation, 115.
    Treatise on Morals, 120.
    Extracts from memorandum book, 127-135.
    Moral and Political Essays, their publication, 136.
      Their character, 137-143.
    His partiality for monarchical government, 140.
    Opinions on the liberty of the press, 137-139.
    Criticism on Cicero, 144-146.
    Correspondence with Hutcheson, 146.
    Correspondence with Mure, 153, 158.
    Thoughts on religion, 162.
      On prayer, 163.
    Endeavours to obtain the professorship of moral philosophy, 165.
      Opposition, 168-169.
      Unsuccessful, 170.
    Residence with the Marquis of Annandale, ib.
      Dissension there, 182-190.
      Its effect on Hume, 191.
      He resigns the appointment, 193.
      Different views of his resignation, 194.
      State of society in Scotland at that time, 196.
    Difficulty of means of subsistence, 196-197.
    Position of the poor scholar, 199.
    Offer from General St. Clair of the Secretaryship accepted, 208.
    Expedition to the coast of France, 210.
    One of the historians who have been familiar with military service,
    Letter to Sir Harry Erskine, 219.
      To Henry Home, 220.
      To Col. Abercrombie, 222.
    Desponding remarks on public affairs, 224.
    Returns to Ninewells, 225.
    Supposed character of himself, found amongst his papers, 226.
    His poetical attempts, 227-229.
    Question whether he was ever in love, 231.
    Poetic epistle to John Medina, 234.
    Appointment as secretary to the mission to the court of Turin, 235.
    Letter to James Oswald, 236.
    Views regarding history, ib.
    Disinclination to leave his studies, 239.
    New edition of his Essays, ib.
    Philosophical Essays, ib.
    His position with General St. Clair, 240.
    Extracts from the Journal of his journey to Italy, 240-271.
      Hague, 242.
      Breda, 244.
      Nimeguen, 247.
      Bonne, 249.
      Coblentz, ib.
      Frankfurt, 251.
      Wurtzburg, 252.
      Ratisbon, 255.
      Vienna, 257.
      Knittlefeldt, 262.
      Trent, 264.
      Mantua, 265.
      Turin, 266.
    Publication of his Philosophical Essays, 271.
    Inquiry concerning Human Understanding, 272.
    Doctrine of Necessity, 275.
    Doctrines on Miracles, 279-285.
      His mode of treating the subject, 281.
      Leading principle of his theory concerning, 282.
    Third edition of Essays, Moral and Political, 289.
    His mother's death, 291.
    Silliman's story, 292.
      Disproved, 293.
    Correspondence with Dr. Clephane, 296.
    Westminster election, 305.
    Document regarding James Fraser, 308.
    Letters to Col. Abercrombie, 311, 312.
      To Dr. Clephane, 314.
    Bellman's Petition, 315, 317.
    Correspondence with Sir Gilbert Elliot, 324.
    Dissertation on the Populousness of Antiquity, 326.
    Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, 328.
      Their character and tendency, 330.
      Writes to Elliot regarding them, 331.
    His brother's marriage, 337.
    Letter to Mrs. Dysart, ib.
    The independence of his mind, and moderation of his wishes, 340.
    Letter to Michael Ramsay, 342.
    His domestic arrangements, 344.
    His theory of morals, 346.
    Utilitarian system, 344.
      Limited extent to which Hume carried it, 347.
      Charge against it, 349.
    Publication of Political Discourses, 350.
    Is unsuccessful in his application for the chair of logic in
        Glasgow, 350.
    Letter to Dr. Cullen, 350.
    Unfitness to be a teacher of youth, 352.
    Political Discourses, 354.
    Political economy, 355, 366.
    Appointment, as keeper of the Advocates' Library, 367.
    Letter to Dr. Clephane, 369, 376.
    Account of domestic arrangements, 377.
    Preparation of the History, 378.
    Letter to Dr. Clephane, 379, 381.
    Absorbing nature of his studies, 382.
    Kindness to Blacklock, 385.
    Letter to Joseph Spence, 388.
      To Adam Smith, 393.
    Gives Blacklock his salary as librarian, 393.
    History of the Stuarts, 397.
    Letter to Dr. Clephane, 397.
    Conflicting opinions regarding the History of the Stuarts, 400.
    Misapprehension regarding state of constitution, 403.
    Inconsistencies between his philosophical and historical works, 405.
    Letter to the Abbé le Blanc, 406.
      To Dr. Clephane, 408.
      To William Mure of Caldwell, 409.
      To Mrs. Dysart, 410.
      To Andrew Millar, 415.
      To Adam Smith, 417.
    Criticism on Home's "Douglas," 419.
    _Edinburgh Review_, 422.
    Attacked by Anderson, 429.
    By the church courts, 430.
    The second volume of the History of the Stuarts, ii. 5.
      Its reception, ib.
      Apologies for his treatment of religion, 10.
      Unpublished preface, 11.
    Essay on Suicide, 13.
    Natural History of Religion, ib.
    The suppressed Essays, ib.
    Resigns the office of librarian, 18.
    Dedication to Home, 21.
    Third volume of the History, 22.
    "Epigoniad," 25.
    Warburton's attack, 35.
    Goes to London, 47.
    Correspondence with Dr. Robertson, 48.
    Returns to Scotland, 65.
    History of the Tudors, ib.
    His constitutional theories, 67.
    Alterations of the History in the direction of despotic principles,
    Specimens of alterations, 74-77.
    Specimens of alteration in style, 79, 80.
    Letter to Millar, 81.
      To Robertson, 83.
    Macpherson's "Ossian," 85.
    Letter to Dr. Carlyle, 88.
      To Adam Smith, 89.
    Madame de Boufflers, 90.
    Correspondence with Madame de Boufflers, 94-98, 102.
      Rousseau, 102.
    Letters from Earl Marischal, 104.
    Criticism on "Emile," 114.
    Publication of the History anterior to the accession of the Tudors,
    Intention to write an Ecclesiastical History, 130.
    Correspondence with Millar, 132.
    Residence in James's Court, 136.
    Corrections of his works, 144.
    His projects, 144-146.
    Douglas cause, 150.
    Criticisms on Reid's "Inquiry into the Human Mind," 153.
    Accepts the office of secretary to the French embassy, 157.
      Correspondence on the occasion, 157-160.
    His celebrity in Paris, 167.
      Feelings on the occasion, 171-172.
    Attentions of the dauphin, 177.
    Memoirs of James II., 179.
    Advice to a clergyman, 185.
    Secretaryship of the embassy, 188.
    His pension, 191.
    Letters from Paris, 193.
    Madame de Boufflers, 205.
    Social position in France, 207.
    Notices by H. Walpole, 225.
    Takes charge of Elliot's sons, 235.
      Settles them in Paris, 244.
    Liability to anger, 251.
    Letter to Lord Elibank, 252.
    Care of Elliot's sons, 273.
    Secretaryship of legation, 278-281.
      Is appointed to it, and to receive the salary, 284.
      Expects to be secretary to Lord Hertford, as Lord-lieutenant of
          Ireland, 287.
        Is disappointed, 289.
    Rousseau, 293.
      Hume's first opinion of him, 299.
      Brings him to England, 303.
      Settles him at Wooton, 319.
    Rousseau's quarrel, 326-330.
      Publication of it, 354-360.
    Walpole, 361.
    Kindness to Rousseau, 381.
    Appointed under secretary of state, 382.
    His amiability of character, 390.
    Compared with his nephew, Baron Hume, 402.
    His interest in the education of his nephews, 403.
    Influence in church patronage, 406.
    His picture, 408.
    Criticism of Robertson's Charles V., 412.
    Views on currency, 426.
    Returns to Edinburgh, 429.
    Education of his nephews, 430.
    His dislike of the English, 433.
    His social character, 437.
    Temper and disposition, 441.
    His own account of his character, 442.
    His conversation, 451.
    Traditional anecdotes, 457.
    Incidents regarding Prince Charles Edward, 462.
    Review of Henry's History, 469.
    Political opinions, 479.
    Impatient for Smith's "Wealth of Nations," 483.
    His last illness, 487, _et seq._
    His will, 489.
    Disposal of his manuscripts, 490.
    Publication of the "Dialogues on Natural Religion," 491-493.
    Negotiations with Smith on the subject, ib.
    His journey to Bath, 495, _et seq._
    John Home's account of their journey, ib.
    His return, 506.
    Party to bid him farewell, 507.
    Correspondence, ib.
    Smith's account of his latter days, 514.
    Account of his death by Dr. Black and Dr. Cullen, 515.
    His funeral and monument, 517-518.
    Influence of his works on the opinions of the world, 519.

  Hume, or Home of Ninewells--Anecdote of, i. 6, 7.

  ----, John of Ninewells, brother to Hume, i. 213.
    Narrative of the Expedition to the coast of France, addressed to,
    His marriage, 337.
    Letters to, ii. 290, 308, 396.
    His character, 398.

  ----, David, afterwards Baron, ii. 400.
    Compared with his uncle, 402, 405, 425, 474, 479, 480.

  ----, Joseph, of Ninewells, i. 1.

  ----, Joseph, younger.
    His education, ii. 174, 175, 292, 398, 403, 404.

  ----, Director, i. 387.

  ----, John.
    _See_ Home--John.

  ----, Mrs., verses by, i. 295.

  ----, Frank, ii. 199.

  Huntingdon--Lady, ii. 506.

  Hurd--Warburton's letter to, ii. 35.
    Notice of, 50.

  Hutcheson--Francis, i. 111.
    Hume's correspondence with, 112.
    His reflexions on Hume's papers, 112.
    Letter to, 117, 146.

  Ideas--Hume's theory of, i, 70.

  Impressions--Hume's theory of, i. 73.

  Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, i. 344.
    Its tendency, ib.

  ---- concerning Human Understanding, its publication, 273.
    Views developed in it, 274.

  Irvine--Colonel, ii. 160.

  James II.--Memoirs of, ii. 179, 200.

  James's Court--Hume's residence in, description of, ii. 136.

  Jardine--Dr., ii. 197, 230, 286.
    His death, 317, 318.

  Jeffrey--Lord, i. 403.

  Jenyns--Soame, ii. 55, 59.

  Johnson--Dr., ii. 122.
    Anecdote of, 138, 420.

  Johnstone of Hilton--Anecdote of, i. 6, 7.

  ----, Colonel John, i. 185.

  ----, Sir James--of Westerhall, i. 175, 176.
    Letters to, 182, 184, 192.
    Letter to, from Henry Home, 204.

  Johnstone--Sir William, ii. 168.

  Journal--Hume's, of his journey to Italy, i. 240, 271.

  Judge Advocate--Hume appointed, i. 212.
    Claim for half-pay, 222.

  Justice Clerk--The, ii. 47.

    _See_ Home--Henry.

  Kant--Effect of Hume's Theory of Cause and Effect on, i. 79.
    His justification of Hume, 88.

  Keith--Mr., ii. 431.

  Keith--General, ii. 498.

  Kenrick--William Shakspere, editor of _The London Review_, i. 110.

  Kincaid--Alexander, i. 431; ii. 4, 81, 82.

  Kirkpatrick--James, i. 387.

  Knittlefeldt in Styria, Hume's account of it, i. 262.

  Knox--John, ii. 58.

  La Chapelle, ii. 270.

  La Harpe, ii. 468.

  Lansdowne--Lord, ii. 146.

  Larpent--Mr., ii. 245, 271.

  Law and government--first principles of, Hume's remarks on, i. 122.

  Leechman--Dr., i. 160.
    Hume's criticism on his sermon, 161, 411.

  Legge, H. B., ii. 54.

  Leslie--Sir John.
    His professorship, i. 89.

  L'Espinasse--Mademoiselle de.
    Her position with Madame du Deffand, ii. 215.
    D'Alembert's attachment to her, ib.
    Notice of, 237.

  Lestock--Admiral Richard, i. 210.

  Leyden--University of, i. 151.

  Lindsay--Lord, i. 413.

  ----, Lady Anne.
    Her remembrances of Hume, ii. 445.

  Liston--Mr., afterwards Sir Robert, ii. 245, 270, 271, 273, 280, 414.

  Literature, French--State of, ii. 166.

  Locke, i. 94; ii. 68.

  Logic--chair of, in Glasgow, i. 350.

  L'Orient--Port of, i. 211.
    Expedition against, i. 211.

  Loughborough--Lord, ii. 425.

  Louis XV--Anecdotes of, 499.

  Lounds--Mr., ii. 368.

  Lyttelton--George Lord, i. 391, 433; ii. 55, 58, 79, 82, 226, 345.

  Luze--M. de, ii. 303-305.

  Macdonald--Sir James, ii. 228, 229, 257, 267, 272, 349.

  Mackenzie--Henry, i. 58.
    His ideas of Hume, ii. 438, 444.

  Mackenzie, Stuart, ii. 258, 259.

  Mackintosh--Sir James, i. 287.

  Macpherson--James, i. 462; ii. 85, 461.

  Malesherbes, ii. 219.

  Maletête--M., ii. 428.

  Mallet--David, ii. 3, 79, 82, 131, 140, 141.
    Letter from, to Hume, 142.
    Notice of, 144, 187, 232.
    His death, 273.

  ----, Mrs., ii. 62, 141, 200, 232.

  Malthus, i. 364.

  Mansfield--Lord, ii. 163, 386, 415, 424, 466.

  Mantua--Hume's account of, i. 265.

  March--Lord, ii. 240, 241, 242, 245.

  Marchmont--Lord, extraordinary adventure of, i. 237.

  Marischal--Lord, ii. 103.
    Letters from, 104, 105.
    Notice of, 113, 139, 175, 179, 182, 217, 293, 295, 306, 313, 354,
        464, 465.

  Markham--Sir George, ii. 146.

  Marlborough--Duke of, ii. 141.

  ----, Duchess of, ii. 141.

  Marmontel, ii. 181, 196.

  Martigny, ii. 52.

  Masserane--Prince, ii. 428.

    Hume's application of, i. 73.

  Mauvillon--Eléazar, i. 365.

  Maxwell--Sir John, ii. 455.

  Mead--Dr., i. 316.

  Medina--John, poetic epistle to, by Hume, i. 234.

  Memorandum book--Hume's.
    Extracts from, i. 126-135.

  Mesnieres--President, ii. 177.

    Theories purely such not dangerous to religion, i. 86, 88.

  Millar--Andrew, i. 415.
    His views for Hume, ib.
    Correspondence with, 421; ii. 2, 22, 34.
    Notice of, 57, 64, 81.
    Letters to, 130, 134, 135, 136, 138, 143, 147, 179, 199, 200, 231,
        263, 264, 272, 393, 408.

  ----, Mrs., ii. 180, 200, 232.

  ----, Professor, ii. 474, 479, 480, 481.

  Milton--Lord, ii. 46, 199.

  Minto--Lord, i. 320; ii. 233.

  Mirabeau, the elder, i. 365, 366.

  Miracles--Doctrines on, i. 279-286.

  Mirepoix--Madame de, ii. 244, 245.

  Monarchical character--sacredness of, Hume's ideas on, ii. 70.

  Monboddo--Lord, ii. 467.
    _See_ Burnet.

  Moncrief--David, ii. 431.

  Money--Letter on the value of, i. 301.

  ----, Elements of the value of, according to Hume, i. 358-360.

  Montesquieu, i. 92, 139.
    His Esprit des Loix, i. 304.
    His appreciation of Hume's critical works, 305, 365, 387.
    Letters from, to Hume, 426.

  Montigny--Trudaine de, letter from, ii. 167, 352.

  ----, Madame, ii. 348.

  Moore--Mr., ii. 436.

  Moral and Political Essays, their publication, i. 136.

  ---- Sentiments--Theory of, by Adam Smith, ii. 55.
    Hume's appreciation of it, ib.

  Morals--Treatise on, i. 120.
    Principles of, inquiry concerning, 344.
    The utilitarian, limited extent to which it was carried by Hume,
    Charge against it, 349.

  Morellet--The Abbé, ii. 276, 337, 425.
    Letter to, 426.

  Morrice--Corbyn, ii. 147.

  Mount Stuart--Lord, ii. 184.

  Muirhead--Mr., i. 411.

  Mure--William, of Caldwell, i. 380.
    Letters to, i. 153, 158, 162, 165; ii. 19, 158, 165, 199, 200, 390,
        391, 436, 478.

  Murray--Lady Elliot, letter from, ii. 446.

  ----, Alexander, i. 306; ii. 93, 101, 168, 258, 259.

  ----, Mrs., ii. 281.

  ----, of Broughton, i. 167.

  Musset Pathay, ii. 322, 325, 329, 330.

  Nairne--Mr., ii. 456.

  National characters--Essay on, i. 290.

  Nationality--Hume's spirit of, ii. 31.

  Natural Philosophy--Hume's notes on, i. 95-96.

  Natural Religion--Dialogues concerning, i. 328, 330.
    Arrangements regarding their publication, ii. 490-493.

  Necessity--Doctrine of, i. 275.

  Necker, ii. 487.

  Neville--Mr., ii. 171.

  Nicholas--Sir Harris.
    His chronology of history, ii. 123.

  Nicol--Miss, ii. 361.

  Niebuhr, i. 218.

  Nimeguen--Hume's account of, i. 247.

  Ninewells, family residence of the Humes, i. 1, 8.

  Nivernois--Duc de, ii. 286, 431, 449.

  Nominalism--Hume's, a system of, i. 73.

  North--Lord, ii. 479.

  Norwich--Bishop of, ii. 54.

  Note-book--Hume's, extracts from, i. 126-135.

  Obedience--Passive, Hume's opinions on, ii. 70.

  Orange--Prince of.
    His popularity, i. 242.

  Ord--Baron, ii. 436.

  ----, Miss, ii. 436, 494.

  Original Contract--Essay of the, i. 290.

  Orleans--Duke of, ii. 269.

  ----, Duchess of, ii. 269.

  Ormond--James Butler, Duke of, ii. 77.

  Ossian's Poems, ii. 85.
    Essay on the authenticity of, 86.
    Notice of, 180.

  ----, Papers regarding, i. 462.

  Ossory--Lord, ii. 322.

  Oswald--Sir Harry, ii. 188, 191.

  ----, James, of Dunnikier, i. 156, 222.
    Letter to, 236, 301, 380.
    Notice of, ii. 58.
    Letter to, 149.
    Notice of, 188.
    Letter to, 275.

  Page du Boccage--Madame de, ii. 213.

  Paley--William, i. 152.

  Palgrave--Sir Francis, ii. 122.

  Paoli, King of Corsica, ii. 307.

  Paris--Abbé, miracles at his tomb, i. 49-50.

  ----, Hume's first visit to, i. 49-51.

  ----, University of, i. 151.

  Passions--Treatise on, i. 99.
    Some account of, 104.
    Dissertation on, 421.

  Passive obedience--Essay of, i. 220.

  Percy--Bishop, ii. 385.

  Peyrou, du, ii. 335.

  Philosophical Essays concerning the Human Understanding.
    When published, i. 271.

  Philosophy--System of, in the Treatise of Human Nature, i. 66, 97.
    Its characteristic, 97.

  Physician--Letter to, i. 30-39, 41, 42.

  Piozzi--Mrs., ii. 139.

  Pitcairne--Dr., ii. 390.

  Pitfour--Lord, ii. 480.

  Pitt--William, i. 392; ii. 63, 159, 160, 162, 163.

  Platonist--The, i. 141.

  Pluche--The Abbé, i. 52.

  Plutarch--Hume's project of translating, i. 415, 417.

  Poetry by Hume, i. 228.

  ---- by Mrs. Home of Ninewells, i. 295.

  ---- By Miss A. B., to Mrs. H----, by her Black Boy, i. 296.

  Political Discourses--Publication of, i. 350.
    Their character, 354.

  ---- Economy. Hume's ideas on, i. 355.
    How received, 356.
    State of opinion on, in the time of Hume, i. 355-356.
    Effect of the French Revolution on, 357.

  Political Doctrines--Hume's, i. 123.
    Their inconsistency with his historical works, 405.

  Pompadour--Madame de, ii. 169.

  Populousness of Ancient Nations--Essay on, i. 326, 363.

  Praslin--Duc de, ii. 172, 283, 290.

  ----, Duchess de, ii. 173.

  Press--Liberty of, i. 137-138.

  Prevôt--Abbé, i. 408; ii. 52.

  Primrose--Lady, ii. 462.

  Pringle--Sir John, president of the Royal Society of London, i. 165.
    Letter to, ii. 162.
    Letter from, 465, 476.

  Protestant Succession--Essay on, i. 365.

  Provence--Comte de, ii. 178.

  Prussia--King of, ii. 306, 309, 363.

  Prynne--William, i. 405.

  Puysieuls--Mons. de, ii. 204, 266.

  Quesnay, i. 365.

  Rabutin--Bussy, i. 306.

  Ralph--Mr., ii. 148.

  Ramsay--Allan, i. 421; ii. 135.

  ----, The Chevalier, i. 12, 53.

  ----, Michael, an early correspondent of Hume's, i. 11, 51, 107, 116.
    Letter to, ii. 342.

  Ratisbon--Hume's account of, i. 255.

  Raynal--The Abbé, i. 365.

  Record Commission.
    Works prepared by, ii. 121.

  Reid--Dr. Thomas; his "Inquiry into the Human Mind," ii. 151.
    Intercourse with Hume, 153.
    Letter from, 154.

  Religion--Hume's thoughts regarding, i. 162-164, 279.
    His treatment of, ii. 5.
    Tone in speaking of the Roman Catholic religion, ii. 6.

  ----, Hume's apologies for his treatment of, ii. 10.

  ----, Natural.
    Dialogues concerning, i. 328; ii. 490.
    Their character and tendency, i. 330.

  Republicanism--Hume's estimate of, ii. 481.

  _Review_--The original _Edinburgh_.
    Its origin, i. 422.

  Rheims--Hume's residence in, i. 51-56.

  Rianecourt--Madame, ii. 351.

  Riccoboni--Madame, ii. 350.

  Richmond--Duke of, ii. 282, 290, 326.

  Rivière, i. 365.

  Robertson--Dr. William.
    Hume's commendations of, ii. 32, 43.
    Letter to, regarding Queen Mary, 48.
    Correspondence with Hume, 49-55.
    Notice of, 58.
    Correspondence and notices, 83, 100, 176, 229, 252, 266, 270, 286,
    Remarks by Hume on his History of Charles Fifth, 412, 445, 453, 470.

  Robinson--Sir Thomas, i. 257.

    Story of, i. 58.

  Rockingham--Lord, ii. 282, 395, 396.

  Rodney--Admiral, ii. 61.

  Rohan--Louis, Prince de, ii. 221.

  Rollin, ii. 50.

  Romilly--Sir Samuel, ii. 220.

  Rougemont--M., ii. 330.

  Rousseau--Jean Jacques, ii. 102, 110, 112-113, 114, 187.
    Takes up his abode at Motier Travers, 293.
    Removes to St. Pierre, 294.
    Goes to Strasburg, 296.
      To Paris, ib.
    The enthusiasm for him at Paris, 299.
    Goes to England, 303, 308, 311, 312.
    Hume's account of him, 315.
    His judgment on his own works, 316.
    Settlement at Wooton, 319.
    Walpole's letter, 321.
    Pension from the King of England, 324.
    Quarrel with Hume, 326-380.

  Ruat--Professor, ii. 56, 62.

  Ruddiman--Thomas, i. 367; ii. 19.

  Russel--J., ii. 192.

  Rutherford--Dr., ii. 199.

  Saducismus Triumphatus, i. 83.

  Sandwich--Lord, ii. 160.

  Sarsfield--Count, ii. 388.

  Saurin, ii. 387.

  Sceptic--The, i. 141.
    Character of, 143.

  Scholar--The poor.
    His position in Hume's time, i. 199.

  Scott of Scotstarvet, i. 416.

  ----, Sir Walter.
    His remarks on Hume's poetical attempts, i. 226, 227; ii. 137.

  Selwin--George, ii. 240.

  Shaftesbury--Lord, i. 384.

  Sharp--Matthew, of Hoddam.
    Letter to, i. 178-180, 386.

  Sheffield--Lord, ii. 409.

  Shelburne--Lord, ii. 405, 406.

  Short--Mr., ii. 64.

  Silliman--the American traveller.
    His story regarding Hume, i. 291-293.

  Smellie--William, ii. 469.

    His first introduction to Hume, i. 117.
    His appointment to the chair of Moral Philosophy, 350.
    The method of his political economy, 361.
    Letters to, and notices of, 375, 393.
    His correspondence with Hume, 417.
    Letter to, ii. 16.
    Hume's commendation of, 32.
    Notice of, 58, 59.
    Correspondence with, 89, 148, 150, 157, 160, 168, 227, 228, 348,
        349, 353, 388, 390, 395, 426, 429, 432, 433, 459, 461, 466, 471.
    Letter to, on his "Wealth of Nations," 486.
    Appointed Hume's literary executor, 490.
    Letters to, 491.
    Revocation of the nomination, 494.
    His account of Hume's last moments, 509.

  Smollett--Tobias, ii. 53.
    Hume's interest in, 405.
    Letter from, 418.
    Letter to, 419.

  Solitude--Hume's opinion on, i. 99.

    Letter to, i. 388.
    Notice of, 435.

  Spinoza, i. 89.

  St. Clair--General.
    His invitation to Hume, to act as secretary to the expedition to the
        Coast of France, i. 208.
    His expedition, ib. 440.
    Appoints Hume secretary to the mission to the Court of Turin, 235,

  Stanislaus Augustus, King of Poland, ii. 91.

  Stevenson--John, ii. 46.

  Stewart--Dugald, i. 88, 89.

  ----, John, ii. 168, 180, 311, 321.

  Stobo--Captain Robert, ii. 418.

  Stoic--The, i. 141.

  Strahan--William, ii. 82-83, 412.
    Hume's papers left to the charge of, 494.
    Letters from, 477, 512.

  Stuart--Andrew, ii. 168, 175, 203, 423, 424, 466.

  ----, Dr., ii. 454.

  ---- Mackenzie, Mr., ii. 258.

  ----, Gilbert, ii. 414, 416, 456, 467.
    His opinion of himself, 468.
    Anecdotes regarding, 469.
    His malignity, ib. 470.

  Stuarts--History of the, i. 399.
    Character of the work, ib.
    Conflicting opinions regarding, 400.
    Charge brought against, 401.
    Tendency, 402.
    Its reception, 414.
    Second volume, ii. 2.

    Letter to, ii. 357.

  Suicide--Hume's ideas on, ii. 15.

  Sympathy--Criticism on Smith's ideas on, ii. 60.

  Tate--Christopher, ii. 432.

  Tavistock--Lord, ii. 239.

  Teacher of youth--Hume's unfitness for, i. 352.
    Qualifications requisite, ib.

  Temple--Lord, ii. 163.

  Tessé--Countess of, ii. 206.

  Thomson--Dr. John, i. 351, 353.

  Torbay, ii. 63.

  Townsend--Lord, ii. 407.

  ----, Charles, ii. 58, 132, 133, 134, 304, 305.

  ----, Mrs., ii. 305.

    _See_ Free Trade.

  Tragedy--Dissertation on, i. 421.

  Trail--Dr., ii. 204, 245, 456.

  Treatise of Human Nature, when published, i. 66.
    Character of the work, 66-97.
    Its service to philosophy, 90.
    Characteristics of the system, 97.
    Hume's condition during its composition, 96.
    Its reception, 107-109.
    Treatise on the Passions, some account of, 99.
    Treatise on Morals, its character, 120-123.

  Trent--Hume's account of, i. 264.

  Trentham--Lord, i. 305.

  Tronchin, ii. 186, 338, 345.

    His Light of Nature, i. 150.

  ----, Dr., ii. 428.

  Turgot, i. 365.
    Hume's friendship with, ii. 219, 351, 354.
    Letters from, 352, 381, 428.

  Tweeddale--Marquis of, ii. 383.

  Understanding--The Treatise on, i. 99.

    The resort of Scottish youth, i. 150.

  Utilitarian system--Hume's development of, i. 121, 344.
    Limited extent to which he carried it, 347.

  Vain man--Hume's character of, i. 104.

  Vallière--Duc de, ii. 268.

  Vandeput--Sir George, i. 105.

  Vauban, i. 365.

  Vasseur--Thérèse le, ii. 294, 299, 305, 307, 323, 352, 366, 370.

  Verdelin--Madame de, ii. 295.

    Hume's account of the court there, and his introduction, i. 257-259.

  Vincent--Captain Philip, i. 177, 180.
    His position with the Marquis of Annandale, 181, 186-189.
    Letter from, 189.
    Terms specified by, of Hume's engagement with the Marquis of
        Annandale, 201, 203.

  Voltaire, i. 219; ii. 57, 126, 166, 184, 195, 323, 348, 358.
    His "Henriade," Hume's opinion of, 440.

  Walker--Professor, ii. 334.

  Wallace--Dr. Robert, i. 364, 387; ii. 193.

  Walpole, Lady, ii. 138.

  ----, Sir Robert.
    Hume's character of, i. 289.

  ----, Horace.
    Anecdote from, i. 197; ii. 54, 55, 159.
    His notices of Hume, 226.
    Account of his own reception in Paris, 226.
    His letter in the name of the King of Prussia, 306, 321.
    His Memoirs of George III., 282, 345, 351.
    Letter to, 355, 361.

    His letter to Hurd, i. 285.
    Notice of, ii. 35.
    His letter against Hume, ib.
    His Remarks on Hume's essays, ib.
    Notice of, 38, 64, 454.

  Warton--Thomas, ii. 51.

  Wealth of Nations--Hume's opinion of the, ii. 486.

  Wedderburn--Alexander, i. 379; ii. 471.

  Westminster election, in 1749, i. 305.

  Weymouth--Lord, ii. 384.

    His "Epigoniad," ii. 25, 29.
    His education, 26.

  Wilkes--John, ii. 148, 202, 282, 422.

  Wilson--Mr., type-founder, ii. 59.

  Wood--Mr., ii. 63, 182.

  Worcester--Marquis of.
    _See_ Glamorgan--Lord.

  Wray--Mr., ii. 465.

  Wroughton--Mr., ii. 272.

  Wurtzburg--Hume's account of, i. 252.

  York--Archbishop of, ii. 386.

  ----, Duke of, ii. 310.

  Yorke--Mr., ii. 59.


The following words use an oe ligature in the original:

     coeur         manoeuvres
     Croesus       oeuvres
     Foedera       Phoenicians
     foetid        Ploemeur

The following corrections have been made to the text:

     Page xvii: Observations on Miracles--[dash missing in
     original]New Edition

     Page 62: but, in their early intercourse[original has
     "intercouse"], when his senior

     Page 150: Edinb.[original has "Edinr."] Jan. 10, 1743.

     Page 154: "[quotation mark missing in original]I say not a
     word of Mr. Hutcheson

     Page 158: the triennial bill, for the pension[original has
     "pensiou"] bill

     Page 210: commanded by Admiral[original has "Amiral"] Richard

     Page 252: "[quotation mark missing in original]Next post
     beyond Hanau

     Page 283: we would at once maintain to be impossible[original
     has "impossibile"]

     Page 313: delivered you by Mr.[period missing in original]
     William Cockburn

     Page 324: that part of your work.[original has extraneous
     quotation mark]

     Page 326: is beyond human capacity[original has "ca acity"]

     Page 333: '_If the idea of cause and effect is nothing but
     vicinity_,'[quotation mark missing in original]

     Page 391: subscription for supporting[original has
     "suppporting"] him during five years

     Page 400: it has frequently been the means[original has
     "mean"] of throwing

     Page 427: if this were necessary!"[quotation mark missing in

     Page 431: and he[original has "be"] brought before the
     Presbytery of Edinburgh

     Page 457: le dessein de traduire l'ouvrage[original has

     Page 458: J'ai[original has "Jai"] l'honneur d'être, &c.

     Page 472: necessity of that precaution,[comma missing in
     original] any man

     Page 480: never approaches a hair's breadth[original has
     "hair'sbreadth"] nearer

     [257:1] [original has extraneous double quote]Sir T. Robinson
     was a tall uncouth man

     [325:1] La Perpétuité de la Foi, de l'Eglise[original has "l'
     Eglise"] Catholique

     [353:1] into which they had been admitted."[original has
     single quote]

     [365:3] Discours Politiques traduits de L'Anglais[original
     has "L' Anglois"]

     [434:1] épitres[original has "èpitres"] de Cicéron

     [434:1] les Bourgmestres de la ville de Rome."[quotation mark
     missing in original]

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