Human Documents of Adam Smith's Time
Published December 14th 2009 by Routledge – 268 pages
First published in 1974, this is not a ‘life’ of the founder of the science of economics, although it opens with a biographical sketch; nor is it an analysis of The Wealth of Nations, although it contains numerous pointed quotations from it. Rather, it is a presentation of Adam Smith against his background of time and place, eighteenth century Britain on the eve of the Industrial Revolution.
The first chapter consists of ‘documents’ illustrating life in London: ‘low life’ be it noted, which is not to say that it is all sordidness and debauchery and crime (though there is plenty of that in evidence) but life as it was lived by the ‘lower orders’, whom Adam Smith gratefully recognises as ‘the great body of the people’. The last chapter describes the Scotland that Adam Smith knew – Kirkaldy, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
1. Adam Smith: The Man and his Book 2. ‘Low Life’ in London 3. English Tradesmen 4. ‘Prentice Boys 5. Some London Shopkeepers 6. Country Characters 7. Up and Down the English Roads 8. ‘The Labouring Poor’ 9. The Changing Face of British Industry 10. The Scotland that Adam Smith Knew