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 most absent man they ever knew.  Sir Gilbert mentioned that Mr. Damer (probably Mr. John Damer, Lord Milton’s son) had paid Smith a visit a few mornings before as he was sitting down to breakfast, and falling into discourse Smith took a piece of bread and butter, and after rolling it round and round put it into the teapot and poured the water upon it.  Shortly after he poured out a cup, and on tasting it declared it was the worst tea he had ever met with.  “I have not the least doubt of it,” said Mr. Damer, “for you have made it of bread and butter instead of tea."[200]

The Duke of Buccleugh was married in London on the 3rd of May 1767 to Lady Betsy, only daughter of the Duke of Montagu, and Smith probably returned to Scotland immediately after that event.  For in writing Hume from Kirkcaldy on the 9th of June 1767, he mentions having now been settled down to his work for about a month.  Another circumstance confirms this inference.  He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London on the 21st of May 1767, but was not admitted till the 27th of May 1773, and that seems to imply that he had left London before the former date, and never returned to it again till shortly before the latter one.


[195] Burton’s Life of Hume, ii. 392.

[196] Ibid.

[197] New York Evening Post. Original in possession of Mr. David A. Wells of Norwich, U.S.A.

[198] Lansdowne MSS.

[199] Wealth of Nations, Book IV. chap. vii.

[200] Lady Mary Coke’s Journal, i. 141.



1767-1773. Aet. 44-50

When Smith left Glasgow his mother and cousin went back again to Kirkcaldy, and he now joined them and remained with them there for the next eleven years.  Hume, who thought the country an unsuitable place for a man of letters, used every endeavour to persuade him to remove to Edinburgh, but without success.  The gaiety and fulness of city life were evidently much less to him than they were to Hume, and he must have found what sufficed him in the little town of his birth.  He had his work, he had his mother, he had his books, he had his daily walks in the sea breeze, and he had Edinburgh always in the offing as a place of occasional resort.  He is said to have taken much real pleasure, like Shakespeare at Stratford, in mingling again with the simple old folk who were about him in his youth, and he had a few neighbours whose pursuits corresponded more nearly with his own.  James Oswald, indeed, was now struck down with illness—­“terrible distress” is Smith’s expression—­and he died in the second year after Smith’s return to Scotland.  Oswald spent some months in Kirkcaldy, however, in the fall of 1767, and probably again in 1768.  One of Smith’s other literary neighbours, whom he saw much of during this eleven years’ residence in Fife, was Robert Beatson, author of the Political Index and other works, to whom there will be occasion to refer again later on.  His chief resource, however, throughout this period was his work, which engaged his mind late and early till it told hard, as we shall presently see, on his health.

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Life of Adam Smith from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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