During the spring months Smith got worse and weaker, and though he seemed to rally somewhat at the first approach of the warm weather, he at length sank again in June, and his condition seemed to his friends to be already hopeless. Long and painful as his illness was, he bore it throughout not with patience merely but with a serene and even cheerful resignation. On the 21st of June Henry Mackenzie wrote his brother-in-law, Sir J. Grant, that Edinburgh had just lost its finest woman, and in a few weeks it would in all probability lose its greatest man. The finest woman was the beautiful Miss Burnet of Monboddo, whom Burns called “the most heavenly of all God’s works,” and the greatest man was Adam Smith. “He is now,” says Mackenzie, “past all hopes of recovery, with which about three weeks ago we had flattered ourselves.”
A week later Smellie, the printer, wrote Smith’s young friend, Patrick Clason, in London: “Poor Smith! we must soon lose him, and the moment in which he departs will give a heart-pang to thousands. Mr. Smith’s spirits are flat, and I am afraid the exertions he sometimes makes to please his friends do him no good. His intellect as well as his senses are clear and distinct. He wishes to be cheerful, but nature is omnipotent. His body is extremely emaciated, and his stomach cannot admit of sufficient nourishment; but, like a man, he is perfectly patient and resigned."
In all his own weakness he was still thoughtful of the care of his friends, and one of his last acts was to commend to the good offices of the Duke of Buccleugh the children of his old friend and physician, Cullen, who died only a few months before himself. “In many respects,” says Lord Buchan, “Adam Smith was a chaste disciple of Epicurus as that philosopher is properly understood, and Smith’s last act resembled that of Epicurus leaving as a legacy to his friend and patron the children of his Metrodorus, the excellent Cullen."