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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Smith, Adam (1723-90)

The famous economist, and author of The Wealth of Nations. His name appears for four copies on Burns's subscription list for his First Edinburgh Edition. Although possibly the most distinguished Scot in Edinburgh when Burns arrived there, the two men never met.

From Mrs Dunlop's letter to Burns of 29th March 1787, Smith's views on Burns emerge: 'Indeed, first when your Book reached Edr., Mr Smith, Commissioner of the Customs, suggested a thing which he thought might be procured, and which he said was just what he would have wished for himself had he been in narrow circumstances - being a Salt Officer. Their income is from £30 to £40, their duty easie, independent, and free from that odium or oppression attached to the Excise. He has through life been a friend to unfriended merit, has great fame in the world as an author, both his Theory of Moral Sentiment and Wealth of Nations being much applauded. He was one of those first held forth your name forcibly to the public at Edr. when very few had seen your book, and my son told me was the person he heard take the most interest in your future prospects, wishing to procure you leisure to write, which he said was all you wanted to insure your figure and fortune. He lately complained that he had asked it, but could not get a sight of you.

'I have a favor to beg you that you will deliver the enclosed out of your own hand with my compts. to Mr Smith, and at same time thank him for the will he exprest towards you. Excuse me giving you this trouble. I would not had I not believed him one of the best, and found him one of the most agreeable men in the world... Should this Salt plan, mentioned before the world's opinions could be known, still have wherewithal to please you, you may introduce it, and beg Mr Smith would he so good as instruct you in the proper forms of application...'

Burns, however, was not destined to see Smith, who had been seriously ill with chronic obstruction of the bowel during the winter of 1786-7, and who, immediately he was well enough to travel, set out for London to consult his friend John Hunter, the famous Scots surgeon. So, on 15th April 1787, Burns wrote to Mrs Dunlop: 'Dr Smith was just gone to London the morning before I received your letter to him.'

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Robert Burns Store

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Complete Burns Songs

linn recordings of burns Linn Records have completed their landmark recording of all 368 Burns songs, available as individual CDs or a 12 volume presentation box set. We have full details. Click here...


Burns Music & Recordings
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Burns Chess Sets

Burns Chess SetsUnique collectors' pieces based on Burns' life and works. (The ideal gift for your Burns Supper guests!) Click here...

Scotweb Store

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