Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 53.djvu/12

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Smith
Smith
6

visit to Glasgow was before Hume's death. This is gratifying to biographers who are shocked by the anecdote. That something of the kind took place at Strahan's, however, is undoubted, and may have been the foundation of Scott's story (Boswell, Johnson, ed. Hill, iii. 331, v. 369; other versions are in Wilberforce Correspondence, 1840, i. 40 n., and Edinburgh Review, October 1840; see Rae, pp. 155–8).

Among the admirers of Smith's ‘Moral Sentiments’ was Charles Townshend (1725–1767) [q. v.] He was stepfather of Henry Scott, third duke of Buccleuch [q. v.], and told Hume as soon as the book came out that he should like to place the duke under Smith's charge. He visited Smith at Glasgow in the summer. In October 1763, when the duke was about to leave Eton, the offer of a travelling tutorship was made accordingly, and accepted by Smith. He was to have his travelling expenses, with 300l. a year and a life-pension of the same amount. He applied for leave of absence in the following November, undertaking to pay over his salary to a substitute, and returning to his pupils the fees for his class. He had to force the money upon them (Tytler, Kames, i. 278). Soon after starting upon his travels he sent in his resignation (Rae, pp. 168–72).

Smith left London for Paris with the duke in February 1764. They met Hume at Paris, and proceeded almost immediately to Toulouse. They were joined in the autumn by the duke's younger brother, Hew Campbell Scott, and stayed at Toulouse for eighteen months, making a few excursions. They visited Montpellier during the session of the states of Languedoc; and Smith, though he could never talk French perfectly, went into society and was pleased with many of the provincial authorities. In August 1764 the party started for a tour through the south of France and went to Geneva, where they spent two months. Smith saw Voltaire, for whom he always had a profound respect. When Rogers in 1789 spoke of some one as ‘a Voltaire,’ Smith replied emphatically, ‘Sir, there has been but one Voltaire’ (Table Talk, 3rd edit. p. 45). He also met Charles Bonnet and Georges Louis Le Sage, the professor of physics. In December he went to Paris; Hume left shortly afterwards, but introduced Smith to his Parisian friends. During the next ten months Smith had much intercourse with philosophers in Parisian salons. He saw Holbach, Helvetius, D'Alembert, Necker, Turgot, and Quesnay. Morellet, with whom he became especially intimate, afterwards translated the ‘Wealth of Nations.’ Condorcet says that Turgot not only discussed economic questions with Smith, but continued to correspond with him afterwards. Stewart (Works, x. 47) denies, and apparently on sufficient grounds, that this correspondence ever existed; and no letters have been found. At a later period, however, Smith certainly obtained a valuable document through Turgot's ‘particular favour’ (Sinclair, Correspondence, i. 388). The influence of the French economists upon Smith's opinions has been much discussed; but it is clear that the facts of the intercourse at this time throw no doubt upon the view that Smith reached his main theories independently; and that he was influenced only so far as discussions with eminent men of similar tendencies would tend to clear and stimulate his mind. He told Rogers in 1789 that he thought Turgot (Clayden, Early Life of Rogers, p. 95) to be an honest man, but too little acquainted with human nature—a remark which may have been suggested by Turgot's later career.

While in Paris Smith had some concern in Hume's quarrel with Rousseau [see under Hume, David, (1711–1776)], and was anxious, as long as possible, to prevent Hume from making the affair public. A story is told of Smith's love of an English lady at this time, and the love of a French marquise for Smith. Neither passion was returned (Currie, Corresp. 1831, ii. 317). Stewart also mentioned a disappointment in an early and long attachment to a lady who survived him (Works, x. 97), but nothing more is known of any romance in his life.

On 18 Oct. 1766 Smith's younger pupil, Hew Campbell Scott, was murdered in the street in Paris. Smith at once returned with the remains, reaching Dover on 1 Nov. He stayed in London superintending a third edition of the ‘Moral Sentiments’ and reading in the British Museum. On 21 May 1767 he was elected F.R.S. He had by this time returned to Kirkcaldy, where he lived with his mother and his cousin Jane Douglas, who had retired thither from Glasgow after his resignation of the professorship. Smith was now occupied with the composition of the ‘Wealth of Nations.’ He visited the Duke of Buccleuch, who had been married on 3 May 1767, and whose settlement at Dalkeith was the occasion of a great entertainment. The duke testified afterwards that they had never had a disagreement, and the friendship lasted till Smith's death. Smith then stayed quietly at Kirkcaldy, and in February 1770 Hume writes to him of a report that he was going to London with a view to the publication of his book. Smith, however, was delayed in his work, partly by ill-health;