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David Hume Mi Life

David Hume Mi Life

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My Own Life 1 David Hume

My Own Life
by

David Hume

eBooks@Adelaide
2009

ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hume/david/h92my/complete.htmI

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence (ava ilabIe at .~Q. eBooks@Adelaide The University of Adelaide Library University of Adelaide South Australia 5005 ebooks.gl.~.!I!mQn. You are free: to copy.Y...Ib. Your fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above.au/h/hume/david/h92my/complete.I9.!. you must make clear to others the license terms of this work.!:!D.~::...Q.II~r.htmI 2/15 .g ~ ~ Rendered into HTMLby ?~.r.- Last updated Sat Aug 28 16:04:282010.l.g.~.!.Q.~.@A.~ . For any reuse or distribution.?~. or build upon this work. if you alter.'y"::!J.!?'..9. transform.adelaide. you may not use this work for commercial purposes.~JJp.9. _.Q..~J..~/!?.Q. Any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the licensor. you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.!I!9.!?~. J.~n.?.~.!'y'~.12/18/11 My Own Life 1 David Hume This web edition published by ~.I.. .~.~.~.~~. and perform the work. distribute.edu. and to make derivative works under the following conditions: you must attribute the work in the manner specified by the licensor. display.

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and my health being a little broken by my ardent application.adelaide. to make a very feeble trial for entering into a more active scene of life. and to regard every object as contemptible. a woman of singular merit.edu. at Edinburgh. and my industry. which I have steadily and successfully pursued. but I found an unsurmountable aversion to every thing but the pursuits of philosophy and general learning. was not rich. died when I was an infant. I was born the 26th of April 17U. and I there laid that plan of life. for several generations. but chiefly at La Fleche. however. and while they fancied I was poring upon Voet and Vinnius. however. gave my family a notion that the law was a proper profession for me. My family. and being myself a younger brother. to maintain unimpaired my independency. and the great source of my enjoyments. During my retreat in France. I shall be short. with a view of prosecuting my studies in a country retreat. I passed through the ordinary course of education with success. I composed my Treatise of Human Nature. I resolved to make a very rigid frugality supply my deficiency of fortune. devoted herself entirely to the rearing and educating of her children. though young and handsome. according to the mode of my country. I was tempted. with an elder brother and a sister. My father. My studious disposition. It may be thought an instance of vanity that I pretend at all to write my life. first at Reims. therefore.htmI 4/15 . indeed. except the improvement of my talents in literature. which my brother possesses. but in a few months found that scene totally unsuitable to me. I came over to London in 1737. Cicero and Virgil were the authors which I was secretly devouring. was of course very slender. I went over to France. in Anjou. and my ancestors had been proprietors of the estate. which has been the ruling passion of my life. I went to Bristol. President of the College of Justice: the title of Lord Halkerton came by succession to her brother. My very slender fortune. almost all my life has been spent in literary pursuits and occupations. my sobriety. who. In 1734. both by father and mother: my father's family is a branch of the Earl of Home's. with some recommendations to eminent merchants. under the care of our mother. I was of a good family. The first success of most of my writings was not such as to be an object of vanity. In ebooks. My mother was daughter of Sir David Falconer. as. or rather forced. my patrimony. and was seized very early with a passion for literature. but this Narrative shall contain little more than the History of my Writings. After passing three years very agreeably in that country. old style. being unsuitable to this plan of life. who passed for a man of parts.12/18/11 My Own Life 1 David Hume My OWNUFE It is difficult for a man to speak long of himself without vanity.au/h/hume/david/h92my/complete. or Hume's. leaving me.

A new edition. though most of my friends were inclined to smile when I said so. but ended in an incursion on the coast of France. But being naturally of a cheerful and sanguine temper. 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. which I had too much neglected in my early youth. along with Sir Harry Erskine and Captain Grant. as even to excite a murmur among the zealots. for the state of his mind and health required it. who lived at his country-house. and in that time recovered the knowledge of the Greek language. It fell dead-born from the press. which was at first meant against Canada.adelaide. I had always entertained a notion. and that I had been guilty of a very usual indiscretion. on account of Dr. in short.12/18/11 My Own Life 1 David Hume the end of 1738. I continued with my mother and brother in the country. cast the first part of that work anew in the Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. that my want of success in publishing the Treatise of Human Nature. I published my Treatise. that the friends and family of that young nobleman were desirous of putting him under my care and direction. My appointments during that time made a considerable accession to my small fortune. with my frugality. I found also. I then received an invitation from General St.au/h/hume/david/h92my/complete. and was introduced at these courts as aid-de-camp to the general. which I called independent. to wit. while my performance was entirely overlooked and neglected. without reaching such distinction. which was published while I was at Turin. 1747.I lived with him a twelvemonth. Next year. But this piece was at first little more successful than the Treatise of Human Nature. On my return from Italy. inviting me to come and live with him in England. I. I was now master of near a thousand pounds. In 1742. in going to the press too early. I had the mortification to find all England in a ferment. and in good company. and my appointments. I printed at Edinburgh the first part of my Essays: the work was favourably received. Middleton's Free Enquiry.htmI 5/15 . Clair to attend him as a secretary to his expedition. Never literary attempt was more unfortunate than my Treatise of Human Nature. had proceeded more from the manner than the matter. had made me reach a fortune. and immediately went down to my mother and my brother. and prosecuted with great ardour my studies in the country.edu. therefore. I then wore the uniform of an officer. I very soon recovered the blow. In 1745. 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. which had been ebooks. and was employing himself very judiciously and successfully in the improvement of his fortune. and soon made me entirely forget my former disappointment. I received a letter from the Marquis of Annandale.

Scotch. which I called Political Discourses. interest. I went down in 1749. that the books were beginning to be esteemed in good company. my Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals. I then formed the plan of writing the History of England. In 1752. I commenced with the accession of the House of Stuart. that my former publications (all but the unfortunate Treatise) were beginning to be the subject of conversation. I there composed the second part of my Essays. I thought. It was well received abroad and at home. and I found. It came unnoticed and unobserved into the world. Such is the force of natural temper. as I was ever more disposed to see the favourable than unfavourable side of things. historical. the true scene for a man of letters.adelaide.htmI 6/15 . a turn of mind which it is more happy to possess. but which gave me the command of a large library. moral and political. but being frightened with the notion of continuing a narrative through a period of 1700 years. and even detestation. and that new editions were demanded. which I inflexibly maintained. Answers by Reverends. is of all my writings. philosophical. the only work of mine that was successful on the first publication. never to reply to any body. I was. which is another part of my treatise that I cast anew. in my own opinion (who ought not to judge on that subject). In 1751. an office from which I received little or no emolument. for my mother was now dead. which. I removed from the country to the town. However. But miserable was my disappointment: I was assailed by one cry of reproach. These symptoms of a rising reputation gave me encouragement. In the same year was published at London. and also my Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals. I own. that these disappointments made little or no impression on me. I expected proportional applause. an epoch when. Millar. I have easily kept myself clear of all literary squabbles. my bookseller. and as the subject was suited to every capacity. or literary. I had fixed a resolution. than to be born to an estate of ten thousand a year. sanguine in my expectations of the success of this work. that had at once neglected present power. by Dr. Warburton's railing. were published at Edinburgh. and ebooks. Meanwhile. and lived two years with my brother at his country-house. English. and authority. incomparably the best. the Faculty of Advocates chose me their Librarian. A. In 1752. the misrepresentations of faction began chiefly to take place. and Right Reverends. disapprobation.edu.au/h/hume/david/h92my/complete.12/18/11 My Own Life 1 David Hume published at London of my Essays. my Political Discourses. informed me. and not being very irascible in my temper. and the cry of popular prejudices. that the sale of them was gradually increasing. came out two or three in a year. met not with a much better reception. where I then lived. I thought that I was the only historian.

The clamour against this performance was almost equal to that against the History of the two first Stuarts.edu. Dr. ebooks. with tolerable. But though I had been taught by experience. and was better received. These dignified prelates separately sent me messages not to be discouraged. churchman and sectary. who had presumed to shed a generous tear for the fate of Charles 1. what was still more mortifying.12/18/11 My Own Life 1 David Hume Irish. I had certainly retired to some provincial town of the former kingdom. I resolved to pick up courage and to persevere. containing the period from the death of Charles I. reading. freethinker and religionist. but helped to buoy up its unfortunate brother. united in their rage against the man. both in the state and in literature. that in a twelvemonth he sold only fortyfive copies of it. This performance happened to give less displeasure to the Whigs. have changed my name. or reflection engaged me to make in the reigns of the two first Stuarts. two years after the fall of the first volume. that could endure the book. I was so little inclined to yield to their senseless clamour. except only that Dr. I confess. Herring. This pamphlet gave me some consolation for the otherwise indifferent reception of my performance. and the Earl of Strafford. and had not the war been at that time breaking out between France and England. which I gave to the public in 1761. In 1756. in two volumes. But I was now callous against the impressions of public folly. arrogance. I published my History of the House of Tudor. Hurd wrote a pamphlet against it. Millar told me. I must only except the primate of England. and after the first ebullitions of their fury were over.htmI 7/15 . discouraged. I was. the book seemed to sink into oblivion. But as this scheme was not now practicable. and continued very peaceably and contentedly in my retreat at Edinburgh. along with some other small pieces: its public entry was rather obscure. considerable for rank or letters. I have made all of them invariably to the Tory side. In this interval. was published the second volume of my History.adelaide. It is ridiculous to consider the English constitution before that period as a regular plan of liberty. and never more have returned to my native country. with all the illiberal petulance. till the Revolution. and scurrility. In 1759. Dr. that in above a hundred alterations. to finish.au/h/hume/david/h92my/complete. the more early part of the English History. which seem two odd exceptions. It not only rose itself. indeed. I published at London my Natural History of Religion. however. Stone. The reign of Elizabeth was particularly obnoxious. and the subsequent volume was considerably advanced. which distinguish the Warburtonian school. which farther study. and the primate of Ireland. Whig and Tory. that the Whig party were in possession of bestowing all places. Mr. patriot and courtier. heard of one man in the three kingdoms. I scarcely. and but tolerable success.

This offer. to which my writings had been exposed. and retaining the satisfaction of never having preferred a request to one great man. and I was desirous of trying what superfluity could produce. knowing. both of pleasure and interest. prevented me from declining. a real satisfaction in living at Paris. and next summer went to Edinburgh. from the great number of sensible. that the copy-money given me by the booksellers.edu. both because I was reluctant to begin connexions with the great.adelaide. would prove disagreeable to a person of my age and humour: but on his lordship's repeating the invitation. ebooks. in the meanwhile.au/h/hume/david/h92my/complete. with whom I was not in the least acquainted. and a much larger income. very opulent (for I possessed a revenue of £1000 a year). and of seeing the increase of my reputation. I thought once of settling there for life. than I left it. in 1763. and this invitation. much exceeded any thing formerly known in England. and. with the same view as formerly. Conway an invitation to be Under-secretary. notwithstanding this variety of winds and seasons. and my connexions with Lord Hertford.12/18/11 My Own Life 1 David Hume But. I thought of passing all the rest of my life in this philosophical manner. Lord Hertford left me. or even making advances of friendship to any of them. not richer. in summer 1765. and though somewhat stricken in years. As I was now turned of fifty. both the character of the person. The more I resiled from their excessive civilities. being appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. But. to attend him on his embassy to Paris. I at first declined. General Conway. to think myself happy in my connexions with that nobleman. as well as afterwards with his brother. I returned to Edinburgh in 1769. I retired to my native country of Scotland. will never imagine the reception I met with at Paris. Those who have not seen the strange effects of modes. In the beginning of 1766. but with much more money. towards the end of the year. I left Paris. in 1767. an invitation from the Earl of Hertford. I returned to that place. when I received. I received from Mr. healthy. the more I was loaded with them. and because I was afraid that the civilities and gay company of Paris. and polite company with which that city abounds above all places in the universe. as I had formerly made an experiment of a competency. and. however inviting. There is. I accepted of it. with the prospect of enjoying long my ease. however. of performing the functions of that office. but opulent. from men and women of all ranks and stations. determined never more to set my foot out of it.htmI 8/15 . I was become not only independent. with a near prospect of being appointed secretary to the embassy. they had still been making such advances. I was charge d'affaires till the arrival of the Duke of Richmond. of burying myself in a philosophical retreat. I was appointed secretary to the embassy. I have every reason. by means of Lord Hertford's friendship.

but has since. I was.htmI 9/15 .12/18/11 My Own Life 1 David Hume In spring 1775. I say. which I should most choose to pass over again. or even attacked by her baleful tooth: and though I wantonly exposed myself to the rage of both civil and religious factions. as I apprehend it. besides. but little susceptible of enmity. I might be tempted to point to this later period. I was struck with a disorder in my bowels. and cheerful humour. 1776. a man of mild dispositions. and this is a matter of fact which is easily cleared and ascertained. Even my love of literary fame. cuts off only a few years of infirmities. never suffered a moment's abatement of my spirits. I have suffered very little pain from my disorder. I never was touched. I had no reason to be displeased with the reception I met with from them. and what is more strange. notwithstanding the great decline of my person. of an open. which emboldens me the more to speak my sentiments). by dying. become mortal and incurable. never soured my temper. or rather was (for that is the style I must now use in speaking of myself. insomuch.adelaide. have found reason to complain of calumny. To conclude historically with my own character.edu. and though I see many symptoms of my literary reputation's breaking out at last with additional lustre. My friends never had occasion to vindicate anyone circumstance of my character and conduct: not but that the zealots. In a word. which at first gave me no alarm. I cannot say there is no vanity in making this funeral oration of myself. and of great moderation in all my passions. and as I took a particular pleasure in the company of modest women. I possess the same ardour as ever in study. as well as to the studious and literary. I knew that I could have but few years to enjoy it. but I hope it is not a misplaced one. I am. they seemed to be disarmed in my behalf of their wonted fury. we may well suppose. though most men any wise eminent. ebooks. capable of attachment. of command of temper. I consider. that were I to name the period of my life.au/h/hume/david/h92my/complete. notwithstanding my frequent disappointments. would have been glad to invent and propagate any story to my disadvantage. April 18. My company was not unacceptable to the young and careless. my ruling passion. have. It is difficult to be more detached from life than I am at present. but they could never find any which they thought would wear the face of probability. I now reckon upon a speedy dissolution. and the same gaiety in company. social. that a man of sixty-five.

Nov. and his conversation and amusements run so much in their usual strain. however. LL." said he. John Home and myself. "as I believe you would not chuse to tell any thing but the truth." "Doctor. his disease was mortal and incurable. together with his other papers. but submitted with the utmost cheerfulness. that I sit down to give you some account of the behaviour of our late excellent friend. to try what might be the effects of a long journey.au/h/hume/david/h92my/complete. and. Hume. with that care and attention which might be expected from a temper so perfectly friendly and affectionate. Home returned with him. you had better tell him. His cheerfulness was so great. with the conversation of his friends. yet his cheerfulness never abated. expecting to have found him at Edinburgh. Mr. therefore. Kirkaldy. by the entreaty of his friends. a better opinion of his own health. Though. he was apparently in much better health than when he left Edinburgh. He set out for London towards the end of April. and the most perfect complacency and resignation. and at Morpeth met with Mr. TO WIlliAM STRAHAN. As I had written to my mother that she might expect me in Scotland. His disease seemed to yield to exercise and change of air. ESQ. and he continued to divert himself. with reading books of amusement. and in a fair way of recovery. My account. 9. that. Upon his return to Edinburgh. Mr. yet he allowed himself to be prevailed upon. that even he himself began to entertain. in his own judgment.12/18/11 My Own Life 1 David Hume LETTER FROMADAM SMITH. shall begin where his ends.1776. Fifeshire." said Doctor Dundas to him one day. though a very melancholy pleasure. though he found himself much weaker. could wish. who had both come down from London on purpose to see him. if I have any. he has left to your care. notwithstanding all bad symptoms. "I shall tell your friend. many people could not believe he was dying. and from that moment he gave up all thoughts of recovery. which. I was under the necessity of continuing my journey. which appeared for some time to have so good an effect upon him.htmI 10/15 . and attended him during the whole of his stay in England. he wrote that account of his own life. He was advised to go to Bath to drink the waters. sometimes in the evening. that I am dying as fast as my enemies.edu. His symptoms. during his last illness. IT is with a real. with a party at his favourite game of whist. and when he arrived in London. DEAR SIR. A few days before he set out. with correcting his own works for a new edition.adelaide. soon returned with their usual violence.D. as usual. Colonel Edmondstone. what he was not apt to do. and as easily and cheerfully as my best friends could ebooks. "that I left you much better.

and on his way home. "Upon further consideration. which he supposed he might make to Charon. "I could not well imagine. among all the excuses which are alleged to Charon for not entering readily into his boat. he had no enemies upon whom he wished to revenge himself. and with imagining the very surly answers which it might suit the character of Charon to return to them. and take leave of him. that they hazarded nothing in talking or writing to him as to a dying man. I am sensible. which he had just received. "what excuse I could make to Charon in order to obtain a little delay. would be a very bad disease at any age: at my age it is a mortal one." said I. and that appearances were in many respects very bad. he could not fmd one that fitted him. he had no daughter to provide for. I feel myself weaker than when I rose in the morning. I told him. in expectation of his own death. in great prosperity. so. you have at least the satisfaction of leaving all your friends.adelaide. he could not forbear writing him a letter bidding him once more an eternal adieu.htmI 11/15 . you will be for making other alterations. and that so far from being hurt by this frankness. He answered. weaker than when I lay down in the evening. honest friend. I have been correcting my works for a new edition. Lucian's Dialogues of the Dead. that though I was sensible how very much he was weakened. I happened to come into his room while he was reading this letter. that when he was reading a few days before. therefore. yet his cheerfulness was still so great. I. he had no house to finish." Colonel Edmondstone soon afterwards came to see him." said he. "if it must be so. Allow me a little time. Hume's magnanimity and firmness were such. and applying to him. Mr. so that I must soon die. and I could at no time expect to leave my relations and friends in a better situation than that in which I am now likely to leave them. There will be no end of such excuses. and which he immediately showed me. An habitual diarrhoea of more than a year's standing. that I may see how the Public receives the alterations. Good Charon. as to a dying man." But Charon would answer. "When you have seen the effect of these. that I could not help entertaining some faint hopes. the Marquis de la Fare. he was rather pleased and flattered by it.edu. that some of my vital parts are affected. the spirit of life seemed still to be so very strong in him. "I thought I might say to him. "Your hopes are groundless. When I lie down in the evening." said he. your brother's family in particular. please step into the boat.au/h/hume/david/h92my/complete.12/18/11 My Own Life 1 David Hume desire." But I might still ebooks. and when I rise in the morning." He then diverted himself with inventing several jocular excuses. the beautiful French verses in which the Abbe Chaulieu." "Well. laments his approaching separation from his friend. besides. I have done every thing of consequence which I ever meant to do. have all reason to die contented. that his most affectionate friends knew." He said that he felt that satisfaction so sensibly.

. of which the following is an extract. Hume himself. impatience. If I live a few years longer. that I ever had with him. I am obliged to make use of my nephew's hand in writing to you. his complaisance and social disposition were still so entire. and which passed on Thursday the 8th of August. he never affected to make any parade of his magnanimity." But. he could not help talking more. He had now become so very weak.adelaide. upon condition that he would send for me whenever he wished to see me. the physician who saw him most frequently. He finds that even the conversation of his most intimate friends fatigues and oppresses him. The conversation which I mentioned above. "MY DEAREST FRIEND. and with greater exertion. naturally made concerning the state of his health. who came to see him. At his own desire. and returned to my mother's house here. was the last. though Mr. for his cheerfulness was still so great. in consequence of the inquiries which his friends. therefore. for he is quite free from anxiety.. "I go very fast to decline." I received the day after a letter from Mr.12/18/11 My Own Life 1 David Hume urge. I have been endeavouring to open the eyes of the Public. which ebooks. 23d August. and it is happy that he does not need it.. as I do not rise to-day . the Doctor wrote me the following letter: "Since my last. you lazy loitering rogue. Mr. good Charon.au/h/hume/david/h92my/complete. where I was staying partly upon his account.htmI 12/15 . or low spirits. He never mentioned the subject but when the conversation naturally led to it. Hume has passed his time pretty easily. Doctor Black. but seldom sees any body. at Kirkaldy. and never dwelt longer upon it than the course of the conversation happened to require: it was a subject indeed which occurred pretty frequently. 1776. goes down stairs once a day.edu. and passes his time very well with the assistance of am using books. Hume always talked of his approaching dissolution with great cheerfulness. Do you fancy I will grant you a lease for so long a term? Get into the boat this instant. I agreed to leave Edinburgh. that when any friend was with him. that will not happen these many hundred years. undertaking. that the company of his most intimate friends fatigued him. ''You loitering rogue. except one. than suited the weakness of his body. in the mean time. "Have a little patience. I may have the satisfaction of seeing the downfal of some of the prevailing systems of superstition. to write me occasionally an account of the state of his health. and amuses himself with reading." But Charon would then lose all temper and decency. On the 22d of August. He sits up. and last night had a small fever. but is much weaker.

and therefore. than that perhaps of any other man I have ever known. His temper. that he could no longer rise out of his bed. but upon the love of independency. Monday. indeed. I thought it improper to write to bring you over. or the steadiness of his resolutions. and soon weakened him so much.htmI 13/15 . The near approach of his death became evident in the night between Thursday and Friday. It was a frugality founded. 26th August. When he became very weak. 1776. The extreme gentleness of his nature never weakened either the firmness of his mind. that nothing could exceed it. "DEAR SIR. ebooks. if I may be allowed such an expression. To his friends.adelaide. so frequently the disagreeable source of what is called wit in other men.au/h/hume/david/h92my/complete. and he died in such a happy composure of mind. seemed to be more happily balanced. who were frequently the objects of it. especially as I heard that he had dictated a letter to you desiring you not to come. it seldom failed to please and delight. it cost him an effort to speak. Even in the lowest state of his fortune. His constant pleasantry was the genuine effusion of good-nature and good-humour. there was not perhaps anyone of all his great and amiable qualities. when his disease became excessive. and free from much pain or feelings of distress. even those who were the objects of it. according as they happen to coincide or disagree with his own.edu. or condemning them. but unluckily it has. every one approving. tempered with delicacy and modesty. concerning whose philosophical opinions men will. Mr. Edinburgh. judge variously. in a great measure. as it is possible for me to see you so small a part of the day. upon proper occasions. Hume expired. always did it with affection and tenderness. Adieu. He never dropped the smallest expression of impatience. but Doctor Black can better inform you concerning the degree of strength which may from time to time remain with me. He continued to the last perfectly sensible. and without even the slightest tincture of malignity. Yesterday about four o'clock afternoon. gone off.12/18/11 My Own Life 1 David Hume I hoped might put a quicker period to this tedious illness." Thus died our most excellent. not upon avarice. and never to be forgotten friend. which contributed more to endear his conversation. far from offending. I cannot submit to your coming over here on my account. It never was the meaning of his raillery to mortify. but when he had occasion to speak to the people about him." Three days after I received the following letter from Doctor Black. but concerning whose character and conduct there can scarce be a difference of opinion. &c. acts both of charity and generosity. And that gaiety of temper. no doubt. his great and necessary frugality never hindered him from exercising.

12/18/11 My Own Life 1 David Hume so agreeable in society. Adam Smith.htmI 14/15 . I have always considered him. I Ever Am.edu. the greatest depth of thought. the most extensive learning. as approaching as nearly to the idea of a perfectly wise and virtuous man. was in him certainly attended with the most severe application. Dear Sir. ebooks. Upon the whole. Most Affectionately Your's. both in his lifetime and since his death. and a capacity in every respect the most comprehensive.adelaide.au/h/hume/david/h92my/complete. as perhaps the nature of human frailty will permit. but which is so often accompanied with frivolous and superficial qualities.

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