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150.: From DAVID HUME - 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 DAVID HUME
MS., RSE ii. 56; HL ii. 311–12.
Edinburgh, 1 Apr. 1776
Euge!1 Belle! Dear Mr Smith: I am much pleas’d with your Performance, and the Perusal of it has taken me from a State of great Anxiety. It was a Work of so much Expectation, by yourself, by your Friends, and by the Public, that I trembled for its Appearance; but am now much relieved. Not but that the Reading of it necessarily requires so much Attention, and the Public is disposed to give so little, that I shall still doubt for some time of its being at first very popular:2 But it has Depth and Solidity and Acuteness, and is so much illustrated by curious Facts, that it must at last take the public Attention. It is probably much improved by your last Abode in London. If you were here at my Fireside, I shoud dispute some of your Principles. I cannot think, that the Rent of Farms makes any part of the Price of the Produce, but that the Price is determined altogether by the Quantity and the Demand.3 It appears to me impossible, that the King of France can take a Seigniorage of 8 per cent upon the Coinage. No body would bring Bullion to the mint:4 It woud be all sent to Holland or England, where it might be coined and sent back to France for less than two per cent. Accordingly Neckre5 says, that the French King takes only two per cent of Seigniorage. But these and a hundred other Points are fit only to be discussed in Conversation; which, till you tell me the contrary, I shall still flatter myself with soon. I hope it will be soon: For I am in a very bad State of Health and cannot afford a long Delay.
I fancy you are acquainted with Mr Gibbon: I like his Performance extremely and have ventured to tell him, that, had I not been personally acquainted with him, I shoud never have expected such an excellent Work from the Pen of an Englishman.6 It is lamentable to consider how much that Nation has declined in Literature during our time. I hope he did not take amiss the national Reflection.
All your Friends here are in great Grief at present for the Death of Baron Mure,7 which is an irreparable Loss to our Society. He was among the oldest and best Friends I had in the World.
I wrote you about six Weeks ago,8 which I hope you received: You may certainly at present have the Subject of a Letter to me; and you have no longer any very pressing Occupation. But our Friendship does not depend on these Ceremonials.
[1 ]Greek for ‘Well done!’
[2 ]The Gentleman’s Magazine ignored WN, and it received only a two–page review in the 1776 Annual Register, though this is thought to have been written by Burke.
[3 ]At WN I.vi.8, Smith states that the rent of land constitutes a third part of the price of most kinds of goods, but notes later that rent enters into the composition of the price of commodities in a different way from wages and profit’ (I. xi. a. 8). Hume’s criticism foreshadows that of Ricardo: The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, ch. xxiv.
[4 ]In WN IV.vi.20, ‘of Treaties of Commerce’, Smith stated on the authority of Bazinghen’s Traité des monnoies (1764), that the coinage in France increases the value of a mark of standard gold bullion, by the difference between 671 livres 10 deniers, and 720 livres; or by 48 livres 19 sous and 2 deniers. This works out at a seignorage of slightly over 7% (not 8% as Hume claimed). But Hume’s criticism was just, for Garnier in his translation of WN (v. 234) points out that the mint price referred to by Bazinghen remained in force a very short time. When it failed to bring bullion to the mint, higher prices were offered, and at the time of the publication of WN, the seignorage amounted to approximately 3%.
[5 ]The reference is to Jacques Necker’s Essai sur la législation et le commerce des grains (1775), which Smith cites, e.g. at WN V.ii.k.78. See Letter 159, n. 5.
[6 ]The first volume of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was published by Strahan on 20 February. Hume congratulated Gibbon on 18 March (HL ii. 309–11), in a letter which the author said ‘overpaid the labour of ten years’. Gibbon’s book sold better than WN (Rae 286).
[7 ]Baron Mure died at Caldwell on 25 March 1776, of gout in the stomach.
[8 ]Letter 149, dated 8 Feb. 1776.