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Μ Υ Ο W N
T is difficult for a man to speak long of himself
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 poffelles 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 Nender. a 3
My 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 unsurinountable 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 Nender 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 uniinpaired my independency, and to regard every object as contemptible, except the improvement of
talents in literature. During my retreat in France, first at Rheims, but chiefly at La Fleche, in Anjou, I composed