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DAVID HUME, the second son of Joseph Hume, Esq. was born at Edinburgh on the 26th of April, 0. S. 1711. His ancestors, for several generations, had been proprietors of a small estate called Ninewells, lying on the river Whitwater, about five miles to the east of Dunse, in the county of Berwick; and this estate is still enjoyed by their posterity. At a short distance from Ninewells, stands the mansion-house of Kames, which belonged to the late Henry Home, who, under the title of Lord Kames, officially assumed by him as a lord of session, or judge of the supreme court of justice in Scotland, is so well known in the republic of letters, as a philosopher,
a lawyer, a lawyer, and a man of taste. His lord ship was the contemporary and intimate friend of our historian.
The family name of Hume's mother was Fal
She was the daughter of Sir David Falconer, who was appointed a lord of session, by the title of Lord Newton, on the urth of June 1676, and six years afterwards raised to the chair of president of that court. Sir David died in 1685, and was succeeded in his office by Sir George Lockhart of Carnwath. The title of Lord Halkerston devolved by succession on his eldest son; and it may also be mentioned, that Mr. Hume's father claimed his descent from the noble family of Home *: a circumstance which derives its importance solely from the family pride, or, more properly speaking, from the vanity of our author, who, during the whole course of his life, valued himself not a little on this double connection with nobility
It is a common practice with biographers to push their researches, with much avidity and perseverance, into the earlier periods of the lives of those whose transactions they relate. This industry may, perhaps, be occasionally rewarded by the discovery of some fortuitous incident worthy of being commemorated; but it is beneath the dignity of maturer age to record the frivolities of childhood. The juvenile years of Hume were not marked by any thing which can attract our notice. His father died while our historian was an infant, and left the care of him, his elder brother Joseph, and fister Catharine, to their mother, who, although still in the bloom of life, de. voted herself to the education of her children with a laudable assiduity.
* The family of Ninewells seem, from our author's last will and testament, to have spelt the name Home instead of Hume : but as David was remarkably pertinacious in writing his name Hume, his relations have fince followed his example.
Under this maternal superintendence, aided by the instruction which a country school could afford, Hume spent his first years. If he had, on attain. ing manhood, cultivated poetry with success, instead of attaching himself to the severer studies of the philosophical historian, a credulous biographer, yielding to the surmises of fancy, would have traced a final cause to the sequeftered scene of our author's youthful days; for the pleasures of Arcadia were not unknown to the country surrounding Ninewells, notwithstanding the sterility to which it had been condemned according to the fate of those tracts of land which border hostile states. The valley and the mountain's fide still resounded with the notes of the shepherd's pipe: every streamlet was immortalized in our national songs; and every height and every heath had been the scene of battle between the armies of the two rival kingdoms, or of the more fanguinary exploits of the lawless marauders.