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117.: From LORD HAILES - 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 LORD HAILES
MS., Newhailes MSS. (1805 copy) No. 432, NLS microfilm; unpubl.
Edinburgh, 6 Mar. 1769
Instead of giving you the trouble of sending a Servant for the papers1 I transmit them to you by the post; they are at your Service absolutely, I have gone little farther than you see, in writing out; the principal materials were in the Records, and I knew I could have them when I pleased; if you have occasion for the materials, on Record, I can assist you. I have looked out for the papers in the Orkney cause2 and I miss many of them, but I can easily get a compleat set for you. There is a Book lately published as to the prices of Corn &c in England since the Conquest,3 but I have not seen it, and indeed I have no time to think of any thing at present but the duty of my profession, if matters go on in the present course the Business of a judge will be very easy, he need not consult the law, nor his Conscience, he will find an infallible Rule in the Enemys of Glass windows, has any man an antipathy of Glass windows then he is in the right.
Seriously this is an unhappy Crisis, incidimus in ea tempora, that a Judge must study Causes under the protection of skrewed Bayonets; this was my case for two nights; and I assure you, that next to Window–breakers they were the most disagreeable attendants that I ever met with. Judges must not only be free, but they must feel themselves free and the whole nation must have the Conviction of their being free—hitherto I imagined that I was answerable for my Conduct to the laws of my Country and to my God, and that I was subject to no other Tribunal—now there is a sovereign Tribunal at every Bonfire.
When the Mob first attacked the President’s house, he went to his Door, and walked before it for a quarter of an hour, till assistance came. I heard this Anecdote from an Eye–witness and I mention it to you as a Confirmation of the opinion which you entertain of his Steadiness.4
An odd accident happened to me in the Outer–House, between nine and ten—while I was sitting and hearing a Cause,5 at once, the whole house broke loose, I asked what was the matter, the answer was ‘they are putting the President out of his Chair’. My judicial Ideas made me forget that the President could have any Chair but that in the Court. I went to Lord Pitfour6 who was at another Bar and said ‘My Lord, they are pulling the President out of his Chair, we must go and share the same fate with him’—he followed me into the Inner–house where there was not a Soul; this still confirmed me in my Error, I imagined that the Court was dispersed—my next thought was to call a Macer, that I might go out in form—and then I found that the Insult had not been committed in Court—the Insult may be palliated, but I have no doubt the Mob went the length of crying ‘pull him down’, and entre nous, they certainly cryed out at his Backwindows the night before, ‘Porteus him’.7
At present all is quiet, but while we are ruled by an unthinking and unthinkable Multitude, we hold our Security by a precarious tenure. Mean time
I am Dear Sir with great Esteem Your most obedient and obliged humble Servant
Prices of Corn, Cattle &c in Scotland from the earliest accounts to the death of James V.8
[1 ]Printed at the end of this letter.
[2 ]Not identified. Orkney had a distinctive legal system, based on that of Norway, in force until the formal introduction of Scots law in the seventeenth century. Information about that system (Udal law) was presented in James Mackenzie, Writer, The General Grievances and Oppression of the Isles Orkney and Shetland (1750). This book was prompted by the ‘Pundlar process’ about weights and measures, a ‘pundlar’ being the Orkney and Shetland word for a steelyard or Danish balance with movable fulcrum.
[3 ]Not traced.
[4 ]The popular exuberance took place on the nights of 2 and 3 March following the arrival of Ilay Campbell in Edinburgh with the news that the House of Lords had reversed the decision of the Court of Session in the Douglas Cause. As the stones shattered the windows of the Lord President on 2 March, Boswell is said to have remarked that ‘other honest fellows were giving their casting votes in their turn’ (F. A. Pottle, James Boswell: The Earlier Years, New York, 1966, 299). The Lord Justice–Clerk appealed to the Commander–in–Chief for Scotland on 3 March, and a detachment of dragoons was sent to maintain order in the city.
[5 ]The Court of Session transacted its business in two divisions: the Outer and Inner House. Since 1642 it had met in the Parliament House, to the south of the High Kirk of St. Giles. The Parliament Hall was the court–room of Outer House, and there each week in his turn a Lord Ordinary sat as a judge of first instance, occupying the sovereign’s throne. Appeals were made to the Inner House, where the ‘haill fifteen’ with the Lord President in the chair, or a quorum of at least nine of them, reviewed the judgements of the Ordinaries.
[6 ]James Ferguson of Pitfour, also hearing causes as a Lord Ordinary on this occasion, was connected on his wife’s side with the Douglas family, which was thought to influence his verdict as a judge in the Douglas Cause (Ramsay of Ochtertyre, i. 155, n. 1).
[7 ]At the hanging of a smuggler on 14 April 1736, John Porteous, Captain of the City Guard of Edinburgh, ordered his men to fire on the crowd and discharged a weapon himself. He was tried and sentenced to death, then reprieved by Queen Caroline. On 7 September, the day before Porteous was originally sentenced to hang, a disciplined crowd took the law into its own hands and hanged him in the Grass Market. See Walter Scott’s Heart of Midlothian and William Roughead’s The Trial of Captain Porteous (Edinburgh, 1909).
[8 ]Reproduced here is the 1805 copy of the MS. sent to Smith. Ampersands have been expanded, but other contractions and the copyist’s peculiarities left.