H́nh ảnh trang

He paffed the younger part of his life in a cloyster at Oxford, having been one of Snell's exhibitioners, trom Glasgow college to Baliol.

His mother was a most virtuous and excellent woman, and impreffed the Doctor's mind, when a boy, with the most exalted and correct principles of conduct, which he retained and improved to a degree I thought exceedingly uncommon.

He was always of Dr. Young the poet's opinion, that high worth was "elevated place; that it made more “than monarchs made, an honest man !"

I never knew a man more amiable in this refped; but when he met with honeft men whom he liked, and who courted him, he would believe almost any thing they faid. Had he been a friend of the worthy ingenious Horrox, he would have believed that the moon fometimes disappeared in a clear sky without the interpofition of a cloud; or of another truly honest and respectable man, that a profeffor of mathematics at Upfal had a tail of fix inches long at his rump. The three great avenues to Smith, were his mother, his books, and his political opinions. The conqueft of him was easy through any of these channels; and this came to be very foon known by the Dolphins that played in the wake of his great navigation in literature.

He approached to republicanism in his political principles; and confidered a commonwealth as the platform for a monarchy, hereditary fucceffion in the chief magiftrate being neceffary only to prevent the commonwealth from being fhaken by ambition, or absolute dominion introduced by the confequences of contending factions. Yet Pitt and Dundas, praifing his book, and adopting its principles in parliament, brought him down from London a Tory, and a Pittite, instead of a Whig and a Foxite, as he was when he fet out. By and bye, the impreflion wore off, and his former fentiments returned, but unconnected either with Pitt, Fox, or any body elfe. I faw him for the last time in


the February that preceded his death. I faid, in taking leave of him; " My dear Doctor, I hope to fee you oftener when I come to town next February." He fqueezed my hand, and faid, "My dear Afcanius, I may be alive then, and perhaps half-a-dozen of Februaries; but you never will fee your old friend any more. I find that the machine is breaking down; fo that I fhall be little better than a mummy."

I found a great inclination to vifit the Doctor, when I heard of his laft illness; but the mummy ftared me in the face, and I was intimidated.

Smith's well placed affection for Hume, as a man, hindered him from being a Chriftian, from the fame foible I have already defcribed.

He had no ear for mufic, nor any perception of the fublime or beautiful in compofition, either in poetry or language of any kind.

He was too much of a geometrician to have much tafte, though he had the jufteft perception of moral beauty and excellence.

With respect to his works, his theory of moral fentiments is, in all its effential parts, juft, founded on truth and nature. He points out the foundation of the juft, the fit, the decent, in our most common and allowable paffions, making approbation and disapprobation as fixed by our instincts, the tefts of virtue and vice; and fhewing that those are founded on fympathy, raifing from this fimple and obvious truth, a moft beautiful intellectual fabric.

His effay concerning the causes of the wealth of nations, is a complete analysis of fociety, beginning with the first rudiments of the fimpleft manual labour, and rifing by an easy and natural gradation to the highest attainment of mental powers. In this book, not only arts and commerce, but finance, juftice, public police, the economy of armies, and the fyftem of education, are confidered and argued upon, often profoundly, alays plaufibly and clearly, and with refpect to wars

and public debts, and to monopolies in trade, and bounties in manufactures, efpecially as applied to the ftate of Great Britain and her colonies, remarkably clofe, as well as luminous in argument.

In many reipects, Adam Smith was a chafte difciple of Epicurus, as that philofopher is properly underfood; and Smith's laft act refembled that of Epicurus, leaving as a legacy to his friend and patron, the children of his Metrodorus, the excellent Cullen. O venerable; amiable, and worthy man, why was you not a Chriftian!

I am, Mr. Editor, with much inclination to promote the fuccefs of your literary undertaking,

Your humble Servant,


On the Practicability of rearing Silk Worms in Scat


IN the feventeenth number of this work, fome mention is made of the poffibility of rearing filk-worms in this country, and the useful purposes which this branch of manufacture might be made to ferve.-Since that time, I have had many letters on the fubject, the greatest part of which exprefs a doubt of the poffibility of introducing this branch of induftry into a country whofe climate is fo cold as that of Scotland. The prejudice is natural, and ought to be removed by fuch facts and arguments, as could not have come under the cognizance of perfons who have not had ccafion particularly to advert to this fubject.

Every production, whether of the animal or vegetable kingdom, that has never been reared in this country, is naturally fuppofed to be too tender to bear our climate, when first introduced into it; nor can this prejudice be fully removed, but by experience, even where reafoning a priori might have been fufficient. -

The larch tree is not a native of this country;—it was introduced into it, even almoft within our own memory;-yet it is now known to be much more hardy, and to thrive better in a variety of foils than the Scotch fir itself, and many of our other indigenous trees: Yet the Duke of Athol, who brought the feeds of this tree from the bleak hills of Carniola, thought it neceffary to preserve it in his green houfe for many winters; and it was only neceffity that obliged him, at last, to allow it to take its chance without doors, as it had become too large to be contained within the house. Then he had the fatisfaction to perceive that it not only continued alive abroad, but profpered there much better than it did while cooped up in the greenhoufe.

But if the general prejudice be fo strong, as to make us even dread that plants from a cold region will be too tender to profper in the open air here, it is much more natural to be doubtful of the fuccefs of those that come from climates that are much hotter than our own; though experience has demonftrated, that, even in this respect, we may often judge erroncoufly.-The fweetfcented pea, fo commonly cultivated in our gardens, is a native of the island of Ceylon, in the torrid Zone ;-yet that pea not only lives in the open air in this country, but is even the hardiest annual pea with which we are acquainted; as it is the only fort that bears our winter's cold, without any fhelter.-No inference, therefore, that can be abfolutely depended upon, can be drawn, as to the hardinefs of any vegetable, merely from confidering the nature of the climate, where it was firft accidentally difcovered.

I fhall foon have occafion to fhew, that wherever the mulberry tree can be made to thrive, the filk-worm may be reared, and that cold regions are, in fome refpects, more favourable for the infect itself, than hot climates ;-yet prejudice is fo much more powerful in influencing mankind thair reafon, that it has required

some thousands of years to ascertain the truth of this important fact, as a flight sketch of the hiftory of the progrefs of filk-rearing will clearly fhew.

To the Chinese, the Europeans are indebted for the knowledge of this curious infect, and the ufes to which its labours can be applied in manufactures. How long they have been in poffeffion of this branch of knowledge, cannot be ascertained; but it is not two thoufand years fince even the very name of filk was unknown in any part of Europe. When the Roman power extended over half the globe, this brilliant and ornamental article of drefs was not known. From Egypt, it firft was imported into Rome ;-and among all the articles of elegance belonging to the luxurious Cleopatra, none seemed fo much to excite the admiration and astonishment of the Romans, as to obferve, that the very fails of her pleasure barge were made of filk. From that time, the lords of the world became acquainted with this article, and it served to ornament the robes of emperors, and to adorn ladies of the highest rank, who alone were able to purchase these coftly trappings."

For many centuries, raw filk could only be procured from China;-nor was it then believed poffible to produce it in any other part of the world. At last, however, fome begging monks, who had wandered as far as China, having observed the manner in which they fed the worms, and performed the other parts of the operation, thought it might be introduced into Greece, where they knew the mulberry tree grew very well. They accordingly obtained fome of the eggs, which, during the winter season, they transported with fafety into Greece; -and having instructed the natives in the mode of managing them, these ingenious people, encouraged by the high price that filk then bore, gradually perfected themfelves in this branch of bufinefs, and at length found that filk could be reared to as great perfection in Greece, as in China.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« TrướcTiếp tục »