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181.: To WILLIAM STRAHAN - 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 WILLIAM STRAHAN
Letters of David Hume to William Strahan, ed. G. Birkbeck Hill (Oxford, 1888), 351–2; Rae 310.
Kirkcaldy, 2 Dec. 1776
It always gives me great uneasiness whenever I am obliged to give an opinion contrary to the inclination of my friend.1 I am sensible that many of Mr Humes letters would do him great honour and that you would publish none but such as would. But what in this case ought principally to be considered is the will of the Dead. Mr Humes constant injunction was to burn all his Papers, except the Dialogues and the account of his own life. This injunction was even inserted in the body of his will. I know he always disliked the thought of his letters ever being published. He had been in long and intimate correspondence with a relation of his own who dyed a few years ago. When that Gentlemans health began to decline he was extremely anxious to get back his letters, least the heir should think of publishing them. They were accordingly returned and burnt as soon as returned. If a collection of Mr Humes letters, besides, was to receive the public approbation, as yours certainly would, the Curls2 of the times would immediately set about rummaging the cabinets of all those who had ever received a scrap of paper from him. Many things would be published not fit to see the light to the great mortification of all those who wish well to his memory. Nothing has contributed so much to sink the value of Swifts works as the undistinguished publication of his letters;3 and be assured that your publication, however select, would soon be followed by an undistinguished one. I should, therefore, be sorry to see any beginning given to the publication of his letters. His life will not make a volume; but it will make a small pamphlet. I shall certainly be in London by the tenth of January at furthest. I have a little business at Edinburgh which may detain me a few days about Christmass, otherwise I should be with you by the new year. I have a great deal more to say to you; but the post is just going. I shall write to Mr. Cadell by next post.
I ever am Dear Sir Most affectionately yours
[1 ]This is an answer to the previous Letter 180.
[2 ]Edmund Curll (1675–1747), the contemporary of Swift and Pope whose name was a byword as that of an unscrupulous bookseller; he specialized in publishing poetical miscellanies, ramshackle biographies (‘one of the new terrors of death’, according to Arbuthnot), and pornographic pamphlets.
[3 ]Without authorization, Curll published Dean Swift’s Literary Correspondence, For Twenty–Four Years in 1741; and Swift’s official publisher, Faulkner, put out in the same year Letters To and From Dr J. Swift, D.S.P.D. From the Year 1714, to 1738. In LRBL, Smith commented on Shaftesbury’s letters adversely and represented them as ‘not near so animated as those of Swift and Pope’ (Wed. 15 Dec.).