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T is difficult for a man to speak long of himself without vanity; therefore I fhall be short. It may be thought an instance of vanity that I pretend at all to write my life; but this Narrative fhall contain little more than the Hiftory of my Writings; as, indeed, almost all my life has been spent in literary pursuits and occupations. The firft fuccefs of moft of my writings was not fuch as to be an object of vanity.

I was born the 26th of April 1711, old ftyle, at Edinburgh. I was of a good family, both by father and mother: My father's family is a branch of the Earl of Home's, or Hume's; and my ancestors had been proprietors of the estate which my brother poffeffes for feveral generations. My mother was daughter of Sir David Falconer, Prefident of the College of Juftice: The title of Lord Halkerton came by fucceffion to her brother.

My family, however, was not rich, and being myself a younger brother, my patrimony, according to the mode of my country, was of course very flender.

My father, who paffed for a man of parts, died when I was an infant, leaving me, with an elder brother and a fifter, under the care of our mother, a woman of fingular merit, who, though young and handsome, devoted herself entirely to the rearing and educating of her children. I paffed through the ordinary courfe of education with fuccefs, and was feized very early with a paffion for literature, which has been the ruling paffion of my life, and the great fource of my enjoyments. My ftudious difpofition, my sobriety, and my industry, gave my family a notion that the law was a proper profeffion for me; but I found an unfurmountable averfion to every thing but the purfuits of philosophy and general learning; and while they fancied I was poring upon Voet and Vinnius, Cicero and Virgil were the authors which I was fecretly devouring.

My very flender fortune, however, being unfuitable to this plan of life, and my health being a little broken by my ardent application, I was tempted, or rather forced, to make a very feeble trial for entering into a more active scene of life. In 1734 I went to Bristol, with fome recommendations to eminent merchants; but in a few months found that scene totally unfuitable to me. I went over to France, with a view of profecuting my ftudies in a country retreat; and I there laid that plan of life which I have fteadily and fuccessfully purfued. I refolved to make a very rigid frugality fupply my deficiency of fortune, to maintain unimpaired my independency, and to regard every object as contemptible, except the improvement of my talents in literature.

DURING my retreat in France, first at Rheims, but chiefly at La Fleche, in Anjou, I compofed


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