Life of Adam Smith eBook

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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 551 pages of information about Life of Adam Smith.

[143] Hume Correspondence, R.S.E.  Library.

[144] Burton’s Letters of Eminent Persons to David Hume, p. 37.

[145] Wealth of Nations, Book II. chap. iii.

[146] Wealth of Nations, Book I. chap. xi.

[147] The Duke’s servant.

[148] Hume Correspondence, R.S.E.  Library.

[149] Hume Correspondence, R.S.E.  Library.

[150] Stephen’s Life of Horne Tooke, i. 75.

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

[152] Tocqueville, State of Society in France, pp. 265, 271.

[153] Hume Correspondence, R.S.E.  Library.



In the end of August Smith and his pupils left Toulouse and made what Stewart calls an extensive tour in the South of France.  Of this tour no other record remains, but the Duke’s aunt, Lady Mary Coke, incidentally mentions that when they were at Marseilles they visited the porcelain factory, and that the Duke bought two of the largest services ever sold there, for which he paid more than L150 sterling.  They seem to have arrived in Geneva some time in October, and stayed about two months in the little republic of which, as we have seen, Smith had long been a fervent admirer.  In making so considerable a sojourn at Geneva, he was no doubt influenced as a political philosopher by the desire to see something of the practical working of those republican institutions which he regarded speculatively with so much favour, to observe how the common problems of government worked themselves out on the narrow field of a commonwealth with only 24,000 inhabitants all told, which yet contrived to keep its place among the nations, to sit sometimes as arbiter between them, and to surpass them all in the art of making its people prosperous.  He had the luck to observe it at an interesting moment, for it was in the thick of a constitutional crisis.  The government of the republic had hitherto been vested in the hands of 200 privileged families, and the rest of the citizens were now pressing their right to a share in it, with the active assistance of Voltaire.  This important struggle for the conversion of the aristocratic into the democratic republic continued all through the period of Smith’s visit, and the city of Geneva, which in its usual state was described by Voltaire as “a tedious convent with some sensible people in it,” was day after day at this time the animated scene of the successive acts of that political drama.

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