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This, and the ensuing Volume of Mr. Stewart's Collected Works, come before the public under very different circumstances from his other writings. The other writings were once and again elaborated by the Author, and by himself carefully conducted through the press ; whereas the following Lectures were not destined for publication,-at least, in the state in which they now appear. That Mr. Stewart, however, intended ultimately to publish his Course of Political Economy, seems certain; and, with this view, during the latter years of his life, he had revised, corrected, amplified, and re-arranged its constituent parts. But whether he had finally completed this preparation is doubtful; for the Lectures thus remodelled by him in his retirement, have, for the most part, unhappily perished. As now printed from those Original Manuscripts which have escaped the fate of the others revised for publication, the course consists principally of what was written so far back as the beginning of the century, with such additions and corrections as were occasionally interpolated up to the Session of 1809-10, the last year of Mr. Stewart's academical labours. Fortunately, he did not in his course of Political Economy, as
in that of Moral Philosophy, either trust to the extemporaneous resources of his memory and eloquence for the exposition of his own opinions, or read from their original context the passages which he had occasion to quote from other authors; but that, in both respects, all, or nearly all, was fully written out. I say fortunately-for while the Lectures on Psychology and Morals have been not inadequately supplied by his correlative publications, those on Political Economy are replaced by no printed substitute. Still, under the circumstances, it became a question with Mr. Stewart's Trustees, whether, in the discharge of the duty which they owed to the reputation of the deceased, they should, or should not, publish what remained of the Course of Political Economy. In this difficulty, they, with great propriety, sought advice from the most competent of Mr. Stewart's older friends and pupils; and in particular, from the Marquis of Lansdowne and Viscount Palmerston. But, as perhaps was to be expected, these noblemen, however favourable to the alternative of publication, found themselves unable, without an examination of the Manuscripts, to express a definite opinion; and the result was, that the decision devolved exclusively upon the Editor. An examination convinced me of the importance of the documents which still remain ; in reference to which, it may be observed, that while Mr. Stewart was habitually accurate in all his statements, whatever he committed to writing was more especially sure of being thoroughly meditated and carefully expressed. “Ignorabat inepta.” Although, therefore, we must always regret the loss of many important writings, old and new, still I feel confident, that the manuscripts remaining, however their value might be enhanced did they exhibit the Course in its original integrity, with the addition of subsequent improvements, will, even in their present state, be found eminently worthy of publication. For although they may not
fulfil all the intentions of the Author, still, even without his last emendments, they afford a systematic view of Political Science in its most important doctrines, written too with the eloquence, wisdom, and enlightened liberality which distinguish all the works of Mr. Stewart. Many changes and considerable progress in the doctrines of Political Economy, have, undoubtedly, been made since these Lectures were delivered; but these Lectures themselves have exerted a powerful influence in determining this advancement. For while Mr. Stewart's instruction inculcated, more or less articulately, these improved opinions, no master, perhaps, ever exerted a stronger and more beneficial influence on his disciples. “ His disciples," to quote the words of Sir James Mackintosh, " he lived to see among the lights and ornaments of the Council and the Senate; and without derogation from his writings it may be said, that his disciples were among his best works.” As an introduction to Political Economy and Politics, these Lectures, as they stand, will be found, I am persuaded, among the best extant; and though they may not exhaust all the problems of the science, they omit none of primary importance. In particular, they will prove a valuable preparative and accompaniment to a study of the Wealth of Nations ; affording, as they do, a criticism and supplement to the immortal work of Smith. The doctrines of Smith are not, however, considered to the exclusion of those of minor authors; and we have here commemorated and canvassed, with an enlightened impartiality, the speculations of many able but now forgotten thinkers.
In regard to the unfortunate loss of the manuscripts, the most articulate information which I am able to afford is that supplied by Mr. Stewart's son, Colonel Stewart, in the following letter addressed to Mr. Henry Foss, (of the well-known publishing house of Payne & Foss,) and by that gentleman subsequently
communicated to the public in Notes and Queries, Vol. XI., No. 284, April 7, 1855.
CATRINE, March 30, 1837. SIR,—You were so obliging, some time since, as to say that you would mention the literary property that I wished to publish in your intercourse with the other members of your profession, in whose line such business lay. You need not, however, farther trouble yourself on this head ; because, finding myself getting on in life, and despairing of finding a sale for it at its real value, I have destroyed the whole of it. To this step I was much induced by finding my locks repeatedly picked during my absence from home, some of my papers carried off, and some of the others evidently read, if not copied from, by persons of whom I could procure no trace, and in the pursuit or conviction of whom, I never could obtain any efficient assistance from the judicial functionaries.
As this may form, at some future period, a curious item in the history of literature in the present century, (as a proof of the encouragement and protection afforded to literary labour during the present reign, by a people reckoning themselves amongst the most enlightened and civilized communities of the earth,) I subjoin a list of the works destroyed as unsaleable, written by my father, Dugald Stewart, author of the Philosophy of the Human Mind, &c. :
“1st, The Philosophy of Man as a Member of a Political Association. (Incomplete.)
“2d, His Lectures on Political Economy, delivered in the University of Edinburgh ; reduced by him into books and chapters, containing a very complete body of that science, with many important rectifications of Adam Smith's speculations.
“ 3d, One hundred and seventy pages of the continuation of the Dissertation prefixed to the Encyclopædia Britannica.