15. Dear Jack, 41

I was told by Davie Ross 42 t'other day a Measure of your Fathers with regard to you, which, I own, I wou'd blame in the strongest Terms if Decency did not forbid me. Surely, your Faults are very slight in comparison of your good Qualities; and your Behaviour towards him has even been laudable. Among your Faults(for I own you have some) I place a Degree of Spleen and Peevishness; which I regret the most of any, because it renders you unhappy: I dread the Effects which may result from such a Disposition, after the Treatment you have met with. But, my Dear Jack, recollect your Good sense; and never from Despair take Revenge on Yourself for the Injuries which others may do you. Your Father, as Mr Ross tells me, is willing to allow you 500 a year, which indeed is too little for a young Man who has such Prospects; and considering your way of living, and the Company you frequent, it is impossible you can limit yourself to it. Yet you thought (and the World will think) that if he had allowd you 800, he woud not have been altogether unreasonable; and that you coud with a very little Oeconomy have subsisted on it. I entreat you; from&persist in that plan of Life: When I left you, Fortune had favour'd you; and you were considerably in Cash. Add, from your present Stock, 300 a year to your Allowance: / Even, if it were 500 a Year, it woud not much hurt you: And time will certainly bring you relief, if you remain quiet. Above all things, (I entreat you)but need I finish what I have to say: You conjecture my Meaning; and all Entreaties are vain, if you do not, within yourself, form a determin'd Resolution. But be assur'd, that that Weakness is the only Pretence your Father has for his Conduct, and the only thing that can justify him even in the Eyes of his most partial Friends. Deprive him of that Pretence; and give all your Friends the Satisfaction of being able to justify you in that particular.

But so much for sage Council; which indeed was superfluous. For you knew beforehand the Truth of all I have said. We shall therefore. talk of another Subject. It has happened as you forsaw; that I shoud at last, whether I wou'd or not, be oblig'd to give to the Public an Account of this ridiculous Affair between Rousseau and me. 43 D'alembert has made use of the discretionary Power I gave him, and has printed the Narrative you saw, with a Preface, giving an Account of the Necessity which he lay under to do so. 44 The only thing, that displeases me is a Declaration annex'd, which is very disobliging to Horace Walpole 45: There is also a little Squib thrown at Mde du Duffan 46 if I understand it right. Besides, some obliging things which I said, from my sincere Sentiments, of Mr Walpole, are expung'd which is a little/unaccountable. It is possible, that a Man of such Parts& Virtues as Dalembert can bear an Ill will to Mr Walpole merely because the latter has a Friendship for a Person whom the former hates? And does Philosophy serve us to so little Purpose? Voltaire says you are a Philosopher: And all the World knows Rousseau to be one: Voltaire himself is also one: I say nothing; but the Devil himself will not hinder me from thinking.

I have wrote to Mr Walpole about this Affair of Dalemberts Declaration 47; and as he makes Profession of being no Philosopher, I doubt not but I shall find him a reasonable Man. I only forgot to mention one thing to Mr Walpole, which I desire you to mention to him, when you see him. It is this: The Duke of Richmond 48 may think it odd, that in a Letter of mine to Rousseau 49 I shou'd have promis'd him the Duke's good Offices, tho' I had never spoke to his Grace on the Subject. But my Reason for trusting to the Duke was, that I knew his great Esteem for Rousseau, and Mr Walpole besides, promisd me, if it was necessary, his good Offices with the Duke, as he had already done with General Conway 50.

I desire no Politics from you, except an Account of your hopes to succeed in obtaining a Seat next Parliament 51. I am Dear Jack

Yours sincerely
David Hume

Edinburgh 5 of Novr
1766


41.

John Crawford (d.1814), son of Patrick Crawford of Auchenaines, William Mure's friend(see n.14 above; nicknamed “Fish” on account of his restless enquisitiveness; “one of the gayest young gentlemen and the greatest gambler that ever belonged to Scotland”(John Macdonald, Memories of an Eighteenth Century Footman, 1745-1779, ed.John Beresford, London, 1927, p.82; cited in NHL 74n.); had become Hume's friend in Paris between 1763 and 1776.

Though this letter is addressed only to “Dear Jack,” the identity of the recipient is clear from the first line. Hume followed it ten days later with another letter on the same subject. (NHL74)An inveterate gambler, Crawford was on bad terms with his father, who was taking drastic measure to curb his extravagances. Hume seems to have been of some assistance in effecting a reconciliation between the young rake and his father, and perhaps in attenuating his gambling prodigalities. (NHL 75) It is, however, possible that the moderate tone of this letter was still too strong for Hume's taste, and that he never sent it. The earliest of his other letters to Crawford is dated 15 November 1766, and begins in much the same manner as this one: “I was told, Dear Jack, by Davie Ross, that your Father had taken out an Inhibition against you...”(NHL 74) That letter is unsigned, however, and Hume could have been responding to a letter of Crawford's written before he had Hume's of 5 November. (see Hilson and Price, 125)

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42.

David Ross (1727-1805), Edinburgh lawyer; raised to the Bench as Lord Ankerville, 1776.

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43.

The famous quarrel between Hume and Rousseau. The work to which Hume alludes is the Exposé succinct de la contestation qui s'est élevée entre M.Hume et M.Rousseau, avec les pièces justificatives, which appeared at Paris in October 1766. The English translation appeared in November as A Concise and Genuine Account of the Dispute between Mr.Hume and Mr.Rousseau. See Mossner 507-532.

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44.

Jean le Rond d'Alembert (1717-83), one of the French philosophes most admired by Hume. D'Alembert had added some strictures on Walpole's part in the affaire. Walpole was much annoyed with d'Alembert.

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45.

Horace Walpole (1717-97), 4th Earl of Orford, 1791; prince of English letterwriters; author of Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors, 1758, The Castle of Otranto, 1765, Memories of the Last Ten Years of George II, first published 1822, Memoires of the Reign of George III, first published 1845, &c.

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46.

Marie de Vichy Chamrond (1697-1780), m. (1718) Jean-Baptiste de la Lande (d.1750), marquis du Deffand; French salonnière, and friend and correspondent of Horace Walpole.

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47.

HL 357.

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48.

Charles Lennox (1735-1806), 3rd Duke of Richmond and, in France, duc d'Aubigny. Hume would probably have made his acquaintance in November 1765, when the Duke and his brother arrived in Paris to take over Lord Hertford's Embassy. Hume had become Embassy Secretary to Lord Hertford in September 1763.

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49.

HL 328.

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50.

Henry Seymour Conway (1719-95), younger brother of Lord Hertford; first cousin to Horace Walpole. Secretary of State, Southern Department, 1765-6, and Northern Department, 1766-8, when Hume was his Under-Secretary. He and Lord Hertford both urged publication of the Concise Account, and received one of the ten copies of the French edition which Hume requested of William Strahan. See HL 353.

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51.

Crawford was not elected to Parliament until 1774, when he became member for Renfrewshire. Crawford had asked Baron Mure of Cauldwell to make Hume a voter in Renfrew, but Hume did not vote for him. See HL 494.

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