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sively upon the operation of self-interest and expediency; because he had reckoned with the altruistic motives in the “Theory of Moral Sentiments," and he would not confuse his view of the economic life of man by again forcing these in where selfishness was unquestionably the predominant force. “The philosopher," he held, “is the man of speculation, whose trade is not to do anything, but to observe every: thing;" and certainly he satisfied his own definition. He does observe everything; and he stores his volumes full with the sagest practical maxims, fit to have fallen from the lips of the shrewdest of those Glasgow merchants in whose society he learned so much that might test the uses of his theories. But it is noticeable that none of the carefully noted facts of experience which play so prominent a part on the stage of his arguments speaks of any other principle than the simple and single one which is the pivot of that part of his philosophy with which he is at the moment dealing. In the “Wealth of Nations” every apparent induction leads to self-interest, and to self-interest alone. In Mr. Buckle's phrase, his facts are subsequent to his argument; they are not used for demonstration, but for illustration. His historical cases, his fine generalizations, everywhere broadening and strengthening his matter, are only instances of the operation of
the single abstract principle meant to be set forth.
When he was considering that topic in his course which has not come down to us in any of the remaining fragments of his lectures—the principles of justice, namely-although still always mindful of its relative position in the general scheme of his abstract philosophy of society, his subject led him, we are told, to speak very much in the modern historical spirit. He followed upon this subject, says the pupil already quoted, “the plan which seemed to have been suggested by Montesquieu; endeavoring to trace the gradual progress of jurisprudence, both public and private, from the rudest to the most refined ages, and to point out the effects of those arts which contribute to subsistence, and to the accumulation of property, in producing corresponding improvements or alterations in law and government.' In following Montesquieu, he was, of course, following one of the forerunners of that great school of philosophical students of history which has done so much in our own time to clear away the fogs that surround the earliest ages of mankind, and to establish something like the rudiments of a true philosophy of history. And this same spirit was hardly less discernible in those later lectures on the “political institutions relating to commerce, to finances, and to
the ecclesiastical and military establishments," which formed the basis of the "Wealth of Nations."
Everywhere throughout his writing there is a pervasive sense of the realities of fact and circumstance; a luminous, bracing, work-aday atmosphere. But the conclusions are, first of all, philosophical; only secondarily practical.
It has been necessary to go over this somewhat familiar ground with reference to the philosophical method of Adam Smith, in order to come at the proper point of view from which to consider his place among the old masters of academic lecturing. It has revealed the extent of his outlook. There yet remains something to be said of his literary method, so that we may discern the qualities of that style which, after proving so effectual in imparting power to his spoken discourses, has since, transferred to the printed page, preserved his fame so far beyond the lifetime of those who heard him.
Adam Smith took strong hold upon his hearers, as he still takes strong hold upon his readers, by force, partly, of his native sagacity, but by virtue, principally, of his consummate style.
The success of his lectures was not altogether a triumph of natural gifts; it was, in great part, a triumph of sedulously cultivated art. With the true instinct of the orator and teacher, Adam Smith saw-what every one must see who speaks not for the patient ear of
the closeted student only, but also to the often shallow ear of the pupil in the class-room, and to the always callous ear of the great world outside, which must be tickled in order to be made attentive—that clearness, force, and beauty of style are absolutely necessary to one who would draw men to his way of thinking; nay, to any one who would induce the great mass of mankind to give so much as passing heed to what he has to say. He knew that wit was of no avail, without wit's proper words; sagacity mean, without sagacity's mellow measures of phrase. He bestowed the most painstaking care, therefore, not only upon what he was to say, but also upon the way in which he was to say it. Dugald Stewart speaks of “that flowing and apparently artless style, which he had studiously cultivated, but which, after all his experience in composition, he adjusted, with extreme difficulty, to his own taste." The results were such as to offset entirely his rugged utterance and his awkward, angular action, and to enable the timid talker to exercise the spells of an orator. The charm of his discourses consisted in the power of statement which gave them life, in the clear and facile processes of proof which gave them speed, and in the vigorous, but chastened, imagination which lent them illumination. He constantly refreshed and rewarded his hearers, as he still
constantly refreshes and rewards his readers, by bringing them to those clear streams of practical wisdom and happy illustration which everywhere gate his expositions. His counsel, even on the highest themes, was always undarkened. There were no clouds about his thoughts; the least of these could be seen without glasses through the transparent atmosphere of expression which surrounded them. He was a great thinker,—and that was much; but he also made men recognize him as a great thinker, because he was a great master of style which was more. He did not put his candle under a bushel, but in a candlestick.
In Doctor Barnard's verses, addressed to Sir Joshua Reynolds and his literary friends, Adam Smith is introduced as a peer amidst that brilliant company:
"If I have thoughts and can't express 'em,
In words select and terse;
And Beauclerc to converse."
It is this power of teaching other men how to think that has given to the works of Adam Smith an immortality of influence. In his first university chair, the chair of Logic, he had given scant time to the investigation of the