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by David Hume

Hume's Essays
George Wythe bookplate.jpg
Title not held by The Wolf Law Library
at the College of William & Mary.
Author David Hume
Published :
Edition Precise edition unknown.
Volumes volume set

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as "Hume’s essays. 1st. vol. 8vo." This was one of the titles kept by Jefferson. He may have later sold it to the Library of Congress in 1815, but the volume no longer exists to verify Wythe's prior ownership. George Wythe's Library[1] on LibraryThing indicates "Precise edition unknown." The Brown Bibliography[2] lists the first edition (1741/42) published in Edinburgh while admitting that we do not know which edition Wythe owned. It seems likely that Wythe would have had an earlier edition of the title rather than a later one. His good friend and Scotsman, William Small,[3] joined the William & Mary faculty in 1758. Small, Wythe, Thomas Jefferson and Governor Francis Fauquier must surely have discussed Hume's Essays among their many dinner conversations before Small's return to Scotland in 1762.[4] With this evidence, only the Edinburgh first edition and the 1753 duodecimo London edition seem plausible entries in Wythe's library.

As of yet, the Wolf Law Library has been unable to procure a copy of Essays.

See also


  1. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe" accessed on February 3, 2015.
  2. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012, rev. May, 2014) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  3. Lyon Gardiner Tyler, "George Wythe, 1726-1806," in Great American Lawyers, ed. William Draper Lewis (Philadelphia, PA: John C. Winston, 1907): 67.
  4. Thomas Jefferson Randolph, ed., Memoir, Correspondence and Miscellanies from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson (Charlottesville, VA: F. Carr, 1829), 1:2.