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notice by his passion for books, and by the extraordinary powers of his memory. He was also observed, even at this early period of life, to have contracted those habits of absence in company, and of talking to himself, for which he was afterwards so remarkable.
In 1737, he was sent to the university of Glasgow, where, it is said, he evinced an uncommon partiality for the study of mathematics and natural philosophy. Being designed for the English church, he left that place in about three years, and entered, in 1740, an exhibitioner on Snell's foundation, at Baliol college, Oxford. But to this celebrated seminary he acknowledged very slender obligations. He had, however, attained a solid foundation of knowledge, and also the precious habits of attention, and the most industrious application. Here he diligently pursued his favourite speculations in private, interrupted only by the regular calls of scholastic discipline. He cultivated, with the greatest assiduity and success, the study of the languages, both ancient and modern; and formed an intimate acquaintance with the works of the poets of his own country, as well as with those of Greece and Rome, France and Italy. Of the turns and delicacies of the English tongue, it has been observed, he then gained such a critical knowledge, as was scarcely to be expected from his northern education. With the view of improving his style, he employed himself in frequent translations, particularly from the French; a practice which he used to recommend to all who cultivate the art of writing. His modest deportment, and his secret studies, however, provoked, it has been said, the jealousy or the suspicion of his superiors. It has been mentioned, that the heads of the college having thought proper to visit his chamber, found him engaged in perusing Hume's Treatise of Human Nature, then recently published. This the reverend inquisitors seized, while they severely reprimanded the young philosopher.
After a residence of seven years at Oxford, he returned, against the wishes of his friends, to Kirkaldy, the place of his nativity, where he lived for some time with his mother, without determining on any fixed plan of life; Mr. Smith having thus chosen to forego every prospect of church preferment, rather than do violence to his conscience by preaching a particular system of tenets.
In 1748, being then in the twenty-fifth year of his age, he took up his residence in the capital of Scotland, when he first entered into public life, by delivering lectures, under the patronage of Lord Kames, on rhetoric and the belles lettres, which he continued for two years. These lectures were never published; but the substance of them appears to have been afterwards communicated to Dr. Blair, as he acknowledges, in his Lectures, to have been indebted to Dr. Smith for a manuscript treatise, from which he had taken several ideas in the eighteenth lecture, on the general characters of style, particularly the plain and the simple; and also the characters of those English authors belonging to the several classes in that and the following lecture. In 1751, he was chosen professor of logic in the university of Glasgow. Of the manner in which he discharged the duties of this important situation, it would be difficult now to present a more satisfactory account than that which has been given by one of his own pupils.
In the professorship of logic,' it is observed, Mr. Smith soon saw the necessity of departing widely from the plan that had been followed by his predecessors, and of directing the attention of his pupils to studies of a more interesting and useful nature than the logic and me taphysics of the schools. Accordingly, after exhibiting a general view of the powers of the mind, and explaining so much of the ancient logic as was requisite to gratify curiosity, with respect to an artificial mode of reasoning, which had once occupied the universal attention of the learned, he dedicated all the rest of his time to the delivery of a system of rhetoric and belles lettres.'
During the following year, he was nominated professor of moral philosophy in the same university. By this appointment he was peculiarly gratified, and the duties of it he was well fitted to discharge, as it embraced the study of his favourite science, political economy, many of the doctrines of which, even then, had been familiarised to his mind. After entering on the duties of his new situation, he ap pears to have turned his attention to the division of the science of morals, which he was induced to divide into four parts. The first contained Natural Theology, in which he considered the proofs of the being and attributes of God, and those principles of the human mind upon which religion is founded. The second comprehended Ethics, strictly so called. In the third, he treated, at more length, of that branch of morality which relates to Justice, and which, being susceptible of precise and accurate rules, is capable of a more systematic demonstration. In the fourth, he examined those political regulations which are founded upon Expediency, and which are calculated to increase the riches, the pover, and the prosperity of a state.
His lectures on these subjects were always distinguished by a luminous division of the subject, and by fulness and variety of illustration; and as they were delivered in a plain unaffected manner, they were well calculated to afford pleasure as well as instruction. They, accordingly, excited a degree of interest, and gave rise to a spirit of inquiry in the great commercial city of Glasgow, from which the most favourable consequences resulted. His reputation extended so widely, that, on his account alone, a considerable number of students, from different parts of the country, were attracted to the university of that city; and the science which he taught became so popular, that even the trifling peculiarities in his pronunciation and manner of speaking, were often objects of imitation.
During the time Mr. Smith was thus successfully engaged in his academical labours, he was gradually laying the foundation of a more extensive reputation. In the year 1759, he published his Theory of Moral Sentiments, or An Essay towards an Analysis of the Principles by which Men naturally judge concerning the Conduct and Character, first of their Neighbours, and afterwards of Themselves.' This work was founded on the second division of his lectures, and was divided into six parts:-The propriety of action: Merit and demerit, or the objects of reward and punishment: The foundation of our judgments concerning our own sentiments and conduct, and of the sense of duty:
The effect of utility upon the sentiment of approbation: The influence of custom and fashion upon the sentiments of moral approbation and disapprobation: And, lastly, The character of virtue. To these were added, a brief view of the different systems of ancient and modern philosophy, which is universally acknowledged to be the most candid and luminous that has yet appeared.
This Essay soon attracted a great share of the public attention, by the ingenuity of the reasonings, and the perspicuity with which they were displayed. The principle on which it is founded may be said to be, That the primary objects of our moral perceptions are the actions of other men; and that our moral judgments, with respect to our own conduct, are only applications to ourselves of decisions which we have already passed on the conduct of others. With this doctrine the author thinks all the most celebrated theories of morality coincide in part, and from some partial view of it he apprehends they are all derived. To the same work was subjoined a short treatise on the first formation of language, and considerations on the different genius of those which were original and compounded.
The Theory of Moral Sentiments, immediately on its publication, procured a splendid reputation to the author, and led to a change in his situation in life, that was to him no less pleasing in itself, than gratifying from the means by which it was brought about. But the following lively letter to him, at that time, from his friend Mr. Hume, dated London, 12th April, 1759, will best show the manner in which this work was received, and the influence which it had in deciding on the future life of its author :
'I give you thanks for the agreeable present of your Theory. Wedderburn and I made presents of our copies to such of our acquaintances as we thought good judges, and proper to spread the reputation of the book. I sent one to the Duke of Argyll, to Lord Lyttleton, Horace Walpole, Soame Jenyns, and Burke, an Irish gentleman, who wrote lately a very pretty treatise on the sublime. Millar desired my permission to send one, in your name, to Dr. Warburton. I have delayed writing to you till I could tell you something of the success of the book, and could prognosticate, with some probability, whether it should be finally damned to oblivion, or should be registered in the temple of immortality. Though it has been published only a few weeks, I think there appear already such strong symptoms, that I can almost venture to foretel its fate. It is, in short, this But I have been interrupted in my letter, by a foolish, impertinent visit of one who has lately come from Scotland. He tells me, that the university of Glasgow intend to declare Rouet's office vacant, upon his going abroad with Lord Hope. I question not but you will have our friend Fergusson in your eye, in case another project for procuring him a place in the university of Edinburgh should fail. Fergusson has very much polished and improved his treatise on Refinement, and with some amendments, it will make an admirable book, and discovers an elegant and a singular genius. The Epigoniad, I hope, will do; but it is somewhat up-hill work. As I doubt not but you consult the reviewers sometimes at present, you will see in the Critical Review a letter upon that poem, and I desire you to employ your conjectures in finding out the author. Let me see a sample of your skill in knowing hands, by your guessing at the person. I am afraid of Lord Kames's Law Tracts. A man might as well think of making a fine sauce
by a mixture of wormwood and aloes, as an agreeable composition by joining metaphysics and Scotch law. However, the book, I believe, has merit, though few people will take the pains of diving into it. But to return to your book and its success in this town, I must tell you- -A plague of interruptions! I ordered myself to be denied ; and yet here is one that has broke in upon me again. He is a man of letters, and we have had a good deal of literary conversation. You told me that you was curious of literary anecdotes, and therefore I shall inform you of a few that have come to my knowledge. I believe I have mentioned to you already Helvetius's book De l'Esprit. It is worth your reading, not for its philosophy, which I do not highly value, but for its agreeable composition. I had a letter from him a few days ago, wherein he tells me that my name was much oftener in the manuscript, but that the censor of books at Paris obliged him to strike it out. Voltaire has lately published a small work, called Candide, ou l'Optimisme I shall give a detail of it.But what is all this to my book? say you. .. My dear Mr. Smith, have patience; compose yourself to tranquillity; show yourself a philosopher in practice as well as profession; think on the emptiness, and rashness, and futility of the common judgments of men; how little they are regulated by reason in any subject, much more in philosophical subjects, which so far exceed the comprehension of the vulgar.
-Non si quid turbida Roma
Elevat, accedas; examenve improbum in illa
A wise man's kingdom is his own breast, or if he ever looks farther, it will only be to the judgment of a select few, who are free from prejudices, and capable of examining his work. Nothing, indeed, can be a stronger presumption of falsehood than the approbation of the multitude; and Phocion, you know, always suspected himself of some blunder when he was attended with the applauses of the populace.
Supposing, therefore that you have duly prepared yourself for the worst, by all these reflections, I proceed to tell you the melancholy news,-that your book has been very unfortunate; for the public seem disposed to applaud it extremely. It was looked for by the foolish people with some impatience and the mob of literati are beginning already to be very loud in its praises. Three bishops called yesterday at Millar's shop, in order to buy copies, and to ask questions about the author. The bishop of Peterborough said he had passed the evening in a company where he heard it extolled above all books in the world. The Duke of Argyll is more decisive than he uses to be in its favour. I suppose he either considers it as an exotic, or thinks the author will be serviceable to him in the Glasgow elections. Lord Lyttleton says, that Robertson, and Smith, and Bower, are the glories of English literature. Oswald protests, he does not know whether he has reaped more instruction or entertainment from it. But you may easily judge what reliance can be put on his judgment, who has been engaged all his life in public business, and who never sees any faults in his friends. Millar exults, and brags that two thirds of the edition are already sold, and that he is now sure of success. You see what a son of the earth that is, to value books only by the profit they bring him. In that view, I believe, it may prove a very good book.
Charles Townsend, who passes for the cleverest fellow in England, is so taken with the performance, that he said to Oswald, he would put the Duke ⚫ of Buccleugh under the author's care, and would make it worth his while to accept of that charge. As soon as I heard this, I called on him twice with
a view of talking with him about the matter, and of convincing him of the propriety of sending that young nobleman to Glasgow; for I could not hope, that he could offer you any terms which would tempt you to renounce your professorship. But I missed him. Mr. Townsend passes for being a little uncertain in his resolutions; so, perhaps, you need not build much on this sally.
In recompense for so many mortifying things, which nothing but truth could have extorted from me, and which I could easily have multiplied to a greater number, I doubt not but you are so good a christian as to return good for evil, and to flatter my vanity, by telling me, that all the godly in Scotland abuse me for my account of John Knox and the reformation.'
Mr. Smith having completed, and given to the world his system of ethics, that subject afterwards occupied but a small part of his lectures. His attention was now chiefly directed to the illustration of those other branches of science which he taught; and, accordingly, he seems to have taken up the resolution, even at that early period, of publishing an investigation into the principles of what he considered to be the only other branch of Moral Philosophy,-Jurisprudence, the subject of which formed the third division of his lectures. At the conclusion of the Theory of Moral Sentiments, after treating of the importance of a system of Natural Jurisprudence, and remarking that Grotius was the first, and perhaps the only writer, who had given any thing like a system of those principles which ought to run through, and be the foundation of the law of nations, Mr. Smith promised, in another discourse, to give an account of the general principles of law and government, and of the different revolutions they have undergone in the different ages and periods of society, not only in what concerns justice, but in what concerns police, revenue, and arms, and whatever else is the object of law.
Four years after the publication of this work, and after a residence of thirteen years in Glasgow, Mr. Smith, in 1763, was induced to relinquish his professorship, by an invitation from the Hon. Mr. Townsend, who had married the Duchess of Buccleugh, to accompany the young Duke, her son, in his travels. Being indebted for this invitation to his own talents alone, it must have appeared peculiarly flattering to him. Such an appointment was, besides, the more acceptable, as it afforded him a better opportunity of becoming acquainted with the internal policy of other states, and of completing that system of political economy, the principles of which he had previously delivered in his lectures, and which it was then the leading object of his studies to perfect.
Mr. Smith did not, however, resign his professorship till the day after his arrival in Paris, in February 1764. He then addressed the following letter to the Right Honourable Thomas Millar, lord advocate of Scotland, and then rector of the college of Glasgow:
MY LORD,-I take this first opportunity after my arrival in this place, which was not till yesterday, to resign my office into the hands of your lordship, of the dean of faculty, of the principal of the college, and of all my other most respectable and worthy colleagues. Into your and their hands, there