Hamish Riley-Smith

Rare Books And Manuscripts

David Hume

Six Autograph Letters to William Mure 1763-1776 Together with the only surviving record of a letter Hume wrote to his friend the Rev John Home about the death of William Mure.

David Hume said of William Mure he "was the oldest and best friend I had in the World"

David Hume
Six autograph letters signed in ink to William Mure of Caldwell
London and Paris, September 1763 - October 1770
Quarto, 12 1/2 pages
together with
David Hume to John Home on Baron Mure’s death
12 April 1776 octavo 2 pages in ink, contemporary copy.


William Mure of Caldwell [1718-1776], M.P. for Renfrewshire, 1742-1761, Baron of the Scottish Exchequer 1761-1776, Lord Rector of Glasgow University 1764-1765, was educated at home by Rev William Leechman, and later studied law at Edinburgh and Leiden. He married Catherine Graham (died 1820), the daughter of Lord Easdale. His friends included Sir Thomas Miller, Sir Gilbert Elliot, Earl of Minto, his first cousin Sir James Steuart the political economist, David Hume, James Oswald, Earl of Glasgow, James Duke of Hamilton, and the Prime Minister and statesman the Earl of Bute. He helped Bute with the management of his estates and became a close friend and adviser and one of the most influential men in Scotland. Mure was one of the guardians of the Duke of Hamilton’s children on the death of the Duke in 1758 and this responsibility devolved upon him during the period of the great Douglas cause.
“But the most remarkable of Mr Mure’s intimate associates was David Hume...being the oldest and dearest private friend of that remarkable personage...
“the compiler has also had access to a document which places the relations between the two in a still clearer light, and in its self of some curiosity. It is a letter addressed to John Home, the author of Douglas, shortly after the Baron’s death, and while the writer himself was labouring under the incurable disease which carried him off a few months afterwards..." Caldwell Papers

Greig, the editor, in his introduction to The Letters of David Hume has written:
“The letters...reveal most sides of David Hume the man – his precocity of intellect, his independent spirit, his kindliness of heart, his love of fun,...his pleasant vanities, the laziness that grew upon him after 1759, his readiness to think too highly of his friends and any books they happened to produce, his admiration for the French, his prejudice against the Churches, all ‘enthusiasts’, the Whigs, and Englishmen, his general but not unbroken equanimity of temper, and his fine common sense.”

This is reflected in the six surviving letters from David Hume to William Mure, that have been passed down through the Mure family, and have never before been for sale. They are here described, together with the only surviving record of a letter Hume wrote to his friend the Rev John Home about the death of William Mure. The location of the original is assumed lost.

For a detailed account of William Mure’s life, see his grandson William Mure: Selections from the Family Papers preserved at Caldwell, Glasgow 1854 Part I, Introductory Memoir pp.29-46.
Greig, The Letters of David Hume, 2 vols Oxford 1932. Klibansky & Mossner, New Letters of David Hume Oxford 1954. Mossner, The Life of David Hume. 1954.

This collection: September 1st 1763, June 22nd 1764, July 1st 1767, July 18th 1767, Summer 1767, October 2nd 1770, to Rev John Home April 12th 1776 copy [Greig nos.212, 242, 392, 396, 399, 451, 519]

Transcript and price on request

David Hume - Six Autograph Letters to William Mure 1763-1776
Together with the only surviving record of a letter Hume wrote to his friend the Rev John Home about the death of William Mure.

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