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’s health appears to have improved so much during the spring of 1788 that his friends, who, as we know from Robertson’s letter to Gibbon, had been seriously alarmed about his condition, were now again free from anxiety.  He seemed to them to be “perfectly re-established.”  But in the autumn he suffered another great personal loss in the death of his cousin, Miss Jean Douglas, who had lived under his roof for so many years.  His home was now desolate.  His mother and his cousin—­the two lifelong companions of his hearth—­were both gone; his young heir was only with him during the vacations from Glasgow College, where he was now living with Professor John Millar, and being a man for whom the domestic affections went for so much, there seemed, amid all the honour, love, obedience, troops of friends that enrich the close of an important career, to remain a void in his life that could not be filled.

Gibbon had sent him a present of the three concluding volumes of the Decline and Fall, and Smith writes him in November a brief letter of thanks, in which he sets the English historian where he used to set Voltaire, at the head of all living men of letters.

     EDINBURGH, 18th December 1788.

MY DEAR FRIEND—­I have ten thousand apologies to make for not having long ago returned you my best thanks for the very agreeable present you made me of the three last volumes of your History.  I cannot express to you the pleasure it gives me to find that by the universal consent of every man of taste and learning whom I either know or correspond with, it sets you at the very head of the whole literary tribe at present existing in Europe.—­I ever am, my dear friend, most affectionately yours,

     ADAM SMITH.[349]

In this letter Smith makes no complaint of his condition of health, but he seems to have got worse again in the course of the winter, for we find Gibbon writing Cadell, the bookseller, with some apparent anxiety on the 11th of February 1789:  “If you can send me a good account of Adam Smith, there is no man more sincerely interested in his welfare than myself.”  If, however, he were ill then, he recovered in the summer, and was in excellent spirits in July, when Samuel Rogers saw him often during a week he spent in Edinburgh.


[342] Pellew’s Life of Sidmouth, i. 151.

[343] Wilberforce’s Correspondence, i. 40.

[344] Bowring’s Memoir of Bentham, Bentham’s Works, x. 173.

[345] Wilberforce’s Correspondence, i. 40.

[346] The Bee, vol. in. p. 165.

[347] Glasgow College Minutes.

[348] Morrison MSS.

[349] Gibbon’s Miscellaneous Works, ii. 429.




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Life of Adam Smith from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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