Front Page Titles (by Subject) 221.: To JOHN SINCLAIR OF ULBSTER - 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:
221.: To JOHN SINCLAIR OF ULBSTER - 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.
To JOHN SINCLAIR OF ULBSTER
Sinclair Corr., i. 389–90; Rae 382–3.
MS., Meisei University, near Tokyo, Japan; Sinclair Corr., i, 389–90; Rae 382–3.
Custom–House, Edinburgh, 14 Oct. 1782
My Dear Sir,
I have read your pamphlet several times over, with great pleasure, and am very much pleased with the style and composition.1 As to what effect it might produce, if translated, upon the Powers concerned in the armed neutrality,2 I am a little doubtful. It is too plainly partial to England. It proposes that the force of the armed neutrality should be employed in recovering to England the islands she has lost; and the compensation which it is proposed that England should give for this service, is the islands which they may conquer for themselves, with the assistance of England, indeed, from France and Spain. There seems to me, besides, to be some inconsistency in the argument. If it be just to emancipate the Continent of America from the dominion of every European power, how can it be just to subject the islands to such dominion? And if the monopoly of the trade of the Continent be contrary to the rights of mankind, how can that of the islands be agreeable to those rights? The real futility of all distant dominions, of which the defence is necessarily most expensive, and which contribute nothing, either by revenue or military force, to the general defence of the empire, and very little even to their own particular defence, is, I think, the subject upon which the public prejudices of Europe require most to be set right.3 In order to defend the barren rock of Gibraltar, (to the possession of which we owe the union of France and Spain, contrary to the natural interests and inveterate prejudices of both countries, the important enmity of Spain, and the futile and expensive friendship of Portugal,) we have now left our own coasts defenceless, and sent out a great fleet, to which any considerable disaster may prove fatal to our domestic security; and which, in order to effectuate its purpose, must probably engage a fleet of superior force.4 Sore eyes have made me delay writing to you so long. I ever am, my Dear Sir, your most faithful and affectionate humble servant,
You will receive your papers under two covers by the same Post with this letter. [Postscript crossed out in MS].
[1 ]Thoughts on the Naval Strength of the British Empire, Pt. II (London, 1782); published anonymously.
[2 ]Denmark, Russia, Sweden, and Prussia: see Letter 209 addressed to Peter Anker, dated 26 Oct. 1780.
[3 ]Cf. WN IV.vii.c.64.n.52. When Sinclair lamented to Smith the misfortunes of the American war, exclaiming: ‘If we go on at this rate, the nation must be ruined,’ Smith replied: ‘Be assured, my young friend, that there is a great deal of ruin in a nation’ (Sinclair Corr., i. 390–1).
[4 ]The siege of Gibraltar lasted from 1780 to 1782 and severely strained British naval resources during the American war.