1789 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Adam Smith

Samuel Rogers, Journal entry, 16, 19 July 1789; P. W. Clayden, The Early Life of Samuel Rogers (1887) 92-93.



July 16. — Called on Adam Smith, who was sitting at breakfast with a plate of strawberries on the table. Fruit, he said, was his favourite diet at this season. Strawberries were a northern fruit. In the Orkneys and in Sweden they were to perfection. Said that Edinburgh deserved little notice; that the old town had given Scotland a bad name; that he was anxious to move into the new town, and had set his heart on St. George's Square; that Edinburgh was entirely supported by the three Courts — the Exchequer, the Excise, and the Judiciary Courts; that Loch Lomond was the finest lake in Great Britain — the islands were very beautiful, and formed a very striking contrast to the shores; that the soil of Scotland was excellent, but that its harvests, from the severity of the climate, were too often overtaken by winter; that the Scotch on the borders were to this day in extreme poverty; and that when he first left Scotland, he was on horseback, and was struck with the transition as he approached Carlisle; that our late refusal of corn to France must excite indignation and contempt — the quantity required was so trifling that it would not support Edinburgh for a day. Said that in Paris as well as in Edinburgh, the houses were piled one upon another. Spoke contemptuously of Sir John Sinclair, but said that he never knew a man who was in earnest and who did not do something at last. Said he did not know Mrs. Piozzi, and believed her to be spoiled by keeping company with odd people.

July 19. — Called at two, when all the bells of the kirk were ringing, to take leave of Adam Smith. His chair was waiting to take him an airing. He met me at the door. Asked me how I liked the Club. Had before mentioned Bogle as very clever, and expressed pleasure at the thought of his being there. He now said: "That Bogle, I was sorry he talked so much, he spoiled the evening." He seemed to apologise for him. Invited me to supper and to dinner next day, as he had asked Mackenzie to meet me. Who could refuse?