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stronger inftance of the dangers to which wit and learning are expofed from the malicious fhafts of envy, ignorance, and intolerance, than that of any other author. The tax, indeed, is common to authors of every description, but it frequently falls the heavieft on the highest heads. This profound philofopher, and elegant historian, poffeffed a mild temper; a lively, focial difpofition; a high fenfe of friendship, and an incorruptible integrity. His manners, indeed, appeared, at firft fight, cold and repulfive; fort E 4
father's family were a branch of the Earl of Home's, or Hume's; and his elder brother was in poffeffion of the family eftate. His mother was the daughter of Sir David Falconer, Prefident of the College of Justice, whofe fon fucceeded to the title of Lord Halkertin. His family, however, was not rich; and he being a younger brother, his patrimony, according to the mode of his country, was of course very flender. His father, who paffed for a man of parts, died when he was an infant, leaving him, with an elder brother and a fifter, under the care of their mother, a woman of fingular merit, who, though young and haudfome, devoted herself entirely to the rearing and educating of her children. "I paffed," fays HUME, in the account he has given of his own life," through the ordinary course of education with fuccefs, and was feized very early with a paffion for literature, which has been the ruling paffion of my life, and the great fource of my enjoyments. My ftudious difpofition, my fobriety, and my induftry, gave my family a notion that THE LAW were a proper profeflion for me; but I found an infurmountable averfion to every thing but the pursuits of philosophy and general learning; and while they fancied I was poring over Voet and Vinnius, CICERO and VIRGIL were the authors which I was fecretly devouring.”
he had facrificed little to the Graces; but his mind was unvaryingly chearful, and his affection uncommonly warm and generous; and neither his ardent defire of fame, nor the grofs and unfounded calumnies of his enemies, were capable of disturbing the happy tranquillity of his heart. His life was paffed in the conftant exercise of humanity and benevolence; and even those who had been seduced, by the jealous and vindictive artifices of others, wantonly to attack his fame and character with obloquy and reproach, experienced his kindness, and acknowledged his virtues. He would never, indeed, confess that his friends had ever had occafion to vindicate any one circumstance of his character or conduct, or that he had ever been attacked either by the baleful tooth of envy, or the rage of civil or religious faction. His company, indeed, was equally agreeable to all the claffes of society; and young and old, rich and poor, liftened with pleasure to his conversation, and quitted his company with regret; for, although he was deeply learned, and his difcourfes replete with fagacity and science, he had the happy art of delivering his fentiments upon all fubjects without the appearance of oftentation, or in any way offending the feelings of his hearers.
The interefts of Religion are faid to have suffered by the abufe of his talents; but the precepts
cepts of Christianity were never more powerfully recommended, than by the integrity of his morals, and the purity of his life. His benign and gentle spirit, attached to VIRTUE, and averse from every species of VICE, effentially promoted the practice of piety, and the duties of a religious mind; and did not, as is always the case with the zeal of perfecution and martyrdom, tear away the very foundation of that fabric which it pretends to support. The excellency, indeed, both of the head and the heart of this great and good man, enabled him not only to enjoy himself with perfect felicity, but to contribute to the improvement and increase the happiness of mankind. This is the opinion now generally enter. tained of the character of HUME; but far different were the fentiments of his contemporaries upon this subject. It was not either in a barbarous country, or in an unenlightened age, that he lived; but, although the land was free, the people philofophical, and the spirit of the times provoked the minds of learned men to metaphyfical enquiry, the fame of HUME was wrecked upon his moral and religious writings. He was charged with being a SCEPTIC; but from the propaga
The animofity which prevailed against this elegant writer fcarcely outlived him. He died in the year 1776; and at that period, we find the following converfation recorded relative
gation of certain doctrines, and the freedom of enquiry which had then gone forth, it is impoffible to attribute his difappointments to this cause. A kind
to this fubject. Dr. ADAMS, who had diftinguished himself by an able answer to HUME's" Effay on Miracles," told Mr. BOSWELL, that he had once dined in company with HUME in London; that HUME fhook hands with him, and faid, "You have treated me much better than I deserve ;" and that they exchanged vifits: that Mr. Bos WELL thereupon objected to. treating an infidel with such smooth civility, obferving, that where there is a controverfy concerning a paffage in a claffic author, or concerning a queftion in antiquities, or any other fubject in which human happiness is not deeply interested, a man may treat his antagonist with politeness and respect ; but where the controverfy is concerning the truth of RELIGION, it is of such vaft importance to him who maintains it to obtain the victory, that the person of an opponent ought not to be fpared. If a man firmly believes that Religion is an invaluable treasure, he will confider a writer who endeavours to deprive mankind of it as a robber; he will look upon him as odious, though the infidel might think himself in the right. A robber who reasons as the gang do in the Beggars' Opera, who call themselves practical philofophers, and may have as much fincerity as pernicious fpeculative philofophers, is not the lefs an object of just indignation." Mr. PALEY, who, in his View of the Evidences of Chriftianity, has attacked, and compleatly expofed, the false principles by which the mind of HUME was mifled upon this important fubject, treats his antagonist with candour and liberality, while he subdues him with the superior powers of truth, and thereby more effectually defeats the ill effects which may flow from fuch unfounded doctrines, than if he had, in the language of the biographer alluded to, talked of," kicking him down ftairs," or "running him through the body."
A kind of natural prejudice, indeed, prevailed in England at this period against the Scots; but as he did not experience much favour from his own countrymen, no conclufion can be fairly drawn from this circumftance; and the extraor dinary History of his Literary Tranfactions, a work written by himself, cannot be perused without an equal degree of surprize and concern. The contemptuous repulses which his several compofitions received from the public appear incredible; but the facts he relates are undoubtedly authentic; and while they raise a forrowful regret for the fate of HUME in particular, they must unhappily tend to diminish the ardour of the student who contemplates the various dangers to which his defire of fame is expofed, and may, perhaps, induce him to quit the purfuit of an object “ So hard to gain, so easy to be loft."
Ah! who can tell how hard it is to climb
The steep where FAME's proud temple fhines afar:
In life's low vale remote has pin'd alone,
The health of this disappointed author being in a great degree broken by his too ardent pursuit