David HUME, ,Philosopher

David HUME, ,Philosopher[1]

Male 1711 - 1776  (65 years)

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  • Name David HUME 
    Suffix ,Philosopher 
    Born 26 Apr 1711 
    Gender Male 
    _UID 4A526C1F6CF343C0BEDC87FC40F07B81D219 
    Died 25 Aug 1776  Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Old Calton Cem., Waterloo Palace, Edinburgh, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I1852  Clan Home Genealogy
    Last Modified 20 Aug 2006 

    Father Joseph HOME, 10th of Ninewells,   b. 10 Feb 1681, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aug 1713  (Age 32 years) 
    Mother Catherine FALCONER,   b. 4 Oct 1683, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1745  (Age 61 years) 
    Married 4 Jan 1708  Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Family ID F1181  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsDied - 25 Aug 1776 - Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Old Calton Cem., Waterloo Palace, Edinburgh, Scotland Link to Google Earth
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  • Photos
    David Hume
    David Hume
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  • Notes 
    • BIOGRAPHY:
      David Hume was born in 1711 to a moderately wealthy family from Berwickshire Scotland, near Edinburgh. His background was politically Whiggish and religiously Calvinistic. As a child he faithfully attended the local Church of Scotland pastored by his uncle. Hume was educated by his widowed mother until he left for the University of Edinburgh at the age of eleven. His letters describe how as a young student he took religion seriously and obediently followed a list of moral guidelines taken from The Whole Duty of Man, a popular Calvinistic devotional.
      Leaving the University of Edinburgh at around age fifteen to pursue his education privately, he was encouraged to consider a career in law, but his interests turned to philosophy. During these years of private study he began raising serious questions about religion, as he recounts in the following letter:
      Tis not long ago that I burn'd an old Manuscript Book, wrote before I was twenty; which contain'd, Page after Page, the gradual Progress of my Thoughts on that head [i.e. religious belief]. It begun with an anxious Search after Arguments, to confirm the common Opinion: Doubts stole in, dissipated, return'd, were again dissipated, return'd again.
      Although his manuscript book was destroyed, several pages of Hume's study notes survive from his early twenties. These show a preoccupation with the subjects of proof of God's existence and atheism, particularly as he read on these topics in classical Greek and Latin texts and in Pierre Bayle's skeptical Historical and Critical Dictionary. During these years of private study, some of which was in France, Hume composed his three-volume Treatise of Human Nature, which was published anonymously in two installments before he was thirty (1739, 1740). The Treatise explores several philosophical topics such as space, time, causality, external objects, the passions, free will, and morality, offering original and often skeptical appraisals of these notions. Although religious belief is not the subject of any specific section of the Treatise, it is a recurring theme. Book I of the Treatise was unfavorably reviewed in the History of the Works of the Learned with a succession of sarcastic comments. Although scholars today recognize it as a philosophical masterpiece, Hume was disappointed with the minimal interest his book spawned.
      In 1741 and 1742 Hume published his two-volume Essays, Moral and Political. The essays were written in a popular style and met with better success than the Treatise. In 1744-1745 Hume was a candidate for the Chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. The position was to be vacated by John Pringle, and the leading candidates were Hume and William Cleghorn. The Edinburgh Town Council was responsible for electing a replacement. Critics opposed Hume by condemning his anti-religious writings. Chief among the critics was clergyman William Wishart (d. 1752), the Principal of the University of Edinburgh. Lists of allegedly dangerous propositions from Hume's Treatise circulated, presumably penned by Wishart. In the face of such strong opposition, the Edinburgh Town Council consulted the Edinburgh ministers. Hoping to win over the clergy, Hume composed a point by point reply to the circulating lists of dangerous propositions. It was published as A Letter from a Gentleman to his Friend in Edinburgh. The clergy were not dissuaded, and 12 of the 15 ministers voted against Hume. Hume quickly withdrew his candidacy. In 1745 Hume accepted an invitation from General St Clair to attend him as secretary. He wore the uniform of an officer, and accompanied the general on an expedition against Canada (which ended in an incursion on the coast of France) and to an embassy post in the courts of Vienna and Turin.
      In 1748 he added to the above collection an essay titled "Of National Characters." In a lengthy footnote to this piece, Hume attacks the character of the clergy, accusing this profession of being motivated by ambition, conceit, and revenge. This footnote became a favorite target of attack by the clergy. Given the success of his Essays, Hume was convinced that the poor reception of his Treatise was caused by its style rather than by its content. In 1748 he published his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, a more popular rendition of Book I of his Treatise. The Enquiry also includes two sections not found in the Treatise and which contain fairly direct attacks on religious belief: "Of Miracles" and a dialogue titled "Of a Particular Providence and of a Future State."
      In 1751 Hume published his Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, which recasts in a very different form parts of Book III of his Treatise. Although this work does not attack religion directly, it does so indirectly by establishing a system of morality on utility and human sentiments alone, and without appeal to divine moral commands. Critics such as James Balfour criticized Hume's theory for being Godless. However, by the end of the century Hume was recognized as the founder of the moral theory of utility. Utilitarian political theorist Jeremy Bentham acknowledges Hume's direct influence upon him. The same year Hume also published his Political Discourses, which drew immediate praise and influenced economic thinkers such as Adam Smith, Godwin, and Thomas Malthus.
      In 1751-1752 Hume sought a philosophy chair at the University of Glasgow, and was again unsuccessful. In 1752 Hume's employment as librarian of the Advocate's Library in Edinburgh provided him with the resources to pursue his interest in history. There he wrote much of his highly successful six-volume History of England (published from 1754 to 1762). The first volume was unfavorably received, partially for its defense of Charles I, and partially for two sections which attack Christianity. In one passage Hume notes that the first Protestant reformers were fanatical or "inflamed with the highest enthusiasm" in their opposition to Roman Catholic domination. In the second passage he labels Roman Catholicism a superstition which "like all other species of superstition... rouses the vain fears of unhappy mortals." The most vocal attack against Hume's History came from Daniel MacQueen in his 300 page Letters on Mr. Hume's History. MacQueen combs through Hume's first volume of the History, exposing all the allegedly "loose and irreligious sneers" Hume makes against Christianity. Ultimately, this negative response led Hume to delete the two controversial passages from succeeding editions of the History.
      At about this time Hume also wrote his two most substantial works on religion: The Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and The Natural History of Religion. The Natural History appeared in 1757, but, on the advice of friends who wished to steer Hume away from religious controversy, the Dialogues remained unpublished until 1779, three years after his death. The Natural History aroused controversy even before it was made public. In 1756 a volume of Hume's essays titled Five Dissertations was printed and ready for distribution. The essays included (1) "The Natural History of Religion," (2) "Of the Passions," (3) "Of Tragedy," (4) "Of Suicide," and (5) "Of the Immortality of the Soul." The latter two essays made direct attacks on common religious doctrines by defending a person's moral right to commit suicide and by criticizing the idea of life after death. Early copies were passed around, and someone of influence threatened to prosecute Hume's publisher if the book was distributed as is. The printed copies of Five Dissertations were then physically altered, with a new essay "Of the Standard of Taste" inserted in place of the two removed essays. Hume also took this opportunity to alter two particularly offending paragraphs in the Natural History. The essays were then bound with the new title Four Dissertations and distributed in January, 1757.
      In the years following Four Dissertations, Hume completed his last major literary work, The History of England. In 1763, at age 50, Hume was invited to accompany the Earl of Hertford to the embassy to Paris, with a near prospect of being his secretary. He eventually accepted, and remarks at the reception he received in Paris "from men and women of all ranks and stations." returned to Edinburgh in 1766. Among these was Jean Jacques Rousseau who in 1766 was ordered out of Switzerland by the government in Berne. Hume offered Rousseau refuge in England and secured him a government pension. In England, Rousseau became suspicious of plots, and publicly charged Hume with conspiring to ruin his character, under the appearance of helping him. Hume published a pamphlet defending his actions and was exonerated. Another secretary appointment took him away from 1767-1768. Returning again to Edinburgh, his remaining years were spent revising and refining his published works, and socializing with friends in Edinburgh's intellectual circles. In 1776, at age 65, he died from an internal disorder which had plagued him for many months.
      After his death, Hume's name took on new significance as several of his previously unpublished works appeared. The first was a brief autobiography, My Own Life, which many have praised as the best short autobiography in English. Even this unpretentious work aroused religious controversy. As Hume's friends, Adam Smith and S.J. Pratt, published affectionate eulogies describing how he died with no concern for an afterlife, religious critics responded by condemning this unjustifiable admiration of Hume's infidelity. Two years later, in 1779, Hume's Dialogues appeared. Again, the response was mixed. Admirers of Hume considered it a masterfully written work, while religious critics branded it as dangerous to religion. Finally, in 1782, Hume's two suppressed essays on suicide and immortality were published. Their reception was almost unanimously negative.

      NOTES:
      Published Works of David Hume
      1. A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects, 3 volumes; volumes 1 and 2 (London, John Noon, 1739); volume 3 (London, Thomas Longman, 1740). 2. An Abstract of a Book Lately Published, Entitled, a Treatise of Human Nature, etc. Wherein the Chief Argument of That Book his Farther Illustrated and Explained (London, C. Corbet, 1740). .
      3. Essays, Moral and Political, 2 volumes; volume 1 (Edinburgh, A. Kincaid; revised 1742); volume 2 (Edinburgh, A. Kincaid, 1742); volumes 1 and 2 republished with Three Essays, Moral and Political (1748) as Essays, Moral and Political, third edition, corrected, with additions, 1 volume (London, A. Millar, Edinburgh, A. Kincaid, 1748).
      4. A Letter from a Gentleman to His Friend in Edinburgh; Containing Some Observations on a Specimen of the Principles Concerning Religion and Morality Said to be Maintain'd in a Book Lately Publish's Intitled, A Treatise of Human Nature, etc. (Edinburgh, 1745).
      5. A True Account of the Behaviour and Conduct of Archibald Steward, Esq.; late Lord Provost of Edinburgh (London, M. Cooper, 1748). 6. Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding (London, A. Millar, 1748) revised edition (London, M. Cooper, 1751); republished as An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding in Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects (London, A. Millar, Edinburgh, A. Kincaid & A. Donaldson, 1758). 7. Three Essays, Moral and Political (London, A. Millar, Edinburgh, A. Kincaid, 1748). 8. An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (London, A. Millar, 1751). . 9. Political Discourses (Edinburgh, A. Kincaid & A. Donaldson, 1752).
      10. Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects, 4 volumes, (London, A. Millar, Edinburgh, A. Kincaid & A. Donaldson, 1753) revised 1753-1756; revised again 1 volume, 1758; revised again, 4 volumes, 1760; revised again, 2 volumes, 1764; revised again (London, A. Millar, Edinburgh, A. Kincaid, J. Bell & A. Donaldson, 1768) revised again, 4 volumes (London, T. Cadell, Edinburgh, A. Kincaid & A. Donaldson, 1770) revised posthumous edition, 2 volumes, with author's last corrections (London, T. Cadell, Edinburgh, A. Donaldson & W. Creech, 1777). 11. The History of Great Britain, vol 1, Containing the Commonwealth and the Reigns of Charles II and James II (London, A. Millar, 1757) revised 1759. 12. Four Dissertations (London, A. Millar, 1757). .
      13. The History of England under the House of Tudor, 2 volumes, (London, A. Millar, 1759).
      14. The History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Accession of Henry VII, 2 volumes (London, A. Millar, 1762). 15. The History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688, 6 volumes (London, A. Millar, 1762) revised, 8 volumes, 1763; posthumous edition with author's last revisions, (London, T. Cadell, 1778). 16. Expos? succinct de la contestation qui s'est ?l?v?e entre M. Hume et M. Rousseau avec les pieces justicatives (Paris, 1766), English edition, A Concise and Genuine Account of the Dispute between Mr Hume and Mr Rousseau (London, T. Becket & P.A. De Hondt, 1766). 17. The Life of David Hume, Esq. Written by Himself (London, W. Strahan & T. Caddell, 1777).
      18. Two Essays, (London, 1777)
      19. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (London, Robinson, 1779). .
      20. The Natural History of Religion, edited by H.E. Root (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1957).
      21. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, edited by Norman Kemp Smith (Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill, 1962).

      !AUTOBIOGRAPHY:
      My Own Life
      by David Hume
      1776
      .
      .
      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 writing 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 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 insurmountable aversion to every thing but the pursuits of philosophy and general learning; and while they fancied I was poring upon Voet and Vinius, 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 several 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 improvements of my talents in literature.
      During my retreat in France, first at Rheims, but chiefly at La Fl?che, 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 ardor my studies in the country. In 1742, I printed at Edinburgh, the first part of my Essays. The work was favorably 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 twelve month. 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 is 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 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 favorable than unfavorable 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 at home and abroad. 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 seventeen hundred 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 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 clamor, 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 clamor 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 anything 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 retailing 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 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 humor'.
      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 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 charg? 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 undersecretary; 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 ardor as ever in study, and the same gayety 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 luster, I know 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 disposition, of command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humor, 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.


      David entered a mercantile house in Bristol in 1734, but he was not sufficiently industrious to follow trade and literature too; he therefore went abroad, and lived in France, because he could do so at less expense, where he composed a sceptical treatise, and returned home in 1737 to publish it. This was refuted by Bishop Warburton. In 1747, he accompanied General Sinclair on an embassy to Turin, where he continued to compose infidel essays, which he subsequently published. In 1761 he completed an History of England. In 1763 he accompanied Lord Hertford as Secretary of Embassy to Paris, and in 1767 he was appointed Under Secretary of State. Two years afterwards, he returned to Edinburgh, and died in 1776. The reasons for his doubts on the truth of miracles have been admirably ridiculed by Archbishop Whately, in his work entitled "Historic Doubts concerning Napoleon Buonaparte," in which the Archbishop has shewn that all the data neccessary, accorfing to Hume, to prove the authenticity of a miracle, were equally wanting to prove to an Englishman, who has never travelled out of England, the existence of the Emperor of the French. David Hume was a kindhearted man, and possessed of a most equable temper. He was buried according to his own orders, in a perpendicular tomb built round him above ground in Edinburgh. None of his works sold when they first appeared, and his literary reputation advanced very slowly.
      [Drummond's Histories of Noble British Families, William Pickering, London, 1844, Part VI., Dunbar, Hume and Dundas Families]



      Testament of David Hume, Edinburgh Commissary Court CC8/8/125/2 pp 858-868
      The Testament Testamentor and Inventary of the debt and Sums of Money which were addebted and resting owing to Umq[ui]le David Hume Second lawful Son of Joseph Hume of Ninewells Advocate at the time of his decease who deceased Upon the day of one thousand Seven hundred and Seventy Six years Made and given up by himself Upon the fourth day of January one thousand Seven hundred and Seventy Six Years In so far as concerns the Nomination of his Executor And now Faithfully made and given up by John Home of Ninewells Brother of the Said Umq[ui]le David Hume In so far as concerns the Inventary of the Said defunct his debts and Sums of Money after written Which John Home of Ninewells He the Said Umq[ui]le David Hume did nominate and appoint to be his sole Executor and universal Legatee And that by his last Will and Settlement bearing date the Said fourth day of January one thousand Seven hundred and Seventy Six years Registered in the Books of Councill and Session the twenty ninth day of August one thousand Seven hundred and Seventy Six years which Is hereafter Ingrost
      Follows the Inventory
      In the first the said Umq[ui]le David Hume had addebted and resting owing to him at the time of his decease foresaid the debt and Sums of money after mentioned Vizt the Sum of Seventeen hundred pounds Sterling Contained in a Bond Granted by the Right Honourable the Earl of Wemyss to the Honourable James Wemyss his Second Son dated the twenty Seventh day of December one thousand Seven hundred and fourty nine years and Registered in the Books of Session the nineteenth day of November one thousand Seven hundred and Sixty Six years. Which Bond and Sums therein contained was assigned by the said James Wemyss To and in favor of Hugh Dalrymple of Fordyell Esq[i]r[e] conform to assignation dated the twenty fourth day of August one thousand Seven hundred and Sixty one and Registered in the Books of Session the Nineteenth day of November one thousand Seven hundred and Sixty Six years And which Sum is also contained in a Bond of Corrobaration by the Said James Wemyss to the Said Hugh Dalrymple dated the Said twenty fourth day of August one thousand Seven hundred and Sixty one and Registered in the Books of Council the Said nineteenth day of November one thousand Seven hundred and Sixty Six years ?In and to which Principal Bond assignation and Bond of Corrobaration above narrated the said Umq[ui]le David Hume had right by Translation Granted by the Said Hugh Dalrymple in favor of the Said defunct leaving date the eighteenth day of November one thousand Seven hundred and Sixty Six and Registered in the Books of Councill and Session the nineteenth day of Said Month and year Extending the Said principall Sum of Seventeen hundred pounds Sterling In Scots money to twenty thousand four hundred pounds ?
      Summa of the }XXM IV C Lib
      Debt resting to the Dead
      Follows the Defuncts Disposition and Settlement
      I David Hume Second lawfull son of Joseph Hume of Ninewells Advocate for the love and affection I bear to John Hume of Ninewells My Brother and for other causes, Do by these presents under the reservations and burdens after mentioned Give and dispone to the Said John Hume or if he die before me, to David Home his Second Son his heirs and assignees whatsomever all Lands heretages debts and Sums of Money as well heretable as moveable which shall belong to me at the time of my death as also my whole Effects in general real and personal with and under the burden of the following Legacies Vizt To my Sister Katharine Hume the Sum of twelve hundred pounds Sterling payable at the first term of whitsunday or Martinmas after my decease together with all my English books, and the live rent of My house in James?s Court or in case that house be Sold at the time of my decease, twenty pound Sterling a year during the whole course of her life ? To my Friend Adam Ferguson Proffessor of Moral Philosophy in the Colledge of Edinburgh two hundred pounds Sterling To my Friend M. Dalembert Member of the French Academy and of the Academy of Sciences in Parish two hundred Pounds ? To My Friend Dr. Adam Smith late Proffessor 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 this I can trust to that Intimate and Sincere Friendship which has ever Subsisted between us for his faithfull execution of this part of My will, Yet as a small recompense for his pains in Correcting and publishing this work I leave him two hundred pounds Sterling to be paid immediately after the publication of it I also leave to Mrs. Ann and Mrs. Janet Hepburns Daughters of Mr. James Hepburns 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 years wages and to My housekeeper Margaret Irvine three years 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 return it in his hand And pay her the legal Interest Upon it till the demand the principle, 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 Brothers 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 foresaid Legacies with the payment of the Sums following To his Brother Joseph and John a thousand pounds a piece ? To his Sisters Katharine and agnes, five hundred pounds a piece, All which Sums as well as every Sum contained in this present disposition (except that to Dr. Smith) to be payable on the first term of Whitsunday or Martinmas after My decease and all of them without exception in Sterling Money, And I do hereby Nominate And appoint the Said John Hume My Brother and failing of him by decease the Said David Hume 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 in My life even in death bed 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 evident albeit found in My Custody or in the Custody of Any other person at the time of My death Consenting to the Registration hereof in the Books of Councill and Session or other Judges Books Competent therein to remain for preservation And thereto I Constitute
      Procurators In witness whereof these My presents consisting of this And the preceeding page Are written And Subscribed by Me this fourth day of January one thousand Seven hundred and Seventy Six years Att Edinburgh Before these witnesses the Right Honourable the Earl of Home and Mr. John Mc Gowan Clerk to the Signet (Signed) David Hume ? Home witnesses Jo. Mc Gowan witnesses ? day and date as above I also ordain that if I die any where in Scotland I Shall be buried in a private Manner in the Calton Church Yard, the South Side of it, And a Monument be built over My Body at an expence not exceeding one 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 (Signed) David Hume ? At Edinburgh the fifteenth day of April one thousand Seven hundred and Seventy Six I also leave for rebuilding the Bridge of Chirnside the Sum of one hundred pound but in 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 Chirnside To My Sister Instead of all My English books I leave her a [?]ind red 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 (Signed) David Hume
      Master Andrew Balfour &c Cautioner
      8th March 1781

  • Sources 
    1. [S15] Histories of Noble British Families, Henry Drummond, (Part VI, London, William Pickering, 1844, (Folio), pp. 1-44.), Page 26 (Reliability: 0).