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Anecdotes tending to throw light on the character and opinions of the late Adam Smith, L L D,-author of the wealth of nations, and feveral 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 encomium in this place ;-nor could a dry detail of the dates when he entered to such a school or college, or when he obtained fuch or such a step of advancement in rank or fortune, prove interesting. It is enough, if our readers be informed, that Mr. Smith having difcharged for fome years, with great applause, the important duties of profeffor of moral philosophy 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 VOL. III. A

to Europe. In the discharge of this duty, he gave fo much fatisfaction to all the parties concerned, as to be able, by their interest, to obtain the place of commisfioner 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 Aftronomy, 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 tranfmitted to him under the strongest 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 himself, on every subject, with a freedom, and even boldness, quite oppofite to the apparent referve of his appearance. I took down notes of his conversation, and have here sent you an abstract of them. I have neither added, altered, nor diminished, but merely put them into fuch a shape as may fit them for the eye of your readers.

Of the late Dr. Samuel Johnfon, Dr. Smith had a "I have feen that creavery contemptuous opinion. ture," said he, "bolt up in the midst of a mixed company; and, without any previous notice, fall



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upon his knees behind a chair, repeat the Lord's Prayer, 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 hypo"crify, but madness. Though an honeft fort of man. "himself, he is always patronifing fcoundrels. Savage, 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 economy, you may take a circum"ftance, that Johnson himself once told me. It was, at that period, fashionable to wear fcarlet 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 fticking through his fhoes."

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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 respecting 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 surprised 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 hiftofy, and of the Biographia Britannica, we may fuppofe, that these two ponderous articles

formed a great part of the cargo. The Doctor was in ufe to get a number of copies of his publications from the printer, and keep them in his house for such an opportunity. A gentleman who came in one day, exclaimed, with furprise, "Have you ever read all these "books.""Nay," replied Doctor Campbell, laughing, "I have written them."

Of Swift, Dr. Smith made frequent and honourable mention. He denied, that the Dean could ever have written the Pindarics printed under his name. He affirmed, that he wanted nothing but inclination to have become one of the greatest of all poets. "But in place of "this, he is only a goffiper, writing merely for the "entertainment of a private circle." He regarded Swift, both in tile and fentiment, as a pattern of correctness. He read to me fome of the fhort poetical addreffes to Stella, and was particularly pleafed with one Couplet." Say, Stella, feel you no content, reflecting "on a life well-fpent."--Though the Dean's verfes are remarkable for eafe and fimplicity, yet the compofition required an effort. To exprefs this difficulty, Swift used to say, that a verfe came from him like a guinea. Dr. Smith confidered the lines on his own death, as the Dean's poetical mafter-piece. He thought that upon the whole, his poetry was correct, after he fettled in Ireland, when he was, as he himself said, furrounded only by humble friends."


The Doctor had fome fingular opinions. I was furprised at hearing him prefer Livy to all other hiftorians, ancient and modern. He knew of no other who had even a pretence to rival him, if David Hume could not claim that honour. He regretted, in particular, the lofs of his account of the civil wars in the age of Julius Cæfar; and when I attempted to comfort him by the library at Fez, he cut me fhort. I would have expected Polybius to ftand much higher in his esteem than Livy, as having a much nearer resemblance to Dr. Smith's own manner of writing. Befides his miracles,

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Livy contains an immenfe number of the most obvious and grofs falfehoods.

He was no fanguine admirer of Shakespeare. "Vola "taire, you know," fays he, " calls Hamlet the "dream of a drunken favage."" He has good scenes, "but not one good play." The Doctor, however, would not have permitted any body elfe to pass this verdict with impunity: For when I once afterwards, in order to found him, hinted a difrespect for Hamlet, he gave a fmile, as if he thought I would detect him in a contradiction, and replied, "Yes! but ftill Ham"let is full of fine paffages."


He had an invincible contempt and averfion for blank verfe, Milton's always excepted. They do well, faid "he, to call it blank, for blank it is; I myself, even I, "who never could find a fingle rhime in my life, could "make blank verfe as fast as I could fpeak; nothing but "laziness hinders our tragic poets from writing, like the "French, in rhime. Dryden, had he poffeffed but a tenth part of Shakespeare's dramatic genius, would have brought rhyming tragedies into faihion here as well as "they are in France, and then the mob would have ad"mired them just as much as they how pretend to de"fpife them."

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Beatie's minstrel he would not allow to be called a poem; for it had, he faid, no plan, no beginning, middle, or end. He thought it only a feries of verfes, but a few of them very happy. As for the translation of the Iliad, 66 They do well," he said "to call it Pope's Homer; for it is not Homer's Homer. It has no refemblance to the majesty and fimplicity of the Greek." He read over to me l'Allegro, and Il' Penferofo, and explained the respective beauties of each, but added, that all the rest of Milton's fhort poems were trash. He could not imagine what had made Johnfon praise the poem on the death of Mrs. Killigrew, and compare it with Alexander's Feaft. The criticism had induced him to read it over, and with attention, twice, and he

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