Front Page Titles (by Subject) Editor\'s Note. - The Progress of English Liberty
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Editor's Note. - David Hume, The Progress of English Liberty 
The Progress of English Liberty (1778)
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The volumes of Hume's History of England were not written in the order of the events they describe, so that the materials in Volume II were actually the last to be published. After completing his historical account, which ends in Volume II with the reign of Richard III, Hume then steps back to survey the entire sweep of English constitutional development. His investigations now permit him confidently to reject the Whig view that England has enjoyed a single constitution whose original plan was laid by the ancient Saxons. In fact, Hume argues, English history brings to light a succession of diverse constitutional arrangements which led, in ways that were largely unplanned and unanticipated, to "the most perfect and most accurate system of liberty that was ever found compatible with government." Hume takes this opportunity not only to offer his final reflections on the successive English constitutions, but also to explain how the progress of the arts and sciences tied in with England's constitutional development so as to produce the nation's unique "system of liberty." This eight-page conclusion not only sums up Hume's historical account, but also stands as one of his most important philosophical statements on modern liberty and the forces that made it possible. This conclusion did not have a title and was not listed in the original table of contents, but was marked with a separator. In this online edition we have given it the following title: "The Progress of English Liberty."