history of england_david hume

1 table of contents foreword the life of david hume

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Unformatted text preview: l. 1 Table Of Contents Foreword The Life of David Hume, Esq.: Written By Himself Letter From Adam Smith, Ll.d. to William Strahan, Esq. I: The Britons II. The Anglo-saxons III: Ethelred Appendix I: The Anglo-saxon Government and Manners IV: William the Conqueror V: William Rufus VI: Henry I VII: Stephen VIII: Henry Ii IX: Henry Ii X: Richard I XI: John Appendix II: The Feudal and Anglo-norman Government and Manners This portrait of the author is provided in all the earliest editions of his History. The reversal of letters in the word “philosophy” remains uncorrected throughout. PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 4 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 [Back to Table of Contents] FOREWORD When david hume began his History of England the undertaking came, not from any sudden resolve nor as an entirely new enterprise, but as one possibly contemplated thirteen years before, in 1739, probably attempted several times thereafter, and certainly considered, at least as a corollary discipline, in a philosophical discourse published in 1748. Even so, any concerted effort long sustained necessarily awaited appropriate conditions: all happily combining for Hume upon his election, January, 1752, as Keeper of the Advocates’ Library in Edinburgh. With this appointment the author finally had “a genteel-office,” ready access to a collection of some thirty thousand volumes, and, no less desirable, leisure indefinitely extended to pursue his research. Heretofore, by mere exertion of his own commanding intellect, philosopher Hume had more than once set forth what he perceived to be the “constant and universal principles of human nature.” Now, as a philosophical historian, he could ascertain from dreary chronicles all the aberrations of human behavior as there exhibited in “wars, intrigues, factions, and revolutions.” These and other vagaries, previously recorded simply as odd phenomena, in Hume’s more coherent view constituted a varied range of “materials” documenting the “science of man.” Once intent upon a history so formulated, the immediate question for this author was where to begin. In his own Life (an essay prefixed to the first, 1778, posthumous edition of the History and so reprinted here), Hume ingenuously speaks of being “frightened” away from the very start—that is, from the time of Caesar’s invasion—and so at once passing over seventeen hundred years to “the accession of the House of Stuart [1603], an epoch when, I thought, the misrepresentations of faction began chiefly to take place.” Indeed this was Hume’s final decision, though he earlier admitted in a letter to Adam Smith, 24 September 1752, some inclination to commence with the preceding Tudor “epoch” [1485]. I confess, I was once of the same Opinion with you, & thought that the best Period to begin an English History was about Henry the 7th. But you will please to observe, that the Change, which then happen’d in public Affairs, was very...
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