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and to hinder us from enjoying that degree of it which is placed within our reach.
After all, I am unable to satisfy myself upon this subject. I was informed, Sir, by a west-country gentleman, that he once had the happiness of hearing a lecture from
you upon this subject. But, as he had never read Mr Humes essay, and did not at the time think hįmself much interested in the inquiry, he was not in a capacity to give any account of your discourse, farther than that it was equally ingenious and satisfactory. I am ashamed to give you the trouble of transmitting a summary of your reasoning on this subject : but, as I beg this favour not simply for myself, but for above a dozen of philosophical acquaintances, who are equally dubious on this point, I presumę to hope that your goodness will induce you, at a convenient season, so far to oblige, Sir, Yours, &c,
P.S.-An answer, directed to me in MorFats land, Bow-head, Edinburgh, will be patiently expected, and thankfully received.
At first sight it may appear odd that so just a thinker as Mr Smellie, who had studied medicine regularly, should for a moment have been induced to bring forward the consideration of ordinary disease as an instance of want or deficiency of goodness in the moral attributes of the Deity: It is obvious that at least nine tenths of such human evils are the consequences of wrong
conduct in the
patients themselves, their ancestors, or caused by the situations in which the diseased persons are placed by merely human institutions; and it may be reasonably conjectured that the remaining fraction is in a similar predicament. It must however be considered, that Mr Smellie was then a very young man, eager in the prosecution of knowledge; and in this letter, he may naturally be supposed rather to state the ordinary objections against the universal benevolence of an over-ruling Providence, in hopes of receiving instruction on the subject from his reverend correspondent, than intending seriously to impugn that comfortable doctrine.
To Mr William Smellie from Professor P.
Wilson of the University of Glasgow,
Dear Sir, Glasgow, 18th February 1767. I RECEIVED your
discourse on Finalization long since, and perused the same to my great profit. As the question was first put by me, you'll no doubt wonder how I have not ere now showed you the like deference, by communicating my remarks on Dreamers and Dreams. Your topic promises to be curious in the investigation ; every attempt, however, to finalize upon the matter puts an end to my researches.
Sometimes, I am apt to think that I have stumbled on the causa, upon the first entrance into the discussion. I say to myself, What can be the cause final, middle, and principient, that this said Wednesday is, in our longitude, the 18th day of February 1767 ? Could not this same present day as well have been to-morrow ?
I FIND I must relinquish this subject till meeting; when we shall endeavour to penetrate beyond the veil of this argument, under the benign influence of tobacco smoke and porter at CLARYHeughs* Your late animadversion on hearts lie a little at my stomach.
I received yours of the 13th, accompanying some proposals for the Family Physician, most of which I have distributed as directed. You may rely that I shall do every thing for your
interest in the matter that is possible for me; and there is no need to advance
any new motives to attach me farther to
you. Yours, &c.
About the same period with that of the early correspondence already adverted to, an intimate and frequent reciprocation of letters appears to have taken place between Mr SmelLie and Dr William BUCHAN, the author of
very popular and successful work, entitled Domestic Medicine. A portion of that correspondence still remains, from which several
The name of the keeper cf a tavern in Edinburgh at the time.
letters have been selected for insertion in these Memoirs.
DR WILLIAM BUCHAN was born at Ancram, in the shire of Roxburgh, in 1739. educated at Edinburgh with a view to entering into the ministry of the Church of Scotland; but changed his purpose, and devoted himself to the study of Medicine. After finishing his academical studies, and having received the diploma of Doctor, he settled at Ackworth in Yorkshire, where he became physician to a foundling hospital. On the dissolution of that establishment, he removed to Sheffield, famous for its cutlery manufacture. Whether from not succeeding entirely to his satisfaction, or with a view to the more convenient publication of his intended great work, Domestic Medicine, does not certainly appear, though both may have contributed to the change, he returned to Edinburgh, where he endeavoured to get into practice as a physician, but with no great success.
In 1770 he published his work entitled Domestic Medicine, or a Treatise on the Cure and Prevention of Diseases, in which he was very materially assisted by Mr Smellie. In the course of the correspondence between them which yet remains, it will appear very