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The Life of David Hume$

Ernest C. Mossner

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199243365

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199243365.001.0001

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Appendix E Cancels in Four Dissertations

Appendix E Cancels in Four Dissertations

The Life of David Hume
Oxford University Press

THE two cancels in the “Natural History of Religion” occur at signatures C 12 and D. Although no copy of Five Dissertations is extant, the original text can be reconstructed from the variants noted by T. H. Grose on the now lost proofsheets (Phil. Wks., V, 331–32). The “prudent” alterations made by Hume are as follows:

Passage I

1756 Proofsheets:

Thus the deity, whom the vulgar Jews conceived only as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, became their Jehovah and Creator of the world.


Thus, notwithstanding the sublime ideas suggested by Moses and the inspired writers, many vulgar Jews seem still to have conceived the supreme Being as a mere topical deity or national protector.

Passage II

1756 Proofsheets:

Were there a religion (and we may suspect Mahomatanism of this inconsistence) which sometimes painted the Deity in the most sublime colours, as the creator of heaven and earth; sometimes degraded him so far to a level with human creatures as to represent him wrestling with a man, walking in the cool of the evening, showing his back parts, and descending from heaven to inform himself of what passes on earth….[my italics—E.C.M.]

1757 [the following is substituted for my italics above—E.C.M.]:

sometimes degraded him nearly to a level with human creatures in his powers and faculties….