Front Page Titles (by Subject) 36.: From DAVID HUME - Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence Vol. 6 Correspondence of Adam Smith
Return to Title Page for Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence Vol. 6 Correspondence of Adam Smith
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
36.: 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith and the associated volumes are published in hardcover by Oxford University Press. The six titles of the Glasgow Edition, but not the associated volumes, are being published in softcover by Liberty Fund. The online edition is published by Liberty Fund under license from Oxford University Press.
©Oxford University Press 1976. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be stored transmitted retransmitted lent or reproduced in any form or medium without the permission of Oxford University Press.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
From DAVID HUME
MS., RSE ii. 30; HL i. 311–14.
London, 28 July 1759
Your Friend, Mr Wilson,1 calld on me two or 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 A. Millar about him, and found him very much dispos’d to serve him. I proposd particularly to Mr Millar, that it was worthy of so eminent a Bookseller as he to make a compleat elegant Set of the Classics, which might set up his Name equal to the Alduses, Stevens, or Elzivirs; and that Mr Wilson was the properest Person in the World to assist him in such a Project. He confest to me, that he had sometimes thought of it; but that his great Difficulty was to find a Man of Letters, who cou’d correct the Press. I mentioned the Matter to Wilson, who said he had a Man of Letters in his Eye; one Lyon,2 a nonjuring Clergyman at Glasgow. He is probably known to you, or at least may be so: I wou’d 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,3 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 Jennyns;4 but he spoke very highly of the Book to Oswald, who is his Brother in the Board of Trade. Millar show’d me a few days ago a Letter from Lord Fitzmaurice;5 where he tells him, that he had carryd over a few Copies to the Hague for Presents. Mr Yorke6 was much taken with it as well as several others who had read it.
I am told that you are preparing a new Edition,7 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 prov’d, 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 woud 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–humord Fellow; a man tir’d and disgusted with every thing, always ennuié; sickly, complaining, embarass’d; such a one throws an evident Damp on Company, which I suppose wou’d be accounted for by Sympathy; and yet is disagreeable.
It is always thought a difficult Problem to account for the Pleasure, receivd from the Tears and Grief and Sympathy of Tragedy; which woud not be the Case, if all Sympathy was agreeable. An Hospital woud be a more entertaining Place than a Ball. I am afraid that in p. 99 and 111 this Proposition has escapd you, or rather is interwove 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 engross’d with your own Book, as never to mention mine.8 The Whigs, I am told, are anew in a Rage against me; tho’ they know not how to vent themselves: For they are constrain’d to allow all my Facts. You have probably seen Hurd’s Abuse of me.9 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 signd 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 the VII; and he engages to give me 1400 Pounds for the Copy. This is the first previous Agreement ever I made with a Bookseller. I shall execute this Work at Leizure, without fatiguing myself by such ardent Application as I have hitherto employd. It is chiefly as a Ressource 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 fancy’d 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 Judgement soon. Are the Bigots much in Arms on account of this last Volume? Robertson’s Book10 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
[1 ]Alexander Wilson, M.D. (1714–86), educ. at St. Andrews, practiced medicine in London, then became a type–founder; appointed in that capacity to Glasgow University, 1748; Professor of Practical Astronomy, and Observer, Glasgow, 1760; awarded the gold medal of the Royal Society of Sciences, Copenhagen, 1772, for a dissertation on sun–spots. He founded the types for the Foulis Press, Glasgow, his Greek founts being unsurpassed.
[2 ]? Revd. James Lyon.
[3 ]Edmund Burke: see his Letter 38, dated 10 Sept. 1759.
[4 ]Soame Jenyns.
[5 ]See Letter 27, n. 1.
[6 ]? Hon. Charles Yorke.
[7 ]TMS ed. 2, 1761: for Smith’s revisions, see Letter 40 addressed to Gilbert Elliot, dated 10 Oct. 1759.
[8 ]History of England: The Tudors, 2 vols. 1759.
[9 ]See the postscript to Richard Hurd’s Moral and Political Dialogues, ed. 1, 1759: ‘For having undertaken to conjure up the spirit of absolute power, he [Hume] judged it necessary to the charm, to reverse the order of things, and to evoke this frightful spectre by writing (as witches use to say their prayers) backwards. . . . Accordingly, while one half of his pains is laid out in exposing the absurdities of reformed religion, the other half is suitably employed in discrediting the cause of civil liberty.’ Later eds. omitted the postscript and presented a footnote in which Hurd gave some qualified praise to the first part of Hume’s History (Julius Caesar to Henry VII) as distinguished from the other parts.
[10 ]William Robertson’s History of Scotland (1759).