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LETTER XXXI.: Hume's Occupations as Under Secretary. - 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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Hume's Occupations as Under Secretary.
[Spring of 1767.]
I was sorry not to be at home, when you did me the Favour to call on me the other day: My occupations1. prevent my calling on you: But if you be any day at this End of the Town, the best way is to call on me at Mr. Conway's House, where I am every forenoon,2. and commonly between 10 and 3: It is in little Warwick Street3. : You’ll do me a Pleasure in allowing me at any time half an hour's Conversation with you.
I am Dear Sir Yours sincerely
Friday, Forenoon4. .
[1.]Note 1. Hume wrote to the Countess de Boufflers from London on March 1, 1767:—‘There has happened, dear Madam, a small change in my situation and fortune since I wrote to you. I was then very deeply immersed in study, and thought of nothing but of retreat and indolence for the rest of my life, when I was surprised with a letter from Lord Hertford, urging me to come to London, and accept of the office of Depute-Secretary of State under his brother [General Conway]. As my Lord knew that this step was contrary to the maxims which I had laid down to myself, he engaged my Lady Hertford to write me at the same time, and to inform me how much she and my Lord desired my compliance. I sat down once or twice to excuse myself; but I own, I could not find terms to express my refusal of a request made by persons to whose friendship I had been so much obliged…. I do not suspect myself at my years, and after such established habits of retreat, of being ensnared by this glimpse of Court favour to commence a new course of life, and relinquish my literary ambition for the pursuit of riches and honours in the state. On the contrary, I feel myself at present like a banished man in a strange country; I mean, not as I was while with you at Paris, but as I should be in Westphalia or Lithuania or any place the least to my fancy in the world.’ Private Corres. p. 235. Horace Walpole writes in his Memoirs of the Reign of George III, ii. 414:—‘It happened at this period [Feb. 1767] that Mr. Conway, who talked of nothing but resigning, became in want of a secretary, William Burke quitting his service to follow his cousin Edmund into Opposition. My surprise was very great when Mr. Conway declared his resolution of making David Hume, the historian, who had served his brother, Lord Hertford, in the same capacity at Paris, his secretary. [Walpole's surprise was not so much at the appointment of Hume, as at the indication it gave that Conway had no intention to resign.]… I was pleased with the designation of Hume, as it would give jealousy to the Rockinghams, who had not acted wisely in letting Burke detach himself from Mr. Conway; and I prevailed on Lady Hertford to write a second letter, more pressing than her lord's, to Mr. Hume to accept. The philosopher did not want much entreaty.’
[2.]Note 2. Boswell, who was careful to clear his writings of Scotticisms, in the third edition of his Life of Johnson in at least four places changed forenoon into morning. Boswell's Johnson, ii. 283, n. 3. Hume in one of his early letters says:—‘I last summer undertook a very laborious task which was to travel eight miles every morning, and as many in the forenoon to and from a mineral well.’ Burton's Hume, i. 34.
[3.]Note 3. Little Warwick Street opened out of Cockspur Street, Pall Mall.
[4.]Note 4. This letter must have been written soon after Hume's arrival in London, at the end of February, 1767. Adam Smith, writing to him on the following June 7, addresses his letter:—‘To David Hume Esq. Under Secretary for the Northern Department, at Mr. Secretary Conway's house, London.’ M.S.R.S.E. In the Court and City Register for 1765, p. 108, is a list of Ambassadors and Ministers which shews how the business with foreign countries was divided between the two Secretaries of State:—