Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XII.: Dr. Robertson's History of Scotland. - Letters of David Hume to William Strahan
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LETTER XII.: Dr. Robertson's History of Scotland. - David Hume, Letters of David Hume to William Strahan 
Letters of David Hume to William Strahan, ed. G. Birkbeck Hill (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1888).
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Dr. Robertson's History of Scotland.
On the Conclusion of this Work, I thank you for your Care, Exactness, Diligence and Dispatch; and have put my angry Letter into the Fire, where, partly by its own heat, partly by that of the burning Coals, it was immediately consumd to Ashes.
I had a Letter from Dr. Robertson, who is very earnest with me to have a Copy of my Volume as soon as possible, promising not to show it to a mortal, till publication. I have obtain’d Mr. Millar's Consent2. ; and therefore desire you to bind in boards a Volume of large Paper as soon as possible, and send it to the Stage Coach, directed to Mr. Robertson Minister of the Gospel at Edinburgh, near the head of the Cowgate3. . The Stage Coach sets up near you4. ; so I must beg you to take this Trouble.
Mr. Andrew Reid5. was so good as to look over some Sheets for me, but has so blotted them with Corrections that he has renderd it useless for me. I must therefore beg of you to bind in boards another compleat Copy of small Paper, and to send it to my House as soon as it is ready.
I am yours
[1.]Note 1. This letter, I have little doubt, was written on the conclusion of the History of England under the House of Tudor. That it was written, not in Edinburgh, but in London, is clear from the letter itself. Hume had gone thither towards the end of 1758, to see this portion of his work through the press. Robertson, who was on the eve of publishing his History of Scotland, would be most eager to see how his friend had dealt with that period in which the affairs of England and Scotland became so much involved. Here there was some danger of a rivalry between the two friends.‘I was exceedingly sorry,’ wrote Hume to Robertson on Jan. 25, 1759,‘not to be able to comply with your desire, when you expressed your wish that I should not write this period.’ Stewart's Robertson, p. 341. In the same letter he says:—’I am nearly printed out, and shall be sure to send you a copy by the stage-coach, or some other conveyance.’ The only ground of hesitation I had in fixing the date is that Hume speaks of‘my volume,’ whereas the History of the Tudors was in two volumes. In the last letter, however, he speaks of it as‘my new volume.’ He cannot be speaking of his History of the Stuarts which was indeed published a volume at a time, for he was in Edinburgh when both volumes were brought out. Dr. Burton is in error when he states (Life of Hume, ii. 65) that Hume on his return to Scotland about the beginning of November, 1759, left behind him the History of the Tudors for publication. It had already been shewn (ib. p. 52) that the book was published in the previous spring.
[2.]Note 2. Millar, no doubt, without obtaining Hume's consent, had shewn a copy also to his old assailant Warburton ; who wrote to Hurd on March 3 of this year:—’Hume has out-done himself in this new History in showing his contempt of Religion…. If his history be well received, I shall conclude that there is even an end of all pretence to religion. But I should think it will not; because I fancy the good reception of Robertson's proceeded from the decency of it.’ Letters from a late Eminent Prelate, p. 282.
[3.]Note 3. Dr. A. Carlyle, writing of September, 1759, says that‘he supped one night with the celebrated Dr. Franklin at Dr. Robertson's house, then at the head of the Cowgate, where he had come at Whit-sunday, after his being translated to Edinburgh. Dr. Franklin had his son with him; and there were David Hume, Adam Smith, and two or three more.’‘Franklin,’ he adds,‘was a silent man;’ but his son was open and communicative, and pleased the company better than his father.’ Carlyle's Auto. p. 394. Sir Walter Scott's father had married the year before, and had taken a house at the head of the College Wynd which led up from the Cowgate to the College. Here Scott was born on Aug. 15, 1771. Lockhart's Scott, ed. 1839, i. 19. Robertson was not made Principal of the College till 1762.
[4.]Note 4. Boswell writing in May, 1775, about his departure from London for Scotland says:—’dr. Johnson went with me to the inn in Holborn, where the Newcastle fly sets out.’ Letters of Boswell, p. 196. New Street, in which Strahan lived, is close to Holborn.
[5.]Note 5.‘Andrew Reid, a man not without considerable abilities, and not unacquainted with letters or with life, undertook to persuade Lyttelton, as he had persuaded himself, that he was master of the secret of punctuation; and as fear begets credulity he was employed, I know not at what price, to point the pages of Henry the Second.’ Lyttelton's fear was of hostile critics. He published his book‘with such anxiety as only vanity can dictate.’ Johnson's Works, viii. 492.