Essays on Philosophical Subjects

SMITH Adam (1795)

£6500.00  [First Edition]

... to which is prefixed an account of the life and writings of the author, by Dugald Stewart.

First edition. 4to (288 x 230mm). xcv, 244, pp. Contemporary sprinkled calf, boards with a single gilt filet boarder, spine divided into six panels with single gilt rules, the second panel lettered in gilt on red morocco label (very neatly rehinged, boards a little scuffed). 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".


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.


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. 


Goldsmiths 16218; Rothschild 1902.

Stock Code: 55036

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