Friday, June 13, 2008

David Hume's Tomb in Disrepair

Adam Morris in The Edinburgh Evening News (13 June) announces that The Hume Enlightenment Trust is seeking "to raise £250,000 to repair and restore David Hume's mausoleum at the Old Calton Burial Ground."

It says urgent work is needed on the 230-year-old monument because there is no-one to officially maintain it.

Built in 1778 by one of Scotland's most famous architects Robert Adam, the monument has lain untouched for centuries.

But the charity said a revamped mausoleum could become a major tourist attraction and reinforce Hume's influence on the Enlightenment era.

The organisation's administrator, Rachel Lee, said: "Hume's Mausoleum is of enormous importance to free thinkers throughout the world, both as a symbol of Enlightenment values and a memorial to one of its greatest figures.

"The aim of this project is to ensure this remarkable structure is preserved for future generations. Both David Hume and Robert Adam are huge names and deserve to be remembered.

"No-one has really had the remit of looking after this, so it's been left to the elements.

"We want to promote this campaign as widely as possible and raise the money to carry out the first part of the work." Mr Adam built the monument two years after Hume's death, and the trust said such iconic structures were crucial to the preservation of the era and how it can still applied in today's world.

"It was a fitting tribute by Scotland's greatest architect to not only Scotland's greatest philosopher, but arguably the greatest philosopher ever to write in English," Ms Lee added.

The monument was created using the extremely durable Craigleith stone, but over the centuries the effects of weather have had a detrimental impact.

Economist and contemporary Adam Smith said of Hume, who was born in 1711: "Upon the whole, I have always considered him, both in his lifetime and since his death, as approaching as nearly to the idea of a perfectly wise and virtuous man, as perhaps the nature of human frailty will permit."

Another worthwhile project for Edinburgh to promote. David Hume was an intellectual giant among a lot of giants at work during the Enlightenment.

The erection of Adam Smith's statue in the vicinity of where he lived, worked, and is buried in a few weeks time and the purchase (hopefully) of Panmure House in which Adam Smith lived from 1788-90 is part of an awakening of many people all round the world to the history of this small city's contribution (pop. 23,000 in the 1750s) to world development.

Hume and Smith were friends, though Smith thought that Hume's tomb (for which he left provision in his will) was too ostentatious for his own more frugal tastes and manner of living. Hume read Wealth Of Nations just before he died; he considered it a great success for Smith.


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