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12.: From DAVID HUME - Adam Smith, Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence Vol. 6 Correspondence of Adam Smith 
Correspondence of Adam Smith, ed. E. C. Mossner and I. S. Ross, vol. VI of the Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1987).
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From DAVID HUME
MS., RSE ii. 25; HL i.167–9.
24 Sept. 1752
I confess, I was once of the same Opinion with you, and thought that the best Period to begin an English History was about Henry the 7th.1 But you will please to observe, that the Change, which then happen’d in public Affairs, was very insensible, and did not display its Influence till many Years afterwards. Twas under James that the House of Commons began first to raise their Head, and then the Quarrel betwixt Privilege and Prerogative commenc’d. The Government, no longer opprest by the enormous Authority of the Crown, display’d its Genius; and the Factions, which then arose, having an Influence on our present Affairs, form the most curious, interesting, and instructive Part of our History. The preceding Events or Causes may easily be shown in a Reflection or Review, which may be artfully inserted in the Body of the Work and the whole, by that means, be render’d more compact and uniform. I confess, that the Subject appears to me very fine; and I enter upon it with great Ardour and Pleasure. You need not doubt of my Perseverance.2
I am just now diverted for a Moment by correcting my Essays moral and political, for a new Edition.3 If any thing occur to you to be inserted or retrench’d, I shall be obligd to you for the Hint. In case you shou’d not have the last Edition4 by you, I shall send you a Copy of it. In that Edition, I was engag’d to act contrary to my Judgement in retaining the 6th and 7th Essays,5 which I had resolv’d to throw out, as too frivolous for the rest, and not very agreeable neither even in that trifling manner: But Millar, my Bookseller,6 made such Protestations against it, and told me how much he had heard them praisd by the best Judges; that the Bowels of a Parent melted, and I preserv’d them alive.
All the rest of Bolingbroke’s Works went to the Press last Week, as Millar informs me.7 I confess my Curiosity is not much rais’d.
I had almost lost your Letter by its being wrong directed. I receiv’d it late; which was the Reason why you got not sooner a Copy of Joannes Magnus.8 Direct to me in Riddal’s Land, Lawn Market.9 I am Dear Sir Yours sincerely
[1 ]Smith has much to say about history and historians in LRBL, especially nos. 16–20, but he does not express there the opinion ascribed to him by Hume.
[2 ]Hume commenced his History of England with the reigns of James I and Charles I (vol. i, published in 1754), dealt with the period from the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 to the Revolution of 1688 (vol. ii, 1757), turned back to the Tudors (vols. iii, iv, 1759), and then concluded with the period from Julius Caesar to the accession of Henry VII (vols. v, vi, 1762).
[3 ]Published in 1753 as vol. i of Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects.
[5 ]Of Love and Marriage and Of the Study of History: they were dropped after 1760.
[6 ]Andrew Millar (1707–68), born in Edinburgh, moved to London to become the most famous bookseller (publisher) of his time: ‘I respect Millar, Sir,’ said Dr. Johnson, ‘he has raised the price of literature’ (BLJ i. 288). Millar began publishing Hume’s writings in 1748, and he published TMS: see Letter 31 from Hume, dated 12 Apr. 1759. His other leading authors were Johnson, Thomson, Fielding, and Robertson.
[7 ]Letters on the Study and Use of History (priv. ptd. before Bolingbroke’s death) published under the editorship of David Mallet in 1752, together with other pieces, in two volumes. Johnson expressed himself in violent terms about the posthumous publication of Bolingbroke’s works, calling him ‘a scoundrel, for charging a blunderbuss against religion and morality; a coward, because he had not resolution to fire it off himself, but left half a crown to a beggarly Scotchman, to draw the trigger after his death!’ (BLJ i. 268) Smith’s scruples over undertaking to publish the Dialogues concerning Natural Religion after Hume’s death may have arisen from the response to Mallet’s publication; see J. H. Burton’s Hume (Edinburgh, 1846), ii. 491, and, below, Letter 157 from Hume, dated 3 May 1776.
[8 ]Possibly Gothorum Suionumque historia, ex probatissimis monumentis collecta by Joannes Magnus, Archbishop of Uppsala (1st ed. Rome, 1554), or Orationes duae, quarum altera est de praestantia Academiae Parisiensis, altera de philosophia eleganter et Latine tractanda, by Joannes Magnus (Carnutis) (Paris, 1584). Neither book, however, is listed in the catalogue of Smith’s library. Could Magnus be an error for Major? Smith had a copy of Historia Maioris Britanniae tam Angliae quam Scotiae per Joannem Maiorem ([Paris], 1521).
[9 ]Hume secured a house in Riddle’s Land, on the south side of the Lawnmarket, Edinburgh, about May 1752; see HL i.170.