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15.: From ALEXANDER WEDDERBURN - 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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From ALEXANDER WEDDERBURN1
MS., GUL Gen. 1035/135; Scott 233–5.
Balliol College, Oxford, 20 Mar. 2
I should endeavour to make my way to you by an Apology for not having wrote during so long a period as we have been absent from each other, were I not perfectly satisfied That It must be unnecessary. Though I have not heard once from you since we parted, I make very little Doubt that I have been frequently in your Thoughts. I judge so, because amidst all the variety of Objects which have since I may rather say distracted than interested me I have always in my Best Hours of Reflexion, had my Thoughts turned towards you. If you judge by the same Rule, you will not infer from my Silence either Neglect or Forgetfulness; you may very possibly conclude That I have been Giddy, Idle and dissipated and I am afraid with great Truth. The only Merit I can pretend is the being sensible of my Follies, even whilst I was most engaged in them and The having at length made my Escape from Them. You have inquired I dare say sometimes, about me and have very likely been Told, that I was perfectly Idle and followed nothing but pleasure. I have not studied enough to be able to contradict This intirely but I have paid some Attention to the Courts of Law here and have even read a little of My Lord Coke.3 My acquaintance at London was grown so large and was so much more Engaging than my Business That I could not well carry on both in the same place. I have had Resolution enough to leave Town and am now at your Old habitation Oxford where the Acquaintances I have found are so totally different from those I have left that my Studies run no risk of being much interrupted. It has occurred to me since I came here That on the plan I should wish to pursue, I could make one of the Scotch Exhibitions very serviceable to me. I make no Ceremony in mentioning it To you nor no preamble but That I believe it would be an Advantage to me and That you would be of the same opinion If I had time to lay all the Circumstances before you. One of Them Dr Smith’s4 must be vacant, soon in course there is another which will in all probability be vacant as the Gentleman5 is Thought to be in the utmost Hazard, I am sufficiently qualified by my Standing and should have some Friends at Glasgow. Do you Think I should have any Difficulty in getting The Nomination? It is a Thing I would rather wish to be offered than to ask and that at any rate I would not seem to take too much pains upon nor ask with the least chance of a Disappointment. I have not mentioned this to any one but yourself, nor shall I till I hear from you. If It is necessary to prevent a preengagement to take any Step in it, you can best judge; only I should wish to be as little mentioned in it as possible and especially while my Father6 is not acquainted with my Intentions. I know you don’t love College Business but This I hope can scarcely be an Affair of any Trouble. Believe me My Dear Smith with the same Affection as ever Your Sincere Friend
Shall I hear from you soon.
[1 ]Alexander Wedderburn (1733–1805) lawyer and politician; advocate 1754; Inner Temple 1753; called to the English Bar 1757, after a quarrel with Lord President Craigie in the Court of Session; M.P. 1761–80; Solicitor–Gen. 1771–8; Attorney–Gen. 1778–80; Privy Councillor 1780; Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas 1780–93; cr. Baron Loughborough 1780; Lord Chancellor 1783–1801; cr. Earl of Rosslyn 1801. Wedderburn was loyal to his friends among the Scottish literati, for example, Hume and Smith, but as a rising politician was not overscrupulous in changing alliances. He vehemently supported the British Government’s position against that of the American colonists, but grew increasingly critical of North’s conduct of the American war. He then briefly joined Fox, and finally received the Great Seal from Pitt. On being informed of his death, George III is alleged to have said: ‘Then he has not left a greater knave behind him in my dominions’ (John, Lord Campbell, Lives of the Chancellors (1868), viii. 203).
[2 ]The conjectured date fits the facts concerning tenure of a Snell Exhibition (Scott 233).
[3 ]Sir Edward Coke (1552–1634) Lord Chief Justice: Institutes of the Laws of England (1628–44)—the first part is known as Coke upon Littleton, i.e. a commentary on Sir Thomas Littleton’s treatise on tenures, the principal authority on English real property law.
[4 ]John Smith (fl. 1766) educ. Glasgow and Balliol; M.A. 1751; D.Med. 1757; vacated Snell Exhibition 1755; elected Savilian Professor of Geometry, Oxford 1766.
[5 ]Not identified.
[6 ]Peter Wedderburn (d. 1756) advocate 1715; Assessor of the City of Edinburgh; Secretary to the Court of Excise; Lord of Session, as Lord Chesterhall 1755.