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The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie, vol. I of the Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982).
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Account of editions 1–7
Six authorized editions of TMS were published in Adam Smith’s lifetime. Edition 6, which incorporated extensive additions and substantial revision of other kinds, appeared in 1790, a few weeks before his death. In Letter 295 addressed to Thomas Cadell, his publisher, dated 25 May 1790, Smith acknowledges the receipt of his twelve copies of this edition. Glasgow University Library possesses one of them, presented by Smith to a friend and inscribed in his own hand. We have collated copies of all these six editions, and also of edition 7 (published in 1792) since it is in principle possible that some of the minor changes in edition 7 were corrections made by the author after going through edition 6. This is in fact unlikely, because Smith was already very ill by the time that edition 6 appeared. There is also some internal evidence against it: in VII.ii.4.3, editions 6 and 7 intelligibly but mistakenly print ‘lawful’ instead of ‘awful’, and if Smith had corrected edition 6 he would almost certainly have picked up this error, while a printer, less familiar with the doctrines of the book as a whole, would not have recognized it as an error. Nevertheless there are a few places in which edition 7 does correct errors (as well as some where it introduces new ones, and a number where it revises punctuation or spelling), so that it is as well to include the variants of edition 7 in the collation.
John Rae’s account, in his Life of Adam Smith, of the different editions of TMS is erroneous in several respects. On p. 141 he says that edition 1 was published in two volumes, while in fact it was a single volume. On pp. 148–9 he writes:
The second edition of the Theory, which Hume was anticipating immediately in 1759, did not appear till 1761, and it contained none of the alterations or additions he expected; but the Dissertation on the Origin of Languages was for the first time published along with it. The reason for the omission of the other additions is difficult to discover, for the author had not only prepared them, but gone the length of placing them in the printer’s hands in 1760, as appears from the following letter [Letter 50 addressed to William Strahan, the printer, dated 4 April 1760]. They did not appear either in the third edition in 1767, or the fourth in 1774, or the fifth in 1781; nor till the sixth, which was published, with considerable additions and corrections, immediately before the author’s death in 1790.
On p. 425 Rae repeats the gist of this by saying of the projected edition 6: ‘The book had been thirty years before the world and had passed through five editions, but it had never undergone any revision or alteration whatever.’ In fact edition 2 is considerably revised when compared with edition 1. Although the alterations and additions are not as extensive as in edition 6, they are very substantial and are perfectly consistent with Letter 50. The particular addition which Hume was expecting in answer to his criticism made in Letter 36 addressed to Smith, dated 28 July 1759, appears as a footnote to I.iii.1.9. The Dissertation on the Origin of Languages, however, was first appended, not to edition 2 of TMS, but to edition 3, having previously been published in the Philological Miscellany, vol. i, in 1761. Editions 3, 4, and 5 of TMS each contain some minor revision by the author.
We have used two copies of edition 1, one belonging to Glasgow University Library, the other to the Bodleian Library, and have found no differences between them. Edition 1 is a single octavo volume of [xii] + 552 pages, the last page containing a list of Errata (two of which, being respectively on the first and last lines of a page, have in fact already been corrected in the text). The title–page describes the work simply as ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments’ and the author as ‘Adam Smith, Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Glasgow’. The book is imprinted 1759, London and Edinburgh. In Letter 33 addressed to Smith, dated 26 April 1759, the London publisher, Andrew Millar, wrote: ‘I reed the errata which are printed, . . . I have no Sort of doubt of this Impression being Soon gone tho’ it will not be published till next Week, . . .’
We have used three copies of edition 2, two from Glasgow University Library and one from the Bodleian. One of the Glasgow copies is defective, lacking the final Part; but since this particular volume is not in its original binding, it is likely that it was complete when first issued. In other respects (e.g. broken letters and misprints) it is identical with the other two copies. Edition 2, like edition 1, is a single octavo volume, but is completely reset in a new form. The pages are slightly longer than those of edition 1, the type is a little smaller, and there is less space between the lines. This edition contains [x] + 436 pages, with no list of Errata. The title–page follows that of edition 1 in its description of the book and author, and is likewise imprinted as being published at London and Edinburgh. It bears the date 1761, but copies must have been available, at least to the author if not to the public, at the end of 1760, since Smith sent a list of Errata with Letter 54 addressed to William Strahan, dated 30 December 1760. The letter begins:
My Dear Strahan
The opposite leaf will set before your eyes the manifold sins and iniquities you have been guilty of in printing my book. The first six, at least the first, third and fourth and sixth are what you call sins against the holy Ghost which cannot upon any account be pardoned. The Remainder are capable of remission in case of repentance, humiliation and contrition.
W. R. Scott printed this letter in his book, Adam Smith as Student and Professor, but without the list of Errata that accompanied it. The sheet of Errata was traced by Professor Ernest C. Mossner in the course of preparing the volume of Correspondence for the present edition of Smith’s Works. The Errata relate to edition 2 of TMS. They are divided into two groups. The first group of six is preceded by the statement, ‘The following Errata must be corrected as totally disfiguring the sense’, which is why the letter calls them sins against the Holy Ghost. Some indeed not only disfigure but flatly contradict the sense required: ‘approbation’ for ‘disapprobation’, ‘utility’ for ‘inutility’, and ‘pleased’ for ‘displeased’. All six of this first group of errors are corrected in edition 3. The second group consists of twenty–five errors, seven of which are corrected in edition 3, three in edition 4, and four in edition 6; one further error is avoided in edition 6 by a new form of correction (Smith had evidently forgotten the original list by this time); the remaining ten have never been corrected before the present edition. Since the list of Errata was no doubt intended to be printed with any further impressions of edition 2, we have treated it as if it had been, incorporating Smith’s revisions (apart from the one which he rephrased for edition 6) in our text.
Edition 2 contains substantial revisions of edition 1. A couple of the changes are merely formal: Section ii of Part I in edition 1 becomes Chapters 2–5 of Section i, and the ‘Sections’ of Parts III–V become ‘Chapters’. Throughout the book there are quite a large number of minor stylistic improvements. The footnote at I.iii.1.9, in reply to Hume’s criticism, is added. After III.1.4, edition 1 had three paragraphs; edition 2 transfers the first to a later position, withdraws the second (substituting for it, in the present § 6, an improved version of the same thought), and retains the third with slight revision but in a new position. At the end of III.1.5, edition 2 withdraws a paragraph that was in edition 1, and adds § 6, the improved version of the paragraph withdrawn earlier. In what was III.ii of edition 1, and III.2 of editions 2–5 (see the present III.2.31 and III.3.1–5, 7–9, 11), edition 2 adds sixteen new paragraphs; these include an important development of the theory of the impartial spectator so as to provide a genetic explanation of conscience. Consequently, edition 2 is not quite the same book as edition 1, though the changes are not on the scale of those made in edition 6.
Smith mentioned the changes in Letter 50 addressed to William Strahan, dated 4 April 1760, to which Rae refers in the passage quoted earlier from Life, 148–9. We give part of the first paragraph of this letter.
I sent up to Mr Millar four or five Posts ago the same additions, which I had formerly sent to you, with a good many corrections and improvements which occurred to me since. If there are any typographical errors remaining in the last edition which had escaped me, I hope you will correct them. In other respects I could wish it was printed pretty exactly according to the copy which I delivered to you. . . . To desire you to read my book over and mark all the corrections you would wish me to make upon a sheet of paper and send it to me, would, I fear, be giving you too much trouble. If, however, you could induce yourself to take this trouble, you would oblige me greatly: I know how much I shall be benefitted and I shall at the same time preserve the pretious right of private judgement for the sake of which our forefathers kicked out the Pope and the Pretender. I believe you to be much more infallible than the Pope, but as I am a Protestant my conscience makes me scruple to submit to any unscriptural authority.
Apart from changes in ‘substantives’ (i.e. in the words as conveyors of meaning), there are in edition 2 numerous revisions of ‘accidentals’ (i.e. of punctuation, spelling, division of words, and use of capital or lower–case letters and of roman or italic type). Many of them will have been introduced by the printer, but it cannot be assumed that all were. Some of the changes in punctuation, such as the substitution of a full point and new sentence for a semi–colon, are almost certainly due to the author. The revision of chapter headings, so as to replace roman by italic type, is likely at least to have had Smith’s approval, since in Letter 276 addressed to Thomas Cadell (Millar’s successor as publisher), dated 15 March 1788, he himself uses this style to refer to chapter headings. Letter 50 addressed to Strahan, dated 4 April 1760 and quoted above, shows the care that Smith took in revising the work and in giving instructions to the printer.
Editions 3, 4, and 5 have the same size, format, pagination, and (in general) division of lines as edition 2, but with the Dissertation on the Origin of Languages added. None of them, however, is a reprint from standing type. Each has been composed anew, but following the pages and (mostly) the line divisions of the previous edition, a frequent printing practice of the time, used in order to allow different parts of a book to be set up in type by different compositors working simultaneously. Our evidence for saying that no edition is a reprint is twofold. The mere fact that there is sometimes a different division of lines is of course not conclusive, since a compositor using standing type would reset some lines in order to accommodate revisions or to improve bad spacing. But, in the first place, misprints in these particular editions have been introduced when the compositor had no reason whatever to reset a line. Secondly, a test suggested by R. B. McKerrow, of laying a ruler across two full points and seeing whether it always cuts the same letters, shows conclusively that even when there is no change in the text, the later edition has been recomposed.
We have used two copies of edition 3, one from Glasgow University Library, the other from the Bodleian, and have found no differences between them. Edition 3 is a single octavo volume of [viii] + 478 pages, with no list of Errata. The text of TMS ends at p. 436, and pp. 437–78 contain the Dissertation on the Origin of Languages. There is in consequence a new form of title–page, which describes the contents of the book as: ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments. To which is added A Dissertation on the Origin of Languages.’ The author is now called ‘Adam Smith, L.L.D.’ with no reference to his former Professorship at the University of Glasgow, which Smith had resigned in 1764. In Letter 100 addressed to William Strahan (undated but probably written in the winter of 1766–7), Smith refers to the forthcoming edition 3 and asks that he be called ‘simply Adam Smith without any addition before or behind’. Presumably he would have preferred to dispense even with the insertion of his LL.D. Edition 3 was published at London and Edinburgh in 1767.
As is to be expected in a line–by–line repetition of an earlier edition, the revision of substantives in edition 3 is light, though not negligible. Two groups of these minor changes are of interest and have a related character. In a theological passage at II.ii.3.12 and the paragraph that then followed it, the categorical tone of certain phrases is softened to a problematic one; for example, ‘religion authorises’ becomes ‘religion, we suppose, authorises’, and ‘neither can he [man] see any reason’ becomes ‘and he thinks he can see no reason’. Similarly, in passage at V.2.5 about the character of the clergyman, two instances of ‘is are altered to ‘seems to be’ and ‘is supposed to be’. Since the treatment in edition 6 of the former passage became the subject of controversy after Smith’s death, the change of tone in 1767 is of some significance.
There is also in edition 3 a fair amount of revision in accidentals, probably due in the main to the printer on this occasion. As has already been stated, some of the mistakes (including all of the first group) listed in the draft Errata page for edition 2 are corrected, but many are left uncorrected. The printer has corrected a few further misprints of edition 2, has introduced a number of new ones, and has changed the punctuation quite often and the spelling occasionally.
The Dissertation on the Origin of Languages was evidently set up, not from manuscript, but from a copy of the printed version that had already appeared in the Philological Miscellany, vol. i (London, 1761), for in Letter 100 addressed to Strahan, Smith wrote:
The Dissertation upon the Origin of Languages is to be printed at the end of the Theory. There are some literal errors in the printed copy of it which I should have been glad to have corrected, but have not the opportunity as I have no copy by me. They are of no great consequence. In the titles, both of the Theory and Dissertation, call me simply Adam Smith without any addition either before or behind.
In fact there is no separate title–page for the Dissertation. The reference in the letter to ‘the printed copy’ may have confirmed Rae’s mistaken impression (shared by Dugald Stewart in his ‘Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith’, II.44) that the Dissertation was first printed in edition 2 of TMS, for he repeats the statement on p. 233 of his Life, before giving the text of the letter.
In the present edition of Smith’s Works the Dissertation on the Origin of Languages is being published together with LRBL. The relevant volume will include a collation of the text of the Dissertation in the Philological Miscellany and in the different editions of TMS.
We have used one copy of edition 4, belonging to the Aberdeen Public Library. Edition 4 is, like edition 3, a single octavo volume of [viii] + 478 pages, but these are followed on this occasion by two pages of advertisement. The title–page is different, however, in adding to the description of the main work: ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments, or An Essay towards an Analysis of the Principles by which Men naturally judge concerning the Conduct and Character, first of their Neighbours, and afterwards of themselves.’ The author remains ‘Adam Smith, LL.D.’ Edition 4 was published in 1774 at London and Edinburgh.
Edition 4 was set up from a copy of edition 3. It includes the latter’s intentional revisions, both in substantives and in accidentals, but it corrects most of the misprints introduced in edition 3. In fact, whereas the compositors of edition 3 were rather careless, the printer evidently took great pains with edition 4 to secure accuracy and consistency. There are very few misprints, and the many revisions of accidentals are made with intelligence. They include modernization of such words as ‘compleat’ (though only from what was then I.iii.3), ‘meer’, ‘antient’, ‘falshood’, ‘vitious’; relative consistency in the spelling of words (e.g. ‘sympathize’, ‘entire’) which had previously been spelt inconsistently; and the removal of nearly all the remaining instances (usually at the end of a line) of the contracted form ‘tho’’. There are again, as in edition 3, a few minor changes in substantives, and some at least of these are such that they must have been made by the author.
We have used two copies of edition 5, both belonging to Glasgow University Library, and have found no differences between them. Edition 5 is, like edition 4, a single octavo volume of [viii] + 478 pages together with the same two pages of advertisement. The title–page follows that of its predecessor. Edition 5 was published in 1781 at London and Edinburgh. It contains a fair number of revisions of accidentals, chiefly in punctuation, but occasionally in spelling; e.g. it reverts from the spelling ‘blamable’ of edition 4 to the spelling ‘blameable’ of editions 1–3. Nevertheless it must have been set up from a copy of edition 4 and not from one of the earlier editions, since it includes all the revisions of substantives, and most of the revisions of accidentals, that were made in edition 4. It also includes a few further revisions in substantives, of a minor character.
The changes in accidentals, especially in punctuation, are usually sensible, though sometimes pernickety, and are such as one would expect to be carried over by the printer of the next edition. In fact, however, most of the revisions of accidentals in edition 5, and all of its revisions of substantives, are not carried over to edition 6, though a minority of the accidentals are. This must mean that the printer of edition 6 worked from a revised copy of edition 4, and not from one of edition 5.
Why, then, it may be asked, are certain of the revisions of accidentals in edition 5 carried over? It is conceivable that the printer of edition 6 had at hand an unrevised copy of edition 5 also, but since edition 6 does not contain the substantive revisions of edition 5, this is most improbable. It is more likely that those revisions of accidentals which are repeated in edition 6 were introduced anew by the printer or the author for the same sort of reasons that had caused them to be inserted in edition 5. We say ‘the printer or the author’ because it is quite likely that some of the changes in accidentals were made by Adam Smith himself. There is at least one instance (the last sentence of I.iii.1) where the substitution of an exclamation mark in edition 5 for a question mark in edition 4 is essential to restore the required sense (editions 1–3 had printed an innocuous full point), but this would not be perceived by a printer, who would not know whether the Duke of Biron’s tears did or did not disgrace his memory. In this instance, the revision is not repeated in edition 6, which reverts to the misleading question mark of edition 4.
Most of the revisions of accidentals which are carried over from edition 5 to edition 6 are in fact of a kind that one could expect to be reintroduced in a later revision of edition 4. There is, however, one place (VII.ii.1.16–18) where, for a few pages, edition 6 follows the accidentals of edition 5, as against those of edition 4, to an extent that suggests more than coincidence. It looks as if the printer were using, at this point, printed copy from pages of edition 5. Significantly, the passage is one (on the Stoics) that has been transposed from Part I, with some cancellation. It seems probable that the particular circumstances of revision of this passage made it necessary for Smith to use a second set of the printed pages, and that he took these from a copy of edition 5.
What of the minor changes of substantives in edition 5, none of which is carried over to edition 6? It cannot be assumed mechanically that changes in substantives are due to the author. Indeed one of those in edition 5 (at VII.iii.3.17) cannot have been made by the author since it is clearly an error, giving a sense opposite to that required. On the other hand, two of the changes in substantives, though of a minor character like the rest, could not possibly have been introduced by the printer. We can therefore be certain that Adam Smith himself made some light revision of edition 4 for the printing of edition 5. He must, however, have forgotten this when he again used a copy of edition 4 in revising for edition 6. This supposition is confirmed by the conclusion already reached, that he was ready to substitute a few pages of edition 5 for those of edition 4 when working out his transposition and partial cancellation of the passage on the Stoics. He must have thought that the two editions were identical.
The hypothesis that Smith had forgotten his light revision for edition 5 is less implausible than it sounds. During these years he was heavily preoccupied with more important matters than imperfections of detail in TMS. Furthermore, we can infer with certainty an analogous lapse of memory. We know that Smith compiled a long list of minor errata (as well as a few major ones) in edition 2; and since ten of his corrections were never introduced into the later editions, we are entitled to conclude that Smith had forgotten all about the list. This is especially clear from the one instance (II.iii.intro.1) where he saw, when revising for edition 6, that a mistake had been made, but corrected it in a different manner.
We have used four copies of edition 6, three from Glasgow University Library and one from the Bodleian. One of the Glasgow copies had pp. 145–58 of Volume I bound up between pp. 128 and 129. This particular copy is not in its original binding, and the error is likely to have occurred when the volume was rebound. Otherwise there is no difference between the four copies, except in details of the gilt design on the covers of those that still have their original binding.
Edition 6 is in two volumes octavo. Volume I has xvi + 488 pages, and contains Parts I–IV of TMS. Volume II has viii + 462 pages; it contains Parts V–VII of TMS, which ends on p. 399, and the Dissertation on Languages, which occupies pp. 401–62. Edition 6 is of course completely reset and is quite different typographically from its predecessors. The actual type is of the same size as that used for editions 2–5, but there is more space between the lines, as there was in edition 1. But since edition 1 also had slightly larger type, edition 6 has the neatest appearance of all and is the easiest to read. There are line spaces between the paragraphs in edition 6, but not in any of the earlier editions. The title–page of each volume of edition 6 follows editions 4 and 5 in its description of the contents, but the author is now called ‘Adam Smith, LL.D. Fellow of the Royal Societies of London and Edinburgh; One of the Commissioners of his Majesty’s Customs in Scotland; and formerly Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Glasgow’. The title–pages also state that edition 6 is ‘with considerable additions and corrections’. The edition was published in 1790 at London and Edinburgh.
Two letters of Adam Smith to Thomas Cadell speak of his work of revising TMS for the enlarged edition. In Letter 276, dated 15 March 1788, he wrote:
. . . I am at present giving the most intense application. My subject is the theory of moral Sentiments, to all parts of which I am making many additions and corrections. The chief and the most important additions will be to the third part, that concerning the sense of Duty and to the last part concerning the History of moral Philosophy. . . . I am a slow a very slow workman, who do and undo everything I write at least half a dozen of times before I can be tolerably pleased with it; and tho’ I have now, I think, brought my work within compass, yet it will be the month of June before I shall be able to send it to you.
In fact the work took even longer than he anticipated, and on 31 March 1789 (Letter 287) he wrote again:
Ever since I wrote to you last I have been labouring very hard in preparing the proposed new edition of the Theory of Moral Sentiments. . . . Besides the Additions and Improvements I mentioned to you; I have inserted, immediately after the fifth part, a compleat new sixth part containing a practical system of Morality, under the title of the Character of Virtue. The Book now will consist of seven Parts and will make two pretty large 8 vo. Volumes. After all my labours, however, I am afraid it will be Midsummer before I can get the whole Manuscript in such proper order as to send it to you. I am very much ashamed of this delay; but the subject has grown upon me.
Smith’s estimate that he would be ready by the summer of 1789 was again over–optimistic. Stewart, V.9, says of the publication of edition 6 in 1790 that the additions had been sent to the press ‘in the beginning of the preceding winter’, presumably about December 1789.
Edition 6 begins with an added Advertisement, which appears to say that the revisions had been contemplated over a long period, and briefly mentions the main changes made. A more detailed account of the major changes is as follows. In the footnote to I.iii.1.9, which had been added in edition 2, edition 6 omits the final sentence. At I.iii.2.9, editions 1–5 began a fresh chapter on the Stoical Philosophy; in edition 6, part of the material is transferred to VII.ii.1.23 and 20, part is withdrawn, and a sentence is added at the beginning of I.iii.2.9 so as to connect the preceding discussion with what follows. I.iii.3 is a new chapter, in which the social advantages of admiration for ‘the rich and the great’ are qualified by its corrupting effect on moral approbation. At the conclusion of II.ii.3.12, a sentence is added to replace a paragraph which had previously followed § 12 and which is now withdrawn; this particular revision, as we have already mentioned in our account of edition 3, was later the subject of controversy; we discuss it in Appendix II, where we also give new information about a manuscript fragment that has been supposed to be connected with Smith’s revision of the passage. At II.iii.3.4–5, one and a half paragraphs are added on the concept of ‘piacular’ guilt, a topic referred to again in new material at VII.iv.30. At III.1.2, the major part of what was Chapter 1 in editions 2–5 (Section i in edition 1) is transferred to become part of Chapter 2, and what was formerly Chapter 2 (Section ii in edition 1) becomes Chapter 1, with a few linking sentences. Most of III.2 is new, but three paragraphs (§§ 4, 5, and the major part of § 9) have been transferred from what was III.1 in editions 2–5; the new material includes a further development of the theory of conscience so as to distinguish the sense of praiseworthiness from the consciousness of being actually praised by others; at the same time some caution is introduced about the reliability and the efficacy of the judgements of conscience in the face of erroneous judgement by the outside world. At III.3, a fresh chapter, with an addition to the beginning of § 1, is begun, taking up material which in editions 2–5 was part of III.2; one and a half paragraphs are added at §§ 5–6; § 10 is new; one and a half paragraphs are withdrawn at § 11; and there is a lengthy addition at §§ 12–45, mainly on self–command, with some further development again of the theory of the impartial spectator and conscience. III.4 is largely a revised version of what was the latter part of III.2 in editions 2–5. The whole of Part VI is new; it deals with certain practical and political applications of moral theory, and especially with the virtues of prudence, benevolence, and self–command (already the subject of new material in III.3), and the vices of pride and vanity. In VII.ii.1, there is rearrangement and development of Smith’s account of Stoicism: at § 17, a passage is withdrawn; at the end of § 18, a sentence is added; after § 19, one paragraph is withdrawn, § 20 has been transferred from Part I, §§ 21–2 are added, and § 23 is another insertion of a passage formerly in Part I; §§ 24–47 are new, dealing mainly with the Stoic view of suicide. Edition 6 then reverts to the text of editions 1–5 at § 48, but adds a short paragraph at § 49. At VII.ii.4, where the earlier editions had linked La Rochefoucauld with Mandeville as the authors of ‘licentious systems’, all references to La Rochefoucauld are withdrawn. In VII.4, a new passage is added at §§ 23–7 and the beginning of § 28, developing Smith’s views on veracity and deceit; a passage that had formed the latter part of § 28 is withdrawn; and three new paragraphs are added at §§ 29–31, again on deceit and with a further reference to ‘piacular’ guilt.
Edition 6 also contains many minor revisions, both of substantives and of accidentals. Some of the changes in accidentals appear to be due to the author himself. Quite frequently, punctuation which has been left unchanged in all the editions from 1 to 5 is revised in edition 6; and while one cannot be certain that this is not the work of the printer, anxious to do his part in producing a highly superior edition, it seems likely that Smith himself will have paid attention to these details, as to others.
We have already given, in our account of edition 5, the evidence for believing that both author and printer used a revised copy of edition 4 in preparing most of the older material for incorporation in edition 6. In matters of spelling and the use of initial capital letters, edition 6 generally follows and takes farther the revisions of edition 4, which had made fairly radical changes from the practice of the earlier editions. There are some exceptions. For example, editions 1–3 tended, though not uniformly, to print the word ‘nature’ with a lower–case initial letter, even when Smith personifies nature, as he frequently does. Edition 4 uses a capital letter for most instances of personification or near–personification. Edition 6 follows edition 4 in the old material, but in the new material it sometimes uses a capital letter, more commonly a lower–case. Another example is the use of a capital initial letter for the word ‘gods’ when referring to pagan deities. Editions 1–3 had done this at times. Edition 4 changed the capital letter to lower–case. Edition 6 prints a capital letter both in old and in new material, but a lower–case initial for the one instance of ‘goddess’. This simply means that the printers were accustomed to use the capital letter for the word ‘God’ and did not stop to distinguish, as the reviser for edition 4 did, between the Christian God and pagan gods.
We have used two copies of edition 7, one from Glasgow University Library, the other from the Bodleian, and have found no differences between them. Edition 7 resembles edition 6 very closely. Like its predecessor, it is in two octavo volumes, the first of xvi + 488 pages, the second of viii + 462 pages. The title–pages follow those of edition 6, except that the words ‘with considerable additions and corrections’ are properly omitted since the revisions are not new in this edition. The Advertisement, however, is repeated without any indication that it was written for edition 6, and in consequence some of its words appear incongruous in 1792, the year in which edition 7 was published at London and Edinburgh.
Edition 7 has the same pagination, and generally the same division of lines, as edition 6. It is not a reprint, but has been set up so as to follow edition 6 line by line, in the same way as editions 3–5 were each set up to follow their predecessors. The tests that establish this for editions 3–5 show it to be true of edition 7 also. Edition 7 corrects a few misprints of edition 6, introduces some new misprints or other errors, and resets a few lines so as to improve spacing. There are some changes in accidentals, chiefly punctuation. For the reasons given at the beginning of this section, it is practically certain that the compositors of edition 7 did not have any author’s corrections of edition 6 to guide them.
An unauthorized edition of TMS was published in Dublin, bearing the date 1777 and calling itself ‘the sixth edition’. The Library of Trinity College, Dublin, possesses a copy (another is in the Goldsmiths’ Library, London) and we have examined a Xerox of it. The Dublin edition seems clearly to have been set up from a copy of edition 4 but it is quite different from editions 3, 4, and 5 in format, pagination, and division of lines. It is a single octavo volume of [viii] + 426 pages. The text of TMS occupies pp. 1–388, and the Dissertation on Languages pp. 389–426. On the titlepage the account of the contents is the same as in editions 4 and 5, but the author is differently described as ‘Adam Smith, L.L.D. F.R.S. Formerly Professor of Philosophy in the University of Glasgow; and Author of the Nature and Cause of the Wealth of Nations’. The date of 1777 is consonant with the mention, albeit incorrect (‘Cause’ instead of ‘Causes’), of the title of WN, which first appeared in 1776 and named its author as ‘Adam Smith, LL.D. and F.R.S. Formerly Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Glasgow’. The text of the Dublin edition departs at times from that of editions 4 and 5 in accidentals. It commonly agrees with edition 4 where that differs from edition 5, so there is little doubt that the Dublin printer followed edition 4 (1774) and not edition 5 (1781), and this again fits the date of 1777. There is no reason to suppose that Adam Smith consented to, or even knew of, the publication of the Dublin edition, and therefore we have ignored it in our collation of variants.
In the preparation of a critical edition of a work from printed books, bibliographical scholars of the present day attach great importance to the principles laid down by Sir Walter Greg in his paper, ‘The Rationale of Copy–Text’, first published in Studies in Bibliography (University of Virginia), vol. iii (1950), and reprinted in W. W. Greg, Collected Papers, edited by J. C. Maxwell (Oxford, 1966). In that paper Greg drew, and explained the importance of, the distinction between the two kinds of variants to be found in the different editions of a book, changes in substantives and changes in accidentals. So long as one is dealing with editions which can be assumed to have received revision by the author, changes in substantives can usually, though not always, be attributed to him, while changes in accidentals (of books printed some considerable time ago) can often, but again certainly not always, be attributed to the printer. Consequently, bibliographical scholars recommend that, in order to elicit a text that gives the nearest possible approach to the author’s intentions, the editor of a critical edition should, in the absence of a manuscript, make the first edition of a work his copy–text; he should then proceed, through each successive edition that appeared during the author’s lifetime, to the first of the posthumous editions, if there are any such, keeping in mind the distinction between substantives and accidentals when introducing revisions. As a general rule, but one to be applied with judgement and discretion, they advise an editor, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to include changes in substantives, provided that such changes make good sense, and to exclude changes in accidentals, on the ground that these were probably due to the printer.
To this general rule there are naturally exceptions. One class of works that cannot easily be subjected to it are those for which an edition later than the first is known to have been extensively and carefully revised by the author. TMS falls into this class. To follow the usual rule for this book would in fact produce a curious patchwork.
There is no doubt that the printers of edition 1 of TMS followed their manuscript copy fairly closely. Edition 1 frequently, though not consistently, uses antique spellings such as ‘compleat’, ‘antient’, ‘chearful’, ‘cloaths’, ‘intire’, and the contractions ‘tho’’ and ‘thro’’, all of which we know were used by Adam Smith or his amanuenses. These older or abbreviated forms were gradually removed in later editions, especially in 4 and 6. We can also be fairly sure that many of the revisions in punctuation were made by the printers, though there is good evidence that some of them were made by the author. While it is a hazardous business to judge which revisions of accidentals are due to the author, and which to the printer, that is insufficient reason for refusing to make the attempt, and it can be done. But the new material added in edition 6 does not go back to the antique spellings; its usage on accidentals is, generally speaking, closely consistent with the usage that edition 6 follows in the older material. It would be quite unwarrantable for an editor to introduce the antique spellings into the new material of edition 6, especially since even edition 1 does not use them consistently, and since there is evidence from certain idiosyncrasies in the new passages that the printers of edition 6 kept reasonably close to their manuscript copy. In the added material, therefore, the accidentals of edition 6 must generally be accepted. But if, at the same time, the accidentals of edition 1 were retained for the older material, the result would be a patchwork text, which would indeed show up immediately some features of the history of the editions, but which would undoubtedly be contrary to the intentions of the author. Adam Smith took great care over the preparation of edition 6, and he would not thank us if we replaced its general appearance of neat consistency by a mixture of ancient and modern forms. In a sense, of course, every revised version of a book is a patchwork in its substantives; but when the author has tried to present it as a seamless fabric, an editor has no business to disclose the seams, in the text itself, by printing the differing accidentals of the original versions of old and new matter.
It follows that the copy–text for TMS must be edition 6 and not edition 1. There is no virtue in making a fetish of retaining the accidentals of the first edition. Mr. J. C. Maxwell has pointed out to us that the main purpose of Greg’s article was not to insist that editors should exclude changes of accidentals and include those of substantives, but to show the need to test the credentials of each change in a substantive before accepting it as due to the author. This of course implies that one should equally not assume without consideration that changes in accidentals are due to the printer or that the accidentals of the first edition are the nearest approach one can make to the work of the author. Sometimes one can be fairly certain that a revision of an accidental was made by the author; we have given examples in 4(a) above (pp. 38, 41). Sometimes one can be even more certain that an inconsistency in the accidentals of a first printed version is not a reflection of the manuscript but simply an indication that different parts of the book were set up by different compositors; in edition 1 of TMS, the first few chapters use the spelling ‘sympathize’, the next few, ‘sympathise’, and the next again go back to ‘sympathize’; similarly, in the new Part VI of edition 6, Chapter 1 of Section ii regularly uses the spelling ‘connection’, while Chapters 2–3 regularly use ‘connexion’. Furthermore, the actual writing of the author on accidentals does not always represent his intentions for the printed text. Edition 1 of TMS very often has the contracted forms ‘tho’’ and ‘thro’’. These are commonly used by Adam Smith in letters written in his own hand, but we cannot assume that he intended this labour–saving device to be reproduced in print. He often used the contracted from ‘&’, but nobody would suppose that he wanted that to be reproduced in the printed versions of his books. So when later editions of TMS replace ‘tho’’ by ‘though’, it is reasonable to think that Smith would have approved. Likewise, if the printer adds a comma where its absence impedes the reader from seeing at once the sense of a passage, one must again suppose that the author would have approved.
The view that all changes in accidentals should normally be rejected assumes that the author will not have had much opportunity or determination to attend to these details in proofs. This is in fact not true of Adam Smith. While he will not have been quite so meticulous as a modern scholar might be, he evidently took particular pains over the correction of proofs. This has already been illustrated in quotations from some of his letters to his publishers, especially Letter 50 addressed to William Strahan, dated 4 April 1760. There is further evidence to the same effect in three of his letters about WN. In Letter 227 addressed to William Strahan, dated 22 May 1783, he wrote: ‘I must correct the press myself and you must, therefor, frank me the sheets as they are printed. I would even rather than not correct it myself come up to London in the beginning of next winter and attend the Press myself.’ Letter 237 addressed to William Strahan, dated 10 June 1784, confirms the impression which can be formed independently, from internal evidence, that Smith gave his personal attention to punctuation: ‘I return you the Proof which, indeed, requires little correction, except in the pointing and not much in that.’ William Strahan died in 1785. The third letter (No. 256) is addressed to his son, Andrew Strahan, and is dated 13 February 1786: ‘I beg you will employ one of your best compositors in printing the new edition of my book. I must, likewise beg that a compleat copy be sent to me before it is published, that I may revise and correct it. You may depend upon my not detaining you above a week.’
We are not suggesting that Smith himself was responsible for most of the changes in accidentals. Plainly he was not. But since he went over his proofs so carefully and was ready to revise even punctuation, we must assume that he was prepared to approve such revisions as he left unaltered. This applies particularly to edition 6, on which he worked so long. If he had wanted to go back, for example, to the antique spellings of editions 1–3, he had the opportunity at this time to do so. Since edition 6 in fact repeats the modernized spellings of edition 4 both in the old and in the new material, and often introduces them in places where edition 4 had omitted to do so, we are bound to suppose that this procedure had Smith’s approval.
If we did revert to the forms of edition 1 on accidentals, it is by no means certain that we should be reproducing what Smith himself had written. Writing in his own hand was very irksome to him, and he was in the habit of employing amanuenses for any extensive piece of work. The manuscript of WN was almost certainly written by an amanuensis, and it will be seen from Appendix II that Smith evidently used an amanuensis for his lectures in Glasgow at quite an early stage of his Professorship. This would suggest that the manuscript of TMS was probably not in the hand of Smith himself. As it happens, edition 1 of WN contains far more antique spellings than does edition 1 of TMS, and would give a quite false impression if taken to illustrate Smith’s own practice. For example, edition 1 of WN usually adds ‘k’ to many words that we now commonly end with ‘c’, such as ‘public’, ‘republic’, ‘mechanic’, ‘Catholic’, ‘physic’, ‘academic’, ‘stoic’, ‘metallic’, ‘authentic’, ‘characteristic’, ‘domestic’, ‘rustic’, ‘politic’. Not many of these words are to be found in letters written in Smith’s own hand, but ‘public’ and ‘mechanic’ do occur and are spelt without a ‘k’. Quite a number of the words listed occur in TMS also, and in edition 1 of that work none of them, except ‘public’ occasionally and ‘republic’ once, is spelt with an added ‘k’. In so far as direct comparison can be made between edition 1 of TMS and Smith’s usage in letters written in his own hand, there is a fair degree of correspondence, and certainly nothing like the extent of discrepancy that exists between the letters and edition 1 of WN. Both the letters and edition 1 of TMS commonly use the forms ‘inconveniency’, ‘cloaths’, ‘antient’, ‘compleat’, ‘chearful’, and ‘chuse’. (The last, which is not universal in the earlier editions, is generally retained in the old material of edition 6 and is quite commonly used in the new material too.) The letters tend to use the contracted forms ‘tho’’ and ‘thro’’, which occur usually, but by no means universally, in edition 1 of the book. On the other side, the letters have ‘Nature’ with a capital initial and ‘public’ without a ‘k’, while edition 1 of TMS prints ‘nature’ almost always and ‘publick’ from time to time. Both the letters and the book are inconsistent in using the two forms ‘entire’ and ‘intire’, but ‘e’ is more common in the letters, while ‘i’ is far more common in edition 1 of the book. In his letters and in inscribing presentation copies of his books, Smith showed a marked preference for the spelling ‘author’, while the book always uses the form ‘author’. The correspondences between the letters and the book are not at all strong evidence that Smith himself wrote the manuscript for edition 1, since these correspondences are equally consistent with the hypothesis that the manuscript of TMS was written by an amanuensis, though not the one who wrote the manuscript of WN. On the other hand, the discrepancies in this instance do not add up to any strong evidence that Smith did not write the manuscript. It remains an open question. Comparison with the letters is inconclusive. The fact that Smith used an amanuensis for his lectures suggests that he is likely to have done so for the book. J. R. McCulloch is reported by Rae (Life, 260–1) to have said that Smith wrote TMS in his own hand, but it seems that McCulloch was going simply on his own impression that the style of the book was less diffuse than that of WN. (This point is further discussed in Appendix II.)
We have, then, taken edition 6 as our copy–text. We have departed from it in a small number of instances. First, we have corrected misprints. Second, we have incorporated those corrections of the Errata lists for editions 1 and 2 which were overlooked. Third, we have included those revisions in edition 5 which can reasonably be attributed to the author and which were forgotten in the preparation of edition 6. Fourth, there are some instances where the reading of an earlier edition is to be preferred on the ground that the later reading is an error that was overlooked. Fifth, there are a few places where we have ourselves introduced an emendation which we believe represents the author’s own intention. With one exception, these emendations are a necessary consequence of nearby revisions that the author himself has made. The exception concerns the words ‘convenience(s)’ and ‘inconvenience(s)’. In editions 1–5, the forms ‘conveniency’, etc., are always used, except for a lapse on a single occasion in edition 4. Edition 6 retains these forms in the old material, apart from one paragraph of Part VII. In its new material it uses the alternative forms ‘convenience’, etc., in Part VI (several instances), but ‘conveniency’, etc., in new passages of III.3 and of VII.ii.1. Now in the case of this particular set of words, we can say with confidence that Smith had an insistent preference for ‘conveniency’ and its cognates. Apart from the fact that he always uses these forms in letters written in his own hand, there is an interesting piece of evidence in the manuscript that W. R. Scott called ‘An early draft of part of The Wealth of Nations’. This manuscript was written by an amanuensis, but some of the revisions, written over original material, are in Adam Smith’s own hand. Scott (ASSP, 325) notes an instance of the word ‘conveniencies’ where the last three letters are in Smith’s hand, and Scott conjectures that the amanuensis may originally have written ‘conveniences’ There is another instance of the word ‘conveniencies’ (331) where the second ‘i’ is due to revision, probably for the same reason. Consequently we have judged that Adam Smith would have wanted the word (and its cognates) to be spelt in this way throughout his book, and that it was probably so spelt in the manuscript of the new material for edition 6. The instances of the alternative spelling in the text of edition 6 were probably due to a particular compositor.
One could argue that our editorial emendation of ‘convenience’ to ‘conveniency’ might have been extended to certain other forms of words for which Smith is known to have had a preference, such as ‘authour’, ‘compleat’, ‘cloaths’, and ‘chearful’. But these words do not stand on all fours with ‘conveniency’ and its cognates, which are the forms regularly used in editions 1–5 and carried over to edition 6 in all instances but one of the old material, as well as being used sometimes in the new material. By contrast, ‘authour’ is never used in any of the editions; ‘compleat’ is generally, though not consistently, used in editions 1–3, but is replaced by ‘complete’ for the major part of edition 4 and throughout edition 6; ‘cloaths’ and its cognates, and likewise ‘chearful’, are regularly used in editions 1–5 but not at all in edition 6.
At any rate we have decided to be fairly conservative in our departures from the text of edition 6. We have given the reader some indication of the changes in accidentals, as between the different editions, that are most important for this purpose, and the apparatus of variants will enable him to go farther if he wishes. The critical apparatus is divided into two sections, one appearing as footnotes to the text, the other forming Appendix I. The character of the two sections needs some explanation.
The variants in the textual footnotes are referred to by alphabetical indicators in the text itself. They consist of two quite distinct groups. (1) Since edition 6 is our copy–text, the reader ought to be told immediately whenever our text departs from that of edition 6. Every such departure is indicated in the text by being enclosed within superscribed letters of the alphabet; the reading of edition 6, and the variants, if any, in other editions, are given in the footnote, together with reasons for the emendation if these are not at once obvious. (2) We have also printed as footnotes, with alphabetical indicators in the text, all variants that disclose a change or addition of thought by the author, as contrasted with revisions of substantives that constitute merely an improvement in the expression of the same thought. (Occasionally there may be difference of opinion whether a revision of words does or does not have a slight effect on the sense conveyed, and in such instances we have thought it best to allow for a possible change of thought and to include the variant in the footnotes to the text pages.) This class of variants is the really important one for most readers. TMS is a book on a philosophical subject, and a proper understanding of it requires an awareness of the respects in which the author’s thought developed. We have therefore thought it right to bring these changes directly to the reader’s attention by the same method of immediate presentation as has been used for emendations.
Other variants that are at all worthy of record have been included in Appendix I. They include both substantives and accidentals. The variants in substantives that appear in Appendix I are those which the author has revised simply in order to improve the expression of his thought, without changing the thought itself. Appendix I also contains the vast majority of variants in accidentals, but not all, since a few changes of accidentals are involved in one or other of the two classes of variants that are printed on the text pages.
One small group of trivial variants has not been recorded, on the ground that they are practically of no significance, except to students of the history of printing, who would in any event want to make their own record of such matters. These are the introduction of a misprint, or the addition or omission of a mark of punctuation, in one intermediate edition only, when the next edition restores the original reading. We have, however, excluded edition 5 from our rule of ignoring such trivia. Because of the unusual relationship of edition 5 to its predecessor and successor, there is some interest in noting all the variants that it affords.
Editions 1–7 all conclude the headings and titles of Parts, Sections, and chapters with full points. There is no reason why a modern edition should reproduce this particular piece of early printing practice, and we have not done so either in the text or in the relevant variants.
In the textual apparatus, the numerals in italic type following an entry stand for the editions containing it, 1E and 2E being used for the Errata lists of editions 1 and 2. The numerals in roman type preceding an entry in Appendix I stand for the page and line in which the passage is located. A caret below the line (⁁) stands for the omission of a mark of punctuation. A wavy dash (∼) stands for a repetition of all the words up to a mark of punctuation or a caret.
The numerals printed in the margin at the beginning of each paragraph are not in the original editions. The practice of numbering the paragraphs within each chapter, or similar segment, will be followed also for WN and EPS in this edition of the Works of Adam Smith, in order that crossreferences may be made from one work to another by means of paragraphs instead of pages, and so without confining the reader to the present edition.
1Since the first publication of the theory of moral sentiments, which was so long ago as the beginning of the year 1759, several corrections, and a good many illustrations of the doctrines contained in it, have occurred to me. But the various occupations in which the different accidents of my life necessarily involved me, have till now prevented me from revising this work with the care and attention which I always intended. The reader will find the principal alterations which I have made in this New Edition, in the last Chapter of the third Section of Part First; and in the four first Chapters of Part Third. Part Sixth, as it stands in this New Edition, is altogether new. In Part Seventh, I have brought together the greater part of the different passages concerning the Stoical Philosophy, which, in the former Editions, had been scattered about in different parts of the work.1 I have likewise endeavoured to explain more fully, and examine more distinctly, some of the doctrines of that famous sect. In the fourth and last Section of the same Part, I have thrown together a few additional observations concerning the duty and principle of veracity. There are, besides, in other parts of the work, a few other alterations and corrections of no great moment.
2In the last paragraph of the first Edition of the present work, I said, that I should in another discourse endeavour to give an account of the general principles of law and government, and of the different revolutions which they had undergone in the different ages and periods of society; not only in what concerns justice, but in what concerns police, revenue, and arms, and whatever else is the object of law. In the Enquiry concerning2the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, I have partly executed this promise; at least so far as concerns police, revenue, and arms. What remains, the theory of jurisprudence, which I have long projected, I have hitherto been hindered from executing, by the same occupations which had till now prevented me from revising the present work. Though my very advanced age leaves me, I acknowledge, very little expectation of ever being able to execute this great work to my own satisfaction; yet, as I have not altogether abandoned the design, and as I wish still to continue under the obligation of doing what I can, I have allowed the paragraph to remain as it was published more than thirty years ago, when I entertained no doubt of being able to execute every thing which it announced.
Of the Propriety of Action