Stories about David Hume

Trouble with a local lassie!

Local girl Agnes Galbraith visited David’s uncle, the Reverend George Home, and claimed that
she was pregnant by David Hume. It was not uncommon for pregnant girls to bring such
accusations in the hope of being bought off quickly or of obtaining maintenance. Neither he
nor the church believed her – it was her third such confession! It was extremely unlikely that
David was the father and Hume later returned to Chirnside on many occasions over the
remainder of his life, and kept close contact with his family. Hume enjoyed the company of
women but never married.

illustration nor'loch

Newhaven Fishwives recognise Hume!

Hume told his friend Mure of Caldwell of an incident that caused his  ‘conversion’ to  Christianity. Passing across the recently drained Nor Loch to the New Town of Edinburgh to supervise the masons’ building of his new house, to become No1 St David’s Street, he slipped and fell into the mire. He was then very bulky, and could not get up. Some passing Newhaven fishwives recognised him as the well-known atheist, and refused to rescue him until he recited the Lord’s Prayer, and the Creed. He did this, and was set on his feet again by these brawny women. Hume asserted a f t e r w a r d s , that Edinburgh fishwives were the “most acute theologians he had ever met.”

Most unreasonable fancy!

James Boswell visited Hume a few weeks before his death in his home in the New Town of Edinburgh. Hume told him that he sincerely believed it a most unreasonable fancy that there might be life after death. The funeral took place with a large crowd in a heavy rainstorm.
One man in the crowd called out, “Ye ken he was an atheist!” To which someone replied “Aye
but he was honest!” The night after Hume’s funeral, some of the crowd crouched behind the gravestones, to see if the devil would come to carry off his soul.

Ref: Roderick Graham (2004) ‘The Great Infidel. A Life of David Hume’

Illustration: Newhaven Fishwife and the Nor Loch



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