Glasgow Professorby Rae
The Edinburgh lectures soon bore fruit.
Mr. Loudon was the Professor of Logic in Glasgow College.
- On his death in 1750, Smith was appointed to the vacant chair and began 13 years of active academic work.
It was by far the happiest, most useful, and honourable period of Smith’s life. The appointment was done by a section of the Senatus called the Faculty Professors. Some of them had been Smith’s teachers 10 years before and knew him well. The choice was unanimous.
He was elected on January 9, 1751.
- He was admitted to the office on the 16th, after reading a dissertation De origine idearum.
- He signed the Westminster Confession of Faith before the Presbytery of Glasgow.
- He took the usual oath De fideli to the University authorities.
But he did not begin work until the opening of the next session in October. His engagements in Edinburgh did not permit him to undertake his duties in Glasgow earlier.
Dr. Hercules Lindsay was Smith’s substitute from the start of January until the end of June, with the Senatus’ sanction. Dr. Lindsay was the Professor of Jurisprudence.
During this interval, Smith went to Glasgow repeatedly to attend meetings of the Senatus.
But he did not give any lectures to the students.
If he was relieved of his duties in the summer, he worked double tides during the winter. Besides the work of his own class, he worked with Professor Craigie of the Moral Philosophy chair.
Professor Craigie was laid aside by ill health. He died a few weeks after the session’s start. In both the classrooms, he was able to use the courses of lectures he had already delivered in Edinburgh. This alleviated his double burden. Traditionally in Scotch universities= the chair of Logic included rhetoric and belles-lettres the chair of Moral Philosophy included jurisprudence and politics Smith had lectured in Edinburgh on= rhetoric and belles-lettres, and jurisprudence and politics. He naturally took those as the subjects of his lectures this first session at Glasgow. Professor John Millar was the author of the Historical View of the English Government and other great works. He was a member of Smith’s logic class that year. He had been induced to take the class a second time because of Smith’s high reputation from Edinburgh, even if he had already completed his university curriculum. Most of the session was occupied with “the delivery of a system of rhetoric and belles-lettres.” (Millar) Jurisprudence and politics were suggested to Smith as the year’s subjects when he was asked to take Professor Craigie’s place. The proposal came through Professor Cullen. He was probably Craigie’s medical attendant. Cullen suggested those subjects as the most likely to suit Smith’s convenience. It would also save Smith some work since he had lectured on them already. Smith agreed to take them up.
Edinburgh, Sept. 3, 1751.
I am very glad that Mr. Craigie has finally resolved to go to Lisbon. He will soon receive all the benefits from the warmer climate. I shall do what I can to relieve him of the burden of his class. You mention natural jurisprudence and politics as the parts of his lectures most agreeable for me to teach. I shall very willingly undertake both. I want to know when he sets out for Lisbon. If it is not before October 1, I would try to see him before he goes so that I can receive his advice on the plan that I should follow. I would follow it as I consider myself as= standing in his place and representing him. If he goes before that time, I want him to leave some directions for me with you or with Mr. Leechman. I am, dear doctor, most faithfully yours,
Smith would begin work at Glasgow on October 10. Before mid-November he and Cullen were already deeply immersed in many little schemes for the equipment of the College. There was the vacancy in the Moral Philosophy chair. It was anticipated to occur immediately through the death of Mr. Craigie. It was referred to in the following letter as “the event we are afraid of.” Cullen and Smith wanted to see this vacancy filled by Smith’s transfer from the Logic to the Moral Philosophy chair. The Principal (Dr. Neil Campbell) seems to have= concurred in that proposal mentioned Smith to the Duke of Argyle, Duke Archibald. The Duke was better known by his earlier title= the Earl of Islay. He was much interested in Smith’s appointment, even if his only power was to appoint the Crown chairs. But he exercised much influence over the appointment to all. The Duke [Pg 45] was often called the King of Scotland because he practically ruled Scotland’s affairs in the first half of the last century, as Dundas did in the second half. Smith seems to have gone to Edinburgh= to push his views with the Duke, and to have waited on him and been introduced to him at his levee. Then there was the affair of Hume’s candidature for the Logic chair, contingent on Smith’s appointment to the other. There was the affair of the Principal’s possible retirement. It could be reversed probably in favour of Professor Leechman, mentioned in the previous letter. Prof. Leechman did succeed to it. Then there was Cullen’s “own affair.” Smith promoted it in Edinburgh through Lord Kames (then Mr. Home). It probably was on a method of purifying salt which Cullen= invented, and wanted to secure a premium for. Lord Kames spoke to the Duke of Argyle on this subject in Cullen’s behalf a few months later. While immersed in many affairs, Smith wrote Cullen=  Edin., Tuesday, November 1751.
I did not write to you on Saturday as I promised, because I was expecting Mr. Home to town. However, he has not yet come. I prefer David Hume for the College. But I am afraid the public would not be of my opinion. Society’s interest requires us to have regard to public opinion. However, if the event that we are afraid of should happen, we can see how the public receives it. As I know of Mr. Elliot, I am pretty certain that Mr. Lindsay must have proposed it to him, not he to Mr. Lindsay. Thank you for your concern for me in that affair. When I saw you at Edinburgh, you talked to me of the Principal’s proposal to retire. I gave little attention to it then. But now, I will listen to [Pg 46]any proposal of that kind. At the meeting, I shall tell you why I changed my opinion. I do not need to keep it a secret. Please thank the Principal for me for his kindness in mentioning me to the Duke. I waited on him at his levee at Edinburgh, when I was introduced to him by Mr. Lind. But it seems he had forgotten. I can tell you nothing particular about your own affair more than what I wrote you last until I see Mr. Home, whom I expect every moment. I am, most dear sir, ever yours,
Mr. Craigie died on November 27. Smith was appointed Craigie’s successor on April 29, 1752, without any opposition. It seems Cullen had heard from his colleague, Professor Lindsay, of a possible rival to Smith for that chair in Mr. Gilbert Elliot. Mr. Elliot was a man of brilliant parts and accomplishments. He later became Sir Gilbert Elliot. But at this time, he was a young advocate at the Edinburgh bar, with no liking for law and a great liking for letters and philosophy. Smith was Elliot’s friend. Smith knew that Elliot had no such designs. Eventually, his own candidature was unopposed. But in anticipation of this result, the keenest contest was carried on all winter over the election to the Logic chair, which he was to leave. David Hume came forward as a candidate. There is an erroneous, though curiously well-supported tradition that Edmund Burke was a candidate also. Bisset was one of Burke’s biographers. He says that Burke actually applied for the post, but he was too late. Prior was his other biographer. He says that Burke= was in Scotland at the time, and took some steps for the place. But he found his chances hopeless and withdrew Professor Jardine was a subsequent chair himself. He asserts that Burke was thought of by [Pg 47]some of the electors. But he never really came forward. Smith was the previous occupant of the office and one of the electors of his successor, as Professor of Moral Philosophy. He stated explicitly to Dugald Stewart (as Stewart wrote to Prior) “that the story was extremely current. But he did not know its origin. He suspected it came from Burke’s opinion at Glasgow on the publication of his own book on the Sublime and Beautiful, that Burke would be a great acquisition to the College if he accepted a chair.” Had anything been known in Glasgow of Burke’s candidature for a chair there five years before, it would be remembered because of the publication of such a notable work. But Burke’s very name was so unfamiliar to the circle interested in the election. When Hume first met Burke in London in 1759, he mentions him in a letter to Smith as “a Mr. Burke, an Irish gentleman who has written a very pretty book on the Sublime and Beautiful.” Hume’s interest in the contest for the candidature of the best philosopher. Smith must have been engrossed in it, since he was Hume’s friend. In his letter to Cullen, he is very cautious about it. He knew that the appointment of a notorious sceptic like Hume might be so unpopular with the Scottish public. It might injure the University’s interests. But when Hume came forward, Cullen threw his own heart and soul into his cause, as we know from Hume’s own acknowledgments. If Cullen and Smith acted in concert at the initiation of the candidature, Smith would not have lagged behind Cullen in the prosecution of the canvass. [Pg 48]. However, their exertions failed. Hume always believed it was due to the Duke of Argyle’s interference. The chair was given to a young licentiate of the Church named Clow. He was then entirely unknown. He never afterwards established any public reputation. Smith’s preference for the Moral Philosophy chair came mainly from preference for the subjects he taught. But the emoluments also seem to have been better. Smith was required to content himself until October 10 of that year (the opening day of the new session) “with the salary and emoluments of his present profession of Logic,” Even though he might be actually admitted to the other professorship before October 10. However, his new office’s emoluments were not very much. They accrued= partly from a moderate endowment and partly from the fees paid by the students who attended the lectures. It was a principle of academic payment which Smith always considered the best. Because it made the lecturer’s income largely dependent on his diligence and success in his work. The endowment was probably no more than that of the Mathematical chair which was £72 a year. The fees probably never exceeded £100. Dr. Thomas Reid was Smith’s successor in the Moral Philosophy chair. He writes an Aberdeen friend, after two years’ experience of Glasgow, that he= had more students than Smith ever had. had already touched £70 of fees, but expected, when all the students arrived, to make £100 that session. The income from fees in the Scotch chairs in the 18th century seems to have varied from session to session. A bad harvest would sometimes [Pg 49]seriously impact the attendance. The great crisis of 1772 was the succession of bad harvests. They were aggravated by ruinous mercantile speculations. This deprived Adam Ferguson in the Edinburgh Moral Philosophy chair of half his usual income from fees. In those days, a professor used to lose regularly many pounds a year by light money. When Lord Brougham paid his fee to Black as a young chemistry student in Edinburgh, Black weighed the guineas carefully on a weighing machine. “I am obliged to weigh when strange students come. Many bring light guineas to defraud me of many pounds every year if I did not defend myself against them.” (Black) Smith kept an occasional boarder in his house. He would make a trifle by that. But his regular income from his class work would not exceed £170 a year. However, £170 a year was a very respectable income then and in 1750. Only 29 ministers in all Scotland had as much as £100 a year. The highest stipend in the Church was only £138. Besides his salary, Smith had a house in the College. It was one of those new manses in the Professors’ Court which Glasgow people then considered very grand. He changed his house three times in his 13 years’ professorship. When a house fell vacant for the professors, it was the custom to get their choice of it in the order of their academical seniority. There seems to have been no compulsion about the step. So that it is not beneath noticing that Smith should in so short a term have elected to make the three removes which proverbial [Pg 50]wisdom deprecates. In 1756, Smith was next in seniority. He had been made professor in Glasgow and moved to Cullen’s house when Cullen was transferred to Edinburgh He then quit this house in 1757 for the house of Dr. Dick, Professor of Natural Philosophy, who died in that year. He left Dick’s house in turn for Dr. Leechman’s, on the promotion of that divine to the Principalship in 1762. These houses are now demolished with the rest of the old College of Glasgow. We cannot see the levels of comfort he had during these successive changes. They might have been preferred by his mother and his aunt Miss Jane Douglas and not by Smith himself. Both lived with him in Glasgow. He aimed to gratify their smallest wishes. In Smith’s day there were only some 300 students at Glasgow College. The Moral Philosophy chair alone never had more than 80 or 90 in the public class, and 20 in the private. The public class was not a free class like in on the Continent. It really was the dearer of the two. The fee in the private class was only a guinea. The fee of the public class was 1.5 guineas. The public class was the ordinary class taken for graduation and other purposes. It was obligatory by academic authority. The private was a special class with the Senatus’ permissionfor those who wished to= push the subject further and harmonise this account of them with what has been previously said of the income Smith drew from fees, Many of the students who attended these classes paid no fees, according to a custom which still prevails in Scotch universities and by which one was considered a civis of a class he had attended for two years, and might thereafter attend it whenever he chose without charge. Many in this way attended the Moral[Pg 51] Philosophy class four or five years. Dr. Reid informs us that among them many preachers and advanced students of divinity and law. He confesses that he used to stand in awe to speak to without the most careful preparation. The College session was then longer than it is now. It extended from October 10 to June 10. The classes began at once earlier in the morning and continued later at night. Smith commenced his labours before daybreak by his public class from 7.30 to 8.30 A.M. He then held an hour’s exam at 11 A.M. on that morning’s lecture. But only 1/3 of the students of the morning class habitually came to the exam. He met with his private class twice a week on a different subject at 12. Besides these, Smith seems to have occasionally read for an hour like a tutor with special pupils. Ascanius was a pen name of a former pupil of Smith. He writes his memory of Smith to the Bee‘s editor in June 1791. He went to Glasgow College after going through the classes at St. Andrews, Edinburgh, and even Oxford, so that he might, “after the manner of the ancients= walk in the porticoes of Glasgow with Smith and Millar and be imbued with the principles of jurisprudence, law, and philosophy. I passed most of my time at Glasgow with those two first-rate men. Smith read private lectures to me on jurisprudence. He accompanied them with his commentaries in conversation. I hope those exercises will give an eternal colour and substance to my sentiments and reason.” This enthusiastic disciple is the eccentric and bustling Earl of Buchan. He was the elder brother of= Lord Chancellor Erskine, and the witty and greatly beloved Harry Erskine of the Scotch bar, He was the subject of the Duchess of Gordon’s well-known[Pg 52] mot= “The wit of your family has come by the mother, and been all settled on the younger branches.” We know that the Earl of Buchan was a Bee contributor under fake signatures because he republished some of his contributions. He attended Smith’s class at Glasgow. (The Earl’s letter to Pinkerton, the historian). He saw then the book, the memoirs of Lockhart of Lee, in Smith’s library. Lockhart of Lee was Cromwell’s ambassador to France. He was the famous advocate later known as Lord Covington. Pinkerton could not find a copy of that book anywhere . That book had been suppressed at the instance of Lockhart because the family= had turned Jacobite, and disliked the association with the Commonwealth. (This was according to Sir James Steuart, the economist who was the Earl’s maternal uncle). The Earl attended Glasgow in 1760. But he must have continued there more than one session. For he attended the lectures of Millar and Smith. Millar was not there until the session 1761-62. He most likely met Dr. Alexander Carlyle with Smith at a large supper party in April 1763. Carlyle whispered to Smith that he wondered how he could set the Earl so high when he appeared to be so foolish. Smith answered, “We know that perfectly, but he is the only lord in our College.” Lord Buchan says Smith read private lectures to him. Smith’s public lectures he was not accustomed to read in any of his classes. But he seems [Pg 53]to have found it more convenient in= teaching a single pupil to read them, and interposing oral comments and illustrations as he went along. Others of Smith’s old students besides Lord Buchan express their obligations to the conversations they had with him. Dugald Stewart used to decline to see his students because he found them too quarrelsome. He disliked disputing with them on the correctness of the doctrines he taught. (Brougham) But Smith was extremely accessible. He even habitually= sought out the abler men among them, invited them to his house, discussed with them various subjects, and entered sympathetically into their views and plans of life. John Millar mentioned Smith in his Historical View of the English Government. “I am happy to acknowledge my obligations under Smith by= having early benefit of his lectures on the history of civil society, and enjoying his unreserved conversation on it.” (Millar) Millar was one of Smith’s favourite pupils. After obtaining the chair of Jurisprudence in his old College, he was one of his chief associates. Smith held so high an opinion of Millar’s unique powers as a stimulating teacher that he sent his cousin, David Douglas, to Glasgow College to attend Millar’s lectures and conversation. Jeffrey used to say= that the most bracing exercises a Glasgow student underwent in those days were the supper debates at Professor Millar’s house, and that Millar’s works able and learned But “they did not reveal that magical vivacity which made his conversation and lectures full of delight than of instruction.” Millar always refused to accept Smith’s doctrine of free trade. But he was the most effective [Pg 54]and influential apostle of Liberalism in Scotland then. Jeffrey’s father could never forgive himself for having put his son to Glasgow. He was strictly forbidden to enter Millar’s classroom. But “the mere vicinity of Millar’s influence” had sent him back a Liberal. From Millar, we obtain the fullest account of= Smith’s qualities as a lecturer and the substance of Smith’s lectures. “In the professorship of logic, Smith soon saw the need to= depart widely from the plan followed by his predecessors, direct his pupils’ attention to studies of a more interesting and useful nature than the logic and metaphysics of the schools. The explanation of the ancient logic was needed to gratify curiosity through an artificial method of reasoning. It used to occupy the learned’s universal attention. Smith spent the rest of his time delivering a system of rhetoric and belles-lettres after= exhibiting a general view of mind’s powers, and explaining the ancient logic.” (Millar) In moral philosophy “his lectures were divided into four. Natural theology It had= the proofs of God’s being and attributes, and those principles of the human mind on which religion is founded. Ethics. It had the doctrines which he afterwards published in his Theory of Moral Sentiments. The branch of morality which relates to justice. It has precise rules. It thus can be fully explained.” (Millar) “On this subject, he followed the plan seemingly [Pg 55] suggested by Montesquieu. He tried to= trace the gradual progress of public and private jurisprudence, from the rudest to the most refined ages, and point out the effects of those arts which contribute to subsistence and to the accumulation of property, in producing correspondent improvements or changes in law and government. He intended to give this to the public. It was mentioned in the conclusion of the Theory of Moral Sentiments. But he did not live to fulfill it. “In his last lectures, he examined those political regulations which are founded on the principle of expediency, not of justice. They are calculated to increase a state’s riches, power, and prosperity. Under this, he considered the political institutions relating to= commerce, finances, ecclesiastical and military establishments. Those subjects were afterwards published as An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.” Millar expresses such deep obligation for the third part of those lectures on the history of civil society. Professor Richardson was the Humanity chair in Glasgow. He was another pupil of Smith. He was a minor poet of considerable acceptance in his day. He also speaks with lively gratitude, particularly of those “on the nature of those political institutions that succeeded the Roman Empire’s downfall. It included a historical account of the rise and progress of the most conspicuous modern European governments.” Richardson also tells us that Smith gave courses of lectures on= taste the history of philosophy, and belles-lettres. He apparently continued to use his old lectures on this last subject occasionally even after his [Pg 56]translation from the chair to which they properly appertained, and that he was very fond of digressing into literary criticism from his lectures on any subject. “Dr. Smith’s students will happily remember many of those incidental and digressive illustrations and discussions in morality and criticism. He delivered them= with animated and extemporaneous eloquence as question and answer, and with much display of learning and knowledge, in his explanations of those philosophical works, Those works were also a very useful and important subject of examination in the moral philosophy class.” (Richardson) Millar describes Smith as a lecturer= —
Mr. Smith’s abilities appeared at its greatest advantage as a professor. In delivering his lectures he trusted almost entirely to extemporary elocution. His manner was not graceful. But it was plain and unaffected. He seemed to be always interested in the subject. He never failed to interest his hearers. Each discourse consisted commonly of several distinct propositions which he successively tried to prove and illustrate. When announced in general terms, these propositions frequently had the air of a paradox. In his attempts to explain them, he often appeared initially not to sufficiently know of the subject. He spoke with some hesitation. However, as he advanced, his manner became warm and animated. His expression became more easy and fluent. On points susceptible of controversy you could easily discern that he secretly conceived an opposition to his opinions and that he was led upon this account to support them with greater energy and vehemence. By the fulness and variety of his illustrations, the subject gradually [Pg 57] swelled in his hands. It acquired a dimension which, without a tedious repetition of the same views, was calculated to= seize the audience’s attention and afford them pleasure and instruction in following the same subject through the diversity of shades and aspects it was presented in. Afterwards, in tracing it backwards to that original proposition or general truth from which this beautiful train of speculation had proceeded.” Smith apparently told a little peculiarity in his way of lecturing to Archibald Alison the elder. Alison then told it to the late Archdeacon Sinclair= Smith used to acknowledge that in lecturing, he was more dependent on his hearers’ sympathy than most professors. He would sometimes select one of his students who had more mobile and expressive features than the rest. He would use him as an unsuspecting gauge of the class’ intelligence and interest. “During one whole session, a student with a plain but expressive countenance was very useful to me in judging of my success. He sat conspicuously in front of a pillar. I had him constantly under my eye. If he leaned forward to listen, all was right. I knew that I had the ear of my class. But if he leaned back in an attitude of listlessness I felt at once that all was wrong and I must change= the subject or the style of my address.” (Smith) The majority of his students were young men preparing for the Presbyterian ministry. 1/3 of them were Irish dissenters who were unfairly excluded from the university of their own country. But they appear to have been no very worthy accession to the University of Glasgow. Smith did not complain against them from. But they were a sore trial to Hutcheson and Reid. Reid always felt in lecturing those “stupid Irish teagues” as[Pg 58] St. Anthony must have felt when he preached to the fishes,. (Reid) Hutcheson writes a friend in the north of Ireland= that his Irish students were far above taking any interest in their work, and that although he had “five or six young gentlemen from Edinburgh, men of fortune and fine genius, studying law, these Irishmen thought them poor bookworms.” Smith had probably even more of this stamp of law students than Hutcheson. Henry Erskine and his elder brother attended his class on jurisprudence. Boswell was there in 1759. He was made very proud by the certificate he received from Smith at the session’s close. It stated that he, Mr. James Boswell, was “happily had a facility of manners.” After the publication of the Theory of Moral Sentiments, students came from even farther. Lord Shelburne was its enthusiastic admirer. He sent his younger brother, the Honourable Thomas Fitzmaurice, for a year or two to study under Smith, before sending him to Oxford in 1761 to read law with Sir William Blackstone. Mr. Fitzmaurice married the Countess of Orkney. He is father of the present Orkney family. He rose to a considerable political position. He would have risen higher but for falling into ill health in the prime of life and remaining a complete invalid until his death in 1793. But he never forgot the years he spent as a student in Smith’s class and a boarder in Smith’s house. Dr. Currie was the well-known author of the Life of Burns. He was his medical attendant in Smith’s latter years. Dr. Currie says his conversation always turned back to his early life, particularly to the pleasant period he had spent under Smith’s roof in Glasgow. However, Currie has not recorded any reminiscences of those conversations. Two Russian students came in 1762. Smith had twice to [Pg 59]give them an advance of £20 apiece from the College funds, because their remittances had got stopped by the war. Tronchin was the eminent physician of Geneva. He was the friend of Voltaire and the enemy of Rousseau. He sent his son to Glasgow in 1761 purposely “to study under Mr. Smith,” This is according to a letter of introduction to Baron Mure which the young man received before starting from Colonel Edmonston of Newton, who was at the time resident in Geneva. Voltaire said that Tronchin was “a great physician, who knows the mind.” Tronchin must have formed a high idea of the Theory of Moral Sentiments to send his son so far. His son unintentionally caused the famous quarrel between Rousseau and Hume, while on his way back from Glasgow. His son was living with Professor Rouet of Glasgow, at Miss Elliot’s lodging-house in London. Hume brought Rousseau there in January 1866. The moment Rousseau saw the son of his old enemy in the same house, he concluded that= the young Tronchin was a spy, and the good and benevolent Hume was weaving some infernal web around him. Smith’s popularity as a lecturer grew year by year. It was felt that another and perhaps greater Hutcheson had risen in the College. Reid came to Glasgow to succeed him in 1764. He wrote his friend Dr. Skene in Aberdeen that there was a great spirit of inquiry abroad among the young people in Glasgow It is the best testimony that could be rendered of the effect of Smith’s teaching. It had taught the young people to think. His opinions became the subjects of general discussion. The branches he lectured on became fashionable in the town the sons of the wealthier citizens used to go to College to take his class though they had no intention of completing a university course, stucco busts of him appeared in the booksellers’ windows, and the very peculiarities of his voice and [Pg 60]pronunciation received the homage of imitation. John Ramsay of Ochtertyre says one point alone caused a shaking of heads. Smith was a friend of “Hume the atheist”. He was himself ominously reticent on religious subjects. He did not conduct a Sunday class on Christian evidences like Hutcheson. He would often too be seen openly smiling during divine service in his place in the College chapel (as in his absent way he might no doubt be prone to do); Ramsay states that Smith petitioned the Senatus on his first appointment in Glasgow to be relieved of the duty of opening his class with prayer. The petition was rejected/ His opening prayers were always thought to “savour strongly of natural religion”; His lectures on natural theology were too flattering to human pride It and induced “presumptuous striplings to draw an unwarranted conclusion= that the great truths of theology, together with the duties which man owes to God and his neighbours, may be discovered by the light of nature without any special revelation,” as if it were a fault to show religious truth to be natural, for fear young men should believe it too easily. No record of the alleged petition about the opening prayers and its refusal remains in the College minutes. The story is probably nothing but a morsel of idle gossip unworthy of attention, except as an indication of the atmosphere of jealous and censorious theological vigilance in which Smith and his brother professors were then obliged to do their work. In his lectures on jurisprudence and politics he had taught the doctrine of free trade from the first, and not the least remarkable result of his 13 years’ work in Glasgow was that before he left he had practically converted that city to his views. Dugald Stewart was explicitly informed by Mr. James Ritchie, one of the most eminent Clyde merchants of that time, that Smith had, [Pg 61]during his professorship in Glasgow, made many of the leading men of the place convinced proselytes of free trade principles. Sir James Steuart of Coltness was the well-known economist. After returning from his long political exile in 1763, he used to take a great practical interest in trying to enlighten his Glasgow neighbours on the economical problems that were rising about them and having embraced the dying cause in economics as well as in politics, he sought hard to enlist them in favour of protection, but he frankly confesses that he grew sick of repeating arguments for protection to these “Glasgow theorists,” as he calls them, because he found that Smith had already succeeded in persuading them completely for the free importation of corn. Sir James Steuart was a most persuasive talker. Smith himself said he understood Sir James’s system better from his talk than from his books, those Glasgow merchants must have obtained from Smith’s expositions a very clear and complete hold indeed of the doctrines of commercial freedom, when Steuart failed to shake it, and was fain to leave such theorists to their theories. Long before the publication of the Wealth of Nations, the new light was= shining clearly from Smith’s chair in Glasgow College, and winning its first converts in the practical world. One can understand the emotion with which J.B. Say sat in this chair when he visited Glasgow in 1815. After a short prayer, he said with great fervour, “Lord, let now thy servant depart in peace.” According to the Smith’s students in the moral philosophy class at Glasgow in 1752 or 1753, Smith delivered then the lectures containing the fundamental principles of the Wealth of Nations. (Dugald Stewart) Cantillon’s Essai was published in in 1755 [Pg 62]. Quesnay published his first economic writing in 1743. During these years, Smith was= expounding his system of natural liberty to his students, and publicly asserting his claim as that system’s author in a Glasgow Economic Society— It was perhaps the first economic club established anywhere. Smith places this claim in a paper which somehow came into Dugald Stewart’s hands. It escaped being burned before Smith’s death. But it is believed to have been destroyed by Stewart’s son, very possibly after his father’s directions. Stewart thought it would be improper to publish the complete manuscript. Because it would revive personal differences which should remain in oblivion. Consequently, our knowledge of its contents is confined to the few sentences which Stewart quoted as a valuable evidence of the progress of Smith’s political ideas at that early period. From this small fragment of his discourse, he presents the doctrine of natural liberty in a more extreme form than it came to wear after 20 years more of thought in the Wealth of Nations. Stewart says that many of the most important opinions in the Wealth of Nations are detailed in this document, but he cites only the following= — “Man is generally considered by statesmen and projectors as the materials of political mechanics. Projectors disturb nature in her operations on human affairs. She should be left alone and be given her fair play in the pursuit of her ends that she may establish her own designs.. Not more than the following are needed to carry a state to the highest degree of affluence from the lowest barbarism= peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice. All the rest are brought about by the natural course of things. All governments are unnatural if they= force things into another channel, or try to arrest [Pg 63]the progress of society. To support themselves, they are obliged to be oppressive and tyrannical.. Many of the opinions in this paper is treated of at length in some lectures which= I still have by me, and were written in the hand of a clerk who left my service six years ago. They have all of been the constant subjects of my lectures since I first taught Mr. Craigie’s class the first winter I spent in Glasgow down to this day without any considerable variations. They had all of them been the subjects of lectures which I read at Edinburgh the winter before I left it. I can adduce innumerable witnesses both from that place and from this who will ascertain them sufficiently to be mine.” The distinction drawn in the last sentence between that place, Edinburgh, and this place, shows that the paper was read to a society in Glasgow. Smith was a member of two societies there= The Literary Society and A society which we may call the Economic Society It met to discuss economic subjects. But we do not know its precise name. This paper of Smith’s was not read to the Literary Society. It is not included in the published list of papers read by it We can conclude that it was read to the Economic Society. Smith “was anxious to establish his exclusive right” to “political and literary principles to prevent some rival claims. He feared those rival claims. He was liable to them because= he was a professor, and he has unreserved communications in private companies” he expressed himself “with that honest and indignant warmth unavoidable in a man conscious of his intentions’purity when he suspects that the frankness of his temper has been taken advantage of.” (Stewart) It appears that someone had= gotten hold of Smith’s ideas by attending his class or frequenting his company and had published them, or was going to publish them as his own. The writer of Smith’s obituary in the Monthly Review for 1790 alleges that in this Glasgow period, Smith was constantly afraid of being robbed of his ideas. If he saw any of his students take notes of his lectures, he would instantly stop him and say, “I hate scribblers.” But this is directly contradicted by Professor John Millar. He expressly states that= the permission to take notes was freely given by Smith to his students, and the privilege was frequently abused. From the permission given to students to take notes, many observations and opinions in these lectures on rhetoric and belles-lettres have either been= detailed in separate dissertations or engrossed in general collections which have since been given to the public. In those days, manuscript copies of a popular professor’s lectures, transcribed from his students’ notebooks, were often sold in booksellers’ shops. For example, Blair’s lectures on rhetoric were in general circulation in this intermediate state for years. It was the publication of his criticism on Addison, taken from one of the unauthorised transcripts, in Kippis’s Biographia Britannica, that instigated Blair to give his lectures to the press himself. A professor was thus always liable to have his unpublished thought= appropriated by another author without any acknowledgment or published in such an imperfect form that he would not acknowledge it himself. Therefore, if Smith were jealous over his rights to his own thought, Millar’s observation shows him to have had at any rate frequent cause but he was never motivated by the kind of unreasonable jealousy that he has sometimes been accused of. If in 1755 he resented with “honest and indignant warmth” a violation of his rights, there must have been some special provocation. Mr. James Bonar suggests that this manifesto of 1755 was directed against Adam Ferguson. But that is not probable. Ferguson’s name will readily occur in such a connection, because Dr. Carlyle tells us that= when he published his History of Civil Society in 1767, Smith accused him of having borrowed some of his ideas Ferguson replied that he had borrowed nothing from Smith. Instead he borrowed much from some French source before Smith. But it is unlikely that Ferguson caused the offence in 1755. Up until that year, he was generally living abroad as a chaplain with the regiment. It is improbable that= he began his History before returning to Scotland, or he had time between his return and the composition of Smith’s manifesto to do anything to cause such a remonstrance. Then he is found on the friendliest footing with Smith in the years immediately following the manifesto. Stewart’s allusion to the circumstances implies a graver breach than could be healed so summarily. Besides, had Ferguson caused the offence, Stewart would have probably avoided the subject in a paper to the Royal Society. Ferguson was still an active member of it.