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The Scottish Nation
Hume


HUME, a surname, a corruption of HOME, which see.

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      Alexander Hume of Kennetsidehead, portioner of Hume, was one of the martyrs of the Covenant, and his execution was perhaps the most cruel and unprovoked of the judicial murders, which led the way to the Revolution of 1688. Taken prisoner in 1682, by a brother of the earl of Home, he was conveyed, sorely wounded, to the castle of Edinburgh, and at first tried only on the charge of having held converse with some of the party who took the castle of Hawick in 1679. The proof, however, being defective, the diet was deserted. On November 15, he was again indicted, and accused of levying war against the king in the counties of Berwick, Roxburgh, and Selkirk. The diet was again deserted. On December 20, however, he was once more indicted for having gone to the house of Sir Henry MacDougall of Mackerstoun, besieged it, and demanded horses and arms, of having entered Kelso, &c., in search of horses and armour, of resisting the king’s forces under the master of Ross, &c. The whole of these formidable charges were founded on the simple fact that Mr. Hume, riding with sword and holster pistols, the usual arms worn by all gentlemen at that period, after attending a sermon had, on his way home, called, with his servant, at Mackerstoun House, and offered to buy a bay horse. This his counsel, Sir Patrick Hume, offered to prove, but the court repelled the defence. He was found guilty, on these unproved charges, and condemned to be hanged at the market cross of Edinburgh on 29th December, between 2 and 4 afternoon. He petitioned for time that his case might be laid before the king, but this was refused, and the day of execution hastened. Interest, however, had previously been made at court in his favour, and a remission reached Edinburgh in time, but was kept up by the chancellor, the earl of Perth. On the day of his execution his wife, Isobel Hume, went to Lady Perth, and earnestly besought her to interpose for her husband’s life, pleading his five small children, but she was inhumanly repulsed. His last speech on the scaffold will be found in Wodrow (Hist. Of Sufferings of Church of Scotland, vol., ii., pp. 268-270). His estate was forfeited, but restored at the Revolution, and it is remarkable, that his family was singularly prosperous. His lineal descendants still possess extensive property in Berwickshire – his heir male and direct descendant is Patrick Home of Gunsgreen and Windshiel, and in the same degree in the female line are Mrs. Milne Home of Wedderburn, and Mr. Robertson Glasgow, of Montgrennan, Ayrshire.

HUME, ALEXANDER, a sacred poet of the reign of James VI., was the second son of Patrick, fifth baron of Polwarth, and is supposed to have been born about the year 1560. He studied at St. Andrews, where he took the degree of bachelor of arts in 1574. After spending four years in France, studying the law, he returned to his native country, and was duly admitted advocate. His professional progress is related by himself in an ‘Epistle to Maister Gilbert Montcrief, Mediciner to the King’s Majestic.’ Not succeeding at the bar, he sought preferment at court. But failing in this also, he entered into holy orders, and was appointed minister of Logie, near Stirling. He now devoted himself to writing religious songs and poems with the view of correcting the popular taste, and displacing the “godlie and spiritual sangis and ballattis” of that age, which were nothing more than pious travesties of the profane ballads and songs then most in vogue. In 1599 he published ‘Hymnes, or Sacred Songs, where the right use of Poetry may be Espied,’ dedicated to “the faithful and vertuous Lady Elizabeth Melvil,” generally styled Lady Culros, who wrote ‘Ane Godlye Dream, compylit in Scottish Meter,’ printed at Edinburgh in 1603, and at Aberdeen in 1644, which was a great favourite with the Presbyterians. The ‘Hymnes, or Sacred Songs’ have been reprinted by the Bannatyne Club. The best of these is ‘The Day Estivall,’ being a description of a summer day in Scotland, from dawn to twilight. Hume was also the author of a poem on the defeat of the Spanish Armada, entitled ‘The Triumph of the Lord after the Manner of Men,’ which has been praised by Dr. Leyden, but never hitherto printed. He died in 1609.

      His works are:

      A treatise of Conscience, quhairin divers secreats concerning that subject are discouvered. Edin. By Rob. Walgrave, 1594, 8vo.

      Hymnes, or Sacred Songes; wherein the right Use of Poesie may be espied: be Alexander Hume. Whereunto are added, the Experience of the Author’s Youth, and certaine Precepts serving to the practice of Sanctification. Edin. By Rob. Walgrave, 1599, 4to.

      Alexander Hume, Scot, his rejoinder to Dr. Adam Hill, concerning the Descent of Christ into Hell, wherein the answer to his Sermon is justly defended, and the rust of his Reply scraped from those Arguments, as if they had never been touched with the canker, 4to.

HUME, DAVID, of Godscroft, a well-known controversial writer, historian, and Latin poet, was the second son of Sir David Hume of Wedderburn, by his wife, Mary, daughter of Johnston of Elphinston, and is supposed to have been born about 1560. He was educated with his elder brother at the public school of Dunbar, and afterwards went to France, intending to make the tour of Italy, but had reached no farther than Geneva, when he was recalled by the dangerous illness of his brother, on which he returned to Scotland about the beginning of 1581`. In 1583 he became confidential secretary to his relative, Archibald, “the Good Earl” of Angus, whom he accompanied on his retirement into England. He availed himself of the opportunity to visit London, and during his residence there he maintained a constant correspondence with the earl, who, with the other exiled lords, remained at Newcastle. In 1585 he returned to Scotland with Angus, and till the earl’s death, which happened in 1588, he continued in the capacity of his secretary, and was engaged in some of the public transactions of the time.

      In 1605 he published the first part of a Latin treatise, ‘De Unione Insulae Britanniae,’ which he dedicated to James VI., advocating his majesty’s favourite project of a union between England and Scotland. The same year he published his ‘Lusus Poetici,’ afterwards inserted in the ‘Deliciae Poetarum Scotorum.’ In 1608 Hume entered upon a correspondence on the subject of episcopacy and presbytery with Law, bishop of Orkney, afterwards archbishop of Glasgow, and, in 1613, he began a controversy of the same nature with Cowper, bishop of Galloway. About 1611 he wrote the ‘History of the House of Wedderburn, by a Son of the Family,’ which has been printed for the Abbotsford Club. On the death of Prince Henry in 1612, he lamented his fate in a poem, entitled ‘Henrici Principis Justa.’ In 1617 he composed a congratulatory poem on the king’s revisiting Scotland, entitled ‘Regi Suo Graticulatio.’ The same year he wrote, but did not publish, a prose work in reply to the injurious assertions relative to Scotland which Camden had asserted in his Britannia, also answered by Drummond.

      Hume’s principal work, supposed to have been written about 1625, is his ‘History of the House and Race of Douglas and Angus,’ first printed at Edinburgh by Evan Tyler in 1644, and several times reprinted. He is conjectured to have died about 1630.

HUME, SIR PATRICK, Bart. Of Polwarth, first earl of Marchmont, a distinguished patriot and statesman, was born January 13, 1641. He succeeded his father in his estates and the title of baronet in 1648, and was educated by his mother, the daughter of Sir Alexander Hamilton of Innerwick, as a strict Presbyterian. In 1665 he was elected member of parliament for the county of Berwick, He took a decided part against the tyrannical administration of the duke of Lauderdale, and went to London in 1674 with the duke of Hamilton and others, to lay before the king the grievances of the nation. In September 1675, for his opposition to the measures of the government, he was imprisoned in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh. He was afterwards removed to the castle of Dumbarton, and finally to Stirling castle, from whence he was liberated by order of the king, in July 1679. He subsequently went to England, and had many conferences on the state of the nation with the duke of Monmouth, the earl of Shaftesbury, and Lord Russell, who was his near relative. In the autumn of 1684, finding that the government was bent on his destruction, Sir Patrick withdrew from his house, and concealed himself in the family burial vault, under the parish church of Polwarth, where he remained for several weeks, supplied every night with food by his celebrated daughter, Grizel, afterwards Lady Grizel Baillie, then only 12 years of age. As winter approached, he removed to a concealed place made by his lady beneath the floor of an under apartment in his own house, where he lived for some time; but, water flowing in to the place of his retreat, he decided on quitting the kingdom, and accordingly departed in disguise. He had only been gone a few hours, when a party of soldiers came to his house in search of him. He succeeded in getting safely to Holland, where he was received with great respect by the prince of Orange.

      In 1685 he accompanied the earl of Argyle in his unfortunate expedition to Scotland, and in May of that year his estate was confiscated, and a decree of forfeiture passed against him. On the failure of that ill-concerted enterprise he was concealed for three weeks in the house of his friend Montgomery of Lainshaw, in Ayrshire. He also lay for a time concealed at Kilwinning, where he wrote a narrative of the expedition, which was first printed in Mr. Rose’s Observations on Fox’s Historical Work, and is inserted in the Marchmont papers, published in 1831. A report of his death was spread abroad to throw the authorities off their guard, and induce them to relax in the search for him, and he effected his escape by a vessel from the west coast, first to Ireland, and then to Bordeaux, whence he proceeded to Geneva, and thence to Holland, where he was joined by his wife and ten children. He settled at Utrecht, where, under the borrowed name of Dr. Wallace, he remained three years and a half, and during that period endured many privations. His necessities prevented him from keeping a servant, and frequently compelled him to pawn his plate to provide for the wants of his family. Not being able to afford the expense of a tutor, he educated his children himself.

      It appears that whilst at Bordeaux, he gave himself out for a surgeon, as he had done on the occasion of his former exile, and as he could bleed, and always carried lancets, he well represented the character, and that he travelled on foot across France to Holland. His estates, forfeited in 1686, was given to the earl of Seaford. In June 1688 he addressed from Utrecht a letter, powerful both in style and argument, to his friend Sir William Denholm, written to be communicated to the Presbyterian ministers, to put them on their guard against an insidious plan, which was then in agitation, to induce them to “petition King James for a toleration, which would have included the papists.”

      At the Revolution of 1688 he came over with the prince of Orange, and took his seat in the Convention parliament, which met at Edinburgh, March 14, 1689, as member for Berwickshire. In July 1690 his forfeiture was rescinded by act of parliament; he was soon after sworn a privy councillor, and December 26, 1690, he was created a peer of Scotland by the title of Lord Polwarth. In October 1692 he was appointed sheriff of Berwickshire, in November 1693 one of the four extraordinary lords of session, and May 2, 1696, was constituted high-chancellor of Scotland. In April 1697 he was created earl of Marchmont; the same year he was appointed one of the commissioners of the treasury and admiralty; and, in 1698, he was appointed lord-high-commissioner to the parliament which met in July of that year. In 1702 he represented King William as high-commissioner to the General Assembly, when the death of the king interrupted the proceedings. After the accession of Queen Anne he brought in a bill for securing the Protestant succession in the house fo Hanover, which was defeated by the prorogation of parliament, and he was soon after deprived of the great seal. He was, subsequently, one of the most influential promoters of the treaty of union. After a long life spend in the service of his country, he died at Berwick, August 1, 1724, in the 84th year of his age. Besides the Narrative of the expedition under the earl of Argyle, already mentioned, his correspondence has been published in the Marchmont Papers. He wrote also an Essay on Surnames in Collier’s Dictionary. His lady, daughter of Sir Thomas Kerr of Cavers, died in 1703. He wrote in her Bible a very affecting testimony to her virtues. He had a son, Alexander, who succeeded him. (See MARCHMONT, earl of).

HUME, PATRICK, a learned commentator on Milton, and supposed to have belonged to the Polwarth branch of the family of Home or Hume, lived about the close of the seventeenth century. The sixth edition of Paradise Lost, published by Tonson in 1695, is illustrated with Notes by him. In the fourth volume of Blackwood’s Magazine, page 658, number for March 1819, will be found a series of extracts from Hume’s Commentary, contrasted with the Notes of Mr. Callender of Craigforth, appended to the First Book of Paradise Lost, published by Foulis of Glasgow in 1750.

HUME, DAVID, a celebrated historian and philosopher, was born at Edinburgh, April 26, 1711, old style. He was the second son of Joseph Home of Ninewells, near Dunse, Berwickshire, and was the first member of the family who adopted the name of Hume. His father’s family was a branch of the earl of Home’s, but of reduced fortune. He lost his father in his infancy, and, along with a sister and elder brother, he was reared and educated under the care of his mother, the daughter of Sir David Falconer, Lord Newton, president of the court of session. He studied at the university of Edinburgh, and was destined for the law, but his strong passion for literature gave him an insuperable aversion to the legal profession; and, – as he informs us in the memoir called ‘My Own Life,’ which he wrote shortly before his death, and first published in 1777 by Mr. Strahan, to whom he left the manuscript, – while his family believed him to be poring over Voet and Vinnius, he was exclusively occupied with Cicero and Virgil. In 1734, at the persuasion of his friends, he went to Bristol, and entered the office of a respectable merchant in that city; but in a few months he discovered that commercial business was as irksome as the law, and, retiring to France, he resided for some time at Rheims, and afterwards lived for two years at La Fleche, in Anjou, quietly improving himself in literature, and subsisting frugally on his small fortune.

      In 1737 he went to London with two volumes of his ‘Treatise on Human Nature,’ which he had composed in his retirement. The work was published in 1738, but, as he himself remarks, it “fell dead-born from the press.” In 1742 he printed at Edinburgh two volumes of his ‘Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary,’ prepared while he resided at his brother’s house at Ninewells, which met with a more favourable reception. In 1745 he was invited to reside with the young marquis of Annandale, whose state of mind at that period rendered a guardian necessary. In this situation he remained for a year, and, on the death of Professor Cleghorn, he became a candidate for the vacant chair of moral philosophy in the university of Edinburgh, but failed in his application, on account of his known infidelity.

      In 1746 Mr. Hume accompanied General St. Clair as his secretary in an expedition avowedly against Canada, but which ended in an incursion on the French coast. In 1747 he attended the same officer in an embassy to the courts of Vienna and Turin, where he wore the military uniform, in the character of aide-de-camp to the general. His appearance at this time is thus described by Lord Charlemont, who met with him at Turin: “Nature, I believe, never formed any man more unlike his real character than David Hume. The powers of physiognomy were baffled by his countenance; neither could the most skilful in that science pretend to discover the smallest trace of the faculties of his mind, in the unmeaning features of his visage. His face was broad and fat, his mouth wide, and without any other expression than that of imbecility. His eyes vacant and spiritless; and the corpulence of his whole person was far better fitted to communicate the idea of a turtle-eating alderman than of a refined philosopher. His speech in English was rendered ridiculous by the broadest Scottish accent, and his French was, if possible, still more laughable; so that wisdom, most certainly, never disguised herself before in so uncouth a garb. His wearing a uniform added greatly to his natural awkwardness, for he wore it like a grocer of the train bands. St. Clair was a lieutenant-general, and was sent to the courts of Vienna and Turin as a military envoy, to see that their quota of troops was furnished by the Austrians and Piedmontese. It was, therefore, thought necessary, that his secretary should appear to be an officer; and Hume was accordingly disguised in scarlet.” (Hardy’s Life of Lord Charlemont, page 8.)

      Believing that the neglect of his ‘Treatise upon Human Nature’ proceeded more from the manner than the matter, he reconstructed the first part of it, and cause it to be published, while he resided at Turin, with the title of an ‘Inquiry concerning Human Understanding.’ It was, however, at the outset, equally unsuccessful with the treatise.

      On his return from the Continent in 1749, he retired to his brother’s house at Ninewells, where he resided for two years. In 1751 he repaired to London, where he published the second part of his Treatise remodelled, under the name of ‘Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals,’ which of all his writings he considered “incomparably the best.” The public, however, thought otherwise, and the work, on its appearance, was totally neglected. In 1752 he published his ‘Political Discourses,’ which, says the author, “was the only work of mine that was successful on its first publication.” In the same year he succeeded Ruddiman as librarian to the faculty of advocates at Edinburgh, an office which gave him the command of an extensive collection of books and MSS., and he now formed the plan of writing the History of England. He commenced with the History of the House of Stuart, and on the appearance, in 1754, of the first volume, it was received, to use his own words, “with one cry of reproach, disapprobation, and even of detestation.” All sects and parties “united,” he says, “in their rage against the man who had presumed to shed a generous tear for the fate of Charles I. And the earl of Strafford.” But his equally contemptuous mention of the opposing religious parties, and what Fox calls “his partiality to kings and princes,” may rather be considered as the true cause of this outcry. Some time afterwards he brought out at London his ‘Natural History of Religion,’ which was answered in a pamphlet written by Warburton, but attributed to Dr. Hurd. In 1756 he published the second volume of his History, embracing the interval from the death of Charles I. To the Revolution, which was more favourably received than the first had been. He now resolved to go back to an earlier period; and in 1759 he published his History of the House of Tudor, which excited nearly as much clamour against him as his first volume had done. His reputation, however, was now gradually increasing, and he completed his History by the publication of two additional volumes, in 1761. His History of England thenceforth became a standard work. Its statements and representations have, however, been ably examined and answered by writers belonging to all parties, and not only his impartiality but his accuracy has frequently with justice been called in question.

      In 1757 he had relinquished the office of librarian to the faculty of advocates, the salary of which at that time was only about £40 sterling, and by the interest of Lord Bute, he obtained a considerable pension from the Crown. In 1763 he attended the earl of Hertford on his embassy to Paris, where he was gratified by a most enthusiastic reception in the fashionable and literary circles of that capital. In the summer of 1765 Lord Hertford was recalled to be lord-lieutenant of Ireland, when Mr. Hume was appointed secretary to the embassy, and he officiated as charge d’affaires, until the arrival of the duke of Richmond about the end of the same year. In the beginning of 1766 he returned to England, accompanied by Jean Jacques Rousseau, to whom he behaved with a delicacy and generosity which that eccentric individual requited with his usual suspicion and ingratitude. He obtained for him from government a pension of £100 a-year, which Rousseau declined to receive, and when he quarrelled with Hume, the latter published the correspondence that had passed between them, with a few explanatory observations.

      In 1767 Mr. Hume was appointed under secretary of state under General Conway, which post he held until the resignation of that minister in 1769. Being now possessed of an income of a thousand per annum, he finally retired to Edinburgh, where he became the head of that brilliant circle of eminent literary men, who then adorned the Scottish metropolis. In the spring of 1775 he began to be afflicted with a disorder in his bowels, and for the benefit of his health he went to Bath, accompanied from Morpeth by his attached friends, John Home the author of Douglas, and Dr. Adam Smith, who had arrived there from London to be with him. On his return to Edinburgh he gave a farewell dinner to his literary friends on the 4th of July, 1776. After a tedious illness, sustained by him with singular cheerfulness and equanimity, he died at Edinburgh, August 26th, the same year, in the 65th year of his age. His portrait is subjoined.


[portrait of David Hume]

He bequeathed a certain sum for building his tomb, which was afterwards erected in the Calton burying-ground, Edinburgh.

      Regarding the spelling of his surname he had a good-humoured controversy with John Home, the author of the tragedy of Douglas, and on one occasion he proposed to the latter that they should cast lots to see which name should be adopted by them both. “Nay, Mr. Philosopher,” said the dramatist, “that is a most extraordinary proposal indeed; for if you lose, you take your own name; and if I lose, I take another man’s name.” The historian professed to have found authority for Hume instead of Home in the inscription on an old tombstone, and in some other memorials of past times. His own brother, Mr. Home of Ninewells, retained the original spelling of the name. Another point of difference between the dramatist and himself was as to port or claret being the better liquor. The historian preferred port, and the dramatist advocated claret as the beverage of the old Scottish gentleman, previous to the Union, before either of them was taxed. In reference to these two points of dispute the historian, in a codicil to his will, written with his own hand, thus expresses himself: “I leave to my friend John Home of Kilduff, ten dozen of my old claret, at his choice, and one single bottle of that other liquor, called port. I also leave to him six dozen of port, provided that he attests, under his hand, signed John Hume, that he has himself alone finished that bottle at two sittings. By this concession he will at once terminate the only two differences that ever arose between us concerning temporal matters.” This writing is preserved, but not entered on record. It is dated 7th August 1776, eighteen days before his death. His brother died November 14, 1786. The subject of the following memoir was his second son.

      David Hume’s works are:

      Treatise of Human Nature; being an Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects; with an Appendix, wherein several passages of the foregoing Treatise are illustrated and explained. London, 1739, 1740, 3 vols. 8vo.

      Essays, Moral and Political. Edin. 1741, 12mo.

      Inquiry concerning Human Understanding.

      Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals. Lond. 1751, 12mo. Edin. 1752, 12mo.

      Political Discourses. Edin. 1752, 8vo. 3d edition, with additions and corrections. Lond. 1754, 12mo.

      The History of Great Britain. Vol. i, containing the Reigns of James I. and Charles I. Lond. 1755, 4to. Vol. ii, containing the Commonwealth, and the Reigns of Charles II and James II. Lond. 1756-7, 2 vols. 4to.

      The History of England, under the House of Tudor; comprehending the Reigns of Henry VII., Henry VIII., Edward VI., Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth. Lond. 1759, 2 vols. 4to.

      The History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Accession of Henry VII. Lond. 1761-2, 2 vols, 4to.

      The History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688. A new edition, corrected. To which is added, a Complete Index. Dublin, 1775, 8vols. 8vo. Other editions. With the Author’s last corrections and improvements, and a short Account of his Life, written by himself. Lond. 1778, and 1786, 8 vols. 8vo.

      Two New Essays: 1st, Of the Jealousy of Trade; 2d, Of the Coalition of Politics. Lond. 1760.

      Essays and Treatises on several Subjects. Vol. I, containing Essays Moral, Political, and Literary. Lond. 1768, 4to. Vol. ii, containing an Inquiry concerning Human Understanding; an Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals; and the Natural History of Religion. Lond. 1768, 4to. Lond. 1777, 2 vols, 8vo. Lond. 1788, 2 vols, 8vo.

      Dialogues concerning Natural Religion. Edin. and Lond. 1779, 8vo.

      Essays on Suicide, and the Immortality of the Soul, ascribed to the late David Hume, Esq. Lond. 1783, 12mo.

      Life, written by himself; published by Adam Smith. London, 1777, 8vo.

HUME, DAVID, an eminent writer on the criminal jurisprudence of Scotland, the second surviving son of John Home, Esq. of Ninewells, the brother of David Hume the historian, by his wife Agnes, daughter of Robert Carre, Esq. of Cavers, Roxburghshire, was born in 1756. He studied for the bar, and in 1779 passed advocate. In 1784 he was appointed sheriff of Berwickshire, and in 1786 professor of Scots Law in the university of Edinburgh. Sir Walter Scott, when studying for the bar, attended his classes. He copied over his lectures twice with his own hand from notes taken in the class, and he describes Mr. Hume, as a lecturer, as “neither wandering into fanciful and abstruse disquisitions which are the more proper subject of the antiquary, nor satisfied with presenting to his pupils a dry and undigested detail of the laws in their present state, but combining the past state of our legal enactments with the present, and tracing clearly and judiciously the changes which took place, and the causes which led to them.” In 1793, he became sheriff of Linlithgowshire; in 1811 a principal clerk of the court of session, and in 1822 one of the barons of Exchequer in Scotland, which latter office he held till 1834, when he retired on the statutory allowance. The court of Exchequer has been merged in the court of session since 1837. His great work on the criminal law of Scotland has long been considered the text book in that department of jurisprudence, and is constantly referred to as authority both by the bench and the bar. It was published in 1797 in two volumes quarto, under the title of ‘Commentaries on the Law of Scotland, respecting the Description and Punishment of Crimes.’ Baron Hume died at Edinburgh, August 30, 1838. He left in the hands of the secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh a valuable collection of manuscripts, and letters belonging or relating to his celebrated uncle, the greater part of which were published in a Life of the historian, by John Hill Burton, Esq. advocate, Edinburgh, 1846, 2 vols. 8vo.

      Baron Hume’s contributions to the Mirror and Lounger were published in Alexander Chalmers’ edition of the British Essayists (1802), and will be found scattered here and there in vols. 33 to 40. Not many in number, nowadays they would be considered but of average merit.

HUME, JOSEPH, an eminent financial reformer and politician, was born in Montrose, Forfarshire, in January, 1777. A full length statue of him was erected to his memory in his native town in September 1859. His father was the master of a coasting vessel trading from that port, and, after his death, his mother, who was early left a widow, with a large family, kept a little stall in the marketplace, for the sale of brown ware, cheap delph, and other articles of “crockery,” as such goods are called in Scotland. Joseph was a younger son. His son, Mr. Joseph Burnley Hume, in a memorial of filial piety, written after his father’s death, and dated at his grave, says of him:

            “Benevolent himself, in quenchless hope the earl he trod,
            His being one continued act of thanksgiving to God!
            And thus a long charmed life he lived, that scarce knew check or fall,
            Successful as but few can be, and happy beyond all,
            Nor will I doubt that e’en on earth, by many a grateful tongue,
            At fitting times and seasons shall his meed of praise be sung!
            For to his simple soul was given a sturdy common sense
            That seized what finer feelings missed, with striking prescience.
            To him, by intuition, came high thoughts and bold and new;
            And all unawed by custom he embraced the right and true;
            And from afar, alone, despite a gibing, roaring throng,
            He urged reforms and claimed redress of many a freeman’s wrong.”

      He acquired the rudiments of education, with a little Latin, in his native town. About the age of thirteen he was placed apprentice to a surgeon-apothecary there, and remained with him for three years. He afterwards studied medicine, first at Aberdeen, and then at Edinburgh, and subsequently “walked the hospitals” in London. In 1796 he was admitted a member of the College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, and at the commencement of the following year he was appointed assistant surgeon in the marine service of the East India Company. It is stated that, on his second voyage out, when the vessel was crammed with passengers of all classes, conditions, and professions, on the accidental death of the purser, he volunteered to supply his place during the remainder of the voyage, and fulfilled the duties so much to the satisfaction of all on board that, on the arrival of the vessel in Calcutta, the captain, officers, and passengers gave him a public testimonial in acknowledgment of his gratuitous services.

      He soon gained patrons in India. Observing that few of the Company’s servants acquired the native languages, he lost no time in studying them, and soon made himself master of the Hindostanee and Persian. He also studied the religions of the East, and the superstitions of that vast and mixed Asiatic population under our sway, a knowledge of whose succession of creeds, moulded into so many sects, is so essential for the proper rule of the millions of India.

      The authorities early recognised in young Hume a valuable and laborious servant. In 1802-3, on the eve of Lord Lake’s Mahratta war, much consternation at the seat of government occurred. On a discovery that the gunpowder in store was useless from damp, Mr. Hume’s knowledge of chemistry came fortunately in aid of bad administration. He undertook the restoration of this all-important munition of war, and he succeeded. He joined the army in Bundelcund in 1801, as surgeon of the 18th native regiment, and was almost immediately selected by Major-general Powell as the interpreter to the commander-in-chief. Besides continuing his medical duties, he filled successively important posts in the offices of paymaster and postmaster of the forces, in the prize-agencies, and the commissariat. Not only did he gain high reputation by these multifarious civil employments, but he realized large emoluments, and was publicly thanked by Lord Lake for his efficiency.

      At the termination of the war in 1807, Mr. Hume returned to the Presidency, and having amassed a fortune of about £40,000, sufficient to justify his retirement from his profession, he resigned his civil employments, and arrived in England in 1808. It was his first intention to settle in the immediate neighbourhood of his native town, but being disappointed in his views of purchasing one of two estates in that vicinity, then in the market, he turned his attention to the active pursuit of mental improvement and the acquirement of practical knowledge. In 1809 he made a tour of the United Kingdom, visiting all the principal ports and manufacturing towns of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the greater portion of the years 1810 and 1811 he devoted to tours on the Continent, extending his travels to Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Greece, Egypt, the Ionian Isles, and the shores of the Mediterranean.

      In 1812 he published an English translation, in blank verse, of Dante’s “Inferno,” 8vo. In January of the same year, on the death of Sir John Lowther Johnstone, Bart., the patron of the borough and one of its members, Mr. Hume was elected, under the old unreformed system, M.P. for Weymouth, and entered the House of Commons as a tory, taking his seat on the Treasury bench, as a supporter of the Perceval administration. The deceased baronet’s solicitor, who was one of his trustees, introduced him to the constituency for a valuable consideration. In parliament he soon distinguished himself, particularly by his opposition to the Frame-work Knitters’ Bill, which was a formidable attempt to coerce the masters of Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire to the orders of the workmen, on which occasion he received the thanks of the manufacturers.

      On the dissolution of parliament the following autumn, the patrons of the borough refused him re-election, although he had bargained for a second return. The matter was submitted to arbitration, when he obtained a portion of the money back, for the breach of contract.

      He did not again obtain a seat in parliament till 1818, when he was returned for the Aberdeen burghs. In the interval he was not idle. He was an active member of the Central Committee of the Lancastrian school system, and became deeply interested in the promotion of the moral and intellectual interests of the working classes, and in the improvement of their physical condition. He also published a pamphlet advocating the establishment of savings’ banks. He was very ambitious of a seat in the directorship of the East India Company, and although invariably unsuccessful in his efforts for election, he was indefatigable, in the meetings of the proprietary, in the constant exposure of Indian abuses, and in asserting the right of free trade to India, when the charter of the East India Company of 1793 was expiring. He was the first man in London who had the courage to maintain that the trade to India ought to be free to the British merchants, and that the opening of the trade would be advantageous to the Company and the nation. In a speech which he made at the India house in 1813, he foretold that, instead of the exports and imports between British India and Great Britain being limited to 15 or 18,000 tons, they would, by the opening of the trade, increase to 100,000 tons in a few years. From papers laid before parliament it appears that in 1817, four years after even the conditional and restricted opening of the trade, the free tonnage to India had actually exceeded the latter amount. The entire opening of the trade did not take place till the 22d April 1834.

      During his canvass for a seat in the direction at the India house, he became acquainted with the lady destined to be his wife. He had obtained an introduction to a proprietor who had four votes, Mr. Burnley of Guildford Street, London, a gentleman of great influence, and his forcible representation of Indian abuses, and of the advantages that would accrue to the stockholders by his being elected a director, established him in the good graces of the old gentleman, and, what was of more value, in those of his daughter, whom he afterwards married.

      In the parliament which met on the 14th January 1819, Mr. Hume represented the Aberdeen district of burghs, comprehending, besides that city, his native town of Montrose, with Brechin, Bervie, and Arbroath. The whole electors of these then self-elect burghs, members of close corporations, did not at that time exceed a hundred persons. When formerly in parliament, Mr. Hume, fresh from India, and accustomed to regard the existing tory administration as the perfection of government, gave it his strenuous support. But his reforming and progressive tendencies had since then detached him from the ranks of the tories, and aided by the first Lord Panmure and by the liberal party of the north of Scotland, in a desperate struggle he beat the boroughmongers, and obtained his return. This was the stepping-stone to his permanent and independent position in the House of Commons.

      In 1830, he was elected, without opposition, member for the county of Middlesex, for which he continued to sit till the dissolution of parliament in 1837. In July of that year, Colonel Wood defeated him by a small majority. In the same month, on the nomination of Mr. Daniel O’Connell, whose influence was unbounded in Ireland, he was returned for Kilkenny. At the general election of 1841, Mr. Hume was a candidate for Leeds, but without success. In the following year, on the retirement of Mr. Chalmers of Auldbar from Montrose, he was elected for that burgh, and he continued to represent his native town till his death.

      During the long period he was in parliament, he was one of the most laborious and indefatigable members of the house. His speeches alone, during thirty-seven years, occupy volumes of ‘Hansard’s Debates.’ He was a strenuous and consistent reformer of abuses, an enemy of monopoly, and the most determined and vigilant advocate of economy and retrenchment that ever sat in the legislature. As a financial reformer, indeed, he never had an equal. He proposed sweeping and repeated plans of reform of the army, the navy, and the ordnance, and of almost every civil department, of the established churches and ecclesiastical courts, of the laws, civil and criminal, of the system of public accounts, of general taxation, duties, and customs. It was entirely owing to Mr. Hume’s exertions that the public accounts came to be presented in an intelligible form, and that the sinking fund system was abandoned. He early advocated the abolition of flogging in the army, naval impressment, and imprisonment for debt. He carried the repeal of the old combination laws, the prohibition of the export of machinery, and the act which prevented workmen from leaving the country. He gave his strenuous aid to the Catholic emancipation act of 1829, the repeal of the test and corporation acts, and the Reform Bill of 1832. In the latter year, when the ministry of Earl Grey, who passed that act, was in power, he declared in the House of Commons that he “would vote black to be white rather than risk the existence of the ministry.” For this he was exposed to much abuse at the time. He was a member of every liberal and radical club and association that was then in active operation.

      Notwithstanding his stern denunciations of the waste of the public money, he gave his warm and hearty support to every proposal for voting the supplies in the cause of education, or to promote the recreation of the people. In the public service he turned his house into an office, and at times, at his own expense, engaged several clerks to assist him in his labours. He was never without a secretary. He took an active part in every public institution which he thought might be useful to the country, and there was scarcely a society for the improvement of the condition of the people but he subscribed to, and paid his subscriptions. Among the last “motions” placed by him on the notice book of the House of Commons was one for more widely extending the benefits of the British Museum, and other exhibitions of science and art. He served on more committees of the House than any other member. In the Select Committee on the Military, Ordnance, and Commissariat Expenditure, he astonished his colleagues by the intelligence and acuteness of his examination of witnesses. On some expression of surprise in the committee, he observed, “You forget I was once commissary general to an army of 12,000 men in India!” Mr. Hume‘s political character was, on one occasion, thus summed up on the hustings of Middlesex by Lord Robert Grosvenor, “He is one of the fairest men in the House of Commons. He has passed the whole of a long life in serving the people, without fee or reward.”

      Until the close of the session of 1854 his natural force seemed unimpaired. He died at his seat of Burnley Hall, Norfolk, on 20th February 1855, aged 78. His last words were: “Thank God, I have neither ache nor pain, nor any kind of uneasiness: – only the machine is wearing out.” He was buried at Kensal Green cemetery. At the time of his death, he was a deputy lieutenant of Middlesex, a magistrate of Westminster and the counties of Middlesex and Norfolk, a vice-president of the Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, and a member of the board of Agriculture. He was also a fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Asiatic Society. As one of the Corresponding board of directors of the Society for the Propagation of Christianity in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and as governor of the Scottish Corporation in London, he always evinced a lively interest in what concerned his native country.


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