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the state, it has the power of the state in all iis institutions and proceedings, and can either inflict punishment by a process df its own, or consign the offender over to the civil magistrate. If the excommunication, which would have followed the success of the proposed measure against Hume and Kames, had amounted to no more than purely an ecclesiastical anathema, the expression merely of the typinimi of the clerical body, they would have laughed at the church and all its assemblies and debates \ but as the case stood, they both felt no little anxiety \ for, as Mr. Ritchie observes, "when their adversaries were armed withasentence of excommunication, they had it in their power to institute a criminal process in the ordinary courts of justice. Similar measures of severity had not unfrequently been resorted to in England, where Woblston had not only been exalted to the pillory, but bore on his person manifest evidence of the humane and tolerant spirit of a national clergy." (p. 10) All men of liberal mind rejoice that these methods of refuting and restraining infidelity have long since become obsolete. For some years past our government and clergy have had the wisdom to consign the question, in all its parts, to the pure jurisdiction of reason; and the writings of our Christian advocates have shewn how safely ihe sacred cause may be left without any other aid, except the influence of heaven. Reviewing the transactions of past ages, we may exult in it as a grand attainment of the human mind, and a noble distinction of the present times, that men are become persuaded religion possesses within itself the means of its triumph, and is of too lofty a spirit to accept any obligations from magistrate?, pillories, and prisons.
These discussions in the ecclesiastical courts somewhat contributed to bring into notice the portion of the History of England which Hume published about this time. For a number of years, however, the sale Whs slow, and the slender share of reputation most mortifying to his ruling passion. With the exception of two or three tracts, he had not even the consolation of exciting literary hostility, which would have been beyond all comparison more gratifying to him,than this silent and inglorious toier.itiort. He pretends indeed, in his memoir of his own life, that some parts of the history did excite a violent clamour; but this story seems to have been of the'same accuracy as that of the redoubtable Falstaff, when he swore he had been set upon by some fifty ruffians at least; for the biographer, " after a diligent search into the literary histories of that period, has been unable to discover any of that outcry which assailed the sensitive ears of Mr. Hume. In later times, indeed, his accuracy, impartiality, and political tenets, have been attacked, and with justice, but without any clamour, and seldom with ^liberality." p. 106.
Many pages are occupied with a history of the successive literary societies in Scotland; the Rankenian Club, the Poker1 Club, the Select Society, the Philosophical Society, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, of several of which Hume was a. member, together with the most eminent of his contemporaries. It is justly asserted that these associations greatly contributed, beside their effect on the individuals composing them, to promote in Scotland a literary taste, a refinement of composition, and a bold and comprehensive speculation.
A kind of amicable rivalry in historical composition, confirmed the habits of intimate communication between Hume and Robertson; the greater nurhber of the letters of Hume which are published, or rather re-published in this volume, (for many of therri have been printed before,) are addressed to his brother historian. Both these and his other letters are in general excellent specimens of an easy diction, unaffected good, sense, politeness, and sometimes delicate pleasantry. We will transcribe one or two of the shorter letters.
• Mr. Hume to.Dr. Robertson.
* I forgot to tell you, that two days ago I was in the House of Commons, where an English gentleman came to me and told me that he had lately sent to a grocer's shop for a pound of raisins, which he received wrapped up in a paper that he shewed me. How would you have turned pale at the sight! It was' a leaf of your History, and the very character of Queen Eli2abeth, which you had laboured so finely, little thinking it would so soon come to so disgraceful an end. I happened a litilo after to see Millar, and told him the story 5 consulting him, to be sure, on the fate of his new boasted historian, of whom he is so fond. But the story proves more serious than I apprehended. For he told Strahan, who thence suspects villany among his 'prentices and journeymen; and has sent me very earnestly to know the gentleman's name, that he may find out the grocer, and trace the matter to the bottom. In vain did I remonstrate that this is sooner or later the fate of all authors, ttrius, ocyus, sort exitura. He will not be satisfied, and begs me to keep my jokes for another occasion. But that I am resolved not to do; and, therefore, being repulsed by his passion and seriousness, I direct them against you.
'Next week I am published; and then I expect a c,instant comparison will be made between Dr. Robertson and Mr. Hume. I shall tell you in a few weeks which of these heroes is likely to prevail. Meanwhile I can inform both of them for their comfort, that their combat is not likely to make half so much noise as that between Broughton and the one-eyed coachman. Valutas vanitaturn, atque omnia 'vanitas. 1 shall still except, however,-the friendship and good opinion of worthy men. lam, &c." pp. 116, 117.
'Mr. Hume to Dr. Robertson.
'You have very good cause to be satisfied with the success of your History, as far as it can be judged of from a few weeks publication. I have not heard of one who does not praise it warmly; and were I t» enumerate all those whose suffrages I have either heard in its favour, or been told of, I should fill my letter with a list of names. Mallet told me that he was sure there was no Englishman capable of composing such ■ a work. The town will have it that you was educated at Oxford, thinking it impossible for a mere untraveled Scotchman to produce such language. In short, you may depend on the success of your work, and that your name is known very much to your advantage.
« I am diverting myself with the notion how much you will profit by the applause of my enemies in Scotland. Had yon and i been such fools as to have given way to jealousy, to have entertained animosity and malignity against each other, and to have rent all our acquaintances into parlies, what a noble amusement we should have exhibited to the blockheads, which now they are likely to be disappointed of. All the people whose friendship or judgement either of us value, are friends to both, and will be pleased with the success of both, a3 we will be with that of each other. I declare to you I have not, of a long time, had a more sensible pleasure than the good reception of your History has given me within this fortnight.' pp. 118, 119.'
We transcribe the following well known letter, partly for the sake of some minor rules of composition, which we have very frequent occasion to wish better attended to, and partly to shew on what terms the reverend divine consented to maintain his friendship with the profane philosopher.
* Mr. Hume to Dr. Robertson.
* I go; yesterday from Strahan about thirty sheets of your History, to be sent over to Suard, and last night and this morning have run them over with great avidity. I could not deny myself the satisfaction (which 1 hope also will <iot displease you) of expressing presently my extreme approbation of them. To say only they are very well written, is by far too faint an expression, and much inferior to the sentiments I feel: they arc composed with nobleness,, with dignity, with elegance, and with judgment, to which there are few equals. They even excel, and I think in a sensible degree, your History of Scodand. 1 propose to myself great pleasure in being die only man in England, during some mondis, who will be in the situation of doing you justice; after which you may certainly expect that my voice will be drowned in that of the public.
'You know that you and 1 have always been on the footing of finding in each other's productions something to blame and lomething to commend; and therefore you may perhaps expect also some seasoning of the former kind; but really neither my leisure nor inclination allowed me to make such remarks, and I sincerely believe ycu have afforded me very small materials for them. However, such particulars as occur to my memory I will mention. Maltreat is a Scotticism, which accurs once. What the devil had you to do with that old-fashioned, dangling word ivlterewith! I should as soon take back inliereufion, tuhereunto, and ivliWeunthal. I think the only tolerable, decent gentleman of the family is -wherein; and I should not choose to be often seen in his company. But I know your affection for therewith proceeds from your partiality to Dean Swift, whom I can often laugh with, whose style I can even approve, but surely can never admire. It has no harmony, po eloquence, no ornament, and not much correctness, whatever the English may imagine. Were not their literature nil] in a somewhat barbarous state, that author's place would- not be so high among their classics. But what a fancy is this you have taken of saying an hand, an heart, an head? Have you an ear? Do you not know that this n is added before vowels, to prevent the cacophony, and ought never to be used before h, when that letter is sounded? It is never pronounced in these words, why should it be wrote? Thus, I should say, a history and a historian; and so would you too, if you had any sense. But you tell me that Swift does otherwise. To be sure vhere is no reply to that, and we must swallow your hath too upon the same authority. 1 will
see you d -d sooner. But 1 will endeavour to keep my temper.*
We cannot help asking whether so polite a man as Hume appears to have been, would have taken such a liberty, if he had not been very certain that the pious minister of the gospel could very easily pardon an insult to a solemn topic of religion.
Hume enjoyed the high advantage over his accomplished friend, of residing, at several times, a number of years in France and Ita'y, as well as of spending considerable portions of time in' the English metropolis. From this citizenship of the world, he necessarily acquired a considerable degree of freedom from local prejudices, tastes, and dialect, an ampler collection of facts for an inductive estimate of human nature, and a richer store of images, supplied by so many views of nature and art, for giving life, colour, and variety, to the pictures and narrations of history. And yet it is almost wonderful that, in point of fact, he so little, after all, excelled in these respects his untravelled rival. If it be admitted that Hume has the advantage in shrewdness of minute discrimination, yet we believe it is felt by sensible readers, that Robertson is quite as much a master of general principles, that he gives a still greater prominence to important facts, and that, in the art of infusing into the scenes a moral interest, which shall command the passions, he far surpasses his frigid contemporary; in short, that history, under the management of Robertson, is less a scene of the dead, than under that of Hume. The style also of the former is almost as exempt from nationality of phrase ?s that of the latter.
In quality of secretary to the British ambassador, Hume visited Vienna and Turin, and about the age of fifty- was employed as charge d'affaires at Paris. It was at this time that he became involved in' the well-known affair with Rousseau, which lias more of the character of an adventure than any ether circumstance of his life, and of which the story and documents, in French and English, fill almost half the present volume. Our philosopher invited Rousseau to take refuge in England, from the danger which threatened him in France on account of his Emilius, which had given offence to the ecclesiastical order. Rousseau availed himself of the invitation ; and Hume really appears to have taken extraordinary pains, with extraordinary patience, to plaee him in an agreeable situation, which was at last effected in Derbyshire. For a short time, the expressions of gratitude and admiration were raised to a style of fulsome excess. But very soon the morbid mind of Rousseau began to conceive dark suspicions, that his pretended benefactor was oijly a wicked and traitorous agent of that grand conspiracy, which it was how most evident that all mankind had taken the trouble to enter into, against his peace, his fame, and even his personal safety. The circumstances which excited the suspicion, and soon confirmed it into an invincible persuasion, were more trivial than even those from which dramatists have represented the commencement and progress of mistaken jealousy. A more amusing exhibition was perhaps never made, of the servility of a strong, understanding to a wretched temperament, than that afforded by a number of letters of Rousseau, and especially by one of great length, describing the whole progress of his feelings, and replete with virulence, eloquence, and perverse ingenuity. The reader at this time may be entertained by the quarrel without raring which of them was in the wrong, though his censure will inevitably fall on the citizen of Geneva. The dispute was well worth perusing, for the sake of the contrast between the men; for the world will probably never see again such an instance of the two extremes of the philosophic characters brought in contact. We could amuse ourselves by con pounding, in imagination, these two elements in equal proportions, or with various degrees of the predominance of either.- It may be worth while for any one who proposes to set up for a philosopher, to do this, in order to find the standard to which it may be prudent to Conform himself. About an equal mixture of them would make a man whom all would be constrained to admire; but no mixture would constitute one whom a good man could approve or revere. Even if the history of the world did not supply a far nobler class of human beings, to be placed in contrast with such as the persons in question, or as any imaginable combination of the two characters, it would still be evident, that men most religiously devoted to the pursuit of fame, that is, idolatry of self, devoid of any pure, unmingled wish to do good, and neglectful or contemptuous of the authority of the Supreme Spirit, are creatures of a very degraded order, mere terrte-filii, notwithstanding the sagacity which can illustrate the records of time, or unfold the na^aanof man