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.

Smith was himself publishing with Millar at this time a new edition of his Theory of Moral Sentiments—­the third, which appeared in 1767, containing, like the second, the addition of the Dissertation upon the Origin of Languages.  One of his reasons for staying so long in London this winter was no doubt to see the sheets through the press.  The book was printed by Strahan, who was also a partner in Millar’s publishing business; and there is a letter to him from Smith which, though bearing no date but Friday and no place of writing at all, must have been written, as indeed those two very circumstances indicate, in London, and some time during the winter of 1766-67.

MY DEAR STRAHAN—­I go to the country for a few days this afternoon, so that it will be unnecessary to send me any more sheets till I return.  The Dissertation upon the Origin of Languages is to be printed at the end of the Theory.  There are some literal errors in the printed copy of it which I should have been glad to have corrected, but have not the opportunity, as I have no copy by me.  They are of no great consequence.  In the titles, both of the Theory and Dissertation, call me simply Adam Smith without any addition either before or behind.—­I ever am, etc.,



When the Wealth of Nations came out in 1776 the author described himself on the title-page as LL.D. and F.R.S., late Professor of Moral Philosophy in Glasgow University, but he wants here on the Theory nothing but plain Adam Smith, his mind being at this period apparently averse to making use of his degree even on public and formal occasions, as it always was to using it in private life.  He described himself on his visiting cards as “Mr. Adam Smith,” he was known in the inner circle of his personal friends as Mr. Smith, and when Dugald Stewart was found fault with by certain critics for speaking of him so in his memoirs, he replied that he never heard Smith called anything else.

But while Smith was superintending the republication of his first book, he was at the same time using his opportunities in London to read up at the British Museum, then newly established, or elsewhere, for his second and greater, of which he had laid the keel in France.  One of the subjects which he was engaged in studying at that time was colonial administration.  He seems to have been discussing the subject with Lord Shelburne, who was now Secretary of State, and he gives that statesman the results of his further investigations into at least one branch of the subject in the following letter, written in the first instance, like so many others of Smith’s extant letters, to do a service to a friend.  He wished to interest Lord Shelburne in the claims of a Scotch friend, Alexander Dalrymple, for the command of the exploring expedition which it was then in contemplation to send to the

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Life of Adam Smith from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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