Life of Adam Smith eBook

John Rae (educator)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 458 pages of information about Life of Adam Smith.

[194] Wealth of Nations, Book V. chap. ii. art. iv.

CHAPTER XV

LONDON

1766-1767. Aet. 43

Arriving in London early in November, Smith seems to have remained on in the capital for the next six months.  The body of his unfortunate pupil, which he brought over with him, was ultimately buried in the family vault at Dalkeith, for Dr. Norman Macleod and Mr. Steel say so; but the interment there does not seem to have taken place immediately after the arrival from France, for the London journals, which announce the Duke of Buccleugh’s landing at Dover on the 1st of November, mention his presence at the Guildhall with his stepfather, Mr. Townshend, Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the 10th, Lord Mayor’s Day; and the Duke, who is stated by Dr. Macleod to have brought his brother’s remains north, could not have been to Scotland and back in that interval.  Smith was accordingly not required to proceed to Scotland on that sad duty, and on the 22nd of November Andrew Millar, the publisher, writing to David Hume in Edinburgh, mentions the fact that Smith was then in London and moving about among the great.  This letter was written about a question on which Hume had sought Smith’s counsel, and on which Millar had held some conversation with Smith, the upshot of which he now communicates to Hume—­the question whether he should continue his History of England.  While Smith was still in Paris Hume had written saying:  “Some push me to continue my History.  Millar offers any price.  All the Marlborough papers are offered me, and I believe nobody would venture to refuse me, but cui bono? Why should I forego dalliance and sauntering and society, and expose myself again to the clamours of a stupid factious public?  I am not yet tired of doing nothing, and am become too wise either to want censure or praise.  By and by I shall be too old to undergo so much labour."[195]

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

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Life of Adam Smith from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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