The life of David Hume, Esq: Written by himself. To which is added, a letter from Adam Smith, LL.D. to William Strahan, Esq.

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DAVID HUME Eſq.

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THE LIFE OF DAVID HUME, ESQ.

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THE LIFE OF DAVID HUME, ESQ. WRITTEN BY HIMSELF.

TO WHICH IS ADDED, A LETTER FROM ADAM SMITH, LL. D. TO WILLIAM STRAHAN, ESQ.

DUBLIN: PRINTED FOR J. WILLIAMS, No. 21, SKINNER-ROW. M,DCC,LXXVII.

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MR. HUME, a few months before his death, wrote the following ſhort account of his own Life; and, in a codicil to his will, defired that it might be prefixed to the next edition of his Works. That edition cannot be publiſhed for a conſiderable time. The Editor, in the mean while, in order to ſerve the purchaſers of the former editions; and, at the ſame time, to gratify the impatience of the public curioſity; has thought proper to publiſh it ſeparately, without altering even the title or ſuperſcription, which was written in Mr. Hume's own hand on the cover of the manuſcript.

1. MY OWN LIFE.

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IT is difficult for a man to ſpeak long of himſelf without vanity; therefore, I ſhall be ſhort. It may be thought an inſtance of vanity that I pretend at all to write my life; but this Narrative ſhall contain little more than the Hiſtory of my Writings; as, indeed, almoſt all my life has been ſpent in literary purſuits and occupations. The firſt ſucceſs of moſt of my writings was not ſuch as to be an object of vanity.

I was born the 26th of April 1711, old ſtyle, at Edinburgh. I was of a good family, both by father and mother: my father's family is a branch of the Earl of [Page 2] Home's, or Hume's; and my anceſtors had been proprietors of the eſtate, which my brother poſſeſſes, for ſeveral generations. My mother was daughter of Sir David Falconer, Preſident of the College of Juſtice; the title of Lord Halkerton came by ſucceſſion to her brother.

My family, however, was not rich; and being myſelf a younger brother, my patrimony, according to the mode of my country, was of courſe very ſlender. My father, who paſſed for a man of parts, died when I was an infant, leaving me, with an elder brother and a ſiſter, under the care of our mother, a woman of ſingular merit, who, though young and handſome, devoted herſelf entirely to the rearing and educating of her children. I paſſed through the ordinary courſe of education with ſucceſs, and was ſeized very early with a paſſion for literature, which has been the ruling paſſion of my life, and the great ſource of my enjoyments. My ſtudious diſpoſition, my ſobriety, and my induſtry, gave my family a notion that the law was a proper profeſſion for me; but I found an unſurmountable averſion to every thing but the purſuits of philoſophy and general learning; and while they fancied I was poring upon Voet and Vinnius, Cicero and Virgil were the authors which I was ſecretly devouring.

[Page 3] My very ſlender fortune, however, being unſuitable to this plan of life, and my health being a little broken by my ardent application, I was tempted, or rather forced, to make a very feeble trial for entering into a more active ſcene of life. In 1734, I went to Briſtol, with ſome recommendations to eminent merchants, but in a few months found that ſcene totally unſuitable to me. I went over to France, with a view of proſecuting my ſtudies in a country retreat; and I there laid that plan of life, which I have ſteadily and ſucceſsfully purſued. I reſolved to make a very rigid frugality ſupply my deficiency of fortune, to maintain unimpaired my independency, and to regard every object as contemptible, except the improvement of my talents in literature.

During my retreat in France, firſt at Reims, but chiefly at La Fleche, in Anjou, I compoſed my Treatiſe of Human Nature. After paſſing three years very agreeably in that country, I came over to London in 1737. In the end of 1738, I publiſhed my Treatiſe, and immediately went down to my mother and my brother, who lived at his country-houſe, and was employing himſelf very judiciouſly and ſucceſsfully in the improvement of his fortune.

[Page 4] Never literary attempt was more unfortunate than my Treatiſe of Human Nature. It fell dead born from the preſs, without reaching ſuch diſtinction, as even to excite a murmur among the zealots. But being naturally of a cheerful and ſanguine temper, I very ſoon recovered the blow, and proſecuted with great ardour my ſtudies in the country. In 1742, I printed at Edinburgh the firſt part of my Eſſays: the work was favourably received, and ſoon made me entirely forget my former diſappointment. I continued with my mother and brother in the country, and in that time recovered the knowledge of the Greek language, which I had too much neglected in my early youth.

In 1745, I received a letter from the Marquis of Annandale, inviting me to come and live with him in England; I found alſo, that the friends and family of that young nobleman were deſirous of putting him under my care and direction, for the ſtate of his mind and health required it.—I lived with him a twelvemonth. My appointments during that time made a conſiderable acceſſion to my ſmall fortune. I then received an invitation from General St. Clair to attend him as a ſecretary to his expedition, which was at firſt meant againſt Canada, but ended in an incurſion on the coaſt of France. Next year, to wit, 1747, [Page 5] I received an invitation from the General to attend him in the ſame ſtation in his military embaſſy to the courts of Vienna and Turin. I then wore the uniform of an officer, and was introduced at theſe courts as aid-de-camp to the General, along with Sir Harry Erſkine and Captain Grant, now General Grant. Theſe two years were almoſt the only interruptions which my ſtudies have received during the courſe of my life: I paſſed them agreeably, and in good company; and my appointments, with my frugality, had made me reach a fortune, which I called independent, though moſt of my friends were inclined to ſmile when I ſaid ſo; in ſhort I was now maſter of near a thouſand pounds.

I had always entertained a notion, that my want of ſucceſs in publiſhing the Treatiſe of Human Nature, had proceeded more from the manner than the matter, and that I had been guilty of a very uſual indiſcretion, in going to the preſs too early. I, therefore, caſt the firſt part of that work anew in the Enquiry concerning Human Underſtanding, which was publiſhed while I was at Turin. But this piece was at firſt little more ſucceſsful than the Treatiſe of Human Nature. On my return from Italy, I had the mortification to find all England in a ferment, on account of Dr. Middleton's Free Enquiry, while my performance [Page 6] was entirely overlooked and neglected. A new edition, which had been publiſhed at London of my Eſſays, moral and political, met not with a much better reception.

Such is the force of natural temper, that theſe diſappointments made little or no impreſſion on me. I went down in 1749, and lived two years with my brother at his country houſe; for my mother was now dead. I there compoſed the ſecond part of my Eſſays, which I called Political Diſcourſes, and alſo my Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, which is another part of my Treatiſe that I caſt anew. Meanwhile, my bookſeller, A. Millar, informed me, that my former publications (all but the unfortunate Treatiſe) were beginning to be the ſubject of converſation; that the ſale of them was gradually increaſing, and that new editions were demanded. Anſwers by Reverends, and Right Reverends, came out two or three in a year; and I found, by Dr. Warburton's railing, that the books were beginning to be eſteemed in good company. However, I had fixed a reſolution, which I inflexibly maintained, never to reply to any body; and not being very iraſcible in my temper, I have eaſily kept myſelf clear of all literary ſquabbles. Theſe ſymptoms of a riſing reputation gave me encouragement, as I was ever more diſpoſed to ſee the favourable than unfavourable ſide of [Page 7] things; a turn of mind which it is more happy to poſſeſs, than to be born to an eſtate of ten thouſand a year.

In 1751, I removed from the country to the town, the true ſcene for a man of letters. In 1752, were publiſhed at Edinburgh, where I then lived, my Political Diſcourſes, the only work of mine that was ſucceſsful on the firſt publication. It was well received abroad and at home. In the ſame year was publiſhed at London, my Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals; which, in my own opinion (who ought not to judge on that ſubject), is of all my writings, hiſtorical, philoſophical, or literary, incomparably the beſt. It came unnoticed and unobſerved into the world.

In 1752, the Faculty of Advocates choſe me their Librarian, an office from which I received little or no emolument, but which gave me the command of a large library. I then formed the plan of writing the Hiſtory of England; but being frightened with the notion of continuing a narrative through a period of 1700 years, I commenced with the acceſſion of the Houſe of Stuart, an epoch when, I thought, the miſrepreſentations of faction began chiefly to take place. I was, I own, ſanguine in my expectations of the ſucceſs of this work. I thought that I was the only hiſtorian, that [Page 8] had at once neglected preſent power, intereſt, and authority, and the cry of popular prejudices; and as the ſubject was ſuited to every capacity, I expected proportional applauſe. But miſerable was my diſappointment: I was aſſailed by one cry of reproach, diſapprobation, and even deteſtation; Engliſh, Scotch, and Iriſh, Whig, and Tory, churchman and ſectary, freethinker and religioniſt, patriot and courtier, united in their rage againſt the man, who had preſumed to ſhed a generous tear for the fate of Charles I. and the Earl of Strafford; and after the firſt ebullitions of their fury were over, what was ſtill more mortifying, the book ſeemed to ſink into oblivion. Mr. Millar told me, that in a twelvemonth he ſold only forty-five copies of it. I ſcarcely, indeed, heard of one man in the three kingdoms, conſiderable for rank or letters, that could indure the book. I muſt only except the primate of England, Dr. Herring, and the primate of Ireland, Dr. Stone, which ſeem two odd exceptions. Theſe dignified prelates ſeparately ſent me meſſages not to be diſcouraged.

I was, however, I confeſs, diſcouraged; and had not the war been at that time breaking out between France and England, I had certainly retired to ſome provincial town of the former kingdom, have changed my name, and never more have returned [Page 9] to my native country. But as this ſcheme was not now practicable, and the ſubſequent volume was conſiderably advanced, I reſolved to pick up courage and to perſevere.

In this interval, I publiſhed at London my Natural Hiſtory of Religion, along with ſome other ſmall pieces: its public entry was rather obſcure, except only that Dr. Hurd wrote a pamphlet againſt it, with all the illiberal petulance, arrogance, and ſcurrility, which diſtinguiſh the Warburtonian ſchool. This pamphlet gave me ſome conſolation for the otherwiſe indifferent reception of my performance.

In 1756, two years after the fall of the firſt volume, was publiſhed the ſecond volume of my Hiſtory, containing the period from the death of Charles I. till the Revolution. This performance happened to give leſs diſpleaſure to the Whigs, and was better received. It not only roſe itſelf, but helped to buoy up its unfortunate brother.

But though I had been taught by experience that the Whig party were in poſſeſſion of beſtowing all places, both in the ſtate and in literature, I was ſo little inclined to yield to their ſenſeleſs clamour, that in above a hundred alterations, which farther [Page 10] ſtudy, reading, or reflection engaged me to make in the reigns of the two firſt Stuarts, I have made all of them invariably to the Tory ſide. It is ridiculous to conſider the Engliſh conſtitution before that period as a regular plan of liberty.

In 1759, I publiſhed my Hiſtory of the Houſe of Tudor. The clamour againſt this performance was almoſt equal to that againſt the Hiſtory of the two firſt Stuarts. The reign of Elizabeth was particularly obnoxious. But I was now callous againſt the impreſſions of public folly, and continued very peaceably and contentedly in my retreat at Edinburgh, to finiſh, in two volumes, the more early part of the Engliſh Hiſtory, which I gave to the public in 1761, with tolerable, and but tolerable ſucceſs.

But, notwithſtanding this variety of winds and ſeaſons, to which my writings had been expoſed, they had ſtill been making ſuch advances, that the copy-money given me by the bookſellers, much exceeded any thing formerly known in England; I was become not only independent, but opulent. I retired to my native country of Scotland, determined never more to ſet my foot out of it; and retaining the ſatisfaction of never having preferred a requeſt to one great man, or even [Page 11] making advances of friendſhip to any of them. As I was now turned of fifty, I thought of paſſing all the reſt of my life in this philoſophical manner, when I received, in 1763, an invitation from the Earl of Hertford, with whom I was not in the leaſt acquainted, to attend him on his embaſſy to Paris, with a near proſpect of being appointed ſecretary to the embaſſy, and, in the meanwhile, of performing the functions of that office. This offer, however inviting, I at firſt declined, both becauſe I was reluctant to begin connexions with the great, and becauſe I was afraid that the civilities and gay company of Paris, would prove diſagreeable to a perſon of my age and humour: but on his lordſhip's repeating the invitation, I accepted of it. I have every reaſon, both of pleaſure and intereſt, to think myſelf happy in my connexions with that nobleman, as well as afterwards with his brother, General Conway.

Thoſe who have not ſeen the ſtrange effects of modes, will never imagine the reception I met with at Paris, from men and women of all ranks and ſtations. The more I reſiled from their exceſſive civilities, the more I was loaded with them. There is, however, a real ſatisfaction in living at Paris, from the great number of ſenſible, knowing, and polite company with which [Page 12] that city abounds above all places in the univerſe. I thought once of ſettling there for life.

I was appointed ſecretary to the embaſſy; and in ſummer 1765, Lord Hertford left me, being appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. I was chargé d' affaires till the arrival of the Duke of Richmond, towards the end of the year. In the beginning of 1776, I left Paris, and next ſummer went to Edinburgh, with the ſame view as formerly, of burying myſelf in a philoſophical retreat. I returned to that place, not richer, but with much more money, and a much larger income, by means of Lord Hertford's friendſhip, than I left it; and I was deſirous of trying what ſuperfluity could produce, as I had formerly made an experiment of a competency. But in 1767, I received from Mr. Conway an invitation to be Under-ſecretary; and this invitation, both the character of the perſon, and my connexions with Lord Hertford, prevented me from declining. I returned to Edinburgh in 1769, very opulent (for I poſſeſſed a revenue of 1000 l. a year), healthy, and, though ſomewhat ſtricken in years, with the proſpect of enjoying long my eaſe, and of ſeeing the increaſe of my reputation.

In ſpring 1775, I was ſtruck with a diſorder in my bowels, which at firſt gave me [Page 13] no alarm, but has ſince, as I apprehend it, become mortal and incurable. I now reckon upon a ſpeedy diſſolution. I have ſuffered very little pain from my diſorder; and what is more ſtrange, have, notwithſtanding the great decline of my perſon, never ſuffered a moment's abatement of my ſpirits; inſomuch, that were I to name the period of my life, which I ſhould moſt chooſe to paſs over again, I might be tempted to point to this later period. I poſſeſs the ſame ardour as ever in ſtudy, and the ſame gaiety in company. I conſider, beſides, that a man of ſixty-five, by dying, cuts off only a few years of infirmities; and though I ſee many ſymptoms of my literary reputation's breaking out at laſt with additional luſtre, I knew that I could have but few years to enjoy it. It is difficult to be more detached from life than I am at preſent.

To conclude hiſtorically with my own character, I am, or rather was (for that is the ſtyle I muſt now uſe in ſpeaking of myſelf, which emboldens me the more to ſpeak my ſentiments); I was, I ſay, a man of mild diſpoſitions, of command of temper, of an open, ſocial, and cheerful humour, capable of attachment, but little ſuſceptible of enmity, and of great moderation in all my paſſions. Even my love of literary fame, my ruling paſſion, never [Page 14] ſoured my temper, notwithſtanding my frequent diſappointments. My company was not unacceptable to the young and careleſs, as well as to the ſtudious and literary; and as I took a particular pleaſure in the company of modeſt women, I had no reaſon to be diſpleaſed with the reception I met with from them. In a word, though moſt men any wiſe eminent, have found reaſon to complain of calumny, I never was touched, or even attacked by her beleful tooth: and though I wantonly expoſed myſelf to the rage of both civil and religious factions, they ſeemed to be diſarmed in my behalf of their wonted fury. My friends never had occaſion to vindicate any one circumſtance of my character and conduct: not but that the zealots, we may well ſuppoſe, would have been glad to invent and propagate any ſtory to my diſadvantage, but they could never find any which they thought would wear the face of probability. I cannot ſay there is no vanity in making this funeral oration of myſelf, but I hope it is not a miſplaced one; and this is a matter of fact which is eaſily cleared and aſcertained.

2. LETTER FROM ADAM SMITH, LL. D. TO WILLIAM STRAHAN, ESQ.

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DEAR SIR,

IT is with a real, though a very melancholy pleaſure, that I ſit down to give you ſome account of the behaviour of our late excellent friend, Mr. Hume, during his laſt illneſs.

Though, in his own judgment, his diſeaſe was mortal and incurable, yet he allowed himſelf to be prevailed upon, by the entreaty of his friends, to try what might be the effects of a long journey. A few days before he ſet out, he wrote that account of his own life, which, together with his other papers, he has left to your care. My account, therefore, ſhall begin where his ends.

He ſet out for London towards the end of April, and at Morpeth met with Mr. John Home and myſelf, who had both come down from London on purpoſe to ſee him, expecting to have found him at Edinburgh. Mr. Home returned with him, [Page 18] and attended him during the whole of his ſtay in England, with that care and attention which might be expected from a temper ſo perfectly friendly and affectionate. As I had written to my mother that ſhe might expect me in Scotland, I was under the neceſſity of continuing my journey. His diſeaſe ſeemed to yield to exerciſe and change of air, and when he arrived in London, he was apparently in much better health than when he left Edinburgh. He was adviſed to go to Bath to drink the waters, which appeared for ſome time to have ſo good an effect upon him, that even he himſelf began to entertain, what he was not apt to do, a better opinion of his own health. His ſymptoms, however, ſoon returned with their uſual violence, and from that moment he gave up all thoughts of recovery, but ſubmitted with the utmoſt cheerfulneſs, and the moſt perfect complacency and reſignation. Upon his return to Edinburgh, though he found himſelf much weaker, yet his cheerfulneſs never abated, and he continued to divert himſelf, as uſual, with correcting his own works for a new edition, with reading books of amuſement, with the converſation of his friends; and, ſometimes in the evening, with a party at his favourite game of whiſt. His cheerfulneſs was ſo great, and his converſation and amuſements run ſo much in their uſual ſtrain, [Page 19] that, notwithſtanding all bad ſymptoms, many people could not believe he was dying. ‘"I ſhall tell your friend, Colonel Edmondſtone,"’ ſaid Doctor Dundas to him one day, ‘"that I left you much better, and in a fair way of recovery." ’ ‘"Doctor,"’ ſaid he, ‘"as I believe you would not chuſe to tell any thing but the truth, you had better tell him, that I am dying as faſt as my enemies, if I have any, could wiſh, and as eaſily and cheerfully as my beſt friends could deſire."’ Colonel Edmondſtone ſoon afterwards came to ſee him, and take leave of him; and on his way home, he could not forbear writing him a letter bidding him once more an eternal adieu, and applying to him, as to a dying man, the beautiful French verſes in which the Abbé Chaulieu, in expectation of his own death, laments his approaching ſeparation from his friend, the Marquis de la Fare. Mr. Hume's magnanimity and firmneſs were ſuch, that his moſt affectionate friends knew, that they hazarded nothing in talking or writing to him as to a dying man, and that ſo far from being hurt by this frankneſs, he was rather pleaſed and flattered by it. I happened to come into his room while he was reading this letter, which he had juſt received, and which he immediately ſhowed me. I told him, that though I was ſenſible how very much he was weakened, and that appearances were in [Page 20] many reſpects very bad, yet his cheerfulneſs was ſtill ſo great, the ſpirit of life ſeemed ſtill to be ſo very ſtrong in him, that I could not help entertaining ſome faint hopes. He anſwered, ‘"Your hopes are groundleſs. An habitual diarrhoea of more than a year's ſtanding, would be a very bad diſeaſe at any age: at my age it is a mortal one. When I lie down in the evening, I feel myſelf weaker than when I roſe in the morning; and when I riſe in the morning, weaker than when I lay down in the evening. I am ſenſible, beſides, that ſome of my vital parts are affected, ſo that I muſt ſoon die."’ ‘"Well,"’ ſaid I, ‘"if it muſt be ſo, you have at leaſt the ſatisfaction of leaving all your friends, your brother's family in particular, in great proſperity."’ He ſaid, that he felt that ſatisfaction ſo ſenſibly, that when he was reading a few days before, Lucian's Dialogues of the Dead, among all the excuſes which are alleged to Charon for not entering readily into his boat, he could not find one that fitted him; he had no houſe to finiſh, he had no daughter to provide for, he had no enemies upon whom he wiſhed to revenge himſelf. ‘"I could not well imagine,"’ ſaid he, ‘"what excuſe I could make to Charon in order to obtain a little delay. I have done every thing of conſequence which I ever meant to do, and I could at no time expect to leave my relations and [Page 21] friends in a better ſituation than that in which I am now likely to leave them; I, therefore, have all reaſon to die contented."’ He then diverted himſelf with inventing ſeveral jocular excuſes, which he ſuppoſed he might make to Charon, and with imagining the very ſurly anſwers which it might ſuit the character of Charon to return to them. ‘"Upon further conſideration,"’ ſaid he, ‘"I thought I might ſay to him, Good Charon, I have been correcting my works for a new edition. Allow me a little time, that I may ſee how the Public receives the alterations."’ But Charon would anſwer, ‘"When you have ſeen the effect of theſe, you will be for making other alterations. There will be no end of ſuch excuſes; ſo, honeſt friend, pleaſe ſtep into the boat."’ But I might ſtill urge, ‘"Have a little patience, good Charon, I have been endeavouring to open the eyes of the public. If I live a few years longer, I may have the ſatisfaction of ſeeing the downfal of ſome of the prevailing ſyſtems of ſuperſtition."’ But Charon would then loſe all temper and decency. ‘"You loitering rogue, that will not happen theſe many hundred years. Do you fancy I will grant you a leaſe for ſo long a term? Get into the boat this inſtant, you lazy loitering rogue."’ [Page 22] But, though Mr. Hume always talked of his approaching diſſolution with great cheerfulneſs, he never affected to make any parade of his magnanimity. He never mentioned the ſubject but when the converſation naturally led to it, and never dwelt longer upon it than the courſe of the converſation happened to require: it was a ſubject indeed which occurred pretty frequently, in conſequence of the inquiries which his friends who came to ſee him naturally made concerning the ſtate of his health. The converſation which I mentioned above, and which paſſed on Thurſday the 8th of Auguſt, was the laſt, except one, that I ever had with him. He had now become ſo very weak, that the company of his moſt intimate friends fatigued him; for his cheerfulneſs was ſtill ſo great, his complaiſance and ſocial diſpoſition were ſtill ſo entire, that when any friend was with him, he could not help talking more, and with greater exertion, than ſuited the weakneſs of his body. At his own deſire, therefore, I agreed to leave Edinburgh, where I was ſtaying partly upon his account, and returned to my mother's houſe here, at Kirkaldy, upon condition that he would ſend for me whenever he wiſhed to ſee me; the phyſician who ſaw him moſt frequently, Doctor Black, undertaking, in the mean time, to write me occaſionally an account of the ſtate of his health.

[Page 23] On the 22d of Auguſt, the Doctor wrote me the following letter:

Since my laſt, Mr. Hume has paſſed his time pretty eaſily, but is much weaker. He ſits up, goes down ſtairs once a day, and amuſes himſelf with reading, but ſeldom ſees any body. He finds that even the converſation of his moſt intimate friends fatigues and oppreſſes him; and it is happy that he does not need it, for he is quite free from anxiety, impatience, or low ſpirits, and paſſes his time very well with the aſſiſtance of amuſing books.

I received the day after a letter from Mr. Hume himſelf, of which the following is an extract.

MY DEAREST FRIEND,

I am obliged to make uſe of my nephew's hand in writing to you, as I do not riſe to-day. * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I go very faſt to decline, and laſt night had a ſmall fever, which I hoped might put a quicker period to this tedious illneſs, but unluckily it has, in a great meaſure, gone off. I cannot ſubmit to your coming over [Page 24] here on my account, as it is poſſible for me to ſee you ſo ſmall a part of the day, but Doctor Black can better inform you concerning the degree of ſtrength which may from time to time remain with me. Adieu, &c.

Three days after I received the following letter from Doctor Black.

DEAR SIR,

Yeſterday about four o'clock afternoon, Mr. Hume expired. The near approach of his death became evident in the night between Thurſday and Friday, when his diſeaſe became exceſſive, and ſoon weakened him ſo much, that he could no longer riſe out of his bed. He continued to the laſt perfectly ſenſible, and free from much pain or feelings of diſtreſs. He never dropped the ſmalleſt expreſſion of impatience; but when he had occaſion to ſpeak to the people about him, always did it with affection and tenderneſs. I thought it improper to write to bring you over, eſpecially as I heard that he had dictated a letter to you deſiring you not to come. When he became very weak it coſt him an effort to ſpeak, and he died in ſuch a happy compoſure of mind, that nothing could exceed it.

[Page 25] Thus died our moſt excellent and never to be forgotten friend; concerning whoſe philoſophical opinions men will, no doubt, judge variouſly, every one approving, or condemning them, according as they happen to coincide or diſagree with his own; but concerning whoſe character and conduct there can ſcarce be a difference of opinion. His temper, indeed, ſeemed to be more happily balanced, if I may be allowed ſuch an expreſſion, than that perhaps of any other man I have ever known. Even in the loweſt ſtate of his fortune, his great and neceſſary frugality never hindered him from exerciſing upon proper occaſions, acts both of charity and generoſity. It was a frugality founded, not upon a varice, but upon the love of independency. The extreme gentleneſs of his nature never weakened either the firmneſs of his mind, or the ſteadineſs of his reſolutions. His conſtant pleaſantry was the genuine effuſion of good-nature and good-humour, tempered with delicacy and modeſty, and without even the ſlighteſt tincture of malignity, ſo frequently the diſagreeable ſource of what is called wit in other men. It never was the meaning of his raillery to mortify; and therefore, far from offending, it ſeldom failed to pleaſe and delight, even thoſe who were the objects of it. To his friends, who were frequently the objects of it, there was not perhaps any one of all [Page 26] his great and amiable qualities, which contributed more to endear his converſation. And that gaiety of temper, ſo agreeable in ſociety, but which is ſo often accompanied with frivolous and ſuperficial qualities, was in him certainly attended with the moſt ſevere application, the moſt extenſive learning, the greateſt depth of thought, and a capacity in every reſpect the moſt comprehenſive. Upon the whole, I have always conſidered him, both in his lifetime and ſince his death, as approaching as nearly to the idea of a perfectly wiſe and virtuous man, as perhaps the nature of human frailty will permit.

I ever am,

dear Sir,

Moſt affectionately your's, ADAM SMITH.