Life of Adam Smith eBook

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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 551 pages of information about Life of Adam Smith.

Nothing further is heard of this business till the 6th of August 1787, when “Mr. Commissioner Smith acquainted the society that the Count de Windischgraetz had transmitted to him three dissertations offered as solutions of his problem, and had desired the judgment of the society upon their merits.  The society referred the consideration of these papers to Mr. Smith, Mr. Henry Mackenzie of the Exchequer, and Mr. William Craig, advocate, as a committee to appraise and consider them, and to report their opinion to the society at a subsequent meeting.”  At length, on the 21st January 1788, Mr. Commissioner Smith reported that this committee thought none of the three dissertations amounted either to a solution or an approximation to a solution of the Count’s problem, but that one of them was a work of great merit, and the society asked Mr. A. Fraser Tytler, one of their secretaries, to send on this opinion to the Count as their verdict.[321]


[316] Seward’s Anecdotes, ii. 464.

[317] Gibbon’s Miscellaneous Works, ii. 255.

[318] Saint Fond, Travels in England, Scotland, and the Hebrides, ii. 241.

[319] Skinner’s Society of Trained Bands of Edinburgh, p. 99.

[320] Transactions, R.S.E., i. 39.

[321] Ibid., R.S.E., ii. 24.



Notwithstanding the patronage he received from Lord North and his relations of friendship and obligation with the Duke of Buccleugh and Henry Dundas, Smith continued to be a warm political supporter of the Rockingham Whigs and a warm opponent of the North ministry.  The first Earl of Minto (then Sir Gilbert Elliot) visited Edinburgh in 1782, and wrote in his journal.  “I have found one just man in Gomorrah, Adam Smith, author of the Wealth of Nations.  He was the Duke of Buccleugh’s tutor, is a wise and deep philosopher, and although made Commissioner of the Customs here by the Duke and Lord Advocate, is what I call an honest fellow.  He wrote a most kind as well as elegant letter to Burke on his resignation, as I believe I told you before, and on my mentioning it to him he told me he was the only man here who spoke out for the Rockinghams."[322] This letter is now lost, but Burke’s answer to it remains, and was sold at Sotheby’s a few years ago.  Smith must have expressed the warmest approval of the step Fox and Burke had taken, on the death of the Marquis of Rockingham in July 1782, in resigning their offices in the Ministry rather than serve under their colleague Lord Shelburne, and he must have felt strongly on the subject to overcome his aversion to letter-writing on the occasion.  Fox and Burke have been much censured for their refusal to serve under Shelburne, inasmuch as that refusal meant a practical disruption of the Whig party; and

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Life of Adam Smith from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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