Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Hume, David (1711-76), historian and philosopher, was born in Berwickshire, and, having been brought up under a clever mother, entered the Edinburgh University. He abandoned the law, wdiich was distasteful to him, for philosophy and classics, and read steadily English, French, Latin, and Italian literature. In 1734 he went to France, and while residing there he wrote his essay upon miracles. On his return to England he published a philosophical work, the Treatise on Human Nature, his most important philosophical work. It fell dead, but two volumes of Moral and Political Essays, published in 1741-42, had a greater amount of success. For a time he was tutor to the Marquis of Annandale, and he became candidate for the chair of moral philosophy at Edinburgh and for that of logic at Glasgow, but in each case failed. He then became secretary to General Sinclair, and in 1751 went to London, and in 1752 published Political Discourses, which were well received. These contained the germ of the Free Trade doctrine. In 1752 his appointment as librarian to the Faculty of Advocates gave him the idea of writing history. The first volume, treating of the reign of James I. and Charles I., appeared in 1754, and in 1756 the second volume, covering the period between the beginning of the Civil War and the Revolution. He then published two volumes on the Tudor period. The book gave offence by its support of Absolutism, but was for long a standard work. The money from his books, and a pension from the Crown, enabled him to spend the latter part of his life in learned leisure, varied by a visit to France as secretary to the ambassador Lord Hertford, during which visit he was made much- of by French society. For ten years he remained there, and afterwards was Secretary of State for two years under General Conway, retiring then finally to Edinburgh. In philosophy Hume is an extreme sceptic, with a tendency (in the Essays) to a point of view like that of modern Positivism. On the one side his scepticism "woke Kant from his dogmatic slumber," on the other he anticipated J. S. Mill in many points. His Treati/sc on Human Nature and his Moral, Political and Literary Essays were re-edited in 1874 by T. H. Green and T. H. Grose.