Chap 14: Paris

Chap 14: Paris

 

  • Smith left Geneva in December for Paris and arrived around Christmas 1765, according to Dugald Stewart.
    • The Rev. William Cole was in Paris in October 1765.
      • He notes in his journal on October 26 that the Duke of Buccleugh arrived in Paris that day from Spa along with the Earl and Countess of Fife;
      • But this must be a mistake, for
      • Horace Walpole was also in Paris that autumn.
        • He writes on December 5 that the Duke was then expected to arrive the following week.
        • Walpole was staying in the Hotel du Parc Royal in the Faubourg de St. Germain, the hotel where the Duke and Smith stayed.
        • He probably wrote from authentic information about the engagement of their rooms.
  • Therefore, they arrived in Paris around mid-December.
    • They were just in time to have a week or two with Hume before he finally left Paris for London with Rousseau on January 3, 1766.
  • Hume had been looking for Smith ever since midsummer.
    • As far back as September 5, he wrote:
      • “I have been looking for you every day these three months,”
      • but that expectation was probably founded on reports from Abbé Colbert
      • for Smith himself does not seem to have written Hume since the previous October, except the short note introducing Mr. Urquhart.
  • In this September 1765 letter, Hume, as if in reply to Smith’s account [Pg 195]of his pupil’s improvement in his letter of October 1764, says, “Your satisfaction in your pupil gives me equal satisfaction.”
    • Smith did not write for the previous three months.
    • He probably wrote none for the four or five months before that.
  • Hume broke the long silence to:
    • inform Smith that he had lost his place at the Embassy through his chief’s translation to the Lord-Lieutenancy of Ireland
      • Thus, he would be obliged to return to England in October before Smith’s arrival in Paris.
    • consult him on a new problem ofwhether he should not come back to Paris and spend the remainder of his days there.
  • In compensation for the loss of his place, he had obtained a pension of £900 a year, without office or duty of any kind—”opulence and liberty,” as he calls it.
    • But opulence and liberty brought their own cares.
    • He was rent with temptations to belong to different nations.
    • He writes to Smith:
      • “As a new vexation to temper my good fortune, I am in much perplexity about fixing the place of my future abode for life.
      • Paris is the most agreeable town in Europe.
      • It suits me best, but it is a foreign country.
      • London is the capital of my own country, but it never pleased me much.
      • Letters are there held in no honour.
      • Scotsmen are hated.
      • Superstition and ignorance gain ground daily.
      • Edinburgh has many objections and many allurements.
      • My thought today, the September 5, is to return to France.
      • I am much pressed also to accept of offers which would contribute to my agreeable living.
        • But they might encroach on my independence by making me enter into engagements with Princes and great lords and ladies.
      • Pray give me your judgment.”[159]

 

  • Events soon settled the question for him.
    • He was [Pg 196]appointed Under Secretary of State in London by Lord Hertford’s brother, General Conway.
    • He left Paris early in January 1766.
  • Rousseau had been in Paris since December 17, waiting to accompany Hume to England.
    • Smith must have met Rousseau occasionally with Hume during that last fortnight of 1765.
    • Though there is no actual evidence that he did.
  • Before leaving, Hume would have time to:
    • introduce his friend to the famous men of Paris itself,
    • initiate him into those literary and fashionable circles in which he had moved like a demigod for the preceding two years.
  • The philosophe was then king in Paris.
    • Hume was king of the philosophes.
    • Everything that was great in court or salon fell down and did him obeisance.
  • Hume tells Robertson:
    • “Here, I:
      • feed on ambrosia,
      • drink nothing but nectar,
      • breathe incense only, and
      • walk on flowers.
    • Every one I meet, especially the woman, felt a duty to talk about my celebrity.”
  • Therefore, Hume could open to his friend every door in Paris that was worth entering.
    • But Smith’s own name was also sufficiently known and esteemed, at least among men of letters, in France to secure to him a cordial welcome for his own sake.
  • The Theory of Moral Sentiments had been translated, at the suggestion of Baron d’Holbach, by E. Dous.
    • The translation had appeared in 1764 under the title of Métaphysique de l’Ame.
  • It was unfortunately a very bad translation.
    • Grimm makes the curious apology that it was impossible to render the ideas of metaphysics in a foreign language as you could render the images of poetry.
      • Because every nation had its own abstract ideas.[160]
  • But though the book got probably little impetus from this translation, it had been considerably read in the original by men of letters when it first came out.
    • Many of them had then formed, as Abbé[Pg 197] Morellet says he did, the highest idea of Smith’s sagacity and depth.
    • They were prepared to meet the author with much interest.

 

  • Smith went more into society in the few months he resided in Paris than at any other period of his life.
    • He was a regular guest in almost all the famous literary salons of that time:
      • Baron d’Holbach’s,
      • Helvetius’,
      • Madame de Geoffrin’s,
      • Comtesse de Boufflers’,
      • Mademoiselle l’Espinasse’s, and
      • probably Madame Necker’s.
  • Our information about his doings is meagre.
    • But there is one week in July 1766 when his name was mentioned frequently in the correspondence between Hume and his Paris friends.
    • It was regarding the quarrel with Rousseau.
    • During that week, Smith was:
      • at Mademoiselle l’Espinasse’s on the 21st
      • at Comtesse de Boufflers’ on the 25th, and
      • at Baron d’Holbach’s,  on the 27th
        • Here he had some conversation with Turgot.
  • He was a constant visitor at Madame Riccoboni the novelist.
    • He attended the meetings of the new economist sect in the apartments of Dr. Quesnay.
  • The economic dinners of the elder Mirabeau, the “Friend of Men,” were not begun for a year after.
    • But he visited him, as we know he visited other members of the fraternity.

 

  • He went to Compiègne when the Court moved to Compiègne.
  • He made frequent excursions to interesting places within reach.
  • He is always seen with troops of friends about him.
  • Many of these were Englishmen, for after their long exclusion from Paris during the Seven Years war, Englishmen had begun to pour into the city.
  • The Hotel du Parc Royal, where Smith lived, was generally full of English guests.
  • Among others who were there was Horace Walpole.
  • He remained there until Easter
  • Smith seems to have become well acquainted with him.
    • For in writing Hume in July, he asks to be specially remembered to Mr. Walpole.

 

  • So much has been written about the literary salons [Pg 198]of Paris in last century.
    • I shall only describe Smith’s connection with them.
  • The salon he frequented the most was the salon of the Comtesse de Boufflers-Rouvel.
    • But that is due to the simple circumstance that the hostess was an assiduous correspondent of David Hume.
      • She was mistress to the Prince de Conti.
      • But ties of that character, if permanent, derogated nothing from a lady’s position in Paris then.
  • Abbé Morellet was a constant guest at her house.
    • He even states:
      • that this connection of hers with a prince of the blood, though illicit, really enhanced her consideration in society
      • her receptions were attended by all the rank, fashion, and learning of Paris.
  • The Comtesse was very fond of entertaining English guests.
    • For she spoke our language well, and had been greatly pleased with the civilities she had received during her then recent visit to England in 1763.
  • Smith was not long in Paris until he:
    • made her acquaintance, and
    • received a very hearty welcome for the love of Hume.
  • She began to read his book.
    • It eventually became such a favourite with her that she had thoughts of translating it.

 

  • Hume writes to her from Wootton on March 22, 1766:
    • “I am glad you have taken my friend Smith under your protection.
    • You will find him a man of true merit, though perhaps his sedentary recluse life may have hurt his air and appearance as a man of the world.”
  • The Comtesse writes Hume on May 6:
    • “I think I told you:
      • that I have met Mr. Smith, and
      • that for the love of you I had given him a very hearty welcome.
    • I am now reading his Theory of Moral Sentiments.
    • I am not very far advanced with it yet, but I believe it will please me.”
  • On July 25 when Hume’s quarrel with Rousseau was raging, she appends to a letter to Hume on that subject a few words about[Pg 199] Smith, who had apparently called on her just as she had finished it:
    • “I entreated your friend Mr. Smith to call on me.
    • He has just this moment left me.
    • I have read my letter to him.
    • He, like myself, is apprehensive that you have been deceived in the warmth of so just a resentment.
    • He begs of you to read over again the letter to Mr. Conway.
    • It does not appear that Rousseau refuses the pension, nor that he desires it to be made public.”[161]
  • She had then begun to read the Theory of Moral Sentiments.
    • It grew more and more in favour with her.
    • In 1770, two sons of Smith’s friend, Sir Gilbert Elliot, visited her.
      • They found her at her studies in her bedroom.
      • She talked of translating the book, if she had time, because it contained such just ideas about sympathy.
    • She added:
      • that the book had come into great vogue in France.
      • that Smith’s doctrine of sympathy bade fair to supplant David Hume’s immaterialism as the fashionable opinion, especially with the ladies.[162]
  • The vogue would probably be aided by Smith’s personal introduction into French literary circles.
    • But evidence of its popularity is in the fact that three persons were then preparing or contemplating a translation when one French translation had already appeared:
      • the Abbé Blavet
        • He actually published his.
      • the Due de la Rochefoucauld,
        • He discontinued his work when he found himself forestalled by the Abbé, and
      • the Comtesse de Boufflers.
        • She perhaps did little more than entertain the design.
    • The best translation was published some years after by another lady, the widow of Condorcet.

 

  • The Baron d’Holbach held weekly or bi-weekly dinners.
    • At one dinner, Smith had a conversation with Turgot, were, as L. Blanc has said, the regular states-general of philosophy.
    • The usual guests were the philosophes and encyclopedists and men [Pg 200]of letters—Diderot, Marmontel, Raynal, Galiani.
  • The conversation ran largely towards metaphysics and theology.
    • Morellet was often there.
    • He states:
      • the boldest theories were propounded, and
      • things spoken which might well call down fire from heaven.
  • Hume observed there that he:
    • had not seen an atheist
    • did not believe one existed.
  • His host replied:
    • “You have been a little unfortunate;
    • you are here at table with 17 for the first time.”

 

  • Morellet mentions he first met Smith at the table of Helvetius, the philosopher.
    • Helvetius was a retired farmer-general of the taxes.
    • He had grown rich without practising extortion.
    • Smith says that other farmers-general in France remained as bachelors because:
      • no gentlewoman would marry them, and
      • they were too proud to marry anybody else.
    • But Helvetius had married a pretty and clever wife.
      • She was an early friend of Turgot’s.
      • She helped make his Tuesday dinners among the most agreeable entertainments in Paris.
  • He had recently returned from a long sojourn in England.
    • He was so enchanted with the country and people.
    • d’Holbach could find nothing to praise in England.
      • He declared:
        • Morellet could really have seen nothing in England all the time except the persecution for heresy.
          • He had suffered this in France shortly before.
          • He would have escaped in our freer air; and
        • he was always very hospitable to English celebrities.
          • It may be inferred that Smith enjoyed many opportunities of conversation with this versatile and philosophical financier during his stay in Paris.

 

  • Morellet became one of Smith’s fastest friends in France.
    • On leaving Paris, Smith gave him for a keepsake his own pocket-book.
      • The Abbé says that it was a very pretty English-made pocket-book which “has served me these 20 years.”
  • Morellet was an advanced economist.
    • His views ran in sympathy with Smith’s own.
    • He was the most delightful of companions.
    • He united with strong sense and a deep love [Pg 201]of the right an unfailing play of irony and fun, and ever ready, as Fanny Burney found him still at 85, to sing his own songs for the entertainment of his friends.
  • The Abbé was a metaphysician and an economist.
    • But, according to his account of his conversations with Smith, they seem to have discussed mainly economic subjects.
    • He says “the theory of commerce, banking, public credit, and various points in the great work which Smith was then meditating,”[163] i.e. the Wealth of Nations.
  • This book had therefore by then taken shape so far that Smith:
    • made his Paris friends aware of his occupation on it
    • discussed with them definite points in the scheme of doctrine he was unfolding.
  • Morellet formed a very just estimate of him.
    • He says, “I still regard him as one of the men who have made the most complete observations and analyses on all questions he treated of,”
    • He gave the best proof of his high opinion by writing a translation of the Wealth of Nations.
  • Smith would derive some assistance towards making his observations and analyses more complete from the different lights in which the matters under consideration would be naturally placed in the course of discussions with men like Morellet and his friends.
    • But whatever others have thought, Morellet does not claim of having influenced or supplied any of Smith’s ideas, either:
      • on his own behalf or
      • on behalf of:
        • his very old and intimate college friend Turgot, or
        • any other of the French economists.
  • The Scotch inquirer had been long working on the same lines as his French colleagues.
    • Morellet seems to have thought him as being more complete in his observations and analyses than the others.

 

  • A frequent resort of Smith in Paris was the salon of Mademoiselle de l’Espinasse.
    • It differed from the others by:
      • the greater variety of the guests and
      • the [Pg 202]presence of ladies.
  • According to Hume, the hostess was one of the most sensible women in Paris.
    • She had long been Madame du Deffand’s principal assistant in managing her famous salon.
    • But she was dismissed in 1764 for entertaining Turgot and D’Alembert on her own account without permission.
    • She set up a rival salon of her own on improved principles, with the zealous help of Turgot and D’Alembert.
      • Ambassadors, princesses, marshals of France, and financiers came to her unpretending apartments.
      • They met with men of letters like Grimm, Condillac, and Gibbon.
  • D’Alembert lived in the house.
    • He came there to be nursed through an illness and remaining on afterwards.
    • He was one of Smith’s chief friends in Paris.
    • His house was naturally one of the latter’s chief resorts.
  • He often met Turgot here and everywhere he went.
    • Of all the friends he met in France, Smith took most pleasure in Turgot, the great thinker and statesman.
      • Smith profoundly admired his mind and character.
  • If his conversation with Morellet ran mainly on political and economic subjects, it would most probably run even more largely on such subjects with Turgot.
    • For they were both at the moment busy writing their most important works on those subjects.
  • Turgot’s Formation and Distribution of Wealth was written in 1766.
    • Though it was only published three years later in the Éphémérides du Citoyen.
    • I think that he must have repeatedly discussed his ideas and theories in his numerous conversations with Smith.
  • So if Smith brought out various points in the work, he was undertaking for discussion with Morellet, we may infer that he did the same with Morellet’s greater friend Turgot
    • all this would have been greatly to their mutual advantage.
  • However, no vestiges of their conversation remain.
    • Though some critics [Pg 203]profess to see its results writ very large on the face of their writings.

 

  • Professor Thorold Rogers thinks the influences of Turgot’s reasoning on Smith’s mind to be easily perceptible to any reader of the Formation and Distribution of Wealth and of the Wealth of Nations.
  • Dupont de Nemours once went so far as to say that whatever was true in Smith was borrowed from Turgot, and whatever was not borrowed from Turgot was not true;
  • but he afterwards:
    • retracted that absurdly-sweeping allegation, and
    • confessed that he had made it before he was able to read English;
    • while Leon Say thinks Turgot owed much of his philosophy to Smith, and Smith owed much of his economics to Turgot.[164]
  • Questions of literary obligation are often difficult to settle.
    • Two contemporary thinkers, dealing with the same subject under the same general influences and tendencies of the time, may think nearly alike even without any manner of personal intercommunication, and the idea of natural liberty of trade, in which the main resemblance between the writers in the present case is supposed to occur, was already in the ground, and sprouting up here and there before either of them wrote at all.
  • Smith’s position on that subject is so much more solid, balanced, and moderate than Turgot’s.
    • It is different in positive character.
    • The extremer form of the doctrine taught by Turgot appears to have been taught also by Smith in earlier years and abandoned.
  • At least the fragment published by Stewart of Smith’s Society paper of 1755—11 years before Turgot wrote his book or saw Smith—proclaims individualism of the extremer form.
    • It intimates that he had taught the same views in Edinburgh in 1750.
  • Smith had thus been teaching free trade many years before he met Turgot, teaching it in Turgot’s own form.
    • He had converted many of the merchants of Glasgow to it and a future Prime[Pg 204] Minister of England.
    • He had probably thought out the main truths of the work he was even then busy on.
  • He was therefore in a position to:
    • meet Turgot on equal terms, and
    • give full value for anything he might take.
  • If obligations must needs be assessed and the balance adjusted, who shall say whether Smith owes most to the conversation of Turgot or Turgot owes most to the conversation of Smith?
    • The state of the exchange cannot be determined from mere priority of publication.
    • No other means of determining it exist.
    • It is of no great moment to determine it at all.

 

  • Condorcet was Turgot’s biographer.
    • He says that Turgot and Smith have continued their economic discussions by correspondence after Smith returned to England.
  • Dugald Stewart informs us that every search has been made for this correspondence.
    • No trace was ever discovered in France or England.
    • Smith’s friends never heard him allude to such a thing.
    • Stewart says “It is scarcely to be supposed that Mr. Smith would destroy the letters of such a correspondent as M. Turgot.
    • It is still less probable that they had such a communication unknown to Mr. Smith’s friends.
  • From some inquiries made at Paris by a gentleman of this society[165] since Smith’s death, I believe that:
    • no evidence of the correspondence exists among M. Turgot’s papers.
    • the whole story has taken its rise from a report suggested by the knowledge of their former intimacy.”[166]
  • Some of Hume’s letters to Turgot still exist among the Turgot family archives.
    • One from 1766.
      • It combated Turgot’s principle of the single tax on the net product of the land.
  • But no letter came from Smith.
    • Leon Say [Pg 205]examined those archives a few years ago for this purpose.

 

  • However, an occasional letter certainly did pass between them.
    • Smith mentions in a letter that it was “by the particular favour of M. Turgot” that he received the copy of the Mémoires concernant les Impositions.
      • He quotes this so often in the Wealth of Nations.
      • This book was not printed when he was in France.
      • It needed much influence to get a copy of it.
      • His was most probably got after Turgot became Controller-General of the Finances in 1774.
      • But in any case it would involve the exchange of letters.

 

  • Smith admired Turgot, but he thought him:
    • too simple-hearted for a practical statesman,
    • too prone, as noble natures often are, to:
      • underrate the selfishness, stupidity, and prejudice in the world and
      • resist just and rational reform.
  • He described Turgot to Samuel Rogers as an excellent person.
    • He was very honest and well-meaning.
    • But Turgot was so unacquainted with the world and human nature.
    • Turgot told to Hume that his maxim is that whatever is right may be done.[167]

 

  • To Smith, the politician, who did not aim at establishing the right, should not be called a statesman.
    • In other words, such a politician had no public ideal.
      • Such a man is only “that crafty and insidious animal vulgarly termed a statesman.”
  • The truly wise statesman must always press his ideal with considerable accommodation.
  • If he cannot carry the right, he will not disdain to ameliorate the wrong.
    • But, “like when Solon could not establish the best system of laws, he will try to establish the best that the people can bear.”[168]
  • He thought that Turgot made too little account of the resisting power [Pg 206] of vested interests and confirmed habits.
    • He was too optimist.
    • It can be seen in his theoretical and his practical work.
  • Smith was prone rather to the contrary error of overrating the resisting power of interests and prejudices.
    • If Turgot was too sanguine when he told the king that popular education would in 10 years change the people past all recognition.
    • Smith was too incredulous when he despaired of the ultimate realisation of slave emancipation and free trade.
  • It is interesting to find:
    • a man who spent his life in the practical business of the world, taking the more enthusiastic view expected from a recluse.
    •  a man who spent his life in his library, taking the more critical and measured view expected from the man of the world.

 

  • Necker was another statesman in Paris who Smith knew well.
    • His wife had very possibly begun by this time her rather austere salon, where free-thinking was strictly tabooed.
  • Morellet was her right-hand man in the guests’ entertainment.
    • He confesses the restraint was really irksome.
    • If she had, Morellet would probably have brought Smith there.
  • Sir James Mackintosh heard about Smith from competent sources.
    • He states explicitly that he was on intimate terms with Necker during his residence in Paris.
    • He formed only a poor opinion of that minister’s abilities.
    • He used to predict the fall of his political reputation the moment his head was put to any real proof, always saying of him with emphasis
      • “He is a mere man of detail.”[169] Smith was not always lucky in his predictions, but here for once he was right.

 

  • While Smith was frequenting these various literary and philosophical salons they were all thrown into a state of unusual commotion by the famous quarrel between Rousseau and Hume.
    • The world has long since ceased to take any interest in that quarrel.
    • It assured itself [Pg 207]that it all originated in the suspicions of Rousseau’s insane fancy.
    • But during the whole summer of 1766 it filled column after column of the English and continental newspapers.
    • It occupied much of the attention of Smith and the other friends of Hume in Paris.
  • Hume was an extravagant admirer of Rosseau.
    • When Rousseau was expelled from Switzerland, Hume offered to find him a home in England.
    • He accepted the offer and Hume brought him over to England in January 1766.
  • Hume first found quarters for him at Chiswick.
    • But the capricious philosopher would not live at Chiswick because it was too near town.
  • Hume then got him a gentleman’s house in the Peak of Derby.
    • But Rousseau would not enter it unless the owner agreed to take board.
    • Hume induced the owner to gratify even this whim.
    • Rousseau departed and established himself comfortably at Wootton in the Peak of Derby.
  • Hume next procured for him a pension of £100 a year from the king.
    • Rousseau would not touch it unless it were kept secret.
    • The king agreed to keep it secret.
  • Rousseau then would not have it unless it were made public.
    • The king again agreed to meet his whim.
  • But the more Hume did for him, the more Rousseau suspected the sincerity of his motives.
    • He used first to assail him with the most ridiculous accusations, and then fall on his neck and implore forgiveness for ever doubting him.
  • Finally on June 23, in reply to Hume’s note intimating the king’s remission of the condition of secrecy, and the consequent removal of every obstacle to the acceptance of the pension, Rousseau gave way entirely to the evil spirit that haunted him.
    • He wrote Hume the notorious letter, declaring that his horrible designs were at last found out.

 

  • Hume lost no time in going with his troubles to Smith.
  • He asked Smith to lay the true state of the case before their Paris friends.
  • Smith replied:—

[Pg 208]

Paris, July 6, 1766.

My Dear Friend

  • I am thoroughly convinced that Rousseau is as great a rascal as you and as every man here believe him to be.
  • Please do not publish anything about his very great impertinence.
  • By refusing the pension which you had the goodness to solicit for him with his own consent, he may have thrown, by the baseness of his proceedings, a little ridicule on you in the eyes of the court and the ministry.
  • Stand this ridicule.
  • Expose his brutal letter, but without giving it out of your own hand, so that it may never be printed.
  • If you can, laugh at yourself.
  • I will pawn my life that before three weeks are at an end this little affair which at present gives you so much uneasiness shall be understood to do you as much honour as anything that has ever happened to you.
  • By unmasking this hypocritical pedant before the public, you risk of disturbing your life’s peace.
  • By leaving him alone, he cannot give you a fortnight’s uneasiness.
  • To write against him is the very thing he wishes you to do.
  • He is in danger of falling into obscurity in England.
  • He hopes to make himself considerable by provoking an illustrious adversary.
  • He will have a great party:
    • the Church,
    • the Whigs,
    • the Jacobites,
    • the whole wise English nation.
      • They will love to:
        • mortify a Scotchman, and
        • applaud a man who has refused a pension from the king.
  • They might pay him very well for refusing it,
    • He might even have had in view this compensation.
  • All your friends here wish you not to write:
    • the Baron,
    • D’Alembert,
    • Madame Riccoboni,
    • Mademoiselle Rianecourt,
    • M. Turgot, etc.
  • M. Turgot wanted me to recommend this advice to you in a particular way as his most earnest entreaty and opinion.
    • He and I are afraid that you are:
      • surrounded with evil counsellors, and
      • the advice of your English literati might have too much influence on you.
        • They are themselves used to publishing all their gossips in newspapers.
  • Remember me to Mr. Walpole, and believe me, etc.

P.S.—Make my apology to Millar for not having yet answered his last very kind letter.

  • I am preparing the answer to it, which he will certainly receive by next post.
  • Remember me to Mrs. Millar.
  • Do you ever see Mr. Townshend?[170]

[Pg 209]

 

  • The deep love of tranquility this letter breathes, the dislike of publicity as a snare fatal to future quiet, the contempt for the petty vanity that makes men of letters run into print with their little personal affairs, as if they were of moment to anybody but themselves, are all very characteristic of Smith’s philosophic temper of mind;
  • There is also—what appears on other occasions as well as this in the intercourse of the two philosophers—a certain note of affectionate anxiety on the part of the younger and graver philosopher towards the elder as towards a man of less weight of natural character and experience, and perhaps less of the wisdom of this world, than himself.

 

  • Smith seems to have shown Hume’s letter to their common friends in Paris, and while deeply interested, as was only natural, in the quarrel, they with one consent took Hume’s side, the only possible view of the transaction.
  • The subject continued to furnish matter of conversation and conference among Hume’s French literary friends during the whole time of Smith’s residence in Paris.
  • Hume sent Smith another letter a little later on in the month of July, which he asked him specially to show to D’Alembert.
  • This Smith did on the 21 st, when he met D’Alembert at dinner at Mademoiselle de l’Espinasse’s, in company with Turgot, Marmontel, Roux, Morellet, Saurin, and Duclos;
  • and on the same evening D’Alembert wrote Hume that he had just had the honour of seeing Mr. Smith, who had shown him the letter he had received, and that they had talked much together about Hume and his affairs.
  • Apparently Smith’s objections to Hume publishing anything on the quarrel were now overcome; at all events, the result of this consultation of Hume’s French friends was to advise publication; and accordingly a week or two later Hume sent on a complete narrative of his relations with Rousseau, together with the whole correspondence from first to last, to D’Alembert, with full permission to make any use of it he thought best, and he wrote Smith at the same time asking him to go and get a sight of it.[Pg 210]
  • “Pray tell me,” he adds, “your judgment of my work, if it deserves the name. Tell D’Alembert I make him absolute master to retrench or alter what he thinks proper in order to suit it to the latitude of Paris.”[171]

 

  • On July 27, Turgot writes Hume.
    • He mentions that:
      • he met Smith at Baron d’Holbach’s and
      • they had discussed the Rousseau affair together.
  • Smith had told him of the letter from Rousseau to General Conway.
    • he had been shown on the 25th by the Comtesse de Boufflers,
    • and had repeated to him the same interpretation of that letter which he had already expressed to the Comtesse, that Rousseau had not made the secrecy a ground for refusing the pension,
    • but merely regretted that that condition made it impossible for him adequately to show his gratitude.
  • Smith was thus inclined to give Rousseau the benefit of a better construction when a better construction was possible,
    • but Hume writes Turgot on August 5 that Smith was quite wrong in that supposition.

 

  • One of those two letters of Smith’s on the Rousseau affair mentions the name of Madame Riccoboni among those of Hume’s friends with whom he had been in communication on the subject, and
  • Madame Riccoboni about the same date writes Garrick that Smith and Changuion, the English ambassador’s private secretary, were her two great confidants on the business of this famous quarrel.
  • Madame Riccoboni had been a popular actress.
    • But she:
      • gave up the stage for letters, and
      • became the most popular novelist in France.
  • Her Letters of Fanny Butler and her History of Miss Jenny were dividing the attention of Paris with the novels of our own Richardson;
  • Smith, in the 1790 edition of his Theory, brackets her with Racine, Voltaire, and Richardson as instructors in “the refinements and delicacies of love and friendship.”
  • She was an effusive admirer of Smith, as she was of Changuion, and of that bel Anglais[Pg 211] Richard Burke, and of Garrick himself
  • She writes the player, “you are,” the dearling of my heart”;—
    • When Smith was returning home from France, she gave him the following letter of introduction to Garrick:—

 

  • Je suis bien vaine, my dear Mr. Garrick, de pouvoir vous donner ce que je perds avec un regret trés-vif, le plaisir de voir Mr. Smith. Ce charming philosopher vous dira combien il a d’esprit, car je le défie de parler sans en montrer. Je sui vraiment fâchée que la politesse m’oblige à lui donner ma lettre ouverte: cet usage établi retient mon coeur tout prêt à lui rendre justice, mais sa modestie est aussi grande que son mérite, et je craindrois que la plus simple vérité ne parût à ses yeux une grosse flaterie; je puis vous dire de lui, ce qu’il disoit un jour d’un autre—le métier de cet homme-là est d’être aimable. J’ajouterai,—et de mériter l’estime de tous ceux qui ont le bonheur de le connoitre.

 

  • Oh ces Ecossois! ces chiens d’Ecossois! ils viennent me plaire et m’affliger. Je suis comme ces folles jeunes filles qui écoutent un amant sans penser an regret, toujours voisin du plaisir. Grondez-moi, battez-moi, tuez-moi! mais j’aime Mr. Smith, je l’aime beaucoup. Je voudrois que le diable emportât tous nos gens de lettres, tous nos philosophes, et qu’il me rapportât Mr. Smith. Les hommes supérieurs se cherchent. Rempli d’estime pour Mr. Garrick, désirant le voir et l’entretenir, Mr. Smith a voulu être introduit par moi. Il me flate infiniment par cette préférence, bien des gens se mélent de présenter un ami à un autre ami, peu sont comme moi dans le cas d’être sûre de la reconnoissance des tous deux. Adieu, mon très-aimable et très-paresseux ami. Embrassez pour moi vôtre gracieuse compagne. La mienne vous assure l’un et l’autre de sa plus tendre amitié.

Riccoboni[172]

  • Not content with this letter of recommendation which she gave to Smith to deliver, Madame Riccoboni at the same time sent Garrick another through the post,
  • It shows the sincerity of the feelings of high esteem she had expressed in the open letter by expressing them again quite as decisively in the closed one:—

 

  • 6 Octobre.
  • Aujourd’huy je vous écris uniquement pour vous prévenir sur une visite que vous recevrez à Londres.
  • Mr. Smith, un Ecossois, [Pg 212]homme d’un très grand mérite, aussi distingué par son bon naturel, par la douceur de son caractère que par son esprit et son sçavoir, me demande une lettre pour vous.
  • Vous verrez un philosophe moral et pratique; gay, riant, à cent lieues de la pédanterie des nôtres.
  • Il vous estime beaucoup et désire vous connoître particulièrement.
  • Donnez son nom à votre porte, je vous en prie, vous perdriez beaucoup à ne pas le voir, et je serois désolée de ne pas recevoir de lui un détail du bon accueil que vous lui aurez fait…. Donnez son nom à votre porte, je vous le répète. S’il ne vous voit pas, je vous étrangle.[173]

 

  • Smith had apparently begged of her also a letter of introduction to R. Burke.
  • She wrote him one, but he went away without it;
  • as she says to Garrick, in a letter of 3rd January 1767:
  • “Ma bête de philosophe est partie sans songer à la prendre.”
  • Nor apparently had Smith as yet delivered her letter to Garrick, for she asks,
    • “Vous ne l’avez pas encore vu Mr. Smith? c’est la plus distraite créature!
  • mais c’est une des plus aimables. Je l’aime beaucoup et je l’estime encore d’avantage.”[174]
  • A few weeks later, on January 29, she again returns to the subject of Smith.
    • She asked Garrick whether he had yet seen him, whether he was in London or had delivered her letter, and adding, “C’est un homme charmant, n’est-il pas?”[175]

 

  • Madame Riccoboni was not the only Frenchwoman who was touched with Smith’s personal charms.
    • But a marquise, “a woman too of talents and wit,” actually fell in love with him.
  • Smith made an excursion from Paris to Abbeville, with:
    • the Duke of Buccleugh and
    • several other English noblemen and
    • a certain Captain Lloyd.
      • He was a retired officer.
      • He was afterwards a friend, perhaps a patient, of Dr. Currie.
        • Dr. Currie was the author of the Life of Burns.
      • He told Dr. Currie about the economist.
      • Lloyd was a most interesting and accomplished man.
      • His was very intimately acquainted with Smith [Pg 213]. (Dr. Currie)
  • The party stayed some days at Abbeville to visit Crecy, like patriotic Englishmen.
  • This French marquise stopped at the same hotel.
    • She had just come from Paris, where she found everyone talking about Hume.
    • She heard that Smith was Hume’s particular friend and almost as great a philosopher as he.
      • She was bent on meeting Smith.
      • But after many persistent efforts, she was obliged eventually to abandon the attempt.
  • Smith could not endure her.
    • He also could not hide his embarrassment.
      • This greatly amused his own party.
  • But it was not philosophy that steeled his breast.
    • The truth was that Smith was deeply in love with an English lady who was also stopping in Abbeville at the time. (Lloyd)
  • Of all Currie heard on Smith from Captain Lloyd, this is the only thing he recorded.
    • It contributes a touch of nature to that more personal aspect of Smith’s life that we least know of.
  • Smith cherished an attachment for several years during his early life to a young lady of great beauty and accomplishment. (Stewart)
    • Stewart saw the woman when she was over 80 years old.
    • She “still retained evident traces of her former beauty.”
    • “The powers of her understanding and the gaiety of her temper seemed to have remained the same.”
  • Nobody knew:
    • what prevented their union, or
    • how far Smith’s addresses were favourably received.
  • But she never married.
    • “After this disappointment he laid aside all thoughts of marriage” (Stewart)
  • But the Abbeville attachment seems to have been a different one from this and a later.

 

  • While in Paris, Smith was a very steady playgoer.
  • He was always a great admirer of the French dramatists.
  • He now enjoyed very much:
    • seeing their plays actually represented on the stage, and
    • discussing them afterwards with an expert like Madame Riccoboni.

[Pg 214]

  • Speaking of his admiration for the great French dramatists, Dugald Stewart states
  • His “admiration for French dramatists was from his tastes.
    • It was more delighted with that pliancy of genius which kept within the general rules than to the wonder at the bolder flights of an undisciplined imagination.
    • It increased greatly when he saw the beauties that had struck him in the closet heightened by the utmost perfection of theatrical exhibition.”[176] (Stewart)
  • In his later years his thoughts and his conversation often recurred to the philosophy of the imitative arts.
    • He meant had he lived to have written a book on the subject; he has actually left us a single essay, one of the most finished pieces of work he ever did;
  • He was very fond in those days of:
    • speaking and theorising on that topic among his friends and
    • supporting his conclusions by illustrations from his wide reading and his observation of life.
  • These illustrations seem to have been drawn frequently from his experiences of the French theatre.

 

  • Smith had no ear for music.
    • But there are few things he seems to have nevertheless enjoyed better than the opera, both serious and comic. (The Earl of Buchan)
  • He thought the “sprightly airs” of the comic opera were still “most delicious”.
    • But they were a more “temperate joy” than “the scenes of the common comedy”[177]
    • “They do not make us laugh so loud.
    • But they make us smile more frequently.”
  • He strongly believed that music was always on virtue’s side.
    • For the only musical passions are the good ones.
    • The bad and unsocial passions were essentially unmelodious.
  • But he thought that the French operatic stage abused scenery.
    • “In the French operas, the following are commonly represented in the ridiculous ways:
      • thunder and lightning,
      • storms and tempests, [Pg 215]
      • all the marvellous and supernatural of epic poetry,
      • all the metamorphoses of mythology,
      • all the wonders of witchcraft and magic,
      • everything that is most unfit to be represented on the stage.
    • These are exhibited dialy with the most complete approbation and applause of that ingenious nation.”[178]

 

  • Amid all this gaiety of salons and playhouses, Smith found a graver retreat with the philanthropic sect of the economists in the apartments of the king’s physician, Dr. Quesnay, in Paris and Versailles.
  • Dupont de Nemours told J.B. Say that:
    • he had often met Smith at their little meetings and
    • they looked on him as a judicious and simple man, apparently nothing more.
  • Smith then had not shown the stuff that he was made of.[179]
    • If they did not then recognise his paramount capacity as they afterwards did, there were some things about his opinions which Dupont thought they learnt better then than they could from the great work in which he subsequently expounded them.
  • Dupont was the editor of one of Turgot’s works.
    • In a note in that work, he appeals on Smith’s opinion in his published writings and those Smith spoke of in private.
    • “Smith at his own room or in his friend’s room would not have said those said when we were were fellow-disciples of M. Quesnay.”[180] (Dupont)

 

  • Smith met with them and was their very close scientific and personal associate.
    • Strictly speaking, Smith was not among Quesnay’s disciples.
    • He was no more a disciple of Quesnay than Peter was a disciple of Paul, although Paul wrote first.
    • He neither agreed with all the creed of the French economists,
    • He did [Pg 216] not acquire the articles he agreed with from Quesnay’s teachings.
  • He had been teaching the two principal truths for 16 years before he met them, which they proclaimed:
    1. That a country’s wealth does not consist in its gold and silver, but in its stock of consumable commodities; and
    2. That the true way of increasing it is not by conferring privileges or imposing restraints, but by assuring its producers a fair field and no favour.
  • He had taught those truths in 1750.
    • Quesnay had not written anything on them until 1756.
  • He has publicly repudiated much of the things they stressed in their system.
    • Still he speaks both of their system and of their master with a veneration which no disciple could easily surpass.
  • He says that:
    • the system is “with all its imperfections, perhaps the nearest approximation to the truth that has yet been published upon the subject of political economy,”
    • Quesnay is:
      • “ingenious and profound,”
      • “a man of the greatest simplicity and modesty, who was honoured by his disciples with a reverence not inferior to that of any of the ancient philosophers for the founders of their respective systems.”[181]
  • Like the Marquis de Mirabeau, he might not call:
    • Quesnay greater than Socrates, or
    • the Economic Table a discovery equal to the invention of printing or of money.
  • But he thought him so clearly the head of the economic inquirers of the world that he meant to have dedicated the Wealth of Nations to Quesnay had the venerable French economist been alive at the time of its publication.
    • Smith was therefore a very sympathetic associate of this new sect, but not a strict adherent.

 

  • The economists were patriots and practical social and political reformers similar to theoretical economists.
    • They believed the condition of the French people to have grown so bad as to be a grave danger to the State, and [Pg 217]
    • they preached their system as a revelation of the only way of salvation.
    • They were too earnest for the Paris wits.
    • Voltaire always sneered at them until he came to know Turgot.
    • Grimm calls them “the pietists of philosophy,”
    • Hume, bantering Morellet, wonders how a man like Turgot could herd with such cattle.
      • They were “the most chimerical and the most arrogant that now exist since the annihilation of the Sorbonne.”
  • But they were:
    • grappling with living problems, and
    • seeing into the real situation so much further than their contemporaries,
  • A historian like de Tocqueville thinks the best key to the Revolution can be found in their writings.
    • The malady of the age, they held, was the ever-increasing distress of the agricultural population.
    • The great nobles, the financiers, the farmers-general, the monopolists, were very rich;
    • but the agriculturists were the vast body of the people.
    • They were sinking into a hopeless impoverishment.
    • For between tithes and heavy war taxes and farmer-generals’ extortions, and the high rents which, to Turgot’s despair, the smaller peasantry would persist in offering without reflecting in the least on the rise in their burdens,—between all these things, the net product of agriculture—what was left in the hands of the cultivator after all expenses were paid away—was getting less and less every year, and the ruin of the peasantry meant the ruin of the nation.
  • They said: “Poor peasants, poor kingdom, poor kingdom, poor king.”

 

  • The remedy was plain: the net product of agriculture must somehow be made to rise instead of fall.
    • They supported their contention with a certain erroneous theory that agriculture is the sole source of wealth.
    • But the error made little practical difference to the argument.
    • For agriculture is always a sufficiently important source of wealth to make its improvement a national concern.
  • How then was the net product to be increased?
    • By better methods of cultivation
    • by removal of legal and official interferences, and
    • by lightening the public burdens [Pg 218]through:
      • the abolition of:
        • all existing taxes and
        • the existing system of collection through farmers-general
      • the institution instead of a single tax on the net product of the soil, to be collected directly by responsible officials.
  • According to the reminiscences of strangers who happened to fall into their company, the talk of the economists always ran much on the net product and the single tax.
  • For they believed the two great needs of the country were agricultural improvement and financial reform.
  • When Quesnay was offered a farmer-generalship of the taxes for his son, he said,
    • “No; let the welfare of my children be bound up with the public prosperity,”
    • He made his son a farmer of the land instead.

 

  • In Quesnay’s rooms in the palace of Versailles, Smith would sometimes hear words that would sound very strange in the house of the king.
  • Mercier de la Rivière was Quesnay’s favourite disciple.
    • His book the Natural and Essential Order of Political Societies was published in 1767.
    • He almost lived in Quesnay’s apartments while writing it.
    • He discussed the work point by point with Quesnay.
  • The Marquis de Mirabeau mentions having seen him there six whole weeks running, “moulding and remoulding his work, and consequently denying father and mother” for the time.
  • One day Madame du Hausset heard a memorable conversation there between them.
    • Mirabeau said
      • “This kingdom is in a miserable state.
      • There is neither energy in the nation nor money to serve in its place.”
    • Mercier de la Rivière was the counsellor of the Parliament of Paris and late Governor of Martinico.
      • He replied:
        • “No, it cannot be regenerated except by a conquest like that of China, or by a great internal convulsion;
        • but woe to those who will be there then, for the French people does nothing by halves.”
  • The words made the little lady-in-waiting tremble.
    • She hurried out of the room.
    • M. de Marigny was a brother of the king’s mistress and was also present.
      • She followed her and told her have no fear, for these were honest men, if a little chimerical, and they were [Pg 219]even on the right road,
      • though they knew not when to stop and went past the goal.[182]

 

  • The doctor’s room was a little sanctuary of free speech pitched by an odd chance in the heart of a despotic court.
    • But his loyalty was known to be as sterling as his patriotism.
    • Louis himself would come round and listen to his economic parables, and call him the king’s thinker?
    • He was no believer in states-general or states-particular.
    • He had no interest in court or party intrigues.
    • His thought was always for the power of the king and the people’s welfare.
  • Marmontel used to come to him feigning an interest in the net product and the single tax, merely, as he confesses, to secure the doctor’s word with Madame de Pompadour about an appointment he wanted.
  • He writes that “while storms gathered and dispersed again underneath Quesnay’s entre-sol, he wrought at his axioms and his calculations in rural economy as calmly and with as much indifference to the movements of the court as if he were a hundred leagues away.
  • Below they discussed:
    • peace and war,
    • the choice of generals,
    • the dismissal of ministers,
  • While we up in the entre-sol:
    • reasoned about agriculture
    • calculated the net product, or
    • sometimes dined gaily with Diderot, D’Alembert, Duclos, Helvetius, Turgot, Buffon; and Madame de Pompadour, not being able to get that company of philosophers to descend into her salon, used to come up there herself to see them at table, and have a talk with them.”[183]
  • Of the famous men mentioned here, only Turgot was a member of the economists.

 

  • This economist camp was very active in 1766.
    • Turgot was writing an important work.
    • Mercier de la Rivière another.
  • The other members had secured a publication in the Journal de l’Agriculture du Commerce et des Finances, [Pg 220]
    • Their youngest convert was Dupont de Nemours.
      • He was made editor in June 1765.
    • Quesnay himself wrote an article almost every month until Dupont’s dismissal in November 1766.
  • The Government had thrown Mirabeau into prison for his first book.
    • It had suppressed his second only a year or two before.
    • It now ceased from troubling.
    • It even gave a certain official countenance to the Journal de l’Agriculture.
    • For after the war it:
      • no longer shut its eyes to the prevailing distress, and
      • began to give an ear to remedies.
  • They were also making converts like the Abbé Baudeau.
    • He used to write them down in his journal, the Éphémérides du Citoyen.
    • But now he offered to make it their organ when they lost the Journal de l’Agriculture.
  • They were thus in the first flush of their active propaganda.
    • In a year or two, it made political economy the science de la mode in France.
    • They won converts to the single tax among the European monarchs. (Grimm)
  • Quesnay also had taken apartments in a disciple’s house to be nearer his friends for pushing the propaganda.
    • So Smith had many opportunities of seeing him and them that year.

 

  • However, no record of all their conversation has survived, except the slight and indefinite memory of Dupont de Nemours.
  • Dupont remembers that Smith used to discuss with them an interesting question: the effect on the wages of labour of a tax on the commodities consumed by the labourers.
    • Smith, in the freedom of private intercourse with them, expressed a different opinion on that subject from that which he delivered in the Wealth of Nations, because of the fear of vested interests. (Dupont)
  • But Dupont could not have read the Wealth of Nations very carefully when accused Smith of timidity before vested interests.
    • Because almost all vested interests [Pg 221] then vigorously censured it.
  • The alleged difference is that Smith:
    • asserted for a specific limitation of the consumption tax in the Wealth of Nations
    • but asserted no limitation for it privately.
  • It probably represents only a difference between:
    • the book’s more exact expositions and
    • the conversation’s less exact expositions.
  • The point was this.
    • Like Dupont and his friends, Smith held that:
      • a direct tax on the wages, like the French industrial taille, would raise wages by the sum needed to pay the tax, if the demand for labour and the price of provisions stayed the same.
      • an indirect tax on the commodities consumed by the labourers would be the same as if necessities were taxed because a rise in the price of necessities would imperil the labourer’s ability to bring up his family.
  • But what seemed new to Dupont was that Smith in his book now held that if were luxuries were taxed, the tax would not act in that way.
    • It would act as a sumptuary law.
    • The labourer would merely spend less on such superfluities.
    • This forced frugality would probably increase his ability to bring up a family.
    • He would not need any rise of wages.
  • The high tobacco duty in France and England and a recent rise of 3 shillings on the barrel of beer had no effect on wages.

 

  • Smith would not have contended with that in France. Dupont)
    • He would not have drawn this distinction between:
      • the taxation of a necessary, and
      • the taxation of a luxury.
    • He only drew it in his book to avert the clamour of offended interests, though against his real convictions.
  • The imputation of dissimulation was explicitly made but may be disregarded.
    • The alternative of a real change of opinion is quite possible, inasmuch as the position Smith has actually reached on this question [Pg 222]in his book is far from final or perfect;
  • In a community where the labourers consume both necessaries and luxuries, a tax on necessities would have the same effect as a tax on luxuries.
    • It would force the labourer to give up some of his luxuries.
  • But there might be no real change of opinion.
    • There might be a lot of difference between:
      • his loose French statements and
      • his more complete and precise statements in his book.
  • Dupont seems to think that Smith in his talks with the French economists expressed much more unfavourable views of the inconveniences, changes, and general evils of the English system of taxation than would be gathered from the Wealth of Nations.

 

  • Before Smith left France he had occasion, unhappily, to resort to Quesnay as a physician and as an economist.
    • He had been in the habit while in Paris of taking his pupils for excursions to interesting places in the vicinity, as he had done from Toulouse.
    • In August 1766, they went to Compiègne to see the camp and the military evolutions which were to take place during the Court’s residence there.
  • In Compiègne, the Duke of Buccleugh got seriously ill of a fever from falling from his horse while hunting (Lady Mary Coke, his aunt)
    • He was watched and nursed by his distinguished tutor with a care and devotion almost more than paternal.
    • The letter is written to Charles Townshend, the Duke’s step-father:—

 

Compiègne, August 26, 1766.

Dear Sir

  • The Duke of Buccleugh has not yet entirely recovered from a slight fever.
    • Though it is  very much abated today.
  • He came here to:
    • see the camp and
    • hunt with the King and the Court.
  • Last Thursday, [Pg 223] he returned from hunting at around 7pm, very hungry.
    • He heartily ate a cold supper with a lot of salad.
    • He drank some cold punch after it.
    • It seems this supper disagreed with him.
  • He had no appetite next day.
    • But he appeared well and hearty as usual.
    • He found himself uneasy on the field.
    • He returned home before the rest of the company.
  • He dined with my Lord George Lennox.
    • He ate heartily.
    • He found himself very tired after dinner and threw himself on his servant’s bed.
    • He slept there about an hour, and awoke around 8pm in a good deal of disorder.
    • He vomited, but not enough to relieve him. (Lord George Lennox)
  • I found his pulse extremely quick.
    • He went to bed immediately and drank some vinegar whey.
    • His usual remedy was a night’s rest and a sweat.
      • He was quite confident that this would relieve him.
    • He slept little that night but sweat profusely.
  • When I saw him next day (Sunday) I was sure he had a fever.
    • I begged him to send for a physician.
  • He refused a long time, but finally consented, upon seeing me uneasy.
    • I sent for Quenay, first ordinary physician to the King.
    • He sent me word he was ill.
  • I then sent for Senac.
    • He was also ill.
  • Quesnay’s illness was not dangerous, so I went to him myself to beg him to see the Duke.
    • He told me:
      • he was an old infirm man
      • his attendance could not be depended on
      • to depend on De la Saone, first physician to the Queen.
  • I went to De la Saone.
    • He was out and was not expected home that night.
    • I returned to Quenay, who followed me immediately to the Duke.
  • It was now 7pm.
    • The Duke was in the same profuse sweat which he had been in all day and all the preceding night.
    • In this situation, Quenay declared that it was improper to do anything until the sweat is over.
    • He only ordered him some cooling ptisane drink.
  • Quenay’s illness made it impossible for him to return next day (Monday).
    • De la Saone has waited on the Duke ever since, to my entire satisfaction.
  • On Monday, he found the Duke’s fever so moderate that he judged it unnecessary to bleed him.
    • Today, Wednesday, upon finding some little extraordinary heat upon the Duke’s skin in the morning, he proposed ordering a small quantity of blood to be taken from him at 2pm,
    • but upon returning at that hour he found him so very cool and easy that he judged it unnecessary.
  • When a French physician judges bleeding unnecessary, you may be sure that the fever is not very violent.
    • The Duke has never had the smallest headache nor any pain in any part of his body.
    • He has good [Pg 224]spirits.
    • His head and eye are both clear.
    • He has no extraordinary redness in his face.
    • His tongue is not more foul than in a common cold.
    • There is some little quickness in his pulse, but it is soft, full, and regular.
  • In short, there is no one bad symptom about him.
    • He only has a fever and keeps his bed.
  • De la Saone imagines the whole illness came from the indigestion of Thursday night.
    • He supposes that some part of the undigested matter had entered his blood and caused the violent commotion by bursting some small vessel in his veins.
  • Depend upon hearing from me by every post till his perfect recovery.
  • if any threatening symptom should appear I shall immediately despatch an express to you;
  • so keep your mind as easy as possible.
  • There symptom might re-appear.
  • I never stir from his room from 8 am until 10 pm.
  • I watch for the smallest change in him.
  • I would sit by him all night too if it weren’t for Cook.
    • Cook has a ridiculous and impertinent jealousy.
    • He thinks that my assiduity encroaches on his duty.
    • He would not be so alarmed since his jealousy disturbed the Duke in his present illness.

 

  • The King has inquired almost every day at his levée of my Lord George and of Mr. De la Saone on the Duke’s illness.
    • The following are most anxious for his recovery:
      • The Duke and Dutchess of Fitzjames,
      • the Chevalier de Clermont,
      • the Comte de Guerchy, etc. etc.,
      • the whole English nation here and at Paris.
  • Remember me in the most respectful manner to Lady Dalkeith,

Believe me to be with the greatest regard, dear sir, your most obliged and most humble servant,

 

Adam Smith.

Compiègne, August 26, 1766.
Wednesday, 5pm.[184]

  • Could there be a more pleasing exhibition of the thorough kindness of a manly heart than this picture of the great philosopher sitting day after day by the bedside of his pupil,
  • watching eagerly every indication of change, and only consenting to leave the room for a time at night out of consideration for the silly jealousy of the valet, who thought the tutor’s presence an invasion of his own rights?

 

  • The Duke recovered and they returned to Paris.
  • But while still at Compiègne, they were greatly shocked at [Pg 225] the death of Sir James Macdonald.
    • He was their greatly esteemed young friend and fellow-traveler.
  • “Were you and I together, dear Smith, we should shed tears for the death of poor Sir James Macdonald.
    • We could not possibly have suffered a greater loss than in that valuable young man.”[185] (Hume)

 

  • In this letter, Hume showed that he was still clinging to the idea of returning and making his home for the remainder of his days somewhere in France in:
    • Paris or
    • Toulouse, or
    • Montauban, or
    • some provincial town in the South of France.
  • Hume would “spend contentedly the rest of my life with more money, under a finer sky and in better company than I was born to enjoy.” (Hume to Sir G. Elliot)
    • Hume had repeatedly mentioned this to Smith.
  • Smith strongly disapproved of this.
    • He thought that:
      • Hume would be too old to transplant and
      • he was being carried away by the great kindness and flatteries he received in Paris.
        • It led him to entertain a plan which could never promote his happiness.
        • Because:
          • it would probably prove fatal to work.
          • it would deprive him of the support of those old and rooted friendships which could not be replaced by the incense of an hour.
  • Smith was of an entirely opposite mind.
    • The contrast between the two friends in natural character stands out very strongly here.
  • Smith had enjoyed his stay in France almost as much as Hume.
    • He had been welcomed everywhere by the best men and women in the country with high respect.
    • But now that the term of his tutorship is approaching its end.
    • He longs passionately for home.
    • He feels that he has had his fill of travel
    • He says if he once gets among his old friends again, he will never wander more.
  • This appears from a letter he wrote Millar, the bookseller, probably after his return from Compiègne, [Pg 226]of which Millar sent the following extract to Hume:

 

“Though I am very happy here, I long passionately to rejoin my old friends, and if I had once got fairly to your side of the water, I think I should never cross it again.

Recommend the same sober way of thinking to Hume.

He is light-headed, tell him, when he talks of coming to spend the remainder of his days here or in France.

Remember me to him most affectionately.”[186]

 

  • His return came sooner than he anticipated.
    • Unfortunately, it came with a cloud.
  • The Hon. Hew Campbell Scott, was his younger pupil.
    • He was assassinated in the streets of Paris on October 18, 1766 in his 19th year[187].
    • They immediately set out for London.
    • They brought Mr. Scott’s remains with them, accompanied by Lord George Lennox, Hume’s successor as Secretary of Legation.
  • The London papers announce their arrival at Dover on November 1.
    • The tutorship ended with this melancholy event.
    • It was always remembered with great satisfaction and gratitude by the surviving pupil.
  • “In October 1766, we returned to London after spending nearly three years together without the slightest disagreement or coolness.
    • We continued to be friends until his death.
    • I have lost a friend whom I loved and respected for:
      • his great talents and
      • every private virtue.”  (The Duke of Buccleugh letter to Dugald Stewart)

 

  • Many thought that Smith’s decision to be a traveling tutor was very strange.
  • Shrewd old Dr. Carlyle thought it so strange [Pg 227].
    • He couldn’t understand why Charles Townshend, for his own glory, sent an eminent Scotch philosopher to travel with the Duke.”[188]
    • He thought that Smith:
      • had too much “probity and benevolence” to suspect ill in another or check it.
      • who seemed too absent to make his own way about could hardly be expected to look efficiently after the goings of another.
    • “He was the most absent man I ever knew.
    • He appeared very unfit for the world as a travelling tutor.”[189] (Carlyle)

 

  • Still Townshend’s choice was thoroughly justified by the result.
    • Carlyle admits it.
      • But he thinks that was due less to Smith’s efficiency than to the pupil’s natural excellence.
  • Smith was exceptionally fortunate in his pupil.
    • In his after life this Duke Henry took little part in politics.
    • But he made himself singularly beloved among his countrymen by a long career:
      • filled with beneficent and patriotic works.
      • brightened by that love of science which has for generations distinguished the house of Buccleuch.
  • It may be true that with such a pupil, Smith’s natural defects would find little opportunity of causing trouble.
    • But these defects were habitually exaggerated by Smith’s contemporaries.
    • Carlyle acknowledges that Smith’s travels with the Duke cured him considerably of his fits of abstraction.
  • This is confirmed by Ramsay of Ochtertyre.
    • He says that Smith:
      • grew smarter during his stay abroad
      • lost much of his awkwardness of manner.

 

  • However, Stewart thinks:
    • that the public have not the same reason to be satisfied with Smith’s acceptance of this tutorship as either he himself or his pupil had,
    • that the world has been seriously the loser for it,
      • because “it interrupted that studious [Pg 228]leisure for which nature seemed to have designed him, and in which alone he could have hoped to accomplish those literary projects which had flattered the ambition of his youthful genius.”
  • It is useless to speculate on what might have been.
    • Kant was never 40 miles from Konigsberg.
    • Had Smith remained in Glasgow all his days, he could have produced works of lasting importance.
    • But it is a truism to say that the works would have been other and different from what we have.
  • To a political philosopher, foreign travel is an immense advantage.
    • There never was a country where graver or more interesting problems, both economic and constitutional for study than France in the latter half of the 18th century.
    • nor any political philosopher who enjoyed better opportunities than Smith of discussing such problems with the ablest and best-informed minds on the spot.
  • Smith’s residence in France must have been an invaluable education to himself.
    • It supplied him daily with constant materials for fresh comparison and thought.
    • Samuel Rogers was greatly struck with the difference between Smith and the historian Robertson.
      • Robertson had never been out of his own country,
      • His conversation was much more limited in its range of interest.
      • But Smith’s was the rich conversation of a man who had seen and known much of the world.
  • Smith does not appear to have suffered in France from any lack of literary leisure as Stewart speaks of.
    • For he began writing a book in Toulouse because he had so little else to do
    • He had not attempted anything of the kind in Glasgow for five years.
  • The world is greatly indebted to Smith’s residence abroad, for:
    • the rich illustration his exhibited by his new book,
    • the variety of its points of view,
    • the copiousness of its data drawn from personal observation.
  • Had Smith lived to finish his work on Government, we should probably have had more results of [Pg 229]his observation of France.
    • But the Wealth of Nations itself contains many.

 

  • Despite his long stay in France, Smith never perceived any foreshadowings of the coming Revolution.
    • These were visible even to a passing traveller like Smollett.
    • M’Culloch was astonished at this.
  • But Smith was quite aware of all the gravities and possibilities of the situation.
    • He occasionally expressed anticipations of vital change.
  • He possibly formed a less gloomy view of the French people’s actual condition than he would have heard uttered in Quesnay’s room at Versailles.
    • Because he always mentally compared the state of things he saw in France with the state of things he knew in Scotland.
    • He plainly saw that France was not going forward as fast as Scotland.
      • But he thought that the common opinion that France was going backward was wrong.[190]
  • France then was a much richer country, with:
    • a better soil and climate, and
    • “better stocked with all those things which it requires a long time to raise up and accumulate, such as:
      • great towns and
      • convenient and well-built houses in town and country.” (Smith) [191]
  • Despite these advantages, the common people of France were worse off than the common people of Scotland.
    • Real wages were lower, for the people obviously lived harder.
    • Their dress and countenance showed it at once.
  • “When you go from Scotland to England the difference which you may remark between the dress and countenance of the common people in the one country and in the other sufficiently indicates the difference in their condition.
    • The contrast is still greater when you return from France.”
  • In England nobody was too poor to wear leather shoes;
    • in Scotland even the lowest orders of men wore them, though the same orders of women still went about barefooted.
    • But “in France [Pg 230]they are necessaries neither to men nor to women;
    • the lowest rank of both sexes appearing there publicly, without any discredit, sometimes in wooden shoes and sometimes barefooted.”[192]
  • Another little circumstance struck him as a proof that the classes immediately above the rank of labourer were worse off in France than they were here.
    • The taste for dressing yew-trees into the shape of pyramids and obelisks by “that very clumsy instrument of sculpture” the gardener’s shears had gone out of fashion in this country, merely because it got too common, and was discarded by the rich and vain.
  • The multitude of persons able to indulge the taste was sufficiently great to drive the custom out of fashion.
  • In France, on the other hand, he found this custom still in good repute, “notwithstanding,” he adds, “that inconstancy of fashion with which we sometimes reproach the natives of that country.”
    • The reason was that the number of people in that country able to indulge this taste was too few to deprive the custom of the requisite degree of rarity.
  • “In France the condition of the inferior ranks of people is seldom so happy as it frequently is in England,
    • You will there seldom find even pyramids and obelisks of yew in the garden of a tallow-chandler.
    • Such ornaments, not having in that country been degraded by their vulgarity, have not yet been excluded from the gardens of princes and great lords.”[193]

 

  • He discusses one great cause of the poorer condition of the French than of the English.
    • “The French were much more oppressed by taxation than the British”
    • By personal investigation, he found the oppression to be all due to:
      • bad taxes and
      • bad methods of collecting them.
  • The sum that reached the public treasury represented a much smaller burden per person than it did in Great Britain.
    • He calculated [Pg 231]Great Britain’s public revenue to represent an assessment of about 25s per person.
    • In 1765 and 1766, the years he was in France, according to the best but imperfect accounts he could get, the total that went into the French treasury would only represent 12s. 6d. per person in France.[194]
  • Taxation should thus be really lighter in France than in Great Britain.
    • But it was made into a scourge by vicious modes of assessment and collection.
  • Smith even suggested for France various moderate financial reforms:
    • repealing some taxes,
    • increasing others,
    • making a third class uniform over the kingdom, and
    • abolishing the farming system.
  • These reforms would restore prosperity to France.
    • But he had no hope of it carrying them against the active opposition of individuals interested in maintaining things as they were.

 

  • Smith was thus perfectly alive to the French people’s:
    • prevailing poverty and distress
    • suffering
    • extreme difficulty
    • hopelessness of any improvement of their situation while the existing distribution of political forces continued,
  • He was able to defeat all efforts at reform.
    • Now from all this it was not very far to the idea of a political upheaval and a new distribution of political forces, and Smith saw tendencies abroad in that direction also.
  • He told Professor Saint Fond in 1782 that the “Social Compact” would one day avenge Rousseau for all the persecutions he had suffered from the powers that were.

 

FOOTNOTES:

[159]Hume MSS., R.S.E. Partially published in Burton’s Life.

[160]Correspondance Littéraire, I. iv. 291.

[161]Burton’s Letters of Eminent Persons to David Hume, p. 238.

[162] Lady Minto, Memoirs of Hugh Elliot, p. 13.

[163] Morellet’s Mémoires, i. 237.

[164] Schelle, Dupont de Nemours et les Physiocrates, p. 159.

[165]i.e. the Royal Society of Edinburgh, to whom Stewart first read his Life of Smith.

[166] Stewart’s Works, v. 47.

[167] Clayden’s Early Life of Samuel Rogers, p. 95.

[168]Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part VI. sec. ii.

[169] Mackintosh, Miscellaneous Works, iii. 13.

[170] Brougham’s Men of Letters, ii. 226.

[171] Burton’s Hume, ii. 348.

[172] Garrick Correspondence, ii. 550.

[173] Garrick Correspondence, ii. 549.

[174] Ibid. ii. 501.

[175] Ibid. ii. 511.

[176] Stewart’s Works, x. 49, 50.

[177] “Essay on the Imitative Arts,” Works, v. 281.

[178]Works, v. 294.

[179] Say, Cours Complet, OEuvres, p. 870.

[180] Turgot’s OEuvres, v. 136.

[181]Wealth of Nations, Book IV. chap. ix.

[182] Memoirs of Madame du Hausset, p. 141.

[183] Marmontel’s Memoirs, English Translation, ii. 37.

[184] Fraser’s Scotts of Buccleuch, ii. 405.

[185] Burton’s Life of Hume, ii. 348.

[186] Hill’s Letters of Hume, p. 59. Original in R.S.E.

[187]New Statistical Account of Scotland, i. 490. (Account of Dalkeith by the late Dr. Norman Macleod, then minister of that parish, and Mr. Peter Steel, Rector of Dalkeith Grammar School.)

[188]Autobiography, p. 280.

[189]Ibid.

[190]Wealth of Nations, Book I. chap. ix.

[191]Ibid., Book V. chap. ii. art. iii.

[192]Wealth of Nations, Book V. chap. ii. art. iv.

[193] “Essay on the Imitative Arts,” Works, v. 260.

[194]Wealth of Nations, Book V. chap. ii. art. iv.


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