Essays on Philosophical Subjects

SMITH Adam (1795)

£7500.00  [First Edition]

Available to view at our Curzon Street shop.


By The Late Adam Smith, LL.D. ... to which is prefixed an account of the life and writings of the author, by Dugald Stewart.

First Edition. 4to (300 x 240mm). xcv, 244 pp. Contemporary half russia with marbled paper covered boards, spine lettered and ruled in gilt, edges untrimmed (extremities rubbed and bumped, upper joint cracking, heacaps missing). London: for T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies; and W. Creech, Edinburgh,

Adam Smith chose his friends James Black and William Hutton as his literary executors, after first forcing them to burn sixteen volumes of his manuscripts before his death. These essays discuss "The Principles which lead and direct Philosophical Enquiries" illustrated by the history of astronomy, ancient physics and ancient logic and metaphysics; the nature of imitation in the imitative arts; the affinity between music, dancing and poetry, and between certain English and Italian verses; the five "external senses" (Touching, Tasting, Smelling, Hearing, Seeing). In the "Advertisement", the editors [Black and Hutton] explain that "the greater number of them [the seven essays] appeared to be parts of a plan he once had formed, for giving a connected history of the liberal sciences and elegant arts. It is long since he found it necessary to abandon that plan as far too extensive; and these parts of it lay beside him neglected until his death".

Dugald Stewart's account of the life and writings of Adam Smith was originally delivered as lectures at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 28 January and 18 March 1793 and published in their Transactions in 1794. 

1000 copies were printed for sale at 15 shillings in boards. It was followed by an 8vo Dublin reprint in the same year. The only other eighteenth-century printings in English of these seven essays by Smith were at Basel (1799) and Strasburg (1799); the latter, known in only two copies, is probably a reissue of the former.

Goldsmiths 16218; Rothschild 1902.

Stock Code: 54051

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