Hume's monumental 3,000-plus page masterpiece ranks among the greatest works of history and has been an essential component of sophisticated libraries for centuries. Hume is renowned as both a historian and philosopher. This essential classic covers 1,800 years of English history.
Queen’s popularity — Re-establishment of the protestant religion — A parliament — Peace with France — Disgust between the queen and Mary queen of Scots — Affairs of Scotland — Reformation in Scotland — Civil wars in Scotland — Interposal of the queen in the affairs of Scotland — Settlement of Scotland — French affairs — Arrival of Mary in Scotland — Bigotry of the Scotch Reformers — Wise government of Elizabeth
IN A NATION so divided as the English, it could scarcely be expected, that the death of one sovereign, and the accession of another, who was generally believed to have embraced opposite principles to those which prevailed, could be the object of universal satisfaction: Yet so much were men displeased with the present conduct of affairs, and such apprehensions were entertained of futurity, that the people, overlooking their theological disputes, expressed a general and unfeigned joy that the scepter had passed into the hand of Elizabeth. That princess had discovered great prudence in her conduct during the reign of her sister; and as men were sensible of the imminent danger, to which she was every moment exposed, compassion towards her situation, and concern for her safety, had rendered her, to an uncommon degree, the favourite of the nation. A parliament had been assembled a few days before Mary’s death; and when Heathe, archbishop of York, then chancellor, notified to them that event, scarcely an interval of regret appeared; and the two houses immediately resounded with the joyful acclamations of “God save queen Elizabeth: Long and happily may she reign.” The people, less actuated by faction, and less influenced by private views, expressed a joy still more general and hearty on her proclamation; and the auspicious commencement of this reign prognosticated that felicity and glory, which, during its whole course, so uniformly attended it.
The most important philosopher ever to write in English, David Hume (1711-1776) — the last of the great triumvirate of “British empiricists” — was also well-known in his own time as an historian and essayist. A master stylist in any genre, Hume's major philosophical works — A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-1740), the Enquiries concerning Human Understanding (1748) and concerning the Principles of Morals (1751), as well as the posthumously published Dialogues concerning Natural Religion (1779) — remain widely and deeply influential. Although many of Hume's contemporaries denounced his writings as works of scepticism and atheism, his influence is evident in the moral philosophy and economic writings of his close friend Adam Smith. Hume also awakened Immanuel Kant from his “dogmatic slumbers” and “caused the scales to fall” from Jeremy Bentham's eyes. Charles Darwin counted Hume as a central influence, as did “Darwin's bulldog,” Thomas Henry Huxley. The diverse directions in which these writers took what they gleaned from reading Hume reflect not only the richness of their sources but also the wide range of his empiricism. Today, philosophers recognize Hume as a precursor of contemporary cognitive science, as well as one of the most thoroughgoing exponents of philosophical naturalism.