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LETTER XXXIX.: Lord Home: End of the Session: Lady Grant. - 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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Lord Home: End of the Session: Lady Grant.
22 May, 1770.
A few days ago, Lord Home1. told me, that, in consequence of a new Arrangement of his Affairs, he shou’d stand in need of a large Sum of Money, which he propos’d to bring from England at lower than legal Interest2. ; and he hop’d his Friend, Strahan, woud be able to assist him on that Occasion. I said, that, tho’ Mr. Strahan was a rich Man, yet he had such great Enterprizes in hand, that I did not believe he had much ready Money to lend. My Lord replyed, that he expected more your good Offices than your Money, and that he was too well acquainted with the Opinion, entertained by the World of his Situation, to hope for borrowing Money at low Interest upon his own Security: But that Mr. Hay of Drumelzier and Mr. Gavin of Langtoun propos’d to bind with him3. : Upon which he took my Promise, that I shoud write to you upon the Subject. It is certain that Mr. Hay is a Man of above 4000 pounds a year clear, and Mr. Gavin above 5000; and both of them frugal Men, so that there cannot be better Security in Britain; and that they intend to bind with him, My Lord's Writer4. , who is a man of Character, assur’d me. I think, therefore, that the Scheme is far from being inadmissible. I wish really, (as you no doubt do yourself) that you coud assist him on the Occasion; but in all cases, I must beg the favour of you to write me an ostensible Letter, which may satisfy him that I have not neglected his Request.
I find, that your great Reluctance to write me on a certain Subject5. proceeds from your Unwillingness to retract every thing that you have been telling me these seven Years: But your Silence tells me the Truth more strongly than any thing you can say. Besides, I know not why you shoud have a Reluctance to retract. What you told me was for a good End, in order to excite my Industry, which might be of Advantage both to myself and the Proprietors of the former Volumes. And if there has been any Misconduct with regard to the Octavo Edition, you are entirely innocent of it. So that I see not any Reason why I may not now be told the Truth; especially as you see, that I am fully determind never to continue my History, and have indeed put it entirely out of my power by retiring to this Country, for the rest of my Life. However, this is as you think proper: Only, it is needless for Mr. Cadel to give me Accounts, which are presently refuted by the Event. I say this without the least resentment against him, who is a very obliging, and I believe a very honest man.
Nothing coud be more agreeable than your political Intelligence. I have always said, without Flattery, that you may give Instructions to Statesmen. We are very happy, that this Session is got over without any notable disaster6. . Government has, I believe, gain’d Strength; tho’ not much Authority nor Character by its long suffering and forbearance. But the Request of the Country Gentlemen, who joind them, was a very plausible Motive7. ; besides, I am told, that their Lawyers, particularly Lord Mansfield8. , deserted them on this Occasion. But these are Matters that very little concern me; and except from Indignation at so much abominable Insolence, Calumny, Lyes, and Folly, I know not why I shoud trouble my head about them: These Objects too, being at a distance, affect me the less. We are happily in this Country united as in a national Cause9. , which indeed it has become, in some measure, by the Virulence of this detestable Faction.
We expect to see Lady Grant soon in this Country; and I suppose, that I must pay my Respects to her Ladyship. I intend to give her her Ladyship very often, that she may at least have some Pennyworths for her Money10.
I suppose the Edition of my Essays in Twelves11. is now finished or nearly so. As soon as it is finishd, pray, put Mr. Cadel in mind to send me six Copies in any Parcel to Balfour or Kincaid.
I am Dear Strahan Yours sincerely
P.S.—Please to tell Mr. Cadel that if a Volume of the Dictionaire de Commerce12. comes over for me from Paris, he pay a Guinea for it, which I shall refund him.
[1.]Note 1. Hume in his Autobiography says:—‘My father's family is a branch of the Earl of Home's or Hume's.’ The common ancestor ‘lived,’ he writes, ‘in the time of James the First and Second of Scotland.’ Burton's Hume, i. 3. A cousinship that is separated by a gulf of three hundred years is remote, but in Scotland counts for something, and, no doubt, had its influence on Hume. The Earl about whom he wrote is described in the peerage as the Rev. Alexander, ninth Earl. He was one of the witnesses to Hume's will.
[2.]Note 2. ‘A statute passed in 1545 limited the rate of interest to 10 per cent. per annum; in 1624 the rate was lowered to 8 per cent.; in 1660 to 6 per cent., and in 1713 to 5 per cent.’ Penny Cyclo. ed. 1838, xii. 506. Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, says:—‘In a country such as Great Britain, where money is lent to government at three per cent., and to private people upon good security at four and four and a half, the present legal rent, five per cent., is perhaps as proper as any.’ Ed. 1811, ii. 121. This passage must have been written some time before publication, for in the spring of 1776 government could not have raised a loan on such easy terms, the Three per Cents. having fallen to 86. Gent. Mag. 1776, p. 96. By the spring of 1779, Lord North, according to Horace Walpole, ‘was happy to get money on the loan under eight per cent.’ Letters, vii. 181.
[3.]Note 3. They would become sureties with him.
[4.]Note 4. Writer to the Signet, who answers to the Attorney or Solicitor in England.
[5.]Note 5. See ante, p. 139.
[6.]Note 6. Parliament rose on May 19. Parl. Hist. xvi. 1028. Horace Walpole wrote to Mann on May 24:—‘Not only the session is at an end, but I think the Middlesex election too, which my Lord Chatham has heated and heated so often over that there is scarce a spark of fire left…. Thus has the winter, which set out with such big black clouds, concluded with a prospect of more serenity than we have seen for some time…. Disunion has appeared between all parts of the Opposition, and unless experience teaches them to unite more heartily during the summer, or the Court commits any extravagance, or Ireland or America furnishes new troubles, you may compose yourself to tranquillity in your representing ermine [Mann was the English representative at Florence], and take as good a nap as any monarch in Europe.’ Letters, v. 238.
[7.]Note 7. Horace Walpole, writing on March 23, 1770, about the City Remonstrance (ante, p. 139, n. 1), says:—‘The House, you may be sure, resented the insult offered to them, and the majorities have been very great; yet has there been no personal punishment or censure, or dubbing of martyrs. The Country Gentlemen have even declared that they will support the Court in no violence. This is very happy at a time when the first overt act of violence on either side may entail long bloodshed upon us.’ Letters, v. 231. See also Walpole's Memoirs of George III, iv. 107. On May 23, the day after the date of Hume's letter, ‘Beckford, the Lord Mayor, to the astonishment of the whole Court added a few words’ to an Address presented to the King by the City. Ib. p. 154.
[8.]Note 8. Junius, in his Letter to Lord Mansfield of Nov. 14, 1770, speaking of the debate on the Middlesex Election, says:—‘As a Lord of Parliament you were repeatedly called upon to condemn or defend the new law declared by the House of Commons. You affected to have scruples, and every expedient was attempted to remove them. The question was proposed and urged to you in a thousand different shapes. Your prudence still supplied you with evasion; your resolution was invincible. For my own part, I am not anxious to penetrate this solemn secret. I care not to whose wisdom it is entrusted, nor how soon you carry it with you to your grave.’ Horace Walpole says ‘that Lord Mansfield, being called upon for his opinion on Luttrell's case in the Middlesex election, declared his opinion should go to the grave with him, having never told it but to one of the Royal Family; and being afterwards asked to which of them, he named the Duke of Cumberland—a conduct and confidence so absurd and weak, that no wonder he was long afterwards taunted both with his reserve, and with his choice of such a bosom-friend.’ The Duke of Cumberland was the King's brother, Henry Frederick. Memoirs of George III, iv. 102. Walpole, describing on Aug. 31, 1770, the dearth of news, says:—‘We have lived these two months upon the poor Duke of Cumberland, whom the newspapers, in so many letters, call The Royal Idiot.’ Letters, v. 254.
[9.]Note 9. Boswell, in his account of the dinner at the Messieurs Dilly's, where Johnson met Wilkes, says:—‘Amidst some patriotic groans, somebody said, “Poor old England is lost.” Johnson. “Sir, it is not so much to be lamented that Old England is lost, as that the Scotch have found it.” Wilkes. “Had Lord Bute governed Scotland only, I should not have taken the trouble to write his eulogy, and dedicate Mortimer to him.”’ Boswell adds as a note to Johnson's saying:—‘It would not become me to expatiate on this strong and pointed remark, in which a very great deal of meaning is condensed.’ Boswell's Johnson, iii. 78. It was this finding of England, and the anger raised by it in the English, that made the King's cause a national cause to the Scotch. The Scotchman, John Stuart, Earl of Bute, was the head of the King's Friends. Burke, speaking in 1769 to Earl Temple about the union of parties, said that ‘he believed no union could be formed of any effect or credit, which was not compacted upon this great principle—“that the King's men should be utterly destroyed as a corps.”’ Burke's Corres. i. 216. ‘They are,’ he says in the Present Discontents, ‘only known to their Sovereign by kissing his hand for the offices, pensions, and grants, into which they have deceived his benignity. May no storm ever come which will put the firmness of their attachment to the proof; and which, in the midst of confusions and terrors and sufferings, may demonstrate the eternal difference between a true and severe friend to the Monarchy, and a slippery sycophant of the Court! Quantum infido scurrae distabit amicus.’ Payne's Burke's Select Works, i. 51. Lord Bute uses the designation ‘the King's friends’ in a letter to George Grenville, dated March 25, 1763. ‘I do not know,’ writes the editor of the Grenville Papers (ii. 33), ‘whether Lord Bute invented it, but this is the first time I find it used in this correspondence.’
Churchill's Poems (ed. 1766), i. 102.
[10.]Note 10. Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk, the second baronet, married for his fourth wife Mrs. Millar, widow of Andrew Millar, Esq., of London. Burke's Peerage and Baronetage. She was the widow of the rich bookseller from whose ‘rapaciousness’ Hume complained that he was suffering. Dr. Alexander Carlyle had met her and Millar at Harrogate in 1773. He describes how ‘all the baronets and great squires’ there paid him civility, so as to get the loan of his newspapers. ‘Yet when he appeared in the morning in his old well-worn suit of clothes, they could not help calling him Peter Pamphlet; for the generous patron of Scotch authors, with his city wife and her niece, were sufficiently ridiculous when they came into good company. It was observed, however, that she did not allow him to go down to the well with her in the chariot in his morning dress, though she owned him at dinner-time, as he paid the extraordinaries.’ Dr. A. Carlyle's Autobiography, p. 434. The ‘extraordinaries’ were the wine &c. not included in the ‘ordinary,’ which was only fixed at a shilling a head; though, says Carlyle, ‘we had two haunches of venison twice a week during the season. Breakfast cost gentlemen only twopence apiece for their muffins, as it was the fashion for ladies to furnish tea and sugar.’ She was not Lady Grant when Hume wrote, for she was not married till the next day (Gent. Mag. 1770, p. 239). Sir Archibald Grant was born in 1696. From the letters which this aged bridegroom wrote to Strahan on his way home I get the following extracts:—
[11.]Note 11. The edition of 1770, in four volumes, was not in ‘twelves’ (duodecimo), but in small octavo.
[12.]Note 12. Grimm, on June 15, 1770, mentioning ‘l’immense Dictionnaire du Commerce promis par l’Abbé Morellet,’ adds, ‘qui ne se fera vraisemblablement jamais.’ The editor says in a note:—‘La conjecture de Grimm s‘est vérifiée. Il n’a paru du Dictionnaire du Commerce promis par Morellet que le prospectus, qui forme 1 vol. in 8°.’ Corres. Lit. vi. 492.