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153.: From WILLIAM ROBERTSON - 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 WILLIAM ROBERTSON
Lady Dorothea Charnwood, An Autograph Collection (London, 1930), 121–2.
North Murchiston, 8 Apr. 1776
My Dear Sir
Though I am little disposed to write letters, and nobody, I know, is less apt to expect them than you, I cannot rise from finishing my first reading of the Inquiry, full of the new ideas and knowledge which it has communicated to me, without expressing somewhat of the cordial satisfaction which one naturally feels upon contemplating any uncommon and meritorious exertion of a friend. As I knew how much time and attention you had bestowed upon this work, I had raised my expectations of it very high, but it has gone far beyond what I expected. You have formed into a regular and consistent system one of the most intricate and important parts of political science, and if the English be capable of extending their ideas beyond the narrow and illiberal arrangements introduced by the mercantile supporters of Revolution principles, and countenanced by Locke and some of their favourite writers, I should think your Book will occasion a total change in several important articles both in police1 and finance. All your friends here have but one opinion concerning your work. Perhaps, however, when we have the pleasure of seeing you, we may venture to discuss some articles of your Creed, and to dispute others, but in the spirit of meekness, non ita certandi cupidi, quam propter amorem. None of your friends, however, will profit more by your labours and discoveries than I.2 Many of your observations concerning the Colonies are of capital importance to me. I shall often follow you as my Guide and instructor. I am happy to find my own ideas concerning the absurdity of the limitations upon the Colony trade established much better than I could have done myself. I have now finished all my work, but what relates to the British Colonies, and in the present uncertain state into which they are thrown, I go on writing with hesitation.3
As your Book must necessarily become a Political or Commercial Code to all Europe, which must be often consulted both by men of Practice and Speculation, I should wish that in the 2d Edition you would give a copious index,4 and likewise what the Book–sellers call Side–notes, pointing out the progress of the subject in every paragraph. This will greatly facilitate the consulting or referring to it. I hope now that your Book is off your hand, that we may have the pleasure of seeing you in Scotland. Our society here has suffered cruel loppings. Mr Hume declines so fast, that I am under the greatest sollicitude about him. If he does not recruit with the return of good weather, I shall become very apprehensive about his fate. I need not say to you what a loss we shall all suffer. Believe me My Dear Sir ever to be
Your affectionate and faithfull friend
[1 ]At the opening of his Lectures on Jurisprudence, Smith said: ‘The four great objects of law are justice, police, revenue, and arms.’ Later came a definition: ‘Police is the second general division of jurisprudence. The name is French, and is originally derived from the Greek πολιτεία, which properly signified the policy of civil government, but now it only means the regulation of the inferior parts of government, viz.: cleanliness, security, and cheapness or plenty’ (LJ(B), 5, 203; ed. Cannan, 3, 154).
[2 ]Evidence exists about Robertson making use of Smith’s ideas at an earlier stage in his career. John Callander of Craigforth who heard Smith’s lectures on jurisprudence c. 1750–1 averred that ‘Dr Robertson had borrowed the first volume of his History of Charles V. from them as every student could testify’. The reference is to the first vol. of the History: A View of the Progress of Society in Europe from the Subversion of the Roman Empire to the Beginning of the Sixteenth Century. According to Callander, Smith said Robertson ‘was able to form a good outline but he wanted industry to fill up the plan’ (EUL MSS. La. ii. 451–2, quoted in Scott 55–6).
[3 ]In the first eight books of his History of America (1777), Robertson gave ‘an account of the discovery of the New World, and of the progress of the Spanish arms and Colonies there’. The last two books dealt with the history of Virginia to 1688 and of New England to 1652. In the preface he promised he would return to the British colonies when the ‘civil war with Great Britain terminated’, but he did not do so.
[4 ]See Letter 151 from Hugh Blair, dated 3 April 1776, n. 5.