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.
but as I expect to see you in a few weeks I shall not trouble you with so tedious a dissertation.  I shall only say at present that every extraordinary, either encouragement or discouragement that is given to the trade of any country more than to that of another may, I think, be demonstrated to be in every case a complete piece of dupery, by which the interest of the state and the nation is constantly sacrificed to that of some particular class of traders.  I heartily congratulate you upon the triumphant manner in which the East India Bill has been carried through the Lower House.  I have no doubt of its passing through the Upper House in the same manner.  The decisive judgment and resolution with which Mr. Fox has introduced and supported that Bill does him the highest honour.—­I ever am, with the greatest respect and esteem, dear sir, your most affectionate and most humble servant,


     EDINBURGH, 15th December 1783.[326]

Fox’s East India Bill, of which Smith expresses such unqualified commendation, proposed to transfer the government of British India from the Court of Directors of the East India Company to a new board of Crown nominees.  This measure was entirely to Smith’s mind.  He had already in the former editions of his book condemned the company which, as he says, “oppresses and domineers in India,” and in the additional matter which he wrote about the company immediately before this bill was introduced he declared of them that “no other sovereigns ever were, or, from the nature of things, ever could be, so perfectly indifferent about the happiness or misery of their subjects, the improvement or waste of their dominions, the glory or disgrace of their administration, as, from irresistible moral causes, the greater part of the proprietors of such a mercantile company are and necessarily must be.”


[322] Lady Minto’s Life of the Earl of Minto, i. 84.

[323] Add.  MSS., 5035.

[324] Correspondence of Sir John Sinclair, i. 389.

[325] Mackintosh, Miscellaneous Works, iii. 17.

[326] Journals and Correspondence of Lord Auckland, i. 64.




Burke had been elected Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow in November 1783 in succession to Dundas, and he came down to Scotland to be installed in the following April.  He spent altogether eight or ten days in the country, and he spent them all in the company of Smith, who attended him wherever he went.  Burke and Smith, always profound admirers of one another’s writings, had grown warm friends during the recent lengthened residence of the latter in London.  Even in the brilliant circle round the brown table in Gerrard Street there was none Burke loved or esteemed more highly than Smith.  One

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