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position and duties in its different members; between labourers and their emplovers, between subjects and their government —more than can be achieved by the force of exhortation in a hundred volumes, or the force of power in a hundred armies.
But the complete development of the principle of the division of labour, it must be borne in mind, requires that the fullest and freest scope be allowed to competition, which is, in other words, the entire freedom of commercial intercourse. What the inhabitants of the different provinces of a great kingdom are to each other by the division of their employments, and the interchange of their commodities; so are the various people of the different countries of the globe. They are all bound together by the same great law, the use and benefit which they may derive from the exercise of each others skill, and the produce of each other's labour; and this economy of nations would be as obvious as it is in the case of a single people, if bad politics, springing out of bad passions; if ambition and the love of conquest, and the glare of military glory, which compose for the most part the history of nations, had not blinded men to their true interests, and corrupted the common sense and virtue of mankind.
To recommend this unlimited freedom of commercial intercourse; to shew how the restrictions which have been put upon it have in all cases defeated the object in view, and must continue to do so from the nature of things; to shew that the ordinary impulses we obey in pursuance of our own selfish interest, and which might seem to have no other end, are made, by the wise order of the great Author of our being to twrint far higher, and to be conducive in their results to the good of the society, as much as to that of the individual, or even more so, (for the advantage we plan for ourselves often escapes us, whenthatto society remains;) to shew, in the intercourse of nations as of men, "that true self love and social are the same," and that mutual wants, by the all-wise economy of Providence, were made to minister to mutual happiness ;—that the instinctive desire by which every man is actuated, of improving his own condition (laws and government having no other province than that of taking care that, in pursuit of this end, he trenches not on the right of his neighbour^ the simple but solid
basis on which has been reared and secured the everlasting progress of nations in every age:—Such were the enlightened doctrines which it was the purpose of Smith's workto enforce; and it is obvious that all legislation which proceeds upon an ignorance or contempt of these laws, is to the body politic, just what the prescriptions of a physician would be to the natural body, who knew nothing of the animal economy, its functions, or its structure.
Asin the "Theory of Moral Sentiments," in treating of the moral constitution of man, he had been careful to distinguish the efficient from the final cause of our passions; he carried the same enlightened philosophy into all his investigations of human affairs, and shewed, as he beautifully expresses it, "that what is taken for the wisdom of man, is in reality the wisdom of God." There are numerous passages in his writings in which he inculcates the same sentiment, and enlarges on the folly of those speculators, who, in disregard of that wisdom, are constantly aiming to modify, by positive institutions, the natural order of society according to some arbitrary standard, instead of allowing it to advance in that course which is sure to conduct it, in the end.'to the highest state of advancement of which it is susceptible. "Man," says he, in one of his early unpublished manuscripts, "is generally considered by statesmen and projectors, as the materials of a sort of political mechanics. Projectors disturb nature in the course of her operations in human affairs, and it requires no more than to let her alone, and give her fair play in the pursuit of her ends, that she may establish her own designs." "Little else," he adds, in another passage of the same paper, "is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things. All governments which thwart this natural course, which force things into another channel, or which endeavour to arrest the progress of society, at a particular point, are unnatural, and to support themselves are obliged to be oppressive and tyrannical." It is in this spirit that political economy must be studied, if it is to maintain that rank among the moral sciences, which it deserves, and in which it was placed by its founder. It would, undoubtedly, be unfair to deny that anything has been added to this science since the publication of the "Wealth of Nations." But if it were admitted that some errors of Smith have been pointed out by subsequent inquirers, it will hardly be allowed that one or two corrections of doctrine in particular points make anything like amends for what political economy has lost of late in public estimation by the different spirit which has dictated, and the different tone which has breathed through some publications of a more recent date. The subjects of which this science treats have occupied a very increased degree of the attention, in the last few years, of speculative men, of all parties. They have done more than this. The science has attracted the attention of public men and statesmen. It has been referred to in parliamentary discussions; and what would have been most gratifying to its great expounder, some of its leading principles have been recognised and acted upon in important, and we trust, in permanent legislative enactments. There has been mixed up with these debates, it is true, much that might have been well spared, without loss to the credit of the assemblies in which they have taken place, and much interested and ignorant opposition has been arrayed against every amendment of the law; but nothing has been said or done by the most ignorant and most interested opponent of the progress of sound, political, and commercial freedom, which would so much have grieved the author of the "Wealth of Nations," as the arrogant and intolerant spirit, the daring paradox, and dogmatical propositions which have been promulgated by some of his pretended followers.
It is not needful to say more upon this point; but we think it requisite to say so much, for the benefit of those who know nothing of the " Wealth of Nations," and nothing of political economy; and in order that they may not be turned away by any spurious disciples of the science, from the study of a work, of which it has been truly said,—" that, abstracting entirely the author's peculiar and original speculations, there is no book, perhaps, in any language, containing so methodical, so comprehensive, and so judicious a digest of all the most profound and enlightened philosophy of the age."
The title which Smith adopted for his work, admirable as it is, and expressive of the nature of his investigations; and
the introduction, in which he presents a luminous outline of his method, give no indication of the many masterly collateral disquisitions contained in it; because, in so comprehensive a subject, it was not easy to express, nor is it always obvious for the reader to perceive, the reference they bear to the investigations with which they are associated. These disquisitions, however, form very often the most interesting and valuable portion of the book, to those especially who, having less relish for the study of some branches of political economy, are pleased when they find its reasonings made applicable to purposes of more general philosophy. We would instance the whole of the first chapter of the fifth book, as being of this description; and more especially Art. II, and III. of Part the 3rd, entitled, "Of the Expense of the Institutions for the Education of Youth, and of the Expense of the Institutions for the Instruction of People of all Ages."
It may be remembered too that in every science, the most important and interesting truths are very often such as are obvious to every capacity, and when clearly stated admit of no dispute; whilst those parts of it which are least valuable, and most liable to angry controversy, are happily such as comprise doctrines purely speculative, and which, if they are of difficult comprehension, may be safely left uncomprehended. Now, if this is true of any science, it is true of political economy: there are thorny and vexatious questions included within its range, but we doubt if, in any of the moral sciences, there are so many well ascertained truths of great and practical importance which may fairly be said to lie, with candifl reasoners, beyond the reach of controversy. ,
Section 6.—From the publication of the "Wealth of Nations" until the death of Dr. Smith.
The two following years after the publication of the "Wealth of Nations" were spent chiefly in London; and Dr. Smith, as well he might, after ten years almost unremitting and severe application, relaxed his powers in the pleasures of society, and mingled with the many eminent men who were then at the head of wit and literature in the capital. Dr. Johnson, Burke, Gibbon, Beauclerk, Reynolds, and the other members of the Literary Club, which had been formed many years before, and of which Smith had been previously a member, were among those with whom he associated at this time; but neither history nor tradition has handed down to us any of those sallies of colloquial wit and eloquence for which many of his contemporaries, far less distinguished than himself in t he higher walks of philosophy and learning, have become celebrated with posterity. That he was not distinguished by the flow or force of his mind m conversation is quite evident; and he is reported to have said of himself, that he was so much in the habit of husbanding his resources for his works in the closet, that he made it a rule never to talk in society upon any subject which he understood. This story, however, we should be inclined to disbelieve. Such voluntary and deliberate abstinence from the pleasures of social converse, even if it were allowed to be a virtue, would evidently be one very difficult in practice: and instead of allowing him the credit of so rare a species of self-denial, we are more disposed, in accounting for his habitual reserve, to class Dr. Smith with some other very eminent men (Addison and Dryden are amongst them), whom Johnson has so admirably described in the following passage;—
"There are men whose powers operate only at leisure and in retirement, and whose intellectual vigour deserts them in conversation; whom merriment confuses, and objection disconcerts; whose bashfulness restrains their exertion, and suffers them not to speak till the time of speaking is past; or whose attention to their own character makes them unwilling to utter at hazard what has not been considered, and cannot be recalled."0
The light in which the characteristic quality of his mind was regarded by his friends may be partly gathered, amongst other testimonies, from the allusion to him in the verses which Dr. Barnard addressed to the members of the club, not long after the publication of the "Wealth of Nations." The stanza is a3 follows:—
If I have thoughts, and can't express 'em.
In words select and terse:
And Beauclere to converse.
In the year 1778, owing to the friend
• Life of Dryden.
ship of the Duke of Buccleugh, and in some measure, we may trust, as a reward for his invaluable labours. Dr. Smith was appointed one of the Commissioners of the Customs in Scotland; an office which occasioned him to fix his residence in Edinburgh, where he continued to the end of his life.
If we should consider this appointment only in the light of an acknowledgement, of a recompense too rarely bestowed by men in power, for labours purely philosophical, and having nothing to recommend them but their intrinsic truth and beauty, few things can be more gratifying than the contemplation, to every lover of science and of virtue. Even the rewards which have been occasionally bestowed upon men of genius, by princes and their ministers, have too often been conferred for its prostitution to the mere purposes of power; the price of its past or future service, or the bribe for its silence when that alone was to be bought.
In the instance before us, it is gratifying to know, that the reward, if it was so meant, was equally honourable to the giver and the receiver. The works which Smith had published for the instruction of the world, had nothing to do with the possessors of power in his day, but to enlighten and direct its exercise. The parties and factions belonging to the period when he wrote could derive no particular or personal advantage from his writings; but mankind, in every age, will find in them the best corrective to faction and to party, by contemplating those eternal political truths with which party has rarely had anything to do, but which are equally salutary at all times, and under every form of government, for rulers and their people.
But if we should consider that the appointment which was bestowed upon Smith, however gratifying in other respects, was the cause, as there is reason to fear, of an interruption to his studies, and of the loss to the world of those speculations to which he had alluded in the closing passage of his Moral Sentiments, and the completion of which he is known never to have entirely abandoned but with his life; we shall be disposed to lament, perhaps ungratefully to lament, that he who had already done so much for the advancement of moral and political science, was not permitted to do more, by the fulfilment of his engagement to give to
his country a theory of jurisprudence,
"November 16<A, 1778.
"My Dear Lord,
"I am much obliged to you for the kind communication of the objections you propose to make in your new edition, to my system. Nothing can be more perfectly friendly and polite than the terms in which you express yourself with regard to me; and I should be extremely peevish and ill-tempered if I could make the slightest opposition to their publication. I am, no doubt, extremely sorry to find myself of a different opinion both from so able a judge of the subject, and of so old and good a friend;—but differences of this kind are unavoidable, and besides—Partium contentimibus respublica crescit. 1 should have been waiting on your Lordship before this time, but the remains of
a cold have, for these four or five days
The greatest good conferred upon Dr. Smith by his official appointment, the greatest, indeed, that could be conferred by any additional wealth, was the power of extending the range of his benevolence, which is known to have been at all times exerted in acts of charity, far beyond what might have been expected of him, even after this moderate increase of his income. His excellent biographer has alluded to some remarkable instances of this nature in the life of Smith, which have been communicated to him by one of his confidential friends, where the assistance was on a scale as liberal as the manner of rendering it was delicate and affecting. Next to this was the satisfaction he derived from the privilege of spending the latter period of his life in the society of his oldest and dearest friends—free from those anxious cares with which the want of mere worldly competence has sometimes darkened the declining years of genius and of virtue. In the society of his mother, and of his cousin, Miss Douglas, who now formed part of his household, he enjoyed for some years every comfort and consolation that can be felt by one who is a stranger to the more endearing ties which bind a husband and a father. A simple, but hospitable table was always open to his friends.
In 1784 he lost his mother, and four years after, his cousin; and their death was felt by him as a severe and irreparable loss; little to be soothed by any worldly honour or applause; it being the effect, perhaps, of age and of all true wisdom, to render the mind as insensible to such vanities, as it is to dispose it to the influence of the social and domestic affections. Were it otherwise, the affliction under which he suffered might have been somewhat alleviated by one of the most gratifying circumstances
• There is a letter of Dr. Reid's e«tanr, addressed to Lord Kames, in which he says that" after all, the system of sympathy is only a refinement of the selfish system," a criticism very like to saying that white is only a refinement on the colour of black— things, in which the plain sense of the world has discovered, some how or other, a pretty clear and durable distinction; notwithstanding the painter may blend them with his brush, or a logician, like Dr. Reid, confound them by his cavils.
of his life, which occurred about this period. In the year 1787 the University of Glasgow elected him rector of that learned body; and that he felt this compliment very sensibly, is manifest from the letter which he addressed to the principal of the college in acknowledgment of this flattering distinction—an honour, however, be it remarked, which could scarcely have been rendered where it would have reflected back so much credit upon those who had bestowed it, and which, we may venture to say, would not have been lessened in the estimation of Dr. Smith, had he lived to see it conferred upon some illustrious names who have shared it in our own times.
"No preferment," says he, "could have given me so much real satisfaction. No man can owe greater obligations to a society than I do to the University of Glasgow. They educated me; they sent me to Oxford. Soon after my return to Scotland, they elected me one of their own members, and afterwards preferred me to another office, to which the abilities and virtues of the never to be forgotten Dr. Hutcheson had given a superior degree of illustration. The period of thirteen years which I spent as a member of that society, I remember as by far the most useful, and therefore as by far the happiest and most honourable period of my life: and now, after three-and-twenty years absence, to be remembered in so very agreeable a manner by my old friends and protectors, gives me a heartfelt joy which I cannot easily express to you."
The life of this illustrious man was now fast drawing to a close. For a considerable period previous to his death his health had gradually declined, and his mind reverted in his last moments with renewed regret to what he had left undone of the works he had so long designed. His death was approaching far too rapidly to leave the slightest hope of doing more; and his anxiety about the fate of his manuscripts became excessive. It was so great, that during his last illness, after reiterating the most earnest entreaties for their destruction after his death, he was yet not satisfied, and desired that the whole of his papers, except the few fragments which he bequeathed to the care of Dr. Hutton, might be destroyed immediately. His mind seemed greatly relieved, when he was assured that this was done. A very few days before he
died, he had two or three of his select friends to sup with him, as was his custom; but finding his strength fail him, he retired to bed, and as he went away, he took leave of them by saying, "I believe, Gentlemen, we must adjourn this meeting to some other place." In the previous winter he had prepared a new edition of his "Moral Sentiments," and in the advertisement which he prefixed to it, he had still allowed himself to express a last and faint hope that it might yet be permitted to him to complete his long-projected work on jurisprudence. Even then, the ardour of his mind would not suffer him altogether to relinquish a hope which, it was but too evident, could never be fulfilled. He died only a few days after the meeting to which we have referred, on the 17th July, 1790, bequeathing the valuable library which he had collected to his nephew, Mr. D. Douglas; appointing his friends, Dr. Hutton and Dr. Black, the executors of his will; and entrusting to them the charge of publishing the few unfinished sketches which had been allowed to survive him.
Section 7.—On the general Character and Writings of Smith.
The character of Dr. Smith, like that of all men whose lives have been devoted to the pursuits of philosophy and science, may be best traced in his writings. It has perhaps been the fortune of few men so eminent to have engaged so little in the commerce and bustle of active life, and of few, it has been said, to have been so little fitted for it: yet the intellectual and moral capacities of this illustrious man were evidently of an order to have filled, and adorned, the highest station in society; and, notwithstanding the abstraction in which he lived, for the most part, from the business of the world, and some peculiar and characteristic traits which occasionally marked his habits and his opinions, it is clear that, with an understanding of the loftiest range, he was free, in many respects, from that exclusiveness and pedantry which have been sometimes ascribed to philosophers of great name, and which have given currency, we suppose, " to the opinion, so industriously propagated (says Mr. Hume) by the dunces in every age, that a man of genius is unfit for business." In the establishment of his most enlightened theories, and those least of all subject to be dis