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.
and the heads of Colleges at Oxford raised a process in the Court of Chancery for compelling the Snell exhibitioners “to submit and conform to the doctrines and discipline of the Church of England, and to enter into holy orders when capable thereof by the canons of the Church of England”; but the Court of Chancery refused to interfere, and the exhibitioners were left entirely free to choose their sect, their profession, and their country, as seemed best to themselves.  It may be added that in Smith’s time the Snell foundation yielded five exhibitions of L40 a year each, tenable for eleven years.

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


[8] Theory of Moral Sentiments, i. 313.

[9] Stewart’s Works, vii. 263.



1740-1746. Aet. 17-23

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

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Life of Adam Smith from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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