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قراءة كتاب Life and Correspondence of David Hume, Volume I (of 2)

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Life and Correspondence of David Hume, Volume I (of 2)

Life and Correspondence of David Hume, Volume I (of 2)

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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same generation that Wedderburn was the second, so that the difference of antiquity is nothing, or very inconsiderable.

"The readiest way of vouching these facts would be for you to take a jaunt to the churchyard of Hutton, and inquire for Bell's monument, and see whether the inscription be not obliterated; for it is above twenty-five years ago that I saw the paper in Sir James Home's hand, and he told us, at that time, that the inscription was somewhat difficult to be read. If it be still legible it would be very well done to take a copy of it in some authentic manner, and transmit it to Mr. Douglas, to be inserted in his volume. If it be utterly effaced, the next, but most difficult task would be to search for the paper above-mentioned in the family of Home: it must be some time about the year 1440 or 1450. If both these means fail, we must rest upon the tradition.

"I am not of the opinion of some, that these matters are altogether to be slighted. Though we should pretend to be wiser than our ancestors, yet it is arrogant to pretend that we are wiser than the other nations of Europe, who, all of them, except perhaps the English, make great account of their family descent. I doubt that our morals have not much improved since we began to think riches the sole thing worth regarding.[4:1]

"If I were in the country I should be glad to attend you to Hutton, in order to make the inquiry I propose. I doubt whether my brother will think of doing it: he has such an extreme aversion to every thing that savours of vanity, that he would not willingly expose himself to censure; but this is a justice that one owes to their posterity, for we are not certain that these matters will be always so little regarded.

"I shall farther observe to you, that the Lord Home, founder of Dunglas, married the heiress of that family, of the name of Pepdie, and from her we always bear the Pepingos in our arms.

"I find in Hall's Chronicle that the Earl of Surrey, in an inroad upon the Merse, made during the reign of Henry the Eighth, after the battle of Flouden, destroyed the castles of Hedderburn, West Nisgate, and Blackadder, and the towers of East Nisgate, and Winwalls. The names, you see, are somewhat disfigured; but I cannot doubt but he means Nisbet and Ninewells: the situation of the places leads us to that conjecture.

"I have reason to believe, notwithstanding the fact, as Ninewells lay very near Berwick, our ancestors commonly paid contributions to the governor of that place, and abstained from hostilities and were prevented from ravages. There is, in Hayne's State Papers, a very particular account of the ravages committed by an inroad of the English, during the minority of Queen Mary.[6:1] Not a village, scarce a single house in the Merse, but what is mentioned as burnt or overthrown, till you come to Whitwater. East of the river, there was not one destroyed. This reason will perhaps explain why, in none of the histories of that time, even the more particular, there is any mention made of our ancestors; while we meet with Wedderburn, Aiton, Manderston, Cowdenknows, Sprot, and other cadets of Home.

"I have learned from my mother, that my father, in a lawsuit with Hilton, claimed an old apprizing upon the lands of Hutton-Hall, upon which there had been no deed done for 140 years. Hilton thought that it must necessarily be expired; but my father was able to prove that, during that whole time there had not been forty years of majority in the family. He died soon after, and left my mother very young; so that there was near 160 years during which there was not forty years of majority.[6:2] Now we are upon this

subject, I shall just mention to you a trifle, with regard to the spelling of our name. The practice of spelling Hume is by far the most ancient and most general till about the Restoration, when it became common to spell Home contrary to the pronunciation. Our name is frequently mentioned in Rymer's Fœdera, and always spelt Hume. I find a subscription of Lord Hume in the memoirs of the Sidney family, where it is spelt as I do at present. These are a few of the numberless authorities on this head.

"I wish the materials I give you were more numerous and more satisfactory; but such as they are, I am glad to have communicated them to you.—I am," &c.[7:1]

A competent authority in such matters gives the following partly heraldic, partly topographical account of the Humes and their territory:—

"Hume of Ninewells, the family of the great historian, bore 'Vert a lion rampant, argent, within a bordure or, charged with nine wells, or springs, barry-wavy and argent.'

"The estate of Ninewells is so named from a cluster of springs of that number. Their situation is picturesque. They burst forth from a gentle declivity in front of the mansion, which has on each side a semicircular rising bank, covered with fine timber, and fall, after a short time, into the bed of the river Whitewater, which forms a boundary in the front. These springs, as descriptive of their property, were assigned to the Humes of this place, as a difference in arms from the chief of their house."[8:1]

The scenes amidst which Hume passed his boyhood, and many of the years of his later life, have subsequently, in the light of a national literature, become a classic land, visited by strangers, with the same feeling with which Hume himself trod the soil of Mantua. In his own days, the elements of this literature were no less in existence; but it was not part of his mental character to find any pleasing associations in spots, remarkable only for the warlike or adventurous achievements they had witnessed. Intellect was the material on which his genius worked: with it were all his associations and sympathies; and what had not been adorned by the feats of the mind had no charm in his eye. Had he been a stranger of another land, visiting at the present, or some later day, the scenes of the Lay and of Marmion, they would, without doubt,

like the land of Virgil, have lit in his mind some sympathetic glow; but the scenes illustrated solely by deeds of barbarous warfare, and by a rude illiterate minstrelsy, had nothing in them to rouse a mind, which was yet far from being destitute of its own peculiar enthusiasm. He had often, in his history, to mention great historical events that had taken place in the immediate vicinity of his paternal residence, and in places to which he could hardly have escaped, if he did not court occasional visits. About six miles from Ninewells, stands Norham castle. Three or four miles farther off, are Twisel bridge, where Surrey crossed the Till to engage the Scots, and the other localities connected with the battle of Flodden. In the same neighbourhood is Holiwell Haugh, where

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