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OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.
DAVID HUME TO MATTHEW SHARP, ESQ.
Welde Hall, near St. Alban's, April 25th, 1745. MY DEAR SIR, I Am informed that such a popular clamour has been raised against me in Edinburgh, on account of scepticism, heterodoxy, and other hard names, which confound the ignorant, that my friends find some difficulty in working out the point of my professorship, which once appeared so easy. Did I need a testimonial for my orthodoxy, I should certainly appeal to you ; for you know that I always imitated Job's friends, and defended the cause of Providence, when you attacked it on account of the headachs you felt after a debauch. But, as a more particular explication of that particular seems superfluous, I shall only apply to you for a renewal of your good offices
with your nephew, Lord Tinwel, whose interest with Yeths and Allan may be of service to me. There is no time to lose ; so that I must beg you to be speedy in writing to him or speaking to him on that head. A word to the wise, even that is not necessary to a friend such as I have always esteemed and found you to be.
I live here very comfortably with the Marquis of Annandale, who, I suppose you have heard, sent me a letter of invitation, along with a bill of 1001., about two months ago. Every thing is much better than I expected from the accounts I heard after I came to London. For the secrecy with which I stole away from Edinburgh, and which I thought necessary for preserving my interest there, kept me entirely ignorant of his situation : my lord never was in so good a way before. He has a regular family, honest servants, and every thing is managed genteelly and with economy; he has entrusted all his English affairs to a mighty honest friendly man, Captain Vincent, who is cousin-german to the marchioness. And, as my lord has now taken as strong a turn to solitude and repose as he formerly had to company and agitation, 'tis to be hoped that his good parts and excellent dispositions may at last, being accompanied with more health and tranquillity, render him a comfort to his friends, if not an ornament to his country. As you live in the neighbourhood of the marchioness, it may give her a pleasure to hear these particulars. I am, dear sir, your most affectionate humble servant,
DAVID HUME TO MATTHEW SHARP, ESQ.
Edinburgh, 25th Feb. 1754. I HAVE enclosed this letter under one to my friend Mr. Blacklock*, who has retired to Dumfries, and proposes to reside there for some time. His character and situation are, no doubt, known to you, and challenge the greatest regard from every one who has either good taste or sentiments of humanity. He has printed a collection of poems, which his friends are endeavouring to turn to the best account for him. Had he published them in the common way, their merit would have recommended them sufficiently to common sale; but, in that case, the greatest part of the profit would have redounded to the booksellers. His friends, therefore, take copies from him, and distribute them among their acquaintances. The poems, if I have the smallest judgment, are, many of them, extremely beautiful, and all of them remarkable for correctness and propriety. Every man of taste, from the merit of the performance, would be inclined to purchase them; every benevolent man, from the situation of the author, would wish to encourage him: and as for those who have neither taste nor benevolence, they should be forced, by importunity, to do good against their will. I must, therefore, recommend it to you to send for a cargo of these poems, which the author's great modesty will prevent
* The celebrated blind poet, whose amiable disposition and uncommon vivacity rendered him a general favourite.
him from offering to you, and to engage your acquaintance to purchase them.
But, dear sir, I would fain go further. I would fain presume upon our friendship (which now begins to be ancient between us) and recommend to your civilities a man who does honour to his country by his talents, and disgraces it by the little encouragement he has hitherto inet with, He is a man of very extensive knowledge, and of singular good dispositions ; and his poetical, though very much to be admired, is the least part of his merit. He is very well qualified to instruct youth, by his acquaintance both with the languages and sciences; and possesses so many arts of supplying the want of sight, that the imperfection would be no hinderance. Perhaps he may entertain some such project in Dumfries, and be assured you could not do your friends a more real service than by recommending them to him. Whatever scheme he may choose to embrace, I was desirous you should be prepossest in his favour, and be willing to lend him your countenance and protection, which, I am sensible, would be of great advantage to him.
Since I saw you, I have not been idle. I have endeavoured to make some use of the library *, which was entrusted to me, and have employed myself in a composition of British history, be ginning with the union of the two crowns. 1 have finished the reign of James and Charles, and will soon send them to the press. I have
* The Advocates' Library, in which, for a time, Mr. Hume held a situation.