Life of Adam Smith eBook

John Rae (educator)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 551 pages of information about Life of Adam Smith.

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

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


[154] Clayden’s Early Life of Samuel Rogers, p. 110.

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

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Life of Adam Smith from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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