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."
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