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31.: 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., NLS Acc. 776 (Robertson Papers); NHL 51–5.
Lisle Street, Leicester Fields, 12 Apr. 1759
I give you thanks for the agreeable Present of your Theory1 Wedderburn2 and I made Presents of our Copies to such of our Acquaintance as we thought good Judges, and proper to spread the Reputation of the Book. I sent one to the Duke of Argyle,3 to Lord Lyttleton,4 Horace Walpole,5 Soames Jennyns,6 and Burke,7 an Irish Gentleman, who wrote lately a very pretty Treatise on the Sublime. Millar desird my Permission to send one in your Name to Dr Warburton.8 I have delayd writing to you till I cou’d tell you something of the Success of the Book, and coud prognosticate with some Probability whether it shoud be finally damnd to Oblivion, or shoud be registerd in the Temple of Immortality. Tho’ it has been publishd only a few Weeks, I think there appear already such strong Symptoms, that I can almost venture to fortell 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 Rouets Office Vacant upon his going abroad with Lord Hope.9 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 shou’d fail. Ferguson has very much polishd and improved his Treatise on Refinement,10 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.11 I am afraid of Lord Kaims’s Law Tracts.12 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 Scotch Law. However, the Book, I believe, has Merit; tho’ few People will take the Pains of diving into it. But to return to your Book, and its Success in this Town, I must tell you — — A Plague of Interruptions! I orderd myself to be deny’d; 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.13 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 oblig’d him to strike it out.14 Voltaire15 has lately publishd a small Work calld Candide, ou L’optimisme. It is full of Sprightliness and Impiety, and is indeed a Satyre upon Providence, under Pretext of criticizing the Leibnitian System. 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 Judgements of Men: How little they are regulatd by Reason in any Subject, much more in philosophical Subjects, which so far exceed the Comprehension of the Vulgar. Non si quid improba Roma, Elevet, accedas examenque improbum in illa, Perpendas trutina, nec te quaesiveris extra.16 A wise man’s Kingdom is his own Breast: Or, if he ever looks farther, it will only be to the Judgement of a select few, who are free from Prejudices, and capable of examining his Work. Nothing indeed can be a stronger Presumption of Falshood 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 duely prepard 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 disposd to applaud it extremely. It was lookd 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 calld yesterday at Millar’s Shop in order to buy Copies, and to ask Questions about the Author: The Bishop of Peterborough17 said he had passd the Evening in a Company, where he heard it extolld above all Books in the World. You may conclude what Opinion true Philosophers will entertain of it, when these Retainers to Superstition praise it so highly. The Duke of Argyle is more decisive than he uses 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 Lyttleton says, that Robertson18 and Smith and Bower19 are the Glories of English Literature. Oswald20 protests he does not know whether he has reap’d more Instruction or Entertainment from it: But you may easily judge what Reliance can be put on his Judgement, who has been engagd 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,21 who passes for the cleverest Fellow in England, is so taken with the Performance, that he said to Oswald he wou’d put the Duke of Buccleugh under the Authors Care, and woud endeavour to make it worth his while to accept of that Charge.22 As soon as I heard this, I calld 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 coud not hope, that he coud offer you any Terms, which woud tempt you to renounce your Professorship: But I missd him. Mr Townsend passes for being a little uncertain in his Resolutions; so perhaps you need not build much on this Sally.
In recompense for so many mortifying things, which nothing but Truth coud have extorted from me, and which I coud easily have multiply’d 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 etc. I suppose you are glad to see my Paper end, and that I am obligd to conclude with
Your humble Servant
[1 ]TMS which Millar had just brought out; see Letter 33 from Andrew Millar, dated 26 Apr. 1759.
[2 ]Alexander Wedderburn.
[3 ]Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll.
[4 ]Sir George, afterwards Lord, Lyttleton (1709–73); politician, patron, and man of letters; Lord of Treasury 1744–54; Chancellor of Exchequer 1756; author of Dialogues of the Dead (1760), and History of the Life of Henry the Second (1767–71).
[5 ]Horace Walpole (1717–97) of Strawberry Hill, Mdx., 3rd s. of Sir Robert Walpole; 4th Earl of Orford, 1791; dilettante memorialist and famous letter writer, also remembered for his ‘Gothic’ novel, The Castle of Otranto (1764); educ. Eton and Cambridge; on the Grand Tour with Thomas Gray, 1739–41; M.P. 1741–68; played a conspicuous part in the Hume–Rousseau quarrel of 1766.
[6 ]Soame Jenyns (1704–87), M.P. 1742–60; author of Free Enquiry into the Nature and Origin of Evil (1757) and View of the Internal Evidence of the Christian Religion (1777).
[7 ]Edmund Burke (1729–97), author and statesman, by this time had written a Vindication of Natural Society (1756) and A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757). See Letter 38 from Edmund Burke dated 10 Sept. 1759.
[8 ]William Warburton (1698–1779), churchman (Dean of Bristol 1757; Bp. of Gloucester 1759–79) and controversialist; castigated by Hume in My Own Life; ‘I found by Dr Warburton’s Railing that [my] Books were beginning to be esteemed in good Company’, and again, ‘. . . the illiberal Petulance, Arrogance, and Scurrility which distinguishes the Warburtonian School’. See E. C. Mossner, ‘Hume’s Four Dissertations’, Modern Philogy xlviii (1950) 37–57, and A. W. Evans, Warburton and the Warburtonians (London, 1932).
[9 ]William Rouet (Rouat, Ruet), Professor of Oriental Languages, Glasgow, 1751; Professor of Church History 1752; travelling tutor to Lord Hope (d. 1765) 1759; resigned from Glasgow University, 1762, amid controversy; see Letter 59 from Lord Erroll, dated 27 Oct. 1761, and Scott 190–5.
[10 ]No work of Ferguson’s by this title was published, but the reference may be to an early draft or part of An Essay on the History of Civil Society.
[11 ]Hume wrote this letter, see Critical Review, Apr. 1759, reprinted. Hume, Phil. Wks. iv. 425–37.
[12 ]Historical Law–Tracts, 2 vols. (Edinburgh, 1758).
[13 ]Claude–Adrien Helvétius (1715–71), philosopher, author of De l’esprit (1758), which was condemned by the Parlement of Paris and burnt, 10 Feb. 1762.
[14 ]Dated 1 Apr. 1759; MS., RSE v. 50: ‘Votre nom honore mon livre, et je l’aurois cité plus souvent, si la sévérité du censeur me l’eût permis.’ The censor was Chrétien–Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malesherbes (1721–94), who carried out his duties with restraint, seeing to it, for example, that the Encyclopédie was published despite its subversive tendencies.
[15 ]François–Marie Arouet (1694–1778), under the pen name of Voltaire, the great French man of letters whose Candide had just appeared. Smith met him at Ferney and was his lifelong admirer.
[16 ]Persius, Sat. I, 5–7;
[If confused Rome makes light of anything, do not go up and correct the deceitful tongue in that balance of theirs, or look to anyone beside yourself.]
[17 ]Richard Terrick (1710–77), Bishop of Peterborough 1757–64, and of London 1764–77.
[18 ]William Robertson (1721–93), historian, Church statesman, and university administrator; had just published his History of Scotland (1759); to come were his History of Charles V (1769) and History of America (1771), also an unfinished History of India (1791). He was principal of Edinburgh University, from 1762, and Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, from 1763, for most of the remainder of his life.
[19 ]Archibald Bower (1686–1766) pamphleteer and author of a History of the Popes (1748–66); a protégé of Lyttleton’s.
[20 ]James Oswald of Dunnikier.
[21 ]The Hon. Charles Townshend (1725–67) of Adderbury, Oxon.; statesman; his troubled personality is now believed to have been affected by an epileptic tendency; M.P. 1747–d.; Lord of Admiralty 1754; Treasurer of the Chamber 1756; Secretary–at–War 1761–2; President of the Board of Trade 1763; Paymaster–General 1765; Chancellor of the Exchequer 1766–d.; md. Lady Dalkeith, 1755, and became stepfather of her children: the later 3rd Duke of Buccleuch, the Hon. Hew Campbell Scott, and Lady Frances Scott.
[22 ]This came about in 1764–6, when Smith was made tutor of Henry Scott (1746–1812), 3rd Duke of Buccleuch, and, from 1810, 5th Duke of Queensberry. The Duke took no direct part in public life other than becoming the first President, 1783, of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His extensive estates, however, gave him a considerable electoral interest.