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Among the papers which have been preserved, is one of a remarkable kind,—a journal of that philosopher and historian's conversation and opinions delivered during the progress of a journey, which those two friends made in company to Bath, a very short while before Mr David Hume's death. That journey was highly honourable to Mr John Home, from the cordial and disinterested attachment which it shewed him to entertain for his illustrious friend.
He was at London with his wife, when he received accounts of the dangerous situation of Mr David Hume's health, and that he proposed a journey to Bath, as one of the possible means for restoring it. Mr Home instantly set off for Scotland, with the design of attending him in that journey, and ministering to him whatever ease or comfort the society of so intimate and long-tried a friend could afford. Mr Hume felt very sensibly the kindness of this measure, and it seemed to have answered, in no inconsiderable degree, the good purpose which it was intended to serve. They travelled by easy stages, they discoursed by the road with an easy unconstrained familiarity, which a sick man, in his moments of ease, can indulge without fatigue; and, in the evening, when they came early to their resting-place for the night, they played at picquet, a game of which they were both fond enough, as well as skilful in, to find an interesting amusement. When Mr Hume went to bed, naturally from his situation, at an earlier hour than his friend, Mr John Home used to put down notes of the conversation which the preceding day had afforded.
Its value, in his estimation, was such, that he got it fairly copied out, with an intention of having it published; but the historian's nephew, our excellent colleague Mr Professor Hume, whose leave he asked previously to carrying this design into execution, conceived, that at that time it would not have been proper for publication; and that in his own very significant words (addressed to Mr John Home, in answer to a letter asking his leave to make this publication), it was one which he thought his uncle, had he been alive, would have objected to. The same reasons, however, not subsisting now, he has given me leave to insert it in this place.
The Society will perceive in those unreserved effusions, the general turn and complexion of Mr Hume's historical notions. Such familiar sketches give the bent and contour of a person's mind, perhaps more truly than his elaborate compositions, as portraits drawn in a night-gown and slippers, shew the figure more freely and more naturally, than when they are finished in the costume of rank or ceremony.
The letters from Mr Hume, which are subjoined to the journal—the notes to Dr Blair, and the Codicil to Mr Hume's Will, must interest, from the peculiar situation in which they were written. The Codicil was of his own hand-writing, and dated 7th August, 1776. He died on the 25th of that month.
Copy Letter Mr Adam Fergusson to Mr John Home, dated at Edinburgh, the llth day of April, 1776.
"I AM much such a correspondent as usual; and for some little time have been in doubt where a letter might find you. But David shewed me a line from you to-day, by which you desire to have your letters sent to London, and after such a preamble, you may guess that my silence proceeded in part from want of matter here. The loss of one friend, and the danger of another, are not subjects that make people in haste to write. David, I am afraid, loses ground. He is chearful, and in good spirits as usual, but I confess that my hopes, from the effects of the turn of the season towards spring, have very much abated. A journey to the south, particularly to Bath, has been mentioned to him; but the thoughts of being from home, hurried at inns, and exposed to irregular meals, are very disagreeable to him. Black is of opinion that he ought not to expose himself to any thing that is so; and that for his complaints, the tranquillity and usual amusement of his own fire-side, with proper diet, is his hest regimen; so that I think the thoughts of any journey are at present laid aside. I hope we shall see you here soon, and that your attentions will contribute to preserve what we can so ill spare.
"I am, dear John,
"Most affectionately yours,
Note by Mr John Home.
"Soon after Mr Home received the letter from Dr Ferguson, he left London, and set out for Scotland with Mr Adam Smith. They came to Morpeth on the 23d of April, 1776, and would have passed Mr David Hume, if they had not seen his servant, Colin, standing at the gate of an inn. Mr Home thinks that his friend, Mr David Hume, is much better than he expected to find him. His spirits are astonishing: He talks of his illness, of his death, as matters of no moment, and gives an account of what passed between him and his physicians since his illness began, with his usual wit, or with more wit than usual.
"He acquainted Mr Adam Smith and me, that Dr Black had not concealed the opinion he had of the desperateness of his condition, and was rather averse to his setting out. "Have you no reason against it," said David, "but an apprehension that it may make me die sooner ?—that is no reason at all." I never saw him more chearful, or in more perfect possession of all his faculties, his memory, his understanding, his wit. It is agreed that Smith shall go on to Scotland, and that I should proceed to Bath with David. We are to travel one stage before dinner, and one after dinner. Colin tells me that he thinks Mr Hume better than when he left Edinburgh. We had a fine evening as we went from Morpeth to Newcastle. David seeing a pair of pistols in the chaise, said, that as he had very little at stake, he would indulge me in my humour of fighting the highwaymen. Whilst supper was getting ready at the inn, Mr Hume and I played an hour at picquet. Mr David was very keen about his card playing."
"Newcastle, Wednesday, %4>th April.
"Mb Hume not quite so well in the morning
—says, that he had set out merely to please his
friends; that he would go on to please them; that
Fergusson and Andrew Stuart, (about whom we