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“ that his criticisms were of material use. “ The paper did Mr Wilson much credit ; " and he obtained a premium from some fo“reign literary society.
6 Mr Smellie was often consulted upon • literary subjects; and his thorough knowledge of the structure and composition “ of the English language, gained him the “ esteem and friendship of all the learned “ men in and about Edinburgh. The late “ Lord Kames had much confidence in his “ critical acumen, and consulted him upon
“ The first volume of Sir John DalRYMPLES Memoirs was printed when I “ was about your fathers hands; and I re66 member well to have heard Sir John express his obligations to Mr Smellie ; adding, at the same time, that Principal Ro
BERTson, David Hume, Dr Blair, and Dr “ Adam Smith, had all read his manuscript, “ but that he had derived ten times more
advantage from your fathers observations, " than from all the above conjoined: And " there was a bond of union formed, that I believe was never broken.
6 Dr Cullen and Dr Hope, and the late “ Professor Robertson, had much literary " intercourse with Mr Smellie. Indeed all “ the literary people in and about town, while “ I was with him, were his daily companions. “ I used sometimes to think he had too many “ associates of that description ; for it threw “ too great a load of the business of the house “ on my shoulders.”
A GREAT proportion of this biographical work will necessarily consist of anecdotes relative to the literature of Scotland ; in which Mr Smellie held either a direct connexion as an author, a translator, or a compiler, of distinguished eminence; or as conjoined with others in what may be called copartnership literary speculations and adventures ; or indirectly, in the way already indicated, as aiding, by his judicious and almost instinctive critical skill, to ameliorate the style, language,
and arrangement, and even the reasonings of other writers. Of all these, so far as warranted by authentic documents, an ample and impartial account will be given in this work : Yet, in detailing the last of these departments of his literary labours, prudent delicacy in regard to the feelings of
others has induced the suppression of many prominent circumstances, which could have been sufficiently authenticated by unques tionable evidence.
Mr Smellie repeatedly expressed to his eldest son, the present Mr ALEXANDER Smellie, his intention of drawing up an account of his own life and writings. From his acknowledged candour and well known abilities, this must surely have proved an interesting and instructive work ; would unquestionably have contained numerous and authentic anecdotes of the many learned and respectable men with whom he was acquainted and connected. Consider ing the frequent advertence to this subject in the light of a testamentary wish, his son and successor has always been anxious to have this intention supplied, by the publication of a life of his honoured father. To his earnest representations the present attempt owes its origin; and by the partiality of his friendship, the author has been induced to undertake the task; for the performance of which, the younger Mr Smellie placed a vast mass of papers in his hands, by means
of which this work has been selected, arranged, and compiled with much care.
In confirmation of the authenticity of the materials employed in the composition of this work, the author received along with these materials the following letter from his friend Mr ALEXANDER Smellie, Printer in Edinburgh, and Secretary to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland; who has likewise been consulted on a great number of circumstances in the course of its composition, and has deliberately and often examined and compared every part of it, both in manuscript and while passing through the press,
To Mr Robert KERR.
66 DEAR SIR, Edinburgh, March 17. 1810.
“In consequence of the conversation I had “ with you some time ago, I have drawn up
some facts and circumstances respecting “ the life of my father. From a carelessness " which he had about every thing he wrote, “ the materials I send you are unfortunate
ly much interrupted. This has often been
as a full
14 the cause of regret to me, « account of his life, writings, and corre
spondence, would have furnished a complete history of the literature of Scotland during his time.
Besides his intimacy * with almost every eminent literary charac" ter of this country during that period, it is “ perfectly well known that many publications so of great merit were considerably improved " by him, not merely as a servile corrector 56 of the press, but by critical revisal, and mas6 terial amendment of language, argument, 66 and arrangement.
" Some books of great interest were in 56 reality all written over again by him, and « others were very materially altered by his " hand, or pursuant to his suggestions. One “ book on Medicine of almost unexampled sale, * and which has gone through a vast number " of editions, was entirely re-written by him “ before going to press. For a considerable “. period, no less than six thousand copies “ of that book were sold yearly. Many “other works were revised and amended by
him, of which you will find ample proofs in “ the facts and correspondence with which I now furnish you,
and which I have set down