Watkins Biographical Dictionary

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Watkins's Biographical Dictionary, also called The Universal Biographical Dictionary, was originally published in 1800, with a second edition in 1825, as An Historical Account of the lives, characters and works of the most eminent persons in every age and nation, from the earliest times to the present. It was compiled by John Watkins, LL.D., and published by Longman, Rees Orme, Brown and Green.

John Watkins was an English miscellaneous writer, known as a biographer. He is most famous for being the author of An Universal Biographical and Historical Dictionary.

Longman publishing company

Longman, commonly known as Pearson Longman, is a publishing company founded in London, England, in 1724 and is owned by Pearson PLC.


Entry on Hume

The dictionary is notable for its entry on the philosopher David Hume, which notes that "he published [the Treatise] in London in 1738, but its reception not answering his expectations, he printed a small analysis of it, in a sixpenny pamphlet, to make it sell". Because the pamphlet ( An Abstract of the Treatise of Human Nature ) was published anonymously, it is not known how the author of the article came by this information. Norman Kemp Smith has speculated that the firm of Longman's, who published both Watkin's Dictionary, and volume III of the A Treatise of Human Nature , was the channel through which the tradition of Hume's authorship of the Abstract was preserved. [1]

David Hume Scottish philosopher, economist, and historian

David Hume was a Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, who is best known today for his highly influential system of philosophical empiricism, scepticism, and naturalism. Hume's empiricist approach to philosophy places him with John Locke, George Berkeley, Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes as a British Empiricist. Beginning with his A Treatise of Human Nature (1738), Hume strove to create a total naturalistic science of man that examined the psychological basis of human nature. Against philosophical rationalists, Hume held that passion rather than reason governs human behaviour. Hume argued against the existence of innate ideas, positing that all human knowledge is founded solely in experience.

An Abstract of a Book lately Published, full title An Abstract of a Book lately Published; Entitled, A Treatise of Human Nature, &c. Wherein the Chief Argument of that Book is farther Illustrated and Explained is a summary of the main doctrines of David Hume's work A Treatise of Human Nature, published anonymously in 1740. There has been speculation about the authorship of the work. Some scholars believe it was written by Hume's friend, the economist Adam Smith. Most believe it was written by Hume himself, in an attempt to popularise the Treatise.


  1. Norman Kemp Smith, Mind 1938

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