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In the following work I have introduced Mr. Hume's epistolary correspondence into the narrative, instead of relegating it to the appendix. The letters of a man, eminent for his learning and talents, form an interesting part of his biography; yet, when a collection of them is given without any connecting detail, every one must feel, that their value is considerably diminished : few indeed have perseverance to peruse them. By the plan I have adopted, the volume ftill remains the same in point of fize; but the reader becomes progressively acquainted with the literary connections of Mr. Hume, the habits of him and his friends, and numberless traits in their characters, which could not be easily or advantageously compressed into history.




In the biographical sketch, drawn up by Mr. Hume previous to his death, and intitled My own Life, he has passed over unnoticed two very important incidents. The first of these is the complaint presented to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, against the metaphysical writings of our author and Lord Kames; an occurrence which derives additional importance from a late difcussion of a like nature before that venerable body. The other is the dispute between him and Rousseau, which it was the more necelsary to relace at considerable length, as an opinion, unfavourable to Mr. Hume, prevailed very generally, and even still prevails, among the literati in foreign countries. A sentiment of delicacy seems to have restrained him from alluding to these transactions, but such a motive cannot influence a stranger ; and a similar omission in a Life of Mr. Hume, written by another person, would certainly render the work very imperfect.


Belhaven Barracks, Dunbar,

March 1, 1807.


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