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I intend to make some considerable alterations on some parts of them.
“I hope Mrs. Millar intends to pay us a visit next summer, and that you will be of the party. Please make my most sincere respects to her. I am, dear Sir,” &c.
HUME to ANDREW MILLAR.
“8th April, 1762. "I shall answer your story of Charles Townsend very fully, by another story of the same gentleman. Three years ago, when I was in London, I was told by a friend, that Mr. Townsend said, that my History of the Stuarts (the only one then published,) was full of gross
blunders in the facts: he had consulted all the authentic documents, particularly the journals of the House of Commons, and found it so.
When I made light of this information, as knowing somewhat of Mr. Townsend's hasty manner of speaking, my friend said, that I ought not so much to neglect the matter; because Mr. Townsend had told him that Mr. Dyson, clerk to the House of Commons, a man of knowledge and solidity, had made to him the same observation. I was a little surprised and alarmed at this; and I went to Mr. Elliot, whom I desired to speak to Mr. Dyson, and to tell him that there was nothing in the world I desired so much as to be informed of my errors, and that he would oblige me extremely by pointing out those mistakes. Mr. Dyson replied, that he had never in his life spoke of the matter to Mr. Townsend; and that though he differed from me in my reasonings and views of the constitution, he had observed no blunders in facts, except one with regard to the dispensing power : which, by the bye, was the one also remarked to me by the Speaker, and which I corrected in the second edition. It was not an error with regard to the reign of James Second, but with regard to that of King William, which I had not sufficiently examined. I assure you there is not a quotation that I did not see with mine own eyes, except two or three at most, which I took from Tyrrel or Brady, because I had not the books referred to. That there is no mistake in such a number of references, would be rash or even absurd to affirm: that the printer also has not sometimes made mistakes in the name of the author or in the number of the page quoted, is what I. dare not aver: for I only compared the sheet now and then with my manuscript, and was contented to be as correct as possible in the text. I knew that these mistakes could neither be frequent nor material. But if people, finding a few here and there, point them out, and give them as a specimen of the whole, I know no remedy for this malice, but to allow them to go on. Men of candour will judge otherwise without scrutiny: and men of diligence and industry will find that the case is otherwise, upon scrutiny."
1 MS. R.S.E.
“I have heard of Charles Townsend's extolling and decrying me alternately, according as the humour bites; and all the world knows this to be his char
" It must be observed, that this method of referring to authorities and collating them, is, even by Hume's account of it, one which a scrupulous investigator would call slovenly. The admission of any authorities at second hand is, to the extent to which it may be carried, a breach of the historian's duty. To make sure that he had rightly estimated their meaning on a first perusal, he should have collated all his references in proof.
acter. He is perhaps angry with me at present, because I did not wait of him when I was in London. It is strange, that great men in England should slight and neglect men of letters when they pay court to them, and rail at them when they do not. I have a regard to Mr. Townsend as a man of parts, I believe of very great parts; but I attach myself to no great man, and visit none of them but such as happen to be my friends, and particular acquaintance. I wish they would consider me as equally independent with themselves, or more so. However, there is no necessity of enraging Mr. Townsend farther by the story I told you in the first paragraph ; and therefore I would not have you communicate it to any body, except a very particular friend whom you can trust. You may read the second paragraph to every body."1
In the following letter to Millar, we find him professing his ignorance of the practical application of the fine arts in engraving. Although he has written on the philosophy of taste, we find no traces in his writings of what the Germans have denominated the aesthetic; no sense of an internal emotion arising from the contemplation of works of art. In his travels, he had an opportunity of seeing many fine pictures, but he never mentions one; and it does not appear, from any incident in his life, or allusion in his letters, which I can remember, that he had ever really admired a picture or a statue.?
1 MS. R.S.E.
. In a letter to Millar, dated 8th October, 1763, he says, on the occasion of receiving a copy of a series of engravings, which have not yet been surpassed, “I have been obliged to Mr. Strange for a present of all his prints. He is a very worthy man, whom I value much, and therefore I desire you would send him a copy of this new edition of my History.”
HUME to ANDREW MILLAR.
“ Edinburgh, 17th May, 1762. “I like much better your publishing in volumes than in numbers. Though this last method has been often practised, it has somewhat of a quackish air, which you have always avoided, as well as myself. I know not what to do for frontispieces; I have no manner of skill myself in designing, and am not able to point out the most proper subjects, nor the method of executing them. On the whole, I think it an expense which may be spared; but if you continue in the resolution of having some such ornament, I could write a letter to Allan Ramsay, who, I hope, would take the pains of directing the engraver. As to my head, I think that also a superfluous expense; and as there is no picture of me in London, I know not how it can be executed: with submission to you, would it not be better to throw these charges on the paper and print? I do not imagine, because these ornaments have helped off the sale of Smollett's History, that mine would be the better for them. These arts are seldom practised twice with the same success.
"I do not lose view of my design to continue my History, at least for two reigns more; but I question whether party prejudices with regard to me, are as yet sufficiently subsided, to enable me to carry on that work, without meeting with repulses and disgusts from those who have the materials in their power, which must serve for the foundation of my narrative: a little farther time will, I hope, operate that effect.”
* In a letter to Millar, of 6th April, 1758, (MS. R.S.E.) he thus alludes to Smollett's work : “I am afraid the extraordinary run upon Dr. Smollett, has a little hurt your sales; but these things are only temporary."
He concludes this letter by saying, “I remove my house this week to James's Court.”
Entering a low gateway which pierces the line of lofty houses along the Lawnmarket, one finds oneself in a square court, surrounded by houses, which have now evidently fallen to the lot of humbler inhabitants than those for whom they were erected. These spaces, walled off by the intervening houses from the main street, were in the Scottish metropolis, like the similar edifices of the French nobility, frequently designed with the view of protecting those who dwelt within the gate from the unwelcome intrusion of either legal or illegal force. But it is probable that James's Court scarcely dates back to times so lawless, and that it was built early in the eighteenth century. The plan of a closed court was, perhaps, adopted as a means of enabling a small community to have the civic functions of lighting and cleaning performed more accurately than they were then administered to the inhabitants at large.
Entering one of the doors opposite the main entrance, the stranger is sometimes led by a friend, wishing to afford him an agreeable surprise, down flight after flight of the steps of a stone staircase, and when he imagines he is descending so far into the bowels of the earth, he emerges on the edge of a cheerful crowded thoroughfare, connecting together the Old and New Town; the latter of which lies spread before him, a contrast to the gloom from which he has emerged. When he looks up to the building containing the upright street through which he has descended, he sees that vast pile of tall houses standing at the head of the Mound, which creates astonishment in every visiter of Edinburgh. This vast fabric is built on the declivity of a hill, and thus one entering