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Significant Scots
Patrick Hume


HUME, PATRICK, is noticed by various writers as the name of an individual who adorned the literature of his country at the close of the seventeenth century. Who or what he was, is not known: it is only probable, from the regularity with which certain first names occur in genealogies in connexion with surnames, that he belonged to the Polwarth branch of the family of Home, or Hume, as in that branch there were six or seven successive barons bearing the name of Patrick. This learned man is only known to have written the notes connected with the sixth edition of Miltonís Paradise Lost, which was published in folio by Tonson in 1695, and is one of the most elegant productions of the British press that have ever appeared. It has been a matter of just surprise to several writers of Scottish biography, that absolutely nothing should have been handed down respecting this person, seeing that his notes evince a high degree of taste, and most extensive erudition, and are in fact the model of almost all commentaries subsequent to his time. "His notes," says an anonymous writer, "are always curious; his observations on some of the finer passages of the poet, show a mind deeply smit with an admiration for the sublime genius of their author; and there is often a masterly nervousness in his style, which is very remarkable for this age." But the ignorance of subsequent ages respecting the learned commentator is sufficiently accounted for by the way in which his name appears on the title-page, being simply in initials, and by the indifference of the age to literary history. It would appear that the commentary, learned and admirable as it is, speedily fell out of public notice, as in 1750, the Messrs Foulis of Glasgow published the first book of the Paradise Lost, with notes by Mr Callender of Craigforth, which are shown to be, to a great extent, borrowed from the work of Hume, without the most distant hint of acknowledgment.

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