The Philosophical Works Volume I - David Hume - darmowy ebook

David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, who is best known today for his highly influential system of philosophical empiricism, skepticism, and naturalism.

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Volume I

by David Hume

Published 2018 by Blackmore Dennett

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

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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 26th 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 a 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 some 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 Flêche, 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 a 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 aide-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 Inquiry 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 Inquiry, 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 Essays, which I called Political Discourses, and also my Inquiry 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 Inquiry 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, Free-thinker 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 been at that time 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 farther 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 meanwhile, of performing the functions of that office. This offer, however inviting, I at first declined, both because I was reluctant to begin connexions 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 connexions 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 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 that 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 connexions with Lord Hertford, prevented me from declining. I returned to Edinburgh in 1769, very opulent (for I possessed a revenue of 1000l. 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 the 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 of 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 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 dispositions, 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 any wise 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.




Kirkaldy, Fifeshire, 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 run 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 Ileft 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, that 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 or 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 diarrhoea 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 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, Dr Black, undertaking, in the mean time, to write me occasionally an account of the state of his health.

On the 22d 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 anybody. 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.

"Edinburgh, 23d August, 1776.


"I am obliged to make use of my nephew's hand in writing to you, as I do not rise to-day.

"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 Doctor Black can better inform you concerning the degree of strength which may from time to time remain with me. Adieu," &c.

Three days after I received the following letter from Doctor Black.

"Edinburgh, Monday, 26th August, 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 dropped 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 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 permit.

I ever am, dear Sir,Most affectionately yours,ADAM SMITH.


I, David Hume, second lawful son of Joseph Home of Ninewells, advocate, for the love and affection I bear to John Home of Ninewells, my brother, and for other causes, DO, by these presents, under the reservations and burdens after-mentioned, GIVE and DISPOSE to the said John Home, or, if he die before me, to David Home, his second son, his heirs and assigns whatsomever, all lands, heritages, debts, and sums of money, as well heritable as moveable, which shall belong to me at the time of my decease, as also my whole effects in general, real and personal, with and under the burden of the following legacies, viz. to my sister Catherine Home, the sum of twelve hundred pounds sterling, payable the first term of Whitsunday or Martinmas after my decease, together with all my English books, and the life-rent of my house in St James's Court, or in case that house be sold at the time of my decease, twenty pounds a year during the whole course of her life: To my friend Adam Ferguson, Professor of Moral Philosophy in the College of Edinburgh, two hundred pounds sterling: To my friend M. d'Alembert, member of the French Academy, and of the Academy of Sciences in Paris, two hundred pounds: To my friend Dr Adam Smith, late Professor of Moral Philosophy in Glasgow, I leave all my manuscripts without exception, desiring him to publish my Dialogues on Natural Religion, which are comprehended in this present bequest; but to publish no other papers which he suspects not to have been written within these five years, but to destroy them all at his leisure: And I even leave him full power over all my papers, except the Dialogues above mentioned; and though I can trust to that intimate and sincere friendship, which has ever subsisted between us, for his faithful execution of this part of my will, yet, as a small recompense of his pains in correcting and publishing this work, I leave him two hundred pounds, to be paid immediately after the publication of it: I also leave to Mrs Anne and Mrs Janet Hepburn, daughters of Mr James Hepburn of Keith, one hundred pounds a piece: To my cousin David Campbell, son of Mr Campbell, minister of Lillysleaf, one hundred pounds: To the Infirmary of Edinburgh, fifty pounds: To all the servants who shall be in my family at the time of my decease, one year's wages; and to my housekeeper, Margaret Irvine, three year's wages: And I also ordain, that my brother, or nephew, or executor, whoever he be, shall not pay up to the said Margaret Irvine, without her own consent, any sum of money which I shall owe her at the time of my decease, whether by bill, bond, or for wages, but shall retain in his hand, and pay her the legal interest upon it, till she demand the principal: And in case my brother above-mentioned shall survive me, I leave to his son David, the sum of a thousand pounds to assist him in his education: But in case that by my brother's death before me, the succession of my estate and effects shall devolve to the aforesaid David, I hereby burden him, over and above the payment of the aforesaid legacies, with the payment of the sums following: To his brothers Joseph and John, a thousand pounds a piece: To his sisters Catherine and Agnes, five hundred pounds a piece: all which sums, as well as every sum contained in the present disposition (except that to Dr Smith), to be payable the first term of Whitsunday and Martinmas, after my decease; and all of them, without exception, in sterling money. And I do hereby nominate and appoint the said John Home, my brother, and failing of him by decease, the said David Home, to be my sole executor and universal legatee, with and under the burdens above mentioned; reserving always full power and liberty to me, at any time of my life, even in deathbed, to alter and innovate these presents, in whole or in part, and to burden the same with such other legacies as I shall think fit. And I do hereby declare these presents to be a good, valid, and sufficient evidence, albeit found in my custody, or in the custody of any other person at the time of my death, &c. (in common style.) Signed 4 January 1776, before these witnesses, the Right Honourable the Earl of Home, and Mr John McGowan, Clerk to the Signet.


I also ORDAIN, that if I shall die any where in Scotland, I shall be buried in a private manner in the Calton churchyard, the south side of it, and a monument to be built over my body, at an expense not exceeding a hundred pounds, with an inscription containing only my name, with the year of my birth and death, leaving it to posterity to add the rest.

At Edinburgh, 15th April, 1776. DAVID HUME.

I also leave for rebuilding the bridge of Churnside the sum of a hundred pounds; but on condition that the managers of the bridge shall take none of the stones for building the bridge from the quarry of Ninewells, except from that part of the quarry which has been already opened. I leave to my nephew Joseph, the sum of fifty pounds to enable him to make a good sufficient drain and sewer round the house of Ninewells, but on condition that, if that drain and sewer be not made, from whatever cause, within a year after my death, the said fifty pounds shall be paid to the poor of the parish of Churnside: To my sister, instead of all my English books, I leave her a hundred volumes at her choice: To David Waite, servant to my brother, I leave the sum of ten pounds, payable the first term after my death.





The name and writings of Mr Hume have been long since well known throughout Europe. At the same time, his personal acquaintance have remarked, in the candour and simplicity of his manners, that impartiality and ingenuousness of disposition which distinguishes his character, and is sufficiently indicated in his writings.

He hath exerted those great talents he received from nature, and the acquisitions he made by study, in the search of truth, and promoting the good of mankind; never wasting his time, or sacrificing his repose, in literary or personal disputes. He hath seen his writings frequently censured with bitterness, by fanaticism, ignorance, and the spirit of party, without ever giving an answer to his adversaries.

Even those who have attacked his works with the greatest violence, have always respected his personal character. His love of peace is so well known, that the criticisms written against his pieces, have been often brought him by their respective authors, for him to revise and correct them. At one time, in particular, a performance of this kind was shown to him, in which he had been treated in a very rude and even injurious manner; on remarking which to the author, the latter struck out the exceptionable passages, blushing and wondering at the force of that polemic spirit which had carried him imperceptibly away beyond the founds of truth and decency.

It was with great reluctance that a man, possessed of such pacific dispositions, could be brought to consent to the publication of the following piece. He was very sensible that the quarrels among men of letters are a scandal to philosophy; nor was any person in the world less formed for giving occasion to a scandal, so consolatory to blockheads. But the circumstances were such as to draw him into it, in spite of his inclinations.

All the world knows that Mr Rousseau, proscribed in almost every country where he resided, determined at length to take refuge in England; and that Mr Hume, affected by his situation, and his misfortunes, undertook to bring him over, and to provide for him a peaceful, safe, and convenient asylum. But very few persons are privy to the zeal, activity, and even delicacy, with which Mr Hume conferred this act of benevolence. What an affectionate attachment he had contracted for this new friend, which humanity had given him! with what address he endeavoured to anticipate his desires, without offending his pride! in short, with what address he strove to justify, in the eyes of others, the singularities of Mr Rousseau, and to defend his character against those who were not disposed to think so favourably of him as he did himself.

Even at the time when Mr Hume was employed in doing Mr Rousseau the most essential service, he received from him the most insolent and abusive letter. The more such a stroke was unexpected, the more it was cruel and affecting. Mr Hume wrote an account of this extraordinary adventure to his friends at Paris, and expressed himself in his letters with all that indignation which so strange a proceeding must excite. He thought himself under no obligation to keep terms with a man, who, after having received from him the most certain and constant marks of friendship, could reproach him, without any reason, as false, treacherous, and as the most wicked of mankind.

In the mean time, the dispute between these two celebrated personages did not fail to make a noise. The complaints of Mr Hume soon came to the knowledge of the public, which at first hardly believed it possible that Mr Rousseau could be guilty of that excessive ingratitude laid to his charge. Even Mr Hume's friends were fearful, lest, in the first effusions of sensibility, he was not carried too far, and had not mistaken for wilful crimes of the heart, the vagaries of the imagination, or the deceptions of the understanding. He judged it necessary, therefore to explain the affair, by writing a precise narrative of all that passed between him and Mr Rousseau, from their first connection to their rupture. This narrative he sent to his friends, some of whom advised him to print it, alleging, that as Mr Rousseau's accusations were become public, the proofs of his justification ought to be so too. Mr Hume did not give into these arguments, choosing rather to run the risk of being unjustly censured, than to resolve on making himself a public party in an affair so contrary to his disposition and character. A new incident, however, at length overcame his reluctance. Mr Rousseau had addressed a letter to a bookseller at Paris, in which he directly accuses Mr Hume of having entered into a league with his enemies to betray and defame him; and in which he boldly defies Mr Hume to print the papers he had in his hands. This letter was communicated to several persons in Paris, was translated into English, and the translation printed in the public papers in London. An accusation and defiance so very public could not be suffered to pass without reply, while any long silence on the part of Mr Hume might have been interpreted little in his favour.

Besides, the news of this dispute had spread itself over Europe, and the opinions entertained of it were various. It had doubtless been much happier, if the whole affair had been buried in oblivion, and remained a profound secret; but as it was impossible to prevent the public interesting itself in the controversy, it became necessary at least that the truth of the matter should be known. Mr Hume's friends unitedly represented to him all these reasons, the force of which he was at length convinced of; and seeing the necessity, consented, though with reluctance, to the printing of his memorial.

The narrative, and notes, are translated from the English. The letters of Mr Rousseau, which serve as authentic proofs of the facts are exact copies of the originals.

This pamphlet contains many strange instances of singularity, that will appear extraordinary enough to those who will give themselves the trouble to peruse it. Those who do not choose to take the trouble, however, may possibly do better, as its contents are of little importance, except to those who are immediately interested.

On the whole, Mr Hume, in offering to the public the genuine pieces of his trial, has authorized us to declare, that he will never take up the pen again on the subject. Mr Rousseau indeed may return to the charge; he may produce suppositions, misconstructions, inferences, and new declamations; he may create and realize new phantoms, and envelop them in the clouds of his rhetoric, he will meet with no more contradiction. The facts are all laid before the public; and Mr Hume submits his cause to the determination of every man of sense and probity.





August 1, 1766.

My connexion with Mr Rousseau began in 1762, when the Parliament of Paris had issued an arrêt for apprehending him, on account of his Emilius. I was at that time at Edinburgh. A person of great worth wrote to me from Paris, that Mr Rousseau intended to seek an asylum in England, and desired I would do him all the good offices in my power. As I conceived Mr Rousseau had actually put his design in execution, I wrote to several of my friends in London, recommending this celebrated exile to their favour. I wrote also immediately to Mr Rousseau himself; assuring him of my desire to oblige, and readiness to serve him. At the same time, I invited him to come to Edinburgh, if the situation would be agreeable, and offered him a retreat in my own house, so long as he should please to partake of it. There needed no other motive to excite me to this act of humanity, than the idea given me of Mr Rousseau's personal character, by the friend who had recommended him, his well known genius and abilities, and above all, his misfortunes; the very cause of which was an additional reason to interest me in his favour. The following is the answer I received.


Motiers-Travers, Feb. 19, 1763.


I did not receive till lately, and at this place, the letter you did me the honour to direct to me at London, the 2d of July last, on the supposition that I was then arrived at that capital. I should doubtless have made choice of a retreat in your country, and as near as possible to yourself, if I had foreseen what a reception I was to meet with in my own. No other nation could claim a preference to England. And this prepossession, for which I have dearly suffered, was at that time too natural not to be very excusable; but, to my great astonishment, as well as that of the public, I have met with nothing but affronts and insults, where I hoped to have found consolation at least, if not gratitude. How many reasons have I not to regret the want of that asylum and philosophical hospitality I should have found with you! My misfortunes, indeed, have constantly seemed to lead me in a manner that way. The protection and kindness of my Lord Marshall, your worthy and illustrious countryman, hath brought Scotland home to me, if I may so express myself, in the midst of Switzerland; he hath made you so often bear a part in our conversation, hath brought me so well acquainted with your virtues, which I before was only with your talents, that he inspired me with the most tender friendship for you, and the most ardent desire of obtaining yours, before I even knew you were disposed to grant it. Judge then of the pleasure I feel, at finding this inclination reciprocal. No, Sir, I should pay your merit but half its due, if it were the subject only of my admiration. Your great impartiality, together with your amazing penetration and genius, would lift you far above the rest of mankind, if you were less attached to them by the goodness of your heart. My Lord Marshal, in acquainting me that the amiableness of your disposition was still greater than the sublimity of your genius, rendered a correspondence with you every day more desirable, and cherished in me those wishes which he inspired, of ending my days near you. Oh, Sir, that a better state of health, and more convenient circumstances, would but enable me to take such a journey in the manner I could like! Could I but hope to see you and my Lord Marshal one day settled in your own country, which should for ever after be mine, I should be thankful, in such a society, for the very misfortunes that led me into it, and should account the day of its commencement as the first of my life. Would to Heaven I might live to see that happy day, though now more to be desired than expected! With what transports should I not exclaim, on setting foot in that happy country which gave birth to David Hume and the Lord Marshal of Scotland!

Salve, facis mihi debita tellus!Hæc domus, hæc patria est.J. J .R.

This letter is not published from a motive of vanity; as will be seen presently, when I give the reader a recantation of all the eulogies it contains; but only to complete the course of our correspondence, and to show that I have been long since disposed to Mr Rousseau's service.

From this time our correspondence entirely ceased, till about the middle of last autumn (1765), when it was renewed by the following accident. A certain lady of Mr Rousseau's acquaintance, being on a journey to one of the French provinces, bordering on Switzerland, had taken that opportunity of paying a visit to our solitary philosopher, in his retreat at Motiers-Travers. To this lady he complained, that his situation in Neufchâtel was become extremely disagreeable, as well on account of the superstition of the people, as the resentment of the clergy; and that he was afraid he should shortly be under the necessity of seeking an asylum elsewhere; in which case, England appeared to him, from the nature of its laws and government, to be the only place to which he could retire with perfect security; adding, that my Lord Marshal, his former protector, had advised him to put himself under my protection, (that was the term he was pleased, to make use of), and that he would accordingly address himself to me, if he thought it would not be giving me too much trouble.

I was at that time charged with the affairs of England at the court of France; but as I had the prospect of soon returning to London, I could not reject a proposal made to me under such circumstances, by a man so celebrated for his genius and misfortunes. As soon as I was thus informed, therefore, of the situation and intentions of Mr Rousseau, I wrote to him, making him an offer of my services; to which he returned the following answer.


Strasbourg, Dec. 4, 1765.


Your goodness affects me as much as it does me honour. The best reply I can make to your offers is to accept them, which I do. I shall set out in five or six days to throw myself into your arms. Such is the advice of my Lord Marshal, my protector, friend and father; it is the advice also of Madam * * *  whose good sense and benevolence serve equally for my direction and consolation; in fine, I may say it is the advice of my own heart, which takes a pleasure in being indebted to the most illustrious of my contemporaries, to a man whose goodness surpasses his glory. I sigh after a solitary and free retirement, wherein I might finish my days in peace. If this be procured me by means of your benevolent solicitude, I shall then enjoy at once the pleasure of the only blessing my heart desires, and also that of being indebted for it to you. I am, Sir, with all my heart, &c.

J. J. R.

Not that I had deferred till this time my endeavours to be useful to Mr Rousseau. The following letter was communicated to me by Mr Clairaut, some weeks before his death.


Motiers-Travers, March 3, 1765.


The remembrance of your former kindness, induces me to be again importunate. It is to desire you will be so good, for the second time, to be the censor of one of my performances. It is a very paltry rhapsody, which I compiled many years ago, under the title of A Musical Dictionary, and am now obliged to republish it for subsistence. Amidst the torrent of misfortunes that overwhelm me, I am not in a situation to review the work; which, I know, is full of oversights and mistakes. If any interest you may take in the lot of the most unfortunate of mankind, should induce you to bestow a little more attention on his work than on that of another, I should be extremely obliged to you, if you would take the trouble to correct such errors as you may meet with in the perusal. To point them out, without correcting them, would be doing nothing, for I am absolutely incapable of paying the least attention to such a work; so that if you would but condescend to alter, add, retrench, and, in short, use it as you would do your own, you would do a great charity, for which I should be extremely thankful. Accept, Sir, my most humble excuses and salutations.

J. J. R.

It is with reluctance I say it, but I am compelled to it; I now know of a certainty that this affectation of extreme poverty and distress was a mere pretence, a petty kind of imposture which Mr Rousseau successfully employed to excite the compassion of the public; but I was then very far from suspecting any such artifice. I must own, I felt on this occasion an emotion of pity, mixed with indignation, to think a man of letters of such eminent merit, should be reduced, in spite of the simplicity of his manner of living, to such extreme indigence; and that this unhappy state should be rendered more intolerable by sickness, by the approach of old age, and the implacable rage of persecution. I knew that many persons imputed the wretchedness of Mr Rousseau to his excessive pride, which induced him to refuse the assistance of his friends; but I thought this fault, if it were a fault, was a very respectable one. Too many men of letters have debased their character in stooping so low as to solicit the assistance of persons of wealth or power, unworthy of affording them protection; and I conceived that a noble pride, even though carried to excess, merited some indulgence in a man of genius, who, borne up by a sense of his own superiority and a love of independence, should have braved the storms of fortune and the insults of mankind. I proposed, therefore, to serve Mr Rousseau in his own way. I desired Mr Clairaut, accordingly, to give me his letter, which I showed to several of Mr Rousseau's friends and patrons in Paris. At the same time I proposed to them a scheme by which he might be relieved, without suspecting any thing of the matter. This was to engage the bookseller, who was to publish his Dictionary, to give Mr Rousseau a greater sum for the copy than he had offered, and to indemnify him by paying him the difference. But this project, which could not be executed without the assistance of Mr Clairaut, fell to the ground at the unexpected decease of that learned and respectable academician.

Retaining, however, still the same idea of Mr Rousseau's excessive poverty, I constantly retained the same inclination to oblige him; and when I was informed of his intention to go to England under my conduct, I formed a scheme much of the same kind with that I could not execute at Paris. I wrote immediately to my friend, Mr John Stewart of Buckingham Street, that I had an affair to communicate to him, of so secret and delicate a nature, that I should not venture even to commit it to paper, but that he might learn the particulars of Mr Elliot (now Sir Gilbert Elliot), who would soon return from Paris to London. The plan was this, and was really communicated by Mr Elliot some time after to Mr Stewart, who was at the same time enjoined to the greatest secrecy.

Mr Stewart was to look out for some honest discreet farmer in his neighbourhood in the country, who might be willing to lodge and board Mr Rousseau and his gouvernante in a very decent and plentiful manner, at a pension which Mr Stewart might settle at fifty or sixty pounds a year; the farmer engaging to keep such agreement a profound secret, and to receive from Mr Rousseau only twenty or twenty-five pounds a year, I engaging to supply the difference.

It was not long before Mr Stewart wrote me word he had found a situation which he conceived might be agreeable; on which I desired he would get the apartment furnished in a proper and convenient manner at my expense. But this scheme, in which there could not possibly enter any motive of vanity on my part, secrecy being a necessary condition of its execution, did not take place, other designs presenting themselves more convenient and agreeable. The fact, however, is well known both to Mr Stewart and Sir Gilbert Elliot.

It will not be improper here to mention another plan concerted with the same intentions. I had accompanied Mr Rousseau into a very pleasant part of the county of Surry, where he spent two days at Colonel Webb's, Mr Rousseau seeming to me highly delighted with the natural and solitary beauties of the place. Through the means of Mr Stewart, therefore, I entered into treaty with Colonel Webb for the purchasing the house, with a little estate adjoining, in order to make a settlement for Mr Rousseau. If, after what has passed, Mr Rousseau's testimony be of any validity, I may appeal to himself for the truth of what I advance. But be this as it will, these facts are well known to Mr Stewart, to General Clarke, and in part to Colonel Webb.

But to proceed in my narrative. Mr Rousseau came to Paris, provided with a passport which his friends had obtained for him. I conducted him to England. For upwards of two months after our arrival, I employed myself and my friends in looking out for some agreeable situation for him. We gave way to all his caprices; excused all his singularities; indulged him in all his humours; in short, neither time nor trouble was spared to procure him what he desired; and, notwithstanding he rejected several of the projects which I had laid out for him, yet I thought myself sufficiently recompensed for my trouble by the gratitude and even affection with which he appeared to repay my solicitude.

At length his present settlement was proposed and approved. Mr Davenport, a gentleman of family, fortune and worth, offered him his house at Wooton, in the county of Derby, where he himself seldom resides, and at which Mr Rousseau and his housekeeper are boarded at a very moderate expense.

When Mr Rousseau arrived at Wooton, he wrote me the following letter.


Wooton, March 22, 1766.

You see already, my dear patron, by the date of my letter, that I am arrived at the place of my destination; but you cannot see all the charms which I find in it. To do this, you should be acquainted with the situation, and be able to read my heart. You ought, however, to read at least those of my sentiments with respect to you, and which you have so well deserved. If I live in this agreeable asylum as happy as I hope to do, one of the greatest pleasures of my life will be, to reflect that I owe it to you. To make another happy, is to deserve to be happy one's self. May you therefore find in yourself the reward of all you have done for me! Had I been alone, I might perhaps have met with hospitality; but I should have never relished it so highly as I now do in owing it to your friendship. Retain still that friendship for me, my dear patron; love me for my sake, who am so much indebted to you; love me for your own, for the good you have done me. I am sensible of the full value of your sincere friendship: it is the object of my ardent wishes: I am ready to repay it with all mine, and feel something in my heart which may one day convince you that it is not without