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him from offering to you, and to engage your acquaintance to purchase them.
But, dear sir, I would fain go further. I would fain presume upon our friendship (which now begins to be ancient between us) and recommend to your civilities a man who does honour to his country by his talents, and disgraces it by the little encouragement he has hitherto met with. He is a man of very extensive knowledge, and of singular good dispositions; and his poetical, though very much to be admired, is the least part of his merit. He is very well qualified to instruct youth, by his acquaintance both with the languages and sciences; and possesses so many arts of supplying the want of sight, that the imperfection would be no hinderance. Perhaps he may entertain some such project in Dumfries, and be assured you could not do your friends a more real service than by recommending them to him. Whatever scbeme he may choose to embrace, I was desirous you should be prepossest in his favour, and be willing to lend him your countenance and protection, which, I am sensible, would be of great advantage to him.
Since I saw you, I have not been idle. I have endeavoured to make some use of the library *, which was entrusted to me, and have employed myself in a composition of British history, beginning with the union of the two crowns.
I have finished the reign of James and Charles, and will soon send them to the press. I have
* The Advocates' Library, in which, for a time, Mr. Home held a situation.
the impudence to pretend that I am of no party, and have no bias. Lord Elibank says that I am a moderate Whig, and Mr. Wallace, that I am a candid Tory.
I was extremely sorry that I could not recommend your friend to director Hume, as Mr. Cummin desired me. I have never exchanged a word with that gentleman since I carried Jemmy Kirk. patrick to him, and our acquaintance has entirely dropped. I am, dear sir, your most affectio friend and humble servant,
DAVID HUME TO DR. ADAM SMITH.
1759. I give you thanks for the agreeable present of your Theory (“ The Theory of Moral Sentiments”). Wedderburn and I made presents of our copies to such of our acquaintances as we thought good judges, and proper to spread the reputation of the book. I sent one to the duke of Argyle, to Lord Lyttleton, Horace Walpole, Soame Jenyns, and Burke, an Irish gentleman, who wrote lately a very pretty Treatise on the Sublime. Millar desired my permission to send one in your name to Dr. Warburton. I have delayed writing to you till I could tell something of the success of the book, and could prognosticate with some probability, whether it should be finally damned to oblivion, or should be registered in the temple of immortality. Though it has been published only a few weeks, I think there appears already such strong symptoms, that I can almost venture to foretell its fate. It is in short this - But I have been interrupted in my letter by a foolish impertinent visit of one who has lately come from Scotland. He tells me that the university of Glasgow intend to declare Ronet's office vacant, upon his going abroad with Lord Hope. I question not but you will have our friend Ferguson in your eye, in case another project for procuring him a place in the university of Edinburgb should fail. Ferguson has very much polished and improved his Treatise on Refinement, and with some amendments it will make an admirable book, and discovers an elegant and a singular genius. The Epigoniad, I hope, will do; but it is somewhat up-hill work. As I doubt not but you consult the Reviews sometimes at present, you will see in the Critical Review a letter upon that poem; and I desire you to employ your conjectures in finding out the author. Let me see a sample of your skill in knowing hands by your guessing at the person. afraid of Lord Kame's Law Tracts.
A man might as well think of making a fine sauce by a mixture of wormwood and aloes, as an agreeable composition by joining metaphysics and Scotch law. However, the book, I believe, has merit, though few people will take the pains of diving into it.
But to return to your book, and its success in this town, I must tell you A plague of interruption ! I ordered myself to be denied,and yet here is one that has broke in upon me again. He is a man of letters, and we have had
a great deal of literary conversation. You told me that you were curious of literary anecdotes, and therefore I shall inform you of a few that have come to my knowledge. I believe I have mentioned to you already Helvetius's book De l'Esprit. It is worth your reading, not for its philosophy, which I do not highly value, but for its agreeable composition. I had a letter from him a few days ago, wherein he tells me that my name was much oftener in the manuscript, but that the censor of books at Paris obliged him to strike it out. Voltaire has lately published a small work called Candide, ou l'Optimisme. I shall give you a detail of it.—But what is all this to my book ? you say. My dear Mr. Smith, have patience : compose yourself to tranquillity : show yourself a philosopher in practice as well as profession. Think on the emptiness, and rashness, and futility of the common judgments of men : how little they are regulated by reason in any subject, much more in philosophical subjects, which so far exceed the comprehension of the vulgar:
Non si quid turbida Roma
Castiges trutina : nec te quæsiveris extra. A wise man's kingdom is his own breast; or, if he looks farther, it will only be to the judgment of a select few, who are free from prejudices, and capable of examining his work. Nothing indeed can be a stronger presumption of falsehood than the approbation of the multitude; and Phocion, you know, always suspected himself of some
blunder, when he was attended with the applauses of the populace.
Supposing, therefore, that you have duly prepared yourself for the worst by all these reflections, I proceed to tell you the melancholy news, that your book has been very unfortunate ; for the public seem disposed to applaud it extremely. It was looked for by the foolish people with some impatience; and the mob of literati are already beginning to be very loud in its praises. Three bishops called yesterday at Millar's shop, in order to buy copies, and to ask questions about the author. The bishop of Peterborough said he had passed the evening in a company where he heard it extolled above all the books in the world. The duke of Argyle is more decisive than he uses to be in its favour. I suppose he either considers it an exotic, or thinks the author will be serviceable to him in the Glasgow elections. Lord Lyttleton says, that Robertson and Smith and Bower are the glories of English literature. Oswald protests he does not know whether he has reaped more instruction or en. tertainment from it. But you may easily judge what reliance can be put on bis judgment, who has been engaged all his life in public business, and who never sees any faults in his friends. Millar exults and brags that two thirds of the edition are already sold, and that he is now sure of success. You see what a son of the earth that is, to value books only by the profit they bring him. In that view, I believe it may prove a good book.
Charles Townshend, who passes for the clever