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Letters of David Hume to William Strahan, ed. G. Birkbeck Hill (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1888).
Letters from Hume to William Strahan covering a number of topics including his trip to France, his thoughts on recently published books (by Smith and Gibbon), and generally about his relationships with leading members of the Scottish and French Enlightenment. It also includes his brief Autobiography.
The text is in the public domain.
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THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
FIFTH EARL OF ROSEBERY
IN GRATEFUL ACKNOWLEDGMENT
OF THE SERVICES WHICH HE HAS RENDERED
BY SAVING THESE LETTERS
THIS WORK IS DEDICATED.
In the summer of last year I was allowed to examine this series of Letters . The interest with which I read them made me long to save them from dispersion. Were they once scattered by auction, their fate would be the fate of the leaves of the Sibyl—
The price that was asked for them, though large in itself, was moderate when the importance of the collection was considered. Yet for some weeks I almost despaired of finding a purchaser. The funds at the disposal of the Bodleian Library were altogether inadequate. At the British Museum I should probably have met with success, had not its grant been lately curtailed. By the happy suggestion of the Master of Balliol College I applied to the Earl of Rosebery. His lordship at once consented to buy the whole collection. The obligation under which he has thereby laid men of letters will, I feel sure, be by them gratefully acknowledged. Unfortunately the series is not quite perfect, for a few of the letters had been sold separately by a previous owner. My efforts to get copies of these have been so far fruitless.
In preparing my notes I have made use of the collection of Hume Papers in the possession of the Royal Society of Edinburgh . I had hoped to find among them the other side of the correspondence, but in this I was disappointed. Only a few of Strahan's letters have been preserved. Of one letter that was missing he happily had kept a copy. Hume, with a levity which is only found in a man who is indifferent to strict truthfulness, had charged him with deception. The answer which was sent must have startled that ease-loving philosopher from his complacency, and taught him a lesson which it was a disgrace to him not to have learnt long before .
In my notes my aim has been not only to make every letter clear, but also to bring before my readers the thoughts and the feelings of Hume's contemporaries in regard to the subjects which he discusses. ‘Every book,’ he says, 'should be as complete as possible within itself, and should never refer for anything material to other books .’ If this rule is just, I could not but let my notes swell under my hand, so varied and so interesting are the matters touched on in his letters. On his quarrel with Rousseau I dwell at considerable length. The rank which the two men held in the republic of letters was so high, the interest which their strife excited was so great, and the spectators of the contest were so eminent, that even at this distance of time it deserves to be carefully studied. My endeavour has been not only to examine the conduct of the two men , but also to exhibit the opinions which were entertained by all who were in any way concerned . The violence of Hume's feelings towards the English which is shown in many of his letters is curious enough to justify a long note . It was due it is clear partly to a deep sense of slighted merit, and partly to anger at what he describes as ‘the mad and wicked rage against the Scots .’ Violent as he was towards Englishmen in general, still more violent was he towards the most famous Englishman of his time . Why Lord Chatham roused his anger I have attempted to explain . The confidence of Hume's belief that the country was on the eve of bankruptcy , is one more proof how fallible may be the judgment of even the first historian and the first economist of his age . His no less confident expectations about the war with our American colonies were however speedily justified by the event. From the outset he saw that conquest was impossible . It will be seen that a few months after his death some of these letters were shown to George III . We may wonder whether the king's obstinacy was for a moment shaken, when he read the lines in which his highly-pensioned Tory historian proved that only ‘the oppressive arm of arbitrary power’ could crush the rebels . How much it were to be wished that he had seen also that other letter where Hume tells how he had found the First Lord of the Admiralty, with some loose associates, fishing for trout ‘with incredible satisfaction, at a time when the fate of the British Empire was in dependence, and in dependence on him .’
If these Letters exhibit, as they too often do, Hume's ‘distempered, discontented thoughts,’ his moral cowardice, his vanity, and his unmanly complaints of the neglect of the world, they show at the same time the noble industry of the scholar. If from a love of ‘ignoble ease’ he suppressed Essays and Dialogues , yet it was not into ‘peaceful sloth’ that he sank. He more than once quotes ‘a saying of Rousseau's, that one half of a man's life is too little to write a book and the other half to correct it .’ In truth, he never wearied of the attempt to bring his works as near to perfection as possible, and it was from his death-bed that his last corrections were sent .
Hume's spelling I have retained, for it is interesting both in its peculiarities and its blunders. That he had his own views about orthography is shown hereafter .
His brief Autobiography, which I have reprinted, will be a convenient introduction to the study of his Letters.
In the letters from Adam Smith, one of which is new , and from Hume's brother and nephew, some account is given of the publication of the manuscripts which he left behind him.
I should treat the memory of an eminent man of letters with injustice did I not express my great obligations to Dr. Burton's Life of David Hume. I have also to thank Sir James Fitzjames Stephen for his permission to print an interesting letter on post-office franks ; Dr. Andrews for information about the Ohio Scheme ; Mr. James Gordon, M.A., the learned Librarian of the Royal Society of Edinburgh; and Mr. G. K. Fortescue, of the British Museum, who has helped me in many difficulties which from time to time I encountered in editing these Letters.
G. B. H.
It is difficult for a man to speak long of himself without vanity, therefore I shall be short. It may be thought an instance of vanity that I pretend at all to write my life; but this narrative shall contain little more than the history of my writings, as indeed almost all my life has been spent in literary pursuits and occupations. The first success of most of my writings was not such as to be an object of vanity.
I was born the twenty-sixth of April, 1711, old style, at Edinburgh. I was of a good family, both by father and mother. My father's family is a branch of the earl of Home's or Hume's ; and my ancestors had been proprietors of the estate which my brother possesses for several generations . My mother was daughter of Sir David Falconer, President of the College of Justice: the title of Lord Halkerton came by succession to her brother.
My family, however, was not rich; and, being myself a younger brother, my patrimony, according to the mode of my country, was of course very slender. My father, who passed for a man of parts, died when I was an infant, leaving me with an elder brother and sister, under the care of our mother, a woman of singular merit: who, though young and handsome, devoted herself entirely to the rearing and educating of her children . I passed through the ordinary course of education with success, and was seized very early with a passion for literature, which has been the ruling passion of my life, and the great source of my enjoyments. My studious disposition, my sobriety, and my industry, gave my family a notion that the law was a proper profession for me; but I found an unsurmountable aversion to every thing but the pursuits of philosophy and general learning; and, while they fancied I was poring upon Voet and Vinnius , Cicero and Virgil were the authors which I was secretly devouring .
My very slender fortune, however, being unsuitable to this plan of life, and my health being a little broken by my ardent application, I was tempted, or rather forced, to make a very feeble trial for entering into a more active scene of life . In 1734, I went to Bristol, with recommendations to eminent merchants; but in a few months found that scene totally unsuitable to me . I went over to France with a view of prosecuting my studies in a country retreat; and I there laid that plan of life which I have steadily and successfully pursued. I resolved to make a very rigid frugality supply my deficiency of fortune, to maintain unimpaired my independency, and to regard every object as contemptible, except the improvement of my talents in literature.
During my retreat in France, first at Rheims, but chiefly at La Fleche, in Anjou, I composed my Treatise of Human Nature. After passing three years very agreeably in that country, I came over to London in 1737. In the end of 1738, I published my treatise , and immediately went down to my mother and my brother, who lived at his country-house, and was employing himself very judiciously and successfully in the improvement of his fortune.
Never literary attempt was more unfortunate than my Treatise of Human Nature. It fell dead-born from the press without reaching such distinction as even to excite a murmur among the zealots. But being naturally of a cheerful and sanguine temper, I very soon recovered the blow, and prosecuted with great ardour my studies in the country. In 1742, I printed at Edinburgh the first part of my Essays, the work was favourably received, and soon made me entirely forget my former disappointment . I continued with my mother and brother in the country, and in that time recovered the knowledge of the Greek language, which I had too much neglected in my early youth .
In 1745, I received a letter from the Marquis of Annandale, inviting me to come and live with him in England; I found also that the friends and family of that young nobleman were desirous of putting him under my care and direction, for the state of his mind and health required it. I lived with him a twelvemonth. My appointments during that time made a considerable accession to my small fortune . I then received an invitation from general St Clair, to attend him as secretary to his expedition, which was at first meant against Canada, but ended in an incursion on the coast of France . Next year, to wit 1747, I received an invitation from the general, to attend him in the same station in his military embassy to the courts of Vienna and Turin. I then wore the uniform of an officer, and was introduced at these courts as aid-de-camp to the general, along with Sir Harry Erskine, and Captain Grant, now General Grant . These two years were almost the only interruptions which my studies have received during the course of my life: I passed them agreeably, and in good company; and my appointments, with my frugality, had made me reach a fortune which I called independent, though most of my friends were inclined to smile when I said so: in short, I was now master of near a thousand pounds.
I had always entertained a notion that my want of success in publishing the Treatise of Human Nature, had proceeded more from the manner than the matter, and that I had been guilty of a very usual indiscretion, in going to the press too early . I therefore cast the first part of that work anew in the Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, which was published while I was at Turin . But this piece was at first little more successful than the Treatise of Human Nature. On my return from Italy, I had the mortification to find all England in a ferment, on account of Dr Middleton's Free Enquiry , while my performance was entirely overlooked and neglected. A new edition, which had been published at London of my Essays, moral and political, met not with a much better reception
Such is the force of natural temper, that these disappointments made little or no impression on me. I went down in 1749, and lived two years with my brother, at his country-house, for my mother was now dead. I there composed the second part of my essay, which I called Political Discourses, and also my Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, which is another part of my treatise that I cast anew. Meanwhile my bookseller, A. Millar , informed me that my former publications (all but the unfortunate treatise) were beginning to be the subject of conversation; that the sale of them was gradually increasing, and that new editions were demanded. Answers by Reverends and Right Reverends came out two or three in a year ; and I found, by Dr Warburton's railing, that the books were beginning to be esteemed in good company. However, I had fixed a resolution, which I inflexibly maintained, never to reply to any body ; and not being very irascible in my temper, I have easily kept myself clear of all literary squabbles. These symptoms of a rising reputation gave me encouragement, as I was ever more disposed to see the favourable than unfavourable side of things; a turn of mind which it is more happy to possess, than to be born to an estate of ten thousand a year.
In 1751, I removed from the country to the town, the true scene for a man of letters . In 1752, were published at Edinburgh, where I then lived, my Political Discourses, the only work of mine that was successful on the first publication. It was well received abroad and at home . In the same year was published at London, my Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals ; which, in my own opinion, (who ought not to judge on that subject,) is of all my writings, historical, philosophical, or literary, incomparably the best. It came unnoticed and unobserved into the world .
In 1752, the Faculty of Advocates chose me their librarian; an office from which I received little or no emolument, but which gave me the command of a large library . I then formed the plan of writing the History of England, but being frightened with the notion of continuing a narrative through a period of 1700 years, I commenced with the accession of the house of Stuart, an epoch when I thought the misrepresentations of faction began chiefly to take place . I was, I own, sanguine in my expectations of the success of this work. I thought that I was the only historian that had at once neglected present power, interest, and authority, and the cry of popular prejudices; and, as the subject was suited to every capacity, I expected proportional applause. But miserable was my disappointment: I was assailed by one cry of reproach, disapprobation, and even detestation: English, Scotch, and Irish, Whig and Tory, churchman and sectary, freethinker and religionist, patriot and courtier, united in their rage against the man who had presumed to shed a generous tear for the fate of Charles I and the Earl of Strafford; and after the first ebullitions of their fury were over, what was still more mortifying, the book seemed to sink into oblivion. Mr. Millar told me, that in a twelvemonth he sold only forty-five copies of it . I scarcely, indeed, heard of one man in the three kingdoms, considerable for rank or letters, that could endure the book . I must only except the primate of England, Dr Herring , and the primate of Ireland, Dr Stone , which seem two odd exceptions. These dignified prelates separately sent me messages not to be discouraged.
I was, however, I confess, discouraged; and, had not the war at that time been breaking out between France and England, I had certainly retired to some provincial town of the former kingdom, have changed my name, and never more have returned to my native country ; but as this scheme was not now practicable, and the subsequent volume was considerably advanced, I resolved to pick up courage and to persevere.
In this interval, I published at London my Natural History of Religion, along with some other small pieces : its public entry was rather obscure, except only that Dr Hurd wrote a pamphlet against it, with all the illiberal petulance, arrogance, and scurrility, which distinguish the Warburtonian school . This pamphlet gave me some consolation for the otherwise indifferent reception of my performance.
In 1756, two years after the fall of the first volume, was published the second volume of my History, containing the period from the death of Charles I till the Revolution. This performance happened to give less displeasure to the Whigs, and was better received. It not only rose itself, but helped to buoy up its unfortunate brother .
But though I had been taught by experience that the Whig party were in possession of bestowing all places, both in the state and in literature, I was so little inclined to yield to their senseless clamour, that in above a hundred alterations, which further study, reading, or reflection, engaged me to make in the reigns of the two first Stuarts, I have made all of them invariably to the Tory side . It is ridiculous to consider the English constitution before that period as a regular plan of liberty.
In 1759, I published my History of the House of Tudor. The clamour against this performance was almost equal to that against the History of the two first Stuarts. The reign of Elizabeth was particularly obnoxious . But I was now callous against the impressions of public folly, and continued very peaceably and contentedly in my retreat at Edinburgh, to finish, in two volumes, the more early part of The English History, which I gave to the public in 1761, with tolerable, and but tolerable, success .
But, notwithstanding this variety of winds and seasons to which my writings had been exposed, they had still been making such advances, that the copy-money given me by the booksellers much exceeded any thing formerly known in England . I was become not only independent, but opulent, I retired to my native country of Scotland, determined never more to set my foot out of it; and retaining the satisfaction of never having preferred a request to one great man, or even making advances of friendship to any of them. As I was now turned of fifty, I thought of passing all the rest of my life in this philosophical manner , when I received, in 1763, an invitation from the Earl of Hertford, with whom I was not in the least acquainted, to attend him on his embassy to Paris, with a near prospect of being appointed secretary to the embassy; and, in the mean while, of performing the functions of that office . This offer, however inviting, I at first declined, both because I was reluctant to begin connections with the great, and because I was afraid that the civilities and gay company of Paris would prove disagreeable to a person of my age and humour; but on his lordship's repeating the invitation, I accepted of it. I have every reason, both of pleasure and interest, to think myself happy in my connections with that nobleman, as well as afterwards with his brother, General Conway .
Those who have not seen the strange effects of modes will never imagine the strange reception I met with at Paris, from men and women of all ranks and stations . The more I resiled from their excessive civilities, the more I was loaded with them. There is, however, a real satisfaction in living at Paris, from the great number of sensible, knowing, and polite company with which the city abounds above all places in the universe. I thought once of settling there for life.
I was appointed secretary to the embassy; and in summer 1765, Lord Hertford left me, being appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland . I was chargé d’affaires till the arrival of the Duke of Richmond, towards the end of the year. In the beginning of 1766 I left Paris , and next summer went to Edinburgh , with the same view as formerly, of burying myself in a philosophical retreat. I returned to that place not richer, but with much more money, and a much larger income, by means of Lord Hertford's friendship, than I left it ; and I was desirous of trying what superfluity could produce, as I had formerly made an experiment of a competency. But in 1767 I received from Mr Conway an invitation to be under-secretary; and this invitation both the character of the person, and my connections with Lord Hertford, prevented me from declining . I returned to Edinburgh in 1769 very opulent, (for I possessed a revenue of one thousand pounds a year ,) healthy, and though somewhat stricken in years, with the prospect of enjoying long my ease, and of seeing the increase of my reputation .
In spring, 1775, I was struck with a disorder in my bowels , which at first gave me no alarm, but has since, as I apprehend it, become mortal and incurable. I now reckon upon a speedy dissolution. I have suffered very little pain from my disorder; and, what is more strange, have, notwithstanding the great decline of my person , never suffered a moment's abatement of my spirits; insomuch that were I to name a period of my life which I should most choose to pass over again, I might be tempted to point to this later period . I possess the same ardour as ever in study, and the same gaiety in company. I consider, besides, that a man at sixty-five, by dying, cuts off only a few years of infirmities; and though I see many symptoms of my literary reputation's breaking out at last with additional lustre , I knew that I could have but very few years to enjoy it. It is difficult to be more detached from life than I am at present.
To conclude historically with my own character. I am, or rather was (for that is the style I must now use in speaking of myself, which emboldens me the more to speak my sentiments) I was, I say, a man of mild disposition, of command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour , capable of attachment, but little susceptible of enmity, and of great moderation in all my passions. Even my love of literary fame, my ruling passion, never soured my temper, notwithstanding my frequent disappointments . My company was not unacceptable to the young and careless, as well as to the studious and literary; and as I took a particular pleasure in the company of modest women, I had no reason to be displeased with the reception I met with from them. In a word, though most men, anywise eminent, have found reason to complain of calumny, I never was touched, or even attacked, by her baleful tooth; and though I wantonly exposed myself to the rage of both civil and religious factions, they seemed to be disarmed in my behalf of their wonted fury. My friends never had occasion to vindicate any one circumstance of my character and conduct: not but that the zealots, we may well suppose, would have been glad to invent and propagate any story to my disadvantage, but they could never find any which they thought would wear the face of probability . I cannot say there is no vanity in making this funeral oration of myself; but I hope it is not a misplaced one; and this is a matter of fact which is easily cleared and ascertained.
April 18, 1776.
Nov. 9, 1776.
It is with a real, though a very melancholy pleasure, that I sit down to give you some account of the behaviour of our late excellent friend, Mr Hume, during his last illness.
Though in his own judgment his disease was mortal and incurable, yet he allowed himself to be prevailed upon, by the entreaty of his friends, to try what might be the effects of a long journey . A few days before he set out he wrote that account of his own life, which, together with his other papers, he has left to your care. My account, therefore, shall begin where his ends.
He set out for London towards the end of April, and at Morpeth met with Mr John Home and myself, who had both come down from London on purpose to see him, expecting to have found him at Edinburgh . Mr Home returned with him, and attended him, during the whole of his stay in England, with that care and attention which might be expected from a temper so perfectly friendly and affectionate. As I had written to my mother that she might expect me in Scotland, I was under the necessity of continuing my journey. His disease seemed to yield to exercise and change of air; and, when he arrived in London, he was apparently in much better health than when he left Edinburgh . He was advised to go to Bath to drink the waters, which appeared for some time to have so good an effect upon him, that even he himself began to entertain, what he was not apt to do, a better opinion of his own health . His symptoms however soon returned with their usual violence, and from that moment he gave up all thoughts of recovery, but submitted with the utmost cheerfulness and the most perfect complacency and resignation. Upon his return to Edinburgh, though he found himself much weaker, yet his cheerfulness never abated, and he continued to divert himself, as usual, with correcting his own works for a new edition, with reading books of amusement, with the conversation of his friends; and sometimes in the evening with a party at his favourite game of whist. His cheerfulness was so great, and his conversation and amusements ran so much in their usual strain, that notwithstanding all bad symptoms, many people could not believe he was dying. ‘I shall tell your friend colonel Edmondstone ,’ said doctor Dundas to him one day, ‘that I left you much better, and in a fair way of recovery.’ ‘Doctor,’ said he, ‘as I believe you would not choose to tell any thing but the truth, you had better tell him I am dying as fast as my enemies, if I have any, could wish, and as easily and cheerfully as my best friends could desire.’ Colonel Edmondstone soon afterwards came to see him, and take leave of him; and on his way home he could not forbear writing him a letter, bidding him once more an eternal adieu, and applying to him, as to a dying man, the beautiful French verses in which the Abbé Chaulieu, in expectation of his own death, laments his approaching separation from his friend the Marquis de la Fare. Mr Hume's magnanimity and firmness were such, that his most affectionate friends knew that they hazarded nothing in talking and writing to him as to a dying man; and that so far from being hurt by this frankness, he was rather pleased and flattered by it. I happened to come into his room while he was reading this letter, which he had just received, and which he immediately showed me. I told him, that though I was sensible how very much he was weakened, and that appearances were in many respects very bad, yet his cheerfulness was still so great, the spirit of life seemed still to be so very strong in him, that I could not help entertaining some faint hopes. He answered, ‘Your hopes are groundless. An habitual diarrhœa of more than a year's standing would be a very bad disease at any age; at my age it is a mortal one. When I lie down in the evening I feel myself weaker than when I rose in the morning; and when I rise in the morning weaker than when I lay down in the evening. I am sensible, besides, that some of my vital parts are affected, so that I must soon die.’ ‘Well,’ said I, ‘if it must be so, you have at least the satisfaction of leaving all your friends, your brother's family in particular, in great prosperity.’ He said that he felt that satisfaction so sensibly, that when he was reading, a few days before, Lucian's Dialogues of the Dead, among all the excuses which are alleged to Charon for not entering readily into his boat, he could not find one that fitted him: he had no house to finish, he had no daughter to provide for, he had no enemies upon whom he wished to revenge himself. ‘I could not well imagine,’ said he, ‘what excuse I could make to Charon, in order to obtain a little delay. I have done every thing of consequence which I ever meant to do, and I could at no time expect to leave my relations and friends in a better situation than that in which I am now likely to leave them: I therefore have all reason to die contented.’ He then diverted himself with inventing several jocular excuses, which he supposed he might make to Charon, and with imagining the very surly answers which it might suit the character of Charon to return to them. ‘Upon further consideration,’ said he, ‘I thought I might say to him, “Good Charon, I have been correcting my works for a new edition. Allow me a little time that I may see how the public receives the alterations .” But Charon would answer, “When you have seen the effect of these, you will be for making other alterations. There will be no end of such excuses; so, honest friend, please step into the boat.” But I might still urge, “Have a little patience, good Charon, I have been endeavouring to open the eyes of the public. If I live a few years longer, I may have the satisfaction of seeing the downfall of some of the prevailing systems of superstition.” But Charon would then lose all temper and decency. “You loitering rogue, that will not happen these many hundred years. Do you fancy I will grant you a lease for so long a term? Get into the boat this instant, you lazy loitering rogue.”’
But though Mr Hume always talked of his approaching dissolution with great cheerfulness, he never affected to make any parade of his great magnanimity. He never mentioned the subject but when the conversation naturally led to it, and never dwelt longer upon it than the course of the conversation happened to require; it was a subject indeed which occurred pretty frequently, in consequence of the inquiries which his friends, who came to see him, naturally made concerning the state of his health. The conversation which I mentioned above, and which passed on Thursday the 8th of August, was the last, except one, that I ever had with him. He had now become so very weak that the company of his most intimate friends fatigued him; for his cheerfulness was still so great, his complaisance and social disposition were still so entire, that when any friend was with him he could not help talking more, and with greater exertion, than suited the weakness of his body. At his own desire, therefore, I agreed to leave Edinburgh, where I was staying partly upon his account, and returned to my mother's house here at Kirkaldy, upon condition that he would send for me whenever he wished to see me ; the physician who saw him most frequently, doctor Black , undertaking, in the mean time, to write me occasionally an account of the state of his health.
On the twenty-second of August, the doctor wrote me the following letter:—
'since my last Mr Hume has passed his time pretty easily, but is much weaker. He sits up, goes down stairs once a day, and amuses himself with reading, but seldom sees any body. He finds that even the conversation of his most intimate friends fatigues and oppresses him, and it is happy that he does not need it; for he is quite free from anxiety, impatience, or low spirits, and passes his time very well with the assistance of amusing books.’
I received, the day after, a letter from Mr Hume himself, of which the following is an extract:—
August 23, 1776.
‘I am obliged to make use of my nephew's hand in writing to you, as I do not rise to-day.
[There is no man in whom I have a greater confidence than Mr. Strahan, yet have I left the property of that Manuscript to my nephew David, in case by any accident it should not be published within three years after my decease. The only accident I could foresee was one to Mr. Strahan's life, and without this clause my nephew would have had no right to publish it. Be so good as to inform Mr. Strahan of this circumstance.
You are too good in thinking any trifles that concern me are so much worth your attention, but I give you entire liberty to make what additions you please to the account of my life.]
I go very fast to decline, and last night had a small fever, which I hoped might put a quicker period to this tedious illness; but unluckily, it has in a great measure gone off. I cannot submit to your coming over here on my account, as it is possible for me to see you so small a part of the day; but Dr Black can better inform you concerning the degree of strength which may from time to time remain with me. Adieu.’
P.S. It was a strange blunder to send your letter by the carrier.]
Three days after I received the following letter from Dr Black:—
’Edinburgh, Monday, August 26, 1776.
‘Yesterday, about four o’clock, afternoon, Mr Hume expired. The near approach of his death became evident in the night between Thursday and Friday, when his disease became excessive, and soon weakened him so much, that he could no longer rise out of his bed. He continued to the last perfectly sensible, and free from much pain or feelings of distress. He never dropt the smallest expression of impatience; but when he had occasion to speak to the people about him, always did it with affection and tenderness. I thought it improper to write to bring you over, especially as I had heard that he had dictated a letter to you, desiring you not to come. When he became very weak it cost him an effort to speak, and he died in such a happy composure of mind that nothing could exceed it .’
Thus died our most excellent, and never-to-be-forgotten friend; concerning whose philosophical opinions men will no doubt judge variously, every one approving or condemning them according as they happen to coincide, or disagree with his own; but concerning whose character and conduct there can scarce be a difference of opinion. His temper, indeed, seemed to be more happily balanced, if I may be allowed such an expression, than that perhaps of any other man I have ever known. Even in the lowest state of his fortune, his great and necessary frugality never hindered him from exercising, upon proper occasions, acts both of charity and generosity. It was a frugality founded not upon avarice, but upon the love of independency. The extreme gentleness of his nature never weakened either the firmness of his mind, or the steadiness of his resolutions. His constant pleasantry was the genuine effusion of good-nature and good-humour, tempered with delicacy and modesty, and without even the slightest tincture of malignity, so frequently the disagreeable source of what is called wit in other men. It never was the meaning of his raillery to mortify; and therefore, far from offending, it seldom failed to please and delight even those who were the objects of it. To his friends, who were frequently the objects of it, there was not perhaps any one of all his great and amiable qualities which contributed more to endear his conversation. And that gaiety of temper, so agreeable in society, but which is so often accompanied with frivolous and superficial qualities, was in him certainly attended with the most severe application, the most extensive learning, the greatest depth of thought, and a capacity in every respect the most comprehensive. Upon the whole, I have always considered him, both in his lifetime, and since his death, as approaching as nearly to the idea of a perfectly wise and virtuous man, as perhaps the nature of human frailty will admit .
|1711.||Birth, p. xvii.|
|1729.||Attack of illness, p. xix, n. 1.|
|1734.||Enters a merchant's office in Bristol, p. xix.|
|1734.||Visits France, where he studies three years, p. xix.|
|1737.||Visits London, p. xx.|
|1738.||Treatise of Human Nature, p. xx.|
|1739.||Returns to Ninewells, p. xx.|
|1741.||Essays Moral and Political, vol. i. p. xx.|
|1742.||Essays Moral and Political, vol. ii. p. xx.|
|1745.||Lives with the Marquis of Annandale, p. xxi.|
|1746.||Expedition to the Coast of France, p. xxi.|
|1747.||Mission to Vienna and Turin, p. xxii.|
|1748.||Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, p. xxii.|
|1749.||Returns from Italy to Ninewells, p. xxiii.|
|1751.||Removes to Edinburgh, p. xxv.|
|1751.||Candidate for the Chair of Logic at Glasgow, p. xxv, n. 1.|
|1751.||Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, p. xxv.|
|1752.||Political Discourses, p. xxv.|
|1752.||Librarian to the Advocates’ Library, p. xxvi.|
|1753.||Gets a house of his own, p. 231, n. 3.|
|1754.||The History of Great Britain. Vol. i. Containing the Reigns of James I and Charles I, p. xxvi.|
|1755.||Essays on Suicide and the Immortality of the Soul suppressed, p. 232, n. 8.|
|1756.||The History of Great Britain. Vol. ii. From the Death of Charles I to the Revolution, p. xxviii.|
|1757.||Resigns his office as Librarian, p. xxvi, n. 2.|
|1757.||Natural History of Religion, pp. xxviii, 19, n. 1.|
|1758.||Visits London, p. 29, n. 1.|
|1759.||History of England under the House of Tudor, pp. xxix, 29.|
|1761.||Visits London, p. 33, n. 3.|
|1761.||History of England from the Invasion of Julius Cœsar to the Accession of Henry VII, pp. xxix, 33, n. 2.|
|1762.||Removes to James's Court, p. 116, n. 2.|
|1763.||Attends Lord Hertford to Paris, pp. xxx, 40.|
|1765.||Appointed Secretary to the Embassy, pp. xxxi, 69, n. 1.|
|1765.||Pensioned, p. 33, n. 6.|
|1766.||Returns to England and resides in London, pp. xxxi, 73.|
|1766.||Quarrel with Rousseau, pp. 74–103.|
|1766.||Returns to Edinburgh, pp. xxxi, 86, n. 1.|
|1767.||Returns to London as Under-Secretary of State, pp. xxxi, 103.|
|1768.||Loses his office, p. 115, n. 1.|
|1768.||Pension increased, p. 55.|
|1769.||Returns to Edinburgh, p. 115, n. 1.|
|1771.||Visits Inverary, p. 221.|
|1772.||Removes to St. Andrew's Square, p. 250, n. 3.|
|1773.||Revised edition of the History of England, pp. 183, 212.|
|1775.||Struck with a mortal illness, pp. xxxii, 312, n. 1.|
|1776.||Writes his Life, xxxiv.|
|1776.||Visits London and Bath, pp. 319, 323.|
|1776.||Death, pp. xxxiv, 345.|
William Strahan, Hume's correspondent, was born in Edinburgh in the year 1715. ‘His father, who had a small appointment in the Customs, gave his son the education which every lad of decent rank then received in a country where the avenues to learning were easy, and open to men of the most moderate circumstances .’ After having served his apprenticeship in his native town, he was enchanted, like so many of his countrymen, by ‘the noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees,’ and took ‘the high road that leads to England .’ There he carried on his trade with great success and rose to a position of importance and affluence. ‘I remember,’ wrote to him his friend Dr. Franklin, ‘your observing once to me, as we sat together in the House of Commons, that no two journeymen printers within your knowledge had met with such success in the world as ourselves .’ It was in his coach that Dr. Johnson, Boswell and blind Mrs. Williams, were one day carried to a dinner at his brother-in-law's house in Kensington. ‘A printer having acquired a fortune sufficient to keep his coach was a good topic for the credit of literature. Mrs. Williams said that another printer, Mr. Hamilton, had not waited so long as Mr. Strahan, but had kept his coach several years sooner. Johnson. “He was in the right. Life is short. The sooner that a man begins to enjoy his wealth the better .”’ In 1770 Strahan purchased from Mr. George Eyre ‘a share of the patent for King's Printer .’ In the general election of 1774 he was returned to Parliament for the borough of Malmesbury, and had the honour of having Charles Fox for his colleague. In the succeeding Parliament he sat for Wooton Basset; but having supported the Coalition Ministry he lost his seat at the general election of 1784 . He outlived his friend David Hume nearly nine years, and died on July 9, 1785.
That he was a man not only of great worth but of a strong and cultivated understanding is shown by the men whom he had made his friends and by the services which he rendered to some of them. Garrick, it is true, thought that he ‘was rather an obtuse man’—one not likely to be ‘a good judge of an epigram.’ To which Johnson replied, ‘Why, Sir, he may not be a judge of an epigram; but you see he is a judge of what is not an epigram .’ That he was a good judge in general of the merits of a book cannot be doubted. First in partnership with Andrew Millar, ‘the Mæcenas of the age,’ the man whom ‘Johnson respected for raising the price of literature ,’ and then in partnership with Thomas Cadell, he published some of the most important works of his time. When Elmsly, the bookseller, ‘declined the perilous adventure’ of bringing out the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, it was Strahan and Cadell who ‘undertook the risk of the publication.’ It was by Strahan's ‘prophetic taste,’ writes Gibbon, that the number of the impression was doubled . ‘There will no books of reputation now be printed in London,’ wrote Hume to him, ‘but through your hands and Mr. Cadell's .’ Though in this statement there is somewhat of Hume's flattery, yet it is true that they were the publishers of works not only of Gibbon and of Hume, but of Johnson, Robertson, Adam Smith, Blackstone, and Blair. Hume and Robertson availed themselves moreover of his knowledge of English in the correction of their proofs. ‘He was,’ writes Dr. Beattie, ‘eminently skilled in composition .’ His services in this respect Hume more than once gratefully acknowledges . He ranks him indeed among the learned printers, who, since the days of Aldus and Stephens, had not been seen on the earth . He made him his literary executor . The long correspondence which he maintained with him shows the value that he set on his letters. ‘I have always said without flattery,’ he wrote to him, ‘that you may give instructions to statesmen .’ A denial of flattery, it is true, means as little in Hume's mouth as it would have done in the mouth of any of those French philosophers or men of letters in whose society he so much delighted. Nevertheless the length of many of his answers is a proof that he thought highly of his correspondent's understanding and knowledge of public affairs. ‘Mr. Strahan loved much,’ wrote Boswell, ‘to be employed in political negotiation .’
He must have had an unusual breadth of character, for he was the friend of men so unlike as Johnson and Hume, as Franklin and Robertson. It was at his house that Johnson and Adam Smith met when ‘they did not take to each other .’ He tried to get Johnson a seat in the House of Commons , and was ‘his friendly agent in receiving his pension for him, and his banker in supplying him with money when he wanted it .’ When Johnson wrote to Scotland, ‘I employ Strahan,’ he said, ‘to frank my letters, that he may have the consequence of appearing a Parliament-man among his countrymen .’ There was a difference between the two men which kept them apart for a few months, when it was healed by a letter from Johnson and a friendly call from Strahan . The warmth of the friendship that existed between him and other eminent men of letters is shown by their letters. Adam Smith writing to him signs himself, ‘Most affectionately yours ,’ and so does Robertson . Beattie and Blair are scarcely less warm . Johnson indeed, when among the Aberdeen professors, mocked at his intimacy with Bishop Warburton. ‘Why, Sir, he has printed some of his works, and perhaps bought the property of some of them. The intimacy is such as one of the professors here may have with one of the carpenters who is repairing the college .’ But Beattie who had seen the correspondence that had passed between the two men said that ‘they were very particularly acquainted .’ The manly indignation of his answer to Hume, who had accused him of deception , is not the letter of a man who was intimate with any one on unworthy terms. The earnestness of the apology which Hume at once made to him is a sure proof of the high value which he set on his friendship.
His portrait was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds in those troubled days when London was still under the scare of the Gordon riots. During the week when the disorder was at its height Sir Joshua's note-book records that he had sittings fixed, among others, for Mr. Strahan. ‘No wonder the appointments between Monday and Thursday have a pen drawn through them .’ Even if the great painter had had the calmness to go on with his work in the midst of such confusion, the eminent printer would not have kept the appointments. ‘He had been insulted,’ writes Johnson, ‘and spoke to Lord Mansfield of the licentiousness of the populace; and his Lordship treated it as a very slight irregularity…. He got a garrison into his house, and maintained them a fortnight; he was so frighted that he removed part of his goods .’
Page 94, note 8. I failed to notice that Hume's Letter of May 15, 1759, quoted in this note, was written in a humorous strain. Dr. Warburton was the last man in the world whose compliments he would have transmitted.
I am entirely of your opinion, that Mr. Balfour's ill humor on this Occasion has no manner of Foundation. Mr. Millar seems to me to have all along us’d him very well; Only, I thought the Price offerd for the large Paper Copies a little too low; and I see you have rais’d it. He has disoblig’d me very much at present, by spreading about a Story, that, when we made our Bargain for the first Volume, I had promis’d he shoud have the second at the same Price. This was demanded, and positively refus’d by me: I only said, that I was not accustomd lightly to change the People whom I dealt with; but that I woud not bind myself. Accordingly, when all the Articles of our Bargain, even the most trivial, were written over, I woud not allow this to be inserted. Baillie Hamilton, who is a very honest Man, remembers and acknowleges this Fact. Indeed, it was very lucky I had that Precaution: For if I had entangled myself in such a Bargain, I never shoud have wrote a second Volume which I coud not hope ever to see succeed in their Management . I am very well pleas’d with the State of the Sale; and hope it is the Prognostic of good Success. I certainly deserve the Approbation of the Public, from my Care and Disinterestedness, however deficient in other Particulars. I shall regard myself as much oblig’d to you, if you inform me of all the Objections, which you hear made by Men of Sense, who are impartial, or even who are not: For it is good to hear what is said on all Sides. It was unlucky, that I did not publish the two Volumes together: Fools will be, apt to say, that I am become more whiggish in this Volume: As if the Cause of Charles the 1 and James the 2 were the same, because they were of the same Family . But such Remarks as these, every one, who ventures on the Public, must be contented to endure . Truth will prevail at last; and if I have been able to embellish her with any Degree of Eloquence, it will not be long before she prevail.
EDINBURGH, 30 of November, .
P.S.—It is easy for me to see, that Mr. Millar has certainly offerd to take from Baillie Hamilton 900 copies at nine Shillings . He never woud have offerd seven at the beginning. It was a strange Infatuation in the Baillie to refuse it.
Your Letter gave me a great deal of Satisfaction; and I am much oblig’d to you for it. I must own, that, in my private Judgement, the first volume of my History is by far the best ; The Subject was more noble, and admitted both of greater Ornaments of Eloquence, and nicer Distinctions of Reasoning. However, if the Public is so capricious as to prefer the second, I am very well pleas’d; and hope the Prepossession in my Favor will operate backwards, and remove even the Prejudices formerly contracted .
I assure you, that, tho’ Mr. Millar has probably had an Intention of writing me to the Purpose he told you, yet he never did it, and his Memory has fail’d him in this Particular. On the contrary, he said to me, that he intended to put this Volume of my philosophical Writings into the same hands with the Dissertations , which are soon to be publish’d, who is, I think, one Bowyer . I did not oppose him, because I thought, that was a Matter, which it did not belong me to meddle with. However you will see by the enclos’d, which I have left open, what woud be my Choice in such a Case; and I hope hence forth he will never think of any but you, wherever any of my Writings are concern’d.
I cannot think of troubling you so far in this new Edition as I did in my History; but I woud be extremely oblig’d to you, as you go along to mark any Doubts that occur to you, either with regard to Style or Argument. Mr. Millar thinks of making very soon another Edition in Twelves , and these Observations woud then serve me in good Stead. These Writings have already undergone several Editions, and have been very accurately examined every Impression ; yet I can never esteem them sufficiently correct.
You will see by my Letter to Mr. Millar that I mention a Dedication, which may perhaps surprize you, as I never dealt in such servile Addresses ; But I hope it will not surprize you, when you hear it is only to a Presbyterian Minister, my Friend, Mr. Hume, the Author of Douglas . I was resolv’d to do what lay in my Power to enable a Youth of Genius to surmount the unaccountable Obstacles, which were thrown in his Way . You will probably see it publishd in a few Days. I hope the Goodness of the Intention will apologize for the Singularity of the undetaking [sic].
Edinburgh, 1 Feby., 1757.
I have wrote apart a Letter, which you may send to Mr. Millar: I shall here add a Word to Yourself; and ask a little of your Advice. Some time ago, I wrote to Mr. Millar, that if he was inclin’d to purchase the full Property of these two Volumes of History, I wou’d part with it, if he wou’d make me a proper Offer. He desir’d me to name my Terms. I ask’d 800 Guineas ; but have not yet receiv’d an answer from him. I own to you, that the Demand may appear large; but if Mr. Millar and I reason upon the same Principles it will not appear unreasonable. I think History the most popular kind of writing of any , the Period I treat of the most interesting, and my Performance will I hope rise in Credit every day. We have so little, or rather nothing of this kind that has the least Appearance either of Impartiality or Eloquence, that I cannot doubt but in the long run it will have a considerable Success. Now I was offerd 800 Pounds for the first Edition alone by Baillie Hamilton; and he propos’d to have reasonable Profits after paying me that Sum: I cannot think but all the subsequent Editions must be at least equal in Value to the first alone. This is the View in which the Affair appeard to me: If it appears to you in the same Light, I doubt not but you will express your Mind to him. If you think my Demand unreasonable, I shall be oblig’d to you for telling me so, and for giving me your Reasons. For tho’ it is not probable, that I shall fall much, if any thing, of that Demand: Yet if I see it impracticable for me to obtain it, I shall endeavor to contrive some other Method, by which I may adjust Matters with Mr. Millar in case of a second Edition. It is chiefly in order to avoid the Trouble and Perplexity of such Schemes that I desire at once to part with all the Property.
I am Dear Sir Your most obedient humble Servant
15 Feby., 1757.
P.S.—You will certainly like my Friend's Play . It was acted here with vast Success. And reads as well as it acts. Mr. Millar woud tell you the Accident, which occasiond many copies of the Dissertations to be sold without the Dedication . It has given me some Vexation. However there is no Remedy.
15 Feby., 1757.
I suppose you have now begun, and are somewhat advanc’d in the Quarto Edition of my Essays. I intend to make an Index to it , and for this Reason have desir’d that the corrected Sheets may be sent me by the Post. I must also desire you to send them from time to time, as they are printed off; that, if there be any Mistakes in the Press (and some are unavoidable) I may be able to make a more full Errata. Please send under a Cover as many as a Frank will admit : And if you want Franks, either Mr. Millar or you may send Covers directed to me to Mr. Mure , Mr. Oswald , Mr. Elliot or Sir Harry Erskine . You may chuse either of them whose House lye most convenient. I fancy Mr. Mure may have most Leizure.
I have receiv’d the two first Sheets of the Quarto Edition of my philosophical Writings; and am very well satisfy’d with it. Please only to tell the Compositor, that he always employ a Capital after the Colons. Here follow a few Alterations, which I desire you to make on the last published Volume or four Dissertations which are to be inserted in different Places of the Quarto Volume.
[These alterations, as they are minute and can only be understood by a reference to the printed volume, I think it needless to print.]
Please to get a Copy of the Dissertations from Mr. Millar and make these Alterations. Observe also that the two Dissertations, which are to be inserted among the Essays, are to be entitled Essays. The other two are to be inserted in the Places as directed
I am very well pleas’d to finish the Bargain with Mr. Millar. I hope we shall both find our Account in it. I believe his Offer may be reckond very reasonable and even frank and generous. We have only a small Difference about the time of Payment, which I hope will easily be adjusted. If it be not convenient for him to pay the Money in May next, I wou’d delay it till the 2nd of August, which is our Lambas term , and woud endeavour to get his Bill discounted, tho’ that Practice be not very common in Scotland .
I hope the Douglas has had a good Success in London . The Public will certainly at first be divided. That Simplicity both of Fable and Style are Novelties on the English Stage, and will no doubt meet with Opposition; but they must prevail, I think, at last .
I am Sir Your most obedient Servant
NINEWELLSNEAR BERWICK, 18 April, 1757.
P.S.—I return to Edinburgh in a few days.
I am positive not to reply a single Word to Dr. Hurd; and I also beg of you not to think of it. His Artifices or Forgeries, call them which you please, are such common things in all Controversy that a man woud be ridiculous who woud pretend to complain of them; and the Parsons in particular have got a Licence to practice them. I therefore beg of you again to let the Matter pass over in Silence . I have deliverd to Mr. Becket a Volume of Essays .
I am yours D. H.
I hereby send you the Index, Title-Page, and all the Preface, which I intend; being only a short Advertisement, to be inserted in any Corner: For I do not think it deserves a Page to itself . The Errata are many of them small Alterations, which I coud not forbear making myself in the Style.
There are only two Errata which are material, those in page 455 and 459, where your Compositor has made me say the direct contrary to my meaning. I know, that such Mistakes are altogether unavoidable; but yet, if it were not too much Trouble, I coud wish, that they were corrected with the Pen, before publication .
I am so sensible of your great Care in this Edition, that I have desird Mr. Millar to give you one of the Copies, which he delivers to me on every Edition, and I beg of you to accept it as a small Testimony of my Regard.
I am Sir Your most obedient Servant
Edinburgh, 3 Sept., 1757.
15 Octr., 1757.
I have sent you a Letter of mine to Mr. Millar open, because I desire you to peruse it, and to give me your Opinion, as a Friend, of the Contents of it. Mr. Millar departs somewhat from an Offer he made me last Spring for a new Volume of History . If the Reason be just which he assigns, the slow Sale of the former Volumes, I own I shoud be extremely discouragd to proceed. But tho’ I have never had any Reason to complain of him, some People in my Situation woud be apt to suspect, that, after I had gone some Length in composing the Work, he intends to extort it from me at somewhat a lower Price; which is so ungenteel a Method of Proceeding that I cannot allow myself to believe it, and it woud much discourage me from dealing with him. Your general Character and the Instances, which I have receivd of your Friendship, assure me of your Candor, and make me have recourse to you on this Occasion. Can I believe, that he has any real Reason for coming down of the Offer which he formerly made me?
I have sent you along with this, an ostensible Letter, of the Nature of those you desird me to write. I hope Mr. Millar did not forget to deliver you the Copy of my last Volume, as I desird him. I need not put you in mind to put a Wafer in my Letter to Mr. Millar.
I am oblig’d to you for the Letter with which you favord me. I fancy, you woud have found part of it answerd, before I receivd it. This day three Weeks, I sent up the second Volume of my History by the Stage Coach to Mr. Millar, which is probably put into your hands by this time. The Alterations I make on this Volume are not very considerable; those I make on the first Volume are more so, particularly in the Reign of James, which requires to be changd in many Places, in order to adjust it to this previous Volume , which I am now composing, and which is nearly finishd. It is for this Reason, I coud wish Mr. Millar woud make a new Edition of both at once, and I have told him my Sentiments on that head. His Resolution will probably depend on the Number of Copies, which remain of the first Volume ; but as there were only 250 thrown off more than of the Second, I fancy there cannot be many on hand, after all the second are sold off. For there is always a considerable Defalcation in the Sale of second Volumes .
I am really concernd for what you tell me of Mr. Millar's being Ill, tho I hope his Ailment will only be slight. I know few who woud make a greater Loss to this Country, especially to the young Men of Letters in it . I propose to see you about the Autumn, when I hope to commence a personal Acquaintance with you.
I am glad to find that Mr. Millar and I have agreed about reprinting the first Volume of my History . I shall soon send you up a corrected Copy of it; and in the mean time you may proceed in printing the second Volume. The Title of it will be History of Great Britain under the House of Stuart, in two Volumes . As the Title of the other Volume will be History of England under the House of Tudor. By this Means they will be different Works; and some few Repetitions which will be unavoidable in this Method of composing them, will be the more excusable.
I had once an Intention of changing the Orthography in some particulars: But on Reflection I find, that this new Method of Spelling (which is certainly the best and most conformable to Analogy) has been followd in the Quarto Volume of my philosophical Writings lately publishd; and therefore I think it will be better for you to continue the Spelling as it is .
I woud not give you the Trouble of sending me the Sheets. I shall see you in London before the Publication; and shall then be able to correct any Errata that may have escapd you.
I sent off last Tuesday by the Stage Coach a corrected Copy of the first Volume of my History directed to you, and it will probably be with you as soon as this. There is only a small Correction more, which you will please to make. At Page 100. Line 16; Add this Note. Rushworth Vol. 1. p. 82.
On Tuesday come Sennight the 15 of this Month, the Manuscript Copy of my new Volume will be put into the Stage Coach, in two white Iron Boxes, directed to you. As there are in the same Boxes a few Papers on private Business, you will please to leave the Boxes unopened till I come to London, which will probably be about the End of this Month or beginning of the next. I go up on Horse-back , which is the Reason why I send the Manuscript before me.
I shall be sure to see you as soon as I arrive, and hope then to commence a personal Acquaintance with you, and to return you thanks for the many Instances, which I have receivd of your Attention and Friendship.
EDINBURGH, 5 of August, 1758.
On the Conclusion of this Work, I thank you for your Care, Exactness, Diligence and Dispatch; and have put my angry Letter into the Fire, where, partly by its own heat, partly by that of the burning Coals, it was immediately consumd to Ashes.
I had a Letter from Dr. Robertson, who is very earnest with me to have a Copy of my Volume as soon as possible, promising not to show it to a mortal, till publication. I have obtain’d Mr. Millar's Consent ; and therefore desire you to bind in boards a Volume of large Paper as soon as possible, and send it to the Stage Coach, directed to Mr. Robertson Minister of the Gospel at Edinburgh, near the head of the Cowgate . The Stage Coach sets up near you ; so I must beg you to take this Trouble.
Mr. Andrew Reid was so good as to look over some Sheets for me, but has so blotted them with Corrections that he has renderd it useless for me. I must therefore beg of you to bind in boards another compleat Copy of small Paper, and to send it to my House as soon as it is ready.
[November or December, 1760.]
You gave me a sensible Satisfaction by writing to me; and tho I am a little lazy myself in writing (I mean, Letters: For as to other kinds of writing, your Press can witness for me, that I am not lazy) there is nothing gives me greater Pleasure than hearing from my Friends, among whom I shall be always fond of ranking Mr. Strahan. You have probably heard from Mr. Millar, that I am wholly engrossd in finishing my History ; and have been so above a twelvemonth. If I keep my Health, which is very good and equal to any Fatigue, I shall be able to visit you in eight or nine Months; and then you may expect to have a very troublesome Dun upon you, in making Demands of a regular Visit of your Devil ; and I shall be able to cure you of some Indolence, which as our Friend opposite Catherine Street in the Strand complains to me, is growing upon you. If this Indolence comes from Riches, I hope also to cure it another way, by gaining your Money at Whist; tho’ really the Person abovementiond is a Proof that Indolence is no immediate or necessary Effect of Riches: So that I fancy it is born with you; and that there is no hopes of curing you. However, it will give me some Satisfaction to come to you in case of any Negligence, and first scold you and then gain your Money, in order to punish you.
I am sorry, both on your Account and Mr. Rose's , for whom I have a great Regard, that it shoud be absolutely impossible for me, till my present Undertaking is finishd, to have any hand in what he proposes to me. If I had leizure, I shoud certainly comply with his Request: He only disobliges me in mentioning any other Acknowlegement, than his being sensible of my Inclination to oblige him.
Is this new Reign to be the Augustan Age ? or have the Parsons got entire Possession of the young Prince ? I hear that they brag much of their Acquisition; but he seems by his Speech to be a great Admirer of his Cousin of Prussia , who surely is no Favourer or Favourite of theirs . I wonder how Kings dare be so free: They ought to leave that to their Betters; to Men who have no Dependance on the Mob, or the Leaders of the Mob. As to poor Kings they are obligd sometimes to retract and to deny their Writings.
I was glad to observe what our King says, that Faction is at an End and Party Distinctions abolish’d . You may infer from this, that I think I have kept clear of Party in my History; that I think I have been much injurd when any thing of that Nature has been imputed to me, and that I now hope the public Ear will be more open to Truth: But it will be a long time first; and I despair of ever seeing it .
I beg my compliments to Mrs. Strahan, and all your Family, and am Dear Sir with great Sincerity,
I cannot give you a better Return for your obliging Letter than by introducing to your Acquaintance, the Bearer, Mr. Mcpherson, who translated some Fragments of Highland Poetry, which have been extremely well receivd by the Public, and have probably come to your Hands. He has also translated a larger Work, a narrative Poem of great Antiquity, which lay in Obscurity, & woud probably have been bury’d in oblivion, if he had not retrievd it. He proposes to print it by Subscription, and his Friends here are already very busy in procuring him Encouragement. He goes up to London with the same Intention; and you may readily believe, that I advis’d him to think of nobody but our Friend, Mr. Millar, in disposing of the Copy. He will probably need your Advice in several Particulars, and as he is an entire Stranger in London, you will naturally of yourself be inclind to assist him. He is also very worthy of your Friendship; being a sensible, modest young Fellow, a very good Scholar, and of unexceptionable Morals. I have advis’d him to be at first on a Footing of Confidence with you; and hope you will receive him as one who merits your Friendship .
EDINBURGH , 9 Feby. 1761.
I return you thanks for the favourable Sentiments you express, in which I am sensible there is great Partiality; a Circumstance, however, which renders them the more obliging. I do not expect ever to live and see the Completion of your Prophecy.
I send you the second Volume of the Stuarts Mr. Millar tells me, that he intends to throw off a small Number of 250 to compleat the Sets; and at the same time a larger number of 750, on Medium paper, which he intends likewise for a new Edition of the Tudors and this antient History. Now I am going to propose to you an Improvement, if it be practicable. I always intended, that the whole six Volumes shoud be printed and shoud read as one continued Work, and that the Chapters shoud go on without Interruption from beginning to end. In that Case, the first Chapter of James I, is the forty fifth of the whole. Could you not therefore without any difficulty alter the Types for the last 750 Copies, so as to accommodate the Work to this Alteration. There needs only to change the beginning of the Chapter & the marginal Title, which may be done without Trouble. Unless this be done at present, I do not know when we shall be able to bring them to an Uniformity .
Mr. Hume's Compliments to Mr. Strahan: He sets out Morrow for France ; but wishes to put Mr. Strahan in Mind, of what he promisd, to correspond with him at Paris. His Direction is under Cover to Lord Hertford, Northumberland House in the Strand.
Mr. Worral had a Laws of Jamaca
Oct. 14, 1763.
I have long expected to hear from you and to learn your Sentiments of English Politics , according to the Promise you made me on parting: Perhaps, you have as long expected to hear from me; and thus while we stand upon Ceremony, our Correspondence is never likely to begin. But I have now broke the Ice, and it will be your Fault, if our Commerce of Letters does not continue.
I have been on the Watch this Winter for any publication, which might answer in an English Translation, and have even fix’d a Correspondence with one of the Licencers of the Press to give me early Intelligence; but there has nothing appeard, which I thought woud answer, except Voltaire's Treatise of Toleration, of which only a very few stolen copies came here, and it was impossible for me to procure one
Are you acquainted with the Merit of Madame Riccoboni's Novels? She is the Author of Lady Juliette Catesby, and others which have been very well receivd both in France and England; and are indeed wrote with great Elegance and Decency . She has just now in the Press a Novel , wrote upon English Manners, from which great Success is expected. Woud you think it worthy of being translated? I coud get from her some Sheets of it, which I woud send you by a Courier , and which woud secure you the Property: The rest I woud send by any Traveller, of whom Numbers set out every day .
As she is a Woman of Merit, but poor, any small Present, proportiond to the Success of the Work, I shall only mention in general, and shall leave the Amount of it to your own Discretion afterwards.
Please to direct to me, under Cover to the Earl of Hertford, and send your Letters to Northumberland House in the Strand.
Paris, 20 March, 1764.
P.S.—Pray inform me, if you can, of the Reason of this continued low Price of Stocks : They say, that Money is as scarce in private Transactions. But what is the Reason of that, after the Peace has been establishd for above a twelve month?
Since I wrote the above, I have procurd the two first printed Sheets, from Made Riccoboni. They will secure you the Property, if you think proper to have them translated, which I think they very much deserve. The whole will make two small Volumes.
These are the proof Sheets corrected. The Translator must follow the Corrections on the Margins. What do you think of a French Edition also of the Original?
Mr. Hume's Compliments to Mr. Strahan. He sent him the two first Sheets of this Work, which he hopes Mr. Strahan receivd. In case he has not, Mr. Hume recommends it to Mr. Strahan to be translated into English. It is a work of Made de Riccoboni, so well known by the Letters of Lady Juliette Catesby. Mr. Hume will send over the other Sheets as they come from the Press. He desires Mr. Strahan to write to him. His Direction is under Cover to Lord Hertford at Northumberland House in the Strand.
Paris, 1 of April, 1764.
This Sheet may come to Mr. Strahan's hand before the two others: As this goes by a Messenger ; the other by General Clerk .
I receivd Yours, for which I am much obligd to you: It gave me great Insight into the Affairs you mention.
I am desird by some People here to enquire how many Presses there may be in London. I suppose it must be an Affair more of Conjecture than of exact Calculation .
I send you over three other Sheets. The Work seems to be very fine. The Author cannot exactly tell how many Pages each Volume will contain; but two Volumes of such large Print in 12°, must make but a small Book.
Paris, 18 April, 1764.
P.S.—Since I wrote the above, I have again seen Madame Riccoboni, who tells me that she is now near a Certainty with regard to the Size of her Work. It will be 4 Volumes in twelves of about 240 pages each. The Dutch Ambassador has desird me to procure him the enclosd Medicine. The whole must not be bought nor sent at a time. Send only so many as may make a small Packet, which a Courier may carry. Pack them up carefully under Cover to Lord Hertford, and send them to Northumberland House in the Strand. Pardon this Trouble.
I see sometimes Made Riccoboni, who is extremely surpriz’d, that Mr. Becket answers none of her Letters, sends her none of the Copies which she bespoke, informs her nothing of the Success of her Book, and in short takes no manner of Notice of her . I beseech you make him write, or write yourself for him, if he continues obstinately negligent. I owe Mr. Becket three Pounds, which I shall either pay him in London, or pay Mde Riccoboni for him, in case the Success of her Book has been such, as to entitle her to any Recompence. You or Becket may write her in English. Her Direction is Rue Poissoniere au dela le boulevard. I am somewhat in a hurry, which will apologize for the Shortness of my Letter. I am always much oblig’d to you, when you have Leizure to write to me ; being very sincerely Dear Sir
Paris, 28 of Decr. 1764.
Paris, 26 of Jany. 1765.
I receivd both your Letters, which gave me great Satisfaction. Your Accounts of things are the fullest and most candid I meet with; and if your Leizure allowd you, you coud not do me a greater Satisfaction, than to continue them, when any thing remarkable occurs. I think there is all the Probability that this will prove a quiet Session ; and there is a general Tranquillity establishd in Europe ; so that we have nothing to do but cultivate Letters: There appears here a much greater Zeal of that kind than in England ; but the best & most taking works of the French are generally publishd in Geneva or Holland, and are in London before they are in Paris : So that I cannot have an Opportunity of serving you in the way I coud wish. I am sorry, that the last Publication has not been successfull. I only saw the Beginning and judged from the Authors Character. The Beginning is much the best of the Work. I have not lost view of continuing my History . But as to the Point of my rising in Reputation, I doubt much of it : The mad and wicked Rage against the Scots, I am told, continues and encreases, and the English are such a mobbish People as never to distinguish. Happily their Opinion gives me no great Concern . I see in your Chronicle an Abridgement of a Treatise on the Constitution ; which Treatise seems to be nothing but an Abridgement of my History; yet I shall engage, that the Author has not nam’d me from the beginning to the end of his Performance. On the whole, I can have no Motive of Ambition or Love of Fame to continue my History: Money in my present Circumstances is no Temptation: If I execute that Work, as is probable, it must be for Amusement to myself, after I am tir’d of Idleness. My Health and Spirits are as good at present as when I was five and twenty. Believe me, Dear Sir, with great Sincerity,
The House of Lords was not however careless of the tranquillity of America. On March 6 of this year the keeper of the Sun Tavern, in the Strand, was summoned to their bar, and examined about an exhibition in his house of two Indian Warriors. He assured their Lordships‘that they had their meals regularly and drank nothing stronger than small beer.’ The House resolved:‘That the bringing from America any of the Indians who are under his Majesty's protection, without proper authority for so doing, may tend to give great dissatisfaction to the Indian nations, and be of dangerous consequence to his Majesty's subjects residing in the Colonies.’ Parl. Hist. xvi. p. 51.
1In the Parl. Hist. xvii. 164, we read:—’April 10, 1771. Lord North opened his budget.’
Grimm, writing on Jan. 1, 1766, on the eve of Hume's return to England, says:—’M. Hume doit aimer la France; il y a requ l’accueil le plus distingué et le plus flatteur. Paris et la cour se sont disputé l’honneur de se surpasser….Ce qu’il y a encore de plaisant, c’est que toutes les jolies femmes se le sont arraché, et que le gros philosophe écossais s’est plu dans leur société. C’est un excellent homme que David Hume; il est naturellement serein, il entend finement, il dit quelquefois avec sel, quoiqu’il parle peu; mais il est lourd, il n’a ni chaleur, ni grace, ni agrément dans l’esprit, ni rien qui soit propre à s’allier au ramage de ces charmantes petites machines qu’on appelle jolies femmes.’ Corresp. Lit. v. 3.
Goldsmith wrote in 1759 in The Present State of Polite Learning, ch. vii:—’The fair sex in France have also not a little contributed to prevent the decline of taste and literature, by expecting such qualifications in their admirers. A man of fashion at Paris, however contemptible we may think him here, must be acquainted with the reigning modes of philosophy as well as of dress to be able to entertain his mistress agreeably. The sprightly pedants are not to be caught by dumb show, by the squeeze of a hand, or the ogling of a broad eye; but must be pursued at once through all the labyrinths of the Newtonian system, or the metaphysics of Locke.’ Dr. Moore, in his View of Society and Manners in France, 1779 (i. 24), says:—’Many of the eminent men of letters are received at the houses of the first nobility on the most liberal footing. You can scarcely believe the influence which this body of men have in the gay and dissipated city of Paris. Their opinions not only determine the merit of works of taste and science, but they have considerable weight on the manners and sentiments of people of rank, of the public in general, and consequently are not without effect on the measures of government.’ He points out the influence of the fashionable world on the men of letters,‘whose air, behaviour and conversation are equally purified from the awkward timidity contracted in retirement, and the disgusting arrogance inspired by university honours or church dignities. At Paris the pedants of Moliere are to be seen on the stage only.’ Ib. p. 26.
Mrs. Barbauld says:—’I believe it is true that in England genius and learning obtain less personal notice than in most other parts of Europe.’ She censures‘the contemptuous manner in which Lady Wortley Montagu mentioned Richardson:—’The doors of the Great,’ she says,‘were never opened to him.’ Richardson Corresp. i. clxxiv. Horace Walpole wrote from Paris on Sept. 22, 1765:—’For literature, it is very amusing when one has nothing else to do. I think it rather pedantic in society; tiresome when displayed professedly; and besides in this country one is sure it is only the fashion of the day. Their taste in it is worst of all: could one believe that when they read our authors Richardson and Mr. Hume should be their favourites? The latter is treated here with perfect veneration. His History, so falsified in many points, so partial in many, so very unequal in its parts, is thought the standard of writing.’ Letters, iv. 408.‘The veneration’ with which he was received Hume describes to Robertson, on Dec. 1, 1763:—’do you ask me about my course of life? I can only say, that I eat nothing but ambrosia, drink nothing but nectar, breathe nothing but incense, and tread on nothing but flowers. Every man I meet, and still more every lady, would think they were wanting in the most indispensable duty, if they did not make to me a long and elaborate harangue in my praise. What happened last week, when I had the honour of being presented to the D[auphi]n's children at Versailles, is one of the most curious scenes I have yet passed through. The Duc de B[erri] the eldest [afterwards Lewis XVI] a boy of ten years old, stepped forth, and told me how many friends and admirers I had in this country, and that he reckoned himself in the number from the pleasure he had received from the reading of many passages in my works. When he had finished, his brother, the Count de P[rovence], [afterwards Lewis XVIII] who is two years younger, began his discourse, and informed me that I had been long and impatiently expected in France; and that he himself expected soon to have great satisfaction from the reading of my fine History. But what is more curious; when I was carried thence to the Count d’A[rtois] [afterwards Charles X], who is but four years of age1, I heard him mumble something, which, though he had forgot it in the way, I conjectured from some scattered words to have been also a panegyric dictated to him.’ Stewart's Robertson, p. 353.
The Marquis of Tavistock wrote to the Duke of Bedford from Paris on April 6, 1764:—’I have lived so much with French people that it's a wonder I have not yet seen the illustre Hume, for there is nobody so fêté by the fine ladies as he is.’ Correspondence of John, Duke of Bedford, iii. 261. The esteem in which Richardson was held at this time is shown by a letter of the Marquis de Mirabeau, the author of L’ami des Hommes, to Hume, dated Aug. 3, 1763. He writes:—’Je vous avoue que le plus digne des hommes selon moi, Richardson seul m’aurait souvent fait regreter de ne savoir pas l’anglais.’ M.S.R.S.E.
Lord Charlemont, after stating that‘no man from his manners was surely less formed for French society than Hume,’ attributes his reception to the fact that‘free thinking and English frocks were the fashion, and the Anglomanie was the ton du pays.’ He tells the following anecdote of the first Lord Holland who about this time visited Paris.‘The French concluded that an Englishman of his reputation must be a philosopher, and must be admired. It was customary with him to doze after dinner, and one day at a great entertainment he happened to fall asleep. “Le voilà!” says a Marquis, pulling his neighbour by the sleeve, “Le voilà qui pense!”’ He adds that, though Hume's conversation could give little pleasure to French men, still less to French women,‘yet no lady's toilette was complete without Hume's attendance. At the Opera his broad unmeaning face was usually seen entre deux jolis minois.’ Memoirs of the Earl of Charlemont, i. 234.
In one respect Hume had owned that authors were far better off here than on the other side of the Channel. After describing to Elliot in 1762 his comfortable flat in James's Court, for which he had paid £500, he continues:—’On comparing my situation with poor Rousseau's, I cannot but reflect how much better book-sellers we have in this country than they in France.’ Stewart's Robertson, p. 360. Voltaire, in his review of Julia Mandeville, says:—’Pour peu qu’un roman, une tragédie, une comédie ait de succès à Londres, on en fait trois et quatre éditions en peu de mois; c’est que l’état mitoyen est plus riche et plus instruit en Angleterre qu’en France, &c.’ Œuvres de Voltaire, xliii. 364.
Little more than a year before Hume wrote that‘the little company in London that is worth conversing with are cold and unsociable,’ Reynolds and Johnson had founded their famous club. Boswell's Johnson, i. 477. Nearly ninety years after he had complained of the want of zeal in England for the cultivation of letters, Darwin was lamenting the indifference to science. Writing in 1854 about an unsolicited grant by the Colonial Government of Tasmania towards the expenses of Sir. J. Hooker's Flora of Tasmania, he says:—’ It is really a very singular and delightful fact, contrasted with the slight appreciation of science in the old country.’ Life of Darwin, i. 394.
1The three princes were nine, eight, and six years old.
’Edinburgh, March 10, 1763. I am in a good measure idle at present; but if I tire of this way of Life, as is probable, I shall certainly continue my History, and have no Thoughts of any other work. But in this State of Affairs, I suppose your People of Rank and Quality woud throw the Door in my Face because I am a Scotsman.’ M. S. R. S. E.
’Edinburgh, 12 March, 1763. I am engaged in no work at present; but if I tire of idleness, or more properly speaking, of reading for my amusement, I may probably continue my History. My only discouragement is that I cannot hope to finish this work in my closet, but must apply to the great for papers and intelligence, a thing I mortally abhor.’ Burton's Hume, ii. 146.
’Edinburgh, 28 March, 1763. I may perhaps very soon gather silently together the books which will enable me to sketch out the reigns of King William and Queen Anne, and shall finish them afterwards, together with that of George I; in London. But to tell you the truth, I have an aversion to appear in that capital till I see that more justice is done tome with regard to the preceding volumes. The languishing sale of this edition makes me conjecture that the time is not yet come; and the general rage against the Scots is an additional discouragement.’ Ib. ii. 147. (Seven weeks after this letter was written Boswell, on being introduced to Johnson, said:—’I do indeed come from Scotland, but I cannot help it.’ Boswell's Johnson, i. 392.)
’Paris, 14 Jany. 1765. I am now in a situation to have access to all the families which have papers relative to public affairs transacted in the end of the last and beginning of this century…. The rage and prejudice of parties frighten me; and above all, this rage against the Scots, which is so dishonourable, and indeed so infamous to the English nation. We hear that it increases every day without the least appearance of provocation on our part. It has frequently made me resolve never in my life to set foot on English ground. I dread if I should undertake a more modern history the impertinence and ill manners, to which it would expose me.’ Burton's Hume, ii. 264.
’[1766.] Some push me to continue my History. Millar offers me any price. All the Marlborough papers are offered me; and I believe nobody would venture to refuse me. But cui bono? Why should I forego idleness and sauntering and society, and expose myself again to the clamours of a stupid factious public ?’ Ib. ii. 392. (The Marlborough papers had been in Mallet's possession. For more than twenty years‘ he had a pension from the late Duke of Marlborough to promote his industry,’ in publishing them. On his death in 1765 it was found that he had not even touched them. Boswell's Johnson, v. 175.)
’Oct. 6, 1767. When Mr. Conway was on the point of resigning, I desird him to propose to the King that I might afterwards have the liberty of inspecting all the public Offices for such Papers as might serve to my purpose. His Majesty said that he was glad I had that object in my Eye; and I should certainly have all the Assistance in his Power.’ David Hume to John Home of Ninewells. M. S. R. S. E.
’8 Oct. 1766. I shall probably do as you advise, and sketch out the outlines of the two or three subsequent reigns, which I may finish at London.’ Burton's Hume, ii. 393.
’London, 27 Nov. 1767. The king himself has been pleased to order that all the records and public offices shall be open to me, and has even sent for some papers from Hanover, which he thought would be useful.’ Private Corresp. p. 250.
’London, 26 April, 1768. Lord Hertford told me that he and his brother [General Conway] had made a point with the King and the ministers, that in consideration of my services I should have some further provision made for me, which was immediately assented to, only loaded with this condition by the King, that I should seriously apply myself to the consummation of my History.’ Ib. p. 257.
’London, 24 May, 1768. The King has given me a considerable augmentation of my pension, expressing at the same time his expectation that I am to continue my History. This motive, with my habits of application, will probably engage me in this undertaking, and occupy me for some years.’ Ib. p. 261.
Strahan wrote to Sir A. Mitchell on April 1, 1768:—’Mr. D. Hume dined with me to-day. He is now applying in good earnest to the continuation of his History, having collected very considerable materials.’ M. S. R. S. E. On May 14, 1768, Boswell, whom Hume had lately visited, wrote:—’david is going to give us two more volumes of History, down to George II. I wish he may not mire himself in the Brunswick sands. Pactolus is there.’ Letters of Boswell, p. 151. On Dec. 9, writing from Edinburgh, Boswell says:—’ Mr. Hume is not to go to Paris; he is busy with the continuance of his History.’ Ib. p. 159. Hume relapses once more into indolence. He writes to Strahan on May 22, 1770:—’I am fully determined 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.’ Two years later his determination is not quite so strong.‘If I find my time lie heavy on my hands, I may, for my amusement, undertake a reign or two after the Revolution. But I believe, in case of my composing any more, I had better write something that has no Reference to the affairs of these factious Barbarians.’ Post, Letter of March 5,1772. His amusement apparently does not require any fresh composition, for at the beginning of the next year he writes:—’ Considering the treatment I have met with, it would have been very silly for me at my years to continue writing any more, and still more blamable to warp my principles and sentiments in conformity to the prejudices of a stupid, factious nation, with whom I am heartily disgusted.’ Post, Letter of Jan. 30, 1773.
A great change was wrought in Hume by the storm of abuse which burst on his countrymen when the new King put himself and the nation in the leading-strings of the Earl of Bute. Though he had written the History of England, he never seemed to understand for one moment the anger that was stirred up in a proud people, when their Great Commoner had to yield to the favourite of a Palace, with his vile system of‘King's friends’ and secret‘influence.’ Some indulgence must be extended to him as a man, though not perhaps as a philosopher, on account of the disappointment which he himself had suffered through his origin. As will be seen (post, p. 58) he was refused the high office of Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland merely because he was born north of the Tweed. His return from France, which followed close on this humiliation, still further embittered his feelings. In that country his genius had been recognised to the full.‘Few people,’ wrote Dr. Blair to him,‘have been more fortunate than you; you have enjoyed in France the full blaze of your reputation and fame; you have tasted all the pleasures of a court and of public life; and after receiving every tribute due to letters and to merit, you retire before it was too late to your own philosophic ease and tranquillity.’ Blair to Hume, Oct. 8, 1765. M. S. R. S. E. Philosophic ease was not by any means enough. His ruling passion, as he himself owned in his Autobiography, was‘love of literary fame.’ To him might be applied, though not in all its extent, what Johnson said of Richardson:—’He could not be contented to sail quietly down the stream of reputation, without longing to taste the froth from every stroke of the oar.’ (Piozzi's Anecdotes, p. 184.) He returned to our shores one of the most famous men in Europe, and he at once passed from‘the full blaze’ to that dim and uncertain glimmer which was all that genius could throw round itself here. Had he been content with the company of men of letters, his love of fame might perhaps have been satisfied; but he was used to the homage of men and women of rank and fashion in the most famous drawing-rooms of Paris. Princes no longer made him addresses, nor did fine ladies‘believe him implicitly,’ (Walpole's Letters, iv. 426). His vanity, I believe, was wounded just as was Rousseau's, when that philosopher found how quickly a great writer sinks into insignificance in London. Both men were wanting in that humour which‘holds the world but as the world,’ and in the midst of disappointments and neglect smiles at them and at itself.
In the extracts from his letters given in Note 3 the bitterness of his feelings has been seen. The following passages show that it did not lessen with growing years:—
’Paris, 1 Dec. 1763. It is probable that this place will long be my home. I feel little inclination to the factious barbarians of London.’ Burton's Hume, ii. 178.
’Paris, 27 March, 1764. I have been accustomed to meet with nothing but insults and indignities from my native country1.’ Ib. p. 191.
’Paris, 26 April, 1764. The taste for literature is neither decayed nor depraved here, as with the barbarians who inhabit the banks of the Thames.’ Ib. p. 196.
’Paris, 22 Sept. 1764. From what human motive or consideration can I prefer living in England than in foreign countries? I believe, taking the continent of Europe from Petersburgh to Lisbon and from Bergen to Naples, there is not one who ever heard of my name, who has not heard of it with advantage, both in point of morals and genius. I do not believe there is one Englishman in fifty who, if he heard I had broke my neck to-night, would be sorry. Some, because I am not a Whig; some because I am not a Christian; and all because I am a Scotsman. Can you seriously talk of my continuing an Englishman2? Am I, or are you, an Englishman? Do they not treat with derision our pretensions to that name, and with hatred our just pretensions to surpass and govern them?’ Ib. p. 238.
’Paris, 14 Jany. 1765. The rage and prejudice of parties frighten me; and above all this rage against the Scots, which is so dishonourable, and indeed so infamous to the English nation. We hear that it increases every day without the least appearance of provocation on our part. It has frequently made me resolve never in my life to set foot on English ground.’ Ib. p. 265.
’Paris, Aug. 23, 1765. I have a reluctance to think of living among the factious barbarians of London; who will hate me because I am a Scotsman, and am not a Whig, and despise me because I am a man of letters…. Lord Hertford, on his arrival in London, found great difficulty of executing his intentions in my favour1. The cry is loud against the Scots; and the present ministry2 are unwilling to support any of our countrymen, lest they bear the reproach of being connected with Lord Bute.’ Ib. p. 290.
’Paris, Nov. 5, 1765. London is the capital of my own country; but it never pleased me much. Letters are there held in no honour; Scotsmen are hated; superstition and ignorance gain ground daily.’ Ib. p. 292.
It was my duty, as editor of Boswell's Life of Johnson, to gather in a Concordance Johnson's sayings against the Scotch. I shall feel more confidence among my friends of that race, when I show them that Hume in his abuse of the English as much surpassed Johnson in violence as he was inferior to him in wit. On one occasion, and on one alone, do I find him writing as an Englishman. In a letter to the Abbé Morellet, dated London, July 10, 1769, he says:—’The Abbé Galliani goes to Naples; he does well to leave Paris before I come thither; for I should certainly put him to death for all the ill he has spoken of England. But it has happened, as was foretold by his friend Caraccioli, who said that the Abbé would remain two months in this country, would speak all himself, would not allow an Englishman to utter a syllable, and after returning would give the character of the nation during the rest of his life as if he were perfectly well acquainted with them.’ Burton's Hume, ii. 428.
He urges indeed his brother to give his eldest son an English education, so that he may not, by staying in Scotland,‘acquire such an accent as he will never be able to cure of.’ Ib. p. 403. In his History moreover he recognises the advantage of a union of the two nations. So early as the reign of Edward I. he speaks of it as‘a project so favourable to the happiness and grandeur of both Kingdoms.’ He describes that King's attempt to seize the Scottish crown, as a‘great object, very advantageous to England, perhaps in the end no less beneficial to Scotland, but extremely unjust and iniquitous in itself.’ Ed. 1802, ii. 246, 250.
I do not find that Hume's friends among his countrymen shared in the violence of his dislike. On the contrary some of them remonstrated with him. Sir Gilbert Elliot wrote to him in the autumn of 1764:—’Notwithstanding all you say, we are both Englishmen; that is, true British subjects, entitled to every emolument and advantage that our happy constitution can bestow. Do not you speak and write and publish what you please? and though attacking favourite and popular opinions, are you not in the confidential friendship of Lord Hertford, and intrusted with the most important national concerns? Am not I a member of Parliament….? Had it not been for the clamour of a Scott, perhaps indeed I might have been in some more active, but not more honourable or lucrative situation. This clamour we all know is merely artificial and occasional. It will in time give way to some other equally absurd and ill-founded, when you, if you will, may become a bishop and I a minister.’ Burton's Hume, ii. 240. In the same month Millar sent him the following extract from a letter which he had received from Adam Smith, who was at Paris:—’Though I am very happy here, I long passionately to rejoin my old friends, and if I had once got fairly to your side of the water, I think I should never cross it again. Recommend the same sober way of thinking to Hume. He is light-headed, tell him, when he talks of coming to spend the remainder of his days here or in France. Remember me to him most affectionately.’ M. S. R. S. E.
On Feb. 25 of the following year (1765) Millar wrote:—’You are totally mistaken about any prejudice against the Scots in general here. I find no difference of respect to particulars. The cry was raised and is continued only with a view to distress Lord Bute whom they heartily hate, and it would have been happy for his Country he had never been born; his particular friendship being placed on weak or designing men is a misfortune and the certain [?] affectation and manner is disgusting.’ Ib. John Crawfurd wrote to Hume on Jan. 20, 1767:—’What you say of your being detested as a Scotsman, and despised as a man of letters is melancholy nonsense.’ Ib. Boswell,‘a very universal man’ as he was, we find associating with Churchill only two or three months after that scurrilous but most vigorous writer had bitterly assailed Scotland in his Prophecy of Famine. It was by‘the witty sallies’ of him and of a libeller equally gross, John Wilkes, that the young Scotchman‘was enlivened’ on the morning on which he first called on Johnson. Boswell's Johnson, i. 395. On the other hand, Boswell's friend, George Dempster, a Member of Parliament well known in his day, writing to him in 1775 about Johnson's Journey to the Western Islands, shows how strong the English antipathy was. He says:—’I hope the book will induce many of Dr. Johnson's countrymen to make the same jaunt, and help to intermix the more liberal part of them still more with us, and perhaps abate somewhat of that virulent antipathy which many of them entertain against the Scotch; who certainly would never have formed those combinations which he takes notice of, more than their ancestors, had they not been necessary for their mutual safety, at least for their success, in a country where they are treated as foreigners.’ Ib. v. 408. Nevertheless the great popularity of the Scotch authors, Blair, Beattie, Robertson, and Hume himself; the‘extraordinary applause’ that was given to Beattie in the Theatre at Oxford, when on July 9, 1773 he received his degree of Doctor of Laws, show that, however strong may have been the general feeling against the race, it did not necessarily extend in all its force to individuals.
That the provocation was very great that Hume as a Scotchman received cannot be denied. That much of the attack was provoked, as I have said, by the favour shown to his countrymen by the King's Scotch favourite, is equally true. Johnson, who was disposed to think well of the Earl of Bute, from whom as Prime Minister he had received his pension, said of him:—’Lord Bute showed an undue partiality to Scotchmen. He turned out Dr. Nichols, a very eminent man, from being physician to the King, to make room for one of his countrymen, a man very low in his profession. He had Wedderburne and Home to go on errands for him. He had occasion for people to go on errands for him; but he should not have had Scotchmen; and certainly he should not have suffered them to have access to him before the first people in England.’ Boswell's Johnson, ii. 354. There was however another and a less worthy ground for the general ill-will of the English towards the North Britons. There was a jealousy of the success which the Scotch were fairly winning in almost every path of life. The knowledge which they had gained in their schools and universities,‘countenanced in general,’ to use Johnson's words,‘by a national combination so invidious that their friends cannot defend it, and actuated in particulars by a spirit of enterprise so vigorous that their enemies are constrained to praise it, enabled them to find, or to make their way to employment, riches, and distinction.’ Johnson's Works, ix. 158.
The following anecdote, recorded by Jefferson in his Diary, illustrates this Scotch occupation of England:—’The confederation of the States, while on the carpet before the old Congress, was strenuously opposed by the smaller States, which feared being swallowed up by the larger ones. We were long engaged in the discussion; it produced great heats, much ill-humour, & intemperate declarations from some members. Dr. Franklin at length brought the debate to a close with one of his little apologues. He observed that “at the time of the Union of England and Scotland the Duke of Argyle was most violently opposed to that measure, and among other things predicted that, as the whale had swallowed Jonah, so Scotland would be swallowed by England. However (said the Doctor) when Lord Bute came into the Government, he soon brought into its administration so many of his countrymen, that it was found in the event that Jonah swallowed the whale.” This little story produced a general laugh, and restored good humour, and the article of difficulty was passed.’ Life of Franklin, ed. by J. Bigelow, 1879, iii. 299.
Having shown Hume's rage against the English, I will now give a few instances of‘the mad and wicked rage against the Scots.’ Wilkes, in the North Briton, No. xiii. (Aug. 28, 1762), in a passage which he says comes from Howell, writes:—
’As for fruit for their grandsire Adam's sake they [the Scotch] never planted any; and for other trees, had Christ been betrayed in this country (as doubtless he should, had he come as a stranger) Judas had sooner found the grace of repentance than a tree to hang himself on.’ This attack he follows up with such abuse as the following:—’Jany. 22, 1763. A Scot hath no more right to preferment in England than a Hanoverian or a Hottentot.’ Ib. No. 34.
’April 2, 1763. The restless and turbulent disposition of the Scottish nation before the Union, with their constant attachment to France and declared enmity to England, their repeated perfidies and rebellions since that period, with their servile behaviour in times of need and overbearing insolence in power, have justly rendered the very name Scot hateful to every true Englishman.’ Wilkes goes on to attack Lord Bute for‘his gross partiality to his own beggarly countrymen1.’ Ib. No. 44.
Churchill's Prophecy of Famine, published in 1763, is full of scurrilous passages such as:—
’Oft have I heard thee mourn the wretched lot Of the poor, mean, despis’d, insulted Scot.’
’If fashionable grown, and fond of pow’r With hum’rous Scots let them disport their hour; Let them dance fairy-like, round Ossian's tomb; Let them forge lies and histories for Hume; Let them with Home, the very Prince of verse, Make something like a tragedy in Erse.’
'sacred from vengeance shall his memory rest? Judas, though dead, though damned, we still detest.’
The‘rage’ continued for years after Bute's retirement from office, for the secret‘influence’ was still suspected. Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto. p. 509) says that in 1769 Garrick, who was bringing out a new play by John Home,‘justly alarmed at the jealousy and dislike which prevailed at that time against Lord Bute and the Scotch, had advised the author to change the title of Rivine into that of The Fatal Discovery, and had provided a student of Oxford who appeared at the rehearsals as the author, and wished Home of all things to remain concealed till the play had its run. But John, whose vanity was too sanguine to admit of any fear or caution, and whose appetite for praise rebelled against the counsel that would deprive him for a moment of his fame, too soon discovered the secret, and though the play survived its nine nights, yet the house evidently slackened after the town heard that John was the author.’ Murphy, in his Life of Garrick, p. 295, says of Home's play:—’The names of the persons of the piece are grating to an English ear. Kastreel, Dunton, Connon, and the like are exotics beneath the dignity of tragedy. The play might as well be written in Erse.’ Dr. Blair, on the other hand, as became the champion of Ossian, writing to Hume on March 11, 1769, says:—’I have this morning received The Fatal Discovery by post. I sit down to read it with great greediness. What made Home give it such a foolish Novel kind of name? Rivine ought to have been the name of the play.’ M. S. R. S. E. We may pause a moment to reflect on the vast change in sentiment that has been wrought since the days when a Highland name was thought sufficient to damn a play. Now, not only Lowlanders, but even Englishmen, when they go to‘the mountains of the North’ are proud to disguise themselves in a dress which their forefathers in Edinburgh or in London, in the days of David Hume and John Home, would have looked on with a feeling of scorn not altogether unmingled with fear. Perhaps by the end of the twentieth century the descendants of the Orangemen of Belfast and Londonderry, and people of rank and fortune from England, when they go to shoot and fish in the wilds of Kerry or Connemara, will hope in their long frieze coats, their knee breeches, and their worsted stockings, to be taken for the children of the soil. Johnson, when he was surrounded by the M’Craas with their‘very savage wildness of aspect and manner,’ and felt that‘it was much the same as being with a tribe of Indians,’ if any one had told him that in another hundred years English gentlemen would be proud to be mistaken for Highlanders, in all probability would have replied:—'sir, you lie, and you know that you lie.’ It was less than twenty years before the date of Hume's letter that Ray, in his History of the Rebellion of 1745 (p. vii), describes the Young Pretender's army as‘the barbarians that over-run the country.’
To return from this digression to the main subject of this note. Smollett in Humphry Clinker, published in 1771, (Letter of July 13), describes how‘from Doncaster northwards all the windows of all the inns are scrawled with doggrel rhymes in abuse of the Scottish nation.’ Lord Shelburne wrote:—’I can scarce conceive a Scotchman capable of liberality, and capable of impartiality.’ Fitzmaurice's Shelburne, iii. 441. Of Lord Mansfield he wrote that‘like the generality of Scotch he had no regard to truth whatever.’ Ib. i. 89. Horace Walpole was, in his old age, as violent against the Scotch as Hume against the English.‘June 14, 1780. What a nation is Scotland; in every reign engendering traitors to the State, and false and pernicious to the Kings that favour it the most! National prejudices, I know, are very vulgar; but, if there are national characteristics, can one but dislike the soils and climates that concur to produce them?’ Letters, vii. 400.‘Feb. 5, 1781. Pray look into the last Critical Review but one; there you will find that David Hume in a saucy blockheadly note calls Locke, Algernon Sidney, and Bishop Hoadly despicable writers. I believe that ere long the Scotch will call the English lousy! and that Goody Hunter will broach the assertion in an Anatomic lecture. Not content with debasing and disgracing us as a nation by losing America, destroying our Empire, and making us the scorn and prey of Europe, the Scotch would annihilate our patriots, martyrs, heroes and geniuses. Algernon Sidney, Lord Russell, King William, the Duke of Marlborough, Locke, are to be traduced and levelled, and with the aid of their fellow-labourer Johnson, who spits at them while he tugs at the same oar, Milton, Addison, Prior and Gray are to make way for the dull forgeries of Ossian, and such wights as Davy and Johnny Home, Lord Kames, Lord Monboddo, and Adam Smith!—Oh! if you [Mason the Poet] have a drop of English ink in your veins, rouse and revenge your country! Do not let us be run down and brazened out of all our virtue, genius, sense and taste by Laplanders and Bœotians, who never produced one original writer in verse or prose.’ Ib. p. 511.
A curious contrast to the violence of Walpole's attack is afforded by a passage in a letter written in the spring of 1759, in which Hume informs Robertson of the great popularity of the History of Scotland.‘Mr. Walpole,’ he says,‘triumphs in the success of his favourites, the Scotch.’ Stewart's Life of Robertson, p. 180. A justification for Hume's statement is found in Walpole's own letters; for on March 25 of this year he wrote to Sir David Dalrymple:—’I could not help smiling, Sir, at being taxed with insincerity for my encomiums on Scotland. They were given in a manner a little too serious to admit of irony, and (as partialities cannot be supposed entirely ceased) with too much risk of disapprobation in this part of the world, not to flow from my heart. My friends have long known my opinion on this point, and it is too much formed on fact for me to retract it, if I were so disposed.’ Letters, iii. 217. This was written, be it observed, while George II was King, and the Earl of Bute nothing more than the favourite of the Princess Dowager of Wales.
See post, Letters of Oct. 25, 1769; March 5, 1772; Jan. 30, 1773.
1By native country he means Great Britain, as distinguished from France.
2His correspondent, Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto, had written to him:—’Love the French as much as you will; but above all continue still an Englishman.’ Ib. p. 235.
1He had intended to take Hume to Ireland as his Secretary, in his post of Lord Lieutenant.
2The Rockingham Ministry.
1Johnson in 1754 had said that Bolingbroke‘left half a crown to a beggarly Scotchman to draw the trigger after his death.’ Boswell's Johnson, i.268.
’You are a Member of Parliament, and one of that Majority which has doomed my Country to Destruction.—You have begun to burn our Towns, and murder our People,—Look upon your Hands!—They are stained with the Blood of your Relations! You and I were long friends.—You are now my Enemy,—and
There have some Transactions pass’d with you of late , which much excite our Curiosity at a Distance; but I do not wish that you woud write me your Opinion freely about them, unless you can get a private hand, by whom you can send your Letter .
I shall be much obligd to you, if you will be so good as to insert the following Article in the Chronicle , and give it about to the other Papers.
’Paris. On Tuesday the fourth of June, being the Anniversary of his Majesty's Birth day, the Earl of Hertford, Ambassador from England, invited all the English of Rank and Condition in this Place, to the Number of seventy Persons, who dind with him and celebrated that Solemnity. The Company appeard very Splendid, being almost all drest in new and rich Cloaths on this Occasion; the Entertainment was magnificent, and the usual Healths were drunk with great Loyalty and Alacrity by all present .’
I am sorry it is not allowd me to communicate to you any more interesting Intelligence; but be assurd of my Regard, and excuse my abrupt Conclusion, as I write in a Hurry.
Paris, 6th of June, 1765.
’May 25, 1765. My last, I think, was of the 16th. Since that we have had events of almost every sort. A whole administration dismissed, taken again, suspended, confirmed; an insurrection; and we have been at the eve of a civil war. Many thousand weavers rose on a bill for their relief being thrown out of the House of Lords by the Duke of Bedford. For four days they were suffered to march about the town with colours displayed, petitioning the King, surrounding the House of Lords, mobbing and wounding the Duke of Bedford, and at last besieging his house, which with his family was narrowly saved from destruction. At last it grew a regular siege and blockade; but by garrisoning it with horse and foot literally, and calling in several regiments the tumult is appeased. Lord Bute rashly taking advantage of this unpopularity of his enemies, advised the King to notify to his Ministers that he intended to dismiss them,—and by this step, no succedaneum being prepared, reduced his Majesty to the alternative of laying his crown at the foot of Mr. Pitt or of the Duke of Bedford; and as it proved at last, of both. The Duke of Cumberland was sent for, and was sent to Mr. Pitt, from whom, though offering almost carte blanche, he received a peremptory refusal. The next measure was to form a Ministry from the Opposition. Willing were they, but timid. Without Mr. Pitt nobody would engage. The King was forced to desire his old Ministers to stay where they were…. Here are all the great and opulent noble families engaged on one side or the other. Here is the King insulted and prisoner, his Mother stigmatised, his Uncle affronted, his Favourite persecuted. It is again a scene of Bohuns, Montforts and Plantagenets…. When I recollect all I have seen and known, I seem to be as old as Methuselah; indeed I was born in politics,—but I hope not to die in them. With all my experience, these last five weeks have taught me more than any other ten years.’ Walpole to Mann. Letters, iv. 370-2.
’June 26, 1765. You have known your country in more perilous situations, but you never knew it in a more distracted one in time of peace than it is in at present. Nor had I ever more difficulty to describe its position to you. Times of party have their great outlines which even such historians as Hollingshed or Smollett can seize. But a season of faction is another guess thing. It depends on personal characters, intrigues and minute circumstances, which make little noise and escape the eyes of the generality. The details are as much too numerous for a letter as, when the moment is past, they become too trifling and uninteresting for history.’ Ib. p. 377.
Burke, writing on May 18 to Henry Flood, said:—’Nothing but an intractable temper in your friend Pitt can prevent a most admirable and lasting system from being put together; and this crisis will shew whether pride or patriotism be predominant in his character; for you may be assured that he has it now in his power to come into the service of his country upon any plan of politics he may choose to dictate, with great and honourable terms to himself and to every friend he has in the world; and with such a stretch of power as will be equal to everything but absolute despotism over the King and kingdom. A few days will shew whether he will take this part, or that of continuing on his back at Hayes, talking fustian, excluded from all ministerial, and incapable of all parliamentary service; for his gout is worse than ever, but his pride may disable him more than his gout. These matters so fill our imaginations here that with our mob of six or seven thousand weavers who pursue the Ministry, and do not leave them quiet or safety in their houses, we have little to think of other things.’ Burke's Private Corres. i. 80.
Dr. Blair wrote to Hume in Paris on July 1 :—’Our Political Revolutions here would amaze you…. All that seems to be certain is that L. B. [Lord Bute] is worsted and — [the King] made a prisoner. If the present Establishment take any root, it will probably end in his relapsing altogether into the condition of a private man and amusing himself with his Wife and his Children; now that they have found the ways of subduing him.’ M. S. R. S. E.
Macaulay, in his second Essay on the Earl of Chatham (ed. 1874, iv. 318), describing his conduct at this time says:—’And now began a long series of errors on the part of the illustrious statesman, errors which involved his country in difficulties and distresses more serious even than those from which his genius had formerly rescued her. His language was haughty, unreasonable, almost unintelligible. The only thing which could be discerned, through a cloud of vague and not very gracious phrases, was that he would not at that moment take office.’
’London, June 8, 1757. The public, perhaps at the moment I write this, is at the crisis of its fate But I say no more. For at the Post Office, it is said, they use a liberty without licence (just the contrary of what is done everywhere else, where they use licence without liberty) to open people's letters.’ Warburton to Hurd. Letters from a late Eminent Prelate, ed. 1809, p. 244.
’London, June 26, 1765. You know, my dear Sir, I never expect you to answer me on these delicate subjects [a threatened change of Ministry]. I even send this by a safe conveyance to Lord Hertford at Paris, as I did a former one which I hope you received.’ Horace Walpole to Mann. Letters, iv. 378.
’London, Aug. 29, 1766. I am told there is a great fracas at the Post Office about a letter from the Duke of Bedford to the Duke of Grafton [the Prime Minister] having been opened. Mr. Saxby is named as the person doing it, and is under strict examination, I hear, to name who set him on to do it…. Sept. 2. Saxby is turned out of an office of £1200 a year for opening the Duke of Bedford's letter, it is said, to the Duke of Grafton.’ Mr. Lloyd to Mr. Grenville. Grenville Papers, iii. 311. The editor quotes a Private Memorial to Mr. Grenville, when Prime Minister, from Mr. Anthony Todd, the Secretary to the General Post Office, dated August 1763, containing an account of £5810 Secret Service Money applied to the payment of the allowances on the Secret List for one year. A request was made that the allowance of one Mr. Bode might be increased,‘for engraving the many seals we are obliged to make use of.’ On this Secret List Mr. Todd's name is entered for £750, with £25 added,‘for distributing these allowances.’ His regular salary was only £200 (Court and City Register for 1765, p. 129). It must have been raised later on, for on June 17, 1783, Mr. Pitt in the Debate on his Bill for Reform of Abuses in the Public Offices,‘speaking of fees mentioned the place of the Secretary of the Post Office, who with a salary of five or six hundred pounds made an annual income of upwards of three thousand. Mr. Pitt stated this to arise from his having two and a half per cent. on all packets [packet-boats]; and in the last year of the war he said £140,000 had been expended in packets, so many were either lost at sea or taken.’ Parl. Hist. xxiii. 951. I was puzzled at finding in the Secret List the Bishop of Bath and Wells as the recipient of £500 a year; but after some search I solved the mystery by discovering the following mention of him by Horace Walpole in 1741:—’Old Weston of Exeter is dead. Dr. Clarke, the Dean, Dr. Willes, the decipherer, and Dr. Gilbert of Llandaff are candidates to succeed him. Sir R[obert Walpole, the Prime-Minister] is for Willes, who, he says, knows so many secrets that he might insist upon being made Archbishop.’ Letters, i. 116. His death is thus mentioned in the Gent. Mag. for Dec. 1773, p. 582:—’In Hill Street, Berkeley Square, aged 80, Dr. Edward Willes, Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells, and joint Decipherer (with his son Edward Willes, Esq.) to the King. He was consecrated Bishop of St. David's in 1742, and translated to the see of Bath and Wells in 1743.’ Edward Willes is entered on the Secret List as receiving £500, and Thomas Willes £300.
’dublin, May 19, 1769. To avoid the impertinence of a post-office I take the opportunity of sending this by a private hand.’ Earl of Charlemont to Burke. Burke Corres. i. 167.
’Gregories, July 9, 1769. Might I presume to suggest that just at this time he [the Duke of Richmond] may possibly expect to hear from your lordship by the first safe conveyance. If the letter be given to his porter it will be sent by the coach to Goodwood.’ Burke to the Marquis of Rockingham. Ib. p. 176.
If we may trust Hume the correspondence of private life was safe. He wrote to the Countess de Boufflers in 1775:—’No private letters are ever opened here.’ Hume's Private Corres. p. 282.
At this time the posts to France left London on Tuesday and Friday in every week, and arrived in London from France on Monday and Friday. Their punctual arrival must of course have depended on a favourable wind. Court and City Register for 1765, p. 132.
1The Pitt and Newcastle Ministry was forming.
Compeigne, 4 of Augt., 1765.
Your Letter is the most satisfactory and most impartial Account of the present Transactions, which I have met with from any hand. I give you thanks for it. I had long entertain’d Hopes, that, being here in a foreign Employment, we lay much out of the Road of Faction; and that your Ministry in England might toss and tumble over one another, without affecting us; but I see we are now involvd to a certain degree, and must run the Fate of the rest. It is probable I shall be soon in England when I shall have an Opportunity of conversing with you and thanking you more fully . I am glad to hear better Accounts of Mr. Millar.
For some time it seemed that Hume was to have a still higher office.‘Lord Hertford had assured him that he would not accept of the Lord-Lieutenancy unless he were allowed the naming of the Secretary.’ He had now heard that‘the office was destined for himself in conjunction with Lord Hertford's son, Lord Beauchamp.’ Burton's Hume, ii. 287. On Aug. 4, Hume wrote to his brother from Compiègne:—’My Sallary [as Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant] will be about 2000 a year…. This is an office of Credit and Dignity, and the Secretary has always an unquestioned Claim, whenever his Term expires, of being provided for in a handsome Manner. Thus you see a splendid Fortune awaits me; yet you cannot imagine with what Regret I leave this Country. It is like Stepping out of Light into Darkness to exchange Paris for Dublin…. I shall probably have it in my Power to do Service to my Friends, particularly to your young Folks. For as to you and myself it is long since we thought our Fortunes entirely made…. I shall remain all the Winter and Spring in Ireland; and no more for two Years.’ M.S.R.S.E.
Before the end of the month he learnt that the office was not for him. He wrote to his brother:—’Lord Hertford, on his arrival in London, found great difficulty of executing his intentions in my favour. The cry is loud against the Scots; and the present Ministry are unwilling to support any of our countrymen, lest they bear the reproach of being connected with Lord Bute. For this reason Lord Hertford departed from his project; which he did the more readily, as he knew I had a great reluctance to the office of Secretary for Ireland, which requires a talent for speaking in public to which I was never accustomed. I must also have kept a kind of open house, and have drunk and caroused with the Irish, a course of living to which I am as little accustomed.’ Burton's Hume, ii. 290.
In a letter to Adam Smith, dated Nov. 5, after mentioning‘the Rage against the Scots,’ he adds:—’Perhaps the Zeal against Deists entered for a share.’ In the same letter he describes the office as one‘of great Dignity, as the Secretary is in a manner prime Minister of that Kingdom.’ M.S.R.S.E.
Two years later we find Junius mocking at‘a Scotch secretary teaching the Irish people the true pronunciation of the English language.’ In a note it is stated that it was Sir Gilbert Elliot, Hume's friend, who was meant. Letters of Junius, ed. 1812, ii. 474.
When the Earl of Chesterfield was made Lord Lieutenant in the year 1745, he chose for his Secretary‘one “who was,” he said, “a very genteel pretty young fellow, but not a man of business.” On the first visit his Secretary paid him, he told him, “Sir, you will receive the emoluments of your place; but I will do the business myself, being determined to have no first Minister.”’ Chesterfield's Misc. Works, i. 255. We may wonder whether Hume, if he had been appointed, would, like Windham, have felt‘some modest and virtuous doubts, whether he could bring himself to practise those arts which it is supposed a person in that situation has occasion to employ. “Don’t be afraid, Sir (said Johnson, with a pleasant smile,) you will soon make a very pretty rascal.”’ Boswell's Johnson, iv. 200. Among the Hume Papers belonging to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, I found the following letter written to him the year before by one Mr. O’Conor.
London, February 10th, 1764.
’The Author of the annexed printed Letter, is an Irish Gentleman, who is highly concerned, that so great a Man as Mr. Hume should be ranked among the Foes of IRELAND. He Observes, that you mention the Irish with Scorn and Contempt, whenever they fall in your way, not only in your history, but even in your Miscellanies. Prejudices against this or that Nation, are prejudices unworthy of a philosopher, who knows that all men are formed by NATURE of the same materials, and who ought to be the Common friend and protector of his Species.
The Author's intention was, that his friend in London should present you this letter in Manuscript, but his Friend being informed, that you did not reside in London, published [it] in the Gentlémen's Musæum1 for April and May of the year‘63.
’How far the reasonings contained in the annexed Letter, will contribute to change your Opinion, with respect to the Conduct of the Irish ever since they were reduced under the Yoke of England, I cannot determine. But I HOPE these reasonings will have a favorable Effect. Mr. Hume is not only a great man, but he is a good man, but he is an upright man. He will therefore expunge from his History, the ill-grounded Censures, which he has thrown upon the unfortunate Irish. He will cure the Wounds, that he has inflicted upon this most distressed Nation under the Sun.
’Grant, Sir, by way of Supposition, that the Charge you bring in your History against the Irish is false. On this hypothesis what has not Mr. Hume to account for?—the Roman Catholic Irish have been for seventy years past, the Continual Objects of political Calumny. Hence it is that all the Batteries of Law are perpetually playing against them. Hence it is that Penal Laws are enacted to beggar them, to corrupt them, to divide them, to force them to become Apostates, perjurers and Informers, for THE DESTRUCTION OF EACH OTHER.
’To consider the present Roman Catholic Irish in a proper Light, you must consider them, Sir, as a people half murthered, chained to the ground, and constantly trod upon in this situation, by a troop of wanton Oppressors. Shall the illustrious Mr. Hume join in the horrid Cruelty by propagating and swelling the political Lie that has always been, and continues to be, the Cause of it? If a Reparation of Honour be due to a Private Person who is injured by a false imputation, how much more sacred does this Debt become, when a whole Nation is Calumniated, when Thousands yet unborn are destined to feel the effects of the Slander.
’The Case between you, Sir, and Ireland stands thus: you have fastened the Chains, you have widened the wounds of an expiring people, upon the authority of some English historians who thought themselves interested in robbing the Irish of their reputation, as well as of their lands.
’Had the Account which you give come from an inferior Hand—it would do little hurt—but coming from the hands of Mr. Hume, one of the first Geniuses of the Age he lives in, it arms not only the Prejudices of England, but the Prejudices of the whole Human Race, against the forlorn Irish.
’For the justness and force of the reasoning contained in the annexed Letter, the Author appeals to your own bosom. You will therefore, Sir, it is hoped, do something to repair the Injury you have done a Nation that never did, that never could offend you. Your bookseller, A. Millar, is on the point of giving a new edition of your History. Something by way of Appendix may be added to atone for the Mistakes that have crept into the first Editions, and to prevent the growing Mischiefs of a popular Error, which has obtained the sanction of the [sic] great Name.
’I expect, Sir, that you will honour me with an Answer, which I shall transmit to the Irish Gentleman who wrote the annexed Letter. You will please to address it to Mr. Daniel O’Conor, At the Bull and Gate, in Holborn, London.
1The Universal Museum, or Gentleman's and Ladies’ Polite Magazine of History, Politicks and Literature. Vol. i. was published in 1762.
[London, early in 1766.]
Is it not strange that you and I have not yet met ? I have been so hurry’d both with my own Affairs and with Monr Rousseau's, that I can excuse myself: But I own that I hopd your Leizure woud allow you to come hither. I go out of town to morrow and Sunday : As soon as I come back I propose to beat up your Quarters. My Compliments to Mrs. Strahan.
Buckingham Street, York Buildings ,
Mrs. Adams's. Friday.
Rousseau, speaking of his arrival in England, says:—’J’y apportais l’estime universelle et le respect même de mes ennemis.’ Œuvres de Rousseau, ed. 1782, xxiv. 328. It was on Feb. 15 of this same year that Johnson said of him:—’I think him one of the worst of men; a rascal who ought to be hunted out of society, as he has been. Three or four nations have expelled him; and it is a shame that he is protected in this country…. Rousseau, Sir, is a very bad man. I would sooner sign a sentence for his transportation than that of any felon who has gone from the Old Bailey these many years. Yes, I should like to have him work in the plantations.”’ Boswell's Johnson, ii. 11.
[London, July 15, 1766.]
All I can say of Sir David Dalrymple is that he is now a Lord of the Session, and passes by the Name of Lord Hales or New-hales, I know not which . He is a godly Man; feareth the Lord and escheweth Evil, And works out his Salvation with Fear and Trembling . None of the Books Sir David publishes are of his writing: They are all historical Manuscripts, of little or no Consequence . I go to Woburn for three or four days.
I have got a Letter from Rousseau, which woud make a good eighteen penny Pamphlet. I fancy he intends to publish it . It is perfect Frenzy ; consequently sets my Mind quite at Ease .
July 15, 1766.]
All I can say of Sir David Dalrymple is that he is now a Lord of the Session, and passes by the Name of Lord Hales or New-hales, I know not which . He is a godly Man; feareth the Lord and escheweth Evil, And works out his Salvation with Fear and Trembling . None of the Books Sir David publishes are of his writing: They are all historical Manuscripts, of little or no Consequence . I go to Woburn for three or four days.
I have got a Letter from Rousseau, which woud make a good eighteen penny Pamphlet. I fancy he intends to publish it . It is perfect Frenzy ; consequently sets my Mind quite at Ease .
Oct. 1766 ]
My Friends at Paris have thought it absolutely necessary to publish an Account which I sent them, of my Transactions with Rousseau, together with the original Papers: The Affair had made a great Noise every where, and he had been such a Fool, as to write Defiances against me to all parts of Europe; so that the Justification of my Character they thought requir’d a Publication, which, however, is very much against my Will, coud it have been prevented . The whole will compose a pretty large Pamphlet, which, I fancy, the Curiosity of the Public will make tolerably saleable. I desire you to take upon you the printing and publishing of it; and if any Profit result from it to you, I shall be very happy; reserving the after property and Disposal of the Pamphlet to myself. You will take in what Bookseller you please ; Becket or Caddel or any other: For Mr. Millar woud not think such a Trifle worthy of his Attention.
I shall immediatly send you up a Copy of the original Manuscript, which is partly English, partly French; but more of the latter Language, which must be translated. I shall employ Mr. Coutt's Cover . The Method the Translator must proceed is this : My Friends at Paris are to send me over in a Parcel ten Copies, which will be deliverd to Miss Elliot . I have desird her to send them to you; open the Parcel and take out one Copy for your own Use. Get a discreet and careful Translator : Let him compare exactly the French Narration with my English: Where they agree, let him insert my English: Where they differ, let him follow the French and translate it: The Reason of this is, that I allowd my Friends at Paris to make what alterations they thought proper ; and I am desirous of following exactly the Paris Edition. All my Letters must be printed verbatim, conformable to the Manuscript I send you.
My Parisian Friends are to add a Preface of their own composing, which must be translated: Add, by way of Nota bene, that the Original Letters will all be deposited in the Musæum . The Reason of this is, that Rousseau has been so audacious as to write, that I dare not publish his Letters without falsifying them .
If you think, that a Republication of the French Edition will answer the Expence, I am also willing you should do it .
Of the remaining nine Copies, send one to Lord Hertford, lower Grosvenor Street, another to Mr. Secretary Conway, another to Horace Walpole, Arlington Street , another to Lady Hervey , St. James Place. Send the remaining five to me by any private hand or by the Waggon.
Mr. Kincaid tells me, that two Years ago he sent enclosd in a Parcel of Yours a corrected Quarto Copy of my History to be deliverd to Mr. Millar. Yet Mr. Millar told me in London that he had never seen any such thing. I suppose he has forgot and will be able to find it upon Search. Try, if you can recollect and put him in mind of it .
I have receiv’d by the Post a Copy of the Paris Edition of the Pamphlet I mention’d to you. I wish it were possible not to print an Edition in London, because the whole Affair will appear perfectly ridiculous to the English: But as I am afraid this is impossible, I believe it is better for me to take care, that a true Edition be printed. I committ that matter to your Care.
Contrary to my former Directions, I now desire you not to follow the Paris Edition in my Narrative; but exactly the English Copy which I sent you in Manuscript . There is only one Passage, where I desire a Sentence to be inserted: It is a little before the Copy of the King of Prussia's letter to Rousseau . I there say, ‘But I little expected, at the Distance of 150 Miles and employing myself constantly in his Service, to be the Victim of his Rage and Malevolence.’ Add, ‘An Incident happened about this time, which set this Disposition of M. Rousseau in a full Light. There had been a feigned Letter of the King of Prussias,’ etc.
There is a very material Note, ommitted by the Editors of the Paris Edition, which I desire you to insert. I send you a Copy of it, with Directions for inserting it . I suppose all along, that you have receivd the Paris Edition by this time: Otherwise I woud have sent it you.
4 of Nov., 1766.
P.S.—I need not tell you that Rousseau's long Letter to me is to be translated from the Paris Edition with all the Notes. The other Letters may be translated indifferently either from that Edition or from my Manuscript.
I had a Letter from Mr. Millar, complaining of my giving to any other besides him the Publication of my Account of this ridiculous Affair, between Rousseau and me . I am certainly in the wrong, not to have conjoind him, if I coud have imagind, that he woud have thought it worthy of his Attention. I wish you may find it worth while; but I fancy 500 Copies will be more than sufficient to gratify the Curiosity of the Public . It is necessity, not choice, that forces me on this Publication.
If it be not too late, add the following short Note to Page 59 of the Paris Edition, at these words: Des ce moment les imprimés ne parlerent plus de moi que d’une maniere equivoque ou malhonnete. So then, I find I am to answer for every Article of every Magazine and Newspaper printed in England: I assure Mr. Rousseau I woud rather answer for every Robbery committed on the high way; and Iam entirely as innocent of the one as the other. If you have already printed the Page to which this Note refers, print the Note apart, as an Ommission or Erratum . I doubt not but you have already got the Paris Edition otherwise I coud send it you.
As I have not heard from you; I suspect that you have not yet got the Paris Edition of my Pamphlet. I have therefore sent you the Manuscript of Rousseau's long Letter with all the Notes such as I wish them to be printed; excepting the Note which I sent you in a Paper apart, and which must be inserted. Mr. Rousseau's Notes must be printed in Italics to distinguish them from mine ; and you must advertise the Reader of this Precaution, in order to prevent Confusion. Even tho’ you shoud have got the Paris Edition rather follow the Manuscript, if it be not too late. The Paris Editors have added a Preface and a Declaration of M. d’Alembert , and a Latin Motto at the End. You must not publish the Pamphlet without these. If you have not got that Edition I shall send it you; tho’ I wish you coud rather get it in London.
13 Nov., 1766.
Nothing coud more surprize me, Dear Strahan, than your Negligence with regard to this silly Pamphlet I sent you. You have never been at the Pains once to answer one of my Letters with regard to it; tho’ certainly I intended you a Friendship by sending it to you: You never informd me, that Becket had got over a Copy from Paris: You have never conveyd any of my Directions to the English Translator; but the greatest Enormity of all, and what covers me with Shame and Confusion, is your printing the Name of two Ladies, who had expressly forbid it; and that under Pretence, that the same Reason did not hold for concealing them in London as in Paris: As if it were impossible, that any Piece of Intelligence coud pass from the one Place to the other. How your Compositor came so much as to know the Name of Mde de Boufflers I cannot so much as imagine: He has surely read it thro my Razure and so has inserted it. What do you think of that Practice? I have scarce met with anything that has given me more Displeasure
25 of Nov., 1766.
[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 occupations 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, and commonly between 10 and 3: It is in little Warwick Street : You’ll do me a Pleasure in allowing me at any time half an hour's Conversation with you.
Friday, Forenoon .
[Spring of 1767.]
I spoke to Lord Hertford on Sunday Evening: I know not if what I said woud have any Influence; but he seemd to think, that the Determination of that Question woud depend on the Lords who had been active in conducting the Affair, viz: Marchmont , Sandes and Bautitout : I know not by what means you can have Access to them.
I send you a Volume of Olivet's Cicero at Mr. Millar's Desire, who proposes instantly to begin an Edition of my Essays in that Form, as a Forerunner to the like Edition of my History . Let us see a Sample of your English Press: I do not believe you can make such a Book; and I give you a Defiance. Pray return the Book carefully, after you have carefully survey’d it.
If Becket has a few Copies to spare of the French Edition of my Controversy with Rousseau, I shoud be glad to have three or four of them.
There was a good pleasant Paper, inserted, I believe in your Chronicle , about three months ago. It containd Rousseau's Articles of Charge against me, and then some good humourd Raillery against him and Voltaire and me . I shoud be glad to have two or three Copies of it, if you can readily find them.
I know not if Becket printed Voltaire's Letter to me , but if he did he may perhaps have two or three Copies to spare, which woud oblige me.
It was not possible for me to get an Opportunity last Night of speaking to Lord Hertford ; I shall try if I can be more fortunate this Evening; and I shall as soon as possible, give you Information: A Moment will be sufficient, as I have only to put him in Mind of his Engagements—Yours
I have been so happy as to prevail in my Applications both to Lord Hertford and to General Conway : I doubt not but Charles Townsend will be favourable to you. Pray, are you thinking of this new Dress in which you promis’d to put me? Shall I pretend to rival Cicero in Garb and Accoutrements .
Mr. Hume asks Mr. Strahan ten thousand Pardons: When Mr. Strahan was so kind to ask him to dine with him on Monday, he was already engagd several days before, but had forgot it. Meeting yesterday with the Gentleman, he put him in mind of it, and insisted that the prior Engagement was to him So that he hopes Mr. Strahan will be so good as to excuse him.
I never enjoyed myself better, nor was in better spirits, than since I came down here . I live as I please, spend my time according to my fancy, keep a plentiful table for myself and my friends , amuse myself with reading and society, and find the generality of the people disposed to respect me more on account of my having been well receiv’d in greater and more renowned places : But tho’ all this makes my time slide away easily, it is impossible for me to forget that a man who is in his 59TH Year has not many more years to live , and that it is time for him, if he has common Sense, to have done with all Ambition. My Ambition was always moderate and confind entirely to Letters ; but it has been my Misfortune to write in the Language of the most stupid and factious Barbarians in the World ; and it is long since I have renounced all desire of their Approbation, which indeed coud no longer give me either pleasure or Vanity.
As to my Notion of public Affairs, I think there are very dangerous Tempests brewing, and the Scene thickens every moment . The Government has, no doubt, great Resources, if they employ them with Prudence and Vigour and Unanimity. But have we any reason to think they will do so? The Parliament will certainly be [MS. torn.]∗∗∗ by the Populace every day next winter . If they bear it, they degrade ∗∗∗ and draw on ∗∗∗. If they punish, they will still more enrage the Faction, and give a Pretence for the Cry that Liberty is violated . Are we sure, that the popular Discontent may not reach the Army, who have a Pretence for Discontents of their own . The General in chief is a weak man, and fond of low popularity : It is true, you have a very honest Chancellor and a very courageous Chief Justice , who will be a great Ressource in difficult times. But is it certain that Lord Bute will abstain from tampering and trying some more of his pretty Experiments ? What if he take it in his head to open the Door to Pitt and his Myrmidons, who will, no doubt, chain the King for ever, and render him a mere Cypher . Our Government has become an absolute Chimera: So much Liberty is incompatible with human Society: And it will be happy, if we can escape from it, without falling into a military Government, such as Algiers or Tunis . The Matter will only be worse, if there be no shooting or hanging next Winter : This Frenzy of the people, so epidemical and so much without a Cause, admits only of one Remedy, which however is a dangerous one, and requires more vigour than has appeard in any minister of late . I have a very good Opinion of the Duke of Grafton but his Youth deprives him of Experience and still more of Authority . I dare [not ve]nture to play the Prophet, but think you are in great Danger. I see ∗ low: Have the People sense enough to see their Danger, and to withdraw from that precarious Security. If they coud see it in time, and catch the Alarm, it woud be a great Ressource to Government: But this is more than can reasonably be expected from them.
You say I am of a disponding Character: On the contrary, I am of a very sanguine Disposition. Notwithstanding my Age, I hope to see a public Bankruptcy , the total Revolt of America , the Expulsion of the English from the East Indies , the Diminution of London to less than a half , and the Restoration of the Government to the King , Nobility, and Gentry of this Realm. To adorn the Scene, I hope also that some hundreds of Patriots will make their Exit at Tyburn, and improve English Eloquence by their dying Speeches . I think, indeed, that no body of common Sense coud at present take the Road of Faction and Popularity, who woud not upon occasion have joind Catiline's Conspiracy ; and I have no better opinion of the Gentleman you call my Friend .
Pray have you seen Lord Stormont since he came home ? Did he enquire after you?
I think, if you throw off the Errata as it is printed, it will do very well. It is not long for 8 Volumes ; and they are not all Errors of the Press. You mention nothing of the small Edition of my Essays, whence I conclude it is not going forward . I am Dear Sir Yours sincerely and beg the continuation of your Friendship, tho’ it shoud be our Lot not to pass much of our time together. I wish much to see you possessd of some Farms in this Country , where there is great Unanimity at present, and a Desire to support Government .
25 of Oct., 1769.
I am extremely oblig’d to you for your account of the Debate in the house of Peers : It is very judicious and accurate and impartial, as usual. I now begin to entertain strong hopes, that the King will weather this Tempest , and that the Infamy of Calumny, Faction, Madness and Disorder will at last fall on those heads, who merit it. The Ministry are much better advis’d not to give nor even to take Provocation , than they seem to have been by the Paper of Ruffheads which you sent me last Autumn. And as every obnoxious Person is turnd out , the King's Resolution is visible to support his Ministry, and men will either acquiesce or return to the ordinary, parliamentary Arts of Opposition . I apprehend, however, that, before the Session ends, this abandon’d Faction, not to be foild without hopes, will have recourse to the violence of the Mob, in expectation of provoking the Ministry to commit some Imprudence: Their greatest Imprudence woud be remissness on that Occasion. Open Violence gives such a palpable Reason for the severe Execution of the Laws, a thing much wanted, that it ought immediately to be laid hold of, and it will have a very salutary Effect .
The part which Chatham acts, after all the Favours and Distinctions which he has receivd from the Crown, is infamous, like himself .
I send you enclos’d an answer to one of Cadells. It is open, that you may read it, as the matter concerns you, no less than him.
25 Jan., 1770.
Tho’ I have renouncd the World, I cannot forbear being rouzd with Indignation at the Audaciousness, Impudence, and Wickedness of your City Address . To punish it as it deserves woud certainly produce a Fray; but what signifies a Fray, in comparison of losing all Authority to Government. There must necessarily be a Struggle between the Mob and the Constitution; and it cannot come on at a more favourable time nor in a more favourable Cause. I wish therefore, (I cannot say I hope) that vigorous Measures will be taken; an impeachment immediately voted of the Mayor and his two Sherriffs for high Crimes and Misdeamenours, and the Habeas Corpus suspended till next meeting of Parliament . Good God! what abandon’d Madmen there are in England!
You have suspended my Chronicle on account of Sir Gilberts vacating his seat . I am of a Club here that get down News papers and Pamphlets from London regularly: So that you wont need to send me the Chronicle any more. Please only to let me know the Charge of it, together with other Articles I owe you.
I am sorry to hear that Dr. Armstrong has printed his Tragedy among his Miscellanies . It is certainly one of the worst pieces I ever saw; and totally unworthy of his other Productions. I shoud have endeavourd to dissuade him from printing it, had he been a man advisable. But I knew, that he keeps an Anger against Garrick for above twenty Years for refusing to bring it on the Stage; and he never since woud allow him to be so much as a tolerable Actor . I thought therefore it was wiser not to meddle in the Affair.
I have had a Letter from Mr. Cadell, which is very obliging: I agree to the reprinting in any form you and he please, and I believe ten volumes in large Octavo will be best. But I find, that I have been cutting a great way before the point, and that I am scarce ever likely to see an End of that detestable Edition . I really have no reason to believe seriously, that the half of it is yet sold, or that the Book has at present any sale at all worth speaking of: Such a habit you and he have got during seven Years past of deceiving me by false Intelligence, that I am determind never to believe a word either of you says on that head . For Instance you both told me when I left London, that there remaind not 700 Copies: He has since wrote me that before the meeting of Parliament he had disposd of 200 of these: In his last Letter he says, that the Sale still continues rapid. I must therefore suppose that before the month of May next, there woud not be 300 in your Warehouses, which is a little enough Number (or too little) for a Book which woud take near a twelvemonth in reprinting. But he speaks still of a distant Period for beginning the new Edition. You see, therefore, that these Stories are totally inconsistent. I need only say, that I have a Copy corrected, and I believe considerably improvd at your Service, whenever you please to call for it. I am nowise impatient to have another Edition: I only show you that I had taken my Measures, in consequence of the Intelligence conveyd to me; and I shall add, that, if the Book has really any Sale, it woud probably be the Interest of the Proprietors to run the Risque of losing some of that odious Edition rather than encumber the Market any longer with it. But of this you are the best Judges.
13 March, 1770.
22 May, 1770.
A few days ago, Lord Home 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 Interest ; 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 him : 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 Writer , 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 Subject 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 disaster . 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 Motive ; besides, I am told, that their Lawyers, particularly Lord Mansfield , 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 Cause , 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 Money
I suppose the Edition of my Essays in Twelves 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.
P.S.—Please to tell Mr. Cadel that if a Volume of the Dictionaire de Commerce comes over for me from Paris, he pay a Guinea for it, which I shall refund him.
5 June, 1770.
Even according to Mr. Cadel's present account, which I have not the least Reason to give any Credit to, you have copies enow to serve you for many Years’ Sale; and I give over all thoughts of any new Edition. Only, if such a thing shoud happen, I think it proper to inform you, that I have a Copy by me, corrected in many places, especially in the four first Volumes . This shall be sent you on demand either by myself, if alive, or by my Brother or Heirs; and I wish that no Edition be made without following it. I shall never make any more Enquiries about the Matter: I did not even make any Enquiries at this time; but receiving from Mr. Cadel some inconsistent Accounts, which he had sent me voluntarily of himself, I took Occasion to mention them to you. As he finds his Credit runs very low with me in that particular (tho’ I believe him a very honest man) he may spare himself the trouble of saying any thing farther concerning it. I wish Millar had savd the Expence of this Magnificent Quarto Edition , which can serve to no purpose but to discredit the Octavo; and make the sale, if possible, still more slow.
There is a notable Error of the Press in this last Quarto of my Essays, which confounds and perplexes the Sense; and being so easily corrected, I wish you woud give orders for that purpose. It is Vol 2. p. 395. 1. I. for useful read usual . A boy with his pen in half an hour coud go thro all the Copies. It is the very first Line of the third Appendix. I beg of you not to forget this Request. I have writ to Cadel to the same purpose. It is in the second page of Sheet E. e. e.
I have seen Lady Grant. I am told, that she and Sir Archibald hold as much amorous play and dalliance , as ever Adam and Eve did in paradise; and they make every body in love with the marryd State. It will be a curious Experiment whether his sly Flattery or her tenacious Avarice will get the better: I conjecture, that the contest is begun already. I took occasion to mention to her Sir Archibald's extensive and noble Plantations but she told me, that she thought that Planting was his Folly, and that people ought to take care, lest their concern for Posterity shoud hurt themselves . Thus she will check the poor man in the only laudable thing he has ever done .
I wish you woud be so good as to send me an account of the Debt I owe you, which, tho’ it be but a trifle, I coud wish to pay .
The Madness and wickedness of the English (for do not say, the Scum of London) appear astonishing, even after all the Experience we have had. It must end fatally either to the King or Constitution or to both .
You say nothing to me of the new Edition of my Essays in 12°, and of my desire to have six copies of it whenever it is finishd. Perhaps, you have stopd short in that work, and I think you much in the right in so doing.
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 Hamilton , 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 printed , 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 printed . 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.
21 June, 1770.
I believe this is the historical Age and this the historical Nation : I know no less than eight Histories upon the Stocks in this Country; all which have different Degrees of Merit, from the Life of Christ, the most sublime of the whole, as I presume from the Subject, to Dr. Robertson's American History, which lies in the other Extremity .
You will very soon be visited by one, who carries with him a Work, that has really Merit: It is Dr. Henry, the Author of the History of England, writ on a new Plan : He has given to the World a Sheet or two, containing his Idea , which he will probably communicate to you. I have perus’d all his Work, and have a very good Opinion of it. It contains a great deal of Good Sense and Learning, convey’d in a perspicuous, natural, and correct Expression. The only discouraging Circumstance is its Size: This Specimen contains two Quartos, and yet gives us only the History of Great Britain from the Invasion of Julius Cæsar to that of the Saxons: One is apt to think that the whole, spun out to the same Length, must contain at least a hundred Volumes: And unhappily, the beginning of the Work will be for a long time very uninteresting, which may not prepossess the World in its favour. The Performance however has very considerable Merit; and I coud wish that you and Mr. Cadel may usher it in to the Public . I wish that Dr. Robertson's Success may not have renderd the Author too sanguine in his pecuniary Expectations : I dare advise nothing on that head, of which you are the better Judge. I shoud only think, that some Plan, which woud reserve to the Author the Chance of profiting by his good Success and yet not expose the Booksellers to too much hazard, might be the most suitable. You know, that I have been always very reservd in my Recommendations; and that when an Author, tho much connected with me, has producd a Work, which I coud not entirely approve of, I rather pretended total Ignorance of the Matter, than abuse my Credit with you. Dr. Henry is not personally much known to me, as he has been but lately settled in this Town, but I cannot refuse doing Justice to his Work: He has likewise personally a very good Character in the World, which renders it so far safe to have dealings with him . For the same Reason, I wish for his Sake that he may conclude with you . You see I am a good Casuist, and can distinguish Cases very nicely. It is certainly a wrong thing to deceive any body, much more a Friend; but yet the Difference must still be allowd infinite between deceiving a man for his Good and for his Injury .
This Letter will be deliverd to you by Dr. Henry, concerning whom and whose work, I have wrote you by the Post: I have rather chosen that Method of conveying my Sentiments than by a Letter of Recommendation, which are often understood to be formal things and carry less weight with them. You will there see, that my Esteem of Dr. Henry and his Performance are very sincere and cordial.
10 of August, 1770.
Mr. Hume's Compliments to Mr. Strahan. Wishes him a good New Year: He has receivd the six Copies of his philosophical Pieces , for which he thanks him: They are very elegantly printed, and correctly, tho’ there are some few unavoidable Errors. He has sent him an Errata, which he desires Mr. Strahan to annex if not inconvenient.
5 of Jan, 1771.
I am very glad to have heard from you, and have sent you my Letter to Lord Hertford under a flying Seal . I wish you good Success in your Project; tho’ I cannot easily imagine how an Estate on the Ohio can ever turn to great Account. The Navigation down the Mississipi is indeed expeditious and safe, except at the Mouth; but the return is commonly so slow, by the violence of the Current, that the Communication of that Country with the rest of the World, will always be under great Obstructions, and be carry’d on under considerable Disadvantages. But these Matters you have undoubtedly weighd and calculated, from better Information than I have had access to .
There was an Error in the page in the Errata I sent you, which I have corrected and I return you the Copy. I own, that this quick Sale of my philosophical Writings is as unexpected as the slow Sale of my historical, which are so much better calculated for common Readers . But this proves only, that factious prejudices are more prevalent in England than religious ones. I shall read over several times this new Edition; and send you a corrected Copy by some safe hand. With regard to the History, I only desire to hear from you three or four Months before you put it to the Press.
Dr. Henry's History is undoubtedly liable to the Objection you mention. It will be of enormous Size; and he himself, tho’ a laborious Man, never expects to finish it. I think also the Price he demanded exorbitant . It is however writ with Perspicuity and Propriety of Style, as I told you; but neither sprightly nor elegant ; and it is judicious, but not curious: There is danger of its appearing prolix to ordinary Readers: The Subject of his next Volume will be still more uninteresting than that of his first .
I am totally detachd from all concern about public Affairs; and care not though all the Ministry were at the Devil . This Spanish War is so enormously absurd, unjust, and unreasonable that I think it never had its parralel. If we be savd from it, it will not be owing to our own prudence, but to the determind Resolution of the King of France , who acts a very laudable part: But his Brother of Spain is as freakish and as obstinate as a Mule ; and our Ministry are more afraid of the despicable London Mob than of all Europe : Had they punishd that insolent Rascal, Beckford , as he deserved; we shoud have been in no danger of a Spanish War ; or rather of a general War: For Hostilities never continue limited between two Nations; but soon draw in all their Neighbours: In which case, France begins with declaring a public Bankruptcy and we make it the third Year of the War. An Event which is indeed inevitable ; but might have been delay’d, had it not been for this Quarrel about Falkland Island. You think we shall have peace: I am glad to hear it; but cannot allow myself to think, that any Chance will save Men so infatuated as our Ministry . It is a pleasure however that the Wilkites and the Bill of Rights-men are fallen into total and deservd Contempt . Their Noise is more troublesome and odious than all the Cannon that will be fird on the Atlantic.
I am here employ’d in building a small House : I mean a large House for an Author: For it is nearly as large as Mr. Millar's in Pall-mall . It is situated in our new Square ; where I hope to receive you, on your first Excursion to this Country. I beg my Compliments to Sir John Pringle : I think you are not likely to send us any thing worth reading this Winter.
21 of Jan., 1771.
You will have a Copy of my philosophical Pieces corrected in a few weeks by a safe hand, who will deliver them to Miss Elliot . She will inform you by a Penny post Letter of their Arrival. I have perusd them carefully five times over; yet the Corrections I make are not of Importance. Such is the Advantage of frequent Impressions!
It vexes me to the last Degree, that, by reason of this detested Edition of my History, I shoud have so distant or no prospect of ever giving a correct Edition of that Work . I assure you, if Mr. Millar were now alive, I shoud be tempted to go over to Dublin , and to publish there an Edition, which I hope woud entirely discredit the present one. But as you are entirely innocent in the Conduct of this Affair, I scruple to take that Resolution. The worst of it is, that Affairs have been so manag’d as to leave me in entire Ignorance of the State of the Sale; tho’ I am now confident, that, as you see evidently I am resolv’d never to engage again with the public, you will no longer have any Scruple to tell me the whole Truth of the Matter.
But to leave this Subject, which is so very vexatious, and to talk of public affairs; I am much inclind to have the same good opinion of Lord North, which you express : His taking the Helm in such a Storm , and conducting it so prudently, prepossesses one much in his favour: I am also assurd, that he was the last in the Ministry who woud give up the Resolution of punishing that insolent Fellow, Beckford and the City of London . But to me, his Conduct of the Spanish Affair appears rash, insolent and unjust. The publication of the Spanish Papers confirms me farther in that Opinion. It appears, that the Spaniards had never abandond the Settlement, made by the French, which was prior to ours ; and consequently that their right was in every respect undisputable. And as the Court of Spain offerd from the first to disavow the Governor of Buenos Ayros , if we woud disavow Hunt , to run the Danger of a War which woud have thrown all Europe, and almost the whole Globe into a Ferment, must be regarded as an unpardonable Temerity. We were savd from that Disaster by nothing but the extreme Love of Tranquillity in the French King , an Incident which no Human Prudence coud forsee. But what must we think of the Effrontery of the Patriots, who rail at Lord North for Tameness and Pusillanimity? They did not probably know the secret, otherwise they woud have exclaimd with better Reason against his Rashness and Imprudence.
I wish I coud have the same Idea with you of the Prosperity of our public Affairs. But when I reflect, that, from 1740 to 1761, during the Course of no more than 21 Years, while a most pacific Monarch sat on the Throne of France , the Nation ran in Debt about a hundred Millions ; that the wise and virtuous Minister, Pitt, could contract more Incumbrances, in six months of an unnecessary War, than we have been able to discharge during eight Years of Peace ; and that we persevere in the same frantic Maxims; I can forsee nothing but certain and speedy Ruin either to the Nation or to the public Creditors . The last, tho’ a great Calamity, woud be a small one in comparison; but I cannot see how it can be brought about, while these Creditors fill all the chief Offices and are the Men of greatest Authority in the Nation . In other Respects the Kingdom may be thriving: The Improvement of our Agriculture is a good Circumstance; tho’ I believe our Manufactures do not advance; and all depends on our Union with America, which, in the Nature of things, cannot long subsist . But all this is nothing in comparison of the continual Encrease of our Debts, in every idle War, into which, it seems, the Mob of London are to push every Minister. But these are all other Peoples Concerns; and I know not why I shoud trouble my head about them.
I maintaind and still maintain that Henry's History has merit ; tho’ I own’d and still own, that the Length of the Undertaking is a great Objection to its Success; perhaps an insuperable one. But what shall we say to Sir John Dalrymple's new History , of which, I see, you are one of the publishers? He has writ down that he has been offerd 2000 pounds for the Property of it: I hope you are not the Purchasers; tho’ indeed I know not but you might be a Gainer by it: The ranting, bouncing Style of that Performance may perhaps take with the Multitude . This however I am certain of, that there is not one new Circumstance of the least Importance from the beginning to the End of the Work . But really I doubt much of his Veracity in his Account of the Offer: I shoud be much obligd to you for your Information on that head. Never let the Bargain made by Dr. Robertson be thought extravagant , if this be true. I shoud add a great Number of Cyphers to bring up the Knight's Performance to an equal Value with that of the Doctor.
I very much regret with you Sir Andrew Mitchels Death : He was a worthy, well-bred, agreeable man. If the Prince, at whose Court he resided, us’d him ill of late Years, he richly deserves the Epithet you give him . Sir Andrew's chief Fault was his too great Attatchment to that prince.
11 of March, 1771.
This will be deliver’d to you, along with a corrected Copy of my philosophical Pieces by Dr. Robertson. I remind you to send me six Copies, as usual. This is the last time I shall probably take the pains of correcting that work, which is now brought to as great a degree of accuracy as I can attain; and is probably much more labour’d (I know not with what degree of success) than any other production in our Language . This power, which Printing gives us, of continually improving and correcting our Works in successive Editions, appears to me the Chief Advantage of that Art. For as to the dispersing of Books, that Circumstance does perhaps as much harm as good : Since Nonsense flies with greater Celerity, and makes greater Impression than Reason; though indeed no particular Species of Nonsense is so durable. But the several Forms of Nonsense never cease succeeding one another; and Men are always under the Dominion of some one or other , though nothing was ever equal in Absurdity and Wickedness to our present Patriotism .
I long much for an Opportunity of bringing my History to the same degree of Accuracy. Since I was settled here, I have, from time, given Attention to that Object; though the Distance and Uncertainty of the new Edition threw a damp on my Industry: But I shall now apply seriously to the Task; and you may expect the Copy about August . I beseech you do not make this Edition too numerous, like the last. I have heard you frequently say, that no Bookseller woud find profit in making an Edition which woud take more than three Years in selling. Look back, therefore, and learn from Mr. Millar's Books what has been the Sale for the last six Years; and if you make the usual Allowance for a Diminution during the ensuing three, from the Number of Copies already sold, I am persuaded you will find 1500, a number large enough, if not too large : Be not over-sanguine. An Error on the one hand is more easily corrected than one on the other. I am perhaps the only Author you ever knew, who gratutiously (sic) employ’d great Industry in correcting a Work, of which he has fully alienated the Property; and it were hard to deny me an Opportunity of exercising my Talents; especially as this practice turns so much to the Advantage of the Bookseller.
I have another Proposal to make you in the same View. I have found by Experience that nothing excites an Author's Attention so much as the receiving the Proofs from the Press, as the Sheets are gradually thrown off. Now I have had an Opportunity of passing the last four Volumes of my History more than once through this Scrutiny, the most severe of any: The first four Volumes have only been once reviewd by me in this manner. I shall send you the whole Copy about the time above mention’d, and the last four Volumes you may throw off at your Leizure: But the Sheets of the first four, I shoud wish to receive by the Post five times a week. They will make about 250 Sheet and might be finishd in thirty weeks . For this Purpose I shall apply to Mr. Fraser, my former Collegue in the Secretary's Office, who will supply you with Franks, and such as are not confind to the usual Weight of two Ounces . The corrected Copies I shall send under his Cover; and you will only have to send for them to the Secretary's Office, the same as if I were in London. Mr. Fraser is as regular as an astronomical Clock, and will never dissappoint you. I am almost as regular; and you may give Orders to your People to be the same.
This Affair, therefore, being, I presume, settled to mutual Satisfaction, I come to give you thanks for the Perusal of Mr. Johnson's Pamphlet , which is a good one, and very diverting from the Peculiarity and Enormity of the Style . One sees he speaks from the Heart, and is movd with a cordial Indignation against these Ruffians. There is, however, one material Circumstance, which either he did not know, or did not think fit to mention; namely, that the French had regularly settled Falkland Island full three Years before us, and upon Remonstrances from the Court of Madrid, gave up their Right and Colony to the Spaniards, who never had abandond that Settlement . Their Right, therefore, was prior and preferable to ours. For as to our ridiculous Right from the first Discovery [sic], allowing the Facts to be true; will any one say, that a Sailor's seeing a Montain from the Top mast head , conveys a Title to a whole Territory, and a Title so durable, that even tho’ it be neglected for two Centuries, it still remains with the Nation. Our Ministry, therefore, have acted a Part most unjust, most insolent, and most imprudent; and which the Spaniards will deservedly remember long against us. But this Conduct proceeds entirely from the Timidity of our Ministry, who dread more the contemptible Populace of London than the whole House of Bourbon. I am curious to see how they will get out of the present Scrape ; though their past Measures prognosticate nothing good for the future. I say still, had they punishd Beckford , disfranchisd the City , and restord the Negative to the Court of Aldermen , they woud have prevented the present and many future Frays: But still it is not too late; though it may very soon become so.
When I blame the Insolence of our Ministry with regard to Spain, I must at the same time confess, that we do right to swagger and bounce and bully on the present Occasion: For we have not many Years to do so, before we fall into total Impotence and Languor . You see, that a much greater and more illustrious People, namely the French , seem to be totally annihilated in the midst of Europe ; and we, instead of regarding this Event as a great Calamity, are such Fools as to rejoice at it . We see not that the same Catastrophe or a much worse one is awaiting us at no distant Period. The monarchical Government of France (which must be replac’d ) will enable them to throw off their Debts ; ours must for ever hang on our Shoulders, and weigh us down like a Mill-stone .
I think that Mr Johnson is a great deal too favourable to Pitt, in comparing him to Cardinal Richelieu . The Cardinal had certainly great Talents besides his Audacity: The other is totally destitute of Literature, Sense, or the Knowledge of any one Branch of public Business. What other Talent indeed has he, but that of reciting with tolerable Action and great Impudence a long Discourse in which there is neither Argument, Order, Instruction, Propriety or even Grammar . Not to mention, that the Cardinal, with his inveterate Enmities , was also capable of Friendship: While our Cut-throat never felt either the one Sentiment or the other . The Event of both Administrations was suitable. France made a Figure during near a Century and a half upon the Foundations laid by the one : England—as above; if I be not much mistaken, as I wish to be .
I was pretty sure that Sir John Dalrymple was an Historian , with regard to the Price offerd him for his Book. So then, his Pride is interested in being esteem’d as good a Writer as Dr. Robertson! I am diverted with conjecturing what will be the Fate of this strange Book: Will it run a few Years? Or fall at once dead born from the Press ? I think the last Event more probable, notwithstanding the Precedent of Mrs. Macaulay , and notwithstanding the Antitheses and Rant and Whiggery of which it is full. After you have offerd him 750 pounds, my Pride, in case I shoud write another Volume, woud make me demand the Equivalent of a parliamentary Subsidy ; I think without Vanity, my Book will at least be equal in Value to Falkland Island .
But I have writ you a Letter as long as an Essay; and for fear of making it a Treatise, I shall conclude by telling you, that I am with great Sincerity
David Hume .
25 of March, 1771.
25 of June, 1771.
I have receivd both your favours, for which I am oblig’d to you. I shall be able to send off by the Waggon, in less than a Month, a corrected Copy of my History; and shall write you at the time, that you may send for it, if it be not immediatly sent to you. It gives me a sensible pleasure, that I shall now have an Edition of that work, corrected nearly to my mind . I have taken incredible pains on this Edition. It puts me in mind of a saying of Rousseau's, that one half of a man's life is too little to write a Book and the other half to correct it . Most of my Corrections fall upon the Style; tho’ there are also several Additions and Amendments in the Subject and in the facts .
I have got about a hundred Franks directed to you; and we shall proceed in the manner you desire. I think, however, it will not be amiss to have some of Mr. Fraser's, for large Parcels; and for this purpose you may send him the enclos’d, with twenty Covers, which he will not grudge to frank to you . The rest you may get from your Acquaintance or mine, Lord Beauchamp , Mr. Wedderburn , Mr. Pulteney , Mr. Adam , Mr. Stewart of Buckingham Street &c., informing them by a short Note of the reason of your applying to them.
I return you Warburton's Letter , which diverted me. He and all his gang, the most scurrillous, arrogant, and impudent Fellows in the world, have been abusing me in their usual Style these twenty Years, and here at last he pretends to speak well of me. It is the only thing from them, that coud ever give me any mortification. We have all heard of the several Schools of Painters and their peculiar manners. It is petulance, and Insolence and abuse, that distinguish the Warburtonian School, even above all other Parsons and Theologians . Johnson is abusive in Company, but falls much short of them in his writings . I remember Lord Mansfield said to me that Warburton was a very opposite man in company to what he is in his Books; then, replyd I, he must be the most agreeable Companion in Europe, for surely he is the most odious Writer .
22 of july, 1771.
On Saturday last, the 20th of the Month, I deliverd to the Newcastle Waggon 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 found , 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 Aylesbury 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 Inverara . 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 Volumes . Each four of the Quarto must therefore be divided into five , and you may cast them accordingly. I woud have you mind nothing but to finish the Chapter with each Volume, without forgetting the Index . 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 Post . 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 lives . But I have now done with mine for ever, and never shall any more review them, except in a cursory manner . I expect for my pains six Copies, over and above the six that are due me by Agreement . 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 you . 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 Year . As soon as the new Edition of my philosophical Pieces is printed , 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 have now the Prospect of being settled, so as to be able to attend the Correction of the Proof Sheets. If you can, therefore, contrive to send me one which will arrive on Saturday Sennight the 31 of August, you shall have it returnd by Course of Post; and I shall never after fail to return one every post, which will be five times a week. I am oblig’d to you for humouring me in this particular.
I have receiv’d a Present of a new Book, from the Author, The Principles of penal Law . The Direction of it seems to be writ in your hand; and Cadel is one of the Publishers. If the Author does not propose to keep his Name a Secret, I shoud be glad to know it: For the Book is very ingenious and judicious. In all cases, if you know the Author, make him my Compliments and give him my Thanks. I did not imagine, however, that so ingenious a Man woud in this age have had so much weak Superstition, as appears in many passages . But these perhaps were inserted only from Decency and Prudence: And so the World goes on, in perpetually deceiving themselves and one another .
I am always oblig’d to you for your political Speculations: But I cannot agree with you, that, if matters came to a fair and open Strugle between the Land-holders and the Stock-holders, the latter woud be able to reduce the former to any Composition . The Authority of the Land-holders is solidly establishd over their Tenants and Neighbours: But what Stock-holder has any Influence even over his next Neighbour in his own Street? And if public Credit fall, as it must by the least Touch , he woud be reduc’d to instant Poverty, and have authority no-where. My only apprehensions are, with regard to the public, that this open Struggle will never happen, and that these two Orders of Men are so involvd with each other by Connexions and Interest, that the public Force will be allowd to go to total Decay, before the violent Remedy, which is the only one, will be ventur’d on . But this Event will depend much on Accidents of Men and times; and the Decision will not probably be very distant: The first War will put the Matter to a tryal, I fancy about the third or fourth Year of it, if we exert ourselves with our usual Frenzy . You may judge, from our late Treatment of the House of Bourbon, whether we can regard the present Peace as very durable.
19th of Augst., 1771 .
23 Augst., 1771
I own, that I am, at this time, very much out of humour, and with you. Near two Years ago, I wrote to Lady Aylesbury , that I had orderd a new Edition of my History and Essays to be sent her: You wrote to me, that they were sent; but she tells me, that she never receiv’d them, and was continually in expectation of them. By what Accident this has happen’d, appears to me totally unaccountable; and the more so, as I know, that a Copy which I desird to be sent to Lord Hertford came safe to hand. I beseech you to send a Copy immediatly to Mr. Conway in little Warwick Street Charing Cross, and to enquire how the former Mistake happend: For I am certain, that it proceeded not from your Fault, notwithstanding the ill-humour with which I begun my Letter. But I desird, at that time, that a Copy shoud also be sent to Lady Holderness ; and I am also suspicious that this Copy has miscarryd by the same Accident; and the more so, as she never wrote me that she had receivd it, which she woud naturally have done. If you be not sure, that this Copy has been deliverd, please to inform me, that I may enquire; or rather, send a new Copy, relating the former Accident, and desiring that this Copy be returnd, in case the former Copy was deliver’d. I shall be in Town at the time which I appointed, and ready to receive the Proof Sheets.
(Written below in another hand) Decr. 6th, 1769 .
I write you in a great hurry; and can only tell you, that I like the Paper and Type very much, only I think that this Size of Type woud have suited better a Duodecimo than a large Octavo: However it will do very well.
I see the Cause of the Mistake with regard to Lady Aylesbury's Copy. Some body by Mistake has substituted Dr. Hunter in her place: But I never thought of making the Doctor a present, tho I have a great regard for him. Let Lady Aylesbury's Copy therefore be sent to her at Little Warwick Street Charing Cross.
I return the Sheet corrected; and am very sorry, that you cannot promise me to be regular: I dedicate my time entirely to it, and coud wish to have a Sheet regularly every post.
I find that any other Frank except Mr. Frasers will not suffice, both for the Proof Sheet and the Sheet of the Quarto; especially, if you return the corrected Sheet , which I wish, though it be not absolutely necessary.
4 of Septr., 1771.
18 of Septr., 1771.
I thank you for your Corrections, which are very judicious; and you see that I follow them for the greatest part. I shall be obligd to you for continuing them as far as your Leizure will permit. For tho’ I know, that a man might spend his whole Life in correcting one small Volume , and yet have inaccuracies in it, I think however that the fewer the better, and it is a great Amusement to me to pick them out gradually in every Edition.
I had a Letter lately from a Bookseller in Lausanne, who tells me, that he intends to publish a Translation of some of my philosophical Pieces; and desires to know the best Edition. If the last in large Octavo be finishd, I shoud point it out to him; and shoud likewise be willing to send him a Copy of it, if any of our Booksellers have any Communication with Geneva or Lausanne. I shoud be glad to learn from you what answer I can make him.
P.S.—I wish you coud come up to our Agreement of a Sheet every post .
Your remarks are always very judicious and just; and I am much obligd to you. You see I have adopted all of them this sheet. Dr. Franklin left me a few days ago for the west; but I expect him again in a few days .
12 of Novr. .
I have writ this Post to Fraser , whose Conduct has very much dissappointed me. But if he delays a moment, we can easily do without him. You need only send me the Proof Sheet under any Frank , Dr. Franklin's or Mr. Pulteneys or Mr. Wedderburn's or Lord Beauchamps or Mr. Conway's (Who I hope, by the bye, has receivd the Copy of my History). The other Sheets, are in a great measure superfluous: Especially as I have a Copy of the Edition, from which this is taken.
I am glad to find, that the abominable Faction in England is declining . The People never tire of Folly, but they tire of the same Folly : And if their Leaders fall into the Contempt they deserve, it will be very great indeed. I hope that Pitt will have the Gout this whole Session and I pray it may be a hearty and sincere one .
I do not think, that you will be able to publish this Season; unless the printing of the four last Volumes be well advancd. But as I have at last been able to get one correct Edition of that work, I am more indifferent. I am sensible, it is an idle Amusement; but still it is an Amusement to think that Posterity will do me more Justice than the present Age , whose Suffrage indeed coud not have given me great Vanity.
I wish you saw (as I hope you will) my new House and Situation in St Andrews Square : You woud not wonder that I have abjurd London for ever.
I am Dear Sir Yours sincerely
2d Jany., 1772.
P.S.—Lord Lyttleton has been so good as to send me the two last Volumes of his Henry II . It woud flatter his Lordship to say that it is truly a Christian Performance .
I have called on Dr. Millar and he on me; but have never met with him, because tho’ this place be not large , I live in a manner out of Town, and am very seldom in it . My Sister also has been dangerously ill of late, which has kept me more out of Company. But I am told by a Friend, that Dr. Millar said to him, there was a Bookseller in London, who had advertisd a new Book, containing, among other things, two of my suppress’d Essays. These I suppose are two Essays of mine, one on Suicide another on the Immortality of the Soul, which were printed by Andrew Millar about seventeen Years ago, and which from my abundant Prudence I suppress’d and woud not now wish to have revivd. I know not if you were acquainted with this Transaction. It was this: I intended to print four Dissertations, the natural History of Religion, on the Passions, on Tragedy, and on the metaphisical Principles of Geometry. I sent them up to Mr. Millar; but before the last was printed, I happend to meet with Lord Stanhope , who was in this Country, and he convincd me, that either there was some Defect in the Argument or in its perspicuity; I forget which; and I wrote to Mr. Millar, that I woud not print that Essay ; but upon his remonstrating that the other Essays woud not make a Volume, I sent him up these two, which I had never intended to have publishd. They were printed; but it was no sooner done than I repented; and Mr. Millar and I agreed to suppress them at common Charges, and I wrote a new Essay on the Standard of Taste, to supply their place. Mr. Millar assurd me very earnestly that all the Copies were suppress’d, except one which he sent to Sir Andrew Mitchel , in whose Custody I thought it safe. But I have since found that there either was some Infidelity or Negligence in the case; For on Mr. Morehead's Death , there was found a Copy, which his Nephew deliverd up to me. But there have other Copies got abroad; and from one of these, some rascally Bookseller is, it seems, printing this Edition . I am not extremely alarmd at this Event, but if threatening him woud prevent it, I woud willingly employ that means. I am afraid all will be in vain; but if you know him, be as good as try what can be done; and also learn from what hand he had the Copy. I believe an Injunction in Chancery might be got against him; but then I must acknowledge myself the Author and this Expedient woud make a Noise and render the Affair more public. In a post or two, I may perhaps get you more particular Intelligence of the Booksellers Name.
I am extremely obligd to you for the Pains you take about correcting my Sheets; and you see that I almost always profit by it.
Jany. 25, 1772.
7 of Feby., 1772.
I suppress’d these Essays, not because they coud give any Offence, but because, I thought, they coud neither give Pleasure nor Instruction: They were indeed bad Imitations of the agreeable Triffling of Addison . But if any one think otherwise, and chuse to preserve them, I have no Objection.
Pray, recollect: Did not I send you up a Passage to be inserted in the Reign of Henry VIII, and which I desird you to pin upon the Leaf of the Volume? It ought to have been printed in the last Sheet, and is now too late: But it may be added as a Note. Or. is the whole an Illusion of mine, founded on my intending to send it you. The Passage contains a short Extract from an Act of Parliament, concerning the Marriage of the King with Jane Seymour, whom the Parliament recommends to him as a Piece of pure Flesh and Blood, very proper to bring him Heirs . If you have not this Passage, I shall send you another Copy of it.
The Sheet you mention I deliverd with my own Hands on Friday the 31 of Jany to John Balfour , who promis’d to send it with his own Letters to the Post house. It is by his unpardonable Negligence it is lost. I shall rate him about it; but if you do not receive it this post or the next, you will be so good as send me another copy which I shall not entrust to him in returning it.
Feby. 11, 1772.
P.S.—I am very well pleas’d that the Sheet is found; and also, that I did not know it, till I had writ a very scolding Letter to John Balfour for his losing it.
22 of Feby., 1772.
As we are drawing near a Conclusion , I cannot forbear giving you many and hearty thanks, both for your submitting to so troublesome a Method of printing and for the many useful Corrections you have sent me. I suppose, since the days of Aldus , Reuchlin , and Stevens , there have been no Printers who could have been useful to their Authors in this particular. I shall scarcely ever think of correcting any more; tho’ I own that the receiving of the Sheets regularly by the post has been an Amusement and Occupation to me, which I shall have a Difficulty to supply. I fancy I must take to some kind of Composition in its place.
Pray, have you gone any length in printing the other Volumes, or are you now to begin. In this case, you can scarcely publish this Season. But as you have probably a very large fount of this Type, I hope you are pretty well advancd. I need not put you in mind of sending me a dozen Copies of the History, and half a dozen of the philosophical Pieces.
Your Encomium on the Princess Dowager is elegantly written, and contains a very proper and spirited Reprehension of the scurrillous and scoundrel Patriots who had so long abus’d her . I wonder what they will now do for a Pretence to their Sedition.
I have lately heard a Story, extremely to the King's Advantage; which I shoud be glad to find confirmd. I am told, that this parliamentary Enquiry into the Proceedings of the East India Company did not originally proceed from the Ministry, but from the King himself, who was shockd with the Accounts he receivd of the Oppressions exercisd over the poor Natives, and demanded a Remedy . I wish it may be possible to provide any, that will be durable. I trust much in the Integrity of Andrew Stuart (who, they say, will certainly be one of the Supervisors ) for the carrying of such a Plan into Execution.
I hear also that there is an Intention of appointing Professor Ferguson Secretary to the Commission. Surely there is not a man of greater Worth in the World . If you have a Vote or Interest, I beseech you, employ it all in his favour, as well for his Advantage as for that of Humanity.
The approbation of those whose praise is real fame is, in the very nature of the thing, extremely desireable. Judge then how very acceptable your last kind letter was to me; in which you acknowledge my small merits in a very generous and good-natured way, and much above what they have any title to.... The reading a sheet of your History every day with care and precision, though I at first imposed it upon myself as a task, soon became a most agreeable amusement....
You say the correcting the sheets has been an amusement to yourself, and an occupation which you will now find a difficulty to supply. This I can easily believe. And here let me make one observation, which I dare say has frequently occurred to yourself, because it is founded on experience and a knowledge of the human mind.—To render life tolerable, and to make it glide away with some degree of satisfaction, it is necessary that a small part at least of almost every day be employed in some species of real or imaginary business. To pass our whole time in amusement and dissipation leaves a depression upon the spirits infinitely less bearable than perhaps the hardest labour . The sentence of, In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, pronounced against Adam after his fall, as a punishment, is an apparent mistake, which I am not scholar enough to rectify, but which I hope will not escape future commentators .—My application of this doctrine you will easily guess, which is no other than to add this to the other motives I have formerly taken the liberty to urge, to persuade you to the continuation of your History; in which, if you will make some progress, however trifling, every day, I will venture to say you will find your immediate account in it, in point of ease and cheerfulness and general flow of spirits. Fame which in some sense may be considered as a future reward, I will not mention. The various and complicated miseries to which mankind are subjected, the loss of those who are deservedly dear to us, the precariousness of our own existence; in short the contemplation of every thing around us, demands a constant diversion of our attention to some object or other . As far as my experience goes I have generally, if not always found happiness to dwell not with men of much leisure and retirement, but with those who had a little less time than they had employment for.—But if after all I can’t persuade you to betake yourself to this kind of composition, I am sincerely sorry for it; but will not venture, by still further urging it, which I could easily do, to trespass upon your patience any longer.
The half dozen of your Philosophical Pieces shall soon be sent you; and a dozen of your History, as you desire, as soon as it is finished; which will not be for some time, having hitherto made little progress in the four last vols., as almost the whole fount, and a very large one it is, has been occupied in the four first. For to keep them going, it was necessary, not only to have the sheets constantly passing to and fro, but some composing, and some printing off, which all together engrossed a vast quantity . However, I will dispatch them as soon as I can.
I am very happy that you approve of what I said of the Pr. Dowager. It was written in a great hurry upon slips of paper just as the Chronicle was going to press. The reprehension it contains of our worthy Patriots is surely well merited.—But to show you the obstinacy of John Bull, hardly any other newspaper copied it, nor has a sentence in her favour been written in any of them by any other person . Though I am far from being of a desponding disposition, I almost begin to think, that if we go on at home vilifying and abusing all order and government, and abroad spreading famine and pestilence among those whom chance has subjected to our dominion , we shall soon become ripe for destruction.
What you have heard of the King is very true, so I have taken the hint, and inserted it, as you will see by the enclosed, in to-night's Chronicle . I have also taken occasion to do justice to the character of Mr. Stuart . What I say of him I know to be true.—And they say he certainly goes to India in that capacity. I have not heard Professor Ferguson named; nor am I acquainted with him, else I should have paid my respects to him at the same time,—and which, if you will enable me, I can with rather more propriety do upon a future occasion. For John Bull would not fail commenting upon two Scotchmen being praised at once in a paper printed by a Scotchman.—My vote and any little interest I have, you may be assured shall be employed in behalf of a gentleman so warmly recommended by you. Our operations in Bengal demand a strict and speedy scrutiny. The barbarities committed upon that unhappy people are really unexampled in the history of all civilized nations, that of the Spaniards on the discovery of America only excepted.—You see how little efficacy the purest precepts of Christianity itself have with mankind, when opposed to the Auri sacra fames .
I beg the continuance of your Friendship, which I prize above many Lacks of Rupees, and am with unalterable Esteem and Attachment,
Feby. 27, 1772.
If the Press has not got further than the 160th page of the sixth Volume, Line penult., there is a Passage which I shoud desire to have restord. It is this: The full prosecution of this noble Principle into all its natural Consequences has, at last, through many contests, produced that singular and happy Government which we enjoy at present .
I own that I was so disgusted with the Licentiousness of our odious Patriots, that I have struck out the words, and happy, in this new Edition; but as the English Government is certainly happy, though probably not calculated for Duration, by reason of its excessive Liberty, I believe it will be as well to restore them: But if that Sheet be already printed, it is not worth while to attend to the matter. I am as well pleas’d that this Instance of Spleen and Indignation shoud remain.
3 of March, 1772.
I am much oblig’d to you for your Attention in returning me the Proof Sheets: But I never doubted of your Exactness in following my Corrections which were also, in part, your own . I had unfortunately bespoke most of the Smith Work of my new house; but I still found a small Job to give Mr. Richardson, who seems to me a clever young Fellow. I remove in little more than two Months. If I find my Time lie heavy on my hands, I may, for my Amusement, undertake a reign or two after the Revolution : But I believe, in case of my composing any more, I had better write something that has no Reference to the Affairs of these factious Barbarians .
5 of March, 1772.
You will please to send this Letter to Mr. Cadel, which I have left open for your Perusal.
There is a Friend of mine, Capn Braiden, who has writ, in the form of Letters, his Travels thro Sicily and Malta : They are very curious and agreeable; and I as well as others of his Friends have advisd him to publish them; and I also advisd him, to carry them to you. If you read them I hope we shall agree in Opinion. I conjecture they may make one Volume a little less than a Volume of the Spectator .
3 of June, 1772.
3 of June, 1772.
I have receivd a Copy of the new Edition of my Essays and the four first Volumes of my History, with both which I am very well pleasd with regard to the Paper and Print. I have carefully perusd the Essays, and find them very correct, with fewer Errors of the Press, than I almost ever saw in any book; and I give you, as well as Mr. Strahan, thanks for the care that has been taken of them. The four Volumes of History passd thro’ my own hands; so that nothing needs be said of them. I fancy the other Volumes will not be finishd; so as to be publish’d this Season; but they will be ready early in the Winter .
16 of Jany., 1773.
You have been guilty of a small Indiscretion in allowing a Copy of my new Edition to go out before the Publication: For I had a Letter yesterday from Mr. Piercy , complaining tho’ in obliging terms, of the Note with regard to the old Earl of Northumberland House-hold book; as if it were a Satyre on that particular Nobleman, which was by no means my Intention: I only meant to paint the manners of the Age . I reply’d to him, that I fancy’d it was too late to correct my Expressions; for that the Work was probably in the hands of the public. I hope it is; or at least beg it may be soon. I know I have no right to demand any account of your Sales: I only entreat you to tell me precisely, as far as you can, the time of your publication; and also when you can send off the Copies for me. You told me in a former Letter that you heard I was continuing my History: I beg of you to believe that such an extravagant and absurd Idea never once enterd into my head.
30 Jany, 1773.
I find you must reprint all that Note about the Northumberland House-hold Book. The Alterations I make are very little material; but being requir’d in a very obliging manner by Dr. Piercy, and, I suppose, by the Family , I could not now refuse them, without giving them great Offence, which I wish to avoid.
I have likewise sent you one Addition to the Errata. The Passage at present is Nonsense, tho’ I find it has escap’d me in three Editions, notwithstanding it was printed right at first . Be so good as to insert it in its proper place; as I suppose the Errata is not printed.
I never, that I remember, mention’d to Capn Braidon any particular Sum which he might expect , as I receivd his Manuscript in Parcels and coud form no Estimate of its Bulk. His Journey over Mount Etna is the most curious part of it; and I wish it be not anticipated by a late German Work which is translated, but I have not read it . I recommended to Mr. Braidon to obliterate some Levities, too much in the Shandean Style , which he promis’d to do. I do hope with these Corrections, it will be thought a good readable Book and curious .
Considering the Treatment I have met with , it woud have been very silly for me at my Years to continue writing any more; and still more blameable to warp my Principles and Sentiments in conformity to the Prejudices of a stupid, factious Nation, with whom I am heartily disgusted . I wish my Continuators good Success; tho’ I believe they have sence enough not to care whether they meet with it or not. Macpherson has Style and Spirit; but is hot-headed, and consequently without Judgement . The Knight has Spirit, but no Style, and still less Judgement than the other. I shoud think Dr. Douglas , if he woud undertake it, a better hand than either. Or what think you of Andrew Stuart ? For as to any Englishman, that Nation is so sunk in Stupidity and Barbarism and Faction that you may as well think of Lapland for an Author. The best Book, that has been writ by any Englishman these thirty Years (for Dr. Franklyn is an American) is Tristram Shandy, bad as it is . A Remark which may astonish you; but which you will find true on Reflection .
I admire very much this Work of Andrew Stuart ; tho I was at first exceedingly alarmd at the Imprudence of the Attempt. I am less so, after perusing it; tho still it appears imprudent, according to the vulgar Rule of estimating these Matters.
I woud have you publish this new Edition as soon as it is ready; and rather submit to some Loss than allow the Book to be any longer discredited by that abominable Edition , which has given you and me so much Vexation, and has been one Cause why I have thrown my Pen aside for ever.
22 of Feby., 1773.
On reviewing your last Letter and recollecting my Answer to it, I am afraid some mistake might arise between us. No doubt, any body, either from their own Inclination or from your Application, may undertake to write any part of English History they please; and I can have no Objection to it: But that this Work should be publishd as a Continuation of mine, I see liable to considerable Objections; and it is necessary for me to deliberate well upon it. If it be either much better or much worse than mine, it might be improper, for my own credit, to consent to it; and as long as both the Performance and the Author are unknown to me, I cannot without farther deliberation go so far. I beg, therefore, that this Matter may be fully understood between us, and that nothing I have said may be interpreted as my Approbation of a Scheme, which is totally unknown to me.
I desire much to ask you a Question, which, if the Matter depended solely on you, I know you coud answer me in a moment. But as it is, you can easily, by consulting your Partners, be able to give me Satisfaction in it. In short, I wish to know precisely, whether you intend to publish the new Edition this Season or the Season after, or any subsequent Season. It is needless to say any thing about the Index which coud have been ready long ago. I beg it of you, I even conjure you, to give me at last some Answer which I can depend on. I promise you, that this is the last time I shall write to you on the Subject.
I am Dear Sir
15 of March, 1773.
The Number of Copies of my History, which I desir’d to have, was twelve. I agreed with Mr. Millar verbally to reserve six on every new Edition; but as I had taken uncommon Pains on this Edition, I proposd twelve, which you very frankly agreed to : I desire one copy to be sent to Lord Beauchamp with my Compliments, and the rest to be shipt off to this Place with the first convenient Opportunity.
You and Mr. Cadel had so much lost all faith with me, that indeed I thought it was impossible for you any longer to deceive me : Yet when you mention’d a new Edition, I own I was so simple as to believe, that all the old one was nearly sold off. This woud have been very blameable in you, if you had proposd any other End than that of seducing me into the continuing of my work, which you thought, and probably with Reason, woud have been for my own Advantage in more respects than one. But however the Consequence is, that I am now at a Loss, and ever shall remain so, what I am to think and believe: And many Questions, interesting to me, which I wishd to ask you, woud, I find, be entirely vain and fruitless; and therefore I shall forbear them, since I can give no manner of credit to the Answers. A very little time will make me totally indifferent about these Matters, which is the State of Mind that I have nearly attain’d already. I only desire that before you begin any new Edition of any of my Writings, you give me Information some time beforehand.
20 of March, 1773.
I have read twice over all Sir John Dalrymple's new Publication , which contains many curious Papers ; but it gives me great Satisfaction to find, that there is not one single Mistake in my History, either great or small, which it gives me occasion to correct. I could only wish to have an Opportunity of adding one Note in order to correct a mistake into which Sir John is very anxious to lead his Readers, as if the French Intrigues had had a sensible Influence in the Determinations of the English Parliament : And I believe it is not too late even yet to annex it. I remember Mr. Millar added a similar Note to the last Octavo Edition drawn from K. James's Memoirs ; and it was inserted in more than the half of the Copies. I have sent you the Note, which I beg may be printed on a Leaf apart, and annexd to all the Copies afterwards disposd of, and even sent to all the Booksellers that have purchasd any considerable Numbers, as well as joind to my own Copies.
I hear you have given Sir John 2000 pounds for the Property of this Volume, which I scarcely believe . The Book is curious, but far from being agreeable Reading; and the Sale will probably be all at first. I again repeat my Entreaties that this Note may be annexd.
March 19, 1773.
Yours of the 15th I received today, which does not a little surprise me. After having been most unfeignedly attached to you ever since I had the pleasure of your acquaintance; after having done every thing in my power to oblige you; after having given the most careful attention to your works when under my press, for which I received your repeated ackowledgements; and after having behaved to you in the most open, candid, and ingenuous manner upon every occasion since I became a proprietor in your works; I did not, I could not expect to be told by you, after all, that I was a lying scoundrel, who had constantly deceived you, to whom you could give no manner of credit.
Such it seems, is now your deliberate opinion both of Mr. Cadell and myself. Produce, I call upon you, and have a right so to do, one single instance to support the heavy charge you bring against us; concealing from you, at the desire of the late Mr. Millar, the number of the 8vo. edition of your History alone excepted ; which we did purely at his request, having then no interest, nor the least shadow of interest, to deceive you in that or any other particular.
I own that I am quite astonished at the style of your last letter, which is such as should be directed to one of the most worthless of the human race, and to such only.
Do not imagine, however, that I mean to enter into a laboured defence of myself. Far from it. I have nothing to apologize for; nothing have I said or done respecting you, that I now wish unsaid or undone.—Some recent cause of disgust, however groundless, you have conceived; but as my whole conduct respecting you has all along be so more than blameless, this cause, whatever it may be, is to me a perfect mystery.—I told you faithfully, from time to time, how many were left on hand of the 8vo. edition. You told me in a late letter that we had better submit to some loss, than allow the book to be discredited by that abominable edition .—All proper haste was made to finish and publish it. In my last I told you not above 100 Copies were left; this was so very true, that upon enquiry today, I find they are exactly 76, which we can either destroy, or sell abroad; they are no object . But why do I trouble either you or myself to give you any detail upon this or any other subject; which, as you very politely tell me, is entirely vain and fruitless, as you can give no manner of credit to my answers.
Had not Mr. Cadell and I, from the moment we were free agents and concerned in your works, done everything we could devise for your satisfaction and honour; had we not invariably refused to have any interest in any thing that had a tendency to discredit or displease you; in particular Dr. Beattie's book ; had we not on many occasions—But I scorn to instance more particulars—we might have looked for this treatment from you, from which the most blameless conduct on our part has not been able to defend us.
True it is (and this does not depend on my veracity else I would not have mentioned it) that I have said and done every thing in my power to persuade (or, if you please, to seduce ) you to continue your History, from a full conviction, as you express it in your last, that it would have been for your own advantage in more respects than one .—Your answer was constantly in the negative; of late, that such an absurd and extravagant idea never entered your head ; and that you had thrown your pen aside for ever .—Whether I did well in thus repeatedly obtruding my advice upon you, and you in as repeatedly rejecting it, time only can discover. I know I meant well; that to me is great cause of satisfaction.—And now I cease to trouble you on this head for ever.
I had forgot that you desired 12 copies of this edition. They shall be directly sent you; and as many more as you shall hereafter desire are at your service. Your request respecting future editions of your Works shall be duly attended to. I shall only add, that at no period of my life could I have patiently borne the unmerited treatment you have given me; you will not therefore wonder, that having now, by my own industry, attained to a state of independence, and I will venture to say by a conduct umimpeachable, it should not sit very easy upon my stomach .
Some time or other you will perhaps discover with certainty, whether I am or not
24th of March, 1773.
If my Letter surprizd you, I assure you yours no less surprizd me; and gave me no little Concern. You know, that I have frequently accus’d you no less than Mr. Millar and Mr. Cadell, of always representing the fair side of things to me ; and you have frequently remarkd that I was totally incredulous concerning the Representations you made me. If your End had been to circumvent me, or take any Advantage of me to my Loss, you would have been very blamable. But as your Purpose plainly was and coud be no other, than to put me in good humour with the Public, and engage me into what must prove both profitable and amusing to me, I thought the Crime very venial; as I told you in my Letter: And though I wishd that the Truth had always been told me, I neither was disobligd at you nor entertaind in the least a bad opinion of you . On the contrary, there is no man of whom I entertain a better, nor whose Friendship I desire more to preserve, nor indeed any one to whom I have owd more essential Obligations. You may judge then of my Uneasyness when I found that I had unwittingly and unwillingly given you so much Disgust. But how coud you take it amiss, that I had told you in a Letter what I had so often told you without offence by words? Your protracting of this Edition, which you told me two Years ago was demanded , was a sure means of renewing my former Jealousy.—But I shall not enter into any farther Detail on this Subject which is needless: But what I think extremely needful for my own Peace of Mind is to renew my Professions of that Friendship and Esteem, which I do and always will bear to you; and to beg of you very earnestly a Renewal of those Sentiments which you always professd towards me, and whose Sincerity I have seen in a hundred Instances. I do not remember any Incident of my Life, that has given me more real Concern, than your Misapprehension of me, which, I hope, a little Reflection without any Explication on my part woud have sufficd to remove. Sick People and Children are often to be deceivd for their Good ; and I only suspected you of thinking that peevish Authors, such as I confess I am, are in the same Predicament. Was the reproaching you with this Idea, so great an Offence, or so heavy an Imputation upon your Faith and moral Character? I again beg of you to be assurd of my sincere Sentiments on this head, and entreat the Continuance or rather the Renewal of your Friendship; a Word which I once hop’d woud never have enter’d into our Correspondence .
I am with great Truth & Regard Dear Sir
25 of Jany., 1774.
I write to you in a great hurry and with great Earnestness: It is to beg your Vote and Interest in the India house for Coll. Stuart, Brother to our Friend, Andrew , whose Appointment to command in Bombay is in danger of being over-haul’d by the Court of Proprietors . This woud be a most invidious Measure, very cruel to the Collohel and all his Friends. I know that on Andrew's Account, you woud interest yourself against it; but as he thinks, that my Entreaties woud add something to your Zeal, I hereby join them in the most earnest manner, tho’ indeed rather to satisfy him, than that I think they will be any-wise necessary .
I have writ you an ostensible Letter on the Subject of literary Property, which contains my real Sentiments, so far as it goes. However, I shall tell you the truth; I do not forsee any such bad Consequences as you mention from laying the Property open . The Italians and French have more pompous Editions of their Classics since the Expiration of the Privileges than any we have of ours: And at least, every Bookseller, who prints a Book, will endeavour to make it as compleat and correct as he can. But when I said, that I thought Lord Mansfield's Decision founded on a vain Subtlely , I did not consider the matter in that Light, but only on a simple Consideration of the Act of Q. Anne. The Essay I mentioned is not so considerable as to [be] printed apart; yet any pyrated Edition woud be reckond incompleat that did not contain it.
2 of April, 1774.
There is a Subject which I was desird to mention to you, but which I delay’d, till your Application to Parliament were finishd, that you might know on what footing your literary Property was to stand : It is with regard to Dr. Wallace's manuscript, which was certainly finishd for the Press and which I think a very good Book : I told his Son about four or five months ago, before the Decision of the House of Peers, that he ought not to expect above 500 pounds for it; and he has return’d so far to my Sentiments, as to leave the Matter entirely to me; I shoud wish to know, therefore, what you think you cou’d afford. I imagine this Decision will not very much alter the Value of literary Property: For if you coud, by a tacite convention among yourselves , make a Property of the Dauphin's Virgil, without a single Line in Virgil's hand, or Ruæus's or the Dauphin's , I see not why you may not keep Possession of all your Books as before. However, this Decision throws you into some Uncertainty, and you may be cautious for some time in entering on any considerable Purchase.
Lord Kaims's Sketches . have here been published some weeks; and by the Reception it has met with, is not likely to be very popular, according to the prodigiously sanguine Expectations of the Author. But after his Elements of Criticism met with some Success, I shall never venture to make any Prophecy on that head. I am glad to hear, that in your Bargain with him, you had a saving Clause to ensure you against Loss . Cou’d any such Clause be devis’d with regard to Dr. Wallace's Book? In the mean time, I ask 500 pounds for it ; as you desire that a positive Demand shoud always be made, which is indeed but reasonable. It is about half the Size of Lord Kaims's Sketches; and is better writ.
April 9, 1774 .
I am favoured with yours in regard to Dr. Wallace's book, to which I know not what to say in reply. It may probably be worth the money demanded for it, for anything I know to the contrary, because I have not seen a syllable of it; but when I consider the subject, the nature of which is not very saleable, and the character of the Author, who though a man of most excellent dispositions, and good abilities, never in his lifetime produced anything that was so received by the public, as could in any manner justify such a price as £500 for a work of his, of the size of a small quarto volume, I cannot hesitate a moment to decline the purchase.— What was got by his Essay on the Numbers of Mankind I know not; but his Characteristics of Great Britain Mr. Millar and I bought for £30, and I believe we did not make £10 of it. Not that I mean to undervalue the present performance; but when I have no other guide to go by, it is natural enough to reason from analogy, and to estimate one work by former publications of the same writer. The prices demanded, and indeed given of late for copies , hath had a most strange effect upon our present Authors, as every one is abundantly apt to compare his own merit with his contemporaries, of which he cannot be supposed to be an impartial judge.—Mr. G. Wallace carries this idea farther, and asserts what to me is the greatest of all paradoxes, viz. ‘That little will ever be made by any work for which much is not given.’—I wish I could not produce so capital an exception to this rule as Hawkesworth's Voyages; the event of which purchase, if it does not cure Authors of their delirium, I am sure will have the proper effect upon book-sellers .—I will not take into the account the present uncertain state of literary property in general. There is no occasion for it. The simple question here is, Is it likely that 2000 of this book will sell in a few years at the price of a guinea bound; because unless that number are likely to be disposed of at that price, it can never bear so large as sum as £500 .
As for Lord Kaimes's book, neither Mr. Cadell nor I had any hand in the purchase. It was entirely transacted between his Lordship and Mr. Creech . But the saving clause removed every objection to our having a concern in it, as we had no trouble about it; but in the present case, to agree to give £500, even with a saving clause, would be undertaking all the trouble attending the publication with a moral certainty of getting nothing for our pains. After all, I wish not, neither does Mr. Cadell, to undervalue any man's performance, so it is better, perhaps, to decline it in our Names altogether, without giving the Reasons above assigned.—Or if you please, as Mr. G. Wallace's expectations from the book were so sanguine that he conceived hopes of getting £2000 for it, we will print it, run all risk of paper, print, etc., and give him half the neat profits: and as in this way, it will be evidently our own interest to promote the sale, he need not doubt our doing everything in our power to promote it .
Lord Kaimes's book will be published here next week, and I doubt not but it will sell. It is light summer reading, and not unsuitable to the taste of the present times. It is not the intrinsic merit of any work that ensures the sale; but many other circumstances which men of true judgment and solid learning are apt to overlook .
Our Literary Property Bill will be brought in next week, as soon as the parliament reassembles. We hope at least to get something. I wrote to Dr. Robertson for his sentiments above a fortnight ago, but have yet received no answer, which I wonder at .
I am ever, with the most sincere Esteem, dear Sir, Yours etc.
The Delphin Classics are of that species of books that will never be pirated, and would indeed never be printed in Britain at all, unless by a large company of booksellers, faithful to one another, by whose joint trade an impression may be sold off in a reasonable time, so as to indemnify them for the expense, with some little profit .—For such books we want no protection; nor for large works, voluminous Dictionaries, School books, etc., which no interloper will ever meddle with; but for your light and more saleable productions, of two or three volumes in 12o., the profit on which is sure, and the risk small, the charge of an impression amounting to a small sum.
If your commendations of Henry's History are well founded, is not his work an exception to your own general rule, that no good book was ever wrote for money ?
26 of Octr., 1775.
I have often regreted the Interruption of our Correspondence : But when you ceas’d to be a speculative Politician and became a practical one , I coud no longer expect you woud be so communicative or impartial as formerly on that head; and my object with regard to Authorship, was, for a time, at an End. The Reason of the present Trouble is of a different kind: Dr. Trail , the Professor of Divinity at Glasgow, is dead; and Dr. Wight, the present Professor of Church History, is a Candidate for the Office: The Place is filled by a Vote of the Professors: You are understood to have great Influence with Wilson, the Professor of Astronomy : And I interest myself extremely in Dr. Wight's success :. These are my Reasons for writing to you. But I must also tell you my Reasons for interesting myself so much in Dr. Wight's Behalf. He is a particular Friend of mine: He is very much connected with all mine and your particular Friends in the Church : He is a very gentleman-like agreeable Man: And above all, he is (without which I shoud not interest myself for him) a very sound and orthodox Divine. The case of Dr. Trail, (his predecessor, as I hope) was somewhat particular with regard to Orthodoxy: He was very laudably a declar’d Enemy to all Heretics, Socinians, Arians, Anti-trinitarians, Arminians, Erastians, Sabellians, Pelagians, Semi-pelagians: In short, of every Sect, whose Name terminated in ian , except Presbyterian, to whom he had a declar’d and passionate Attachment. He said, that it signify’d nothing to pick out a little straggling Absurdity, here and there, from the System; while the whole immense Chaos, sufficient to over-whelm Heaven and Earth, still remain’d entire, and must still remain. But in Prosecution of these Views (which one cannot much blame) he mix’d a little of the Acrimony of his own Temper; and, perhaps undesignedly, sent away all the Students of Divinity very zealous Bigots, which had a very bad Effect on the Clergy of that Neighbourhood . Now, I shall answer for Dr. Wight, that his Pupils shall have all the Orthodoxy, without the Bigotry, instill’d into them by his Predecessor. I believe Dr. Robertson will write you on the same Subject; and I beg you woud not lose any time in applying to Mr. Wilson, in case he shoud take any other Engagements, tho we do not yet hear of any other Candidate.
I must, before we part, have a little Stroke of Politics with you, notwithstanding my Resolution to the contrary. We hear that some of the Ministers have propos’d in Council, that both Fleet and Army be withdrawn from America, and these Colonists be left entirely to themselves . I wish I had been a Member of His Majesty's Cabinet Council, that I might have seconded this Opinion. I shoud have said, that this Measure only anticipates the necessary Course of Events a few Years; that a forced and every day more precarious Monopoly of about 6 or 700,000 Pounds a year of Manufactures , was not worth contending for; that we shoud preserve the greater part of this Trade even if the Ports of America were open to all Nations; that it was very likely, in our method of proceeding, that we shoud be disappointed in our Scheme of conquering the Colonies ; and that we ought to think beforehand how we were to govern them, after they were conquer’d. Arbitrary Power can extend its oppressive Arm to the Antipodes; but a limited Government can never long be upheld at a distance, even where no Disgusts have interven’d : Much less, where such violent Animosities have taken place. We must, therefore, annul all the Charters ; abolish every democratical Power in every Colony; repeal the Habeas Corpus Act with regard to them; invest every Governor with full discretionary or arbitrary Powers; confiscate the Estates of all the chief Planters ; and hang three fourths of their Clergy . To execute such Acts of destructive Violence twenty thousand Men will not be sufficient; nor thirty thousand to maintain them, in so wide and disjointed a Territory . And who are to pay so great an Army? The Colonists cannot at any time, much less after reducing them to such a State of Desolation: We ought not, and indeed cannot, in the over-loaded or rather over-whelm’d and totally ruin’d State of our Finances . Let us, therefore, lay aside all Anger; shake hands, and part Friends . Or if we retain any anger, let it only be against ourselves for our past Folly; and against that wicked Madman, Pitt; who has reducd us to our present Condition . Dixi .
But we must not part, without my also saying something as an Author. I have not yet thrown up so much all Memory of that Character. There is a short Advertisement , which I wish I had prefix’d to the second Volume of the Essays and Treatises in the last Edition. I send you a Copy of it. Please to enquire at the Warehouse, if any considerable Number of that Edition remain on hands; and if there do, I beg the favour of you, that you woud throw off an equal Number of this Advertisement, and give out no more Copies without prefixing it to the second volume. It is a compleat Answer to Dr. Reid and to that bigotted silly Fellow, Beattie .
I believe that I have formerly mention’d to you, that no new Editions shoud be made of any of my Writings, without mentioning it to me; I shall still have some Corrections to make. By Calculation, or rather Conjecture from former Sales, the last Edition of my History shoud be nearly sold off: Pray inform yourself whether it be not so: And how many remain on hand .
I am with great Sincerity Dear Sir Your affectionate humble Servant
‘...And now a word or two of politics. The increased liberty of the press, which gives you the substance of almost every debate, is the sole cause of my being less communicative, and as for my impartiality, notwithstanding a little change in my situation, it is noway diminished. But I differ from you, toto cœlo, with regard to America. I am entirely for coercive methods with those obstinate madmen: And why should we despair of success?—Why should we suffer the Empire to be so dismembered, without the utmost exertions on our part? I see nothing so very formidable in this business, if we become a little more unanimous, and could stop the mouths of domestic traitors, from whence the evil originated .—Not that I wish to enslave the Colonists, or to make them one jot less happy than ourselves; but I am for keeping them subordinate to the British Legislature, and their trade in a reasonable degree subservient to the interest of the Mother Country; an advantage she well deserves, but which she must inevitably lose, if they are emancipated as you propose. I am really surprised you are of a different opinion. Very true, things look oddly at present, and the dispute hath hitherto been very ill-managed; but so we always do in the commencement of every war. So we did most remarkably in the last . It is perhaps owing to the nature of our Government, which permits not of those sudden and decisive exertions frequently made by arbitrary Princes. But so soon as the British Lion is roused, we never fail to fetch up our leeway , as the sailors say. And so I hope you will find it in this important case. We had two exceeding long debates in the House last Thursday and Friday. Till ½ after 4 in the Morning the first Day, and ½ after 1 the second. Much was said on both sides, but the Address was at length carried by 278 to 108 , and I hope this decision will be followed by the most vigorous exertions both by sea and land.—At present I believe we have totally lost America; but a proper disposition of our fleet, and the troops we shall, even without foreign assistance (except the Hanoverians ) be able to send thither, will speedily recover it. Perhaps it may be still a difficult task, but it is worth doing all in our power to accomplish. And a little perseverance on our part will unavoidably throw the Americans into confusion among themselves, even were we to stand upon the defensive, and only block up their ports. They cannot subsist without trade; they must export their corn, or it is useless, and they must have cloathing for themselves and negroes , and a thousand other necessaries and conveniences of life from Europe. Their present anarchy is already, and must every day become more and more intolerable. I have not time just now to launch out into particulars. But the Newspapers will make up the deficiency. Your friend General Conway has declared with the minority.... When we have subdued the Colonists, it will require little force to keep them in order; for all the men of property among them are in their hearts with us, and they will insensibly slide back into their former situation....—M. S. R. S. E.
Oct. 30, 1775.
13 of Novr., 1775.
Your Memory has fail’d you. The last Quarto Edition of my philosophical Pieces in 1768 was in two Volumes, and this Advertisement may be prefixed to the second Volume. There was another Quarto Edition in one Volume six or seven Years before ; but that Edition must be all sold off, as you have made four or five Editions since . Your Correction is certainly just; and I had evidently been guilty of an Error in my Pen.
I am glad to find there is a Prospect of a new Edition of my History. I was indeed apprehensive, that the blind Rage of Party had entirely obstructed the Sale of it. I am as anxious of Correctness as if I were writing to Greeks or French; and besides frequent Revisals, which I have given it since the last Edition, I shall again run over it very carefully, and shall send you a corrected Copy. About six Weeks hence, I shall send off by the Waggon the four first Volumes; and shall direct them to Mr. Cadel's Shop, which will be more easily found than your House . The other four Volumes shall follow at Leizure. I remember an Author , who says, that one half of a man's Life is too little to write a Book; and the other half to correct it. I think, that I am more agreeably employ’d for myself in this manner, and perhaps more profitably for you, than if I were writing such Volumes as Macpherson's History , one of the most wretched Productions that ever came from your Press.
I am sorry, that I cannot agree with you, in your hopes of subduing and what is more difficult, of governing America . Think only of the great Kingdom of France which is within a days sailing of the small Island of Corsica; yet has not been able, in eight or nine Years, to subdue and govern it, contrary to Sentiments of the Inhabitants . But the worst Effect of the Loss of America, will not be the Detriment to our Manufactures, which will be a mere trifle , or to our Navigation, which will not be considerable ; but to the Credit and Reputation of Government, which has already but too little Authority. You will probably see a Scene of Anarchy and Confusion open’d at home, the best Consequence of which is a settled Plan of arbitrary Power ; the worst, total Ruin and Destruction .
I am extremely oblig’d to you for your Letter to Professor Wilson. I am afraid, however, that all Efforts in favour of Dr. Wight will be in vain. It seems, Dr. Hunter supports a Friend of his; and nothing can be refusd him by the University .
11 of Feby., 1776.
Last Monday, I sent to the Newcastle Waggon the four first Volumes corrected of my History. They are directed to Mr. Cadell. You will see by the Margins, that I have not been idle: And as the Corrections have cost me a great deal of care and Attention, I am anxious that the Books be safely deliver’d. They may arrive about three Weeks hence; about which time, if Mr. Cadell does not receive them, I beg, that he would take the trouble of enquiring about them; and as soon as they come to hand, let me know of it by a Line. The other Volumes will be ready, whenever the Press demands them; of which you will be so good as to inform me in time.
I hope you will employ one of your most careful Compositors in this Edition: For as it is the last, which, at my Age and in my State of Health , I can hope to see, I wish to leave it correct. I think that it will not be prudent in you, to make this Edition more numerous than the former one.
I wonder what Smith means by not publishing . I am glad to see my Friend Gibbon advertised : I am confident it will be a very good Book; though I am at a Loss to conceive where he finds materials for a Volume from Trajan to Constantine . Be so good as to make my Compliments to him: The Book has not yet arrived here.
David Hume .
8 of April, 1776.
I am employed in finishing the Corrections of the four last Volumes of my History, and these Volumes will probably be sent you by the Waggon next week. You have certainly Occupation enough on the four first till their Arrival. I beg that after the four first are printed off a Copy of the new Edition of them may be sent me by the Waggon, that I may return you the Errata.
I am very much taken with Mr. Gibbon's Roman History which came from your Press, and am glad to hear of its success. There will no Books of Reputation now be printed in London but through your hands and Mr. Cadel's . The Author tells me, that he is already preparing a second Edition. I intended to have given him my Advice with regard to the manner of printing it; but as I am now writing to you, it is the same thing. He ought certainly to print the Number of the Chapter at the head of the Margin, and it woud be better if something of the Contents coud also be added. One is also plagued with his Notes, according to the present Method of printing the Book: When a Note is announced, you turn to the End of the Volume; and there you often find nothing but the Reference to an Authority: All these Authorities ought only to be printed at the Margin or the Bottom of the Page . I desire, that a Copy of my new Edition shoud be sent to Mr. Gibbon, as wishing that a Gentleman, whom I so highly value, shoud peruse me in the form the least imperfect, to which I can bring my work .
We heard that yours and Mr. Cadell's Warehouses had been consumed by fire: I intended to have written you on the Occasion, but as I received a Letter from you a few Posts after, in which you mentioned nothing of the Matter, I concluded the Rumor to be false. Dr. Robertson tells me, that there was some Foundation for the Report; but that your Loss was inconsiderable; and that your Copies were insured . I shoud not have been sorry, if some Bales of my Essays had been in the Number; as I think I coud make some Improvements in a new Edition.
Dr. Smith's Performance is another excellent Work that has come from your Press this Winter; but I have ventured to tell him, that it requires too much thought to be as popular as Mr. Gibbon's .
If your Ministry have as much Reflection and Combination of thought as to make a successful Expedition on the other Side of the Atlantic with 40,000 men, they will much disappoint my Expectations. They seem to have gone wrong already by the Lateness of their Embarkations . But we shall see, which is the utmost that can be said in most Affairs of this Nature.
David Hume .
20 of April 1776.
My Body sets out to-morrow by Post for London ; but whether it will arrive there is somewhat uncertain. I shall travel by slow Journies. Last Monday, I sent off by the Waggon, directed to Mr. Cadel, the four last Volumes of my History. I bring up my philosophical Pieces corrected, which will be safe, whether I dye by the Road or not .
2 of May, 1776.
I arrived here yesterday very much improved by my Journey. I have seen no body but Sir John Pringle, who says that he sees nothing alarming in my Case ; and I am willing, and consequently ready to believe him. I intend to call on you this forenoon, and shall leave this in case I miss you. I know not yet what Sir John intends to do with me; so am ignorant how long I shall remain in London: But wish much to have a Conversation with you; I shall never eat a meal from my own Fireside; but all the Forenoons and Afternoons will be at my Disposal. It will do me Service to drive to your House; so that you need only appoint me by Message or Penny Post an hour any day.
P.S.—I lodge at Mrs. Perkins, a few doors from Miss Elliots , and next door to Mr. Forbes the Surgeon. The Afternoons, if equally convenient for you, will rather be more convenient to me, to call on you.
10 of May, 1776.
I was very sorry not to see you again before I left London, both because I did not see you again and because of the Cause, your being confin’d. I arriv’d here on Wednesday Evening; improv’d, as before, by the Journey; And the short Trial which I have made of the Waters, seems to succeed wonderfully. Dr Gustard , with whom I am much taken, says, that he never saw a Case so much what may be calld a Bath Case, and in which he is more assur’d of the Patients Recovery. To tell the Truth, I feel myself already so much reliev’d, that, for the first time these several Months, I have to day begun to open my Mind to the Expectations of seeing a few more Years: But whether this be very desirable at my Age I shall not determine. I have not ventur’d to write any thing to Sir John Pringle till we have made a further Trial.
You have probably or soon will have some Letters directed to me under your Cover . Please direct them to this Place. I hope you will be able to give me the same good Accounts of your Health that I have given you of mine. I believe, I told you, that I had sent to the Newcastle Waggon at Edinburgh, near four Weeks ago, the corrected Copy of the four last Volumes of my History, directed to Mr. Cadell. The great Pains, that these Corrections cost me, make me anxious to hear of their safe Arrival.
When we pass’d by Spine hill near Newbury we found in the Inn Lord Denbigh , who was an Acquaintance of my Fellow Traveller . His Lordship inform’d him, that he, Lord Sandwich , Lord Mulgrave , Mr. Banks , and two or three Ladies of Pleasure had pass’d five or six Days there , and intended to pass all this Week and the next in the same Place; that their chief object was to enjoy the trouting Season ; that they had been very successful; that Lord Sandwich in particular had caught Trouts near twenty Inches long, which gave him incredible Satisfaction; but that for his Part, being a greater Admirer of Sea Fish, in which Bath abounded, and hearing that Friday was the great Market day there for Fish, he commissiond my Friend to send him up by the London Fly a good Cargo of Soles, John Dories, and Pipers , which wou’d render their Happiness compleat. I do not remember in all my little or great Knowlege of History (according as you and Dr Johnson can settle between you the Degrees of my Knowlege) such another Instance; and I am sure such a one does not exist: That the first Lord of the Admiralty, who is absolute and uncontrouled Master in his Department, shou’d, at a time when the Fate of the British Empire is in dependance, and in dependance on him, find so much Leizure, Tranquillity, Presence of Mind and Magnanimity, as to have Amusement in trouting during three Weeks near sixty Miles from the scene of Business, and during the most critical Season of the Year. There needs but this single Fact to decide the Fate of the Nation. What an Ornament woud it be in a future History to open the glorious Events of the ensuing Year with the Narrative of so singular an Incident .
8 of June, 1776.
You will be sorry to hear, that I must retract all the good Accounts, which I gave you of my Health. The Waters, after seeming to agree with me, have sensibly a bad Effect, and I have entirely dropped the Use of them. I wait only Sir John Pringle's Directions before I leave this place; and I shall, I believe, set out for the North in a few days . If any Letters for me come under your Cover, be so good as to detain them, till I can inform you of my Route.
I am glad to find, that you have been able to set about this New Edition in earnest. I have made it extremely correct; at least I believe that, if I were to live twenty Years longer, I shoud never be able to give it any further Improvements. This is some small Satisfaction to me in my present Situation; and I may add that it is almost the only one that my Writings ever afforded me: For as to any suitable Returns of Approbation from the Public, for the Care, Accuracy, Labour, Disinterestedness, and Courage of my Compositions, they are yet to come. Though, I own to you, I see many Symptoms that they are approaching . But it will happen to me as to many other Writers: Though I have reached a considerable Age, I shall not live to see any Justice done to me . It is not improbable, however, that my Self-conceit and Prepossessions may lead me into this way of thinking .
As soon as this Edition is finished, please to send a Copy of all the ten Volumes to Sir John Pringle, the same to Mr. Gibbon , a Copy of the History to Mistress Elliott in Brewer Street; six Copies of the whole to me in Edinburgh or to my Brother there in case of my Death .
If this Event shall happen, as is probable, before the Publication of this Edition, there is one Request I have to make to you: Before I left Edinburgh, I wrote a small piece (you may believe it woud be but a small one) which I call the History of my own Life : I desire it may be prefixed to this Edition: It will be thought curious and entertaining. My Brother or Dr. Adam Smith will send it to you, and I shall give them Directions to that Purpose.
I am also to speak to you of another Work more important: Some Years ago, I composed a piece, which woud make a small Volume in Twelves. I call it Dialogues on natural Religion: Some of my Friends flatter me, that it is the best thing I ever wrote. I have hitherto forborne to publish it, because I was of late desirous to live quietly, and keep remote from all Clamour: For though it be not more exceptionable than some things I had formerly published; yet you know some of these were thought very exceptionable; and in prudence, perhaps, I ought to have suppressed them. I there introduce a Sceptic, who is indeed refuted, and at last gives up the Argument, nay confesses that he was only amusing himself by all his Cavils ; yet before he is silenced, he advances several Topics, which will give Umbrage, and will be deemed very bold and free, as well as much out of the common Road. As soon as I arrive at Edinburgh, I intend to print a small Edition of 500, of which I may give away about 100 in Presents; and shall make you a Present of the Remainder, together with the literary Property of the whole, provided you have no Scruple, in your present Situation, of being the Editor: It is not necessary you shoud prefix your Name to the Title Page. I seriously declare, that after Mr. Millar and You and Mr. Cadell have publickly avowed your Publication of the Enquiry concerning human Understanding , I know no Reason why you shoud have the least Scruple with regard to these Dialogues. They will be much less obnoxious to the Law , and not more exposed to popular Clamour. Whatever your Resolution be, I beg you wou’d keep an entire Silence on this Subject. If I leave them to you by Will, your executing the Desire of a dead Friend, will render the publication still more excusable . Mallet never sufferd any thing by being the Editor of Boling-broke's Works .
Two posts ago, I sent you a Copy of the small Essay which I mentioned .
12 of June, 1776.
I leave not this Place so soon as I had intended; and shall remain long enough to hear from you. I am sensibly obliged to you for undertaking to execute my Will with regard to my Manuscripts; and I have this same day made a Codicil by which I make you entirely Master of them . It is an idle thing in us to be concerned about any thing that shall happen after our Death; yet this is natural to all Men, and I often regretted that a Piece, for which I had a particular Partiality, should run any hazard of being suppressed after my Decease .
The Cause of my Distemper is now fully discovered: It is a Tumour in my Liver, which Mr. John Hunter first felt, and which I myself can now feel: It seems to be about the Bigness of an Egg, and is flat and round. Dr. Gusthart, who had conjectured some such Cause, flatters me, that he now entertains better hopes than ever, of my Recovery; but I infer, that a Disorder, of so long standing, in a vital Part, will not easily be removed in a Person of my Years: It may linger some Years, which would not be very desirable. The Physicians recommend Motion and Exercise and even long Journies : I think, therefore, of setting out for Edinburgh some time next week; and will probably see you in London before the End of the good Season. I am with great Sincerity Dear Sir
David Hume .
27 of July, 1776.
I arriv’d here about three weeks ago in a very shattered Condition: The Motion of the Chaise, especially during the last days, made me suffer very much; and my Physicians are now of Opinion (which was always my Sentiment) that all Exercise is hurtful to me. I am however in very good Spirits during the Intervals of my Colics; and employ myself in my usual Occupations. As a proof of it, I send you three Leaves of the sixth Volume of my History, which you will please to substitute, instead of the three correspondent Leaves as they stand at present. They contain some Corrections, or rather Omissions, which I think Improvements . You will wonder, that, in my present Situation I employ myself about such Trifles, and you may compare me to the modern Greeks, who, while Constantinople was besieged by the Turks and they themselves were threatened with total Destruction, occupyed themselves entirely in Disputes concerning the Procession of the holy Ghost . Such is the Effect of long Habit! I am Dear Sir
30 of July, 1776.
I must give you the trouble of making a new Correction, which however will be easily done. It is in the second Volume of my philosophical Pieces: That whole Passage from Page 231 till Page 239 line 3 must be thrown into an Appendix under the Title Of Self-love : It must be the second Appendix; consequently the second Appendix becomes the third, and the third Appendix, the fourth. In like manner, what is called in Page 239, Part 2 must be Part I , as also that in Page 241 must be Part 2. Let the Printer observe this Alteration with regard to the Appendixes in the Table of the Contents.
I feel myself a good deal better since I am settled here, and never stir abroad except in a Chair. My Physicians say everywhere that they have cured me, which is very agreeable Intelligence, though somewhat new to me.
I am glad to hear, that you and Dr. Robertson are fully agreed : It gives me pleasure on his account, and I hope, in the Issue, upon yours. I am dear Sir
P.S.—The Title of the Section in Page 231 remains the same as before, viz. Of Benevolence.
12 of August, 1776.
Please to make with your Pen the following Correction. In the second Volume of my philosophical Pieces, p. 245, l. 1, and 2, eraze these words, that there is such a sentiment in human nature as benevolence .
This, Dear Sir, is the last Correction I shall probably trouble you with: For Dr. Black has promised me, that all shall be over with me in a very little time : This Promise he makes by his power of Prediction, not that of Prescription. And indeed I consider it as good News: For of late, within these few weeks, my Infirmities have so multiplyed, that Life has become rather a Burthen to me . Adieu, then, my good and old Friend.
P.S.—My Brother will inform you of my Destination with regard to my Manuscripts.
In the same Page, 1. 4, instead of possession of it read sentiment of benevolence
My brother died on the 25th of August (as you would probably see by the newspapers ) 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 cover , both of which will go with the fly . 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 life , 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.
By a codicil to the will of our late most valuable friend Mr. Hume the care of his manuscripts is left to you. Both from his will and from his conversation I understand that there are only two which he meant should be published, an account of his own life, and Dialogues concerning natural religion. The latter, tho’ finely written, I could have wished had remained in manuscript to be communicated only to a few people. When you read the work you will see my reasons without my giving you the trouble of reading them in a Letter. But he has ordered it otherwise. In case of their not being published within three years after his decease he has left the property of them to his nephew. Upon my objecting to this clause as unnecessary and improper, he wrote [to] me by his Nephew's hand in the following terms. There is no man in whom I have a greater confidence than Mr. Strahan; yet have I left the property of that manuscript to my nephew David in case by any accident they [it] should not be published within three years after my decease. The only accident I could foresee was one to Mr. Strahan's life; and without this clause my nephew would [could] have had no right to publish it. Be so good as to inform Mr. Strahan of this circumstance.’ Thus far his letter which was dated on the 23d of August. He dyed on the 25 at 4 o‘clock afternoon. I once had persuaded him to leave it entirely to my discretion either to publish them at what time I thought proper, or not to publish them at all. Had he continued of this mind the manuscript should have been most carefully preserved and upon my decease restored to his family: but it never should have been published in my lifetime. When you have read it you will perhaps think it not unreasonable to consult some prudent friend about what you ought to do.
I propose to add to his Life a very well authenticated account of his behaviour during his last illness. I must however beg that his Life and those Dialogues may not be published together, as you resolved for many reasons to have no concern in the publication of the [those] Dialogues. His Life I think ought to be prefixed to the next edition of his former works, upon which he has made many very proper corrections chiefly in what concerns the Language. If this Edition is published while I am [you are] at London, I shall revise the sheets, and authenticate its being according to his last corrections. I promised him that I would do so.
If my mother's health will permit me to leave her, I shall be in London by the beginning of November. I shall write to Mr. Home to take my lodgings, as soon as I return to Fife, which will be on Monday or Tuesday next. The Duke of Buccleugh leaves this on Sunday. Direct for me at Kirkaldy, Fifeshire, where I shall remain all the rest of the season.
5 Sept., 1776.
Let me hear from you soon .
I received yours of the 13th inclosing the Addition to Mr. Hume's Life; which I like exceedingly . But as the whole put together is very short, and will not make a Volume, even of the smallest size, I have been advised by some very good judges to annex some of his Letters to me on political subjects. —What think you of this?—I will do nothing without your advice and approbation; nor would I, for the world, publish any letter of his, but such as, in your opinion, would do him honour. —Mr. Gibbon thinks such as I have shown him would have that tendency.—Now, if you approve of this, in any manner, you may perhaps add greatly to the collection from your own cabinets, and those of Mr. John Home, Dr. Robertson, and others of your mutual friends , which you may pick up before your return hither.—But if you wholly disapprove of this scheme, say nothing of it, here let it drop, for without your concurrence, I will not publish a single word of his. M. S. R. S. E.
Novr. 26, 1776.
It always gives me great uneasiness whenever I am obliged to give an opinion contrary to the inclination of my friend. I am sensible that many of Mr Humes letters would do him great honour and that you would publish none but such as would. But what in this case ought principally to be considered is the will of the Dead. Mr Humes constant injunction was to burn all his Papers, except the Dialogues and the account of his own life . This injunction was even inserted in the body of his will . I know he always disliked the thought of his letters ever being published. He had been in long and intimate correspondence with a relation of his own who dyed a few years ago. When that Gentlemans health began to decline he was extremely anxious to get back his letters, least the heir should think of publishing them. They were accordingly returned and burnt as soon as returned. If a collection of Mr. Humes letters, besides, was to receive the public approbation, as yours certainly would, the Curls of the times would immediately set about rummaging the cabinets of all those who had ever received a scrap of paper from him. Many things would be published not fit to see the light to the great mortification of all those who wish well to his memory . Nothing has contributed so much to sink the value of Swifts works as the undistinguished publication of his letters ; and be assured that your publication, however select, would soon be followed by an undistinguished one. I should, therefore, be sorry to see any beginning given to the publication of his letters. His life will not make a volume; but it will make a small pamphlet. I shall certainly be in London by the tenth of January at furthest. I have a little business at Edinburgh which may detain me a few days about Christmass, otherwise I should be with you by the new year. I have a great deal more to say to you; but the post is just going. I shall write to Mr. Cadell by next post.
2 Dec., 1776.
You certainly judge right in publishing the new Edition of Mr. Hume's works before you publish the dialogues. They might prevent the sale of this Edition; and it is not impossible that they may hereafter [affect] occasion the sale of another. I am still uneasy about the clamour which I foresee they will excite, and could .... I am much obliged to you for so readily agreeing to print the Life together with my addition separate from the Dialogues. I even flatter myself that this arrangement will contribute not only to my quiet, but to your interest. The clamour against the Dialogues, if published first, might for some time hurt the sale of the new edition of his works; and when the clamour has a little subsided the dialogues may hereafter occasion a quicker sale of another edition.
Jany. 30th, 1777.
Presuming upon my connection with a Gentleman whose memory must undoubtedly be very dear to you, as to everyone who had the Happiness of his intimate Acquaintance, I take the liberty of addressing you. You already perceive, that I speak of the late Mr. David Hume; to whom I had the singular Felicity and Advantage of being Nephew.
I have never been able to learn, so fully and distinctly as I desire, your intention with regard to the Publication of those Manuscripts and Essays which he left behind him, and committed to your care. On this head, I am naturally very much interested: I hope, therefore, that you will excuse me, if I request it of you as the friend of my Uncle, that you would communicate to me all the information with regard to the extent, the time and manner of Publication, which consistently with your own convenience you can. A few Lines, in compliance with this Request, will be regarded as a great favour, and afford me the utmost Satisfaction .
David Hume .
Directn at Professor Millar's , College—Glasgow.
Feby. 17th, 1777.
It is a considerable time since Mr. Adam Smith left this, for London, and carryed along with him, the adition he proposed to make, to my brothers account of himself , all by his own destination, to be prefixed to the edition of his works in the press, which if it be in the forwardness you intended, may perhaps be now finished, and since you was so obliging, as beside the 6 copys destined to be given to his particular friends by himself you wrote me that I might have as many more, as I choiced, you will please send 3 copys more, along with the 6, by the wagon, directed for me at St Andrews square; one of these copys, was desired by the author verbally, to be given to one he had personal obligations to, a little before his death, the other 2 copys, is at the request of my son and my brothers nameson, to be given to two persons he is under particular tyes to.
The request I am further to make, I am not so well entitled to, which is, that when you do me [the] favour of writeing me, with the above packet you will please let me know your intentions with regard to the printing of the Dialogues concerning natural religion, and if you have comed to a determination, when it may be executed: as you make no difficulty, that they shall be in proper time; the anxiety my brother showed by all his settlements, that it should be published; I hope you will admit of as some apology for intermedleing, with what is left altogether at your disposal from the confidence that was placed in you.
You was desirous to know, if my brother had got your letter immediately before his decease. I can inform you that he did, and it is now in my possession; but tho he possesed his facultys, and understanding and cool head, to the last, he was scarce in condition to answer it, nor the quesion you put to him: but so far as I can judge, his sentiments with regard to futurity were the same, as when he was in perfect health and was never more at ease in his mind, at any one period of his life; and happyly his bodyly uneasyness was not very distressing; and if you will allow me to add from myself, a regard to the estimation of others after we are gone, is implanted in our frame as a great motive for good conduct and I hope will always have an effect on that of
John Home .
I wrote you about 10 days ago, and tho I have had no return, I expect it has comed safe to hand, and that you will take the trouble of writing me at your leisure.
Since which I have been informed, that your intention was, to make a seperate publication of my brothers life, with Mr. Smiths addition, which I could scarce have given faith to; if Mr. Smith had not told me, that you proposed it to him, and to add some of his letters, in order to make a volume, and to which he expressly refused to consent, and I hope the report is only founded on that, as it is a project so expressly against the clause in the codicil of his will with regard to it, which I sent you transcribed and is in these words. ‘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 suppress all my other manuscripts.’ This last clause impowers me, as far as I can, to prevent the publication of anything more from him, particularly his private letters, which is at all times unfit to be published: and tho he had made no destination, in which way his life was to be published, it was unfit it should be in a seperate pamphlet, as it would look more like the work of any other person than himself, to prevent which it seemed principally to [be] wrote, and if prefixed to his works, would appear to be genuine.
As my brother always entertained the most favourable oppinion of you, and showed it by the confidence he placed in you by his last deeds, I am confident nothing will be done by you, to make him have a different oppinion if he were alive; and that it is so, it will be a favour done, to asure Sir
Feby. 25th, 1777 .
I was favoured with yours of the 3d instant, to which you should have had a return sooner, if I had not thought it necessary to write my son at Glasgow, and to wait his return, as he was very materially concerned in the purport of yours; and tho a young man, only just past 20, is able to come to a sound and rational determination, which tho not yet absolutely fixed upon, seems to be contrary to my oppinion, which contrariety is perhaps partly owing to the difference betwixt old age and young and to different tempers.
My oppinion was that he should delay the publication of the dialogues on Natural Religion till the end of the two years, after this that he had a title by his uncles settlement upon your not publication of them ; otherways it carried the appearance of being too forward, and of more than he was called upon in duty; and if a clamour rose against it, he would have a difficult task to support himself, almost in the commencement of his manhood. What weighs with him is, that his publishing as early as he had the power, would look more like obedience, than a voluntary deed, and of judgement; and as such exculpate him in the eyes of the world; as well as that the publick being in expectation of the publication would receive it much better than some time after, when it might be almost forgotten. As it is a question of great importance, and the young man will not be here from Glasgow, till near two months after this, he will advise with his uncles , and his own friends, and will then inform you, whether he accepts of your offer of the immediate surrender of your title; and in which case may possibly desire from you a more formal resignation, if such is requisite, after what you have wrote me .
We will be both obliged to you, of takeing the charge of keeping the copy sent you, as well as of the printed Essays, tho I am possesed of the original of the first, which it seems has not been correctly copyed being taken in a hurry, and among the last things done by my brothers orders, and somewhat under his eye .
I received from Mr. Balfour the 20 copys of the life you ordered, long before your letter, and am much obliged to you for your attention as to that point, but cannot but be still of oppinion, that its being desired by my brother, to be prefixed, excluded every other prior mode of publication, and left no other, in the power of any other person, whatever reasons might weigh with them. but since Mr. Smith saw it in a different light, I submit, and am more difident as to my own oppinion .
As I never saw the printed Essays, being sealed up and directed by himself for you and consequently cannot judge of their merit, but as they were totaly left to your disposal and judgement, and no earnestness being shown that they should see the light, I am satisfied they be suppressed, since it is your oppinion, and am obliged to you, for asking my concurrence, as a favour no way entitled to by Sir
March 13th, 1777.
The writer of the two following curious letters was James Hutton, the Secretary to the Society of Moravians. He was the son of a Dr. Hutton, a clergyman of the Church of England who resigned his Church preferment on account of a scruple about taking the oaths. ‘James was bred a bookseller, and opened a shop by Temple Bar, whence he went to Moravia, to fetch himself a wife of that nation and religion; but this is not the age for booksellers to make fortunes by the sale of Bibles, Prayer Books, &c.; and as Mr. Hutton would do little else, that business would not do; and he betook himself to one which it seems did, that of a Moravian Leader.’ Thicknesse's Memoirs, i. 26, quoted in Nichols's Lit. Anec. viii. 447. ‘He was,’ says Nichols, Ib. iii. 436, ‘highly esteemed by the two first characters for rank and virtue in the British nation.’ ‘The two first characters,’ of course, were George III. and Queen Charlotte. Nichols quotes a letter by George Steevens, which appeared in the St. James's Chronicle on Dec. 17, 1776, dated ‘Q—'s Palace,’ and signed ‘Current Report.’ It says:—‘Politicians from this place inform us that a new Favourite has lately engrossed the K—'s attention.... It is no less a person than the old deaf Moravian, James Hutton, who was formerly a bookseller, and lived near Temple Bar, famous for his refusing to sell Tom Brown's Works and Clarke On the Trinity.... I am sure that a conversation between the King and Hutton must be exceedingly entertaining. Hutton is so deaf that a speaking trumpet will scarce make him hear; and the King talks so fast that an ordinary converser cannot possibly keep pace with him. Hutton's asthma makes him subject to frequent pauses and interruptions.’
According to Mme. D’Arblay, ‘Hutton considered all mankind as his brethren, and himself therefore as every one's equal; alike in his readiness to serve them, and in the frankness with which he demanded their services in return. His desire to make acquaintance with everybody to whom any species of celebrity was attached was insatiable, and was dauntless. He approached them without fear, and accosted them without introduction. But the genuine kindness of his smile made way for him wherever there was heart and observation.... So coarse was his large, brown, slouching surtout; so rough and blowsy was the old mop-like wig that wrapt up his head, that but for the perfectly serene mildness of his features, and the venerability of his hoary eye-brows, he might at all times have passed for some constable or watchman, who had mistaken the day for the night, and was prowling into the mansions of gentlemen instead of public-houses, to take a survey that all was in order.’ His sect, she adds, was looked upon ‘as dark and mystic.’ One day, on visiting her father's house, he said he had just come from the King, to whom he had spoken with praise of Dr. Burney [Mme. D‘Arblay's father] and of Dr. Burney's Tours. “Openly and plainly, as one honest man should talk to another, I said it outright to my Sovereign Lord the King—who is as honest a man himself as any in his own three kingdoms. God bless him!” Mrs. Burney said that the Doctor was very happy to have had a friend to speak of him so favourably before the King. “Madam,” cried the good man with warmth, “I will speak of him before my God! And that is doing much more.”’ Memoirs of Dr. Burney, i. 251, 291.
Hannah More says that ‘at the royal breakfast-table, to which he had the honour of being occasionally admitted, the King said to him one morning, “Hutton, is it true that you Moravians marry without any previous knowledge of each other?” “Yes, may it please your Majesty,” returned Hutton. “Our marriages are quite royal.”’ Memoirs of H. More, i. 318. According to Boswell, ‘there was much agreeable intercourse’ between Hutton and Johnson. Boswell's Johnson, iv. 410. ‘One of Hutton's female missionaries for North America replied to Dr. Johnson, who asked her if she was not fearful of her health in those cold countries, “Why, Sir, I am devoted to the service of my Saviour; and whether that may be best and most usefully carried on here, or on the coast of Labrador, ‘tis Mr. Hutton's business to settle. I will do my part either in a brick-house or a snow-house, with equal alacrity, for you know ‘tis the same thing with regard to my own soul.”’ Piozzi's British Synonomy, ii. 120.
It was Hutton who arranged the meeting in 1740 between John Wesley and Count Zinzendorf, the head of the Moravians, when an attempt was made at a reconciliation between the Methodists and the Moravians. The two great leaders met in Gray's Inn Walks, and conversed in Latin, but conversed in vain. Hutton was one of those men, says Southey, ‘who made Wesley perceive that all errors of opinion were not necessarily injurious to the individual by whom they were entertained; but that men who went by different ways might meet in heaven.’ Life of Wesley, ed. 1846, i. 299, 304. Southey gives some extracts from a Moravian Hymn-Book printed for James Hutton in 1746. ‘The most characteristic parts are,’ he says, ‘too shocking to be inserted.’ The following lines he gives ‘as a specimen of their silliness that may be read without offence:’—
In his old age Hutton had the happiness, wrote Miss Burney, ‘to fall into the hands of two ladies of fortune and fashion, who live very much at their ease together, and who call him father, and treat him with the tenderness of children. How singularly he merits this singular happy fortune! so good, so active, so noble as he is in all exertions for the benefit of others, and so utterly inattentive to his own interest.’ Mme. D‘Arblay's Diary, v. 267.
I was last night at the Q’ house in company with the Two . I mentioned to Him that I had seen a strange Lr of David's expressing strange wishes and Hopes, it was that Lr of 1769 where there was a string of cruel wishes . in another there was mention made of his wishes to have all the American Charters destroyd etc.
I told Him that I hoped I should once be able to shew him even the Originals. If I went too far—you need take no notice. If you will, I can shew them to Him.
You could oblige me if you would send by your Servant this Evening or to morrow morning a Cover thus frank’d
to Mr Wollin's House No 45 Fetter Lane, who wants to send a Packet thither. No 45 is the second House from New Street.
I think to go tomorrow morning to Kew if fair. but I can shew those Lrs of David H. if you choose it, next Wednesday.
Nov. 1, 1776.
Here are the Original Letters of David Hume to Mr Strahan, mark’d A. B. C. D. E. F. G. H.
a sensible Lr (copy) of Strahan to Hume. I.
Lr from Hume's Brother. K.
a character of the Princess Dowager by Strahan. L.
Hutton perhaps will recieve them again next Wednesday or Thursday.
I. and L. need not be return’d .
the above Lines I sent with the inclosed Papers to Kew. they were read on Monday Evening and were return’d to me yesterday. I know not as yet what was thought , but L is left behind. the Fog hinders me from bringing them this morning. I learnt that both of the Personages had read them. the K. was out and the Q. I believe writing to her Brothers , or I should have seen and spoken with one or other of them—I had only five words with Him, but as others were present, He could not enter into the Matter. I am glad they have read and kept L. you see by the above they know who wrote it.
Novr. 6, 1776 .