Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary
1. [The editions from 1752 to 1768 read "cases" rather than "causes." See Eugene Rotwein, David Hume: Writings on Economics (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1955), p. 4. Hume's point here is that general principles can be established concerning domestic politics and commercial or economic affairs because one finds regularities of behavior in these areas of life. These regularities arise from two principal causes: the institutions of government and the human passions. As Hume has observed earlier, there can be a science of politics because laws and forms of government shape human actions in a uniform way (see above, p. 16). Moreover, domestic politics, and commerce in particular, arise from the more universal passions, which tend to operate "at all times, in all places, and upon all persons" (p. 113).]
2. Mons. MELON, in his political essay on commerce, asserts, that even at present, if you divide FRANCE into 20 parts, 16 are labourers or peasants; two only artizans; one belonging to the law, church, and military; and one merchants, financiers, and bourgeois. This calculation is certainly very erroneous. In FRANCE, ENGLAND, and indeed most parts of EUROPE, half of the inhabitants live in cities; and even of those who live in the country, a great number are artizans, perhaps above a third. [Jean-François Melon (1675?-1738), Essai politique sur le commerce (1734; expanded 2d ed., 1736; translated ed., A Political Essay Upon Commerce, 1738).]
7. TITI LIVII, lib. vii. cap. 24. "Adeo in quæ laboramus," says he, "sola crevimus, divitias luxuriemque." [Livy, History of Rome 7.25: "... so strictly has our growth been limited to the only things for which we strive,—wealth and luxury" (Loeb translation by B. O. Foster). Livy is writing of Rome in 348 B.C., when Camillus was dictator.]
8. The more ancient ROMANS lived in perpetual war with all their neighbours: And in old LATIN, the term hostis, expressed both a stranger and an enemy. This is remarked by CICERO; but by him is ascribed to the humanity of his ancestors, who softened, as much as possible, the denomination of an enemy, by calling him by the same appellation which signified a stranger. De Off. lib. ii. [1.12 in the Loeb edition.] It is however much more probable, from the manners of the times, that the ferocity of those people was so great as to make them regard all strangers as enemies, and call them by the same name. It is not, besides, consistent with the most common maxims of policy or of nature, that any state should regard its public enemies with a friendly eye, or preserve any such sentiments for them as the ROMAN orator would ascribe to his ancestors. Not to mention, that the early ROMANS really exercised piracy, as we learn from their first treaties with CARTHAGE, preserved by POLYBIUS, lib. iii. and consequently, like the SALLEE and ALGERINE rovers, were actually at war with most nations, and a stranger and an enemy were with them almost synonimous. [The Sallee and Algerine rovers were pirates who operated from the Barbary Coast of North Africa.]
Part II, Essay II
13. [Petronius (died A.D. 65), an intimate of Nero and his official "arbiter of taste," is probably author of the satirical novel known as the Satyricon, a surviving portion of which describes the absurd conduct of a wealthy freedman, Trimalchio, as he becomes increasingly drunk at a banquet.]
16. The inscription on the PLACE-DE-VENDOME says 440,000. [Hume refers in the text to Louis XIV, who died in 1715. Louis had assumed absolute power upon the death of his minister, the Cardinal Mazarin, in 1661. Louis-Joseph, duc de Vendôme, was one of the king's leading generals during the War of the Grand Alliance (1689-97) and the early years of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14). England was allied against France in both wars.]
17. [Datames was a Persian commander and satrap who led a rebellion against Artaxerxes II around 362 B.C. He is praised by Cornelius Nepos (100?-24? B.C.) as the bravest and most prudent of all the barbarian commanders, except for the two Carthaginians Hamilcar and Hannibal. See De Viris Illustribus (Lives of illustrious men), in the life of Datames.]
18. [Pyrrhus, the greatest king of Epirus (the "mainland" north and west of Greece, in present-day Albania), fought against the Romans between 280 and 275 B.C. The statement quoted by Hume was made before the battle of Heraclea. See Plutarch, Lives, in the life of Pyrrhus, sec. 16. After winning the battle at high cost, Pyrrhus remarked, "If I win a victory in one more battle with the Romans, I shall not have left a single soldier of those who crossed over with me" (Diodorus, Library of History 22.6.2; Loeb translation by Francis R. Walton). Hence the phrase Pyrrhic victory.]
19. [See Sallust, The War with Catiline, secs. 6-12. Sallust took advantage of his position as provincial governor of Nova Africa to amass great riches, and he escaped prosecution only by bribery. After retiring to his luxurious gardens in Rome to write history, he admitted in his works that he had once been driven to vice by ambition.]
20. [Prerogative refers to the executive powers of the Crown and, more broadly, to its supposed right even to disobey the law if this is required for the public safety. The royal prerogative was brought under parliamentary control by constitutional developments of the seventeenth century.]
21. Fable of the Bees. [Bernard de Mandeville (1670-1733), The Fable of the Bees: or, Private Vices, Publick Benefits (1714; enlarged editions in 1723 and 1728-29). See especially the section entitled "An Enquiry into the Origin of Moral Virtue."]
Part II, Essay III
22. [Henry (or Harry) VII was king of England from 1485 to 1509. For an analysis of the monetary theory that Hume develops in this essay and its relation to other views of his time, see Rotwein, David Hume: Writings on Economics, pp. liv-lxvii. Hume's broad purpose here is to oppose mercantilist views that tended to identify wealth with money and thus to encourage policies aimed at increasing the quantity of a nation's bullion or money. Hume argues for the general principle that an abundant quantity of money does not increase a state's domestic happiness and may sometimes even harm it. He undertakes to reconcile this principle with evidence that an increase in the supply of money can be a beneficial stimulus to industry at certain stages of economic development and that a wide distribution of money is favorable to the collection of revenues.]
23. [Hume refers here to the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), which Great Britain entered to prevent French hegemony in Europe and to protect her commercial and colonial empire by establishing naval supremacy over France. In 1746, Hume accompanied an expeditionary force under General James St. Clair in an attack on the French coast. Hume describes the expedition, for which he received a commission as Judge-Advocate, in a manuscript known as the "Descent on the Coast of Brittany." See Mossner, The Life of David Hume (Edinburgh: Nelson, 1954), pp. 187-204.]
24. A private soldier in the ROMAN infantry had a denarius a day, somewhat less than eightpence. The ROMAN emperors had commonly 25 legions in pay, which allowing 5000 men to a legion, makes 125,000. TACIT. Ann. lib. iv. [5.] It is true, there were also auxiliaries to the legions; but their numbers are uncertain, as well as their pay. To consider only the legionaries, the pay of the private men could not exceed 1,600,000 pounds. Now, the parliament in the last war commonly allowed for the fleet 2,500,000. We have therefore 900,000 over for the officers and other expences of the ROMAN legions. There seem to have been but few officers in the ROMAN armies, in comparison of what are employed in all our modern troops, except some SWISS corps. And these officers had very small pay: A centurion, for instance, only double a common soldier. And as the soldiers from their pay (TACIT. Ann. lib. i. ) bought their own cloaths, arms, tents, and baggage; this must also diminish considerably the other charges of the army. So little expensive was that mighty government, and so easy was its yoke over the world. And, indeed, this is the more natural conclusion from the foregoing calculations. For money, after the conquest of ÆGYPT, seems to have been nearly in as great plenty at ROME, as it is at present in the richest of the EUROPEAN kingdoms.
25. This is the case with the bank of AMSTERDAM.b
28. These facts I give upon the authority of Mons. du TOT in his Reflections politiques [Réflexions politiques sur les finances et le commerce (1738); translated as Political Reflections upon the Finances and Commerce of France (1739)], an author of reputation. Though I must confess, that the facts which he advances on other occasions, are often so suspicious, as to make his authority less in this matter. However, the general observation, that the augmenting of the money in FRANCE does not at first proportionably augment the prices, is certainly just.
By the by, this seems to be one of the best reasons which can be given, for a gradual and universal encrease of the denomination of money, though it has been entirely overlooked in all those volumes which have been written on that question by MELON, Du TOT, and PARIS de VERNEY [Joseph Paris-Duverney, Examen du livre intitulé Réflections politiques sur les finances et le commerce, par de Tott (Examination of a book entitled Political reflections upon finances and commerce, by Dutot), 1740]. Were all our money, for instance, recoined, and a penny's worth of silver taken from every shilling, the new shilling would probably purchase every thing that could have been bought by the old; the prices of every thing would thereby be insensibly diminished; foreign trade enlivened; and domestic industry, by the circulation of a great number of pounds and shillings, would receive some encrease and encouragement. In executing such a project, it would be better to make the new shilling pass for 24 halfpence, in order to preserve the illusion, and make it be taken for the same. And as a recoinage of our silver begins to be requisite, by the continual wearing of our shillings and sixpences, it may be doubtful, whether we ought to imitate the example in King WILLIAM'S reign, when the clipt money was raised to the old standard.d
29. The ITALIANS gave to the Emperor MAXIMILIAN, the nickname of POCCI-DANARI. None of the enterprises of that prince ever succeeded, for want of money. [Maximilian I became Holy Roman Emperor Elect in 1508, but because of Venetian hostility, he was unable to go to Rome for his coronation. Maximilian then joined with France, Spain, and the Pope in the League of Cambrai, whose aim was to partition the Republic of Venice. Because of his lack of money and troops, he was considered an unreliable partner in the war that followed. Pochi danari means "very few funds."]
30. [Hume uses West Indies broadly to refer to Central and South America. The exploration and conquest of the new world after Christopher Columbus's discovery of the West Indies islands off the Atlantic coast of America in 1492 led, in the next century, to a tremendous increase in the supply of precious metals in Europe. Hume's point is that the increase of prices has not kept pace with the increase in coin.]
Part II, Essay IV
33. [Mercantilist writers had held that a lowering of interest, or the price paid for the use of resources over time, is one of the benefits of increasing the quantity of money. Hume continues his attack on mercantilism by denying that rates of interest are caused by the quantity of money in circulation. Hume turns to his theory of human nature as well as to historical examples in order to prove that low interest is produced ultimately by the growth of industry and commerce, which reduces the proportion of borrowers and increases the number of lenders with savings available to supply the demand for money. For an assessment of Hume's views on interest, see Rotwein, David Hume: Writings on Economics, pp. lxvii-lxxii.]
35. [Garcilaso de la Vega, "El Inca" (1539-1616), was born in Peru, the son of a Spanish conqueror and an Indian princess, and he was brought up there until the age of twenty. He is best known for a two-part history of Peru: I. Comentarios Reales que tratan del origen de los Yncas (1608 or 1609) and II. Historia general de Peru (1617); translated as The Royal Commentaries of Peru, in Two Parts (1688). Hume possibly has in mind the discussion of the return on leases in pt. 2, bk. 1, chap. 6.]
36. Lib. li. [Dio(n) Cassius (A.D. 155-235), Roman History 51.21.5: "... loans for which the borrower had been glad to pay twelve per cent. could now be had for one third that rate" (Loeb translation by Earnest Cary).]
Part II, Essay V
42. [In this essay and the next, Hume combats the suspicious fear or "jealousy" of free trade that mercantilism had helped to promote. This essay seeks to allay the fear that an imbalance of imports over exports will deplete a nation's supply of gold and silver money. Hume develops a "general theory" according to which money bears a regular proportion to the industry and commodities of each nation. In the natural course of things, this level will be preserved; and a nation's attempts to hoard up a supply of money that exceeds this natural level, by trade barriers and restrictions on the circulation of money, are ineffectual and, at worst, destructive. Hume does concede at the end of this essay that protective tariffs may sometimes be beneficial, but generally his writings condemn domestic market restrictions. See Rotwein, David Hume: Writings on Economics, pp. lxxii-lxxxi.]
43. [Joshua Gee, The Trade and Navigation of Great-Britain Considered (1729). The subtitle reads in part: "That the surest Way for a Nation to increase in Riches, is to prevent the Importation of such Foreign Commodities as may be rais'd at Home."]
46. There is another cause, though more limited in its operation, which checks the wrong balance of trade, to every particular nation to which the kingdom trades. When we import more goods than we export, the exchange turns against us, and this becomes a new encouragement to export; as much as the charge of carriage and insurance of the money which becomes due would amount to. For the exchange can never rise but a little higher than that sum.
47. [The English, Dutch, French, and Portuguese East India companies dominated trade between Europe and the Orient. The chief imports were pepper and other spices, tea, coffee, and silk and cotton textiles. Since demand in the East for European products was far from sufficient to pay for all that Europeans wanted to buy, silver coin and bullion became the principal European export. This drain of specie to the East, which Hume speaks of below, was a matter of concern to the European states.]
49. Les interets d' ANGLETERRE mal-entendus. [Jean Baptiste Dubos, Les interests de l'Angleterre mal-entendus dans la présente guerre (England's interests mistaken in the present war), 1703. The River Tweed forms part of the boundary between Scotland and England.]
50. It must carefully be remarked, that throughout this discourse, wherever I speak of the level of money, I mean always its proportional level to the commodities, labour, industry, and skill, which is in the several states. And I assert, that where these advantages are double, triple, quadruple, to what they are in the neighbouring states, the money infallibly will also be double, triple, quadruple. The only circumstance that can obstruct the exactness of these proportions, is the expence of transporting the commodities from one place to another; and this expence is sometimes unequal. Thus the corn, cattle, cheese, butter, of DERBYSHIRE, cannot draw the money of LONDON, so much as the manufactures of LONDON draw the money of DERBYSHIRE. But this objection is only a seeming one: For so far as the transport of commodities is expensive, so far is the communication between the places obstructed and imperfect.
51. [Sébastien Le Prestre, Seigneur de Vauban (1633-1707), Projet d'une dixme royale (1707; translated as A Project for a Royal Tythe or General Tax (1708). Vauban, a great military engineer and marshal of France, wrote also on the art of fortifying, attacking, and defending towns.]
52. We observed in Essay III. ["Of Money"] that money, when encreasing, gives encouragement to industry, during the interval between the encrease of money and rise of the prices. A good effect of this nature may follow too from paper-credit; but it is dangerous to precipitate matters, at the risk of losing all by the failing of that credit, as must happen upon any violent shock in public affairs.
53. [See Plutarch, Lives, in the life of Lycurgus, sec. 9. Lycurgus, the law-giver of Sparta, ordained the use of iron money instead of gold and silver and gave only a trifling value to a great weight and mass of this, so as to make its concealment difficult.]
58. TITI LIVII, lib. xlv. cap. 40. [Philip V was king of Macedon from 221 to 179 B.C. Perseus, his successor, ruled from 179 to 168. Hume refers to the thirty years from Philip's peace settlement with Rome (197 B.C.) to Perseus's defeat at the hands of Lucius Aemilius Paullus in 168. The texts cited in this note and the three that follow are referring to the huge treasure that was borne in the triumphal procession of Paullus, which was celebrated in 167 B.C. following his victory over Perseus.]
62. The poverty which STANIAN speaks of is only to be seen in the most mountainous cantons, where there is no commodity to bring money. And even there the people are not poorer than in the diocese of SALTSBURGH on the one hand, or SAVOY on the other. [See Abraham Stanyan, An Account of Switzerland Written in the Year 1714 (1714).]
63. Proem. [Appian (second century A.D.), Roman History, Preface sec. 10 in the Loeb edition. John Arbuthnot was author of Tables of the Grecian, Roman and Jewish Measures Weights and Coins (1705?), a greatly enlarged edition of which appeared in 1727 under the title Tables of Ancient Coins, Weights, and Measures.]
64. [See Jonathan Swift, An Answer to a Paper called A Memorial of the Poor Inhabitants, Tradesmen and Labourers of the Kingdom of Ireland (1728): "But I will tell you a Secret, which I learned many Years ago from the Commissioners of the Customs in London: They said, when any Commodity appeared to be taxed above a moderate Rate, the Consequence was to lessen that Branch of the Revenue by one Half; and one of those Gentlemen pleasantly told me, that the Mistake of Parliaments, on such Occasions, was owing to an Error of computing Two and Two to make Four; whereas, in the Business of laying heavy Impositions, Two and Two never made more than One; which happens by lessening the Import, and the strong Temptation of running such Goods as paid high Duties." In Herbert Davis, ed., The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift (Oxford: Blackwell, 1939-68) 12, p. 21.]
65. [The historic region of Flanders is today divided between the French department of Nord, the Belgian provinces of East Flanders and West Flanders, and the Dutch province of Zeeland. During the seventeenth century, it had been a part of the Spanish Netherlands. In the period of which Hume speaks (1688-1752), the region was the scene of rival territorial claims and bloody wars involving England, Holland, France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire. The three wars to which Hume refers here, and the treaties that ended them, are discussed in "Of the Balance of Power," pp. 338-40. Most of Flanders was under Austrian rule at the time Hume wrote.]
Part II, Essay VI
66. [In the preceding essay, Hume argued that no nation need fear that its supply of money will be depleted by trade. Now he addresses another of the "jealousies" that inhibit free trade, namely, the fear that trading will cause a nation harm insofar as it contributes to the improvement and prosperity of its neighbors. This essay, which made its first appearance some eight years later than the other economic essays, represents the culmination of Hume's thinking about the mutual benefits of trade or commerce and the undesirability of raising barriers to protect even what might be considered a nation's "staple" commodities. According to Green and Grose, this essay appeared for the first time in the 1758 edition of the Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects. Greig points out, however, that both this essay and the one entitled "Of the Coalition of Parties" were printed and paged separately and bound up with later copies of the 1758 edition of the Essays and Treatises. The actual date of its appearance, therefore, was late 1759 or early 1760. See J. T. Y. Greig, ed., The Letters of David Hume (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1932), 1:272 and 317.]
Part II, Essay VII
69. XENOPH. Hist. GRAEC. lib. vi. & vii. [The defeat of the invading Spartan army at Leuctra by Theban forces under Epaminondas's command, in 371 B.C., ended the military supremacy of Sparta in the Peloponnesus. Fearful of the growing power of Thebes, Athens concluded a formal alliance with her long-time enemy, Sparta, in 369 B.C.]
70. [Following his victory at Leuctra, Epaminondas sought to balance Spartan power in the Peloponnese by helping to establish Megalopolis as the new capital of a united Arcadia. In 353 B.C., when war threatened between Megalopolis and Sparta, both cities sent embassies to Athens, seeking her support. Demosthenes spoke unsuccessfully on behalf of aid to Megalopolis, holding that such a policy would best serve Athens's interest in maintaining a balance of power between Sparta and Thebes. As Hume goes on to suggest, Demosthenes later promoted an alliance of Athens with Thebes and several Peloponnesian states in order to block Macedonian power. The defeat of this alliance at Chaeronea in 338 B.C. made Philip II of Macedon the undisputed master of Greece.]
71. [Ostracism was one of the democratic reforms introduced into the Athenian constitution by Cleisthenes, late in the sixth century B.C., ostensibly as a safeguard against the restoration of tyranny. The procedure, which was used against a number of prominent Athenian statesmen in the fifth century, permitted an assembly consisting of not less than six thousand to vote to exile some citizen for a period of ten years, after which he could reclaim his citizenship and property. Petalism, as practiced in Syracuse, was a similar procedure, except that names of prospective exiles were written on olive leaves rather than on pieces of broken pottery (ostraka).]
72. THUCYD. lib. viii. [8.46. Alcibiades, who earlier had taken Sparta's side against his native Athens, deserted the Spartans and went over to the Persian satrap Tissaphernes in 412 B.C. Alcibiades gave his advice with a view to his own eventual restoration in Athens.]
73. DIOD. SIC. lib. xx. [After the death of Alexander the Great, Antigonus, one of Alexander's generals, tried to restore the empire under his own leadership, but he was defeated by rival generals at Ipsus in 301 B.C.]
75. It was observed by some, as appears by the speech of AGELAUS of NAUPACTUM, in the general congress of GREECE. See POLYB. lib. v. cap. 104. [Hannibal invaded Italy in 218 B.C. Agelaus's speech warns that the victor in the war between Rome and Carthage will become a menace to Greece, and it counsels Philip V of Macedon to treat the Greeks well so that he can later count on their support.]
77. [As king of Numidia (202-148 B.C.) and Rome's ally, Masinissa followed an aggressive policy against neighboring Carthage. When Carthage was finally goaded into attacking Masinissa, Rome declared war on Carthage. This Third Punic War (149-146 B.C.) led to the destruction of Carthage and the establishment of its territory as the Roman province of Africa. The territory of Numidia was annexed to the province a century later. Attalus I, king of Pergamum from 241 to 197 B.C., enlisted Rome's aid to check Macedonian power, but eventually (133 B.C.) Rome acquired the kingdom and constituted it as the province of Asia. Prusias I, king of Bithynia (230?-182? B.C.) was neutral in the Roman war against Antiochus III. His son, Prusias II, who was king of Bithynia from 182? to 149 B.C., was loyal to Rome to the point of servility. Bithynia became a Roman province in the first century B.C.]
81. ["They treat us like slaves, as though we belonged to them, but they regard us as worthless, as though we belonged to someone else." Hume here paraphrases a passage from Tacitus, The Histories 1.37, where Otho, in rebellion against the emperor Galba, complains of Galba's supporter Titus Vinius: "... now he keeps us under his heel as if we were his slaves, and regards us as cheap because we belong to another" (Loeb translation by Clifford H. Moore).]
82. [Hume seems to be referring to the parliament of 1741-47 and to its early measures in support of Maria Theresa, queen of Hungary, against her rival, Frederick II of Prussia, in the War of the Austrian Succession. In 1740, Frederick had laid claim to a part of Silesia, and when the claim was rejected by the Court of Vienna, his army invaded and overran Silesia. Her treasury empty, Maria Theresa made an appeal for aid to the nations that had guaranteed her hereditary succession to the Austrian dominions. In response to this appeal, George II of England declared his intention to maintain the balance of power in Europe by supplying troops and subsidies to the queen of Hungary. This policy was strongly supported at first by parliament and the people, although it ensured England's involvement in an expensive war on the Continent by strengthening Maria Theresa's resolve not to purchase peace by ceding part of Silesia to Frederick. The "factious vote" to which Hume refers came in December 1742, when the House of Commons approved several war measures, including the king's request to take sixteen thousand troops from his electorate of Hanover into British pay, over substantial opposition. English enthusiasm for supporting the claims of Maria Theresa had completely faded by 1748, when she was at last compelled by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle to ratify Frederick's acquisition of Silesia.]
84. [The eighteenth-century rulers of France and Spain belonged to the House of Bourbon. By this reference, Hume makes it clear that his general remarks on the inevitable downfall of great monarchies are applicable to modern Europe.]
Part II, Essay VIII
85. [The "maxim" that Hume considers here was commonly held by the mercantilist writers and by others between 1660 and 1750. See Edwin R. A. Seligman, The Shifting and Incidence of Taxation, 5th ed., rev. (New York, Columbia University Press, 1927), pp. 25-30, 46-62. Hume finds it to be partly correct, in that workers can be expected to absorb moderate taxes on commodities by increasing their industry rather than by retrenching consumption or by increasing wages. Since people are often more industrious and opulent where there are "natural disadvantages" of soil and climate to overcome, we may expect that "artificial burdens," such as judicious taxes, will likewise be favorable to industry. Yet Hume qualifies the argument by refusing to apply it to taxes on "the necessaries of life" and by warning that a people can be ruined by exorbitant or inappropriate taxes (see paragraph 2 in note b of the variant readings for this essay). Later in the essay, Hume opposes the view that all taxes are ultimately shifted to land. John Locke had taken this view, and he may be the "celebrated writer" that Hume refers to in earlier versions of this essay (see the passage in note d of the variant readings). Locke's theory of the shifting of all taxes to land was revived in the eighteenth century by the school of French economists known as the "Physiocrats" (see Seligman, pp. 125-142). Hume debated the issue with one of the leading Physiocrats, Anne-Robert Jacques Turgot, in correspondence during 1766 and 1767. For the significance of Hume's views on taxation, see Rotwein, David Hume: Writings on Economics, pp. lxxxi-lxxxiii.]
89. [See Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, bk. 5, chap. 2, pt. 2: "The tax which each individual is bound to pay ought to be certain, and not arbitrary. The time of payment, the manner of payment, the quantity to be paid, ought all to be clear and plain to the contributor, and to every other person. Where it is otherwise, every person subject to the tax is put more or less in the power of the tax-gatherer, who can either aggravate the tax upon any obnoxious contributor, or extort, by the terror of such aggravation, some present or perquisite to himself. The uncertainty of taxation encourages the insolence and favours the corruption of an order of men who are naturally unpopular, even where they are neither insolent nor corrupt. The certainty of what each individual ought to pay is, in taxation, a matter of so great importance, that a very considerable degree of inequality, it appears, I believe, from the experience of all nations, is not near so great an evil as a very small degree of uncertainty."]
91. [Constantine ("the Great") was emperor from A.D. 306 to 337. Initially he shared power, but after 324 he was the sole ruler of a united empire. In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. 17, Edward Gibbon gives an account of Constantine's taxation policy and its consequences, drawing on the historians to whom Hume alludes.]
Part II, Essay IX
95. PLUT. in vita ALEX. [secs. 36, 37.] He makes these treasures amount to 80,000 talents, or about 15 millions sterl. QUINTUS CURTIUS (lib. v. cap. 2.) says, that ALEXANDER found in SUSA above 50,000 talents.
98. [At the outset of the Civil War of 49-45 B.C., which ended in his total victory over Pompey and other enemies, Julius Caesar seized the state treasure of Rome, which consisted of a huge sum in gold and silver bars and other valuables. See Plutarch, Lives, in the life of Caesar, sec. 35.]
99. [Hume's reflections in this essay should be seen against the background of eighteenth-century controversy as to whether public debt is beneficial or harmful. The French economist Melon, as well as some in Britain, argued that the national debt was nourishment for the body politic or a treasure that enriched the nation, but most British writers, including Hume and Adam Smith, were alarmed at the growing public debt. See Shutaro Matsushita, The Economic Effects of Public Debts (New York: Columbia University Press, 1929), chap. 1. Smith develops views very much along the lines of Hume's essay, but in greater detail, in The Wealth of Nations, bk. 5, chap. 3. Hume's position on fiscal policy is summarized by Rotwein in David Hume: Writings on Economics, pp. lxxxiii-lxxxviii.]
100. [This passage is intended chiefly as a criticism of Sir Robert Walpole, who had played a leading role in the House of Commons from his election in 1701 to his resignation as "Prime Minister" in 1742, and of the Whigs who supported him. Hume's intent is somewhat clearer in a passage omitted from this version of the essay (see the reference to "Lord Orford" in note c of the variant readings; Walpole was made First Earl of Orford in 1742). The omitted passage is closely paraphrased by Adam Smith: "To stop this clamour Sir Robert Walpole endeavoured to shew that the public debt was no inconvenience, tho' it is to be supposed that a man of his abilities saw the contrary himself" (Lectures on Jurisprudence [London: Oxford University Press, 1978; Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1982], p. 515). In 1717, Walpole had been instrumental in establishing a sinking fund to redeem the principal of the national debt, and this policy was at least partially successful in the decade that followed. In 1733, however, Walpole insisted that Parliament take money from the sinking fund to meet current expenses, arguing that this would be less burdensome to the country than raising the land tax. This measure was opposed by those who saw the sinking fund as a "sacred blessing" and "the nation's only hope." Money was regularly diverted from the sinking fund in the subsequent years of Walpole's ministry. See Norris A. Brisco, The Economic Policy of Robert Walpole (New York: AMS Press, 1967), chap. 2. Hume is suggesting in this passage that Walpole's justification for continuing the debt is as obviously fallacious as speeches in praise of tyrants (Busiris, according to Greek mythology, was a cruel Egyptian king) or other blamable things.]
102. [The Jacobites were the adherents of the Stuart cause after the Revolution of 1688. There was a Jacobite rising in 1715 in support of James Edward Stuart, the "Old Pretender," and another in 1745 in support of Charles Edward Stuart, the "Young Pretender." Jacobite sentiment was particularly strong in the Scottish Highlands.]
103. [See Melon, Essai politique sur le commerce, chap. 23: "The debts of a state are the debts of the right hand to the left hand, of which the body will not be weakened at all, if it has the necessary quantity of nourishments and if it knows how to distribute those (debts)." Quoted in Matsushita, The Economic Effects of Public Debts, p. 20.]
104. [Adam Smith describes the several methods of borrowing used by the British government in the eighteenth century. These included a perpetual annuity equivalent to the interest, which the government could redeem at any time by paying back the principal on the sum borrowed. This way of raising money was known as perpetual funding, or more simply as funding. Other types of annuities ran for a fixed term or for the life of the lender. See The Wealth of Nations, bk. 5, chap. 3.]
107. [By speaking of an unalienable right to self-preservation (see also the Treatise of Human Nature, 3.2.10), Hume calls to mind the political thought of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke as well as such later formulations as the American Declaration of Independence. In general, however, Hume opposes the Hobbesian tradition by denying that the desire for self-preservation is the fundamental passion by reference to which man's moral and political life must be understood. He explicitly criticizes the "selfish system of morals" of Hobbes and Locke (An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, App. 2) and emphasizes that the disinterested passions often override the interested ones. It is true that all creatures, including men, necessarily perform those actions that tend to self-preservation (Treatise, 1.3.16), that "the love of life" is one of the instincts originally implanted in our natures (Treatise, 2.3.3.), and that we have a natural "horror of death" (see "Of Suicide," p. 580). Nevertheless, Hume gives this instinct only slight attention and does not say that it dominates the other passions. Unlike Hobbes, Hume recognizes the nobility of courage and of self-sacrifice for the sake of others. He acknowledges a right of suicide when life becomes burdensome (see "Of Suicide," pp. 580-89).]
109. Hist. lib. iii. [55: "But the mob attended in delight on the great indulgences that he bestowed; the most foolish citizens bought them, while the wise regarded as worthless privileges which could neither be granted nor accepted if the state was to stand (Loeb translation by Clifford H. Moore). Tacitus is commenting here on the efforts of the emperor Vitellius, in A.D. 69, to secure the favor of the people in his unsuccessful struggle with Vespasian. It is striking that Hume speaks of Tacitus's reasoning as "eternally true."]
110. I have heard it has been computed, that all the creditors of the public, natives and foreigners, amount only to 17,000. These make a figure at present on their income; but in case of a public bankruptcy, would, in an instant, become the lowest, as well as the most wretched of the people. The dignity and authority of the landed gentry and nobility is much better rooted; and would render the contention very unequal, if ever we come to that extremity. One would incline to assign to this event a very near period, such as half a century, had not our fathers' prophecies of this kind been already found fallacious, by the duration of our public credit so much beyond all reasonable expectation. When the astrologers in FRANCE were every year foretelling the death of HENRY IV. These fellows, says he, must be right at last. We shall, therefore, be more cautious than to assign any precise date; and shall content ourselves with pointing out the event in general.
Part II, Essay X
4. PLUTARCHUS in vita decem oratorum. [Moralia, "Lives of the Ten Orators," under "Hypereides," 849a. Philip of Macedon defeated the Athenians and Thebans at Chaeronea in 338 B.C.] DEMOSTHENES gives a different account of this law. Contra ARISTOGITON. orat. II. [803-4.] He says, that its purport was, to render the ["the disenfranchised enfranchised"], or to restore the privilege of bearing offices to those who had been declared incapable. Perhaps these were both clauses of the same law.
6. In CTESIPHONTEM. [Aeschines, Against Ctesiphon, secs. 5-8.] It is remarkable, that the first step after the dissolution of the Democracy by CRITIAS and the Thirty, was to annul the , as we learn from DEMOSTHENES . [Against Timocrates.] The orator in this oration gives us the words of the law, establishing the , pag. 297. ex edit. ALDI. [sec. 33 in the Loeb edition]. And he accounts for it, from the same principles we here reason upon.
8. DEMOST. Olynth. I.2. [Hume refers to Eubulus, an important Athenian politician of the mid-fourth century B.C. and to his legislation regarding the Theoric Fund (theorika). This fund had been established by Pericles to enable the poorer citizens to attend the public festivals. Through the efforts of Eubulus, laws were enacted that required that all of the city's surplus revenues should go to the Theoric Fund and, moreover, that made it a capital offense to try to repeal this revenue law by the indictment of illegality. In the First Olynthiac Oration (secs. 19-20), Demosthenes points out that unless the city draws on this fund to pay for a war against Philip, a special tax must be levied for the war. The Third Olynthiac (secs. 10-13) calls for the repeal of the laws restricting use of the Theoric Fund.]
11. Essay on the freedom of wit and humour, part 3. § 2. [This essay appears in Shaftesbury's Characteristicks, vol. 1. In the section cited by Hume, Shaftesbury argues that while men are naturally inclined to associate and even to make civil government, they tend to prefer the closeness of small associations to the remoteness of large nations. Thus when "the Society grows vast and bulky," it is natural for men to seek a narrower sphere in which to exercise their powers by forming parties or factions or by "cantonizing," i.e., dividing themselves into smaller associations of an institutional or territorial kind. Shaftesbury continues: "Thus we have Wheels within Wheels. And in some National Constitutions (notwithstanding the Absurdity in Politicks) we have one Empire within another." Hume takes this as a reference to the German empire, with its confederated states.]
12. [A comitia was an assembly of the Roman people to vote on business presented to them by the magistrates. The comitia curiata was the most ancient of the three types of assembly, but in the late republic its work was confined largely to the formal confirmation of magistrates, adoptions, and wills. The comitia centuriata was supposedly instituted by one of the early kings, Servius Tullius, in the sixth century B.C. It was concerned with the enactment of laws, the election of the highest magistrates and of the censors, the declaration of war and peace, and the infliction of the death penalty for political offences. The comitia tributa, besides enacting legislation on nearly every matter of business, elected the tribunes of the plebs and the plebeian aediles, and held trials for noncapital offenses. In the comitia centuriata, the people voted by groups, called centuries, which were distributed into five main classes according to wealth. There were also two additional classes, the equites (or knights) and the plebeians. The two wealthiest classes, along with the equites, had well over a majority of the total number of voting centuries, even though the number of citizens in those centuries was far less than the number in the other three classes, to say nothing of the number of plebeians. Thus if the wealthiest citizens were united, it was unnecessary for the other classes to vote at all. In the comitia tributa, the people voted by electoral divisions or "tribes," with each tribe having one vote, irrespective of its number of voters. Since only four of the thirty-five tribes represented the city of Rome, power in the comitia tributa lay decisively in the hands of the country tribes and thus of the agricultural middle class. Hume's description of voting in the comitia centuriata is probably drawn from Livy, History of Rome 1.43.]
13. [Appian, Roman History: The Civil Wars 3.27-30. Decimus Brutus had been assigned command of Cisalpine Gaul, in north Italy, by Julius Caesar; and he refused, after Caesar's death in 44 B.C., to surrender the province to Mark Antony.]
14. [One of the controversies between Charles I and Parliament in the period leading up to the Civil War involved the king's right, without parliamentary approval, to impose a levy known as "ship money" for outfitting the navy. John Hampden (1594-1643), a member of the House of Commons and first cousin of Oliver Cromwell, refused to pay twenty shillings assessed on one of his estates under a writ for ship money issued in 1735. Hampden was tried in the Court of the Exchequer and, in 1738, was found guilty by a vote of 7 to 5. By virtue of his trial, Hampden became a parliamentary leader and a symbol for those who sought to protect liberty and property by limiting the royal prerogative.]
15. [From medieval times the British Crown has claimed the power to impress men without their consent for service in the navy. Naval parties known as "press gangs" were often used before the nineteenth century to recruit by force a quota of seamen. The king's impressment of British subjects in the colonies was one of the grievances that led to the American Revolution.]
16. [By speaking here of a state of nature, Hume seems to be closer to Hobbes and Locke than to his own position elsewhere. In the Treatise of Human Nature, Hume had insisted that since man's "very first state and situation may justly be esteem'd social," the "suppos'd state of nature" must be regarded as "a mere philosophical fiction, which never had, and never cou'd have any reality" (3.2.2). In the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, he says the following of the state of nature: "Whether such a condition of human nature could ever exist, or if it did, could continue so long as to merit the appellation of a state, may justly be doubted. Men are necessarily born in a family-society, at least; and are trained up by their parents to some rule of conduct and behaviour" (sec. 3, pt. 1). Hume thus rejects the state of nature, conceived as a strictly solitary and asocial condition of man. Yet the state of nature might be understood as only a condition without civil society, or government. Even Hobbes had granted that family society might develop in the state of nature. Hume could endorse a "state of nature" thus understood, for he emphasizes that large societies may subsist for some time without the establishment of government. Society without government is "one of the most natural states of men, and must subsist with the conjunction of many families, and long after the first generation" (Treatise, 3.2.8). Be this as it may, the passage here seems to be close to the view of Hobbes and Locke that the state of nature is renewed in civil society whenever an individual's life or liberty is threatened by another, even by the civil authority.]
Part II, Essay XI
17. COLUMELLA says [On Agriculture], lib. iii. cap. 8. that in ÆGYPT and AFRICA the bearing of twins was frequent, and even customary; gemini partus familiares, ac pæne solennes sunt. If this was true, there is a physical difference both in countries and ages. For travellers make no such remarks on these countries at present. On the contrary, we are apt to suppose the northern nations more prolific. As those two countries were provinces of the ROMAN empire, it is difficult, though not altogether absurd, to suppose that such a man as COLUMELLA might be mistaken with regard to them.
18. [Hume's essay is directed against the common supposition of his time that the ancient world was more populous than the modern world. Hume refers to the essay in correspondence of 1750 and mentions Isaak Vossius (1618-89) and Montesquieu as writers who exaggerate the populousness of antiquity (see Greig, Letters of David Hume, 1, 140). In the summer of 1751, Hume read the manuscript of a fellow member of the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh, Dr. Robert Wallace, which argued for the greater populousness of the ancient world. Wallace is the "eminent clergyman" to whose discourse Hume draws attention in a footnote to the earliest editions of the present essay (see note a in the variant readings). As a result of Hume's urging and the interest created by the footnote, Wallace published his work in 1753, along with an appendix critical of Hume's arguments, under the title of A Dissertation on the Numbers of Mankind in Antient and Modern Times. Hume rewrote his footnote for some later editions to take notice of Wallace's attempted refutation. Although Hume generously acknowledges that Wallace has detected "many mistakes" in his authorities and reasonings, he saw fit to make only slight amendments in his essay. Hume's relations with Wallace are examined in Mossner, The Life of David Hume, pp. 260-68. For a discussion of population theories of Hume's time and the influence of his essay, see Charles E. Stangeland, Pre-Malthusian Doctrines of Population (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1966; reprint of the 1904 ed.); and Joseph J. Spengler, French Predecessors of Malthus (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1942). P. A. Brunt, in his recent study of the population of ancient Italy, speaks of Hume's essay as an "epoch-making" demographic study and points out that, despite the availability of better techniques where facts are more plentiful, Hume's method of conjecturing from literary texts "must still be employed by the student of the population of Republican Italy, as the only one which can at least enable us to determine whether that population numbered some 14 millions or only 7 or 8" (Italian Manpower: 225 B.C.-
19. [See Isaak Vossius, Variarum Observationum Liber (1685), pp. 1-68. The opening essay of this book considers the size of ancient Rome and other cities and tries to prove that Rome had a population of fourteen million, with an area twenty times greater than that of Paris and London combined.]
20. Lettres PERSANES. See also L'Esprit de Loix, liv. xxiii. cap. 17, 18, 19. [Charles de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (1689-1755) published The Persian Letters anonymously in 1721. Letters 112-22 argue that the population of the world has decreased greatly since ancient times and that the decrease is to be explained in terms of moral rather than physical causes. Book 23 of The Spirit of the Laws (1748) deals with the physical and moral determinants of population and argues, in the chapters cited by Hume, that a general depopulation of Europe and Asia Minor occurred as the little republics of ancient times were swallowed up in the Roman Empire. The passage that Hume paraphrases can be found in The Persian Letters, no. 112. (The passage is amended in the 1758 edition of The Persian Letters to read "a tenth" rather than "the fiftieth part.") For a comparison of Hume's essay with Montesquieu's writings on population, see Roger B. Oake, "Montesquieu and Hume," Modern Language Quarterly 2 (March 1941): 25-41.]
21. This too is a good reason why the small-pox does not depopulate countries so much as may at first sight be imagined. Where there is room for more people, they will always arise, even without the assistance of naturalization bills. It is remarked by DON GERONIMO DE USTARIZ, that the provinces of SPAIN, which send most people to the INDIES, are most populous; which proceeds from their superior riches. [See Gerónimo de Uztáriz, Theorica, y practica de comercio, y de marina (1724); translated as The Theory and Practice of Commerce and Maritime Affairs (1751), chap. 12.]
22. [The principle that Hume states here—that a large population is a sign of a happy and virtuous nation and of wise institutions—was widely held in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and it serves to connect the question of population size to important issues in moral and political philosophy. For example, the debate over the populousness of ancient and modern nations was part of a broader dispute as to the comparative worth of ancient and modern ways of life. The alleged depopulation of the world in modern times could be taken as evidence of the defectiveness of modernity. The goodness of such things as luxury, commerce, and republicanism was often judged in terms of the tendency of these things to promote or retard the increase of population, and public policies that would promote an increase were in favor. This favorable view of large and growing populations was brought into question at the turn of the nineteenth century by the writings of T. R. Malthus (1766-1834), which emphasize the tendency of population growth to outrun the supply of food. On this general question, see Ernest Campbell Mossner, "Hume and the Ancient-Modern Controversy, 1725-1752: A Study in Creative Scepticism," University of Texas Studies in English 28 (1949): 139-53.]
23. [This paragraph and the ones that follow are notable for their strong condemnation of domestic slavery as a condition far worse than submission to even the most arbitrary civil government. In this and in his insistence that slavery debases even the slave masters by turning them into petty tyrants, Hume anticipates the arguments of many in Britain and America who agreed with him in opposing slavery.]
29. SUETON. de claris rhetor. [Suetonius, Of Illustrious Rhetoricians, sec. 3.] So also the ancient poet, Janitoris tintinnire impedimenta audio. ["I hear the door-keeper's impediments rattling." This fragment from the Roman poet Afranicus Vopisco (second century B.C.) is recorded in Nonius Marcellus, De compendiosa doctrina 40 M.]
32. Epist. 122. The inhuman sports exhibited at ROME, may justly be considered too as an effect of the people's contempt for slaves, and was also a great cause of the general inhumanity of their princes and rulers. Who can read the accounts of the amphitheatrical entertainments without horror? Or who is surprised, that the emperors should treat that people in the same way the people treated their inferiors? One's humanity is apt to renew the barbarous wish of CALIGULA, that the people had but one neck: A man could almost be pleased, by a single blow, to put an end to such a race of monsters. You may thank God, says the author above cited, (epist. 7.) addressing himself to the ROMAN people, that you have a master (to wit the mild and merciful NERO) who is incapable of learning cruelty from your example. This was spoke in the beginning of his reign: But he fitted them very well afterwards; and, no doubt, was considerably improved by the sight of the barbarous objects, to which he had, from his infancy, been accustomed.
33. We may here observe, that if domestic slavery really encreased populousness, it would be an exception to the general rule, that the happiness of any society and its populousness are necessary attendants. A master, from humour or interest, may make his slaves very unhappy, yet be careful, from interest, to encrease their number. Their marriage is not a matter of choice with them, more than any other action of their life.
35. COLUMELLA, lib. i. proœm. et cap. 2. et 7. VARRO [116-27 B.C., Rerum Rusticarum (On agriculture)], lib. iii. cap. 1. HORAT. [Horace, Odes] lib. ii. od. 15. TACIT. annal. lib. iii. cap. 54. SUETON. in vita AUG. [in the life of Augustus] cap. xlii. PLIN. lib. xviii. cap. 13. [Pliny the Elder, Natural History. The appropriate citation in the Loeb edition would seem to be 18.4.]
37. As servus was the name of the genus, and verna of the species, without any correlative, this forms a strong presumption, that the latter were by far the least numerous. It is an universal observation which we may form upon language, that where two related parts of a whole bear any proportion to each other, in numbers, rank or consideration, there are always correlative terms invented, which answer to both the parts, and express their mutual relation. If they bear no proportion to each other, the term is only invented for the less, and marks its distinction from the whole. Thus man and woman, master and servant, father and son, prince and subject, stranger and citizen, are correlative terms. But the words seaman, carpenter, smith, tailor, &c. have no correspondent terms, which express those who are no seamen, no carpenters, &c. Languages differ very much with regard to the particular words where this distinction obtains; and may thence afford very strong inferences, concerning the manners and customs of different nations. The military government of the ROMAN emperors had exalted the soldiery so high, that they balanced all the other orders of the state: Hence miles and paganus became relative terms; a thing, till then, unknown to ancient, and still so to modern languages. Modern superstition exalted the clergy so high, that they overbalanced the whole state: Hence clergy and laity are terms opposed in all modern languages; and in these alone. And from the same principles I infer, that if the number of slaves bought by the ROMANS from foreign countries, had not extremely exceeded those which were bred at home, verna would have had a correlative, which would have expressed the former species of slaves. But these, it would seem, composed the main body of the ancient slaves, and the latter were but a few exceptions.
38. Verna is used by ROMAN writers as a word equivalent to scurra ["a fashionable city idler"], on account of the petulance and impudence of those slaves. MART. lib. i. ep. 42 [Martial (A.D. 40?-104?), Epigrams 1.41 in the Loeb edition]. HORACE [Satires 2.6.66] also mentions the vernæ, procaces ["saucy slaves"]; and PETRONIUS [Satyricon], cap. 24. vernula urbanitas [one textual reading is urbanitatis vernulae ("of the sophistication of the home-bred slave")]. SENECA, de provid. cap. I. vernularum licentia [On Providence 1.6; "Slave boys by their forwardness"].
39. It is computed in the WEST INDIES, that a stock of slaves grow worse five per cent. every year, unless new slaves be bought to recruit them. They are not able to keep up their number, even in those warm countries, where cloaths and provisions are so easily got. How much more must this happen in EUROPEAN countries, and in or near great cities?e I shall add, that, from the experience of our planters, slavery is as little advantageous to the master as to the slave, wherever hired servants can be procured. A man is obliged to cloath and feed his slave; and he does no more for his servant: The price of the first purchase is, therefore, so much loss to him: not to mention, that the fear of punishment will never draw so much labour from a slave, as the dread of being turned off and not getting another service, will from a freeman.
40. CORN. NEPOS in vita ATTICI. [Lives of Illustrious Men, Atticus, sec. 13.] We may remark, that ATTICUS'S estate lay chiefly in EPIRUS, which, being a remote, desolate place, would render it profitable for him to rear slaves there.
49. "Non temere ancillæ ejus rei causa comparantur ut pariant." Digest. lib. v. tit. 3. de hæred. petit. lex 27. [Hume is citing the Digest or Pandects of the emperor Justinian. The translation used here is by S. P. Scott in The Civil Law, 17 vols. (Cincinnati: The Central Trust Co., 1932). The first quotation reads: "it is not customary for female slaves to be acquired for breeding purposes."] The following texts are to the same purpose, "Spadonem morbosum non esse, neque vitiosum, verius mihi videtur; sed sanum esse, sicuti illum qui unum testiculum habet, qui etiam generare potest." Digest. lib. ii. tit. 1. de ædilitio edicto, lex 6. § 2. [The citation for this and subsequent passages should be bk. 21, title 1; "A slave who has been castrated is not, I think, diseased or defective, but sound; just as one who has but one testicle, who is still capable of reproduction."] "Sin autem quis ita spado sit, ut tam necessaria pars corporis penitus absit, morbosus est." Id. lex 7. ["Where, however, a slave has been castrated in such a way that any part of his body required for the purpose of generation is absolutely absent, he is considered to be diseased."] His impotence, it seems, was only regarded so far as his health or life might be affected by it. In other respects, he was full as valuable. The same reasoning is employed with regard to female slaves. "Quæritur de ea muliere quæ semper mortuos parit, an morbosa sit? et ait Sabinus, si vulvæ vitio hoc contingit, morbosam esse." Id. lex 14. ["The question was asked whether a female slave was diseased who always brought forth dead children. Sabinus says that if this was caused by an uterine affection, she must be so considered."] It had even been doubted, whether a woman pregnant was morbid or vitiated; and it is determined, that she is sound, not on account of the value of her offspring, but because it is the natural part or office of women to bear children. "Si mulier prægnans venerit, inter omnes convenit sanam eam esse. Maximum enim ac præcipuum munus fœminarum accipere ac tueri conceptum. Puerperam quoque sanam esse; si modo nihil extrinsecus accedit, quod corpus ejus in aliquam valetudinem immitteret. De sterili CÆlius distinguere Trebatium dicit, ut si natura sterilis sit, sana sit; si vitio corporis, contra." Id. ["Where a female slave, who is pregnant, is sold, it is held by all the authorities that she is sound, for it is the greatest and most important function of a woman to conceive and preserve a child. A woman in child-birth is also sound, provided nothing else happens which would cause her some bodily illness. Caelius says Trebatius makes a distinction in the case of sterility, for if a woman is sterile by nature, she is healthy, but if this occurs through some defect of the body she is not.")
51. The slaves in the great houses had little rooms assigned to them, called cellæ. Whence the name of cell was transferred to the monk's room in a convent. See farther on this head, JUST. LIPSIUS, Saturn. i. cap. 14. [Justus Lipsius (1547-1606). Hume is probably referring to Saturnalium sermonum libri duo (1585), which discusses Roman festivals and gladiatorial contests.] These form strong presumptions against the marriage and propagation of the family slaves.
62. Lib. xxxiii. cap. I. [Pliny the Elder, Natural History 33.6.26 in the Loeb edition. The passage reads: "This is the progress achieved by our legions of slaves—a foreign rabble in one's home, so that an attendant to tell people's names now has to be employed even in the case of one's slaves" (Loeb translation by H. Rackham).] So likewise TACITUS, annal. lib. xiv. cap. 44.i
68. To the same purpose is that passage of the elder SENECA, ex controversia 5. lib. v. "Arata quondam populis rura, singulorum ergastulorum sunt; latiusque nunc villici, quam olim reges, imperant." [Seneca the Elder (55? B.C.-A.D. 40?), The Controversies 5.5: "It is for all this that country once ploughed by whole peoples belongs to single slave-farms and bailiffs have wider sway than kings" (Loeb translation by M. Winterbottom).] "At nunc eadem," says PLINY, "vincti pedes, damnatae manus, inscripti vultus exercent." Lib. xviii. cap. 3. [Pliny the Elder, Natural History 18.4 in the Loeb edition: "But nowadays those agricultural operations are performed by slaves with fettered ankles and by the hands of malefactors with branded faces" (Loeb translation by H. Rackham).] So also MARTIAL.
"Et sonet innumera compede Thuscus ager." Lib. ix. ep. 23. [Martial, Epigrams 9.22 in the Loeb edition: "... and Tuscan fields clank with countless fettered slaves" (Loeb translation by Walter C. A. Ker).] And LUCAN.
"Tum longos jungere fines
[Lucan, The Civil War 1. 167-70: "Next they stretched wide the boundaries of their lands, till those acres, which once were furrowed by the iron plough of Camillus and felt the spade of a Curius long ago, grew into vast estates tilled by foreign cultivators" (Loeb translation by J. D. Duff).]
"Vincto fossore coluntur
[The Civil War 7.402: "The corn-fields of Italy are tilled by chained labourers" (Loeb translation by J. D. Duff).]
73. De fraterno amore. [Moralia, "On Brotherly Love," sec. 18. The Loeb translator (W. C. Helmbold) understands the text to say only that Attalus "was unwilling to acknowledge as his own any of the children his wife had borne him," i.e., by the ceremony in which the father raises the child in his arms to acknowledge its legitimacy. By this interpretation, the children of Attalus were not murdered, but simply were not recognized as heirs to the throne, or, at worse, were disowned.] SENECA also approves of the exposing of sickly infirm children. De ira ["On Anger"], lib. i. cap. 15.
75. De amore prolis. [Moralia, "On Affection for Offspring," sec. 5. Plutarch's point is that the failure of poor men to raise their children is not an exception to the general rule that parents naturally love their offspring, for since they cannot give their children a good education, they do not wish them to become vicious and poor.]
76. The practice of leaving great sums of money to friends, though one had near relations, was common in GREECE as well as ROME; as we may gather from LUCIAN. This practice prevails much less in modern times; and BEN. JOHNSON'S VOLPONE is therefore almost entirely extracted from ancient authors, and suits better the manners of those times.
It may justly be thought, that the liberty of divorces in ROME was another discouragement to marriage. Such a practice prevents not quarrels from humour, but rather encreases them; and occasions also those from interest, which are much more dangerous and destructive. See farther on this head, Part I. Essay XVIII. [This probably should read essay XIX ("Of Polygamy and Divorces").] Perhaps too the unnatural lusts of the ancients ought to be taken into consideration, as of some moment. [Hume refers in this final sentence to the practice of homosexuality.]
83. CÆSAR gave the centurions ten times the gratuity of the common soldiers, De bello Gallico, lib. viii. [The Gallic War 8.4.] In the RHODIAN cartel, mentioned afterwards, no distinction in the ransom was made on account of ranks in the army.
87. PLIN. lib. xviii. cap. 3. [Natural History 18.4 in the Loeb edition.] The same author, in cap. 6. says, Verumque fatentibus latifundia perdidere ITALIAM; jam vero et provincias. Sex domi semissem AFRICÆ possidebant, cum interfecit eos NERO princeps. [18.7 in the Loeb edition: "And if the truth be confessed, large estates have been the ruin of Italy, and are now proving the ruin of the provinces too—half of Africa was owned by six landlords, when the Emperor Nero put them to death" (Loeb translation by H. Rackham).] In this view the barbarous butchery committed by the first ROMAN emperors, was not, perhaps, so destructive to the public as we may imagine. These never ceased till they had extinguished all the illustrious families, which had enjoyed the plunder of the world, during the latter ages of the republic. The new nobles who arose in their place, were less splendid, as we learn from TACIT. Ann. lib. iii. cap. 55.
88. The ancient soldiers, being free citizens, above the lowest rank, were all married. Our modern soldiers are either forced to live unmarried, or their marriages turn to small account towards the encrease of mankind. A circumstance which ought, perhaps, to be taken into consideration, as of some consequence in favour of the ancients.
92. INST. lib. ii. cap. 6.m
94. LYSIAS, who was himself of the popular faction, and very narrowly escaped from the thirty tyrants, says, that the Democracy was as violent a government as the Oligarchy. Orat. 24. de statu popul. [In the Loeb edition, Oration 25: Defence Against a Charge of Subverting the Democracy, sec. 27.]
96. As orat. 11. contra ERATOST. orat. 12. contra AGORAT. orat. 15. pro MANTITH. [In the Loeb edition, Oration 12: Against Eratosthenes, Who Had Been One of the Thirty; Oration 13: Against Agoratus; Oration 16: In Defense of Mantitheus.]
99. Orat. 24. [See 25.19 in the Loeb edition.] And in orat. 29. [in the Loeb edition, Oration 30: Against Nicomachus, secs. 13-14] he mentions the factious spirit of the popular assemblies as the only cause why these illegal punishments should displease.
100. Lib. iii. [83.]p
101. PLUT. de virt. & fort. ALEX. [Plutarch, Moralia, "On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander." Dionysius I, who was tyrant of Syracuse from 405 to 367 B.C., is mentioned at 1.9 and 2.1, but it is not immediately clear why Hume draws attention to this essay.]
104. DIOD. SIC. lib. xiv. [See 14.5. Diodorus doesn't mention a specific number of Athenians killed.] ISOCRATES says there were only 5000 banished. He makes the number of those killed amount to 1500. AREOP. [Areopagiticus, sec. 67.] ÆSCHINES contra CTESIPH. [Aeschines, Against Ctesiphon, sec. 235] assigns precisely the same number. SENECA (de tranq. anim. cap. 5.) says 1300.
107. We shall mention from DIODORUS SICULUS alone a few massacres, which passed in the course of sixty years, during the most shining age of GREECE. There were banished from SYBARIS 500 of the nobles and their partizans; lib. xii. p. 77. ex edit. RHODOMANNI. Of CHIANS, 600 citizens banished; lib. xiii. p. 189. At EPHESUS, 340 killed, 1000 banished; lib. xiii. p. 223. Of CYRENIANS, 500 nobles killed, all the rest banished; lib. xiv. p. 263. The CORINTHIANS killed 120, banished 500; lib. xiv. p. 304. PHÆBIDAS the SPARTAN banished 300 BÆOTIANS; lib. xv. p. 342. Upon the fall of the LACEDÆMONIANS, Democracies were restored in many cities, and severe vengeance taken of the nobles, after the GREEK manner. But matters did not end there. For the banished nobles, returning in many places, butchered their adversaries at PHIALÆ, in CORINTH, in MEGARA, in PHLIASIA. In this last place they killed 300 of the people; but these again revolting, killed above 600 of the nobles, and banished the rest; lib. xv. p. 357. In ARCADIA 1400 banished, besides many killed. The banished retired to SPARTA and to PALLANTIUM: The latter were delivered up to their countrymen, and all killed; lib. xv. p. 373. Of the banished from ARGOS and THEBES, there were 509 in the SPARTAN army; id. p. 374. Here is a detail of the most remarkable of AGATHOCLES'S cruelties from the same author. The people before his usurpation had banished 600 nobles; lib. xix. p. 655. Afterwards that tyrant, in concurrence with the people, killed 4000 nobles, and banished 6000; id. p. 647. He killed 4000 people at GELA; id. p. 741. By AGATHOCLES'S brother 8000 banished from SYRACUSE; lib. xx. p. 757. The inhabitants of ÆGESTA, to the number of 40,000, were killed, man, woman, and child; and with tortures, for the sake of their money; id. p. 802. All the relations, to wit, father, brother, children, grandfather, of his LIBYAN army, killed; id. p. 803. He killed 7000 exiles after capitulation; id. p. 816. It is to be remarked, that AGATHOCLES was a man of great sense and courage,q and is not to be suspected of wanton cruelty, contrary to the maxims of his age.
109. [Isocrates, To Philip, sec. 96: "Besides, you will find as many soldiers at your service as you wish, for such is now the state of affairs in Hellas that it is easier to get together a greater and stronger army from among those who wander in exile than from those who live under their own polities" (Loeb translation by George Norlin). See also Panegyricus, secs. 168 ff. on the evils of factional strife in the Greek cities and the prospect of achieving concord through a common war on Persia.]
111. Orat. 29. in NICOM. [Hume perhaps has in mind section 25 of the oration Against Nicomachus, which speaks of putting citizens to death for peculation, or fraudulently drawing off public property.]
112. In order to recommend his client to the favour of the people, he enumerates all the sums he had expended. When , 30 minas: Upon a chorus of men 20 minas; , 8 minas; , 50 minas; , 3 minas; Seven times trierarch, where he spent 6 talents: Taxes, once 30 minas, another time 40; , 12 minas; , 15 minas; , 18 minas; , 7 minas; , 15 minas; , 30 minas: In the whole ten talents 38 minas. [The Greek terms refer to officers in the theater to whom money was paid—the leader of the chorus, etc.] An immense sum for an ATHENIAN fortune, and what alone would be esteemed great riches, Orat. 20. [21.1-5.] It is true, he says, the law did not oblige him absolutely to be at so much expence, not above a fourth. But without the favour of the people, no body was so much as safe; and this was the only way to gain it. See farther, orat. 24. de pop. statu. In another place, he introduces a speaker, who says that he had spent his whole fortune, and an immense one, eighty talents, for the people. Orat. 25. de prob. Evandri. [Oration 26: On the Scrutiny of Evandros.] The , or strangers, find, says he, if they do not contribute largely enough to the people's fancy, that they have reason to repent it. Orat. 30. contra PHIL. [Oration 31: Against Philon.] You may see with what care DEMOSTHENES displays his expences of this nature, when he pleads for himself de corona; and how he exaggerates MIDIAS'S stinginess in this particular, in his accusation of that criminal. All this, by the by, is a mark of a very iniquitous judicature: And yet the ATHENIANS valued themselves on having the most legal and regular administration of any people in GREECE.
116. The authorities cited above, are all historians, orators, and philosophers, whose testimony is unquestioned. It is dangerous to rely upon writers who deal in ridicule and satyr. What will posterity, for instance, infer from this passage of Dr. SWIFT: "I told him, that in the kingdom of TRIBNIA (BRITAIN) by the natives called LANGDON (LONDON) where I had sojourned some time in my travels, the bulk of the people consist, in a manner, wholly of discoverers, witnesses, informers, accusers, prosecutors, evidences, swearers, together with their several subservient and subaltern instruments, all under the colours, the conduct, and pay of ministers of state and their deputies. The plots in that kingdom are usually the workmanship of those persons," &c. GULLIVER'S travels [pt. 3, chap. 6; the second anagram should be Langden, for England]. Such a representation might suit the government of ATHENS; not that of ENGLAND, which is remarkable even in modern times, for humanity, justice, and liberty. Yet the Doctor's satyr, though carried to extremes, as is usual with him, even beyond other satyrical writers, did not altogether want an object. The Bishop of ROCHESTER, who was his friend, and of the same party, had been banished a little before by bill of attainder, with great justice, but without such a proof as was legal, or according to the strict forms of common law.
122. Lib. ii. [Anabasis of Alexander 2.24.] There were 8000 killed during the siege; and the captives amounted to 30,000. DIODORUS SICULUS, lib. xvii.  says only 13,000: But he accounts for this small number, by saying that the TYRIANS had sent away before-hand part of their wives and children to CARTHAGE.
138. ÆLII LAMPRID. in vita HELIOGAB. cap. 26. [Aelius Lampridius (fourth century A.D.), Augustan History, in the life of Heliogabalus, sec. 26. Heliogabalus (or Elagabalus) was Roman emperor from A.D. 218 to 222.]
139. In general, there is more candour and sincerity in ancient historians, but less exactness and care, than in the moderns. Our speculative factions, especially those of religion, throw such an illusion over our minds, that men seem to regard impartiality to their adversaries and to heretics, as a vice or weakness: But the commonness of books, by means of printing, has obliged modern historians to be more careful in avoiding contradictions and incongruities. DIODORUS SICULUS is a good writer, but it is with pain I see his narration contradict, in so many particulars, the two most authentic pieces of all GREEK history, to wit, XENOPHON'S expedition, and DEMOSTHENES'S orations. PLUTARCH and APPIAN seem scarce ever to have read CICERO'S epistles.
143. DIOGENES LAERTIUS (in vita EMPEDOCLIS) says, that AGRIGENTUM contained only 800,000 inhabitants. [Diogenes Laertius (third century A.D.?), Lives of Eminent Philosophers, bk. 8, chap. 2: "Empedocles," sec. 63.]
144. Idyll. 17. [Theocritus (300?-260? B.C.), Idyls, 17: The Panegyric of Ptolemy, sec. 80. "The cities builded therein are three hundreds and three thousands and three tens of thousands, and threes twain and nines three"; in The Greek Bucolic Poets, translated by J. M. Edmonds (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960).]
149. The country that supplied this number, was not above a third of ITALY, viz. the Pope's dominions, TUSCANY, and a part of the kingdom of NAPLES: But perhaps in those early times there were very few slaves, except in ROME, or the great cities.t
152. PLUTARCH (in vita CÆS. [sec. 15]) makes the number that CÆSAR fought with amount to three millions; JULIAN (in CÆSARIBUS) to two. [Julian (A.D. 331-363; Roman emperor from 360 to 363), The Caesars 321a.]
154. PLINY, lib. vii. cap. 25. says, that CÆSAR used to boast, that there had fallen in battle against him one million one hundred and ninety-two thousand men, besides those who perished in the civil wars. It is not probable, that that conqueror could ever pretend to be so exact in his computation. But allowing the fact, it is likely, that the HELVETII, GERMANS, and BRITONS, whom he slaughtered, would amount to near a half of the number.u
159. ARGOS seems also to have been a great city; for LYSIAS contents himself with saying that it did not exceed ATHENS. Orat. 34. ["Against the Subversion of the Ancestral Constitution of Athens," sec. 34.]
161. Orat. contra VERREM, lib. iv. cap. 52. STRABO, lib. vi. [6.2.4] says, it was twenty-two miles in compass. But then we are to consider, that it contained two harbours within it; one of which was a very large one, and might be regarded as a kind of bay.
170. We are to observe, that when DIONYSIUS HALYCARNASSÆUS [4.13] says, that if we regard the ancient walls of ROME, the extent of that city will not appear greater than that of ATHENS; he must mean the ACROPOLIS and high town only. No ancient author ever speaks of the PYRÆUM, PHALERUS, and MUNYCHIA, as the same with ATHENS. Much less can it be supposed, that DIONYSIUS would consider the matter in that light, after the walls of CIMON and PERICLES were destroyed, and ATHENS was entirely separated from these other towns. This observation destroys all VOSSIUS'S reasonings, and introduces common sense into these calculations.
172. De rep. ATHEN. [The Constitution of the Athenians, secs. 10-12. Xenophon's authorship of this work is doubted by modern scholars. For a text and commentary, see Hartvig Frisch, The Constitution of the Athenians (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1942).]
187. [The 1777 edition of Hume's Essays reads 78,000, which Green and Grose, following earlier editions, change to 780,000. This larger number is required by Hume's argument. Hume is opposing those who believe that Athens had 400,000 male slaves, as the text of Athenaeus indicates. If this text were correct, the ratio of male Athenian citizens to male slaves would be about 1 to 20. The same ratio applied to Sparta, which had 39,000 male citizens, would yield more than 780,000 male slaves. Since male slaves would have been about one-fourth of all slaves, the total number of slaves in Sparta, using the ratio of Athenaeus, would be more than 3,120,000—a number that Hume regards as impossible.]
189. The same author affirms [The Banquet of the Learned 6.272], that CORINTH had once 460,000 slaves, ÆGINA 470,000. But the foregoing arguments hold stronger against these facts, which are indeed entirely absurd and impossible. It is however remarkable, that ATHENÆUS cites so great an authority as ARISTOTLE for this last fact: And the scholiast on PINDAR mentions the same number of slaves in ÆGINA.
192. DEMOST. contra LEPT. [Demosthenes, Against Leptines, secs. 31-33.] The ATHENIANS brought yearly from PONTUS 400,000 medimni or bushels of corn, as appeared from the custom-house books. And this was the greater part of their importation of corn. This by the by is a strong proof that there is some great mistake in the foregoing passage of ATHENÆUS. For ATTICA itself was so barren of corn, that it produced not enough even to maintain the peasants. TIT. LIV. lib. xliii. cap. 6.y And 400,000 medimni would scarcely feed 100,000 men during a twelvemonth. LUCIAN, in his navigium sive vota [The Ship or the Wishes, secs. 4-6], says, that a ship, which, by the dimensions he gives, seems to have been about the size of our third rates, carried as much corn as would maintain all ATTICA for a twelve-month. But perhaps ATHENS was decayed at that time; and besides, it is not safe to trust to such loose rhetorical calculations.
195. DIOD. SIC. lib. xvii. [14.]z When ALEXANDER attacked THEBES, we may safely conclude, that almost all the inhabitants were present. Whoever is acquainted with the spirit of the GREEKS, especially of the THEBANS, will never suspect, that any of them would desert their country, when it was reduced to such extreme peril and distress. As ALEXANDER took the town by storm, all those who bore arms were put to the sword without mercy; and they amounted only to 6000 men. Among these were some strangers and manumitted slaves. The captives, consisting of old men, women, children, and slaves, were sold, and they amounted to 30,000. We may therefore conclude that the free citizens in THEBES, of both sexes and all ages, were near 24,000; the strangers and slaves about 12,000. These last, we may observe, were somewhat fewer in proportion than at ATHENS; as is reasonable to imagine from this circumstance, that ATHENS was a town of more trade to support slaves, and of more entertainment to allure strangers. It is also to be remarked, that thirty-six thousand was the whole number of people, both in the city of THEBES, and the neighbouring territory: A very moderate number, it must be confessed; and this computation, being founded on facts which appear indisputable, must have great weight in the present controversy. The above-mentioned number of RHODIANS too were all the inhabitants of the island, who were free, and able to bear arms.
199. POLYC. lib. ix. cap. 20. [The reference is to Polybius, Histories 9.26a in the Loeb edition. POLYC. is no doubt a misprint. Some earlier editions of Hume's Essays read POLYB.]
201. VOPISCUS in vita AUREL. [Hume's reference is to one of a collection of biographies of Roman rulers from A.D. 117 to 284. This collection has been known since the early seventeenth century as the Historia Augusta (Augustan history). Tradition holds that the biographies were written by six different authors in the late third or early fourth centuries. The Life of Aurelian was traditionally ascribed to Flavius Vopiscus. There has been considerable debate over the past century as to both the authorship of the biographies and their dates of composition. The Loeb edition is: The Scriptores Historiae Augustae. 3 vols. With an English Translation by David Magie. (London: W. Heinemann, 1921-32).]
202. [Publius Victor is the name prefixed to an enumeration of the principal buildings and monuments of ancient Rome. The usual title of the work, which was first printed in 1505, was De Regionibus Urbis Romae (On the regions of the city of Rome). For the problems that arise in using this source to make population estimates for Rome, see G. Hermansen, "The Population of Imperial Rome: The Regionaries," Historia 27 (1978): 129-68.]
204. POLYB. lib. ix. cap. 20. [9.26a in the Loeb edition of the Histories.]
206. LEGAT. [The text of Polybius is complete for books 1-5, but for the other 34 we have to rely on various collections of excerpts. Hume's reference here is to one of the most important of these collections, which was made on the instructions of the Byzantine emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus (VII). This collection was organized under various headings, one of which was "de legationibus gentium ad Romanos" (Embassies of foreign peoples to the Romans). It is to this collection that LEGAT. refers. In modern texts of Polybius's Histories, the passage is found at 29.24.8. It comes in an account by Polybius of a speech which he had himself delivered to the Achaean assembly in 170 B.C., urging that it honor the request from the kings of Egypt for some troops to assist in their war against Antiochus IV of Syria. Opponents of the request maintained that the troops might be needed to help Rome in its war against Perseus of Macedonia. Polybius replied that the Romans did not need help from the Achaeans, but that if they did ask for it, a force of even thirty or forty thousand men could easily be raised.]
216. STRABO, liv. v. [see 5.3.7] says, that the emperor AUGUSTUS prohibited the raising houses higher than seventy feet. In another passage, lib. xvi. he speaks of the houses of ROME as remarkably high. See also to the same purpose VITRUVIUS, lib. ii. cap. 8. [Vitruvius (first century B.C.), On Architecture 2.8.17.] ARISTIDES the sophist, in his oration [Publius Aelius Aristides (A.D. 117-180?), To Rome. Loeb edition in preparation], says, that ROME consisted of cities on the top of cities; and that if one were to spread it out, and unfold it, it would cover the whole surface of ITALY. Where an author indulges himself in such extravagant declamations, and gives so much into the hyperbolical style, one knows not how far he must be reduced. But this reasoning seems natural: If ROME was built in so scattered a manner as DIONYSIUS says, and ran so much into the country, there must have been very few streets where the houses were raised so high. It is only for want of room, that any body builds in that inconvenient manner.
217. LIB. ii. epist. 16. lib. v. epist. 6. [Pliny the Younger, Letters 2.17 in the Loeb edition and 5.6.] It is true, PLINY there describes a country-house: But since that was the idea which the ancients formed of a magnificent and convenient building, the great men would certainly build the same way in town. "In laxitatem ruris excurrunt" ["as if they were country houses" (Loeb translation by Richard M. Gummere)], says SENECA of the rich and voluptuous, epist. 114. VALERIUS MAXIMUS, lib. iv. cap. 4. speaking of CINCINNATUS'S field of four acres, says, "Auguste se habitare nunc putat, cujus domus tantum patet quantum CINCINNATI rura patuerant." [Valerius Maximus (first century A.D.), Facta et Dicta Memorabilia (Memorable deeds and sayings) 4.4: "He counts himself to live splendidly now, whose house stands upon as much ground as all Cincinnatus's farm contained."] To the same purpose see lib. xxxvi. cap. 15. also lib. xviii. cap. 2.
220. "MOENIA ejus (ROMÆ) collegere ambitu imperatoribus, censoribusque VESPASIANIS, A. U. C. 828. pass. xiii. MCC. complexa montes septem, ipsa dividitur in regiones quatuordecim, compita earum 265. Ejusdem spatii mensura, currente a milliario in capite ROM. Fori statuto, ad singulas portas, quæ sunt hodie numero 37, ita ut duodecim portæ semel numerentur, prætereanturque ex veteribus septem, quæ esse desierunt, efficit passuum per directum 30,775. Ad extrema veto tectorum cum castris prætoriis ab eodem Milliario, per vicos omnium viarum, mensura collegit paulo amplius septuaginta millia passuum. Quo si quis altitudinem tectorum addat, dignam profecto, æstimationem concipiat, fateaturque nullius urbis magnitudinem in toto orbe potuisse ei comparari." PLIN. lib. iii. cap. 5. [Pliny, Natural History 3.5.66-67: "The area surrounded by its walls at the time of the principate and censorship of the Vespasians, in the 826th year of its foundation, measured 13 miles and 200 yards in circumference, embracing seven hills. It is itself divided into fourteen regions, with 265 crossways with their guardian Lares. If a straight line is drawn from the milestone standing at the head of the Roman Forum to each of the gates, which to-day number thirty-seven (provided that the Twelve Gates be counted only as one each and the seven of the old gates that exist no longer be omitted), the result is a total of 20 miles 765 yards in a straight line. But the total length of all the ways through the districts from the same milestone to the extreme edge of the buildings, taking in the Praetorians' Camp, amounts to a little more than 60 miles. If one were further to take into account the height of the buildings, a very fair estimate would be formed, that would bring us to admit that there has been no city in the whole world that could be compared to Rome in magnitude." (Loeb translation by H. Rackham.) The Loeb Latin text reads "20,765 paces," which Rackham translates as 20 miles 765 yards. Hume obviously follows a different manuscript tradition.]
All the best manuscripts of PLINY read the passage as here cited, and fix the compass of the walls of ROME to be thirteen miles. The question is, What PLINY means by 30,775 paces, and how that number was formed? The manner in which I conceive it, is this. ROME was a semicircular area of thirteen miles circumference. The Forum, and consequently the Milliarium, we know, was situated on the banks of the TYBER, and near the center of the circle, or upon the diameter of the semicircular area. Though there were thirty-seven gates to ROME, yet only twelve of them had straight streets, leading from them to the Milliarium. PLINY, therefore, having assigned the circumference of ROME, and knowing that that alone was not sufficient to give us a just notion of its surface, uses this farther method. He supposes all the streets, leading from the Milliarium to the twelve gates, to be laid together into one straight line, and supposes we run along that line, so as to count each gate once: In which case, he says, that the whole line is 30,775 paces: Or, in other words, that each street or radius of the semicircular area is upon an average two miles and a half; and the whole length of ROME is five miles, and its breadth about half as much, besides the scattered suburbs.
PERE HARDOUIN [Jean Hardouin (1646-1729) published in 1685 an edition of Pliny's Natural History, which was reissued in 1723 and later with annotations] understands this passage in the same manner; with regard to the laying together the several streets of ROME into one line, in order to compose 30,775 paces: But then he supposes, that streets led from the Milliarium to every gate, and that no street exceeded 800 paces in length. But (1.) a semicircular area, whose radius was only 800 paces, could never have a circumference near thirteen miles, the compass of ROME as assigned by PLINY. A radius of two miles and a half forms very nearly that circumference. (2.) There is an absurdity in supposing a city so built as to have streets running to its center from every gate in its circumference. These streets must interfere as they approach. (3.) This diminishes too much from the greatness of ancient ROME, and reduces that city below even BRISTOL or ROTTERDAM.
The sense which VOSSIUS in his Observationes variæ [see note 3 to this essay] puts on this passage of PLINY, errs widely in the other extreme. One manuscript of no authority, instead of thirteen miles, has assigned thirty miles for the compass of the walls of ROME. And VOSSIUS understands this only of the curvilinear part of the circumference; supposing, that as the TYBER formed the diameter, there were no walls built on that side. But (1.) this reading is allowed to be contrary to almost all the manuscripts. (2.) Why should PLINY, a concise writer, repeat the compass of the walls of ROME in two successive sentences? (3.) Why repeat it with so sensible a variation? (4.) What is the meaning of PLINY'S mentioning twice the MILLIARIUM, if a line was measured that had no dependence on the MILLIARIUM? (5.) AURELIAN'S wall is said by VOPISCUS to have been drawn laxiore ambitu ["in a wider circuit"], and to have comprehended all the buildings and suburbs on the north side of the TYBER; yet its compass was only fifty miles; and even here critics suspect some mistake or corruption in the text; since the walls, which remain, and which are supposed to be the same with AURELIAN'S, exceed not twelve miles. It is not probable, that ROME would diminish from AUGUSTUS to AURELIAN. It remained still the capital of the same empire; and none of the civil wars in that long period, except the tumults on the death of MAXIMUS and BALBINUS, ever affected the city. CARACALLA is said by AURELIUS VICTOR [Sextus Aurelius Victor, whose history of the caesars was published around A.D. 360] to have encreased ROME. (6.) There are no remains of ancient buildings, which mark any such greatness of ROME. VOSSIUS'S reply to this objection seems absurd, that the rubbish would sink sixty or seventy feet under ground. It appears from SPARTIAN (in vita Severi) that the five-mile stone in via Lavicana was out of the city. [Aelius Spartianus was traditionally regarded as the author of the life of Severus in the Historia Augusta.] (7.) OLYMPIODORUS [A.D. 380?-425, whose twenty-two books of history are lost but are summarized by Photius] and PUBLIUS VICTOR fix the number of houses in ROME to be betwixt forty and fifty thousand. (8.) The very extravagance of the consequences drawn by this critic, as well as LIPSIUS [probably in Lipsius's De Magnitudine Romana Libri quatuor (Four books on the size of Rome)], if they be necessary, destroys the foundation on which they are grounded: That ROME contained fourteen millions of inhabitants; while the whole kingdom of FRANCE contains only five, according to his computation, &c.
The only objection to the sense which we have affixed above to the passage of PLINY, seems to lie in this, That PLINY, after mentioning the thirty-seven gates of ROME, assigns only a reason for suppressing the seven old ones, and says nothing of the eighteen gates, the streets leading from which terminated, according to my opinion, before they reached the Forum. But as PLINY was writing to the ROMANS, who perfectly knew the disposition of the streets, it is not strange he should take a circumstance for granted, which was so familiar to every body. Perhaps too, many of these gates led to wharfs upon the river.
221. Ex monument. Ancyr. [Hume's reference is to the Emperor Augustus's account of his public acts, which was engraved upon bronze tablets before the emperor's mausoleum in Rome as well as on the walls of many of the temples of Augustus throughout the empire. The best surviving version—the Monumentum Ancyranum—was inscribed on the temple of Rome and Augustus at Ancyra. This document is reproduced in the Loeb edition as Res Gestae Divi Augusti (The acts of Augustus), translated by Frederick W. Shipley. The passage cited by Hume is in section 15 of this edition.]
223. Licinius apud Sallust. hist. frag. lib. iii. [This reference is to Sallust's Histories, which survives only in fragments (see 3.48.19 in the standard edition by Maurenbrecher). The passage cited by Hume is in a demogogic speech attributed to C. Licinius Macer, who was tribune of the plebs in 73 B.C. Licinius refers to the allotment of 5 modii of corn per head and says: "They have valued your freedom at five modii each."]
225. Not to take the people too much from their business, AUGUSTUS ordained the distribution of corn to be made only thrice a-year: But the people finding the monthly distributions more convenient, (as preserving, I suppose, a more regular œconomy in their family) desired to have them restored. SUETON. AUGUST. cap. 40. Had not some of the people come from some distance for their corn, AUGUSTUS'S precaution seems superfluous.
231. QUINTUS CURTIUS says, its walls were ten miles in circumference, when founded by ALEXANDER; lib. iv. cap. 8. [History of Alexander 4.8.] STRABO, who had travelled to ALEXANDRIA, as well as DIODORUS SICULUS, says it was scarce four miles long, and in most places about a mile broad; lib. 17. [1.8.] PLINY says it resembled a MACEDONIAN cassock, stretching out in the corners; lib. v. cap. 10. [5.11 in the Loeb edition.] Notwithstanding this bulk of ALEXANDRIA, which seems but moderate, DIODORUS SICULUS, speaking of its circuit as drawn by ALEXANDER (which it never exceeded, as we learn from AMMIANUS MARCELLINUS [(fourth century A.D.), History of Rome from Nerva to Valens], lib. xxii. cap. 16.) says it was , extremely great, ibid. [17.52.] The reason which he assigns for its surpassing all cities in the world (for he excepts not ROME) is, that it contained 300,000 free inhabitants. He also mentions the revenues of the kings, to wit, 6000 talents, as another circumstance to the same purpose: No such mighty sum in our eyes, even though we make allowance for the different value of money. What STRABO says of the neighbouring country, means only that it was well peopled, . Might not one affirm, without any great hyperbole, that the whole banks of the river from GRAVESEND to WINDSOR are one city? [Gravesend is some twenty-five miles east of London on the Thames River, and Windsor is some twenty miles west.] This is even more than STRABO says of the banks of the lake MAREOTIS, and of the canal to CANOPUS. It is a vulgar saying in ITALY, that the king of SARDINIA has but one town in PIEDMONT; for it is all a town. AGRIPPA, in JOSEPHUS de bello JUDAIC. lib. ii. cap. 16. [Flavius Josephus (first century A.D.), The Jewish War 2.385 in the Loeb edition] to make his audience comprehend the excessive greatness of ALEXANDRIA, which he endeavours to magnify, describes only the compass of the city as drawn by ALEXANDER: A clear proof that the bulk of the inhabitants were lodged there, and that the neighbouring country was no more than what might be expected about all great towns, very well cultivated, and well peopled.
234. Lib. iv. cap. 1. . POLITIAN [the Latin translation of Herodian by Angelus Politian (1454-94)] interprets it "ædibus majoribus etiam reliqua urbe" ["with a palace greater even than the rest of the city"].
235. He says (in NERONE, cap. 30.) that a portico or piazza of it was 3000 feet long; "tanta laxitas ut porticus triplices milliarias haberet." [Life of Nero 6.31: "... it was so extensive that it had a triple colonnade a mile long" (Loeb translation by J. C. Rolfe).] He cannot mean three miles. For the whole extent of the house from the PALATINE to the ESQUILINE was not near so great. So when VOPISC. in AURELIANO mentions a portico in SALLUST'S gardens, which he calls porticus milliarensis, it must be understood of a thousand feet. [Vopiscus, The Deified Aurelian, sec. 49, in Scriptores Historiae Augustae.] So also HORACE:
[Horace, Odes 2.15: "No private citizen had a portico measuring its tens of feet, lying open to the shady north" (Loeb translation by C. E. Bennett).]
So also in lib. i. satyr. 8.
"Mille pedes in fronte, trecentos cippus in agrum
[Horace, Satires 1.8.12: "Here a pillar assigned a thousand feet frontage and three hundred of depth" (Loeb translation by H. Rushton Fairclough).]
236. PLINIUS, lib. xxxvi. cap. 15. "Bis vidimus urbem totam cingi domibus principum, CAII ac NERONIS." [Natural History 36.24 in the Loeb edition: "Twice have we seen the whole city girdled by imperial palaces, those of Gaius and Nero" (Loeb translation by D. E. Eichholz).]
243. Such were ALEXANDRIA, ANTIOCH, CARTHAGE, EPHESUS, LYONS, &c. in the ROMAN empire. Such are even BOURDEAUX, THOLOUSE, DIJON, RENNES, ROUEN, AIX, &c. in FRANCE; DUBLIN, EDINBURGH, YORK, in the BRITISH dominions.
244. Vol. ii. sect. 16. [Réflexions Critiques sur la Poësie et sur la Peinture 2.16.298-99; Critical Reflections on Poetry and Painting (London, 1748), 2.16.209-10. Hume is translating from the French text.]
245. Sat. 6. [Satires 6.522-27: "In winter she will go down to the river of a morning, break the ice, and plunge three times into the Tiber." Several lines follow, which are quoted in Latin by Dubos but are omitted by Hume, perhaps out of a certain delicacy or modesty: "et ipsis verticibus timidum caput abluet, inde superbi totum regis agrum nuda ac tremibunda cruentis erepet genibus" ("dipping her trembling head even in its whirling waters, and crawling out thence naked and shivering, she will creep with bleeding knees right across the field of Tarquin the Proud" (Loeb translation by G. G. Ramsay).]
248. De generat. anim. lib. ii. [Generation of Animals 2.8 (748a27).]
255. The warm southern colonies also become more healthful: And it is remarkable, that in the SPANISH histories of the first discovery and conquest of these countries, they appear to have been very healthful; being then well peopled and cultivated. No account of the sickness or decay of CORTES'S or PIZARRO'S small armies.
274. It appears from CÆSAR'S account, that the GAULS had no domestic slaves,ii who formed a different order from the Plebes. The whole common people were indeed a kind of slaves to the nobility, as the people of POLAND are at this day: And a nobleman of GAUL had sometimes ten thousand dependents of this kind. Nor can we doubt, that the armies were composed of the people as well as of the nobility. The fighting men amongst the HELVETII were the fourth part of the inhabitants; a clear proof that all the males of military age bore arms. See CÆSAR de bello Gall. lib. i.
We may remark, that the numbers in CÆSAR'S commentaries can be more depended on than those of any other ancient author, because of the GREEK translation, which still remains, and which checks the LATIN original.
278. De Bello Hisp. [The Spanish War, sec. 8. This work is often attributed to Julius Caesar and is included in the Loeb edition of his writings, but it is doubtful that Caesar is the author. It was possibly written by Hirtius, who was one of Caesar's generals.]
282. "Nec numero Hispanos, nec robore Gallos, nec calliditate PŒnos, nec artibus Græcos, nec denique hoc ipso hujus gentis, ac terræ domestico nativoque sensu, Italos ipsos ac Latinos—superavimus." De harusp. resp. cap. 9. [Cicero, De Haruspicum Responsis (The Speech concerning the Response of the Soothsayers) 9.19: "We have excelled neither Spain in population, nor Gaul in vigour, nor Carthage in versatility, nor Greece in art, nor indeed Italy and Latium itself in the innate sensibility characteristic of this land and its peoples" (Loeb translation by N. H. Watts).] The disorders of SPAIN seem to have been almost proverbial: "Nec impacatos a tergo horrebis Iberos." Virg. Georg. lib. iii. [Virgil, Georgics 3.408: "never ... need you fear ... restless Spaniards in your rear" (Loeb translation by H. Rushton Fairclough).] The IBERI are here plainly taken, by a poetical figure, for robbers in general.
283. VARRO de re rustica, lib. ii. præf. COLUMELLA præf. SUETON. AUGUST. cap. 42. [This passage shows Hume's tendency to discount what later would be called the problem of overpopulation. Shortages most likely result not from "the superior power of population," to use Malthus's words, but from the neglect of husbandry and production.]
284. Though the observations of L'Abbé du Bos should be admitted, that ITALY is now warmer than in former times, the consequence may not be necessary, that it is more populous or better cultivated. If the other countries of EUROPE were more savage and woody, the cold winds that blew from them, might affect the climate of ITALY.
285. [Trajan was emperor from A.D. 98 to 117. Titus Antoninus Pius ruled as emperor from 138 to 161, and his son-in-law, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, from 161 to 180. Edward Gibbon declares: "The two Antonines ... governed the Roman world forty-two years, with the same invariable spirit of wisdom and virtue. ... Their united reigns are possibly the only period of history in which the happiness of a great people was the sole object of government." See The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (New York: Modern Library, n.d.), 1:68.]
286. The inhabitants of MARSEILLES lost not their superiority over the GAULS in commerce and the mechanic arts, till the ROMAN dominion turned the latter from arms to agriculture and civil life. See STRABO, lib. iv. [1.5]. That author, in several places, repeats the observation concerning the improvement arising from the ROMAN arts and civility: And he lived at the time when the change was new, and would be more sensible. So also PLINY: "Quis enim non, communicato orbe terrarum, majestate ROMANI imperii, profecisse vitam putet, commercio rerum ac societate festæ pacis, omniaque etiam, quæ occulta antea fuerant, in promiscuo usu facta." Lib. xiv. proœm. [Natural History 14.1.2: "For who would not admit that now that intercommunication has been established throughout the world by the majesty of the Roman Empire, life has been advanced by the interchange of commodities and by partnership in the blessings of peace, and that even things that had previously lain concealed have all now been established in general use?" (Loeb translation by H. Rackham).] "Numine deûm electa (speaking of ITALY) quæ cœlum ipsum clarius faceret, sparsa congregaret imperia, ritusque molliret, & tot populorum discordes, ferasque linguas sermonis commercio contraheret ad colloquia, & humanitatem homini daret; breviterque, una cunctarum gentium in toto orbe patria fieret;" lib. ii. cap. 5. ["... chosen by the providence of the gods to make heaven itself more glorious, to unite scattered empires, to make manners gentle, to draw together in converse by community of language the jarring and uncouth tongues of so many nations, to give mankind civilisation, and in a word to become throughout the world the single fatherland of all the races" (Loeb translation by H. Rackham). This passage is found at 3.5.39 in the Loeb edition of Pliny's Natural History.] Nothing can be stronger to this purpose than the following passage from TERTULLIAN, who lived about the age of SEVERUS. "Certe quidem ipse orbis in promptu est, cultior de die & instructior pristino. Omnia jam pervia, omnia nota, omnia negotiosa. Solitudines famosas retro fundi amœnissimi obliteraverunt, silvas arva domuerunt, feras pecora fugaverunt; arenæ seruntur, saxa panguntur, paludes eliquantur, tantæ urbes, quantæ non casæ quondam. Jam nec insulæ horrent, nec scopuli terrent; ubique domus, ubique populus, ubique respublica, ubique vita. Summum testimonium frequentiæ humanæ, onerosi sumus mundo, vix nobis elementa sufficiunt; & necessitates arctiores, et querelæ apud omnes, dum jam nos natura non sustinet." De anima, cap. 30. [Tertullian (A.D. 155?-222?) De Anima (On the soul) 30.3-4: "A glance at the face of the earth shows us that it is becoming daily better cultivated and more fully peopled than in olden times. There are few places now that are not accessible; few, unknown; few, unopened to commerce. Beautiful farms now cover what once were trackless wastes, the forests have given way before the plough, cattle have driven off the beasts of the jungle, the sands of the desert bear fruit and crops, the rocks have been ploughed under, the marshes have been drained of their water, and, where once there was but a settler's cabin, great cities are now to be seen. No longer do lonely islands frighten away the sailor nor does he fear their rocky coasts. Everywhere we see houses, people, stable governments, and the orderly conduct of life. The strongest witness is the vast population of the earth to which we are a burden and she scarcely can provide for our needs; as our demands grow greater, our complaints against nature's inadequacy are heard by all." Edwin A. Quain, trans. Tertullian: Apologetical Works (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1962). The Fathers of the Church series, vol. 10.] The air of rhetoric and declamation which appears in this passage, diminishes somewhat from its authority, but does not entirely destroy it.kk The same remark may be extended to the following passage of ARISTIDES the sophist, who lived in the age of ADRIAN. "The whole world," says he, addressing himself to the ROMANS, "seems to keep one holiday; and mankind, laying aside the sword which they formerly wore, now betake themselves to feasting and to joy. The cities, forgetting their ancient animosities, preserve only one emulation, which shall embellish itself most by every art and ornament; Theatres every where arise, amphitheatres, porticoes, aqueducts, temples, schools, academies; and one may safely pronounce, that the sinking world has been again raised by your auspicious empire. Nor have cities alone received an encrease of ornament and beauty; but the whole earth, like a garden or paradise, is cultivated and adorned: Insomuch, that such of mankind as are placed out of the limits of your empire (who are but few) seem to merit our sympathy and compassion." [Probably in Aristides' oration To Rome.]
It is remarkable, that though DIODORUS SICULUS makes the inhabitants of ÆGYPT, when conquered by the ROMANS, amount only to three millions [Library of History 1.31.6. Almost all ancient manuscripts support Hume's reading of three million, but the Loeb edition adopts an alternative reading that makes Diodorus agree with Josephus]; yet JOSEPH. de bello Jud. lib. ii. cap. 16. [2.385 in the Loeb edition] says, that its inhabitants, excluding those of ALEXANDRIA, were seven millions and a half, in the reign of NERO: And he expressly says, that he drew this account from the books of the ROMAN publicans, who levied the poll-tax. STRABO, lib. xvii. [1.12] praises the superior police of the ROMANS with regard to the finances of ÆGYPT, above that of its former monarchs: And no part of administration is more essential to the happiness of a people. Yet we read in ATHENÆUS, (lib. i. cap. 25. [The Banquet of the Learned 1.33d in the Loeb edition]) who flourished during the reign of the ANTONINES, that the town MAREIA, near ALEXANDRIA, which was formerly a large city, had dwindled into a village. This is not, properly speaking, a contradiction. SUIDAS (AUGUST.) says, that the Emperor AUGUSTUS, having numbered the whole ROMAN empire, found it contained only 4,101,017 men (). There is here surely some great mistake, either in the author or transcriber. But this authority, feeble as it is, may be sufficient to counterbalance the exaggerated accounts of HERODOTUS and DIODORUS SICULUS with regard to more early times.
287. L'Esprit de Loix, liv. xxiii. chap. 19. [Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, bk. 23, "Of Laws in the Relation they bear to the Number of Inhabitants," chap. 19, "Of the Depopulation of the Globe."]
288. De Orac. Defectus. [The Obsolescence of Oracles, sec. 8. It should be noted that the explanation for the silence of the oracles that Hume summarizes is given not by Plutarch in his own name, but by one of the participants in this dialogue, and that alternative explanations are advanced by other participants. Hume addresses this point in note 278, below.]
289. Lib. ii. cap. 62. It may perhaps be imagined, that POLYBIUS, being dependent on ROME, would naturally extol the ROMAN dominion. But, in the first place, POLYBIUS, though one sees sometimes instances of his caution, discovers no symptoms of flattery. Secondly, This opinion is only delivered in a single stroke, by the by, while he is intent upon another subject; and it is allowed, if there be any suspicion of an author's insincerity, that these oblique propositions discover his real opinion better than his more formal and direct assertions.
294. I must confess that that discourse of PLUTARCH, concerning the silence of the oracles, is in general of so odd a texture, and so unlike his other productions, that one is at a loss what judgment to form of it. It is written in dialogue, which is a method of composition that PLUTARCH commonly but little affects. The personages he introduces advance very wild, absurd, and contradictory opinions, more like the visionary systems or ravings of PLATO than the plain sense of PLUTARCH. There runs also through the whole an air of superstition and credulity, which resembles very little the spirit that appears in other philosophical compositions of that author. For it is remarkable, that, though PLUTARCH be an historian as superstitious as HERODOTUS or LIVY, yet there is scarcely, in all antiquity, a philosopher less superstitious, excepting CICERO and LUCIAN. I must therefore confess, that a passage of PLUTARCH, cited from this discourse, has much less authority with me, than if it had been found in most of his other compositions.
There is only one other discourse of PLUTARCH liable to like objections, to wit, that concerning those whose punishment is delayed by the Deity. It is also writ in dialogue, contains like superstitious, wild visions, and seems to have been chiefly composed in rivalship to PLATO, particularly his last book de republica. [Hume has in mind the myth of Er at the conclusion of book 10 of Plato's Republic.]
And here I cannot but observe, that Mons. FONTENELLE, a writer eminent for candor, seems to have departed a little from his usual character, when he endeavours to throw a ridicule upon PLUTARCH on account of passages to be met with in this dialogue concerning oracles. The absurdities here put into the mouths of the several personages are not to be ascribed to PLUTARCH. He makes them refute each other; and, in general, he seems to intend the ridiculing of those very opinions, which FONTENELLE would ridicule him for maintaining. See Histoire des oracles. [First published in 1686. The first English translation was titled The History of Oracles and the Cheats of the Pagan Priests (London, 1688).]
Part II, Essay XII
1. [Having previously sketched the differences between the Whigs and the Tories (see "Of the Parties of Great Britain," in Part I), Hume takes up their speculative, practical, and historical controversies in this essay and the two that follow. Hume suggests that it is a contradiction in terms to speak of those who have embraced a party as philosophers (p. 469). Since his own approach is philosophical, he seeks to avoid taking sides or being a mere partisan. The philosopher's task, as Hume understands it, is to serve as a mediator between contending parties and to promote compromise or accommodation. This is accomplished by a balanced appraisal of party controversies in which each side is led to see that its views are not completely right and that the opposing views are not completely wrong. Compromise is possible only if neither party triumphs over the other. This may help to explain why Hume sometimes seems to be more critical of the Whigs, the stronger party of his day, than of the Tories. Hume's design and guiding principles are made explicit at the beginning of the third essay of this sequence, "Of the Coalition of Parties."]
2. [Titus Flavius Vespasianus was Roman emperor from A.D. 79 to 81. Cesare Borgia, through the influence of his father, Pope Alexander VI, conquered and ruled the territory known as the Romagna, in northern Italy, in 1501-1503. Borgia's cruel and enterprising methods are described and applauded by Machiavelli in The Prince, chap. 7. Tulagee Angria was the leader, in the mid-eighteenth century, of an old family of predatory pirates who operated off of India's Malabar coast, south of Bombay. After the failure of earlier efforts to suppress him, Angria was driven from his stronghold of Gheria in 1756 by European and Indian troops under the command of Charles Watson and Robert Clive. See Clement Downing, A Compendious History of the Indian Wars; with an Account of the Rise, Progress, Strength and Forces of Angria the Pyrate (London, 1737); and An Authentick & Faithful History of that Arch-Pyrate Tulagee Angria (London, 1756).]
3. [Hume has in mind Whig theorists generally but especially John Locke, who is identified later as the most noted "partizan" of the doctrine that all lawful government is founded on an original contract or consent of the people. Hume's sketch of this doctrine draws loosely from Locke's Second Treatise. Hume seeks to show that what these "reasoners" say is contradicted by common opinion and practice. In order to make his argument from general opinion effective, Hume must reject the claim that moral philosophy has a rational or a priori basis, and this he does at the conclusion of the essay.]
4. [The transfer of the British crown to William and Mary in 1689 was approved by parliamentary conventions, called by William, in England and Scotland. By "the majority of seven hundred," Hume probably means the total vote of these conventions approving the transfer and fixing the order of succession after the deaths of William and Mary.]
8. [King of England from 1509 to 1547. Henry's greatest innovation was his break with the Pope and his establishment of the king as the only supreme head on earth of the Church of England, with full power to reform it.]
9. [The Lancastrian kings of England were Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI. Their rule extended from 1399 to 1461. The house of Lancaster took the red rose as its badge or emblem, while its rival for the throne, the house of York, took the white rose.]
10. [This division of moral duties is explained fully by Hume in the Treatise of Human Nature, book 3, and in the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. Hume consistently places justice, fidelity to promises, and allegiance to government in a different category from those virtues that we perform and approve by an original instinct of nature. In the Treatise, he presents the division as one between "natural" and "artificial" virtues, but he retreats somewhat from this terminology in the Second Enquiry (see appendix 3). Thus in the present essay, justice, fidelity, and allegiance, which had been classified as artificial duties in the Treatise, are called "natural duties." Hume will argue, against Locke, that it is inappropriate to base allegiance, or the obligation to obey rulers, on a prior obligation to keep promises, since both obligations arise from the same foundation. This argument draws heavily on book 3, part 2 of the Treatise.]
11. [This brief discussion of the ground of allegiance, or the duty to obey government, should be compared with Hume's much fuller treatment of this topic in the Treatise, 3.2.8 ("Of the Source of Allegiance").]
14. [See Paul de Rapin-Thoyras (1661-1725), Histoire d' Angleterre. 10 vols. (The Hague, 1723-27). This was the standard history of England until the publication of Hume's. It was written for foreigners, but was quickly translated into English. Rapin, who was from a Huguenot family, first came to England in 1686 to avoid persecution and returned two years later with the army of William of Orange. He wrote his history of England while in retirement in Germany. Initially, at least, Hume judged Rapin's work harshly because of its partiality for the Whig side (see Hume's comments on Rapin in the variant readings to "Of the Protestant Succession," note b). The controversy to which Hume refers involved the succession to the French throne. When Charles IV of France died in 1328, his wife was expecting a child, who would, if a son, succeed to the throne. In the meantime, an assembly of barons was called to appoint as regent the next male heir, who would become Charles's successor if his child were a daughter. One claimant was Edward III of England, the nephew and nearest male relation of Charles IV, who descended from the royal house of France by his mother, but this claim was rejected by the barons. Philip of Valois, the late king's cousin, was elected regent and, after a daughter was born to the queen widow, was placed on the throne as Philip VI. Hume discusses this dispute and its consequences in his account of Edward's reign in the History of England.]
16. HERODIAN, lib. ii. [Commodus was emperor from A.D. 180 to 192. The rule of Pertinax lasted for only three months (January 1 to March 28) in the year 193. The struggle between Lucius Septimius Severus and his rivals (Didius Julianus, Pescennius Niger, and Clodius Albinus) took place from 193 to 197.]
17. [Julius Capitolinus, Maximus and Balbinus, sec. 14, in Scriptores Historiae Augustae: "In the meantime Gordian Caesar was lifted up by the soldiers and hailed emperor (that is, Augustus), there being no one else at hand" (Loeb translation by David Magie). The young Gordian was saluted as emperor by the praetorians in A.D. 238, following the murder that year of his uncle and the suicide of his grandfather (both emperors named Gordian) and the murders of Balbinus and Pupienus Maximus, who had succeeded the Gordians as joint emperors.]
18. It is remarkable, that, in the remonstrance of the duke of BOURBON and the legitimate princes, against this destination of LOUIS the XIVth, the doctrine of the original contract is insisted on, even in that absolute government. The FRENCH nation, say they, chusing HUGH CAPET and his posterity to rule over them and their posterity, where the former line fails, there is a tacit right reserved to choose a new royal family; and this right is invaded by calling the bastard princes to the throne, without the consent of the nation. But the Comte de BOULAINVILLIERS, who wrote in defence of the bastard princes, ridicules this notion of an original contract, especially when applied to HUGH CAPET; who mounted the throne, says he, by the same arts, which have ever been employed by all conquerors and usurpers. He got his title, indeed, recognized by the states after he had put himself in possession: But is this a choice or contract? The Comte de BOULAINVILLIERS, we may observe, was a noted republican; but being a man of learning, and very conversant in history, he knew that the people were never almost consulted in these revolutions and new establishments, and that time alone bestowed right and authority on what was commonly at first founded on force and violence. See Etat de la France, Vol. III. [Henri de Boulainvilliers (1658-1722), Etat de la France (State of France). 3 vols. (Londres, 1727).]
21. [See Crito 50c and following. Socrates here imagines what "the laws and the commonwealth" would say of Crito's proposal that he escape from prison. Agreement or promise is one of the principles of obligation that "the laws" appeal to in the speech that Socrates invents for them, but Socrates does not say in his own name that a promise to obey the laws obligates him to remain in prison.]
Part II, Essay XIII
23. [Passive obedience is the doctrine that it is not lawful, under any pretense whatsoever, to take arms against the king or those who act under the king's authority. This doctrine was held, in the seventeenth century, by the court party, and in the eighteenth by a segment of the Tory party. Hume grants that this doctrine should not be followed when doing so would threaten the public safety, but he defends it as a better practical rule, under most circumstances, than the Whig doctrine of resistance. This essay should be compared with Hume's discussion of the same topic in the Treatise, 3.2.9 ("Of the Measures of Allegiance"). In the Treatise, the doctrine of passive obedience is called an "absurdity"; but in this later and more popular treatment of the matter, which was written during or shortly after the Jacobite rising of 1745, Hume takes pains to say nothing that would discredit the salutary principle of obedience to law.]
24. [Locke uses this motto as the epigraph to his Two Treatises of Government. Compare also the beginning of chapter 30 of Hobbes's Leviathan: "The office of the sovereign, be it a monarch or an assembly, consisteth in the end, for which he was trusted with the sovereign power, namely the procuration of the safety of the people. ... But by safety here, is not meant a bare preservation, but also all other contentments of life, which every man by lawful industry, without danger, or hurt to the commonwealth, shall acquire to himself."]
25. [This sentence and the one preceding resemble closely what Hobbes says in the Leviathan about the cause of oppressive rule (see chapter 18, end) and about the ancient Greeks and Romans as the source of the doctrine of tyrannicide (see chapter 29).]
Part II, Essay XIV
26. [The parliamentary debate that Hume is recreating took place in the early 1640s, some 160 years after the accession of Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch, in 1485. Hadrian was emperor from A.D. 117 to 138, some 160 years after Octavian received the title Augustus (28 B.C.) and brought the Roman republic to an end. The argument is that it is as absurd to oppose the Crown's prerogatives by appealing to pre-Tudor precedent as it would be to use constitutional practices in republican Rome as a precedent in Hadrian's time.]
27. [English kings from the house of Anjou are known as the Angevins or Plantagenets. Their rule began with the accession of Henry II in 1154 and ended with the abdication of Richard II in 1399. The rule of the house of Tudor began with Henry VII's accession in 1485 and ended with the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. Stuart rule in England began with the accession of James I in 1603 and ended with the death of Anne in 1714.]
28. [The Magna Carta was agreed to by King John in 1215 at the insistence of the Norman barons. In reviewing its many provisions, Hume observes that the Magna Carta "either granted or secured very important liberties and privileges to every order of men in the kingdom; to the clergy, to the barons, and to the people." History of England, chap. 11 (vol. 1, pp. 442-43 in the LibertyClassics edition).]
29. [See William Camden (1551-1623), Annales rerum Anglicarum et Hibernicarum, regnante Elizabetha (pt. I, 1615; pt. II, 1625); the first English version of the whole work by a single translator (R. Norton) appeared in 1635 as The Historie of the most renowned and victorious princesse Elizabeth, late Queen of England.]
30. [This concludes Hume's recreation of constitutional arguments that the popular party and the Royalists might have made at the outbreak of the Civil War. It should be noted that by the time this essay appeared in late 1759 or early 1760, Hume had completed the volumes of the History of England that deal with the Tudor and Stuart periods. In this essay as in the History, he calls into question the prevailing Whig interpretation of the constitution.]
Part II, Essay XV
31. [Hume had prepared this essay, along with "Of the Original Contract" and "Of Passive Obedience," for the 1748 edition of his Essays, Moral and Political, but his friend Charles Erskine, acting under Hume's authority, had suppressed it. Hume explained in a letter to Erskine that his essay examines the question of the advantages and disadvantages of each line of succession "as coolly & impartially as if I were remov'd a thousand Years from the present Period: But this is what some People think extremely dangerous, & sufficient, not only to ruin me for ever, but also throw some Reflection on all my Friends, particularly those with whom I am connected at present. I have wrote to Millar to send you the Sheets and I hereby make you entire Master to dispose of this last Essay as you think proper" (Greig, Letters of David Hume, 1:112-13).
The question of the succession was particularly sensitive at this time because of the Jacobite rising of 1745 on behalf of the Young Pretender, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, in the aftermath of which many Scottish Jacobites were executed or imprisoned. Hume's essay reopens the question and gives Jacobite arguments in favor of the Stuart succession an impartial hearing, alongside Whig arguments in favor of the Hanoverian succession. His intention is to weigh the alternatives with the "temper" as well as the "understanding" of a philosopher. Hume concludes by making a strong case for acceptance of the present establishment in the house of Hanover. He perhaps calculates that the best way to reconcile the Jacobites and their sympathizers to the established succession is to begin by giving their side its due.]
Part II, Essay XVI
32. [Christiaan Huygens (1629-95), Dutch mathematician, astronomer, physicist, and inventor, was one of his century's leading men of science. Through Colbert's influence and with the promise of a generous stipend, he was invited by Louis XIV in 1665 to take up residence in France, where he lived until 1681. Huygens and other scientists were enlisted to work on problems connected with navigation and shipbuilding as part of Colbert's ambitious plan to improve the French navy.]
33. [Sir Francis Drake (1545-95) made his voyage around the world from 1577 to 1580. Queen Elizabeth I, who had furnished Drake with means for the voyage, conferred the honor of knighthood on him in 1581.]
34. [Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), for a time Lord Chancellor under Henry VIII, later incurred the king's hostility for refusing to swear any oath that would recognize Henry's right to divorce Queen Catherine or his supremacy over the church in England. More was convicted of high treason on perjured testimony and beheaded. In More's Utopia, which was first published in Latin in 1516, a fictional mariner named Raphael Hythlodaeus recounts the details of a voyage to the island of Utopia (literally, "no place"). The government of Utopia resembles that sketched in Plato's Republic in providing for a community of goods and the rule of the wise.]
35. [In the discussion that follows, Hume presupposes a familiarity with some of the distinctive institutions of Harrington's Commonwealth of Oceana. Harrington's model is an "equal commonwealth," that is, one that avoids those extremes of inequality that give rise to party strife between the rich and the poor. Equality is preserved in the "foundation" of the commonwealth by its Agrarian Law and in the "superstructures" by its system of rotation. The Agrarian Law prevents the concentration of landed property in a few hands by requiring that the owner of a large estate leave his lands divided more or less equally among his male heirs, if there is more than one son. The system of rotation applies to the government of the commonwealth, which has three orders: the senate, consisting of men who are elected for their excellent qualities (a "natural aristocracy"), which debates and proposes legislation; the people, as represented by a popular assembly, who enact legislation; and the magistrates, who are elected for terms of one or three years and whose function is to execute the laws. The senate and the popular assembly are each upon a triennial rotation or annual change in the one-third part. The magistrates, after serving their terms, must enjoy an interval or vacation equal to the length of the time in office.]
36. [The Lords of the Articles was an ancient institution in the Scottish parliament, consisting of a committee chosen from the three estates. The king was able to shape the composition of the group through his influence over the bishops, who had a decisive voice in choosing the other members. As Hume points out in the History of England, chapter 55, no motion could be made in parliament without the previous consent of the Lords of the Articles. This gave the king, in addition to his negative after bills had passed through parliament, another, indirectly, before their introduction. This latter negative, in Hume's view, was a prerogative of much greater consequence than the former; and "the nation, properly speaking, could not be said to enjoy any regular freedom" until the Lords of the Articles was abolished, first in 1641 and finally in 1690.]
37. [Niccolò Machiavelli, Discorsi sopra la Prima Deca di Tito Livio (Discourses on the first ten books of Titus Livy), bk. 3, chap. 1. The Discourses, which was probably written between 1513 and 1518, was published posthumously in 1531. The first English translation was published in 1636.]
38. [The usual method by which the Great Council of Venice elected magistrates was as follows: "Three urns were placed in front of the ducal throne, those on the right and left containing half as many balls each as there were members present, all the balls being white with the exception of thirty in each urn which were of gold. In the middle urn were sixty balls, thirty-six gold and twenty-four white. The office to be filled having been announced to the Great Council, the members drew from the urns on the right and left. Those who drew white resumed their seats, the sixty who drew gold drew again from the middle urn. Of the sixty, the twenty-four who drew white resumed their seats, the thirty-six who drew gold became electors. They then divided themselves by lot into four groups of nine each. The groups retired separately, and each nominated a candidate for the vacant office, six votes being required for nomination. The four candidates thus nominated were then presented to the Great Council and voted for by that body, a plurality electing. No two members of any family were permitted to serve as electors for the same vacancy. If all four groups of electors agreed on the same candidate, he was declared elected without the formality of a ballot." See George B. McClellan, The Oligarchy of Venice (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1904), pp. 159-60. John Adams, who describes the Venetian ballot in his Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, vol. 1, chap. 2, calls it "a complicated mixture of choice and chance." Harrington adopted the Venetian Ballot in his Commonwealth of Oceana.]
39. [From the late thirteenth century onward, the cantons that made up the Swiss Confederation were pledged to use their militias for mutual defense, and this citizen army was notably successful in maintaining the country's independence against foreign enemies. These militias were formed on the principle that all able-bodied males are liable to military service and should receive arms and regular training. For an elaboration of the argument that a militia on the Swiss model is the appropriate military system for a republic, see Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Considerations on the Government of Poland, chap. 12.]
40. [See Jean-François-Paul de Gondi, Cardinal de Retz (1614-79), Mémoires, in Œuvres, nouvelle éd. (Paris: Hachette, 1870-96), 2:422. While assistant to his uncle, the archbishop of Paris, Gondi was one of the leaders of the Fronde (1648-53), a rebellion against the government of Anne of Austria, regent for her son, Louis XIV, and her minister, Cardinal Mazarin. Gondi became cardinal in 1652 and afterward styled himself Cardinal de Retz. His Mémoires were first published in 1717. An English translation appeared in 1723.]
41. [The editor could not establish the identity of the poet cited here by Hume. The point of the poet's exclamation seems to be that while man forever strives for perfection or permanence, his works are ever perishable. This may be another instance in which Hume paraphrases his source loosely rather than quoting it exactly. If so, possible sources might be Horace, Satires 2.8.62, or Lucretius, The Nature of Things 2.76 or 5.1430-31. Hume includes both Horace and Lucretius in his list of the great poets (see "Of the Middle Station of Life," p. 550, under "Essays Withdrawn and Unpublished").]
Part III, Essay I
3. [The major tragedies of Thomas Otway (1652-85) are Don Carlos, The Orphan, and Venice Preserved. John Dryden (1631-1700), the greatest English poet of his age and an ardent defender of the Tory cause, was noted for his dramas, poetry, criticism, and translations of the ancients. Hume may have in mind Dryden's heroic plays, which often have an extravagant and bombastic character.]
Part III, Essay II
5. [See Plutarch's Lives, in the life of Brutus, sec. 12. According to Plutarch's account, Brutus kept the conspiracy against Caesar secret from his friend Statillius the Epicurean, because earlier, when put to the test indirectly in a discussion, Statilius had replied in the way that Hume describes.]
7. [See Epictetus, Encheiridion (Manual), sec. 16: "When you see someone weeping in sorrow, either because a child has gone on a journey, or because he has lost his property, beware that you be not carried away by the impression that the man is in the midst of external ills, but straightway keep before you this thought: 'It is not what has happened that distresses this man (for it does not distress another), but his judgement about it.' Do not, however, hesitate to sympathize with him so far as words go, and, if occasion offers, even to groan with him; but be careful not to groan also in the centre of your being" (Loeb translation by W. A. Oldfather).]
8. [Diogenes of Sinope (400?-325? B.C.) was founder of the Cynic school of philosophy, which sought happiness in an austere life, devoted to the satisfaction of only one's few natural needs and to the open disdain for things conventionally thought to be desirable. Hume here follows the account of Diogenes' savings in Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 1.43 (104).]
9. [The editor could not locate a Eugenius, either real or fictional, whose life conforms to these details. This story, like the letter that follows, is probably Hume's fabrication. Thus Eugenius (literally, "nobly born," "good spirit," "good inclination," or "good character") may personify the philosophic life in which the sentiments of the heart are properly accommodated. Joseph Addison uses Eugenius as a name for one of the participants in his "Dialogues upon the Usefulness of Ancient Medals" (1721); and Laurence Sterne would later give the name to a character in his novel Tristram Shandy (1760-67).]
Part III, Essay III
11. [Hume is quoting Proverbs 30:7-9 as these verses appear in the King James Version of the Bible. Other sources of his time also refer to these verses as "Agur's prayer." Proverbs 30:1 begins: "The words of Agur the son of Jakeh."]
26. [Kouli-Kan was a European name for Nadir Shah, emperor of Persia from 1736 to 1747. Nadir, a robber chief, became general of the royal army in 1727 and drove the occupying Afghan army out of Persia. He usurped the throne in 1736 and established a new dynasty. Later in the decade he invaded and conquered India.]
Part III, Essay IV
29. [This essay appeared in the first edition of Essays, Moral and Political (Edinburgh: A. Kincaid, 1741) and in subsequent editions up to and including Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects (London: A. Millar; and Edinburgh: A. Kincaid and A. Donaldson, 1760, 4 vols.), after which it was withdrawn.]
Part III, Essay V
30. [This essay appeared in the first edition of Essays, Moral and Political, 1741, and in subsequent editions up to and including Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects, 1760, after which it was withdrawn.]
31. [Hume's tale about the Scythian women could not be located by the editor in any source, ancient or modern. For an account of the legends associated with the Scythians, and their literary influence, see James William Johnson, "The Scythian: His Rise and Fall," Journal of the History of Ideas, 20 (January 1959), pp. 250-57.]
32. [See Plato, Symposium 189c-193d. The story that Hume relates is told in the dialogue by the comic poet Aristophanes, who delivers one of seven speeches (including the speech of Alcibiades) on love. Hume changes some crucial details. The androgynes (male-female) were but one of three original sexes. There were, in addition, the composite males and the composite females. As Hume relates, heterosexual love grows out of Zeus's splitting of the androgynes into males and females, who both long for a reunion with their former partners. Hume is silent, however, about homosexual love, which results from the splitting of the other composite persons into female-female and male-male. Whereas Hume writes in support of heterosexual love and marriage, Aristophanes depreciates it and praises instead male homosexuality.]
Part III, Essay VI
33. [This essay appeared in the first edition of Essays, Moral and Political, 1741, and in subsequent editions up to and including Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects, 1760, after which it was withdrawn.]
34. [Cato's stepsister Servilia was for a time Julius Caesar's mistress. This led to the rumor that Caesar was the real father of Brutus. Valeria Messalina, at the age of fourteen, married her second cousin Claudius, then forty-eight, shortly before his accession as emperor. She was notorious for her sexual profligacy and even went so far as to celebrate a marriage with Gaius Silius while the emperor was away from Rome. Messalina and Silius were put to death in A.D. 48 at the behest of Narcissus, Claudius's private secretary.
Julia, the only daughter of Emperor Augustus, was married to Tiberius in 11 B.C. At last in 2 B.C., her father, learning of her adulterous conduct, sent her into exile, where she died in A.D. 14. Hume might be referring instead, however, to Julia, Caligula's sister, who was banished in 39 A.D. for adultery with her brother-in-law. After she was restored by Claudius, Messalina accused her of adultery with Seneca. She was banished once more and soon after put to death.]
35. [Horace, Epistles 1.10.24-25: "Naturam expelles furca, tamen usque recurret, et mala perrumpet furtim fastidia victrix": "You may drive out Nature with a pitchfork, yet she will ever hurry back, and, ere you know it, will burst through your foolish contempt in triumph" (Loeb translation by H. Rushton Fairclough).]
36. [Lucretius, The Nature of Things 3.57-58: "... only then are the words of truth drawn up from the very heart ..." (Loeb translation by Martin Ferguson Smith). The context of these words is the poet's observation that we can best discern what kind of person someone is in a time of adversity, when he is in danger or peril.]
Part III, Essay VII
37. [This essay appeared in the first edition of Essays, Moral and Political, 1741, and in subsequent editions up to and including Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects (London: Printed for A. Millar; A. Kincaid, J. Bell, and A. Donaldson, in Edinburgh. And sold by T. Cadell in the Strand. 1768, 2 vols.), after which it was withdrawn.]
Part III, Essay VIII
41. [This essay first appeared in January 1742, in Essays, Moral and Political, vol. 2. By that time, Walpole's position as the king's first minister was perilous, for his party had won only a small majority in the general election of 1741, and the ministry was under heavy attack for its conduct of foreign affairs. His resignation was forced in early February 1742, after which he retired to the House of Lords as Earl of Orford. In the Advertisement to this volume of Essays, Moral and Political, Hume writes: "The Character of Sir ROBERT WALPOLE was drawn some Months ago, when that Great MAN was in the Zenith of his Power. I must confess, that, at present, when he seems to be upon the Decline, I am inclin'd to think more favourably of him, and to suspect, that the Antipathy, which every true born Briton naturally bears to Ministers of State, inspir'd me with some Prejudice against him. The impartial READER, if any such there be; or Posterity, if such a Trifle can reach them, will best be able to correct my Mistakes in this Particular." In the editions of Hume's Essays appearing from 1748 to 1768, the essay on Walpole, who had died in 1745, was printed in a footnote at the end of "That Politics may be reduced to a Science." It was dropped in 1770. Hume began the footnote as follows: "What our author's opinion was of the famous minister here pointed at, may be learned from that essay, printed in the former editions, under the title of A character of Sir ROBERT WALPOLE: It was as follows." At the end of the footnote, Hume added: "The author is pleased to find, that after animosities are subsided, and calumny has ceased, the whole nation almost have returned to the same moderate sentiments with regard to this great man, if they are not rather become more favourable to him, by a very natural transition, from one extreme to another. The author would not oppose those humane sentiments towards the dead; though he cannot forbear observing, that the not paying more of our public debts was, as hinted in this character, a great, and the only great, error in that long administration."]
Part III, Essay IX
44. [The essays "Of Suicide" and "Of the Immortality of the Soul" were sent by Hume to his publisher, Andrew Millar, probably in late 1755 for inclusion in a volume entitled Five Dissertations. Also to be included in the volume were "The Natural History of Religion," "Of the Passions," and "Of Tragedy." The volume was printed by Millar, and several copies were distributed in advance of publication. Yet faced with the prospect of ecclesiastical condemnation and perhaps even official prosecution, Hume decided, at the urging of friends, that it would be prudent not to go ahead with publication of the essays on suicide and immortality. Accordingly, they were excised by Millar, and a new essay, "Of the Standard of Taste," was added to the volume, which appeared in 1757 under the title Four Dissertations. Despite Hume's precautions, clerical critics such as Dr. William Warburton knew of the suppressed essays and sometimes alluded to them. The essays even appeared in French translation in 1770, apparently without Hume ever learning of this fact. Shortly before his death, Hume added a codicil to his will, expressing the desire that William Strahan publish his "Dialogues concerning Natural Religion" at any time within two years of the philosopher's death, to which Strahan "may add, if he thinks proper, the two Essays formerly printed but not published" (in J. Y. T. Greig, ed., The Letters of David Hume, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1932, 2:453). "Of Suicide" and "Of the Immortality of the Soul" were published in 1777, though probably not by Strahan, under the title Two Essays. Neither the author's name nor that of the publisher appears on the title page. The details surrounding the suppression and subsequent publication of these two essays are discussed at length by Green and Grose in the prefatory materials to their edition of Hume's Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary (New Edition; London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1889), pp. 60-72, and by Mossner in The Life of David Hume (Edinburgh: Nelson, 1954), pp. 319-35.
The present text of "Of Suicide" is printed, by permission, from a proof-copy of the unpublished, 1755 version of the essay that is owned by the National Library of Scotland. This proof-copy has twenty corrections in Hume's own hand. The posthumous, 1777 edition of the essay fails to make these corrections, and it departs from the earlier printed version in paragraphing, punctuation, capitalization, and, on occasion, wording. The 1755 version of "Of Suicide" was unavailable to Green and Grose. They follow instead the 1777 edition, but introduce variations of their own. Since we cannot determine the extent to which the 1777 edition reflects Hume's wishes, the corrected, 1755 version of "Of Suicide" is the copy-text of choice. The editor is grateful to the Trustees of the National Library of Scotland for providing a photocopy of the corrected, 1755 versions of "Of Suicide" and "Of the Immortality of the Soul" and for giving permission to reprint these essays.]
46. Agamus Deo gratias, quod nemo in vita teneri potest. Seneca, Epist. xii. [Seneca, Epistles, no. 12: "On Old Age," sec. 10: "And let us thank God that no man can be kept in life" (Loeb translation by Richard M. Gummere).]
47. Tacit. Ann. lib. i. [See Tacitus, Annals 1.79 for the debate in the Roman senate over whether or not the tributaries of the Tiber should be altered. Tacitus observes that whatever the deciding factor—the protests of the colonies, the difficulty of the work, or a superstitious reluctance to alter the course assigned to rivers by nature—Piso's motion "that nothing be changed" was agreed to.]
48. [Filippo Strozzi (1489-1538), a leading Florentine banker and for most of his life a supporter of the Medici in Florence and at the papal court in Rome, was best remembered by later generations for his opposition to the Medici dukes of Florence, Alessandro and Cosimo. Filippo became a leader of the Florentine exiles after he and his sons were driven from Florence in 1533 by Alessandro. Following Alessandro's murder in 1537, Filippo led an exile army toward Florence, which was met and defeated by soldiers loyal to Alessandro's successor, Cosimo. Filippo was captured and subjected to torture in a vain effort to force him to implicate others. In December 1538, after seventeen months of imprisonment, he took his own life. Filippo, a classical scholar of some attainments, modeled his suicide on that of Cato the Younger. He left behind an epitaph, which read in part: "Liberty, therefore, perceiving that together with him all her hopes had perished, having surrendered herself and cursed the light of day, demanded to be sealed up in his same tomb. Thus, O Stranger, shed copious tears if the Florentine republic means anything at all to you, for Florence will never see again so noble a citizen ... whose highest command was: in dying for one's fatherland, any sort of death is sweet." Quoted in Melissa Meriam Bullard, Filippo Strozzi and the Medici (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), pp. 176-77.]
49. It would be easy to prove, that Suicide is as lawful under the christian dispensation as it was to the heathens. There is not a single text of scripture, which prohibits it. That great and infallible rule of faith and practice, which must controul all philosophy and human reasoning, has left us, in this particular, to our natural liberty. Resignation to providence is, indeed, recommended in scripture; but that implies only submission to ills, which are unavoidable, not to such as may be remedied by prudence or courage. Thou shalt not kill is evidently meant to exclude only the killing of others, over whose life we have no authority. That this precept like most of the scripture precepts, must be modified by reason and common sense, is plain from the practice of magistrates, who punish criminals capitally, notwithstanding the letter of this law. But were this commandment ever so express against Suicide, it could now have no authority. For all the law of Moses is abolished, except so far as it is established by the law of nature; and we have already endeavoured to prove, that Suicide is not prohibited by that law. In all cases, Christians and Heathens are precisely upon the same footing; and if Cato and Brutus, Arria and Portia acted heroically, those who now imitate their example ought to receive the same praises from posterity. The power of committing Suicide is regarded by Pliny as an advantage which men possess even above the deity himself. Deus non sibi potest mortem consciscere, si velit, quod homini dedit optimum in tantis vitæ pœnis. Lib. ii. Cap. 7. [Pliny, Natural History 2.5.27 in the Loeb edition: "(God cannot) even if he wishes, commit suicide, the supreme boon that he has bestowed on man among all the penalties of life" (Loeb translation by H. Rackham).]
Part III, Essay X
50. [For an account of the history of this essay, see "Of Suicide," fn. 1. The present text of "Of the Immortality of the Soul" is printed, by permission, from a proof-copy of the unpublished, 1755 version of the essay that is owned by the National Library of Scotland. This proof-copy has twenty corrections in Hume's own hand. The posthumous, 1777 edition of the essay fails to make these corrections, and it departs from the earlier printed version in paragraphing, punctuation, capitalization, and, on occasion, wording. Green and Grose printed their version of "Of the Immortality of the Soul" from proof-sheets of the 1755 version that were once in the possession of the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, but are now lost. The proof-copy used by Green and Grose did not have the corrections that appear on the one used for the present edition. Moreover, Green and Grose depart in important ways from the text printed in 1755 or early 1756.]
51. [These observations on the fictitious character of the notion of substance and on the impossibility of deciding questions of fact or existence by abstract reasoning are developed by Hume in the Treatise of Human Nature.]
52. [Homer speaks of the Elysian Plain and Hesiod of the Isles of the Blessed as places to which those specially favored by the gods and exempted from death are transported. Later authors depict Elysium as the abode in Hades of the blessed dead.]
53. Quint. Curtius, lib. vi. cap. 5. [This section of the History of Alexander describes Alexander's defeat of the Mardi and the destruction of their fortifications. His anger was heightened by the capture of Bucephalus.]
55. [The doctrine of metempsychosis, or reincarnation, holds that the soul of a human being or animal transmigrates at or after death into a new bodily form of the same or different species. This doctrine is associated especially with the philosopher Pythagoras and with various Eastern religions.]
56. Lib. vii. cap. 55. [Natural History 7.55 in the Loeb edition: "... how much easier and safer for each to trust in himself, and for us to derive our idea of future tranquillity from our experience of it before birth!" (Loeb translation by H. Rackham.) Futurae is added to the Latin text by Rackham. The context is Pliny's argument that neither body nor mind possesses any sensation after death, any more than it did before birth.]
58. Some of the opinions, delivered in these Essays, with regard to the public transactions in the last century, the Author, on more accurate examination, found reason to retract in his History of GREAT BRITAIN. And as he would not enslave himself to the systems of either party, neither would he fetter his judgment by his own preconceived opinions and principles; nor is he ashamed to acknowledge his mistakes. [This note does not occur in any edition prior to M.]
59. By Priests I understand only the Pretenders to Power and Dominion, and to a superior Sanctity of Character, distinct from Virtue and good Morals. These are very different from Clergymen, who are set apart ["by the Laws" added in Edition B] to the care of sacred Matters, and the conducting our public Devotions with greater Decency and Order. There is no Rank of Men more to be respected than the latter.
61. ———Nihil est ab omni
Lib. 2. Ode 16.
Lib. 3. Prol. 31.
Georg. Lib. 1, 41.
One would not say to a prince or great man, "When you and I were in such a place, we saw such a thing happen." But, "When you were in such a place, I attended you: And such a thing happened."
Here I cannot forbear mentioning a piece of delicacy observed in FRANCE, which seems to me excessive and ridiculous. You must not say, "That is a very fine dog, Madam." But, "Madam, that is a very fine dog." They think it indecent that those words, dog and madam, should be coupled together in the sentence; though they have no reference to each other in the sense.
After all, I acknowledge, that this reasoning from single passages of ancient authors may seem fallacious; and that the foregoing arguments cannot have great force, but with those who are well acquainted with these writers, and know the truth of the general position. For instance, what absurdity would it be to assert, that VIRGIL understood not the force of the terms he employs, and could not chuse his epithets with propriety? Because in the following lines, addressed also to AUGUSTUS, he has failed in that particular, and has ascribed to the INDIANS a quality, which seems, in a manner, to turn his hero into ridicule.
——— Et te, maxime CÆSAR,
Georg. Lib. 2, 171.
67. To this purpose see also Essay I. at the end. [The reference is to "Of Commerce," where Hume argues that the harsher climate of the temperate zone, as contrasted to the torrid zone, has been a great spur to industry and invention.]
69. What is the advantage of the column after it has broke the enemy's line? only, that it then takes them in flank, and dissipates whatever stands near it by a fire from all sides. But till it has broke them, does it not present a flank to the enemy, and that exposed to their musquetry, and, what is much worse, to their cannon?
70. Strabo, lib. iv. 200, says, that one legion would be sufficient, with a few cavalry; but the Romans commonly kept up somewhat a greater force in this island, which they never took the pains entirely to subdue.
71. It appears that Cromwell's parliament, in 1656, settled but 1,300,000 pounds a year on him for the constant charges of government in all the three kingdoms. See Scobel, chap. 31. This was to supply the fleet, army, and civil list. It appears from Whitelocke, that in the year 1649, the sum of 80,000 pounds a month was the estimate for 40,000 men. We must conclude, therefore, that Cromwell had much less than that number upon pay in 1656. In the very instrument of government, 20,000 foot and 10,000 horse are fixed by Cromwell himself, and afterwards confirmed by the parliament, as the regular standing army of the commonwealth. That number, indeed, seems not to have been much exceeded during the whole time of the protectorship. See farther Thurlo, Vol. II. pp. 413, 499, 568. We may there see, that though the Protector had more considerable armies in Ireland and Scotland, he had not sometimes more than 4,000 or 5,000 men in England.