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Title: Life and Correspondence of David Hume, Volume II (of 2)
Author: Burton, John Hill, 1809-1881
Language: English
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                               LIFE AND

                          CORRESPONDENCE OF

                             DAVID HUME.

             [Illustration: Portrait of Hume from a Bust]





                             DAVID HUME.


                      BY JOHN HILL BURTON, ESQ.

                              VOLUME II.

                 WILLIAM TAIT, 107, PRINCE'S STREET.

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



  Portrait of Hume from a Bust,                        _Frontispiece_.

  Fac simile of a page of the History of England,              Page 79

  Fac simile of a letter from Rousseau,                            326


1756-1759. ÆT. 45-48.

  The second volume of the History of the Stuarts--His Apologies
  for his Treatment of Religion--The Four Dissertations--The Two
  Suppressed Dissertations--Resigns his Office of Librarian--
  Home's Douglas--Commences the History of the Tudors--
  Wilkie's Epigoniad--Hume's Nationalism--Warburton--Colonel
  Edmondstoune--Dr. Robertson--Negotiations as to Ferguson's
  Chair--Hume goes to London--Writes Letters of Fictitious and
  Extravagant News--Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments--
  Publication of the History of the House of Tudor--General View
  of the Constitutional Principles of the History.                   1


1760-1762. ÆT. 49-51.

  Alterations of the History in the direction of despotic
  Principles--Specimens--Alterations in Style--Specimens--His
  Elaboration--Ossian's Poems--Labours at the early part of the
  History--Ferguson's "Sister Peg"--Acquaintance with Madame de
  Boufflers--Account of that lady--First intercourse with
  Rousseau--Rousseau's position--The exiled Earl Marischal--
  Campbell and his Dissertation on Miracles.                        73


1762-1763. ÆT. 51-52.

  The Publication of the History anterior to the Accession of
  the Tudors--Completion of the History--Inquiry how far it is a
  complete History--Hume's Intention to write an Ecclesiastical
  History--Opinions of Townsend and others on his History--
  Appreciation of the Fine Arts--Hume's House in James's Court--
  Its subsequent occupation by Boswell and Johnson--Conduct
  of David Mallet--Hume's Projects--The Douglas Cause--
  Correspondence with Reid.                                        120


1763-1764. ÆT. 52-53.

  Lord Hertford's appointment to the French Embassy, and
  invitation to Hume to accompany him--Correspondence on the
  occasion--Residence in London, and remarks on the Political
  Movements of 1763--State of his reputation in France--His
  Arrival--Letters to friends at home about his flattering
  reception--The young French princes--Observations on eminent
  French people--His recommendations to a Clergyman--
  Introductions of Fellow Countrymen.                              156


1764-1765. ÆT. 53-54.

  The French and English Society of Hume's day--Reasons of his
  warm reception in France--Society in which he moved--Mixture
  of lettered men with the Aristocracy--Madame Geoffrin--Madame
  Du Page de Boccage--Madame Du Deffand--Mademoiselle De
  L'Espinasse--D'Alembert--Turgot--The Prince of Conti--Notices
  of Hume among the Parisians--Walpole in Paris--Resumption of
  the Correspondence--Hume undertakes the management of Elliot's
  sons--Reminiscences of home--Mrs. Cockburn--Adam Smith--Madame
  De Boufflers and the Prince of Conti--Correspondence with Lord
  Elibank.                                                         207


1765-1766. ÆT. 54-55.

  Hume's Sentiments as to the Popularity of his works--A letter
  to the Scottish Clergy--Correspondence with Elliot continued--
  Sir Robert Liston--Mallet--Hume appointed Secretary of
  Legation--Chargé d' Affaires at Paris--Proposal to appoint him
  Secretary for Ireland--Reasons of the Failure of the Project--
  Lord Hertford--Resumption of Communication with Rousseau--
  Rousseau in Paris--Notices of his History and Character--
  Hume's Solicitude for his welfare--Return to Britain--Disposal
  of Rousseau--Death of Jardine.                                   263


1766-1767. ÆT. 55-56.

  Rousseau at Wooton--Mr. Davenport--Negotiations as to
  Rousseau's pension--Origin and rise of his excitement against
  Hume--Proper method of viewing the dispute--Incidents
  illustrative of Rousseau's state of mind--His charges against
  Hume--Smith's opinion--Opinion of the French friends--Hume's
  conduct in the publication of the papers--Voltaire--Rousseau's
  flight and wanderings--Hume's subsequent conduct to him.         319


1766-1770. ÆT. 55-59.

  Hume Under Secretary of State--Church Politics--Official
  abilities--Conduct as to Ferguson's book--Quarrel with
  Oswald--Baron Mure's sons--Project of continuing the History--
  Ministerial convulsions--Hume's conduct to his Family--His
  Brother--His Nephews--Baron Hume--Blacklock--Smollett--Church
  Patronage--Gibbon--Robertson--Elliot--Gilbert Stuart--The
  Douglas Cause--Andrew Stewart--Morellet--Return to Scotland.     382


1771-1776. ÆT. 60-65.

  Hume's social character--His conversation--His disposition--
  Traditional anecdotes regarding him--Correspondence--Letter
  about the Pretender--Gilbert Stuart's quarrel with Dr. Henry--
  Commercial State of Scotland--Letter to his nephew on
  Republicanism--Smith's "Wealth of Nations"--Hume's illness--
  His Will--Smith appointed Literary Executor--Strahan
  substituted--His journey to England with Home--Prospects of
  Death--Communications with his Friends and Relations--His
  Death--General view of his influence on Thought and Action.      437

INDEX.                                                             523


[vi:A] By mistake two chapters have been numbered XIV.





1756-1759. ÆT. 45-48.

     The second volume of the History of the Stuarts--His Apologies
     for his Treatment of Religion--The Four Dissertations--The Two
     Suppressed Dissertations--Resigns his Office of Librarian--
     Home's Douglas--Commences the History of the Tudors--Wilkie's
     Epigoniad--Hume's Nationalism--Warburton--Colonel Edmondstoune--
     Dr. Robertson--Negotiations as to Ferguson's Chair--Hume goes
     to London--Writes letters of Fictitious and Extravagant News--
     Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments--Publication of the History
     of the House of Tudor--General View of the Constitutional
     Principles of the History.

We have now followed the personal history of David Hume through nearly
twenty years of authorship. We have seen him approach the tribunal of
public opinion with the strongest internal assurance of success, and in
a form so different from that of his predecessors, as a high reliance on
his own powers could alone have prompted. Baffled in the first, and in
the second, and in the third attempt, he still persevered; and while the
coldness of each reception showed him that his last effort had proved a
failure, it never extinguished the fire of literary ardour which he felt
burning within him, or quenched the hope, that it would one day blaze
forth before the world. It is only towards the termination of this long
period of laborious authorship that we find the philosopher's early
visions of intellectual greatness beginning to be fulfilled. At the
period at which we have now arrived, his name was famous over Europe. It
was a fame that, once spread abroad, was not soon to die; for those to
whom his name was first made known in his new popular work, speedily
discovered that, in his earliest neglected effort, he had laid the
foundation of a still surer claim on their admiration, and justified the
sagacity with which, in the pride and strength of youthful genius, he
had thrown its first fruits before the world unaided and unadvised.

The year 1756 seems to have been in a great measure devoted by Hume to
the printing of the second volume of his History, to which the following
letters to Millar refer. A great part of the correspondence with this
sagacious publisher relates to minute business arrangements. It is
presumed, that the reader may wish to see some specimens of the manner
in which Hume transacted such matters, but that he will not care to have
the whole of the arrangements between the author and publisher laid
before him. A few specimens of the business part of the letters are
accordingly selected, while those portions which have any general
interest, literary, philosophical, or political, are given in full. The
reader will see, perhaps, with some surprise, that he was very anxious
to subject his style to the critical eye of Mallet. We shall hereafter
have to disclose some curious features of his literary intercourse with
this extraordinary person.


"_Edinburgh, 22d September, 1756._

"Mr. Strahan, in a few days, will have finished the printing this
volume; and I hope you will find leisure, before the hurry of winter,
to peruse it, and to write me your remarks on it. I fancy you will
publish about the middle of November. I must desire you to take the
trouble of distributing a few copies to my friends in London, and of
sending me a few copies here. The whole will be fifteen copies.

"Notwithstanding Mr. Mallet's impertinence in not answering my letter,
(for it deserves no better a name,) if you can engage him from yourself
to mark on the perusal such slips of language as he thinks I have fallen
into in this volume, it will be a great obligation to me: I mean that I
shall lie under an obligation to you; for I would not willingly owe any
to him. I am, dear sir, your most humble servant."[3:1]

"_Edinburgh, 4th December, 1756._

"DEAR SIR,--I have two of yours before me, and should have answered them
sooner, had not Mr. Dalrymple told me that he would come to a
resolution, in a few days, about the method of printing his volume. As
soon as he does so, I shall write you.

"I am certainly very well satisfied with your sale, which I hope
continues. Lord Lyttelton's objection is not well grounded; I have not
contradicted that story betwixt Shaftesbury and Clifford: I have only
omitted it. It stands only on Burnet's authority, who is very careless
and inaccurate. I believe I could convince both you and him that it was
without foundation. I am very glad that Mr. Mallet has marked those
expressions which appeared Scotticisms. You could not do me a greater
pleasure than to procure me a list of them. I beg of you to employ all
your interest with him to that purpose. I am very anxious to see them
soon, that I may examine them at leisure, and correct them in all my
writings. A very little time would suffice for him to take down the page
and the line and the expression. If counting the line were too
troublesome, he would oblige me by only marking the page and the
expression; I would easily find it.

"I had a conversation, yesterday, with Messrs. Kincaid and Donaldson,
when I made them a proposal, which, I hope, will be for both your
advantage. They told me that you had only about four hundred complete
sets of my philosophical writings. I am extremely desirous to have these
four volumes, with that which you will publish this winter, brought into
a quarto volume. They said that the small size was rather more proper
for their sale; and, therefore, they would gladly take, at present, two
hundred sets of the four volumes, to be paid for by so many of their
shares in the quarto edition as would be an equivalent; that is, if the
quarto volume were sold at the same price with the four volumes, then
set for set: if at more, then such allowance to be made as, upon
calculation, would appear to be an equivalent. If the History meet with
success, it will certainly quicken the sale of the philosophical
writings; and the taking two hundred sets from you, leaves you so small
a number on hand, as gives you a certain prospect of coming soon to a
new edition. Though some odd copies of particular volumes remain on
hand, there is no great matter, as they may be disposed of with a small
discount. If you agree to this proposal, they empowered me to desire you
to put the two hundred copies on board a ship with the first occasion,
and to write them a letter, by which they may be sure that there is no
mistake in the conditions. The bringing these scattered pieces into one
volume will, of itself, quicken the sale; and every new edition has
naturally that effect.

"I again recommend to you, very earnestly, the procuring me that favour
from Mr. Mallet. It is not possible that he can refuse you. I wish I had
desired you to ask the same favour of Mr. Reid, to whom please to make
my compliments. I am, dear sir, your most obedient servant."[5:1]

The second volume of the History, bringing down the narrative to the
Revolution, was published in 1756. "This performance," says Hume in his
"own life," alluding to the previous volume, "happened to give less
displeasure to the Whigs, and was better received. It not only rose
itself, but helped to buoy up its unfortunate brother."

The manner in which he had characterized the different religious bodies,
whose conduct he had to describe, gave offence to many readers, and was
afterwards matter of regret to himself. The toleration which forbids us
to punish our neighbour on account of his creed, he had fully learned.
That still higher toleration, which forbids us to treat our neighbour's
religious creed with disrespect, he had not yet acquired. He always
speaks of the extreme Independents and Presbyterians as enthusiasts.
With this term, not in itself opprobrious, because, though it implies
excess, it does not imply the excess of a bad quality, he, on some
occasions, associates the word fanaticism, and other expressions having
a like sarcastic, or at least slighting tendency. To the Roman Catholic
religion he was still less respectful, generally speaking of it
as "the Catholic superstition."[5:2] In his "Natural History
of Religion," published in 1757, he used the same offensive
expressions, and spoke of the ceremonies and essential doctrines
of the church of Rome, in a tone which no sincere member of that
church can encounter without painful feelings. In this respect he
certainly did not act up to the character of a true philosopher,
though his expressions are no doubt in harmony with the general
tone of his mind. He certainly had no wish to insult any man's
creed, but he never dreamed that, among his readers, there might
be some who sympathized deeply with the catholic spirit of the
gothic ages, or with the independent temper of the covenanters.
One whose mind revolted so nervously against whatever was not
stamped with the character of profound philosophy, or of brilliant
intellect, could see nothing to admire in the adaptation of the
catholic system to the dark ages in which it flourished; and would
have little respect for such achievements as it gained in the war
with barbarous minds and brutal passions.[6:1]

In Scotland, the Episcopal Church was at that time barely tolerated; and
many an outcry against this toleration, as one of the sins of the time,
made its adherents daily fear that their freedom of conscience might be
made still more narrow. For the Roman Catholics there was no toleration
in the proper acceptation of the term. Had their priesthood mingled in
the ordinary society of Edinburgh, and had Hume become acquainted with
them as he afterwards was with the clergy of France, he would perhaps
have blushed to write as he did, of the creed of learned and
accomplished men. In his subsequent editions, he carefully cleansed his
History of these offensive expressions, substituting in general the word
"creed" or "religion," instead of superstition.

The coincidence of his metaphysical opinions, with those of a
considerable portion of the Presbyterians, has already been noticed; and
his desire to strip religion of all forms and symbols, would seem to
point out the Presbyterian system as that with which he should naturally
have had the greatest sympathy. But he disliked enthusiasm or zeal,
whatever were the opinions of the zealots; and therefore he invariably
marks with censure the extreme views of that religious party. In the
English church, on the other hand, he met with a larger proportion of
learned, accomplished, and gentlemanlike men. Among persons, too, many
of whom were tempted to assume the sacerdotal character by its
emoluments, not by its duties, he found a tolerable portion of that
philosophical indifference, which it is to be feared he looked upon as
no blemish in a clergyman's character. In the Church of England, his
sympathies were thus with the insincere.[9:1] Where there was sincere
belief, but not to the extent of enthusiasm, the clergy of the Church of
Scotland would have the largest share of his confidence. Accordingly, we
find that he had formed a warm intimacy with many of the members of the
"moderate" party in that church. His own good taste and sense of
colloquial politeness, would suggest to him the propriety of avoiding,
whether in correspondence or conversation, all forms of expression or
enunciations of opinion, such as it would be unbecoming in a clergyman
to hear without reproving. On the other hand, his correspondence with
the clergy bears traces of his having made it part of the understanding
on which their intercourse was to be based, that they were not to make
him a subject for the exercise of their calling; and that they were to
abstain from all efforts of conversion, and all discussion of religious
subjects. Hence, although there are many observations on church politics
in his correspondence with his reverend friends, religion is a matter
never mentioned.

Before he published his second volume, Hume felt conscious of the
impropriety of the tone he had adopted in the first, towards religious
creeds. In a letter to Dr. Clephane, he says,--"I am convinced that
whatever I have said of religion should have received some more
softenings. There is no passage in the History which strikes in the
least at revelation. But as I run over all the sects successively, and
speak of each of them with some mark of disregard, the reader, putting
the whole together, concludes that I am of no sect; which to him will
appear the same thing as the being of no religion. With regard to
politics and the character of princes and great men, I think I am very
moderate. My views of _things_ are more conformable to Whig principles;
my representations of _persons_ to Tory prejudices. Nothing can so much
prove that men commonly regard more persons than things, as to find that
I am commonly numbered among the Tories."[11:1]

The following paper is evidently a draft of a preface, which, in the
consciousness that some apology was called for in connexion with this
subject, he intended to prefix to the second volume. He afterwards
published a great part of the substance of it in a note towards the end
of the volume: but there is sufficient difference in the contents of the
two papers to make the following a distinct object of interest.


     It ought to be no matter of offence, that in this volume, as
     well as in the foregoing, the mischiefs which arise from the
     abuses of religion are so often mentioned, while so little in
     comparison is said of the salutary consequences which result
     from true and genuine piety. The proper office of religion is
     to reform men's lives, to purify their hearts, to enforce all
     moral duties, and to secure obedience to the laws and civil
     magistrate. While it pursues these useful purposes, its
     operations, though infinitely valuable, are secret and silent,
     and seldom come under the cognisance of history. That
     adulterate species of it alone, which inflames faction,
     animates sedition, and prompts rebellion, distinguishes itself
     in the open theatre of the world. Those, therefore, who
     attempt to draw inferences disadvantageous to religion from
     the abuses of it mentioned by historians, proceed upon a very
     gross, and a very obvious fallacy; for, besides that every
     thing is liable to abuse, and the best things the most so, the
     beneficent influence of religion is not to be sought for in
     history. That principle is always the more pure and genuine,
     the less figure it makes in the annals of war, politics,
     intrigues, and revolutions, quarrels, and convulsions; which
     it is the business of an historian to record and transmit to

     It ought as little to be matter of offence, that no religious
     sect is mentioned in this work without being exposed sometimes
     to some note of blame and disapprobation. The frailties of
     our nature mingle themselves with every thing in which we
     are employed, and no human institutions will ever reach
     perfection, the idea of an infinite mind. The author of the
     universe seems at first sight to require a worship absolutely
     pure, simple, unadorned, without rites, institutions,
     ceremonies; even without temples, priests, or verbal prayer
     and supplication. Yet has this species of devotion been often
     found to degenerate into the most dangerous fanaticism. When
     we have recourse to the aid of the senses and imagination, in
     order to adapt our religion in some degree to human infirmity,
     it is very difficult, and almost impossible, to prevent
     altogether the intrusion of superstition, or keep men from
     laying too great stress on the ceremonial and ornamental parts
     of their worship. Of all the sects into which Christians have
     been divided, the Church of England seems to have chosen the
     most happy medium; yet it will undoubtedly be allowed, that
     during the age of which these volumes treat, there was a
     tincture of superstition in the partisans of the hierarchy, as
     well as a strong mixture of enthusiasm in their antagonists.
     But it is the nature of the latter principle soon to evaporate
     and decay. A spirit of moderation usually succeeds in a little
     to the fervours of zeal; and it must be acknowledged, to the
     honour of the present Presbyterians, Independents, and other
     sectaries of this island, that they resemble in little more
     than in name their predecessors, who flourished during the
     civil wars, and who were the authors of such disorders. It
     would appear ridiculous in the eyes of the judicious part of
     mankind, to pretend that even the first reformers, in most
     countries of Europe, did not carry matters to a most violent
     extreme, and were not on many occasions liable to the
     imputation of fanaticism. Not to mention that uncharitable
     spirit which accompanies zealots of all kinds, and which led
     the early reformers, almost universally, to inflict upon the
     Catholics, and on all who differed from them, the same rigours
     of which they themselves so loudly complained.

     These hints, however obvious, the author thought proper to
     suggest, with regard to the free and impartial manner in which
     he has treated religious controversy. As to the civil and
     political part of his performance, he scorns to suggest any
     apology, where he thinks himself entitled to approbation. To
     be above the temptation of interest is a species of virtue,
     which we do not find by experience to be very common; but to
     neglect at the same time all popular and vulgar applause, is
     an enterprise much more rare and arduous. Whoever, in a
     factious nation, pays court to neither party, must expect that
     justice will be done him by time only, perhaps only by a
     distant posterity.[13:1]

The "Natural History of Religion" above referred to, remarkable even
among its author's other works, for the breadth of its research, and its
apt union of philosophy with historical detail, was published in 1757,
along with three other essays;[13:2] and a curious incident connected
with this publication has now to be revealed. In 1783, a work was
published in London, called "Essays on Suicide and the Immortality of
the Soul, ascribed to the late David Hume, Esq., never before published;
with remarks, intended as an antidote to the poison contained in these
performances, by the Editor." The editor and his antidote are now both
forgotten: but the style of Hume and his method of thinking were at once
recognised in these essays, and they have been incorporated with the
general edition of his works. If any doubt attached to the authorship,
it would be cleared up by some allusions in his subsequent
correspondence, where we shall find him naturally expressing alarm at
the circumstance of Wilkes having, through the negligence of Millar, had
possession of a copy containing the two suppressed essays. Many copies,
indeed, of the first edition of the dissertations bear marks of having
been mutilated.[14:1] That Hume wrote these essays, and intended to
publish them, is thus an incident in his life which ought not to be
passed over; but it is also part of his history, that he repented of the
act at the last available moment, and suppressed the publication.

That after the ghastly scene which he witnessed twenty years
earlier,[14:2] he should have written on suicide with his usual
philosophical indifference, and contempt for the prevalent sentiments
and feelings of mankind, is a remarkable proof how little he was liable
to ordinary imaginative impressions; how completely he was free of
subjection to those

                   "lords of the visionary eye, whose lid
     Once raised remains aghast, and will not fall."

It may safely be pronounced, that had he widened the circle of his
utilitarian theory, and embraced within it, as he might have done,
Hutcheson's theory of universal benevolence, he never would have
palliated self-slaughter. He looked at it only in relation to the person
who perpetrates the act. The utilitarian principle, however, should have
suggested to him the misery caused to surviving relatives by one such
deed, the horrible uncertainty that must pervade any society where it is
common; and he would have felt that no single life can be so dreadful a
burden to the owner as to justify him in causing such an amount of evil
to the rest of the world, as he would produce by casting it away. The
result of modern reading and inquiry into vital statistics, is to show
that the desire of longevity, which the author of our being has
implanted in all bosoms, is an adaptation to universal utility; because
it is from premature deaths, produced by violence or disease, that
communities are burdened with those unproductive members of society,
which in a healthy and long-lived community, receive domestic support
from the productive members.[15:1]

The reasonings of an enthusiast have generally more plausibility than
those of a philosopher who has gone astray from his own theory; for the
straying philosopher speaks like one who has misgivings; while the
enthusiast never doubts that he is in the right, and urges his opinions
with a corresponding confidence and sincerity. Thus the justification of
suicide which Rousseau puts into a letter from St. Preux to Lord Edward
Bomston, is a far more attractive vindication than that which Hume had
intended to publish.

This was not the only suppression connected with the publication of the
Dissertations. As at first printed, they were preceded by an
affectionate and laudatory dedication to John Home. Before the edition
was published, this dedication was suppressed; because Hume thought it
might injure his friend, in the estimation of his brethren of the
church. Before the edition was sold, however, Hume desired the
dedication to be restored. This step was probably owing to Home having
intimated to him his design of resigning his charge as minister of
Athelstaneford, which he did in June, 1757. This not only removed the
objection to the dedication, but as it severed the dramatic martyr from
his professional brethren, it made him more dependant on the sympathy
and suffrages of other friends, and rendered Hume's testimony to his
merits more valuable.

He thus writes on this subject to Smith.


[16:1]"DEAR SMITH,--The dedication to John Home, you have probably seen;
for I find it has been inserted in some of the weekly papers, both here
and in London. Some of my friends thought it was indiscreet in me to
make myself responsible to the public, for the productions of another.
But the author had lain under such singular and unaccountable
obstructions in his road to fame, that I thought it incumbent on his
wellwishers to go as much out of the common road to assist him. I
believe the composition of the dedication will be esteemed very prudent,
and not inelegant.

"I can now give you the satisfaction of hearing that the play, though
not near so well acted in Covent Garden as in this place, is likely to
be very successful. Its great intrinsic merit breaks through all
obstacles. When it shall be printed, (which will be soon,) I am
persuaded it will be esteemed the best, and by French critics the only
tragedy of our language! This encouragement will no doubt engage the
author to go on in the same career. He meets with great countenance in
London, and, I hope, will soon be rendered independent in his fortune.

"Did you ever hear of such madness and folly as our clergy have lately
fallen into? For my part, I expect that the next Assembly will very
solemnly pronounce the sentence of excommunication against me; but I do
not apprehend it to be a matter of any consequence; what do you think?

"I am somewhat idle at present, and somewhat undetermined as to my next
undertaking. Shall I go backwards or forwards in my History? I think you
used to tell me, that you approved more of my going backwards. The other
would be the more popular subject; but I am afraid that I shall not find
materials sufficient to ascertain the truth--at least, without settling
in London, which, I own, I have some reluctance to. I am settled here
very much to my mind; and would not wish, at my years, to change the
place of my abode.

"I have just now received a copy of 'Douglas' from London; it will
instantly be put in the press. I hope to be able to send you a copy in
the same parcel with the dedication."[18:1]


"_Edinburgh, 20th January, 1757._

"DEAR SIR,--The dedication of my Dissertations to Mr. Hume[18:2] was
shown to some of his friends here, men of very good sense, who were
seized with an apprehension that it would hurt that party in the church,
with which he had always been connected, and would involve him, and them
of consequence, in the suspicion of infidelity. Neither he nor I were in
the least affected with their panic; but to satisfy them, we agreed to
stand by the arbitration of one person, of great rank and of known
prudence; and I promised them to write to you to suspend the publication
for one post, in case you should have resolved to publish it presently.
Next post you shall be sure to hear from me; and if we be obliged to
suppress it, you'll be pleased to place the charges of print and paper
to my account. I indorse this day your two bills to Mr. Alexander
Cunningham. I am," &c.

Early in 1757, Hume resigned his office of librarian of the Advocates'
Library. As a verbal intimation of his wishing to leave this situation
was not considered satisfactory, he favoured his learned employers with
the following laconic letter:--

"_Edinburgh, January 8, 1757._

"SIR,--A few days ago, I sent the Faculty a verbal resignation; but as I
am told that it is expected I should give a resignation under my hand,
and as I am very desirous to deliver over the charge of the library as
soon as possible, I have been induced to write you at present, and beg
of you to inform the Faculty, that they may choose me a successor
whenever they think proper. I am, sir, your most humble servant.[19:1]

"_To Mr. Charles Binning,
Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Advocates._"

HUME _to_ WILLIAM MURE _of Caldwell_.

"DEAR MURE,--I hope you do not think yourself obliged, by saying civil
things, to make atonement for the too homely truths, which you told me
formerly. I will not believe so. I take for granted, that you are
equally sincere in both: though I must own that I think my first volume
a great deal better than the second. The subject admitted of more
eloquence, and of greater nicety of reasoning, and more acute
distinctions. The opposition, I may say the rage, with which it was
received by the public, I must confess, did not a little surprise me.
Whatever knowledge I pretend to in history, and human affairs, I had not
so bad an opinion of men as to expect that candour, disinterestedness,
and humanity, could entitle me to that treatment. Yet such was my fate.
After a long interval, I at last collected so much courage, as to renew
my application to the second volume, though with infinite disgust and
reluctance; and I am sensible that, in many passages of it, there are
great signs of that disposition, and that my usual fire does not every
where appear. At other times, I excited myself, and perhaps succeeded

     Exul eram; requiesque mihi, non fama, petita est;
       Mens intenta suis, ne foret usque malis.
     Nam simul ac mea caluerant pectora musae,
       Altior humano spiritus ille malo est.[20:1]

"I leave you to judge whether your letter came in a very seasonable
time. I own that I had the weakness to be affected by it, when I found
that a person, whose judgment I very much valued, could tell me, though
I was not asking his opinion----But I will not proceed any farther. The
matter gave me uneasiness at the time, though without the least
resentment. At present the uneasiness is gone; and all my usual
friendship, confirmed by years and long acquaintance, still remains.

"Pray, whether do you pity or blame me most, with regard to this
dedication of my Dissertations to my friend, the poet? I am sure I never
executed any thing which was either more elegant in the composition, or
more generous in the intention; yet such an alarm seized some fools
here, (men of very good sense, but fools in that particular,) that they
assailed both him and me with the utmost violence; and engaged us to
change our intention. I wrote to Millar to suppress that dedication; two
posts after, I retracted that order. Can any thing be more unlucky than
that, in the interval of these four days, he should have opened his
sale, and disposed of eight hundred copies, without that dedication,
whence, I imagined, my friend would reap some advantage, and myself so
much honour? I have not been so heartily vexed at any accident of a long
time. However, I have insisted that the dedication shall still be

"I am a little uncertain what work I shall next undertake; for I do not
care to be long idle. I think you seem to approve of my going forward:
and I am sensible that the subject is much more interesting to us, and
even will be so to posterity, than any other I could choose: but can I
hope that there are materials for composing a just and sure history of
it? I am afraid not. However, I shall examine the matter. I fancy it
will be requisite for me to take a journey to London, and settle there
for some time, in order to gather such materials as are not to be found
in print. But, if I should go backwards, and write the History of
England from the accession of Henry the Seventh, I might remain where I
am; and I own to you, at my time of life, these changes of habitation
are not agreeable, even though the place be better to which one removes.

"I am sorry my fair cousin does not find London so agreeable as,
perhaps, she expected. She must not judge by one winter. It will improve
against next winter, and appear still better the winter after that.
Please make my compliments to her, and tell her that she must not be
discouraged. By the by, Mrs. Binnie tells me that she writes her a very
different account of matters, so that I find my cousin is a hypocrite.

"I shall make use of your criticisms, and wish there had been more of
them. That practice of doubling the genitive is certainly very
barbarous, and I carefully avoided it in the first volume; but I find it
so universal a practice, both in writing and speaking, that I thought it
better to comply with it, and have even changed all the passages in the
first volume, in conformity to use. All languages contain solecisms of
that kind.

"Please make my compliments to Sir Harry Erskine, and tell him that I
have executed what I proposed. I am," &c.[22:1]

The following letter shows that he did not long remain idle, or
undecided in his historical projects:--


"_Edinburgh, 20th May, 1757._

"I have already begun, and am a little advanced in a third volume of
History. I do not preclude myself from the view of going forward to the
period after the Revolution; but, at present, I begin with the reign of
Henry the Seventh. It is properly at that period modern history
commences. America was discovered; commerce extended; the arts
cultivated; printing invented; religion reformed, and all the
governments of Europe almost changed. I wish, therefore, I had begun
here at first. I should have obviated many objections that were made to
the other volumes. I shall be considerably advanced in this volume
before I be in London.

"I come now to speak to you of an affair which gives me uneasiness, and
which I mention with reluctance. I am told that one Dr. Brown has
published a book in London, where there is a note containing personal
reflections on me, for which he quotes a letter I wrote to you.[23:1]
What sort of behaviour this is, to make use of a private letter, without
the permission of the person to whom it was addressed, is easily
conceived; but how he came to see any of my letters, I cannot imagine;
nor what I wrote, that could give him any handle for his calumny. All I
can recollect of the matter is this, that above two years ago, when
Bailie Hamilton was in London, he wrote me, that the stop in the sale of
my History proceeded from some strokes of irreligion, which had raised
the cry of the clergy against me. This gave me occasion to remark to
you, that the Bailie's complaint must have proceeded from his own
misconduct; that the cause he assigned could never have produced that
effect; that it was rather likely to increase the sale, according to all
past experience; that you had offered (as I heard) a large sum for
Bolingbroke's Works, trusting to this consequence; and that the strokes
complained of were so few, and of such small importance, that, if any
ill effects could have been apprehended from them, they might easily
have been retrenched. As far as I can recollect, this was the purport of
my letter;[24:1] but I must beg you, that you would cause it to be
transcribed, and send me a copy of it, for I find by John Hume that you
have it still by you. I doubt not but I could easily refute Dr. Brown;
but as I had taken a resolution never to have the least altercation with
these fellows, I shall not readily be brought to pay any attention to
him; and I cannot but be displeased that your inadvertence or
indiscretion (for I cannot give it a better name) should have brought me
to this dilemma. I fancy Brown will find it a difficult matter to
persuade the public that I do not speak my sentiments in every subject I
handle, and that I have any view to any interest whatsoever. I leave
that to him and his gang: for he is a flatterer, as I am told, of that
low fellow, Warburton; and any thing so low as Warburton, or his
flatterers, I should certainly be ashamed to engage with. I am, &c.

"P.S. Since you are acquainted with Dr. Brown, I must beg of you to read
this letter to him; for it is probably, or indeed certainly, all the
answer I shall ever deign to give him."[25:1]

The reader will feel interested in the sketch, by the pen of Hume, of an
eminent contemporary--his friend Wilkie--in the following letter.

HUME _to_ GILBERT ELLIOT _of Minto_.

"_Edinburgh, 3d July, 1757._

"DEAR SIR,--To show you that I am not such an affecter of singularity as
to entertain prejudices against ministers of state,[25:2] I am resolved
to congratulate you on your return to power, and to express my wishes,
that, both for your sake and the public's, your ministry, and that of
your friends, may be more durable than it was before. We even hope it
will, though the strange motley composition which it consists of, gives
us some apprehensions. However, we are glad to find, from past
experience, that you can neither rise nor fall, without credit and
reputation. You know that, according to the whimsical way in this
country, it is more difficult to rise than fall with reputation.

"I suppose that, by this time, you have undoubtedly read and admired the
wonderful production of the Epigoniad, and that you have so much love
for arts, and for your native country, as to be very industrious in
propagating the fame of it. It is certainly a most singular production,
full of sublimity and genius, adorned by a noble, harmonious, forcible,
and even correct versification. We generally think the story deficient
and uninteresting; but perhaps the new fancy of crossing the invention
of all modern romance-writers may make some atonement, and even bestow
an air of novelty on the imitation of Homer. As I cannot but hope that
this work will soon become the subject of conversation in London, I
shall take this opportunity of supplying you with some anecdotes with
regard to the author, besides such as you already know,--of his being a
very worthy and a very entertaining man, adorned with all that
simplicity of manners, so common to great men, and even with some of
that rusticity and negligence which serve to abate that envy to which
they are so much exposed.

"You know he is a farmer's son, in the neighbourhood of this town, where
there are a great number of pigeon-houses. The farmers are very much
infested with the pigeons, and Wilkie's father planted him often as a
scarecrow (an office for which he is well qualified) in the midst of his
fields of wheat. It was in this situation that he confessed he first
conceived the design of his epic poem, and even executed part of it. He
carried out his Homer with him, together with a table, and pen and ink,
and a great rusty gun. He composed and wrote two or three lines, till a
flock of pigeons settled in the field, then rose up, ran towards them,
and fired at them; returned again to his former station, and added a
rhyme or two more, till he met with a fresh interruption.

"Two or three years ago, Jemmy Russel put a very pleasant trick on an
English physician, one Dr. Roebuck, who was travelling in this country.
Russel carried him out one day on horseback to see the outlets of the
town, and purposely led him by Wilkie's farm. He saw the bard at a
small distance, sowing his corn, with a sheet about him, all besmeared
with dirt and sweat, with a coat and visage entirely proportioned to his
occupation. Russel says to his companion, 'Here is a fellow, a peasant,
with whom I have some business: let us call him.' He made a sign, and
Wilkie came to them: some questions were asked him with regard to the
season, to his farm and husbandry, which he readily answered; but soon
took an opportunity of digressing to the Greek poets, and enlarging on
that branch of literature. Dr. Roebuck, who had scarce understood his
rustic English, or rather his broad Scotch, immediately comprehended
him, for his Greek was admirable; and on leaving him, he could not
forbear expressing the highest admiration to Russel, that a clown, a
rustic, a mere hind, such as he saw this fellow was, should be possessed
of so much erudition. 'Is it usual,' says he, 'for your peasants in
Scotland to read the Greek poets?'--'O Yes,' replies Russel, very
coolly, 'we have long winter evenings; and in what can they employ
themselves better, than in reading the Greek poets?' Roebuck left the
country in a full persuasion that there are at least a dozen farmers in
every parish who read Homer, Hesiod, and Sophocles, every
winter-evening, to their families; and, if ever he writes an account of
his travels, it is likely he will not omit so curious a circumstance.

"Wilkie is now a settled minister at Ratho, within four miles of the
town.[27:1] He possesses about £80 or £90 a-year, which he esteems
exorbitant riches. Formerly, when he had only £20, as helper, he said
that he could not conceive what article, either of human convenience or
pleasure he was deficient in, nor what any man could mean by desiring
more money. He possesses several branches of erudition, besides the
Greek poetry; and, particularly, is a very profound geometrician, a
science commonly very incompatible with the lively imagination of a
poet. He has even made some new discoveries in that science; and he told
me, that, when a young man, he threw cross and pile, whether he should
devote himself chiefly to mathematics or to poetry, and fears that
rather he crossed the bent of his genius in taking to the latter. Yet
this man, who has composed the second epic poem in our language!
understands so little of orthography, that, regularly through the whole
poem, he spelled the word yield in this manner, 'ealde;' and I had great
difficulty to convince him of his mistake.

"I fancy our friend, Robertson, will be able to publish his History next
winter. You are sufficiently acquainted with the merit of this work; and
really it is admirable how many men of genius this country produces at
present. Is it not strange that, at a time when we have lost our
princes, our parliaments, our independent government,--even the presence
of our chief nobility; are unhappy, in our accent and pronunciation;
speak a very corrupt dialect of the tongue we make use of,--is it not
strange, I say, that, in these circumstances, we should really be the
people most distinguished for literature in Europe?

"Having spoke so much to Mr. Elliot, the man of letters, you must now
allow me to say a few words to Mr. Elliot, the lord of the admiralty.
There is a cousin-german of mine, Alexander Edgar, who is midshipman in
the Vestal, off Harwich, and has passed his trials, above four months
ago, for a lieutenantcy. He always behaved well in all his service,
which has been very long; and, almost from his infancy, he has had the
good-will, and even friendship, of all his captains; is modest, sober,
frugal, and attentive, and very deserving of promotion. I recommended
him to Mr. Oswald, who always protected him, but can no longer be of
service to him. He is of a very good family, though his father spent his
estate and died a bankrupt; and the poor lad has now scarce any other
friends than what I can procure him: permit me the freedom of
recommending him to your protection. If I did not think him worthy of
it, I should not venture to do so, notwithstanding his near relationship
to me. I think I ought to make some apologies for this liberty I use
with you; but I think it would be wronging our friendship to make too
many. I am, dear sir, your most obedient humble servant."[29:1]

Wilkie's Epigoniad, of which few ordinary readers now know more than the
name, if even that be very generally remembered south of the Tweed,
inspired many zealous Scotsmen of the day, with the belief that their
country had, at last, produced a great epic poet: but the national
feeling was not responded to in England.[29:2]

Finding that the Epigoniad was attacked by the English critics, Hume
was determined to be the champion of his countryman's fame against all
comers; and accordingly addressed a letter to the editor of _The
Critical Review_, containing a long complimentary criticism, in which he

     There remained a tradition among the Greeks, that Homer had
     taken this second siege of Thebes for the subject of a poem,
     which is lost; and our author seems to have pleased himself
     with the thoughts of reviving the work, as well as of treading
     in the footsteps of his favourite author. The actors are
     mostly the same with those of the Iliad; Diomede is the hero;
     Ulysses, Agamemnon, Menelaus, Nestor, Idomeneus, Merion, even
     Thersites, all appear in different passages of the poem; and
     act parts suitable to the lively characters drawn of them by
     that great master. The whole turn of this new poem would
     almost lead us to imagine, that the Scottish bard had found
     the lost manuscript of that father of poetry, and had made a
     faithful translation of it into English. Longinus imagines,
     that the Odyssey was executed by Homer in his old age; we
     shall allow the Iliad to be the work of his middle age; and we
     shall suppose that the Epigoniad was the essay of his youth,
     where his noble and sublime genius breaks forth by frequent
     intervals, and gives strong symptoms of that constant flame
     which distinguished its meridian. . . .

     The story of a poem, whatever may be imagined, is the least
     essential part of it; the force of the versification, the
     vivacity of the images, the justness of the descriptions, the
     natural play of the passions, are the chief circumstances
     which distinguish the great poet from the prosaic novelist,
     and give him so high a rank among the heroes in literature;
     and I will venture to affirm, that all these advantages,
     especially the three former, are to be found, in an eminent
     degree, in the Epigoniad. The author, inspired with the true
     genius of Greece, and smit with the most profound veneration
     for Homer, disdains all frivolous ornaments; and relying
     entirely on his sublime imagination, and his nervous and
     harmonious expression, has ventured to present to his reader
     the naked beauties of nature, and challenges for his partisans
     all the admirers of genuine antiquity.[31:1]

In his conduct on this occasion, Hume exhibited strong national
partiality. It may seem at first sight at variance with some of his
other characteristics; but it is undoubtedly true, that Hume was imbued
with an intense spirit of nationality. It was a nationality, however, of
a peculiar and restricted character. He cared little about the heroism
of his country, or even its struggles for independence: Wallace, Bruce,
and the Black Douglas, were, in his eyes, less interesting than Ulysses
or Æneas,

     ----carent quia vate sacro.

But in that arena which he thought the greatest, in the theatre where
intellect exhibits her might, he panted to see his country first and
greatest. No Scotsman could write a book of respectable talent without
calling forth his loud and warm eulogiums. Wilkie was to be the Homer,
Blacklock the Pindar, and Home the Shakspere, or something still
greater, of his country. On those who were even his rivals in his own
peculiar walks--Adam Smith, Robertson, Ferguson, and Henry, he heaped
the same honest, hearty commendation. He urged them to write; he raised
the spirit of literary ambition in their breasts; he found publishers
for their works; and, when these were completed, he trumpeted the
praises of the authors through society.

The following letter shows how accidentally Hume became acquainted with
a matter, which, according to modern notions, should have formed part of
his systematic studies, before he began to write a history of England.

HUME _to_ GILBERT ELLIOT _of Minto_.

"_Edinburgh, 9th Aug. 1757._

"DEAR SIR,--I can easily perceive that your friends were no lawyers, who
said that there was no statute in Henry the Seventh's reign, which
facilitated the alienation of lands, and broke the ancient entails: it
is 4 Hen. VII. cap. 24; but a man may read that passage fifty times, and
not find any thing that seems, in the least, to point that way. I should
certainly have overlooked the meaning of it, had I not been guided by
Lord Kames. You must know that it was a practice in the courts of
justice, before Henry the Seventh's time, to break entails by a device
which seems very ridiculous, but which is continued to this day, and
first received the sanction of law during the reign of that prince. You
have an entailed estate, I suppose, and want to break the entail. You
agree with me that I am to claim the estate by a sham title, prior to
the first entailer; you confess in court that my title is good and
valid; the judges, upon this confession of the party, adjudge the estate
to me; upon which I immediately restore the estate to you, free and
unencumbered; and by this hocus-pocus the entail is broke.--Such was the
practice, pretty common before Henry the Seventh. All that the
parliament then did, was to regulate the method of proceeding in this
fine device, and to determine that the titles of minors, and femmes
couvert, were not to be injured by it. As to other people, who had an
interest to preserve an entail, and who had any good reason to plead in
their own favour, they would naturally appear for themselves. This
practice is called a fine, and a recovery: fine, from the Latin word
finis; because it forecloses all parties, and puts a final issue to
their claims and pretensions: a recovery, because a man thereby recovers
his estate, without the encumbrance of an entail.

"By the bye, I am told, that there are many of these practices still
continued in the law of England; which are as foolish, juvenile, and
ridiculous, as are to be met with in ---- I mean in ---- I would be
understood to mean in ---- any craft or profession of the world.[33:1]

"I am writing the History of England, from the accession of Henry the
Seventh, and am some years advanced in Henry the Eighth. I undertook
this work because I was tired of idleness, and found reading alone,
after I had often perused all good books, (which I think is soon done,)
somewhat a languid occupation. As to the approbation or esteem of those
blockheads who call themselves the public, and whom a bookseller, a
lord, a priest, or a party can guide, I do most heartily despise it. I
shall be able, I think, to make a tolerable smooth, well-told tale of
the history of England during that period; but I own I have not yet been
able to throw much new light into it. I begin the Reformation to-morrow.

"I find the public, with you, have rejected the Epigoniad, for the
present. They may do so if they please; but it has a great deal of
merit, much more than any one of them is capable of throwing into a

"I disapprove very much of Ferguson's scruples, with regard to entering
into Lord Bute's family, with the inspection of more than one boy; but I
hope Lord Bute will conform himself to his delicacy, at least if he
wants to have a man of sense, knowledge, taste, elegance, and morals,
for a tutor to his son.[34:1]

"I am obliged to you for your good intentions, with regard to my cousin;
but you must express yourself otherwise, than by saying that you will
concur with the rest of my friends in endeavouring to promote him; for
now that Oswald is out of court, whom have I besides to apply to? Dear
Sir, your most obedient humble servant."[34:2]


"_Edinburgh, 3d September, 1757._

"As to my opinions, you know I defend none of them positively; I only
propose my doubts where I am so unhappy as not to receive the same
conviction with the rest of mankind. It surprises me much to see any
body who pretends to be a man of letters, discover anger on that
account; since it is certain, by the experience of all ages, that
nothing contributes more to the progress of learning than such disputes
and novelties.

"Apropos to anger; I am positively assured, that Dr. Warburton wrote
that letter to himself, which you sent me; and indeed the style
discovers him sufficiently.[35:1] I should answer him; but he attacks so
small a corner of my building, that I can abandon it without drawing
great consequences after it. If he would come into the field and dispute
concerning the principal topics of my philosophy, I should probably
accept the challenge: at present nothing could tempt me to take the pen
in hand but anger, of which I feel myself incapable, even upon this

"I have finished the Index to the new collection of my pieces; this
Index cost me more trouble than I was aware of when I began it. I am
obliged to Mr. Strahan, for the uncommon pains he has taken in making it
correct. The Errata which I have given, consist mostly of small
alterations in the style, which I made myself. You know I always expect
half-a-dozen of copies on each new edition. I would wish that Mr.
Strahan would accept of one, as a proof of the sense which I have of his
care on this occasion. Please keep one by you, which I fancy I shall
have occasion to send abroad; and be so good as to send the other four,
with any other parcel you are sending hither. I am very assiduous in
writing a new volume of History, and am now pretty well advanced. I find
the whole will be comprised in one volume, though somewhat more bulky
than any of the former. The period of time is a great deal longer than
that of either of the former, but is not near so full of interesting
matter; and as the original historians are much fewer, there are not so
many circumstances transmitted to us. I am pretty certain, that I shall
be able to deliver to you the manuscript about a twelvemonth hence, and
shall certainly be in London myself for that purpose. You seemed
desirous that we should mutually enter into articles about this volume;
which I declined, till I should be so much advanced as to be sure of my
resolution of executing it, and could judge with some certainty of the
bulk. Now that I am satisfied in both these particulars, I am willing to
engage with you for the same price, viz. seven hundred pounds, payable
three months after the publication. If you approve of this proposal,
please write me a letter for that purpose; and I shall also, in return,
send you an obligatory letter. I think this justice is due to you, that
you may see I do not intend, on account of any success, to screw up the
price, or ask beyond what you have already allowed me, which, I own, was
very reasonable.

"Mr. Dalrymple has paid me twenty pounds and a crown. I can never meet
with Mr. Wright, though I call often at his shop. Mr. Balfour does not
name any day.

"I am glad of the approbation which Mr. Dalrymple's book meets with; I
think it really deserves it.[37:1]

"Nothing surprises me more than the ill usage which the Epigoniad has
received. Every body here likes it extremely. The plan and story is not
so much admired, as the poetry and versification; but your critics seem
willing to allow it no merit at all. I fancy it has not been enough
dispersed; and that your engaging on it, would extremely forward its
success. The whole edition is out. There were five hundred and fifty
disposed of here; two hundred sent to London. As the author is my very
good friend and acquaintance, I should be much pleased to bring you to
an understanding together. If the bad success on the first edition has
not discouraged you, I would engage him to make you proposals for that
purpose. He will correct all the blemishes remarked. I should not be
displeased that you read to Dr. Warburton, the paragraph in the first
page of my letter, with regard to himself. The hopes of getting an
answer, might probably engage him to give us something farther of the
same kind; which, at least, saves you the expense of advertising. I see
the doctor likes a literary squabble.

"I would be glad to know, how near you think you are to a new edition of
my History, and whether you intend a duodecimo edition of these
philosophical pieces. I am," &c.[38:1]


"_Edinburgh, 3d Sept. 1757._

"DEAR DOCTOR,--I am charmed to find you so punctual a correspondent. I
always knew you to be a good friend, though I was afraid that I had lost
you, and that you had joined that great multitude who abused me, and
reproached me with Paganism, and Jacobitism, and many other wretched
isms, of which I am only guilty of a part.

"I believe a man, when he is once an author, is an author for life; for
I am now very busily engaged in writing another volume of history, and
have crept backwards to the reign of Henry the Seventh. I wish indeed
that I had begun there; for, by that means, I should have been able,
without making any digression, by the plain course of the narration, to
have shown how absolute the authority was which the English kings then
possessed, and that the Stuarts did little or nothing more than continue
matters in the former track, which the people were determined no longer
to admit. By this means I should have escaped the reproach of the most
terrible ism of them all, that of Jacobitism. I shall certainly be in
London next summer; and probably to remain there during life; at least,
if I can settle myself to my mind, which I beg you to have an eye to. A
room in a sober, discreet family, who would not be averse to admit a
sober, discreet, virtuous, frugal, regular, quiet, good-natured man of a
bad character,--such a room, I say, would suit me extremely, especially
if I could take most of my meals in the family; and more especially
still, if it was not far distant from Dr. Clephane's. I shall then be
able, dear doctor, to spend £150 a-year, which is the sum upon which, I
remember, you formerly undertook me. But I would not have you reckon
upon _probabilities_, as you then called them, for I am resolved to
write no more. I shall read and correct, and chat and be idle, the rest
of my life.

"I must now make room for Sir Harry, who smiles at the sum at which I
have set up my rest. I am," &c.[39:1]

Among the officers of the Scottish Royal Regiment who served in the
expedition to Port L'Orient, and afterwards continued in terms of
familiar acquaintance with Hume, was captain, afterwards Colonel
Edmondstoune, of Newton in Perthshire. His letters, which were preserved
by Hume, and will occasionally be cited in these pages, show that he
was a man of wit and learning. Frequent allusions to him, under the name
of Guidelianus, have already occurred in Hume's letters to mutual
friends. The following, graceful and thoroughly amiable as it is, is
apparently the earliest of Hume's letters to him which has been


"_Edinburgh, 29th Sept. 1757._

"DEAR EDMONDSTOUNE,--I believe it is a rule in law, that any summons
prevents prescription; and in like manner, that the wakening a process
keeps one's rank in the lords' row.[40:1] It is with some such view that
I now write to you; not to send you a formal letter, which would require
a formal answer, and would therefore get no answer at all: but just to
take a shake of your hand, and ask you how you do, and speak a little
nonsense to you as usual, and then fall into s[ilence] without giving
myself the trouble of supporting the conversation any lon[ger]; and, in
a word, keep you from forgetting that you have some such friend in the
world as myself.

"But pray, why did you not write me as you promised and give me your
direction? Was you afraid I should write to you? You see I can find out
a method of directing to you without your information.

"Tell me about the Epigoniad. Was there ever so much fine versification
bestowed on so indifferent a story? Has it had any success in Ireland? I
fancy not; for the criticklings in Dublin depend on the criticklings in
London, who depend on the booksellers, who depend on their interest,
which depends on their printing a book themselves. This is the cause why
Wilkie's book is at present neglected, or damned, as they call it: but I
am much mistaken if it end so. Pray what says the primate of it? I hear
he has the generosity to support damned books till the resurrection, and
that he is one of the saints who pray them out of purgatory. I hope he
is an honest fellow and one of [us.] Captain Masterton told me, that he
was not quite of my opinion with regard to the 'Douglas,' and that he
blamed my dedicatory address to the author. But I persist still, and
will prove in spite of him and you, and of every man who [wears eit]her
black or scarlet, that it is an admirable tragedy, comparable [to the
exce]llent pieces of the good age of Louis Quatorze. The author is here
at present, and is refitting his 'Agis' for the theatre, which I hope
will have justice done it. _Il est le mieux renté de touts les beaux
esprits._ He has a pension from his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales,
as you have probably heard.

"I hear sometimes from the Doctor, who desires me to tell him something
about you. But I am no necromancer; only, as the ancients
said,--_prudentia est quædam divinatio_. I conjecture that you are
lounging, and reading, and playing at whist, and blaming yourself for
not writing letters, and yet persisting in the neglect of your

The following is the second letter in which we find Hume appreciating
the merits of his friend and rival, Robertson. There is no passage in
literary history, perhaps, more truly dignified, than the perfect
cordiality and sincere interchange of services between two men, whose
claims on the admiration of the world came in so close competition with
each other.


"_Edinburgh, 6th April, 1758._

"DEAR SIR,--I am very glad that Mr. Robertson is entering on terms with
you. It was indeed my advice to him, when he set out for London, that he
should think of no other body; and I ventured to assure him that he
would find your way of dealing frank, and open, and generous. He read me
part of his History, and I had an opportunity of reading another part of
it in manuscript above a twelvemonth ago. Upon the whole, my
expectations, both from what I saw, and from my knowledge of the author,
were very much raised, and I consider it as a work of uncommon merit. I
know that he has employed himself with great diligence and care in
collecting the facts: his style is lively and entertaining; and he
judges with temper and candour. He is a man generally known and esteemed
in this country: and we look upon him very deservedly as inferior to
nobody in capacity and learning. Hamilton and Balfour have offered him a
very unusual price; no less than five hundred pounds for one edition of
two thousand; but I own, that I should be better pleased to see him in
your hands. I only inform you of this fact, that you may see how high
the general expectations are of Mr. Robertson's performance. It will
have a quick sale in this country, from the character of the author; and
in England, from the merit of the work, as soon as it is known.

"Some part of his subject is common with mine; but as his work is a
History of Scotland, mine of England, we do not interfere; and it will
rather be an amusement to the reader to compare our method of treating
the same subject. I give you thanks, however, for your attention in
asking my opinion."[43:1]

The following is from another letter on the same subject.

"_Edinburgh, 20th June, 1758._

"I send enclosed a letter from Mr. Robertson. He wishes it were
practicable to send him more than one sheet every post. I am afraid, if
this be not done, our publications will interfere, which would be
disagreeable to you as well as to both of us.

"I have read a small pamphlet called 'Sketches,' which, from the style,
I take to be Dr. Armstrong's, though the public voice gives it to Allan
Ramsay.[43:2] I find the ingenious author, whoever he be, ridicules the
new method of spelling, as he calls it; but that method of spelling
_honor_, instead of _honour_, was Lord Bolingbroke's, Dr. Middleton's,
and Mr. Pope's; besides many other eminent writers'. However, to tell
truth, I hate to be any way particular in a trifle; and therefore, if
Mr. Strahan has not printed off above ten or twelve sheets, I should not
be displeased if you told him to follow the usual, that is, his own way
of spelling throughout; we shall make the other volumes conformable to
it: if he be advanced farther, there is no great matter."[43:3]

A letter to Elliot, after some farther recommendations of Hume's
nephew, young Edgar, to his attention, thus proceeds:--

HUME _to_ GILBERT ELLIOT _of Minto_.

"_Edinburgh, 11th May, 1758._

"I have the prospect of paying my respects to you this autumn, in
London. I am now come within sight of land, and am drawing near to a
period of that volume which I had undertaken. I find the subject
curious; and I believe that this volume will contain some novelty, as
well as greater accuracy of composition, than is employed by our
ordinary historians. I could add, greater than is requisite to please
the taste of the public,--at least if we may judge by the vast success
of Dr. Smollett's history. _Vanitas vanitatum, atque omnia vanitas_,
says the Preacher; the great object of us authors, and of you orators
and statesmen, is to gain applause; and you see at what rate it is to be
purchased. I fancy there is a future state, to give poets, historians,
and philosophers their due reward, and to distribute to them those
recompenses which are so strangely shared out in this life. It is of
little consequence that posterity does them justice, if they are for
ever to be ignorant of it, and are to remain in perpetual slumber in
their literary paradise. However, it is some comfort, that virtue is its
own reward, and that a man cannot employ himself in the cultivation of
letters without reaping a real present satisfaction from his industry. I
am, dear sir, your most obliged humble servant.

"P.S.--I am sorry to hear that the bill for the importation of Irish
cattle is rejected. Besides other arguments for it, I remember a strong
argument which was used in Charles II.'s time against the prohibition,
when it was first laid on: it was affirmed that the shipping employed in
that commerce was nearly equal to that which served for the carriage of
coal from Newcastle to London. It is not improbable that this argument
has, at present, escaped all the reasoners on that subject; and I
thought it a proper one to be suggested to a lord of the Admiralty. It
is to be found, if my memory do not deceive me, in Carte's Ormond, and
was employed by that duke."[45:1]

In the year 1759, Adam Ferguson was appointed professor of natural
philosophy in the university of Edinburgh. From the following
correspondence, it appears that Hume and others were desirous that Smith
should occupy a chair in Edinburgh, and, apparently, the same that was
obtained by Ferguson,[45:2] and that Ferguson should succeed Smith in
Glasgow. The singular terms on which the Edinburgh professorship appears
to have been disposed of, were, probably, not such as Smith would accede
to; and we afterwards find Hume conducting a negotiation for Ferguson


"_8th June, 1758._

"DEAR SMITH,--I sit down to write to you along with Johnstone; and as we
have been talking over the matter, it is probable we shall employ the
same arguments. As he is the younger lawyer, I leave him to open the
case, and, suppose that you have read his letter first. We are certain
that the settlement of you here, and of Ferguson at Glasgow, would be
perfectly easy, by Lord Milton's interest. The prospect of prevailing
with Abercromby is also very good; for the same statesman, by his
influence over the town council, could oblige him either to attend,
which he never would do, or dispose of the office for the money which he
gave for it. The only real difficulty is, then, with you. Pray, then,
consider that this is, perhaps, the only opportunity we shall ever have
of getting you to town. I dare swear that you think the difference of
place is worth paying something for; and yet it will really cost you
nothing. You made above £100 a-year, by your class, when in this place,
though you had not the character of professor. We cannot suppose that it
will be less than £130 after you are settled. John Stevenson; and it is
John Stevenson, makes near £150, as we were informed upon inquiry.[46:1]
Here is £100 a-year for eight years' purchase; which is a cheap
purchase, even considered as the way of a bargain. We flatter ourselves
that you rate our company at something; and the prospect of settling
Ferguson will be an additional inducement. For, though we think of
making him take up the project if you refuse it, yet it is uncertain
whether he will consent; and it is attended, in his case, with many very
obvious objections. I beseech you, therefore, to weigh all these motives
over again. The alteration of these circumstances merit that you should
put the matter again in deliberation. I had a letter from Miss Hepburn,
where she regrets very much that you are settled at Glasgow, and that we
had the chance of seeing you so seldom. I am," &c.

"P.S.--Lord Milton can, with his finger, stop the foul mouths of all the
roarers against heresy."[47:1]

HUME _to the_ REV. JOHN JARDINE.[47:2]

"REV. SIR,--I am informed, by the late Rev. Mr. John Home, that the
still Rev. Adam Ferguson's affair is so far on a good footing, that it
is agreed to refer the matter to the Justice Clerk, whether more shall
be paid to Mr. Abercromby than he himself gave for that professorship.
Now, as it is obvious that, in these kinds of references, where the
question is not of law and justice, the circumstances of the person are
to be considered, I beg of you to inform my Lord of the true state of
the case. Ferguson must borrow almost the whole sum which he pays for
this office. If any more, therefore, be asked than £1000, it would be
the most ruinous thing in the world for him to accept of the office. I
am even of opinion that if any other method of subsistence offered, it
were preferable to this scheme of paying the length of £1000; at least
such would be my sentiments, if the case were mine.

"If the Justice Clerk considers the matter aright, he will never agree
to so unreasonable a demand as that of paying more; and I hope you will
second these arguments with all your usual eloquence, by which you so
successfully confound the devices of Satan, and bring sinners to
repentance. I am, Rev. Sir, your most obsequious humble servant."[47:3]

Towards the end of the year 1758, but at what particular time is not
more minutely known, Hume went to London, and resided in Lisle Street,
Leicester Fields. His object probably was to superintend the printing
of the "History of the House of Tudor;" but he was able at the same time
to perform essential services to his friend Dr. Robertson, whose
"History of Scotland" was then going through the press in London. Of
Hume's letters to Dr. Robertson, several have been published, though
only in a fragmentary form, in Dugald Stewart's "Life of
Robertson."[48:1] The portions thus preserved, are naturally those which
have most relation to the person to whom they are addressed; but of the
letters themselves, which doubtless, like many others from the same
hand, contained some curious particulars of their author's habits and
passing thoughts, no trace has been found.[48:2] Several of these
letters, written while Robertson's work was at press, have relation to
minor historical questions, which have subsequently been settled. The
following extracts are given, from the parts which have least reference
to these details.



     I am afraid that you, as well as myself, have drawn Mary's
     character with too great softenings. She was, undoubtedly, a
     violent woman at all times. You will see in _Murden_ proofs of
     the utmost rancour against her innocent, good-natured, dutiful
     son. She certainly disinherited him. What think you of a
     conspiracy for kidnapping him, and delivering him a prisoner
     to the King of Spain, never to recover his liberty till he
     should turn Catholic? Tell Goodall, that if he can but give me
     up Queen Mary, I hope to satisfy him in every thing else; and
     he will have the pleasure of seeing John Knox and the
     Reformers made very ridiculous. . . .

     You have very good cause to be satisfied with the success of
     your History, as far as it can be judged of from a few weeks'
     publication. I have not heard of one who does not praise it
     warmly; and were I to enumerate all those whose suffrages I
     have either heard in its favour, or been told of, I should
     fill my letter with a list of names. Mallet told me that he
     was sure there was no Englishman capable of composing such a
     work. The town will have it that you was educated at Oxford,
     thinking it impossible for a mere untravelled Scotsman to
     produce such language. In short, you may depend on the success
     of your work, and that your name is known very much to your

     I am diverting myself with the notion how much you will profit
     by the applause of my enemies in Scotland. Had you and I been
     such fools as to have given way to jealousy, to have
     entertained animosity and malignity against each other, and to
     have rent all our acquaintance into parties, what a noble
     amusement we should have exhibited to the blockheads, which
     now they are likely to be disappointed of. All the people
     whose friendship or judgment either of us value, are friends
     to both, and will be pleased with the success of both, as we
     will be with that of each other. I declare to you I have not
     of a long time had a more sensible pleasure than the good
     reception of your History has given me within this fortnight.

     _25th January, 1759._

     I am nearly printed out, and shall be sure to send you a copy
     by the stage-coach, or some other conveyance. I beg of you to
     make remarks as you go along. It would have been much better
     had we communicated before printing, which was always my
     desire, and was most suitable to the friendship which always
     did, and I hope always will, subsist between us. I speak this
     chiefly on my own account. For though I had the perusal of
     your sheets before I printed, I was not able to derive
     sufficient benefits from them, or indeed to make any
     alteration by their assistance. There still remain, I fear,
     many errors, of which you could have convinced me, if we had
     canvassed the matter in conversation. Perhaps I might also
     have been sometimes no less fortunate with you. Particularly
     I could almost undertake to convince you, that the Earl of
     Murray's conduct with the Duke of Norfolk was no way
     dishonourable. . . .

     Dr. Blair tells me that Prince Edward is reading you, and is
     charmed. I hear the same of the Princess and Prince of Wales.
     But what will really give you pleasure, I lent my copy to
     Elliot during the holidays, who thinks it one of the finest
     performances he ever read; and though he expected much, he
     finds more. He remarked, however, (which is also my opinion,)
     that in the beginning, before your pen was sufficiently
     accustomed to the historic style, you employed too many
     digressions and reflections. This was also somewhat my own
     case, which I have corrected in my new edition.

     Millar was proposing to publish me about the middle of March;
     but I shall communicate to him your desire, even though I
     think it entirely groundless, as you will likewise think,
     after you have read my volume. He has very needlessly delayed
     your publication till the 1st of February, at the desire of
     the Edinburgh booksellers, who could no way be affected by a
     publication in London. I was exceedingly sorry not to be able
     to comply with your desire, when you expressed your wish that
     I should not write this period. I could not write downward.
     For when you find occasion, by new discoveries, to correct
     your opinion with regard to facts which passed in Queen
     Elizabeth's days, who, that has not the best opportunities of
     informing himself, could venture to relate any recent
     transactions? I must, therefore, have abandoned altogether
     this scheme of the English history, in which I had proceeded
     so far, if I had not acted as I did. You will see what light
     and force this History of the Tudors bestows on that of the
     Stuarts. Had I been prudent, I should have begun with it. I
     care not to boast, but I will venture to say, that I have now
     effectually stopped the mouths of all those villanous Whigs
     who railed at me.

     You are so kind as to ask me about my coming down. I can yet
     answer nothing. I have the strangest reluctance to change
     places. I lived several years happy with my brother at
     Ninewells; and had not his marriage changed a little the state
     of the family, I believe I should have lived and died there. I
     used every expedient to evade this journey to London; yet it
     is now uncertain whether I shall ever leave it. I have had
     some invitations, and some intentions, of taking a trip to
     Paris; but I believe it will be safer for me not to go
     thither, for I might probably settle there for life. No one
     was ever endowed with so great a portion of the _vis
     inertiae_. But as I live here very privately, and avoid as
     much as possible (and it is easily possible) all connexion
     with the great, I believe I should be better in Edinburgh. . . . .

     _London, 8th February, 1759._

     . . . . As to the "Age of Leo the Tenth," it was Warton
     himself who intended to write it; but he has not wrote it, and
     probably never will. If I understand your hint, I should
     conjecture, that you had some thoughts of taking up the
     subject. But how can you acquire knowledge of the great works
     of sculpture, architecture, and painting, by which that age
     was chiefly distinguished? Are you versed in all the anecdotes
     of the Italian literature? These questions I heard proposed in
     a company of literati, when I inquired concerning this design
     of Warton. They applied their remarks to that gentleman, who
     yet, they say, has travelled. I wish they do not, all of them,
     fall more fully on you. However, you must not be idle. May I
     venture to suggest to you the Ancient History, particularly
     that of Greece? I think Rollin's success might encourage you;
     nor need you be in the least intimidated by his merit. That
     author has no other merit but a certain facility and sweetness
     of narration; but has loaded his work with silly
     puerilities. . . . .

            *       *       *       *       *

     I forgot to tell you, that two days ago I was in the House of
     Commons, where an English gentleman came to me, and told me
     that he had lately sent to a grocer's shop for a pound of
     raisins, which he received wrapped up in a paper that he
     showed me. How would you have turned pale at the sight! It was
     a leaf of your History, and the very character of Queen
     Elizabeth, which you had laboured so finely, little thinking
     it would so soon come to so disgraceful an end. I happened a
     little after to see Millar, and told him the story;
     consulting him, to be sure, on the fate of his new boasted
     historian, of whom he was so fond. But the story proves more
     serious than I apprehended: for he told Strahan, who thence
     suspects villany among his apprentices and journeymen; and has
     sent me very earnestly to know the gentleman's name, that he
     may find out the grocer, and trace the matter to the bottom.
     In vain did I remonstrate that this was sooner or later the
     fate of all authors, _serius, ocyus, sors exitura_. He will
     not be satisfied; and begs me to keep my jokes for another
     occasion. But that I am resolved not to do; and, therefore,
     being repulsed by his passion and seriousness, I direct them
     against you.

     Next week I am published; and then I expect a constant
     comparison will be made between Dr. Robertson and Mr. Hume. I
     shall tell you in a few weeks which of these heroes is likely
     to prevail. Meanwhile, I can inform both of them for their
     comforts, that their combat is not likely to make half so much
     noise as that between Broughton and the one-eyed coachman.
     _Vanitas vanitatum, atque omnia vanitas._ I shall still
     except, however, the friendship and good opinion of worthy
     men. I am, &c.

     _London, 12th March, 1759._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I believe I mentioned to you a French gentleman,
     Monsieur Helvetius, whose book, "De l'Esprit," was making a
     great noise in Europe. He is a very fine genius, and has the
     character of a very worthy man. My name is mentioned several
     times in his work with marks of esteem; and he has made me an
     offer, if I would translate his work into English, to
     translate anew all my philosophical writings into French. He
     says that none of them are well done, except that on the
     "Natural History of Religion," by Monsieur Martigny,[52:1] a
     counsellor of state. He added, that the Abbé Prevôt,
     celebrated for the _Memoires d'un homme d'Honneur_, and other
     entertaining works,[52:2] was just now translating my
     History. This account of Helvetius engaged me to send him over
     the new editions of all my writings; and I have added your
     History, which, I told him, was here published with great
     applause; adding, that the subject was interesting, and the
     execution masterly; and that it was probable some man of
     letters at Paris may think that a translation of it would be
     agreeable to the public. I thought that this was the best
     method of executing your intentions. I could not expect that
     any Frenchman here would be equal to the work. There is one
     Carraccioli, who came to me and spoke something of translating
     my new volume of History; but as he also mentioned his
     intentions of translating Smollett, I gave him no
     encouragement to proceed. The same reason would make me averse
     to see you in his hands.

     But though I have given this character of your work to
     Monsieur Helvetius, I warn you, that this is the last time
     that, either to Frenchman or Englishman, I shall ever speak
     the least good of it. A plague take you! Here I sat near the
     historical summit of Parnassus, immediately under Dr.
     Smollett; and you have the impudence to squeeze yourself by
     me, and place yourself directly under his feet. Do you imagine
     that this can be agreeable to me? And must not I be guilty of
     great simplicity, to contribute, by my endeavours, to your
     thrusting me out of my place in Paris as well as at London?
     But I give you warning that you will find the matter somewhat
     difficult, at least in the former city. A friend of mine, who
     is there, writes home to his father, the strangest accounts on
     that head, which my modesty will not permit me to repeat, but
     which it allowed me very deliciously to swallow.

     I have got a good reason or pretence for excusing me to
     Monsieur Helvetius, with regard to the translating his work. A
     translation of it was previously advertised here.

     _---- 20th, 1759._

     I am afraid that my letters will be tedious and disagreeable
     to you by their uniformity. Nothing but continued and
     unvaried accounts of the same thing must in the end prove
     disgusting. Yet since you will hear me speak on this subject,
     I cannot help it, and must fatigue your ears as much as ours
     are in this place, by endless and repeated, and noisy praises
     of the "History of Scotland." Dr. Douglas told me yesterday,
     that he had seen the Bishop of Norwich, who had just bought
     the book, from the high commendations he heard of it from Mr.
     Legge. Mallet told me that Lord Mansfield is at a loss whether
     he shall most esteem the matter or the style. Elliot told me,
     that being in company with George Grenville, that gentleman
     was speaking loud in the same key. Our friend pretended
     ignorance; said he knew the author, and if he thought the book
     good for any thing, would send for it and read it. "Send for
     it, by all means," said Mr. Grenville; "you have not read a
     better book of a long time."--"But," said Elliot, "I suppose,
     although the matter may be tolerable, as the author was never
     on this side the Tweed till he wrote it, it must be very
     barbarous in the expression." "By no means," cried Mr.
     Grenville. "Had the author lived all his life in London, and
     in the best company, he could not have expressed himself with
     greater elegance and purity." Lord Lyttelton seems to think
     that, since the time of St. Paul, there scarce has been a
     better writer than Dr. Robertson. Mr. Walpole triumphs in the
     success of his favourites the Scotch, &c. &c. &c.

     . . . . . The great success of your book, beside its real
     merit, is forwarded by its prudence, and by the deference paid
     to established opinions. It gains also by its being your first
     performance, and by its surprising the public, who are not
     upon their guard against it. By reason of these two
     circumstances, justice is more readily done to its merit;
     which, however, is really so great, that I believe there is
     scarce another instance of a first performance being so near

     _London, 29th May, 1759._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I had a letter from Helvetius lately, wrote
     before your book arrived at Paris. He tells me, that the Abbé
     Prevôt, who had just finished the translation of my History,
     paroit très-disposé à traduire l'Histoire d'Ecosse que vient
     de faire Monsieur Robertson. If he be engaged by my
     persuasion, I shall have the satisfaction of doing you a real
     credit and pleasure; for he is one of the best pens in
     Paris.[55:1] . . . . . .

     Our friend Smith[55:2] is very successful here, and
     Gerard[55:3] is very well received. The Epigoniad I cannot so
     much promise for, though I have done all in my power to
     forward it, particularly by writing a letter to _The Critical
     Review_, which you may peruse. I find, however, some good
     judges profess a great esteem for it: but _habent et sua fata
     libelli_: however, if you want a little flattery to the
     author, (which I own is very refreshing to an author) you may
     tell him that Lord Chesterfield said to me he was a great
     poet. I imagine that Wilkie will be very much elevated by
     praise from an English Earl, and a knight of the Garter, and
     an ambassador, and a secretary of state, and a man of so great
     reputation. For I observe that the greatest rustics are
     commonly most affected with such circumstances.

     Ferguson's book[55:4] has a great deal of genius and fine
     writing, and will appear in time. . . . .

In 1759, Adam Smith published his "Theory of Moral Sentiments." The
following letters embody Hume's appreciation of that work.


     _London, April 12, 1759._

     DEAR SIR,--I give you thanks for the agreeable present of your
     Theory. Wedderburn and I made presents of our copies to such
     of our acquaintances as we thought good judges, and proper to
     spread the reputation of the book. I sent one to the Duke of
     Argyle, to Lord Lyttelton, Horace Walpole, Soame Jenyns, and
     Burke an Irish gentleman, who wrote lately a very pretty
     Treatise on the Sublime. Millar desired my permission to send
     one in your name to Dr. Warburton.

     I have delayed writing to you, till I could tell you something
     of the success of the book, and could prognosticate, with some
     probability, whether it should be finally damned to oblivion,
     or should be registered in the temple of immortality. Though
     it has been published only a few weeks, I think there appear
     already such strong symptoms, that I can almost venture to
     foretell its fate. It is, in short, this----

     But I have been interrupted in my letter by a foolish
     impertinent visit of one who has lately come from Scotland. He
     tells me that the University of Glasgow intend to declare
     Rouet's office vacant, upon his going abroad with Lord Hope. I
     question not but you will have our friend Ferguson in your
     eye, in case another project for procuring him a place in the
     University of Edinburgh should fail. Ferguson has very much
     polished and improved his Treatise on Refinement;[56:1] and
     with some amendments it will make an admirable book, and
     discovers an elegant and a singular genius. The Epigoniad, I
     hope, will do; but it is somewhat up-hill work. As I doubt not
     but you consult the Reviews sometimes at present, you will see
     in _The Critical Review_ a letter upon that poem; and I desire
     you to employ your conjectures in finding out the author. Let
     me see a sample of your skill in knowing hands by your
     guessing at the person.[56:2]

     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. But to return
     to your book, and its success in this town, I must tell

     A plague of interruptions! I ordered myself to be denied; and
     yet here is one that has broke in upon me again. He is a man
     of letters, and we have had a good deal of literary
     conversation. You told me, that you was curious of literary
     anecdotes, and therefore I shall inform you of a few that
     have come to my knowledge. I believe I have mentioned to you
     already, Helvetius's book "De l'Esprit." It is worth your
     reading, not for its philosophy, which I do not highly value,
     but for its agreeable composition. I had a letter from him a
     few days ago, wherein he tells me that my name was much
     oftener in the manuscript, but that the censor of books at
     Paris obliged him to strike it out.

     Voltaire has lately published a small work called _Candide,
     ou, l'Optimisme_. I shall give you a detail of it. But what is
     all this to my book, say you? My dear Mr. Smith, have
     patience: compose yourself to tranquillity; show yourself a
     philosopher in practice as well as profession: think on the
     emptiness, and rashness, and futility of the common judgments
     of men; how little they are regulated by reason in any
     subject, much more in philosophical subjects, which so far
     exceed the comprehension of the vulgar.

                      ----Non si quid turbida Roma,
          Elevet, accedas: examenve improbum in illâ
          Castiges trutinâ: nec te quaesiveris extra.

     A wise man's kingdom is his own breast; or, if he ever looks
     farther, it will only be to the judgment of a select few, who
     are free from prejudices, and capable of examining his work.
     Nothing, indeed, can be a stronger presumption of falsehood
     than the approbation of the multitude; and Phocion, you know,
     always suspected himself of some blunder, when he was attended
     with the applauses of the populace.

     Supposing, therefore, that you have duly prepared yourself for
     the worst by all these reflections, I proceed to tell you the
     melancholy news, that your book has been very unfortunate; for
     the public seem disposed to applaud it extremely. It was
     looked for by the foolish people with some impatience; and the
     mob of literati are beginning already to be very loud in its
     praises. Three bishops called yesterday at Millar's shop in
     order to buy copies, and to ask questions about the author.
     The Bishop of Peterborough said, he had passed the evening in
     a company where he heard it extolled above all books in the
     world. The Duke of Argyle is more decisive than he used to be
     in its favour. I suppose he either considers it as an exotic,
     or thinks the author will be serviceable to him in the
     Glasgow elections. Lord Lyttelton says that Robertson, and
     Smith, and Bower,[58:1] are the glories of English literature.
     Oswald protests he does not know whether he has reaped more
     instruction or entertainment from it. But you may easily judge
     what reliance can be put on his judgment, who has been engaged
     all his life in public business, and who never sees any faults
     in his friends. Millar exults and brags that two-thirds of the
     edition are already sold, and that he is now sure of success.
     You see what a son of the earth that is, to value books only
     by the profit they bring him. In that view, I believe it may
     prove a very good book.

     Charles Townsend, who passes for the cleverest fellow in
     England, is so taken with the performance, that he said to
     Oswald he would put the Duke of Buccleuch under the author's
     care, and would make it worth his while to accept of that
     charge. As soon as I heard this, I called on him twice, with a
     view of talking with him about the matter, and of convincing
     him of the propriety of sending that young nobleman to
     Glasgow: for I could not hope, that he could offer you any
     terms which would tempt you to renounce your professorship;
     but I missed him. Mr. Townsend passes for being a little
     uncertain in his resolutions; so perhaps you need not build
     much on his sally.

     In recompense for so many mortifying things, which nothing but
     truth could have extorted from me, and which I could easily
     have multiplied to a greater number, I doubt not but you are
     so good a Christian as to return good for evil; and to flatter
     my vanity by telling me, that all the godly in Scotland abuse
     me for my account of John Knox and the Reformation. I suppose
     you are glad to see my paper end, and that I am obliged to
     conclude with--Your humble servant.[58:2]


     _London, 28th July, 1759._

     DEAR SIR,--Your friend, Mr. Wilson,[59:1] called on me two
     three days ago when I was abroad, and he left your letter. I
     did not see him till to-day. He seems a very modest, sensible,
     ingenious man. Before I saw him, I spoke to Mr. A. Millar
     about him, and found him very much disposed to serve him. I
     proposed particularly to Mr. Millar, that it was worthy of so
     eminent a bookseller as he, to make a complete elegant set of
     the classics, which might set up his name equal to the
     Alduses, Stevenses, or Elzevirs; and that Mr. Wilson was the
     properest person in the world to assist him in such a project.
     He confessed to me that he had sometimes thought of it; but
     that his great difficulty was to find a man of letters, who
     could correct the press. I mentioned the matter to Wilson, who
     said he had a man of letters in his eye: one Lyon, a nonjuring
     clergyman at Glasgow. He is probably known to you, or at least
     may be so; I would desire your opinion of him.

     Mr. Wilson told me of his machines, which seem very ingenious,
     and deserve much encouragement. I shall soon see them.

     I am very well acquainted with Bourke, who was much taken with
     your book. He got your direction from me, with a view of
     writing to you, and thanking you for your present; for I made
     it pass in your name. I wonder he has not done it: he is now
     in Ireland. I am not acquainted with Jenyns; but he spoke very
     highly of the book to Oswald, who is his brother in the board
     of trade. Millar showed me, a few days ago, a letter from Lord
     Fitzmaurice; where he tells him, that he has carried over a
     few copies to the Hague, for presents. Mr. York was very much
     taken with it, as well as several others who had read it.

     I am told that you are preparing a new edition, and propose to
     make some additions and alterations, in order to obviate
     objections. I shall use the freedom to propose one; which, if
     it appears to be of any weight, you may have in your eye. I
     wish you had more particularly and fully proved that all kinds
     of sympathy are necessarily agreeable. This is the hinge of
     your system, and yet you only mention the matter cursorily, in
     p. 20. Now, it would appear that there is a disagreeable
     sympathy, as well as an agreeable. And, indeed, as the
     sympathetic passion is a reflex image of the principal, it
     must partake of its qualities, and be painful where that is
     so. Indeed, _when we converse with a man with whom we can
     entirely sympathize_, that is, where there is a warm and
     intimate friendship, the cordial openness of such a commerce
     overpowers the pain of a disagreeable sympathy, and renders
     the whole movement agreeable. But, in ordinary cases, this
     cannot have place. An ill-humoured fellow; a man tired and
     disgusted with every thing, always _ennuié_, sickly,
     complaining, embarrassed; such a one throws an evident damp on
     company, which I suppose would be accounted for by sympathy,
     and yet is disagreeable.

     It is always thought a difficult problem to account for the
     pleasure received from the tears, and grief, and sympathy of
     tragedy, which would not be the case if all sympathy was
     agreeable. An hospital would be a more entertaining place than
     a ball. I am afraid that, in p. 99, and 111, this proposition
     has escaped you, or, rather, is interwoven with your
     reasonings in that place. You say expressly, "It is painful to
     go along with grief, and we always enter into it with
     reluctance." It will probably be requisite for you to modify
     or explain this sentiment, and reconcile it to your system.

     My dear Mr. Smith, you must not be so much engrossed with your
     own book as never to mention mine. The Whigs, I am told, are
     anew in a rage against me, though they know not how to vent
     themselves; for they are constrained to allow all my facts.
     You have, probably, seen Hurd's abuse of me. He is of the
     Warburtonian school; and, consequently, very insolent and very
     scurrilous; but I shall never reply a word to him. If my past
     writings do not sufficiently prove me to be no Jacobite, ten
     volumes in folio never would.

     I signed, yesterday, an agreement with Mr. Millar; where I
     mention that I proposed to write the History of England, from
     the beginning till the accession of Henry VII.; and he engages
     to give me £1400 for the copy. This is the first previous
     agreement ever I made with a bookseller.[61:1] I shall execute
     this work at leisure, without fatiguing myself by such ardent
     application as I have hitherto employed. It is chiefly as a
     resource against idleness that I shall undertake this work;
     for, as to money, I have enough; and as to reputation, what I
     have wrote already will be sufficient, if it be good; if not,
     it is not likely I shall now write better. I found it
     impracticable (at least fancied so) to write the History since
     the Revolution. I am in doubt whether I shall stay here and
     execute the work; or return to Scotland, and only come up here
     to consult the manuscripts. I have several inducements on both
     sides. Scotland suits my fortune best, and is the seat of my
     principal friendships; but it is too narrow a place for me;
     and it mortifies me that I sometimes hurt my friends. Pray
     write me your judgment soon. Are the bigots much in arms on
     account of this last volume? Robertson's book has great merit;
     but it was visible that he profited here by the animosity
     against me. I suppose the case was the same with you. I am,
     dear Smith, yours sincerely.[61:2]

In 1758 and 1759, much alarm was caused throughout Britain by a
threatened invasion from France. Hume seems to have "improved" this
state of matters, in the following letters, imparting wild and
exaggerated news. His writing in such a tone, at such a juncture, is an
example of his entertaining the same contempt for panics as for popular
feeling in other forms. There is no address on the first of the letters.
The second would reach its destination nearly at the same time with the
account of Rodney's destruction of the flat-bottomed boats intended for
the invasion.

"_15th May, [1759.]_

"DEAR SIR,--If you pass by Edinburgh, please bring me two pounds of
rapee, such as Peggy Elliot uses to take. You will get it at Gillespy's
near the Cross.

"Mrs. Mallet has her compliments to you, and begs you to procure her a
collection of Scotch pebbles. I assured her that I should inform you of
her desire, and also that you would not fail to execute it.

"We hear that you are to be expelled the university with disgrace. Even
the most partial of your friends here are obliged to allow that you
deserve it.

"We expect over forty thousand French, with the first fair wind. They
will probably settle the ministry; for, at present, the Pitts and the
Legges, and the Grenvilles, are all going by the ears.

"We live in hopes of seeing you soon. My compliments to Smith, whose
book is in a very good way.

"Dr. Warburton presents his compliments to you. Yours sincerely,"

HUME _to_ MR. RUAT.[62:2]

"_6th July [1739.]_

"DEAR RUAT,--I am very much obliged to you for the desire you express to
Miss Elliot of hearing from me; and particularly your wishing to be
informed, by me, of any news that pass. As soon as I knew, certainly,
how to direct to you, I have sat down to write; and, though the
occurrences are no way extraordinary which I can communicate, they
shall all be strictly, and literally, and certainly true; and you may
venture to tell them as such to all the idle people that frequent

"This morning, there arrived an express from Admiral Hawke's fleet,
giving an account that the French fleet had sallied out of Brest, with
twenty-four ships of the line, and had engaged the English fleet, in a
desperate and bloody battle, from morning to night, which ended in a
total victory on our side. There are seven of the French ships sunk and
burnt, and four taken. There are two of our capital ships sunk, and the
admiral's ship was blown up, with its whole company, not one of whom is
saved. Prince Edward, in the Phœnix, behaved to admiration; but,
towards the end of the engagement, an unlucky cannon ball carried away
both his legs, by which it is feared we shall loose that promising young
prince. Our friend, poor Dr. Blair, would not go below deck, but stood
by the prince's side during the whole engagement, till his head was
carried off by a double-headed shot.

"About three hours after the arrival of this express, there arrived
another from the west, giving an account of the landing of the French in
Torbay, to the number of twenty thousand foot, and five thousand horse.
They believe already, in London, that they are sixty thousand strong.
The panic is inconceivable. The people in the country are hurrying up to
town; those in the town are hurrying down to the country. Nobody thinks
of resistance. Every one believes the French, Popery, and the Pretender,
to be at their heels.

"What adds to our general confusion is, the discovery of treachery in
our councils. Mr. Pitt is sent to the Tower, for holding a secret
correspondence with the French:--his ciphers and letters are taken. Mr.
Wood, our friend, (if he can be said to deserve that name,) is thrown
into a dungeon; and there will be certain proofs to convict him of that

"In order to prepare the way for this blow, the perfidious French had
employed somebody to blow up the magazine in the Tower. I heard the
explosion this morning about five o'clock. All London is covered with
rubbish, and stones and brick, and broken arms. There fell into our back
court a shattered musket, and the bloody leg of a man. I thought the day
of judgment was come when I first heard the explosion, and began
seriously to think of my sins.

"These events will, all of them, make a figure in future historians; and
it is happy for these gentlemen, who are, or ought to be, very
scrupulous with regard to matters of fact, that they can so well
reconcile the true and the marvellous.

"As to private news, there is little stirring; only Dr. Warburton turned
Mahometan, and was circumcised last week. They say he is to write a
book, in order to prove the divine legation of Mahomet; and it is not
doubted but he will succeed as well as in proving that of Moses. I saw
him yesterday in the Mall with his turban; which really becomes him very

"Poor Andrew Millar is declared bankrupt; his debts amount to above
£40,000, and it is said his creditors will not get above three shillings
in the pound. All the world allow him to have been diligent and
industrious; but his misfortunes are ascribed to the extravagance of his
wife, a very ordinary case in this city.

"Miss ----, yesterday morning declared her marriage with Dr. Armstrong;
but we were surprised in the afternoon to find Mr. Short the optician,
come in and challenge her for his wife. It seems she has been married
privately for some time to both of them. Her sister has been much more
prudent, whom we find to have confined herself entirely to gallantry,
and to have privately entertained a correspondence with three gallants.
I am, dear Ruat, with great truth, your most sincere friend and humble

About the commencement of November, Hume returned to Scotland, for he
writes to Millar on 18th December that he has been six weeks in
Edinburgh. He states, that he is correcting his "History of the
Stuarts;" and says, "I fancy that I shall be able to put my account of
that period of English history beyond controversy. As soon as this task
is finished, I undertake the ancient English history. I find the
Advocates' Library very well provided with books, in this period: but
before I finish, I shall pass a considerable time in London, to peruse
the manuscripts in the Museum."[65:2]

On his return he left behind him, to be published in London, the two
volumes of his "History of England, under the House of Tudor," of which
he says in his "own life,"--"The clamour against this performance was
almost equal to that against the History of the two first Stuarts. The
reign of Elizabeth was particularly obnoxious."

He had now published the whole of that department of his History, from
which his opinions on the later progress of the British constitution can
be derived; and the epoch of this publication calls for some notice of
the manner in which subsequent inquirers have found that he performed
his task.[65:3] He was not like such writers as Clarendon and Brady,
the interested or prejudiced advocate of the crown against the people;
and we must look for the causes of his erroneous views in what he did
not know, or did not believe, rather than in what he wilfully
misrepresented. In his "Essay on Commerce," published in 1752, we find
him thus foreshadowing the principle on which he was to treat the
History of Britain:--"Lord Bacon, accounting for the great advantages
obtained by the English in their wars with France, ascribes them chiefly
to the superior ease and plenty of the common people among the former;
_yet the government of the two kingdoms was at that time pretty much
alike_." This assertion has been satisfactorily proved to be erroneous.
The spirit of credulity in historical inquiry makes out every thing
ancient to be better and greater than its modern representative. The
spirit of scepticism questions whatever is said in favour of antiquity.
The sceptic cannot throw doubt on the existing wonders of modern times.
If one nation is far beyond another in arts, arms, civilization, or
wealth, the facts cannot be denied; but when he looks back into past
ages, the pliability of the evidence admits the influence of the
levelling principle of scepticism, the tendency of which is to make all
mankind seem much alike; and Hume, who would not have ventured to say
that in his own day the constitutions of France and England were very
much alike, considered it but a piece of proper caution to discard as
fallacious the evidence that there was any great difference between them
in former times.

Unquestionably the doubting or inquiring spirit is a valuable quality in
a historian; for the narratives of human affairs are full of
falsehoods, which it is the philosophical historian's function to
discard. But the sifting will not be satisfactory, if the materials
subjected to it have not been largely and laboriously collected; and the
charge against Hume is, that he applied it to imperfect data. Where the
data are insufficient, credulity and scepticism are merely the
counterparts of each other, and produce erroneous results nearly alike.
Those who proclaimed Bruce, the Abyssinian traveller, to be a liar, for
statements which have now been authenticated, believed in the account
given of a fictitious people, in an impudent forgery, called
Psalmanazer's Formosa, which would not now impose for a moment on any
educated person. Our enlarged knowledge of the matters to be subjected
to sceptical analysis, has now, in both cases, brought us to the right

An inquirer into the structure of the earth, who should know nothing of
its crust but the sandy plains of Germany, would, were he of a sceptical
spirit, discredit all those geological wonders which the most sceptical
of scientific men now believe.[68:1] In relation to some parts of the
British constitution, Hume was in the position of such an investigator.
His early prejudice against the study of the law, prevented him from
being fully acquainted with a science, the knowledge of which is
essential to any man who would clearly develop the progress of our
constitution,--the common law of England. He did not understand its
stubborn immovable nature, its solid impregnable masonry, against which
the ambitious violence of monarchs, and the fury of popular tumults
raged in vain. From the day when Gascoigne committed Henry V. to prison,
to that when surly tyrannical old Sir Edward Coke argued face to face
with King James against the interference of the prerogative with the
independent authority of his court, those who were the honest
administrators of the common law held that they were no man's servants,
and no man's masters, but the sworn expounders of a settled rule of
action, which no power within the realm could sway. It might be full of
strange conceits, of passages hard to determine, of unreasonable and
often cruel rules: but what this oracle bade them, that were they bound
to do, be the consequences what they might.

To a mere onlooker, this system appeared to be clumsy and barbarous, and
unendowed with that philosophical symmetry which characterized the rival
system of the civil law. It required that one should have a full
knowledge of its massive structure, and passive power of resistance, to
appreciate its value in a country where king, nobles, and common people,
were alike characterized by party spirit, courage, and restless
activity. A philosopher, indulging in a distant contemplation, would at
once prefer the nice philosophical adaptation to the wants of a state,
and the fine logical structure, with which a despotic power, able to
manipulate the laws at its own will, had endowed the system of
Justinian; and if he found that the administrators of the rude common
law waged a determined war against this philosophical code, his
contempt for the one, and his admiration of the other, would be likely
to be increased. But there is no doubt that the advocates of the common
law were right in resisting the introduction of the pliant principles of
the civilians. If it be true that the common law, and the constitution
which grew along with it, embodied no philosophical principle of
liberty, it is also true that they embodied no philosophical principle
of despotism, such as that which was ready made in the Justinian
legislation. The theories of passive obedience, and the sacredness of
the monarchical character, were strangers to it; and these doctrines, so
attractive to those who profit by them, were introduced by the
civilians. In presence of the unbending operation of the common law, and
dependent on a surly suspicious parliament, the sovereign might yet, if
he were a man of talent and courage, be very powerful and very
tyrannical: but he had none of those attributes through which the
ingenuity of the civilians had divested him of all the moral failings,
so far as they were accompanied with the moral responsibilities of a
human being. He was often a "most dread sovereign:" but it was for these
novel doctrines, the fruit of the reading of the clergy and the
ecclesiastical lawyers, to invest him with the attributes of "sacred

The supporters of the common law, and of the old popular rights, strove
to keep the law above the king. Those who drew their constitutional
principles from the civilians and canonists, desired to place the king
above the law. They accomplished their object in name, but not in fact,
by incorporating with the constitutional law those fictions, that the
king never dies, is not responsible, does not require to appear by his
attorney, suffers no laches, &c. But in reality the old principles which
made the king merely the head of a community, all of whom were subjected
to the law, substantially held its ground; for, in so far as the monarch
was exempted from responsibilities, in the same proportion was he
deprived of any powers which he could exercise otherwise than through a
responsible minister.

There was in Hume a like want of appreciation of the value of
parliamentary forms and privileges, and a corresponding indifference
about their violation. He had not sufficiently studied the Journals of
the Commons, and did not trace the rise and development of that system
of procedure which has protected our own liberties, and afforded a model
for the legislative assemblies of all free nations.[71:1] It was in the
Long Parliament, and under the eye of the able men of business who then
held the lead, that this noble system was brought to perfection; but the
reader whose historical information is derived solely from Hume, knows
little of its value. Thus unconscious of the practical importance of the
rights and privileges of the English people, he did not sympathize with
those who expected alarming consequences from their infringement. He
involved those who put the protection of their legal rights to the issue
of the sword, in the same contemptuous estimate with the fanatics whom
he charged with convulsing the state about religious differences of no
essential moment. In either case the event at issue was of so little
importance in his estimation, that he had small charity for those who
made it a vitally important concern.[72:1] But in all these matters we
look back on Hume with the light of later times. To appreciate his
services to constitutional history, we must, while we keep in view the
successful labours of later inquirers, remember how little had been done
by his predecessors. The old chroniclers, such as Hall and Holingshed,
scarcely ever deign to descend from the pride, pomp, and circumstance of
glorious war, to mention constitutional matters; and perhaps, in an
impartial estimate, it will be admitted that in the gradual progress
towards a better appreciation of what is truly valuable in British
history, no one writer has taken so great a stride as Hume.


[3:1] MS. R.S.E.

[5:1] MS. R.S.E.

[5:2] In a small book, called "Letters on Mr. Hume's History of Great
Britain," Edinburgh, 1756, known to have been written by Daniel
Macqueen, D.D., the chief object is to prove that Hume has not treated
the Roman Catholic religion with sufficient severity, and to supply this
defect in his History. In a few remarks at the end, however, Dr.
Macqueen had the merit of suggesting many of the constitutional
criticisms on Hume, which were afterwards followed out.

[6:1] A sketch of Hume's character and habits, in _The Edinburgh
Magazine_ for 1802, professing to be by one who was personally
acquainted with him, is discredited, by its containing a statement that
he had joined the Roman Catholic Church when he was in France. The
reader will remember that, almost from the moment of his setting foot on
foreign soil, he censures the Roman Catholics, in his letters to his
friends; and nothing could be mentioned more at variance with a known
character, than this writer's assertion, which seems to rest on some
imaginative parallel between the personal history of Hume and that of
Gibbon. As the reader may desire to read the sketch thus condemned, and
to judge for himself of its applicability to Hume, it is here given.


"_By one who personally knew him._

     "David Hume was a man of parts, natural and acquired, far
     superior to most of mankind; of a benevolent heart, a
     friendly, kind disposition, and a real affection for all his
     connexions. No man is without his failings; and his great
     views of being singular, and a vanity to show himself superior
     to most people, led him to advance many axioms that were
     dissonant to the opinions of others, and led him into
     sceptical doctrines only to show how minute and puzzling they
     were to other folk; in so far, that I have often seen him (in
     various companies, according as he saw some enthusiastic
     person there) combat either their religious or political
     principles; nay, after he had struck them dumb, take up the
     argument on their side with equal good humour, wit, and
     jocoseness, all to show his pre-eminency. For the justness of
     these observations, I appeal to his life, wrote by himself,
     and published by his friend and admirer, Adam Smith, where you
     see he was so chagrined at no notice of, or answer being made
     to, his Essays, and was so disappointed, that he proposed to
     retire to Saumure, or some other part of France, to be lost to
     the unheeding world; and, in short, be a perfect hermit. But,
     on being answered by a bishop, on some of his dogmas, and
     other favourable circumstances flattering him that he would at
     last be conspicuous, he gave up the project, and was first a
     companion, for some time, to the Marquis of Annandale; then
     librarian to the Advocates here; after that, secretary to
     General Sinclair at Turin (who was, under pretence of an
     ambassador to his Sardinian Majesty, a spy, as his conduct was
     dubious to the allies, against Louis XV.;) afterwards, by
     General Conway's interest, secretary to Lord Hertford at
     Paris; left there chargé d'affairs; and, finally, one of the
     under secretaries of state for about half a year. After which
     he settled in Edinburgh for life, and made all his friends and
     connexions happy by the possession of so worthy a man.--Thus
     far I have given my real sentiments of the man, and can only
     now regret that he was so weak as to write his life in the
     style he did.

     "I must add, that he was a cheerful and most agreeable
     companion, well informed, and who accommodated himself to the
     company; and, for all his abstruse learning, was never happier
     than in a select company of ladies and friends, and fond to
     engage in a party at whist, of which game he was a complete
     adept, and, of consequence, successful. He never played deep;
     never above a shilling, one, two, or three; and I have known
     him come into Edinburgh for some weeks, pay his residence
     there, and get a recruit of clothes and necessaries out of his
     gains; nay, sometimes to have a pound or two to give in
     assistance to a necessitous relation; and carry back to his
     brother's house, at Ninewells, the cash he brought with him
     from that place, in order to defray the expenses of his visit
     to the metropolis. General Scott of Balcomie, who was a good
     judge in these matters, was so convinced of his superior skill
     at whist, that I was assured he offered David his purse to
     gamble at London; and that he would give him £1000 a-year if
     he would communicate his winnings. This he refused with
     disdain, saying, he played for his amusement; and though
     General Scott would give him ten times more per annum, he
     would be accessary to no such fraudulent doings.

     "It was very remarkable, that, though from study and reading
     the purest authors in the English language he learnt to write
     in a correct and elegant style, yet, in conversing, he spoke
     with the tone, idiom, and vulgar voice of the commonalty in
     the Merse or Berwickshire. This, I presume, arose from his
     having been greatly, in his early years, about his brother's
     house, conversing with servants, &c.; and having no ear
     (though a foreign or even a dead language, which he acquired
     by grammar and rules, he wrote pointedly,) it was impossible
     for him to attain, in speaking, any other dialect of the Scots
     than that he caught in his childhood: besides, he had but a
     creeping voice, rather effeminate than manly.

     "I could give you several anecdotes with regard to him; I
     shall content myself with one. One day when he was advancing
     some irreligious maxims in a sarcastical style, I said to him,
     'L----, David, ye are much altered in your sentiments since
     you professed yourself a sincere Roman Catholic, confessed
     yourself to the priests, declared yourself a sincere penitent,
     got absolution, and even extreme unction.' He was much
     offended at this, as he believed none knew, in this country,
     that all this had happened to him at Nice. He answered in a
     huff, 'I was in a high fever then, and did not know what I
     said, or they did with me.' I replied, 'You put me in mind of
     Patie Birnie's answer to the minister of Kinghorn, who,
     stumbling o'er him in a passage dead drunk, said, 'Ah! Patie,
     is this your promise that you would never be fu' again, if the
     Lord spared you?'--'Wow,' quo' Pate, 'I wonder to hear ane of
     your honour's sense mind what ony body says in a red raving
     fever; I kent naithing of what was ga'en.' David and I, for
     years after, were tolerable good friends, but never so cordial
     as before. G. N." [These initials are supposed to be those of
     George Nichol, M. P.]

[9:1] Hume was inclined to admire the polity of the Church of England,
on grounds peculiar to himself. The tendency of his remarks on the
wealth and dignity of that establishment, is to hold that heaping riches
and honours on a clergy, by occupying their minds in pomps and vanities,
diverts a certain portion of the spirit of priestcraft from its natural
propensity to subdue or annoy the rest of the community, and is on the
whole a judicious investment of a considerable proportion of the wealth
and honours which may happen to be at the command of a state. Adam
Smith's opinion, on the other hand, was, that the people are best
protected against the influence of priestcraft, by allowing no sect to
have a superiority over others, and by leaving the clergy of different
denominations to expend their zeal in fighting with each other.

[11:1] Original at Kilravock.

[13:1] Scroll in Hume's handwriting, Minto MSS.

[13:2] Four Dissertations: The Natural History of Religion; Of the
Passions; Of Tragedy; Of the Standard of Taste. 8vo, A. Millar. Hume, in
his "own life," says they were published in the interval between the
first and second volumes of his History.

[14:1] In a copy which I possess, after p. 200, the end of the third
dissertation, there are four strips of paper, the remains of half a
sheet cut away. This occurs in signature K, and signature L begins with
the fourth dissertation.

[14:2] Vol. i. p. 246.

[15:1] A simple example tells at once the whole philosophy of this view.
In an unhealthy community, a workman dies after he has been ten years
married, and leaves a widow and children dependant on the public. In a
healthy community, he lives for twenty years after his marriage, and
leaves children grown up and able to provide for themselves.

In general, the aim of all remarks on Hume's writings in the present
work is expository, not controversial. The reader desirous of having
every light thrown on Hume's opinions, will care nothing about mine; but
where, as in the present case, he seems to have gone astray from his own
leading principles, it appeared to be right to notice the aberration.

[16:1] This letter is not dated.

[18:1] MS. R.S.E.

[18:2] He persisted in spelling the poet's name thus.

[19:1] MS. Advocates' Library. A good example of the same thing being
done in two ways, is afforded by comparing Hume's resignation with that
of his venerable predecessor, Ruddiman. The latter is a document of
considerable length, and ends in the following strain:--"But though I
can be no longer serviceable to the honourable Faculty in that my former
capacity, yet there is one duty still in my power, and which can never
be dispensed with; and that is, that from the deep and most grateful
sense which I shall always retain of your great and manifold favours, I
should earnestly pray to Almighty God for the honour, prosperity, and
flourishing state of your most learned and useful society; that ye may
continue a great ornament to those high courts, of which you are
members; and that in them, and every where else, ye may shine forth with
that splendour and dignity, that unblemished character for justice and
probity, and the faithful discharge of all those duties your honourable
profession has laid upon you, for which you are so remarkable; and which
the superior name and rank you bear in the world, give your country just
ground to expect of you.

"This is the last best testimony and assurance I can give, of my most
sincere gratitude, warm affection, and high regard to the honourable
Faculty; and that I am, now, and always, my much honoured patrons and
masters, your most obliged, most humble, and most dutiful servant,--

     Dum memor ipse mei, dum spiritus hos regit artus

                                              "T. RUDDIMAN."

[20:1] These two distichs are taken from separate parts of the fourth
book of Ovid's "Tristia." The first is accurate, but the second is
evidently a variation of the following:

     Sic ubi mota calent viridi mea pectora Thyrso
     Altior humano spiritus ille malo est.

[22:1] _Literary Gazette_, 1822, p. 636. MS. R.S.E.

[23:1] In a work by Dr. John Brown, called, "An Estimate of the Manners
and Principles of the Times," 1757, there is the following passage:--"A
certain historian, of our own times, bent upon _popularity_ and _gain_,
published a large volume, and omitted no opportunity that offered to
disgrace religion. A large impression was published, and a small part
sold. The author being asked why he had so larded his work with
irreligion, his answer implied:--'He had done it that his book might
sell.' It was whispered him, that he had totally mistaken the spirit of
the times;--that no allurements could engage the _fashionable_ infidel
world to travel through a large quarto; and that, as the few readers of
quartos that yet remain lie mostly among the serious part of mankind, he
had offended his best customers, and ruined the sale of his book. This
information had a notable effect; for a second volume, as large and
instructive as the first, hath appeared; not a smack of irreligion is to
be found in it; and an apology for the first concludes the whole."--P.

Dr. Brown's book is said to have been very popular, and to have run to a
seventh edition in a few months. It is rather singular that the edition
marked as the seventh, has precisely the same matter in each page, and
the same number of pages as the first.

[24:1] The letter does not appear to have been preserved.

[25:1] MS. R.S.E.

[25:2] Elliot had been made a Lord of the Admiralty in 1756.

[27:1] Viz. of Edinburgh.

[29:1] Minto MSS.

[29:2] The title of the Epigoniad does not, unfortunately, convey any
associations to the general English reader, who requires to be told that
it is derived from Ἑπίγονοι, or descendants, in allusion to those of
the warriors who had been slain at the first siege of Thebes; and the
main incident of the poem is the subsequent sacking of that city. It is
not difficult for the reader of the better parts of the Epigoniad to
imagine, that he is perusing Pope's translation of Homer. When an
approach was thus made to a model so famous, all was supposed to have
been gained; and it was thought that a work had been produced which
would stand beside the Iliad and the Odyssey. It is hardly necessary, at
the present day, to ask, whether the highest genius will produce an
immortal poem out of the machinery of another age and nation, and
appealing to sentiments which have no response in the habits or feelings
of the people to whom its author appeals? We read the great national
poems of other countries in their own language, because we thus endow
ourselves, as far as it is possible, with the feeling and ideas of those
to whom the poem was addressed. We read spirited translations, because
they are an attempt to represent to us, in our own tongue, that which is
grand in another language; and our interest is like that with which we
view the portrait of a great man. We thus encounter Ulysses, Agamemnon,
and Menelaus in the Iliad, with the interest of excited curiosity; and
those who cannot read the original, are content to make acquaintance
with persons whom a great genius has made so famous, even through a rude
translation. But few cared to meet them reappearing in Wilkie's
imitation; nor, however forcible may be his expressions, or flowing his
versification, do we feel very vividly the horrors of Cacus' den, and
the destructive ire of the Cyclops, or sympathize in the torments of
Hercules, from the Centaur's poisoned robe, when they are described in
the Epigoniad.

[31:1] The paper is reprinted from _The Critical Review_, in the
Appendix to Ritchie's Life of Hume.

[33:1] These fictions were to a considerable extent superseded by an
act, so late as the year 1833; 3 & 4 Will. IV. c. 74.

[34:1] In 1757 Adam Ferguson became tutor to the family of Lord Bute.

[34:2] Minto MSS.

[35:1] Warburton writes as follows to Hurd:--"As to Hume, I had laid it
aside ever since you was here; I will now, however, finish my skeleton.
It will be hardly that. If, then, you think any thing can be made of it,
and will give yourself the trouble, we may, perhaps, between us, do a
little good, which, I dare say, we shall both think worth a little
pains. If I have any force in the first rude beating out of the mass,
you are best able to give it the elegance of form and splendour of
polish. This will answer my purpose; to labour together in a joint work
to do a little good. I will tell you fairly, it is no more the thing it
should be, and will be, if you undertake it, than the Dantzic iron at
the forge is the gilt and painted ware at Birmingham. It will make no
more than a pamphlet; but you shall take your own time, and make it your
summer's amusement, if you will. I propose it to bear something like
this title:--'_Remarks on Mr. Hume's late Essay, called The Natural
History of Religion; by a Gentleman of Cambridge, in a Letter to the
Rev. Dr. W._' I propose the address should be with the dryness and
reserve of a stranger, who likes the method of the letters on
Bolingbroke's Philosophy, and follows it here against the same sort of
writer, inculcating the same impiety, naturalism, and employing the same
kind of arguments. The address will remove it from me; the author, a
gentleman of Cambridge, from you; and the secrecy in printing from us
both."--_Letters from a late Eminent Prelate to one of his Friends_, p.
240. In the immediately preceding letter, we find him saying, "I will
trim the rogue's jacket, at least sit upon his skirts, as you will see
when you come hither, and find his margins scribbled over."

Thus were concocted the "Remarks on Mr. David Hume's Essay on the
Natural History of Religion, addressed to the Rev. Dr. Warburton,"
(1757) wherein the candid author, in pursuance of his instructions,
says, "Of my _person_, indeed, I must have leave to make no discovery;
and to tell you the truth, I have taken such effectual precautions, as
to that particular, that I will venture to say you will never know more
of me than you do at present." The original notes are to be found in the
quarto edition of Warburton's works. Hume says, in his "own life," of
the Natural History of Religion, "Its public entry was rather obscure,
except only that Dr. Hurd wrote a pamphlet against it, with all the
illiberal petulance, arrogance, and scurrility which distinguish the
Warburtonian school. This pamphlet gave me some consolation for the
otherwise indifferent reception of my performance."

[37:1] Probably "An Essay towards a General History of Feudal Property
in Great Britain, under several heads," 1757-8, by Mr. afterwards Sir
John Dalrymple.

[38:1] MS. R.S.E.

[39:1] _Scots Magazine_ for 1802, p. 978.

[40:1] These analogies are taken from the technicalities of Scots law.
The southern reader may as well be informed, that Prescription stands
for "The Statute of Limitations" in Scotland; that a summons is the writ
by which the plaintiff brings the defendant into court; and that "the
lords' row," is the roll of cases in the Court of Session.

[41:1] Original in the possession of the Cambusmore family.

[43:1] MS. R.S.E.

[43:2] The Painter. The "Sketches and Essays on various subjects," were
written by Armstrong.

[43:3] MS. R.S.E.

[45:1] Minto MSS.

[45:2] It appears, however, from a letter to Smith, farther on, that an
attempt had been made to procure a chair for Ferguson, in Edinburgh,
which had failed.

[46:1] John Stevenson was appointed professor of logic and metaphysics
in 1730.

[47:1] MS. R.S.E.

[47:2] Without date.

[47:3] Original in possession of Sir Henry Jardine.

[48:1] Note B.

[48:2] It is also remarkable, that there is not one letter from
Robertson among the MSS. R.S.E., or in any known collection.

[52:1] Perhaps this may be a mistake for M. Mérian, the name of the
author of a translation of this essay, published in 1759.

[52:2] See above, p. 408. See the letters of Helvetius in the Appendix.
He does not seem to have translated any of Hume's works, his proposed
reciprocity treaty not having been concluded. He appears to have had
considerably more at heart the being chosen a member of the Royal
Society of London, as a means of restoring his lost popularity at home.

[55:1] A translation was published in 1764, by Besset de la Chapelle.

[55:2] Theory of Moral Sentiments.

[55:3] Essay on Taste.

[55:4] See next page.

[56:1] Stewart says this is the work subsequently published under the
title of "An Essay on the History of Civil Society." But this may be
doubted: see Hume's Remarks on it at the time of publication.

[56:2] See above, p. 30.

[58:1] This association of names is evidently intended as a sarcasm on
Lord Lyttelton's taste.

[58:2] Stewart's Life of Smith.

[59:1] Probably Mr. Wilson, type-founder, Glasgow; the father of the art
in Scotland.

[61:1] He did not consider his agreement about the Treatise of Human
Nature a "previous" one, as the book was written. See vol. i. p. 65.

[61:2] _Literary Gazette_, 1822, p. 665. Original MS. R.S.E.

[62:1] MS. R.S.E.

[62:2] See this gentleman, who was a professor in Glasgow, mentioned
above, p. 59, where his name is spelt Rouat.

[65:1] MS. R.S.E.

[65:2] MS. R.S.E.

[65:3] An account of all the books in which the constitutional
principles of the history have been ably impugned, would only be
reminding the reader of many works with which he is probably already
familiar. But among the marked productions of this series, if he desire
to have a calm appreciation of the merits of Hume's historical
criticism, by those who have gone over the same ground, he will peruse
the historical works of Hallam, and the treatises of Dr. Allen,
including his articles in _The Edinburgh Review_, and his "Inquiry into
the Rise and Growth of the Royal Prerogative." If, however, he wish to
have all Hume's tergiversations sifted and exposed with forensic
acuteness, and the zeal of an able and vigilant prosecutor,--to have
before him, in short, the whole "case" of the British constitution
against Hume, let him read Brodie's "History of the British Empire." It
will gratify all the admirers of his book to know, that Mr. Brodie is
occupied in the preparation of a new edition of his great work, which
will, no doubt, be marked by all the same qualities which distinguished
the first, increased by farther study and enthusiastic research. It is a
singular incident in literary history, that immediately after the
appearance of the first edition, filled as it is with a prodigious array
of notes and references, the subject was gone over by Godwin in his
"History of the Commonwealth," with but slight reference to Mr. Brodie's
book; but in such a manner, from the structure of his narrative and
otherwise, as to show that he had scarcely any other book before him.

This is not the place for a discussion of Mr. Brodie's charges against
Hume: they are honestly supported by references, and will stand or fall
on their own merits. But there is one instance in which Mr. Brodie's
acuteness has led him farther than every one can follow him. Thus,
speaking of a particular passage of Hume, he says, "he has given the
very words of Perinchief, whom he yet durst not quote; and his
pencil-marks are still at the place in the copy belonging to the
Advocates' Library." This statement, to the effect that there exists
evidence of Hume having read passages which he has designedly avoided
citing, is frequently repeated; and if one would absolutely assure
himself that Hume had read the passages, by reference to the copies of
the books in the Advocates' Library, he finds one or two scores drawn
across the margin with a pencil! The distinguished historical critic,
who has noticed this circumstance, must make some allowance for the
inferior acumen of ordinary readers, if they should fail to discover why
this simple score must of necessity be David Hume--his mark.

Mr. Brodie's book is particularly valuable as a criticism on Hume's
notions of the old prerogative in relation to the Star Chamber, the
Court of High Commission, Martial Law, Impressments, and Forced Loans.

[68:1] Locke gives an admirable illustration of the sceptical spirit
working on imperfect data, in the following anecdote. "It happened to a
Dutch ambassador, who, entertaining the King of Siam with the
particularities of Holland, which he was inquisitive after, amongst
other things, told him, that the water in his country would sometimes,
in cold weather, be so hard, that men walked upon it, and that it would
bear an elephant if he were there. To which the king replied, 'Hitherto
I have believed the strange things which you have told me, because I
look upon you as a sober fair man: but now I am sure you lie.'"--_On the
Understanding_, book iv. chap. 15, § 5.

[71:1] The forms of voting and coming to a decision in the British
Parliament have been adopted by other countries, not from any partiality
towards our systems, but because in this we seem to have approached
abstract perfection; and the framers of codes, after all endeavours to
make forms of like excellence, are obliged to have recourse to those
which have been followed for centuries in St. Stephen's. In the French
Assemblies, ingenuity was frequently exercised in vain to devise some
plan by which, after a series of proposals had been made, and debated
upon, the sense of the meeting in regard to them might be ascertained
and recorded without the record being liable to be questioned as
inaccurate. In the English system, the matter is at once solved. Each
proposed resolution is made and put on record before the discussion
begins, and however many different proposals there may be in relation to
the subject of debate, they must be all put in writing, and each one
must be singly, and without intermixture with the others, adopted or
rejected by a vote of the house.

[72:1] He seems to have afterwards soothed himself with the reflection
that his historical speculations were in favour of the stability of a
fixed government, and opposed to innovating principles. In a letter to
Madame de Boufflers, dated 23d Dec. 1768, he says:--

"Indeed, the prospect of affairs here is so strange and melancholy, as
would make any one desirous of withdrawing from the country at any rate.
Licentiousness, or rather the frenzy of liberty, has taken possession of
us, and is throwing every thing into confusion. How happy do I esteem
it, that in all my writings I have always kept at a proper distance from
that tempting extreme, and have maintained a due regard to magistracy
and established government, suitably to the character of an historian
and a philosopher! I find, on that account, my authority growing daily;
and indeed have now no reason to complain of the public, though your
partiality to me made you think so formerly. Add to this, that the
king's bounty puts me in a very opulent situation. I must, however,
expect that, if any great public convulsion happen, my appointments will
cease, and reduce me to my own revenue: but this will be sufficient for
a man of letters, who surely needs less money both for his entertainment
and credit, than other people."--_Private Correspondence_, p. 266.


1760-1762. Æt. 49-51.

     Alterations of the History in the direction of Despotic
     Principles--Specimens--Alterations in Style--Specimens--His
     Elaboration--Ossian's Poems--Labours at the early part of the
     History--Ferguson's "Sister Peg"--Acquaintance with Madame de
     Boufflers--Account of that lady--First intercourse with
     Rousseau--Rousseau's position--The exiled Earl Marishal--
     Campbell and his Dissertation on Miracles.

We have seen, from various indications in Hume's letters to his friends,
that he employed himself occasionally in corrections and alterations of
the published volumes of his History. In these revisals, and especially
in that of the "History of the Stuarts," his alterations were not
limited to the style. He tells us, with a sort of scornful candour, in
his "own life," "Though I had been taught by experience that the Whig
party were in possession of bestowing all places, both in the state and
in literature, I was so little inclined to yield to their senseless
clamour, that in above a hundred alterations which farther study,
reading, or reflection engaged me to make in the reigns of the two first
Stuarts, I have made all of them invariably to the Tory side. It is
ridiculous to consider the English constitution, before that period, as
a regular plan of liberty."

It was part of his nature, when popular clamour called for the adoption
of a particular course, to turn his steps for that reason the more
distinctly in the opposite direction. He has not exaggerated the extent
or character of his alterations; for an inspection of the various
editions of his History which came under his own revision, shows him, by
turns of expression, structure of narrative, and other gentle
alterations, approaching closer and closer to despotic principles. The
democratic opinions contained in his early essays, have already been
alluded to; and their suppression in subsequent editions, harmonizes
with these variations of the opinions expressed in his History.[74:1]

There are, however, a very few alterations in an opposite spirit. Thus,
in the following sentence relative to the proceedings of the House of
Commons regarding the militia, the part in italics is suppressed in the
later editions. "He [the king] issued proclamations against this
manifest usurpation; _the most precipitant and most enormous of which
there is any instance in the English history_."

On one incident of some importance in history, he was obliged materially
to change his ground of argument, yet would not alter his original
opinion. During the fervour of the civil wars in 1646, Lord Glamorgan
had in the name of Charles I. concluded a treaty with the confederated
Irish Catholics, by which, on the condition of their aiding the king,
besides other concessions, the Roman Catholic religion was to be
restored to its old supremacy through a great part of Ireland. Ormond,
the lord lieutenant, charged Glamorgan with high treason: but he
produced two commissions from the king. The king disowned the
commissions: but the parliament believed in their genuineness.--It was
in this shape that the matter appeared in the first instance before
Hume. In his first edition he accordingly maintained that the
commissions were forgeries; and a long note, explanatory of the grounds
of this belief, is a remarkable instance of a plausible fabric of
historical reasoning, doomed afterwards to fall to pieces by the removal
of its foundation. Before he published his second edition, he received a
letter from the Rev. John Douglas, afterwards Bishop of Carlisle,[78:1]
who was intrusted with the editing of the Clarendon Papers. In this
communication, the reverend gentleman regrets that he cannot send to
Hume a letter written by Glamorgan, describing the method in which the
commissions were actually prepared, and its object; but he gives an
account of the contents of the letter.[78:2] Hume could no longer hold
that the commissions were not genuine: but he still maintained Charles
to be guiltless; and though they were unknown to the lord lieutenant,
and bore no attestation of having passed through the proper offices, he
still argued that Glamorgan, in treating with the Irish, though he was
within the letter of his very wide powers, must have exceeded his
instructions; and ingeniously pointed to his work, "The century of
Inventions," in connexion with which Lord Glamorgan is better known, by
his subsequent title of Marquis of Worcester, as the production of a man
who never could have been trusted with powers so extensive as those
which he arrogated.

Besides the variations in political opinion, there were in the
subsequent editions of Hume's History other alterations suggested by
other influences. His opinions were self-formed, and he jealously
protected them in their formation from the influence of other minds; but
in the cultivation of his style he sought assistance with avidity
from all who could afford it. Hence he appears to have earnestly
solicited the aid of Lyttelton, Mallet, and others, whose experience of
English composition might enable them to detect Scotticisms.



Before they went to press, his compositions underwent a minute and
rigorous correction. His manuscripts, as the small fac-simile engraved
for these volumes shows, were subjected to a painful revisal. We
sometimes find him, after he has adopted a form of expression, scoring
it out and substituting another; but again, on a comparison of their
mutual merits, restoring the rejected form, and perhaps again discarding
it when he has lighted on a happier collocation of words.[79:1] It is
worthy of remark, that his most brilliant passages are those which bear
the least appearance of being amended. It is not thence to be inferred
that these passages sprang from his mind in their full symmetry and
beauty: but rather that they had been elaborated, and made ready for
insertion in their proper place, before they were put in writing.

We now resume the correspondence; which will be found to have reference,
among other topics, to the preparation of the History anterior to the
accession of the Tudors.


"_Edinburgh, 22d March, 1760._

"DEAR SIR,--You gave me a very sensible pleasure in informing me so
early of the success of 'The Siege of Aquileia'[81:1] on its first
representation. I hope it sustained its reputation after it came into
print. I showed Mr. Kincaid your letter; and he has published an
edition here, of a thousand, which go off very well. As he had published
a pamphlet, this winter, which he got from you, I told him that I
fancied you would be satisfied with the same terms, which he then agreed

"I am very busy, and am making some progress; but find that this part of
English History is a work of infinite labour and study; which, however,
I do not grudge; for I have nothing better nor more agreeable to employ
me. I have sent you a short catalogue of books, which either are not in
the Advocates' Library, or are not to be found at present. I must beg of
you to procure them for me, and to send them down with the first ship.
Send me also the prices; for I shall be able to engage the curators of
the library to take from me such as they want at the price.

"Dr. Birch, (to whom make my compliments,) will be so good as to give
you his advice about buying these books; and will tell you if several of
them are collected in volumes, as is often the case with the old English

"I hope Lord Lyttelton and Mr. Mallet are as busy as I; if so, we may
expect to see their history soon. Please to inform me what you hear of
them. We are informed that Lord Lyttelton is soon to appear. I wish very
much to have the benefit of his work before I go to the press. Donaldson
told me, that Strahan has, at last, finished the small edition of my
Essays, and that you have shipped his and Kincaid's number. They are
resolved, I find, to dispose of them all in this place. I hope you have
not forgot to send me half a dozen of copies in sheets, the number which
we agreed to on any new edition.

"Your press, in London, has been somewhat barren this winter. We have
had nothing from you but a good pamphlet or two, and have, I think,
paid the same in kind. Our militia pamphlet was certainly wrote with
spirit; and has been twice reprinted, as I hear, in London.[83:1] I beg
to be remembered to Mrs. Millar; and please tell her that I am very
sorry we shall not have the pleasure of seeing her here this summer. I
could wish her just as much sickness as to make her sensible that
travelling is good for her. My compliments to Dr. Douglas and Strahan,
and to Friend Cummin, who, I hope, sees now a better prospect of
overcoming all his difficulties. I am," &c.

The following letter, though it must be already familiar to many
readers, is so clear an exposition of the writer's views on some
branches of historical and biographical literature, that it ought not to
be omitted.


     I have frequently thought, and talked with our common friends
     upon the subject of your letter. There always occurred to us
     several difficulties with regard to every subject we could
     propose. The ancient Greek history has several
     recommendations, particularly the good authors from which it
     must be drawn: but this same circumstance becomes an
     objection, when more narrowly considered; for what can you do
     in most places with these authors but transcribe and translate
     them? no letters or state papers from which you could correct
     their errors, or authenticate their narration, or supply
     their defects. Besides, Rollin is so well wrote with respect
     to style, that with superficial people it passes for
     sufficient. There is one Dr. Lelland, who has lately wrote the
     life of Philip of Macedon, which is one of the best periods.
     The book, they tell me, is perfectly well wrote; yet it has
     had such small sale, and has so little excited the attention
     of the public, that the author has reason to think his labour
     thrown away. I have not read the book; but by the size, I
     should judge it to be too particular. It is a pretty large
     quarto. I think a book of that size sufficient for the whole
     History of Greece till the death of Philip: and I doubt not
     but such a work would be successful, notwithstanding all these
     discouraging circumstances. The subject is noble, and Rollin
     is by no means equal to it.

     I own, I like still less your project of the age of Charles
     the Fifth. That subject is disjointed; and your hero, who is
     the sole connexion, is not very interesting. A competent
     knowledge at least is required of the state and constitution
     of the empire; of the several kingdoms of Spain, of Italy, of
     the Low Countries, which it would be the work of half a life
     to acquire; and, though some parts of the story may be
     entertaining, there would be many dry and barren; and the
     whole seems not to have any great charms.

     But I would not willingly start objections to these schemes,
     unless I had something to propose, which would be plausible;
     and I shall mention to you an idea which has sometimes pleased
     me, and which I had once entertained thoughts of
     attempting.[84:1] You may observe that, among modern readers,
     Plutarch is, in every translation, the chief favourite of the
     ancients. Numberless translations and numberless editions have
     been made of him in all languages; and no translation has been
     so ill done as not to be successful. Though those who read the
     originals never put him in comparison either with Thucydides
     or Xenophon, he always attaches more the reader in the
     translation; a proof that the idea and execution of his work
     is, in the main, happy. Now, I would have you think of writing
     modern lives, somewhat after that manner: not to enter into a
     detail of the actions, but to mark the manners of the great
     personages, by domestic stories, by remarkable sayings, and by
     a general sketch of their lives and adventures. You see that
     in Plutarch the life of Cæsar may be read in half an hour.
     Were you to write the life of Henry the Fourth of France after
     that model, you might pillage all the pretty stories in Sully,
     and speak more of his mistresses than of his battles. In
     short, you might gather the flower of all modern history in
     this manner: the remarkable Popes, the Kings of Sweden, the
     great discoverers and conquerors of the New World; even the
     eminent men of letters, might furnish you with matter, and the
     quick despatch of every different work would encourage you to
     begin a new one. If one volume were successful, you might
     compose another at your leisure, and the field is
     inexhaustible. There are persons whom you might meet with in
     the corners of history, so to speak, who would be a subject of
     entertainment quite unexpected; and as long as you live, you
     might give and receive amusement by such a work; even your
     son, if he had a talent for history, would succeed to the
     subject, and his son to him. I shall insist no farther on this
     idea; because, if it strikes your fancy, you will easily
     perceive all its advantages, and, by farther thought, all its

In 1760, Macpherson published those "Fragments of Ancient Poetry,
collected in the Highlands of Scotland, and translated from the Gaelic
or Erse language," which, afterwards enlarged, became the celebrated
"Ossian's Poems." Hume took an early interest in this professed
resuscitation of early national literature. He at first doubted the
truth of assertions so unprecedented in literary history, as those by
which the genuineness of the poems was maintained. But there was nothing
to which his heart would have responded with a warmer enthusiasm than
the discovery, that his ancestors, generally reputed to be but late
accessions to civilization, could look back upon a literature as rich
and great as that which had crowned Greece with the literary supremacy
of the world. Hence, he seems to have, after some time, willingly
yielded to a belief in the genuineness of these poems. His good sense
and sceptical spirit, however, resumed the supremacy, and he afterwards
wrote a very searching though short "Essay on the Authenticity of
Ossian's Poems." It is printed in the Appendix; and thither the whole
correspondence on the subject is transferred, that the reader may peruse
the various pieces in a series. It is probable that the sole reason why
Hume never published this detection, was a kindly feeling to his friend
Dr. Blair, against whom he might not wish to appear in a controversy,
where the critical powers of the latter would be so severely tested. And
yet they stood on perfectly fair ground. Neither Hume nor Blair had any
knowledge of the archæological merits of the question. Each of them
discussed the probable genuineness of the poems on grounds as purely
critical as if they had been brought from Central Africa, instead of
being the alleged literature of a people who are supposed to have at one
time occupied the ground on which Edinburgh is built; and at the time of
that controversy, as at the present day, might be visited on a journey
of fifty miles. In such a state of knowledge, it required great freedom
and decision in criticism to pronounce the poems forgeries. Then, as
now, every genuine Celt protested that he had heard them over and over
again in Gaelic with his own ears; and with this only difference from
the translation, that there were peculiar delicate beauties in the
native Gaelic, which neither Macpherson, nor any other man, was capable
of expressing in English. In such an unequal controversy, between the
internal evidence of criticism, and the external evidence of broad
assertion, it is singular that no one should have attempted to solve the
question through the faint light which the chronicles of the surrounding
tribes throw on the history of the Celts in Scotland. That knowledge has
now been pretty widely extended; and hence "Ossian's Poems" have been
estimated at their true value, as an embossment of poetical language and
imagery, on the surface of such barren metrical narratives as all
uncivilized and warlike people possess; it has been found that the
structure of the narratives, the characteristic names, the events of
history, and the manners of the times, have been treated with no more
deference, when an alteration was found to suit the purpose of the

Intensely occupied with his History anterior to the accession of the
Tudors, we thus find Hume writing to Millar on 27th October:--

"I have been very busy ever since I came down; and if I keep my health,
shall be able to publish the winter after the next, or at farthest in
the subsequent spring; which I fancy will serve your purpose well
enough. At any rate, this is not a matter which I can hurry on faster
than I am able to satisfy myself in the execution.

"I am very much pleased with what you tell me, that the Clarendon Papers
have fallen into Dr. Douglas's hands, especially as Dr. Robertson tells
me he intends to publish them. What my sentiments are on the question
you mention, you may learn from my letter to the Doctor, which I have
sent you open, and which I beg you to take the trouble of sending; for I
do not know how to direct it."

Hume wished to amuse himself with mystifying his friends about the
pamphlet above alluded to, called Sister Peg. The circumstance which
suggested to him the following letter, is said to have been his being
kept in ignorance that his friend Ferguson was the author of the piece.


"_Edinburgh, 3d February, 1761._

"DEAR SIR,--I am informed that you have received a letter from London,
by which you learn that the manuscript of Sister Peg has been traced to
the printer's, and has been found to be, in many places, interlined and
corrected in my handwriting. I could have wished that you had not
published this piece of intelligence before you told me of it. The truth
is, after I had composed that trifling performance, and thought I had
made it as correct as I could, I gave it to a sure hand to be
transcribed, that in case any of the London printers had known my hand,
they might not be able to discover me. But as it lay by me some weeks
afterwards, I could not forbear reviewing it; and not having my
amanuensis at hand, I was obliged in several places to correct it
myself, rather than allow it to go to the press with inaccuracies of
which I was sensible. I little dreamed that this small want of
precaution would have betrayed me so soon; but as you know that I am
very indifferent about princes or presidents, ministers of the gospel or
ministers of state, kings or keysars, and set at defiance all powers,
human or infernal, I had no other reason for concealing myself, but in
order to try the taste of the public; whom, though I also set in some
degree at defiance, I cannot sometimes forbear paying a little regard
to. I find that frivolous composition has been better received than I
had any reason to expect, and therefore cannot much complain of the
injury you have done me by revealing my secret, and obliging me to
acknowledge it more early than I intended. The only reason of my writing
to you is, to know the printer's name, who has so far broke his
engagements as to show the manuscript; for the bookseller assured my
friend to whom I intrusted it, that we might depend upon an absolute
secrecy. I beg my compliments to Mrs. Carlyle, and am, dear sir,"

We see by the date of the following letter, that Hume varied his city
life with an occasional residence with his brother in Berwickshire.


"_Ninewells, 29th June, 1761._

"DEAR SMITH,--As your professorship of Hebrew is vacant, I have been
applied to in behalf of young Mr. Cummin; and you are the person with
whom I am supposed to have some interest. But as I imagine you will not
put this election on the footing of interest, I shall say nothing on
that head; but shall speak much more to the purpose by informing you,
that I have known Mr. Cummin for some time, and have esteemed him a
young man of exceeding good capacity, and of a turn towards literature.
He tells me that he has made the oriental tongues, and particularly the
Hebrew, a part of his study, and has made some proficiency in them. But
of this fact, craving his pardon, I must be allowed to entertain some
doubt; for if Hebrew roots, as Cowley says, thrive best in barren
soil,[90:1] he has a small chance of producing any great crop of them.
But as you commonly regard the professorship of Hebrew as a step towards
other professorships, in which a good capacity can better display
itself, you will permit me to give it as my opinion, that you will find
it difficult to pitch on a young man, who is more likely to be a credit
to your college, by his knowledge and industry.

"I am so far on my road to London, where I hope to see you this season.
I shall lodge in Miss Elliot's, Lisle Street, Leicester Fields; and I
beg it of you to let me hear from you the moment of your arrival."[90:2]

In 1761, commenced Hume's acquaintance with Madame de Boufflers. It
afterwards ripened into a friendship, of which we cannot fully estimate
the nature, without looking not only at the character and position of
the parties, but at some conventional notions of morality, to which Hume
had been, previously, a stranger. Hyppolyte de Saujon, Comtesse de
Boufflers-Rouvel, is not to be confounded with her contemporary the
Marquise de Boufflers-Rémencourt, mother of the witty Chevalier de
Boufflers. The prominent difference between them is but too startlingly
characteristic of the moral atmosphere in which they both lived--that
the former was mistress of the Prince of Conti, while the latter is
supposed to have held the same relation to Prince Stanislaus Augustus of
Poland, of whose court she was the great ornament and attraction. A
friendship between a respectable Scotsman of letters and a person in
Madame de Boufflers' position, is apt to excite a smile or a frown,
according to the habits or temper of the reader. Hume himself was not
likely to take the most austere view of the matter; and must have felt,
at any rate, that the scandal and even the blame of such connexions must
be greatly affected by the countenance they receive from the society to
which the parties belong. On the vileness of this code of organized
immorality, it would be superfluous, at this hour, to enlarge; but there
is a great difference between those who act up to the standard of a low
social system and those who do the same acts in breach of a higher code.
A Mahomedan who keeps a harem in Constantinople is inferior in his tone
of morality to an English gentleman, of good domestic conduct; but he is
infinitely superior to an Englishman with a harem in Piccadilly.

The lady in question undoubtedly held a very high station in the best
society of Paris; and at that time, and in that country, it is certain
that such attachments, if permanent and decorous, and in a very high
class of society, acquired a more than tolerated respectability. In
1769, Madame de Boufflers speaks of her attachment as one of twenty
years' duration. Early in life, and soon after her marriage, she had
been placed at the court of the Duchess of Orleans: but quarrelling with
that princess, she came under the protection of the Prince of Conti. Of
course, her correspondence bears no mark of her having been subjected to
slights, or of her dreading them; or indeed of any suspicion that there
was any thing in her position to prevent her from being rigid in her
ideas of virtue, and a teacher of social duties. On her visit to
England, she was well received by the British aristocracy, and was even
honoured by a laudatory growl from Johnson. We find her exchanging
visits with the Marchioness of Hertford, the wife of the English
ambassador, one of the purest of that portion of the English female
aristocracy which had not suffered taint. In one of her letters to Hume,
she describes the death-bed of the prince's mother; speaks of her
displaying the heroism of a grand-daughter of the great Condé; and talks
with tearful gratitude of the early kindness of that princess to
herself, and of her attempts to pay the debt by solacing her old age,
and performing to her the last duties which the living receive from each
other. It is in all its spirit the letter of a daughter-in-law.

The prince, though a generous and kind-hearted man, could not be
prevailed on to make her his wife on her husband's death; but when he
died in 1776, he had raised no princess over her head. We shall find
that she made Hume the confidant in her griefs and disappointments, and
the adviser in her difficulties. There is a great air of earnestness and
solicitude in these appeals; and though we cannot help presuming, that a
woman so full in her disclosures to a foreigner, living among a people
of totally different habits and morals, must have distributed a still
larger portion of her confidential revelations nearer home; yet it is
evident that she had much reliance on Hume's counsel, and perhaps he was
not ill fitted for a father-confessor to such a penitent.

The letters of Hume to the countess, have already been for some time
before the English reader.[92:1] On the present occasion some
characteristic extracts will be interwoven with the letters which form
the other side of the correspondence. It is difficult for a native of
this country, with the fullest allowance for the redundancy of the
French laudatory and amicable vocabulary, to estimate at its true value
the ardour of these letters, or to adjust the amount of solid truth and
friendliness represented by such a blaze of ardent expressions. The
correspondence was of the lady's seeking and pursuing. Frequently, when
there is a pause, an impassioned letter from her rouses up the
philosopher; who starts into a sort of artificial excitement, and, when
it is over, sinks into lethargy again. Yet it must be admitted that Hume
acted his part pretty well, and that the fat philosopher was not far
behind the vivacious Frenchwoman. But with him it is visibly all acting;
and there is a total absence of the playful ease which adorns those
letters to his own chosen friends, with whom he was in heart and habits
at ease. In some instances, perhaps, he studied a formal and measured
style, as being more intelligible to a foreigner; and occasionally we
find him offering his correspondent facilities by the adoption of idioms
more French than English; as where he says, "I am truly ashamed, dear
madam, of your having _prevented_ me in breaking our long silence; but
you have _prevented_ me only a few days."[93:1]

The letter with which the countess opens the correspondence, seems to
have been forwarded to Hume by Lord Elibank's brother, Alexander Murray,
who was then mixing with the Jacobites abroad, and who appears to have
enjoyed a very wide and much varied circle of acquaintance in France. He
says, in a letter of the 18th May, 1761:--

"MY DEAR SIR,--It would appear great presumption in me to make you any
compliments upon your History of England, after having read the
enclosed; which with infinite pleasure I send you, as it procures you a
correspondence with the most amiable and accomplished lady of this
kingdom, or indeed any other. If after the peace you take a trip to this
polite and elegant country, you are sure, by the means of your new
female correspondent, of being made acquainted in a very short time with
all the wits in this part of the world. It is true your most
incomparable productions justly entitle you to that distinction.
However, being took by the hand by Madame de Boufflers, won't diminish
your intrinsic value, even among the most profound philosophers. In case
I can't return to England, and you take the resolution of coming here .
. . . . . I beg leave to assure you that I am, with as much esteem and
veneration as human creature can be, my dear sir, your most obedient and
most humble servant, and avowed friend,

                                                 "A. MURRAY.

"When you answer the enclosed, I beg it may be in English, as the lady
is quite mistress of that language."[94:1]

The letter forwarded to Hume was as follows:



     For a long time, sir, I have struggled with conflicting
     sentiments. The admiration which your sublime work has
     awakened in me, and the esteem with which it has inspired me
     for your person, your talents, and your virtue, have often
     aroused the desire of writing to you, that I might express
     those sentiments towards you with which I am so deeply

     On the other hand, keeping in view the little value you can
     have for my opinion, your want of personal acquaintance with
     me, and the reserve and privacy, even, which are suitable to
     my sex, I fear being accused of presumption, and of making
     myself be known, to my own disadvantage, by a man whose good
     opinion I shall always regard as the most flattering, and the
     most precious of benefits. Nevertheless, although the
     reflections I have made on this subject appeared to have much
     force, an irresistible inclination rendered them unavailing;
     and I come to add one to the thousand other instances, to
     justify the truth of that remark which I have read in your
     "History of the House of Stuart,"--"Men's views of things are
     the result of their understanding alone: their conduct is
     regulated by their understanding, their temper, and their
     passions." Thus, when my reason tells me I ought to be silent,
     my enthusiasm prevents me from regarding its voice.

     Although a woman, and of no very advanced age, despite the
     dissipation attendant on the life one leads in this country,
     having always loved reading, there are few good books in any
     language, or of any kind, that I have not read, either in the
     original, or in translations; and I can assure you, sir, with
     a sincerity which cannot be questioned, that I have found none
     which, to my judgment, unites so many perfections as your own.
     I know no terms capable of expressing what I felt in reading
     this work. I was moved, transported: and the emotion which it
     caused me is, in some measure, painful by its continuance. It
     elevates the soul; it fills the heart with sentiments of
     humanity and benevolence; it enlightens the intellect, by
     showing that true happiness is closely connected with virtue;
     and discovers, by the same light, what is the end, and the
     sole end, of every reasonable being. In the midst of the
     calamities which, on all sides, surrounded Charles the First,
     we see peace and security shining in their brightness, and
     accompanying him to the scaffold; whilst trouble and remorse,
     the inseparable companions of crime, follow the steps of
     Cromwell, even to the throne.

     Your book also teaches how the best of things are liable to
     abuse; and the reflections which are made on this subject
     ought to augment our caution and distrust of ourselves. It
     animates with a noble emulation; it inspires love of liberty;
     and teaches, at the same time, submission to the government
     under which we are obliged to live. In a word, it is a _terra
     fecunda_ of morals and instruction, presented in colours so
     bright, that we believe we see them for the first time.

     The clearness, the majesty, the touching simplicity of your
     style delight me. Its beauties are so striking, that,
     notwithstanding my ignorance of the English language, they
     cannot escape me. You are, sir, an admirable painter: your
     pictures have a grace, a nature, an energy, which surpass even
     what the imagination can portray.

     But how shall I be able to express the effect produced upon me
     by your divine impartiality? I would that I had, on this
     occasion, your own eloquence in which to express my thought!
     In truth, I believed I had before my eyes the work of some
     celestial being, free from the passions of humanity, who, for
     the benefit of the human race, has deigned to write the events
     of these latter times.

     I dare only add, that in all which issues from your pen, you
     show yourself a perfect philosopher, a statesman, a historian
     full of genius, an enlightened politician, a genuine patriot.
     All these sublime qualities are so far above the understanding
     of a woman, that it is fitting I should say little on the
     subject; and I have already great need of your indulgence for
     the faults I have committed against discretion and decorum, by
     the excess of my veneration for your merit. I entreat this of
     you, sir, and, at the same time, the greatest secrecy. The
     step I have taken is rather extraordinary. I fear it may
     attract blame: and I would be grieved if the sentiment which
     has constrained me to it should be misunderstood.

     I have the honour to be, sir, your very humble and very
     obedient servant,


     They tell me, sir, you have some idea of coming to France--to
     Paris. I earnestly wish you would execute this resolution,
     and that I may be able to assist in rendering your sojourn

     PARIS, _15th March, 1761_.[97:1]

Hume must have been the more than mortal being which his new friend
describes, if he had resisted such an appeal; and he thus wrote in


     _Edinburgh, 15th May, 1761._

     MADAM,--It is not easy for your ladyship to imagine the
     pleasure I received from the letter, with which you have so
     unexpectedly honoured me, nor the agreeable visions of vanity,
     in which, upon that occasion, I indulged myself. I concluded,
     and, as I fancied, with certainty, that a person, who could
     write so well herself, must certainly be a good judge of
     writing in others; and that an author, who could please a lady
     of your distinction, educated in the court of France, and
     familiarized with every thing elegant and polite, might
     reasonably pretend to some degree of merit, and might presume
     to take his rank above the middling historians. But, madam, it
     is but fair, that I, who have pretended, in so long a work, to
     do justice to all parties and persons, should also do some to
     myself; and should not feed my vanity with chimeras, which, I
     am sensible, in my cooler moments, can have no foundation in
     reason. When I had the pleasure of passing some time in
     France, I had the agreeable experience of the polite
     hospitality, by which your nation is distinguished; and I now
     find, that the same favourable indulgence has appeared in your
     ladyship's judgment of my writings. And, perhaps, your esteem
     for the entire impartiality which I aim at, and which, to tell
     the truth, is so unusual in English historians, has made your
     ladyship overlook many defects, into which the want of art or
     genius has betrayed me.

     In this particular, madam, I must own, that I am inclined to
     take your civilities in their full latitude, and to hope that
     I have not fallen much short of my intentions. The spirit of
     faction, which prevails in this country, and which is a
     natural attendant on civil liberty, carries every thing to
     extremes on the one side, as well as on the other; and I have
     the satisfaction to find, that my performance has alternately
     given displeasure to both parties. I could not reasonably hope
     to please both: such success is impossible from the nature of
     things; and next to your ladyship's approbation, who, as a
     foreigner, must necessarily be a candid judge, I shall always
     regard the anger of both as the surest warrant of my

     As I find that you are pleased to employ your leisure hours in
     the perusal of history, I shall presume to recommend to your
     ladyship a late work of this kind, wrote by my friend and
     countryman, Dr. Robertson, which has met with the highest
     approbation from all good judges.

     It is the "History of Scotland" during the age of the
     unfortunate Queen Mary; and it is wrote in an elegant,
     agreeable, and interesting manner, and far exceeding, I shall
     venture to say, any performance of that kind that has appeared
     in English. The failings of that princess are not covered
     over; but her singular catastrophe is rendered truly
     lamentable and tragical; and the reader cannot forbear
     shedding tears for her fate, at the same time that he blames
     her conduct. There are few historical productions, where both
     the subject and execution have appeared so happy.

     Some prospect is now given us, that this miserable war between
     the two nations is drawing towards a period, and that the
     former intercourse between them will again be renewed. If this
     happy event take place, I have entertained hopes that my
     affairs will permit me to take a journey to Paris; and the
     obliging offer, which you are pleased to make me, of allowing
     me to pay my respects to you, will prove a new and very
     powerful inducement to make me hasten the execution of my

     But I give your ladyship warning, that I shall, on many
     accounts, stand in need of your indulgence. I passed a few
     years in France during my early youth; but I lived in a
     provincial town, where I enjoyed the advantages of leisure for
     study, and an opportunity of learning the language: what I had
     imperfectly learned, long disuse, I am afraid, has made me
     forget. I have rusted amid books and study; have been little
     engaged in the active, and not much in the pleasurable scenes
     of life; and am more accustomed to a select society than to
     general companies.

     But all these disadvantages, and much greater, will be
     abundantly compensated by the honour of your ladyship's
     protection; and I hope that my profound sense of your obliging
     favours will render me not altogether unworthy of it.

     I have the honour to be, with the greatest respect, madam,
     your ladyship's most obedient and most humble servant.[101:1]

In return, Madame De Boufflers reiterates her compliments, vouches for
her sincerity, and if Hume should fulfil his intention of visiting
France, offers him the use of apartments, saying, that if he accept the
offer it will be an infinite obligation to her; if he refuse it, she
will be vexed but not offended. She will introduce him to her circle of
friends, and do every thing that can tend to make his visit
agreeable.[101:2] In answer to this, Hume finds that the warlike aspect
of affairs will preclude him, in the meantime, from enjoying the society
"of a person so celebrated for her accomplishments by all who have any
knowledge of the court of France."[101:3]

Mr. Murray's praise of Madame de Boufflers' knowledge of the English
language was not misapplied; as the following short letter, and another
of greater length, which will be found a few pages farther on, show.
With a few inaccuracies, they afford a very remarkable instance of
idiomatic acquaintance with our tongue.

"I have received, sir, by an unknown hand, the continuation of your
admirable performance. Some little perhaps of the pride so common in my
sex, but much more the desire to contract an obligation with a man of
your merit, and to obtain from him so valuable a favour, have persuaded
me I was indebted to you for it. 'Tis natural to bend our thoughts
towards what is most advantageous for us, however elevated it may be.
The wrong should be only to believe we deserve it. Then, sir, I think,
that in wishing such a proof of your kindness, and confessing in the
same time I have no right to pretend to it, I prove my just opinion of
both. I am, sir, your humble servant.

"_Paris, May 29, 1762._"

On this, Hume, after observing with ingenious courtesy, that a fairy, a
sylph, or a good genius, who knew his inmost thoughts, must have
anticipated him in sending the copy of his History, continues:--"But,
madam, what new wonder is this which your letter presents to me? I not
only find a lady, who, in the bloom of beauty and height of reputation,
can withdraw herself from the pleasures of a gay court, and find leisure
to cultivate the sciences; but deigns to support a correspondence with a
man of letters in a remote country, and to reward his labours by a
suffrage the most agreeable of all others, to a man who has any spark of
generous sentiments or taste for true glory. Besides these unusual
circumstances, I find a lady, who, without any other advantages than her
own talents, has made herself mistress of a language commonly esteemed
very difficult to strangers, and possesses it to such a degree as might
give jealousy to us who have made it the business of our lives to
acquire and cultivate it.

"I cannot but congratulate my country on this incident, which marks the
progress made by its literature and reputation in foreign countries."

       *       *       *       *       *

Nearly contemporary with the Comtesse de Boufflers, comes on the scene a
person with whom we shall hereafter have much concern, Jean Jacques
Rousseau. He had been living under the protection of the Maréchal de
Luxembourg, in the celebrated hermitage near the castle of Montmorency,
when he published his "Emile." Highly as he was supported, the wrath of
the clergy prevailed; and a writ of _prise de corps_ was issued for his
apprehension. It appears that in those strange times of intolerance and
infidelity, there would have been no cause of wonder, if the proceedings
had ended in a capital conviction. With the aid of his friends, the
Luxembourgs and Choiseuls, Rousseau fled the kingdom. On this occasion
he seems to have been thoroughly frightened; and his conduct was
occasioned neither by ostentation, nor perverse discontent. His first
place of refuge was Neufchâtel, one of the Swiss Cantons, of which the
sovereignty was in the house of Brandenburg. Rousseau was thus for a
time one of the illustrious literary men under the protection of
Frederick the Great, though distant from his philosophical capital.

He appealed, however, to a warmer heart than ever beat in the breast of
the conqueror of Prague. The exiled Earl Marischal of Scotland--a valued
friend of Hume, as of all who became acquainted with him--was then
Governor of Neufchâtel. Subsequently to his flight from his native
country, for his concern in the rebellion of 1715, when he was a mere
youth, he had suffered a long series of hardships, privations, and
uncertainties; until Frederick saw his value, and purchased his services
at such a rate as a friendless exile might not refuse. Adversity, which
too often hardens the selfishness, and debases the propensities of an
aristocracy driven from home by internal convulsions, had but taught him
how much men are dependent on each other, and had opened his heart to a
wider sympathy with his fellow creatures. His opinions were as tolerant
as his nature was kind; and the fugitive could not have sought an asylum
where he would be more sincerely welcomed. The power of the king of
Prussia's representative, was, however, not sufficient to protect him
from the people,--or from himself; and from the time of his flight from
France, those who believed that he sincerely desired a retreat where he
would be safe from all molestation, looked towards Britain. The
following letters from the forfeited earl, at a few months' interval
from each other, chiefly relate to Rousseau. The earl appears to have
been so thoroughly imbued with foreign habits, that he wrote English
with difficulty: most of his letters to Hume are in French, and when he
commences in English, he generally relapses into French. Though so long
employed by the Prussian court, he seems to have been ignorant of
German. It may be observed, however, that French is the vernacular
language of Neufchâtel.


     _April 29._

     In answer to your question, the Donquixotisme you mention
     never entered into my head. I wish I could see you, to answer
     honestly all your questions; for though I had my share of
     folly with others, yet as my intentions were at bottom honest,
     I should open to you my whole budget, and let you know many
     things which are perhaps ill-represented, I mean not truly. I
     remember to have recommended to your acquaintance Mr. Floyd,
     son to old David Floyd, at St. Germains, as a man of good
     sense, honour, and honesty. I fear he is dead: he would have
     been of great service to you in a part of your History since
     1688. Apropos of History, when you see Helvetius, tell I
     desired you to inquire of him concerning a certain History. I
     fancy he will answer you with his usual frankness. I do
     believe Mr. Rousseau will find it impossible to live where he
     finds nobody who understands a word of what he says; there
     occurs so often occasion, even of trifling things necessary,
     that it is a vexation not to understand the language of the
     country. I feel it often, though I understand many words of
     German, such as kleigh, nigh, nogh, ter migh, ter
     Teyfel,[105:1] and others, high sounding as here pronounced,
     and of which the Ter Tunder would, I believe, put to flight
     the delicate ears of the whole town of Sienna.

     I hear you are going to France this summer. If you will come
     to Frankfort on Main, I will meet you there the end of July,
     and stay with you a fortnight. Bon jour.

     N.B.--You have better roads than I, you are strong as a giant,
     and I am growing ten years older every month; so I think my
     offer fair.

     _Oct. 2, 1762._

     Jean Jacques Rousseau, persecuted for having writ what he
     thinks good, or rather, as some folks think, for having
     displeased persons in great power, who attributed to him what
     he never meant, came here to seek retreat, which I readily
     granted; and the king of Prussia not only approved of my so
     doing, but gave me orders to furnish him his small
     necessaries, if he would accept them; and though that king's
     philosophy be very different from that of Jean Jacques, yet he
     does not think that a man of an irreproachable life is to be
     persecuted because his sentiments are singular. He designs to
     build him a hermitage with a little garden, which I find he
     will not accept, nor perhaps the rest which I have not yet
     offered to him. He is gay in company, polite, and what the
     French call _aimable_, and gains ground daily in the opinion
     of even the clergy here. His enemies elsewhere continue to
     persecute him: he is pestered with anonymous letters. This is
     not a country for him: his attachment and love to his native
     town is a strong tie to its neighbourhood. The liberty of
     England, and the character of my good and honoured friend, D.
     Hume, F----i D----r, (perhaps more singular than that of J.
     Jacques, for I take him to be the only historian impartial,)
     draws his inclinations to be near to the F----i D----r. For my
     part, though it be to me a very great pleasure to converse
     with the honest savage, yet I advise him to go to England,
     where he will enjoy

          ----placidam sub libertate quietem.

     He wishes to know, if he can print all his works, and make
     some profit, merely to live, from such an edition. I entreat
     you will let me know your thoughts on this, and if you can be
     of use to him in finding him a bookseller to undertake the
     work: you know he is not interested, and little will content
     him. If he goes to Britain, he will be a treasure to you, and
     you to him, and perhaps both to me (if I were not so old.) I
     have offered him lodging in Keith-hall. I am ever, with the
     greatest regard, your most obedient servant,


At the same time Madame de Boufflers wrote as follows:--



     _Paris, 16th June, 1762._

     Jean Jacques Rousseau, citizen of Geneva, and the author of
     many works with which you are probably acquainted, has
     composed a Treatise on Education, in four volumes, in which he
     sets forth many principles contrary to ours, both in politics
     and religion. As we do not enjoy here the liberty of the
     press, the Parliament, by a decree, just, (if it is, as I
     doubt not, conformable to the laws of the kingdom,) but
     nevertheless rigorous, has decreed the _prise de corps_; and
     it is said that, if he had not taken to flight, he would have
     been condemned to death. I can scarcely think they could have
     proceeded so far against him as a stranger; but, be that as it
     may, it would have been imprudent in him to remain in France
     under such circumstances. He has therefore departed, uncertain
     what asylum he will choose. I have advised him to go to
     England, promising him letters of recommendation to you, and
     other friends. I fulfil my promise, and I cannot, in my
     opinion, choose for him, in all Europe, a protector more
     respectable by his position, and more to be commended for his
     humanity. M. Rousseau is known to the greater part of the
     people in this country for an eccentric man. This epithet,
     according to its true signification, is most justly applied to
     him; for he differs, in many respects, in his modes of acting
     and thinking, from the men of his day. He has an upright
     heart, a noble and disinterested soul. He dreads every
     species of dependence, and consequently would have preferred
     being in France, gaining his subsistence by copying music, to
     receiving benefits even from his best friends, who are anxious
     to make up for his misfortunes. This delicacy may appear
     excessive, but it is not criminal, and it even augurs elevated
     sentiments. He flies from intercourse with the world; he feels
     pleasure only in solitude. This partiality for retirement has
     made him enemies. The self-love of those who court him is
     wounded by his rebuffs; but notwithstanding such apparent
     misanthropy, I do not believe you will find any where, a man
     more gentle, more humane, more compassionate to the sorrows of
     others, and more patient under his own. In short, his virtue
     appears so pure, so contented, so equal, that, until now,
     those who hated him could find only in their own heart reasons
     for suspecting him. As for me, with appearances so much in his
     favour, I would rather be deceived than doubt his sincerity.

     From the opinion that I have of him, sir, he has been judged
     worthy of being known to you; and in procuring him this
     honour, I believe I give the most marked proof of my
     consideration for him.[107:1]

To this Hume made answer in the postscript of the letter cited above.

"P.S.--So far I had wrote in answer to your ladyship's of the 29th of
May, when I was again honoured with yours of the 14th of June. Good God!
madam, how much I regret my being absent from London on this occasion,
which deprives me of the opportunity of showing in person my regard for
your recommendation, and my esteem, I had almost said veneration, for
the virtue and genius of M. Rousseau. I assure your ladyship there is no
man in Europe of whom I have entertained a higher idea, and whom I would
be prouder to serve; and as I find his reputation very high in England,
I hope every one will endeavour to make him sensible of it by
civilities, and by services, as far as he will accept of them. I revere
his greatness of mind, which makes him fly obligations and dependence;
and I have the vanity to think, that through the course of my life I
have endeavoured to resemble him in those maxims.

"But as I have some connexions with men of rank in London, I shall
instantly write to them, and endeavour to make them sensible of the
honour M. Rousseau has done us in choosing an asylum in England. We are
happy at present in a king who has a taste for literature; and I hope M.
Rousseau will find the advantage of it, and that he will not disdain to
receive benefits from a great monarch, who is sensible of his merit. I
am only afraid that your friend will find his abode in England not so
agreeable as may be wished, if he does not possess the language, which I
am afraid is the case: for I never could observe in his writings any
marks of his acquaintance with the English tongue."[109:1]

From these communications, Hume derived the notion that Rousseau had
immediately proceeded to London. The following paragraph, in a letter
from Elliot, indicates the nature of the inquiries pursued under this

     DEAR SIR,--As soon as I received your letter, I applied to Mr.
     Home, who had also heard from you by the same post, and
     desired him to make all possible inquiry after M. Rousseau. If
     he be in London we shall certainly find him out; and I need
     not assure you, that both on account of his own merit, and
     your recommendation, I shall not fail to show him all the
     attention in my power. I should doubt, from the known
     character of the man, whether he would accept a pension if it
     could be procured for him; and should rather apprehend that,
     though this government will protect and tolerate the boldness
     of his pen, yet it will hardly reward it. Rousseau is not the
     only man of genius, the singularity of whose opinions has
     intercepted the rewards due to the superiority of his talents.

In the supposition that he had passed over to England, Hume addressed a
letter to Rousseau, as then in London, which was answered by the Chien
de Diogène, as Voltaire called him, from his retreat in Neufchâtel, on
19th February, 1763. He says he has just received the letter, regrets
that he should have made the mistake of trusting himself among his own
countrymen, who have treated him with insult and outrage, instead of
seeking the hospitable shores of Britain. He does something like justice
to the kindness of Lord Marischal, in the midst of his general mordacity
and discontent; and he praises the wide views, the wonderful
impartiality, the genius of Hume, which would raise him so far above the
rest of his kind, did not the goodness of his heart bring him nearer to
their level.[110:1]

The following letter from Madame de Boufflers, written in English, had
been received in the meantime.


     _July 30._

     How difficult it is, sir, for one very far from being
     insensible to reputation, to refuse the praises of a man,
     whose sincerity and admirable talents render them so valuable.
     But in regard to veracity, and perhaps more to my true
     interest, I am obliged to acknowledge, I stand a great
     distance, for internal or external accomplishments, from the
     favourable opinion you have taken of me, whether, in
     consulting the noble sentiments which ever inspire you with
     sublime ideas, whether in hearkening to some of your
     countrymen, disposed to indulgence towards me, by my
     well-known inclination for their country.

     Perhaps, sir, I confess it with ingenuity, had I been doomed
     to be never personally acquainted with you, I should not have
     generosity enough to correct your judgment of me. But in this
     particular occasion, as in all other, according to my humble
     opinion, right and good are closely united. What a shame
     indeed for me, and disappointment for you, in place of the
     object your imagination has adorned with such shining
     qualifications, to find a person to whom Nature has granted
     but indifferent ones. A great part of my youth is over. Some
     delicacy in features, mildness and decency in countenance, are
     the only exterior advantages I can boast of; and as for
     interior, common sense, improved a little by early good
     reading, are all I possess. My knowledge of the English
     language also is confined, as you can easily perceive. I have,
     indeed, acquired without assistance that which I know of it;
     but if I am entitled to some elegancy, I owe it to the
     repeated readings of your admirable works.

     After this true picture of myself, in which I have struggled
     to exert the noble impartiality and candour which shine in all
     your writings, my first care is, sir, to acknowledge the
     infinite obligations you have conferred upon me by your kind
     letter. I have translated the P. S. to send it to my friend.
     The esteem of such a man must be the best balm for his wounded
     heart. But I am afraid he will not accept the glorious support
     you are so good as to offer him. I fear that the weight of his
     calamities has impaired his health, and he cannot sustain the
     fatigues of a long journey. In his last letter to me, he
     expresses a resolution never to see England upon that account.
     Nevertheless, I am informed since, that new persecutions may
     possibly determine him to alter his mind. An irregular trial
     has deprived him of the natural rights in his own country. The
     commonwealth of Berne, from the example of Geneva and France,
     has burnt his book, and he has been reduced to leave in a
     hurry the asylum that a friend had proffered him there. Such
     are the grievous misfortunes of this virtuous and unhappy man.
     I pity, I love him, and wish earnestly to sooth the sorrows
     under which he labours. Nevertheless, sir, I would fain also
     vindicate the honour of my nation in the eyes of so good a
     judge as you are. The reflection you cast upon it gives
     uneasiness; but mistrusting greatly my capacity, I fear to
     betray the cause I would defend by an enterprise so unequal to
     my force. I dare only to say, that your happy country has not
     attained in a moment the perfect constitution which gives us
     admiration. All convenient and well-calculated laws are not
     framed at once; and those most exceptionable, while they
     stand, deserve obedience and respect.

     Is it possible, sir, that this late unhappy event could
     deprive of the honour of your presence, a country filled with
     your fervent admirers, and where every one will endeavour to
     outdo each other in expressing the veneration and regard you
     so justly deserve? I hope you will not keep this severe
     resolution. If we want a liberty you think an advantage, 'tis
     a reason to pity, and not to punish us. Besides, your case and
     that of M. Rousseau, though both foreigners in France, are
     quite different. Few days before I received your letter, I
     heard that it was a friend of mine who has favoured me with
     your last performance. I am infinitely obliged to him for this
     gracious gift, and to you, sir, for your good intention.

     But what strange a creature will you think me, to venture to
     point a mistake in a work so perfect? In several parts of the
     first volume our countryman Godefroy of Bouillon is named
     Godefroy de Boulogne. You have reasons, perhaps, for the
     alteration, and I am ready to submit to them. I would only
     express my doubts: I hope you will excuse this freedom.

     Since I have gone so far, permit me, sir, to ask your opinion
     upon the last book of M. Rousseau. I should be very glad to
     have my judgment of it confirmed or mended by yours. Nothing
     would be wanting to my satisfaction, if in the same letter,
     where you could grant me the favour I wish for, I was assured
     you had renewed the project to come here, and that you would
     speedily execute it. I am, sir, with esteem, gratitude, and,
     permit me to add, friendship, your most humble servant.

In answer to this letter, Hume says that he had at first regarded it as
a sort of challenge to answer it in French, but that he had given up the
attempt as an unequal contest with "the sole instance of a foreigner,
not habituated to our tongue, who has, from reading alone, become so
entirely mistress of it." He then gives an account of the letter he had
received from Lord Marischal, and says of Rousseau's refusal of the
kindnesses proferred to him,--"Rousseau, with his usual dignity, refused
all these gratuities, though at the same time he desired my lord to
learn from me, whether it were possible for him to gain from the London
booksellers as much money as would suffice for his maintenance; and this
recompense, being the fruit of his own industry, he would have no
scruple to accept of. I think this instance of conduct a kind of
phenomenon in the republic of letters, and one very honourable for M.
Rousseau. One is only apt to wish that he could practise this virtue
with less hardship and difficulty; though we must also confess, that the
difficulty adds to the lustre of it. I have heard, that the circumstance
which deterred him from coming over to England, as he first intended,
was a harsh reflection, which he threw out on the people in his
'Treatise of Education:' if this was his motive, I am persuaded that he
would find it a vain fear, and that every one would rather have been
anxious to show respect to his merit."[113:1]

He then obeys the mandate to criticise the "Emile."

     You deign, madam, to ask my opinion of the new performance of
     M. Rousseau. I know that it becomes me better to form my
     judgment upon yours; but in compliance with your commands, I
     shall not make a secret of my sentiments. All the writings of
     that author appear to me admirable, particularly on the head
     of eloquence; and if I be not much mistaken, he gives to the
     French tongue an energy, which it scarce seems to have reached
     in any other hands. But as his enemies have objected, that
     with this domineering force of genius there is always
     intermingled some degree of extravagance, it is impossible for
     his friends altogether to deny the charge; and were it not for
     his frequent and earnest protestations to the contrary, one
     would be apt to suspect, that he chooses his topics less from
     persuasion, than from the pleasure of showing his invention,
     and surprising the reader by his paradoxes. The "Treatise of
     Education," as it possesses much of the merit, seems also
     exposed to the faults of his other performances; and as he
     indulges his love of the marvellous even in so serious and
     important a subject, he has given a pledge to the public that
     he was in earnest in all his other topics. If I dared to
     object any thing to M. Rousseau's eloquence, which is the
     shining side of his character, I should say, that it was not
     wholly free from the defect sometimes found in that of the
     Roman orator; and that their great talent for expression was
     apt to produce a prolixity in both. This last performance
     chiefly is exposed to this objection; and I own, that though
     it abounds in noble and shining passages, it gave me rather
     less pleasure than his former writings. However, it carries
     still the stamp of a great genius; and, what enhances its
     beauty, the stamp of a very particular genius. The noble pride
     and spleen and indignation of the author bursts out with
     freedom in a hundred places, and serves fully to characterize
     the lofty spirit of the man.

     When I came to peruse that passage of Mons. Rousseau's
     Treatise, which has occasioned all the persecution against
     him, I was not in the least surprised that it gave offence.
     He has not had the precaution to throw any veil over his
     sentiments; and as he scorns to dissemble his contempt of
     established opinions, he could not wonder that all the zealots
     were in arms against him. The liberty of the press is not so
     secured in any country, scarce even in this, as not to render
     such an open attack of popular prejudices somewhat

In 1761, Dr. Blair communicated to Hume the sermon by Dr. Campbell,
which, when subsequently expanded, became the "Dissertation on
Miracles," already referred to.[115:2] On this occasion, Hume wrote in
the following terms to Dr. Blair:--

"DEAR SIR,--I have perused the ingenious performance, which you was so
obliging as to put into my hands, with all the attention possible;
though not perhaps with all the seriousness and gravity which you have
so frequently recommended to me. But the fault lies not in the piece,
which is certainly very acute; but in the subject. I know you will say,
it lies in neither, but in myself alone. If that be so, I am sorry to
say that I believe it is incurable.

"I could wish that your friend had not chosen to appear as a
controversial writer, but had endeavoured to establish his principles in
general, without any reference to a particular book or person; though I
own he does me a great deal of honour, in thinking that any thing I have
wrote deserves his attention. For besides many inconveniences which
attend that kind of writing, I see it is almost impossible to preserve
decency and good manners in it. This author, for instance, says
sometimes obliging things of me, much beyond what I can presume to
deserve, and I thence conclude that in general he did not mean to insult
me; yet I meet with some other passages, more worthy of Warburton and
his followers, than of so ingenious an author.

"But as I am not apt to lose my temper, and would still less incline to
do so with a friend of yours, I shall calmly communicate to you some
remarks on the argument, since you seem to desire it. I shall employ
very few words, since a hint will suffice to a gentleman of this
author's penetration."

This is followed by a particular examination of some parts of Dr.
Campbell's work, which may be perused to most advantage in conjunction
with the Dissertation itself, along with which the letter is generally
printed. He then says,--

"I could wish your friend had not denominated me an infidel writer, on
account of ten or twelve pages, which seem to him to have that tendency,
while I have wrote so many volumes on history, literature, politics,
trade, morals, which, in that particular at least, are entirely
inoffensive. Is a man to be called a drunkard, because he has been seen
fuddled once in his lifetime?"[116:1]

The letter terminates with a recommendation which accounts for the
absence of all observations on religious topics in the correspondence
between Blair and Hume: while it shows that their intercourse had not
always excluded discussions of such a character.

"Having said so much to your friend, who is certainly a very ingenious
man, though a little too zealous for a philosopher, permit me also the
freedom of saying a word to yourself. Whenever I have had the pleasure
to be in your company, if the discourse turned upon any common subject
of literature, or reasoning, I always parted from you both entertained
and instructed. But when the conversation was diverted by you from this
channel towards the subject of your profession; though I doubt not but
your intentions were very friendly towards me, I own I never received
the same satisfaction: I was apt to be tired, and you to be angry. I
would therefore wish, for the future, whenever my good fortune throws me
in your way, that these topics should be forborne between us. I have
long since done with all inquiries on such subjects, and am become
incapable of instruction; though I own no one is more capable of
conveying it than yourself. After having given you the liberty of
communicating to your friend what part of this letter you think proper,
I remain, sir," &c.

Hume afterwards wrote the following letter on the same subject:--


"_January 7, 1762._

"DEAR SIR,--It has so seldom happened that controversies in philosophy,
much more in theology, have been carried on without producing a personal
quarrel between the parties, that I must regard my present situation as
somewhat extraordinary, who have reason to give you thanks for the civil
and obliging manner in which you have conducted the dispute against me,
on so interesting a subject as that of miracles. Any little symptoms of
vehemence, of which I formerly used the freedom to complain, when you
favoured me with a sight of the manuscript, are either removed or
explained away, or atoned for by civilities, which are far beyond what I
have any title to pretend to. It will be natural for you to imagine,
that I will fall upon some shift to evade the force of your arguments,
and to retain my former opinion in the point controverted between us;
but it is impossible for me not to see the ingenuity of your
performance, and the great learning which you have displayed against me.

"I consider myself as very much honoured in being thought worthy of an
answer by a person of so much merit; and as I find that the public does
you justice with regard to the ingenuity and good composition of your
piece, I hope you will have no reason to repent engaging with an
antagonist, whom, perhaps, in strictness, you might have ventured to
neglect. I own to you, that I never felt so violent an inclination to
defend myself as at present, when I am thus fairly challenged by you,
and I think I could find something specious at least to urge in my
defence; but as I had fixed a resolution, in the beginning of my life,
always to leave the public to judge between my adversaries and me,
without making any reply, I must adhere inviolably to this resolution,
otherwise my silence on any future occasion would be construed an
inability to answer, and would be matter of triumph against me."[119:1]

He then, in the passage already cited,[119:2] describes the occasion on
which the "Theory of Miracles" was suggested to him.

In answer to this, there is a letter by Campbell, in which he endeavours
to rival his opponent in candour, politeness, and gentlemanlike feeling.
The happy courtesy with which he apologizes for the occasionally
irascible tone of his essay, shows that the retired northern divine
possessed in no small degree the qualities that might have adorned a
more showy station.


     _25th June, 1762._

     The testimony you are pleased to give in favour of my
     performance, is an honour of which I should be entirely
     unworthy, were I not sensible of the uncommon generosity you
     have shown in giving it. Ever since I was acquainted with your
     works, your talents as a writer have, notwithstanding some
     differences in abstract principles, extorted from me the
     highest veneration. But I could scarce have thought that, in
     spite of differences of a more interesting nature, even such
     as regard morals and religion, you could ever force me to love
     and honour you as a man. Yet no religious prejudices (as you
     would probably term them,) can hinder me from doing justice to
     that goodness and candour, which appear in every line of your

     It would be in vain to dissemble the pleasure which it gives
     me, that I am thought to have acquitted myself tolerably in a
     dispute with an author of such acknowledged merit. At the same
     time, it gives me real pain, that any symptoms of vehemence
     (which are not so easily avoided in disputation as one would
     imagine,) should give so generous an adversary the least
     ground of complaint. You have (if I remember right, for I have
     not the book here,) in the appendix to the third volume of
     your "Treatise on Human Nature," apologized for using
     sometimes the expressions--'Tis certain, 'Tis evident, and the
     like. These, you observe, were in a manner forced from you by
     the strong, though transient light in which a particular
     object then appeared, and are therefore not to be considered
     as at all inconsistent with the general principles of
     scepticism which are maintained in the Treatise. My apology is
     somewhat similar. There is in all controversy a struggle for
     victory, which I may say compels one to take every fair
     advantage that either the sentiments or the words of an
     antagonist present him with. But the appearances of asperity
     or raillery, which one will be thereby necessarily drawn into,
     ought not to be constructed as in the least affecting the
     habitual good opinion, or even the high esteem, which the
     writer may nevertheless entertain of his adversary.


[74:1] The following contrasted extracts represent some of the
variations above alluded to. The passages on the one side will be found
in the first, and those in the other in the last corrected edition of
the "History of the Stuarts."

_First edition._

     _Later editions._

_King James_ inculcated those monarchical tenets with which he was so
much infatuated. P. 54.

     Inculcated those monarchical tenets which he had so strongly

_Divine right._ And though these doctrines were perhaps more openly
inculcated and more strenuously insisted on during the reign of the
Stuarts, they were not then invented. P. 120.

     And though it is pretended that these doctrines were more
     openly inculcated, and more strenuously insisted on, during
     the reign of the Stuarts, they were not then invented.

_America._ The seeds of many a noble state have been sown in climates
kept desolate by the wild manners of the ancient inhabitants; and an
asylum secured in that solitary world for liberty and science, if ever
the spreading of unlimited empire, or the inroad of barbarous nations,
should again extinguish them in this turbulent and restless hemisphere.
P. 134.


_Charles I._ However moderate his temper, the natural illusions of
self-love, joined to his education under James, and to the flattery of
courtiers and churchmen, had represented his political tenets as certain
and uncontroverted. P. 148.

     However moderate his temper, the natural and unavoidable
     prepossessions of self-love, joined to the late uniform
     precedents in favour of prerogative, had made him regard his
     political tenets as certain and uncontroverted.

Loans were by privy seal required of several: to others the way of
benevolence was proposed; methods supported by precedents, condemned by
positive laws, and always invidious even to times more submissive and
compliant. In the most despotic governments, such expedients would be
regarded as irregular and disorderly. P. 159.

     Of some, loans were required: to others, the way of
     benevolence was proposed: methods supported by precedent, but
     always invidious even in times more submissive and compliant.
     In the most absolute governments, such expedients would be
     regarded as irregular and unequal.

The new counsels which Charles had mentioned to the parliament, were now
to be tried in order to supply his necessities. Had he possessed any
military force on which he could depend, 'tis likely that he had at once
taken off the mask, and governed without any regard to the ancient laws
and constitution: so high an idea had he imbibed of kingly prerogative,
and so contemptible a notion of the privileges of those popular
assemblies, from which he thought he had met with such ill usage. But
his army was new levied, ill-paid, and worse disciplined; no way
superior to the militia, who were much more numerous, and who were in a
great measure under the influence of the country gentlemen. It behoved
him therefore to proceed cautiously, and to cover his enterprises under
pretext of ancient precedents. P. 158.

     The new counsels which Charles had mentioned to the
     parliament, were now to be tried, in order to supply his
     necessities. Had he possessed any military force on which he
     could rely, it is not improbable that he had at once taken off
     the mask, and governed without any regard to parliamentary
     privileges: so high an idea had he received of kingly
     prerogative, and so contemptible a notion of the rights of
     those popular assemblies, from which he very naturally thought
     he had met with such ill-usage. But his army was new levied,
     ill-paid, and worse disciplined; nowise superior to the
     militia, who were much more numerous, and who were in a great
     measure under the influence of the country gentlemen. It
     behoved him therefore to proceed cautiously, and to cover his
     enterprises under pretence of ancient precedents, which,
     considering the great authority commonly enjoyed by his
     predecessors, could not be wanting to himself.

In most national debates, though the reasons may not be equally
balanced, yet are there commonly some plausible topics, which may be
pleaded even in favour of the weaker side; so complicated are all human
affairs, and so uncertain the consequences of every public measure. But
it must be confessed, that in the present case, nothing of weight can be
thrown into the opposite scale. The imposition of ship-money, is
apparently the most avowed and most dangerous invasion of national
privileges, not only which Charles was ever guilty of, but which the
most arbitrary princes in England, since any liberty had been
ascertained to the people, had ever ventured upon. P. 218.


Perhaps the King, who dreaded above all things the House of Commons, and
who never sufficiently respected the constitution, thought, that, in his
present urgent distresses, he might be enabled to levy subsidies, by the
authority of the peers alone. But the employing so long a plea of
necessity, which was evidently false, and ill grounded, rendered it
impossible for him to avail himself of a necessity which was now at last
become real and inevitable. P. 247.

     Perhaps the King, who dreaded above all things the House of
     Commons, and who expected no supply from them on any
     reasonable terms, thought, that in his present distresses, he
     might be enabled to levy supplies by the authority of the
     peers alone. But the employing so long the plea of a
     necessity, which appeared distant and doubtful, rendered it
     impossible for him to avail himself of a necessity which was
     now at last become real, urgent, and inevitable.

_The attempt to seize the Five Members._

This strange resolution, so incompatible with the majesty of a king, so
improper even for the dignity of any great magistrate, was discovered to
the Countess of Carlisle, sister to Northumberland, a lady of great
spirit, wit, and intrigue. P. 318.

     This resolution was discovered to the Countess of Carlisle,
     sister to Northumberland, a lady of spirit, wit, and intrigue.

[78:1] In the MSS. R.S.E.

[78:2] See the letter itself in the Clarendon Papers, ii. 201-3.

[79:1] The following are some instances of the alterations made on the
first edition of his History. The collection of these instances has been
facilitated by the use of a copy of the first edition of the Histories
of the Houses of Stuart and Tudor, in the possession of a friend, on
which the alterations embodied in the subsequent editions are written in
red ink.

_In the first edition._

     _As altered._



Such was the terror, respectable and rare in a monarch.

     So great was the terror, respectable as well as rare, in a

May be esteemed a great reflection on his memory.

     May be deemed a great reflection on his memory.



We come now to relate.

     We are now to relate.

Under pretext of a hunting match.

     On pretence of a hunting match.

Making account that.

     Thinking himself assured that.

Their concurrence became requisite.

     Their concurrence became necessary.

Along with.

     Together with.

Esteemed impartial.

     Deemed impartial.

To a pitch beyond what had ever been known since.

     To a height beyond what had been known since.

Entirely requisite for their future safety.

     Absolutely necessary for their future safety.

When the exception really occurs, even though it be not precedently

     When the exception really occurs, even though it be not
     previously expected.

Any way displeased at the, &c.

     Any-wise displeased at the, &c.

Monarchical tenets with which he was so much infatuated.

     Monarchical tenets which he had so strongly imbibed.

Graced with ecclesiastical titles.

     Endowed with ecclesiastical titles.

Inflicting this sentence.

     Pronouncing this sentence.

Confined in the Tower.

     Confined to the Tower.

Debarred from such sports.

     Debarred such sports.

Raleigh pretended not.

     Raleigh did not pretend.

War with the Spaniards.

     War against the Spaniards.

As to the circumstance of the narration.

     As to the circumstance of the narrative.

Would have had a most just cause.

     Would have had a just cause.

Such as together with.

     Such as along with.

Interposal in the wars.

     Interposition in the wars.

Effectuate a marriage.

     Effect a marriage.

He was utterly devoid.

     He was utterly destitute.

Headlong in his passions.

     Headstrong in his passions.

Obtained at last.

     Obtained at length.

A bill declarative.

     A bill declaratory.

Forced into a breach.

     Constrained to make a breach.

Had sat.

     Had sitten.

However little inclined.

     How little soever inclined.

Besides being a most atrocious violence.

     Besides its being a most atrocious act of violence.

Precedent to Strafford's trial.

     Previous to Strafford's trial.

Afraid that.

     Afraid lest.

Was ordinarily lodged in.

     Was commonly lodged in.

Was the person who introduced.

     Was the person that introduced.

During all the time when.

     During the time that.

Reduced to shifts.

     Reduced to extremities.

The Star Chamber, who were sitting.

     The Star Chamber, which was sitting.

A story which, as it marks the genius of parties, may be worth reciting.

     A story which, as it discovers the genius of parties, may be
     worth relating.

Contempt entertained towards.

     Contempt entertained for.

Could such an attempt be interpreted treason.

     Could such an attempt be considered as treason.

Lay great weight upon.

     Lay great stress upon.

Devoid of temporal sanction.

     Destitute of temporal sanction.

Parliament designed to levy war.

     Parliament intended to levy war.

It would ascertain the devoted obedience.

     It would ensure the devoted obedience.

His dignity was exempted from pride.

     His dignity was free from pride.

When the exception really occurs, even though it be not precedently

     When the exception really occurs, even though it be not
     previously expected.

To those effects which were operated.

     To those effects which were wrought.

[81:1] A tragedy by John Home.

[83:1] The militia of England had, owing to the unpopularity of the
foreign mercenaries in British pay, been strengthened and enlarged. A
proposal was entertained, to extend the system to Scotland: but it was
not executed till many years afterwards. There were several pamphlets on
the subject. Probably the one here referred to is the well known
"History of the Proceedings in the case of Margaret, commonly called
Peg, only lawful Sister of John Bull, Esq.;" attributed to Adam
Ferguson, which will have to be mentioned farther on.

[84:1] Hume seems to have himself commenced a translation of Plutarch.
See above, vol. i. p. 417.

[85:1] Stewart's Life of Robertson.

[87:1] It will be observed, that Hume's strongest argument from internal
criticism is, that the state of society and feeling exhibited in these
poems was that of the middle ages, and involved the spirit of chivalry
peculiar to that period.

[89:1] Mackenzie's Account of Home, p. 155. The original is in the MSS.
R.S.E. Mr. Mackenzie says, "I could not read this letter without being
confirmed in an observation which I have often ventured to make, on the
uncertainty of the evidence arising from _letters_, when the writers are
dead, and the motives of their correspondence cannot be known."

[90:1] It is not Cowley but Butler who makes this sarcasm.

     For Hebrew roots although they're found
     To flourish most in barren ground.

[90:2] MS. R.S.E.

[92:1] Private Correspondence of David Hume with several distinguished
persons, between the years 1761 and 1776. London, 1820, 4to.

[93:1] Private Correspondence, p. 269.

[94:1] MS. R.S.E.

[97:1] Depuis long-tems, Monsieur, je suis combattue par des sentimens
contraires. L'admiration que me cause votre sublime ouvrage, et l'estime
qu'il m'inspire pour votre personne, vos talents, et votre vertu, m'ont
fait naître souvent le désir de vous écrire, pour vous exprimer les
sentimens dont je suis profondément pénétrée. D'un autre côté,
considérant que je vous suis inconnue, le peu de prix que doit avoir mon
suffrage, la réserve et l'obscurité même qui convient à mon sexe: j'ai
craint d'être accusée de présomption, et de me faire connoître à mon
désavantage, d'un homme de qui je regarderai toujours la bonne opinion
comme le bien le plus flatteur et le plus précieux. Néanmoins, puisque
les réflexions que j'ai faites à cet égard ne paroissent avoir beaucoup
de force, un penchant irrésistible les rend infructueuses, et je vais
ajouter mon exemple à mille autres, pour justifier la vérité de cette
remarque que j'ai lue dans votre histoire de la Maison de
Stuard,--"Men's views of things are the result of their understanding
alone; their conduct is regulated by their understanding, their temper,
and their passions,"--puisque quand ma raison me dit que je devrais me
tenir dans le silence, l'enthousiasme, où je suis, m'empêche de le
pouvoir garder.

Quoique femme, et dans un âge qui n'est pas encore avancé, et malgré la
dissipation de la vie qu'on tient dans ce pays, ayant toujours aimé la
lecture, il est peu de bons livres, en quelque langue et en quelque
genre que ce soit, que je n'ai lus, ou dans l'original, ou dans les
traductions; et je puis vous assurer, monsieur, avec une sincérité qui
ne doit pas vous être suspecte, que je n'ai trouvé aucun qui réunit à
mon jugement, autant de perfections que le vôtre. Je ne sais point de
termes qui puissent vous rendre ce que j'aprouve en lisant cet ouvrage.
Je me suis attendrie, transportée, et l'émotion qu'il me cause est en
quelque façon pénible par sa continuité. Il élève l'âme, il remplit le
cœur de sentimens d'humanité et bienfaisance. Il éclaire l'esprit, et
en lui montrant la véritable félicité intimement liée à la vertu, il lui
découvre par le même rayon le seul et unique but de tout être
raisonnable. Au milieu des calamités qui environnent de toutes parts le
Roi Charles Premier, l'on voit la paix et la sérénité briller avec éclat
et l'accompagner sur l'échafaud; tandis que le trouble et les remords,
cortége inséparable du crime, suivent les pas de Cromwell et s'asseyent
sur le trône avec lui. Votre livre apprend encore combien l'abus est
voisin des meilleures choses, et les réflexions qu'il fait faire à ce
sujet, doit [doivent] augmenter la vigilance et la défiance de soi-même.
Il anime d'une noble émulation, il inspire l'amour de la liberté, et
instruit en même tems à la soumettre au gouvernement sous lequel on est
obligé de vivre. En un mot c'est un _terra fecunda_ de morale et
d'instructions présentées avec des couleurs si vives qu'on croit les
voir pour la première fois.

La clarté, la majesté, la simplicité touchante de votre style, me ravit.
Les beautés sont si frappantes, que malgré mon ignorance dans la langue
Angloise, elles n'ont pu m'échapper. Vous êtes, Monsieur, un peintre
admirable. Vos tableaux ont une grâce, un naturel, une énergie, qui
surpasse ce que l'imagination même peut attendre.

Mais quelles expressions employerai-je pour vous faire connoitre l'effet
que produit sur moi votre divine impartialité? J'avois besoin en cette
occasion de votre propre éloquence, pour bien rendre ma pensée. En
vérité je crois avoir devant les yeux l'ouvrage de quelque substance
céleste, dégagé des passions, qui pour l'utilité a daigné écrire les
évènemens de ces derniers tems.

Je n'ose ajouter, que dans tout ce qui sort de votre plume vous vous
montrez un philosophe parfait, un homme d'état, un historien plein de
génie, un politique éclairé, un vrai patriote, toutes ces sublimes
qualités sont si fort au dessus des connoissances d'une femme, qu'il me
convient peu d'en parler; et j'ai déjà grand besoin de votre indulgence
pour les fautes que j'ai commises centre la discrétion et la bienséance
par l'excès de ma vénération pour votre mérite. Je vous la demande,
Monsieur, et en même tems le plus profond secret. La démarche que je
fais a quelque chose d'extraordinaire. Je craindrois qu'elle ne
m'attirât le blâme, et je serois fâchée que le sentiment qui me l'a
dictée pût être inconnu. J'ai l'honneur d'être, Monsieur, votre très
humble et très obéissante servante,


On me dit, Monsieur, que vous avez en vue de venir en France, à Paris.
Je souhaite bien vivement que vous exécutiez cette résolution, et
pouvoir contribuer à vous en rendre le séjour agréable.

Ce 15 Mars, 1761. A Paris.[97:A]

     [97:A] MS. R.S.E.

[101:1] Private Correspondence, &c. 1-4.

[101:2] MS. R.S.E.

[101:3] Private Correspondence, 5.

[105:1] It will be observed that this is an attempt to spell those
expressions according to the pronunciation.


_A Paris, 16 Juin, 1762._

Jean Jacques Rousseau, citoyen de Genève, et auteur de plusieurs écrits
qui vous sont vraisemblablement connus, vient de composer un Traité sur
l'Education, en quatre volumes, où il expose plusieurs principes
contraires aux nôtres, tant sur la politique, que sur la religion. Comme
nous ne jouissons pas ici de la liberté de la presse, le Parlement par
un arrêt, juste, s'il est comme je n'en doute pas conforme aux lois du
royaume, mais néanmoins rigoureux, l'a décrété de prise de corps, et
l'on prétend que s'il n'avoit pas pris la fuite, il auroit été condamné
à la mort. J'ai de la peine à croire qu'on eût pu aller si loin sur la
qualité d'étranger. Mais quoi qu'il en soit, il eut été imprudent de
lui, de rester en France dans de pareilles circonstances. Il est donc
parti, incertain quel asile il choisiroit. Je lui ai conseillé de se
retirer en Angleterre, lui promettant des lettres de recommendation pour
vous, Monsieur, et pour d'autres personnes de mes amis. Je m'acquitte de
ma promesse, et je ne puis pas à mon avis lui choisir dans tout
l'Europe, un protecteur plus respectable par ses liaisons, et plus
recommendable par son humanité. M. Rousseau passe chez la plupart des
gens en ce pays pour un homme singulier. A prendre cette épithète selon
la vraie signification, elle lui est justement donnée, car il diffère, a
beaucoup d'égards, de la façon d'agir et de penser des hommes du jour.
Il a le cœur droit, l'âme noble et désintéressée. Il craint toute
espèce de dépendance, et par cette raison il a mieux aimé, étant en
France, gagner sa vie en copiant de la musique, que de recevoir les
bienfaits de ses meilleurs amis, qui s'empressoient de réparer sa
mauvaise fortune. Cette délicatesse peut paroître excessive, mais elle
n'a rien de criminelle, et même elle suppose des sentimens élevés. Il
fuit le commerce du monde, il ne se plaît que dans la solitude, ce goût
pour la retraite lui a fait des ennemis. L'amour propre de ceux qui
l'ont recherché s'est trouvé blessé de ses refus. Mais malgré sa
misanthropie apparente, je ne crois pas qu'il y ait nulle part, un homme
plus doux, plus humain, plus compâtissant aux peines des autres, et plus
patient dans les siennes, en un mot, sa vertu paroît si pure, si
contente, si uniforme, que, jusqu'à, présent, ceux qui le haïssent,
n'ont pas trouvé que dans leur propre coeur des raisons pour le
soupçonner. Pour moi, avec des apparences aussi avantageuses, j'aimerois
mieux en être trompé que de me défier de sa sincérité.

D'après l'opinion que j'en ai monsieur, je l'ai jugé digne d'être connu
de vous, et en lui procurant cet honneur, je crois lui donner la preuve
la plus marquée du cas que je fais de lui.[107:A]

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

[109:1] Private Correspondence, &c. pp. 8, 9.

[110:1] This letter is printed in the Private Correspondence, p. 58.
There are two duplicate originals of it among the MSS. R.S.E.

[113:1] Private Correspondence, &c. p. 54.

[115:1] Private Correspondence, p. 54.

[115:2] Vol. i. p. 283.

[116:1] The following anecdote of Hume, by Lord Charlemont, seems
appropriate to this passage. "He never failed, in the midst of any
controversy, to give its due praise to every thing tolerable that was
either said or written against him. One day that he visited me in
London, he came into my room laughing and apparently well pleased. 'What
has put you into this good humour, Hume?' said I. 'Why man,' replied he,
'I have just now had the best thing said to me I ever heard. I was
complaining in a company where I spent the morning, that I was very ill
treated by the world, and that the censures put upon me were hard and
unreasonable. That I had written many volumes, throughout the whole of
which there were but a few pages that contained any reprehensible
matter, and yet that for those few pages, I was abused and torn to
pieces.' 'You put me in mind,' said an honest fellow in the company,
whose name I did not know, 'of an acquaintance of mine, a notary public,
who having been condemned to be hanged for forgery, lamented the
hardship of his case; that after having written many thousand
inoffensive sheets, he should be hanged for one line.'" _Hardy's Memoirs
of Charlemont_, p. 121.

[119:1] _European Magazine_, 1785, p. 250.

[119:2] Vol. i. p. 57.


1762-1763. Æt. 51-52.

     The Publication of the History anterior to the Accession of
     the Tudors--Completion of the History--Inquiry how far it is a
     complete History--Hume's Intention to write an Ecclesiastical
     History--Opinions of Townsend and others on his History--
     Appreciation of the Fine Arts--Hume's House in James's Court--
     Its subsequent occupation by Boswell and Johnson--Conduct
     of David Mallet--Hume's Projects--The Douglas Cause--
     Correspondence with Reid.

In 1762 there was published, in two quarto volumes, the "History of
England, from the Invasion of Julius Cæsar, to the Accession of Henry
VII." The farther back we proceed from those periods of which a full
narrative of historical events is preserved by contemporary chroniclers,
into those more obscure ages when even the lines of kings are hardly
preserved, and fragments of laws, or of long obsolete literature, and
antiquarian relics, are the historian's only guide, the less
satisfactory is Hume's history, when compared with other historical
works. The earliest part is thus the least valuable. He had here,
however, to encounter difficulties which we are only at this day able to
estimate, in the absence of those materials which the industry of
antiquaries has lately brought to light, to so great an extent, as
almost necessarily to supersede Hume's "History of England" during the
early ages, as a source of historical knowledge.[121:1]

But both in this and the other departments of his work, we are bound to
estimate Hume, as we do great workmen in all departments of mental
labour, not by the state of his science at the present day, but by that
in which he found it. To comprehend how far it may be practicable for
any one mind to create a full and satisfactory history of the island of
Great Britain, without having the advantage of the previous labours of
many minds, occupied in elucidating the details of the various branches
of knowledge with which he has to deal, let us cast a casual glance at
the prominent topics which must be fully discussed in such a History, if
it be a satisfactory work.

The historian should be master of every scrap of information contained
in Greek or Roman authors, about the connexion of the people of the
ancient world with our island. In the works of Cæsar and Tacitus this
will be a simple matter; but scattered about among the productions of
the Panegyrists, and in other such obscure quarters, there are many
important incidental notices, which will not be so easily found or so
satisfactorily interpreted. To this the investigator must add more
recondite stores of knowledge, collected from etymological
investigations among the roots of languages--Celtic and Teutonic. He
must study Strabo, Ptolemy, and the other geographers; and interpreting
the information collected from them, and the incidents derived from the
other sources above alluded to, with his etymological inquiries, he must
endeavour to solve the vexed questions about the migration of
races--whether the Cimbri were pure Celts? whether the Welsh are the
descendants of that race? whether the Caledonii, with whom Agricola
fought, were Celts? who and what were those mysterious people, called
the Picts?

There must be some criticism, however unsatisfactory it may be, on the
worship anterior to the introduction of Christianity, and on the
vestiges of that and of other early customs supposed to be supplied by
the remnants of ancient masonry and engineering, with which our island
abounds. The historian must next be able to show what is truly known,
and what is not, regarding the inroads of the Teutonic tribes, and must
be able to fathom the learning of the German antiquaries on this
department of history. Here the early literature of Ireland, of which so
much has lately been printed by O'Conor and others, and the relics of
Scandinavian metrical histories, will widen the inquiry, while they
render it more satisfactory.

Having got these settlers from the Teutonic tribes, the Saxons as they
are generally called, established in the island, the peculiar internal
policy, national character, and literature of Britain, begin to assume
a shape under the eye of the historian, and to gather round them their
distinctive attributes as he proceeds. He will soon have to deal with
the birth of laws and customs, which, modelled to the progress of an
increasing population and civilisation, are still in daily practice.

From this epoch downwards, he has to watch the changes of the national
literature. Observing it in its purely Anglo-Saxon period, he must
estimate the extent to which it was altered by the adoption of
Norman-French as a court language, while Anglo-Saxon still continued to
be the tongue of the common people; and mark the continued existence of
this fundamental Teutonic speech, and its action upon the language of
the court, until the former became the established literary language of
the day, the latter merely imparting to it one of its characteristic
features. Thus tracing these elements from their respective sources down
to the days of Chaucer, the influence of the revival of classical
learning upon modern language and thought must find a place, and English
literature must be described in its progress towards and arrival at full
manhood. Along with this inquiry, there should be an ancillary
investigation into the causes why the language and literature of the
Scottish lowlands have so long differed from those of England, though
both springing from the same root.

Returning to the Anglo-Saxon period, another and more laborious inquiry
opens in the department of the laws and public institutions. There must
be a search after those which were peculiar to the Anglo-Saxons; and in
dealing with authorities posterior to the conquest, the historian must
carefully sift them, that he may ascertain the extent to which any law
or custom was undoubtedly Anglo-Saxon. After having ascertained how
much of the spirit of feudal institutions had tinged the purely Saxon
usages, he must next follow the progress of feudalism abroad, and fully
explain the effect produced on Britain by its full grown importation at
the era of the Conquest. In conjunction with this large inquiry, the
jurisprudence of Rome must be kept in view; first, as some relics of it
in municipal institutions, and otherwise, may have been associated with
the very earliest forms of internal organization in modern Europe; and
secondly, after its letter had been buried for centuries, as it was
resuscitated by the civilians and canonists, and brought in array
against the common law of England, and amalgamated with the feudal
system in Scotland. From these elements the history of Parliament and of
municipal bodies, the prerogatives of the crown, and the rights and
privileges of the subject, together with the practical administration of
the law, ought all to be developed in their origin and growth. The state
of knowledge and of opinion among the people at large, on political
matters, and particularly on the manner in which they are governed,
should form a part of this constitutional inquiry.

The history of religion should occupy a conspicuous place in the
historian's studies. In the folios of the Bollandists, no inconsiderable
portion of the scanty records of the civil history of the period are to
be found. A full and patient study of the Roman Catholic creed and
polity in their rise and development, is necessary for the effectual
employment of the knowledge thus acquired; and it is needless to say how
many other creeds and systems must be studied by the historian of
Britain. By observing its mere results on the outward history of a
people, the inquirer will never know the real influence of any system of
religious tenets. A brief survey shows us the outward demonstrations.
But to be acquainted with the character of the internal impulses of any
religious creed, to see how the fire glows and radiates within the bosom
of the votary, we must study the vital elements of the creed itself with
industry and with zeal.

The language and literature of the country have already been alluded to.
The state of the arts at different times must be carefully watched and
explained. To accomplish this task, the historian should possess a wide
knowledge of the principles and practice of art: not that conventional
knowledge which teaches him how to distinguish from all that are below
them those efforts which are entitled to the approbation of the
fastidious, but the catholic spirit, which enables the mind fully to
estimate progress before perfection is reached.

All the departments of the historian's knowledge are more or less
blended with each other. From the sixth century downwards, for several
ages, the coinage of the realm only marks the state of the arts or
serves to adjust disputed chronologies: gradually, however, the
historian feels it becoming involved with more complex elements
connected with the state of society, and at last the great question of
the currency and the monetary system of the country has to be grappled
with. Here the whole field of political economy is opened up. It is
needless to say, that the historian, especially he who treats of a
people in any degree civilized, must be thoroughly imbued with political

The state of manufactures and of the sciences should not be neglected. A
history of Britain during the nineteenth century, containing no account
of the triumphs of the steam engine, or of the progress of railway
engineering, would give a very imperfect view of the living progress of
the nation. The history of the early period would be more satisfactory,
if it informed us when the pump and the potter's wheel were first used
in Britain. Closely akin to this subject is the progress of agriculture,
which, however, is a matter simpler and more easy of attainment than
many of the historian's other objects of inquiry.

In truth, it may be safely said, that every circumstance that can be
discovered concerning the particular country, and every thing, whether
animate or inanimate that is on its surface, comes within the compass of
its history, using that word in the sense of merely civil
history,--unless in so far as it belongs to what is natural history. And
yet even from this science civil history has many lights to receive.
Human physiology is intimately connected with the elucidations of the
historian; and it would appear that, in regard to the influence of
political institutions on the physical as well as the moral state of
races of men, we are still only on the threshold of knowledge. Here the
physiologist, and the recorder of political events, who heretofore have
travelled on different roads, may some day or other find a common object
of exertion, and may tell us, by their united labours, why the race that
inhabited ancient Egypt, from being the most inventive, should have been
among the most supine of people; why the Chinese should have passed
through an epoch of active discovery, and should have thenceforth,
unlike the rest of the world, neither forgotten nor improved the fruits
of their original enterprise; why the Celts, once the nurses of European
learning, should, at a later time, have appeared as if doomed to retire
before the ardent genius of the Teutonic race; and why this race, after
being long inferior to other branches of the Caucasian family, should
appear, with British enterprise and German thought, likely to absorb
the faculties of the rest of mankind.

The historian must not wholly neglect other natural productions. The
inferior animals and the vegetable kingdom are intimately connected with
the fate of the human beings who are the immediate object of his
labours. With geology he may appear to have comparatively little
concern; yet the marble of Greece, and the coal and iron of Britain,
have had no little influence on the destinies of these nations.

Hume did so much towards the completion of that circle of knowledge with
which the historian has to deal, that he was the first to add to a mere
narrative of events, an inquiry into the progress of the people, and of
their arts, literature, manners, and general social condition. This
attempt was so original, that, as it embodied in some measure the theory
developed in Voltaire's "Essai sur les Moeurs," first published in 1756,
when the first volume of the "History of the Stuarts" had been two years
before the public, it was supposed that Hume might have borrowed the
idea from some fragments of that work which had been surreptitiously
printed with the title "Abrégé de l'Histoire Universelle." There seems
to be no room, however, for such a supposition. Hume's own "Political
Discourses" are as close an approach to this method of inquiry as the
work of Voltaire; and if we look for such productions of other writers
as may have led him into this train of thought, it would be more just to
name Bacon and Montesquieu.[129:1] The works of such authors as Guizot
and Hallam may teach us that much had to be added to Hume's system of
historical composition, to render it perfect; but they do so in the same
manner as the last steam engine shows us how many improvements have been
made on the inventions of Watt.

       *       *       *       *       *

We now resume the correspondence with Millar. The letter immediately
following, puts beyond a doubt, what had only been partially believed,
that Hume had, at one time, expressed an intention of writing an
ecclesiastical history. Of the manner in which he would have executed
such a task, opinions will widely vary.


"_Edinburgh, 15th March, 1762._

"DEAR SIR,--I am very glad that you are in so good a way, and that you
think so soon of making a new edition. I am running over both the
ancient history and the Tudors, and shall send you them up by the wagon
as soon as they are corrected. Please tell Mr. Strahan, to keep
carefully this copy I send up, as well as that which I left of the
Stuarts; for if you intend to print an octavo edition next summer, it
will be better to do it from these copies which are corrected, than from
the new edition, where there will necessarily be some errors of the

"I give you full authority to contradict the report, that I am writing
or intend to write an ecclesiastical history; I have no such intention;
and I believe never shall. I am beginning to love peace very much, and
resolve to be more cautious than formerly in creating myself enemies.
But in contradicting this report, you will be so good as not to impeach
Mr. Mallet's veracity; for 'tis certain I said to Lord Chesterfield
(from whom Mr. Mallet first had it) that I had entertained such a
thought; but my saying so proceeded less from any serious purpose, than
from a view of trying how far such an idea would be relished by his

"I have not laid aside thoughts of continuing my History to the period
after the Revolution. It is not amiss to be idle a little time; but it
is probable I shall tire of that kind of life: and if I then find that
the public desires to see more of me, and that the great will not shut
up their papers from me, I shall set to work in earnest.

"I never thought that Lord Kames' Elements would be a popular book; but
I hoped, that, as you engage for no copy money, it would certainly
defray the charge of paper and print; and on that footing alone I
recommended it to you. I find the author's expectations raised up to a
vast pitch, and indeed there are some parts of the work ingenious and
curious; but it is too abtruse and crabbed ever to take with the public.
As to the advice you desire me to give him, it is certainly very
salutary; but I fancy neither I nor any other of his friends will ever
venture to mention it. The admonitions, which come from you, are
commonly the most effectual; and if this book do not sell, I think it
were not amiss, that you tell him the plain truth without disguise or
circumlocution. I find the booksellers here have sold off all their
share of my Essays, and are desirous of another edition, which, however,
I told them, I believed you was not ready for. I desire to be informed
two or three months before you put it to the press: because I intend to
make some considerable alterations on some parts of them.

"I hope Mrs. Millar intends to pay us a visit next summer, and that you
will be of the party. Please make my most sincere respects to her. I am,
dear Sir," &c.[132:1]


"_8th April, 1762._

"I shall answer your story of Charles Townsend very fully, by another
story of the same gentleman. Three years ago, when I was in London, I
was told by a friend, that Mr. Townsend said, that my History of the
Stuarts (the only one then published,) was full of gross blunders in the
facts: he had consulted all the authentic documents, particularly the
journals of the House of Commons, and found it so. When I made light of
this information, as knowing somewhat of Mr. Townsend's hasty manner of
speaking, my friend said, that I ought not so much to neglect the
matter; because Mr. Townsend had told him that Mr. Dyson, clerk to the
House of Commons, a man of knowledge and solidity, had made to him the
same observation. I was a little surprised and alarmed at this; and I
went to Mr. Elliot, whom I desired to speak to Mr. Dyson, and to tell
him that there was nothing in the world I desired so much as to be
informed of my errors, and that he would oblige me extremely by pointing
out those mistakes. Mr. Dyson replied, that he had never in his life
spoke of the matter to Mr. Townsend; and that though he differed from me
in my reasonings and views of the constitution, he had observed no
blunders in facts, except one with regard to the dispensing power:
which, by the bye, was the one also remarked to me by the Speaker, and
which I corrected in the second edition. It was not an error with regard
to the reign of James Second, but with regard to that of King William,
which I had not sufficiently examined. I assure you there is not a
quotation that I did not see with mine own eyes, except two or three at
most, which I took from Tyrrel or Brady, because I had not the books
referred to. That there is no mistake in such a number of references,
would be rash or even absurd to affirm: that the printer also has not
sometimes made mistakes in the name of the author or in the number of
the page quoted, is what I dare not aver: for I only compared the sheet
now and then with my manuscript, and was contented to be as correct as
possible in the text. I knew that these mistakes could neither be
frequent nor material. But if people, finding a few here and there,
point them out, and give them as a specimen of the whole, I know no
remedy for this malice, but to allow them to go on. Men of candour will
judge otherwise without scrutiny: and men of diligence and industry will
find that the case is otherwise, upon scrutiny.[133:1]

"I have heard of Charles Townsend's extolling and decrying me
alternately, according as the humour bites; and all the world knows this
to be his character. He is perhaps angry with me at present, because I
did not wait of him when I was in London. It is strange, that great men
in England should slight and neglect men of letters when they pay court
to them, and rail at them when they do not. I have a regard to Mr.
Townsend as a man of parts, I believe of very great parts; but I attach
myself to no great man, and visit none of them but such as happen to be
my friends, and particular acquaintance. I wish they would consider me
as equally independent with themselves, or more so. However, there is no
necessity of enraging Mr. Townsend farther by the story I told you in
the first paragraph; and therefore I would not have you communicate it
to any body, except a very particular friend whom you can trust. You may
read the second paragraph to every body."[134:1]

In the following letter to Millar, we find him professing his ignorance
of the practical application of the fine arts in engraving. Although he
has written on the philosophy of taste, we find no traces in his
writings of what the Germans have denominated the aesthetic; no sense of
an internal emotion arising from the contemplation of works of art. In
his travels, he had an opportunity of seeing many fine pictures, but he
never mentions one; and it does not appear, from any incident in his
life, or allusion in his letters, which I can remember, that he had ever
really admired a picture or a statue.[134:2]


"_Edinburgh, 17th May, 1762._

"I like much better your publishing in volumes than in numbers. Though
this last method has been often practised, it has somewhat of a quackish
air, which you have always avoided, as well as myself. I know not what
to do for frontispieces; I have no manner of skill myself in designing,
and am not able to point out the most proper subjects, nor the method of
executing them. On the whole, I think it an expense which may be spared;
but if you continue in the resolution of having some such ornament, I
could write a letter to Allan Ramsay, who, I hope, would take the pains
of directing the engraver. As to my head, I think that also a
superfluous expense; and as there is no picture of me in London, I know
not how it can be executed: with submission to you, would it not be
better to throw these charges on the paper and print? I do not imagine,
because these ornaments have helped off the sale of Smollett's History,
that mine would be the better for them.[135:1] These arts are seldom
practised twice with the same success.

"I do not lose view of my design to continue my History, at least for
two reigns more; but I question whether party prejudices with regard to
me, are as yet sufficiently subsided, to enable me to carry on that
work, without meeting with repulses and disgusts from those who have the
materials in their power, which must serve for the foundation of my
narrative: a little farther time will, I hope, operate that

He concludes this letter by saying, "I remove my house this week to
James's Court."

Entering a low gateway which pierces the line of lofty houses along the
Lawnmarket, one finds oneself in a square court, surrounded by houses,
which have now evidently fallen to the lot of humbler inhabitants than
those for whom they were erected. These spaces, walled off by the
intervening houses from the main street, were in the Scottish
metropolis, like the similar edifices of the French nobility, frequently
designed with the view of protecting those who dwelt within the gate
from the unwelcome intrusion of either legal or illegal force. But it is
probable that James's Court scarcely dates back to times so lawless, and
that it was built early in the eighteenth century. The plan of a closed
court was, perhaps, adopted as a means of enabling a small community to
have the civic functions of lighting and cleaning performed more
accurately than they were then administered to the inhabitants at large.

Entering one of the doors opposite the main entrance, the stranger is
sometimes led by a friend, wishing to afford him an agreeable surprise,
down flight after flight of the steps of a stone staircase, and when he
imagines he is descending so far into the bowels of the earth, he
emerges on the edge of a cheerful crowded thoroughfare, connecting
together the Old and New Town; the latter of which lies spread before
him, a contrast to the gloom from which he has emerged. When he looks up
to the building containing the upright street through which he has
descended, he sees that vast pile of tall houses standing at the head of
the Mound, which creates astonishment in every visiter of Edinburgh.
This vast fabric is built on the declivity of a hill, and thus one
entering on the level of the Lawnmarket, is at the height of several
stories from the ground on the side next the New Town. In Hume's day, a
lake lay not many yards from the base of the building; and the whole
space now occupied by the streets and squares of the New Town, was open
ground, covered with woodland in those places where it did not consist
of agricultural ground or barren heath. A full view of the surrounding
country must have been possessed by every floor in this mass of
buildings. I have ascertained that by ascending the western of the two
stairs facing the entry of James's Court, to the height of three
stories, we arrive at the door of David Hume's house, which, of the two
doors on that landing-place, is the one towards the left.[137:1]

Of the first impression made on a stranger, at that period, when
entering such a house, a vivid description is given by Sir Walter Scott
in "Guy Mannering;" and in Counsellor Pleydell's library, with its
collection of books and the prospect from the window, we have probably
an accurate picture of the room in which Hume spent his studious hours
when he was in his own house in Edinburgh.

When Boswell describes the veritable locality of the house in which he
did actually receive the illustrious Dr. Johnson, he tells us at the
same time that it was in James's Court. Hume had then left his house,
and it appears that James Boswell became his tenant.[137:2] One cannot
therefore resist the conclusion, that the house thus consecrated, was
the very one which had been occupied by Hume. Would Boswell communicate
such a fact, or tell what manner of man was the landlord of the
habitation into which he had, under the guise of hospitality, entrapped
the arch-intolerant?[138:1] Who shall appreciate the mental conflict
which Boswell may have experienced on this occasion! On the one side he
would have to consider, whether it would not be more candid to let the
appalling truth be known. But would Johnson have been able to "sleep o'
nights" in such a house? The dilemma might not have been so easily
solved as the dinner with Wilkes.

Hume's house was, during his absence in France, occupied by Dr. Blair;
so that the old flat, three stories up from the entrance in James's
Court, had in its day sheltered inmates of no common eminence.


"_Edinburgh, 22d Nov. 1762._

"DEAR SIR,--As yours of the 16th of last month did not require any
immediate reply, I have used the freedom to delay answering it. I am
glad to find your two new editions so well advanced: I hope they will be
successful. Some people tell me, that, as the two volumes last published
do not shock any party prejudices, they have been better received than
the former, and procure a good reception for the whole. If I should see
them make any farther progress, it would be the best encouragement for
me to proceed in writing the more recent history. I am far from losing
sight of that project; but it is better not to begin it, till matters
are more ripe for the execution, and till I find, that every one would
frankly concur in opening their cabinets, and allowing me the use of all
papers which may be necessary for my purpose. I had a letter from Mr.
Mallet lately, by which I find, that he will no longer be an obstacle in
my way; for he tells me that his History of the Duke of Marlborough is
ready for the press; which is more than I or most people expected.

"Lord Marischal wrote me lately, that the celebrated Rousseau had taken
shelter with him at Neufchâtel; but that he had thoughts of coming to
England, and desired to know of me, if he could make an edition of his
works by which he could gain a little money for his subsistence, as he
was not interested. He wished also, that I could recommend him to a
bookseller. You have told me, that you do not care to deal in French
books; but if he should publish any new work, might he not have a
translation of it ready to be published at the same time with the
original? And would not you be willing to deal with him in that shape? I
should think him very fortunate, if he were in your hands. I beg my
compliments to Mrs. Millar, who, I hope, is at Bath, more for her
amusement than her health. I am, dear sir, yours sincerely.

"P.S.--As your edition on royal paper is not numerous, I shall only
desire three copies of it to be sent me, and shall reserve the other
three for the octavo edition. Be so good therefore as to embark three
copies in any parcel you send to Edinburgh. The peace will now make the
intercourse of trade more open between us. The mention of peace reminds
me to thank you for your assistance in making out my subscription last
year, which is likely to turn out so much to my advantage. The stocks
are now very high; but I suppose will not come to their full height this
twelvemonth, and till then I fancy you will not think it prudent in me
to sell out."[140:1]

That Mallet had his History of the Duke of Marlborough ready for press,
was, as Hume gently says, more than he or most people expected. However,
Mallet seems to have convinced him that it really was the case; and his
success in carrying conviction to the prince of sceptics, is a brilliant
instance of that mingled cunning and impudence by which he had made
himself a great man. The literary history of the life of Marlborough is
well known. The duchess had left £1000 to Glover and Mallet, as a fee
for a life to be written by them jointly. Glover gave up his share of
the labour and its reward, and Mallet obtained the £1000. The service he
gave in return, consisted entirely in the labour of convincing the
world, by hints and skilfully mysterious announcements, that he had made
considerable progress in the work, though he died without having
commenced it; and if this systematic deception had been the service for
which he was paid, it would have been admitted that he had done his
duty.[141:1] The following letter is a memorable instance of the manner
in which Mallet conducted his operations; and it shows at the same time
his infinitely lofty notion of his own position. He had managed to be a
great author among the aristocracy, and to be a great aristocrat among
authors; and the air of calm superiority which he adopts towards Hume
is not the least remarkable feature in the production.

DAVID MALLET _to_ HUME.[142:1]

     DEAR SIR,--I have done at last, what nothing but the greatest
     regard for the writer, and the truest friendship for the man,
     could have made me submit to; I have gone over both your
     volumes again, with the eye and attention of a mere
     grammarian. The task of looking after verbal mistakes, or
     errors against the idiom of a tongue, though not unnecessary,
     is trivial, and disgusting in the greatest decree; but your
     work, and you, deserved it of me: and I could not have
     forgiven myself had I not treated yours as I hope and expect
     you will do mine.

     I have not been idle; though I give no account of my progress
     to one in a hundred I converse with; as it contains several
     particulars of the reigns of the two brothers, Charles and
     James, the most interesting though the least known parts of
     King William's, and embraces the whole of Queen Anne's reign,
     together with some anecdotes relative to her successor,--it
     will swell into two quarto volumes. I am resolved, too, that
     the translation, which will be done here by an excellent hand
     under my own eye, shall appear at the same time the original
     does. These are some of the causes that occasion the
     complaints I have been teased with: and there are many others,
     that would make no figure on paper, though they are
     unavoidable and consume much irretrievable time. But what is
     well done is done soon; and, as I have not you in my way, I
     should not feel the least uneasiness, if all our other
     complete historians should write the same period twenty times
     over. My work, both in matter and form, would still be new. If
     you are upon the undertaking, which you desired might remain a
     secret, I dare assure you, that besides the merit of accuracy
     and impartiality, it will have all the charm of novelty; for
     such a work, on a rational and philosophical plan, is a
     thing, as Milton has it, unattempted yet in prose or rhime.
     Adieu. I am, dear sir, most faithfully yours.

                                           D. MALLET.[143:1]

The following letter is a not less curious revelation of Mallet's


"_Edinburgh, 21st April, 1763._

"DEAR SIR,--I had a letter from Mr. Mallett, in which he tells me, that
he has run over carefully the two volumes of my History last published,
and has wrote all his remarks, as well on the language as matter, on the
margin. He said, that he would find an opportunity to send them to me. I
replied to him, that I was extremely obliged to him, (as I certainly
am,) and that if he sent them to you, you would soon find an opportunity
of conveying them to me. I wish you would speak to him on that subject,
as you have occasion to meet with him, and would send the books
carefully to me by the first parcel you send to Edinburgh. I should
desire you also to give him a new copy in place of this which he has
sacrificed; but if there be only a word here and there, I can efface
them, after transcribing them into my own copy, and can afterwards
restore the book as good as ever.

"In the same letter, he complains much of a report, that I was writing
the English History since the revolution: which he says he cannot
believe, because it would be a very invidious task to him. I answered
him, that by his former letter I imagined his History was just ready for
the press; that I had not wrote a line of the History of that period;
but if I undertake it, one great inducement would be the hopes of
seeing his volumes published before me; by which means, I could hope
for much light and great materials; that as he was near twenty years
advanced before me, it was ridiculous to fear that I could overtake him;
and that I was glad of the report he mentioned, if it would prove a spur
to his industry. I find Mr. Mallet would fain be like the dog in the
manger, neither eat himself nor allow others to eat. I should have a
breach with him, and might expect all ill offices from him, if I pursue
my plan; but this would be a frivolous consideration, where his anger
would be so ill-founded. As soon as the octavo edition of my History is
finished, please send me a copy of it. I should be pleased to run it
over; and make an errata to it. I am," &c.[144:1]

The following letter to Elliot shows the zeal with which Hume carried on
that systematic removal from his works of all passages tending to favour
popular rights, which has been already alluded to.

HUME _to_ GILBERT ELLIOT _of Minto_.

"_Edinburgh, 12th March, 1763._

"DEAR SIR,--In this new edition I have corrected several mistakes and
oversights, which had chiefly proceeded from the plaguy prejudices of
Whiggism, with which I was too much infected when I began this work. I
corrected some of these mistakes in a former edition; but being resolved
to add to this edition the quotations of authorities for the reigns of
James I. and Charles I., I was obliged to run over again the most
considerable authors who had treated of these reigns; and I happily
discovered some more mistakes, which I have now corrected. As I began
the History with these two reigns, I now find that they, above all the
rest, have been corrupted with Whig rancour, and that I really deserved
the name of a party writer, and boasted without any foundation of my
impartiality: but if you now do me the honour to give this part of my
work a second perusal, I am persuaded that you will no longer throw on
me this reproachful epithet, and will acquit me of all propensity to
Whiggism. If you still continue to upbraid me, I shall be obliged to
retaliate on you, and cry, _Whig vous même_.

"In page 33, vol. v. you will find a full justification of the
impositions laid on by James I. without authority of parliament: in p.
113, 114, 389, a justification of persecuting the Puritans: in p. 180, a
justification of Charles I. for levying tonnage and poundage without
consent of parliament: in p. 100, I acquit James I. of prevarication,
with which I had before rashly charged him. This last mistake indeed was
innocent, and I can easily account for it. I had read Buckingham's
narrative in Rushworth and Franklyn, the two opposite collectors: I saw
what I thought the same paper in the Parliamentary History; but I did
not attend to a line at the bottom, in which it is said, that the paper
is taken from the records more full, than in the preceding collection:
when I read it lately, I found the article here quoted, so that this
blunder proceeded not from any spirit of Whiggery.

"I now justify James II. more explicitly in his exercise of the
dispensing power, which was intimately interwoven with the constitution
and monarchy--see vol. vi. p. 393-394, 395-400. In vol. iv. p. 322-323,
I mention a very remarkable vein of tyranny, or exertion of arbitrary
power, practised in that period,[146:1] and which came to my knowledge
since the first publication of that volume.

"There are many other improvements and alterations throughout the whole;
and I am glad that Millar has of himself made you an offer of this
edition. Without flattering you I must say, that there is nobody whom I
more desire to see my writings as correct as I can make them; and I was
thinking to desire Mr. Millar to make you this offer.

"But there is no end of correcting. In this new edition, vol. v. p. 205,
I have inserted a pretty curious story of Sir George Markham, which I
took from Lord Lansdowne, whom I esteemed safe authority for a Whig
story: but I have since been shown Hobart's Reports, which is infinitely
more authentic than Lord Lansdowne; and the story is there told so
entirely, as to justify the King and the Star-chamber, so that you may
still reproach me that the villanous leaven is not entirely purged

"I am engaged in no work at present; but if I tire of idleness, or more
properly speaking, of reading for amusement, I may probably continue my
History. My only discouragement is, that I cannot hope to finish this
work in my closet, but must apply to the great for papers and
intelligence, a thing I mortally abhor.

"Is it not hard and tyrannical in you, more hard and tyrannical than
any act of the Stuarts, not to allow me to publish my Dialogues? Pray,
do you not think that a proper dedication may atone for what is
exceptionable in them? I am become much of my friend Corbyn Morrice's
mind, who says, that he writes all his books for the sake of the

"I am very glad to hear from Lord Minto, that you intend to pass a great
part of the ensuing summer in this country. Though you be now become a
great man, I doubt not but I should receive very much satisfaction from
your society and conversation; that is, if I be not jostled out by
suitors who press in upon me.

"Meanwhile, I am, dear sir, your affectionate friend and

He writes to Millar, on 10th March, 1763, "I am in a good measure idle
at present: but if I tire of this way of life, I shall certainly
continue my History, and have no thoughts of any other work. But in this
state of affairs, I suppose your people of rank and quality would throw
the door in my face, because I am a Scotsman."[147:2]

And again at a later date:


"_Edinburgh, 28th March, 1763._

"I never lose view of the project of continuing my History. I may
perhaps very soon gather silently together the books which will enable
me to sketch out the reigns of King William and Queen Anne, and shall
finish them afterwards, together with that of George I., in London. But
to tell you the truth, I have an aversion to appear in that capital
till I see that more justice is done to me with regard to the preceding
volumes. The languishing sale of this edition makes me conjecture that
the time is not yet come; and the general rage against the Scots is an
additional discouragement. I think the Scotch minister is obliged to
make me some compensation for this.

"I am told that Mr. Ralph is dead, who had certainly made a large
collection of books and pamphlets for his work. I should be glad to know
into whose hands they are fallen, and would purchase them if they could
be got at a reasonable price.

"I hear Dr. Armstrong has sent you over a most violent renunciation of
Wilkes's friendship.[148:1] Wilkes is indeed very blamable in indulging
himself so much in national reflections; which are low, vulgar, and
ungenerous, and come with a bad grace from him, who conversed so much
with our countrymen. My compliments to Mrs. Millar, who, I hope, will
favour me with a visit this summer. I am, dear sir, yours

On the same day he writes to Adam Smith:

"I set up a chaise in May next, which will give me the liberty of
travelling about; and you may be sure a journey to Glasgow will be one
of the first I shall undertake. I intend to require, with great
strictness, an account how you have been employing your leisure, and I
desire you to be ready for that purpose. Wo be to you if the balance be
against you! Your friends here will also expect that I should bring you
with me."[149:1]

A few letters written at this time to his friends, on the subject of the
arrears of half-pay due for his services as judge-advocate,[149:2]
afford the following passages of general interest. To Oswald he says, on
3d April--

"I shall add, that it is the only thing in my life I ever asked, it is
the only thing I ever shall ask, and consequently, it is the only thing
I ever shall obtain. Those who assist me in procuring it do me a great
favour, and I very willingly stand obliged to my friends for their good
offices: but of the government and ministry, I ask it as my due. I
imagined that after Lord Bute's consent was obtained, all difficulties
had been surmounted."[149:3]

To another correspondent he says,--

"To tell you the truth, dear Crawford, I made it a rule from the
beginning of my life never to seek a favour of any man; and this humour,
which, if you be very indulgent to me, you will call modesty, if less
so, pride, I was unwilling to relinquish, after having maintained it
through my youth, and during more difficult circumstances than those in
which I am at present placed."[149:4]

Hume, like every Scotsman of his day, who concerned himself with any
thing beyond his own domestic circle, took a deep interest in the
progress of the Douglas cause. It is difficult, at the present day, to
conceive the excitement which this litigation between private parties
occasioned in the public mind. Men about to meet each other in company,
used to lay an injunction on themselves not to open their lips on the
subject, so fruitful was it in debates and brawls; and yet too often
found that their prudence was no match for their enthusiasm. Hume
adopted the view that the alleged children of Lady Jane Douglas were
spurious. The Court of Session decided in favour of this opinion by a
majority of one; but their decision was afterwards reversed by the House
of Lords. The reversal occasioned many severe animadversions on Lord
Mansfield, both by Hume and his friends.


"_Edinburgh, 21st July, 1763._

"DEAR SMITH,--To-day is the grand question decided by our judges,
whether they will admit of any farther proof with regard to the Douglas
affair, or whether they will rest contented with the proofs already
produced. Their partiality is palpable and astonishing; yet few people
think that they will dare to refuse inquiring into facts so remarkable
and so strongly attested. They are at present sitting, but I hope to
tell you the issue in a postscript. Our friend Johnstone[150:1] has
wrote the most super-excellentest paper in the world, which he has
promised to send to you this evening in franks. Please to deliver the
enclosed to Colonel Barré. I am," &c.[150:2]

We have already found one distinguished fellow-countryman of Hume
controversially attacking his works. But another and greater critic was
soon to appear. Dr. Thomas Reid was preparing for the press his "Inquiry
into the Human Mind," which he published in 1764. His was the greatest
mind which set itself in opposition to Hume's system, in British
literature; and he was great, because he examined the works of the
sceptical philosopher, not in the temper of a wrangler or partisan, but
in the honest spirit of an investigator, who is bound either to believe
in the arguments he is examining, or to set against them a system which
will satisfy his own mind, and the minds of other honest thinkers. Reid
was born in 1710, and he was exactly a year older than Hume, for the
birth-day of both was on the 26th of April.[151:1] The philosopher of
common sense, thus brought the accumulated thought and learning of
advanced years to bear on a series of works which the sceptic had
commenced in early youth. There is something in Reid's method of laying
down his principles, and explaining their application, that disinclines
the reader to allow him the palm of original genius, and suggests the
idea that he is a personification of the natural sagacity and useful
industry of his countrymen. But this feeling arises more from his hatred
of such apparent paradoxes as Hume loved, from his courting rather than
avoiding what is familiar and intelligible, and from the titles he gave
to his books, than from deficiency of true originality. Whether his
merit lay in his genius or his industry, he raised a new fabric of
philosophy out of part of those fragments to which the sceptic had
reduced previous systems. The term "common sense," which he used to
characterize his system, had been long employed in philosophy; and if
_bon sens_ may be held its equivalent, it is to be found in the
preliminary dissertation of a French translation of Hume's miscellaneous
essays, published in the same year as Reid's Inquiry.[152:1] Here, and
occasionally by Reid, it is used in its popular sense, expressing
philosophical opinions derived from the general notions of mankind. In
this sense it is an application of induction to mental operations. It
views the opinions of men at large as so many experimental facts, which,
as in the case of the physical operations of nature, may be subjected to
the rules of induction. Hume himself held that mental phenomena are as
regular, and as capable of having laws of nature applied to them, as
physical phenomena. But even if he were right, there is a disturbing
influence at force in the circumstance, that, as the operation of
induction is itself a phenomenon of the same class with those professed
to be subjected to its observation, the philosopher is apt to embody in
his writings the intuitions, if they may be so termed, of his own mind,
instead of giving such an accurate transcript of the results of external
observation as the physical inquirer is generally enabled to present.

Indeed, it is in promulgating the convictions of his own mind as a
metaphysical thinker, more than in his avowed project of inducting from
the common phenomena of the every-day world, that Reid's writings are
most valuable. In the one case he has told us how far Hume's philosophy
is at variance with the general opinions of mankind; in which he is met
by the comprehensive argument, that Hume may, nevertheless, be right,
and the rest of mankind wrong. But in travelling beyond his avowed
object he certainly has anticipated many of those metaphysical
arguments, on which the basis of the sceptical philosophy has been
attacked; and the world has, perhaps, yet to learn how far the great
system of the German philosophers is under obligations to this powerful

Before he put his "Inquiry into the Human Mind," to press, Reid desired,
through Blair's interposition, to subject the manuscript to Hume's
inspection. Fearing that this work might too closely follow the
Warburton school, Hume met the application with the rather petulant
remark: "I wish that the parsons would confine themselves to their old
occupation of worrying one another, and leave philosophers to argue with
temper, moderation, and good manners." But, after inspecting the
manuscript, he thus addressed its author:

     By Dr. Blair's means, I have been favoured with the perusal of
     your performance, which I have read with great pleasure and
     attention. It is certainly very rare that a piece so deeply
     philosophical is wrote with so much spirit, and affords so
     much entertainment to the reader; though I must still regret
     the disadvantages under which I read it, as I never had the
     whole performance at once before me, and could not be able
     fully to compare one part with another. To this reason,
     chiefly, I ascribed some obscurities, which, in spite of your
     short analysis, or abstract, still seem to hang over your
     system; for I must do you the justice to own that, when I
     enter into your ideas, no man appears to express himself with
     greater perspicuity than you do; a talent which, above all
     others, is requisite in that species of literature which you
     have cultivated. There are some objections, which I would
     willingly propose, to the chapter "Of sight," did I not
     suspect that they proceed from my not sufficiently
     understanding it; and I am the more confirmed in this
     suspicion, as Dr. Blair tells me that the former objections I
     made, had been derived chiefly from that cause. I shall
     therefore forbear till the whole can be before me, and shall
     not at present propose any further difficulties to your
     reasonings. I shall only say that, if you have been able to
     clear up these abstruse and important subjects, instead of
     being mortified, I shall be so vain as to pretend to a share
     of the praise; and shall think that my errors, by having at
     least some coherence, had led you to make a more strict review
     of my principles, which were the common ones, and to perceive
     their futility.

     As I was desirous to be of some use to you, I kept a watchful
     eye all along over your style; but it is really so correct,
     and so good English, that I found not any thing worth the
     remarking. There is only one passage in this chapter, where
     you make use of the phrase, _hinder to do_, instead of _hinder
     from doing_, which is the English one; but I could not find
     the passage when I sought for it. You may judge how
     unexceptionable the whole appeared to me, when I could remark
     so small a blemish. I beg my compliments to my friendly
     adversaries, Dr. Campbell, and Dr. Gerard, and also to Dr.
     Gregory, whom I suspect to be of the same disposition, though
     he has not openly declared himself such.[154:1]

This letter called forth the following answer, valuable as an
acknowledgment of the services which the Scottish school of philosophy
owed to Hume.


     _King's College, 18th March, 1763._

     SIR,--On Monday last, Mr. John Farquhar brought me your letter
     of February 25th, enclosed in one from Dr. Blair. I thought
     myself very happy in having the means of obtaining at
     second-hand, through the friendship of Dr. Blair, your opinion
     of my performance: and you have been pleased to communicate
     it directly in so polite and friendly a manner, as merits
     great acknowledgments on my part. Your keeping a watchful eye
     over my style, with a view to be of use to me, is an instance
     of candour and generosity to an antagonist, which would affect
     me very sensibly, although I had no personal concern in it,
     and I shall always be proud to follow so amiable an example.
     Your judgment of the style, indeed, gives me great
     consolation, as I was very diffident of myself in regard to
     English, and have been indebted to Drs. Campbell and Gerard
     for many corrections of that kind.

     In attempting to throw some new light upon these abstruse
     subjects, I wish to preserve the due mean betwixt confidence
     and despair. But whether I have any success in this attempt or
     not, I shall always avow myself your disciple in metaphysics.
     I have learned more from your writings in this kind, than from
     all others put together. Your system appears to me not only
     coherent in all its parts, but likewise justly deduced from
     principles commonly received among philosophers; principles
     which I never thought of calling in question, until the
     conclusions you draw from them in the "Treatise of Human
     Nature" made me suspect them. If these principles are solid,
     your system must stand; and whether they are or not, can
     better be judged after you have brought to light the whole
     system that grows out of them, than when the greater part of
     it was wrapped up in clouds and darkness. I agree with you,
     therefore, that if this system shall ever be demolished, you
     have a just claim to a great share of the praise, both because
     you have made it a distinct and determinate mark to be aimed
     at, and have furnished proper artillery for the purpose.

     When you have seen the whole of my performance, I shall take
     it as a very great favour to have your opinion upon it, from
     which I make no doubt of receiving light, whether I receive
     conviction or no. Your friendly adversaries, Drs. Campbell and
     Gerard, as well as Dr. Gregory, return their compliments to
     you respectfully. A little philosophical society here, of
     which all the three are members, is much indebted to you for
     its entertainment. Your company would, although we are all
     good Christians, be more acceptable than that of St.
     Athanasius; and since we cannot have you upon the bench, you
     are brought oftener than any other man to the bar, accused and
     defended with great zeal, but without bitterness. If you write
     no more in morals, politics, or metaphysics, I am afraid we
     shall be at a loss for subjects. I am, respectfully, sir, your
     most obliged humble servant.

                                         THOMAS REID.[156:1]


[121:1] The works prepared by the Record Commission, whether it be true
or not that it has failed to fulfil the services expected from so large
an expenditure of the public money, present the sources of British
history on a very different scale from that in which they appeared
before Hume; and if he had lived in the present day, he would not have
attempted to write the history of the first fourteen centuries in less
than three years; or, attempting it, would have palpably overlooked
materials which, in his own time, he could not have found access to.
Among such sources may be viewed, Domesday Book, the Rotuli Hundredorum,
the many records of the various courts of justice, the "Parliamentary
writs, or writs of military summons, together with the records and
muniments relating to the suit and service due and performed to the
king's high court of parliament and the councils of the realm, as
affording evidence of attendance given at parliaments and councils;" the
remains of Anglo-Saxon legislation, collected under the name of "Ancient
laws and institutions of England," and the "Ancient laws and institutes
of Wales."

To these must be added the many antiquarian labours of private
individuals or societies, such as the county histories, the works
circulated by the numerous book clubs, and the inquiries into the early
ecclesiastical history, which the controversies on church polity, for
which this age is becoming peculiar, have excited. The publication of
charters and other documents connected with private rights has opened a
means of becoming acquainted with contemporary habits and institutions,
slow certainly but sure. Besides his labours in the Record Commission,
Sir Francis Palgrave has excavated much curious but not attractive
matter, of which the world will never know the value till some Hume
shall arise to give it shape and symmetry.

It has been a usual practice to rank those who, by such critical
inquiries, ascertain the truth regarding minute historical propositions,
in the category of "harmless drudges." But perhaps the character has
been applied to the really useful workers in this field, as inaptly as
it was appropriated by Dr. Johnson to the race of Lexicographers, in a
moment of bitter cynicism. Antiquarianism, archæology, palæology, or
whatever name it may receive, is a field in which there are many paltry
workers; and these are sometimes, from adventitious circumstances,
conspicuous enough to give a tone in popular estimation to the science.
Dates are but one, and perhaps an inferior branch, of the subject; yet
the labours of Petau, of Antine Durand and Clemencet the authors of the
"Art de vérifier les dates," of Newton, Hailes, and Nicolas, would be
enough to vindicate the dignity of this species of inquiry. It is,
indeed, an essential one to history; and where it has been vaguely or
unscientifically applied, the foundations of historical speculation are
rotten. The prevalent failing of antiquaries is the inability to
distinguish the important from the trifling; to perceive that the labour
which might be necessary to fix the era of the restoration of the study
of the civil law in Europe, would be ill bestowed on an inquiry into the
foundation of some inconsiderable rectorship, or the birth of some
undistinguished landed proprietor. But there is perhaps as much
worthless historical Speculation as trifling Antiquarianism extant in
literature. But it does not follow in either case, from the defects of
the injudicious, that the able and accomplished followers of the subject
were ill employed. A late and signal instance may be adduced of the
intimate connexion of the speculative and the minute departments of
history. Dr. Allen, in his "Inquiry into the rise and progress of the
royal prerogative," maintaining that the older kings of England did not
perform public acts until they had taken the coronation oath of fidelity
to the people, found that there was just one exception, in the case of
Richard II. which disconcerted his theory. It was subsequently shown by
Sir Harris Nicolas, in his "Chronology of History," that in "Rymer's
Fœdera," and other public documents, the regnal years of that reign had
been by mistake antedated a year.

But while it does not follow that the one occupation is less dignified
than the other, it is pretty clear that they cannot, to any great
extent, be both followed by the same person. The limits of human
capacity, and the shortness of human life, seem to forbid such an union;
for literature has produced no one who unites the qualities of a Camden,
a Mabillon, and a Montfouçon, with those of a Hume and a Montesquieu,
though Gibbon and Niebuhr have perhaps come nearest to the union. Mr.
D'Israeli says, (Curiosities of Literature, ii. 182,) "The time has
perhaps arrived, when antiquaries may begin to be philosophers, and
philosophers antiquaries. The unhappy separation of erudition from
philosophy, and of philosophy from erudition, has hitherto thrown
impediments in the progress of the human mind, and the history of man."
But unless that author has himself achieved the united title, by showing
that James I. was a man of great mind, and by characterizing political
economy as a mere "confusion of words," the combination appears not to
have yet been accomplished; and indeed the simple physical impossibility
of the same person who brings the fabric to perfection, having time to
produce the raw materials, seems to render it necessary that in all such
histories as that which Hume undertook, the antiquary shall precede the

[129:1] It does not appear that even the surreptitious fragments of
Voltaire's work were printed earlier than the year in which the first
volume of the "History of the Stuarts" was published--1754. In the
Essai, Voltaire thus contrasts Hume's sagacity as an historian with the
propagators of monkish legends. "Les moines Frédegaire et Aimoin le
disent: mais ces moines, sont-ils des De Thou et des Humes?" Edit. 1785,
vol. i. p. 235.

[132:1] MS. R.S.E.

[133:1] It must be observed, that this method of referring to
authorities and collating them, is, even by Hume's account of it, one
which a scrupulous investigator would call slovenly. The admission of
any authorities at second hand is, to the extent to which it may be
carried, a breach of the historian's duty. To make sure that he had
rightly estimated their meaning on a first perusal, he should have
collated all his references in proof.

[134:1] MS. R.S.E.

[134:2] In a letter to Millar, dated 8th October, 1763, he says, on the
occasion of receiving a copy of a series of engravings, which have not
yet been surpassed, "I have been obliged to Mr. Strange for a present of
all his prints. He is a very worthy man, whom I value much, and
therefore I desire you would send him a copy of this new edition of my

[135:1] In a letter to Millar, of 6th April, 1758, (MS. R.S.E.) he thus
alludes to Smollett's work: "I am afraid the extraordinary run upon Dr.
Smollett, has a little hurt your sales; but these things are only

[135:2] MS. R.S.E.

[137:1] Information communicated by Joseph Grant, Esq.

[137:2] This is shown by a paper of no great importance in itself, among
the MSS. R.S.E. It is simply a document of instructions for defending an
action against Hume, by a builder for repairs. It is in his own hand,
and begins,--

"At Whitsunday last, Mr. Boswell, advocate, left Mr. Hume's house in
James's Court; and Lady Wallace, dowager, came to it. Mrs. Boswell at
that time sent for Adam Gillies, mason, to repair some plaister which
was broken. Having by this means got access to the house, he went about
and teased Lady Wallace, by telling her that many other things needed
repairs. She frequently bid him let her alone, for she saw no occasion
to trouble the landlord for any thing. Notwithstanding this, he came to
Mr. Hume, and told him that the stone pavement in the kitchen, under the
coal bunker, was all shattered, and must be repaired; and that he was
sent by Lady Wallace to tell him so. Mr. Hume having entire trust in
Lady Wallace's discretion, gave him orders to repair that pavement of
the bunker. Gillies brought him in an account for many other repairs on
the pavement of the kitchen. Mr. Hume told him that he had exceeded his
orders; and that he would not pay him till he should see Lady Wallace,
who was at that time in the country. When she came to town, she told Mr.
Hume the fact, and that Gillies had come to him, not only without her
orders but contrary to them. At the same time, Mrs. Boswell, who had
lived two years in the house, told him, that when she left it, she saw
nothing in the kitchen pavement which needed repairs. Mr. Hume therefore
refused to pay Gillies for any thing, except for the plaister, and also
for whitening the kitchen, for which he had orders. This is the cause
before the court."

[138:1] It is supposed to have been of Hume that, when some one, in Mrs.
Piozzi's presence, observed, that he had the _lumières_, Johnson said,
"Just enough to light him to hell." Boswell mentions his having uttered
a remark about Hume, too gross to be committed to paper. It is said
that, when in Hume's presence, a mutual friend offered to make Johnson
acquainted with him, the author of the "Rambler" roared out, "No, sir."

[140:1] MS. R.S.E.

[141:1] It is pretty well known, that he managed to persuade Garrick
that a niche would be found, in the life of the first commander of his
day, for the first dramatist of the succeeding generation. The manager
immediately asked if Mallet had given up writing for the stage:
fortunately he discovered that he had not; he had a manuscript play in
his pocket.

With Mrs. Mallet, who was in all respects worthy of her husband, Hume
had some acquaintance; but he does not appear to have had much respect
for her. Lord Charlemont says, "I never saw him so much displeased, or
so much disconcerted, as by the petulance of Mrs. Mallet, the conceited
wife of Bolingbroke's editor. This lady, who was not acquainted with
Hume, meeting him one night at an assembly, boldly accosted him in these
words, 'Mr. Hume, give me leave to introduce myself to you; we Deists
ought to know each other.' 'Madam,' replied he, 'I am no Deist; I do not
style myself so, neither do I desire to be known by that
appellation.'"--_Hardy's Memoir of Charlemont_, p. 122.

[142:1] This letter is not dated. It may be questioned whether it be
either the one referred to in the preceding, or in the following letter
by Hume.

[143:1] MS. R.S.E.

[144:1] MS. R.S.E.

[146:1] The alteration of the customs duties by the authority of the

[146:2] The case of Sir George Markham, who was fined £10,000 in the
Star-chamber, for rudeness to a peer, is not stated in the first
edition. In the latest editions, the case is stated as it had been set
down on Lansdowne's authority, and there is merely a note mentioning
that Hobart gives a different account of it. See Hobart, p. 120.

[147:1] Minto MSS.

[147:2] MS. R.S.E.

[148:1] The quarrel between Wilkes and Armstrong excited much interest.
They had been close friends, and Wilkes had advanced money to Armstrong
in his need. The latter had ventured to pass a slight sarcasm on
Churchill, who returned it ten-fold, taking Wilkes to his assistance,
who abused Armstrong among the other Scots, in some letters in _The
Public Advertiser_. A very amusing and dramatic dialogue between them
will be found in _The Gentleman's Magazine_ for 1782.

[148:2] MS. R.S.E.

[149:1] MS. R.S.E.

[149:2] See Vol. I. p. 221.

[149:3] Memorials of Oswald, p. 79.

[149:4] Scroll MS. R.S.E.

[150:1] William Johnstone of Westerhall, afterwards Sir William

[150:2] MS. R.S.E.

[151:1] Stewart's Life of Reid. It is not stated whether the date is
estimated by the old or the new style. Hume's birth-day is old style.

[152:1] Oeuvres Philosophiques de M. D. Hume, &c., 4 vols. 12mo, 1764.

[153:1] When are the public to be in possession of Sir William
Hamilton's edition of Reid? I have had the privilege of seeing the proof
sheets of this work, so far as it had proceeded, before ill health had,
for a time, interrupted the labours of the professor of logic. The
quantity of learning and deep thought concentrated in the commentary, is
such as, perhaps, but one man in this country could have brought
together; and the natural feeling suggested on the perusal was, regret
that so much of these qualities had been expended in notes and
illustrative essays, instead of being published in a separate work.

[154:1] Stewart's Life of Reid.

[156:1] MS. R.S.E.


1763-1764. Æt. 52-53.

     Lord Hertford's appointment to the French Embassy, and
     invitation to Hume to accompany him--Correspondence on the
     occasion--Residence in London, and remarks on the Political
     Movements of 1763--State of his reputation in France--His
     Arrival--Letters to friends at home about his flattering
     reception--The young French princes--Observations on eminent
     French people--His recommendations to a Clergyman--
     Introductions of Fellow Countrymen.

On the conclusion of the treaty of 1763, the Marquis of Hertford was
appointed ambassador to the court of France. He invited Hume to attend
him as secretary; and there is no reason to believe that the selection
was owing to any other motive than the desire to place an able and
honest man in office. The Marquis was a man of high moral character, and
his religious opinions appear to have been considered by some of his
contemporaries as too zealous and exclusive. The intercourse thus
occasioned, was the commencement of a lasting friendship, in which the
English Marquis and the Scottish philosopher, however separated by
nominal difference of rank, had too genuine a respect for each other to
be affected by such inequalities. The intimacy extended to General
Seymour Conway, the brother of the Marquis; and Hume's intercourse with
them both, tends to confirm the impression which the portraits of the
two brothers convey to the present generation, of dispositions open,
kind, and artless. In reference to this event, Hume says, in his "own
life," "I retired to my native country of Scotland, determined never
more to set my foot out of it; and retaining the satisfaction of never
having preferred a request to one great man, or even making advances of
friendship to any of them. As I was now turned of fifty, I thought of
passing all the rest of my life in this philosophical manner, when I
received, in 1763, an invitation from the Earl of Hertford, with whom I
was not in the least acquainted, to attend him on his embassy to Paris,
with a near prospect of being appointed secretary to the embassy, and,
in the meanwhile, of performing the functions of that office. This
offer, however inviting, I at first declined, both because I was
reluctant to begin connexions with the great, and because I was afraid
that the civilities and gay company of Paris, would prove disagreeable
to a person of my age and humour: but on his lordship's repeating the
invitation, I accepted of it. I have every reason, both of pleasure and
interest, to think myself happy in my connexions with that nobleman, as
well as afterwards with his brother, General Conway."

We have, in his familiar correspondence, a fuller account of his
feelings on the occasion.


"_Edinburgh, 9th August, 1763._

"MY DEAR FRIEND,--I have got an invitation, accompanied with great
prospects and expectations, from Lord Hertford, if I would accompany
him, though at first without any character, in his embassy to Paris. I
hesitated much on the acceptance of this offer, though in appearance
very inviting: and I thought it ridiculous at my years, to be entering
on a new scene, and to put myself in the lists as a candidate of
fortune. But I reflected that I had in a manner abjured all literary
occupations; that I resolved to give up my future life entirely to
amusements; that there could not be a better pastime than such a
journey, especially with a man of Lord Hertford's character; and that it
would be easy to prevent my acceptance from having the least appearance
of dependance. For these reasons, and by the advice of every friend whom
I consulted, I at last agreed to accompany his lordship, and I set out
to-morrow for London. I am a little hurried in my preparations; but I
could not depart without bidding you adieu, my good friend, and without
acquainting you with the reasons of so sudden a movement. I have not
great expectations of revisiting this country soon; but I hope it will
not be impossible but we may meet abroad, which will be a great
satisfaction to me. I am," &c.[158:1]


"_Lisle St. 1st Sept. 1763._

"MY DEAR BARON,--As I am not sure where you are, nor whether this
direction be right, I am obliged to speak to you with reserve, both of
public affairs and of my own. Of the latter, I shall only say, that
notwithstanding of my first reluctance, I am entirely reconciled to my
present situation, and have a great prepossession, or rather, indeed, a
great esteem and affection for the person and family whom I am to
accompany to France. The prospect of my being secretary to the embassy
is neither very distant nor is it immediate; but Lord Hertford will
certainly, before our departure, obtain a settlement for me for life;
which at any events will improve my fortune, and is a great pledge of
his friendship and regard.

"I have insulted [consulted] Elliot, Sir Harry, Oswald, and all our
friends of that administration. The former said to me, that my situation
was, taking all its circumstances, the most wonderful event in the
world. I was now a person clean and white as the driven snow; and that
were I to be proposed for the see of Lambeth, no objection could
henceforth be made to me. What makes the matter more extraordinary, is,
that the idea first came into my patron's head, without the suggestion
of any one mortal.[159:1]

"You must have heard of the late most astonishing events with regard to
public affairs.[159:2] Yesterday Lord Bute had a pretty large company
dining with him, to whom he gave an account of the whole transactions,
and desired them to publish it.

"One of them, a friend of mine, as soon as he went home, took it down in
writing, of which he gave me a copy, and which I transmit to you. He is
a military man, and his style is not elegant; but I am sure, from
another certain authority, that the account is in the main just; only I
have reason to think that Lord Halifax was proscribed along with the
rest; at least he said so yesterday to a friend of mine. I wish this
high spirit of his M. may be supported. But _femme qui écoute et ville
qui parle sont bientôt rendues_. Lord Bute goes abroad very soon. Some
pretend that the present administration is more enraged against him than
is the opposition, on account of his taking this important step without
consulting them. Never in any history was there so curious a scene; nor
was there ever so formidable a demagogue as this man. Lord Sandwich, it
is said, will be secretary for some weeks; our friend Wood is so at
present. Many of the leading men in the opposition were left out on Mr.
Pitt's plan; which, it is thought, will breed dissensions among them.

"I dined yesterday with Lord Chesterfield, along with Colonel Irvine.
The Colonel made an apology for our arriving so late, on account of his
being detained at court. 'At court?' said my lord: 'I should be glad to
know what place that is.' Dear Mure, yours."[160:1]

In an earlier part of this work, we have found Hume narrating events of
contemporary military history. In the following, as in the preceding
letter, he gives his version of a celebrated ministerial revolution, of
which the public is as yet possessed of no account which is not liable
to doubt.


"_Lisle St. 13th Sept. 1763._

"MY DEAR SMITH,--The settlement which I had made in Scotland was so much
to my mind, I had indeed struck root so heartily, that it was with the
utmost reluctance I could think of transplanting myself, and I began to
approach towards that age in which these experiments became no longer
practicable with safety. I own that, on my arrival in London, I found
every circumstance more inviting than I had reason to expect;
particularly the characters of Lord and Lady Hertford, who are allowed
to be the two persons the most unexceptionable among all the English
nobility. Even that circumstance of Lord Hertford's character, his great
piety, ought to make my connexions with him more agreeable, both because
it is not attended with any thing sour and rigid, and because I draw the
more honour from his choice, while he overlooked so many seeming
objections which lay against me on that head. My fortune also receives a
great addition during life from this connexion; besides many openings to
ambition, were I so simple as to be exposed to temptation from that

"But, notwithstanding all these considerations, shall I tell you the
truth? I repine at my loss of ease and leisure, and retirement and
independence; and it is not without a sigh I look backwards, nor without
reluctance that I cast my eye forwards. Is this sentiment an instinct
which admonishes me of the situation most proper and suitable to me? Or
is it a momentary disgust, the effect of low spirits, which company and
amusement, and a better state of health, will soon dissipate and remove?
I must wait with patience till I see the decision of this question.

"I find that one view of Lord Hertford in engaging me to go along with
him is, that he thinks I may be useful to Lord Beauchamp in his studies.
That young nobleman is generally spoke of as very amiable and very
promising; but I remember, though faintly, to have heard from you
something to the contrary, which you had heard from that severe critic,
Mr. Herbert: I should be obliged to you for informing me of it. I have
not yet seen my Lord Beauchamp, who is at this time in Paris. We shall
not leave London these three weeks.

"You have, no doubt, heard of the strange jumble among our ministers,
and of the negotiation opened with Mr. Pitt. Never story was told with
such contrary circumstances as that of his secret conference with the
king, and of the terms demanded by that popular leader. The general
outlines of the whole story seem to be these:

"Lord Bute, disgusted with the ministers, who had almost universally
conspired to neglect him, and suspecting their bottom to be too narrow,
had, before Lord Egremont's death, opened a negotiation with Mr. Pitt,
by means of Lord Shelburne, who employed Calcraft the agent. Mr. Pitt
says, that he always declared it highly improper that he should be
brought to the king, before all terms were settled on such a footing as
to render it impossible for them to separate without agreeing. He
accordingly thought they were settled. His first conference with the
king confirmed him in that opinion, and he wrote to the Duke of
Devonshire to come to town, in order to place himself at the head of the
treasury. The Duke of Newcastle said, at his table on Sunday was a
fortnight, that the ministry was settled. But when Mr. Pitt came to the
king that afternoon, he found him entirely changed, and every thing was
retracted that had been agreed on. This is his story. The other party
says, that he rose in his terms, and wanted to impose the most
exorbitant conditions on his sovereign. I suppose that the first
conference passed chiefly in generals, and that Mr. Pitt would then be
extremely humble, and submissive, and polite, and dutiful in his
expressions. But when he came to particulars, they did not seem to
correspond with these appearances. At least, this is the best account I
can devise of the matter, consistent with the honour of both parties.

"You would see the present ministry by the papers. It is pretended that
they are enraged against Lord Bute, for negotiating without their
knowledge or consent; and that the other party are no less displeased
with him for not finishing the treaty with them. That nobleman declared
his resolution of going abroad a week or two ago. Now he is determined
to pass the winter in London. Our countrymen are visibly hurt in this
justle of parties, which I believe to be far from the intentions of Lord
Bute. Lord Shelburne resigned, because he found himself obnoxious on
account of his share in the negotiation. I see you are much displeased
with that nobleman, but he always speaks of you with regard. I hear that
your pupil, Mr. Fitzmaurice, makes a very good figure at Paris.

"It is generally thought that Mr. Pitt has gained credit and force by
this negotiation. It turns the eyes of the public towards him. It shows
that the king can overlook personal resentment against him and Lord
Temple. It gains him the confidence of his own party, who see that he
was negotiating for the whole of them; and puts people in mind of the
French rhyme,--_ville qui parle et femme qui écoute_.

"You would hear that the case of the Douglas is now made clear, even in
the eyes the most blinded and most prejudiced, which I am glad of on
account of our friends. I am," &c.[163:1]

The following notice, by one who has unfortunately left nothing behind
to show posterity the grounds on which his reputation rested, the Rev.
Dr. Carlyle, will be read with interest.

     Robertson has managed with great address: he is principal,
     chaplain, minister, historiographer, and historian; that is to
     say, he has £50 a-year and a house, certain, besides what he
     can make by his books. It was taken for granted that he was to
     resign his charge on being appointed historiographer with £200
     salary; but that he will do at his leisure. It is also
     supposed by his patrons, that he is to write the History of
     Britain in ten volumes quarto; that also, I presume, (dreadful
     task,) he will execute at his leisure.

     Honest David Home, [Hume,] with the heart of all others that
     rejoices most at the prosperity of his friends, was certainly
     a little hurt with this last honour conferred on Robertson. A
     lucky accident has given him relief. The Earl of Hertford is
     appointed ambassador to France: not very capable himself, they
     have loaded him with an insignificant secretary, one Charles
     Bunbury, who, for the sake of pleasure, more than the thousand
     a-year, solicited for the office. Hertford knew David, and
     some good genius prompted him to ask him to go along and
     manage the business. It is an honourable character: he will
     see his friends in France. If he tires, he can return when he
     pleases. Bunbury will probably tire first, and then David will
     become secretary.[164:1]

The following letter, without address, appears to have been written to
Dr. Carlyle.

"_Lisle Street, 15th Sept. 1763._

"DEAR DOCTOR,--The case of poor Blacklock gives me great distress; and
so much the more, as I am afraid it is not in the power of any human
being to relieve him.[165:1] His unhappiness seems to proceed from the
infirmity of his body, and the delicacy, not to say weakness, of his
mind. He has wrote to me letters full of the bitterest anguish, on
account of the treatment he meets with from his parishioners. I believe
it is not good; but it is impossible not to think it exaggerated by his
imagination: and I am of your opinion that the same persecution, partly
real, partly imaginary, would follow him in every other settlement. I
had concerted with Baron Mure a very likely scheme for his removal; but
to what purpose would this serve, if the same complaints must return in
his new situation? I agree with you, that a small pension, could it be
obtained, might bestow on him some degree of tranquillity; but how to
obtain it I profess I do not know, as I suppose you will readily
believe. That door was never very wide for men of letters; and is become
still narrower than ever."

He proceeds, in terms similar to those already recorded, to state his
satisfaction in the connexion with Lord Hertford, and continues:--

"I go to a place of the world which I have always admired the most; and
it is not easy to imagine a reception better than I have reason to
expect. What, then, can be wanting to my happiness? I hope, nothing; or
if any thing, it will only be an age and temper better adapted to vanity
and dissipation. I beg of you to embrace Mrs. Carlisle in my name, and
to assure her of my sincere respects.

"I write no politics, having now become a politician. Please address
yourself to John Hume for information on that head. Let him explain to
you his patron's situation!!!! Pray, is there any body such an idiot at
present as to be a partisan of the Douglas?"

To obtain literary distinction in France at that time, was to be
received at court. The star of Germany had not yet risen in the horizon
of literature, and the great monarch and warrior of the Teutonic tribes
treated his native tongue as the speech of boors, tried to distinguish
himself in French literature, and was ambitious of being received into
equal companionship with the popular authors of France. Britain,
notwithstanding her series of illustrious names, had not yet quite
shaken off an air of provincialism. Shakspere was a strange wild genius,
full of barbarisms and abominable galimatias: Voltaire had said it, and
it was a judgment, not an opinion. Some discontented Frerons or Arnauds,
might cavil against it: but this was rebellion, not controversy. The
greatness of our masters in science and philosophy was fully admitted;
but they were viewed as citizens of the great world of letters,
accidentally born in one of its more barren districts; and they were
scarcely more closely identified with the national literature of their
country, than Linnæus might be with that of Sweden, or Tycho Brahe with
that of Denmark. In truth, the apparent interregnum, following the
decline of the Latin as the literary language of the world, appeared
likely to end in the establishment of the French as its successor. Such
expectations gave to the literature of France a metropolitan air, with
which no other could cope; and communicated to those natives of other
places, whose name was honoured in the French circles of letters, a
corresponding elevation.[167:1] Hume would have been impervious to the
most conclusive evidence on the subject, if he had failed to know how
greatly he was honoured among all the literary circles of the continent,
and particularly in those of the metropolis of literature. Lord Elibank,
writing from Paris, on 11th May, 1763, says to him, "No author ever yet
attained to that degree of reputation in his own lifetime that you are
now in possession of at Paris;"[167:2] and the extent of his fame was
abundantly attested by others.[167:3]

Hume arrived in France on the 14th day of October, 1763. Of his
reception, his own letters will give the best account.


"_Fontainbleau, 26th Oct. 1763._

"MY DEAR SMITH,--I have been three days at Paris, and two at
Fontainbleau, and have every where met with the most extraordinary
honours, which the most exorbitant vanity could wish or desire. The
compliments of dukes and marischals of France, and foreign ambassadors,
go for nothing with me at present: I retain a relish for no kind of
flattery but that which comes from the ladies. All the courtiers, who
stood around when I was introduced to Madame de Pompadour, assured me
that she was never heard to say so much to any man; and her brother, to
whom she introduced me,----[169:1] But I forget already, that I am to
scorn all the civilities of men. However, even Madame Pompadour's
civilities were, if possible, exceeded by those of the Duchesse de
Choiseul, the wife of the favourite and Prime Minister, and one of the
ladies of the most distinguished merit in France. Not contented with the
many obliging things she said to me on my first introduction, she sent
to call me from the other end of the room, in order to repeat them, and
to enter into a short conversation with me: and not contented with that,
she sent the Danish ambassador after me, to assure me, that what she
said was not from politeness, but that she seriously desired to be in
friendship and correspondence with me. There is not a courtier in
France, who would not have been transported with joy, to have had the
half of these obliging things said to him by either of these great
ladies; but what may appear more extraordinary, both of them, as far as
I could conjecture, have read with some care all my writings that have
been translated into French,--that is, almost all my writings. The king
said nothing particular to me, when I was introduced to him; and (can
you imagine it) I was become so silly, as to be a little mortified by
it, till they told me, that he never says any thing to any body the
first time he sees them. The Dauphin, as I am told from all hands,
declares himself on every occasion very strongly in my favour; and many
people assure me, that I have reason to be proud of his judgment, even
were he an individual. I have scarce seen any of the geniuses of Paris,
who, I think, have in general great merit, as men of letters. But every
body is forward to tell me the high panegyrics I receive from them; and
you may believe that ----[170:1] approbation which has procured me all
these civilities from the courtiers.

"I know you are ready to ask me, my dear friend, if all this does not
make me very happy: No, I feel little or no difference. As this is the
first letter I write to my friends at home, I have amused myself, (and I
hope I have amused you,) by giving you a very abridged account of these
transactions. But can I ever forget, that it is the very same species,
that would scarce show me common civilities a very few years ago at
Edinburgh, who now receive me with such applauses at Paris? I assure
you, I reap more internal satisfaction from the very amiable manners
and character of the family in which I live, (I mean Lord and Lady
Hertford, and Lord Beauchamp,) than from all these external vanities;
and it is that domestic enjoyment which must be considered as the
agreeable circumstance in my situation. During the two last days, in
particular, that I have been at Fontainbleau I have _suffered_ (the
expression is not improper) as much flattery as almost any man has ever
done in the same time. But there are few days in my life, when I have
been in good health, that I would not rather pass over again. Mr.
Neville, our minister, an honest, worthy English gentleman, who carried
me about, was astonished at the civilities I met with; and has assured
me, that on his return, he will not fail to inform the king of England
and the English ministry of all these particulars. But enough of all
these follies. You see I trust to your friendship, that you will forgive
me; and to your discretion, that you will keep my secret.

"I had almost forgot, in these effusions, shall I say of my misanthropy
or my vanity, to mention the subject which first put my pen in my hand.
The Baron d'Holbach, whom I saw at Paris, told me, that there was one
under his eye that was translating your 'Theory of Moral Sentiments;'
and desired me to inform you of it.[171:1] Mr. Fitzmaurice, your old
friend, interests himself strongly in this undertaking. Both of them
wish to know, if you propose to make any alterations on the work, and
desire you to inform me of your intentions in that particular. Please
direct to me under cover to the Earl of Hertford at Northumberland
House, London. Letters so directed will be sent to us at Paris. I desire
my compliments to all friends. I am, my dear Smith, yours


"_Fontainbleau, 9th Nov. 1763._

"DEAR FERGUSON,--I have now passed four days at Paris, and about a
fortnight in the court at Fontainbleau, amidst a people who, from the
royal family downwards, seem to have it much at heart to persuade me, by
every expression of esteem, that they consider me as one of the greatest
geniuses in the world. I am convinced that Louis XIV. never, in any
three weeks of his life, suffered so much flattery: I say suffered, for
it really confounds and embarrasses me, and makes me look sheepish. Lord
Hertford has told them they will chase me out of France, _à coup de
complimens et de louanges_. Our friend, General Clerk, came to this
place after I had passed a week in it; and the first thing he said to me
was, that he was sure I had never passed so many days with so little
satisfaction. I asked him how he had happened to guess so well. He said,
because he knew me, and knew the French. I really wish often for the
plain roughness of the _Poker_,[172:2] and particularly the sharpness of
Dr. Jardine, to correct and qualify so much lusciousness. However, I
meet sometimes with incidents that please me, because they contain no
mixture of French complaisance or exaggeration. Yesterday I dined at the
Duc de Praslin's, the secretary of state. After we had risen from
dinner, I went into a corner to converse with somebody; when I saw
enter the room, a tall gentleman, a little elderly, with a riband and
star, who immediately called out to the Duchesse de Praslin, 'Hé, Madame
la Duchesse, que je suis content, j'ai vu Monsieur Hume à la cour
aujourd'hui.' Upon inquiry, I was told he was a man of quality, esteemed
one of the cleverest and most sensible about the court.

"In two or three days we return to Paris, where I hope to live more at
my ease, and shall pass my time with really great men; for there are
such at present amongst the literati of France. Certainly there is
something perverse, either in the structure of our mind, or in the
incidents of life. My present situation ought naturally to appear an
object of envy; for besides those circumstances of an universal good
reception from all ranks of people, nothing can be more amiable than the
character of the family with whom I live, and nothing can be more
friendly than their behaviour to me. My fortune has already received a
considerable increase by a pension procured me by Lord Hertford, and
settled as they tell me for life. Mr. Bunbury has been told that he must
not go to Paris, which my lord considers as a sure prelude to my being
soon secretary to the embassy; an office which will expose me to little
expense, and bring me a thousand a-year increase of revenue, and puts me
in the road to all the great foreign employments. Yet I am sensible that
I set out too late, and that I am misplaced; and I wish, twice or thrice
a-day, for my easy chair and my retreat in James's Court! Never think,
dear Ferguson, that as long as you are master of your own fireside and
your own time, you can be unhappy, or that any other circumstance can
make an addition to your enjoyment.

"When I think of my own house, you may believe I often reflect on
Josey, who I am afraid will be more a loser by my absence, than ever I
shall be a gainer by it; I mean in point of his education. I beg of you
to have some inspection over him, and as often as my sister shall send
to you to ask your advice, that you will be sure to give it. I am afraid
that there occurs a difficulty at present about entering him to the
Greek. He is too far advanced by his learning for the class in the High
School to which he is put, and yet he is too young to go to the college:
for this reason I thought that he might learn something of the Greek
before he finished his Latin course, as is the practice in England; and,
accordingly, Murray in Musselburgh gave him some lessons in that
language. I propose that he should continue on the same footing in
Edinburgh; but I am at a loss how it may be done. A master to himself
alone, would not give him any emulation; and were he put to any other
school for this purpose, the hours would interfere with those of the
High School. Be so good as speak to Mathison, and then give your opinion
to my sister.

"Please remember me to Mr. and Mrs. Adams.[174:1] I saw Willie a moment
at Fontainbleau: he had arrived a quarter of an hour after Jemmy left
it, whom I did not see. These two brothers have been hunting one another
in vain through all France; but I hope they have met at last in Paris.

"When you favour me with a letter, put it under cover to the Earl of
Hertford, and direct it to him at Northumberland House, in the Strand;
letters so directed come to us with the greatest safety. Make my
compliments to Baron Mure, and Mrs. Mure, and all that family. I shall
write to the Baron soon. Tell Dr. Blair that I have conversed here twice
or thrice with the Duchesse D'Aiguillon, who has been amusing herself
with translating passages of Ossian; and I have assured her that the
authenticity of those poems is to be proved soon beyond all
contradiction. Andrew Stuart is here at present: I meet with nobody here
that doubts of the justice of his cause. I hope your fine judges will at
last be ashamed of their scandalous partiality. I should be glad to hear
of all friends. I am, dear Ferguson, with great sincerity and without
flattery, your affectionate friend and servant.

"P.S.--I beg you to keep the follies of the above letter to yourself. I
had a letter from Lord Marischal to-day, who tells me that he is to pass
the winter at Edinburgh. Wait often on him; you will like him extremely:
carry all our friends to him, and endeavour to make him pass his time as
agreeably as possible."[175:1]

We shall have farther opportunities of observing the affectionate
anxiety with which Hume watched over the education of his nephews. Adam
Ferguson appears to have undertaken the task of noticing the progress of
Joseph, the elder nephew, during Hume's absence, to whom he writes, in
answer to the above:--

     _Edinburgh, 26th Nov. 1763._

     At present his journal, as he tells me, begins with getting up
     at eight, taking his breakfast and going to school, where he
     remains to eleven. Then to the High School Yard to play at
     Englishman and Scotsman, or the hare and the dogs; of which I
     take the merit, as I saved him from the writing-school at that
     hour. He returns to school at twelve, and continues till two:
     goes to writing between three and four; and spends his
     evenings, as he tells me, in getting his school tasks, or in
     reading amusing books,--such as his uncle's history. In short,
     he is a very amiable boy, with quick parts, in my opinion as
     well as yours; and there is no doubt but he will do well. I am
     very glad of every thing that gives you pleasure,--even of
     some things that give you pain. From all accounts, both before
     and since you went to Paris, it might be foreseen that your
     reception, even from sincere as well as affected admirers,
     would amount to a degree of teasing. But all for the best, as
     my fellow philosopher, Pangloss, says. I don't care if you are
     "chassé de France à coups de complimens, et accablé en
     Angleterre à coups de richesse," so as not to find any rest to
     the soles of your feet out of Scotland. I would fain consider
     every accession to your fortune as so many dishes added to the
     future dinners in James's Court; and your eclat in France, as
     the forerunner of much variety of chosen and excellent wines
     from every quarter of that great kingdom. Meantime, though I
     like to lounge at firesides in practice, I have not, in
     speculation, that opinion you mention. I know nothing that is
     necessary to happiness but cordiality and the talent of
     finding diversion in all places. I remember, somewhere, a
     man's being told that he was too nice, because he could not
     dine on a ragout, and must have cold mutton. But I should not,
     perhaps, contradict you so flatly, nor rub so hard,
     considering how tender your sensibility will be grown after so
     many lenient applications.[176:1]


     _Paris, Dec. 1, 1763._

     DEAR ROBERTSON,--Among other agreeable circumstances which
     attend me at Paris, I must mention that of having a lady for a
     translator; a woman of merit, the widow of an advocate.[176:2]
     She was, before, very poor, and known but to few; but this
     work has got her reputation, and procured her a pension from
     the court, which sets her at ease. She tells me that she has
     got a habit of industry; and would continue, if I could point
     out to her any other English book she could undertake, without
     running the risk of being anticipated by any other translator.
     Your "History of Scotland" is translated, and is in the press;
     but I recommended to her your "History of Charles V.," and
     promised to write to you, in order to know when it would be
     printed, and to desire you to send over the sheets from
     London, as they come from the press; I should put them into
     her hands, and she would, by that means, have the start of
     every other translator.[177:1] My two volumes last published,
     are, at present, in the press. She has a very easy natural
     style: sometimes she mistakes the sense; but I now correct her
     manuscript, and should be happy to render you the same
     service, if my leisure permit me, as I hope it will.

     Do you ask me about my course of life? I can only say, that I
     eat nothing but ambrosia, drink nothing but nectar, breathe
     nothing but incense, and tread on nothing but flowers! Every
     man I meet, and, still more, every lady, would think they were
     wanting in the most indispensable duty, if they did not make a
     long and elaborate harangue in my praise. What happened last
     week, when I had the honour of being presented to the D----n's
     children, at Versailles, is one of the most curious scenes I
     have yet passed through. The Duc de B., the eldest, a boy of
     ten years old, stepped forth, and told me how many friends
     and admirers I had in this country, and that he reckoned
     himself in the number, from the pleasure he had received from
     the reading of many passages in my works. When he had
     finished, his brother, the Count de P., who is two years
     younger, began his discourse, and informed me, that I had been
     long and impatiently expected in France; and that he himself
     expected soon to have great satisfaction from the reading of
     my fine History. But what is more curious; when I was carried
     thence to the Count D'A., who is but four years of age, I
     heard him mumble something which, though he had forgot in the
     way, I conjectured, from some scattered words, to have been
     also a panegyric dictated to him. Nothing could more surprise
     my friends, the Parisian philosophers, than this incident.

            *       *       *       *       *

     It is conjectured that this honour was paid me by express
     order from the D.[178:1], who, indeed, is not on any occasion
     sparing in my praise.

     All this attention and panegyric was at first oppressive to
     me; but now it sits more easy. I have recovered, in some
     measure, the use of the language, and am falling into
     friendships which are very agreeable; much more so than silly,
     distant admiration. They now begin to banter me, and tell
     droll stories of me, which they have either observed
     themselves, or have heard from others; so that you see I am
     beginning to be at home. It is probable that this place will
     be long my home. I feel little inclination to the factious
     barbarians of London; and have ever desired to remain in the
     place where I am planted. How much more so, when it is the
     best place in the world? I could here live in great abundance
     on the half of my income; for there is no place where money is
     so little requisite to a man who is distinguished, either by
     his birth or by personal qualities. I could run out, you see,
     in a panegyric on the people; but you would suspect that this
     was a mutual convention between us. However, I cannot forbear
     observing on what a different footing learning and the learned
     are here, from what they are among the factious barbarians

     I have here met with a prodigious historical curiosity, the
     "Memoirs of King James II." in fourteen volumes, all wrote
     with his own hand, and kept in the Scots College. I have
     looked into it; and have made great discoveries.[179:1] It
     will be all communicated to me: and I have had an offer of
     access to the Secretary of State's office, if I want to know
     the despatches of any French minister that resided in London.
     But these matters are much out of my head. I beg of you to
     visit Lord Marischal, who will be pleased with your company. I
     have little paper remaining, and less time; and therefore
     conclude abruptly by assuring you that I am, dear Doctor,
     yours sincerely, &c.[179:2]


     _Paris, 1st Dec. 1763._

     DEAR SIR,--I have here fallen upon a great treasure, as I
     believe, of historical knowledge; which is, fifteen volumes of
     the late King James's Memoirs, wrote all with his own hand. I
     shall be able to make use of them for improving and
     correcting many passages of my History, in case of a new
     edition; which, however, I fancy will not be soon. I am glad
     to see public affairs likely to settle in favour of
     government. Nobody ever led a more dissipated life than I do
     here. Please send to Mr. Stewart, in Buckingham Street, six
     copies of the new edition of my History; and two of the last
     large paper quarto, all in sheets. Make them carefully up in a
     parcel: he is to send them to me. I shall be your debtor for
     the quartos. I should be glad to hear from you. My direction
     is at the English ambassador's. Excuse my hurry. I beg my
     compliments to Mrs. Millar. I am, very sincerely, dear sir,
     your most humble servant.

HUME _to_ DR. BLAIR.[180:1]

     DEAR DOCTOR,--I write every thing in haste, except on public
     affairs, which are the only serious matters I have leisure to
     mind: so, excuse this letter, if it prove a scrawl. I approve
     very much of your plan for ascertaining the authenticity of
     Ossian's Poems; and I doubt not of your success. I do not
     think you can publish all the letters you receive, which
     nobody would read: a summary of them will do better; but
     endeavour to be as particular as you can with regard to names
     of persons and passages: for the force of your argument will
     be there. I have met here with enthusiasts for Ossian's
     poetry; but there are also several critics who are of my
     opinion, that, though great beauties, they are also great
     curiosities, and that they are a little tedious by reason of
     their uniformity.

     You desire to know the particulars of my reception here, and
     my course of life. I own I write little upon this subject, and
     always with some degree of secrecy, both because I wish to
     have such intelligence conveyed by others rather than myself,
     and because I am somewhat indifferent whether it be conveyed
     or not. However, I wrote some circumstances to Robertson,
     which I allow him to communicate to you. I suppose this, like
     all other violent modes, will pass; and, in the meanwhile, the
     hurry and dissipation attending it, gives me more pain than
     pleasure. Never was there a stronger instance of the vanity
     of human wishes. But this embarrassment proceeds chiefly from
     my own fault, and from a vain anxiety to give no offence nor
     displeasure to any body.

     The men of letters here are really very agreeable: all of them
     men of the world, living in entire, or almost entire harmony
     among themselves, and quite irreproachable in their morals. It
     would give you, and Jardine, and Robertson, great satisfaction
     to find that there is not a single deist among them. Those
     whose persons and conversation I like best, are D'Alembert,
     Buffon, Marmontel, Diderot, Duclos, Helvetius, and old
     President Henault, who, though now decaying, retains that
     amiable character which made him once the delight of all
     France. He had always the best cook and the best company in
     Paris. But though I know you will laugh at me, as they do, I
     must confess that I am more carried away from their society
     than I should be, by the great ladies, with whom I became
     acquainted at my first introduction to court, and whom my
     connexions with the English ambassador will not allow me
     entirely to drop.

     Nothing can be more easy and agreeable than my situation with
     Lord Hertford, who is a man of strict honour, an amiable
     temper, a good understanding, and an elegant person and
     behaviour. He takes very much in this place. He has got an
     opinion very well founded, that the more acquaintance I make,
     and the greater intimacies I form with the French, the more I
     am enabled to be of service to him: so he exacts no attendance
     from me; and is well pleased to find me carried into all kinds
     of company. He tells me, that if he did not meet me by chance
     in third places, we should go out of acquaintance. Thus you
     see my present plan of life sketched out; but it is unsuitable
     to my age and temper; and I am determined to retrench and to
     abandon the fine folks, before they abandon me.[181:1]

During his absence, Hume's house was let to Blair. In this letter he
gives pretty minute instructions as to the most advantageous
distribution of the occupation of the apartments, which incidentally
illustrate his own domestic habits. Thus--

     Never put a fire in the south room with the red paper. It is
     so warm of itself, that all last winter, which was a very
     severe one, I lay with a single blanket; and frequently upon
     coming in at midnight, starving with cold, have sat down and
     read for an hour, as if I had had a stove in the room.

     You think it inconvenient to take the house only for an
     interval. Alas! my prospects of being home are very distant
     and very uncertain: I am afraid I might say worse. My
     connexions with Lord Hertford must probably last for some
     years; after which, I shall be rich enough to live in Paris or
     London as I please, or to retire to a provincial town in
     France, or to Bath, or God knows whither. I like to keep my
     house in case of accidents, and therefore neither choose to
     sell it, nor let a lease of it; but there is no great chance
     of your being disturbed in it for some time. I am, &c.

     P.S.--Pray, do you not all pay court to the Lord
     Marischal?[182:1] Do you imagine that you ever saw so
     excellent a man? or that you have any chance for seeing his
     equal if he were gone?


     _Paris, 9th January, 1764._

     DEAR EDMONDSTOUNE,--I was fully settled, and, as I thought,
     for life at Edinburgh; had bought a very pretty little house,
     which I had repaired and furnished to my fancy; had purchased
     a chaise, and fixed every thing about my family on such a
     footing as to continue there the rest of my days. But while I
     was in this situation, which was far from disagreeable, I
     received a letter from my friend Mr. Wood, wrote by directions
     from Lord Hertford, by which I was invited to attend his
     lordship in his embassy to Paris, and to perform the
     functions of secretary to the embassy. I had never seen Lord
     Hertford, though I had heard an excellent character of him;
     but as I thought myself too old to enter on a new scene of
     life, and found myself settled to my mind, I at first refused
     the invitation; but on its being urged more home to me, I came
     up to London, where I found that Mr. Bunbury, a gentleman of
     considerable fortune, and married to the Duke of Richmond's
     sister, had already been appointed secretary; but was so
     disagreeable to the ambassador, that he was resolved never to
     see, or do business with his secretary, and therefore desired
     I should attend him, in order to perform the functions. He
     also thought himself certain that Bunbury could not possibly
     continue in the situation; but in order to make me more
     secure, he procured me a pension of £200 a-year for life, from
     the king. As I became every day better acquainted with my
     lord, I liked him every day better; and I do not believe there
     is in the world a man of more probity or humanity, endowed
     with a very good understanding, and adorned with very elegant
     manners and behaviour. My lady is also a person of great
     merit; and nothing can be more amiable than my Lord Beauchamp:
     so that you see I have every domestic means of happiness; and
     the good reception I have met with at Paris, particularly, as
     you observe, by the ladies, renders my present course of life,
     though somewhat too hurried and dissipated, as amusing as I
     could wish. My lord appears zealously my friend, and has urged
     the matter so home, in my favour, to the king and the
     ministers, that he has obtained a promise, that I shall soon
     have the appointments and commission of secretary to the
     embassy, which is about £1000 a-year, added to what I already
     possess: so that you see, dear Edmondstoune, I am in the high
     road to riches; and as there is no instance of a secretary to
     the embassy at Paris, that has not been advanced to the most
     considerable employments, I am at the same time in the high
     road to dignities. You must know, that Lord Hertford has so
     high a character for piety, that his taking me by the hand is
     a kind of regeneration to me, and all past offences are now
     wiped off. But all these views are trifling to one of my age
     and temper. The material point is (if any thing can be
     material,) that I keep my health and humour as entire as I
     possessed them at five and-twenty. I am sorry to hear, dear
     Edmondstoune, that the case is not the same with you, at least
     with regard to the former; and perhaps somewhat with regard to
     the latter. Your situation is no doubt tiresome, and somewhat
     disagreeable. What is the fancy of sending one of the first
     noblemen in the kingdom to pass years in a country
     town?[184:1] why do you not go forward to Italy, or back to
     Paris? When I arrived here, all M. Voltaire's friends told me
     of the regard he always expressed for me; that some advances
     on my part were due to his age, and would be well taken. I
     accordingly wrote him a letter, in which I expressed the
     esteem which are[184:2] undoubtedly due to his talents; and
     among other things I said, that if I were not confined to
     Paris by public business, I should have a great ambition to
     pay him a visit at Geneva. This is the foundation of the
     report you mention; but I am absolutely confined to Paris and
     the court, and cannot on any account leave them so much as for
     three days.

Some advice, given at this time by Hume to a young man who, though in
holy orders, had a tendency to scepticism, has already been before the
public, and has been severely criticised. His view, that there are
certain secrets which may be circulated among the learned in published
books, without any risk that the vulgar, to whom a knowledge of them
would be dangerous, should ever become acquainted with them, is one of
the most incomprehensible features of his character.[184:3] The
application of his own ethical system to the circumstances, might have
taught him that no good thing can connect itself with a lie; and that,
independently of all more sacred considerations, nothing can be more
desolating to human morality, than the discovery, that those who are
professing to teach solemn truths, do not themselves believe in the
opinions they promulgate. If, on the other hand, his counsel be a
legitimate deduction from his ethical principles, it is right that the
world should possess this test of their nature.

The following is the correspondence on both sides. For obvious reasons
the name of the young clergyman is suppressed. It may be observed, that
Hume's letter has been made a ground for attributing infidel opinions to
the ministers of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. But justice
requires it to be kept in view, that it appears from the immediately
ensuing letter, that this individual belonged to the Church of


     _Geneva, 26th March._

     MY DEAR SECRETARY,--I have delayed for some time answering
     your letter, in expectation of being able to tell you what is
     to become of me; whether I am to return home, or remain abroad
     some years longer. Though I believe the latter will happen, I
     cannot speak of it with certainty, as I left it to Lord B. to
     determine for me; and he has not, as yet, given me any answer.
     I write to you at present to consult you about an acquaintance
     of yours, Mr. V----, who is here with Lord Abingdon, and who
     thinks of returning to England, May next. You'll be so good as
     to determine for him what character he is to assume on his
     arrival, whether that of a clergyman or a layman. I suppose
     you know he is in orders, but he is very very low church. To
     speak plain language, I believe him to be a sort of disciple
     of your own; and, though he does not carry matters quite so
     far as you, yet you have given him notions not very consistent
     with his priestly character; so that you see you are somewhat
     bound to give him your best advice. V---- is a very
     good-natured, sensible, honest follow, without any fortune. My
     young man has a great liking for him, and has all the
     inclination in the world to serve him; but he neither knows
     what to ask for him, and is not sure if his father would ask
     any thing at present. We are as much in the dark as to what
     passes in England, as if we lived in Siberia. As you know
     probably something of the matter, without entering into
     politics, you may give us some hints to direct us in what
     manner to act, and whether we may not be of more use to our
     friend in acting as auxiliaries than principals. You'll
     determine whether a man of probity can accept of a living, a
     bishoprick, that does not believe all the Thirty-nine
     Articles; for you only can fix him: he has been hitherto
     irresolute. If [I am not] mistaken, he seems rather inclined
     not to be a clergyman; but you know as well, and better than I
     do, how difficult it is to get any tolerable civil employment.
     I mean any patent place; while as soon as you can
     conveniently, and if you should determine for his being a
     clergyman, throw in something consolatory on his being obliged
     to renounce white stockings the rest of his life. I wait with
     impatience to hear of your being made secretary to the
     embassy. Shall a descendant of Gospatrick, Earl of
     Northumberland, remain in the character of under-secretary? I
     hope not; though I am afraid our cursed politics at home will
     occasion some delay. Lord Mount Stuart offers his compliments
     to you, and thanks you for the pleasure your History gave him.
     You scrub, do you think we have so little taste or curiosity
     as not to have your History complete? We have two copies, one
     to lend, and another for our own use; they were sent us
     immediately on the publication; it is almost the only book he
     takes pleasure in reading. He has read it once, and has got
     through four volumes the second time. By the bye, what is this
     M{c}Caulay history? I saw in the newspapers an extract of a
     preface that seemed to me to be the rhapsody of a crazy head.
     I hear it is in opposition to your History. We have her sister
     here, who seems to be a good sort of woman, a Mrs. Buckingham.
     I wish your time would allow you to come here: you have a
     great many friends; among the rest a Madame Tronchin, wife to
     the procureur-general, a virtuous, generous, charitable, good
     woman. She has learned English since I have been here, and can
     read your History with as much ease as her own language. Her
     husband is a man of merit, a man of genius; but knows you only
     by the translations of your works. Mallet, Professor
     Bertrand, and many others, even ministers, are your friends;
     even the Christians acknowledge your merit as an historian.
     The Christians here are the friends of Rousseau: those that
     are not, have been his persecutors; but it was not for his
     religious principles. They were afraid of his breeding
     disturbance in their state. I wish you could do something for
     Rousseau without his knowing it. Print his works in England
     for his benefit. You did not, I suppose, receive my letter on
     that subject. I never received that from you, which you say
     you enclosed to Sir Harry Erskine. Adieu, yours,

                                                J. E.[187:1]


"DEAR EDMONDSTOUNE,--I was just projecting to write a long letter to
you, and another to Mr. V----, when your last obliging epistle came to
hand. I immediately put pen to paper, to assure you that the report is
entirely groundless, and that I have not lost, nor ever could have lost,
a shilling by Fairholm's bankruptcy. Poor John Adams is very deeply
engaged with him; but I had a letter last post from Dr. Blair, which
informs me that he will yet be able to save fifteen or sixteen thousand
pounds. I am glad to give you also this piece of intelligence.

"What! do you know that Lord Bute is again all-powerful, or rather that
he was always so, but is now acknowledged for such by all the world? Let
this be a new motive for Mr. V---- to adhere to the ecclesiastical
profession, in which he may have so good a patron; for civil employments
for men of letters can scarcely be found: all is occupied by men of
business, or by parliamentary interest.[187:2]

"It is putting too great a respect on the vulgar, and on their
superstitions, to pique one's self on sincerity with regard to them.
Did ever one make it a point of honour to speak truth to children or
madmen. If the thing were worthy being treated gravely, I should tell
him, that the Pythian oracle, with the approbation of Xenophon, advised
every one to worship the gods--νομω πολεως. I wish it were still in my
power to be a hypocrite in this particular. The common duties of society
usually require it; and the ecclesiastical profession only adds a little
more to an innocent dissimulation, or rather simulation, without which
it is impossible to pass through the world. Am I a liar, because I order
my servant to say, I am not at home, when I do not desire to see

"How could you imagine that I was under-secretary to Lord Hertford, or
that I could ever be prevailed on to accept of such a character? I am
not secretary at all, but do the business of secretary to the embassy
without any character. Bunbury has the commission and appointments: a
young man of three or four and twenty, somewhat vain and ignorant, whom
Lord Hertford refused to accept of, as thinking he would be of no use to
him. The king gave me a pension of £200 a-year for life, to engage me to
attend his lordship. My lord is very impatient to have me secretary to
the embassy; and writes very earnest letters to that purpose to the
ministers, and, among the rest, to Lord Bute. He engaged me, somewhat
against my will, to write also to such of my friends as had credit with
that favourite, Oswald, Elliot, Sir Harry, and John Hume. The king has
promised that my Lord Hertford shall soon be satisfied in this
particular; and yet, I know not how, I suspect that some obstacle will
yet interpose; though nothing can be more scandalous, than for a man to
enjoy the revenue of an office, which is exercised by another. Mr.
Bunbury has great interest, being married to a sister of the Duke of
Richmond, and sister-in-law to Lord Holland. The appointments of this
office are above £1000 a-year, and the expense attending it nothing; and
it leads to all the great employments. I wait the issue with patience,
and even with indifference. At my years, and with my fortune, a man with
a little common sense, without philosophy, may be indifferent about what
happens. I am, dear Edmondstoune, yours sincerely."[189:1]

HUME _to_ GILBERT ELLIOT _of Minto_.

"_Paris, 27th March, 1764._

"MY DEAR SIR,--I believe I need not inform you how little I have been
inclined to solicit the great, or even my own friends, for any thing
that regards my own fortune. I may venture to say, that, hitherto, I
have never once made any application of this nature: and you may wonder
that now, at my years, when the greatest part of life is past, and I may
esteem myself, in other respects, pretty much at my ease, I should
submit to prefer requests which I declined at an age when ambition ought
naturally to be stronger, and when my circumstances much more powerfully
called for assistance. But the step I take at present is at Lord
Hertford's desire; who, being determined to make it a point that I
should have the credentials and appointments of secretary to the
embassy, expressed his wish that I should apply to all my own friends on
the same subject. My obligations to him are so great, that, even were I
more reluctant, I could not have declined compliance; and surely I can
have but small reluctance to apply to you, one of my best friends, with
whom I have long lived in a course of intimacy and good correspondence.

"I remember that the last time I had the pleasure of seeing you, you
said, that I no doubt wondered how it happened, that while the prime
minister and favourite, who inclined to be a Mæcenas, and who bore me no
ill will, was surrounded by all my most particular friends, I should
never have experienced any good effects from their credit. I own that I
never was surprised; not from any diffidence in them, but from some
obvious objections. Now all these objections are removed by Lord
Hertford's friendship. Nobody, henceforth, need be afraid to patronize
me, either as a Scotchman or a Deist. This circumstance encourages me in
my present application to my friends.

"Surely it is impossible to give them a juster and more plausible cause
to support than mine. I do the functions here of secretary to the
embassy: Is it not scandalous that another should live in London and
draw the salary?

"Is it for the credit of government, that such abuses should appear to
foreign nations? Is it good policy to send an ambassador to the most
important of all foreign employments, and yet declare that he has so
little credit at home, as not to have the choice of his own secretary.

"I shall not say that the partiality I meet with here will make these
abuses more remarked, than if another person, less known, were
concerned. But surely the government puts me in a situation which ought
to render me entirely useless to my Lord Hertford, by refusing me a
character which should have appeared necessary, in order to gain me
admittance into company.

"Allow me to inform you of another circumstance, which renders my
prevailing on this point the most material step to my future fortune.
When I came to London, and found, contrary to Lord Hertford's opinion,
that Mr. Bunbury was likely to keep his appointments, I declined going
abroad, unless something certain was fixed in my favour. My lord said,
that he would obtain me, from the public, a settlement of £200 a-year
for life, or would give me as much from his private fortune. He applied
to the king, who agreed; to Mr. Grenville, who also consented, two days
before we came off. My pension was fixed on the most precarious footing
of all pensions, by a simple order from the treasury to their secretary.
Yet Mr. Grenville told my lord, that this was equivalent to a settlement
for life. My lord believes so still; though I said nothing, perhaps from
a foolish delicacy, as the time of our departure so near approached, and
it was difficult then to correct the blunder. Were I to return to
England, on my present footing, I should regard this pension as
absolutely insignificant--not worth two years' purchase; and never could
form any plan on the supposition of its duration. But had I obtained the
rank and character of secretary to the embassy, there are certain
pensions annexed, by custom, to certain employments; and I believe I
might more depend upon it.

"You see how materially my interests are concerned. I have wrote to
others of my friends, Sir Harry, Oswald, and John Hume, in the same
style, that an effort may be made, all at once, in my favour. I own
that, notwithstanding all the plausible appearances, my hopes of success
are but moderate. I have been accustomed to meet with nothing but
insults and indignities from my native country; but if it continue so,
'ingrata patria, ne ossa quidem habebis.' I am, my dear sir, yours

When the fame of Hume's reception in Paris had reached Scotland, some of
his countrymen, who had not previously been very solicitous to court his
notice, discovered that an introduction to him would be a valuable
acquisition. The correspondence shows that the expectations of such
persons were very large, and that if their names connected them with the
aristocracy of Scotland, it could not fail that they should be at once
put at their ease in the midst of the brilliant circle in which Hume was
moving. The following may be taken as an instance of these attempts. On
the 6th April, 1764, Blair writes:

"This letter will be presented to you by Colonel L----, brother to the
Earl of L----; who, going on a trip to Paris, is very ambitious of being
introduced to your acquaintance. You will find him a very honourable,
good-natured, well-behaved young man, of an amiable disposition and
character. As I have been much connected with the L---- family, who were
my first patrons in the ecclesiastical way, I was very glad to have it
in my power to do them this favour at their desire; and will reckon
myself much obliged to you for any civilities you show the

Blair was not the sole medium through whom this gentleman was
recommended. Wallace writes, on 3d April, with all due ceremony: "The
occasion of my writing at present this short letter, is a desire from
the friends of the family of L---- here, asking me to write you by this
night's post, and acquaint you that the Honourable Alexander L----,
Esquire, son to the late Earl of L----, lieutenant-colonel of Colonel
Carey's regiment of foot, is going to Paris, and will probably be in it
before this reaches you, and wishes you may be acquainted, before he
comes, who he is." Taking the effect of these imposing denominations for
granted, Mr. Wallace continues:--"I dare say you will introduce him to
the good company where you are, and will be ready to put him on the best
methods of enjoying and improving himself at Paris."

In Hume's answer to this application, we may trace some desire to
reprove any notion that he was a person so insignificant as to feel
highly honoured by an acquaintance with an Honourable, and bound as a
matter of simple etiquette to receive his proffers with grateful


"_Paris, 26th April, 1764._

"MY DEAR SIR,--Before I was favoured with yours, I had seen Colonel
L----, who waited on me, as is usual with the British who come to Paris.
I returned his visit, and introduced him to the ambassador, who asked
him to dinner among seven or eight of his countrymen. You will be
surprised, perhaps, when I tell you that this is the utmost of the
civilities which it will ever be possible for me to show Mr. L----. For
as to the ridiculous idea of foreigners, that I might introduce him to
the good company of Paris, nothing can be more impracticable. I know not
one family to which I could present such a man, silent, grave, awkward,
speaking ill the language, not distinguished by any exploit, or science,
or art. Were the French houses open to such people as these, they would
be very little agreeable, considering the immense concourse of strangers
to this place. But it is quite otherwise. The people are more scrupulous
of receiving persons unknown, and I should soon lose all credit with
them, were I to prostitute my recommendations of this nature. Your
recommendations have great weight with me; but if I am not mistaken, I
have often seen Colonel L----'s face in Edinburgh. It is a little late
he has bethought himself of being _ambitious_, as you say, of being
introduced to my acquaintance. The only favour I can do him, is to
advise him, as soon as he has seen Paris, to go to a provincial town
where people are less shy of admitting new acquaintance, and are less
delicate judges of behaviour. It is almost out of the memory of man,
that any British has been here on a footing of familiarity with the good
company except my Lord Holderness, who had a good stock of acquaintance
to begin with, speaks the language like a native, has very insinuating
manners, was presented under the character of an old secretary of state,
and spent, as is said, £10,000 this winter, to obtain that object of
vanity. Him, indeed, I met every where in the best company: but as to
others--lords, earls, marquises, and dukes--they went about to plays,
operas, and ----. Nobody minded them; they kept company with one
another; and it would have been ridiculous to think of bringing them
into French company. I may add General Clarke, who was liked and
esteemed by several people of merit, which he owed to his great
cleverness and ingenuity, and to his surprising courage in introducing
himself. I enter into this detail with you, that people with whom I am
much more connected than with the L. family, may not, at any time, be
surprised that I am able to do so little for them in this way, and may
not form false ideas of the hospitality of the French nation. But I
fancy there will not arrive at Paris many people who will have great
claims of past civilities to plead with me.

"What you tell me of John Adams gives me great consolation. I had heard
of the alarming news of his connexions with Fairholm, and things were
put in the worst light. I was just ready to write to Ferguson to get
from him a just state of the case; but if he has £15,000, or £18,000
remaining, his industry will recover him, and he may go on in his usual
way of beneficence and generosity. That family is one of the few to
whose civilities I have been much beholden, and I retain a lively sense
of them.

"Our friend, I mean your friend, Lord Kames, had much provoked Voltaire,
who never forgives, and never thinks any enemy below his notice. He has
accordingly sent to the _Gazette Literaire_, an article with regard to
the 'Elements of Criticism,' which turns that book extremely into
ridicule, with a good deal of wit.[195:1] I tried to have it suppressed
before it was printed; but the authors of that Gazette told me, that
they durst neither suppress nor alter any thing that came from Voltaire.
I suppose his lordship holds that satiric wit as cheap, as he does all
the rest of the human race; and will not be in the least mortified by
his censure.

"The taste for literature is neither decayed nor depraved here, as with
the barbarians who inhabit the banks of the Thames. Some people, who had
read your dissertation, affirmed to me, that it was the finest piece of
criticism, incomparably, to be found in the English tongue. I know not
if you have read the 'Poetique de Marmontel:' it is worth your perusal.
Voltaire has published an edition of Corneille, and his notes and
dissertations contain many fine things. There is a book published in
Holland, in two volumes octavo, called 'De la Nature.' It is prolix, and
in many parts whimsical; but contains some of the boldest reasonings to
be found in print. There is a miscellany in three volumes duodecimo
published here, where there are many good pieces. It is perhaps more
amusing to me, than it will be to you; as there is scarce a poem in it
whose author I do not know, or the person to whom it is addressed.

"It is very silly to form distant schemes: but I am fixed at Paris for
some time, and, to judge by probabilities, for life. My income would
suffice me to live at ease, and a younger brother of the best family
would not think himself ill provided for, if he had such a revenue.
Lodgings, a coach, and clothes, are all I need; and though I have
entered late into this scene of life, I am almost as much at my ease, as
if I had been educated in it from my infancy. However, sickness, or the
infirmities of age, which I may soon expect, may probably make me think
of a retreat: But whether that will be better found in Paris or
elsewhere, time must determine. I forbid myself all resolution on that

"I shall indulge myself in a folly, which I hope you will make a
discreet use of: it is the telling you of an incident which may appear
silly, but which gave more pleasure than perhaps any other I had ever
met with. I was carried, about six weeks ago, to a masquerade, by Lord
Hertford. We went both unmasked; and we had scarce entered the room when
a lady, in mask, came up to me and exclaimed:--'_Ha! Monsr. Hume, vous
faites bien de venir ici a visage découvert. Que vous serez bien comblé
ce soir d'honnêtetés et de politesses! Vous verrez, par des preuves peu
équivoques, jusqu'à quel point vous êtes chéri en France._' This
prologue was not a little encouraging; but, as we advanced through the
hall, it is difficult to imagine the caresses, civilities, and
panegyrics which poured on me from all sides. You would have thought
that every one had taken advantage of his mask to speak his mind with
impunity. I could observe that the ladies were rather the most liberal
on this occasion. But what gave me chief pleasure was to find that most
of the eulogiums bestowed on me, turned on my personal character, my
naïvéte, and simplicity of manners, the candour and mildness of my
disposition, &c.--_Non sunt mihi cornea fibra._ I shall not deny that my
heart felt a sensible satisfaction from this general effusion of good
will; and Lord Hertford was much pleased, and even surprised, though he
said, he thought that he had known before upon what footing I stood with
the good company of Paris.

"I allow you to communicate this story to Dr. Jardine. I hope it will
refute all his idle notions that I have no turn for gallantry and
gaiety,[197:1]--that I am on a bad footing with the ladies,--that my
turn of conversation can never be agreeable to them,--that I never can
have any pretensions to their favours, &c. &c. &c. A man in vogue will
always have something to pretend to with the fair sex.

"Do you not think it happy for me to retain such a taste for idleness
and follies at my years; especially since I have come into a country
where the follies are so much more agreeable than elsewhere? I could
only wish that some of my old friends were to participate with me of
these amusements; though I know none of them that can, on occasion, be
so thoroughly idle as myself.

"I am persuaded you will find great comfort in my house, which, in every
respect, is agreeable. I beg of you and Mrs. Blair, (to whom I desire my
compliments,) that you would sometimes pay some attention to my sister,
who is the person that suffers most by my absence. I am, dear sir, yours
very sincerely."[198:1]

Blair writes, on the 15th November, assuring Hume that he is fully
conscious of the unreasonableness of expecting him to introduce those
who are accredited to him, to the good company of Paris. He says, that
his own friend expressed himself as "very well satisfied" with Hume's
behaviour towards him; and perhaps he had a better reception than the
letter to Blair might seem to indicate. At all events, Blair seems not
to have been discouraged, for he immediately introduced the son of the
provost of Glasgow, travelling for his health, and Arthur Masson, a
teacher of languages, recommending them to such good offices as Hume
finds himself at liberty to bestow on them. It is clear, in short, that
he had not been successful in frightening his friends from requesting
him to perform offices of kindness and courtesy, or from trusting that
he would perform them. The following passage, in Blair's letter, is
evidence of the popularity of the Literary classes of the university of
Edinburgh, during the middle of last century.

     My class was, last season, in such reputation that I gave a
     second course in summer, at the desire of a body of the
     medical students. I am just about to open for this
     winter--with what success I cannot tell; for I tremble for it
     every season. Against next season I intend to print a synopsis
     of my lectures. In the medical school, a revolution is at a
     crisis, which is important to us. Dr. Rutherford wants to
     demit in favour of Frank Hume; a measure pushed by Lord
     Milton, Baron Mure, and John Home; the coalition of three
     formidable powers: but which we college people dread as boding
     us no good; and are much more inclined to another scheme, of
     placing Cullen in Rutherford's chair, and bringing Dr. Black,
     from Glasgow, into the chair of chemistry, which would greatly
     promote the reputation of our college, and which has all the
     popularity on its side at present.

     How unimportant these things seem to you now? I hear much,
     from time to time, of your continuing, nay, increasing
     celebrity and fame. You are just the high mode, they tell
     us--the very delice of all the good company at Paris.

In a letter to Millar, chiefly in reference to some English law books,
which Hume had engaged to obtain for a French lawyer, he recurs to the
Memoirs of King James. He seems to have indolently adopted the notion
that there were few chances of his having an opportunity of making
additions to his History of the Stuarts. He did live, however, to see
more than one new edition of it: but the references in them to the
treasure he had discovered at Paris, are extremely meagre. Another
letter immediately follows, in which we find that his anticipations of
new editions are already outrun by the demands: and we find in his, as
in many other cases, where permanent fame has been reached, that the
excitement of expectant authorship has declined long before its visions
are realized; and that their fulfilment comes at last on minds sobered
down to indifference.


"_Paris, 18th March, 1764._

"I have lived such a life of dissipation as not to be able to think of
any serious occupation. But I begin to tire of that course of life. I
have, however, run over King James's Memoirs, and have picked up some
curious passages, which it is needless to speak of till we have occasion
for a new edition, which I suppose is very distant."

"_Paris, 18th April, 1764._

"DEAR SIR,--All the discoveries I made in King James's Memoirs, make
against himself and his brother; and he is surely a good enough witness
on that side: but I believe him also a man of veracity, and I should
have put trust in any matter of fact that he told from his own
knowledge. But this it is needless for us to talk any more about; since,
I suppose, you have got copies enough of my History, already printed, to
last for your lifetime and mine. I shall certainly never think of adding
another line to it. I am too much your friend to think of it. . . . I
beg my sincere compliments to Mrs. Millar. I saw a few days ago Mrs.
Mallet, who seems to be going upon a strange project, of living alone,
in a hermitage, in the midst of the forest of Fontainbleau. I pass my
time very agreeably here; though somewhat too much dissipated for one of
my years and humour."[201:1]

"_Paris, 23d April, 1764._

"I was very much surprised with what you tell me, that you had made a
new edition in quarto, of my History of the Tudors, and might probably
do the same with that of the Stuarts. I imagined that the octavo edition
would for a long time supersede the necessity of any quarto edition; and
I wonder that of the ancient history did not first become requisite. You
were in the wrong to make any edition without informing me; because I
left in Scotland a copy very fully corrected, with a few alterations,
which ought to have been followed. I shall write to my sister to send it
you, and I desire you may follow it in all future editions, if there be
any such. I shall send you from here the alterations, which my perusal
of King James's Memoirs has occasioned; they are not many, but some of
them, one in particular, is of importance. I have some scruple of
inserting it, on your account, till the sale of the other editions be
pretty considerably advanced. You have not yet informed me how many you
may have upon hand. I suppose a very considerable number. Father Gordon
of the Scots College, who has an exact memory of King James's Memoirs,
was so kind as to peruse anew my History during the Commonwealth, and
the reigns of the two brothers; and he marked all the passages of fact,
where they differed from the Memoirs. They were surprisingly few; which
gave me some satisfaction; because as I told you, I take that prince's
authority for a plain fact to be very good.

"I never see Mr. Wilkes here but at chapel, where he is a most regular,
and devout, and edifying, and pious attendant; I take him to be entirely
regenerate. He told me last Sunday, that you had given him a copy of my
Dissertations, with the two which I had suppressed;[202:1] and that he,
foreseeing danger, from the sale of his library, had wrote to you to
find out that copy, and to tear out the two obnoxious dissertations.
Pray how stands that fact? It was imprudent in you to intrust him with
that copy: it was very prudent in him to use that precaution. Yet I do
not naturally suspect you of imprudence, nor him of prudence. I must
hear a little farther before I pronounce."[202:2]

Millar, writing on 5th June, gives the following account of his conduct
as to the suppressed dissertations.

     "I take Mr. Wilkes to be the same man he was,--acting a part.
     He has forgot the story of the _two_ dissertations. The fact
     is, upon importunity, I lent to him the only copy I preserved,
     and for years never could recollect he had it, till his books
     came to be sold; upon this I went immediately to the gentleman
     that directed the sale, told him the fact, and reclaimed the
     two dissertations which were my property. Mr. Coates, who was
     the person, immediately delivered me the volume; and so soon
     as I got home, I tore them out and burnt them, that I might
     not lend them to any for the future. Two days after, Mr.
     Coates sent me a note for the volume, as Mr. Wilkes had
     desired it should be sent to him to Paris; I returned the
     volume, but told him the two dissertations, I had torn out of
     the volume and burnt, being my property. This is the truth of
     the matter, and nothing but the truth. It was certainly
     imprudent for me to lend them to him."

The interest taken by Hume, as by all his contemporary
fellow-countrymen, in the Douglas cause, has already been noticed. As
the inquiry which had taken place in France had not been long concluded,
and was the object of discussion in the Court of Session, the adherents
of the exiled royal house, and other Scottish families residing in
Paris, naturally took such a deep interest in the proceedings, as the
following letter explains.


"_Paris, 22d June, 1764._

"MY DEAR BARON,--A few days ago I dined with the Duchess of Perth, which
was the first time I had seen that venerable old lady, who is really a
very sensible woman. Part of our conversation was upon the Douglas

"That lady, as well as all the company, as well as every body of common
sense here, shows her entire conviction of that imposture; and there was
present a gentleman, an old friend of yours, a person of very good
understanding and of undoubted honour, who laid open to us a scene of
such deliberate dishonesty on the part of her grace of Douglas and her
partisans, as was somewhat new and surprising. I suppose it is all known
to poor Andrew,[203:1] whom I heartily love and pity. 'Tis certain, that
the imposture is as well known to her grace and her friends, as to any
body; and Hay, the Pretender's old secretary, the only man of common
honesty among them, confessed to this gentleman, that he has frequently
been shocked with their practices, and has run away from them to keep
out of the way of such infamy; though he had afterwards the weakness to
yield to their solicitations. Carnegy knows the roguery as well as the
rest; though I did not hear any thing of his scruples. Lord Beauchamp
and Dr. Trail, our chaplain, passed four months last summer at Rheims,
where this affair was much the subject of conversation. Except one
curate, they did not meet with a person, that was not convinced of the
imposture. Mons. de Puysieuls,[204:1] whose country seat is in the
neighbourhood, told me the same thing. Can any thing be more scandalous
and more extraordinary than Frank Garden's behaviour?[204:2] Can any
thing be more scandalous and more ordinary than Burnet's. I am afraid,
that notwithstanding the palpable justice of your cause, it is yet
uncertain whether you will prevail.

"I continue to live here in a manner amusing enough, and which gives me
no time to be tired of any scene. What between public business, the
company of the learned and that of the great, especially of the ladies,
I find all my time filled up, and have no time to open a book, except it
be some books newly published, which may be the subject of conversation.
I am well enough pleased with this change of life, and a satiety of
study had beforehand prepared the way for it: however, time runs off in
one course of life as well as another, and all things appear so much
alike, that I am afraid of falling into total Stoicism and indifference
about every thing. For instance, I am every moment to be touching on the
time when I am to receive my credential letters of secretary to the
embassy, with a thousand a-year of appointments. The king has promised
it, all the members have promised it; Lord Hertford earnestly solicits
it; the plainest common sense and justice seem to require [it]: yet have
I been in this condition above six months; and I never trouble my head
about the matter, and have rather laid my account that there is to be no
such thing.

"Please to express my most profound respects to Mrs. Mure, and my sense
of the honour she did me. If I have leisure before the carrier goes off,
I shall write her, and give her some account of my adventures; but I
would not show her so little mark of my attention as to write her only
in a postscript. I am, dear Baron," &c.[205:1]

The correspondence with Madame de Boufflers was occasionally resumed,
when Hume or she was absent from Paris. How well the philosopher could
upon occasion accommodate himself to the taste of a French lady of the
court, the following may suffice to show.


     _Compiegne, 6th July, 1764._

     We live in a kind of solitude and retirement at Compiegne; at
     least I do, who, having nothing but a few general acquaintance
     at court, and not caring to make more, have given myself up
     almost entirely to study and retreat. You cannot imagine,
     madam, with what pleasure I return as it were to my natural
     element, and what satisfaction I enjoy in reading, and musing,
     and sauntering, amid the agreeable scenes that surround me.
     But yes, you can easily enough imagine it; you have yourself
     formed the same resolution; you are determined this summer to
     tie the broken thread of your studies and literary amusements.
     If you have been so happy as to execute your purpose, you are
     almost in the same state as myself, and are at present
     wandering along the banks of the same beautiful river, perhaps
     with the same books in your hand, a Racine, I suppose, or a
     Virgil, and despise all other pleasure and amusement. Alas!
     why am I not so near you, that I could see you for half an
     hour a day, and confer with you on these subjects?

     But this ejaculation, methinks, does not lead me directly in
     my purposed road, of forgetting you. It is a short digression,
     which is soon over: and that I may return to the right path, I
     shall give you some account of the state of the court; I mean
     the exterior face of it; for I know no more; and if I did, I
     am become so great a politician, that nothing should make me
     reveal it. The king divides his evenings every week after the
     following manner: one he gives to the public, when he sups at
     the grand convent;[206:1] two he passes with his own family;
     two in a society of men; and, to make himself amends, two he
     passes with ladies, Madame de Grammont, usually, Madame de
     Mirepoix, and Madame de Beauveau. This last princess passed
     three evenings in this manner at the Hermitage immediately
     before her departure, which was on Monday last. I think her
     absence a great loss to that society; I am so presumptuous as
     to think it one to myself. I found her as obliging and as
     friendly as if she had never conversed with kings, and never
     were a politician. I really doubt much of her talent for
     politics. Pray what is your opinion? Is she qualified,
     otherwise than by having great sense and an agreeable
     conversation, to make progress in the road to favour? and are
     not these qualities rather an encumbrance to her? I have met
     her once or twice, with another lady, in whose favour I am
     much prepossessed; she seems agreeable, well behaved,
     judicious, a great reader; speaks as if she had sentiment, and
     was superior to the vulgar train of amusements. I should have
     been willing, notwithstanding my present love of solitude, to
     have cultivated an acquaintance with her, but she did not say
     any thing so obliging to me as to give me encouragement. Would
     you conjecture that I mean the Countess of Tessé? I know not
     whether you are acquainted with that lady. But I shall never
     have done with this idle train of conversation; and therefore,
     to cut things short, I kiss your hands most humbly and
     devoutly, and bid you adieu.[207:1]


[158:1] MS. R.S.E.

[159:1] Walpole says, "The decorum and piety of Lord Hertford occasioned
men to wonder, when, in the room of Bunbury, he chose for his secretary
the celebrated freethinker, David Hume, totally unknown to him; but this
was the effect of recommendations from other Scots, who had much weight
with Lord and Lady Hertford." _Walpole's Memoirs of George III._ i. 264.

[159:2] The change of ministry on which Lord Bute ceased to be minister,
and negotiations were held with Pitt. Hume does not appear to have had
any intercourse with Lord Bute while he was in office. In a letter to
Blair, of 6th October, which will be found in the Appendix on the
"Ossian Controversy," he says, "John Hume [Home] 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

[160:1] Copy R.S.E. The original is in possession of Colonel Mure.

[163:1] MS. R.S.E.

[164:1] Extract of a letter from Dr. Carlyle to the Rev. Thomas Hepburn,
dated 5th September, 1763, in Thorpe's Catalogue of Autographs, for
1833. It would be vain to inquire whither the original has now found its

[165:1] In 1762, Blacklock had received a presentation, as minister to
the parish of Kirkcudbright. His induction was opposed on the ground of
his blindness; and a bitter litigation ensued in the church courts,
while the parishioners, having taken up the matter as vital in a
religious view, persecuted him with all the savage and relentless
cruelty of fanaticism. "No liberal and cultivated mind," he says, in
reference to this dispute, "can entertain the least hesitation in
concluding that there is nothing, either in the nature of things, or
even in the positive institutions of genuine religion, repugnant to the
idea of a blind clergyman. But the novelty of the phenomenon, while it
astonishes vulgar and contracted understandings, inflames their zeal to
rage and madness."

[167:1] Blair, writing to Hume on 29th September, says, "Horace need not
make you at all blush in your present expedition. If I mistake him not
very much, he paid more court to Mæcenas than ever you would have done
to any great man. His _principibus placuisse viris_ was a favourite
passion. Besides that, Horace understood human life too well to refuse
such an opening into high amusement as is now before you: and most
certainly, as you well observe, the farther we advance in life, we need
more to have the scene varied."--(MS. R.S.E.)

[167:2] MS. R.S.E.

[167:3] As a specimen of the flattering testimonials which Hume
occasionally received from France, the following letter from M. Trudaine
de Montigny, a young Frenchman who attained to considerable distinction,
is given:


     "_Paris, 16th May, 1759._

     "I pass my time, both in town and country, in a circle of
     gentlemen, of whom some are acquainted with English, others
     not. They had been highly pleased with some portions of your
     works, which had been translated; and among others with your
     'Political Discourses,' where they found the practical views
     of a citizen, united with the profound reflections of a
     politician, and the perspicacity of a philosopher. To put the
     whole circle in a position to judge for themselves of the
     merit of these works, I undertook, in the course of a country
     jaunt which we took all together, to translate your 'Natural
     History of Religion.' I chose this piece because it appeared
     to me to contain a complete exposition of philosophy on this
     subject. I was well rewarded for my pains, by the pleasure I
     found I gave to all the world. Madame Dupré de St. Maur, who
     has honoured me with the kindest friendship from my infancy,
     told me she wished much that you were made acquainted with
     this feeble effort. M. Steward, whom I met with M. Helvetius,
     and who wished much to hear the perusal, promised to send it
     to you."

Madame Dupré de St. Maur writes, on 16th May, 1759, that Montigny had
received Hume's acknowledgment, which produced more effect on him than
any piece of good fortune he had hitherto experienced. "I partook," she
says, "of his joy the more sensibly, as I had in a great measure
inspired him with confidence to send you his translation, in the
persuasion that great men are the most indulgent."--MS. R.S.E.

We find the tone of this letter frequently responded to in the
correspondence of Grimm with his German patrons, though the Baron does
not always coincide in the praises he has to record. Andrew Stuart,
known by his letters to Lord Mansfield, who before 1763 was much
employed in France in connexion with the Douglas cause, and appears to
have been admitted into the best company there, writes to Sir William
Johnstone on 16th December, 1762: "When you have occasion to see our
friend, David Hume, tell him that he is so much worshipped here, that he
must be void of all passions, if he does not immediately take post for
Paris. In most houses where I am acquainted here, one of the first
questions is, Do you know Mons{r}. Hume, whom we all admire so much?
I dined yesterday at Helvetius's, where this same Mons{r}. Hume
interrupted our conversation very much."--(MS. R.S.E.)

       *       *       *       *       *

The following note, from the impetuous Alexander Murray, responds to the
same strain:--

     "MY DEAR HUME,--The great desire that several French gentlemen
     of my acquaintance have of being known to you, which happiness
     I have promised to procure them, makes me ardently beg the
     favour of you to do me the honour to dine with me any day next
     week (Monday excepted,) that you please to appoint. Your
     rencounters with the men, my dear friend, give me no sort of
     pain; but I freely own to you I am under some uneasiness how
     you will acquit yourself with the fair sex, whose impatience
     of knowing you is not to be expressed. The day you dine with
     me you will meet some folks who admire your productions as
     much as any of your own countrymen, and perhaps comprehend
     your sublime ideas as well as they do. I beg leave to assure
     you that no body loves and admires you more than your most
     sincere friend and humble servant."--(MS. R.S.E.)

     "_Saturday Morning._"

[169:1] Some words obliterated.

[170:1] A word or two obliterated.

[171:1] A translation was published in 1764, by M. A. Eidous; there was
another in 1774, by Blavet.

[172:1] _Literary Gazette_, 1822, p. 648. Corrected from the original
MS. R.S.E.

[172:2] The Poker Club, which had then existed for some time, and was
continued for some years after Hume's death. Its name is supposed to
have been bestowed on it, on account of its services in stirring the
intellectual energies of the members.

[174:1] The name Adam used to be thus altered in the Scottish
vernacular. The person here alluded to is evidently John Adam the
architect, and the "Willie," his son William, who became Lord Chief
Commissioner of the Jury Court in Scotland, and died in 1839.

[175:1] _Literary Gazette_, 1828, p. 683.

[176:1] MS. R.S.E.

[176:2] Madame Belot, whose translation of the "History of the House of
Tudor," was published in 1763, as "Histoire de la Maison de Tudor, &c.
par Madam B * * *." She published a translation of the earlier period of
the History, in 1765. Grimm charges Madame Belot with preposterous
blunders as a translator; and gives, as an instance, her rendering
Hume's allusion to the _Polish aristocracy_, by the words, _une
aristocratie polie_. Of this lady, a curious periodical work, called
"Mémoires Secrets, pour servir a l'Histoire de la République des lettres
en France," says, of date 26th May, 1764, that, after having lived a
life of wretched poverty, scantily supported by the produce of her
translations from the English, she was then living with the President
Mesnieres, whose taste is considered singular as "cette dame est peu
jeune: elle est laide, seche et d'un esprit triste et mélancolique."
Such were then the rewards of female authorship in France!

[177:1] This hint was not adopted. Robertson's work was translated by

[178:1] There can have been no reason for this abbreviation of the title
of the Dauphin and his children, but the circumstance that the letter
was liable to be seen in France, and a full statement might be
considered disrespectful. The first-named was the Duc de Berri,
afterwards Louis XVI.; he was then nine years old. The Count de P. was
the Comte de Provence, afterwards Louis XVIII., born in 1755. The Count
D'A, was the Comte d'Artois, afterwards Charles X., who died in 1836.
Hume has underrated his age, which was six; he was born in 1757. Thus
were these children, who made their little speeches to the historian of
Charles I., all destined to be, successively, kings of France, and to
experience a too intimate acquaintance with such scenes as they found
depicted in his "fine history!"

[179:1] These volumes were lost during the French Revolution. It is said
that an attempt was made to convey them to St. Omers; but having to be
committed, for some time, to the care of a Frenchman, his wife became
alarmed lest the regal emblems on the binding might expose the family to
danger from the Terrorists. The narrative proceeds to say, that she
first cut off the binding and buried the manuscripts, but that being
still haunted by fears, she exhumed and burned them. See the
introduction by Dr. Staniers Clarke, to "The Life of James II." believed
to be an abridgment of these manuscripts. Hume is not consistent as to
the number of volumes.

[179:2] Stewart's Life of Robertson.

[180:1] This letter is not dated.

[181:1] MS. R.S.E.

[182:1] Lord Marischal's attainder having been reversed, he had visited
Scotland, for the purpose of purchasing one of his estates. He thus
communicates the result to Hume in a letter of 23d February.

"I thank you for forwarding my cousin's letter. I wish, now that I am
Laird of Inverury, that he were my son, and of my name. I bought my
estate farthest north. There was no bidder against any one; and great
applause of the spectators." MS. R.S.E.

[184:1] Edmondstoune appears to have been residing at Geneva, as
guardian to Lord Mount-Stuart, Lord Bute's son.

[184:2] Sic in MS.

[184:3] See it noticed in vol. i. p. 405, in connexion with the right of

[187:1] MS. R.S.E.

[187:2] Sic in MS.

[189:1] Original in possession of the Cambusmore family.

[192:1] Minto MSS.

[192:2] The letter proceeds to say, "Our little society here continues
much on the footing you left it; only that we find frequent occasions of
regretting the blank you make amongst us. In our college we are making a
great improvement. In consequence of a bargain made with J. Russel,
Bruce, the Professor of the Law of Nature and Nations, goes out; Balfour
of Pilrig moves into his place; Ferguson into the chair of Moral
Philosophy; and Russel into that of Natural. Is not this clever?" He
then states, that "The taste for French literature grows more and more
amongst us," and hopes he will send any new publication which has merit.
He concludes with mentioning the bankruptcy of the Fairholms, and the
circumstance of Mr. Adam's involvement in it.

[195:1] See Tytler's Life of Kames, vol. ii. p. 148.

[197:1] See Vol. I. p. 232.

[198:1] MS. R.S.E. The latter part of the letter is printed in the
_Literary Gazette_ for 1822, p. 712.

[201:1] MS. R.S.E.

[202:1] See above, p. 14.

[202:2] MS. R.S.E.

[203:1] Andrew Stuart, see above, p. 168.

[204:1] Puisieux?

[204:2] Francis Garden, afterwards a judge of the Court of Session, with
the title of Lord Gardenstone. He was senior, and James Burnet,
afterwards Lord Monboddo, was junior Scottish counsel for Mr. Douglas in
the Tournelle process in France.

[205:1] Copy in R.S.E. The original is in possession of Colonel Mure.

[206:1] Perhaps an error in transcribing _au grand couvert_?

[207:1] Private Correspondence, p. 83-85.


1764-1765. Æt. 53-54.

     The French and English Society of Hume's day--Reasons of his
     warm reception in France--Society in which he moved--Mixture
     of lettered men with the Aristocracy--Madame Geoffrin--Madame
     Du Page de Boccage--Madame Du Deffand--Mademoiselle De
     L'Espinasse--D'Alembert--Turgot--The Prince of Conti--Notices
     of Hume among the Parisians--Walpole in Paris--Resumption of
     the Correspondence--Hume undertakes the management of Elliot's
     sons--Reminiscences of home--Mrs. Cockburn--Adam Smith--Madame
     De Boufflers and the Prince of Conti--Correspondence with Lord

There were many things to make the social position he obtained in France
infinitely gratifying to Hume. Even his good birth was no claim to
admission on a position of liberal familiarity with the higher
aristocracy of England. His descent from a line of Scottish lairds would
be insufficient in the eyes of the Walpoles, Russels, and Seymours, to
distinguish him from the common herd of men who could put on a laced
waistcoat and powdered wig, and command decent treatment from the
lackeys in their ante-chambers. His claims rested on his Literary rank;
and the extent to which such claims might be admitted was fixed by
Hereditary rank at its own discretion. It might cordially receive them
one day, and repel them with cold disdain on another. In this doubtful
and partial recognition, Hume would find himself in the motley crowd of
those who force themselves, or are partly welcomed, into these high
places--dissipated men of genius, underbred men of riches, hardworking,
pertinacious politicians; persons with whom his finely trained mind, his
reserve, and his habit of mixing in a refined though small society of
Scotsmen, would not easily harmonize.

In France matters were widely different; there he was at once warmly and
affectionately received into the bosom of a society to which many of the
supercilious English aristocracy would have sought for admission in
vain. In England no distinct palpable barrier surrounded the
distinguished group. The multitude clamorously asserted an equality. In
default of other qualities, impudence and perseverance were sometimes
sufficient to force admission. In these circumstances, each member of
the privileged classes guarded his own portion of the arena as well as
he might, and the intruder had to fight battle after battle, and contest
every inch of ground he gained.

It seems as if in France the very rigidness with which the select circle
was fortified was the reason why those admitted within it were placed so
thoroughly at their ease. The aristocracy could open the door, look
about them, and invite an individual to enter, without fearing to
encounter a general rush for admission. There was much evil of every
kind in that circle; we have not to deal here with its inward morality,
but its outward form, and it certainly deserves to be remembered as one
of the most memorable instances in which, on any large scale, the
aristocracy of rank and wealth has met the aristocracy of letters
without restraint. The quality of shining in conversation was not to be
despised by the greatest in wealth, or the highest in the peerage; and
their efforts were measured with those of the first wits of the time. To
an aristocracy which could thus amuse itself, it was a great luxury to
be surrounded by men of thought and learning. The courtier who could
open his salon to the wits and philosophers of Paris, was far more
dependant on their presence than they were on the privilege of
admission. If a Barthélemi, a Marmontel, a Condillac, saw cause to
desert the suppers of D'Holbach, they would be received at those of the
Duc de Praslin or de Choiseul, the Prince of Conti, and Madame du
Deffand; but how were such departed stars to be replaced?[209:1]

There is perhaps no more striking type of the character and condition
of the Parisian coteries than one of Hume's most intimate friends,
Madame Geoffrin. In this country, were an uneducated woman to frame and
lead a social party, including the first in rank and in talent of the
day, to which no one under royalty was too great not to deem admission a
privilege; were she to be absolute in her admissions and exclusions,
bold in her sarcasms, free and blunt often to rudeness in her
observations and opinions, and severe or kind to all by turns as her own
choice or caprice suggested, it would be at once pronounced that the
reddest blood and the highest rank could alone produce such an anomaly.
A very small number of eminent duchesses have perhaps occupied such a
position in this country. Yet Madame Geoffrin, who acted this part to
the full among the fastidious aristocracy of France before the
revolution, was the daughter of a valet-de-chambre and the widow of a
glass manufacturer. The foundation of her influence was her success in
making herself the centre of a circle of artists and men of letters. She
was much in the confidence of Madame De Tencin, and on that lady's death
succeeded in transferring to herself what remained of her distinguished
society, dimmed as it was by the departure of Montesquieu and
Fontenelle. Madame Geoffrin by activity and energy widened the circle.
She never made visits herself, and those who had the privilege of
entering her dining-room on her public days, found there assembled
D'Alembert, Helvétius, Raynal, Marmontel, Caraccioli, Holbach, Galliani,
and the artist Vanloo. During the British embassy, David Hume, the great
philosopher from the far North, might there be met; and when all other
attempts had perhaps failed, some chance of encountering such an erratic
meteor as Rousseau still remained in attending Madame Geoffrin's
Wednesday dinner. Having once, by her signal wit and wisdom, gained her
position, no obtrusive rivals from her own deserted class could push
near enough to drive her from it. It is not the least admirable feature
of this remarkable woman, that far from assuming the subdued and
cautious tone of one of her own rank, who must be more wary than a
denizen of committing breaches of the social rules of her new cast, a
simplicity and freedom seems to have accompanied all her actions and
ideas; a courageous adoption of what seemed good to her in place of what
might be fit. Her letters, in their severe diction, give some notion of
the writer's character, but cannot convey so full an impression as when
they are presented in the bold, irregular, and most "unlady-like" hand
in which they are scribbled.[211:1]

The pleasant retailers of the literary chit-chat of that time,
Marmontel, Grimm, Bauchemont, and others, are full of details of Madame
Geoffrin, who, if she was not quite as formally approached as Boufflers,
or Deffand, was as much respected, loved, and feared. The author of the
"Contes Moraux," tells us some of the weaknesses of this gifted lady;
and, according to his account, she had been actually convicted, living
as she was outwardly in the freest society in the world, of a turn for
secret devotion! "Elle avait un apartement dans un couvent de
religieuses et une tribune à l'Eglise des Capucins,--mais avec autant de
mystère que les femmes galantes de ce temps-là avaient des petites
maisons." The picture would be sufficiently ludicrous, were it not for
the darker features presented by a state of society, where no one should
venture to be pious except under pain of being exterminated with

There was one matter as to which Madame Geoffrin was timid and cautious;
she never meddled with matters of state or unsafe political opinions,
and was induced to discountenance those who did so. Surrounded by
restless and inquiring spirits, she often dreaded being compromised by
their conduct; and was especially uneasy at any time when the Bastille
sheltered a more than usual number of those whose wit was wont to flash
round her board. But her guests have recorded, that if there was a
little saddened and earnest gravity in her deportment, when she received
them after such naughty affairs, she abated nothing of her old kindness.
Her good heart indeed was after all her noblest quality. She was one of
those who held the simple notion, that were it not for the judicious
distribution of favours by the rich, the poor, including artisans and
producers of all kinds, must necessarily die of starvation. She was thus
in the midst of an extensive distribution of charities, actively
occupied in the _encouragement_ of those who lived by the sweat of their
brow; and if she believed that she accomplished much more than she
actually did, it was a satisfaction not to be grudged to one who
occupied herself with the fortunes of the poor, in the midst of the
stony indifference of the French aristocracy of that day.

Another lady, a friend and correspondent of Hume, Madame le Page du
Boccage, endeavoured to rival Madame Geoffrin as a centre of attraction;
but though she possessed, along with wealth, both rank and beauty, she
was unsuccessful, on account of the presence of a third
quality--authorship. The wits must praise her bad poetry if they
frequented her house, and where so many other doors were open without
such a condition, they abandoned it. "Elle était d'une figure aimable,"
says Grimm, "elle est bonne femme; elle est riche; elle pouvait fixer
chez elle les gens d'esprit et de bonne compagnie, sans les mettre dans
l'embarras de lui parler avec peu de sincérité de sa _Colombiade_ ou de
ses _Amazones_."[213:1]

Perhaps of all these eminent women, while Madame de Boufflers had the
greatest amount of elegance and accomplishment, Madame du Deffand had
the sharpest and most searching wit. She was the author of that
proverbial _bon mot_ about St. Denis carrying his head under his arm,
_il n'y a que le premier pas qui coûte_; a saying sufficient to make a
reputation in France. Madame du Deffand does not appear to have been a
correspondent of Hume, nor, though they occasionally met, does much
cordiality seem to have subsisted between them.[214:1] The aveugle
clairvoyante, as Voltaire aptly called her, in allusion to her blindness
and her wit, thought that she discovered in Hume a worshipper at another
shrine. She wrote to Walpole expressing her disgust of those who paid
court to Madame de Boufflers, at the same time, only just not stating,
in express terms, how much they were mistaken in not transferring their
obsequiousness to herself.[214:2] She, certainly an object of pity from
her blindness, was still more so in her own discontented spirit. The
days which tranquil ease and the attentions of kind friends might have
soothed, were disturbed by restless vanity, an intense desire to
interfere with the doings of that world which she could not see,
dissipation, and literary wrangles.

One remarkable person, an offshoot of Madame du Deffand's circle, and
driven forth from it to raise an empire of her own, was Mademoiselle de
L'Espinasse. Hume and she met frequently in Paris, and they subsequently
corresponded together. She was an illegitimate child, who, having been
well educated, had been adopted by Madame du Deffand as her companion,
and the minister for supplying, as far as possible, her lost sense of
sight. Mademoiselle had to be present at those displays of intellect
which illuminated the table of her mistress. It soon began to transpire
that the humble drudge possessed a soul of fire; and taking part in the
conversation, her remarks rose as she acquired confidence and ease, into
an originality of thought, fulness of judgment, and rich eloquence of
language, which fascinated the senses of those veteran champions in the
arena of intellect. Thus many of those who went to offer their incense
to a woman old and blind, were constrained to bestow some of it on one
"young in years, but in sage counsel old," who had little more outward
claim on their admiration; for Mademoiselle de L'Espinasse was naturally
plain, and was deeply marked with smallpox. The patroness did not
present herself till six o'clock in the evening; to her who knew no
difference between light and darkness it was morning. She often found
that her protégée had been entertaining the guests for an hour, and that
they had come early to enjoy her conversation. This was treason--an
overt tampering with the allegiance of the followers; and the
subordinate was driven forth with contumely.

It is not easy to decide which party, if either, was in the right;
though the memoir writers in general take the part of Mademoiselle de
L'Espinasse. Far from being made a homeless wanderer by the dismissal,
she was immediately supplied with a house and furniture by her friends,
who obtained for her a pension from the crown. On these means she
founded a rival establishment of her own; and surrounded herself with an
intellectual circle, which seems to have more than rivalled in
brilliancy that from which she was dismissed. D'Alembert was told that
if he countenanced the new idol, he must bid farewell to his former
patroness. He at once joined the party of the young aspirant. He became
dangerously ill, and Mademoiselle de L'Espinasse nursed him with the
untiring affection of a wife or a daughter. The philosopher, whose
humble dwelling was found to be on too sordid a scale to be consistent
with health, thenceforth took up his abode with his young friend. Hume
must have witnessed the rise of this new connexion, for it was during
his residence in Paris that D'Alembert's illness took place, and it is
the object of occasional anxious allusion by his Parisian

Though the circumstances in which he passed his earlier days were not
likely to nourish such a taste, no man seems to have been more dependant
on the presence of an educated and intellectual female than the
secretary of the Academy. There is little doubt that the new attachment
was of a Platonic character; but it boded evil to both parties. The
lady, if she had some portion of the purer affections of the soul to
bestow upon the sage, had warmer feelings for likelier objects; and her
frame sunk before the consuming fires of more than one passion.[218:1]
She was carried to an early grave, and the mortifications, caused by her
alienation, followed by grief for her death, broke the spirit, and
imbittered and enfeebled the latter days of the philosopher. Hume seems
to have established a closer friendship with D'Alembert than with any of
his other contemporaries in France; and he left a memorial of his regard
for the encyclopediast in his will. Unlike, in many respects, they had
some features in common. D'Alembert's personal character, and the habits
of his life, had, like his philosophy, the dignity of simplicity. His
figure, and still more his voice, were the objects of much malicious
sarcasm; but cruel jests could not make his fragile body less the
tenement of a noble spirit; or his shrill puny voice less the instrument
of great and bold thoughts. His mind stands forth in strong relief from
the frippery of that age; while his writings contain no marks of that
reckless infidelity which distinguishes the productions of his fellow
labourers. In some of those follies, so prevalent that a man utterly
free of them, must have courted the charge of eccentricity, if not of
insanity, he partook; but moderately and reluctantly, as one suited for
a better time and a nobler sphere of exertion. In the quarrel with
Rousseau, he adopted the cause of Hume with honest zeal. He wrote many
letters to Hume, which are still preserved. They perhaps, in some
measure, exhibit the least amiable feature of his character--his
bitterness, it might be almost termed hatred, towards Madame du Deffand,
on account of her conduct to his own friend.

It is unnecessary to discourse, at any length, on the distinguished
men--including the names of Buffon, Malesherbes, Diderot, Crébillon,
Morellet, Helvétius, Holbach, Hénault, Raynal, Suard, La Condamine, and
De Brosses, who courted Hume's company in France. Next to D'Alembert,
his closest friendship seems to have been with the honest and thoughtful
statesman, Turgot; who, in the midst of that reckless whirl of vanity,
was already looking far into the future, and predicting, from the
disorganized and menacing condition of the elements of French society,
the storm that was to come. He wrote many letters to Hume, containing
remarks on matters of statesmanship and political economy, which are of
great interest in a historical and economical view, especially in one
instance, where he notices the want of any common principle of
sympathies and interests connecting the aristocracy with the people, and
reflects on the dangerous consequences of such a state of matters to the
peace of Europe.

There are many circumstances showing that much as he loved the social
ease, combined with learning and wit, for which his Parisian circle was
conspicuous, he disliked one prominent feature of that social
system--the scornful infidelity, the almost intolerance of any thing
like earnest belief, so often exhibited, both in speech and conduct. Sir
Samuel Romilly has preserved the following curious statement by
Diderot:--"He spoke of his acquaintance with Hume. 'Je vous dirai un
trait de lui, mais il vous sera un peu scandaleux peut-être, car vous
Anglais vous croyez _un peu_ en Dieu; pour nous autres nous n'y croyons
guères. Hume dîna avec une grande compagnie chez le Baron D'Holbach. Il
était assis à côté du Baron; on parla de la religion naturelle: 'Pour
les Athées,' disait Hume, 'je ne crois pas qu'il en existe; je n'en ai
jamais vu.' 'Vous avez été un peu malheureux,' répondit l'autre, 'vous
voici à table avec dix-sept pour la première fois.'"[220:1]

The secretary's residence in the metropolis was occasionally varied by
official sojourns to Fontainbleau, or Compiègne, a visit to the Duchesse
de Barbantane at Villers Cotterets, or an excursion with Madame de
Boufflers and the Prince of Conti to L'Ile-Adam. That rural seat of
princely magnificence and hospitality is a familiar name in the memoirs
of the times; and particularly in those of Madame de Genlis. It is
singular, indeed, that this lady never mentions Hume, though she appears
to have been living in the castle at the time when he visited it. The
Prince of Conti was in every way possessed of the external
qualifications which, in the eyes of his countrymen, were then the
proper ornaments of his high station. He was brave, a distinguished
military leader, generous, extravagant, gallant, and a lover of
literature and the arts.[221:1] There was probably little in such a
character to rival a Turgot, or a D'Alembert in Hume's esteem; but
his intercourse with this prince, as with De Rohan, De Choiseul, and
others, would be of a more limited and formal character.[221:2] His
influence with courtiers and statesmen, however, appears to have been
considerable. In the letters addressed to him there are several
instances where French people solicit his interposition with the great:
thus, Madame Helvétius desires his good offices to procure an abbaye for
her friend and neighbour the Abbé "Macdonalt," of an illustrious Irish
family.[222:1] One lady, seeking ecclesiastical patronage, tells him
that the clergy will have more pleasure in doing him a favour than in
performing the functions of their office!

Hume has thus recorded in his "own life" the impression left on him by
his reception in Paris:--"Those who have not seen the strange effects of
modes, will never imagine the reception I met with at Paris, from men
and women of all ranks and stations. The more I resiled from their
excessive civilities, the more I was loaded with them. There is,
however, a real satisfaction in living at Paris; from the great number
of sensible, knowing, and polite company with which that city abounds
above all places in the universe. I thought once of settling there for
life." If he thought that he could have taken up his residence in Paris,
and preserved for the remainder of his days the fresh bloom of his
reputation, he was undoubtedly mistaken; but, dazzled as he in some
measure was, we can see in his correspondence that he estimated the
sensation he made pretty nearly at its just value. In the circle of
toys, seized and discarded, by a giddy fashionable crowd, philosophy
will have its turn, as well as poodles, parrots, tulips, monkeys, cafés,
and black pages. It had been so a century earlier, when the most
abstruse works of Des Cartes had been the ornament of every fashionable
lady's toilette; and now the wheel had revolved and philosophy was again
in vogue.

A second time we have Lord Charlemont affording us a passing sketch of
Hume. Having had an opportunity of witnessing the philosopher's
reception in France, he says:--

     "From what has been already said of him, it is apparent that
     his conversation to strangers, and particularly to Frenchmen,
     could be little delightful, and still more particularly, one
     would suppose, to French women: and yet no lady's toilette was
     complete without Hume's attendance. At the opera his broad
     unmeaning face was usually seen _entre deux jolis minois_. The
     ladies in France gave the ton, and the ton was deism: a
     species of philosophy ill suited to the softer sex, in whose
     delicate frame weakness is interesting, and timidity a
     charm. . . . . How my friend Hume was able to endure the
     encounter of these French female Titans, I know not. In
     England, either his philosophic pride or his conviction that
     infidelity was ill suited to women, made him perfectly averse
     from the initiation of ladies into the mysteries of his

The same characteristics are recorded by Grimm.[223:2] We have his
position still more vividly painted by Madame d'Epinay, according to
whom he must have undergone not a small portion of the martyrdom of
lionism. One of the "rages" of the day was the holding of cafés, or
giving entertainments in private houses, according to the arrangements
and etiquette of a public café. Among the amusements of the evening were
pantomimes, and acted tableaux. In these it was necessary that Hume
should take a _rôle_, and as he was always willing to conform to
established regulations, we find him seated as a sultan between two
obdurate beauties, intending to strike his bosom, but aiming the blows
at _le ventre_, and accompanying his acting with characteristic

Hume's popularity in Paris appears to have somewhat disturbed Horace
Walpole's equanimity. He was too good an artist to be very angry, or to
express himself in terms of aggravated bitterness; but it is clear from
occasional notices, that, notwithstanding his professed admiration of
Scotsmen, it displeased him to find Hume the Scotsman sitting at the
king's gate. Writing to Lady Hervey on 14th Sept. 1765, he says, "Mr.
Hume, that is _the mode_, asked much about your ladyship."[225:1] Then
to Montague, on the 22d of the same month, and in allusion to the
conversation of the dinner-table in Paris:

     For literature, it is very amusing when one has nothing else
     to do. I think it rather pedantic in society: tiresome when
     displayed professedly; and, besides, in this country, one is
     sure it is only the fashion of the day. Their taste in it is
     the worst of all; could one believe, that when they read our
     authors, Richardson and Mr. Hume should be their favourites?
     The latter is treated here with perfect veneration. His
     History, so falsified in many points, so partial in as many,
     so very unequal in its parts, is thought the standard of

Thus, and in the like strain, do the French suffer in his good opinion,
for their offence in making an idol of Hume. So, on the 3d October, when
writing to Mr. Chute,--

     Their authors, who by the way are every where, are worse than
     their own writings, which I don't mean as a compliment to
     either. In general, the style of conversation is solemn,
     pedantic, and seldom animated, but by a dispute. I was
     expressing my aversion to disputes: Mr. Hume, who very
     gratefully admires the tone of Paris, having never known any
     other tone, said with great surprise, "Why, what do you like,
     if you hate both disputes and whisk?"[225:3]

Then, on the 19th of the same month, to Mr. Brand:

     I assure you, you may come hither very safely, and be in no
     danger from mirth. Laughing is as much out of fashion as
     pantins and bilboquets. Good folks, they have no time to
     laugh. There is God and the king to be pulled down first; and
     men and women, one and all, are devoutly employed in the
     demolition. They think me quite profane for having any belief
     left. But this is not my only crime; I have told them, and am
     undone by it, that they have taken from us to admire the two
     dullest things we had--Whisk and Richardson. It is very true
     that they want nothing but George Grenville to make their
     conversations, or rather dissertations, the most tiresome upon
     earth. For Lord Lyttelton, if he would come hither, and turn
     freethinker once more, he would be reckoned the most agreeable
     man in France,--next to Mr. Hume, who is the only thing in the
     world that they believe implicitly, which they must do, for I
     defy them to understand any language that he speaks.[226:1]

At this time Adam Smith was travelling in France, with his pupil, the
young Duke of Buccleuch. On 5th July, 1764, he writes from Toulouse,
requesting Hume to give him and his pupil introductions to distinguished
Frenchmen, the Duc de Richelieu, the Marquis de Lorges, &c. He says,
that Mr. Townsend had assured him of these and other introductions, from
the Duc de Choiseul, but that none had made their appearance in that
quarter. Smith seems to have been heartily tired of the glittering
bondage of his tutorship, and to have sighed for the academic
conviviality he had left behind him at Glasgow. He says:--

"The Duke is acquainted with no Frenchman whatever. I cannot cultivate
the acquaintance of the few with whom I am acquainted, as I cannot bring
them to our house, and am not always at liberty to go to theirs. The
life which I led at Glasgow, was a pleasureable dissipated life in
comparison of that which I lead here at present. I have begun to write a
book, in order to pass away the time. You may believe I have very little
to do. If Sir James would come and spend a month with us in his travels,
it would not only be a great satisfaction to me, but he might, by his
influence and example, be of great service to the Duke."[228:1]

There is little doubt that the book he had begun to write, was the
"Wealth of Nations:" and we have here probably the earliest announcement
of his employing himself in that work. On the 21st of October, he writes
from Toulouse, stating that the letters of introduction had reached
him, and that his noble pupil was well received. He says, "Our
expedition to Bourdeaux, and another we have made since to Bagneres, has
made a great change upon the Duke. He begins now to familiarize himself
to French company; and I flatter myself I shall spend the rest of the
time we are to live together, not only in peace and contentment, but in
great amusement."

Amidst the multiplied attractions of Paris, Hume's thoughts were often
turned to his native city, and the circle of kind friends and admirers
he had there left behind him. Such reminiscences of home doings as are
contained in the following letters, would doubtless ensure his warm
attention. On 1st July, Blair writes:

     Robertson has, of late, had worse health than usual, which has
     somewhat interrupted his studies. He talked once of a trip to
     France this season; but his want of the language is so
     discouraging, as seems to have made him lay aside thoughts of
     it for the present. It will be a twelvemonth more, I suppose,
     before his Charles V. shall see the light.

     I dined this day with Sir James Macdonald, on whose praises I
     need not expatiate to you. Much conversation we had about you;
     and a great deal I heard of your flourishing state. You write
     concerning it yourself, like a philosopher and a man of sense.
     The first splendour and eclat of such situations soon loses
     its lustre, and often, as you found it, is burdensome. Ease
     and agreeable society are the only things that last and
     remain; and these, now that you are quite naturalized, and
     have formed habits of life, I imagine you enjoy in a very
     comfortable degree. The society at Paris, to one who has all
     your advantages for enjoying it in its perfection, is, I am
     fully convinced, from all that I have heard, the most
     agreeable in the whole world.

     Our education here is at present in high reputation. The
     Englishes are crowding down upon us every season, and I wish
     may not come to hurt us at the last.[229:1]

Jardine writes, on 1st August:--

     I have attempted, four or five times, to write to you but this
     poor church has, for some time past, been in such danger, that
     I could never find time for it. She has employed all my
     thoughts and care for these twelve months past. The enemy had
     kindled such a flame, that the old burning bush was like to
     have been consumed altogether. I know it will give you
     pleasure to hear that my endeavours to preserve her have been
     crowned with success. She begins to shine forth with her
     ancient lustre; and will very soon be, not only fair as the
     sun, but, to all her enemies, terrible as an army with

It is pleasing to find one whose name has been so much associated with
the later school of our national literature, as Mrs. Cockburn, the early
friend of Scott, enjoying the intimacy of the sages of the philosophical
age of Scottish letters. This accomplished lady, well known as the
authoress of one of the versions of "The Flowers of the Forest," was a
correspondent of Hume. A few of her letters have been preserved; and the
following are her free and animated remarks on Hume's flattering
reception in France,--remarks written in the full assurance that neither
adulation nor prosperity would diminish the regard of that simple manly
heart, for the chosen friends he had left in his native soil.

     From the bleak hills of the north, from the uncultured
     daughter of Caledon, will the adored sage of France deign to
     receive a few lines: they come from the _heart_ of a friend,
     and will be delivered by the _hand_ of an enemy. Which, O man
     of mode, is most indifferent to thee? Insensible thou art
     alike to gratitude or resentment; fit for the country that
     worships thee. Thou art equally insensible to love or hate. A
     momentary applause, ill begot, and worse brought up,--an
     abortion, a fame not founded on truth,--have bewitched thee,
     and thou hast forgot those who, overlooking thy errors, saved
     thy worth. Idol of Gaul, I worship thee not. The very cloven
     foot, for which thou art worshipped, I despise: yet I remember
     _thee_ with affection. I remember that, in spite of vain
     philosophy, of dark doubts, of toilsome learning, God had
     stamped his image of benignity so strong upon thy _heart_,
     that not all the labours of thy head could efface it. Idol of
     a foolish people, be not puffed up; it is easy to overturn the
     faith of a multitude that is ready to do evil: an apostle of
     less sense might bring to that giddy nation--libertinism;
     liberty they are not born to. This will be sent to you by your
     good friend, Mr. Burnet; who goes much such an errand as you
     have given yourself through life, viz., in search of truth;
     and I believe both are equally impartial in the search;
     though, indeed, he has more visible interests for darkening it
     than ever you had.

     _Castlehill, Baird's Close, Aug. 20th, 1764._[231:1]


"_Paris, 3d September, 1764._

"It is certain that nothing could be a greater inducement to me to
continue my History, than your desiring so earnestly I should do so. I
have so great reason to be satisfied with your conduct towards me, that
I wish very much to gratify you in every thing that is practicable; and
there want not other motives to make me embrace that resolution. For,
though I think I have reason to complain of the blindness of party,
which has made the public do justice to me very slowly, and with great
reluctance, yet I find that I obtain support from many impartial people;
and hope that I shall every day have more reason to be satisfied in that
particular. But, in my present situation, it is impossible for me to
undertake such a work; and I cannot break off from Lord Hertford, as
long as he is pleased to think me useful to him. I shall not, however,
lose sight of this object; and any materials that cast up, in this
country, shall be carefully collected by me.

"I am glad you are satisfied with the publication of the new edition of
my Essays. I shall be obliged to you if you will inform yourself exactly
how many copies are now sold, both of that edition and of the octavo
edition of my History. I think both these editions very correct. I did
little more than see your friends, Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Wilson, at
Paris, and present them to Lord Hertford. We returned not from Compiegne
till a few days before they left Paris. . . . . . I think the Duchess of
Douglas has chosen well in making Mallet one of her commissioners. I
have no good opinion of that cause. Mrs. Mallet has retired into the
forest of Fontainbleau with a Macgregor. I fancy she is angry with me,
and thought herself neglected by me while in Paris. I heard of her
thrusting herself every where into companies, who endeavoured to avoid
her; and I was afraid she would have laid hold of me to enlarge her
acquaintance among the French. I have not yet executed your commission
with Mons{r}. le Roy, but shall not forget it. I am very glad that Mrs.
Millar is so good as to remember me. I shall regard it as one agreeable
circumstance attending my return to England, that you and she will have
leisure to give more of your company to your friends; and I shall always
be proud to be ranked in the number.

"The lowness of stocks surely proceeds not from any apprehension of war:
never was a general peace established in Europe with more likelihood of
its continuance; but I fancy your stocks are become at last too
weighty, to the conviction of all the world. What must happen, if we go
on at the same rate during another war? I am, with great sincerity, dear
sir, your most obedient humble servant."[233:1]

The course of correspondence with Elliot, which commences with the next
following letter, relates, in a great measure, to the disposal of his
two sons at Paris, and to their future training and education.[233:2]
There could be no better evidence of the reliance placed in Hume's
honourable principles and knowledge of the world, by those friends who
were sufficiently intimate with him, fully to appreciate his character;
while his whole conduct in the transaction shows kindness of heart, with
a warm attachment to friends, and an earnest disposition to serve them.


     MY DEAR SIR,--My departure from Paris was so very sudden, that
     I was obliged to leave many of my little schemes uncompleted;
     and, what was still more mortifying, to see the progress of
     all my growing attachments cruelly interrupted. I reached this
     place just in time, though not a little retarded by the
     Russian chancellor and his forty horses. Had I but foreseen
     this obstruction, I might as well have set out on Wednesday
     morning at two o'clock; and in that case, my dear
     philosopher, what a delicious evening should I have passed in
     your company.

     Upon full deliberation I am determined to send you my boys, if
     a tolerable place can be found for their reception. I did not
     much like that talking professor, who undertakes so largely:
     if nothing better can be done, pray take the trouble to renew
     my negotiation with Madame Anson. Her house, though not just
     what I could wish, is, however, not much amiss. I must not
     lose this occasion of sending my children to France. I shall
     never find any other so favourable. It will be no small
     consolation to their mother, from whom they are now to be
     separated for the first time, to know that we are not without
     a friend in Paris, who will sometimes have an eye to their
     conduct. If I am not too partial, I think you will find in
     their character much native simplicity, and perhaps some
     little elevation of mind. Send them back to me, my dear sir,
     with the same qualities, tempered, if you will, but not
     impaired by the acquisition of some few of those graces which
     spread such an inexpressible charm through those societies
     where even you are not ashamed to pass so many precious hours.

     If you should find no leisure to give them a moment's
     instruction, tell them at least to look up to the conduct and
     character of a young friend of ours at Paris.[234:1] There
     they will find a model, which, without hoping to equal, it
     will, however, become them to copy. But, after all, what am I
     about? At Paris, to have children at all, is _de plus mauvais
     ton de monde_, and I forgot to inform myself, when one happens
     to have them, whether it be _permitted_ to take any thought
     about them. I am impatient to hear from you at London. I shall
     not be long there. I desire you would take this important
     business into your hands and settle it for me entirely. I will
     send them over the moment you desire me, and consigned to whom
     you direct,--the sooner the better: you will settle all other
     particulars as you find proper. Before I conclude, allow me in
     friendship also to tell you, I think I see you at present upon
     the very brink of a precipice. One cannot too much clear
     their mind of all little prejudices, but partiality to one's
     country is not a prejudice. Love the French as much as you
     will. Many of the individuals are surely the proper objects of
     affection; but, above all, continue still an Englishman. You
     know, better than any body, that the active powers of our mind
     are much too limited to be usefully employed in any pursuit
     more general than the service of that portion of mankind which
     we call our country. General benevolence and private
     friendship will attend a generous mind and a feeling heart,
     into every country; but political attachment confines itself
     to one.

          Mon _fils_, sur les humains que ton ame attendrie,
          Habite l'univers, mais aime sa patrie.

     I have not now leisure to trouble you with the few
     observations my too short stay at Paris had but imperfectly
     furnished me with. Irreconcileable to the principles of their
     government, I am delighted with the amenity and gentleness of
     their manners. I was even pleased to find that the severity
     and rigour of our English climate had not rendered me
     altogether insensible to the kind impressions of a milder sky.
     May I trouble you with my most cordial and sincere respects to
     Lord and Lady Hertford. Some French names, too, I could
     mention, but I am not vain enough to imagine that I can, upon
     so short an acquaintance, have a place in their remembrance.
     Believe me, very dear sir, yours very sincerely, and most

                                      GILBERT ELLIOT.[235:1]

     (I set out this moment.)

     _Brussels, 15th September, 1764._

HUME _to_ GILBERT ELLIOT _of Minto_.

"_Paris, 22d Sept. 1764._

"As soon as I received yours from Brussels, I set on foot my inquiries.
I spoke to Abbé Hooke, to Père Gordon, to Clairaut, to Madame de Pri,
and to others, with a view of finding some proper settlement for your
young gentlemen. Every body told me, as _they_ did, of the difficulty of
succeeding in my scheme; and nothing yet has been offered me, that I
would advise you to accept of. I went to Madame Anson's, and found that
family a very decent, sensible kind of people. I came in upon them about
seven o'clock, and found a company of eight or nine persons assembled,
whose aspects pleased me very much. The only objection that occurred to
me with regard to this family, is the quarter of the town, which is not
only so unfashionable, that my coachman was astonished when I ordered
him to drive thither, but, what is worse, it is far from all walks and
places of exercise. However, it is near the university; and,
consequently, it is in that quarter where all the youth of France are
educated. If nothing better present itself, I shall conclude a bargain
with this family for a thousand crowns a-year, without firing or
washing, according to the terms proposed to you, which they said they
could not depart from. The misfortune is, that I must go to Fontainbleau
in about a fortnight, and, consequently, am straitened in my time of
inquiry; but, in all cases, I shall certainly conclude with somebody
before my departure. We stay six weeks at Fontainbleau, during which
time, if you send your sons to Paris, I shall take a journey thither to
receive them. In all cases, they must come immediately to the Hotel de
Brancas, where they will not want friends.

"I do not like the talking man more than you do; and a flattering letter
I have since received from him, does not augment my good opinion. I went
to Monsieur Bastide, he who proposed the scheme for ten thousand livres
a-year. He seems to be a genteel, well-bred man; lives in a very good
house in an excellent quarter of the town; is well spoke of by
D'Alembert and others; and has with him two very agreeable boys, Russian
princes, who speak French very well. I should have given him the
preference, had it not been the price. He asks ten thousand livres
a-year for your two sons and their governor, without supplying them
either with clothes or masters. You know his ten thousand a-piece
included all expenses. If you can resolve to go so far in point of
expense, it is the best place that occurs, or is likely to occur.

"Since I wrote the above, I went to see Mademoiselle L'Espinasse,
D'Alembert's mistress, who is really one of the most sensible women in
Paris. She told me that there could not be a worthier, honester, better
man, than Bastide. I told her that I had entertained the same opinion,
but was afraid his head-piece was none of the best. She owned that he
did not excel on that side; and a proof of it was, that he had wrote
several books, all of which were below middling. On my return home, I
found the enclosed letter from him.[237:1] I have promised him an answer
by the return of the post from England. On the whole, the chief
advantage, as it appears to me, which his house will have above Anson's,
consists in the air and situation. It lies on the skirts of the town, in
an open street near the rampart; but five thousand livres a-year is
paying too dear for the advantage.

"I cannot imagine what you mean by saying I am on a precipice. I shall
foretell to you the result of my present situation almost with as great
certainty as it is possible to employ with regard to any future event.
As soon as Lord Hertford's embassy ends, which probably may not
continue long, some zealot, whom I never saw, and never could offend,
finding me without protection, will instanter fly, with alacrity, to
strike off that pension which the king and the ministry, before I would
consent to accept of my present situation, promised should be for life.
I shall be obliged to leave Paris, which I confess I shall turn my back
to with regret. I shall go to Thoulouse or Montauban, or some provincial
town in the south of France, where I shall spend, contented, the rest of
my life, with more money, under a finer sky, and in better company than
I was born to enjoy.

"From what human motive or consideration can I prefer living in England
than in foreign countries? I believe, taking the continent of Europe,
from Petersburg to Lisbon, and from Bergen to Naples, there is not one
who ever heard of my name, who has not heard of it with advantage, both
in point of morals and genius. I do not believe there is one Englishman
in fifty, who, if he heard I had broke my neck to-night, would be sorry.
Some, because I am not a Whig; some because I am not a Christian; and
all because I am a Scotsman. Can you seriously talk of my continuing an
Englishman? Am I, or are you, an Englishman? Do they not treat with
derision our pretensions to that name, and with hatred our just
pretensions to surpass and govern them? I am a citizen of the world; but
if I were to adopt any country, it would be that in which I live at
present, and from which I am determined never to depart, unless a war
drives me into Switzerland or Italy.

"I must now inform you what passed with regard to my affair at
L'ile-Adam.[238:1] My friend showed me a letter, which she had lately
received from Lord Tavistock, by which it appears he had fallen into
great friendship, and bore a great regard to Lady Sarah Bunbury. I
instantly forbade her to write to England a line about my affair. I bear
too great a respect to her, to expose her to ask a favour, where there
was so little probability of success: thus have vanished my best hopes
of obtaining justice in this point. Here is surely no new ground of
attachment to England."[239:1]

HUME _to_ GILBERT ELLIOT _of Minto_.

"_Hotel de Brancas, 30th Sept. 1764._

"After acknowledging that I received both your letters, that from
Brussels, and that from Calais, I should be ashamed to appear before you
with so late a letter. This day fortnight, Lord March and Selwin
appointed to go off. I sent March a very long letter for you, and
enjoined him, as he lived next door to you, to deliver it the moment he
arrived; and having thus done my duty, I went very contentedly to
L'ile-Adam, where I remained for four days. On my return to Paris, I was
much surprised to hear that March, after his post-chaise was yoked, had
changed his mind, and was still in Paris. When I appeared alarmed at
this intelligence, I was told that he had sent off an express to London
with letters, which composed my mind. Next day I saw him, and he fairly
confessed, that from forgetfulness, he had not sent off my letter. I
begged him to send it to me; he promised it, delayed it, promised again,
and at last owns that he has lost it; which gives me great vexation,
both on your account, and my own, for I spoke to you with great freedom,
and am infinitely uneasy lest my letter should fall into bad
hands.[241:1] When I rail at March, I get no other reply than, 'God damn
you! if your letter was of consequence, why the devil did you trust it
to such a foolish fellow as me?' I am therefore obliged, in a great
hurry, to give you some imperfect account of what I have done. I went to
Ansons', who seem a discreet, sober set of people. I came in upon a
mixed company, whose looks pleased me: the only objection is the quarter
of the town, which is straitened; but it is near the University, and
consequently where all the youth of France are educated. I do not like
the talking man more than you; and a very flattering letter he wrote me,
helped further to disgust me. La Bastide, the 10,000 livres man, I went
to see: he seems an agreeable man, and is well spoke of; he lives in an
agreeable house, and in a good air, and has two young Russian princes
with him, who speak very good French; he offers to take your two boys
and preceptor for 8000 livres on the whole, but without paying either
clothes or master. I suppose you would not choose to pay 5000 livres
a-year, merely for the advantage of better air. I have heard a very good
character of one Eriot, professor of rhetoric in the Collège de
Beauvais, who offers to take them: they would live in the house with
him alone; but he proposes that they should go to all the classes of the
university, where they would make acquaintance with French boys, and
nobody would ever ask questions about their religion: But as I heard you
declare against their going to the university, (which yet I should
highly approve of,) I cannot make any bargain with Eriot. The misfortune
is, I go to Fontainbleau to-morrow se'ennight, and must conclude a
bargain without hearing from you, by this fine trick Lord March has
played me. It is probable, therefore, it will be with Anson, because you
yourself did not disapprove of that plan; and I should be afraid to
depart from it considerably, without your authority. If you give me
information in time, I shall come from Fontainbleau to settle your boys.
In any case make them come immediately to the Hotel de Brancas, where
they will not want friends if any of the family be in town.

"Since I wrote the above, one of my numerous scouts came to me, and told
me, that within gunshot of the Hotel de Brancas, there was to be found
all I could wish, and more than I could have imagined. It is called La
Pension Militaire. I immediately went to see it. I found there an
excellent airy house, with an open garden belonging to it. It is the
best house but one in Paris; has a prospect and access into the large
open space of the Invalids, and from thence into the fields. The number
of boys is limited to thirty-five, whom I saw in the court, in a blue
uniform with a narrow silver lace. They left off their play, and made me
a bow with the best grace in the world, as I passed. I was carried to
their master the Abbé Choquart, who appeared to me a sensible, sedate,
judicious man, agreeable to the character I had received of him. He
carried me through the boys' apartments, which were cleanly, light,
spacious, and each lay in a small bed apart. I saw a large collection of
instruments for experimental philosophy. I saw an ingenious machine for
teaching chronology. There were plans of fortification. While I was
considering these, I heard a drum beat in the court. It was the hour for
assembling the boys for their military exercises. I went down. They had
now all got on their belts, and had their muskets in their hands. They
went through all the Prussian exercises with the best air and greatest
regularity imaginable. Almost all were about your son's age, a year or
two more or less. They are the youth of the best quality in France;
their air and manners seemed to bespeak it. The master asked only about
thirteen hundred livres a-year for each of your boys, five hundred for
the preceptor. He supplies them with all masters, except those of
dancing, music, and designing; for these they have masters that come in,
who take only eight livres a-month, though they require from others
three louis-d'ors. There is a riding master belonging to the house. Your
sons need never go to mass unless they please, and nobody shall ever
talk to them about religion; the master only requires, that you should
write him a letter, which he will read to every body, by which you
desire . . . ."[243:1]

The following short letter was addressed to Mr. Elliot on the same day
with the preceding one, for the reason which the letter itself states.
The anxious care with which Hume endeavoured not only to be punctual and
exact himself in the performance of the business he had undertaken, but
to remedy the consequences of the absence of these qualities in others,
may afford a useful reproof to those who demean themselves as above the
exercise of these homely virtues; and shows that the practice of them
has been, in one instance at least, considered not incompatible with the
design and achievement of intellectual greatness.

HUME _to_ GILBERT ELLIOT _of Minto_.

"_Hotel de Brancas, 30th September, 1764._

"I have wrote you a long letter to London, a short one to Harrowgate,
and now I write to you to Minto. Not to lose time, you must have a
little implicit faith; without making further questions, give instantly
orders that your sons be sent to me, and that they come instantly to the
Hotel de Brancas. Within less than a gunshot of this, I have found a
place which has all advantages beyond what your imagination could
suggest; it is almost directly opposite to my friend the Marechale de
Mirepoix's, by whose advice I act. I tell you this, lest your opinion of
my discretion be not the highest in the world. There are there about
thirty boys of the best families in France. The house is spacious, airy,
clean, has a garden, opens into the fields; the board costs only
thirteen hundred livres a-year for each boy, five hundred for the tutor;
the boys have almost all masters for this sum. I have concluded the
bargain for a quarter; the payment runs on from the first of October,
because the course of studies begins then; there will be no question
about religion or the mass. I have been more particular in my letter to
London. Nothing was ever so fortunate for your purpose."

"_Hotel de Brancas, 9th October, 1764._

"I go to Fontainbleau to-day; my Lady and Lord Beauchamp go also. Mr.
Trail, the chaplain, and Mr. Larpent, my lord's secretary, follow in a
few days. All these arrangements are unexpected; but the consequence is,
that there will be nobody in the Hotel de Brancas for some weeks; but
this need not retard a moment your sending the young gentlemen. I have
spoke to the master of the academy, who says that the moment they arrive
they shall be settled as well as if all their kindred were there. I have
sent the enclosed letter to him, which the gentleman who attends them
may deliver immediately on his arrival in Paris. Vive valeque."[245:1]

In 1764, the Comte de Boufflers died, and his widow expected to be made
Princess of Conti. Hume seems to have seen from the first that this
expectation was likely to lead to manifold mortifications, and that it
was the duty of a true friend to prepare her mind for disappointment.
In this spirit he wrote her the following long and carefully considered
letters, in answer to some communications from her, full of hopes and
fears, and all a Frenchwoman's nervous agitations.


     _Wednesday, 28th of November, 1764._

     You may believe that, ever since my return to Paris, I have
     kept my eyes and ears open with regard to every thing that
     concerns your affair. I find it is the general opinion of all
     those who think themselves the best informed, that a
     resolution is taken in your favour; and that the resolution
     will probably have place. But you do not expect surely, that
     so great an event will pass without censure. It would ill
     become my friendship to flatter you on this head. The envy and
     jealousy of the world would alone account for a repugnance in
     many. Nobody has been more generally known than you; both of
     late and in your early youth. Will so numerous an acquaintance
     be pleased to see you pass, from being their equal, to be so
     much their superior? Will they bear your uniting the decisive
     elevation of rank to the elevation of genius, which they feel,
     and which they would in vain contest? Be assured, that she is
     really and sincerely your friend, who can willingly yield you
     so great advantages.

     But though I hear some murmurs of this kind, I have likewise
     the consolation to meet with several who entertain opposite
     sentiments. I was told of a man of superior sense, nowise
     connected with you, who maintained in a public company, that,
     if the report was true, nothing could give him a higher idea
     of the laudable and noble principles of your friend. The
     execution of his purpose, he said, could not only be
     justified, but seemed a justice due to you. The capital point
     is to interpose as few delays as possible. Time must create
     obstacles, and can remove none. While the matter seems in
     suspense, many will declare themselves with violence against
     you, and will render themselves irreconcilable enemies by such
     declarations. They might be the first to pay court to you,
     had no leisure been allowed them to display their envy and

     On the whole, I am fully persuaded, from what I hear and see,
     that the matter will end as we wish. But in all cases, I
     foresee, that, let the event be what it will, you will reap
     from it much honour and much vexation. Alas! dear madam, the
     former is never a compensation for the latter: especially to
     you, whose delicate frame, already shaken by an incident of
     much less importance surely, is ill calculated to bear such
     violent agitations. Pardon these sentiments if you think them
     mean. They are dictated by my friendship for you. I am indeed
     so mean as to wish you alive and healthy and gay in any
     fortune. A fine consolation for us truly, to see the epithet
     of princess inscribed on your grave, while we reflect that it
     contains what was the most amiable in the world? I propose to
     pay my respects to you the beginning of next week.

     _10th December, 1764._

     It is needless to inform you, how much you employed my
     thoughts in this great crisis of your fortune, of your health,
     of your life itself. You could perceive, by undoubted signs,
     that I partook sincerely of the violent anxieties, by which I
     found you agitated; and that, after having endeavoured in vain
     to appease the tumult of your passions, I was at last
     necessitated myself to take part in your distress. My sympathy
     is not abated by absence. I find myself incapable almost of
     other occupation or amusement.

     You still recur to my memory. The chief relief I have is in
     writing to you, and throwing together some thoughts, which
     occur to me, on your subject.

     They are mostly the same which occurred in conversation, and
     which I have already suggested to you. They will acquire no
     additional authority at present in writing, except by
     convincing you that they are the result of my most mature

     Of all your friends, I, as a foreigner, am perhaps the least
     capable of giving you advice on so delicate a subject: I only
     challenge the preference, in the warmth of my affection and
     esteem towards you; and I am, as a foreigner, the farther
     removed from all suspicion of separate interests and regards.

     I cannot too often repeat, what I inculcated on you with great
     earnestness, that, even if your friend should fix his
     resolution on the side least favourable to you, you ought to
     receive his determination without the least resentment. You
     know that princes, more than other men, are born slaves to
     prejudices, and that this tax is imposed on them, as a species
     of retaliation by the public. This prince in particular is in
     every view so eminent, that he owes some account of his
     conduct to Europe in general, to France, and to his family,
     the most illustrious in the world. It is expected, that men,
     in his station, shall not be actuated by private regards. It
     is expected, that with them friendship, affection, sympathy,
     shall be absorbed in ambition, and in the desire of supporting
     their rank in the world; and, if they fail in this duty, they
     will meet with blame from a great part of the public. Can you
     be surprised, that a person covetous of honour, should be
     moved by these considerations? If he neglected them, would not
     your grateful heart suggest to you, that he had taken an
     extraordinary step in your favour? And can you, with any
     grace, complain, that an extraordinary event has not happened,
     merely because you wished for it, and found it desirable?

     I am fully sensible, madam, of the force of those arguments
     which you urged, not to justify your resentment, [from] which
     you declared you would ever be exempted, but to maintain the
     reasonableness of your expectations. I am fully sensible of
     the regard, the sacred regard, due to a long and sincere
     attachment, which, passing from love to friendship, lost
     nothing of its warmth, and acquired only the additional merit
     of reason and constancy. This regard, I own, is really
     honourable and virtuous; and may safely be opposed to the
     maxims of an imaginary honour, which, depending upon modes and
     prejudices, will always be regarded, by great minds, as a
     secondary consideration. I shall add, what your modesty would
     not allow you to surmise, or even, perhaps, to think, that an
     extraordinary step, taken in favour of extraordinary merit,
     will always justify itself; and will appear but an ordinary
     tribute. Allow me to do you this justice in your present
     melancholy situation. I know I am exempt from flattery: I
     believe I am exempt from partiality. The zeal and fervour
     which move me, are the effects, not the causes of my judgment.

     But, my dear friend, the consideration, which is the most
     interesting, the most affecting, the most alarming, is the
     immediate danger of your health and life, from the violent
     situation into which fortune has now thrown you. You continued
     long to live, with tolerable tranquillity, though exposed to
     many vexations, in a state little befitting your worth and
     merit; and you still comforted yourself by reflecting that you
     could not change it, without withdrawing from a friendship
     dearer to you than life itself. You still could flatter
     yourself, that the person, for whose sake you made this
     sacrifice, if he had it in his power, would, at any price,
     repair your honour, and fortify his connexions with you. The
     unexpected death of M. de Boufflers has put an end to these
     illusions. It has at once brought you within reach of honour
     and felicity: and has thrown a poison on your former state, by
     rendering it still less honourable than before.

     You cannot say, madam, that I do not feel, and with the most
     pungent sensation, the cruelty of your situation. I am
     sensible too, that time will scarcely bring any remedy to this

     The loss of a friend, of a dignity, of fortune, admits of
     consolation, if not from reason, at least from oblivion; and
     these sorrows are not eternal. But while you maintain your
     present connexions, your hopes, still kept alive, will still
     enliven your natural desire of that state to which you aspire,
     and your disgust towards that state in which you will find
     yourself. I foresee that your lively passions, continually
     agitated, will tear in pieces your tender frame: melancholy
     and a broken constitution may then prove your lot, and the
     remedy which could now preserve your health and peace of mind,
     may come too late to restore them.

     What advice, then, can I give you, in a situation so
     interesting? The measure which I recommend to you requires
     courage, but I dread that nothing else will be able to prevent
     the consequences, so justly apprehended. It is, in a word,
     that after employing every gentle art to prevent a rupture,
     you should gradually diminish your connexion with the Prince,
     should be less assiduous in your visits, should make fewer and
     shorter journeys to his country seats, and should betake
     yourself to a private, and sociable, and independent life at
     Paris. By this change in your plan of living, you cut off at
     once the expectations of that dignity to which you aspire; you
     are no longer agitated with hopes and fears; your temper
     insensibly recovers its former tone; your health returns; your
     relish for a simple and private life gains ground every day,
     and you become sensible, at last, that you have made a good
     exchange of tranquillity for grandeur. Even the dignity of
     your character, in the eyes of the world, recovers its lustre,
     while men see the just price you set upon your liberty; and
     that, however the passions of youth may have seduced you, you
     will not now sacrifice all your time, where you are not deemed
     worthy of every honour.

     And why should you think with reluctance on a private life at
     Paris? It is the situation for which I thought you best
     fitted, ever since I had the happiness of your acquaintance.
     The inexpressible and delicate graces of your character and
     conversation, like the soft notes of a lute, are lost amid the
     tumult of company, in which I commonly saw you engaged. A more
     select society would know to set a juster value upon your
     merit. Men of sense, and taste, and letters, would accustom
     themselves to frequent your house. Every elegant society would
     court your company. And though all great alterations in the
     habits of living may, at first, appear disagreeable, the mind
     is soon reconciled to its new situation, especially if more
     congenial and natural to it. I should not dare to mention my
     own resolutions on this occasion, if I did not flatter myself
     that your friendship gives them some small importance in your
     eyes. Being a foreigner, I dare less answer for my plans of
     life, which may lead me far from this country; but if I could
     dispose of my fate, nothing could be so much my choice as to
     live where I might cultivate your friendship. Your taste for
     travelling might also afford you a plausible pretence for
     putting this plan in execution: a journey to Italy would
     loosen your connexions here; and, if it were delayed some
     time, I could, with some probability, expect to have the
     felicity of attending you thither.[251:1]

Hume had the happiness of Madame de Boufflers sincerely at heart; and we
find him, on 24th June, 1765, thus writing to his brother:--

"I had great hopes, all the winter, of seeing the Countess in a station
suitable to her merit, and of paying my respects to her as part of the
royal family. Several accidents have disappointed us; and the various
turns of this affair have more agitated me than almost any event in
which I was ever engaged."

The following correspondence exhibits a feature in Hume's character,
which to many readers will be new, and perhaps unpleasing. It shows that
he was by no means exempt from the passion of anger, and that when under
its influence he was liable to be harsh and unreasonable. The general
notion formed of his character is, that he passed through life unmoved
and immovable, a placid mass of breathing flesh, on which the ordinary
impulses which rouse the human passions into life might expend
themselves in vain. We have seen that very early in life he had
undertaken the task of bringing his passions and propensities under the
yoke, and directing all his physical and mental energies to the
accomplishment of his early and never fading vision of literary renown.
From many indications which petty incidents in his life afford, it would
appear that the ardour of his nature, if thus regulated, was not
eradicated; and one cannot, in a general survey of his course and
character, reject the conclusion, that his early resolution not to enter
the lists as a controversial writer, mentioned in the following letter,
was suggested by a profound self-knowledge, and a consciousness of his
inability to preserve his temper as a controversialist.

The person against whom all the wrath of the following letter is
directed, is the respectable author of the "Historical and Critical
Inquiry into the Evidence produced by the Earls Murray and Morton
against Mary Queen of Scots." That, assailed as he often was by attacks
so much more vehement and unscrupulous, Hume should have taken so deep
umbrage at this piece of free historical criticism, is a problem not
easily to be explained. It is not a little remarkable that the bitterest
remark on any contemporary contained in his published works, is a note
to his History, in which he has abbreviated the purport of the

HUME _to_ LORD ELIBANK.[252:2]

"MY LORD,--As I am told that Dr. Robertson has wrote a few remarks,
which he communicated to your lordship, as our common answer about the
affair of Queen Mary, and has endeavoured to show you that it was
contempt and not inability, which kept him from making a public reply; I
thought it would not be amiss for me to imitate his example; and I did
not indeed know a properer person, nor a more equal judge than your
lordship, to whom I could submit the cause. For if, on the one hand,
your lordship's regard to the memory of that princess might give you a
bias to that side, I know, that the ancient and constant friendship,
with which your lordship has always honoured me, both in public and
private, would give you a strong bias on my side; and there was a good
chance for your remaining neutral and impartial between these motives.

"I shall confine my apology to the account which I have given of the
conference at Hampton court, as this is indeed the chief point, in which
the answerer has thought proper to find fault with me.

"There are several places, in which I mention Mary's refusal to give any
reply to Murray's charge, and have commonly said, that she annexed as a
condition, her being admitted to Queen Elizabeth's presence; as in page
496, line 20; page 501, line 12, line 21.[253:1] I have not said that
this condition was an unreasonable one, (the words which the answerer
puts in my mouth,) but only that it was such a one as she did not expect
to be granted; and that because Queen Elizabeth had formerly refused it,
before any positive proofs of Mary's guilt were produced, merely from
the general rumour and opinion, which were unfavourable to her. Having
thus clearly expressed myself on this head, when I have occasion
afterwards, in the course of the narration, to mention the matter, I say
once or twice simply, that Mary refused to give any answer, without
expressing the condition annexed by her. My reasons were, that the
position was sufficiently qualified by the preceding narration; and
because a refusal, grounded on a condition which the person does not
expect to be gratified, and which is accordingly denied, is certainly
equivalent to a simple and absolute refusal.

"That your lordship may judge of the unfairness of the answerer, he
picks out this simple and unqualified expression of mine, and omits the
others, which explain it to the readers of the meanest capacity; and he
opposes it by a passage cited with equal unfairness from Mr. Goodall's
appendix. He quotes a long passage from Goodall, p. 308, in which Queen
Mary demands copies of her letters, and offers positively to give an
answer without mentioning any conditions; and this detached passage he
opposes to the detached passage from me, in which I assert that she
absolutely refused to answer. He desires that this express contradiction
between my narration and the records may be remarked. But, in the first
place, the condition of being admitted to Queen Elizabeth, though not
mentioned in that paper, is not relinquished, and it is even clearly
implied; because Mary there refers to a former letter, which we find in
Goodall, p. 283, line 2, from the bottom, page 289, line 13, and where
it is positively insisted on. Secondly, we have in Goodall, page 184,
Queen Mary's commission to break up the conference, if that condition be
not granted. Thirdly, Queen Elizabeth understands her meaning very well,
as indeed it was very plain, and offers to her copies of the letters, if
she will promise to answer without any condition; see Goodall, page 311,
line 3, and this offer is not accepted of. Fourthly, in the very last
paper of all, which closes the whole, the Bishop of Ross still insists
on that condition; Goodall, page 390 about the middle.

"You see, therefore, my lord, the double trick practised. A mangled
passage of my History is confronted with a mangled passage of Mr.
Goodall's papers, and by this gross fraud a contradiction is pretended
to be found between them. A single forgery would not do the business.

"I believe it will divert your lordship to observe, that when the
answerer is employing these base artifices, this is the very moment he
chooses to call me liar and rascal. But that trick is so frequently
practised by thieves, pick-pockets, and controversial writers,
(gentlemen whose morality are pretty much upon a footing,) that all the
world has ceased to wonder, and wise men are tired of complaining of it.

"I do not find that even this gentleman has ventured to assert, that
Queen Mary offered to answer Murray's accusation, though she should be
refused access to Queen Elizabeth. Where then is the difference between
us? He asserts, that she offered to answer, if admitted to that queen. I
say that she refused to answer unless she was admitted, which are
positive and negative propositions of the same import.

"For a proof that Queen Mary's commission was finally revoked, I beg
your lordship to consult Goodall, p. 184, 311, 387, where it is plainly
asserted. The last quotation is from the concluding paper of the whole

"I hope your lordship, as my friend, will congratulate me on the
resolution I took in the beginning of my life, that is, of my literary
life, never to reply to any body. Otherwise this gentleman, I mean this
author, might have insulted me on my silence. I am sure your lordship
would have disowned me for ever as a friend, if I had entered the lists
with such an antagonist. Mr. Goodall is no very calm or indifferent
advocate in this cause; yet he disowns him as an associate, and
confesses to me and all the world, that I am here right in my facts, and
am only wrong in my inferences.

"There appear to me two infallible marks of our opposite parties, and as
we may say proof charges, which, if a man can stand, there is no fear
that any charge will ever burst him. A Whig who believes the popish
plot, and a Tory who asserts Queen Mary's innocence, are certainly
fitted to go all lengths with their party. I am happy to think that such
people are both equally my enemies; and still more happy, that I have no
animosity at either.

"It is an old proverb, _Love me, love my dog_; but certainly it admits
of many exceptions. I am sure, at least, that I have a great respect for
your lordship, yet have none at all for this dog of yours. On the
contrary, I declare him to be a very mangy cur; entreat your lordship to
rid your hands of him as soon as possible, and think a sound beating, or
even a rope too good for him."[256:1]

Lord Elibank's answer does not appear to have been preserved. It can
scarcely be supposed that the foregoing letter, or any one written in a
like spirit, is the communication which Hume characterizes in the
following letter as written "in a spirit of cordiality and amity," and
containing "every pathetic, every engaging sentiment and expression;"
yet we afterwards find Lord Elibank sarcastically alluding to his
having been so stupid as to mistake the spirit thus described, for one
of a totally opposite tendency.


"_Fontainbleau, 3d Nov. 1764._

"MY LORD,--In reply to the letter with which your lordship has honoured
me, I shall endeavour to be as clear and as concise as possible. Your
lordship should never have heard of the short and slight disgust between
your brother and me, had he not told Sir James Macdonald that you was in
such a passion against me, on account of my conduct towards him, that
you intended instantly to compose a pamphlet against me, on the subject
of Queen Mary, and to publish it as a full revenge upon me. You see that
he insinuates the same thing in his letter, and he says that you was
_formerly my friend_. But the whole story, I have now reason to see, was
without foundation, both from the tenor of your lordship's present
letter, and from a letter of yours delivered to me by Mons. Calvet, and
which is wrote in the usual friendly strain that had so long subsisted
between us. But not doubting at that time of Mr. Murray's story, I
dreaded the consequence of a pamphlet composed and published by one of
your lordship's temper in a fit of rage, on a subject where you are
naturally heated. I knew that it would be full of expressions of the
utmost acrimony, which you yourself could not forgive, even were I
disposed to do so; and I may now add, that this last letter proves you
to be an excellent proficient in that style. I wrote my letter in a
spirit of cordiality and amity, that I might prevent a rupture most
disagreeable to me. I have no objection to the publishing any thing in
opposition to my opinions. On the contrary, there is nothing I desire
more than these discussions. I was far from threatening your lordship
with the loss of my friendship, which I was sensible could never be of
any consequence to you: I only foretold with infinite regret, that if
you wrote against me in a heat, without allowing your temper to compose
itself, it would be impossible for us to be any longer friends. I
employed every pathetic, every engaging sentiment and expression to
induce your lordship to embrace this way of thinking. I shall venture to
say, that you have never in your life received a more friendly and more
obliging letter. I leave your lordship to judge of the return it has met

"I composed my letter with great care, because I set a value on your
lordship's friendship. I was so much satisfied with it myself, that I
read it to a friend, who told me, that it would be impossible for your
lordship to resist so many mollifying expressions, and that they would
certainly bring you back to our usual state of friendship. Under what
power of fascination have your eyes lain, when you could see every thing
in a light so directly opposite?

"I come now to the other ground of your complaint, my indifference in
the case of Mr. Murray. When I arrived in Paris, the first question he
asked me was, whether Lord Bute or Mr. Stuart Mackenzie had recommended
him to Lord Hertford, that he might be received in the ambassador's
house like other British subjects. I asked my lord, who told me that
neither of these persons had ever mentioned Mr. Murray to him; he wished
they had; he desired to show all manner of civilities to Mr. Murray. But
he was afraid, that a person against whom a public proclamation had
been issued, and who had openly lived so many years with the Pretender,
could not be received in his house, unless he had previously received
some assurances, that the matter would give no offence. I told this to
Mr Murray. He was entirely satisfied. He only said that he would write
again to Mr. Stuart Mackenzie, who never wrote to Lord Hertford. In this
affair, then, Mr. Murray received all the favour which he either desired
or expected.

"But perhaps your lordship means, that I ought to have befriended him in
his law-suit with Mrs. Blake,--I suppose, by taking his part in company.
But who told you that I did not? I have frequently desired people in
general to suspend their judgment; for as to any particular
justification of him, I was not capable of it, because I was and still
am ignorant of all particulars of his story. Whence could I learn them?
From himself, or from his antagonist, or from both? I assure your
lordship that I was otherwise employed, and more to my satisfaction,
than in unravelling an intricate story, which the Parliament of Paris
could not clear up in much less than two years, and which, it is
pretended, they have not cleared up at last.

"But I need say no more on this head, since your brother a few days
after I wrote you sent me a letter, in which he asked pardon for his
former letter, acknowledged his error, and desired a return of my
friendship. His only ground of quarrel, indeed, was a small negligence
in returning his visits: an offence which, operating on a man of his
vanity, has engaged him to do all this mischief.

"I have said that your lordship never received a letter more friendly
and obliging than my former letter: I hope you will also acknowledge
that this is wrote with sufficient temper and moderation. Adieu.

"I have the honour to be, with the greatest regard and consideration, my
lord, your lordship's most obedient, and most humble servant."[260:1]


     _Balancrief, July 9th, 1765._

     DEAR SIR,--I have the pleasure to understand, by yours of the
     ----, that I have never been altogether in disgrace with you;
     I choose rather to pass for dull as mad, and it would have
     been the highest proof of the latter, if I had taken any thing
     ill of you, that I had not thought ill meant.

     I own the compliment you say you intended me in your former
     letter, was too refined for my genius. I really mistook it for
     an intention to break with me; and as there is hardly any
     thing I set a greater value on than your friendship, and I was
     not conscious of having ever entertained a single idea
     inconsistent with it, I could not resign it without pain and
     resentment. Diffident of myself, I showed your letter to
     several of our common friends, who all understood it as I did.
     Had my affection for you been more moderate, my answer to
     yours would have been cool in proportion. I am still mortified
     to think you could suspect me of siding with my brother
     against you. I know the distinction between relationship and
     friendship. I have ever thought those connexions incompatible;
     and if I was dull enough to mistake the meaning of your
     letter, I have not more reason to blush, than you have for
     suspecting, that any thing my brother could say, was capable
     of influencing my sincere regard for a friend of thirty years'
     standing, or that my zeal for the reputation of any prince,
     dead or alive, could draw any sentiment or expression from me,
     inconsistent with that admiration of your talents, as an
     author, and merit as a man, I have constantly felt in myself,
     and endeavoured to excite in others. I am, dear sir, your
     sincerely obedient humble servant,


In fear lest the two letters to Elliot, printed above,[261:1] might not
have reached their destination, Hume wrote to him again on 17th
November, repeating the substance of his engagement with the Abbé
Choquart. The remainder of the letter follows:

HUME _to_ GILBERT ELLIOT _of Minto_.

"As soon as I came from Fontainbleau, I went to the Pension Militaire,
so it is called, where I had first a conversation with the Abbé. I found
him exceedingly pleased with your boys: he told me that whenever his two
young pupils arrived, he called together all the French gentlemen, who
are to the number of thirty or thirty-two, and he made them a harangue;
he then said to them, that they were all men of quality, to be educated
to the honourable profession of arms; that all their wars would probably
be with England; that France and that kingdom, were Rome and Carthage,
whose rivality more properly than animosity never allowed long intervals
of peace; that the chance of arms might make them prisoners of arms to
Messrs Elliot, in which case it would be a happiness to them to meet a
private friend in a public enemy; that he knew many instances of people
whose lives were saved by such fortunate events, and it therefore became
them, from views of prudence, and from the generosity for which the
French nation was so renowned, to give the best treatment to the young
strangers, whose friendship might probably endure, and be serviceable to
them through life: he added, that the effect of this harangue was such,
that, as soon as he presented your boys to their companions, they all
flew to them and embraced them, and have ever since continued to pay
them all courtship and regard, and to show them every mark of
preference. Every one is ambitious to acquire the friendship of the two
young Englishmen, who have already formed connexions more intimate than
ever I observed among his other pupils. '_Ce que j'admire_,' added he,
'_dans vos jeunes amis est qu'ils ont non seulement de l'esprit, mais de
l'âme. Ils sont véritablement attendris des témoinages d'amitié qu'on
leur rend. Ils méritent d'être aimés, parce qu'ils savent aimer._'

"When I came next to converse with your boys, I found all this
representation exactly just: I believe they never passed fourteen days
in their life so happily as they did the last. What I find strikes them
much is the high titles of their companions: there is not one, says
Hugh, that is not a marquis, or count, or chevalier at least. They are
indeed all of them of the best families in France, a nephew of M. de
Choiseul, two nephews of M. de Beninghen, &c. &c. They are frequently
drawn out, and displayed after the Prussian manner. I saw them go
through their exercises with the greatest exactness and best air. The
Abbé remarked to me, that the marching, and wheeling, and moving under
arms, is better than all the dancing schools in the world to give a
noble carriage to youth. Gilbert is such a proficient, that the master
is thinking already of advancing him to the first rank, if not of making
him a corporal: all this is excellent for Hugh, and if Gilbert's head be
a little too full with military ideas, this inconvenience will easily be
corrected, as far as it ought to be corrected.

"The Abbé tells me, that in the short time they have been with him,
their accent is sensibly corrected, and he is persuaded that, in three
months' time, it will not be possible to distinguish them from
Frenchmen. They are never to hear mass, but to attend at the
ambassador's chapel every Sunday. Such is the general account I have to
give you; their preceptor will be more particular, and I shall visit
them from time to time."[263:1]


[209:1] The confidence with which the great aristocracy of birth mingled
with whatever elements it thought fit, is perhaps the best evidence of
the security it felt in the haughty and arbitrary exercise of its
established privileges. With all this free equality of social
intercourse, however, there must have been something yet left to which
the mere guest was not admitted, and to which he never aspired. Without
this, it seems impossible that Actors,--menials by the etiquette of the
court, anathematized by the church, held incapable of giving evidence in
some courts of law as persons of infamous profession,--should have been
so much sought after and caressed. Thus the Le Kains, Fleurys, and
Prévilles, among the men; the Sophy Arnoulds, Dumesnils, Clairons, among
the women, many of them thorough profligates, are to be found haunting
places surrounded by the highest lustre of adventitious rank, busying
themselves with state secrets, mingling in family disputes, and always
with the easy assurance of their profession. This state of matters could
not have existed unless the aristocracy, notwithstanding the ease with
which they permitted themselves to be approached, were able effectually
to mark precisely the point where the advance was to stop, and could
feel themselves among persons, who, like old family servants, never
presume upon familiarity. In admitting to social intercourse, however, a
person of Hume's dignity of character and position in literature, there
could be no such reserves, and the intercourse must have been as really
on terms of familiarity as it appeared to be.

[211:1] The following is a specimen, of a letter to Hume:--


Among other like distinctions, an author had offered to dedicate to her
his Italian Grammar. She answered, "A moi, Monsieur; la dédicace d'une
grammaire! à moi qui ne sais pas seulement l'orthographe." "C'était la
pure vérité," subjoins Marmontel.

[213:1] This active lady visited Voltaire, and succeeded in getting
access to him. It is said that the patriarch laboured hard to compose a
quatrain in her praise, but that the muse would not attend for such a
purpose. He solved the difficulty very ingeniously, by twisting some
laurel twigs into a wreath, and placing it on her brow.

She writes to Hume, on 27th September, 1764, "Je vous présente monsieur
un receuil de mes ouvrages nouvellement imprimé à Lyon, pour avoir
l'honneur d'être dans la bibliothèque d'un homme qui fait l'honneur de
notre siècle. Je vous supplie d'accepter ce faible don, et de vouloir
bien faire passer le paquet que vous trouverez c'y joint au Marquis
Caraccioli Ministre de Naples à Londres."--MS. R.S.E.

[214:1] The following note shows that there was some intercourse between
them, though it was probably not very extensive.

"Madame la D. de Choiseul a très bien reçu les compliments de Mr. Hume.
Elle se reproche de ne lui avoir point écrit. Elle m'a chargée de lui
dire que s'il vouloit la venir voir aujourd'hui sur le midi et demy une
heure[214:A] qu'il lui feroit beaucoup de plaisir. Madame du Deffand
l'exhorte de ne pas manquer à y aller, et elle le prie de faire souvenir
Madame de Choiseul de la promesse qu'elle lui a faite de la venir voir
avant la visite qu'elle veut rendre à Madame L'Ambassadrice."--MS.

     [214:A] Sic in MS.

[214:2] "Vous me faites un grand plaisir de m'apprendre que David Hume
va en Ecosse; je suis bien aise que vous ne soyez plus à portée de le
voir, et moi ravie de l'assurance de ne le revoir jamais. Vous me
demanderez ce qu'il m'a fait? Il m'a déplu. Haïssant les idoles je
déteste leurs prêtres et leurs adorateurs. Pour d'idoles, vous n'en
verrez pas chez moi: vous y pourrez voir quelquefois de leurs
adorateurs, mais qui sont plus hypocrites que dévots; leur culte est
extérieur; les pratiques, les cérémonies de cette religion sont des
soupers, des musiques, des opéras, des comédies, etc." Letters of the
Marquise du Deffand, vol. i. p. 331.


     "C'est avec la plus grande joie que M. D'Angiviller a
     l'honneur d'informer Monsr. Hume que la philosophie n'a plus
     de larmes à répandre. D'Alembert est comme hors d'affaire. Il
     a été transporté chez Watelet. Il s'en trouve fort bien: il
     plaisante, il dit de bons mots et s'impatiente. Tout cela est
     de bon augure. Duclos a dit assez plaisamment le jour que l'on
     a transporté le malade chez Watelet. Voicy un jour
     remarquable, c'est aujourd'huy que l'on a sevré D'Alembert;
     nous sommes surs au moins qu'il n'y a pas de miracle à cette
     guérison; les prêtres n'ont pas prié pour lui. Mr.
     D'Angiviller a l'honneur d'assurer Monsieur Hume de
     l'attachement profond et de la vénération dont il est pénétré
     pour lui."

     "_Ce Mardi 30._"

The Earl Marischal writes thus:--

     "_Potsdam, 11th September, 1764._

     "Le plaisir de votre lettre, et l'assurance d'amitié de Madame
     Geoffrin et de Monsieur D'Alembert a été bien rabattu par ce
     que vous me dites de l'état de la santé de M. D'Alembert.
     Sobre comme il est à table--comment peut-il avoir des maux
     d'estomac? Il faut qu'il travaille trop de la tête à des
     calculs, ou qu'il allume sa chandelle par les deux bouts.
     C'est cela sans doute. Renvoyez-le ici à mon hermitage. Je le
     rendrai à sa, ou ses belles, frais, reposé, se portant à

     "Apropos de mon hermitage dont M. de Malsan vous a fait la
     description, il a voyagé avec Panurge, et a été chez _oui-dire
     tenant école de temorgnerie_. Primo, ma petite maison ne
     subsiste pas--par conséquence mon grand hôte ne pouvoit m'y
     honorer de sa présence. 2do, Elle ne sera pas si petite, ayant
     89 pieds de façade avec deux ailes de 45 pieds de long. Le
     jardin est petit, assez grand cependant pour moi, et j'ai une
     clef pour entrer aux jardins de Sans-Souci. Il y aura une
     belle salle avec un vestibule, et un cabinet assez grand pour
     y mettre un lit, tout apart des autres apartements. Si
     D'Alembert venoit, il pouroit y loger, et prendre les eaux;
     mais il est peu-que probable, que le grand hôte me
     disputeroit, et emporteroit cet avantage. En attendant son
     arrivée, j'y logerai mon ancien ami Michel de Montaigne,
     Ariosto, Voltaire, Swift, et quelques autres.

     "Dites à D'Alembert que j'ai une vache pour lui donner de bon
     lait. Cela le contentera plus que les cent mille roubles qu'on
     lui a offert. N'a pas bon lait qui veut, et vir sapiens non
     abhorrebit eam, comme disoit Maître Janotus de ses chausses."

[218:1] If we are to trust the story told by Marmontel, and repeated by
others who should be equally well informed, her conduct, put in plain
language, comes to this. That she had made up her mind to raise her
position by a distinguished marriage. That in this view, looking to one
object after another, she finally determined boldly to experiment on M.
Mora, the son of the Spanish ambassador. That as this young gentleman
had been recalled by his family to Spain, she fraudulently procured a
certificate from an eminent physician, to the effect that a return to
the climate of France was essential to his safety; and that he died on
his journey back. But not less singular than the tale itself, is the
good-humoured simplicity with which it is told, as something rather
commendable than otherwise. Marmontel tells it, not omitting to state
how he used to run to the post-office for M. Mora's letters, in the
midst of that amusing series of sketches, the leading charm of which is
their amiable author's utter unconsciousness that his narrative is ever
likely to be scrutinized by people so educated and trained, as to look
upon his pleasant frailties as detestable vices, and the whole system of
society, so loveable and interesting in his eyes, as hideous. These
things indeed are mysteries; and read and ponder as we may, we cannot
enter into their spirit, but must view them as strange, distant, and
unnatural objects.

There is reason, however, to believe, that Marmontel's account of
L'Espinasse is far from being accurate. See the article on Deffand's and
L'Espinasse's letters, in _The Edinburgh Review_, vol. xv. p. 459,
where, as also in the article, vol. xvii. p. 290, a fuller view of the
character of the French literary circles of that day will be found than
any where else in the English language. The doubts of Marmontel's
accuracy in the former of these articles, are singularly confirmed by
the Memoires of Marmontel's uncle-in-law, Morellet, published in 1832,
see vol. ii. p. 276.

[220:1] Memoirs of Romilly, i. 179. I have seen this anecdote in some
French book, but do not remember where.

[221:1] Madame de Genlis has preserved an instance of the magnificent
gallantry of the prince. Madame Blot, the same lady probably who
occupies so curious a place in the Chesterfield correspondence,
expressed a wish to have a picture of her canary-bird set in a ring. The
prince desired to have the felicity of accomplishing her wish, and she
consented, provided the ring were of plain gold without ornament. The
ring when it made its appearance was plain indeed, but the portrait was
covered by a large diamond cut flat like glass. Madame Blot preserved
the ring and the picture, but returned the diamond. The prince pounded
the diamond to powder, and wrote the lady a letter strewed with the
diamond dust as drying sand.

[221:2] The following specimen of the invitations which poured in upon
Hume during his sojourn in Paris, is a slight departure from the usual
received form of such documents, the functionary who had charge of the
despatches of the august entertainer having chosen to make it the
vehicle of his own good taste in literature, and knowledge of the
English language.

"M. Le Prince Louis de Rohan prie M. Hume de lui faire l'honneur de
venir dîner chez lui. Mardi, 17 Janvier--"

"M. L'Abbé Georgel fait un million de complimens à M. Hume. _He makes
great account of his works, admires her wit, and loves her person._"

"Samedy, 14."--MS. R.S.E.

[222:1] MS. R.S.E.

[223:1] Hardy's Memoirs of Charlemont, p. 122.

[223:2] "Ce qu'il y a encore de plaisant, c'est que toutes les jolies
femmes se le sont arraché, et que le gros philosophe Ecossais s'est plu
dans leur société. C'est un excellent homme, que David Hume; il est
naturellement serein, il entend finement, il dit quelquefois avec sel,
quoiqu'il parle peu; mais il est lourd, il n'a ni chaleur, ni grâce, ni
agrément dans l'esprit, ni rien qui soit propre à s'allier au ramage de
ces charmantes petites machines qu'on appelle jolies femmes. O que nous
sommes un drôle de peuple!"--Correspondance Littéraire, 1ière P. vol. v.
p. 125.

[224:1] "Le célèbre David Hume, grand et gros historiographe
d'Angleterre, connu et estimé par ses écrits, n'a pas autant de talens
pour ce genre d'amusemens auquel toutes nos jolies femmes l'avoient
décidé propre. Il fit son début chez Madame de T----; on lui avoit
destiné le rôle d'un Sultan assis entre deux esclaves, employant toute
son éloquence pour s'en faire aimer; les trouvant inexorables, il devoit
chercher le sujet de leurs peines, et de leur résistance: on le place
sur un sopha entre les deux plus jolies femmes de Paris, il les regarde
attentivement, il se frappe le ventre et les genoux à plusieurs
reprises, et ne trouve jamais autre chose à leur dire que: '_Eh bien!
mes demoiselles...Eh bien! vous voilà donc...Eh bien! vous voilà...vous
voilà ici?_' Cette phrase dura un quart d'heure, sans qu'il pût en
sortir. Une d'elles se leva d'impatience: Ah! dit elle, je m'en étois
bien doutée, cet homme n'est bon qu'à manger du veau! Depuis ce temps il
est relégué au rôle de spectateur, et n'en est pas moins fêté et cajolé.
C'est en vérité une chose plaisante que le rôle qu'il joue ici;
malheureusement pour lui ou plutôt pour la dignité philosophique, car,
pour lui, il paroît s'accommoder fort de ce train de vie; il n'y avoit
aucune manie dominante dans ce pays lorsqu'il y est arrivé; on l'a
regardé comme une trouvaille dans cette circonstance, et l'effervescence
de nos jeunes têtes s'est tourné de son côté. Toutes les jolies femmes
s'en sont emparées; il est de tous les soupers fins, et il n'est point
de bonne fête sans lui; en un mot, il est pour nos agréables ce que les
Génevois sont pour moi."--Mémoires et Correspondance de Madame d'Epinay,
vol. iii. p. 284.

[225:1] Letters, collected edition, v. 69.

[225:2] Ib. 73.

[225:3] Ib. 77.

[226:1] Ib. 90-91. He was not then aware that Hume's presence was
destined to afford him an opportunity of becoming "the mode" himself.
This he tells us was the effect of his jeu d'esprit on Rousseau, with
which we shall hereafter have concern; and he tells it in a manner which
shows that, however contemptible when set in the brow of David Hume, the
chaplet of fashionable renown was not felt to be unbecoming on his own.
Thus, he says to Mr. Conway, on 12th January, 1766, "I almost repent
having come hither, for I like the way of life and many of the people so
well, that I doubt I shall feel more regret at leaving Paris than I
expected. It would sound vain to tell you the honours and distinctions I
receive, and how much I am in fashion. Yet when they come from the
handsomest women in France, and the most respectable in point of
character, can one help being a little proud? If I was twenty years
younger, I should wish they were not quite so respectable. Madame de
Brionne, whom I have never seen, and who was to have met me at supper
last night, at the charming Madame D'Egmont's, sent me an invitation by
the latter for Wednesday next. I was engaged and hesitated: I was told,
'Comment! savez-vous que c'est qu'elle ne feroit pas pour toute La
France.' However, lest you should dread my returning a perfect old
swain, I study my wrinkles, compare myself and my limbs to every plate
of larks I see, and treat my understanding with at least as little
mercy. Yet, do you know, my present fame is owing to a very trifling
composition, but which has made incredible noise. I was one evening at
Madame Geoffrin's, joking on Rousseau's affectations and contradictions,
and said some things that diverted them. When I came home I put them
into a letter, and showed it next day to Helvetius, and the Duke de
Nivernois, who were so pleased with it, that, after telling me some
faults in the language, which you may be sure there were, they
encouraged me to let it be seen. As you know I willingly laugh at
mountebanks, political or literary, let their talents be ever so great,
I was not averse. The copies have spread like wildfire, _et me voici à
la mode_. I expect the end of my reign, at the end of the week, with
great composure." (Ib. 118-119.)

One is tempted to give, as part of the whole picture of the visit of the
two Englishmen, a few of Walpole's notices of his own intense modesty.
Thus: "I had had my share of distresses in the morning, by going through
the operation of being presented to the royal family, down to the little
madame's pap dinner, and had behaved as sillily as you will easily
believe, hiding myself behind every mortal. The queen called me up to
her dressing-table, and seemed mightily disposed to gossip with me; but
instead of enjoying my glory like Madame de Sévigné, I slunk back into
the crowd after a few questions. She told Monsieur de Guerchy of it
afterwards, and that I had run away from her, but said she would have
her revenge at Fontainbleau; so I must go thither, which I did not
intend." Ib. 81-82. So when writing to Gray, after giving a description
of the effect which his wicked wit had produced on Madame de Boufflers
and the Prince of Conti, how she "with a tone of sentiment, and the
accents of lamenting humanity, abused me heartily, and then complained
to myself with the utmost softness," and how he "acted contrition, but
had like to have spoiled all, by growing dreadfully tired of a second
lecture from the Prince of Conti, who had taken up the tale;" he
concludes, "but when I left a triumphant party in England, I did not
come hither to be at the head of a fashion. However, I have been sent
for about like an African prince or a learned canary bird; and was, in
particular, carried by force to the Princess of Talmond, the queen's
cousin, who lives in a charitable apartment in the Luxembourg, and was
sitting on a small bed hung with saints and Sobieskis, in a corner of
one of those vast chambers, by two blinking tapers." (Ib. 130-131.)

Hume's simple and self-satisfied account of the distinctions conferred
on him, and the gratification they afforded him, has met with
considerable ridicule. But the reader may judge for himself which is the
more honest, manly, and dignified: the plain acknowledgment of
distinctions conferred and appreciated, or this hollow profession of
contempt for unsolicited, unexpected, unenjoyed honours.

[228:1] MS. R.S.E. The Sir James alludes to Sir James Macdonald.

[229:1] MS. R.S.E.

[230:1] MS. R.S.E.

[231:1] MS. R.S.E.

[233:1] MS. R.S.E.

[233:2] The elder of the youths here mentioned, who became afterwards an
eminent statesman, was born in 1751. He was for some time attached to
the Fox party, and after the dissolution of the Fox and North coalition
ministry, he was twice unsuccessfully proposed as Speaker. In 1793, he
was selected for the delicate duty of negotiating with the French
Royalists. During the British sovereignty of Corsica, in 1794, he was
appointed viceroy or governor of the island. But the most brilliant and
the best known chapter in his political career, is his policy as
Governor-general of India, from 1807 to 1814. He was created Baron Minto
in 1797, and Earl of Minto in 1813. He died in 1814.

[234:1] Probably either the young Comte de Boufflers, the son of the
lady who was Hume's correspondent, or Sir James Macdonald.

[235:1] MS. R.S.E.

[237:1] Among Hume's papers there is a letter signed "De Bastide, auteur
d'un Maison d'Éducation," thanking him for the favourable disposition
shown towards him, and desiring an interview.

[238:1] In allusion to the interest taken by the Comtesse de Boufflers
in his being appointed secretary of legation. See _postea_.

[239:1] Minto MSS. The tone of this letter extracted the following
criticism from Elliot.

"So you did not permit your friend to write the long intended letter.
Your reason for this, I must own, is not to me a satisfactory one. If
the secretaryship were now actually vacant, it would of course devolve
upon you; nor would the interposition of your friends be necessary. It
is Mr. Bunbury's provision then, and not yours, which constitutes the
difficulty: he happens to be in possession; his alliance and his
connexions are considerable; and the difficulty of his re-election makes
it less easy than it would otherwise be to find an equivalent for him.
Yet if it could be found, it is impossible to conceive that he would not
willingly exchange a situation, the functions of which are performed by
another, and which he holds contrary to the inclination of his
principal. In such a state of things, I cannot help thinking, that a
lively representation of your case, from the warm and persuasive pen of
your friend, is the most likely circumstance to engage the active genius
of the D. of B. to rouse government from their indolence about finding
or creating some proper arrangement for Mr. Bunbury. Lord Holland will
probably join his influence, and Lord Tavistock, even on his new
friend's account, will most certainly concur. This joint operation,
supported by the justice of your claims, and the application of your
friends, seems to me the most infallible method to surmount the real
difficulty, which you have candour enough to admit stands in the way of
administration, though disposed to do you justice. If to all this you
object certain delicacies in your own mind, and a disdain to solicit
what ought to be bestowed, I can only answer, a British minister is at
all times so much the slave of those who are not his friends, that his
best friends are almost always obliged to extort justice to themselves
by methods often hostile, always indelicate. I write to you popularly,
not as a philosopher. I desire, therefore, that your objections to my
doctrine may be in the same tone; and, after all, why should you, like
the plaintive author of 'Emile,' indulge yourself in a pleasing kind of
indignation, as if your countrymen had some unaccountable satisfaction
in mortifying a man, who feels so very different treatment even from
strangers. Notwithstanding all you say, we are both Englishmen; that is,
true British subjects, entitled to every emolument and advantage that
our happy constitution can bestow. Do not you speak and write and
publish what you please? and though attacking favourite and popular
opinions, are you not in the confidential friendship of Lord Hertford,
and intrusted with the most important national concerns? Am not I, a
member of Parliament, as much at liberty to abuse ministers and
administration, as if I had been born in Wapping, or to support them if
I think proper? Had it not been for the clamour of _a Scott_, perhaps
indeed I might have been in some more active, but not more honourable or
lucrative situation. This clamour we all know is merely artificial and
occasional. It will in time give way to some other, equally absurd and
ill-founded, when you, if you will, may become a bishop, and I a
minister. In the mean time, let us make the best of our present
circumstances; I as treasurer of the chamber, you as the idol of
whatever is fair and learned at Paris. About the beginning of December I
will be at London, ready to assist your operations if you will follow my
advice. Yours," &c. MS. R.S.E.

[241:1] It will be seen that the letter had arrived safely.

[243:1] Minto MS. The remainder of the letter is wanting.

[245:1] Minto MSS. On 19th October, Mr. Elliot writes,--

     "I am too well acquainted with your friendly disposition to be
     at all surprised at the trouble you have so successfully taken
     about my boys. You will, however, allow me to admire your
     punctuality in sending me three letters all differently
     addressed. The short one for this place is the only one come
     to hand. I am impatient, on every account but what regards the
     establishment of the boys, for the long one sent to London. I
     act with implicit faith upon your short mandate; and if I
     could have entertained any doubt, the name of Madame Mirepoix,
     you very well know, was more than sufficient to remove it."

On 6th November, he is able to say,--

     "I have at length received all your letters; the one intrusted
     to Lord March, the other wrote on the supposition of its being
     lost, and a third dated October 9th. They all came on the same
     day, and so late as the 24th of October. The two boys and
     their tutor, Mr. Liston, are now, I presume, settled at Paris.
     They had a letter for you. I had luckily directed them, if
     they found nobody at the Hotel de Brancas, to inquire for a
     Pension opposite to the Maréchale de Mirepoix." (MS. R.S.E.)

[251:1] Private Correspondence, p. 112, _et seq._

[252:1] "But there is a person that has written an "Inquiry, historical
and critical, into the evidence against Mary Queen of Scots;" and has
attempted to refute the foregoing narrative. He quotes a single passage
of the narrative, in which Mary is said simply to refuse answering; and
then a single passage from Goodall, in which she boasts simply that she
will answer; and he very civilly and almost directly, calls the author a
liar, on account of this pretended contradiction. The whole inquiry,
from beginning to end, is composed of such scandalous artifices; and,
from this instance, the reader may judge of the candour, fair dealing,
veracity, and good manners of the inquirer. There are, indeed, three
events in our history which may be regarded as the touchstone of party
men. An English Whig, who asserts the reality of the Popish plot; an
Irish Catholic, who denies the massacre in 1641: and a Scotch Jacobite,
who maintains the innocence of Queen Mary, must be considered as men
beyond the reach of argument or reason, and must be left to their

[252:2] There is no address on the MS., but circumstances show the
letter to have been intended for Lord Elibank.

[253:1] These references are to the first edition of the "History of the
House of Tudor."

[256:1] Scroll MS. R.S.E. A faint line is drawn through the concluding
paragraph, and the passage may have been omitted in the letter as

[260:1] Scroll, MS. R.S.E.

[260:2] MS. R.S.E.

[261:1] See pp. 240, 244.

[263:1] Minto MSS.


1765-1766. Æt. 54-55.

     Hume's Sentiments as to the Popularity of his works--A letter
     to the Scottish Clergy--Correspondence with Elliot continued--
     Sir Robert Liston--Mallet--Hume appointed Secretary of
     Legation--Chargé d'Affaires at Paris--Proposal to appoint him
     Secretary for Ireland--Reasons of the Failure of the Project--
     Lord Hertford--Resumption of Communication with Rousseau--
     Rousseau in Paris--Notices of his History and Character--
     Hume's solicitude for his welfare--Return to Britain--Disposal
     of Rousseau--Death of Jardine.

Allusion has occasionally been made to the difficulty of satisfying Hume
with any amount of literary success. His correspondence with Millar is a
long grumble about the prejudices he has had to encounter, and their
influence on the circulation of his works; while the bookseller, by the
most glowing pictures of their popularity, is only able to elicit a
partial gleam of content. The success of the History made worthy Mr.
Millar very anxious that it should be continued, and Hume for a time
acquiesced in the proposal. There is a letter from Millar on the 26th
October, enlarging on the great and rapid sales: about 2500 complete
sets of the quarto edition, and upwards of 3000 of the "History of the
Stuarts," had been sold, along with near 2000 of the 8vo. edition. In
continuation he says:

     The Essays, 8vo, were only published in May; what has been
     sold of them, of all the different editions, I cannot
     recollect. I was asked that question at St. James's the other
     day, when I said, I considered your works as classics, that I
     never numbered the editions, as I did in books we wished to
     puff. This I said before many clergy. I am not a little
     surprised to see one of your excellent understanding and merit
     so anxious about the sale, when the booksellers entirely
     concerned never complained, but on the contrary would be ready
     to give you to your utmost wish any encouragement to proceed
     in your History; and in truth, considering the number of
     enemies, some particular Essays have risen from _interest_,
     bigotry, folly, and knavery, not less than a one hundred
     thousand, it is rather astonishing your works have sold so
     much. While _men_ are _men_ this is to be expected, and you
     are the last man I should ever thought could paid the least
     attention to such things.[264:1]

On this Hume says:


"_Paris, 14th January, 1765._

"DEAR SIR,--I am much obliged to you for your last letter, which is very
friendly, and I shall not fail to pay the proper attention to it. The
truth is, as I intend to continue my History, I could not possibly have
taken a more proper step than to pay a visit to this country, and to
make acquaintance here; for as France and England are so intermixed in
all transactions since the Revolution, the history of one country must
throw light upon the other; and I am now in a situation to have access
to all the families which have papers relative to public affairs
transacted in the end of the last and beginning of this century. The
reason why I was anxious to know the sale of my History, was, that I
might judge whether I could expect equal access and information in
England. The rage and prejudice of parties frighten me; and above all,
this rage against the Scots, which is so dishonourable, and indeed so
infamous to the English nation. We hear that it increases every day
without the least appearance of provocation on our part. It has
frequently made me resolve never in my life to set foot on English
ground. I dread, if I should undertake a more modern history, the
impertinence and ill manners to which it would expose me; and I was
willing to know from you whether former prejudices had so far subsided
as to ensure me of a good reception."[265:1]

The following very characteristic paper, which appears to have been
enclosed to Dr. Blair, needs no introduction.

"DEAR DOCTOR,--I am in debt to all my friends in letters, and shall ever
be so. But what strikes me chiefly with remorse, are my great and
enormous debts to the clergy. By this my neglect of my Protestant
pastors, you will begin to suspect that I am turning Papist. But to
acquit myself at once, allow me to write you a common letter, and to
address a few words to every one of you.


"Your History has been very very well translated here, better than mine,
as I am told. Its success has given me occasion to promise your
acquaintance to several persons of distinction; the Duc de Nivernois,
the Marquis de Puysieuls, President Hénault, Baron D'Holbach, &c. I wish
you could speak French tolerably; you would find this place agreeable.
The Marechal Broglio spoke of you to me with esteem the other day.


"I consulted with the Chevalier Macdonald, (who, by the bye, is here in
great vogue, not for his gallantries, like some others who shall be
nameless, but for his parts and knowledge;) I say I consulted with the
Chevalier about writing a common letter to Eglinton in favour of Wilson.
He told me it would be quite useless. Eglinton would give that kirk and
every thing else to the tenth cousin of the tenth cousin of a voter in
the shire of Ayr, rather than to the most intimate friend he has in the
world. Je baise les mains de Madame Carlyle avec tout l'empressement


"Who, by the bye, I believe is not a doctor, though highly worthy from
his piety and learning to be one; then Mr. Ferguson, I think I have
nothing in particular to say to you, except that I am glad of the change
of your class, because you desired it, and because it fitted Russell.
For otherwise I should have liked better the other science. The news of
your great success in teaching has reached me in Paris, and has given me
pleasure; but I fear for your health from all these sudden and violent
applications. Ah, that you could learn something, dear Ferguson, of the
courteous, and caressing, and open manners of this country. I should not
then have been to learn for the first time, (as I did lately from
General Clark,) that you have not been altogether ungrateful to me, and
that you bear me some good will, and that you sometimes regret my
absence. Why should your method of living with me have borne so little
the appearance of those sentiments?


"Many people who read English have got your dissertation on Fingal,
which they admire extremely: a very good critic told me lately that it
was incomparably the best piece of criticism in the English language; a
self-evident truth to me. I met also with many admirers of Fingal; but
many also doubt of its authenticity. The Chevalier Macdonald is of use
to me in supporting the argument, from his personal knowledge of facts.
I cannot, however, but allow that the whole is strange, passing strange.

"You seem to wish that I should give you some general accounts of this
country. Shall I begin with the points in which it most differs from
England, viz., the general regard paid to genius and learning; the
universal and professed, though decent, gallantry to the fair sex; or
the almost universal contempt of all religion among both sexes, and
among all ranks of men? Or shall I mention the points in which the
French begin to concur with the English,--their love of liberty, for
instance? Or shall I give you some remarkable anecdotes of the great men
who, at present, adorn French literature? Perhaps you would wish me to
run over all these topics successively. Alas! there is not one that
would not fill several sheets of paper with curious circumstances, and I
am the most lazy writer of letters in the world: however, I must say
something on these heads; and, first, of the first:--

"There is a very remarkable difference between London and Paris; of
which I gave warning to Helvétius, when he went over lately to England,
and of which he told me, on his return, he was fully sensible. If a man
have the misfortune, in the former place, to attach himself to letters,
even if he succeeds, I know not with whom he is to live, nor how he is
to pass his time in a suitable society. The little company there that is
worth conversing with, are cold and unsociable; or are warmed only by
faction and cabal; so that a man who plays no part in public affairs
becomes altogether insignificant; and, if he is not rich, he becomes
even contemptible. Hence that nation are relapsing fast into the deepest
stupidity and ignorance. But, in Paris, a man that distinguishes himself
in letters, meets immediately with regard and attention. I found,
immediately on my landing here, the effects of this disposition. Lord
Beauchamp told me that I must go instantly with him to the Duchess de la
Valieres.[268:1] When I excused myself, on account of dress, he told me
that he had her orders, though I were in boots. I accordingly went with
him in a travelling frock, where I saw a very fine lady reclining on a
sofa, who made me speeches and compliments without bounds. The style of
panegyric was then taken up by a fat gentleman, whom I cast my eyes
upon, and observed him to wear a star of the richest diamonds;--it was
the Duke of Orleans. The Duchess told me she was engaged to sup in
President Hénault's, but that she would not part with me;--I must go
along with her. The good president received me with open arms; and told
me, among other fine things, that, a few days before, the Dauphin said
to him, &c. &c. &c. Such instances of attention I found very frequent,
and even daily. You ask me, if they were not very agreeable? I
answer--no; neither in expectation, possession, nor recollection. I left
that fireside, where you probably sit at present, with the greatest
reluctance. After I came to London, my uneasiness, as I heard more of
the prepossessions of the French nation in my favour, increased; and
nothing would have given me greater joy than any accident that would
have broke off my engagements. When I came to Paris, I repented heartily
of having entered, at my years, on such a scene; and, as I found that
Lord Hertford had entertained a good opinion and good will for Andrew
Stuart, I spoke to Wedderburn, in order to contrive expedients for
substituting him in my place. Lord Hertford thought, for some time, that
I would lose all patience and would run away from him. But the faculty
of speaking French returned gradually to me. I formed many acquaintance
and some friendships. All the learned seemed to conspire in showing me
instances of regard. The great ladies were not wanting to a man so
highly in fashion: and, having now contracted the circle of my
acquaintance, I live tolerably at my ease. I have even thoughts of
settling at Paris for the rest of my life; but I am sometimes frightened
with the idea that it is not a scene suited to the languor of old age. I
then think of retiring to a provincial town, or returning to Edinburgh,
or ---- but it is not worth while to form projects about the matter.
D'Alembert and I talk very seriously of taking a journey to Italy
together; and, if Lord Hertford leave France soon, this journey may
probably have place.

"I began this letter about two months ago; but so monstrously indolent
am I that I have not had time to finish it. I believe I had better send
it off as it is. Tell Robertson that La Chapelle, his translator, is
very much out of humour, and with reason, for never hearing from him. I
suppose some letter has miscarried. I am, &c.[270:1]

"_Paris, 6th April, 1765._"

Mr. Elliot had expressed to Hume a fear lest the longer residence of his
sons in France might "render them too much Frenchmen," while, speaking
of their tutor, Mr. Liston,[270:2] he says, "I own I am more
apprehensive of the consequences of a Paris life upon a young man of his
age than upon the boys, who are too young to enter into the full
dissipation of a country, where, not to be dissipated, is hardly to have
any existence." On this Hume writes:

HUME _to_ GILBERT ELLIOT _of Minto_.

"_Paris, 14th April, 1765._

"MY DEAR SIR,--I have always had the pleasure of conversing, from time
to time, with your sons, with Mr. Liston, and with the Abbé Choquart,
and never found the least reason to alter the good opinion, which I had
at first conceived of that academy, and of the conduct of every one
concerned: but the tenor of your last letter made me apprehend, that you
had discovered some ground of suspicion; and the more so as Mr. Larpent
told me, that you had spoke to his father, to desire him to request of
his son, that he should keep a watchful eye over the conduct of your
sons, and of Mr. Liston, and inform him of all particulars. This it is
impossible for Larpent to do, and, indeed, impossible for me to do,
otherwise than by conversing with the Abbé Choquart and with your sons
apart. I have done this very carefully, and find Mr. Liston's conduct
not only irreproachable, but laudable. The Abbé tells me, that for the
first three or four months, he scarce ever stirred out of the house, but
conversed with him alone, and with the other masters, till he came to
such perfection in the language, as to be taken for a Languedocian, or a
Frenchman of some province. Since that time the Abbé tells me, he has
made a few acquaintances among his countrymen, and goes out sometimes;
but he uses this liberty with great moderation; and on the whole, the
Abbé praises him (and with great reason as appears to me) for his
reserve, his modesty, his good sense, his sobriety, and his virtue. As
to your sons, he assures me, that though he has been employed nineteen
years in instructing youth, he never knew any more happily formed, and
they are the favourites of the whole school. The boys themselves seem to
be extremely happy in their present situation. Gilbert speaks French
almost like a Parisian, and Hugh follows fast after him. This is an
advantage they have acquired, without interrupting the course of their
other studies. The sociableness of their disposition has been called
forth, by living among companions in a public school; and as they praise
very much the civility and good humour of their fellow students, they
may themselves be the more confirmed in their habits. But, pray, come
hither yourself and judge of the matter.

"Two or three days ago, Lord Hertford wrote a very earnest letter to Mr.
Grenville in my favour. I know well that, if you find an opportunity,
you will second his application. The Saxon minister at the court, told
my lord, that Mr. Wroughton was soon to leave Dresden. My lord has
proposed that Bunbury be sent thither: if he refuses, it will be a proof
that he is resolved to undertake no public service, but scandalously to
live at home, and enjoy a large salary, which should belong to another.
Surely if Mr. Grenville bore me never so little good-will, as a supposed
Tory, he must allow this reasoning to be unanswerable.

"You have now with you Sir James Macdonald, who is too good for you, for
I am afraid you will not know to value him. He leaves an universal
regret behind him at Paris, among all who were acquainted with him, and
in none more than myself. I am, dear sir, your faithful humble

In the following letter to Millar, we find Mallet and the Life of
Marlborough, that had been promised and paid for, again the subject of
speculation. Hume, though he had at one time been induced to believe
that part of the work was written, seems to have on the whole indulged
himself in scepticism, which, in this case at least, was well founded.
The letter is dated 4th May.

"MY DEAR SIR,--As soon as I heard of poor Mallet's death,[273:1] my
curiosity was excited to know, whether he had really proceeded any
length in his work, or whether, as many people imagine, and as is
somewhat my opinion, he had never wrote a line nor taken a note with
regard to it. I beg you would make some inquiry upon that subject. The
widow will be able to inform you. I should be glad to know whether any
lights could be got from that quarter for the continuance of my

HUME _to_ GILBERT ELLIOT _of Minto_.

"_Paris, 12th May, 1765._

"DEAR SIR,--I went, on Wednesday last, to be present at the examination
of the Abbé Choquart's school, with which I was very well satisfied;
especially for the part your young folks had in it. There were several
people present who came to hear their children and relations; and when
Gilbert was going through some demonstrations of geometry, with a very
good grace, I asked some who sat next me, whether they could perceive
him to be a foreigner? They all declared that they could not; and were
very much surprised when I told them that he had not yet been in the
country six months. Hugh retains still a little of a foreign accent, but
it is wearing out gradually. Mr. Liston speaks so well as to be able to
pass himself for a Gascon!

"There was also one circumstance of your young gentlemen's behaviour
with which I was much pleased; but whether you will take the praise of
it to yourself, or ascribe it partly to the imitation of French manners,
I cannot determine. I arrived a little before the commencement of the
examination; and, walking into the garden, I took shelter, from the
heat, under some trees. Your young gentlemen, as soon as they saw me,
ran and brought me a chair, which they placed carefully in the most
shady spot they could find. I doubt this attention would not be very
common among mere English schoolboys.

"Lord Hertford has received, from George Grenville, a final answer to a
very earnest, and very pressing letter he had wrote in my favour. Never
was any refusal so decisive, so cold, so positive, so determined; not
the least circumstance of apology, of good manners, or of regard: he
even gives it as a reason why I cannot be appointed, because Sir Charles
Bunbury has never yet desired to change his situation. In short, the
letter is so different from all letters usually wrote on such occasions,
and so different from those which Mr. Grenville was accustomed to write
to Lord Hertford, that my lord concludes there is some particular reason
of coldness, though he cannot conjecture what it is. But there are also,
in the letter, some expressions which mark extreme animosity against me.
Lord Hertford thinks, they will admit of another sense; and desires me
to write to you, in order to ask whether you have ever perceived such
sentiments in that gentleman. I know that I have affirmed, and, what is
worse, have proved, that Queen Elizabeth's maxims of government were
full as arbitrary as those of the Stuarts. I know that this proposition,
though now an undoubted and acknowledged truth, is contrary to the
principles of sound Whiggery. I know also, that Mr. Grenville, as a
sound Whig, bore me no good will on that account; but I did not really
think that his quarrel could have gone to such an extremity.[275:1] You
are sensible of the consequences which I apprehended, and which you did
not, last summer, think so dangerous as I imagined. I have now, for the
first time, explained to my lord the nature of my situation, which
somewhat surprised him, being so contrary to the assurances given him by
Mr. Grenville: but he told me that my interest was secure; for that he
thought himself obliged to make me reparation from his private fortune,
for any breach of faith which I might apprehend from the public. If this
point were fixed, it would probably stop the malignity of my enemies,
who will see that they can only do a small ill to Lord Hertford, instead
of a great one which they might intend against me. However, my lord
being desirous to know, from you, Mr. Grenville's sentiments, as far as
you can discover them, I am engaged to enter into this detail, which
otherwise I might have desired to avoid. I am, with great sincerity, my
dear sir, your most obedient servant."[275:2]


"_Paris, 2d June, 1765._

"MY DEAR SIR,--There is a gentleman here, an Abbé, and a man of
letters, who is willing to enter into a commerce, or mutual exchange
with me, on every point of political and commercial knowledge.[276:1] He
has a great deal of very exact information, with regard to every thing
that concerns these subjects; has great freedom of thought and speech,
and has no connexions with any minister. As a sample, he has sent me the
enclosed questions, which I could not exactly answer, and is willing to
answer any of a like kind, which I could propose to him. I thought I
could not do better than transmit them to you; and as I know you will
also have questions to ask, I shall also transmit them to him, and you
may depend on his answer as just and solid. I have left the margin large
enough, to save you trouble. I know you are the most industrious and the
most indolent man of my acquaintance; the former in business, the latter
in ceremony. The present task I propose to you is of the former kind.

"You will hear that Sir Charles Bunbury is appointed Secretary for
Ireland. Lord Hertford thinks it absolutely certain, that I am to
succeed him; and I, too, think it very probable. My lord throws up
immediately, if this demand is not complied with; yet, notwithstanding
these favourable circumstances, I shall not be wonderfully surprised, in
case of a disappointment. I know that I can depend on your good offices
with Lord Halifax, and with every other person on whom you have
influence. Lord Hertford writes this post to that noble lord. The
present advantages I possess are so great, that it seems almost
extravagant to doubt of success; and yet, in general, it appears to me
almost incomprehensible how it should happen, that I, a philosopher, a
man of letters, nowise a courtier, of the most independent spirit, who
has given offence to every sect and every party, that I, I say, such as
I have described myself, should obtain an employment of dignity, and a
thousand a-year. This event is in general so strange, that I fancy, in
the issue, it will not have place. I am, dear sir, yours

Hume had come to the conclusion, and certainly justly, that as he
performed the functions of secretary of the embassy in France, he ought
to possess the rank and emoluments of that office. He appears, however,
to have been reluctant to take any steps personally for the
accomplishment of this object; and his correspondence with his friends
shows that some urgency was necessary to overcome his scruples.[278:1]
Having, however, finally decided on his course, he appears to have
pursued it with great energy and perseverance, and to have moved every
influence through which he was likely to accomplish his end.

On 24th June, 1765, Hume writes to his brother that he "has now been
appointed secretary to the embassy, with the usual salary of £1200
a-year." He says, "The English ministry had intended not to appoint
another secretary of the embassy, who they knew could not be received,
but to suppress that office altogether from views of frugality." For the
continuance of the office, and its bestowal on himself, he seems to have
relied very much on the intervention of a foreign lady, his friend
Madame de Boufflers; and, strange as it may seem to find such an
influence effective in the councils of a British cabinet, he appears to
have been convinced that, had the matter not been previously settled in
his favour, her application would have brought it to a conclusion.
Continuing his letter to his brother, he says, "Nobody can do more
justice to the merit of my friend the Comtesse de Boufflers, than the
Duke and Duchess of Bedford, who have indeed been essentially obliged to
her in their family concerns. She wrote the duke about a fortnight ago,
that the time was now come, and the only time that probably would ever
come, of his showing his friendship to her, by assisting me in my
applications; and she would rest on this sole circumstance all his
professions of regard to her. He received her letter while in the
country, but he wrote her back, that he would immediately hasten to
town, and if he had any credit with the king or ministry, her
solicitations should be complied with. He is not a man that ever makes
vain professions, nor does he ever take a refusal. He would find the
matter finished when he came to London; but it is a sensible pleasure to
me, that I owe so great an obligation, to a person whom I love and
esteem so sincerely as that lady."[279:1]

In a letter to the Marquise de Barbantane, he gives the same account of
the matter.

"Have you heard of the share which Madame de Boufflers had in this
event? As soon as she heard that there was a vacancy, by means of the
promotion of Sir Charles Bunbury, my predecessor, she wrote to the Duke
of Bedford, entreating him, in the most earnest terms, to befriend me in
my pretensions, and setting all my claims in the most favourable light.
The duke answered her, that he would soon be in London; and if he had
any credit or authority with the ministry, her friend should not fail of
success. The duke is not a man that ever promises in vain, nor is he a
man that is ever to be refused; so that, from this interest alone, I was
sure to have prevailed. But happily the same post brought intelligence
to the ambassador, that the affair was already finished. But do you not
think, that I owe the same obligations to our friend? or will you tell
me, that I seek only a pretence for indulging my inclinations?"[280:1]

The statement is repeated in the following letter to Elliot.

HUME _to_ GILBERT ELLIOT _of Minto_.

"_Paris, 3d June, 1765._

"MY DEAR SIR,--Not finding your young gentlemen in church last Sunday, I
went to see them, when I found them both confined to the house with a
light fever, which has since turned out the measles in form, but with
all the most favourable symptoms. I find Mr. Liston very attentive and
very careful; the young gentlemen are attended by the physician of the
academy. I use the freedom to tell Lady Hertford the way in which they
are governed; she tells me she would not act otherwise in the case of
her own children; so that Mrs. Murray,[281:1] if you please to
communicate to her this intelligence, can have no reason for anxiety.
Gilbert has a greater quantity than Hugh, and greater strength to bear

"You know, I suppose, that I am appointed secretary to the embassy,
though I have not yet received my credential letter: the present
confusions in the court may perhaps retard them for some time; but Mr.
Grenville has informed the ambassador that the matter is concluded, and
the king has given his consent; so that in spite of Atheism and Deism,
of Whiggism and Toryism, of Scoticism and Philosophy, I am now possessed
of an office of credit, and of £1200 a-year: without dedication or
application, from the favour alone of a person, whom I can perfectly
love and respect. I find it has cost my lord a very hard pull; and when
I consider the matter alone, without viewing the steps that led to it, I
am sometimes inclined to be surprised how it has happened.

"Shall I tell you another circumstance that is not disagreeable to me; a
certain lady, who is at present in London, hearing there was some delay,
wrote in the most earnest terms to the Duke of Bedford, desiring his
interest in my favour; he answered her he would soon be in London, and
if he then possessed any credit or authority, she might depend upon the
success of her friend. You know that he is not a man that makes vain
professions, nor is he a man easy to be refused. If you guess the lady,
you will conclude that it will not cost me a great effort to be
grateful. The share you have also been pleased to take is not forgot,
and strengthens our ancient friendship. I am, my dear sir, yours

It is probable that this appointment was impeded by more difficulties
than Hume himself could see, or his friends make him aware of. His being
a Scotsman of itself made it then unpopular, and in his case there were
other reasons likely to weigh with statesmen who looked in the direction
of popularity. We are told that "the printers of the _London Evening
Post and Gazetteer_, were called before the House of Lords, on a
complaint made by the Earl of Marchmont, for printing a letter (written
by Wilkes,) reflecting on the Earl of Hertford, ambassador at Paris, for
employing David Hume the historian as his secretary, and representing
the embassy as totally of Scotch complexion."[282:2]

No sooner had this appointment been completed, than Lord Hertford was
recalled, and Hume was left for a time chargé d'affaires at Paris.

The ambassador had been appointed by Lord Bute, but had chiefly acted
during the administration of Grenville, with whom he and his connexions
were not, as Hume's correspondence has shown, on very friendly terms. In
July, 1765, the Rockingham administration was formed, in connexion with
which Lord Hertford became lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and his brother
secretary of state with the leadership of the House of Commons. Hume had
thus to perform the functions of British representative until the Duke
of Richmond arrived as ambassador in October. Of the manner in which he
performed the duties of his office, Lord Brougham says:

     By Lord Aberdeen's kindness I have been allowed to examine the
     correspondence of the embassy with Marshal Conway during these
     four months; and it is highly creditable to the philosopher's
     business-like talents, and his capacity for affairs. The
     negotiations of which he had the sole conduct related to the
     important and interesting discussions of Canada; matters
     arising out of the cession by the peace of Paris; and to the
     demolition of the works at Dunkirk, also stipulated by that
     treaty. His despatches, some of them of great length, most of
     them in his own hand, are clearly and ably written. The course
     which he describes himself as pursuing with the very slippery
     and evasive ministers against whom he had to contend,
     particularly the Duc de Praslin, appears to have been marked
     by firmness and temper, as well as by quickness and sagacity.
     His memorials, of which two or three are given, show a perfect
     familiarity with diplomatic modes and habits, and they are
     both well written and ably reasoned. His information must have
     been correct; for he obtained a knowledge of the secret
     proceedings of the assembly of clergy, which, though convoked
     for the purpose of obtaining the usual _don gratuit_, chose to
     enter upon the discussion of all the clerical grievances;
     while they kept their deliberations carefully secret, and were
     opposed by the parliament of Paris as soon as their
     proceedings became known. Mr. Hume obtained a very early,
     though somewhat exaggerated account of these things, through
     two of the foreign ambassadors; and when he communicated it to
     the Bishop of Senlis, he was treated with contempt, as if
     nothing could be so wild, and as if some enemy of the church
     had invented the fable to discredit her. Marshal Conway
     appears by his despatches (which are also excellent) to have
     rested his hopes of these differences passing off, on the
     prevailing irreligious spirit in France, where "the Dauphin
     alone," he says, "has any care for such matters; and he has of
     late taken a military turn." In a short time the whole ferment
     was allayed by the prudent and able conduct of Brienne,
     Archbishop of Toulouse; the _don gratuit_ was voted; and the
     assembly was prorogued to the following May. Mr. Hume praises
     Brienne very highly on this, as indeed he did on all

Hume's familiar letters make us fully acquainted with the feelings he
experienced at this juncture.

HUME _to his Brother_.

"_Compiègne, 14th July, 1765._

"DEAR BROTHER,--There arrived yesterday a messenger from England with my
commission under the great seal. My appointments, as I told you, are
£1200 a-year. I have also £300 for my equipage, and three hundred ounces
of plate for my table. This is the fair side of the picture. The
misfortune is, that General Conway, the ambassador's brother, is
secretary of state. The Duke of Grafton, his nephew,[284:2] is the other
secretary. You still say, better and better. Not at all. My Lord
Hertford goes for England in a few days, and leaves the burden of the
embassy upon me. Still you say, where is the harm of all this? You are
come to years of discretion, and can govern yourself. Wait a little,
dear brother. Lord Hertford goes lord-lieutenant to Ireland, and there
is an end of the ambassador, and probably of the secretary.

"It is true I can count upon Lord Hertford's friendship as much as any
man's in the world. One day last spring, he came into my room, and told
me that he heard of many people who endeavoured by their caresses to
persuade me that I ought to remain in France. But he hoped that I would
embrace no scheme of life which would ever separate him and me. He now
loved me as much as ever he esteemed me, and wished we might pass our
lives together. He had resolved several times to have opened his breast
so far to me; but being a man of few words and no professions, he had
still delayed it, and he now felt himself much relieved by this
declaration of his desires and intentions. I know that Lord Hertford
will not go to Ireland unless he be allowed to name the secretary for
that kingdom. Perhaps he may think his son, Lord Beauchamp, too young
for that office; in which case I may very probably expect it, and it is
an office of between £3000 and £4000 a-year, and stands next in dignity
to all the great offices of the state. In all cases the lord-lieutenant
for Ireland has many and great things to give, of which I should
certainly expect one.

"Still you say, this is all better and better: Not at all! You know the
fluctuation of English politics. Perhaps, before you receive this, the
whole present system is overturned. Lord Hertford, who, while he
remained here, was a man of no party, is involved with his friends. All
is turned topsy-turvy: and before next winter, perhaps, I am at your
fireside without office or employment! Here, indeed, I allow you to say,
so much the better; for I never had much ambition, I mean for power and
dignities, and I am heartily cured of the little I had. I believe a
fireside and a book the best things in the world for my age and
disposition. I write in some hurry, therefore can only add, that if the
old ministry return, I can look upon the Duke of Bedford alone as my
friend, by means of the lady I mentioned to you. If the ministry stand,
I have, by Lord Hertford's means, many and great friends; and the king,
I have been well assured, honours me particularly with his good opinion.
In all cases it is a great point for me to have obtained this commission
to a place of so much trust and credit and silences all objections
against me, whether they arose from religion or politics. Direct your
letters to me as _Secrétaire d'Ambassade d'Angleterre à Paris_. I hate
any thing that disturbs so agreeable a settlement as I had obtained
before these great events. My compliments to Mrs. Home and to Katy. Keep
this letter to yourself, but write part of it to our sister."[286:1]


"_Compiègne, 20th July, 1765._

"Tell Dr. Robertson that the Dauphin asked Mr. Hume several questions
the other day, about him and his History. That prince seems a reasonable
man, but would be the better of being _roasted_ sometimes in _The
Poker_.[286:2] If they will elect him a member, Mr. Hume will propose it
to him.[286:3] What does the doctor say at present to these great
folding doors opened to all the chimeras of ambition? Alas! they may be
thrown open much wider, if possible; none of these chimeras will enter.
Philosophy, with her severe brows, guards the passage; while Indolence,
in affright, is ready to throw herself out at the window. Mr. Hume
recommends himself to Ferguson and Jardine, and John Adams and Mrs.
Adams, and to all the Poker, and desires the prayers of the faithful
for him on this occasion."

Hume had now actually before him the prospect of filling the high office
of secretary to the lord-lieutenant of Ireland. Writing to his brother
on 4th August, 1765, he again states that Lord Hertford, before his
departure, had assured him that he would not accept of the
lord-lieutenancy, unless he were allowed the naming of the secretary;
and now adds, that the office is destined for himself, in conjunction
with Lord Hertford's son, Lord Beauchamp; and that his own salary is to
be about £2000 a-year. He continues:

"Thus you see a splendid fortune awaits me: Yet you cannot imagine with
what regret I leave this country. It is like stepping out of light into
darkness, to exchange Paris for Dublin. The most agreeable circumstance
is the friendship and confidence of the lord-lieutenant; and if the
present credit of that family continue, as it is likely to do, I shall
probably have it in my power to do service to my friends--particularly
to your young folks; for as to you and myself, it is long since we
thought our fortunes entirely made."[287:1]

He was not, however, destined to fill this office; and neither he
himself, nor his best friends, appear to have regretted the
circumstance; the fact being that he was but slenderly endowed with
either of the qualifications then indispensable to an Irish
statesman,--a capacity for hard drinking, and adroitness in bold
political intrigues. The exercise of an official function, among a
people where one sect of Christians enjoyed all offices, emoluments, and
honours, while another, following the national religion, were scarcely
allowed to live, must have shocked his sense of political justice;
while it may be questioned if he was a sufficiently bold politician to
have attempted any reform of this abuse. The project of his appointment,
however, was brought so near its consummation, as to elicit certain
applications for ecclesiastical preferment, in order that the reputation
he had achieved, in other places, for influence in this department of
patronage, might not be unacknowledged in Ireland.[288:1]

In his letters to his friends, at this time, he describes these
vicissitudes of fortune; and indulges in a feeling to which he was very
prone,--an uncertainty as to his future projects, and an indolent
disinclination to make up his mind how to act.


"_Paris, 23d August, 1765._

"All the literati of my friends, who understand English, think your
Dissertation one of the finest performances in our language. A
gentleman, of my acquaintance, has translated it for his own
satisfaction. He could not publish it without publishing "Ossian" at the
same time. My scepticism extends no farther, nor ever did, than with
regard to the extreme antiquity of those poems; and it is no more than

"You may, perhaps, have heard of the rapid whirl of my fortune
backwards and forwards of late. I had scarce received my commission, as
secretary to the embassy, when I knew that that situation, the most
agreeable in which I could have been placed, was not to last. Lord
Hertford must go to Ireland, and resolved to carry me over as secretary
to that kingdom, in conjoint commission with his son. On his arrival at
London, he found the cry so loud against the promotion of Scotsmen, that
he was obliged to give it up; which he did the more easily, as he knew
my great reluctance to that office and scene of life. He has now got a
pension of £400 a-year settled on me; and as he has prepared an
apartment for me in the castle of Dublin, I shall hurry thither as soon
as I leave France, and shall be afterwards free for the rest of my
life.[289:1] I have not determined where I shall pass my latter days.
This place should be the most agreeable to me; but a man who came late
thither, and who is not supported by family connexions, may, perhaps,
find himself misplaced, even in this centre of letters and good society.
I have a reluctance to think of living among the factious barbarians of
London; who will hate me because I am a Scotsman, and am not a Whig, and
despise me because I am a man of letters. My attachment to Edinburgh
revives as I turn my face towards it."[290:1]

HUME _to his Brother_.

"DEAR BROTHER,--I am now to inform you of another pretty rapid change in
my fortune. Lord Hertford, on his arrival in London, found great
difficulty of executing his intentions in my favour. The cry is loud
against the Scots; and the present ministry are unwilling to support any
of our countrymen, lest they bear the reproach of being connected with
Lord Bute. For this reason, Lord Hertford departed from his project;
which he did the more readily, as he knew I had a great reluctance to
the office of secretary for Ireland; which requires a talent for
speaking in public, to which I was never accustomed. I must also have
kept a kind of open house, and have drunk and caroused with the Irish, a
course of living to which I am as little accustomed. The Duke of
Bedford, to whom I mentioned these objections, thought them very solid.
I think myself, at present, much better provided for, by a pension of
£400 a-year for life, which Lord Hertford has procured me. He also
writes me, that an apartment is fitting up for me in the castle of
Dublin. I shall go thither as soon as I can leave France; which will not
be till the end of October or beginning of November, on the arrival of
the Duke of Richmond. Meanwhile, I am _Chargé des affaires d'Angleterre
à la cour de France_, which is the title under which you must write to
me, if you favour me with a letter.

"Lord Hertford had another additional project for my advantage, in
Ireland. The keeper of the black rod is a very genteel office, which
yields about £900 during the session. He proposed, as I cannot be
present on the opening of the parliament, to give that office to
another, who would officiate, and would be content with £300. But I
declined this offer; not as unjust, but as savouring of greediness and

"Please to write all these particulars to Katty, except the last, and
seal and send her the enclosed. I am charmed with the accounts I hear of
Josey, from all hands. Yours sincerely.

"There was a kind of fray in London, as I am told, upon Lord Hertford's
declaring his intentions in my favour. The Princess Amelia said, that
she thought the affair might be easily accommodated: why may not Lord
Hertford give a bishopric to Mr. Hume?"[292:1]

Writing an account of these transactions to Smith, in nearly the same
words, on 5th November, he commences his letter with the observation, "I
have been whirled about lately in a strange manner; but, besides that
none of the revolutions have ever threatened me much, or been able to
give me a moment's anxiety, all has ended very happily, and to my mind."
He concludes thus:--

"As a new vexation to temper my good fortune, I am much in perplexity
about fixing the place of my future abode for life. Paris is the most
agreeable town in Europe, and suits me best; but it is a foreign
country. London is the capital of my own country; but it never pleased
me much. Letters are there held in no honour: Scotsmen are hated:
superstition and ignorance gain ground daily. Edinburgh has many
objections, and many allurements. My present mind, this forenoon, the
5th of September, is to return to France. I am much pressed here to
accept of offers, which would contribute to my agreeable living; but
might encroach on my independence, by making me enter into engagements
with princes, and great lords, and ladies. Pray give me your judgment.

"I regret much I shall not see you. I have been looking for you every
day these three months. Your satisfaction in your pupil gives me equal

He writes to Blair, on 28th December:--

"DEAR DOCTOR,--After great wavering and uncertainty, between Paris and
Edinburgh, (for I never allowed London to enter into the question,) I
have, at last, fixed my resolution to remain some time longer in Paris.
Perhaps I may take a trip to Rome next autumn. Had I returned to
Edinburgh, I was sensible that I shut myself up, in a manner, for life;
and I imagine that I am, even yet, too young and healthy, and in too
good spirits, to come to that determination. If you please, therefore,
you may continue in my house, which I am glad pleases you. If you leave
it, as you thought you would, Nairne may have it for £35, as we

We have now to return to Jean Jacques Rousseau, whom we left, in 1762,
seeking protection from the Earl Marischal at Neufchâtel. He finally
took up his abode at Motiers Travers, a village on one of the passes of
the Jura; where, now that some offensive associations connected with his
character and writings have died away, the fame of his genius still
lives, and has been no unprofitable commodity to the inhabitants. Here
he had a wild rocky district to wander over, where he was not liable to
encounter those dangerous impediments which beset the sojourners in the
Alps. He had, at the same time, what was more to his purpose, a zealous
priesthood and an intolerant populace surrounding him. That the outward
manifestations of a morality, odious to his new neighbours, might not be
wanting, he sent for his celebrated mistress, Thérèse la Vasseur, with
whom he continued openly to live; and that the populace, thus
exasperated, might be under no mistake as to the proper person to throw
stones at, he adopted the garb of an Armenian.

It is much disputed whether he was really subjected to the attacks of
which he afterwards complained; and it is said, that whatever tangible
evidence of them was perceptible to other eyes than his own, was the
doing of Mademoiselle la Vasseur, to drive him from a neighbourhood
which she disliked. It will be found, however, that his story, as
reported by Hume in the letters which follow, substantially coincides
with the narrative in the "Confessions." This is in some measure a
testimony to the sincerity of Rousseau's own conviction, that those
hostile efforts were made against him; and indeed it would be useless to
question the sincerity of his belief in any thing indicative of the
malevolence of his fellow-beings. Having fled from Motiers, he lived for
some time on the island of St. Pierre, in the lake of Bienne; and,
driven from that asylum, he seems to have hesitated between England and
Prussia as a place of refuge. He left the State of Bienne at the date at
which his "Confessions" terminate, 29th October, 1765. He proceeded to
Strasburg, where, by wearing his Armenian dress in the country where he
had been proscribed, he certainly excited a considerable sensation. He
appears to have held a sort of levée during his residence in that city,
where his daily and hourly proceedings have been recorded with the
precision of a court journal.[295:1]

It was here that he received Hume's letter, agreeing to aid him in
finding an asylum in England. The negotiation between them had been
brought to a conclusion by Madame de Verdelin, who had spent some time
with Rousseau at Motiers, and persuaded him to take advantage of the
impression which the Earl Marischal and Madame de Boufflers had made in
his favour.[295:2]

Hume's heart was farther softened by a letter, full of miseries, which
Rousseau had written to M. Clairaut. "I must own," says Hume, "I felt on
this occasion an emotion of pity, mixed with indignation, to think a man
of letters of such eminent merit, should be reduced, in spite of the
simplicity of his manner of living, to such extreme indigence; and that
this unhappy state should be rendered more intolerable by sickness, by
the approach of old age, and the implacable rage of persecution." He was
inclined even to sympathize with Rousseau's petulant rejection of
proferred kindness; conceiving "that a noble pride, even though carried
to excess, merited some indulgence in a man of genius, who, borne up by
a sense of his own superiority, and a love of independence, should have
braved the storms of fortune and the insults of mankind."[296:1]

Leaving Strasburg, the wanderer proceeded to Paris, where he went about
in his Armenian dress; was mobbed and stared at to his heart's content,
wrote to his friends, complaining with bitter eloquence that people
would allow him neither solitude nor rest, shut himself up, and went
forth again to the world. Before he could have ventured to appear so
publicly, in the capital where a writ had been issued for the seizure of
his person, he must have received very strong assurances of protection.
The arrêt of the Parliament, however, was not recalled; and his friends
must have felt somewhat provoked by his pertinacious courtship of
popular notice, accompanied by the pretence of a desire to avoid it, by
adopting only what was simple and natural--by wearing, for instance, so
simple a dress as the fur cap, caaftan, and vest of an Armenian, in the
streets of Paris! Hume, who seems really to have had faith in his
modesty, must still have felt it awkward that the representative of
Britain should be closely allied with a person so conducting himself;
and was anxious, whenever the state of public business might permit him,
to see his charge safely across the Channel. It was thought, in the
meantime, expedient to find for Rousseau an asylum within the
privileged area of the Temple, of which his friend, the Prince of
Conti, was Grand Prior. We must now allow Hume himself to describe his
new companion, and their intercourse.

In continuation of the letter to Blair, of 20th December, above cited,
he says:


"I must, however, be in London very soon, in order to give an account of
my commission; to thank the King for his goodness to me, and to settle
the celebrated Rousseau, who has rejected invitations from half of the
kings and princes of Europe, in order to put himself under my
protection. He has been at Paris about twelve days; and lives in an
apartment prepared for him by the Prince of Conti, which, he says, gives
him uneasiness, by reason of its magnificence. As he was outlawed by the
Parliament, it behoved him to have the King's passport, which was at
first offered him under a feigned name; but his friends refused it,
because they knew that he would not submit even to that falsehood. You
have heard that he was banished from Neufchâtel by preachers, who
excited the mob to stone him.

"He told me that a trap was laid for him, with as much art as ever was
employed against a fox or a polecat. In the night-time a great enormous
stone was suspended above the door, in such a manner, that on opening it
in the morning, the stone must have fallen and have crushed him to
death.[297:1] A man passing by early, perceived it, and called in to him
at the window to be on his guard. He also told me, that last spring,
when he went about the mountains amusing himself with botany, he came to
a village at some distance from his own: a woman met him, who, surprised
at his Armenian dress--for he wears, and is resolved to wear that habit
during life--asked him what he was, and what was his name. On hearing it
she exclaimed, 'Are you that impious rascal, Rousseau? Had I known it, I
should have waited for you at the end of the wood, with a pistol, in
order to blow out your brains.' He added, that all the women in
Switzerland were in the same disposition, because the preachers had told
them that he had wrote books to prove that women had no souls. He then
turned to Madame de Boufflers, who was present, and said,--Is it not
strange that I, who have wrote so much to decry the morals and conduct
of the Parisian ladies, should yet be beloved by them; while the Swiss
women, whom I have so much extolled, would willingly cut my throat? 'We
are fond of you,' replied she, 'because we know that, however you might
rail, you are at bottom fond _of us_ to distraction. But the Swiss women
hate you, because they are conscious that they have not merit to deserve
your attention.'

"On leaving Neufchâtel, he took shelter in a little island about half a
league in circumference, in the midst of a lake near Berne. There lived
in it only one German peasant, with his wife and sister. The council of
Berne, frightened for his neighbourhood, on account of his democratic
more than his religious principles, ordered him immediately to withdraw
from their state. He wrote the letter of which I send you a copy, as it
is very curious. The council, in answer, reiterated their orders for him
to begone. He then applied to me. I have made an agreement with a
French gardener in Fulham for boarding him. We set out together in a few

"It is impossible to express or imagine the enthusiasm of this nation in
his favour. As I am supposed to have him in my custody, all the world,
especially the great ladies, tease me to be introduced to him. I have
had rouleaus thrust into my hand, with earnest applications that I would
prevail on him to accept of them. I am persuaded that, were I to open
here a subscription with his consent, I should receive £50,000 in a
fortnight. The second day after his arrival, he slipped out early in the
morning to take a walk in the Luxembourg gardens. The thing was known
soon after. I am strongly solicited to prevail on him to take another
walk, and then to give warning to my friends. Were the public to be
informed, he could not fail to have many thousand spectators. People may
talk of ancient Greece as they please; but no nation was ever so fond of
genius as this, and no person ever so much engaged their attention as
Rousseau. Voltaire and every body else are quite eclipsed by him.

"I am sensible that my connexions with him add to my importance at
present. Even his maid La Vasseur, who is very homely and very awkward,
is more talked of than the Princess of Morocco or the Countess of
Egmont, on account of her fidelity and attachment towards him. His very
dog, who is no better than a collie, has a name and reputation in the
world. As to my intercourse with him, I find him mild, and gentle, and
modest, and good humoured; and he has more the behaviour of a man of the
world, than any of the learned here, except M. de Buffon; who, in his
figure, and air, and deportment, answers your idea of a marechal of
France, rather than that of a philosopher. M. Rousseau is of a small
stature, and would rather be ugly, had he not the finest physiognomy in
the world: I mean the most expressive countenance. His modesty seems not
to be good manners, but ignorance of his own excellence. As he writes,
and speaks, and acts, from the impulse of genius, more than from the use
of his ordinary faculties, it is very likely that he forgets its force
whenever it is laid asleep. I am well assured that at times he believes
he has inspirations from an immediate communication with the Divinity.
He falls sometimes into ecstasies, which retain him in the same posture
for hours together. Does not this example solve the difficulty of
Socrates' genius, and of his ecstasies? I think Rousseau in many things
very much resembles Socrates. The philosopher of Geneva seems only to
have more genius than he of Athens, who never wrote any thing, and less
sociableness and temper. Both of them were of very amorous complexions;
but a comparison in this particular, turns out much to the advantage of
my friend. I call him such, for I hear, from all hands, that his
judgment and affections are as strongly biassed in my favour as mine are
in his. I shall much regret leaving him in England; but even if a pardon
could be procured for him here, he is resolved, as he tells me, never to
return; because he never will again be in the power of any man. I wish
he may live unmolested in England. I dread the bigotry and barbarism
which prevail there.

"When he came to Paris, he seemed resolved to stay till the 6th or 7th
of next month. But at present the concourse about him gives him so much
uneasiness that he expresses the utmost impatience to be gone. Many
people here will have it that this solitary humour is all affectation,
in order to be more sought after; but I am sure that it is natural and
unsurmountable:[301:1] I know that two very agreeable ladies breaking in
upon him, discomposed him so much that he was not able to eat his dinner
afterwards. He is short-sighted; and I have often observed, that while
he was conversing with me in the utmost good-humour, (for he is
naturally gay,) if he heard the door open, the greatest agony appeared
on his countenance, from the apprehension of a visit; and his distress
did not leave him, unless the person was a particular friend. His
Armenian dress is not affectation. He has had an infirmity from his
infancy, which makes breeches inconvenient for him; and he told me, that
when he was chased into the mountains of Switzerland, he took up this
new dress, as it seemed indifferent what habit he there wore. I could
fill a volume with curious anecdotes regarding him, as I live in the
same society which he frequented while in Paris. But I must not exhaust
your patience. My kind compliments to Ferguson, Robertson, and all the
brethren. I am," &c.

"_Paris, 28th Dec. 1765._"

"P.S.--Be not surprised that I am going to say in my postscript, the
direct contrary to what I said in my letter. There are four days of
interval between my writing the one and the other; and on this subject
of my future abode, I have not these four months risen and gone to bed
in the same mind. When I meet with proofs of regard and affection from
those I love and esteem here, I swear to myself that I shall never quit
this place. An hour after, it occurs to me that I have then for ever
renounced my native country and all my ancient friends, and I start with
affright. I never yet left any place but with regret: judge what it is
natural for me to feel on leaving Paris, and so many amiable people with
whom I am intimately connected, while it is in my power to pass my life
in the midst of them. Were I not indispensably obliged to go to London,
I know that it would be impossible for me to leave this place. But it is
very probable that being once there, and fairly escaped from the cave of
Circe, I may reconcile myself again to the abode of Ithaca. I left
Edinburgh with great reluctance. To return to it, after having tripled
my revenue in less than three years, can be no hardship. I must,
therefore, fairly warn you to remove from my house at Whitsunday. I have
taken a house at Paris; but I will have one also in Edinburgh, and shall
deliberate in London which of them I shall occupy. I shall not go to
Ireland. The arrival of the Duke of Richmond was late; and this
engagement with M. Rousseau protracts my return so long, that it will
not be worth while to go to Dublin. Lord Hertford has been so good as to
excuse me. You have heard of the great fortune of Trail, who is, I
believe, your acquaintance, and a very honest fellow. Nothing is so
agreeable to an irresolute man, says the Cardinal de Retz, as a measure
which dispenses him from taking an immediate resolution. I am exactly in
the case. I hope your resigning my house will be no hardship to

Hume, Rousseau, and M. de Luze of Geneva, a friend of the fugitive, left
France early in January 1766. We have no account of their arrival,
except Rousseau's statement in a letter to Malesherbes, that whenever he
set foot on the land of liberty, he leaped on his illustrious friend's
neck, embraced him without uttering a word, and covered his face with
kisses and tears; a ceremony with which Hume would probably have
dispensed, in the presence of "the barbarians who inhabit the banks of
the Thames." The first notice of their sojourn in Britain, is in a
bulletin by Hume to Madame de Boufflers, dated London, 19th January,
1766. He says,--

     My companion is very amiable, always polite, gay often,
     commonly sociable. He does not know himself when he thinks he
     is made for entire solitude. I exhorted him on the road to
     write his memoirs. He told me, that he had already done it
     with an intention of publishing them.

     At present, says he, it may be affirmed, that nobody knows me
     perfectly, any more than himself; but I shall describe myself
     in such plain colours, that henceforth every one may boast
     that he knows himself, and Jean Jacques Rousseau. I believe,
     that he intends seriously to draw his own picture in its true
     colours: but I believe, at the same time, that nobody knows
     himself less. For instance, even with regard to his health, a
     point in which few people can be mistaken, he is very
     fanciful. He imagines himself very infirm. He is one of the
     most robust men I have ever known. He passed ten hours in the
     night-time, above deck, during the most severe weather, when
     all the seamen were almost frozen to death, and he caught no
     harm. He says that his infirmity always increases upon a
     journey; yet was it almost imperceptible on the road from
     Paris to London.

     His wearing the Armenian dress is a pure whim; which, however,
     he is resolved never to abandon. He has an excellent warm
     heart; and, in conversation, kindles often to a degree of heat
     which looks like inspiration. I love him much, and hope that I
     have some share in his affections.

     I find that we shall have many ways of settling him to his
     satisfaction; and as he is learning the English very
     fast,[304:1] he will afterwards be able to choose for himself.
     There is a gentleman of the name of Townsend, a man of four or
     five thousand a-year, who lives very privately, within fifteen
     miles of London, and is a great admirer of our philosopher, as
     is also his wife. He has desired him to live with him, and
     offers to take any board he pleases. M. Rousseau was much
     pleased with this proposal, and is inclined to accept of it.
     The only difficulty is, that he insists positively on his
     gouvernante's sitting at table,--a proposal which is not to be
     made to Mr. and Mrs. Townsend.

     This woman forms the chief encumbrance to his settlement. M.
     de Luze, our companion, says, that she passes for wicked and
     quarrelsome, and tattling; and is thought to be the chief
     cause of his quitting Neufchâtel. He himself owns her to be so
     dull, that she never knows in what year of the Lord she is,
     nor in what month of the year, nor in what day of the month or
     week; and that she can never learn the different value of the
     pieces of money in any country. Yet she governs him as
     absolutely as a nurse does a child. In her absence his dog has
     acquired that ascendant. His affection for that creature is
     beyond all expression or conception.

     I have as yet scarce seen any body except Mr. Conway and Lady
     Aylesbury.[305:1] Both of them told me, they would visit Jean
     Jacques, if I thought their company would not be disagreeable.
     I encouraged them to show him that mark of distinction.[305:2]
     Here I must also tell you of a good action which I did; not
     but that it is better to conceal our good actions. But I
     consider not my seeking _your_ approbation as an effect of
     vanity: your suffrage is to me something like the satisfaction
     of my own conscience. While we were at Calais, I asked him
     whether, in case the King of England thought proper to gratify
     him with a pension, he would accept of it. I told him, that
     the case was widely different from that of the King of
     Prussia; and I endeavoured to point out to him the difference,
     particularly in this circumstance, that a gratuity from the
     King of England could never in the least endanger his
     independence. He replied: "But would it not be using ill the
     King of Prussia, to whom I have since been much obliged?
     However, on this head (added he,) in case the offer be made
     me, I shall consult my father;" meaning Lord Marischal.[306:1]
     I told this story to General Conway, who seemed to embrace
     with zeal the notion of giving him a pension, as honourable
     both to the king and nation. I shall suggest the same idea to
     other men in power whom I may meet with, and I do not despair
     of succeeding.

     P. S.--Since I wrote the above, I have received your obliging
     letter, directed to Calais. M. Rousseau says, the letter of
     the King of Prussia is a forgery; and he suspects it to come
     from M. de Voltaire.[306:2]

     The project of Mr. Townsend, to my great mortification, has
     totally vanished, on account of Mademoiselle Le Vasseur. Send
     all his letters under my cover.[307:1]

Hume writes again on the 12th, to state that he has succeeded in
obtaining the promise of a pension from the king: "You know," he says,
"that our sovereign is extremely prudent and decent, and careful not to
give offence. For which reason, he requires that this act of generosity
may be an entire secret." He states, that this information must be kept
to herself and the Prince of Conti: and she in her answer, admires
Hume's generous and delicate conduct, and promises to keep the secret.
In his postscript Hume announces the important fact, that Mademoiselle
le Vasseur had arrived, and had found a companion to whom such a rag of
celebrity was no small acquisition.

"P.S.--Since I wrote the above, I have seen General Conway, who tells me
that the king has spoke to him on the same subject, and that the sum
intended is a hundred pounds a-year: a mighty accession to our friend's
slender revenue.

"A letter has also come to me open from Guy the bookseller, by which I
learn that Mademoiselle sets out post, in company with a friend of mine,
a young gentleman, very good-humoured, very agreeable--and very mad! He
visited Rousseau in his mountains, who gave him a recommendation to
Paoli, the King of Corsica; where this gentleman, whose name is Boswell,
went last summer, in search of adventures. He has such a rage for
literature, that I dread some event fatal to our friend's honour. You
remember the story of Terentia, who was first married to Cicero, then to
Sallust, and at last, in her old age, married a young nobleman, who
imagined that she must possess some secret, which would convey to him
eloquence and genius."[308:1]

Soon after, we find Hume writing as follows:--

HUME _to his Brother_.

"_London, 2d February, 1766._

"As you know that I never left any place without regret, you may imagine
that I did not leave Paris altogether willingly, after having been so
long accustomed to it. I do not find this new scene near so much to my
taste; and I shall be long ere I am reconciled to it. Perhaps Edinburgh
may please me better; I promise myself at least some satisfaction in my
nephews, of whom I hear a very good account; and it is surely more
suitable to one of my years to seek a retreat in my native country, than
to pass the dregs of life among the great, and among people who, though
they seem to have a friendship for me, are still strangers. I accustom
myself, therefore, to this idea without reluctance; and since I have
crossed the seas, I find my regret for the good company I left behind
me, less pungent and uneasy. . . . .

"You will have heard by this time, that I have brought over with me the
famous Rousseau, the most singular man, surely, in the world. He applied
to me last summer to take him under my protection in England, as he
called it; but in the meanwhile, he was chased out of Switzerland, and
came to Strasburg, with an intention of going to the King of Prussia,
who pressed him earnestly to live with him. At Strasburg my letter
reached him, making him an offer of all my services; upon which he
turned short, and having obtained the King of France's passport, came
and joined me at Paris. I have lived with him ever since. He is a very
modest, mild, well-bred, gentle-spirited, and warm-hearted man, as ever
I knew in my life. He is also to appearance very sociable. I never saw a
man who seems better calculated for good company, nor who seems to take
more pleasure in it. Yet is he absolutely determined to retire and board
himself in a farmer's house among the mountains of Wales, for the sake
of solitude. He has refused a pension from the King of Prussia, and
presents from hundreds. I have been offered great sums for him, if I
could have prevailed on him to accept of them. Yet, till within these
three months, he was in absolute beggary. He has now about £70
a-year?[309:1] which he has acquired by a bargain for his works. It is
incredible the enthusiasm for him in Paris, and the curiosity in London.
I prevailed on him to go to the play-house in order to see Garrick, who
placed him in a box opposite the king and queen. I observed their
majesties to look at him more than at the players.[309:2] I should
desire no better fortune than to have the privilege of showing him to
all I please. The hereditary prince paid him a visit a few days ago; and
I imagine the Duke of York called on him one evening when he was abroad.
I love him much, and shall separate from him with much regret."[310:1]

Hume writes to Dr. Blair on 11th February:--

"You have seen in the newspapers enow of particulars concerning my
pupil, who has now left me and retired to Chiswick. He is impatient to
get into the mountains of Wales. He is a very agreeable amiable man, but
a great humorist.[310:2] The philosophers of Paris foretold to me that I
could not conduct him to Calais without a quarrel; but I think I could
live with him all my life in mutual friendship and esteem. I am very
sorry that the matter is not likely to be put to a trial! I believe one
great source of our concord is, that neither he nor I are disputatious,
which is not the case with any of them. They are also displeased with
him because they think he overabounds in religion; and it is indeed
remarkable, that the philosopher of this age who has been most
persecuted, is by far the most devout. I do not comprehend such
philosophers as are invested with the sacerdotal character. I am, dear
doctor, yours _usque ad aras_."[310:3]

The first attempt to find a settlement for Rousseau, was with the
French gardener at Fulham, already alluded to. The arrangement proposed
by Hume was, that the gardener was to receive from fifty to sixty pounds
a-year, as the consideration for boarding Rousseau and Mademoiselle, but
that he was only to draw twenty-five pounds from Rousseau, from whom he
was to keep the arrangement secret.[311:1] Rousseau rejected this
arrangement with disgust; and various other efforts to find him a
suitable home were equally unsuccessful. Hume, who, as Rousseau himself
tells Madame de Boufflers, was more anxious about his welfare than he
was himself, appears to have spent week after week, in the vain pursuit
of a resting place for the wanderer--no sooner framing a hopeful scheme
than it was contemptuously rejected. It does not appear, however, that
the inquiries were conducted precisely in the sphere in which Rousseau
liked to act. It is clear that he had not come to Britain to negotiate
with farmers at Chiswick, or French gardeners at Fulham. He undoubtedly
expected much more distinguished titles to be mixed up with his
arrangements; and we find that it was not till a rich man's well kept
country mansion was put at his disposal, that he deigned to be for a
moment satisfied. A letter to Blair, contains a very full narrative of
the subsequent proceedings.

HUME _to_ DR. BLAIR.[312:1]

     _Lisle Street, Leicester Fields,
     25th March, 1766._

     DEAR DOCTOR,--I had asked M. Rousseau the question you propose
     to me: He answered, that the story of his "Héloise" had some
     general and distant resemblance to reality; such as was
     sufficient to warm his imagination and assist his invention:
     but that all the chief circumstances were fictitious. I have
     heard in France, that he had been employed to teach music to a
     young lady, a boarder in a convent at Lyons; and that the
     master and scholar fell mutually in love with each other; but
     the affair was not attended with any consequences. I think
     this work his masterpiece; though he himself told me, that he
     valued most his _Contrat Social_; which is as preposterous a
     judgment as that of Milton, who preferred the Paradise
     Regained to all his other performances.

     This man, the most singular of all human beings, has at last
     left me; and I have very little hopes of ever being able, for
     the future, to enjoy much of his company, though he says, that
     if I settle either in London or Edinburgh, he will take a
     journey on foot every year to visit me. Mr. Davenport, a
     gentleman of £5000 or £6000 a-year, in the north of England,
     and a man of great humanity and of a good understanding, has
     taken the charge of him. He has a house called Wooton, in the
     Peake of Derby, situated amidst mountains and rocks and
     streams and forests, which pleases the wild imagination and
     solitary humour of Rousseau; and as the master seldom
     inhabited it, and only kept there a plain table for some
     servants, he offered me to give it up to my friend. I
     accepted, on condition that he would take from him £30 a-year
     of board for himself and his gouvernante, which he was so
     good-natured as to agree to. Rousseau has about £80 a-year,
     which he has acquired by contracts with his booksellers, and
     by a liferent annuity of £25 a-year, which he accepted from
     Lord Marischal. This is the only man who has yet been able to
     make him accept of money.

     He was desperately resolved to rush into this solitude,
     notwithstanding all my remonstrances; and I foresee, that he
     will be unhappy in that situation, as he has indeed been
     always in all situations. He will be entirely without
     occupation, without company, and almost without amusement of
     any kind. He has read very little during the course of his
     life, and has now totally renounced all reading: He has seen
     very little; and has no manner of curiosity to see or remark:
     He has reflected, properly speaking, and studied very little;
     and has not indeed much knowledge: He has only _felt_, during
     the whole course of his life; and in this respect, his
     sensibility rises to a pitch beyond what I have seen any
     example of: but it still gives him a more acute feeling of
     pain than of pleasure. He is like a man who were stript not
     only of his clothes, but of his skin, and turned out in that
     situation to combat with the rude and boisterous elements,
     such as perpetually disturb this lower world. I shall give you
     a remarkable instance of his turn of character in this
     respect: It passed in my room, the evening before his

     He had resolved to set out with his gouvernante in a
     post-chaise; but Davenport, willing to cheat him and save him
     some money, told him that he had found a retour chaise for the
     place, which he might have for a trifle, and that luckily it
     set out the very day in which Rousseau intended to depart. His
     purpose was to hire a chaise, and make him believe this story.
     He succeeded at first, but Rousseau afterwards ruminating on
     the circumstances, began to entertain a suspicion of the
     trick. He communicated his doubts to me, complaining that he
     was treated like a child; that though he was poor, he chose
     rather to conform himself to his circumstances, than live like
     a beggar on alms; and that he was very unhappy in not speaking
     the language familiarly, so as to guard himself against these
     impositions. I told him that I was ignorant of the matter, and
     knew nothing more of it, than I was told by Mr. Davenport, but
     if he pleased I should make inquiry about it. "Never tell me
     that," replied he, "if this be really a contrivance of
     Davenport's, you are acquainted with it, and consenting to it;
     and you could not possibly have done me a greater
     displeasure." Upon which he sat down very sullen and silent;
     and all my attempts were in vain to revive the conversation,
     and to turn it on other subjects; he still answered me very
     drily and coldly. At last, after passing near an hour in this
     ill-humour, he rose up and took a turn about the room. But
     judge of my surprise, when he sat down suddenly on my knee,
     threw his hands about my neck, kissed me with the greatest
     warmth, and bedewing all my face with tears, exclaimed, "Is it
     possible you can ever forgive me, my dear friend? After all
     the testimonies of affection I have received from you, I
     reward you at last with this folly and ill behaviour: but I
     have notwithstanding a heart worthy of your friendship; I love
     you, I esteem you, and not an instance of your kindness is
     thrown away upon me." I hope you have not so bad an opinion of
     me as to think I was not melted on this occasion; I assure you
     I kissed him and embraced him twenty times, with a plentiful
     effusion of tears. I think no scene of my life was ever more

     I now understand perfectly his aversion to company; which
     appears so surprising in a man well qualified for the
     entertainment of company, and which the greater part of the
     world takes for affectation. He has frequent and long fits of
     the spleen, from the state of his mind or body, call it which
     you please; and from his extreme sensibility of temper, during
     that disposition, company is a torment to him. When his
     spirits and health and good humour return, his fancy affords
     him so much and such agreeable occupation, that to call him
     off from it gives him uneasiness; and even the writing of
     books, he tells me, as it limits and restrains his fancy to
     one subject, is not an agreeable entertainment. He never will
     write any more; and never should have wrote at all, could he
     have slept a-nights. But he lies awake commonly; and to keep
     himself from tiring, he usually composed something, which he
     wrote down when he arose. He assures me, that he composes very
     slowly, and with great labour and difficulty.

     He is naturally very modest, and even ignorant of his own
     superiority. His fire, which frequently rises in conversation,
     is gentle and temperate; he is never in the least arrogant and
     domineering, and is, indeed, one of the best bred men I ever
     knew. I shall give you such an instance of his modesty as must
     necessarily be sincere. When we were on the road, I
     recommended to him the learning of English, without which, I
     told him, he would never enjoy entire liberty, nor be fully
     independent, and at his own disposal. He was sensible I was in
     the right, and said, that he heard there were two English
     translations of his "Emile, or Treatise on Education;" he
     would get them as soon as he arrived in London; and as he knew
     the subject, he would have no other trouble, than to learn or
     guess the words: this would save him some pains in consulting
     the dictionary; and as he improved, it would amuse him to
     compare the translations and judge which was the best.
     Accordingly, soon after our arrival, I procured him the books,
     but he returned them in a few days, saying that they could be
     of no use to him. "What is the matter?" replied I. "I cannot
     endure them," said he, "they are my own work; and ever since I
     delivered my books to the press, I never could open them, or
     read a page of them without disgust." "That is strange," said
     I, "I wonder the good reception they have met with from the
     world has not put you more in conceit with them." "Why," said
     he, "if I were to count suffrages, there are perhaps more
     against them than for them." "But," rejoined I, "it is
     impossible but the style, and eloquence, and ornaments must
     please you." "To tell the truth," said he, "I am not
     displeased with myself in that particular: but I still dread,
     that my writings are good for nothing at the bottom, and that
     all my theories are full of extravagance. Je crains toujours
     que je pèche par le fond, et que tous mes systèmes ne sont que
     des extravagances." You see that this is judging of himself
     with the utmost severity, and censuring his writings on the
     side where they are most exposed to criticism. No feigned
     modesty is ever capable of this courage. I never heard ----
     reproach himself with the ----: nobody ever heard you express
     any remorse, for having put Ossian on the same footing with

     Have I tired you, or will you have any more anecdotes of this
     singular personage? I think I hear you desire me to go on. He
     attempted once to justify to me the moral of his New Heloisa,
     which, he knew, was blamed, as instructing young people in the
     art of gratifying their passions, under the cover of virtue,
     and noble refined sentiments. "You may observe," said he
     "that my Julia is faithful to her husband's bed, though she is
     seduced from her duty during her single state; but this last
     circumstance can be of no consequence in France, where all the
     young ladies are shut up in convents, and have it not in their
     power to transgress: it might, indeed, have a bad effect in a
     Protestant country." But notwithstanding this reflection, he
     told me, that he has wrote a continuation of his "Emilius,"
     which may soon be published. He there attempts to show the
     effect of his plan of education, by representing Emilius in
     all the most trying situations, and still extricating himself
     with courage and virtue. Among the rest, he discovers that
     Sophia, the amiable, the virtuous, the estimable Sophia, is
     unfaithful to his bed, which fatal accident he bears with a
     manly superior spirit. "In this work," added he, "I have
     endeavoured to represent Sophia in such a light that she will
     appear equally amiable, equally virtuous, and equally
     estimable, as if she had no such frailty." "You take a
     pleasure, I see," said I, "to combat with difficulties in all
     your works." "Yes," said he, "I hate marvellous and
     supernatural _events_ in novels. The only thing that can give
     pleasure in such performances is to place the personages in
     situations difficult and singular." Thus, you see, nothing
     remains for him but to write a book for the instruction of
     widows! unless perhaps he imagines that they can learn their
     lesson without instruction. Adieu, dear doctor; you say that
     you sometimes read my letters to our common friends; but you
     must read this only to the initiated.[317:1]

Almost the only other matter which appears conspicuously in Hume's
correspondence during his intercourse with Rousseau, is the death of a
dear friend, often mentioned in his previous letters--Dr. Jardine. He
was a man of strong judgment, and much sarcastic wit; but his articles
in _The Edinburgh Review_ of 1755, are almost the only specimens of his
ability which he has left to posterity. He was born in Dumfries-shire
on 3d January, 1716, and he was minister of the Tron Church parish when
he died. The death was sudden; and Hume, overlooking the calamitous
consequences of such events to surviving relatives, and in harmony with
the opinions he had expressed on death in a still more appalling form,
seems to have considered its suddenness as fortunate. He thus writes to
Blair, on 5th June.

"I cannot begin my letter without lamenting most sincerely the death of
our friend Dr. Jardine. I do not aggravate it by the circumstance of its
being sudden, for that is very desirable. But surely we shall ever
regret the loss of a very pleasant companion, and of a very friendly
honest man. It makes a blank which you must all feel, and which I in
particular will sensibly feel, when I come amongst you. I need not ask
you whether the miscreants of the opposite party do not rejoice, for I
take it for granted they do."[318:1]


[264:1] MS. R.S.E.

[265:1] MS. R.S.E. In answer, Millar tells him that the prejudice is not
against the Scots, but against Lord Bute; that matters have now,
however, been all put right, for "it is generally believed that Mr.
_Greenville_ is a good manager of the finances, and in general means
well: as a proof of it, our stocks have been creeping up daily, and it
is now generally believed that 3 per cent will soon come to par if
affairs continue peaceable!" One possessed of better opportunities of
judging, and more capable of using them, joins in these anticipations of
success with which Grenville's disastrous career as a financier opened.
Elliot says, on 25th March, 1765: "To-morrow Mr. Grenville opens the
budget, as it is usually called, and I believe our revenue will appear
to be on a better footing than is usually believed. I hope we shall have
discharged as much debt without breach of faith as you have done in a
politer way. Not that I pretend to censure your method. You borrow at a
high interest during time of war, and it is understood you are to take
your own method in peace. Our mode of proceeding is the very reverse of
this. . . . Your negotiation with regard to the French prisoners you
must have heard, met with all the approbation it so well deserved." (MS.

[268:1] Probably Vallière. The Duc de Vallière was supposed to be the
author of some anonymous theatrical pieces.

[270:1] MS. R.S.E.

[270:2] This gentleman is the same who afterwards distinguished himself
as a diplomatist, and who was so well known by the title of Sir Robert

[272:1] Minto MSS.

[273:1] Mallet died on 21st April, 1765.

[273:2] MS. R.S.E.

[275:1] On account of his taxation system having caused the American
Revolution, Grenville is now generally ranked with statesmen of despotic
principles. He was, however, an avowed admirer of the democratic
portions of the constitution; and it was in truth his ill-directed
advocacy of popular rights, not an intentional departure from his avowed
principles, that made his administration so disastrous. His zeal for the
independent authority of Parliament, and for the curtailment of the
prerogatives of the Crown, induced him to struggle for the exercise by
parliament, in the colonies, of a power with which the crown could not
compete,--that of taxation.

[275:2] Minto MSS.

[276:1] Evidently the Abbé Morellet, who afterwards corresponded with
Hume on these subjects. He was born in 1727, and died in 1819. From his
great age and the cheerful social habits of his latter years, he was one
of the few members of the school of the Encyclopædiasts, whom men of the
present generation have been accustomed to meet in general society.
Morellet possessed two distinct titles to fame. He had written some
grave and valuable books on political economy and statistics; while in
lighter literature, and in Madame Geoffrin's circle, he enjoyed a high
reputation for playful and pungent wit. His friends likened him to
Swift; but as he sought to avoid malice in his sarcasms, and to make
them subservient to good principles in morals and religion, he might, in
this part of his character, be more aptly compared with Sydney Smith. He
had a great partiality for Scottish music; but it may be doubted if this
taste was either created or fostered by his intercourse with Hume. In
his very amusing Memoires, he describes a dinner with a musical party
near Plymouth, in the open air. Some young ladies, with their father and
mother, approached near enough to hear the music. The Abbé gallantly
carried them a basket of cherries. "Je les prie en même temps de vouloir
bien chanter _some Scotish song_, dont, moi Français, j'étais _very
fond_. Elles se regardent un moment: et dès que nous fûmes retournés à
nos places, comme si notre plus grand éloignement les eût rassurées,
elles se mettent à chanter toutes les trois à l'unisson, avec des voix
d'une extrême douceur, _The lass of Peatie's Mill_. Le temps, le lieu,
la singularité de la rencontre ajoutèrent quelques charmes à ce petit
concert." Vol. i. p. 209.

[277:1] Memorials of Oswald, p. 81.

[278:1] Mr. Elliot, in answer to the letter printed above, (p. 189,)
says, "So, my dear sir, you have at last, with no small reluctance, and
after many struggles, prevailed with yourself to acquaint some of your
friends that Lord Hertford means to desire that government would be
graciously pleased to bestow the character and emoluments of the
secretaryship upon the person who actually performs the functions of it.
At your time of life, with so much independency about you, and so unlike
all your former conduct, indeed I am not at all surprised that it cost
you near two pages of apology and explanation before you would even
intrust me with the secret. Were you less deep in the study of human
nature, and somewhat more an adept in the ways of men, I am apt to think
you would rather have filled your letter with excuses for not having
sooner made this application."

He goes on to state, that he has been exerting himself in the matter,
but that on all occasions he had found himself anticipated by Lord
Hertford. He continues:

"As to _ingrata patria ne ossa quidem habebis_, don't be at all uneasy.
Here I can speak more peremptorily; and notwithstanding all your errors,
mistakes, and heresies in religion, morals, and government, I undertake
you shall have at least Christian burial, and perhaps we may find for
you a niche in Westminster Abbey besides. Your Lockes, Newtons, and
Bacons had no great matter to boast of during their lives; and yet they
were the most orthodox of men; they required no godfather to answer for
them; while, on the other hand, did not Lord Hertford spread his
sevenfold shield over all your transgressions? Pray, what pretensions
have you, either in church or state; for you well know you have offended
both?"--MS. R.S.E.

[279:1] MS. R.S.E.

[280:1] Private Correspondence, p. 121.

[281:1] Mrs. Elliot, who as an heiress preserved the name of Murray

[282:1] Minto MSS.

[282:2] Walpole, Memoirs of George III. i. 391. Walpole pretends that
Conway's dismissal was partly caused by revenge against Lord Hertford
for his conduct on this occasion, (ib. 402.) But from his own account of
it, the resolution to dismiss Conway had been taken before Hume's

[284:1] Lives of Men of Letters, &c. p. 225.

[284:2] He was Lady Hertford's nephew.

[286:1] MS. R.S.E.

[286:2] See above, p. 172.

[286:3] The Dauphin was then far advanced in the disease of which he
died. According to the ordinary French historians, he was at the same
time so completely subjected to the priestly influence of the Molinists,
as to justify the supposition, that the decay of his mind kept pace with
that of his body. Others give a totally different account of him, and
Walpole says, "To please his family, the prince went through all the
ceremonies of the church, but showed to his attendants after they were
over, how vain and ridiculous he thought them. Many expressions he
dropped in his last hours that spoke the freedom of his opinions; and to
the Duc de Nivernois he said, he was glad to leave behind him such a
book as 'Hume's Essays.'" Memoirs of George III. vol. ii. p. 242. The
Dauphin died on 20th December, 1765.

[287:1] MS. R.S.E.

[288:1] A general officer of reputation, making such an application, on
behalf of a friend, says:--

"The divine in question has a very good living, but in a quarter of the
world where he has not a creature to converse with. If his excellency
would enrol him among that million of the tribe of Levi, that attend at
the Castle of Dublin, who are called his chaplains, it would excuse his
attendance at quarters: And his general,--I mean, his bishop, would be
under the necessity of permitting him to be absent whilst he had the
honour to be about the commander-in-chief at headquarters."--MS. R.S.E.

[289:1] Lord Hertford, writing to Hume, on 5th August, says:--

"DEAR SIR,--You will see, in the papers, that Barré is to be my
secretary; but it has no other foundation. If I had been at liberty, I
should have desired to continue with him whose abilities and ease in
business I have so long experienced; but the world will have it
otherwise, and it must be my son. He is popular in Ireland; and I am
invited, on all hands, to name him; at the same time that I am told the
great danger of indulging my own inclinations, that if I named you, with
the particular additional prejudice that prevails, at present, against
the Scotch, that I should condemn my own administration. I have,
therefore, made it the condition of my acceptance of the lieutenancy,
that you are immediately provided for in a manner less likely to subject
you to the inconvenience of party changes. I have explained, both to the
King and the ministers, how essential I thought it to my honour and ease
of mind; and it is resolved. I flatter myself I shall soon be able to
acquaint you, that I have been a good solicitor; and, as my private
friend, I beg leave to assure you that I shall always be most happy in
receiving you in Dublin, and every other part of the world, let the
prejudices and follies of mankind be what they will. I hope you will
consider me as your friend; and I will desire no other return for all
the services I may be able to do you, than such a portion of your time
as you can bestow upon me, consistently with your inclination. The Duke
of Richmond goes to France: I do not yet know upon what plan, having not
seen him. He is a pretty figure; is easy in his behaviour; and does not
want parts. I wish he may have temper, experience, and knowledge of men
for that place. I have talked to my brother, as it became a wellwisher
to peace, upon this occasion. You will receive, by the messenger which
carries this letter to France, an official one from my brother, drawn by
himself, by which you will be able to judge of his style. I need not add
any thing to it. Every thing which passed, in a very long conference we
had together with Guerchy, is fully stated in it; but, when you talk to
the Duke of Praslin upon it, you will, if you please, take an
opportunity of recommending from me, in a particular manner, the
indulgence required for the holders of the Canada bills. This point may
be essential to the good understanding between the two courts."--MS.

[290:1] MS. R.S.E.

[291:1] Lord Hertford writes Hume, on 16th August;--

"The usher of the black rod, in Ireland, is in my disposal. It produces,
in the course of a session, from £800 to £900, as I am informed. If you
approve it, my intention is to give it to a gentleman who will be
extremely satisfied to accept of £300 a-year for his trouble, at most,
and the rest will be placed to your account, without interrupting the
benefit of the pension."

And again, on September 5, after Hume's refusal:--

"The black rod you will give me leave to dispose of as I intended. You
shall, at the end of the session, refuse the emoluments I propose to
reserve out of it, if you see sufficient reason. £300 for doing the duty
of it should satisfy the person to whom I will give it."--MS. R.S.E.

[292:1] _Lit. Gazette_, 1822, p. 711. Corrected from original in MSS.

[293:1] _Lit. Gazette_, 1822, p. 722. Corrected from original in MSS.

[293:2] MS. R.S.E.

[295:1] We are told (vie de Rousseau par Musset Pathay, i. 102,) that a
certain M. Augar, having been here presented to the apostle of
education, said he was bringing up his son after the model of "Emile."
"So much the worse both for you and your son;" _tant pis pour vous et
pour votre fils_, said Rousseau. This must have been highly
satisfactory. Of all the theories to reconcile Rousseau's
contradictions,--to discover on what principle he preached up parental
care, and sent his own children to the foundling hospital, the best is
supplied by himself in a single sentence in the Heloise: "L'on sait bien
que tout homme qui pose des maximes générales, entend qu'elles obligent
tout le monde, excepté lui." This is certainly more intelligible than
the mystical theory of his eulogist, D'Escherny: "Il n'y a que les sots
qui ne se contredisent point, parce que leur esprit borné ne voit jamais
qu'un côté de l'objet."

[295:2] He states, in the "Confessions," that when Wallace's work on the
Number of Mankind was passing through the press, Hume undertook the
revision of the proof sheets, though the work was written against
himself. I am not aware of any other authority for this anecdote.
Rousseau said he was charmed with it, because the conduct was so much
like his own!

[296:1] Account of the Controversy between Hume and Rousseau.

[297:1] "Un banc très-massif, qui étoit dans la rue à côté de ma porte
et fortement attaché, fut détaché, enlevé, et posé debout contre la
porte; de sorte que, si l'on ne s'en fût aperçu, le premier qui pour
sortir auroit ouvert la porte d'entrée, devoit naturellement être
assommé."--_Confessions_, Liv. 12.

[301:1] Hume, though habitually sceptical, was far from being
suspicious; and in his kindness to his new companion, he took every
thing in sincerity. "C'est un des malheurs de ma vie," says Rousseau,
"qu'avec un si grand désir d'être oublié, je sois contraint de parler de
moi sans cesse;" but those who knew him better than Hume did at so early
a period of their intercourse, do not give him credit for desiring to be
either neglected or forgotten. Madame de Genlis professes to have been
much vexed and perplexed by having acted on a reliance similar to
Hume's. Rousseau had promised to accompany her to the Comédie Françoise,
on the condition that they were to occupy a _loge grillée_. When they
entered, madame flew to shut the grating; Rousseau opposed her; he was
sure _she_ would not like it to be closed, and he would be sufficiently
hidden, by sitting behind her. In the scuffle he was recognised; madame,
vexed and terrified, insisted that the grating should be closed; but he
was inexorable. The commencement of a popular piece soon relieved them
from notice, and when the eyes of the audience were averted from him,
Rousseau grew gloomy and rude. He afterwards professed himself deeply
offended at having been exhibited as a wild beast! _Mémoires_, ii. 12.

The same lady gives a more pleasing instance of his characteristics at
that time, in describing her first introduction to him. A friend told
her, that her husband intended to play a trick on her: to employ the
celebrated mimic Preville, the Foote of the French stage, to personate
Rousseau at his table. The expected guest appeared. His dress and
appearance were so unlike other people's, yet so like what would have
been expected in Rousseau--his conversation was so brilliant--that it
certainly must be a piece of wonderful acting. Thoroughly at her ease,
she laughed, and talked, and sang the airs of the Devin du village. It
was Rousseau himself! and not accustomed, in this the full blaze of his
reputation, to be received with so much freedom, by a young and
accomplished woman, he pronounced her to be the most lively and
unaffected of her sex.

[303:1] MS. R.S.E.

[304:1] It does not appear that Rousseau made any progress in English.
In a letter to Hume, from Wooton, he says, "J'ai eu hier la visite de M.
le Ministre, qui, voyant que je ne lui parlois que François, n'a pas
voulu me parler Anglois, de sorte que l'entrevue s'est passée à peu près
sans mot dire. J'ai pris goût à l'expédient; je m'en servirai avec tous
mes voisins, si j'en ai; et dussé-je apprendre l'Anglois, je ne leur
parlerai que François, sur-tout si j'ai le bonheur qu'ils n'en sachent
pas un mot."

[305:1] General Conway's wife.

[305:2] Rousseau writes to Hume:--

     _Le Lundi Soir._

     Je vous supplie, mon très cher patron, de vouloir bien
     m'excuser auprès de Myladi Ailesbury et de Mr. Le Général
     Conway. Je suis malade, et hors d'état de me présenter, et
     Mademoiselle Le Vasseur, très bonne, et très estimable
     personne, n'est point faite pour paroître dans les grandes
     compagnies. Trouvez bon, mon très cher patron, que nous nous
     en tenions au premier arrangement et que j'attende dans
     l'après midi le carrosse que M. Davenport veut bien envoyer.
     J'arrive suant et fatigué d'une longue promenade: c'est
     pourquoi je ne prolonge pas ma lettre: vous m'avez si bien
     acquis et je suis à vous de tant de manières que cela même ne
     doit plus être dit. Je vous embrasse de toute la tendresse de
     mon cœur.

                                             J. J. ROUSSEAU.

Had Lady Aylesbury requested the honour of Mademoiselle le Vasseur's
company along with that of her keeper? Rousseau tells us what pleasure
it gave him to see Madame la Marechale de Luxembourg embrace her in
public. But if any English lady of rank and character offered to extend
her hospitality to such a person, there could be no stronger evidence of
the general consent to suspend all social laws in favour of Rousseau.

[306:1] Of Lord Marischal he always spoke with respect. In the
Confessions, he says, "O bon Milord! ô mon digne père! que mon cœur
s'émeut encore en pensant à vous! Ah les barbares! quel coup ils m'ont
porté en vous détachant de moi! Mais non, non, grand homme, vous êtes et
serez toujours le même pour moi, qui suis le même toujours."

[306:2] Madame de Boufflers seems to have early apprehended mischief
from Walpole's letter. In the letter referred to, she says, "Je voudrois
savoir si une lettre du Roy de Prusse qui court Paris est vraie ou
fausse. On dit qu'elle est pleine d'ironie." She then proceeds to
describe the letter. Hume in answer says, "I suppose, that by this time
you have learned it was Horace Walpole who wrote the Prussian letter you
mentioned to me. It is a strange inclination we have to be wits,
preferably to every thing else. He is a very worthy man; he esteems and
even admires Rousseau; yet he could not forbear, for the sake of a very
indifferent joke, the turning him into ridicule, and saying harsh things
against him. I am a little angry with him; and I hear you are a great
deal: but the matter ought to be treated only as a piece of
levity."--_Private Correspondence_, p. 130.

[307:1] Private Correspondence, p. 125-128.

[308:1] Private Correspondence, p. 131-132.

[309:1] The mark of interrogation is in the MS.

[309:2] Writing to the Marquise de Barbantane, he makes the following
addition to this anecdote:--

"When the hour came, he told me, that he had changed his resolution, and
would not go: 'for--what shall I do with Sultan?' That is the name of
his dog. 'You must leave him behind,' said I. 'But the first person,'
replied he, 'who opens the door, Sultan will run into the streets in
search of me, and will be lost.' 'You must then,' said I, 'lock him up
in your room, and put the key in your pocket.' This was accordingly
done: but as we went down stairs, the dog howled and made a noise; his
master turned back, and said he had not resolution to leave him in that
condition; but I caught him in my arms and told him, that Mrs. Garrick
had dismissed another company in order to make room for him; that the
King and Queen were expecting to see him; and without a better reason
than Sultan's impatience, it would be ridiculous to disappoint them.
Partly by these reasons, and partly by force, I engaged him to
proceed."--_Private Correspondence_, p. 144.

[310:1] MS. R.S.E.

[310:2] The word appears not to be used in its modern popular sense, but
as meaning a person full of caprice.

[310:3] MS. R.S.E.

[311:1] In his narrative of the controversy, Hume says, "I wrote
immediately to my friend Mr. John Stewart of Buckingham Street, that I
had an affair to communicate to him, of so secret and delicate a nature,
that I should not venture even to commit it to paper, but that he might
learn the particulars of Mr. Elliot. . . . . Mr. Stewart was to look out
for some honest and discreet farmer in his neighbourhood, who might be
willing to lodge and board M. Rousseau and his gouvernante. . . . . It
was not long before Mr. Stewart wrote me word he had found a situation,
which he conceived might be agreeable," &c.

In confirmation of this narrative, there is the following letter in the
MSS. R.S.E. Mr. Stewart is probably the "Jack Stewart," frequently
alluded to in Hume's letters.

     "MY DEAR SIR,--Mr. Elliot told me the affair you recommended
     to him. Since his arrival I have tried every farmer in our
     side of the country, and can find no proper place. Some have
     not room, some hate foreigners, some don't chuse boarders, and
     the major part of all are such beings as he could not live
     with in any comfortable manner. There is an old Frenchman who
     has been here since a child, and has a sort of a garden farm
     at Fulham. To him I proposed the thing without mentioning
     names, and to oblige me he will take such a boarder: but still
     I could wish to find a place where he would be more agreeably
     situated, for this man keeps only a single maid, eats very
     plain, and his house is as dirty as a Frenchman's in France.
     The farmer himself is about sixty years old, unmarried, a
     cheerful honest creature, of a very obliging disposition.
     Consider whether this will suit your purpose, or if I should
     try in other counties. Adieu, my worthy good sir. Believe me
     eternally, your devoted servant,

                                               "J. STEWART."

[312:1] Blair had written on 24th February,--

"I received both your letters; and am exceedingly indebted to you for
the many curious and entertaining anecdotes you gave me concerning
Rousseau. They bestowed upon me somewhat of the same importance which
you say your connexion with Rousseau himself bestowed upon you in Paris,
by having so much information to give my friends from you concerning so
extraordinary a personage. Your accounts pleased me the more, that they
coincided very much with the idea I had always formed of the
man--amiable but whimsical. Strong sensibilities joined with an oddly
arranged understanding. He is a proof of what I always thought to be a
possible mixture in human nature, one being a sceptic from the turn of
their mind, and yet an enthusiast from the turn of their heart; for this
I take to be his real character--a man floating betwixt doubts and
feelings--betwixt scepticism and enthusiasm: leaning more to the latter
than the former; his understanding strangely tinctured by both." He
desires Hume to ask Rousseau, whether the principal scenes in his
"Héloise" were not founded on real events.--MS. R.S.E.

[315:1] This anecdote is told in substantially the same manner to Madame
de Boufflers, to whom its spirit would be doubtless far less
incomprehensible than to Dr. Blair.--_See Private Correspondence_, p.

[317:1] _Literary Gazette_, 1822, p. 731, corrected from original, MS.

[318:1] MS. R.S.E. Blair writes on 12th June:--

"Poor Jardine--I knew you would join with us in dropping very cordial
tears over his memory. What pleasant hours have I passed with you and
him. We have lost a most agreeable companion, as it was possible for any
man to be, and a very useful man to us here, in all public affairs. I
thought of you at the very first as one who would sensibly feel the
blank he will make in our society, when you come again to join it. But
when are you to come?"--MS. R.S.E.


1766-1767. Æt. 55-56.

     Rousseau at Wooton--Mr. Davenport--Negotiations as to
     Rousseau's pension--Origin and rise of his excitement against
     Hume--Proper method of viewing the dispute--Incidents
     illustrative of Rousseau's state of mind--His charges against
     Hume--Smith's opinion--Opinion of the French friends--Hume's
     conduct in the publication of the papers--Voltaire--Rousseau's
     flight and wanderings--Hume's subsequent conduct to him.

The place where Rousseau found a retreat, was the mansion of Wooton in
Derbyshire, surrounded by scenery, not unlike that which he had left
behind him in the Jura. It was a late addition to the extensive
ancestral estates of its proprietor, Mr. Davenport of Davenport. How
successful Hume had been, in finding a man of generous, warm, kindly
nature, to be the protector of his exiled friend, some letters from Mr.
Davenport, printed in the course of this narrative will attest.[319:1]

That Rousseau might be induced to live in his house, it was necessary
that Mr. Davenport should agree to accept of a sum of money in the shape
of board, and he good-humouredly conceded to Hume, that the amount
should be fixed at £30 a-year. "If it be possible," says Hume, "for a
man to live without occupation, without books, without society, and
without sleep, he will not quit this wild and solitary place; where all
the circumstances which he ever required, seem to concur for the
purpose of making him happy. But I dread the weakness and inquietude
natural to every man, and, above all, to a man of his character. I
should not be surprised that he had soon quitted this retreat."[320:1]
It appears that Mr. Davenport intended, if Rousseau became attached to
Wooton, to leave him a life lease of the house.[320:2]

Rousseau reached Wooton about the middle of March. On the 22d he wrote
to his _cher Patron_ Hume, informing him that his new place of residence
was in every way delightful; and that its charms were enhanced by the
reflection, that he owed all the happiness of his new position to his
dear friend.[320:3] Doubtless Hume, who must now have been a little
tired of the caprices which had so constantly baffled his friendly
exertions, felt this acknowledgment to be very gratifying. On the 29th
he received a letter, still friendly and grateful, but not quite so
warm, in which Rousseau, while he complains of the inconvenience of not
being understood by the servants, congratulates himself on his ignorance
of the English language, as saving him from the annoyance of
communication with his neighbours.[320:4]

While all seemed thus serene, dark thoughts were gathering in the
exile's mind: and if Hume, relieved of his troublesome duties, and
probably satisfied with his own conduct, had known the nicer tests of
the state of that variable and tempestuous temper, he might have
calculated, by some indications, that the storm was about to burst. The
letter of Horace Walpole had, for some time, been lying at the bottom of
Rousseau's mind, not forgotten, though hidden from view; and it seems to
have formed the nucleus round which his diseased imaginations gathered,
and put themselves into shape.[321:1] On the 7th of April, Rousseau
sent a letter to the editor of the _St. James's Chronicle_, in which it
had appeared, denouncing it as a forgery concocted in Paris, and saying
that it rent and afflicted his heart to say, that the impostor had his
accomplices in England. That it was not then, or for many weeks before,
that he first became acquainted with this _jeu d'esprit_, is clear from
a letter to Madame de Boufflers, of 18th January, in which he states,
that Hume had just informed him of its existence.[323:1] He appears to
have then attributed it to Voltaire. He afterwards imputed it, with
great confidence, to D'Alembert; and the ultimate discovery, that it was
not written by any literary rival and conspirator, but by an English
gentleman partial to such wicked amusements, appears to have been the
most galling circumstance connected with it.

It seems to have been believed, by some of those who knew Rousseau's
character, that his brooding over Walpole's letter would have been
insufficient to cause the commotions that followed, without the
malicious assistance of Mademoiselle Le Vasseur.[323:2] This woman, who
seems to have possessed all the vices to which her sex is liable,
without one of its virtues,--who had just enough of intellect to assist
the cunning of her depraved heart,--is said to have had an influence
over the philosopher of education, of which it is certainly difficult to
credit the extent. It will be seen, in the letters of Mr. Davenport,
that she had a dispute with his venerable housekeeper, concerning a
kettle and cinders! What was the exact nature of the dispute, is now, it
may be feared, buried in eternal oblivion; and we are left to conjecture
whither an influential cause in a literary quarrel, which interested all
Europe, may possibly have been a kettle and cinders. On the 12th of
May, Rousseau wrote to General Conway, acknowledging the king's goodness
in bestowing on him a pension; saying he thought himself armed against
all disasters, but that a new and unimagined one had arisen, which so
troubled his spirit, that he had not the necessary presence of mind to
decide on the conduct he ought to adopt as to the pension. He expressed,
at the same time, sorrow that he could not publicly acknowledge his
obligations. This appeared to Hume and Conway to be an intimation, that
the pension would not be accepted if it were to be secret.[324:1]

While his mind was thus blackening within, he preserved a cheerful
exterior; and Mr. Davenport wrote to Hume, on 14th May, from Wooton: "I
came on Friday, and had the satisfaction of finding M. Rousseau in
perfect health. He seems to like the place; amuses himself with walking
when the weather is fair; if raining, he plays upon the harpsichord and
writes: is very sociable, and an excellent companion."[325:1] There is
evidence, however, that he had entertained all his evil thoughts of Hume
at a much earlier period. His second letter to him, in the capacity of
_Cher Patron_, is dated, as we have mentioned, 29th March. On the 31st
he wrote to M. D'Ivernois, saying that he found Hume allied with his
most dangerous enemies, and if he were not a rascal, he himself would
owe him many reparations for unjust suspicions entertained of

Resolved to bring the matter of the pension to a conclusion, Hume wrote
to Rousseau thus:--

"_Lisle Street, Leicester Fields_, _June 16, 1766_.

"As I have not received any answer from you, sir, I conclude that you
persevere in the resolution of refusing all marks of his majesty's
goodness, as long as they must remain a secret. I have, therefore,
applied to General Conway to have this condition removed; and I have
been so fortunate as to obtain his promise, that he would speak to the
king for that purpose. It will only be requisite, said he, that we know
previously from M. Rousseau, whether he would accept of a pension
publicly granted him, that his majesty may not be exposed to a second
refusal. He gave me authority to write to you on the subject; and I beg
to hear your resolution as soon as possible. If you give your consent,
which I earnestly entreat you to do, I know that I can depend on the
good offices of the Duke of Richmond to second General Conway's
application; so that I have no doubt of success. I am, my dear sir,
yours, with great sincerity."[326:1]

This brought on the first gust of the storm. On 23d June, Rousseau wrote
his celebrated letter, beginning with the observation, that his silence,
interpreted by Hume's conscience, must have convinced the latter that
the whole of his horrible designs were discovered. In this letter
nothing is more remarkable than the contrast between the frantic
bitterness of the language, and the elaborate neatness of the
penmanship, which, if handwriting conveyed a notion of character, would
represent a calm, contented mind, gratifying itself by the exercise of
the petty art of caligraphy. A fac-simile of the concluding paragraph is
given, that the reader may have an opportunity of marking this singular


Hume, now thoroughly angry, wrote as follows:--


"_June 26, 1766._

"As I am conscious of having ever acted towards you the most friendly
part, of having always given you the most tender and the most active
proofs of sincere affection, you may judge of my extreme surprise on
perusing your epistle. Such violent accusations, confined altogether to
generalities, it is as impossible to answer, as it is impossible to
comprehend them. But affairs cannot, must not, remain on that footing. I
shall charitably suppose that some infamous calumniator has belied me to
you. But, in that case, it is your duty, and, I am persuaded, it will be
your inclination, to give me an opportunity of detecting him, and of
justifying myself; which can only be done by your mentioning the
particulars of which I am accused. You say, that I myself know that I
have been false to you; but I say it loudly, and will say it to the
whole world, that I know the contrary; that I know my friendship towards
you has been unbounded and uninterrupted; and that though I have given
you instances of it, which have been universally remarked both in France
and England, the public as yet are acquainted only with the smallest
part of it. I demand, that you name to me the man who dares assert the
contrary; and, above all, I demand, that he shall mention any one
particular in which I have been wanting to you. You owe this to me; you
owe it to yourself; you owe it to truth, and honour, and justice, and to
every thing deemed sacred among men. As an innocent man--for I will not
say, as your friend; I will not say, as your benefactor; but I repeat
it, as an innocent man, I claim the privilege of proving my innocence,
and of refuting any scandalous falsehood which may have been invented
against me. Mr. Davenport, to whom I have sent a copy of your letter,
and who will read this before he delivers it, will, I am confident,
second my demand, and tell you that nothing can be more equitable.
Happily I have preserved the letter you wrote me after your arrival at
Wooton; and you there express, in the strongest terms, in terms indeed
too strong, your satisfaction in my poor endeavours to serve you. The
little epistolary intercourse, which afterwards passed between us, has
been all employed on my side to the most friendly purposes. Tell me,
then, what has since given you offence. Tell me, of what I am accused.
Tell me the man who accuses me. Even after you have fulfilled all these
conditions to my satisfaction, and to that of Mr. Davenport, you will
still have great difficulty to justify your employing such outrageous
terms towards a man, with whom you have been so intimately connected,
and who was entitled, on many accounts, to have been treated by you with
more regard and decency.

"Mr. Davenport knows the whole transaction about your pension, because I
thought it necessary that the person who had undertaken your settlement
should be fully acquainted with your circumstances; lest he should be
tempted to perform towards you concealed acts of generosity, which, if
they accidentally came to your knowledge, might give you some grounds of
offence. I am, sir," &c.[328:1]

In here exhibiting a few of the prominent features of the quarrel
between Hume and Rousseau, there is no intention of entering on a
defence of Hume, or a full examination of the conduct of the parties.
Viewing it as a picturesque incident in literary history, the reader
will probably feel an interest in such new light as may be thrown upon
it on the present occasion; but, it is presumed that few who have made
themselves acquainted with the material circumstances of the dispute, as
they have been already made known, will expect any thing to be said that
can alter their appreciation of the conduct of the parties. Where there
are personal disputes, there is no cause so hopelessly bad as to be
without partisans; and when no other motive comes into action, a feeling
of generosity towards one who seems to have forfeited the good opinion
of his kind, calls forth a few vindicators and supporters. It was
natural that Rousseau, a man of great genius, whose writings had
produced a prodigious influence on his age,--one who had shown, in many
instances, the outward manifestations of a kind unselfish disposition,
and who had discarded, with an air of magnanimous scorn, all the
grovelling ties that bind the human creature to the earth on which he
crawls,--should have champions and supporters in any dispute in which he
might be involved, be his conduct what it might. Thus he had a few
vindicators, chiefly of the female sex, while he lived: but gradually,
when feelings of personal sympathy had died away, the conduct of the
disputants ceased to be weighed against each other in the same scales.
People did not inquire which of them had acted more fairly and justly
than the other; but, putting Rousseau's conduct out of the question as a
criterion, they asked, whether that of Hume was kind and magnanimous
towards the unfortunate monomaniac?[329:1] Although this view is plainly
to be traced in the sentiments of those who have fugitively touched on
the dispute, it is to be gathered more from the general tone of their
remarks, than from any direct avowal of belief, that Rousseau was a
monomaniac.[331:1] There is a majesty in genius, that makes us reluctant
thus to ally it with the debasement of the human intellect. Yet, too
often, some portion of the most brilliant mind is thus eclipsed, though
the brightness of what is clear prevents our seeing easily the blackened
spot. In Rousseau's case, there has been, perhaps, a disinclination to
admit the "plea of insanity," on account of the wonderful practical
sagacity that accompanied his aberrations. Though apparently surveying
the world with a sick and careless eye, he occasionally penetrated into
the depths of the human heart, and marked its secrets, with an accuracy
that made the practised and systematic observer's survey seem but a
superficial glance. He had a mind at times eminently practical,[332:1]
and suited to estimate men's conduct and character: and thus appearing
before the world, there has been much hesitation to pronounce, that the
sincerity of insanity accompanied all his vile charges against a man
whose heart could not have been for one moment visited by the atrocities
of which he is accused.

It is clear, that whatever had been Hume's conduct in the affair,
Rousseau's rage was a storm predestined to burst upon him. Its elements
were in the mind of "the self-torturing sophist," not in the conduct of
any other person; and whoever was the object nearest to his thoughts at
the moment, as being most associated with the circumstances in which he
was placed, had to stand the shock. In this view, Hume's conduct is no
more to be tested by that of Rousseau, than the keeper's by that of his
patient. We are thus rid of the unpleasant employment of comparing
things which cannot bear comparison; and of the sickening task of
enumerating instances of kindness, attachment, persevering good offices,
and charitable interpretations of conduct on the one side, met by black
ingratitude, contempt, and deadly injury on the other.

If we look for that over-excited propensity which may have caused this
mental disease, it appears, beyond doubt, that it was vanity.[333:1]
All Rousseau's avowed misfortunes are the calamities of celebrity. At
one time he is the victim of princes and prime ministers; at another, of
an assembled clergy; at another, of half the learned men of Europe. That
he is neglected and forgotten is never among his ostensible complaints;
though there is good reason to believe that it was at the bottom of his
most conspicuous fits of fury. The English people, though they were at
first somewhat curious about the remarkable stranger, did not incommode
themselves about him, and obstinately abstained from following him into
the wilderness. In his long letter of charges, he cannot help bitterly
remarking the apathy of the public; but he states it as an accusation
against Hume,[333:2] whom he supposes to have said, like Flavius,

                               I'll about
     And drive away the vulgar from the streets:
     So do you too, where you perceive them thick.
     These growing feathers, pluck'd from Cæsar's wing,
     Will make him fly an ordinary pitch,
     Who else would soar above the view of men,
     And keep us all in servile fearfulness.

Had the solitudes of Wooton been peopled by multitudes anxious to catch
a passing glance of the "apostle of affliction," he would doubtless have
let loose his half-appeased discontent in some querulous letters about
the impossibility of his finding repose and solitude; but he would not
have courted such a conflict as he rushed into in the bitterness of his
solitude. Although his character stands without parallel in its own vast
proportions, it is not without abundance of exemplifications on a
smaller scale. There are few who have not, in their journey through
life, encountered one or more small Rousseaus, in men of ravenous and
insatiable vanity, who, unlike the ordinary good-natured vain men, are
perpetually rejecting the incense offered to their appetite, and
demanding some new form of worship. In these, as in the chimney-piece
models of celebrated statues, may we view the proportions of the great
self-tormenter's mind; and when it is found that the peculiarity is
generally accompanied with some observable amount of intellectual
acquirements, which place the individual a degree above those who
surround him, the resemblance is the more complete. Vanity being its
source, the shape assumed by his monomania was a dread of conspiracies
in all shapes; and he was as sincere a believer in their existence, as
any unfortunate inhabitant of bedlam has ever been in the creations of
his diseased mind.[334:1]

Hume had difficulty in extracting an answer to his letter of 26th June;
and probably it would not have been opened without the intervention of
Mr. Davenport. It was one of Rousseau's whims for some time not to
receive any letters; he said they were one of the methods by which his
enemies had persecuted him. On his first arrival he was to open none but
those which passed through the hands of his _Cher Patron_;[335:1] a
convenient arrangement, as it afterwards enabled him to accuse Hume of
tampering with his correspondence.

Two letters were received from Mr. Davenport, before Rousseau drew up
his charge.


     _Davenport, June 30, 1766._

     DEAR SIR,--The receipt of your two last gave me much
     uneasiness, which was augmented by some letters received
     yesterday from Rousseau, along with yours, directed for me at
     Wooton. Surely there must have been some excessive great
     mistakes. It appears to me a heap of confusion, of which I can
     make neither head nor tail. His letter to you is perfectly
     astonishing: never any thing was so furious; so--I protest I
     don't know what to call it! I long to see him: he certainly
     will tell some reason or other that could induce him to write
     in that manner. Till I have seen him I can give no sort of
     answer to your queries, as he never spoke one syllable to me
     about any difference at all. I can't, possibly, before
     Saturday's post; as in this part of the country we have only
     three days in a week to send letters to town. You desired me
     to burn the duplicate after reading. That signifies nothing,
     for I can send you the other which I received yesterday from
     Wooton. Good God, he must be most excessively out of the way
     about this pension! In short, I have not patience to add one
     word more, till I hear what he can possibly have to say; and
     then I'll immediately acquaint you.

     I can't help being troubled at seeing your uneasiness, and
     will with great pleasure do all in my power to assist in
     freeing you from it; at least I'll do my best endeavours. I
     am, your most obedient humble servant,

                                               R. DAVENPORT.

     _6th July, 1766._

     DEAR SIR,--I went over to Wooton on Tuesday: had a long
     conference with Mr. Rousseau on the subject of your last
     letters; gave into his hands yours addressed to him, (which he
     had not read before:) showed him those I received from you;
     and in the most earnest manner insisted upon his giving you an
     open answer to all your questions, which I told him you had
     certainly a right to ask, and he could not have any pretence
     whatever to refuse. His spirits seemed vastly fluttered.
     However, he told me a long history of the whole affair. I
     said, that as my knowledge of the French language was very
     imperfect, I might easily misrepresent things, so begged him
     to write down the whole matter. Before he began his discourse,
     I could not help speaking a deal to him on the subject of the
     pension, and expressed my astonishment at his even ever having
     had the least thought of refusing the favours of the greatest
     king in the world. To my infinite surprise, he directly
     returned this answer, That he never had refused, or any thing
     like it; spoke with the greatest respect and veneration of his
     majesty, and with all sort of acknowledgments of gratitude to
     General Conway, &c. You may well imagine my surprise
     increased. He then began his story: but that I entirely leave
     to his pen, as he has faithfully promised to perform. I am
     really sorry for him; he's uneasy, frets perpetually, and
     looks terribly. 'Tis almost impossible to conceive the oddness
     of his extreme sensibility; so that I conclude, when he's
     guilty of an error, his nerves are more in fault than his
     heart. Things vex him to the utmost extent of vexation, which
     would not even move such a dull soul as mine is. In short, I
     perceive his disorder is jealousy: he thinks you are fond of
     some _savans hommes_, whom he unfortunately calls his enemies.
     It will give me the greatest satisfaction to hear that you
     have received a satisfactory answer, and that every thing is
     set right again.[337:1]

At last came the full outpouring of the long-treasured wrath, in a
letter dated the 10th of July, as long as an ordinary pamphlet, and
penned with the same neat precision as its predecessor. The reader will
not expect a document so well known and easily accessible to be
reprinted; and an abridgment would fail to give any notion of the rabid
eloquence with which the most paltry incidents are made to assume the
appearance of portentous charges; until, through vehemence of expression
and multitude of powerful words, they seem for the moment to acquire
substantial shape. Many of the charges contained in this "indictment"
have been already alluded to. The document begins with a statement of
its author's candour,[337:2] and hatred of every kind of artifice; and
no one can read the charges which follow, monstrously absurd as they
are, without seeing that they are made in the perfect sincerity of a
mind that saw all things through its own diseased medium. The following
is one of the substantive charges:--

     I was informed that the son of the quack Tronchin,[338:1] my
     most mortal enemy, was not only the friend of Mr. Hume, and
     under his protection, but that they both lodged in the same
     house; and when Mr. Hume found that I knew this, he imparted
     it in confidence to me; assuring me that the son by no means
     resembled the father. I lodged a few nights myself, together
     with my governante, in the same house; and from the kind of
     reception with which we were honoured by the landladies, who
     are his friends, I judged in what manner either Mr. Hume, or
     that man, who, as he said, was by no means like his father,
     must have spoken to them both of her and me.

     All these facts put together, added to a certain appearance of
     things on the whole, insensibly gave me an uneasiness, which I
     rejected with horror.

The description of the following scene must have been, to those who knew
Hume personally, irresistibly ludicrous. The picture of the phlegmatic
reserve of English manners, is made perfect by contrast. It appears from
Hume's letter, that the scene arose out of the dispute about the return

     One evening, after supper, as we were sitting silent by the
     fireside, I caught his eyes intently fixed on me, as indeed
     happened very often; and that in a manner of which it is very
     difficult to give an idea. At that time he gave me a
     steadfast, piercing look, mingled with a sneer, which greatly
     disturbed me. To get rid of my embarrassment, I endeavoured to
     look full at him in my turn; but, in fixing my eyes upon his,
     I felt the most inexpressible terror, and was soon obliged to
     turn them away. The speech and physiognomy of the good David
     are those of an honest man; but where, great God! did this
     honest man borrow those eyes which he fixes on his friends?

     The impression of this look remained with me, and gave me much
     uneasiness. My trouble increased even to a degree of fainting;
     and if I had not been relieved by a flood of tears, I must
     have been suffocated. Presently after this I was seized with
     the most violent remorse: I even despised myself; till at
     length, in a transport, which I still remember with delight, I
     sprang on his neck, and embraced him eagerly; while, almost
     choked with sobbing, and bathed in tears, I cried out, in
     broken accents, "No, no, David Hume cannot be treacherous; if
     he be not the best of men, he must be the basest." David Hume
     politely returned my embraces, and gently tapping me on the
     back, repeated several times, in a placid tone, "Why, what, my
     dear sir! Nay, my dear sir! Oh, my dear sir!" He said nothing
     more. I felt my heart yearn within me. We went to bed; and I
     set out the next day for the country.

There is another charge against Hume, of once muttering in his sleep the
words _Je tiens J. J. Rousseau_; which he did not deny, saying, that he
could not feel certain as to what he might or might not have done when
asleep, though he doubted if it was his practice to dream in
French.[339:1] The proffered hospitalities and kindnesses of Hume are a
running charge throughout; wound up with the conclusion, that as he must
have seen that Rousseau was estranged from him, "If he supposed that in
such circumstances I should have accepted his services, he must have
supposed me to have been an infamous scoundrel. It was then in behalf of
a man whom he supposed to be a scoundrel that he so warmly solicited a
pension from his majesty."[340:1]

Hume's answer to this charge was as follows:


     _Lisle Street, Leicester Fields, July 22, 1766._

     SIR,--I shall only answer one article of your long letter: it
     is that which regards the conversation we had the evening
     before your departure. Mr. Davenport had contrived a
     good-natured artifice, to make you believe that a retour
     chaise was ready to set out for Wooton; and I believe he
     caused an advertisement be put in the papers, in order the
     better to deceive you. His purpose only was to save you some
     expenses in the journey, which I thought a laudable project;
     though I had no hand either in contriving or conducting it.
     You entertained, however, a suspicion of his design, while we
     were sitting alone by my fireside; and you reproached me with
     concurring in it. I endeavoured to pacify you, and to divert
     the discourse; but to no purpose. You sat sullen, and was
     either silent, or made me very peevish answers. At last you
     rose up, and took a turn or two about the room, when all of a
     sudden, and to my great surprise, you clapped yourself on my
     knee, threw your arms about my neck, kissed me with seeming
     ardour, and bedewed my face with tears. You exclaimed, "My
     dear friend, can you ever pardon this folly? After all the
     pains you have taken to serve me, after the numberless
     instances of friendship you have given me, here I reward you
     with this ill-humour and sullenness. But your forgiveness of
     me will be a new instance of your friendship; and I hope you
     will find at bottom, that my heart is not unworthy of it."

     I was very much affected, I own; and I believe a very tender
     scene passed between us. You added, by way of compliment no
     doubt, that though I had many better titles to recommend me to
     posterity, yet perhaps my uncommon attachment to a poor,
     unhappy, and persecuted man, would not be altogether

     This incident was somewhat remarkable; and it is impossible
     that either you or I could so soon have forgot it. But you
     have had the assurance to tell me the story twice, in a manner
     so different, or rather so opposite, that when I persist, as I
     do, in this account, it necessarily follows, that either you
     are, or I am, a liar. You imagine, perhaps, that because the
     incident passed privately without a witness, the question will
     lie between the credibility of your assertion and of mine. But
     you shall not have this advantage or disadvantage, whichever
     you are pleased to term it. I shall produce against you other
     proofs, which will put the matter beyond controversy.

     First, You are not aware, that I have a letter under your
     hand, which is tolerably irreconcilable with your account, and
     confirms mine.[343:1]

     Secondly, I told the story the next day, or the day after, to
     Mr. Davenport, with a view of preventing any such good-natured
     artifices for the future. He surely remembers it.

     Thirdly, As I thought the story much to your honour, I told it
     to several of my friends here. I even wrote it to Madame de
     Boufflers at Paris. I believe no one will imagine that I was
     preparing beforehand an apology, in case of a rupture with
     you; which, of all human events, I should then have thought
     the most incredible, especially as we were separated, almost
     for ever, and I still continued to render you the most
     essential services.

     Fourthly, The story, as I tell it, is consistent and rational:
     there is not common sense in your account. What! because
     sometimes, when absent in thought, (a circumstance common
     enough with men whose minds are intensely occupied,) I have a
     fixed look or stare, you suspect me to be a traitor, and you
     have the assurance to tell me of such black and ridiculous
     suspicions! For you do not even pretend that before you left
     London you had any other solid grounds of suspicion against

     I shall enter into no detail with regard to your letter: you
     yourself well know that all the other articles of it are
     without foundation. I shall only add in general, that I
     enjoyed about a month ago an uncommon pleasure, in thinking
     that, in spite of many difficulties, I had, by assiduity and
     care, and even beyond my most sanguine expectations, provided
     for your repose, honour, and fortune. But that pleasure was
     soon imbittered, by finding that you had voluntarily and
     wantonly thrown away all those advantages, and was become the
     declared enemy of your own repose, fortune, and honour: I
     cannot be surprised after this that you are my enemy. Adieu,
     and for ever.[344:1]

Hume did not profess to submit to these attacks with the meekness of the
dove, as a few letters to his friends will show. Of the two following
letters to Blair, the one was written before, the other after the
reception of Rousseau's "indictment."


"_Lisle Street, 1st July, 1766._

"You will be surprised, dear Doctor, when I desire you most earnestly
never in your life to show to any mortal creature the letters I wrote
you with regard to Rousseau. He is surely the blackest and most
atrocious villain, beyond comparison, that now exists in the world, and
I am heartily ashamed of any thing I ever wrote in his favour. I know
you will pity me when I tell you that I am afraid I must publish this to
the world in a pamphlet, which must contain an account of the whole
transaction between us.[344:2] My only comfort is, that the matter will
be so clear as not to leave to any mortal the smallest possibility of
doubt. You know how dangerous any controversy on a disputable point
would be with a man of his talents. I know not where the miscreant will
now retire to, in order to hide his head from this infamy. I am,"

"_15th July, 1766._

"DEAR DOCTOR,--I go in a few hours to Woburn; so can only give you the
outline of my history. Through many difficulties I obtained a pension
for Rousseau. The application was made with his own consent and
knowledge. I write him, that all is happily completed, and he need only
draw for the money. He answers me, that I am a rogue and a rascal; and
have brought him into England merely to dishonour him. I demand the
reason of this strange language; and Mr. Davenport, the gentleman with
whom he lives, tells him that he must necessarily satisfy me. To-day I
received a letter from him, which is perfect frenzy. It would make a
good eighteen-penny pamphlet; and I fancy he intends to publish it. He
there tells me, that D'Alembert, Horace Walpole, and I, had, from the
first, entered into a combination to ruin him, and had ruined him. That
the first suspicion of my treachery arose in him while we lay together
in the same room of an inn in France. I there spoke in my sleep, and
betrayed my intention of ruining him. That young Tronchin lodged in the
same house with me at London; and Annie Elliot looked very coldly at him
as he went by her in the passage. That I am also in a close confederacy
with Lord Lyttelton, who, he hears, is his mortal enemy. That the
English nation were very fond of him on his first arrival; but that
Horace Walpole and I had totally alienated them from him. He owns,
however, that his belief of my treachery went no higher than suspicion,
while he was in London; but it rose to certainty after he arrived in the
country; for that there were several publications in the papers against
him, which could have proceeded from nobody but me, or my confederate,
Horace Walpole. The rest is all of a like strain, intermixed with many
lies and much malice. I own that I was very anxious about this affair,
but this letter has totally relieved me. I write in a hurry, merely to
satisfy your curiosity. I hope soon to see you, and am," &c.[346:1]

There could have been no incident better calculated than this to create
a sensation in the coteries of Paris. Immediately on receiving the first
angry letter, Hume sent an indignant account of the ingratitude and
malevolence of Rousseau to the Baron D'Holbach, which proved a
delightfully exciting morsel to a party assembled at his house; for the
baron had told him, from the beginning, that he was warming a serpent in
his bosom.[346:2] The very rapid celebrity which the story received does
not seem to have been anticipated by Hume, and he says, apologetically,
to Madame de Boufflers,--"I wrote, indeed, to Baron D'Holbach, without
either recommending or expecting secrecy: but I thought this story, like
others, would be told to eight or ten people; in a week or two, twenty
or thirty more might hear it, and it would require three months before
it would reach you at Pougues. I little imagined that a private story,
told to a private gentleman, could run over a whole kingdom in a moment.
If the King of England had declared war against the King of France, it
could not have been more suddenly the subject of conversation."[346:3]
Between the rupture and the publication of the narrative regarding it,
Hume seems to have written very abundantly on the subject, to his
friends in Paris. The following is one of his letters:--


     _Lisle Street, Leicester Fields, 12th August, 1766._

     MY DEAR SIR,--I have used the freedom to send to you, in two
     packets, by this post, the whole train of my correspondence
     with Rousseau, connected by a short narrative. I hope you will
     have leisure to peruse it. The story is incredible, as well as
     inconceivable, were it not founded on such authentic
     documents. Surely never was there so much wickedness and
     madness combined in one human creature; nor did ever any one
     meet with such a return for such signal services as those I
     performed towards him. But I am told that he used to say to
     Duclos, and others, that he hated all those to whom he owed
     any obligation. In that case I am fully entitled to his

     I am really at a loss what use to make of this collection. The
     story, I am told, is very much the object of conversation at
     Paris. Though my conduct has been entirely innocent, or
     rather, indeed, very meritorious, it happens, no doubt, as is
     usual in such ruptures, that I will bear a part of the blame;
     from which a publication of these papers would entirely free
     me: yet I own I have an antipathy and reluctance to appeal to
     the public; and fear that such a publication would be the only
     blame I could incur in this affair. You know that nobody's
     judgment weighs farther with me than yours: think a little of
     the matter. If M{me.} De Dupré were in town, I would desire
     her to give these papers a perusal, and tell me her opinions.
     Unhappily M. Trudaine would only understand the French part,
     which is by far the most considerable. What would his friend
     Fontenelle have done in this situation?

     I am as great a lover of peace as he, and have kept myself as
     free from all literary quarrels; but surely neither he nor any
     other person was ever engaged in a controversy with a man of
     so much malice,--of such a profligate disposition to lies, and
     such great talents. It is nothing to dispute my style or my
     abilities as an historian or philosopher; my books ought to
     answer for themselves, or they are not worth the
     defending;--to fifty writers who have attacked me on this
     head, I never made the least reply. But this is a different
     case; imputations are here thrown on my morals and my conduct;
     and, though my case is so clear as not to admit of the least
     controversy, yet it is only clear to those who know it; and I
     am uncertain how far the public in Paris are in this case. At
     London, a publication would be regarded as entirely

     I must desire you to send these papers to D'Alembert after you
     have read them: M. Turgot will get them from him. I should
     desire that _he_ saw them before he sets out for his

     Does not M{me.} de Montigny laugh at me, that I should have
     sent her, but a few weeks ago, the portrait of Rousseau, done
     from an original in my possession, and should now send you
     these papers, which prove him to be one of the worst men,
     perhaps, that ever existed, if his frenzy be not some apology
     for him. I beg my compliments to M. and M{me.} Fourqueux; and
     am, with great truth and sincerity, my dear sir, your most
     affectionate humble servant.[348:1]

To Adam Smith, who was then in Paris, he wrote the following letter,
without date:--


"You may see in M. D'Alembert's hands, the whole narrative of my affair
with Rousseau, along with the whole train of correspondence. Pray, is it
not a nice problem, whether he be not an arrant villain, or an arrant
madman, or both. The last is my opinion, but the villain seems to me to
predominate most in his character. I shall not publish them unless
forced, which you will own to be a very great degree of self-denial. My
conduct in this affair would do me a great deal of honour, and his would
blast him for ever, and blast his writings at the same time; for as
these have been exalted much above their merit, when his personal
character falls, they would of course fall below their merit. I am,
however, apprehensive that in the end I shall be obliged to publish.
About two or three days ago, there was an article in the _St. James's
Chronicle_, copied from the _Brussels Gazette_, which pointed at this
dispute. This may probably put Rousseau in a rage. He will publish
something, which may oblige me for my own honour to give the narrative
to the public. There will be no reason to dread a long train of
disagreeable controversy. One publication begins and ends it on my side.
Pray, tell me your judgment of my work, if it deserves the name. Tell
D'Alembert I make him absolute master, to retrench or alter what he
thinks proper, in order to suit it to the latitude of Paris.

"Were you and I together, dear Smith, we should shed tears at present
for the death of poor Sir James Macdonald. We could not possibly have
suffered a greater loss, than in that valuable young man. I am,"

There is a letter by Smith on the subject, kind and honest. It must be
kept in view, that it was written not only before the series of
documents, mentioned in Hume's letter, had been sent to France, and
before the French friends had recommended Hume to publish, but before
the date of Rousseau's indictment. We shall, hereafter, find that Smith
seems to have withdrawn his objection to the publication.


     _Paris, 6th July, 1766._

     MY DEAR FRIEND,--I am thoroughly convinced that Rousseau is as
     great a rascal as you and as every man here believes him to
     be; yet let me beg of you, not to think of publishing any
     thing to the world, upon the very great impertinence which he
     has been guilty of to you. By refusing the pension which you
     had the goodness to solicit for him with his own consent, he
     may have thrown, by the baseness of his proceedings, some
     little ridicule upon you in the eyes of the court and the
     ministry. Stand this ridicule, expose his brutal letter, but
     without giving it out of your own hand, so that it may never
     be printed; and if you can, laugh at yourself, and I shall
     pawn my life, that before three weeks are at an end, this
     little affair, which at present gives you so much uneasiness,
     shall be understood to do you as much honour as any thing that
     has ever happened to you. By endeavouring to unmask before the
     public this hypocritical pedant, you run the risk of
     disturbing the tranquillity of your whole life. By letting him
     alone, he cannot give you a fortnight's uneasiness. To write
     against him is, you may depend upon it, the very thing he
     wishes you to do. He is in danger of falling into obscurity in
     England, and he hopes to make himself considerable, by
     provoking an illustrious adversary. He will have a great
     party: the Church, the Whigs, the Jacobites, the whole wise
     English nation, who will love to mortify a Scotchman, and to
     applaud a man who has refused a pension from the king. It is
     not unlikely, too, that they may pay him very well for having
     refused it, and that even he may have had in view this
     compensation. Your whole friends here wish you not to
     write--the Baron,[350:1] D'Alembert, Madame Riccoboni,
     Mademoiselle Rianecourt, M. Turgot, &c. &c. M. Turgot, a
     friend every way worthy of you, desired me to recommend this
     advice to you in a particular manner, as his most earnest
     entreaty and opinion. He and I are both afraid that you are
     surrounded with evil counsellors, and that the advice of your
     English literati, who are themselves accustomed to publish all
     their little gossiping stories in newspapers, may have too
     much influence upon you. Remember me to Mr. Walpole, and
     believe me, &c.

Smith was thus in consultation on the subject with the excellent Turgot,
who gave Hume his opinion at great length. On the 27th July, before he
could have heard of the long "indictment," he wrote[351:1] that he could
trace the rage of Rousseau to two causes: first, Hume being the author
of one of the sarcasms in Walpole's letter, a rumour which Turgot
appears to have believed; and second, the interpreting the letter to Mr.
Conway as a refusal of the pension, which it was not intended by
Rousseau to be. If the latter was one of Rousseau's grievances, he did
not make it a count in the indictment. Turgot was ignorant of the
strength of provocation which Hume received. He says, that it is a
mistake to suppose Rousseau's conduct the effect of deliberate
design,--a view in which every one not in the vortex of the dispute must
have coincided with him; and on the ground that no sensible person will
believe that he is guilty of the charges his excited enemy may make
against him, he advises Hume not to treat them seriously. He even hints
that Hume should acknowledge that he misinterpreted the letter about the
pension, and should endeavour to coax Rousseau back to good humour, as a
public exposure would be unpleasant to both parties. On the 7th
September, after having seen all the documents, he preserved the same
tone in speaking of Rousseau; recommending forbearance towards him: but
at the same time he expressed an opinion that Hume might find it
necessary to publish a narrative of the transaction.[352:1]

We find that Smith was also in communication with Madame de Boufflers,
who wrote to Hume at considerable length, in the knowledge of the first
angry letter, but not of the "indictment." She assumes a tone much the
same as that of Turgot, when he wrote in the same circumstances. She
expresses many regrets that Hume should have written so condemnatory a
letter to the Baron D'Holbach. He is told that those who _profess_ to be
his friends in France will abet him, because he is proving himself to be
a mere ordinary human being, instead of continuing to show his
superiority to the common frailties of humanity. He is entreated to look
compassionately on a man who has overwhelmed himself with calamities,
and to treat one who is capable only of injuring himself with generous
pity. While making these recommendations, she, as well as Turgot,
believed that one of the sarcasms in Walpole's letter had been suggested
by Hume.[354:1] The same tone was taken up by Lord Marischal; who,
writing on the 15th August from Potsdam, seems not to have perused the
"indictment." "You did all in your power," says this kind old soldier,
"to serve him; his écart afflicts me on his account more than yours, who
have, I am sure, nothing to reproach yourself with. It will be good and
humane in you, and like Le Bon David, not to answer."[354:2]

D'Alembert was at first opposed to a publication, and to an exposure of
the follies of the wise before "cette sotte bête appelée le public." So
early, however, as the 21st of July, he communicates the solemn opinion
of himself and other friends in Paris, that after the publicity which
the dispute has acquired, it will be necessary for Hume to print a
narrative.[354:3] He states that this is the opinion of all intelligent
people. He says at the same time, that he had been speaking with Adam
Smith on the subject, and though his name is not among those of the
committee who recommended the publication, it may be presumed that he
had at length admitted it to be necessary.

In connexion with the letter from D'Alembert, Hume wrote thus to

     DEAR SIR,--When I came home last night, I found on my table a
     very long letter from D'Alembert, who tells me, that on
     receiving from me an account of my affair with Rousseau, he
     summoned a meeting of all my literary friends at Paris, and
     found them all unanimously of the same opinion with himself,
     and of a contrary opinion to me, with regard to my conduct.
     They all think I ought to give to the public a narrative of
     the whole. However, I persist still more closely in my first
     opinion, especially after receiving the last mad letter.
     D'Alembert tells me that it is of great importance for me to
     justify myself from having any hand in the letter from the
     King of Prussia. I am told by Crawford, that you had wrote it
     a fortnight before I left Paris, but did not show it to a
     mortal, for fear of hurting me; a delicacy of which I am very
     sensible. Pray recollect if it was so. Though I do not intend
     to publish, I am collecting all the original pieces, and I
     shall connect them by a concise narrative. It is necessary for
     me to have that letter and Rousseau's answer. Pray, assist me
     in this work. About what time, do you think, were they
     printed? I am, &c.[355:1]

Hume, afterwards, sent to Paris all the documents connected with
Rousseau's attack, to be published or not, at the discretion of his
friends; and they were published. If it be asked how he permitted so
cruel a thing to be done, the answer is, that he was human, and had been
deeply injured; that he had a reputation to preserve, and did not
consider himself bound to sacrifice it to the peace of his assailant.
Rousseau had triumphantly written, hither and thither, that Hume dared
not publish the "indictment." He had said, that if he did not see David
Hume exposed ere he died, he would cease to believe in Providence. He
was occupied in writing his celebrated Confessions, and had
significantly hinted to Hume that he would find himself pilloried there.
It is possible to create an ideal image of a mind that would have calmly
resisted all these impulses, and let the traducer proceed unnoticed in
his frantic labours. It is probable that if he had adopted this course,
Hume would in the end have been as completely absolved from the
accusations of Rousseau, as he was by the publication of the accusation.
Had he thus scorned to adopt the usual means of protecting his good
name, his character would have appeared, to all who believed in his
innocence, more magnanimous than it was. But it certainly would not have
been so natural; and many of those who seemed to have expected that the
metaphysician should be above the influence of ordinary human passions,
appear to have forgotten, that there are few even of the men whose
office it is to teach that those smitten on the one cheek should present
the other, who would have shown even as much forbearance on the occasion
as David Hume.

The editing of the French version of these documents was committed to
Suard, the author of the Mélanges de Littérature. In answer to a letter
of 2d November,[357:1] announcing the publication, Hume wrote to him in
the following terms, admitting, as the reader will perceive, that he had
used harsh expressions, and approving of their being softened.


     I cannot sufficiently express, my dear sir, all the
     acknowledgments which I owe you for the pains you have taken
     in translating a work, which so little merited your attention,
     or the attention of the public. It is done entirely to my
     satisfaction; and the introduction in particular is wrote with
     great prudence and discretion in every point, except where
     your partiality to me appears too strongly. I accept of it,
     however, very willingly as a pledge of your friendship. You
     and M. D'Alembert did well in softening some expressions,
     especially in the notes; and I shall take care to follow these
     corrections in the English edition. My paper, indeed, was not
     wrote for the public eye; and nothing but a train of
     unforeseen accidents could have engaged me to give it to the
     press. I am not surprised, that those who do not consider nor
     weigh those circumstances, should blame this appeal to the
     public; but it is certain that if I had persevered in keeping
     silence, I should have passed for the guilty person, and those
     very people who blame me at present, would, with the
     appearance of reason, have thrown a much greater blame upon
     me. This whole adventure, I must regard as a misfortune in my
     life: and yet, even after all is past, when it is easy to
     correct any errors, I am not sensible that I can accuse myself
     of any imprudence; except in accepting of this man when he
     threw himself into my arms: and yet it would then have
     appeared cruel to refuse him. I am excusable for not expecting
     to meet with such a prodigy of pride and ferocity, because
     such a one never before existed. But after he had declared war
     against me in so violent a manner, it could not have been
     prudent in me to keep silence towards my friends, and to wait
     till he should find a proper time to stab my reputation. From
     my friends, the affair passed to the public, who interested
     themselves more in a private story, than it was possible to
     imagine; and rendered it quite necessary to lay the whole
     before them. Yet, after all, if any one be pleased to think,
     that by greater prudence I could have avoided this
     disagreeable extremity, I am very willing to submit. It is not
     surely the first imprudence I have been guilty of.[358:1]

Among other distinctions, the publication of the controversy brought
Hume a letter from Voltaire, in which the patriarch gave the history of
his own grievances against Rousseau, with all his usual sarcasm; and
said, of that absorbing vanity for which he might have had more fellow
feeling, that Rousseau, believing himself worthy of a statue, thought
one half of the world was occupied in raising it on its pedestal, and
the other in pulling it down.[358:2]

This little collection, bearing the title, "Exposé succint de la
contestation qui s'est élévée entre M. Hume et M. Rousseau, avec les
pieces justificatives," was soon afterwards published in English, under
Hume's own superintendence. He judiciously observed, that a translation
would undoubtedly appear, and that it was more honest, and at the same
time more conducive to his reputation, that he should himself
superintend the publication.

He had intimated, that as Rousseau would probably impugn the genuineness
of the letters as they appeared in print, he would deposit the originals
in a public library. In this view, he addressed the following letter to
the librarian of the British Museum.

"_Edinburgh, 23d Jan. 1767._

"SIR,--As M. Rousseau had wrote to several of his correspondents, that I
never dared to publish the letters which he had wrote me; or if I
published them they would be so falsified that they would not be the
same, I was obliged to say in my preface, that the originals would be
consigned in the Museum. I hope you have no objection to the receiving
them. I send them by my friend M. Ramsay. Be so good as to give them the
corner of any drawer. I fancy few people will trouble you by desiring a
sight of them. All the world seems to be satisfied concerning the
foundation of that unhappy affair. Yet notwithstanding, I own, that I
never in my life took a step with so much reluctance as the consenting
to that publication. But as it appeared absolutely necessary to all my
friends at Paris, I could not withstand their united opinion. I have
also sent the original of M. Walpole's letter to me, which enters into
the collection. I am, sir, your most obedient, and most humble

It appears that the trustees of the British Museum, for some one or
other of the inscrutable reasons which occasionally sway the counsels of
such bodies, declined to receive this very curious collection of
documents. Dr. Maty, writing to Hume on 22d April, 1767, says, "I longed
to have some conversation with you on the subject of the papers, which
were remitted to me by the hands of M{r.} Ramsay, and as our trustees
did not think proper to receive them, to restore them into yours. With
respect to these papers, give me leave to assure you, that I had never
any doubt about the merits of the cause. I have long ago fixed my
opinion about R----'s character, and think madness is the only excuse
that can be offered for his inconsistencies."[360:2]

Those original letters connected with the controversy, which were
addressed to Hume, whether by Rousseau or others, are among the papers
in possession of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. They bear marks of
having been much handled.[360:3] Of the letters addressed to Rousseau,
which of course were written in French, it is to be presumed that Hume
preserved the duplicates, which afterwards enabled him to show copies of
the documents on both sides. The originals probably do not exist; for
Rousseau, who held his own part in a controversy as the only important
one, appears not to have kept the letters addressed to him, though he
retained copies of his own.

The dispute with Rousseau very nearly produced a subsidiary discussion
with Horace Walpole. He said, alluding to the advice which had been
transmitted to Hume by D'Alembert, "Your set of literary friends are
what a set of literary men are apt to be, exceedingly absurd. They hold
a consistory to consult how to argue with a madman; and they think it
very necessary for your character, to give them the pleasure of seeing
Rousseau exposed; not because he has provoked you, but them. If Rousseau
prints, you must; but I certainly would not, till he does."

Walpole evidently looked on this quarrel as a small dispute between
small people;--something on a par with the wrangling of country
gentlemen about their preserves and their swing gates.[361:1] Yet, when
he found that his own name appeared to be connected with it, he thought
it right to publish "a narrative of what passed relative to the quarrel
of Mr. David Hume and J. J. Rousseau, as far as Mr. Horace Walpole was
concerned in it." He very distinctly absolves Hume from any connexion
with the fictitious letter of the King of Prussia. The only wrong of
which he had to complain was, that Hume published this exoneration, of
which it seems a publication was not expected, though the letter
contained the words, "You are at full liberty, dear sir, to make use of
what I say in your justification, either to Rousseau or any body else;"
and that, in printing the letter, the passage above cited, reflecting on
the literary circle of Paris, had been, from motives of delicacy towards
all parties, suppressed.[362:1]

The only portion of Walpole's pamphlet that appears to possess any
interest, contains Hume's remarks on his friend, D'Alembert. They were
intended as an answer to Walpole's spiteful sneers; but, though
eulogistic, and apparently just, they by no means exhibit a violent
encomiastic zeal.

     D'Alembert is a very agreeable companion, and of
     irreproachable morals. By refusing great offers from the
     Czarina and the King of Prussia, he has shown himself above
     interest and vain ambition. He lives in an agreeable retreat
     at Paris, suitable to a man of letters. He has five pensions:
     one from the King of Prussia, one from the French King, one as
     member of the Academy of Sciences, one as member of the French
     Academy, and one from his own family. The whole amount of
     these is not six thousand livres a-year; on the half of which
     he lives decently, and gives the other half to poor people
     with whom he is connected. In a word, I scarce know a man,
     who, with some few exceptions, (for there must always be some
     exceptions,) is a better model of a _virtuous_ and
     _philosophical_ character.

     You see I venture still to join these two epithets as
     inseparable, and almost synonymous, though you seem inclined
     to regard them almost as incompatible. And here I have a
     strong inclination to say a few words in vindication, both of
     myself and my friends; venturing even to comprehend you in the
     number. What new prepossession has seized you, to beat in so
     outrageous a manner your nurses of Mount Helicon, and to join
     the outcry of the ignorant multitude against science and
     literature? For my part, I can scarce acknowledge any other
     ground of distinction between one age and another, between one
     nation and another, than their different progress in learning
     and the arts. I do not say between one man and another,
     because the qualities of the heart and temper, and natural
     understanding, are the most essential to the personal
     character; but being, I suppose, almost equal among nations
     and ages, do not serve to throw a peculiar lustre on any. You
     blame France for its fond admiration of men of genius; and
     there may no doubt be, in particular instances, a great
     ridicule in these affectations; but the sentiment, in general,
     was equally conspicuous in ancient Greece; in Rome, during its
     flourishing period; in modern Italy; and even, perhaps, in
     England about the beginning of this century. If the case be
     now otherwise, it is what we are to lament and be ashamed of.
     Our enemies will only infer, that we are a nation which was
     once, at best, but half civilized; and is now relapsing fast
     into barbarism, ignorance, and superstition. I beg you also
     to consider the great difference, in point of morals, between
     uncultivated and civilized ages. But I find I am launching out
     insensibly into an immense ocean of commonplace. I cut the
     matter, therefore, short, by declaring it as my opinion, that
     if you had been born a barbarian, and had every day cooked
     your dinner of horse flesh, by riding on it fifty miles
     between your breech and the shoulder of your horse, you had
     certainly been an obliging, good-natured, friendly man; but,
     at the same time, that reading, conversation, and travel, have
     detracted nothing from these virtues, and have made a
     considerable addition of other valuable and agreeable
     qualities to them. I remain, not with ancient sincerity, which
     was only roguery and hypocrisy, but very sincerely, dear sir,

Rousseau did not resign his pension, and made it be very distinctly
known that he would insist upon his claims to be paid what had been
promised; but he would not owe it to the intervention of David Hume. He
continued to reside for several months at Wooton, where he made some
progress in his renowned "Confessions." "He is, I am sure," says Mr.
Davenport, in one of his letters, "busy writing; and it should be some
large affair, from the quantity of paper he bought." Like other mental
patients, when long separated from his favourite excitement, his mind
became attuned to less tumultuous movements; and he ceased, in some
measure, to feel the want of notoriety. The visions of conspiracy and
treachery gradually disappeared, and now we find him, in his letters,
only saying; "Je n'ai rien à dire de M. Hume, sinon que je le trouve
bien insultant pour un bon homme, et bien bruyant pour un philosophe."
He had a genuine love of nature and of rural pursuits; and he appears to
have varied his literary labours, by joining in some projects of Mr.
Davenport for the cultivation of forest lands.

Writing to Blair, on 14th February, 1767, Hume says:--

"General Conway told me, on my arrival, that Rousseau had made an
application to him, through the canal of Mr. Davenport, to have his
pension granted to him. The general's answer was, that I was to be in
town in a few days; and, without my consent, and even full approbation,
he would take no step in that affair. You may believe that I exhorted
him to do so charitable an action. I wish he may not find a difficulty
with the King, who is very much prejudiced against Rousseau.[365:1] This
step of my old friend confirms the suspicion which I always entertained,
that he thought he had interest enough to obtain the pension of himself;
and that he had only picked a quarrel with me in order to free himself
from the humiliating burden of gratitude towards me. His motives,
therefore, were much blacker than many seem to apprehend them.

"A gentleman told me that he heard, from the French ambassador, that his
most Christian Majesty had given an arrêt, prohibiting, under the
severest penalties, the printing, vending, or dispersing, any paper of
Rousseau, or his partisans, against me. I dine with the ambassador
to-day, so shall know the truth of the matter, which scarce appears
credible. It is surely very honourable for me; but yet will occasion
that strange man to complain, that he is oppressed with power all over
the world. I am,"[365:2] &c.

At length, on the 31st of April, 1767, Rousseau and Mademoiselle Le
Vasseur suddenly disappeared from Wooton together. Hume thus describes
the incident in a letter to Blair:--

"You may, perhaps, have heard that Rousseau has eloped from Mr.
Davenport, without giving any warning; leaving all his baggage, except
Mademoiselle, about thirty pounds in Davenport's hands, and a letter on
the table, abusing him in the most violent terms, insinuating that he
was in a conspiracy with me to ruin him.[366:1] He took the road to
London, but was missing for about a fortnight. At last he emerges at
Spalding in Lincolnshire, whence he writes a letter to the Chancellor,
informing him that the bad usage he had met with in England, made it
absolutely necessary for him to evacuate the kingdom, and desiring his
lordship to send him a guard to escort him to Dover--this being the last
act of hospitality he will desire of the nation. He is plainly mad,
though I believe not more than he has been all his life. The pamphlet
you mention was wrote by one as mad as himself, and it was believed at
first to be by Tristram Shandy, but proves to be [by] one Fuseli an
engraver. He is a fanatical admirer of Rousseau, but owns he was in the
wrong to me. The pamphlet I sent to you was wrote by an English
clergyman, whom I never saw; a man of character, and rising in the
church,[366:2] for which reason it is more prudent in me to conceal his
name. When would _you_ have done so much for me."[367:1]

As Rousseau did not favour the world in his "Confessions," with the
adventures he encountered during this flight, it is of some interest, in
the absence of a personal narrative, to mark the impression produced by
the incident on an onlooker, whom it seems to have filled with mingled
feelings of compassion and astonishment. The following are some extracts
from Mr. Davenport's letters to Hume:--


     _Davenport, 13th May, 1767._

     DEAR SIR,--After all my inquiries, I can't, for the life of
     me, find out to what part my wild philosopher is fled. I sent
     after him some papers, thinking they would most certainly find
     him in London. No such matter: he is not to be found there.
     They scarce took any thing along with them, but what they
     carried on their backs. All the trunks, &c. are at Wooton; and
     this odd man has just packed up his things, and left the keys
     dangling at the locks of his boxes. No sort of direction for
     me, though he knows I am in his debt between £30 and £40; and
     I want, of all things, to inform him what he has to do in
     relation to his majesty's bounty, which I am sure he will with
     great satisfaction receive, because I have it so positively
     under his own hand. You shall have the joy of perusing his
     letter; but one dated about six days before must be added to
     it. At present my gout is too much upon me to write copies of
     them. Pray, if you hear where he is, do me the pleasure to
     inform me. I am, &c. &c.

     P.S.--I protest I pity him more and more, as I certainly
     conclude that his head is not quite right.

     _Davenport, Monday 18th._

     I can't help giving you the trouble of this. Last night I
     received a most melancholy letter from poor Rousseau, dated
     Spalding in Lincolnshire. How, or on what account, he got to
     that place, I can't for the life of me guess; but this I
     learn, that he is most excessively sick of his situation, and
     is returning to Wooton, as soon as, I suppose, he can well get
     there. He has been all the time at an inn in that town. Pray,
     was the place you mentioned to me in that county, any where
     near Spalding? I own to you, I was quite moved to read his
     mournful epistle. I am quite confirmed in my opinion of him:
     this last from him, is entirely different in style, from any I
     ever yet received. I have in my answer, desired he would write
     to some friend of his in town, to authorize him to receive his
     majesty's bounty, as it becomes due. I have told him that his
     agent must apply, and show his letter to Mr. Lounds of the
     Treasury. Poor Rousseau writes of nothing but his misery,
     illness, afflictions; in a word, of his being the most
     unfortunate man that ever existed. Good God! most of those
     distresses are surely occasioned by his own unhappy temper,
     which I really believe is not in his power to alter! so, let
     him be where he will, I fear he is certain to be uneasy. His
     passion for Botany has, as I conjecture, almost left him. If I
     am right in my guess, I have no sort of doubt, but he will
     again take to his pen, as 'tis impossible for his imagination
     to remain idle. I am, &c.

     _Davenport, May 25, 1767._

     DEAR SIR,--'Tis with the greatest satisfaction I hear, this
     poor unfortunate man will enjoy the pension. I am sure he lies
     under a thousand obligations to you, and am extremely glad he
     has wrote to General Conway. I hope he made use of at least
     some expressions of gratitude and respect to that gentleman,
     whose goodness of heart obtained this favour from his majesty.

     I am sure you'll do your endeavour to save him from the
     Bastile, or (which I more fear) the Archbishop of Paris'

     He wrote me a letter from Spalding, dated 11th, in which he
     says, I have great reason to be offended at his manner of
     leaving Wooton. He says,--

     Je préférois la liberté, au séjour de votre maison; ce
     sentiment est bien excusable. Mais je préfère infiniment le
     séjour de votre maison à tout autre captivité, et je
     préférerois toute captivité à celle où je suis, qui est
     horrible, et qui, quoiqu'il arrive ne sauroit durer. Si vous
     voulez bien Monsieur me recevoir derechef chez vous, je suis
     prêt à m'y rendre au cas qu'on m'en laisse la liberté, et
     quand j'y serois après l'expérience qui j'ai faite,
     difficilement serois-je tenté d'en ressortir pour chercher de
     nouveaux malheurs. Si ma proposition vous agrée, tâchez,
     Monsieur de me le faire savoir par quelque voie sûre, et de
     faciliter mon retour d'ici chez vous.

     He repeats the same request of sending to him two or three
     times. This which he sent on the 11th, I received on the 17th.
     On the 18th I despatched a servant to Spalding: instead of
     staying for my answer, behold, on the 14th he set out for
     Dover, and on that morning wrote again by the post to me, in
     which he says, that if he had any assurance this letter of the
     11th would come to me, and that I would agree to his
     proposals, and again receive him, he should certainly stay for
     an answer; but as he despaired of my receiving his, so he was
     determined to pass the Channel, and I should hear from him
     when he reached Calais, and quite sure of his liberty; that he
     would write from thence and make me a very singular
     proposition. He professes the greatest regard for me, &c. The
     next is dated, Dover, 18th May, where he says, that he chose
     to write to me from that place; that seeing the sea, and
     finding he was in reality a free man, and might either go or
     stay,--then, says he, I stopped, and intended to return to
     you; but by chance seeing in a public paper how my departure
     from Wooton was treated, caused him immediately to renounce
     that idea. He finishes with many compliments, but without
     telling me where to write to him, and I long to know how to
     address my letters. Before he left Wooton, he disposed of
     several long gowns amongst the poor people, went off in an old
     French dress, and got a blue coat made for him at Spalding.
     Pray, can you inform me who he has authorized to receive his
     majesty's bounty; because I think I may pay into their hands
     the money I have of his in mine. I should be pleased if you
     could be so kind as to inform me what date his letter bore,
     which he wrote to the Lord Chancellor. I am, dear sir, &c.

     _4th July, 1767._

     This week I received a letter from Rousseau, dated, Fleury
     under Meudon, wrote with great complaisance; he returns a
     thousand thanks for all the civilities he received from me at
     Wooton; says that he is not fixed as to the place of his
     future residence, but that he will inform me as soon as he has
     made choice of one.

     The style of this is vastly different from some of the last of
     those which he wrote in England; no mention of captivities, no
     wild imaginations of any kind, but entirely calm and composed.
     I heartily wish he may continue so, then sure he will be
     somewhat happy. I am, &c.

     _6th July, 1767._

     The good woman who is called my housekeeper was my nurse, near
     ninety, and more than three parts blind. Mad{lle} and she
     never could agree. I have heard something of the story of the
     kettle and cinders,[370:1] but am inclinable to believe my
     philosopher's resolutions were determined before that fray
     happened. His governante has an absolute power over him, and
     without doubt more or less influences all his actions. You
     certainly guess right about the unaccountable quarrel with
     you, to whom he has so many and great obligations: nay, I am
     almost sure he very heartily repents and inwardly wants to be
     reconciled. He has desired to hear from me often, and promises
     to let me know how he goes on, as soon as ever he is the least
     fixed. What he was writing, is the same he mentioned to you,
     will be a large work, containing at least twelve volumes. I
     am positively certain that when I left him, he had not
     entirely finished one. There's nothing in it which in any
     shape relates to state affairs or to ministers of state.

     You shall see his letter the first opportunity; but, God help
     him! I can't, for pity, give a copy; and 'tis so much mixed
     with his own poor little private concerns, that it would not
     be right in me to do it. . . . I am, dear sir, &c.[371:1]

In the following letters, Hume narrates these events to his Northern
friends, having been so frequently desired to give explanations of the
rumours regarding Rousseau's escapades which occasionally reached
Scotland, that he found it most expedient to answer miscellaneous
inquiries by general chronological narratives.


"_27th May, 1767._

"Since you are curious to hear Rousseau's story, I shall tell you the
sequel of it. A few days after his letter to the Chancellor, of which I
informed you, I got a letter from Davenport, who told me that he had
just received a letter from Rousseau, dated at Spalding, wherein that
wild philosopher, as he calls him, appeared very penitent, and contrite,
and melancholy; and expressed his purpose of returning immediately to
his former retreat at Wooton. The same day, and nearly the same hour,
General Conway received a long letter from him, dated at Dover, about
two hundred miles distant from Spalding. This great journey he had made
in two days; and had probably set out immediately after writing the
letter above-mentioned to Davenport.[372:1] This letter to General
Conway is the most frenzical imaginable. He there supposes that he was
brought into England by a plot of mine, in order to reduce him to
infamy, derision, and captivity. That General Conway, and all the most
considerable personages of the nation, and the nation itself, had
entered into this conspiracy. That he is at present actually a state
prisoner in General Conway's hands, and has been so ever since his
arrival in the kingdom. He entreats him, however, to allow him the
liberty of departing; warns him that it will not be safe to assassinate
him in private; as he is unhappily too well known not to have inquiries
made, if he should disappear on a sudden; and promises that if his
request be granted, his memoirs shall never be printed to disgrace the
English ministry and the English nation.

"He owns that he has wrote such memoirs, the chief object of which was
to deliver a faithful account of the treatment he has met with in
England; but he promises, that the moment he sets foot on the French
shore, he shall write to the friend in whose hand the manuscript is
deposited, to deliver it to the General, who may destroy it if he
pleases. He adds, that as it may be objected, that after recovering his
liberty he may do as he pleases, he offers, as a pledge of his
sincerity, to accept of his pension; after which he thinks no one will
imagine he could be so infamous as to write against the king's ministers
or his people. Amidst all this frenzy, he employs these terms as if a
ray of reason had for a moment broke into his mind. He says, speaking
of himself in the third person, 'Non-seulement il abandonne pour
toujours le projet d'écrire sa vie et ses mémoires, mais il ne lui
échappera jamais, ni de bouche ni par écrit, un seul mot de plainte sur
les malheurs qui lui sont arrivés en Angleterre; il ne parlera jamais de
M. Hume, ou il n'en parlera qu'avec honneur, et lorsqu'il sera pressé de
s'expliquer sur quelques indiscrètes plaintes, qui lui sont quelquefois
échappées dans le fort de ses peines, il les rejettera sans mystère, sur
son humeur aigrie et portée à la défiance, et aux ombrages par ce
malheureux penchant, ouvrage de ses malheurs, et qui maintenant y met le

"We hear that notwithstanding his imagined captivity, he has passed over
to Calais; where he is likely to experience what real captivity is. I
have, however, used my persuasion with Mons{r} de Guerchi to represent
him to his court as a real madman, more an object of compassion than of
anger. We shall no doubt see his Memoirs in a little time: which will be
full of eloquence and extravagance, though perhaps as reasonable as any
of his past productions; for I do not imagine he was ever much more in
his senses than at present. I think I may be entirely without anxiety
concerning all his future productions."[374:1]

The following letters to Smith appear to have been intended as a
comprehensive history of the flight of Rousseau. The reader will readily
excuse the repetition of some incidents already mentioned, and may
perhaps find an interest in comparing the impressions produced by the
events as they were successively occurring, with this general retrospect
of the whole.


"_London, 8th October, 1767._

"DEAR SMITH,--I shall give you an account of the late heteroclite
exploits of Rousseau, as far as I can recollect them. There is no need
of any secrecy: they are most of them pretty public, and are well known
to every body that had curiosity to observe the actions of that strange,
undefinable existence, whom one would be apt to imagine an imaginary
being, though surely not an _ens rationis_.

"I believe you know, that in spring last, Rousseau applied to General
Conway to have his pension. The General answered to Mr. Davenport, who
carried the application, that I was expected to town in a few days; and
without my consent and approbation he would take no steps in that
affair. You may believe I readily gave my consent. I also solicited the
affair, through the Treasury; and the whole being finished, I wrote to
Mr. Davenport, and desired him to inform his guest, that he needed only
appoint any person to receive payment. Mr. Davenport answered me, that
it was out of his power to execute my commission: for that his wild
philosopher, as he called him, had eloped of a sudden, leaving a great
part of his baggage behind him, some money in Davenport's hands, and a
letter on the table, as odd, he says, as the one he wrote to me, and
implying that Mr. Davenport was engaged with me in a treacherous
conspiracy against him! He was not heard of for a fortnight, till the
Chancellor received a letter from him, dated at Spalding in
Lincolnshire; in which he said that he had been seduced into this
country by a promise of hospitality; that he had met with the worst
usage; that he was in danger of his life from the plots of his enemies;
and that he applied to the Chancellor, as the first civil magistrate of
the kingdom, desiring him to appoint a guard at his own (Rousseau's)
expense, who might safely conduct him out of the kingdom. The Chancellor
made his secretary reply to him, that he was mistaken in the nature of
the country; for that the first post-boy he could apply to, was as safe
a guide as the Chancellor could appoint. At the very same time that
Rousseau wrote this letter to the Chancellor, he wrote to Davenport,
that he had eloped from him, actuated by a very natural desire, that of
recovering his liberty; but finding he must still be in captivity, he
preferred that at Wooton: for his captivity at Spalding was intolerable
beyond all human patience, and he was at present the most wretched being
on the face of the globe: he would therefore return to Wooton, if he
were assured that Davenport would receive him.

"Here I must tell you, that the parson of Spalding was about two months
ago in London, and told Mr. Fitzherbert, from whom I had it, that he had
passed several hours every day with Rousseau, while he was in that
place; that he was cheerful, good-humoured, easy, and enjoyed himself
perfectly well, without the least fear or complaint of any kind. However
this may be, our hero, without waiting for any answer, either from the
Chancellor or Mr. Davenport, decamps on a sudden from Spalding, and
takes the road directly to Dover; whence he writes a letter to General
Conway, seven pages long, and full of the wildest extravagance in the
world. He says, that he had endured a captivity in England, which it was
impossible any longer to submit to. It was strange, that the greatest in
the nation, and the whole nation itself, should have been seduced by one
private man, to serve his vengeance against another private man: he
found in every face that he was here the object of general derision and
aversion, and he was therefore infinitely desirous to remove from this
country. He therefore begs the General to restore him to his liberty,
and allow him to leave England; he warns him of the danger there may be
of cutting his throat in private; as he is unhappily a man too well
known, not to have inquiries made after him, should he disappear of a
sudden: he promises, on condition of his being permitted to depart the
kingdom, to speak no ill of the king or country, or ministers, or even
of Mr. Hume; as indeed, says he, I have perhaps no reason; my jealousy
of him having probably arisen from my own suspicious temper, soured by
misfortunes. He says, that he wrote a volume of Memoirs, chiefly
regarding the treatment he has met with in England; he has left it in
safe hands, and will order it to be burned, in case he be permitted to
go beyond seas, and nothing shall remain to the dishonour of the king
and his ministers.

"This letter is very well wrote, so far as regards the style and
composition; and the author is so vain of it, that he has given about
copies, as of a rare production. It is indeed, as General Conway says,
the composition of a whimsical man, not of a madman. But what is more
remarkable, the very same post, he wrote to Davenport, that, having
arrived within sight of the sea, and finding he was really at liberty to
go or stay, as he pleased, he had intended voluntarily to return to him;
but seeing in a newspaper an account of his departure from Wooton, and
concluding his offences were too great to be forgiven, he was resolved
to depart for France. Accordingly, without any farther preparation, and
without waiting General Conway's answer, he took his passage in a packet
boat, and went off that very evening. Thus, you see, he is a composition
of whim, affectation, wickedness, vanity, and inquietude, with a very
small if any ingredient of madness. He is always complaining of his
health; yet I have scarce ever seen a more robust little man of his
years. He was tired in England; where he was neither persecuted nor
caressed, and where, he was sensible, he had exposed himself. He
resolved, therefore, to leave it; and having no pretence, he is obliged
to contrive all those absurdities, which he himself, extravagant as he
is, gives no credit to. At least, this is the only key I can devise to
his character. The ruling qualities above-mentioned, together with
ingratitude, ferocity, and lying,--I need not mention eloquence and
invention,--form the whole of the composition.

"When he arrived at Paris, all my friends, who were likewise all his,
agreed totally to neglect him. The public, too, disgusted with his
multiplied and indeed criminal extravagancies, showed no manner of
concern about him. Never was such a fall from the time I took him up,
about a year and a half before. I am told by D'Alembert and Horace
Walpole, that, sensible of this great alteration, he endeavoured to
regain his credit by acknowledging to every body his fault with regard
to me: but all in vain: he has retired to a village in the mountains of
Auvergne, as M. Durand tells me, where nobody inquires after him. He
will probably endeavour to recover his fame by new publications; and I
expect with some curiosity the reading of his Memoirs, which will I
suppose suffice to justify me in every body's eyes, and in my own, for
the publication of his letters and my narrative of the case. You will
see by the papers, that a new letter of his to M. D., which I imagine to
be Davenport, is published. This letter was probably wrote immediately
on his arrival at Paris; or perhaps is an effect of his usual
inconsistence: I do not much concern myself which. Thus he has had the
satisfaction, during a time, of being much talked of, for his late
transactions; the thing in the world he most desires: but it has been at
the expense of being consigned to perpetual neglect and oblivion. My
compliments to Mr. Oswald; and also to Mrs. Smith. I am," &c.[378:1]


"_London, 17th October, 1767._

"DEAR SMITH,--I sit down to correct a mistake or two in the former
account which I gave you of Rousseau. I saw Davenport a few days ago,
who tells me, that the letter inserted in all the newspapers, was never
addressed to him. He even doubts its being genuine; both because he
knows it to be opposite to all his sentiments with regard to me, to whom
he desires earnestly to be reconciled, and because it is too absurd and
extravagant, and seems to be contrived rather as a banter upon him.
Davenport added, that Rousseau was retired to some place in France, and
had changed his name and his dress:[379:1] but wrote to him that he was
the most miserable of all beings; that it was impossible for him to stay
where he was; and that he would return to his old hermitage, if
Davenport would accept of him. Indeed, he has some reason to be
mortified with his reception in France; for Horace Walpole, who has very
lately returned thence, tells me, that though Rousseau is settled at
Cliché, within a league of Paris, nobody inquires after him, nobody
visits him, nobody talks of him, every one has agreed to neglect and
disregard him: a more sudden revolution of fortune than almost ever
happened to any man--at least to any man of letters.

"I asked Mr. Davenport about those Memoirs, which Rousseau said he was
writing, and whether he had ever seen them. He said, yes, he had; it was
projected to be a work in twelve volumes; but he had as yet gone no
farther than the first volume, which he had entirely composed at Wooton.
It was charmingly wrote, and concluded with a very particular and
interesting account of his first love, the object of which was a person
whose first love it also was. Davenport, who is no bad judge, says, that
these Memoirs will be the most taking of all his works; and, indeed, you
may easily imagine what such a pen would make of such a subject as that
I mentioned. Meanwhile it appears clearly, what I told you before, that
he is no more mad at present, than he has been during the whole course
of his life, and that he is capable of the same efforts of genius. I
think I may wait in security his account of the transactions between us.
But, however, this incident, which I foresaw, is some justification of
me for publishing his letters, and may apologise for a step, which you,
and even myself, have been inclined sometimes to blame, and always to

So ended Rousseau's wild sojourn, in what he termed "l'heureuse terre,
où sont nés David Hume et le Maréchal d'Ecosse." When the wounds
inflicted on his benefactor by ungrateful actions and uncharitable
interpretations had been healed by time, and the conduct of him who had
occasioned them was seen no longer through the excited medium of
lacerated feelings, the hour had come for the just understanding to aid
the kind heart, in estimating the character of the assailant; for
finding that, deep as were the wounds he might inflict on others, there
was an arrow still more deeply buried in his own bosom; that
commiseration should take the place of resentment; and that the
wanderer's footsteps should be accompanied by the prayer, that peace
might revisit his disturbed spirit. Hume felt, perhaps, what he could
not have expressed so well as one whose mind had too much in common with
that which he describes,

     His life was one long war with self-sought foes;
       Or friends by him self-banished; for his mind
     Had grown Suspicion's sanctuary, and chose,
       For its own cruel sacrifice, the kind,
       'Gainst whom he raged with fury strange and blind.
     But he was frenzied,--wherefore, who may know?
       Since cause might be which skill could never find;
     But he was frenzied by disease or woe,
       To that worst pitch of all, which wears a reasoning show.

Hume was not a man given to the clamorous expression of contritions or
regrets. It is in his silence and his subsequent acts that we find him
desirous to compensate for the punishment he had inflicted on his
assailant. The letters of his French friends, during the summer of 1767,
show that he had earnestly exerted himself to protect Rousseau from the
vengeance of the government;[381:1] and there is all reason to believe,
that it was through this intervention that the wanderer was permitted to
pursue his course in peace. On the other hand, when the dark cloud had
completely passed away, the monomaniac appears to have awakened to a
distressing consciousness of what he had done. He afterwards attributed
his conduct in England to our foggy atmosphere, which had filled his
mind with gloom and discontent; and the work at which he laboured busily
with the fierce excitement of him who forges a weapon to avenge his
wrongs, stopped short at the very point where his narrative of injuries
was to commence.


[319:1] It might be expected, from the nature of Mr. Davenport's
letters, that his descendants should be in possession of letters, either
by Hume or Rousseau bearing on this curious passage of literary history.
I believe I am committing no breach of private confidence in saying,
that this family, to whom I am indebted for many polite attentions, lost
all such documents, along with other valuable papers. They were
destroyed by an attorney,--who at the same time put an end to his own

[320:1] This letter was written in French; and the person to whom it was
addressed is not known. It was published in a miscellany, of which a
translation (from which the above extract is made) appeared in 1799, as
"Original Letters of J. J. Rousseau, Butta Fuoco, and David Hume."

[320:2] Private Correspondence, p. 153.

[320:3] Exposé Succinct.

[320:4] See above, p. 304. One of Rousseau's favourite amusements was,
drawing a vehement picture of his misfortunes and his poverty; and after
having thus laid a sort of trap, catching some benevolent person in the
act of secretly attempting to aid him. Many of his letters are like
those of a petty dealer, who is afraid of being imposed on, and must see
that all the consignments are exact, as per invoice and account. The
matter of the return chaise already alluded to, slightly tinges the good
humour of the former of these letters. In the other, there are some
remonstrances about a model of a bust of himself, which he will not take
from the artist unless it is to be paid for. The same letter contains
the following passage, which the editors of the "Exposé Succinct" did
not think it necessary to print. It illustrates Rousseau's occasional
attention to small matters.

"Je vous suis obligé d'avoir bien voulu solder le mémoire de M. Stuart.
J'y trouve deux articles qui ne sont pas de ma connoissance. L'un de £1
14 pour du café, et l'autre de 5 sh. pour un moulin. Il est vrai que M.
Stuart avoit bien voulu se charger de ces commissions, mais je ne les ai
point recues ni avec mon bagage ni autrement, et n'en ai aucun avis que
par son mémoire."

[321:1] Though it has been repeated in so many other places, it seems
necessary, for the distinctness of the narrative, here to print this
famous letter.

     "Mon cher Jean Jacques,

     "Vous avez renoncé à Genève, votre patrie. Vous vous êtes fait
     chasser de la Suisse, pays tant vanté dans vos écrits; la
     France vous a décrété; venez donc chez moi. J'admire vos
     talens; je m'amuse de vos rêveries qui (soit dit en passant)
     vous occupent trop et trop longtemps. Il faut à la fin être
     sage & heureux; vous avez fait assez parler de vous, par des
     singularités peu convenables à un véritable grand homme:
     démontrez à vos enemis que vous pouvez avoir quelquefois le
     sens commun: cela les fâchera sans vous faire tort. Mes états
     vous offrent une retraite paisible: je vous veux du bien, & je
     vous en ferai, si vous le trouvez bon. Mais si vous vous
     obstinez à rejetter mon secours, attendez-vous que je ne le
     dirai à personne. Si vous persistez à vous creuser l'esprit
     pour trouver de nouveaux malheurs, choisissez-les tels que
     vous voudrez; je suis roi, je puis vous en procurer au gré de
     vos souhaits; et, ce qui sûrement ne vous arrivera pas
     vis-à-vis de vos ennemis, je cesserai de vous persécuter,
     quand vous cesserez de mettre votre gloire à l'être. Votre bon


Rousseau thought it worse than strange, that the person who wrote this
letter should have been intrusted with the conveyance of a parcel to
him, holding it to be clear that Walpole must necessarily be a person
who could not be intrusted with his property. M. Musset Pathay, in his
"Vie de Rousseau," makes a serious charge against Hume, in connexion
with Walpole's conduct. Hume confessed his being present when one of the
pleasantries of the letter was uttered in conversation. "Horace
Walpole's letter," he says to Madame de Barbantane, "was not founded on
any pleasantry of mine. The only pleasantry in that letter came from his
own mouth in my company, at Lord Ossory's table, which my lord remembers
very well." (_Private Correspondence_, p. 146.) On this passage, M.
Musset says: "Elle prouve que l'historien Anglais s'est permis une
plaisanterie contre Jean Jacques, au moment même ou, lui témoignant le
plus grand intérêt, il se préparait à l'emmener en Angleterre. Ainsi, à
l'époque où David donnait à Rousseau les plus grandes marques d'amitié,
il contribuait d'un côté à le rendre un objet de ridicule, par un bon
mot qui fit partie du persiflage d'Horace Walpole," (i. 115.) If the
reader thinks he here finds a French statesman announcing the rigid
doctrine of sincerity, that no man should patiently hear his friend's
foibles laughed at, he will find, on examining the passage, that M.
Musset has chosen to speak of Hume as the _author_ of the jest. In
harmony with this view he, innocently it is to be presumed, translates
the above sentence in Hume's letter thus:--"La seule plaisanterie que je
me sois permise relativement à la prétendue lettre du roi de Prusse, fut
faite _par moi_ à la table de Lord Ossory!"

[323:1] Private Correspondence, p. 133.

[323:2] Madame de Boufflers writes on 6th May:--

"Je ne puis croire que le violent chagrin dont parle J. J. vienne de la
lettre de M. Walpole, quoique sûrement elle l'a du beaucoup affecter. Je
crains bien plutôt que quelque dégoût de M{elle.} Le Vasseur ou quelques
querelles entre eux n'en soit la cause; éclaircissez cela de grâce, et
ôtez moi du l'inquiétude où vous m'avez prise."--MS. R.S.E.

[324:1] That Hume was, in the meantime, quite unconscious of any cause
of offence against himself, is evident from his writing to Madame de
Boufflers, on 16th May:

"As to the deep calamity of which he complains, it is impossible for me
to imagine it. I suppose it is some trifle, aggravated by his melancholy
temper and lively fancy. I shall endeavour to learn from Mr. Davenport,
who is just gone to that neighbourhood. Lady Aylesbury and General
Conway believe that it is Horace Walpole's letter which still torments
him. That letter was put into our newspapers; which produced an answer,
full of passion, and indeed of extravagance, complaining in the most
tragical terms of the forgery, and lamenting that the impostor should
find any abettors and partisans in England. Mr. Walpole has wrote a
reply, full of vivacity and wit, but sacrifices it to his humanity, and
is resolved that no copy of it shall get abroad. He assures me that he,
as well as Madame du Deffand, were entirely innocent of that publication
at Paris: it was a lady, a friend of yours, who gave the first copy."
_Private Correspondence_, pp. 170-171.

[325:1] MS. R.S.E.

[325:2] Musset Pathay, Vie de Rousseau, vol. i. p. 116. This gentleman
concludes that, within the space of twenty-four hours, Rousseau must
have had reason to change from the extremity of confidence in Hume, to a
full conviction of his guilt. But with all his desire to vindicate
Rousseau, his account of the manner in which this conclusion had been
reached, does not tend to convince one that it was well founded.

     "Mais, d'après l'étude du caractère de Rousseau, d'après
     l'observation qui prouve que, dans la solitude, l'imagination
     s'effarouche aisément, il est plus naturel de croire que,
     tout-à-coup, une multitude de circonstances s'offrirent à la
     fois à la mémoire de Jean Jacques, et, quoique minutieuses en
     elles mêmes, qu'elles devinrent, par leur nombre, et leur
     coïncidence, importantes et graves. Il ne fallait qu'un
     incident pour les rendre telles, comme une goutte suffit pour
     faire déborder un vase plein d'eau."

[326:1] Printed documents of the controversy--Ritchie's Life of Hume.

[328:1] Documents of the controversy, &c.

[329:1] There is certainly one important exception to this method of
viewing the matter, and that in a book otherwise of merit. One would
hardly expect to meet with a work of the nineteenth century, containing
a serious vindication of Rousseau, as a sane man who was in the right in
this quarrel, while Hume was in the wrong. Yet some such task has been
undertaken in the "Histoire de la Vie et des Ouvrages de J. J.
Rousseau," by the late M. Musset Pathay, (1821,) which may be ranked
among the boldest efforts of that school of biographers, whose principle
is, that the hero of their tale must not be admitted to have had any
vice or weakness. M. Musset's charges against Hume are much of the same
mystical character with those made by Rousseau himself, and amount to
this, that there was something in the whole aspect of affairs not quite
satisfactory. He deals with some small matters of fact,--he is very
indignant that Hume should, as he confesses, have tried to prevent
Rousseau from plunging into a distant solitude; and we have already seen
the effect which his zeal has had on his discrimination, in the affair
of Walpole's letter. He makes one discovery, of which it would be unjust
to deny him the full merit. Hume says, in his Vindication, "It is with
reluctance I say it, but I am compelled to it. I now know of a
certainty, that this affectation of extreme poverty and distress was a
mere pretence, a petty kind of imposture, which M. Rousseau successfully
employed to excite the compassion of the public: but I was then very far
from suspecting any such artifice." In a letter to Madame de Boufflers,
he says, "I should be glad to know how your inquiries at M. Rougemont's
have turned out. It is only matter of mere curiosity: for even if the
fact should prove against him, which is very improbable, I should only
regard it as one weakness more, and do not make my good opinion of him
to depend on a single incident." (_Private Correspondence_, p. 130.) Now
Rougemont was a banker, and M. Musset infers that Hume had been making
inquiries as to Rousseau's pecuniary affairs. Perhaps, when he found a
man proclaiming his destitution to all Europe, and flinging back, in the
faces of the givers, the assistance his importunities extracted from the
compassionate, it was not a very great crime to endeavour to ascertain
the truth of any rumour, that the misery was not so extreme as the
sufferer painted it, and the necessity for their intervention not so
great as the compassionate believed it to be. There is one letter from
M. Rougemont among the MSS. R.S.E. dated 5th March, 1766. If it does not
contradict, it certainly does not confirm the theory of M. Musset. It is
too long and commonplace to be here inserted in full. There is not a
word in it about money matters; and it appears to be written in answer
to some high praise of Rousseau by Hume. The banker says:

"L'opinion que vous avez de M. Rousseau ne me laisse plus aucun doute:
et c'est avec la plus grande satisfaction que je vois que mon
enthusiasme ne m'a point aveuglée; les détails que vous me faites, me
persuadent encore plus de la vérité d'une observation que vous avez
faite un soir; c'est, qu'il n'est qu'un homme ordinaire quand son coeur
ne sent rien." MS. R.S.E.

One might indeed infer, that Hume's inquiries were to discover whether
the solitude of Wooton would be likely to be favourable to Rousseau. M.
Rougemont thinks it would not. "La solitude," he says, "qui peut cesser
quand on veut, peut avoir des charmes; mais je ne puis croire qu'il ne
soit pas fort malheureux d'être nécessairement privé de toute société."
The rest of his letter is devoted to Parisian literary gossip, with
which the banker appears to have been ambitious of showing his

It is not when reviewing the conduct of Hume, but when recalling such
observations as those made by Dr. Johnson on Rousseau, that one is
tempted to sympathize with M. Musset. Of the rigid moralist's opinions,
Boswell gives us the following sketch:

"One evening, at the Mitre, Johnson said sarcastically to me, 'It seems,
sir, you have kept very good company abroad: Rousseau and Wilkes!' I
answered, with a smile, 'My dear sir, you don't call Rousseau bad
company: do you really think _him_ a bad man?' Johnson. 'Sir, if you are
talking jestingly of this, I don't talk with you. If you mean to be
serious, I think him one of the worst of men; a rascal who ought to be
hunted out of society as he has been. Three or four nations have
expelled him; and it is a shame that he is protected in this country.
Rousseau, sir, is a very bad man. I would sooner sign a sentence for his
transportation, than that of any felon who has gone from the Old Bailey
these many years. Yes, I should like to have him work in the
plantations.'"--Boswell, vol. ii. p. 314, ed. 1835.

[331:1] A scientific gentleman, whose writings on medical jurisprudence
are of high authority, and who had read the Hume and Rousseau
controversy, observed to me, that Rousseau's case should have been
treated as one of monomania.

[332:1] Whoever would notice the practical sagacity of Rousseau's
genius, may compare the early part of "Émile," with "Combe on the
Management of Infancy," and observe in how many things the theorist and
the scientific inquirer coincide.

[333:1] "We have had," says Burke, in his Reflections on the French
Revolution, "the great professor and founder of the philosophy of vanity
in England. As I had good opportunities of knowing his proceedings,
almost from day to day, he left no doubt on my mind that he entertained
no principle, either to influence his heart or guide his understanding,
but vanity: with this vice he was possessed to a degree little short of

[333:2] D'Alembert writes to Hume, on 4th August:

"Il y a dans la drôle de lettre de _ce joli petit homme_, comme vous
l'appelliez autrefois, une phrase sacramentelle ou sacramentale, à
laquelle vous n'avez peut-être pas fait autant d'attention qu'elle le
mérite; c'est que _le public, qui d'abord avoit eté fort amoureux de
lui, commença bientôt après à le négliger_. Voilà ce qui le fâche
véritablement, et il s'en prend à qui il peut. Vous vous êtes chargé de
montrer l'ours à la foire; sa loge qui d'abord etoit pleine, est bientôt
restée vuide, et il vous en rend responsable. Il est d'ailleurs três
certain, et je le sçais de Duclos son ami, à qui il l'a dit, ainsi qu'à
bien d'autres, qu'il _ne peut pas souffrir toutes les personnes à qui il
a obligation_: et sur ce pied là, vous avez bien des droits à sa haine."
MS. R.S.E.

[334:1] During his sojourn in England, he was in dread of being
kidnapped. The late Professor Walker remembered being asked by Lord Bute
to accompany Rousseau on a botanizing excursion on the banks of the
Thames, and that he was just explaining something about marine plants
being acrid, when a Cockney pic-nic party of youths, dressed as sailors,
landed. Rousseau instantly took to his heels! The professor being
responsible for his safe restoration, followed, and, after a
considerable chase, succeeded in running him down. Rousseau, seeing that
there were no other pursuers, passed the matter off by the observation
that marine _men_ were acrid. After his return from England, an account
for nine francs, which it appears he was not due, was presented against
him by a tradesman. He called on all Europe to witness this conspiracy
to destroy his character, and raised such an outcry as must have
effectually frightened sober tradesmen from overcharging interesting

[335:1] Even his trusted friend, Du Peyrou, writing to Hume on 13th
February, after many eulogiums on his kindness to the unfortunate,

"C'est sous votre couvert qu' M. Rousseau m'a marqué, Monsieur, que je
devois lui écrire: voudriez vous donc avoir la complaisance de lui faire
parvenir l'incluse à son adresse." MS. R.S.E.

[337:1] MS. R.S.E.

[337:2] He was a cordial hater of all uncandidness in others, whatever
he might be in his own case. Morellet tells a laughable anecdote of
Rousseau's presence on an occasion when some of the wicked wits of Paris
were what is commonly called "trotting out" a vain poet, and making him
say ridiculous things of his own genius. Rousseau, after walking
restlessly about the room, burst into a rage, told the poet that he was
a poor paltry idiot, and the company were only encouraging him to make
game of him.

[338:1] An incident had just happened to make the name of the "quack
Tronchin," peculiarly offensive. This distinguished physician had
received public honours at Parma. After strenuous popular opposition, he
had been permitted to practise the new precautionary remedy of
inoculation on the young prince Ferdinand. The experiment had been
successful; all Parma, excited by loyal joy, petitioned the Grand-duke
to admit the physician to the rank of citizen. A tablet, commemorating
the triumph of science, was erected in the town hall, and a medal with
suitable devices was struck in honour of the operator. He was a relation
of Tronchin the Procureur Général of Geneva, author of _Lettres écrites
de la Campagne_, which Rousseau answered in _Lettres de la Montagne_.
See him mentioned above, p. 186.

[339:1] Morellet questions if he _could_ have done so, i. 106.

[340:1] The following jeu-d'esprit, which was printed in some of the
periodicals of the day, is really a pretty accurate abridgment of
Rousseau's paper. It has the appearance of having been written by a
Scottish lawyer:--

_Heads of an Indictment laid by J. J. Rousseau, philosopher, against D.
Hume, Esq._

     1. That the said David Hume, to the great scandal of
     philosophy, and not having the fitness of things before his
     eyes, did concert a plan with Mess. Tronchin, Voltaire, and
     D'Alembert, to ruin the said J. J. Rousseau for ever, by
     bringing him over to England, and there settling him to his
     heart's content.

     2. That the said David Hume did, with a malicious and
     traitorous intent, procure, or cause to be procured, by
     himself, or somebody else, one pension of the yearly value of
     £100 or thereabouts, to be paid to the said J. J. Rousseau, on
     account of his being a philosopher, either privately or
     publicly, as to him the said J. J. Rousseau should seem meet.

     3. That the said David Hume did, one night after he left
     Paris, put the said J. J. Rousseau in bodily fear, by talking
     in his sleep; although the said J. J. Rousseau doth not know
     whether the said David Hume was really asleep, or whether he
     shammed Abraham, or what he meant.

     4. That, at another time, as the said David Hume and the said
     J. J. Rousseau were sitting opposite each other by the
     fireside in London, he, the said David Hume, did look at him,
     the said J. J. Rousseau, in a manner of which it is difficult
     to give any idea: That he, the said J. J. Rousseau, to get rid
     of the embarrassment he was under, endeavoured to look full at
     him, the said David Hume, in return, to try if he could not
     stare him out of countenance; but in fixing his eyes against
     his, the said David Hume's, he felt the most inexpressible
     terror, and was obliged to turn them away, insomuch that the
     said J. J. Rousseau doth in his heart think and believe, as
     much as he believes any thing, that he, the said David Hume,
     is a certain composition of a white-witch and a rattlesnake.

     5. That the said David Hume on the same evening, after
     politely returning the embraces of him, the said J. J.
     Rousseau, and gently tapping him on the back, did repeat
     several times, in a good-natured easy tone, the words, "Why,
     what, my dear sir! Nay, my dear sir! Oh, my dear sir!" From
     whence the said J. J. Rousseau doth conclude, as he thinks
     upon solid and sufficient grounds, that he the said David Hume
     is a traitor; albeit he, the said J. J. Rousseau, doth
     acknowledge, that the physiognomy of the good David is that of
     an honest man, all but those terrible eyes of his, which he
     must have borrowed; but he the said J. J. Rousseau vows to God
     he cannot conceive from whom or what.

     6. That the said David Hume hath more inquisitiveness about
     him than becometh a philosopher, and did never let slip an
     opportunity of being alone with the governante of him the said
     J. J. Rousseau.

     7. That the said David Hume did most atrociously and
     flagitiously put him, the said J. J. Rousseau, philosopher,
     into a passion; as knowing that then he would be guilty of a
     number of absurdities.

     8. That the said David Hume must have published Mr. Walpole's
     letter in the newspapers, because, at that time, there was
     neither man, woman, nor child, in the island of Great Britain,
     but the said David Hume, the said J. J. Rousseau, and the
     printers of the several newspapers aforesaid.

     9. That somebody in a certain magazine, and somebody else in a
     certain newspaper, said something against him, the said John
     James Rousseau, which he, the said J. J. Rousseau, is
     persuaded, for the reason abovementioned, could be nobody but
     the said David Hume.

     10. That the said J. J. Rousseau knows, that he, the said
     David Hume, did open and peruse the letters of him, the said
     J. J. Rousseau, because he one day saw the said David Hume go
     out of the room, after his own servant, who had, at that time,
     a letter of the said J. J. Rousseau's in his hands; which
     _must_ have been in order to take it from the servant, open
     it, and read the contents.

     11. That the said David Hume did, at the instigation of the
     devil, in a most wicked and unnatural manner, send, or cause
     to be sent, to the lodgings of him, the said J. J. Rousseau,
     one dish of beefsteaks, thereby meaning to insinuate, that he,
     the said J. J. Rousseau, was a beggar, and came over to
     England to ask alms: whereas be it known to all men by these
     presents, that he, the said John James Rousseau, brought with
     him the means of subsistence, and did not come with an empty
     purse; as he doubts not but he can live upon his labours--with
     the assistance of his friends; and in short can do better
     without the said David Hume than with him.

     12. That besides all these facts put together, the said J. J.
     Rousseau did not like a certain appearance of things on the

[343:1] "That of the 22d of March, which is full of cordiality, and
proves that M. Rousseau had never, to that moment, entertained any of
those black suspicions of perfidy which he publishes at present. There
is only in that letter a peevish passage about the affair of his

[344:1] Documents of the controversy.

[344:2] Such was his first impulse. He evidently, after viewing the
matter more coolly, was disinclined to publish, but he was finally
prevailed on to do so.

[345:1] MS. R.S.E.

[346:1] MS. R.S.E.

[346:2] Morellet, i. 105.

[346:3] Priv. Cor. 204.

[348:1] Voltaire et Rousseau par Henry Lord Brougham, App. No. IX. Lord
Brougham twice honoured me with an intimation that he had obtained
letters of David Hume, in Paris, which were too late for his own "Lives
of Men of Letters," and were to be sent to _me_. While thankfully
waiting for their arrival, I observed, on the title page of his
lordship's French lives of Voltaire and Rousseau, that the book
contained "Léttres entièrement inédites de _Hume_." Thinking it not
impossible that the letters destined for my use, had thus, by some
accident, been diverted from their destination, I have printed them in
this book, according to their dates, in the fullest assurance of his
lordship's cordial concurrence.

[349:1] MS. R.S.E.

[350:1] D'Holbach.

[351:1] MS. R.S.E.


"_A Paris, le 7 Septembre, 1766._

"J'ai trouvé ici, monsieur, votre lettre de 5 Août, à mon retour d'un
voyage que j'ai été faire en Normandie. D'Alembert, qui venoit alors de
recevoir votre récit de l'Histoire de Rousseau avec les lettres que vous
y avez insérées, me l'a communiqué. Je vous crois à présent si ennuyé de
cette affaire que je ne sais si je dois encore vous en parler. M. De
Montigni m'a cependant dit que vous désiriez de savoir ma façon de
penser. Vous imaginez bien qu'elle ne peut pas être douteuse sur le fond
de l'affaire, et je crois qu'excepté Rousseau, et peut-être M{lle.} Le
Vasseur, il n'y a personne dans le monde qui s'imagine, ni qui eut
jamais imaginé, que vous ayez mené Rousseau en Angleterre pour le
trahir, et à qui sa longue lettre et ses démonstrations ne fassent
pitié. Mais je vous avoue que j'y vois toujours plus de folie que de
noirceur. J'y vois des sophismes dont une imagination se sert pour
empoisonner les circonstances les plus simples et les transformer au gré
de la manie qui l'occupe. Mais je ne crois point que ces extravagances
soient un jeu joué, et un prétexte pour secouer le poids de la
reconnoissance qu'il vous doit. Il paroît sentir lui même que personne
ne le croira, et qu'il se couvre d'opprobre du moins pour le moment aux
yeux du public. Il avoue qu'il sacrifie et son intérêt et même sa
réputation: et il est certain que cette affaire lui fait un tort
irréparable, l'isole du genre humain, et lui ôte tout appui contre les
persécutions auxquelles ses opinions et encore plus ces traits de sa
misanthropie l'exposeront toujours. Je persiste donc à ne le croire que
fou, et je suis affligé que l'impression trop vive qu'a faite sur vous
sa folie vous ait mis dans le cas de la faire éclater et de la rendre
irrémédiable; car le bruit qu'à fait votre lettre au Baron, est pour
Rousseau une démonstration que ces conjectures étoient fondées sur la
vérité même. Il a bien mandé à Madame de Boufflers qu'il ne se plaignoit
pas, et que cette lettre qui vous a donné lieu de le diffamer comme le
dernier des hommes n'étoit écrite qu'à vous. L'éclat que vous avez fait,
lui a fait tout le mal possible, et sa lettre ne vous en a fait aucun. .
. . . . . Après vous avoir dit aussi franchement mon avis, vous serez
surpris peut-être de me voir presque revenu à l'avis de faire imprimer.
La folie de Rousseau est telle qu'il a écrit ici différentes lettres
dans lesquelles il regarde votre trahison comme si constante, et les
démonstrations comme si terrassantes pour vous, qu'il vous défie de
publier les pièces sans vous déshonorer, à moins que vous ne les
falsifiez; ce ne sont pas ses termes mais c'en est le sens. Si cette
espèce de défi devenoit public à un certain point, et faisoit plus
d'impression en Angleterre qu'il n'en peut faire en France, peut-être
serez-vous obligé d'imprimer. Mais en ce cas je voudrois retrancher tout
réçit, toute imputation de mensonge, toutes notes excepté quelques unes
nécessaires pour rétablir simplement les faits importans, comme celui de
la scène qui s'est passée la veille de son départ pour Wooton. Encore
voudrois-je que dans ces notes vous disiez simplement le fait, sans
traiter Rousseau de menteur, sans vous abaisser à le prouver. Vous devez
être cru sur ce que vous direz, et vous le serez. Je ne mettrois autre
chose à la tête, si non que les discours répandus sur la querelle, &c.
et l'espèce de défi que M. Rousseau vous fait d'en publier ce qui s'est
passé, vous obligent à regret à publier les accusations de M. Rousseau
contre vous, et que vous croyez leur publication une réponse suffisante.
Voilà quel est actuellement mon penchant. Mais comme je ne vois à cela
rien de pressé, je crois que vous ferez bien de vous donner tout le tems
d'y réfléchir. Plus vous mettez dans cette affaire de modération et même
d'indifférence, plus le tort de Rousseau deviendra évident."--MS. R.S.E.

[354:1] The original of this letter is in the MSS. R.S.E. It is printed
in Priv. Cor. p. 187.

[354:2] MS. R.S.E.

[354:3] "Le hasard a voulu que la plus part de vos amis, et surtout ceux
à qui vous me conseillez de lire votre lettre, se soient trouvés
rassemblés chez M{lle.} de L'Espinasse presque au moment que je l'ai
reçue; Mr. Turgot, Mr. L'Abbé Morellet, Mr. Roux, Mr. Saurin, Mr.
Marmontel, Mr. Duclos. Tous unanimement, ainsi que M{lle.} de
L'Espinasse et moi sommes d'avis, que vous devez donner cette histoire
au public, avec toutes ses circumstances. Voici ce que nous vous
conseillons--je dis nous, car je parle ici au nom de tous. Vous
commencerez d'abord par dire que vous savez que Rousseau travaille à ses
mémoires, qu'il fera sans doute mention de sa querelle avec vous, qui a
fait trop de bruit pour qu'il ne cherche pas à la tourner à son
avantage, que les mémoires pourront paroître ou après votre mort ou
aprés la sienne: que dans le 1{er} cas, comme vous l'observez vous-même,
personne ne pourra vous justifier; que dans le second, votre défense
seroit sans force; que vous avez donc cru devoir donner vous même toute
cette histoire au public, afin que Mr. Rousseau réponde s'il le peut.
Ensuite vous entrerez dans le détail, et dans le plus grand détail, mais
surtout, et c'est une chose absolument essentielle et que nous vous
recommendons tous--vous vous bornerez aux faits, exprimés simplement et
nettement, sans aigreur, sans la moindre injure, sans même de réflexions
sur le caractère de Rousseau et sur ses écrits; vous rapporterez vos
lettres et les siennes; celle qu'il vous a écrite le 23 juin suffiroit
seule pour le faire condamner, vous ne direz point, du moins trop
souvent, que vous êtes son bienfaiteur--tout le monde le sait assez.
Enfin mon cher ami, nous vous recommendons, et nous vous conjurons de
mettre dans cette brochure la plus grande modération mais en même temps
la plus grande clarté."--MS. R.S.E.

[355:1] Walpole's "Narrative."

[357:1] "Vous devez être bien étonné, Monsieur, de n'avoir encore reçu
aucune lettre sur la publication de votre mémoire, et il y a en cela
beaucoup de ma faute. J'avois dit à M. D'Alembert que j'aurois l'honneur
de vous écrire. Il a compté sur moi. Le Baron D'Holbach a compté sur
nous deux, et moi j'ai compté aussi sur eux; voilà ce qui fait qu'il n'y
a rien que d'avoir plusieurs domestiques pour être mal servi."

Stating, that he has sent a copy of the collection by post, he proceeds:

"Vous avez désiré que je fusse votre traducteur, et je n'avois pas
besoin de tous les sentimens qui m'attachent à vous, pour me charger de
ce travail, avec plaisir. Votre cause me paroisoit celle des honnêtes
gens et surtout celle des amis de la philosophie. Il y a long-tems que
je regardois Rousseau comme un profond et dangereux charlatan, qui avoit
passé sa vie à recevoir des bienfaits de tout le monde, et à faire tout
le mal qu'il avoit pu à ceux qui lui avaient fait le plus de bien. . .
Vous trouverez sans doute, Monsieur, qu'on a pris bien des libertés avec
votre texte: il y a beaucoup de passages altérés, et suprimés: mais il
n'y a aucun changement qui n'ait été fait par M. D'Alembert ou de son
consentement, et toujours pour des raisons que vous aprouverez

[358:1] New Monthly Magazine, (original series,) No. 72.

[358:2] The letter is dated Ferney, 24th Oct. 1766. Oeuvres de Voltaire,
ed. 1789, lxiv. 495. Probably Hume never received this letter. It is not
in the MSS. R.S.E., and Voltaire was known to be in the habit of writing
to people through the press. Hume, however, states, in a note to the
narrative of his controversy, that he had had a letter from Voltaire
about three years before. There is no trace of it among his papers.

[360:1] MS. R.S.E.

[360:2] MS. R.S.E.

[360:3] Among those who were eager to peruse these documents, Hume says,
writing to Madame de Barbantane, "The King and Queen of England
expressed a strong desire to see these papers, and I was obliged to put
them into their hands. They read them with avidity, and entertain the
same sentiments that must strike every one. The king's opinion confirms
me in the resolution not to give them to the public, unless I be forced
to it by some attack on the side of my adversary, which it will
therefore be wisdom in him to avoid." _Private Correspondence_, p. 210.

[361:1] He says, in a subsequent letter,--"What are become of all the
controversies since the days of Scaliger and Scioppius, of Billingsgate
memory? Why, they sleep in oblivion, till some Bayle drags them out of
their dust, and takes mighty pains to ascertain the date of each
author's death, which is of no more consequence to the world than the
day of his birth. Many a country squire quarrels with his neighbour
about game and manors, yet they never print their wrangles, though as
much abuse passes between them, as if they could quote all the
Philippics of the learned." We have an instance of what he considered a
really important dispute, when he was baffled in his attempt to get his
nephew, Lord Orford, married to Miss Nicol, "the vast fortune." "Thus,"
he says, "had I placed him in a greater situation than even his
grandfather hoped to bequeath to him,--had retrieved all the oversights
of my family,--had saved Houghton, and all our glory." "I have been
forced," he says, writing to Horace Mann, "_to write a narrative_ of the
whole transaction; and was with difficulty kept from publishing
it."--_Letters_, ii. 401.

[362:1] He did not lose the opportunity afforded by the publication of
his pamphlet, for again expressing his contempt of men whose sole claim
to notice rested on the greatness of their genius: "For Monsieur
D'Alembert," he says, "I said that I was mighty indifferent about seeing
him. That it was not my custom to seek authors, who are a conceited
troublesome set of people." And hearing that Fréron, the same who was so
sharp a thorn in Voltaire's side, had made some remarks on him, which
displeased the Duchesse de Choiseul, he says, "I immediately wrote to
Paris, to beg the duchess would suffer Fréron and D'Alembert, or any of
the tribe, to write what they pleased, to get what money they could by
abusing me."

[365:1] This is repeated in a letter to Robertson, of 19th March, and is
followed by the statement, "The King, when applied to, said, that since
the pension had once been promised, it should be granted,
notwithstanding all that had passed in the interval. And thus the affair
is happily finished, unless some new extravagance come across the
philosopher, and urge him to reject what he has anew applied
for."--_Stewart's Life of Robertson._

[365:2] MS. R.S.E.

[366:1] The letter is in the usual editions of Rousseau's works, dated
30th April.

[366:2] The pamphlets produced in England on this subject, were not
nearly so numerous as those published in France. Fuseli, whose mind was
well suited for such a paradoxical championship, wrote "A defence of M.
Rousseau, against the Aspersions of Mr. Hume, Monsieur Voltaire, and
their associates." The other pamphlet alluded to in the letter, was,
perhaps, "A letter to the Honourable Horace Walpole, concerning the
dispute between Mr. Hume and M. Rousseau," by the Rev. Ralph Heathcote,
D.D. Hume says, in a letter to Madame de Boufflers, "Agreeably to the
licence of this country, there has been a great deal of raillery on the
incident, thrown out in the public papers, but all against that unhappy
man. There is even a print engraved of it: M. Rousseau is represented as
a Yahoo, newly caught in the woods; I am represented as a farmer, who
caresses him and offers him some oats to eat, which he refuses in a
rage; Voltaire and D'Alembert are whipping him up behind; and Horace
Walpole making him horns of _papier mâché_. The idea is not altogether
absurd."--_Private Correspondence_, p. 234.

[367:1] MS. R.S.E.

[370:1] Walpole, whose capacity for acquiring information on such
matters was unrivalled, seems to have at least made a near approach to
the discovery of this point. He says in his narration, "The chief cause
of his disgust has been a long quarrel between his housekeeper and Mr.
Davenport's cook-maid, who, as Rousseau affirmed, had always dressed
their dinner very ill, and at last had sprinkled ashes on their

[371:1] MS. R.S.E.

[372:1] These incidents are also narrated in a letter to Madame de
Boufflers.--_Priv. Cor._ p. 241. And some of them in a French letter to
a person unknown, ib. p. 220.

[373:1] See the letter following that of 30th April to Mr. Davenport, in
the ordinary editions of Rousseau's works. The only material divergence
in the passage cited above is in the last clause, and the words
"quelques indiscrettes plaintes qui lui sont quelquefois echappées dans
le fort de ses peines," to which the corresponding clause in Rousseau's
Works, is "les plaintes indiscrettes, qui dans le fort de ses peines,
lui sont quelquefois échappées." These discrepancies were probably
between Rousseau's preserved copy, and the letter sent. That this letter
was printed from a copy preserved by Rousseau, is shown by the editors
of his Works not knowing to whom it was addressed. Hume repeats his own
version of the passage in a French letter already referred to. See
_Private Correspondence_, p. 222.

[374:1] MS. R.S.E.

[378:1] _Literary Gazette_, 1822, p. 649. Corrected from original MS.

[379:1] He assumed the name of Renou.

[380:1] MS. R.S.E.

[381:1] On 1st June, 1767, Turgot writes, in answer to a letter from
Hume: "Je me hâte d'y répondre par ce courier, quoique je n'aie encore
fait aucune démarche pour le malheureux homme auquel, il est si digne de
vous de prendre encore intérêt. Le degré de folie qu'il montre
aujourdhui est en vérité préférable à une folie moins exaltée, qui le
laissoit chargé de tout l'odieux d'un excès d'ingratitude envers vous et
M. Davenport. Une pareille ingratitude réfléchie et méditée ne peut me
paroître dans la nature. . . . Je vous remercie de m'avoir choisi parmi
vos amis de ce pays-ci pour m'associer à la bonne action que vous voulez
faire en lui rendant service. J'y mettrai certainement tout le zèle dont
je suis capable et à cause de son infortune, et à cause de l'intérêt que
vous y prenez." He continues to say, that to get him a safe passage may
be easy: to find him a permanent asylum in France, would be a more
difficult matter. "La chose est possible hors du ressort du Parlement de
Paris, mais il faut que le Roi y consente. Il n'y a que l'intérêt même
que vous prenez, et la singularité de cette circonstance qui puisse
peut-être adoucir le Roi sur le compte de Rousseau en faisant demander
la chose en votre nom par M. de Choiseul."


1766-1770. Æt. 55-59.

     Hume Under Secretary of State--Church Politics--Official
     abilities--Conduct as to Ferguson's book--Quarrel with
     Oswald--Baron Mure's sons--Project of continuing the History--
     Ministerial convulsions--Hume's conduct to his Family--His
     Brother--His Nephews--Baron Hume--Blacklock--Smollett--Church
     Patronage--Gibbon--Robertson--Elliot--Gilbert Stuart--The
     Douglas Cause--Andrew Stewart--Morellet--Return to Scotland.

The quarrel with Rousseau seems to have so fully occupied the attention
of Hume, during its continuance, that he scarcely alluded to any other
subject in his correspondence; and thus, though the preceding chapter is
devoted entirely to that event, a very slight retrospect from the point
of time reached at its conclusion, will suffice for whatever else,
worthy of notice in his life or correspondence, has been preserved.

In the summer of 1766, he made a short visit to Scotland. "I returned,"
he says, in his "own life," "to that place, not richer, but with much
more money, and a much larger income, by means of Lord Hertford's
friendship, than I left it; and I was desirous of trying what
superfluity could produce, as I had formerly made an experiment of a
competency. But, in 1767, I received, from Mr. Conway, an invitation to
be under-secretary; and this invitation, both the character of the
person, and my connexions with Lord Hertford, prevented me from

He was thus solicited to undertake the very responsible duties of this
office, by one who had good opportunities of knowing his capacity for
public business; and the simple fact of the appointment is a testimony
to the ability with which he had performed the analogous functions of
his office in France. He was indeed at all times a man of punctual
habits, and his unwearied industry had not yet begun to slacken. He had
a mind of that clear systematic order which was well fitted for the
composition of official documents; and his triumphs in philosophical and
historical literature never inflated him with the ambition of
considering any business which he consented to undertake too
insignificant to deserve his full attention. Some official documents,
connected with the successive offices which he held, have been
preserved, by collectors, as autographs of so celebrated a man: and they
generally arrest the attention of every one who examines them, by the
clearness and precision of the language, and not a little by the
neatness of the handwriting.

After the resignation of the Marquis of Tweeddale, in 1746, there was no
longer a principal secretary of state for Scotland; and it became usual
to consult the Lord Advocate, or any other ministerial officer, locally
connected with the north, as to the policy to be pursued in Scottish
affairs. None of the principal members of the Grafton ministry were
Scotsmen; and there can be little doubt that Hume must then have
exercised a large influence in all affairs connected with his native
country.[383:1] He held his office until the 20th of July 1768, when
General Conway was superseded by Lord Weymouth.

The following letter contains a brief sketch of the general current of
his official life.


"_1st April, 1767._

"My way of life here is very uniform, and by no means disagreeable. I
pass all the forenoon in the secretary's house, from ten till three,
where there arrive, from time to time, messengers, that bring me all
the secrets of the kingdom, and, indeed, of Europe, Asia, Africa, and
America. I am seldom hurried; but have leisure, at intervals, to take up
a book, or write a private letter, or converse with any friend that may
call for me; and from dinner to bed-time is all my own. If you add to
this, that the person with whom I have the chief, if not only
transactions, is the most reasonable, equal tempered, and gentleman-like
man imaginable, and Lady Aylesbury the same, you will certainly think I
have no reason to complain; and I am far from complaining. I only shall
not regret when my duty is over; because, to me, the situation can lead
to nothing, at least in all probability; and reading, and sauntering,
and lounging, and dosing, which I call thinking, is my supreme
happiness. I mean my full contentment.

"I thank you for the acquaintance you offer me of Mr. Percy; but it
would be impracticable for me to cultivate his friendship, as men of
letters have here no place of rendezvous; and are, indeed, sunk and
forgot in the general torrent of the world. If you can therefore
decline, without hardship, any letter of recommendation, it would save
trouble both to him and me."[385:1]

In the beginning of the year 1767, Ferguson published his "Essay on the
History of Civil Society," a work which speedily acquired a wide
reputation through Europe. The allusions which Hume has been found
making to some work of a similar character, so early as 1759,[385:2]
probably refer to a particular portion of this book. Immediately before
its publication, he recommended Ferguson's friends to prevail on him to
suppress the work, as likely to be injurious to its author's literary
reputation: one of the few instances, if it be not the only one, in
which he discouraged a fellow-countryman, desirous of casting his lot
into the competition for literary distinction. He ultimately found that
his advice was erroneous, as the book soon obtained a high character.
But, had his own opinion of its merits coincided with the suffrages of
the public, it would not have been so honourable to his memory, as the
satisfaction he expressed on the discovery that the verdict of the
reading world was against him. Writing to Blair on 24th February, 1767,
he says:--

"I happened yesterday to visit a person three hours after a copy of
Ferguson's performance was opened, for the first time, in London. It was
by Lord Mansfield. I accept this omen of its future success. He was
extremely pleased with it; said it was very agreeable, and perfectly
well wrote; assured me that he would not stop a moment till he had
finished it; and recommended it strongly to the perusal of the
Archbishop of York, who was present. I have wrote the same article of
intelligence to Ferguson himself; but as he is the likeliest person in
the world to suppress it, I thought it safest to put it into your hands,
in order to circulate it."[386:1]


"I hear good things said of Ferguson's book every day. Lord Holderness
showed me a letter from the Archbishop of York, where his Grace says,
that in many things it surpasses Montesquieu. My friend, Mr. Dodwell,
says that it is an admirable book, elegantly wrote, and with great
purity of language. Pray, tell to Ferguson and to others all these

Again, writing to the same correspondent, on 1st April, he says:--

"The success of the book, dear Doctor, which you mention, gives me great
satisfaction, on account of my sincere friendship for the author; and so
much the rather, as the success was to me unexpected. I have since begun
to hope, and even to believe, that I was mistaken; and in this
persuasion have several times taken it up and read chapters of it. But,
to my great mortification and sorrow, I have not been able to change my
sentiments. We shall see, by the duration of its fame, whether or not I
am mistaken. Helvétius and Saurin both told me at Paris, that they had
been consulted by Montesquieu about his 'Esprit des Loix.' They used the
freedom to tell him, as their fixed opinion, that he ought to suppress
the book; which they foresaw would very much injure his reputation. They
said to me that, no doubt, I thought they had reason to be ashamed of
their judgment. But still, added they, you may observe that the public
are very much returned from their first admiration of that book; and we
are persuaded that they will daily return still more.

"I hope that I shall be found a false prophet as much as these
gentlemen; for though the 'Esprit des Loix,' be considerably sunk in
vogue, and will probably still sink farther, it maintains a high
reputation, and probably will never be totally neglected. It has
considerable merit, notwithstanding the glare of its pointed wit, and
notwithstanding its false refinements, and its rash and crude positions.
Helvétius and Saurin assured me, that this freedom of theirs never lost
them any thing of Montesquieu's friendship. I believe the like would be
my case; but it is better not to put it to a trial. On that account, as
well as others, I recommend to you secrecy, towards every person except

A letter from Adam Smith, desiring that his friend, Count Sarsfield,
might be introduced to Hume's circle of acquaintance, called forth the
following narrative of a very amusing incident:--


"_London, 13th June, 1767._

"DEAR SMITH,--The Count de Sarsfield is a good acquaintance of mine,
from the time I saw him at Paris; and as he is really a man of merit, I
have great pleasure whenever I meet him here. My occupations keep me
from cultivating his friendship as much as I should incline. I did not
introduce him to Elliot, because I knew that this gentleman's reserve
and indolence would make him neglect the acquaintance; and I did not
introduce him to Oswald, because I fear that he and I are broke for
ever; at least he does not seem inclined to take any steps towards an
accommodation with me.

"I am to tell you the strangest story you ever heard of. I was dining
with him, above two months ago, where, among other company, was the
Bishop of Raphoe.[388:2] After dinner we were disposed to be merry. I
said to the company, that I had been very ill used by Lord Hertford; for
that I always expected to be made a bishop by him during his
lieutenancy! but he had given away two sees from me, to my great
vexation and disappointment. The right reverend, without any farther
provocation, burst out into the most furious, and indecent, and
orthodox rage that ever was seen: told me that I was most impertinent;
that if he did not wear a gown, I durst not, no, I durst not, have used
him so; that none but a coward would treat a clergyman in that manner;
that henceforth he must either abstain from his brother's house, or I
must; and that this was not the first time he had heard the stupid joke
from my mouth. With the utmost tranquillity and temper I asked his
pardon; assured him, upon my honour, that I did not mean him the least
offence: if I had imagined he could possibly have been displeased, I
never should have mentioned the subject; but the joke was not in the
least against him, but entirely against myself, as if I were capable of
such an expectation as that of being a bishop! my regard for himself,
and still more for his brother, with whom I had long been more
particularly connected, would certainly restrain me from either joke or
earnest, which could be offensive to him; and that, if I had ever
touched on the same topic before, I had entirely forgot it, and it must
have been above a twelvemonth ago. He was nowise appeased; raved on in
the same style for a long time. At last I got the discourse diverted,
and took my leave, seemingly with great indifference and even good
humour. I was nowise surprised nor concerned about his lordship; because
I had, on other occasions, observed the same orthodox zeal swell within
him, and it was often difficult for him to converse with temper when I
was in the company.

"But what really surprised and vexed me was, that his brother kept
silence all the time. I met him in the passage when I went away, and he
made me no apology. He has never since called on me; and though he sees
that I never come near his house, though formerly I used to be three or
four times a-week with him, he never takes the least notice of it. I own
this gives me vexation, because I have a sincere value and affection for
him. It is only some satisfaction to me to find, that I am so palpably
in the right as not to leave the least room for doubt or ambiguity. Dr.
Pitcairne, who was in the company, says that he never saw such a scene
in his lifetime. If I were sure, dear Smith, that you and I should not
some day quarrel in some such manner, I should tell you that I am, yours
very affectionately and sincerely."[390:1]

The world levies certain penalties on the enjoyment of a character for
good nature and kindness, and Hume seems to have paid them to their most
ample extent, in the shape of executing commissions, and performing
general petty services for his friends. We have witnessed the zeal with
which he attended to the education of Mr. Elliot's two sons. A teacher
of languages, possessing the distinguished name of Graffigny, and
professing to be in the confidence of celebrated literary people in
Paris, appears to have excited the suspicion of Baron Mure, whose sons
he was employed to instruct. Hume undertook to make some inquiries
regarding him; and his brief reports, from time to time, have some
interest from their containing a few of his opinions on education.


"_London, 1st July, 1767._

"DEAR BARON,--I believe I told you, that D'Alembert disclaimed all sort
of acquaintance with him. I have this moment received a letter from
Helvétius, doing the same. It was in answer to one I wrote him at Lord
Hertford's desire. I know not from what quarter we had heard that he had
given to Lord Harcourt, or Lord Newnam, a good character of Graffigny:
but it must have been a mistake; for to me he says, that he knows no
such man; that his wife, who was niece to the famous Ma{me} de
Graffigny, and educated with her, never saw or heard of such a man: nor
can they imagine who he may be. After this second imposture, it is
certain that Lord Hertford will not put his sons to him; nor do I think
it fit yours should longer remain. He is an empty, conceited fellow,
full of chimeras and pretensions; and I think you are at no great loss
for parting with him. The question [is,] what to do next?"


"DEAR BARON,--He is indeed a conceited man, full of whimseys and
affectations, reasoning always in the clouds about the most obvious
things, and hunting after novelties and singularities of which his
genius is incapable. What, for instance, can be more whimsical than his
method of teaching Latin? He gives his boys a long list of words, which
they are to get by heart, like the muster-roll of a regiment, and a
great heap of grammar rules, which are to them unintelligible. After he
has laid this foundation of a language, as he imagines, he begins them
with the most difficult of all the Latin poets; and for this plan of
education, he will give you a galimatias of reasons, clothed in the
smoothest language, and delivered with the softest accent."


"DEAR BARON,--In my conversation with your young folks yesterday, I
endeavoured to inform myself concerning their progress in Latin. I find
that they are not taught any Latin grammar; they are only instructed in
the sense of single detached words, which they learn, both in Greek and
Latin, at once. Accordingly they told me water, aqua, and υδωρ; but
though I tried them in about half a dozen more words, I could not find
their learning extended so far. All this appears to me very whimsical;
and I doubt a dead language can never be learned in this manner without
grammar. In a living language, the continual application of the words
and phrases teaches at the same time the sense of the words, and their
reference to each other; but a list of words got by heart, without any
connected sense, easily escapes the memory, and is but a small part of
the language."[392:1]

There are several indications that Hume still retained the half-formed
intention of continuing his History through a portion of the period
succeeding the Revolution. In a brief undated letter, written to Smith
in Paris, he says:--

"Some push me to continue my History. Millar offers me any price. All
the Marlborough papers are offered me: and I believe nobody would
venture to refuse me. But _cui bono_? Why should I forego idleness, and
sauntering, and society, and expose myself again to the clamours of a
stupid factious public? I am not yet tired of doing nothing; and am
become too wise either to mind censure or applause. By and bye I shall
be too old to undergo so much labour. Adieu."[392:2]

Smith's opinion is thus reported by Andrew Millar, on 22d November,

"He is of opinion, with many more of your very good sensible friends,
that the History of this country, from the Revolution, is not to be met
with in books yet printed; but from MSS. in this country, to which he is
sure you will have ready access, from all accounts he hears from the
great here; and therefore you should lay the ground-work here, after
your perusal of the MSS. you may have access to, and doing it below will
be laying the wrong foundation. I think it my duty to inform you the
opinion of your most judicious friends, and I think he and Sir John
Pringle may be reckoned amongst that number."[393:1]

Millar, indeed, seems to have scarcely ever relaxed from urging this
project; and perhaps it was his perseverance, and not any
self-originating desire to pursue the task, that kept the design alive
in Hume's mind. He had written to his worthy publisher on 8th October,

"I shall probably do as you advise, and sketch out the outlines of the
two or three subsequent reigns, which I may finish at London, after I
find that there remains no farther obstacles to this work, and that it
is favoured, I do not say by every body, (for that is impossible,) but
by the generality of the world."

At a later date he thus expressed his views:--


"_London, 17th July, 1767._

"DEAR SIR,--We are still in as unsettled a condition as when you left
us. There will certainly be a considerable alteration in the ministry;
and I do not at present reckon my principal's situation more precarious
than that of any other minister. He speaks, however, like a man who is
to be out of office in a few days. I have also taken the precaution to
desire him to request of the king, in my name, the liberty, after my
dismission, of inspecting all the public records, and all the papers in
the Paper-office. His majesty was pleased to say, that he very willingly
complied with my request, and was glad to hear of my intentions. But my
chief view is to run over such papers as belong to the period which I
have already wrote, in order to render that part of my History as little
imperfect as possible. It would be folly to think of writing any more;
and even as to correcting, were it not an amusement, to what purpose
would it serve, since I shall certainly never live to see a new

On the same subject, and in the same tone, he writes to his brother, on
6th October:--

"As to myself, I pass my time, as I told you, in an agreeable enough
kind of business, and not too much of it. My income, also, is at present
very considerable--above £1100 a-year, of which I shall not spend much
above the half. Notwithstanding, I sometimes wish to be out of
employment, in order to prosecute my History, to which every body urges
me. When Mr. Conway was on the point of resigning, I desired him to
propose to the king that I might afterwards have the liberty of
inspecting all the public offices for such papers as might serve to my
purpose. His majesty said, that he was glad that I had that object in my
eye; and I should certainly have all the assistance in his power. He was
also pleased, some time after, to send to me the Baron Behr, minister
for Hanover, to tell me that he had ordered over some papers from
Hanover, to be put into my hands, because he believed they would be of
use to me. I believe I have told you that the use of the Marlborough
papers had been promised me by Lord and Lady Spencer; but Marchmont, who
had some pretence of authority over them, as trustee, delayed giving
them up, suspecting, I suppose, the use they intended to make of

Though it was as part of Lord Rockingham's administration that Conway
became secretary of state, and his political connexions attached him to
that leader, he had been prevailed on to retain office on the formation
of the Grafton and Chatham cabinet, in August 1766. In the summer of
1767, that ministry seemed likely to be formidably assailed by the
united efforts of the Rockingham and Bedford parties, whose meetings and
resolutions at Newcastle House are matters well known in history.
General Conway's resignation would have terminated Hume's tenure of
office; and we find, in his correspondence, a few indications of
interest in the political movements of the time; yet so calm and
modified, that even the possession of office seems scarcely to have
affected the stoic philosophy with which he contemplated ministerial

He says to his friend Blair, on the 18th of June:--

"We are all again in confusion. Negotiations for a new ministry; the
fatal month of July approaching; a new settlement to be made, which will
be no settlement. I fancy I return, in a few weeks, to my former

And to Smith, on 14th July:--

"DEAR SMITH,--I send you the enclosed, with a large packet for Count
Sarsfield. This is the last ministerial act which I shall probably
perform; and with this exertion I finish my functions. I shall not
leave this country presently. Perhaps I may go over to France. Our
resignation is a very extraordinary incident, and will probably occasion
a total change of ministry. Are you busy?"[396:1]

His official life, however, was not so near a conclusion as he thought
it was. The following letter is more full and explicit, in regard to
these matters:--

_London, 28th July, 1767._

"DEAR BROTHER,--Were my present situation any object of anxiety, I
should have been very unhappy of late: so uncertain has my continuance
appeared every moment, and so near did my ministerial functions seem to
draw towards their conclusion. But as the matter was very nearly
indifferent to me, I neither felt anxiety for my past danger, nor do I
experience any joy from my present establishment; for we are now
established, for some time at least, and all apprehensions of a change
are removed to a distance. The history of our late transactions is, in
short, as follows: About this time twelvemonth, when the last revolution
of ministry took place, Mr. Conway staid in, though Lord Rockingham, and
most of his friends, were turned out: But it was with reluctance, and
only on the earnest entreaties of the king and Lord Chatham, and on
their giving him a promise that several of his friends and party should
still continue to hold their places. This engagement was broke last
winter. Some of these gentlemen were turned out; and Mr. Conway, after
protesting against this usage, declared, that though he would keep his
office during the session, not to disturb the king's business, he would
resign as soon as the parliament should rise. He accordingly desired the
king, about six weeks ago, to provide him a successor, and was
entreated only to keep the seals till a proper person should be thought
of. When the matter came to be discussed, it was found very difficult.
The Duke of Grafton declared, that being deprived of Lord Chatham's
support, he could not continue to serve without Mr. Conway: and a total
dissolution of the ministry seemed to be the effect of the incident.
Negotiations were accordingly set on foot with the leaders of the
opposition, and a great meeting of them was held last week, at Bedford
House. It was found that they could not, by any means, agree in their
demands; and they separated in mutual discontent. Every body thinks that
Mr. Conway has now satisfied, to the full, the point of honour, in which
he is very scrupulous, and that he will cordially resume his functions,
especially as he stands so well with the king and his fellow ministers,
and has brought it within the choice of his old friends to accept of the
ministry, if they had thought proper. I was beginning to wish for our
dissolution; but upon this turn of affairs, I resume my occupations with

The remainder of this letter is devoted to a matter in which we have
already frequently found him taking interest--the education of his
nephews. From his earliest to his latest days, his connexion with his
elder brother was cordial and affectionate. On the 6th of October we
find him writing, in a tone which indicates a sympathy with some
domestic calamity which his brother must have suffered:--

"The time of your going to Edinburgh approaches, which makes a great
change in your way of life, and will naturally make yourself, as well as
all your friends, anxious about the issue of it. However, I cannot but
think that you will there live more cheerfully, with all your children
about you, than in the country, during the winter, when your boys were
absent. At first only, as your spirits are not very strong at present,
you may feel uneasy at the alteration, as you are at present somewhat
apprehensive about it."[398:1]

There was apparently but one point in which the two brothers differed;
and it was a subject on which Hume seems to have been at war with all
his clan. The Laird of Ninewells, notwithstanding all the lustre that
had now gathered round the name of _Hume_, would not adopt it in place
of that of _Home_, which his father had borne. He was a simple,
single-hearted man, moderate in all his views and wishes, and neither
ambitious of distinction nor of wealth. He passed his life as a retired
country gentleman; and while Europe was full of his brother's name, he
was so averse to notoriety, that he is known to have objected to the
domestic events of births, marriages, and deaths, in his family,
obtaining the usual publicity through the newspapers.[398:2] His eldest
son, Joseph, frequently mentioned in the following correspondence,
succeeded him in his estate and retired habits, but not entirely in his
disposition; for he indulged in many of the eccentricities and
peculiarities so often exhibited by the Scottish gentry,--a
characteristic they seem to derive from the circumstance, that, in the
British empire, there is no person less liable to encounter an equal,
and to be thwarted in his small exercise of absolute power, than a
Scottish laird. It is evident from his uncle's letters, that Joseph
obtained an excellent education. He was for some time placed under the
charge of poor Blacklock,--an arrangement by which Hume sought to
perform a double act of beneficence.[399:1] Joseph died unmarried, on
14th February, 1832, and was succeeded by his brother David, whose
career was more public and distinguished. He was born on 27th February,
1757,[401:1] and died on 27th July, 1838. He was successively sheriff of
the counties of Berwick and Linlithgow. He was professor of Scots law in
the university of Edinburgh, and a principal clerk of Session. He
subsequently resigned these offices, on his being appointed a Baron of
the Scottish Exchequer. His works are of great authority in the
practical departments of the law. While he taught in the university, his
students zealously collected notes of his lectures; and, as he refused
to permit any version of them to be published, the well preserved
collections of these notes have been considered valuable treasuries of
legal wisdom. In 1790, he published "Commentaries on the law of
Scotland, respecting trials for crimes;" and, in 1797, "Commentaries on
the law of Scotland respecting the description and punishment of
crimes," forming, in four quarto volumes, a comprehensive treatise on
all the departments of the criminal law of Scotland, which has now
passed through three editions. It has been justly remarked, that lawyers
of the present generation, can, with difficulty, appreciate the merit
of this work, because, from its having converted the whole subject it
embraces into a system, the chaotic mass, from which the present
comparatively orderly criminal code of Scotland was constructed, has

Few literary reputations have been more unlike each other than those of
the two David Humes, uncle and nephew. The former hated legal details
and the jargon of technical phraseology; to the latter they were the
breath of his literary life. The one, as a philosopher, saw, throughout
a wide circumference of vision, the relations to each other of the most
distant objects of human knowledge; the latter saw nothing beyond the
bounds of the professional details before him; but these he noted with
an unrivalled accuracy. The strength, clearness, and beauty of the
philosopher's language have been a lasting object of admiration; the
lawyer's diction was clumsy, rude, and ponderous, without being either
strong or clear. On one point only did they agree--their political
opinions; and yet, on this subject, they seem not always to have been in
unison. From a very curious letter, which will be found a few pages
farther on, it appears that Hume thought it necessary seriously to warn
his nephew against republican principles. Few, who are only acquainted
with the opinions of Baron Hume's later life, will be inclined to
believe that this danger could ever have been serious. He was a
supporter of all those parts of the criminal law of Scotland,--in his
day not a few,--which put the subject at the mercy of the crown and of
the judges; and a warm admirer of his sagacity and learning, as a
lawyer, cannot quit this subject without regretting that these qualities
should have been brought to aid the promulgation of arbitrary

The education of his nephews, occupies, as has been already stated, the
remainder of the letter by Hume to his brother above cited.

"My present situation revives those reflections which have frequently
occurred to me concerning the education of your sons, particularly of
Josey, whose age now advances, and seems to approach towards a crisis.
The question is, whether he had better continue his education in
Scotland or in England. There are several advantages of a Scots
education; but the question is, whether that of the language does not
counterbalance them, and determine the preference to the English. He is
now of an age to learn it perfectly; but if a few years elapse, he may
acquire such an accent, as he will never be able to cure of. It is not
yet determined what profession he shall be of: but it must always be of
great advantage to speak properly: especially if it should prove, as we
have reason to hope, that his good parts will open him the road of
ambition. The only inconvenience is, that few Scotsmen, that have had an
English education, have ever settled cordially in their own country; and
they have been commonly lost ever after to their friends. However, as
this consequence is not necessary, the superior recommendations of an
English education ought not to be neglected. I have been making
inquiries for some time, and on the whole I find Eton the best place for
the education of youth. He would there be able to form connexions with
many young people of distinction; though the whole expense would
scarcely exceed £70 a-year, which I fancy is little more than he costs
you at present. I suggest, therefore, this idea to you that you may
weigh it at leisure, and determine upon it. I know you do not like to be
hurried, and therefore the more time for reflection the better. His
friend and companion, young Adam, is coming up soon, but is going to
Westminster school, which is a place that I find some objections to.

"I hope Mrs. Home is perfectly recovered. I am glad to hear such good
news of Jock. I had a letter from Davie last week, which gave me
pleasure. I am, dear brother, yours sincerely."[404:1]

On 13th October, in a letter of which a portion has been cited above,
Hume writes further on the same subject:

"DEAR BROTHER,--I never prognosticated well of Josey's genius for the
mathematics, from his great slowness in learning arithmetic: and I am
not surprised to find that his progress in Euclid has not been so great
as might have been expected from his quickness and his capacity in other
particulars. There is indeed something very unaccountable in his turn;
so childish in many cases, and yet so manly, and quick, and sensible in
others. The presence of strangers, above all, seems to make him
recollect himself, and he is exceedingly taking among them. His address
in particular, is remarkably good, and he seems to have a turn for the
world and for company. However, I do not think him by any means
deficient in his talents for literature. It appeared to me that he
always read his books with a very good taste, Latin as well as French
and English; and I imagine that he will make at least a very
gentlemanlike scholar. I wish therefore he had a further trial of the
Greek; and if that will not do, I think with you that the Italian is an
easy and genteel acquisition, which will furnish him with occupation for
this winter."[405:1]

Hume expressed no high respect for the historical abilities of Dr.
Smollett, nor could he have well expected credit for sincerity if he had
done so. With the works in which the novelist let loose his native
genius, it is not likely that the philosopher could have had much
sympathy. But two letters addressed by him to Smollett, show that the
successful and affluent man of letters was substantially kind and
friendly to his less fortunate countryman.


"_London, July 18, 1767._

"DEAR SIR,--I have had a conversation with Lord Shelburne concerning
your affairs: he told me that he had long been pre-engaged for the
consulship of Nice to the Spanish ambassador, and could not possibly get
free of that obligation. I then mentioned the consulship of Leghorn; but
he said he was already engaged for that office to a friend of Mr.
Dunning, the lawyer. On the whole, I cannot flatter you with any hopes
of success from that quarter; even supposing his lordship were to remain
in office, which is very uncertain, considering the present state of our
ministry. For of all our annual confusions, the present seems to be the
most violent, and to threaten the most entire revolution, and the most
important events. As Lord Chatham's state of health appears totally
desperate, and as Lord Shelburne's connexion is supposed to be chiefly,
if not solely, with him, many people foretell a short duration to the
greatness of the last named minister. Every thing is uncertain: there is
a mighty combination to overpower the king. The force of the crown is
great; but is not employed with that steadiness which its friends would
wish. I pretend not to foresee, much less to foretell, the consequences.
I am, dear sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant," &c.[406:1]

It has been a matter of speculation, if not of dispute among
ecclesiastical politicians, how far Hume had an influence in the
dispensation of church patronage in Scotland. The following letters,
having however a more immediate reference to state politics, may be held
to afford some light on this question.


"_London, 13th August, 1767._

"DEAR SIR GILBERT,--I am told that the minister of Kirkton, in the
Presbytery of Jedburgh, is either dying, or is to be removed, and that
the living is in the gift of the crown. I have spoke to General Conway
desiring that, in case no unexpected difficulties occur, he may give it
to my nephew's tutor; and he has agreed to it. I have since heard, that
the living, though it stands in our list as a crown presentation, is
alternately in the gift of Sir John Elliot of Stobs, and Cavers Douglas.
I shall be much obliged to you, if, without mentioning the reason, you
could make inquiries, and give me information.

"You have heard, no doubt, that all our negotiations have vanished, and
that our present ministry is settled on a firmer basis than ever. Mr.
Conway's delicacy of honour was satisfied, by bringing his old friends
the Rockinghams to have an offer; and as it was impossible for them to
concert a ministry, he has agreed to act cordially with the Duke of
Grafton: the king is very happy that no changes are to have place. I do
not reckon the change in Ireland for any thing, because Lord Bristol
goes out at his own earnest and repeated desire. I am told that Lord
Townsend openly ascribes his own promotion entirely to the friendship of
Lord Bute. Charles Fitzroy lately, in a great meeting, proposed Lord
Bute's health in a bumper. It will be a surprise to you certainly, if
that noble lord should again come into fashion, and openly avow his
share of influence, and be openly courted by all the world. I am, dear
Sir Gilbert, yours sincerely."[407:1]

"_10th Sept. 1767._

"DEAR SIR GILBERT,--Lord North has refused the office of Chancellor
of the Exchequer; though it was earnestly pressed upon him, and
though he professed an entire satisfaction with every person in the
administration. He dreads the labour of the office, especially as it
obliges him to take so great a part in the business of the House of
Commons. It will not probably be offered to any Scotsman, for fear of
popular reflections concerning the influence of the Thane. The same
objection, as well as others, lie against Dyson, who has been thought
of. I see the ministry in some perplexity; perhaps this incident may
draw on new resignations and negotiations, and cabals. I think one
defect of the present situation of our government is, that nobody
desires much to have any share in the administration, except
adventurers, of whom the public is naturally distrustful. The pecuniary
emoluments are of no consideration to men of rank and fortune. You have
often more personal regard from being in the opposition. The protection
of the law is at all times sufficient for your security; and by
acquiring authority you are exposed to insults, instead of gaining the
power to revenge them.[408:1] Why, then, should a man of birth, fortune,
and parts, sacrifice his fame and peace to an ungrateful public? Such is
the defect that arises from the perfection of the most perfect

The next in the chronological order of Hume's letters, reverts to the
prospect of his continuing his History.


"_19th October, 1767._

"DEAR SIR,--The picture which Donaldson has done for me is a drawing;
and, in every body's opinion, as well as my own, is the likest that has
been done for me, as well as the best likeness. Since you still insist
that an engraving should be made from it, we are [thus] more likely to
have a good engraving made than by any other means. I shall, however, be
glad to sit to Ferguson.[409:1] I intend to give up all my leisure time
to the correction of my History, and to contrive more leisure than I
have possessed since I came into public office. I had run over four
volumes; but I shall give them a second perusal, and employ the same, or
greater accuracy in correcting the other four. I shall read carefully
all the records in the Paper Office, as far back as they go, and shall
leave nothing untried that may bestow the greatest exactness upon it.
For this reason, as well as many others, I would not have you
precipitate this edition, which is probably the last that I may have
occasion to make. I would wish to leave that work as little imperfect as
possible to posterity. I am," &c.[409:2]

Gibbon tells us, in his amusing autobiography, that with the assistance
of his friend Deyverdun, he had written in French a portion of a history
of Switzerland, and that the opinions he heard expressed when a fragment
of it was anonymously read before a society in London, prompted him to
abandon the work, and burn the portion he had written. "I delivered," he
says, "my imperfect sketches to the flames." Yet, singularly enough, he
seems to have confounded the intention with the fulfilment, for they
were discovered after his death, but were not thought worthy of being
published by his literary executor, Lord Sheffield.[409:3] Gibbon had
endeavoured to find for his friend Deyverdun some employment in
England, picturesquely observing, that his own "purse was always open,
but it was often empty." They wrote in company some numbers of a
periodical, now very rare, called "Mémoires Littéraires de La Grande
Bretagne," and Gibbon informs us that these specimens of their labours
introduced them to the notice of Hume,[410:1] in whose office Deyverdun
held an appointment at the date of the following letter:--


     _Baiton, 4th October, 1767._

     SIR,--A six years' residence in Switzerland inspired me with
     the design of writing a general history of that brave and free
     people, so little known to the rest of Europe, but whom I had
     studied with some attention. This design was dropt almost as
     soon as conceived, from the almost insurmountable difficulty
     of procuring proper materials, as they were mostly in German,
     a language I am totally unacquainted with. A Swiss gentleman,
     and intimate friend of mine, has removed that difficulty. Mr.
     Deyverdun, who passed the summer with me in the country two
     years ago, approved very much my design, and offered to assist
     me by translating what was most difficult, himself, and by
     superintending a German translator, as to the remainder. He is
     now returning to London after a much shorter visit than I
     desired; and as he has the happiness of supporting some
     connexion with you, I flattered myself that you might indulge
     a wish, perhaps presumptuous, that I had conceived, and that
     you would condescend to glance your eye over the sheets of
     this History, which I had already drawn up in a language
     indeed foreign to an Englishman, but which the favourable
     reception of a former essay engaged me to make use of.

     Give me leave, sir, to add, that I must beg you to consider
     this liberty as a proof of my respect; and that I shall
     consider your severity as a mark of your esteem. If you
     advise me to burn what I have already wrote, I shall
     immediately execute your sentence, with a full persuasion that
     it is just. Let me say, however, I have perhaps vanity enough
     to make so unlimited a sacrifice to no man in Europe but to
     Mr. Hume. I am, sir, with the greatest esteem, your most
     obedient humble servant,

                                   E. GIBBON, Junior.[411:1]


"_London, 24th October, 1767._

"SIR,--It is but a few days since Mr. Deyverdun put your manuscript into
my hands; and I have perused it with great pleasure and satisfaction. I
have only one objection, derived from the language in which it is
written. Why do you compose in French, and carry fagots into the wood,
as Horace says, with regard to the Romans who wrote in Greek? I grant,
that you have a like motive to those Romans, and adopt a language much
more generally diffused than your native tongue: but have you not
remarked the fate of those two ancient languages in following ages? The
Latin, though then less celebrated, and confined to more narrow limits,
has, in some measure, outlived the Greek, and is now more generally
understood by men of letters. Let the French, therefore, triumph in the
present diffusion of their tongue. Our solid and increasing
establishments in America, where we need less dread the inundation of
barbarians, promise a superior stability and duration to the English

"Your use of the French tongue has also led you into a style more
poetical and figurative, and more highly coloured, than our language
seems to admit of in historical productions: for such is the practice of
French writers, particularly the more recent ones, who illuminate their
pictures more than custom will permit us. On the whole, your History, in
my opinion, is written with spirit and judgment; and I exhort you very
earnestly to continue it. The objections that occurred to me on reading
it were so frivolous, that I shall not trouble you with them, and
should, I believe, have a difficulty to collect them. I am, with great
esteem," &c.[412:1]

Some remarks communicated to Dr. Robertson, on his "History of Charles
V." while that work was passing through the press, have deservedly
attracted notice by their unconstrained and natural playfulness.


     I got yesterday from Strahan about thirty sheets of your
     History to be sent over to Suard, and last night and this
     morning have run them over with great avidity. I could not
     deny myself the satisfaction (which I hope also will not
     displease you) of expressing presently my extreme approbation
     of them. To say only that they are very well written, is by
     far too faint an expression, and much inferior to the
     sentiments I feel. They are composed with nobleness, with
     dignity, with elegance, and with judgment, to which there are
     few equals. They even excel, and, I think, in a sensible
     degree, your "History of Scotland." I propose to myself great
     pleasure in being the only man in England, during some months,
     who will be in the situation of doing you justice,--after
     which you may certainly expect that my voice will be drowned
     in that of the public.

     You know that you and I have always been on the footing of
     finding in each other's productions _something to blame, and
     something to commend_; and therefore you may perhaps expect
     also some seasoning of the former kind; but really neither my
     leisure nor inclination allowed me to make such remarks; and I
     sincerely believe you have afforded me very small materials
     for them. However, such particulars as occur to my memory, I
     shall mention. _Maltreat_ is a Scoticism which occurs once.
     What the devil had you to do with that old fashioned dangling
     word _wherewith_? I should as soon take back _whereupon_,
     _whereunto_, and _wherewithal_. I think the only tolerable
     decent gentleman of the family is _wherein_; and I should not
     choose to be often seen in his company. But I know your
     affection for _wherewith_ proceeds from your partiality to
     Dean Swift, whom I can often laugh with, whose style I can
     even approve, but surely can never admire. It has no harmony,
     no eloquence, no ornament; and not much correctness, whatever
     the English may imagine. Were not their literature still in a
     somewhat barbarous state, that author's place would not be so
     high among their classics. But what a fancy is this you have
     taken of saying always _an hand_, _an heart_, _an head_? Have
     you _an ear_? Do you not know that this (n) is added before
     vowels to prevent the cacophony, and ought never to take place
     before (h) when that letter is sounded? It is never pronounced
     in these words; why should it be wrote? Thus, I should say, _a
     history_, and _an historian_; and so would you too, if you had
     any sense. But you tell me that Swift does otherwise. To be
     sure there is no reply to that; and we must swallow your
     _hath_ too upon the same authority. I will see you d----d
     sooner. But I will endeavour to keep my temper.

     I do not like this sentence in page 149: _This step was taken
     in consequence of the treaty Wolsey had concluded with the
     Emperor at Brussels, and which had hitherto been kept secret._
     Si sic omnia dixisses, I should never have been plagued with
     hearing your praises so often sounded, and that fools
     preferred your style to mine. Certainly it had been better to
     have said, _which_ Wolsey, &c. That relative ought very seldom
     to be omitted; and is here particularly requisite to preserve
     a symmetry between the two members of the sentence. You omit
     the relative too often, which is a colloquial barbarism, as Mr
     Johnson calls it.

     Your periods are sometimes, though not often, too long. Suard
     will be embarrassed with them, as the modish French style runs
     into the other extreme.[413:1]

Turgot, at the instigation of some Italian friends, had applied to Hume
to recommend a scholar, who would undertake to teach the English
language and literature at Parma. He selected Robert Liston; but he had
overlooked an objection which the enlightened promoters of the scheme in
Italy appear to have considered too obvious to require preliminary
explanation, that Liston was a Protestant! In returning thanks to Hume
for the unavailing recommendation, Liston discovers the bent of his
genius, by desiring that, if an opportunity should occur, Hume would
recommend him as secretary of legation to any of the secondary
embassies. The fate of the Parma scheme was thus communicated to Elliot.


"_London, 5th July, 1768._

"DEAR SIR GILBERT,--I beg of you to direct the enclosed to poor Liston,
who will be disappointed in the scheme for Parma: they will have nothing
but a Papist. Such fools! Let the Pope excommunicate them on the one
hand: I will do so on the other.

"I have seen a book newly printed at Edinburgh, called 'Philosophical
Essays:' it has no manner of sense in it, but is wrote with tolerable
neatness of style: whence I conjecture it to be our friend, Sir
David's.[414:1] I am obliged to him for the treatment which he destines
me, to be locked up for five years in a dungeon, and then to be hanged,
and my carcass to be thrown out of Scotland. He supports himself,
indeed, by the authority of Plato, whom I own to be truly divine. Pray,
have you seen the book? Is it Sir David's? I think it has not so many
attempts at humour, as that pious gentleman would employ.

"We are all very quiet here; as quiet as you are at Minto, though
perhaps not so busy. No more noise of Wilkes and Liberty. Lord Mansfield
said to me, that it was impossible for him to condemn him to the
pillory, because the attorney-general did not demand it. Yesterday he
represented to the Spanish ambassador, that moderate sentence, as a
refinement in politics, which reduced the scoundrel the sooner to
obscurity. It would be a strange cause, which he could not find
plausible reasons to justify.

"I beg to be remembered to Lady Elliot, and to any of your family who
may be at Minto. I ever am, dear Sir Gilbert, yours sincerely."[415:1]


     "_Minto, 11th July, 1768._

     "I am sorry, my dear sir, for poor Liston's disappointment. I
     am told he thought himself secure. I have seen the book you
     mention; but you do injustice to our friend Sir David. He is
     not the author; but a very moral and worthy man, who, I
     believe, once had the honour to attend you in some of your
     writings before,--his name James Balfour--at least I am told
     so. The young feudal author, Gilbert Stewart, is just now in
     my neighbourhood; and, his father tells me, impatient, to a
     great degree, for your letter. It seems he is much your
     admirer. However, I hope my criticisms, on some parts of his
     work, may keep him from carrying his admiration, on some
     points, too far. Not that I mean to close with my friend, Mr.
     Balfour, in his candid proposition for treating you after the
     manner of the divine Plato. I rest entirely on you for
     politics, changes of ministry, foreign politics, and domestic
     occurrences. I have now no correspondents; and I did not think
     it prudent to engage with any ministerial men; as I might be
     led, in such a correspondence, to commit mistakes, which may
     be inconvenient next winter. Farming, I find, is very
     expensive--days' wages now at a shilling; but our fields are
     green, and the hedges thrive. I hope to see your brother this
     autumn. He is very orthodox, I am told, so far as husbandry
     goes. I hope to hear your love affair, and your King William,
     are in a good way. My wife not yet arrived. Yours," &c.[416:1]

Gilbert Stuart, then unknown to fame, whether good or bad, and still
possessed of any small portion of modesty he had ever been endowed with,
was about to publish his little work on the British constitution, the
temporary celebrity of which had so prejudicial an effect on his
subsequent career. We shall afterwards have an opportunity of noticing
him on an occasion when he seems to have thought that the relation which
Hume and he bore to each other, in 1768, of humble admirer and
distinguished patron, was reversed in his favour.


"_22d July, 1768._

"DEAR SIR GILBERT,--I send you my letter enclosed to Mr. Stewart; which
I hope is calculated to encourage a young man of merit. Without
overstraining the compliment, it were better, however, for him, and for
every body, to pursue, in preference to the idle trade of writing, some
other lawful occupation, such as cheating like an attorney; quacking
like a physician; canting and hypocrising like a parson, &c. &c. &c. It
is for very little purpose to go out of the common track. Does he
expect to make men wiser? a very pretty expectation truly!

"I fancy the ministry will remain; though surely their late remissness,
or ignorance, or pusillanimity, ought to make them ashamed to show their
faces, were it even at Newmarket. There are fine doings in America. O!
how I long to see America and the East Indies revolted, totally and
finally,--the revenue reduced to half,--public credit fully discredited
by bankruptcy,--the third of London in ruins, and the rascally mob
subdued! I think I am not too old to despair of being witness to all
these blessings. I approve of your farming scheme, notwithstanding the
expense; though your situation, as well for markets as means of
improvement, is not advantageous. My brother's advice may be of use to
you; but you are always to remember that he is of the sect of the
_médecin tant pis_; had he possessed enterprise, proportioned to his
industry and skill, he might have gone far in that way.[417:1]

"I continue my parasitical practices; that is, of dining at all the
great tables that remain in London. We are likely to be plagued with
this King of Denmark; though not so much as formerly with Canute the
Great. I have some thoughts of paying a visit to France this autumn;
that is, if I can collect enough of resolution to leave the present
place of abode.

"When I wrote last, I did not know that Lady ---- had eloped; that
practice continues very fashionable here; and it is to be hoped will
spread itself more and more every day!

"I thought Sir David had been the only Christian that could write
English on the other side of the Tweed. I did not think of Balfour. It
is very true he would fain, I see, be candid, and civil, as in his other
book; if his zeal for the house of the Lord would permit him.

"Lord Bute certainly sets out this day se'ennight, and, it is said, is
in a very bad state of health.

"Lord Chatham is a greater paradox than ever:--is seen at home by no
human creature;--absolutely by none! rides twenty miles every day,--is
seen on the road, and appears in perfect good health; but will now speak
to no creature he meets. I am much persuaded, all is quackery;--he is
not mad; that is, no madder than usual."[418:1]

Towards the end of the year 1768, poor Smollett, with his spirit crushed
by the united calamities of a broken constitution and ruined fortunes,
sought to retrieve his health, by travelling in Italy. Before commencing
his journey, he wrote the following letter; in which the too apparent
tone of despondency is yet insufficient to damp the kindly warmth of his


     _London, 31st August, 1768._

     DEAR SIR,--Perhaps I overrate my own consequence when I
     presume to recommend to your acquaintance and good offices,
     the bearer, Captain Robert Stobo; a man whose very
     extraordinary services and sufferings in America, have
     merited, and obtained the most ample and honourable
     testimonials, which he will gladly submit to your perusal. I
     can safely say from my own knowledge, that he is not less
     modest and sensible in the conversation and occurrences of
     civil life, than enterprising and indefatigable in his
     military capacity. All these good qualities, united to an
     extensive knowledge of our American concerns, cannot fail to
     engage the friendship and regard of Mr. David Hume, from what
     quarter so ever they may come recommended.

     With respect to myself, I am sorry I cannot have the pleasure
     of taking leave of you in person, before I go into perpetual
     exile. I sincerely wish you all health and happiness. In
     whatever part of the earth it may be my fate to reside, I
     shall always remember with pleasure, and recapitulate with
     pride, the friendly intercourse I have maintained with one of
     the best men, and undoubtedly the best writer of the age; if
     any judgment in distinguishing either character or capacity
     may be allowed to, dear sir, your very humble servant,

                                             T{S} SMOLLETT.

          Nos patriam fugimus: tu, Tityre, lentus in umbra,
          Formosam resonare doces Amaryllida silvas.[419:1]


"_Ragley,[419:2] September 21, 1768._

"MY DEAR SIR,--I did not see your friend, Captain Stobo, till the day
before I left Cirencester, and only for a little time; but he seemed to
be a man of good sense, and has surely had the most extraordinary
adventures in the world. He has promised to call on me when he comes to
London, and I shall always see him with pleasure.

"But what is this you tell me of your perpetual exile, and of your never
returning to this country? I hope that as this idea arose from the bad
state of your health, it will vanish on your recovery; which, from your
past experience, you may expect from those happier climates to which you
are retiring; after which the desire of revisiting your native country
will probably return upon you, unless the superior cheapness of foreign
countries prove an obstacle, and detain you there. I could wish that
means had been fallen on to remove this objection; and that at least it
might be equal to you to live any where, except where the consideration
of your health gave the preference to one climate above another. But the
indifference of ministers towards literature, which has been long, and
indeed always, the case in England, gives little prospect of any
alteration in this particular.

"I am sensible of your great partiality, in the good opinion you express
towards me; but it gives me no less pleasure than if it were founded on
the greatest truth, for I accept it as a pledge of your good will and
friendship. I wish an opportunity of showing my sense of it may present
itself during your absence. I assure you I should embrace it with great
alacrity, and you need have no scruple, on every occasion, of having
recourse to me. I am, my dear sir, with great esteem and sincerity, your
most obedient, and most humble servant," &c.[420:1]

Of the following remarkable letter, the first paragraph, relating to the
success of John Home's new play, has already been published.[420:2] The
remainder will probably be as surprising to the reader as it is new. It
is very evident that Hume exercised towards the great Chatham, Dr.
Johnson's virtue of honest hatred. There was indeed little love lost
between these great contemporaries; for Chatham fiercely attacked the
constitutional doctrines of the History of England, and Hume looked upon
the national idol as an unprincipled demagogue. The words with which
the observations on the Douglas cause conclude, are evidence of the
contempt which, amidst all his Tory prepossessions, Hume preserved for
merely hereditary rank, and indeed for all nominal and outward marks of
distinction, which were not allied to intellectual superiority.


"_Park Place, London, 28th March, 1769._

"DEAR DOCTOR,--'The Fatal Discovery' succeeded, and deserved it. It has
feeling, though not equal to 'Douglas,' in my opinion. The versification
of it is not enough finished. Our friend escaped by lying concealed; but
the success of all plays in this age is very feeble; and people now heed
the theatre almost as little as the pulpit.[421:1] History now is the
favourite reading, and our other friend[421:2] the favourite historian.
Nothing can be more successful than his last production; nor more
deservedly. I agree with you, it is beyond his first performance, as was
indeed natural to be expected. I hope, for a certain reason, which I
keep to myself, that he does not intend, in his third work, to go beyond
his second, though I am damnably afraid he will, for the subject is much
more interesting. Neither the character of Charles V., nor the incidents
of his life, are very interesting; and, were it not for the first
volume, the success of this work, though perfectly well writ, would not
have been so shining.

"This madness about Wilkes excited first indignation, then apprehension;
but has gone to such a height that all other sentiments with me are
buried in ridicule. This exceeds the absurdity of Titus Gates and the
Popish plot: and is so much more disgraceful to the nation, as the
former folly, being derived from religion, flowed from a source which
has from uniform prescription acquired a right to impose nonsense on all
nations and all ages. But the present extravagance is peculiar to
ourselves, and quite risible. However, I am afraid my mirth will soon be
spoilt, and affairs become quite serious; for I am well assured that
Lord Chatham will, after the holidays, creep out from his retreat and
appear on the scene.

     Depositis novus exuviis, nitidusque juventâ,
     Volvitur ad solem et linguis micat ore trisulcis.

"I know not if I cite Virgil exactly,[422:1] but I am sure I apply him
right. This villain is to thunder against the violation of the Bill of
Rights in not allowing the county of Middlesex the choice of its
member! Think of the impudence of that fellow,[423:1] and his
quackery--and his cunning--and his audaciousness: and judge of the
influence he will have over such a deluded multitude.

"I was struck with a very sensible indignation at the decision of the
Douglas cause,[423:2] though I foresaw it for some time. It was
abominable with regard to poor Andrew Stuart, who had conducted that
cause with singular ability and integrity; and was at last exposed to
reproach, which unfortunately never can be wiped off. For the cause,
though not in the least intricate, is so complicated, that it never will
be reviewed by the public, who are besides perfectly pleased with the
sentence; being swayed by compassion and a few popular topics. To one
who understands the cause as I do, nothing could appear more scandalous
than the pleadings of the two law lords. Such gross misrepresentation,
such impudent assertions, such groundless imputations, never came from
that place. But all was good enough for their audience; who, bating
their quality, are most of them little better than their brethren the
Wilkites in the streets.

"I am very much obliged to you for giving me the acquaintance of your
cousin, Mr. Blair,[423:3] who seems, indeed, to me, a very accomplished
young man. The death of your brother-in-law is a great loss to you, and
even to us all. I comprehend myself; for I intend to visit you soon, and
for good and all. Indeed, I know not what detains me here, except that
it is so much a matter of indifference where I live; and I am amused
with looking on the scene, which really begins to be interesting. I had
taken one of Allan Ramsay's houses;[424:1] but gave it up again, on the
representation of some of my friends in Edinburgh, who said that a
house, on the north side of a high hill, in the 56th degree of latitude,
could not be healthful. But I now repent it, though I have my old house
to retreat to till I get a better. I am glad you like my nephew. He is,
indeed, clever, though, I am afraid, a little giddy.[424:2]"

Andrew Stuart, who is noticed in the preceding letter, and has
frequently been referred to in Hume's correspondence, was a man of great
talent. His letters to Lord Mansfield, on the Douglas cause, remarkable
for their solemn asperity, belong to a species of literature, of which
the English language scarcely boasts of any other instance,--a
systematic and serious arraignment of the conduct of a Judge in the
highest court in the realm, by the law agent of a litigant! Stuart
conducted the investigations in France, on which the evidence that the
children said to be born to Lady Jane Douglas were spurious, was
founded; and from the strange circumstances brought forward in the
evidence, we can imagine that, if Stuart had left a diary of his
adventures and inquiries, few works of fiction could be more
interesting. His arraignment of the judge was accompanied by an act
almost equally anomalous: his challenging the counsel on the other
side--who was Mr. Wedderburn, afterwards Lord Loughborough--on account
of the manner in which his conduct had been spoken of in the appeal
case. The challenge was accepted; but neither party was wounded. From
occasional allusions, in Hume's correspondence, he and Stuart appear to
have been early friends; and many of the letters, which he preserved,
within a few years of his death, are from Stuart, who, occasionally,
appears to write in acknowledgment of pecuniary advances. Among Hume's
papers, there is a letter, of which the address has not been preserved,
but in which there is a note, in Baron Hume's handwriting, that it was,
"respecting his friend Stuart--Andrew, I suppose." The letter has a
sufficient interest in itself. It is as follows:--

"MY DEAR SIR,--Nothing can be more just than the sentiment you have
expressed in your letter. I am to be envied for having had it in my
power to contribute to the happiness of the best man, and the most
intimate friend I have ever had in the world. There is nothing else in
the possession of a fortune that deserves the least envy or the least
consideration. Every man is independent who thinks himself so. But every
man has not been blessed with such a friend, or with the power of
showing, in some small degree, the value he puts upon worth, delicacy,
attachment, and ability like his. It adds to my happiness not a little,
that your sentiments coincide so entirely with mine. You have known
Stuart enough to value him as much as I do; and he has too much
discernment not to put the same high value upon you, which you have
commanded from every one of your friends."

Hume received a letter from the Abbé Morellet, dated 15th May
1769,[426:1] requesting him to accept of a copy of his forthcoming
"Prospectus d'un Nouveau Dictionnaire de Commerce;" and to distribute
some others among a list of names, including those of Adam Smith and
Benjamin Franklin. The comprehensive work of which the Abbé thus
developed what he considered the proper principles, was never written by
him. He was too much occupied with fugitive literature, and the
absorbing politics of the time, to be able seriously to pursue a project
involving so much steady industry. Hume answered as follows:--


     _London, 10th July, 1769._

     That part of your prospectus, in which you endeavour to prove
     that there enters nothing of human convention in the
     establishment of money, is certainly very curious, and very
     elaborately composed; and yet I cannot forbear thinking that
     the common opinion has some foundation. It is true, money must
     always be made of some materials, which have intrinsic value,
     otherwise it would be multiplied without end, and would sink
     to nothing. But, when I take a shilling, I consider it not as
     a useful metal, but as something which another will take from
     me; and the person who shall convert it into metal is,
     probably, several millions of removes distant. You know that
     all states have made it criminal to melt their coin; and,
     though this is a law which cannot well be executed, it is not
     to be supposed that, if it could, it would entirely destroy
     the value of the money, according to your hypothesis. You have
     a base coin, called billon, in France, composed of silver and
     copper, which has a ready currency, though the separation of
     the two metals, and the reduction of them to their primitive
     state, would, I am told, be both expensive and troublesome.
     Our shillings and sixpences, which are almost our only silver
     coin, are so much worn by use, that they are twenty, thirty,
     or forty per cent. below their original value; yet they pass
     currently; which can arise only from a tacit convention. Our
     colonies in America, for want of specie, used to coin a paper
     currency; which were not bank notes, because there was no
     place appointed to give money in exchange: yet this paper
     currency passed in all payments, by convention; and might have
     gone on, had it not been abused by the several assemblies, who
     issued paper without end, and thereby discredited the

     You mention several kinds of money, sheep, oxen, fish,
     employed as measures of exchange, or as money, in different
     parts of the world. You have overlooked that, in our colony of
     Pennsylvania, the land itself, which is the chief commodity,
     is coined, and passes in circulation. The manner of conducting
     this affair is as follows:--A planter, immediately after he
     purchases any land, can go to a public office and receive
     notes to the amount of half the value of his land; which notes
     he employs in all payments, and they circulate through the
     whole colony, by convention. To prevent the public from being
     overwhelmed by this fictitious money, there are two means
     employed--first, the notes issued to any one planter, must not
     exceed a certain sum, whatever may be the value of his land:
     secondly, every planter is obliged to pay back into the public
     office every year one-tenth part of his notes; the whole, of
     course, is annihilated in ten years; after which, it is again
     allowed him to take out new notes to half the value of his
     land. An account of this curious operation would enrich your
     dictionary; and you may have a more particular detail of it,
     if you please, from Dr. Franklin, who will be in Paris about
     this time, and will be glad to see you. I conveyed to him your
     prospectus, and he expressed to me a great esteem of it.

     I see that, in your prospectus, you take care not to disoblige
     your economists, by any declaration of your sentiments; in
     which I commend your prudence. But I hope that in your work
     you will thunder them, and crush them, and pound them, and
     reduce them to dust and ashes! They are, indeed, the set of
     men the most chimerical and most arrogant that now exist,
     since the annihilation of the Sorbonne. I ask your pardon for
     saying so, as I know you belong to that venerable body. I
     wonder what could engage our friend, M. Turgot, to herd among
     them; I mean, among the economists; though I believe he was
     also a Sorbonnist.

     I sent your prospectus to Dr. Tucker, but have not heard from
     him since. I shall myself deliver copies to Dr. Robertson and
     Mr. Smith, as I go to Scotland this autumn.

     And now, my dear Abbé, what remains to me but to wish you
     success in your judicious labours? to embrace you, and through
     you, to embrace all our common friends, D'Alembert, Helvétius,
     Buffon, Baron d'Holbach, Suard, Mlle. L'Espinasse? Poor Abbé
     Le Bon is dead, I hear. The Abbé Galliani goes to Naples: he
     does well to leave Paris before I come thither; for I should
     certainly put him to death for all the ill he has spoken of
     England. But it has happened, as was foretold by his friend,
     Caraccioli; who said that the Abbé would remain two months in
     this country, would speak all himself, would not allow an
     Englishman to utter a syllable; and after returning would give
     the character of the nation during the rest of his life, as if
     he were perfectly well acquainted with them.

     Pray make my compliments to M. Maletête. Tell him, that Prince
     Masserane says, that he has saved much effusion of blood to
     this country. It is certain that M. Maletête had a great
     curiosity to see a riot here, and yet was resolved to keep his
     person in safety. For this purpose, he hired a window; and
     proposed to be present at one of the mad elections of Wilkes,
     and to divert himself with the fray. Somebody got a hint of
     it, and put it into the newspapers; asking the freeholders if
     they were so degenerate as to make themselves a laughing
     stock, even to the French, their enemies, whom they despised.
     Prince Masserane alleges that this incident made that election
     so remarkably peaceable!

     Are you acquainted with Crébillon? I am ashamed to mention his
     name. He sent me over his last work, with a very obliging
     letter: but as I must write to him in French, I have never
     answered him. If all the English were as impertinent as I am,
     the Abbé Galliani would have reason to abuse us.--I am, dear
     Abbé, after asking your blessing, yours sincerely.[428:1]

"I returned to Edinburgh in 1769," says Hume in his "own Life," "very
opulent, (for I possessed a revenue of £1000 a-year) healthy, and though
somewhat stricken in years, with the prospect of enjoying long my ease,
and of seeing the increase of my reputation." He had thus finally
triumphed over the temptations which assailed him abroad, and resolved
to spend the remainder of his days among the friends of his youth. He
had received very strong solicitations from Madame de Boufflers and
others, to take up his abode at Paris. In one letter she informs him
that there is a house prepared for him in the Temple, and another with a
large garden near the Bois de Boulogne.[429:1] To these pressing offers
he seems not to have trusted himself with rendering a direct answer,
leaving his projects undefined, until, by returning to Edinburgh, he
rendered the acceptance of such invitations impracticable. Fairly
re-established in his old house in James's Court, and enjoying its
magnificent prospect, we find him thus writing to Smith:--


"_James's Court, 20th August, 1769._

"DEAR SMITH,--I am glad to have come within sight of you, and to have a
view of Kirkaldy from my windows: but as I wish also to be within
speaking terms of you, I wish we could concert measures for that
purpose. I am mortally sick at sea, and regard with horror, and a kind
of hydrophobia, the great gulf[429:2] that lies between us. I am also
tired of travelling; as much as you ought naturally to be of staying at
home. I therefore propose to you to come hither, and pass some days with
me in this solitude. I want to know what you have been doing; and
propose to exact a rigorous account of the method in which you have
employed yourself during your retreat. I am positive you are in the
wrong in many of your speculations, especially where you have the
misfortune to differ from me. All these are reasons for our meeting, and
I wish you would make me some reasonable proposal for that purpose.
There is no habitation on the island of Inchkeith, otherwise I should
challenge you to meet me on that spot, and neither of us ever to leave
the place, till we were fully agreed on all points of controversy. I
expect General Conway here to morrow, whom I shall attend to Roseneath,
and I shall remain there a few days. On my return, I expect to find a
letter from you, containing a bold acceptance of this defiance. I am,
dear Smith, yours sincerely."[430:1]

The letters addressed to Hume at this time, show that he had made
inquiries with the view of continuing the education of his nephews at
one of the English universities. The following letter explains the
reason why this plan was not adopted.


"_Edinburgh, 16th October, 1769._

"DEAR SIR GILBERT,--I am very much obliged to you for the pains you have
taken to give me an account of your sons' expenses and management at
Oxford. I found my brother undetermined, or rather averse, to the
project. He thinks his son rather inclines to be dissipated and idle;
and believes that a year or two at Oxford would confirm him thoroughly
in that habit, without any other advantage than the acquiring of a
little better pronunciation; for this reason he seems rather inclined to
try him a year in the Law College here, before he makes him so much his
own master.

"I have been settled here two months, and am here body and soul, without
casting the least thought of regret to London, or even to Paris. I think
it improbable that I shall ever in my life cross the Tweed, except
perhaps a jaunt to the north of England, for health or amusement. I live
still, and must for a twelvemonth, in my old house in James's Court,
which is very cheerful, and even elegant, but too small to display my
great talent for cookery, the science to which I intend to addict the
remaining years of my life! I have just now lying on the table before
me, a receipt for making _soupe à la reine_, copied with my own hand:
for beef and cabbage, (a charming dish,) and old mutton, and old claret,
nobody excels me. I make also sheep-head broth, in a manner that Mr.
Keith speaks of it for eight days after; and the Duc de Nivernois would
bind himself apprentice to my lass to learn it. I have already sent a
challenge to David Moncreif: you will see that in a twelvemonth he will
take to the writing of history, the field I have deserted; for as to the
giving of dinners, he can now have no further pretensions. I should have
made a very bad use of my abode in Paris, if I could not get the better
of a mere provincial like him. All my friends encourage me in this
ambition; as thinking it will redound very much to my honour.

"I am delighted to see the daily and hourly progress of madness, and
folly, and wickedness in England. The consummation of these qualities
are the true ingredients for making a fine narrative in history,
especially if followed by some signal and ruinous convulsion,--as I
hope will soon be the case with that pernicious people! He must be a
very bad cook indeed, who cannot make a palatable dish from the whole.
You see in my reflexions and allusions, I shall mix my old and new
professions together. I am, dear Sir Gilbert, your most obedient humble
servant," &c.[432:1]


"_Edinburgh, 5th February, 1770._

"DEAR SIR GILBERT,--I do not know whether you be good for any thing, or
at all worth the applying to; I rather suspect not: but in case you are,
I make you the following application in favour of Christopher Tate,
probationer, who was tutor to my nephews. You know I resigned my
pretensions on the presentation of Humbie to your nephew's tutor; but
under promise, that you would assist me in a like case. This kirk is a
king's presentation; it is within your county, and I very earnestly
desire success in this application, and trust much to your friendship in

"The last unexpected incident strikes us mute with astonishment; either
the Duke of Grafton is much to blame for leaving us so abruptly in so
very critical a time, or a greater than he, if he got any just cause for
it. I carry my view to very dismal consequences, especially as I suspect
the last to be the case. I fancy we shall have curious scenes, worthy
the pen of the greatest historian. I am tired and disgusted with
conjecture. My compliments to Lady Elliot. Believe me to be very
sincerely, your affectionate humble servant," &c.[432:2]

To Smith, whose "Wealth of Nations" was now supposed to be nearly ready
for the press, we find the following letter:--

"_6th February, 1770._

"What is the meaning of this, dear Smith, which we hear, that you are
not to be here above a day or two, on your passage to London? How can
you so much as entertain a thought of publishing a book full of reason,
sense, and learning, to those wicked abandoned madmen?

"I suppose you have not yet got over your astonishment at this most
astonishing resignation. For my part, I knew not at first whether to
throw the blame on the Duke or the King; but I now find it is entirely
and completely the Duke's own; and I think him dishonoured for ever."

This refers to the Duke of Grafton's resignation, of which he proceeds
to quote an account from "a very good hand," prophesying tranquillity
and the restoration of confidence.

"So far my friend--whose prophecy I hope will be fulfilled; though, for
my part, I am rather inclined to give myself up to despair. Nothing but
a rebellion and bloodshed will open the eyes of that deluded people;
though, were they alone concerned, I think it is no matter what becomes
of them."[433:1]

In the following letter, we have a farther, and a very strong instance
of Hume's dislike of the English as a people. We find him again busy in
sifting his History of all remains of popular principles; and there is a
tone throughout the letter, as if it were satisfactory to him to be able
to overturn the objects of popular idolatry, which a people he so
heartily disliked had endeavoured to set up, in the alleged antiquity of
their constitution.


"_Edinburgh, 21st February, 1770._

"DEAR SIR GILBERT,--I am glad of your victories; though I look upon them
all as temporary and imperfect, like the fallacious recoveries of a
hectic person, who is hastening to his dissolution. Our government has
become a chimera, and is too perfect, in point of liberty, for so rude a
beast as an Englishman; who is a man, a bad animal too, corrupted by
above a century of licentiousness. The misfortune is, that this liberty
can scarcely be retrenched without danger of being entirely lost; at
least the fatal effects of licentiousness must first be made palpable,
by some extreme mischief resulting from it. I may wish that the
catastrophe should rather fall on our posterity; but it hastens on with
such large strides, as leave little room for this hope.

"I am running over again the last edition of my History, in order to
correct it still further. I either soften or expunge many villanous,
seditious Whig strokes, which had crept into it. I wish that my
indignation at the present madness, encouraged by lies, calumnies,
imposture, and every infamous act usual among popular leaders, may not
throw me into the opposite extreme. I am, however, sensible that the
first editions were too full of those foolish English prejudices, which
all nations and all ages disavow.

"The present firm conduct of the king, and his manly resentment, afford
some glimpse of hope. We, at a distance, are not acquainted with these
matters; and few even at London; but there still appears something
mysterious in the Duke of Grafton's resignation. I hope it proceeded
only from his discontents with Bedford House.

"But I detain you too long. I shall only conclude, that, though I reckon
myself among the _sepoliti_, I cannot forbear expressing my hearty good
wishes to your cause and you. I am, very sincerely, dear Sir Gilbert,
your obliged humble servant."[435:1]

"_Edinburgh, 5th April, 1770._

"I am sorry to inform you, that all we statesmen in this town condemn
loudly the conduct of you statesmen in London, especially in allowing
those insolent rascals, the mayor and sheriffs, to escape with impunity.
We were much disappointed not to find them impeached, and a bill of
pains and penalties passed upon them. The tumults which might have
ensued in London, we thought rather an advantage; as it would give
government an opportunity of chastising that abominable rabble. But you
have thought otherwise; and it is pretended that these lenient maxims
are succeeding; that faction abates, the tide turns, and the heroes of
opposition are in despair. I am heartily glad of it: but this is a new
experiment to reconcile such extreme license with government; and if, in
a case where popular complaints had not the smallest shadow of pretence,
the king and parliament have prevailed, after a long struggle, and with
much difficulty, what must it be, where there is some plausible
appearance, and perhaps some real ground of complaint, such as it is
natural to expect in all governments? However, I repeat it, I am glad of
the present appearance of tranquillity; and, indeed, distant dangers are
not to be too anxiously provided against. I am," &c.

Hume seems to have now commenced the building of the house, in the New
Town of Edinburgh, in which he died. It was the commencement of the
street leading southward from St. Andrew's Square, now called St. David


"_Edinburgh, 2d October, 1770._

"DEAR BARON,--I am sorry that I should correspond so ill to your very
obliging letter, by telling you, that I cannot propose to see you till
you come to town next winter. I am engaged in the building a house,
which is the second great operation of human life: for the taking a wife
is the first, which I hope will come in time; and by being present, I
have already prevented two capital mistakes, which the mason was falling
into; and I shall be apprehensive of his falling into more, were I to be
at a distance. I must therefore renounce the hopes of seeing you at your
own house this autumn, which, I assure [you,] I do with much regret. My
compliments to Mrs. Mure and the young ladies. Please tell Miss Kitty,
that my coat is much admired, even before I tell that it is her livery.
For her sake I shall be careful that it never meet with any such
accident, as the last. I am, dear Baron, yours very sincerely.[436:2]

"P.S.--Mr. Moore's verses are really very elegant."


[383:1] In the conclusion of Hume's letter to Dr. Blair, of 27th May,
1767, cited above, there is the following paragraph:--

"Pray, how has the General Assembly passed? I have had a long letter
from Mass David Dickson, complaining of your injustice. Has John Home
any thoughts of coming up? Tell Robertson that the compliment, at the
end of General Conway's letter to him, was of my composing, without any
orders from him. He smiled when he read it, but said it was very proper,
and signed it. These are not bad puffs from ministers of state, as the
silly world goes." I inferred from this that the letter in question was
the King's letter to the General Assembly of 1767; but I find no
allusion to Robertson in that document, and am not aware of any letter,
generally known at the period, which answers the above description. It
is clear that Hume refers to some official communication from the
secretary of state. The letter from Dickson is a long complaint about
the conduct of some judicatories as to a forgotten church dispute. It
begins with the statement;--"I am informed that His Majesty's letter to
the General Assembly, of this year, is issued from the secretary's
office, under your direction." As it is pretty generally believed that
the policy of the Home-office, in its communications with the Church of
Scotland, was directed by Hume, during the period when he was under
secretary, the following extract from the King's letter to the General
Assembly, in 1767, is given, that the reader may judge for himself
whether the style and matter are characteristic of Hume's pen:--

"Convinced, as we are, of your prudence and firm resolution to concur in
whatever may promote the happiness of our subjects, it is unnecessary
for us to recommend to you to avoid contentious and unedifying debates;
as well as to avoid every thing that may tend to disturb that harmony
and tranquillity which is so essential in councils solely calculated for
the suppression of every species of licentiousness, irreligion, and
vice. And, as we have the firmest reliance on your zeal in the support
of the Christian faith, as well as in the wisdom and prudence of your
councils, we are thoroughly assured that they will be directed to such
purposes as may best tend to enforce a conscientious observance of all
those duties which the true religion, and laws of this kingdom require,
and on which the felicity of every individual so essentially

     [383:A] MS. R.S.E.

[385:1] MS. R.S.E.

[385:2] See above, p. 56.

[386:1] MS. R.S.E.

[386:2] MS. R.S.E.

[388:1] MS. R.S.E.

[388:2] John Oswald, brother of Mr. Oswald of Dunnikier, who was
translated from the see of Dromore to that of Raphoe in 1763.

[390:1] MS. R.S.E.

[392:1] Copies in R.S.E. The originals are in possession of Colonel

[392:2] _Literary Gazette_, 1822, p. 666. Original, MS. R.S.E.

[393:1] MS. R.S.E.

[394:1] MS. R.S.E.

[395:1] MS. R.S.E.

[395:2] MS. R.S.E.

[396:1] _Literary Gazette_. MS. R.S.E.

[397:1] MS. R.S.E.

[398:1] MS. R.S.E.

[398:2] An early acquaintance with this characteristic, might have saved
the present writer some fruitless investigations.

[399:1] There are two letters from Blacklock to Hume, remarkably
characteristic of the timid and excitable character of the blind genius.
After an exordium on the tone which he hopes their intercourse will
maintain, full of nervous susceptibility; the fear of being too profuse
in correspondence alternating with the dread that he may be thought
cold, negligent, or ungrateful; he gives an account of the education of
his pupil, Joseph, and then turns towards his own dark prospects.

"It was not indeed without some fear that I undertook the office. The
vivacity of his disposition, and even the quickness of his genius,
inspired me with terror that I should not be able to manage the one, or
make any lasting impression upon the other. But how agreeable was my
disappointment to find his temper, though lively, extremely amiable and
flexible, and his apprehension, though quick, yet distinct and
retentive. He applies with a diligence not often found in people of his
age and character. As during this winter we had a pretty numerous
family, most of whom were gentlemen of parts and spirit, I have seen
numberless instances in which his passions, though warm and sensible,
were governed with a discretion worthy of mature age and experience, yet
in such a manner as to preserve his dignity, and betray no degree of
complaisance unworthy of his spirit, or inconsistent with his ingenuity.
You cannot imagine but such an object must pre-engage every susceptible
heart. He is really admired by all the young gentlemen of our family who
know him. I love him, and Mrs. Blacklock doats on him; yet there are
not, perhaps, two in the human species who have it in their power to vex
me in the same degree, if at any time he should be more remiss and
careless than usual. He is now reading French with Mons{r} Cauvin, and
the Satires of Horace, and Homer's Iliad, with me.

"Mr. Alexander's account of my situation, in general, was right. I have
indeed got clear of a parish where I could have never been happy, even
though their malice had been less implacable than I found it. But when I
left that vindictive place, my poetical vanity was not quite
extinguished; and it is natural for those who have felt the oppressive
hand of unprovoked injury, to expect a kinder and more human reception,
where civility, politeness, and gentler manners prevail. These
sentiments, too sanguinely indulged, might perhaps have raised my hopes
too high, and taught me to anticipate a greater degree of notice from
the people of taste and learning in this place, than I have either
obtained or deserved. Be that as it will, I am at present almost an
absolute recluse; and when I meet with any of the virtuosi in public
places, (where, indeed, I do not commonly appear,) their behaviour seems
more cool and reserved than I could have thought. Not that all my
self-importance can flatter me with any degree of merit in this way; but
surely it was not unnatural to hope the enterprises which I attempted in
the circumstances in which I was involved, might have attracted some
degree of attention, and impressed some faint prepossessions in my
favour, when not opposed by any vice or immorality in my character. For
these reasons, as well as the private and disinterested attachment of my
heart, you will naturally imagine the pleasure I feel from the prospect
of your arrival in Edinburgh, and from my promised intercourse with one,
who, though he might do honour to the republic of letters in any period,
yet descends to honour me with the name of a FRIEND."

In the other letter, dated 2d May, 1767, he states that he has been
overworking himself; and says, "My old nervous complaints have been like
to return, and unhinge all our schemes; but, thank God, they are a
little better again." He then details, with some minuteness, the reasons
for feeling that his pecuniary prospects are precarious; and ascribes
his exertions to his wish "to do something, if possible, for these
approaching contingencies," which, he says, "the natural gloom" of his
mind has made "not very distant." He continues:--

"You was so kind as hint your friendly intention towards a church
settlement. That, I begin to think, I am unfit to encounter with again;
for the ten thousand hardships and disagreeable things which I met with
in my short but dear-bought experience of that kind of life, brought me
a great way on in my journey down hill; so that if any one of them
should again occur in another trial, I would certainly soon reach the
foot of the precipice. This event is matter of no great thought to
myself, but as it may concern one not undeservedly dear to me."

These letters are written with great precision, in a small, neat,
regular hand; and, though duly signed, "Thos. Blacklock," it is clear
that they cannot be the penmanship of their sightless author.

Appended to the second, and in a bolder and more masculine looking hand,
is the following:--

"Mrs. Blacklock begs leave to offer her compliments to Mr. Hume,
herself; and to supplicate some easy thing, if it can be procured,
(without giving Mr. Hume much trouble,) for her friend, whom she has
been a good deal apprehensive for this spring, by reason of his close
study. Our college has acquired a new professor for natural history. Do
you think one for poetry could be added, with a moderate salary to
it?"--MSS. R.S.E.

[401:1] The dates of the births of John Home's children, as entered in
the Kirk-session Record of Chirnside, are:--Joseph, 24th June, 1752;
John, 21st April, 1754; Helen, 22d August, 1755; David, 27th February,
1757; John, 29th April, 1758; Catherine, 9th November, 1760; Agnes, 7th
October, 1763; Agatha, 31st December, 1764. His wife was Agnes Carre,
daughter of Robert Carre of Cavers, in Roxburghshire.

[402:1] "Hume carried the torch into all the recesses of actual
practice. He not only made himself familiar with all the scattered
matter that had been published, though much of it had been hid in places
not commonly explored; but he was the very first who went systematically
to the records, and filtered these fountain heads."--_Ed. Rev._, January
1846, p. 197.

[404:1] MS. R.S.E.

[405:1] A comparison of the two brothers, Joseph and David, is thus made
by their father in a letter to his brother of 21st November, 1768. He
begins with David: "He still shows the same talents and temper, and an
attention and keenness for what he is employed about, and might go very
far in any profession if he was properly directed, and quite in a
different manner from any of the rest, particularly from Josey, whose
trifling superficial talents makes him never apply to any thing
thoroughly, nor do I ever expect he will. He this winter is at Mr.
Ferguson and Blair's classes, and the Italian, which completes his
university education. I am totally at a loss what to do with him after.
Law will never do with him. The army he inclines not to, though that, as
he has address and behaviour, is best calculated for him."--MS. R.S.E.

[406:1] _Scots Magazine_, 1807, p. 247.

[406:2] Sir Gilbert had succeeded to the baronetcy on the death of his
father, in 1766.

[407:1] Minto MSS.

[408:1] This is probably in allusion to Wilkes having obtained his
verdict of £1000 damages against the Secretary of State for the seizure
of his papers.

[408:2] Minto MSS.

[409:1] A Scottish artist, whose productions are known to collectors,
but who has not been handed down to posterity by the critics and

[409:2] MS. R.S.E.

[409:3] Milman's edition of Gibbon's Life, p. 216.

[410:1] Deyverdun had (in a letter, MS. R.S.E.) acknowledged himself to
be the author of an attack on Rousseau, which the latter attributed to

[411:1] MS. R.S.E.

[412:1] Life of Gibbon.

[413:1] Stewart's Life of Robertson.

[414:1] The "Philosophical Essays" were not written by Sir David
Dalrymple, as here hinted, but as Sir Gilbert explains, by James
Balfour, who has already been mentioned, (see vol. i. p. 160, 345.) The
Essays were mainly directed against Kaimes' "Essays on Morality and
Natural Religion."

[415:1] Minto MSS.

[416:1] MS. R.S.E. I can find no light on the meaning of the words "love

[417:1] Mr. Home was a very cautious farmer, and carried his dislike of
novelties and innovations to the unprecedented extent of declining the
higher rents he might have obtained from enterprising tenants.

[418:1] Minto MSS.

[419:1] MS. R.S.E.

[419:2] Perhaps a false transcript for Hagley, the seat of Lord

[420:1] _Scots Mag._, 1807, p. 248.

[420:2] In Mackenzie's Account of Home.

[421:1] Blair, writing on 11th March, says,--

"I long exceedingly to hear of the success of 'The Fatal Discovery,' and
am much pleased with what I have already heard. I read it a twelvemonth
ago, and thought highly of it. I will not pronounce it quite equal to
'Douglas,' but inferior only to it. Mr. Garrick told me, when last in
London, that he approved highly of it, and sent a message to the author
by me, advising him to take measures for bringing it on. I am infinitely
diverted with the trick which our friend has played to John concerning
it. How foolish will he look when he finds how he has been imposed on. I
beseech you write me how it goes on with the public."

[421:2] Dr. Robertson, of whom Blair says in the letter above cited:

"What an excellent performance has Robertson given us. What a treasure
of curious and instructive historical information! I think it much
superior to his former work. He is a little deaf at present, which I
have told him is a thorn in the flesh wisely sent him, that he may not
be too much lifted up with hearing the voice of applause. Your History
of England, and his as an introduction to the History of Europe, form a
perfect historical library. I congratulate myself on living in an age,
when our own country and our friends have done such honour to
literature. For myself I continue piddling still about my Lectures."

[422:1] Not very. The lines he intended to cite are:

     Cum positis novus exuviis, nitidusque juventâ
     Volvitur, aut catulos tectis aut ova relinquens
     Arduus ad solem, et linguis micat ore trisulcis.

[423:1] It is possible that the words "that fellow," apply to Wilkes,
but the context makes it more likely that they are intended for Chatham.

[423:2] The decision was given on 27th February, 1769.

[423:3] Apparently Robert Blair, afterwards Lord President of the Court
of Session. Dr. Blair, in his letter of introduction, says:--

"He is one of the most accomplished and most promising young men who,
for some time, have appeared at the bar; and will certainly go very high
in his profession. His reputation, in that line, is already far
advanced; and he has, besides this, many great virtues, both as a man
and a scholar. As he is my near relation, he has been, all along, my
pupil; and I have great credit in him."

[424:1] The line of houses, near the castle of Edinburgh, called Ramsay
Gardens. His friend, Mrs. Cockburn, strongly dissuaded him from living
in this part of the town.

[424:2] MS. R.S.E.

[426:1] MS. R.S.E.

[428:1] _New Monthly Magazine_, original series, No. 72.

[429:1] MS. R.S.E.

[429:2] The Firth of Forth.

[430:1] _Literary Gazette_, 1822, p. 691. Collated with original MS.

[432:1] Minto MSS.

[432:2] Minto MSS.

[433:1] MS. R.S.E.

[435:1] Minto MSS.

[436:1] When the house was built, and inhabited by Hume, but while yet
the street, of which it was the commencement, had no name, a witty young
lady, daughter of Baron Ord, chalked on the wall, the words "ST. DAVID
STREET." The allusion was very obvious. Hume's "lass," judging that it
was not meant in honour or reverence, ran into the house much excited,
to tell her master how he was made game of. "Never mind, lassie," he
said; "many a better man has been made a saint of before."

[436:2] MS. R.S.E.


1771-1776. Æt. 60-65.

     Hume's social character--His conversation--His disposition--
     Traditional anecdotes regarding him--Correspondence--Letter
     about the Pretender--Gilbert Stuart's quarrel with Dr. Henry--
     Commercial State of Scotland--Letter to his nephew on
     Republicanism--Smith's "Wealth of Nations"--Hume's illness--
     His Will--Smith appointed Literary Executor--Strahan
     substituted--His journey to England with Home--Prospects of
     Death--Communications with his Friends and Relations--His
     Death--General view of his influence on Thought and Action.

It is to the period from the year 1770 to his death, when he lived among
his early friends in Edinburgh, that we ought to refer such traditional
accounts of Hume's private life and social habits, as are not expressly
connected with any known event in his history. He was, it is true, a
distinguished man when he left his native city, in 1763. He had then,
indeed, performed all the services which entitled him to immortality.
But his foreign celebrity, and his official honours, had since added
many ostensible glories to his name, and introduced him to a wider
sphere of public notice than the substantial fruits of his genius and
industry would have of themselves secured. When we remember that this
was the most celebrated period of his life, and was the only one of
which persons who are still, or who have lately been alive, could have
any recollection, we naturally refer to it those traditional notices and
incidents which have no distinct place.

The impression of Hume's character, acquired by one who has sought it in
the tenor of his works, and the history of his literary career, is quite
different from that which we derive from those who knew him, and were
connected with the social circle in which he lived. The former is
solitary, self-relying, and unimpressible even to sternness; the latter
is good, easy, simple, social, and amenable to the sway of gentle
impulses. These two representations are not without a harmony of
principle. In all serious matters, in his projects of literary ambition,
in the philosophy he taught mankind, in all that was to connect him with
posterity and the intellectual destiny of the human race, he was
resolute and uncompromising. But the exhibition of his strength was
reserved for the arena of his triumphs; and in domestic and social
intercourse he put aside his helmet, with its nodding plumes; feeling,
that the intellectual exhibitions suited for _that_ sphere, should
spring from whatever Nature had bestowed on him of sweet, and peaceful,
and kind,--whatever was fitted to drive rancour or angry emulation from
the bosom, and to render life delightful. Hence, to appear in the social
circle as an intellectual gladiator, does not appear to have been his
wish; he was content if he gave himself and others pleasure.

This view of his character is confirmed by Mackenzie, who, when a young
man, enjoyed the high distinction of mingling in that group, of which he
was the principal figure.

     But the most illustrious of that circle was David Hume, who
     had a sincere affection for his poetical namesake,--an
     affection which was never abated during the life of that
     celebrated man. The unfortunate nature of his opinions with
     regard to the theoretical principles of moral and religious
     truth, never influenced his regard for men who held very
     opposite sentiments on those subjects; subjects which he
     never, like some vain and shallow sceptics, introduced into
     social discourse: On the contrary, when at any time the
     conversation tended that way, he was desirous rather of
     avoiding any serious discussion on matters which he wished to
     confine to the graver and less dangerous consideration of
     cool philosophy. He had, it might be said, in the language
     which the Grecian historian applies to an illustrious Roman,
     two minds; one which indulged in the metaphysical scepticism
     which his genius could invent, but which it could not always
     disentangle; another, simple, natural, and playful, which made
     his conversation delightful to his friends, and even
     frequently conciliated men whose principles of belief his
     philosophical doubts, if they had not power to shake, had
     grieved and offended. During the latter period of his life, I
     was frequently in his company amidst persons of genuine piety,
     and I never heard him venture a remark at which such men, or
     ladies, still more susceptible than men, could take

The late Lord Chief Commissioner Adam was another of the young men who
were so fortunate as to be admitted to this circle. In a curious little
collection of notices of eminent persons, called "The Gift of a
Grandfather," privately printed at his own press at Blair-Adam, he says
of Hume:

     He was an intimate friend and acquaintance: and in all the
     intercourse of life, and in all he said, and wrote, and did,
     when not employed in his unnecessary metaphysical scepticism
     (well named, by a friend of mine, intellectual rope-dancing,)
     was innocent, playful, and moral, and most natural in his
     conversation: equally pleasing and instructive to the young
     and old of both sexes. . . . . . . . . .

     His simple unaffected nature, and kindly disposition, exalted
     him as much as the singular powers of his mind, and his
     talents for expressing in writing what he contemplated--so
     well described by Gibbon, as careless inimitable beauties of
     style; which, when he read, he laid down the book in despair
     that he should ever be able to imitate them.

     I have before shown that he never introduced, in conversation,
     his abstruse or sceptical speculations; that all his
     sentiments were moral and natural and pleasing, and even
     playful in the extreme. This is evinced by his letters, which
     are perfect in their kind. He could bring himself down,
     without effort, to the most familiar playfulness with young
     persons, and particularly delighted in the conversation of
     youthful females.

     Mr. Hume was one of our constant visiters, making, as was the
     custom of those days, tea-time the hour of calling. In the
     summer he would often stroll to my father's beautiful villa of
     North Merchiston. On one occasion--I was then a boy of
     thirteen--he, missing my mother, made his tea-drinking good
     with two or three young ladies of eighteen or nineteen, (his
     acquaintances,) who were my mother's guests. I recollect
     perfectly how agreeably he talked to them; and my recollection
     has been rendered permanent by an occurrence which caused some
     mirth and no mischief.

     When the philosopher was amusing himself in conversation with
     the young ladies, the chair began to give way under him, and
     gradually brought him to the floor.

     The damsels were both alarmed and amused, when Mr. Hume,
     recovering himself, and getting upon his legs, said in his
     broad Scotch tone, but in English words, (for he never used
     Scotch,) "Young ladies, you must tell Mr. Adam to keep
     stronger chairs for heavy philosophers."

     This simple story is a good specimen of the man. He was above
     all affectation. I was a companion of his eldest nephew, and
     saw much of him when I was very young. As I grew up he used to
     invite me to dinner, and I took great delight in his
     conversation. I continued in and about Edinburgh long enough
     to be able to relish it, and perhaps to join in it. On one
     particular occasion I met him at tea at Professor Ferguson's;
     it was at the period of my attending Dr. Blair's class on
     rhetoric and belles lettres: their conversation became very
     interesting to me, as it bore upon subjects which had an
     affinity to what I was in the habit of hearing prelected upon.
     They discussed particularly the Henriade of Voltaire; they
     were not displeased with any want of brilliancy in the
     versification, but they condemned the choice of the subject.
     Mr. Hume said, "He should never choose for an epic poem
     history, the truth of which is well known; for no fiction can
     come up to the interest of the actual story and incidents of
     the singular life of Henry IV.;" and Professor Ferguson added,
     "What epic poet could improve upon the chivalrous life of
     Chevalier Bayard, or on the event of his extraordinary
     romantic death?"

"I always lived," says James Boswell, in a passage where he has to
record some of his great patron's expressions of contempt and dislike,
"on good terms with Mr. Hume, though I have frankly told him I was not
clear that it was right of me to keep company with him; 'but,' said I,
'how much better are you than your books!' He was cheerful, obliging,
and instructive. He was charitable to the poor;[441:1] and many an
agreeable hour have I passed with him."

The testimony which Adam Smith bore to his character and disposition, in
the letter which accompanies his autobiography, though so well known,
must not here be omitted.

     His temper seemed to be more happily balanced, if I may be
     allowed such an expression, than that perhaps of any other man
     I have ever known. Even in the lowest state of his fortune,
     his great and necessary frugality never hindered him from
     exercising, upon proper occasions, acts both of charity and
     generosity. It was a frugality founded, not upon avarice, but
     upon the love of independency. The extreme gentleness of his
     nature never weakened either the firmness of his mind, or the
     steadiness of his resolutions. His constant pleasantry was the
     genuine effusion of good nature and good humour; tempered with
     delicacy and modesty, and without even the slightest tincture
     of malignity, so frequently the disagreeable source of what is
     called wit in other men. It never was the meaning of his
     raillery to mortify; and, therefore, far from offending, it
     seldom failed to please and delight, even those who were the
     objects of it. To his friends, who were frequently the objects
     of it, there was not, perhaps, any one of all his great and
     amiable qualities which contributed more to endear his
     conversation. And that gaiety of temper, so agreeable in
     society, but which is so often accompanied with frivolous and
     superficial qualities, was, in him, certainly attended with
     the most severe application, the most extensive learning, the
     greatest depth of thought, and a capacity in every respect the
     most comprehensive. Upon the whole, I have always considered
     him, both in his lifetime, and since his death, as approaching
     as nearly to the idea of a perfectly wise and virtuous man,
     as, perhaps, the nature of human frailty will permit.

Of any description of his character, his own account of it must form a
material feature. The mere circumstance that a man should have thus
written about himself, is a noticeable element in his mental history. He
says, in his "own life:"

     To conclude, historically, with my own character. I am, or
     rather was, (for that is the style I must now use in speaking
     of myself, which emboldens me the more to speak my
     sentiments,)--I was, I say, a man of mild disposition, of
     command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour,
     capable of attachment, but little susceptible of enmity, and
     of great moderation in all my passions. Even my love of
     literary fame, my ruling passion, never soured my temper,
     notwithstanding my frequent disappointments. My company was
     not unacceptable to the young and careless, as well as to the
     studious and literary; and 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 a word, though
     most men, any wise eminent, have found reason to complain of
     calumny, I never was touched, or even attacked by her baleful
     tooth: and though I wantonly exposed myself to the rage of
     both civil and religious factions, they seemed to be disarmed,
     in my behalf, of their wonted fury. My friends never had
     occasion to vindicate any one circumstance of my character and
     conduct: not but that the zealots, we may well suppose, would
     have been glad to invent and propagate any story to my
     disadvantage, but they could never find any which they thought
     would wear the face of probability. I cannot say there is no
     vanity in making this funeral oration of myself, but I hope
     it is not a misplaced one; and this is a matter of fact which
     is easily cleared and ascertained.

We have here a generous testimony to the tolerant spirit of his age: And
yet his history and correspondence show, that he did not always feel
himself safe from the influence of political or polemical resentment. He
seemed, however, to take a pride in contrasting his own personal
reception, by the world, with that of his writings; the one being all
courtesy, the other all prejudice and dislike. A late eminent judge
remembered meeting him at dinner with Black, Smith, and others, a few
months before his death. Smith was speaking of the ingratitude,
perversity, and intolerance of human nature. Hume said he differed with
him. There was he, who had written on history, on politics, and on
morals--some said on divinity; yet, in discussing these exciting topics,
he had not made a single enemy; unless, indeed, all the Whigs, and all
the Tories, and all the Christians! As, in his playful conversation
among his intimate friends, he was inclined to indulge in practical
humour, he made the general unpopularity of his opinions a common theme
of amusement; picturesquely exaggerating the more offensive features,
and exhibiting them as bugbears to frighten the well-meaning. Asking his
friend, Clephane, to look for lodgings for him in London, he represents
the person who is to inhabit them as "a sober, discreet, virtuous,
frugal, regular, quiet, good-natured man--of a bad character." This "bad
character," he seems to have occasionally used as a method of gently
alarming innocent females. A lady, of strictly evangelical principles,
walking home from church, through a crowded part of Edinburgh, was
rather surprised by the zealous attention with which he proffered his
arm. After they had passed through the crowd, he gave his reason for
being so obsequious--it was, that she might be congratulated, by her
friends, on having been seen walking on Sunday with "Hume the Deist."
Mackenzie relates the following incident, which shows that he was not,
however, always proof against the effect of jocular attacks on his
principles by others.

     In the same _bonhommie_, Mr. Hume bore with perfect good
     nature the pleasantries which humorous deductions from his
     theoretical scepticisms sometimes produced. Once, I have been
     told, he was in a small degree ruffled by a witticism of Mr.
     John Home's, who, though always pleasant, and often lively,
     seldom produced what might be termed or repeated as wit. The
     clerk of an eminent banker in Edinburgh, a young man of
     irreproachable conduct, and much in the confidence of his
     master, eloped with a considerable sum with which he had been
     intrusted. The circumstance was mentioned at a dinner where
     the two Humes, the historian and the poet, and several of
     their usual friendly circle, were present. David Hume spoke of
     it as a kind of moral problem, and wondered what could induce
     a man of such character and habits as this clerk was said to
     possess, thus to incur, for an inconsiderable sum, the guilt
     and the infamy of such a transaction. "I can easily account
     for it," said his friend, John Home, "from the nature of his
     studies, and the kind of books which he was in the habit of
     reading." "What were they?" said the philosopher. "Boston's
     Fourfold State," rejoined the poet, "and Hume's Essays." David
     was more hurt by the joke than was usual with him; probably
     from the singular conjunction of the two works, which formed,
     according to his friend's account, the library of the
     unfortunate young man.[444:1]

As appropriate to his popularity among women and young people, the
following anecdotes from the pen of one who has gained no little
celebrity by her genius, cannot fail to give interest. They are
contained in a letter by Lady Anne Lindsay, authoress of the song _Auld
Robin Gray_, when she was a young lady living in her grandmother's house
in Edinburgh, to her sister Margaret:--

     Dinners go on as usual, which, being monopolized by the
     divines, wits, and writers of the present day, are not
     unjustly called the Dinners of the Eaterati, by Lord Kellie,
     who laughs at his own pun till his face is purple.

     Our friend, David Hume, along with his friend, Principal
     Robertson, continue to maintain their ground at these
     convivial meetings. To see the lion and the lamb lying down
     together, the deist and the doctor, is extraordinary; it makes
     one hope that some day Hume will say to him, "Thou almost
     persuadest me to be a Christian." He is a constant morning
     visiter of ours. My mother jested him lately on a circumstance
     which had a good deal of character in it.

     When we were very young girls, too young to remember the
     scene, there happened to be a good many clever people at
     Balcarres at Christmas; and as a gambol of the season, they
     agreed to write each his own character, to give them to Hume,
     and make him show them to my father, as extracts he had taken
     from the pope's library at Rome.[445:1]

     He did. My father said, "I don't know who the rest of your
     fine fellows and charming princesses are, Hume; but if you had
     not told me where you got _this_ character, I should have said
     it was that of my wife."

     "I was pleased," said my mother, "with my lord's answer, it
     showed that at least I had been an honest woman."

     "Hume's character of himself," said she, "was well drawn and
     full of candour; he spoke of himself as he ought;" but added,
     what surprised us all, that, "plain as his manners were, and
     apparently careless of attention, vanity was his predominant
     weakness. That vanity led him to publish his Essays, which he
     grieved over; not that he had changed his opinions, but that
     he thought he had injured society by disseminating them."

     "Do you remember the sequel of that affair?" said Hume.

     "Yes, I do," replied my mother, laughing: "you told me that,
     although I thought your character a sincere one, it was not
     so; there was a particular feature omitted that we were still
     ignorant of, and that you would add it; like a fool I gave you
     the manuscript, and you thrust it into the fire, adding, 'Oh,
     what an idiot I had nearly proved myself to be, to leave such
     a document in the hands of a parcel of women!'"

     "Villain!" said my mother, laughing, and shaking her head at

     "Do you remember all this, my little woman?" said Hume to me.

     "I was too young," said I, "to think of it at the time."

     "How's this? have not you and I grown up together?"

     I looked surprised.

     "Yes," added he, "you have grown tall, and I have grown

It may give us some farther idea of the refined simplicity that made his
conversation agreeable to intellectual and right thinking women, to
observe the manner in which he was addressed in the following very
lively letter from Lady Elliot Murray, the wife of his friend, Sir

     _Minto, 12th October, 1772._

     I am resolved to take the reins of government into my own
     hands. I don't know what has made me such a humble subservient
     animal hitherto. I will dictate from this time forth. I will
     give the law, and insist on an implicit obedience to my
     superior wisdom; for am I not wiser than the wisest? did I not
     foretell what has come to pass, that Mons. De Guigne would not
     reach Edinburgh before the middle of this week? and did I not
     prove my judgment surpassing that best of historians, who is a
     mere pedler in understanding to me? Had he taken my advice, he
     need not have jumbled himself seventy long miles over
     mountains and plains in one day, and left a family who were
     happy in his company, and exchanged the cheering blaze of a
     good coal fire, for the dreary glimpses of a clouded moon.
     But, however, he had the pleasure of gratifying a sense which
     few people are much troubled with, a delicacy and ardour in
     politeness; and as that is pretty near akin to benevolence, I
     believe the indulgence of it may be a full recompense for the
     trouble. But that last principle will lead you back the road
     you went; for you left three ladies mourning for your
     departure, and the good man of the house has been in a
     vexation ever since, and can only be contented by a renewal of
     your kind intentions towards us, of passing some quiet days
     under our roof. Sir Gilbert came home from Jedburgh, and had
     seen your brother there, who told him he would find you here
     when he came back.

     Enter Sir Gilbert. Where is Mr. Hume?--Answer: He is gone.
     When did he come?--About one o'clock. And when did he go
     away?--About five. What! have you quarrelled?--Yes. He and I
     had some little difference about his _byeuks_, and I tried to
     persuade him to burn them all, and write the other way; for,
     as I said, I was sure he would be a shining light, and equal
     the author of the "Pilgrim's Progress," or Mr. Ebenezer
     Erskine, if he would only take the right side; and he flew in
     a passion and went away in a huff! How could you think he
     would be persuaded by you? Pooh! though I am but a simple
     woman, before it be long he may be convinced I can see farther
     into a millstone than he can do; and if he had taken my
     advice, he might have rested his bones here this night in
     quiet, in place of rumbling along in the dark in a post
     chaise; and so in other matters too, I might perhaps do him a
     service if he would be ruled by me. My dear, how can you be so
     wild? And, my dear, where is the harm in telling one's mind,
     when you think you can do good by it, to a good worthy
     creature that is only a little mistaken or so? Good by it,
     what a chimera! but come, there is some other reason than this
     for his going away? None that I know; except a fine flim-flam
     letter that he received from the French Ambassador, saying, he
     expected to have the exquisite joy of beholding him at
     Edinburgh to-morrow. Ah, now I understand it. But when does he
     come back? Why he either comes back with Mons. De Guigne, or
     after he has done the last duties to him at Edinburgh. So you
     see, if you do not come, you will have brought me in for the
     lesser excommunication; for you will have been the cause of my
     deceiving my husband, and telling him a lie: although, for
     that matter, neither you nor I _lukelly_ have any thing to
     fear now-a-days, for either the greater or lesser
     excommunication: For, as you justly observe, line 12, first
     page of your letter, how are things changed! Old prejudices
     are done away, but behold new ones arise; and the last errors
     I am afraid are worse than the first: but, for my own part, I
     would willingly have stood before the kirk-session, to have
     shown any respect and regard to Mons{r.} L'Ambassador, who is
     a man we all esteem in this house, and from whom we have
     always received every possible civility, of which we retain a
     grateful sense. But we perceive he is travelling in his public
     capacity, and unless Sir Gilbert had had it in his power to go
     to town to wait of him, and give him welcome from us to our
     house, should it suit his conveniency to rest here upon his
     road to England, we think any other invitation would appear
     improper and abrupt; and as it so happens he cannot possibly
     accomplish this at present, for we are to have company with us
     most part of this week; and after that we go to our visits,
     which will take us most of next week; and then we shall be
     chez nous till our journey southwards, when we will require
     from you to restore us your good society, else we shall verily
     believe your flying visit was all a hum, and we won't be
     _Humed_ so!

     Bless me, I thought I was writing to my poor good Harry. How
     does he do, sanctified soul? I have really hopes of you, now
     that he and you are come hand to fist at a conversation; as he
     tells me you are very often with him, and he really thinks you
     are a saint in your nature; and I say that is a great pity,
     for tho' I cannot deny the fact, I deplore it for the
     consequences of it; but give my best wishes to him, and tell
     him I long to hear of better prospects for him. I am really
     confounded, when I think what a parcel of nonsense I have
     wrote you: But learn to prefer the truth and sincerity of a
     Scots wife, to the pernicious flattery of Les Dames
     Françaises, of which you have had enough in your days; and so
     it is fit you should be made to hear on the other side of the
     head. And so wishing you all health and happiness, and
     clearness of understanding, I remain, sir, your well wisher,
     friend, and obedient servant,

                                          AG. ELLIOT MURRAY.

     P.S. I don't think the quiet Euthanasia of England will happen
     in the year 1773, the mayoralty of J. W. Esq.

Hume had been for many years very corpulent. In a letter to Sir Harry
Erskine, in 1756, he complains of this tendency to obesity. He
occasionally alludes to his partiality for plain food, and to his being,
to use his own sufficiently distinct expression, "a glutton, not an
epicure."[449:1] We have found him telling Sir Gilbert Elliot, that for
beef and cabbage, which he calls "a charming dish," and old mutton, no
one could excel him; and that the Duc de Nivernois would become
apprentice to his "lass," to learn how she made sheeps'-head broth. The
zest with which he returned to the simple food of his native country,
after the diplomatic feasts of Paris, seems to have been characteristic
of all his habits. Burke is said to have affirmed, that, "in manners he
was an easy unaffected man, previous to going to Paris as secretary to
Lord Hertford; but that the adulation and caresses of the female wits of
that capital had been too powerful even for a philosopher, and the
result was, he returned a literary coxcomb." But the saying is not in
harmony with the characteristics noted by others; and it is not quite
clear that it was ever uttered by Burke.[450:1] All who speak as having
been familiarly acquainted with him, concur in describing his manners as
kind, simple, and polite. He had, as no one who has read his
correspondence can fail to see, a good heart, ever ready to do
benevolent acts where occasions for their performance came under his
notice; and his exterior appearance and manner corresponded with this
part of his character. One occasionally meets with venerable persons who
remember having been dandled on Hume's knee, and the number of these
reminiscences indicates that he was fond of children.[450:2]

The broad Scottish pronunciation, in which, by all accounts, he
indulged, was a rather singular habit in one who desired to throw off
all marks of provincialism. Yet we are told that in this rude Doric garb
he clothed a very pure English colloquial style. We must take this
statement with allowances: He never probably in his most finished
writings completely divested his style of Scotticisms; and the English
he spoke must have been pure only in comparison with the language of his
fellow countrymen. But it may be remarked, that provincial broadness of
pronunciation in Scotland is far from being incompatible with a very
pure and unprovincial style of language. It has often been observed,
that in those parts of the country where the speech of the uneducated is
most peculiar, English, when spoken at all, is found in greatest
purity. Thus, an inhabitant of the border districts makes his southern
tones, though hardly distinguishable from those of his English
neighbours, the vehicle of intense Scotticisms; while beyond the
Grampians, the deep broad Teutonic pronunciation sometimes gives voice
to uncontaminated English, as established by literary and colloquial

Hume had very clearly two kinds of conversation, one for strangers and
the world at large, the other for his chosen friends with whom he was at
ease, and who could understand the good humour of that jocularity which
a contemporary pronounced to have something in it perfectly infantine.
His friend John Home was somewhat renowned for a warlike and romantic
pomp in his ideas, like those which pervade his own tragic personations.
In Hume's conversation we may believe that there was nothing either
heroic or enthusiastic. A good humoured sly application of the fugitive
subjects of discussion, to the peculiarities of the guests; an
occasional vigorous and apt remark; a fantastic wit sometimes let loose
to wander where it pleased, and choose whatever it thought fit for its
object,--seem to have constituted the charm of his society. Yet the tone
of his thoughts sometimes rose to enthusiasm. Thus the son of his valued
friend Ferguson, remembers his father saying, that, one clear and
beautiful night, when they were walking home together, Hume suddenly
stopped, looked up to the starry sky, and said, more after the manner of
"Hervey's Meditations" than the "Treatise of Human Nature," "Oh, Adam,
can any one contemplate the wonders of that firmament, and not believe
that there is a God!"

In a late collection of casual reminiscences, there is the following
notice of his social habits.

"Major M----, with whom I dined yesterday, said that he had frequently
met David Hume at their military mess in Scotland, and in other parties;
that he was very polite and pleasant, though thoughtful in company,
generally reclining his head upon his hand, as if in study; from which
he would suddenly recover, however, with some indifferent
question;[452:1] extremely inquisitive, but quite easy to himself and
all around him. One is glad to catch personal notices, however slight,
of memorable men and of speculative philosophers. I know no one so
memorable as Hume. He seems to have so far outstripped the spirit of the
times in his original and profound researches, that the world is in no
condition at present to do justice to his merits."[452:2]

Those who know him solely by his philosophical reputation, will perhaps
believe him to have been

     Parcus deorum cultor et infrequens.

But this does not seem to have been the case, at least in his outward
conduct. We find him, in writing home from France, casually mentioning
his not having seen Elliot's sons "in church;" and on another occasion
making a like allusion, indicative of his having been a pretty regular
attendant at the ambassador's chapel. He is said to have been fond of
Dr. Robertson's preaching, and not averse to that of his colleague and
opponent, John Erskine. A lady, distinguished in literature, remembers
that in a conversation with a respectable tradesman's wife, who had been
a servant to Hume, she said that her master one day asked her very
seriously, why she was never seen in church, where he had provided seats
for all his household. At that time there were very few of the humbler
classes in Edinburgh, who did not belong to the Church of Scotland. The
woman's defence was, that she belonged to a dissenting congregation; and
it was admitted to be quite satisfactory.

Social in his habits, and living the life of a wealthy bachelor, it was
natural that Hume should connect himself with the societies, whether of
a literary or convivial character, which brought the good company of
Edinburgh together. He appears to have been a pretty active member of
the Philosophical Society. In a letter, of which part has already been
printed, and which would probably in strict chronological order belong
to an earlier period, we find him with mild dignity enforcing the
tolerance and philosophical equanimity, that ought to reign wherever men
of different sentiments meet each other in intellectual discussion.

"_Tuesday Forenoon._

"SIR,--I am so great a lover of peace, that I am resolved to drop this
matter altogether, and not to insert a syllable in the Preface, which
can have a reference to your Essay. The truth is, I could take no
revenge but such a one as would have been a great deal too cruel, and
much exceeding the offence: for, though most authors think, that a
contemptuous manner of treating their writings is but slightly revenged
by hurting the personal character and the honour of their antagonists, I
am very far from that opinion. Besides, I am as certain as I can be of
any thing, (and I am not such a sceptic as you may perhaps imagine,)
that your inserting such remarkable alterations in the printed copy,
proceeded entirely from precipitancy and passion, not from any formed
intention of deceiving the Society. I would not take advantage of such
an incident to throw a slur on a man of merit, whom I esteem, though I
might have reason to complain of him.

"When I am abused by such a fellow as Warburton, whom I neither know nor
care for, I can laugh at him. But if Dr. Stewart approaches any way
towards the same style of writing, I own it vexes me; because I
conclude, that some unguarded circumstance of my conduct, though
contrary to my intention, had given occasion to it.

"As to your situation with regard to Lord Kames, I am not so good a
judge. I only think that you had so much the better of the argument,
that you ought, upon that account, to have been more reserved in your
expressions. All raillery ought to be avoided in philosophical argument,
both because it is unphilosophical, and because it cannot but be
offensive, let it be ever so gentle. What, then, must we think with
regard to so many insinuations of irreligion, to which Lord Kames's
paper gave not the least occasion? This spirit of the inquisitor is, in
you, the effect of passion, and what a _cool_ moment would easily
correct. But where it predominates in the character, what ravages has it
committed on reason, virtue, truth, liberty, and every thing that is
valuable among mankind! I shall now speak a word as to the justness of
your censure with regard to myself after these remarks on the manner of
it. I have no scruple of confessing my mistakes. You see I have owned
that I think Lord Kames is mistaken in his argument; and I would sooner
give up my _own_ cause than my _friend's_, if I thought that imputation
of any consequence to a man's character. . . . .[455:1]

"As I am resolved to drop this matter entirely from the Preface, so I
hope to persuade Lord Kames to be entirely silent with regard to it in
our meeting. But in case I should not prevail, or if any body else start
the subject, I think it better that some of your friends should be
there, and be prepared to mollify the matter. If I durst pretend to
advise, I should think it better you yourself were absent, unless you
bring a greater spirit of composition than you express in your letter. I
am persuaded that whatever a person of Mr. Monro's authority proposes
will be agreed to: though I must beg leave to differ from his judgment
in proposing to alter two pages. That chiefly removes the offence given
to me; but what regards Lord Kames is so interwoven with the whole
discourse, that there is not now any possibility of altering it. I am,
sir, your most obedient humble servant," &c.

"P. S.--I hope you are very zealous in promoting the sale of Blacklock's
Poems. I will never be reconciled to you unless you dispose of at least
a score of them; and make your friends Sir John Maxwell and Lord Buchan
pay a guinea a piece for their copy."[455:2]

The Poker Club, occasionally mentioned in these pages, seems to have
had no other direct and specific object but the consumption of claret.
The duty laid on that national wine, by "the English statesman," so
pathetically commemorated by John Home, was a heavy blow and great
discouragement to the club; but it rallied, and returned to its old
esteemed beverage; and, indeed, it is a somewhat curious circumstance,
that the national taste, created by the early intercourse with France
and the consequent cheapness of French wines, still lingers in Scotland,
where claret is much more generally consumed than in England. The club
met in Fortune's tavern every Friday. It was the practice, at each
meeting, to name two to be, what were called, "attendant members;" an
arrangement, probably, designed to form a nucleus round which those
whose attendance was uncertain, but who might drop in occasionally in
the course of the evening, could form themselves; and to prevent any
general desertion of the club, or, what might be, perhaps, more
calamitous, the accident of any individual finding himself, for the
night, its sole and solitary representative. We find Hume duly taking
his turn in these attendances, and keeping the minutes according to
rotation. On the 20th January, 1775, there is this emphatic entry, in
his handwriting, "As Mr. Nairne was one of the attendant members, and
neglected his duty, the club sent him the bill." The last meeting of
the club, attended by Hume, appears to have been that of 8th December,

It does not appear to be necessary that traditional anecdotes, such as
the few we possess of Hume, must either be authenticated, or excluded
from such a work as the present. It seems to entitle them to a place,
that they were current among those who knew his character and habits.
They thus afford all that is expected from such sources--passing fancy
sketches, recognised as likenesses. Like several others that have
appeared in these pages, as mere traditions, the following anecdote,
which is eminently natural and curious, has no farther authentication
than the general belief, in Edinburgh, that it "was like the man."

About the commencement of his last illness, a female member of the
respectable Berean congregation, in Leith, presented herself at his
door, with the information that she had been intrusted with a message to
him from on High; and, becoming very urgent, succeeded in obtaining
admission. "This is a very important matter, madam," said the
philosopher, "we must take it with deliberation;--perhaps you had better
get a little temporal refreshment before you begin. 'Lassie, bring this
good lady a glass of wine.'" While she was preparing for the attack,
Hume entered, good-humouredly, into conversation with her; and,
discovering that her husband was a chandler, announced that he stood
very much in want, at that time, of some temporal lights, and intrusted
his guest with a very large order. This unexpected stroke of business at
once absorbed all the good woman's thoughts; and, forgetting her
important mission, she immediately trotted home to acquaint her husband
with the good news.

There is an anecdote, which has appeared in numerous collections of such
literary scraps, which represents him as having slipped into the boggy
ground at the base of the castle rock, and called to a woman to help him
out. In his unwieldy and infirm state, during his latter years, the
accident is not improbable. The anecdote proceeds to say, that the
female called on had great doubts of the propriety of helping "Hume, the
Deist," out of that slough of despond into which it had pleased
Providence to cast him. "But, my good woman, does not your religion as a
Christian, teach you to do good, even to your enemies?" "That may be,"
said she, "but ye shallna get out o' that, till ye become a Christian
yersell: and repeat the Lord's Prayer and the Belief," a feat which is
said to have been very rapidly performed, much to the worthy catechist's

Some of his witticisms have a tone of sarcastic severity, which he does
not appear to have been disposed to suppress, even when women were the
victims, if it was called forth by affectation or folly. To a celebrated
"fine woman" of his day, who said she was often pestered to tell her
age, and desired his opinion what answer she should give: he is reported
to have said, "Madam, say you are not yet come to years of discretion."
To the same lady, who, when crossing one of the ferries of the Firth of
Forth, during a fresh breeze, was making a loud outcry about danger, he
remarked, with much coolness, that they would probably soon be food for
fishes; "and who," said the frightened belle, probably a little confused
by the horrors of their position, "who will they begin with?" The answer
she received was, "Why, madam, those of them that are gluttons will
begin with me; those that are epicures with your ladyship."

We now resume Hume's correspondence. The letters of the last five years
of his life, which have been preserved, are comparatively few; a
circumstance which may be accounted for from his living, during that
period, among his correspondents. On 28th January, 1772, he writes to
Smith, that he would be glad to receive a visit from him; but that his
house would be rather dull, from his sister having fever. In
continuation he says:--

"I shall not take an excuse from your own state of health; which I
suppose only a subterfuge invented by indolence and love of solitude.
Indeed, my dear Smith, if you continue to hearken to complaints of this
nature, you will cut yourself out entirely from human society, to the
great loss of both parties.

"P.S.--I have not yet read 'Orlando Inamorato;' but intend soon to do
it. I am now in a course of reading the 'Italian Historians,' and am
confirmed in my former opinion, that that language has not produced one
author who knew how to write elegant correct prose, though it contains
several excellent poets."[459:1]

In the following letters, we find several details about that remarkable
revulsion in the state of trade in Scotland, which, at the present day,
is chiefly known by the quantity of decisions on points of bankruptcy
law, with which it filled the Reports.


"_St. Andrew's Square, 27th June, 1772._

"We are here in a very melancholy situation, continual bankruptcies,
universal loss of credit, and endless suspicions. There are but two
standing houses in this place--Mansfields and the Coutses--for I
comprehend not Cummin, whose dealings were always very narrow. Mansfield
has paid away £40,000 in a few days: but it is apprehended that neither
he nor any of them can hold out till the end of next week, if no
alteration happen. The case is little better in London. It is thought
that Sir George Colebroke must soon stop; and even the Bank of England
is not entirely free from suspicion. Those of Newcastle, Norwich, and
Bristol, are said to be stopped. The Thistle Bank has been reported to
be in the same condition. The Carron Company is reeling, which is one of
the greatest calamities of the whole, as they gave employment to near
ten thousand people. Do these events any wise affect your theory, or
will it occasion the revisal of any chapters?

"Of all the sufferers, I am the most concerned for the Adams,
particularly John. But their undertakings were so vast, that nothing
could support them. They must dismiss three thousand workmen, who,
comprehending the materials, must have expended above £100,000 a-year.
They have great funds; but if these must be disposed of in a hurry, and
to disadvantage, I am afraid the remainder will amount to little or
nothing. People's [compa]ssion I see was exhausted for John, in his last
calamity, and every body asks why he incurred any more hazards. But his
friendship for his brothers is an apology; though I believe he has a
projecting turn of his own. To me the scheme of the Adelphi always
appeared so imprudent, that my wonder is how they could have gone on so

"If Sir George Colebroke stop, it will probably disconcert all the
plans of our friends, as it will diminish their patron's influence;
which is a new misfortune.

"On the whole, I believe that the check given to our exorbitant and ill
grounded credit, will prove of advantage in the long run, as it will
reduce people to more solid, and less sanguine projects, and, at the
same time, introduce frugality among the merchants and manufacturers:
what say you? Here is food for your speculation."[461:1]


"_St. Andrew's Square, 23d Nov. 1772._

"DEAR SMITH,--I should agree to your reasoning, if I could trust your
resolution. Come hither for some weeks about Christmas; dissipate
yourself a little; return to Kirkcaldy; finish your work before autumn:
go to London; print it; return and settle in this town, which suits your
studious independent turn, even better than London. Execute this plan
faithfully, and I forgive you.

"Ferguson has returned, fat and fair, and in good humour,
notwithstanding his disappointment, which I am glad of."[461:2]

In 1772, Macpherson published a quarto volume, called "An Introduction
to the History of Great Britain and Ireland," of which Pinkerton,
indignant at the Celtic spirit it displayed, said, "The empty vanity,
shallow reading, vague assertion, and etymological nonsense, in this
production, are truly risible." In a letter to Colonel Dow,[461:3] we
find Hume criticising this book in a rather less emphatic manner.

"My compliments to Ossian. He has given us a work last winter, which
contains a great deal of genius and good writing; but I cannot assent to
his system. I must still adhere to the common opinion regarding our
origin, or rather your origin; for we are all plainly Danes or Saxons in
the low countries. But these subjects I reserve to a discussion over an
evening fire on your return. I charge you not to think of settling in
London, till you have first seen our New Town, which exceeds any thing
you have seen in any part of the world."[462:1]

With the following letter, many readers may perhaps be familiar, but to
those who have not already seen it, the curious historical incident it
details, will give it much interest.


     _St. Andrew's Square, Edinburgh,
     Feb. 10, 1773._

     MY DEAR SIR,--That the present Pretender was in London, in the
     year 1753, I know with the greatest certainty; because I had
     it from Lord Marischal, who said, it consisted with his
     certain knowledge. Two or three days after his lordship gave
     me this information, he told me, that the evening before, he
     had learned several curious particulars from a lady, (who I
     imagined to be Lady Primrose,) though my lord refused to name
     her. The Pretender came to her house in the evening, without
     giving her any preparatory information; and entered the room
     when she had a pretty large company with her, and was herself
     playing at cards. He was announced by the servant under
     another name. She thought the cards would have dropped from
     her hands on seeing him. But she had presence enough of mind,
     to call him by the name he assumed; to ask him when he came to
     England, and how long he intended to stay there. After he and
     all the company went away, the servants remarked how
     wonderfully like the strange gentleman was to the prince's
     picture, which hung on the chimney-piece, in the very room in
     which he entered. My lord added, (I think from the authority
     of the same lady,) that he used so little precaution, that he
     went abroad openly in day-light, in his own dress; only laying
     aside his blue riband and star; walked once through St.
     James's, and took a turn in the Mall.

     About five years ago, I told this story to Lord Holderness,
     who was secretary of state in the year 1753; and I added, that
     I supposed this piece of intelligence had at that time escaped
     his lordship. "By no means," said he, "and who do you think
     first told it me? it was the king himself, who subjoined, 'And
     what do you think, my lord, I should do with him?'" Lord
     Holderness owned that he was puzzled how to reply; for if he
     declared his real sentiments, they might savour of
     indifference to the royal family. The king perceived his
     embarrassment, and extricated him from it, by adding, "My
     lord, I shall just do nothing at all; and when he is tired of
     England, he will go abroad again." I think this story, for the
     honour of the late king, ought to be more generally known.

     But what will surprise you more, Lord Marischal, a few days
     after the coronation of the present king, told me, that he
     believed the young Pretender was at that time in London; or at
     least had been so very lately, and had come over to see the
     show of the coronation, and had actually seen it. I asked my
     lord the reason for this strange fact. "Why," says he, "a
     gentleman told me so that saw him there; and that he even
     spoke to him, and whispered in his ears these words: 'Your
     royal highness is the last of all mortals whom I should expect
     to see here.'--'It was curiosity that led me,' said the other;
     'but I assure you,' added he, 'that the person who is the
     object of all this pomp and magnificence is the man I envy the
     least.'" You see this story is so near traced from the
     fountain head, as to wear a great face of probability. Query,
     What if the Pretender had taken up Dymock's gauntlet? I find
     that the Pretender's visit in England, in the year 1753, was
     known to all the Jacobites; and some of them have assured me,
     that he took the opportunity of formally renouncing the Roman
     Catholic religion, under his own name of Charles Stuart, in
     the new church in the Strand; and that this is the reason of
     the bad treatment he met with at the court of Rome. I own that
     I am a sceptic with regard to the last particulars.

     Lord Marischal had a very bad opinion of this unfortunate
     prince; and thought there was no vice so mean or atrocious of
     which he was not capable; of which he gave me several
     instances. My lord, though a man of great honour, may be
     thought a discontented courtier; but what quite confounded me
     in the idea of that prince, was a conversation I had with
     Helvétius at Paris, which, I believe, I have told you. In case
     I have not, I shall mention a few particulars. That gentleman
     told me, that he had no acquaintance with the Pretender; but,
     some time after that prince was chased out of France, "a
     letter," said he, "was brought me from him, in which he told
     me that the necessity of his affairs obliged him to be at
     Paris; and, as he knew me, by character, to be a man of the
     greatest probity and honour in France, he would trust himself
     to me, if I would promise to conceal and protect him. I own,"
     added Helvétius to me, "although I knew the danger to be
     greater of harbouring him at Paris than at London; and
     although I thought the family of Hanover not only the lawful
     sovereigns in England, but the only lawful sovereigns in
     Europe, as having the full and free consent of the people; yet
     was I such a dupe to his flattery, that I invited him to my
     house; concealed him there, going and coming, near two years;
     had all his correspondence pass through my hands; met with his
     partisans upon Pont Neuf; and found, at last, that I had
     incurred all this danger and trouble for the most unworthy of
     all mortals; insomuch that I have been assured, when he went
     down to Nantz, to embark on his expedition to Scotland, he
     took fright and refused to go on board; and his attendants,
     thinking the matter gone too far, and that they would be
     affronted for his cowardice, carried him, in the night time,
     into the ship, pieds et mains liés." I asked him, if he meant
     literally? "Yes," said he, "literally. They tied him and
     carried him by main force." What think you now of this hero
     and conqueror?

     Both Lord Marischal and Helvétius agree, that with all this
     strange character, he was no bigot; but rather had learned,
     from the philosophers at Paris, to affect a contempt of all
     religion. You must know that both these persons thought they
     were ascribing to him an excellent quality. Indeed, both of
     them used to laugh at me for my narrow way of thinking in
     these particulars.[465:1] However, my dear Sir John, I hope
     you will do me the justice to acquit me.

     I doubt not but these circumstances will appear curious to
     Lord Hardwicke, to whom you will please to present my
     respects. I suppose his lordship will think this unaccountable
     mixture of temerity and timidity, in the same character, not a
     little singular. I am yours very sincerely.[465:2]

If there should be any doubts of the genuineness of this letter, from
its having first appeared, unauthenticated, in a periodical work, they
will be removed by the perusal of the following answer by Sir John
Pringle, printed from the original manuscript.


     _London, 5th November, 1773_.

     DEAR SIR,--I was much obliged to you for your letter of the
     10th ult., as it furnished me with sufficient means for
     maintaining my credit with Lord Hardwicke, a person I have not
     the honour to be well known to; and I had the more occasion
     for such a testimony as yours, as the other earl, mentioned in
     your letter, has thought proper, (I presume since he has once
     more become a courtier,) to deny his knowing any thing of the
     story, when one of the company, (where I told the anecdote to
     Lord Hardwicke,) inquired of him about it.

     Lord Hardwicke, not being in town when yours came to hand, I
     charged his intimate friend, Mr. Wray, who was going to visit
     him, with it. Yesterday, that gentleman returned, and, with
     the letter, sent me a line, expressing his lordship's great
     satisfaction in the communication; and with many thanks to us
     both for it. I understand he is very curious in picking up
     such historical facts; and, if so, he certainly never met with
     any thing of that kind more suited to his genius. The most
     extraordinary circumstance is, that of the _pied et poing
     liés_; and yet your authority seems to be unexceptionable.
     What could be expected from an adventurer whom they had been
     obliged to treat in that humiliating manner? and whose
     timidity, they must believe, was every now and then to recur,
     to affront those that set him upon the enterprise? I know that
     _our_ people were at great pains to decry his courage, after
     the battle of Culloden; but that I considered always as done
     upon a political, rather than an historical principle. I had
     good evidence for believing that, at Derby, he was, of the
     council of war, the person who stood longest out against the
     motion for returning, and not advancing to London. Again, he
     was for standing at the Spey; and, lastly, he did not retire
     from Culloden till his whole band was put to flight. It is
     true he never advanced nearer than the corps de réserve; but
     which corresponded to our second line, in which the Duke of
     Cumberland placed himself. I may add, that both of us have
     been informed, that he betrayed no unmanly concern, when he
     skulked so long with his female heroine; and then, surely, he
     was daily in the greatest danger of his life; had he been
     taken he would have met with no quarter. But, after all, these
     testimonies, in favour of his courage, must yield to such
     proofs as you bring to the contrary.[466:1]


"_St. Andrew's Square, 24th Feb., 1773._

"DEAR SMITH,--There are two late publications here which I advise you to
commission. The first is Andrew Stuart's Letters to Lord Mansfield,
which they say have met with vast success in London. Andrew has eased
his own mind, and no bad effects are to follow. Lord Mansfield is
determined, absolutely, to neglect them. The other is Lord Monboddo's
treatise on the Origin and Progress of Language, which is only part of
a larger work. It contains all the absurdity and malignity which I
expected; but is writ with more ingenuity and in a better style than I
looked for."[467:1]

"_St. Andrew's Square, 10th April, 1773._

"To-day news arrived in town, that the Ayr Bank had shut up, and, as
many people think, for ever. I hear that the Duke of Buccleuch is on the
road. The country will be in prodigious distress for money this term.
Sir G. Colebroke's bankruptcy is thought to be the immediate cause of
this event.

"Have you seen Macpherson's Homer? It is hard to tell whether the
attempt or the execution be worse. I hear he is employed by the
booksellers to continue my History. But, in my opinion, of all men of
parts, he has the most anti-historical head in the universe.

"Have you seen Sir John Dalrymple? It is strange what a rage is against
him, on account of the most commendable action in his life. His
collection[467:2] is curious; but introduces no new light into the
civil, whatever it may into the biographical and anecdotical history of
the times.

"Have you seen 'Alonzo?' Very slovenly versification, some pathetic, but
too much resembling 'Douglas.'"[467:3]

We have found Gilbert Stuart deferentially courting Hume's notice of his
earlier literary efforts. A few years of popularity as an author, and
the command of a periodical work, had in the meantime changed the man's
character, by developing all its arrogance, jealousy, conceit, and
vindictiveness. He was one of those who indulge in the comfortable
consciousness, that any comparison between their own genius and that of
any other given person is supremely ludicrous; and as some one said of
La Harpe, it might have proved a good speculation to buy him at what he
was worth, and sell him at his own estimate of his value. Sick of the
praises he heard bestowed on Robertson and the other eminent historians
of his age, he thought it his duty to show the world how the lamp of
such industrious drudges would grow pale before the lustre of true
genius; and thus he favoured the public with some historical efforts, in
which the curious reader of the present day, who takes them from
forgotten shelves, is somewhat surprised to find how effectually
well-turned periods, and a certain audacity of opinion, keep out of view
the meagreness of the author's inquiries.

In 1773, Stuart began to edit the _Edinburgh Magazine and Review_.
Periodical literature was the proper sphere for exhibiting his powers;
which consisted in the ready acquisition of a superficial view of any
subject, and a rapid, yet elegant style; occasionally magniloquent, and
at other times descriptive or sarcastic. No other periodical work of
that day equalled the _Edinburgh Magazine and Review_, in genius and
originality. But the editor made it the vehicle of his tyrannical and
vindictive spirit; and the purse and person of the proprietor--it might
almost be said the peace of society, were endangered by so formidable a
weapon remaining in such hands.[468:1]

At this time, the Rev. Robert Henry was publishing his valuable History
of Britain, volume by volume. Stuart had vowed that he would crush this
work; and the critical columns he concentrated against it, do great
credit to his ability as a tactician. Hume was promised the privilege of
reviewing the book in _the Magazine_, and probably Stuart thought that
to arm him against an interloper in his own province was excellent
policy; but when the article was written, and put in proof, it was found
not adapted to the editor's purpose. We find him thus writing to a

     David Hume wants to review Henry; but that task is so
     precious, that I will undertake it myself. Moses, were he to
     ask it as a favour, should not have it: yea, not even the man
     after God's own heart. I wish I could transport myself to
     London, to review him for the _Monthly_: a fire there and in
     the _Critical_, would perfectly annihilate him. Could you do
     nothing in the latter? To the former I suppose David Hume has
     transcribed the criticism he intended for us. It is precious
     and would divert you. I keep a _proof_ of it in my cabinet
     for the amusement of friends. This great philosopher begins to

A review of Henry's work _did_ appear in _The Monthly Review_, but from
a very different pen. The _proof_, however, which gave Stuart so much
amusement, has fortunately been preserved. After giving a favourable
analysis of Henry's second volume, it concludes with the following
sentences, in many respects remarkable.

     The reader will scarcely find in our language, except in the
     works of the celebrated Dr. Robertson, any performance that
     unites together so perfectly the great points of entertainment
     and instruction. It is happy for the inhabitants of this
     metropolis, which has naturally a great influence on the
     country, that the same persons who can make such a figure in
     profane learning, are intrusted with the guidance of the
     people in their spiritual concerns, which are of such
     superior, and indeed of unspeakable importance. These
     illustrious examples, if any thing, must make the infidel
     abashed of his vain cavils, and put a stop to that torrent of
     vice, profaneness, and immorality, by which the age is so
     unhappily distinguished.

     This city can justly boast of other signal characters of the
     same kind, whom learning and piety, taste and devotion,
     philosophy and faith, joined to the severest morals and most
     irreproachable conduct, concur to embellish. One in
     particular, with the same hand by which he turns over the
     sublime pages of Homer and Virgil, Demosthenes and Cicero, is
     not ashamed to open with reverence the sacred volumes; and
     with the same voice by which, from the pulpit, he strikes vice
     with consternation, he deigns to dictate to his pupils the
     most useful lessons of rhetoric, poetry, and polite

Hume was an early friend of Benjamin Franklin, whom he was instrumental
in introducing to his Parisian friends.[471:1] The celebrated
publication of the papers revealing the policy of the ascendency party,
and the scene at the council board, of which Franklin so deeply
cherished the memory, are thus alluded to in a letter to Smith, of 13th
February, 1774:--

"Pray, what strange accounts are these we hear of Franklin's conduct? I
am very slow in believing that he has been guilty in the extreme degree
that is pretended; though I always knew him to be a very factious man,
and faction, next to fanaticism, is of all passions the most destructive
of morality. How is it supposed he got possession of these letters? I
hear that Wedderburn's treatment of him before the council was most
cruel, without being in the least blameable. What a pity!"[471:2]

The following, among the very few letters which Hume appears to have
written at this period of his life, is addressed to John Home.

"_St. Andrew's Square, 4th June, 1774._

"DEAR JOHN,--The enclosed came to hand to-day, and, as I take it to be
directed to you, I have sent it you. If on opening it you find it
otherwise, you may return it to me, that I may find the true owner.

"You have seen, no doubt, the specimen of a Scotch review.[472:1] My
first conjecture was that Carlyle was the author; but Dr. Blair has
convinced me that it is much more probably the production of your
spiritual guide, Tom Hepburn;[472:2] but, whoever be the father, the
child has a great deal of salt, and spirit, and humour. I wish he would
continue, though at the hazard of my getting a rap over the knuckles
from time to time; for I see in this hero the spirit of a Drawcansir,
who spares neither friend nor foe. I think I can reckon about twenty
people, not including the king, whom he has attacked in this short
performance. I hope all his spleen is not exhausted. I should desire my
compliments to him, were I not afraid that he would interpret the
civility as paying black mail to him. I am, dear John, yours

The following appears to be the earliest letter in which Hume expresses
himself conscious of some unpleasant feelings, systematic of a decay of
the physical functions.


"_Edinburgh, 23d March, 1775._

"CARO GIUSEPPE,--No request can be more obliging than yours; and no
party could have been proposed to any place, or with any company, more
agreeable to me. But you remember what a plague I was to every body and
to myself on my last journey; and you may recollect that I made a vow,
in the bitterness of my distress, never more to leave my own house, nor
lie out of my own bed. This vow I have religiously kept, except two or
three days last autumn, when I went to my brother's; and though I could
scarcely there esteem myself from home, I resolved never more to pay
them a visit. You have not a bed cool enough for me, which proceeds not
from any distemper or disorder, but from a peculiarity of constitution,
that has been gradually increasing on me these last twelve years. I am
in very good health: but let me tell you, that you express yourself
strangely when you say I have been _complaining_. How could you imagine
that I could ever complain, even though _fractus illabatur orbis_? I
beseech you, know better the people to whom you speak, and the force of
the terms you make use of. Miss Keiths desired me to tell you, that some
time ago they had a letter from Sir Basil, by which they learn that your
request with regard to Maillet's friend, is complied with.

"My compliments to Mrs. Edmondstoune; embrace Jean Jacques in my name.
Dear Guidelianus, I am ever yours."[473:1]

Colonel Edmondstoune's answer to these excuses is not a little curious.


          _Pravum_ et tenacem propositi virum
          Non civium ardor _recta_ jubentium
          Non vultus instantis _Baronnæ_
          Mente quatit _stolida_.

     Will nothing move you, you obdurate philosopher? Your reasons
     are not worth a straw; and I'll prosecute you for scandalizing
     my house. The room next to your last is as cool as any room
     ought to be. It looks to the north, and you was put into a
     south room, merely because it was thought that the sun's
     vivifying ray would be of use to a man that had been worn out
     and so much epuisé in France. Besides, you scrub, have I not
     seen you basking for hours together in the sun, contemplating
     Shellie, and burning with envy at his prowess? and I heard
     nothing about your being heated till we came to Killin, and
     that was Crichen's doing, to season you for still a hotter

HUME _to his Nephew_.[474:2]

"_St. Andrew's Square, 30th August, 1775._

"DEAR DAVY,--Your letter gave me satisfaction, and I approve very much
of your course of study. But I think you are unreasonably diffident of
yourself with regard to the _copia verborum_: you are not wanting in
that particular [consider]ing you as a beginner; and the course you take
will tend very much to [produce] greater facility as well as correctness
of expression. Stylus est optimus [magis]ter eloquentiæ. These, if not
the words, are the sense of Quinctilian, for I cite from memory. You
know that the Roman stylus was the same as the pen.

"I had a letter to-day from Mr. Millar,[474:3] who tells me that he
expects to see you on the first Monday of November.

"I do not go to Inverara as soon as I proposed: it will be next week
before I set out. I think I am the better for jaunting; though in the
main I should like better to stay at home.

"My compliments to your mother; I am glad she has heard from Josey; but
I wonder what has detained him so long at Paris.

"I fancy you and Jock are very happy at present in your field sports;
and your father will not be displeased to see the favourable progress of
the harvest. I am, dear Davy, your affectionate uncle."[475:1]


     _St. Andrew's Square, Sept. 20th, 1775._

     DEAR JOHN,--Of all the vices of language, the least excusable
     is the want of perspicuity; for, as words were instituted by
     men, merely for conveying their ideas to each other, the
     employing of words without meaning is a palpable abuse, which
     departs from the very original purpose and intention of
     language. It is also to be observed, that any ambiguity in
     expression is next to the having no meaning at all; and is
     indeed a species of it; for while the hearer or reader is
     perplexed between different meanings, he can assign no
     determinate idea to the speaker or writer; and may, on that
     account, say with Ovid, "Inopem me copia fecit." For this
     reason, all eminent rhetoricians and grammarians, both ancient
     and modern, have insisted on perspicuity of language as an
     essential quality; without which, all ornaments of diction are
     vain and fruitless. Quinctilian carries the matter so far, as
     to condemn this expression, _vidi hominem librum legentem_;
     because, says he, legentem may construe as well with _librum_
     as _hominem_; though one would think that the sense were here
     sufficient to prevent all ambiguity. In conformity to this
     way of thinking, Vaugelas, the first great grammarian of
     France, will not permit that any one have recourse to the
     sense, in order to explain the meaning of the words; because,
     says he, it is the business of the words to explain the
     meaning of the sense--not of the sense to give a determinate
     meaning to the words; and this practice is reversing the order
     of nature; like the custom of the Romans (he might have added
     the Greeks,) in their Saturnalia, who made the slaves the
     masters; for you may learn from Lucian that the Greeks
     practised the same frolic during the festival of Saturn, whom
     they called Χρονος.

     Now, to apply, and to come to the use of this principle: I
     must observe to you, that your last letter, besides a
     continued want of distinctness in the form of the literal
     characters, has plainly transgressed the essential rule
     above-mentioned of grammar and rhetoric. You say that Coutts
     has complained to you of not hearing from me; had you said
     either James or Thomas, I could have understood your meaning.
     About two months ago, I heard that James complained of me in
     this respect; and I wrote to him, though then abroad, making
     an apology for my being one of the subscribers of a paper
     which gave him some offence. I was afraid he had not received
     mine. The letter of Thomas, I conceived to be only a circular
     letter, informing me of a change in the firm of the house: and
     having answered it a few days ago, by giving him some
     directions about disposing of my money, which proved that I
     intended to remain a customer to the shop; it happens,
     therefore, luckily, that I had obviated all objections to my
     conduct on both sides.

     In turning over my papers, I find a manuscript journal of the
     last rebellion, which is at your service. I hope Mrs. Home is
     better, and will be able to execute her journey. Are you to be
     in town soon? Yours without ambiguity, circumlocution, or
     mental reservation.[476:1]

Hume, though we have found him censuring the conduct of Franklin, was
opposed to any attempt to coerce America. "I always thought," says Sir
John Pringle, when writing to him, "you were in the wrong, when you
supposed these colonies wanted only a pretext to shake off their
subjection."[477:1] This subjection he seems to have thought they were
entitled to throw off; for he was far more tolerant of the sway of
individuals over numbers, which he looked upon as the means of
preserving order and civilization, than of the predominance of one
territory over another, which he looked upon as subjugation.
Unfortunately, few of his opinions on this subject can be better
ascertained than by the reflex light of the letters addressed to him, in
answer to his remarks. With Strahan, the eminent printer, he carried on
an extensive correspondence on political matters, of which the letters
on his own side have unfortunately been lost.[477:2] The sentiments
which Hume had expressed on the American war, are thus described, by
contrast, in the words of that member of Parliament, to whom Franklin
addressed his celebrated letter of defiance.


     I differ from you _toto cœlo_ with regard to America. I am
     entirely for coercive methods with those obstinate madmen; and
     why should we despair of success? Why should we suffer the
     empire to be so dismembered, without the utmost exertions on
     our part? I see nothing so very formidable in this business,
     if we become a little more unanimous, and could stop the
     mouths of domestic traitors, from whence the evil originated.
     Not that I wish to enslave the colonists, or to make them one
     jot less happy than ourselves; but I am for keeping them
     subordinate to the British legislature; and their trade, in a
     reasonable degree, subservient to the interest of the mother
     country; an advantage she well deserves; but which she must
     inevitably lose, if they are emancipated, as you propose. I am
     really surprised you are of a different opinion. Very true,
     things look oddly at present; and the dispute hath, hitherto,
     been very ill managed; but so we always do at the commencement
     of every war. So we did, most remarkably, in the last. It is
     perhaps owing to the nature of our government, which permits
     not of those sudden and decisive exertions frequently made by
     arbitrary princes. But, so soon as the British lion is roused,
     we never fail to fetch up our lee-way, as the sailors say. And
     so I hope you will find it in this important case.[478:1]

The following letter, which is not, however, written in a spirit of
entire earnestness or sobriety, has some reference to his views on the
American question.


"_St. David's Street, Oct. 27th, 1775._

"OH! DEAR BARON,--You have thrown me into agonies, and almost into
convulsions, by your request. You ask what seems reasonable,--what seems
a mere trifle; yet am I so unfit for it, that it is almost impossible
for me to comply. You are much fitter yourself. That address, by which
you gained immortal honour, was done altogether without my knowledge; I
mean that after the suppression of the late rebellion. Here is Lord Home
teazing me for an address from the Merse; and I have constantly refused
him. Besides, I am an American in my principles, and wish we would let
them alone to govern or misgovern themselves, as they think proper: the
affair is of no consequence, or of little consequence, to us. If the
county of Renfrew think it indispensably necessary for them to
interpose in public matters, I wish they would advise the king, first to
punish those insolent rascals in London and Middlesex, who daily insult
him and the whole legislature, before he thinks of America. Ask him, how
he can expect that a form of government will maintain an authority at
three thousand miles' distance, when it cannot make itself be respected,
or even be treated with common decency, at home. Tell him, that Lord
North, though, in appearance, a worthy gentleman, has not a head for
these great operations; and that, if fifty thousand men, and twenty
millions of money, were intrusted to such a lukewarm coward as Gage,
they never could produce any effect. These are objects worthy of the
respectable county of Renfrew: not mauling the poor infatuated Americans
in the other hemisphere."[479:1]

It has already been said, that Hume appears to have suspected that his
nephew, David, was imbibing republican principles. It is well worthy of
remark, that he does not appear to have considered the training of his
young nephews, in political opinions different from his own, as at all
to be deprecated; and David, to whom the following letter is addressed,
was boarded with Professor Millar, afterwards author of the "Historical
View of the English Government," who had even then shown himself as one
of the most powerful antagonists of Hume's constitutional doctrines. It
must be regretted that the letter is much mutilated; but enough of it is
preserved to show how lightly Hume's political opinions hung on him--how
little they possessed the character of a creed--how tolerant he was of
any system of politics which bore the air of philosophy, and how
curiously he could let his reason vibrate between opinions of the most
opposite character in practical politics.

HUME _to his_ NEPHEW.

"_Edinburgh, 8th December, 1775._

"DEAR DAVY,--All your letters, both to me and to your father, have
[given] great satisfaction, particularly your last; and, in return, I
must give you [the] satisfaction of telling you, that Mr. Millar is very
well pleased with you, [-----] no less than you with him. He complains
only of one thing, which [is not the] usual complaint of tutors against
their pupils; to wit, that he is afraid you [apply too] close, and may
hurt your health by too assiduous study. I should not men[tion this] if
I had the least apprehension that a hint of this nature would m[ake you]
relax too much. But I cannot forbear saying, that every day, fair or
foul, [you] ought to use some exercise. Relaxation from [for?]
amusement, you may use, [or not,] as you fancy; but that, for health, is
absolutely necessary. When I was [of your] age, I was inclined to give
in to excesses of the same kind; and I remember [an anecdote] told me by
a friend, the present Lord Pitfour. A man was riding, with [great]
violence, and running his horse quite out of wind. He stopt a moment to
[ask when] he might reach a particular place. In two hours, replied the
countryman, [if you] will go slower; in four if you be in such a hurry.
Bad health, be[sides other] inconveniencies, is the greatest interrupter
to study in the world.

"I cannot but agree with Mr. Millar, that the republican form of
government is by far the best. The ancient republics were somewhat
ferocious and torn [-----] by bloody factions; but they were still much
preferable to the monarchies or [aristocracies] which seem to have been
quite intolerable. Modern manners have corrected this abuse; and all the
republics in Europe, without exception, are so well governed that one is
at a loss to which we should give the preference. But what is this
general subject of speculation to our purpose? For, besides that an
established government [-----] without the most criminal imputation, be
disjointed from any speculation, [-----] is only fitted for a small
state; and any attempt towards it can, in our [-----] produce only
anarchy, which is the immediate forerunner of despotism [-----] tell us
what is that form of a republic which we must aspire to? Or [-----]stion
be afterwards decided by the sword. [One] great advantage of a
commonwealth over our mixed monarchy, is, that it [would consid]erably
abridge our liberty; which is growing to such an extreme as to be
incom[patible wi]th all. Such fools are they who perpetually cry out
liberty, [and think to] augment it by shaking off the monarchy.

"I have not heard from Josey for some time, which, you may believe, has
produced [-----] reflections in some of your friends. But to show you
that you are not forgotten [-----] I showed Mr. Millar's letter to your
mother. I am afraid, said she, that [-----] some symptoms of a
consumption in poor Davy.

"[I a]m far from thinking Mr. Millar's demands in point of money
unreas[onable.] On the contrary, I believe that I never laid out money
to better purpose.

"[Ha]rrington is an author of genius, but chimerical. No laws, however
rigorous, [would ma]ke his Agrarian practicable. And as the people have
only a negative, the [-----] would perpetually gain ground upon them.
You remember that Montesquieu says, that Harrington establishing his
"Oceana" in opposition to the English constitution, is like the blind
men who built Chalcedon on the opposite [-----] to the seat of
Byzantium. I ask your pardon for not writing to you [sooner,] but beg
the continuance of your correspondence. My compliments to [Mr. Millar,]
to whom I owe a letter. I am, your affectionate uncle."[482:1]


"_Edinburgh, 8th February, 1776._

"DEAR TYRTAEUS,--It is a remark of Dr. Swift's, that no man in London
ever complained of his being neglected by his friends in the country.
Your complaint of me is the more flattering.

"Two posts ago, I received, under a frank of General Fraser's, a
pamphlet, entitled _A letter from an officer retired_. It is a very good
pamphlet; and I conjecture you to be the author. Sallust makes it a
question, whether the writer or the performer of good things has the
preference? and he ascribes the greater praise to the latter. It is
happy for you, that you may rest your fame on either. I here allude to
what you have done for Ferguson.

"But, pray, why do you say, that the post of Boston is like the camp of
Pirna? I fancy our troops can be withdrawn thence without any

"I make no doubt, since you sound the trumpet for war against the
Americans, that you have a plan ready for governing them, after they are
subdued: but you will not subdue them; unless they break in pieces
among themselves--an event very probable. It is a wonder it has not
happened sooner. But no man can foretell how far these frenzies of the
people may be carried. Yours," &c.[483:1]

The following letter exhibits a feeling of impatience for the appearance
of the long promised "Wealth of Nations." It shows, in discussing some
questions in political economy, that, with his usual sagacity, Hume
predicted that the loss of British supremacy over America, would not
have that dire effect on our commercial prosperity, which had been


"_Edinburgh, 8th Feb. 1776._

"DEAR SMITH,--I am as lazy a correspondent as you, yet my anxiety about
you makes me write. By all accounts your book has been printed long ago:
yet it has never yet been so much as advertised. What is the reason? If
you wait till the fate of America be decided, you may wait long.

"By all accounts, you intend to settle with us this spring: yet we hear
no more of it: What is the reason? Your chamber in my house is always
unoccupied. I am always at home. I expect you to land here.

"I have been, am, and shall be probably in an indifferent state of
health. I weighed myself t' other day, and find I have fallen five
complete stones. If you delay much longer I shall probably disappear

"The Duke of Buccleuch tells me that you are very zealous in American
affairs. My notion is that the matter is not so important as is
commonly imagined. If I be mistaken, I shall probably correct my error
when I see you, or read you. Our navigation and general commerce may
suffer more than our manufactures. 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. Yours," &c.[484:1]

It is not perhaps uncharitable to suppose, that the following eulogium
would have been more warm, had the person it was addressed to not been
one of "the barbarians who inhabit the banks of the Thames."


     _Edinburgh, 18th March, 1776._

     DEAR SIR,--As I ran through your volume of history with a
     great deal of avidity and impatience, I cannot forbear
     discovering somewhat of the same impatience in returning you
     thanks for your agreeable present, and expressing the
     satisfaction which the performance has given me. Whether I
     consider the dignity of your style, the depth of your matter,
     or the extensiveness of your learning, I must regard the work
     as equally the object of esteem; and I own, that if I had not
     previously had the happiness of your personal acquaintance,
     such a performance, from an Englishman in our age, would have
     given me some surprise. You may smile at this sentiment; but
     as it seems to me that your countrymen, for almost a whole
     generation, have given themselves up to barbarous and absurd
     faction, and have totally neglected all polite letters, I no
     longer expected any valuable production ever to come from
     them. I know it will give you pleasure (as it did me,) to find
     that all the men of letters in this place concur in their
     admiration of your work, and in their anxious desire of your
     continuing it.

     When I heard of your undertaking, (which was some time ago,) I
     own I was a little curious to see how you would extricate
     yourself from the subject of your two last chapters. I think
     you have observed a very prudent temperament; but it was
     impossible to treat the subject so as not to give grounds of
     suspicion against you, and you may expect that a clamour will
     arise. This, if any thing, will retard your success with the
     public; for in every other respect your work is calculated to
     be popular. But, among many other marks of decline, the
     prevalence of superstition in England, prognosticates the fall
     of philosophy and decay of taste; and though nobody be more
     capable than you to revive them, you will probably find a
     struggle in your first advances.

     I see you entertain a great doubt with regard to the
     authenticity of the poems of Ossian. You are certainly right
     in so doing. It is, indeed, strange, that any men of sense
     could have imagined it possible, that above twenty thousand
     verses, along with numberless historical facts, could have
     been preserved by oral tradition during fifty generations, by
     the rudest, perhaps, of all European nations; the most
     necessitous, the most turbulent, and the most unsettled. Where
     a supposition is so contrary to common sense, any positive
     evidence of it ought never to be regarded. Men run with great
     avidity to give their evidence in favour of what flatters
     their passions, and their national prejudices. You are,
     therefore, over and above indulgent to us in speaking of the
     matter with hesitation.

     I must inform you, that we are all very anxious to hear that
     you have fully collected the materials for your second volume,
     and that you are even considerably advanced in the composition
     of it. I speak this more in the name of my friends than in my
     own; as I cannot expect to live so long as to see the
     publication of it. Your ensuing volume will be more delicate
     than the preceding, but I trust in your prudence for
     extricating you from the difficulties; and, in all events, you
     have courage to despise the clamour of bigots. I am, with
     regard, &c.[485:1]

At length appeared the long looked for work, in which the parent of the
first elucidations of political economy was to see his own offspring
eclipsed; and to see it with pride. One must be familiar with the
unenvious friendship which Hume ever bestowed, on the fellow countrymen
who joined him in the noble path of philosophical inquiry, to appreciate
the genuine satisfaction with which he thus hailed the appearance of
"The Wealth of Nations."


"_Edinburgh, 1st April, 1776._

"EUGE! BELLE! DEAR MR. SMITH,--I am much pleased with your performance;
and the perusal of it has taken me from a state of great anxiety. It was
a work of so much expectation, by yourself, by your friends, and by the
public, that I trembled for its appearance, but am now much relieved.
Not but that the reading of it necessarily requires so much attention,
and the public is disposed to give so little, that I shall still doubt
for some time of its being at first very popular. But it has depth, and
solidity, and acuteness, and is so much illustrated by curious facts,
that it must at last take the public attention. It is probably much
improved by your last abode in London. If you were here at my fireside,
I should dispute some of your principles. I cannot think that the rent
of farms makes any part of the price of the produce, but that the price
is determined altogether by the quantity and the demand.[486:1] It
appears to me impossible, that the King of France can take a seignorage
of eight per cent upon the coinage. Nobody would bring bullion to the
mint; it would be all sent to Holland or England, where it might be
coined and sent back to France, for less than two per cent. Accordingly,
Necker says, that the French king takes only two per cent of seignorage.
But these and a hundred other points are fit only to be discussed in
conversation; which, till you tell me the contrary, I still flatter
myself with soon. I hope it will be soon; for I am in a very bad state
of health, and cannot afford a long delay. I fancy you are acquainted
with Mr. Gibbon. I like his performance extremely, and have ventured to
tell him, that, had I not been personally acquainted with him, I should
never have expected such an excellent work from the pen of an
Englishman. It is lamentable to consider how much that nation has
declined in literature during our time. I hope he did not take amiss the
national reflection.

"All your friends here are in great grief at present, for the death of
Baron Mure, which is an irreparable loss to our society. He was among
the oldest and best friends I had in the world."[487:1]

In April, 1776, the disease of which Hume subsequently died, had made
alarming progress. The little autobiographical sketch, called "my own
Life," was finished on the eighteenth of that month; and he there speaks
of the rise and progress of his disorder, and of his feelings under the
expectation of a speedy termination of his life, in the following

     In spring, 1775, I was struck with a disorder in my bowels,
     which at first gave me no alarm, but has since, as I apprehend
     it, become mortal and incurable. I now reckon upon a speedy
     dissolution. I have suffered very little pain from my
     disorder; and what is more strange, have, notwithstanding the
     great decline of my person, never suffered a moment's
     abatement of my spirits; insomuch, that were I to name the
     period of my life which I should most choose to pass over
     again, I might be tempted to point to this latter period. I
     possess the same ardour as ever in study, and the same gaiety
     in company. I consider, besides, that a man of sixty-five, by
     dying, cuts off only a few years of infirmities; and though I
     see many symptoms of my literary reputation's breaking out at
     last with additional lustre, I knew that I could have but few
     years to enjoy it. It is difficult to be more detached from
     life than I am at present.

It was probably early in the year, and before the disease had made such
progress, as to make his friends in general anticipate its fatal
conclusion, that Dr. Black wrote the following undated letter on the
subject to Smith:--

"I write at present, chiefly to acquaint you with the state of your
friend David Hume's health, which is so bad that I am quite melancholy
upon it, and as I hear that you intend a visit to this country soon, I
wish if possible to hasten your coming, that he may have the comfort of
your company so much the sooner. He has been declining several years,
and this in a slow and gradual manner, until about a twelvemonth ago,
since which the progress of his disorder has been more rapid. One of his
distresses has been a sensation of excessive heat, chiefly in the night
time, and which was only external, for it occasioned no internal
distress, or anxiety, or thirst."

Black then proceeds to describe with more minuteness, than would be
either pleasing or instructive to unscientific readers, a series of
symptoms from which he infers that the most serious part of his
patient's disorder, is a hemorrhage in the upper part of the
intestines.[488:1] He continues,--

"His mother, he says, had precisely the same constitution with himself,
and died of this very disorder; which has made him give up any hopes of
his getting the better of it." He concludes by saying,--

"Do not, however, say much on this subject to any one else; as he does
not like to have it spoke of, and has been shy and slow in acquainting
me fully with the state of his health."

In preparation for the event, which could not be far distant, he had
executed a settlement of his estate, so early as the 4th of January. He
left the bulk of his fortune to his brother, or, in the case of his
predeceasing him, to his nephew David, burdened in the latter case with
special legacies to his other nephews and his nieces. He left his sister
£1200. Along with some legacies to a few obscure private friends and to
his servants, he left £200 to D'Alembert, and the same sum to Adam
Ferguson.[489:1] He appointed Smith his literary executor, in the
following terms:[490:1] "To my friend Dr. Adam Smith, late Professor of
Moral Philosophy in Glasgow, I leave all my manuscripts without
exception, desiring him to publish my 'Dialogues on Natural Religion,'
which are comprehended in this present bequest; but to publish no other
papers which he suspects not to have been written within these five
years, but to destroy them all at his leisure. And I even leave him full
power over all my papers, except the Dialogues above mentioned; and
though I can trust to that intimate and sincere friendship, which has
ever subsisted between us, for his faithful execution of this part of my
will, yet, as a small recompense of his pains in correcting and
publishing this work, I leave him two hundred pounds, to be paid
immediately after the publication of it."

Smith subsequently refused to receive payment of the legacy; and it was
the cause of a long friendly discussion with Mr. Home of Ninewells, who,
in opposition to his argument, that it was bequeathed as a remuneration
for editorial labours, which by a subsequent alteration of the bequest
did not require to be performed, urged such pleas as this, "My brother,
knowing your liberal way of thinking, laid on you something as an
equivalent, not imagining you would refuse a small gratuity from the
funds it was to come from, as a testimony of his friendship."[490:2] But
he pleaded in vain; and Smith continued to refuse the bequest, with all
the firmness of his unmercenary nature.

Previous to his journey to Bath, which has to be presently narrated,
Hume appears to have informed Smith of the desire expressed in his will,
that he should undertake the publication of the "Dialogues on Natural
Religion." The intimation was probably verbal, as it does not form part
of any letter among Hume's papers. Elliot was opposed to the publication
of this work. Blair pleaded strongly for its suppression; and Smith, who
had made up his mind, that he would not edit the work, seems to have
desired that the testamentary injunction laid on him might be revoked.
Hume, however, before his death, took effectual steps to guard against
its suppression.

Thus, after having good-naturedly abstained, for nearly thirty years,
from the publication of a work, which might give pain and umbrage to his
dearest friends; at the close of life, and when the lapse of time since
it was written might have been supposed to render him indifferent to its
fate,--because there appeared some danger of its final suppression, he
took decided and well pondered steps to avert from it this fate. Such
was the character of the man!


"_London, 3d May, 1776._

"MY DEAR FRIEND,--I send you enclosed an ostensible letter, conformably
to your desire. I think, however, your scruples groundless. Was Mallet
any wise hurt by his publication of Lord Bolingbroke? He received an
office afterwards from the present king and Lord Bute, the most prudish
men in the world; and he always justified himself by his sacred regard
to the will of a dead friend. At the same time, I own that your scruples
have a specious appearance. But my opinion is, that if upon my death you
determine never to publish these papers, you should leave them sealed up
with my brother and family, with some inscription that you reserve to
yourself the power of reclaiming them whenever you think proper. If I
live a few years longer, I shall publish them myself. I consider an
observation of Rochefoucault, that a wind, though it extinguishes a
candle, blows up a fire.

"You may be surprised to hear me talk of living years, considering the
state you saw me in, and the sentiments which both I and all my friends
at Edinburgh entertained on that subject. But though I cannot come up
entirely to the sanguine notions of our friend John, I find myself very
much recovered on the road, and I hope Bath waters and farther journeys,
may effect my cure.

"By the little company I have seen, I find the town very full of your
book, which meets with general approbation. Many people think particular
points disputable; but this you certainly expected. I am glad that I am
one of the number; as these points will be the subject of future
conversation between us. I set out for Bath, I believe, on Monday, by
Sir John Pringle's directions, who says, that he sees nothing to be
apprehended in my case. If you write to me (hem! hem!) I say if you
write to me, send your letter under cover to Mr. Strahan, who will have
my direction."[492:1]

The "ostensible letter" which was to serve as Smith's justification, if
he should decline to follow the injunctions of the will, is as

"_London, 3d May, 1776._

"MY DEAR SIR,--After reflecting more maturely on that article of my will
by which I left you the disposal of all my papers, with a request that
you should publish my 'Dialogues concerning Natural Religion,' I have
become sensible that, both on account of the nature of the work, and of
your situation, it may be improper to hurry on that publication. I
therefore take the present opportunity of qualifying that friendly
request. I am content to leave it entirely to your discretion, at what
time you will publish that piece, or whether you will publish it at all.

"You will find among my papers a very inoffensive piece, called "my own
Life," which I composed a few days before I left Edinburgh; when I
thought, as did all my friends, that my life was despaired of. There can
be no objection, that the small piece should be sent to Messrs. Strahan
and Cadell, and the proprietors of my other works, to be prefixed to any
future edition of them."[493:1]

Smith did not absolutely refuse to edit the "Dialogues," but Hume saw
pretty clearly that it was a task that would not be performed by him.
That he was correct in this supposition, appears by a letter from Smith
to Strahan after Hume's death, where he says:

"I once had persuaded him to leave it entirely to my discretion either
to publish them at what time I thought proper, or not to publish them at
all. Had he continued of this mind, the manuscript should have been most
carefully preserved, and upon my decease restored to his family; but it
never should have been published in my lifetime. When you have read it,
you will perhaps think it not unreasonable to consult some prudent
friend about what you ought to do."[494:1]

By a codicil to his will, dated 7th August, he thus altered the
arrangement referred to in these letters. "In my later will and
disposition, I made some destinations with regard to my manuscripts: All
these I now retract, and leave my manuscripts to the care of Mr. William
Strahan of London, member of Parliament, trusting to the friendship that
has long subsisted between us, for his careful and faithful execution of
my intentions. I desire that my 'Dialogues concerning Natural Religion'
may be printed and published, any time within two years after my death."
After making the bequest to John Home which is mentioned farther on,
leaving to Blair, Smith, Home, and Edmondstoune, "all of them persons
very dear to me, and whose affection to me I know by repeated proofs to
have been mutual," each a copy of the new edition of his works, and to
Miss Ord, ten guineas to buy a ring, "as a memorial of his friendship
and attachment to so amiable and accomplished a person," the codicil is
signed. There is then a new paragraph appended as follows:

"I do ordain that if my 'Dialogues,' from whatever cause, be not
published within two years and a half after my death, as also the
account of my life, the property shall return to my nephew, David, whose
duty in publishing them, as the last request of his uncle, must be
approved of by all the world."[494:2]

Both Hume and Smith seem to have thought that Strahan would undertake
the publication as a mere matter of business. But this book, like the
little hunchback in the "Arabian Nights," was a commodity which every
one seemed anxious to transfer to his neighbour. Strahan declined to
undertake the task, and the "Dialogues" did not appear until 1779, when
they were published by their author's nephew.

Smith cheerfully agreed to undertake the superintendance of the new
edition of his friend's works, then at press. They appear to have been
all in a state of very finished preparation for the press, and an
edition of the "Inquiries" and the miscellaneous essays was published in
1777, from a copy in which the author had completed that removal of
passages of a democratic tendency, which has been so frequently alluded

By the entreaties of several friends, who believed that travelling might
have a favourable influence on his health, Hume undertook a journey to
London towards the end of April. At Morpeth he met with Adam Smith and
John Home, on their way from London, to visit him in Edinburgh, in
consequence of a letter which the former had received from Ferguson, who
says, "David, I am afraid, loses ground. He is cheerful and in good
spirits as usual; but I confess that my hopes, from the effects of the
turn of the season towards spring, have very much abated."

Smith proceeded to Edinburgh, but Home went back to London with his
friend, and fortunately preserved a diary of the journey, so very
interesting, and containing so lively a picture of Hume's state of mind
and habits, that, though already published,[495:1] the reader would not
excuse its omission on this occasion.

_Note by_ MR. JOHN HOME.

     Soon after Mr. Home received the letter from Dr. Ferguson, he
     left London, and set out for Scotland with Mr. Adam Smith.
     They came to Morpeth on the 23d of April, 1776, and would have
     passed Mr. David Hume, if they had not seen his servant,
     Colin, standing at the gate of an inn. Mr. Home thinks that
     his friend, Mr. David Hume, is much better than he expected to
     find him. His spirits are astonishing: he talks of his
     illness, of his death, as matters of no moment, and gives an
     account of what passed between him and his physicians since
     his illness began, with his usual wit, or with more wit than

     He acquainted Mr. Adam Smith and me, that Dr. Black had not
     concealed the opinion he had of the desperateness of his
     condition, and was rather averse to his setting out. "Have you
     no reason against it," said David, "but an apprehension that
     it may make me die sooner?--that is no reason at all." I never
     saw him more cheerful, or in more perfect possession of all
     his faculties, his memory, his understanding, his wit. It is
     agreed that Smith shall go on to Scotland, and that I should
     proceed to Bath with David. We are to travel one stage before
     dinner, and one after dinner. Colin tells me that he thinks
     Mr. Hume better than when he left Edinburgh. We had a fine
     evening as we went from Morpeth to Newcastle. David seeing a
     pair of pistols in the chaise, said, that as he had very
     little at stake, he would indulge me in my humour of fighting
     the highwaymen. Whilst supper was getting ready at the inn,
     Mr. Hume and I played an hour at picquet. Mr. David was very
     keen about his card-playing.

     _Newcastle, Wednesday, 24th April._

     Mr. Hume not quite so well in the morning--says, that he had
     set out merely to please his friends; that he would go on to
     please them; that Ferguson and Andrew Stuart, (about whom we
     had been talking,) were answerable for shortening his life one
     week a-piece; for, says he, you will allow Xenophon to be good
     authority; and he lays it down, that suppose a man is dying,
     nobody has a right to kill him. He set out in this vein, and
     continued all the stage in his cheerful and talking humour. It
     was a fine day, and we went on to Durham--from that to
     Darlington, where we passed the night.

     In the evening Mr. Hume thinks himself more easy and light,
     than he has been any time for three months. In the course of
     our conversation we touched upon the national affairs. He
     still maintains, that the national debt must be the ruin of
     Britain; and laments that the two most civilized nations, the
     English and French, should be on the decline; and the
     barbarians, the Goths and Vandals of Germany and Russia,
     should be rising in power and renown. The French king, he
     says, has ruined the state by recalling the parliaments. Mr.
     Hume thinks that there is only one man in France fit to be
     minister, (the Archbishop of Toulouse,) of the family of
     Brienne. He told me some curious anecdotes with regard to this
     prelate; that he composed and corrected without writing; that
     Mr. Hume had heard him repeat an elegant oration of an hour
     and a quarter in length, which he had never written. Mr. Hume,
     talking with the Princess Beauvais about French policy, said
     that he knew but one man in France capable of restoring its
     greatness; the lady said she knew one too, and wished to hear
     if it was the same. They accordingly named each their man, and
     it was this prelate.[497:1]

     _Thursday, 25th._

     Left Darlington about nine o'clock, and came to Northallerton.
     The same delightful weather. A shower fell that laid the dust,
     and made our journey to Boroughbridge more pleasant. Mr. Hume
     continues very easy, and has a tolerable appetite; tastes
     nothing liquid but water, and sups upon an egg. He assured me,
     that he never possessed his faculties more perfectly; that he
     never was more sensible of the beauties of any classic author
     than he was at present, nor loved more to read. When I am not
     in the room with him he reads continually. The post-boys can
     scarcely be persuaded to drive only five miles an hour, and
     their horses are of the same way of thinking! The other
     travellers, as they pass, look into the chaise, and laugh at
     our slow pace. This evening the post-boy from Northallerton,
     who had required a good deal of threatening to make him drive
     as slow as we desired, had no sooner taken his departure to go
     home, than he set off at full speed. "_Pour se dédommager_,"
     said David.

     _Friday, 26th, Boroughbridge._

     Mr. Hume this morning not quite so well. He observes, and I
     see it, that he has a good day and a bad one. His illness is
     an internal hemorrhage, which has been wasting him for a long
     time. He is so thin that he chooses to have a cushion under
     him when he sits upon an ordinary chair. He told me to-day,
     that if Louis XV. had died in the time of the regency, the
     whole French nation were determined to bring back the King of
     Spain to be King of France,--so zealous were they for
     preserving the line of succession. This evening Mr. Hume not
     quite so well, and goes to bed at a more early hour than he
     used to do.

     _Ferrybridge, Sunday, 28th._

     Mr. Hume much better this morning. He told me, that the French
     nation had no great opinion of Cardinal Fleury; that the
     English had extolled him, in opposition to their own minister
     Sir Robert Walpole; but that Fleury was a little genius, and a
     cheat. Lord Marischal acquainted Mr. Hume with a piece of
     knavery which his lordship said nobody but a Frenchman and a
     priest could have been guilty of. The French ambassador at
     Madrid came to Lord Marischal one day, and told him, that he
     had a letter from the French minister at Petersburgh,
     acquainting him that General Keith was not pleased with his
     situation in Russia, and wished to return to the Spanish
     service, (where he had formerly been;) that it would be proper
     for Lord Marischal to apply to the court of Spain. Lord
     Marischal said nothing could be more agreeable to him than to
     have his brother in the same country with him; but that, as he
     had heard nothing from himself, he could not make any
     application in his name. The French minister still urged him
     to write to the Spanish minister, but in vain. When the
     brothers met, several years after, they explained this matter.
     Keith had never any intention of coming into the Spanish
     service again; and if Lord Marischal had applied to the court
     of Spain, measures were taken to intercept the letter, and
     send it to the court of Russia. General Keith, who commanded
     the Russian army in the field against the Swedes, would have
     been arrested, and sent to Siberia; and the moment he had left
     the army, the Swedes were to attack the Russians. Mr. Hume
     told me, talking of Fleury, that Monsieur Trudent,[499:1] who
     was his eléve, acquainted him with an anecdote of that
     minister and the late French king, which he, Mr. Hume,
     believes Trudent had never ventured to tell to any body but
     him; and he (David) had never told it to any body but me. Now,
     since Fleury, Trudent, and Lewis, are all dead, it may be
     told. Trudent took the liberty of observing to Fleury, that
     the king should be advised to apply a little more to business,
     and take some charge of his own affairs. Fleury, the first
     time Trudent spoke to him upon this subject, made him no
     answer; but upon his speaking again on the same subject, he
     told him, that he had entreated the king to be a man of
     business, and assured him that the French did not like an
     inactive prince; that in former times, there had been a race
     of indolent princes who did nothing at all, and were called
     _Les Rois Fainéants_; that one of them had been put into a
     convent. The king made no reply; but some time afterwards,
     when Fleury resumed the subject, the king asked him, whether
     or no the prince that was put into the convent had a good
     pension allowed him?[499:2]

     Mr. Hume this day told me, that he had bought a piece of
     ground; and when I seemed surprised that I had never heard of
     it, he said it was in the New Church-yard, on the Calton Hill,
     for a burying-place; that he meant to have a small monument
     erected, not to exceed in expense one hundred pounds; that the
     inscription should be

          DAVID HUME.

     I desired him to change the discourse. He did so; but seemed
     surprised at my uneasiness, which he said was very
     nonsensical. I think he is gaining ground; but he laughs at
     me, and says it is impossible; that the year ('76,) sooner or
     later, he takes his departure. He is willing to go to Bath, or
     travel during the summer through England, and return to
     Scotland to die at home; but that Sir John Pringle, and the
     whole faculty, would find it very difficult to boat him,
     (formerly an usual phrase in Scotland for going abroad, that
     is, out of the island, for health.) This day we travelled by
     his desire three stages, and arrived with great ease at

     _Monday, 29th._

     From the treatment Mr. Hume met with in France, 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, and called themselves Whigs,
     who, he said, were determined not to suffer truth to be told
     in Britain. Amongst many instances of this, he told me one
     which was new to me. The Duke of Bedford, (who afterwards
     conceived a great affection for Mr. Hume,) by the suggestions
     of some of his party friends, ordered his son, Lord Tavistock,
     not to read Mr. Hume's History of England; but the young man
     was prevailed upon by one of his companions (Mr. Crawford of
     Errol) to disobey the command. He read the History, and was
     extremely pleased with it.

     Mr. Hume told me, that the Duke de Choiseul, at the time Lord
     Hertford was in France, expressed the greatest inclination for
     peace, and a good correspondence between France and Britain.
     He assured Lord Hertford, that if the court of Britain would
     relinquish Falkland Island, he would undertake to procure from
     the court of Spain the payment of the Manilla ransom. Lord
     Hertford communicated the proposal to Mr. Grenville, who
     slighted it. Lord Hertford told Mr. Hume the same day an
     extraordinary instance of the violence of faction. Towards the
     end of Queen Anne's reign, when the Whig ministers were turned
     out of all their places at home, and the Duke of Marlborough
     still continued in the command of the army abroad, the
     discarded ministers met, and wrote a letter, which was signed
     by Lord Somers, Lord Townshend, Lord Sunderland, and Sir
     Robert Walpole, desiring the duke to bring over the troops he
     could depend on, and that they would seize the queen's person,
     and proclaim the Elector of Hanover Regent. The Duke of
     Marlborough answered the letter, and said it was madness to
     think of such a thing. Mr. Horace Walpole, Sir R. Walpole's
     youngest son, confirmed the truth of this anecdote, which he
     had heard his father repeat often and often; and Mr. Walpole
     allowed Mr. Hume to quote him as his authority, and make what
     use he pleased of it. When George I. came to England, he
     hesitated whether to make a Whig or a Tory administration; but
     the German minister, Bernstorf, determined him to take the
     side of the Whigs, who had made a purse of thirty thousand
     guineas, and given it to this German. George I. was of a
     moderate and gentle temper.--He regretted all his life, that
     he had given way to the violence of the Whigs in the beginning
     of his reign. Whenever any difficulty occurred in parliament,
     he used to blame the impeachment of the Tories,--"Ce diable de
     impeachment," as he called it.

     The Whigs, in the end of Queen Anne's reign, bribed the
     Emperor's ministers, not to consent to the peace, and to send
     over Prince Eugene with proposals to continue the war.

     This anecdote from Lord Bath. Another anecdote Mr. Hume
     mentioned, but distrusted the authority, for it was David
     Mallet who told Mr. Hume, that he had evidence in his custody
     of a design to assassinate Lord Oxford.

     Prior, after the accession, was reduced to such poverty by the
     persecution he met with, that he was obliged to publish his
     works by subscription. Lord Bathurst told Mr. Hume, that he
     was with Prior reading the pieces that were to be published,
     and he thought there was not enough to make two small volumes.
     He asked Prior if he had no more poems? He said, No more that
     he thought good enough.--"What is that," said Bathurst,
     pointing to a roll of paper. "A trifle," said Prior, "that I
     wrote in three weeks, not worthy of your attention or that of
     the public." Lord Bathurst desired to see it. This neglected
     piece was _Alma_.

     _Tuesday, 30th._

     Last night, when Mr. Hume was going to bed, he complained of
     cold. One part of his malady had been a continual heat, so
     that he could not endure a soft or warm bed, and lay in the
     night with a single sheet upon him; he desired to have an
     additional covering. Colin observed to him, that he thought it
     a good symptom. Mr. Hume said he thought so too, for it was a
     good thing to be like other people. This morning he is
     wonderfully well; which is visible in his countenance and
     colour, and even the firmness of his step. Talking of the
     state of the nation, which he continually laments, he
     mentioned an anecdote of the former war. He was at Turin with
     General Sinclair, after the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, and,
     considering the superiority which the French arms had gained,
     he could not conceive why France granted such good terms to
     Britain. He desired General Sinclair to touch upon that
     subject with the King of Sardinia. That prince, who was very
     familiar with the General, said he was at a loss to give any
     account of that matter; but, many years after, when Hume was
     minister in France, and lived in great intimacy with Monsieur
     Puysieux, Secretary of State, who had negociated the peace of
     Aix, Mr. Hume asked him the reason of the conduct of France at
     that time? Puysieux told him, that it was the king's aversion
     to war; that he knew more of it than any man alive, for, the
     year before the peace, he was ordered by the king to propose
     pretty near the same terms. He remonstrated against making the
     offer; said that at least the proposal should come from
     England; and that there was always some advantage to be gained
     by receiving, rather than propounding terms. The king was
     impatient, and obliged Puysieux to write the letter, (which
     General Ligonier carried,) with those terms which next year
     were agreed to by the British court. Mr. John Home said he
     knew that the King of France promoted the peace of Paris from
     the aversion he had to war; and the peace was made at a time
     when it seemed impossible for Britain to carry on a war of
     such extent, and retain her scattered conquests. Mr. Hume
     mentioned another singular anecdote concerning the beginning
     of the last war. When a squadron of the English fleet attacked
     and took two French men of war, the Alcide and the Lys, Louis
     XV. was so averse to war, that he would have pocketed the
     insult; and Madame Pompadour said it was better to put up with
     the affront, than to go to war without any object but the
     point of honour. It is known, that neither the king nor the
     ministers of England wished for war. The French king abhorred
     the thought of war!--What then was the cause? Chiefly the fear
     of the popular clamour, and of the opposition, in the Duke of
     Newcastle's mind. Mr. Hume thinks Lord North no great
     minister, but does not see a better; cannot give any reason
     for the incapacity and want of genius, civil and military,
     which marks this period. He looks upon the country as on the
     verge of decline. His fears seem rather too great, and things
     are not quite so bad as he apprehends; but certainly the first
     show of statesmen, generals, and admirals, is, without
     comparison, the worst that has been seen in this country. I
     said to Mr. Hume, that I thought the great consideration to be
     acquired by speaking in Parliament, was the cause of that want
     of every other quality in men of rank: they do speak readily,
     but there are many orators who can neither judge nor act well.

     _Wednesday, 31st April._

     Arrived in London, where we saw Sir John Pringle, who thought
     Mr. Hume much better than he expected to see him, and in no
     immediate danger. We staid a few days in London, and then set
     out for Bath.

     In travelling from London to Bath, we had occasion frequently
     to make our observations on the passengers whom we met, and on
     those who passed us, as every carriage continued to do.
     Nothing occurred worthy the writing down, except Mr. David's
     plan of managing his kingdom, in case Ferguson and I had been
     princes of the adjacent states. He knew very well, he said,
     (having often disputed the point with us,) the great opinion
     we had of military virtues as essential to every state; that
     from these sentiments rooted in us, he was certain he would be
     attacked and interrupted in his projects of cultivating,
     improving, and civilizing mankind by the arts of peace; that
     he comforted himself with reflecting, that from our want of
     economy and order in our affairs, we should be continually in
     want of money; whilst he would have his finances in excellent
     condition, his magazines well filled, and naval stores in
     abundance; but that his final stroke of policy, upon which he
     depended, was to give one of us a large subsidy to fall upon
     the other, which would infallibly secure to him peace and
     quiet, and after a long war, would probably terminate in his
     being master of all the three kingdoms. At this sally, so like
     David's manner of playing with his friends, I fell into a fit
     of laughing, in which David joined; and the people that passed
     us certainly thought we were very merry travellers.

We have the following account from his own pen of his sojourn at Bath.


"_Bath, 13th May, 1776._

"MY DEAR DOCTOR,--You have frequently heard me complain of my physical
friends, that they allowed me to die in the midst of them without so
much as giving a Greek name to my disorder: a consolation which was the
least I had reason to expect from them. Dr. Black, hearing this
complaint, told me that I should be satisfied in that particular, and
that my disorder was a hemorrhage, a word which it was easy to decompose
into αιμος[504:1] and ρηγνυμι. But Sir John Pringle says, that I
have no hemorrhage, but a spincture in the colon, which it will be easy
to cure. This disorder, as it both contained two Greek appellations and
was remediable, I was much inclined to prefer; when, behold! Dr. Gustard
tells me that he sees no symptoms of the former disorder, and as to the
latter, he never met with it and scarcely ever heard of it. He assures
me that my case is the most common of all Bath cases, to wit, a bilious
complaint, which the waters scarcely ever fail of curing: and he never
had a patient of whose recovery he had better hopes.

"Indeed the waters, in the short trial which I have made of them, (for I
have been here only four days,) seem to agree very well with me; and two
days ago I found myself so well, that, for the first time, I began to
entertain hopes of a reprieve. Yesterday I was not so well, from a
misunderstanding in new lodgings with regard to my bedding. My
whimsicalness in this particular surprises Dr. Gustard, and he knows not
what to make of it. By the by, this Dr. Gustard is an excellent kind of
man, very friendly, and I believe very intelligent. He assures me, as do
several others, that the summer is the best time for Bath waters: and if
they continue to agree with me I shall probably pass here that season. I
promised to General Conway, and Lady Aylesbury, that if I had recovered
so much health as to venture myself in company, I should pass some weeks
of the autumn at Park place. This is the only retardment I can foresee
to my return to Scotland before winter. My wishes carry me thither;
though the grievous loss we have suffered in friends makes the abode in
that country less pleasing to my fancy than formerly.

"You must have heard of the agreeable surprise which John Home put upon
me. We travelled up to London very cheerfully together, and thence to
this place, where we found Mrs. Home almost quite recovered. Never was
there a more friendly action, nor better placed; for what between
conversation and gaming, (not to mention sometimes squabbling,) I did
not pass a languid moment; and his company I am certain was the chief
cause why my journey had so good an effect: of which, however, I suppose
he has given too sanguine accounts, as is usual with him.[505:1]

"Be so good as to read this letter to Dr. Black and to Mr. Ferguson.
When I write to one, I suppose myself writing to all my friends: and I
also wish to comprehend the Principal in the number. Pray tell him that
Mrs. Macauley is settled in Bath, and though her muse seems now to be
mute, she is, if not a more illustrious, yet a more fortunate historian
than either of us. There is one Dr. Wilson, a man zealous for liberty,
who has made her a free and full present of a house of £2000 value, has
adopted her daughter by all the rites of Roman jurisprudence, and
intends to leave her all his fortune, which is considerable.

"Two ladies of my acquaintance have laid a scheme of bringing Lady
Huntingdon and me together, for her or my conversion. I wish I may have
spirits to humour this folly."[506:1]

On 10th June, Strahan wrote to Adam Smith, to say that he finds in a
letter from Sir John Pringle, giving an account of Hume's health, "that
all the good symptoms that attended his first trial of the Bath waters
are now vanished. His distemper has returned with its usual violence, so
he intends to leave that place and try Buxton."[506:2] He seems not to
have attempted this change, but returning straight from Bath, he sent,
on the way, invitations to a party of his friends to meet him at dinner.
The note addressed to Dr. Blair is as follows:

"Mr. John Hume,[506:3] alias Home, alias The Home, alias the late Lord
Conservator, alias the late minister of the gospel at Athelstaneford,
has calculated matters so as to arrive infallibly with his friend in St.
David's Street, on Wednesday evening. He has asked several of Dr.
Blair's friends to dine with him there on Thursday, being the 4th of
July, and begs the favour of the Doctor to make one of the

Thus did this knot of men, united in friendship by the greatness of
their talents, and their superiority to all things small and mean, meet
for the last time round the social board, to bid, as it were, a farewell
to him who had been the chief ornament and distinction of their circle.
The eyes of these affectionate friends sedulously and anxiously watched
the expiring flame--their pens have recorded the last scenes of its
existence, and leave to the ordinary biographer only the task of
embodying their statements in deferential silence. Nothing, therefore,
remains, but to put together, along with the few remaining letters by
Hume himself, the accounts furnished us by those who had the best means
of knowing the manner in which he spent the last few days of his life.

The following is his last letter to John Home.

"_Edinburgh, 6th August, 1776._

"MY DEAR JOHN,--I shall begin with telling you the only piece of good
news of the family, which is, that my nephew, in no more than two days
that he has staid here, has recovered so surprisingly, that he is
scarcely knowable, or rather is perfectly knowable, for he was not so on
his first arrival.[508:1] Such are the advantages of youth! His uncle
declines, if not with so great rapidity, yet pretty sensibly. Sunday,
ill; half of yesterday the same; easy at present; prepared to suffer a
little to-morrow; perhaps less the day after. Dr. Black says, I shall
not die of a dropsy, as I imagined, but of inanition and weakness. He
cannot, however, fix, with any probability, the time, otherwise he would
frankly tell me.

"Poor Edmondstoune and I parted to-day, with a plentiful effusion of
tears; all those _Belzebubians_[508:2] have not hearts of iron. I hope
you met with every thing well at Foggo, and receive nothing but good
news from Buxton. In spite of Dr. Black's caution, I venture to foretel
that I shall be yours cordially and sincerely till the month of October

Next in date is the following affectionate and considerate letter to
his nephew.

"_Edinburgh, 15th August, 1776._

"DEAR DAVY,--You need not doubt but your company, as well as your
father's, would have been very agreeable to me, especially at present,
for the consolation of your company; but I see the immediate
inconveniences that attend it. You cannot be well spared from Josey,
whose state of health, I am sorry to find, is still somewhat precarious;
and there is no immediate call for your being here. For besides that you
would but pass a melancholy time with me, however your affection might
cover it and relieve it, I am weakening very gradually, and am not
threatened with any immediate incident. I shall probably have more
warning, in which case I shall not fail to summon you; and I shall never
die in satisfaction without embracing you. I doubt not but my name would
have procured you friends and credit, in the course of your life,
especially if my brother had allowed you to carry it, for who will know
it in the present disguise? But as he is totally obstinate on this head,
I believe we had better let him alone. I have frequently told him, that
it is lucky for him he sees few things in a wrong light, for where he
does he is totally incurable. I am very much at my ease to-day. I beg my
compliments to all your family. Your affectionate uncle."[509:1]

Of the manner in which he conducted himself when he had come near to the
end of his days, Adam Smith tells us:--

     His cheerfulness was so great, and his conversation and
     amusements run so much in their usual strain, that,
     notwithstanding all bad symptoms, many people could not
     believe he was dying. "I shall tell your friend, Colonel
     Edmondstoune," said Dr. Dundas to him one day, "that I left
     you much better, and in a fair way of recovery." "Doctor,"
     said he, "as I believe you would not choose to tell any thing
     but the truth, you had better tell him, that I am dying as
     fast as my enemies, if I have any, could wish, and as easily
     and cheerfully as my best friends could desire." Colonel
     Edmondstoune soon afterwards came to see him, and take leave
     of him; and on his way home, he could not forbear writing him
     a letter, bidding him once more an eternal adieu, and applying
     to him, as to a dying man, the beautiful French verses in
     which the Abbé Chaulieu, in expectation of his own death,
     laments his approaching separation from his friend, the
     Marquis de la Fare.[510:1] Mr. Hume's magnanimity and firmness
     were such, that his most affectionate friends knew that they
     hazarded nothing in talking or writing to him as to a dying
     man, and that so far from being hurt by this frankness, he was
     rather pleased and flattered by it. I happened to come into
     his room while he was reading this letter, which he had just
     received, and which he immediately showed me. I told him, that
     though I was sensible how very much he was weakened, and that
     appearances were in many respects very bad, yet his
     cheerfulness was still so great, the spirit of life seemed
     still to be so very strong in him, that I could not help
     entertaining some faint hopes. He answered, "Your hopes are
     groundless. An habitual diarrhœa of more than a year's
     standing, would be a very bad disease at any age: at my age it
     is a mortal one. When I lie down in the evening, I feel myself
     weaker than when I rose in the morning; and when I rise in the
     morning, weaker than when I lay down in the evening. I am
     sensible, besides, that some of my vital parts are affected,
     so that I must soon die." "Well," said I, "if it must be so,
     you have at least the satisfaction of leaving all your
     friends, your brother's family in particular, in great
     prosperity." He said that he felt that satisfaction so
     sensibly, that when he was reading, a few days before,
     Lucian's Dialogues of the Dead, among all the excuses which
     are alleged to Charon for not entering readily into his boat,
     he could not find one that fitted him; he had no house to
     finish, he had no daughter to provide for, he had no enemies
     upon whom he wished to revenge himself. "I could not well
     imagine," said he, "what excuse I could make to Charon in
     order to obtain a little delay. I have done every thing of
     consequence which I ever meant to do; and I could at no time
     expect to leave my relations and friends in a better situation
     than that in which I am now likely to leave them. I therefore
     have all reason to die contented." He then diverted himself
     with inventing several jocular excuses, which he supposed he
     might make to Charon, and with imagining the very surly
     answers which it might suit the character of Charon to return
     to them. "Upon further consideration," said he, "I thought I
     might say to him, 'Good Charon, I have been correcting my
     works for a new edition. Allow me a little time, that I may
     see how the public receives the alterations.' But Charon would
     answer, 'When you have seen the effect of these, you will be
     for making other alterations. There will be no end of such
     excuses; so, honest friend, please step into the boat.' But I
     might still urge, 'Have a little patience, good Charon; I have
     been endeavouring to open the eyes of the public. If I live a
     few years longer, I may have the satisfaction of seeing the
     downfal of some of the prevailing systems of superstition.'
     But Charon would then lose all temper and decency. 'You
     loitering rogue, that will not happen these many hundred
     years. Do you fancy I will grant you a lease for so long a
     term? Get into the boat this instant, you lazy loitering

     But, though Mr. Hume always talked of his approaching
     dissolution with great cheerfulness, he never affected to make
     any parade of his magnanimity. He never mentioned the subject
     but when the conversation naturally led to it, and never dwelt
     longer upon it than the course of the conversation happened to

How much his mind continued to be occupied with all that it had taken
interest in, in the days of his health and enjoyment, the following
letter, written five days before his death, will show:--


"_Edinburgh, 20th of August, 1776._

"THOUGH I am certainly within a few weeks, dear madam, and, perhaps,
within a few days of my own death, I could not forbear being struck with
the death of the Prince of Conti--so great a loss in every particular.
My reflection carried me immediately to your situation in this
melancholy incident. What a difference to you in your whole plan of
life! Pray write me some particulars; but in such terms that you need
not care, in case of decease, into whose hands your letter may fall.

"My distemper is a diarrhœa, or disorder in my bowels, which has been
gradually undermining me these two years; but, within these six months,
has been visibly hastening me to my end. I see death approach
gradually, without any anxiety or regret. I salute you, with great
affection and regard, for the last time."[514:1]

Smith, proceeding with his narrative, says, "He had now become so very
weak, that the company of his most intimate friends fatigued him; for
his cheerfulness was still so great, his complaisance and social
disposition were still so entire, that when any friend was with him, he
could not help talking more, and with greater exertion, than suited the
weakness of his body. At his own desire, therefore, I agreed to leave
Edinburgh, where I was staying, partly upon his account, and returned to
my mother's house here, at Kirkaldy, upon condition that he would send
for me whenever he wished to see me; the physician who saw him most
frequently, Dr. Black, undertaking, in the mean time, to write me,
occasionally, an account of the state of his health.

"On the 22d of August, the Doctor wrote me the following letter:--

"'Since my last, Mr. Hume has passed his time pretty easily, but is much
weaker. He sits up, goes down stairs once a-day, and amuses himself with
reading, but seldom sees any body. He finds that even the conversation
of his most intimate friends fatigues and oppresses him; and it is happy
that he does not need it, for he is quite free from anxiety, impatience,
or low spirits, and passes his time very well with the assistance of
amusing books.'

"I received, the day after, a letter from Mr. Hume himself, of which the
following is an extract.

'_Edinburgh 23d August, 1776._

'MY DEAREST FRIEND,--I am obliged to make use of my nephew's hand in
writing to you, as I do not rise to-day. . . . . . . .

'I go very fast to decline, and last night had a small fever, which I
hoped might put a quicker period to this tedious illness; but,
unluckily, it has, in a great measure, gone off. I cannot submit to your
coming over here on my account, as it is possible for me to see you so
small a part of the day; but Doctor Black can better inform you
concerning the degree of strength which may, from time to time, remain
with me. Adieu,' &c.[515:1]

"Three days after I received the following letter from Doctor Black:--

     '_Edinburgh, Monday, 26th August, 1776._

     'DEAR SIR,--Yesterday, about four o'clock, afternoon, Mr. Hume
     expired. The near approach of his death became evident in the
     night between Thursday and Friday, when his disease became
     excessive, and soon weakened him so much that he could no
     longer rise out of his bed. He continued, to the last,
     perfectly sensible, and free from much pain or feelings of
     distress. He never dropped the smallest expression of
     impatience; but, when he had occasion to speak to the people
     about him, always did it with affection and tenderness. I
     thought it improper to write to you to bring you over,
     especially as I heard that he had dictated a letter to you
     desiring you not to come. When he became very weak, it cost
     him an effort to speak; and he died in such a happy composure
     of mind that nothing could exceed it.'"

The world is fortunately in possession of an account of this event, by
another scientific man of no less eminence, the great Dr. Cullen. From a
letter which he wrote to Dr. Hunter, on 17th September, the following
extracts are made:

     You desire an account of Mr. Hume's last days, and I give it
     you with some pleasure; for, though I could not look upon him
     in his illness without much concern, yet the tranquillity and
     pleasantry which he constantly discovered did, even then, give
     me satisfaction; and, now that the curtain is dropped, allows
     me indulge the less alloyed reflection. It was truly an
     example "des grands hommes qui sont morts en
     plaisantant;"[516:1] and to me, who have been so often shocked
     with the horrors of the superstitious on such occasions, the
     reflexion on such a death is truly agreeable. For many weeks
     before his death, he was very sensible of his gradual decay;
     and his answer to inquiries after his health was, several
     times, that he was going as fast as his enemies could wish,
     and as easily as his friends could desire. He was not,
     however, without a frequent recurrence of pain and uneasiness;
     but he passed most part of the day in his drawing-room,
     admitted the visits of his friends, and with his usual spirit
     conversed with them upon literature, politics, or whatever
     else was accidentally started. In conversation he seemed to be
     perfectly at ease, and to the last abounded with that
     pleasantry, and those curious and entertaining anecdotes,
     which ever distinguished him. This, however, I always
     considered rather as an effort to be agreeable, and he at
     length acknowledged that it became too much for his strength.
     For a few days before his death, he became more averse to
     receive visits; speaking became more and more difficult for
     him; and, for twelve hours before his death, his speech failed
     altogether. His senses and judgment did not fail till the last
     hour of his life. He constantly discovered a strong
     sensibility to the attention and care of his friends, and,
     amidst great uneasiness and languor, never betrayed any
     peevishness or impatience. . . . . .[516:2]

     These are a few particulars, which may perhaps appear
     trifling, but to me no particulars seem trifling that relate
     to so great a man. It is perhaps from trifles that we can best
     distinguish the tranquillity and cheerfulness of the
     philosopher, at a time when the most part of mankind are under
     disquiet, anxiety, and sometimes even horror. I consider the
     sacrifice of the cock as a more certain evidence of the
     tranquillity of Socrates, than his discourse on

The death and burial of so distinguished a fellow citizen, were
naturally the objects of much attention among the inhabitants of
Edinburgh. On the one hand his unpopular opinions; on the other, the
blameless character of his life and his great genius, excited
conflicting opinions, and these giving zest to public attention and
curiosity, attracted crowds to witness his funeral, and to look with
mingled feelings, on the spot where his remains were, by the injunctions
of his will, deposited.[517:2]

On the declivity of the Calton Hill there is an old grave-yard, which
seventy years ago was in the open country beyond the boundary of the
city of Edinburgh, and even at the present day, when it is the centre of
a wide circumference of streets and terraces, has an air of solitude,
from its elevated site, and the abrupt rocky banks that separate it from
the crowded thoroughfares. There, on a conspicuous point of rock,
beneath a circular monument built after the simple and solemn fashion of
the old Roman tombs, lies the dust of David Hume. Whither the immortal
spirit that gave life to it is gone, let no man too presumptuously
pronounce; but let us rather contemplate with respectful awe, that
unseen essence which the Deity had imbued with so great a power over the
intellects of men, and believe that this wide sway over the destinies of
the human species had its own wise and beneficent design, and was no
produce of malign influences or untoward accidents. Fallacies may be the
brilliant insects of a day, but truth is eternal; and when the searcher
in philosophy groping amid the darkness of man's imperfect reason,
produces falsehoods, they are speedily forgotten; but if he develop
great truths, they live to bless his species for ever. There are few who
will now deny that mankind have learned many valuable truths of David
Hume. The wide influence of his mind over thought and action, during the
last hundred years, is expressed in the mere naming of the systems of
which he was the author or suggester.

His Metaphysical labours gave birth to two great schools of philosophy.
The one rising at his own door, endeavoured by powerful and earnest
efforts to reconstruct in a more rational and substantial form the old
system which he had sapped--the other in a distant land, where new
lights of science had begun to burn, sought to raise mental philosophy
from its original elements, purified of the dross and rubbish that had
rendered the old materials cumbrous and unsafe, and to endow the whole
with fresh life and a new form and structure.[519:1]

In Ethics he was the first to make an Utilitarian morality assume the
aspect of a theoretical system, which it was the task of a great
successor, aided by subordinate labourers, to apply to the practical
operations of mankind, and to spread widely over the earth.

In History he was the first to divert attention from wars, treaties, and
successions, to the living progress of the people, in all that increases
their civilization and their happiness. The example thus set has been
the chief service of the "History of England;" yet, with all the faults
of its matter, its purely literary merits have been so great, that, as a
classical and popular work, it has hitherto encountered no rival.[519:2]

But his triumphs in Political Economy are those which, in the present
day, stand forth with the greatest prominence and lustre. In no long
time, a hundred years will have elapsed from the day when Hume told the
world, what the legislature of this country is now declaring, that
national exclusiveness in trade was as foolish as it was wicked; that no
nation could profit by stopping the natural flood of commerce between
itself and the rest of the world; that commercial restrictions deprive
the nations of the earth "_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_;" and that, like
the healthy circulation of the blood in living bodies, Free Trade is the
vital principle by which the nations of the earth are to become united
in one harmonious whole.[520:1] Those who, with a reverential eye, have
marked the wonders of the animal structure, and discovered beauty,
utility, and harmonious purpose, where presumptuous ignorance has found
uselessness or deformity; or have seen the lower animals, each working
in its own blind ignorance, gregariously constructing a fabric more
perfect, on philosophical principles, than human science can
create,--have thence drawn vivid pictures of the wisdom and goodness
with which the world is ordered. May we not extend this harmony to the
social economy of the globe, and say, that the spirit of activity and
enterprise, harmonizing with the dispersal of the different bounties of
Providence in the distant regions of the globe, are part of the same
harmonious system; that the love of commerce and the desire of
aggrandisement, which in the eye of a narrow philosophy assume the air
of selfish and repulsive passions, represent themselves, when they are
left to their legitimate course, as motives implanted in us for the
great purposes of securing mutual dependance and kind offices, and their
fruits, peace and good-will, throughout the great family of mankind. To
be the first to teach that the earth is not doomed to the eternal curse
of rivalry and strife, and to open up so wide a prospect of beneficence,
may be an atonement for many errors, and in the eye of good taste may
justify the brief assumption of conscious superiority, in which the
subject of this memoir indulged, when he desired that the inscription on
his monument should contain only his name, with the year of his birth
and of his death. _Leaving it to posterity to add the rest._


[439:1] Account of Home, p. 20.

[441:1] It has been said that, having once given a guinea by mistake to
a beggar, the man, who was a respectable member of his trade, returned
and explained the mistake. He was permitted to keep the coin, the
philosopher observing, "Oh, Honesty--how poor a dwelling-place hast thou

[444:1] Account of John Home, p. 20-21.

[445:1] See, on this amusement of character drawing, vol. i. p. 226.

[446:1] Lives of the Lindsays. By Lord Lindsay. Vol. ii. p. 183.

[449:1] Among the traditional anecdotes of his habits, one is, that
going to sup with Mrs. Cockburn, and not arriving until after the choice
of the good things had been consumed, when some effort was made to cater
for him, he said, "Trouble yourself very little about what you have, or
how it appears; you know I am no epicure, but only a glutton." Mr.
Chambers says, (Scottish Jests, p. 171,) that he took down this anecdote
from one who was present.

These literary parties at Mrs. Cockburn's, appear to have been frequent
and agreeable. A gentleman still living, was present at many of them
when a youth, and particularly recollects one occasion when a tipsy
relative of that lady chose to lock the door of the room where the
walking habiliments of the guests were preserved. A general borrowing of
articles of clothing from surrounding neighbours took place, and those
which fell to Hume's lot, happened to produce a peculiarly ludicrous

[450:1] It is given without reference to authority, in Prior's Life of
Burke, vol. i. p. 98.

[450:2] In one instance, a vivid recollection was preserved of the
difficulty, from his fatness, of getting sufficient room on his knee,
and the necessity of keeping fast hold of the corner of his laced

[452:1] He seems, from this and other notices, to have been occasionally
absent in his habits; but there is no such collection of practical
illustrations of this failing, as we possess in the case of Smith and
others. I only remember having heard of one trifling instance, of which
I had an account from an eye-witness. Hume had been dining with Dr.
Jardine, and there had been much conversation about "internal light." In
descending the stair leading from the Doctor's "flat," when he left the
party, Hume failed to observe that after so many flights which reached
the street door, there was, according to a not uncommon practice,
another flight of stairs leading to the cellars. He continued his
descent, accordingly, till the very end, where some time afterwards he
was found in extreme darkness and perplexity, wondering how it was that
he could find no outlet. The circumstance bore rather curiously on some
opinions he had been maintaining, and Jardine said, shaking his head,
"Oh David! where is your internal light?"

[452:2] Diary of a Lover of Literature.--_Gentleman's Magazine_, N.S. i.

[455:1] The passage here omitted will be found above, vol. i. p. 97.

[455:2] MS. R.S.E. In citing this letter above, vol. i. p. 98, it is
stated that on one MS. there is noted a supposition that it was
addressed to Dr. Traill--on another that it was addressed to Gilbert
Stuart. I now think it must have been addressed to Dr. John Stewart,
Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, and that
it related to his "Remarks on the Laws of Motion and the Inertion of
Matter," published in "Essays and Observations physical and literary,
read before a Society in Edinburgh."

[457:1] Minute-book of The Poker Club, in possession of Sir Adam

[459:1] MS. R.S.E.

[461:1] MS. R.S.E.

[461:2] MS. R.S.E.

[461:3] Of the East India Company's service, author of "The History of
Hindostan, translated from the Persian," 1803.

[462:1] _Edinburgh Monthly Magazine_, Sept. 1810.

[465:1] See above, p. 220.

[465:2] _Edinburgh Magazine_, 1788, p. 340.

[466:1] MS. R.S.E.

[467:1] MS. R.S.E.

[467:2] Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland, from the dissolution of
the last parliament of Charles II. until the sea battle of La Hogue, 3
vols. 4to.

[467:3] MS. R.S.E.

[468:1] William Smellie, the respectable printer of the Magazine, seems
to have led an uneasy life, between the quarrels and the dissipation of
his editor, of which he has left some picturesque memorials. Having come
one night to Smellie's house on magazine business in a very advanced
stage of intoxication, Stuart was charitably put to bed. Roused in the
middle of the night by an immense outcry from the awakened editor,
Smellie rushed to the bedroom in his night clothes. Stuart sitting up in
bed and glaring around him, immediately associated the respectable
printer's presence with the places in which he was himself accustomed to
waken, and said,--"Smellie, I never expected to find _you_ in such a
place: put on your clothes, and go back to your wife and family, I shall
never say a word about this." A journey of six miles, from Edinburgh to
Musselburgh, made by Stuart and some of his companions, in which, by
reason of the abundance of good cheer on the way, they occupied several
days, seems to have been fruitful in adventures. One of the party
falling asleep among the ashes of a steam engine, wakened in the night,
and found himself in the presence of a great red furnace, surrounded by
dusky figures clanging bolts and chains. Associating the exhibition with
the course of life he had been running, and its probable reward, he was
heard to exclaim, "Good God, is it come to this at last!"--See _Kerr's
Memoirs of Smellie_.

[470:1] D'Israeli's Calamities of Authors, ii. 67. The letter, after
such exhortations as the following,--"Strike by all means: the wretch
will tremble, grow pale, and return with a consciousness of his
debility," winds up with the assurance, "When you have an enemy to
attack, I shall in return give my best assistance, and aim at him a
mortal blow, and rush forward to his overthrow, though the flames of
hell should start up to oppose me."

[470:2] The _proof_, with Hume's corrections, is in the possession of
John Christison, Esq., who has kindly allowed me to make this use of it.
The last paragraph is a manuscript addition made in correcting the
proof. The substance of Hume's praise was probably given to Henry in
some other form; for a portion of the analytical part of the review is
printed in a memoir of Henry, in _The Gentleman's Magazine_, (vol. lxxi.
p. 907,) as written by "one of the most eminent historians of the
present age, whose history of the same period possesses the highest

[471:1] Madame Geoffrin, in writing to Hume, notices Franklin's
imperfect acquaintance with the French language; this must have been one
of the difficulties which his matchless perseverance conquered.

I may mention that, aware that Hume had written to Franklin, I thought
it not unlikely that the letters might be incorporated in the elaborate
edition of his "Life and Correspondence" by Sparkes. Unfortunately
trusting to the copy in the British Museum, I found, at the last moment,
that that copy was imperfect, and did not afford the means of
ascertaining whether they were published in the work.

[471:2] MS. R.S.E.

[472:1] A specimen of the _Scots Review_, a thin duodecimo pamphlet, is
now very rare. Its chief object of attention is "that great necromancer
and magician David Hume." It is not inaptly described by the _Scots

"It professes to give a prospectus, and a specimen of an intended new
review; but the whole object seems to have been to laugh at some
individuals obnoxious to the writer, and particularly to ridicule the
virulence, and to lower the pretensions of those who had signalized
themselves by their attacks upon the philosophical writings of Mr. Hume;
a promise is held out, that this arch-infidel is himself to be reviewed
in the first place; and next, those authors who have waged a holy war
against him; of whom a list is given, with their characters, the
delineation of which, in no very favourable colours, appears, as already
mentioned, to have exhausted the main object of the piece, though one or
two gentle hits are aimed at the historian himself."

[472:2] Rev. Thomas Hepburn, minister of Athelstaneford.

[472:3] _Scots Mag._ New Series. Vol. i.

[473:1] Original in possession of the Cambusmore family.

[474:1] MS. R.S.E.

[474:2] Addressed, "Mr. David Hume, at Ninewells, with a great coat."

[474:3] Professor Millar of Glasgow.

[475:1] MS. R.S.E.

[476:1] Mackenzie's account of Home, p. 158.

[477:1] MS. R.S.E.

[477:2] Strahan's letters were carefully preserved by Hume. On
application to those who would be likely to possess Hume's side of the
correspondence, if it existed, I was informed that it was Mr. Strahan's
practice to destroy all the letters addressed to him; but I was very
politely favoured with a copy of one of his own letters, which Mr.
Strahan had preserved.

[478:1] MS. R.S.E.

[479:1] _Lit. Gazette_, 1822, p. 637. Corrected from original MS. R.S.E.

[482:1] MS. R.S.E. Addressed, "Mr. David Hume, at Mr. Professor
Millar's, at Glasgow." The blanks are caused by a stripe having been
torn off the side of the letter.

[483:1] Mackenzie's Account of Home, p. 160.

[484:1] MS. R.S.E.

[485:1] Life of Gibbon.

[486:1] From this it would appear that Hume had opened up in his own
mind, the theory of rent, afterwards successively suggested by Dr.
Anderson and Ricardo, without the latter, it is believed, knowing that
he had been anticipated by the author of the _Bee_.

[487:1] MS. R.S.E.

[488:1] The letter is of such a character, as one medical man might be
supposed to write to another. Black was no pedant, and he writes as if
his correspondent knew the technicalities of the science in their full
practical meaning,--an addition to the many illustrations of the varied
range of scientific knowledge, at the command of the master of political

[489:1] The following provision is in a codicil: "I also leave for
rebuilding the bridge of Churnside the sum of a hundred pounds; but on
condition that the manager of the bridge shall take none of the stones
for building the bridge from the quarry of Ninewells, except from that
part of the quarry which has been already opened." With reference to
this, Dr. Cullen, in the letter cited, p. 516, says, "In the
neighbourhood of his brother's house, in Berwickshire, is a brook, by
which the access in time of floods is frequently interrupted. Mr. Hume
bequeaths £100 for building a bridge over this brook, but upon the
express condition that none of the stones for that purpose shall be
taken from a quarry in the neighbourhood, which forms part of a romantic
scene, in which, in his earlier days, Mr. Hume took particular delight."
This is the only authenticated instance that I remember to have met with
of Hume's attachment to local scenery. It is a tradition in Edinburgh,
that he was fond of walking along the base of Salisbury Crags.

[490:1] In 1773, Smith, apparently in bad health, wrote to Hume,
desiring him to take charge of his manuscripts in case of his own
predecease, (MS. R.S.E.) This, and some other letters by Smith, I might
have been tempted to print in this work, had I not the satisfaction of
knowing that they are likely soon to be published under the auspices of
Lord Brougham.

[490:2] MS. R.S.E.

[492:1] MS. R.S.E.

[493:1] MS. R.S.E.

[494:1] MS. R.S.E.

[494:2] MS. R.S.E.

[495:1] In the Appendix to Mackenzie's Account of the Life of Home.

[497:1] It is curious to observe, that the object of this united
prediction was that same Loménie de Brienne, who was put at the head of
affairs before the outbreak of the revolution, and who left behind him
so undisputed a character of utter incapacity to be a statesman in
difficult times.

[499:1] Probably M. Trudaine de Montigny, frequently mentioned above,
whose son translated Hume's "Natural History of Religion." See above, p.

[499:2] This anecdote is told nearly in the same words, in one of
Walpole's posthumous works. Memoirs of George III. vol. ii. p. 240.

[504:1] αιμα.

[505:1] This paragraph is printed by Mackenzie.

[506:1] MS. R.S.E.

[506:2] MS. R.S.E.

[506:3] David Hume, as many of his letters must have shown, persisted in
spelling his friend's name thus. To commemorate t