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LETTER LXXXIX.: Hume's Will: Disposition about his unpublished Works. - 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Hume's Will: Disposition about his unpublished Works.
My brother died on the 25th of August (as you would probably see by the newspapers1 ) and in a codicill to his latter will and testament of the 7th of August, has the following clauses. ‘In my latter will and disposition I made some destinations with regard to my manuscripts. All these I now retract; and leave my manuscripts to the care of Mr. William Strahan of London, member of Parliament: trusting to the friendship that has long subsisted betwixt us, for his careful and faithful execution of my intentions. I desire that my Dialogues concerning natural religion may be printed and published any time within two years after my death; to which he may add, if he thinks proper, the two essays formerly printed but not published. My account of my own life, I desire may be prefixed to the first edition of my works, printed after my Death, which will probably be the one at present in the press. I desire that my brother may supress all my other manuscripts.’ On the bottom of the same codicill is the following clause: ‘I also ordain that if my dialogues from whatever cause, be not published within two years and a half of my death, as also the account of my life, the property shall return to my Nephew, David, whose duty in publishing them as the last request of his uncle, must be approved of by all the World. Day and date as above.—David Hume.’
In consequence of which, and in execution of his intentions, that shall be always sacred to me, I have packed up in a round white iron box, a manuscript copy of the Dialogues, and of his life within it, directed for you, as also the two essays, with the same direction, and one in my brother's hand below the first cover2 , both of which will go with the fly3 . from this to-morrow morning; and which you will please take the trouble to cause enquire for: and beg you will take the further trouble of leting me know, of their haveing comed safe to hand, by directing for me att Ninewells by Berwick, where I shall be for two months; and when you have taken your resolution for the publication (as I hope you soon will and as it was the last request of your friend in so earnest a manner) shall be glad to know of it; and when the new edition of his whole works now in the press is published, my brother expected six copys, would be sent me, as presents to some of his most intimate friends. Mr Adam Smith with my brothers approbation, is to write a small addition to his life4 , narrating the time and manner of his death, and as he is to be at London begining of winter, will give it you: and is to advise with you, whether that addition is to be made or not.
As the manuscripts were very tight when put in the box, they cannot be taken out the same way, without injureing them: therefore there will be a necessity of knocking of the bottom and pushing them forwards.
I am Sir Your most humble Sert
[Adam Smith to William Strahan.]
Note 1. In the Gentleman's Magazine for Sept. 1776 (p. 435) Hume's death has the briefest notice possible:—‘Aug. 25, David Hume, Esq.; Edinburgh.’
Note 2. The two Essays were no doubt those On Suicide and The Immortality of the Soul, which Hume had printed but suppressed in 1755 (ante, pp. 230, 233). Strahan, post, p. 355, n. 1, describes them as ‘the two Essays that were formerly printed but not published.’ They had been ‘sealed up’ and directed by Hume to Strahan (post, p. 363). ‘The one in my brother's hand below the first cover’ was most likely a duplicate of the Essay on the Origin of Government, of which Strahan had already received a copy (ante, p. 331).
Note 3. See ante, p. 326, n. 11.
Note 4. See ante, end of Autobiography.
Note 5. Dr. Burton thus writes of John Home:—‘There was apparently but one point in which the two brothers differed; and it was a subject on which Hume seems to have been at war with all his clan. The Laird of Ninewells, notwithstanding all the lustre that had now gathered round the name of Hume, would not adopt it in place of that of Home, which his fathers had borne. He was a simple, single-hearted man, moderate in all his views and wishes, and neither ambitious of distinction nor of wealth. He passed his life as a retired country gentleman; and while Europe was full of his brother's name, he was so averse to notoriety, that he is known to have objected to the domestic events of births, marriages, and deaths in his family obtaining the usual publicity through the newspapers.’ Dr. Burton adds in a foot-note:—‘An early acquaintance with this characteristic might have saved me some fruitless investigations.’ Burton's Hume, ii. 398.