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11.: To JAMES OSWALD - Adam Smith, Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence Vol. 6 Correspondence of Adam Smith 
Correspondence of Adam Smith, ed. E. C. Mossner and I. S. Ross, vol. VI of the Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1987).
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To JAMES OSWALD1
Memorials of . . . James Oswald of Dunnikier, ed. by his grandson (1825) 124; Rae 103–4.
Glasgow, 19 Jan. 1752 N.S.
This will be delivered to you by Mr. William Johnstone,2 son to Sir James Johnstone of Westerhall, a young gentleman whom I have known intimately these four years, and of whose discretion, good temper, sincerity, and honour, I have had, during all that time, frequent proofs. You will find in him too, if you come to know him better, some qualities which, from real and unaffected modesty, he does not at first discover; a refinement and depth of observation, and an accuracy of judgment, joined to a natural delicacy of sentiment, as much improved as study, and the narrow sphere of acquaintance which this country affords, can improve it. He had, first when I knew him, a good deal of vivacity and humour, but he has studied them away. He is an advocate; and, though I am sensible of the folly of prophesying with regard to the future fortune of so young a man, yet I could almost venture to foretell, that, if he lives, he will be eminent in that profession. He has, I think, every quality that ought to forward, and not one that should obstruct his progress, modesy and sincerity excepted, and these, it is to be hoped, experience and a better sense of things may, in part, cure him of. I do not, I assure you, exaggerate knowingly, but could pawn my honour upon the truth of every article. You will find him, I imagine, a young gentleman of solid, substantial (not flashy) abilities and worth. Private business obliges him to spend some time at London. He would beg to be allowed the privilege of waiting on you sometimes, to receive your advice how he may employ his time there in the manner that will tend most to his real and lasting improvement.
I am very sensible how much I presume upon your indulgence, in giving you this trouble; but, as it is to serve and comply with a person for whom I have the most entire friendship, I know you will excuse me, though guilty of an indiscretion; at least, if you do not, you will not judge others as you would desire to be judged yourself; for I am very sure a like motive would carry you to be guilty of a greater.
I would have waited on you when you was last in Scotland, had the College allowed me three days’ vacation; and it gave me real uneasiness that I should be in the same country with you, and not have the pleasure of seeing you. Believe it, no man can more rejoice at your late success,3 or at whatever else tends to your honour and prosperity, than does,
Sir, Your ever obliged, and very humble servant,
[1 ]James Oswald (1715–69) of Dunnikier, Fife; educ. Edinburgh, Lincoln’s Inn, and Leyden; advocate 1738; M.P. 1741–68; Commissioner of the Navy 1745–7; Lord of Trade 1751–9; Lord of Treasury 1759–63; Privy Councillor 1763; Joint Vice–Treasurer of Ireland 1763–7. A fellow–townsman of Smith’s, Oswald was an early and intimate friend of Smith, Henry Home, and David Hume. Horace Walpole reckoned him among the thirty best speakers in the House of Commons, where his knowledge of economic affairs led him to become the principal spokesman for the Board of Trade.
[2 ]William Johnstone (1729–1805) 2nd son of Sir James Johnstone of Westerhall; Bt.; advocate 1751; M.P. for Cromarty 1768–74, and Shrewsbury 1775–1805. He became fabulously wealthy and took the name of Pulteney in 1767, when his wife succeeded to the estates of the Earl of Bath; see Letter 132 addressed to William Pulteney, dated 3 Sept. 1772, for Smith’s testimony to his kindness.
[3 ]Towards the end of 1751 Oswald joined the Pelham Administration.