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with themselves than ever before, and that so obvious a point will by no means escape full recognition before reformed methods of college and university instruction take their final shape. But it is very well to be thinking explicitly about the matter meanwhile, in order that the lecture may be got ready to come fully militant into the final battle for territory. The best way to compass this end would seem to be, to study the art of the old masters of learned discourse. With Lanfranc one could get the infinite charm of the old monastic school life; with Abelard, the undying excitement of philosophical and religious controversy; with Colet, the fire of reforming zeal; with Blackstone, the satisfactions of clarified learning. But Bec and Paris and Oxford have by no means monopolized the masters of this art, and I should prefer, for the nonce at least, to choose an exemplar from Scotland, and speak of Adam Smith. It will, no doubt, be possible to speak of him without going over again the well worn ground of the topics usually associated with his great fame.
There is much, besides the contents of his published works, to draw to Adam Smith the attention of those who are attracted by individual power. Scotchmen have long been reputed strong in philosophic doctrine, and he was a Scot of the Scots. But, though Scotland is now renowned for her philosophy, that re
nown is not of immemorial origin; it was not till the last century was well advanced that she began to add great speculative thinkers to her great preachers. Adam Smith, consequently, stands nearly at the opening of the greatest of the intellectual eras of Scotland. Yet by none of the great Scotch names which men have learned since his day has his name been eclipsed. The charm about the man consists, for those who do not regard him with the special interest of the political economist, in his literary method, which exhibits his personality so attractively and makes his works so thoroughly his own, rather than in any facts about his eminency among Scotchmen. You bring away from your reading of Adam Smith a distinct and attractive impression of the man himself, such as you can get from the writings of no other author in the same field, and such as makes you wish to know still more of him. What was he like? What was his daily life?
Unhappily, we know very little that is detailed of Adam Smith as a man; and it may be deplored, without injustice to a respected name, that we owe that little to Dugald Stewart, who was too self-conscious and too stately to serve another efficiently as biographer. There was no suitable place amid the formal spaces of his palatial style for small illuminating details. Even from Dugald Stewart, however, we get a
picture of Adam Smith which must please every one who loves simplicity and genuineness. He was not, perhaps, a companionable man; he was much too absent-minded to be companionable; but he was, in the highest sense, interesting. His absent-mindedness was of that sort which indicates fulness of mind, which marks a mind content, much of the time, to live within itself, indulging in those delights of quiet contemplation which the riches of a full store of thought can always command. Often he would open to his companions his mind's fullest confidences, and, with a rare versatility, lavish a wealth of information and illustration upon topics the most varied and diverse, always to the wondering delight of those who heard him.
All who met Adam Smith in intimate intercourse are said to have been struck chiefly by the gentleness and benignity of his mannertraits which would naturally strike one in a Scotchman; for men of that unbending race are not often distinguished by easiness of temper or suavity of manner, but are generally both fortiter in re et fortiter in modo. His gentleness was, possibly, only one phase of that timidity which is natural to absent-minded men, and which was always conspicuous in him. That timidity made it rare with him to talk much. When he did talk, as I have said, his
hearers marvelled at the ingenuity of his reasoning, at the constructive power of his imagination, at the comprehensiveness of his memory, at the fertility of all his resources; but his inclination was always to remain silent. He was not, however, disinclined to public discourse, and it is chiefly to his unusual gifts as a lecturer that he seems to have owed his advancement in the literary, or, rather, in the university, world.
Acting upon the advice of Lord Kames, an eminent barrister and a man of some standing in the history of philosophy, he volunteered a course of lectures in Edinburgh almost immediately upon his return from Oxford; and the success of this course was hardly assured before he was elected to the chair of Logic in the University of Glasgow. In the following year he had the honor of succeeding to the chair of Moral Philosophy, once occupied by the learned and ingenious Hutcheson. He seems to have been at once successful in raising his new chair to a position of the very highest consideration. His immediate predecessor had been one Thomas Craigie, who has left behind him so shadowy a reputation that it is doubtless safe to conclude that his department was, at his death, much in need of a fresh infusion of life. This it received from Adam Smith. The breadth and variety of the topics upon which
he chose to lecture, and the felicity, strength, and vitality of the exposition he gave them (we are told by one who had sat under him), soon drew to Glasgow “a multitude of students from a great distance" to hear him. His mastery of the art of academic lecturing was presently an established fact. It appears clear that his success was due to two things: the broad outlook of his treatment and the fine art of his style. His chair was Moral Philosophy; and ‘moral philosophy' seems to have been the most inclusive of general terms in the university usage of Scotland at that day, and, indeed, for many years afterwards. Apparently it embraced all philosophy that did not directly concern the phenomena of the physical world, and, accordingly, allowed its doctors to give very free play to their tastes in the choice of subjects. Adam Smith, in Glasgow, could draw within the big family of this large-hearted philosophy not only the science of mental phenomena, but also the whole of the history and organization of society; just as, years afterwards, John Wilson, in Edinburgh, could insist upon the adoption of something very like belles-lettres into the same generous and unconventional family circle.
Adam Smith sought to cover the field he had chosen with a fourfold course of lectures. First, he unfolded the principles of natural theology: