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LETTER XLIX.: New 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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New Edition of the History.
22 of july, 1771.
On Saturday last, the 20th of the Month, I deliverd to the Newcastle Waggon1. the eight corrected Volumes of my History, directed to Mr. Cadell. I chose to direct the parcel to him rather than to you, because his Shop was easier found2. , and the Waggoner told me, that he often carry’d up Parcels to him. Please to tell Mr. Cadel, that he may call for it, if it be not deliverd to him about three Weeks hence. You will see that I have made many considerable Improvements, most of them in the Style; but some also in the matter. I fancy you might be able to send me a proof Sheet about a month hence; and I shoud have been here ready to receive it; But I am assurd that Lady Aylesbury3. and Mr. Conway are to be with the Duke of Argyle this Summer; which will oblige me to leave the Town for a fortnight and go to Inverara4. . But I shall fix to you precisely the day when I shall be ready to receive the first proof Sheet; and you may depend upon my punctuality afterwards. Mean-while, you may proceed to print the last four Volumes at your own convenience. You told me that you proposd to make this new Octavo Edition in ten Volumes5. . Each four of the Quarto must therefore be divided into five6. , and you may cast them accordingly. I woud have you mind nothing but to finish the Chapter with each Volume, without forgetting the Index7. . You may send me down the Quarto Sheet with the Proof Sheet; and where it contains any Note that is to be printed at the End I shall return it by the Post8. . I hope the Sale of the Quarto is pretty well advancd: For this new Edition may a little discredit it. I know not whether the former purchasers may complain of my frequent Corrections; but I cannot help it, and they run mostly upon Trifles; at least they will be esteemd such by the Generality of Readers, who little attend to the extreme Accuracy of Style. It is one great advantage that results from the Art of printing, that an Author may correct his works, as long as he lives9. . But I have now done with mine for ever, and never shall any more review them, except in a cursory manner10. . I expect for my pains six Copies, over and above the six that are due me by Agreement11. . I believe I coud have writ more than a Volume with much less trouble than I have bestow’d on these. If you have leizure to peruse the Sheets, and to mark on the Margin any Corrections that occur to you, it will be an Addition to the many Obligations of the same kind, which I owe to you12. . But this I cannot expect, considering the many Avocations which you have, unless it prove an Amusement to you in this dead time of the Year. I fancy this Edition will not be publishd till after the new Year13. . As soon as the new Edition of my philosophical Pieces is printed14. , I shall be obligd to you to have six Copies of it. It is a great Relief to my Spirits, that I have at last a near Prospect of being fairly rid of that abominable Octavo Edition of my History.
I am Dear Sir Your most obedient humble Servant
[1.]Note 1. Smollett in Roderick Random (ch. viii) describing his hero's journey from Scotland to London in 1739, says:—’There is no such convenience as a waggon in this country, and my finances were too weak to support the expense of hiring a horse; I determined therefore to set out with the carriers, who transport goods from one place to another on horseback; and this I accordingly put in execution, on the first day of November, 1739, sitting upon a pack-saddle between two baskets; one of which contained my goods in a knap-sack. By the time we arrived at Newcastle upon Tyne, I was so fatigued with the tediousness of the carriage, and benumbed with the coldness of the weather, that I resolved to travel the rest of my journey on foot.’ After having walked many days he hears one evening at a small town ‘that the waggon from Newcastle for London had halted there two nights ago, and that it would be an easy matter to overtake it, if not the next day, at farthest the day after the next.’ (Ch. x.) By walking at a great pace all the next day he caught it up in the evening. It seems likely that when the waggon began to go beyond Newcastle to Edinburgh it still kept its old name of the Newcastle Waggon. Churchill in 1763, in The Prophecy of Famine, speaking of Scotland, says:—
Poems, ed. 1766, i. 102.Hume, on Nov. 22, 1762, directing Millar to send him some books, says:—’Be so good as to embark three copies in any parcel you send to Edinburgh. The peace will now make the intercourse of trade more open between us.’ Burton's Hume, ii. 140. Now that there was peace with France and Spain, there was no longer any dread of foreign cruisers. Johnson, even in time of peace, did not care to have anything sent to him by sea. He wrote to Boswell on Jan. 29, 1774:—’If anything is too bulky for the post, let me have it by the carrier. I do not like trusting winds and waves.’ Boswell's Johnson, ii. 272. Boswell writing on Dec. 2 had told him that next week his box should be sent him by sea. Ib. p. 270. It did not arrive till the very end of January. Ib. p. 272. An undergraduate of Queen's College, Oxford, was charged in the year 1778 two guineas for the conveyance of his box by carrier from a Cumberland village north of Carlisle to Oxford. Letters of Radcliffe and James, p. 46.
[2.]Note 2. Cadell's shop was in the Strand; Strahan's printing house was in New Street, Fetter Lane; where his descendants, the Messrs. Spottiswoode, still carry on the business.
[3.]Note 3. General Conway, Horace Walpole's cousin and correspondent, ‘married Catherine Campbell, Dowager Countess of Aylesbury, daughter of John, Duke of Argyle, by his wife, Mary Bellenden the beauty, and was the father by Lady Aylesbury of an only child, Mrs. Damer the sculptor, to whom Walpole left Strawberry Hill.’ Walpole's Letters, i. 38, n. 1.
[4.]Note 4. Inverary, the Duke of Argyle's castle, where Johnson and Boswell dined two years later. Boswell's Johnson, v. 355.
[5.]Note 5. It was published in eight volumes.
[6.]Note 6. As the quarto edition had been in eight volumes, four of its volumes would form five of the proposed edition.
[7.]Note 7. Strahan was not, for the sake of uniformity in size, to give part of a chapter in one volume, and part in another; and he was not to forget that in the last volume room must be left for the Index. Hume, like an honest man, made sometimes, if not always, his own Index. On Sept. 3, 1757, he wrote:— I have finished the Index to the new collection of my pieces; this Index cost me more trouble than I was aware of when I began it.’ Burton's Hume, ii. 36. See ante, p. 17, n. 1.
[8.]Note 8. The quarto sheet was the copy corrected by Hume, from which the new edition was to be printed. It sometimes happened that it contained a foot-note which in the new edition was to be printed among the notes at the end of each volume. In that case Hume, after correcting his proof-sheet, would return also the quarto sheet.
[9.]Note 9. See ante, p. 182.
[10.]Note 10. See ante, p. 202, n. 1.
[11.]Note 11. See post, Letter of March 15, 1773. Johnson for ‘a very few corrections in the Lives of the Poets was presented with a hundred guineas’ (Boswell's Johnson, iv. 35, n. 3); but this must be looked upon as a kind of ‘conscience money’ on the part of the booksellers, who had made a great sum by their bargain with him.
[12.]Note 12. Dr. Beattie says that ‘Mr. Strahan was eminently skilled in composition and the English language, excelled in the epistolary style, had corrected (as he told me himself) the phraseology of both Mr. Hume and Dr. Robertson.’ Forbes's Life of Beattie, ed. 1824, p. 341.
[13.]Note 13. It was not published till 1773.
[14.]Note 14. See post, second Letter of June 3, 1772.