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The Life of David Hume$
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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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Spectator to a Rebellion

Spectator to a Rebellion

(p.177) Chapter 14 Spectator to a Rebellion
The Life of David Hume

Ernest Campbell Mossner

Oxford University Press

With the passing of two centuries the Jacobite Rising of 1745 inevitably tends to rank either as high romance or as opéra bouffe, depending on the temperament of the historian. At the time, however, it was deadly serious to all concerned, with the destiny of a great nation hanging in the balance. A year and a half after its collapse, David Hume wrote, realistically enough, that ‘eight Millions of People’ might ‘have been subdued and reduced to Slavery by five Thousand, the bravest, but still the most worthless amongst them’. Hume himself, however, generally favoured the opéra bouffe interpretation of the exploits of the brave but, in his opinion, otherwise ‘worthless’ Highlanders. The bare factual narrative of the Rebellion is both farcical and romantic.

Keywords:   Jacobite Rising, romance, opéra bouffe, David Hume, Slavery, Highlanders, Rebellion

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