such practices and intelligences as she had in former times :
that he hoped to set such persons about her as" (Here the
manuscript is not farther legible.) But though such were
James's sentiments before he apprehended his mother to be
in danger, he adopted a directly opposite conduct afterwards,
as I told you. I can only express my wishes that you may
see reason to conform your narrative in vol. ii. p. 139, 140, to
this account, or omit that Appendix altogether, or find some
other person who can better execute your intentions than it is
possible for me to do.
MR. HUME TO DR. ROBERTSON.
25th January, 1759.
MY DEAR SIR, What I wrote you with regard to Mary's
concurrence in the conspiracy against queen Elizabeth, was
from the printed histories of papers ; and nothing ever ap-
peared to me more evident. Your chief objection, I see,
is derived from one circumstance, that neither the secre-
taries nor conspirators were confronted with Mary ; but you
must consider that the law did not then* require this confron-
tation, and it was in no case the practice. The crown could
not well grant it in one case without granting it in all, be-
cause the refusing of it would then have been a strong pre-
sumption of innocence in the prisoner. Yet as Mary's was
an extraordinary case, Elizabeth was willing to have granted
it. I find in Forbes's manuscript papers, sent me by lord
Royston, a letter of hers to Burleigh and Walsingham,
wherein she tells them, that, if they thought proper, they
might carry down the two secretaries to Fotheringay, in or-
der to confront them with her. But they reply, that they
think it needless.
But I am now sorry to tell you, that by Murden's State
Papers, which are printed, the matter is put beyond all ques-
tion. I got these papers during the holidays by Dr. Birch's
means ; and as soon as I had read them, I ran to Millar, and
desired him very earnestly to stop the publication of your
history till I should write to you, and give you an opportunity
of correcting a mistake of so great moment ; but he absolutely
refused compliance. He said that your book was now finished,
that the copies would be shipped for Scotland in two days,
that the whole narration of Mary's trial must be wrote over
again; that this would require time, and it was uncertain
whether the new narrative could be brought within the same
xxxviii DR. ROBERTSON'S
compass with the old ; that this change, he said, would re-
quire the cancelling a great many sheets ; that there were
scattered passages through the volumes founded on your
theory, and these must also be all cancelled, and that this
change required the new printing of a great part of the edi-
tion. For these reasons, which do not want force, he refused,
after deliberation, to stop his publication, and I was obliged to
acquiesce. Your best apology at present is, that you could
not possibly see the grounds of Mary's guilt, and every equi-
table person will excuse you.
I am sorry, on many accounts, that you did not see this
collection of Murden's. Among other curiosities, there are
several instructions to H. Killigrew, dated the tenth of Sep-
tember, 1572. He was then sent into Scotland. It there
appears, that the regents, Murray and Lennox, had desired
Mary to be put into their hands, in order to try her and put
her to death. Elizabeth there offers to regent Mar, to de-
liver her up, provided good security were given, " that she
should receive that she hath deserved there by order of jus-
tice, whereby no further peril should ensue by her escaping,
or by setting her up again." It is probable Mar refused
compliance, for no steps were taken towards it.
I am nearly printed out, and shall be sure to send you a
copy by the stagecoach, or some other conveyance. I beg of
you to make remarks as you go along. It would have been
much better had we communicated before printing, which
was always my desire, and was most suitable to the friend-
ship which always did, and I hope always will, subsist be-
tween us. I speak this chiefly on my own account. For
though I had the perusal of your sheets before I printed, I
was not able to derive sufficient benefits from them, or indeed
to make any alteration by their assistance. There still re-
main, I fear, many errors, of which you could have convinced
me, if we had canvassed the matter in conversation. Perhaps
I might also have been sometimes no less fortunate with you.
Particularly I could almost undertake to convince you, that
the earl of Murray's conduct with the duke of Norfolk was
no way dishonourable.
I have seen a copy of your history with Charles Stanhope.
Lord Willoughby, who had been there reading some passages
of it, said, that you was certainly mistaken with regard to the
act passed in the last parliament of Mary, settling the refor-
mation. He said that the act of parliament the first of James
was no proof of it : for though that statute contains a statute
where the queen's name was employed, yet that is always the
case with the bills brought into parliament, even though they
receive not the royal assent, nor perhaps pass the houses. I
wish this be not the case, considering the testimony of Bu-
chanan, Calderwood, and Spotiswood. Besides, if the bill had
before received the royal assent, what necessity of repeating
it, or passing it again ? Mary's title was more undisputable
Dr. Blair tells me, that prince Edward is reading you, and
is charmed. I hear the same of the princess and prince of
Wales. But what will really give you pleasure, I lent my
copy to Elliot during the holidays, who thinks it one of the
finest performances he ever read ; and though he expected
much, he finds more. He remarked, however, (which is also
my opinion,) that in the beginning, before your pen was suf-
ficiently accustomed to the historic style, you employed too
many digressions and reflections. This was also somewhat
my own case, which I have corrected in my new edition.
Millar was proposing to publish me about the middle of
March, but I shall communicate to him your desire, even
though I think it entirely groundless, as you will likewise
think after you have read my volume. He has very need-
lessly delayed your publication till the first of February, at
the desire of the Edinburgh booksellers, who could no way be
affected by a publication in London. I was exceedingly sorry
not to be able to comply with your desire, when you expressed
your wish, that I should not write this period. I could not
write downward. For when you find occasion, by new dis-
coveries, to correct your opinion with regard to facts which
passed in queen Elizabeth's days ; who, that has not the best
opportunities of informing himself, could venture to relate
any recent transactions? I must therefore have abandoned
altogether this scheme of the English history, in which I had
proceeded so far, if I had not acted as I did. You will see
what light and force this history of the Tudors bestows on
that of the Stewarts. Had I been prudent, I should have
begun with it. I care not to boast, but I will venture to
say, that I have now effectually stopped the mouths of all
those villanous whigs who railed at me.
xl DR. ROBERTSON'S
You are so kind as to ask me about my coming down. I can
yet answer nothing. I have the strangest reluctance to change
places. I lived several years happy with my brother at Nine-
wells, and had not his marriage changed a little the state of
the family, I believe I should have lived and died there. I
used every expedient to evade this journey to London, yet it
is now uncertain whether I shall ever leave it. I have had
some invitations, and some intentions of taking a trip to Paris ;
but I believe it will be safer for me not to go thither, for I
might probably settle there for life. No one was ever en-
dowed with so great a portion of the ' vis inertiae.' But as I
live here very privately, and avoid as much as possible (and
it is easily possible) all connexions with the great, I believe
I should be better at Edinburgh.
MK. HUME TO DR. ROBERTSON.
London, 8th February, 1759.
* * As to the Age of Leo the Tenth, it was Warton
himself who intended to write it ; but he has not wrote it,
and probably never will. If I understand your hint, I should
conjecture, that you had some thoughts of taking up the sub-
ject. But how can you acquire knowledge of the great works
of sculpture, architecture, and painting, by which that age
was chiefly distinguished? Are you versed in all the anec-
dotes of the Italian literature ? These questions I heard pro-
posed in a company of literati, when I inquired concerning
this design of Warton. They applied their remarks to that
gentleman, who yet, they say, has travelled. I wish they do
not all of them fall more fully on you. However you must
not be idle. May I venture to suggest to you the ancient
history, particularly that of Greece ? I think Rollin's suc-
cess might encourage you, nor need you be the least intimi-
dated by his merit. That author has no other merit but a
certain facility and sweetness of narration, but has loaded his
work with fifty puerilities.
Our friend, Wedderburn, is advancing with great strides in
his profession. * *
I desire my compliments to lord Elibank. I hope his lord-
ship has forgot his vow of answering us, and of washing queen
Mary white. I am afraid that is impossible ; but his lordship
is well qualified to gild her.
I am, etc.
MR. HUME TO DR. ROBERTSON.
* * * * * *
I FORGOT to tell you, that two days ago I was in the house
of commons, where an English gentleman came to me, and
told me, that he had lately sent to a grocer's shop for a pound
of raisins, which he received wrapt up in a paper that he
showed me. How would you have turned pale at the sight !
It was a leaf of your history, and the very character of queen
Elizabeth, which you had laboured so finely, little thinking it
would so soon come to so disgraceful an end. I happened a
little after to see Millar, and told him the story ; consulting
him, to be sure, on the fate of his new boasted historian of
whom he was so fond. But the story proves more serious
than I apprehended. For he told Strahan, who thence sus-
pects villany among his prentices and journeymen ; and has .
sent me very earnestly to know the gentleman's name, that
he may find out the grocer, and trace the matter to the bot-
tom. In vain did I remonstrate that this was sooner or later
the fate of all authors, ' serius, ocyus, sors exitura.' He will
not be satisfied ; and begs me to keep my jokes for another
occasion. But that I am resolved not to do; and, therefore,
being repulsed by his passion and seriousness, I direct them
Next week I am published ; and then I expect a constant
comparison will be made between Dr. Robertson and Mr.
Hume. I shall tell you in a few weeks which of these heroes
is likely to prevail. Meanwhile, I can inform both of them
for their comforts, that their combat is not likely to make half
so much noise as that between Broughton and the one-eyed
coachman. ' Vanitas vanitatum. atque omnia vanitas.' I shall
still except, however, the friendship and good opinion of wor-
I am, etc.
MR. HUME TO DR. ROBERTSON.
London, 12th March, 1759.
MY DEAR SIR, I believe I mentioned to you, a French
gentleman, monsieur Helvetius, whose book, De 1'Esprit,
was making a great noise in Europe. He is a very fine
genius, and has the character of a very worthy man. My
name is mentioned several times in his work with marks of
xlii DR. ROBERTSON'S
esteem ; and he has made me an offer, if I would translate his
work into English, to translate anew all my philosophical
writings into French. He says, that none of them are well
done, except that on the Natural History of Religion, by
monsieur Matigny, a counsellor of state. He added, that
the abbe Prevot, celebrated for the Memoires d'un Homme
d'Honueur, and other entertaining books, was just now trans-
lating my history. This account of Helvetius engaged me to
send him over the new editions of all my writings; and I
have added your history, which, I told him, was here pub-
lished with great applause ; adding, that the subject was
interesting, and the execution masterly ; and that it was pro-
bable some man of letters at Paris may think that a transla-
tion of it would be agreeable to the public. I thought that
this was the best method of executing your intentions. I
could not expect that any Frenchman here would be equal to
the work. There is one Carracioli, who came to me and
spoke of translating my new volume of history ; but, as he
also mentioned his intentions of translating Smollett, I gave
him no encouragement to proceed. The same reason would
make me averse to see you in his hands.
But though I have given this character of your work to
monsieur Helvetius, I warn you, that this is the last time
that, either to Frenchman or Englishman, I shall ever speak
the least good of it. A plague take you ! Here I sat near
the historical summit of Parnassus, immediately under Dr.
Smollett ; and you have the impudence to squeeze yourself by
me, and place yourself directly under his feet. Do you ima-
gine that this can be agreeable to me ? And must not I be
guilty of great simplicity to contribute by my endeavours to
your thrusting me out of my place in Paris as well as at
London ? But I give you warning that you will find the
matter somewhat difficult, at least in the former city. A
friend of mine, who is there, writes home to his father the
strangest accounts on that head ; which my modesty will not
permit me to repeat, but which it allowed me very deliciously
I have got a good reason or pretence for excusing me to
monsieur Helvetius with regard to the translating his work.
A translation of it was previously advertised here.
I remain, etc.
MB. HUME TO Dn. ROBERTSON.
London, 29th May, 1759.
Mr DEAR SIR, I had a letter from Helvetius lately, wrote
before your book arrived at Paris. He tells me that the abbe
Prevot, who had just finished the translation of my history,
paroit tres-dispose a traduire 1'Histoire d'Ecosse que vient de
faire monsieur Robertson. If he be engaged by my persua-
sion, I shall have the satisfaction of doing you a real credit
and pleasure : for he is one of the best pens in Paris.
I looked with great impatience in your new edition for the
note you seemed to intend with regard to the breach of the
capitulation of Perth ; and was much disappointed at missing
it. I own that I am very curious on that head. I cannot so
much as imagine a colour upon which their accusations could
possibly be founded. The articles were only two ; indemnity
to the inhabitants, and the exclusion of French soldiers now
that Scotch national troops were not Frenchmen and foreign-
ers seems pretty apparent : and both Knox and the manifesto
of the congregation acquit the queen-regent of any breach of
the first article, as I had observed in my note to page 422.
This makes me suspect that some facts have escaped me ; and
I beg you to indulge my curiosity by informing me of them.
Our friend Smith 3 is very successful here, and Gerard b is
very well received. The Epigoniad I cannot so much promise
for, though I have done all in my power to forward it, parti-
cularly by writing a letter to the Critical Review, which you
may peruse. I find, however, some good judges profess a
great esteem for it, but ' habent et sua fata libelli :' however,
if you want a little flattery to the author, (which I own is
very refreshing to an author,) you may tell him that lord
Chesterfield said to me he was a great poet. I imagine that
Wilkie will be very much elevated by praise from an English
earl, and a knight of the garter, and an ambassador, and a
secretary of state, and a man of so great reputation. For I
observe that the greatest rustics are commonly most affected
with such circumstances.
Ferguson's book c has a great deal of genius and fine writ-
ing, and will appear in time.
a Theory of Moral Sentiments. b Essay on Taste.
c Essay on the History of Civil Society.
xliv DR. ROBERTSON'S
FROM DR. BIRCH TO DR. ROBERTSON.
London, Feb. 8th, 1759.
DEAR SIR, I have just read over the second volume of
your excellent history ; and the satisfaction which I have re-
ceived from the perusal of it, and the gratitude which I owe
you for the honour done me in it, as well as for so valuable a
present, will not permit me to lose one post in returning you
my sincerest acknowledgments. My lord Royston likewise,
desires me to transmit to you his thanks and compliments in
the strongest terms.
Though your work has been scarce a fortnight in the hands
of the public, I can already inform you, upon the authority of
the best judges, that the spirit and elegance of the composi-
tion, and the candour, moderation, and humanity which run
through it, will secure you the general approbation both of
the present age and posterity, and raise the character of our
country in a species of writing, in which, of all others, it has
been most defective.
If the second volume of the State Papers of lord Burghley,
published since Christmas here, had appeared before your
history had been finished, it would have furnished you with
reasons for entertaining a less favourable opinion of Mary
queen of Scots in one or two points, than you seem at present
possessed of. The principal is, with regard to her last in-
trigues and correspondences, which were the immediate cause
of her death. And I could wish you had likewise seen a
manuscript account of her trial in lord Royston's possession.
This account is much fuller than Camden's, whose history is
justly to be suspected in every thing relating to her ; or than
any other that has yet seen the light. It contains so ample a
state of the evidence produced of her guilt, as, I think, leaves
no doubt of it ; notwithstanding that the witnesses were not
confronted with her ; a manner of proceeding, which, though
certainly due to every person accused, was not usual either
before her time or long after.
You conclude in the note, vol. i. p. 307, in favour of her
innocence from any criminal intrigue with Rizzio, from the
silence of Randolph on that head. But I apprehend, that in
opposition to this allegation you may be urged with the joint
letter of that gentleman and the earl of Bedford of the twenty-
seventh of March, 1566, in your Appendix, No. xv. p. 22.
I desire you to make my compliments acceptable to sir
David Dalrymple and Mr. Davidson, and believe me to be, etc.
FROM SIR GILBERT ELLIOT TO DR. ROBERTSON.
Admiralty, January 20th, 1759.
DEAR SIR, Millar has just sent me the History of Scot-
land. I cannot imagine why he should delay the publication
so long as the first of February, for I well know that the
printing has been completed a great while. You could have
sent me no present which on its own account I should have
esteemed so much ; but you have greatly enhanced its value,
by allowing me to accept it as a memorial and testimony of a
friendship which I have long cultivated with equal satisfaction
and sincerity. I am no stranger to your book, though your
copy is but just put into my hands : David Hume so far in-
dulged my impatience, as to allow me to carry to the country,
during the holidays, the loose sheets which he happened to
have by him. In that condition I read it quite through with
the greatest satisfaction, and in much less time than I ever
employed on any portion of history of the same length. I had
certainly neither leisure nor inclination to exercise the func-
tion of a critic ; carried along with the stream of the narra-
tion, I only felt, when I came to the conclusion, that you had
greatly exceeded the expectations I had formed, though I do
assure you these were not a little sanguine. If upon a more
deliberate perusal, I discover any blemish, I shall point it out
without any scruple : at present, it seems to me that you have
rendered the period you treat of as interesting as any part of
our British story ; the views you open of policy, manners, and
religion, are ingenious, solid, and deep. Your work will cer-
tainly be ranked in the highest historical class; and for my
own part, I think it besides, a composition of uncommon
genius and eloquence. I was afraid you might have been
interrupted by the reformation, but I find it much otherwise ;
you treat it with great propriety, and in my opinion with suf-
ficient freedom. No revolution, whether civil or religious,
can be accomplished without that degree of ardour and pas-
sion, which, in a later age, will be matter of ridicule to men
who do not feel the occasion, and enter into the spirit of the
xlvi DR. ROBERTSON'S
times. But I must not get into dissertations ; I hope you
will ever believe me, with great regard,
Your most obedient and faithful servant,
FROM BARON D'HOLBACH TO DR. ROBERTSON.
Paris, the 30th of May, 1768.
SIR, I received but a few days ago the favour of your
letter, sent to me by Mr. Andrew Stuart : I am very proud
of being instrumental in contributing to the translation of the
valuable work you are going to publish. The excellent work
you have published already is a sure sign of the reception
your History of Charles the fifth will meet with in the conti-
nent ; such an interesting subject deserves undoubtedly the
attention of all Europe. You are very much in the right of
being afraid of the hackney translators of Holland and Paris ;
accordingly I thought it my duty to find out an able hand
capable of answering your desire. M. Suard, a gentleman
well known for his style in French, and his knowledge in the
English language, has, at my request, undertaken the transla-
tion of your valuable book ; I know nobody in this country
capable of performing better such a grand design. Conse-
quently the best way will be for your bookseller, as soon as
he publishes one sheet, to send it immediately a monsieur
M. Suard, directeur de la Gazette de France, rue St. Roch a
Paris. By means of this the sheets of your book will be
translated as soon as they come from the press, provided the
bookseller of London is very strict in not showing the same
favour to any other man upon the continent.
I have the honour to be,
With great consideration,
Your most obedient and humble servant,
FROM MR. HUME TO DR. ROBERTSON.
Paris, 1st December, 1763.
DEAR ROBERTSON, Among other agreeable circumstances,
which attend me at Paris, I must mention that of having a
lady for a translator, a woman of merit, the widow of an advo-
cate. She was before very poor, and known but to few; but
this work has got her reputation, and procured her a pension
from the court, which sets her at her ease. She tells me,
that she has got a habit of industry ; and would continue, if I
could point out to her any other English book she could un-
dertake, without running the risque of being anticipated by any
other translator. Your History of Scotland is translated,
and is in the press : but I recommended to her your History of
Charles the fifth, and promised to write to you, in order to
know when it would be printed, and to desire you to send
over the sheets from London as they came from the press ; I
should put them into her hands, and she would by that means
have the start of every other translator. My two volumes
last published are at present in the press. She has a very
easy natural style ; sometimes she mistakes the sense ; but I
now correct her manuscript ; and should be happy to render
you the same service, if my leisure permit me, as I hope it
will. Do you ask me about my course of life ? I can only
say, that I eat nothing but ambrosia, drink nothing but nec-
tar, breathe nothing but incense, and tread on nothing but
flowers. Every man I meet, and still more every lady,
would think they were wanting in the most indispensable
duty if they did not make to me a long and elaborate ha-
rangue in my praise. What happened last week, when I had
the honour of being presented to the D n's children at
Versailles, is one of the most curious scenes I ever yet passed
through. The due de B. the eldest, a boy of ten years old,
stepped forth and told me how many friends and admirers I
had in this country, and that he reckoned himself in the num-
ber from the pleasure he had received from the reading of
many passages in my works. When he had finished, his