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40.: To [GILBERT ELLIOT] - 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 [GILBERT ELLIOT]
MS., NLS Minto Collection; unpubl.
Glasgow, 10 Oct. 1759
I know not what apology to make for having so long delayed to write to you. I thought myselfe infinitely obliged to you for the objection which you made to a Part of my system,1 and immediately began to write a philosophical letter to you to show that the consequence which you seemed to fear would follow from it, had no necessary connection with it. Upon second thoughts, however, I thought it would be better to alter the 2d Section of the 3d part of my book2 so as to obviate that objection and to send you this alteration. This cost me more time and thought than you could well imagine the composition of three sheets of Paper would stand me; for nothing is more difficult than to insert something into the middle of what is already composed and to connect it cleverly at both ends. Before you read it I will begg of you to read over the first paragraphs of the second Section of the third part, then pass over the three next paragraphs, and read the sixth and seventh till you come to the paragraph at the bottom of page 260 which begins with the word, Unfortunately; instead of that paragraph insert the second of those additions which you will receive by this Post under another cover. I will be greatly obliged to you if you will send me your opinion of it. You will observe that it is intended both to confirm my Doctrine that our judgements concerning our own conduct have always a reference to the sentiments of some other being, and to shew that, notwithstanding this, real magnanimity and conscious virtue can support itselfe under the disapprobation of all mankind. I should be glad to know how far you think I have made out both; if you do not think it quite satisfactory I can make it still a great deal plainer, by a great number of new illustrations. I would likewise beg of you to read what I say upon Mandevilles system and then consider whether upon the whole I do not make Virtue sufficiently independent of popular opinion.
I think, I have made it sufficiently plain that our judgements concerning the conduct of others are founded in Sympathy. But it would seem very odd if we judged of our own conduct by one principle and of that of other men by another.
You will find too in the Papers I have sent you an answer to an objection of D. Humes.3 I think I have entirely discomfitted him.
I am now about publishing a new edition of my Book4 and would be greatly obliged to you for any criticisms you could make upon it. If you see Colonel Clerk I should be glad to know his opinion and would wish you to communicate the papers I have sent you to him.5 I am fully sensible how much trouble I am giving you by all this. I know, however, your friendship will excuse it.
Boscawens Victory gave everybody here the greatest satisfaction.6 We look upon it as a preventative of the threatened invasion, about the event of which few people seem very anxious. I thought myself equally honoured and obliged by the letter you was so good as to write to me upon it.7
The only news here relates to elections. Mr. Crawfurd has lost the town of Air. Sir Adam Ferguson and Lord Loudoun have got the better of him there. Your friend Mr. Muir of Caldwell is in some danger from Mr. Cunningham of Craigen[d]s. The head court of the Shire was held yesterday in which everything was carried for Mr. Muir, and all the new votes, that were made to oppose him, rejected. The decision of that affair will depend, I hear, on the Duke of Argylle.8 I ever am Dear Sir
Your most obliged and most obedient humble Servt
[MS. Draft Amendments for Edition 2 of TMS, 1761]9
Page 99. Line 12.10 After the following Sentence: But it is painful to go along with grief, and we always enter into it with reluctance:
Make a reference and insert the following note at the bottom of the page.
It has been objected to me that as I found the Sentiment of Approbation, which is always agreable, upon Sympathy, it is inconsistent with my System to allow of any disagreeable Sympathy. I answer that in the sentiment of approbation, there are two things to be taken notice of; first, the Sympathetic passion of the Spectator; and, secondly, the emotion which arises from his observing the perfect coincidence between this sympathetic passion in himself and the original passion in the person principally concerned. This last emotion, in which the Sentiment of approbation properly Consists, is always agreable and delightful. The other may either be agreable or disagreable, according to the nature of the original passion, whose features it must always, in some measure, retain. Two Sounds, I suppose, may, each of them taken singly, be austere, and yet, if they are perfect concords, the perception of this harmony and coincidence may be agreable.
Instead of the erased passage in this and the following page insert what follows into the Text.
When I endeavour to examine my own conduct, when I endeavour to pass sentence upon it and either to approve or condemn it, it is evident that, in all such cases, I divide myself, as it were, into two persons, and that I, the examiner and Judge, represent a different character from that other I, the person whose conduct is examined into and judged of. The first is the Spectator whose sentiments with regard to my own conduct I endeavour to enter into, by placing myself in his Situation, and by considering how it would appear to me when seen from that particular point of view. The second is the Agent, the person whom I properly call myself, and of whose conduct, under the Character of a Spectator, I was endeavouring to form some oppinion. The first is the Judge; the Second, the pannel. But that the Judge should, in every respect, be the same with the pannel, is as impossible, as that the cause should, in every respect, be the same with the effect.
To be amiable and to be meritorious, that is, to deserve Love and to deserve reward, are the great Characters of virtue, and to be odious and punishable, of vice. But all these characters have an immediate reference to the sentiments of others. Virtue is not said to be amiable or to be meritorious, because it is the object of its own Love or of its own gratitude; but because it excites those sentiments in other men. The consciousness that it is the object of such favourable regards is the source of that inward tranquillity and self satisfaction with which it is naturally attended, as the Suspicion of the contrary gives occasion to the torments of vice. What so great happiness as to be beloved, and to know that we deserve to be beloved? What so great misery as to be hated, and to know that we deserve to be hated?
Man is considered as a moral, because he is regarded as an accountable being. But an Accountable being, as the word expresses, is a being that must give an Account of its actions to some other, and that, consequently, must regulate them according to the good liking of this other. Man is accountable to God and his fellow creatures. But tho’ he is, no doubt, principally accountable to God, in the order of time, he must necessarily conceive himself as accountable to his fellow creatures, before he can form any idea of the Deity, or of the rules by which that Divine Being will judge of his conduct. A Child, surely, conceives itself as accountable to its parents, and is elevated or cast down by the thought of their merited approbation or disapprobation, long before it forms any idea of its Accountableness to the Deity, or of the rules by which that Divine being will judge of its conduct.
The Great Judge of the World, has, for the wisest reasons, thought proper to interpose, between the weak eye of human reason and the throne of his eternal justice, a degree of obscurity and darkness which, tho it does not entirely cover that great tribunal from the view of mankind, yet renders the impression of it faint and feeble in comparison of what might be expected from the grandeur and importance of so mighty an object. If those infinite rewards and punishments, which the almighty has prepared for those who obey or transgress his will, were perceived as distinctly as we foresee the frivolous and temporary retaliations which we may expect from one another, the weakness of human nature, astonished at the immensity of objects so little fitted to its comprehension, could no longer attend to the little affairs of this world; and it is absolutely impossible that the business of society could have been carried on, if, in this respect, there had been a fuller revelation of the intentions of providence than that which has already been made. That men, however, might never be without a rule to direct their conduct by, nor without a judge whose authority should enforce its observation, the author of nature has made man the immediate judge of mankind, and has, in this respect, as in many others, created him after his own image, and appointed him his vicegerent upon earth to Superintend the behaviour of his brethren. They are taught by Nature to acknowledge that power and jurisdiction which has thus been confered upon him, and to tremble or exult according as they imagine that they have either merited his Censure or deserved his Applause.
But whatever may be the authority of this inferior tribunal, which is continually before their eyes, if at any time it should decide contrary to these rules and principles which nature has established for regulating its Judgements, men appeal from this unjust decision, and call upon a Superior tribunal established in their own minds, to redress the unjustice of this weak or partial judgement.
There are certain principles established by nature for governing our judgements concerning the conduct of those we live with. As long as we decide according to those principles, and neither applaud nor condemn any thing which nature has not rendered the proper object of Applause or condemnation, nor any further than she has rendered them such, the person, concerning whom we form these Judgements must himself necessarily approve of them. When he puts himself into our situation, he cannot avoid entering into those views of his own conduct which, he feels, must naturally occur to us, and he is obliged to Consider it himself in the very same light in which we represent it. Our sentiments, therefore, must necessarily produce their full effect upon him, and he cannot faill to conceive all the triumph of self approbation from what appears to him such merited applause, as well as all the horrors of Shame from what, he is sensible, is such deserved condemnation. But it is otherwise if we have either applauded or condemned him, contrary to those principles and rules which nature has established for the direction of our judgements concerning every thing of this kind. If we have either applauded or Condemned him for what, when he puts himself in our Situation, does not appear to him to be the object either of applause or Condemnation; as, in this case, he cannot enter into our Sentiments, if he has any constancy or firmness, he is little affected by them, and can neither be elevated by the favourable nor mortified by the unfavourable decision. The applause of the whole world will avail but little if our own conscience condemns us; and the disapprobation of all mankind is not capable of oppressing us when we are absolved by the tribunal within our own breast, and when our own mind tells us that mankind are in the wrong.
But tho this tribunal within the breast be thus the supreme arbiter of all our actions, tho’ it can reverse the decisions of all mankind with regard to our character and Conduct, tho it can mortify us amidst the Applauses and Support us under the Censure of the world, yet if we enquire into the origin of its institution, its jurisdiction, we shall find, is in a great measure derived from the authority of that very tribunal, whose decisions it so often and so justly reverses. When we first come into the world, being desireous to please those we live with, we are accustomed to Consider what behaviour is likely to be agreeable to every person we converse with, to our parents, to our masters, to our companions. We address ourselves to individuals, and for some time fondly pursue the impossible and absurd project of rendering ourselves universally agreable, and of gaining the good will and approbation of every body. We soon Learn, however, from experience, that this universal approbation is altogether unattainable. As soon as we come to have more important interests to manage, we find, that by pleasing one man we almost certainly disoblige another, and that by humouring an individual, we may often irritate a whole people. The fairest and most equitable conduct must frequently obstruct the interests or thwart the inclinations of particular persons, who will seldome have candour eneough to enter into the propriety of our motives, or to see that our conduct, how disagreable soever to them, is perfectly suitable to our situation. We soon learn, therefore, to sett up in our own minds a judge between ourselves and those we live with. We Conceive ourselves as acting in the presence of a person quite candid and equitable, of one who has no particular relation, either to ourselves, or to those whose interests are affected by our conduct; who is neither father, nor Brother, nor friend, either to them, or to us; but is meerly a man in general, an impartial Spectator who considers our conduct with the same indifference with which we regard that of other people. If when we place ourselves in the Situation of such a person, our own actions appear to us under an agreable aspect, if we feel that such a Spectator cannot avoid entering into all the motives which influenced us, whatever may be the judgements of the world, we cannot help being pleased with our own behaviour, and regarding ourselves, in spite of the Censure of our companions, as the just and proper objects of approbation. On the contrary, if the man within condemns us, the loudest acclamations of mankind appear but as the noise of ignorance and folly, and whenever we assume the Character of this impartial judge, we cannot avoid viewing our own actions with his distaste and dissatisfaction. The weak, the vain and the frivolous, indeed, may be mortified by the most groundless Censure or elated by the most absurd applause. Such persons are not accustomed to consult the judge within concerning the oppinion which they ought to form of their own conduct. This inmate of the breast, this abstract man, the representative of mankind and Substitute of the Deity, whom nature has appointed the Supreme arbiter of all their actions is seldome appealed to by them. They are contented with the decision of the inferior tribunal. The approbation of their companions, of the particular persons whom they have lived and conversed with, has generally been the ultimate object of all their wishes. If they Succeed in this their Joy is compleat; and if they faill they are entirely disappointed. They never think of appealing to the Superior court. They have Seldome enquired after its decisions and are altogether unacquainted with the rules and forms of its procedure. When the world injures them, therefore, they are incapable of doing themselves Justice and are in consequence necessarily the Slaves of the world. But it is otherwise with the man who has, upon all occasions, been accustomed to have recourse to the judge within and to consider, not what the world approves or disapproves of, but what appears to this impartial Spectator the natural and proper object of approbation and disapprobation. The judgement of this supreme arbiter of his conduct is the applause which he has been accustomed principally to court, is the Censure which he has been accustomed principally to fear. Compared with this final decision, the sentiments of all mankind, tho’ not altogether indifferent, appear to be but of small moment; and he is incapable of being either much elivated by their favourable, or greatly depressed by their most disadvantageous Judgement.
It is only by consulting this judge within that we can see whatever relates to ourselves in its proper shape and dimensions, or that we can make any proper comparison between our own interests and those of other men.
As to the eye of the body objects appear great or small, not so much according to their real dimensions, as according to the nearness or distance of their situation; so do they likewise to, what may be called, the natural eye of the mind: and we remedy the defects of both these organs pretty much in the same manner. In my present situation an immense landscape of Lawns and woods and distant mountains, seems to do no more than cover the little window which I write by, and to be out of all proportion less than the chamber in which I am sitting. I can form a just comparison between those great objects and the little objects around me, in no other way, than by transporting myself, at least in fancy, to a different station, from whence I can survey both at nearly equal distances, and thereby form some judgement of their real proportions. Habit and experience have taught me to do this so easily and so readily, that I am scarce sensible that I do it; and a man must be, in some measure, acquainted with the philosophy of vision, before he can be thoroughly convinced, how little those distant objects would appear to the eye, if the imagination, from a knowledge of their real magnitudes, did not swell and dilate them.
In the same manner to the selfish and original passions of human nature, the loss or gain of a very small interest of our own, appears to be of vastly more importance, excites a much more passionate joy or sorrow, a much more ardent desire or aversion, than the greatest concern of another with whom we have no particular connection. His interests as long as they are surveyed from this station, can never be put into the ballance with our own, can never restrain us from doing whatever may tend to promote our own, how ruinous soever to him. Before we can make any proper comparison of those opposite interests we must change our position. We must view them, neither from our own place, nor yet from his, neither with our own eyes nor yet with his, but from the place and with the eyes of a third person, who has no particular connection with either and who judges with impartiality between us. This is the only station from which both can be seen at equal distances, or from which any proper comparison can be made between them. Here too habit and experience have taught us to assume this station so easily and so readily that we are scarce sensible that we assume it; and it requires, in this case too, some degree of reflection and even of philosophy to convince us, how little interest we should take in the greatest concerns of our neighbour, how little we should be affected by whatever relates to him, if the sense of propriety and justice did not correct the other wise natural inequality of our sentiments. It is from this station only that we can see the propriety of generosity and the deformity of injustice; the propriety of resigning the greatest interests of our own for the yet more important interests of others, and the deformity of doing the smallest injury to another in order to obtain the greatest benefite to ourselves. The real littleness of ourselves and of whatever relates to ourselves can be seen from this Station only; and it is here only that we can learn the great lesson of Stoical magnanimity and firmness, to be no more affected by what befalls ourselves than by what befalls our neighbour, or, what comes to the same thing, than our neighbour is capable of being affected by what befalls us. ‘When our neighbour, says Epictetus, loses his wife or his son, there is nobody who is not sensible that this is a human calamity, a natural event altogether according to the ordinary course of things. But, when the same thing happens to ourselves, then we cry out, as if we had suffered the most dreadful misfortune. We ought, however, to remember how we were affected when this accident happened to another, and such as we were in his case such ought we to be in our own.’
It is not upon all occasions, however, that we are capable of judging with this perfect impartiality between ourselves and others. Even the judge within is often in danger of being corrupted by the violence and injustice of our selfish passions, and is often induced to make a report very different from what the real circumstances of the case are capable of authorizing.
There are two different occasions upon which we examine our conduct, and endeavour to view it in the light in which the impartial spectator would view it. First, when we are about to act; and secondly &c. continue as in page 261.
[1 ]Elliot had philosophical interests, e.g. Hume assigned him in 1751 the task of strengthening the part of Cleanthes, the empirical theist, in Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (HL i. 150–8). Professor David Raphael communicates the following note: ‘From the evidence of this letter and its enclosure, we can infer the general drift of Elliot’s objection: if moral judgement on our own actions were a reflection of the approval and disapproval of society, then it would be impossible for a man to form a moral judgement which he knows is contrary to popular opinion. The second and longer of the amendments which Smith enclosed with this letter answers the objection by developing Smith’s theory of the impartial spectator.’
[2 ]TMS ed. 1, April 1759: Part III, Section ii, of that edition is entitled ‘In what manner our own judgments refer to what ought to be the judgment of others: And of the origin of general rules’.
[3 ]See Letter 36 from Hume, dated 28 July 1759: ‘I wish you had more particularly and fully prov’d, that all kinds of Sympathy are necessarily Agreeable.’ For Smith’s answer, see the TMS note for insertion below (Glasgow TMS, I.iii.1.9).
[4 ]TMS ed. 2, in print by 30 Dec. 1760: see Letter 54 addressed to Strahan on that date. The ed. is dated 1761.
[5 ]Robert Clerk (?1724–97), educ. Edinburgh University, c. 1737–40; entered army, Col. 1762, Maj. Gen. 1772, Lt. Gen. 1793. He became a protégé of Lord Shelburne: Carlyle of Inveresk (473) called him ‘truly the greatest siccatore in the world’; and Hume, ‘that Meteor’ (NHL 87). Adam Ferguson represented Clerk as opposed to Smith’s doctrine of sympathy: see Journal of the History of Ideas xxi (1960) 222–32.
[6 ]In 1758–9 the French collected troops and flat–bottomed boats for an invasion of Britain. When de la Clue ventured out of Toulon with his fleet he was caught off Lagos and defeated on 18 August 1759 by Admiral Hon. Edward Boscawen (1711–61), known as Wry–necked Dick or Old Dreadnought to his sailors. In November Conflans was defeated by Hawke at Quiberon Bay, which finally ended the invasion threat.
[7 ]Not traced: perhaps the letter in which Elliot advanced his ‘objection’ to TMS: dated, very likely, early in September, as it would take two to three weeks for news of Boscawen’s victory to reach London.
[8 ]Parliamentary affairs at this date in some areas of Scotland were at a critical phase. Management had been firmly in the hands of the 3rd Duke of Argyll, to whom Elliot owed his seat in Selkirkshire, but Elliot also had links with Bute whose star was rising in view of his influence over the Prince of Wales and the imminence of George II’s death. The manager of Bute’s affairs in Scotland was William Mure of Caldwell (1718–76), M.P. for Renfrewshire 1742–61. In 1759 Mure supported as candidate for Ayr burghs, Patrick Craufurd of Auchenames (c. 1704–78), thus opposing the wishes of Argyll and John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun (1705–82), who had been superseded the year before as Commander–in–Chief in America. In consequence, Mure was opposed in Renfrewshire by the Earl of Glencairn, who supported as candidate William Cuninghame of Craigends, son of a former Member. At the Michaelmas head court—when the list of voters for Renfrewshire was established on the basis of property ownership—the roll stood as follows: 13 freeholders for Mure; 6 for Cuninghame; and 7 neutral, waiting for Argyll’s instructions. Mure wrote to Bute on 16 Oct.: ‘I had the good fortune to out–number my opponents by more than two to one, so we kept off the roll the whole of Glencairn’s new creations and are preparing to stand a law suit in defence of our proceedings’ (Bute MSS., HP i. 493). In 1760 Argyll backed Mure, then a place was found for him as a Baron of the Exchequer Court of Scotland, and Craufurd was forced on the county. In Ayr in 1759 Argyll supported Sir Adam Fergusson (1733–1812), son of Lord Kilkerran, but when Bute came to power in 1760, Argyll compromised with him and sought to get Fergusson to withdraw. The Ayr council were angered by the Argyll–Bute deal and refused to replace Fergusson, but in 1761 the election went to Alexander Wedderburn, a supporter of Bute.
[9 ]The draft amendments are in the hand of the amanuensis who produced the MS. of the ‘Early Draft of the Wealth of Nations’ (Scott 386–7). The same hand is found in GUL University Records, vol. 30, pp. 166–84, Minutes of University Meeting of 13 Aug. 1762, ‘Report of the Committee on the Rector’s and Principal’s Powers’ (see Scott 203–5, for the text). The document accompanying the letter of 10 Oct. 1759 is presumably a copy of a draft prepared for the printer. The text of this was subsequently altered before publication; see notes 2 and 3. The draft amendments are written on three double folio sheets, the kind Smith customarily used. The water–mark is the same as that of the fragment on Justice (GUL, MS., Gen. 1035/227).
[10 ]The first draft amendment relates to a paragraph which in edition 1 was Part 1, Section iv, Chapter 1, § 9. In ed. 2 this became Part I, Section iii, Chapter 1, § 9, and that is how it remained in ed. 6 (Glasgow edn., I.iii.1.9). In ed. 2 the footnote was added pretty well as in the draft amendment, but with slight revision. The final sentence of the note was deleted in ed. 6, 1790.