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.
Separation merely meant mediocrity for Great Britain, but for the Colonies it meant ruin.  There would no longer be any check on the spirit of rancorous and virulent faction which was always inseparable from small democracies.  The coercive power of the mother country had hitherto prevented the colonial factions from breaking out into anything worse than brutality and insult, but if that coercive power were entirely taken away they would probably soon break out into open violence and bloodshed.[243]

The event has falsified the last anticipation, but this is not the place to criticise Smith’s scheme.  It was only requisite to recall for a moment the ideas which, according to the Duke of Buccleugh’s statement to Hume, Smith was at this time so zealously working for in the important circles in which he then moved in London.


[229] Hume MSS., R.S.E.  Library.

[230] Add.  MSS., 32,336.  It must have been during this period that Smith entertained Reynolds at dinner at Mrs. Hill’s, Dartmouth Street, Westminster, on Sunday 11th March, and not, as Mr. Tom Taylor places it, in 1764, from finding the dinner engagement noted on “a tiny old-fashioned card bearing the name of ‘Mr. Adam Smith’” lying in one of Reynolds’ pocket-books for 1764.  In March 1764 Smith, as we know, was in France, and Mr. Taylor must have mistaken the year for 1774, unless, indeed, it may have been 1767.

[231] Walpole’s Letters, vi. 302.

[232] Watson’s Annals of Philadelphia, i. 533.

[233] See above, pp. 256-7.

[234] Parton’s Life of Franklin, i. 537.

[235] Hume MSS., R.S.E.  Library.

[236] Playfair’s edition of Wealth of Nations, I. xiii.

[237] Clayden’s Early Life of Samuel Rogers, p. 168.

[238] Works, v. 519.

[239] Taylor’s Records of my Life, ii. 262.

[240] Thomson’s Life of Cullen, i. 481.

[241] Notes of S. Rogers’ Conversation.  Add.  MSS., 32, 571.

[242] Burton’s Life of Hume, ii. 483.

[243] Wealth of Nations, Book V. chap. iii.



1776. Aet. 52

The Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations was at length published on the 9th of March 1776.  Bishop Horne, one of Smith’s antagonists, of whom we shall presently hear more, said the books which live longest are those which have been carried longest in the womb of the parent.  The Wealth of Nations took twelve years to write, and was in contemplation for probably twelve years before that.  It was explicitly and publicly promised in 1759, in the concluding paragraph of the Theory of Moral Sentiments, though it is only the partial fulfilment of that promise.

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