Thursday 23 October 2003

Philosopher bequeaths manuscripts to economist

The Glasgow Herald has a wonderful story today:
THE final wills and testaments of some of Scotland's most famous and influential figures are now available online for the first time. Every will and testament written in Scotland from 1500 to 1901 is featured on a website, including the wills of Rob Roy, Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, and James Young Simpson, the pioneer of anaesthesia. The Scottish Archive Network (Scan), which took four years to complete, contains a total of 500,000 legal documents
The information is available on this site where we can read the will of David Hume (among many others).

An extract:

To My Friend Dr. Adam Smith late Proffessor of Moral Philosophy in Glasgow I leave all my Manuscripts without exception, desiring him to publish My Dialogues on Natural religion which are comprehended in this present bequest, but to publish no other papers which he Suspects not to have been written within these five years, but to destroy them all at his Leisure, And I even leave him full power over all My papers except the dialogues Above Mentioned, and this I can trust to that Intimate and Sincere Friendship which has ever Subsisted between us for his faithfull execution of this part of My will, Yet as a small recompense for his pains in Correcting and publishing this work I leave him two hundred pounds Sterling to be paid immediately after the publication of it.
The philosopher Hume left the equivalent of £90,711 in today's money. On the other hand, Robert Louis Stevenson, surely the JK Rowling of his day, left the equivalent of £2,041,049.