The McGill David Hume Collection

Contemporary and Historical Comments

Aug. 25. At his house in St. David's Street, New Town, Edinburgh, after a tedious illness, which he bore with great resignation, DAVID HUME, Esq; author of the History of England, essays moral and political, &c. It would be altogether superfluous to give a panegyric upon an author, whose character is so well established, and whose merit as a political writer is universally acknowledged. Invidious also would be the task now to draw forth his frailties into public view. We shall give a character of Mr. Hume, drawn by a celebrated foreigner, Carlo Denina, which it may be presumed is equally free from prejudice and from flattery. "That spirit of literature," says M. Denina, "which had so nobly animated London, the capital of the island, and the neighbouring provinces, has at length, it would seem, extended itself to the remotest corners of Britain. It is however an incontestable fact, that of late the principal ornaments of British literature, have received their birth and education in Scotland. I have already observed, that though England abounds in good writers of every kind, she has hardly produced one historian of character*. It was reserved for Scotland to supply so material a deficiency. Is there a man of letters in Europe unacquainted with the works of HUME? Is there a man of taste who does not read his history with particular admiration? Endowed with uncommon abilities, had he not shown so much eagerness to insinuate his pernicious opinions, he would have escaped the just censures of the religious, added greater weight to his history, and rendered it at once more interesting and spirited. Scepticism is naturally cold and barren, and in works of literature passion is generally preferable to indifference. After all, his defects, whether in point of style, sentiment, or historical fidelity, serve but as foils to his excellencies."
* Lord LITTLETON's history was not published when Mr DENINA wrote these strictures.

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