Chap 12: Toulouse

Chap. 12: Toulouse

  • Smith joined his pupil in London in the end of January 1764.
    • They set out for France in the start of February.
    • They remained abroad 2.5 years:
      • 10 days in Paris,
      • 18 months in Toulouse,
      • 2 months traveling in the South of France,
      • 2 months in Geneva, and
      • 10 months in Paris again.
  • Smith kept no journal and wrote as few letters as possible.
    • But from various sources, we can fill in some of the outlines of their travel.
  • At Dover, they were joined by Sir James Macdonald of Sleat.
    • He was a young baronet who had been at Eton College with the Duke of Buccleugh.
    • He had been living in France almost since the re-establishment of peace.
  • Sir James was heir of the old Lords of the Isles.
    • He was son of the lady who, with her factor Kingsburgh, harboured Prince Charlie and Flora Macdonald in Skye;
    • He was then filling the world of letters in Paris and London with astonishment at:
      • the extent of his knowledge and
      • the variety of his intellectual gifts.
  •  When he grew older, he would choose to know less. (Walpole)
    • Sir James seemed as marvelous as Hume. (Grimm)
  • He accompanied Smith and the Duke to Paris when they arrived on February 13. (Smith’s letter to Glasgow University’s Rector) .
  • They stayed not more than 10 days in Paris [Pg 175]
    • For it took then six days to go from Paris to Toulouse.
  • They were in Toulouse on March 4.
  • Smith does not appear to have personally met any of the eminent men of letters during this short stay in Paris.
    • He never mentions any of them in his letters to Hume from Toulouse.
    • Though he occasionally mentions the Englishmen he first met at that time.
  • He probably could not as yet speak French.
    • For even to the last he could only speak it very imperfectly.
  • Most of their time in Paris seems to have been spent with
    • Hume
    • Sir James Macdonald and
    • Lord Beauchamp, who was:
      • Hume’s pupil and
      • Sir James’s chief friend.
  • Paris was merely a halting-place for them.
    • Their immediate destination was Toulouse
      • It was then a favourite resort of the English.
      • It was the second city of France.
      • It still wore much of the style of an ancient capital.
      • It was the seat of
        • an archbishopric,
        • a university,
        • a parliament,
        • modern academies of science and art
          • These made some ado with their annual Jeux Floraux.
  • The province’s nobility still had their town houses there and lived in them all winter.
    • The society was more varied and refined than anywhere else in France out of Paris.
  • Abbé Seignelay Colbert was a cousin of David Hume.
    • He was among the English residents.
    • He had entered the Gallican Church
    • He was then Vicar-General of the diocese of Toulouse.
  • Smith brought a letter from Hume to the Abbé.
    • The Abbé replies to Hume on March 4.
      • He thanked Hume for introducing Smith.
    • He says Smith appeared to be all that was said of him in the letter.
    • He writes:
      • “He has only just arrived.
      • I have only seen him for an instant.
      • I am very sorry that they have not found the Archbishop here.
      • Six weeks ago, he went to Montpellier, whence he will soon go to Paris.
      • He told me he wanted to meet you.
      • I fear that my long black [Pg 176]cassock will frighten the Duke of Buccleugh.
      • But apart from that I will make his stay here as agreeable and useful as possible.”[140]
  • He writes again on April 22 after having a month’s experience of his new friends:
    • “Mr. Smith is a sublime man.
      • His heart and mind are equally admirable.
    • Here now are:
      • Messrs. Malcolm
      • Mr. Urquhart of Cromartie
        • His pupil, the Duke, is a very amiable spirit.
          • He does his exercises well and is making progress in French.
    • You could recommend Toulouse to any English or Scotch who wants to study.
      • Here, there is
        • a very good academy,
        • much society, and
        • very distinguished people.”
  • In a subsequent letter he says:
    • “There are many English people here.
    • The district suits them well.”[141]
  • Abbé Colbert was Smith’s chief guide and friend in the South of France.
    • He was the eldest son of Mr. Cuthbert of Castlehill in Inverness-shire.
    • He was head of the old Highland family to which Colbert, the famous minister of Louis XIV, was so anxious to trace his descent.
      • Colbert petitioned the Scotch Privy Council for a birth-brieve, or certificate to attest his descent from the Castlehill family.
        • The petition was refused through the Duke of Lauderdale’s influence.
      • His successor was the Marquis de Seignelay.
        • He found the Scotch Parliament more accommodating in 1686 than the Scotch Privy Council had been.
        • He obtained the birth-brieve in an Act of 1686.
        • It was passed so that Colbert’s “illustrious and noble family may be restored to us their friends and to their native country.”
        • It declared that their family:
          • came from the south of Scotland,
          • took their name from St. Cuthbert
            • The Act says it was pronounced by the Scotch Culbert.
              • But it was “soaftened” by the French into Colbert.
          • received their arms for their valour in the battle of Harlaw.

[Pg 177]

  • The link between the Scotch Cuthberts and the French Colberts may or may not be fabulous.
    • But it was a golden link to many members of the Castlehill family.
      • They emigrated to France.
      • They gained high positions through their French connections.
  • One of these was the present Abbé.
    • He had come over in 1750 at 14.
    • He was now Vicar-General of Toulouse, at 28.
      • In 1781, he made Bishop of Rodez.
        • As Bishop, he distinguished himself by his work in improving his diocese’s agriculture and industry.
    • As member of the States General in 1789, he became the hero of the hour in Paris.
      • He was carried shoulder-high through the streets for proposing the clergy’s union with the Third Estate.
    • When the clergy’s Civil Constitution was declared, he refused to submit.
    • He returned to this country and spent the remainder of his days as Secretary to Louis XVIII.
  • Loménie de Brienne was the Archbishop of Toulouse.
    • He became the Cardinal and Minister of France afterwards.
    • He wanted to meet Hume.
  • Either Smith had brought with him from Paris an introduction to the Archbishop, or Hume had asked the Abbe to give him one. (The Abbé’s first letter)
    • Archbishop was then the ablest man in the Gallican Church. (Walpole)
    • Hume said the Archbishop was the only man in France who could restore France’s greatness.
  • When he obtained the opportunity he signally falsified Hume’s prognostication, and
    • He much to precipitate the Revolution by his incapacity.
  • Smith must have met him occasionally during his protracted sojourn at Toulouse.
    • though we have no evidence that he did, and
  • the Archbishop was rather notorious for his absence from his see.
    • If he did meet his Grace, he would have found him as advanced an economist as himself,
  • He had been a college friend [Pg 178]of Turgot and Morellet at the Sorbonne.
    • He became a strong advocate of their new economic principles.
    • He succeeded in getting the principle of free trade in corn adopted by the States of Languedoc.
  • Whether they were personally acquainted or not, the Archbishop does not appear to have cherished any profound regard for Smith.
    • When he was Minister of France, he refused Morellet the trifling sum of 100 francs.
      • The Abbé asked him to pay for the printing of his translation of the Wealth of Nations.
  • During Smith’s first six months at Toulouse, he does not seem to have seen:
    • the Archbishop, nor
    • much of anybody (the following letter).
  • He found Toulouse extremely dull.
    • He says that his life in Glasgow was dissipation in comparison.
  • They had not received the letters of recommendation they had expected from the Duc de Choiseul.
    • For society, they were confined to the Abbé Colbert and the English residents.
  • For a diversion, Smith contemplates an excursion to Bordeaux.
    • He suggests a visit for a month from Sir James Macdonald, for the sake of:
      • his agreeable society, and
      • the service “his influence and example” would render the Duke.
  • To mitigate his solitude, he personally began to write a book—the Wealth of Nations—”to pass away the time.
    • You may believe I have very little to do.”
  • They had arrived in Toulouse on March 3 or 4.
    • But it is on July 5 before Smith thinks of writing Hume.
    • At least the following letter reads as if it were the first since they parted:—

My Dearest Friend

  • The Duke of Buccleugh soon proposes to set out for Bordeaux, where he intends to stay a fortnight or more.
    • Please send us recommendations to:
      • the Duke of Richelieu,
      • the Marquis de Lorges, and
      • the Intendant of the Province.
  • Mr. Townshend [Pg 179]assured me that the Duc de Choiseul was to recommend us to all the people of fashion here and everywhere else in France.
    • However, we have heard nothing of these recommendations.
    • We have had our way to make as well as we could by the help of the Abbé, who is a stranger here almost as much as we.
  • We have not made very great progress.
    • The Duke is acquainted with no Frenchman.
    • I cannot cultivate the acquaintance of the few whom I have met as I cannot bring them to our house.
    • I am not always at liberty to go to theirs.
  • My life at Glasgow was a pleasurable dissipated life compared to my life here now.
    • I have begun to write a book to pass away the time.
    • You may believe I have very little to do.
  • If Sir James would come and spend a month with us in his travels, it would be a great satisfaction to me and he might by his influence and example be of great service to the Duke.
    • Please mention these only to him.
  • Remember me in the most respectful manner to Lord Beauchamp and to Dr. Trail,[142]

Believe me, my dear friend, ever yours,

Adam Smith.

Toulouse, July 5, 1764.[143]

  • The trip to Bordeaux was taken probably in August in the company of Abbé Colbert.
    • At Bordeaux they fell in with Colonel Barré, the furious orator.
    • His invective made even Charles Townshend quail
    • but he was now
      • visiting his French kinsfolk, and
      • making the hearts of these simple people glad with his natural kindnesses.
    • He seems to have :
      • been much with Smith and his party during their stay in Bordeaux, and
      • accompanied them back to Toulouse.
    • For he writes Hume on September 4 from Toulouse:
      • “I thank you for your last letter from Paris, which I received just as Smith and his élève and L’Abbé Colbert were sitting down to dine with me at Bordeaux.
      • The latter is a very honest fellow and deserves to be a [Pg 180]bishop; make him one if you can….
      • Why will you triumph and talk of platte couture?
      • You have friends on both sides.
      • Smith agrees with me in thinking that you are turned soft by the délices of the French Court, and
      • that you don’t write in that nervous manner you was remarkable for in the more northern climates.
      • Besides, what is still worse, you take your politics from your Elliots, Rigbys, and Selwyns.”[144]
  • Smith was already acquainted with Barré before he left Scotland,
    • where the colonel, for services rendered to Lord Shelburne, held the lucrative post of Governor of Stirling Castle; and
  • Now he could not go sight-seeing in a French town under two better guides than Barré and Colbert—a Frenchman who had become an English politician, and an Englishman who had become a French ecclesiastic.
  • He seems to have been struck with the contrast between:
    • the working class condition in Bordeaux and
    • their condition in Toulouse.
  • He had already been struck with the same contrast between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
    • In Bordeaux, they were generally industrious, sober, and thriving.
    • In Toulouse and the parliament towns, they were idle and poor.
  • The reason was that Bordeaux was a commercial town, the entrepôt of the wine trade of a rich wine district.
    • But Toulouse and the rest were merely residential towns.
      • They employed little capital more than was necessary to supply their own consumption.
  • The common people were always better off in Bordeaux where they lived on capital, than in Toulouse, where they lived on revenue.[145]
    • But while he speaks as if he thought the people of Bordeaux more sober and more industrious than the people of Toulouse, he looked on the inhabitants of southern France generally as among the soberest people in Europe.
    • He ascribes their sobriety to the cheapness of their liquor.
    • He says “People are seldom [Pg 181]guilty of excess, in what is their daily fare.”
  • He tells that when a French regiment came from the northern French provinces, where wine was somewhat dear, to be quartered in the southern, where wine was very cheap, the soldiers were at first debauched by the cheapness and novelty of good wine.
  • But after a few months’ residence most of them became as sober as the rest of the inhabitants.
  • He thinks the same effect might occur in this country from a reduction of the wine, malt, and ale duties.[146]
  • They also visited some of the notabilities, to whom the Earl of Hertford had sent them the letters of introduction for which Smith had asked through Hume.
  • The province’s governor was away at the time.
    • But Smith hoped to see him on a second visit to Bordeaux he was presently to pay to meet his pupil’s younger brother on his way round from Paris to Toulouse.
  • But they found the Duke of Richelieu at home.
    • He was the gallant old field-marshal, the hero of 100 fights and 1,000 scandals.
    • He seems to have received them with great civility and distinction.
    • Smith used to have much to say ever afterwards of him.
  • The excursion to Bordeaux in August was so agreeable that they made another—probably in September—up to the fashionable watering-place Bagnères de Bigorre.
  • In October, Smith wrote the following letter to Hume.
    • At that time, they were:
      • on the eve of the second visit to Bordeaux and
      • contemplating after that a visit to Montpellier, when the States of Languedoc—the local assembly of the province—met there in the end of November.

Toulouse, October 21, 1764.

My Dear Hume

  • I take this opportunity of Mr. Cook’s going to Paris to return to you, and through you to the Ambassador, [Pg 182]my very sincere and hearty thanks for the very honourable manner in which he  mentioned me to the Duke of Richelieu in the letter of recommendation which you sent us.
  • There was one small mistake in it.
    • He called me Robinson instead of Smith.
    • I corrected this mistake myself before the Duke delivered the letter.
  • We were all treated by the Maréchal with the utmost Politeness and attention, particularly the Duke, whom he distinguished in a very proper manner.
  • The Intendant was not at Bordeaux.
    • But we shall soon have an opportunity to deliver his letter, as we propose to return to that place in order to meet my Lord’s Brother.
  • Mr. Cook[147] goes to Caen to:
    • wait on Mr. Scot, and
    • attend him from Caen to Toulouse.
  • He will pass by Paris.
    • I must beg the favour of you that
    • As soon as he is in town, please call on him and carry him to the Ambassador’s and to any other place he chooses.
  • Please do the same for Sir James.
  • Mr. Cook will let you know when he comes to town.
  • I have great reason to entertain the most favourable opinion of Mr. Scot.
  • His company will be useful and agreeable to his Brother.
  • Our expedition to Bordeaux and another we have made since to Bagnères has greatly changed the Duke.
  • He begins now to familiarise himself to French company/
  • I shall spend the rest of the time we are to live together in Peace and contentment, and in gaiety and amusement.
  • When Mr. Scot joins us we propose to go to see the meeting of the States of Languedoc at Montpelier.
  • Could you promise us recommendations to the Comte d’Eu, to the Archbishop of Narbonne, and to the Intendant?
  • These expeditions, I find, are of the greatest service to my Lord.—

I ever am, my dear friend, most, faithfully yours,

Adam Smith.[148]

  • A few days after that letter, Smith writes Hume again.
    • He introduces one of the English residents in Toulouse, Mr. Urquhart of Cromartie, as Abbé Colbert describes him in one of his letters, a descendant therefore probably of Sir Thomas.
  • The letter is not important.
    • But it shows Smith’s hearty liking for a good fellow.

[Pg 183]

My Dear Friend

  • This letter will be delivered to you by Mr. Urquhart.
    • He is the only man I ever knew who had a better temper than yourself.
    • You will find him most perfectly amiable.
  • I recommend him in the most earnest manner to your advice and protection.
    • He is not a man of letters.
    • He is just a plain, sensible, agreeable man of no pretensions of any kind, but whom you will love every day better and better.—

My dear friend, most faithfully yours,

Adam Smith.

Toulouse, November 4, 1764.[149]

  • Smith and his two pupils made their proposed expedition to Montpellier during the sittings of the States.
    • They were visited there by Horne Tooke,[150]
      • He was then still parson of Brentford.
      • He had been on a tour in Italy.
      • He stayed some time in Montpellier on his way back.
  • Tooke did not admire Smith.
    • He thought that:
      • the Theory of Moral Sentiments was nonsense, and
      • the Wealth of Nations was written for a wicked purpose,[151]
    • This is the only occasion they are known to have met.
  • The little provincial assembly which Smith had come to Montpellier to see was then attracting much attention from all French thinkers and reformers.
    • Many of the first of them thought to furnish the solution of that age’s political question.
  • The States of Languedoc were almost the only remains of free institutions then left in France.
    • In all the 32 provinces of the country except six the States had been suppressed altogether,
    • in five of these six they were too small to be important or vigorous;
    • but Languedoc was a great province with 23 bishoprics and more territory than Belgium.
    • The States governed its affairs so well that its prosperity was envied by the rest of France.
  • They:
    • dug canals,
    • opened harbours, [Pg 184]
    • drained marshes,
    • made roads
      • Arthur Young singles them out for praise, and
    • made roads without the corvée under which the rest of rural France was groaning.
  • They farmed the imperial taxes of the province themselves, to avoid the exactions of the farmers-general.
  • They allowed the noblesse none of the exemptions which they unfairly enjoyed elsewhere.
  • The taille was a personal tax in other parts of France.
    • In Languedoc, it was an equitable land tax.
      • It was assessed according to a periodically revised valuation.
  • There was not a poorhouse in the whole province.
  • Such was its prosperity and excellent administration that it enjoyed better credit than the Central Government.
  • To get more favourable terms, the king sometimes used to borrow on the security of the States of Languedoc instead of his own.[152]
  • One of the favourite remedies for the French political situation was the:
    • revival of the provincial assemblies and
    • suppression of the intendants:”Grattan’s Parliament and the abolition of the Castle.”
      • Turgot and others favoured this solution, even if Turgot was an intendant himself.
  • Necker had just put it into execution when the Revolution came and swept everything away.
  • Smith strongly favoured the administration of provincial affairs by a local body instead of by an intendant.
    • He must have witnessed with no ordinary interest the proceedings of this remarkable little assembly at Montpellier
      • It had:
        • its 23 prelates on the right,
        • its 23 barons on the left,
        • and the third estate—representatives of 23 chief towns and 23 dioceses—in the centre,
        • and on a dais in front of all, the President, the Archbishop of Narbonne.
  • Smith asked the Archbishop for a letter of introduction from Lord Hertford, and received it.
    • , was a countryman of his own, Cardinal Dillon, a prince of [Pg 185]prelates, afterwards Minister of France;
    • a strong champion of the rights of the States against the pretensions of the Crown, and,
    • if we may judge from the speech with which Miss Knight heard him open the States of Languedoc in 1776, a very thorough free-trader.
  • With all these excursions, Smith was now evidently realising the “gayetty and amusement” he told Hume he anticipated to enjoy during the rest of his stay in the South of France.
    • His command of French grew easier.
    • He went more into society and was able to enjoy it better.
  • In Toulouse, he met most the Parliament’s presidents and counsellors (Stewart).
    • They were:
      • noted for their hospitality, like their class in other parliament towns.
      • noted above those of other parliament towns for keeping up the old tradition of blending their law with a love of letters.
  • They were men of proved patriotism and independence.
    • In no other society would Smith be likely to hear more of the oppressed condition of the peasantry, and the necessity for thoroughgoing reforms.
  • In those days, the king’s edict did not run in a province until it was registered by the local parliament.
    • The Parliament of Toulouse often used this privilege of theirs to check bad measures.
  • In 1756, they had remonstrated with the king against the corvée.
    • They declared that the condition of the French peasantry was “a thousand times less tolerable than the condition of the American slaves.”
    • They were all thrown in prison or put under arrest in their own houses for refusing to register the centième denier.
    • Smith thought of that when he animadverted in the Wealth of Nations on the violence of the French Government to coerce its parliaments.
  • He thought very highly of those parliaments as institutions.
    • He stated that though not very convenient courts of law, they had never been accused or [Pg 186]even suspected of corruption.
    • He gives a curious reason for their incorruptibility.
    • It was because they were not paid by salary, but by fees dependent on their diligence.
  • During Smith’s residence in Toulouse, the town was raging (as Abbé Colbert mentions in his letters to Hume) about one of the judgments of this Parliament.
    • Strangely, most of the town took the Parliament’s side.
  • This was its judgment in the famous Calas case.
    • Smith alludes to it in the last edition of his Theory.
  • Jean Calas had a son who had renounced his Protestantism to become eligible for admission to the Toulouse bar.
    • He then worried himself so much about his apostasy that he committed suicide in his father’s house.
    • The father was unjustly accused before the town’s Parliament of murdering him because of his apostasy.
    • He was:
      • found guilty without any evidence and
      • then broken on the wheel and burnt on March 9, 1762.
  • But the great voice of Voltaire rose against this judicial atrocity.
    • After three years’ agitation, he procured a new trial before a special court of 50 masters of requests.
      • Turgot was one of them.
    • On March 9, 1765, Calas was pronounced absolutely innocent of the crime.
      • His family was awarded 36,000 livres in compensation.
  • The king received them at court.
    • All France rejoiced in their rehabilitation except their own townsfolk in Toulouse.
    • On April 10, 1765, a month after the verdict, Abbé Colbert writes Hume:
      • “The people here would surprise you with their fanaticism.
      • In spite of all that has happened, they believe Calas to be guilty.
      • It is useless to speak to them about it.”[153]
  • Smith uses the incident to illustrate the proposition that while unmerited praise gives no satisfaction except to the frivolous, unmerited reproach inflicts the keenest suffering even on men of exceptional endurance, [Pg 187]
  • because the injustice destroys the sweetness of the praise, but enormously embitters the sting of the condemnation.
  • He writes:
    • “The unfortunate Calas was a man of much more than ordinary constancy.
    • He was broken on the wheel and burnt at Tolouse for the supposed murder of his own son.
      • He was perfectly innocent of it.
    • With his last breath, he seemed to deprecate not so much the cruelty of the punishment, as the disgrace which the imputation must bring on his memory.
    • After he had been broke, and when just going to be thrown into the fire, the monk who attended the execution exhorted him to confess the crime for which he had been condemned. ‘My father,’ said Calas, ‘can you bring yourself to believe that I was guilty?'”

 

FOOTNOTES:

[140]Hume Correspondence, R.S.E. Library.

[141] Ibid.

[142] Lord Beauchamp was the eldest son of the English Ambassador, the Earl of Hertford, and Dr. Trail, or properly Traill, was the Ambassador’s chaplain, who was made Bishop of Down and Connor soon afterwards, when Lord Hertford became Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.

[143]Hume Correspondence, R.S.E. Library.

[144] Burton’s Letters of Eminent Persons to David Hume, p. 37.

[145]Wealth of Nations, Book II. chap. iii.

[146]Wealth of Nations, Book I. chap. xi.

[147] The Duke’s servant.

[148]Hume Correspondence, R.S.E. Library.

[149]Hume Correspondence, R.S.E. Library.

[150] Stephen’s Life of Horne Tooke, i. 75.

[151] Samuel Rogers told this to his friend the Rev. John Mitford. See Add. MSS. 32,566.

[152] Tocqueville, State of Society in France, pp. 265, 271.

[153]Hume Correspondence, R.S.E. Library.


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