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Dugald Stewart: Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith, LL.D.

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  2. % Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith LL.D.
  3. % by Dugald Stewart
  4. % 1793
  6. _from the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
  7. read by Mr Stewart, January 21, and March 18, 1793.
  8. printed in the Collected Works of Dugald Stewart, vol. 10, pp. 1- 98._
  10. ----
  12. ## Section I: From Mr. Smith's Birth till the Publication of the Theory of Moral Sentiments
  14. Adam Smith, author of the _Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the
  15. Wealth of Nations_, was the son of Adam Smith, comptroller of the customs
  16. at Kirkaldy,[^1] and of Margaret Douglas, daughter of Mr Douglas of
  17. Strathenry. He was the only child of the marriage, and was born at
  18. Kirkaldy on the 5th of June 1723, a few months after the death of his
  19. father.
  21. His constitution during infancy was infirm and sickly, and required all
  22. the tender solicitude of his surviving parent. She was blamed for
  23. treating him with an unlimited indulgence; but it produced no
  24. unfavourable effects on his temper or his dispositions: -- and he
  25. enjoyed the rare satisfaction of being able to repay here affection, by
  26. every attention that filial gratitude could dictate, during the long
  27. period of sixty years.
  29. An accident which happened to him when he was about three years old, is
  30. of too interesting a nature to be omitted in the account of so valuable
  31. a life. He had been carried by his mother to Strathenry, on a visit to
  32. his uncle Mr Douglas, and was one day amusing himself alone at the door
  33. of the house, when he was stolen by a party of that set of vagrants who
  34. are known in Scotland by the name of tinkers. Luckily he was soon missed
  35. by his uncle, who, hearing that some vagrants had passed, pursued them,
  36. with what assistance he could find, till he overtook them in Leslie
  37. wood; and was the happy instrument of preserving to the world a genius,
  38. which was destined, not only to extend the boundaries of science, but to
  39. enlighten and reform the commercial policy of Europe.
  41. The school of Kirkaldy, where Mr Smith received the first rudiments of
  42. his education, was then taught by Mr David Miller, a teacher, in his
  43. day, of considerable reputation, and whose name deserves to be recorded,
  44. on account of the eminent men whom that very obscure seminary produced
  45. while under his direction. Of this number were Mr Oswald of
  46. Dunikeir;[^2] his brother, Dr John Oswald, afterwards Bishop of Raphoe;
  47. and our late excellent colleague, the Reverend Dr John Drysdale: all of
  48. them nearly contemporary with Mr Smith, and united with him through life
  49. by the closest ties of friendship. One of his school-fellows is still
  50. alive;[^3] and to his kindness I am principally indebted for the scanty
  51. materials which form the first part of this narrative.
  53. Among these companions of his earliest years, Mr Smith soon attracted
  54. notice, by his passion for books, and by the extraordinary powers of his
  55. memory. The weakness of his bodily constitution prevented him from
  56. partaking in their more active amusements; but he was much beloved by
  57. them on account of his temper, which, though warm, was to an uncommon
  58. degree friendly and generous. Even then he was remarkable for those
  59. habits which remained with him through life, of speaking to himself when
  60. alone, and of absence in company.
  62. From the grammar-school of Kirkaldy, he was sent, in 1737, to the
  63. university of Glasgow, where he remained till 1740, when he went to
  64. Baliol college, Oxford, as an exhibitioner[^4] on Snell's foundation.
  66. Dr Maclaine of the Hague, who was a fellow-student of Mr Smith's at
  67. Glasgow, told me some years ago, that his favourite pursuits while at
  68. that university were mathematics and natural philosophy; and I remember
  69. to have heard my father remind him of a geometrical problem of
  70. considerable difficulty, about which he was occupied at the time when
  71. their acquaintance commenced, and which had been proposed to him as an
  72. exercise by the celebrated Dr Simpson.
  74. These, however, were certainly not the sciences in which he was formed
  75. to excel; nor did they long divert him from pursuits more congenial to
  76. his mind. What Lord Bacon says of Plato may be justly applied to him:
  78. > Illum, licet ad rempublicam non accessisset, tamen naturâ et
  79. > inclinatione omnino ad res civiles propensum, vires eo praecipue
  80. > intendisse; neque de Philosophia Naturali admodum sollicitum esse;
  81. > nisi quatenus ad Philosophi nomen et celebritatem tuendam, et ad
  82. > majestatem quandam moralibus et civilibus doctrinis addendam et
  83. > aspergendam sufficeret.'[^5]
  85. The study of human nature in all its branches, more
  86. particularly of the political history of mankind, opened a boundless
  87. field to his curiosity and ambition; and while it afforded scope to all
  88. the various powers of his versatile and comprehensive genius, gratified
  89. his ruling passion, of contributing to the happiness and the improvement
  90. of society. To this study, diversified at his leisure hours by the less
  91. severe occupations of polite literature, he seems to have devoted
  92. himself almost entirely from the time of his removal to Oxford; but he
  93. still retained, and retained even in advanced years, a recollection of
  94. his early acquisitions, which not only added to the splendour of his
  95. conversation, but enabled him to exemplify some of his favourite
  96. theories concerning the natural progress of the mind in the
  97. investigation of truth, by the history of those sciences in which the
  98. connection and succession of discoveries may be traced with the greatest
  99. advantage. If I am not mistaken too, the influence of his early taste
  100. for the Greek geometry may be remarked in the elementary clearness and
  101. fulness, bordering sometimes upon prolixity, with which he frequently
  102. states his political reasonings. -- The lectures of the profound and
  103. eloquent Dr Hutcheson, which he had attended previous to his departure
  104. from Glasgow, and of which he always spoke in terms of the warmest
  105. admiration, had, it may be reasonably presumed, a considerable effect in
  106. directing his talents to their proper objects.[^6]
  108. I have not been able to collect any information with respect to that
  109. part of his youth which was spent in England. I have heard him say, that
  110. he employed himself frequently in the practice of translation,
  111. (particularly from the French), with a view to the improvement of his
  112. own style: and he used often to express a favourable opinion of the
  113. utility of such exercises, to all who cultivate the art of composition.
  114. It is much to be regretted, that none of his juvenile attempts in this
  115. way have been preserved; as the few specimens which his writings contain
  116. of his skill as a translator, are sufficient to shew the eminence he had
  117. attained in a walk of literature, which, in our country, has been so
  118. little frequented by men of genius.
  120. It was probably also at this period of his life, that he cultivated with
  121. the greatest care the study of languages. The knowledge he possessed of
  122. these, both ancient and modern, was uncommonly extensive and accurate;
  123. and, in him, was subservient, not to a vain parade of tasteless
  124. erudition, but to a familiar acquaintance with every thing that could
  125. illustrate the institutions, the manners, and the ideas of different
  126. ages and nations. How intimately he had once been conversant with the
  127. more ornamental branches of learning; in particular, with the works of
  128. the Roman, Greek, French, and Italian Poets, appeared sufficiently from
  129. the hold which they kept of his memory, after all the different
  130. occupations and inquiries in which his maturer faculties had been
  131. employed.[^7] In the English language, the variety of poetical passages
  132. which he was not only accustomed to refer to occasionally, but which he
  133. was able to repeat with correctness, appeared surprising even to those,
  134. whose attention had never been directed to more important acquisitions.
  136. After a residence at Oxford of seven years, he returned to Kirkaldy, and
  137. lived two years with his mother; engaged in study, but without any fixed
  138. plan for his future life. He had been originally destined for the Church
  139. of England, and with that view had been sent to Oxford; but not finding
  140. the ecclesiastical profession suitable to his taste, he chose to
  141. consult, in this instance, his own inclination, in preference to the
  142. wishes of his friends; and abandoning at once all the schemes which
  143. their prudence had formed for him, he resolved to return to his own
  144. country, and to limit his ambition to the uncertain prospect of
  145. obtaining, in time, some one of those moderate preferments, to which
  146. literary attainments lead in Scotland.
  148. In the year 1748, he fixed his residence at Edinburgh, and during that
  149. and the following years, read lectures on rhetoric and belles lettres,
  150. under the patronage of Lord Kames. About this time, too, he contracted a
  151. very intimate friendship, which continued without interruption till his
  152. death, with Mr Alexander Wedderburn, now Lord Loughborough, and with Mr
  153. William Johnstone, now Mr Pulteney.
  155. At what particular period his acquaintance with Mr David Hume commenced,
  156. does not appear from any information that I have received; but from some
  157. papers, now in the possession of Mr Hume's nephew, and which he has been
  158. so obliging as to allow me to peruse, their acquaintance seems to have
  159. grown into friendship before the year 1752. It was a friendship on both
  160. sides founded on the admiration of genius, and the love of simplicity;
  161. and, which forms an interesting circumstance in the history of each of
  162. these eminent men, from the ambition which both have shewn to record it
  163. to posterity.
  165. In 1751, he was elected Professor of Logic in the University of Glasgow;
  166. and, the year following, he was removed to the Professorship of Moral
  167. Philosophy in the same University, upon the death of Mr Thomas Craigie,
  168. the immediate successor of Dr Hutcheson. In this situation he remained
  169. thirteen years; a period he used frequently to look back to, as the most
  170. useful and happy of his life. It was indeed a situation in which he was
  171. eminently fitted to excel, and in which the daily labours of his
  172. profession were constantly recalling his attention to his favourite
  173. pursuits, and familiarizing his mind to those important speculations he
  174. was afterwards to communicate to the world. In this view, though it
  175. afforded, in the meantime, but a very narrow scene for his ambition, it
  176. was probably instrumental, in no inconsiderable degree, to the future
  177. eminence of his literary character.
  179. Of Mr Smith's lectures while a Professor at Glasgow, no part has been
  180. preserved, excepting what he himself published in the _Theory of Moral
  181. Sentiments_, and in the _Wealth of Nations_. The Society therefore, I am
  182. persuaded, will listen with pleasure to the following short account of
  183. them, for which I am indebted to a gentleman who was formerly one of Mr
  184. Smith's pupils, and who continued till his death to be one of his most
  185. intimate and valued friends.[^8]
  187. > In the Professorship of Logic, to which Mr Smith was appointed on his
  188. > first introduction into this University, he soon saw the necessity of
  189. > departing widely from the plan that had been followed by his
  190. > predecessors, and of directing the attention of his pupils to studies
  191. > of a more interesting and useful nature than the logic and metaphysics
  192. > of the schools. Accordingly, after exhibiting a general view of the
  193. > powers of the mind, and explaining so much of the ancient logic as was
  194. > requisite to gratify curiosity with respect to an artificial method of
  195. > reasoning, which had once occupied the universal attention of the
  196. > learned, he dedicated all the rest of his time to the delivery of a
  197. > system of rhetoric and belles lettres. The best method of explaining
  198. > and illustrating the various powers of the human mind, the most useful
  199. > part of metaphysics, arises from an examination of the several ways of
  200. > communicating our thoughts by speech, and from an attention to the
  201. > principles of those literary compositions which contribute to
  202. > persuasion or entertainment. By these arts, every thing that we
  203. > perceive or feel, every operation of our minds, is expressed and
  204. > delineated in such a manner, that it may be clearly distinguished and
  205. > remembered. There is, at the same time, no branch of literature more
  206. > suited to youth at their first entrance upon philosophy than this,
  207. > which lays hold of their taste and their feelings.
  209. > It is much to be regretted, that the manuscript containing Mr Smith's
  210. > lectures on this subject was destroyed before his death. The first
  211. > part, in point of composition, was highly finished; and the whole
  212. > discovered strong marks of taste and original genius. From the
  213. > permission given to students of taking notes, many observations and
  214. > opinions contained in these lectures have either been detailed in
  215. > separate dissertations, or engrossed in general collections, which
  216. > have since been given to the public. But these, as might be expected,
  217. > have lost the air of originality and the distinctive character which
  218. > they received from their first author, and are often obscured by that
  219. > multiplicity of common-place matter in which they are sunk and
  220. > involved.
  222. > About a year after his appointment to the Professorship of Logic, Mr
  223. > Smith was elected to the chair of Moral Philosophy. His course of
  224. > lectures on this subject was divided into four parts. The first
  225. > contained Natural Theology; in which he considered the proofs of the
  226. > being and attributes of God, and those principles of the human mind
  227. > upon which religion is founded. The second comprehended Ethics,
  228. > strictly so called, and consisted chiefly of the doctrines which he
  229. > afterwards published in his _Theory of Moral Sentiments_. In the third
  230. > part, he treated at more length of that branch of morality which
  231. > relates to justice, and which, being susceptible of precise and
  232. > accurate rules, is for that reason capable of a full and particular
  233. > explanation.
  235. > Upon this subject he followed the plan that seems to be suggested by
  236. > Montesquieu; endeavouring to trace the gradual progress of
  237. > jurisprudence, both public and private, from the rudest to the most
  238. > refined ages, and to point out the effects of those arts which
  239. > contribute to subsistence, and to the accumulation of property, in
  240. > producing correspondent improvements or alterations in law and
  241. > government. This important branch of his labours he also intended to
  242. > give to the public; but this intention, which is mentioned in the
  243. > conclusion of the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, he did not live to
  244. > fulfil.
  246. > In the last part of his lectures, he examined those political
  247. > regulations which are founded, not upon the principle of justice, but
  248. > that of expediency, and which are calculated to increase the riches,
  249. > the power, and the prosperity of a State. Under this view, he
  250. > considered the political institutions relating to commerce, to
  251. > finances, to ecclesiastical and military establishments. What he
  252. > delivered on these subjects contained the substance of the work he
  253. > afterwards published under the title of _An Inquiry into the Nature
  254. > and Causes of the Wealth of Nations_.
  256. > There was no situation in which the abilities of Mr Smith appeared to
  257. > greater advantage than as a Professor. In delivering his lectures, he
  258. > trusted almost entirely to extemporary elocution. His manner, though
  259. > not graceful, was plain and unaffected; and, as he seemed to be always
  260. > interested in the subject, he never failed to interest his hearers.
  261. > Each discourse consisted commonly of several distinct propositions,
  262. > which he successively endeavoured to prove and illustrate. These
  263. > propositions, when announced in general terms, had, from their extent,
  264. > not unfrequently something of the air of a paradox. In his attempts to
  265. > explain them, he often appeared, at first, not to be sufficiently
  266. > possessed of the subject, and spoke with some hesitation. As he
  267. > advanced, however, the matter seemed to crowd upon him, his manner
  268. > became warm and animated, and his expression easy and fluent. In
  269. > points susceptible of controversy, you could easily discern, that he
  270. > secretly conceived an opposition to his opinions, and that he was led
  271. > upon this account to support them with greater energy and vehemence.
  272. > By the fulness and variety of his illustrations, the subject gradually
  273. > swelled in his hands, and acquired a dimension which, without a
  274. > tedious repetition of the same views, was calculated to seize the
  275. > attention of his audience, and to afford them pleasure, as well as
  276. > instruction, in following the same object, through all the diversity
  277. > of shades and aspects in which it was presented, and afterwards in
  278. > tracing it backwards to that original proposition or general truth
  279. > from which this beautiful train of speculation had proceeded.
  281. > His reputation as a Professor was accordingly raised very high, and a
  282. > multitude of students from a great distance resorted to the
  283. > University, merely upon his account. Those branches of science which
  284. > he taught became fashionable at this place, and his opinions were the
  285. > chief topics of discussion in clubs and literary societies. Even the
  286. > small peculiarities in his pronunciation or manner of speaking, became
  287. > frequently the objects of imitation.
  289. While Mr Smith was thus distinguishing himself by his zeal and ability
  290. as a public teacher, he was gradually laying the foundation of a more
  291. extensive reputation, by preparing for the press his system of morals.
  292. The first edition of this work appeared in 1759, under the title of _The
  293. Theory of Moral Sentiments_.
  295. Hitherto Mr Smith had remained unknown to the world as an author; nor
  296. have I heard that he had made a trial of his powers in any anonymous
  297. publications, excepting in a periodical work called The Edinburgh
  298. Review, which was begun in the year 1755, by some gentlemen of
  299. distinguished abilities, but which they were prevented by other
  300. engagements from carrying farther than the two first numbers. To this
  301. work Mr Smith contributed a review of Dr Johnson's _Dictionary of the
  302. English Language_, and also a letter, addressed to the editors,
  303. containing some general observations on the state of literature in the
  304. different countries of Europe. In the former of these papers, he points
  305. out some defects in Dr Johnson's plan, which he censures as not
  306. sufficiently grammatical. "The different significations of a word (he
  307. observes) are indeed collected; but they are seldom digested into
  308. general classes, or ranged under the meaning which the word principally
  309. expresses: And sufficient care is not taken to distinguish the words
  310. apparently synonymous." To illustrate this criticism, he copies from Dr
  311. Johnson the articles BUT and HUMOUR, and opposes to them the same
  312. articles digested agreeably to his own idea. The various significations
  313. of the word BUT are very nicely and happily discriminated. The other
  314. article does not seem to have been executed with equal care.
  316. The observations on the state of learning in Europe are written with
  317. ingenuity and elegance; but are chiefly interesting, as they shew the
  318. attention which the Author had given to the philosophy and literature of
  319. the Continent, at a period when they were not much studied in this
  320. island.
  322. In the same volume with the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, Mr Smith
  323. published a Dissertation _on the Origin of Languages, and on the
  324. different Genius of those which are original and compounded_. The
  325. remarks I have to offer on these two discourses, I shall, for the sake
  326. of distinctness, make the subject of a separate section.
  330. ## Section II: Of the Theory of Moral Sentiments, and the Dissertation on the Origin of Languages
  332. The science of Ethics has been divided by modern writers into two parts;
  333. the one comprehending the theory of Morals, and the other its practical
  334. doctrines. The questions about which the former is employed, are chiefly
  335. the two following. First, By what principle of our constitution are we
  336. led to form the notion of moral distinctions; whether by that faculty
  337. which, in the other branches of human knowledge, perceives the
  338. distinction between truth and falsehood; or by a peculiar power of
  339. perception (called by some the Moral Sense) which is pleased with one
  340. set of qualities, and displeased with another? Secondly, What is the
  341. proper object of moral approbation? or, in other words, What is the
  342. common quality or qualities belonging to all the different modes of
  343. virtue? Is it benevolence; or a rational self-love; or a disposition
  344. (resulting from the ascendant of Reason over Passion) to act suitably to
  345. the different relations in which we are placed? These two questions seem
  346. to exhaust the whole theory of Morals. The scope of the one is to
  347. ascertain the origin of our moral ideas; that of the other, to refer the
  348. phenomena of moral perception to their most simple and general laws.
  350. The practical doctrines of morality comprehend all those rules of
  351. conduct which profess to point out the proper ends of human pursuit, and
  352. the most effectual means of attaining them; to which we may add all
  353. those literary compositions, whatever be their particular form, which
  354. have for their aim to fortify and animate our good dispositions, by
  355. delineations of the beauty, of the dignity, or of the utility of Virtue.
  357. I shall not inquire at present into the justness of this division. I
  358. shall only observe, that the words Theory and Practice are not, in this
  359. instance, employed in their usual acceptations. The theory of Morals
  360. does not bear, for example, the same relation to the practice of Morals,
  361. that the theory of Geometry bears to practical Geometry. In this last
  362. science, all the practical rules are founded on theoretical principles
  363. previously established: But in the former science, the practical rules
  364. are obvious to the capacities of all mankind; the theoretical principles
  365. form one of the most difficult subjects of discussion that have ever
  366. exercised the ingenuity of metaphysicians.
  368. In illustrating the doctrines of practical morality, (if we make
  369. allowance for some unfortunate prejudices produced or encouraged by
  370. violent and oppressive systems of policy), the ancients seem to have
  371. availed themselves of every light furnished by nature to human reason;
  372. and indeed those writers who, in later times, have treated the subject
  373. with the greatest success, are they who have followed most closely the
  374. footsteps of the Greek and the Roman philosophers. The theoretical
  375. question, too, concerning the essence of virtue, or the proper object of
  376. moral approbation, was a favourite topic of discussion in the ancient
  377. schools. The question concerning the principle of moral approbation,
  378. though not entirely of modern origin, has been chiefly agitated since
  379. the writings of Dr Cudworth, in opposition to those of Mr Hobbes; and it
  380. is this question accordingly (recommended at once by its novelty and
  381. difficulty to the curiosity of speculative men), that has produced most
  382. of the theories which characterize and distinguish from each other the
  383. later systems of moral philosophy.
  385. It was the opinion of Dr Cudworth, and also of Dr Clarke, that moral
  386. distinctions are perceived by that power of the mind, which
  387. distinguishes truth from falsehood. This system it was one great object
  388. of Dr Hutcheson's philosophy to refute, and in opposition to it, to show
  389. that the words Right and Wrong express certain agreeable and
  390. disagreeable qualities in actions, which it is not the province of
  391. reason but of feeling to perceive; and to that power of perception which
  392. renders us susceptible of pleasure or of pain from the view of virtue or
  393. of vice, he gave the name of the Moral Sense. His reasonings upon this
  394. subject are in the main acquiesced in, both by Mr Hume and Mr Smith; but
  395. they differ from him in one important particular, -- Dr Hutcheson
  396. plainly supposing, that the moral sense is a simple principle of our
  397. constitution, of which no account can be given; whereas the other two
  398. philosophers have both attempted to analyze it into other principles
  399. more general. Their systems, however, with respect to it are very
  400. different from each other. According to Mr Hume, all the qualities which
  401. are denominated virtuous, are useful either to ourselves or to others,
  402. and the pleasure which we derive from the view of them is the pleasure
  403. of utility. Mr Smith, without rejecting entirely Mr Hume's doctrine,
  404. proposes another of his own, far more comprehensive; a doctrine with
  405. which he thinks all the most celebrated theories of morality invented by
  406. his predecessors coincide in part, and from some partial view of which
  407. he apprehends that they have all proceeded.
  409. Of this very ingenious and original theory, I shall endeavour to give a
  410. short abstract. To those who are familiarly acquainted with it as it is
  411. stated by its author, I am aware that the attempt may appear
  412. superfluous; but I flatter myself that it will not be wholly useless to
  413. such as have not been much conversant in these abstract disquisitions,
  414. by presenting to them the leading principles of the system in one
  415. connected view, without those interruptions of the attention which
  416. necessarily arise from the author's various and happy illustrations, and
  417. from the many eloquent digressions which animate and adorn his
  418. composition.
  420. The fundamental principle of Mr Smith's theory is, that the primary
  421. objects of our moral perceptions are the actions of other men; and that
  422. our moral judgments with respect to our own conduct are only
  423. applications to ourselves of decisions which we have already passed on
  424. the conduct of our neighbour. His work accordingly includes two distinct
  425. inquiries, which, although sometimes blended together in the execution
  426. of his general design, it is necessary for the reader to discriminate
  427. carefully from each other, in order to comprehend all the different
  428. bearings of the author's argument. The aim of the former inquiry is, to
  429. explain in what manner we learn to judge of the conduct of our
  430. neighbour; that of the latter, to shew how, by applying these judgments
  431. to ourselves, we acquire a sense of duty, and a feeling of its paramount
  432. authority over all our other principles of action.
  434. Our moral judgments, both with respect to our own conduct and that of
  435. others, include two distinct perceptions: first, A perception of conduct
  436. as right or wrong; and, secondly, A perception of the merit or demerit
  437. of the agent. To that quality of conduct which moralists, in general,
  438. express by the word Rectitude, Mr Smith gives the name of Propriety; and
  439. he begins his theory with inquiring in what it consists, and how we are
  440. led to form the idea of it. The leading principles of his doctrine on
  441. this subject are comprehended in the following propositions.
  443. 1. It is from our own experience alone, that we can form any idea of
  444. what passes in the mind of another person on any particular occasion;
  445. and the only way in which we can form this idea, is by supposing
  446. ourselves in the same circumstances with him, and conceiving how we
  447. should be affected if we were so situated. It is impossible for us,
  448. however, to conceive ourselves placed in any situation, whether
  449. agreeable or otherwise, without feeling an effect of the same kind with
  450. what would be produced by the situation itself; and of consequence the
  451. attention we give at any time to the circumstances of our neighbour,
  452. must affect us somewhat in the same manner, although by no means in the
  453. same degree, as if these circumstances were our own.
  455. That this imaginary change of place with other men, is the real
  456. source of the interest we take in their fortunes, Mr Smith attempts
  457. to prove by various instances.
  459. > When we see a stroke aimed, and just ready to fall upon the leg or
  460. > arm of another person, we naturally shrink and draw back our own
  461. > leg or our own arm; and when it does fall, we feel it in some
  462. > measure, and are hurt by it as well as the sufferer. The mob, when
  463. > they are gazing at a dancer on the slackrope, naturally writhe and
  464. > twist and balance their own bodies, as they see him do, and as
  465. > they feel that they themselves must do if in his situation.
  467. The same thing takes place, according to Mr Smith, in every case in
  468. which our attention is turned to the condition of our neighbour.
  470. > Whatever is the passion which arises from any object in the person
  471. > principally concerned, an analogous emotion springs up, at the
  472. > thought of his situation, in the breast of every attentive
  473. > spectator. In every passion of which the mind of man is
  474. > susceptible, the emotions of the bystander always correspond to
  475. > what, by bringing the case home to himself, he imagines should be
  476. > the sentiments of the sufferer.
  478. To this principle of our nature which leads us to enter into the
  479. situations of other men, and to partake with them in the passions
  480. which these situations have a tendency to excite, Mr Smith gives the
  481. name of sympathy or fellow-feeling, which two words he employs as
  482. synonymous. Upon some occasions, he acknowledges, that sympathy
  483. arises merely from the view of a certain emotion in another person;
  484. but in general it arises, not so much from the view of the emotion,
  485. as from that of the situation which excites it.
  487. 2. A sympathy or fellow-feeling between different persons is always
  488. agreeable to both. When I am in a situation which excites any passion,
  489. it is pleasant to me to know, that the spectators of my situation enter
  490. with me into all its various circumstances, and are affected with them
  491. in the same manner as I am myself. On the other hand, it is pleasant to
  492. the spectator to observe this correspondence of his emotions with mine.
  494. 3. When the spectator of another man's situation, upon bringing home to
  495. himself all its various circumstances, feels himself affected in the
  496. same manner with the person principally concerned, he approves of the
  497. affection or passion of this person as just and proper, and suitable to
  498. its object. The exceptions which occur to this observation are,
  499. according to Mr Smith, only apparent.
  501. > A stranger, for example, passes by us in the street with all the
  502. > marks of the deepest affliction: and we are immediately told, that
  503. > he has just received the news of the death of his father. It is
  504. > impossible that, in this case, we should not approve of his grief;
  505. > yet it may often happen, without any defect of humanity on our
  506. > part, that, so far from entering into the violence of his sorrow,
  507. > we should scarce conceive the first movements of concern upon his
  508. > account. We have learned, however, from experience, that such a
  509. > misfortune naturally excites such a degree of sorrow; and we know,
  510. > that if we took time to examine his situation fully, and in all
  511. > its parts, we should, without doubt, most sincerely sympathize
  512. > with him. It is upon the consciousness of this conditional
  513. > sympathy that our approbation of his sorrow is founded, even in
  514. > those cases in which that sympathy does not actually take place;
  515. > and the general rules derived from our preceding experience of
  516. > what our sentiments would commonly correspond with, correct upon
  517. > this, as upon many other occasions, the impropriety of our present
  518. > emotions.
  520. By the propriety therefore of any affection or passion exhibited by
  521. another person, is to be understood its suitableness to the object
  522. which excites it. Of this suitableness I can judge only from the
  523. coincidence of the affection with that which I feel, when I conceive
  524. myself in the same circumstances; and the perception of this
  525. coincidence is the foundation of the sentiment of moral approbation.
  527. 4. Although, when we attend to the situation of another person, and
  528. conceive ourselves to be placed in his circumstances, an emotion of the
  529. same kind with that which he feels naturally arises in our own mind, yet
  530. this sympathetic emotion bears but a very small proportion, in point of
  531. degree, to what is felt by the person principally concerned. In order,
  532. therefore, to obtain the pleasure of mutual sympathy, nature teaches the
  533. spectator to strive, as much as he can, to raise his emotion to a level
  534. with that which the object would really produce: and, on the other hand,
  535. she teaches the person whose passion this object has excited, to bring
  536. it down, as much as he can, to a level with that of the spectator.
  538. 5. Upon these two different efforts are founded two different sets of
  539. virtues. Upon the effort of the spectator to enter into the situation of
  540. the person principally concerned, and to raise his sympathetic emotions
  541. to a level with the emotions of the actor, are founded the gentle, the
  542. amiable virtues; the virtues of candid condescension and indulgent
  543. humanity. Upon the effort of the person principally concerned to lower
  544. his own emotions, so as to correspond as nearly as possible with those
  545. of the spectator, are founded the great, the awful, and respectable
  546. virtues; the virtues of self-denial, of self-government, of that command
  547. of the passions, which subjects all the movements of our nature to what
  548. our own dignity and honour, and the propriety of our own conduct,
  549. require.
  551. As a farther illustration of the foregoing doctrine, Mr Smith considers
  552. particularly the degrees of the different passions which are consistent
  553. with propriety, and endeavours to shew, that, in every case, it is
  554. decent or indecent to express a passion strongly, according as mankind
  555. are disposed, or not disposed to sympathize with it. It is unbecoming,
  556. for example, to express strongly any of those passions which arise from
  557. a certain condition of the body; because other men, who are not in the
  558. same condition, cannot be expected to sympathize with them. It is
  559. unbecoming to cry out with bodily pain; because the sympathy felt by the
  560. spectator bears no proportion to the acuteness of what is felt by the
  561. sufferer. The case is somewhat similar with those passions which take
  562. their origin from a particular turn or habit of the imagination.
  564. In the case of the unsocial passions of hatred and resentment, the
  565. sympathy of the spectator is divided between the person who feels the
  566. passion, and the person who is the object of it. "We are concerned for
  567. both, and our fear for what the one may suffer damps our resentment for
  568. what the other has suffered." Hence the imperfect degree in which we
  569. sympathize with such passions; and the propriety, when we are under
  570. their influence, of moderating their expression to a much greater degree
  571. than is required in the case of any other emotions.
  573. The reverse of this takes place with respect to all the social and
  574. benevolent affections. The sympathy of the spectator with the person who
  575. feels them, coincides with his concern for the person who is the object
  576. of them. It is this redoubled sympathy which renders these affections so
  577. peculiarly becoming and agreeable.
  579. The selfish emotions of grief and joy, when they are conceived on
  580. account of our own private good or bad fortune, hold a sort of middle
  581. place between our social and our unsocial passions. They are never so
  582. graceful as the one set, nor so odious as the other. Even when
  583. excessive, they are never so disagreeable as excessive resentment;
  584. because no opposite sympathy can ever interest us against them: and when
  585. most suitable to their objects, they are never so agreeable as impartial
  586. humanity and just benevolence; because no double sympathy can ever
  587. interest us for them.
  589. After these general speculations concerning the propriety of actions, Mr
  590. Smith examines how far the judgments of mankind concerning it are liable
  591. to be influenced, in particular cases, by the prosperous or the adverse
  592. circumstances of the agent. The scope of his reasoning on this subject
  593. is directed to shew (in opposition to the common opinion), that when
  594. there is no envy in the case, our propensity to sympathize with joy is
  595. much stronger than our propensity to sympathize with sorrow; and, of
  596. consequence, that it is more easy to obtain the approbation of mankind
  597. in prosperity than in adversity. From the same principle he traces the
  598. origin of ambition, or of the desire of rank and pre-eminence; the great
  599. object of which passion is, to attain that situation which sets a man
  600. most in the view of general sympathy and attention, and gives him an
  601. easy empire over the affections of others.
  603. ----
  605. Having finished the analysis of our sense of propriety and of
  606. impropriety, Mr Smith proceeds to consider our sense of merit and
  607. demerit; which he thinks has also a reference, in the first instance,
  608. not to our own characters, but to the characters of our neighbours. In
  609. explaining the origin of this part of our moral constitution, he avails
  610. himself of the same principle of sympathy, into which he resolves the
  611. sentiment of moral approbation.
  613. The words propriety and impropriety, when applied to an affection of the
  614. mind, are used in this theory (as has been already observed) to express
  615. the suitableness or unsuitableness of the affection to its exciting
  616. cause. The words merit and demerit have always a reference (according to
  617. Mr Smith) to the effect which the affection tends to produce. When the
  618. tendency of an affection is beneficial, the agent appears to us a proper
  619. object of reward; when it is hurtful, he appears the proper object of
  620. punishment.
  622. The principles in our nature which most directly prompt us to reward and
  623. to punish, are gratitude and resentment. To say of a person, therefore,
  624. that he is deserving of reward or of punishment, is to say, in other
  625. words, that he is a proper object of gratitude or of resentment; or,
  626. which amounts to the same thing, that he is to some person or persons
  627. the object of a gratitude or of a resentment, which every reasonable man
  628. is ready to adopt and sympathize with.
  630. It is however very necessary to observe, that we do not thoroughly
  631. sympathize with the gratitude of one man towards another, merely because
  632. this other has been the cause of his good fortune, unless he has been
  633. the cause of it from motives which we entirely go along with. Our sense,
  634. therefore, of the good desert of an action, is a compounded sentiment,
  635. made up of an indirect sympathy with the person to whom the action is
  636. beneficial, and of a direct sympathy with the affections and motives of
  637. the agent. The same remark applies, mutatis mutandis, to our sense of
  638. demerit, or of ill-desert.
  640. From these principles, it is inferred, that the only actions which
  641. appear to us deserving of reward, are actions of a beneficial tendency,
  642. proceeding from proper motives; the only actions which seem to deserve
  643. punishment, are actions of a hurtful tendency, proceeding from improper
  644. motives. A mere want of beneficence exposes to no punishment; because
  645. the mere want of beneficence tends to do no real positive evil. A man,
  646. on the other hand, who is barely innocent, and contents himself with
  647. observing strictly the laws of justice with respect to others, can merit
  648. only, that his neighbours, in their turn, should observe religiously the
  649. same laws with respect to him.
  651. These observations lead Mr Smith to anticipate a little the subject of
  652. the second great division of his work, by a short inquiry into the
  653. origin of our sense of justice, as applicable to our own conduct; and
  654. also of our sentiments of remorse, and of good desert.
  656. The origin of our sense of justice, as well as of all our other moral
  657. sentiments, he accounts for by means of the principle of sympathy. When
  658. I attend only to the feelings of my own breast, my own happiness appears
  659. to me of far greater consequence than that of all the world besides. But
  660. I am conscious, that, in this excessive preference, other men cannot
  661. possibly sympathize with me, and that to them I appear only one of the
  662. crowd, in whom they are no more interested than in any other individual.
  663. If I wish, therefore, to secure their sympathy and approbation (which,
  664. according to Mr Smith, are the objects of the strongest desire of my
  665. nature), it is necessary for me to regard my happiness, not in that
  666. light in which it appears to myself, but in that light in which it
  667. appears to mankind in general. If an unprovoked injury is offered to me,
  668. I know that society will sympathize with my resentment; but if I injure
  669. the interests of another, who never injured me, merely because they
  670. stand in the way of my own, I perceive evidently, that society will
  671. sympathize with his resentment, and that I shall become the object of
  672. general indignation.
  674. When, upon any occasion, I am led by the violence of passion to overlook
  675. these considerations, and, in the case of a competition of interests, to
  676. act according to my own feelings, and not according to those of
  677. impartial spectators, I never fail to incur the punishment of remorse.
  678. When my passion is gratified, and I begin to reflect coolly on my
  679. conduct, I can no longer enter into the motives from which it proceeded;
  680. it appears as improper to me as to the rest of the world; I lament the
  681. effects it has produced; I pity the unhappy sufferer whom I have
  682. injured; and I feel myself a just object of indignation to mankind.
  684. > Such, (says Mr Smith) is the nature of that sentiment which is
  685. > properly called remorse. It is made up of shame from the sense of the
  686. > impropriety of past conduct; of grief for the effects of it; of pity
  687. > for those who suffer by it; and of the dread and terror of punishment
  688. > from the consciousness of the justly provoked resentment of all
  689. > rational creatures.
  691. The opposite behaviour of him who, from proper motives, has performed a
  692. generous action, inspires, in a similar manner, the opposite sentiment
  693. of conscious merit, or of deserved reward.
  695. The foregoing observations contain a general summary of Mr Smith's
  696. principles with respect to the origin of our moral sentiments, in so far
  697. at least as they relate to the conduct of others. He acknowledges, at
  698. the same time, that the sentiments of which we are conscious, on
  699. particular occasions, do not always coincide with these principles; and
  700. that they are frequently modified by other considerations, very
  701. different from the propriety or impropriety of the affections of the
  702. agent, and also from the beneficial or hurtful tendency of these
  703. affections. The good or the bad consequences which accidently follow
  704. from an action, and which, as they do not depend on the agent, ought
  705. undoubtedly, in point of justice, to have no influence on our opinion,
  706. either of the propriety or the merit of his conduct, scarcely ever fail
  707. to influence considerably our judgment with respect to both; by leading
  708. us to form a good or a bad opinion of the prudence with which the action
  709. was performed, and by animating our sense of the merit or demerit of his
  710. design. These facts, however, do not furnish any objections which are
  711. peculiarly applicable to Mr Smith's theory; for whatever hypothesis we
  712. may adopt with respect to the origin of our moral perceptions, all men
  713. must acknowledge, that, in so far as the prosperous or the unprosperous
  714. event of an action depends on fortune or on accident, it ought neither
  715. to increase nor to diminish our moral approbation or disapprobation of
  716. the agent. And accordingly it has, in all ages of the world, been the
  717. complaint of moralists, that the actual sentiments of mankind should so
  718. often be in opposition to this equitable and indisputable maxim. In
  719. examining, therefore, this irregularity of our moral sentiments, Mr
  720. Smith is to be considered, not as obviating an objection peculiar to his
  721. own system, but as removing a difficulty which is equally connected with
  722. every theory on the subject which has ever been proposed. So far as I
  723. know, he is the first philosopher who has been fully aware of the
  724. importance of the difficulty, and he has indeed treated it with great
  725. ability and success. The explanation which he gives of it is not warped
  726. in the least by any peculiarity in his own scheme; and, I must own, it
  727. appears to me to be the most solid and valuable improvement he has made
  728. in this branch of science. It is impossible to give any abstract of it
  729. in a sketch of this kind; and therefore I must content myself with
  730. remarking, that it consists of three parts. The first explains the
  731. causes of this irregularity of sentiment; the second, the extent of its
  732. influence; and the third, the important purposes to which it is
  733. subservient. His remarks on the last of these heads are more
  734. particularly ingenious and pleasing; as their object is to shew, in
  735. opposition to what we should be disposed at first to apprehend, that
  736. when nature implanted the seeds of this irregularity in the human
  737. breast, her leading intention was, to promote the happiness and
  738. perfection of the species.
  740. The remaining part of Mr Smith's theory is employed in shewing, in what
  741. manner our sense of duty comes to be formed, in consequence of an
  742. application to ourselves of the judgments we have previously passed on
  743. the conduct of others.
  745. In entering upon this inquiry, which is undoubtedly the most important
  746. in the work, and for which the foregoing speculations are, according to
  747. Mr Smith's theory, a necessary preparation, he begins with stating the
  748. fact concerning our consciousness of merited praise or blame; and it
  749. must be owned, that the first aspect of the fact, as he himself states
  750. it, appears not very favourable to his principles. That the great object
  751. of a wise and virtuous man is not to act in such a manner as to obtain
  752. the actual approbation of those around him, but to act so as to render
  753. himself the just and proper object of their approbation, and that his
  754. satisfaction with his own conduct depends much more on the consciousness
  755. of deserving this approbation than from that of really enjoying it, he
  756. candidly acknowledges; but still he insists, that although this may
  757. seem, at first view, to intimate the existence of some moral faculty
  758. which is not borrowed from without, our moral sentiments have always
  759. some secret reference, either to what are, or to what upon a certain
  760. condition would be, or to what we imagine ought to be, the sentiments of
  761. others; and that if it were possible, that a human creature could grow
  762. up to manhood without any communication with his own species, he could
  763. no more think of his own character, or of the propriety or demerit of
  764. his own sentiments and conduct, than of the beauty or deformity of his
  765. own face. There is indeed a tribunal within the breast, which is the
  766. supreme arbiter of all our actions, and which often mortifies us amidst
  767. the applause, and supports us under the censure of the world; yet still,
  768. he contends, that if we inquire into the origin of its institution, we
  769. shall find, that its jurisdiction is, in a great measure, derived from
  770. the authority of that very tribunal whose decisions it so often and so
  771. justly reverses.
  773. When we first come into the world, we, for some time, fondly pursue the
  774. impossible project of gaining the good-will and approbation of
  775. everybody. We soon however find, that this universal approbation is
  776. unattainable; that the most equitable conduct must frequently thwart the
  777. interests or the inclinations of particular persons, who will seldom
  778. have candour enough to enter into the propriety of our motives, or to
  779. see that this conduct, how disagreeable soever to them, is perfectly
  780. suitable to our situation. In order to defend ourselves from such
  781. partial judgments, we soon learn to set up in our own minds, a judge
  782. between ourselves and those we live with. We conceive ourselves as
  783. acting in the presence of a person, who has no particular relation,
  784. either to ourselves, or to those whose interests are affected by our
  785. conduct; and we study to act in such a manner as to obtain the
  786. approbation of this supposed impartial spectator. It is only by
  787. consulting him that we can see whatever relates to ourselves in its
  788. proper shape and dimensions.
  790. There are two different occasions, on which we examine our own conduct,
  791. and endeavour to view it in the light in which the impartial spectator
  792. would view it. First, when we are about to act; and, secondly, after we
  793. have acted. In both cases, our views are very apt to be partial.
  795. When we are about to act, the eagerness of passion seldom allows us to
  796. consider what we are doing with the candour of an indifferent person.
  797. When the action is over, and the passions which prompted it have
  798. subsided, although we can undoubtedly enter into the sentiments of the
  799. indifferent spectator much more coolly than before, yet it is so
  800. disagreeable to us to think ill of ourselves, that we often purposely
  801. turn away our view from those circumstances which might render our
  802. judgment unfavourable. -- Hence that self-deceit which is the source of
  803. half the disorders of human life.
  805. In order to guard ourselves against its delusions, nature leads us to
  806. form insensibly, by our continual observations upon the conduct of
  807. others, certain general rules concerning what is fit and proper either
  808. to be done or avoided. Some of their actions shock all our natural
  809. sentiments; and when we observe other people affected in the same manner
  810. with ourselves, we are confirmed in the belief, that our disapprobation
  811. was just. We naturally therefore lay it down as a general rule, that all
  812. such actions are to be avoided, as tending to render us odious,
  813. contemptible, or punishable; and we endeavour, by habitual reflection,
  814. to fix this general rule in our minds, in order to correct the
  815. misrepresentations of self-love, if we should ever be called on to act
  816. in similar circumstances. The man of furious resentment, if he were to
  817. listen to the dictates of that passion, would perhaps regard the death
  818. of his enemy as but a small compensation for a trifling wrong. But his
  819. observations on the conduct of others have taught him how horrible such
  820. sanguinary revenges are; and he has impressed it on his mind as an
  821. invariable rule, to abstain from them upon all occasions. This rule
  822. preserves its authority with him, checks the impetuosity of his passion,
  823. and corrects the partial views which self-love suggests; although, if
  824. this had been the first time in which he considered such an action, he
  825. would undoubtedly have determined it to be just and proper, and what
  826. every impartial spectator would approve of. -- A regard to such general
  827. rules of morality constitutes, according to Mr Smith, what is properly
  828. called the sense of duty.
  830. I before hinted, that Mr Smith does not reject entirely from his system
  831. that principle of utility, of which the perception in any action or
  832. character constitutes, according to Mr Hume, the sentiment of moral
  833. approbation. That no qualities of the mind are approved of as virtues,
  834. but such as are useful or agreeable, either to the person himself or to
  835. others, he admits to be a proposition that holds universally; and he
  836. also admits, that the sentiment of approbation with which we regard
  837. virtue, is enlivened by the perception of this utility, or, as he
  838. explains the fact, it is enlivened by our sympathy with the happiness of
  839. those to whom the utility extends: But still he insists, that it is not
  840. the view of this utility which is either the first or principal source
  841. of moral approbation.
  843. To sum up the whole of his doctrine in a few words.
  845. > When we approve of any character or action, the sentiments which we
  846. > feel are derived from four different sources. First, we sympathize
  847. > with the motives of the agent; secondly, we enter into the gratitude
  848. > of those who receive the benefit of his actions; thirdly, we observe
  849. > that his conduct has been agreeable to the general rules by which
  850. > those two sympathies generally act; and, lastly, when we consider such
  851. > actions as making a part of a system of behaviour which tends to
  852. > promote the happiness either of the individual or of society, they
  853. > appear to derive a beauty from this utility, not unlike that which we
  854. > ascribe to any well-contrived machine.
  856. These different sentiments, he thinks, exhaust completely, in
  857. every instance that can be supposed, the compounded sentiment of moral
  858. approbation.
  860. > After deducting, (says he), in any one particular case, all that must
  861. > be acknowledged to proceed from some one or other of these four
  862. > principles, I should be glad to know what remains; and I shall freely
  863. > allow this overplus to be ascribed to a moral sense, or to any other
  864. > peculiar faculty, provided any body will ascertain precisely what this
  865. > overplus is.
  867. Mr Smith's opinion concerning the nature of virtue, is involved in his
  868. theory concerning the principle of moral approbation. The idea of
  869. virtue, he thinks, always implies the idea of propriety, or of the
  870. suitableness of the affection to the object which excites it; which
  871. suitableness, according to him, can be determined in no other way than
  872. by the sympathy of impartial spectators with the motives of the agent.
  873. But still he apprehends, that this description of virtue is incomplete;
  874. for although in every virtuous action propriety is an essential
  875. ingredient, it is not always the sole ingredient. Beneficent actions
  876. have in them another quality, by which they appear, not only to deserve
  877. approbation, but recompense, and excite a superior degree of esteem,
  878. arising from a double sympathy with the motives of the agent, and the
  879. gratitude of those who are the objects of his affection. In this
  880. respect, beneficence appears to him to be distinguished from the
  881. inferior virtues of prudence, vigilance, circumspection, temperance,
  882. constancy, firmness, which are always regarded with approbation, but
  883. which confer no merit. This distinction, he apprehends, has not been
  884. sufficiently attended to by moralists; the principles of some affording
  885. no explanation of the approbation we bestow on the inferior virtues; and
  886. those of others accounting as imperfectly for the peculiar excellency
  887. which the supreme virtue of beneficence is acknowledged to possess.[^9]
  889. Such are the outlines of Mr Smith's _Theory of Moral Sentiments_; a work
  890. which, whatever opinion we may entertain of the justness of its
  891. conclusions, must be allowed by all to be a singular effort of
  892. invention, ingenuity, and subtilty. For my own part I must confess, that
  893. it does not coincide with my notions concerning the foundation of
  894. Morals: but I am convinced, at the same time, that it contains a large
  895. mixture of important truth, and that, although the author has sometimes
  896. been misled by too great a desire of generalizing his principles, he has
  897. had the merit of directing the attention of philosophers to a view of
  898. human nature which had formerly in a great measure escaped their notice.
  899. Of the great proportion of just and sound reasoning which the theory
  900. involves its striking plausibility is a sufficient proof; for, as the
  901. author himself has remarked, no system in morals can well gain our
  902. assent, if it does not border, in some respects, upon the truth.
  904. > A system of natural philosophy (he observes) may appear very
  905. > plausible, and be for a long time very generally received in the
  906. > world, and yet have no foundation in nature; but the author who should
  907. > assign as the cause of any natural sentiment, some principle which
  908. > neither had any connection with it, nor resembled any other principle
  909. > which had some connection, would appear absurd and ridiculous to the
  910. > most injudicious and inexperienced reader.
  912. The merit, however, of Mr Smith's performance does not rest here. No
  913. work, undoubtedly, can be mentioned, ancient or modern, which exhibits
  914. so complete a view of those facts with respect to our moral perceptions,
  915. which it is one great object of this branch of science to refer to their
  916. general laws; and upon this account, it well deserves the careful study
  917. of all whose taste leads them to prosecute similar inquiries. These
  918. facts are indeed frequently expressed in a language which involves the
  919. author's peculiar theories: But they are always presented in the most
  920. happy and beautiful lights; and it is easy for an attentive reader, by
  921. stripping them of hypothetical terms, to state them to himself with that
  922. logical precision, which, in such very difficult disquisitions, can
  923. alone conduct us with certainty to the truth.
  925. It is proper to observe farther, that with the theoretical doctrines of
  926. the book, there are everywhere interwoven, with singular taste and
  927. address, the purest and most elevated maxims concerning the practical
  928. conduct of life; and that it abounds throughout with interesting and
  929. instructive delineations of characters and manners. A considerable part
  930. of it too is employed in collateral inquiries, which, upon every
  931. hypothesis that can be formed concerning the foundation of morals, are
  932. of equal importance. Of this kind is the speculation formerly mentioned,
  933. with respect to the influence of fortune on our moral sentiments, and
  934. another speculation, no less valuable, with respect to the influence of
  935. custom and fashion on the same part of our constitution.
  937. The style in which Mr Smith has conveyed the fundamental principles on
  938. which his theory rests, does not seem to me to be so perfectly suited to
  939. the subject as that which he employs on most other occasions. In
  940. communicating ideas which are extremely abstract and subtile, and about
  941. which it is hardly possible to reason correctly, without the scrupulous
  942. use of appropriated terms, he sometimes presents to us a choice of
  943. words, by no means strictly synonymous, so as to divert the attention
  944. from a precise and steady conception of his proposition: and a similar
  945. effect is, in other instances, produced by that diversity of forms
  946. which, in the course of his copious and seducing composition, the same
  947. truth insensibly assumes. When the subject of his work leads him to
  948. address the imagination and the heart, the variety and felicity of his
  949. illustrations; the richness and fluency of his eloquence; and the skill
  950. with which he wins the attention and commands the passions of his
  951. readers, leave him, among our English moralists, without a rival.
  953. ----
  955. _The Dissertation on the Origin of Languages_, which now forms a part of
  956. the same volume with the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, was, I believe,
  957. first annexed to the second edition of that work. It is an essay of
  958. great ingenuity, and on which the author himself set a high value; but,
  959. in a general review of his publications, it deserves our attention less,
  960. on account of the opinions it contains, than as a specimen of a
  961. particular sort of inquiry, which, so far as I know, is entirely of
  962. modern origin, and which seems, in a peculiar degree, to have interested
  963. Mr Smith's curiosity.[^10] Something very similar to it may be traced in
  964. all his different works, whether moral, political, or literary; and on
  965. all these subjects he has exemplified it with the happiest success.
  967. When, in such a period of society as that in which we live, we compare
  968. our intellectual acquirements, our opinions, manners, and institutions,
  969. with those which prevail among rude tribes, it cannot fail to occur to
  970. us as an interesting question, by what gradual steps the transition has
  971. been made from the first simple efforts of uncultivated nature, to a
  972. state of things so wonderfully artificial and complicated. Whence has
  973. arisen that systematical beauty which we admire in the structure of a
  974. cultivated language; that analogy which runs through the mixture of
  975. languages spoken by the most remote and unconnected nations; and those
  976. peculiarities by which they are all distinguished from each other?
  977. Whence the origin of the different sciences and of the different arts;
  978. and by what chain has the mind been led from their first rudiments to
  979. their last and most refined improvements? Whence the astonishing fabric
  980. of the political union; the fundamental principles which are common to
  981. all governments; and the different forms which civilized society has
  982. assumed in different ages of the world? On most of these subjects very
  983. little information is to be expected from history; for long before that
  984. stage of society when men begin to think of recording their
  985. transactions, many of the most important steps of their progress have
  986. been made. A few insulated facts may perhaps be collected from the
  987. casual observations of travellers, who have viewed the arrangements of
  988. rude nations; but nothing, it is evident, can be obtained in this way,
  989. which approaches to a regular and connected detail of human improvement.
  991. In this want of direct evidence, we are under a necessity of supplying
  992. the place of fact by conjecture; and when we are unable to ascertain how
  993. men have actually conducted themselves upon particular occasions, of
  994. considering in what manner they are likely to have proceeded, from the
  995. principles of their nature, and the circumstances of their external
  996. situation. In such inquiries, the detached facts which travels and
  997. voyages afford us, may frequently serve as land-marks to our
  998. speculations; and sometimes our conclusions a priori, may tend to
  999. confirm the credibility of facts, which, on a superficial view, appeared
  1000. to be doubtful or incredible.
  1002. Nor are such theoretical views of human affairs subservient merely to
  1003. the gratification of curiosity. In examining the history of mankind, as
  1004. well as in examining the phenomena of the material world, when we cannot
  1005. trace the process by which an event has been produced, it is often of
  1006. importance to be able to show how it may have been produced by natural
  1007. causes. Thus, in the instance which has suggested these remarks,
  1008. although it is impossible to determine with certainty what the steps
  1009. were by which any particular language was formed, yet if we can shew,
  1010. from the known principles of human nature, how all its various parts
  1011. might gradually have arisen, the mind is not only to a certain degree
  1012. satisfied, but a check is given to that indolent philosophy, which
  1013. refers to a miracle, whatever appearances, both in the natural and moral
  1014. worlds, it is unable to explain.
  1016. To this species of philosophical investigation, which has no
  1017. appropriated name in our language, I shall take the liberty of giving
  1018. the title of Theoretical or Conjectutal History; an expression which
  1019. coincides pretty nearly in its meaning with that of Natural History, as
  1020. employed by Mr Hume[^11] and with what some French writers have called
  1021. _Histoire Raisonnée_.
  1023. The mathematical sciences, both pure and mixed, afford, in many of their
  1024. branches, very favourable subjects for theoretical history; and a very
  1025. competent judge, the late M. d'Alembert, has recommended this
  1026. arrangement of their elementary principles, which is founded on the
  1027. natural succession of inventions and discoveries, as the best adapted
  1028. for interesting the curiosity and exercising the genius of students. The
  1029. same author points out as a model a passage in Montucla's _History of
  1030. Mathematics_, where an attempt is made to exhibit the gradual progress
  1031. of philosophical speculation, from the first conclusions suggested by a
  1032. general survey of the heavens, to the doctrines of Copernicus. It is
  1033. somewhat remarkable, that a theoretical history of this very science (in
  1034. which we have, perhaps, a better opportunity than in any other instance
  1035. whatever, of comparing the natural advances of the mind with the actual
  1036. succession of hypothetical systems) was one of Mr Smith's earliest
  1037. compositions, and is one of the very small number of his manuscripts
  1038. which he did not destroy before his death.
  1040. I already hinted, that inquiries perfectly analogous to these may be
  1041. applied to the modes of government, and to the municipal institutions
  1042. which have obtained among different nations. It is but lately, however,
  1043. that these important subjects have been considered in this point of
  1044. view; the greater part of politicians before the time of Montesquieu,
  1045. having contented themselves with an historical statement of facts, and
  1046. with a vague reference of laws to the wisdom of particular legislators,
  1047. or to accidental circumstances, which it is now impossible to ascertain.
  1048. Montesquieu, on the contrary, considered laws as originating chiefly
  1049. from the circumstances of society; and attempted to account, from the
  1050. changes in the condition of mankind, which take place in the different
  1051. stages of their progress, for the corresponding alterations which their
  1052. institutions undergo. It is thus that, in his occasional elucidations of
  1053. the Roman jurisprudence, instead of bewildering himself among the
  1054. erudition of scholiasts and of antiquaries, we frequently find him
  1055. borrowing his lights from the most remote and unconnected quarters of
  1056. the globe, and combining the casual observations of illiterate
  1057. travellers and navigators, into a philosophical commentary on the
  1058. history of law and of manners.
  1060. The advances made in this line of inquiry since Montesquieu's time have
  1061. been great. Lord Kames, in his _Historical Law Tracts_, has given some
  1062. excellent specimens of it, particularly in his _Essays on the History of
  1063. Property and of Criminal Law_, and many ingenious speculations of the
  1064. same kind occur in the works of Mr Millar.
  1066. In Mr Smith's writings, whatever be the nature of his subject, he seldom
  1067. misses an opportunity of indulging his curiosity, in tracing from the
  1068. principles of human nature, or from the circumstances of society, the
  1069. origin of the opinions and the institutions which he describes. I
  1070. formerly mentioned a fragment concerning _the History of Astronomy_
  1071. which he has left for publication; and I have heard him say more than
  1072. once, that he had projected, in the earlier part of his life, a history
  1073. of the other sciences on the same plan. In his _Wealth of Nations_,
  1074. various disquisitions are introduced which have a like object in view,
  1075. particularly the theoretical delineation he has given of the natural
  1076. progress of opulence in a country; and his investigation of the causes
  1077. which have inverted this order in the different countries of modern
  1078. Europe. His lectures on jurisprudence seem, from the account of them
  1079. formerly given, to have abounded in such inquiries.
  1081. I am informed by the same gentleman who favoured me with the account of
  1082. Mr Smith's lectures at Glasgow, that he had heard him sometimes hint an
  1083. intention of writing a treatise upon the Greek and Roman republics.
  1085. > And after all that has been published on that subject, I am convinced
  1086. > (says he), that the observations of Mr Smith would have suggested many
  1087. > new and important views concerning the internal and domestic
  1088. > circumstances of those nations, which would have displayed their
  1089. > several systems of policy, in a light much less artificial than that
  1090. > in which they have hitherto appeared.
  1092. The same turn of thinking was frequently, in his social hours, applied
  1093. to more familiar subjects; and the fanciful theories which, without the
  1094. least affectation of ingenuity, he was continually starting upon all the
  1095. common topics of discourse, gave to his conversation a novelty and
  1096. variety that were quite inexhaustible. Hence too the minuteness and
  1097. accuracy of his knowledge on many trifling articles, which, in the
  1098. course of his speculations, he had been led to consider from some new
  1099. and interesting point of view; and of which his lively and
  1100. circumstantial descriptions amused his friends the more, that he seemed
  1101. to be habitually inattentive, in so remarkable a degree, to what was
  1102. passing around him.
  1104. I have been led into these remarks by the _Dissertation on the Formation
  1105. of Languages_, which exhibits a very beautiful specimen of theoretical
  1106. history, applied to a subject equally curious and difficult. The analogy
  1107. between the train of thinking from which it has taken its rise, and that
  1108. which has suggested a variety of his other disquisitions, will, I hope,
  1109. be a sufficient apology for the length of this digression; more
  1110. particularly, as it will enable me to simplify the account which I am to
  1111. give afterwards, of his inquiries concerning political economy.
  1113. I shall only observe farther on this head, that when different
  1114. theoretical histories are proposed by different writers, of the progress
  1115. of the human mind in any one line of exertion, these theories are not
  1116. always to be understood as standing in opposition to each other. If the
  1117. progress delineated in all of them be plausible, it is possible at
  1118. least, that they may all have been realized; for human affairs never
  1119. exhibit, in any two instances, a perfect uniformity. But whether they
  1120. have been realized or no, is often a question of little consequence. In
  1121. most cases, it is of more importance to ascertain the progress that is
  1122. most simple, than the progress that is most agreeable to fact; for,
  1123. paradoxical as the proposition may appear, it is certainly true, that
  1124. the real progress is not always the most natural. It may have been
  1125. determined by particular accidents, which are not likely again to occur,
  1126. and which cannot be considered as forming any part of that general
  1127. provision which nature has made for the improvement of the race.
  1129. ----
  1131. In order to make some amends for the length (I am afraid I may add for
  1132. the tediousness) of this section, I shall subjoin to it an original
  1133. letter of Mr Hume's addressed to Mr Smith, soon after the publication of
  1134. his _Theory_. It is strongly marked with that easy and affectionate
  1135. pleasantry which distinguished Mr Hume's epistolary correspondence, and
  1136. is entitled to a place in this Memoir, on account of its connection with
  1137. an important event of Mr Smith's life, which soon after removed him into
  1138. a new scene, and influenced, to a considerable degree, the subsequent
  1139. course of his studies. The letter is dated from London, 12th April 1759.
  1141. > I give you thanks for the agreeable present of your _Theory_.
  1142. > Wedderburn and I made presents of our copies to such of our
  1143. > acquaintances as we thought good judges, and proper to spread the
  1144. > reputation of the book. I sent one to the Duke of Argyll, to Lord
  1145. > Lyttleton, Horace Walpole, Soame Jennyns, and Burke, an Irish
  1146. > gentleman, who wrote lately a very pretty treatise on the Sublime.
  1147. > Millar desired my permission to send one in your name to Dr Warburton.
  1148. > I have delayed writing to you till I could tell you something of the
  1149. > success of the book, and could prognosticate with some probability,
  1150. > whether it should be finally damned to oblivion, or should be
  1151. > registered in the temple of immortality. Though it has been published
  1152. > only a few weeks, I think there appear already such strong symptoms,
  1153. > that I can almost venture to foretel its fate. It is in short this
  1154. > ---------
  1156. > But I have been interrupted in my letter by a foolish impertinent
  1157. > visit of one who has lately come from Scotland. He tells me that the
  1158. > University of Glasgow intend to declare Rouet's office vacant, upon
  1159. > his going abroad with Lord Hope. I question not but you will have our
  1160. > friend Ferguson in your eye, in case another project for procuring him
  1161. > a place in the University of Edinburgh should fail. Ferguson has very
  1162. > much polished and improved his treatise on Refinement[^12] and with
  1163. > some amendments it will make an admirable book, and discovers an
  1164. > elegant and a singular genius. The Epigoniad, I hope, will do; but it
  1165. > is somewhat up-hill work. As I doubt not but you consult the reviews
  1166. > sometimes at present, you will see in the Critical Review a letter
  1167. > upon that poem; and I desire you to employ your conjectures in finding
  1168. > out the author. Let me see a sample of your skill in knowing hands by
  1169. > your guessing at the person. I am afraid of Lord Kames's _Law Tracts_.
  1170. > A man might as well think of making a fine sauce by a mixture of
  1171. > wormwood and aloes, as an agreeable composition by joining metaphysics
  1172. > and Scotch law. However, the book, I believe, has merit; though few
  1173. > people will take the pains of diving into it. But, to return to your
  1174. > book, and its success in this town, I must tell you ---------.
  1176. > A plague of interruptions! I ordered myself to be denied; and yet here
  1177. > is one that has broke in upon me again. He is a man of letters, and we
  1178. > have had a good deal of literary conversation. You told me that you
  1179. > was curious of literary anecdotes, and therefore I shall inform you of
  1180. > a few that have come to my knowledge. I believe I have mentioned to
  1181. > you already Helvetius's book _de l'Esprit_. It is worth your reading,
  1182. > not for its philosophy, which I do not highly value, but for its
  1183. > agreeable composition. I had a letter from him a few days ago, wherein
  1184. > he tells me that my name was much oftener in the manuscript, but that
  1185. > the Censor of books at Paris obliged him to strike it out. Voltaire
  1186. > has lately published a small work called _Candide, ou l'Optimisme_. I
  1187. > shall give you a detail of it --------
  1189. > But what is all this to my book? say you. --
  1191. > My dear Mr Smith, have patience: Compose yourself to tranquillity:
  1192. > Shew yourself a philosopher in practice as well as profession: Think
  1193. > on the emptiness, and rashness, and futility of the common judgments
  1194. > of men: How little they are regulated by reason in any subject, much
  1195. > more in philosophical subjects, which so far exceed the comprehension
  1196. > of the vulgar.
  1198. > > Non si quid turbida Roma,
  1199. > > Elevet, accedas: examenve improbum in illa
  1200. > > Castiges trutina: nec te quaesiveris extra.
  1202. > A wise man's kingdom is his own breast; or, if he ever looks farther,
  1203. > it will only be to the judgment of a select few, who are free from
  1204. > prejudices, and capable of examining his work. Nothing indeed can be a
  1205. > stronger presumption of falsehood than the approbation of the
  1206. > multitude; and Phocion, you know, always suspected himself of some
  1207. > blunder, when he was attended with the applauses of the populace.
  1209. > Supposing, therefore, that you have duly prepared yourself for the
  1210. > worst by all these reflections, I proceed to tell you the melancholy
  1211. > news, that your book has been very unfortunate; for the public seem
  1212. > disposed to applaud it extremely. It was looked for by the foolish
  1213. > people with some impatience; and the mob of literati are beginning
  1214. > already to be very loud in its praises. Three Bishops called
  1215. > yesterday at Millar's shop in order to buy copies, and to ask
  1216. > questions about the author. The Bishop of Peterborough said he had
  1217. > passed the evening in a company where he heard it extolled above all
  1218. > books in the world. The Duke of Argyll is more decisive than he uses
  1219. > to be in its favour. I suppose he either considers it as an exotic, or
  1220. > thinks the author will be serviceable to him in the Glasgow elections.
  1221. > Lord Lyttleton says, that Robertson and Smith and Bowver are the
  1222. > glories of English literature. Oswald protests he does not know
  1223. > whether he has reaped more instruction or entertainment from it. But
  1224. > you may easily judge what reliance can be put on his judgment who has
  1225. > been engaged all his life in public business, and who never sees any
  1226. > faults in his friends. Millar exults and brags that two-thirds of the
  1227. > edition are already sold, and that he is now sure of success. You see
  1228. > what a son of the earth that is, to value books only by the profit
  1229. > they bring him. In that view, I believe it may prove a very good book.
  1231. > Charles Townsend, who passes for the cleverest fellow in England, is
  1232. > so taken with the performance, that he said to Oswald he would put the
  1233. > Duke of Buccleuch under the author's care, and would make it worth his
  1234. > while to accept of that charge. As soon as I heard this I called on
  1235. > him twice, with a view of talking with him about the matter, and of
  1236. > convincing him of the propriety of sending that young Nobleman to
  1237. > Glasgow: For I could not hope, that he could offer you any terms which
  1238. > would tempt you to renounce your Professorship. But I missed him. Mr
  1239. > Townsend passes for being a little uncertain in his resolutions: so
  1240. > perhaps you need not build much on this sally.
  1242. > In recompence for so many mortifying things, which nothing but truth
  1243. > could have extorted from me, and which I could easily have multiplied
  1244. > to a greater number, I doubt not but you are so good a Christian as to
  1245. > return good for evil; and to flatter my vanity by telling me, that all
  1246. > the godly in Scotland abuse me for my account of John Knox and the
  1247. > Reformation. I suppose you are glad to see my paper end, and that I am
  1248. > obliged to conclude with
  1250. > Your humble servant,
  1252. > DAVID HUME.
  1256. ## Section III: From the Publication of _the Theory of Moral Sentiments_, til that of _the Wealth of Nations_
  1258. After the publication of the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, Mr Smith
  1259. remained four years at Glasgow, discharging his official duties with
  1260. unabated vigour, and with increasing reputation. During that time, the
  1261. plan of his lectures underwent a considerable change. His ethical
  1262. doctrines, of which he had now published so valuable a part, occupied a
  1263. much smaller portion of the course than formerly: and accordingly, his
  1264. attention was naturally directed to a more complete illustration of the
  1265. principles of jurisprudence and of political economy.
  1267. To this last subject, his thoughts appear to have been occasionally
  1268. turned from a very early period of life. It is probable, that the
  1269. uninterrupted friendship he had always maintained with his old companion
  1270. Mr Oswald, had some tendency to encourage him in prosecuting this branch
  1271. of his studies; and the publication of Mr Hume's political discourses,
  1272. in the year 1752, could not fail to confirm him in those liberal views
  1273. of commercial policy which had already opened to him in the course of
  1274. his own inquiries. His long residence in one of the most enlightened
  1275. mercantile towns in this island, and the habits of intimacy in which he
  1276. lived with the most respectable of its inhabitants, afforded him an
  1277. opportunity of deriving what commercial information he stood in need of,
  1278. from the best sources; and it is a circumstance no less honourable to
  1279. their liberality than to his talents, that notwithstanding the
  1280. reluctance so common among men of business to listen to the conclusions
  1281. of mere speculation, and the direct opposition of his leading principles
  1282. to all the old maxims of trade, he was able, before he quitted his
  1283. situation in the university, to rank some very eminent merchants in the
  1284. number of his proselytes.[^13]
  1286. Among the students who attended his lectures, and whose minds were not
  1287. previously warped by prejudice, the progress of his opinions, it may be
  1288. reasonably supposed, was much more rapid. It was this class of his
  1289. friends accordingly that first adopted his system with eagerness, and
  1290. diffused a knowledge of its fundamental principles over this part of the
  1291. kingdom.
  1293. Towards the end of 1763, Mr Smith received an invitation from Mr Charles
  1294. Townsend to accompany the Duke of Buccleuch on his travels; and the
  1295. liberal terms in which the proposal was made to him, added to the strong
  1296. desire he had felt of visiting the Continent of Europe, induced him to
  1297. resign his office at Glasgow. With the connection which he was led to
  1298. form in consequence of this change in his situation, he had reason to be
  1299. satisfied in an uncommon degree, and he always spoke of it with pleasure
  1300. and gratitude. To the public, it was not perhaps a change equally
  1301. fortunate; as it interrupted that studious leisure for which nature
  1302. seems to have destined him, and in which alone he could have hoped to
  1303. accomplish those literary projects which had flattered the ambition of
  1304. his youthful genius.
  1306. The alteration, however, which, from this period, took place in his
  1307. habits, was not without its advantages. He had hitherto lived chiefly
  1308. within the walls of an university; and although to a mind like his, the
  1309. observation of human nature on the smallest scale is sufficient to
  1310. convey a tolerably just conception of what passes on the great theatre
  1311. of the world, yet it is not to be doubted, that the variety of scenes
  1312. through which he afterwards passed, must have enriched his mind with
  1313. many new ideas, and corrected many of those misapprehensions of life and
  1314. manners which the best descriptions of them can scarcely fail to convey.
  1315. -- But whatever were the lights that his travels afforded to him as a
  1316. student of human nature, they were probably useful in a still greater
  1317. degree, in enabling him to perfect that system of political economy, of
  1318. which he had already delivered the principles in his lectures at
  1319. Glasgow, and which it was now the leading object of his studies to
  1320. prepare for the public. The coincidence between some of these principles
  1321. and the distinguishing tenets of the French economists, who were at that
  1322. very time in the height of their reputation, and the intimacy in which
  1323. he lived with some of the leaders of that sect, could not fail to assist
  1324. him in methodizing and digesting his speculations; while the valuable
  1325. collection of facts, accumulated by the zealous industry of their
  1326. numerous adherents, furnished him with ample materials for illustrating
  1327. and confirming his theoretical conclusions.
  1329. After leaving Glasgow, Mr Smith joined the Duke of Buccleuch at London
  1330. early in the year 1764, and set out with him for the continent in the
  1331. month of March following. At Dover they were met by Sir James Macdonald,
  1332. who accompanied them to Paris, and with whom Mr Smith laid the
  1333. foundation of a friendship, which he always mentioned with great
  1334. sensibility, and of which he often lamented the short duration. The
  1335. panegyrics with which the memory of this accomplished and amiable person
  1336. has been honoured by so many distinguished characters in the different
  1337. countries of Europe, are a proof how well fitted his talents were to
  1338. command general admiration. The esteem in which his abilities and
  1339. learning were held by Mr Smith, is a testimony to his extraordinary
  1340. merit of still superior value. Mr Hume, too, seems, in this instance, to
  1341. have partaken of his friend's enthusiasm.
  1343. > Were you and I together (says he in a letter to Mr Smith), we should
  1344. > shed tears at present for the death of poor Sir James Macdonald. We
  1345. > could not possibly have suffered a greater loss than in that valuable
  1346. > young man.
  1348. In this first visit to Paris, the Duke of Buccleuch and Mr Smith
  1349. employed only ten or twelve days,[^14] after which they proceeded to
  1350. Thoulouse, where they fixed their residence for eighteen months; and
  1351. where, in addition to the pleasure of an agreeable society, Mr Smith had
  1352. an opportunity of correcting and extending his information concerning
  1353. the internal policy of France, by the intimacy in which he lived with
  1354. some of the principal persons of the Parliament.
  1356. From Thoulouse they went, by a pretty extensive tour, through the south
  1357. of France to Geneva. Here they passed two months. The late Earl
  1358. Stanhope, for whose learning and worth Mr Smith entertained a sincere
  1359. respect, was then an inhabitant of that republic.
  1361. About Christmas 1765, they returned to Paris, and remained there till
  1362. October following. The society in which Mr Smith spent these ten months,
  1363. may be conceived from the advantages he enjoyed, in consequence of the
  1364. recommendations of Mr Hume. Turgot, Quesnai, Morellet,[^15] Necker,
  1365. d'Alembert, Helvetius, Marmontel, Madame Riccoboni, were among the
  1366. number of his acquaintances; and some of them he continued ever
  1367. afterwards to reckon among his friends. From Madam d'Anville, the
  1368. respectable mother of the late excellent and much lamented Duke of la
  1369. Rochefoucauld,[^16] he received many attentions, which he always
  1370. recollected with particular gratitude.
  1372. It is much to be regretted, that he preserved no journal of this very
  1373. interesting period of his history; and such was his aversion to write
  1374. letters, that I scarcely suppose any memorial of it exists in his
  1375. correspondence with his friends. The extent and accuracy of his memory,
  1376. in which he was equalled by few, made it of little consequence to
  1377. himself to record in writing what he heard or saw; and from his anxiety
  1378. before his death to destroy all the papers in his possession, he seems
  1379. to have wished, that no materials should remain for his biographers, but
  1380. what were furnished by the lasting monuments of his genius,and the
  1381. exemplary worth of his private life.
  1383. The satisfaction he enjoyed in the conversation of Turgot may be easily
  1384. imagined. Their opinions on the most essential points of political
  1385. economy were the same; and they were both animated by the same zeal for
  1386. the best interests of mankind. The favourite studies, too, of both, had
  1387. directed their inquiries to subjects on which the understandings of the
  1388. ablest and the best informed are liable to be warped, to a great degree,
  1389. by prejudice and passion; and on which, of consequence, a coincidence of
  1390. judgment is peculiarly gratifying. We are told by one of the biographers
  1391. of Turgot, that after his retreat from the ministry, he occupied his
  1392. leisure in a philosophical correspondence with some of his old friends;
  1393. and, in particular, that various letters on important subjects passed
  1394. between him and Mr Smith. I take notice of this anecdote chiefly as a
  1395. proof of the intimacy which was understood to have subsisted between
  1396. them; for in other respects, the anecdote seems to me to be somewhat
  1397. doubtful. It is scarcely to be supposed, that Mr Smith would destroy the
  1398. letters of such a correspondent as Turgot; and still less probable, that
  1399. such an intercourse was carried on between them without the knowledge of
  1400. any of Mr Smith's friends. From some inquiries that have been made at
  1401. Paris by a gentleman of this Society since Mr Smith's death, I have
  1402. reason to believe, that no evidence of the correspondence exists among
  1403. the papers of M. Turgot, and that the whole story has taken its rise
  1404. from a report suggested by the knowledge of their former intimacy. This
  1405. circumstance I think it of importance to mention, because a good deal of
  1406. curiosity has been excited by the passage in question, with respect to
  1407. the fate of the supposed letters.
  1409. Mr Smith was also well known to M. Quesnai, the profound and original
  1410. author of the _Economical Table_; a man (according to Mr Smith's account
  1411. of him) "of the greatest modesty and simplicity;" and whose system of
  1412. political economy he has pronounced, "with all its imperfections," to be
  1413. "the nearest approximation to the truth that has yet been published on
  1414. the principles of that very important science." If he had not been
  1415. prevented by Quesnai's death, Mr Smith had once an intention (as he told
  1416. me himself) to have inscribed to him his _Wealth of Nations_.
  1418. It was not, however, merely the distinguished men who about this period
  1419. fixed so splendid an area in the literary history of France, that
  1420. excited Mr Smith's curiosity while he remained in Paris. His
  1421. acquaintance with the polite literature both of ancient and modern times
  1422. was extensive; and amidst his various other occupations, he had never
  1423. neglected to cultivate a taste for the fine arts; -- less, it is
  1424. probable, with a view to the peculiar enjoyments they convey, (though he
  1425. was by no means without sensibility to their beauties,) than on account
  1426. of their connection with the general principles of the human mind; to an
  1427. examination of which they afford the most pleasing of all avenues. To
  1428. those who speculate on this very delicate subject, a comparison of the
  1429. modes of taste that prevail among different nations, affords a valuable
  1430. collection of facts; and Mr Smith, who was always disposed to ascribe to
  1431. custom and fashion their full share in regulating the opinions of
  1432. mankind with respect to beauty, may naturally be supposed to have
  1433. availed himself of every opportunity which a foreign country afforded
  1434. him of illustrating his former theories.
  1436. Some of his peculiar notions, too, with respect to the imitative arts,
  1437. seem to have been much confirmed by his observations while abroad. In
  1438. accounting for the pleasure we receive from these arts, it had early
  1439. occurred to him as a fundamental principle, that a very great part of it
  1440. arises from the difficulty of the imitation; a principle which was
  1441. probably suggested to him by that of the _difficulté surmontée_, by
  1442. which some French critics had attempted to explain the effect of
  1443. versification and of rhyme[^17] This principle Mr Smith pushed to the
  1444. greatest possible length, and referred to it, with singular ingenuity, a
  1445. great variety of phenomena in all the different fine arts. It led him,
  1446. however, to some conclusions, which appear, at first view at least, not
  1447. a little paradoxical; and I cannot help thinking, that it warped his
  1448. judgment in many of the opinions which he was accustomed to give on the
  1449. subject of poetry.
  1451. The principles of dramatic composition had more particularly attracted
  1452. his attention; and the history of the theatre, both in ancient and
  1453. modern times, had furnished him with some of the most remarkable facts
  1454. on which his theory of the imitative arts was founded. From this theory
  1455. it seemed to follow as a consequence, that the same circumstances which,
  1456. in tragedy, give to blank verse an advantage over prose, should give to
  1457. rhyme an advantage over blank verse; and Mr Smith had always inclined to
  1458. that opinion. Nay, he had gone so far as to extend the same doctrine to
  1459. comedy; and to regret that those excellent pictures of life and manners
  1460. which the English stage affords, had not been executed after the model
  1461. of the French school. The admiration with which he regarded the great
  1462. dramatic authors of France tended to confirm him in these opinions; and
  1463. this admiration (resulting originally from the general character of his
  1464. taste, which delighted more to remark that pliancy of genius which
  1465. accommodates itself to established rules, than to wonder at the bolder
  1466. flights of an undisciplined imagination) was increased to a great
  1467. degree, when he saw the beauties that had struck him in the closet,
  1468. heightened by the utmost perfection of theatrical exhibition. In the
  1469. last years of his life, he sometimes amused himself, at a leisure hour,
  1470. in supporting his theoretical conclusions on these subjects, by the
  1471. facts which his subsequent studies and observations had suggested; and
  1472. he intended, if he had lived, to have prepared the result of these
  1473. labours for the press. Of this work he has left for publication a short
  1474. fragment; but he had not proceeded far enough to apply his doctrine to
  1475. versification and to the theatre. As his notions, however, with respect
  1476. to these were a favourite topic of his conversation, and were intimately
  1477. connected with his general principles of criticism, it would have been
  1478. improper to pass them over in this sketch of his life; and I even
  1479. thought it proper to detail them at greater length than the comparative
  1480. importance of the subject would have justified, if he had carried his
  1481. plans into execution. Whether his love of system, added to his
  1482. partiality for the French drama, may not have led him, in this instance,
  1483. to generalize a little too much his conclusions, and to overlook some
  1484. peculiarities in the language and versification of that country, I shall
  1485. not take upon me to determine.
  1487. In October 1766, the Duke of Buccleuch returned to London. His Grace,
  1488. to whom I am indebted for several particulars in the foregoing
  1489. narrative, will, I hope, forgive the liberty I take in transcribing one
  1490. paragraph in his own words:
  1492. > In October 1766, we returned to London, after having spent near three
  1493. > years together, without the slightest disagreement or coolness;- on my
  1494. > part, with every advantage that could be expected from the society of
  1495. > such a man. We continued to live in friendship till the hour of his
  1496. > death; and I shall always remain with the impression of having lost a
  1497. > friend whom I loved and respected, not only for his great talents, but
  1498. > for every private virtue.
  1500. The retirement in which Mr Smith passed his next ten years, formed a
  1501. striking contrast to the unsettled mode of life he had been for some
  1502. time accustomed to, but was so congenial to his natural disposition, and
  1503. to his first habits, that it was with the utmost difficulty he was ever
  1504. persuaded to leave it. During the whole of this period, (with the
  1505. exception of a few visits to Edinburgh and London,) he remained with his
  1506. mother at Kirkaldy; occupied habitually in intense study, but unbending
  1507. his mind at times in the company of some of his old school-fellows,
  1508. whose "sober wishes" had attached them to the place of their birth. In
  1509. the society of such men, Mr Smith delighted; and to them he was
  1510. endeared, not only by his simple and unassuming manners, but by the
  1511. perfect knowledge they all possessed of those domestic virtues which had
  1512. distinguished him from his infancy.
  1514. Mr Hume, who (as he tells us himself) considered "a town as the true
  1515. scene for a man of letters," made many attempts to seduce him from his
  1516. retirement. In a letter, dated in 1772, he urges him to pass some time
  1517. with him in Edinburgh.
  1519. > I shall not take any excuse from your state of health, which I suppose
  1520. > only a subterfuge invented by indolence and love of solitude. Indeed,
  1521. > my dear Smith, if you continue to hearken to complaints of this
  1522. > nature, you will cut yourself out entirely from human society, to the
  1523. > great loss of both parties.
  1525. In another letter, dated in 1769, from his house in James's Court,
  1526. (which commanded a prospect of the Frith of Forth, and of the opposite
  1527. coast of Fife,)
  1529. > I am glad (says he) to have come within sight of you; but as I would
  1530. > also be within speaking terms of you, I wish we could concert measures
  1531. > for that purpose. I am mortally sick at sea, and regard with horror
  1532. > and a kind of hydrophobia the great gulf that lies between us. I am
  1533. > also tired of travelling, as much as you ought naturally to be of
  1534. > staying at home. I therefore propose to you to come hither, and pass
  1535. > some days with me in this solitude. I want to know what you have been
  1536. > doing, and propose to exact a rigorous account of the method in which
  1537. > you have employed yourself during your retreat. I am positive you are
  1538. > in the wrong in many of your speculations, especially where you have
  1539. > the misfortune to differ from me. All these are reasons for our
  1540. > meeting, and I wish you would make me some reasonable proposal for
  1541. > that purpose. There is no habitation in the island of Inchkeith,
  1542. > otherwise I should challenge you to meet me on that spot, and neither
  1543. > of us ever to leave the place, till we were fully agreed on all points
  1544. > of controversy. I expect General Conway here tomorrow, whom I shall
  1545. > attend to Roseneath, and I shall remain there a few days. On my
  1546. > return, I hope to find a letter from you, containing a bold acceptance
  1547. > of this defiance.
  1549. At length (in the beginning of the year 1776) Mr Smith accounted to the
  1550. world for his long retreat, by the publication of his _Inquiry into the
  1551. Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations_. A letter of congratulation
  1552. on this event, from Mr Hume, is now before me. It is dated 1st April
  1553. 1776 (about six months before Mr Hume's death), and discovers an amiable
  1554. solicitude about his friend's literary fame.
  1556. > Euge! Belle! Dear Mr Smith: I am much pleased with your performance,
  1557. > and the perusal of it has taken me from a state of great anxiety. It
  1558. > was a work of so much expectation, by yourself, by your friends, and
  1559. > by the public, that I trembled for its appearance; but am now much
  1560. > relieved. Not but that the reading of it necessarily requires so much
  1561. > attention, and the public is disposed to give so little, that I shall
  1562. > still doubt for some time of its being at first very popular. But it
  1563. > has depth and solidity and acuteness, and is so much illustrated by
  1564. > curious facts, that it must at last take the public attention. It is
  1565. > probably much improved by your last abode in London. If you were here
  1566. > at my fire-side, I should dispute some of your
  1567. > principles.................. But these, and a hundred other points,
  1568. > are fit only to be discussed in conversation. I hope it will be soon;
  1569. > for I am in a very bad state of health, and cannot afford a long
  1570. > delay.
  1572. Of a book which is now so universally known as _The Wealth of Nations_,
  1573. it might be considered perhaps as superfluous to give a particular
  1574. analysis; and, at any rate, the limits of this essay make it impossible
  1575. for me to attempt it at present. A few remarks, however, on the object
  1576. and tendency of the work, may, I hope, be introduced without
  1577. impropriety. The history of a philosopher's life can contain little more
  1578. than the history of his speculations; and in the case of such an author
  1579. as Mr Smith, whose studies were systematically directed from his youth
  1580. to subjects of the last importance to human happiness, a review of his
  1581. writings, while it serves to illustrate the peculiarities of his genius,
  1582. affords the most faithful picture of his character as a man.
  1586. ## Section IV: Of _the Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations_[^18]
  1588. An historical view of the different forms under which human affairs have
  1589. appeared in different ages and nations, naturally suggests the question,
  1590. Whether the experience of former times may not now furnish some general
  1591. principles to enlighten and direct the policy of future legislators? The
  1592. discussion, however, to which this question leads, is of singular
  1593. difficulty: as it requires an accurate analysis of by far the most
  1594. complicated class of phenomena that can possibly engage our attention,
  1595. those which result from the intricate and often the imperceptible
  1596. mechanism of political society; -- a subject of observation which seems,
  1597. at first view, so little commensurate to our faculties, that it has been
  1598. generally regarded with the same passive emotions of wonder and
  1599. submission, with which, in the material world, we survey the effects
  1600. produced by the mysterious and uncontroulable operation of physical
  1601. causes. It is fortunate that upon this, as upon many other occasions,
  1602. the difficulties which had long baffled the efforts of solitary genius
  1603. begin to appear less formidable to the united exertions of the race; and
  1604. that in proportion as the experience and the reasonings of different
  1605. individuals are brought to bear upon the same objects, and are combined
  1606. in such a manner as to illustrate and to limit each other, the science
  1607. of politics assumes more and more that systematical form which
  1608. encourages and aids the labours of future inquirers.
  1610. In prosecuting the science of politics on this plan, little assistance
  1611. is to be derived from the speculations of ancient philosophers, the
  1612. greater part of whom, in their political inquiries, confined their
  1613. attention to a comparison of the different forms of government, and to
  1614. an examination of the provisions they made for perpetuating their own
  1615. existence, and for extending the glory of the state. It was reserved for
  1616. modern times to investigate those universal principles of justice and of
  1617. expediency, which ought, under every form of government, to regulate the
  1618. social order; and of which the object is, to make as equitable a
  1619. distribution as possible, among all the different members of a
  1620. community, of the advantages arising from the political union.
  1622. The invention of printing was perhaps necessary to prepare the way for
  1623. these researches. In those departments of literature and of science,
  1624. where genius finds within itself the materials of its labours; in
  1625. poetry, in pure geometry, and in some branches of moral philosophy; the
  1626. ancients have not only laid the foundations on which we are to build,
  1627. but have left great and finished models for our imitation. But in
  1628. physics, where our progress depends on an immense collection of facts,
  1629. and on a combination of the accidental lights daily struck out in the
  1630. innumerable walks of observation and experiment; and in politics, where
  1631. the materials of our theories are equally scattered, and are collected
  1632. and arranged with still greater difficulty, the means of communication
  1633. afforded by the press have, in the course of two centuries, accelerated
  1634. the progress of the human mind, far beyond what the most sanguine hopes
  1635. of our predecessors could have imagined.
  1637. The progress already made in this science, inconsiderable as it is in
  1638. comparison of what may be yet expected, has been sufficient to shew,
  1639. that the happiness of mankind depends, not on the share which the people
  1640. possesses, directly or indirectly, in the enactment of laws, but on the
  1641. equity and expediency of the laws that are enacted. The share which the
  1642. people possesses in the government is interesting chiefly to the small
  1643. number of men whose object is the attainment of political importance;
  1644. but the equity and expediency of the laws are interesting to every
  1645. member of the community: and more especially to those whose personal
  1646. insignificance leaves them no encouragement, but what they derive from
  1647. the general spirit of the government under which they live.
  1649. It is evident, therefore, that the most important branch of political
  1650. science is that which has for its object to ascertain the philosophical
  1651. principles of jurisprudence; or (as Mr Smith expresses it) to ascertain
  1652. "the general principles which ought to run through and be the foundation
  1653. of the laws of all nations."[^19] In countries where the prejudices of
  1654. the people are widely at variance with these principles, the political
  1655. liberty which the constitution bestows, only furnishes them with the
  1656. means of accomplishing their own ruin: And if it were possible to
  1657. suppose these principles completely realized in any system of laws, the
  1658. people would have little reason to complain, that they were not
  1659. immediately instrumental in their enactment. The only infallible
  1660. criterion of the excellence of any constitution is to be found in the
  1661. detail of its municipal code; and the value which wise men set on
  1662. political freedom, arises chiefly from the facility it is supposed to
  1663. afford, for the introduction of those legislative improvements which the
  1664. general interests of the community recommend; combined with the security
  1665. it provides in the light and spirit of the people, for the pure and
  1666. equal administration of justice. -- I cannot help adding, that the
  1667. capacity of a people to exercise political rights with utility to
  1668. themselves and to their country, presupposes a diffusion of knowledge
  1669. and of good morals, which can only result from the previous operation of
  1670. laws favourable to industry, to order, and to freedom.
  1672. Of the truth of these remarks, enlightened politicians seem now to be in
  1673. general convinced; for the most celebrated works which have been
  1674. produced in the different countries of Europe, during the last thirty
  1675. years, by Smith, Quesnai, Turgot, Campomanes, Beccaria, and others, have
  1676. aimed at the improvement of society, -- not by delineating plans of new
  1677. constitutions, but by enlightening the policy of actual legislators.
  1678. Such speculations, while they are more essentially and more extensively
  1679. useful than any others, have no tendency to unhinge established
  1680. institutions, or to inflame the passions of the multitude. The
  1681. improvements they recommend are to be effected by means too gradual and
  1682. slow in their operation, to warm the imaginations of any but of the
  1683. speculative few; and in proportion as they are adopted, they consolidate
  1684. the political fabric, and enlarge the basis upon which it rests.
  1686. To direct the policy of nations with respect to one most important class
  1687. of its laws, those which form its system of political economy, is the
  1688. great aim of Mr Smith's _Inquiry_. And he has unquestionably had the merit
  1689. of presenting to the world, the most comprehensive and perfect work that
  1690. has yet appeared, on the general principles of any branch of
  1691. legislation. The example which he has set will be followed, it is to be
  1692. hoped, in due time, by other writers, for whom the internal policy of
  1693. states furnishes many other subjects of discussion no less curious and
  1694. interesting; and may accelerate the progress of that science which Lord
  1695. Bacon has so well described in the following passage:
  1697. > Finis et scopus quem leges intueri, atque ad quem jussiones et
  1698. > sanctiones suas dirigere debent, non alius est, quam ut cives
  1699. > feliciter degant; id fiet, si pietate et religione recte instituti;
  1700. > moribus honesti; armis adversus hostes externos tuti; legum auxilio
  1701. > adversus seditiones et privatas injurias muniti; imperio et
  1702. > magistratibus obsequentes; copiis et opibus locupletes et florentes
  1703. > fuerint. -- Certe cognitio ista ad viros civiles proprie spectat; qui
  1704. > optime nôrunt, quid ferat societas humana, quid salus populi, quid
  1705. > aequitas naturalis, quid gentium mores, quid rerumpublicarum formae
  1706. > diversae: ideoque possint de legibus, ex principiis et praeceptis tam
  1707. > aequitatis naturalis, quam politices decernere. Quamobrem id nunc
  1708. > agatur, ut fontes justitiae et utilitatis publicae petantur, et in
  1709. > singulis juris partibus character quidam et idea justi exhibeatur, ad
  1710. > quam particularium regnorum et rerumpublicarum leges probare, atque
  1711. > inde emendationem moliri, quisque, cui hoc cordi erit et curae,
  1712. > possit.
  1714. The enumeration contained in the foregoing passage, of the different
  1715. objects of law, coincides very nearly with that given by Mr Smith in the
  1716. conclusion of his _Theory of Moral Sentiments_; and the precise aim of
  1717. the political speculations which he then announced, and of which he
  1718. afterwards published so valuable a part in his _Wealth of Nations_, was
  1719. to ascertain the general principles of justice and of expediency, which
  1720. ought to guide the institutions of legislators on these important
  1721. articles; -- in the words of Lord Bacon, to ascertain those _leges
  1722. legum_, "ex quibus informatio peti possit, quid in singulis legibus bene
  1723. aut perperam positum aut constitutum sit."
  1725. The branch of legislation which Mr Smith has made choice of as the
  1726. subject of his work, naturally leads me to remark a very striking
  1727. contrast between the spirit of ancient and of modern policy in respect
  1728. to the _Wealth of Nations_.[^20] The great object of the former was to
  1729. counteract the love of money and a taste for luxury, by positive
  1730. institutions; and to maintain in the great body of the people, habits of
  1731. frugality, and a severity of manners. The decline of states is uniformly
  1732. ascribed by the philosophers and historians, both of Greece and Rome, to
  1733. the influence of riches on national character; and the laws of Lycurgus,
  1734. which, during a course of ages, banished the precious metals from
  1735. Sparta, are proposed by many of them as the most perfect model of
  1736. legislation devised by human wisdom. -- How opposite to this is the
  1737. doctrine of modern politicians! Far from considering poverty as an
  1738. advantage to a state, their great aim is to open new sources of national
  1739. opulence, and to animate the activity of all classes of the people, by a
  1740. taste for the comforts and accommodations of life.
  1742. One principal cause of this difference between the spirit of ancient and
  1743. of modern policy, may be found in the difference between the sources of
  1744. national wealth in ancient and in modern times. In ages when commerce
  1745. and manufactures were yet in their infancy, and among states constituted
  1746. like most of the ancient republics, a sudden influx of riches from
  1747. abroad was justly dreaded as an evil, alarming to the morals, to the
  1748. industry, and to the freedom of a people. So different, however, is the
  1749. case at present, that the most wealthy nations are those where the
  1750. people are the most laborious, and where they enjoy the greatest degree
  1751. of liberty. Nay, it was the general diffusion of wealth among the lower
  1752. orders of men, which first gave birth to the spirit of independence in
  1753. modern Europe, and which has produced under some of its governments, and
  1754. especially under our own, a more equal diffusion of freedom and of
  1755. happiness than took place under the most celebrated constitutions of
  1756. antiquity.
  1758. Without this diffusion of wealth among the lower orders, the important
  1759. effects resulting from the invention of printing would have been
  1760. extremely limited; for a certain degree of ease and independence is
  1761. necessary to inspire men with the desire of knowledge, and to afford
  1762. them the leisure which is requisite for acquiring it; and it is only by
  1763. the rewards which such a state of society holds up to industry and
  1764. ambition, that the selfish passions of the multitude can be interested
  1765. in the intellectual improvement of their children. The extensive
  1766. propagation of light and refinement arising from the influence of the
  1767. press, aided by the spirit of commerce, seems to be the remedy provided
  1768. by nature, against the fatal effects which would otherwise by produced,
  1769. by the subdivision of labour accompanying the progress of the mechanical
  1770. arts: Nor is any thing wanting to make the remedy effectual, but wise
  1771. institutions to facilitate general instruction, and to adapt the
  1772. education of individuals to the stations they are to occupy. The mind of
  1773. the artist, which, from the limited sphere of his activity, would sink
  1774. below the level of the peasant or the savage, might receive in infancy
  1775. the means of intellectual enjoyment, and the seeds of moral improvement;
  1776. and even the insipid uniformity of his professional engagements, by
  1777. presenting no object to awaken his ingenuity or to distract his
  1778. attention, might leave him at liberty to employ his faculties, on
  1779. subjects more interesting to himself, and more extensively useful to
  1780. others.
  1782. These effects, notwithstanding a variety of opposing causes which still
  1783. exist, have already resulted, in a very sensible degree, from the
  1784. liberal policy of modern times. Mr Hume, in his _Essay on Commerce_,
  1785. after taking notice of the numerous armies raised and maintained by the
  1786. small republics in the ancient world, ascribes the military power of
  1787. these states to their want of commerce and luxury. "Few artisans were
  1788. maintained by the labour of the farmers, and therefore more soldiers
  1789. might live upon it." He adds, however, that "the policy of ancient times
  1790. was VIOLENT, and contrary to the NATURAL course of things;" -- by which,
  1791. I presume, he means, that it aimed too much at modifying, by the force
  1792. of positive institutions, the order of society, according to some
  1793. preconceived idea of expediency; without trusting sufficiently to those
  1794. principles of the human constitution, which, wherever they are allowed
  1795. free scope, not only conduct mankind to happiness, but lay the
  1796. foundation of a progressive improvement in their condition and in their
  1797. character. The advantages which modern policy possesses over the
  1798. ancient, arise principally from its conformity, in some of the most
  1799. important articles of political economy, to an order of things
  1800. recommended by nature; and it would not be difficult to shew, that,
  1801. where it remains imperfect, its errors may be traced to the restraints
  1802. it imposes on the natural course of human affairs. Indeed, in these
  1803. restraints may be discovered the latent seeds of many of the prejudices
  1804. and follies which infect modern manners, and which have so long bid
  1805. defiance to the reasonings of the philosopher and the ridicule of the
  1806. satirist.
  1808. The foregoing very imperfect hints appeared to me to form, not only a
  1809. proper, but in some measure a necessary introduction to the few remarks
  1810. I have to offer on Mr Smith's _Inquiry_; as they tend to illustrate a
  1811. connection between his system of commercial politics, and those
  1812. speculations of his earlier years, in which he aimed more professedly at
  1813. the advancement of human improvement and happiness. It is this view of
  1814. political economy that can alone render it interesting to the moralist,
  1815. and can dignify calculations of profit and loss in the eye of the
  1816. philosopher. Mr Smith has alluded to it in various passages of his work,
  1817. but he has nowhere explained himself fully on the subject; and the great
  1818. stress he has laid on the effects of the division of labour in
  1819. increasing its productive powers, seems, at first sight, to point to a
  1820. different and very melancholy conclusion; that the same causes which
  1821. promote the progress of the arts, tend to degrade the mind of the
  1822. artist; and, of consequence, that the growth of national wealth implies
  1823. a sacrifice of the character of the people.
  1825. The fundamental doctrines of Mr Smith's system are now so generally
  1826. known, that it would have been tedious to offer any recapitulation of
  1827. them in this place; even if I could have hoped to do justice to the
  1828. subject, within the limits which I have prescribed to myself at
  1829. present.[^21] I shall content myself, therefore, with remarking, in
  1830. general terms, that the great and leading object of his speculations is,
  1831. to illustrate the provision made by nature in the principles of the
  1832. human mind, and in the circumstances of man's external situation, for a
  1833. gradual and progressive augmentation in the means of national wealth;
  1834. and to demonstrate, that the most effectual plan for advancing a people
  1835. to greatness, is to maintain that order of things which nature has
  1836. pointed out; by allowing every man, as long as he observes the rules of
  1837. justice, to pursue his own interest in his own way, and to bring both
  1838. his industry and his capital into the freest competition with those of
  1839. his fellow-citizens. Every system of policy which endeavours, either by
  1840. extraordinary encouragements to draw towards a particular species of
  1841. industry a greater share of the capital of the society than what would
  1842. naturally go to it, or, by extraordinary restraints, to force from a
  1843. particular species of industry some share of the capital which would
  1844. otherwise be employed in it, is, in reality, subversive of the great
  1845. purpose which it means to promote.
  1847. What the circumstances are, which, in modern Europe, have contributed to
  1848. disturb this order of nature, and, in particular, to encourage the
  1849. industry of towns, at the expence of that of the country, Mr Smith has
  1850. investigated with great ingenuity; and in such a manner, as to throw
  1851. much new light on the history of that state of society which prevails in
  1852. this quarter of the globe. His observations on this subject tend to
  1853. shew, that these circumstances were, in their first origin, the natural
  1854. and the unavoidable result of the peculiar situation of mankind during a
  1855. certain period; and that they took their rise, not from any general
  1856. scheme of policy, but from the private interests and prejudices of
  1857. particular orders of men.
  1859. The state of society, however, which at first arose from a singular
  1860. combination of accidents, has been prolonged much beyond its natural
  1861. period, by a false system of political economy, propagated by merchants
  1862. and manufacturers; a class of individuals, whose interest is not always
  1863. the same with that of the public, and whose professional knowledge gave
  1864. them many advantages, more particularly in the infancy of this branch of
  1865. science, in defending those opinions which they wished to encourage. By
  1866. means of this system, a new set of obstacles to the progress of national
  1867. prosperity has been created. Those which arose from the disorders of the
  1868. feudal ages, tended directly to disturb the internal arrangements of
  1869. society, by obstructing the free circulation of labour and of stock,
  1870. from employment to employment, and from place to place. The false system
  1871. of political economy which has been hitherto prevalent, as its professed
  1872. object has been to regulate the commercial intercourse between different
  1873. nations, has produced its effect in a way less direct and less manifest,
  1874. but equally prejudicial to the states that have adopted it.
  1876. On this system, as it took its rise from the prejudices, or rather from
  1877. the interested views of mercantile speculators, Mr Smith bestows the
  1878. title of the Commercial or Mercantile System; and he has considered at
  1879. great length its two principal expedients for enriching a nation;
  1880. restraints upon importation, and encouragements to exportation. Part of
  1881. these expedients, he observes, have been dictated by the spirit of
  1882. monopoly, and part by a spirit of jealousy against those countries with
  1883. which the balance of trade is supposed to be disadvantageous. All of
  1884. them appear clearly, from his reasonings, to have a tendency
  1885. unfavourable to the wealth of the nation which imposes them. His remarks
  1886. with respect to the jealousy of commerce are expressed in a tone of
  1887. indignation, which he seldom assumes in his political writings.
  1889. > In this manner (says he) the sneaking arts of underling tradesmen are
  1890. > erected into political maxims for the conduct of a great empire. By
  1891. > such maxims as these, nations have been taught that their interest
  1892. > consisted in beggaring all their neighbours. Each nation has been
  1893. > made to look with an invidious eye upon the prosperity of all the
  1894. > nations with which it trades, and to consider their gain as its own
  1895. > loss. Commerce, which ought naturally to be among nations as among
  1896. > individuals, a bond of union and friendship, has become the most
  1897. > fertile source of discord and animosity. The capricious ambition of
  1898. > Kings and Ministers. has not, during the present and the preceding
  1899. > century, been more fatal to the repose of Europe, than the impertinent
  1900. > jealousy of merchants and manufacturers. The violence and injustice of
  1901. > the rulers of mankind is an ancient evil, for which perhaps the nature
  1902. > of human affairs can scarce admit of a remedy. But the mean rapacity,
  1903. > the monopolizing spirit of merchants and manufacturers, who neither
  1904. > are nor ought to be the rulers of mankind, though it cannot perhaps be
  1905. > corrected, may very easily be prevented from disturbing the
  1906. > tranquillity of any body but themselves.
  1908. Such are the liberal principles which, according to Mr Smith, ought to
  1909. direct the commercial policy of nations; and of which it ought to be the
  1910. great object of legislators to facilitate the establishment. In what
  1911. manner the execution of the theory should be conducted in particular
  1912. instances, is a question of a very different nature, and to which the
  1913. answer must vary, in different countries, according to the different
  1914. circumstances of the case. In a speculative work, such as Mr Smith's,
  1915. the consideration of this question did not fall properly under his
  1916. general plan; but that he was abundantly aware of the danger to be
  1917. apprehended from a rash application of political theories, appears not
  1918. only from the general strain of his writings, but from some incidental
  1919. observations which he has expressly made upon the subject.
  1921. > So unfortunate (says he, in one passage) are the effects of all the
  1922. > regulations of the mercantile system, that they not only introduce
  1923. > very dangerous disorders into the state of the body politic, but
  1924. > disorders which it is often difficult to remedy, without occasioning,
  1925. > for a time at least, still greater disorders. -- In what manner,
  1926. > therefore, the natural system of perfect liberty and justice ought
  1927. > gradually to be restored, we must leave to the wisdom of future
  1928. > statesmen and legislators to determine.
  1930. In the last edition of his _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, he has
  1931. introduced some remarks, which have an obvious reference to the same
  1932. important doctrine. The following passage seems to refer more
  1933. particularly to those derangements of the social order which derived
  1934. their origin from the feudal institutions:
  1936. > The man whose public spirit is prompted altogether by humanity and
  1937. > benevolence, will respect the established powers and privileges even
  1938. > of individuals, and still more of the great orders and societies into
  1939. > which the state is divided. Though he should consider some of them as
  1940. > in some measure abusive, he will content himself with moderating, what
  1941. > he often cannot annihilate without great violence. When he cannot
  1942. > conquer the rooted prejudices of the people by reason and persuasion,
  1943. > he will not attempt to subdue them by force; but will religiously
  1944. > observe what, by Cicero, is justly called the divine maxim of Plato,
  1945. > never to use violence to his country no more than to his parents. He
  1946. > will accommodate, as well as he can, his public arrangements to the
  1947. > confirmed habits and prejudices of the people; and will remedy, as
  1948. > well as he can, the inconveniencies which may flow from the want of
  1949. > those regulations which the people are averse to submit to. When he
  1950. > cannot establish the right, he will not disdain to ameliorate the
  1951. > wrong; but, like Solon, when he cannot establish the best system of
  1952. > laws, he will endeavour to establish the best that the people can
  1953. > bear.
  1955. These cautions with respect to the practical application of general
  1956. principles were peculiarly necessary from the Author of _The Wealth of
  1957. Nations_; as the unlimited freedom of trade, which it is the chief aim
  1958. of his work to recommend, is extremely apt, by flattering the indolence
  1959. of the statesman, to suggest to those who are invested with absolute
  1960. power, the idea of carrying it into immediate execution.
  1962. > Nothing is more adverse to the tranquillity of a statesman (says the
  1963. > author of an _Eloge on the Administration of Colbert_) than a spirit
  1964. > of moderation; because it condemns him to perpetual observation, shews
  1965. > him every moment the insufficiency of his wisdom, and leaves him the
  1966. > melancholy sense of his own imperfection; while, under the shelter of
  1967. > a few general principles, a systematical politician enjoys a perpetual
  1968. > calm. By the help of one alone, that of a perfect liberty of trade, he
  1969. > would govern the world, and would leave human affairs to arrange
  1970. > themselves at pleasure, under the operation of the prejudices and the
  1971. > self-interests of individuals. If these run counter to each other, he
  1972. > gives himself no anxiety about the consequence; he insists that the
  1973. > result cannot be judged of till after a century or two shall have
  1974. > elapsed. If his contemporaries, in consequence of the disorder into
  1975. > which he has thrown public affairs, are scrupulous about submitting
  1976. > quietly to the experiment, he accuses them of impatience. They alone,
  1977. > and not he, are to blame for what they have suffered; and the
  1978. > principle continues to be inculcated with the same zeal and the same
  1979. > confidence as before.
  1981. These are the words of the ingenious and eloquent author of the _Eloge on
  1982. Colbert_, which obtained the prize from the French Academy in the year
  1983. 1763; a performance which, although confined and erroneous in its
  1984. speculative views, abounds with just and important reflections of a
  1985. practical nature. How far his remarks apply to that particular class of
  1986. politicians whom he had evidently in his eye in the foregoing passage, I
  1987. shall not presume to decide.
  1989. It is hardly necessary for me to add to these observations, that they do
  1990. not detract in the least from the value of those political theories
  1991. which attempt to delineate the principles of a perfect legislation. Such
  1992. theories (as I have elsewhere observed[^22] ought to be considered
  1993. merely as descriptions of the ultimate objects at which the statesman
  1994. ought to aim. The tranquillity of his administration, and the immediate
  1995. success of his measures, depend on his good sense and his practical
  1996. skill; and his theoretical principles only enable him to direct his
  1997. measures steadily and wisely, to promote the improvement and happiness
  1998. of mankind, and prevent him from being ever led astray from these
  1999. important ends, by more limited views of temporary expedience. "In all
  2000. cases (says Mr Hume) it must be advantageous to know what is most
  2001. perfect in the kind, that we may be able to bring any real constitution
  2002. or form of government as near it as possible, by such gentle alterations
  2003. and innovations as may not give too great disturbance to society."
  2005. The limits of this Memoir make it impossible for me to examine
  2006. particularly the merit of Mr Smith's work in point of originality. That
  2007. his doctrine concerning the freedom of trade and of industry coincides
  2008. remarkably with that which we find in the writings of the French
  2009. Economists, appears from the slight view of their system which he
  2010. himself has given. But it surely cannot be pretended by the warmest
  2011. admirers of that system, that any one of its numerous expositors has
  2012. approached to. Mr Smith in the precision and perspicuity with which he
  2013. has stated it, or in the scientific and luminous manner in which he has
  2014. deduced it from elementary principles. The awkwardness of their
  2015. technical language, and the paradoxical form in which they have chosen
  2016. to present some of their opinions, are acknowledged even by those who
  2017. are most willing to do justice to their merits; whereas it may be
  2018. doubted, with respect to Mr Smith's _Inquiry_, if there exists any book
  2019. beyond the circle of the mathematical and physical sciences, which is at
  2020. once so agreeable in its arrangement to the rules of a sound logic, and
  2021. so accessible to the examination of ordinary readers. Abstracting
  2022. entirely from the author's peculiar and original speculations, I do not
  2023. know that, upon any subject whatever, a work has been produced in our
  2024. times, containing so methodical, so comprehensive, and so judicious a
  2025. digest of all the most profound and enlightened philosophy of the
  2026. age.[^23]
  2028. In justice also to Mr Smith, it must be observed, that although some of
  2029. the economical writers had the start of him in publishing their
  2030. doctrines to the world, these doctrines appear, with respect to him, to
  2031. have been altogether original, and the result of his own reflections. Of
  2032. this, I think, every person must be convinced, who reads the _Inquiry_
  2033. with due attention, and is at pains to examine the gradual and beautiful
  2034. progress of the author's ideas: But in case any doubt should remain on
  2035. this head, it may be proper to mention, that Mr Smith's political
  2036. lectures, comprehending the fundamental principles of his _Inquiry_, were
  2037. delivered at Glasgow as early as the year 1752 or 1753; at a period,
  2038. surely, when there existed no French performance on the subject, that
  2039. could be of much use to him in guiding his researches.[^24] In the year
  2040. 1756, indeed, M. Turgot (who is said to have imbibed his first notions
  2041. concerning the unlimited freedom of commerce from an old merchant, M.
  2042. Gournay), published in the _Encyclopédie_, an article which sufficiently
  2043. shews how completely his mind was emancipated from the old prejudices in
  2044. favour of commercial regulations: But that even then, these opinions
  2045. were confined to a few speculative men in France, appears from a passage
  2046. in the _Mémoires Sur la Vie et les Ouvrages de M. Turgot_; in which,
  2047. after a short quotation from the article just mentioned, the author
  2048. adds: "These ideas were then considered as paradoxical; they are since
  2049. become common, and they will one day be adopted universally."
  2051. The _Political Discourses_ of Mr Hume were evidently of greater use to
  2052. Mr Smith, than any other book that had appeared prior to his lectures.
  2053. Even Mr Hume's theories, however, though always plausible and ingenious,
  2054. and in most instances profound and just, involve some fundamental
  2055. mistakes; and, when compared with Mr Smith's, afford a striking proof,
  2056. that, in considering a subject so extensive and so complicated, the most
  2057. penetrating sagacity, if directed only to particular questions, is apt
  2058. to be led astray by first appearances; and that nothing can guard us
  2059. effectually against error, but a comprehensive survey of the whole field
  2060. of discussion, assisted by an accurate and patient analysis of the ideas
  2061. about which our reasonings are employed. -- It may be worth while to
  2062. add, that Mr. Hume's Essay _on the Jealousy of Trade,_ with some other
  2063. of his _Political Discourses_, received a very flattering proof of M.
  2064. Turgot's approbation, by his undertaking the task of translating them
  2065. into the French language.[^25]
  2067. I am aware that the evidence I have hitherto produced of Mr Smith's
  2068. originality may be objected to as not perfectly decisive, as it rests
  2069. entirely on the recollection of those students who attended his first
  2070. courses of moral philosophy at Glasgow; a recollection which, at the
  2071. distance of forty years, cannot be supposed to be very accurate. There
  2072. exists, however, fortunately, a short manuscript drawn up by Mr Smith in
  2073. the year 1755, and presented by him to a society of which he was then a
  2074. member; in which paper, a pretty long enumeration is given of certain
  2075. leading principles, both political and literary, to which he was anxious
  2076. to establish his exclusive right; in order to prevent the possibility of
  2077. some rival claims which he thought he had reason to apprehend, and to
  2078. which his situation as a Professor, added to his unreserved
  2079. communications in private companies, rendered him peculiarly liable.
  2080. This paper is at present in my possession. It is expressed with a good
  2081. deal of that honest and indignant warmth, which is perhaps unavoidable
  2082. by a man who is conscious of the purity of his own intentions, when he
  2083. suspects that advantages have been taken of the frankness of his temper.
  2084. On such occasions, due allowances are not always made for those
  2085. plagiarisms, which, however cruel in their effects, do not necessarily
  2086. imply bad faith in those who are guilty of them; for the bulk of
  2087. mankind, incapable themselves of original thought, are perfectly unable
  2088. to form a conception of the nature of the injury done to a man of
  2089. inventive genius, by encroaching on a favourite speculation. For reasons
  2090. known to some members of this Society, it would be improper, by the
  2091. publication of this manuscript, to revive the memory of private
  2092. differences; and I should not have even alluded to it, if I did not
  2093. think it a valuable document of the progress of Mr Smith's political
  2094. ideas at a very early period. Many of the most important opinions in _The
  2095. Wealth of Nations_ are there detailed; but I shall quote only the
  2096. following sentences:
  2098. > Man is generally considered by statesmen and projectors as the
  2099. > materials of a sort of political mechanics. Projectors disturb nature
  2100. > in the course of her operations in human affairs; and it requires no
  2101. > more than to let her alone, and give her fair play in the pursuit of
  2102. > her ends, that she may establish her own designs.
  2104. And in another passage:
  2106. > Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of
  2107. > opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a
  2108. > tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about
  2109. > by the natural course of things. All governments which thwart this
  2110. > natural course, which force things into another channel, or which
  2111. > endeavour to arrest the progress of society at a particular point, are
  2112. > unnatural, and to support themselves are obliged to be oppressive and
  2113. > tyrannical. -- A great part of the opinions (he observes) enumerated
  2114. > in this paper is treated of at length in some lectures which I have
  2115. > still by me, and which were written in the hand of a clerk who left my
  2116. > service six years ago. They have all of them been the constant
  2117. > subjects of my lectures since I first taught Mr Craigie's class, the
  2118. > first winter I spent in Glasgow, down to this day, without any
  2119. > considerable variation. They had all of them been the subjects of
  2120. > lectures which I read at Edinburgh the winter before I left it, and I
  2121. > can adduce innumerable witnesses, both from that place and from this,
  2122. > who will ascertain them sufficiently to be mine.
  2124. After all, perhaps the merit of such a work as Mr Smith's is to be
  2125. estimated less from the novelty of the principles it contains, than from
  2126. the reasonings employed to support these principles, and from the
  2127. scientific manner in which they are unfolded in their proper order and
  2128. connection. General assertions with respect to the advantages of a free
  2129. commerce, may be collected from various writers of an early date. But in
  2130. questions of so complicated a nature as occur in political economy, the
  2131. credit of such opinions belongs of right to the author who first
  2132. established their solidity, and followed them out to their remote
  2133. consequences; not to him who, by a fortunate accident, first stumbled on
  2134. the truth.
  2136. Besides the principles which Mr Smith considered as more peculiarly his
  2137. own, his _Inquiry_ exhibits a systematical view of the most important
  2138. articles of political economy, so as to serve the purpose of an
  2139. elementary treatise on that very extensive and difficult science. The
  2140. skill and the comprehensiveness of mind displayed in his arrangement,
  2141. can be judged of by those alone who have compared it with that adopted
  2142. by his immediate predecessors. And perhaps, in point of utility, the
  2143. labour he has employed in connecting and methodizing their scattered
  2144. ideas, is not less valuable than the results of his own original
  2145. speculations: For it is only when digested in a clear and natural order,
  2146. that truths make their proper impression on the mind, and that erroneous
  2147. opinions can be combated with success.
  2149. It does not belong to my present undertaking (even if I were qualified
  2150. for such a task) to attempt a separation of the solid and important
  2151. doctrines of Mr Smith's book from those opinions which appear
  2152. exceptionable or doubtful. I acknowledge, that there are some of his
  2153. conclusions to which I would not be understood to subscribe implicitly;
  2154. more particularly in that chapter, where he treats of the principles of
  2155. taxation; -- a subject, which he has certainly examined in a manner more
  2156. loose and unsatisfactory than most of the others which have fallen under
  2157. his review.[^26]
  2159. It would be improper for me to conclude this section without taking
  2160. notice of the manly and dignified freedom with which the author
  2161. uniformly delivers his opinions, and of the superiority which he
  2162. discovers throughout, to all the little passions connected with the
  2163. factions of the times in which he wrote. Whoever takes the trouble to
  2164. compare the general tone of his composition with the period of its first
  2165. publication, cannot fail to feel and acknowledge the force of this
  2166. remark. -- It is not often that a disinterested zeal for truth has so
  2167. soon met with its just reward. Philosophers (to use an expression of
  2168. Lord Bacon's) are "the servants of posterity;" and most of those who
  2169. have devoted their talents to the best interests of mankind, have been
  2170. obliged, like Bacon, to "bequeath their fame" to a race yet unborn, and
  2171. to console themselves with the idea of sowing what another generation
  2172. was to reap:
  2174. > Insere Daphni pyros, carpent tua poma nepotes.
  2176. Mr Smith was more fortunate; or rather, in this respect, his fortune was
  2177. singular. He survived the publication of his work only fifteen years;
  2178. and yet, during that short period, he had not only the satisfaction of
  2179. seeing the opposition it at first excited, gradually subside, but to
  2180. witness the practical influence of his writings on the commercial policy
  2181. of his country.
  2184. ## Section V: Conclusion of the Narrative
  2186. About two years after the publication of _The Wealth of Nations_, Mr
  2187. Smith was appointed one of the Commissioners of his Majesty's Customs in
  2188. Scotland; a preferment which, in his estimation, derived an additional
  2189. value from its being bestowed on him at the request of the Duke of
  2190. Buccleuch. The greater part of these two years he passed in London,
  2191. enjoying a society too extensive and varied to afford him any
  2192. opportunity of indulging his taste for study. His time, however, was not
  2193. lost to himself; for much of it was spent with some of the first names
  2194. in English literature. Of these no unfavourable specimen is preserved by
  2195. Dr Barnard, in his well-known "Verses addressed to Sir Joshua Reynolds
  2196. and his friends."
  2198. > If I have thoughts, and can't express 'em,
  2199. > Gibbon shall teach me how to dress 'em
  2200. > In words select and terse:
  2201. > Jones teach me modesty and Greek,
  2202. > Smith how to think, Burke how to speak,
  2203. > And Beauclerc to converse.[^27]
  2205. In consequence of Mr Smith's appointment to the Board of Customs, he
  2206. removed, in 1778, to Edinburgh, where he spent the last twelve years of
  2207. his life; enjoying an affluence which was more than equal to all his
  2208. wants; and, what was to him of still greater value, the prospect of
  2209. passing the remainder of his days among the companions of his youth.
  2211. His mother, who, though now in extreme old age, still possessed a
  2212. considerable degree of health, and retained all her faculties
  2213. unimpaired, accompanied him to town; and his cousin Miss Jane Douglas,
  2214. (who had formerly been a member of his family at Glasgow, and for whom
  2215. he had always felt the affection of a brother) while she divided with
  2216. him those tender attentions which her aunt's infirmities required,
  2217. relieved him of a charge for which he was peculiarly ill qualified, by
  2218. her friendly superintendence of his domestic economy.
  2220. The accession to his income which his new office brought him, enabled
  2221. him to gratify, to a much greater extent than his former circumstances
  2222. admitted of, the natural generosity of his disposition; and the state of
  2223. his funds at the time of his death, compared with his very moderate
  2224. establishment, confirmed, beyond a doubt, what his intimate
  2225. acquaintances had often suspected, that a large proportion of his annual
  2226. savings was allotted to offices of secret charity. A small, but
  2227. excellent library, which he had gradually formed with great judgment in
  2228. the selection; and a simple, though hospitable table, where, without the
  2229. formality of an invitation, he was always happy to receive his friends,
  2230. were the only expences that could be considered as his own.[^28]
  2232. The change in his habits which his removal to Edinburgh produced, was
  2233. not equally favourable to his literary pursuits. The duties of his
  2234. office, though they required but little exertion of thought, were yet
  2235. sufficient to waste his spirits and to dissipate his attention; and now
  2236. that his career is closed, it is impossible to reflect on the time they
  2237. consumed, without lamenting, that it had not been employed in labours
  2238. more profitable to the world, and more equal to his mind. During the
  2239. first years of his residence in this city, his studies seemed to be
  2240. entirely suspended; and his passion for letters served only to amuse his
  2241. leisure, and to animate his conversation. The infirmities of age, of
  2242. which he very early began to feel the approaches, reminded him at last,
  2243. when it was too late, of what he yet owed to the public, and to his own
  2244. fame. The principal materials of the works which he had announced, had
  2245. been long ago collected; and little probably was wanting, but a few
  2246. years of health and retirement, to bestow on them that systematical
  2247. arrangement in which he delighted; and the ornaments of that flowing,
  2248. and apparently artless style, which he had studiously cultivated, but
  2249. which, after all his experience in composition, he adjusted, with
  2250. extreme difficulty, to his own taste.[^29]
  2252. The death of his mother in 1784, which was followed by that of Miss
  2253. Douglas in 1788, contributed, it is probable, to frustrate these
  2254. projects. They had been the objects of his affection for more than sixty
  2255. years; and in their society he had enjoyed, from his infancy, all that
  2256. he ever knew of the endearments of a family.[^30] He was now alone, and
  2257. helpless; and, though he bore his loss with equanimity, and regained
  2258. apparently his former cheerfulness, yet his health and strength
  2259. gradually declined till the period of his death, which happened in July
  2260. 1790, about two years after that of his cousin, and six after that of
  2261. his mother. His last illness, which arose from a chronic obstruction in
  2262. his bowels, was lingering and painful; but had every consolation to
  2263. sooth it which he could derive from the tenderest sympathy of his
  2264. friends, and from the complete resignation of his own mind.
  2266. A few days before his death, finding his end approach rapidly, he gave
  2267. orders to destroy all his manuscripts, excepting some detached essays,
  2268. which he entrusted to the care of his executors; and they were
  2269. accordingly committed to the flames. What were the particular contents
  2270. of these papers, is not known even to his most intimate friends; but
  2271. there can be no doubt that they consisted, in part, of the lectures on
  2272. rhetoric, which he read at Edinburgh in the year 1748, and of the
  2273. lectures on natural religion and on jurisprudence, which formed part of
  2274. his course at Glasgow. That this irreparable injury to letters
  2275. proceeded, in some degree, from an excessive solicitude in the author
  2276. about his posthumous reputation, may perhaps be true; but with respect
  2277. to some of his manuscripts, may we not suppose, that he was influenced
  2278. by higher motives? It is but seldom that a philosopher, who has been
  2279. occupied from his youth with moral or with political inquiries, succeeds
  2280. completely to his wish in stating to others, the grounds upon which his
  2281. own opinions are founded; and hence it is, that the known principles of
  2282. an individual, who has approved to the public his candour, his
  2283. liberality, and his judgment, are entitled to a weight and an authority,
  2284. independent of the evidence which he is able, upon any particular
  2285. occasion, to produce in their support. A secret consciousness of this
  2286. circumstance, and an apprehension that, by not doing justice to an
  2287. important argument, the progress of truth may be rather retarded than
  2288. advanced, have probably induced many authors to withhold from the world
  2289. the unfinished results of their most valuable labours; and to content
  2290. themselves with giving the general sanction of their suffrages to truths
  2291. which they regarded as peculiarly interesting to the human race.[^31]
  2293. The additions to the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, most of which were
  2294. composed under severe disease, had fortunately been sent to the press in
  2295. the beginning of the preceding winter; and the author lived to see the
  2296. publication of the work. The moral and serious strain that prevails
  2297. through these additions, when connected with the circumstance of his
  2298. declining health, adds a peculiar charm to his pathetic eloquence, and
  2299. communicates a new interest, if possible, to those sublime truths,
  2300. which, in the academical retirement of his youth, awakened the first
  2301. ardours of his genius, and on which the last efforts of his mind
  2302. reposed.
  2304. In a letter addressed, in the year 1787, to the Principal of the
  2305. University of Glasgow, in consequence of being elected Rector of that
  2306. learned body, a pleasing memorial remains of the satisfaction with which
  2307. he always recollected that period of his literary career, which had been
  2308. more peculiarly consecrated to these important studies.
  2310. > No preferment (says he) could have given me so much real
  2311. > satisfaction. No man can owe greater obligations to a society than I
  2312. > do to the University of Glasgow. They educated me; they sent me to
  2313. > Oxford. Soon after my return to Scotland, they elected me one of their
  2314. > own members; and afterwards preferred me to another office, to which
  2315. > the abilities and virtues of the never to be forgotten Dr Hutcheson
  2316. > had given a superior degree of illustration. The period of thirteen
  2317. > years which I spent as a member of that society, I remember as by far
  2318. > the most useful, and therefore as by far the happiest and most
  2319. > honourable period of my life; and now, after three and twenty years
  2320. > absence, to be remembered in so very agreeable a manner by my old
  2321. > friends and protectors, gives me a heart-felt joy which I cannot
  2322. > easily express to you.
  2324. The short narrative which I have now finished, however barren of
  2325. incident, may convey a general idea of the genius and character of this
  2326. illustrious Man. Of the intellectual gifts and attainments by which he
  2327. was so eminently distinguished; -- of the originality and
  2328. comprehensiveness of his views; the extent, the variety, and the
  2329. correctness of his information; the inexhaustible fertility of his
  2330. invention; and the ornaments which his rich and beautiful imagination
  2331. had borrowed from classical culture; -- he has left behind him lasting
  2332. monuments. To his private worth the most certain of all testimonies may
  2333. be found in that confidence, respect, and attachment, which followed him
  2334. through all the various relations of life. The serenity and gaiety he
  2335. enjoyed, under the pressure of his growing infirmities, and the warm
  2336. interest he felt to the last, in every thing connected with the welfare
  2337. of his friends, will be long remembered by a small circle, with whom, as
  2338. long as his strength permitted, he regularly spent an evening in the
  2339. week; and to whom the recollection of his worth still forms a pleasing,
  2340. though melancholy bond of union.
  2342. The more delicate and characteristical features of his mind, it is
  2343. perhaps impossible to trace. That there were many peculiarities, both in
  2344. his manners, and in his intellectual habits, was manifest to the most
  2345. superficial observer. but although, to those who knew him, these
  2346. peculiarities detracted nothing from the respect which his abilities
  2347. commanded; and although, to his intimate friends, they added an
  2348. inexpressible charm to his conversation, while they displayed, in the
  2349. most interesting light, the artless simplicity of his heart; yet it
  2350. would require a very skilful pencil to present them to the public eye.
  2351. He was certainly not fitted for the general commerce of the world, or
  2352. for the business of active life. The comprehensive speculations with
  2353. which he had been occupied from his youth, and the variety of materials
  2354. which his own invention continually supplied to his thoughts, rendered
  2355. him habitually inattentive to familiar objects, and to common
  2356. occurrences; and he frequently exhibited instances of absence, which
  2357. have scarcely been surpassed by the fancy of La Bruyère. Even in
  2358. company, he was apt to be engrossed with his studies; and appeared, at
  2359. times, by the motion of his lips, as well as by his looks and gestures,
  2360. to be in the fervour of composition. I have often, however, been struck,
  2361. at the distance of years, with his accurate memory of the most trifling
  2362. particulars; and am inclined to believe, from this and some other
  2363. circumstances, that he possessed a power, not perhaps uncommon among
  2364. absent men, of recollecting, in consequence of subsequent efforts of
  2365. reflection, many occurrences, which, at the time when they happened, did
  2366. not seem to have sensibly attracted his notice.
  2368. To the defect now mentioned, it was probably owing, in part, that he did
  2369. not fall in easily with the common dialogue of conversation, and that he
  2370. was somewhat apt to convey his own ideas in the form of a lecture. When
  2371. he did so, however, it never proceeded from a wish to engross the
  2372. discourse, or to gratify his vanity. His own inclination disposed him so
  2373. strongly to enjoy in silence the gaiety of those around him, that his
  2374. friends were often led to concert little schemes, in order to engage him
  2375. in the discussions most likely to interest him. Nor do I think I shall
  2376. be accused of going too far, when I say, that he was scarcely ever known
  2377. to start a new topic himself, or to appear unprepared upon those topics
  2378. that were introduced by others. Indeed, his conversation was never more
  2379. amusing than when he gave a loose to his genius, upon the very few
  2380. branches of knowledge of which he only possessed the outlines.
  2382. The opinions he formed of men, upon a slight acquaintance, were
  2383. frequently erroneous; but the tendency of his nature inclined him much
  2384. more to blind partiality, than to ill-founded prejudice. The enlarged
  2385. views of human affairs, on which his mind habitually dwelt, left him
  2386. neither time nor inclination to study, in detail, the uninteresting
  2387. peculiarities of ordinary characters; and accordingly, though intimately
  2388. acquainted with the capacities of the intellect, and the workings of the
  2389. heart, and accustomed, in his theories, to mark, with the most delicate
  2390. hand, the nicest shades, both of genius and of the passions; yet, in
  2391. judging of individuals, it sometimes happened, that his estimates were,
  2392. in a surprising degree, wide of the truth.
  2394. The opinions, too, which, in the thoughtlessness and confidence of his
  2395. social hours, he was accustomed to hazard on books, and on questions of
  2396. speculation, were not uniformly such as might have been expected from
  2397. the superiority of his understanding, and the singular consistency of
  2398. his philosophical principles. They were liable to be influenced by
  2399. accidental circumstances, and by the humour of the moment; and when
  2400. retailed by those who only saw him occasionally, suggested false and
  2401. contradictory ideas of his real sentiments. On these, however, as on
  2402. most other occasions, there was always much truth, as well as ingenuity,
  2403. in his remarks; and if the different opinions which, at different times,
  2404. he pronounced upon the same subject, had been all combined together, so
  2405. as to modify and limit each other, they would probably have afforded
  2406. materials for a decision, equally comprehensive and just. But, in the
  2407. society of his friends, he had no disposition to form those qualified
  2408. conclusions that we admire in his writings; and he generally contented
  2409. himself with a bold and masterly sketch of the object, from the first
  2410. point of view in which his temper, or his fancy, presented it. Something
  2411. of the same kind might be remarked, when he attempted, in the flow of
  2412. his spirits, to delineate those characters which, from long intimacy, he
  2413. might have been supposed to understand thoroughly. The picture was
  2414. always lively, and expressive; and commonly bore a strong and amusing
  2415. resemblance to the original, when viewed under one particular aspect;
  2416. but seldom, perhaps, conveyed a just and complete conception of it in
  2417. all its dimensions and proportions. -- In a word, it was the fault of
  2418. his unpremeditated judgments, to be too systematical, and too much in
  2419. extremes.
  2421. But, in whatever way these trifling peculiarities in his manners may be
  2422. explained, there can be no doubt, that they were intimately connected
  2423. with the genuine artlessness of his mind. In this amiable quality, he
  2424. often recalled to his friends, the accounts that are given of good La
  2425. Fontaine; a quality which in him derived a peculiar grace from the
  2426. singularity of its combination with those powers of reason and of
  2427. eloquence, which, in his political and moral writings, have long engaged
  2428. the admiration of Europe.
  2430. In his external form and appearance, there was nothing uncommon. When
  2431. perfectly at ease, and when warmed with conversation, his gestures were
  2432. animated, and not ungraceful: and, in the society of those he loved, his
  2433. features were often brightened with a smile of inexpressible benignity.
  2434. In the company of strangers, his tendency to absence, and perhaps still
  2435. more his consciousness of this tendency, rendered his manner somewhat
  2436. embarrassed; -- an effect which was probably not a little heightened by
  2437. those speculative ideas of propriety, which his recluse habits tended at
  2438. once to perfect in his conception, and to diminish his power of
  2439. realizing. He never sat for his picture; but the medallion of Tassie
  2440. conveys an exact idea of his profile, and of the general expression of
  2441. his countenance.
  2443. His valuable library, together with the rest of his property, was
  2444. bequeathed to his cousin Mr David Douglas, Advocate.[^32] In the
  2445. education of this young gentleman, he had employed much of his leisure;
  2446. and it was only two years before his death (at a time when he could ill
  2447. spare the pleasure of his society), that he had sent him to study law at
  2448. Glasgow, under the care of Mr Millar; -- the strongest proof he could
  2449. give of his disinterested zeal for the improvement of his friend, as
  2450. well as of the esteem in which he held the abilities of that eminent
  2451. Professor.
  2453. The executors of his will were Dr Black and Dr Hutton; with whom he had
  2454. long lived in habits of the most intimate and cordial friendship; and
  2455. who, to the many other testimonies which they had given him of their
  2456. affection, added the mournful office of witnessing his last moments.
  2459. ## Notes to the Life of Adam Smith, LL.D.
  2461. ### Note (A.)
  2463. _"Of this number were Mr Oswald of Dunikeir," etc.:_ The late James
  2464. Oswald, Esq. -- for many years one of the most active, able and public
  2465. spirited of our Scottish representatives in Parliament. He was more
  2466. particularly distinguished by his knowledge in matters of finance, and
  2467. by his attention to whatever concerned the commercial or the
  2468. agricultural interests of the country. From the manner in which he is
  2469. mentioned in a paper of Mr Smith's which I have perused, he appears to
  2470. have combined, with that detailed information which he is well known to
  2471. have possessed as a statesman and man of business, a taste for the more
  2472. general and philosophical discussions of political economy. He lived in
  2473. habits of great intimacy with Lord Kames and Mr Hume; and was one of Mr
  2474. Smith's earliest and most confidential friends.
  2477. ### Note (B.)
  2479. _"The lectures of the profound and eloquent Dr Hutcheson," etc.:_ Those
  2480. who have derived their knowledge of Dr Hutcheson solely from his
  2481. publications, may, perhaps, be inclined to dispute the propriety of the
  2482. epithet eloquent, when applied to any of his compositions; more
  2483. particularly, when applied to the _System of Moral Philosophy_, which
  2484. was published after his death, as the substance of his lectures in the
  2485. University of Glasgow. His talents, however, as a public speaker, must
  2486. have been of a far higher order than what he has displayed as a writer;
  2487. all his pupils whom I have happened to meet with (some of them,
  2488. certainly, very competent judges) having agreed exactly with each other
  2489. in their accounts of the extraordinary impression which they made on the
  2490. minds of his hearers. I have mentioned, in the text, Mr Smith as one of
  2491. his warmest admirers; and to his name I shall take this opportunity of
  2492. adding those of the late Earl of Selkirk; the late Lord President
  2493. Miller; and the late Dr Archibald Maclaine, the very learned and
  2494. judicious translator of Mosheim's _Ecclesiastical History_. My father,
  2495. too, who had attended Dr Hutcheson's lectures for several years, never
  2496. spoke of them without much sensibility. On this occasion we can only
  2497. say, as Quinctilian has done of the eloquence of Hortensius; "Apparet
  2498. placuisse aliquid eo dicente, quod legentes non invenimus."
  2500. Dr Hutcheson's _Inquiry into our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue_; his
  2501. _Discourse on the Passions_; and his _Illustrations of the Moral Sense_,
  2502. are much more strongly marked with the characteristical features of his
  2503. genius, than his posthumous work. His great and deserved fame, however,
  2504. in this country, rests now chiefly on the traditionary history of his
  2505. academical lectures, which appear to have contributed very powerfully to
  2506. diffuse, in Scotland, that taste for analytical discussion, and that
  2507. spirit of liberal inquiry, to which the world is indebted for some of
  2508. the most valuable productions of the eighteenth century.
  2511. ### Note (C.)
  2513. According to the learned English translator of _Aristotle's Ethics and
  2514. Politics_, the general idea which runs through Mr Smith's _Theory_, was
  2515. obviously borrowed from the following passage of Polybius:
  2517. > From the union of the two sexes, to which all are naturally inclined,
  2518. > children are born. When any of these, therefore, being arrived at
  2519. > perfect age, instead of yielding suitable returns of gratitude and
  2520. > assistance to those by whom they have been bred, on the contrary,
  2521. > attempt to injure them by words or actions, it is manifest that those
  2522. > who behold the wrong, after having also seen the sufferings and the
  2523. > anxious cares that were sustained by the parents in the nourishment
  2524. > and education of their children, must be greatly offended and
  2525. > displeased at such proceeding. For man, who among all the various
  2526. > kinds of animals is alone endowed with the faculty of reason, cannot,
  2527. > like the rest, pass over such actions: but will make reflection on
  2528. > what he sees; and comparing likewise the future with the present, will
  2529. > not fail to express his indignation at this injurious treatment; to
  2530. > which, as he foresees, he may also, at some time, be exposed. Thus
  2531. > again, when any one who has been succoured by another in the time of
  2532. > danger, instead of shewing the like kindness to this benefactor,
  2533. > endeavours at any time to destroy or hurt him; it is certain, that all
  2534. > men must be shocked by such ingratitude, through sympathy with the
  2535. > resentment of their neighbour; and from an apprehension also, that the
  2536. > case may be their own. And from hence arises, in the mind of every
  2537. > man, a certain notion of the nature and force of duty, in which
  2538. > consists both the beginning and the end of justice. In like manner,
  2539. > the man, who, in defence of others, is seen to throw himself the
  2540. > foremost into every danger, and even to sustain the fury of the
  2541. > fiercest animals, never fails to obtain the loudest acclamations of
  2542. > applause and veneration from all the multitude; while he who shews a
  2543. > different conduct is pursued with censure and reproach. And thus it
  2544. > is, that the people begin to discern the nature of things honourable
  2545. > and base, and in what consists the difference between them; and to
  2546. > perceive that the former, on account of the advantage that attends
  2547. > them, are fit to be admired and imitated, and the latter to be
  2548. > detested and avoided.
  2550. > The doctrine (says Dr Gillies) contained in this passage is
  2551. > expanded by Dr Smith into a theory of moral sentiments. But he departs
  2552. > from his author, in placing the perception of right and wrong, in
  2553. > sentiment or feeling, ultimately and simply. Polybius, on the
  2554. > contrary, maintains with Aristotle, that these notions arise from
  2555. > reason, or intellect, operating on affection or appetite; or, in other
  2556. > words, that the moral faculty is a compound, and may be resolved into
  2557. > two simpler principles of the mind.
  2559. > -- (Gillies's _Aristotle_, Vol. I. pp. 302, 303, 2d Edit.)
  2561. The only expression I object to in the two preceding sentences, is the
  2562. phrase, his author, which has the appearance of insinuating a charge of
  2563. plagiarism against Mr Smith; a charge which, I am confident, he did not
  2564. deserve; and to which the above extract does not, in my opinion, afford
  2565. any plausible colour. It exhibits, indeed, an instance of a curious
  2566. coincidence between two philosophers in their views of the same subject;
  2567. and as such, I have no doubt that Mr Smith himself would have remarked
  2568. it, had it occurred to his memory, when he was writing his book. Of such
  2569. accidental coincidences between different minds, examples present
  2570. themselves every day to those, who, after having drawn from their
  2571. internal resources all the lights they could supply on a particular
  2572. question, have the curiosity to compare their own conclusions with those
  2573. of their predecessors: And it is extremely worthy of observation, that,
  2574. in proportion as any conclusion approaches to the truth, the number of
  2575. previous approximations to it may be reasonably expected to be
  2576. multiplied.
  2578. In the case before us, however, the question about originality is of
  2579. little or no moment; for the peculiar merit of Mr Smith's work does not
  2580. lie in his general principle, but in the skilful use he has made of it
  2581. to give a systematical arrangement to the most important discussions and
  2582. doctrines of Ethics. In this point of view, the _Theory of Moral
  2583. Sentiments_ may be justly regarded as one of the most original efforts of
  2584. the human mind in that branch of science to which it relates; and even
  2585. if we were to suppose that it was first suggested to the author by a
  2586. remark of which the world was in possession for two thousand years
  2587. before, this very circumstance would only reflect a stronger lustre on
  2588. the novelty of his design, and on the invention and taste displayed in
  2589. its execution.
  2591. I have said, in the text, that my own opinion about the foundation of
  2592. morals does not agree with that of Mr Smith; and I propose to state, in
  2593. another publication, the grounds of my dissent from his conclusions on
  2594. that question.[^33] At present, I shall only observe, that I consider
  2595. the defects of his _Theory_ as originating rather in a partial, than in a
  2596. mistaken view of the subject; while, on some of the most essential
  2597. points of ethics, it appears to me to approximate very nearly to a
  2598. correct statement of the truth. I must not omit to add, in justice to
  2599. the author, that his zeal to support his favourite system never has led
  2600. him to vitiate or misrepresent the phenomena which he has employed it to
  2601. explain; and that the connected order which he has given to a
  2602. multiplicity of isolated facts, must facilitate greatly the studies of
  2603. any of his successors, who may hereafter prosecute the same inquiry,
  2604. agreeably to the severe rules of the inductive logic.
  2606. After the passage which I have quoted in the beginning of this note, I
  2607. hope I shall be pardoned if I express my doubts, whether the learned and
  2608. ingenious writer has not, upon this, as well as on some other occasions,
  2609. allowed his partiality to the ancients to blind him a little too much to
  2610. the merits of his contemporaries. Would not his laborious and
  2611. interesting researches into the remains of the Greek philosophy, have
  2612. been employed still more usefully in revealing to us the systems and
  2613. discoveries to which our successors may yet lay claim, than in
  2614. conjectures concerning the origin of those with which we are already
  2615. acquainted? How does it happen that those men of profound erudition, who
  2616. can so easily trace every past improvement to the fountain-head of
  2617. antiquity, should not sometimes amuse themselves, and instruct the
  2618. world, by anticipating the future progress of the human mind.
  2620. In studying the connection and filiation of successive Theories, when we
  2621. are at a loss, in any instance, for a link to complete the continuity of
  2622. philosophical speculation, it seems much more reasonable to search for
  2623. it in the systems of the immediately preceding period, and in the
  2624. inquiries which then occupied the public attention, than in detached
  2625. sentences, or accidental expressions gleaned from the relics of distant
  2626. ages. It is thus only, that we can hope to seize the precise point of
  2627. view, in which an author's subject first presented itself to his
  2628. attention; and to account, to our own satisfaction, from the particular
  2629. aspect under which he saw it, for the subsequent direction which was
  2630. given to his curiosity. In following such a plan, our object is not to
  2631. detect plagiarisms, which we suppose men of genius to have intentionally
  2632. concealed; but to fill up an apparent chasm in the history of Science,
  2633. by laying hold of the thread which insensibly guided the mind from one
  2634. station to another. By what easy and natural steps Mr Smith's _Theory_
  2635. arose from the state of ethical discussion in Great Britain, when he
  2636. began his literary career, I shall endeavour elsewhere to explain.
  2638. A late author, of taste and learning, has written a pleasing and
  2639. instructive essay on the _Marks of Poetical Imitation_. The marks of
  2640. Philosophical Plagiarism, are not less discernible by an unprejudiced
  2641. and discriminating eye; and are easily separable from that occasional
  2642. similarity of thought and of illustration, which we may expect to meet
  2643. with in writers of the most remote ages and countries, when employed in
  2644. examining the same questions, or in establishing the same truths.
  2646. As the foregoing observations apply with fully as great force to the
  2647. _Wealth of Nations_, as to the _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, I trust some
  2648. allowance will be made for the length of this note.[^34]
  2651. ### Note (D.)
  2653. Extracted by Mr Stewart from (John) Nichols's _Illustrations of the
  2654. Literary History of the Eighteenth Century_, etc., Vol III (1818), pp.
  2655. 515, 516; and appended in manuscript to one of his own copies of this
  2656. Memoir.
  2658. > Dr. Adam Smith to Mr. George Baird
  2660. > Glasgow, February 7, 1763.
  2662. > DEAR SIR, I have read over the contents of your friend's[^35] work
  2663. > with very great pleasure; and heartily wish it was in my power to
  2664. > give, or to procure him all the encouragement which his ingenuity and
  2665. > industry deserve. I think myself greatly obliged to him for the very
  2666. > obliging notice he has been pleased to take of me, and should be glad
  2667. > to contribute anything in my power towards completing his design. I
  2668. > approve greatly of his plan for a Rational Grammar, and am convinced
  2669. > that a work of this kind, executed with his abilities and industry,
  2670. > may prove not only the best system of grammar, but the best system of
  2671. > logic in any language, as well as the best history of the natural
  2672. > progress of the human mind in forming the most important abstractions
  2673. > upon which all reasoning depends. From the short abstract which Mr
  2674. > Ward has been so good as to send me, it is impossible for me to form
  2675. > any very decisive judgement concerning the propriety of every part of
  2676. > his method, particularly of some of his divisions. If I was to treat
  2677. > the same subject, I should endeavour to begin with the consideration
  2678. > of verbs; these being, in my apprehension, the original parts of
  2679. > speech, first invented to express in one word a complete event: I
  2680. > should then have endeavoured to show how the subject was divided from
  2681. > the attribute; and afterwards, how the object was distinguished from
  2682. > both; and in this manner I should have tried to investigate the origin
  2683. > and use of all the different parts of speech, and of all their
  2684. > different modifications, considered as necessary to express all the
  2685. > different qualifications and relations of any single event. Mr Ward,
  2686. > however, may have excellent reasons for following his own method; and,
  2687. > perhaps, if I was engaged in the same task, I should find it necessary
  2688. > to follow the same, -- things frequently appearing in a very different
  2689. > light when taken in a general view, which is the only view that I can
  2690. > pretend to have taken of them, and when considered in detail.
  2692. > Mr Ward, when he mentions the definitions which different authors have
  2693. > given of nouns substantive, takes no notice of that of the Abbé
  2694. > Girard, the author of a book called _Les vrais Principes de la Langue
  2695. > Française_, which made me think it might be possible he had not seen
  2696. > it. It is a book which first set me a thinking upon these subjects,
  2697. > and I have received more instruction from it than from any other I
  2698. > have yet seen upon them. If Mr Ward has not seen it, I have it at his
  2699. > service. The grammatical articles, too, in the French _Encyclopédie_
  2700. > have given me a good deal of entertainment. Very probably Mr Ward has
  2701. > seen both these works, and, as he may have considered the subject more
  2702. > than I have done, may think less of them. Remember me to Mrs Baird,
  2703. > and Mr Oswald; and believe me to be, with great truth, dear Sir,
  2704. > sincerely yours,
  2706. > (Signed) ADAM SMITH.
  2709. ### Note (E.)
  2711. I ought to have mentioned, among the number of Mr Smith's friends at
  2712. Paris, the Abbé Morellet, of whom I have frequently heard him speak with
  2713. much respect. But his name, with which I was not then very well
  2714. acquainted, happened to escape my recollection while writing this
  2715. Memoir; nor was I at all aware that they had been so well known to each
  2716. other, as I have since learned that they were. On this subject I might
  2717. quote the Abbé Morellet himself, of whom I had the pleasure to see much
  2718. in the year 1806; but I prefer a reference to his own words, which
  2719. coincide exactly with what he stated to myself.
  2721. > J'avais connu Smith dans un voyage qu'il avait fait en France, vers
  2722. > 1762; il parlait fort mal notre langue; mais _La Théorie des Sentimens
  2723. > Moraux_, publiée en 1758, m'avait donné une grande idée de sa sagacité
  2724. > et de sa profondeur. Et véritablement je le regarde encore aujourd'hui
  2725. > comme un des hommes qui a fait les observations et les analyses les
  2726. > plus complètes dans toutes les questions qu'il a traitées. M. Turgot,
  2727. > qui aimait ainsi que moi la métaphysique, estimait beaucoup son
  2728. > talent. Nous le vîmes plusieurs fois; il fut présenté chez Helvétius;
  2729. > nous parlâmes de la théorie commerciale, banque, crédit public, et de
  2730. > plusieurs points du grand ouvrage qu'il méditait.
  2732. -- _Mémoires de l'Abbé Morellet_, Tome I. p. 257, (Paris, 1821).
  2735. ### Note (F.)
  2737. The _Theory of Moral Sentiments_ does not seem to have attracted so much
  2738. notice in France as might have been expected, till after the publication
  2739. of the _Wealth of Nations_. Mr Smith used to ascribe this in part to the
  2740. Abbé Blavet's translation, which he thought was but indifferently
  2741. executed. A better reason, however, may perhaps be found in the low and
  2742. stationary condition of Ethical and Metaphysical science in that
  2743. country, previous to the publication of the _Encyclopédie_. On this head
  2744. I beg leave to transcribe a few sentences from an anonymous paper of his
  2745. own, printed in the Edinburgh Review for the year 1755. The remarks
  2746. contained in them, so far as they are admitted to be just, tend strongly
  2747. to confirm an observation which I have elsewhere quoted from D'Alembert,
  2748. with respect to the literary taste of his countrymen. (See _Philosophical
  2749. Essays_, pp. 110- 111) Part I, Essay iii; Works Vol.V. p. 126.
  2751. > The original and inventive genius of the English, has not only
  2752. > discovered itself in Natural Philosophy, but in morals, metaphysics,
  2753. > and part of the abstract sciences. Whatever attempts have been made in
  2754. > modern times towards improvement in this contentious and unprosperous
  2755. > philosophy, beyond what the ancients have left us, have been made in
  2756. > England. The meditations of Des Cartes excepted, I know nothing in
  2757. > French that aims at being original on that subject; for the philosophy
  2758. > of M. Regis, as well as that of Father Malebranche, are but
  2759. > refinements on the meditations of Des Cartes. But Mr Hobbes, Mr Locke,
  2760. > and Dr Mandeville, Lord Shaftesbury, Dr Butler, Dr Clarke, and Mr
  2761. > Hutcheson, have all of them, according to their different and
  2762. > inconsistent systems, endeavoured at least, to be, in some measure,
  2763. > original; and to add something to that stock of observations with
  2764. > which the world had been furnished before them. This branch of the
  2765. > English Philosophy, which seems now to be entirely neglected by the
  2766. > English themselves, has, of late, been transported into France. I
  2767. > observe some traces of it, not only in the _Encyclopédie_, but in the
  2768. > _Theory of agreeable sentiments_ by M. de Pouilly, a work that is in
  2769. > many respects original; and above all, in the late _Discourse upon the
  2770. > origin and foundation of the inequality amongst mankind_, by M.
  2771. > Rousseau of Geneva.
  2773. A new translation of Mr Smith's _Theory_, (including his last additions),
  2774. was published at Paris in 1798 by Madame de Condorcet, with some
  2775. ingenious letters on Sympathy annexed to it, written by the translator.
  2778. ### Note (G.)
  2780. By way of explanation of what is hinted at in the foot-note, I think it
  2781. proper for me now to add, that at the period when this memoir was read
  2782. before the Royal Society of Edinburgh, it was not unusual, even among
  2783. men of some talents and information, to confound, studiously, the
  2784. speculative doctrines of Political Economy, with those discussions
  2785. concerning the first principles of Government which happened
  2786. unfortunately at that time to agitate the public mind. The doctrine of a
  2787. Free Trade was itself represented as of a revolutionary tendency; and
  2788. some who had formerly prided themselves on their intimacy with Mr Smith,
  2789. and on their zeal for the propagation of his liberal system, began to
  2790. call in question the expediency of subjecting to the disputations of
  2791. philosophers, the arcana of State Policy, and the unfathomable wisdom of
  2792. the feudal ages. In reprinting this Section at present, I have, from
  2793. obvious motives, followed scrupulously the text of the first edition,
  2794. without any alterations or additions whatsoever; reserving any comments
  2795. and criticisms which I have to offer on Mr Smith's work, for a different
  2796. publication. (1810.)
  2799. ### Note (H.)
  2801. Notwithstanding the unqualified praise I have bestowed, in the text, on
  2802. Mr Smith's arrangement, I readily admit, that some of his incidental
  2803. discussions and digressions might have been more skilfully and happily
  2804. incorporated with his general design. Little stress, however, will be
  2805. laid on blemishes of this sort, by those who are aware of the extreme
  2806. difficulty of giving any thing like a systematic shape to researches so
  2807. various, and, at first view, so unconnected, as his plan embraces: Some
  2808. of them having for their aim to establish abstract principles of
  2809. universal application; and others bearing a particular reference to the
  2810. circumstances and policy of our own country. It ought to be remembered,
  2811. besides, how much our taste, in matters of arrangement, is liable to be
  2812. influenced by our individual habits of thought; by the accidental
  2813. conduct of our early studies; and by other circumstances which may be
  2814. expected to present the same objects under different aspects to
  2815. different inquirers. Something of this kind is experienced even in those
  2816. more exact Sciences, where the whole business of an elementary writer is
  2817. to state known and demonstrated truths, in a logical and pleasing
  2818. series. It has been experienced most remarkably in pure geometry, the
  2819. elements of which have been modelled into a hundred different forms by
  2820. the first mathematicians of modern Europe; while none of them has yet
  2821. been able to unite the suffrages of the public in favour of any one
  2822. arrangement as indisputably the best. What allowances, then, are those
  2823. entitled to, who, venturing upon a vast and untrodden field, aspire to
  2824. combine with the task of original speculation, a systematical regard to
  2825. luminous method, if they should sometimes happen to mistake the
  2826. historical order of their own conclusions for the natural procedure of
  2827. the human understanding!
  2830. ### Note (I.)[^35]
  2832. When this memoir was first written, I was not fully aware to what an
  2833. extent the French Economists had been anticipated in some of their most
  2834. important conclusions, by writers (chiefly British) of a much earlier
  2835. date. I had often, indeed, been struck with the coincidence between
  2836. their reasonings concerning the advantages of their territorial tax, and
  2837. Mr Locke's speculations on the same subject, in one of his political
  2838. discourses published sixty years before; as well as with the coincidence
  2839. of their argument against corporations and exclusive companies, with
  2840. what had been urged at a still earlier period, by the celebrated John de
  2841. Witt; by Sir Josiah Child; by John Cary of Bristol; and by various other
  2842. speculative men, who appeared in the latter part of the seventeenth
  2843. century. To these last writers, my attention had been directed by some
  2844. quotations and references of the Abbé Morellet, in his very able Memoir
  2845. on the East India Company of France, printed in 1769. Many passages,
  2846. however, much more full and explicit than those which had fallen in his
  2847. way, have been pointed out to me by the Earl of Lauderdale, in his
  2848. curious and valuable collection of rare English Tracts relating to
  2849. political economy. In some of these, the argument is stated in a manner
  2850. so clear and so conclusive, as to render it surprising, that truths of
  2851. which the public has been so long in possession, should have been so
  2852. completely overborne by prejudice and misrepresentation, as to have had,
  2853. to a large proportion of readers, the appearance of novelty and paradox,
  2854. when revived in the philosophical theories of the present age.[^36]
  2856. The system of political economy which professes to regulate the
  2857. commercial intercourse of different nations, and which Mr Smith has
  2858. distinguished by the title of the Commercial, or Mercantile System, had
  2859. its root in prejudices still more inveterate than those which restrained
  2860. the freedom of commerce and industry among the members of the same
  2861. community. It was supported not only by the prejudices with which all
  2862. innovations have to contend, and by the talents of very powerful bodies
  2863. of men interested to defend it, but by the mistaken and clamorous
  2864. patriotism of many good citizens, and their blind hostility to supposed
  2865. enemies or rivals abroad. The absurd and delusive principles, too,
  2866. formerly so prevalent, with respect to the nature of national wealth,
  2867. and the essential importance of a favourable balance of trade
  2868. (principles which, though now so clearly and demonstrably exploded by
  2869. the arguments of Mr Smith, must be acknowledged to fall in naturally,
  2870. and almost inevitably, with the first apprehensions of the mind when it
  2871. begins to speculate concerning the Theory of Commerce), communicated to
  2872. the Mercantile System a degree of plausibility, against which the most
  2873. acute reasoners of our own times are not always sufficiently on their
  2874. guard. It was accordingly, at a considerably later period, that the
  2875. wisdom of its maxims came to be the subject of general discussion; and,
  2876. even at this day, the controversy to which the discussion gave rise
  2877. cannot be said to be completely settled, to the satisfaction of all
  2878. parties. A few enlightened individuals, however, in different parts of
  2879. Europe, very early got a glimpse of the truth;[^37] and it is but
  2880. justice, that the scattered hints which they threw out should be
  2881. treasured up as materials for literary history. I have sometimes thought
  2882. of attempting a slight sketch on that subject myself; but am not without
  2883. hopes that this suggestion may have the effect of recommending the task
  2884. to some abler hand. At present, I shall only quote one or two paragraphs
  2885. from a pamphlet published in 1734, by Jacob Vanderlint;[^38] an author
  2886. whose name has been frequently referred to of late years, but whose book
  2887. never seems to have attracted much notice till long after the
  2888. publication of the _Wealth of Nations_. He describes himself, in his
  2889. Preface, as an ordinary tradesman, from whom the conciseness and
  2890. accuracy of a scholar is not to be expected; and yet the following
  2891. passages will bear a comparison, both in point of good sense and of
  2892. liberality, with what was so ably urged by Mr Hume twenty years
  2893. afterwards, in his _Essay on the Jealousy of Trade_.
  2895. > All nations have some commodities peculiar to them, which, therefore,
  2896. > are undoubtedly designed to be the foundation of commerce between the
  2897. > several nations, and produce a great deal of maritime employment for
  2898. > mankind, which probably, without such peculiarities, could not be; and
  2899. > in this respect, I suppose, we are distinguished, as well as other
  2900. > nations; and I have before taken notice, that if one nation be by
  2901. > nature more distinguished in this respect than another, as they will,
  2902. > by that means, gain more money than such other nations, so the prices
  2903. > of all their commodities and labour will be higher in such proportion,
  2904. > and consequently, they will not be richer or more powerful for having
  2905. > more money than their neighbours.
  2907. > But, if we import any kind of goods cheaper than we can now raise
  2908. > them, which otherwise might be as well raised at home; in this case,
  2909. > undoubtedly, we ought to attempt to raise such commodities, and
  2910. > thereby furnish so many new branches of employment and trade for our
  2911. > own people; and remove the inconvenience of receiving any goods from
  2912. > abroad, which we can anywise raise on as good terms ourselves: and, as
  2913. > this should be done to prevent every nation from finding their account
  2914. > with us by any such commodities whatsoever, so this would more
  2915. > effectually shut out all such foreign goods than any law can do.
  2917. > And as this is all the prohibitions and restraints whereby any
  2918. > foreign trade should be obstructed, so, if this method were observed,
  2919. > our gentry would find themselves the richer, notwithstanding their
  2920. > consumption of such other foreign goods, as being the peculiarities of
  2921. > other nations, we may be obliged to import. For if, when we have thus
  2922. > raised all we can at home, the goods we import after this is done be
  2923. > cheaper than we can raise such goods ourselves, (which they must be,
  2924. > otherwise we shall not import them), it is plain, the consumption of
  2925. > any such goods cannot occasion so great an expence as they would, if
  2926. > we could shut them out by an act of parliament, in order to raise them
  2927. > ourselves.
  2929. > From hence, therefore, it must appear, that it is impossible any body
  2930. > should be poorer, for using any foreign goods at cheaper rates than we
  2931. > can raise them ourselves, after we have done all we possibly can to
  2932. > raise such goods as cheap as we import them, and find we cannot do it;
  2933. > nay, this very circumstance makes all such goods come under the
  2934. > character of the peculiarities of those countries, which are able to
  2935. > raise any such goods cheaper than we can do; for they will necessarily
  2936. > operate as such. -- (pp. 97, 98, 99.)
  2938. The same author, in another part of his work, quotes from Erasmus
  2939. Philips, a maxim which he calls a glorious one:
  2941. > That a trading nation should be an open warehouse, where the merchant
  2942. > may buy what he pleases, and sell what he can. Whatever is brought to
  2943. > you, if you don't want it, you won't purchase it; if you do want it,
  2944. > the largeness of the impost don't keep it from you.
  2946. > All nations of the world, therefore, (says Vanderlint) should be
  2947. > regarded as one body of tradesmen, exercising their various
  2948. > occupations for the mutual benefit and advantage of each other. --
  2949. > (p. 42.) I will not contend, (he adds, evidently in compliance with
  2950. > national prejudices,) I will not contend for a free and unrestrained
  2951. > trade with respect to France, though I can't see it could do us any
  2952. > harm even in that case. -- (p. 45.)
  2954. In these last sentences, an argument is suggested for a free commerce
  2955. all over the globe, founded on the same principle on which Mr Smith has
  2956. demonstrated the beneficial effects of a division and distribution of
  2957. labour among the members of the same community. The happiness of the
  2958. whole race would, in fact, be promoted by the former arrangement, in a
  2959. manner exactly analogous to that in which the comforts of a particular
  2960. nation are multiplied by the latter.
  2962. In the same Essay, Mr Vanderlint, following the footsteps of Locke,
  2963. maintains, with considerable ingenuity, the noted doctrine of the
  2964. Economists, that all taxes fall ultimately on land; and recommends the
  2965. substitution of a land-tax, in place of those complicated fiscal
  2966. regulations, which have been everywhere adopted by the statesmen of
  2967. modern Europe; and which, while they impoverish and oppress the people,
  2968. do not, in the same degree, enrich the sovereign.[^39]
  2970. The doctrine which more exclusively distinguishes this celebrated sect,
  2971. is neither that of the freedom of trade, nor of the territorial tax, (on
  2972. both of which topics they had been, in part, anticipated by English
  2973. writers), but what they have so ingeniously and forcibly urged, with
  2974. respect to the tendency of the existing regulations and restraints, to
  2975. encourage the industry of towns in preference to that of the country. To
  2976. revive the languishing agriculture of France was the first and the
  2977. leading aim of their speculations; and it is impossible not to admire
  2978. the metaphysical acuteness and subtlety, with which all their various
  2979. discussions are so combined as to bear systematically upon this
  2980. favourite object. The influence of their labours in turning the
  2981. attention of French statesmen, under the old monarchy, to the
  2982. encouragement of this essential branch of national industry, was
  2983. remarked by Mr Smith more than thirty years ago; nor has it altogether
  2984. ceased to operate in the same direction, under all the violent and
  2985. fantastic metamorphoses which the government of that country has since
  2986. exhibited.[^40]
  2988. In combating the policy of commercial privileges, and in asserting the
  2989. reciprocal advantages of a free trade among different nations, the
  2990. founders of the economical sect candidly acknowledged, from the
  2991. beginning, that their first lights were borrowed from England. The
  2992. testimony of M. Turgot upon this point is so perfectly decisive, that I
  2993. hope to gratify some of my readers (in the present interrupted state of
  2994. our communication with the continent), by the following quotations from
  2995. a memoir, which, till lately, was very little known, even in France.
  2996. They are transcribed from his Eloge on M. Vincent de Gournay; a name
  2997. which has always been united with that of Quesnay, by the French writers
  2998. who have attempted to trace the origin and progress of the now
  2999. prevailing opinions on this branch of legislation. (_Oeuvres de M.
  3000. Turgot_, Tome III. Paris, 1808.)
  3002. > JEAN-CLAUDE-MARIE VINCENT, Seigneur DE GOURNAY, etc. est mort à Paris
  3003. > le 27. Juin dernier (1759) âgé de quarante sept ans.
  3005. > Il etoit né à Saint-Malo, au moi de Mai 1712, de Claude VINCENT, l'un
  3006. > des plus considérables négocians de cette ville, et secrétaire du roi.
  3008. > Ses parens le destinèrent au commerce, et l'envoyèrent à Cadix en
  3009. > 1729, à peine âgé de dix sept ans. -- (p. 321.)
  3011. > Aux lumières que M. de Gournay tiroit de sa propre expérience et de
  3012. > ses réflexions, il joignit la lecture des meilleurs ouvrages que
  3013. > possèdent sur cette matière les différentes nations de l'Europe, et en
  3014. > particulier la nation Angloise, la plus riche de toutes en ce genre,
  3015. > et dont il s'étoit rendu, Pour cette raison, la langue familière. Les
  3016. > ouvrages qu'il lut avec plus de plaisir, et dont il goûta le plus la
  3017. > doctrine, furent les traités du fameux Josias Child, qu'il a traduits
  3018. > depuis en François, et les mémoires du Grand Pensionnaire Jean de
  3019. > Witt. On sait que ces deux grands hommes sont considérés, l'un en
  3020. > Angleterre, l'autre en Hollande, comme les législateurs du commerce;
  3021. > que leurs principes sont devenus les principes nationaux, et que
  3022. > l'observation de ces principes est regardée comme une des sources de
  3023. > la prodigieuse supériorité que ces deux nations ont acquise dans le
  3024. > commerce sur toutes les autres puissances. M. de Gournay trouvoit sans
  3025. > cesse dans la pratique d'un commerce étendu la vérification de ces
  3026. > principes simples et lumineux, il se les rendoit propres sans prévoir
  3027. > qu'il étoit destiné à en repandre un jour la lumière en France, et à
  3028. > mériter de sa patrie le même tribut de reconnoissance, que
  3029. > l'Angleterre et la Hollande rendent à la mémoire de ces deux
  3030. > bienfaiteurs de leur nation et de l'humanité.' -- (pp. 324, 325.)
  3032. > M. de Gournay, après avoir quitté l'Espagne, prit la resolution
  3033. > d'employer quelques années à voyager dans les différentes parties de
  3034. > l'Europe, soit pour augmenter ses connoissances, soit pour étendre ses
  3035. > correspondances et former des liaisons avantageuses pour le commerce,
  3036. > qu'il se proposoit de continuer. Il voyagea à Hambourg; il parcourut
  3037. > la Hollande et l'Angleterre; partout il faisoit des observations et
  3038. > rassembloit des mémoires sur l'etat du commerce et de la marine, et
  3039. > sur les principes d'administration adoptés par ces différentes nations
  3040. > relativement à ces grands objets. Il entretenoit pendant ses voyages
  3041. > une correspondance suivie avec M. de Maurepas, auquel il faisoit part
  3042. > des lumières qui'il recueilloit. -- (pp. 325, 326.)
  3044. > M. de Gournay acheta, en 1749, une charge de conseiller au grand
  3045. > conseil; et une place d'intendant du commerce etant venue à vâquer au
  3046. > commencement de 1751, M. de Machault, à qui le mérite de M. de Gournay
  3047. > etoit trèsconnu, la lui fit donner. C'est de ce moment que la vie de
  3048. > M. de Gournay devint celle d'un homme public: son entrée au Bureau du
  3049. > commerce parut être l'epoque d'une révolution. M. de Gournay, dans une
  3050. > pratique de vingt ans du commerce le plus étendu et le plus varié,
  3051. > dans la fréquentation des plus habiles négocians de Hollande et
  3052. > d'Angleterre, dans la lecture des autsurs les plus estimés de ces deux
  3053. > nations, dans l'observation attentive des causes de leur étonnante
  3054. > prospérité, s'êtoit fait des principes qui parurent nouveaux à
  3055. > quelques-uns des magistrats qui composoient le Bureau du Commerce. --
  3056. > (pp. 327, 328.)
  3058. > M. de Gournay n'ignoroit pas que plusieurs des abus auxquels il
  3059. > s'opposoit, avoient été autrefois établis dans une grande partie de
  3060. > l'Europe, et qu'il en restoit même encore des vestiges en Angleterre;
  3061. > mais il savoit aussi que le gouvernement Anglois en avoit détruit une
  3062. > partie; que s'il en restoit encore quelques-unes, bien loin de les
  3063. > adopter comme des établissemens utiles, il cherchoit à les
  3064. > restreindre, à les empêcher de s'étendre, et ne les toléroit encore,
  3065. > que parceque la constitution républicaine met quelquefois des
  3066. > obstacles à la réformation de certains abus, lorsque ces abus ne
  3067. > peuvent être corrigés que par une autorité dont l'exercice le plus
  3068. > avantageux au peuple excite toujours sa défiance. Il savoit enfin que
  3069. > depuis un siècle toutes les Personnes éclairées, soit en Hollande,
  3070. > soit en Angleterre, regardoient ces abus comme des restes de la
  3071. > barbarie Gothique et de la foiblesse de tous les gouvernemens qui
  3072. > n'avoient ni connu l'importancs de la liberté publique, ni su la
  3073. > protéger des invasions de l'esprit monopoleur et de l'intérêt
  3074. > particulier.[^41]
  3076. > M. de Gournay avoit fait et vu faire, pendant vingt ans, le plus
  3077. > grand commerce de l'univers sans avoir eu occasion d'apprendre
  3078. > autrement que par les livres l'existence de toutes ces loix auxquelles
  3079. > il voyoit attacher tant d'importance, et il ne croyoit point alors
  3080. > qu'on le prendroit pour un novateur et un homme à systêmes, lorsqu' il
  3081. > ne feroit que développer les principes que l'experience lui avoit
  3082. > enseignés, et qu'il voyoit universellement reconnus par les négocians
  3083. > les plus éclairés avec lesquels il vivoit.
  3085. > Ces principes, qu'on qualifioit de systême nouveau, ne lui
  3086. > paroissoient que les maximes du plus simple bon sens. Tout ce prétendu
  3087. > systême êtoit appuyé sur cette maxime, qu'en general tout homme
  3088. > connoit mieux son propre intérêt qu'un autre homme à qui cet intérêt
  3089. > est entièrement indifférent.[^42]
  3091. > De là M. de Gournay concluoit, que lorsque l'intérêt des particuliers
  3092. > est précisément le même que l'intérêt general, ce qu'on peut faire de
  3093. > mieux est de laisser chaque homme libre de faire ce qu'il veut. -- Or
  3094. > il trouvoit impossible que dans le commerce abandonné à lui-meme,
  3095. > l'intérêt particulier ne concourût pas avec l'intérêt général. --
  3096. > (pp. 334, 335, 336.)
  3098. In mentioning M. de Gournay's opinion on the subject of taxation, M.
  3099. Turgot does not take any notice of the source from which he derived it.
  3100. But on this head (whatever may be thought of the justness of that
  3101. opinion) there can be no doubt among those who are acquainted with the
  3102. writings of Locke and of Vanderlint.
  3104. > Il pensoit (says Turgot) que tous les impôts, sont en derniere
  3105. > analyse, toujours payés par le propriétaire, qui vend d'autant moins
  3106. > les produits de sa terre, et que si tous les impôts êtoient répartis
  3107. > sur les fonds, les propriétaires et le royaume y gagneroient tout ce
  3108. > qu' absorbent les fraix de régie, toute la consommation ou l'emploi
  3109. > stérile des hommes perdus, soit à percevoir les impôts, soit à faire
  3110. > la contrebande, soit à l'empecher, sans compter la prodigieuse
  3111. > augmentation des richesses et des valeurs résultantes de
  3112. > l'augmentation du commerce. -- (pp. 350, 351.)
  3114. In a note upon this passage by the Editor, this project of a territorial
  3115. tax, together with that of a free trade, are mentioned among the most
  3116. important points in which Gournay and Quesnay agreed perfectly
  3117. together:[^43] and it is not a little curious, that the same two
  3118. doctrines should have been combined together as parts of the same
  3119. system, in the Treatise of Vanderlint, published almost twenty years
  3120. before.[^44]
  3122. It does not appear from Turgot's account of M. de Gournay, that any of
  3123. his original works were ever published; nor have I heard that he was
  3124. known even in the capacity of a translator, prior to 1752.
  3126. > Il eut le bonheur (says M. Turgot) de rencontrer dans M. Trudaine,
  3127. > le même amour de la vérité et du bien public qui l'animoit; comme il
  3128. > n'avoit encore développé ses principes que par occasion, dans la
  3129. > discussion des affaires ou dans la conversation, M. Trudaine l'engagea
  3130. > à donner comme une espèce de corps de sa doctrine; et c'est dans cette
  3131. > vue qu'il a traduit, en 1752, les traités sur le commerce et sur
  3132. > l'intérêt de l'argent, de Josias Child et de Thomas Culpepper. -- (p.
  3133. > 354.)
  3135. I quote this passage, because it enables me to correct an inaccuracy in
  3136. point of dates, which has escaped the learned and ingenious writer to
  3137. whom we are indebted for the first complete edition which has yet
  3138. appeared of Turgot's works. After dividing the Economists into two
  3139. schools, that of Gournay, and that of Quesnay, he classes under the
  3140. former denomination (among some other very illustrious names), Mr David
  3141. Hume; whose Political Discourses, I must take the liberty of remarking,
  3142. were published as early as 1752, the very year when M. Gournay published
  3143. his translations of Child and of Culpepper.
  3145. The same writer afterwards adds:
  3147. > Entre ces deux écoles, profitant de l'une et de l'autre, mais évitant
  3148. > avec soin de paroître tenir à aucune, se sont élevés quelques
  3149. > philosophes éclectiques, à la tête desquels il faut placer M. Turgot,
  3150. > l'Abbé de Condillac, et le célèbre Adam Smith; et parmi lesquels on
  3151. > doit compter très-honorablement le traducteur de celui-ci, M. le
  3152. > Sénateur Germain Garnier, en Angleterre my Lord Landsdown, à Paris M.
  3153. > Say. à Genève M. Simonde.
  3155. How far Mr Smith has availed himself of the writings of the Economists
  3156. in his _Wealth of Nations_, it is not my present business to examine. All
  3157. that I wish to establish is, his indisputable claim to the same opinions
  3158. which he professed in common with them, several years before the names
  3159. of either Gournay or of Quesnay were at all heard of in the republic of
  3160. letters.
  3162. With respect to a very distinguished and enlightened English statesman,
  3163. who is here included along with Mr Smith among the eclectic disciples of
  3164. Gournay and of Quesnay, I am enabled to state, from his own authority,
  3165. the accidental circumstance which first led him into this train of
  3166. thought. In a letter which I had the honour to receive from his Lordship
  3167. in 1795, he expresses himself thus:
  3169. > I owe to a journey I made with Mr Smith from Edinburgh to London, the
  3170. > difference between light and darkness through the best part of my
  3171. > life. The novelty of his principles, added to my youth and prejudices,
  3172. > made me unable to comprehend them at the time, but he urged them with
  3173. > so much benevolence, as well as eloquence, that they took a certain
  3174. > hold, which, though it did not develope itself so as to arrive at full
  3175. > conviction for some few years after, I can fairly say, has
  3176. > constituted, ever since, the happiness of my life, as well as any
  3177. > little consideration I may have enjoyed in it.
  3179. As the current of public opinion, at a particular period (or at least
  3180. the prevailing habits of study), may be pretty accurately judged of by
  3181. the books which were then chiefly in demand, it may be worth mentioning,
  3182. before I conclude this note, that in the year 1751 (the same year in
  3183. which Mr Smith was promoted to his professorship), several of our
  3184. choicest tracts on subjects connected with political economy were
  3185. re-published by Robert and Andrew Foulis, printers to the University of
  3186. Glasgow. A book of Mr Law's entitled, _Proposals and Reasons for
  3187. constituting a Council of Trade in Scotland_, etc. reprinted in that
  3188. year, is now lying before me; from which it appears, that the following
  3189. works had recently issued from the university press: -- Child's
  3190. _Discourse of Trade_; Law's _Essay on Money and Trade_; Gee's _Trade and
  3191. Navigation of Great Britain considered_; and Berkeley's _Querist_. In the
  3192. same list, Sir William Petty's _Political Arithmetic_ is advertised as
  3193. being then in the press.
  3195. Mr Smith's Lectures, it must be remembered (to the fame of which he owed
  3196. his appointment at Glasgow), were read at Edinburgh as early as 1748.
  3199. ### Note (J.)
  3201. Among the questionable doctrines to which Mr Smith has lent the sanction
  3202. of his name, there is perhaps none that involves so many important
  3203. consequences as the opinion he has maintained concerning the expediency
  3204. of legal restrictions on the rate of interest. The inconclusiveness of
  3205. his reasoning on this point, has been evinced, with a singular degree of
  3206. logical acuteness, by Mr Bentham, in a short treatise entitled _A Defence
  3207. of Usury_; a performance to which (notwithstanding the long interval that
  3208. has elapsed since the date of its publication), I do not know that any
  3209. answer has yet been attempted; and which a late writer, eminently
  3210. acquainted with the operations of commerce, has pronounced (and, in my
  3211. opinion, with great truth), to be "perfectly unanswerable."[^45] It is a
  3212. remarkable circumstance, that Mr Smith should, in this solitary
  3213. instance, have adopted, on such slight grounds, a conclusion so
  3214. strikingly contrasted with the general spirit of his political
  3215. discussions, and so manifestly at variance with the fundamental
  3216. principles which, on other occasions, he has so boldly followed out,
  3217. through all their practical applications. This is the more surprising,
  3218. as the French Economists had, a few years before, obviated the most
  3219. plausible objections which are apt to present themselves against this
  3220. extension of the doctrine of commercial freedom. See, in particular,
  3221. some observations in M. Turgot's _Reflections on the Formation and
  3222. Distribution of Riches_; and a separate Essay, by the same author,
  3223. entitled, _Mémoire sur le prêt à interêt, et sur le Commerce des
  3224. Fers_.[^46]
  3226. Upon this particular question, however, as well as upon those mentioned
  3227. in the preceding Note, I must be allowed to assert the prior claims of
  3228. our own countrymen to those of the Economists. From a memoir presented
  3229. by the celebrated Mr Law (before his elevation to the ministry), to the
  3230. Regent Duke of Orleans, that very ingenious writer appears to have held
  3231. the same opinion with M. Turgot; and the arguments he employs in support
  3232. of it are expressed with that clearness and conciseness which, in
  3233. general, distinguish his compositions. The memoir to which I refer is to
  3234. be found in a French work entitled, Recherches et Considérations sur les
  3235. Finances de France, depuis 1595 jusqu'en 1721. (See Vol. VI. p. 181.
  3236. Edit. printed at Liège, 1758.) In the same volume, this doctrine is
  3237. ascribed by the editor, to Mr Law as its author, or, at least, as its
  3238. first broacher in France. 'Une opinion apportée en France pour la
  3239. première fois par M. Law, c'est que l'etat ne doit jamais donner de
  3240. réglemens sur le taux de l'interêt. -- p. 64.
  3242. To this opinion Law appears evidently to have been led by Locke, whose
  3243. reasonings (although he himself declares in favour of a legal rate of
  3244. interest), seem, all of them, to point at the opposite conclusion.
  3245. Indeed the apology he suggests for the existing regulations is so
  3246. trifling and so slightly urged, that one would almost suppose he was
  3247. prevented merely by a respect for established prejudices, from pushing
  3248. his argument to its full extent. The passage I allude to, considering
  3249. the period when it was written, does no small credit to Locke's
  3250. sagacity. -- (See the folio edit. of his Works, Vol. II. p. 31, et seq.)
  3252. I would not have entered here into the historical details contained in
  3253. the two last Notes, if I had not been anxious to obviate the effect of
  3254. that weak, but inveterate prejudice which shuts the eyes of so many
  3255. against the most manifest and important truths, when they are supposed
  3256. to proceed from an obnoxious quarter. The leading opinions which the
  3257. French Economists embodied and systematized were, in fact, all of
  3258. British origin; and most of them follow as necessary consequences, from
  3259. a maxim of natural law, which (according to Lord Coke), is identified
  3260. with the first principles of English jurisprudence. "La loi de la
  3261. libgrté entière de tout commerce est un corollaire du droit de
  3262. propriété."
  3264. The truly exceptionable part of the economical system (as I have
  3265. elsewhere remarked), is that which relates to the power of the
  3266. Sovereign. Its original authors and patrons were the decided opposers of
  3267. political liberty, and, in their zeal for the right of property and the
  3268. freedom of commerce, lost sight of the only means by which either the
  3269. one or the other can be effectually protected.
  3272. ### Note (K.)
  3274. In the early part of Mr Smith's life it is well known to his friends,
  3275. that he was for several years attached to a young lady of great beauty
  3276. and accomplishment. How far his addresses were favourably received, or
  3277. what the circumstances were which prevented their union, I have not been
  3278. able to learn; but I believe it is pretty certain that, after this
  3279. disappointment, he laid aside all thoughts of marriage. The lady to whom
  3280. I allude died also unmarried. She survived Mr Smith for a considerable
  3281. number of years, and was alive long after the publication of the first
  3282. edition of this Memoir. I had the pleasure of seeing her when she was
  3283. turned of eighty, and when she still retained evident traces of her
  3284. former beauty. The powers of her understanding and the gaiety of her
  3285. temper seemed to have suffered nothing from the hand of time.
  3287. **END OF THE NOTES**
  3289. ----
  3291. P.S. Soon after the foregoing account of Mr Smith was read before the
  3292. Royal Society, a Volume of his Posthumous Essays was published by his
  3293. executors and friends, Dr Black and Dr Hutton. In this volume are
  3294. contained three _Essays on the Principles which lead and direct
  3295. Philosophical Inquiries_; -- illustrated, in the first place, by the
  3296. _History of Astronomy_; in the second, by the _History of the Ancient
  3297. Physics_; in the third, by the _History of the Ancient Logics and
  3298. Metaphysics_. To these are subjoined three other Essays; -- on the
  3299. _Imitative Arts_; on the _Affinity between certain English and Italian
  3300. Verses_; and on the _External Senses_.
  3302. > The greater part of them appear (as is observed in an advertisement
  3303. > subscribed by the Editors) to be parts of a plan the Author had once
  3304. > formed, for giving a connected history of the liberal sciences and
  3305. > elegant arts. -- This plan (we are informed by the same authority)
  3306. > he had long abandoned as far too extensive; and these parts of it lay
  3307. > beside him neglected till his death.
  3309. As this posthumous volume did not appear till after the publication of
  3310. the foregoing Memoir, it would be foreign to the design of these Notes,
  3311. to offer any observations on the different Essays which it contains.
  3312. Their merits were certainly not overrated by the two illustrious
  3313. editors, when they expressed their hopes, "that the reader would find in
  3314. them that happy connection, that full and accurate expression, and that
  3315. clear illustration which are conspicuous in the rest of the author's
  3316. works; and that, though it is difficult to add much to the great fame he
  3317. so justly acquired by his other writings, these would be read with
  3318. satisfaction and pleasure." The three first _Essays_, more particularly
  3319. the fragment on the _History of Astronomy_, are perhaps as strongly marked
  3320. as any of his most finished compositions, with the peculiar
  3321. characteristics of his rich, original, and comprehensive mind.
  3323. In order to obviate a cavil which may possibly occur to some of those
  3324. readers who were not personally acquainted with Mr Smith, I shall take
  3325. this opportunity of mentioning, that in suppressing, through the course
  3326. of the foregoing narrative, his honorary title of LL. D. (which was
  3327. conferred on him by the University of Glasgow a very short time before
  3328. he resigned his Professorship), I have complied not only with his own
  3329. taste, but with the uniform practice of that circle in which I had the
  3330. happiness of enjoying his society. To have given him, so soon after his
  3331. death, a designation, which he never assumed but on the title-pages of
  3332. his books; and by which he is never mentioned in the letters of Mr Hume
  3333. and of his other most intimate friends, would have subjected me justly
  3334. to the charge of affectation from the audience before whom my paper was
  3335. read; but the truth is (so little was my ear then accustomed to the name
  3336. of Doctor Smith), that I was altogether unconscious of the omission,
  3337. till it was pointed out to me, several years afterwards, as a
  3338. circumstance which, however trifling, had been magnified by more than
  3339. one critic, into a subject of grave animadversion.
  3343. <!-- Footnotes -->
  3345. [^1]: Mr Smith, the father, was a native of Aberdeenshire, and, in the
  3346. earlier part of his life, practised at Edinburgh as a writer of the
  3347. signet. He was afterwards private secretary to the Earl of Loudoun
  3348. (during the time he held the offices of principal secretary of state for
  3349. Scotland and of keeper of the great seal), and continued in this
  3350. situation till 1713 or 1714, when he was appointed comptroller of the
  3351. customs at Kirkaldy. He was also clerk to the courts-martial and
  3352. councils of war for Scotland; and office which he held from 1707 till
  3353. his death. As it is now seventy years since he died, the accounts I have
  3354. received of him are very imperfect; but, from the particulars already
  3355. mentioned, it may be presumed that he was a man of more than common
  3356. abilities.
  3358. [^2]: See Note A.
  3360. [^3]: George Drysdale. Esq. of Kirkaldy, brother of the late Dr Drysdale.
  3362. [^4]: As the word exhibitioner has misled a French author, to whose
  3363. critical acquaintance with the English language I am indebted for a very
  3364. elegant translation of this memoir. I think it proper to mention, that
  3365. it is used here to denote a student who enjoys a salary to assist him in
  3366. carrying on his academical education. "The word Exhibition" (says
  3367. Johnson) "is much used for pensions allowed to scholars at the
  3368. university." -- In the translation above referred to, as well as in the
  3369. Notice prefixed to M. Garnier's translation of the _Wealth of Nations_,
  3370. the clause in the text is thus rendered: il entra au college de Baliol à
  3371. Oxford, en qualité de démonstrateur de la fondation de Snell.
  3373. With respect to Snell's foundation ('the largest, perhaps, and most
  3374. liberal in Britain'), see the _Statistical Account of the University
  3375. of Glasgow_ by Dr Thomas Reid.
  3377. [^5]: _Redargutio Philosophiarum_. ("Although he had not taken up politics,
  3378. he was by nature and entire disposition inclined towards civil affairs,
  3379. and his talents tended chiefly in that direction; nor was he
  3380. particularly concerned about Natural Philosophy, except to the degree it
  3381. should suffice for maintaining the good name and fame of Philosophy, and
  3382. adding to moral and civil disciplines and shedding on them a kind of
  3383. majesty.")
  3385. [^6]: See Note B.
  3387. [^7]: The uncommon degree in which Mr Smith retained possession, even to
  3388. the close of his life, of different branches of knowledge which he had
  3389. long ceased to cultivate, has been often remarked to me by my learned
  3390. colleague and friend, Mr Dalzel, Professor of Greek in the University.
  3391. -- Mr Dalzel mentioned particularly the readiness and correctness of Mr
  3392. Smith's memory on philological subjects, and the acuteness and skill he
  3393. displayed in various conversations with him on some of the minutiae of
  3394. Greek grammar.
  3396. [^8]: Mr Millar, the late celebrated Professor of Law in the University of
  3397. Glasgow.
  3399. [^9]: See Note C
  3401. [^10]: See the letter quoted in Note D.
  3403. [^11]: See his _Natural History of Religion_.
  3405. [^12]: Published afterwards under the title of _An Essay on the History of
  3406. Civil Society_.
  3408. [^13]: I mention this fact on the respectable authority of James Ritchie,
  3409. Esq. of Glasgow.
  3411. [^14]: The day after his arrival at Paris, Mr Smith sent a formal
  3412. resignation of his Professorship to the Rector of the University of
  3413. Glasgow. "I never was more anxious (says he in the conclusion of this
  3414. letter) for the good of the College, than at this moment; and I
  3415. sincerely wish, that whoever is my successor may not only do credit to
  3416. the office by his abilities, but be a comfort to the very excellent men
  3417. with whom he is likely to spend his life, by the probity of his heart,
  3418. and the goodness of his temper."
  3420. The following extract from the records of the University, which
  3421. follows immediately after Mr Smith's letter of resignation, is at
  3422. once a testimony to his assiduity as a Professor, and a proof of the
  3423. just sense which that learned body entertained of the talents and
  3424. worth of the colleague they had lost:
  3426. > The meeting accept of Dr Smith's resignation, in terms of the
  3427. > above letter, and the office of Professor of Moral Philosophy in
  3428. > this University is therefore hereby declared to be vacant. The
  3429. > University, at the same time, cannot help expressing their sincere
  3430. > regret at the removal of Dr Smith, whose distinguished probity and
  3431. > amiable qualities procured him the esteem and affection of his
  3432. > colleagues; and whose uncommon genius, great abilities, and
  3433. > extensive learning, did so much honour to this society; his
  3434. > elegant and ingenious _Theory of Moral Sentiments_ having
  3435. > recommended him to the esteem of men of taste and literature
  3436. > throughout Europe. His happy talent in illustrating abstracted
  3437. > subjects, and faithful assiduity in communicating useful
  3438. > knowledge, distinguished him as a Professor, and at once afforded
  3439. > the greatest pleasure and the most important instruction to the
  3440. > youth under his care.
  3442. [^15]: See note E.
  3444. [^16]: The following letter, which has been very accidently preserved,
  3445. while it serves as a memorial of Mr Smith's connection with the family
  3446. of Rochefoucauld, is so expressive of the virtuous and liberal mind of
  3447. the writer, that I am persuaded it will give pleasure to the Society to
  3448. record it in their Transactions.
  3450. > Paris, 3 Mars 1778.
  3452. > Le desir de se rappeller à votre souvenir, Monsieur, quand on a eu
  3453. > l'honneur de vous connoître, doit vous paroitre fort naturel;
  3454. > permettez que nous saisissions pour cela, ma Mère et moi,
  3455. > l'occasion d'une edition nouvelle des Maximes de la Rochefoucauld,
  3456. > dont nous prenons la liberté de vous offrir un exemplaire. Vous
  3457. > voyez que nous n'avons point de rancune, puisque le mal que vous
  3458. > avez dit de lui dans la Théorie des Sentimens Moroux, ne nous
  3459. > empêche point de vous envoyer ce même ouvrage. Il s'en est même
  3460. > fallu de pue que je ne fisse encore plus, car j'avois eu peut-être
  3461. > la témérité d'entreprendre une traduction de votre Théorie; mais
  3462. > comme je venois de terminer la première partie, j'ai vu paroître
  3463. > la traduction de M. l'Abbé Balvet, et j'ai été forcé de renoncer
  3464. > au plaisir que j'aurois eu de faire passer dans ma langue un des
  3465. > meilleurs ouvrages de la vôtre. [See note F]
  3467. > Il auroit bien fallu pour lors entreprendre une justification de
  3468. > mon grandpère. Peut-être n'auroit-il pas été difficile,
  3469. > premièrement de l'excuser, en disant, qu'il avoit toujours vu les
  3470. > hommes à la Cour, et dans la guerre civile, deux théatres sur
  3471. > lesquels ils sont certainement plus mauvais qu'ailleurs; et
  3472. > ensuite de justifier par la conduite personelle de l'auteur, les
  3473. > principes qui sont certainement trop généralisés dans son ouvrage.
  3474. > Il a pris la partie pour la tout; et parceque les gens qu'il avoit
  3475. > eu le plus sous les yeux étoient animés par l'amour propre, il en
  3476. > a fait le mobile général de tous les hommes. Au reste, quoique son
  3477. > ouvrage merite à certains égards d'être combattu, il est cependant
  3478. > estimable même pour le fond, et beaucoup pour la forme.
  3480. > Permittez-moi de vous demander, si nou aurons bientôt une édition
  3481. > complette des oeuvres de votre illustre ami M. Hume? Nous l'avons
  3482. > sincèrement regretté.
  3484. > Recevez, je vous supplie, l'expression sincère de tous les
  3485. > sentimens d'estime et d'attachement avec lesquels j'ai l'honneur
  3486. > d'être, Monsieur, votre très humble et très obeissant serviteur.
  3488. > Le Duc de la Rochfoucauld.
  3490. Mr Smith's last intercourse with this excellent man was in the year
  3491. 1789,when he informed him, by means of a friend who happened to be
  3492. then in Paris, that in the future editions of his Theory the name of
  3493. Rochefoucauld should no longer be classed with that of Mandeville.
  3494. In the enlarged edition, accordingly, of that work, published a
  3495. short time before his death, he has suppressed his censure of the
  3496. author of the Maximes; who seems indeed (however exceptionable many
  3497. of his principles may be) to have been actuated, both in his life
  3498. and writings, by motives very different from those of Mandeville.
  3499. The real scope of these maxims is placed, I think, in a just light
  3500. by the ingenious author of the notice to the edition of them
  3501. published at Paris in 1778.
  3503. [^17]: See the Preface to Voltarie's _Oedipe_, edit. of 1729.
  3505. [^18]: The length to which this Memoir has already extended, together
  3506. with some other reasons which it is unnecessary to mention here, have
  3507. induced me, in printing the following section, to confine myself to a
  3508. much more general view of the subject than I once intended. See Note G.
  3510. [^19]: See the conclusion of his _Theory of Moral Sentiments_.
  3512. [^20]: <!-- --> _Science de la Legislation, par le Chev. Filangieri_, Liv. i.
  3513. chap. 13.
  3515. [^21]: <!-- --> _Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind_, p. 261.
  3517. [^22]: See Note H.
  3519. [^23]: In proof of this, it is sufficient for me to appeal to a short
  3520. history of the progress of political economy in France, published in one
  3521. of the volumes of _Ephémérides du Citoyen_. See the first part of the
  3522. volume for the year 1769. The paper is entitled, _Notice abrégée des
  3523. différens Ecrits modernes, qui on concouru en France à former la science
  3524. de l'economie politique_.
  3526. [^24]: See Note I.
  3528. [^25]: See Note J.
  3530. [^26]: See _Annual Register_ for the year 1776.
  3532. [^27]: Some very affecting instances of Mr Smith's beneficence, in cases
  3533. where he found it impossible to conceal entirely his good offices, have
  3534. been mentioned to me by a near relation of his, and one of his most
  3535. confidential friends, Miss Ross, daughter of the late Patrick Ross, Esq.
  3536. of Innernethy. They were all on a scale much beyond what might have been
  3537. expected from his fortune; and were accompanied with circumstances
  3538. equally honourable to the delicacy of his feelings and the liberality of
  3539. his heart.
  3541. [^28]: Mr Smith observed to me, not long before his death, that after all
  3542. his practice in writing, he composed slowly, and with as great
  3543. difficulty, as at first. He added, at the same time, that Mr Hume had
  3544. acquired so great a facility in this respect, that the last volumes of
  3545. his History were printed from his original copy, with a few marginal
  3546. corrections.
  3548. It may gratify the curiosity of some readers to know, that when Mr
  3549. Smith was employed in composition, he generally walked up and down
  3550. his apartment, dictating to a secretary. All Mr Hume's works (I have
  3551. been assured) were written in his own hand. A critical reader may, I
  3552. think, perceive in the different styles of these two classical
  3553. writers, the effects of their different modes of study.
  3555. [^29]: See Note K.
  3557. [^30]: Since writing the above, I have been favoured by Dr Hutton
  3558. with the following particulars.
  3560. > "Some time before his last illness, when Mr Smith had occasion to go
  3561. to London, he enjoined his friends, to whom he had entrusted the
  3562. disposal of his manuscripts, that, in the event of his death, they
  3563. should destroy all the volumes of his lectures, doing with the rest
  3564. of his manuscripts what they pleased. When now he had become weak,
  3565. and saw the approaching period of his life, he spoke to his friends
  3566. again upon the same subject. They entreated him to make his mind
  3567. easy, as he might depend upon their fulfilling his desire. He was
  3568. then satisfied. But some days afterwards, finding his anxiety not
  3569. entirely removed, he begged one of them to destroy the volumes
  3570. immediately. This accordingly was done; and his mind was so much
  3571. relieved, that he was able to receive his friends in the evening
  3572. with his usual complacency.
  3574. > They had been in use to sup with him every Sunday; and that
  3575. > evening there was a pretty numerous meeting of them. Mr Smith not
  3576. > finding himself able to sit up with them as usual, retired to bed
  3577. > before supper; and, as he went away, took leave of his friends by
  3578. > saying "I believe we must adjourn this meeting to some other
  3579. > place." He died a very few days afterwards."
  3581. > Mr Riddell, an intimate friend of Mr Smith's, who was present at
  3582. > one of the conversations on the subject of the manuscripts,
  3583. > mentioned to me, in addition to Dr Hutton's note, that Mr Smith
  3584. > regretted "he had done so little". But I meant (said he) to have
  3585. > done more; and there are materials in my papers, of which I could
  3586. > have made a great deal. But that is now out of the question.
  3588. That the idea of destroying such unfinished works as might be in his
  3589. possession at the time of his death, was not the effect of any
  3590. sudden or hasty resolution, appears from the following letter to Mr
  3591. Hume, written by Mr Smith in 1773, at a time when he was preparing
  3592. himself for a journey to London, with the prospect of a pretty long
  3593. absence from Scotland.
  3595. > Edinburgh, 16th April 1773.
  3597. > My dear Friend,
  3599. > As I have left the care of all my literary papers to you,
  3600. I must tell you, that except those which I carry along with me,
  3601. there are none worth the publication, but a fragment of a great
  3602. work, which contains a history of the astronomical systems that were
  3603. successively in fashion down to the time of Des Cartes. Whether
  3604. that might not be published as a fragment of an intended juvenile
  3605. work, I leave entirely to your judgment, though I begin to suspect
  3606. myself that there is paper book in my back room. All the other loose
  3607. papers which you will find in that desk, or within the glass folding
  3608. doors of a bureau which stands in my bed room, together with about
  3609. eighteen thin paper folio books, which you will likewise find within
  3610. the same glass folding doors, I desire to be destroyed without any
  3611. examination. Unless I die very suddenly, I shall take care that the
  3612. papers I carry with me shall be carefully sent to you.
  3614. > I ever am, my dear Friend, most faithfully your's,
  3616. > Adam Smith.
  3619. > To David Hume, Esq.
  3621. > St Andrew's Square.
  3624. [^31]: Ultimately a Senator of the College of Justice, under the title of
  3625. Lord Reston.
  3627. [^32]: Vide, Works, vol. vii pp. 35, 36, 329, seq., 407, seq.
  3629. [^33]: I shall have occasion afterwards to vindicate Mr Smith's claims to
  3630. originality in the former of these works, against the pretensions of
  3631. some foreign writers. As I do not mean, however, to recur again to his
  3632. alleged plagiarisms from the ancients. I shall introduce here, though
  3633. somewhat out of place, two short quotations; from which it will appear,
  3634. that the germ of his speculations concerning national wealth, as well as
  3635. concerning the principles of ethics, is (according to Dr Gillies) to
  3636. found in the Greek philosophers.
  3638. "By adopting Aristotle's principles on the subjects of exchangeable
  3639. value, and of national wealth, Dr Smith has rescued the science of
  3640. political economy from many false subtilties and many gross errors."
  3641. Vol. I. p. 377, 2d edit.
  3643. "The subject of money is treated above, Vol. I. p. 374, et seq. In
  3644. that passage, compared with another in the _Magna Moralia_, we find
  3645. the fundamental principles of the modern economists." Vol. II. p.
  3646. 43.
  3648. In reply to these observations, I have only to request my readers to
  3649. compare them with the well-known passage in the first book of
  3650. Aristotle's _Politics_, with respect to the lawfulness of usury. When
  3651. we consider how much the interest of money enters as an element into
  3652. all our modern disquisitions concerning commercial policy, is it
  3653. possible to imagine, that there should be any thing more than the
  3654. most general and fortuitous coincidence between the reasonings of
  3655. such writers as Smith, or Hume, or Turgot; and those of an author
  3656. whose experience of the nature and effects of commerce was so
  3657. limited, as to impress his mind with a conviction, that to receive a
  3658. premium for the use of money was inconsistent with the rules of
  3659. morality? Compare the subsequent edition of Gillies's _Ethics and
  3660. Politics of Aristotle_.
  3662. [^34]: Probably William Ward, A.M. master of the Grammar School of
  3663. Beverley, Yorkshire, who, among other grammatical works, published An
  3664. _Essay on Grammar as it may be applied to the English Language, in two
  3665. Treatises,_ etc., 4to, 1765, which is perhaps the most philosophical
  3666. Essay on the English language extant.
  3668. [^35]: In regard to Adam Smith's originality on various points of Political
  3669. Economy, I may refer in general, to Vols. VIII and IX, in which Mr
  3670. Stewart's Lectures on this science are contained.
  3672. [^36]: That the writers of this Island should have had the start of those
  3673. in the greater part of Europe, in adopting enlightened ideas concerning
  3674. commerce, will not appear surprising, when we consider that "according
  3675. to the Common Law of England, the freedom of trade is the birthright of
  3676. the subject." For the opinions of Lord Coke and of Lord Chief-Justice
  3677. Fortescue, on this point, see a pamphlet by Lord Lauderdale, entitled,
  3678. _Hints to the Manufacturers of Great Britain_, etc.; where also may be
  3679. found a list of statutes containing recognitions and declarations of the
  3680. above principle.
  3682. [^37]: According to the statement of Lord Herbert of Cherbury, the
  3683. following doctrine was delivered in the English House of Commons by Sir
  3684. Thomas More (then speaker), almost three centuries ago. "I say
  3685. confidently, you need not fear this penury or scarceness of money; the
  3686. intercourse of things being so establish'd throughout the whole world,
  3687. that there is a perpetual derivation of all that can be necessary to
  3688. mankind. Thus, your commodities will ever find out money; while, not to
  3689. go far, I shall produce our own merchants only, who, (let me assure you)
  3690. will be always as glad of your corn and cattel as you can be of any
  3691. thing they bring you." -- The Life and Reign of King Henry the Eighth,
  3692. London, 1672, p. 135.
  3694. It is not a little discouraging to reflect, that the mercantile
  3695. prejudice here combated by this great man, has not yet yielded
  3696. entirely to all the philosophical lights of the 18th century.
  3698. [^38]: 'Money Answers all Things' etc. etc. London, 1734.
  3700. [^39]: Lord Lauderdale has traced some hints of what are commonly
  3701. considered as the peculiarities of the economical system, in various
  3702. British publications now almost forgotten. The following extract, from a
  3703. Treatise published by Mr Asgill, in 1696, breathes the very spirit of
  3704. Quesnay's philosophy.
  3706. > 'What we call commodities is nothing but land severed from the soil.
  3707. Man deals in nothing but earth. The merchants are the factors of the
  3708. world, to exchange one part of the earth for another. The king
  3709. himself is fed by the labour of the ox: and the clothing of the
  3710. army, and victualling of the navy, must all be paid for to the owner
  3711. of the soil as the ultimate receiver. All things in the world are
  3712. originally the produce of the ground, and there must all things be
  3713. raised.' -- (_Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Public Wealth_.
  3714. p. 113)
  3716. The title of Asgill's Treatise is, 'Several assertions proved, in
  3717. order to create another species of Money than Gold.' Its object was
  3718. to support Dr Chamberlayne's proposition for a Land Bank, which he
  3719. laid before the British House of Commons in 1693, and before the
  3720. Scottish Parliament in 1703.
  3722. [^40]: It is but justice to the Economists to add, that they have laid more
  3723. stress than any other class of writers whatsoever, on the principles of
  3724. political economy, considered in their connection with the intellectual
  3725. and moral character of a people.
  3727. [^41]: Some of these liberal principles found their way into France before
  3728. the end of the 17th century. -- See a very curious book entitled, _Le
  3729. Détail de la France sous le Règne Présent_. The first edition (which I
  3730. have never met with), appeared in 1698 or 1699; the second was printed
  3731. in 1707. Both editions are anonymous; but the author is well known to
  3732. have been M. de Bois-Guilbert; to whom Voltaire has also (erroneously)
  3733. ascribed the _Projet d'une dixme Royale_, published in the name of the
  3734. Maréchal de Vauban. (See the _Ephémérides du Citoyen_ for the year 1769.
  3735. Tome IX. pp. 12, 13.)
  3737. The fortunate expression _laissez nous faire_, which an old merchant
  3738. (Le Gendre) is said to have used in a conversation with Colbert; and
  3739. the still more significant maxim of the Marquis d'Argenson, _pas trop
  3740. gouverner_, are indebted chiefly for that proverbial celebrity which
  3741. they have now acquired, to the accidental lustre reflected upon them
  3742. by the discussion of more modern times. They must, at the same time,
  3743. be allowed to evince in their authors, a clear perception of the
  3744. importance of a problem, which Mr Burke has somewhat pronounced to
  3745. be 'one of the finest in legislation; -- to ascertain, what the
  3746. state ought to take upon itself to direct by the public wisdom; and
  3747. what it ought to leave, with as little interference as possible, to
  3748. individual discretion.' The solution of this problem, in some of its
  3749. most interesting cases, may be regarded as one of the principal
  3750. objects of Mr Smith's _Inquiry_; and among the many happy changes
  3751. which that work has gradually produced in prevailing opinions, none
  3752. is, perhaps, of greater consequence, than its powerful effect in
  3753. discrediting that empirical spirit of tampering Regulation, which
  3754. the multitude is so apt to mistake for the provident sagacity of
  3755. political experience.
  3757. [^42]: I have endeavoured, in a former work, to vindicate, upon the very
  3758. same principle, some of Mr Smith's political speculation against the
  3759. charge of being founded rather on theory than on actual experience. I
  3760. was not aware, till very lately, that this view of the subject had been
  3761. sanctioned by such high authorities as M. de Gournay and M. Turgot. --
  3762. See _Philosophy of the Human Mind_, pp. 254, 255, 256, 3d edit.
  3764. [^43]: Ceci est, avec la liberté du commerce et du travail, un des
  3765. principaux points sur lesquels M. de Gournay et M. Quesnay on été
  3766. complettement d'accord.
  3768. [^44]: I have already quoted, from Vanderlint, his opinion about the
  3769. freedom of trade. His ideas with respect to taxation I shall also state
  3770. in his own words: "I can't dismiss this head without shewing, that if
  3771. all the taxes were taken off goods, and levied on lands and houses only,
  3772. the gentlemen would have more nett rent left out of their estates, than
  3773. they have now when the taxes are almost wholly levied out of goods." For
  3774. his argument in proof of this proposition, see his Essay on Money, p.
  3775. 109 et seq. See also Locke's Considerations on the lowering of interest
  3776. and raising the Value of Money; published in 1691.
  3778. As to the discovery (as it has been called) of the luminous
  3779. distinction between the 'produit total' and the 'produit net de la
  3780. culture', [See the Ephémérides du Citoyen for the year 1769, T. I
  3781. pp. 13, 25 and 26, and T. IX, p. 9.] it is not worth while to
  3782. dispute about its author. Whatever merit this theory of taxation may
  3783. possess, the whole credit of it evidently belongs to those who first
  3784. proposed the doctrine stated in the foregoing paragraph. The
  3785. calculations of M. Quesnay, however interesting and useful they may
  3786. have appeared in a country where so great a proportion of the
  3787. territory was cultivated by Métayers or Coloni Partiarii, cannot
  3788. surely be considered as throwing any new light on the general
  3789. principles of Political Economy.
  3791. [^45]: Sir Francis Baring, _Pamphlet on the Bank of England_.
  3793. [^46]: In an Essay read before a literary society in Glasgow, some years
  3794. before the publication of the _Wealth of Nations_, Dr Reid disputed the
  3795. expediency of legal restrictions on the rate of interest; founding his
  3796. opinion on some of the same considerations which were afterwards so
  3797. forcibly stated by Mr Bentham. His attention had probably been attracted
  3798. to this question by a very weak defence of these restrictions in Sir
  3799. James Steuart's Political Economy; a book which had then been recently
  3800. published, and which (though he differed widely from many of its
  3801. doctrines), he was accustomed, in his academical lectures, to recommend
  3802. warmly to his students. It was indeed the only systematical work on the
  3803. subject that had appeared in our language, previous to Mr Smith Inquiry.
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