Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XLI.: Complaints of the 1763 Edition of the History. - Letters of David Hume to William Strahan
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LETTER XLI.: Complaints of the 1763 Edition of the History. - 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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Complaints of the 1763 Edition of the History.
I am not in the least angry with Mr. Cadel: On the contrary, were I to go to the press with any new work (which it is utterly impossible I ever shoud) he is one of the first persons I shoud apply to for publishing it. But, pray, recollect, that a few weeks before I came down, he told me in your house of his regret that he shoud ever have been forced by Mr. Millar to deceive me; but that now I might entirely depend upon the Truth of his Information; there were less than 700 of the 8vo Edition upon hand. But after a twelvemonth's rapid sale, as he pretends, he acknowledges nine hundred and fifty, and I question not but there is above double the Number.
There has been a strange Fatality to depress the reputation of that book: First the Extravagance of Baillie Hamilton1. , then the Rapaciousness of Mr. Millar: But this last is most incurable. I suppose you will not find one Book in the English Language of that Size and Price so ill printed2. , and now since the publication of the Quarto, however small the Sale of the Quarto may be, it shows, by its corrections and additions, the Imperfection of the 8vo so visibly, that it must be totally discredited. Had it been thought proper to let me know the real State of the 8vo Edition, I never shoud have consented to the printing of the Quarto. I suppose the Proprietors will at last be oblig’d to destroy all that remains of the 8vo; I mean, if there appear any hopes of the Sale's ever reviving. If Mr. Millar had been alive, his own Interest, as well as the Shame for his Miscarriage, woud have brought him to that Resolution. There remains only the former Motive with the Proprietors.
I return the Sheet of the Essays which is very elegantly printed3. . The numerous Editions of that work, which is much less calculated for public Sale, may convince you of the Propriety of moderate Editions. I hope Mr. Cadel will send me down six copies as soon as the Edition is finishd, that I may have the Satisfaction of seeing one of my Works without Disgust.
I am Dear Sir Yours sincerely
21 June, 1770.
[1.]Note 1. Gavin Hamilton had been a partner in the firm of Hamilton, Balfour and Neill which in 1754 brought out the first volume of Hume's History. Hamilton wrote to Strahan on Aug. 26, 1762, to say that he had ‘parted business with Mr. Balfour. I am not to concern myself any further in bookselling, but the paper mill is become my sole property. I have likewise gone out of the printing house; but whether Mr. Balfour will continue with Mr. Neill or not I cannot guess. . . . It is agreed betwixt us that the matter be kept a secret for some time, and my name is to continue in trade.’ Barker MSS.
[2.]Note 2. See ante, p. 141, n. 7.
[3.]Note 3. The edition of 1770 in 4 vols. 8vo. is a beautiful piece of printing.