Adam Smith Rare 4 p. ALS On The Financial and Moral Responsibility of the Son of Royalty
In this outstanding letter Adam Smith writes about the inculcation of financial and moral responsibility and other matters relating to money.4to. 4 pages. Very good condition.
Adam Smith (baptized June 5, 1723, Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland—died July 17, 1790, Edinburgh) was named Professor of Logic and the University of Glasgow, in 1751, and the following year he became Professor of Moral Philosophy. He remained there until 1764. During this fruitful period, Smith wrote his first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, published in 1759, the year he wrote these letters to Lord Shelburne. It was customary at this time for professors to take students into their houses. Smith’s most noteworthy charge was Thomas Petty-Fitzmaurice, younger son of the 1st Earl of Shelburne, the recipient of this letter.
In this letter Smith meticulously details for Shelburne his son’s expenses, praises the young man’s behavior, and addresses the role of money in matters of character. Smith apologizes for the lack of receipts for certain expenses including physicians, pocket money, books, a set of silver buckles, and “a case of mathematical instruments.” He then explains that he took Thomas on a trip to Edinburgh rather than leave him behind unsupervised. At times Smith was obliged “to sup or dine at places where it was improper to carry him.” Concerned about the company Thomas might keep in “a very dissolute town,” Smith “ordered a small entertainment at our lodgings and invited two or three young lawyers to keep him company.” Aware that Shelburne might object to the university tuition charges as “extravagant,” Smith observes, “it is the fee which is expected from all nobleman’s sons. Not above the half would be expected from any gentleman’s son.”
Smith then turns to Lord Shelburne’s “very laudable anxiety that your son should be held to Oeconomy not that he might hoard, but that he might be able to give.” He assures Shelburne that Thomas “is careful of everything upon which he sets any value, of his books, of his clothes, and will I am persuaded be so of his money, whenever he comes to have any money to manage that is worth caring for.” He concludes, “If he lives to be a man, he will, I imagine be firm, steady and resolute in an uncommon degree, … a man of severe and even of rigid morals."
Only 193 Adam Smith letters are known, all but a handful in institutions. Smith confessed to his friend David Hume “I am as Lazy a Correspondent as you,” but Hume’s letters outnumber Smith’s by a factor of three or more. In contrast, 1600 Samuel Johnson letters survive, more than 10,000 George Washington letters are known, and Voltaire wrote more than 20,000 letters.
Of the 193 extant Adam Smith letters, 24 are known only from published sources, leaving just 169 extant manuscript letters, virtually all in institutions. Smith “almost never retained copies of letters sent. And he was not addicted to letter-writing; so that, compared with correspondence of some other notable persons, Smith’s letters were rather few and short” (Dickinson)
This is a rare opportunity to acquire a long Adam Smith letter on financial matters, representing the pinnacle of economics manuscripts.
Provenance: Bowood, home of the Earls of Shelburne.
This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.
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