Front Page Titles (by Subject) 152.: From JOSEPH BLACK - Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence Vol. 6 Correspondence of Adam Smith
Return to Title Page for Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence Vol. 6 Correspondence of Adam Smith
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
152.: From JOSEPH BLACK - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith and the associated volumes are published in hardcover by Oxford University Press. The six titles of the Glasgow Edition, but not the associated volumes, are being published in softcover by Liberty Fund. The online edition is published by Liberty Fund under license from Oxford University Press.
©Oxford University Press 1976. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be stored transmitted retransmitted lent or reproduced in any form or medium without the permission of Oxford University Press.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
From JOSEPH BLACK
MS., RSE viii. 6; unpubl.
[Edinburgh, Apr. 1776]1
Tho I sit down to write to you upon another account I cannot help expressing the pleasure and Satisfaction I frequently meet with in hearing the Opinions of good Judges concerning your Book. I most heartily rejoice in the prospect of the additional Credit and reputation which you cannot miss to gain by it and which must encrease as long as you live for I have no doubt that the Views you have given of many parts of your Subject will be found by experience to be as just as they are new and interesting and although it be admired immediately by discerning and impartial Judges[,] It will require some time before others who are not so quick sighted and whose minds are warped by Prejudice or Interest can understand and relish such a comprehensive System composed with such just and liberal Sentiments. But I write at present cheifly to acquaint you with the State of your Freind David Humes’ Health which is so bad that I am quite melancholy upon it and as I hear that you intend a Visit to this country, soon, I wish if possible to hasten your coming that he may have the Comfort of your Company so much the sooner. He has been declining several years and this in a Slow and gradual manner untill about a twelve month agoe Since which the progress of his Disorder has been more rapid.2 One of his Distresses has been a Sensation of excessive Heat cheifly in the nighttime and which was only external for it occasioned no internal distress or anxiety or thirst. It has been greatly alleviated by the use of the tepid Bath which he still finds very comfortable. But there is another Disorder in his Constitution which is undermining him I am afraid in an irresistable manner. This is a Diarrhea with Colicy Pains attended with and I beleive proceeding from an internal Haemorrage. He has been all his life Subject to fits of Diarrhea which returned at pretty regular intervals [,] he has also been long subject to haemorrhoidal Discharges—but the Diarhhea has become gradually more frequent and now returns every 3 or 4 days—and when it comes he passes a large quantity of blood which from its appearance and from the Seat of his Colicy pains must proceed from some of the higher parts of the intestines—he is greatly weakened and looks very ill after every discharge but recovers next day in some measure and enjoys upon the whole a Surprising degree of ease and good Spirits and takes a moderate quantity of food with appetite and relish. His mother he says had precisely the same constitution with himself and dyed of this very disorder, which has made him give up any hopes of his getting the better of it. I have given you this particular account of his Situation that you may Communicate it to Sir John Pringle3 with my respectfull Compliments. I know that they have a great freindship for one another and Sir John must be anxious to hear a particular account of his freind. If he has any remarks to make or hints to give I shall be glad to receive them.
Do not however say much on this Subject to any one else, as he does not like to have it spoke of and has even been shy and slow in acquainting me fully with this State of his health.
Forgive this Scrawl which I have not time to transcribe and beleive me ever
My Dear Sir Most faithfully and affectionately Yours
[1 ]The letter must have been written after WN reached Scotland and before Hume left for England on 21 April.
[2 ]Cancer of the bowel cannot be ruled out, but Hume probably died of chronic ulcerative colitis, following an acute bacillary dysentery (Mossner, Life of Hume, 596).
[3 ]Sir John Pringle (1707–82), physician, friend of Smith and Hume; studied at Leyden; joint Professor of Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh 1734–44; resigned professorship to become Physician–General to British forces in Flanders 1744; settled in London, 1748; physician to George III, 1774; President of the Royal Soc. 1772; reformed military medicine and sanitation: Observations on Diseases of the Army (1752).