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24.: To [LORD MILTON] - 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 [LORD MILTON]1
MS., NLS SB 88 (1757); unpubl.
Glasgow, Oct. 1757
Tho’ I have not the honour to be known to your Lordship, I am obliged to take the Liberty to write to you at the very earnest desire of my friend Mr. Wilkie.2 As soon as we received your Lordships Letter I carried it to Mr. Clow3 who assured me that he was yet entirely disengaged, expressed the highest opinion of Mr. Wilkie and desired to be made acquainted with him, but seemed to regard your Letter rather as a permission to go on to make friends to Mr. Wilkie than a direct recommendation. Mr. Leechman to whom I showd it immediately after, assured me that he should be extremely sorry if he was obliged to prefer Mr. Buchanan4 to Mr. Wilkie, that one was much more conspicuous than the other, but that however he could in the mean time give the new proposal no direct encouragement, that My Lord Buchan5 had two letters from him in which he had expressed himselfe in favour of Mr. Buchanan, But that in these letters he had made his promise rowl entirely upon the Duke of Argylls recommending him. He seemed heartily to wish however that our scheme might succeed and that his Grace would provide for Mr. Buchanan in some other way. Mr. Anderson6 assured me that he would give a considerable sum of money that Mr. Wilkie should succeed, but that he had promised the rector7 to vote for Mr. Buchanan in the second Place upon the Rectors agreeing to vote for him in the first. Mr. Lindsey8 expressed the highest regard for Mr. Wilkie, approved of the scheme of his friends, but was hindered from doing any thing to forward it by an old personal friendship with Mr. Buchanan. Mr. Simson I have not spoke to myselfe but hear from Dr. Black9 that he thinks himselfe not absolutely engaged to Mr. Buchanan. These with the four who recommended Mr. Wilkie to your Lordship are all the members of our society at present in Scotland. Six of them make a majority. If his Grace could be induced to recommend it himselfe either to Mr. Clow or to Mr. Simson or what would be still better, to both, I am persuaded it would succeed very easily. Mr. Clow will, I imagine, regard the Distinction as a very great honour and will exert himselfe to the utmost to second his Graces recommendation. As soon as a majority goes into it, I am sure that the whole society will declare their approbation of it and rejoice at its success. I cannot express to your Lordship how much the Public, both here and at Edinburgh, is interested in Mr. Wilkies success. Your Lordship, I hope, will have the thanks of the whole country in general, and of our society in Particular for your generous patronage of a man whom we regard as undoubtedly the first Poet as well as one of the most eminent Philosophers of the Present age. If his Grace should decline writing himselfe, a letter from your Lordship in his name to the two Gentlemen I mentioned above and to any others you thought proper, would I am persuaded be sufficient. The other however would still be surer. Whatever it may appear proper to do in this affair I begg it may be done soon for the sake of the whole society that all appearance of Discord may be at an end among us, of which at least some of us are very heartily tired. I can make no other apology for troubling your Lordship with so long a letter but that it is to serve a man for whom you have expressed some esteem, and who has the utmost gratitude for the Protection you have already afforded him, as well as the highest admiration for your character in respect. I am with the greatest respect
Your Lordships most Obedient and most humble Servant
I had forgot Mr. Hamilton.10 I do not know his inclinations. Mr. Wilkie is an excellent Hebreist.
Docketed: Professor Adam Smith, Glasgow, Oct. 1757.
[1 ]The subject of academic patronage and allusions to the Duke of Argyll suggest that this letter was addressed to Andrew Fletcher (1692–1766) Lord Milton, nephew of Fletcher of Saltoun; judge and politician; Lord Justice–Clerk 1735–48; Keeper of the Signet 1746; chief associate of the 3rd Duke of Argyll in the management of Scotland.
[2 ]William Wilkie (1721–72), the ‘Scottish Homer’; poet, clergyman, and professor; educ. Edinburgh University; published The Epigoniad (1757) based on Iliad iv; Professor of Natural Philosophy, St. Andrews, 1759. See Mossner, The Forgotten Hume, (New York, 1943), ch. 4.
[3 ]James Clow, Smith’s successor as Professor of Logic at Glasgow.
[4 ]In the event, James Buchanan was elected Professor of Oriental Languages 1757.
[5 ]Henry David Erskine (1710–67) 10th Earl of Buchan, fa. of David Stewart Erskine (1742–1829), 11th Earl, dilettante, former student of Smith.
[6 ]John Anderson, Professor of Natural Philosophy.
[7 ]Patrick Boyle (d. 1761), Lord Shewalton, son of the 1st Earl of Glasgow; advocate 1712; Lord of Session 1746.
[8 ]Hercules Lindesay, Professor of Civil Law.
[9 ]Joseph Black (1728–99), Professor of Medicine. He had embarked by 1756 on his fundamental research into latent heat which laid the foundations of thermal science and stimulated Watt’s improvements in the steam engine. From 1766 to 1797 Black taught Medicine and Chemistry at Edinburgh. Smith ‘never knew a man with less nonsense in him’ (Rae 336) and called on him to be his literary executor.
[10 ]Thomas Hamilton, Professor of Medicine.