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THE BE E,
LITERARY WEEKLY INTELLIGENCER,
WEDNESDAY, MAY II, 1791.
Anecdotes tending to throw light on the character and opinions of the late Adam Smith, L LD,-author of the wealth of nations, and several other well-known performances.
It has been often observed, that the hiftory of a literary perfon confifts chiefly of his works. The works of Dr. Adam Smith are fo generally known, as to stand in need neither of enumeration nor encomi
um in this place ;- -nor could a dry detail of the dates when he entered to fuch a school or college, or when he obtained fuch or such a step of advancement in rank or fortune, prove interefting. It is enough, if our readers be informed, that Mr. Smith having discharged for some years, with great applause, the important duties of profeffor of moral philofophy in Glasgow, was made choice of as a proper perfon to fuperintend the education of the Duke of Buccleugh, and to accompany him in his tour
to Europe. In the discharge of this duty, he gave fo much fatisfaction to all the parties concerned, as to be able, by their intereft, to obtain the place of commiffioner of customs and falt-duties in Scotland; with the emoluments arifing from which office, and his o-, ther acquirements, he was enabled to spend the latter part of his life in a state of independent tranquillity. Before his death, he burnt all his manufcripts, except one, which, we hear, contains a history of Astronomy, which will probably be laid before the public by his executors in due time.
Inftead of a formal drawn character of this great man, which often tends to prejudice rather than to inform, the Editor believes his readers will be much bet ter pleased to see fome features of his mind fairly delineated by himself, as in the following pages, which were transmitted to him under the ftrongest affurances of authenticity;-concerning which, indeed, he entertained no doubt after their perufal, from the coincidence of certain opinions here mentioned, with what he himself had heard maintained by that gentleman.
In the year 1780, I had frequent occafion to be in company with the late well-known Dr. Adam Smith. When bufinefs ended, our conversation took a literary turn; I was then young, inquifitive, and full of refpect for his abilities as an author. On his part, he was extremely communicative, and delivered himfelf, on every fubject, with a freedom, and even boldness, quite oppofite to the apparent referve of his appearance. I took down notes of his converfation, and have here sent you an abstract of them. I have neither added, altered, nor diminished, but merely put thein into fuch a shape as may fit them for the eye of your readers.
Of the late Dr. Samuel Johnfon, Dr. Smith had a very contemptuous opinion. "I have feen that creature," faid he, "bolt up in the midst of a mixed company; and, without any previous notice, fall
upon his knees behind a chair, repeat the Lord'sPrayer, and then refume his feat at table. He has played this freak over and over, perhaps five or fix: "times in the courfe of an evening. It is not hypo66 crify, but madness. Though an honeft fort of man "himself, he is always patronifing fcoundrels. Sa"vage, for instance, whom he fo loudly praifes, was "but a worthlefs fellow; his penfion of fifty pounds never lasted him longer than a few days. As a fample of his œconomy, you may take a circum"ftance, that Johnson himself once told me. It was,
at that period, fashionable to wear scarlet cloaks trim"med with gold lace; and the Doctor met him one day, just after he had got his penfion, with one of "these cloaks upon his back, while, at the fame time, "his naked toes were flicking through his fhoes."
He was no admirer of the Rambler or the Idler, and hinted, that he had never been able to read them.-He was averse to the conteft with America, yet he spoke highly of Johnfon's political pamphlets: But, above all, he was charmed with that refpecting Falkland's Ilands, as it displayed, in fuch forcible language, the madness of modern wars.
I inquired his opinion of the late Dr. Campbell, author of the Political Survey of Great Britain, He told me, that he never had been above once in his company; that the Doctor was a voluminous writer, and one of those authors who write from one end of the week to the other, without interruption. A gentleman, who happened to dine with Dr. Campbell in the house of a common acquaintance, remarked, that he would be glad to poffefs a complete fet of the Doctor's works. The hint was not loft; for next morning he was furprised at the appear. ance of a cart before his door. This cart was loaded with the books he had asked for ;-the driver's bill amounted to feventy pounds! As Dr. Campbell compofed a part of the univerfal histofy, and of the Biographia Britannica, we may suppose, that these two ponderous articles