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208.: To [ANDREAS HOLT, Commissioner of the Danish Board of Trade and Economy] - 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 [ANDREAS HOLT, Commissioner of the Danish Board of Trade and Economy]
MS., GUL Gen. 1035/133 (copy letter, unsigned); Scott 281–4.
[Edinburgh, 26 Oct. 1780]
I am ashamed of having delayed so long to answer your very obliging letter;1 but I am occupied four days in every Week at the Custom House; during which it is impossible to sit down seriously to any other business: during the other three days too, I am liable to be frequently interrupted by the extraordinary duties of my office, as well as by my own private affairs, and the common duties of society.
It gives me the greatest pleasure to hear that Mr Dreby has done me the distinguished honour of translating my Book into the Danish language.2 I beg you will present to him my most sincere thanks and most respectful Compliments. I am much concerned that I cannot have the pleasure of reading it in his translation, as I am so unfortunate as not to understand the Danish language.
I Published more than two years ago a second edition of the inquiry concerning the Wealth of Nations, in which though I have made no material alteration, I have made a good number of corrections, none of which, however, affect even in the slightest degree, the general principles, or Plan of the System. I have by this Post directed Mr Cadell, to deliver two copies of this second edition, to your friend and pupil Mr Anker, of whom I have taken the liberty to ask the favour, of transmitting them by the first convenient opportunity to you. I hope you will be so good as to accept of one of them for yourself and present the other in my name to Mr Dreby.
I do not pretend that this second edition though a good deal more correct that the first, is entirely exempted from all errors. I have myself discovered several inaccurasies. The most considerable is in Vol. 2. page 482 where I say ‘In England for example, when by the land–tax, every other sort of revenue was supposed to be assessed at four shillings in the pound, it was very popular to lay a real tax of five shillings in the pound upon the salaries of offices which exceeded a hundred pounds a year, those of the Judges and a few others less obnoxious to envy excepted.’3 The tax upon such salaries amounts, not to five shillings only, but to five and six pence in the pound; and the salaries of Judges are not exempted from it. The only salaries exempted are the pensions of the younger branches of the Royal family, and the pay of the Officers of the army and Navy. This blunder which so far as I know is the grossest in the whole Book, and which arose from trusting too much to memory, does not in the least affect the reasoning, or conclusion which it was brought to support.
I have not thought it proper to make any direct answer to any of my adversaries. In the second edition I flattered myself that I had obviated all the objections of Governor Pownal.4 I find however, he is by no means satisfied, and as Authors are not much disposed to alter the opinions they have once published, I am not much surprized at it.
The anonymous author of a pamphlet concerning national defense, who I have been told is a Gentleman of the name of Douglas, has Written against Me. When he Wrote his book, he had not read mine to the end. He fancies that because I insist that a Militia is in all cases inferior to a well regulated and well disciplined standing Army, that I disaprove of Militias altogether. With regard to that subject, he and I happened to be precisly of the same opinion. This Gentleman, if I am rightly informed of his name, is a man of parts and one of my acquaintance, so that I was a little surprized at his attack upon Me, and still more at the mode of it.5
A very diligent, laborious, honest Man of the name of Anderson, has published a large quarto volume concerning improvements; in this volume he has done me the honour to employ a very long chapter in answering my objections to the bounty upon the exportation of Corn.6 In volume second page 101 of the first edition, I happened to say that the nature of things had stamped a real value upon Corn which no human institution can alter. The expression was certainly too strong, and had escaped me in the heat of Writing. I ought to have said that the nature of things had stamped upon corn a real value which could not be altered merely by altering its Money price. This was all that the argument required, and all that I really meant. Mr Anderson takes advantage of this hasty expression, and triumphs very much by showing that in several other parts of my Work I had acknowledged that whatever lowered the real price of manufactur’d produce, rais’d the price of rude produce, and consequently of corn. In the second edition I have corrected this careless expression, which I apprehend takes away the foundation of the whole argument of Mr Anderson.7
It is not worth while to take notice even to you of the innumerable squibs thrown out upon me in the newspapers. I have however, upon the whole been much less abused than I had reason to expect; so that in this respect I think myself rather lucky than otherwise. A single, and as, I thought a very harmless Sheet of paper, which I happened to Write concerning the death of our late friend Mr Hume,8 brought upon me ten times more abuse than the very violent attack I had made upon the whole commercial system of Great Britain. So much for what relates to my Book.
I was much intertained with the account which you was so good as [to] send me of your travels into Iceland,9 and of the different situation you have been in since I had the pleasure of seeing you in France,10 and was Very happy to find in the end that you had obtained so comfortable and honourable an establishment at Copenhagen. The revolution in the administration of your Government, which you mention, I always believed to have been conducted with great prudence and moderation, and to have been indispensibly necessary for the preservation of the State.11 It gives me great pleasure to hear the agreeable accounts which you give me of the young Prince and of the very proper manner in which he is educated. Since I had the pleasure of seeing you, my own life has been extremely uniform.12 Upon my return to Britain I retired to a small Town in Scotland the place of my nativity, where I continued to live for six years in great tranquillity, and almost in complete retirement. During this time I amused myself principally with writing my Enquiry concerning the Wealth of Nations, in studying Botany (in which however I made no great progress) as well as some other sciences to which I had never given much attention before. In the Spring of 1773 a proposal, which many of my friends thought very advantageous was made to me to go abroad a second time.13 The discussion of this proposal obliged me to go to London, where the Duke of Buccleugh was so good as to disuade [me] from accepting it. For four years after this London was my principal residence, where I finished and published my Book. I had returned to my old retirement at Kirkaldy and was employing myself in writing another Work concerning the imitative arts,14 when by the interest of the Duke of Buccleugh, I was appointed to my present Office; which though it requires a good deal of attendance is both easy and honourable, and for my Way of living sufficiently beneficial. Upon my appointment I proposed to surrender the annuity which had been settled upon me by the Tutors of the Duke of Buccleugh, before I went abroad with him, and which had been renewed by his Grace after he became of age, as a thing for which I had no farther occasion. But his Grace sent me word by his Cashier, to whom I had offered to deliver up his bond, that though I had considered what was fit for my own honour, I had not consider’d what was fit for his; and that he never would suffer it to be suspected that he had procured an office for his friend, in order to relieve himself from the burden of such an annuity. My present situation is therefore fully as affluent as I could wish it to be. The only thing I regret in it is the interruptions to my literary pursuits, which the duties of my office necessarily occasion. Several Works which I had projected are likely to go on much more slowly than they otherwise would have done. Wishing you every sort of happiness and prosperity, I have the honour to be with the highest respect and esteem
Dear Sir your most affectionate humble Servant
[1 ]Not traced.
[2 ]See Letter 206, n. 5.
[3 ]WN V.ii.i.7 (conclusion).
[4 ]See Letter 174 from Pownall, dated 15 Sept. 1776 (Appendix A), and Smith’s reply, Letter 182, dated 19 Jan. 1777.
[5 ]A Letter from a Gentleman in Edinburgh to his Grace the Duke of Buccleugh on National Defence, with some Remarks on Dr Smith’s Chapter on that Subject in his Book, entitled ‘An Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations’ (London, 1778). The initials ‘M.T.’ appear at the end of the preface; see WN V.i.a. 23, 27.
[6 ]James Anderson, Observations on the Means of Exciting a Spirit of National Industry (London, 1777); WN IV.v. 4–25, also V.ii.k. 13.
[7 ]See WN IV.v.a.23. Ed. 2 reads ‘The nature of things has stamped upon corn a real value which cannot be altered by merely altering its money price’. Pownall in his Letter notices a similarity between Smith’s arguments about the corn bounty and those of Necker in Sur la législation et le commerce des grains (1775); see Appendix A, pp. 361–6.
[8 ]Letter 178 dated 9 Nov. 1776, addressed to William Strahan.
[9 ]Holt was overlandskommissær there.
[10 ]They met at Toulouse in 1764.
[11 ]A coup d’état in 1772 resulted in the exile of Queen Caroline Mathilde; the execution of her lover, Struensee, a German physician who had become Prime Minister after dominating King Christian VII from 1768; and the restoration of Danish leadership.
[12 ]This para. presents a brief autobiography of the years 1766–80. The account of how Smith became a Commissioner of Customs is to be compared with his letters of Dec. 1777–Feb. 1778.
[13 ]As travelling tutor to the Duke of Hamilton.
[14 ]EPS, ‘Of the Nature of that Imitation which takes place in what are called the Imitative Arts’.