By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Life of Adam Smith
Author: Rae, John, 1845-1915
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life of Adam Smith" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

(This file was produced from images generously made
available by the Bibliothèque nationale de France
(BnF/Gallica) at http://gallica.bnf.fr)

Life of Adam Smith








The fullest account we possess of the life of Adam Smith is still the
memoir which Dugald Stewart read to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on
two evenings of the winter of 1793, and which he subsequently
published as a separate work, with many additional illustrative notes,
in 1810. Later biographers have made few, if any, fresh contributions
to the subject. But in the century that has elapsed since Stewart
wrote, many particulars about Smith and a number of his letters have
incidentally and by very scattered channels found their way into
print. It will be allowed to be generally desirable, in view of the
continued if not even increasing importance of Smith, to obtain as
complete a view of his career and work as it is still in our power to
recover; and it appeared not unlikely that some useful contribution to
this end might result if all those particulars and letters to which I
have alluded were collected together, and if they were supplemented by
such unpublished letters and information as it still remained possible
to procure. In this last part of my task I have been greatly assisted
by the Senatus of the University of Glasgow, who have most kindly
supplied me with an extract of every passage in the College records
bearing on Smith; by the Council of the Royal Society of Edinburgh,
who have granted me every facility for using the _Hume
Correspondence_, which is in their custody; and by the Senatus of the
University of Edinburgh for a similar courtesy with regard to the
_Carlyle Correspondence_ and the David Laing MSS. in their library. I
am also deeply indebted, for the use of unpublished letters or for the
supply of special information, to the Duke of Buccleuch, the Marquis
of Lansdowne, Professor R.O. Cunningham of Queen's College, Belfast,
Mr. Alfred Morrison of Fonthill, Mr. F. Barker of Brook Green, and Mr.
W. Skinner, W.S., late Town Clerk of Edinburgh.




Birth and parentage, 1. Adam Smith senior, 1; his death and funeral,
3. Smith's mother, 4. Burgh School of Kirkcaldy, 5. Schoolmaster's
drama, 6. School-fellows, 6. Industries of Kirkcaldy, 7.



Professors and state of learning there, 9. Smith's taste for
mathematics, 10. Professor R. Simson, 10. Hutcheson, 11; his influence
over Smith, 13; his economic teaching, 14. Smith's early connection
with Hume, 15. Snell exhibitioner, 16. College friends, 17.



Scotch and English agriculture, 18. Expenses at Oxford, 19. Did Smith
graduate? 20. State of learning, 20; Smith's censure of, 20. His
gratitude to Oxford, 22. Life in Balliol College, 22. Smith's devotion
to classics and belles-lettres, 23. Confiscation of his copy of Hume's
_Treatise_, 24. Ill-health, 25. Snell exhibitioners ill-treated and
discontented at Balliol, 26. Desire transference to other college, 27.
Smith's college friends, or his want of them, 28. Return to Scotland,



Lord Kames, 31. Smith's class on English literature, 32. Blair's
alleged obligations to Smith's lectures, 33. Smith's views as a
critic, 34. His addiction to poetry, 35. His economic lectures, 36.
James Oswald, M.P., 37. Oswald's economic correspondence with Hume,
37. Hamilton of Bangour's poems edited by Smith, 38. Dedication to
second edition, 40.



Admission to Logic chair, 42. Letter to Cullen about undertaking Moral
Philosophy class, 44. Letter to Cullen on Hume's candidature for Logic
chair and other business, 45. Burke's alleged candidature, 46. Hume's
defeat, 47. Moral Philosophy class income, 48. Work, 50. Professor
John Millar, 53. His account of Smith's lectures, 54; of his qualities
as lecturer, 56. Smith's students, 57. H. Erskine, Boswell, T.
Fitzmaurice, Tronchin, 58, 59. Smith's religious views suspected, 60.
His influence in Glasgow, 60. Conversion of merchants to free trade,
61. Manifesto of doctrines in 1755, 61. Its exposition of economic
liberty, 62. Smith's alleged habitual fear of the plagiarist, 64. This
manifesto not directed against Adam Ferguson, 65.



Smith's alleged helplessness in business transactions, 66; his large
participation in business at Glasgow, 67. Appointed Quæstor, 68; Dean
of Faculty, 68; Vice-Rector, 68. Dissensions in the University, 69;
their origin in the academic constitution, 70. Enlightened educational
policy of the University authorities, 71. James Watt, University
instrument-maker; Robert Foulis, University printer, 71. Wilson,
type-founder and astronomer. The Academy of Design. Professor
Anderson's classes for working men, 72. Smith and Watt, 73. Smith's
connection with Foulis's Academy of Design, 74. Smith and Wilson's
type-foundry, 77. Proposed academy of dancing, fencing, and riding in
the University, 79. Smith's opposition to the new Glasgow theatre, 80;
his generally favourable views on theatrical representations, 81. His
protests against Professor Anderson voting for his own translation to
Natural Philosophy chair, 83. Joins in refusing Professor Rouet leave
to travel abroad with a pupil, and in depriving him of office for his
absenteeism, 84.



Glasgow at period of Smith's residence, 87; its beauty, 88; its
expanding commerce and industry, 89; its merchants, 90. Andrew
Cochrane, 91. The economic club, 92. Duty on American iron and foreign
linen yarns, 93. Paper money, 94. The Literary Society, 95. Smith's
paper on Hume's Essays on Commerce, 95. "Mr. Robin Simson's Club," 96.
Saturday dinners at Anderston, 97. Smith at whist, 97. Simson's ode to
the Divine Geometer, 98. James Watt's account of this club, 99.
Professor Moor, 99.



Edinburgh friends, 101. Wilkie, the poet, 102. William Johnstone
(afterwards Sir William Pulteney), 103. Letter of Smith introducing
Johnstone to Oswald, 103. David Hume, 105. The Select Society, 107;
Smith's speech at its first meeting, 108; its debates, 109; its great
attention to economic subjects, 110; its practical work for
improvement of arts, manufactures, and agriculture, 112; its
dissolution, 118. Thomas Sheridan's classes on elocution, 119. The
_Edinburgh Review_, 120; Smith's contributions, 121; on Wit and
Humour, 122; on French and English classics, 123; on Rousseau's
discourse on inequality, 124. Smith's republicanism, 124. Premature
end of the _Review_, 124; Hume's exclusion from it, 126. Attempt to
subject him to ecclesiastical censure, 127. Smith's views and
Douglas's _Criterion of Miracles Examined_, 129. Home's _Douglas_,
130. Chair of Jurisprudence in Edinburgh, 131. Miss Hepburn, 133. The
Poker Club, 134; founded to agitate for a Scots militia, 135. Smith's
change of opinion on that subject, 137. The tax on French wines, 139.



Letter from Hume, 141. Burke's criticism, 145. Charles Townshend, 146.
Letter from Smith to Townshend, 148. Second edition of Theory, 148.
Letter from Smith to Strahan, 149. The union of Scotland with England,
150. Benjamin Franklin, 150.



Conversion of Lord Shelburne to free trade, 153. Altercation with Dr.
Johnson, 154. Boswell's account, 155; Sir Walter Scott's, 156; Bishop
Wilberforce's, 157.



Letter on Rev. W. Ward's Rational Grammar, 159. Letter to Hume
introducing Mr. Henry Herbert, 161. Smith's indignation at Shelburne's
intrigues with Lord Bute, 162. On Wilkes, 163. Letter from Hume at
Paris, 163. Letter from Charles Townshend about Buccleugh tutorship,
164. Smith's acceptance, 165. Salary of such posts, 165. Smith's poor
opinion of the educational value of the system, 166. Smith's
arrangements for return of class fees and conduct of class, 167.
Letter to Hume announcing his speedy departure for Paris, 168. Parting
with his students, 169. Letter resigning chair, 172.



Sir James Macdonald, 174. Toulouse, 175. Abbé Colbert, 175. The
Cuthberts of Castlehill, 176. Archbishop Loménie de Brienne, 177.
Letter to Hume, 178. Trip to Bordeaux, 179. Colonel Barré, 179.
Toulouse and Bordeaux, 180. Sobriety of Southern France, 180. Duke of
Richelieu, 181. Letter to Hume, 181; letter to Hume, 183. Visit to
Montpellier, 183. Horne Tooke, 183. The States of Languedoc, 183. The
provincial assembly question, 184. Parliament of Toulouse, 185. The
Calas case, 186.



Its constitution, 188. Voltaire, 189; Smith's veneration for, 190;
remarks to Rogers and Saint Fond on, 190. Charles Bonnet, G.L. Le
Sage, 191. Duchesse d'Enville and Duc de la Rochefoucauld, 192. Lord
Stanhope, Lady Conyers, 193.



Arrival, 194. Departure of Hume, 196. Smith's reception in society,
197. Comtesse de Boufflers, 198. Baron d'Holbach, 199. Helvetius, 200.
Morellet, 200. Mademoiselle de l'Espinasse, 201. Turgot and
D'Alembert, 202. Question of literary obligations, 203. Alleged
correspondence, 204. Smith's opinion of Turgot, 205. Necker, 206.
Dispute between Rousseau and Hume, 206. Letter to Hume, 208. Madame
Riccoboni, 210; letter from her to Garrick introducing Smith, 211.
Visit to Abbeville, 212. A marquise, 213. The French theatre, 214.
Smith's love of music, 214. The French economists, 215. Dupont de
Nemours's allusion, 215. Quesnay, 216. Views of the political
situation, 217. Mercier de la Rivière and Mirabeau, 218. Activity of
the sect in 1766, 219. Smith's views of effect of moderate taxation on
wages, 220. Illness of Duke of Buccleugh at Compiègne, 222. Letter of
Smith to Townshend, 222. Hume's perplexity where to stay, 225. Death
of Hon. Hew Campbell Scott, 226. Duke of Buccleugh on the tutorship,
226. Smith's merits as tutor, 227. His improvement from his travels,
227; their value to him as thinker, 228. Did he foresee the
Revolution? 229. His views on condition of French people, 230. His
suggestion for reform of French taxation, 231.



Arrival in November 1766, 232. On Hume's continuing his _History_,
233. Third edition of _Theory_, 233. Letter to Strahan, 234. Letter to
Lord Shelburne, 233. Alexander Dalrymple, hydrographer, 235. Colonies
of ancient Rome, 236. Anecdote of Smith's absence of mind, 237.
F.R.S., 238.



Count de Sarsfield, 240. Letter from Smith to Hume, 241. His daily
life in Kirkcaldy, 242. Letter to Hume from Dalkeith, 243. Bishop
Oswald, 243. Captain Skene, 243. The Duchess of Buccleugh, 243.
Home-coming at Dalkeith, 244. The Duke, 245. Stories of Smith's
absence of mind, 246. Letter to Lord Hailes on old Scots Acts about
hostellaries, 247. On the Douglas case, 248. Reported completion of
_Wealth of Nations_ in 1770, 251. Smith receives freedom of Edinburgh,
251. Letter to Sir W. Pulteney on his book and an Indian appointment,
253. Crisis of 1772, 254. The Indian appointment, 255; Thorold Rogers
on, 256. Work on _Wealth of Nation_ after this date, 257. Tutorship to
Duke of Hamilton, 258. Anecdote of absence of mind, 259. Habits in
composing _Wealth of Nations_, 260.



Letter to Hume appointing him literary executor, 262. Long residence
in London, 263. Assistance from Franklin, 264. Recommendation of Adam
Ferguson for Chesterfield tutorship, 266. Hume's proposal as to Smith
taking Ferguson's place in the Moral Philosophy chair, 266. The
British Coffee-House, 267. Election to the Literary Club, 267. Smith's
conversation, 268. His alleged aversion to speak of what he knew, 269.
Attends William Hunter's lectures, 271. Letter to Cullen on freedom of
medical instruction, 273. Hume's health, 280. Smith's zeal on the
American question, 281. Advocacy of colonial incorporation, 282.



Terms of publication and sales, 285. Letter from Hume, 286. Gibbon's
opinion, 287; Sir John Pringle's, 288; Buckle's, 288. General
reception, 288. Fox's quotation, 289. Fox and Lauderdale's
conversation on Smith, 289. Quotations in Parliament, 290. Popular
association of economics with "French principles," 291. Prejudice
against free trade as a revolutionary doctrine, 291. Editions of the
book, 293. Immediate influence of the book on English taxation, 294.



Smith and John Home meet Hume at Morpeth, 295. The _Dialogues on
Natural Religion_, 296. Letter from Hume, 297. Hume's farewell dinner,
299. Correspondence between Hume and Smith about the _Dialogues_, 300.
Hume's death and monument in Calton cemetery, 302. Correspondence of
Smith with Home or Ninewells, 302. Correspondence with Strahan on the
_Dialogues_, 305. Copy money for _Wealth of Nations_. Strahan's
proposal to publish selection of Hume's letters, 309. Smith's reply,
310. Clamour raised by the letter to Strahan on Hume's death, 311.
Bishop Horne's pamphlet, 312. Was Hume a Theist? 313. Mackenzie's "La
Roche," 314.



Mickle's translation of the _Lusiad_, 316. His causeless resentment
against Smith, 317. Governor Pownall, 318. Letter of Smith to Pownall,
319. Appointed Commissioner of Customs, 320. Lord North's indebtedness
to the _Wealth of Nations_, 320. Salary of post, 321. Correspondence
with Strahan, 321.



Panmure House, Canongate, 325; Windham on, 326. Sunday suppers, 327.
Smith's library, 327. His personal appearance, 329. Work in the Custom
House, 330. Anecdotes of absence of mind, 330. Devotion to Greek and
Latin classics, 333. The Oyster Club, 334. Dr. Black and Dr. Hutton,



Letter from Duc de la Rochefoucauld, 339. Letter to Lord Kames, 341.
Sir John Sinclair's manuscript work on the Sabbath, 342. The surrender
at Saratoga, 343. Letter to Sir John Sinclair on the _Mémoires
concernant les Impositions_, 343. Smith's view of taxes on the
necessaries and on the luxuries of the poor, 345.



Commercial restrictions on Ireland, 346. Popular discontent, 347.
Demand for free trade, 347. Grattan's motion, 348. Smith consulted by
Government, 349. Letter to Lord Carlisle, 350. Letter from Dundas to
Smith, 352. Smith's reply, 353. Smith's advocacy of union, 356.



Danish translation, 357. Letter of Smith to Strahan, 357. French
translations, 358; German, 359; Italian and Spanish, 360. Suppressed
by the Inquisition, 360. Letter to Cadell, 361. Letter to Cadell on
new edition, 362. Dr. Swediaur, 362. The additional matter, 363.



Reminiscences in the _Bee_, 365. Opinion of Dr. Johnson, 366; Dr.
Campbell of the _Political Survey_, 366; Swift, 367; Livy, 367;
Shakespeare, 368; Dryden, 368; Beattie, 368; Pope's _Iliad_, Milton's
shorter poems, Gray, Allan Ramsay, Percy's _Reliques_, 369; Burke,
369; the Reviews, 370. Gibbon's _History_, 371. Professor Faujas Saint
Fond's reminiscences, 372. Voltaire and Rousseau, 372. The bagpipe
competition, 372. Smith made Captain of the Trained Bands, 374.
Foundation of Royal Society of Edinburgh, 375. Count de
Windischgraetz's proposed reform of legal terminology, 376.



Smith's Whiggism, 378. Mackinnon of Mackinnon's manuscript treatise on
fortification, 379. Letter from Smith, 380. Letter to Sir John
Sinclair on the Armed Neutrality, 382. Letter to W. Eden (Lord
Auckland) on the American Intercourse Bill, 385. Fox's East India
Bill, 386.



Friendship of Burke and Smith, 387. Burke in Edinburgh, 388. Smith's
prophecy of restoration of the Whigs to power, 389. With Burke in
Glasgow, 390. Andrew Stuart, 391. Letter of Smith to J. Davidson, 392.
Death of Smith's mother, 393. Burke and Windham in Edinburgh, 394.
Dinner at Smith's, 394. Windham love-struck, 395. John Logan, the
poet, 396. Letter of Smith to Andrew Strahan, 396.



Dr. R. Price on the decline of population, 398. Dr. A. Webster's lists
of examinable persons in Scotland, 399. Letter of Smith to Eden, 400.
Smith's opinion of Price, 400. Further letter to Eden, 400. Henry Hope
of Amsterdam, 401. Letter to Bishop Douglas, introducing Beatson of
the _Political Index_, 403.



Meeting with Pitt at Dundas's, 405. Smith's remark about Pitt, 405.
Consulted by Pitt, 406. Opinion on Sunday schools, 407. Wilberforce
and Smith, 407. The British Fisheries Society, 408. Smith's
prognostication confirmed, 409. Chosen Lord Rector of Glasgow
University, 410. Letter to Principal Davidson, 411. Installation, 412.
Sir John Leslie, 412. Letter of Smith to Sir Joseph Banks, 413. Death
of Miss Douglas, 414. Letter to Gibbon, 414.



Smith at breakfast, 416. Strawberries, 417. Old town of Edinburgh,
417. Loch Lomond, 417. The refusal of corn to France, 417. "_That_
Bogle," 418. Junius, 429. Dinner at Smith's, 420. At the Royal Society
meeting, 421. Smith on Bentham's _Defence of Usury_, 422.



Letter from Dugald Stewart, 426. Additional matter in new edition of
_Theory_, 427. Deletion of the allusion to Rochefoucauld, 427.
Suppressed passage on the Atonement, 428. Archbishop Magee, 428.
Passage on the Calas case, 429.



Declining health, 431. Adam Ferguson's reconciliation and attentions,
433. Destruction of Smith's MSS., 434. Last Sunday supper, 434. His
words of farewell, 435. Death and burial, 435. Little notice in the
papers, 436. His will and executors, 436. His large private charities,
437. His portraits, 438. His books, 439. Extant relics, 440.




Adam Smith was born at Kirkcaldy, in the county of Fife, Scotland, on
the 5th of June 1723. He was the son of Adam Smith, Writer to the
Signet, Judge Advocate for Scotland and Comptroller of the Customs in
the Kirkcaldy district, by Margaret, daughter of John Douglas of
Strathendry, a considerable landed proprietor in the same county.

Of his father little is known. He was a native of Aberdeen, and his
people must have been in a position to make interest in influential
quarters, for we find him immediately after his admission to the
Society of Writers to the Signet in 1707, appointed to the
newly-established office of Judge Advocate for Scotland, and in the
following year to the post of Private Secretary to the Scotch
Minister, the Earl of Loudon. When he lost this post in consequence of
Lord Loudon's retirement from office in 1713, he was provided for with
the Comptrollership of Customs at Kirkcaldy, which he continued to
hold, along with the Judge Advocateship, till his premature death in
1723. The Earl of Loudon having been a zealous Whig and Presbyterian,
it is perhaps legitimate to infer that his secretary must have been
the same, and from the public appointments he held we may further
gather that he was a man of parts. The office of Judge Advocate for
Scotland, which was founded at the Union, and which he was the first
to fill, was a position of considerable responsibility, and was
occupied after him by men, some of them of great distinction.
Alexander Fraser Tytler, the historian, for example, was Judge
Advocate till he went to the bench as Lord Woodhouselee. The Judge
Advocate was clerk and legal adviser to the Courts Martial, but as
military trials were not frequent in Scotland, the duties of this
office took up but a minor share of the elder Smith's time. His chief
business, at least for the last ten years of his life, was his work in
the Custom-house, for though he was bred a Writer to the Signet--that
is, a solicitor privileged to practise before the Supreme Court--he
never seems to have actually practised that profession. A local
collectorship or controllership of the Customs was in itself a more
important administrative office at that period, when duties were
levied on twelve hundred articles, than it is now, when duties are
levied on twelve only, and it was much sought after for the younger,
or even the elder, sons of the gentry. The very place held by Smith's
father at Kirkcaldy was held for many years after his day by a Scotch
baronet, Sir Michael Balfour. The salary was not high. Adam Smith
began in 1713 with £30 a year, and had only £40 when he died in 1723,
but then the perquisites of those offices in the Customs were usually
twice or thrice the salary, as we know from the _Wealth of Nations_
itself (Book V. chap. ii.). Smith had a cousin, a third Adam Smith,
who was in 1754 Collector of Customs at Alloa with a salary of £60 a
year, and who writes his cousin, in connection with a negotiation the
latter was conducting on behalf of a friend for the purchase of the
office, that the place was worth £200 a year, and that he would not
sell it for less than ten years' purchase.[1]

Smith's father died in the spring of 1723, a few months before his
famous son was born. Some doubt has been cast upon this fact by an
announcement quoted by President M'Cosh, in his _Scottish
Philosophy_, from the Scots Magazine of 1740, of the promotion of Adam
Smith, Comptroller of the Customs, Kirkcaldy, to be Inspector-General
of the Outports. But conclusive evidence exists of the date of the
death of Smith's father in a receipt for his funeral expenses, which
is in the possession of Professor Cunningham, and which, as a curious
illustration of the habits of the time, I subjoin in a note below.[2]
The promotion of 1740 is the promotion not of Smith's father but of
his cousin, whom I have just had occasion to mention, and who appears
from Chamberlayne's _Notitia Angliæ_ to have been Comptroller of the
Customs at Kirkcaldy from about 1734 till somewhere before 1741. In
the _Notitia Angliæ_ for 1741 the name of Adam Smith ceases to appear
as Comptroller in Kirkcaldy, and appears for the first time as
Inspector-General of the Outports, exactly in accordance with the
intimation quoted by Dr. M'Cosh. It is curious that Smith, who was to
do so much to sweep away the whole system of the Customs, should have
been so closely connected with that branch of administration. His
father, his only known relation on his father's side, and himself,
were all officials in the Scotch Customs.

On the mother's side his kindred were much connected with the army.
His uncle, Robert Douglas of Strathendry, and three of his uncle's
sons were military officers, and so was his cousin, Captain Skene, the
laird of the neighbouring estate of Pitlour. Colonel Patrick Ross, a
distinguished officer of the times, was also a relation, but on which
side I do not know. His mother herself was from first to last the
heart of Smith's life. He being an only child, and she an only parent,
they had been all in all to one another during his infancy and
boyhood, and after he was full of years and honours her presence was
the same shelter to him as it was when a boy. His friends often spoke
of the beautiful affection and worship with which he cherished her.
One who knew him well for the last thirty years of his life, and was
very probably at one time a boarder in his house, the clever and
bustling Earl of Buchan, elder brother of Lord Chancellor Erskine,
says the principal avenue to Smith's heart always was by his mother.
He was a delicate child, and afflicted even in childhood with those
fits of absence and that habit of speaking to himself which he carried
all through life. Of his infancy only one incident has come down to
us. In his fourth year, while on a visit to his grandfather's house at
Strathendry on the banks of the Leven, the child was stolen by a
passing band of gipsies, and for a time could not be found. But
presently a gentleman arrived who had met a gipsy woman a few miles
down the road carrying a child that was crying piteously. Scouts were
immediately despatched in the direction indicated, and they came upon
the woman in Leslie wood. As soon as she saw them she threw her burden
down and escaped, and the child was brought back to his mother. He
would have made, I fear, a poor gipsy. As he grew up in boyhood his
health became stronger, and he was in due time sent to the Burgh
School of Kirkcaldy.

The Burgh School of Kirkcaldy was one of the best secondary schools of
Scotland at that period, and its principal master, Mr. David Millar,
had the name of being one of the best schoolmasters of his day. When
Smith first went to school we cannot say, but it seems probable that
he began Latin in 1733, for _Eutropius_ is the class-book of a
beginner in Latin, and the _Eutropius_ which Smith used as a
class-book still exists, and contains his signature with the date of
that year.[3] As he left school in 1737, he thus had at least four
years' training in the classics before he proceeded to the University.
Millar, his classical master, had adventured in literature. He wrote a
play, and his pupils used to act it. Acting plays was in those days a
common exercise in the higher schools of Scotland. The presbyteries
often frowned, and tried their best to stop the practice, but the town
councils, which had the management of these schools, resented the
dictation of the presbyteries, and gave the drama not only the support
of their personal presence at the performances, but sometimes built a
special stage and auditorium for the purpose. Sir James Steuart, the
economist, played the king in _Henry the Fourth_ when he was a boy at
the school of North Berwick in 1735. The pupils of Dalkeith School,
where the historian Robertson was educated, played _Julius Cæsar_ in
1734. In the same year the boys of Perth Grammar School played _Cato_
in the teeth of an explicit presbyterial anathema, and again in the
same year--in the month of August--the boys of the Burgh School of
Kirkcaldy, which Smith was at the time attending, enacted the piece
their master had written. It bore the rather unromantic and uninviting
title of "A Royal Council for Advice, or the Regular Education of Boys
the Foundation of all other Improvements." The _dramatis personæ_ were
first the master and twelve ordinary members of the council, who sat
gravely round a table like senators, and next a crowd of suitors,
standing at a little distance off, who sent representatives to the
table one by one to state their grievances--first a tradesman, then a
farmer, then a country gentleman, then a schoolmaster, a nobleman, and
so on. Each of them received advice from the council in turn, and
then, last of all, a gentleman came forward, who complimented the
council on the successful completion of their day's labours.[4] Smith
would no doubt have been present at this performance, but whether he
played an active part either as councillor or as spokesman for any
class of petitioners, or merely stood in the crowd of suitors, a
silent super, cannot now be guessed.

Among those young actors at this little provincial school were several
besides Smith himself who were to play important and even
distinguished parts afterwards on the great stage of the world. James
Oswald--the Right Hon. James Oswald, Treasurer of the Navy--who is
sometimes said to have been one of Smith's schoolfellows, could not
have been so, as he was eight years Smith's senior, but his younger
brother John, subsequently Bishop of Raphoe, doubtless was; and so was
Robert Adam, the celebrated architect, who built the London Adelphi,
Portland Place, and--probably his finest work--Edinburgh University.
Though James Oswald was not at school with Smith, he was one of his
intimate home friends from the first. The Dunnikier family lived in
the town, and stood on such a footing of intimacy with the Smiths
that, as we have seen, it was "Mr. James of Dunnikier"--the father of
the James Oswald now in question--who undertook on behalf of Mrs.
Smith the arrangements for her husband's funeral; and the friendship
of James Oswald, as will presently appear, was, after the affection of
his mother, the best thing Smith carried into life with him from
Kirkcaldy. The Adam family also lived in the town, though the father
was a leading Scotch architect--King's Mason for Scotland, in
fact--and was proprietor of a fair estate not far away; and the four
brothers Adam were the familiars of Smith's early years. They
continued to be among his familiars to the last. Another of his school
companions who played a creditable part in his time was John Drysdale,
the minister's son, who became one of the ministers of Edinburgh,
doctor of divinity, chaplain to the king, leader of an ecclesiastical
party--of the Moderates in succession to Robertson--twice Moderator of
the General Assembly, though in his case, as in so many others, the
path of professional success has led but to oblivion. Still he
deserves mention here, because, as his son-in-law, Professor Dalzel
tells us, he and Smith were much together again in their later
Edinburgh days, and there was none of all Smith's numerous friends
whom he liked better or spoke of with greater tenderness than
Drysdale.[5] Drysdale's wife was a sister of the brothers Adam, and
Robert Adam stayed with Drysdale on his visits to Edinburgh.

A small town like Kirkcaldy--it had then only 1500 inhabitants--is a
not unfavourable observatory for beginning one's knowledge of the
world. It has more sorts and conditions of men to exhibit than a rural
district can furnish, and it exhibits each more completely in all
their ways, pursuits, troubles, characters, than can possibly be done
in a city. Smith, who, spite of his absence of mind, was always an
excellent observer, would grow up in the knowledge of all about
everybody in that little place, from the "Lady Dunnikier," the great
lady of the town, to its poor colliers and salters who were still
bondsmen. Kirkcaldy, too, had its shippers trading with the Baltic,
its customs officers, with many a good smuggling story, and it had a
nailery or two, which Smith is said to have been fond of visiting as a
boy, and to have acquired in them his first rough idea of the value of
division of labour.[6] However that may be, Smith does draw some of
his illustrations of the division of labour from that particular
business, which would necessarily be very familiar to his mind, and it
may have been in Kirkcaldy that he found the nailers paid their wages
in nails, and using these nails afterwards as a currency in making
their purchases from the shopkeepers.[7]

At school Smith was marked for his studious disposition, his love of
reading, and his power of memory; and by the age of fourteen he had
advanced sufficiently in classics and mathematics to be sent to
Glasgow College, with a view to obtaining a Snell exhibition to


[1] Original letter in possession of Professor Cunningham, Belfast.



  To eight bottles of ale                        £0 12  0
  To butter and eggs to the seed cake             1  4  0
  To four bottles of ale                          0  6  0
  To three pounds fresh butter for bread          0 14  0
  To one pound small candles                      0  4  6
  To two pounds bisquet                           1  4  0
  To sixteen bottles of ale                       1  4  0
  To money sent to Edinr. for bisquet,
    stockings, and necessars                     25  4  0
  To three expresses to Edinburgh                 2 14  0
  To a pair of murning shous to Hugh              1 10  0
  To horse hyre with the wine from Kinghorn       0 15  0
  To the poor                                     3  6  0
  To six bottles and eight pints of ale
    to the beadels, etc.                          1 10  4
  To pipes and tobacco                            0  4  0
  To four pints of ale to the workmen             0 12  8
  To the postage of three letters                 0  6  0
  To making the grave                             3  0  0
  To caring the mourning letters thro'
    the town and country                          1 10  0
  To the mort cloth                               3 12  0
  To Robert Martin for his services               1  4  0
  To Deacon Lessels for the coffin and ironwork  28  4  0
  To Deacon Sloan for lifting the stone           1 11  0
                                       Summa is £80 16  6

On the back is the docquet, "Account of funeral charges, Mr. Adam
Smith, 1723," and the formal receipt as follows: "Kirkaldie, Apl. 24,
1723. Received from Mr. James of Dunekier eighty pund sexteen shilling
six penes Scots in full of the within account depussd by me.


"Mr. James of Dunekier" is Mr. James Oswald of Dunnikier, the father
of Smith's friend, the statesman of the same name, and he had
apparently as a friend of the family undertaken the duty of looking
after the funeral arrangements.

[3] In possession of Professor Cunningham.

[4] Grant's _Burgh Schools of Scotland_, p. 414.

[5] Drysdale's _Sermons_, Preface by Dalzel.

[6] Campbell, _Journey from Edinburgh through North Britain_, 1802,
ii. p. 49.

[7] _Wealth of Nations_, Book I. chap. iv.



A.D. 1737-1740. _Aet._ 14-17

Smith entered Glasgow College in 1737, no doubt in October, when the
session began, and he remained there till the spring of 1740. The arts
curriculum at that time extended over five sessions, so that Smith did
not complete the course required for a degree. In the three sessions
he attended he would go through the classes of Latin, Greek,
Mathematics, and Moral Philosophy, and have thus listened to the
lectures of the three eminent teachers who were then drawing students
to this little western College from the most distant quarters, and
keeping its courts alive with a remarkable intellectual activity. Dr.
A. Carlyle, who came to Glasgow College for his divinity classes after
he had finished his arts course at Edinburgh, says he found a spirit
of inquiry and a zeal for learning abroad among the students of
Glasgow which he remembered nothing like among the students of
Edinburgh. This intellectual awakening was the result mainly of the
teaching of three professors--Alexander Dunlop, Professor of Greek, a
man of fine scholarship and taste, and an unusually engaging method of
instruction; Robert Simson, the professor of Mathematics, an original
if eccentric genius, who enjoyed a European reputation as the restorer
of the geometry of the ancients; and above all, Francis Hutcheson, a
thinker of great original power, and an unrivalled academic lecturer.

Smith would doubtless improve his Greek to some extent under Dunlop,
though from all we know of the work of that class, he could not be
carried very far there. Dunlop spent most of his first year teaching
the elements of Greek grammar with Verney's Grammar as his textbook,
and reading a little of one or two easy authors as the session
advanced. Most of the students entered his class so absolutely
ignorant of Greek that he was obliged to read a Latin classic with
them for the first three months till they learnt enough of the Greek
grammar to read a Greek one. In the second session they were able to
accompany him through some of the principal Greek classics, but the
time was obviously too short for great things. Smith, however, appears
at this time to have shown a marked predilection for mathematics.
Dugald Stewart's father, Professor Matthew Stewart of Edinburgh, was a
class-fellow of Smith's at Glasgow; and Dugald Stewart has heard his
father reminding Smith of a "geometrical problem of considerable
difficulty by which he was occupied at the time when their
acquaintance commenced, and which had been proposed to him as an
exercise by the celebrated Dr. Simson." The only other fellow-student
of his at Glasgow of whom we have any knowledge is Dr. Maclaine, the
translator of Mosheim, and author of several theological works; and
Dr. Maclaine informed Dugald Stewart, in private conversation, of
Smith's fondness for mathematics in those early days. For his
mathematical professor, Robert Simson himself, Smith always retained
the profoundest veneration, and one of the last things he ever
wrote--a passage he inserted in the new edition of his _Theory of
Moral Sentiments_, published immediately before his death in
1790--contains a high tribute to the gifts and character of that
famous man. In this passage Smith seeks to illustrate a favourite
proposition of his, that men of science are much less sensitive to
public criticism and much more indifferent to unpopularity or neglect
than either poets or painters, because the excellence of their work
admits of easy and satisfactory demonstration, whereas the excellence
of the poet's work or the painter's depends on a judgment of taste
which is more uncertain; and he points to Robert Simson as a signal
example of the truth of that proposition. "Mathematicians," he says,
"who may have the most perfect assurance of the truth and of the
importance of their discoveries, are frequently very indifferent about
the reception which they may meet with from the public. The two
greatest mathematicians that I ever have had the honour to be known
to, and I believe the two greatest that have lived in my time, Dr.
Robert Simson of Glasgow and Dr. Matthew Stewart of Edinburgh, never
seemed to feel even the slightest uneasiness from the neglect with
which the ignorance of the public received some of their most valuable
works."[8] And it ought to be remembered that when Smith wrote thus of
Simson he had been long intimate with D'Alembert.

But while Smith improved his Greek under Dunlop, and acquired a
distinct ardour for mathematics under the inspiring instructions of
Simson, the most powerful and enduring influence he came under at
Glasgow was undoubtedly that of Hutcheson--"the never-to-be-forgotten
Hutcheson," as he styled him half a century later in recalling his
obligations to his old College on the occasion of his election to the
Rectorship. No other man, indeed, whether teacher or writer, did so
much to awaken Smith's mind or give a bent to his ideas. He is
sometimes considered a disciple of Hume and sometimes considered a
disciple of Quesnay; if he was any man's disciple, he was Hutcheson's.
Hutcheson was exactly the stamp of man fitted to stir and mould the
thought of the young. He was, in the first place, one of the most
impressive lecturers that ever spoke from an academic chair. Dugald
Stewart, who knew many of his pupils, states that every one of them
told of the extraordinary impression his lectures used to make on
their hearers. He was the first professor in Glasgow to give up
lecturing in Latin and speak to his audience in their own tongue, and
he spoke without notes and with the greatest freedom and animation.
Nor was it only his eloquence, but his ideas themselves were rousing.
Whatever he touched upon, he treated, as we may still perceive from
his writings, with a certain freshness and decided originality which
must have provoked the dullest to some reflection, and in a bracing
spirit of intellectual liberty which it was strength and life for the
young mind to breathe. He was not long in Glasgow, accordingly, till
he was bitterly attacked by the older generation outside the walls of
the College as a "new light" fraught with dangers to all accepted
beliefs, and at the same time worshipped like an idol by the younger
generation inside the walls, who were thankful for the light he
brought them, and had no quarrel with it for being new. His immediate
predecessor in that chair, Professor Gershom Carmichael, the reputed
father of the Scottish Philosophy, was still a Puritan of the
Puritans, wrapt in a gloomy Calvinism, and desponding after signs that
would never come. But Hutcheson belonged to a new era, which had
turned to the light of nature for guidance, and had discovered by it
the good and benevolent Deity of the eighteenth century, who lived
only for human welfare, and whose will was not to be known from
mysterious signs and providences, but from a broad consideration of
the greater good of mankind--"the greatest happiness of the greatest
number." Hutcheson was the original author of that famous phrase.

All this was anathema to the exponents of the prevailing theology with
which, indeed, it seemed only too surely to dispense; and in Smith's
first year at Glasgow the local Presbytery set the whole University in
a ferment by prosecuting Hutcheson for teaching to his students, in
contravention of his subscription to the Westminster Confession, the
following two false and dangerous doctrines: 1st, that the standard
of moral goodness was the promotion of the happiness of others; and
2nd, that we could have a knowledge of good and evil without and prior
to a knowledge of God. This trial of course excited the profoundest
feeling among the students, and they actually made a formal appearance
before the Presbytery, and defended their hero zealously both by word
and writing. Smith, being only a bajan--a first year's student--would
play no leading part in these proceedings, but he could not have lived
in the thick of them unmoved, and he certainly--either then or
afterwards, when he entered Hutcheson's class and listened to his
lectures on natural theology, or perhaps attended his private class on
the Sundays for special theological study--adopted the religious
optimism of Hutcheson for his own creed, and continued under its
influence to the last of his days.

In politics also Hutcheson's lectures exercised important practical
influence on the general opinion of his students. The principles of
religious and political liberty were then so imperfectly comprehended
and so little accepted that their advocacy was still something of a
new light, and we are informed by one of Hutcheson's leading
colleagues, Principal Leechman, that none of his lectures made a
deeper or wider impression than his exposition of those principles,
and that very few of his pupils left his hands without being imbued
with some of the same love of liberty which animated their master.
Smith was no exception, and that deep strong love of all reasonable
liberty which characterised him must have been, if not first kindled,
at any rate quickened by his contact with Hutcheson.

Interesting traces of more specific influence remain. Dugald Stewart
seems to have heard Smith himself admit that it was Hutcheson in his
lectures that suggested to him the particular theory of the right of
property which he used to teach in his own unpublished lectures on
jurisprudence, and which founded the right of property on the general
sympathy of mankind with the reasonable expectation of the occupant
to enjoy unmolested the object which he had acquired or discovered.[9]
But it is most probable that his whole theory of moral sentiments was
suggested by the lectures of Hutcheson, perhaps the germs of it even
when he was passing through the class. For Hutcheson in the course of
his lectures expressly raises and discusses the question, Can we
reduce our moral sentiments to sympathy? He answered the question
himself in the negative, on the ground that we often approve of the
actions of people with whom we have no sympathy, our enemies for
example, and his pupil's contribution to the discussion was an
ingenious attempt to surmount that objection by the theory of sympathy
with an impartial spectator.

Hutcheson's name occurs in no history of political economy, but he
lectured systematically on that subject--as Smith himself subsequently
did--as a branch of his course on natural jurisprudence, a discussion
of contracts requiring him to examine the principles of value,
interest, currency, etc., and these lectures, though fragmentary, are
remarkable for showing a grasp of economic questions before his time,
and presenting, with a clear view of their importance, some of Smith's
most characteristic positions. He is free from the then prevailing
mercantilist fallacies about money. His remarks on value contain what
reads like a first draft of Smith's famous passage on value in use and
value in exchange. Like Smith, he holds labour to be the great source
of wealth and the true measure of value, and declares every man to
have the natural right to use his faculties according to his own
pleasure for his own ends in any work or recreation that inflicts no
injury on the persons or property of others, except when the public
interests may otherwise require. This is just Smith's system of
natural liberty in matters industrial, with a general limitation in
the public interest such as Smith also approves. In the practical
enforcement of this limitation he would impose some particular
restraints which Smith might not, but, on the other hand, he would
abolish other particular restraints which Smith, and even Quesnay,
would still retain, _e.g._ the fixing of interest by law. His doctrine
was essentially the doctrine of industrial liberty with which Smith's
name is identified, and in view of the claims set up on behalf of the
French Physiocrats that Smith learnt that doctrine in their school, it
is right to remember that he was brought into contact with it in
Hutcheson's class-room at Glasgow some twenty years before any of the
Physiocrats had written a line on the subject, and that the very first
ideas on economic subjects which were presented to his mind contained
in germ--and in very active and sufficient germ--the very doctrines
about liberty, labour, and value on which his whole system was
afterwards built.

Though Smith was a mere lad of sixteen at that time, his mind had
already, under Hutcheson's stimulating instructions, begun to work
effectively on the ideas lodged in it and to follow out their
suggestions in his own thought. Hutcheson seems to have recognised his
quality, and brought him, young though he was, under the personal
notice of David Hume. There is a letter written by Hume to Hutcheson
on the 4th of March 1740 which is not indeed without its difficulties,
but if, as Mr. Burton thinks, the Mr. Smith mentioned in it be the
economist, it would appear as if Smith had, while attending
Hutcheson's class,--whether as a class exercise or otherwise,--written
an abstract of Hume's _Treatise of Human Nature_, then recently
published, that Smith's abstract was to be sent to some periodical for
publication, and that Hume was so pleased with it that he presented
its young author with a copy of his own work. "My bookseller," Hume
writes, "has sent to Mr. Smith a copy of my book, which I hope he has
received as well as your letter. I have not yet heard what he has done
with the abstract. Perhaps you have. I have got it printed in London,
but not in the _Works of the Learned_, there having been an article
with regard to my book somewhat abusive before I sent up the
abstract." If the Mr. Smith of this letter is Adam Smith, then he must
have been away from Glasgow at that time, for Hutcheson was
communicating with him by letter, but that may possibly be explained
by the circumstance that he had been appointed to one of the Snell
exhibitions at Balliol College, Oxford, and might have gone home to
Kirkcaldy to make preparations for residence at the English
University, though he did not actually set out for it till June.

These Snell exhibitions, which were practically in the gift of the
Glasgow professors, were naturally the prize of the best student of
Glasgow College at the time they fell vacant, and they have been held
in the course of the two centuries of their existence by many
distinguished men, including Sir William Hamilton and Lockhart,
Archbishop Tait and Lord President Inglis. They were originally
founded by an old Glasgow student, a strong Episcopalian, for the
purpose of educating Scotchmen for the service of the Episcopal Church
in Scotland. By the terms of his will the holders were even to be
bound under penalty of £500 "to enter holy orders and return to serve
the Church in Scotland," and it has sometimes been concluded from that
circumstance that Smith must have accepted the Snell exhibition with a
view to the Episcopal ministry. But the original purpose of the
founder was frustrated by the Revolution settlement, which made "the
Church in Scotland" Presbyterian, and left scarce any Episcopal
remnant to serve, and the original condition has never been
practically enforced. The last attempt to impose it was made during
Smith's own tenure of the exhibition, and failed. In the year 1744 the
Vice-Chancellor and the heads of Colleges at Oxford raised a process
in the Court of Chancery for compelling the Snell exhibitioners "to
submit and conform to the doctrines and discipline of the Church of
England, and to enter into holy orders when capable thereof by the
canons of the Church of England"; but the Court of Chancery refused to
interfere, and the exhibitioners were left entirely free to choose
their sect, their profession, and their country, as seemed best to
themselves. It may be added that in Smith's time the Snell foundation
yielded five exhibitions of £40 a year each, tenable for eleven years.

Of Smith's friends among his fellow-students at Glasgow, no names have
been preserved for us except those already mentioned, Professor
Matthew Stewart, and Dr. Maclaine, the embassy chaplain at the Hague.
He continued on a footing of great intimacy with Stewart, whom, as we
have seen, he considered to be, after Robert Simson, the greatest
mathematician of his time, and he seems to have enjoyed occasional
opportunities of renewing his acquaintance with Dr. Maclaine, though
the opportunities could not have been frequent, as Maclaine spent his
whole active life abroad as English chaplain at the Hague. But the
remark made by Smith to Dr. William Thompson, a historical writer of
the last century, seems to imply his having had some intercourse with
his early friend. Thompson, Dr. Watson the historian of Philip II.,
and Dr. Maclaine, seem all to have been writing the history of the
Peace of Utrecht, and Smith, who knew all three, said Watson was much
afraid of Maclaine, and Maclaine was just as much afraid of Watson,
but he could have told them of one they had much more cause to fear,
and that was Thompson himself.


[8] _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, i. 313.

[9] Stewart's _Works,_ vii. 263.



1740-1746. _Aet._ 17-23

Smith left Scotland for Oxford in June 1740, riding the whole way on
horseback, and, as he told Samuel Rogers many years afterwards, being
much struck from the moment he crossed the Border with the richness of
the country he was entering, and the great superiority of its
agriculture over that of his own country. Scotch agriculture was not
born in 1740, even in the Lothians; the face of the country everywhere
was very bare and waste, and, as he was rather pointedly reminded on
the day of his arrival at Oxford, even its cattle were still lean and
poor, compared with the fat oxen of England. Among the stories told of
his absence of mind is one he is said by a writer in the _Monthly
Review_ to have been fond of relating himself whenever a particular
joint appeared on his own table. The first day he dined in the hall at
Balliol he fell into a reverie at table and for a time forgot his
meal, whereupon the servitor roused him to attention, telling him he
had better fall to, because he had never seen such a piece of beef in
Scotland as the joint then before him. His nationality, as will
presently appear, occasioned him worse trouble at Oxford than this
good-natured gibe.

He matriculated at the University on the 7th of July. Professor
Thorold Rogers, who has collected the few particulars that can now be
learned of Smith's residence at Oxford from official records, gives us
the matriculation entry: "Adamus Smith e Coll. Ball., Gen. Fil. Jul.
7mo 1740,"[10] and mentions that it is written in a round school-boy
hand--a style of hand, we may add, which Smith retained to the last.
He has himself said that literary composition never grew easier to him
with experience; neither apparently did handwriting. His letters are
all written in the same big round characters, connected together
manifestly by a slow, difficult, deliberate process.

He remained at Oxford till the 15th of August 1746; after that day his
name appears no longer in the Buttery Books of the College; but up
till that day he resided at Oxford continuously from the time of his
matriculation. He did not leave between terms, and was thus six years
on end away from home. A journey to Scotland was in those days a
serious and expensive undertaking; it would have taken more than half
Smith's exhibition of £40 to pay for the posting alone of a trip to
Kirkcaldy and back. When Professor Rouet of Glasgow was sent up to
London a few years later to push on the tedious twenty years' lawsuit
between Glasgow College and Balliol about the Snell exhibitions, the
single journey cost him £11:15s., exclusive of personal expenses, for
which he was allowed 6s. 8d. a day.[11] Now Smith out of his £40 a
year had to pay about £30 for his food; Mr. Rogers mentions that his
first quarter's maintenance came to £7:5s., about the usual cost of
living, he adds, at Oxford at that period. Then the tutors, though
they seem to have ceased to do any tutoring, still took their fees of
20s. a quarter all the same, and Smith's remaining £5 would be little
enough to meet other items of necessary expenditure. It appears from
Salmon's _Present State of the Universities_, published in 1744,
during Smith's residence at Oxford, that an Oxford education then cost
£32 a year as a minimum, but that there was scarce a commoner in the
University who spent less than £60.

Smith's name does not appear in Bliss's list of Oxford graduates, and
although in Mr. Foster's recent _Alumni Oxonienses_ other particulars
are given about him, no mention is made of his graduation; but
Professor Rogers has discovered evidence in the Buttery Books of
Balliol which seems conclusively to prove that Smith actually took the
degree of B.A., whatever may be the explanation of the apparent
omission of his name from the official graduation records. In those
Buttery Books he is always styled Dominus from and after the week
ending 13th April 1744. Now Dominus was the usual designation of a
B.A., and in April 1744 Smith would have kept the sixteen terms that
were then, we may say, the only qualification practically necessary
for that degree. He had possibly omitted some step requisite for the
formal completion of the graduation.

Smith's residence at Oxford fell in a time when learning lay there
under a long and almost total eclipse. This dark time seems to have
lasted most of that century. Crousaz visited Oxford about the
beginning of the century and found the dons as ignorant of the new
philosophy as the savages of the South Sea. Bishop Butler came there
as a student twenty years afterwards, and could get nothing to satisfy
his young thirst for knowledge except "frivolous lectures" and
"unintelligible disputations." A generation later he could not even
have got that; for Smith tells us in the _Wealth of Nations_ that the
lecturers had then given up all pretence of lecturing, and a foreign
traveller, who describes a public disputation he attended at Oxford in
1788, says the Præses Respondent and three Opponents all sat consuming
the statutory time in profound silence, absorbed in the novel of the
hour. Gibbon, who resided there not long after Smith, tells that his
tutor neither gave nor sought to give him more than one lesson, and
that the conversation of the common-room, to which as a gentleman
commoner he was privileged to listen, never touched any point of
literature or scholarship, but "stagnated in a round of College
business, Tory politics, personal anecdotes, and private scandal."
Bentham, a few years after Gibbon, has the same tale to tell; it was
absolutely impossible to learn anything at Oxford, and the years he
spent there were the most barren and unprofitable of his life. Smith's
own account of the English universities in the _Wealth of Nations_,
though only published in 1776, was substantially true of Oxford during
his residence there thirty years before. Every word of it is endorsed
by Gibbon as the word of "a moral and political sage who had himself
resided at Oxford." Now, according to that account, nobody was then
taught, or could so much as find "the proper means of being taught,
the sciences which it is the business of those incorporated bodies to
teach." The lecturers had ceased lecturing; "the tutors contented
themselves with teaching a few unconnected shreds and parcels" of the
old unimproved traditionary course, "and even these they commonly
taught very negligently and superficially"; being paid independently
of their personal industry, and being responsible only to one another,
"every man consented that his neighbour might neglect his duty
provided he himself were allowed to neglect his own"; and the general
consequence was a culpable dislike to improvement and indifference to
all new ideas, which made a rich and well-endowed university the
"sanctuary in which exploded systems and obsolete prejudices find
shelter and protection after they have been hunted out of every corner
of the world." Coming up from a small university in the North, which
was cultivating letters with such remarkable spirit on its little
oatmeal wisely dispensed, Smith concluded that the stagnation of
learning which prevailed in the wealthy universities of England was
due at bottom to nothing but their wealth, because it was distributed
on a bad system.

Severely, however, as Smith has censured the order of things he found
prevailing at Oxford, it is worthy of notice that he never, like
Gibbon and Bentham, thought of the six years he spent there as being
wasted. Boswell and others have pronounced him ungrateful for the
censures he deemed meet to pass upon that order of things, but that
charge is of course unreasonable, because the censures were undeniably
true and undeniably useful, and I refer to it here merely to point out
that as a matter of fact Smith not only felt, but has publicly
expressed, gratitude for his residence at the University of Oxford. He
does so in his letter to the Principal of Glasgow College in 1787
accepting the Rectorship, when in enumerating the claims which Glasgow
College had upon his grateful regard, he expressly mentions the fact
that it had sent him as a student to Oxford. In truth, his time was
not wasted at Oxford. He did not allow it to be wasted. He read deeply
and widely in many subjects and in many languages; he read and thought
for six years, and for that best kind of education the negligence of
tutors and lecturers, such as they then were, was probably better than
their assiduity.

For this business of quiet reading Smith seems to have been happily
situated in Balliol. Balliol was not then a reading college as it is
now. A claim is set up in behalf of some of the other Oxford colleges
that they kept the lamp of learning lit even in the darkest days of
last century, but Balliol is not one of them. It was chiefly known in
that age for the violence of its Jacobite opinions. Only a few months
after Smith left it a party of Balliol students celebrated the
birthday of Cardinal York in the College, and rushing out into the
streets, mauled every Hanoverian they met, and created such a serious
riot that they were sentenced to two years' imprisonment for it by the
Court of King's Bench; but for this grave offence the master of the
College, Dr. Theophilus Leigh, and the other authorities, had thought
the culprits entitled to indulgence on account of the anniversary they
were celebrating, and had decided that the case would be sufficiently
met by a Latin imposition. If Balliol, however, was not more
enlightened than any of the other colleges of the day, it had one
great advantage, it possessed one of the best college libraries at
Oxford. The Bodleian was not then open to any member of the University
under the rank of a bachelor of arts of two years' standing, and Smith
was only a bachelor of arts of two years' standing for a few months
before he finally quitted Oxford. He could therefore have made little
use of the Bodleian and its then unrivalled treasures, but in his own
college library at Balliol he was allowed free range, and availed
himself of his privilege with only too great assiduity, to the injury
of his health.

His studies took a new turn at Oxford; he laid aside the mathematics
for which he showed a liking at Glasgow, and gave his strength to the
ancient Latin and Greek classics, possibly for no better reason than
that he could get nobody at Oxford to take the trouble of teaching him
the former, and that the Balliol library furnished him with the means
of cultivating the latter by himself. He did so, moreover, to some
purpose, for all through life he showed a knowledge of Greek and Latin
literature not only uncommonly extensive but uncommonly exact. Dalzel,
the professor of Greek at Edinburgh, was one of Smith's most intimate
friends during those latter years of his life when he was generally
found with one of the classical authors before him, in conformity with
his theory that the best amusement of age was to renew acquaintance
with the writers who were the delight of one's youth; and Dalzel used
always to speak to Dugald Stewart with the greatest admiration of the
readiness and accuracy with which Smith remembered the works of the
Greek authors, and even of the mastery he exhibited over the niceties
of Greek grammar.[12] This knowledge must of course have been acquired
at Oxford. Smith had read the Italian poets greatly too, and could
quote them easily; and he paid special care to the French classics on
account of their style, spending much time indeed, we are told, in
trying to improve his own style by translating their writings into

There was only one fruit in the garden of which he might not freely
eat, and that was the productions of modern rationalism. A story has
come down which, though not mentioned by Dugald Stewart, is stated by
M'Culloch to rest on the best authority, and by Dr. Strang of Glasgow
to have been often told by Smith himself, to the effect that he was
one day detected reading Hume's _Treatise of Human Nature_--probably
the very copy presented him by the author at the apparent suggestion
of Hutcheson--and was punished by a severe reprimand and the
confiscation of the evil book. It is at least entirely consistent with
all we know of the spirit of darkness then ruling in Oxford that it
should be considered an offence of peculiar aggravation for a student
to read a great work of modern thought which had been actually placed
in his hands by his professor at Glasgow, and the only wonder is that
Smith escaped so lightly, for but a few years before three students
were expelled from Oxford for coquetting with Deism, and a fourth, of
whom better hopes seem to have been formed, had his degree deferred
for two years, and was required in the interval to translate into
Latin as a reformatory exercise the whole of Leslie's _Short and Easy
Method with the Deists_.[13]

Except for the great resource of study, Smith's life at Oxford seems
not to have been a very happy one. For one thing, he was in poor
health and spirits a considerable part of the time, as appears from
the brief extracts from his letters published by Lord Brougham. When
Brougham was writing his account of Smith he got the use of a number
of letters written by the latter to his mother from Oxford between
1740 and 1746, which probably exist somewhere still, but which, he
found, contained nothing of any general interest. "They are almost
all," he says, "upon mere family and personal matters, most of them
indeed upon his linen and other such necessaries, but all show his
strong affection for his mother." The very brief extracts Brougham
makes from them, however, inform us that Smith was then suffering from
what he calls "an inveterate scurvy and shaking in the head," for
which he was using the new remedy of tar-water which Bishop Berkeley
had made the fashionable panacea for all manner of diseases. At the
end of July 1744 Smith says to his mother: "I am quite inexcusable for
not writing to you oftener. I think of you every day, but always defer
writing till the post is just going, and then sometimes business or
company, but oftener laziness, hinders me. Tar-water is a remedy very
much in vogue here at present for almost all diseases. It has
perfectly cured me of an inveterate scurvy and shaking in the head. I
wish you'd try it. I fancy it might be of service to you." In another
and apparently subsequent letter, however, he states that he had had
the scurvy and shaking as long as he remembered anything, and that the
tar-water had not removed them. On the 29th of November 1743 he makes
the curious confession: "I am just recovered from a violent fit of
laziness, which has confined me to my elbow-chair these three
months."[14] Brougham thinks these statements show symptoms of
hypochondria; but they probably indicate no more than the ordinary
lassitude and exhaustion ensuing from overwork. Hume, when about the
same age, had by four or five years' hard reading thrown himself into
a like condition, and makes the same complaints of "laziness of
temper" and scurvy. The shaking in the head continued to attend Smith
all his days.

But low health was only one of the miseries of his estate at Oxford.
There is reason to believe that Balliol College was in his day a
stepmother to her Scotch sons, and that their existence there was made
very uncomfortable not merely at the hands of the mob of young
gentlemen among whom they were obliged to live, but even more by the
unfair and discriminating harshness of the College authorities
themselves. Out of the hundred students then residing at Balliol,
eight at least were Scotch, four on the Snell foundation and four on
the Warner, and the Scotch eight seem to have been always treated as
an alien and intrusive faction. The Snell exhibitioners were
continually complaining to the Glasgow Senatus on the subject, and the
Glasgow Senatus thought them perfectly justified in complaining. In a
letter of 22nd May 1776, in which they go over the whole long story of
grievances, the Glasgow Senatus tell the Master and Fellows of Balliol
plainly that the Scotch students had never been "welcomely received"
at Balliol, and had never been happy there. If an English
undergraduate committed a fault, the authorities never thought of
blaming any one but himself, but when one of the eight Scotch
undergraduates did so, his sin was remembered against all the other
seven, and reflections were cast on the whole body; "a circumstance,"
add the Senatus, "which has been much felt during their residence at
Balliol." Their common resentment against the injustice of this kind
of tribal accountability that was imposed on them naturally provoked a
common resistance; it developed "a spirit of association," say the
Senatus, which "has at all periods been a cause of much trouble both
to Balliol and to Glasgow Colleges."[15] In 1744, when Smith himself
was one of them, the Snell exhibitioners wrote an account of their
grievances to the Glasgow Senatus, and stated "what they wanted to be
done towards making their residence more easy and advantageous";[16]
and in 1753, when some of Smith's contemporaries would still be on the
foundation, Dr. Leigh, the master of Balliol, tells the Glasgow
Senatus that he had ascertained in an interview with one of the Snell
exhibitioners that what they wanted was to be transferred to some
other college, because they had "a total dislike to Balliol."[17]

This idea of a transference, I may be allowed to add, continued to be
mooted, and in 1776 it was actually proposed by the heads of Balliol
to the Senatus of Glasgow to transfer the Snell foundationers
altogether to Hertford College; but the Glasgow authorities thought
this would be merely a transference of the troubles, and not a remedy
for them, that the exhibitioners would get no better welcome at
Hertford than at Balliol if they came as "fixed property" instead of
coming as volunteers, and that they could never lose their national
peculiarities of dialect and their habits of combination if they came
in a body. Accordingly, in the letter of 22nd May 1776, which I have
already quoted,[18] they recommended the arrangement of leaving each
exhibitioner to choose his own college,--an arrangement, it may be
remembered, which had just then been strongly advocated as a general
principle by Smith in his newly-published _Wealth of the Nations_, on
the broader ground that it would encourage a wholesome competition
between the colleges, and so improve the character of the instruction
given in them all.

Now if the daily relations between the Scotch exhibitioners at Balliol
and the authorities and general members of the College were of the
unhappy description partially revealed in this correspondence, that
may possibly afford some explanation of what must otherwise seem the
entirely unaccountable circumstance that Smith, so far as we are able
to judge, made almost no permanent friends at Oxford. Few men were
ever by nature more entirely formed for friendship than Smith. At
every other stage of his history we invariably find him surrounded by
troops of friends, and deriving from their company his chief solace
and delight. But here he is six or seven years at Oxford, at the
season of manhood when the deepest and most lasting friendships of a
man's life are usually made, and yet we never see him in all his
subsequent career holding an hour's intercourse by word or letter with
any single Oxford contemporary except Bishop Douglas of Salisbury, and
Bishop Douglas had been a Snell exhibitioner himself. With Douglas,
moreover, he had many other ties. Douglas was a Fifeshire man, and may
possibly have been a kinsman more or less remote; he was a friend of
Hume and Robertson, and all Smith's Edinburgh friends; and he was,
like Smith again, a member of the famous Literary Club of London, and
is celebrated in that character by Goldsmith in the poem
"Retaliation," as "the scourge of impostors, the terror of quacks." I
have gone over the names of those who might be Smith's contemporaries
at Balliol as they appear in Mr. Foster's list of _Alumni Oxonienses_,
and they were a singularly undistinguished body of people. Smith and
Douglas themselves are indeed the only two of them who seem to have
made any mark in the world at all.

An allusion has been made to the Scottish dialect of the Snell
exhibitioners; it may be mentioned that Smith seems to have lost the
broad Scotch at Oxford without, like Jeffrey, contracting the narrow
English; at any rate Englishmen, who visited Smith after visiting
Robertson or Blair, were struck with the pure and correct English he
spoke in private conversation, and he appears to have done so without
giving any impression of constraint.

Smith returned to Scotland in August 1746, but his name remained on
the Oxford books for some months after his departure, showing
apparently that he had not on leaving come to a final determination
against going back. His friends at home are said to have been most
anxious that he should continue at Oxford; that would naturally seem
to open to him the best opportunities either in the ecclesiastical
career for which they are believed to have destined him, or in the
university career for which nature herself designed him. But both
careers were practically barred against him by his objection to taking
holy orders, the great majority of the Oxford Fellowships being at
that time only granted upon condition of ordination, and Smith
concluded that the best prospect for him was after all the road back
to Scotland. And he never appears to have set foot in Oxford again.
When he became Professor at Glasgow he was the medium of intercourse
between the Glasgow Senate and the Balliol authorities, but beyond the
occasional interchange of letters which this business required, his
relations with the Southern University appear to have continued
completely suspended. Nor did Oxford, on her part, ever show any
interest in him. Even after he had become perhaps her greatest living
alumnus, she did not offer him the ordinary honour of a doctor's


[10] Rogers's edition of the _Wealth of Nations_, I. vii.

[11] Laing MSS., Edinburgh University.

[12] Stewart's _Life of Adam Smith_, p. 8.

[13] Tyerman's _Wesley_, i. 66.

[14] Brougham, _Men of Letters_, ii. 216.

[15] Letter from Senatus of Glasgow College to Balliol College, in
Laing MSS., Edinburgh University.

[16] Letter of A.G. Ross of Gray's Inn to Professor R. Simson,
Glasgow, in Edinburgh University Library.

[17] Laing MSS., Edinburgh University.

[18] Edinburgh University Library.



1748-1750. _Aet._ 25-27

In returning to Scotland Smith's ideas were probably fixed from the
first on a Scotch university chair as an eventual acquisition, but he
thought in the meantime to obtain employment of the sort he afterwards
gave up his chair to take with the Duke of Buccleugh, a travelling
tutorship with a young man of rank and wealth, then a much-desired
and, according to the standard of the times, a highly-remunerated
occupation. While casting about for a place of that kind he stayed at
home with his mother in Kirkcaldy, and he had to remain there without
any regular employment for two full years, from the autumn of 1746
till the autumn of 1748. The appointment never came; because from his
absent manner and bad address, we are told, he seemed to the ordinary
parental mind a most unsuitable person to be entrusted with the care
of spirited and perhaps thoughtless young gentlemen. But the visits he
paid to Edinburgh in pursuit of this work bore fruit by giving him
quite as good a start in life, and a much shorter cut to the
professorial position for which he was best fitted. During the winter
of 1748-49 he made a most successful beginning as a public lecturer by
delivering a course on the then comparatively untried subject of
English literature, and gave at the same time a first contribution to
English literature himself by collecting and editing the poems of
William Hamilton of Bangour. For both these undertakings he was
indebted to the advice and good offices of Lord Kames, or, as he then
was, Mr. Henry Home, one of the leaders of the Edinburgh bar, with
whom he was made acquainted, we may safely assume, by his friend and
neighbour, James Oswald of Dunnikier, whom we know to have been among
Kames's most intimate friends and correspondents. Kames, though now
fifty-two, had not yet written any of the works which raised him
afterwards to eminence, but he had long enjoyed in the literary
society of the North something of that position which Voltaire laughs
at him for trying to take towards the world in general; he was a law
on all questions of taste, from an epic poem to a garden plot. He had
little Latin and no Greek, for he never was at college, and the
classical quotations in his _Sketches_ were translated for him by A.F.
Tytler. But he had thrown himself with all the greater zeal on that
account into English literature when English literature became the
rage in Scotland after the Union, and he was soon crossing steel with
Bishop Butler in metaphysics, and the accepted guide of the new Scotch
poets in literary criticism. Hamilton of Bangour confesses that he

    From Hume learned verse to criticise,

the Hume meant being his early friend, Henry Home of Kames, and not
his later friend, David Hume the historian.[19] Home's place in the
literature of Scotland corresponds with his place in its agriculture;
he was the first of the improvers; and Smith, who always held him in
the deepest veneration, was not wrong when, on being complimented on
the group of great writers who were then reflecting glory on Scotland,
he said, "Yes, but we must every one of us acknowledge Kames for our

When Home found Smith already as well versed in the English classics
as himself, he suggested the delivery of this course of lectures on
English literature and criticism. The subject was fresh, it was
fashionable, and though Stevenson, the Professor of Logic, had already
lectured on it, and lectured on it in English too to his class, nobody
had yet given lectures on it open to the general public, whose
interest it had at the moment so much engaged. The success of such a
course seemed assured, and the event fully justified that
prognostication. The class was attended among others by Kames himself;
by students for the bar, like Alexander Wedderburn, afterwards Lord
Chancellor of England, and William Johnstone, who long played an
influential part in Parliament as Sir William Pulteney; by young
ministers of the city like Dr. Blair, who subsequently gave a similar
course himself; and by many others, both young and old. It brought
Smith in, we are informed, a clear £100 sterling, and if we assume
that the fee was a guinea, which was a customary fee at the period,
the audience would be something better than a hundred. It was probably
held in the College, for Blair's subsequent course was delivered there
even before the establishment of any formal connection with the
University by the creation of the professorship.

The lectures Smith then delivered on English literature were burnt at
his own request shortly before his death. Blair, who not only heard
them at the time, but got the use of them--or, at least, of part of
them--afterwards for the preparation of his own lectures on rhetoric,
speaks as if there was some hope at one time that Smith would publish
them, but if he ever entertained such an intention, he was too
entirely preoccupied with work of greater importance and interest to
himself to obtain leisure to put them into shape for publication. It
has been suggested that they are practically reproduced in the
lectures of Blair. Blair acknowledges having taken a few hints for his
treatment of simplicity in style from the manuscript of Smith's
lectures. His words are: "On this head, of the general characters of
style, particularly the plain and the simple, and the characters of
those English authors who are classed under them, in this and the
following lecture, several ideas have been taken from a manuscript
treatise on rhetoric, part of which was shown to me many years ago by
the learned and ingenious author, Dr. Adam Smith; and which it is
hoped will be given by him to the public."[21] Now many of Smith's
friends considered this acknowledgment far from adequate, and Hill,
the biographer of Blair, says Smith himself joined in their complaint.
It is very unlikely that Smith ever joined in any such complaint, for
Henry Mackenzie told Samuel Rogers an anecdote which conveys an
entirely contrary impression. Mackenzie was speaking of Smith's wealth
of conversation, and telling how he often used to say to him, "Sir,
you have said enough to make a book," and he then mentioned that Blair
frequently introduced into his sermons some of Smith's thoughts on
jurisprudence, which he had gathered from his conversation, and that
he himself had told the circumstance to Smith. "He is very welcome,"
was the economist's answer; "there is enough left."[22] And if Smith
made Blair welcome to his thoughts on jurisprudence, a subject on
which he intended to publish a work of his own, we may be certain he
made him not less heartily welcome to his thoughts on literature and
style, on which he probably entertained no similar intention. Besides,
if we judge from the two chapters regarding which he owns his
obligation to Smith, Blair does not seem to have borrowed anything but
what was the commonest of property already. He took only what his
superficial mind had the power of taking, and the pith of Smith's
thinking must have been left behind. To borrow even a hat to any
purpose, the two heads must be something of a size.

We cannot suppose, therefore, that we have any proper representation
or reflection of Smith's literary lectures in the lectures of Blair,
but it would be quite possible still, if it were desired, to collect a
not inadequate view of his literary opinions from incidental remarks
contained in his writings or preserved by friends from recollections
of his conversation. Wordsworth, in the preface to the _Lyrical
Ballads_, calls him "the worst critic, David Hume excepted, that
Scotland, a soil to which this sort of weed seems natural, has
produced," and his judgments will certainly not be confirmed by the
taste of the present time. He preferred the classical to the romantic
school. He thought with Voltaire that Shakespeare had written good
scenes but not a good play, and that though he had more dramatic
genius than Dryden, Dryden was the greater poet. He thought little of
Milton's minor poems, and less of the old ballads collected by Percy,
but he had great admiration for Pope, believed Gray, if he had only
written a little more, would have been the greatest poet in the
English language, and thought Racine's _Phædrus_ the finest tragedy
extant in any language in the world. His own great test of literary
beauty was the principle he lays down in his Essay on the Imitative
Arts, that the beauty is always in the proportion of the difficulty
perceived to be overcome.

Smith seems at this early period of his life to have had dreams of
some day figuring as a poet himself, and his extensive familiarity
with the poets always struck Dugald Stewart as very remarkable in a
man so conspicuous for the weight of his more solid attainments. "In
the English language," says Stewart, "the variety of poetical passages
which he was not only accustomed to refer to occasionally, but which
he was able to repeat with correctness, appeared surprising even to
those whose attention had never been attracted to more important
acquisitions." The tradition of Smith's early ambition to be a poet is
only preserved in an allusion in Caleb Colton's "Hypocrisy," but it
receives a certain support from a remark of Smith's own in
conversation with a young friend in his later years. Colton's allusion
runs as follows:--

    Unused am I the Muse's path to tread,
    And curs'd with Adam's unpoetic head,
    Who, though that pen he wielded in his hand
    Ordain'd the _Wealth of Nations_ to command;
    Yet when on Helicon he dar'd to draw,
    His draft return'd and unaccepted saw.
    If thus like him we lay a rune in vain,
    Like him we'll strive some humbler prize to gain.

Smith's own confession is contained in a report of some conversations
given in the _Bee_ for 1791. He was speaking about blank verse, to
which he always had a dislike, as we know from an interesting incident
mentioned by Boswell. Boswell, who attended Smith's lectures on
English literature at Glasgow College in 1759, told Johnson four years
after that Smith had pronounced a strong opinion in these lectures
against blank verse and in favour of rhyme--always, no doubt, on the
same principle that the greater the difficulty the greater the beauty.
This delighted the heart of Johnson, and he said, "Sir, I was once in
company with Smith, and we did not take to each other, but had I known
that he loved rhyme as much as you tell me he does, I should have
hugged him." Twenty years later Smith was again expressing to the
anonymous interviewer of the _Bee_ his unabated contempt for all blank
verse except Milton's, and he said that though he could never find a
single rhyme in his life, he could make blank verse as fast as he
could speak. "Blank verse," he said; "they do well to call it blank,
for blank it is. I myself even, who never could find a single rhyme in
my life, could make blank verse as fast as I could speak." The critic
would thus appear here again to have been the poet who has failed,
though in this case he had the sense to discover the failure without
tempting the judgment of the public.

Indeed he had already begun to discover his true vocation, for besides
his lectures on English literature, which he delivered for three
successive winters, he delivered at least one winter a course on
economics; and in this course, written in the year 1749, and delivered
in the year 1750-51, Smith advocated the doctrines of commercial
liberty on which he was nurtured by Hutcheson, and which he was
afterwards to do so much to advance. He states this fact himself in a
paper read before a learned society in Glasgow in 1755, which
afterwards fell into the hands of Dugald Stewart, and from which
Stewart extracts a passage or two, which I shall quote in a subsequent
chapter. They certainly contain a plain enough statement of the
doctrine of natural liberty; and Smith says that a great part of the
opinions contained in the paper were "treated of at length in some
lectures which I have still by me, and which were written in the hand
of a clerk who left my service six years ago"--that is, in 1749--and
adds that "they had all of them been the subjects of lectures which I
read at Edinburgh the winter before I left it, and I can adduce
innumerable witnesses both from that place and from this who will
ascertain them sufficiently to be mine."[23] These ideas of natural
liberty in industrial affairs were actively at work, not only in
Smith's own mind, but in the minds of others in his immediate circle
in Scotland in those years 1749 and 1750. David Hume and James Oswald
were then corresponding on the subject, and though it is doubtful
whether Smith had seen much or anything of Hume personally at that
time (for Hume had been abroad with General St. Clair part of it, and
did not live in Edinburgh after his return), it was in those and the
two previous years that Smith was first brought into real intellectual
contact with his friend and townsman, James Oswald.

Oswald, it may be mentioned, though still a young man--only eight
years older than Smith--had already made his mark in Parliament where
he sat for their native burgh, and had been made a Commissioner of the
Navy in 1745. He had made his mark largely by his mastery of economic
subjects, for which Hume said, after paying him a visit at Dunnikier
for a week in 1744, that he had a "great genius," and "would go far in
that way if he persevered." He became afterwards commissioner of trade
and plantations, Lord of the Treasury, and Vice-Treasurer of Ireland,
and would have certainly gone further but for his premature death in
1768 at the age of fifty-two. Lord Shelburne once strongly advised
Lord Bute to make him Chancellor of the Exchequer. Smith thought as
highly of Oswald as Hume. He used to "dilate," says Oswald's grandson,
who heard him, "with a generous and enthusiastic pleasure on the
qualifications and merits of Mr. Oswald, candidly avowing at the same
time how much information he had received on many points from the
enlarged views and profound knowledge of that accomplished
statesman."[24] Dugald Stewart saw a paper written by Smith which
described Oswald not only as a man of extensive knowledge of economic
subjects, but a man with a special taste and capacity for the
discussion of their more general and philosophical aspects. That
paper, we cannot help surmising, is the same document of 1755 I have
just mentioned in which Smith was proving his early attachment to the
doctrines of economic liberty, and would naturally treat of
circumstances connected with the growth of his opinions. However that
may be, it is certain that Smith and Oswald must have been in
communication upon economic questions about that period, and Oswald's
views at that period are contained in the correspondence to which
reference has been made.

Early in 1750 David Hume sent Oswald the manuscript of his well-known
essay on the Balance of Trade, afterwards published in his _Political
Essays_ in 1752, asking for his views and criticisms; and Oswald
replied on the 10th of October in a long letter, published in the
_Caldwell Papers_,[25] which shows him to have been already entirely
above the prevailing mercantilist prejudices, and to have very clear
conceptions of economic operations. He declares jealousies between
nations of being drained of their produce and money to be quite
irrational; that could never happen as long as the people and industry
remained. The prohibition against exporting commodities and money, he
held, had always produced effects directly contrary to what was
intended by it. It had diminished cultivation at home instead of
increasing it, and really forced the more money out of the country the
more produce it prevented from going. Oswald's letter seems to have
been sent on by Hume, together with his own essay, to Baron Mure, who
was also interested in such discussions. The new light was thus
breaking in on groups of inquirers in Scotland as well as elsewhere,
and Smith was from his earliest days within its play.

Amid the more serious labours of these literary and economic lectures,
it would be an agreeable relaxation to collect and edit the scattered
poems, published and unpublished, of Hamilton of Bangour, the author
of what Wordsworth calls the "exquisite ballad" of "The Braes o'
Yarrow," beginning--

    Busk ye, busk ye, my bonny, bonny bride,
      Busk ye, busk ye, my winsome marrow,
    Busk ye, busk ye, my bonny, bonny bride,
      And think no more on the Braes o' Yarrow.

This ballad had appeared in Allan Ramsay's _Tea-Table Miscellany_ so
long ago as 1724, and it was followed by Hamilton's most ambitious
effort, the poem "Contemplation," in 1739, but the general public of
Scotland only seem to have awakened to their merits after the poet
espoused the Jacobite cause in 1745, and celebrated the victory of
Prestonpans by his "Ode to the Battle of Gladsmuir"--the name the
Jacobites preferred to give the battle. This ode, which had been set
to music by M'Gibbon, became a great favourite in Jacobite households,
and created so much popular interest in the author's other works that
imperfect versions of some of his unpublished poems, and even of those
which were already in print, began to appear. The author was himself
an outlaw, and could not intervene. The ode which had lifted him into
popularity had at the same time driven him into exile, and he was then
living with a little group of young Scotch refugees at Rouen, and
completely shattered in bodily health by his three months' hiding
among the Grampians. Under those circumstances his friends thought it
advisable to forestall the pirated and imperfect collections of his
poems which were in contemplation by publishing as complete and
correct an edition of them as could possibly be done in the absence of
the author. And this edition was issued from the famous Foulis press
in Glasgow in 1748. In doing so they acted, as they avow in the
preface, "not only without the author's consent, but without his
knowledge," but it is absurd to call an edition published under those
circumstances, as the new _Dictionary of National Biography_ calls it,
a "surreptitious edition." It was published by the poet's closest
personal friends as a protection for the poet's reputation, and
perhaps as a plea for his pardon.

The task of collecting and editing the poems was entrusted to Adam
Smith. We are informed of this fact by the accurate and learned David
Laing, and though Laing has not imparted his authority for the
information, it receives a certain circumstantial corroboration from
other quarters. We find Smith in the enjoyment of a very rapid
intimacy with Hamilton during the two brief years the poet resided in
Scotland between receiving the royal pardon in 1750 and flying again
in 1752 from a more relentless enemy than kings--the fatal malady of
consumption, from which he died two years later at Lyons. Sir John
Dalrymple, the historian, speaks in a letter to Robert Foulis, the
printer, of "the many happy and flattering hours which he (Smith) had
spent with Mr. Hamilton." We find again that when Hamilton's friends
propose to print a second edition of the poems, they come to Smith for
assistance. This edition was published in 1758, and is dedicated to
the memory of William Craufurd, merchant, Glasgow, a friend of the
poet mentioned in the preface to the first edition as having supplied
many of the previously unpublished pieces which it contained. Craufurd
appears to have been an uncle of Sir John Dalrymple, and Sir John asks
Foulis to get Smith to write this dedication. "Sir," says he, in
December 1757, "I have changed my mind about the dedication of Mr.
Hamilton's poems. I would have it stand 'the friend of William
Hamilton,' but I assent to your opinion to have something more to
express Mr. Craufurd's character. I know none so able to do this as my
friend Mr. Smith. I beg it, therefore, earnestly that he will write
the inscription, and with all the elegance and all the feelingness
which he above the rest of mankind is able to express. This is a thing
that touches me very nearly, and therefore I beg a particular answer
as to what he says to it. The many happy and the many flattering hours
which he has spent with Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Craufurd makes me think
that he will account his usual indolence a crime upon this occasion. I
beg you will make my excuse for not wryting him this night, but then I
consider wryting to you upon this head to be wryting to him."[26] It
is unlikely that Smith would resist an appeal like this, and the
dedication bears some internal marks of his authorship. It describes
Mr. Craufurd as "the friend of Mr. Hamilton, who to that exact
frugality, that downright probity and pliancy of manners so suitable
to his profession, joined a love of learning and of all the ingenious
arts, an openness of hand and a generosity of heart that was far both
from vanity and from weakness, and a magnanimity that would support,
under the prospect of approaching and inevitable death, a most
torturing pain of body with an unalterable cheerfulness of temper, and
without once interrupting even to his last hour the most manly and the
most vigorous activity of business." This William Craufurd is
confounded by Lord Woodhouselee, and through him by others, with
Robert Crauford, the author of "The Bush aboon Traquair," "Tweedside,"
and other poems, who was also an intimate friend of Hamilton of
Bangour, but died in 1732.

Another link in the circumstantial evidence corroborating David
Laing's statement is the fact that Smith was certainly at the moment
in communication with Hamilton's personal friends, at whose instance
the volume of poems was published. Kames, who was then interesting
himself so actively in Smith's advancement, was the closest surviving
friend Hamilton possessed. They had been constant companions in youth,
leading spirits of that new school of dandies called "the
beaux"--young men at once of fashion and of letters--who adorned
Scotch society between the Rebellions, and continued to adorn many an
after-dinner table in Edinburgh down till the present century.
Hamilton owns that it was Kames who first taught him "verse to
criticise," and wrote to him the poem "To H.H. at the Assembly"; while
Kames for his part used in his old age, as his neighbour Ramsay of
Ochtertyre informs us, to have no greater enjoyment than recounting
the scenes and doings he and Hamilton had transacted together in those
early days, of which the poet himself writes, when they "kept
friendship's holy vigil" in the subterranean taverns of old Edinburgh
"full many a fathom deep."


[19] Home and Hume, it may be mentioned, are only different ways of
spelling the same name, which, though differently spelt, was not
differently pronounced.

[20] Tytler's _Life of Kames_, i. 218.

[21] Blair's _Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles-Lettres_, i. 381.

[22] Clayden's _Early Life of Samuel Rogers_, p. 168.

[23] Stewart's _Works_, ed. Hamilton, vol. x. p. 68.

[24] _Correspondence of James Oswald_, Preface.

[25] _Caldwell Papers_, i. 93.

[26] Duncan's _Notes and Documents illustrative of the Literary
History of Glasgow_, p. 25.



1751-1764. _Aet._ 27-40

The Edinburgh lectures soon bore fruit. On the death of Mr. Loudon,
Professor of Logic in Glasgow College, in 1750, Smith was appointed to
the vacant chair, and so began that period of thirteen years of active
academic work which he always looked back upon, he tells us, "as by
far the most useful and therefore by far the happiest and most
honourable period" of his life. The appointment lay with the
Senatus--or, more strictly, with a section of the Senatus known as the
Faculty Professors--some of whom, of course, had been his own teachers
ten years before, and knew him well; and the minutes state that the
choice was unanimous. He was elected on the 9th of January 1751, and
was admitted to the office on the 16th, after reading a dissertation
_De origine idearum_, signing the Westminster Confession of Faith
before the Presbytery of Glasgow, and taking the usual oath _De
fideli_ to the University authorities; but he did not begin work till
the opening of the next session in October. His engagements in
Edinburgh did not permit of his undertaking his duties in Glasgow
earlier, and his classes were accordingly conducted, with the sanction
of the Senatus, by Dr. Hercules Lindsay, the Professor of
Jurisprudence, as his substitute, from the beginning of January till
the end of June. During this interval Smith went through to Glasgow
repeatedly to attend meetings of the Senatus, but he does not appear
to have given any lectures to the students. If he was relieved of his
duties in the summer, however, he worked double tides during the
winter, for besides the work of his own class, he undertook to carry
on at the same time the work of Professor Craigie of the Moral
Philosophy chair, who was laid aside by ill health, and indeed died a
few weeks after the commencement of the session. This double burden
was no doubt alleviated by the circumstance that he was able in both
the class-rooms to make very considerable use of the courses of
lectures he had already delivered in Edinburgh. By the traditional
distribution of academic subjects in the Scotch universities, the
province of the chair of Logic included rhetoric and belles-lettres,
and the province of the chair of Moral Philosophy included
jurisprudence and politics, and as Smith had lectured in Edinburgh
both on rhetoric and belles-lettres and on jurisprudence and politics,
he naturally took those branches for the subjects of his lectures this
first session at Glasgow. Professor John Millar, the author of the
_Historical View of the English Government_ and other works of great
merit, was a member of Smith's logic class that year, having been
induced, by the high reputation the new professor brought with him
from Edinburgh, to take out the class a second time, although he had
already completed his university curriculum; and Millar states that
most of the session was occupied with "the delivery of a system of
rhetoric and belles-lettres." In respect to the other class,
jurisprudence and politics were specially suggested to him as the
subjects for the year when he was asked to take Professor Craigie's
place. The proposal came through Professor Cullen, who was probably
Craigie's medical attendant, and Cullen suggested those particular
subjects as being the most likely to suit Smith's convenience and save
him labour, inasmuch as he had lectured on them already. Smith replied
that these were the subjects which it would be most agreeable to him
to take up.

     EDINBURGH, _3rd Sept. 1751_.

     DEAR SIR--I received yours this moment. I am very glad that
     Mr. Craigie has at last resolved to go to Lisbon. I make no
     doubt but he will soon receive all the benefit he expects or
     can wish from the warmer climate. I shall, with great
     pleasure, do what I can to relieve him of the burden of his
     class. You mention natural jurisprudence and politics as the
     parts of his lectures which it would be most agreeable for
     me to take upon me to teach. I shall very willingly
     undertake both. I shall be glad to know when he sets out for
     Lisbon, because if it is not before the first of October I
     would endeavour to see him before he goes, that I might
     receive his advice about the plan I ought to follow. I would
     pay great deference to it in everything, and would follow it
     implicitly in this, as I shall consider myself as standing
     in his place and representing him. If he goes before that
     time I wish he would leave some directions for me, either
     with you or with Mr. Leechman, were it only by word of
     mouth.--I am, dear doctor, most faithfully yours,

     ADAM SMITH.[27]

Smith would begin work at Glasgow on the 10th of October, and before
the middle of November he and Cullen were already deeply immersed in
quite a number of little schemes for the equipment of the College.
There was first of all the affair of the vacancy in the Moral
Philosophy chair, which was anticipated to occur immediately through
the death of Mr. Craigie--referred to in the following letter as "the
event we are afraid of." This vacancy Cullen and Smith were desirous
of seeing filled up by the translation of Smith from the Logic to the
Moral Philosophy chair, and the Principal (Dr. Neil Campbell) seems to
have concurred in that proposal, and to have mentioned Smith's name
with approbation to the Duke of Argyle, who, though without any power
over the appointment to any except the Crown chairs, took much
interest in, and was believed to exercise much influence over, the
appointment to all. This was the Duke Archibald--better known by his
earlier title of the Earl of Islay--who was often called the King of
Scotland, because he practically ruled the affairs of Scotland in the
first half of last century, very much as Dundas did in the second.
Smith seems to have gone through to Edinburgh to push his views with
the Duke, and to have waited on him and been introduced to him at his

Then there was the affair of Hume's candidature for the Logic chair,
contingent on Smith's appointment to the other. There was the affair
of the Principal's possible retirement, with, no doubt, some plan in
reserve for the reversion, probably in favour of Professor Leechman,
mentioned in the previous letter, who did in the event succeed to it.
Then there was Cullen's "own affair," which Smith was promoting in
Edinburgh through Lord Kames (then Mr. Home), and which probably
concerned a method of purifying salt Cullen had then invented, and
wanted to secure a premium for. At any rate, Lord Kames did speak to
the Duke of Argyle on this subject in Cullen's behalf a few months

While immersed in this multiplicity of affairs Smith wrote Cullen the
following letter:--[28]

     EDIN., _Tuesday, November 1751_.

     DEAR SIR--I did not write to you on Saturday as I promised,
     because I was every moment expecting Mr. Home to town. He is
     not, however, yet come.

     I should prefer David Hume to any man for the College, but I
     am afraid the public would not be of my opinion, and the
     interest of the society will oblige us to have some regard
     to the opinion of the public. If the event, however, we are
     afraid of should happen we can see how the public receives
     it. From the particular knowledge I have of Mr. Elliot's
     sentiments, I am pretty certain Mr. Lindsay must have
     proposed it to him, not he to Mr. Lindsay. I am ever obliged
     to you for your concern for my interest in that affair.

     When I saw you at Edinburgh you talked to me of the
     Principal's proposing to retire. I gave little attention to
     it at that time, but upon further consideration should be
     glad to listen to any proposal of that kind. The reasons of
     my changing my opinion I shall tell you at meeting. I need
     not recommend secrecy to you upon this head. Be so good as
     to thank the Principal in my name for his kindness in
     mentioning me to the Duke. I waited on him at his levee at
     Edinburgh, when I was introduced to him by Mr. Lind, but it
     seems he had forgot.

     I can tell you nothing particular about your own affair more
     than what I wrote you last till I see Mr. Home, whom I
     expect every moment.--I am, most dear sir, ever yours,

     A. SMITH.

The event they were afraid of happened on the 27th of November, and
Smith was, without any opposition, appointed Craigie's successor on
the 29th of April 1752. It would appear from this letter as if Cullen
had heard from his colleague, Professor Lindsay, of a possible rival
to Smith for that chair in the person of Mr. Elliot--no doubt Mr.
Gilbert Elliot, a man of brilliant parts and accomplishments, who
afterwards attained high political eminence as Sir Gilbert Elliot, but
who was at this time a young advocate at the Edinburgh bar, with no
liking for law and a great liking for letters and philosophy. Smith,
however, who was a personal friend of Elliot's, knew that the latter
had no such designs, and eventually his own candidature was unopposed.
But in anticipation of this result, the keenest contest was carried on
all winter over the election to the Logic chair, which he was to
leave. David Hume came forward as a candidate, and there is an
erroneous, though curiously well-supported tradition that Edmund Burke
was a candidate also. One of Burke's biographers, Bisset, states that
Burke actually applied for the post, but applied too late.[29] Another
of his biographers, Prior, says that Burke being in Scotland at the
time, took some steps for the place, but finding his chances hopeless,
withdrew;[30] while Professor Jardine, a subsequent occupier of the
chair himself, asserts that Burke was thought of by some of the
electors, but never really came forward.[31] But Smith, who was not
only the previous occupant of the office, but, as Professor of Moral
Philosophy, was one of the electors of his successor, stated
explicitly to Dugald Stewart (as Stewart wrote to Prior[32]) "that the
story was extremely current, but he knew of no evidence on which it
rested, and he suspected it took its rise entirely from an opinion
which he had himself expressed at Glasgow upon the publication of
Burke's book on the _Sublime and Beautiful_, that the author of that
book would be a great acquisition to the College if he would accept of
a chair." Had anything been known in Glasgow of Burke's candidature
for a chair there five years before, it would unquestionably be
recollected on the occasion of the publication of so notable a work,
but Burke's very name was so unfamiliar to the circle interested in
the election that when Hume first met him in London in 1759, he
mentions him in a letter to Smith as "a Mr. Burke, an Irish
gentleman who has written a very pretty book on the _Sublime and

The interest of the contest is sufficiently great from the candidature
of one philosopher of the first rank, and to Smith himself--already
that philosopher's very close friend--it must have been engrossing. It
will be observed that in his letter to Cullen he expresses himself
with great caution on the subject. He is quite alive to the fact that
the appointment of a notorious sceptic like Hume might be so unpopular
with the Scottish public as to injure the interests of the University.
But when Hume came forward Cullen threw himself heart and soul into
his cause, as we know from Hume's own acknowledgments; and if Cullen
and Smith are found acting in concert at the initiation of the
candidature, it is not likely that Smith lagged behind Cullen in the
prosecution of the canvass, though nothing remains to give us any
decisive information on the point. Their exertions failed, however,
in consequence, Hume himself always believed, of the interference of
the Duke of Argyle, and the chair was given to a young licentiate of
the Church named Clow, who was at the time entirely unknown, and
indeed never afterwards established any manner of public reputation.

Smith's preference for the Moral Philosophy chair came mainly no doubt
from preference for the subjects he would be called upon to teach in
it, but the emoluments also seem to have been somewhat better, for
Smith was expressly required, as a condition of acceptance of the
office, to content himself until the 10th of October of that year (the
opening day of the new session) "with the salary and emoluments of his
present profession of Logic," even though he might be actually
admitted to the other professorship before that date. It must not be
supposed, however, that the emoluments of his new office were by any
means very lordly. They accrued partly from a moderate endowment and
partly from the fees paid by the students who attended the lectures--a
principle of academic payment which Smith always considered the best,
because it made the lecturer's income largely dependent on his
diligence and success in his work. The endowment was probably no more
than that of the Mathematical chair, and the endowment of the
Mathematical chair was £72 a year.[34] The fees probably never
exceeded £100, or even came up to that figure, for Dr. Thomas Reid,
Smith's successor in the Moral Philosophy chair, writes an Aberdeen
friend, after two years' experience of Glasgow, that he had more
students than Smith ever had, and had already touched £70 of fees, but
expected, when all the students arrived, to make £100 that
session.[35] The income from fees in the Scotch chairs in last century
seems to have been subject to considerable variations from session to
session. A bad harvest would sometimes tell seriously on the
attendance, and a great crisis like that of 1772, when the effects of
a succession of bad harvests were aggravated by ruinous mercantile
speculations, deprived Adam Ferguson in the Edinburgh Moral Philosophy
chair of half his usual income from fees. It may also be mentioned as
a curious circumstance that in those days a professor used to lose
regularly many pounds a year by light money. When Lord Brougham, as a
young student of chemistry in Edinburgh, paid his fee to Black, the
great chemist weighed the guineas carefully on a weighing machine he
had on the table before him, and observed in explanation, "I am
obliged to weigh when strange students come, there being a very large
number who bring light guineas, so that I should be defrauded of many
pounds every year if I did not act in self-defence against this class
of students."[36]

Smith kept an occasional boarder in his house, and would of course
make a trifle by that, but his regular income from his class work
would not exceed £170 a year. £170 a year, however, was a very
respectable income at a period when, as was the case in 1750, only
twenty-nine ministers in all broad Scotland had as much as £100 a
year, and the highest stipend in the Church was only £138.[37]

Besides his salary Smith had a house in the College--one of those new
manses in the Professors' Court which Glasgow people at the time
considered very grand; and though the circumstance is trifling, it is
a little curious that he changed his house three times in the course
of his thirteen years' professorship. It was the custom when a house
fell vacant for the professors to get their choice of it in the order
of their academical seniority. There seems to have been no compulsion
about the step, so that it is not beneath noticing that Smith should
in so short a term have elected to make the three removes which
proverbial wisdom deprecates. When his friend Cullen was translated
to Edinburgh in 1756, Smith, who was next in seniority, having been
made professor in Glasgow a few months after the eminent physician,
removed to Cullen's house; then he quitted this house in 1757 for the
house of Dr. Dick, Professor of Natural Philosophy, who died in that
year; and he left Dick's house in turn for Dr. Leechman's, on the
promotion of that divine to the Principalship in 1762. These houses
are now demolished with the rest of the old College of Glasgow, so
that we cannot mark the gradation of comfort that may have determined
these successive changes; and besides they may have been determined by
no positive preference of the economist himself, but by the desires of
his mother and his aunt, Miss Jane Douglas, who both lived with him in
Glasgow, and whose smallest wishes it was the highest ambition of his
affectionate nature to gratify.

In Smith's day there were only some 300 students at Glasgow College in
all, and the Moral Philosophy chair alone had never more than 80 or 90
in the public class and 20 in the private. The public class did not
mean a free class, as it does on the Continent; it really was the
dearer of the two, the fee in the private class being only a guinea,
while the fee of the public class was a guinea and a half. The public
class was the ordinary class taken for graduation and other purposes,
and obligatory by academic authority; the private was a special class,
undertaken, with the permission of the Senatus, for those who wished
to push the subject further; and to harmonise this account of them
with what has been previously said of the income Smith drew from fees,
it is necessary to explain that many of the students who attended
these classes paid no fees, according to a custom which still prevails
in Scotch universities, and by which one was considered a _civis_ of a
class he had attended for two years, and might thereafter attend it
whenever he chose without charge. Many in this way attended the Moral
Philosophy class four or five years, and among them, as Dr. Reid
informs us, quite a number of preachers and advanced students of
divinity and law, before whom, the worthy doctor confesses, he used to
stand in awe to speak without the most careful preparation.

The College session was then longer than it is now, extending from the
10th of October to the 10th of June, and the classes began at once
earlier in the morning and continued later at night. Smith commenced
his labours before daybreak by his public class from 7.30 to 8.30
A.M.; he then held at 11 A.M. an hour's examination on the lecture he
delivered in the morning, though to this examination only a third of
the students of the morning class were in the habit of coming; and he
met with his private class twice a week on a different subject at 12.
Besides these engagements Smith seems to have occasionally read for an
hour like a tutor with special pupils; at least one is led to infer so
much from the remarks of a former pupil, who, under the _nom de plume_
of Ascanius, writes his reminiscences of his old master to the editor
of the _Bee_ in June 1791. This writer says that he went to Glasgow
College after he had gone through the classes at St. Andrews,
Edinburgh, and even Oxford, in order that he might, "after the manner
of the ancients, walk in the porticoes of Glasgow with Smith and with
Millar, and be imbued with the principles of jurisprudence and law and
philosophy"; and then he adds: "I passed most of my time at Glasgow
with those two first-rate men, and Smith read private lectures to me
on jurisprudence, and accompanied them with his commentaries in
conversation, exercises which I hope will give a colour and a
substance to my sentiments and to my reason that will be eternal."

There is no difficulty in identifying this enthusiastic disciple with
the eccentric and bustling Earl of Buchan, the elder brother of Lord
Chancellor Erskine, and of the witty and greatly beloved Harry Erskine
of the Scotch bar, and the subject of the Duchess of Gordon's
well-known _mot_: "The wit of your lordship's family has come by the
mother, and been all settled on the younger branches." We know that
this Earl of Buchan was a contributor to the _Bee_ under various
fictitious signatures, because he has himself republished some of his
contributions, and we know that he attended Smith's class at Glasgow,
because he says so in a letter to Pinkerton, the historian, mentioning
having seen in Smith's library at that time a book of which Pinkerton
could not find a single copy remaining anywhere--the memoirs of
Lockhart of Lee, Cromwell's ambassador to France, which had been
suppressed (as the Earl had been told by his maternal uncle, Sir James
Steuart, the economist) at the instance of Lockhart, the famous
advocate, afterwards Lord Covington, because the family had turned
Jacobite, and disliked the association with the Commonwealth.[38] The
Earl gives the year of his attendance at Glasgow as 1760, but he must
have continued there more than one session, for he attended Millar's
lectures as well as Smith's, and Millar was not there till the session
1761-62; and it is on the whole most likely that this is the very
young nobleman whom Dr. Alexander Carlyle met in company with Smith at
a large supper party in April 1763, and concerning whom he mentions
that he himself whispered after a little to Smith that he wondered how
he could set this young man so high who appeared to be so foolish, and
Smith answered, "We know that perfectly, but he is the only lord in
our College."

It will be observed that Lord Buchan says Smith _read_ private
lectures to him. Smith's public lectures he was not accustomed to read
in any of his classes, but he seems to have found it more convenient
in teaching a single pupil to read them, and interpose oral comments
and illustrations as he went along. Others of Smith's old students
besides Lord Buchan express their obligations to the conversations
they were privileged to have with him. Dugald Stewart, Brougham
informs us, used to decline to see his students, because he found them
too disputatious, and he disliked disputing with them about the
correctness of the doctrines he taught. But Smith, by all accounts,
was extremely accessible, and was even in the habit of seeking out the
abler men among them, inviting them to his house, discussing with them
the subjects of his lectures or any other subject, and entering
sympathetically into their views and plans of life. John Millar,
having occasion to mention Smith's name in his _Historical View of the
English Government_, takes the opportunity to say: "I am happy to
acknowledge the obligations I feel myself under to this illustrious
philosopher by having at an early period of life had the benefit of
his lectures on the history of civil society, and enjoying his
unreserved conversation on the same subject."[39]

Millar, it may be added, was one of Smith's favourite pupils, and
after obtaining the chair of Jurisprudence in his old College, one of
his chief associates, and Smith held so high an opinion of Millar's
unique powers as a stimulating teacher that he sent his cousin, David
Douglas, to Glasgow College for no other purpose but to have the
advantage of the lectures and conversation of Millar. Jeffrey used to
say that the most bracing exercises a student in Glasgow underwent in
those days were the supper disputations at Professor Millar's house,
and that, able and learned as his works are, "they revealed nothing of
that magical vivacity which made his conversation and his lectures
still more full of delight than of instruction." Though he always
refused to accept Smith's doctrine of free trade, Millar was the most
effective and influential apostle of Liberalism in Scotland in that
age, and Jeffrey's father could never forgive himself for having put
his son to Glasgow, where, though he was strictly forbidden to enter
Millar's class-room, "the mere vicinity of Millar's influence" had
sent him back a Liberal.[40]

Now it is this interesting and famous lecturer from whom we obtain the
fullest account of Smith's qualities as a lecturer and of the
substance of his lectures.

"In the professorship of logic," he says, "to which Mr. Smith was
appointed on his first introduction into this University, he soon saw
the necessity of departing widely from the plan that had been followed
by his predecessors, and of directing the attention of his pupils to
studies of a more interesting and useful nature than the logic and
metaphysics of the schools. Accordingly, after exhibiting a general
view of the powers of the mind, and explaining as much of the ancient
logic as was requisite to gratify curiosity with respect to an
artificial method of reasoning which had once occupied the universal
attention of the learned, he dedicated all the rest of his time to the
delivering of a system of rhetoric and belles-lettres."

In moral philosophy "his course of lectures," says Millar, "was
divided into four parts. The first contained natural theology, in
which he considered the proofs of the being and attributes of God, and
those principles of the human mind upon which religion is founded. The
second comprehended ethics, strictly so called, and consisted chiefly
of the doctrines which he afterwards published in his _Theory of Moral
Sentiments_. In the third part he treated at more length of that
branch of morality which relates to _justice_, and which, being
susceptible of precise and accurate rules, is for that reason capable
of a full and particular explanation.

"Upon this subject he followed the plan that seems to be suggested by
Montesquieu, endeavouring to trace the gradual progress of
jurisprudence, both public and private, from the rudest to the most
refined ages, and to point out the effects of those arts which
contribute to subsistence and to the accumulation of property, in
producing correspondent improvements or alterations in law and
government. This important branch of his labours he also intended to
give to the public; but this intention, which is mentioned in the
conclusion of the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, he did not live to

"In the last of his lectures he examined those political regulations
which are founded, not upon the principle of _justice_ but that of
_expediency_, and which are calculated to increase the riches, the
power, and the prosperity of a state. Under this view he considered
the political institutions relating to commerce, to finances, to
ecclesiastical and military establishments. What he delivered on those
subjects contained the substance of the work he afterwards published
under the title of _An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the
Wealth of Nations_."[41]

Under the third part were no doubt included those lectures on the
history of civil society to which Millar expresses such deep
obligation, and of which another pupil of Smith's, Professor
Richardson of the Humanity chair in Glasgow--a minor poet of
considerable acceptance in his day--also speaks with lively gratitude,
particularly of those "on the nature of those political institutions
that succeeded the downfall of the Roman Empire, and which included an
historical account of the rise and progress of the most conspicuous
among the modern European governments."[42]

Richardson tells us, too, that Smith gave courses of lectures on
taste, on the history of philosophy, and on belles-lettres, apparently
continuing to utilise his old lectures on this last subject
occasionally even after his translation from the chair to which they
properly appertained, and that he was very fond of digressing into
literary criticism from his lectures on any subject. "Those who
received instruction from Dr. Smith," says Richardson, "will recollect
with much satisfaction many of those incidental and digressive
illustrations and discussions, not only in morality but in criticism,
which were delivered by him with animated and extemporaneous eloquence
as they were suggested in the course of question and answer. They
occurred likewise, with much display of learning and knowledge, in his
occasional explanations of those philosophical works, which were also
a very useful and important subject of examination in the class of
moral philosophy."[43]

His characteristics as a lecturer are thus described by Millar:--

     "There was no situation in which the abilities of Mr. Smith
     appeared to greater advantage than as a professor. In
     delivering his lectures he trusted almost entirely to
     extemporary elocution. His manner, though not graceful, was
     plain and unaffected, and as he seemed to be always
     interested in the subject, he never failed to interest his
     hearers. Each discourse consisted commonly of several
     distinct propositions, which he successively endeavoured to
     prove and illustrate. These propositions when announced in
     general terms had, from their extent, not unfrequently
     something of the air of a paradox. In his attempts to
     explain them, he often appeared at first not to be
     sufficiently possessed of the subject, and spoke with some
     hesitation. As he advanced, however, his manner became warm
     and animated, and his expression easy and fluent. On points
     susceptible of controversy you could easily discern that he
     secretly conceived an opposition to his opinions, and that
     he was led upon this account to support them with greater
     energy and vehemence. By the fulness and variety of his
     illustrations the subject gradually swelled in his hands
     and acquired a dimension which, without a tedious repetition
     of the same views, was calculated to seize the attention of
     his audience, and to afford them pleasure as well as
     instruction in following the same subject through all the
     diversity of shades and aspects in which it was presented,
     and afterwards in tracing it backwards to that original
     proposition or general truth from which this beautiful train
     of speculation had proceeded."[44]

One little peculiarity in his manner of lecturing was mentioned to the
late Archdeacon Sinclair by Archibald Alison the elder, apparently as
Alison heard it from Smith's own lips. He used to acknowledge that in
lecturing he was more dependent than most professors on the sympathy
of his hearers, and he would sometimes select one of his students, who
had more mobile and expressive features than the rest, as an
unsuspecting gauge of the extent to which he carried with him the
intelligence and interest of the class. "During one whole session," he
said, "a certain student with a plain but expressive countenance was
of great use to me in judging of my success. He sat conspicuously in
front of a pillar: I had him constantly under my eye. If he leant
forward to listen all was right, and I knew that I had the ear of my
class; but if he leant back in an attitude of listlessness I felt at
once that all was wrong, and that I must change either the subject or
the style of my address."[45]

The great majority of his students were young men preparing for the
Presbyterian ministry, a large contingent of them--quite a third of
the whole--being Irish dissenters who were unfairly excluded from the
university of their own country, but appear to have been no very
worthy accession to the University of Glasgow. We know of no word of
complaint against them from Smith, but they were a sore trial both to
Hutcheson and to Reid. Reid says he always felt in lecturing to those
"stupid Irish teagues" as St. Anthony must have felt when he preached
to the fishes,[46] and Hutcheson writes a friend in the north of
Ireland that his Irish students were far above taking any interest in
their work, and that although he had "five or six young gentlemen from
Edinburgh, men of fortune and fine genius, studying law, these
Irishmen thought them poor bookworms."[47] Smith had probably even
more of this stamp of law students than Hutcheson. Henry Erskine
attended his class on jurisprudence as well as his elder brother.
Boswell was there in 1759, and was made very proud by the certificate
he received from his professor at the close of the session, stating
that he, Mr. James Boswell, was "happily possessed of a facility of
manners."[48] After the publication of the _Theory of Moral
Sentiments_, students came even from a greater distance. Lord
Shelburne, who was an enthusiastic admirer of that work, sent his
younger brother, the Honourable Thomas Fitzmaurice, for a year or two
to study under Smith, before sending him to Oxford in 1761 to read law
with Sir William Blackstone. Mr. Fitzmaurice, who married the Countess
of Orkney, and is the progenitor of the present Orkney family, rose to
a considerable political position, and would have risen higher but for
falling into ill health in the prime of life and remaining a complete
invalid till his death in 1793, but he never forgot the years he spent
as a student in Smith's class and a boarder in Smith's house. Dr.
Currie, the well-known author of the _Life of Burns_, was his medical
attendant in his latter years, and Dr. Currie says his conversation
always turned back to his early life, and particularly to the pleasant
period he had spent under Smith's roof in Glasgow. Currie has not,
however, recorded any reminiscences of those conversations.[49] Two
Russian students came in 1762, and Smith had twice to give them an
advance of £20 apiece from the College funds, because their
remittances had got stopped by the war. Tronchin, the eminent
physician of Geneva, the friend of Voltaire, the enemy of Rousseau,
sent his son to Glasgow in 1761 purposely "to study under Mr. Smith,"
as we learn from a letter of introduction to Baron Mure which the
young man received before starting from Colonel Edmonston of Newton,
who was at the time resident in Geneva. It was of Tronchin Voltaire
said, "He is a great physician, he knows the mind," and he must have
formed a high idea of the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_ to send his son
so far to attend the lectures of its author. It was this young man
who, on his way back from Glasgow, played a certain undesigned part in
originating the famous quarrel between Rousseau and Hume, of which we
shall have more to hear anon. He was living with Professor Rouet of
Glasgow, at Miss Elliot's lodging-house in London, when Hume brought
Rousseau there in January 1866, and the moment Rousseau saw the son of
his old enemy established in the house to which he was conducted, he
flew to the conclusion that young Tronchin was there as a spy, and
that the good and benevolent Hume was weaving some infernal web about

Smith's popularity as a lecturer grew year by year. It was felt that
another and perhaps greater Hutcheson had risen in the College. Reid,
when he came to Glasgow to succeed him in 1764, wrote his friend Dr.
Skene in Aberdeen that there was a great spirit of inquiry abroad
among the young people in Glasgow--the best testimony that could be
rendered of the effect of Smith's teaching. It had taught the young
people to think. His opinions became the subjects of general
discussion, the branches he lectured on became fashionable in the
town, the sons of the wealthier citizens used to go to College to take
his class though they had no intention of completing a university
course, stucco busts of him appeared in the booksellers' windows, and
the very peculiarities of his voice and pronunciation received the
homage of imitation. One point alone caused a little--in certain
quarters not a little--shaking of heads, we are told by John Ramsay of
Ochtertyre. The distinguished professor was a friend of "Hume the
atheist"; he was himself ominously reticent on religious subjects; he
did not conduct a Sunday class on Christian evidences like Hutcheson;
he would often too be seen openly smiling during divine service in his
place in the College chapel (as in his absent way he might no doubt be
prone to do); and it is even stated by Ramsay that he petitioned the
Senatus on his first appointment in Glasgow to be relieved of the duty
of opening his class with prayer, and the petition was rejected; that
his opening prayers were always thought to "savour strongly of natural
religion"; that his lectures on natural theology were too flattering
to human pride, and induced "presumptuous striplings to draw an
unwarranted conclusion, viz. that the great truths of theology,
together with the duties which man owes to God and his neighbours, may
be discovered by the light of nature without any special
revelation,"[50] as if it were a fault to show religious truth to be
natural, for fear young men should believe it too easily. No record of
the alleged petition about the opening prayers and its refusal remains
in the College minutes, and the story is probably nothing but a morsel
of idle gossip unworthy of attention, except as an indication of the
atmosphere of jealous and censorious theological vigilance in which
Smith and his brother professors were then obliged to do their work.

In his lectures on jurisprudence and politics he had taught the
doctrine of free trade from the first, and not the least remarkable
result of his thirteen years' work in Glasgow was that before he left
he had practically converted that city to his views. Dugald Stewart
was explicitly informed by Mr. James Ritchie, one of the most eminent
Clyde merchants of that time, that Smith had, during his
professorship in Glasgow, made many of the leading men of the place
convinced proselytes of free trade principles.[51] Sir James Steuart
of Coltness, the well-known economist, used, after his return from his
long political exile in 1763, to take a great practical interest in
trying to enlighten his Glasgow neighbours on the economical problems
that were rising about them, and having embraced the dying cause in
economics as well as in politics, he sought hard to enlist them in
favour of protection, but he frankly confesses that he grew sick of
repeating arguments for protection to these "Glasgow theorists," as he
calls them, because he found that Smith had already succeeded in
persuading them completely in favour of a free importation of
corn.[52] Sir James Steuart was a most persuasive talker; Smith
himself said he understood Sir James's system better from his talk
than from his books,[3] and those Glasgow merchants must have obtained
from Smith's expositions a very clear and complete hold indeed of the
doctrines of commercial freedom, when Steuart failed to shake it, and
was fain to leave such theorists to their theories. Long before the
publication of the _Wealth of Nations_, therefore, the new light was
shining clearly from Smith's chair in Glasgow College, and winning its
first converts in the practical world. One can accordingly well
understand the emotion with which J.B. Say sat in this chair when he
visited Glasgow in 1815, and after a short prayer said with great
fervour, "Lord, let now thy servant depart in peace."[53]

Dugald Stewart further states, on the authority of gentlemen who were
students in the moral philosophy class at Glasgow in 1752 or 1753,
that Smith delivered so early as that lectures containing the
fundamental principles of the _Wealth of Nations_; and in 1755--the
year Cantillon's _Essai_ first saw the light, and the year before
Quesnay published his first economic writing--Smith was not only
expounding his system of natural liberty to his students, but publicly
asserting his claim to the authorship of that system in a Glasgow
Economic Society--perhaps the first economic club established
anywhere. The paper in which Smith vindicates this claim came somehow
into the possession of Dugald Stewart, and so escaped the fire to
which Smith committed all his other papers before his death, but it is
believed to have been destroyed by Stewart's son, very possibly after
his father's directions. For Stewart thought it would be improper to
publish the complete manuscript, because it would revive personal
differences which had better remain in oblivion, and consequently our
knowledge of its contents is confined to the few sentences which he
has thought right to quote as a valuable evidence of the progress of
Smith's political ideas at that very early period. It will be observed
that, as far as we can collect from so small a fragment of his
discourse, he presents the doctrine of natural liberty in a more
extreme form than it came to wear after twenty years more of thought
in the _Wealth of Nations_. Stewart says that many of the most
important opinions in the _Wealth of Nations_ are detailed in this
document, but he cites only the following:--

     "Man is generally considered by statesmen and projectors as
     the materials of a sort of political mechanics. Projectors
     disturb nature in the course of her operations on human
     affairs, and it requires no more than to leave her alone and
     give her fair play in the pursuit of her ends that she may
     establish her own designs.... Little else is required to
     carry a state to the highest degree of affluence from the
     lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable
     administration of justice; all the rest being brought about
     by the natural course of things. All governments which
     thwart this natural course, which force things into another
     channel, or which endeavour to arrest the progress of
     society at a particular point, are unnatural, and, to
     support themselves, are obliged to be oppressive and
     tyrannical.... A great part of the opinions enumerated in
     this paper is treated of at length in some lectures which I
     have still by me, and which were written in the hand of a
     clerk who left my service six years ago. They have all of
     them been the constant subjects of my lectures since I first
     taught Mr. Craigie's class the first winter I spent in
     Glasgow down to this day without any considerable
     variations. They had all of them been the subjects of
     lectures which I read at Edinburgh the winter before I left
     it, and I can adduce innumerable witnesses both from that
     place and from this who will ascertain them sufficiently to
     be mine."[54]

The distinction drawn in the last sentence between _that_ place,
Edinburgh, and _this_ place, shows that the paper was read to a
society in Glasgow. Smith was a member of two societies there, of
which I shall presently have something more to say, the Literary
Society and a society which we may call the Economic, because it met
for the discussion of economic subjects, though we do not know its
precise name, if it had any. Now this paper of Smith's was not read to
the Literary Society--at least, it is not included in the published
list of papers read by it--and we may therefore conclude that it was
read to the Economic Society.

Nothing is now known of the precise circumstances in which the paper
originated, except what Stewart tells us, that Smith "was anxious to
establish his exclusive right" to "certain leading principles both
political and literary," "in order to prevent the possibility of some
rival claims which he thought he had reason to apprehend, and to which
his situation as a professor, added to his unreserved communications
in private companies, rendered him peculiarly liable"; and that he
expressed himself "with a good deal of that honest and indignant
warmth which is perhaps unavoidable by a man who is conscious of the
purity of his intentions when he suspects that advantages have been
taken of the frankness of his temper." It would appear that some one,
who had got hold of Smith's ideas through attending his class or
frequenting his company, either had published them, or was believed to
be going to publish them as his own.

The writer of the obituary notice of Smith in the _Monthly Review_ for
1790 alleges that in this Glasgow period Smith lived in such constant
apprehension of being robbed of his ideas that, if he saw any of his
students take notes of his lectures, he would instantly stop him and
say, "I hate scribblers." But this is directly contradicted by the
account of Professor John Millar, who, as we have seen, was a student
in Smith's classes himself, and who expressly states both that the
permission to take notes was freely given by Smith to his students,
and that the privilege was the occasion of frequent abuse. "From the
permission given to students of taking notes," says Millar, "many
observations and opinions contained in these lectures (the lectures on
rhetoric and belles-lettres) have either been detailed in separate
dissertations or engrossed in general collections which have since
been given to the public." In those days manuscript copies of a
popular professor's lectures, transcribed from his students'
notebooks, were often kept for sale in the booksellers' shops. Blair's
lectures on rhetoric, for example, were for years in general
circulation in this intermediate state, and it was the publication of
his criticism on Addison, taken from one of the unauthorised
transcripts, in Kippis's _Biographia Britannica_, that at length
instigated Blair to give his lectures to the press himself. A
professor was thus always liable to have his unpublished thought
appropriated by another author without any acknowledgment at all, or
published in such an imperfect form that he would hardly care to
acknowledge it himself. If Smith, therefore, exhibited a jealousy over
his rights to his own thought, as has been suggested, Millar's
observation shows him to have had at any rate frequent cause; but
neither at that time of his life nor any other was he animated by an
undue or unreasonable jealousy of this sort such as he has sometimes
been accused of; and if in 1755 he took occasion to resent with
"honest and indignant warmth" a violation of his rights, there must
have been some special provocation.

Mr. James Bonar suggests that this manifesto of 1755 was directed
against Adam Ferguson, but that is not probable. Ferguson's name, it
is true, will readily occur in such a connection, because Dr. Carlyle
tells us that when he published his _History of Civil Society_ in 1767
Smith accused him of having borrowed some of his ideas without owning
them, and that Ferguson replied that he had borrowed nothing from
Smith, but much from some French source unnamed where Smith had been
before him. But, however this may have been in 1767, it is unlikely
that Ferguson was the occasion of offence in 1755. Up till that year
he was generally living abroad with the regiment of which he was
chaplain, and it is not probable that he had begun his _History_
before his return to Scotland, or that he had time between his return
and the composition of Smith's manifesto to do or project anything to
occasion such a remonstrance. Then he is found on the friendliest
footing with Smith in the years immediately following the manifesto,
and Stewart's allusion to the circumstances implies a graver breach
than could be healed so summarily. Besides, had Ferguson been the
cause of offence, Stewart would have probably avoided the subject
altogether in a paper to the Royal Society, of which Ferguson was
still an active member.


[27] Thomson's _Life of Cullen_, i. 605.

[28] Thomson's _Life of Cullen_, i. 606.

[29] Bisset's _Burke_, i. 32.

[30] Prior's _Burke_, p. 38.

[31] _Outlines of the Philosophy of Education_, p. 23.

[32] Prior's _Life of Burke_, Bohn's ed. p. 38.

[33] Burton's _Life of Hume_, ii. 55.

[34] _Caldwell Papers_, i. 170.

[35] Hamilton's _Reid_, p. 40.

[36] _Brougham's Life and Times_, i. 78.

[37] Chamberlayne's _Angliæ Notitia_ for 1750.

[38] Smith's copy of this book seems to have gone out of existence
like the others, for his cousin and heir, David Douglas, wrote Lord
Buchan in January 1792 that he had searched for it in Smith's library
without any success, and that though a catalogue of the library had
since then been made out, Lockhart's Memoirs was not contained in it.
Douglas's letter is in the Edinburgh University Library.

[39] Book II. chap. x.

[40] Cockburn's _Life of Jeffrey_, p. 12.

[41] Stewart's _Works_, x. 12.

[42] Richardson's _Life of Arthur_. See _Arthur's Discourses_, p. 510.

[43] Richardson's _Life of Arthur_. See _Arthur's Discourses_, p. 508.

[44] Stewart's _Works_, x. 12.

[45] Sinclair's _Old Times and Distant Places_, p. 9.

[46] Hamilton's _Reid_, p. 43.

[47] M'Cosh, _Scottish Philosophy_, p. 66.

[48] Boswell's _Correspondence with Erskine_, p. 26.

[49] Currie's _Memoirs of James Currie, M.D._, ii. 317.

[50] Ramsay, _Scotland and Scotsmen_, i. 462, 463.

[51] _Steuart's Works_, vi. 379.

[52] _Ibid._ vi. 378.

[53] Dr. Cleland's account of Glasgow in _New Statistical Account of
Scotland_, vi. 139.

[54] Stewart's _Works_, ed. Hamilton; x. 68.



A common misconception regarding Smith is that he was as helpless as a
child in matters of business. One of his Edinburgh neighbours remarked
of him to Robert Chambers that it was strange a man who wrote so well
on exchange and barter was obliged to get a friend to buy his horse
corn for him. This idea of his helplessness in the petty transactions
of life arose from observing his occasional fits of absence and his
habitual simplicity of character, but his simplicity, nobody denies,
was accompanied by exceptional acuteness and practical sagacity, and
his fits of absence seem to have been neither so frequent nor so
prolonged as they are commonly represented. Samuel Rogers spent most
of a week with him in Edinburgh the year before his death, and did not
remark his absence of mind all the time. Anyhow, during his thirteen
years' residence at Glasgow College, Smith seems to have had more to
do with the business of the College, petty or important, than any
other professor, and his brethren in the Senate of that University
cannot have seen in him any marked failing or incapacity for ordinary
business. They threw on his shoulders an ample share of the committee
and general routine work of the place, and set him to audit accounts,
or inspect the drains in the College court, or see the holly hedge in
the College garden uprooted, or to examine the encroachments on the
College lands on the Molendinar Burn, without any fear of his
forgetting his business on the way. They entrusted him for years with
the post of College Quæstor or Treasurer, in which inattention or the
want of sound business habits might inflict injury even on their
pecuniary interests. They made him one of the two curators of the
College chambers, the forty lodgings provided for students inside the
College gates. And when there was any matter of business that was a
little troublesome or delicate to negotiate, they seem generally to
have chosen Smith for their chief spokesman or representative. It was
then very common for Scotch students to bring with them from home at
the beginning of the session as much oatmeal as would keep them till
the end of it, and by an ancient privilege of the University they were
entitled to bring this meal with them into the city without requiring
to pay custom on it; but in 1757 those students were obliged by the
tacksman of the meal-market to pay custom on their meal, though it was
meant for their own use alone. Smith was appointed along with
Professor Muirhead to go and represent to the Provost that the
exaction was a violation of the privileges of the University, and to
demand repayment within eight days, under pain of legal proceedings.
And at the next meeting of Senate "Mr. Smith reported that he had
spoken to the Provost of Glasgow about the ladles exacted by the town
from students for meal brought into the town for their own use, and
that the Provost promised to cause what had been exacted to be
returned, and that accordingly the money was offered by the town's
ladler[55] to the students."

Smith was often entrusted with College business to transact in
Edinburgh--to arrange with Andrew Stuart, W.S., about promoting a bill
in Parliament, or to wait on the Barons of Exchequer and get the
College accounts passed; and he was generally the medium of
communication between the Senatus and the authorities of Balliol
College during their long and troublesome contentions about the Snell
property and the Snell exhibitioners.

He was Quæstor from 1758 till he left in 1764, and in that capacity
had the management of the library funds and some other funds, his
duties being subsequently divided between the factor and the
librarian. The professors, we are told by Professor Dickson, used to
take this office in turn for a term of two or three years, but Smith
held the office longer than the customary term, and on the 19th of May
1763 the Senate agreed that "as Dr. Smith has long executed the office
of Quæstor, he is allowed to take the assistance of an amanuensis." He
was Dean of Faculty from 1760 to 1762, and as such not only exercised
a general supervision over the studies of the College and the granting
of degrees, but was one of the three visitors charged with seeing that
the whole business of the College was administered according to the
statutes of 1727. While still filling these two offices, he was in
1762 appointed to the additional and important business office of
Vice-Rector, by his personal friend Sir Thomas Miller, the
Lord-Advocate of Scotland (afterwards Lord President of the Court of
Session), who was Rector of the University that year. As Sir Thomas
Miller was generally absent in consequence of his public engagements
in London or his professional engagements in Edinburgh, Smith as
Vice-Rector had to preside over all University meetings--meetings of
the Senatus, of the Comitia, of the Rector's Court--at a time when
this duty was rendered delicate by the contentions which prevailed
among the professors. The Rector's Court, it may be added--which
consisted of the Rector and professors--was a judiciary as well as
administrative body, which at one time possessed the power of life and
death, and according to the Parliamentary Report of 1829, actually
inflicted imprisonment in the College steeple on several delinquents
within the preceding fifty years. It may be mentioned that some time
elapsed after Sir Thomas Miller's election to the Rectorship before
he was able to appoint a Vice-Rector, because he could not appoint a
Vice-Rector till he was himself admitted, and he could not attend
personally to be admitted on account of engagements elsewhere. During
this interval Smith was elected præses of the University meetings by
the choice of his colleagues, and as the position was at the time one
of considerable difficulty, they would not be likely to select for it
a man of decided business incapacity.

Some idea of the difficulty of the place, on account of the
dissensions prevailing in the College during Smith's residence there,
may be got from a remark of his successor, Dr. Reid. In the course of
the first year after his arrival in Glasgow, Reid writes one of his
Aberdeen friends complaining bitterly of being obliged to attend five
or six College meetings every week, and meetings, moreover, of a very
disagreeable character, in consequence of "an evil spirit of party
that seems to put us in a ferment, and, I am afraid, will produce bad
consequences."[56] A writer in the _Gentleman's Magazine_, in noticing
Smith's death in 1790, says that these divisions turned on questions
of academic policy, and that Smith always took the side which was
popular with people of condition in the city. The writer offers no
further particulars, but as far as we can now ascertain anything about
the questions which then kept the Glasgow Senate in such perpetual
perturbation, they were not questions of general policy or public
interest such as his words might suggest, and on the petty issues they
raised it makes no odds to know whether Smith sided with the kites or
with the crows. The troubles were generated, without any public
differences, out of the constitution of the University itself, which
seemed to be framed, as if on purpose, to create the greatest possible
amount of friction in its working. By its constitution; as that is
described in the Parliamentary Report of 1830, Glasgow University was
at that time under one name really two distinct corporations, with
two distinct governing bodies: (1) the University governed by the
Senate, which was composed of the Rector, the Dean of Faculty, the
Principal, the thirteen College or Faculty professors, and the five
regius professors; and (2) the College governed by the Faculty, as it
was called, which consisted of the thirteen College professors alone,
who claimed to be the sole owners and administrators of the older
endowments of the College, and to have the right of electing the
occupants of their own thirteen chairs by co-optation. Within the
Faculty again there was still another division of the professors into
gown professors and other professors. The gown professors, who seem to
have been the representatives of the five regents of earlier times,
were the professors of those classes the students of which wore
academical gowns, while the students of the other classes did not; the
gown classes being Humanity, Greek, Logic, Natural Philosophy, and
Moral Philosophy. These several bodies held separate meetings and kept
separate minutes, which remain to this day. The meetings of the Senate
were called University meetings or Rector's meetings, because they
were presided over by the Rector; and the meetings of the Faculty were
called Faculty meetings or Principal's meetings, because they were
presided over by the Principal. Even the five gown professors with the
Principal held separate meetings which the other professors had no
right to attend--meetings with the students every Saturday in the
Common Hall for the administration of ordinary academic discipline for
petty offences committed by the students of the five gown classes.
Smith belonged to all three bodies; he was University professor,
Faculty or College professor, and gown professor too. It is obvious
how easily this complicated and unnatural system of government might
breed incessant and irritating discussions without any grave division
of opinion on matters of serious educational policy. Practical
difficulties could scarce help arising as to the respective functions
of the University and the College, or the respective claims of the
regius professors and the Faculty professors, or the respective powers
of the Rector and the Principal; and Smith himself was one of a small
committee which presented a very lengthy report on this last subject
to the Senate of the University on the 13th of August 1762. The report
was adopted, but two of the professors dissented on the ground that it
was too favourable to the powers of the Principal.

But, wrangle as they might over petty points of constitutional right
or property administration, the heads of Glasgow College were guided
in their general policy at this period by the wisest and most
enlightened spirit of academic enlargement. Only a few years before
Smith's arrival they had recognised the new claims of science by
establishing a chemical laboratory, in which during Smith's residence
the celebrated Dr. Black was working out his discovery of latent heat.
They gave a workshop in the College to James Watt in 1756, and made
him mathematical instrument maker to the University, when the trade
corporations of Glasgow refused to allow him to open a workshop in the
city; and it was in that very workshop and at this very period that a
Newcomen's engine he repaired set his thoughts revolving till the
memorable morning in 1764 when the idea of the separate condenser
leapt to his mind as he was strolling past the washhouse on Glasgow
Green. They had at the same time in another corner of the College
opened a printing office for the better advancement of that art, and
were encouraging the University printer, the famous Robert Foulis, to
print those Homers and Horaces by which he more than rivalled the
Elzevirs and Etiennes of the past. To help Foulis the better, they had
with their own money assisted the establishment of the type-foundry of
Wilson at Camlachie, where Foulis procured the types for his _Iliad_;
they appointed Wilson type-founder to the University, and in 1762 they
erected for him a founding-house, as they called it, in their own
grounds. They had just before endowed a new chair of astronomy, of
which they had made their versatile type-founder the first professor,
and built for him an astronomical observatory, from which he brought
reputation to the College and himself by his observation of the solar
spots. They further gave Foulis in 1753 several more rooms in the
College, including the large room afterwards used as the Faculty Hall,
to carry out his ill-fated scheme of an Academy of Design; so that the
arts of painting, sculpture, and engraving were taught in the College
as well as the classics and mathematics, and Tassie and David Allan
were then receiving their training under the same roof with the
students for the so-called learned professions. The Earl of Buchan,
while walking, as he said, "after the manner of the ancients in the
porticoes of Glasgow with Smith and with Millar," unbent from the high
tasks of philosophy by learning to etch in the studio of Foulis. This
was the first school of design in Great Britain. There was as yet no
Royal Academy, no National Gallery, no South Kensington Museum, no
technical colleges, and the dream of the ardent printer, which was so
actively seconded by the heads of the University, was to found an
institution which should combine the functions of all those several
institutions, and pay its own way by honest work into the bargain. In
all these different ways the College of Glasgow was doing its best, as
far as its slender means allowed, to widen the scope of university
education in accordance with the requirements of modern times, and
there was still another direction in which they anticipated a movement
of our own day. They had already done something for that
popularisation of academic instruction which we call university
extension. Professor John Anderson, an active and reforming spirit who
deserves to be held in honour in spite of his troublesome pugnacity,
used then to deliver within the College walls, with the complete
concurrence and encouragement of his colleagues, a series of evening
lectures on natural philosophy to classes of working-men in their
working clothes, and the lectures are generally acknowledged to have
done great service to the arts and manufactures of the West of
Scotland, by improving the technical education of the higher grades of

Now in all these new developments Smith took a warm interest; some of
them he actively promoted. There is nothing in the University minutes
to connect Smith in any more special way than the other professors
with the University's timely hospitality to James Watt; but as that
act was a direct protest on behalf of industrial liberty against the
tyrannical spirit of the trade guilds so strongly condemned in the
_Wealth of Nations_, it is at least interesting to remember that Smith
had a part in it. Watt, it may be recollected, was then a lad of
twenty, who had come back from London to Glasgow to set up as
mathematical instrument maker, but though there was no other
mathematical instrument maker in the city, the corporation of
hammermen refused to permit his settlement because he was not the son
or son-in-law of a burgess, and had not served his apprenticeship to
the craft within the burgh. But in those days of privilege the
universities also had their privileges. The professors of Glasgow
enjoyed an absolute and independent authority over the area within
college bounds, and they defeated the oppression of Watt by making him
mathematical instrument maker to the University, and giving him a room
in the College buildings for his workshop and another at the College
gates for the sale of his instruments. In these proceedings Smith
joined, and joined, we may be sure, with the warmest approval. For we
know the strong light in which he regarded the oppressions of the
corporation laws. "The property which every man has in his labour," he
says, "as it is the original foundation of all other property, so it
is the most sacred and inviolable. The patrimony of the poor man lies
in the strength and dexterity of his hands, and to hinder him from
employing this strength and dexterity in what manner he thinks proper
without injury to his neighbour is a plain violation of this most
sacred property. It is a manifest encroachment upon the just liberty
both of the workman and of those who might be disposed to employ
him."[57] Watt's workshop was a favourite resort of Smith's during his
residence at Glasgow College, for Watt's conversation, young though he
was, was fresh and original, and had great attractions for the
stronger spirits about him. Watt on his side retained always the
deepest respect for Smith, and when he was amusing the leisure of his
old age in 1809 with his new invention of the sculpture machine, and
presenting his works to his friends as "the productions of a young
artist just entering his eighty-third year," one of the first works he
executed with the machine was a small head of Adam Smith in ivory.[58]

In the Foulis press and the Academy of Design Smith took a particular
interest. He was himself a book-fancier, fond of fine editions and
bindings, and he once said to Smellie the printer, whom he observed
admiring some of the books in his library, "I am a beau in nothing but
my books." And he was a man, as Dugald Stewart informs us, with a
carefully-cultivated taste for the fine arts, who was considered by
his contemporaries an excellent judge of a picture or a sculpture,
though in Stewart's opinion he appeared interested in works of art
less as instruments of direct enjoyment than as materials for
speculative discussions about the principles of human nature involved
in their production. Smith seems to have been one of Foulis's chief
practical advisers in the work of the Academy of Design, in settling
such details, for example, as the pictures which ought to be selected
to be copied by the pupils, or the subjects which ought to be chosen
for original work from Plutarch or other classical sources, and which
would be most likely to suit modern taste.

Sir John Dalrymple, who appears to have been one of Foulis's
associates in the enterprise, and to have taken an active concern in
the sale of the productions of the Academy in its Edinburgh agency
shop, writes Foulis on the 1st of December 1757 regarding the kind of
work that ought to be sent for sale there. "In the History pictures
that you send in, I beg you will take the advice of Mr. Smith and Dr.
Black. Your present scheme should be to execute not what you think the
best, but what will sell the best. In the first you may be the better
judge, since you are the master of a great Academa, but in the last I
think their advice will be of use to you."[59] The letter concludes:
"Whether it is an idea or not, I am going to give you a piece of
trouble. Be so good as make out a catalogue of your pictures, and as
far as you can of your busts, books of drawings, and prints. Secondly,
your boys, and how employed. Thirdly, the people who have studied
under you with a view to the mechanical art. And lastly, give some
account of the prospects which you think you have of being of use
either to the mechanical or to the fine arts of your country. Frame
this into a memorial and send it to me. I shall have it tryed here by
some who wish well to you, and as I go to London in the spring, I
shall, together with Mr. Wedderburn and Mr. Elliot, consider what are
the most prudent measures to take for your sake, or whether to take
any. Mr. Smith is too busy or too indolent, but I flatter myself Dr.
Black will be happy to make out this memorial for you. Let me know if
I have any chance of seeing you this winter. I have none of being at
Glasgow, and therefore wish you and Mr. Smith would come here, or you
by yourself would come here in the Christmas vacance."

The memorial alluded to in this letter was no doubt a memorial to
Government in behalf of a project then promoted by the Earl of
Selkirk and other friends of Foulis, of settling a salary on him for
directing an institution so useful to the nation as the Academy of
Design. Whether Smith overcame his alleged indolence and drew up the
memorial I cannot say, but this whole letter shows that Smith and
Black were the two friends in Glasgow whom Foulis was in the habit of
principally consulting, and the last sentence seems to indicate that
Smith's hand in the business was hardly less intimate than Dalrymple's
own. It may be noticed too how completely Sir John Dalrymple's ideas
of Smith, as implied in this letter, differ from those which are
current now, and how he sends a tradesman to the philosopher for
advice on practical points in his trade. As to pure questions of art,
whether this work or that is finest, he thinks Foulis himself may
possibly be the best judge, but when it comes to a question as to
which will sell the best--and that was the question for the success of
the project--then he is urged to take the practical mind of Smith to
his counsels. Though Smith's leanings were not to practical life, his
judgment, as any page of the _Wealth of Nations_ shows, was of the
most eminently practical kind. He had little of the impulse to meddle
in affairs or the itch to manage them that belongs to more bustling
people, but had unquestionably a practical mind and capacity.

If Smith was consulted by Foulis in this way about the management of
the Academy of Design, we may safely infer that he had also more to do
with the Foulis press than merely visiting the office to see the
famous _Iliad_ while it was on the case. Smith's connection with
Foulis began before he went to Glasgow, by the publication of Hamilton
of Bangour's poems by the University press, and I think it not
unreasonable to see traces of Smith's suggestion in the number of
early economic books which Foulis reissued after the year 1750, works
of writers like Child, Gee, Mun, Law, and Petty.

In the University type-foundry Smith took an active interest, because
he was a warm friend and associate of the accomplished type-founder.
Wilson had been bred a physician, but gave up his practice to become
type-founder, and devoted himself besides, as I have just mentioned,
to astronomy, to which Smith also at this period of his life gave some
attention. Smith indeed was possibly then writing his fragment on the
history of astronomy, which, though not published till after his
death, was, we are informed by Dugald Stewart, the earliest of all his
compositions, being the first part of an extensive work on the history
of all the sciences which he had at this time projected. Wilson,
having gone to large expense both of time and money to cast the Greek
type for the University Homer, and having never found another customer
for the fount except the University printer, went up to London in 1759
to push around, if possible, for orders, and was furnished by Smith
with a letter of recommendation to Hume, who was then residing there.
Hume writes to Smith on the 29th of July: "Your friend Mr. Wilson
called on me two or three days ago when I was abroad, and he left your
letter. I did not see him till to-day. He seems a very modest,
sensible, ingenious man. Before I saw him I spoke to Mr. A. Millar
about him, and found him much disposed to serve him. I proposed
particularly to Mr. Millar that it was worthy of so eminent a
bookseller as he to make a complete elegant set of the classics, which
might set up his name equal to the Alduses, Stevenses, or Elzevirs,
and that Mr. Wilson was the properest person in the world to assist
him in such a project. He confessed to me that he had sometimes
thought of it, but that his great difficulty was to find a man of
letters that could correct the press. I mentioned the matter to
Wilson, who said he had a man of letters in his eye one Lyon, a
nonjuring clergyman of Glasgow. I would desire your opinion of

When Wilson came to reside in the College in 1762, after his
appointment to the chair of Astronomy, he found it inconvenient to go
to and fro between the College and Camlachie to attend to the
type-foundry, and petitioned the Senate to build him a founding-house
in the College grounds, basing his claim on their custom of giving
accommodation to the arts subservient to learning, on his own services
to the University in the matter of the Greek types before mentioned,
and on his having undertaken, in spite of the discouraging results of
that speculation, to cast a large and elegant Hebrew type for the
University press. He estimated that the building would cost no more
than the very modest sum of £40 sterling, and he offered to pay a fair
rent. This memorial came up for consideration on the 5th of April, and
it was Smith who proposed the motion which was ultimately carried, to
the effect that the University should build a new foundry for Mr.
Wilson on the site most convenient within the College grounds, at an
expense not exceeding the sum of £40 sterling, on condition (1) that
Mr. Wilson pay a reasonable rent, and (2) that if the house should
become useless to the College before the Senate were sufficiently
recouped for their expenditure, Mr. Wilson or his heirs should be
obliged to make adequate compensation. The foundry was erected in the
little College garden next the Physic Garden; it cost £19 more than
the estimate, and was let for £3:15s. a year, from which it would
appear that 6-1/2 per cent on the actual expenditure (irrespective of
any allowance for the site) was considered a fair rent by the
University authorities in those days.

The Senate of this little college, which was thus actively encouraging
every liberal art, which had in a few years added to the lecture-room
of Hutcheson and Smith the laboratory of Black, the workshop of Watt,
the press of Foulis, the academy of painting, sculpture, and
engraving, and the foundry and observatory of Wilson, entertained in
1761 the idea of doing something for the promotion of athletics among
the students, and had under consideration a proposal for the
establishment of a new academy of dancing, fencing, and riding in the
University. One of the active promoters of this scheme appears again
to have been Adam Smith, for it is he who is chosen by the Senate on
the 22nd December 1761 to go in their name and explain their design to
the Rector, Lord Erroll, and request his assistance. This idea seems,
however, to have borne no fruit. Dancing was an exercise they required
to be observed with considerable moderation, for they passed a rule in
1752 that no student should be present at balls or assemblies or the
like more than thrice in one session, but they treated it with no
austere proscription.

One art alone did they seek to proscribe, the art dramatic, and in
1762 the Senate was profoundly disturbed by a project then on foot for
the erection of the first permanent theatre in Glasgow. The affair
originated with five respectable and wealthy merchants, who were
prepared to build the house at their own expense, the leading spirit
of the five being Robert Bogle of Shettleston, who had himself, we are
told by Dr. Carlyle, played "Sempronius" in a students' performance of
_Cato_ within the walls of Glasgow College in 1745. Carlyle played the
title _rôle_, and another divinity student, already mentioned as a
college friend of Smith's, Dr. Maclaine of the Hague, played a minor
part. But an amateur representation of an unexceptionable play under
the eye of the professors was one thing, the erection of a public
playhouse, catering like other public playhouses for the too
licentious taste of the period, was another, and the project of Mr.
Bogle and his friends in 1762 excited equal alarm in the populace of
the city, in the Town Council, and in the University. The Council
refused to sanction a site for the theatre within the city bounds, so
that the promoters were obliged to build it a mile outside; but the
anger of the multitude pursued them thither, and on the very eve of
its opening in 1764 by a performance in which Mrs. Bellamy was to play
the leading part, it was set on fire by a mob, at the instigation of a
wild preacher, who said he had on the previous night been present in a
vision at an entertainment in hell, and the toast of the evening,
proposed in most flattering terms from the chair, was the health of
Mr. Millar, the maltster who had sold the site for this new temple of
the devil.

During the two years between the projection of this building and its
destruction it caused the Senate of the College no common anxiety, and
Smith went along with them in all they did. On the 25th of November
1762 he was appointed, with the Principal and two other professors, as
a committee, to confer with the magistrates concerning the most proper
methods of preventing the establishment of a playhouse in Glasgow, and
at the same time to procure all the information in their power
concerning the privileges of the University of Oxford with respect to
their ability to prevent anything of that kind being established
within their bounds, and concerning the manner in which those
privileges, if they existed, were made effectual. On the
recommendation of this committee the University agreed to memorialise
the Lord Advocate on the subject, and to ask the magistrates of the
city to join them in sending the memorial. The Lord Advocate having
apparently suggested doubts as to the extent of their ancient powers
or privileges in the direction contemplated, Smith was appointed,
along with the Principal and one or two other professors, as a special
committee of inquiry into the ancient privileges and constitution of
the University, and the Principal was instructed meanwhile to express
to his lordship the earnest desire of the University to prevent the
establishment of a playhouse. While this inquiry was proceeding, the
magistrates of the city, on their part, had determined, with the
concurrence of a large body of the inhabitants, to raise an action at
law against the players if they should attempt to act plays in the new
theatre, and at a meeting over which Smith presided, and in whose
action he concurred, the University agreed to join the magistrates in
this prosecution. The agitation against the playhouse was still
proceeding when Smith resigned his chair in 1764, but shortly
afterwards, finding itself without any legal support, it gradually
died away. The part Smith took in this agitation may seem to require a
word of explanation, for he not only entertained no objection to
theatrical representations, but was so deeply impressed with their
beneficial character that in the _Wealth of Nations_ he specially
recommends them for positive encouragement by the State, and expressly
dissociates himself from those "fanatical promoters of popular
frenzies" who make dramatic representations "more than all other
diversions the objects of their peculiar abhorrence." The State
encouragement he wants is nothing in the nature of the endowment of a
national theatre, which is sometimes demanded nowadays. All the
encouragement he asks for is liberty--"entire liberty to all those who
from their own interest would attempt, without scandal or indecency,
to amuse and divert the people by painting, poetry, music, dancing, by
all sorts of dramatic representations and exhibitions." But in
pressing for this liberty, he expresses the strongest conviction that
"the frequency and gaiety of public diversions" is absolutely
essential for the good of the commonwealth, in order to "correct
whatever is unsocial or disagreeably rigorous in the morals of all the
little sects into which the country is divided," and to "dissipate
that melancholy and gloomy humour which is almost always the source of
popular superstition and enthusiasm."[61] Yet here we seem to find him
in alliance with the little sects himself, and trying to crush that
liberty of dramatic representations which he declares to be so vital
to the health of the community.

The reason is not, moreover, that he had changed his opinions in the
interval between the attempts to suppress the Glasgow playhouse in
1762 and the publication of his general plea for playhouses in the
Wealth of Nations in 1776. He had not changed his opinions. He
travelled with a pupil to France, still warm from this agitation in
Glasgow, and, as we learn from Stewart, was a great frequenter and
admirer of the theatre in that country,[62] and a few years before the
agitation began he was as deeply interested as any other of John
Home's friends in the representations of the tragedy of Douglas, and
as much a partisan of Home's cause. He does not appear indeed, as is
sometimes stated, to have been present either at the public
performance of Home's tragedy in Edinburgh in 1756, or at the previous
private performance, which is alleged to have taken place at Mrs. Ward
the actress's rooms, and in which the author himself, and Hume,
Carlyle, Ferguson, and Blair are all said to have acted parts. But
that he was in complete sympathy with them on the subject is manifest
from an undated letter of Hume to Smith, which must have been written
in that year. In this letter, knowing Smith's sentiments, he writes:
"I can now give you the satisfaction of hearing that the play, though
not near so well acted in Covent Garden as in this place, is likely to
be very successful. Its great intrinsic merit breaks through all
obstacles. When it shall be printed (which shall be soon) I am
persuaded it will be esteemed the best, and by French critics the only
tragedy of our language." After finishing his letter he adds: "I have
just now received a copy of _Douglas_ from London. It will instantly
be put on the press. I hope to be able to send you a copy in the same
parcel with the dedication."[63] These sentences certainly imply that
Smith's ideas of theatrical representations were in harmony with those
of Hume and his other Edinburgh friends, but shortly afterwards he is
seeking to revive obsolete academic privileges to prevent the erection
of a theatre.

The explanation must be looked for in the line of the conditional
clause with which he limits his claim for entire liberty to dramatic
entertainments--they must be "without scandal or indecency." There is
never any question that if free trade and public morals clash, it is
free trade that must give way, and his opposition to the project of
the Glasgow playhouse must have originated in his persuasion that it
was not attended, as things then went, with sufficient practical
safeguards against scandal and indecency. In considering that point
due weight must be given not only to the general improprieties
permissible on the English stage at that time, but to the fact that
locally great offence had quite recently been given in Scotland by the
profane or immoral character of some of the pieces presented on the
Scottish boards,[64] and that Glasgow itself had had experience of a
disorderly theatre already--the old wooden shed where hardy playgoers
braved opinion and listened to indifferent performances under the
protection of troops, and where, it will be remembered, Boswell, then
a student at the College, made the acquaintance of Francis Gentleman,
the actor. That house was not a licensed house, but the new house was
not to be a licensed house either, and it is quite possible for one
who thought a theatre generally, with due safeguards, a public
benefit, to think that a particular theatre without those safeguards
might constitute a public danger, especially in a university town.

On two delicate questions of professorial duty Smith made a decided
stand in behalf of the stricter interpretation. In 1757 Professor John
Anderson, the founder of the Andersonian University, who was then
Professor of Oriental Languages in Glasgow, became a candidate for the
chair which he afterwards filled for so many years with great credit
and success--the chair of Natural Philosophy; and, as the appointment
lay with the professors, Professor Anderson was one of the electors,
and was quite within his legal right in voting for himself. But Smith,
impressed with the importance of keeping such appointments free from
any leaven of personal interest, tabled a formal protest on three
successive occasions against the intervention of that distinguished
but headstrong professor in the business of that particular election.
He protested first against Anderson voting on a preliminary resolution
respecting the election; he protested the second time against him
taking part in the election itself; and he protested a third time
after the election, desiring it to be recorded expressly "that he did
not vote in the election of Mr. Anderson as Professor of Natural
Philosophy, not from objection to Mr. Anderson, in whose election he
would willingly have concurred, but because he regarded the method of
proceeding as irregular and possibly establishing a bad precedent." As
patrons of University chairs, the professors were trustees for the
community, and ought each to be bound by a tacit self-denying
ordinance, at least to the extent of refraining from actively using
this public position to serve his private interest. Smith himself, it
will be remembered, was one of his own electors to the Moral
Philosophy chair, but then that election was uncontested, and Smith
was not present at the meeting which appointed him.

The other personal question arose also out of circumstances which have
their counterpart in Smith's own history. Professor William Rouet,
Professor of Ecclesiastical and Civil History, made an engagement in
1759 to travel abroad as tutor with Lord Hope, the eldest son of Lord
Hopetoun; but when Lord Hopetoun wrote requesting leave of absence for
Professor Rouet, the Senate by a majority refused to grant the
request. Smith was one of that majority, and took an active part in
the subsequent transactions arising out of their decision. Rouet
persists in going abroad in the teeth of the refusal, and the
University by a majority deprive him of office for his negligence of
duty. The Crown, however, at first refuse to appoint a successor, on
the ground of informality in the act of deprivation, and Lord Bute
tells the Rector, Lord Erroll, that "the king's orders" are that the
business must be done over again _de novo_, or "else it may be of the
worst consequences to the University." The University take the opinion
of eminent counsel, Ferguson of Pitfour and Burnet of Mountbodie
(Monboddo), and are prepared to face the consequences threatened, but
are eventually saved the trouble by the resignation of Rouet in 1761.
Now in these transactions Smith seems to bear a leading part. He was
one of the small committee appointed to draw up answers to the protest
tabled by the minority of the Senatus; it was to him Lord Erroll
communicated the intimation of Lord Bute, though he was not then
either Vice-Rector or Dean of Faculty; and it was he and Professor
Millar who were sent through to Edinburgh to consult the two

Smith was probably on the best terms with Rouet himself, who was an
intimate friend of David Hume and a cousin of their common friend
Baron Mure, and it was not an uncommon practice for the Scotch
universities at that period to sanction the absence of a professor on
a tutorial engagement. Adam Ferguson left England as tutor to Lord
Chesterfield while he was Professor of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh,
and Dalzel resided at Oxford as tutor to Lord Maitland after he was
Professor of Greek in the same University. The Senate of Glasgow had
itself already permitted Professor John Anderson to remain another
winter in France with a son of the Primate of Ireland, when he was
chosen Professor of Oriental Languages in 1756, and Smith had
concurred in giving the permission. But Anderson's absence was absence
to fulfil an already-existing engagement, like the absence granted to
Smith himself in the first year of his own appointment, while Rouet's
was absence to fulfil a new one; and Smith, as his own subsequent
conduct shows, held pluralities and absenteeism of that sort to be a
wrong and mischievous subordination of the interest of the University
to the purely private interest or convenience of the professors. They
had too many temptations to accommodate one another by such
arrangements at the expense of the efficiency of the College; and his
action both in Rouet's case and his own is entirely in the spirit of
his criticism of the English universities in the _Wealth of Nations_.


[55] The words ladles and ladler seem to have descended from a time
when the exactions were made in kind by ladling the quantity out of
the sack.

[56] Hamilton's _Reid_, p. 43.

[57] _Wealth of Nations_, Book I. chap. ix.

[58] Muirhead's _Life of Watt_, p. 470.

[59] Duncan's _Notes and Documents_, p. 25.

[60] Burton, _Life of Hume_, ii. 59.

[61] _Wealth of Nations_, Book V. chap. i. art. iii.

[62] Stewart's _Works_, x. 49.

[63] Burton's _Life of Hume_, ii. 16.

[64] See Doran's _Annals of the Stage_, ii. 377.



Smith was not only teacher in Glasgow, he was also learner, and the
conditions of time and place were most favourable, in many important
ways, for his instruction. Had he remained at Oxford, he would
probably never have been an economist; had he not spent so many of his
best years in Glasgow, he would never have been such an eminent one.
It was amid the thickening problems of the rising trade of the Clyde,
and the daily discussions they occasioned among the enterprising and
intelligent merchants of the town, that he grew into a great

It need scarce be said that the Glasgow of the middle of last century
was a very different city from the Glasgow of to-day. It was in size
and appearance a mere provincial town of 23,000 inhabitants. Broom
still grew on the Broomielaw; a few cobles were the only craft on the
river; and the rude wharf was the resort of idlers, watching the
fishermen on the opposite side cast for salmon, and draw up netfuls on
the green bank. The Clyde was not deepened till 1768. Before that the
whole tonnage dues at Glasgow were only eight pounds a year, and for
weeks together not a single vessel with a mast would be seen on the
water. St. Enoch Square was a private garden; Argyle Street an
ill-kept country road; and the town herd still went his rounds every
morning with his horn, calling the cattle from the Trongate and the
Saltmarket to their pasture on the common meadows in the now
densely-populated district of the Cowcaddens.

Glasgow in these its younger days struck every traveller chiefly for
its beauty. Mrs. Montagu thought it the most beautiful city in Great
Britain, and Defoe, a few years before, said it was "the cleanest and
beautifullest and best built city in Britain, London excepted." As
Mrs. Bellamy approached it on the occasion I have mentioned in order
to open the new theatre in 1764, she says "the magnificence of the
buildings and the beauty of the river ...elated her heart"; and Smith
himself, we know, once suffered for praising its charms. It was at a
London table, and Johnson was present, who, liking neither Smith nor
his Scotch city, cut him short by asking, "Pray, sir, have you seen
Brentford?" Boswell, who took a pride in Glasgow himself, calling it
"a beautiful city," afterwards expostulated with the doctor for this
rough interruption: "Now, sir," said he, "was not that rude?" The full
rudeness is only apparent when we remember that Brentford was in that
day a byword for dreariness and dirt--Thomson in the _Castle of
Indolence_ calls it "a town of mud." When Johnson visited Glasgow,
however, he joined the troop of its admirers himself, and Boswell took
the opportunity to put him then in mind of his question to Smith, and
whisper to him, "Don't you feel some remorse?"

But Glasgow had already begun its transition from the small provincial
to the great commercial capital, and was therefore at a stage of
development of special value to the philosophical observer. Though
still only a quiet but picturesque old place, nestling about the
Cathedral and the College and two fine but sleepy streets, in which
carriers built their haystacks out before their door, it was carrying
on a trade which was even then cosmopolitan. The ships of Glasgow were
in all the waters of the world, and its merchants had won the lead in
at least one important branch of commerce, the West India tobacco
trade, and were founding fresh industries every year with the
greatest possible enterprise. The prosperity of Glasgow is a fruit of
the Union which first opened the colonial markets to Scotch
merchandise, and enabled the merchants of the Clyde to profit by the
advantages of their natural situation for trading with the American
plantations. Before the middle of the century the Clyde had become the
chief European emporium for American tobacco, which foreign countries
were not then allowed to import directly, and three-fourths of the
tobacco was immediately on arrival transhipped by the Glasgow
merchants for the seaports of the Mediterranean, the Baltic, and the
North Sea.

As they widened their connections abroad, they naturally developed
their industries at home. They founded the Smithfield ironworks, and
imported iron from Russia and Sweden to make hoes and spades for the
negroes of Maryland. They founded the Glasgow tannery in 1742, which
Pennant thought an amazing sight, and where they employed 300 men
making saddles and shoes for the plantations. They opened the
Pollokshaws linen print-field in 1742, copper and tin works in 1747,
the Delffield pottery in 1748. They began to manufacture carpets and
crape in 1759, silk in 1759, and leather gloves in 1763. They opened
the first Glasgow bank--the Ship--in 1750, and the second--the
Arms--in 1752. They first began to improve the navigation of the Clyde
by the Act of 1759; they built a dry dock at their harbour of Port
Glasgow in 1762; while in 1768 they deepened the Clyde up to the city,
and began (for this also was mainly their work) the canal to the Forth
for their trade with the Baltic. It was obvious, therefore, that this
was a period of unique commercial enterprise and expansion. We can
easily believe Gibson, the historian of Glasgow, when he states that
after 1750 "not a beggar was to be seen in the streets," and "the very
children were busy"; and we can as easily understand Smith when,
contrasting Glasgow and Edinburgh among other places, he says the
residence of a few spirited merchants is a much better thing for the
common people of a place than the residence of a court.

Now it was those spirited merchants who had then so much to do with
the making of Glasgow that had also something to do with the making of
Adam Smith. Plain business men of to-day sometimes smile at the
"Virginian Dons" and "tobacco lords" of last century as they picture
them gathering to the Glasgow Plainstanes at the hour of Change in the
glory of scarlet cloaks, cocked hats, and gold-headed canes, and the
plain citizens of that time all making way for their honours as they
passed. But there was much enlightenment and sagacity concealed under
that finery. Mrs. Montagu, who visited Glasgow in 1767, wrote Sir A.
Mitchell, the Ambassador, that she was more delighted with it than
with any other commercial town she had seen, because gain did not
usurp people's whole attention, but "the sciences, the arts, and the
love of agriculture had their share."[65] Their fortunes were small
compared with the present standard. Sir John Dalrymple, speaking of
three of the foremost merchants of Glasgow (one of them, John
Glassford, the richest man in the city), computes that they had a
quarter of a million between the three, and Dr. Reid, explaining the
anxiety caused in Glasgow by the American troubles in 1765, says
Glasgow owners possessed property in the American plantations
amounting to £400,000. But these figures meant large handling and
large dealings in those times, and perhaps more energy, mind, and
character than the bigger figures of the present day; and we are told
that commercial men in Glasgow still look back to John Glassford and
Andrew Cochrane as perhaps the greatest merchants the Clyde has seen.

Andrew Cochrane was Smith's particular friend among them, and Dr.
Carlyle tells that "Dr. Smith acknowledged his obligations to this
gentleman's information when he was collecting materials for his
_Wealth of Nations_; and the junior merchants who have flourished
since his time and extended their commerce far beyond what was then
dreamt of, confess with respectful remembrance that it was Andrew
Cochrane who first opened and enlarged their views."[66] Dr. Carlyle
informs us, moreover, that Cochrane founded a weekly club in the
"forties"--political economy club--of which "the express design was to
inquire into the nature and principles of trade in all its branches,
and to communicate knowledge and ideas on that subject to each other,"
and that Smith became a member of this club after coming to reside in
Glasgow. This was probably the first political economy club in the
world, for Carlyle was in Glasgow in 1743, and it is of that period he
speaks when he says, "I was not acquainted with Provost Cochrane at
this time, but I observed that the members of this society had the
highest admiration of his knowledge and talents."

Cochrane was indeed one of the remarkable men of that time. Smollett
describes him in _Humphrey Clinker_ as "one of the first sages of the
Scottish kingdom," and "a patriot of a truly Roman spirit." He was
Provost of Glasgow during the Rebellion, and while the Government and
the Horse Guards slumbered and dawdled, and let Prince Charlie march
from the Highlands to Edinburgh, and from Edinburgh up into the heart
of England, Cochrane had already raised two regiments in Glasgow to
resist the invader, which, however, this same dawdling Government,
from mistaken suspicions of Scottish loyalty, refused to permit him to
arm. The Prince, on his return from England, actually occupied
Glasgow, and taxed it severely, but Cochrane's sagacious management
piloted the city through the crisis, so that it neither yielded to the
popular Prince's arts nor provoked him to hostilities; and, looking
back at these difficulties when he laid down the Provostship a few
years later, he said, "I thank my God that my magistracy has ended
without reproach." His correspondence, published by the Maitland Club,
contains some terse descriptions of the "prodigious slavery" he
underwent, "going through the great folks" in London day after day for
two months trying to recover from the Government some compensation for
the Prince's exactions. And it may be added that it was his banking
firm--Cochrane, Murdoch and Co., generally known, however, as the
Glasgow Arms Bank, because they printed the Glasgow arms on their
notes--that fell on the happy expedient of paying in sixpences when
the Bank of Scotland made the infamous attempt to "break" it in 1759
by first collecting its notes for some time, and then suddenly
presenting the whole number collected for immediate payment. The agent
of the Bank of Scotland presented £2893 of notes on the 14th of
December, and after thirty-four successive days' attendance he wrote
his employers that he had only received £1232, because "the partners
vied with each other in gaining time by miscounting and other low
arts, and when the partners became wearied or ashamed of the task,
their porter, a menial servant, would act the part of teller."[67]

Of the Political Economy Club, founded by this able man, we know
nothing except what Dr. Carlyle tells us, and the only other member of
it besides Smith and Cochrane whose name Carlyle mentions is Dr.
Wight, Professor of Ecclesiastical and Civil History. But it met once
a week all the thirteen years Smith resided in Glasgow, and must have
discussed many commercial problems during that time. We know, indeed,
some of the principal practical questions which were then agitating
the minds of Glasgow merchants, and may be sure those, at least, would
be among the questions discussed at the club. Some of them concerned
the removal of trade restrictions, but the restrictions which those
Glasgow merchants were anxious to remove were restrictions on the
import of raw materials for their manufactures, such as iron and linen
yarn, and manufacturers, of course, are not necessarily free-traders
because they want free import of raw materials. That was advocated as
strongly from the old mercantilist standpoint as it is now from the
free-trade one; it was merely sanctioning a little addition to our
imports in order to produce a much greater addition to our exports.

In 1750 we find Provost Cochrane in correspondence with Smith's
friend, James Oswald, M.P., concerting parliamentary action for the
entire removal of the import duty on American iron. The Glasgow
ironworks--the nailery, as it was called--with which Mr. Cochrane was
connected used at that time 400 tons of iron in the year, and the iron
had to be all imported at a high price from Russia and Sweden, because
the native ores of Scotland were not then discovered, and American
iron, by an iniquitous piece of preferential legislation in favour of
the English manufacturer, was allowed to come duty free into English
but not into Scotch seaports. Cochrane wants Oswald to get the law
amended so as to "allow bar iron from our colonies to be imported to
Scotland duty free." "It would," he says, "save our country very great
sums, and no way hurt the landed interest. It would lower the price of
iron, and consequently of all our manufactures, which would increase
the consumpt and sale; it would serve for ballast to our ships from
North America, and when tobacco is scarce, fill up part of the
tonnage; would increase our exports, and no way interfere with our
neighbours in the South."[68] That language might be held
indifferently by the mercantilist and the free-trader.

In advocating the abolition of the duty on foreign linen yarns, which
they succeeded in obtaining in 1756, the Glasgow merchants seem
certainly to have had no thought of free trade, or probably anything
else but their own obvious interest as manufacturers, for they never
dreamt of abolishing either the export bounty on home-made linen cloth
or of repealing the law of 1748, which gave their own Glasgow linen
factory a considerable lift, and which forbade the import of foreign
linen, and fined husbands for letting their wives wear it. Still the
discussion of these subjects would open up various points of view, and
it may be remembered that this duty on foreign linen yarns is one
which Smith himself, free-trader though he was, was against
abolishing, not out of any favour for the flax-growers, but for the
protection of the poor women scattered in the cottages of the kingdom
who made their livelihood by spinning yarn.

On the question of paper money we find Mr. Cochrane and Mr.
Glassford--both of whom were bankers as well as merchants--in
communication with Baron Mure and Sir James Steuart, the economist,
soon after Smith left Glasgow. Sir James would almost certainly be a
member of the club, because he resided in the neighbourhood, but as he
was only pardoned a few months before Smith resigned his chair, it is
improbable that the two economists ever met together at the club
meetings. But the questions the two leading merchants were then
discussing with Sir James would, no doubt, have been occasionally
subjects of conversation at the club during the time of Smith's
attendance. What, we find them asking, are the effects of paper money
on prices? on the currency? on the exchanges with other countries?
What was the effect of small notes? what of notes not payable on
demand? They differed on various points. For example, Glassford would
let the banks issue notes for any sums they liked, and had no
objection to the small ten-shilling and five-shilling notes which were
then common. Cochrane would abolish all notes for less than a
pound,[69] and Smith--at least in 1776--would abolish all notes less
than five pounds.[70] But all alike had a firm grasp of the true
nature and operation of money.

Another society of which Smith was a member, and indeed a founder,
was the Literary Society of Glasgow. It was a general debating society
composed mainly of professors in the University--Cullen, Black, Wilson
the astronomer; Robert Simson, Leechman the divinity professor and
principal; Millar, and indeed nearly the whole Senatus; with a few
merchants or country gentlemen of literary tastes such as William
Craufurd, the friend of Hamilton of Bangour; William Mure of Caldwell,
M.P. for Renfrewshire; Sir John Dalrymple, the historian, who was a
proprietor in the West country; John Callander of Craigforth, the
antiquary; Thomas Miller, Town Clerk of Glasgow, and afterwards Lord
Justice-Clerk of Scotland; Robert Foulis, the printer; James Watt, who
said he derived much benefit from it; Robert Bogle of Shettleston, the
promoter of the theatre already mentioned; David Hume, and the Earl of
Buchan, elected while residing as a student in 1762.

The Literary Society was founded in 1752, and met every Thursday
evening from November to May at half-past six. Its minutes are
probably still in existence somewhere, but a few extracts from them
have been published by the Maitland Club,[71] and from them we learn
that Smith was one of the first contributors to its proceedings. Early
in its first session--on the 23rd of January 1753--Professor Adam
Smith is stated to have read an account of some of Mr. David Hume's
Essays on Commerce. These essays had then just appeared; and they had
probably been seen by Smith before their publication, for in September
1752 Hume writes Smith asking him for any corrections he had to
suggest on the old edition of the Political Essays with which the
Commercial Essays were incorporated. We have seen Hume submitting one
of these Commercial Essays in 1750 to Oswald and Mure, and when we
find him in 1752 asking for suggestions from Smith on the essays
already printed, we may safely infer that he had also asked and
received suggestions on the new essays which had never been published.

The Maitland Club volume gives us no information about the papers read
in this society after the first six months, except those read by
Foulis, but no doubt Smith read other papers in the remaining ten
years of his connection with the society. Its debates were often very
keen; the metaphysical and theological combats between Professor
Millar--a most brilliant debater--and Dr. Reid, the father of the
common-sense philosophy, were famous in their day; and on one occasion
tradition informs us that Smith engaged in a strenuous discussion on
some subject for a whole evening against the entire assembly, and,
having lost his point by an overwhelming majority, was overheard
muttering to himself, "Convicted but not convinced."[72]

After their high controversies in the Literary Society and their
keener but less noble contentions in the Senate Hall, the Glasgow
professors used to unbend their bows again in the simple
convivialities of "Mr. Robin Simson's Club." Mr. Robin Simson was the
venerable Professor of Mathematics, equally celebrated and beloved,
known through all the world for his rediscovery of the porisms of
Euclid, but in Glasgow College--whose bounds he rarely quitted--the
delight of all hearts for the warmth, breadth, and uprightness of his
character, for the charming simplicity of his manner, and the richness
of his weighty and sparkling conversation. It was his impressions of
Simson that first gave Smith the idea that mathematicians possessed a
specific amiability and happiness of disposition which placed them
above the jealousies and vanities and intrigues of the lower world.
For fifty years Simson's life was spent almost entirely within the two
quadrangles of Glasgow College; between the rooms he worked and slept
in, the tavern at the gate, where he ate his meals, and the College
gardens, where he took his daily walk of a fixed number of hundred
paces, of which, according to some well-known anecdotes, he always
kept count as he went, even under the difficulties of interruption.
Mr. Robin, who was unmarried, never went into general society, but
after his geometrical labours were over finished the day with a rubber
of whist in the tavern at the College gate. Here one or another of the
professors used to join him, and the little circle eventually ripened
into a regular club, which met for supper at this tavern every Friday
evening, and went out to Anderston for dinner on Saturday. It was then
known as the Anderston Club, as well as by its former designation from
the name of its founder. Anderston was at that time quite a country
village. It was very soon afterwards made busy enough with the cotton
factory of James Monteith, but at this time Tames Monteith's father
was using the spot as a market garden. It contained, however, a cosy
little "change-house," capable of providing the simple dinner then in
vogue. The dinner consisted of only one course. Mr. M'George says the
first dinner of two courses ever given in Glasgow was given in 1786;
and Principal M'Cormick of St. Andrews, writing Dr. Carlyle about that
date, praises the dinner-parties of St. Andrews to the skies, but says
nobody gave two courses except Mrs. Prebendary Berkeley, and Mrs.
Prebendary Berkeley was the daughter-in-law of a bishop. The course at
the Anderston dinner, moreover, consisted every week of the same dish;
it was invariably chicken-broth, which Smollett classes with haggis,
singed sheepshead, fish and sauce, and minced collops, as one of the
five national dishes of Scotland. He describes it as "a very simple
preparation enriched with eggs in such a manner as to give the air of
a spoiled fricassee"; but adds that "notwithstanding its appearance,
it is very delicate and nourishing." The chicken-broth was accompanied
with a tankard of sound claret, and then the cloth was removed for
whist and a bowl of punch. At whist Smith was not considered an
eligible partner, for, says Ramsay of Ochtertyre, if an idea struck
him in the middle of the game he "either renounced or neglected to
call,"[73] and he must have in this way given much provocation to the
amiability of Simson, who, though as absent-minded as Smith ever was
at common seasons, was always keenly on the alert at cards, and could
never quite forgive a slip of his partner in the game. After cards the
rest of the evening was spent in cheerful talk or song, in which again
Simson was ever the leading spirit. He used to sing Greek odes set to
modern airs, which the members never tired of hearing again, for he
had a fine voice and threw his soul into the rendering. Professor
Robison of Edinburgh, who was one of his students, twice heard him--no
doubt at this club, for Simson never went anywhere else--sing a Latin
hymn to the Divine Geometer, apparently of his own making, and the
tears stood in the worthy old gentleman's eyes with the emotion he put
into the singing of it. His conversation is said to have been
remarkably animated and various, for he knew most other subjects
nearly as well as he did mathematics. He was always full of hard
problems suggested by his studies of them, and he threw into the
discussion much whimsical humour and many well-told anecdotes. The
only subject debarred was religion. Professor Traill says any attempt
to introduce that peace-breaking subject in the club was checked with
gravity and decision. Simson was invariably chairman, and so much of
the life of the club came from his presence that when he died in 1768
the club died too.

Three at least of the younger men who shared the simple pleasures of
this homely Anderston board--Adam Smith, Joseph Black, and James
Watt--were to exert as important effects on the progress of mankind as
any men of their generation. Watt specially mentions Smith as one of
the principal figures of the club, and says their conversation,
"besides the usual subjects with young men, turned principally on
literary topics, religion, morality, belles-lettres, etc., and to this
conversation my mind owed its first bias towards such subjects in
which they were all my superiors, I never having attended a college,
and being then but a mechanic."[74] According to this account religion
was not proscribed, but Professor Traill's assertion is so explicit
that probably Watt's recollection errs. It is, however, another sign
of the liberal spirit that then animated these Glasgow professors to
find them welcoming on a footing of perfect equality one who, as he
says, was then only a mechanic, but whose mental worth they had the
sense to recognise. Dr. Carlyle, who was invited by Simson to join the
club in 1743, says the two chief spirits in it then were Hercules
Lindsay, the Professor of Law, and James Moor, the Professor of Greek,
both of whom were still members in Smith's time. Lindsay, who, it will
be remembered, acted as Smith's substitute in the logic class, was a
man of force and independence, who had suffered much abuse from the
Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh for giving up the old practice of
delivering his lectures in Latin, and refusing to return to it. Moor
was the general editor of the famous editions of the classics printed
by his brother-in-law, Robert Foulis, a man, says Dugald Stewart, of
"a gaiety and levity foreign to this climate," much addicted to
punning, and noted for his gift of ready repartee. He was always
smartly dressed and powdered, and one day as he was passing on the
Plainstanes he overheard two young military officers observe one to
the other, "He smells strongly of powder." "Don't be alarmed, my young
soldier," said Moor, turning round on the speaker, "it is not
gunpowder." A great promoter of the merriment of the club was Dr.
Thomas Hamilton, Professor of Anatomy, the grandfather of Sir William,
the metaphysician, who is thus described in some verses by Dr. John
Moore, the author of _Zelucco_--

    He who leads up the van is stout Thomas the tall,
    Who can make us all laugh, though he laughs at us all;
    But _entre nous_, Tom, you and I, if you please,
    Must take care not to laugh ourselves out of our fees.

Then we remember what Jeffrey says of "the magical vivacity" of the
conversation of Professor John Millar.


[65] Add. MSS., 6856.

[66] Carlyle's _Autobiography_, p. 73.

[67] Fleming's _Scottish Banking_, p. 53.

[68] Oswald's _Correspondence_, p. 229.

[69] _Caldwell Papers_, ii. 3.

[70] _Wealth of Nations_, Book II. chap. ii.

[71] _Notices and Documents illustrative of the Literary History of
Glasgow_, p. 132.

[72] Strang's _Clubs of Glasgow_, 2nd ed. p. 314.

[73] Ramsay's _Scotland and Scotsmen in Eighteenth Century_, i. 468.

[74] Smiles's _Lives of Boulton and Watt_, p. 112.



During his residence in Glasgow Smith continued to maintain intimate
relations with his old friends in Edinburgh. He often ran through by
coach to visit them, though before the road was improved it took
thirteen hours to make the journey; he spent among them most part of
many of his successive vacations; and he took an active share, along
with them, in promoting some of those projects of literary,
scientific, and social improvement with which Scotland was then rife.
His patron, Henry Home, had in 1752 been raised to the bench as Lord
Kames, and was devoting his new-found leisure to those works of
criticism and speculation which soon gave him European fame. David
Hume, after his defeat at Glasgow, had settled for a time into the
modest post of librarian to the Faculty of Advocates, and was writing
his _History of England_ in his dim apartments in the Canongate. Adam
Ferguson, who threw up his clerical calling in 1754, and wrote Smith
from Groningen to give him "clerical titles" no more, for he was "a
downright layman," came to Edinburgh, and was made Hume's successor in
the Advocates' Library in 1757 and professor in the University in
1759. Robertson did not live in Edinburgh till 1758, but he used to
come to town every week with his neighbour John Home before the latter
left Scotland in 1757, and they held late sittings with Hume and the
other men of letters in the evening. Gilbert Elliot entered
Parliament in 1754, but was always back during the recess with news of
men and things in the capital. The two Dalrymples--Sir David of
Hailes, and Sir John of Cousland--were toiling at their respective
histories, and both were personal friends of Smith's; while another,
of whom Smith was particularly fond--Wilkie, the eccentric author of
the _Epigoniad_--was living a few miles out as minister of the parish
of Ratho. Wilkie always said that Smith had far more originality and
invention than Hume, and that while Hume had only industry and
judgment, Smith had industry and genius. His mind was at least the
more constructive of the two. A remark of Smith's about Wilkie has
also been preserved, and though it is of no importance, it may be
repeated. Quoting Lord Elibank, he said that whether it was in learned
company or unlearned, wherever Wilkie's name was mentioned it was
never dropped soon, for everybody had much to say about him.[75] But
that was probably due to his oddities as much as anything else. Wilkie
used to plough his own glebe with his own hands in the ordinary
ploughman's dress, and it was he who was the occasion of the joke
played on Dr. Roebuck, the chemist, by a Scotch friend, who said to
him as they were passing Ratho glebe that the parish schools of
Scotland had given almost every peasant a knowledge of the classics,
and added, "Here, for example, is a man working in the field who is a
good illustration of that training; let us speak with him." Roebuck
made some observation about agriculture. "Yes, sir," said the
ploughman, "but in Sicily they had a different method," and he quoted
Theocritus, to Roebuck's great astonishment.

Among Smith's chief Edinburgh friends at this period was one of his
former pupils, William Johnstone--son of Sir James Johnstone of
Westerhall, and nephew of Lord Elibank--who was then practising as an
advocate at the Scotch bar, but ultimately went into Parliament,
married the greatest heiress of the time, Miss Pulteney, niece of the
Earl of Bath, and long filled an honoured and influential place in
public life as Sir William Pulteney. He was, as even Wraxall admits, a
man of "masculine sense" and "independent as well as upright"
character, and he devoted special attention to all economic and
financial questions. It was Pulteney who in his speech on the
suspension of cash payments by the Bank of England in 1797--in which
he proposed the establishment of another bank--quoted from some
unknown source the memorable saying which is generally repeated as if
it were his own, that Smith "would persuade the present generation and
govern the next." He quoted the words as something that had been "well
said." Between him and Smith there prevailed a warm and affectionate
friendship for more than forty years, and we shall have occasion again
to mention his name. But I allude to him at present because a letter
still exists which was given him by Smith at this period to introduce
him, during a short stay he made in London, to James Oswald, then
newly appointed to office at the Board of Trade. This is the only
letter that happens to be preserved of all the correspondence carried
on by Smith with Oswald, and while both the occasion of it and its
substance reveal the footing of personal intimacy on which they stood,
its ceremonious opening and ending indicate something of the reverence
and gratitude of the client to the patron:--

     SIR--This will be delivered to you by Mr. William Johnstone,
     son of Sir James Johnstone of Westerhall, a young gentleman
     whom I have known intimately these four years, and of whose
     discretion, good temper, sincerity, and honour I have had
     during all that time frequent proofs. You will find in him
     too, if you come to know him better, some qualities which
     from real and unaffected modesty he does not at first
     discover; a refinement and depth of observation and an
     accuracy of judgment, joined to a natural delicacy of
     sentiment, as much improved as study and the narrow sphere
     of acquaintance this country affords can improve it. He had,
     first when I knew him, a good deal of vivacity and humour,
     but he has studied them away. He is an advocate; and though
     I am sensible of the folly of prophesying with regard to the
     future fortune of so young a man, yet I could almost venture
     to foretell that if he lives he will be eminent in that
     profession. He has, I think, every quality that ought to
     forward, and not one that should obstruct his progress,
     modesty and sincerity excepted, and these, it is to be
     hoped, experience and a better sense of things may in part
     cure him of. I do not, I assure you, exaggerate knowingly,
     but could pawn my honour upon the truth of every article.
     You will find him, I imagine, a young gentleman of solid,
     substantial (not flashy) abilities and worth. Private
     business obliges him to spend some time in London. He would
     beg to be allowed the privilege of waiting on you sometimes,
     to receive your advice how he may employ his time there in
     the manner that will tend most to his real and lasting

     I am sensible how much I presume upon your indulgence in
     giving you this trouble; but as it is to serve and comply
     with a person for whom I have the most entire friendship, I
     know you will excuse me though guilty of an indiscretion; at
     least if you do not, you will not judge others as you would
     desire to be judged yourself; for I am very sure a like
     motive would carry you to be guilty of a greater.

     I would have waited on you when you was last in Scotland had
     the College allowed me three days' vacation; and it gave me
     real uneasiness that I should be in the same country with
     you, and not have the pleasure of seeing you. Believe it, no
     man can more rejoice at your late success,[76] or at
     whatever else tends to your honour and prosperity, than
     does, Sir, your ever obliged and very humble servant,


     Glasgow, _19th January 1752_, N.S.[77]

Pulteney abandoned the law in which Smith prophesied eminence for him,
but he was happily not cured entirely of his sincerity by his
subsequent experience, for it was greatly from that quality that he
derived the weight he enjoyed in the House of Commons. His
contemporary in Parliament, Sir John Sinclair, says Pulteney's
influence arose from the fact that he was known to be a man who never
gave a vote he did not in his heart believe to be right. Having no
taste for display, he lived when he had £20,000 a year about as simply
as he did when he had only £200, and on that account he is sometimes
accused of avarice, though he was constantly doing acts of signal

Smith's chief friend in Edinburgh was David Hume. Though their first
relations were begun apparently in 1739, they could not have met much
personally before Smith's settlement in Glasgow. For when Smith came
to Edinburgh in 1748 Hume was abroad as secretary to General St. Clair
in the Embassy at Vienna and Turin, and though he left this post in
1749, he remained for the next two years at Ninewells, his father's
place in Berwickshire, and only settled in Edinburgh again just as
Smith was removing to Glasgow. He would no doubt visit town
occasionally, however, and before Smith was a year in Glasgow he had
already entered on that correspondence with the elder philosopher
which, beginning with the respectful "dear sir," grew shortly into the
warmer style of "my dearest friend" as their memorable and Roman
friendship ripened. Hume never paid Smith a visit in Glasgow, though
he had often promised to do so, but Smith in his runs to Edinburgh
spent always more and more of his time with Hume, and latterly at any
rate made Hume's house his regular Edinburgh home.

In 1752 Hume had already taken Smith as one of his literary
counsellors, and consulted him about the new edition of his _Essays,
Moral and Political_, and his historical projects, and I may be
permitted here and afterwards to quote parts of Hume's letters which
throw any light on Smith's opinions or movements.

On the 24th of September 1752 he writes--

     DEAR SIR--I confess I was once of the same opinion with you,
     and thought that the best period to begin an English History
     was about Henry the Seventh, but you will please to observe
     that the change which then happened in public affairs was
     very insensible, and did not display its influence for many
     years afterwards.... I am just now diverted for the moment
     by correcting my _Essays, Moral and Political_ for a new
     edition. If anything occur to you to be inserted or
     retrenched, I shall be obliged if you offer the hint. In
     case you should not have the last edition by you I shall
     send you a copy of it.... I had almost lost your letter by
     its being wrong directed. I received it late, which was the
     reason you got not sooner a copy of _Joannes Magnus_.[78]

On the 17th of December 1754 Hume gives Smith an account of his
quarrel with the Faculty of Advocates, and his resolution to stay as
librarian after all, for the sake of the use of the books, which he
cannot do without, but to give Blacklock, the blind poet, a bond of
annuity for the salary. Three weeks later he writes again, and as the
letter mentions Smith's views on some historical subjects, it may be

     EDINBURGH, _9th January 1755_.

     DEAR SIR--I beg you to make my compliments to the Society,
     and to take the fault on yourself if I have not executed my
     duty, and sent them this time my anniversary paper. Had I
     got a week's warning I should have been able to have
     supplied them. I should willingly have sent some sheets of
     the History of the Commonwealth or Protectorship, but they
     are all of them out of my hand at present, and I have not
     been able to recall them.[79] I think you are extremely in
     the right that the Parliament's bigotry has nothing in
     common with Hiero's generosity. They were themselves violent
     persecutors at home to the utmost of their power. Besides,
     the Huguenots in France were not persecuted; they were
     really seditious, turbulent people, whom their king was not
     able to reduce to obedience. The French persecutions did not
     begin till sixty years after.

     Your objection to the Irish massacre is just, but falls not
     on the execution but the subject. Had I been to describe the
     massacre of Paris I should not have fallen into that fault,
     but in the Irish massacre no single eminent man fell, or by
     a remarkable death. If the elocution of the whole chapter be
     blamable, it is because my conceptions laboured most to
     start an idea of my subject, which is there the most
     important, but that misfortune is not unusual.--I am,

In 1752 Smith was chosen a member of the Philosophical Society of
Edinburgh, which, after an interregnum caused by the rebellion, was
revived in that year, with David Hume for Secretary, and which was
eventually merged in the Royal Society in 1784. But we know of no part
he took, if he took any, in its proceedings. Of the Rankenian Society,
again--the famous old club in Ranken's Coffee-house, to which Colin
Maclaurin and other eminent men belonged, and some of whose members
carried on a philosophical controversy with Berkeley, and, if we can
believe Ramsay of Ochtertyre, were pressed by the good bishop to
accompany him in his Utopian mission to Bermuda--Smith was never even
a member, though it survived till 1774. But he took a principal part
in founding a third society in 1754, which far eclipsed either of
these--at least for a time--in _éclat_, and has left a more celebrated
name, the Select Society.

The Select Society was established in imitation of the academies which
were then common in the larger towns of France, and was partly a
debating society for the discussion of topics of the day, and partly a
patriotic society for the promotion of the arts, sciences, and
manufactures of Scotland. The idea was first mooted by Allan Ramsay,
the painter, who had travelled in France as long ago as 1739, with
James Oswald, M.P., and was struck with some of the French
institutions. Smith was one of the first of Ramsay's friends to be
consulted about the suggestion, and threw himself so heartily into it
that when the painter announced his first formal meeting for the
purpose on the 23rd of May 1754, Smith was not only one of the fifteen
persons present, but was entrusted with the duty of explaining the
object of the meeting and the nature of the proposed institution. Dr.
A. Carlyle, who was present, says this was the only occasion he ever
heard Smith make anything in the nature of a speech, and he was but
little impressed with Smith's powers as a public speaker. His voice
was harsh, and his enunciation thick, approaching even to
stammering.[81] Of course many excellent speakers often stutter much
in making a simple business explanation which they are composing as
they go along, and Smith always stuttered and hesitated a deal for the
first quarter of an hour, even in his class lectures, though his
elocution grew free and animated, and often powerful, as he warmed to
his task.

The Society was established and met with the most rapid and remarkable
success. The fifteen original members soon grew to a hundred and
thirty, and men of the highest rank as well as literary name flocked
to join it. Kames and Monboddo, Robertson and Ferguson and Hume,
Carlyle and John Home, Blair and Wilkie and Wallace, the statistician;
Islay Campbell and Thomas Miller, the future heads of the Court of
Session; the Earls of Sutherland, Hopetoun, Marchmont, Morton,
Rosebery, Erroll, Aboyne, Cassilis, Selkirk, Glasgow, and Lauderdale;
Lords Elibank, Garlies, Gray, Auchinleck, and Hailes; John Adam, the
architect; Dr. Cullen, John Coutts, the banker and member for the
city; Charles Townshend, the witty statesman; and a throng of all that
was distinguished in the country, were enrolled as members, and, what
is more, frequented its meetings. It met every Friday evening from six
to nine, at first in a room in the Advocates' Library, but when that
became too small for the numbers that began to attend its meetings, in
a room hired from the Mason Lodge above the Laigh Council House; and
its debates, in which the younger advocates and ministers--men like
Wedderburn and Robertson--took the chief part, became speedily famous
over all Scotland as intellectual displays to which neither the
General Assembly of the Kirk nor the Imperial Parliament could show
anything to rival. Hume wrote in 1755 to Allan Ramsay, who had by that
time gone to settle in Rome, that the Select Society "has grown to be
a national concern. Young and old, noble and ignoble, witty and dull,
laity and clergy, all the world are ambitious of a place amongst us,
and on each occasion we are as much solicited by candidates as if we
were to choose a member of Parliament." He goes on to say that "our
young friend Wedderburn has acquired a great character by the
appearance he has made," and that Wilkie, the minister, "has turned up
from obscurity and become a very fashionable man, as he is indeed a
very singular one. Monboddo's oddities divert, Sir David's (Lord
Hailes) zeal entertains, Jack Dalrymple's (Sir John of the _Memoirs_)
rhetoric interests. The long drawling speakers have found out their
want of talents and rise seldomer. In short, the House of Commons is
less the object of general curiosity to London than the Select Society
is to Edinburgh. The 'Robin Hood,' the 'Devil,' and all other speaking
societies are ignoble in comparison."[82]

At the second regular meeting, which was held on the 19th of June
1754, Mr. Adam Smith was Præses, and gave out the subjects for debate
on the following meeting night: (1) Whether a general naturalisation
of foreign Protestantism would be advantageous to Britain; and (2)
whether bounties on the exportation of corn be advantageous to trade
and manufactures as well as to agriculture.[83] Lord Campbell in
mentioning this circumstance makes it appear as if Smith chose the
latter subject of his own motion, in accordance with a rule of the
society whereby the chairman of one meeting selected the subject for
debate at the next meeting; and it would have been a not uninteresting
circumstance if it were true, for it would show the line his ideas
were taking at that early period of his career; but as a matter of
fact the rule in question was not adopted for some time after the
second meeting, and it is distinctly mentioned in the minutes that on
this particular occasion the Præses "declared before he left the chair
the questions that were agreed upon by the majority of the meeting to
be the subject of next night's debate."[84] It is quite possible, of
course, that the subjects may have been of Smith's suggestion, but
that can now only be matter of conjecture. Indeed, whether it be due
to his influence or whether it arose merely from a general current of
interest moving in that direction at the time, the subjects, discussed
by this society were very largely economic; so much so that in a
selection of them published by the _Scots Magazine_ in 1757 every one
partakes of that character. "What are the advantages to the public and
the State from grazing? what from corn lands? and what ought to be
most encouraged in this country? Whether great or small farms are most
advantageous to the country? What are the most proper measures for a
gentleman to promote industry on his own estate? What are the
advantages and disadvantages of gentlemen of estate being farmers?
What is the best and most proper duration of leases of land in
Scotland? What prestations beside the proper tack-duty tenants ought
to be obliged to pay with respect to carriages and other services,
planting and preserving trees, maintaining enclosures and houses,
working freestone, limestone, coal, or minerals, making enclosures,
straightening marches, carrying off superfluous water to other
grounds, and forming drains? and what restrictions they should be put
under with respect to cottars, live stock on the farm, winter herding,
ploughing the ground, selling manure, straw, hay, or corn, thirlage to
mills, smiths or tradesmen employed on business extrinsic to the farm,
subsetting land, granting assignations of leases, and removals at the
expiration of leases? What proportion of the produce of lands should
be paid as rent to the master? In what circumstances the rents of
lands should be paid in money? in what in kind? and in what time they
should be paid? Whether corn should be sold by measure or by weight?
What is the best method of getting public highways made and repaired,
whether by a turnpike law, as in many places in Great Britain, by
county or parish work, by a tax, or by what other method? What is the
best and most equal way of hiring and contracting servants? and what
is the most proper method to abolish the practice of giving of
vails?"[85] The society had what may be termed a special agricultural
branch, to which I shall presently refer, and which met once a month
and discussed chiefly questions of husbandry and land management; and
the above list of subjects looks, from its almost exclusively agrarian
character, as if it had been rather the business of this branch of the
society merely than of the society as a whole. Still the same causes
that made rural economy predominate in the monthly work of the branch
would give it a large place in the weekly discussions of the parent
association. The members were largely connected with the landed
interest, and agricultural improvement was then on the order of the

In this society accordingly, which Smith attended very frequently,
though he does not appear to have spoken in the debates, he had with
respect to agrarian problems precisely what he had in the economic
club of Glasgow with respect to commercial problems, the best
opportunities of hearing them discussed at first hand by those who
were practically most conversant with the subjects in all their
details. Of course the society sometimes discussed questions of
literature or art, or familiar old historical controversies, such as
whether Brutus did well in killing Cæsar? Indeed, no subject was
expressly tabooed except such as might stir up the Deistic or Jacobite
strife--in the words of the rules, "such as regard revealed religion,
or which may give occasion to vent any principles of Jacobitism." But
the great majority of the questions debated were of an economic or
political character,--questions about outdoor relief, entail, banking,
linen export bounties, whisky duties, foundling hospitals, whether the
institution of slavery be advantageous to the free? and whether a
union with Ireland would be advantageous to Great Britain? Sometimes
more than one subject would be got through in a night, sometimes the
debate on a single subject would be adjourned from week to week till
it was thought to be thrashed out; and every member might speak three
times in the course of a debate if he chose, once for fifteen minutes,
and the other twice for ten.

The Select Society was, however, as I have said, more than a debating
club; it aimed besides at doing something practical for the promotion
of the arts, sciences, manufactures, and agriculture, in the land of
its birth, and accordingly, when it was about ten months in existence,
it established a well-devised and extensive scheme of prizes for
meritorious work in every department of human labour, to be supported
by voluntary subscriptions. In the prospectus the society issued it
says that, after the example of foreign academies, it had resolved to
propose two subjects for competition every year, chosen one from
polite letters and the other from the sciences, and to confer on the
winner some public mark of distinction in respect to his taste and
learning. The reward, however, was not in this case to be of a
pecuniary nature, for the principle of the society was that rewards of
merit were in the finer arts to be honorary, but in the more useful
arts, where the merit was of a less elevated character, they were to
be lucrative. On the same principle, in the arts the highest place was
allowed to be due to genius, and therefore a reward for a discovery or
invention was set at the very top of the tree, but still it was of a
purely honorary character, a pecuniary recognition being thought
apparently unsuitable to the dignity of that kind of service. "The art
of printing," the prospectus goes on to say--with a glance of
satisfaction cast doubtless at the Foulis Press--"the art of printing
in this country needs no encouragement, yet as to pass it by unnoticed
were slighting the merit of those by whose means alone it has attained
that eminence, it was resolved that the best printed and most correct
book which shall be produced within a limited time be distinguished by
an honorary reward." On the other hand, the manufacture of paper was a
thing that required encouragement in Scotland, because the Scotch at
that time imported their paper from abroad, "from countries," says the
prospectus, "which use not half the linen that is here consumed"; and
"to remove this defect, to render people more attentive to their own
interest as well as to the interest of their country, to show them the
consequence of attention to matters which may seem trivial, it was
resolved that for the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth parcels
of linen rags gathered within a limited time a reward be assigned in
proportion to the quantity and goodness of each parcel." In other
cases manufactures were already well established in the country, and
the thing that still needed to be encouraged by prizes was improvement
in the workmanship. For example, "manufactures of cotton and linen
prints are already established in different places of this country; in
order to promote an attention to the elegance of the pattern and to
the goodness of the colouring, as well as to the strength of the
cloth, it was resolved that for the best piece of printed linen or
cotton cloth made within a certain period a premium should be
allotted." The art of drawing, again, "being closely connected with
this art and serviceable to most others, it was resolved that for the
best drawings by boys or girls under sixteen years of age certain
premiums be assigned." Then there was a considerable annual
importation into Scotland of worked ruffles and of bone lace and
edging which the Select Society thought might, under proper
encouragement, be quite as well produced at home; and it was therefore
resolved to give both honorary and lucrative rewards for superior
merit in such work, the honorary for "women of fashion" who might
compete, and the lucrative for those "whose laudable industry
contributes to their own support." Scotch stockings had then a great
reputation for the excellence of their workmanship, but Scotch
worsted, to make them with, was not so good, and consequently a
premium was to be offered for the best woollen yarn. There was a great
demand at the time for English blankets, and no reason why the Scotch
should not make quite as good blankets themselves out of their own
wool, so a premium was proposed for the best imitation of English
blankets. Carpet-making was begun in several places in the country,
and a prize for the best-wrought and best-patterned carpet would
encourage the manufacturers to vie with each other. Whisky-distilling,
too, was established at different places, and Scotch strong ale had
even acquired a great and just reputation both at home and abroad; but
the whisky was "still capable of great improvement in the quality and
taste," and the ale trade "might be carried to a much greater height,"
and these ends might be severally promoted by prizes for the best tun
of whisky and the best hogshead of strong ale.

The practical execution of this scheme was committed to nine members
of the society, who were to be chosen annually, and were to meet with
the society once a month to report progress or receive instructions;
but to keep this new task quite distinct from the old, the society
resolved, like certain mercantile firms when they adopt a new branch
of business, to carry it on under a new firm name, and for this
purpose the Select Society of Edinburgh became "The Edinburgh Society
for encouraging arts, sciences, manufactures, and agriculture in
Scotland"; and the executive committee of nine were termed the
"ordinary managers of the Edinburgh Society," who were assisted by
other nine "extraordinary managers." The Edinburgh Society was not,
however, a separate institution; it was really only a special
committee of the Select Society. It met once a month at a separate
time from the usual weekly meeting of the parent society, and the
business of this monthly meeting came, from the predominant interest
of the members, who were so largely composed of the nobility and
gentry, to be engrossed almost wholly with agricultural discussions.
To render these discussions more effective and profitable, a
resolution was passed in 1756 to admit a certain number of practical
farmers to the membership.

This extension of the scope of the society's work was not approved by
its founder, Allan Ramsay, who thought it beneath the dignity of such
an institution to take an interest in the making of ruffles or the
brewing of strong ale, and feared besides that it would introduce a
new set of very unintellectual members, to the serious prejudice of
the society's debates. An essay on taste was very well, and when it
came out he would ask Millar, the bookseller, to send it out to him in
Rome, but a prize for the biggest bundle of linen rags! "I could have
wished," he writes Hume, "that some other way had been fallen upon by
which porter might have been made thick and the nation rich without
our understanding being at all the poorer for it. Is not truth more
than meat, and wisdom than raiment?"[86] But however Ramsay might look
down on the project, his coadjutor in the founding of the society,
Adam Smith, entertained a very different idea of its importance. A
stimulus to the development of her industries was the very thing
Scotland most needed at the moment, and he entered heartily into the
new scheme, and took a prominent part in carrying it out. He was not
one of the nine managers to whom the practical execution of the idea
was at first entrusted, but when a few months afterwards the work was
divided among four separate committees or sections of five members
each, all chosen by another committee of five, nominated expressly for
that purpose, Smith is one of this nominating committee, and is by it
appointed likewise a member of one of the four executive committees.
The other four members of the nominating committee were Alexander
Monro _Primus_, the anatomist; Gilbert Elliot, M.P. for Selkirkshire;
the Rev. William Wilkie, author of the _Epigoniad_; and the Rev.
Robert Wallace, the predecessor and at least in part the stimulator of
Malthus in his speculations on the population question. The five
members of this committee were directed by the society to put their
own names on one or other of the four executive committees, and they
placed the name of Smith, together with that of Hume, on the committee
for Belles-Lettres and Criticism. As yet he was evidently best known
as literary critic, though the questions propounded by him in this
society, and the subjects treated by him in the Literary Society of
Glasgow, show that his tastes were already leading him into other

Sufficient contributions soon flowed in; Hume in his letter to Ramsay
speaks of £100 being already in hand, and of several large
subscriptions besides being promised from various noblemen, whom he
names; and accordingly an advertisement was published in the
newspapers on the 10th of April 1755, offering the following prizes:--

     I. Honorary premiums, being gold medals with suitable
     devices and inscriptions:--

     1. For the best discovery in science.

     2. For the best essay on taste.

     3. For the best dissertation on vegetation and the
     principles of agriculture.

     II. Honorary premiums, being silver medals with proper
     devices and inscriptions:--

     4. For the best printed and most correct book of at least 10

     5. For the best printed cotton or linen cloth, not under 28

     6. For the best imitation of English blankets, not under

     7. For the next best ditto, not under six.

     8. For the best hogshead of strong ale.

     9. For the best hogshead of porter.

     III. Lucrative premiums:--

     10. For the most useful invention in arts, £21.

     11. For the best carpet as to work, pattern, and colours, of
     at least 48 yards,.£5:5s.

     12. For the next best ditto, also 48 yards, £4:4s.

     13. For the best drawings of fruits, flowers, and foliages
     by boys or girls under sixteen years of age, £5:5s.

     14. For the second best, £3:3s.

     15. For the third best, £2:2s.

     16. For the best imitation of Dresden work in a pair of
     man's ruffles, £5:5s.

     17. For the best bone lace, not under 20 yards, £5:5s.

     18. For the greatest quantity of white linen rags, £1:10s.

     19. For the second ditto, £1:5s.

     20. For the third ditto, £1.

     21. For the fourth ditto, 15s.

     22. For the fifth ditto, 10s.

The articles were asked to be delivered to Mr. Walter Goodall (David
Hume's assistant in the work of librarian), at the Advocates' Library,
before the first Monday of December.[87] On the 19th of August the
following additional prizes were offered:--

     23. To the farmer who plants the greatest number (not under
     1000) of timber trees, oak, beech, ash, or elm, in hedgerows
     before December 1756, £10.

     24. Second ditto (not under 500), £5.

     25. To the farmer who shall raise the greatest number (not
     under 2000) of young thorn plants before December 1758, £6.

     26. Second ditto (not under 1000), £4.

In the following year the society increased the number of its prizes
to 92; in 1757 to 120, in 1758 to 138, and in 1759 to 142; and they
were devoted to the encouragement of every variety of likely
industry--kid gloves, straw hats, felt hats, soap, cheese, cradles to
be made of willow grown in Scotland. One premium was offered to the
person who would "cure the greatest number of smoky chimneys to the
satisfaction of the society."

The prize for the best essay on taste was won by Professor Gerard of
Aberdeen, and the essay was published, and is still well known to
students of metaphysics; and the prize for the best dissertation on
vegetation and agriculture fell to Dr. Francis Home. The best
invention was a piece of linen made like Marseille work but on a loom,
and for this £20 were awarded to Peter Brotherton, weaver in Dirleton,
East Lothian. Foulis won in 1757 the prize for the best printed book
in Roman characters by his _Horace_, and for the best printed book in
Greek characters by his _Iliad_; and in 1759 Professor Gerard again
won a prize by his dissertation on style.

This society, while it lasted, undoubtedly exercised a most beneficial
influence in developing and improving the industrial resources of
Scotland. The carpet manufacture alone rose £1000 in the year after
the establishment of the prizes, and the rise was believed to be due
to the stimulus they imparted. But, useful and active and celebrated
as it was, the Select Society died within ten years of its origin. The
usual explanation is that it owed its death to the effects of a
sarcasm of Charles Townshend's. Townshend was brought to hear one of
the wonderful debates, which were thought to reflect a new glory on
Edinburgh, and was even elected a member of the society, but he
observed when he came out that, while he admitted the eloquence of the
orators, he was unable to understand a word they said, inasmuch as
they spoke in what was to him a foreign tongue. "Why," he asked, "can
you not learn to speak the English language, as you have already
learnt to write it?"[88]

This was to touch Scotchmen of that period who made any pretensions to
education at one of their most sensitive parts. Scotch--the broad
dialect of Burns and Fergusson--was still the common medium of
intercourse in polite society, and might be heard even from the pulpit
or the bench, though English was flowing rapidly into fashion, and the
younger and more ambitious sort of people were trying their best to
lose the native dialect. We know the pains taken by great writers like
Hume and Robertson to clear their English composition of Scotch
idioms, and the greater but less successful pains taken by Wedderburn
to cure himself of his Scotch pronunciation, to which he reverted
after all in his old age. Under these circumstances Townshend's
sarcasm occasioned almost a little movement of lingual reform. Thomas
Sheridan, who was about this time full of a method he had invented of
imparting to foreigners a proper pronunciation of the English language
by means of sounds borrowed from their own, and who had just been
giving lessons to Wedderburn, and probably practising the new method
on him, was brought north in 1761 and delivered a course of sixteen
lectures in St. Paul's Chapel, Carrubber's Close, to about 300
gentlemen--"the most eminent," it is reported, "in the country for
rank and abilities." Immediately thereafter the Select Society
organised a special association for promoting the writing and speaking
of the English language in Scotland, and engaged a teacher of correct
English pronunciation from London. Smith was not one of the directors
of this new association, but Robertson, Ferguson, and Blair were,
together with a number of peers, baronets, lords of Session, and
leaders of the bar. But spite of the imposing auspices under which
this simple project of an English elocution master was launched, it
proved a signal failure, for it touched the national vanity. It seemed
to involve a humiliating confession of inferiority to a rival nation
at the very moment when that nation was raging with abuse of the
Scotch, when Wilkes was publishing the _North Briton_, and Churchill
was writing his lampoons; and when it was advertised in the Edinburgh
newspapers, it provoked such a storm of antipathy and ridicule that
even the honourable society which furthered the scheme began to lose
favour, its subscriptions and membership declined, and presently the
whole organisation fell to pieces. That is the account commonly given
of the fall of the Select Society, and the society certainly reached
its culminating point in 1762. After that subscribers withdrew their
names, or refused to pay their subscriptions, and in 1765 the society
had no funds to offer more than six prizes and ceased to exist, its
own explanation being that it died of the loss of novelty. "The
arrears of subscriptions seem," it says, "to confirm an observation
that has sometimes been made, that in Scotland every disinterested
plan of public utility is slighted as soon as it loses the charm of

Another interesting but even more abortive project which Smith took a
leading part in promoting at this same period was the publication of a
new literary magazine, entitled the _Edinburgh Review_, of which the
first number appeared in July 1755, and the second and last in January
1756. This project also originated, like the Select Society, in a
sentiment of Scotch patriotism. It was felt that though Scotland was
at the time stirring with an important literary and scientific
movement, the productions of the Scotch press were too much ignored by
the English literary periodicals, and received inadequate
appreciation even in Scotland itself for want of a good critical
journal on the spot. "If countries may be said to have their ages with
respect to improvement," says the preface to the first number of the
new _Review_, "then North Britain may be considered as in a state of
early youth, guided and supported by the more mature strength of her
kindred country. If in anything her advances have been such as to make
a more forward state, it is in science." After remarking that the two
obstacles to the literary advancement of Scotland had hitherto been
her deficiency in the art of printing and her imperfect command of
good English, and that the first of these obstacles had been removed
entirely, and the second shown by recent writers to be capable of
being surmounted, it proceeds: "The idea therefore was that to show
men at this particular stage of the country's progress the gradual
advance of science would be a means of inciting them to a more eager
pursuit of learning, to distinguish themselves and to do honour to
their country." The editor was Alexander Wedderburn, who afterwards
became Lord High Chancellor of England and Earl of Rosslyn, but had in
1755 only just passed as an advocate at the Scotch bar; and the
contributors were Robertson, who wrote eight review articles on new
historical publications; Blair, who gave one or two indifferent
notices of works in philosophy; Jardine, one of the ministers of
Edinburgh, who discussed Ebenezer Erskine's sermons, a few theological
pamphlets, and Mrs. Cleland's Cookery Book; and Adam Smith, who
contributed to the first number a review of Dr. Johnson's
_Dictionary_, and to the second a remarkable letter to the editor
proposing to widen the scope of the _Review_, and giving a striking
survey of the state of contemporary literature in all the countries of
Europe. Smith's two contributions are out of sight the ablest and most
important articles the _Review_ published.

He gives a warm and most appreciative welcome to Johnson's
_Dictionary_, but thinks it would have been improved if the author had
in the first place more often censured words not of approved use, and
if in the second he had, instead of simply enumerating the several
meanings of a word, arranged them into classes and distinguished
principal from subsidiary meanings. Then to illustrate what he wants,
Smith himself writes two model articles, one on _Wit_ and the other on
_Humour_, both acute and interesting. He counts humour to be always
something accidental and fitful, the disease of a disposition, and he
considers it much inferior to wit, though it may often be more
amusing. "Wit expresses something that is more designed, concerted,
regular, and artificial; humour something that is more wild, loose,
extravagant, and fantastical; something which comes upon a man by fits
which he can neither command nor restrain, and which is not perfectly
consistent with true politeness. Humour, it has been said, is often
more diverting than wit; yet a man of wit is as much above a man of
humour as a gentleman is above a buffoon; a buffoon, however, will
often divert more than a gentleman."

In his second contribution--a long letter to the editor published in
the appendix to the second number--Smith advocates the enlargement of
the scope of the _Review_ so as to give some account of works of
importance published abroad, even though space had to be provided for
the purpose by neglecting unimportant publications issued from the
Scotch press, and, in fact, he considers this substitution as a
necessity for the continued life of the _Review_. For, says he, "you
will oblige the public much more by giving them an account of such
books as are worthy of their regard than by filling your paper with
all the insignificant literary news of the time, of which not an
article in a hundred is likely to be thought of a fortnight after the
publication of the work that gave occasion to it." He then proceeds to
a review of contemporary continental literature, which he says meant
at that time the literature of France. Italy had ceased to produce
literature, and Germany produced only science. A sentence or two may
be quoted from his comparison between French and English literature,
because they show that he was not, as he is sometimes accused of
being, an unfair depreciator of the great writers of England and a
blind admirer of those of France. He will be owned to have had a very
just opinion of the specific merits of each.

"Imagination, genius, and invention," he says, "seem to be the talents
of the English; taste, judgment, propriety, and order, of the French.
In the old English poets, in Shakespeare, Spenser, and Milton, there
often appears, amidst some irregularities and extravagancies, a
strength of imagination so vast, so gigantic and supernatural, as
astonishes and confounds the reader into that admiration of their
genius which makes him despise as mean and insignificant all criticism
upon the inequalities of their writings. In the eminent French writers
such sallies of genius are more rarely to be met with, but instead of
them a just arrangement, an exact propriety and decorum, joined to an
equal and studied elegance of sentiment and diction, which, as it
never strikes the heart like those violent and momentary flashes of
imagination, so it never revolts the judgment by anything that is
absurd or unnatural, nor ever wearies the attention by any gross
inequality in the style or want of connection in the method, but
entertains the mind with a regular succession of agreeable,
interesting, and connected objects."

From poetry he passes to philosophy, and finds that the French
encyclopedists had left their native Cartesian system for the English
system of Bacon and Newton, and were proving more effective expositors
of that system than the English themselves. After reviewing the
_Encyclopédie_ at considerable length, he gives an account of the
recent scientific works of Buffon and Reaumur, and, among books in
metaphysics, of Rousseau's famous _Discourse on the Origin and
Foundation of the Inequality of Mankind_, which was then only a few
months out, and in which, Smith says, Rousseau, "by the help of his
style, together with a little philosophical chemistry," has made "the
principles and ideas of the profligate Mandeville seem to have all the
purity and simplicity of the morals of Plato, and to be only the true
spirit of a republican carried a little too far." He gives a summary
of the book, translates a few specimen passages, and concludes by
saying, "I shall only add that the dedication to the Republic of
Geneva, of which M. Rousseau has the honour of being a citizen, is an
agreeable, animated, and I believe, too, a just panegyric."

Sir James Mackintosh, who republished these two numbers of the first
_Edinburgh Review_ in 1818 after the second _Edinburgh Review_ had
made the name famous, considers it noteworthy, as showing the
contributors to have taken up a very decided political position for so
early a period, that the preface to the first number speaks boldly in
praise of George Buchanan's "undaunted spirit of liberty." But Smith's
warm expression of admiration for the Republic of Geneva, to which he
reckons it an honour to belong, is equally notable. He seems to have
been always theoretically a republican, and he certainly had the true
spirit of a republican in his love of all rational liberty. His pupil
and lifelong friend, the Earl of Buchan, says: "He approached to
republicanism in his political principles, and considered a
commonwealth as the platform for the monarchy, hereditary succession
in the chief magistrate being necessary only to prevent the
commonwealth from being shaken by ambition, or absolute dominion
introduced by the consequences of contending factions."[90]

Smith's scheme for the improvement of the _Review_ was never carried
out, for with that number the _Review_ itself came to a sudden and
premature end. The reason for giving it up is explained by Lord
Woodhouselee to have been that the strictures passed by it on some
fanatical publications of the day had excited such a clamour "that a
regard to the public tranquillity and their own determined the
reviewers to discontinue their labours."[91] Doubt has been expressed
of the probability of this explanation, but Lord Woodhouselee, who was
personally acquainted with several of the contributors, is likely to
have known of the circumstances, and his statement is borne out
besides by certain corroborative facts. It is true the theological
articles of the two numbers appear to us to be singularly inoffensive.
They were entrusted to the only contributor who was not a young man,
Dr. Jardine, the wily leader of the Moderate party in the Church, the
Dean of the Thistle mentioned in Lord Dreghorn's verses as governing
the affairs of the city as well as the Church through his power over
his father-in-law--

    The old Provost, who danced to the whistle
    Of that arch politician, the Dean of the Thistle.

The arch politician contrived to make his theological criticism
colourless even to the point of vapidity, but that did not save him or
his _Review_; it perhaps only exposed them the more to the attacks of
zealots. His notice of the sermons of Ebenezer Erskine, the Secession
leader, provoked a sharp pamphlet from Erskine's son, in which the
reviewers were accused of teaching unsound theological views, of
putting the creature before the Creator by allowing the lawfulness of
a lie in certain situations, of throwing ridicule on the Bible and the
Westminster _Confession of Faith_, and of having David Hume, an
atheist, among their number.

This last thrust was a mere controversial guess, and, strangely
enough, it guessed wrong. A new literary review is started in
Edinburgh by a few of Hume's younger friends, and Hume himself--the
only one of them who had yet made any name in literature, and the most
distinguished man of letters then in Scotland--is neither asked to
contribute to the periodical, nor even admitted to the secret of its
origination. When the first number appeared he went about among his
acquaintances expressing the greatest surprise that so promising a
literary adventure should be started by Edinburgh men of letters
without a whisper of it ever reaching his ears. More than that, his
very name and writings were strangely and studiously ignored in its
pages. His _History of the Stewarts_ was one of the last new books,
having been published in the end of 1754, and was unquestionably much
the most important work that had recently come from any Scotch pen,
yet in a periodical instituted for the very purpose of devoting
attention to the productions of Scotch authors, this work of his
remained absolutely unnoticed.

Why this complete boycott of Hume by his own household? Henry
Mackenzie "thinks he has heard" two reasons given for it: first, that
Hume was considered too good-natured for a critic, and certain to have
insisted on softening remarks his colleagues believed to be called
for; and second, that they determined to keep him out of the secret
entirely, because he could not keep a secret.[92] But this explanation
does not hold together. If Hume was so good-natured, he would be less
difficult rather than more difficult to manage; and as for not being
able to keep a secret, that, as Mr. Burton observes, is a very
singular judgment to pass on one who had been Secretary of Legation
already and was soon to be Secretary of Legation again, and Under
Secretary of State, without having been once under the shadow of such
an accusation. Besides, neither of these reasons will explain the
ignoring of his writings.

A more credible explanation must be looked for, and it can only be
discovered in the intense _odium theologicum_ which the name of Hume
excited at the moment, and which made it imperative, if the new
_Review_ was to get justice, that it should be severed from all
association with his detested name. Scotland happened to be at that
very hour in an exceptional ferment about his theological heresies,
and one of the strangest of proposals had come before the previous
General Assembly of the Kirk, backed by a number of the most respected
country clergy. It was no other than to summon the great sceptic to
their bar, to visit his _Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals_
with censure, and to pronounce against the author the major ban of

The wise heads who rule the Scotch Church courts of course threw out
this inconvenient proposal by the favourite ecclesiastical device of
passing an abstract resolution expressive of concern at the growing
evils of the day, without committing the Church to any embarrassing
practical action; and Hume himself was, as Wedderburn told them he
likely would be, hardened enough to laugh at the very idea of their
anathema. But the originators of the agitation only returned to the
battle, and prepared for a victory in the next Assembly in May 1756.
Between the two Assemblies Hume wrote his friend Allan Ramsay, the
painter, who was in Rome: "You may tell that reverend gentleman the
Pope that there are men here who rail at him, and yet would be much
greater persecutors had they equal power. The last Assembly sat on me.
They did not propose to burn me, because they cannot, but they
intended to give me over to Satan, which they think they have the
power of doing. My friends, however, prevailed, and my damnation is
postponed for a twelvemonth, but next Assembly will surely be upon
me."[93] And so in truth it was. An overture came up calling for
action regarding "one person calling himself David Hume, Esq., who
hath arrived at such a degree of boldness as publicly to avow himself
the author of books containing the most rude and open attacks upon the
glorious Gospel of Christ," and a motion was made for the appointment
of a committee "to inquire into the writings of this author, to call
him before them, and prepare the matter for the next General
Assembly." This motion was again defeated, and the heresy-hunters
passed on to turn their attention to Lord Kames, and to summon the
printers and publishers of his _Essays_ before the Edinburgh
Presbytery to give up the author's name (the book having been
published anonymously), "that he and they may be censured according to
the law of the Gospel and the practice of this and all other
well-governed churches."

It is open to us to believe that Hume's friends contemplated no more
than a temporary exclusion of him from their counsels until this storm
should pass by; but at any rate, as they launched their frail bark in
the very thick of the storm, it would have meant instant swamping at
that juncture to have taken the Jonah who caused all the commotion and
made him one of their crew. For the same reason, when they found that,
for all their precautions, the clamour overtook them notwithstanding,
they simply put back into port and never risked so unreasoning and
raging an element again.

It may indeed be thought that they declined Hume's co-operation,
because they expressly hoisted the flag of religion in their preface,
and professed one of their objects to be to resist the current attacks
of infidelity. But there would have been no inconsistency in engaging
the co-operation of an unbeliever on secular subjects, so long as they
retained the rudder in their own hands, and men who were already
Hume's intimate personal friends were not likely to be troubled with
such unnecessary scruples about their consistency. The true reason
both of Hume's exclusion from their secret and of their own
abandonment of their undertaking is undoubtedly the reason given by
Lord Woodhouselee, that they wanted to live and work in peace. They
did not like, to use a phrase of Hamilton of Bangour, to have "zeal
clanking her iron bands" about their ears. Hume, on the other hand,
rather took pleasure in the din he provoked, and had he been a
contributor the rest would have had difficulty--and may have felt
so--in restraining him from gratifying that taste when any favourable
opportunities offered.

While these things were going on in Edinburgh a book had made its
appearance from the London press, which is often stated to have been
written for the express purpose of converting Adam Smith to a belief
in the miraculous evidences of Christianity. That book is the
_Criterion of Miracles Examined_, by Smith's Oxford friend Bishop
Douglas, then a country rector in Shropshire. It is written in the
form of a letter to an anonymous correspondent, who had, in spite of
his "good sense, candour, and learning," and on grounds "many of them
peculiar to himself and not borrowed from books," "reasoned himself
into an unfavourable opinion of the evidences of Christianity"; and
this anonymous correspondent is said in Chalmers's _Biographical
Dictionary_ to have been "since known to be Adam Smith." From
Chalmers's _Dictionary_ the same statement has been repeated in the
same words in subsequent biographical dictionaries and elsewhere, but
neither Chalmers nor his successors reveal who it was to whom this was
known, or how he came to know it; and on the other hand, Macdonald,
the son-in-law and biographer of Douglas, makes no mention of Smith's
name in connection with this work at all, and explicitly states that
the book was written for the satisfaction of more than one of the
author's friends, who had been influenced by the objections of Hume
and others to the reality of the Gospel miracles.[94] This leaves the
point somewhat undetermined.

Smith was certainly a Theist, his writings leave no doubt of that, but
he most probably discarded the Christian miracles; and if Douglas's
book is addressed to his particular position, discarded them on the
ground that there is no possible criterion for distinguishing true
miracles from false, and enabling you to accept those of Christianity
if you reject those of profane history. The Earl of Buchan,
apostrophising Smith, asks, "Oh, venerable and worthy man, why was you
not a Christian?" and tries to let his old professor down as gently as
possible by suggesting that the reason lay in the warmth of his heart,
which always made him express strongly the opinions of his friends,
and carried him in this instance into sympathy with those of David
Hume. That is obviously a lame conclusion, because Smith's friendship
for Hume never made him a Tory, nor even on the point of religion were
his opinions identical with those of Hume; but Lord Buchan's words may
be quoted as an observation by an acute man of a feature in Smith's
character not without biographical interest. "Had he (Smith) been a
friend of the worthy ingenious Horrox," says his lordship, "he would
have believed that the moon sometimes disappeared in a clear sky
without the interposition of a cloud, or of another truly honest and
respectable man, that a professor of mathematics at Upsala had a tail
of six inches long to his rump."[95]

In 1756 the literary circle in Edinburgh was much excited by the
performance of John Home's tragedy of _Douglas_. Smith was not present
at that performance; but he is stated by Henry Mackenzie, in his _Life
of John Home_, to have been present at some of the previous rehearsals
of the play, and at any rate he was deeply interested in it; and Hume,
as soon as he hears of the continued success of the play in London,
hastens to communicate the welcome news to his friend in Glasgow, with
whom he was in correspondence about his own historical plans. Smith
seems to have been advising him, instead of following up his _History
of the Stewarts_ by the history of succeeding periods, to go back and
write the history of the period before the Stewarts.

After mentioning John Home, Hume proceeds: "I can now give you the
satisfaction of hearing that the play, though not near so well acted
in Covent Garden as in this place, is likely to be very successful.
Its great intrinsic merit breaks through all obstacles. When it shall
be printed (which shall be soon) I am persuaded it will be esteemed
the best, and by French critics the only tragedy of our language!...

"Did you ever hear of such madness and folly as our clergy have lately
fallen into? For my part, I expect that the next Assembly will very
solemnly pronounce the sentence of excommunication against me, but I
do not apprehend it to be a matter of any consequence; what do you

"I am somewhat idle at present and somewhat indifferent as to my next
undertaking. Shall I go backwards or forwards in my History? I think
you used to tell me that you approved more of my going backwards. The
other would be the more popular subject, but I am afraid I shall not
find materials sufficient to ascertain the truth, at least without
settling in London, which I own I have some reluctance to. I am
settled here very much to my mind, and would not wish at my years to
change the place of my abode.

"I have just now received a copy of _Douglas_ from London. It will
instantly be put in the press. I hope to be able to send you a copy in
the same parcel with the dedication."[96]

Hume was now very anxious to have his friend nearer him, and thought
in 1758 an opportunity could be contrived of translating Smith to a
chair in the University of Edinburgh. There was at that time some
probability of Professor Abercromby resigning the chair of Public Law
(then styled the chair of the Law of Nature and Nations), and as
Smith, though not a lawyer, was yet a distinguished professor of
jurisprudence, his friends in Edinburgh immediately suggested his
candidature, especially as they believed such a change would not be
unacceptable to himself. The chair of the Law of Nature and Nations
was one of the best endowed in the College, having a revenue of £150 a
year independently of fees, but it had been founded as a job, and
continued ever since to be treated as a sinecure. Not a single lecture
had ever been delivered by any of its incumbents, in spite of repeated
remonstrances on the part of the Faculty of Advocates, and Hume
believed that if the Town Council, as administrators of the College,
could be got to press for the delivery of the statutory lectures, the
present professor would prefer the alternative of resignation. In that
event the vacant office might easily, in Hume's opinion, be obtained
by Smith, inasmuch as the patronage was in the hands of the Crown, and
Crown patronage in Scotland at the time was virtually exercised
through Lord Justice-Clerk Milton (a nephew of Andrew Fletcher of
Saltoun, the patriot), who had been, ever since the death of Lord
President Forbes, the chief confidential adviser of the Duke of
Argyle, the Minister for Scotland, and was personally acquainted with
Smith through his daughter Mrs. Wedderburn of Gosford, the friend of
Robertson and John Home.

Others of Smith's Edinburgh friends zealously joined Hume in his
representations, especially the faithful Johnstone (afterwards Sir W.
Pulteney), who actually wrote Smith a letter on the subject along with
Hume's. Hume's letter is as follows:--

     DEAR SMITH--I sit down to write to you along with Johnstone,
     and as we have been talking over the matter, it is probable
     we shall employ the same arguments. As he is the younger
     lawyer, I leave him to open the case, and suppose that you
     have read his letter first. We are certain that the
     settlement of you here and of Ferguson at Glasgow would be
     perfectly easy by Lord Milton's Interest. The Prospect of
     prevailing with Abercrombie is also very good. For the same
     statesman by his influence over the Town Council could
     oblige him either to attend, which he never would do, or
     dispose of the office for the money which he gave for it.
     The only real difficulty is then with you. Pray then
     consider that this is perhaps the only opportunity we shall
     ever have of getting you to town. I dare swear that you
     think the difference of Place is worth paying something for,
     and yet it will really cost you nothing. You made above a
     hundred pound a year by your class when in this Place,
     though you had not the character of Professor. We cannot
     suppose that it will be less than a hundred and thirty after
     you are settled. John Stevenson[97]--and it is John
     Stevenson--makes near a hundred and fifty, as we were
     informed upon Enquiry. Here is a hundred pounds a year for
     eight years' Purchase, which is a cheap purchase, even
     considered in the way of a Bargain. We flatter ourselves
     that you rate our company at something, and the Prospect of
     settling Ferguson will be an additional inducement. For
     though we think of making him take up the Project if you
     refuse it, yet it is uncertain whether he will consent; and
     it is attended in his case with many very obvious
     objections. I beseech you therefore to weigh all these
     motives over again. The alteration of these circumstances
     merit that you should put the matter again in deliberation.
     I had a letter from Miss Hepburn, where she regrets very
     much that you are settled at Glasgow, and that we had the
     chance of seeing you so seldom.--I am, dear Smith, yours


     _8th June 1758._

     _P.S._--Lord Milton can with his finger stop the foul mouths
     of all the Roarers against heresy.[98]

The postscript shows what we have already indicated, that Smith had
not escaped the general hue and cry against heresy which was now for
some years abroad in the country.

The Miss Hepburn who regrets so much the remoteness of Smith's
residence is doubtless Miss Hepburn of Monkrig, near Haddington, one
of those gifted literary ladies who were then not infrequently to be
found in the country houses of Scotland. It was to Miss Hepburn and
her sisters that John Home is said to have been indebted for the
first idea of Douglas, and Robertson submitted to her the manuscript
of his _History of Scotland_ piece by piece as he wrote it. When it
was finished the historian sent her a presentation copy with a letter,
in which he said: "Queen Mary has grown up to her present form under
your eye; you have seen her in many different shapes, and you have now
a right to her. Were I a _galante_ writer now, what a fine contrast
might I make between you and Queen Mary? What a pretty string of
antitheses between your virtues and her vices. I am glad, however, she
did not resemble you. If she had, Rizzio would have only played first
fiddle at her consort (_sic_), with a pension of a thousand merks and
two benefits in a winter; Darnley would have been a colonel in the
Guards; Bothwell would, on account of his valour, have been Warden of
the Middle Marches, but would have been forbid to appear at court
because of his profligacy. But if all that had been done, what would
have become of my History?"[99]

Smith seems to have declined, for whatever reason, to take up the
suggestion of Hume about this chair of Law, for we find Hume presently
trying hard to secure the place for Ferguson. The difficulty may have
been about the price, for though Hume speaks of £800, it seems
Abercromby wanted more than £1000, and Ferguson too had no mind to
begin life with such a debt on his shoulders. But the world is
probably no loser by the difficulty, whatever it was, which kept Smith
five years longer among the merchants and commercial problems of

Smith was one of the founders, or at least the original members, of
the Edinburgh Poker Club in 1762. Every one has heard of that famous
club, but most persons probably think of it as if it were merely a
social or convivial society; and Mr. Burton lends some countenance to
that mistake by declaring that he has never been able to discover any
other object it existed for except the drinking of claret. But the
Poker Club was really a committee for political agitation, like the
Anti-Corn-Law League or the Home Rule Union; only, after the more
genial manners of those times, the first thing the committee thought
requisite for the proper performance of their work was to lay in a
stock of sound Burgundy that could be drawn from the wood at
eighteenpence or two shillings a quart, to engage a room in a tavern
for the exclusive use of the members, and establish a weekly or
bi-weekly dinner at a moderate figure, to keep the _poker_ of
agitation in active exercise. The club got its name from the practical
purpose it was instituted to serve; it was to be an instrument for
_stirring_ opinion, especially in high quarters, on a public question
which was exciting the people of Scotland greatly at the moment, the
question of the establishment of a national Scotch militia. Some of
the members thought that when that question was settled, the club
should go on and take up others. George Dempster of Dunnichen, for
example, an old and respected parliamentary hand of that time, wrote
Dr. Carlyle in 1762 that when they got their militia, they ought to
agitate for parliamentary reform, "so as to let the industrious farmer
and manufacturer share at last in a privilege now engrossed by the
great lord, the drunken laird, and the drunkener baillie."[100] But
they never got the length of considering other reforms, for the
militia question was not settled in that generation. It outlived the
Poker Club, and it outlived the Younger Poker Club which was enrolled
to take up the cause in 1786, and it was not finally settled till

The Scotch had been roused to the defenceless condition of their
country by the alarming appearance of Thurot in Scotch waters in 1759,
and had instantly with one voice raised a cry for the establishment of
a national militia. The whole country seemed to have set its mind on
this measure with a singular unanimity, and a bill for its enactment
was accordingly introduced into the House of Commons in 1760 by two of
the principal Scotch members, both former ministers of the
Crown--James Oswald and Gilbert Elliot; but it was rejected by a large
majority, because within only fifteen years of the Rebellion the
English members were unwilling to entrust the Scotch people with arms.
The rejection of the bill provoked a deep feeling of national
indignation, the slur it cast on the loyalty of Scotland being
resented even more than the indifference it showed to her perils. It
was under the influence of this wave of national sentiment that the
Poker Club was founded in 1762, to procure for the Scotch at once
equality of rights with the English and adequate defences for their

The membership of the club included many of the foremost men in the
land--great noblemen, advocates, men of letters, together with a
number of spirited county gentlemen on both sides of politics, who
cried that they had a militia of their own before the Union, and must
have a militia of their own again. Dr. Carlyle says most of the
members of the Select Society belonged to it, the exceptions
consisting of a few who disapproved of the militia scheme, and of
others, like the judges, who scrupled, on account of their official
position, to take any part in a political movement. Carlyle gives a
list of the members in 1774, containing among other names those of the
Duke of Buccleugh, Lords Haddington, Glasgow, Glencairn, Elibank, and
Mountstuart; Henry Dundas, Lord Advocate; Baron Mure, Hume, Adam
Smith, Robertson, Black, Adam Ferguson, John Home, Dr. Blair, Sir
James Steuart the economist, Dempster, Islay Campbell, afterwards Lord
President; and John Clerk of Eldin. The first secretary of the club
was William Johnstone (Sir William Pulteney), and, as has been
frequently told, David Hume was jocularly appointed to a sinecure
office created for him, the office of assassin, and lest Hume's
good-nature should unfit him for the duties, Andrew Crosbie, advocate
(the original of Scott's "Pleydell"), was made his assistant. The club
met at first in Tom Nicholson's tavern, the Diversorium, at the Cross,
and subsequently removed to more fashionable quarters at the famous
Fortune's in the Stamp Office Close, where the Lord High Commissioner
to the General Assembly held his levees, and the members dined every
Friday at two and sat till six. However the club may have pulled wires
in private, their public activity seems to have been very little; so
far at least as literary advocacy of their cause went, nothing
proceeded from it except a pamphlet by Dr. Carlyle, and a
much-overlauded squib by Adam Ferguson, entitled "A History of the
Proceedings in the Case of Margaret, commonly called Sister Peg."

Smith was, as I have said, one of the original members of the club,
and from Carlyle's list would appear to have continued a member till
1774; but he was not a member of the Younger Poker Club, established
in 1786. In the interval he had expressed in the _Wealth of Nations_ a
strong preference for a standing army over a national militia,[101]
after instituting a very careful examination of the whole subject.
Whether his views had changed since 1762, or whether he had joined in
the agitation for a militia merely as a measure of justice to Scotland
or as an expedient of temporary necessity, without committing himself
to any abstract admiration for the institution in general, I have no
means of deciding; but we can hardly think he ever shared that kind of
belief in the principle of a militia which animated men like Ferguson
and Carlyle, and which, according to them, animated the other members
of the club also at its birth. Ferguson says the club was founded
"upon the principle of zeal for a militia and a conviction that there
could be no lasting security for the freedom and independence of these
islands but in the valour and patriotism of an armed people";[102]
and when, during his travels in Switzerland in 1775, he saw for the
first time in his life a real militia--the object of his
dreams--actually moving before him in the flesh, and going through
their drill, his heart came to his mouth, and he wrote his friend
Carlyle: "As they were the only body of men I ever saw under arms on
the true principle for which arms should be carried, I felt much
secret emotion, and could have shed tears."[103] He was deeply
disappointed a year later with Smith's apostasy on this question, or
at least opposition, for Ferguson makes no accusation of apostasy.
After reading the _Wealth of Nations_, he wrote Smith on the 18th of
April 1776: "You have provoked, too, so far the Church, the
universities, and the merchants, against all of whom I am willing to
take your part; but you have likewise provoked the militia, and there
I must be against you. The gentlemen and peasants of this country do
not need the authority of philosophers to make them supine and
negligent of every resource they might have in themselves in the case
of certain extremities, of which the pressure, God knows, may be at no
great distance. But of this more at Philippi."[104]

But many others besides Smith had in this interval either found their
zeal for a militia grown cool or their opinion of its value modified,
and when Lord Mountstuart introduced his new Scotch Militia Bill in
1776, it received little support from Scotch members, and its
rejection excited nothing like the feeling roused by the rejection of
its predecessor in 1760, although it was attended this time with the
galling aggravation that what was refused to the Scotch was in the
same hour granted to the Irish, then the less disliked and distrusted
nation of the two. Opinions had grown divided. Old Fletcher of
Saltoun's idea of a citizen army with universal compulsory service
was still much discussed, but many now objected to the compulsion, and
others, among whom was Lord Kames, to the universality of the
compulsion, rallying to the idea of Fencibles--_i.e._ regiments to be
raised compulsorily by the landed proprietors, each furnishing a
number of men proportioned to their valued rent.[105] Smith said a
militia formed in this way, like the old Highland militia, was the
best of all militias, but he held that the day was past for militias
of men with one hand on the sword and the other on the plough, and
that nothing could now answer for what he calls "the noblest of all
arts," the art of war, but the division of labour, which answered best
for the arts of peace, and a standing army of soldiers by exclusive

Divided counsels and diminished zeal supply, no doubt, the main reason
for the decay of the Poker Club, but other causes combined. Dr.
Carlyle, who was an active member of the club, says it began to
decline when it transferred itself to more elegant quarters at
Fortune's, because its dinners became too expensive for the members;
and Lord Campbell attributes its dissolution definitely to the new
taxes imposed on French wines to pay the cost of the American War. His
statement is very explicit: "To punish the Government they agreed to
dissolve the 'Poker,' and to form another society which should exist
without consumption of any excisable commodity."[106] But he gives no
authority for the statement, and they are at least not likely to have
been such fools as to think of punishing the Government by what was
after all only an excellent way of punishing themselves. The wine duty
was no doubt a real enough grievance; it was raised five or six times
during the club's existence, and many a man who enjoyed his quart of
Burgundy when the duty was less than half-a-crown a gallon, was
obliged to do without it when the duty rose to seven shillings. It
may be worth adding, however, that the Poker Club was revived as the
Younger Poker Club in the very year, 1786, when the duty on Burgundy
was reduced again by the new Commercial Treaty with France.


[75] Southey's Life of A. Bell, i. 23.

[76] Oswald had just been appointed commissioner for trade and

[77] _Correspondence of James Oswald_, p. 124.

[78] Burton's _Life of Hume_, i. 375.

[79] Mr. Burton thinks the Society mentioned in this paragraph to be
"evidently the Philosophical Society" of Edinburgh, but it seems much
more likely to have been the Literary Society of Glasgow, of which
Hume was also a member. Of the Philosophical Society he was himself
Secretary, and would therefore have been in the position of giving
warning rather than receiving it; nor would he have spoken of sending
that Society a paper which he would be on the spot to read himself.
Whether Smith was Secretary of the Glasgow Literary Society I do not
know, but even if he were not it would be nothing strange though the
communications of the Society with Hume were carried on through Smith,
his chief friend among the members, and his regular correspondent.

[80] Burton's _Life of Hume_, i. 417.

[81] Carlyle's _Autobiography_, p. 275.

[82] Burton's Scot Abroad, ii. 340.

[83] Minutes of Select Society, Advocates' Library, Edinburgh.

[84] Ibid.

[85] _Scots Magazine_, xix. 163.

[86] Burton's _Scot Abroad_, ii. 343.

[87] _Scots Magazine_ for year 1755, p. 126.

[88] Lord Campbell's _Lives of the Chancellors_, vi. 32.

[89] _Scots Magazine_, xxvi. 229.

[90] The _Bee_ for June 1791.

[91] Tytler's _Life of Lord Kames_, i. 233.

[92] _Life of John Home_, p. 24.

[93] Burton's _Scot Abroad_, ii. 343.

[94] Douglas's _Select Works_, p. 23.

[95] The _Bee_ for 1791.

[96] Burton's _Life of Hume_, ii. 16.

[97] Professor of Logic.

[98] Burton's _Life of Hume_, ii. 45.

[99] Fraser's _The Lennox_, p. xliv.

[100] _Carlyle Correspondence_, Edinburgh University Library.

[101] _Wealth of Nations_, Book V. chap. i.

[102] "Memoirs of Black," _Transactions,_ R.S.E., v. 113.

[103] _Carlyle Correspondence,_ Edinburgh University.

[104] Small, _Sketch of A. Ferguson,_ p. 23.

[105] Kames, _Sketches of Man_, Book II. chap. ix.

[106] Campbell's _Lives of the Lord Chancellors_, vi. 28.



1759. _Aet._ 36

Smith enjoyed a very high Scotch reputation long before his name was
known to the great public by any contribution to literature. But in
1759 he gave his _Theory of Moral Sentiments_ to the press, and took
his place, by almost immediate and universal recognition, in the first
rank of contemporary writers. The book is an essay supporting and
illustrating the doctrine that moral approbation and disapprobation
are in the last analysis expressions of sympathy with the feelings of
an imaginary and impartial spectator, and its substance had already
been given from year to year in his ordinary lectures to his students,
though after the publication he thought it no longer necessary to
dwell at the same length on this branch of his course, giving more
time, no doubt, to jurisprudence and political economy. The book was
published in London by Andrew Millar in two vols. 8vo. It was from the
first well received, its ingenuity, eloquence, and great copiousness
of effective illustration being universally acknowledged and admired.
Smith sent a copy to Hume in London, and received the following reply,
which contains some interesting particulars of the reception of the
book there:--

     LONDON, _12th April 1759_.

     DEAR SIR--I give you thanks for the agreeable present of
     your _Theory_. Wedderburn and I made presents of our copies
     to such of our acquaintances as we thought good judges and
     proper to spread the reputation of the book. I sent one to
     the Duke of Argyle, to Lord Lyttelton, Horace Walpole, Soame
     Jenyns, and Burke, an Irish gentleman who wrote lately a
     very pretty treatise on the Sublime. Millar desired my
     permission to send one in your name to Dr. Warburton.

     I have delayed writing you till I could tell you something
     of the success of the book, and could prognosticate with
     some probability whether it should be finally damned to
     oblivion or should be registered in the temple of
     immortality. Though it has been published only a few weeks,
     I think there appear already such strong symptoms that I can
     almost venture to foretell its fate. It is, in short, this--

     But I have been interrupted in my letter by a foolish
     impertinent visit of one who has lately come from Scotland.
     He tells me that the University of Glasgow intend to declare
     Rouet's office vacant upon his going abroad with Lord Hope.
     I question not but you will have our friend Ferguson in your
     eye, in case another project for procuring him a place in
     the University of Edinburgh should fail. Ferguson has very
     much polished and improved his _Treatise on Refinement_, and
     with some amendments it will make an admirable book, and
     discovers an elegant and singular genius. The _Epigoniad_, I
     hope, will do, but it is somewhat uphill work. As I doubt
     not but you consult the Reviews sometimes at present, you
     will see in _The Critical Review_ a letter upon that poem;
     and I desire you to employ your conjectures in finding out
     the author. Let me see a sample of your skill in knowing
     hints by guessing at the person.

     I am afraid of Kames's _Law Tracts_. The man might as well
     think of making a fine sauce by a mixture of wormwood and
     aloes as an agreeable combination by joining metaphysics and
     Scottish law. However, the book, I believe, has merit,
     though few people ever take the pains of inquiring into it.
     But to return to your book and its success in this town. I
     must tell you--

     A plague to interruptions! I ordered myself to be denied,
     and yet here is one that has broke in upon me again. He is a
     man of letters, and we have had a good deal of literary
     conversation. You told me that you was curious of literary
     anecdotes, and therefore I shall inform you of a few that
     have come to my knowledge. I believe I have mentioned to you
     already Helvetius's book _De l'Esprit_. It is worth your
     reading, not for its philosophy, which I do not highly
     value, but for its agreeable composition. I had a letter
     from him a few days ago, wherein he tells me that my name
     was much oftener in the manuscript, but that the censor of
     books at Paris obliged him to strike it out.

     Voltaire has lately published a small work called _Candide,
     ou l'Optimisme_. I shall give you a detail of it. But what
     is all this to my book, say you? My dear Mr. Smith, have
     patience; compose yourself to tranquillity. Show yourself a
     philosopher in practice as well as profession. Think on the
     impotence and rashness and futility of the common judgments
     of men, how little they are regulated by reason on any
     subject, much more on philosophical subjects, which so far
     exceed the comprehension of the vulgar--

                         Non, si quid turbida Roma
         Elevet, accedas: examenve improbum in iliâ
         Castiges trutinâ: nec te quaesiveris extra.

     A wise man's kingdom is his own heart; or, if he ever looks
     farther, it will only be to the judgment of a select few,
     who are free from prejudices and capable of examining; his
     work. Nothing, indeed, can be a stronger presumption of
     falsehood than the approbation of the multitude; and
     Phocion, you know, always suspected himself of some blunder
     when he was attended with the applause of the populace.

     Supposing, therefore, that you have duly prepared yourself
     for the worst by all these reflections, I proceed to tell
     you the melancholy news that your book has been very
     unfortunate, for the public seem disposed to applaud it
     extremely. It was looked for by the foolish people with some
     impatience; and the mob of literati are beginning already to
     be very loud in its praises. Three bishops called yesterday
     at Millar's shop in order to buy copies, and to ask
     questions about the author. The Bishop of Peterborough said
     he had passed the evening in a company where he heard it
     extolled above all books in the world. The Duke of Argyle is
     more decisive than he used to be in its favour. I suppose he
     either considers it as an exotic, or thinks the author will
     be very serviceable to him in the Glasgow elections. Lord
     Lyttelton says that Robertson and Smith and Bower[107] are
     the glories of English literature. Oswald protests he does
     not know whether he has reaped more instruction or
     entertainment from it, but you may easily judge what
     reliance can be placed on his judgment. He has been engaged
     all his life in public business, and he never sees any
     faults in his friends. Millar exults and brags that
     two-thirds of the edition are already sold, and that he is
     now sure of success. You see what a son of the earth that
     is, to value books only by the profit they bring him. In
     that view, I believe, it may prove a very good book.

     Charles Townshend, who passes for the cleverest fellow in
     England, is so much taken with the performance that he said
     to Oswald he would put the Duke of Buccleugh under the
     author's care, and would make it worth his while to accept
     of that charge. As soon as I heard this I called on him
     twice with a view of talking with him about the matter, and
     of convincing him of the propriety of sending that young
     gentleman to Glasgow, for I could not hope that he could
     offer you any terms which would tempt you to renounce your
     professorship; but I missed him. Mr. Townshend passes for
     being a little uncertain in his resolutions, so perhaps you
     need not build much on his sally.

     In recompense for so many mortifying things, which nothing
     but truth could have extorted from me, and which I could
     easily have multiplied to a greater number, I doubt not but
     you are so good a Christian as to return good for evil, and
     to flatter my vanity by telling me that all the godly in
     Scotland abuse me for my account of John Knox and the
     Reformation. I suppose you are glad to see my paper end, and
     that I am obliged to conclude with--Your humble

On the 28th of July Hume again writes from London on the same

     I am very well acquainted with Bourke,[109] who was much
     taken with your book. He got your direction from me with a
     view of writing to you and thanking you for your present,
     for I made it pass in your name. I wonder he has not done
     it. He is now in Ireland. I am not acquainted with
     Jenyns,[110] but he spoke very highly of the book to Oswald,
     who is his brother in the Board of Trade. Millar showed me a
     few days ago a letter from Lord Fitzmaurice,[111] where he
     tells him that he has carried over a few copies to the Hague
     for presents. Mr. York[112] was very much taken with it, as
     well as several others who had read it.

     I am told that you are preparing a new edition, and propose
     to make some additions and alterations in order to obviate
     objections. I shall use the freedom to propose one; which,
     if it appears to be of any weight, you may have in your eye.
     I wish you had more particularly and fully proved that all
     kinds of sympathy are agreeable. This is the hinge of your
     system, and yet you only mention the matter cursorily on p.
     20. Now it would appear that there is a disagreeable
     sympathy as well as an agreeable. And, indeed, as the
     sympathetic passion is a reflex image of the principal, it
     must partake of its qualities, and be painful when that is
     so. Indeed, _when we converse with a man with whom we can
     entirely sympathise_, that is when there is a warm and
     intimate friendship, the cordial openness of such a commerce
     overbears the pain of a disagreeable sympathy, and renders
     the whole movement agreeable, but in ordinary cases this
     cannot have place. A man tired and disgusted with
     everything, always _ennuié_, sickly, complaining,
     embarrassed, such a one throws an evident damp on company,
     which I suppose would be accounted for by sympathy, and yet
     is disagreeable.

     It is always thought a difficult problem to account for the
     pleasure from the tears and grief and sympathy of tragedy,
     which would not be the case if all sympathy was agreeable.
     An hospital would be a more entertaining place than a ball.
     I am afraid that on p. 99 and 111 this proposition has
     escaped you, or rather is interwoven with your reasoning. In
     that place you say expressly, "It is painful to go along
     with grief, and we always enter into it with reluctance." It
     will probably be requisite for you to modify or explain this
     sentiment, and reconcile it to your system.[113]

Burke, who was thus reported by Hume to have been so much taken with
the book, reviewed it most favourably in the _Annual Register_, and
not only recognised Smith's theory as a new and ingenious one, but
accepted it as being "in all its essential parts just and founded on
truth and nature." "The author," he says, "seeks for the foundation of
the just, the fit, the proper, the decent, in our most common and most
allowed passions, and making approbation and disapprobation the tests
of virtue and vice, and showing that these are founded on sympathy, he
raises from this simple truth one of the most beautiful fabrics of
moral theory that has perhaps ever appeared. The illustrations are
numerous and happy, and show the author to be a man of uncommon
observation. His language is easy and spirited, and puts things before
you in the fullest light; it is rather painting than writing."[114]
One of the most interesting characteristics of the book, from a
biographical point of view, is that mentioned by this reviewer; it
certainly shows the author to have been a man of uncommon observation,
not only of his own mental states, but of the life and ways of men
about him; as Mackintosh remarks, the book has a high value for "the
variety of explanations of life and manners which embellish" it, apart
altogether from the thesis it is written to prove.[115]

Charles Townshend adhered to his purpose about Smith with much more
steadiness than Hume felt able to give him credit for. Townshend, it
need perhaps hardly be said, was the brilliant but flighty young
statesman to whom we owe the beginnings of our difficulties with
America. He was the colonial minister who first awoke the question of
"colonial rights," by depriving the colonists of the appointment of
their own judges, and he was the Chancellor of the Exchequer who
imposed the tea duty in 1767 which actually provoked the rebellion. "A
man," says Horace Walpole, "endowed with every great talent, who must
have been the greatest man of his age if he had only common sincerity,
common steadiness, and common sense." "In truth," said Burke, "he was
the delight and ornament of this house, and the charm of every private
society which he honoured with his presence. Perhaps there never arose
in this country nor in any other a man of a more pointed and finished
wit, and (when his passions were not concerned) of a more refined and
exquisite and penetrating judgment." He had in 1754 married the
Countess of Dalkeith, daughter and co-heiress of the famous Duke of
Argyle and Greenwich, and widow of the eldest son of the Duke of
Buccleugh. She had been left with two sons by her first husband, of
whom the eldest had succeeded his grandfather as Duke of Buccleugh in
1751, and was now at Eton under the tutorship of Mr. Hallam, father of
the historian. On leaving Eton he was to travel abroad with a tutor
for some time, and it was for this post of tutor to the Duke abroad
that Townshend, after reading the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, had
set his heart on engaging its author.

Townshend bore, as Hume hints, a bad character for changeability. He
was popularly nicknamed the Weathercock, and a squib of the day once
reported that Mr. Townshend was ill of a pain in his side, but
regretted that it was not said on which side. But he stood firmly to
his project about Smith; paid him a visit in Glasgow that very summer,
saw much of him, invited him to Dalkeith House, arranged with him
about the selection and despatch of a number of books for the young
Duke's study, and seems to have arrived at a general understanding
with Smith that the latter should accept the tutorship when the time
came. Townshend of course delighted the Glasgow professors during this
visit, as he delighted everybody, but he seems in turn to have been
delighted with them, for William Hunter wrote Cullen a little later in
the same year that Townshend had come back from Scotland passing the
highest encomiums on everybody. Smith seems to have acted as his chief
cicerone in Glasgow, as appears from one of the trivial incidents
which were all that the contemporary writers of Smith's obituary
notices seemed able to learn of his life. He was showing Townshend the
tannery, one of the spectacles of Glasgow at the time--"an amazing
sight," Pennant calls it--and walked in his absent way right into the
tanpit, from which, however, he was immediately rescued without any

In September 1759, on the death of Mr. Townshend's brother, Smith
wrote him the following letter:--[116]

     SIR--It gives me great concern that the first letter I ever
     have done myself the honour to write to you should be upon
     so melancholy an occasion. As your Brother was generally
     known here, he is universally regretted, and your friends
     are sorry that, amidst the public rejoicings and prosperity,
     your family should have occasion to be in mourning.
     Everybody here remembers you with the greatest admiration
     and affection, and nothing that concerns you is indifferent
     to them, and there are more people who sympathise with you
     than you are aware of. It would be the greatest pedantry to
     offer any topics of consolation to you who are naturally so
     firm and so manly. As your Brother dyed in the service of
     his country, you have the best and the noblest consolation:
     That since it has pleased God to deprive you of the
     satisfaction you might have expected from the continuance of
     his life, it has at least been so ordered that y^e manner of
     his death does you honour.

     You left Scotland so much sooner than you proposed, when I
     had the pleasure of seeing you at Glasgow, that I had not an
     opportunity of making you a visit at Dalkieth (_sic_), as I
     intended, before you should return to London.

     I sent about a fortnight ago the books which you ordered for
     the Duke of Buccleugh to Mr. Campbell at Edinburgh.[117] I
     paid for them, according to your orders, as soon as they
     were ready. I send you enclosed a list of them, with the
     prices discharged on the back. You will compare with the
     books when they arrive. Mr. Campbell will further them to
     London. I should have wrote to you of this a fortnight ago,
     but my natural dilatoriness prevented me.--I ever am, with
     the greatest esteem and regard, your most obliged and most
     obedient humble servant,


     _17th September 1759._

The second edition of the _Theory_, which Hume was anticipating
immediately in 1759, did not appear till 1761, and it contained none
of the alterations or additions he expected; but the _Dissertation on
the Origin of Languages_ was for the first time published along with
it. The reason for the omission of the other additions is difficult to
discover, for the author had not only prepared them, but gone the
length of placing them in the printer's hands in 1760, as appears from
the following letter. They did not appear either in the third edition
in 1767, or the fourth in 1774, or the fifth in 1781; nor till the
sixth, which was published, with considerable additions and
corrections, immediately before the author's death in 1790. The
earlier editions were published at 6s., and the 1790 edition at 12s.
This was the last edition published in the author's lifetime, and it
has been many times republished in the century that has elapsed since.
This is the letter just referred to:--

     DEAR STRAHAN--I sent up to Mr. Millar four or five Posts ago
     the same additions which I had formerly sent to you, with a
     good many corrections and improvements which occurred to me
     since. If there are any typographical errors remaining in
     the last edition which had escaped me, I hope you will
     correct them. In other respects I could wish it was printed
     pretty exactly according to the copy which I delivered to
     you. A man, says the Spanish proverb, had better be a
     cuckold and know nothing of the matter, than not be a
     cuckold and believe himself to be one. And in the same
     manner, say I, an author had sometimes better be in the
     wrong and believe himself in the right, than be in the right
     and believe or even suspect himself to be in the wrong. To
     desire you to read my book over and mark all the corrections
     you would wish me to make upon a sheet of paper and send it
     to me, would, I fear, be giving you too much trouble. If,
     however, you could induce yourself to take this trouble, you
     would oblige me greatly; I know how much I shall be
     benefitted, and I shall at the same time preserve the
     pretious right of private judgment, for the sake of which
     our forefathers kicked out the Pope and the Pretender. I
     believe you to be much more infallible than the Pope, but as
     I am a Protestant, my conscience makes me scruple to submit
     to any unscriptural authority.

     _Apropos_ to the Pope and the Pretender, have you read
     Hook's Memoirs?[118] I have been ill these ten days,
     otherwise I should have written to you sooner, but I sat up
     the day before yesterday in my bed and read them thro' with
     infinite satisfaction, tho' they are by no means well
     written. The substance of what is in them I knew before,
     tho' not in such detail. I am afraid they are published at
     an unlucky time, and may throw a damp upon our militia.
     Nothing, however, appears to me more excusable than the
     disaffection of Scotland at that time. The Union was a
     measure from which infinite good has been derived to this
     country. The Prospect of that good, however, must then have
     appeared very remote and very uncertain. The immediate
     effect of it was to hurt the interest of every single order
     of men in the country. The dignity of the nobility was
     undone by it. The greater part of the gentry who had been
     accustomed to represent their own country in its own
     Parliament were cut out for ever from all hopes of
     representing it in a British Parliament. Even the merchants
     seemed to suffer at first. The trade to the Plantations was,
     indeed, opened to them. But that was a trade which they knew
     nothing about; the trade they were acquainted with, that to
     France, Holland, and the Baltic, was laid under new
     embar(r)assments, which almost totally annihilated the two
     first and most important branches of it. The Clergy, too,
     who were then far from insignificant, were alarmed about the
     Church. No wonder if at that time all orders of men
     conspired in cursing a measure so hurtful to their immediate
     interest. The views of their Posterity are now very
     different; but those views could be seen by but few of our
     forefathers, by those few in but a confused and imperfect

     It will give me the greatest satisfaction to hear from you.
     I pray you write to me soon. Remember me to the Franklins. I
     hope I shall have the grace to write to the youngest by next
     post to thank him, in the name both of the College and of
     myself, for his very agreeable present. Remember me likewise
     to Mr. Griffiths. I am greatly obliged to him for the very
     handsom character he gave of my book in his review.--I ever
     am, dear Strahan, most faithfully and sincerely yours,


     _4th April 1760_.[119]

The Franklins mentioned in this letter are Benjamin Franklin and his
son, who had spent six weeks in Scotland in the spring of the previous
year--"six weeks," said Franklin, "of the densest happiness I have met
with in any part of my life." We know from Dr. Carlyle that during
this visit Franklin met Smith one evening at supper at Robertson's in
Edinburgh, but it seems from this letter highly probable that he had
gone through to Glasgow, and possibly stayed with Smith at the
College. Why otherwise should the younger, or, as Smith says,
youngest, Franklin have thought of making a presentation to Glasgow
College, or Smith of thanking him not merely in the name of the
College, but in his own? Strahan was one of Franklin's most intimate
private friends. They took a pride in one another as old compositors
who had risen in the world; and Smith had no doubt heard of, and
perhaps from, the Franklins in some of Strahan's previous letters.

The Mr. Griffiths to whom Smith desires to be remembered was the
editor of the _Monthly Review_, in which a favourable notice of his
book had appeared in the preceding July.


[107] Burton thinks with great probability that this junction of names
was meant as a sarcasm on Lord Lyttelton's taste.

[108] Burton's _Life of Hume_, ii. 55.

[109] Edmund Burke.

[110] Soame Jenyns.

[111] Afterwards the Earl of Shelburne, the statesman.

[112] Probably Charles Yorke, afterwards Lord Chancellor Morden.

[113] Burton's _Hume_, ii. 59.

[114] _Annual Register_, 1776, p. 485.

[115] Mackintosh, _Miscellaneous Works_, i. 151.

[116] _Buccleuch MSS._, Dalkeith Palace.

[117] Mr. Campbell was the Duke's law-agent.

[118] _The Secret History of Colonel Hooke's Negotiations in Scotland
in Favour of the Pretender in 1707_, written by himself. London, 1760.

[119] Bonar's _Catalogue of Adam Smith's Library_, p. x.



1761. _Aet._ 38

Smith visited London for the first time in September 1761, when Hume
and probably others of his Scotch friends happened to be already
there. He had not visited London in the course of his seven years'
residence at Oxford, for, as Mr. Rogers reports, the Balliol Buttery
Books show him never to have left Oxford at all during that time, and
he had not visited London in the course of the first ten years he
spent in Glasgow, otherwise the University would be certain to have
preserved some record of it. For Glasgow University had much business
to transact in London at that period, and would be certain to have
commissioned Smith, if he was known to be going there, to transact
some of that business for it. It never did so, however, till 1761. But
in that year, on the 16th of June, the Senate having learned Smith's
purpose of going to London, authorise him to get the accounts of the
ordinary revenue of the College and the subdeanery for crops 1755,
1756, 1757, and 1758 cleared with the Treasury (that public office
being then always in deep arrears with its work); to meet with Mr.
Joshua Sharpe and settle his accounts with respect to the lands given
to the College by Dr. Williams (the Dr. Williams of Williams's
Library); to inquire into the state of the division of Snell's estate
as to Coleburn farm, and the affair of the Prebends of Lincoln; and to
get all particulars about the £500 costs in the Snell lawsuit with
Balliol, which had to be paid to the University. Those documents were
delivered, on the 27th of August, to Smith _in præsentia_, and then on
the 15th of October, after his return, he reported what he had done,
and produced a certificate, signed by the Secretary to the Treasury,
finding that the University had in the four years specified and the
years preceding expended above their revenue the sum of
£2631:6:5-11/12. I mention all these details with the view of showing
that during Smith's residence in Glasgow the University had a variety
of important and difficult business to transact in London, which they
would be always glad to get one of their own number to attend to
personally on the spot, and that as Smith was never asked to transact
any of this business for them except in 1761, it may almost with
certainty be inferred that he never was in London on any other
occasion during his connection with that University.

Now this journey to London in 1761 is memorable because it constituted
the economic "road to Damascus" for a future Prime Minister of
England. It was during this journey, I believe, that Smith had Lord
Shelburne for his travelling companion, and converted the young
statesman to free trade. In 1795 Shelburne (then become Marquis of
Lansdowne) writes Dugald Stewart: "I owe to a journey I made with Mr.
Smith from Edinburgh to London the difference between light and
darkness through the best part of my life. The novelty of his
principles, added to my youth and prejudices, made me unable to
comprehend them at the time, but he urged them with so much
benevolence, as well as eloquence, that they took a certain hold
which, though it did not develop itself so as to arrive at full
conviction for some few years after, I can truly say has constituted
ever since the happiness of my life, as well as the source of any
little consideration I may have enjoyed in it."[120]

Shelburne was the first English statesman, except perhaps Burke, who
grasped and advocated free trade as a broad political principle; and
though his biographer, Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, attributes his
conversion to Morellet, it is plain from the letter to Stewart that
Morellet had only watered, it was Smith that sowed.

It is important, therefore, to fix if possible the date of this
interesting journey. It occurred, Lord Shelburne says, in his own
youth, and the only journeys to London Smith made during the period
which with any reasonable stretching may be called Shelburne's youth,
were made in 1761, 1763, and 1773. Now we have no positive knowledge
of Shelburne being in Scotland any of these years, but in 1761 his
brother, the Hon. Thomas Fitzmaurice, who had been studying under
Smith in Glasgow, and living in Smith's house, left Glasgow for
Oxford; and Shelburne, who, since his father's death that very year,
was taking, as we know from his correspondence with Sir William
Blackstone on the subject, a very responsible concern in his younger
brother's education and welfare, may very probably have gone to
Scotland to attend him back. This circumstance seems to turn the
balance in favour of 1761 and against the other two dates.

It is almost certain that the journey was not in 1773, for Shelburne
would hardly have thought of himself as so young at that date, six
years after he had been Secretary of State, and besides he had
probably cast off his prejudices by that time, and was already (as we
shall presently find) receiving instruction from Smith on colonial
policy in 1767; and whether it was 1761 or 1763, it in either case
shows at what a long period before the appearance of the _Wealth of
Nations_ Smith was advocating those broad principles which struck
Shelburne at the time for their "novelty," and were only fully
comprehended and accepted by him a few years afterwards.

Of Smith's visit to London on this occasion we know almost no
particulars, but I think the notorious incident of his altercation
with Johnson at the house of Strahan the printer must be referred to
this visit. The story was told by Robertson to Boswell and Allan
Ramsay, the painter, one evening in 1778, when they were dining
together at the painter's house, and Johnson was expected as one of
the guests. Before the doctor arrived the conversation happened to
turn on him, and Robertson said, "He and I have always been very
gracious. The first time I met him was one evening at Strahan's, when
he had just had an unlucky altercation with Adam Smith, to whom he had
been so rough that Strahan, after Smith was gone, had remonstrated,
and told him that I was coming soon, and that he was uneasy to think
that he might behave in the same way to me. 'No, no, sir,' said
Johnson, 'I warrant you Robertson and I shall do very well.'
Accordingly he was gentle and good-humoured and gracious with me the
whole evening, and he has been so on every occasion that we have met
since. I have often said laughing that I have been in a great measure
indebted to Smith for my good reception."[121]

Now this incident must have occurred years before 1778, the date of
Ramsay's dinner-party at which it was related, for Robertson speaks of
having met Johnson many times between; and it probably occurred before
1763, because in 1763 Boswell mentions in his journal having told
Johnson one evening that Smith had in his lectures in Glasgow
expressed the strongest preference for rhyme over blank verse, and
Johnson alludes in his reply to an unfriendly meeting he had once had
with Smith. "Sir," said he, "I was once in company with Smith, and we
did not take to each other, but had I known that he loved rhyme so
much as you tell me he does I should have hugged him."[122] This
answer seems to imply that the meeting was not quite recent--not in
1763--and if it occurred before 1763, it must have been in 1761.

It was, no doubt, this unhappy altercation that gave rise to the
legendary anecdote which has obtained an immortality it ill deserved,
but which cannot be passed over here, because it has been given to the
world by three independent authorities of such importance as Sir
Walter Scott, Lord Jeffrey, and Bishop Wilberforce. Scott communicates
the anecdote to Croker for his edition of Boswell's _Johnson_, as it
was told him by Professor John Millar of Glasgow, who had it from
Smith himself the night the affair happened. Wilberforce gives it
ostensibly as it was heard by his father from Smith's lips; and
Jeffrey, in reviewing Wilberforce's book in the _Edinburgh Review_,
says he heard the story, in substantially the same form as Wilberforce
tells it, nearly fifty years before, "from the mouth of one of a party
into which Mr. Smith came immediately after the collision."

The story, as told by Scott, is in this wise:[123] "Mr. Boswell has
chosen to omit (in his account of Johnson's visit to Glasgow), for
reasons which will be presently obvious, that Johnson and Adam Smith
met at Glasgow; but I have been assured by Professor John Millar that
they did so, and that Smith, leaving the party in which he had met
Johnson, happened to come to another company where Millar was. Knowing
that Smith had been in Johnson's society, they were anxious to know
what had passed, and the more so as Dr. Smith's temper seemed much
ruffled. At first Smith would only answer, 'He's a brute; he's a
brute;' but on closer examination it appeared that Johnson no sooner
saw Smith than he attacked him for some point of his famous letter on
the death of Hume. Smith vindicated the truth of his statement. 'What
did Johnson say?' was the universal inquiry. 'Why, he said,' replied
Smith, with the deepest impression of resentment, 'he said, You lie.'
'And what did you reply?' 'I said, You are a son of a ----!' On such
terms did these two great moralists meet and part, and such was the
classical dialogue between two great teachers of philosophy."

Wilberforce's version is identical with Scott's, except that it
commits the absurdity of making Smith tell not the story itself, but
the story of his first telling it. "'Some of our friends,' said Adam
Smith, 'were anxious that we should meet, and a party was arranged for
the purpose in the course of the evening. I was soon after entering
another society, and perhaps with a manner a little confused. "Have
you met Dr. Johnson?" my friends exclaimed. "Yes, I have." "And what
passed between you?"'" and so on. All this at any rate is legendary
outgrowth on the very face of it, and nonsensical even for that. But
even the story itself, as told so circumstantially by Scott, is
demonstrably mythical in most of its circumstances. Johnson was never
in Glasgow except one day, the 29th of October 1773, and in October
1773 Smith was in London, and as we know from an incidental
parenthesis in the _Wealth of Nations_,[124] engaged in the
composition of that great work. Hume, again, did not die till 1776, so
that there were better and more "obvious reasons" than Scott imagined
for Boswell's omitting mention of a meeting between Johnson and Smith
at Glasgow which never took place, and a collision between them about
a famous letter which was not then written. Time, place, and subject
are all alike wrong, but these Scott might think but the mortal parts
of the story, and he sometimes varied them in the telling himself.
Moore heard him tell it at his own table at Abbotsford somewhat
differently from the version he gave to Croker.[125] But when so much
is plainly the insensible creation of the imagination, what reliance
can be placed on the remainder? All we know is that apparently at
their very first meeting those two philosophers did, in Strahan's
house in London in September 1761, have a personal altercation of an
outrageous character, at which, if not the very words reported by
Scott, then words quite as strong must manifestly have passed between
them; that their host declared Johnson to be entirely in the wrong,
and that Smith withdrew from the company, and would very possibly go,
as the story relates, to another company, his Scotch friends at the
British Coffee-House in Cockspur Street, then the great Scotch
resort,--a house which was kept by the sister of his friend Bishop
Douglas, which was frequented much by Wedderburn, John Home, and
others, and to which Smith's own letters used to be addressed.

One thing remains to be said: if the world has never been able to
suffer this little morsel of scandal to be forgotten, the two
principals in the feud themselves were able to forget it entirely.
Smith was at a later period in the habit of meeting Johnson constantly
at the table of common friends in London, and was elected in 1775 a
member of Johnson's famous club, which would of course have been
impossible--and indeed in so small a society never have been thought
of--had the slightest remnant of animosity continued on either side.
Johnson, it is true, was still occasionally rude to Smith, as he was
occasionally rude to every other member of the club; and certainly
Smith never established with him anything of the cordial personal
friendship he enjoyed with Burke, Gibbon, or Reynolds; but their
common membership in the Literary Club is proof of the complete burial
of their earlier quarrel.


[120] Stewart's _Life of Smith; Works_, ed. Hamilton, vol. x. p. 95.

[121] Boswell's _Johnson_, ed. Hill, iii. 331.

[122] _Ibid._ i. 427.

[123] Boswell's _Johnson_, ed. Hill, v. 369.

[124] Book IV. chap. vii.

[125] Russell's _Life of Moore_, p. 338.



1763. _Aet._ 40

In 1763 the Rev. William Ward of Broughton, chaplain to the Marquis of
Rockingham, was bringing out his _Essay on Grammar_, which Sir William
Hamilton thought "perhaps the most philosophical essay on the English
language extant," and sent an abstract of it to Smith through a common
friend, Mr. George Baird, to whom Smith wrote the following letter on
the subject:--[126]

     GLASGOW, _7th February 1763_.

     DEAR SIR--I have read over the contents of your Friend's
     work with very great pleasure; and heartily wish it was in
     my power to give, or to procure him all the encouragement
     which his ingenuity and industry deserve. I think myself
     greatly obliged to him for the very obliging notice he has
     been pleased to take of me, and should be glad to contribute
     anything in my power to compleating his design. I approve
     greatly of his plan for a Rational Grammar, and am convinced
     that a work of this kind, executed with his abilities and
     industry, may prove not only the best system of grammar, but
     the best system of logic in any language, as well as the
     best history of the natural progress of the human mind in
     forming the most important abstractions upon which all
     reasoning depends. From the short abstract which Mr. Ward
     has been so good as to send me, it is impossible for me to
     form any very decisive judgment concerning the propriety of
     every part of his method, particularly of some of his
     divisions. If I was to treat the same subject, I should
     endeavour to begin with the consideration of verbs; these
     being in my apprehension the original parts of speech, first
     invented to express in one word a compleat event; I should
     then have endeavoured to show how the subject was divided to
     form the attribute, and afterwards how the object was
     distinguished from both; and in this manner I should have
     tried to investigate the origin and use of all the different
     parts of speech and of all their different modifications,
     considered as necessary to express the different
     qualifications and relations of any single event. Mr. Ward,
     however, may have excellent reasons for following his own
     method; and perhaps if I was engaged in the same task I
     should find it necessary to follow the same; things
     frequently appearing in a very different light when taken in
     a general view, which is the only view I can pretend to have
     taken of them, and when considered in detail.

     Mr. Ward, when he mentions the definitions which different
     authors have given of nouns substantive, takes no notice of
     that of the Abbé Girard, the author of the book called _Les
     Vrais Principes de la Langue Françoise_, which made me think
     it might be possible that he had not seen it. It is the book
     which first set me a thinking upon these subjects, and I
     have received more instruction from it than from any other I
     have yet seen upon them. If Mr. Ward has not seen it, I have
     it at his service. The grammatical articles, too, in the
     French _Encyclopédie_ have given me a good deal of
     entertainment. Very probably Mr. Ward has seen both these
     works, and as he may have considered the subject more than I
     have done, may think less of them. Remember me to Mrs. Baird
     and Mr. Oswald, and believe me to be, with great truth, dear
     sir, sincerely yours,


Shortly after the date of this letter, Smith, who was now probably
beginning to see the approach of the day when he would lay down his
Glasgow professorship in order to superintend the studies of the young
Duke of Buccleugh, writes David Hume, pressing for his long-promised
visit to the West. The occasion of the letter is to introduce a young
gentleman of whom I know nothing, but who was doubtless one of the
English students who were attracted to Glasgow by Smith's rising fame.
He was possibly the first Earl of Carnarvon, of whose uncle, Nicholas
Herbert, Smith told Rogers the story that he had read over once a list
of the Eton boys and repeated it four years afterwards to his nephew,
then Lord Porchester. Smith said he knew him well. The letter is as

     MY DEAR HUME--This letter will be presented to you by Mr.
     Henry Herbert, a young gentleman who is very well acquainted
     with your works, and upon that account extremely desirous of
     being introduced to the authour. As I am convinced that you
     will find him extremely agreeable, I shall make no apology
     for introducing him. He proposes to stay a few days in
     Edinburgh while the company are there, and would be glad to
     have the liberty of calling upon you sometimes when it suits
     your conveniency to receive him. If you indulge him in this,
     both he and I will think ourselves infinitely obliged to

     You have been long promising us a visit at Glasgow, and I
     have made Mr. Herbert promise to endeavour to bring you
     along with him. Though you have resisted all my
     sollicitations, I hope you will not resist his. I hope I
     need not tell you that it will give me the greatest pleasure
     to see you.--I ever am, my dear friend, most affectionately
     and sincerely yours,


     GLASGOW, _22nd February 1763_.[127]

To that letter Hume returned the following answer:--

     DEAR SMITH--I was obliged to you both for your kind letter
     and for the opportunity which you afforded me of making
     acquaintance with Mr. Herbert, who appears to me a very
     promising young man. I set up a chaise in May next, which
     will give me the liberty of travelling about, and you may be
     sure a journey to Glasgow will be one of the first I shall
     undertake. I intend to require with great strictness an
     account how you have been employing your Leisure, and I
     desire you to be ready for that purpose. Wo be to you if the
     Ballance be against you. Your friends here will also expect
     that I should bring you with me. It seems to me very long
     since I saw you.--Most sincerely,


     EDINBURGH, _28th March 1763_.[128]

This long-meditated visit was apparently never accomplished, the
chaise, notwithstanding. Only a few months more pass and the scene
completely changes; the two friends are one after the other
transported suddenly to France on new vocations, and their first
meeting now was in Paris.

Hume writes Smith from Edinburgh on the 9th of August 1763 intimating
his appointment as Secretary to the English Embassy at Paris, and
bidding him adieu. "I am a little hurried," he says, "in my
preparations, but I could not depart without bidding you adieu, my
good friend, and without acquainting you with the reasons of so sudden
a movement. I have not great expectations of revisiting this country
soon, but I hope it will not be impossible; but we may meet abroad,
which will be a great satisfaction to me."[129]

Smith's reply has not been preserved, but it seems to have contained
among other things a condemnation, in Smith's most decisive style, of
the recent proceedings of his friend Lord Shelburne in connection with
various intrigues and negotiations set agoing by the Court and Lord
Bute with the view of increasing the power of the Crown in English
politics. That appears from a letter Hume writes Smith from London on
13th September, wanting information about his new chief's eldest son,
Lord Beauchamp, regarding whom he had once heard Smith mention
something told by "that severe critic Mr. Herbert," and to whom Hume
was now to act in the capacity of tutor in conjunction with his
official duties as Secretary of Legation. Then after relating the
story of Bute's negotiations with Pitt through Shelburne, and stating
that Lord Shelburne resigned because he found himself obnoxious on
account of his share in that negotiation, he says: "I see you are much
incensed with that nobleman, but he always speaks of you with regard.
I hear that your pupil, Mr. Fitzmaurice, makes a very good figure at

Smith was always a stout Whig, strongly opposed to any attempt to
increase the power of the Crown, and cordially denounced Bute and all
his works. He was delighted with the famous No. 45 of the _North
Briton_, published in the April of this very year 1763, and after
reading it exclaimed to Dr. Carlyle, "Bravo! this fellow (Wilkes) will
either be hanged in six months, or he will get Lord Bute
impeached."[131] Shelburne after his resignation in September voted
against the Court in the Wilkes affair, but up till then, at any rate,
his public conduct could not be viewed by a man of Smith's political
principles with anything but the most absolute condemnation, and the
condemnation would be all the stronger because, from personal
intercourse with his lordship, Smith knew that he was really a man of
liberal mind and reforming spirit, from whom he had a right to look
for better things.

When Hume arrived in France the first letter he wrote to any of his
friends at home was to Smith. He had been only a week in the country,
and describes his first experiences of the curious transformation he
then suddenly underwent: from being the object of attack and reproach
and persecution for half a lifetime among the honest citizens of
Edinburgh, he had become the idol of extravagant worship among the
great and powerful at the Court of France.

"During the last days in particular," he says, "that I have been at
Fontainebleau I have _suffered_ (the expression is not improper) as
much flattery as almost any man has ever done in the same time, but
there are few days in my life when I have been in good health that I
would not rather pass over again.

"I had almost forgot in this effusion, shall I say, of my misanthropy
or my vanity to mention the subject which first put my pen in my hand.
The Baron d'Holbach, whom I saw at Paris, told me that there was one
under his eye that was translating your _Theory of Moral Sentiments_,
and desired me to inform you of it. Mr. Fitzmaurice, your old
friend,[132] interests himself strongly in this undertaking. Both of
them wish to know if you propose to make any alteration on the
work, and desire you to inform me of your intentions in that

Hume's hope of their "not impossible" meeting in Paris was destined to
be gratified sooner than he could have conjectured. A few days before
Smith received this letter from Hume he had received likewise the
following letter from Charles Townshend, intimating that the time had
now come for the Duke of Buccleugh to go abroad, and renewing to Smith
the offer of the post of travelling tutor to his Grace:--

     Dear Sir--The time now drawing near when the Duke of
     Buccleugh intends to go abroad, I take the liberty of
     renewing the subject to you: that if you should still have
     the same disposition to travel with Him I may have the
     satisfaction of informing Lady Dalkeith and His Grace of it,
     and of congratulating them upon an event which I know that
     they, as well as myself, have so much at heart. The Duke is
     now at Eton: He will remain there until Christmass. He will
     then spend some short time in London, that he may be
     presented at Court, and not pass instantaneously from school
     to a foreign country; but it were to be wished He should not
     be long in Town, exposed to the habits and companions of
     London, before his mind has been more formed and better
     guarded by education and experience.

     I do not enter at this moment upon the subject of
     establishment, because if you have no objection to the
     situation, I know we cannot differ about the terms. On the
     contrary, you will find me more sollicitous than yourself to
     make the connection with Buccleugh as satisfactory and
     advantageous to you as I am persuaded it will be essentially
     beneficial to him.

     The Duke of Buccleugh has lately made great progress both in
     his knowledge of ancient languages and in his general taste
     for composition. With these improvements his amusement from
     reading and his love of instruction have naturally
     increased. He has sufficient talents: a very manly temper,
     and an integrity of heart and reverence for truth, which in
     a person of his rank and fortune are the firmest foundation
     of weight in life and uniform greatness. If it should be
     agreeable to you to finish his education, and mould these
     excellent materials into a settled character, I make no
     doubt but he will return to his family and country the very
     man our fondest hopes have fancied him.

     I go to Town next Friday, and should be obliged to you for
     your answer to this letter.--I am, with sincere affection
     and esteem, dear sir, your most faithful and most obedient
     humble servant,


     Lady Dalkeith presents her compliments to you.

     ADDERBURY, _25th October 1763_.[134]

Smith accepted the offer. The terms were a salary of £300 a year, with
travelling expenses while abroad, and a pension of £300 a year for
life afterwards. He was thus to have twice his Glasgow income, and to
have it assured till death. The pension was no doubt a principal
inducement to a Scotch professor in those days to take such a post,
for a Scotch professor had then no resource in his old age except the
price he happened to receive for his chair from his successor in the
event of his resignation; and we find several of them--Professors Moor
and Robert Simson of Glasgow among others--much harassed with
pecuniary cares in their last years. Smith's remuneration was liberal,
but nothing beyond what was usual in such situations at the time. Dr.
John Moore, who gave up his medical practice in Glasgow a few years
later to be tutor to the young Duke of Hamilton, got also £300 a year
while actively employed in the tutorship and a pension of £100 a year
afterwards.[135] Professor Rouet, who, as already mentioned,
sacrificed his chair in Glasgow for his tutorial appointment, is said
to have received a pension of £500 a year from Lord Hopetoun, in
addition to a pension of £50 he received, in consideration of previous
services of the same kind, from Sir John Maxwell; and Professor Adam
Ferguson, who was appointed tutor to the Earl of Chesterfield on
Smith's recommendation, had £400 a year while on duty, and a pension
of £200 a year, which he lived to enjoy for forty years after,
receiving from first to last nearly £9000 for his two years' work.
Smith did almost as well, for with the pension, which he drew for
twenty-four years, he got altogether more than £8000 for his three
years' service.

This residence abroad for a few years with a competent tutor was then
a common substitute for a university education. The Duke of Buccleugh,
for example, was never sent to a university after he came back from
his travels with Smith, but married almost immediately on his return,
and entered directly into the active duties of life. It was generally
thought that travel really supplied a more liberal education and a
better preparation for life for a young man of the world than
residence at a university; and it is not uninteresting to recall here
how strongly Smith disagrees with that opinion in the _Wealth of
Nations_, while admitting that some excuse could be found for it in
the low state of learning into which the English universities had
suffered themselves to fall:--

"In England it becomes every day more and more the custom to send
young people to travel in foreign countries immediately upon their
leaving school, and without sending them to any university. Our young
people, it is said, generally return home much improved by their
travels. A young man who goes abroad at seventeen or eighteen, and
returns home at one-and-twenty, returns three or four years older than
he was when he went abroad; and at that age it is very difficult not
to improve a good deal in three or four years. In the course of his
travels he generally acquires some knowledge of one or two foreign
languages; a knowledge, however, which is seldom sufficient to enable
him either to speak or write them with propriety. In other respects
he commonly returns home more conceited, more unprincipled, more
dissipated, and more incapable of any serious application, either to
study or to business, than he could well have become in so short a
time had he lived at home. By travelling so very young, by spending in
the most frivolous dissipation the most precious years of his life, at
a distance from the inspection and controul of his parents and
relations, every useful habit which the earlier parts of his education
might have had some tendency to form in him, instead of being riveted
and confirmed, is almost necessarily either weakened or effaced.
Nothing but the discredit into which the universities are allowing
themselves to fall could ever have brought into repute so very absurd
a practice as that of travelling at this early period of life. By
sending his son abroad, a father delivers himself, at least for some
time, from so disagreeable an object as a son unemployed, neglected
and going to ruin before his eyes."[136]

Smith must have written Townshend accepting the situation almost
immediately on receiving the offer of it, and he at the same time
applied to the University authorities for leave of absence for part of
the session. He does not as yet resign his chair, nor does he make in
his application any formal mention of the nature of the business that
required his absence; he merely asks for their sanction to some highly
characteristic arrangements which he desired to make in connection
with the conduct of his class by a substitute. On the 8th of November
1763, according to the Faculty Records, "Dr. Smith represented that
some interesting business would probably require his leaving the
College some time this winter, and made the following proposals and
request to the meeting:-?

"1st, That if he should be obliged to leave the College without
finishing his usual course of lectures, he should pay back to all his
students the fees which he shall have received from them; and that if
any of them should refuse to accept of such fees, he should in that
case pay them to the University.

"2nd, That whatever part of the usual course of lectures he should
leave unfinished should be given gratis to the students, by a person
to be appointed by the University, with such salary as they shall
think proper, which salary is to be paid by Dr. Smith.

"The Faculty accept of the above proposals, and hereby unanimously
grant Dr. Smith leave of absence for three months of this session if
his business shall require, and at such time as he shall find it

The reason he asks in the first instance only for this temporary and
provisional arrangement is no doubt to be found in the fact that the
precise date for the beginning of the tutorship was not yet
determined. As it might very possibly be fixed upon suddenly and
involve a somewhat rapid call for his services, the precaution of
obtaining beforehand a three months' leave of absence would enable him
to remain in constant readiness to answer that call whenever it might
come, without in the meanwhile requiring him to give up his duties to
his Glasgow class prematurely; and it would at the same time allow
ample time to the University to make more permanent arrangements
before the temporary provision expired. The call when it came did come
rather suddenly. Up till the middle of December Smith never received
any manner of answer from Townshend, and the matter was not settled
till after the Christmas holidays. For on the 12th of December 1763
Smith writes Hume, who was now in Paris:--

     MY DEAR HUME--The day before I received your last letter I
     had the honour of a letter from Charles Townshend, renewing
     in the most obliging manner his former proposal that I
     should travel with the Duke of Buccleugh, and informing me
     that his Grace was to leave Eton at Christmas, and would go
     abroad very soon after that. I accepted the proposal, but at
     the same time expressed to Mr. Townshend the difficulties I
     should have in leaving the University before the beginning
     of April, and begged to know if my attendance upon his Grace
     would be necessary before that time. I have yet received no
     answer to that letter, which, I suppose, is owing to this,
     that his Grace is not yet come from Eton, and that nothing
     is yet settled with regard to the time of his going abroad.
     I delayed answering your letter till I should be able to
     inform you at what time I should have the pleasure of seeing
     you....--I ever am, my dearest friend, most faithfully

     ADAM SMITH.[137]

After the Duke reached London, however, at the Christmas recess, it
seems to have been quickly settled to send him out on his travels
without more delay, and on the 8th of January 1764 Smith intimated to
the Faculty of Glasgow College that he was soon to leave that city
under the permission granted him by the Dean of Faculty's meeting of
the 8th of November, and that he had returned to the students all the
fees he had received that session. He likewise acquainted the meeting
that he proposed to pay his salary as paid by the College for one
half-year, commencing the 10th of October previous, to the person who
should teach his class for the remainder of the session. Mr. Thomas
Young, student of divinity, was, on Smith's recommendation, chosen for
this purpose. A committee was appointed to receive from Smith the
private library of the Moral Philosophy class; next day at a meeting
of Senatus he was paid the balance due to him on his accounts as
Quæstor, and was entrusted with a copy of Foulis's large _Homer_,
which they asked him to carry to London and deliver, in their name, to
Sir James Gray, as a present to his Sicilian majesty, who had shown
them some favour; and the Senate-room of Glasgow knew him no more.

His parting with his students was not quite so simple. They made some
difficulty, as he seems to have anticipated, about taking back the
fees they had paid him for his class, and he was obliged to resort
almost to force before he succeeded in getting them to do so. The
curious scene is described by Alexander Fraser Tytler (Lord
Woodhouselee) in his _Life of Lord Kames:_ "After concluding his last
lecture, and publicly announcing from the chair that he was now taking
a final leave of his auditors, acquainting them at the same time with
the arrangements he had made, to the best of his power, for their
benefit, he drew from his pocket the several fees of the students,
wrapped up in separate paper parcels, and beginning to call up each
man by his name, he delivered to the first who was called the money
into his hand. The young man peremptorily refused to accept it,
declaring that the instruction and pleasure he had already received
was much more than he either had repaid or ever could compensate, and
a general cry was heard from every one in the room to the same effect.
But Mr. Smith was not to be bent from his purpose. After warmly
expressing his feelings of gratitude and the strong sense he had of
the regard shown to him by his young friends, he told them this was a
matter betwixt him and his own mind, and that he could not rest
satisfied unless he performed what he deemed right and proper. 'You
must not refuse me this satisfaction; nay, by heavens, gentlemen, you
shall not;' and seizing by the coat the young man who stood next him,
he thrust the money into his pocket and then pushed him from him. The
rest saw it was in vain to contest the matter, and were obliged to let
him have his own way."[138]

This is a signal proof of the scrupulous delicacy of Smith's honour;
he had firmly determined not to touch a shilling of this money, and if
the students had persisted in refusing it he intended, as we have
seen, to give it to the funds of the University. Many may think his
delicacy even excessive, for it is common enough for a professor's
class to be conducted by a substitute in the absence, through
ill-health or other causes, of the professor himself, and nobody
thinks the students suffer any such injury by the arrangement as to
call for even a reduction of the fees. What Smith would have done had
his absence been due to ill-health one cannot say, but as his
engagement with the students for a session's lectures was broken off
by his own spontaneous acceptance of an office of profit, he felt he
could not honourably retain the wages when he had failed to implement
the engagement,--a thing which a barrister in large practice does
without scruple every day.

The same sense of right led Smith to resign his chair. He did not do
so till he reached France, but he manifestly contemplated doing it
from the first, for he only made arrangements for paying his
substitute till the end of the first half of the session, by which
time he would expect his successor to have entered on office, as
indeed actually happened, for Reid came there in the beginning of
June. Moreover, his resignation was evidently an understood thing at
the University long before it was really sent in, for a good deal of
intriguing had already been going on for the place. The Lord Privy
Seal (the Hon. James Stuart Mackenzie, Lord Bute's brother), who was
Scotch Minister, writes Baron Mure on the 2nd February 1764, a
fortnight before Smith resigned, asking whether it was true the
University were to appoint Dr. Wight to succeed Smith, and mentions
incidentally having had some conversation with Smith himself
(apparently in London) on the subject, particularly with regard to the
possible claims of Mr. Young, his substitute, to the appointment.

It was not always necessary--nor, indeed, does it seem to have been
the more usual practice--for a Scotch professor to resign his chair on
accepting a temporary place like a travelling tutorship. Adam Ferguson
fought the point successfully with the Edinburgh Town Council when he
left England as tutor to Lord Chesterfield; and Dalzel, when Professor
of Greek in Edinburgh, went to live at Oxford as tutor to Lord
Maitland; but we have already seen, in connection with the case of
Professor Rouet, that Smith held strong views against the
encouragement of absenteeism and the growth of any feeling that the
University was there for the convenience of the professors, instead of
the professors being there for the service of the University.

Under these circumstances it was natural for Smith to resign his chair
on his acceptance of the tutorship; and although he only sent the
letter of resignation after his arrival in France, it is perhaps more
convenient to print it here in its natural connection with Glasgow
University affairs than to defer it to its more strictly chronological
place in the chapter describing his French travels. The letter is
addressed "To the Right Hon. Thomas Miller, Esq., His Majesty's
Advocate for Scotland," Lord Rector of Glasgow University at the time;
and it runs as follows:

     MY LORD--I take this first opportunity after my arrival in
     this place, which was not till yesterday, to resign my
     office into the hands of your lordship, of the Dean of
     Faculty, of the Principal of the College, and of all my
     other most respectable and worthy colleagues. Into your and
     their hands, therefor, I do hereby resign my office of
     Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Glasgow
     and in the College thereof, with all the emoluments,
     privileges, and advantages which belong to it. I reserve,
     however, my right to the salary for the current half year,
     which commenced at the 10th of October for one part of my
     salary and at Martinmas last for another; and I desire that
     this salary may be paid to the gentleman who does that part
     of my duty which I was obliged to leave undone, in the
     manner agreed on between my very worthy colleagues and me
     before we parted. I never was more anxious for the good of
     the College than at this moment; and I sincerely wish that
     whoever is my successor may not only do credit to the office
     by his abilities, but be a comfort to the very excellent men
     with whom he is likely to spend his life, by the probity of
     his heart and the goodness of his temper.--I have the honour
     to be, my lord, your lordship's most obedient and most
     faithful servant,


     PARIS, _14th February 1764_.[139]

The Senate accepted his resignation on the 1st of March, and expressed
their regret at his loss in the following terms: "The University
cannot help at the same time expressing their sincere regret at the
removal of Dr. Smith, whose distinguished probity and amiable
qualities procured him the esteem and affection of his colleagues;
whose uncommon genius, great abilities, and extensive learning did so
much honour to this society; his elegant and ingenious _Theory of
Moral Sentiments_ having recommended him to the esteem of men of taste
and literature throughout Europe. His happy talents in illustrating
abstracted subjects, and faithful assiduity in communicating useful
knowledge, distinguished him as a professor, and at once afforded the
greatest pleasure and the most important instruction to the youth
under his care."


[126] Nichol's _Literary Illustrations_, iii. 515.

[127] _Hume Correspondence_, R.S.E. Library.

[128] _Ibid._ Printed by Burton.

[129] Burton's _Life of Hume_, ii. 157.

[130] _Ibid._, ii. 163.

[131] Carlyle's _Autobiography_, p. 431.

[132] See above, p. 58.

[133] Burton's _Life of Hume_, ii. 168.

[134] Original in possession of Professor Cunningham, Belfast.

[135] _Caldwell Papers_, i. 192.

[136] Wealth of Nations, Book V. chap. i. art. ii.

[137] Fraser's _Scotts of Buccleuch_, ii. 403.

[138] Tytler's _Kames_, i. 278.

[139] Glasgow University Records.



Smith joined his pupil in London in the end of January 1764, and they
set out together for France in the beginning of February. They
remained abroad two years and a half--ten days in Paris, eighteen
months in Toulouse, two months travelling in the South of France, two
months in Geneva, and ten months in Paris again. Smith kept no journal
and wrote as few letters as possible, but we are able from various
sources to fill in some of the outlines of their course of travel.

At Dover they were joined by Sir James Macdonald of Sleat, a young
baronet who had been at Eton College with the Duke of Buccleugh, and
who had been living in France almost right on since the
re-establishment of peace. Sir James was heir of the old Lords of the
Isles, and son of the lady who, with her factor Kingsburgh, harboured
Prince Charlie and Flora Macdonald in Skye; and he was himself then
filling the world of letters in Paris and London alike with
astonishment at the extent of his knowledge and the variety of his
intellectual gifts. Walpole, indeed, said that when he grew older he
would choose to know less, but to Grimm he seemed the same marvel of
parts as he seemed to Hume. He accompanied Smith and the Duke to
Paris, where they arrived (as we know from Smith's letter to the
Rector of Glasgow University) on the 13th of February.

In Paris they did not remain long--not more than ten days at most,
for it took at that period six days to go from Paris to Toulouse, and
they were in Toulouse on the 4th of March. Smith does not appear
during this short stay in Paris to have made the personal acquaintance
of any of the eminent men of letters whom he afterwards knew so well,
for he never mentions any of them in his subsequent letters to Hume
from Toulouse, though he occasionally mentions Englishmen whose
acquaintance he first made at that time. He probably could not as yet
speak French, for even to the last he could only speak it very
imperfectly. Most of their time in Paris seems, therefore, to have
been spent with Hume and Sir James Macdonald and Lord Beauchamp, who
was Hume's pupil and Sir James's chief friend. Paris, moreover, was
merely a halting-place for the present; their immediate destination
was Toulouse, at that time a favourite resort of the English. It was
the second city of the kingdom, and wore still much of the style of an
ancient capital. It was the seat of an archbishopric, of a university,
of a parliament, of modern academies of science and art which made
some ado with their annual _Jeux Floraux_, and the nobility of the
province still had their town houses there, and lived in them all
winter. The society was more varied and refined than anywhere else in
France out of Paris.

Among the English residents was a cousin of David Hume, who had
entered the Gallican Church, and was then Vicar-General of the diocese
of Toulouse, the Abbé Seignelay Colbert. Smith brought a letter from
Hume to the Abbé, and the Abbé writes Hume in reply on the 4th of
March, thanking him for having introduced Smith, who, he says,
appeared to be all that was said of him in the letter. "He has only
just arrived," the Abbé proceeds, "and I have only seen him for an
instant. I am very sorry that they have not found the Archbishop here.
He went some six weeks ago to Montpellier, whence he will soon go to
Paris. He told me he had a great desire to make your acquaintance. I
fear that my long black cassock will frighten the Duke of Buccleugh,
but apart from that I should omit nothing to make his stay in this
town as agreeable and useful as possible."[140] He writes again on the
22nd of April, after having a month's experience of his new friends:
"Mr. Smith is a sublime man. His heart and his mind are equally
admirable. Messrs. Malcolm and Mr. Urquhart of Cromartie are now here.
The Duke, his pupil, is a very amiable spirit, and does his exercises
well, and is making progress in French. If any English or Scotch
people ask your advice where to go for their studies, you could
recommend Toulouse. There is a very good academy and much society, and
some very distinguished people to be seen here." In a subsequent
letter he says, "There are many English people here, and the district
suits them well."[141]

This Abbé Colbert, who was Smith's chief guide and friend in the South
of France, was the eldest son of Mr. Cuthbert of Castlehill in
Inverness-shire, and was therefore head of the old Highland family to
which Colbert, the famous minister of Louis XIV., was so anxious to
trace his descent. That minister had himself gone the length of
petitioning the Scotch Privy Council for a birth-brieve, or
certificate, to attest his descent from the Castlehill family, and the
petition was refused through the influence of the Duke of Lauderdale.
But his successor, the Marquis de Seignelay, found the Scotch
Parliament more accommodating in 1686 than the Scotch Privy Council
had been, and obtained the birth-brieve in an Act of that year, which
was passed, as it states, in order that "this illustrious and noble
family of Colbert may be restored to us their friends and to their
native country," and which declared that the family came from the
south of Scotland, took their name from St. Cuthbert (pronounced, says
the Act, by the Scotch Culbert, though "soaftened" by the French into
Colbert), and received their arms for their valour in the battle of

The link between the Scotch Cuthberts and the French Colberts, thus
attested by Act of Parliament, may or may not be fabulous, but it was
a link of gold to many members of the family of Castlehill, who
emigrated to France, and were advanced into high positions through the
interest of their French connections. One of these was the present
Abbé, who had come over in 1750 a boy of fourteen, was now at
twenty-eight Vicar-General of Toulouse, and was in 1781 made Bishop of
Rodez. As Bishop he distinguished himself by the work he did for the
improvement of agriculture and industry in his diocese, and, as member
of the States General in 1789, he became the hero of the hour in Paris
and was carried shoulder-high through the streets for proposing the
union of the clergy with the Third Estate. When the Civil Constitution
of the clergy was declared he refused to submit, and returning to this
country, spent the remainder of his days here as Secretary to Louis

It would appear from the Abbé's first letter that Smith had either
brought with him from Paris an introduction to the Archbishop of
Toulouse, or that Hume had asked his cousin to give him one. This
Archbishop--who was so desirous to make Hume's acquaintance--was the
celebrated Loménie de Brienne, afterwards Cardinal and Minister of
France, who was thought at this time, Walpole says, to be the ablest
man in the Gallican Church, and was pronounced by Hume to be the only
man in France capable of restoring the greatness of the kingdom. When
he obtained the opportunity he signally falsified Hume's
prognostication, and did much to precipitate the Revolution by his
incapacity. Smith must no doubt have met him occasionally during his
protracted sojourn at Toulouse, though we have no evidence that he
did, and the Archbishop was rather notorious for his absence from his
see. If he did meet his Grace he would have found him as advanced an
economist as himself, for having been a college friend of Turgot and
Morellet at the Sorbonne, he became a strong advocate of their new
economic principles, and succeeded in getting the principle of free
trade in corn adopted by the States of Languedoc. Whether they were
personally acquainted or not, the Archbishop does not appear to have
cherished any profound regard for Smith, for when he was Minister of
France he refused his friend Morellet the trifling sum of a hundred
francs, which the Abbé asked to pay for the printing of his
translation of the _Wealth of Nations_.

During Smith's first six months at Toulouse he does not seem to have
seen the Archbishop, or to have seen much of anybody, as the following
letter shows. Indeed he found the place extremely dull, the life he
led in Glasgow having been, he says, dissipation itself in comparison.
They had not received the letters of recommendation they had expected
from the Duc de Choiseul, and for society they were as yet practically
confined to the Abbé Colbert and the English residents. For a
diversion Smith contemplates an excursion to Bordeaux, and suggests a
visit for a month from Sir James Macdonald, for the sake not only of
his agreeable society, but of the service "his influence and example"
would render the Duke. Personally he had, to mitigate his solitude,
taken a measure no less important than effectual--he had begun to
write a book--the _Wealth of Nations_--"to pass away the time. You may
believe I have very little to do."

They had arrived in Toulouse on the 3rd or 4th of March, but it is the
5th of July before Smith thinks of writing Hume; at least the
following letter reads as if it were the first since they parted:--

     MY DEAREST FRIEND--The Duke of Buccleugh proposes soon to
     set out for Bordeaux, where he intends to stay a fortnight
     or more. I should be much obliged to you if you could send
     us recommendations to the Duke of Richelieu, the Marquis de
     Lorges, and the Intendant of the Province. Mr. Townshend
     assured me that the Duc de Choiseul was to recommend us to
     all the people of fashion here and everywhere else in
     France. We have heard nothing, however, of these
     recommendations, and have had our way to make as well as we
     could by the help of the Abbé, who is a stranger here almost
     as much as we. The Progress indeed we have made is not very
     great. The Duke is acquainted with no Frenchman whatever. I
     cannot cultivate the acquaintance of the few with whom I am
     acquainted, as I cannot bring them to our house, and am not
     always at liberty to go to theirs. The life which I led at
     Glasgow was a pleasurable dissipated life in comparison of
     that which I lead here at Present. I have begun to write a
     book in order to pass away the time. You may believe I have
     very little to do. If Sir James would come and spend a month
     with us in his travels, it would not only be a great
     satisfaction to me, but he might by his influence and
     example be of great service to the Duke. Mention these
     matters, however, to nobody but to him. Remember me in the
     most respectful manner to Lord Beauchamp and to Dr.
     Trail,[142] and believe me, my dear friend, ever yours,


     TOULOUSE, _5th July 1764_.[143]

The trip to Bordeaux was taken probably in August, and in the company
of Abbé Colbert. At Bordeaux they fell in with Colonel Barré, the
furious orator, whose invective made even Charles Townshend quail, but
who was now over on a visit to his French kinsfolk, and making the
hearts of these simple people glad with his natural kindnesses. He
seems to have been much with Smith and his party during their stay in
Bordeaux, and to have accompanied them back to Toulouse. For he writes
Hume on the 4th of September from the latter town, and says: "I thank
you for your last letter from Paris, which I received just as Smith
and his _élève_ and L'Abbé Colbert were sitting down to dine with me
at Bordeaux. The latter is a very honest fellow and deserves to be a
bishop; make him one if you can.... Why will you triumph and talk of
_platte couture_? You have friends on both sides. Smith agrees with me
in thinking that you are turned soft by the _délices_ of the French
Court, and that you don't write in that nervous manner you was
remarkable for in the more northern climates. Besides, what is still
worse, you take your politics from your Elliots, Rigbys, and

Smith was already acquainted with Barré before he left Scotland, where
the colonel, for services rendered to Lord Shelburne, held the
lucrative post of Governor of Stirling Castle; and now he could not go
sight-seeing in a French town under two better guides than Barré and
Colbert--a Frenchman who had become an English politician, and an
Englishman who had become a French ecclesiastic. He seems to have been
struck with the contrast between the condition of the working class in
Bordeaux and their condition in Toulouse, as he had already been
struck with the same contrast between Glasgow and Edinburgh. In
Bordeaux they were in general industrious, sober, and thriving; in
Toulouse and the rest of the parliament towns they were idle and poor;
and the reason was that Bordeaux was a commercial town, the _entrepôt_
of the wine trade of a rich wine district, while Toulouse and the rest
were merely residential towns, employing little capital more than was
necessary to supply their own consumption. The common people were
always better off in a town like Bordeaux, where they lived on
capital, than in a town like Toulouse, where they lived on
revenue.[145] But while he speaks as if he thought the people of
Bordeaux more sober as well as more industrious than the people of
Toulouse, he looked upon the inhabitants of the southern provinces of
France generally as among the soberest people in Europe, and ascribes
their sobriety to the cheapness of their liquor. "People are seldom
guilty of excess," he says, "in what is their daily fare." He tells
that when a French regiment came from some of the northern provinces
of France, where wine was somewhat dear, to be quartered in the
southern, where wine was very cheap, the soldiers were at first
debauched by the cheapness and novelty of good wine; but after a few
months' residence the greater part of them became as sober as the rest
of the inhabitants. And he thinks the same effect might occur in this
country from a reduction of the wine, malt, and ale duties.[146]

Besides seeing the places, they visited some of the notabilities, to
whom the Earl of Hertford had sent them the letters of introduction
for which Smith had asked through Hume. The governor of the province
was away from home at the time, however; but Smith hoped to see him on
a second visit to Bordeaux he was presently to pay to meet his pupil's
younger brother on his way round from Paris to Toulouse. But they
found the Duke of Richelieu at home, and the gallant old
field-marshal, the hero of a hundred fights and a thousand scandals,
seems to have received them with great civility and even distinction.
Smith used to have much to say ever afterwards of this famous and
ill-famed man.

The excursion to Bordeaux in August was so agreeable that they made
another--probably in September--up to the fashionable watering-place
Bagnères de Bigorre, and in October, when Smith wrote the following
letter to Hume, they were on the eve of the second visit to Bordeaux
of which I have spoken, and even contemplating after that a visit to
Montpellier, when the States of Languedoc--the local assembly of the
province--met there in the end of November.

     TOULOUSE, _21st October 1764_.

     MY DEAR HUME--I take this opportunity of Mr. Cook's going to
     Paris to return to you, and thro' you to the Ambassador, my
     very sincere and hearty thanks for the very honourable
     manner in which he was so good as to mention me to the Duke
     of Richelieu in the letter of recommendation which you sent
     us. There was, indeed, one small mistake in it. He called me
     Robinson instead of Smith. I took upon me to correct this
     mistake myself before the Duke delivered the letter. We were
     all treated by the Maréchal with the utmost Politeness and
     attention, particularly the Duke, whom he distinguished in a
     very proper manner. The Intendant was not at Bordeaux, but
     we shall soon have an opportunity of delivering his letter,
     as we propose to return to that place in order to meet my
     Lord's Brother.

     Mr. Cook[147] goes to Caen to wait upon Mr. Scot, and to
     attend him from that place to Toulouse. He will pass by
     Paris, and I must beg the favour of you that as soon as you
     understand he is in town you will be so good as to call upon
     him and carry him to the Ambassador's, as well as to any
     other place where he would chuse to go. I must beg the same
     favour of Sir James. Mr. Cook will let you know when he
     comes to town. I have great reason to entertain the most
     favourable opinion of Mr. Scot, and I flatter myself his
     company will be both useful and agreeable to his Brother.
     Our expedition to Bordeaux and another we have made since to
     Bagnères has made a great change upon the Duke. He begins
     now to familiarise himself to French company, and I flatter
     myself I shall spend the rest of the time we are to live
     together not only in Peace and contentment, but in gayetty
     and amusement.

     When Mr. Scot joins us we propose to go to see the meeting
     of the States of Languedoc at Montpelier. Could you promise
     us recommendations to the Comte d'Eu, to the Archbishop of
     Narbonne, and to the Intendant? These expeditions, I find,
     are of the greatest service to my Lord.--I ever am, my dear
     friend, most, faithfully yours,

     ADAM SMITH.[148]

A few days after the date of that letter Smith writes Hume again,
introducing one of the English residents in Toulouse, Mr. Urquhart of
Cromartie, as Abbé Colbert describes him in one of his letters, a
descendant therefore probably of Sir Thomas. The letter is of no
importance, but it shows at least Smith's hearty liking for a good

     MY DEAR FRIEND--This letter will be delivered to you by Mr.
     Urquhart, the only man I ever knew who had a better temper
     than yourself. You will find him most perfectly amiable. I
     recommend him in the most earnest manner to your advice and
     protection. He is not a man of letters, and is just a plain,
     sensible, agreeable man of no pretensions of any kind, but
     whom you will love every day better and better.--My dear
     friend, most faithfully yours,


     TOULOUSE, _4th November 1764_.[149]

Smith and his two pupils made their proposed expedition to Montpellier
during the sittings of the States, for we find them visited there by
Horne Tooke,[150] then still parson of Brentford, who had been on a
tour in Italy, and stayed some time in Montpellier on his way back.
Tooke, it may be said here, was no admirer of Smith; he thought the
_Theory of Moral Sentiments_ nonsense, and the _Wealth of Nations_
written for a wicked purpose,[151] and this is the only occasion on
which they are known to have met.

The little provincial assembly which Smith had come to Montpellier to
see was at that period, it ought to be mentioned, attracting much
attention from all the thinkers and reformers of France, and was
thought by many of the first of them to furnish the solution of the
political question of that age. The States of Languedoc were almost
the only remains of free institutions then left in France. In all the
thirty-two provinces of the country except six the States had been
suppressed altogether, and in five of these six they were too small to
be important or vigorous; but Languedoc was a great province,
containing twenty-three bishoprics and more territory than the kingdom
of Belgium, and the States governed its affairs so well that its
prosperity was the envy of the rest of France. They dug canals, opened
harbours, drained marshes, made roads, which Arthur Young singles out
for praise, and made them without the _corvée_ under which the rest of
rural France was groaning. They farmed the imperial taxes of the
province themselves, to avoid the exactions of the farmers-general.
They allowed the _noblesse_ none of the exemptions so unfairly enjoyed
by them elsewhere. The _taille_, which was a personal tax in other
parts of the kingdom, was in Languedoc an equitable land tax, assessed
according to a valuation periodically revised. There was not a
poorhouse in the whole province, and such was its prosperity and
excellent administration that it enjoyed better credit in the market
than the Central Government, and the king used sometimes, in order to
get more favourable terms, to borrow on the security of the States of
Languedoc instead of his own.[152]

Under those circumstances it is not surprising that one of the
favourite remedies for the political situation in France was the
revival of the provincial assemblies and the suppression of the
intendants--"Grattan's Parliament and the abolition of the Castle."
Turgot, among others, favoured this solution, though he was an
intendant himself. Necker had just put it into execution when the
Revolution came and swept everything away. Smith himself has expressed
the strongest opinion in favour of the administration of provincial
affairs by a local body instead of by an intendant, and he must have
witnessed with no ordinary interest the proceedings of this remarkable
little assembly at Montpellier, with its 23 prelates on the right, its
23 barons on the left, and the third estate--representatives of 23
chief towns and 23 dioceses--in the centre, and on a dais in front of
all, the President, the Archbishop of Narbonne. The Archbishop, to
whom, it will be remembered, Smith asked, and no doubt received, a
letter of introduction from Lord Hertford, was a countryman of his
own, Cardinal Dillon, a prince of prelates, afterwards Minister of
France; a strong champion of the rights of the States against the
pretensions of the Crown, and, if we may judge from the speech with
which Miss Knight heard him open the States of Languedoc in 1776, a
very thorough free-trader.

With all these excursions, Smith was now evidently realising in some
reasonable measure the "gayetty and amusement" he told Hume he
anticipated to enjoy during the rest of his stay in the South of
France. His command of the language, too, grew easier, though it never
became perfect, and he not only went more into society, but was able
to enjoy it better. Among those he saw most of in Toulouse were, he
used to tell Stewart, the presidents and counsellors of the
Parliament, who were noted, like their class in other parliament
towns, for their hospitality, and noted above those of other
parliament towns for keeping up the old tradition of blending their
law with a love of letters. They were men, moreover, of proved
patriotism and independence; in no other society would Smith be likely
to hear more of the oppressed condition of the peasantry, and the
necessity for thoroughgoing reforms. In those days the king's edict
did not run in a province till it was registered by the local
parliament, and the Parliament of Toulouse often used this privilege
of theirs to check bad measures. They had in 1756 remonstrated with
the king against the _corvée_, declaring that the condition of the
peasantry of France was "a thousand times less tolerable than the
condition of the slaves in America." At the very moment of Smith's
first arrival in Toulouse they were all thrown in prison--or at least
put under arrest in their own houses--for refusing to register the
_centième denier_, and Smith no doubt had that circumstance in his
mind when he animadverted in the _Wealth of Nations_ on the violence
practised by the French Government to coerce its parliaments. He
thought very highly of those parliaments as institutions, stating that
though not very convenient courts of law, they had never been accused
or even suspected of corruption, and he gives a curious reason for
their incorruptibility; it was because they were not paid by salary,
but by fees dependent on their diligence.

During Smith's residence in Toulouse the town was raging (as Abbé
Colbert mentions in his letters to Hume) about one of the judgments of
this Parliament, and for the most part, strangely enough, taking the
Parliament's side. This was its judgment in the famous Calas case, to
which Smith alludes in the last edition of his _Theory_. Jean Calas,
it may be remembered, had a son who had renounced his Protestantism in
order to become eligible for admission to the Toulouse bar, and then
worried himself so much about his apostasy that he committed suicide
in his father's house; and the father was unjustly accused before the
Parliament of the town of having murdered the youth on account of his
apostasy, was found guilty without a particle of proof, and then
broken on the wheel and burnt on the 9th of March 1762. But the great
voice of Voltaire rose against this judicial atrocity, and after three
years' agitation procured a new trial before a special court of fifty
masters of requests, of whom Turgot was one, on the 9th of March 1765,
with the result that Calas was pronounced absolutely innocent of the
crime he suffered for, and his family was awarded a compensation of
36,000 livres. The king received them at court, and all France
rejoiced in their rehabilitation except their own townsfolk in
Toulouse. On the 10th of April 1765--a month after the verdict--Abbé
Colbert writes Hume: "The people here would surprise you with their
fanaticism. In spite of all that has happened, they every man believe
Calas to be guilty, and it is no use speaking to them on the

Smith makes use of the incident to illustrate the proposition that
while unmerited praise gives no satisfaction except to the frivolous,
unmerited reproach inflicts the keenest suffering even on men of
exceptional endurance, because the injustice destroys the sweetness
of the praise, but enormously embitters the sting of the condemnation.
"The unfortunate Calas," he writes--"a man of much more than ordinary
constancy (broken upon the wheel and burnt at Tholouse for the
supposed murder of his own son, of which he was perfectly
innocent)--seemed with his last breath to deprecate not so much the
cruelty of the punishment, as the disgrace which the imputation must
bring upon his memory. After he had been broke, and when just going to
be thrown into the fire, the monk who attended the execution exhorted
him to confess the crime for which he had been condemned. 'My father,'
said Calas, 'can you bring yourself to believe that I was guilty?'"


[140] _Hume Correspondence_, R.S.E. Library.

[141] Ibid.

[142] Lord Beauchamp was the eldest son of the English Ambassador, the
Earl of Hertford, and Dr. Trail, or properly Traill, was the
Ambassador's chaplain, who was made Bishop of Down and Connor soon
afterwards, when Lord Hertford became Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.

[143] _Hume Correspondence_, R.S.E. Library.

[144] Burton's _Letters of Eminent Persons to David Hume_, p. 37.

[145] _Wealth of Nations_, Book II. chap. iii.

[146] _Wealth of Nations_, Book I. chap. xi.

[147] The Duke's servant.

[148] _Hume Correspondence_, R.S.E. Library.

[149] _Hume Correspondence_, R.S.E. Library.

[150] Stephen's _Life of Horne Tooke_, i. 75.

[151] Samuel Rogers told this to his friend the Rev. John Mitford. See
Add. MSS. 32,566.

[152] Tocqueville, _State of Society in France_, pp. _265, 271._

[153] _Hume Correspondence_, R.S.E. Library.



In the end of August Smith and his pupils left Toulouse and made what
Stewart calls an extensive tour in the South of France. Of this tour
no other record remains, but the Duke's aunt, Lady Mary Coke,
incidentally mentions that when they were at Marseilles they visited
the porcelain factory, and that the Duke bought two of the largest
services ever sold there, for which he paid more than £150 sterling.
They seem to have arrived in Geneva some time in October, and stayed
about two months in the little republic of which, as we have seen,
Smith had long been a fervent admirer. In making so considerable a
sojourn at Geneva, he was no doubt influenced as a political
philosopher by the desire to see something of the practical working of
those republican institutions which he regarded speculatively with so
much favour, to observe how the common problems of government worked
themselves out on the narrow field of a commonwealth with only 24,000
inhabitants all told, which yet contrived to keep its place among the
nations, to sit sometimes as arbiter between them, and to surpass them
all in the art of making its people prosperous. He had the luck to
observe it at an interesting moment, for it was in the thick of a
constitutional crisis. The government of the republic had hitherto
been vested in the hands of 200 privileged families, and the rest of
the citizens were now pressing their right to a share in it, with the
active assistance of Voltaire. This important struggle for the
conversion of the aristocratic into the democratic republic continued
all through the period of Smith's visit, and the city of Geneva, which
in its usual state was described by Voltaire as "a tedious convent
with some sensible people in it," was day after day at this time the
animated scene of the successive acts of that political drama.

During his stay there Smith made many personal friends, both among the
leading citizens of the commonwealth and among the more distinguished
of the foreign visitors who generally abounded there. People went to
Geneva in those days not to see the lake or the mountains, but to
consult Dr. Tronchin and converse with Voltaire. Smith needed no
introduction to Tronchin, who, as we have seen, held so high an
opinion of his abilities that he had sent his own son all the way to
Glasgow to attend his philosophical classes; and it was no doubt
through Tronchin, Voltaire's chief friend in that quarter, that Smith
was introduced to Voltaire. Smith told Rogers he had been in
Voltaire's company on five or six different occasions, and he no doubt
enjoyed, as most English visitors enjoyed, hospitable entertainment at
Ferney, the beautiful little temporality of the great literary
pontiff, overlooking the lake.

There was no living name before which Smith bowed with profounder
veneration than the name of Voltaire, and his recollections of their
intercourse on these occasions were always among those he cherished
most warmly. Few memorials, however, of their conversation remain, and
these are preserved by Samuel Rogers in his diary of his visit to
Edinburgh the year before Smith's death. They seem to have spoken, as
was very natural, of the Duke of Richelieu, the only famous Frenchman
Smith had yet met, and of the political question as to the revival of
the provincial assemblies or the continuance of government by royal
intendants. On this question Smith said that Voltaire expressed great
aversion to the States and favoured the side of the royal prerogative.
Of the Duke of Richelieu Voltaire said that he was an old friend of
his, but a singular character. A few years before his death his foot
slipped one day at Versailles, and the old marshal said that was the
first _faux pas_ he had ever made at court. Voltaire then seems to
have told anecdotes of the Duke's being bastilled and of his borrowing
the Embassy plate at Vienna and never returning it, and to have passed
the remark he made elsewhere that the English had only one sauce,
melted butter. Smith always spoke of Voltaire with a genuine emotion
of reverence. When Samuel Rogers happened to describe some clever but
superficial author as "a Voltaire," Smith brought his hand down on the
table with great energy and said, "Sir, there is only one
Voltaire."[154] Professor Faujas Saint Fond, Professor of Geology in
the Museum of Natural History in Paris, visited Smith in Edinburgh a
few years before Rogers was there, and says that the animation of
Smith's countenance was striking when he spoke of Voltaire, whom he
had known personally, and whose memory he revered. "Reason," said
Smith one day, as he showed M. Saint Fond a fine bust of Voltaire he
had in his room, "reason owes him incalculable obligations. The
ridicule and the sarcasm which he so plentifully bestowed upon
fanatics and heretics of all sects have enabled the understanding of
men to bear the light of truth, and prepared them for those inquiries
to which every intelligent mind ought to aspire. He has done much more
for the benefit of mankind than those grave philosophers whose books
are read by a few only. The writings of Voltaire are made for all and
read by all." On another occasion he observed to the same visitor, "I
cannot pardon the Emperor Joseph II., who pretended to travel as a
philosopher, for passing Ferney without doing homage to the historian
of the Czar Peter I. From this circumstance I concluded that Joseph
was but a man of inferior mind."[155]

One of the warmest of Smith's Swiss friends was Charles Bonnet, the
celebrated naturalist and metaphysician, who, in writing Hume ten
years after the date of this visit, desires to be remembered "to the
sage of Glascow," adding, "You perceive I speak of Mr. Smith, whom we
shall always recollect with great pleasure."[156] On the day this
letter was written by Bonnet to Hume, another was written to Smith
himself by a young Scotch tutor then in Geneva, Patrick Clason, who
seems to have carried an introduction from Smith to Bonnet, and who
mentions having received many civilities from Bonnet on account of his
being one of Smith's friends. Clason then goes on to tell Smith that
the Syndic Turretin and M. Le Sage also begged to be remembered to
him. The Syndic Turretin was the President of the Republic, and M. Le
Sage was the eminent Professor of Physics, George Louis Le Sage, who
was then greatly interested in Professor Black's recent discoveries
about latent heat and Professor Matthew Stewart's in astronomy, and
was one of a group who gathered round Bonnet for discussions in
speculative philosophy and morals, at which, it may be reasonably
inferred, Smith would have also occasionally assisted. Le Sage seems
to have met Smith first, however, and to have been in the habit of
meeting him often afterwards, at the house of a high and distinguished
French lady, the Duchesse d'Enville, who was living in Geneva under
Tronchin's treatment, and whose son, the young and virtuous Duc de la
Rochefoucauld, who was afterwards stoned to death in the Revolution,
was receiving instruction from Le Sage himself. Le Sage writes the
Duchesse d'Enville on 5th February 1766, "Of all the people I have met
at your house, that is, of all the _élite_ of our good company, I have
only continued to see the excellent Lord Stanhope and occasionally Mr.
Smith. The latter wished me to make the acquaintance of Lady Conyers
and the Duke of Buckleugh, but I begged him to reserve that kindness
for me till his return."[157]

This letter shows that Smith was so much taken with Geneva that he
meant to pay it a second visit before he ended his tutorial
engagement, but the intention was never fulfilled, in consequence of
unfortunate circumstances to be presently mentioned.

The Duchesse d'Enville, at whose house Smith seems to have been so
steady a guest, was herself a Rochefoucauld by blood, a grand-daughter
of the famous author of the _Maxims_, and was a woman of great
ability, who was popularly supposed to be the inspirer of all Turgot's
political and social ideas, the chief of the "three Maries" who were
alleged to guide his doings. Stewart tells us that Smith used to speak
with very particular pleasure and gratitude of the many civilities he
received from this interesting woman and her son, and they seem on
their part to have cherished the same lively recollection of him. When
Adam Ferguson was in Paris in 1774 she asked him much about Smith, and
often complained, says Ferguson in a letter to Smith himself, "of your
French as she did of mine, but said that before you left Paris she had
the happiness to learn your language."[158] After two and a half
years' residence in France, Smith seems then to have been just
succeeding in making himself intelligible to the more intelligent
inhabitants in their own language, and this agrees with what Morellet
says, that Smith's French was very bad. The young Duc de la
Rochefoucauld, who, like his mother, was a devoted friend of Turgot,
became presently a declared disciple of Quesnay, and sat regularly
with the rest of the economist sect at the economic dinners of
Mirabeau, the "Friend of Man." When Samuel Rogers met him in Paris
shortly after the outbreak of the Revolution, he expressed to Rogers
the highest admiration for Smith, then recently dead, of whom he had
seen much in Paris as well as Geneva, and he had at one time begun to
translate the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_ into French, abandoning the
task only when he found his work anticipated by the Abbé Blavet's
translation in 1774. The only surviving memorial of their intercourse
is a letter from the Duke, which will be given in its place, and in
which he begs Smith to modify the opinion pronounced in the _Theory_
on the writer's ancestor, the author of the _Maxims_.

The Earl Stanhope, whom Smith used to meet at the Duchess's, and with
whom he established a lasting friendship, was the second Earl, the
editor of Professor Robert Simson's mathematical works, and himself a
distinguished mathematician. He took no part in public life, but his
opinions were of the most advanced Liberal order. He had come to
Geneva to place his son, afterwards also so distinguished in science,
under the training of Le Sage. The Lady Conyers, to whom the Scotch
was so anxious to introduce the Swiss philosopher, was the young lady
who a few years afterwards ran away from her husband, the fifth Duke
of Leeds, with the poet Byron's father, whom she subsequently married,
and by whom she became the mother of the poet's sister Augusta.


[154] Clayden's _Early Life of Samuel Rogers_, p. 110.

[155] Faujas Saint Fond, _Travels in England, Scotland, and the
Hebrides,_ ii. 241.

[156] _Hume Correspondence_, R.S.E. Library.

[157] Prevost, _Notice de la Vie et des écrits de George Louis Le Sage
de Geneva_, p. 226.

[158] Small's _Biographical Sketch of Adam Ferguson_, p. 20.



Smith left Geneva in December for Paris, where he arrived, according
to Dugald Stewart, about Christmas 1765. The Rev. William Cole, who
was in Paris in October of the same year, notes in his journal on the
26th of that month, that the Duke of Buccleugh arrived in Paris that
day from Spa along with the Earl and Countess of Fife; but this must
be a mistake, for Horace Walpole, who was also in Paris that autumn,
writes on the 5th of December that the Duke was then expected to
arrive in the following week, and as Walpole was staying in the hotel
where the Duke and Smith stayed during their residence in that
city--the Hotel du Parc Royal in the Faubourg de St. Germain--he
probably wrote from authentic information about the engagement of
their rooms. It may be taken, therefore, that they arrived in Paris
about the middle of December, just in time to have a week or two with
Hume before he finally left Paris for London with Rousseau on the 3rd
of January 1766. Hume had been looking for Smith ever since midsummer.
As far back as the 5th of September he wrote, "I have been looking for
you every day these three months," but that expectation was probably
founded on reports from Abbé Colbert, for Smith himself does not seem
to have written Hume since the previous October, except the short note
introducing Mr. Urquhart. At any rate in this letter of September 1765
Hume, as if in reply to Smith's account of his pupil's improvement in
his letter of October 1764, says, "Your satisfaction in your pupil
gives me equal satisfaction." It is no doubt possible that Smith may
have written letters in the interval which have been lost, but he had
clearly written none for the previous three months, and it is most
probable, with his general aversion to writing, that he wrote none for
the four or five months before that. Hume's own object in breaking the
long silence is, in the first place, to inform him that, having lost
his place at the Embassy through the translation of his chief to the
Lord-Lieutenancy of Ireland, he should be obliged to return to England
in October before Smith's arrival in Paris; and in the next, to
consult him on a new perplexity that was distressing him, whether he
should not come back to Paris and spend the remainder of his days
there. In compensation for the loss of his place, he had obtained a
pension of £900 a year, without office or duty of any kind--"opulence
and liberty," as he calls it. But opulence and liberty brought their
own cares, and he was rent with temptations to belong to different
nations. "As a new vexation to temper my good fortune," he writes to
Smith, "I am in much perplexity about fixing the place of my future
abode for life. Paris is the most agreeable town in Europe, and suits
me best, but it is a foreign country. London is the capital of my own
country, but it never pleased me much. Letters are there held in no
honour; Scotsmen are hated; superstition and ignorance gain ground
daily. Edinburgh has many objections and many allurements. My present
mind this forenoon, the 5th of September, is to return to France. I am
much press'd also to accept of offers which would contribute to my
agreeable living, but might encroach on my independence by making me
enter into engagements with Princes and great lords and ladies. Pray
give me your judgment."[159]

Events soon settled the question for him. He was appointed Under
Secretary of State in London by Lord Hertford's brother, General
Conway, and left Paris, as I have just said, early in January 1766.
Rousseau had been in Paris since the 17th of December waiting to
accompany Hume to England, and Smith must no doubt have met Rousseau
occasionally with Hume during that last fortnight of 1765, though
there is no actual evidence that he did. Before leaving, moreover,
Hume would have time to introduce his friend to the famous men of
Paris itself, and to initiate him into those literary and fashionable
circles in which he had moved like a demigod for the preceding two
years. The philosophe was then king in Paris, and Hume was king of the
philosophes, and everything that was great in court or salon fell down
and did him obeisance. "Here," he tells Robertson, "I feed on
ambrosia, drink nothing but nectar, breathe incense only, and walk on
flowers. Every one I meet, and especially every woman, would consider
themselves as failing in the most indispensable duty if they did not
favour me with a lengthy and ingenious discourse on my celebrity."
Hume could, therefore, open to his friend every door in Paris that was
worth entering, but Smith's own name was also sufficiently known and
esteemed, at least among men of letters, in France to secure to him a
cordial welcome for his own sake. _The Theory of Moral Sentiments_ had
been translated, at the suggestion of Baron d'Holbach, by E. Dous, and
the translation had appeared in 1764 under the title of _Métaphysique
de l'Ame_. It was unfortunately a very bad translation, for which
Grimm makes the curious apology that it was impossible to render the
ideas of metaphysics in a foreign language as you could render the
images of poetry, because every nation had its own abstract
ideas.[160] But though the book got probably little impetus from this
translation, it had been considerably read in the original by men of
letters when it first came out, and many of them had then formed, as
Abbé Morellet says he did, the highest idea of Smith's sagacity and
depth, and were prepared to meet the author with much interest.

Smith went more into society in the few months he resided in Paris
than at any other period of his life. He was a regular guest in almost
all the famous literary salons of that time--Baron d'Holbach's,
Helvetius', Madame de Geoffrin's, Comtesse de Boufflers', Mademoiselle
l'Espinasse's, and probably Madame Necker's. Our information about his
doings is of course meagre, but there is one week in July 1766 in
which we happen to have his name mentioned frequently in the course of
the correspondence between Hume and his Paris friends regarding the
quarrel with Rousseau, and during that week Smith was on the 21st at
Mademoiselle l'Espinasse's, on the 25th at Comtesse de Boufflers', and
on the 27th at Baron d'Holbach's, where he had some conversation with
Turgot. He was a constant visitor at Madame Riccoboni the novelist's.
He attended the meetings of the new economist sect in the apartments
of Dr. Quesnay, and though the economic dinners of the elder Mirabeau,
the "Friend of Men," were not begun for a year after, he no doubt
visited the Marquis, as we know he visited other members of the
fraternity. He went to Compiègne when the Court removed to Compiègne,
made frequent excursions to interesting places within reach, and is
always seen with troops of friends about him. Many of these were
Englishmen, for after their long exclusion from Paris during the Seven
Years war, Englishmen had begun to pour into the city, and the Hotel
du Parc Royal, where Smith lived, was generally full of English
guests. Among others who were there, as I have just mentioned, was
Horace Walpole, who remained on till Easter, and with whom Smith seems
to have become well acquainted, for in writing Hume in July he asks to
be specially remembered to Mr. Walpole.

So much has been written about the literary salons of Paris in last
century that it is unnecessary to do more here than describe Smith's
connection with them. The salon we happen to hear most of his
frequenting is the salon of the Comtesse de Boufflers-Rouvel, but that
is due to the simple circumstance that the hostess was an assiduous
correspondent of David Hume. She was mistress to the Prince de Conti,
but ties of that character, if permanent, derogated nothing from a
lady's position in Paris at that period. Abbé Morellet, who was a
constant guest at her house, even states that this connection of hers
with a prince of the blood, though illicit, really enhanced rather
than diminished her consideration in society, and her receptions were
attended by all the rank, fashion, and learning of the city. The
Comtesse was very fond of entertaining English guests, for she spoke
our language well, and had been greatly pleased with the civilities
she had received during her then recent visit to England in 1763.
Smith was not long in Paris till he made her acquaintance, and
received a very hearty welcome for the love of Hume. She began to read
his book, moreover, and it became eventually such a favourite with her
that she had thoughts of translating it.

Hume writes to her from Wootton on the 22nd of March 1766: "I am glad
you have taken my friend Smith under your protection. You will find
him a man of true merit, though perhaps his sedentary recluse life may
have hurt his air and appearance as a man of the world." The Comtesse
writes Hume on the 6th of May: "I think I told you that I have made
the acquaintance of Mr. Smith, and that for the love of you I had
given him a very hearty welcome. I am now reading his _Theory of Moral
Sentiments_. I am not very far advanced with it yet, but I believe it
will please me." And again on the 25th of July, in the same year, when
Hume's quarrel with Rousseau was raging, she appends to a letter to
Hume on that subject a few words about Smith, who had apparently
called upon her just as she had finished it: "I entreated your friend
Mr. Smith to call upon me. He has just this moment left me. I have
read my letter to him. He, like myself, is apprehensive that you have
been deceived in the warmth of so just a resentment. He begs of you to
read over again the letter to Mr. Conway. It does not appear that he
(Rousseau) refuses the pension, nor that he desires it to be made
public."[161] The _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, which she had then
begun to read, grew more and more in favour with her, and a few years
after this--in 1770--when the two sons of Smith's friend, Sir Gilbert
Elliot, visited her, they found her at her studies in her bedroom, and
talking of translating the book, if she had time, because it contained
such just ideas about sympathy. She added that the book had come into
great vogue in France, and that Smith's doctrine of sympathy bade fair
to supplant David Hume's immaterialism as the fashionable opinion,
especially with the ladies.[162] The vogue would probably be aided by
Smith's personal introduction into French literary circles, but
evidence of its extent is found in the fact that although one French
translation of the work had already appeared, three different persons
were then preparing or contemplating another--the Abbé Blavet, who
actually published his; the Due de la Rochefoucauld, who discontinued
his labour when he found himself forestalled by the Abbé; and the
Comtesse de Boufflers who perhaps did little more than entertain the
design. The best translation was published some years after by another
lady, the widow of Condorcet.

The Baron d'Holbach's weekly or bi-weekly dinners, at one of which it
has been mentioned Smith had a conversation with Turgot, were, as L.
Blanc has said, the regular states-general of philosophy. The usual
guests were the philosophes and encyclopedists and men of
letters--Diderot, Marmontel, Raynal, Galiani. The conversation ran
largely towards metaphysics and theology, and, as Morellet, who was
often there, states, the boldest theories were propounded, and things
spoken which might well call down fire from heaven. It was there that
Hume observed he had neither seen an atheist, nor did he believe one
existed, and was informed by his host in reply, "You have been a
little unfortunate; you are here at table with seventeen for the first

Morellet mentions that it was at the table of Helvetius, the
philosopher, he himself first met Smith. Helvetius was a retired
farmer-general of the taxes, who had grown rich without practising
extortion, and instead of remaining a bachelor, as Smith says other
farmers-general in France did, because no gentlewoman would marry
them, and they were too proud to marry anybody else, he had married a
pretty and clever wife, an early friend of Turgot's, who helped to
make his Tuesday dinners among the most agreeable entertainments in
Paris. He had recently returned from a long sojourn in England, so
enchanted with both country and people that d'Holbach, who could find
nothing to praise in either, declared he could really have seen
nothing in England all the time except the persecution for heresy
which he had shortly before suffered in France, and would have escaped
in our freer air; and he was always very hospitable to English
celebrities, so that it may be inferred that Smith enjoyed many
opportunities of conversation with this versatile and philosophical
financier during his stay in Paris.

Morellet, whose acquaintance Smith made at Helvetius' house, became
one of his fastest friends in France, and on leaving Paris Smith gave
him for a keepsake his own pocket-book,--a very pretty English-made
pocket-book, says the Abbé, which "has served me these twenty years."
Morellet, besides being an advanced economist, whose views ran in
sympathy with Smith's own, was the most delightful of companions,
uniting with strong sense and a deep love of the right an unfailing
play of irony and fun, and ever ready, as Fanny Burney found him still
at eighty-five, to sing his own songs for the entertainment of his
friends. The Abbé was a metaphysician as well as an economist, but,
according to his account of his conversations with Smith, they seem to
have discussed mainly economic subjects--"the theory of commerce," he
says, "banking, public credit, and various points in the great work
which Smith was then meditating,"[163] _i.e._ the _Wealth of Nations_.
This book had therefore by that time taken shape so far that the
author made his Paris friends aware of his occupation upon it, and
discussed with them definite points in the scheme of doctrine he was
unfolding. Morellet formed a very just estimate of him. "I regard him
still," he says, "as one of the men who have made the most complete
observations and analyses on all questions he treated of," and he gave
the best proof of his high opinion by writing a translation of the
_Wealth of Nations_ himself. Smith would no doubt derive some
assistance towards making his observations and analyses more complete
from the different lights in which the matters under consideration
would be naturally placed in the course of discussions with men like
Morellet and his friends; but whatever others have thought, Morellet
at least sets up no claim, either on his own behalf or on behalf of
his very old and intimate college friend Turgot, or of any other of
the French economists, of having influenced or supplied any of Smith's
ideas. The Scotch inquirer had been long working on the same lines as
his French colleagues, and Morellet seems to have thought him, when
they first met, as he thought him still, when he wrote those memoirs,
as being more complete in his observations and analyses than the

A frequent resort of Smith in Paris was the salon of Mademoiselle de
l'Espinasse, which differed from the others by the greater variety of
the guests and by the presence of ladies. The hostess--according to
Hume, one of the most sensible women in Paris--had long been Madame du
Deffand's principal assistant in the management of her famous salon,
but having been dismissed in 1764 for entertaining Turgot and
D'Alembert on her own account without permission, she set up a rival
salon of her own on improved principles, with the zealous help of her
two eminent friends; and to her unpretending apartments ambassadors,
princesses, marshals of France, and financiers came, and met with men
of letters like Grimm, Condillac, and Gibbon. D'Alembert indeed lived
in the house, having come there to be nursed through an illness and
remaining on afterwards, and as D'Alembert was one of Smith's chief
friends in Paris, his house was naturally one of the latter's chief
resorts. Here, moreover, he often met Turgot, as indeed he did
everywhere he went, and of all the friends he met in France there was
none in whose society he took more pleasure, or for whose mind and
character he formed a profounder admiration, than that great thinker
and statesman. If his conversation with Morellet ran mainly on
political and economic subjects, it would most probably run even more
largely on such subjects with Turgot, for they were both at the moment
busy writing their most important works on those subjects. Turgot's
_Formation and Distribution of Wealth_ was written in 1766, though it
was only published three years later in the _Éphémérides du Citoyen_;
and it cannot, I think, be doubted that the ideas and theories with
which his mind was then boiling must have been the subject of
discussion again and again in the course of his numerous conversations
with Smith. So also if Smith brought out various points in the work he
was undertaking for discussion with Morellet, he may reasonably be
inferred to have done the same with Morellet's greater friend Turgot,
and all this would have been greatly to their mutual advantage. No
vestiges of their intercourse, however, remain, though some critics
profess to see its results writ very large on the face of their

Professor Thorold Rogers thinks the influences of Turgot's reasoning
on Smith's mind to be easily perceptible to any reader of the
_Formation and Distribution of Wealth_ and of the _Wealth of Nations_.
Dupont de Nemours once went so far as to say that whatever was true in
Smith was borrowed from Turgot, and whatever was not borrowed
from Turgot was not true; but he afterwards retracted that
absurdly-sweeping allegation, and confessed that he had made it before
he was able to read English; while Leon Say thinks Turgot owed much of
his philosophy to Smith, and Smith owed much of his economics to
Turgot.[164] Questions of literary obligation are often difficult to
settle. Two contemporary thinkers, dealing with the same subject under
the same general influences and tendencies of the time, may think
nearly alike even without any manner of personal intercommunication,
and the idea of natural liberty of trade, in which the main
resemblance between the writers in the present case is supposed to
occur, was already in the ground, and sprouting up here and there
before either of them wrote at all. Smith's position on that subject,
moreover, is so much more solid, balanced, and moderate than Turgot's,
that it is different in positive character; the extremer form of the
doctrine taught by Turgot appears to have been taught also by Smith in
earlier years and abandoned. At least the fragment published by
Stewart of Smith's Society paper of 1755--eleven years before Turgot
wrote his book or saw Smith--proclaims individualism of the extremer
form, and intimates that he had taught the same views in Edinburgh in
1750. Smith had thus been teaching free trade many years before he met
Turgot, and teaching it in Turgot's own form; he had converted many of
the merchants of Glasgow to it and a future Prime Minister of
England; he had probably, moreover, thought out the main truths of the
work he was even then busy upon. He was therefore in a position to
meet Turgot on equal terms, and give full value for anything he might
take, and if obligations must needs be assessed and the balance
adjusted, who shall say whether Smith owes most to the conversation of
Turgot or Turgot owes most to the conversation of Smith? The state of
the exchange cannot be determined from mere priority of publication;
no other means of determining it exist, and it is of no great moment
to determine it at all.

Turgot and Smith are said--on authority which cannot be altogether
disregarded, Condorcet, the biographer of Turgot--to have continued
their economic discussions by correspondence after Smith returned to
this country; but though every search has been made for this
correspondence, as Dugald Stewart informs us, no trace of anything of
the kind was ever discovered on either side of the Channel, and
Smith's friends never heard him allude to such a thing. "It is
scarcely to be supposed," says Stewart, "that Mr. Smith would destroy
the letters of such a correspondent as M. Turgot, and still less
probable that such an intercourse was carried on between them without
the knowledge of Mr. Smith's friends. From some inquiries that have
been made at Paris by a gentleman of this society[165] since Smith's
death, I have reason to believe that no evidence of the correspondence
exists among the papers of M. Turgot, and that the whole story has
taken its rise from a report suggested by the knowledge of their
former intimacy."[166] Some of Hume's letters to Turgot--one from this
year 1766, combating among other things Turgot's principle of the
single tax on the net product of the land--still exist among the
Turgot family archives, but none from Smith, for Leon Say examined
those archives a few years ago with this purpose among others
expressly in view.

An occasional letter, however, certainly did pass between them, for,
as Smith himself mentions in a letter which will appear in a
subsequent chapter, it was "by the particular favour of M. Turgot"
that he received the copy of the _Mémoires concernant les
Impositions_, which he quotes so often in the _Wealth of Nations_.
This book was not printed when he was in France, and as it needed much
influence to get a copy of it, his was most probably got after Turgot
became Controller-General of the Finances in 1774. But in any case it
would involve the exchange of letters.

Smith, with all his admiration for Turgot, thought him too
simple-hearted for a practical statesman, too prone, as noble natures
often are, to underrate the selfishness, stupidity, and prejudice that
prevail in the world and resist the course of just and rational
reform. He described Turgot to Samuel Rogers as an excellent person,
very honest and well-meaning, but so unacquainted with the world and
human nature that it was a maxim with him, as he had himself told
David Hume, that whatever is right may be done.[167]

Smith would deny the name of statesman altogether to the politician
who did not make it his aim to establish the right, or, in other
words, had no public ideal; such a man is only "that crafty and
insidious animal vulgarly termed a statesman." But he insists that the
truly wise statesman in pressing his ideal must always practise
considerable accommodation. If he cannot carry the right he will not
disdain to ameliorate the wrong, but, "like Solon, when he cannot
establish the best system of laws, he will endeavour to establish the
best that the people can bear."[168] Turgot made too little account,
he thought, of the resisting power of vested interests and confirmed
habits. He was too optimist, and the peculiarity attaches to his
theoretical as well as his practical work. Smith himself was prone
rather to the contrary error of overrating the resisting power of
interests and prejudices. If Turgot was too sanguine when he told the
king that popular education would in ten years change the people past
all recognition, Smith was too incredulous when he despaired of the
ultimate realisation of slave emancipation and free trade; and under a
biographical aspect, it is curious to find the man who has spent his
life in the practical business of the world taking the more
enthusiastic view we expect from the recluse, and the man who has
spent his life in his library taking the more critical and measured
view we expect from the man of the world.

Another statesman whom Smith knew well in Paris was Necker. His wife
had very possibly begun by this time her rather austere salon, where
free-thinking was strictly tabooed, and Morellet, her right-hand man
in the entertainment of the guests, confesses the restraint was really
irksome; and if she had, Morellet would probably have brought Smith
there. But anyhow Sir James Mackintosh, who had means of hearing about
Smith from competent sources, states explicitly that he was upon
intimate terms with Necker during his residence in the French capital,
that he formed only a poor opinion of that minister's abilities, and
that he used to predict the fall of his political reputation the
moment his head was put to any real proof, always saying of him with
emphasis, "He is a mere man of detail."[169] Smith was not always
lucky in his predictions, but here for once he was right.

While Smith was frequenting these various literary and philosophical
salons they were all thrown into a state of unusual commotion by the
famous quarrel between Rousseau and Hume. The world has long since
ceased to take any interest in that quarrel, having assured itself
that it all originated in the suspicions of Rousseau's insane fancy,
but during the whole summer of 1766 it filled column after column of
the English and continental newspapers, and it occupied much of the
attention of Smith and the other friends of Hume in Paris. It will be
remembered that when Rousseau was expelled from Switzerland, Hume, who
was an extravagant admirer of his, offered to find him a home in
England, and on the offer being accepted, brought him over to this
country in January 1766. Hume first found quarters for him at
Chiswick, but the capricious philosopher would not live at Chiswick
because it was too near town. Hume then got him a gentleman's house in
the Peak of Derby, but Rousseau would not enter it unless the owner
agreed to take board. Hume induced the owner to gratify even this
whim, and Rousseau departed and established himself comfortably at
Wootton in the Peak of Derby. Hume next procured for him a pension of
£100 a year from the king. Rousseau would not touch it unless it were
kept secret; the king agreed to keep it secret. Rousseau then would
not have it unless it were made public; the king again agreed to meet
his whim. But the more Hume did for him the more Rousseau suspected
the sincerity of his motives, and used first to assail him with the
most ridiculous accusations, and then fall on his neck and implore
forgiveness for ever doubting him. But at last, on the 23rd of June,
in reply to Hume's note intimating the king's remission of the
condition of secrecy, and the consequent removal of every obstacle to
the acceptance of the pension, Rousseau gave way entirely to the evil
spirit that haunted him, and wrote Hume the notorious letter,
declaring that his horrible designs were at last found out.

Hume lost no time in going with his troubles to Smith, and asking him
to lay the true state of the case before their Paris friends. To that
letter Smith wrote the following reply:--

     PARIS, _6th July 1766_.

     MY DEAR FRIEND--I am thoroughly convinced that Rousseau is
     as great a rascal as you and as every man here believe him
     to be. Yet let me beg of you not to think of publishing
     anything to the world upon the very great impertinence which
     he has been guilty of. By refusing the pension which you had
     the goodness to solicit for him with his own consent, he may
     have thrown, by the baseness of his proceedings, a little
     ridicule upon you in the eyes of the court and the ministry.
     Stand this ridicule; expose his brutal letter, but without
     giving it out of your own hand, so that it may never be
     printed, and, if you can, laugh at yourself, and I will pawn
     my life that before three weeks are at an end this little
     affair which at present gives you so much uneasiness shall
     be understood to do you as much honour as anything that has
     ever happened to you. By endeavouring to unmask before the
     public this hypocritical pedant, you run the risk of
     disturbing the tranquillity of your whole life. By leaving
     him alone he cannot give you a fortnight's uneasiness. To
     write against him is, you may depend upon it, the very thing
     he wishes you to do. He is in danger of falling into
     obscurity in England, and he hopes to make himself
     considerable by provoking an illustrious adversary. He will
     have a great party--the Church, the Whigs, the Jacobites,
     the whole wise English nation--who will love to mortify a
     Scotchman, and to applaud a man who has refused a pension
     from the king. It is not unlikely, too, that they may pay
     him very well for having refused it, and that even he may
     have had in view this compensation. Your whole friends here
     wish you not to write,--the Baron, D'Alembert, Madame
     Riccoboni, Mademoiselle Rianecourt, M. Turgot, etc. etc. M.
     Turgot, a friend every way worthy of you, desired me to
     recommend this advice to you in a particular manner as his
     most earnest entreaty and opinion. He and I are both afraid
     that you are surrounded with evil counsellors, and that the
     advice of your English _literati_, who are themselves
     accustomed to publishing all their little gossiping stories
     in newspapers, may have too much influence upon you.
     Remember me to Mr. Walpole, and believe me, etc.

     P.S.--Make my apology to Millar for not having yet answered
     his last very kind letter. I am preparing the answer to it,
     which he will certainly receive by next post. Remember me to
     Mrs. Millar. Do you ever see Mr. Townshend?[170]

The deep love of tranquillity this letter breathes, the dislike of
publicity as a snare fatal to future quiet, the contempt for the petty
vanity that makes men of letters run into print with their little
personal affairs, as if they were of moment to anybody but themselves,
are all very characteristic of Smith's philosophic temper of mind; and
there is also--what appears on other occasions as well as this in the
intercourse of the two philosophers--a certain note of affectionate
anxiety on the part of the younger and graver philosopher towards the
elder as towards a man of less weight of natural character and
experience, and perhaps less of the wisdom of this world, than

Smith seems to have shown Hume's letter to their common friends in
Paris, and while deeply interested, as was only natural, in the
quarrel, they with one consent took Hume's side, the only possible
view of the transaction. The subject continued to furnish matter of
conversation and conference among Hume's French literary friends
during the whole time of Smith's residence in Paris. Hume sent Smith
another letter a little later on in the month of July, which he asked
him specially to show to D'Alembert. This Smith did on the 21 st, when
he met D'Alembert at dinner at Mademoiselle de l'Espinasse's, in
company with Turgot, Marmontel, Roux, Morellet, Saurin, and Duclos;
and on the same evening D'Alembert wrote Hume that he had just had the
honour of seeing Mr. Smith, who had shown him the letter he had
received, and that they had talked much together about Hume and his
affairs. Apparently Smith's objections to Hume publishing anything on
the quarrel were now overcome; at all events, the result of this
consultation of Hume's French friends was to advise publication; and
accordingly a week or two later Hume sent on a complete narrative of
his relations with Rousseau, together with the whole correspondence
from first to last, to D'Alembert, with full permission to make any
use of it he thought best, and he wrote Smith at the same time asking
him to go and get a sight of it. "Pray tell me," he adds, "your
judgment of my work, if it deserves the name. Tell D'Alembert I make
him absolute master to retrench or alter what he thinks proper in
order to suit it to the latitude of Paris."[171]

On the 27th of July Turgot writes Hume, mentioning that he had that
day met Smith at Baron d'Holbach's, and they had discussed the
Rousseau affair together. Smith had told him of the letter from
Rousseau to General Conway, which he had been shown on the 25th by the
Comtesse de Boufflers, and had repeated to him the same interpretation
of that letter which he had already expressed to the Comtesse, viz.
that Rousseau had not made the secrecy a ground for refusing the
pension, but merely regretted that that condition made it impossible
for him adequately to show his gratitude. Smith was thus inclined to
give Rousseau the benefit of a better construction when a better
construction was possible, but Hume writes Turgot on the 5th of August
that Smith was quite wrong in that supposition.

One of those two letters of Smith's on the Rousseau affair mentions
the name of Madame Riccoboni among those of Hume's friends with whom
he had been in communication on the subject, and Madame Riccoboni
about the same date writes Garrick that Smith and Changuion, the
English ambassador's private secretary, were her two great confidants
on the business of this famous quarrel. Madame Riccoboni had been a
popular actress, but giving up the stage for letters, had become the
most popular novelist in France. Her _Letters of Fanny Butler_ and her
_History of Miss Jenny_ were dividing the attention of Paris with the
novels of our own Richardson; and Smith, in the 1790 edition of his
_Theory_, brackets her with Racine, Voltaire, and Richardson as
instructors in "the refinements and delicacies of love and
friendship." She was an effusive admirer of Smith, as, indeed, she was
of Changuion, and of that _bel Anglais_ Richard Burke, and of Garrick
himself;--"you are," she writes the player, "the dearling of my
heart";--and when Smith was returning home from France, she gave him
the following letter of introduction to Garrick:--

     Je suis bien vaine, my dear Mr. Garrick, de pouvoir vous
     donner ce que je perds avec un regret trés-vif, le plaisir
     de voir Mr. Smith. Ce charming philosopher vous dira combien
     il a d'esprit, car je le défie de parler sans en montrer. Je
     sui vraiment fâchée que la politesse m'oblige à lui donner
     ma lettre ouverte: cet usage établi retient mon coeur tout
     prêt à lui rendre justice, mais sa modestie est aussi grande
     que son mérite, et je craindrois que la plus simple vérité
     ne parût à ses yeux une grosse flaterie; je puis vous dire
     de lui, ce qu'il disoit un jour d'un autre--le métier de cet
     homme-là est d'être aimable. J'ajouterai,--et de mériter
     l'estime de tous ceux qui ont le bonheur de le connoitre.

     Oh ces Ecossois! ces chiens d'Ecossois! ils viennent me
     plaire et m'affliger. Je suis comme ces folles jeunes filles
     qui écoutent un amant sans penser an regret, toujours voisin
     du plaisir. Grondez-moi, battez-moi, tuez-moi! mais j'aime
     Mr. Smith, je l'aime beaucoup. Je voudrois que le diable
     emportât tous nos gens de lettres, tous nos philosophes, et
     qu'il me rapportât Mr. Smith. Les hommes supérieurs se
     cherchent. Rempli d'estime pour Mr. Garrick, désirant le
     voir et l'entretenir, Mr. Smith a voulu être introduit par
     moi. Il me flate infiniment par cette préférence, bien des
     gens se mélent de présenter un ami à un autre ami, peu sont
     comme moi dans le cas d'être sûre de la reconnoissance des
     tous deux. Adieu, mon très-aimable et très-paresseux ami.
     Embrassez pour moi vôtre gracieuse compagne. La mienne vous
     assure l'un et l'autre de sa plus tendre amitié.


Not content with this letter of recommendation which she gave to Smith
to deliver, Madame Riccoboni at the same time sent Garrick another
through the post, and shows the sincerity of the feelings of high
esteem she had expressed in the open letter by expressing them again
quite as decisively in the closed one:--

     _6 Octobre._

     Aujourd'huy je vous écris uniquement pour vous prévenir sur
     une visite que vous recevrez à Londres. Mr. Smith, un
     Ecossois, homme d'un très grand mérite, aussi distingué par
     son bon naturel, par la douceur de son caractère que par son
     esprit et son sçavoir, me demande une lettre pour vous. Vous
     verrez un philosophe moral et pratique; gay, riant, à cent
     lieues de la pédanterie des nôtres. Il vous estime beaucoup
     et désire vous connoître particulièrement. Donnez son nom à
     votre porte, je vous en prie, vous perdriez beaucoup à ne
     pas le voir, et je serois désolée de ne pas recevoir de lui
     un détail du bon accueil que vous lui aurez fait.... Donnez
     son nom à votre porte, je vous le répète. S'il ne vous voit
     pas, je vous étrangle.[173]

Smith had apparently begged of her also a letter of introduction to R.
Burke, and she wrote him one, but he went away without it; as she says
to Garrick, in a letter of 3rd January 1767: "Ma bête de philosophe
est partie sans songer à la prendre." Nor apparently had Smith as yet
delivered her letter to Garrick, for she asks, "Vous ne l'avez pas
encore vu Mr. Smith? c'est la plus distraite créature! mais c'est une
des plus aimables. Je l'aime beaucoup et je l'estime encore
d'avantage."[174] A few weeks later, on the 29th of January, she again
returns to the subject of Smith, asking Garrick whether he had yet
seen him, whether he was in London or had delivered her letter, and
adding, "C'est un homme charmant, n'est-il pas?"[175]

Madame Riccoboni was not the only Frenchwoman who was touched with
Smith's personal charms; we hear of another, a marquise, "a woman too
of talents and wit," who actually fell in love with him. It was during
an excursion Smith made from Paris to Abbeville, with the Duke of
Buccleugh and several other English noblemen and a certain Captain
Lloyd, a retired officer, who was afterwards a friend, perhaps a
patient, of Dr. Currie, the author of the _Life of Burns_, and told
the doctor this and many other anecdotes about the economist. Lloyd
was, according to Currie, a most interesting and accomplished man, and
his acquaintance with Smith was one of great intimacy. The party seem
to have stayed some days at Abbeville--to visit Crecy, no doubt, like
patriotic Englishmen, and this French marquise was stopping at the
same hotel. She had just come from Paris, where she found all the
world talking about Hume, and having heard that Smith was Hume's
particular friend and almost as great a philosopher as he, she was
bent on making so famous a conquest, but after many persistent efforts
was obliged eventually to abandon the attempt. Her philosopher could
not endure her, nor could he--and this greatly amused his own
party--conceal his embarrassment; but it was not philosophy altogether
that steeled his breast. The truth, according to Lloyd, was that the
philosopher was deeply in love with another, an English lady, who was
also stopping in Abbeville at the time. Of all Currie heard concerning
Smith from Captain Lloyd this is the only thing he has chosen to
record, and slight though it is, it contributes a touch of nature to
that more personal aspect of Smith's life of which we have least
knowledge. Stewart makes mention of an attachment which Smith was
known to have cherished for several years in the early part of his
life to a young lady of great beauty and accomplishment, whom Stewart
had himself seen when she was past eighty, but "still retained evident
traces of her former beauty," while "the powers of her understanding
and the gaiety of her temper seemed to have suffered nothing from the
hand of time." Nobody ever knew what prevented their union, or how far
Smith's addresses were favourably received, but she never married any
more than he. Stewart says that "after this disappointment he laid
aside all thoughts of marriage"; but the Abbeville attachment seems to
have been a different one from this and a later.

While in Paris Smith was a very steady playgoer. He was always a great
admirer of the French dramatists, and now enjoyed very much seeing
their plays actually represented on the stage, and discussing them
afterwards, we may be sure, with an expert like Madame Riccoboni.

Speaking of his admiration for the great French dramatists, Dugald
Stewart states that "this admiration (resulting originally from the
general character of his taste, which delighted more to remark that
pliancy of genius which accommodates itself to general rules than to
wonder at the bolder flights of an undisciplined imagination) was
increased to a great degree when he saw the beauties that had struck
him in the closet heightened by the utmost perfection of theatrical
exhibition."[176] The French theatre, indeed, gave him much material
for reflection. In his later years his thoughts and his conversation
often recurred to the philosophy of the imitative arts. He meant had
he lived to have written a book on the subject; he has actually left
us a single essay, one of the most finished pieces of work he ever
did; and among his friends he was very fond in those days of speaking
and theorising on that topic, and supporting his conclusions by
illustrations from his wide reading and his observation of life. These
illustrations seem to have been drawn frequently from his experiences
of the French theatre.

The Earl of Buchan says that Smith had no ear for music, but there are
few things he seems to have nevertheless enjoyed better than the
opera, both serious and comic. He thought the "sprightly airs" of the
comic opera, though a more "temperate joy" than "the scenes of the
common comedy," were still a "most delicious" one.'[177] "They do not
make us laugh so loud, but they make us smile more frequently." And he
held the strongest opinion that music was always on virtue's side, for
he says the only musical passions are the good ones, the bad and
unsocial passions being, in his view, essentially unmelodious. But he
thought scenery was much abused on the French operatic stage. "In the
French operas not only thunder and lightning, storms and tempests, are
commonly represented in the ridiculous manner above mentioned, but
all the marvellous, all the supernatural of epic poetry, all the
metamorphoses of mythology, all the wonders of witchcraft and magic,
everything that is most unfit to be represented upon the stage, are
every day exhibited with the most complete approbation and applause of
that ingenious nation."[178]

Amid all this gaiety of salons and playhouses Smith found a graver
retreat with the philanthropic sect of the economists in the
apartments of the king's physician, Dr. Quesnay, in Paris and
Versailles. Dupont de Nemours told J.B. Say that he had often met
Smith at their little meetings, and that they looked on him as a
judicious and simple man, and apparently nothing more, for, he adds,
Smith had not at that time shown the stuff he was made of.[179] If
they did not then recognise his paramount capacity as they afterwards
did, there were some things about his opinions which Dupont thought
they learnt better then than they could from the great work in which
he subsequently expounded them. In a note to one of Turgot's works, of
which he was editor, Dupont appeals from an opinion expressed, or
understood to be expressed, by Smith in his published writings, to the
opinion on the same subject which he used to hear from Smith's own
lips in the unreserved intercourse of private life. "Smith at
liberty," he says, "Smith in his own room or in that of a friend, as I
have seen him when we were fellow-disciples of M. Quesnay, would not
have said that."[180]

Though Smith met with them, and was indeed their very close scientific
as well as personal associate, it is of course impossible, strictly
speaking, to count him, as Dupont does, among the disciples of
Quesnay. He was no more a disciple of Quesnay than Peter was a
disciple of Paul, although, it is true, Paul wrote first. He neither
agreed with all the creed of the French economists, nor did he
acquire the articles he agreed with from the teaching of their master.
He had been for sixteen years before he met them teaching the two
principal truths which they set themselves to proclaim: (1) that the
wealth of a country does not consist in its gold and silver, but in
its stock of consumable commodities; and (2) that the true way of
increasing it is not by conferring privileges or imposing restraints,
but by assuring its producers a fair field and no favour. He had
taught those truths in 1750, and Quesnay had not written anything
bearing on them till 1756. Moreover, much in their system on which
they laid most stress he has publicly repudiated. Still he speaks both
of their system and of their master with a veneration which no
disciple could easily surpass. He pronounces the system to be, "with
all its imperfections, perhaps the nearest approximation to the truth
that has yet been published upon the subject of political economy,"
and the author of the system to be "ingenious and profound," "a man of
the greatest simplicity and modesty, who was honoured by his disciples
with a reverence not inferior to that of any of the ancient
philosophers for the founders of their respective systems."[181] He
might not, like the Marquis de Mirabeau, call Quesnay a greater than
Socrates, or the _Economic Table_ a discovery equal to the invention
of printing or of money, but he thought him so clearly the head of the
economic inquirers of the world that he meant to have dedicated the
_Wealth of Nations_ to Quesnay had the venerable French economist been
alive at the time of its publication. Smith was therefore a very
sympathetic associate of this new sect, though not a strict adherent.

It may be well to explain in a word to the general reader that this
sect were patriots and practical social and political reformers quite
as much as theoretical economists. They believed the condition of the
French people to have grown so bad as to be a grave danger to the
State, and they preached their system as a revelation of the only way
of salvation. They were too earnest for the Paris wits. Voltaire
always sneered at them till he came to know Turgot. Grimm calls them
"the pietists of philosophy," and Hume, bantering Morellet, wonders
how a man like Turgot could herd with such cattle, "the most
chimerical and the most arrogant that now exist since the annihilation
of the Sorbonne." But they were grappling with living problems, and
seeing into the real situation so much further than their
contemporaries, that an historian like de Tocqueville thinks the best
key to the Revolution is to be found in their writings. The malady of
the age, they held, was the ever-increasing distress of the
agricultural population. The great nobles, the financiers, the
farmers-general, the monopolists, were very rich; but the
agriculturists--the vast body of the people--were sinking into a
hopeless impoverishment, for between tithes and heavy war taxes and
farmer-generals' extortions, and the high rents which, to Turgot's
despair, the smaller peasantry would persist in offering without
reflecting in the least on the rise in their burdens,--between all
these things, the net product of agriculture--what was left in the
hands of the cultivator after all expenses were paid away--was getting
less and less every year, and the ruin of the peasantry meant the ruin
of the nation. "Poor peasants, poor kingdom," said they; "poor
kingdom, poor king."

And the remedy was plain: the net product of agriculture must somehow
be made to rise instead of fall. They supported their contention with
a certain erroneous theory that agriculture is the sole source of
wealth, but the error made little practical difference to the
argument, for agriculture is always a sufficiently important source of
wealth to make its improvement a national concern. How then was the
net product to be increased? By better methods of cultivation, by
removal of legal and official interferences, and by lightening the
public burdens through the abolition of all existing taxes and of the
existing system of collecting them through farmers-general, and the
institution instead of a single tax on the net product of the soil, to
be collected directly by responsible officials. According to the
reminiscences of strangers who happened to fall into their company,
the talk of the economists always ran much on the net product and the
single tax, for they believed the two great needs of the country were
agricultural improvement and financial reform. When Quesnay was
offered a farmer-generalship of the taxes for his son, he said, "No;
let the welfare of my children be bound up with the public
prosperity," and made his son a farmer of the land instead.

In Quesnay's rooms in the palace of Versailles Smith would sometimes
hear words that would sound very strange in the house of the king.
Mercier de la Rivière, Quesnay's favourite disciple, while writing his
book on the _Natural and Essential Order of Political Societies_,
published in 1767, almost lived in Quesnay's apartments, discussing
the work point by point with the master. The Marquis de Mirabeau
mentions having seen him there six whole weeks running, "moulding and
remoulding his work, and consequently denying father and mother" for
the time. One day Madame du Hausset heard a memorable conversation
there between these two economists. "This kingdom," observed Mirabeau,
"is in a miserable state. There is neither energy in the nation nor
money to serve in its place." "No," replied Mercier de la Rivière,
counsellor of the Parliament of Paris and late Governor of Martinico,
"it cannot be regenerated except by a conquest like that of China, or
by a great internal convulsion; but woe to those who will be there
then, for the French people does nothing by halves." The words made
the little lady-in-waiting tremble, and she hurried out of the room;
but M. de Marigny, brother of the king's mistress, who was also
present, followed her, and bade her have no fear, for these were
honest men, if a little chimerical, and they were even, he thought,
on the right road, though they knew not when to stop and went past the

The doctor's room was a little sanctuary of free speech pitched by an
odd chance in the heart of a despotic court, but his loyalty was known
to be as sterling as his patriotism, and Louis himself would come
round and listen to his economic parables, and call him the king's
thinker?-as indeed he was, for he was no believer in states-general or
states-particular, he had no interest in court or party intrigues, and
his thought was always for the power of the king as well as for the
welfare of the people. Marmontel, who used to come to him feigning an
interest in the net product and the single tax, merely, as he
confesses, to secure the doctor's word with Madame de Pompadour about
an appointment he wanted, writes that "while storms gathered and
dispersed again underneath Quesnay's _entre-sol_, he wrought at his
axioms and his calculations in rural economy as calmly and with as
much indifference to the movements of the court as if he were a
hundred leagues away. Below they discussed peace and war, the choice
of generals, the dismissal of ministers, while we up in the entre-sol
reasoned about agriculture and calculated the net product, or
sometimes dined gaily with Diderot, D'Alembert, Duclos, Helvetius,
Turgot, Buffon; and Madame de Pompadour, not being able to get that
company of philosophers to descend into her salon, used to come up
there herself to see them at table, and have a talk with them."[183]
None of the famous men mentioned here were members of the sect except

The year 1766 was a year of exceptional activity in this economist
camp. Turgot, as we have seen, was writing an important work, and
Mercier de la Rivière another. The other members of the group were
busy too, for they had just for the first time secured an organ in the
press in the _Journal de l'Agriculture du Commerce et des Finances_,
of which their youngest convert, Dupont de Nemours, was made editor
in June 1765, and in which Quesnay himself wrote an article almost
every month till Dupont's dismissal in November 1766. The Government,
moreover, which had thrown Mirabeau into prison for his first book and
had suppressed his second only a year or two before, now ceased from
troubling, and gave even a certain official countenance to the
_Journal de l'Agriculture_, for after the war it no longer shut its
eyes to the distress that prevailed, and began to give an ear to
remedies. They were making converts too, among others the Abbé
Baudeau, who used to write them down in his journal, the _Éphémérides
du Citoyen_, but now offered to make it their organ when they lost the
_Journal de l'Agriculture_. They were thus in the first flush of their
active propaganda, which in a year or two more made political economy,
Grimm says, the _science de la mode_ in France, and won converts to
the single tax among the crowned heads of Europe. Quesnay too had
taken apartments in town in the house of a disciple to be nearer his
friends for pushing the propaganda, so that Smith had especially
abundant opportunities of seeing him and them that year.

No memorial of all their intercourse, however, has survived except the
slight and rather indefinite reminiscence of Dupont de Nemours, to
which allusion has been made. Dupont remembers that Smith used to
discuss with them a question, which they no doubt would be often
discussing, for they were greatly interested in it,--the question of
the effect upon the wages of labour of a tax upon the commodities
consumed by the labourers; and he says that Smith, in the freedom of
private intercourse with them, expressed quite a different opinion
upon that subject from that which he delivered in the _Wealth of
Nations_, with the fear of vested interests before his eyes. Dupont
could not have read the _Wealth of Nations_ very carefully when he
hinted this accusation of timidity before vested interests, for there
was scarcely a vested interest existing at the time that has not
incurred in its turn most vigorous censure in that work. But as the
alleged difference amounts merely to this, that Smith in his book
asserts a principle with a certain specific limitation to it which he
used to assert in conversation without the limitation, it probably
represents no real change of opinion, but only a difference between
the more exact expositions of the book and the less exact expositions
of conversation. The point was this. Smith held, with Dupont and his
friends, that a direct tax on the wages of labour, like the French
industrial _taille_, would, if the demand for labour and the price of
provisions remained the same, have the effect of raising the wages of
labour by the sum required to pay the tax. He held, again, with them
that an indirect tax on the commodities consumed by the labourers
would act in exactly the same way if the commodities taxed were
necessaries of life, because a rise in the price of necessaries would
imperil the labourer's ability to bring up his family. But what seemed
new to Dupont was that Smith now in his book held that if the
commodities taxed were luxuries, the tax would not act in that way. It
would act as a sumptuary law. The labourer would merely spend less on
such superfluities, and since this forced frugality would probably
increase rather than diminish his ability to bring up a family, he
would neither require nor obtain any rise of wages. The high tobacco
duty in France and England and a recent rise of three shillings on the
barrel of beer had no effect whatever on wages.

That is what Dupont says Smith would not have contended in France. He
would not have drawn this distinction between the taxation of a
necessary and the taxation of a luxury, and he only drew it in his
book to avert the clamour of offended interests, though against his
real convictions. The imputation of dissimulation, though explicitly
enough made, may be disregarded. The alternative of a real change of
opinion is quite possible, inasmuch as the position Smith has actually
reached on this question in his book is far from final or perfect; it
is obvious at a glance that in a community such as he supposes, where
the labourers are in the habit of consuming both necessaries and
luxuries, a tax on necessaries would have exactly the same effect as
he attributes to a tax on luxuries; it would force the labourer to
give up some of his luxuries. But there might be no real change of
opinion, and yet a good deal of apparent difference between the loose
statements of a speaker in a language of which he had only imperfect
command and his more complete and precise statements in a written
book. Dupont, it may be added, seems to think that Smith in his talks
with the French economists expressed much more unfavourable views of
the inconveniences, changes, and general evils of the English system
of taxation than would be gathered from the _Wealth of Nations_.

Before Smith left France he had occasion, unhappily, to resort to
Quesnay the physician as well as to Quesnay the economist. He had been
in the habit while in Paris of taking his pupils for excursions to
interesting places in the vicinity, as he had done from Toulouse, and
in August 1766 they went to Compiègne to see the camp and the military
evolutions which were to take place during the residence of the Court
there. In Compiègne the Duke of Buccleugh took seriously ill of a
fever,--the consequence of a fall from his horse while hunting, says
his aunt, Lady Mary Coke,--and, as will be seen from the following
letter, he was watched and nursed by his distinguished tutor with a
care and devotion almost more than paternal. The letter is written to
Charles Townshend, the Duke's step-father:--

     COMPIÈGNE, _26th August 1766_.

     DEAR SIR--It is, you may believe, with the greatest concern
     that I find myself obliged to give you an account of a
     slight fever from which the Duke of Buccleugh is not yet
     entirely recovered, though it is this day very much abated.
     He came here to see the camp and to hunt with the King and
     the Court. On Thursday last he returned from hunting about
     seven at night very hungry, and ate heartily of a cold
     supper with a vast quantity of sallad, and drank some cold
     punch after it. This supper, it seems, disagreed with him.
     He had no appetite next day, but appeared well and hearty as
     usual. He found himself uneasy on the field and returned
     home before the rest of the company. He dined with my Lord
     George Lennox, and, as he tells me, ate heartily. He found
     himself very much fatigued after dinner and threw himself
     upon his servant's bed. He slept there about an hour, and
     awaked about eight at night in a good deal of disorder. He
     vomited, but not enough to relieve him. I found his pulse
     extremely quick. He went to bed immediately and drank some
     vinegar whey, quite confident that a night's rest and a
     sweat, his usual remedy, would relieve him. He slept little
     that night but sweat profusely. The moment I saw him next
     day (Sunday) I was sure he had a fever, and begged of him to
     send for a physician. He refused a long time, but at last,
     upon seeing me uneasy, consented. I sent for Quenay, first
     ordinary physician to the King. He sent me word he was ill.
     I then sent for Senac; he was ill likewise. I went to Quenay
     myself to beg that, notwithstanding his illness, which was
     not dangerous, he would come to see the Duke. He told me he
     was an old infirm man, whose attendance could not be
     depended on, and advised me as his friend to depend upon De
     la Saone, first physician to the Queen. I went to De la
     Saone. He was gone out, and was not expected home that
     night. I returned to Quenay, who followed me immediately to
     the Duke. It was by this time seven at night. The Duke was
     in the same profuse sweat which he had been in all day and
     all the preceding night. In this situation Quenay declared
     that it was improper to do anything till the sweat should be
     over. He only ordered him some cooling ptisane drink.
     Ouenay's illness made it impossible for him to return next
     day (Monday) and De la Saone has waited on the Duke ever
     since, to my entire satisfaction. On Monday he found the
     Duke's fever so moderate that he judged it unnecessary to
     bleed him.... To-day, Wednesday, upon finding some little
     extraordinary heat upon the Duke's skin in the morning, he
     proposed ordering a small quantity of blood to be taken from
     him at two o'clock, but upon returning at that hour he found
     him so very cool and easy that he judged it unnecessary.
     When a French physician judges bleeding unnecessary, you may
     be sure that the fever is not very violent. The Duke has
     never had the smallest headache nor any pain in any part of
     his body; he has good spirits; his head and his eye are
     both clear; he has no extraordinary redness in his face; his
     tongue is not more foul than in a common cold. There is some
     little quickness in his pulse, but it is soft, full, and
     regular. In short, there is no one bad symptom about him,
     only he has a fever and keeps his bed.... De la Saone
     imagines the whole illness owing to the indigestion of
     Thursday night. Some part of the undigested matter having
     got into his blood, the violent commotion which this had
     occasioned had burst, he supposes, some small vessel in his
     veins.... Depend upon hearing from me by every post till his
     perfect recovery; if any threatening symptom should appear I
     shall immediately despatch an express to you; so keep your
     mind as easy as possible. There is not the least probability
     that any such symptom ever will appear. I never stirr from
     his room from eight in the morning till ten at night, and
     watch for the smallest change that happens to him. I should
     sit by him all night too if the ridiculous, impertinent
     jealousy of Cook, who thinks my assiduity an encroachment
     upon his duty, would not be so much alarmed, as it gave some
     disturbance even to his master in his present illness.

     The King has inquired almost every day at his levée of my
     Lord George and of Mr. De la Saone concerning the Duke's
     illness. The Duke and Dutchess of Fitzjames, the Chevalier
     de Clermont, the Comte de Guerchy, etc. etc., together with
     the whole English nation here and at Paris, have expressed
     the greatest anxiety for his recovery. Remember me in the
     most respectful manner to Lady Dalkeith, and believe me to
     be with the greatest regard, dear sir, your most obliged and
     most humble servant,


     COMPIÈGNE, _26th August 1766_.

     Wednesday, 5 o'clock afternoon.[184]

Could there be a more pleasing exhibition of the thorough kindness of
a manly heart than this picture of the great philosopher sitting day
after day by the bedside of his pupil, watching eagerly every
indication of change, and only consenting to leave the room for a time
at night out of consideration for the silly jealousy of the valet, who
thought the tutor's presence an invasion of his own rights?

The Duke recovered and they returned to Paris. But while still at
Compiègne they heard of a sad event that could not fail to shock them
greatly, the death of their greatly esteemed young friend and
fellow-traveller, Sir James Macdonald. "Were you and I together, dear
Smith," writes Hume at this time, "we should shed tears at present for
the death of poor Sir James Macdonald. We could not possibly have
suffered a greater loss than in that valuable young man."[185]

In this letter Hume had dropped a remark showing that he was still
clinging to the idea which he had repeatedly mentioned to Smith of
returning and making his home for the remainder of his days somewhere
in France--in Paris, or "Toulouse, or Montauban, or some provincial
town in the South of France, where"--to quote his words to Sir G.
Elliot--"I shall spend contentedly the rest of my life with more
money, under a finer sky and in better company than I was born to
enjoy." Of this idea Smith strongly disapproved. He thought that Hume
would find himself too old to transplant, and that he was being
carried away by the great kindness and flatteries he had received in
Paris into entertaining a plan which could never promote his
happiness, because, in the first place, it would probably prove fatal
to work, and in the next, it would certainly deprive him of the
support of those old and rooted friendships which could not be
replaced by the incense of an hour. For his own part, and with a view
to his own future, Smith was of an entirely opposite mind. The
contrast between the two friends in natural character stands out very
strongly here. Smith had enjoyed his stay in France almost as much as
Hume, and had been welcomed everywhere by the best men and women in
the country with high respect, but now that the term of his tutorship
is approaching its end, he longs passionately for home, feels that he
has had his fill of travel, and says if he once gets among his old
friends again, he will never wander more. This appears from a letter
he wrote Millar, the bookseller, probably after his return from
Compiègne, of which Millar sent the following extract to Hume:
"Though I am very happy here, I long passionately to rejoin my old
friends, and if I had once got fairly to your side of the water, I
think I should never cross it again. Recommend the same sober way of
thinking to Hume. He is light-headed, tell him, when he talks of
coming to spend the remainder of his days here or in France. Remember
me to him most affectionately."[186]

His return, for which he was then looking with so much desire, came
sooner than he anticipated, and came, unfortunately, with a cloud. His
younger pupil, the Hon. Hew Campbell Scott, was assassinated in the
streets of Paris, on the 18th of October 1766, in his nineteenth
year;[187] and immediately thereafter they set out for London,
bringing the remains of Mr. Scott along with them, and accompanied by
Lord George Lennox, Hume's successor as Secretary of Legation. The
London papers announce their arrival at Dover on the 1st of November.
The tutorship, which ended with this melancholy event, was always
remembered with great satisfaction and gratitude by the surviving
pupil. "In October 1766," writes the Duke of Buccleugh to Dugald
Stewart, "we returned to London, after having spent near three years
together without the slightest disagreement or coolness, and, on my
part, with every advantage that could be expected from the society of
such a man. We continued to live in friendship till the hour of his
death, and I shall always remain with the impression of having lost a
friend whom I loved and respected, not only for his great talents, but
for every private virtue."

Smith's choice for this post of travelling tutor was thought in many
quarters at the time to be a very strange choice. Shrewd old Dr.
Carlyle thought it so strange that he professes to be quite unable as
a man of the world to understand Charles Townshend making it, except
"for his own glory of having sent an eminent Scotch philosopher to
travel with the Duke."[188] He thought Smith had too much "probity and
benevolence" in his own soul to suspect ill in another or check it,
and that a man who seemed too absent to make his own way about could
hardly be expected to look efficiently after the goings of another.
"He was," says Carlyle, "the most absent man in company I ever knew,"
and "he appeared very unfit for the intercourse of the world as a
travelling tutor."[189]

Still Townshend's choice was thoroughly justified by the result, and
Carlyle admits it, but thinks that was due less to the efficiency of
the tutor than to the natural excellence of the pupil. And there is no
doubt that Smith was exceptionally fortunate in his pupil. In his
after life this Duke Henry took little part in politics, but he made
himself singularly beloved among his countrymen by a long career
filled with works of beneficence and patriotism, and brightened by
that love of science which has for generations distinguished the house
of Buccleuch. It may be true that with such a pupil Smith's natural
defects would find little opportunity of causing trouble, but it seems
certain, as I have before said, that these defects were habitually
exaggerated by Smith's contemporaries, and Carlyle himself
acknowledges that Smith's travels with the Duke cured him considerably
of his fits of abstraction. This is confirmed by Ramsay of Ochtertyre,
who says that Smith grew smarter during his stay abroad, and lost much
of the awkwardness of manner he previously exhibited.

Stewart is disposed to think, however, that the public have not the
same reason to be satisfied with Smith's acceptance of this tutorship
as either he himself or his pupil had, and that the world at large has
been seriously the loser for it, because "it interrupted that studious
leisure for which nature seemed to have designed him, and in which
alone he could have hoped to accomplish those literary projects which
had flattered the ambition of his youthful genius." Now it is, of
course, idle to speculate on the things that might have been. Kant was
never forty miles from Konigsberg, and had Smith remained in Glasgow
all his days there is no reason to doubt he could have produced works
of lasting importance. But it is a truism to say that the works would
have been other and different from what we have. To a political
philosopher foreign travel is an immense advantage, and there never
was a country where graver or more interesting problems, both economic
and constitutional, offered themselves for study than France in the
latter half of last century, nor any political philosopher who enjoyed
better opportunities than Smith of discussing such problems with the
ablest and best-informed minds on the spot. Smith's residence in
France, whatever it was to his pupil, must have been an invaluable
education to himself, supplying him day after day with constant
materials for fresh comparison and thought. Samuel Rogers was greatly
struck with the difference between Smith and the historian Robertson.
The conversation of Robertson, who, as we know, had never been out of
his own country, was much more limited in its range of interest, but
Smith's was the rich conversation of a man who had seen and known a
great deal of the world. It does not appear that Smith suffered in
France from any such want of literary leisure as Stewart speaks of,
for he began writing a book in Toulouse because he had so little else
to do, and he had not attempted anything of the kind in Glasgow, so
far as we know, for five years; but, at all events, for the wealth of
illustration which his new book exhibits, the variety of its points of
view, the copiousness of its data drawn from personal observation, the
world is greatly indebted to the author's residence abroad. And had
Smith lived to finish his work on Government we should probably have
had more results of his observation of France, but the _Wealth of
Nations_ itself contains many.

M'Culloch has expressed astonishment that for all his long stay in
France Smith should have never perceived any foreshadowings of the
coming Revolution, such as were visible even to a passing traveller
like Smollett. But Smith was quite aware of all the gravities and
possibilities of the situation, and occasionally gave expression to
anticipations of vital change. He formed possibly a less gloomy view
of the actual condition of the French people than he would have heard
uttered in Quesnay's room at Versailles, because he always mentally
compared the state of things he saw in France with the state of things
he knew in Scotland, and though it was plain to him that France was
not going forward so fast as Scotland, he thought the common opinion
that it was going backward to be ill founded.[190] Then France was a
much richer country, with a better soil and climate, and "better
stocked," he says, "with all those things which it requires a long
time to raise up and accumulate, such as great towns and convenient
and well-built houses both in town and country."[191] In spite of
these advantages, however, the common people in France were decidedly
worse off than the common people of Scotland. The wages of labour were
lower--the real wages--for the people evidently lived harder. Their
dress and countenance showed it at once. "When you go from Scotland to
England the difference which you may remark between the dress and
countenance of the common people in the one country and in the other
sufficiently indicates the difference in their condition. The contrast
is still greater when you return from France." In England nobody was
too poor to wear leather shoes; in Scotland even the lowest orders of
men wore them, though the same orders of women still went about
barefooted. But "in France they are necessaries neither to men nor to
women; the lowest rank of both sexes appearing there publicly,
without any discredit, sometimes in wooden shoes and sometimes
barefooted."[192] Another little circumstance struck him as a proof
that the classes immediately above the rank of labourer were worse off
in France than they were here. The taste for dressing yew-trees into
the shape of pyramids and obelisks by "that very clumsy instrument of
sculpture" the gardener's shears had gone out of fashion in this
country, merely because it got too common, and was discarded by the
rich and vain. The multitude of persons able to indulge the taste was
sufficiently great to drive the custom out of fashion. In France, on
the other hand, he found this custom still in good repute,
"notwithstanding," he adds, "that inconstancy of fashion with which we
sometimes reproach the natives of that country." The reason was that
the number of people in that country able to indulge this taste was
too few to deprive the custom of the requisite degree of rarity. "In
France the condition of the inferior ranks of people is seldom so
happy as it frequently is in England, and you will there seldom find
even pyramids and obelisks of yew in the garden of a tallow-chandler.
Such ornaments, not having in that country been degraded by their
vulgarity, have not yet been excluded from the gardens of princes and
great lords."[193]

He discusses one great cause of the poorer condition of the French
than of the English people. It was generally acknowledged, he says,
that "the people of France was much more oppressed by taxation than
the people of Great Britain"; and the oppression he found, by personal
investigation, to be all due to bad taxes and bad methods of
collecting them. The sum that reached the public treasury represented
a much smaller burden per head of population than it did in this
country. Smith calculated the public revenue of Great Britain to
represent an assessment of about 25s. a head of population, and in
1765 and 1766, the years he was in France, according to the best,
though, he admits, imperfect, accounts he could get of the matter, the
whole sum passed into the French treasury would only represent an
assessment of 12s. 6d. per head of the French population.[194]
Taxation ought thus to be really lighter in France than in Great
Britain, but it was made into a scourge by vicious modes of assessment
and collection. Smith even suggested for France various moderate
financial reforms, repealing some taxes, increasing others, making a
third class uniform over the kingdom, and abolishing the farming
system; but though these reforms would be sufficient to restore
prosperity to a country with the resources of France, he had no hope
of it being possible to carry them against the active opposition of
individuals interested in maintaining things as they were.

Smith was thus perfectly alive to the prevailing poverty and distress
of the French population, to the oppression they suffered, to the
extreme difficulty, the hopelessness even, of any improvement of their
situation while the existing distribution of political forces
continued, and was able to defeat all efforts at reform. Now from all
this it was not very far to the idea of a political upheaval and a new
distribution of political forces, and Smith saw tendencies abroad in
that direction also. He told Professor Saint Fond in 1782 that the
"Social Compact" would one day avenge Rousseau for all the
persecutions he had suffered from the powers that were.


[159] _Hume MSS._, R.S.E. Partially published in Burton's _Life_.

[160] _Correspondance Littéraire_, I. iv. 291.

[161] _Burton's Letters of Eminent Persons to David Hume_, p. 238.

[162] Lady Minto, _Memoirs of Hugh Elliot_, p. 13.

[163] Morellet's _Mémoires_, i. 237.

[164] Schelle, _Dupont de Nemours et les Physiocrates_, p. 159.

[165] _i.e._ the Royal Society of Edinburgh, to whom Stewart first
read his _Life of Smith_.

[166] Stewart's _Works_, v. 47.

[167] Clayden's _Early Life of Samuel Rogers_, p. 95.

[168] _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, Part VI. sec. ii.

[169] Mackintosh, _Miscellaneous Works_, iii. 13.

[170] Brougham's Men of Letters, ii. 226.

[171] Burton's Hume, ii. 348.

[172] Garrick Correspondence, ii. 550.

[173] Garrick Correspondence, ii. 549.

[174] Ibid. ii. 501.

[175] Ibid. ii. 511.

[176] Stewart's _Works,_ x. 49, 50.

[177] "Essay on the Imitative Arts," _Works_, v. 281.

[178] _Works_, v. 294.

[179] Say, _Cours Complet, OEuvres_, p. 870.

[180] Turgot's _OEuvres_, v. 136.

[181] _Wealth of Nations_, Book IV. chap. ix.

[182] Memoirs of Madame du Hausset, p. 141.

[183] Marmontel's Memoirs, English Translation, ii. 37.

[184] Fraser's _Scotts of Buccleuch_, ii. 405.

[185] Burton's _Life of Hume_, ii. 348.

[186] Hill's _Letters of Hume_, p. 59. Original in R.S.E.

[187] _New Statistical Account of Scotland_, i. 490. (Account of
Dalkeith by the late Dr. Norman Macleod, then minister of that parish,
and Mr. Peter Steel, Rector of Dalkeith Grammar School.)

[188] _Autobiography_, p. 280.

[189] _Ibid._

[190] _Wealth of Nations_, Book I. chap. ix.

[191] _Ibid._, Book V. chap. ii. art. iii.

[192] _Wealth of Nations_, Book V. chap. ii. art. iv.

[193] "Essay on the Imitative Arts," _Works_, v. 260.

[194] _Wealth of Nations_, Book V. chap. ii. art. iv.



1766-1767. _Aet._ 43

Arriving in London early in November, Smith seems to have remained on
in the capital for the next six months. The body of his unfortunate
pupil, which he brought over with him, was ultimately buried in the
family vault at Dalkeith, for Dr. Norman Macleod and Mr. Steel say so;
but the interment there does not seem to have taken place immediately
after the arrival from France, for the London journals, which announce
the Duke of Buccleugh's landing at Dover on the 1st of November,
mention his presence at the Guildhall with his stepfather, Mr.
Townshend, Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the 10th, Lord Mayor's Day;
and the Duke, who is stated by Dr. Macleod to have brought his
brother's remains north, could not have been to Scotland and back in
that interval. Smith was accordingly not required to proceed to
Scotland on that sad duty, and on the 22nd of November Andrew Millar,
the publisher, writing to David Hume in Edinburgh, mentions the fact
that Smith was then in London and moving about among the great. This
letter was written about a question on which Hume had sought Smith's
counsel, and on which Millar had held some conversation with Smith,
the upshot of which he now communicates to Hume--the question whether
he should continue his _History of England_. While Smith was still in
Paris Hume had written saying: "Some push me to continue my _History_.
Millar offers any price. All the Marlborough papers are offered me,
and I believe nobody would venture to refuse me, but _cui bono?_ Why
should I forego dalliance and sauntering and society, and expose
myself again to the clamours of a stupid factious public? I am not yet
tired of doing nothing, and am become too wise either to want censure
or praise. By and by I shall be too old to undergo so much

Smith does not appear to have answered this letter at the time, but
his opinion is communicated to Hume in this letter from Millar, who no
doubt had a conversation with him on the subject. Millar says: "He is
of opinion, with many more of your very good sensible friends, that
the history of this country from the Revolution is not to be met with
in books yet printed, but from MSS. in this country, to which he is
sure you will have ready access, from all accounts he learns from the
great here; and therefore you should lay the groundwork here after
your perusal of the MSS. you may have access to, and doing it below
will be laying the wrong foundation. I think it my duty to inform you
the opinion of your most judicious friends, and I think he and Sir
John Pringle may be reckoned amongst that number."[196]

Smith was himself publishing with Millar at this time a new edition of
his _Theory of Moral Sentiments_--the third, which appeared in 1767,
containing, like the second, the addition of the _Dissertation upon
the Origin of Languages_. One of his reasons for staying so long in
London this winter was no doubt to see the sheets through the press.
The book was printed by Strahan, who was also a partner in Millar's
publishing business; and there is a letter to him from Smith which,
though bearing no date but Friday and no place of writing at all, must
have been written, as indeed those two very circumstances indicate, in
London, and some time during the winter of 1766-67.

     MY DEAR STRAHAN--I go to the country for a few days this
     afternoon, so that it will be unnecessary to send me any
     more sheets till I return. The _Dissertation upon the Origin
     of Languages_ is to be printed at the end of the _Theory_.
     There are some literal errors in the printed copy of it
     which I should have been glad to have corrected, but have
     not the opportunity, as I have no copy by me. They are of no
     great consequence. In the titles, both of the _Theory_ and
     _Dissertation_, call me simply Adam Smith without any
     addition either before or behind.--I ever am, etc.,



When the _Wealth of Nations_ came out in 1776 the author described
himself on the title-page as LL.D. and F.R.S., late Professor of Moral
Philosophy in Glasgow University, but he wants here on the _Theory_
nothing but plain Adam Smith, his mind being at this period apparently
averse to making use of his degree even on public and formal
occasions, as it always was to using it in private life. He described
himself on his visiting cards as "Mr. Adam Smith," he was known in the
inner circle of his personal friends as Mr. Smith, and when Dugald
Stewart was found fault with by certain critics for speaking of him so
in his memoirs, he replied that he never heard Smith called anything

But while Smith was superintending the republication of his first
book, he was at the same time using his opportunities in London to
read up at the British Museum, then newly established, or elsewhere,
for his second and greater, of which he had laid the keel in France.
One of the subjects which he was engaged in studying at that time was
colonial administration. He seems to have been discussing the subject
with Lord Shelburne, who was now Secretary of State, and he gives that
statesman the results of his further investigations into at least one
branch of the subject in the following letter, written in the first
instance, like so many others of Smith's extant letters, to do a
service to a friend. He wished to interest Lord Shelburne in the
claims of a Scotch friend, Alexander Dalrymple, for the command of the
exploring expedition which it was then in contemplation to send to the
South Sea, and which was eventually committed to Captain Wallis. This
Alexander Dalrymple was afterwards the well-known Hydrographer to the
Admiralty and the East India Company, to whom the progress of
geographical knowledge lies under deep obligations. He was one of the
numerous younger brothers of Lord Hailes, the Scotch judge and
historian, and having returned in 1765 from thirteen years' work in
the East India Company's service, had devoted himself since then to
the study of discoveries in the South Sea, and arrived at a confident
belief in the existence of a great undiscovered continent in that
quarter. Lord Shelburne would have given him the command of this
expedition had not Captain Wallis been already engaged, and next year
he was actually offered, and had he been granted naval rank, which he
thought essential for maintaining discipline on board ship, he would
have undertaken command of the more memorable expedition to observe
the transit of Venus, which made Captain Cook the most famous explorer
of his age.

The following is Smith's letter:--

     MY LORD--I send you enclosed Quiros's memorial, presented to
     Philip the Second after his return from his voyage,
     translated from the Spanish in which it is published in
     Purchass. The voyage itself is long, obscure, and difficult
     to be understood, except by those who are particularly
     acquainted with the geography and navigation of those
     countries, and upon looking over a great number of
     Dalrymple's papers I imagined this was what you would like
     best to see. He is besides just finishing a geographical
     account of all the discoveries that have yet been made in
     the South Seas from the west coast of America to Tasman's
     discoveries. If your lordship will give him leave, he would
     be glad to read this to you himself, and show you on his map
     the geographical ascertainment of the situation of each
     island. I have seen it; it is extremely short; not much
     longer than this memorial of Quiros. Whether this may be
     convenient for your lordship I know not; whether this
     continent exists or not may perhaps be uncertain; but
     supposing it does exist, I am very certain you never will
     find a man fitter for discovering it, or more determined to
     hazard everything in order to discover it. The terms that he
     would ask are, first, the absolute command of the ship, with
     the naming of all the officers, in order that he may have
     people who both have confidence in him and in whom he has
     confidence; and secondly, that in case he should lose his
     ship by the common course of accidents before he gets into
     the South Sea, that the Government will undertake to give
     him another. These are all the terms he would insist upon.
     The ship properest for such an expedition, he says, would be
     an old fifty-gun ship without her guns. He does not,
     however, insist upon this, as a _sine quâ non_, but will go
     in any ship from an hundred to a thousand tons. He wishes to
     have but one ship with a good many boats. Most expeditions
     of this kind have miscarried from one ship's being obliged
     to wait for the other, or losing time in looking out for the

     Within these two days I have looked over everything I can
     find relating to the Roman Colonys. I have not yet found
     anything of much consequence. They were governed upon the
     model of the Republic: had two consuls called _duumviri_; a
     senate called _decuriones_ or _collegium decurionum_, and
     other magistrates similar to those of the Republic. The
     colonists lost their right of voting or of being elected to
     any magistracy in the Roman comitia. In this respect they
     were inferior to many municipia. They retained, however, all
     the other privileges of Roman citizens. They seem to have
     been very independent. Of thirty colonies of whom the Romans
     demanded troops in the second Carthaginian war, twelve
     refused to obey. They frequently rebelled and joined the
     enemies of the Republic; being in some measure little
     independent republics, they naturally followed the interests
     which their peculiar situation pointed out to them.--I have
     the honour to be, with the highest regard, my lord, your
     lordship's most obedient humble servant,


     Tuesday, _12th February 1767_.[198]

The problem of colonial rights and responsibilities had just come
rapidly to the forefront of public questions in England. The
abandonment of North America by the French in 1763 had given a new
importance to the plantations, and seemed to develop at the same time
a stronger disposition to assert colonial rights on the one side of
the Atlantic, and to interfere with them on the other. The Stamp Act
of 1765 had already begun the struggle against imperial taxation which
Charles Townshend's tea duty, imposed a few months after this letter
was written, was to precipitate into rebellion. There was therefore
very good reason why statesmen like Lord Shelburne should be studying
the relations of dependencies to mother countries, and turning their
attention to earlier colonial experiments such as those of ancient
Rome. It will be observed that Smith came in the _Wealth of Nations_
to modify somewhat the view he expresses in this letter of the
independence of the Roman colonies, and explains that the reason they
were less prosperous than the Greek colonies was because they were
not, like the latter, independent, and were "not always at liberty to
manage their own affairs in the way that they judged most suitable to
their own interest."[199]

Smith's absent-minded habit, while it seems from various accounts to
have been lessened by his travels abroad, was not entirely removed by
them, for on the 11th of February 1767 Lady Mary Coke writes her
sister that Lady George Lennox and Sir Gilbert Elliot had happened to
meet while visiting her, and had talked of "Mr. Smith, the gentleman
that went abroad with the Duke of Buccleugh," saying many things in
his praise, but adding that he was the most absent man they ever knew.
Sir Gilbert mentioned that Mr. Damer (probably Mr. John Damer, Lord
Milton's son) had paid Smith a visit a few mornings before as he was
sitting down to breakfast, and falling into discourse Smith took a
piece of bread and butter, and after rolling it round and round put it
into the teapot and poured the water upon it. Shortly after he poured
out a cup, and on tasting it declared it was the worst tea he had
ever met with. "I have not the least doubt of it," said Mr. Damer,
"for you have made it of bread and butter instead of tea."[200]

The Duke of Buccleugh was married in London on the 3rd of May 1767 to
Lady Betsy, only daughter of the Duke of Montagu, and Smith probably
returned to Scotland immediately after that event. For in writing Hume
from Kirkcaldy on the 9th of June 1767, he mentions having now been
settled down to his work for about a month. Another circumstance
confirms this inference. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society
of London on the 21st of May 1767, but was not admitted till the 27th
of May 1773, and that seems to imply that he had left London before
the former date, and never returned to it again till shortly before
the latter one.


[195] Burton's _Life of Hume_, ii. 392.

[196] Ibid.

[197] _New York Evening Post._ Original in possession of Mr. David A.
Wells of Norwich, U.S.A.

[198] Lansdowne MSS.

[199] _Wealth of Nations_, Book IV. chap. vii.

[200] Lady Mary Coke's _Journal_, i. 141.



1767-1773. _Aet._ 44-50

When Smith left Glasgow his mother and cousin went back again to
Kirkcaldy, and he now joined them and remained with them there for the
next eleven years. Hume, who thought the country an unsuitable place
for a man of letters, used every endeavour to persuade him to remove
to Edinburgh, but without success. The gaiety and fulness of city life
were evidently much less to him than they were to Hume, and he must
have found what sufficed him in the little town of his birth. He had
his work, he had his mother, he had his books, he had his daily walks
in the sea breeze, and he had Edinburgh always in the offing as a
place of occasional resort. He is said to have taken much real
pleasure, like Shakespeare at Stratford, in mingling again with the
simple old folk who were about him in his youth, and he had a few
neighbours whose pursuits corresponded more nearly with his own. James
Oswald, indeed, was now struck down with illness--"terrible distress"
is Smith's expression--and he died in the second year after Smith's
return to Scotland. Oswald spent some months in Kirkcaldy, however, in
the fall of 1767, and probably again in 1768. One of Smith's other
literary neighbours, whom he saw much of during this eleven years'
residence in Fife, was Robert Beatson, author of the _Political Index_
and other works, to whom there will be occasion to refer again later
on. His chief resource, however, throughout this period was his work,
which engaged his mind late and early till it told hard, as we shall
presently see, on his health.

After being established in Kirkcaldy for some weeks Smith wrote Hume
that he was immersed in study, which was the only business he had,
that his sole amusements were long solitary walks by the seaside
(which, with a man of his gift or infirmity of abstraction, would only
be protractions of the study that preoccupied him), and that he never
was happier or more contented in all his life. The immediate object of
this letter, as so usual with Smith, was to serve a friend--a motive
which never failed to overcome his aversion to writing. A French
friend--"the best and most agreeable friend I had in France," says
Smith--was then in London, and Smith wishes Hume, who was now Under
Secretary of State, to show him some attentions during his residence
there. This friend was Count de Sarsfield, a gentleman of Irish
extraction, an associate of Turgot and the other men of letters in
Paris, and a man who added to almost universal knowledge a special
predilection for economics, and indeed wrote a number of essays on
economic questions, though he never published any of them. He seems to
have really been, as Smith indicates, the perfection of an agreeable
companion. John Adams, the second President of the United States, when
envoy for that country in Paris, was very intimate with him, and says
that Sarsfield was the happiest man he knew, for he led the life of a
peripatetic philosopher. "Observation and reflection are all his
business, and his dinner and his friend all his pleasure. If a man
were born for himself alone, I would take him for a model."[201] He
was "the greatest rider of hobby-horses" in all President Adams's
acquaintance, and some of his hobbies were for the most serious
studies. He published a work in metaphysics, and wrote essays against
serfdom and slavery, and on a number of other subjects, which were
found in MS. among President Adams's papers. Yet he was a
problem--and not a very soluble one--to the worthy President, for he
laid a weight on the merest trifles of ceremony or etiquette which
seemed difficult to reconcile with his devotion to profound and
learned studies. He visited Adams at Washington during his presidency,
and used constantly to lecture the President on his little omissions.
After any entertainment Sarsfield would say, writes Adams, "that I
should have placed the Ambassador of France at my right hand and the
Minister of Spain at my left, and have arranged the other principal
personages; and when I rose from the table I should have said,
Messieurs, voudrez vous, etc., or Monsieur or Duc voudrez vous,
etc.... How is it possible to reconcile these trifling contemplations
of a master of the ceremonies with the vast knowledge of arts,
sciences, history, government, etc., possessed by this nobleman?"[202]
Sarsfield kept a journal about all the people he met with, from which
Adams makes some interesting quotations, and which, if extant, might
be expected to add to our information regarding Smith. Having said so
much of Smith's "best and most agreeable friend in France," I will now
give the letter:--

     KIRKALDY, _7th June 1767_.

     MY DEAREST FRIEND--The Principal design of this Letter is to
     Recommend to your particular attention the Count de
     Sarsfield, the best and most agreeable friend I had in
     France. Introduce him, if you find it proper, to all the
     friends of yr. absent friend, to Oswald and to Elliot in
     particular. I cannot express to you how anxious I am that
     his stay in London should be rendered agreeable to him. You
     know him, and must know what a plain, worthy, honourable man
     he is. I enclose a letter for him, which you may either send
     to him, or rather, if the weighty affairs of State will
     permit it, deliver it to him yourself. The letter to Dr.
     Morton[203] you may send by the Penny Post.

     My Business here is study, in which I have been very deeply
     engaged for about a month past. My amusements are long
     solitary walks by the seaside. You may judge how I spend my
     time. I feel myself, however, extremely happy, comfortable,
     and contented. I never was perhaps more so in all my life.

     You will give me great comfort by writing to me now and
     then, and by letting me know what is passing among my
     friends at London. Remember me to them all, particularly to
     Mr. Adams's family and to Mrs. Montagu.[204]

     What has become of Rousseau? Has he gone abroad because he
     cannot contrive to get himself sufficiently persecuted in
     Great Britain?

     What is the meaning of the bargain that your ministry have
     made with the India Company? They have not, I see, prolonged
     their charter, which is a good circumstance.[205]

The rest of the sheet is torn.

Hume replies on the 13th that Sarsfield was a very good friend of his
own, whom he had always great pleasure in meeting, as he was a man of
merit; but that he did not introduce him, as Smith desired, to Sir
Gilbert Elliot, because "this gentleman's reserve and indolence would
make him neglect the acquaintance"; nor to Oswald, because he found
his intimacy with Oswald, which had lasted more than a quarter of a
century, was broken for ever. He goes on to describe his quarrel with
Oswald's brother the bishop; and concludes: "If I were sure, dear
Smith, that you and I should not some day quarrel in some such manner,
I should tell you that I am yours affectionately and sincerely."[206]
Count de Sarsfield seems to have gone on to Scotland to pay Smith a
visit, for on the 14th of July Hume writes Smith, enclosing a packet,
which he desires to be delivered to the Count.

Smith did not reply to either of these letters till the 13th of
September, when he writes from Dalkeith House, where he has gone for
the home-coming of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleugh. After expressing
his mind in the plainest terms about the bishop with whom Hume had the
tussle--"He is a brute and a beast," says Smith--he goes on to bespeak
Hume's favour for a young cousin of his who happened to be living in
the same house with Hume in London, Captain David Skene, afterwards of
Pitlour, who was in 1787 made inspector of military roads in Scotland.

     Be so good (he says) as convey the enclosed letter to the
     Count de Sarsfield. I have been much in the wrong for having
     delayed so long to write both to him and you.

     There is a very amiable, modest, brave, worthy young
     gentleman who lives in the same house with you. His name is
     David Skeene. He and I are sisters' sons, but my regard for
     him is much more founded on his personal qualities than upon
     the relations in which he stands to me. He acted lately in a
     very gallant manner in America, of which he never acquainted
     me himself, and of which I came to the knowledge only within
     these few days. If you can be of any service to him you
     could not possibly do a more obliging thing to me.

     The Duke and Dutchess of Buccleugh have been here now for
     almost a fortnight. They begin to open their house on Monday
     next, and, I flatter myself, will both be very agreeable to
     the People of this country. I am not sure that I have ever
     seen a more agreeable woman than the Dutchess. I am sorry
     that you are not here, because I am sure you would be
     perfectly in love with her. I shall probably be here some
     weeks. I could wish, however, that both you and the Count de
     Sarsfield would direct for me as usual at Kirkaldy. I should
     be glad to know the true history of Rousseau before and
     since he left England. You may perfectly depend upon my
     never quoting you to any living soul upon that subject.--I
     ever am, dear sir, most faithfully yours,

     ADAM SMITH.[207]

The Duke of Buccleugh had never been at Dalkeith since his infancy--if
indeed he had been even then, for Dr. Carlyle's words in describing
this celebration are, "where his grace had never been
before"--because his stepfather, Charles Townshend, was afraid he
might grow up too Scotch in accent and feeling; and his home-coming
now, with his young and beautiful bride, excited the liveliest
interest and expectation, not only on the Buccleugh estates, but over
the whole lowlands of Scotland, from the Forth to the Solway. The day
originally fixed for the celebration was the Duke's birthday, the 13th
of September, the very day Smith wrote Hume; but the event had to be
postponed in consequence of the sudden death of Townshend, from an
attack of putrid fever, between the day of the Duke's arrival at
Dalkeith and the anniversary of his birth. It came off, however, two
or three weeks later. An entertainment was given to about fifty ladies
and gentlemen of the neighbourhood; but Dr. Carlyle, who was present,
and wrote indeed an ode for the occasion, says that though the fare
was sumptuous, the company was formal and dull, because the guests
were all strangers to their host and hostess except Adam Smith, and
Adam Smith, says Carlyle, "was but ill qualified to promote the
jollity of a birthday." "Had it not been for Alexander Macmillan,
W.S., and myself," he proceeds, "the meeting would have been very
dull, and might have been dissolved without even drinking the health
of the day.... Smith remained with them (the Duke and Duchess) for two
months, and then returned to Kirkcaldy to his mother and his studies.
I have often thought since that if they had brought down a man of more
address than he was, how much sooner their first appearance might have

The ice, which Smith is thus blamed for not being able to break on
this first meeting of his pupil with his Scotch neighbours, was not
long in melting naturally away under the warmth of the Duke's own
kindness of heart. He almost settled among them, for on Townshend's
death he gave up the idea on which that statesman had set his heart,
and which was one of his reasons for committing the training of the
young Duke to the care of a political philosopher,--the idea of going
into politics as an active career; and he lived largely on his Scotch
estates; becoming a father to his numerous tenantry, and a powerful
and enlightened promoter of all sound agricultural improvement. Dr.
Carlyle says the family were always kind to their tenants, but Duke
Henry "surpassed them all, as much in justice and humanity as he did
in superiority of understanding and good sense." Without claiming for
Smith's teaching what must in any case have been largely the result of
a fine natural character, it is certain that no young man could live
for three years in daily intimacy with Adam Smith without being
powerfully influenced by that deep love of justice and humanity which
animated Smith beyond his fellows, and ran as warmly through his
conversation in private life as we see it still runs through his
published writings. Smith was always vigorous and weighty in his
denunciation of wrong, and so impatient of anything in the nature of
indifference or palliation towards it, that he could scarce feel at
ease in the presence of the palliator. "We can breathe more freely
now," he once said when a person of that sort had just left the
company; "that man has no indignation in him."[209]

Smith remained the mentor of his pupil all his life. At "Dalkeith,
which all the virtues love," he was always a most honoured guest, and
Dugald Stewart says he always spoke with much satisfaction and
gratitude of his relations with the family of Buccleugh. Several of
the traditional anecdotes of Smith's absence of mind are localised at
Dalkeith House. Lord Brougham, for example, has preserved a story of
Smith breaking out at dinner into a strong condemnation of the public
conduct of some leading statesman of the day, then suddenly stopping
short on perceiving that statesman's nearest relation on the opposite
side of the table, and presently losing self-recollection again and
muttering to himself, "Deil care, deil care, it's all true." Or there
is the less pointed story told by Archdeacon Sinclair of another
occasion when Smith was dining at Dalkeith, and two sons of Lord
Dorchester were of the company. The conversation all turned on Lord
Dorchester's estates and Lord Dorchester's affairs, and at last Smith
interposed and said, "Pray, who is Lord Dorchester? I have never heard
so much of him before." The former anecdote shows at once that Smith
was in the habit of speaking his mind with considerable plainness, and
that he shrank at the same time from everything like personal
discourtesy; and the latter, like other stories of his absence of
mind, is hardly worth repeating, except for showing that he continued
to possess a redeeming infirmity.

From Dalkeith Smith returns to Kirkcaldy and his work. We find him in
1768 in correspondence with the Duke's law-agent, Mr. A. Campbell,
W.S., and with Sir James Johnstone of Westerhall, about some
investigation, apparently of no public importance, into the genealogy
of the Scotts, in connection with which he first got Campbell to make
a search in the charter-room of Dalkeith for ancient papers connected
with the Scotts of Thirlestane, and then wanted to know the
explanation Sir James Johnstone had given of Scott of Davington's
claim as heir of Rennaldburn upon the Duke of Buccleugh.[210] It shows
Smith, however, taking an interest, as if he were entitled to do so,
in the business affairs of the Duke. We find him too in correspondence
with Lord Hailes on historical points of some consequence to the
economic inquiries he was now busy upon. Lord Hailes was one of the
precursors of sound historical investigation in this country, and to
Smith, with whom he was long intimate, he afterwards paid the curious
compliment of translating his letter to Strahan on the death of Hume
into Latin.

Of Smith's correspondence with Hailes only two letters have been
preserved. The first is as follows:--

     _KIRKALDY, 5th March 1769_.

     MY LORD--I should now be extremely obliged to your Lordship
     if you would send me the papers you mentioned upon the
     prices of provisions in former times. In order that the
     conveyance may be perfectly secure, if your Lordship will
     give me leave I shall send my own servant sometime this week
     to receive them at your Lordship's house at Edinburgh. I
     have not been able to get the papers in the cause of Lord
     Galloway and Lord Morton. If your Lordship is possessed of
     them it would likewise be a great obligation if you would
     send me them. I shall return both as soon as possible. If
     your Lordship will give me leave I shall transcribe the
     manuscript papers; this, however, entirely depends upon your

     Since the last time I had the honour of writing to your
     Lordship I have read over with more care than before the
     Acts of James I., and compared them with your Lordship's
     remarks. From this last I have received both much pleasure
     and much instruction. Your Lordship's remarks will, I
     plainly see, be of much more use to me than, I am afraid,
     mine will be to you. I have read law entirely with a view to
     form some general notion of the great outlines of the plan
     according to which justice has been administered in
     different ages and nations; and I have entered very little
     into the detail of particulars of which I see your Lordship
     is very much master. Your Lordship's particular facts will
     be of great use to correct my general views; but the latter,
     I fear, will always be too vague and superficial to be of
     much use to your Lordship.

     I have nothing to add to what your Lordship has observed
     upon the Acts of James I. They are framed in general in a
     much ruder and more inaccurate manner than either the
     English statutes or French ordinances of the same period;
     and Scotland seems to have been, even during this vigorous
     reign, as our historians represent it, in greater disorder
     than either France or England had been from the time of the
     Danish and Norwegian incursions. The 5, 24, 56, and 85
     statutes seem all to attempt a remedy to one and the same
     abuse. Travelling, from the disorders of the country, must
     have been extremely dangerous, and consequently very rare.
     Few people therefore would propose to live by entertaining
     travellers, and consequently there would be few or no inns.
     Travellers would be obliged to have recourse to the
     hospitality of private families in the same manner as in all
     other barbarous countries; and being in this situation real
     objects of compassion, private families would think
     themselves obliged to receive them even though this
     hospitality was extremely oppressive. Strangers, says Homer,
     are sacred persons, and under the protection of Jupiter, but
     no wise man would ever choose to send for a stranger unless
     he was a bard or a soothsayer. The danger too of travelling
     either alone or with few attendants made all men of
     consequence carry along with them a numerous suite of
     retainers, which rendered this hospitality still more
     oppressive. Hence the orders to build hostellaries in 24 and
     85; and as many people had chosen to follow the old fashion
     and to live rather at the expense of other people than at
     their own, hence the complaint of the keepers of the
     hostellaries and the order thereupon in Act 85.

     I cannot conclude this letter, though already too long,
     without expressing to your Lordship my concern, and still
     more my indignation, at what has lately passed both at
     London and at Edinburgh. I have often thought that the
     Supreme Court of the United Kingdom very much resembled a
     jury. The law lords generally take upon them to sum up the
     evidence and to explain the law to the other peers, who
     generally follow their opinion implicitly. Of the two law
     lords who upon this occasion instructed them, the one has
     always run after the applause of the mob; the other, by far
     the most intelligent, has always shown the greatest dread of
     popular odium, which, however, he has not been able to
     avoid. His inclinations also have always been suspected to
     favour one of the parties. He has upon this occasion, I
     suspect, followed rather his fears and his inclinations than
     his judgment. I could say a great deal more upon this
     subject to your Lordship, but I am afraid I have already
     said too much. I would rather, for my own part, have the
     solid reputation of your most respectable president, though
     exposed to the insults of a brutal mob, than all the vain
     and flimsy applause that has ever yet been bestowed upon
     either or both the other two.--I have the honour to be, with
     the highest esteem and regard, my Lord, your Lordship's most
     obliged and obedient servant,

     ADAM SMITH.[211]

A week later Smith wrote Lord Hailes another letter, "giving," says
Lord Brougham, "what is evidently the beginning of his speculations on
the price of silver," but the letter seems to be now lost, and Lord
Brougham quotes from it only the following sentences on the Douglas
cause. "If the rejoicings which I read of in the public papers in
different places on account of the Douglas cause, had no more
foundation than those which were said to have been in this place,
there has been very little joy upon the occasion. There was here no
sort of rejoicing of any kind, unless four schoolboys having set up
three candles upon the trone by way of an illumination, is to be
considered as such."[212]

The first of these letters was written almost immediately after Smith
heard of the decision of the House of Lords in the famous Douglas
case. The news of the decision only reached Edinburgh on the 2nd of
March, and was received with such popular enthusiasm that the whole
city was illuminated. Smith walking by the shore at Kirkcaldy would
have seen the bonfires blazing on Salisbury Crags, and he seems to
have heard before writing that the house of the Lord President of the
Court of Session, who was opposed to the Douglas claim, was attacked
by the mob, and the President himself insulted next morning in the
street on his way to Court. No civil lawsuit ever excited so much
popular interest or feeling. The question, it will be remembered, was
whether Mr. Douglas, who had been served heir to the estates of the
late Duke of Douglas, was really the son of the Duke's sister, Lady
Jane, by her husband, Sir John Stewart of Grandtully, whom she had
secretly married abroad when she was already fifty years old, or
whether he was an impostor, the son of a Frenchwoman, whom Lady Jane
had brought up as her own son with a view to the inheritance of those
estates. Everybody in Scotland was for the time either a Douglas or a
Hamilton, and the sentimental elements in the case had enlisted
popular sympathy strongly on the Douglas side. Smith, as will be seen
from those letters, was quite as strong and even impassioned a
partisan on the unpopular and losing side, and Lord Hailes having been
one of the judges who voted with the Lord President for the decision
against Mr. Douglas which the House of Lords now reversed, he feels he
can give free vent to his disappointment. Brougham, in publishing the
letters, calls the opinion Smith gives not only "very strong" but
"very rash," and his impeachment of the impartiality of the two great
English judges--Lord Camden and Lord Mansfield--cannot seem
defensible. But David Hume, though a Tory and an Under Secretary of
State, is not a whit less sparing in his denunciation of those two law
lords and in his contempt for the general body of the peers than
Smith. "To one who understands the case as I do," he writes to Dr.
Blair, "nothing could appear more scandalous than the pleading of the
two law lords. Such curious misrepresentation, such impudent
assertions, such groundless imputations, never came from that place;
but they were good enough for the audience, who, bating their quality,
are most of them little better than their brothers the Wilkites of the
streets." Hume, having lost his place with a change of ministry,
returned to Edinburgh for good in August 1769, and presently wrote
Smith inviting him over:--

     JAMES'S COURT, _20th August 1769_.

     DEAR SMITH--I am glad to have come within sight of you, and
     to have a view of Kirkaldy from my windows, but as I wish
     also to be within speaking terms of you, I wish we could
     concert measures for that purpose. I am miserably sick at
     sea, and regard with horror and a kind of hydrophobia the
     great gulf that lies between us. I am also tired of
     travelling as much as you ought naturally to be of staying
     at home. I therefore propose to you to come hither and pass
     some days with me in this solitude. I want to know what you
     have been doing, and purpose to exact a rigorous account of
     the method in which you have employed yourself during your
     retreat. I am positive you are in the wrong in many of your
     speculations, especially when you have the misfortune to
     differ from me. All these are reasons for our meeting, and I
     wish you would make me some reasonable proposal for that
     purpose. There is no habitation on the island of Inchkeith,
     otherwise I should challenge you to meet me on that spot,
     and neither of us ever to leave the place till we were fully
     agreed on all points of controversy. I expect General Conway
     here to-morrow, whom I shall attend to Roseneath, and I
     shall remain there a few days. On my return I expect to find
     a letter from you containing a bold acceptance of this
     defiance. I am, dear Smith, yours sincerely.[213]

Smith seems to have made such progress with his work in the two years
of what Hume here calls his retreat at Kirkcaldy that in the beginning
of 1770 there was some word of his going up with it to London for
publication. For on the 6th of February Hume again writes him: "What
is the meaning of this, dear Smith, which we hear, that you are not to
be here above a day or two on your passage to London? How can you so
much as entertain a thought of publishing a book full of reason,
sense, and learning to those wicked abandoned madmen?"[214]

He had probably completed his first draft of the work from beginning
to end, but he kept constantly amplifying and altering parts of it for
six years more. He did not go to London in 1770, if he ever
contemplated doing so, but he came to Edinburgh and received the
freedom of the city in June. He seems to have received this honour for
the merits of the Duke of Buccleugh rather than for his own. For the
entry in the minutes of the Council of 6th June 1770 runs thus:

     "Appoint the Dean of Guild and his Council to admit and
     receive their Graces the Duke of Buccleugh and the Duke of
     Montagu in the most ample form, for good services done by
     them and their noble ancestors to the kingdome. And also
     Adam Smith, LL.D., and the Reverend Mr. John Hallam to be
     Burgesses and Gild Brethren of this city in the most ample

     (Signed) JAMES STUART, Provost."

The Duke of Montagu was the Duke of Buccleugh's father-in-law, and the
Rev. Mr. John Hallam--afterwards Dean of Windsor, and father of Henry
Hallam, the historian--was the Duke's tutor at Eton, as Adam Smith was
his tutor abroad. The freedom was therefore given to the Duke of
Buccleugh and party. Smith's burgess-ticket is one of the few relics
of him still extant; it is possessed by Professor Cunningham of

Smith promised Hume a visit about Christmas 1771, but the visit was
postponed in consequence of the illness of Hume's sister, and on the
28th of January he received the following letter, in reply apparently
to a request for the address of the Comtesse de Boufflers in Paris:--

     EDINBURGH, _28th January 1772_.

     DEAR SMITH--I should certainly before this time have
     challenged the Performance of your Promise of being with me
     about Christmas had it not been for the misfortunes of my
     family. Last month my sister fell dangerously ill of a
     fever, and though the fever be now gone, she is still so
     weak and low, and recovers so slowly, that I was afraid it
     would be but a melancholy house to invite you to. However, I
     expect that time will reinstate her in her former health, in
     which case I shall look for your company. I shall not take
     any excuse from your own state of health, which I suppose
     only a subterfuge invented by indolence and love of
     solitude. Indeed, my dear Smith, if you continue to hearken
     to complaints of this nature, you will cut yourself out
     entirely from human society, to the great loss of both

     The Lady's Direction is M^e la Comtesse de B., Douanière au
     Temple. She has a daughter-in-law, which makes it requisite
     to distinguish her.--Yours sincerely,


     _P.S._--I have not yet read _Orlando Inamorato_. I am now in
     a course of reading the Italian historians, and am confirmed
     in my former opinion that that language has not produced one
     author who knew how to write elegant correct prose though
     it contains several excellent poets. You say nothing to me
     of your own work.[215]

Smith seems to have perhaps sent him _Orlando Inamorato_, or at any
rate to have been previously in communication, either by letter or
conversation, on the subject, for the Italian poets were favourite
reading of his. But a more important point in the letter is the
indication it affords that Smith's labours and solitude were beginning
to tell on the state of his health. Indeed, poor health had now become
one of the chief causes of his delay in finishing his work, and it
continued to go from bad to worse. He writes his friend Pulteney in
September that his book would have been ready for the press by the
first of that winter if it were not for the interruptions caused by
bad health, "arising," he says, "from want of amusement and from
thinking too much upon one thing," together with other interruptions
of an equally anxious nature, occasioned by his endeavours to
extricate some of his personal friends from the difficulties in which
they were involved by the commercial crisis of that time.

     KIRKALDY, _5th September 1772_.

     MY DEAR PULTENEY--I have received your most friendly letter
     in due course, and I have delayed a great deal too long to
     answer it. Though I have had no concern myself in the Public
     calamities, some of the friends in whom I interest myself
     the most have been deeply concerned in them; and my
     attention has been a good deal occupied about the most
     proper method of extricating them.

     In the Book which I am now preparing for the press I have
     treated fully and distinctly of every part of the subject
     which you have recommended to me; and I intended to send you
     some extracts from it; but upon looking them over I find
     that they are too much interwoven with other parts of the
     work to be easily separated from it. I have the same opinion
     of Sir James Stewart's book that you have. Without once
     mentioning it, I flatter myself that any fallacious
     principle in it will meet with a clear and distinct
     confutation in mine.[216]

     I think myself very much honoured and obliged to you for
     having mentioned me to the E. India Directors as a person
     who would be of use to them. You have acted in your old way
     of doing your friends a good office behind their backs,
     pretty much as other people do them a bad one. There is no
     labour of any kind which you can impose upon me which I will
     not readily undertake. By what Mr. Stewart and Mr. Ferguson
     hinted to me concerning your notice of the proper remedy for
     the disorders of the coin in Bengal, I believe our opinions
     upon that subject are perfectly the same.

     My book would have been ready for the press by the beginning
     of this winter, but interruptions occasioned partly by bad
     health, arising from want of amusement and from thinking too
     much upon one thing, and partly by the avocations above
     mentioned, will oblige me to retard its publication for a
     few months longer.--I ever am, my dearest Pulteney, most
     faithfully and affectionately your obliged servant,


     _To_ WILLIAM PULTENEY Esq., _Member of Parliament_,
                        BATH HOUSE, LONDON.[217]

The public calamities to which Smith refers in the opening paragraph
of his letter are the bankruptcies of the severe commercial crisis of
that year, and the friends he was so much occupied in extricating from
its results were, I think it most likely, the family of Buccleugh. The
crash was especially disastrous in Scotland; only three private banks
in Edinburgh out of thirty survived it, and a large joint-stock bank,
Douglas Heron and Company, started only three years before, for the
public-spirited purpose of promoting improvements, particularly
improvements of land, now seemed to shake all commercial Scotland with
its fall. In this company the Duke of Buccleugh was one of the largest
shareholders, and, liability being unlimited, it was impossible to
foresee how much of its £800,000 of liabilities his Grace might be
eventually called upon to pay. The suggestion that Smith was much
consulted by the Duke and his advisers about this grave business is to
some extent confirmed by the familiarity which he shows with the whole
circumstances of this bank at the time of its failure in the second
chapter of the second book of the _Wealth of Nations_.

The situation for which Pulteney had recommended him to the Court of
Directors of the East India Company was, no doubt, a place as member
of the Special Commission of Supervision which they then contemplated
establishing. In 1772 the East India Company was in extremities; in
July they were nearly a million and a half sterling behind for their
next quarter's payments; and they proposed to send out to India a
commission of three independent and competent men, with full authority
to institute a complete examination into every detail of the
administration, and to exercise a certain supervision and control of
the whole. Burke had already been offered one of the seats on this
commission, but had refused it on finding that Lord Rockingham was
unwilling to part with him; and at the time this letter was written
two of Smith's own Scotch friends, whose names he happens to mention
in the letter--Adam Ferguson and Andrew Stuart, M.P.--were actually
candidates for the places, and had apparently been recently seeing
Pulteney in London on the subject. Pulteney, who had great influence
at the India House, had probably mentioned the names of Smith,
Ferguson, and Stuart to the Court of Directors at the same time, and
if so, that must have been at least two months before Smith wrote this
letter, for Ferguson was in the month of July getting influence
brought to bear on the Edinburgh Town Council to secure their
permission to retain his professorship in the event of his going to
India.[218] Ferguson pushed his candidature vigorously, and went to
London repeatedly about it between July and November, but Smith,
although he would have accepted the post if he received the offer of
it, does not seem to have taken any steps to procure it, and did not
even answer Pulteney's letter till September. Stuart's candidature was
defeated, Horace Walpole says, by Lord Mansfield, but eventually no
appointment was made, because Parliament intervened, and forbade any
such commission to be sent out at all.

In sending the letter to the _Academy_ for publication Professor
Rogers observes that it is plain the delay in the publication of the
_Wealth of Nations_ was due to the negotiations which Mr. Pulteney was
evidently making for the purpose of getting Smith appointed to this
place. "Had he succeeded," proceeds Mr. Rogers, "it is probable that
the _Wealth of Nations_ would never have seen the light; for every one
knows that in the first and second books of that work the East India
Company is criticised with the greatest severity.... I have no doubt
that owing to Pulteney's negotiations it lay unrevised and unaltered
during four years in the author's desk."

With all respect, this is a strange remark to fall from an editor of
the _Wealth of Nations_, for the evidences of continuous revision and
alteration during those four years are very numerous in the text of
the work itself. He made many changes or additions in 1773; for
example, the remarks on the price of hides,[219] in the chapter on
Rent, were written in February 1773; and those on the decline of
sugar-refining in colonies taken from the French, in the chapter on
the Colonies,[220] were written in October; while the passage on
American wages, in the chapter on Wages, was inserted some time in the
same year. The extensive additions in the chapters on the Revenue,
occasioned by reading the _Mémoires concernant les Droits_, must have
been written after 1774, because Smith probably obtained that book
after Turgot became Minister in the middle of that year; his remarks,
in the chapter on Colonies, on the effects of recent events on the
trade with North America,[221] and his remarks on the Irish revenue in
the chapter on Public Debts, were added in 1775.[222] The chapter on
the Regulated Companies, in which the East India Company receives most
systematic attention, and which did not appear in the first edition of
the book, was apparently not written till 1782.[223]

The book therefore did not lie "unrevised and unaltered" in the
author's desk from 1772 to 1776; on the contrary, the chief cause of
the four years' delay was the revision and alteration to which it was
being incessantly subjected during that whole term. The particular
Indian appointment for which Pulteney had recommended him could have
nothing to do with the delay, inasmuch as the proposed office was
suppressed altogether within two months after this letter was written;
and even if he entertained expectations of any other sort from the
East India Company, there is no reason why he should on that account
have withheld his work from publication. The more elaborate criticism
of that Company in the chapter on Public Works did not appear in the
original edition of the book at all, but the only remarks on Indian
administration which did appear in that edition, although they are
merely incidental in character, are very strong and decided, and might
easily have been omitted, had the author been so minded, to please the
Company, without any injury to the general argument with which they
are connected.

On the other hand, there exists abundance of evidence that Smith was
busy for most of three years after this date, and mainly in London,
altering, improving, and adding to the manuscript of the book. New
lines of investigation would suggest themselves, new theories to be
thought out, and the task would grow day by day by a very simple but
unforeseen process of natural accretion. Hume thought it near
completion in 1769; but towards the end of 1772, a couple of months
after Smith's answer to Pulteney, he gives it most of another year yet
for being finished. He writes from his new quarters in St. Andrew
Square, asking Smith to break off his studies for a few weeks'
relaxation with him in Edinburgh about Christmas, and then to return
and finish his work before the following autumn.

     ST. ANDREW'S SQUARE, _23rd November 1772_.

     DEAR SMITH--I should agree to your Reasoning if I could
     trust your Resolution. Come hither for some weeks about
     Christmas; dissipate yourself a little; return to Kirkaldy;
     finish your work before autumn; go to London, print it,
     return and settle in this town, which suits your studious,
     independent turn even better than London. Execute this plan
     faithfully, and I forgive you....

     Ferguson has returned fat and fair and in good humour,
     notwithstanding his disappointment,[224] which I am glad of.
     He comes over next week to a house in this neighbourhood.
     Pray come over this winter and join us.--I am, my dear
     Smith, ever yours,

     DAVID HUME.[225]

While Pulteney was suggesting Smith's name for employment under the
East India Company, Baron Mure was trying to secure his services as
tutor to the Duke of Hamilton, and Lord Stanhope possibly offered him
the position of tutor to his lordship's ward, the young Earl of
Chesterfield. Baron Mure was one of the guardians of the young Duke of
Hamilton (the son of the beautiful Miss Gunning), and had in that
capacity had the chief responsibility in raising and carrying on the
great Douglas cause. He was a man of great sagacity and weight, whom
we have seen in communication with Hume and Oswald on economic
subjects; he had long been also on terms of personal intimacy with
Smith, and he seems to have been anxious in 1772 to send Smith abroad
with the Duke of Hamilton, as he had already been sent abroad with
the Duke of Buccleugh. Smith would appear to have been sounded on the
subject, and even to have given what was considered a favourable
reply, for Andrew Stuart, a fellow-guardian of the Duke along with
Mure, writes the latter acknowledging receipt of his letter
"intimating"--these are the words--"the practicability of having Mr.
Smith," but the Duke's mother (then Duchess of Argyle) and the Duke
himself preferred Dr. John Moore, the author of _Zelucco_, who was the
family medical attendant, and was indeed chosen because he could act
in that capacity to his very delicate young charge, though he was
strictly required to drop the "doctor," and was severely censured by
the Duchess for assisting at a surgical operation in Geneva, inasmuch
as if it got known that he was a medical man it would be a bar to
their reception in the best society.[226] Accordingly Mure was told
that it was "the united opinion of all concerned that matters go no
further with Mr. Smith."

The circumstance that so wise and practical a head as Baron Mure's
should have thought of Smith for this post is at least a proof that
the Buccleugh tutorship had been a success, and that Smith was not
considered by other men of the world who knew him well as being so
unfit for the situation of travelling tutor as some of his friends
thought him.

During this period of severe study in Kirkcaldy his fits of absence
might be expected to recur occasionally, and Dr. Charles Rogers
relates an anecdote of one of them, which may be repeated here, though
Dr. Rogers omits mentioning any authority for it; and stories of that
kind must naturally be accepted with scruples, because they are so apt
to agglomerate round any person noted for the failing they indicate.

According to Dr. Rogers, however, Smith, during his residence in
Kirkcaldy, went out one Sunday morning in his dressing-gown to walk in
the garden, but once in the garden he went on to the path leading to
the turnpike road, and then to the road itself, along which he
continued in a condition of reverie till he reached Dunfermline,
fifteen miles distant, just as the bells were sounding and the people
were proceeding to church. The strange sound of the bells was the
first thing that roused the philosopher from the meditation in which
he was immersed.[227] The story is very open to criticism, but if
correct it points to sleepless nights and an incapacity to get a
subject out of the head, due to over-application.

The persistency of his occupation with his book, according to Robert
Chambers in his _Picture of Scotland_, left a mark on the wall of his
study which remained there till the room was repainted shortly before
that author wrote of it in 1827. Chambers says that it was Smith's
habit to compose _standing_, and to dictate to an amanuensis. He
usually stood with his back to the fire, and unconsciously in the
process of thought used to make his head vibrate, or rather, rub
sidewise against the wall above the chimney-piece. His head being
dressed, in the ordinary style of that period, with pomatum, could not
fail to make a mark on the wall.

M'Culloch says Smith dictated the _Wealth of Nations_ but did not
dictate the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_. Whether he had any external
ground for making this assertion I cannot tell, and, apart from such,
the probability would seem to be that if he dictated his lectures in
Edinburgh to an amanuensis, as seems probable, as well as his _Wealth
of Nations_, he would have done the same with his _Theory_. But
M'Culloch professes to see internal evidences of this difference of
manual method in the different style of the respective works. Moore
met M'Culloch one evening at Longman's, and they were discussing
writers who were in the habit of dictating as they composed. One of
the party said the habit of dictating always bred a diffuse style, and
M'Culloch supported this view by the example of Adam Smith, whose
_Wealth of Nations_, he said, was very diffuse because it had been
dictated, while his _Theory_, which was not dictated, was admirable in
style. But in reality there is probably more diffuse writing in the
_Theory_ than in the _Wealth of Nations_, which is for the most part
packed tightly enough. Another Scotch critic, Archibald Alison the
elder, the author of the _Essay on Taste_, even surpasses M'Culloch in
his keenness in detecting the effects of this dictating habit. He says
that Smith used to walk up and down the room while he dictated, and
that the consequence is that his sentences are nearly all the same
length, each containing as much as the amanuensis could write down
while the author took a single turn.[228] This is excessive acuteness.
Smith's sentences are not by any means all of one length, or all of
the same construction. It need only be added that the habit of
dictating would in his case arise naturally from his slow and laboured

As I have mentioned the house in which the _Wealth of Nations_ was
composed, it may be added that it stood in the main street of the
town, but its garden ran down to the beach, and that it was only
pulled down in 1844, without anybody in the place realising at the
moment, though it has been a cause of much regret since, that they
were suffering their most interesting association to be destroyed. An
engraving of it, however, exists.


[201] Adams's _Works_, ix. 589.

[202] Adams's _Works_, iii. 276.

[203] Secretary of the Royal Society. The letter was probably in
acknowledgment of the intimation of his election as Fellow.

[204] Mr. Adams is Adam the architect, and Mrs. Montagu is the
well-known Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu of Portman Square, whose hospitable
house was a rival to any of the most brilliant salons of Paris.

[205] _Hume MSS._, R.S.E. Library.

[206] Burton's _Life of Hume_, ii. 390.

[207] _Hume MSS._, R.S.E. Library.

[208] Carlyle's _Autobiography_, p. 489.

[209] Sinclair's _Life of Sir John Sinclair_, i. 37.

[210] Fraser's _Scotts of Buccleuch_, I. lxxxviii., II. 406.

[211] Brougham's _Men of Letters_, ii. 219.

[212] Brougham's Men of Letters, ii. 219.

[213] Burton's _Life of Hume_, ii. 429.

[214] _Ibid._, ii. 433.

[215] _Hume MSS._, R.S.E. Library. Partially published by Burton.

[216] Sir James Steuart's _Inquiry into the Principles of Political
Economy_ was published in 1767.

[217] Published by Professor Thorold Rogers in the _Academy_ of 28th
February 1885.

[218] _Caldwell Papers_, iii. 207.

[219] _Wealth of Nations_, Book I. chap. xi.

[220] _Ibid._, Book IV. chap. vii.

[221] _Wealth of Nations_, Book IV. chap. vii.

[222] _Ibid._, Book V. chap. iii.

[223] _Ibid._, Book V. chap. i.

[224] From the suppression of the Indian supervisorship; see p. 255.

[225] _Hume MSS._, R.S.E. Library.

[226] _Caldwell Papers_, i. 192.

[227] Rogers' _Social Life of Scotland_, iii. 181.

[228] Sinclair's _Old Times and Distant Places_, p. 9.



1773-1776. _Aet._ 50-53

In the spring of 1773, Smith, having, as he thought, virtually
completed the _Wealth of Nations_, set out with the manuscript for
London, to give it perhaps some finishing touches and then place it in
the hands of a publisher. But his labours had told so seriously on his
health and spirits that he thought it not improbable he might die, and
even die suddenly, before the work got through the press, and he wrote
Hume a formal letter before he started on his journey, constituting
him his literary executor, and giving him directions about the
destination of the various unpublished manuscripts that lay in his

     MY DEAR FRIEND--As I have left the care of all my literary
     papers to you, I must tell you that except those which I
     carry along with me, there are none worth the publishing but
     a fragment of a great work which contains a history of the
     astronomical systems that were successively in fashion down
     to the time of Descartes. Whether that might not be
     published as a fragment of an intended juvenile work I leave
     entirely to your judgment, tho' I begin to suspect myself
     that there is more refinement than solidity in some parts of
     it. This little work you will find in a thin folio paper
     book in my writing-desk in my book-room. All the other loose
     paper which you will find either in that desk or within the
     glass folding-doors of a bureau which stands in my bedroom,
     together with about eighteen thin paper folio books, which
     you will likewise find within the same glass folding-doors,
     I desire may be destroyed without any examination. Unless I
     die very suddenly, I shall take care that the Papers I
     carry with me shall be carefully sent to you.--I ever am, my
     dear friend, most faithfully yours,


     EDINBURGH, _16th April 1773_.

     _To_ DAVID HUME, Esq., 9 St. Andrew's Square,

Smith went to London shortly after writing this letter, and spent most
of the next four years there. We find him there in May 1773, for he is
admitted to the Royal Society on the 27th of that month; he is there
in September, for Ferguson then writes to him as if he were still
there. He is there in February 1774, for Hume writes him in that
month, "Pray what accounts are these we hear of Franklyn's
conduct?"--a question he would hardly have addressed except to one in
a better position for hearing the truth about Franklin than he was
himself. He is there in September 1774, for he writes Cullen from town
in that month, and speaks of having been for some time in it. He is
there in January 1775, for on the 11th Bishop Percy met him at dinner
at Sir Joshua Reynolds', along with Johnson, Burke, Gibbon, and
others.[230] He is there in February, for a young friend, Patrick
Clason, addresses a letter to him during that month to the care of
Cadell, the bookseller, in the Strand. He is there in December, for on
the 27th Horace Walpole writes the Countess of Ossory that "Adam Smith
told us t'other night at Beauclerk's that Major Preston--one of two,
but he is not sure which--would have been an excellent commander some
years hence if he had seen any service. I said it was a pity that the
war had not been put off till the Major should be some years
older."[231] He returned to Scotland in April 1776, about a month
after his book was issued, but we find him back again in London in
January 1777, for his letter to Governor Pownall in that month is
dated from Suffolk Street. Whether the first three years of his stay
in London was continuous I cannot say, but it would almost appear so
from the circumstance that nothing remains to indicate the contrary.

Those three years were spent upon the _Wealth of Nations_. Much of the
book as we know it must have been written in London. When he went up
to London he had no idea that any fresh investigations he contemplated
instituting there would detain him so long. He wrote Pulteney, as we
have seen, even in the previous September that the book would be
finished in a few months, and he led not only Hume but Adam Ferguson
also to look for its publication in 1773. In a footnote to the fourth
edition of his _History of Civil Society_, published in that year,
Ferguson says, "The public will probably soon be furnished (by Mr.
Smith, author of the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_) with a theory of
national economy equal to what has ever appeared on any subject of
science whatever." But the researches the author now made in London
must have been much more important than he expected, and have
occasioned extensive alterations and additions, so that Hume, in
congratulating him on the eventual appearance of the work in 1776,
writes, "It is probably much improved by your last abode in London."
Whole chapters seem to have been put through the forge afresh; and on
some of them the author has tool-marked the date of his handiwork

A very circumstantial account of Smith's London labours at the book
comes from America. Mr. Watson, author of the _Annals of
Philadelphia_, says: "Dr. Franklin once told Dr. Logan that the
celebrated Adam Smith when writing his _Wealth of Nations_ was in the
habit of bringing chapter after chapter as he composed it to himself,
Dr. Price, and others of the literati; then patiently hear their
observations and profit by their discussions and criticisms, sometimes
submitting to write whole chapters anew, and even to reverse some of
his propositions."[232]

Franklin's remark may have itself undergone enlargement before it
appeared in print, but though it may have been exaggerated, there
seems no ground for rejecting it altogether. Smith became acquainted
with Franklin in Edinburgh in 1759, and could not fail to see much of
him in London, because some of the most intimate of his own London
friends, Sir John Pringle and Strahan, for example, were also among
the most intimate friends of Franklin. Then a considerable proportion
of the additions, which we know from the text of the _Wealth of
Nations_ itself to have been made to the work during this London
period, bear on colonial or American experience.[233] And as Smith
always obtained a great deal of his information from the conversation
of competent men, no one would be more likely than Franklin to be laid
under contribution or to be able to contribute something worth
learning on such questions. The biographer of Franklin states that his
papers which belong to this particular period "contain sets of
problems and queries as though jotted down at some meeting of
philosophers for particular consideration at home," and then he adds:
"A glance at the index of the _Wealth of Nations_ will suffice to show
that its author possessed just that kind of knowledge of the American
Colonies which Franklin was of all men the best fitted to impart. The
allusions to the Colonies may be counted by hundreds; illustrations
from their condition and growth occur in nearly every chapter. We may
go further and say that the American Colonies constitute the
experimental evidence of the essential truth of the book, without
which many of its leading positions had been little more than
theory."[234] It ought of course to be borne in mind that Smith had
been in the constant habit of hearing much about the American Colonies
and their affairs during his thirteen years in Glasgow from the
intelligent merchants and returned planters of that city.

After coming to London Smith seems to have renewed his acquaintance
with Lord Stanhope, who sought Smith's counsel as to a tutor for his
ward the Earl of Chesterfield, and appointed Adam Ferguson on Smith's
recommendation. The negotiations with Ferguson were conducted through
Smith, and some of Ferguson's letters to Smith on the matter still
exist, but contain nothing of any interest for the biography of the
latter. But in contemplation of Ferguson's going abroad with the Earl
of Chesterfield, Hume, ever anxious to have his friend near him,
sounds Smith on the possibility of his agreeing to act during
Ferguson's absence as his substitute in the Moral Philosophy chair at
Edinburgh. Smith, however, was apparently unwilling to undertake that
duty. As we have already seen, he was strongly opposed to professorial
absenteeism, and in the present case it was associated with unpleasant
circumstances. The Town Council, the administrators of the College,
refused to sanction Ferguson's absence, and called upon him either to
stay at home or to resign his chair. Ferguson merely snapped his
fingers, appointed young Dugald Stewart his substitute, and went off
on his travels, quietly remarking that fools and knaves were necessary
in the world to give other people something to do. Hume's letter is as

     ST. ANDREW'S SQUARE, _13th February 1774_.

     DEAR SMITH--You are in the wrong for never informing me of
     your intentions and resolutions, if you have fix'd any. I am
     now obliged to write to you on a subject without knowing
     whether the proposal, or rather Hint, which I am to give you
     be an absurdity or not. The settlement to be made on
     Ferguson is a very narrow compensation for his class if he
     must lose it. He wishes to keep it and to serve by a Deputy
     in his absence. But besides that this scheme will appear
     invidious and is really scarce admissible, those in the Town
     Council who aim at filling the vacancy with a friend will
     strenuously object to it, and he himself cannot think of one
     who will make a proper substitute. I fancy that the chief
     difficulty would be removed if you could offer to supply his
     class either as his substitute or his successor, with a
     purpose of resigning upon his return. This notion is
     entirely my own, and shall never be known to Ferguson if it
     appear to you improper. I shall only say that he deserves
     this friendly treatment by his friendly conduct of a similar
     kind towards poor Russell's family.

     Pray what strange accounts are these we hear of Franklyn's
     conduct? I am very slow in believing that he has been guilty
     in the extreme degree that is pretended, tho' I always knew
     him to be a very factious man, and Faction next to
     Fanaticism is of all passions the most destructive of
     morality. I hear that Wedderburn's treatment of him before
     the Council was most cruel without being in the least
     blamable. What a pity![235]

Smith's headquarters in London, to which Hume's letters to him were
addressed, was the British Coffee-House in Cockspur Street, a great
Scotch resort in last century, kept, as I have said, by a sister of
his old Balliol friend, Bishop Douglas, "a woman," according to Henry
Mackenzie, "of uncommon talents and the most agreeable conversation."
Wedderburn founded a weekly dining club in this house, which Robertson
and Carlyle used to frequent when they came to town, and no doubt
Smith would do the same, for many of his Scotch friends belonged to
it--Dr. William Hunter, John Home, Robert Adam the architect, and Sir
Gilbert Elliot. Indeed, though men like Goldsmith, Sir Joshua
Reynolds, Garrick, and Richard Cumberland were members, it was
predominantly a Scotch club, and both Carlyle and Richard Cumberland
say an extremely agreeable one. But during his residence at this
period in London Smith was in 1775 admitted to the membership of a
much more famous club, the Literary Club of Johnson and Burke and
Reynolds at the Turk's Head in Gerrard Street, and he no doubt
attended their fortnightly dinners. The only members present on the
night of his election were Beauclerk, Gibbon, Sir William Jones, and
Sir Joshua Reynolds. Boswell, writing his friend Temple on 28th April
1776, immediately after the _Wealth of Nations_ was published, says,
"Smith too is now of our club. It has lost its select merit." But
another member of the club, Dean Barnard--husband of the authoress of
"Auld Robin Gray"--appreciates his worth better, though he wrote the
lines in which his appreciation occurs before the _Wealth of Nations_
appeared, and his words may therefore be taken perhaps to convey the
impression made by Smith's conversation. One of the Dean's verses

    If I have thoughts and can't express 'em,
    Gibbon shall teach me how to dress 'em
        In form select and terse;
    Jones teach me modesty and Greek,
    Smith how to think, Burke how to speak,
        And Beauclerk to converse.

Smith's conversation seems, from all the accounts we have of it, to
have been the conversation of a thinker, often lecturing rather than
talk, but always instructive and solid. William Playfair, the brother
of Professor John Playfair, the mathematician, says, "Those persons
who have ever had the pleasure to be in his company may recollect that
even in his common conversation the order and method he pursued
without the smallest degree of formality or stiffness were beautiful,
and gave a sort of pleasure to all who listened to him."[236]

Bennet Langton mentions the "decisive professorial manner" in which he
was used to talk, and according to Boswell, Topham Beauclerk conceived
a high opinion of Smith's conversation at first, but afterwards lost
it, for reasons unreported, though if Beauclerk was himself, as Dean
Barnard indicates, the model converser of the club, he would probably
grow tired of expository lectures, however excellent and instructive.
A criticism of Garrick's is more curious. After listening to Smith one
evening, the great player turned to a friend and whispered, "What say
you to this? eh, flabby, eh?" but whatever may have been the case that
particular evening, flabbiness at least was not a characteristic of
Smith's talk. It erred rather in excess of substance. He had Johnson's
solidity and weight, without Johnson's force and vivacity. Henry
Mackenzie, author of the _Man of Feeling_, talking of Smith soon after
his death with Samuel Rogers, said of him, "With a most retentive
memory, his conversation was solid beyond that of any man. I have
often told him after half an hour's conversation, 'Sir, you have said
enough to make a book.'"[237] His conversation, moreover, was
particularly wide in its range. Dugald Stewart says that though Smith
seldom started a topic of conversation, there were few topics raised
on which he was not found contributing something worth hearing, and
Boswell, no very partial witness, admits that his talk evinced "a mind
crowded with all manner of subjects." Like Sir Walter Scott, Smith has
been unjustly accused of habitually abstaining from conversing on the
subjects he had made his own. Boswell tells us that Smith once said to
Sir Joshua Reynolds that he made it a rule in company never to talk of
what he understood, and he alleges the reason to have been that Smith
had bookmaking ever in his mind, and the fear of the plagiarist ever
before his eyes. But the fact thus reported by Boswell cannot be
accepted exactly as he reports it, and his explanation cannot be
accepted at all. Men able to converse on a variety of subjects will
naturally prefer to converse on those unconnected with their own shop,
because they go into company for diversion from their own shop, but
it is a question of company and circumstances. If Smith ever made any
such rule as Boswell speaks of, he certainly seems to have honoured it
as often by the breach as by the observance, for when his friends
brought round the conversation to his special lines of research, he
never seems to have failed to give his ideas quite freely, nay, as may
be seen from the remark just quoted from Henry Mackenzie, not freely
merely but abundantly--as many as would make a book. He does not
appear to have been in this respect a grudging giver. I have already
quoted his remark on hearing of Blair's borrowing some of his
juridical ideas, "There's enough left." When Sir John Sinclair was
writing his _History of the Revenue_ Smith offered him the use of
everything, either printed or manuscript, in his possession bearing
upon the subject. And if it is true that he was discussing his own
book chapter by chapter with Franklin, Price, and others, about the
very period when this remark to Sir Joshua purports to have been made,
it appears most unlikely that he could have thought of setting any
churlish watch on his lips in ordinary conversation. But however it be
with his disposition to talk about his own pursuits, we know from
Dugald Stewart that he was very fond of talking of subjects remote
from them, and as Stewart says, he was never more entertaining than
when he gave a loose rein to his speculation on subjects off his own
line. "Nor do I think," says Stewart, "I shall be accused of going too
far when I say that he was scarcely ever known to start a new topic
himself, or to appear unprepared upon those topics that were
introduced by others. Indeed, his conversation was never more amusing
than when he gave a loose rein to his genius upon the very few
branches of knowledge of which he only possessed the outlines."[238]
One of his defects, according to both Stewart and Carlyle, was his
poor penetration into personal character; but he was very fond of
drawing the character of any person whose name came up in
conversation, and Stewart says his judgments of this kind, though
always decided and lively, were generally too systematic to be just,
leaning ever, however, to charity's side, and erring by partiality
rather than prejudice; while Carlyle completes the description by
stating that when any one challenged or disputed his opinion of a
character, he would retrace his steps with the greatest ease and
nonchalance and contradict every word he had been saying. Carlyle's
statement is confirmed by the remarks of certain of Smith's other
friends who speak incidentally of the amusing inconsistencies in which
he indulged in private conversation. He was fond of starting theories
and supporting them, but it is not so easy to explain a man on a
theory as to explain some abstract subject on a theory.

His voice seems to have been harsh, his utterance often stammering,
and his manner, especially among strangers, often embarrassed, but
many writers speak of the remarkable animation of his features as he
warmed to his subject, and of the peculiar radiancy of his smile. "His
smile of approbation," says Dr. Carlyle, "was captivating." "In the
society of those he loved," says Stewart, "his features were often
brightened with a smile of inexpressible benignity."

While living in London, Smith, along with Gibbon, attended Dr. William
Hunter's lectures on anatomy,[239] as we are told by a writer who was
one of Hunter's students at the time, and during that very period he
had an opportunity of vindicating the value of the lectures of private
teachers of medicine like Hunter against pretensions to monopoly set
up at the moment on behalf of the universities. In a long letter
written to Cullen in September 1774 Smith defends with great vigour
and vivacity the most absolute and unlimited freedom of medical
education, treating the University claims as mere expressions of the
craft spirit, and recognising none of those exceptional features of
medical education which have constrained even the most extreme
partisans of economic liberty now to approve of government
interference in that matter.

The letter was occasioned by an agitation which had been long
gathering strength in Scotch medical circles against the laxity with
which certain of the Scotch universities--St. Andrews and Aberdeen in
particular--were in the habit of conferring their medical degrees. The
candidate was not required either to attend classes or to pass an
examination, but got the degree by merely paying the fees and
producing a certificate of proficiency from two medical practitioners,
into whose qualifications no inquiry was instituted. In London a
special class of agent--the broker in Scotch degrees--sprang up to
transact the business, and England was being overrun with a horde of
Scotch doctors of medicine who hardly knew a vein from an artery, and
had created south of the Border a deep prejudice against all Scotch
graduates, even those from the unoffending Universities of Edinburgh
and Glasgow. A case seemed to be brought home even to Edinburgh in the
year 1771. The offender--one Leeds--had not, indeed, got his degree
from Edinburgh without examination, but he showed his competency to be
so doubtful in his duties at the London Hospital that the governors
made it a condition of the continuance of his services that he should
obtain the diploma of the London College of Physicians, and he failed
to pass this London examination and was deprived of his post. This
case created much sensation both in London and Edinburgh, and when the
Duke of Buccleugh was elected an honorary Fellow of the College of
Physicians of Edinburgh in 1774, he made that body something like an
offer to take up the question of examination for medical degrees in
Parliament and try what could be done to remove this reproach from his
country. The College of Physicians thereupon drew up a memorial to
Government for the Duke of Buccleugh to present, praying for the
prohibition of the universities from granting medical degrees, except
honorary ones, to any person in absence, or to any person without
first undergoing a personal examination into his proficiency, and
bringing a certificate of having attended for two years at a
university where physic was regularly taught, and of having applied
himself to all branches of medical study. They add that they fix on
two years not because they think two years enough, but because that
was the term adopted by the London College of Physicians, and they
suggest the appointment of a royal commission of inquiry if Government
is not prepared for immediate action.

The Duke of Buccleugh sent the memorial for the consideration of Adam
Smith, and asked him to write to Cullen his views on the subject.
Smith thought that it was not very practicable in any event for the
public to obtain a satisfactory test of medical efficiency, that it
was certainly not practicable if the competition by the private
teachers were suppressed, that otherwise the medical examination might
become as great a quackery as the medical degree, and that the whole
question was a mere squabble between the big quack and the little one.
He unfolds his views in the following letter:--

     DEAR DOCTOR--I have been very much in the wrong both to you
     and to the Duke of Buccleugh, to whom I certainly promised
     to write you in a post or two, for having delayed so long to
     fulfil my promise. The truth is that some occurrences which
     interested me a good deal, and which happened here
     immediately after the Duke's departure, made me forget
     altogether a business which, I do acknowledge, interested me
     very little.

     In the present state of the Scotch universities I do most
     sincerely look upon them as, in spite of all their faults,
     without exception the best seminaries of learning that are
     to be found anywhere in Europe. They are perhaps, upon the
     whole, as unexceptionable as any public institutions of that
     kind, which all contain in their very nature the seeds and
     causes of negligency and corruption, have ever been or are
     ever likely to be. That, however, they are still capable of
     amendment, and even of considerable amendment, I know very
     well, and a Visitation (that is, a Royal Commission) is, I
     believe, the only proper means of procuring them this
     amendment. Before any wise man, however, would apply for the
     appointment of so arbitrary a tribunal in order to improve
     what is already, upon the whole, very well, he ought
     certainly to know with some degree of certainty, first, who
     are likely to be appointed visitors, and secondly, what plan
     of reformation those visitors are likely to follow; but in
     the present multiplicity of pretenders to some share in the
     prudential management of Scotch affairs, these are two
     points which, I apprehend, neither you nor I, nor the
     Solicitor-General nor the Duke of Buccleugh, can possibly
     know anything about. In the present state of our affairs,
     therefore, to apply for a Visitation in order to remedy an
     abuse which is not perhaps of great consequence to the
     public, would appear to me to be extremely unwise.
     Hereafter, perhaps, an opportunity may present itself for
     making such an application with more safety.

     With regard to an admonition, or threatening, or any other
     method of interfering in the affairs of a body corporate
     which is not perfectly and strictly regular and legal, these
     are expedients which I am convinced neither his Majesty nor
     any of his present Ministers would choose to employ either
     now or at any time hereafter in order to obtain an object
     even of much greater consequence than this reformation of
     Scottish degrees.

     You propose, I observe, that no person should be admitted to
     examination for his degrees unless he brought a certificate
     of his having studied at least two years in some university.
     Would not such a regulation be oppressive upon all private
     teachers, such as the Hunters, Hewson, Fordyce, etc.? The
     scholars of such teachers surely merit whatever honour or
     advantage a degree can confer much more than the greater
     part of those who have spent many years in some
     universities, where the different branches of medical
     knowledge are either not taught at all, or are taught so
     superficially that they had as well not be taught at all.
     When a man has learnt his lesson very well, it surely can be
     of little importance where or from whom he has learnt it.

     The monopoly of medical education which this regulation
     would establish in favour of universities would, I
     apprehend, be hurtful to the lasting prosperity of such
     bodies corporate. Monopolists very seldom make good work,
     and a lecture which a certain number of students must
     attend, whether they profit by it or no, is certainly not
     very likely to be a good one. I have thought a great deal
     upon this subject, and have inquired very carefully into the
     constitution and history of several of the principal
     universities of Europe; I have satisfied myself that the
     present state of degradation and contempt into which the
     greater part of these societies have fallen in almost every
     part of Europe arises principally, first, from the large
     salaries which in some universities are given to professors,
     and which render them altogether independent of their
     diligence and success in their professions; and secondly,
     from the great number of students who, in order to get
     degrees or to be admitted to exercise certain professions,
     or who, for the sake of bursaries, exhibitions,
     scholarships, fellowships, etc., are obliged to resort to
     certain societies of this kind, whether the instructions
     which they are likely to receive there are or are not worth
     the receiving. All these different cases of negligence and
     corruption no doubt take place in some degree in all our
     Scotch universities. In the best of them, however, these
     cases take place in a much less degree than in the greater
     part of other considerable societies of the same kind; and I
     look upon this circumstance as the real cause of their
     present excellence. In the Medical College of Edinburgh in
     particular the salaries of the professors are insignificant.
     There are few or no bursaries or exhibitions, and their
     monopoly of degrees is broken in upon by all other
     universities, foreign and domestic. I require no other
     explication of its present acknowledged superiority over
     every other society of the same kind in Europe.

     To sign a certificate in favour of any man whom we know
     little or nothing about is most certainly a practice which
     cannot be strictly vindicated. It is a practice, however,
     which from mere good-nature and without interest of any kind
     the most scrupulous men in the world are sometimes guilty
     of. I certainly do not mean to defend it. Bating the
     unhandsomeness of the practice, however, I would ask in what
     manner does the public suffer by it? The title of Doctor,
     such as it is, you will say, gives some credit and authority
     to the man upon whom it is bestowed; it extends his practice
     and consequently his field for doing mischief; it is not
     improbable too that it may increase his presumption and
     consequently his disposition to do mischief. That a degree
     injudiciously conferred may sometimes have some little
     effect of this kind it would surely be absurd to deny, but
     that this effect should be very considerable I cannot bring
     myself to believe. That Doctors are sometimes fools as well
     as other people is not in the present time one of those
     profound secrets which is known only to the learned. The
     title is not so very imposing, and it very seldom happens
     that a man trusts his health to another merely because that
     other is a Doctor. The person so trusted has almost always
     some knowledge or some craft which would procure him nearly
     the same trust, though he was not decorated with any such
     title. In fact the persons who apply for degrees in the
     irregular manner complained of are, the greater part of
     them, surgeons or apothecaries who are in the custom of
     advising and prescribing, that is, of practising as
     physicians; but who, being only surgeons and apothecaries,
     are not fee-ed as physicians. It is not so much to extend
     their practice as to increase their fees that they are
     desirous of being made Doctors. Degrees conferred even
     undeservedly upon such persons can surely do very little
     harm to the public. When the University of St. Andrews very
     rashly and imprudently conferred a degree upon one Green who
     happened to be a stage-doctor, they no doubt brought much
     ridicule and discredit upon themselves, but in what respect
     did they hurt the public? Green still continued to be what
     he was before, a stage-doctor, and probably never poisoned a
     single man more than he would have done though the honours
     of graduation had never been conferred upon him.
     Stage-doctors, I must observe, do not much excite the
     indignation of the faculty; more reputable quacks do. The
     former are too contemptible to be considered as rivals; they
     only poison the poor people; and the copper pence which are
     thrown up to them in handkerchiefs could never find their
     way to the pocket of a regular physician. It is otherwise
     with the latter: they sometimes intercept a part of what
     perhaps would have been better bestowed in another place. Do
     not all the old women in the country practise physic without
     exciting murmur or complaint? And if here and there a
     graduated Doctor should be as ignorant as an old woman,
     where can be the great harm? The beardless old woman indeed
     takes no fees; the bearded one does, and it is this
     circumstance, I strongly suspect, which exasperates his
     brethren so much against him.

     There never was, and I will venture to say there never will
     be, a university from which a degree could give any
     tolerable security that the person upon whom it had been
     conferred was fit to practise physic. The strictest
     universities confer degrees only upon students of a certain
     standing. Their real motive for requiring this standing is
     that the student may spend more money among them and that
     they may make more profit by him. When he has attained this
     standing therefore, though he still undergoes what they call
     an examination, it scarce ever happens that he is refused
     his degree. Your examination at Edinburgh, I have all reason
     to believe, is as serious, and perhaps more so, than that of
     any other university in Europe; but when a student has
     resided a few years among you, has behaved dutifully to all
     his professors, and has attended regularly all their
     lectures, when he comes to his examination I suspect you are
     disposed to be as good-natured as other people. Several of
     your graduates, upon applying for license from the College
     of Physicians here, have had it recommended to them to
     continue their studies. From a particular knowledge of some
     of the cases I am satisfied that the decision of the College
     in refusing them their license was perfectly just--that is,
     was perfectly agreeable to the principles which ought to
     regulate all such decisions; and that the candidates were
     really very ignorant of their profession.

     A degree can pretend to give security for nothing but the
     science of the graduate; and even for that it can give but a
     very slender security. For his good sense and discretion,
     qualities not discoverable by an academical examination, it
     can give no security at all; but without these the
     presumption which commonly attends science must render it in
     the practice of physic ten times more dangerous than the
     grossest ignorance when accompanied, as it sometimes is,
     with some degree of modesty and diffidence.

     If a degree, in short, always has been, and, in spite of all
     the regulations which can be made, always must be, a mere
     piece of quackery, it is certainly for the advantage of the
     public that it should be understood to be so. It is in a
     particular manner for the advantage of the universities that
     for the resort of students they should be obliged to depend,
     not upon their privileges but upon their merit, upon their
     abilities to teach and their diligence in teaching; and that
     they should not have it in their power to use any of those
     quackish arts which have disgraced and degraded the half of

     A degree which can be conferred only upon students of a
     certain standing is a statute of apprenticeship which is
     likely to contribute to the advancement of science, just as
     other statutes of apprenticeship have contributed to that of
     arts and manufactures. Those statutes of apprenticeship,
     assisted by other corporation laws, have banished arts and
     manufactures from the greater part of towns corporate. Such
     degrees, assisted by some other regulations of a similar
     tendency, have banished almost all useful and solid
     education from the greater part of universities. Bad work
     and high price have been the effect of the monopoly
     introduced by the former; quackery, imposture, and
     exorbitant fees have been the consequences of that
     established by the latter. The industry of manufacturing
     villages has remedied in part the inconveniences which the
     monopolies established by towns corporate had occasioned.
     The private interest of some poor Professors of Physic in
     some poor universities inconveniently situated for the
     resort of students has in part remedied the inconveniences
     which would certainly have resulted from that sort of
     monopoly which the great and rich universities had attempted
     to establish. The great and rich universities seldom
     graduated anybody but their own students, and not even these
     till after a long and tedious standing; five and seven years
     for a Master of Arts; eleven and sixteen for a Doctor of
     Law, Physic, or Divinity. The poor universities on account
     of the inconvenience of their situation, not being able to
     get many students, endeavoured to turn a penny in the only
     way in which they could turn it, and sold their degrees to
     whoever would buy them, generally without requiring any
     residence or standing, and frequently without subjecting the
     candidate even to a decent examination. The less trouble
     they gave, the more money they got, and I certainly do not
     pretend to vindicate so dirty a practice. All universities
     being ecclesiastical establishments under the immediate
     protection of the Pope, a degree from one of them gave all
     over Christendom very nearly the same privileges which a
     degree from any other could have given; and the respect
     which is to this day paid to foreign degrees, even in
     Protestant countries, must be considered as a remnant of
     Popery. The facility of obtaining degrees, particularly in
     physic, from those poor universities had two effects, both
     extremely advantageous to the public, but extremely
     disagreeable to graduates of other universities whose
     degrees had cost them much time and expense. First, it
     multiplied very much the number of doctors, and thereby no
     doubt sunk their fees, or at least hindered them from rising
     so very high as they otherwise would have done. Had the
     universities of Oxford and Cambridge been able to maintain
     themselves in the exclusive privilege of graduating all the
     doctors who could practise in England, the price of feeling
     the pulse might by this time have risen from two and three
     guineas, the price which it has now happily arrived at, to
     double or triple that sum; and English physicians might, and
     probably would, have been at the same time the most ignorant
     and quackish in the world. Secondly, it reduced a good deal
     the rank and dignity of a doctor, but if the physician was a
     man of sense and science it would not surely prevent his
     being respected and employed as a man of sense and science.
     If he was neither the one nor the other, indeed, his
     doctorship would no doubt avail him the less. But ought it
     in this case to avail him at all? Had the hopeful project of
     the rich and great universities succeeded, there would have
     been no occasion for sense or science. To have been a
     doctor would alone have been sufficient to give any man
     rank, dignity, and fortune enough. That in every profession
     the fortune of every individual should depend as much as
     possible upon his merit and as little as possible upon his
     privilege is certainly for the interest of the public. It is
     even for the interest of every particular profession, which
     can never so effectually support the general merit and real
     honour of the greater part of those who exercise it, as by
     resting on such liberal principles. Those principles are
     even most effectual for procuring them all the employment
     which the country can afford. The great success of quacks in
     England has been altogether owing to the real quackery of
     the regular physicians. Our regular physicians in Scotland
     have little quackery, and no quack accordingly has ever made
     his fortune among us.

     After all, this trade in degrees I acknowledge to be a most
     disgraceful trade to those who exercise it; and I am
     extremely sorry that it should be exercised by such
     respectable bodies as any of our Scotch universities. But as
     it serves as a corrective of what would otherwise soon grow
     up to be an intolerable nuisance, the exclusive and
     corporation spirit of all thriving professions and of all
     great universities, I deny that it is hurtful to the public.

     What the physicians of Edinburgh at present feel as a
     hardship is perhaps the real cause of their acknowledged
     superiority over the greater part of other physicians. The
     Royal College of Physicians there, you say, are obliged by
     their charter to grant a license without examination to all
     the graduates of Scotch universities. You are all obliged, I
     suppose, in consequence of this, to consult sometimes with
     very unworthy brethren. You are all made to feel that you
     must rest no part of your dignity upon your degree, a
     distinction which you share with the men in the world
     perhaps whom you despise the most, but that you must found
     the whole of it upon your merit. Not being able to derive
     much consequence from the character of Doctor, you are
     obliged perhaps to attend more to your character as men, as
     gentlemen, and as men of letters. The unworthiness of some
     of your brethren may perhaps in this manner be in part the
     cause of the very eminent and superior worth of many of the
     rest. The very abuse which you complain of may in this
     manner perhaps be the real source of your present
     excellence. You are at present well, wonderfully well, and
     when you are so, be assured there is always some danger in
     attempting to be better.

     Adieu, my dear Doctor; after having delayed to write to you
     I am afraid I shall _get my lug_ (ear) _in my lufe_ (hand),
     as we say, for what I have written. But I ever am, most
     affectionately yours,


     LONDON, _20th September 1774_.[240]

Whether this decided expression of unfavourable opinion on the part of
his old and venerated tutor altered the Duke of Buccleugh's mind on
the subject, or in any way prevented him from persevering in his
contemplated application to Government, we have no means of knowing,
but at any rate no further action seems to have been taken in the
matter, and it was left to the Scottish universities themselves to
remedy abuses which were seriously telling on their own interest and
good name.

The last year of Smith's residence in London was overcast by growing
anxiety about the condition of his friend Hume, who had always enjoyed
fairly good health till the beginning of the year 1775, and then
seemed to fall rapidly away. As Smith said one evening at Lord
Shelburne's to Dr. Price, who asked him about Hume's health, it seemed
as if Hume was one of those persons who after a certain time of life
go down not gradually but by jumps.[241] Under those circumstances
Smith had determined as soon as his new book was out to go down to
Edinburgh and if possible persuade Hume to come back with him to
London, to try the effect of change of scene and a little wholesome
diversion. But, bad correspondent that he was, he appears to have left
Hume to gather his intentions from the reports of friends, and
consequently received from Hume the following remonstrance a few weeks
before the publication of his work:--

     EDINBURGH, _8th February, 1776_.

     DEAR SMITH--I am as lazy a correspondent as you, but my
     anxiety about you makes me write.

     By all accounts your book has been printed long ago, yet it
     has never yet been so much as advertised. What is the
     reason? If you wait till the fate of Bavaria be decided you
     may wait long.

     By all accounts you intend to settle with us this spring,
     yet we hear no more of it. What is the reason? Your chamber
     in my house is always unengaged; I am always at home; I
     expect you to land here.

     I have been, am, and shall be probably in an indifferent
     state of health. I weighed myself t'other day, and find I
     have fallen five compleat stones. If you delay much longer I
     shall probably disappear altogether.

     The Duke of Buccleugh tells me that you are very zealous in
     American affairs. My notion is that this matter is not so
     important as is commonly imagined. If I be mistaken I shall
     probably correct my error when I see you or read you. For
     navigation and general commerce may suffer more than our
     manufactures. Should London fall as much in its size as I
     have done it will be the better. It is nothing but a Hulk of
     bad and unclean Humours.[242]

The American question was of course the great question of the hour,
for the Colonies were already a year in active rebellion, and they
issued their declaration of independence but a few months later. Smith
followed the struggle, as we see from many evidences in the concluding
portion of the _Wealth of Nations_, with the most patriotic interest
and anxiety, and having long made a special study of the whole problem
of colonial administration, had arrived at the most decided opinions
not only on the rights and wrongs of the particular quarrel then at
issue, but on the general policy it was requisite to adopt in the
government of dependencies. Hume was in favour of separation, because
he believed separation to be inevitable sooner or later in the
ordinary course of nature, like the separation of the fruit from the
tree or the child from the parent. But Smith, shunning all such
misleading metaphors, held that there need never be any occasion for
separation as long as mother country and dependency were wise enough
to keep together, and that the sound policy to adopt was really the
policy of closer union--of imperial federation, as we should now call
it. He would not say, "Perish dependencies," but "Incorporate them."
He would treat a colony as but a natural expansion of the territory of
the kingdom, and have its inhabitants enjoy the same rights and bear
the same burdens as other citizens. He did not think it wrong to tax
the Colonies; on the contrary, he would make them pay every tax the
inhabitants of Great Britain had to pay; but he thought it wrong to
put restrictions on their commerce from which the commerce of Great
Britain was free, and he thought it wrong to tax them for imperial
purposes without giving them representation in the Imperial
Parliament--full and equal representation, "bearing the same
proportion to the produce of their taxes as the representation of
Great Britain might bear to the produce of the taxes levied upon Great
Britain." The union he contemplated was to be more than federal; it
was to preclude home rule by local assemblies; it was to be like the
union which had been established with Scotland, and which he strongly
desired to see established with Ireland; and the Imperial Parliament
in London was to make laws for the local affairs of the provinces
across the Atlantic exactly as it made laws for the local affairs of
the province across the Tweed. He shrank from none of the consequences
of his scheme, admitting even that when the Colonies grew in
population and wealth, as grow they must, till the real centre of
empire changed, the time would then arrive when the American members
of the Imperial Parliament would far outnumber the British, and the
seat of Parliament itself would require to be transferred from London
to some Constantinople on the other side of the Atlantic.

He was quite sensible that this scheme of his would be thought wild
and called a "new Utopia," but he was not one of those who counted the
old Utopia of Sir Thomas More to be either useless or chimerical, and
he says that this Utopia of his own is "no more useless or chimerical
than the old one." The difficulties it would encounter came, he says,
"not from the nature of things, but from the prejudices and opinions
of the people both on this and on the other side of the Atlantic." He
held, moreover, very strongly that a union of this kind was the only
means of making the Colonies a useful factor instead of a showy and
expensive appendage of the empire, and the only alternative that could
really prevent their total separation from Great Britain. He pleaded
for union, too, not merely for the salvation of the Colonies to the
mother country, but even more for the salvation of the Colonies to
themselves. Separation merely meant mediocrity for Great Britain, but
for the Colonies it meant ruin. There would no longer be any check on
the spirit of rancorous and virulent faction which was always
inseparable from small democracies. The coercive power of the mother
country had hitherto prevented the colonial factions from breaking out
into anything worse than brutality and insult, but if that coercive
power were entirely taken away they would probably soon break out into
open violence and bloodshed.[243]

The event has falsified the last anticipation, but this is not the
place to criticise Smith's scheme. It was only requisite to recall for
a moment the ideas which, according to the Duke of Buccleugh's
statement to Hume, Smith was at this time so zealously working for in
the important circles in which he then moved in London.


[229] _Hume MSS._, R.S.E. Library.

[230] Add. MSS., 32,336. It must have been during this period that
Smith entertained Reynolds at dinner at Mrs. Hill's, Dartmouth Street,
Westminster, on Sunday 11th March, and not, as Mr. Tom Taylor places
it, in 1764, from finding the dinner engagement noted on "a tiny
old-fashioned card bearing the name of 'Mr. Adam Smith'" lying in one
of Reynolds' pocket-books for 1764. In March 1764 Smith, as we know,
was in France, and Mr. Taylor must have mistaken the year for 1774,
unless, indeed, it may have been 1767.

[231] Walpole's _Letters_, vi. 302.

[232] Watson's _Annals of Philadelphia_, i. 533.

[233] See above, pp. 256-7.

[234] Parton's _Life of Franklin_, i. 537.

[235] _Hume MSS._, R.S.E. Library.

[236] Playfair's edition of _Wealth of Nations_, I. xiii.

[237] Clayden's _Early Life of Samuel Rogers_, p. 168.

[238] _Works_, v. 519.

[239] Taylor's _Records of my Life_, ii. 262.

[240] Thomson's _Life of Cullen_, i. 481.

[241] Notes of S. Rogers' Conversation. Add. MSS., 32, 571.

[242] Burton's _Life of Hume_, ii. 483.

[243] _Wealth of Nations_, Book V. chap. iii.



1776. _Aet._ 52

The _Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations_ was
at length published on the 9th of March 1776. Bishop Horne, one of
Smith's antagonists, of whom we shall presently hear more, said the
books which live longest are those which have been carried longest in
the womb of the parent. The _Wealth of Nations_ took twelve years to
write, and was in contemplation for probably twelve years before that.
It was explicitly and publicly promised in 1759, in the concluding
paragraph of the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, though it is only the
partial fulfilment of that promise.

The promise is: "I shall in another discourse endeavour to give an
account of the general principles of law and government, and of the
different revolutions they have undergone in the different ages and
periods of society, not only in what concerns justice, but in what
concerns policy revenue and arms, and whatever else is the object of
law." In speaking of this promise in the preface of the sixth edition
of the _Theory_ in 1790, Smith says, "In the _Inquiry concerning the
Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations_ I have partially executed
this promise, at least so far as concerns policy revenue and arms."
Now doubtless when Smith began writing his book in Toulouse he began
it on the large plan originally in contemplation, and some part of the
long delay that took place in its composition is probably to be
explained by the fact that he would have possibly been a considerable
time at work before he determined to break his book in two, and push
on meanwhile with the section on policy revenue and arms, leaving to a
separate publication in the future his discussion of the theory of

The work was published in two vols. 4to, at the price of £1:16s. in
boards, and the author uses this time all his honours on the
title-page, describing himself as Adam Smith, LL.D. and F.R.S.,
formerly Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Glasgow.
What was the extent of this edition, or the terms, as between author
and publisher, on which it was put out, is not exactly known. The
terms were not half-profits, for that arrangement is proposed by Smith
for the second edition as if it were a new one, and is accepted in the
same way by Strahan, who in a letter which I shall presently quote,
pronounces it a "very fair" proposal, "and therefore very agreeable to
Mr. Cadell and me"; nor was it printed for the author, for the
presentation copies he gave away were deducted from the copy money he
received. On the whole, it seems most probable that the book was
purchased from him for a definite sum, and as he mentions in his
letter of the 13th November 1776 that he had received, £300 of his
money at that time, and had still a balance owing to him, one may
reasonably conjecture that the full sum was £500--the same sum
Cadell's firm had paid for the last economic work they had undertaken,
Sir James Steuart's _Inquiry into the Principles of Political

The book sold well. The first edition, of whose extent, however, we
are ignorant, was exhausted in six months, and the sale was from the
first better than the publishers expected, for on the 12th of April,
when it had only been a month out, Strahan takes notice of a remark of
David Hume that Smith's book required too much thought to be as
popular as Gibbon's, and states, "What you say of Mr. Gibbon's and Dr.
Smith's book is exactly just. The former is the most popular work;
but the sale of the latter, though not near so rapid, has been more
than I could have expected from a work that requires much thought and
reflection (qualities that do not abound among modern readers) to
peruse to any purpose."[244] The sale is the more remarkable because
it was scarce to any degree helped on by reviews, favourable or
otherwise. The book was not noticed at all, for example, in the
_Gentleman's Magazine_, and it was allowed only two pages in the
_Annual Register_, while in the same number Watson's _History of
Philip_ got sixteen. This review of the book, however, was probably
written by Burke.

Smith speaks in one of his letters to Strahan of having distributed
numerous presentation copies. One of the first of these was of course
sent to his old friend David Hume, and that copy, by the way, with its
inscription, probably still exists, having been possessed for a time
by the late Mr. Babbage. Hume acknowledged receipt of it in the
following letter, which shows among other things that not even Hume
had seen the manuscript of the book before publication:--

     EDINBURGH, _1st April 1776_.

     EUGE! BELLE! DEAR MR. SMITH--I am much pleased with your
     performance, and the perusal of it has taken me from a state
     of great anxiety. It was a work of so much expectation, by
     yourself, by your friends, and by the public, that I
     trembled for its appearance, but am now much relieved. Not
     but that the reading of it necessarily requires so much
     attention, and the public is disposed to give so little that
     I shall still doubt for some time of its being at first very
     popular, but it has depth and solidity and acuteness, and is
     so much illustrated by curious facts that it must at last
     attract the public attention. It is probably much improved
     by your last abode in London. If you were here at my
     fireside, I should dispute some of your principles. I cannot
     think that the rent of farms makes any part of the price of
     the produce, but that the price is determined altogether by
     the quantity and the demand. It appears to me impossible
     that the King of France can take a seignorage of 8 per cent
     upon the coinage. Nobody would bring bullion to the mint, it
     would be all sent to Holland or England, where it might be
     coined and sent back to France for less than 2 per cent.
     Accordingly Necker says that the French king takes only 2
     per cent of seignorage. But these and a hundred other points
     are fit only to be discussed in conversation, which till you
     tell me the contrary I still flatter myself with soon. I
     hope it will be soon, for I am in a very bad state of health
     and cannot afford a long delay. I fancy you are acquainted
     with Mr. Gibbon. I like his performance extremely, and have
     ventured to tell him that had I not been personally
     acquainted with him I should never have expected such an
     excellent work from the pen of an Englishman. It is
     lamentable to consider how much that nation has declined in
     literature during our time. I hope he did not take amiss
     this national reflection.

     All your friends here are in deep grief at present for the
     death of Baron Mure, which is an irreparable loss to our
     society. He was among the oldest and best friends I had in
     the world.[245]

On the same day as Hume wrote this letter from Edinburgh, Gibbon wrote
from London to Adam Ferguson and said among other things, "What an
excellent work is that with which our common friend Mr. Adam Smith has
enriched the public! An extensive science in a single book, and the
most profound ideas expressed in the most perspicuous language. He
proposes visiting you very soon, and I find he means to exert his most
strenuous endeavours to persuade Mr. Hume to return with him to town.
I am sorry to hear that the health and spirits of that truly great man
are in a less favourable state than his friends could wish, and I am
sure you will join your efforts in convincing him of the benefits of
exercise, dissipation, and change of air."

Some of Smith's personal friends seem to have entertained the common
prejudice that a good work on commerce could not be reasonably
expected from a man who had never been engaged in any branch of
practical business, and seemed in outward air and appearance so ill
fitted to succeed in such a line of business if he had engaged in it.
One of these was Sir John Pringle, President of the Royal Society, and
formerly, like Smith himself, Professor of Moral Philosophy at a
Scotch university. When the _Wealth of Nations_ appeared Sir John
Pringle remarked to Boswell that Smith, having never been in trade,
could not be expected to write well on that subject any more than a
lawyer upon physic, and Boswell repeated the remark to Johnson, who at
once, however, sent it to the winds. "He is mistaken, sir," said the
Doctor; "a man who has never been engaged in trade himself may
undoubtedly write well upon trade, and there is nothing that requires
more to be illustrated by philosophy than does trade. As to mere
wealth--that is to say, money--it is clear that one nation or one
individual cannot increase its store but by making another poorer; but
trade procures what is more valuable, the reciprocation of the
peculiar advantages of different countries. A merchant seldom thinks
but of his own particular trade. To write a good book upon it a man
must have extensive views; it is not necessary to have practised to
write well upon a subject."

It is not within the scope of a work like the present to give an
account of the doctrines of the _Wealth of Nations_, or any estimate
of their originality or value, or of their influence on the progress
of science, on the policy and prosperity of nations, or on the
practical happiness of mankind. Buckle, as we know, declared it to be
"in its ultimate results probably the most important book that has
ever been written"; a book, he said, which has "done more towards the
happiness of man than has been effected by the united abilities of all
the statesmen and legislators of whom history has preserved an
authentic account";[246] and even those who take the most sober view
of the place of this work in history readily admit that its public
career, which is far from being ended yet, is a very remarkable story
of successive conquest.

It has been seriously asserted that the fortune of the book in this
country was made by Fox quoting it one day in the House of Commons.
But this happened in November 1783, after the book had already gone
through two editions and was on the eve of appearing in a third. It is
curious, however, that that was the first time it was quoted in the
House, and it is curious, again, that the person to quote it then was
Fox, who was neither an admirer of the book, nor a believer in its
principles, nor a lover of its subject. He once told Charles Butler
that he had never read the book, and the remark must have been made
many years after its publication, for it was made at St. Anne's Hill,
to which Fox only went in 1785. "There is something in all these
subjects," the statesman added in explanation, "which passes my
comprehension; something so wide that I could never embrace them
myself nor find any one who did."[247] On another occasion, when he
was dining one evening in 1796 at Sergeant Heywood's, Fox showed his
hearty disdain for Smith and political economy together. The Earl of
Lauderdale, who was himself an economist of great ability, and by no
means a blind follower of Smith, made the remark that we knew nothing
of political economy before Adam Smith wrote. "Pooh," said Fox, "your
Adam Smiths are nothing, but" (he added, turning to the company) "that
is his love; we must spare him there." "I think," replied Lauderdale,
"he is everything." "That," rejoined Fox, "is a great proof of your
affection." Fox was no believer in free trade, and actively opposed
the Commercial Treaty with France in 1787 on the express and most
illiberal ground that it proceeded from a novel system of doctrines,
that it was a dangerous departure from the established principles of
our forefathers, and that France and England were enemies by nature,
and ought to be kept enemies by legislation.

It is curious therefore that in a House where Smith had many admirers
and not a few disciples, his book was never mentioned for near eight
years after its appearance, and was mentioned then by an enemy of its
principles. Fox's quotation from it on that occasion was of the most
unimportant character. It was in his speech on the Address of Thanks
to the Throne, and he said: "There was a maxim laid down in an
excellent book upon the Wealth of Nations which had been ridiculed for
its simplicity, but which was indisputable as to its truth. In that
book it was stated that the only way to become rich was to manage
matters so as to make one's income exceed one's expenses. This maxim
applied equally to an individual and to a nation. The proper line of
conduct therefore was by a well-directed economy to retrench every
current expense, and to make as large a saving during the peace as
possible."[248] To think of this allusion having any influence on the
fortunes of the work is of course out of reason. It was never even
mentioned in the House again till the year 1787, when Mr. Robert
Thornton invoked it in support of the Commercial Treaty with France,
and Mr. George Dempster read an extract from it in the debate on the
proposal to farm the post-horse duties. It was quoted once in 1788, by
Mr. Hussy on the Wool Exportation Bill, and not referred to again
until Pitt introduced his Budget on the 17th February 1792. In then
explaining the progressive accumulation of capital that was always
spontaneously going on in a country when it was not checked by
calamity or by vicious legislation, that great minister, a deep
student of Smith's book and the most convinced of all Smith's
disciples, made the remark: "Simple and obvious as this principle is,
and felt and observed as it must have been in a greater or less degree
even from the earliest periods, I doubt whether it has ever been fully
developed and sufficiently explained but in the writings of an author
of our own time, now unfortunately no more (I mean the author of the
celebrated treatise on the _Wealth of Nations_), whose extensive
knowledge of detail and depth of philosophical research will, I
believe, furnish the best solution of every question connected with
the history of commerce and with the system of political
economy."[249] In the same year it was quoted by Mr. Whitbread and by
Fox (from the exposition of the division of labour in the first book)
in the debate on the armament against Russia, and by Wilberforce in
his speech introducing his Bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

It was not mentioned in the House of Lords till 1793, when in the
debate on the King's Message for an Augmentation of the Forces it was
referred to by Smith's two old friends, the Earl of Shelburne (now
Marquis of Lansdowne) and Alexander Wedderburn (now Lord Loughborough,
and presiding over the House as Lord Chancellor, of England). The
Marquis of Lansdowne said: "With respect to French principles, as they
had been denominated, those principles had been exported from us to
France, and could not be said to have originated among the population
of the latter country. The new principles of government founded on the
abolition of the old feudal system were originally propagated among us
by the Dean of Gloucester, Mr. Tucker, and had since been more
generally inculcated by Dr. Adam Smith in his work on the _Wealth of
Nations_, which had been recommended as a book necessary for the
information of youth by Mr. Dugald Stewart in his _Elements of the
Philosophy of the Human Mind_." The Lord Chancellor in replying merely
said that "in the works of Dean Tucker, Adam Smith, and Mr. Stewart,
to which allusion had been made, no doctrines inimical to the
principles of civil government, the morals or religion of mankind,
were contained, and therefore to trace the errors of the French to
these causes was manifestly fallacious."[250]

Lord Lansdowne's endeavour to shield Smith's political orthodoxy under
the countenance lent to his book by so safe and trusted a teacher of
the sons of the Whig nobility as Dugald Stewart, is hardly less
curious than his unreserved identification of the new political
economy with that moving cloud of ideas which, under the name of
French principles, excited so much alarm in the public mind of that
time. For Dugald Stewart was in that same year 1793 (on the evenings
of 21st January and 18th March) reading his _Memoir of Adam Smith_ to
the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and he tells us himself (in 1810) how
he was compelled to abandon the idea of giving a long account of
Smith's opinions which he intended to have done, because at that
period, he says, "it was not unusual, even among men of some talents
and information, to confound studiously the speculative doctrines of
political economy with those discussions concerning the first
principles of government, which happened unfortunately at that time to
agitate the public mind. The doctrine of a Free Trade was itself
represented as of a revolutionary tendency, and some who had formerly
prided themselves on their intimacy with Mr. Smith, and on their zeal
for the propagation of his liberal system, began to call in question
the expediency of subjecting to the disputation of philosophers the
arcana of State policy, and the unfathomable wisdom of feudal
ages."[251] People's teeth had been so set on edge by the events in
France that, as Lord Cockburn tells us, when Stewart first began to
give a course of lectures in the University on political economy in
the winter 1801-2, the mere term "political economy" made them start.
"They thought it included questions touching the constitution of
governments, and not a few hoped to catch Stewart in dangerous

The French Revolution seems to have checked for a time the growing
vogue of Smith's book and the advance of his principles in this
country, just as it checked the progress of parliamentary and social
reform, because it filled men's mind with a fear of change, with a
suspicion of all novelty, with an unreasoning dislike of anything in
the nature of a general principle. By French principles the public
understood, it is true, much more than the abolition of all commercial
and agrarian privilege which was advocated by Smith, but in their
recoil they made no fine distinctions, and they naturally felt their
prejudices strongly confirmed when they found men like the Marquis of
Lansdowne, who were believers in the so-called French principles and
believers at the same time in the principles of Adam Smith, declaring
that the two things were substantially the same. Whether and how far
Smith or Tucker had any influence on that development of opinion which
eventuated in the Revolution, it would be difficult to gauge. Before
Lord Lansdowne made this speech in 1793 two different translations of
the _Wealth of Nations_ into French had already been published; a
third (by the Abbé Morellet) had been written but not published, and a
fourth was possibly under way, for it appeared in a few years. The
first and worst of these translations, moreover (Blavet's), had
already gone through three separate editions, after having originally
run through a periodical in monthly sections for two years. These are
all tokens that the work was unquestionably influencing French

But if the French Revolution stopped for a time, as is most likely,
the onward advance of Smith's free-trade principles, it does not seem
to have exercised the same effect on the actual sale of the book. I do
not know whether the successive editions were uniform in number of
copies, but as many editions of the _Wealth of Nations_--four English
and one Irish--appeared between the years 1791 and 1799 as between the
years 1776 and 1786, and since none was called for from 1786 till
1791, the edition of 1786 took longer to sell off than the subsequent
editions of 1791, 1793, and 1796. It is quite possible--indeed it is
only natural--that the wave of active antagonism which, according to
Stewart's testimony, rose against the principles of the book after the
outbreak of the French Revolution would have helped on the sale of
the book itself by keeping it more constantly under public attention,
discussion, and, if you will, vituperation. The fortune of a book,
like that of a public man, is often made by its enemies.

But the very early influence of the _Wealth of Nations_ in the English
political world is established by much better proofs than quotations
in Parliament. It had actually shaped parts of the policy of the
country years before it was ever publicly alluded to in either House.
The very first budget after its publication bore its marks. Lord North
was then on the outlook for fresh and comparatively unburdensome means
of increasing the revenue, and obtained valuable assistance from the
_Wealth of Nations_. He imposed two new taxes in 1777, of which he got
the idea there; one on man-servants, and the other on property sold by
auction. And the budget of 1778 owed still more important features to
Smith's suggestions, for it introduced the inhabited house duty so
strongly recommended by him, and the malt tax.[253] Then in the
following year 1779 we find Smith consulted by statesmen like Dundas
and the Earl of Carlisle on the pressing and anxious question of
giving Ireland free trade. His answers still exist, and will appear
later on in this work.[254]


[244] _Hume MSS._, R.S.E.

[245] Burton's _Life of Hume_, ii. 487.

[246] Buckle's _History of Civilisation_, ed. 1869, i. 214.

[247] Butler's _Reminiscences_, i. 176.

[248] _Parliamentary History_, xxiii. 1152.

[249] _Parliamentary History_, xxix. 834.

[250] _Ibid._, xxx. 330, 334.

[251] Stewart's _Works_, x. 87.

[252] Cockburn's _Memorials of My Own Time_, p. 174.

[253] See Dowell's _Taxation_, ii. 169.

[254] See below, pp. 350, 352.




After the publication of his book in the beginning of March, Smith
still dallied in London, without taking any steps to carry out his
plan of going to see Hume in Edinburgh and bring him up to London. But
some hope seems to have been entertained of Hume coming up even
without Smith's persuasion and escort. John Home, who was in London
and was in correspondence with him, thought so, but he at length
received a direct negative to the idea in a letter from Hume himself,
written on the 12th of April; and then Smith and John Home set out
together immediately for the northern capital, but when the coach
stopped at Morpeth, whom should they see standing in the door of the
inn but Colin, their friend's servant? Hume had determined to
undertake the journey to London after all to consult Sir John Pringle,
and was now so far on his way. John Home thereupon accompanied Hume
back to London, but Smith, having heard of his mother being taken ill,
and being anxious about her, as she was now over eighty years old,
continued his journey on to Kirkcaldy. At Morpeth, however, he and
Hume had time to discuss the question of the publication, in the event
of Hume's death, of certain of his unpublished works. Hume had already
on the 4th of January 1776 made Smith his literary executor by will,
leaving him full power over all his papers except the _Dialogues on
Natural Religion_, which he explicitly desired him to publish. It was
years since this work had been written, but its publication had been
deferred in submission to the representations of Sir Gilbert Elliot
and other friends as to the annoying clamour it was sure to excite.
Its author, however, had never ceased to cherish a peculiar paternal
pride in the work, and now that his serious illness forced him to face
the possibility of its extinction, he resolved at last to save it from
that fate, clamour or no clamour. If he lived, he would publish it
himself; if he died, he charged his executor to do so.

But this was a duty for which Smith had no mind. He was opposed to the
publication of these _Dialogues_ on general grounds and under any
editorship whatever, as will appear in the course of the
correspondence which follows, but he had also personal scruples
against editing them, of the same character as those which had already
so long prevented their author himself from publishing them. He shrank
from the public clamour in which it would involve him, and the injury
it might do to his prospects of preferment from the Crown. When he met
Hume at Morpeth accordingly he laid his mind fully before his friend,
and the result was that Hume agreed to leave the whole question of
publication or no publication absolutely to Smith's discretion, and on
reaching London sent Smith a formal letter of authority empowering him
to deal with the _Dialogues_ as he judged best.

     LONDON, _3rd May 1776_.

     MY DEAR FRIEND--I send you enclosed a new ostensible letter,
     conformably to your desire. I think, however, your scruples
     groundless. Was Mallet anywise hurt by his publication of
     Lord Bolingbroke? He received an office afterwards from the
     present king and Lord Bute, the most prudent men in the
     world, and he always justified himself by his sacred regard
     to the will of a dead friend. At the same time I own that
     your scruples have a specious appearance, but my opinion is
     that if upon my death you determine never to publish these
     papers, you should leave them sealed up with my brother and
     family, with some inscription that you reserve to yourself
     the power of reclaiming them whenever you think proper. If I
     live a few years longer I shall publish them myself. I
     consider an observation of Rochefoucault that the wind,
     though it extinguishes a candle, blows up a fire.

     You may be surprised to hear me talk of living years,
     considering the state you saw me in and the sentiments both
     I and all my friends at Edinburgh entertained on that
     subject. But though I cannot come up entirely to the
     sanguine notions of our friend John, I find myself very much
     recovered on the road, and I hope Bath waters and further
     journies may effect my cure.

     By the little company I have seen I find the town very full
     of your book, which meets with general approbation. Many
     people think particular parts disputable, but this you
     certainly expected. I am glad that I am one of the number,
     as these parts will be the subject of future conversation
     between us. I set out for Bath, I believe, on Monday, by Sir
     John Pringle's directions. He says that he sees nothing to
     be apprehended in my case. If you write to me (hem! hem!)--I
     say if you write to me, send your letter under cover to Mr.
     Strahan, who will have my direction.[255]

The ostensible letter which accompanied the other is--

     LONDON, _3rd May 1776_.

     MY DEAR SIR--After reflecting more maturely on that article
     of my will by which I leave you the disposal of all my
     papers, with a request that you should publish my _Dialogues
     concerning Natural Religion_, I have become sensible that
     both on account of the nature of the work and of your
     situation it may be improper to hurry on that publication. I
     therefore take the present opportunity of qualifying that
     friendly request. I am content to leave it entirely to your
     discretion at what time you will publish that piece, or
     whether you will publish it at all.

     You will find among my papers a very inoffensive piece
     called "My Own Life," which I composed a few days before I
     left Edinburgh, when I thought, as did all my friends, that
     my life was despaired of. There can be no objection that the
     small piece should be sent to Messrs. Strahan and Cadell and
     the proprietors of my other works, to be prefixed to any
     future edition of them.[256]

The ink of those letters was scarcely dry before Hume's heart softened
again towards his _Dialogues_, and in order to make more sure of their
eventual publication than he could feel while they were entrusted to
Smith's hands, he wrote Strahan from Bath on the 8th of June asking if
he would agree to act as literary executor and undertake the editing
and publishing of the work. In this letter he says: "I have hitherto
forborne to publish it because I was of late desirous to live quietly
and keep remote from all clamour, for though it be not more
exceptionable than some things I had formerly published, yet you know
some of them were thought exceptionable, and in prudence perhaps I
ought to have suppressed them. I there introduce a sceptic who is
indeed refuted and at last gives up the argument; nay, confesses that
he was only amusing himself by all his cavils, yet before he is
silenced he advances several topics which will give umbrage and will
be deemed for bold and free as well as much out of the common road. As
soon as I arrive at Edinburgh I intend to print a small edition of
500, of which I may give away about 100 in presents, and shall make
you the property of the whole, provided you have no scruple, in your
present situation, of being the editor. It is not necessary you should
prefix any name to the Title-page. I seriously declare that after Mr.
Miller and you and Mr. Cadell have publicly avowed your publication of
the _Inquiry concerning Human Understanding_, I know no reason why you
should have the least scruple with regard to these _Dialogues_. They
will be much less obnoxious to the Law and not more exposed to popular
clamour. Whatever your resolution be, I beg you would keep an entire
silence on this subject. If I leave them to you by will, your
executing the desire of a dead friend will render the publication
still more excusable. Mallet never suffered anything by being the
editor of Bolingbroke's works."[257]

Strahan agreed to undertake this duty, and Hume on the 12th of June
added a codicil to his will making Strahan his literary executor and
entire master of all his manuscripts. Hume, however, got rapidly worse
in health, so that he never printed the small edition he spoke of, and
feeling his end to be near, he added a fresh codicil to his will on
the 7th of August, desiring Strahan to publish the _Dialogues_ within
two years, and adding that if they were not published in two years and
a half the property should return to his nephew (afterwards Baron of
Exchequer), "whose duty," he says, "in publishing them, as the last
request of his uncle, must be approved of by all the world."[258]

Hume had meanwhile on the 4th of July 1776 gathered his group of more
intimate friends about him to eat together a last farewell dinner
before he made the great departure. Smith was present at this touching
and unusual reunion, and may possibly have remained some days
thereafter, for he speaks in a letter in the following month of having
had several conversations with Hume lately, among them being that
which he afterwards published in his letter to Strahan. But he was in
Kirkcaldy again in the beginning of August, and received there on the
22nd of August the following letter which Hume had written on the
15th, and which, having gone, through some mistake, by the carrier
instead of the post, had lain for a week at the carrier's house
without being delivered. The delay occasioned by this accident was the
more unfortunate on account of the earnest appeal for an early answer
with which the letter closes, and which seems to contain a
recollection of many past transgressions, for Smith was always a
dilatory and backward correspondent, the act of writing, as he
repeatedly mentions, being a real pain to him.

     EDINBURGH, _15th August 1776_.

     MY DEAR SMITH--I have ordered a new copy of my _Dialogues_
     to be made besides that wh. will be sent to Mr. Strahan,
     and to be kept by my nephew. If you will permit me, I shall
     order a third copy to be made and consigned to you. It will
     bind you to nothing, but will serve as a security. On
     revising them (which I have not done these five years) I
     find that nothing can be more cautiously and more artfully
     written. You had certainly forgotten them. Will you permit
     me to leave you the property of the copy, in case they
     should not be published in five years after my decease? Be
     so good as write me an answer soon. My state of health does
     not permit me to wait months for it.--Yours affectionately,

     DAVID HUME.[259]

To this letter Smith, immediately on receiving it, sent the following

     KIRKALDY, _22nd August 1776_.

     MY DEAREST FRIEND--I have this moment received yr. letter of
     the 15th inst. You had, in order to save me the sum of one
     penny sterling, sent it by the carrier instead of the Post,
     and (if you have not mistaken the date) it has lain at his
     quarters these eight days, and was, I presume, very likely
     to lie there for ever.

     I shall be very happy to receive a copy of your _Dialogues_,
     and if I should happen to die before they are published, I
     shall take care that my copy shall be as carefully preserved
     as if I was to live a hundred years. With regard to leaving
     me the property in case they are not published within five
     years after yr. decease, you may do as you think proper. I
     think, however, you should not menace Strahan with the loss
     of anything, in case he does not publish yr. work within a
     certain time. There is no probability of his delaying it,
     and if anything could make him delay it, it wd. be a clause
     of this kind, wh. wd. give him an honourable pretence for
     doing so. It would then be said I had published, for the
     sake of an emolument, not from respect to the memory of my
     friend, what even a printer, for the sake of the same
     emolument, had not published. That Strahan is sufficiently
     jealous you will see by the enclosed letter, wh. I will beg
     the favour of you to return to me, but by the Post, and not
     by the carrier.

     If you will give me leave I will add a few lines to yr.
     account of your own life, giving some account in my own name
     of your behaviour in this illness, if, contrary to my own
     hopes, it should prove your last. Some conversations we had
     lately together, particularly that concerning your want of
     an excuse to make to Charon, the excuse you at last thought
     of, and the very bad reception wh. Charon was likely to give
     it, would, I imagine, make no disagreeable part of the
     history. You have in a declining state of health, under an
     exhausting disease, for more than two years together now
     looked at the approach of death with a steady cheerfulness
     such as very few men have been able to maintain for a few
     hours, tho' otherwise in the most perfect Health.

     I shall likewise, if you give me leave, correct the sheets
     of the new edition of your works, and shall take care that
     it shall be published exactly according to your last
     corrections. As I shall be at London this winter, it will
     cost me very little trouble.

     All this I have written upon the supposition that the event
     of yr. disease should prove different from what I still hope
     it may do. For your spirits are so good, the spirit of life
     is still so very strong in you, and the progress of your
     disorder is so slow and gradual, that I still hope it may
     take a turn. Even the cool and steady Dr. Black, by a letter
     I received from him last week, seems not to be averse to the
     same hopes.

     I hope I need not repeat to you that I am ready to wait on
     you whenever you wish to see me. Whenever you do so I hope
     you will not scruple to call on me. I beg to be remembered
     in the kindest and most respectful manner to yr. Brother,
     your sister, your nephew, and all other friends.--I ever am,
     my dearest friend, most affectionately yours,

     ADAM SMITH.[260]

Hume answered this letter next day.

     EDINBURGH, _23rd August 1776_.

     MY DEAREST FRIEND--I am obliged to make use of my nephew's
     hand in writing to you, as I do not rise to-day.

     There is no man in whom I have a greater confidence than Mr.
     Strahan, yet I have left the property of that manuscript to
     my nephew David, in case by any accident it should not be
     published within three years after my decease. The only
     accident I could foresee was one to Mr. Strahan's life, and
     without this clause my nephew would have had no right to
     publish it. Be so good as to inform Mr. Strahan of this

     You are too good in thinking any trifles that concern me are
     so much worth of your attention, but I give you entire
     liberty to make what additions you please to the account of
     my life.

     I go very fast to decline, and last night had a small fever,
     wh. I hoped might put a quicker period to this tedious
     illness, but unluckily it has in a great measure gone off. I
     cannot submit to your coming over here on my account, as it
     is possible for me to see you so small a portion of the day,
     but Dr. Black can better inform you concerning the degree of
     strength which may from time to time remain with me.--Adieu,
     my dearest friend,


     _P.S._--It was a strange blunder to send yr. letter by the

These were the last words of this long and memorable friendship. Two
days after they were written Hume passed peacefully away, and his
bones were laid in the new cemetery on the Calton Crags, and covered a
little later, according to his own express provision, with that great
round tower, designed by Robert Adam, which Smith once pointed out to
the Earl of Dunmore as they were walking together down the North
Bridge, and said, "I don't like that monument; it is the greatest
piece of vanity I ever saw in my friend Hume."

Smith was no doubt at the funeral, and seems to have been present when
the will was read, and to have had some conversation about it with
Hume's elder brother, John Home of Ninewells,[262] for on the 31st of
August he writes from Dalkeith House, where he had gone on a visit to
his old pupil, discharging Ninewells of any obligation to pay the
legacy of £200 which he had been left by Hume in consideration of
acting as his literary executor, and which had not been revoked in the
codicil superseding him by Strahan. This legacy Smith felt that he
could not in the circumstances honourably accept, and he consequently
lost no time in forwarding to Ninewells the following letter:--

     DALKEITH HOUSE, _31st August 1776_.

     DEAR SIR--As the Duke proposes to stay here till Thursday
     next I may not have an opportunity of seeing you before yr.
     return to Ninewells. I therefore take the opportunity of
     discharging you and all others concerned of the Legacy which
     you was so good as to think might upon a certain event
     become due to me by your Brother's will, but which I think
     could upon no event become so, viz. the legacy of two
     hundred pounds sterling. I hereby therefore discharge it for
     ever, and least this discharge should be lost I shall be
     careful to mention it in a note at the bottom of my will. I
     shall be glad to hear that you have received this letter,
     and hope you will believe me to be, both on yr. Brother's
     account and your own, with great truth, most affectionately


     _P.S._--I do not hereby mean to discharge the other Legacy,
     viz. that of a copy of his works.[263]

Mr. Home answered him on the 2nd of September as follows:--

     DEAR SIR--I was favoured with yours of Saturday, and I
     assure you that on perusing the destination I was more of
     oppinion than when I saw you that the pecuniary part of it
     was not altered by the codicil, and that it was intended for
     you at all events, that my brother, knowing your liberal way
     of thinking, laid on you something as an equivalent, not
     imagining you would refuse a small gratuity from the hands
     it was to come from as a testimony of his friendship, and
     tho' I most highly esteem the motives and manner, I cannot
     agree to accept of your renunciation, but leave you full
     master to dispose of it which way is most agreeable to you.

     The copys of the _Dialogues_ are finished, and of the life,
     and will be sent to Mr. Strahan to-morrow, and I will
     mention to him your intention of adding to the last
     something to finish so valuable a life, and will leave you
     at liberty to look into the correction of the first as it
     either answers your leisure or ideas with regard to his
     composition or what effects you think it may have with
     regard to yourself. The two copys intended for you will be
     left with my sister when you please to require them, and the
     copy of the new edition of his works you shall be sure to
     receive, tho' you have, no better title to that part than
     the other, tho' much you have to the friendship and esteem,
     dr. sir, of him who is most sincerely yours,


     EDINBURGH, _2nd September 1776_.[264]

Smith's reply was that though the legacy might be due to him in strict
law, he was fully satisfied it was not due to him in justice, because
it was expressly given in the will as a reward for a task which he had
declined to undertake. This reply was given in a letter of the 7th
October, in which he enclosed a copy of the account of Hume's death
which he proposed to add to his friend's own account of his life.

     DEAR SIR--I send you under the same cover with this letter
     what I propose should be added to the account which your
     never-to-be-forgotten brother has left of his own life. When
     you have read it I beg you will return it to me, and at the
     same time let me know if you wd. wish to have anything
     either added to it or taken from it. I think there is a
     propriety in addressing it as a letter to Mr. Strahan, to
     whom he has left the care of his works. If you approve of it
     I shall send it to him as soon as I receive it from you.

     I have added at the bottom of my will the note discharging
     the legacy of two hundred pounds which your brother was so
     kind as to leave me. Upon the most mature deliberation I am
     fully satisfied that in justice it is not due to me. Tho' it
     should be due to me therefore in strict law, I cannot with
     honour accept of it. You will easily believe that my refusal
     does not proceed from any want of the highest respect for
     the memory of your deceased brother.--I have the honour to
     be, with the highest respect and esteem, dear sir, most
     sincerely and affectionately yours,


     KIRKALDY, FIFESHIRE, _7th October 1776_.[265]

Mr. Home returned Smith's manuscript to him on the 14th of October,
and expressed his entire approbation of it except "that as it is to be
added to what is wrote in so short and simple a manner, he would have
wished that the detail had been less minutely entered into,
particularly of the journey which, being of a private concern and
having drawn to no consequences, does not interest the publick," but
still he expressed that opinion, he said, with diffidence, and
thought the piece would perhaps best stand as it was. He says, too,
that instead of the words, "as my worst enemies could wish" in the
remark to Dr. Dundas, he was told that the words his brother actually
used were, "as my enemies, if I have any, could wish"--a correction
which was adopted by Smith. And he repeats that by his interpretation
of his brother's will he considers the legacy to belong to Smith both
in law and in equity.

Meanwhile Smith had also written Strahan from Dalkeith:--

     MY DEAR STRAHAN--By a codicil to the will of our late most
     valuable friend Mr. Hume, the care of his manuscripts is
     left to you. Both from his will and from his conversation I
     understand that there are only two which he meant should be
     published--an account of his life and _Dialogues concerning
     Natural Religion_. The latter, tho' finely written, I could
     have wished had remained in manuscript to be communicated
     only to a few people. When you read the work you will see my
     reasons without my giving you the trouble of reading them in
     a letter. But he has ordered it otherwise. In case of their
     not being published within three years after his decease, he
     has left the property of them to his nephew. Upon my
     objecting to this clause as unnecessary and improper, he
     wrote to me by his nephew's hand in the following terms:
     "There is no man in whom I have a greater confidence than
     Mr. Strahan, yet have I left the property of that manuscript
     to my nephew David, in case by any accident they should not
     be published within three years after my decease. The only
     accident I could foresee was one to Mr. Strahan's life, and
     without this clause my nephew would have had no right to
     publish it. Be so good as inform Mr. Strahan of this
     circumstance." Thus far this letter, which was dated on the
     23rd of August. He dyed on the 25th at 4 o'clock afternoon.
     I once had persuaded him to leave it entirely to my
     discretion either to publish them at what time I thought
     proper, or not to publish them at all. Had he continued of
     this mind the manuscript should have been most carefully
     preserved, and upon my decease restored to his family; but
     it never should have been published in my lifetime. When you
     have read it you will perhaps think it not unreasonable to
     consult some prudent friend about what you ought to do.

     I propose to add to his Life a very well authenticated
     account of his behaviour during his last illness. I must,
     however, beg that his life and those _Dialogues_ may not be
     published together, as I am resolved for many reasons to
     have no concern in the publication of the _Dialogues_. His
     life, I think, ought to be prefixed to the next edition of
     his former works, upon which he has made many very proper
     corrections, chiefly in what concerns the language. If this
     edition is published while I am at London, I shall revise
     the sheets and authenticate its being according to his last
     corrections. I promised him that I would do so.

     If my mother's health will permit me to leave her, I shall
     be in London by the beginning of November. I shall write to
     Mr. Home to take my lodgings as soon as I return to Fife,
     which will be on Monday or Tuesday next. The Duke of
     Buccleugh leaves this on Sunday. Direct for me at Kirkaldy,
     Fifeshire, where I shall remain all the rest of the
     season.--I remain, my dear Strahan, most faithfully yours,


     DALKEITH HOUSE, _5th September 1776_.

     Let me hear from you soon.[266]

To this Strahan replied on the 16th of September, and then towards the
end of October Smith wrote the following answer, of which the first
draft, in Smith's own handwriting, unsigned and undated and containing
considerable erasures, exists in the R.S.E. Library. It shows that
Smith submitted his account of Hume's illness to the whole circle of
Hume's intimate friends, and that at the moment of writing he was
waiting for the arrival of John Home, the poet, in Edinburgh, to
obtain his remarks upon it.

     DEAR SIR--When I received your last letter I had not begun
     the small addition I proposed to make to the life of our
     late friend. It is now more than three weeks since I
     finished it, and sent one copy to his brother and another
     to Dr. Black. That which I sent to his brother is returned
     with remarks, all of which I approve of and shall adopt. Dr.
     Black waits for John Home, the Poet, who is expected every
     day in Edinburgh, whose remarks he proposes to send along
     with those of all our common friends. The work consists only
     of two sheets, in the form of a letter to you, but without
     one word of flattery or compliment. It will not cost my
     servant a forenoon to transcribe it, so that you will
     receive it by the first post after it is returned to me.

     I am much obliged to you for so readily agreeing to print
     the life together with my additions separate from the
     _Dialogues_. I even flatter myself that this arrangement
     will contribute not only to my quiet but to your interest.
     The clamour against the _Dialogues_, if published first,
     might hurt for some time the sale of the new edition of his
     works, and when the clamour has a little subsided the
     _Dialogues_ may hereafter occasion a quicker sale of another

     I do not propose being with you till the Christmas holidays;
     in the meantime I should be glad to know how things stand
     between us, what copies of my last book are either sold or
     unsold, and when the balance of our bargain is likely to be
     due to me. I beg my most respectful and affectionate
     compliments to Mr. Cadell; I should have written him, but
     you know the pain it gives me to write with my own hand, and
     I look upon writing to him and you as the same thing. I have
     been since I came to Scotland most exceedingly idle. It is
     partly in order to bring up in some measure my leeway that I
     propose to stay here two months longer than I once intended.
     If my presence, however, was at all necessary in London, I
     could easily set out immediately.

     I beg the favour of you to send the enclosed to Mr. Home.
     The purpose of it is to bespeak my lodgings.[267]

The second and third paragraphs of this letter as they stood at first
are erased entirely, but their original substance is in no way altered
in their corrected form. One of the original sentences about the
clamour he dreaded may perhaps be transcribed. "I am still," he says,
"uneasy about the clamour which I foresee they will excite." It may
also be noticed that he does not seem to have dictated his account of
Hume's illness to his amanuensis, but to have written it with his own
hand and then got his amanuensis to transcribe it. The Mr. Home whom
he wishes to bespeak lodgings for him must be John Home the poet, in
spite of the circumstance that he speaks of John Home the poet as
being expected in Edinburgh every day at the time of writing; and in
the event Home does not seem to have come to Edinburgh, for in a
subsequent letter to Strahan on 13th of November Smith again mentions
having written Mr. Home to engage lodgings for him from Christmas.
This letter is as follows:--

     DEAR SIR--The enclosed is the small addition which I propose
     to make to the account which our late invaluable friend left
     of his own life.

     I have received £300 of the copy money of the first edition
     of my book. But as I got a good number of copies to make
     presents of from Mr. Cadell, I do not exactly know what
     balance may be due to me. I should therefore be glad he
     would send me the account. I shall write to him upon this

     With regard to the next edition, my present opinion is that
     it should be printed in four vol. octavo; and I would
     propose that it should be printed at your expense, and that
     we should divide the profits. Let me know if this is
     agreeable to you.

     My mother begs to be remembered to Mrs. Strahan and Miss
     Strahan, and thinks herself much obliged both to you and
     them for being so good as to remember her.--I ever am, dear
     sir, most affectionately yours,


     KIRKALDY, FIFESHIRE, _13th November 1776_.

     I shall certainly be in town before the end of the Christmas
     holidays. I do not apprehend it can be necessary for me to
     come sooner. I have therefore written to Mr. Home to bespeak
     my lodgings from Christmas.[268]

Strahan acknowledges this letter on the 26th of November, and asks
Smith's opinion on an idea that has occurred to him of publishing the
interesting series of letters from Hume to himself which he possessed,
and which, after a curious and remarkable history, have been now
preserved for the world through the liberality of Lord Rosebery and
the learned devotion of Mr. Birkbeck Hill. To these letters Strahan,
if he obtained Smith's concurrence, would like to add those of Hume to
Smith himself, to John Home, to Robertson, and other friends, which
have now for the most part been lost. But Smith put his foot on this
proposal decisively, on the ground apparently that it was most
improper for a man's friends to publish anything he had written which
he had himself given no express direction or leave to publish either
by his will or otherwise. Strahan's letter runs thus:--

     DEAR SIR--I received yours of the 13th enclosing the
     addition to Mr. Hume's Life, which I like exceedingly. But
     as the whole put together is very short and will not make a
     volume even of the _smallest size_, I have been advised by
     some very good judges to annex some of his letters to me on
     political subjects. What think you of this? I will do
     nothing without your advice and approbation, nor would I for
     the world publish any letter of his but such as in yr.
     opinion would do him honour. Mr. Gibbon thinks such as I
     have shown him would have that tendency. Now if you approve
     of this in any manner, you may perhaps add partly to the
     collection from your own cabinet and those of Mr. John Home,
     Dr. Robertson, and others of your mutual friends which you
     may pick up before you return hither. But if you wholly
     disapprove of this scheme say nothing of it, here let it
     drop, for without your concurrence I will not publish a
     single word of his. I should be glad, however, of your
     sentiments as soon as you can, and let me know at the same
     time as nearly as may be what day you purpose to be in
     London, for I must again repeat to you that without your
     approbation I will do nothing.

     Your proposal to print the next edition of your work in 4
     vols. octavo at _our_ expense and to divide the Profits is a
     very fair one, and therefore very agreeable to Mr. Cadell
     and me. Enclosed is the List of Books delivered to you of
     the 1st edit.

     My wife and daughter join kindest compliments to your
     amiable Parent, who, I hope, is still able to enjoy your
     company, which must be her greatest comfort.--Dear sir,
     your faithful and affectionate humble servant,


     LONDON, _26th November 1776_.[269]

The following is Smith's reply:--

     DEAR SIR--It always gives me great uneasiness whenever I am
     obliged to give an opinion contrary to the inclination of my
     friend. I am sensible that many of Mr. Hume's letters would
     do him great honour, and that you would publish none but
     such as would. But what in this case ought principally to be
     considered is the will of the Dead. Mr. Hume's constant
     injunction was to burn all his Papers except the _Dialogues_
     and the account of his own life. This injunction was even
     inserted in the body of his will. I know he always disliked
     the thought of his letters ever being published. He had been
     in long and intimate correspondence with a relation of his
     own who dyed a few years ago. When that gentleman's health
     began to decline he was extremely anxious to get back his
     letters, least the heir should think of publishing them.
     They were accordingly returned, and burnt as soon as
     returned. If a collection of Mr. Hume's letters besides was
     to receive the public approbation, as yours certainly would,
     the Curls of the times would immediately set about rummaging
     the cabinets of all those who had ever received a scrap of
     paper from him. Many things would be published not fit to
     see the light, to the great mortification of all those who
     wish well to his memory. Nothing has contributed so much to
     sink the value of Swift's works as the undistinguished
     publication of his letters; and be assured that your
     publication, however select, would soon be followed by an
     undistinguished one. I should therefore be sorry to see any
     beginning given to the publication of his letters. His life
     will not make a volume, but it will make a small pamphlet. I
     shall certainly be in London by the tenth of January at
     furthest. I have a little business at Edinburgh which may
     detain me a few days about Christmas, otherwise I should be
     with you by the new year. I have a great deal more to say to
     you; but the post is just going. I shall write to Mr. Cadell
     by next post.--I ever am, dear sir, most affectionately


     KIRKALDY, _2nd December 1776_.[270]

When we consider Smith's concern about the clamour he expected to
arise from the _Dialogues_, and his entire unconcern about the clamour
he did not expect to arise from the letter to Strahan on Hume's last
illness, the actual event seems one of those teasing perversities
which drew from Lord Bolingbroke the exclamation, "What a world is
this, and how does fortune banter us!" The _Dialogues_ fell flat; the
world had apparently had its surfeit of theological controversy. A
contemporary German observer of things in England states that while
the book made something of a sensation in his own country, it excited
nothing of that sort here, and was already at the moment he wrote
(1785) entirely forgotten.[271]

The letter to Strahan, on the other hand, excited a long reverberation
of angry criticism. Smith had certainly in writing it no thought of
undermining the faith, or of anything more than speaking a good word
for the friend he loved, and putting on record some things which he
considered very remarkable when he observed them, but in the ear of
that age his simple words rang like a challenge to religion itself.
Men had always heard that without religion they could neither live a
virtuous life nor die an untroubled death, and yet here was the
foremost foe of Christianity represented as leading more than the life
of the just, and meeting death not only without perturbation, but with
a positive gaiety of spirits. His cheerfulness without frivolity, his
firmness, his magnanimity, his charity, his generosity, his entire
freedom from malice, his intellectual elevation and strenuous labour,
are all described with the affection and confidence of a friend who
had known them well; and they are finally summed up in the conclusion:
"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

Hume's character was certainly one of great beauty and nobleness, and
churchmen who knew him well speak of him in quite as strong admiration
as Smith. Robertson used to call him "the virtuous heathen"; Blair
said every word Smith wrote about him was true; and Lord Hailes, a
grave religious man and a public apologist of Christianity, showed
sufficient approbation of this letter to translate it into Latin
verse. But in the world generally it raised a great outcry. It was
false, it was incredible, it was a wicked defiance of the surest
verities of religion. Even Boswell calls it a piece of "daring
effrontery," and as he thinks of it being done by his old professor,
says, "Surely now have I more understanding than my teachers." Though
nothing was further from the intention of the author, it was generally
regarded as an attack upon religion, which imperatively called for
repulsion; and a champion soon appeared in the person of Dr. George
Horne, President of Magdalen College, Oxford, author of a well-known
commentary on the Psalms, and afterwards Bishop of Norwich. In an
anonymous pamphlet, entitled "A Letter to Adam Smith, LL.D., on the
Life, Death, and Philosophy of David Hume, Esq., by one of the People
called Christians," which ran rapidly through a number of editions,
Horne, begging the whole question he raises, contends that a man of
Hume's known opinions could not by any possibility be the good and
virtuous man Smith represented him to be, for had he been really
generous, or compassionate, or good-natured, or charitable, or
gentle-minded, he could never have thought of erasing from the hearts
of mankind the knowledge of God and the comfortable faith in His
fatherly care, or been guilty of "the atrocious wickedness of
diffusing atheism through the land." Horne goes on to charge this
"atrocious wickedness" against Smith too. "You would persuade us," he
says, "by the example of David Hume, Esq., that atheism is the only
cordial for low spirits and the proper antidote against the fear of
death, but surely he who can reflect with complacency on a friend thus
employing his talents in this life, and thus amusing himself with
Lucian, whist, and Charon at his death, can smile over Babylon in
ruins, esteem the earthquakes which destroyed Lisbon as agreeable
occurrences, and congratulate the hardened Pharaoh on his overthrow in
the Red Sea."

Smith never wrote any reply to this attack, nor took any public notice
of it whatever, though he had too much real human nature in him to
agree with Bishop Horne's own ethereal maxim that "a man reproached
with a crime of which he knows himself to be innocent should feel no
more uneasiness than if he was said to be ill when he felt himself in
perfect health." It was of course quite unjust to accuse Smith of
atheism, or of desiring to propagate atheism. His published writings,
which the Bishop ought in fairness to have consulted, show him to have
been a Theist, and there is some ground for thinking that he believed
Hume, as many others of Hume's personal friends did, to have been a
Theist likewise. Though Hume was philosophically a doubter about
matter, about his own existence, about God, he did not practically
think so differently from the rest of the world about any of the three
as was often supposed. Dr. Carlyle always thought him a believer. Miss
Mure of Caldwell, the sister of his great friend the Baron of
Exchequer, says he was the most superstitious man she ever knew.[272]
He told Holbach that an atheist never existed, and once, while walking
with Adam Ferguson on a beautiful clear night, he stopped suddenly and
exclaimed, pointing to the sky, "Can any one contemplate the wonders
of that firmament and not believe that there is a God?"[273] That
Smith would not have been surprised to hear his friend make such a
confession is apparent from the well-known anecdote told of his
absence of mind in connection with Henry Mackenzie's story of "La
Roche." That story was written soon after Hume's death; it was
published in the _Mirror_ in 1779, while Horne's agitation was raging;
and the author introduced Hume as one of the characters of the piece
for the very purpose of presenting this more favourable view of the
great sceptic's religious position with which Mackenzie had been
impressed in his own intercourse with him. Hume appears in the story
as a visitor in Switzerland, an inmate of the simple household of the
pastor La Roche, and after describing him as being deeply taken with
the sweet and unaffected piety of this family's life and with the
faith that sustained them in their troubles, the author goes on to
observe, "I have heard him long after confess that there were moments
when, amidst the pride of philosophical discovery and the pride of
literary fame, he recalled to his mind the venerable figure of the
good La Roche and wished he had never doubted." Before publishing his
story Mackenzie read it to Adam Smith, in order to be told whether
anything should be omitted or altered as being out of keeping with
Hume's character, and so completely was Smith carried away by the
verisimilitude that he not only said he found not a syllable to object
to, but added that he was surprised he had never heard the anecdote
before. In his absence of mind he had forgotten for the moment that he
had been asked to listen to the story as a work of fiction, and his
answer was the best compliment Mackenzie could receive to his fidelity
to the probabilities of character.[274]


[255] Burton's _Life of Hume_, ii. 492.

[256] _Ibid._, ii. 493.

[257] Hill's _Letters of Hume to Strahan_, p. 330.

[258] Burton's _Life of Hume_, ii. 494.

[259] _Hume Correspondence_, R.S.E. Library.

[260] _Hume Correspondence_, R.S.E. Library.

[261] _Hume Correspondence,_ R.S.E. Library.

[262] Hume's brother always spelt his name with an _o_.

[263] _Hume Correspondence_, R.S.E. Library.

[264] _Ibid._

[265] _Hume Correspondence_, R.S.E. Library.

[266] _New York Evening Post,_ 30th April 1887. Original in possession
of Mr. Worthington C. Ford of Washington, U.S.A. The first draft of
this letter, in Smith's handwriting but without the last paragraph and
the signature, seems to have been preserved by him as a copy for
reference, and having been sent by him with his other Hume letters to
the historian's nephew, is now in the Royal Society Library,

[267] _Hume Correspondence_, R.S.E. Library.

[268] _New York Evening Post_, 30th March 1887. Original in possession
of Mr. Worthington C. Ford of Washington, U.S.A.

[269] _Hume Correspondence_, R.S.E. Library.

[270] Hill's _Letters of Hume_, p. 351.

[271] Wendeborn, _Zustand des Staats, etc., in Gross-britannien_, ii.

[272] _Caldwell Papers_, i. 41.

[273] Burton's _Hume_, ii. 451.

[274] See Mackenzie's "La Roche," and Mackenzie's _Works of J. Home_,
i. 21.



Smith remained at Kirkcaldy from May to December 1776, except for
occasional visits to Edinburgh or Dalkeith, but his thoughts, as we
have noticed from time to time, were again bent on London, as soon as
his mother's health should permit of his leaving home. He seems to
have enjoyed London thoroughly during his recent prolonged sojourn,
and inspired some hopes in friends like Strahan that he might even
settle there as a permanent place of residence. After his departure
for Scotland in April Strahan used to write him from time to time a
long letter of political news keeping him abreast of all that was
going on, and in a letter of the 16th of September he says: "I hope
your mother's health will not prevent you from returning hither at the
time you propose. You know I once mentioned to you how happy I thought
it would make you both if you could bring her along with you to spend
the remainder of her days in this Place, but perhaps it will not be
easy to remove her so far at this time of her life. I pray you offer
her the respectful compliments of my family, who do not forget her
genteel and hospitable reception at Kircaldy some years ago."[275] The
time Smith proposed to return, as he had written Strahan early in
September, was November, but he afterwards put the journey off for two
months on account of his own health, which had suffered from his long
spell of literary labour, and was in need of more rest; and he might
have postponed it still further but for the visit being necessary in
order to carry the second edition of his work through the press. Early
in January 1777 he is already in London, having found lodgings in
Suffolk Street, near the British Coffee-House, and on the 14th of
March we find him attending a dinner of the Literary Club, with Fox in
the chair, and Gibbon, Garrick, Reynolds, Johnson, Burke, and Fordyce
for the rest of the company.[276]

His great work had not yet attracted much public notice. Its merits
were being fully recognised by the learned, and it was already leaving
its mark on the budget of the year; but it was probable Smith was more
talked about in general company at the time for his letter to Strahan
than for his _Wealth of Nations_. In one little literary circle he was
being zealously but most unjustly decried for taking a shabby revenge
on a worthy young Scotch poet who had ventured to differ from him in
opinion about the merits of the East India Company. Mickle, the author
of the popular song "There's nae luck aboot the hoose," published his
translation of the _Lusiad_ of Camoens in 1775, and dedicated the book
by permission to the Duke of Buccleugh, whose family had been his
father's patrons, and from whose interest he hoped to obtain some
advancement himself. When the work appeared the author sent a
nicely-bound presentation copy to the Duke, but received no
acknowledgment, and at length a common friend waited on his Grace,
and, says one of Mickle's biographers, "heard with the indignation and
contempt it deserved, a declaration that the work was at that time
unread, and had been represented not to have the merit it had been
first said to possess, and therefore nothing could be done on the
subject of his mission." A dedication in those days was often only a
more dignified begging letter, and Mickle's friends declared that he
had been cruelly wronged, because the Duke had not only done nothing
for him himself, but by accepting the dedication had prevented the
author from going to some other patron who might have done something.
Whatever could have been the reason for this sudden coolness of the
Duke? Mickle and his little group of admirers declared it was all due
to an ill word from the Duke's great mentor, Adam Smith, whom they
alleged to have borne Mickle a grudge for having in the preface to the
_Lusiad_ successfully exposed the futility of some of the views about
the East India Company propounded in the _Wealth of Nations_.[277]

But since the _Wealth of Nations_ was only published in 1776, its
opinions obviously could not, even with the vision and faculty divine
of the poet, be commented on either favourably or unfavourably in the
_Lusiad_, which was published in 1775. The comments on Smith's views
appeared first in subsequent editions of Mickle's work, and were
probably effects of the injury the author fancied himself to have
suffered. Anyhow they could not have been its causes, and the whole
story, so thoroughly opposed to the unusual tolerancy and benevolence
of Smith's character, merits no attention. It sprang manifestly from
some imaginary suspicion of a sensitive minor poet, but Mickle used to
denounce Smith without stint, and, thinking he had an opportunity for
retaliation when the letter to Strahan appeared, he wrote a satire
entitled, "An Heroic Epistle from Hume in the Shades to Dr. Adam
Smith," which he never published indeed, though he showed it about
among his friends, but in which, says Sim, who had seen it, Smith and
his noble pupil were rather roughly handled.[278] Mickle afterwards
burnt this _jeu d'esprit_, and very probably came to entertain better
views of Smith, for he seems to have been not only quick to suspect
injuries, but ready after a space to perceive his error. He once
inserted an angry note in one of his poems against Garrick, who had,
as he imagined, used him ill; but going afterwards to see the great
actor in _King Lear_, he listened to the first three acts without
saying a word, and after a fine passage in the fourth, heaved a deep
sigh, and turning to his companion said, "I wish that note was out of
my book." Had he foreseen the noise his several friends continued to
make, even after his death, about this purely imaginary offence on the
part of Adam Smith, the poet would not improbably wish the polemical
prefaces out of his book. Smith did not think much of Mickle's
translation of the _Lusiad_, holding the French version to be much
superior,[279] but if he happened to express this unfavourable opinion
to the Duke of Buccleugh, it could not have been with any thought of
injuring a struggling and meritorious young author. He has never shown
any such intolerance of public contradiction as Mickle's friends chose
to attribute to him. Dr. James Anderson, the first and true author of
what is known as Ricardo's theory of rent, won Smith's friendship by a
controversial pamphlet challenging some of his doctrines; Bentham
won--what is rarer--his conversion from the doctrines impugned, and a
very kindly letter still exists which Smith wrote to another hostile
critic, Governor Pownall, and which I shall give here, as it was one
of the first things he did after now arriving in London. Pownall had
been Governor of Massachusetts, a man of much activity of mind and
experience of affairs, and author of respectable works on the
_Principles of Polity_, the _Administration of the Colonies_, and the
_Middle States of America_. He was one of the forty-two persons to
whom the authorship of the letters of Junius has been attributed. He
differed strongly from many of Smith's views, especially from his
condemnation of the monopoly of the colonial trade, and wrote a
pamphlet setting forth his criticisms in the form of a letter to Adam
Smith. This pamphlet Smith received in Edinburgh, just before his
departure for London, and when he arrived he wrote the Governor as

     SIR--I received the day before I left Edinburgh the very
     great honour of your letter. Though I arrived here on Sunday
     last, I have been almost from the day of my arrival confined
     by a cold, which I caught upon the road; otherwise I should
     before this time have done myself the honour of waiting on
     you in person, and of thanking you for the very great
     politeness with which you have everywhere treated me. There
     is not, I give you my word, in your whole letter a single
     syllable relating to myself which I could wish to have
     altered, and the publication of your remarks does me much
     more honour than the communication of them by a private
     letter could have done.

     I hope in a few days to have the honour of waiting on you,
     and of discussing in person with you both the points on
     which we agree and those on which we differ. Whether you
     will think me, what I mean to be, a fair disputant, I know
     not; I can venture to promise you will not find me an
     irascible one. In the meantime I have the honour to be, with
     the highest respect and esteem, etc. etc.


     SUFFOLK STREET, _12th January 1777_.[280]

The gentleman who forwarded this letter to the editor of the
_Gentleman's Magazine_ in 1795, but whose name is not published,
states, in further evidence, as he says, of Smith's liberality of
mind, that "he altered in his second edition some of the parts
objected to, and instead of a reply, sent to Governor Pownall a
printed copy of this second edition so altered, and there all contest
closed." Smith, however, does not appear to have made any such
alterations. In feet, in the second edition he hardly made more than
three or four alterations, and these were confined to the introduction
of an additional fact or two in confirmation of his argument; and
besides, when we refer to Pownall's pamphlet we find that their
differences were all about points on which Smith's views were mature
and the Governor's raw.

Smith probably remained most of the year 1777 in London, for, as we
have seen, one of his reasons for being there was to see the second
edition of his work through the press, and the second edition of his
work did not appear till 1778. But he was back in Kirkcaldy again
before December, and while there he received from Lord North the
appointment of Commissioner of Customs in Scotland, vacant through the
death of Mr. Archibald Menzies. The offence he unexpectedly gave to
the world's religious sensibilities by his account of Hume's last days
had not interfered, as he feared such an offence would, with his
prospects of employment in the public service, nor, what is quite as
remarkable, had his political opinions. For he was always a strong
Whig, and the preferment was bestowed by a Tory ministry. It is
usually attributed to the influence of the Duke of Buccleugh and Henry
Dundas, then a member of the ministry as Lord Advocate for Scotland,
and their word may no doubt have helped; but there is reason to
believe that the appointment was really a direct reward to the author
of the _Wealth of Nations_ for the benefit Lord North, who was
Chancellor of the Exchequer as well as Prime Minister, derived from
that book in preparing the budgets for the years 1777 and 1778. Smith
himself, in a letter to Strahan which will presently appear (p. 323)
attributes the appointment largely to the favour of Sir Grey Cooper,
who had been Secretary to the Treasury since 1765, and was naturally
Lord North's right-hand man in the preparation of his budgets. At the
time the _Wealth of Nations_ appeared the English Chancellor of the
Exchequer was at his wits' end for fresh and convenient and easy means
of increasing the revenue to carry on the American war, and the book
was a mine of suggestions to him. He imposed two new taxes in 1777, of
which he got the idea there,--one on man-servants, estimated by him to
bring in £105,000, though in the event it yielded only £18,000, and
the other on property sold by auction, which was to bring in £37,000;
but in the budget of 1778, which he would have under consideration at
the very moment of Smith's appointment, he introduced two new taxes
recommended by Smith,--the inhabited house duty, estimated to yield
£264,000, and the malt tax, estimated to yield £310,000. Under those
circumstances Smith's appointment to the Commissionership of Customs
is to be regarded not as a private favour to the Duke of Buccleugh,
but as an express recognition on the part of the Premier of the public
value of Smith's work, and the more honourable because rendered to a
political opponent who had condemned important parts of the
ministerial policy--their American policy, for example--in his recent

The appointment was worth £600 a year,--£500 for the Commissionership
of Customs and £100 for the Commissionership of the Salt Duties; and
Smith still retained his pension of £300 from the House of Buccleugh.
When he obtained this place he thought himself bound in honour to give
up his Buccleugh pension, possibly because of the assistance he may
have believed the Duke to have given in securing it; but he was
informed that the pension was meant to be permanent and unconditional,
and that if he were consulting his own honour in offering to give it
up, he was not thinking of the honour of the Duke of Buccleugh. Smith
now settled in Edinburgh accordingly with an assured income of £900 a
year, and £900 a year was a comparatively princely revenue in the
Scottish capital at a time when a Lord of Session had only £700 a
year, and a professor in the best chair in the University seldom made
as much as £300.

Though the appointment was made probably in November 1777, Smith did
not receive the Commission till January 1778, and there were still
fees to pay and other business to transact about the matter, which he
got Strahan to do for him. That occasioned the following letters:--

     DEAR SIR--The last letter I had the pleasure of receiving
     from you congratulated me upon my being appointed one of the
     Commissioners of Customs in Scotland. You told me at the
     same time that you had dined that day with Sir Grey Cooper,
     and that you had both been so good as to speak very
     favourably of me. I have received from London several other
     congratulations of the same kind. But I have not yet
     received, nor has the office here received, any official
     information that any such appointment had been made. It is
     possible that the Commission is not made out on account of
     the fees. If this is the case, you may either draw upon me
     for the amount, which I understand to be about £160, or you
     may write to me, and I shall by return of post remit you the
     money to London. Whatever be the cause of the delay, I beg
     you will endeavour to find it out and let me know as soon as
     possible, that I may at least be at the end of my hope.
     Remember me most affectionately to all your family, and
     believe me to be, most faithfully yours,


     EDINBURGH, _20th December 1777_.

     Neither you nor Mr. Cadell have wrote me anything concerning
     the new Edition of my Book. Is it published? does it sell
     well? does it sell ill? does it sell at all? I left
     directions with Mr. Cadell to send copies of it to several
     of my friends. If John Hunter was not among the number, put
     him in _ex dono authoris_, and desire Cadell to send me the
     account of the whole, that I may pay it. I should write to
     him, but it would only be plaguing him. If you draw upon me
     make your bill payable at five days' sight. I return to
     Kirkaldy on Christmas Day.[281]

On returning to Kirkcaldy Smith again wrote Strahan:--

     DEAR SIR--I should have sent you the enclosed bill the day
     after I received your letter accompanyed with a note from
     Mr. Spottiswood, had not Mr. Charteris, the Solicitor of the
     Customs here, told me that the fees were not paid in London,
     but at Edinburgh, where Mr. Shadrach Moyes acted as receiver
     and agent for the officers of the treasury at London. I have
     drawn the bill for £120, in order to pay, first, what you
     have advanced for me; secondly, the exchange between
     Edinburgh and London; and lastly, the account which I shall
     owe to Mr. Cadell, after he has delivered the presents I
     desired him to make of the second edition of my book. To
     this I beg he will add two copies, handsomely bound and
     guilt (_sic_), one to Lord North, the other to Sir Gray
     Cooper. I received Sir Gray's letter, and shall write to him
     as soon as the new Commission arrives, in order not to
     trouble him with answering two Letters. I believe that I
     have been very highly obliged to him in this business. I
     shall not say anything to you of the obligations I owe you
     for the concern you have shewn and the diligence you have
     exerted on my account. Remember me to Mr. Spottiswood. I
     shall write to him as soon as the affair is over. Would it
     be proper to send him any present or fee? I am much obliged
     to him, and should be glad to express my sense of it in
     every way in my power.

     I would not make any alteration in my title-page on account
     of my new office.

     Remember me to Mrs. and Miss Strahan, likewise to the Homes
     and the Hunters. How does the Painter go on? I hope he
     thrives.--I ever am, my dear sir, most faithfully and
     affectionately yours,


     KIRKALDY, _14th January 1777_.[282]

The Mr. Spottiswood mentioned in this letter was a nephew of Strahan,
and no doubt an ancestor of Strahan's present successor in his
printing business. The Hunters are John and William Hunter, the Homes
are John Home and his wife, and the painter is Allan Ramsay.

In the course of a fortnight the Commission arrived, and Smith then
wrote Strahan again:--

     EDINBURGH, _5th February 1778_.

     MY DEAR STRAHAN--I received the Commission in due course,
     and have now to thank you for your great attention to my
     interest in every respect, but above all, for your
     generosity in so readily forgiving the sally of bad humour
     which, in consequence of General Skeenes, who meant too very
     well, most unreasonably broke out upon you. I can only say
     in my own vindication that I am not very subject to such
     sallies, and that upon the very few occasions on which I
     have happened to fall into them, I have soon recovered from
     them. I am told that no commission ever came so soon to
     Edinburgh, many having been delayed 3 weeks or a month after
     appearing in the Gazette. This extraordinary despatch I can
     impute to nothing but your friendly diligence and that of
     Mr. Spottiswood, to whom I beg to be remembered in the most
     respectful manner.

     You have made a small mistake in stating our account. You
     credit me with £150 only, instead of £170; the first bill
     for £120, the second for £50. Cadell, however, still remains
     unpaid. As soon as I understand he has delivered the books,
     or before it, if he will send me the account of them, I
     shall send him the money.--I ever am, dear sir, most
     faithfully yours,

     ADAM SMITH.[283]

What was the cause of Smith's outbreak of very unhabitual irritation
with Strahan on the occasion alluded to in this letter, I cannot say,
nor probably does it in the least matter. His temper, indeed, was one
of unusual serenity and constancy, and but for his own confession in
this letter, we should never have known that it was liable, like
others, to occasional perturbations, from which it appears, however,
he speedily recovered, and of which he is evidently heartily ashamed.
General Skeenes was probably one of his relations, the Skenes of

The money transactions mentioned in the concluding paragraph refer
doubtless to his Commission fees, which from some calculations made,
probably by Strahan, on the back of the letter, seem to have come to
£147:18s. But the reference to Mr. Cadell's account shows that the
second edition of his book had now appeared. It was not published in
four volumes octavo, as he originally proposed to Strahan, but, like
the former edition, in two volumes quarto, and the price was now
raised from £1:16s. to two guineas, so that under the half-profit
arrangement which was agreed upon, he must have obtained a very
reasonable sum out of this edition, and we can understand how, from
the four authorised editions published during his lifetime, he made,
according to his friend Professor Dalzel, a "genteel fortune," as
genteel fortunes went in those days.


[275] _Hume MSS._, R.S.E. Library.

[276] Leslie and Taylor, _Life of Reynolds_, ii. 199.

[277] Sim's _Works of Mickle_, Preface, xl.

[278] _Ibid._, Preface, xliii.

[279] _The Bee_, 1st May 1791.

[280] _Gentleman's Magazine_, lxv. 635.

[281] Original with Mr. F. Barker.

[282] Original in possession of Mr. Alfred Morrison.

[283] Original in possession of Mr. Alfred Morrison.



1778-1790. _Aet._ 55-67

On settling in Edinburgh Smith took a house in the Canongate--Panmure
House, at the foot of Panmure Close, one of the steep and narrow wynds
that descend from the north side of the Canongate towards the base of
the Calton Hill; and this house was his home for the rest of his days,
and in it he died. The Canongate--the old Court end of the Scottish
capital--was still at the close of last century the fashionable
residential quarter of the city, although Holyrood had then long lain
deserted--as Hamilton of Bangour called it,

    A virtuous palace where no monarch dwells.

The Scottish nobility had their town-houses in its gloomy courts, and
great dowagers and famous generals still toiled up its cheerless
stairs. Panmure House itself had been the residence of the Panmure
family before Smith occupied it, and became the residence of the
Countess of Aberdeen after his death. Most of his own more particular
friends too--the better aristocracy of letters and science--lived
about him here. If it was to Edinburgh, as Gibbon remarks, that "taste
and philosophy seemed to have retired from the smoke and hurry of the
immense capital of London," it was in the ancient smoke and leisure of
the Canongate they found their sanctuary. Robertson flitted out,
indeed, to the Grange House; Black--Smith's special crony in this
Edinburgh period--to the present Blind Asylum in Nicolson Street, then
a country villa; and Adam Ferguson to a place at the Sciennes which,
though scarce two miles from the Cross, was thought so outrageously
remote by the people of the compact little Edinburgh of those days,
that his friends always called it Kamtschatka, as if it lay in the
ends of the earth. But Kames and Hailes still lived in New Street, Sir
John Dalrymple and Monboddo and many other notabilities in St. John
Street, Cullen in the Mint, and Dugald Stewart in the Lothian Hut (the
town-house of the Marquis of Lothian) in the Horse Wynd.

Panmure House is still standing. It is a much more modern structure
than the houses near it, having been built towards the middle of last
century; and although its rooms are now mostly tenantless, and its
garden a cooper's yard, it wears to this day an air of spacious and
substantial comfort which is entirely wanting in the rest of the
neighbourhood. William Windham, the statesman, who dined in it
repeatedly when he was in Edinburgh with Burke in 1785, thought it a
very stately house indeed for a philosopher. "House magnificent," he
enters in his diary, "and place fine," and one can still imagine how
it would appear so when the plastered walls were yet white, and the
eye looked over the long strip of terraced garden on to the soft green
slopes of the Calton. There was then no building of any kind on or
about the Calton Hill, except the Observatory, and Dugald Stewart, who
was very fond of rural scenery, always said that the great charm of
his own house a few closes up was its view of the Calton crags and

Smith brought over his mother and his cousin, Miss Douglas, from
Kirkcaldy, and a few months later the youngest son of his cousin,
Colonel Douglas of Strathendry, who was to attend school and college
with a view to the bar, and whom he made his heir. Windham, after
visiting them, makes the same note twice in his diary, "Felt strongly
the impression of a family completely Scotch." Smith's house was
noted for its simple and unpretending hospitality. He liked to have
his friends about him without the formality of an invitation, and few
strangers of distinction visited Edinburgh without being entertained
in Panmure House. His Sunday suppers were still remembered and spoken
of in Edinburgh when M'Culloch lived there as a young man. Scotch
Sabbatarianism had not at that time reached the rigour that came in
with the evangelical revival in the beginning of this century, and the
Sunday supper was a regular Edinburgh institution. Even the
Evangelical leaders patronised it. Lord Cockburn and Mrs. Somerville
both speak with very agreeable recollections of the Sunday supper
parties of the Rev. Sir Harry Moncreiff, and Boswell mentions being
invited to one by another Evangelical leader, Dr. Alexander Webster.

His mother, his friends, his books--these were Smith's three great
joys. He had a library of about 3000 volumes, as varied a collection
in point of subject-matter as it would be possible to find. Professor
Shield Nicholson, who saw a large portion of it, says: "I was most
struck by the large number of books of travel and of poetry, of some
of which there were more than one edition, and occasionally _éditions
de luxe_. I had hoped to find marginal notes or references which might
have thrown light on the authorities of some passages in the _Wealth
of Nations_ (for Smith gives no references), but even the ingenious
oft-quoted author of the _Tracts on the Corn Laws_ has escaped without
a mark. At the same time pamphlets have been carefully bound together
and indexes prefixed in Smith's own writing."[284]

Mr. James Bonar has been able to collect a list of probably two-thirds
of Smith's books--about 1000 books, or 2200 volumes.[285] Nearly a
third of the whole are in French, another third in Latin, Greek, and
Italian, and a little more than a third in English. According to Mr.
Bonar's analysis, a fifth of them were on Literature and Art; a fifth
were Latin and Greek classics; a fifth on Law, Politics, and
Biography; a fifth on Political Economy and History; and the remaining
fifth on Science and Philosophy. One cannot help remarking, as an
indication of the economist's tastes, the almost complete absence of
works in theology and prose fiction. Hume's _Dialogues on Natural
Religion_ and Pascal's _Pensées_ belong as much to philosophy as
theology; Jeremy Taylor's _Antiquitates Christianae_, Father Paul
Sarpi's _History of the Council of Trent_, and Ruchat's _Histoire de
la Reformation de la Suisse_ belong as much to history; and except
these the only representatives of theology on Smith's shelves were the
English Bible, Watson's edition, 1722--probably his parents' family
Bible--a French translation of the Koran, and Van Maestricht's
_Theologia_. The only sermons, except those of Massillon in French,
are the _Sermons of Mr. Yorick_. Those sermons, however, were the only
representative of Sterne. Goldsmith was represented by his poems, but
not by his fiction; and Defoe, Fielding, Richardson, and Smollett were
not represented at all. One or two French novels were there, but
except Gulliver, which came in with the complete edition of Swift's
works in 1784, the only English novel Smith seems to have possessed
was the _Man of the World_, by his friend Henry Mackenzie. It is
perhaps stranger that he ignored the novel than that he ignored
theology, for the novel was then a very rising and popular literary
form, and Smith began life as a professed literary critic. His mind
seems to have been too positive to care much for tales. On the other
hand, of the Greek and Latin classics he not unfrequently had several
different editions. He had eight, for example, of _Horace_, who seems
to have been an especial favourite.

Like most men who are fond of books, he seems to have bound them well,
and often elegantly. Smellie, the printer, says that the first time he
happened to be in Smith's library he was "looking at the books with
some degree of curiosity, and perhaps surprise, for most of the
volumes were elegantly, and some of them superbly bound," when Smith,
observing him, said, "You must have remarked that I am a beau in
nothing but my books."[286] M'Culloch, however, who had seen the
books, doubts whether their condition warranted the account given of
them by Smellie, and says that while they were neatly, and in some
cases even elegantly bound, he saw few or none of which the binding
could with propriety be called superb.

The Custom House was on the upper floors of the Royal Exchange, in
Exchange Square, off the High Street; and Kay, standing in his shop
over at the corner of the Parliament Close, must often have seen Smith
walk past from his house to his office in the morning exactly as he
has depicted him in one of his portraits,--in a light-coloured coat,
probably linen; knee-breeches, white silk stockings, buckle shoes, and
flat broad-brimmed beaver hat; walking erect with a bunch of flowers
in his left hand, and his cane, held by the middle, borne on his right
shoulder, as Smellie tells us was Smith's usual habit, "as a soldier
carries his musket." When he walked his head always moved gently from
side to side, and his body swayed, Smellie says, "vermicularly," as if
at each alternate step "he meant to alter his direction, or even to
turn back." Often, moreover, his lips would be moving all the while,
and smiling in rapt conversation with invisible companions. A very
noticeable figure he was as he went up and down the High Street, and
he used to tell himself the observations of two market women about him
as he marched past them one day. "Hegh sirs!" said one, shaking her
head significantly. "And he's weel put on too!" rejoined the other,
surprised that one who appeared from his dress to be likely to have
friends should be left by them to walk abroad alone.

There were five Commissioners in the Scotch Board of Customs, but
Smith's colleagues were none of them men of any public reputation at
the time, and they are now mere names; but the name of the Secretary
of the Board, R.E. Phillips, may be mentioned for the circumstance
that, after living to the great age of 104, he was buried--for what
reason I know not--in the same grave with Adam Smith in Canongate
Churchyard. The business of the office was mostly of a routine and
simple character: considering appeals from merchants against the local
collector's assessments; the appointment of a new officer here, the
suppression of one there; a report on a projected colliery; a plan for
a lighthouse, a petition from a wine importer, or the owner of a
bounty sloop; a representation about the increase of illicit trade in
Orkney, or the appearance of smuggling vessels in the Minch; the
despatch of troops to repress illegal practices at some distillery, or
to watch a suspected part of the coast; the preparation of the annual
returns of income and expenditure, the payment of salaries, and
transmission of the balance to the Treasury.

Smith attended to those duties with uncommon diligence; he says
himself, in his letter to the Principal of Glasgow College in 1787 on
his appointment to the Rectorship, that he was so regular an attendant
at the Custom House that he could "take the play for a week at any
time" without giving offence or provoking comment. He was evidently a
very conscientious and on the whole, no doubt, a satisfactory
administrator, though he may have been in some things slower than a
clerk bred to business would have been, and caused occasionally a
ludicrous mistake through his incidental absence of mind. Sir Walter
Scott relates two anecdotes illustrative of that weakness, on the
authority of one of Smith's colleagues on the Board of Customs. Having
one day to sign an official document as Commissioner, Smith, instead
of signing his own name, wrote an imitation of the signature of the
Commissioner who had written before him. The other story, though,
possibly enough, embellished unconsciously by the teller in some
details, is yet of too distinct and peculiar a character to be easily
rejected, and for the same reason will best be given in Scott's own

"That Board (the Board of Customs) had in their service as porter a
stately person, who, dressed in a huge scarlet gown or cloak covered
with frogs of worsted lace, and holding in his hand a staff about
seven feet high as an emblem of his office, used to mount guard before
the Custom House when a Board was to be held. It was the etiquette
that as each Commissioner entered the porter should go through a sort
of salute with his staff of office, resembling that which officers
used formerly to perform through their spontoon, and then marshal the
dignitary to the hall of meeting. This ceremony had been performed
before the great economist perhaps five hundred times. Nevertheless
one day, as he was about to enter the Custom House, the motions of
this janitor seem to have attracted his eye without their character or
purpose reaching his apprehension, and on a sudden he began to imitate
his gestures as a recruit does those of his drill serjeant. The porter
having drawn up in front of the door, presented his staff as a soldier
does his musket. The Commissioner, raising his cane and holding it
with both hands by the middle, returned the salute with the utmost
gravity. The inferior officer, much annoyed, levelled his weapon,
wheeled to the right, stepping a pace back to give the Commissioner
room to pass, lowering his staff at the same time in token of
obeisance. Dr. Smith, instead of passing on, drew up on the opposite
side and lowered his cane to the same angle. The functionary, much out
of consequence, next moved upstairs with his staff upraised, while the
author of the _Wealth of Nations_ followed with his bamboo in
precisely the same posture, and his whole soul apparently wrapped in
the purpose of placing his foot exactly on the same spot of each step
which had been occupied by the officer who preceded him. At the door
of the hall the porter again drew off, saluted with his staff, and
bowed reverentially. The philosopher again imitated his motions, and
returned his bow with the most profound gravity. When the Doctor
entered the apartment the spell under which he seemed to act was
entirely broken, and our informant, who, very much amused, had
followed him the whole way, had some difficulty to convince him that
he had been doing anything extraordinary."[287]

This inability to recollect in a completely waking state what had
taken place during the morbid one separates this story from all the
rest that are told of Smith's absence of mind. For his friends used
always to observe of his fits of abstraction what a remarkable faculty
he possessed of recovering, when he came to himself, long portions of
the conversation that had been going on around him while his mind was
absent. But here there is an entire break between the one state and
the other; the case seems more allied to trance, though it doubtless
had the same origin as the more ordinary fits of absence, and, like
them, was only one of the penalties of that power of profound and
prolonged concentration to which the world owes so much; it was
thinker's cramp, if I may use the expression. In one way Smith took
more interest in his official work than ordinary Commissioners would
do, because he found it useful to his economic studies. In 1778 he
wrote Sir John Sinclair, who had desired a loan of the French inquiry
entitled _Mémoires concernant les Impositions_, that "he had frequent
occasion to consult the book himself both in the course of his private
studies and in the business of his present employment," and Sir John
states that Smith used to admit "that he derived great advantage from
the practical information he derived by means of his official
situation, and that he would not have otherwise known or believed how
essential practical knowledge was to the thorough understanding of
political subjects."[288] This is confirmed by the fact that most of
the additions and corrections introduced into the third edition of the
_Wealth of Nations_--the first published after his settlement in the
Customs--are connected with that branch of the public service.

Still his friends were perhaps right in lamenting that the duties of
this office, light though they really were, used up his time and
energy too completely to permit his application to the great work on
government which he had projected. "Though they required little
exertion of thought, they were yet," says Dugald Stewart, "sufficient
to waste his spirits and dissipate his attention; and now that his
career is closed, it is impossible to reflect on the time they
consumed without lamenting that it had not been employed in labours
more profitable to the world and more equal to his mind. During the
first years of his residence in this city his studies seemed to be
entirely suspended, and his passion for letters served only to amuse
his leisure and to animate his conversation. The infirmities of age,
of which he very early began to feel the approach, reminded him at
last, when it was too late, of what he yet owed to the public and to
his own fame. The principal materials of the works which he had
announced had been long ago collected, and little probably was wanting
but a few years of health and retirement to bestow on them that
systematical arrangement in which he delighted."[289]

His leisure seems to have been passed during these later years of his
life very largely in the study of the Greek poets, and he frequently
remarked to Dugald Stewart, when found in his library with Sophocles
or Euripides open before him on the table, that of all the amusements
of old age, the most grateful and soothing was the renewal of
acquaintance with the favourite studies and the favourite authors of
our youth.[290] Besides, the work of composition seems to have grown
really more arduous to him. He was always a slow composer, and had
never acquired increased facility from increased practice. Much of his
time too was now given to the enjoyments of friendship. I have already
mentioned his Sunday suppers, but besides these he founded, soon after
settling in Edinburgh, in co-operation with the two friends who were
his closest associates during the whole of this last period of his
career--Black the chemist, and Hutton the geologist--a weekly dining
club, which met every Friday at two o'clock in a tavern in the
Grassmarket. Dr. Swediaur, the Paris physician, who spent some time in
Edinburgh in 1784 making researches along with Cullen, and was made a
member of this club during his stay, writes Jeremy Bentham: "We have a
club here which consists of nothing but philosophers. Dr. Adam Smith,
Cullen, Black, Mr. M'Gowan, etc., belong to it, and I am also a member
of it. Thus I spend once a week in a most enlightened and agreeable,
cheerful and social company." And of Smith, with whom he says he is
intimately acquainted, he tells Bentham he "is quite our man"--in
opinion and tendencies, I presume. Ferguson was a member of the club,
though after being struck with paralysis in 1780 he never dined out;
but among the constant attenders were Henry Mackenzie, Dugald Stewart,
Professor John Playfair, Sir James Hall the geologist; Robert Adam,
architect; Adam's brother-in-law, John Clerk of Eldin, inventor of the
new system of naval tactics; and Lord Daer--the "noble youthful
Daer"--who was the first lord Burns ever met, and taught the poet that
in a lord he after all but "met a brither," with nothing uncommon
about him,

    Except good sense and social glee,
    An' (what surprised me) modesty.

Lord Daer was the eldest son of the fourth Earl of Selkirk, and, on
the outbreak of the French Revolution, a few years after Burns met
him, became one of the most ardent of the "Friends of the People"; and
was intimate with Mirabeau, to whom he ventured to speak a word for
the king's safety, and was told that the French would not commit the
English blunder of cutting off their king's head, because that was the
usual way to establish a despotism.[291] Great expectations were
cherished of Lord Daer's future, but they were defeated by his
premature death in 1794. The Mr. M'Gowan mentioned by Swediaur is
little known now, but he was an antiquary and naturalist, a friend and
correspondent of Shenstone, Pennant, and Bishop Percy. M'Gowan kept
house with a friend of his youth, who had returned to him after long
political exile, Andrew Lumisden, Prince Charlie's Secretary, who was
also a warm friend of Smith, and whose portrait by Tassie is one of
the few relics of Smith's household effects which still exist.
Lumisden had been Hamilton of Bangour's companion in exile at Rouen,
and was no doubt also a member of this club.

According to Playfair, the chief delight of the club was to listen to
the conversation of its three founders. "As all the three possessed
great talents, enlarged views, and extensive information, without any
of the stateliness and formality which men of letters think it
sometimes necessary to affect, as they were all three easily amused,
and as the sincerity of their friendship had never been darkened by
the least shade of envy, it would be hard to find an example where
everything favourable to good society was more perfectly united, and
everything adverse more entirely excluded."[292] This friendship of
Smith, Black, and Hutton, if not so famous as the friendship between
Smith and Hume, was not less really memorable. Each of them had
founded--or done more than any other single person to found--a
science; they may be called the fathers of modern chemistry, of modern
geology, and of modern political economy; and for all their great
achievements, they were yet men of the most unaffected simplicity of
character. In other respects they were very different from one
another, but their differences only knit them closer together, and
made them more interesting to their friends.

Black was a man of fine presence and courtly bearing, grave, calm,
polished, well dressed, speaking, what was then rare, correct English
without a trace of Scotch accent, and always with sense and insight
even in fields beyond his own. Smith used to say that he never knew a
man with less nonsense in him than Dr. Black, and that he was often
indebted to his better discrimination in the judgment of character, a
point in which Smith, not only by the general testimony of his
acquaintance, but by his own confession, was by no means strong,
inasmuch as he was, as he acknowledges, too apt to form his opinion
from a single feature. Now the judgment of character was, according to
Robison, Black's very strongest point. "Indeed," says Robison, "were I
to say what natural talent Dr. Black possessed in the most uncommon
degree, I should say it was his judgment of human character, and a
talent which he had of expressing his opinion in a single short
phrase, which fixed it in the mind never to be forgotten."[293] He was
a very brilliant lecturer, for Brougham, who had been one of his
students, said that he had heard Pitt and Fox and Plunket, but for
mere intellectual gratification he should prefer sitting again on the
old benches of the chemistry classroom, "while the first philosopher
of his age was the historian of his own discoveries"; and, adored as
he was by his students, he was the object of scarce less veneration
and pride to the whole body of his fellow-citizens. Lord Cockburn
tells us how even the wildest boys used to respect Black. "No lad,"
says he, "could ever be irreverent towards a man so pale, so gentle,
so elegant, and so illustrious."

Hutton was in many respects the reverse of Black. He was a dweller
out of doors, a man of strong vitality and high spirits, careless of
dress and appearance, setting little store by the world's prejudices
or fashions, and speaking the broadest Scotch, but overflowing with
views and speculations and fun, and with a certain originality of
expression, often very piquant. Every face brightened, says Playfair,
when Hutton entered a room. He had been bred a doctor, though he never
practised, but, devoting himself to agriculture, had been for years
one of the leading improvers of the Border counties, and is said,
indeed, to have been the first man in Scotland to plough with a pair
of horses and no driver, the old eight-ox plough being then in
universal use. Between his early chemical studies and his later
agricultural pursuits, his curiosity was deeply aroused as he walked
about the fields and dales, not merely concerning the composition but
the origin of the soils and rocks and minerals that lay in the crust
of the globe, and he never ceased examining and speculating till he
completed his theory of the earth which became a new starting-point
for all subsequent geological research. He was a bold investigator,
and Playfair distinguishes him finely in this respect from Black by
remarking that "Dr. Black hated nothing so much as error, and Dr.
Hutton nothing so much as ignorance. The one was always afraid of
going beyond the truth, and the other of not reaching it." He went
little into general society, but Playfair says that in the more
private circles which he preferred he was the most delightful of

The conversation of the club was often, as was to be expected from its
composition, scientific, but Professor Playfair says it was always
free, and never didactic or disputatious, and that "as the club was
much the resort of the strangers who visited Edinburgh from any
objects connected with art or with science, it derived from them an
extraordinary degree of vivacity and interest."[294]

Its name was the Oyster Club, and it may be thought from that
circumstance that those great philosophers did not spurn the delights
of more ordinary mortals. But probably no three men could be found who
cared less for the pleasures of the table. Hutton was an abstainer;
Black a vegetarian, his usual fare being "some bread, a few prunes,
and a measured quantity of milk diluted with water"; and as for Smith,
his only weakness seems to have been for lump sugar, according to an
anecdote preserved by Scott, which, trivial though it be, may be
repeated here, under the shelter of the great novelist's example and
of Smith's own biographical principle that nothing about a great man
is too minute not to be worth knowing.

Scott, speaking apparently as an eye-witness, says: "We shall never
forget one particular evening when he (Smith) put an elderly maiden
lady who presided at the tea-table to sore confusion by neglecting
utterly her invitation to be seated, and walking round and round the
circle, stopping ever and anon to steal a lump from the sugar basin,
which the venerable spinster was at length constrained to place on her
own knee, as the only method of securing it from his uneconomical
depredations. His appearance mumping the eternal sugar was something
indescribable." It is probably the same story Robert Chambers gives in
his _Traditions of Edinburgh_, and he makes the scene Smith's own
parlour, and the elderly spinster his cousin, Miss Jean Douglas. It
may have been so, for Scott, as a school companion of young David
Douglas, would very likely have been occasionally at Panmure House.


[284] Nicholson's edition of _Wealth of Nations_, p. 8.

[285] Bonar's _Catalogue of the Library of Adam Smith_, p. viii.

[286] Smellie's _Life of Smith_, p. 297.

[287] _Quarterly Review_, xxxvi. 200.

[288] _Sir J. Sinclair's Correspondence_, i. 389.

[289] Stewart's _Works_, x. 73.

[290] Stewart's _Life of Reid_, sec. iii.

[291] Sinclair's _Old Times and Distant Places_, p. 7.

[292] Stewart's _Life of Reid_, sec. iii.

[293] Black's _Works_, I. xxxii.

[294] _Transactions_, R.S.E., v. 98.



Soon after Smith settled in Edinburgh he received from his old French
friends, the Duchesse d'Enville and her son the Duc de la
Rochefoucauld, a presentation copy of a new edition of their
ancestor's _Maximes_, accompanied by the following letter from the
Duke himself, in which he informs Smith of the interesting
circumstance that, in spite of the way his famous ancestor is
mentioned in the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, he had himself at one
time undertaken a translation of that work, and only abandoned the
task when he found himself anticipated by the publication of the
translation by Abbé Blavet in 1774. It is a little curious that a
disciple of Quesnay, a regular frequenter of Mirabeau's economic
dinners, should take no notice in his letter of Smith's greater work,
so lately published.

     PARIS, _3 mars 1778_.

     Le désir de se rappeller à votre souvenir, monsieur, quand
     on a eu l'honneur de vous connoître doit vous paroître fort
     naturel; permettez que nous saisissons pour cela, ma mère et
     moi, l'occasion d'une édition nouvelle des _Maximes de la
     Rochefoucauld_, dont nous prenons la liberté de vous offrir
     un exemplaire. Vous voyez que vous n'avons point de rancune,
     puisque le mal que vous avez, dit de lui dans la _Théorie
     des Sentimens Moraux_ ne nous empêche point de vous envoyer
     ce même ouvrage. Il s'en est même fallu de peu que je ne
     fisse encore plus, car j'avois eu peutêtre la témérité
     d'entreprendre une traduction de votre _Théorie_; mais comme
     je venois de terminer la première partie, j'ai vu paroître
     la traduction de M. l'Abbé Blavet, et j'ai été forcé de
     renoncer au plaisir que j'aurois eu de faire passer dans ma
     langue un des meilleurs ouvrages de la vôtre.

     Il auroit bien fallu pour lors entreprendre une
     justification de mon grandpère. Peutêtre n'auroit-il pas été
     difficile premièrement de l'excuser, en disant, qu'il avoit
     toujours vu les hommes à la Cour, et dans la guerre civile,
     _deux théâtres sur lesquels ils sont certainement plus
     mauvais qu'ailleurs_; et ensuite de justifier, par la
     conduite personnelle de l'auteur, les principes qui sont
     certainement trop généralisés dans son ouvrage. Il a pris la
     partie pour le tout; et parceque les gens qu'il avoit eu le
     plus sous les yeux étoient animés par _l'amour-propre_, il
     en a fait le mobile général de tous les hommes. Au reste
     quoique son ouvrage mérite à certains égards d'être
     combattu, il est cependant estimable même pour le fond, et
     beaucoup pour la forme.

     Permettez-moi de vous demander, si nous aurons bientôt une
     édition complète des oeuvres de votre illustre ami M.
     Hume? Nous l'avons sincèrement regretté.

     Recevez, je vous supplie, l'expression sincère de tous les
     sentimens d'estime et d'attachement avec lesquels j'ai
     l'honneur d'être, monsieur, votre très humble et très
     obéissant serviteur,


What immediate answer Smith gave to this letter is unknown, and he
certainly suffered the offending allusion to his correspondent's
ancestor to remain unmodified in the new edition of the _Theory_ which
appeared in 1781, but eventually at any rate he came to think that he
had done the author of the _Maximes_ an injustice by associating him
in the same condemnation with Mandeville, and when Dugald Stewart
visited Paris in 1789 he was commissioned by Smith to express to the
Duc de la Rochefoucauld his sincere regret for having done so, and to
inform him that the error would be repaired in the forthcoming edition
of the work, which was at that time in preparation.[296] This was
done. In that final edition the allusion to Rochefoucauld was entirely
suppressed, and the censure confined to Mandeville alone.

While Smith's French friends were remonstrating with him about an
incidental allusion in the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, his old
friend, Lord Kames--still at eighty-three as keen for metaphysical
controversy as he had been with Bishop Butler sixty years before--was
preparing an elaborate attack upon the theory of the book itself,
which he proposed to incorporate in a new edition of his own
_Principles of Morality and Religion_. Before publishing this
examination of the theory, however, he sent the manuscript to Smith
for perusal, and received the following reply:--

     _16th November 1778._

     MY DEAR LORD--I am much obliged to you for the kind
     communication of the objections you propose to make in yr.
     new edition to my system. Nothing can be more perfectly
     friendly and polite than the terms in which you express
     yourself with regard to me, and I should be extremely
     peevish and ill-tempered if I could make the slightest
     opposition to their publication. I am no doubt extremely
     sorry to find myself of a different opinion both from so
     able a judge of the subject and from so old and good a
     friend; but differences of this kind are inevitable, and
     besides, _Partium contentionibus respublica crescit_. I
     should have been waiting on your Lordship before this time,
     but the remains of a cold have for these four or five days
     past made it inconvenient for me to go out in the evening.
     Remember me to Mrs. Drummond,[297] and believe me to be, my
     dear Lord, your most obliged and most humble servant,


Smith had most probably discussed the merits of Lord Kames's
objections with his lordship already, so that he saw no occasion to
reply to them in his letter. What Kames principally combated was the
idea that sympathy with the sufferings of another originated in any
way in our imagining what would be our own feelings if we were in the
sufferer's place. He contends, on the contrary, that it is excited
directly by the perception of the screams, contortions, tears, or
other outward signs of the pain that is endured; and that trying to
put ourselves in the sufferer's place produces really a
self-satisfaction, on account of our own immunity from his troubles,
which has the effect not of awakening the feeling of pity but of
moderating and diminishing it.

A second objection he raises is that if Smith's theory were true,
those in whom the power of imagination was strongest would feel the
force of the moral duties most sensibly, and vice versa, which, he
says, is contradicted by experience. His last objection is that while
the theory proposes to explain the origin of the moral sentiments so
far as they respect other persons, it fails entirely to account for
those sentiments in regard to ourselves. Our distress on losing an
only son and our gratitude for a kindly office neither need to be
explained nor can they be explained by imagining ourselves to be other

One of the first acquaintances Smith made in Edinburgh was a young
Caithness laird who was presently to make a considerable figure in
public life--the patriotic and laborious Sir John Sinclair, founder of
the Board of Agriculture, promoter of the Statistical Account of
Scotland, and author of the _History of the Public Revenue_, _the Code
of Agriculture_, _the Code of Health_, and innumerable pamphlets on
innumerable subjects. Sinclair was not yet in Parliament when Smith
came to Edinburgh in the end of 1777, but his hands were already full
of serious work. He was busy with his _History of the Public Revenue_,
in which Smith gave him every assistance in his power, and he had
actually finished a treatise on the Christian Sabbath, which, in
deference to Smith's advice, he never gave to the press. The object of
this treatise was to show that the puritanical Sabbath observance of
Scotland had no countenance in Holy Scripture, and that, while part of
the day ought certainly to be devoted to divine service, the rest
might be usefully employed in occupations of a character not strictly
religious without infringing any divine law. When the work was
completed, Sinclair showed the manuscript to Smith, who dissuaded him
strongly from printing it. "Your work, Mr. Sinclair," said he, "is
very ably written, but I advise you not to publish it, for rest
assured that the Sabbath as a political institution is of inestimable
value independently of its claim to divine authority."[298]

One day Sinclair brought Smith the news of the surrender of Burgoyne
at Saratoga in October 1777, and exclaimed in the deepest concern that
the nation was ruined. "There is a great deal of ruin in a nation,"
was Smith's calm reply. In November 1778 Sinclair wanted Smith to send
him to Thurso Castle the loan of the important French book on
contemporary systems of taxation, which is so often quoted in the
_Wealth of Nations_--the _Mémoires concernant les Impositions_--and of
which only 100 copies were originally printed, and only four
apparently found their way to this country. Smith naturally hesitated
to send so rare a book so far, but promised his young correspondent to
give him, when he returned to Edinburgh, not only that book but
everything else, printed or written, which he possessed on the
subject. Smith's letter is as follows:--

     Mr. Smith presents his most respectful compliments to Mr.
     Sinclair of Ulbster.

     The _Mémoires sur les Finances_[299] are engaged for four
     months to come to Mr. John Davidson;[300] when he is done
     with them Mr. Smith would be very happy to accommodate Mr.
     Sinclair, but acknowledges he is a little uneasy about the
     safety of the conveyance and the greatness of the distance.
     He has frequent occasion to consult the book himself, both
     in the course of his private studies and in the business of
     his present employment, and is therefore not very willing to
     let it go out of Edinburgh. The book was never properly
     published, but there were a few more copies printed than was
     necessary for the Commission, for whose use it was compiled.

     One of these I obtained by the particular favour of Mr.
     Turgot, the late Controller-General of the Finances. I have
     heard but of three copies in Great Britain: one belongs to a
     noble lord, who obtained it by connivance, as he told
     me;[301] one is in the Secretary of State's office, and the
     third belongs to a private gentleman. How these two were
     obtained I know not, but suspect it was in the same manner.
     If any accident should happen to my book, the loss is
     perfectly irreparable. When Mr. Sinclair comes to Edinburgh
     I shall be very happy to communicate to him not only that
     book, but everything else I have upon the subject, both
     printed and manuscript, and am, with the highest respect for
     his character, his most obedient humble servant,


     EDINBURGH, _24th November 1778_.[302]

The _Mémoires_ was printed in 1768, but it may be reasonably inferred,
from Smith's account of the extreme difficulty of getting a copy, that
he only obtained his in 1774, on the advent of Turgot to power. If
that be so, much in the chapters on taxation in the _Wealth of
Nations_ must have been written in London after that date.

Sir John's biographer quotes a passage from another letter of Smith in
connection with his correspondent's financial studies. This
letter--which Archdeacon Sinclair describes as a "holograph letter in
six folio pages"--is no longer extant, but it concluded with the
following remarks on the taxation of the necessaries and luxuries of
the poor:--

     I dislike all taxes that may affect the necessary expenses
     of the poor. They, according to circumstances, either
     oppress the people immediately subject to them, or are
     repaid with great interest by the rich, _i.e._ by their
     employers in the advanced wages of their labour. Taxes on
     the _luxuries_ of the poor, upon their beer and other
     spirituous liquors, for example, as long as they are so
     moderate as not to give much temptation to smuggling, I am
     so far from disapproving, that I look upon them as the best
     of sumptuary laws.

     I could write a volume upon the folly and the bad effects of
     all the legal encouragements that have been given either to
     the linen manufacture or to the fisheries.--I have the
     honour to be, with most sincere regard, my dear friend, most
     affectionately yours,

     ADAM SMITH.[303]


[295] Stewart's _Works_, x. 46.

[296] _Ibid._, v. 256.

[297] Mrs. Drummond is Lord Kames's wife. She had succeeded to the
estate of her father, Mr. Drummond of Blair Drummond, and having along
with her husband assumed her father's surname in addition to her own,
was now Mrs. Home Drummond. It may perhaps be necessary to add that
the title of a Scotch judge is not extended, even by courtesy, to his

[298] Sinclair's _Memoirs of Sir John Sinclair_, i. 36.

[299] Smith, writing from memory and without the book at hand, makes a
verbal mistake in the title.

[300] Doubtless John Davidson, W.S., a well-known antiquary of the
period, who is mentioned favourably in the preface to Robertson's
_History of Scotland_ as a special authority on certain facts of the
life of Mary Stuart.

[301] Probably Lord Rosslyn, for Bentham, in writing to advise Lord
Shelburne to procure a copy of this book, mentions that he knew Lord
Rosslyn had a copy, which he had obtained from Mr. Anstruther, M.P.,
who happened to be in Paris when it was printed, and contrived to get
a copy somehow there.

[302] _Sir J. Sinclair's Correspondence_, i. 388.

[303] Sinclair's _Life of Sir J. Sinclair_, i. 39.




In 1779 Smith was consulted by various members of the Government with
respect to the probable effects of the contemplated concession of free
trade to Ireland, and two letters of Smith still remain--one to the
Earl of Carlisle, First Lord of Trade and Plantations, and the other
to Henry Dundas--which state his views on this subject. A few
preliminary words will explain the situation. The policy of commercial
restriction has probably never been used with more cruelty or more
disaster than it was used against the people of Ireland between the
Restoration and the Union. They were not allowed to trade as they
would with Great Britain or her colonies, because they were aliens,
and they were not allowed to trade as they would with foreign
countries, because they were British subjects. There were various
industries they had special advantages for establishing, but the
moment they began to export the products the English Parliament, or
their own Irish Parliament under English influence, closed the markets
against them. Living in an excellent grazing country, their first
great product was cattle, and the export of cattle was prohibited.
When stopped from sending live meat, they tried to send dead, but the
embargo was promptly extended to salt provisions. Driven from cattle,
they betook themselves to sheep, and sent over wool; that was stopped,
allowed, and stopped again. When their raw wool was denied a market,
they next tried cloth, but England then bargained for the suppression
of the chief branches of Irish woollen manufacture by promising
Ireland a monopoly of the manufacture of linen. Other infant
industries which gave signs of growing to prosperity were by the same
means crushed in the cradle, and Ireland was in consequence never able
to acquire that nest-egg of industrial capital and training which
England won in the eighteenth century.

All this systematic oppression of national industry had produced its
natural fruit in a distressing scarcity of employment, and in 1778,
though it was a year of plenty, and meal was at its cheapest, many
thousands of the population were starving because they had not the
means to buy it; the farmers were unable to pay their rents because
they got such poor prices; processions of unemployed paraded the
streets of Dublin carrying a black fleece in token of their want; and
the Viceroy from the Castle warned the English ministry that an
enlargement of the trade of Ireland had become a matter of the merest
necessity, without which she could never pay her national obligations
to the English Exchequer.

But it was neither the voice of justice nor the cry of distress that
moved the Government; it was the alarm of external danger. The
strength of England was then strained as it has never been before or
since in an unequal war with the combined forces of France, Spain, and
America, and it was no time either to feed or to neglect discontent at
home. Ireland had already sent many recruits to the revolutionary army
in America, and at this very moment the Irish Protestants, incensed at
the indifference of Government to the protection of their ports, had,
under the lead of Lord Charlemont, raised an illegal army of 42,000
volunteers, and placed them under arms without the consent of the

The demand of free trade for Ireland came therefore with sanctions
that could not be ignored, and Lord North's first idea was to give
Ireland the same rights of trading with the colonies and foreign
countries as England enjoyed, except in the two particulars of the
export of wool and glass and the import of tobacco. This proposal was
not satisfactory to the Irish, because it failed to remove their chief
grievance, the restriction on their trade in woollen goods, but it
provoked a storm of indignation in Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, and
all the great manufacturing and trading centres of Great Britain. They
petitioned the Government declaring that the proposed measure would
ruin them, for a reason with which we are still very familiar, because
it would be impossible for any English or Scotch manufacturer to
compete against the pauper labour of Ireland. Lord North, frightened,
as Burke said, into some concessions by the menaces of Ireland, was
now frightened out of them again by the menaces of England, and he cut
down his original proposals till the Irish thought he was merely
trifling with their troubles, and their whole island was aflame.
Associations were formed, commotions broke out; a great meeting in
Dublin in April 1779 pledged itself to buy nothing of English or
Scotch manufacture; many of the county meetings instructed their
representatives in Parliament to vote no money bill for more than six
months till Irish grievances were redressed; and the Lord-Lieutenant
wrote the Government that popular discontent was seriously increasing,
that French and American emissaries were actively abroad, that the
outlook was black indeed if next session of Parliament passed without
giving the Irish a satisfactory measure of free trade, and that
"nothing short of permission to export coarse woollen goods would in
any degree give general satisfaction."

As soon as the Irish Parliament met in October a new member of the
House, who was presently to become a new power in the country, Henry
Grattan, rose and moved an amendment to the address, urging the
necessity for a free export trade; and the amendment was, on the
suggestion of Flood, extended to a general demand for free trade,
including imports as well as exports, and in this form was carried
without a division. The reply to the address, however, seemed
studiously ambiguous, and inflamed the prevailing discontent. On King
William's birthday the statue of that monarch in Dublin was hung over
with expressive placards, and the city volunteers turned out and
paraded round it; a few days later a mob from the Liberties attacked
the house of the Attorney-General, and proceeding to Parliament, swore
all the members they found to vote only short money bills till free
trade were conceded; and then Grattan, in his place in the House,
carried by three to one a resolution to grant no new taxes and to give
only six months' bills for the appropriated duties.

The Government was now thoroughly alarmed; they must at last face the
question of free trade for Ireland in dead earnest, and applied
themselves without delay to learn from all who understood the subject
what would be the real effect on England of removing the Irish
restrictions. They requested many of the leading public men whom they
trusted in Ireland--Lord Lifford, Hely Hutchinson, Henry Burgh, and
others--to prepare detailed statements of their views on the
commercial grievances of their country and the operation of the
proposed remedies. Mr. Lecky, who has seen those statements at the
Record Office, says they are conspicuous for their clear grasp of the
principles of free trade, and I think that they may with great
probability be considered a fruit of Smith's then recently published
work, because Hely Hutchinson's statement, or its substance, has been
published--it was, indeed, the last book publicly burned in this
country--and it makes frequent quotations from the _Wealth of
Nations_. It was in these circumstances that the Board of Trade made a
double application to Adam Smith for his opinion on the subject. Lord
Carlisle, the head of the Board, applied to him through Adam Ferguson,
who had been Secretary of the Commission, of which Lord Carlisle had
been President, sent out to America the year before to negotiate
terms of peace; and Mr. William Eden, Secretary of the Board, applied
to him through Henry Dundas. With Eden (afterwards the first Lord
Auckland) Smith became later on well acquainted; he was married in
1776 to a daughter of Smith's old friend, Sir Gilbert Elliot, but at
the date of this correspondence their personal acquaintance does not
seem to have been intimate.

Smith's letter to Lord Carlisle is as follows:--

     MY LORD--My friend Mr. Ferguson showed me a few days ago a
     letter in which your Lordship was so good as to say that you
     wished to know my opinion concerning the consequence of
     granting to the Irish that _free trade_ which they at
     present demand so importunately. I shall not attempt to
     express how much I feel myself flattered by your Lordship's
     very honourable remembrance of me, but shall without further
     preface endeavour to explain that opinion, such as it may
     be, as distinctly as I can.

     Till we see the heads of the bill which the Irish propose to
     send over, it is impossible to know precisely what they mean
     by a free trade.

     It is possible they may mean by it no more than the freedom
     of exporting all goods, whether of their own produce or
     imported from abroad, to all countries (Great Britain and
     the British settlements excepted) subject to no other duties
     or restraints than such as their own Parliament may impose.
     At present they can export glass, tho' of their own
     manufacture, to no country whatever. Raw silk, a foreign
     commodity, is under the same restraint. Wool they can export
     only to Great Britain. Woollen manufactures they can export
     only from certain ports in Ireland to certain ports in Great
     Britain. A very slender interest of our own manufacturers is
     the foundation of all these unjust and oppressive
     restraints. The watchful jealousy of those gentlemen is
     alarmed least the Irish, who have never been able to supply
     compleatly even their own market with glass or woollen
     manufactures, should be able to rival them in foreign

     The Irish may mean by a _free trade_ to demand, besides, the
     freedom of importing from wherever they can buy them
     cheapest all such foreign goods as they have occasion for.
     At present they can import glass, sugars of foreign
     plantations, except those of Spain or Portugal, and certain
     sorts of East India goods, from no country but Great
     Britain. Tho' Ireland was relieved from these and from all
     restraints of the same kind, the interest of Great Britain
     could surely suffer very little. The Irish probably mean to
     demand no more than this most just and reasonable freedom of
     exportation and importation; in restraining which we seem to
     me rather to have gratified the impertinence than to have
     promoted any solid interest of our merchants and

     The Irish may, however, mean to demand, besides, the same
     freedom of exportation and importation to and from the
     British settlements in Africa and America which is enjoyed
     by the inhabitants of Great Britain. As Ireland has
     contributed little either to the establishment or defence of
     these settlements, this demand would be less reasonable than
     the other two. But as I never believed that the monopoly of
     our Plantation trade was really advantageous to Great
     Britain, so I cannot believe that the admission of Ireland
     to a share in that monopoly, or the extension of this
     monopoly to all the British islands, would be really

     Over and above all this, the Irish may mean to demand the
     freedom of importing their own produce and manufactures into
     Great Britain, subject to no other duties than such as are
     equivalent to the duties imposed upon the like goods of
     British produce or manufacture. Tho' even this demand, the
     most unreasonable of all, should be granted, I cannot
     believe that the interest of Britain would be hurt by it. On
     the contrary, the competition of Irish goods in the British
     market might contribute to break down in part that monopoly
     which we have most absurdly granted to the greater part of
     our own workmen against ourselves. It would, however, be a
     long time before this competition could be very
     considerable. In the present state of Ireland centuries must
     pass away before the greater part of its manufactures could
     vie with those of England. Ireland has little coal, the
     coallieries about Lough Neagh being of little consequence to
     the greater part of the country; it is ill provided with
     wood: two articles essentially necessary to the progress of
     great manufactures. It wants order, police, and a regular
     administration of justice, both to protect and to restrain
     the inferior ranks of people: articles more essential to the
     progress of industry than both coal and wood put together,
     and which Ireland must continue to want as long as it
     continues to be divided between two hostile nations, the
     oppressors and the oppressed, the Protestants and the
     Papists. Should the industry of Ireland, in consequence of
     freedom and good government, ever equal that of England, so
     much the better would it be not only for the whole British
     Empire, but for the particular province of England. As the
     wealth and industry of Lancashire does not obstruct but
     promote that of Yorkshire, so the wealth and industry of
     Ireland would not obstruct but promote that of England.

     It makes me very happy to find that in the midst of the
     public misfortunes a person of your Lordship's rank and
     elevation of mind doth not despair of the commonwealth, but
     is willing to accept of an active share in administration.
     That your Lordship may be the happy means of restoring
     vigour and decision to our counsels, and in consequence of
     them, success to our arms, is the sincere wish of, my Lord,
     your Lordship's most obliged and most obedient servant,

     ADAM SMITH.[304]

     EDINBURGH, _8th November 1779_.

The letter to Dundas was published in the _English Historical Review_
for April 1886 (p. 308), by Mr. Oscar Browning, from a copy in the
Auckland papers then in his possession. Mr. Browning gives at the same
time the previous letters of Dundas to Eden and Smith respectively. To
Eden he writes:--

     MELVILLE, _30th October 1779_.

     MY DEAR SIR--I received yours last night and have sent it
     this morning to Smith. When I see or hear from him you shall
     hear again from me upon the different parts of your letter.
     The enclosed is a copy of my letter to Smith, which will
     show you what are my present crude ideas upon the subject of
     Ireland.--Yours faithfully,


His letter to Smith is as follows:--

     MELVILLE, _30th October 1779_.

     DEAR SIR--I received the enclosed last night from Mr. Eden.
     The questions he puts would require a Volume to answer them
     in place of a Letter. Think of it, however, and let me have
     your ideas upon it. For my own part I confess myself little
     alarmed about what others seem so much alarmed. I doubt much
     if a free trade to Ireland is so very much to be dreaded.
     There is trade enough in the World for the Industry both of
     Britain and Ireland, and if two or three places either in
     South or North Britain should suffer some damage, which, by
     the bye, will be very gradual, from the loss of their
     monopoly, that is a very small consideration in the general
     scale and policy of the country. The only thing to be
     guarded against is the people in Ireland being able to
     undersell us in foreign mercates from the want of taxes and
     the cheapness of Labour. But a wise statesman will be able
     to regulate that by proper distribution of taxes upon the
     materials and commodities of the respective Countrys. I
     believe a Union would be best if it can be accomplished; if
     not the Irish Parliament might be managed by the proper
     distribution of the Loaves and Fishes, so that the
     Legislatures of the two countrys may act in union together.
     In short, it has long appeared to me that the bearing down
     of Ireland was in truth bearing down a substantial part of
     the Naval and Military strength of our own Country. Indeed,
     it has often shocked me in the House of Commons for these
     two years past, when anything was hinted in favour of
     Ireland by friends of giving them only the benefit of making
     the most of what their soil and climate afforded them, to
     hear it received as a sufficient answer that a town in
     England or Scotland would be hurt by such an Indulgence.
     This kind of reasoning will no longer do. But I find, in
     place of asking yours, I am giving you my opinion. So
     adieu.--Yours sincerely,


To this manly, but somewhat inconsistent letter, acknowledging the
full right of a people to make the most of what their soil and climate
afforded, but yet afraid to give them the whole advantage of their
cheapness of labour, Smith sent the following reply, probably on the
1st of November:--

     MY DEAR LORD[305]--I am very happy to find that Your
     Lordship's opinion concerning the circumstance of granting a
     free trade to Ireland coincides so perfectly with my own. I
     cannot believe that the manufacturers of Great Britain can
     for a century to come suffer much from the Rivalship of
     those of Ireland, even though the Irish should be indulged
     in a free trade. Ireland has neither the skill nor the stock
     which would enable Her to rival England, and tho' both may
     be acquired in time, to acquire them completely will
     require the opperation of little less than a Century.
     Ireland has neither Coal nor wood; the former seems to have
     been denied to her by nature; and though her Soil and
     Climate are perfectly suited for raising the Latter, yet to
     raise it to the same degree as in England will require more
     than a Century. I perfectly agree with your Lordship too
     that to Crush the Industry of so great and so fine a
     Province of the Empire in order to favour the monopoly of
     some particular Towns in Scotland or England is equally
     injurious and impolitic. The general opulence and
     improvement of Ireland must certainly, under proper
     management, afford much greater Resources to Government than
     can ever be drawn from a few mercantile or manufacturing

     Till the Irish Parliament sends over the Heads of their
     proposed Bill, it may perhaps be uncertain what they
     understand by a Free Trade.

     They may perhaps understand by it no more than the power of
     exporting their own produce to the foreign country where
     they can find the best mercate. Nothing can be more just and
     reasonable than this demand, nor can anything be more unjust
     and unreasonable than some of the restraints which their
     Industry in this respect at present labours under. They are
     prohibited under the heaviest penalties to export Glass to
     any Country. Wool they can export only to Great Britain.
     Woolen goods they can export only from certain Ports in
     their own Country and to certain Ports in Great Britain.

     They may mean to demand the Power of importing such foods as
     they have occasion for from any Country where they can find
     them cheapest, subject to no other duties and restraints
     than such as may be imposed by their own Parliament. This
     freedom, tho' in my opinion perfectly reasonable, will
     interfere a little with some of our paltry monopolies.
     Glass, Hops, Foreign Sugars, several sorts of East Indian
     goods can at present be imported only from Great Britain.

     They may mean to demand a free trade to our American and
     African Plantations, free from the restraints which the 18th
     of the present King imposed upon it, or at least from some
     of those restraints, such as the prohibition of exporting
     thither their own Woolen and Cotton manufactures, Glass,
     Hatts, Hops, Gunpowder, etc. This freedom, tho' it would
     interfere with some of our monopolies, I am convinced, would
     do no harm to Great Britain. It would be reasonable, indeed,
     that whatever goods were exported from Ireland to these
     Plantations should be subject to the like duties as those
     of the same kind exported from England in the terms of the
     18th of the present King.

     They may mean to demand a free trade to Great Britain, their
     manufactures and produce when Imported into this country
     being subjected to no other duties than the like
     manufactures and produce of our own. Nothing, in my opinion,
     would be more highly advantageous to both countries than
     this mutual freedom of trade. It would help to break down
     that absurd monopoly which we have most absurdly established
     against ourselves in favour of almost all the different
     Classes of our own manufacturers.

     Whatever the Irish mean to demand in this way, in the
     present situation of our affairs I should think it madness
     not to grant it. Whatever they may demand, our
     manufacturers, unless the leading and principal men among
     them are properly dealt with beforehand, will probably
     oppose it. That they may be so dealt with I know from
     experience, and that it may be done at little expense and
     with no great trouble. I could even point to some persons
     who, I think, are fit and likely to deal with them
     successfully for this purpose. I shall not say more upon
     this till I see you, which I shall do the first moment I can
     get out of this Town.

     I am much honoured by Mr. Eden's remembrance of me. I beg
     you will present my most respectful compliments to him, and
     that you will believe me to be, my dear Lord, most
     faithfully yours,


     _1st November 1779._

I cannot explain the allusion in the closing parts of the letter to
the writer's personal experience of the ease with which the opposition
of manufacturers to proposed measures of public policy could be
averted by sagacious management and a little expenditure of money. Nor
can I say what persons he had in view to recommend as likely to do
this work successfully; but his advice seems to imply that he agreed
with the political maxim that the opposition of the pocket is best met
through the pocket.

He takes no notice of Dundas's suggestion of a union with Great
Britain, but we know from the _Wealth of Nations_ that he was a strong
advocate of a union--not, of course, on Dundas's ground that a union
would better enable the English Parliament to counteract the effects
of the competition of Irish pauper labour, but for a reason which will
sound curiously perhaps in the middle of our present agitations, that
a union would deliver the Irish people from the tyranny of an
oppressive aristocracy, which was the great cause of that kingdom
being then divided into "two hostile nations," to use his words to
Lord Carlisle, "the oppressors and the oppressed." He avers in the
_Wealth of Nations_ that "without a union with Great Britain the
inhabitants of Ireland are not likely for many ages to consider
themselves one people."[306]


[304] Morrison MSS.

[305] The Lord Advocate is usually addressed as My Lord.

[306] Book V. chap. iii.



While these communications with leading statesmen were showing the
impression the _Wealth of Nations_ had made in this country, Smith was
receiving equally satisfactory proofs of its recognition abroad. The
book had been translated into Danish by F. Dräbye, and the translation
published in two volumes in 1779-80. Apparently the translator was
contemplating the publication of a second edition, for he communicated
with Smith through a Danish friend, desiring to know what alterations
Smith proposed to make in his second edition, of whose appearance the
translator had manifestly not heard. Smith thereupon wrote Strahan the
following letter, asking him to send a copy of the second edition to

     DEAR SIR--I think it is predestined that I shall never write
     to you except to ask some favour of you or to put you to
     some trouble. This letter is not to depart from the style of
     all the rest. I am a subscriber for Watt's Copying Machine.
     The price is six guineas for the machine and five shillings
     for the packing-box; I should be glad too he would send me a
     ream of the copying paper, together with all the other
     specimens of ink, etc., which commonly accompany the
     machine. For payment of this to Mr. Woodmason, the seller,
     whose printed letter I have enclosed, you will herewith
     receive a bill of eight Guineas payable at sight. If, after
     paying for all these, there should be any remnant, there is
     a tailour in Craven Street, one Heddington, an acquaintance
     of James M'Pherson, to whom I owe some shillings, I believe
     under ten, certainly under twenty; pay him what I owe. He is
     a very honest man, and will ask no more than is due. Before
     I left London I had sent several times for his account, but
     he always put it off.

     I had almost forgot I was the author of the inquiry
     concerning the Wealth of Nations, but some time ago I
     received a letter from a friend in Denmark telling me that
     it had been translated into Danish by one Mr. Dreby,
     secretary to a new erected board of trade and Economy in
     that Kingdom. My correspondent, Mr. Holt, who is an assessor
     of that Board, desires me, in the name of Mr. Dreby, to know
     what alterations I propose to make in a second Edition. The
     shortest answer to this is to send them the second edition.
     I propose, therefore, by this Post to desire Mr. Cadell to
     send three copies of the second Edition, handsomely bound
     and gilt, to Mr. Anker, Consul-General of Denmark, who is an
     old acquaintance--one for himself and the other two to be by
     him transmitted to Mr. Holt and Mr. Dreby. At our final
     settlement I shall debit myself with these three Books. I
     suspect I am now almost your only customer for my own book.
     Let me know, however, how matters go on in this respect.

     After begging your pardon a thousand times for having so
     long neglected to write you, I shall conclude with assuring
     you that notwithstanding this neglect I have the highest
     respect and esteem for you and for your whole family, and
     that I am, most sincerely and affectionately, ever yours,


     EDINBURGH, CANONGATE, _26 Oct. 1780_.[307]

As this Danish translation has come up, it may be mentioned here that
the _Wealth of Nations_ had already been translated into several other
languages. The Abbé Blavet's French version ran through the pages of
the _Journal de l'Agriculture, des Commerce, des Finances, et des
Arts_ month by month in the course of the years 1779 and 1780, and was
then published in book form in 1781. This was not a satisfactory
translation, though through mere priority of occupation it held the
field for a number of years and went through a number of editions. In
1790 a second translation appeared by Roucher and the Marquise de
Condorcet, and in 1802 a third, the best, by Germain Garnier. Smith's
own friend Morellet, receiving a presentation copy from the author
through Lord Shelburne on its publication, carried it with him to
Brienne, the seat of his old Sorbonne comrade the Archbishop of
Toulouse, and set at work to translate it there. But he tells us
himself that the ex-Benedictine Abbé (Blavet), who had formerly
murdered the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_ by a bad translation,
anticipated him by his equally bad translation of the _Wealth of
Nations_; and so, adds Morellet, "poor Smith was again betrayed
instead of being translated, according to the Italian proverb,
_Tradottore traditore_."[308] Morellet still thought, however, of
publishing his own version, offering it to the booksellers first for
100 louis-d'or and then for nothing, and many years afterwards he
asked his friend the Archbishop of Toulouse, when he had become
Minister of France, for a grant of 100 louis to pay for its
production, but was as unsuccessful with the Minister as he was with
the booksellers. All the good Abbé says is that he is sure the money
would have been well spent, because the translation was carefully
done, and he knew the subject better than any of the other
translators. Everything that was abstract in the theory of Smith was,
he says, quite unintelligible in Blavet's translation, and even in
Roucher's subsequent one, and could be read to more advantage in his
own; but after a good translation was published by Garnier in 1802,
the Abbé gave up all thought of giving his to the press.

A German translation by J.F. Schuler appeared, the first volume in
1776 and the second in 1778, but Roscher says it is worse done than
Blavet's translation; and little attention was paid to Smith or his
work in Germany until about the close of the century, when a new
translation was published by Professor Garve, the metaphysician.
Roscher observes that neither Frederick the Great nor the Emperor
Joseph, nor any of the princes who patronised the Physiocrats so much,
paid the least heed to the _Wealth of Nations_; that in the German
press it was neither quoted nor confuted, but merely ignored; and that
he himself had taken the trouble to look through the economic
literature published between 1776 and 1794, to discover any marks of
the reception of the book, and found that Smith's name was very seldom
mentioned, and then without any idea of his importance. One spot ought
to be excepted--the little kingdom of Hanover, which, from its
connection with the English Crown, participated in the contemporary
French complaint of Anglomania. Göttingen had its influential school
of admirers of English institutions and literature; the _Wealth of
Nations_ was reviewed in the _Gelehrte Anzeigen_ of Göttingen early in
1777, and one of the professors of the University there announced a
course of lectures upon it in the winter session of 1777-78.[309] But
before Smith died his work was beginning to be clearly understood
among German thinkers. Gentz, the well-known politician, writes a
friend in December 1790 that he had been reading the book for the
third time, and thought it "far the most important work which is
written in any language on this subject";[310] and Professor C.J.
Kraus writes Voigt in 1796 that the world had never seen a more
important work, and that no book since the New Testament has produced
more beneficial effects than this book would produce when it got
better known. A few years later it was avowedly shaping the policy of

It was translated into Italian in 1780, and in Spain it had the
curious fortune of being suppressed by the Inquisition on account of
"the lowness of its style and the looseness of its morals." Sir John
Macpherson--Warren Hastings' successor as Governor-General of
India--writes Gibbon as if he saw the sentence of the Inquisition
posted on the church doors in a Spanish tour he made in 1792;[311] but
a change must have speedily come over the censorial mind, for a
Spanish translation by J.A. Ortez was published in four volumes in
1794, with additions relating to Spain.

Smith continued, as he says, to be a good customer for his own book.
There is another letter which, though undated and unaddressed, was
evidently written about this time to Cadell, directing presentation
copies of both his books to be sent to Mrs. Ross of Crighton, the wife
of his own "very near relation," Colonel Patrick Ross.

     DEAR SIR--Mrs. Ross of Crighton, now living in Welbeck
     Street, is my particular friend, and the wife of
     Lieutenant-Collonel (_sic_) Patrick Ross, in the service of
     the East India Company, my very near relation. When she left
     this she seemed to intimate that she wished to have a copy
     of my last book from the author. May I therefore beg the
     favour of you to send her a copy of both my books, viz. of
     the Theory of Moral Sentiments and of the Enquiry concerning
     the "Wealth of Nations," handsomely bound and gilt, placing
     the same to my account, and writing upon the blank-leaf of
     each, _From the Authour_. Be so good as to remember me to
     Mrs. Cadell, Mr. Strahan and family, and all other friends,
     and believe me, ever yours,

     ADAM SMITH.[312]

Smith's new duties did not pre-engage his pen from higher work
altogether, for before the close of 1782 he had written some
considerable additions to the _Wealth of Nations_, which he proposed
to insert in the third edition, among them a history of the trading
companies of Great Britain, including, no doubt, his history of the
East India Company, which Mr. Thorold Rogers supposed him to have
written ten years before and kept in his desk. He writes Cadell on the
7th December 1782:--

     I have many apologies to make to you for my idleness since I
     came to Scotland. The truth is, I bought at London a good
     many partly new books or editions that were new to me, and
     the amusement I found in reading and diverting myself with
     them debauched me from my proper business, the preparing a
     new edition of the _Wealth of Nations_. I am now, however,
     heartily engaged at my proper work, and I hope in two or
     three months to send you up the second edition corrected in
     many places, with three or four very considerable additions,
     chiefly to the second volume. Among the rest is a short but,
     I flatter myself, a complete history of all the trading
     companies in Great Britain. These additions I mean not only
     to be inserted at their proper places into the new edition,
     but to be printed separately and to be sold for a shilling
     or half-a-crown to the purchasers of the old edition. The
     price must depend on the bulk of the additions when they are
     all written out. It would give me great satisfaction if you
     would let me know by the return of the Post if this delay
     will not be inconvenient. Remember me to Strahan. He will be
     so good as excuse my not writing to him, as I have nothing
     to say but what I have now said to you, and he knows my
     aversion to writing.[313]

The additions of which he speaks in this letter were published
separately in 1783 in quarto, so as to suit the two previous editions
of the work, and the new edition containing them was published in the
end of 1784 in three volumes octavo, at the price of a guinea. The
delay was due to booksellers' reasons. Dr. Swediaur, the eminent Paris
physician, who was resident in Edinburgh at the time studying with
Cullen, wrote Bentham in November 1784 that Smith, whom he used to see
at least once a week, had shown him the new edition printed and
finished, but had told him that Cadell would not publish it till all
the people of fashion had arrived in London, and would then at once
push a large sale. Swediaur adds that he found this was a
bookseller's trick very generally practised, and of Smith himself he
says he found him "a very unprejudiced and good man."[314]

The principal additions are the result of investigations to which he
seems to have been prompted by current agitations of the stream of
political opinion. He gives now, for example, a fuller account of the
working of the bounty system in the Scotch fisheries, which was then
the subject of a special parliamentary inquiry, and on which his
experience as a Commissioner of Customs furnished him with many
opportunities of gaining accurate information; and he enters on a
careful examination of the chartered and regulated corporations, and
especially of the East India Company, whose government of the great
oriental dependency was at the moment a question of such urgency that
Fox introduced his India Bill which killed the Coalition Ministry in
1783, and Pitt established the Board of Control in 1784.

The new matter contains two recommendations which have attracted
comment as ostensible contraventions of free trade doctrine. One of
them is the recommendation of a tax on the export of wool; but then
the tax was to take the place of the absolute prohibition of the
export which then existed, and it was not to be imposed for
protectionist reasons, but for the simple financial purpose of raising
a revenue. Smith thought few taxes would yield so considerable a
revenue with so little inconvenience to anybody. The other supposed
contravention of free trade doctrine is the sanction he lends to
temporary commercial monopolies; but then this is avowedly a device
for an exceptional situation in which a project promises great
eventual benefit to the public, but the projectors might without the
monopoly be debarred from undertaking it by the magnitude of the risk
it involved. He places this temporary monopoly in the same category
with authors' copyrights and inventors' patents; it was the easiest
and most natural way of recompensing a projector for hazarding a
dangerous and expensive experiment of which the public was afterwards
to reap the benefit.[315] It was only to be granted for a fixed term,
and upon proof of the ultimate advantage of the enterprise to the


[307] _New York Evening Post_, 30th April 1887. Original in possession
of Mr. Worthington C. Ford, Washington, U.S.A.

[308] Morellet, _Mémoires_, i. 244.

[309] Roscher, _Geschichte_, p. 599.

[310] Gentz, _Briefe an Christian Garve_, p. 63.

[311] Gibbon's _Miscellaneous Works_, ii. 479.

[312] _New York Evening Post_, 30th April 1887. Original in possession
of Mr. Worthington C. Ford, Washington, U.S.A.

[313] Printed in a catalogue of a sale of autographs at Messrs.
Sotheby, Wilkinson, and Hodge's on 26th and 27th November 1891.

[314] Add. MSS., 33,540.

[315] _Wealth of Nations_, Book V. chap. i.



In his letter to Cadell Smith reproaches himself with his idleness
during his first few years in Edinburgh. He had bought a good many new
books in London, or new editions of old ones, and, says he, "The
amusement I found in reading and diverting myself with them debauched
me from my proper business, the preparing a new edition of the _Wealth
of Nations_." While he was engaged in this dissipation of
miscellaneous reading a young interviewer from Glasgow, who happened
to be much in his company in connection with business in the year
1780, elicited his opinions on most of the famous authors of the
world, noted them down, and gave them to the public after Smith's
death in the pages of the _Bee_ for 1791. In introducing these
recollections the editor of the _Bee_, Dr. James Anderson--author of
Ricardo's rent theory--says that even if they had not been sent to him
with the strongest assurances of authenticity, he could entertain no
doubt on that point after their perusal from the coincidence of the
opinions reported in them with those he himself had heard Smith
express. The writer, who takes the name Amicus, describes himself as
"young, inquisitive, and full of respect" for Smith, and says their
conversation, after they finished their business, always took a
literary turn, and Smith was "extremely communicative, and delivered
himself with a freedom and even boldness quite opposite to the
apparent reserve of his appearance."

The first author Amicus mentions is Dr. Johnson, of whom he thought
Smith had a "very contemptuous opinion." "I have seen that creature,"
said Smith, "bolt up in the midst of a mixed company, and without any
previous notice fall upon his knees behind a chair, repeat the Lord's
Prayer, and then resume his seat at table. He has played this trick
over and over, perhaps five or six times in the course of an evening.
It is not hypocrisy but madness. Though an honest sort of man himself,
he is always patronising scoundrels. Savage, for example, whom he so
loudly praises, was but a worthless fellow; his pension of £50 never
lasted him longer than a few days. As a sample of his economy you may
take a circumstance that Johnson himself once told me. It was at that
period fashionable to wear scarlet cloaks trimmed with gold lace, and
the Doctor met him one day just after he had got his pension with one
of those cloaks on his back, while at the same time his naked toes
were sticking through his shoes." He spoke highly, however, of
Johnson's political pamphlets on the American question, in spite of
his disapproval of their opinions, and he was especially charmed with
the pamphlet about the Falkland Islands, because it presented in such
forcible language the madness of modern wars.

"Contemptuous opinion" is too strong an expression for Smith's view of
Johnson, but it is certain he never rated him so high as the world did
then or does now. He told Samuel Rogers that he was astonished at
Johnson's immense reputation, but, on the other hand, he frequently
praised some of the Doctor's individual writings very highly, as he
did to this young gentleman of Glasgow. He once said to Seward that
Johnson's preface to Shakespeare was "the most manly piece of
criticism that was ever published in any country."[316]

Amicus then inquired of Smith his opinion of his countryman Dr.
Campbell, author of the _Political Survey_, and Smith replied that he
had never met him but once, but that he was one of those authors who
wrote on from one end of the week to the other, and had therefore with
his own hand produced almost a library of books. A gentleman who met
Campbell out at dinner said he would be glad to have a complete set of
his works, and next morning a cart-load came to his door, and the
driver's bill was £70. He used to get a few copies of each of his
works from the printers, and keep them for such chances as that. A
visitor one day, casting his eye on these books, asked Campbell, "Have
you read all these books?" "Nay," said the other, "I have written

Smith often praised Swift, and praised him highly, saying he wanted
nothing but inclination to have become one of the greatest of all
poets. "But in place of that he is only a gossiper, writing merely for
the entertainment of a private circle." He regarded Swift, however, as
a pattern of correctness both in style and sentiment, and he read to
his young friend some of the short poetical addresses to _Stella_.
Amicus says Smith expressed particular pleasure with one couplet--

    Say, Stella, feel you no content,
    Reflecting on a life well spent?

But it was more probably not so much of these two lines as of the
whole passage of which they are the opening that Smith was thinking.
He thought Swift a great master of the poetic art, because he produced
an impression of ease and simplicity, though the work of composition
was to him a work of much difficulty, a verse coming from him, as
Swift himself said, like a guinea. The Dean's masterpiece was, in
Smith's opinion, the lines on his own death, and his poetry was on the
whole more correct after he settled in Ireland, and was surrounded, as
he himself said, "only by humble friends."

Among historians Smith rated Livy first either in the ancient or the
modern world. He knew of no other who had even a pretence to rival
him, unless David Hume perhaps could claim that honour.

When asked about Shakespeare Smith quoted with apparent approval
Voltaire's remarks that _Hamlet_ was the dream of a drunken savage,
and that Shakespeare had good scenes but not a good play; but Amicus
gathered that he would not permit anybody else to pass such a verdict
with impunity, for when he himself once ventured to say something
derogatory of _Hamlet_, Smith replied, "Yes, but still _Hamlet_ is
full of fine passages." This opinion of Shakespeare was of course
common to most of the great men of last century. They were not so much
insensible to the poet's genius as perplexed by it. His plays were
full of imagination, dramatic power, natural gifts of every kind--that
was admitted; but then they seemed wild, unregulated, savage--even
"drunken savage," to use Voltaire's expression; they were magnificent,
but they were not poetry, for they broke every rule of the art, and
poetry after all was an art. And so we find Addison at the beginning
of last century writing on the greatest English poets and leaving the
name of Shakespeare out; and we find Charles James Fox, a true lover
of letters, telling Reynolds at the close of the century that
Shakespeare's reputation would have stood higher if he had never
written _Hamlet_. Smith thought Shakespeare had more than ten times
the dramatic genius of Dryden, but Dryden had more of the poetic art.

He praised Dryden for rhyming his plays, and said--as Pope and
Voltaire used also to say--that it was nothing but laziness that
prevented our tragic poets from writing in rhyme like those of France.
"Dryden," said he, "had he possessed but a tenth part of Shakespeare's
dramatic genius, would have brought rhyming tragedies into fashion
here as they were in France, and then the mob would have admired them
just as much as they then pretended to despise them." Beattie's
_Minstrel_ he would not allow to be called a poem at all, because it
had no plan, no beginning, middle, or end. It was only a series of
verses, some of them, however, he admitted, very happy. As for Pope's
translation of the _Iliad_, he said, "They do well to call it Pope's
_Iliad_, for it is not Homer's _Iliad_. It has no resemblance to the
majesty and simplicity of the Greek."

He read over to Amicus Milton's _L'Allegro_ and _Il Penseroso_, and
explained the respective beauties of each; but he added that all the
rest of Milton's short poems were trash. He could not imagine what
made Johnson praise the poem on the death of Mrs. Killigrew, and
compare it with _Alexander's Feast_. Johnson's praise of it had
induced him to read the poem over and with attention twice, but he
could not discover even a spark of merit in it. On the other hand,
Smith considered Gray's _Odes_, which Johnson had damned, to be the
standard of lyric excellence.

_The Gentle Shepherd_ he did not admire much. He preferred the _Pastor
Fido_, of which, says Amicus, he "spoke with rapture," and the
_Eclogues_ of Virgil. Amicus put in a word in favour of the poet of
his own country, but Smith would not yield a point. "It is the duty of
a poet," he said, "to write like a gentleman. I dislike that homely
style which some think fit to call the language of nature and
simplicity and so forth. In Percy's _Reliques_ too a few tolerable
pieces are buried under a heap of rubbish. You have read perhaps _Adam
Bell, Clym of the Cleugh, and William of Cloudesley_." "Yes," said
Amicus. "Well then," continued Smith, "do you think that was worth

Of Goldsmith Smith spoke somewhat severely--of Goldsmith as a man
apparently, not as a writer--relating some anecdotes of his easy
morals, which Amicus does not repeat. But when Amicus mentioned some
story about Burke seducing a young lady, Smith at once declared it an
invention. "I imagine," said he, "that you have got that fine story
out of some of the Magazines. If anything can be lower than the
Reviews, they are so. They once had the impudence to publish a story
of a gentleman having debauched his own sister, and on inquiry it came
out that the gentleman never had a sister. As to Mr. Burke, he is a
worthy, honest man, who married an accomplished girl without a
shilling of fortune." Of the Reviews Smith never spoke but with
ridicule and detestation. Amicus tried to get the _Gentleman's
Magazine_ exempted from the general condemnation, but Smith would not
hear of that, and said that for his part he never looked at a Review,
nor even at the names of the publishers.

Pope was a great favourite with him as a poet, and he knew by heart
many passages from his poems, though he disliked Pope's personal
character as a man, saying he was all affectation, and speaking of his
letter to Arbuthnot when the latter was dying as a consummate piece of
canting. Dryden was another of his favourite poets, and when he was
speaking one day in high praise of Dryden's fables, Amicus mentioned
Hume's objections, and was told, "You will learn more as to poetry by
reading one good poem than by a thousand volumes of criticism." Smith
regarded the French theatre as the standard of dramatic excellence.

Amicus concludes his reminiscences by quoting one of Smith's
observations on a political subject. He said that at the beginning of
the reign of George the Third the dissenting ministers used to receive
£2000 a year from Government, but that the Earl of Bute had most
improperly deprived them of this allowance, and that he supposed this
to be the real motive of their virulent opposition to Government.

These recollections of Amicus provoked a letter in a succeeding number
of the _Bee_ from Ascanius (the Earl of Buchan) complaining of their
publication, not as in any way misrepresenting any of Smith's views,
but as obtruding the trifles of the ordinary social hour upon the
learned world in a way Smith himself would have extremely disliked.
Smith, he says, would rather have had his body injected by Hunter and
Monro, and exhibited in Fleet Street or in Weir's Museum. That may
very possibly be so; but though Smith, if he were to give his views on
literary topics to the public, might prefer putting them in more
elaborate dress, yet the opinions he expressed were, it must be
remembered, mature opinions on subjects on which he had long thought
and even lectured, and if neither Dr. Anderson nor the Earl of Buchan
has any fault to find with the correctness of Amicus's report of them,
Smith cannot be considered to be any way wronged. The Earl complains
too of the matter of the letter being "such frivolous matter"; but it
is not so frivolous, and, if it were, is it not Smith himself who used
to say to his class at Glasgow, as we are informed by Boswell, that
there was nothing too frivolous to be learnt about a great man, and
that, for his own part, he was always glad to know that Milton wore
latchets to his shoes and not buckles?

In 1781 Gibbon seems to have been in doubt as to continuing his
_History_, and desired Robertson, who happened to be up in London at
the time, to talk the matter over with Smith after his return to
Edinburgh. The result of this consultation is communicated in a letter
from Robertson to Gibbon on 6th November 1781. "Soon after my return,"
says Robertson, "I had a long conversation with our friend Mr. Smith,
in which I stated to him every particular you mentioned to me with
respect to the propriety of going on with your work. I was happy to
find that his opinion coincided perfectly with that which I had
ventured to give you. His decisions, you know, are both prompt and
vigorous, and he could not allow that you ought to hesitate a moment
in your choice. He promised to write his sentiments to you very fully,
but as he may have neglected to do this, for it is not willingly he
puts pen to paper, I thought it might be agreeable to you to know his
opinion, though I imagine you could hardly entertain any doubt
concerning it."[317]

Professor B. Faujas Saint Fond, Professor of Geology in the Museum of
Natural History at Paris and member of the National Institute of
France, paid a visit to Edinburgh in October or November 1782 in the
course of a tour he made through Scotland, and received many
civilities from Adam Smith, as he mentions in the account of his
travels which he published in 1783. Saint Fond says there was nobody
in Edinburgh he visited more frequently than Smith, and nobody
received him more kindly or studied more to procure for him every
information and amusement Edinburgh could afford. He was struck with
Smith's numerous and, as he says, excellently chosen library. "The
best French authors occupied a distinguished place in his library, for
he was fond of our language." "Though advanced in years, he still
possessed a fine figure; the animation of his countenance was striking
when he spoke of Voltaire." I have already quoted the remark he made
(p. 190).

One evening when the geologist was at tea with him, Smith spoke about
Rousseau also, and spoke of him "with a kind of religious respect."
"Voltaire," he said, "set himself to correct the vices and follies of
mankind by laughing at them, and sometimes by treating them with
severity, but Rousseau conducts the reader to reason and truth by the
attractions of sentiment and the force of conviction. His 'Social
Compact' will one day avenge all the persecutions he suffered."

Smith asked the Professor if he loved music, and on being told that it
was one of his chief delights whenever it was well executed, rejoined,
"I am very glad of it; I shall put you to a proof which will be very
interesting for me, for I shall take you to hear a kind of music of
which it is impossible you can have formed any idea, and it will
afford me great pleasure to know the impression it makes upon you."
The annual bagpipe competition was to take place next day, and
accordingly in the morning Smith came to the Professor's lodgings at
nine o'clock, and they proceeded at ten to a spacious concert-room,
plainly but neatly decorated, which they found already filled with a
numerous assembly of ladies and gentlemen. A large space was reserved
in the middle of the room and occupied by gentlemen only, who, Smith
said, were the judges of the performances that were to take place, and
who were all inhabitants of the Highlands or Islands. The prize was
for the best execution of some favourite piece of Highland music, and
the same air was to be played successively by all the competitors. In
about half an hour a folding door opened at the bottom of the hall,
and the Professor was surprised to see a Highlander advance playing on
a bagpipe, and dressed in the ancient kilt and plaid of his country.
"He walked up and down the vacant space in the middle of the hall with
rapid steps and a martial air playing his noisy instrument, the
discordant sounds of which were sufficient to rend the ear. The tune
was a kind of sonata divided into three periods. Smith requested me to
pay my whole attention to the music, and to explain to him afterwards
the impression it made upon me. But I confess that at first I could
not distinguish either air or design in the music. I was only struck
with a piper marching backward and forward with great rapidity, and
still presenting the same warlike countenance, he made incredible
efforts with his body and his fingers to bring into play the different
reeds of his instrument, which emitted sounds that were to me almost
insupportable. He received, however, great praise." Then came a second
piper, who seemed to excel the first, judging from the clapping of
hands and cries of bravo that greeted him from every side; and then a
third and a fourth, till eight were heard successively; and the
Professor began at length to realise that the first part of the music
was meant to represent the clash and din and fury of war, and the last
part the wailing for the slain,--and this last part, he observed,
always drew tears from the eyes of a number of "the beautiful Scotch
ladies" in the audience. After the music came a "lively and animated
dance," in which some of the pipers engaged, and the rest all played
together "suitable airs possessing expression and character, though
the union of so many bagpipes produced a most hideous noise." He does
not say whether his verdict was satisfactory to Smith, but the verdict
was that it seemed to him like a bear's dancing, and that "the
impression the wild instrument made on the greater part of the
audience was so different from the impression it made on himself, that
he could not help thinking that the lively emotion of the persons
around him was not occasioned by the musical effect of the air itself,
but by some association of ideas which connected the discordant sounds
of the pipe with historical events brought forcibly to their

Nor were these annual competitions the only local institutions in
which Smith took a more or less active interest. One of the duties of
a citizen which he undertook will perhaps occasion surprise--he became
a Captain of the City Guard. He was made Honorary Captain of the
Trained Bands of Edinburgh--the City Guard--on the 4th of June 1781,
"with the usual solemnity," the minutes state, "and after spending the
evening with grate joy, the whole corps retired, but in distinct
divisions and good order, to quarters."[319]

The business of this body, according to its minutes, seems practically
to have been mostly of a convivial character, and we can sympathise
with the honest pride of the clerk in recording in what a condition of
good order they were able to retire after celebrating that auspicious
occasion with the joy it deserved. Smith no doubt attended their
periodical festivities, or paid his fine of eight magnums of claret
for absence. But their business was not all claret and punch. On the
8th September 1784, for example, the captains, lieutenants, and
ensigns of the Trained Bands were called out, in consequence of an
order from the Lord Provost, "to attend the wheeping of Paull and
Anderson, actors in the late riots at Cannonmills." A rescue riot was
apprehended, and the Trained Bands met in the old Justiciary
Court-room, and were armed there with "stowt oaken sticks." Marching
forth in regular order, they acted as guard to the magistrates during
the day, and "by their formidable and respectable appearance had the
good effect of detering the multitude so that they became only
peaceable spectators." Whether an honorary captain could be called
upon for active service in an emergency I cannot say, but Smith's name
is not mentioned in the list of absentee captains upon this occasion.

In 1783 Smith joined Robertson and others in founding the Royal
Society of Edinburgh. Robertson had long entertained the idea of
establishing a society on the model of the foreign academies for the
cultivation of every branch of science, learning, and taste, and he
was at length moved into action by the steps taken in 1782 by the Earl
of Buchan and others to obtain a royal charter for the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland, founded two years before. Robertson was very
anxious to have only one learned society in Edinburgh, of which
antiquities might be made a branch subject, and he even induced the
University authorities to petition Parliament against granting a
charter of incorporation to the Antiquarian Society. In this strong
step the University was seconded by the Faculty of Advocates and the
old Philosophical Society, founded by Colin Maclaurin in 1739, but
their efforts failed. Out of the agitation, however, the Royal Society
came into being. Whether Smith actively supported Robertson, or
supported him at all, in his exertions against the Antiquarian
Society, I do not know. He was not, as Robertson was, a member of the
Society of Antiquaries. But he was one of the original members of the
Royal Society. The society was divided into two branches,--a physical
branch or class devoted to science; and a literary branch or class
devoted to history and polite letters,--and Smith was one of the four
presidents of the literary class. The Duke of Buccleugh was President
of the whole society; and Smith's colleagues in the presidency of the
literary class were Robertson, Blair, and Baron Gordon (Cosmo Gordon
of Cluny, a Baron of Exchequer and most accomplished man).

Smith never read a paper to this society, nor does he ever seem to
have spoken in it except once or twice on a matter of business which
had been entrusted to him. The only mention of his name in the printed
_Transactions_ is in connection with two prizes of 1000 ducats and 500
ducats respectively, which were offered to all the world in 1785 by
Count J.N. de Windischgraetz for the two most successful inventions of
such legal terminology for every sort of deed as, without imposing any
new restraints on natural liberty, would yet leave no possible room
for doubt or litigation, and would thereby diminish the number of
lawsuits. The Count wished the prizes to be decided by three of the
most distinguished literary academies in Europe, and had chosen for
that purpose the Royal Academy of Science in Paris, which had already
consented to undertake the duty; the Royal Society of Edinburgh, whose
consent the Count now sought; and one of the academies of Germany or
Switzerland which he was afterwards to name. He addressed his
communication to the society through Adam Smith, who must therefore be
assumed to have had some private acquaintance or connection with him;
and on the 9th of July Smith laid the proposal before the Council of
the society, and, as is reported in the _Transactions_, "signified to
the meeting that although he entertained great doubt whether the
problem of the Count de Windischgraetz admitted of any complete and
rational solution, yet the views of the proposer being so highly
laudable, and the object itself being of that nature that even an
approximation to its attainment would be of importance to mankind, he
was therefore of opinion that the society ought to agree to the
request that was made to them. He added that it was his intention to
communicate his sentiments on the subject to the Count by a letter
which he would lay before the Council at a subsequent meeting."[320]
This letter was read to the Council on the 13th of December, and after
being approved, a copy of it was requested for preservation among
their papers, as the author "did not incline that it should be
published in the Transactions of the society."

Nothing further is heard of this business till the 6th of August 1787,
when "Mr. Commissioner Smith acquainted the society that the Count de
Windischgraetz had transmitted to him three dissertations offered as
solutions of his problem, and had desired the judgment of the society
upon their merits. The society referred the consideration of these
papers to Mr. Smith, Mr. Henry Mackenzie of the Exchequer, and Mr.
William Craig, advocate, as a committee to appraise and consider them,
and to report their opinion to the society at a subsequent meeting."
At length, on the 21st January 1788, Mr. Commissioner Smith reported
that this committee thought none of the three dissertations amounted
either to a solution or an approximation to a solution of the Count's
problem, but that one of them was a work of great merit, and the
society asked Mr. A. Fraser Tytler, one of their secretaries, to send
on this opinion to the Count as their verdict.[321]


[316] Seward's _Anecdotes_, ii. 464.

[317] Gibbon's _Miscellaneous Works_, ii. 255.

[318] Saint Fond, _Travels in England, Scotland, and the Hebrides_,
ii. 241.

[319] Skinner's _Society of Trained Bands of Edinburgh_, p. 99.

[320] _Transactions_, R.S.E., i. 39.

[321] _Ibid._, R.S.E., ii. 24.



Notwithstanding the patronage he received from Lord North and his
relations of friendship and obligation with the Duke of Buccleugh and
Henry Dundas, Smith continued to be a warm political supporter of the
Rockingham Whigs and a warm opponent of the North ministry. The first
Earl of Minto (then Sir Gilbert Elliot) visited Edinburgh in 1782, and
wrote in his journal. "I have found one just man in Gomorrah, Adam
Smith, author of the _Wealth of Nations_. He was the Duke of
Buccleugh's tutor, is a wise and deep philosopher, and although made
Commissioner of the Customs here by the Duke and Lord Advocate, is
what I call an _honest fellow_. He wrote a most kind as well as
elegant letter to Burke on his resignation, as I believe I told you
before, and on my mentioning it to him he told me he was the only man
here who spoke out for the Rockinghams."[322] This letter is now lost,
but Burke's answer to it remains, and was sold at Sotheby's a few
years ago. Smith must have expressed the warmest approval of the step
Fox and Burke had taken, on the death of the Marquis of Rockingham in
July 1782, in resigning their offices in the Ministry rather than
serve under their colleague Lord Shelburne, and he must have felt
strongly on the subject to overcome his aversion to letter-writing on
the occasion. Fox and Burke have been much censured for their refusal
to serve under Shelburne, inasmuch as that refusal meant a practical
disruption of the Whig party; and Burke could not help feeling
strengthened, as he says he was in his letter, by the approval of a
man like Smith, who was not only a profound political philosopher, but
a thorough and loyal Whig. Notwithstanding his personal friendship
with Lord Shelburne, Smith never seems to have trusted him as a
political leader. We have already seen him condemning Shelburne at the
time of that statesman's first collision with Fox--the "pious fraud"
occasion--and now nineteen years later he shows the same distrust of
Shelburne, and doubtless for the same reason, that he believed
Shelburne was willing to be subservient to the king's designs, and to
increase the power of the Crown, which it had ever been the aim of the
Whigs to limit. Shelburne's acceptance of office, after the king's
positive refusal to listen to the views of the Rockinghams themselves
regarding the leadership of their own party, was probably regarded by
Smith as a piece of open treason to the popular cause, and open
espousal of the cause of the Court.

In those critical times the thoughts of even private citizens brooded
on the arts of war. An Edinburgh lawyer who had never been at sea
invented the system of naval tactics which gave Rodney his victories,
and here is a Highland laird, who had spent his days among his herds
in Skye, writing Smith about a treatise he has composed on
fortification, which he believes to contain original discoveries of
great importance, and which he sends up to Smith and Henry Mackenzie,
with a five-pound note to pay the expenses of its publication. The
author was Charles Mackinnon of Mackinnon, the chief of his clan, who
fell into adverse circumstances shortly after the date of this
correspondence, and parted with all the old clan property, and the
treatise on fortification itself still exists among the manuscripts of
the British Museum. It is certainly a poor affair, from which the
author could have reaped nothing but disappointment, and Smith, who
seems to have held Mr. Mackinnon in high esteem personally, strongly
dissuades him from giving it to the press. This opinion is
communicated in the following candid but kind letter:--

     DEAR SIR--I received your favour of the 13th of this month,
     and am under some concern to be obliged to tell you that I
     have not only not got out of the press, but that I have not
     yet gone into it, and would most earnestly once more
     recommend it to your consideration whether upon this
     occasion we should go into it at all. It was but within
     these few days that I could obtain a meeting with Mr.
     Mackinzie, who was occupied with the Exchequer Business. I
     find he had seen your papers before, and was of the same
     opinion with me that in their present condition they would
     not do you the honour we wish you to derive from whatever
     work you publish. We read them over together with great care
     and attention, and we both continued of our first opinion. I
     hope you will pardon me if I take the liberty to tell you
     that I cannot discover in them those original ideas which
     you seem to suppose that they contain. I am not very certain
     whether I understand what you hint obscurely in your former
     letter, but it seems to me as if you had some fear that some
     person might anticipate you, and claim the merit of your
     discoveries by publishing them as his own. From the
     character of the gentleman to whom your property has been
     communicated, I should hope there is no danger of this. But
     to prevent the Possibility of the Public being imposed upon
     in this manner, your Papers now lie sealed up in my writing
     Desk, superscribed with directions to my executors to return
     them unopened to you or your heirs as their proper owners.
     In case of my death and that of Mr. M'Kinzie, the production
     of these papers under my seal and superscribed by my hand
     will be sufficient to refute any plagiarism of this kind.
     While we live our evidence will secure to you the reputation
     of whatever discoveries may be contained in them. I return
     you the five Pound note, in hopes that you will not insist
     upon this publication, at least for some time; at any rate,
     I shall always be happy to advance a larger sum upon your
     account, though I own I could wish it was for some other
     purpose. I have not shown your Papers to Smellie. It will
     give me great pleasure to hear from you, and to be informed
     that you forgive the freedom I have used in offering you, I
     am afraid, a disagreeable advice. I can assure you that
     nothing but the respect which I think I owe to the character
     of a person whom I know to be a man of worth, delicacy, and
     honour, could have extorted it from me.--I ever am, dear
     sir, most faithfully yours,



     _21st August 1782_.

     If you should not chuse that your Papers should remain in my
     custody, I shall either send them to you or deliver to whom
     you please.[323]

While one Highland laird was planning to save his country by an
improved system of fortification, another was conceiving a grander
project of saving her by continental alliances. The moment was among
the darkest England has ever passed through. We were engaged in a
death-struggle against France, Spain, and the American colonies
combined. Cornwallis had just repeated at Yorktown the humiliating
surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga. Elliot lay locked in Gibraltar.
Ireland was growing restive and menacing on one side, and the Northern
powers of Europe on the other--the Armed Neutrality, as they were
called--sat and watched, with their hands on their sword-hilts and a
grudge against England in their hearts. Now Sir John Sinclair believed
that these neutral powers held the key of the situation, and wrote a
pamphlet in 1782, which he proposed to translate into their respective
tongues for the purpose of persuading them to join this country in a
crusade against the House of Bourbon, and "to emancipate the colonies
both in the West Indies and on the continent of America for the
general interest of all nations." The price he was prepared to offer
these powers for their adhesion was to be a share in the colonial
commerce of England, and the acquisition of some of the French and
Spanish colonial dependencies for themselves. Sinclair sent his
pamphlet to Smith, apparently with a request for his opinion on the
advisability of translating it for the conversion of the powers, and
he received the following reply. I may add that I have not been able
to see this pamphlet, but that it is evidently not the pamphlet
entitled "Impartial Considerations on the Propriety of retaining
Gibraltar," as Sinclair's biographer supposes; for in the former
pamphlet Sinclair is advocating not only a continuance, but an
extension of the war, whereas in the latter he has come round to the
advocacy of peace, and instead of contemplating the deprivation of
France and Spain of their colonies, he recommends the cession of
Gibraltar as a useless and expensive possession, using very much the
same line of argument which Smith suggests in this letter. Smith's
letter very probably had some influence in changing his views, though
it is true the idea of ceding Gibraltar was in 1782 much favoured by a
party in Lord Shelburne's government, and even by the king himself.

Smith's letter ran thus:--

     MY DEAR SIR--I have read your pamphlet several times with
     great pleasure, and am very much pleased with the style and
     composition. As to what effect it might produce if
     translated upon the Powers concerned in the Armed
     Neutrality, I am a little doubtful. It is too plainly
     partial to England. It proposes that the force of the Armed
     Neutrality should be employed in recovering to England the
     islands she has lost, and the compensation which it is
     proposed that England should give for this service is the
     islands which they may conquer for themselves, with the
     assistance of England indeed, from France and Spain. There
     seems to me besides to be some inconsistency in the
     argument. If it be just to emancipate the continent of
     America from the dominion of every European power, how can
     it be just to subject the islands to such dominion? and if
     the monopoly of the trade of the continent be contrary to
     the rights of mankind, how can that of the islands be
     agreeable to these rights? The real futility of all distant
     dominions, of which the defence is necessarily most
     expensive, and which contribute nothing, either by revenue
     or military forces, to the general defence of the empire,
     and very little even to their own particular defence, is, I
     think, the subject on which the public prejudices of Europe
     require most to be set right. In order to defend the barren
     rock of Gibraltar (to the possession of which we owe the
     union of France and Spain, contrary to the natural interests
     and inveterate prejudices of both countries, the important
     enmity of Spain and the futile and expensive friendship of
     Portugal) we have now left our own coasts defenceless, and
     sent out a great fleet, to which any considerable disaster
     may prove fatal to our domestic security; and which, in
     order to effectuate its purpose, must probably engage a
     fleet of superior force. Sore eyes have made me delay
     writing to you so long.--I ever am, my dear sir, your most
     faithful and affectionate humble servant,



     _14th October 1782_.[324]

The strong opinion expressed in this letter of the uselessness of
colonial dependencies, which contributed nothing to the maintenance of
the mother country, had of course been already expressed in the
_Wealth of Nations_. "Perish uncontributing colonies" is the very pith
of the last sentence of that work. "If any of the provinces of the
British Empire cannot be made to contribute towards the support of the
whole empire, it is surely time that Great Britain should free herself
from the expense of defending those provinces in time of war and of
supporting any part of their civil or military establishments in time
of peace; and endeavour to accommodate her future views and designs to
the real mediocrity of her circumstances."

The principles of free trade presently got an impetus from the
conclusion of peace with America and France in 1783. Lord Shelburne
wrote Abbé Morellet in 1783 that the treaties of that year were
inspired from beginning to end by "the great principle of free trade,"
and that "a peace was good in the exact proportion that it recognised
that principle." A fitting opportunity was thought to have arisen for
making somewhat extended applications of the principle, and many
questions were asked about how far such applications should go in this
direction or that. When the American Intercourse Bill was before the
House in 1783, one of Lord Shelburne's colleagues in the Ministry,
William Eden, approached Smith in considerable perplexity as to the
wisdom of conceding to the new republic free commercial intercourse
with this country and our colonies. Eden had already done something
for free trade in Ireland, and he was presently to earn a name as a
great champion of that principle, after successfully negotiating with
Dupont de Nemours the Commercial Treaty with France in 1786; but in
1787 he had not accepted the principle so completely as his chief,
Lord Shelburne. Perhaps, indeed, he never took a firm hold of the
principle at any time, for Smith always said of him, "He is but a man
of detail."[325] Anyhow, when he wrote Smith in 1783 he was under
serious alarm at the proposal to give the United States the same
freedom to trade with Canada and Nova Scotia as we enjoyed ourselves.
Being so near those colonies, the States would be sure to oust Great
Britain and Ireland entirely out of the trade of provisioning them.
The Irish fisheries would be ruined, the English carrying trade would
be lost. The Americans, with fur at their doors, could easily beat us
in hats, and if we allowed them to import our tools free, they would
beat us in everything else for which they had the raw materials in
plenty. Eden and Smith seem to have exchanged several letters on this
subject, but none of them remain except the following one from Smith,
in which he declares that it would be an injustice to our own colonies
to restrict their trade with the United States merely to benefit Irish
fish-curers or English hatters, and to be bad policy to impose special
discouragements on the trade of one foreign nation which are not
imposed on the trade of others. His argument is not, it will be
observed, for free trade, which he perhaps thought then impracticable,
but merely for equality of treatment,--equality of treatment between
the British subject in Canada and the British subject in England, and
equality of treatment between the American nation and the Russian, or
French, or Spanish.

     DEAR SIR--If the Americans really mean to subject the goods
     of all different nations to the same duties and to grant
     them the same indulgence, they set an example of good sense
     which all other nations ought to imitate. At any rate it is
     certainly just that their goods, their naval stores for
     example, should be subjected to the same duties to which we
     subject those of Russia, Sweden, and Denmark, and that we
     should treat them as they mean to treat us and all other

     What degree of commercial connection we should allow between
     the remaining colonies, whether in North America or the West
     Indies, and the United States may to some people appear a
     more difficult question. My own opinion is that it should be
     allowed to go on as before, and whatever inconveniences
     result from this freedom may be remedied as they occur. The
     lumber and provisions of the United States are more
     necessary to our West India Islands than the rum and sugar
     of the latter are to the former. Any interruption or
     restraint of commerce would hurt our loyal much more than
     our revolted subjects. Canada and Nova Scotia cannot justly
     be refused at least the same freedom of commerce which we
     grant to the United States.

     I suspect the Americans do not mean what they say. I have
     seen a Revenue Act of South Carolina by which two shillings
     are laid upon every hundredweight of brown sugar imported
     from the British plantations, and only eighteenpence upon
     that imported from any foreign colony. Upon every pound of
     refined sugar from the former one penny, from the latter one
     halfpenny. Upon every gallon of French wine twopence; of
     Spanish wine threepence; of Portuguese wine fourpence.

     I have little anxiety about what becomes of the American
     commerce. By an equality of treatment of all nations we must
     soon open a commerce with the neighbouring nations of Europe
     infinitely more advantageous than that of so distant a
     country as America. This is an immense subject upon which
     when I wrote to you last I intended to have sent you a
     letter of many sheets, but as I expect to see you in a few
     weeks I shall not trouble you with so tedious a
     dissertation. I shall only say at present that every
     extraordinary, either encouragement or discouragement that
     is given to the trade of any country more than to that of
     another may, I think, be demonstrated to be in every case a
     complete piece of dupery, by which the interest of the state
     and the nation is constantly sacrificed to that of some
     particular class of traders. I heartily congratulate you
     upon the triumphant manner in which the East India Bill has
     been carried through the Lower House. I have no doubt of
     its passing through the Upper House in the same manner. The
     decisive judgment and resolution with which Mr. Fox has
     introduced and supported that Bill does him the highest
     honour.--I ever am, with the greatest respect and esteem,
     dear sir, your most affectionate and most humble servant,


     EDINBURGH, _15th December 1783_.[326]

Fox's East India Bill, of which Smith expresses such unqualified
commendation, proposed to transfer the government of British India
from the Court of Directors of the East India Company to a new board
of Crown nominees. This measure was entirely to Smith's mind. He had
already in the former editions of his book condemned the company
which, as he says, "oppresses and domineers in India," and in the
additional matter which he wrote about the company immediately before
this bill was introduced he declared of them that "no other sovereigns
ever were, or, from the nature of things, ever could be, so perfectly
indifferent about the happiness or misery of their subjects, the
improvement or waste of their dominions, the glory or disgrace of
their administration, as, from irresistible moral causes, the greater
part of the proprietors of such a mercantile company are and
necessarily must be."


[322] Lady Minto's _Life of the Earl of Minto_, i. 84.

[323] Add. MSS., 5035.

[324] _Correspondence of Sir John Sinclair_, i. 389.

[325] Mackintosh, _Miscellaneous Works_, iii. 17.

[326] _Journals and Correspondence of Lord Auckland_, i. 64.




Burke had been elected Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow in
November 1783 in succession to Dundas, and he came down to Scotland to
be installed in the following April. He spent altogether eight or ten
days in the country, and he spent them all in the company of Smith,
who attended him wherever he went. Burke and Smith, always profound
admirers of one another's writings, had grown warm friends during the
recent lengthened residence of the latter in London. Even in the
brilliant circle round the brown table in Gerrard Street there was
none Burke loved or esteemed more highly than Smith. One of the
statesman's biographers informs us, on the authority of an eminent
literary friend, who paid him a visit at Beaconsfield after his
retirement from public life, that he then spoke with the warmest
admiration of Smith's vast learning, his profound understanding, and
the great importance of his writings, and added that his heart was as
good and rare as his head, and that his manners were "peculiarly
pleasing."[327] Smith on his part was drawn to Burke by no less
powerful an attraction. He once paid him a compliment with which the
latter appears to have been particularly gratified, for he repeated it
to his literary friend on this same occasion. "Burke," said the
economist, "is the only man I ever knew who thinks on economic
subjects exactly as I do, without any previous communications having
passed between us."[328]

The installation of Lord Rector was to take place on Saturday the 10th
of April, and Burke arrived in Edinburgh on Tuesday or Wednesday
previous. Whether he was Smith's guest while there I am unable to say,
but at any rate it was Smith who did the honours of the town to him,
and accompanied him wherever he went. Dalzel, the Greek professor,
gives an account of the statesman's visit, to his old friend and
class-fellow, Sir Robert Liston, and states that "Lord Maitland
attended him constantly and Mr. Adam Smith. They brought him," he
adds, "to my house the day after he arrived." Lord Maitland was the
eldest son of the Earl of Lauderdale, and became a well-known figure
both in politics and in scientific economics after he succeeded to the
peerage himself. I have already mentioned him for his admiration of
Smith, and his defence of him from the disparaging remarks of Fox,
though he was himself no blind follower of the _Wealth of Nations_,
but one of the earliest and not the least acute of the critics of that
work. He was at this time one of the rising hopes of the Whigs in the
House of Commons, which he had entered as representative of a Cornish
borough in 1780. Dalzel had been his tutor, and had accompanied him in
that capacity to Oxford; and being also a great favourite with Smith,
whom he respected above all things for his knowledge of Greek, he was
naturally among the first of the eminent citizens to whom they
introduced their distinguished guest.

On Thursday morning Burke and Smith went out with Lord Maitland to
Hatton, the Lauderdale seat in Midlothian, to dine and stay the night
there on their way to Glasgow, and Dugald Stewart and Dalzel joined
them later in the day after they had finished their college classes.
The conversation happened very naturally to touch on party prospects,
for they were at the moment in the thick of a general election--the
famous election of 1784, so fatal to the Whigs, when near 160
supporters of the Coalition Ministry--"Fox's martyrs"--lost their
seats, and Pitt was sent back with an enormous majority behind him.
Parliament had been dissolved a fortnight before, and many of the
elections were already past; Burke himself had been returned for
Malton on his way north, but the battle was still raging; in
Westminster, where the Whig chief was himself fighting, it lasted a
month longer, and in many other constituencies the event was as yet
undecided. As far as returns had been made, however, things had gone
hard with the Whigs, and Burke was despondent. He had been some twenty
years in public life without his party being in power as many months,
and since the party seemed now doomed, as indeed it was, to twenty
years of opposition again, he turned to Lord Maitland and said, "Lord
Maitland, if you want to be in office, if you have any ambition or
wish to be successful in life, shake us off, give us up." But Smith
intervened, and with singular hopefulness ventured to prophesy that in
two years things would certainly come round again. "Why," replied
Burke, "I have already been in a minority nineteen years, and your two
years, Mr. Smith, will just make me twenty-one, and it will surely be
high time for me to be then in my majority."[329]

Smith's hearty remark implies his continued loyalty to the
Rockinghams, and shows that just as he two years before approved of
their separation from Lord Shelburne, which many Whig critics have
censured, so he now equally approved of their coalition with their old
adversary, Lord North, which Whig critics have censured more severely
still. But his sanguine forecast was far astray. Burke never again
returned to office, and the whole conversation reads strangely in the
light of subsequent events. Only a few years more and Burke had
himself shaken off his friends--from no view to power, it is
true--and the young nobleman to whom he gave the advice in jest was to
take the lead in avenging the desertion, and to denounce the pension
it was proposed to give him as the wages of apostasy. The French
Revolution, which drove Burke back to a more conservative position,
carried Lord Maitland, who had drunk in Radicalism from Professor John
Millar, forward into the republican camp. He went over to Paris with
Dugald Stewart and harangued the mob on the streets _pour la
liberté_,[330] and he said one day to the Duchess of Gordon, "I hope,
madame, ere long to have the pleasure of introducing Mrs. Maitland to
Mrs. Gordon."[331]

On the present occasion at Hatton, however, they were all one in their
lamentations over the temporary eclipse the cause of liberty had
suffered. On the following morning they all set out together for
Glasgow, Stewart and Dalzel being able to accompany them because it
was Good Friday, and Good Friday was then a holiday at Edinburgh
University. They supped that evening with Professor John Millar,
Smith's pupil and Lord Maitland's master, and next day they assisted
at the ceremony of installation. The chief business was of course the
Rector's address, described in the _Annual Register_ of the year as "a
very polite and elegant speech suited to the occasion." Tradition says
Burke broke down in this speech, and after speaking five minutes
concluded abruptly by saying he was unable to proceed, as he had never
addressed so learned an audience before; but though the tradition is
mentioned by Jeffrey, who was a student at Glasgow only three years
afterwards, and is more definitely stated by Professor Young of the
same University in his _Lectures on Intellectual Philosophy_ (p. 334),
there appears to be no solid foundation for it whatever. It is not
mentioned by Dalzel, who would be unlikely to omit so interesting a
circumstance in the gossiping account of the affair which he gives in
his letter to Sir R. Liston.

After the installation they adjourned to the College chapel for divine
service, where they heard a sermon from Professor Arthur, and then
they dined in the College Hall. On Sunday Stewart and Dalzel returned
to Edinburgh for their classes next day, but Smith and Lord Maitland
accompanied Burke on an excursion to Loch Lomond, of which we know
Smith was a great admirer. He said to Samuel Rogers it was the finest
lake in Great Britain, and the feature that pleased him particularly
was the contrast between the islands and the shore.[332] They did not
return to Edinburgh till Wednesday, and they returned then by way of
Carron, probably to see the ironworks. On Thursday evening they dined
at Smith's, Dalzel being again of the party. Burke seems to have been
at his best--"the most agreeable and entertaining man in conversation
I ever knew," says Dalzel. "We got a vast deal of political anecdotes
from him, and fine pictures of political characters both dead and
living. Whether they were impartially drawn or not, that is
questionable, but they were admirably drawn."[333]

The elections were still proceeding, and the 29th of April was fixed
for the election in Lanarkshire, which had been represented for the
previous ten years by a strong personal friend of Smith, Andrew Stuart
of Torrance. I have already mentioned Stuart's name in connection with
his candidature for the Indian Commissionership, for which Sir William
Pulteney thought of proposing Smith. Though now forgotten, he was a
notable person in his day. He came first strongly into public notice
during the proceedings in the Douglas cause. Having, as law-agent for
the Duke of Hamilton, borne the chief part in preparing the Hamilton
side of the case, he was attacked in the House of Lords--and attacked
with quite unusual virulence--both by Thurlow, the counsel for the
other side, and by Lord Mansfield, one of the judges; and he met those
attacks by fighting a duel with Thurlow, and writing a series of
letters to Lord Mansfield, which obtained much attention and won him a
high name for ability. Shortly thereafter--in 1774--he entered
Parliament as member for Lanarkshire, and made such rapid mark that he
was appointed a Commissioner of Trade and Plantations in 1779, and
seemed destined to higher office. But now in 1784, on the very eve of
the election, Stuart suddenly retired from the field, in consequence
apparently of some personal considerations arising between himself and
the Duke of Hamilton. He was extremely anxious to have his reasons for
this unexpected step immediately and fully explained to his personal
friends in Edinburgh, and on the 22nd of April--the day before he
wrote his resignation--he sent his whole correspondence with the Duke
of Hamilton about the matter through to John Davidson, W.S., for their
perusal, and especially, it would appear, for the perusal of Smith,
the only one he names. "There is particularly," he says, "one friend,
Mr. Adam Smith, whom I wish to be fully informed of everything." Being
the only friend specifically named in the letter, Smith seems to have
been consulted by Davidson as to any other "particular friends" to
whom the correspondence should be submitted, and he wrote Davidson on
the 7th of May 1784 advising him to show it to Campbell of Stonefield,
one of the Lords of Session, and a brother-in-law of Lord Bute. He

     My Lord Stonefield is an old attached and faithful friend of
     A. Stuart. The papers relative to the County of Lanark may
     safely be communicated to him. He is perfectly convinced of
     the propriety of what you and I agreed upon, that the
     subject ought to be talked of as little as possible, and
     never but among his most intimate and cordial friends.

     A. SMITH.

     _Friday, 7th May_.[334]

After being brightened by the agreeable visit of Burke, Smith was
presently cast into the deepest sadness by what seems to have been the
first trouble of his singularly serene and smooth life--the death of
his mother. She died on the 23rd of May, in her ninetieth year. The
three avenues to Smith, says the Earl of Buchan, were always his
mother, his books, and his political opinions--his mother apparently
first of all. They had lived together, off and on, for sixty years,
and being most tenderly attached to her, he is said, after her death,
never to have seemed the same again. According to Ramsay of
Ochtertyre, he was so disconsolate that people in general could find
no explanation except in his supposed unbelief in the resurrection. He
sorrowed, they said, as those who have no hope. People in general
would seem to have little belief in the natural affections; but while
they extracted from Smith's filial love a proof of his infidelity,
Archdeacon John Sinclair seeks to extract from it a demonstration of
his religious faith. It appears that when Mrs. Smith was visited on
her deathbed by her minister, her famous son always remained in the
room and joined in the prayers, though they were made in the name and
for the sake of Christ; and the worthy Archdeacon thinks no infidel
would have done that.

The depression Smith showed after his mother's death, however, was
unfortunately due in part to the fact that his own health was
beginning to fail. He was now sixty-one; as Stewart tells us, he aged
very rapidly, and in two years more he was in the toils of the malady
that carried him off. The shock of his mother's death could not help
therefore telling severely upon him in his declining bodily condition.

Burke was--no doubt at Smith's instance--elected Fellow of the Royal
Society of Edinburgh in June 1784, in spite of several black balls;
for, as Dalzel observes, "it would seem that there are some violent
politicians among us"; and in August 1785 he was again in Scotland
attending to the duties of his Rectorship. He was accompanied this
time by Windham, who was the most attached and the most beloved of his
political disciples, and who had been a student at Glasgow himself in
1766. If Dalzel was delighted with Burke, he was enchanted with
Windham, for, says he to Liston, "besides his being a polite man and a
man of the world, he is perhaps the very best Greek scholar I ever met
with. He did me the honour of breakfasting with me one morning, and
sat for three hours talking about Greek. When we were at Hatton he and
I stole away as often as we could from the rest of the company to read
and talk about Greek.... You may judge how I would delight in him."
Smith was not at Hatton with them this time, but he saw much of them
in Edinburgh.

Smith had probably known Windham already, but at any rate, as soon as
Burke and he arrived in Edinburgh on the 24th of August and took their
quarters in Dun's Hotel, they paid a visit to Smith, and next day they
dined with him at his house. Among the guests mentioned by Windham as
being present were Robertson; Henry Erskine, who had recently been
Burke's colleague in the Coalition Ministry as Lord Advocate; and Mr.
Cullen, probably the doctor, though it may have been his son
(afterwards a judge), who lives in fame chiefly for his feats as a
mimic. Windham gives us no scrap of their conversation except a few
remarks of Robertson about Holyrood; and though he says he recollected
no one else of the company except those he has mentioned, there was at
least one other guest whose presence there that evening he was shortly
afterwards to have somewhat romantic occasion to recall. This was Sir
John Sinclair, who had just re-entered Parliament for a constituency
at the Land's End, after having been defeated in the Wick burghs by
Fox. Burke and Windham proposed making a tour in the Highlands, and
Sir John advised them strongly, when they came to the beautiful
district between Blair-Athole and Dunkeld, to leave their post-chaise
for that stage and walk through the woods and glens on foot. They
took the advice, and about ten miles from Dunkeld came upon a young
lady, the daughter of a neighbouring proprietor, reading a novel under
a tree. They entered into conversation with her, and Windham was so
much struck with her smartness and talent that though he was obliged
at the time, as he said, most reluctantly to leave her, he, three
years afterwards, came to Sinclair in the House of Commons and said to
him, "I have never been able to get this beautiful mountain nymph out
of my mind, and I wish you to ascertain whether she is married or
single." Windham was too late. She was already married to Dr.
Dick--afterwards a much-trusted medical adviser of Sir Walter
Scott--and had gone with her husband to the East Indies.

They returned to Edinburgh on the 13th of September, and, says
Windham, "after dinner walked to Adam Smith's. Felt strongly the
impression of a family completely Scotch. House magnificent and place
fine.... Found there Colonels Balfour and Ross, the former late
aide-de-camp to General Howe, the latter to Lord Cornwallis. Felt
strongly the impression of a company completely Scotch."

Colonel Nesbit Balfour, who won great distinction in the American war,
was the son of one of Smith's old Fifeshire neighbours, a proprietor
in that county, and became afterwards well known in Parliament, where
he sat from 1790 to 1812. Colonel (afterwards General) Alexander Ross
had also taken a distinguished part in the American war, and was
Cornwallis's most intimate friend and correspondent. He was at this
time Deputy-Adjutant-General of the Forces in Scotland. Whether he was
a relation of the Colonel Patrick Ross of whom Smith speaks in one of
his letters as a kinsman of his own,[335] I cannot say.

Next day, the 14th, Burke and Windham dined with Smith. There was no
other guest except a Mr. Skene, no doubt one of Smith's cousins from
Pitlour, probably the Inspector-General of Scotch Roads already
mentioned.[336] On the following morning the two statesmen proceeded
on their way southward.

One of the visits Burke paid in Edinburgh was to a charming poet, to
whom fortune has been singularly unkind, not only treating him cruelly
when alive, but instead of granting the usual posthumous reparation,
treating him even more cruelly after his death. I mean John Logan, the
author of the _Ode to the Cuckoo_, which Burke thought the most
beautiful lyric in the language. Logan was at the moment in the thick
of his troubles. He had written a tragedy called _Runnymede_, which,
though accepted by the management of Covent Garden, was prohibited by
the Lord Chamberlain, who scented current politics in the bold
speeches of the Barons of King John, but it was eventually produced in
the Edinburgh theatre in 1783. Its production immediately involved the
author, as one of the ministers of Leith, in difficulties with his
parishioners and the ecclesiastical courts similar to those which John
Home had encountered twenty years before, and the trouble ended in
Logan resigning his charge in December 1786 on a pension of £40 a
year. Smith, who was an admirer and, as Dr. Carlyle mentions to Bishop
Douglas, a "great patron" of Logan, stood by him through these
troubles. When they first broke out in 1783 he wished, as Logan
himself tells his old pupil Sir John Sinclair, to get the poet
transferred if possible from his parish in Leith to the more liberal
and enlightened parish of the Canongate, and when Logan eventually
made up his mind to take refuge in literature, Smith gave him the
following letter of introduction to Andrew Strahan, who had, since his
father's death, become the head of the firm:--

     DEAR SIR--Mr. Logan, a clergyman of uncommon learning,
     taste, and ingenuity, but who cannot easily submit to the
     puritanical spirit of this country, quits his charge and
     proposes to settle in London, where he will probably
     exercise what may be called the trade of a man of letters.
     He has published a few poems, of which several have great
     merit, and which are probably not unknown to you. He has
     likewise published a tragedy, which I cannot say I admire in
     the least. He has another in manuscript, founded and almost
     translated from a French drama, which is much better. But
     the best of all his works which I have seen are some
     lectures upon universal history, which were read here some
     years ago, but which, notwithstanding they were approved and
     even admired by some of the best and most impartial judges,
     were run down by the prevalence of a hostile literary
     faction, to the leaders of which he had imprudently given
     some personal offence. Give me leave to recommend him most
     earnestly to your countenance and protection. If he was
     employed on a review he would be an excellent hand for
     giving an account of all books of taste, of history, and of
     moral and abstract philosophy.--I ever am, my dear sir, most
     faithfully and affectionately yours,

     ADAM SMITH.[337]

     EDINBURGH, _29th September 1785_.

The lectures which Smith praises so highly were published in 1779, and
are interesting as one of the first adventures in what was afterwards
known as the philosophy of history. But his memory rests now on his
poems, which Smith thought less of, and especially on his _Ode to the
Cuckoo_, which he has been accused so often of stealing from his
deceased friend Michael Bruce, but to which his title has at last been
put beyond all doubt by Mr. Small's publication of a letter, written
to Principal Baird in 1791, by Dr. Robertson of Dalmeny, who acted as
joint editor with him of their common friend Bruce's poems.[338]


[327] Bisset's _Life of Burke_, ii. 429.

[328] Bisset's _Life of Burke_, ii. 429.

[329] Innes's Memoir of Dalzel in Dalzel's _History of University of
Edinburgh_, i. 42.

[330] Add. MSS., 32,567.

[331] Best's _Anecdotes_, p. 25.

[332] Clayden's _Early Life of Samuel Rogers_, p. 92.

[333] Dalzel's _History of the University of Edinburgh_, i. 42.

[334] Edinburgh University Library.

[335] See above, p. 361.

[336] See above, p. 243.

[337] Morrison MSS.

[338] Small, _Michael Bruce and the Ode to the Cuckoo_, p. 7.



Dr. Richard Price had recently stirred a sensation by his attempt to
prove that the population of England was declining, and had actually
declined by nearly 30 per cent since the Revolution, and the first to
enter the lists against him was William Eden, who in his _Fifth Letter
to the Earl of Carlisle_, published in 1780, exposes the weakness of
Price's statistics, and argues that both the population and the trade
of the country had increased. Price replied to these criticisms in the
same year, and now in 1785 Eden appears to have been contemplating a
return to the subject and the publication of another work upon it, in
connection with which he entered upon a correspondence with Smith, for
the two following letters bearing on this population question of last
century, though neither of them bears any name or address, seem most
likely to have been written to that politician.

Price had drawn his alarmist conclusions from rough estimates founded
on the revenue returns. From a comparison of the hearth-money returns
before the Revolution with the window and house tax returns of his own
time he guessed at the number of dwelling-houses in the country, and
from the number of dwelling-houses he guessed at the number of
inhabitants by simply supposing each house to contain five persons. He
further tried to support his conclusion by figures drawn from bills of
mortality and by references to colonial emigration, consolidation of
farms, the growth of London, and the progress of luxury.

Smith thought very poorly of those ill-founded speculations, and even
of their author generally, and he appears to have called Eden's
attention to a population return relative to Scotland which furnished
a sounder basis for a just estimate of the numbers of the people than
the statistics on which Price relied. This was a return of the number
of examinable persons in every parish of Scotland which had been
obtained in 1755 by Dr. Alexander Webster, at the desire of Lord
President Dundas, for the information of the Government. Public
catechisings were then, and in many parishes are still, part of the
ordinary duties of the minister, who visited each hamlet and district
of his parish successively for the purpose every year, and
consequently every minister kept a list of the examinable persons in
his parish--the persons who were old enough to answer his questions on
the Bible or Shorter Catechism. None were too old to be exempt.
Webster procured copies of these lists for every parish in Scotland,
and when he added to each a certain proportion to represent the number
of persons under examinable age, he had a fairly accurate statement of
the population of the country. He appears to have procured the lists
for 1779 as well as those for 1755, and to have ascertained from a
comparison of the two that the population of Scotland had remained
virtually stationary during that quarter of a century, the increase in
the commercial and manufacturing districts being counterbalanced by a
diminution in the purely agricultural districts, due to the
consolidation of farms. That, at least, was the impression of the
officials of the Ministers' Widows' Fund, through whom the
correspondence on the subject with the ministers had been
conducted; and they threw doubt on an observation of a contrary
import--apparently to the effect that the population of Scotland was
increasing--which Smith heard Webster make in one of those hours of
merriment for which that popular and useful divine seems destined to
be remembered when his public services are forgotten.

Smith's first letter runs thus:--

     SIR--I have been so long in answering your very obliging
     letter of the 8th inst. that I am afraid you will imagine I
     have been forgetting or neglecting it. I hoped to send one
     of the accounts by the post after I received your letter,
     but some difficulties have occurred which I was not aware
     of, and you may yet be obliged to wait a few days for it. In
     the meantime I send you a note extracted from Mr. Webster's
     book by his clerk, who was of great use to him in composing
     it, and who has made several corrections upon it since.

     My letters as a Commissioner of the Customs are paid at the
     Custom House, and my correspondents receive them duty free.
     I should otherwise have taken the liberty to enclose them,
     as you direct, under Mr. Rose's cover. It may perhaps give
     that gentleman pleasure to be informed that the net revenue
     arising from the customs in Scotland is at least four times
     greater than it was seven or eight years ago. It has been
     increasing rapidly these four or five years past, and the
     revenue of this year has overleaped by at least one-half the
     revenue of the greatest former year. I flatter myself it is
     likely to increase still further. The development of the
     causes of this augmentation would require a longer
     discussion than this letter will admit.

     Price's speculations cannot fail to sink into the neglect
     that they have always deserved. I have always considered him
     as a factious citizen, a most superficial philosopher, and
     by no means an able calculator.--I have the honour to be,
     with great respect and esteem, sir, your most faithful
     humble servant,


     CUSTOM HOUSE, EDINBURGH, _22nd December 1785_.

     I shall certainly think myself very much honoured by any
     notice you may think proper to take of my book.[339]

The second letter followed in a few days:--

     EDINBURGH, _3rd January 1786_.

     SIR--The accounts of the imports and exports of Scotland
     which you wanted are sent by this day's post to Mr. Rose.

     Since I wrote to you last I have conversed with Sir Henry
     Moncreiff, Dr. Webster's successor as collector of the fund
     for the maintenance of clergymen's widows, and with his
     clerk, who was likewise clerk to Dr. Webster, and who was of
     great use to the Doctor in the composition of the very book
     which I mentioned to you in a former letter. They are both
     of opinion that the conversation I had with Dr. Webster a
     few months before his death must have been the effect of a
     momentary and sudden thought, and not of any serious or
     deliberate consideration or inquiry. It was, indeed, at a
     very jolly table and in the midst of much mirth and jollity,
     of which the worthy Doctor, among many other useful and
     amiable qualities, was a very great lover and promoter. They
     told me that in the year 1779 a copy of the Doctor's book
     was made out by his clerk for the use of my Lord North. That
     at the end of that book the Doctor had subjoined a note to
     the following purpose, that though between 1755 and 1779 the
     numbers in the great trading and manufacturing towns and
     villages were considerably increased, yet the Highlands and
     Islands were much depopulated, and even the low country, by
     the enlargement of farms, in some degree; so that the whole
     numbers, he imagined, must be nearly the same at both
     periods. Both these gentlemen believe that this was the last
     deliberate judgment which Dr. Webster ever formed upon this
     subject. The lists mentioned in the note are the lists of
     what are called examinable persons--that is, of persons
     upwards of seven or eight years of age, who are supposed fit
     to be publicly examined upon religious and moral subjects.
     Most of our country clergy keep examination rolls of this

     My Lord North will, I dare to say, be happy to accommodate
     you with the use of this book. It is a great curiosity,
     though the conversation I mentioned to you had a little
     shaken my faith in it--I am glad now to suppose, without
     much reason.--I have the honour to be, with the highest
     regard, sir, your most obedient humble servant,

     ADAM SMITH.[340]

A new edition of the _Wealth of Nations_--the fourth--appeared in
1786, without any alteration in the text from the previous one, but
the author prefixed to it an advertisement acknowledging the very
great obligations he had been under to Mr. Henry Hope, the banker at
Amsterdam, for (to quote the words of the advertisement) "the most
distinct as well as the most liberal information concerning a very
interesting and important subject, the Bank of Amsterdam, of which no
printed account has ever appeared to me satisfactory or even
intelligible. The name of that gentleman is so well known in Europe,
the information which comes from him must do so much honour to whoever
has been favoured with it, and my vanity is so much interested in
making this acknowledgment, that I can no longer refuse myself the
pleasure of prefixing this advertisement to this new edition of my

Smith had now, as he says in the following letter, reached his grand
climacteric--his sixty-third year, according to the old belief, the
last and most dangerous of the periodical crises to which man's bodily
life was supposed to be subject--and the winter of 1786-87 laid him so
low with a chronic obstruction of the bowels that Robertson wrote
Gibbon they were in great danger of losing him. That was the winter
Burns was in Edinburgh, and it was doubtless owing to this illness and
Smith's consequent inability to go into society, that he and the poet
never met. Burns obtained a letter of introduction to Smith from their
common friend Mrs. Dunlop, but writes her on the 19th of April that
when he called he found Smith had gone to London the day before,
having recovered, as we know he did, sufficiently in spring to go up
there for the purpose of consulting John Hunter. He was still in
Edinburgh in March, however, and wrote Bishop Douglas a letter
introducing one of his Fifeshire neighbours, Robert Beatson, the
author of the well-known and very useful _Political Index_. Beatson
had been an officer of the Engineers, but had retired on half-pay in
1766 and become an agriculturist in his native county. While there he
compiled his unique and valuable work, which he published in 1786 and
dedicated to his old friend Adam Smith. A new edition was called for
within a year, and the author proposed to add some new matter, on
which he desired the advice of Bishop Douglas. Hence this letter:--

     DEAR SIR--This letter will be delivered to you by Mr. Robert
     Beatson of Vicars Grange, in Fifeshire, a very worthy friend
     of mine, and my neighbour in the country for more than ten
     years together. He has lately published a very useful book
     called a Political Index, which has been very successful,
     and which he now proposes to republish with some additions.
     He wishes much to have your good advice with regard to these
     additions, and indeed with regard to every other part of his
     book. And indeed, without flattering you, I know no man so
     fit to give him good advice upon this subject. May I
     therefore beg leave to introduce him to your acquaintance,
     and to recommend him most earnestly to your best advice and
     assistance. You will find him a very good-natured,
     well-informed, inoffensive, and obliging companion.

     I was exceedingly vexed and not a little offended when I
     heard that you had passed through this town some time ago
     without calling upon me, or letting me know that you was in
     our neighbourhood. My anger, however, which was very fierce,
     is now a good deal abated, and if you promise to behave
     better for the future, it is not impossible that I may
     forgive the past.

     This year I am in my grand climacteric, and the state of my
     health has been a good deal worse than usual. I am getting
     better and better, however, every day, and I begin to
     flatter myself that with good pilotage I shall be able to
     weather this dangerous promontory of human life, after which
     I hope to sail in smooth water for the remainder of my
     days.--I am ever, my dear sir, most faithfully and
     affectionately yours,


     EDINBURGH, _6th March 1787_.[341]


[339] Original in possession of Mr. Alfred Morrison.

[340] Original in Edinburgh University Library.

[341] Egerton MSS., British Museum, 2181.



1787. _Aet._ 64

In April he had improved enough to undertake the journey to London to
consult Hunter, but he was wasted to a skeleton. William
Playfair--brother of his friend the Professor of Mathematics, and
afterwards one of the early editors of the _Wealth of Nations_--met
him soon after his arrival in London, and says he was looking very
ill, and was evidently going to decay. While in his usual health he
was, though not corpulent, yet rather stout than spare, but he was now
reduced to skin and bone. He was able, however, to move about in
society and see old friends and make new. Windham in his Diary
mentions meeting him at several different places, and he was now
introduced for the first time to the young statesman who was only a
student in the Temple when he was last in London in 1777, but who was
already one of the most powerful ministers England had ever seen, and
was at the moment reforming the national finances with the _Wealth of
Nations_ in his hand. Pitt always confessed himself one of Smith's
most convinced disciples. The first few years of his long ministry saw
the daybreak of free trade. He brought in a measure of commercial
emancipation for Ireland; he carried a commercial treaty with France;
he passed, in accordance with Smith's recommendations, laws
simplifying the collection and administration of the revenue. In this
very year 1787 he introduced his great Consolidation Bill, which
created order out of the previous chaos of customs and excise, and was
so extensive a work that it took 2537 separate resolutions to state
its provisions, and these resolutions had only just been read on the
7th of March, a few weeks before Smith arrived in London.

No one in London therefore was more interested to meet Smith than the
young minister who was carrying the economist's principles out so
extensively in practical legislation. They met repeatedly, but they
met on one occasion, of which recollection has been preserved, at
Dundas's house on Wimbledon Green,--Addington, Wilberforce, and
Grenville being also of the company; and it is said that when Smith,
who was one of the last guests to arrive, entered the room, the whole
company rose from their seats to receive him and remained standing.
"Be seated, gentlemen," said Smith. "No," replied Pitt; "we will stand
till you are first seated, for we are all your scholars." This story
seems to rest on Edinburgh tradition, and was first published, so far
as I know, in the 1838 edition of Kay's _Portraits_, more than half a
century after the date of the incident it relates. Most of the
biographies contained in that work were written by James Paterson, but
a few of the earliest, including this of Smith, were not. They were
all written, however, from materials which had been long collected by
Kay himself, who only died in 1832, or which were obtained before the
time of publication from local residents who had known the men
themselves, or had mingled with those who did. The whole were edited
by the well-known and learned antiquary, James Maidment, whose
acceptance of the story is some security that it came from an
authoritative though unnamed source.

Smith was highly taken with Pitt, and one evening when dining with
him, he remarked to Addington after dinner, "What an extraordinary man
Pitt is; he understands my ideas better than I do myself."[342] Other
statesmen have been converts to free trade. Pitt never had any other
creed; it was his first faith. He was forming his opinions as a young
man when the _Wealth of Nations_ appeared, and he formed them upon
that work. Smith saw much of this group of statesmen during his visit
to the capital in that year.[343] We find Wilberforce sounding him
about some of his philanthropic schemes, Addington writing an ode to
him after meeting him at Pitt's, and Pitt himself seeking his counsels
concerning some contemplated legislation, and perhaps setting him to
some task of investigation for his assistance. Bentham had in the
early part of 1787 sent from Russia the manuscript of his _Defence of
Usury_, written in antagonism to Smith's doctrine on the subject, to
his friend George Wilson, barrister, and Wilson a month or two
later--14th of July--writes of "Dr. Smith," who can, I think, be no
other than the economist: "Dr. Smith has been very ill here of an
inflammation in the neck of the bladder, which was increased by very
bad piles. He has been cut for the piles, and the other complaint is
since much mended. The physicians say he may do some time longer. He
is much with the Ministry, and the clerks of the public offices have
orders to furnish him with all papers, and to employ additional hands,
if necessary, to copy for him. I am vexed that Pitt should have done
so right a thing as to consult Smith, but if any of his schemes are
effectuated I shall be comforted."[344] It may be, of course, that
Smith was examining papers in the public offices in connection with
his own work on Government, but Wilson's statement rather leaves the
impression that the researches were instituted in pursuance of some
idea of Pitt's, probably related to the reform of the finances. If the
Dr. Smith of Wilson's letter is the economist, he would appear to have
stayed in London a considerable time on this occasion, and to have
suffered a serious relapse of ill-health during his stay there.

Wilberforce did not think quite so highly of Smith as Pitt did, being
disappointed to find him too hard-headed to share his own enthusiasm
about a great philanthropic adventure of the day, which, to the very
practical mind of the economist, seemed entirely wanting in the
ordinary conditions of success. With some of the other philanthropic
movements in which Wilberforce was interested--with his anti-slavery
agitation, for example, begun in that very year 1787--he would have
found no more cordial sympathiser than Smith, who had condemned
slavery so strongly in his book. The Sunday school movement, too,
started by Thomas Raikes two or three years before, won Smith's
strongest commendation; for Raikes writes William Fox on 27th July of
this same year, and writes as if the remark had been made in
conversation with himself, "Dr. Adam Smith, who has very ably written
on the Wealth of Nations, says: 'No plan has promised to effect a
change of manners with equal ease and simplicity since the days of the
Apostles.'" These schools were instituted for the purpose of giving
gratuitous instruction to all comers for four or five hours every
Sunday in the ordinary branches of primary education, and they were
opposed by some leading ecclesiastics--among others by a liberal
divine like Bishop Horsley--on the ground that they might become
subservient to purposes of political propagandism. The ecclesiastical
mind is too often suspicious of the consequences of mental improvement
and independence, but to Smith these were merely the first broad
conditions of all popular progress.

No man could be less chargeable with indifference to honest and
practicable schemes of philanthropy, but the particular scheme towards
which Wilberforce found him "characteristically cool" was one which,
in his opinion, held out extravagant expectations that could not
possibly be realised. It was a project--first suggested, I believe, by
Sir James Steuart, the economist, and taken up warmly after him by Dr.
James Anderson, and especially by that earliest and most persistent
of crofters' friends, John Knox, bookseller in the Strand--for
checking the depopulation and distress of the Scotch Highlands by
planting a series of fishing villages all round the Highland coast.
Knox's idea was to plant forty fishing villages at spots twenty-five
miles apart between the Mull of Cantyre and the Dornoch Firth at a
cost of £2000 apiece, or at least as many of them as money could be
obtained to start; and the scheme rose high in public favour when the
parliamentary committee on Scotch Fisheries gave it a general
recommendation in 1785, and suggested the incorporation of a limited
liability company by Act of Parliament in order to carry it out.

The Scotch nobility adopted the suggestion with great spirit, and in
1786 the British Society for extending the Fisheries was incorporated
for that purpose by Royal Charter with a capital of £150,000, with the
Duke of Argyle for Governor, and many leading personages, one of them
being Wilberforce, for directors. It was indeed the grand
philanthropic scheme of the day. The shares were rapidly subscribed
for sufficiently to justify a start, and when Smith was in London in
1787 the society had just begun operations on a paid-up capital of
£35,000. One of the directors, Isaac Hawkins Browne, M.P., was
actually down in Scotland choosing the sites for the villages; and
Wilberforce was already almost hearing the "busy hum" of the little
hives of fishermen, coopers, boat-builders, and ropemakers, whom they
were settling along the desolate coasts.

He naturally spoke to Smith about this large and generous project for
the benefit of his countrymen, but was disappointed to find him very
sceptical indeed as to its practical results. "Dr. Smith," writes
Wilberforce to Hawkins Browne, "with a certain characteristic
coolness, observed to me that he looked for no other consequence from
the scheme than the entire loss of every shilling that should be
expended on it, granting, however, with uncommon candour, that the
public would be no great sufferer, because he believed the
individuals meant to put their hands only in their own pockets."[345]

The event, however, has justified the sagacity of Smith's
prognostication. The society began by purchasing the ground for three
fishing settlements on the west coast,--one at Ullapool, in
Ross-shire; a second at Lochbeg, in Inverness-shire; and a third at
Tobermory, in Argyle. They prepared their feuing plans, built a few
houses at their own cost, tried to attract settlers by offering
building feus at low rents and fishing-boats on credit at low rates,
but, except to a slight extent at Ullapool, their offers were not
taken; not a single boat ever sailed from Tobermory under their
auspices, and before many years elapsed the society deserted these
three original west coast stations and sold its interest in them at a
loss of some £2000. But meanwhile the directors had in 1803 bought
land at a small port on the east coast, Wick, where a flourishing
fishery with 400 boats had already been established by local
enterprise without their aid, and they founded there the settlement of
Pulteneytown (named by them after Smith's friend, Sir William
Pulteney), which has grown with the industry of the port. The society
never again tried to resume its original purpose of creating new
fishing centres, and here in Pulteneytown it has obviously only acted
the part of the shrewd building speculator, investing in the
ground-rents of a rising community and prudently helping in its
development. Through this change of purpose it has contrived to save
some of its capital, and having recently resolved to be wound up, it
sold its whole estate in 1893 for £20,000, and after all claims are
met may probably have £15,000 of its original capital of £35,000 left
to divide. The net result of the scheme therefore on the development
of Highland fisheries has been as near _nil_ as Smith anticipated; and
if the shareholders have not, as he predicted, lost every shilling of
their money, they have lost half of it, and only saved the other half
by abandoning the scheme for which it was subscribed. In the whole
course of its one hundred and eight years' existence the society never
paid more than eleven annual dividends, because for many years it
saved up its income for building an extension to its harbour, and
eventually lost all these savings and £100,000 of Government money
besides in a great breakwater, which proved an irremediable
engineering failure, and lies now in the bottom of the sea.

Smith returned to Edinburgh deeply pleased with the reception he met
with from the ministers and the progress he saw his principles making.
He came back, says the Earl of Buchan, "a Tory and a Pittite instead
of a Whig and a Foxite, as he was when he set out. By and by the
impression wore off and his former sentiments returned, but
unconnected either with Pitt, Fox, or anybody else."[346] Had the
impression remained till his death, it would be no matter for wonder.
A Liberal has little satisfaction in contemplating the conflict of
parties during the first years of Pitt's long administration, and
seeing the young Tory minister introducing one great measure of
commercial reform after another, while his own Whig chief, Charles
Fox, offers to every one of them a most factious and unscrupulous

Soon after his return Smith received another, and to him a very
touching, recognition of his merit in being chosen in November Lord
Rector of his old alma mater, the University of Glasgow. The
appointment lay with the whole University, professors and students
together, but as the students had the advantage of numbers, the
decision was virtually in their hands, and their unanimous choice came
to Smith (as Carlyle said a similar choice came to him) at the end of
his labours like a voice of "Well done" from the University which had
sent him forth to do them, and from the coming generation which was to
enter upon the fruits of them. There was at first some word of
opposition to his candidature, on the good old electioneering plea
that he was the professors' nominee, and that it was essential for the
students to resent dictation and assert their independence. One of
Smith's keenest opponents among the students was Francis Jeffrey, who
was then a Tory. Principal Haldane, who was also a student at
Glasgow at the time, used to tell of seeing Jeffrey--a little,
black, quick-motioned creature with a rapid utterance and a
prematurely-developed moustache, on which his audience teased him
mercilessly--haranguing a mob of boys on the green and trying to rouse
them to their manifest duty of organising opposition to the
professors' nominee. His exertions failed, however, and Smith was
chosen without a contest.

On receiving intimation of his appointment Smith wrote to Principal
Davidson the following reply:--

     REVEREND AND DEAR SIR--I have this moment received the
     honour of your letter of the 15th instant. I accept with
     gratitude and pleasure the very great honour which the
     University of Glasgow have done me in electing me for the
     ensuing year to be the Rector of that illustrious Body. No
     preferment could have given me so much real satisfaction. No
     man can own greater obligations to a Society than I do to
     the University of Glasgow. They educated me, they sent me to
     Oxford, soon after my return to Scotland they elected me one
     of their own members, and afterwards preferred me to another
     office to which the abilities and virtues of the
     never-to-be-forgotten Dr. Hutcheson had given a superior
     degree of illustration. The period of thirteen years which I
     spent as a member of that Society, I remember as by far the
     most useful and therefore as by far the happiest and most
     honourable period of my life; and now, after
     three-and-twenty years' absence, to be remembered in so very
     agreeable a manner by my old friends and protectors gives me
     a heartfelt joy which I cannot easily express to you.

     I shall be happy to receive the commands of my colleagues
     concerning the time when it may be convenient for them to do
     me the honour of admitting me to the office. Mr. Millar
     mentions Christmass. We have commonly at the Board of
     Customs a vacation of five or six days at that time. But I
     am so regular an attendant that I think myself entitled to
     take the play for a week at any time. It will be no
     inconveniency to me therefore to wait upon you at whatever
     time you please. I beg to be remembered to my colleagues in
     the most respectful and the most affectionate manner; and
     that you would believe me to be, with great truth, reverend
     and dear sir, your and their most obliged, most obedient,
     and most humble servant,


     EDINBURGH, _16th November 1787_.

     Principal of the College, Glasgow.[347]

He was installed as Rector on the 12th December 1787 with the usual
ceremonies. He gave no inaugural address, nor apparently so much as a
formal word of thanks. At least Jeffrey, who might have been present,
though he does not seem to speak from personal recollection, says he
remained altogether silent. His predecessor, Graham of Gartmore, held
the Rector's chair for only one year, but Smith, like Burke and
Dundas, was re-elected for a second term, and was Rector therefore
from November 1787 till November 1789.

One of the new friends Smith made during his last visit to London was
Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society, who seems to have
shown him particular attentions; and shortly after his return he gave
a young Scotch scientific man a letter of very warm recommendation to
Sir Joseph. The young man of science was John Leslie, afterwards Sir
John, the celebrated Professor of Natural Philosophy in Edinburgh
University. Leslie, who belonged to the neighbourhood of Smith's own
town of Kirkcaldy, had been employed by him for the previous two years
as tutor to his cousin and heir, David Douglas, and being thus a daily
visitor at Smith's house, had won a high place in his affections and
regard. Accordingly when Leslie in 1787 gave up his original idea of
entering the Church, and resolved to migrate to London with a view to
literary or scientific employment, Smith furnished him with a number
of letters of introduction, and, as Leslie informed the writer of his
biography in Chambers's _Biographical Dictionary_, advised him, when
the letter was addressed to an author, to be always sure to read that
author's book before presenting it, so as to be able to speak of the
book should a fit opportunity occur. The letter to Sir Joseph Banks
runs as follows:--

     SIR--The very great politeness and attention with which you
     was so good as to honour me when I was last in London has
     emboldened me to use a freedom which I am afraid I am not
     entitled to, and to introduce to your acquaintance a young
     gentleman of very great merit, and who is very ambitious of
     being known to you. Mr. Leslie, the bearer of this letter,
     has been known to me for several years past. He has a very
     particular happy turn for the mathematical sciences. It is
     no more than two years and a half ago that he undertook the
     instruction of a young gentleman, my nearest relation, in
     some of the higher parts of these sciences, and acquitted
     himself most perfectly both to my satisfaction and to that
     of the young gentleman. He proposes to pursue the same lines
     in London, and would be glad to accept of employment in some
     of the mathematical academies. Besides his knowledge in
     mathematics he is, I am assured, a tolerable Botanist and
     Chymist. Your countenance and good opinion, provided you
     shall find he deserves them, may be of the highest
     importance to him. Give me leave, upon that condition, to
     recommend him in the most anxious and earnest manner to your
     protection. I have the honour to be, with the highest
     respect and regard, sir, your most obliged and most obedient
     humble servant,

     ADAM SMITH.[348]

     EDINBURGH, _18th December 178(sic)_.

Why does so large a proportion of Smith's extant letters consist of
letters of introduction? Have they a better principle of vitality than
others, that they should be more frequently preserved? There certainly
seems less reason to preserve them, but then there is also less reason
to destroy them.

Smith's health appears to have improved so much during the spring of
1788 that his friends, who, as we know from Robertson's letter to
Gibbon, had been seriously alarmed about his condition, were now again
free from anxiety. He seemed to them to be "perfectly re-established."
But in the autumn he suffered another great personal loss in the death
of his cousin, Miss Jean Douglas, who had lived under his roof for so
many years. His home was now desolate. His mother and his cousin--the
two lifelong companions of his hearth--were both gone; his young heir
was only with him during the vacations from Glasgow College, where he
was now living with Professor John Millar, and being a man for whom
the domestic affections went for so much, there seemed, amid all the
honour, love, obedience, troops of friends that enrich the close of an
important career, to remain a void in his life that could not be

Gibbon had sent him a present of the three concluding volumes of the
_Decline and Fall_, and Smith writes him in November a brief letter of
thanks, in which he sets the English historian where he used to set
Voltaire, at the head of all living men of letters.

     EDINBURGH, _18th December 1788_.

     MY DEAR FRIEND--I have ten thousand apologies to make for
     not having long ago returned you my best thanks for the very
     agreeable present you made me of the three last volumes of
     your History. I cannot express to you the pleasure it gives
     me to find that by the universal consent of every man of
     taste and learning whom I either know or correspond with, it
     sets you at the very head of the whole literary tribe at
     present existing in Europe.--I ever am, my dear friend, most
     affectionately yours,

     ADAM SMITH.[349]

In this letter Smith makes no complaint of his condition of health,
but he seems to have got worse again in the course of the winter, for
we find Gibbon writing Cadell, the bookseller, with some apparent
anxiety on the 11th of February 1789: "If you can send me a good
account of Adam Smith, there is no man more sincerely interested in
his welfare than myself." If, however, he were ill then, he recovered
in the summer, and was in excellent spirits in July, when Samuel
Rogers saw him often during a week he spent in Edinburgh.


[342] Pellew's _Life of Sidmouth_, i. 151.

[343] Wilberforce's _Correspondence_, i. 40.

[344] Bowring's Memoir of Bentham, Bentham's _Works_, x. 173.

[345] Wilberforce's _Correspondence_, i. 40.

[346] The _Bee_, vol. in. p. 165.

[347] Glasgow College Minutes.

[348] Morrison MSS.

[349] Gibbon's _Miscellaneous Works_, ii. 429.




The author of the _Pleasures of Memory_, going to Scotland to make the
home tour, as it was called, then much in vogue, brought with him
letters of introduction to Smith from Dr. Price and Dr. Kippis, the
editor of the _Biographia Britannica_. The poet was then a young man
of twenty-three, who had published nothing but his _Ode to
Superstition_, and these old Unitarian friends of his father were as
yet his chief acquaintances in the world of letters. Their names,
notwithstanding the disparaging allusion Smith makes to Price in a
letter previously given, won for Rogers the kindest possible
reception, and even a continuous succession of civilities, of which he
has left a grateful record in the journal he kept during his tour.
This journal has been published in Mr. Clayden's _Early Tears of
Samuel Rogers_, and a few additional particulars omitted in it are
found in Dyce's published and Mitford's unpublished recollections of
Rogers's table-talk.

Rogers arrived in Edinburgh apparently on the 14th of July--that
momentous 14th of July 1789 which set the world aflame, though not a
spark of information of it had reached Edinburgh before he left the
city on the 21st; and on the morning of the 15th he walked down
Panmure Close and paid his first visit to the economist. He found
Smith sitting at breakfast quite alone, with a dish of strawberries
before him, and he has preserved some scraps of the conversation,
none of them in any way remarkable. Starting from the business then on
hand, Smith said that fruit was his favourite diet at that season of
the year, and that Scotland produced excellent strawberries, for the
strawberry was a northern fruit, and was at its best in Orkney or
Sweden. Passing to the subject of Rogers's tour, he said that
Edinburgh deserved little notice, that the old town had given Scotland
a bad name (for its filth, presumably), and that he himself was
anxious to remove to the newer quarters of the town, and had set his
heart on George Square (the place where Walter Scott was brought up
and Henry Dundas died). He explained that Edinburgh was entirely
supported by the three Courts of Session, Exchequer, and Justiciary
(possibly to account for the filth of the place, in accordance with
his theory that there was always more squalor and misery in a
residential than in an industrial town). While thus apparently
slighting or ignoring the beauties of Edinburgh, which were all there
then as they are now, he praised Loch Lomond highly. It was the finest
lake in Great Britain, the islands being very beautiful and forming a
very striking contrast to the shores. The conversation passed from the
scenery of Scotland to the soil, and Smith said Scotland had an
excellent soil, but a climate so severe that its harvests were too
often overtaken by winter before they were housed. The consequence was
that the Scotch on the Borders were still in extreme poverty, just as
he had noticed half a century before when he rode across the Borders
as a student to Oxford, and was greatly struck with the different
condition of things he saw as he approached Carlisle. From agriculture
they passed on to discuss the corn trade, and Smith denounced the
Government's late refusal of corn to France, saying it ought to excite
indignation and contempt, inasmuch as the quantity required was so
trifling that it would not support the population of Edinburgh for a
single day. The population of Edinburgh suggested their houses, and
Smith said that the houses were piled high on one another in Paris as
well as in Edinburgh. They then touched on Sir John Sinclair, of whom
Smith spoke disparagingly in certain aspects, but said that he never
knew a man who was in earnest and did not do something at last. Before
leaving to return to his hotel Rogers seems to have asked Smith if he
knew Mrs. Piozzi, who was then living there, and had called upon
Rogers after learning from the landlord that Smith and Robertson had
left cards for him, and Smith said he did not know her, but believed
she was spoiled by keeping company with odd people. Smith then invited
his visitor to dine with him next day at the usual Friday dinner of
the Oyster Club, and Rogers came away delighted with the interview,
and with the illustrious philosopher's genuine kindness of heart.

On Friday, as appointed, Rogers dined with the Oyster Club as Smith's
guest, but he has made no specific entry of the event in his journal,
and no record of the conversation. Black and Playfair seem to have
been there, and possibly other men of eminence; but the whole talk was
usurped by a commonplace member, and Smith felt--and possibly Rogers
too--that the day was lost. For next time they met Smith asked Rogers
how he liked the club, and said, "_That_ Bogle, I was sorry he talked
so much; he spoiled our evening." That Bogle was the Laird of
Daldowie, on the Clyde. His father had been Rector of Glasgow
University in Smith's professorial days, and one of his brothers,
George Bogle, attained some eminence through the embassy on which he
was sent by Warren Hastings to the Llama of Thibet, and his account of
which has been published quite recently; and the offender himself was
a man of ability and knowledge, who had been a West India merchant for
many years, was well versed in economic and commercial subjects, and
very fond of writing to the Government of the day long communications
on those subjects, which seem to have been generally read, and
sometimes even acted upon. In society, as we are told by one of his
relations, Mr. Morehead, he was generally considered very "tedious,
from the long lectures on mercantile and political subjects (for he
did not converse when he entered on these, but rather declaimed) which
he was in the habit of delivering in the most humdrum and monotonous
manner."[350] His tedious lectures must, however, have had more in
them than ordinary hearers appreciated, for Smith thought so highly of
Bogle's conversation that when he invited Rogers to the club on this
particular occasion he mentioned that Bogle, a very clever person, was
to be there, and said "I must go and hear Bogle talk."[351]

Rogers was with Smith again on Sunday the 19th, and used ever
afterwards to speak of that particular Sunday as the most memorable in
his life, for he breakfasted with Robertson, heard him preach in the
Old Greyfriars in the forenoon, heard Blair preach in the High Church
in the afternoon, drank coffee thereafter with Mrs. Piozzi, and
finished the day by supping with Adam Smith. He had called on Smith
"between sermons," as they say in Scotland, and apparently close on
the hour for service, since "all the bells of the kirks" were ringing.
But Smith was going for an airing, and his chair was at the door. The
sedan was much in vogue in Edinburgh at that period, because it
threaded the narrow wynds and alleys better than any other sort of
carriage was able to do. Smith met Rogers at the door, and after
exchanging the few observations about Bogle and the club to which I
have already alluded, he invited his young friend to come back to
supper in the evening, and also to dinner on Monday, because he had
asked Henry Mackenzie, the author of the _Man of Feeling_, to meet
him. "Who could refuse?" writes Rogers. Smith then set out in his
sedan, and Rogers walked up to the High Church to hear Blair.
Returning to Panmure House at nine, he found there, he says, all the
company who were at the club on Friday except Bogle and Macaulay, and
with the addition of a Mr. Muir from Göttingen. (I do not know who
Macaulay and Muir were.) They spoke of Junius, and Smith suspected
Single-speech Hamilton of the authorship, on the ground of the
well-known story, which seems to have been then new to Rogers, and
which Smith had been told by Gibbon, that on one occasion when
Hamilton was on a visit at Goodwood, he informed the Duke of Richmond
that there was a devilish keen letter from Junius in the _Public
Advertiser_ of that day, and mentioned even some of the points it
made; but when the Duke got hold of the paper he found the letter
itself was not there, but only an apology for its absence. From this
circumstance Hamilton's name came to be mentioned in connection with
the authorship of the letters, and they ceased to appear. Smith's
argument was that so long as the letters were attributed to men who
were not their writers, such as Lord Lansdowne or Burke, they
continued to go on, but immediately the true author was named they
stopped. The conversation passed on to Turgot and Voltaire and the
Duke of Richelieu, and its particulars have been stated already in
previous parts of this work.[352]

On Monday Rogers dined at Smith's house to meet Henry Mackenzie, as
had been arranged, and the other guests seem to have been the Mr. Muir
of the evening before and Mr. M'Gowan--John M'Gowan, Clerk of the
Signet, already referred to. Dr. Hutton came in afterwards and joined
them at tea. The chief share in the conversation seems to have been
taken by Mackenzie, who, as we know from Scott, was always "the life
of company with anecdotes and fun," and related on this occasion many
stories of second sight in the Highlands, and especially of the
eccentric Caithness laird, who used the pretension as a very effectual
instrument for maintaining authority and discipline among his
tenantry. They spoke much too about the poetesses,--Hannah More, and
Mrs. Charlotte Smith, and Mrs. John Hunter, the great surgeon's wife;
but it appears to have still been Mackenzie who bore the burden of the
talk. The only thing Rogers reports Smith as saying is a very ordinary
remark about Dr. Blair. They had been speaking, as was natural, about
the sermon which Rogers--and Mackenzie also--had heard the previous
afternoon on "Curiosity concerning the Affairs of Others," and one
passage in which, though it reads now commonplace enough in the
printed page, Rogers seems to have admired greatly. Smith observed
that Blair was too puffed up, and the worthy divine would have been
more or less than human if he had escaped the necessary effects of the
excessive popularity he so long enjoyed at once as a preacher and as a
critic. It will be remembered how Burns detested Blair's absurd
condescension and pomposity.

From Smith's the company seems to have proceeded in a body to a
meeting of the Royal Society, of which all were members except Muir
and Rogers himself. Before going Mackenzie repeated an epigram which
had been written on Smith sleeping at the meetings of this society,
but the epigram has not been preserved. Only seven persons were
present--Smith and his guests and the reader of the paper for the day,
who happened to be the economist, Dr. James Anderson, already
mentioned repeatedly in this book as the original propounder of
Ricardo's theory of rent. His paper was on "Debtors and the Revision
of the Laws that respect them," and Rogers says it was "very long and
dull," and, as a natural consequence, "Mr. Commissioner Smith fell
asleep, and Mackenzie touched my elbow and smiled,"[353]--a curious
tableau. When the meeting was over Rogers took leave of his host, went
to the play with Mrs. Piozzi, and, though he no doubt saw Smith again
before finally quitting Edinburgh, mentions him no more.

Having been so much with Smith during those few days, Rogers's
impressions are in some respects of considerable value. He was deeply
impressed with the warmth of Smith's kindness. "He is a very friendly,
agreeable man, and I should have dined and supped with him every day,
if I had accepted all his invitations."[354] He was very
communicative,[355] and to Rogers's surprise, considering the
disparity of their years and the greatness of his reputation, Smith
was "quite familiar." "Who shall we have to dinner?" he would ask.
Rogers observed in him no sign of absence of mind,[356] and felt that
as compared with Robertson, Smith was far more of a man who had seen
much of the world. His communicativeness impressed itself also upon
other casual visitors, because his first appearance sometimes gave
them the opposite suggestion of reserve. "He was extremely
communicative," says the anonymous writer who sent the first letter of
reminiscences to the editor of the _Bee_, "and delivered himself on
every subject with a freedom and boldness quite opposite to the
apparent reserve of his appearance."

Another visitor to Scotland that year who enjoyed a talk with Smith,
and has something interesting to communicate about the conversation,
is William Adam, barrister and M.P., afterwards Chief Commissioner of
the Jury Court in Scotland, who was a nephew of Smith's schoolfellow
and lifelong friend, Robert Adam, the architect. William Adam was an
intimate personal friend of Bentham since the days when they ate their
way to the bar together and spent their nights in endless discussions
about Hume's philosophy and other thorny subjects, and when in
Scotland in the summer of 1789 he met Smith, and drew the conversation
to his friend Bentham's recently published _Defence of Usury_. This
book, it will be remembered, was written expressly to controvert
Smith's recommendation of a legal limitation of the rate of interest,
and from this conversation with Adam there seems to be some ground for
thinking that the book had the very unusual controversial effect of
converting the antagonist against whom it was written. Smith's reason
for wanting to fix the legal rate of interest at a maximum just a
little above the ordinary market rate was to prevent undue facilities
being given to prodigals and projectors; but Bentham replied very
justly that, whatever might be said of prodigals, projectors at any
rate were one of the most useful classes a community could possess,
that a wise government ought to do all it could to encourage their
enterprise instead of thwarting it, and that the best policy therefore
was to leave the rate of interest alone. In conducting his polemic
Bentham wrote as an admiring pupil towards a venerated master, to whom
he said he owed everything, and over whom he could gain no advantage
except, to use his own words, "with weapons which you have taught me
to wield and with which you have furnished me; for as all the great
standards of truth which can be appealed to in this line owe, as far
as I can understand, their establishment to you, I can see scarce any
other way of convicting you of an error or oversight than by judging
you out of your own mouth."[357]

Smith was touched with the handsome spirit in which his adversary
wrote, and candidly admitted to Adam the force of his assaults. The
conversation is preserved in a letter written to Bentham on the 4th
December 1789 by another friend and fellow-barrister, George Wilson,
as he apparently had the story from Adam's own lips.

"Did we ever tell you," writes Wilson, "what Dr. Adam Smith said to
Mr. William Adam, the Council M.P., last summer in Scotland? The
Doctor's expressions were that 'the _Defence of Usury_ was the work of
a very superior man, and that tho' he had given him some hard knocks,
it was done in so handsome a way that he could not complain,' and
seemed to admit that you were right."[358] This admission, though
apparently not made in so many words by Smith, but rather inferred by
Adam from the general purport of the conversation, is still not far
removed from the confession so definitely reported that his position
suffered some hard knocks from the assaults of Bentham. After that
confession it is reasonable to think that if Smith had lived to
publish another edition of his work, he would have modified his
position on the rate of interest.


[350] Morehead's _Life of the Rev. R. Morehead_, p. 43.

[351] Add. MSS., 32, 566.

[352] See above, pp. 189, 190, 205.

[353] Clayden's _Early Life of Samuel Rogers_, p. 96.

[354] Clayden's _Early Life of Samuel Rogers_, p. 90.

[355] Dyce's _Recollections of the Table-talk of Samuel Rogers_, p.

[356] Add. MSS., 32, 566.

[357] Bentham's _Works_, iii. 21.

[358] Bentham MSS., British Museum.



A revision of the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_ was a task Smith had
long had in contemplation. The book had been thirty years before the
world and had passed through five editions, but it had never undergone
any revision or alteration whatever. This was the task of the last
year of the author's life. He made considerable changes, especially by
way of addition, and though he wrote the additions, as Stewart informs
us, while he was suffering under severe illness, he has never written
anything better in point of literary style. Before the new edition
appeared there was a preliminary difference between author and
publisher regarding the propriety of issuing the additions as the
additions to the _Wealth of Nations_ had been issued, in a separate
form, for the use of those who already possessed copies of the
previous editions of the book. Cadell favoured that course,
notwithstanding that it would obviously interfere with the sale of the
new book, because he was unwilling to incur the charge of being
illiberal in his dealings with the public. But Smith refused to assent
to it, for reasons quite apart from the sale, but connected, whatever
they were, with "the nature of the work." He communicated his decision
through Dugald Stewart, who was in London in May 1789 on his way to
Paris, and Stewart reports the result of his interview with Cadell in
the following letter, bearing the post stamp of 6th May 1789:--

     DEAR SIR--I was so extremely hurried during the very short
     stay I made in London that I had not a moment's time to
     write you till now. The day after my arrival I called on
     Cadell, and luckily found Strachan (_sic_) with him. They
     both assured me in the most positive terms that they had
     published no Edition of the _Theory_ since the _Fifth_,
     which was printed in 1781, and that if a _6th_ has been
     mentioned in any of the newspapers, it must have been owing
     to a typographical mistake. For your farther satisfaction
     Cadell stated the fact in his own handwriting on a little
     bit of paper which I send you enclosed.

     I mentioned also to Cadell the resolution you had formed not
     to allow the Additions to the _Theory_ to be printed
     separately, which he said embarrassed him much, as he had
     already in similar circumstances more than once incurred the
     charge of illiberality with the public. On my telling him,
     however, that you had made up your mind on the subject, and
     that it was perfectly unnecessary to write to you, as the
     nature of the work made it impossible for you to comply with
     his proposal, he requested of me to submit to your
     consideration whether it might not (be) proper for you to
     mention this circumstance, for his justification, in an
     advertisement prefixed to the Book. This was all, I think,
     that passed in the course of our conversation. I write this
     from Dover, which I am just leaving with a fair wind, so
     that I hope to be in Paris on Thursday. It will give me
     great-pleasure to receive your commands, if I can be of any
     use to you in executing any of your commissions.--I ever am,
     dear sir, your much obliged and most obedient servant,


In the preface to the 1790 edition the author refers to the promise he
had made in that of 1759 of treating in a future work of the general
principles of law and government, and of the different revolutions
they had undergone in the different ages and periods of society, not
only in what concerns justice, but in what concerns policy, revenue,
and arms, and whatever else is the object of law; and he says that in
the _Wealth of Nations_ he had executed this promise so far as policy,
revenue, and arms were concerned, but that the remaining part of the
task, the theory of jurisprudence, he had been prevented from
executing by the same occupations which had till then prevented him
from revising the _Theory_. He adds: "Though my very advanced age
leaves me, I acknowledge, very little expectation of ever being able
to execute this great work to my own satisfaction, yet, as I have not
altogether abandoned the design, and as I wish still to continue under
the obligation of doing what I can, I have allowed the paragraph to
remain as it was published more than thirty years ago, when I
entertained no doubt of being able to execute everything which it

The most important of the new contributions to this last edition of
the _Theory_ is the chapter "on the corruption of our moral
sentiments, which is occasioned by our disposition to admire the rich
and the great, and to despise or neglect persons of poor and mean
condition." In spite of his alleged republicanism he was still a sort
of believer in the principle of birth. It was not, in his view, a
rational principle, but it was a natural and beneficial delusion. In
the light of reason the vulgar esteem for rank and fortune above
wisdom and virtue was utterly indefensible, but it had a certain
advantage as a practical aid to good government. The maintenance of
social order required the establishment of popular deference to some
species of superiority, and the superiorities of birth and fortune
were at least plain and palpable to the mob of mankind who have to be
governed, whereas the superiorities of wisdom and virtue were often
invisible and uncertain, even to the discerning. But however useful
this admiration for the wrong things might be for the establishment of
settled authority, he held it to be "at the same time the great and
most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments."[360]

But the additions attracted little notice compared with the
deletions--the deletion of the allusion to Rochefoucauld associating
that writer in the same condemnation with Mandeville, and the deletion
of the passage in which the revealed doctrine of the atonement was
stated to coincide with the repentant sinner's natural feeling of the
necessity of some other intercession and sacrifice than his own. The
omission of the reference to Rochefoucauld has been blamed as a
concession to feelings of private friendship in the teeth of the
claims of truth; but Stewart, who knew the whole circumstances, says
that Smith came to believe that truth as well as friendship required
the emendation, and there is certainly difference enough between
Rochefoucauld and Mandeville to support such a view.

The suppression of the passage about the atonement escaped notice for
twenty years, till a notable divine, Archbishop Magee, in entire
ignorance of the suppression, quoted the passage from one of the
earlier editions as a strong testimony to the reasonableness of the
Scriptural doctrine of the atonement from a man whose intellectual
capacity and independence were above all dispute. "Such," he says,
"are the reflections of a man whose powers of thinking and reasoning
will surely not be pronounced inferior to those of any, even of the
most distinguished champions of the Unitarian school, and whose
theological opinions cannot be charged with any supposed taint from
professional habits or interests. A layman (and he too a familiar
friend of David Hume), whose life was employed in scientific,
political, and philosophical researches, has given to the world those
sentiments as the natural suggestions of reason. Yet these are the
sentiments which are the scoff of sciolists and witlings."[361]

The sciolists and witlings were not slow in returning the scoff, and
pointing out that while Smith was, no doubt, as an intellectual
authority all that the Archbishop claimed for him, his authority
really ran against the Archbishop's view and not in favour of it,
inasmuch as he had withdrawn the passage relied on from the last
edition of his work. Dr. Magee instantly changed his tune, and without
thinking whether he had any ground for the statement, attributed the
omission to the unhappy influence over Smith's mind of the aggressive
infidelity of Hume. "It adds one proof more," says his Grace, who,
having failed to make Smith an evidence for Christianity, will now
have him turned into a warning against unbelief,--"it adds one proof
more to the many that already existed of the danger, even to the most
enlightened, from a familiar contact with infidelity." His intercourse
with Hume was at its closest when he first published the passage in
1759, whereas Hume was fourteen years in his grave when the passage
was omitted; besides there is probably as much left in the context
which Hume would object to as is deleted, and in any case, there is no
reason to believe that Smith's opinion about the atonement was anywise
different in 1790 from what it was in 1759, or for doubting his own
explanation of the omission, which he is said to have given to certain
Edinburgh friends, that he thought the passage unnecessary and
misplaced.[362] As if taking an odd revenge for its suppression, the
original manuscript of this particular passage seems to have
reappeared from between the leaves of a volume of Aristotle in the
year 1831, when all the rest of the MS. of the book and of Smith's
other works had long gone to destruction.[363] It may be added, as so
much attention has been paid to Smith's religious opinions, that he
gives a fresh expression to his belief in a future state and an
all-seeing Judge in one of the new passages he wrote for this same
edition of his _Theory_. It is in connection with his remarks on the
Calas case. He says that to persons in the circumstances of Calas,
condemned to an unjust death, "Religion can alone afford them every
effectual comfort. She also can tell them that it is of little
importance what men may think of their conduct while the all-seeing
Judge of the world approves of it. She alone can present to them a
view of another world,--a world of more candour, humanity, and justice
than the present, where their innocence is in due time to be declared
and their virtue to be finally rewarded, and the same great principle
which can alone strike terror into triumphant vice affords the only
effectual consolation of disgraced and insulted innocence."[364]
Whatever may have been his attitude towards historical Christianity,
these words, written on the eve of his own death, show that he died as
he lived, in the full faith of those doctrines of natural religion
which he had publicly taught.


[359] Original in possession of Professor Cunningham, Belfast.

[360] _Theory_, ed. 1790, i. 146.

[361] Magee's _Works_, p. 138.

[362] Sinclair's _Life of Sir John Sinclair_, i. 40.

[363] Add. MSS., 32, 574.

[364] _Theory_, ed. 1790, i. 303, 304.



The new edition of the _Theory_ was the last work Smith published. A
French newspaper, the _Moniteur Universelle_ of Paris, announced on
11th March 1790 that a critical examination of Montesquieu's _Esprit
des Lois_ was about to appear from the pen of the celebrated author of
the _Wealth of Nations_, and ventured to predict that the work would
make an epoch in the history of politics and of philosophy. That at
least, it added, is the judgment of well-informed people who have seen
parts of it, of which they speak with an enthusiasm of the happiest
augury. But notwithstanding this last statement the announcement was
not made on any good authority. Smith may probably enough have dealt
with Montesquieu as he dealt with many other topics in the papers he
had prepared towards his projected work on government, but there is no
evidence that he ever intended to publish a separate work on that
remarkable writer, and before March 1790 his strength seems to have
been much wasted. The Earl of Buchan, who had some time before gone to
live in the country, was in town in February, and paid a visit to his
old professor and friend. On taking leave of him the Earl said, "My
dear Doctor, I hope to see you oftener when I come to town next
February," but Smith squeezed his lordship's hand and replied, "My
dear Lord Buchan,[365] I may be alive then and perhaps half a dozen
Februaries, but you never will see your old friend any more. I find
that the machine is breaking down, so that I shall be little better
than a mummy"--with a by-thought possibly to the mummies of Toulouse.
"I found a great inclination," adds the Earl, "to visit the Doctor in
his last illness, but the mummy stared me in the face and I was

During the spring months Smith got worse and weaker, and though he
seemed to rally somewhat at the first approach of the warm weather, he
at length sank again in June, and his condition seemed to his friends
to be already hopeless. Long and painful as his illness was, he bore
it throughout not with patience merely but with a serene and even
cheerful resignation. On the 21st of June Henry Mackenzie wrote his
brother-in-law, Sir J. Grant, that Edinburgh had just lost its finest
woman, and in a few weeks it would in all probability lose its
greatest man. The finest woman was the beautiful Miss Burnet of
Monboddo, whom Burns called "the most heavenly of all God's works,"
and the greatest man was Adam Smith. "He is now," says Mackenzie,
"past all hopes of recovery, with which about three weeks ago we had
flattered ourselves."

A week later Smellie, the printer, wrote Smith's young friend, Patrick
Clason, in London: "Poor Smith! we must soon lose him, and the moment
in which he departs will give a heart-pang to thousands. Mr. Smith's
spirits are flat, and I am afraid the exertions he sometimes makes to
please his friends do him no good. His intellect as well as his senses
are clear and distinct. He wishes to be cheerful, but nature is
omnipotent. His body is extremely emaciated, and his stomach cannot
admit of sufficient nourishment; but, like a man, he is perfectly
patient and resigned."[367]

In all his own weakness he was still thoughtful of the care of his
friends, and one of his last acts was to commend to the good offices
of the Duke of Buccleugh the children of his old friend and physician,
Cullen, who died only a few months before himself. "In many respects,"
says Lord Buchan, "Adam Smith was a chaste disciple of Epicurus as
that philosopher is properly understood, and Smith's last act
resembled that of Epicurus leaving as a legacy to his friend and
patron the children of his Metrodorus, the excellent Cullen."[368]

When it became evident that the sickness was to prove mortal, Smith's
old friend Adam Ferguson, who had been apparently estranged from him
for some time, immediately forgot their coolness, whatever it was
about, and came and waited on him with the old affection. "Your friend
Smith," writes Ferguson on 31st July 1790, announcing the death to Sir
John Macpherson, Warren Hastings' successor as Governor-General of
India--"your old friend Smith is no more. We knew he was dying for
some months, and though matters, as you know, were a little awkward
when he was in health, upon that appearance I turned my face that way
and went to him without further consideration, and continued my
attentions to the last."[369]

Dr. Carlyle mentions that the harmony of the famous Edinburgh literary
circle of last century was often ruffled by little tifts, which he and
John Home were generally called in to compose, and that the usual
source of the trouble was Ferguson's "great jealousy of rivals," and
especially of his three more distinguished friends, Hume, Smith, and
Robertson. But it would not be right to ascribe the fault to Ferguson
merely on that account, for Carlyle hints that Smith too had "a little
jealousy in his nature," although he admits him to have been a man of
"unbounded benevolence." But whatever it was that had come between
them, it is pleasant to find Ferguson dismissing it so unreservedly,
and forgetting his own infirmities too--for he had been long since
hopelessly paralysed, and went about, Cockburn tells us, buried in
furs "like a philosopher from Lapland"--in order to cheer the last
days of the friend of his youth.

When Smith felt his end to be approaching he evinced great anxiety to
have all his papers destroyed except the few which he judged to be in
a sufficiently finished state to deserve publication, and being
apparently too feeble to undertake the task himself, he repeatedly
begged his friends Black and Hutton to destroy them for him. A third
friend, Mr. Riddell, was present on one of the occasions when this
request was made, and mentions that Smith expressed regret that "he
had done so little." "But I meant," he said, "to have done more, and
there are materials in my papers of which I could have made a great
deal, but that is now out of the question."[370] Black and Hutton
always put off complying with Smith's entreaties in the hope of his
recovering his health or perhaps changing his mind; but at length, a
week before his death, he expressly sent for them, and asked them then
and there to burn sixteen volumes of manuscript to which he directed
them. This they did without knowing or asking what they contained. It
will be remembered that seventeen years before, when he went up to
London with the manuscript of the _Wealth of Nations_, he made Hume
his literary executor, and left instructions with him to destroy all
his loose papers and eighteen thin paper folio books "without any
examination," and to spare nothing but his fragment on the history of
astronomy. When the sixteen volumes of manuscript were burnt Smith's
mind seemed to be greatly relieved. It appears to have been on a
Sunday, and when his friends came, as they were accustomed to do, on
the Sunday evening to supper--and they seem to have mustered strongly
on this particular evening--he was able to receive them with something
of his usual cheerfulness. He would even have stayed up and sat with
them had they allowed him, but they pressed him not to do so, and he
retired to bed about half-past nine. As he left the room he turned and
said, "I love your company, gentlemen, but I believe I must leave you
to go to another world." These are the words as reported by Henry
Mackenzie, who was present, in giving Samuel Rogers an account of
Smith's death during a visit he paid to London in the course of the
following year.[371] But Hutton, in the account he gave Stewart of the
incident, employs the slightly different form of expression, "I
believe we must adjourn this meeting to some other place." Possibly
both sentences were used by Smith, for both are needed for the
complete expression of the parting consolation he obviously meant to
convey--that death is not a final separation, but only an adjournment
of the meeting.

That was his last meeting with them in the earthly meeting-place. He
had gone to the other world before the next Sunday came round, having
died on Saturday the 17th of July 1790. He was buried in the Canongate
churchyard, near by the simple stone which Burns placed on the grave
of Fergusson, and not far from the statelier tomb which later on
received the remains of his friend Dugald Stewart. The grave is marked
by an unpretending monument, stating that Adam Smith, the author of
the _Wealth of Nations_, lies buried there.

His death made less stir or rumour in the world than many of his
admirers expected. Sir Samuel Romilly, for example, writing on the
20th of August to a French lady who had wanted a copy of the new
edition of the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, says: "I have been
surprised and, I own, a little indignant to observe how little
impression his death has made here. Scarce any notice has been taken
of it, while for above a year together after the death of Dr. Johnson
nothing was to be heard of but panegyrics of him,--lives, letters, and
anecdotes,--and even at this moment there are two more lives of him to
start into existence. Indeed, one ought not perhaps to be very much
surprised that the public does not do justice to the works of A. Smith
since he did not do justice to them himself, but always considered his
_Theory of Moral Sentiments_ a much superior work to his _Wealth of
Nations_."[372] Even in Edinburgh it seemed to make less impression
than the death of a bustling divine would have made--certainly
considerably less than the death of the excellent but far less
illustrious Dugald Stewart a generation later. The newspapers had an
obituary notice of two small paragraphs, and the only facts in his
life the writers appear to have been able to find were his early
abduction by the gipsies, of which both the Mercury and the Advertiser
give a circumstantial account, and the characteristics which the
Advertiser mentions, that "in private life Dr. Smith was distinguished
for philanthropy, benevolence, humanity, and charity." Lord Cockburn,
who was then beginning to read and think, was struck with the general
ignorance of Smith's merits which his fellow-citizens exhibited
shortly after his death. "The middle-aged seemed to me to know little
about the founder of the science (political economy) except that he
had recently been a Commissioner of Customs and had written a sensible
book. The young--by which I mean the Liberal young of Edinburgh--lived
upon him."[373] Stewart was no sooner dead than a monument was raised
to him on one of the best sites in the city. The greater name of Smith
has to this day no public monument in the city he so long adorned.

Black and Hutton were his literary executors, and published in 1795
the literary fragments which had been spared from the flames. By his
will, dated 6th February 1790, he left his whole property to his
cousin, David Douglas, afterwards Lord Reston, subject to the
condition that the legatee should follow the instructions of Black and
Hutton in disposing of the MSS. and writings, and pay an annuity of
£20 a year to Mrs. Janet Douglas, and after her death, a sum of £400
to Professor Hugh Cleghorn of St. Andrews and his wife.[374] The
property Smith left, however, was very moderate, and his friends could
not at first help expressing some surprise that it should have been so
little, because, though known to be very hospitable, he had never
maintained anything more than a moderate establishment. But they had
not then known, though many of them had long suspected, that he gave
away large sums in secret charity. William Playfair mentions that
Smith's friends, suspecting him of doing this, had sometimes in his
lifetime formed special juries for the purpose of discovering
evidences of it, but that the economist was "so ingenious in
concealing his charity" that they never could discover it from
witnesses, though they often found the strongest circumstantial
evidence of it.[375] Dugald Stewart was more fortunate. He says: "Some
very affecting instances of Mr. Smith's beneficence in cases where he
found it impossible to conceal entirely his good offices have been
mentioned to me by a near relation of his and one of his most
confidential friends, Miss Ross, daughter of the late Patrick Ross,
Esq., of Innernethy. They were all on a scale much beyond what would
have been expected from his fortune, and were combined with
circumstances equally honourable to the delicacy of his feelings and
the liberality of his heart." One recalls the saying of Sir James
Mackintosh, who was a student of Cullen and Black's in Smith's closing
years, and used occasionally to meet the economist in private society.
"I have known," said Mackintosh to Empson many years after this--"I
have known Adam Smith slightly, Ricardo well, and Malthus intimately.
Is it not something to say for a science that its three greatest
masters were about the three best men I ever knew?"[376]

Smith never sat for his picture, but nevertheless we possess excellent
portraits of him by two very talented artists who had many
opportunities of seeing and sketching him. Tassie was a student at
Foulis's Academy of Design in Glasgow College when Smith was there,
and he may possibly even then have occasionally modelled the
distinguished Professor, for we hear of models of Smith being in all
the booksellers' windows in Glasgow at that time, and these models
would, for a certainty, have been made in the Academy of Design.
However that may be, Tassie executed in later days two different
medallions of Smith. Raspe, in his catalogue of Tassie's enamels,
describes one of these in a list of portraits of the largest size that
that kind of work admitted of, as being modelled and cast by Tassie in
his hard white enamel paste so as to resemble a cameo. From this model
J. Jackson, R.A., made a drawing, which was engraved in stipple by C.
Picart, and published in 1811 by Cadell and Davies. Line engravings of
the same model were subsequently made by John Horsburgh and R.C. Bell
for successive editions of the _Wealth of Nations_, and it is
accordingly the best known, as well as probably the best, portrait of
the author of that work. It is a profile bust showing rather handsome
features, full forehead, prominent eyeballs, well curved eyebrows,
slightly aquiline nose, and firm mouth and chin, and it is inscribed,
"Adam Smith in his 64th year, 1787. Tassie F." In this medallion Smith
wears a wig, but Tassie executed another, Mr. J.M. Gray tells us, in
what he called "the antique manner," without the wig, and with neck
and breast bare. "This work," says Mr. Gray, "has the advantage of
showing the rounded form of the head, covered with rather curling hair
and curving upwards from the brow to a point above the large ear,
which is hidden in the other version."[377] It bears the same date as
the former, and it appears never to have been engraved. Raspe mentions
a third medallion of Smith in his catalogue of Tassie's enamels--"a
bust in enamel, being in colour an imitation of chalcedony, engraved
by F. Warner, after a model by J. Tassie,"--but this appears from Mr.
Gray's account to be a reduced version of the first of the two just
mentioned. Kay made two portraits of Smith: the first, done in 1787,
representing him as he walked in the street, and the second, issued in
1790, and occasioned, no doubt, by his death, representing him as he
has entered an office, probably the Custom House. There is a painting
by T. Collopy in the National Museum of Antiquities at Edinburgh,
which is thought to be a portrait of Adam Smith from the circumstance
that the title _Wealth of Nations_ appears on the back of a book on
the table in the picture; but in the teeth of Stewart's very explicit
statement that Smith never sat for his portrait, the inference drawn
from that circumstance cannot but remain very doubtful. All other
likenesses of Smith are founded on those of Tassie and Kay. Smith was
of middle height, full but not corpulent, with erect figure, well-set
head, and large gray or light blue eyes, which are said to have beamed
with "inexpressible benignity." He dressed well--so well that nobody
seems to have remarked it; for while we hear, on the one hand, of
Hume's black-spotted yellow coat and Gibbon's flowered velvet, and on
the other, of Hutton's battered attire and Henry Erskine's gray hat
with the torn rim, we meet with no allusion to Smith's dress either
for fault or merit.

Smith's books, which went on his death to his heir, Lord Reston, were
divided, on the death of the latter, between his two daughters; the
economic books going to Mrs. Bannerman, the wife of the late Professor
Bannerman of Edinburgh, and the works on other subjects to Mrs.
Cunningham, wife of the Rev. Mr. Cunningham of Prestonpans. Both
portions still exist, the former in the Library of the New College,
Edinburgh, to which they have been presented by Dr. D. Douglas
Bannerman of Perth; and the latter in the possession of Professor
Cunningham of Queen's College, Belfast, except a small number which
were sold in Edinburgh in 1878, and a section, consisting almost
exclusively of Greek and Latin classics, which Professor Cunningham
has presented to the library of the college of which he is a member.
Among other relics of Smith that are still extant are four medallions
by Tassie, which very probably hung in his library. They are
medallions of his personal friends: Black, the chemist; Hutton, the
geologist; Dr. Thomas Reid, the metaphysician; and Andrew Lumisden,
the Pretender's old secretary, and author of the work on the
antiquities of Rome.


[365] "My dear Ascanius" are the words of the text, because Ascanius
was the pseudonym under which the Earl happened to be writing.

[366] The _Bee_, 1791, iii. 166.

[367] Kerr's _Memoirs of W. Smellie_, i. 295.

[368] The _Bee_, 1791, iii. 167.

[369] Original letter in Edinburgh University Library.

[370] Stewart's _Works_, x. 74.

[371] Clayden's _Early Life of Samuel Rogers_, p. 168.

[372] _Memoirs of Sir Samuel Romilly_, i. 403.

[373] Cockburn's _Memorials of My Own Time_, p. 45.

[374] Bonar's _Library of Adam Smith_, p. xiv.

[375] Playfair's edition of _Wealth of Nations_, p. xxxiv.

[376] _Edinburgh Review_, January 1837, p. 473.

[377] Bonar's _Library of Adam Smith_, p. xxii.


Abbeville, Smith at, 213

Abercromby, Professor, expected resignation of chair of Law of
    Nature, 132

Absence of mind, Smith's, in childhood, 4;
  at Glasgow, 60;
  exaggerated, 66;
  Glasgow anecdote of, 147;
  London anecdote, 237;
  Dalkeith anecdotes, 245;
  Kirkcaldy anecdote, 259;
  the story of "La Roche," 314;
  Custom House anecdotes, 330;
  unobserved by Samuel Rogers, 422

Academy of Dancing, Fencing, and Riding in Glasgow College, 79

Academy of Design, Glasgow, 72;
  Smith's interest in, 74

Adam, Robert, architect, schoolfellow of Smith, 7

Adam, William, M.P., Smith's remark on Bentham's
    _Defence of Usury_, 422

Addington, H. (Lord Sidmouth), writes an ode to Smith, 406

Alison, Rev. Archibald, effects of Smith's habit of dictating, 261

American Intercourse Bill, Smith's opinion, 385

American question, Smith's views, 281

Anderson, Dr. James, paper to R.S.E., 421

Anderson, Professor John, his classes for working men, 72;
  voting for his own appointment to Natural Philosophy chair, 83;
  tutorial engagement abroad, 85

Anderston Club, 97

Armed Neutrality, the, Smith on, 382

Astronomy, Smith's history of, 262

Auckland, Lord, _see_ Eden, W.

Bagpipe competition, Smith at, 372;
  Professor Saint Pond's description of, 373

Balfour, Colonel Nesbit, 395

Balliol College, Oxford, Smith enters, 18;
  state of learning at, 22;
  Smith's reading at, 24;
  confiscation of Hume's _Treatise_, 24;
  treatment of Scotch students, 25;
  complaints of Snell exhibitioners, 26;
  correspondence between heads of Balliol and Glasgow Colleges, 27

Banks, Sir Joseph, Smith's letter to, 413

Barnard, Dean, verses on Smith and other members of "the club," 268

Barré, Colonel, with Smith at Bordeaux, 179

Beatson, Robert, Smith's letter introducing, 402

Beattie's Minstrel, Smith's opinion of, 368

Beauclerk, Topham, on Smith's conversation, 269

Bellamy, Mrs., invited to open Glasgow theatre, 80;
  on beauty of Glasgow, 88

Beneficence, Smith's, 437

Bentham, Jeremy, on state of learning at Oxford, 21;
  Smith on his _Defence of Usury_, 422

Berkeley, Mrs. Prebendary, her dinners, 97

Black, Dr. Joseph, professorial losses by light guineas, 49;
  Smith's opinion of, 336;
  Robison's account of, 336;
  appointed Smith's literary executor, 434

Blair, Dr. Hugh, his indebtedness to Smith's lectures on rhetoric, 32;
  his preaching, 420;
  Smith on, 421

Blank verse, Smith on, 35

Bogle, Robert, of Daldowie, 418

Bogle, Robert, of Shettleston, promoter of Glasgow theatre, 79

Bonar, James, on Smith's manifesto of 1755, 65;
  Smith's library, 327

Bonnet, Charles, of Geneva, friendship with Smith, 191

Bordeaux, Smith at, 179;
  condition of people, 180

Boswell, James, Smith's teaching on blank verse, 35;
  pupil of Smith, 58
  Johnson's remark about Glasgow, 88;
  Smith's altercation with Johnson, 155;
  on Smith's admission to "the club," 268

Boufflers-Rouvel, Comtesse de, Smith's visits to her salon, 198;
  her purpose to translate his _Theory_, 199

Brienne, Loménie de, Archbishop of Toulouse, 177;
  his refusal to give Morellet help to publish his translation of
    _Wealth of Nations_, 359

British Coffee-House, Smith's headquarters in London, 267

British Fisheries Society, Smith on, 408;
  his prognostication confirmed, 409

Brougham, Lord, on Dr. J. Black, 336

Buccleugh, Duke of, Smith tutor to, 165;
  illness at Compiègne, 222;
  character, 227;
  marriage, 238;
  home-coming to Dalkeith, 243;
  memorial on medical degrees, 272;
  Mickle's complaint against, 318

Buchan, Earl of, on Smith's love for his mother, 4;
  pupil of Smith, 51;
  Smith's remark about, 52;
  learns etching in Glasgow College, 72;
  on Smith's religious views, 130;
  on Smith's dislike of publicity, 370;
  Smith's declining health, 431;
  Smith's character, 433

Buckle, T.H., on _Wealth of Nations_, 288

Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga, Smith's remark, 343

Burke, Edmund, reported candidature for Glasgow Logic chair, 46;
  his high opinion of the _Theory_, 144;
  his review of it, 145;
  Smith's defence of, 369;
  his visit to Scotland in 1784, 387;
  his remark on Smith, 387;
  Smith's remark on him, 387;
  in Edinburgh, 388;
  conversation, with Smith at Hatton, 389;
  rectorial installation at Glasgow, 390;
  Did he break down? 390;
  made F.R.S.E., 393;
  again in Edinburgh in 1785, 394;
  dinner at Smith's, 395;
  visits John Logan, the poet, 396

Burns, Robert, his letter of introduction to Smith, 402

Butler, Bishop, on state of learning at Oxford, 20

Calas case, the, 186;
  Smith on, 187, 429

Campbell, Dr., of the _Political Survey_, 366

Carlisle, Earl of, Smith's letter to, on free trade for Ireland, 350

Carlyle, Dr. A., on spirit of inquiry among Glasgow students, 9;
  on Earl of Buchan, 52;
  takes part in theatricals in Glasgow College, 79;
  on Smith's obligations to Provost Cochrane, 90;
  on the Glasgow Political Economy Club, 91;
  on "Mr. Robin Simson's Club," 99;
  on Smith's elocution, 108;
  on Smith's appointment as travelling tutor, 226;
  thought Hume a Theist, 313;
  on Smith's jealousy, 433

Chambers, Robert, on Smith's habits of composition, 260

Chicken-broth, 97

Club, Glasgow Political Economy, 92;
  Professor Robert Simson's, 96;
  the  Literary, London, 267;
  Edinburgh Oyster, 334

Cochrane, Provost Andrew, Smith's obligations to, 90;
  Political Economy Club, 91;
  spirited conduct during Rebellion, 91;
  attempt to break his bank, 92;
  correspondence with Oswald on duty on iron, 93;
  views on bank notes, 94

Cockburn, Lord, on current belief in danger of political economy, 292;
  on Dr. Black, 336;
  on appreciation of Smith by young Edinburgh, 436

Colbert, the French minister, claim to descent from Scotch Cuthberts, 176

Colbert, Abbé (Bishop of Rodez), 175;
  on Smith, 176

College administrator, Smith as, 66

Colonial incorporation, Smith's views, 281

Colonies, Roman, 236;
  American, 381;
  when not valuable, in Smith's opinion, 383

Compiègne, Smith at, 222

Composition, Smith's habits of, 260

Conversation, Smith's, 268

Conyers, Lady, at Geneva, 191, 193

Cooper, Sir Grey, helps Smith to Commissionership of Customs, 320, 323

Craufurd, William, friend of Hamilton of Bangour, 40

Critic, Smith as, 34

Cullen, Professor W., letter from Smith to, 44;
  letter from Smith to, 45;
  Smith's letter to, on medical degrees, 273;
  Smith's interest in his family, 433

Custom dues in Glasgow meal-market on students' meal, 67

Customs, salaries of officers, 2;
  Smith made Commissioner, 320;
  his work in Custom House, 330

Daer, Lord, 334

D'Alembert, intimacy with Smith, 202

Dalrymple, Alexander, hydrographer, Smith's recommendation of, to
    Shelburne, 235

Dalrymple, Sir David, _see_ Hailes

Dalrymple, Sir John, on dedication of Hamilton's poems, 40;
  Smith's connection with Foulis's Academy of Design, 75;
  fortunes of Glasgow merchants, 90

Dalzel, Professor A., on Smith's knowledge of Greek, 23;
  on Burke, 391;
  on Windham, 394

Dancing, Academy of, in Glasgow College, 79

Death of Smith, 435;
  Romilly on, 435

Design, Academy of, in Glasgow College, 79
  Smith's interest in this academy, 74

Dictation, Smith's habit of, in composition, 260

Dillon, Cardinal, 184

_Douglas_, Home's tragedy, Smith's interest in, 82, 130

Douglas, Bishop, friend of Smith at Balliol, 28;
  his _Criterion of Miracles_, said to be addressed to Smith, 129;
  letter from Smith to, 403

Douglas cause, the, Smith on, 249, 249

Douglas, David (Lord Reston), Smith's heir, 436

Douglas Heron and Company, bankruptcy of, 254

Douglas of Strathendry, Smith's mother's family, 4

Drysdale, Dr. John, schoolfellow of Smith, 7

Dundas, Henry (Lord Melville), letter to Smith on free trade for
    Ireland, 352;
  Smith's reply, 353;
  dinner to Smith, 405

Dupont de Nemours, reminiscences of Smith in Paris, 215;
  recollection of Smith's views on taxation of the poor, 220

East India Bill, Smith on, 386

East India Company, Smith on, 242;
  Smith mentioned for supervisorship, 253

Economists, the French sect of, 216;
  their great activity in 1766, 219

Eden, William (Lord Auckland), applies for Smith's opinion on free
    trade for Ireland, 352;
  Smith's opinion of, 384;
  Smith's letter to, on American affairs, 385

Edinburgh, Smith's lectures in, 30;
  Smith made freeman of burgh, 251;
  Smith's permanent residence there, 325;
  Royal Society of, 375;
  Smith on, 417;
  New College possesses part of Smith's books, 439

_Edinburgh Review_, 120;
  Smith's review of Johnson's Dictionary, 121;
  his review of contemporary literature, 122;
  death of, 124;
  Hume's exclusion from, 125

Elliot, Sir Gilbert, M.P., reported candidature for chair of Moral
    Philosophy, 46

Enville, Duchesse d', hospitality to Smith at Geneva, 191;
  on Smith's French, 192

Erskine, Henry, Lord Advocate, pupil of Smith, 58

Espinasse, Mademoiselle de 1', Smith's visits to her salon, 201

Fencing, Academy of, in Glasgow College, 79

Ferguson, Dr. Adam, was he the object of Smith's 1755 manifesto? 65;
  on a national militia, 138;
  candidate for Indian supervisorship, 255;
  appointed tutor to Lord Chesterfield on Smith's recommendation, 258;
  his announcement in 1773 of the _Wealth of Nations_, 264;
  intermediary between Lord Carlisle and Smith, 350;
  reconciliation with Smith, 433

Fitzmaurice, Hon. T., pupil of Smith, 154

Foulis, Robert, University press, 71;
  Academy of Design, 72;
  economic publications, 76

Fox, Charles James, quotes _Wealth of Nations_, 289;
  on Smith, 289;
  Smith's approbation of his East India Bill, 386

France, Smith's account of condition of the people of, 229;
  sobriety of southern, 180

Franklin, Benjamin, makes Smith's acquaintance, 150;
  alleged assistance to Smith in composing
    _Wealth of Nations_, 264

Free trade, Smith's advocacy of, in 1750, 36;
  his conversion of the Glasgow merchants to, 60;
  his 1755 manifesto about, 62;
  alleged revolutionary character of the doctrine, 292;
  for Ireland, 349;
  Smith's opinion, 350, 353

French principles and the _Wealth of Nations_, 291

Funeral expenses, Smith's father's, 3

Garrick, David, letter introducing Smith to, 211;
  on Smith's conversation, 269

Geneva, Smith at, 188;
  the constitutional struggle then proceeding, 188

Gibbon, Edward, on state of learning at Oxford, 20;
  on _Wealth of Nations_, 287;
  obtains Smith's opinion as to continuation of his
    _History_, 371;
  Smith's admiration for his work, 414

Gibraltar, Smith against retaining, 382

Gipsies, Smith stolen by, 4

Glasgow in Smith's time, 87;
  its beauty, 88;
  passage between Johnson and Smith about, 88
  Mrs. Montagu, Mrs. Bellamy, Dr. Johnson on, 88;
  its trade, 88;
  its industries, 89;
  its merchants, 90

Glasgow College, Smith a student at, 9;
  its professors then, 10;
  his companions there, 10;
  correspondence of Senate with Balliol College about Snell
    exhibitioners, 26;
  Smith Professor of Logic at, 42;
  Professor of Moral Philosophy, 43;
  Smith's courses at, 43;
  fees and classes, 49;
  students, 57;
  Rector's Court, 68;
  divisions in Senate, 69;
  peculiarities of constitution, 69;
  advanced educational policy, 71;
  Smith's resignation of chair, 172;
  Smith Rector, 410;
  his letter of acceptance, 411;
  installation, 412

Glassford, John, Glasgow, his wealth, 90;
  views on bank notes, 94

Grattan, Henry, motion on free trade for Ireland, 348

Gray's _Odes_, Smith on, 369

Gray, J.M., on Tassie's medallion of Smith, 438

Hailes, Lord, letters of Smith to, 247

Hamilton, Duke of, Smith and tutorship to, 258

Hamilton, William, of Bangour, poems edited by Smith, 38;
  dedication to second edition written by Smith, 40;
  Kames's friendship with, 41

Hamilton, Professor J., Dr. J. Moore's verses on, 100

_Hamlet_, Smith on, 368

Helvetius, his dinners, 200

Hepburn, Miss, 133

Herbert, Henry, introduced by Smith to Hume, 161

Herbert, Nicolas, his remarkable memory, 162

Highlands, depopulation of, 401

Holbach, Baron d', gets _Theory of Moral Sentiments_
    translated, 164;
  his dinners, 199

Home, Henry, _see_ Kames

Home, John, poet, Smith's interest in _Douglas_, 82, 130;
  journey north with Smith, 295

Home, John, of Ninewells, correspondence with Smith about Hume's
    legacy, 302;
  and about the _Dialogues_, 305

Hope, Henry, banker, Amsterdam, Smith's acknowledgment to, 401

Home, Bishop, the "Letter to Adam Smith", 312

Horne Tooke, J., visits Smith at Montpellier, 183

Horsley, Bishop, disapproval of Sunday schools, 407

Hostellaries in Scotland, Smith on, 247

Hume, David, presents Smith with his _Treatise_, 15;
  candidature for Logic chair, Glasgow, 46;
  Essays on Commerce, subject of paper by Smith, 95;
  friendship with Smith, 105;
  descriptions of Select Society, 109;
  exclusion from _Edinburgh Review_, 125;
  letter to Smith on chair of Law of Mature and Nations, 132;
  letters on _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, 141;
  Secretary of Legation at Paris, 162;
  reception in Paris, 163;
  perplexity where to fix his abode, 195;
  quarrel with Rousseau, 206;
  Smith's letter on quarrel, 208;
  Smith on his idea of residing in France, 225;
  Smith on his continuing his _History_, 233;
  appointed by Smith his literary executor, 262;
  letter on _Wealth of Nations_, 286;
  correspondence with Smith about publication of
    _Dialogues on Natural Religion_, 296, 299;
  farewell dinner with his friends, 299;
  death, 302;
  Smith on his monument in Calton Cemetery, 302;
  Smith's letter to Strahan on his death, 304, 307, 311;
  proposal to publish selection from his letters, 309;
  Smith's objection to this, 310;
  Was Hume a Theist? 313;
  Smith's opinion of Hume as historian, 368

Hutcheson, Francis, influence over Smith, 11;
  power as lecturer, 11;
  author of phrase, "greatest happiness of greatest number," 12;
  specific influences on Smith in theology, 13;
  in ethics, 14;
  in political economy, 14;
  taught doctrine of industrial liberty, 15

Hutchinson, Hely, report on free trade for Ireland, 349

Hutton, Dr. James, geologist, 339;
  Smith's literary executor, 434

India Company, East, Smith on, 242;
  Smith mentioned for supervisorship, 253;
  Smith on Fox's Bill, 386

Indignation, Smith's dislike of the man without, 245

Ireland, free trade for, 346;
  discontent in, 347;
  Smith's letter to Lord-Lieutenant on free trade for, 350;
  Dundas on free trade for, 352;
  Smith's reply to Dundas's letter, 353

Jardine, Rev. Dr., a writer in _Edinburgh Review_, 125

Jeffrey, Francis (Lord), on the Johnson and Smith altercation, 156;
  his opposition to Smith's election as Rector, 411

Johnson, Dr. Samuel, on Smith's views of blank verse, 35;
  on Glasgow, 88;
  _Dictionary_, reviewed by Smith, 121;
  altercation with Smith, 154;
  on _Wealth of Nations_, 288;
  Smith's opinion of, 366

Johnstone, William, _see_ Pulteney, Sir W.

Judge Advocate, nature of office, 1

Junius, Smith on authorship of letters by, 420

Kames, Lord, patron of Smith, 31;
  place in literature, 31;
  letter from Smith to, on sympathy, 341

Kay, John, portraits of Smith, 439

Kirkcaldy, inhabitants and industries in last century, 8;
  Smith's residence 1767-73, 238

Knox, John, bookseller, his plan for improving Scotch Highlands, 408

Laing, David, Smith's editing Hamilton's poems, 39

Langton, Bennet, on Smith's conversation, 268

Languedoc, the States of, 183

Lansdowne, Marquis of, _see_ Shelburne

Lauderdale, Earl of, conversation with Fox on Smith, 289;
  entertains Burke and Smith at Hatton, 389;
  his democratic sentiments in early life, 390

Lecturer, Smith as, 56

Le Sage, Professor G.L., Geneva, friendship with Smith, 191

Leslie, Sir John, tutor to Smith's cousin and heir, 412;
  introduced by Smith to Sir Joseph Banks, 413

L'Espinasse, _see_ Espinasse

Library, Smith's, 327, 439

Lindsay, Professor Hercules, takes Smith's classes, 42;
  gives up lecturing in Latin, 99

Literary Club, _see_ Club

Literary Society, Glasgow, _see_ Society

Livy, Smith's opinion of, 367

Lloyd, Captain, reminiscences of Smith in Abbeville, 212

Logan, John, poet, Burke's visit to, 396;
  Smith's admiration for, 396;
  introduced by Smith to Andrew Strahan, 396

Loménie de Brienne, Archbishop of Toulouse, 177

London, Smith's first visit to, 152;
  Smith's residence there 1766-67, 252;
  his residence there 1773-76, 262;
  residence there again 1777, 314

Loudon, Earl of, 1

M'Culloch, J.R., on Smith's failure to foresee French Revolution, 229;
  on Smith's habit of dictating to amanuensis, 260;
  on Smith's books, 329

Macdonald, Sir James, in Paris, 174;
  his death, 225

M'Gowan, John, antiquary, 335

Mackenzie, Henry, on Smith's wealth of conversation, 33, 269;
  his story of "La Roche" and Hume's religious opinions, 313;
  account of Smith's last words to his friends, 435

Mackinnon of Mackinnon, letter from Smith to, 380

Mackintosh, Sir James, on the _Edinburgh Review_, 124;
  remark on Smith, 437

Maclaine, Dr. Archibald, college friend of Smith, 17;
  Smith's remark about, 17;
  acts in college theatricals, 79

Magee, Archbishop, on suppressed passage in
    _Theory of Moral Sentiments_ about the Atonement, 428

Manifesto of doctrine, Smith's, in 1755, 62

Market women on Smith, 329

Marseilles, Smith at, 188

Medical degrees, freedom of, 271;
  Smith's letter to Cullen on, 273

Mickle, translator of _Lusiad_, takes offence at Smith, 316

Militia question in Poker Club, 135;
  Smith's views, 137

Millar, David, Smith's schoolmaster, 5;
  his play, 6

Millar, Professor John, pupil of Smith, 43, 53;
  Jeffrey on, 53;
  on Smith as lecturer, 56

Miller, Sir Thomas, Rector of Glasgow College, 68

Milton's shorter poems, Smith on, 369

Mirabeau, Marquis de, on state of France, 218

Montagu, Mrs., on beauty of Glasgow, 88;
  on culture of Glasgow merchants, 90

Montesquieu, Smith's reported book on, 431

Montpellier, Smith at, 181

Moor, Professor James, 99

Moral Philosophy, Smith professor of, 43;
  fees and classes, 49;
  students, 57;
  his parting with them, 170;
  his resignation, 172

_Moral Sentiments, Theory of_, 141;
  Hume on its reception, 142;
  translated into French, 196;
  author's last revision, 425;
  suppressed passage on Atonement, 428

Morellet, Abbé, intimacy with Smith, 200;
  opinion of Smith, 201;
  on Madame Necker's salon, 206;
  on the French translations of Smith's works, 759;
  his own translation of Wealth of Nations, 359

Mother, death of Smith's, 393

Mure, Baron, correspondence of Hume and Oswald on Balance of
    Trade, 38;
  in Glasgow Literary Society, 95;
  connection with Douglas cause, 258;
  desires Smith for tutor to Duke of Hamilton, 258

Mure, Miss, of Caldwell, on Hume's superstition, 313

Music, Smith's alleged absence of ear for, 214;
  his criticism of, 214

Necker, Smith's acquaintance with, 206;
  and opinion of, 206

Neutrality, the Armed, Smith on, 382

New College, Edinburgh, possessor of Smith's economic books, 439

Nicholson, Professor Shield, on Smith's books, 327

North, Lord, adopts suggestions for his budget from
    _Wealth of Nations_, 294, 310;
  rewards the author with Commissionership of Customs, 320

Opera, French, Smith on, 214

Oswald, James, Treasurer of Navy, home friend of Smith, 6;
  influence on Smith, 37;
  correspondence with Hume on Balance of Trade, 38;
  works for removal of duty on American iron, 93

Oxford, Smith's matriculation, 18;
  expenses of education there then, 19;
  Did Smith graduate? 20;
  state of learning there, 20;
  Smith on, 21;
  his friendlessness at, 27;
  never revisited by him, 29

Oyster Club, Edinburgh, 334; Samuel Rogers at, 418

Panmure House, Smith's Edinburgh residence, 325

Paris, Smith in, 175, 194

_Pastor Fido_, Smith's opinion of, 369

Percy's _Reliques_, Smith's opinion of, 369

Physiocrats, the, 216

Pitt, William, disciple of Smith, 404;
  his remark to Smith at Dundas's, 405;
  Smith's remark on, 405;
  consults Smith on public affairs, 406

Plagiarism, Smith's alleged accusation of Blair, 32;
  his alleged fear of, 64, 269

Playfair, Professor John, on Oyster Club, 335;
  on Dr. Hutton, 337

Playfair, William, on Smith's conversation, 268;
  on Smith's declining health, 405

Poker Club, 134

Pope, Alexander, Smith on, 369, 370

Population question, 398

Portraits of Smith, 438

Pownall, Governor, Smith's letter to, 319

Price, Dr. Richard, on decline of population, 398;
  Smith's opinion of, 400

Pringle, Sir John, on _Wealth of Nations_, 288

Pulteney, Sir William, attends Smith's lectures, 32;
  introduced by Smith to Oswald, 103;
  Smith's letter to, on Indian supervisorship, 253

Quacks in medicine, 276, 279

Quæstor of Glasgow College, office held by Smith, 68

Quesnay, Dr. F., Smith not his disciple, 215;
  Smith's admiration for, 215;
  refusal of farmer-generalship for his son, 218;
  discussions in his room, 219;
  called in by Smith to treat Duke of Buccleugh, 222

Ramsay, Allan, Smith on _Gentle Shepherd_, 369

Ramsay, Allan, painter, founder of Select Society, 107

Ramsay, John, of Ochtertyre, on Kames's friendship with Bangour, 41;
  on Smith's religious views, 60;
  on Smith at whist, 97;
  on Smith's smartening during his foreign travels, 227;
  on Smith's depression after his mother's death, 393

Rector of Glasgow University, Smith's appointment, 410

Reid, Dr. Thomas, on students of Moral Philosophy class, Glasgow, 58

Religion, Smith's views suspected in Glasgow, 60;
  his views obliged to be controverted by Bishop Douglas, 393;
  his final testimony, 429

Republicanism, Smith's, 124

Reston, Lord, _see_ Douglas, David

Reviews, Smith's opinion of the, 370

Revolution, French, Did Smith foresee? 229

Reynolds, Sir Joshua, on Smith's conversation, 269

Riccoboni, Madame, friendship with Smith, 210;
  Smith's opinion of, 210;
  introduces him to Garrick, 211

Richardson, Professor, on Smith's political lectures, 55

Richelieu, Duc de, visited by Smith, 181;
  Voltaire on, 190

Riding, Academy of, in Glasgow College, 79

Ritchie, James, merchant, Glasgow, on the spread of Smith's opinions
    among Glasgow merchants, 60

Rivière, Mercier de la, on condition of France, 218

Robison, Professor, on Dr. Black, 336

Rochefoucauld's _Maximes_, Smith's allusion to, in
    _Theory_, 340, 428

Rochefoucauld, Duc de la, Smith's friendship with, in Geneva, 191;
  letter to Smith from, 339

Roebuck, Dr., anecdote of Wilkie, the poet, and, 102

Rogers, Professor Thorold, on Smith's obligations to Turgot, 203;
  on the Indian supervisorship and the _Wealth of Nations_, 256

Rogers, Samuel, on Smith's absence of mind, 66, 422;
  on Smith and Robertson, 228;
  conversations with Smith in Edinburgh, 416

Romilly, Sir S., on Smith's death, 435

Ross, General Alexander, 395

Ross, Colonel Patrick, 361

Ross, Miss, on Smith's charities, 437

Rouet, Professor, expenses of journey to London, 19;
  with young Tronchin, 59;
  his absenteeism, 89

Rousseau, discourse on inequality reviewed by Smith, 123;
  in Paris with Hume, 196;
  quarrel with Hume, 206;
  Smith's letter on the quarrel, 208;
  Smith on his "Social Compact," 372

Royal Society of London, Smith elected, 238;
  admitted, 263

Royal Society of Edinburgh, foundation of, 375;
  Smith's participation, 376;
  Smith at, with Rogers, 421

Sabbath, the, Smith on, 342

Saint Fond, Professor, his reminiscences of Smith, 372

Saratoga, Smith's remark on the defeat at, 343

Sarsfield, Count de, Smith's chief friend in France, 240

Savage, Richard, Smith on, 366

Say, Leon, on Smith and Turgot, 203

School, Burgh, of Kirkcaldy, 5

Scotland, people of, 401

Scott, Hon. Hew Campbell, joins Smith at Toulouse, 182;
  his death, 226

Scott, Sir Walter, Smith's altercation with Johnson, 156;
  anecdotes of Smith's absence of mind, 330

Select Society, _see_ Society

Shakespeare, Smith on, 368

Shelburne, Earl of (afterwards Marquis of Lansdowne), his admiration
    of Smith's _Theory_, 144;
  his conversion by Smith to free trade, 153;
  Smith's opinion of his negotiations with Pitt for Bute, 162;
  letter of Smith to, 235;
  Smith's political distrust of, 379

Sheridan, Thomas, elocution class at Edinburgh, 119

Simson, Professor Robert, influence on Smith, 10;
  Smith's opinion of, 11;
  his club, 96;
  his Greek and Latin odes, 98

Sinclair, Sir John, his treatise on the Sabbath, 342;
  conversation with Smith on Burgoyne's surrender, 343;
  letter of Smith to, on _Mémoires_, 343;
  letter of Smith on the Armed Neutrality, 382;
  Windham's romantic attachment, 394;
  Smith's opinion of Sinclair, 418

Skene, Captain David, 243

Smellie, William, printer, on Smith's books, 329

Smith, Adam, W.S., Kirkcaldy, 1

Smith, Adam, Collector of Customs, Alloa, 2

Snell exhibitions at Oxford, 16

Society, British Fisheries, Smith on, 408

Society, Glasgow Literary, 94
  Smith's paper on Home's Essays on Commerce, 95

Society, Select, 107;
  Smith's opening speech, 108;
  its economic discussions, 110;
  its work for improvement of Scots arts and manufactures, 112;
  its dissolution, 118

Stage-doctors, 276

Stanhope, Earl, friendship with Smith at Geneva, 191, 193;
  consults Smith about Chesterfield tutorship, 266

Steuart, Sir James, economist, acts in school theatricals, 5;
  on free trade among Glasgow merchants, 61

Stewart, Professor Dugald, on Smith's mathematical tastes, 10;
  on Smith's judgment in art, 74;
  on Smith's travelling tutorship, 217;
  on Smith's being styled "Mr.," 234;
  on Smith's conversation, 269, 270;
  on alleged revolutionary character of free trade doctrine, 292

Stewart, Professor Matthew, college friend of Smith, 10;
  Smith's taste for mathematics, 10;
  Smith's opinion of, 11

Strahan, William, printer, letter from Smith to, about new edition
    of the _Theory_, 149;
  friend of Franklin, 151;
  Hume's literary executor, 298;
  Smith's letter to, on Hume's illness and death, 304;
  letter on Hume's _Dialogues_ from Smith to, 305;
  letter from Smith to, 308;
  proposes publication of selection of Hume's letters, 309;
  Smith's reply, 310;
  correspondence of Smith with, on Commissionership of Customs, 321

Stuart, Andrew, W.S. and M.P., candidate for Indian
    supervisorship, 255;
  withdrawal from contest for Lanarkshire, 391;
  letter of Smith, 392

Sugar, Smith's fondness for, 338

Sunday schools, Smith on, 407

Sunday suppers, Smith's, 327

Swediaur, Dr., on the Oyster Club, 334;
  on Smith, 334

Swift, Jonathan, Smith on, 367

Tassie, J., his medallions of Smith, 438

Taxation of poor, 220, 344;
  in France, 230

Theatre, erection in Glasgow, 79;
  opposition of Senatus and Smith, 79;
  in France frequented by Smith, 213

_Theory of Moral Sentiments_, 141;
  of its reception in London, 142;
  last revision, 425

Thompson, Dr. W., historian, Smith on, 17

Tooke, Horne, visits Smith at Montpellier, 183

Toulouse, Smith at, 175;
  dulness of Smith at, 179;
  its Parliament, 185;
  the Calas case, 186

Townshend, Charles, his admiration for Smith's _Theory_, 144;
  his proposal of tutorship for Smith, 144;
  his visit to Glasgow, 147;
  letter of Smith to, 148;
  letter to Smith, 164;
  letter of Smith from Compiègne to, 223

Trained Bands of Edinburgh, Smith made Honorary Captain, 374

Tronchin, Dr., sends son to be Smith's pupil, 59

Turgot, M., friendship with Smith in Paris, 202;
  their obligations to one another, 203;
  their alleged correspondence, 204;
  Smith's opinion of, 205;
  procures copy of the _Mémoires_ for Smith, 344

Tutorships, travelling, Smith's views of, 166

Union, Smith on the Scotch, 150;
  Smith on Irish, 355

Urquhart, Mr., of Cromartie, 183

_Usury_, Smith on Bentham's _Defence_, 423

Utopia, Smith on, 282

Vice-rector of Glasgow University, office held by Smith, 68

Virgil's _Eclogues_, Smith on, 369

Voltaire, conversation with Smith in Geneva, 189;
  Smith's admiration for, 190;
  Smith's comparison of Rousseau and, 372

Walpole, Horace, Smith's acquaintance with, in Paris, 194;
  reports remark of Smith, 263

Ward, Rev. William, Smith on his Rational Grammar, 159

Watt, James, made mathematical instrument maker to Glasgow
    University, 71;
  makes ivory bust of Smith with his sculpture machine, 74;
  on Professor Simson's Club, 98

_Wealth of Nations_, various dates of composition toolmarked in
    the text, 256;
  publication, 284;
  reception, 285;
  Hume's letter on, 286;
  Gibbon on, 287;
  quoted in Parliament, 290;
  editions, 293;
  early influence on public affairs, 294;
  Danish translation, 356;
  French translations, 359;
  German, 359;
  Spanish, 360;
  letter of Smith to Cadell about third edition, 362

Webster, Dr. A., lists of examinable persons, 399, 400

Wedderburn, Alexander (Earl of Rosslyn), attends Smith's lectures, 32;
  connection with Foulis's Academy of Design, 75;
  editor of _Edinburgh Review_, 121

Whiggism, Smith's, 162, 379, 389, 410

Whist, Smith at, 97

Wilberforce, Bishop, account of Smith's altercation with Johnson, 156

Wilberforce, William, opinion of Smith, 447;
  promoter of British Fisheries Society, 408

Wilkes, John, Smith on, 163

Wilkie, the poet, on Smith, 102

Will, Smith's, 436

Wilson, Professor A., his type-foundry, 71;
  Smith's interest in the foundry, 77;
  new foundry in Glasgow College grounds, 78

Windham, William, on Smith's house in Edinburgh, 326;
  romantic incident, 394;
  on Smith's family circle, 395

Windischgraetz, Count J.N. de, his proposed reform of legal
    terminology, 376

Wordsworth, William, on Smith as a critic, 34


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life of Adam Smith" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.