Chapter 15

Smith back in London

September 16, 2015

Smith arrived in London early in November and remained there for the next six months. The body of his unfortunate pupil, which he brought over with him, was ultimately buried in the family vault at Dalkeith, (Dr. Norman Macleod and Mr. Steel)

but the interment there does not seem to have taken place immediately after the arrival from France, for the London journals, which announce the Duke of Buccleugh’s landing at Dover on November 1, mention his presence at the Guildhall with his stepfather, Mr. Townshend, Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the 10th, Lord Mayor’s Day;

The Duke brought his brother’s remains north. (Dr. Macleod) He could not have been to Scotland and back in that interval.

Smith was accordingly not required to proceed to Scotland on that sad duty.

On November 22, Andrew Millar, the publisher, wrote to David Hume in Edinburgh. He mentions that Smith was then in London. Hume had asked Smith whether he should continue his History of England. Millar explains Smith’s opinion to Hume. While Smith was in Paris, Hume wrote=

“Some push me to continue my History. Millar offers any price. All the Marlborough papers are offered me. I believe nobody would refuse me, but cui bono? Why should I= forego dalliance and sauntering and society, and expose myself again to the clamours of a stupid factious public? I am not yet tired of doing nothing. I am too wise to want censure or praise. By and by, I shall be too old to undergo so much labour."[195] Smith does not appear to have answered this letter at the time. But his opinion is communicated to Hume in this letter from Millar. Millar says= “He thinks, like many of your very good sensible friends, that the history of England from the Revolution is not to be met with in books yet printed, but from MSS. in this country, to which he is sure you will have ready access, from all accounts he learns from the great here. Therefore, you should lay the groundwork here after your perusal of the MSS. you may have access to, and doing it below will be laying the wrong foundation. I should tell you of the opinion of your most judicious friends I think he and Sir John Pringle are among them.”

Smith was publishing with Millar at this time a new edition of his Theory of Moral Sentiments. The third appeared in 1767. Like the second, it contained the addition of the Dissertation upon the Origin of Languages. One of his reasons for staying so long in London this winter was to see it printed. The book was printed by Strahan. He was also a partner in Millar’s publishing business.

Smith wrote him on a Friday in London, some time during the winter of 1766-67.

My Dear Strahan, The Dissertation upon the Origin of Languages is to be printed at the end of the Theory. There are some literal errors in its printed copy. I want them corrected but have been unable to because I do not have a copy by me. They are of no great consequence. In the Theory and Dissertation, call me simply Adam Smith, without any addition before or after.— I ever am, etc., Adam Smith. Friday
When the Wealth of Nations came out in 1776, Smith described himself on the title-page as LL.D. and F.R.S., late Professor of Moral Philosophy in Glasgow University, But he wants to be plain Adam Smith on the Theory. He was now averse to using his degree in public. Smith's name on his visiting cards was "Mr. Adam Smith." Critics found fault with Dugald Stewart not adding titles to Adam Smith. But Stewart said that Smith wanted to be called plainly. While Smith was re-publishing his first book, he was at the same time using his opportunities in London to read up at the British Museum, then newly established, or elsewhere, for his second and greater, of which he had laid the keel in France. He was then studying colonial administration, discussing it with Lord Shelburne, who was now Secretary of State. Smith gives him the results of his further investigations into at least one branch of the subject in the following letter, written in the first instance, like so many others of Smith's extant letters, to do a service to a friend. Alexander Dalrymple was Smith's Scotch friend. Smith wanted to interest Lord Shelburne in Dalrymple's desire for an exploring expedition to the South Sea. It was eventually committed to Captain Wallis. Dalrymple was afterwards the well-known Hydrographer to the Admiralty and the East India Company. Geographical knowledge progressed through him. He was one of the numerous younger brothers of Lord Hailes, the Scotch judge and historian. He returned in 1765 from 13 years' work in the East India Company. He devoted himself since then to the study of the South Sea. He confident believed that there was a great undiscovered continent in that area. Lord Shelburne would have given him this expedition had not Captain Wallis been already engaged. Next year, he was actually offered and had he been granted naval rank. He thought that this was essential to maintain discipline on a ship. He would have undertaken command of the more memorable expedition to observe the transit of Venus, which made Captain Cook the most famous explorer of his age. The following is Smith's letter= —
My Lord, I send you Quiros's memorial, presented to Philip II after his return from his voyage. It is translated from Spanish. The voyage itself is long, obscure, and difficult to understand, except by those who are acquainted with the geography and navigation of those countries. After looking over Dalrymple's many papers, I imagined this was what you would like best to see. He is just finishing a geographical account of all the discoveries that have yet been made in the South Seas from the west coast of America to Tasman's discoveries. He would be glad to read this to you himself, and show you on his map the geographical location of each island. It is extremely short, not much longer than this memorial of Quiros. I do not know whether= this will be be convenient for you this continent exists or not. But supposing it exists, I am very certain he is the best man to discover it. He is the most determined to hazard everything to discover it. The terms that he would ask are= The absolute command of the ship, with= the naming of all the officers so that that he may have people= who have confidence in him and in whom he has confidence; and In case he should lose his ship by accident before he gets into the South Sea, the Government should give him another. These are all the terms he would insist upon. He says that the best ship for such an expedition, would be an old 50-gun ship without her guns. However, he does not insist on this, as a sine quâ non. He will go in any ship from 100 to 1,000 tons. He just wishes to have one ship with a good many boats. Most expeditions of this kind have miscarried from= one ship needing to wait for the other, or losing time in looking out for the other. Within these two days, I have looked over everything I can find relating to the Roman Colonies. I have not yet found anything of much consequence. They= were governed on the model of the Republic had= two consuls called duumviri; a senate called decuriones or collegium decurionum, and other magistrates similar to those of the Republic. The colonists lost their right of voting or of being elected to any magistracy in the Roman comitia. In this respect they were inferior to many municipia. However, they retained all the other privileges of Roman citizens. They seem to have been very independent. Of 30 colonies of whom the Romans demanded troops in the second Carthaginian war, 12 refused to obey. They frequently rebelled and joined the enemies of the Republic. They were somewhat little independent republics. They naturally followed the interests of their peculiar situation pointed. I have the honour to be, with the highest regard, my lord, your lordship's most obedient humble servant, Adam Smith. Tuesday, February 12, 1767
The problem of colonial rights and responsibilities had just come rapidly to the forefront of public questions in England. The French= abandoned North America in 1763. had given a new importance to the plantations. seemed to develop at the same time a stronger disposition to= assert colonial rights on the one side of the Atlantic, and interfere with them on the other. The Stamp Act of 1765 had already begun the struggle against imperial taxation which Charles Townshend's tea duty, imposed a few months after this letter was written, was to precipitate into rebellion. Therefore, there was very good reason why Lord Shelburne should be= studying the relations of dependencies to mother countries, and turning their attention to earlier colonial experiments such as those of ancient Rome. In the Wealth of Nations, Smith came to= modify his view in this letter of the independence of the Roman colonies. explain they were less prosperous than the Greek colonies because they were= not independent, not always at liberty to manage their own affairs."[199] Smith's absent-minded habit seems to have been lessened by his travels abroad. But it was not entirely removed. On February 11, 1767, Lady Mary Coke wrote her sister that Lady George Lennox and Sir Gilbert Elliot met while visiting her. "Mr. Smith was the gentleman that went abroad with the Duke of Buccleugh," She said many praises of him. But he was the most absent man they ever knew.(Lady Mary Coke) Mr. Damer (probably Mr. John Damer, Lord Milton's son) visited Smith a few mornings before at breakfast. (Sir Gilbert) He and falling into discourse Smith took a piece of bread and butter, and after rolling it round and round put it into the teapot and poured the water on it. He then poured out a cup and tasted it saying it [Pg 238]was the worst tea he ever had. "Of course, for you have made it of bread and butter instead of tea." (Mr. Damer)[200] The Duke of Buccleugh was married in London on May 3, 1767 to Lady Betsy. She was the only daughter of the Duke of Montagu. Smith probably returned to Scotland immediately after that event. He wrote Hume from Kirkcaldy on June 9, 1767. He mentioned having now been settled down to his work for about a month. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London on May 21, 1767. But he was not admitted until May 27, 1773. It seems to imply that he= had left London before May 21, and never returned to London again until shortly before May 27.


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