HUME, DAVID. 1711-1776.
Essays Moral and Political. Edinburgh: printed by R. Fleming and A. Alison for A. Kincaid, 1741.
12mo (153 x 88 mm). , 187 pp. Contemporary speckled calf, spine gilt and with morocco label. Faint spotting to prelims, light chipping at joints.
Provenance: Robert William Duff (engraved bookplate); Hume scholar Dr. A.W. Colver (ownership signature to title); by descent to present owner.
FIRST EDITION. A collection of fifteen short essays written in a popular style, on such topics as the liberty of the press, the principles of government, the study of history, love and marriage, superstition and avarice, political parties, and human nature. The views expressed in the Treatise of two years earlier (see preceding lot) and in the present collection "were too thoroughly secular to pass unremarked in a religious age, and ... by the mid-1740s Hume had been branded a religious skeptic with atheistic tendencies. He seems in consequence to have decided to challenge openly the rationality of religious belief" (Cambridge Companion to Hume pp 27-28). A second volume was added in late 1742, but the two were not published together until 1748, after a second edition of the present volume had appeared. These two volumes were later combined with Political Discourses (1752; lot 125) and published as Essays Moral, Political and Literary in 1758. Fieser pp 10-11; Jessop pp 15-16.