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163.: To ALEXANDER WEDDERBURN - 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 ALEXANDER WEDDERBURN
MS., GUL Gen. 4131; unpubl.
Kirkcaldy, 14 Aug. 1776
My Dear Sir
It gives me very great concern to learn by Mr Cunningham that Mrs Wedderburnes state of Health obliges you to pass some months at Spaw. I would hope, however, that necessity is only the pretence, and that amusement is the real purpose of your journey, which will at any rate remove you from a scene of Business and anxiety to one of Pleasure and dissipation.
I have nothing to tell you that will be very agreable. Poor David Hume is dying very fast, but with great chearfulness and good humour and with more real resignation to the necessary course of things, than any Whining Christian ever dyed with pretended resignation to the will of God.1 On thursday last he showed me a letter from his old friend Collonel Edmondstone2 bidding him an eternal adieu. I alledged that as his spirits were so very good there was still some chance that his disease might take a favourable turn. He answered, ‘Smith, your hopes are groundless; an habitual diarrhaea, which has now continued for several years, is a dangerous disease to a man of any age. At my age it is a mortal one. When I rise in the morning I find myself weaker than when I went to bed at night, and when I go to bed at night weaker than when I rose in the morning, so that in a few days I trust the business will be over.’ I said, that at any rate he had the comfort of thinking that he left all his friends in prosperity particularly his brothers family whose circumstances would be greatly improved by his means. He replied, their circumstances were good independent of me and gave me some account of them: but, continued he, I so far agree with you, that when I was lately reading the dialogues of Lucian3 in which he represents one Ghost as pleading for a short delay till he should marry a young daughter, another till he should finish a house he had begun, a third till he had provided a portion for two or three young Children, I began to think of what Excuse I could alledge to Charon in order to procure a short delay, and as I have now done everything that I ever intended to do, I acknowledge that for some time no tolerable one occurred to me; at last I thought I might say, Good Charon, I have been endeavouring to open the eyes of people; have a little patience only till I have the pleasure of seeing the churches shut up, and the Clergy sent about their business; but Charon would reply, O you loitering rogue; that wont happen these two hundred years; do you fancy I will give you a lease for so long a time? Get into the boat this instant.4 Since we must lose our friend the most agreable thing that can happen is that he dyes [as] a man of sense ought to do. I left Edinburgh for a few days till he should recall me. He is so weak, that even my company fatigues him, especially as his spirits are so good that he cannot help talking incessantly when anybody is with him. When alone he diverts himself with with correcting his own works, and with all [the] ordinary amusements.
I do not very well remember what were the books I recommended to Sir James Erskine. The [?Cours] des Etudes du duc de Parme was probably [among] them.5 I cannot guess at the other.
Is McDonald of your Party?6 His health, I hear, is not good. I should be much obliged to you for an account of it. After Hume there is scarce anybody I would more sincerely regret. I ever am
My Dear Sir, Yours entirely
[1 ]Smith had been staying with Hume in Edinburgh.
[2 ]James Edmonstoune of Newton; entered the Army in 1739 and rose to be Lt. Col. (1762) before resigning in 1770; an old friend of Hume, whose companion he had been on the L’Orient expedition of 1746. The letter read, in part: ‘My Heart is very full. I could not see you this Morning; I thought it was better for us both. You can’t die, you must live in the Memory of all your friends and Acquaintances and your Works will render you immortal. I could never conceive that it was possible for any one to dislike you or hate you, he must be more than savage who could be an Enemy to a Man of the best Head and Heart and of the most amiable Manners’ (RES v. 7).
[3 ]Lucian was Hume’s favourite author, according to Morellet, who sent him a translation of one of the dialogues in 1766 (HL ii. 157, n. 1).
[4 ]This account of Hume’s last days was elaborated on by Smith in Letter 178 addressed to Strahan, dated 9 Nov. 1776, which was subsequently published by Strahan. One striking difference, however, is that for the purposes of publication, Smith toned down the reference to religion and, in particular, he omitted the remark about ‘any whining Christian’.
[5 ]See Letter 159 from Alexander Wedderburn, dated 6 June 1776. Condillac’s Cours d’étude pour l’instruction du Prince de Parme is listed in the 1781 catalogue of Smith’s books (Mizuta 14).
[6 ]? Archibald Macdonald (1747–1826), a rising lawyer who entered Parliament in 1777 as a supporter of North.