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Essays, Moral, Political, And Literary

David Hume

Publication Year: 2012

This edition contains the thirty-nine essays included in Essays, Moral, and Literary, that made up Volume I of the 1777 posthumous Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects. It also includes ten essays that were withdrawn or left unpublished by Hume for various reasons. The two most important were deemed too controversial for the religious climate of his time.

This revised edition reflects changes based on further comparisons with eighteenth-century texts and an extensive reworking of the index.

Eugene F. Miller was Professor of Political Science at the University of Georgia from 1967 until his retirement in 2003.

Published by: Liberty Fund

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-6

CONTENTS

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pp. vii-ix

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FOREWORD

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pp. xi-xviii

DAVID HUME'S greatness was recognized in his own time, as it is today, but the writings that made Hume famous are not, by and large, the same ones that support his reputation now. Leaving aside his Enquiries,1 which were widely read then as...

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EDITOR'S NOTE

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pp. xix-xxvii

THIS NEW EDITION of Hume's Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary is based on the edition of 1777 . The 1777 edition is the copy-text of choice, for, while it appeared posthumously, it contains Hume's latest corrections. It was the text used by...

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Note to the Revised Edition

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pp. xxviii-30

THIS VOLUME has been revised throughout for this new printing. First, the text of Hume's Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary has been rechecked carefully, using photocopies supplied by the Huntington Library of both the 1772 edition and the 1777 edition. A fair...

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MY OWN LIFE

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pp. xxxi-xli

IT is difficult for a man to speak long of himself without vanity; therefore, I shall be short. It may be thought an instance of vanity that I pretend at all to write my life; but this Narrative shall contain little more than the History of my...

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LETTER FROM ADAM SMITH, LL.D. TO WILLIAM STRAHAN, ESQ

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pp. xliii-xlix

Though, in his own judgment, his disease was mortal and incurable, yet he allowed himself to be prevailed upon, by the entreaty of his friends, to try what might be the effects of a long journey. A few days before he set out, he wrote that...

PART I

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pp. 1-54

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ESSAY I

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pp. 3-8

SOME People are subject to a certain delicacy of passion,1 which makes them extremely sensible to all the accidents of life, and gives them a lively joy upon every prosperous event, as well as a piercing grief, when they meet with...

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ESSAY II

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pp. 9-13

NOTHING is more apt to surprize a foreigner, than the extreme liberty, which we enjoy in this country, of communicating whatever we please to the public, and of openly censuring every measure, entered into by the king or...

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ESSAY III

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pp. 14-31

IT is a question with several, whether there be any essential difference between one form of government and another? and, whether every form may not become good or bad, according as it is well or ill administered?1 Were it once admitted,..

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ESSAY IV

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pp. 32-36

NOTHING appears more surprizing to those, who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and the implicit submission, with which men resign their own sentiments and...

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ESSAY V

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pp. 37-41

MAN, born in a family, is compelled to maintain society, from necessity, from natural inclination, and from habit. The same creature, in his farther progress, is engaged to establish political society, in order to administer justice; without...

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ESSAY VI

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pp. 42-46

POLITICAL writers have established it as a maxim, that, in contriving any system of government, and fixing the several checks and controuls of the constitution, every man ought to be supposed a knave, and to have no other end, in all...

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ESSAY VII

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pp. 47-53

IT affords a violent prejudice against almost every science, that no prudent man, however sure of his principles, dares prophesy concerning any event, or foretel the remote consequences of things. A physician will not venture to pronounce...

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ESSAY VIII

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pp. 54-63

OF all men, that distinguish themselves by memorable atchievements, the first place of honour seems due to LEGISLATORS and founders of states, who transmit a system of laws and institutions to secure the peace, happiness, and...

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ESSAY IX

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pp. 64-72

WERE the BRITISH government proposed as a subject of speculation, one would immediately perceive in it a source of division and party, which it would be almost impossible for it, under any administration, to avoid. The just balance...

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ESSAY X

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pp. 73-79

These two species of false religion, though both pernicious, are yet of a very different, and even of a contrary nature. The mind of man is subject to ce rtain unaccountable terrors and apprehe nsions, proceeding e ither from the unhappy...

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ESSAY XI

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pp. 80-86

THERE are certain sects, which secretly form themselves in the learned world, as well as factions in the political; and though sometimes they come not to an open rupture, they give a different turn to the ways of thinking of those who have...

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ESSAY XII

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pp. 87-96

THOSE who employ their pens on political subjects, free from party-rage, and party-prejudices, cultivate a science, which, of all others, contributes most to public utility, and even to the private satisfaction of those who addict...

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ESSAY XIII

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pp. 97-110

THOSE, who consider the periods and revolutions of human kind, as represented in history, are entertained with a spectacle full of pleasure and variety, and see, with surprize, the manners, customs, a nd opinions of the same species susceptible...

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ESSAY XIV

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pp. 111-137

NOTHING requires greater nicety,o in our enquiries concerning human affairs, than to distinguish exactly what is owing to chance, and what proceeds from causes; nor is there any subject, in which an author is more liable to deceive...

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ESSAY XV

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pp. 138-145

IT is a great mortification to the vanity of man, that his utmost art and industry can never equal the meanest of nature's productions, either for beauty or value. Art is only the under-workman, and is employed to give a few strokes of...

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ESSAY XVI

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pp. 146-154

THERE is this obvious and material difference in the conduct of nature, with regard to man and other animals, that, having endowed the former with a sublime celestial spirit, and having given him an affinity with superior beings,...

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ESSAY XVII

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pp. 155-158

TO some philosophers it appears matter of surprize, that all mankind, possessing the same nature, and being endowed with the same faculties, should yet differ so widely in their pursuits and inclinations, and that one should utterly...

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ESSAY XVIII

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pp. 159-180

I HAVE long entertained a suspicion, with regard to the decisions of philosophers upon all subjects, and found in myself a greater inclination to dispute, than assent to their conclusions. There is one mistake, to which they seem liable, almost...

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ESSAY XIX

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pp. 181-190

AS marriage is an engagement entered into by mutual consent, and has for its end the propagation of the species, it is evident, that it must be susceptible of all the variety of conditions, which consent establishes, provided they be not...

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ESSAY XX

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pp. 191-196

Sentiments, which are merely natural, affect not the mind with any pleasure, and seem not worthy of our attention. The pleasantries of a waterman, the observations of a peasant, the ribaldry of a porter or hackney coachman, all of these are...

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ESSAY XXI

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pp. 197-215

THE vulgar are apt to carry all national characters to extremes; and having once established it as a principle, that any people are knavish, or cowardly, or ignorant, they will admit of no exception, but comprehend every individual under...

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ESSAY XXII

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pp. 216-225

IT seems an unaccountable pleasure, which the spectators of a well-written tragedy receive from sorrow , terror, anxiety, and other passions, that are in themselves disagreeable and uneasy. The more they are touched and affected, the more are...

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ESSAY XXIII

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pp. 226-249

THE great variety of Taste, as well as of opinion, which prevails in the world, is too obvious not to have fallen under every one's observation.1 Men of the most confined knowledge are able to remarko a difference of taste in the...

PART II

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pp. 251-304

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ESSAY I

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pp. 253-267

THE greater part of mankind may be divided into two classes; that of shallow thinkers, who fall short of the truth; and that of abstruse thinkers, who go beyond it. The latter class are by far the most rare: and I may add, by far the...

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ESSAY II

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pp. 268-280

LUXURY is a word of an uncertain signification, and may be taken in a good as well as in a bad sense. In general, it means great refinement in the gratification of the senses; and any degree of it may be innocent or blameable, according to...

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ESSAY III

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pp. 281-294

MONEY is not, properly speaking, one of the subjects of commerce; but only the instrument which men have agreed upon to facilitate the exchange of one commodity for another. It is none of the wheels of trade: It is the oil which...

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ESSAY IV

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pp. 295-307

NOTHING is esteemed a more certain sign of the flourishing condition of any nation than the lowness of interest: And with reason; though I believe the cause is somewhat different from what is commonly apprehended. Lowness...

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ESSAY V

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pp. 308-326

IT is very usual, in nations ignorant of the nature of commerce, to prohibit the exportation of commodities, and to preserve among themselves whatever they think valuable and useful. They do not consider, that, in this prohibition, they act...

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ESSAY VI

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pp. 327-331

HAVING endeavoured to remove one species of ill-founded jealousy, which is so prevalent among commercial nations, it may not be amiss to mention another, which seems equally groundless.1 Nothing is more usual, among states...

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ESSAY VII

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pp. 332-341

IT is a question whether the idea of the balance of power be owing entirely to modern policy, or whether the phrase only has been invented in these later ages? It is certain, that XENOPHON,1 in his Institution of CYRUS, represents the combination...

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ESSAY VIII

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pp. 342-348

THERE is a prevailing maxim, among some reasoners, that every new tax creates a new ability in the subject to bear it, and that each encrease of public burdens encreases proportionably the industry of the people. This maxim is of such a nature as is most...

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ESSAY IX

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pp. 349-365

IT appears to have been the common practice of antiquity, to make provision, during peace, for the necessities of war, and to hoard up treasures before-hand, as the instruments either of conquest or defence; without trusting to extraordinary...

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ESSAY X

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pp. 366-376

I SHALL observe three remarkable customs in three celebrated governments; and shall conclude from the whole, that all general maxims in politics ought to be established with great caution; and that irregular and extraordinary appearances...

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ESSAY XI

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pp. 377-464

THERE is very little ground, either from reason or observation, to conclude the world eternal or incorruptible. The continual and rapid motion of matter, the violent revolutions with which every part is agitated, the changes remarked...

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ESSAY XII

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pp. 465-487

AS no party, in the present age, can well support itself, without a philosophical or speculative system of principles, annexed to its political or practical one; we accordingly find, that each of the factions, into which this nation is divided...

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ESSAY XIII

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pp. 488-492

IN the former essay, we endeavoured to refute the speculative systems of politics advanced in this nation; as well the religious system of the one party, as the philosophical of the other. We come now to examine the practical consequences,...

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ESSAY XIV

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pp. 493-501

TO abolish all distinctions of party may not be practicable, perhaps not desirable, in a free government. The only dangerous parties are such as entertain opposite views with regard to the essentials of government, the succession of the...

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ESSAY XV

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pp. 502-511

I SUPPOSE, that a member of parliament, in the reign of King WILLIAM or Queen ANNE, while the establishment of the Protestant Succession was yet uncertain, were deliberating concerning the party he would chuse in that important question,...

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ESSAY XVI

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pp. 512-529

IT is not with forms of government, as with other artificial contrivances; where an old engine may be rejected, if we can discover another more accurate and commodious, or where trials may safely be made, even though the success be doubtful...

ESSAYS WITHDRAWN AND UNPUBLISHED

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pp. 531-584

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ESSAY I

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pp. 533-537

THE elegant Part of Mankind, who are not immers'd in the animal Life, but employ themselves in the Operations of the Mind, may be divided into the learned and conversible. The Learned are such as have chosen for their Portion the...

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ESSAY II

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pp. 538-544

THERE is a Set of Men lately sprung up amongst us, who endeavour to distinguish themselves by ridiculing every Thing, that has hitherto appear'd sacred and venerable in the Eyes of Mankind. Reason, Sobriety, Honour, Friendship,...

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ESSAY III

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pp. 545-551

THE Moral of the following Fable will easily discover itself, without my explaining it. One Rivulet meeting another, with whom he had been long united in strictest Amity, with noisy Haughtiness and Disdain thus bespoke him, "What,...

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ESSAY IV

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pp. 552-556

I AM of opinion, That the common complaints against Providence are ill-grounded, and that the good or bad qualities of men are the causes of their good or bad fortune, more than what is generally imagined. There are, no doubt, instances to...

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ESSAY V

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pp. 557-562

I KNOW not whence it proceeds, that women are so apt to take amiss every thing which is said in disparagement of the married state; and always consider a satyro upon matrimony as a satyr upon themselves. Do they mean, that they are the...

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ESSAY VI

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pp. 563-568

THERE is nothing which I would recommend more earnestly to my female readers than the study of history, as an occupation, of all others, the best suited both to their sex and education, much more instructive than their ordinary...

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ESSAY VII

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pp. 569-573

'TIS easy to observe, that comic writers exaggerate every character, and draw their fop, or coward with stronger features than are any where to be met with in nature. This moral kind of painting for the stage has been often compared...

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ESSAY VIII

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pp. 574-576

THERE never was a man, whose actions and character have been more earnestly and openly canvassed, than those of the present minister, who, having governed a learned and free nation for so long a time, amidst such mighty opposition, may...

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ESSAY IX

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pp. 577-589

ONE considerable advantage, that arises from philosophy, consists in the sovereign antidote, which it affords to superstition and false religion. All other remedies against that pestilent distemper are vain, or, at least, uncertain. Plain...

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ESSAY X

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pp. 590-598

BY the mere light of reason it seems difficult to prove the Immortality of the Soul. The arguments for it are commonly derived either from metaphysical topics, or moral or physical. But in reality, it is the gospel, and the gospel alone,...

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VARIANT READINGS

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pp. 599-602

HUME revised his essays continually throughout his lifetime, and there are many significant differences between earlier editions of the essays and the 1777 edition, which was corrected by Hume shortly before his death. The...

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VARIANT READINGS TO PART I

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pp. 603-630

How far delicacy of taste, and that of passion, are connected together in the original frame of the mind, it is hard to determine. To me there appears a very considerable connexion between them. For we may observe that women, who have more delicate passions than...

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VARIANT READINGS TO PART II

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pp. 631-647

Prodigality is not to be confounded with a refinement in the arts. It even appears, that that vice is much less frequent in the cultivated ages. Industry and gain beget this frugality, among the lower and middle ranks of men; and in all the busy professions. Men of high...

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VARIANT READINGS TO ESSAYS WITHDRAWN AND UNPUBLISHED

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pp. 648-700

Editions A and B, 1741-2, insert the following paragraph: I was lately lamenting to a Friend of mine, who loves a Conceit, That popular Applause should be bestowed with so little Judgment, and that so many empty forward Coxcombs should rise up to a Figure in...

GLOSSARY

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pp. 649-659

INDEX

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pp. 661-683


E-ISBN-13: 9781614878100
E-ISBN-10: 1614878102
Print-ISBN-13: 9780865970564

Page Count: 736
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: Revised

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Subject Headings

  • Ethics, Modern -- 18th century.
  • Social ethics -- Early works to 1800.
  • Political science -- Early works to 1800.
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