Adam Ferguson: History, Progress and Human Nature (The Enlightenment World: Political and Intellectual History of the Long Eighteenth Century)

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Adam Ferguson: History, Progress and Human Nature (The Enlightenment World: Political and Intellectual History of the Long Eighteenth Century)

ADAM FERGUSON: HISTORY, PROGRESS AND HUMAN NATURE The Enlightenment World: Political and Intellectual History of the L

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ADAM FERGUSON: HISTORY, PROGRESS AND HUMAN NATURE

The Enlightenment World: Political and Intellectual History of the Long Eighteenth Century Series Editor: Series Co-Editors:

Advisory Editor:

Michael T. Davis Jack Fruchtman, Jr Iain McCalman Paul Pickering Hideo Tanaka

Titles in this Series Harlequin Empire: Race, Ethnicity and the Drama of the Popular Enlightenment David Worrall The Cosmopolitan Ideal in the Age of Revolution and Reaction, 1776–1832 Michael Scrivener Writing the Empire: Robert Southey and Romantic Colonialism Carol Bolton Forthcoming Titles The Evolution of Sympathy in the Long Eighteenth Century Jonathan Lamb Adam Ferguson: Philosophy, Politics and Society Eugene Heath and Vincenzo Merolle (eds) The Scottish People and the French Revolution Bob Harris

www.pickeringchatto.com/enlightenmentworld

ADAM FERGUSON: HISTORY, PROGRESS AND HUMAN NATURE

edited by Eugene Heath and Vincenzo Merolle

london PICKERING & CHATTO 2008

Published by Pickering & Chatto (Publishers) Limited 21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH 2252 Ridge Road, Brookfield, Vermont 05036-9704, USA www.pickeringchatto.com All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without prior permission of the publisher. british library cataloguing in publication data Adam Ferguson: history, progress and human nature 1. Ferguson, Adam, 1723–1816 2. Civilization – History 3. Enlightenment – Scotland I. Heath, Eugene II. Merolle, Vincenzo 192 ISBN-13: 9781851968640



This publication is printed on acid-free paper that conforms to the American National Standard for the Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials. Typeset by Pickering & Chatto (Publishers) Limited Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

CONTENTS

Contributors Introduction – Eugene Heath and Vincenzo Merolle I. Life and Works 1 Ferguson’s Epistolary Self – John D. Brewer 2 Ferguson and Scottish History: Past and Present in An Essay on the History of Civil Society – David Allan 3 Ferguson’s Use of the Edinburgh University Library: 1764–1806 – Jane B. Fagg II. In History 4 Ferguson’s Reflections Previous to the Establishment of a Militia – David Raynor 5 Ferguson’s Views on the American and French Revolutions – Yasuo Amoh 6 Political Education for Empire and Revolution – David Kettler III. On History 7 Ferguson, Roman History and the Threat of Military Government in Modern Europe – Iain McDaniel 8 Ferguson’s ‘Appropriate Stile’ in Combining History and Science: The History of Historiography Revisited – Annette Meyer

vi 1

7 23 39

65 73 87

115 131

IV. Human Nature, Action and Progress 9 Ferguson’s Politics of Action – Fania Oz-Salzberger 147 10 Ferguson and the Active Genius of Mankind – Craig Smith 157 11 Providence and Progress: The Religious Dimension in Ferguson’s Discussion of Civil Society – Jeng-Guo S. Chen 171 Notes Works Cited Index

187 227 245

CONTRIBUTORS

David Allan is Reader in History at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Yasuo Amoh is Professor Emeritus at Kochi University, Japan. John D. Brewer is Professor of Sociology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Jeng-Guo S. Chen is Assistant Research Fellow, Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan. Jane B. Fagg is Professor Emerita of History at Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas. Eugene Heath is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at New Paltz. David Kettler is Research Professor at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, and Professor Emeritus of Political Studies at Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario. Iain McDaniel holds a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge, England. Vincenzo Merolle teaches History of Political Thought at the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’. Annette Meyer is Assistant Professor in the Department of History of the LudwigMaximilians-University, Munich, Germany. Fania Oz-Salzberger is Senior Lecturer in History and Director of the Posen Research Forum for Political Thought at the University of Haifa, Israel, and Professor and Chair in Modern Israel Studies at Monash University, Australia. David Raynor teaches in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Ottawa, Ontario. Craig Smith is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of St Andrews, Scotland.

INTRODUCTION Eugene Heath and Vincenzo Merolle

The writings of Adam Ferguson (1723–1816) offer insights into history, society and politics, challenging us to reconsider our conceptions of human nature and to reflect more deeply than we otherwise might on the moral demands of modernity. Renowned for his masterwork, An Essay on the History of Civil Society, Ferguson is also the author of political pamphlets, treatises of moral and political theory, a history of the Roman Republic and, late in life, numerous unfinished essays. Influenced by the Stoics and by Montesquieu, among others, he was in steady engagement with (and was sometimes critical of ) contemporaries such as David Hume, Adam Smith and Thomas Reid. Not a formulaic thinker, Ferguson seeks to defend and articulate the institutions of liberty, while nonetheless reminding us of the call to lead good, rather than merely pleasurable, lives. Ferguson’s works, spanning several decades, exhibit a general consistency of outlook. He rejects the claims and assumptions of social contract theory and argues instead for man’s immersion in history. He accepts our natural sociality but recognizes that we are also prone to conflict and opposition (and that these qualities help ensure progress). Though he embraces ideas of liberalism, he nonetheless worries over some of its moral consequences. He adheres to Stoic and teleological perspectives on human nature and moral goodness, and he espouses a theory of objective moral judgement that also grants a place for ethical sentiment. And though he suggests that the institutions and patterns of society may emerge in an unintended fashion, he defends vigorous political participation and moral leadership. Despite Ferguson’s sometimes difficult writing style, its content conveys a sense of ease and congeniality, perhaps because his originality has the familiarity of genuine insight. For example, he describes us as animal and rational, ambitious and indolent, competitive and social; we are prone to habit yet obliged to maintain moral vigour. Thus does Ferguson – no reductionist he – recall the complexity of human nature, how it manifests countervailing tendencies. Such plural and varying dispositions may balance each other, but they also demand –1–

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the individual’s moral guidance and energy. We are, after all, creatures whose natural end is to live in liberty and for whom despotism is a continual threat. In sum, Ferguson is a modern thinker, not wholly comfortable with modernity. At one point in his Essay (II.iii) he remarks how ‘We are generally at a loss to conceive how mankind can subsist under customs and manners extremely different from our own … But every age hath its consolations, as well as its sufferings’. Such a conclusion reflects the character of Ferguson’s thought. An evaluation and assessment of a nation or period must weigh the varying goods of life, the plural character of our dispositions, and the possibilities of circumstance. During the eighteenth century, Ferguson’s works were widely known and translated. Over the course of time, his fame has receded somewhat, but his books, pamphlets and essays still fascinate. It is not altogether surprising, then, that an increasing number of scholars have come to recognize his significance, as manifested by scholarly essays, by a new edition of his Essay, and by the publication of both his letters (The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson) and, more recently, his papers (The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson). Given the growing interest in his thought, it is surprising and lamentable that there is no collection of scholarly essays devoted to this thinker. Two tandem volumes seek to remedy this lacuna. Reflecting Ferguson’s breadth of interests, the essays collected here (and in a second volume, entitled Adam Ferguson: Philosophy, Politics and Society) are authored by historians, philosophers, sociologists and political scientists. This first volume takes up topics relating to the intersection of Ferguson’s life and work, his political and diplomatic activity, his understanding of history, and his perspectives on human nature, action and progress. The second volume focuses on Ferguson the philosopher, moralist, and political theorist, taking into account his critiques of the moral thought of David Hume and Adam Smith, as well as the complex and varying interpretations of his political, social and moral theories. Each essay, original to the volume, seeks to re-evaluate an idea, theme or argument, or to reassess Ferguson’s relations to other important thinkers. As a whole, the essays range over all of his major works, as well as his pamphlets, unpublished essays and lecture notes.

Life and Works Born in Perthshire, on the edge of the Highlands, Adam Ferguson studied divinity, became a chaplain to the Black Watch Regiment and later secured a professorial chair at Edinburgh University. Engaged in the political life of his nation and immersed in the social and intellectual circles of Edinburgh, Ferguson has long been regarded as a thinker whose Scottish identity must be germane to his writing (and, thus, to our understanding of his thought). In the opening essay of this volume, ‘Ferguson’s Epistolary Self ’, John D. Brewer challenges this interpretation. Drawing from Ferguson’s letters, Brewer argues that Ferguson

Introduction

3

makes no connection in his correspondence between his identity as a Scot and his intellectual work. Brewer suggests that Ferguson’s work is mediated through his private self, a self that does not, in fact, reveal a Highland identity. Brewer concludes that Ferguson was striving to advance knowledge in general and not the particular perspectives of Scotland. From a divergent vantage point, David Allan contends in ‘Ferguson and Scottish History: Past and Present in An Essay on the History of Civil Society’ that even though Scotland does not figure explicitly in the Essay, that absence does not show that Ferguson was uninterested in the land of his birth. Indeed, Ferguson’s Essay was part of a distinct Scottish historiographical tradition. Although that work offers reflections derived from events and changes in eighteenth-century Scotland, it is also part of a European debate on the nature of society; thus, Ferguson aims to avoid a Scottish perspective that would render his analyses less than general. In canvassing some of the Scottish historical texts within Ferguson’s ken, Allan illuminates some of the intellectual (and cultural and experiential) influences on Ferguson’s work. However, it is no easy task to trace the particular books that might have influenced Ferguson’s varied and broad perspectives. As Jane B. Fagg points out in her essay, ‘Ferguson’s Use of the Edinburgh University Library: 1764–1806’, there exists scant information about his personal library. Nonetheless, it is possible to reconstruct Ferguson’s borrowings from the university library. Interweaving an account of his life and works, Fagg charts the 42-year period in which Ferguson borrowed 272 books from the library. She notes the breadth of his borrowing, including the great quantity of works on Roman history and classical sources more generally.

Ferguson in History Some of Adam Ferguson’s library visits were undertaken with an eye to preparing his classroom lectures. As a professor, he aimed to educate within a moral framework that stipulated the necessity of vigorous and virtuous political participation. Political activity should not be the preserve of specialists or experts but the concern of all citizens. In his essay, ‘Ferguson’s Reflections Previous to the Establishment of a Militia’, David Raynor offers a reconsideration of Ferguson’s argument for a citizens’ militia. In his pamphlet of 1756, the Scot contends that the manners necessary for the members of a militia are born not from military training or discipline but from the traditional use and knowledge of arms. A militia is not, therefore, a training ground for virtue but an institution that presupposes it. In this sense, Ferguson advocates a small and voluntary militia restricted to men of virtue and honour. Ferguson took an active interest in two of the defining events of the late eighteenth century. In ‘Ferguson’s Views on the American and French Revolutions’,

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Yasuo Amoh delineates Ferguson’s arguments against Richard Price, an advocate for the colonies, and chronicles his work with the Carlisle Commission, dispatched in 1778 to seek reconciliation with the Americans. Amoh describes how Ferguson’s regret at the loss of the colonies reveals, among other concerns, some mercantilist assumptions. In the case of the French Revolution, Ferguson is less the agent than the observer. Despite his hope that the ‘new Republick’ would ensure peace, he also feared a social revolution and, having lived long enough to witness the rise of Napoleon, came to worry about the threat that France posed to other nations. Ferguson’s engagement with the Carlisle Commission had given him a practical education that supplemented his worries – evident in his animadversions about the American Revolution – about trade, political expansion and the military. In ‘Political Education for Empire and Revolution’, David Kettler reviews Ferguson’s lecture notes of 1775–85 with an eye to how these notes offer students a political education on the topics of empire, expansion and despotism, not to mention the pragmatics of constitutional change. Kettler suggests that Ferguson came to believe that the despotic elements of empire might be controlled, and that even in the midst of drastic constitutional change, practical compromises and political bargaining would remain necessary.

Ferguson on History A recognition that we are situated within history, that we are creatures of circumstance and nature, is a crucial characteristic of modernity. As a historian, Ferguson was never concerned solely with a chronology of events or facts. For him, history is not one element of human experience; rather, human experience is within history. History reveals the dispositions of human nature. And natural history shows how humanity develops out of the crucible of nature, circumstance and institution. In the first part of An Essay on the History of Civil Society, Ferguson employs history – including the historical literature of and about the ancients, as well as reports submitted by modern travellers – to understand and to illustrate human nature. In other instances, he employs history to reveal patterns, shifts and changes that constitute progress or decline. Just as Montesquieu sought to locate the various causes of distinct modes of governing, Ferguson recognizes that the events of history cannot be encapsulated in a single agent’s intention or some moment of explicit agreement. Thus the task of historiography, both in its narrative form (as in his history of the Roman Republic) and as natural history (as in his Essay) remains that of providing explanatory narrations. However, Ferguson never abandons prescriptive or didactic insights into the nature of government, the relevance of virtue or the threat of political and moral lassitude. In ‘Ferguson, Roman History and the Threat of Military Government in Modern Europe’, Iain McDaniel notes how Rome’s progression to empire had

Introduction

5

often been invoked, in the eighteenth century, to raise the spectre of military government. In contradistinction to Montesquieu, Ferguson contends, for example, that military and political functions should not be separated and that liberty prevails only if the spirit of the nation remains vigorous. A military dominated by the lower ranks of society could result in the usurpation of political power by demagogues, not to mention international conquest and military empire. Ferguson defends Rome’s constitution and argues that Britain’s military and political system, suitably reformed along the lines of the early Roman Republic, should include a citizens’ militia and the union of civic and military functions. Having examined the damage to the Republic from the strains of empire, Ferguson concludes that, for modern societies, the risks of despotism arise less from monarchy than from a military dominated by the populace at large. Ferguson also adumbrates methodological considerations on the writing of history. In ‘Ferguson’s “Appropriate Stile” in Combining History and Science: The History of Historiography Revisited’, Annette Meyer contends that his conception of history rests between two distinct historiographical traditions, a German-dominated and theoretical understanding of historiography and a more empiricist and Anglo-American tradition. As a result, Ferguson’s methodological contributions have been slighted. In revisiting his conception of history, Meyer explains how, in moving beyond David Hume’s understanding of the ‘science of man’, Ferguson unites an empirical understanding of historiography with a more philosophical one. In so doing, he approaches the hermeneutic understanding developed by nineteenth-century historians and thinkers and sets forth a new object of historical research – mankind.

Human Nature, Action and Progress Vigorous action has a singular importance for Ferguson. The human being is a restless creature, working to improve his circumstances, altering or modifying some feature of the landscape, or engaging in adventure or play. In ‘Ferguson’s Politics of Action’, Fania Oz-Salzberger takes up Ferguson’s belief that the human being is fully realized only in activity and exertion. Such a claim, she notes, is typically utilized with men in mind: their active and masculine natures are best cultivated and realized in civic and political life. Indeed, Ferguson understands his own account of politics to express the perspective of a participant rather than an observer. Since political freedom is a product of activity – thus does Ferguson employ the language of political virtue – politics is not to be reduced, as David Hume suggested, to a science. In ‘Ferguson and the Active Genius of Mankind’, Craig Smith describes how the concept of action is, for Ferguson, both a description of an essential aspect of humanity and the basis of a standard of moral excellence. However, our actions often

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generate unintended consequences. In what sense, then, are we morally responsible for these unintended outcomes? According to Smith, Ferguson deploys the idea of the ‘nation’ to suggest that moral responsibility for the unintended accrues at the corporate rather than the individual level. National spirit may go into decline as we dissipate ourselves in pleasure or amusement, perhaps leading to corruption as we pursue luxury to the detriment of the serious business of life. Human activity, appropriately guided, helps to secure progress. That we have the capacity to progress is a given for Ferguson and emblematic of Enlightenment thought. For him, progress, as opposed to mere change, should be understood not in terms of material wealth but as the moral, if not spiritual, capital of individuals. Many scholars take Ferguson’s theory of society to be a secular theory, in which the development of the individual or the group is unrelated to anything outside of history. Indeed, in his Essay on the History of Civil Society there is very little discussion of religion – even less, perhaps, than of his native Scotland! However, as Jeng-Guo S. Chen explains in ‘Providence and Progress: The Religious Dimension in Ferguson’s Discussion of Civil Society’, the former divinity student embeds his account of progress and civil society within a providentialist understanding of the universe. After describing Ferguson’s religious moderation, Chen discerns his use of a two-fold account of history, according to which a providential God ensures that, despite the travails of particular individuals or nations, there is an ongoing and universal progress. The thesis of universal progress, as Chen elucidates, owes much to Ferguson’s teacher, William Cleghorn. And although God ensures that progress will occur, Ferguson maintains that individuals remain responsible for their individual fates and those of their particular nations. The reader will find, in these essays, new and interesting considerations of a thinker too often neglected. Adam Ferguson’s texts not only provide insights into the events and debates of the eighteenth century but they delineate ideas that resonate still. Ferguson’s rich learning, his varied interests and his moral seriousness well justify a reassessment and a renewed appreciation of the uniqueness and fecundity of his works.

Acknowledgements An interdisciplinary collection such as this would not have been possible without the generous assistance of scholars who, through timely critical advice, have assisted the editors and contributors towards an improved volume. These individuals include Thomas Ahnert, Fiona A. Black, Richard A. Boyd, Henry C. Clark, Roger J. Fechner, Michael Fry, Ronald Hamowy, Thomas D. Kennedy, Colin Kidd, Emma Vincent MacLeod, Neil McArthur, Mark Salber Phillips, Nicholas Phillipson, Paul A. Rahe, Mark G. Spencer and Eduardo Velásquez. Their counsel has been invaluable.

1 FERGUSON’S EPISTOLARY SELF John D. Brewer

The renaissance of interest in Adam Ferguson lies mostly in the contemporary importance of civil society as a process to manage the growth of governmental and state power and smooth the vagaries of the economic market, and thus rests on Ferguson’s 1767 exposition of civil society in his famous An Essay on the History of Civil Society. Ferguson is thus associated by generations of new devotees with ideas of active citizenship in the form of engagement by people in civic affairs, ‘small government’, which has the state interfering as little as possible in people’s lives to preserve their freedom, and individual liberty and autonomy, the release of which allows individuals’ inherently benevolent natures to create economic growth, social harmony and personal enjoyment. This view neglects more long-standing interpretations of Ferguson as a civic humanist1 and critic of classical liberalism,2 and renders him an essentially American writer, speaking to themes that were redolent to the founders of the US constitution and which still strike the hearts of the American public.3 It is ironic, therefore, that Ferguson vehemently opposed the American War of Independence. He insisted on the necessity of the Americans submitting to lawful authority and his hawkishness intensified after visiting the colonies in the course of the war as secretary to the Carlisle Commission, which briefly brought him into contact with George Washington. ‘As for America’, he wrote in a letter to his friend Sir John Macpherson in 1779, ‘I thought our cause there was good and might be brought to a favourable issue’;4 he was more tolerant of the French and Irish Republicans than of the American revolutionaries. This attempt to Americanize Ferguson is deeply paradoxical for it runs counter to another long-standing and popular representation of him as a very Scottish writer, to the extent that Michael Kugler describes him as provincial in his identity and concerns.5 Ferguson much loved his native land, and never wanted to be away from it for long. In one of his letters from London in 1779, Ferguson writes to his great friend Alexander Carlyle, ‘you may tell that I pant after Scotland as –7–

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the hart panteth after the water brooks and I have always thought myself within ten days or a fortnight of it’.6 However, there are three senses in which Ferguson was a Scottish writer over and above the obvious point that he lived there and had strong and warm feelings towards it. First, as both moralist and political philosopher, Ferguson engaged in longstanding intellectual debates within Scotland about morality, human nature and virtue, and with a plethora of other Scottish writers, amongst others.7 Second, as a precursor of sociology, Ferguson’s work was influenced by social change in Scotland at the time of his writing. Political stability and economic growth in Scotland, especially after the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion,8 the development of an urban and commercial society and a civic culture that integrated commerce, industry, the universities and the intellectual social networks around the gentlemen’s clubs, coffee houses and literary and scientific societies,9 all helped to shape Ferguson’s intellectual agenda. New social and political problems arose, which Ferguson was chief in addressing, such as the alienating effects of the social division of labour, the difficulties of adjusting to the collapse of traditional mores, and the increasing risk of political instability and national decline. The popular claim amongst generations of sociologists that Ferguson was a founder of the discipline revolves around these concerns, such as his anticipation of the social functions of conflict,10 the stress laid on the negative consequences of the social division of labour,11 in particular the emergence of class conflict and exploitation,12 and the role accorded private property in social development,13 which is said to be proto-Marxist.14 The whole intellectual effervescence in social and political thought throughout eighteenth-century Scotland has been explained in a similar way as reflecting peculiarly Scottish circumstances.15 The third sense in which Ferguson is thought of as essentially Scottish is in his background as a Scotsman, in particular as a Highlander. This is the common assessment of Ferguson as a person and is deployed extensively in the secondary literature to explain his work. Biographers allude to his Highland roots, the most well-informed and dedicated of which, Jane Fagg, points to the significance of him being the only one of the Scottish literati born there.16 David Allan makes the main conclusion of his new exposition of Ferguson’s life and work that he was a Highlander from a Gaelic-speaking community personally acquainted with the subjects he wrote about.17 One purpose of this essay therefore is to reassess the impact of Ferguson’s Scottish background on his work and to suggest that the conventional view is in serious need of revision. The main evidence used is Ferguson’s correspondence, usefully collated into two volumes by Vincenzo Merolle.18 Attention is focused on the ‘epistolary self ’ that this correspondence displays – the self that is written about in the letters – and a second purpose behind the essay is thus to establish the usefulness of this approach for examin-

Ferguson’s Epistolary Self

9

ing the connection between a writer’s life and work. I argue that Ferguson did not narrate a Highland Scots identity and makes no connection himself between his life and work. First it is necessary to show how popular is the contrary view that locates his thought in the context of his biography.

Ferguson in Scotland and Scotland in Ferguson There are three issues worth separating when addressing the image of Ferguson as a Highlander whose biography supposedly shaped his work: the first is the way others routinely perceive Ferguson to be a Highlander and attach significance to this background in explaining his work; the second is whether these origins genuinely affected Ferguson’s own self-image to make him avowedly Highland in his sense of identity; the third is whether Ferguson narrates a self-image that makes its own connections between his life and work. In this section, I intend to deal with the first issue, pointing to its reasonableness as a possible interpretation of Ferguson the person and as an explanation of his thought, after which Ferguson’s letters are used to dispute these claims and to analyse the epistolary self they actually disclose. With respect to the image of Ferguson in the secondary literature, it is very fashionable to argue that his position as a Highlander undergoing social and geographical mobility by moving to the Scottish Lowlands gave him special biographical experience of the new social problems that fired his sociological imagination.19 Sir Walter Scott’s anecdote of Ferguson abandoning the Bible for the claymore at the Battle of Fontenoy and having to be told by his colonel to desist from killing, only to have a broadsword tossed at him by an unwilling warrior shouting ‘damn my commission’, is enthusiastically reiterated as proof of Ferguson’s enduring Highland ways.20 As a school friend of two of Ferguson’s sons in Edinburgh, who later became a close friend of their father, Scott’s anecdote has some authority (although Donald MacRae is the only one to attribute it to Scott). The anecdote is repeated in academic sources,21 in David Stewart’s 1822 Sketches of the Character, Manners and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland with Details of the Military Service of the Highland Regiments, in the 1895 Record of the Clan and Name Fergusson, Ferguson and Fergus compiled by clan members, and in peculiar places like ‘The Gathering of the Clans’ website. Even though the anecdote is mythology, the battle being fought before Ferguson even joined the Highland Black Watch Regiment as chaplain, and is omitted from early accounts of Ferguson’s life, Ferguson’s friends undoubtedly saw him as a Highlander. Carlyle’s posthumous autobiography, which is unusually candid for the time and which Ferguson recommended not be published,22 probably because of its frankness about Ferguson’s unsuccessful proposals of marriage to two women, describes his family as Highland.23 Robert Adam expressed concern

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about the deployment of his friend’s regiment to America, writing to his family, ‘he will be slain as sure as he’s a highlander’.24 In one of his letters to Ferguson, Macpherson expressed the hope that his friend’s ailments would be healed by his ‘Highland stamina’.25 It is not difficult to understand why friends and commentators so routinely invoke the Highlands to locate Ferguson’s work. Even though Logierait, the place of his birth in 1723, was only on the edge of the Highlands, a mere day or so away then by horse-drawn carriage from the commercial central belt of Scotland, in terms of the social construction of space in Scottish society at the time the place would have been perceived to be in the Highlands, especially to Lowlanders from the southern cities.26 Pitlochry, a few miles north up the Tay Valley from Logierait, was about as far as Lowlanders went when ‘doing the tour’ of the Highlands in the eighteenth century. Thus, despite Logierait being the seat of the head regality court of the Dukes of Atholl and the site of the large regality prison, and shown by the later Statistical Account of Scotland 1791–1799, the first of its kind, to have been prosperous and anti-Jacobite – ‘the general character of the people is sufficiently respectable; the virtues of humanity, frugality and industry, the best ornaments of human nature, flourish everywhere’27 – Logierait would have placed Ferguson as a Highlander. He spoke Gaelic and ministered in the Gaelic-speaking Highland Black Watch Regiment, reinforcing the perception of Ferguson’s Highland-Scots identity. However, this assessment is complicated by the fact that, irrespective of where Logierait might be placed in terms of the social construction of the Scottish Highlands, Ferguson’s family background would not have encouraged a Highland identity. Allan dramatizes his family background as ordinary28 but, while it may have been less affluent than many in the Lowlands, his mother was the sister of the tenth Laird of Hallhead in Aberdeenshire and descended from the Dukes of Argyll; his father, although able to speak Gaelic, was a strong supporter of the Protestant conversion of the Highlands and of the use of the English language in instruction at school. He was sometime Moderator of the Perth and Stirling Synod of the Church of Scotland and lifelong friend of the Dukes of Atholl. Ferguson grew up with the children of the second Earl of Atholl as playmates, with whom he developed an enduring friendship, and was warmly recommended for his first post as minister to the Black Watch – a regiment established to quell the clans – by a letter from the Duchess Dowager of Atholl. The Atholls were Protestant and Hanoverian – or at least, that branch of the family which patronized Ferguson occupied the ducal house because four more senior relatives were disqualified on grounds of their Jacobitism – and participated in Lowland politics; their feudal hold on land in the Scottish Highlands facilitated their position and influence in Hanoverian Edinburgh, such that the family bestrode both the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland, living life as much in cosmopolitan Edin-

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burgh as in the hills and glens. Moreover, from the age of nine Ferguson was educated in Perth, the county town, and by fifteen was studying at St Andrews, moving him to the Lowlands and away from whatever influences the Highlands might have had on the youngster. Thus Carlyle describes his close friend as having ‘the demeanour of a high-bred gentleman’.29 Ferguson had no bucolic little crofter upbringing, although it remains possible that he had the aristocratic affection for the Highlands of this social class. There is a complication to even this speculation however. Ferguson did not write a memoir and there is no direct reference by him in any of his published works to either his biographical Highland background or to Scotland. The work for which Ferguson is best known in sociology, An Essay on the History of Civil Society, makes mention of neither. The public writings at least provide no evidence of the writer’s self; Scotland – and the Highlands – are written out of the public record. This situates the importance of Ferguson’s correspondence, for it opens up the possibility of establishing Ferguson’s ‘epistolary self ’. Liz Stanley has argued that letters constitute a theatre ‘for the construction and performance of self in which the distances of time, space and the absence of face-to-face contact enables rather than disables communication’.30 In the absence of public disclosures, the Ferguson letters therefore offer the opportunity to explore in private correspondence whether he accorded Scotland a place in his sociological work and possessed a self-image that was bound up with the Highlands, as so commonly portrayed. Before these issues are explored, it is first necessary to establish the significance of letters as a genre and the nature of the epistolary self.

The Epistolary Form It is perhaps ironic that sociology’s ‘cultural turn’, which encouraged the focus on personal narratives, life-history methods and autobiographical writings, and thus raised the importance of letters as one mode of access into private worlds, has occurred just as letter writing is being superseded by new technologies that in future will make letters scarce. However, letters have existed since the invention of writing and became particularly popular with the introduction of official postal services. Letters have functioned as history, in revealing accounts of events and opinions thereon, as biography, in providing a window into the subject’s life, and as literature, in the sense that they can be about literature and be of such quality as to constitute good writing. Letters have functioned as social science to a much lesser extent. Inasmuch as history has been democratized and the significance of even ordinary people’s lives duly recognized, collections of letters from people of all social classes now entertain and inform us. Sociology’s use of letters fits this democratization of the epistolary form and, while there is some focus on the use of letters left by the grandees of the discipline and the famous,

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such as Stanley’s analysis of Olive Schreiner’s letters,31 most address the letters left by ordinary people in order to access the private worlds of the laiety. That letters emerge directly from the writer and were written without foreknowledge that they would become public documents encourages analysts to see them as containing less ‘narrative smoothing’ than autobiographies, possessing a freer style of reflection.32 Their privacy however, is both strength and weakness. Letters might open the window into people’s private thoughts, but the glass is clouded. The disclosures in letters are often partial because so much is assumed between the correspondents to require no detail or specification; so much is known to permit the need for no retelling. Sociologists of language refer to conversationalists’ tendency to ‘over suppose and under tell’ and it applies equally to letter writers. Letters are partial in another sense for they are one-way communications; the recipient rarely speaks back. The recipient, however, is the particular person to whom the correspondence is directed and helps to shape the dialogue in ways that oblige the responses of the central subject. Letters are thus not unreconstructed texts somehow unobtrusively indicative of true feelings, for the interlocutor in part socially constructs them. Every letter thus speaks of the writer’s world only as filtered through an anticipation of the recipient’s reaction. Reconstruction of the writer’s private world can also be made difficult by the fragmentary nature of the correspondence, its incompleteness and the chronological ambiguity that arises from not knowing what is missing. As well as warning us against unrealistic expectations of their personal disclosures, texts on sociological research methods caution us to be suspicious of the factual accuracy of events described in letters33 in much the same way as we should be of oral history.34 Collections of letters, irrespective of their completeness, also suffer from what the research textbooks call the dross rate,35 since they contain so much mundane cataloguing and most lack sufficient focus to be analytically interesting (unless it is the textual accomplishment of mundanity that drives one’s interest in letters); and editors who select the ‘interesting’ correspondence thereby introduce unknown sources of bias. As Stanley persuasively argues, however, we continue to use letters despite these weaknesses precisely because they are dialogical and thus reveal something of the dynamic between the interlocutors; because they are perspectival, in that they disclose the writers’ standpoint of the moment as this changes between particular correspondents and over time; and because they are emergent, in reflecting the preoccupations, no matter how mundane, of the writers and the cultural and rhetorical conventions for the articulation of these concerns.36 There is another strength. Letters are both located in actual things, as Stanley puts it,37 and about actual things: they are referential of the social setting in which they are written and disclose something of the lives of the writers. In this lies their usefulness

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to social scientists, historians and biographers. They have another value to sociologists, however, for letters involve what Stanley calls ‘a performance of self ’ by the writer but, crucially, one that is affected inter-subjectively by the writer’s awareness of the ‘writing self in waiting’ of the intended recipient.37 This gives the epistolary self, as it might be called, the same ‘looking glass’ quality as the self-presentation done in normal social interaction, making it no different from the way sociology understands the social self generally. Even so, Stanley reminds readers that letters ‘do not contain evidence of “the real person” but traces of this person in a particular epistolary guise and as expressed at successive points in time and to a variety of people’.38 If we refer to this capacity to perform the self in letters as the epistolary self, it seems to have at least three dimensions: a) the rhetorical styles, literary conventions and epistolary devices the writers adopt in the correspondence as part of their performances of self; b) the traces of personality, personal life and personal preoccupations the writers disclose; and c) the tendency to narrate self, either deliberately in order to convey a preferred self image or unintentionally. It goes without saying that the epistolary self changes over time and with particular correspondents and that multiple selves are likely to be performed, sometimes simultaneously. In archives of long-established correspondence, these changes in epistolary self across time and interlocutor permit longitudinal analysis that is impressive in its range. In the following section, I begin to apply this formulation to Adam Ferguson, in particular to reassess the connection between his life and work.

Ferguson’s Epistolary Self The collection of Ferguson letters is an unusually complete and comprehensive archive that includes the occasional letter from his correspondents; and since his was a particularly long life (1723–1816) the archive, which begins in 1745, stretches for nearly three quarters of a century. There is much in it that would interest the historian and biographer as Ferguson describes some of the events he was involved with, such as the American War of Independence, or which occurred during his lifetime, such as the Gordon Riots, the United Irishmen rebellion and the French Revolution. He reflects on important scandals that touched him, such as instances of political corruption and religious censorship. His correspondents include important literary and historical figures – Adam Smith, David Hume, Edward Gibbon, Voltaire, Scott and Carlyle – as well as family, booksellers, publishers and politicians. He corresponded with aristocrats and artisans, and there was ‘high politics’, notably in his correspondence over international and domestic policy issues, whether about colonial policy or the formation of a Scottish militia, and ‘low politics’, as Ferguson machinated over

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university appointments or the state of the Church, and manoeuvred about his pensions and over jobs for himself, his family and friends. The settings in which the letters were written change in physical space, from places he visited abroad to his several homes and places of work, as well as in their political and cultural context, as governments came and went, events unfolded, empires were lost and extended and as cultural values developed. This could not be otherwise for an archive that begins at the time of the last Jacobite Rebellion and ends within sight of the Great Reform Act. The nepotism that so offends modern sensibilities as jobs were sought for the boys – literally, as it was the fate then of women of standing not to have a career – is just one of the cultural changes that affects the letters. The preoccupations that he wrote about are as diverse as one might expect from someone who had been an army chaplain, university professor, government civil servant, popular author, member of several literary societies, farmer, enthusiastic cultural tourist and a devoted family man with a large extended family to be catered for. Overall, however, the ‘dross rate’ in the archive is high irrespective of the social class or standing of the interlocutor. Regardless of the dross though, there is much for the sociologist who is interested in glimpsing the traces of Ferguson’s epistolary self. Space forbids an extensive treatment of each of the three dimensions that comprise the epistolary self, but with respect to the first it is worth noting the different rhetorical devices Ferguson employs to assist in the performance of self. Obsequious toadying was a rhetorical device, conventional for the day, which Ferguson deployed in his performances when writing to aristocrats, extending over several lines and replete with impression management. To Lord Milton, for example, Ferguson signed himself in 1756, ‘I am with great respect / your Lordship / most obedient / and most humble servant’; not much had changed in the self performance by 1812, when he ended a letter to Lord Melville, ‘I have the honour to be with great respect / my dear Lord / your Lordships most affectionate / most obedient humble / servant’.39 As the social status of the interlocutor diminished, so did the number of lines, although formal respect and affection were still rhetorically performed even for family members and close friends, although less effusively. To Adam Smith, for example, he once wrote ‘My Dear Friend’, ending ‘I am &c’.40 There are touching moments as nomenclature in letters to his future bride changes from ‘My Dear Miss Katie’ to ‘My Lovely Katie’, and as he first signs himself off as ‘your humble servant’ and then ‘I am passionately yours’. He clearly understood the rhetorical and epistolary devices to manifest love and devotion as much as he did honour and respect. The epistolary performance as a loving husband endured over decades of marriage and in the last letter to Katharine in the archive, dated 19 October 1793, written from Venice two years before she died, he describes her as ‘My Dear Katey’ and signs himself ‘My dear Katey yours affectionately’.41

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These rhetorical devices are in part cultural conventions, but they also provide glimpses of Ferguson’s personality and personal life as the second aspect of his epistolary self. Letters display his performance as affectionate husband, caring father, reliable and trustworthy friend, and conscientious author, teacher and public servant. He has been described as famous for his temper,42 and while correspondence is unlikely to display this, the letters disclose a stoic man, who wrote to a clergyman friend reminding him that ‘matters are seldom so good as we hope or so bad as we fear’.43 It was not only Ferguson’s Christian convictions which led him to write to one correspondent, ‘the obligation of a man to serve his friend [is] as perfect as the obligation to avoid a trifling hurt to a stranger’;44 it was a measure of him as a person. He was a cordial man who liked convivial company, and letters following his retirement reveal his regret at the loss of his friends once he left Edinburgh because of the expense, although when in good health in early retirement his letters also expose an innocent pleasure in farming and country life and he would humorously regale interlocutors with tales of bulls, sheep, haymaking and the like, telling them of his tramping ‘about with unblacked boots or wooden clogs for two or three weeks together’.45 His benevolent nature ensured he moved tirelessly to position his sons in careers, to fulfil the social obligations to extended family members and friends, to place distant relatives in advantageous posts and to guarantee his family’s financial security. Altruism can be strangely self-serving though. A letter to Ferguson from Hume has his friend exhorting Ferguson to network in strategically important ways. Hume writes: ‘I had a letter from Lord Marischal today who tells me that he is to pass the winter in Edinburgh. Wait on him: you will like him extremely; carry all our friends to him and endeavour to make him pass his time as agreeably as possible.’46 He often arranged with publishers to have gratis copies of his work sent to influential people, sometimes no less than to prime ministers.47 Ferguson was mean with publishers and former employers to get his financial due and tenacious in fighting for it. Some early letters to Lord Milton detail the expenses incurred when Ferguson accompanied Milton’s son on an educational tour of Holland, and Ferguson takes care to convert the local currency into ‘British money’ and explain that he could not include sundries ‘such as candles, tea, sugar &c’.48 Even when not writing letters seeking preferment, the corpus is full of woes at the expense of buying it. Seeking funds to buy promotion for his son Adam, the third generation named thus and later to become Sir Adam, Ferguson wrote to the son of a merchant family in Edinburgh with perhaps a little too much detail for this to be just a casual enquiry as to the father’s health: ‘Adam is threatened with a remove to far and distant parts and presses for aid to buy promotion. We are straining every nerve for that purpose … You should have told me how your father holds out. He is to me the principal figure in the picture.’49 Ferguson’s constant ill health is in part excuse. His friends – and perhaps also the

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man himself – expected him to die early before realizing the means of securing his family from destitution, although the editor of Carlyle’s autobiography, John Burton, was able to record that ‘though attacked with hopeless-looking symptoms in middle life, [Ferguson] wore on to a good old age and through various chances became wealthy in his declining years’.50 High ambition for himself and his family was only in part a function of his concern with financial security, for he had a strong sense of his reputation and legacy. Letters disclose that he offered himself to aristocrats, governments, trading companies, universities and publishers in the belief that he could be useful and in order to achieve advancement. His pamphleteering had a similar impulse: the politician Sir John Dalrymple, while admitting that some of his pamphlets had been useful to the government, described Ferguson as throwing them out unsolicited.51 Carlyle describes him as haughty, jealous of rivals and indignant against any assumed superiority over him.52 However, arrogance can often be a psychological front and there was perhaps insecurity deeper than financial worries, for Ferguson veered between excessive self-promotion and uncertainty. In a letter to Bishop Douglas, when referring to his forthcoming work on Roman history, Ferguson penned: ‘I should be unwilling to make booksellers risk their money without some better grounds than their belief in my industry and talents’.53 Thus, while Ferguson could coquettishly demur on some occasions, referring to himself in one letter as merely someone who mixes ‘a little newspaper politics with natural philosophy’,54 such that an early biographer complains in one letter after Ferguson’s death that his surviving relatives ‘have not favoured me with a single article of information which has not been begged or almost extorted’,55 the attention he devoted to writing numerous iterations of his epitaph suggests someone both conscious of his social and intellectual reputation and desirous to control how it is disseminated.56 A letter to his close friend John Macpherson in 1798 first marks Ferguson’s interest in his legacy,57 meaning that he spent some parts of the last eighteen years of his life thinking about such matters, an inordinate amount of awareness. He was being only half ironic when he described himself in one of the last letters in the archive as becoming ‘my own monument’.58 Self-promotion, however, was perhaps another cultural convention of the time. Hume was heavily criticized in the nineteenth century, by Thomas Hill Green and James McCosh among others, for writing My Own Life, as if it were about cultivating fame, but the income of eighteenth-century Scottish professors like Ferguson depended largely on their popularity as teachers and writers and on preferments from the privately wealthy. Financial insecurity was thus addressed in part by excessive ambition and intellectual arrogance. Ferguson is conventional in another sense for weaving together his self and his soul.

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Iterations of Ferguson’s epitaph manifest a persistent concern with both the fate of his own salvation and those who would read it, which reveals him to have remained a devoutly religious person. This part of his personality and private life features prominently in his letters. As Allan argues,59 high levels of paternal piety and Evangelicalism, unusual for upland Perthshire, left a permanent impression on young Adam, making it unsurprising that he should join the ministry. On leaving it Ferguson implored Smith never to address him with clerical titles, ‘for I am a downright layman’,60 but Fagg notes that Ferguson never resigned from the clergy and remained a lifelong supporter of what was known as the Moderate Party of the Church of Scotland.61 An Elder who often attended general assemblies, he was critical of institutionalized religion, especially the more conservative wing of Presbyterianism, leading on one occasion to him being described as an ‘avowed deist, play-hunter, and companion of the wicked … a vile blasphemer and maligner of our Lord and his apostles’.62 Nonetheless his personal faith remained strong. There is little evidence of this from his published writings, but the letters reveal him as a religious man. This might be expected to be the case as his mortal end approached, for the year before he died Ferguson wrote to Lord William Robertson, eldest son of the historian, that he was content with ‘the happy thought that there is somewhere after death to which this nursery and school of life is no more than preparation or a prelude’.63 James Lorimer later records that a close friend of Ferguson reported that on his deathbed Ferguson turned to his daughters to remark ‘there is another world’.64 Such a comment might also be expected in times of tragedy (for example, see the letter to the soon-to-be deceased John Johnstone65), for Ferguson outlived his young wife, one son and all his contemporaries in the Scottish literati, but letters from earlier stages of his life offer no contradiction. Thus in a letter to Hume from Geneva on 6 June 1774 Ferguson wrote proudly, ‘I am now writing on the very spot where Calvin reformed the reformed churches and I feel the warmth of my zeal sufficiently against all reprobates’, although sensitive to Hume’s lack of belief Ferguson wisely added, ‘I shall not indulge it in this letter’.66 In describing to Carlyle a meeting with ‘the pious apostle Voltaire’, one of Ferguson’s letters has him self-reflecting that he has been ‘a person true to [his] faith’;67 and he occasionally quoted Scripture to his friends.68 In these and numerous ways the Ferguson letters disclose many facets of his personality too capacious to continue without neglect of the final dimension of his epistolary self, his narratives of self; in particular, the extent to which he had a self-image as a Highlander that made him aware of an experiential and biographical basis to his sociological analysis of civil society. This view, although popular, is in serious need of reassessment. Ferguson does not consciously write a self-narration – there is something in the nature of eighteenth-century sociological writings that precluded it69 – but

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his letters are replete with a writing self. He was proud of his service in the Highland Black Watch, donating a subscription in 1802, adding agreement that his name be publicly listed: indeed he begged them ‘to insert my name’.70 He even recommended ‘a few draughts of Highland air’ for longevity,71 teased Londoners that they only seemed to travel north in its rainy season, thus to see it at its worst,72 and on one occasion urged on friends the beauty of the Highland mountains that could compare with any in Switzerland.73 But he was Scottish, not Highland, in identity, and then not nationalist. After leaving the 42nd Regiment Ferguson sought Lowland parishes, his mother, wife and some close friends were from the flat east in Aberdeenshire – his close friend John Macpherson studied at the University of Aberdeen – and after working in Edinburgh Ferguson retired to border country with England before moving to St Andrews in the central belt. Ferguson was anti-Jacobite, involved in the Society for Promoting the Reading and Speaking of the English Language in Scotland and a strong supporter of the Union with England – he referred in some letters to Scotland as ‘North Britain’. He also recommended unification with Great Britain as the solution for Ireland’s travails.74 He referred to Gaelic in negative terms – vulgar,75 a dead language,76 being the language ‘spoken in the cottage but not in the parlour or at the table of any gentleman’.77 In one revealing letter to Henry Mackenzie, later editor of the 1805 Report of the Committee of the Highland Society, written in 1798, Ferguson sought to disassociate himself both from the Highlands and the Gaelic language. As to the language, it was to be avoided by persons who wished to appear loyal to the government in London and a supporter of the Union and who desired to present themselves as fashionable and respectable. It was a language ‘to be learned from herdsmen or deer stealers. It was connected with disaffection … It was more genteel to be ignorant than knowing of what such a language contained’.78 And Logierait, he asserted, ‘is barely within the limits’ of the Highlands, a place where ‘the mythology and traditions of the highland were likely to be more faint than in the interior parts’.79 To another correspondent in 1793 he described himself as ‘but a bastard Gaelic man’.80 Admittedly, it would have been very difficult in the wake of the defeat at Culloden in 1746 and the rout of Jacobitism for any Highlander to appear to be disloyal to the Hanoverians, but if anything Ferguson comes closest to an avowal of affection for the Highlands when nearest in time to these events. The disavowals are views contained in letters written late in life, after living in the Lowlands virtually all his life, which suggests that an old man’s nostalgia for his youth was not impinging on his writing of self. Intriguingly, one of the undated letters in the archive but which appears to come from the period 1748–9, thus from the immediate post-Culloden period when Ferguson was still in the Highland Black Watch and not yet in his third decade, has him reflecting on a visit to

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the Highlands and comparing people’s ‘polite manners’ there with any of those in Edinburgh, Paris and Versailles. It is truly wonderful to see persons of every sex and age, who never travelled beyond the nearest mountain, possess themselves perfectly, perform acts of kindness with an aspect of dignity, and a perfect discernment of what is proper to oblige. This is seldom to be seen in our cities, or in our capital.81

These views are extraordinarily consistent with those in the An Essay on the History of Civil Society, where Ferguson extols the virtues and refinements of societies at earlier stages of social development and where he tries to disabuse readers of the belief that manners are only modern or that progress is always beneficial. Indeed, there is early evidence of great affection for his birthplace. In a footnote to this letter, Merolle records that the Chambers and Thompson Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen mentions that in the same year as the publication of the Essay, 1767, Ferguson ‘revisited the scenes of his youth and delighted the old parishioners of his father by recollecting them individually, while they were no less proud that their parish had produced a man who was held in such estimation in the world’.82 We also know from Ferguson’s letters that drafts of the ideas of the Essay were circulating at least as early as 1757–8,83 not long after the letter quoted above and before he had become established as a member of the Scottish literati, leaving open the possibility that the young Adam Ferguson wrote the Highlands into the Essay in a way that the older Adam Ferguson resisted given his later renunciation of a Highland identity. We also know from his letters that he saw the Essay as a product of an early stage of his intellectual life, since he refused any effort from publishers to revise the contents in its many later editions,84 even though he admits in other letters that he had subsequently visited places like Birmingham and Manchester and their industrial development had affected his understanding of industry, labour, skill and wealth.85 This hints at a possible biographical connection with his sociological writings. Nonetheless, we must dampen this speculation, for there is stronger evidence to the contrary. In a letter to Andrew Stuart in 1798 to thank him for sending a gratis copy of his genealogical history of the Stewarts, Ferguson wrote: ‘I am ashamed to say that hitherto the history of Scotland has interested me less than almost any Other that is Commonly read. This I should be sorry to account for without owning the defect to be in myself.’86 The force of this admission needs reiterating. Ferguson’s great friend William Robertson, with whom he shared a university, strong religious faith and support for the Moderates in the Church of Scotland, wrote a pioneering history of Scotland in 1759. Personal amity seems not to have inclined Ferguson to share his interest. To abjure a relative lack of interest in Scottish history, Ferguson would also have had to resist one of the main intellectual traditions of Scotland at the time; in one of his letters

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Hume said of Scotland in 1771, ‘this is the historical age and this is the historical nation’,87 with one commentator remarking that the ‘veritable craze for historiography then formed an integral part of the broader intellectual culture of the Scottish Enlightenment’.88 However, Ferguson as an old man looking backwards in this letter proffered less interest in Scottish history than in history generally – and thereby wrote Scotland out of the Essay.89 This was perhaps obvious to some commentators at the time. Neither the contemporary reviews of the Essay in The Scots Magazine in March 1767 nor the December issue of the 1767 Annual Register mention a Scottish backcloth to the work or make reference to Ferguson’s biography. The omission in the former, based in Edinburgh, is significant for how the Essay was read by other Scots. James Beattie wrote a letter dated 30 March 1767 to Thomas Gray drawing the latter’s attention to Ferguson’s book, only to complain, ‘it is a fault common to all our Scotch authors that they are too metaphysical: I wish they would learn to speak more to the heart and less to the understanding’.90 This might be rendered in modern parlance into a desire for more practical and less abstract knowledge and, if so, it marks the recognition even then that Ferguson was a great analyst of society but had no Highland writing self. Ferguson’s contribution to sociology was that he developed abstract theories of society; to search for mention of Scotland in them is in vain. Gray’s reply supports this observation, for on 12 August 1767 he wrote back: ‘I have read over (but too hastily) Mr Ferguson’s book. There are uncommon strains of eloquence in it, and I was surprised to find not one single idiom of his country (I think) in the whole work.’91

Conclusion It might be argued that in a general sense Scotland, and the Highlands in particular, feature as a kind of ‘elective affinity’ to the Essay, as Max Weber once famously described the circuitous connection between Calvinism and the spirit of capitalism. It seems self-evident to those who claim thus that Ferguson had Scotland on his mind when, for example, he valorized in the Essay small, independent nations, professional armies, mixed government and ‘moderate’ religions, amongst other things. The question that confronts this argument is why Ferguson never mentions this in either the public record or his private correspondence. One explanation is simply that he was unaware of it: that the experiential base to his work went unrecognized by him. This would unveil a level of negligence so out of character with his intellect to enable us to rule it out instantly. To claim that Ferguson did not realize he had not mentioned Scotland or his Highland origins in his work, and that he failed to see that he had not reflected on the connection between his life and work, is absurd. Another

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explanation is that he deliberately concealed it: that it was recognized but unacknowledged. There is sufficient substance to this claim to warrant elaboration. In a series of works, Craig Beveridge and Ronald Turnbull92 reviewed the state of historiography in Scottish historians writing about their country and pointed to an ‘inferiorism’ that Frantz Fanon observed originally amongst members of colonized countries in relation to the metropolitan society. This revealed itself in a ‘Scottish inferiority complex’ towards England,93 in portrayals of Scotland as the rudest of European nations, backward, undeveloped, dismal, primitive, superstitious and the like,94 and in assimilationist attitudes towards the British state that reflected how their minds as well as their nation had been colonized.95 Scotland thus got written out of Ferguson’s public and private writings in this view because he was ashamed of it; conscious of Scotland’s relative obscurity he was reluctant to harp on about the place and to appear an interloper on a wider cultural scene based around London, Paris or Rome. Thus, the argument runs, Ferguson was intellectually European precisely because biographically he was Scottish. This claim is consistent with George Elder Davie’s argument that the Scottish literati wrote about matters in Scottish intellectual discourse with only sparing reference to the national experience that had brought them to light – and sometimes with no reference at all – because they had internalized the mythology of Scottish inferiority.96 By nature this is an inhibition that is supposed to affect only the public record, but there is no evidence whatsoever in his private correspondence that Ferguson subscribed to this pejorative view of Scotland. As we have seen, in some letters he waxed lyrical about the Highlands and aspects of Highland life, and on one occasion admitted to panting after Scotland as a hart does for water.97 His letters do reveal him to be an assimilationist with respect to the Act of Union, referring, as we have seen, to Scotland as North Britain, but, as Murdoch has argued,98 some eighteenth-century Scottish intellectuals enthusiastically embraced the imperialist project and Beveridge and Turnbull later admitted that support for the Union was not always begrudging or belittling, being perceived by some as a gateway to prosperity and opportunity for Scotland.99 Ferguson did not veer to the other extreme and participate in the social construction of the mythology of the Highlands, reminiscent of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s romanticization of the ‘noble savage’, a tendency of which, according to Charles Withers,100 some eighteenth-century Scottish writers were guilty. In their analysis of Scottish historiography, Beveridge and Turnbull argue correctly that Ferguson was opposed to the ‘collection of fictions’,101 and preferred instead to proceed in an empirical manner consistent with the great successes of natural scientists. This realism perforce prevented Ferguson from contributing to the idealization of Scotland, and the Highlands in particular, and may constitute another reason why no overt idiom of his country can be found in his

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work. To imbibe either inferiorism or idealization would have offended Ferguson’s burgeoning sense of social scientific realism. This reinforces the argument here about the quality of Ferguson’s sociological perspective. He was seeking to advance knowledge of society in general rather than of a specific country, leading to the development of knowledge about society in the abstract rather than of Scotland in particular. Hence the public record is denuded of any specific references to his homeland, not because he felt it inferior nor simply that he refused to idealize it, but by reason of his sociological perspicuity. However, the main thrust of this essay has been to suggest that there is a special connection between the public-private spheres in Ferguson’s life that shapes his thought. It has been argued that Ferguson’s writings in the public sphere are mediated by a private self that, as revealed in his letters, opens a window to his senses of self and identity in epistolary form, an epistolary self, as it were, that is constructed and displayed in his letter writing. Contrary to conventional portrayals of the biographical impulse to his thought, Ferguson’s private correspondence discloses no Highland identity and self image and Ferguson avoids narrating his own connection between his life and work. This private self mediated the public work and is primary among the factors explaining why Scotland was written out of Ferguson’s sociology.102 The secondary literature is dominated by the view that Ferguson was a Highlander by selfhood and identity and wrote the Essay as a biographical account of his own transition to the Lowlands. Ferguson does not directly reflect on these matters in his letters but, as we have seen, the epistolary self that is nonetheless glimpsed is more complex than popularly portrayed. The analysis of Ferguson’s letters thus supports the case for a modern reassessment of the connection between his life and work.

Acknowledgements I am grateful for the comments of Liz Stanley on this and related work and for the helpful suggestions of the editors and anonymous reviewers.

2 FERGUSON AND SCOTTISH HISTORY: PAST AND PRESENT IN AN ESSAY ON THE HISTORY OF CIVIL SOCIETY David Allan

Adam Ferguson has always provided a face for every occasion. To some he is a pioneering theorist of ‘civil society’, a concept (or, rather, body of concepts) that he developed in important new ways to which latter-day exponents like Ernest Gellner have found it easy to relate.1 To others, writing in the wake of William Lehmann and Ronald Meek, he is a founder of academic social science, by turns an early sociologist and an anthropologist.2 To yet another audience, he belongs, along with his friends Adam Smith and David Hume, to the grand tradition of classical political economy. Accordingly An Essay on the History of Civil Society is, depending upon one’s own tastes, either an early exposition of historical materialism, replete with warnings about the effects of ‘alienation’ consequent upon the ‘division of labour’ (an interpretation traditionally favoured both by certain sociologists and by most Marxist readers), or else a notable staging post on the high road to the ideals of free-market liberalism (the view of political philosophers such as Friedrich Hayek).3 For still others, particularly among recent historians of political thought, he is a leading representative in eighteenth-century Britain of the classical republican or ‘civic humanist’ tradition, effectively linking the ideological concerns of the ancient city-states directly with those of modern commercial society.4 And this, of course, is to say nothing of yet other roles in which Ferguson can plausibly be cast – his position, for example, as a best-selling historian of Rome, one of Edward Gibbon’s most talented eighteenth-century colleagues; his long and influential career as a teacher and writer on moral philosophy, in which he shaped minds as important as that of Dugald Stewart; or even, as a nonagenarian, his slightly melancholy position as the last relic of the Enlightenment, friend of the young Walter Scott and, wrapped against the Scottish winter, Henry Cockburn’s fondly remembered ‘philosopher from Lapland’.5 – 23 –

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Small wonder, then, that Ferguson’s most acute modern interpreter, David Kettler, observed more than forty years ago that, despite the quality of the work that has long highlighted the different strands to his intellectual career (and which, it might be added, has continued to accumulate impressively since Kettler wrote in 1965), ‘none of these authors has succeeded in carving out his special subject matter without doing some violence to the integrity of Ferguson’s total production’.6 Arguably the most important reason for this failure to see Ferguson’s work as a whole has been the tendency, encouraged by the interest shown in his ideas by such radically different scholarly and ideological groupings – many not conspicuously grounded in historical study – to decontextualize his intellectual achievements. This has meant in particular that Ferguson’s immersion in the peculiar perspectives and concerns of eighteenth-century Scotland, and in the society and politics of Hanoverian Britain, has too often been downplayed. Yet the outlines of an argument in persuasive defence of such an approach are not hard to make out. After all, it is a remarkable feature of Ferguson’s greatest work that, on the face of it, it appears oblivious to its immediate Scottish context. In fact, the reader of An Essay on the History of Civil Society, then as now, could quite easily work through its densely argued pages, and, if he or she knew nothing about Scotland in the age of the Enlightenment, still emerge without having identified any specific connections between Ferguson’s arguments and the contemporary preoccupations of his fellow countrymen. The almost complete invisibility of Scotland as a formal presence in the Essay is, the more one thinks about it, one of the work’s starkest and most intriguing aspects. It is certainly a highly unusual characteristic for what has become one of the most widely praised works of the Scottish Enlightenment, and something that clearly distinguishes it from the other similar works with which it is now most commonly bracketed. In The Wealth of Nations, for example, Scotland, the Scots and things Scottish intrude explicitly on dozens of separate occasions. At times they are introduced merely to exemplify general points. At others they form a significant part of Adam Smith’s overt argument. In Book II alone, Smith discusses inter alia the Scottish provincial banking system and the effects of the growing circulation of money.7 In Book III, mention is made of Scottish leasehold tenancies and the customs of Highland hospitality.8 In Book V he turns to the administration of justice, the parish school system and the organization of the Presbyterian Church.9 Similarly in Hume’s History of England (or Great Britain, as the work, significantly, began its life), Scotland again features prominently. We are treated to a typically equivocal analysis of Mary, Queen of Scots, for example; and we hear repeatedly of Scottish events that affect the course of English and British history, from the first invasions of the Scots and the Picts to the Convention Parliament in Edinburgh in 1689.10 As to other works from out of the same stable, it would be otiose even to ask the same question of William

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Robertson’s History of Scotland, or, for that matter, of parts of the oeuvres of Lord Kames, Robert Henry and the two Dalrymples, Sir David and Sir John.11 Suffice it to say that Scotland looms predictably large for each of these writers not only as a familiar and convenient source of specific historical examples but also from time to time as the main focus for more concerted argument and polemic. However, An Essay on the History of Civil Society is strangely and singularly different from these companion pieces that emerged at roughly the same time, in approximately the same intellectual environment and from within Ferguson’s own Edinburgh-based circle of friends and colleagues. The word ‘Scotland’, after all, occurs in the Essay but once, in Part III. Even this, moreover, is merely a crossreference, tersely footnoted, to a passage in Robertson’s history of the country.12 On closer inspection it turns out to be only the exception that proves the unvarying rule. For Ferguson’s borrowing from his friend’s work actually concerns not Scotland itself but rather the general feudal settlement of early medieval Europe. Their own country is not mentioned at all in the Essay. Nor are the Scots as a people; and, as strikingly, one would also look in vain for the words ‘Edinburgh’ or ‘Highlands’. Even ‘Clans’, which the knowing reader might easily associate with Scotland, are in fact referred to on five separate occasions, but always as a form of social organization broadly characteristic of ‘rude’ and ‘primitive’ tribes living in extended territories: again, specific connections with the inhabitants of the Scottish mountains are never drawn out.13 We cannot, of course, explain this simply by insisting that Ferguson was unconcerned with Scotland. He was, as we know, prominently involved in a series of symbolic national campaigns – over the Scots militia and over Ossian – throughout the years during which the Essay was being conceived and written. His patriotic credentials, in short, are unimpeachable. It is also not possible to argue that he was studiously uninterested in subjects that bore directly upon Scotland’s past development and present condition – notwithstanding his seeming candour in 1798 in a letter to Andrew Stuart in reporting that ‘I am ashamed to say that hitherto the history of Scotland has interested me less than almost any Other that is Commonly read’.14 As we shall see, the Essay was actually brim-full with material that reflected Ferguson’s deep curiosity about matters very close to home. Indeed, it is hard to imagine the Essay having taken the form that it did without Ferguson’s profound indebtedness to a rich tradition of Scottish historiography, as well as to contemporary social and political commentary on the country and its distinctive circumstances. It is with reconstructing some aspects of this unacknowledged Scottish context to Ferguson’s greatest work, and also with offering a potential explanation for his unwillingness to foreground his keen interest in Scotland itself, that the remainder of the present essay is chiefly concerned.

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Historiography in ‘the Historical Nation’ ‘This is the historical Age’, observed an amused and admiring David Hume in August 1770, ‘and this the historical Nation’.15 As an apothegm, this has for many modern scholars come to characterize – rather more straightforwardly than Hume’s equally well-known but far more cryptic obiter dictum about ‘the Science of Man’ – the core intellectual project of what we now know as the Scottish Enlightenment.16 Certainly it appears to describe, with uncommon neatness and accuracy, the enterprise in which Scotland’s eighteenth-century intelligentsia were most often involved. For it was already a commonplace that historiography was quantitatively the most significant field of inquiry to which they had contributed, even coming to seem to many contemporary observers a subject that the Scots had effectively made their own: ‘The fashionable study (for there are fashions in study,) of topography, poligraphy, and partial history’, commented the Monthly Review in 1791, though probably at least three decades too late for any of its better-informed readers, ‘has begun to make its appearance in the northern capital of our island’.17 More than moral philosophy, the academic discipline that several of the leading literati (Ferguson included) formally professed, or even the natural philosophy with which the prestigious methodologies of Francis Bacon and Sir Isaac Newton were associated (again, it is interesting that Ferguson had taught this particular subject before his translation in 1764 to Edinburgh’s vacant moral philosophy chair), history was the territory on which many of the most challenging investigations and insightful theories of the Scottish Enlightenment came to be founded. It was also a subject that, despite not yet being properly institutionalized within the university curriculum, was a wellestablished literary and intellectual pursuit. Moreover, it possessed a substantial and distinctive Scottish heritage that stood behind Ferguson and his colleagues as they wrote their own studies of the past. One particularly important function that historiography had always served in Scotland had been the definition, sometimes in the most perilous circumstances, of the Scottish people’s collective identity. Most modern scholars trace the origins of formal historical writing back to the fourteenth-century Wars of Independence and above all to John Fordun, whose Scotichronicon (c. 1384–7), in many ways a counterblast to English claims of overlordship, weaved an inspirational story of Scottish fortitude and national consciousness stretching far back into the mists of mythical time. Others followed where Fordun and his continuator Walter Bower had led. In effect, they conceived the Scottish past in ways that addressed the unresolved problem of Scotland’s hotly contested political and ethnic autonomy within the British Isles. Hector Boece, for example, used his Scotorum historiae (1526) to re-assert Fordun’s narrative rather less prosaically, even as his contemporary John Mair, a Paris-based scholar precociously

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interested in rapprochement between Scotland and England, produced the Historia maioris Britanniae (1521) in which unionism was promoted by offering a notably irenical account of the two peoples’ intimate relations and natural affinities. George Buchanan’s Rerum Scoticarum historia (1582), one of the most controversial works ever written by a Scot, again worked within the FordunBoece tradition to defend Scottish separatism even as his king and former pupil James VI was, as things turned out, preparing for a gilded future as the first ruler of both of the British kingdoms. It is worth underlining that each of these earlier texts actually retained acute relevance in Ferguson’s lifetime and that all of the leading historians and historical theorists of the Scottish Enlightenment, Ferguson included, knowingly operated in their looming shadow. For not only did they continue to speak to mid-eighteenth-century Scots readers in ways that still resonated, they also attracted renewed attention and controversy in the more propitious circumstances for free scholarly exchange and publication created by the dawning of the Enlightenment. Mair’s work, for example, was republished by subscription in 1740, when Ferguson was still a St Andrews undergraduate. Even more importantly, in 1759, the very year that Ferguson regaled his friends with a draft ‘Treatise on Refinement’ – the embryonic work from which the Essay would be born eight years later – the Scotichronicon was finally published in its entirety by Walter Goodall, long-standing sub-librarian at the Advocates’ Library, the great Edinburgh research institution by which in that same year Ferguson himself was still gainfully employed as keeper. Buchanan’s text, meanwhile, which had enjoyed a more continuous currency precisely because of its perennially contentious nature, remained the focus of much scholarly acrimony. As always this tended to revolve around the work’s espousal of partisan Presbyterianism and populist politics, features which in the eighteenth century principally attracted criticism from yet another long-time employee of the Advocates’ Library, the Jacobite and episcopalian scholar Thomas Ruddiman (who in 1715 had published Buchanan’s complete works). Specific historical controversies generated by this still-vigorous older tradition also continued to convulse Scottish scholarship in the age of the Enlightenment. Above all, 1754 had seen the publication of Goodall’s own riposte to Buchanan’s allegations of Mary Queen of Scots’ complicity in the murder of Henry Darnley (An Examination of the Letters of Mary Queen of Scots), while in 1759 appeared Robertson’s more measured rehabilitation of the unfortunate queen’s reputation in the History of Scotland, as well as William Tytler’s aggressively supportive Inquiry, Historical and Critical into the Evidence Against Mary, Queen of Scots. Indeed, Mary, mainly vindicated from her Buchananite detractors, now became a lasting fascination for Scottish (as for English and European) writers – a touchstone not only for less dogmatic approaches to Scotland’s religious history but

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also, more widely, for the need for historical impartiality, for the progressive sentimentalization of the past and for more tolerant attitudes (encouraged, perhaps, by the growing female readership for historical literature) towards women in positions of power.18 Rather than being only of antiquarian interest, therefore, the long heritage of medieval and Renaissance historical writing in Scotland, with its strong focus upon the country’s identity and upon those people and those issues on which it seemed to pivot, still formed a living part of the national culture in which Ferguson and his contemporaries unavoidably thought and wrote. A second aspect of the historiographical heritage by which Ferguson, like his Enlightenment colleagues, could hardly fail to be influenced, was again the product of Scotland’s distinctive cultural development. For the complex interweaving of the influences of the Renaissance and the Reformation had served to create a tradition of historical writing in which essentially moralistic concerns enjoyed particular prominence. This characteristic drew as much from the canons of Calvinist preaching as it did from the conventions of humanist rhetoric.19 At one extreme this was displayed in John Knox’s own Historie of the Reformation of the Church of Scotland (1644), one of the most partisan works of Protestant historiography ever penned. Here Scotland’s putatively Presbyterian identity and the moral rectitude of the reformist tradition were not only described but also strenuously asserted. Other works in similar vein followed in Knox’s wake – an important example emerging as late as the decade that saw the birth of Ferguson, Robertson and Smith, the Glasgow minister Robert Wodrow’s martyrological treatise The History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland (1722). At the other end of the spectrum lay largely secular texts, basically humanist works of aristocratic hagiography and political narrative but also shot through with a strong moralizing flavour, much concerned with instructing their readers as to values and proper conduct, such as David Hume of Godscroft’s History of the Houses of Douglas and Angus (1644) and Sir Robert Gordon of Gordonstoun’s Genealogical History of the Earldom of Sutherland (begun around 1615 in manuscript but properly printed only in 1813). Both of these latter works, incidentally, were strongly shaped by Roman historiography and in particular by a desire to encourage readers in the exercise of morally beneficial military skills: this emphasis upon the martial virtues was to prove another point of contact with the concerns still being evinced by Ferguson in the Essay in the second half of the next century.20 As a consequence, moreover, the profound moral responsibility of the historian himself, and an abiding interest in the judging of individuals’ behaviour, was something that Ferguson’s contemporaries continued to feel all too keenly. As Edinburgh professor John Hill put it in 1784, the year after Ferguson’s own long-awaited Roman history had appeared – though he was clearly only voicing

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in slightly more decorous language an opinion about the role of the historian that earlier Scots like Knox or Godscroft would again have shared – ‘His sensibility to every moral sentiment not only detects the least symptom of what is good or bad in human conduct, but is accompanied with an immediate apprehension of the one and abhorrence of the other’.21 Most Enlightenment authors successfully translated such thoughts from the traditional idioms specifically evoking piety, political acuity and martial vigour into a modish new language, sanctioned by the aesthetic theories of Joseph Addison and the third Earl of Shaftesbury, which spoke more comfortably of the importance of reasonableness and politeness. Yet this emphasis upon instilling moral behaviour in readers was what still seemed to many practitioners to justify the writing of history. Like all art and literature, in the opinion of George Turnbull, sometime professor of moral philosophy in Aberdeen, the only permissible purpose was explicitly to ‘promote and encourage virtue’.22 Robertson’s insistence in the History of Scotland upon the value of modern religious tolerance and Hume’s in the History that politeness was the key to modern political stability, like Ferguson’s claims in the Essay about the importance of soldierly experience in the formation of the self-respecting modern citizen, thus reflected an old assumption about the function of history. This saw the study of the past primarily as a vehicle for defining appropriate values and promoting behavioural norms among those who lived in the present. A further dimension to the native historiographical tradition that cast an influential shadow across Scottish scholarship in the age of the Enlightenment was closely related to this continued emphasis upon moralizing. This was the concern to understand the fundamental causes behind events – the reasons, in short, why things had happened, and how far and to what extent what had occurred had actually been inevitable. In the eschatological vision of human history instinctively preferred by religious propagandists like Knox and Wodrow, it was Providence that was predictably the main driving force. But something similar, alternatively (and more ambiguously) called Fortune, had also filled the same role in the humanistic writings of Gordon and Godscroft, counterbalancing and often overwhelming human will and agency. The centrality of this concern with causality, which might equally be explored in a theological or a secular idiom and which was to prove critical to the Scottish Enlightenment’s interest in the general principles underlying historical development, was nicely explained to a modern audience in 1782 by Alexander Tytler, Ferguson’s younger professorial colleague at Edinburgh. For it was Tytler who asserted that ‘the most important purposes of history, [are] the tracing of events to their causes, the detection of the springs of human actions, the display of the progress of society, and the rise and fall of states and empires’.23 Turnbull wholeheartedly agreed about the centrality of this concern, seeing it as the task of history ‘to connect human affairs, and to take an united view of God’s moral providence’, while his Aberdeen col-

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league Alexander Gerard, one of the century’s great Scottish theorists of taste and literary endeavour, argued in the Essay on Genius (1774) that ‘the true historian’ was one who ‘places facts in connexion, he rises to the sources of actions, and he pursues them through their consequences’.24 Hume’s philosophical works had, as is well known, rendered precisely this subject more problematic than ever before, above all in relation to the explanation of everyday occurrences. In his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748), he triumphantly summarized his complete jettisoning of traditional epistemological assumptions about objectively connected cause and effect: ‘The falling of a pebble may, for ought we know, extinguish the Sun, or the wish of man control the planets in their orbits’.25 The same questions raised by the need to account for the unfolding of events within ordinary experience, however, could not be easily separated from those which concerned historical theorists like Ferguson who, in the quest to develop a comprehensive ‘natural history of mankind’, wished to understand the forces that had directed the human past. It was this fascination, very much inherited from earlier generations of Scottish historians, that led in part to the particular priority that the Enlightenment’s theorists now gave to explaining the nature and causes of large-scale historical change. The principal product of this focus, much discussed by recent commentators, was, of course, the so-called ‘Theory of Unintended Consequences’, adumbrated by his colleagues in a number of different versions but articulated by Ferguson in the following manner so as to explain the emergence of social structure: Like the winds, that come we know not whence, and blow whithersoever they list, the forms of society are derived from an obscure and distant origin; they arise, long before the date of philosophy, from the instincts, not from the speculations, of men.26

Ferguson expands the same point, further emphasizing the sheer unpredictability and unconscious sources of change that the historian needs to understand if he is properly to explain the course of human affairs: Every step and every movement of the multitude, even in what are termed enlightened ages, are made with equal blindness to the future; and nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design. If Cromwell said, That a man never mounts higher, than when he knows not whither he is going; it may with more reason be affirmed of communities, that they admit of the greatest revolutions where no change is intended, and that the most refined politicians do not always know whither they are leading the state by their projects.27

This fluent account of the unplanned and unknowable nature of large-scale historical development addressed a problem that had long preoccupied those major historians who had worked in Scotland – with all of whom Ferguson was himself

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thoroughly familiar. Indeed, this passage provides an uncanny echo of the claims of Hume of Godscroft in the early seventeenth century that the historian’s role is to relate ‘men’s actions, which arrive often to unexpected events, and sometimes even to such ends as are quite contrary to the actors intentions’.28 The fullest theoretical development of these ideas in the context of the natural history of mankind, to some extent encouraged in the eighteenth century by the intriguing treatments of ‘Unintended Consequences’ already offered by Bernard Mandeville, Lord Shaftesbury and especially by Montesquieu, was also in turn to prove a central achievement of the ‘conjectural historians’ of the Scottish Enlightenment, and one to whose further popularization Ferguson in the Essay has rightly been recognized as having made a significant personal contribution.29

Natural History as National History The Essay, like the writings of several of Ferguson’s leading Scottish contemporaries, evidently belonged to a particularly complicated tradition for analysing and making sense of the past that historians in Scotland had been elaborating over several centuries. It was therefore a Scottish work in an especially important sense – in the ways in which history itself was approached and the purposes it was understood to serve – even as its own pages actually contained not a single explicit mention of the country of its author’s birth. Yet the Essay was a Scottish text in another way too. For it is directly concerned with a set of topical issues, affecting Scotland in particular, with which Ferguson’s compatriots were clearly obsessed. Indeed, the central point from which much of the intellectual energy of his thinking flowed was clearly the problem of modernity – not merely its nature and its origins but also the benefits and disadvantages that it might have brought in its train. The result was that a linked series of concerns became a particular focus of debate for those contemporaries who, like Ferguson (indeed like most subsequent historians of the period), perceived that the Treaty of Union, and the economic and social transformation of Scotland that had followed from that constitutional revolution, had together accelerated the rate of change and helped bring about a process of rapid Scottish modernization. In other words, in Bagehot’s celebrated phrase describing Smith’s endeavours, the problem for Ferguson and his friends – acting as natural historians of their species but also effectively motivated by more narrowly national concerns – amounted at one level to a need to explain how, as well as with what consequences, ‘from being a savage, man rose to be a Scotchman’.30 Most obviously, the Essay’s concern for modernity was the source of its fascination with progress as the process by which present circumstances had apparently come about. Hence, of course, the opening four sentences of the work,

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containing a famous description of the organic growth of the species – and by implication of nations and peoples too – as well as of the individual: Natural productions are generally formed by degrees. Vegetables grow from a tender shoot, and animals from an infant state. The latter being destined to act, extend their operations as their powers increase: they exhibit a progress in what they perform, as well as in the faculties they acquire. This progress in the case of man is continued to a greater extent than in that of any other animal.31

Ferguson’s account of progress in turn links intimately with his view of our mental capacities, his interpretation of how modernity became possible resting upon and leading back to a powerful analysis of human psychology in which a natural and instinctive yearning for advancement and betterment is identified as the very engine of progression. It is the fact that man is ‘equally fitted to every condition’ but ‘is upon this account unable to settle in any’, that ‘he complains of innovations’ yet ‘is never sated with novelty’, which explains why progress occurs.32 That Ferguson characterizes mankind’s ‘progressive and slow’ steps towards modernity as taking place in such diverse locations as the banks of the Orinoco, the shores of the Caspian and beside ‘The sopha, the vaulted dome, and the colonade’ should not mislead us as to the extent to which this analysis is developed with Scottish conditions and Scottish experiences specifically in mind.33 It is the transformation of Edinburgh and the Lowlands, even latterly of the Highlands, and the simultaneous emergence of an urban and commercial society in a country previously known only for its poverty and under-development, that lies behind Ferguson’s explanation of how and why progress has occurred.34 Ferguson’s ambivalence towards its implications can likewise be linked directly to the Essay’s contemporary Scottish context. For the facet of his account that was to attract special interest from Karl Marx and other subsequent readers – namely Ferguson’s evident alarm at the potentially destructive consequences of the ‘division of labour’ and his disquiet at the blighting of modernity by alienation and social atomization – was simply the response of a traditionally-minded moral philosopher who had also had unique first-hand experience of the Highlands and of army life. In particular, it is clear that Ferguson’s background in a Gaelic-speaking community and then in military service had habituated him to the usefulness of precisely those bonds of loyalty, public spirit and self-sacrifice that his beloved Roman writers had celebrated and which modern society, held together increasingly only by contractual relations, appeared to be in the process of loosening. The simultaneous transition from a past marked by conflict and perpetual striving to a present and future marked only by peace and languor would further compound this problem, altering the priorities of individuals, and thus the character of the society that they comprised, with potentially lethal implications for its cohesion and ultimate viability.

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As Ferguson argues, in one of the Essay’s more passionately moralistic passages, which it is almost tempting to read as a sermon aimed at his compatriots: We may, with good reason, congratulate our species on their having escaped from a state of barbarous disorder and violence, into a state of domestic peace and regular policy; when they have sheathed the dagger, and disarmed the animosities of civil contention; when the weapons with which they contend are the reasonings of the wise, and the tongue of the eloquent. But we cannot, meantime, help to regret, that they should ever proceed, in search of perfection, to place every branch of administration behind the counter, and come to employ, instead of the statesman and warrior, the mere clerk and accountant.35

Ferguson’s words may speak explicitly of no contemporary community in particular. But their potential application in Edinburgh and London in 1767 could not have been clearer to his first readers. It was Britain, and especially Scotland, that was in danger of becoming a nation of ‘mere’ clerks and accountants; that had lost the capacity to form and to reward courageous military leaders; that now lacked a sufficient number of far-sighted legislators. Following the worldwide British victory enshrined in the Peace of Paris just four years earlier, the unprecedented wealth that a combination of industrialization and imperial conquest were bringing to the country, and, for Scotland in particular, the experience of rapid post-Union enrichment, the political setting seemed both strangely familiar and reliably anxiety-inducing, especially for those whose horizons naturally encompassed the fall of the Roman Republic (the plunge into what Ferguson elsewhere described as a ‘ruinous abyss’).36 Other dimensions to modernity, again with special pertinence to Scottish conditions in the 1760s and about which Ferguson seems to have been especially exercised, also figure prominently in the Essay’s careful anatomization of progress. These include the role of specialization and professionalization in military affairs, a development that threatened to sever the connection – so important in the Highland society whose communal ties and capacity for collective endeavour Ferguson had always appreciated – between individual citizens and the defence of their community.37 Vital simultaneously to the proper selfexpression of each citizen, to the balancing of central governmental authority with meaningful individual liberty and to the more effective countering of external threats to the common good, military service ought to be the right as well as the obligation of members of the political community rather than the occupation of a separate class of paid professionals, as Ferguson argued throughout his campaign on behalf of a Scottish militia. Again the Essay makes recognizably the same point: If the defence and government of a people be made to depend on a few, who make the conduct of state or of war their profession; whether these be foreigners or natives;

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In the context of Scotland’s growing importance as a source of professional soldiers and commanders during the successful wars of the late 1750s and early 1760s, and the hitherto unimaginable expansion in the scale and scope of the British state’s power by the time that Ferguson was formulating the Essay, to draw attention to the potentially fatal consequences of the creation of a discrete class of military specialists for the welfare and liberties of society as a whole was necessarily to provoke uncomfortable thoughts about his own country. He explained the root of the problem elsewhere in the Essay: ‘In the progress of arts and of policy, the members of every state are divided into classes; and in the commencement of this distribution, there is no distinction more serious than that of the warrior and the pacific inhabitants; no more is required to place men in the relation of master and slave’.39 A final key concern that must link the study of the past in the Essay directly to the condition of Scotland in particular in the late 1750s and 1760s, when Ferguson was conceiving his great work, should also be noted. This, moreover, has been among the least remarked-upon features of his analysis of political history, even though, despite the absence of explicit references to the Hanoverian state, this part of Ferguson’s account clearly amounts to a strongly-worded defence of the British constitution in general and, because it was the specific mechanism by which the Scots benefited from those arrangements, of the Treaty of Union in particular. That Ferguson was an anti-Jacobite and a pro-Unionist, as well as a supporter of the system of parliamentary monarchy by which Scotland and England were governed is, of course, well known. His own father had been a staunch Presbyterian supporter of the Union and the House of Hanover, and the son’s nine years’ service as a chaplain in the British army, where he was effectively a propagandist for Crown and Church, confirms that he inherited all of the paternal loyalty. At the same time, Ferguson’s friends, including famously John Home and Alexander Carlyle, had been active in the defence of Lowland Scotland against the onrushing Jacobite host in 1745. Much of the emotional force that sustained their leadership of the militia campaign from the 1750s onwards derived from the fact that Ferguson’s coterie knew themselves to be unambiguously loyal subjects of the reigning dynasty and strong supporters of the prevailing constitution. They therefore objected viscerally to the merest hint, clearly implicit in the position adopted by those in London who refused to allow them to participate directly in the defence of their own country, that the

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political judgement of Scots gentlemen such as themselves, muskets and swords lawfully in hand, could not actually be relied upon. This makes the Essay’s arguments in favour of parliamentary monarchy all the more significant, especially given that in order to achieve this polemical outcome Ferguson needed to effect a curious sleight of hand that was by no means unknown among contemporary commentators on the Hanoverian constitution.40 This involved making the form of monarchy practised in modern Britain take on something of the character (and thus most of the proven advantages) of the republican constitutions that his political theory otherwise led him to support. In particular, establishing the role of an actively participatory version of citizenship at the heart of a properly functioning constitutional monarchy was central to the success of this necessary manoeuvre. This is why the Essay makes the intriguing claim that ‘the subjects of monarchies, like those of republics, find themselves occupied as the members of an active society, and engaged to treat with their fellow-creatures on a liberal footing’; and also why it is argued that, in such political systems, ‘every individual, in his separate capacity, in some measure, deliberates for his country’.41 At the same time it also explains Ferguson’s insistence that this peculiarly republican type of monarchy, with the institution of an elected parliament permitting substantial public involvement in the business of government, is productive of unusual levels of stability as well as liberty, creating a form of ‘mixed monarchy’ – a concept familiar from Polybius, Cicero and Montesquieu – that combines the distinctive virtues of different constitutional systems whilst avoiding their respective disadvantages. As Ferguson explains: where the people had by the constitution a representative in the government, and a head, under which they could avail themselves of the wealth they acquired, and of the sense of their personal importance, this policy turned against the crown; it formed a new power to restrain the prerogative, to establish the government of law, and to exhibit a spectacle new in the history of mankind; monarchy mixed with republic, and extensive territory, governed, during some ages, without military force.42

No finer description of the constitutional settlement bequeathed to the English by the revolutions of the seventeenth century, and no better assertion of the benefits that the Scots derived from their voluntary absorption into this peculiarly blessed form of government, could have been written, despite Ferguson’s reluctance to flesh out his point in more specific terms. Although ostensibly concerned at a high level of generality with what he chooses to call simply ‘the states of Europe’,43 few well-informed readers, already familiar with the author’s immediate environment, could have doubted that Ferguson’s mind remained firmly fixed on the analysis and the rhetorical defence of the political arrangements that currently governed his own country. In short, the Scottish present

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was clearly very much in view, albeit that it was perceived through the distorting prism of the historical past.

Universalism and the History of Humanity The Essay was to this extent and in these various ways unavoidably a series of reflections upon the multiple predicaments of eighteenth-century Scotland. It was not, however, remotely parochial. Indeed, the complete absence of explicit internal references to local conditions is in need of further explanation because it makes the Essay so unusual among the leading historical texts of the Scottish Enlightenment. It is also puzzling because Ferguson’s interests were so obviously related directly to the country in which he was writing and with whose vital interests, whether as a scholar, a teacher, or a propagandist and public campaigner, he was demonstrably so much concerned. After all, as we have seen, the Essay was certainly the product of distinctively Scottish intellectual traditions; moreover, it plainly addressed problems and questions that Scotland’s social, economic and political development – as these were understood by Ferguson and his close colleagues and friends among the Edinburgh intelligentsia – were at that very time making even more pertinent. Why, then, did the Essay fail to follow the logic of its own intensely topical agenda and disclose to its readers at least something of its strongly Scottish context? What was the source of what appears to have been Ferguson’s dogged determination – at times, given the Essay’s explicit discussion of clanship in particular, verging on the perverse – to avoid bringing Scotland itself into the spotlight? Unfortunately Ferguson did not provide us with a ready answer to this problem. But enough can be reconstructed about the circumstances in which he seems to have conceived this work to allow us to speculate about how this curious presentational strategy actually emerged. The key appears to lie in Ferguson’s preoccupations as a mid-eighteenth-century professional moralist concerned above all with how the techniques required for studying past and present societies might be made to yield philosophical principles with far-reaching economic, political and ethical implications. Clearly, as the familiar tributes to Ferguson as a ‘founding father’ of sociology have long highlighted, this is at one level merely to underline the Essay’s positioning at the junction point between moral philosophy, as that discipline was increasingly being approached in Scotland by Ferguson’s day, and the social sciences, as they would subsequently come to be identified in later times.44 Whether this situation truly makes him the first of the modern sociologists or merely the last of the traditional moral philosophers is ultimately beside the point. What matters instead is the fact that there are good reasons for thinking that Ferguson’s work, evolving in his mind and in draft versions between the late 1750s and the mid-1760s, was intended specifically as an intervention in an ongoing European debate about

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how and whether it was possible to investigate human nature and human society by properly empirical means. It was Ferguson’s great good fortune – as it was of compatriots like Hume and Smith but also Reid – that local conditions offered special encouragement to budding Scottish participants in this debate. But we should be in no doubt that this fundamentally methodological dispute was also central to the working out of the wider Enlightenment project, with ramifications far beyond the illumination of Scotland’s peculiar national history – as the enthusiastic (if not always straightforward) reception of Ferguson’s work on the Continent, and especially in Germany, further underlines.45 That Ferguson was intrigued by the problems of how and for what purpose human society should be investigated is clear from many of his observations on the subject. Many years later, in his final published work, the Principles of Moral and Political Science (1792), he argued that the student of man needed to ‘collect facts, and endeavour to conceive his nature as it actually is, or has actually been, apart from any notion of ideal perfection, or defect’.46 Much the same concern for empirical inquiry, shorn of metaphysical sophistry or other abstract preconceptions, had been evinced in the Essay, where Ferguson made sure to insist that the hard evidence of history was the only reliable foundation of all useful knowledge of the species, despite the attempts of some scholars to intrude mere guesswork and wishful thinking into the subject: … the natural historian thinks himself obliged to collect facts, not to offer conjectures. When he treats of any particular species of animals, he supposes, that their present dispositions and instincts are the same they originally had, and that their present manner of life is a continuance of their first destination. He admits, that his knowledge of the material system of the world consists in a collection of facts, or at most, in general tenets derived from particular observations and experiments. It is only in what relates to himself, and in matters the most important, and the most easily known, that he substitutes hypothesis instead of reality, and confounds the provinces of imagination and reason, of poetry and science.47

Ferguson’s principal target, here, of course, is Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose Discourse on the Origins of Inequality (1755) was explicitly referenced shortly afterwards. And this underlines how far the Essay itself was an essentially polemical enterprise, intensely conscious of the scholarly debates into which it was pitched and intended from the outset to confront and to demolish a set of arguments about the philosophical study of mankind that seemed to enjoy undeserved currency throughout Europe. This, then, was the thoroughly international context to the Essay that best explains Ferguson’s resolute refusal to fall into the trap of making his analysis lean overtly – and potentially to its considerable detriment – upon the experiences of one country in particular. Indeed, by far the most effective way of signalling the intentionally general significance of his arguments, and the uni-

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versal application of the theories that he wished to propound, was obviously to render them explicitly connected with the experiences of a wide range of past and present cultures, and to do so whilst ostentatiously avoiding reference to the specific society – necessarily particular, conceivably also unrepresentative – from which the author himself clearly hailed. It is in this connection, and in light of the perceived need to remain free of even the merest hint of parochialism (a concern that in another context Ferguson shared with many of his compatriots, who fretted continually about tell-tale ‘Scoticisms’ marring their use of English), that we would also do well to remember that, for all the unique aspects of his Scottish make-up that his biographers have traditionally and quite correctly highlighted – the Highland origins, the Gaelic fluency, a professional career in the Black Watch, and so on – Adam Ferguson was also uniquely cosmopolitan among his Scottish circle.48 Certainly he was by any standards – and particularly given the constraints facing the aspiring eighteenth-century tourist – a most intrepid traveller. He planned an abortive trip to India in 1773. Five years later he became the only one of the European Enlightenment’s major theoreticians to visit North America (having already been briefly considered as a potential governor of West Florida). By way of contrast, Robertson, who wrote famously and lucratively about the New World, never actually went there. Nor did Smith, even though The Wealth of Nations offered a number of judicious observations on the American cause. Ferguson, meanwhile, in 1793, the year that he turned seventy, even toured the ancient battlefields of Italy, ignoring the small matter of the continuing international wars so as to be able to collect useful amendments for the forthcoming new edition of his own Roman history. In short, he was, both by temperament and by dint of long and varied experience, the least insular of Enlightenment philosophers. Appropriately, therefore, his Essay, for all its connections with distinctively Scottish intellectual traditions and urgent Scottish concerns, had already amply demonstrated that it was as expansive, as wide-ranging and as adventurous as its remarkable author.

3 FERGUSON’S USE OF THE EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY LIBRARY: 1764–1806 Jane B. Fagg

Adam Ferguson’s interests were as wide ranging as his writings. Yet the sources of his thought are not always easy to locate. By the standards of the twenty-first century, the citations in his works are quite minimal. If one is to search for the historical, literary and philosophical works that engaged his attention as he prepared his lectures, wrote his essays and composed his books, then one must move outside Ferguson’s own writings. Of course, the obvious place to look is his personal library, not to mention his letters and what they reveal about that library. Unfortunately this sort of approach sheds little light on Ferguson’s sources. If this subject is to receive further illumination one must proceed to consider his use of the main library available to him, the Edinburgh University Library. An inveterate user of the university library, Ferguson borrowed some 272 titles over a span of just over 40 years. It is, of course, impossible to guarantee that he read all the books he borrowed, but it is reasonable to assume that he used them in much the same way a modern scholar would. This essay provides philosophers, historians of ideas and scholars of the book with evidence of some of the building blocks of Ferguson’s thought. Such a narrated bibliography, interwoven with reminders of his life story, seems appropriate for a biographer such as myself and should provide a new vista into Ferguson’s scholarly preparations, thereby enriching our knowledge of his thought. After describing the difficulty of discovering the content of Ferguson’s personal library, the professor’s library borrowings are recounted from 1764 (the year that a system of written receipts was set in place) until 1806, the last year in which there is any record of books being taken under Ferguson’s name. The narrative of his library borrowings is placed into the context of his life, with particular attention given to how his library selections correspond with his writing. The borrowed books that are cited in his most important publications are duly remarked. As new editions of his works appear, any additional citations of borrowed books are also noted. A brief statistical summary concludes the essay, along with an – 39 –

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appendix that lists, by author, all of the borrowed books and the year in which they were borrowed.

Ferguson’s Personal Library When Adam Ferguson died in 1816, in his ninety-third year, he left 163 folio and quarto and 1,200 octavo volumes, inventoried and appraised by Andrew and John Scott, booksellers in St Andrews, at £32 12s. and £40 respectively, or 22 per cent of the value of his household effects.1 Individual books were not listed. A few years after his death, Ferguson’s manuscripts, a collection of 32 unpublished essays which had been in the hands of Sir John Macpherson, were returned to Scotland and, for safekeeping, came into the possession of Hugh Cleghorn, a family friend present when Ferguson died. For these manuscripts, a London bookseller had ‘offered £500 for the Copy-right’.2 What happened to the books is unclear. In 1818, Dr John Lee, the intended author of Ferguson’s biography, complained to Hugh Cleghorn that when Ferguson’s daughters left St Andrews, they took with them ‘a considerable number of books which might have been of some use to me, such as Translations of Dr Ferguson’s different works, some of which in addition to the prefaces & notes of the translators, possessed [of ] the advantage of having been revised by the author before publication’.3 It has thus far proved virtually impossible to reconstruct Ferguson’s library. His correspondence provides few clues. In 1775 he wrote to a friend that he was reading James Macpherson’s new History of Great Britain. He noted that he had not completed the book because ‘the Dissipation of London is inconsistent with any reading but news Papers’.4 The following year he informed Edward Gibbon that he was reading The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and wrote to Adam Smith that he was ‘busy reading’ The Wealth of Nations and recommending it to his students.5 The following year, he thanked Lord Stanhope for Robert Simson’s unpublished posthumous works on mathematics which Stanhope had funded.6 In 1780, Ferguson asked John Macpherson to send him a copy of The Code of Gentoo Laws, which Warren Hastings had requested be compiled.7 Ferguson also read what he referred to as ‘some periodical Publication or Review or Magazine’ and was especially interested in the ‘Life of [ John] Logan’, most likely because Logan was accused of stealing the young Michael Bruce’s ‘Ode to the Cuckoo’ and other poems shortly after he died.8 In 1790 he wrote to thank an unidentified lady for recommending Archibald Alison’s Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste, remarking that ‘they have given me much entertainment & instruction’.9 In 1796 and 1797, the professor received several books, The Dictionary of Italian Geography and two copies of An Essay on the Law of Nations by Baron de Chambreis.10 On 23 December, he acknowledged the receipt of Sir Nathaniel Wraxall’s History of France from the Accession of Henry the Third to

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the Death of Louis the Fourteenth, commenting that he had ‘seen nothing else so likely to do good on both Sides of the Water’.11 In the summer of 1797 Ferguson requested that the bookseller William Creech send him the first volume and the rest of the second volume (except for number six which he already had) of Count Rumford’s Essays, Political, Economical, and Philosophical.12 In October, he wrote to his friend Alexander Carlyle that he had John Robison’s Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and Government of Europe, carried on in the Secret Meetings of Free-Masons, Illuminati, and Reading Societies; Collected from Good Authorities. He commented in another letter of the same date that he had read more of the book and thought ‘he had disclosed a scene of Villany to much good purpose’.13 The following year, his friend Andrew Stuart sent him a copy of his Genealogical History of the Stuarts that Ferguson complimented by noting ‘that hitherto the History of Scotland has interested me less than almost any Other that is Commonly read’.14 By 1803 Ferguson was nearly blind and the last two books mentioned in the letters are Sir William Jones’s Memoirs of 1804 and the second edition of Alison’s Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste, published in 1811.15 These books are obviously only a fraction of Ferguson’s library. Perhaps scholars studying the history of the book trade will be able to locate the archival materials necessary to reconstruct his holdings. Fortunately, another source is available which provides a window into Ferguson’s literary and scholarly interests. This is the record of books borrowed from the University of Edinburgh Library. Since Ferguson’s sources are not always cited and run the gamut from ancient history to contemporary ‘anthropological’ references,16 any light shed on the origins of his ideas would be valuable to scholars.

Ferguson’s Use of the University Library Ferguson had been teaching at the University of Edinburgh for three years when William Robertson became the principal in 1762, an event that C. P. Finlayson and S. M. Simpson describe as the most important single event in the history of the library.17 Robertson supervised the rigorous collection of the matriculation fees used to fund the library, recruited the efficient Duke Gordon as underlibrarian and promoted the work of professor of Hebrew James Robertson as honorary librarian, assisted by a committee of faculty curators. Ferguson served as a curator in 1765, 1767, 1768, 1773 and 1783.18 Instituted in 1764, the system used to regulate circulation involved a receipt book for the students – refundable upon the book’s return – to cover the replacement cost of the book. Each professor had his own pages to list the date, mark the volumes being borrowed and, beginning in 1773, sign his name. He did not have to make a deposit. Students, family members and friends frequently signed

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out books on the professors’ pages. After Ferguson retired in 1785, books were sometimes listed but not signed for. When the books were returned the transactions were scored out:19 for example, ‘Bord Gesneri Thesaurus 4 Vols in 2 Tom folio & Philosophical Transactions abridged by Lowthrop 3Vs4to’. With a great deal of effort and patience, it has been possible to reconstruct most of Ferguson’s entries.20 On 16 May 1764 the town council of Edinburgh appointed Adam Ferguson professor of moral philosophy, a position he much preferred to the one he had held in natural philosophy.21 In October, while preparing for his class and working on An Essay on the History of Civil Society, he borrowed all five volumes of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives in both English and Latin, an early indication of his interest in Roman history. The next month, he took George Berkeley’s Treatise [concerning] the Principles of Human Knowledge, [wherein the chief Causes of Error and Difficulty in the Sciences with the Grounds of Scepticism, Atheism, and Irreligion, are inquired into], Part I (1710). In December, he chose the second volume of John Locke’s Works, which is Book II (‘Of Ideas’) of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. The professor borrowed only two books in 1765, the year he bought his farm and took up scientific agriculture, using the modern techniques of farming developed in East Lothian. The first of these, taken in May, was a work by a Church of Scotland minister, Robert Wallace, a mathematician and leader in the establishment of the Scottish Ministers’ Widows’ Fund. Its full title gives an idea of its scope: Dissertation on the Numbers of Mankind [in Antient and Modern Times in which the superior populousness of antiquity is maintained: with an appendix, containing additional observations on the same subject, and some remarks on Mr. Hume’s political discourse, of the Populousness of antient nations] (1753). The other, in October, was a two-folio edition of Dio Cassius, probably the History of Rome. In January 1766, he borrowed The History of Philosophy: [containing the Lives, Opinions, Actions, and Discourses of the Philosophers of Every Sect], a seventeenth-century classic by Thomas Stanley. This selection was followed in March by Conyers Middleton’s [History of the] Life of Cicero (1741). In the autumn, Ferguson published a textbook, Analysis of Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy. For the Use of Students in the College of Edinburgh. In November, he checked out four philosophical works, two by fellow Scots: Archibald Campbell’s [An Enquiry into the] Original of Moral Virtue [wherein it is shewn (against the author [Bernard Mandeville] of the Fable of the Bees, etc.) that Virtue is Founded in the Nature of Things, is unalterable, and eternal, and the great Means of private and publick Happiness[,] With Some Reflections on a late Book [by Francis Hutcheson], intitled An Enquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue], published in Edinburgh in 1733. At the same time Ferguson also borrowed An Enquiry, Hutcheson’s first work, originally published in

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1725. In addition to [The True] Intellectual System [of the Universe: the first part; wherein all the Reason and Philosophy of Atheism is confuted] (1678) by Ralph Cudworth, a Cambridge Platonist, Ferguson chose the first volume of Thomas Hobbes’s Opera, which included Humane Nature and De Corpore Politico or the Elements of Law. In mid-December, he took out the first volume of the Works of Sir Francis Bacon, probably On the Proficience and Advancement of Learning, Divine and Humane. The year 1767 saw the publication of Ferguson’s most famous work, An Essay on the History of Civil Society. The only volumes borrowed from the library and cited in this edition were Dio Cassius and Plutarch. His library use that year was limited to Johann Georg Graevius’s 1684 edition of Cicero’s [Orationes ex recensione] [Revised Speeches]. The following year, while preparing his Institutes of Moral Philosophy for the Use of Students in the College of Edinburgh, based on his lectures, he borrowed only two books. In mid-November he took Johann Matthias Gesner’s 1749 [Novus linguae et eruditionis Romanae] thesaurus [New Repository of Roman language and learning], four volumes in two folios, and John Lowthrop’s abridgement of Philosophical Transactions and Collections [from 1665] to the End of the Year 1700, part of the history of the Royal Society, published while Isaac Newton was its president. Ferguson published his Institutes in 1769, citing only Lowthrop and Wallace from his library selections. He then began a period of heavy library use in preparation for his Roman history. As he wrote to Edward Gibbon in 1776, ‘I have … been employed at any intervals of Leisure or rest I have had for some years, in taking notes or collecting Materials for a History of the … Roman Republic’. He added ‘as my trade is the Study of human Nature I coud not fix on a more interesting Corner of it …’.22 In January he borrowed two folios of Strabo’s [Geographia] [Geography] and [Obadiah Walker’s] 1692 The Greek and Roman History Illustrated by Coins [& medals: representing their religions, rites, manners, customs, games, feasts, arts and sciences: together with a succinct account of their emperors, consuls, cities …]. Along with these, he took Guillaume Budé’s De Asse et Partibus [On the As [a Roman coin] and its Parts] (1522), which also described ancient measures. In March he selected the recently-published Commentaries [on the Laws of England], first and second volumes – ‘Of the Rights of Persons’ (1765) and ‘Of the Rights of Things’ (1766) – by William Blackstone, which he cited in his Principles many years later. In April, by a separate receipt, Ferguson borrowed [An Abridgement of Mr.] Locke[’s An Essay Concerning humane [sic] understanding] by John Wynne (1700). The abridgement was supported by Locke and served as an introduction to his thought. Along with Wynne’s work Ferguson took [The Procedure, Extent, and] Limits of Human Understanding, a critique of Locke, published anonymously by Peter Browne, Bishop of Cork and Ross (1728). Robert Sheringham’s

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De Anglorum gentis origine disceptatio [Treatise on the Origin of the English People] (1670) was another choice, as was [Roman History] by Dio Cassius, edited by N. C. Falconius (1747–9). A week later the professor checked out six more books. Two are sources for social history: [ Johann August] Ernesti’s edition of Noctes Atticae [Attic Nights] by A[ulus] Gellius from the first century ad, and Isaac Casaubon’s 1612 edition of Deipnosophistae [Table Talk of the Learned] by Athenaeus [of Naucratis] from the second century. Along the same line was [Ambrosius Theodosius] Macrobius’s Opera, edited in 1670 by [ Jakob Gronovi[us], which included the Saturnalia [The Festival of Saturn]. Another was Dio Cassius, [Roman History], edited by Johannes Leunclavius in Frankfurt in 1592. This selection was accompanied by Epitome do[i]nis, an abridgement of the same work, prepared by [ John] Xiphilinus of Constantinople (1750–2). The sixth was Pliny the Younger, Natural History, edited by J. Harduinus in 1685. Only ten days later the Professor returned for six more books. He selected Glossarium Mediae [et Infimae] Graecitatis [Glossary of Medieval and Late Greek] by Charles du Fresne, seigneur DuCange (1688), in two folio volumes, and De jure [jurando] veterum, [imprimis] Rom[anorum] [On the Oath-Taking of the Ancients, particularly the Romans] by Theodorus Regnerus de Bassenn (1728). Another was most likely Ovid’s Signii Fasti Romani [Roman Holidays], though Ferguson did not list the author’s name. In a return to an earlier interest he borrowed Arbuthnot’s On Coins. He also checked out Diodorus Siculus’s [Historical Library] in two folio volumes and Strabo’s [Geography], also in two folio volumes. Pressing on with his work on the Roman history, on 16 May Ferguson took the Opera of Sextus Julius Frontinus, which included De aquaeductibus urbis Romae [On the Aqueducts of the City of Rome] and De strategematibus [On Military Strategy]. Continuing with military history, Ferguson borrowed Aelianus [Tacticus], De Militaribus Ordinibus Instituendis [Tactics of Aelian or Art of Embattailing an Army after the Grecian Manner] (1552), a famous military treatise. The last book that day was Julius Obsequens, Prodigies, which describes unnatural occurrences. It was near the end of October when Ferguson returned to the library. He selected two of Cicero’s works, Somnium Scipionis [Scipio’s Dream] from Book VI of On the Republic and his Epist[olae] ad familiares [Letters to Friends] in usum Delphini, published in an expurgated version by order of Louis XIV for the Dauphin, as one of the Delphin classics. In January 1770 the professor chose [ Jean] Barbault, Les Plus Beaux Monuments de Rome Ancienne [The Most Beautiful Monuments of Ancient Rome] (1761); Giacomo Lauro, Splendore dell’ Antica e Moderna Roma [The Splendor of Ancient and Modern Rome] (1641); and Pietro Santi Bartoli, Admiranda

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Romanarum [Antiquitatum] Vestigia [Admirable Traces of Roman Antiquity] (1693), each an art folio. Along with these, he took letters of Cicero translated by Nicholas Hubert Mongault in six volumes (1741) and by William Melmoth in three volumes (1753) and Antoine Terrasson, Histoire de la Jurisprudence Romaine [History of Roman Jurisprudence] (1750) in folio. The emphasis on Cicero continued in February with his De Finibus [Bonorum et Malorum] [On the Ends of Good and Evil], edited in 1728 by John Davies, and Cicero’s Opera, edited by Pierre-Joseph Thoulier, Abbé d’Oliveti (1745–7). In early March Ferguson took the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth volumes of the Universal History, whose author is difficult to identify, along with Ammianus Marcellinus’s History and four volumes of Blackstone’s Commentaries. The following day, he returned for Cicero’s De officiis [Book of Duties] in Latin, as well as another copy in French and English. Almost a week later he took all twentyfour volumes of The Parliamentary [or Constitutional] History [of England … from the Earliest Times to the Restoration of Charles II] (1751–62). In April, he borrowed four books by Onofrio Panvinio, Comment. Hist. Roman [De Reipublicae Romanae commentariorum] [Commentary on the Roman State] (1558); De comitys imperatorys [comitiis imperatoriis liber] [Book on Imperial Elections] (1558); De praecipuis Urbis Romae [sanctioribusque] basilicis [On the Special and most Hallowed Basilicas of the City of Rome] (1570) and Imperium Romanum [Imperial Rome] (1588). Along with these Ferguson took Peghy [Stephen Vinandus Pighius], Annal Romani [Annales Romanorum] [Chronicles of Rome] (1615) and [Lucius Annaeus] Florus, [Epitome of Roman History], edited by Claudius Salmasius (1683). Ten days later he checked out three more books Scriptores Romanae Historiae [veteres Latini] [Ancient Latin Writers on Roman History], edited by Benno Caspar Haurisius (1743–8); Scriptores rei rusticae [veteres Latini] [Ancient Latin Writers on Agriculture], edited by Johann Matthias Gesner (1735); and Tacitus, Opera in usum Delphini. It was not until six months later that Ferguson resumed his borrowing, selecting [Variétés Littéraires] [Literary Miscellany] (1768–9) in four volumes, edited by François Arnaud and Jean Baptiste Antoine Suard; Samuel Clarke’s 1712 edition of Caesar[’s Commentaries] and the tenth volume of Graevius’s [Thesaurus]. In December he checked out Jean-Charles, chevalier de Folard’s [Commentaries on] Polybius [ou un corps de science militaire] [or Matters of Military Science] (1727). In 1771, research on the Roman Republic continued. In January the professor chose the third volume of Graevius’s [Thesaurus], followed in February by Appieni [Appian’s] Hisstoria [sic] [Roman History] in two volumes, Goltzy [Hubert Goltz] Thesaurus (1579), which featured inscriptions from marble and coins, and Thoulier’s Cicero. In March Ferguson borrowed Xenophon’s Opera; Dionysius of Halicarnassus’s History [Roman Antiquities] in English and in Greek; [Gaius

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Julius] Solinus’s Polyhistoria [Polyhistor], a multidescriptive natural history, borrowed partly from Pliny and [Marcus Terentius] Varro’s Opera (1581), which includes studies of the Latin language and agriculture. The next month his selections were the second volume of Byzantine Historians (1729–33); [Raffaele] Fabretti’s Dissertatio [de aquis et] aquaeductibus [veteris Romae] [Dissertation on the Water and Aqueducts of Ancient Rome] (1680); and the grammarian [Sextus Pompeius] Festus’s De verborum significat[u] [On the Meaning of Words]. In May Memoirs des Inscriptions [anciennes] [Memoirs of Ancient Inscriptions] rounded out the spring selections. It was not until November and December that other books were checked out. The three works were more varied than usual. One was Samuel Pitiscus’s edition of Suetonius’s Opera (1714). The other two were the eighth volume of Speeches or Arguments in the Court of the King’s Bench and five volumes of Voltaire’s Questions sur l’Encyclopédie (1770–2). By 1771, Ferguson, at forty-nine, had begun to feel some unhappiness with his situation. An opportunity for a change of scene came when the East India Company proposed to send a three-man commission to India to investigate its financial difficulties. That Ferguson actively fought for a chance to go to India, leaving his young family and his academic career, indicates his frustration and the reassertion of the restlessness that had marked his early adult years. He went to the library to prepare for the trip, borrowing James Fraser’s History of Nadir Shaw [Shah … the Present Emperor of Persia] (1742); [ Jean-Baptiste] Tavernier’s Travels [Six Voyages through Turkey into Persia and the East Indies] (1676–7); and [René Augustin Constantin de Renneville], Recueil [Collections] des Voyages [qui ont servi à l’etablissement et aux Progrès de la Compagnie des Indes Orientales formée dans les Provinces Unies des Païs Bas] (1725), a collection of Dutch voyages. The last books Ferguson took in 1772 were the third and fourth volumes of Daines Barrington’s [Observations upon] the Statutes [chiefly the more Ancient, from Magna Charta to 21st James I] (1766). He went to London to campaign for the chance to go, but returned before classes began in the autumn, disappointed because the commission was not sent. Early in January 1773, Ferguson checked out the first volume of Gabriel Brotier’s edition of Tacitus’s [Opera] (1771). In mid-March he returned for Bernard de Montfaucon, Antiquitys [L’Antiquitié Expliquée] [Antiquity Explained and Presented in Sculptures] (1719–57), containing over a thousand plates including the renowned Portland vase and at the end of the month for the second and third volumes of Brotier and thirteen volumes of [ John] Dryden’s Works. As usual, since there were no classes from mid-March to autumn and he was actively engaged in farming, he did not use the library again until August, when on the ninth George McLean signed out [Samuel] Johnson’s Dictionary [of the English Language] (1755) for him. On 31 August, Ferguson borrowed thirteen

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works. The first was [Antoine Galland (ed.)], Arrabian [sic] Nights Entertainment [Les mille et une Nuits], four volumes in French (1753–4). Then it was back to work on the Roman history with Livius [Livy] in usum Delphini, the first volume of [Libri Historiarum ab Urbe Condita] [Books of History from the Foundation of Rome Forward]; [Arnold] Drakenborch’s edition of Silius Italicus on the Punic wars (1717) and [M. Annaeus] Lucanus, Pharsalia [The Civil War], edited by [Frans van] Oudendorp (1728). Along with these, the professor took Ovid, Fasti in usum Delphini; Propertu [Sextus Propertius], Opera; Dacurs [André Dacier] translator, Horace’s Opera, volumes 1–5, 8 and 10 (1691); and [Sigebertus] Havercampus (ed.), Lucretius’s Works (1725). The other four selections were Ovidu [Ovid], Opera in three volumes; Plautus, Plays in ten volumes; Terence, Com[edies]; Tibulli [Albius Tibullus], Opera and [Gaius Valerius] Catullus the poet’s Opera, edited by Isaac Voss. In 1773 Ferguson published the second edition of the Institutes, adding Caesar and Cicero to his citations from his library selections, along with his own work, An Essay on the History of Civil Society. He also issued the third edition of Civil Society, with the collection of Dutch voyages and Tacitus the only additions borrowed from the library. On 12 October, his cousin James Russel, professor of natural philosophy, signed out [Willem Jacob] s’Gravesande’s System of Nat:[ural] Philosophy for Ferguson. Unfortunately, Russel died soon afterwards, and on 27 October the Lord Provost announced to the town council that the faculty had prevailed on Ferguson to teach both classes during the vacancy.23 On 11 November Ferguson checked out s’Gravesande’s Physics [Physices elementa mathematica, experimentis confirmata] [The Mathematical Elements of Physics Confirmed by Experiments, or Introduction to Newtonian Philosophy] (1720–1), translated into English by J. T. Desagulier; and [ Joseph] Priestley, On Electricity [The History and Present State of Electricity with Original Experiments] (1767). Along with these books for the natural philosophy class, which was taught with experiments, Ferguson borrowed [ John and William] Langhorne’s translation of Plutarch[’s Lives], volumes 2 through 5 (1770). In January 1774 he took Polybius [History], edited by Caesobono [Isaac Casaubon], as well as [ Jakob] Gronovius’s edition of the same. He borrowed two more books which were a departure from the Romans – [Edward Hyde, Earl of ] Clarendon, History [of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England begun in the year 1641] (1702–4) and [Bulstrode] Whitlocke, Memorials [of the English affairs … from the Beginning of the Reign of Charles the First to the Happy Restoration of King Charles the Second] (1682). Since August the professor had been under consideration for a position as tutor to Philip Stanhope, fifth Earl of Chesterfield, on the grand tour. By January his mind was made up and he was prepared to leave behind the moral and natural philosophy classes and his pregnant wife

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and three small children. Ferguson spent almost a year on the continent and returned to England in April 1775 so that the Earl could conduct some business. He planned to be abroad with his pupil for eighteen more months. In the meantime, the town council of Edinburgh fired him for absence without permission and left his position vacant.24 Through the efforts of his friends and the work of Ilay Campbell in the Court of Session, Ferguson was reinstated, which was just as well because in June he was discharged as tutor to Lord Chesterfield. It was back to the Roman history when, on 17 July 1775, Ferguson borrowed [Panvinio] Imperium Romanorum [Romanum]; Dio Cassius [History of Rome] and P[ighius] Annales. In addition, he took Pl[iny] Historia Naturalis in five volumes, and the first and second volumes of Plutarch [Parallel Lives]. In November, he checked out Thoulier’s Cicero’s [Opera], volumes 4 through 9; Arbuthnot, On Coins; and what must have been a work by Marcus Antonius Natta, although it is difficult to decipher which one. On 19 February 1776, Ferguson borrowed [Diogenes] L[aer]tius’s [Lives of the Philosophers], edited by [Marcus] M[ei]bomi[us] (1692). Then he turned his attention to writing his anonymously-published pamphlet Remarks on a Pamphlet Lately Published by Dr. Price, intitled Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, the Principles of Justice and Policy of the War with America, etc. In a Letter from a Gentleman in the Country to a Member of Parliament. Ferguson’s only citation from his borrowed books was Polybius although he also cited Montesquieu, L’Esprit des Loix, which he probably owned. On 9 April 1776, the professor borrowed [Scriptores] Historiae Augustae [Writers of Imperial History]; Scriptores Historiae Romanae [Writers of Roman History] and another book on ancient coins, Antiques by Ezechiel Spanheim (1671). He returned to the library on 30 April for nine books. These were [ Johann Albert Fabricius] De Bibliotheca Latina and Bibliotheca Graec[a] [Latin Library and Greek Library]; [ Johann Matthias Gesner], Rei rusticae Scriptores [veteres Latini] (1735); [Pierre] Bayle’s Dictionary [Dictionaire historique et critique]; Cornelius Nepos’s [Vitae Excellentium Imperatorum] [Lives of Outstanding Emperors]; [Quintus] Enn[is]’s poetic Fragmenta; Jul[ius] Obsequens’s Prodigies; Strabo’s Geography; and [Flavius] Vegetius [Renatus], [Epitome Rei Militaris] [Summary of Military Science]. Returning in August, Ferguson borrowed [Pierre] Gassendi’s Opera [Omnia][Complete Works] (1727); the second and third volumes of Brotier’s Tacitus; [Flavius] Joseph[us]’s History; [Ambrosius Aurelius Theodosius] Macrobius’s [Opera]; and the second and third volumes of Thoulier’s Cicero. His work continued in October with [Henri Estienne] Stephano’s 1572 Bibliotheca Graeca [Lingua] [Library of the Greek Language]; two editions of Diodorus Siculus’s [Historical Library], one by Sebastiano Castalione (1641) and the other by Stephano (1559); and [Charles] Rollin’s Antient History [from

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the Foundation of Rome to the Battle of Actium] (1739–50). [ Justus] Lips[ius]’s Opera [Omnia postremum ab ipso aucta et recensita] [Complete Works Augmented and Revised for the Last Time by the Author Himself] (1675) was marked ‘to be returned on demand’. On 2 December 1776, the professor varied his diet with [ John] Knox, History of [the Reformation of Religion within the Realm of] Scotland (1761); [ James] Oswald, Appeal to Common Sense [in Behalf of Religion] (1766–72); [Samuel] Pufendorf ’s Law of Nature and Nations; and the fifth volume of Clarendon’s History. He also borrowed Mongault’s Cicero. The professor did not return to the library until 8 August 1777, this time for more books on Roman history. He selected [Nathaniel] Hook’s Roman History [from the Building of Rome to the Ruin of the Commonwealth] (1738–71) in four volumes; Livy’s [Ab Urbe Condita] [From the Foundation of the City] in the Delphin series; [Thomas] Blackwell’s [Memoirs of the Court] of Augustus in two volumes (1753–63); and Rollin’s Roman History, volumes 3, 5 and 8, with a note indicating that volumes 1 through 7 were now borrowed. The last book was René Aubert, Abbé de Vertot, Revolutions of Rome [History of the Revolutions that Happened in the Roman Republic] (1719). December found Ferguson making more varied choices. He took [Alexander] Wight, On Elections [A Treatise on the Laws Concerning the Election of Different Representatives Sent from Scotland to the Parliament of Great Britain] (1773); Sir David Dalrymple, [Annals of Scot]land [from the Accession of Malcolm III to the Accession of Robert I] (1776–9); [Robert] Orme, History of the [Military] Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan (1763–78); Works of Julian [the Apostate]; and The History of Caesar by [Raimundus] Marl[ianus] (1601). At the end of March 1778, the professor borrowed History of the Roman Emperors by [ Jean Baptiste Louis] Cre[vier] (1755–61). At this point Ferguson began to experience major changes in his life. On 21 April, he set sail for New York, accompanying the Carlisle Commission that was to offer terms to the rebelling American colonies short of independence. He became commission secretary and stayed with the commissioners in America until they returned, landing in Plymouth on 19 December 1778. Ferguson remained in London carrying out commission work until late May 1779. It was probably while he was in London that he created his ‘Historical Chart, Representing at one View the rise and progress of the Principal States & Empires of the known World’, which was published in colour as Plate CLI of the fifth volume of the second edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1780). Ferguson did not return to the library until 10 December 1779, when he borrowed Montfaucon, volumes 1, 2, 8 and 19; Livy [with variorum notes and supplement by Arnold Drakenborch] (1738–46); and History [romaine depuis

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la fondation de Rome] [Roman History since the Foundation] by [François] C[atrou] and [ Julien] R[oui]llé in twenty volumes (1725–7). Many months later, on 1 May 1780, he returned to check out Diodorus Siculus; Petronius Arbiter, [Satyricon] [Satirical Romance], edited by [Pieter Burmann, the Elder] (1709); and Eusebius [Historical Chronology]. He spent the remainder of the summer campaigning in John Fletcher Campbell’s unsuccessful bid for a parliamentary seat. On 1 December he borrowed Rome Ancienne; [A Collection of] Voyages [and Travels now first Printed from Original Manuscripts, and to which is prefixed, an introductory discourse (supposed to be written by the celebrated Mr. Locke, intitled The Whole History of Navigation from its original to this time)], published by Awnsham [and John] Churchill (1744–6); and [Samuel] Johnson’s Dictionary. It was around Christmas when the fifty-seven-year-old father of six children ranging in age from about twelve to three was stricken with a paralytic ailment. His family and friends thought he might die but he slowly began to recover. By March 1781 he was able to travel to Bath with his wife and eldest daughter to take the water cure for three months. He hoped to spend his time recovering and correcting the Roman history that he had just completed when he became ill. By the time Ferguson returned to Edinburgh in July he was somewhat improved but still unable to teach. His manuscript was in such a marred condition that it had to be sent to a copyist before it could be submitted. The only book he borrowed in 1781 was [Roman] Antiqu[ities] by Dionysis Halicarn[assus], on 7 July. It was not until 11 June 1782 that he returned to the library. He took Arriani [Arrianus Flavius], Expeditione Alexr: [History of Alexander’s Expeditions], edited by Jakob Gronovius (1704); and Memoirs des Inscriptions. His library use was much curtailed and his only selection in 1783 was History of Viscount de Tur[enne] [Henri de la Tour d’Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne], edited by Andrew Michael Ramsay (1735). That year he published The History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic in three volumes. In this edition Ferguson almost exclusively cited editions of original sources rather than later historians. Of the books he borrowed from the library and referred to in his footnotes, only Arbuthnot, On Ancient Coins and Pighius, Annal Romani [Annales Romanorum] were not Roman authors. The ancients were Appian, Aulus Gellius, Caesar, Cicero, Dio Cassius, Dionysus Halicarnassus, Eusebius, Florus, Frontinus, Horace, Julian Obsequens, Livy, Lucan, Macrobius, Pliny, Plutarch, Polybius, Strabo, Tacitus and Varro. In October 1783 Sheringham’s De Origine Anglorum was taken ‘by private receipt’. William Center signed out several books for Ferguson on 11 April 1785. They were the fourth, fifth and thirteenth volumes of Jakob Gronovius’s Thesaurus [of Grecian] Antiquities; Antiquities [of Greece], by [ John] Potter; and the seventh volume of [Thesaurus] Antiquitica [sic] [Antiquitatum] Romanorum,

Ferguson’s Use of the Edinburgh University Library

51

edited by [ Johann George] Graevius. On 14 May 1785 Ferguson, citing the state of his health, resigned as professor of moral philosophy. One week later he was appointed joint professor of mathematics with John Playfair.25 At this point books began to be borrowed without a signature. In August someone took out William Paley’s Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy without signing for it.26 On 14 September, Ferguson checked out the third volume of Voyages [Voyage to the Pacific Ocean], recently published by [ James] Cook. He also selected View of Society [in Europe in its Progress from Rudeness to Refinement] by [Gilbert] Stuart (1778). In January 1786, Ferguson borrowed [Vicesimus] Knox’s Essays [Moral and Literary] (1778). Between March and November 1786 someone – almost certainly Ferguson, given his scholarly fascination with foreign customs and his thwarted passion for roaming – took out five travel books, without signing for them: Frederick Hasselquist’s Voyages; William Marsden’s Sumatra; Anders Sparrman’s Travels; Claude Etienne Savary’s Letters on Egypt; and [ John] Evelyn’s Sylva. Ferguson returned in May 1787 to get The Bhăgvăt-Gēēta [Song of the Blessed One], translated by C. Wilkins (1785); Memoirs [of Baron de Tott on the Turks and the Tartars] (1785); and [The Elevation, Sections, Plans and Views of a] Triple Vessel by [Patrick] Miller [of Dalwinton] (1787). In June the retired professor borrowed Plates of Cook’s Voyages and [A Voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, toward the Antarctic Polar Circle, and round the World: but chiefly into the Country of the Hottentots and Caffres] by [Anders] Sparrm[an] (1785). The Monthly Review for 1786 and Volney’s Travels in Egypt and Syria were checked out in November 1787 but they were not signed for, nor were a new French edition of Caesar’s Commentaries by Turpin and Seneca’s Opera in March and April 1788. On 23 January 1789, Tavernier’s Travels was listed as ‘borrowed & sent to Prof. Ferguson’. In April Chaufepié’s New Historical Dictionary and L’Enfant’s History of the Hussite Wars were taken from the library with no signature, as was Barthélemy’s Travels of Anacharsis the Younger in Greece (and its atlas) in June. The professor returned for five Roman history books on 25 May 1790. After he listed Ammianus Marcellinus [History of the Roman Emperors], one of the staff noted ‘All before this clear’. Ferguson then checked out Brotier’s edition of Tacitus’s Opera; Crevier’s Histoire des Empereurs [History of the Emperors]; Dio Cassius, edited by [Hermann Samuel] Reimar[us] (1737); and Xiphilinus’s Epitome. In October someone checked out the twelfth volume of Gibbon’s history. At this point one of the staff wrote ‘N.B. all transcribed into the New Receipt Book p. 183’. Now listed under professor of mathematics, Ferguson’s first transactions in the new receipt book were Voyages and Travels [to Discover the Source of the Nile] by [ James] Bruce (1790) on 17 December 1790. In early February of the follow-

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ing year someone borrowed Spon’s Voyage d’Italie, de Dalmatie, de Grèce et du Levant; Sir George Wheeler’s A Journey into Greece; and Hawkesworth’s Voyages into the Southern Hemisphere without signing for them, and about a week later someone took Cook’s Second Voyage around the World. In May, Tindal’s Continuation of Rapin-Thoyras’s History of England; Upton’s Epictetus; and Plato’s Opera were removed without a signature. On 23 December someone checked out Athenaeus’s Deisoposophista; Caesar’s Opera; and the first volume of Desagulier’s System of Experimental Philosophy. On 1 May 1792, Boccaccio’s Decameron and Chenier’s History of the Moors were checked out with no signature, followed on 21 August by Sullivan’s Philosophical Rhapsodies and Mariti’s Travels [through Cyprus, Syria and Palestine]. In September Bruce’s Travels to find the Source of the Nile was taken without a signature. In the following year (1793), none of the borrowed books were signed for, including Reiske’s edition of Dionysius Halicarnassus; Smollett’s History of England; Townsend’s A Journey through Spain; and Vossius’s History of Greece. In fact, it had been in 1792 that Ferguson published The Principles of Moral and Political Science: being chiefly a Retrospect of Lectures delivered in the College of Edinburgh. He wrote that this collection contained no ‘leading thought, or principle of moment, that may not be found in the writings of others; and if the author knew where …’ he would have pointed them out. He promised not to ‘neglect citing those who have gone before him, as often as he is sensible of having borrowed his thoughts, or as often as he recollects at the moment …’.27 He did cite Arrian, George Berkeley, William Blackstone, Caesar, Cicero, David Dalrymple, Thomas Hobbes, Samuel Johnson, John Locke, Giovanni Mariti, William Marsden, Tacitus, Terence and Turenne, all authors whose works he had borrowed from the library. The following year the seventy-year-old professor made a long-anticipated trip to Europe to check the scenes of his Roman history, but was back in London by 14 May 1794. Ferguson returned to the library on 13 June 1794 for Graec[ian] Antiquities by [ Jakob] Gr[onovius], [Ludovico Antonio] Murat[ori]’s Opera and S. V. Pig[hius]’s [Annales Romanorum]. Six days later, he borrowed Scriptores Romanae Historiae [Scriptores Historiae Romanae] [Writers of Roman History]; Asconius Pedianus [Commentaries on Cicero’s Speeches]; [ John] Blair’s Ch[ronology and History of the World from the Creation to 1753] (1754); [Peter] Wesseling’s edition of Diodorus Siculus [Historical Library] (1746); [Hermann] Re[imarus]’s edition of Dio Cassius (1750–2); [Friedrich] Sylburg’s edition of Dionysius Halica[rnassus]’s [History of the Roman Emperors] (1774–7); [Augustin Bryan]’s edition of Plutarch’s Vita [Parallel Lives] (1723–9); and Xiphilin[us]’s Epitome of Dio Cassius. Since he was working on a revised and corrected edition of the Roman Republic, his library usage grew heavier. On 3 July 1794, he borrowed eleven

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53

works, only one of which was not about the Romans. This was [Thomas] Phillips, Voyages [A Journal of a Voyage to Africa and Barbados] (1746), a description of the slave trade. The others were [Philippe Briet], [Para]llela geographica comparée [Veteris & Novae] [Parallel Geographies Old and New] (1648) along with a separate set of its maps; Scriptores [Historiae Augustae], with its biographies of Roman emperors; A[ulus] Gellius, [Attic Nights]; [Lucius] Apu[leius], [The Golden Ass]; Cassiodorus, Opera; Frontinus, De Aquaeductibus and Opera; J[ulius] Obsequens, [Prodigies]; Maximus Tyrius, [Dissertation] (1740); and [Claude de Saumaise’s] commentary on Solini Plinianae Exercitationes (1629), a natural history in which Solinus borrowed heavily from Pliny. In early November Ferguson borrowed both of Barbault’s books on the monuments of Rome – ancient and modern – as well as Sir William Hamilton’s C[ampi] P[hlegraei: On the Phlegraean Plain] [Observations on the Volcanoes of the Two Sicilies] (1776). He also took [Henry] Swinburne’s Travels in the Two Sicilies in the Years 1777, 1778, 1779, 1780 (1783–5); Histoire de Polybe [Polybius] by [Vincent] [T]hu[iller]; Polybius’s [Historiarum quidquid superset], the surviving fragmentary books of his universal history, edited by [ Johann] Schweighauser (1789–92); Memoires of [Maximilien de Béthune], duc de Sully; and Strabo’s [Geography]. Ferguson’s wife Katharine died on 23 March 1795 and he decided to leave Edinburgh and move to the country, taking his three daughters and youngest son, John, who was eleven. He rented Nydpath Castle from the Duke of Queensberry in early September. Since he was still working on a new edition of the Roman Republic, he returned to the library on 24 September. He borrowed Scriptores Byzanti[nae historiae] [Writers of Byzantine History]; Deipnosophista by Athenaeus; [Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists] by Eunapius; Joseph[us Flavius] Opera; Philo Judae[us] Scriptores eloquentis[simi] [Most Eloquent Writers]; another volume by Philojuddes [Philo Judaeus] and [Sebastian le Nain de] Tillemont’s Hist[oire] des Empereurs [History of the Emperors], volumes 1, 2 and 4 (1700–38). In June 1796, Ferguson gave up on the Duke and the castle and moved to Hallyards, a manor house near Peebles where he could resume farming. Two books were checked out for him on 5 October 1797. One was [Edward] Gibbon’s History and the other was a new book: [ John Pinkerton], History of Scotland [from the Accession of the House of Stuart to that of Mary] (1797). In July and August 1798, Gibbon’s History; Johnson’s A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland; Sketches by an unidentified author; John Millar’s On Government and Sparmann’s Voyages were borrowed but not signed for. In October the famous explorer Mungo Park paid Ferguson a visit and, some months later, on 15 August 1799, Park’s Travels in Africa was checked out but not signed for. A note below the book commented ‘probably returned’. Ferguson published a

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revised and corrected edition of the Roman Republic in 1799. In the new edition he cited Ammianus Marcellinus, Asconius Pedianus, Josephus and Seneca from his post-1783 library borrowing. In 1800 three books were borrowed on 1 January but not signed for. These were Bruce’s Travels; Gillies’s Aristotle; and Plato’s Opera. On 5 August Malcolm Laing’s new book History of Scotland was taken without a signature. In 1801, at seventy-eight, Ferguson returned to the library on 3 January to borrow [Herman] Boerhaave’s Chemistry [A Dictionary of Chemistry, exhibiting the … state of the theory and practice of that science], translated by [Peter] Shaw (1785); and [William] Nicholson, Chemical Journal [A New Method of Chemistry, including the history, theory and practice of the art] (1741). He was preparing a paper, ‘Minutes of the Life and Character of Joseph Black, MD’, which he read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 3 August 1801. (Black was Ferguson’s cousin and his wife’s uncle.) Neither of the volumes was cited and, in fact, Ferguson noted he ‘had little more than heard of chemistry as a branch of general science’.28 On 11 November 1801, Abbé René Vertot’s Hist[oire] des Chevaliers [de] Malta [Hospitaliers de S. Jean de Jerusalem … aujourd’hui les Chevaliers de Malte] [History of the Knights of Malta] (1726) was borrowed for Ferguson. The last two books he checked out personally were [Robert] Percival Out of Ceylon [Account of the Island of Ceylon] (1804) and [Philip] Miller’s Gardener’s Dictionary [containing the methods of cultivating and improving the kitchen, fruit, and flower garden, as also, the physick garden, wilderness, conservatory, and vineyard] (1803), both on 15 May 1804. The final book listed on his pages was Aristotle’s Opera, not signed for, on 20 January 1806. Although he no longer used the library, Ferguson continued to write essays and prepared a biography of Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Ferguson (no relation), best known for the invention of the breech loading rifle and for his valiant death at the Battle of King’s Mountain, South Carolina. No books from the library were cited in this pamphlet.29 In 1809 Ferguson moved with his daughters to St Andrews, where his sight and hearing increasingly failed him, although his mind remained alert. He died there on 22 February 1816.

Concluding Remarks In the bibliography to The Passionate Society, Lisa Hill provides a list of ‘Sources Known or Likely to have been Consulted by Ferguson’.30 Using Ferguson’s citations and taking into account the books he likely knew, she estimates that there were some seventy-nine authors whose works Ferguson read or considered. Yet of these authors only four are mentioned in Ferguson’s correspondence, and only twenty-three (30 per cent) had written books that he borrowed from the university library. What the present essay reveals is that the list of Ferguson’s

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sources is, in fact, longer than we had reason to think. Ferguson borrowed 272 titles over a 42-year period and was a steady patron of the library. His usage was disrupted only by his illness, his trips abroad and his active pursuit of scientific agriculture. As is obvious from his borrower’s record, he worked for many years on his Roman history, which required heavy library research constituting 68 per cent of his selections. The ideas of the ancients also figured large in his other works. As for his additional interests, he pursued his passion for learning about different societies and – as he became too old and infirm to do the real thing – vicariously exercised his wanderlust by reading travel books, 12 per cent of the choices he made. Surprisingly, natural and moral philosophy comprised only 9 per cent, probably indicating that the strength of his personal library lay in these areas. His friends Hugh Blair, James Burnett (Lord Monboddo), John Dalrymple, Henry Home (Lord Kames), John Home, David Hume, James Macpherson, Adam Smith and William Robertson may well have given him copies of their works. His selection of books on English history, 4 per cent, and Scottish history, 1 per cent, may have been connected with his interest in politics and his pamphleteering. A revealingly human side may be indicated in the other 5 per cent of borrowings, which included such works as the Satyricon, Arabian Nights and the Decameron, serious literary works with a slightly racy (for the eighteenth century) edge. His continuing fascination with books on coins emphasizes his understanding of the necessity of knowing these minted objects ‘which played a peculiarly important part in the politics and economics of the Roman world.’31 In the conclusion of The Passionate Society, Hill acknowledges that ‘Ferguson was a disorderly sometimes exasperating scholar’,32 not only because of the complexity of his reasoning but also due to his ‘bowerbird’ use of sources. The record of his borrowings from the University of Edinburgh Library certainly bears out the latter assertion. Nonetheless, it also opens a window on how Ferguson harnessed his mercurial energies to shape what Hill – using a concept originally developed by John D. Brewer – regards as his unique contribution to Enlightenment thought, ‘his ability to give classical insights a “sociological twist” … bridging the gap between modern and antique traditions’.33

Acknowledgements The author would like to thank Charles Kimball II for his generous editorial assistance with this paper.

APPENDIX: BOOKS BORROWED FROM THE EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY LIBRARY

The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author, followed by short title, year borrowed and the page in this essay in which the book is mentioned. Titles are listed in the language used by Ferguson in the receipt book. Many books were borrowed more than once. Full citations, including the names of editors, can be found on the indicated page of the essay. Author Aelianus Tacticus Ammianus Marcellinus — Appian Arbuthnot, John — Aristotle Arnaud, François Arrian Asconius Pedianus Athenaeus — — Aulus Gellius — Bacon, Francis Barbault, Jean — — Barrington, Daines Barthelemy, J.-J. Bartoli, Pietro S. Bayle, Pierre

Year Title Borrowed De Militaribus Ordinibus 1769 History 1770 History of the Roman Emperors 1790 Hisstoria [sic] 1771 On Coins 1769 On Coins 1775 Opera 1806 Variétés Littéraires 1770 History of Alexander’s Expeditions 1782 Commentaries on Cicero’s Speeches 1794 Deipnosophistae 1795 Deipnosophistae 1769 Deipnosophistae 1791 Attic Nights 1794 Noctes Atticae 1769 Works, vol. 1 1766 Les Plus Beaux Monuments de Rome 1770 Ancienne Monuments of Ancient Rome 1794 Monuments of Modern Rome 1794 [Observations upon] the Statutes 1772 Travels of Anacharsis the Younger 1789 Admiranda Romanarum Vestigia 1770 Dictionary 1776

– 57 –

Page 44 45 51 45 44 48 54 45 50 52 53 44 52 53 44 43 44 53 53 46 51 44 48

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Author Berkeley, George Bethune, Maximilien Blackstone, William — Blackwell, Thomas Blair, John Boccaccio Boerhaave, Herman Briet, Philippe Brotier, Gabriel — Browne, Peter Bruce, James — — Bryan, Augustin Budé, Guillaume Caesar — — Campbell, Archibald Cassiodorus Catrou & Rouille Catallus Chaufepié, J. G. Chenier, Louis de Churchill, A. and J. Cicero — — — — — — — — Clarendon, Edward Hyde, Earl of — Cook, James

Title Treatise [concerning] the Principles Of Human Knowledge Memoirs Commentaries Commentaries, vols 1, 2 Memoirs of the Court of Augustus Chronology and History of the World Decameron Chemistry Parallela Geographica comparée Tacitus Tacitus Limits of Human Understanding Travels Travels to Find the Source of the Nile Travels to Find the Source of the Nile Plutarch’s Parallel Lives De Asse et Partibus [Commentaries] Commentaries Opera [An Enquiry into the]Original of Moral Virtue Opera History Opera New Historical Dictionary History of the Moors Rome Ancienne De finibus De Officiis Epistolae ad familiares Letters Opera Opera Opera Opera Somnium Scipionis History History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars Plates of Cook’s Voyages

Year Borrowed Page 1764 42 1794 1770 1769 1777 1794 1792 1801 1794 1773 1776 1769 1800 1790 1792 1794 1769 1770 1788 1791 1766

53 45 43 49 52 52 54 53 46 48 43 54 51 52 52 43 45 51 52 42

1794 1779 1773 1789 1792 1780 1770 1770 1769 1770 1770 1775 1776 1776 1769 1776

53 50 47 51 52 50 45 45 44 45 45 48 48 49 44 49

1774

47

1787

51

Books Borrowed from the Edinburgh University Library

Author — — Crevier, J. B. L. — Cudworth, Ralph Dalrymple, David De Bassenn, T.R. de Folard, Jean-Charles Desagulier, J. T. Dio Cassius — — — — — Diodorus Siculus — — — — Diogenes Laertius Dionysius Halicarnassus — — — Dryden, John Du Fresne, Charles Eunapius Eusebius Evelyn, John Fabretti, [Raffaele] Fabricius, J. A. — Festus Flavius Josephus — Florus Fraser, James Frontinus — —

Title Second Voyage around the World Voyages Histoire des Empereurs History of the Roman Emperors Intellectual System Annals of Scotland De jure veterum Rom[anorum] [Commentaries on] Polybius System of Experimental Philosophy [History of Rome] [History of Rome] [History of Rome] ? History of Rome Roman History Roman History [Historical Library] Historical Library Historical Library Historical Library Lives of the Philosophers History History of the Roman Emperors Roman Antiquities

Year Borrowed 1791 1785 1790 1777 1766 1777 1769 1770 1791 1769 1769 1765 1775 1790 1794 1769 1776 1776 1794 1780 1776 1771

1794 1781 1793 Works 1773 Glossarium Mediae … Graecitatis 1769 Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists 1795 Historical Chronology 1780 Sylva 1786 Dissertatio aquaeductibus 1771 Bibliotheca Graeca 1776 Bibliotheca Latina 1776 De verborum significat[u] 1771 History 1776 Opera 1795 [Epitome of Roman History] 1770 History of Nadir Shaw 1772 De Aquaeductibus 1794 Opera 1769 Opera 1794

59

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Author Galland, Antoine, ed. Gassendi, Pierre Gesner, J. M. — — Gibbon, Edward — — Gillies, John Goltz, Herbert Graevius, Johann — — — Gronovius, Jakob — Hamilton, William Hasselquist, Frederick Haurisius, B. C. Hawkesworth, John Hobbes, Thomas Hook, Nathaniel Horace Hutcheson, Francis Johnson, Samuel — — Julian the Apostate Julius Obsequens — — Knox, John Knox, Vicesimus Laing, Malcolm Langhorne, J. and W. Lauro, Giacomo L’Enfant, Jacques Lipsius, Justus Livy —

Title Arrabian [sic] Nights Entertainment Opera Omnia Rei rusticae Scriptores Scriptores rei rusticae Thesaurus History History History Aristotle: Ethics and Politics Thesaurus [Thesaurus] [Thesaurus] Cicero’s [Revised Speeches] Thesaurus Antiquitica Antiquities Thesaurus of Grecian Antiquities Campi Phlegraei Voyages Scriptores Romanae Historiae Voyages into the Southern Hemisphere Opera, vol. 1 Roman History Opera An Enquiry into the Original of our Ideas Of Beauty and Virtue Dictionary Dictionary Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland Works Prodigies Prodigies Prodigies History of Scotland Essays [Moral and Literary] History of Scotland Plutarch’s Lives Splendore dell’ Antica e Moderna Roma History of the Hussite Wars Opera Ab Urbe Condita Ab Urbe Condita

Year Borrowed 1773 1776 1776 1770 1768 1790 1797 1797 1800 1771 1770 1771 1767 1785 1794 1785 1794 1786 1770 1791 1766 1777 1773 1766

47 48 48 45 42 51 53 53 54 45 45 45 43 50 52 50 53 51 45 52 43 49 47 42

1773 1780 1797

46 50 53

1777 1769 1776 1794 1776 1786 1800 1773 1770

49 44 48 53 49 51 54 47 44

1789 1776 1777 1779

51 49 47 49

Page

Books Borrowed from the Edinburgh University Library

Author — Locke, John Lowthrop, John

Title Libri Historiarum ab Urbe Condita Works, vol. 2 Philosophical Transactions and Collections Lucanus Pharsalia Lucius Apuleius The Golden Ass Lucretius Works Macrobius Opera — Opera Mariti, Giovanni Travels Marlianus, Raimundus The History of Caesar Marsden, William Sumatra Maximus Tyrius Dissertation Middleton, Conyers [History of the] Life of Cicero Millar, John On Government Miller, Patrick Triple Vessel Miller, Philip Gardener’s Dictionary Montfaucon, Bernard Antiquitys — Antiquitys Muratori, L. A. Opera Natta, Marcus A. Nepos, Cornelius Vitae Excellentium imperatorum Nicholson, William Chemical Journal Orme, Robert History of the Military Transactions of the British Nation Oswald, James Appeal to Common Sense Ovid Fasti — Opera [Ovid] Signii Fasti Romani Paley, William Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy Panvinio, Onofrio Comment. Hist. Roman — De comitys imperatorys — De praecipuis Urbis Romae — Imperium Romanum — Imperium Romanum Park, Mungo Travels in Africa Percival, Robert Out of Ceylon Petronius Arbiter Satyricon Phillips, Thomas Voyages Philo Judaeus Scriptores eloquentissimi — Pighius, S. V. Annal[es] romani

61

Year Borrowed 1773 1764 1768

47 42 43

1773 1794 1773 1769 1776 1792 1777 1786 1794 1766 1797 1787 1804 1773 1779 1794 1775 1776 1801 1777

47 53 47 44 48 52 49 51 53 42 53 51 54 46 49 52 48 48 54 49

1776 1773 1773 1769 1785

49 47 47 44 51

1770 1770 1770 1770 1775 1799 1804 1780 1794 1795 1795 1770

45 45 45 45 48 53 54 50 53 53 53 45

Page

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Author — — Pinkerton, John Plato — Plautus Pliny the Younger — Plutarch — — Polybius — Potter, John Priestley, Joseph Propertius Pufendorf, Samuel Quintus Ennis Renneville, R. Rollin, Charles — Saumaise, Claude de Savary, C. E. Seneca s’Gravesande, W. J. — Sheringham, Robert — Silius Italicus Smollett, Tobias Solinus Spanheim, Ezechiel Sparrman, Anders — — Spon, Jacob Stanley, Thomas Stephano, H. E. Strabo —

Title Annales Annales Romanorum History of Scotland Opera Opera Plays Historia Naturalis Natural History Parallel Lives Parallel Lives Parallel Lives Historiarum quidquid superset History Antiquities On Electricity Opera Law of Nature and Nations Fragmenta Recueil des Voyages Ancient History Roman History Commentary on Solini Plinianae Exercitationes Letters on Egypt Opera Physics System of Natural Philosophy De Anglorum gentis origine disceptatio De Anglorum gentis origine disceptatio On the Punic Wars History of England Polyhistoria Antiques A Voyage to the Cape of Good Hope Travels Voyages Voyage to Italy History of Philosophy Bibliotheca Graeca [Geography] Geography

Year Borrowed 1775 1794 1797 1791 1800 1773 1775 1769 1764 1775 1794 1794 1774 1785 1773 1773 1776 1776 1772 1776 1777 1794

48 52 53 52 54 47 48 44 48 47 52 53 47 50 47 47 49 48 46 48 49 53

1786 1788 1773 1773 1769

51 51 47 47 43

1783

50

1773 1793 1771 1776 1787 1786 1798 1791 1766 1776 1769 1794

47 52 46 48 51 51 53 52 42 48 43 53

Page

Books Borrowed from the Edinburgh University Library

Author — Stuart, Gilbert Suetonius Sullivan, Richard J. Swinburne, Henry Tacitus — — Tavernier, J. B. — Terence Terasson, Antoine Thoulier, Pierre Joseph Thullier, Vincent Tibullus Tillemont, Sebastian Tindal, Nicolas Tott, Baron de Townsend, Joseph Turenne, Vicomte de Upton, John Varro Vegetius Vertot, Abbé René Aubert — Volney, C.-F. Voltaire, FrançoisMarie Vossius, G. J. Walker, Obadiah Wallace, Robert Wheeler, George Whitlocke, Bulstrode Wight, Alexander Wilkins, C., ed. Wynne, John Xenophon Xiphilinus

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4 FERGUSON’S REFLECTIONS PREVIOUS TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A MILITIA David Raynor

In the spring of 1755, after serving a decade as chaplain to the Black Watch Regiment, Ferguson took a leave of absence from his position and returned to Scotland.1 The regiment had seen action on the continent at Port l’Orient and Flanders, but for about six years had been reduced and quartered in Ireland. Hostilities between France and Great Britain had recommenced in North America in 1754, and two Irish regiments had been sent there in the spring of that year. The Seven Years War broke out with the French capture of the island of Minorca in May 1756, and within a year Ferguson’s regiment would depart for North America without him. In the spring of 1756 there was a great alarm over the possibility of a French invasion of England. Since there were only 35,000 regular soldiers stationed in Great Britain, and there was no militia, the government took the unusual measure of bringing over 8,600 Hanoverian and 6,500 Hessian soldiers at a cost of over £300,000 if they were sent home by Christmas, but much more if they stayed longer. The employment of foreign mercenary troops was not only an expensive measure, but one which some worried might become permanent, while many feared that it would be repeated every time that France threatened to invade. Many Englishmen felt ashamed that they needed to depend upon foreign auxiliaries for their defence. The Speaker of the House of Commons caught the tone of the nation in his address to the King: ‘Subsides to foreign princes, when already burdened by a debt scarce to be borne, cannot but be severely felt; an army of foreign troops, a thing unprecedented, unheard of, unknown, brought into England, cannot but alarm’.2 The time was ripe for reviving the militia: not as an alternative to the regular army, but as a supplement to it. ‘A Bill for the better ordering of the Militia Forces in the several counties of that part of Great Britain, called England’ had been introduced in Parliament at the beginning of the year by George Townshend, MP for Norfolk, and was readily approved by the Commons. To ease the passage of money bills for foreign – 65 –

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mercenaries through the House of Commons, the ministry had acquiesced in approving this bill. Nobody dared oppose so popular a measure, though it seems that some MPs were not in favour of it. As Horace Walpole observed, the bill to revive the militia was ‘too popular to be withstood; and many gave into the scheme trusting to its defeating itself ’.3 The bill was passed in the Commons on 10 May, and Townshend was ordered to carry it to the House of Lords, where it was first debated the very day that war was declared against France. As one political observer remarked: ‘On Monday war was proclaimed; the same day the affair of the Militia was before the House of Lords. The debate was whimsical’; he added that the bill was the only thing keeping parliamentarians in hot London.4 But the debate on the third reading of the bill in the Lords on 24 May was anything but whimsical: with Lord Chancellor Hardwicke and others strenuously arguing against the measure, the bill was defeated by 59 against 23. The views of both the opponents and supporters of this bill were reported in the press, giving rise to a spate of pamphlets and comments in the periodical press on the issue. This is the context in which Ferguson, in late November, published anonymously at London a 53-page pamphlet entitled Reflections Previous to the Establishment of a Militia.5 This pamphlet records an interesting and distinctive stage in his intellectual development. Though Ferguson himself regarded it as ‘a tedious Performance’,6 it was a timely contribution to the metropolitan political debate about re-establishing the militia in England after decades of neglect, and needs to be interpreted in light of that debate. His thoughts on the defeated militia bill were probably relatively uninfluenced by debates within the Select Society of Edinburgh, but reveal, instead, his perspective on a controversial project as filtered through his decade-long experience amidst a Highland regiment.

Ferguson’s Reflections on the Militia Bill Ferguson began by noting how the French had improved their military strength by imitating the British policy of a strong navy and the quest for colonies. The British had taught the French ‘to take commerce in aid of their military’, so it was now time for the British to emulate the French by reviving a strong English militia. Ferguson himself had witnessed how useful the French militia had been in defending the town of Port l’Orient against a small-scale incursion by British forces in 1746. The example of the French in maintaining an extensive militia, he now urged, ‘should teach us to mix the military spirit with our civil and commercial policy’.7 Without a militia Britain was at a competitive disadvantage with France militarily. Ferguson had his own blueprint for an effective militia, but believed that others were debating the institutional structure of the future militia while forget-

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ting how crucial a change of manners would be to its success, whatever specific institutional structure might be adopted for it. The principal division of opinion amongst supporters of an English militia in 1756 was between those who advocated a compulsory universal militia and those who preferred a voluntary select one. And there were subsidiary disagreements about many other administrative, legal and disciplinary matters. Ferguson believed that participants in this debate ‘were in danger of hurrying on to this part of the institution, without attending to considerations which were previously necessary’.8 He therefore wished to bring the debate back to the manners of the age, thinking that most participants in the debate were focusing overmuch on the forms of military discipline to be involved in the future force, as if they believed that military discipline alone were sufficient to form good militiamen. Here Ferguson saw himself in the minority of those who realized ‘that the practice of such motions as form the military exercise is far from being sufficient to train a soldier’.9 Indeed, he argued that the militia as an effective institution could flourish only if steps were taken to alter the country’s manners beforehand. Not only did he maintain that discipline was not sufficient to form a good militiaman, but he came close to maintaining that it was scarcely necessary either: ‘I consider every man as deriving military spirit more from the use of arms … than from the stated practice of any motions which we dignify with the name of military discipline’.10 Altogether Ferguson seems not to have believed that military discipline was as important as the need to reinstate a general use of arms in the country. Of course he was not alone in noting that ‘the state of civil policy, and of commerce, at which we are arrived, have greatly affected our manners’. But he was perhaps unusual in believing that this change of manners could be partially reversed by removing some of its causes. He was not so naive as to think that commerce alone was responsible for the great change in manners that had taken place since the seventeenth century. Accordingly, he placed the blame for the decline in martial spirit more on misguided government policies than on commerce itself: ‘Too scrupulous a caution with respect to the disturbances which might arise from faction, and even our attention to preserve the game [for hunting], have, with other considerations, made our government industrious to check and prohibit the use of arms’.11 In his view the first step towards establishing an effective militia should be to alter the manners of the people by allowing them to own and use arms again. In 1756 the people of Great Britain were virtually disarmed. There was a militia act on the statute books since the Restoration, and though it placed the militia entirely in control of the Crown, monarchs from William to George II had not dared to arm their subjects, given that their title to the crown was disputed, and instead trusted entirely to a standing army. The Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745 had led to legislation that disarmed all Scots indiscriminately,

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and the memory of those rebellions was often invoked as justification for maintaining a sizeable standing army and neglecting to muster the militia. Moreover, large landowners had sought to preserve the game for themselves by passing and enforcing the Game Laws, which were intended to disarm and discourage all poachers. Ferguson was not alone in pointing to the Game Laws as a cause of the change in manners. As the author of one squib observed: ‘you gentlemen gamekeepers have, in your great wisdom, been the means, that those who might be rendered the most useful to defend their country, are, for the sake of preserving the game, entirely disarmed’.12 Ferguson insisted ‘that gentlemen who hold serious meetings for the preservation of the game, would have some regard to the preservation of their country’. He added that ‘the poachers of Great Britain, so much the aversion of our squires, if assembled in a body, might do excellent service against an enemy’. And he wryly observed that the best way to ‘compute the present strength of our country’ would be to determine the number of poachers that the squires had been unable to exterminate. Ferguson thus urged that ‘every restraint’ against owning and using arms be removed.13 He did not single out the disarming acts for Scotland, as his topic was restricted to the English militia. But he did suggest that the number of Jacobites in Great Britain was probably much smaller than imagined, and that the best protection against another Jacobite insurrection would be to arm men loyal to the Crown: ‘whilst the body of our people is disarmed, and pacific to a degree which tempts an invasion, we have reason to apprehend danger even from a few [disaffected]’.14 King George II was firmly against reviving the militia, so it is no surprise that two of his closest advisors, Lord Chancellor Hardwicke and the Duke of Newcastle, were the principal opponents of Townshend’s militia bill. According to one report15 of the debate in the Lords on 24 May, Hardwicke ‘spoke an hour; though no friend to foreigners, a friend to a militia, though an enemy to this Bill; it was a violation of prerogative, inconsistent with a commercial country; these were his two points’. Hardwicke clearly scored with his first point: the militia ought to be controlled entirely by the Crown. This point would later be adopted by Ferguson and incorporated in the revised Militia Act of 1757. But far less convincing, and far more controversial, was Hardwicke’s ‘second point: this country consists of merchants, artificers, and country gentlemen, all to be defended by an army; warlike ideas incompatible with trade; in twelve years, three hundred thousand men would be disciplined, &c’. The plan under consideration would train about 61,500 men annually, who would be selected by ballot and rotated every three years. Over twelve years about 250,000 men would be trained for the militia, with another 50,000 recruited into the regular army during the same period. Hardwicke calculated that every twelve years there would be at least 300,000 men trained to arms, and he regarded them as siphoned off from economic production. ‘Is it prob-

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able’, he asked, ‘that the same persons, after having been accustomed to arms and idleness, will ever settle to trades, agriculture, and industry?’ To drive this point home he asked his auditors to look to the Highlands of Scotland: ‘The practice and habit of arms made that people idle; averse to agriculture and labour; followers of sports, next of thieving, and at last of rebellion, a more extensive scene of plunder’. Only recently had legislation been passed to disarm them and force them to be industrious. Would it be wise to create a compulsory universal English militia and ‘endeavour to introduce the same disposition and habit into the common people of England’? Hardwicke concluded this part of his speech by emphasizing … that it is to this progressive change in your people, from arms to industry, that your commerce, your colonies, and consequently your riches are owing. What is the object of the present war? The preservation of that commerce, and of those colonies. If you turn the bulk of your common people into soldiers, what will become of all these? You may indeed stand upon your guard, with arms in your hands; but, in a course of years, I fear you will have nothing left worth guarding; an untrading, unmanufacturing, unimproved, impoverished, country.16

Hardwicke’s point is that commerce and the military spirit are essentially incompatible in a modern nation, and they can be made to be compatible only if they are kept independent of one another. Any attempt to combine them will inevitably lead to the ruin of commerce. His argument appears to have been accepted only by die-hard opponents of any kind of militia, and could not have been accepted by anybody who genuinely wanted an English militia to be revived. It is indeed a weak slippery-slope argument, and a writer in the Gentleman’s Magazine, fearing that some might mistakenly regard it as the strongest argument against a citizen militia, singled it out for attack. It is one thing to create an English militia as a ‘formidable body for defence’ against a French invasion, he argued, and quite another to make the country into ‘a war-like nation so as to ruin our trades and manufactures. The benefit of commerce is well-known, but in order for Englishmen to reap that benefit, is it necessary that they make themselves like their mercantile neighbours the Dutch, a rich defenceless people; amassing wealth and losing all power to keep what they have got’?17 Ferguson himself seems not to have thought much of Hardwicke’s argument, and the following eloquent passage was no doubt intended as a rebuke to anyone who might be taken in by it: But self-defence is the business of all: and we have already gone too far, in the opinion that trade and manufacture are the only requisites in our country. In pursuit of such an idea, we labour to acquire wealth; but neglect the means of defending it. We would turn this nation into a company of manufacturers, where each is confined to a particular branch, and sunk into the habits and peculiarities of his trade. In this we consult the success of manufacture; but slight the honours of human nature: we fur-

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Adam Ferguson: History, Progress and Human Nature nish good work; but educate men, gross, sordid, void of sentiment and manners, who may be pillaged, insulted, and trod upon by the enemies of their country.18

But Ferguson did not really believe that ‘self-defence is the business of all’, and excluded from his ideal militia many of the able-bodied men between 18 and 50 years of age that Townshend’s bill would have conscripted. In this respect Ferguson’s idea of a citizen militia was closer to that of the opponents of Townshend’s bill than to that of its supporters. Having a reformed militia was an extremely popular measure in the face of continual threats of a French invasion. That explains why Townshend’s bill went through the Commons so easily, and was stopped by the administration only in the Lords. As one political observer remarked at the time, the Court ‘endeavor by all ways to quash this Bill and to give as many sly and indirect slaps as possible’.19 To be sure, Townshend’s bill in its original version would have reduced the royal prerogative by giving Parliament a greater role in controlling the militia than existed in the Restoration Militia Act of Charles II, and Hardwicke’s objection to it on this score was widely accepted and incorporated into next year’s revised bill. But his other objections to the bill certainly were not of this high calibre. Besides his alarmist prediction that re-establishing a militia would ‘addict’ workers to arms and thereby completely ruin the country’s manufactures, Hardwicke made heavy weather of the bill’s proposal to exercise the militia on Sundays – something that Ferguson, though a clergyman, did not deign to address. But Hardwicke’s effective speech did not entirely discourage supporters of a reformed militia, who quickly discerned from it some concessions that they might make in order to get the measure accepted in the next session.20 As one observer noted, ‘the Chancellor hinted that if the number taken from manufactures had been only 30 Thousand, had not Sunday been appointed for exercises, and had the Preamble of 13 Ch[arles]:2nd been preserved in which the Prerogative was asserted, he might have supported the Bill’.21 But such apparent ‘hints’ of support for the re-establishment of a militia were in fact merely a ruse that did not disguise Hardwicke’s real sentiments from shrewd political observers with long memories. The following year Hardwicke and Newcastle ostensibly supported a bill that would raise a volunteer militia of about 30,000 men, less than half what the country Whigs wished to train annually. But they were really not interested in England having an effective militia at all, and continued to do everything in their power to scupper the project.22

Ferguson’s Militia Model Ferguson for his part genuinely believed that a smaller voluntary militia would be both morally and militarily superior to the larger compulsory one that Townshend and his followers preferred. He argued that a compulsory militia would be

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‘inconsistent with every degree of civil liberty’ and, while it might serve to train militiamen, it could not be depended upon to motivate them to fight. Quite the contrary. Fear and avarice are not the right motives to form a courageous militiaman; only honour and shame are. Hence Ferguson advocated that the militia should be restricted to ‘men of high mettle’ or ‘the most respectable part of the nation’ who are capable of acting from honour and who thereby deserve ‘marks of respect’. Unless the militia were restricted to them the country would have to depend upon militiamen motivated solely by fear and avarice. But, in that case, the militia ‘would render men brave from a principle of fear, or magnanimous from a mercenary motive’ – both of which he regarded as self-evidently absurd. Moreover, he argued that with a smaller voluntary force ‘more than half the purpose of a compulsatory law is provided for’: ‘inferior numbers governed by [a principle of honour] would form a greater strength and security to this nation, than any promiscuous multitude trained to other views’. Since ‘all our aim’ is to have an ‘invincible’ national defence, ‘a select band’ of men motivated solely by honour is the best citizen militia possible, even though he acknowledged that such a scheme might appear to most people to be ‘too refined and fanciful’.23 I have been interpreting Ferguson’s Reflections as concerned with creating the most effective militia possible. In this view it is not so much an argument for a militia as an argument for a particular model of a militia and the conditions of bringing it into existence. For Ferguson the ‘proper basis’ of a militia is twofold: ‘a general use of arms, and the love of honour’.24 Yet other interpretations of this pamphlet have been put forward, and it has been suggested that ‘improved national defense was only part, and the less important part, of Ferguson’s argument for a militia’: ‘the militia was first and foremost a school for virtue’.25 However, I can find no basis in Reflections for such an interpretation, and believe that it would be more accurate to say that for Ferguson the militia was first and foremost a formidable and potentially invincible system of national defence, but to be so it had to be restricted to those who were already virtuous. The lower orders of society are not virtuous, and can never become virtuous, so must be excluded from the militia. Here Ferguson may have been influenced by those opponents of the bill in the Lords who, like Lord Sandys, argued that men picked for a three-year period of service would likely hire substitutes: ‘every man of property who happens to be chosen by lot will pick up some loose, abandoned fellow to serve as his substitute: and of such only all the common men of our militia will always consist’.26 The Duke of Bedford in the debate had attempted to counter this line of reasoning by arguing that it would be too expensive for most people to pay for substitutes to serve in their places, ‘so that it will be every man’s interest to serve himself ’.27 But Ferguson seems to have implicitly rejected Bedford’s argument and to have believed that, unless the lower orders of society were explicitly excluded from serving, ‘our arms must come by substitution into

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the hands of the least respectable class of the people’; which explains his clear preference for a militia which ‘excludes all cottagers, day-labourers and servants’.28 To appreciate just how many able-bodied men this would exclude from the militia we need to recall that around this time the ‘lower orders’ of society constituted close to 80 per cent of the population of England.29 We have seen that Ferguson’s recipe as to how England should ‘mix’ the military spirit with commerce was out of step with that of the Country Whigs and more in line with the position of the Court Whigs who ostensibly supported only a select volunteer militia. It has been observed that Ferguson’s ‘restriction of militia service to freeholders and exclusion of the meanest, labouring classes point to a clear division of functions within society, with one class permanently engaged in economic activity while the other remains free to cultivate its military spirit’. In other words, for Ferguson ‘commerce and the military spirit can subsist together – if only they remain independent of each other’.30 It is ironic how close this appears to come to Hardwicke’s belief that the bulk of the population of England, most of whom were involved in economic activity of some sort, must be defended by a professional army, and that there must remain a clear division of labour between these two orders of society. But the difference between the two outlooks is not negligible, for Hardwicke’s England was to be defended entirely by a professional army, while Ferguson would supplement this force by a select volunteer militia drawn primarily from the propertied classes of society. Ferguson’s ideal militia was backward-looking, socially conservative and, as he perhaps recognized, probably ‘too refined and fanciful’ for a modern commercial society. But there was another militia model on offer that appreciated the economic and military flexibility of an extensive and compulsory militia that integrated military training with commercial activity for almost all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 50. It was this more forward-looking manner of ‘mixing’ the military spirit with commerce that Townshend and his supporters sought to establish. In this essay I have tried to show how Ferguson’s militia model appears to have developed as a reaction to this latter model. There seems to be no evidence that he was ever converted to it, and away from a select voluntary militia.31

5 FERGUSON’S VIEWS ON THE AMERICAN AND FRENCH REVOLUTIONS Yasuo Amoh

On 9 March 1776, The Wealth of Nations was published in London. Its author, Adam Smith, outlined the framework of a rising new economic world, and concluded his voluminous book with these words: If any of the provinces of the British empire cannot be made to contribute towards the support of the whole empire, it is surely time that Great Britain should free herself from the expence of defending those provinces in time of war, and of supporting any part of their civil or military establishments in time of peace, and endeavour to accommodate her future views and designs to the real mediocrity of her circumstances.1

Several months later, on 4 July, across the Atlantic, the American colonists proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, ‘that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown’. Although Smith proposed to ‘the rulers of Great Britain’ that ‘If the project [for possessing a great empire on the west side of the Atlantic] cannot be compleated, it ought to be given up’,2 he does not appear to have defended passionately the cause of American independence, or to have supported the rebel Americans. David Hume, who wrote to Baron Mure of Caldwell that ‘I am an American in my Principles, and wish we woud let them alone to govern or misgovern themselves as they think proper’,3 welcomed the proposal of some ministers in council that ‘both Fleet and Army be withdrawn from America’.4 Hume, however, died on 25 August 1776, shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. One of the signatories to that Declaration was John Witherspoon, an emigrant Scot born in 1723 (the same year as Smith), and one of the representatives of New Jersey to the Continental Congress. Having endeavoured to justify the independence of America in his writings and sermons, Witherspoon took ‘an active part in the debate leading to the adoption of the Articles of Confederation in the late 1770s’.5 Furthermore, Witherspoon taught a moral philosophy class at – 73 –

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Nassau Hall, part of the College of New Jersey, where one of his students was the young James Madison, who would later also attend the Continental Congress.6 While Witherspoon involved himself with utmost commitment in the revolutionary project, arguments against the independence of America were becoming predominant among the leading figures of the Scottish Enlightenment.7 As Richard B. Sher describes so vividly,8 the moderate literati of Edinburgh – William Robertson, Adam Ferguson, John Home, Hugh Blair and Alexander Carlyle – were strongly opposed to the American rebels. They loudly applauded Douglas, John Home’s patriotic tragedy performed at the Canongate Theatre in Edinburgh in December 1756, even as Witherspoon bitterly criticized its presentation.9 ‘Following the outbreak of war with the colonies’, Sher says, ‘William Robertson had postponed completion of the portion of his proposed history of America dealing with British colonization’, and ‘His original plan for a comprehensive study of early America had died with the British cause there …’.10 In their sermons and pamphlets, Home, Blair and Carlyle attacked the American rebels and called for forceful measures against them. Blair’s fast-day sermon has been unfortunately lost, but there remains his letter to James Boswell, dated 26 February 1777, in which he writes that ‘their [the Americans’] resistance is in my view rebellion in most criminal extent’.11 On the question of the American Revolution, Ferguson was opposed to Witherspoon, even though Witherspoon made use of Ferguson’s writings in his moral philosophy class.12 Born in 1723, the same year as Smith and Witherspoon,13 Ferguson studied first at St Andrews, subsequently taking up theology at Edinburgh, the same university as Witherspoon.14 Ferguson’s views on America were very different from Smith’s.15 However, his critical views on the American colonists were similar to those of Robertson, Blair and Carlyle, even though Ferguson did not immediately call for the use of force against the colonists. Yet he was unique among the moderate literati, for not only did he publish, anonymously, a pro-government pamphlet in opposition to Richard Price’s defence of the American cause, he was also invited two years later, in 1778, to accompany the British peace delegates, the Carlisle Commission, dispatched by Lord North to journey to America to quell the Revolution. As a means of elucidating Ferguson’s attitudes and actions regarding the American Revolution, I first examine Ferguson’s pro-government pamphlet, and in the next section I discuss his activities as the Commission’s secretary. In the case of American Independence Ferguson moved from advocate to agent, but shortly thereafter he also became an observer of events in France. In the third section of the essay, I consider how Ferguson, ‘the last survivor of a galaxy of great contemporaries’,16 understood the revolution in France. In the concluding section, I observe the differences between Ferguson’s views on the American and the French revolutions.17

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Ferguson’s Remarks on Price’s Civil Liberty In a letter addressed to Sir John Macpherson, his younger lifelong friend, Ferguson wrote: ‘I think Greenvilles Stamp Act a very unlucky affair for this Countrey. It has brought on a disspute in which this Mother Countrey … has made a very shabby figure’.18 Ferguson, however, could not find a means to achieve settlement of the dispute. He continued: ‘We are at once Tradesmen & Soldiers to America. When we bully them as Soldiers they threaten not to employ us as Tradesmen’. In those days he wished ‘that Some way coud now be devised of leaving us just where we were in Possession of all Monopolys with America’. Furthermore, Ferguson did not think that ‘there is a dignity in keeping aloof from present affairs & writing only for Posterity’. On the contrary, he believed that ‘what is done for today has more Effect than books that look big on the Shelve’. With the American crisis approaching, Ferguson would confess to Macpherson (in the letter just cited) that ‘I have often wished to be on the Spot that I might shoot at the flying follys of the times’. The opportunity to ‘shoot’ arose in February 1776 when Richard Price published his Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, the Principles of Government, and the Justice and Policy of the War with America.19 Immediately after its publication Ferguson wrote a counter-argument and sent it to the government. It was published anonymously with the following title: Remarks on a Pamphlet lately published by Dr. Price, Intitled, ‘Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, the Principles of Government, and the Justice and Policy of the War with America, &c.’ In a Letter from a Gentleman in the Country to a Member of Parliament.20 It was printed in London about one month after the publication of Price’s Observations.21 At the beginning of Remarks Ferguson critically reviews Price’s opinions on liberty. ‘The Doctor … puts Liberty in contradistinction to Restraint, and makes Restraint, in every case, the essence of Slavery.’22 In fact, however, Price considers liberty to be ‘Self-direction’ or ‘Self-government’, and reasons that, In every free state every man is his own Legislator. All taxes are free-gift for public services. All laws are particular provisions or regulations established by common consent for gaining protection and safety. And all Magistrates are Trustees or Deputies for carrying these regulations into execution.23

In criticizing Price’s views, Ferguson asserts that ‘Civil Liberty is not precisely a power to do what we please, but the security of our rights’,24 and he also appeals to Montesquieu: ‘Liberty does not consist in doing what we please. It consists in being free to do what we ought to incline, and in not being obliged to do what we ought not to incline.’25 In his masterpiece, An Essay on the History of Civil Society, written nine years before his Remarks, Ferguson emphasizes the importance of the citizens’ active

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participation in the political world. He argues that it is not ‘in mere laws’ but ‘in the powers by which those laws have been obtained . . . that we are to look for the securities to justice’. Statutes are only a record of the rights of a people expressed in the law, and ‘without the vigour to maintain what is acknowledged as a right, the mere records [are] of little avail’.26 However, such arguments as these are not found in the Remarks, where, on the contrary, he expresses grave doubts and anxieties about the benefits of extending to wider numbers of people the responsibilities of political participation. It is of great moment to extend the participation of power and government, as far as the circumstances and character of a people will permit; but extremely dangerous to confound this advantage with Civil or Political Liberty; for it may often happen, that to extend the participation of power, is to destroy Liberty.27

In the American crisis, Ferguson came to consider an increasing public participation in the political world as dangerous to the British polity. In Ferguson’s view, ‘under all the defects of the British Legislation, the subject enjoys more security than was ever before enjoyed by any people’.28 On the contrary, Price criticizes the British legislature, and states ‘that no one community can have any power over the property or legislation of another community, which is not incorporated with it by a just and adequate representation’.29 According to Ferguson, however, ‘the Colonies arrived at this happy state under the influence of British policy, and under the undisputed right of the British Legislature to bind them in all cases whatsoever’.30 He justifies Britain’s right to tax her colonies on the basis of her constitution. It was his deep conviction ‘that the Americans ought to contribute to the supplies of the empire’.31 Behind the opposing viewpoints of Price and Ferguson, we perceive their differing outlooks on the future of America. Price optimistically writes: ‘Our American Colonies, particularly the Northern ones, have been for some time in the happiest state of society; or, in the middle state of civilization, between its first rude and its last refined and corrupt state’.32 Furthermore, Price predicts that in boundless colonies, such as America, consisting ‘only of a body of Yeomanry supported by agriculture, and all independent, and nearly upon a level’, the means of subsistence would be easily procured and temptations to wickedness would be inconsequential. Therefore, ‘they must live at their ease; and be free from those cares, oppressions, and diseases which depopulate and ravage luxurious states’.33 Ferguson criticizes such an optimistic view: It is the fashion … to give high expectations of the great perfection to which human nature is tending, especially in America … But a republic extending 1200 miles in one direction, and without any known bounds in the other, is still an experiment to be made in the history of mankind.34

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What Ferguson most feared was the fate of ‘Democracies attempted on too large a scale; that of plunging at once into military government’.35 Towards the end of the Remarks, Ferguson denounces the Americans for encroaching on the rights of Great Britain, arguing, ‘the dismemberment of this empire will bring us back only to what we were about a century ago … But nations that have been high can seldom bear a fall’.36 Smith, as seen above, had asserted that Britain should free herself from the burden of maintaining and defending the Americans, who did not contribute to the support of the whole empire. By contrast, Ferguson considers the separation of America from Britain not as a necessary step in progress but as an avoidable regression of the mother country. Thus, Ferguson justifies the British hostility towards the American rebels, stating that ‘when the cause of our country is at stake, impartiality is but a doubtful virtue’.37 Here we may recognize a difference between Ferguson’s justification of British hostility against the American rebels and the antipathies of Blair and Carlyle. As Sher has pointed out, it was ‘the traditional format of Presbyterian political preaching, the jeremiad’,38 that reinforced the harsh attitude of Blair and Carlyle towards the American rebels. Earlier in his career, as chaplain to the Highland Black Watch Regiment, Ferguson employed the style of the jeremiad just as Blair and Carlyle did in their sermons during the Revolutionary War.39 Yet even if he was well acquainted with this manner of presentation, it was not the fervour of the jeremiad that motivated Ferguson’s stance towards America. As seen in the quotations above, he had a firm conviction that the British Empire must be maintained, including its American colonies. Nonetheless, Ferguson’s opinion on the American problem was ‘more flexible’40 than that of Blair or Carlyle. He welcomed ‘a motion for peace, suggested by a noble Lord [the Earl of Shelburne]’,41 an overture that Price mentioned with some approbation in the conclusion of his pamphlet. But Ferguson claimed that the mother country should not propose peace first to America. That is, the first step in forging a peace plan should be not ‘a concession on the part of the state’, but an ‘overture of submission on the part of its subjects’.42 Ironically enough, Ferguson himself later sailed for America with the Carlisle Commission, which would propose great concessions to America in order to forestall her independence.

Ferguson and the Carlisle Commission When the British army was badly defeated at Saratoga on 17 October 1777, the tide of war shifted in the Americans’ favour. On 27 October, when no information about Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga could have possibly reached Britain, Ferguson wrote to Macpherson that ‘we are certainly under a necessi[ty] at least

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for our own Credit, of giving that people … a sound drubbing’.43 But Ferguson appears to have become afraid that Britain would not be able to control the American colonists by means of ‘a sound drubbing’: ‘it looks as if no Calamity woud force them to Submission’. Furthermore, Ferguson opined in the same manner as Smith: ‘their Submission is not worth haveing. Their whole resource for any Visi[ble] time to Come will not pay the Army that keep[s] them in Submission.’ Then, he wished that, after giving America a single decisive blow, Britain could leave the arena with contempt: ‘I am partial enough to Great Britain to wish them in the bottom of the Sea’. In these opinions, we perceive not only Ferguson’s pro-British Empire stance but also his illiberal attitude towards the American colonists.44 Although he had written to his friend Macpherson the words just cited, Ferguson did not abandon his hope of maintaining a British Empire that included America. On 12 February 1778, after news about the disaster of Saratoga had echoed around Britain,45 he wrote to the same correspondent that he earnestly wished the present government would hoist sail to America in order to make a signal to the rebels ‘of an Intention not to Invade their Libertys but of a Resolution to support the Authority of the State by their destruction and at any hazard of our own’.46 To support the authority of Britain by any means was Ferguson’s consistent stance during the Revolutionary War. The defeat at Saratoga shocked the British government. Furthermore, France was about to enter the war on the American side. Under these circumstances, the British government was compelled to consider means for reconciliation with America. Lord North decided to send a peace commission to America in order to treat with the rebels and agree upon the means of quieting the disorders in the colonies. Frederick, Earl of Carlisle, William Eden (later Lord Auckland), George Johnston (the former governor of West Florida) and the Howe brothers, Richard and William, were chosen as its members. It was Johnston who invited Ferguson, then professor of moral philosophy at Edinburgh University, to go with the Commission to America. On 21 April 1778, the commissioners sailed for New York.47 On arriving in Philadelphia, they appointed Ferguson as secretary to the Commission. According to the ‘Orders and Instructions’ in the ‘Proceedings of the British Commissioners at Philadelphia, 1778–9. Partly in Ferguson’s hand’,48 the mission of the Carlisle Commission was to quiet the disorders in the American colonies by repeal of the oppressive acts enacted since 1763 and the grant of a full pardon to all those who had been in rebellion. After a reconciliation between America and Britain, ‘a General Assembly in nature of the present Congress or similar thereto, consisting of Delegates from the said several Colonies, should be constituted or established by Authority to meet in Congress for the better Management of the general Concerns and Interests to the said Colonies’.49

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The authority of the mother country would seem to have been greatly diminished under these terms. But the ‘Orders and Instructions’ continues: ‘the Sovereignty of the Mother Country should not be infringed, nor any Powers given or ascribed to it that should be capable of being construed into an Impeachment of the Sovereign Rights of His Majesty and the Constitutional Controll of this Country’.50 Furthermore, ‘upon the subject of Commercial Regulations’, the ‘Orders and Instructions’ asserts that ‘the prevailing Principle has always been to secure a Monopoly of American Commerce’.51 As for the Declaration of Independence dated 4 July 1776, the commissioners were instructed that it was not necessary to insist on its formal revocation because the British government had considered the Declaration illegal from its moment of promulgation.52 The American colonies were considered a part of the British Empire as before, and trade regulation was absolutely insisted on from the mercantilist point of view. Ferguson played an important role in the early stages of the Commission’s work in America. It was he who first tried to meet the members of the Congress in person, and to inform them of the Commission’s proposal for peace. But General Washington wrote to him explaining that, ‘I cannot grant the Passport … without the previous instructions of Congress upon the subject’.53 Congress, however, resolved not to enter into negotiations with the commissioners without ‘an explicit acknowledgement of the [i]ndependence of these States or the withdrawing his [the King’s] Fleets and Armies’,54 and therefore Ferguson was not granted access. As Commission secretary, Ferguson worked diligently. We can ascertain from the text of the ‘Proceedings’ that he wrote many of the Commission papers and certified most of the others as true copies. In the later stages of the Commission’s work, Ferguson was busy preparing the ‘Manifesto and Proclamation’,55 an ultimatum to the American rebels issued by the Commission before its members returned to England. The proposals in the ‘Manifesto’ were much the same as those propounded in the ‘Orders and Instructions’: ‘the benevolent overtures of Great Britain towards a Reunion and Coalition with her Colonies’. But the ‘Manifesto’ was addressed not only to the members of the Congress but also directly to the various colonial assemblies. In addition, it was addressed to ‘all others, free Inhabitants of the said Colonies, of every Rank and Denomination’.56 The ‘Manifesto’ offered not only a general peace to the American colonies at large but also a separate peace directly to each colony, plantation and province. The Commission, in effect, adopted a strategy of dividing the Americans into separate camps by offering a separate peace directly to each area. Furthermore, having pointed out that the alliance of the rebel colonists with France, ‘our late mutual and natural Enemies’,57 changed the nature of the conflict, the ‘Manifesto’ threatened that ‘Great Britain may by every Means in her Power destroy or render useless a Connexion contrived for her Ruin, and for the Aggrandizement of France’.58

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The strategy and threat were in vain, and on 19 December 1778 the commissioners returned to England without any results. In a letter of 9 February 1779 to Alexander Carlyle, Ferguson confessed frankly both his hopes and anxieties: I am in great hopes nothing will be lost not even the Continent of North America. We have 1200 Miles of Territory in Length occupied by about 3.000.000 People of which there are about 1.500.000 with Johny Witherspoons59 at their head against us And the rest for us. I am not sure that if proper measures were taken but we shoud reduce Johny Witherspoons to the small Support of Franklin Adams & two or three more of the most Abandoned Villains in the world but I tremble at the thoughts of their Cunning & determination opposed to us.60

The failure of the Carlisle Commission was denounced bitterly by Edmund Burke: ‘They enter the capital of America only to abandon it; and these assertors and representatives of the dignity of England, at the tail of a flying army, let fly their Parthian shafts of memorials and remonstrances at random behind them’.61 Thomas Paine also scorned the ‘Manifesto’ as ‘only a repetition of your former follies, with here and there an offensive aggravation’,62 and he stated more vociferously, ‘I consider you in this declaration, like madmen biting in the hour of death. It contains likewise a fraudulent meanness; for, in order to justify a barbarous conclusion, you have advanced a false position.’63 It seems hasty to regard all of the opinions and proposals of the Carlisle Commission as Ferguson’s. For example, the strategy (in the ‘Manifesto’) of dividing the Americans into separate camps had been stated in the ‘Orders and Instructions’ to the Commission. Therefore, we may suppose that it was not Ferguson’s own idea but a proposal that he, as secretary of the Commission, issued in accordance with the ‘Orders and Instructions’. Yet Ferguson did agree with the Commission on some matters. There remains a brief essay, ‘Memorial respecting the measures to be pursued on the present immediate prospect of a final separation of the American colonys from Great Britain’,64 in which Ferguson examined the disadvantages caused by American independence: [T]he final separation of North America from Great Britain and the consequent opposition of their interests, will render the navigation of the Atlantic, the fisherys of Newfoundland, the possession of the West India Island[s] and even the commerce of India at first precarious and in the end untenable to Great Britain without an enormous expence which even these objects cannot repay.65

We can easily see from these statements that Ferguson considered the independence of America as a detriment to the British Empire from the mercantilist point of view.66 Here the ‘Memorial’ and the Carlisle Commission shared the same stance. Furthermore, the ‘Memorial’ and the Commission shared similar attitudes towards an American government. Ferguson writes in the ‘Memorial’ that ‘the

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people of America in their several states or colonies be invited to chuse representatives, form their assemblys and meet in congress for their common safety, to restore the freedom of trade and in every other respect devise for themselves …’.67 This assembly, however, should be under the authority of the mother country just as stated in the ‘Orders and Instructions’ to the Carlisle Commission. The American people, Ferguson argues, ‘enjoy the advantages of civil government excercised in name of and under the authority of the King’.68 From these statements, we can conclude that Ferguson and the Carlisle Commission had almost the same views on the American problem. Ferguson, however, appears to have taken the state of affairs in America more seriously at this time69 than when he was in America as a secretary of the Commission. He writes at the beginning of the ‘Memorial’ that ‘The danger and the consequences of this separation are so great as to justify every tryal that can be made to prevent it’,70 and in the margin of the closing paragraphs he adds: It is however highly probable in the present situation of affairs that Great Britain, cannot relax her operations, give way to any claim of her ennemys nor abandon a single possession in America … If she is to withstand the dangers that now press her, she must stand on her present ground, or fall, she will grow weaker in her step. She retracts and weakest of all in her last retreat and within her own Isle.71

Around the time that Ferguson came back to Edinburgh in July 1779, fearing the unavailing protraction of the American war and the expansion of the war expenditure, Christopher Wyvill and others were organizing the Yorkshire Association, which is said to have ‘marked the first effective extension of modern political radicalism in Great Britain from the metropolitan region into the provinces’.72 Just before the great Yorkshire Petition (8 February 1780) was presented to Parliament, Ferguson wrote to Macpherson: ‘That county seems to be forming itself into a Republic … The Bulk of the Countrey Gentlemen throughout England I hope are on the Side of Government & Monarchy’.73 But, contrary to Ferguson’s expectations, the campaign spread in an ever-widening circle of counties and towns throughout England. On 14 November 1782, Wyvill, in consideration of the general spirit of Ferguson’s writings, describes him as ‘a Sincere and Zealous friend to the Constitution of our Country’,74 and sends him the proposal of the Yorkshire Committee for a ‘General Reformation’ of Parliament. In his reply to Wyvill,75 Ferguson states, after ostensibly encouraging the Yorkshire cause, ‘My own earnest wish has long been, that we had the same Law of Parliament with you as far as relates to County Elections’, but he then adds, ‘I confess that I do not hope ever to obtain it’. As these words suggest, Ferguson did not espouse the full range of proposed reforms. According to him, the beauty of the British

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Constitution is that, in spite of its many defects, it can withstand many evils without being overthrown.

Ferguson’s Observations on the French Revolution On 3 September 1783, with the signing of the Peace Treaty in Paris, the American Revolutionary War formally ended. The American colonists won their independence and Britain lost vast colonies. Although she was on the winning side, France did not gain corresponding advantages from her victory. The immense war expenditure plunged France into financial difficulties and fomented social and political unrest. By 1789 the French Revolution had begun. Ferguson was the only person among the leading figures of the Scottish enlightenment who lived long enough to see the French Revolution from the beginning to the fall of Napoleon. Affected with severe paralysis at the end of the year after his return to Edinburgh from America, Ferguson recovered his health and lived to be ninetythree years of age.76 Although he would not be an active partisan during the French Revolution, we find his observations on the progress of the great revolution in Europe in his letters to his friends (mainly to John Macpherson),77 and in two of his manuscript essays. On 19 January 1790, amidst many other developments in Europe, the retired Ferguson took notice of ‘a new Republick of France’ and wrote to Macpherson: People ventured to tell the Court of France that in abeting the Revolt of America they were setting a dangerous example to their own people … The Noblesse of France have had a greater fall than the King. It is resolved that for the future there Shall be no distinction of Persons in that Country … I think that what they are engaged in will make them better neighbours both in Europe & Asia than they have been heretofore.78

As noted in the previous section of this essay, Ferguson was, indeed, afraid of the appearance of a republic not only in America but also within Britain itself, namely, Yorkshire. Yet by 1790 he was inclined to expect that with ‘a new Republick’ the French would become ‘better neighbours both in Europe & Asia’. Nonetheless, Ferguson doubted whether the French people would be able to maintain the resolution of ‘no distinction of Persons’ in their country. Six months later, on 31 July 1790, he wrote to the same correspondent: ‘The French are too bussy translating their Monarchy into a Democracy to mind the translation of Books’.79 Here, Ferguson felt some apprehension that Jean Nicholas Démeunier, a deputy in the Estates General who was translating Ferguson’s History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic (1783) into French, was too busy at work on the political translation of the monarchy into a democracy to spare time for the translation of his book.80

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In his Principles of Moral and Political Science (1792), the manuscript he was probably writing at the height of the French Revolution, Ferguson observed: In the first attempts of the French Revolution to equalize the rights of men, a certain though a very small census was required, to entitle the citizen to a vote at elections. In a subsequent appointment this census was dropped; but still those who are to be governed by the law exercise their discretion, and menial servants are excluded.81

Although he did not approve of the Ancien Régime, in this descriptive passage Ferguson refrains from any criticism of the exclusion of menial servants from suffrage. But he contends that ‘surely the indiscriminate right of every one, whether capable and worthy, or incapable and unworthy, cannot by any means be admitted’,82 and he also approves of distinctions of rank based on birth or property. ‘It is even fortunate for mankind that a foundation of subordination is laid, too obvious to be overlooked by the dullest of men, or by those who stand most in need of being governed.’83 In Great Britain, notwithstanding considerable exclusion of the people from politics and elections, ‘the liberty of the subject is more secure perhaps than it ever has been under any other human establishment’.84 These statements clearly show that Ferguson, content with the status quo in Great Britain, nonetheless feared some of the social consequences of the revolution in France. Faced with these events, he stated definitely: Where people indeed act by representation, their liberty depends more upon the character of the representative, than upon the form of proceeding, or the number of persons who are admitted to vote at elections; and when this matter is settled upon any footing that is safe, stability is of more consequence than any advantage to be gained by change.85

In the essay ‘Of Statesmen and Warriors’, presumably written about ten years after the publication of his Principles,86 Ferguson contends that ‘genuine patriotism’ is more important than ‘discipline of army’, at least when it is inspired under ‘free constitutions of government, where no rank is depressed so low as not to feel its participation in the general wellfare’.87 Furthermore, he takes notice of the honour system for promotion in the army, in which anyone will be promoted to a higher rank, if his deeds and abilities are highly valued. In this context, and in admiration of ancient Sparta and Rome, he observes: The French Revolution has enabled the warrior to procure all these advantages in the form of his army … He can promote the private soldier if he deserve it through every rank to the highest. He has devised a gradation of honours … That his army conducted by himself should prevail in the contest with that of other nations in the continent of Europe is not to be wondered at.88

Here, Ferguson seems to gauge accurately the strength of the French army and to value positively the participation of the people in ‘free constitutions of gov-

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ernment’. However, in the Principles, he had approved not only distinctions of rank based on birth or property but also the exclusion of considerable numbers of people from politics and elections. Fascinated by ‘a flash of Democratical lightening, striking the Armies of France’,89 did Ferguson metamorphose into a democrat? Before answering the question, we must examine a second essay. In ‘Of the French Revolution with its Actual and Still Impending Consequences in Europe’, written presumably in or after 1806,90 Ferguson investigates the background of the revolution and describes its progress. The distinction between noble and commoner had been extremely rigid in pre-revolutionary France. ‘Renown or rank of service, even the crown itself, might give luster but not noblesse.’91 Birth, without character or personal achievement, raised the possessor above the mass of the people, however accomplished. Here Ferguson notes the fact that the French army excluded any commoner from promotion above sergeant in order to keep the army on the side of the nobility. Such precautions against the promotion of the low-born to higher ranks, Ferguson observes, had a counter-productive effect. Distinctions based only on birth had a tendency to corrupt the nobility and to animate the low-born with ambition to surmount their disadvantages. In addition, the ‘atheism and anarchy’ of the day accelerated the decline of the French nobility, and ‘an admiration of wit and literature’ gave the people in general openings to preferment. Ferguson, moreover, points out that ‘The court as usual intent upon pleasure only was become weak and profligate beyond any other part of the community’.92 After observing the decline of nobles and court, Ferguson remarks, in the same way as in ‘Of Statesmen and Warriors’, on the formidable energies of ‘a people that is roused to any great act of revolution in the prospect of some glorious change in favour of the people’.93 Here, however, he considers the French people’s formidable energies as a threat to her neighbours, especially Britain.94 ‘France is become dangerous. This was true. But the inference that followed, (let us make war upon her,) was inconsiderate and false.’95 Neighbouring nations could not understand a strategy against ‘such paroxysms’, namely, ‘left to themselves they generally break into divisions and waste their strength against one another’.96 The invasion by Prussia in 179297 united the ‘jarring spirits of revolutionary France’, but the subsequent retreat let France know its strength. It was the neighbouring nation’s invasion of France and France’s expeditions abroad that strengthened the French army and brought Napoleon to the political forefront. Ferguson regarded these developments, occurring after the revolution, as a menace not only to Europe but also to the world: ‘[I]f the ruler of France were as powerful at sea as he is by land, no state or province could be safe from California to Japan’.98 Ferguson thought of the appearance of Napoleon in the same

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light as that of Caesar,99 and he bitterly attacked ‘the partisans’ of Napoleon: They say, ‘he has given peace to the continent of Europe. What peace? Subjugation!’100 Moreover, Ferguson argued: [U]nder awe of this [French] power they [the continental nations] now cooperate with him [Napoleon] in the reduction of this island, although they must know that whatever indulgence they now enjoy is owing merely to the limit which this island [Britain] yet setts to his empire …101

As seen above, at the beginning of the French Revolution, Ferguson expected that ‘a new Republic of France’ would become ‘better neighbours both in Europe & Asia’. Furthermore he knew the vigour of mind inspired in free states. However, having observed both the social consequences of the Revolution and its potential threat to Britain, he could not, ultimately, welcome the development of a new republic in France. The growing strength of the French army was a menace not only to Britain but also to the world, including California and Japan, and, in light of these perils, Ferguson thought it important to strengthen Britain’s naval defences.

Concluding Remarks Ferguson’s view on the French Revolution differed from his judgement on the American Revolution. Behind his opposition to American independence we glimpse his mercantilist point of view. Although he shared the moralistic perspective of Blair and Carlyle, Ferguson did not appeal immediately to force. He wrote a pro-government pamphlet and welcomed Shelburne’s proposal for peace. Furthermore, Ferguson sailed for America, and he endeavoured, as secretary to the Carlisle Commission, to achieve conciliation between Britain and the American colonists. But the American colonists would not sit down at the negotiating table without recognition in advance of their independence from Britain. Moreover, they allied with France, ‘our late mutual and natural enemies’. The Carlisle Commission ended in failure. In so far as the American colonists fought for their independence, Ferguson regarded them as rebels, and thought it necessary to prevent American independence and to maintain the British Empire by all possible means. However, in part because Britain’s standing forces had trained and strengthened the American militia,102 America won her independence. The independence of this new nation was contrary to Ferguson’s wishes, but it proved the validity of his statement in his Essay: The sense of a common danger, and the assaults of an enemy, have been frequently useful to nations, by uniting their members more firmly together, and by preventing the secessions and actual separations in which their civil discord might otherwise terminate.103

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By contrast, Ferguson at first welcomed the appearance of a new republic in France, and expected that it would become a better neighbour. Ferguson was unique among the moderate literati in that he perceived the causes of the French Revolution, described its progress and understood the genuine patriotism and strength that a republican government inspired.104 But he was afraid of radical popular democracy, and it was his biggest fear that the British Empire would be defeated by France. However, he did not argue that Britain should make war against Napoleon, but that it should abstain from intervening. On the other hand, he stressed reinforcement of the British naval force against the French invasion. It was Ferguson’s conviction that the British Empire should neither be dissolved by the American colonists nor defeated by France. Ferguson’s strategies, however, were different. The British army had to defeat the American rebels. By contrast, he thought Britain should not make war against the French army in the throes of revolution.

Acknowledgements The author would like to thank the editors for their helpful comments and assistance in preparing the essay for publication.

6 POLITICAL EDUCATION FOR EMPIRE AND REVOLUTION David Kettler

Adam Ferguson is a disappointment to many of his commentators because he fails to develop the intriguing promise of An Essay on the History of Civil Society, as a dissent from the brilliant complacency about commercial society in the writings of David Hume and Adam Smith. His subsequent publications appear in contrast to be mere textbooks of conventional wisdom and aimed above all, to take up a theme from George Davie,1 at mending rifts in the formerly prevailing, unreflected philosophy of civilization which were caused by various audacious explorations of its grounds, notably by David Hume. On such an interpretation, Ferguson appears as a mere pedagogical pendant to Thomas Reid. This has never been my view. My own intermittent encounters with Ferguson’s writings, although they originated in a long-forgotten hope of clarifying a theoretical moment in the prehistory of Marxism, have featured a series of proposals for finding an interpretative frame of reference able to comprehend the entire composite ‘document’ presented by the records of Ferguson’s career. If philosophy is taken seriously as a distinctive kind of structure of knowledge, it follows that we have to find ways of characterizing different kinds as well. Michael Freeden’s concept of ‘political ideology’ is an influential current example.2 The way stations on the route of my travels with Ferguson are marked by concepts such as Karl Mannheim’s ‘style of thought of intellectuals’,3 Sigurd Burckhardt’s ‘complementarity’4 and Kenneth Burke’s ‘constitution’.5 In each of these settings, or so I argued, the conjunction of Ferguson’s forcefully stated reservations about commercial society and the cautious explication of his eclectic constructive model of moral theory could be explored and understood, thereby securing an appropriate assessment of Ferguson’s work. The present fragmentary exercise is less ambitious. The idea is simply to interrogate some illustrative texts derived from the lecture notes of Ferguson’s moral philosophy class, with attention to his revisions in the period 1775–85.6 The frame of reference now is ‘political education’7 as a distinct strand in the – 87 –

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lectures, corresponding to the expressly under-theorized ‘history of the species’ with which he begins his course, as well as to the section on the ‘political science’ with which he ends, after an interval of some sixty lectures. In relation to the conjunction of a science of human nature (pneumatics) and moral science, which is covered in the interim, Ferguson treats the first of these sections as heuristic propaedeutic, and the latter as matter for the ‘professional’ education of ‘the statesman or warrior’. Together, they constitute the practical interdependence of history and judgement, manifestly reminiscent of the civic humanist method and distinct from his systemically linked pneumatics and moral science. The dualism corresponds precisely to Francis Bacon’s own distinction between studies grounded in civil and natural history;8 and the introductory and concluding segments, taken together, correspond to the contents of An Essay on the History of Civil Society. Since these portions of the course take up almost 50 per cent of the total lectures, the sample for analysis must be further limited. I have chosen two concepts for attention, ‘empire’ and ‘revolution’. These are strategic concepts in the reading of Ferguson because they provide a link between the books written before and after his employment as professor, and because they also play a decisive role in the discourse constitutive of Ferguson’s most significant excursion into practical political life, his service as secretary to the Carlisle Commission of 1778. Briefly stated, the significance of ‘empire’ is the intimate relationship to despotism, expansion and the character of military organization, as well as to the design of international trade. ‘Revolution’, in its political usage, covers fundamental constitutional change, gradual or abrupt. In An Essay on the History of Civil Society, the cluster of concepts around empire serve to articulate the warnings about the dangerous trends within the burgeoning commercial civilization, while in the History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic, empire and revolution are the keywords of the regretful conclusion that the revolution that culminated in the reign of Augustus was an irresistible but far from disastrous or culpable consequence of imperial expansion. My suggestion is simply that Ferguson’s involvement in American affairs contributed to a political education that envisioned the possibility of encapsulating or hiving off the despotic elements inherent in imperial ventures and that taught the necessity of bargaining with even the most disorienting effects of revolution. I think that Ferguson first learned that lesson himself, notwithstanding the almost farcical failure of the Carlisle mission to the Continental Congress and Washington and his own subordinate and unclear role in it,9 and that he sought to impart that lesson to a student body, many of whom he thought destined for the emerging imperial civil service or professional army. This contextualization is not offered as an exposé of ideology, although it can clearly be viewed as revealing another ‘dark’ aspect of liberalism, especially

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when viewed retrospectively from the not unrelated standpoint of John Stuart Mill. The expansion of the scope of bargaining that I think is underway in these texts, the softening of the absolute conflict between empire and constitutional rule, has a curious resonance at the present time, when pluralistic political conceptions are learning to make do without benign premises about manageable common denominators – such as the notably fungible idea of ‘interest’ – in political deal-making. The text below is excerpted from my reading notes on Ferguson’s lectures, interspersed with annotations, in curly brackets, along with occasional notations, in square brackets, recording some feature of a phrase, such as its location in the margin of a page, or making minor editorial interventions.10 The headings, in their inconsistencies, are Ferguson’s own, although I re-sorted some pages in 1976, when I first worked in the archives. The sequence is based on the 1775–6 lectures, with revisions and replacements inserted after the original versions, except for some instances where a number of closely interconnected lectures are replaced and the revisions are similarly bundled. Ferguson’s own language is enclosed within quotation marks; the rest is selective and summary paraphrase. The whole is presented in an outline form absent in the original. Some explanation is required for the decision to publish materials in this uncertain, mixed format. As for the obvious conventional alternative of writing an extensive summary exposition, it would be impossible to transmit nearly as much information as at present, and the account would be pointless in any case without a simultaneous comparison with Ferguson’s own accounts of the lectures in several editions of his Institutes of Moral Philosophy and in the Principles of Moral and Political Science. The present author and the present occasion are both poorly suited for such a worthwhile, long-winded exercise. My aim is simply to expand efficiently on my earlier occasional illustrations and suggestions about the lectures, especially with regard to Ferguson’s politics. This aim also explains why the materials are offered in partially-digested form. The outline organization (elucidating my conception of Ferguson’s structure), the detailed notes and excerpts are intended to convey quite a lot of information, by no means limited to the points selected for annotation, and they are above all also designed to facilitate decisions by scholars new to the field whether to invest time and effort in the lectures. To avoid excessive fragmentation, the contextual boundaries have been broadly construed, at the risk of some duplication and inclusion of matter only indirectly related to the main themes. However unconventional the format, and however contestable the academic utilities I cite in its defence, my presentation as a whole is about Ferguson, empire and revolution – and notably about the recasting of his political thought from the Essay to the Roman Republic, as evident especially from the standpoint of political education.

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Ferguson’s Lectures on Moral Philosophy: Lecture 14, 1779 1. There are two alternate approaches, Epicurean or Stoic, to the question of whether man is social or solitary: all agree that men are in fact in society, but one group says this results from choice, the other, from necessity. {Note that the question of sociability is not translated into a ‘scientific’ one. Although the ‘history of the species’ is a heuristic inquiry, essential to moral and political judgement, the science of human nature, in the rigorous sense, builds on the ‘history of the individual’, which is systematically introduced in lecture 36. Ferguson anticipates the distinction in John Stuart Mill’s Logic between the richly suggestive historical method exemplified by Henri de Saint-Simon and Auguste Comte and the rigorous and methodologically individualistic methods of a science of mind. The great study of diverse ways of balancing these contrasting modes of social thought remains the neglected work of R. D. Cummings.11} 2. Ferguson’s explanation of society. a. Human life is filled with diverse connections – family, friendship, companies, etc.; the fact that man is both associating and political is clear. b. But what is the principle which accounts for this? Some acknowledge the fact of society, but deny the ‘principle of society’. c. [Handwritten insertion in later revision] ‘Societies may be conceived as formed on three separate principles. 1st The Society or intercourse of Rivals, Gamesters formed on competition and opposite interests. 2nd The Society of Traders formed on the principle of common or compatible interests. 3rd The Society of Friends formed on the principle of common or inseparable good. d. It may be a question which principle predominates but if they are all real, the Moralist can find little difficulty in making his choice.’ 3. Philosophical speculators build on the fact that there are societies founded on love, fear, interest or necessity. a. Families – love and natural affection; b. ‘Companys’– esteem or friendship; c. Nations – common interest and public spirit; d. Empires – force and dominion. {Ferguson’s pluralism encompasses qualitatively diverse types of association; he offers no commanding paradigm for ‘civil society’, as such. Social order is first of all a function of the ‘casual’ structure of subordination constituted by the contestable preponderance of power and authority resulting from these variously

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structured social relations, and it is institutionalized by political establishment. This is the first of several grounds for questioning the centrality of what has been conceptualized as ‘spontaneous order’ in Ferguson’s work.12} 4. Men become engaged to societies however formed, including those that are smaller than the whole: in this sense, antagonism to other groups is a concomitant of sociality. 5. ‘Hence it is that Man is by nature in a state of war as well as of amity.’ 6. These are the facts: Ferguson states that they will study the question of whether friendship or enmity is best in a later part of the course, where the subject turns to principles of choice.

Lecture 15, 1779 1. Is man born in society, tied to it by inclination and instinct, or is society adventitious, the result of force and convention? The proponents of the latter point to how force and hostility still play a part in society. 2. Ferguson states that war and amity are both parts of society; society is an object of ‘attachment and confidence’ as well as an ‘object of estrangement and distrust’. a. Society must protect itself against those ‘disposed to annoy’; b. Only small societies gratify our social disposition; c. ‘Great nations are formed on maxims of expediency or prudence & for the securing of their members. Empires are formed by Force to gratify the ambition of rulers or to suppress a dangerous rival.’ {There are two important points here. The first sentence epitomizes the argument in Ferguson’s 1776 pamphlet against Richard Price’s principled defence of the American rebels. Ferguson insists that the actual issues are practical questions of state policy, subject to negotiations and adjustment, although he recognizes that the rise of a new class of political actors creates grave obstacles in the way of bargaining. His own experience as secretary of the Carlisle Commission, authorized in 1778 to grant all the tax-related demands of the colonists, confirmed that the legal boundaries within which such negotiations could proceed were fatally vulnerable to the effects of distance, especially when these provided opportunities for a rival nation such as France. Second, accordingly, the question arises whether in his view even a ‘mixed’ government such as the British one can altogether avoid acting like a ‘despot’ if it has a far-flung empire. His characterization of empire remains moralistic, but the reference to rivals appears to bring the conduct within the range of ‘expediency and prudence’. This suggestion is made more likely by Ferguson’s reluctant but unambiguous political criticism, in his Roman Republic, of Brutus, Cicero

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and the other stalwart republicans. He characterizes the subject matter of the book as a history of the ‘revolution’ completed by Augustus, which he deems unavoidable under the conditions of empire. Ferguson has more than common familiarity not only with imperial problems relating to North America but also, through his prize pupil John Macpherson, with the transmutation of India into an imperial domain.} d. The term ‘society’ is ambiguous, sometimes referring to ‘plurality of individuals’ and sometimes to ‘political establishments’. e. In any case, hostility and force are no more remnants of some initial social condition than are amity and benevolence. f. Men tend to locate themselves within ‘separate groups’ and ‘partial societies’ and not with some ‘universal confederacy’; such groups experience conflict with each other. {Ferguson is referring to conflicts internal to nations as well as to international war. Andreas Kalyvas and Ira Katznelson,13 who have written well on Ferguson’s pluralism, may overstate the case for similarities to Carl Schmitt’s friend-foe simplification.14 Bruce Buchan’s recent work gets the balance right by emphasizing the distinct importance of the state’s capacity to make war, while recognizing that other capacities are no less important.15 In his Roman Republic, Ferguson balances his assessment of the brilliant Roman imperial programme of conquest by detailing its crippling defects in the development of economic policies and institutions.} g. The discussion of the fact of war and amity is confused by the determination to base society on either principle exclusively. h. If we settle the state of the facts, we must beware of the moral problem created by the prevalence of malice as well as benevolence, even as we prefer the latter for cultivation and choice. i. The facts show that men are not in one society but in many, and that men are rivals as well as friends. j. Yet one may anticipate the priority to be accorded friendship in ‘morality’ and sociality in ‘politics’. 3. The number, or population, of the species, which in the case of the other animals is a source of weakness or distress, is in the case of man a source of strength. 4. Three general laws define the circumstances on which the comparative increase of population depends: a. Law of propagation; b. State of subsistence; c. Security.

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Lecture 15, 1783 1. [Prefix to lecture 15] A more systematic view distinguishes societies of competitors, traders and friends, and these exhibit principles, respectively, of emulation, interest and love. {Note that competition is linked to emulation, not interest: in this sense, competition relates to status. Ferguson is closer to Thomas Hobbes than to Adam Smith on this point.} 2. The controversy about the origin and the animating principle of society is generally thought to be about principle, not fact. Ferguson challenges the very distinction: ‘But the question relating to the principle of society and the origin of society is the same. And the controversy takes its form from a supposition that there was a time when men were not in society. If by society we mean any congregation or plurality of men this supposition is false. For man is born in society & there he has universally remained.’ a. There is no evidence for a state of nature. b. ‘Question is not what made him enter into society? But what makes him remain in it?’ c. To meet the evidence offered by those who emphasize fear and interest, one need note the varieties of society and see that political establishments (nations and empires) contain smaller affection-bound societies. {Note that empires – and thus despotisms – are expressly included among political establishments consistent with affection-bound societies, thus marking a distance from the principle of ‘fear’ in Montesquieu, whom Ferguson generally follows.} 3. Beginning with rules to adjust disputes among separate interests, a casual superiority is transformed into government: ‘The abuses of casual subordination have led men to think of political institutions. Positive institutions have confirmed, altered or restrained the powers which arise from casual subordination.’ a. ‘Invention of forms in society’ is a main art: ‘inventions are successive and progress slow’. b. [Note change from:] ‘He is led and determined in every case by particular circumstances.’ [To:] ‘There are circumstances in every case that aid and that limit his choice and impede or facilitate his attainments.’ {The relationship between political establishment and patterns of social subordination, as well as the conception of political forms as inventions crafted by art, effectively precludes a conception of ‘spontaneous order’, given the centrality

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that Ferguson ascribes to political ordering. That Ferguson sees the work of politics as slow, resistant to speculative schemes and guided by circumstantial trial and error does not make it any less an organizational effort. A recurrent feature in the notes, as at this point, is the struggle between recognizing limiting conditions and accepting some form of historical or social determinism. Agency and collective responsibility are upheld, notwithstanding the recognition of unanticipated consequences of purposive action in several of the diverse senses of that protean formula, as analysed years ago in Richard Vernon’s critique of Friedrich Hayek’s thesis of unintended social order.16} 4. There are two classes of government: simple and mixed. The forms of government are four: democracy, aristocracy, monarchy and despotism. a. Democracy: i. Must be limited to societies of small extent because of the requirements for universal assembly. ii. Conditions and external circumstances of men must be ‘nearly equal’ to provide ‘perfect equality of political consequence’. iii. Both conditions, that of size and equality, are qualified because there is no perfect democracy. 1. [Written into margin:] ‘That state is nearest democracy from whose sovereignty fewest citizens are excluded.’ 2. [Written into margin:] ‘And we should admit under this denomination states in which the people act by deputies without ever assembling.’ b. Aristocracy: i. This form of government is defined in terms of the ‘Sovereignty of a select class or order of men’. ii. Aristocracy finds its setting, ‘Where the conditions of men are unequal & where they are easily divided into two classes as Patrician & Plebeian, Noble & Roturier, Lords and Commons’. iii. Within aristocracy, the divisions between classes may be extreme, though there may be equality within each class. c. Monarchy: i. A form of government manifest by rightful establishment with the support of a ‘continual gradation of subordinate ranks’. ii. ‘Where the society is extensive & the separation of ranks is extreme but gradual in the intermediate ranks, monarchy is the natural form of government.’ There is a ‘natural tendency’ towards monarchy. {Ferguson comes closest to deterministic language whenever he comes to speak of monarchy, which refers especially to Montesquieu’s France. The argument

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that monarchy is somehow the ‘natural’ outcome of development is reminiscent of David Hume’s views.17} d. Despotism: i. This form of government exhibits a master-slave relationship and embraces the rule of force, with the latter characteristic also attributable to collective bodies more generally. ii. Despotism is approximated in those empires of great extent and formed by conquest. {As with democracy, the morally supercharged characterization of the pure form of despotism is almost immediately qualified by an ‘approximation’ that brings it closer to ordinary political options.} e. Mixed republics: ‘societies that hang in suspense between democracy and aristocracy become mixed republics’. f. Mixed monarchies may be understood in terms of the following combinations: i. Monarchy + aristocracy = feudal state; ii. Monarchy + aristocracy + democracy = British constitution. 5. [Deleted passage]: ‘The Formation of Political Establishments has been progressive and slow. Each form appears to have its source in particular circumstances of extent, manners, and casual subordination.’ {It is not clear why this passage was deleted, unless it somehow sounded too naturalistic.} 6. ‘A few particulars relating to the origin and progress of different establishments.’ {Ferguson announces but does not fulfill his plan to compare the Roman, feudal and British constitutions.} a. It is an ‘Evident fact’ that societies start small. b. ‘Enlargement is a matter of progress.’ i. A small society (e.g. principality) ordinarily ‘needs no government’ and its people follow those with high personal qualities on ‘great occasions’. ii. ‘If the society does not greatly extend every change is to a republick.’ (This holds for a democracy, an aristocracy or a mixed constitution – e.g. Athens and Rome.) iii. If the society is extensive, with large property, then there is also much inequality. If there is a continued gradation of inequality with one race fairly paramount, then ‘Monarchy is scarcely avoidable’.

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iv. Despotism is ‘scarcely avoidable’ if many nations are conquered. {Ferguson uses the same, almost deterministic, formula for despotic constitutions of expansive empires as for monarchic, at least where there are continuous gradations, implying the possibility of variations in the degree of oppressive inequalities in both categories of government.} 7. ‘Mankind operate in detail and do not look forward to the whole result.’ {This is another of Ferguson’s frequently-cited references to the social mechanisms of unanticipated consequences of purposive actions, which are no less operative in the case of revolution than in the case of stable legal or social institutions.}

Substitute for Lecture 25, 1783 1. Inequality arises through ‘power & dependence, esteem & contempt, praise & censure’. To support the claim that social distinctions are ‘very generally if not universally known’, Ferguson cites terms for distinctions in several languages. {Subordination is a concomitant of inequality. In a sense of the term broad enough to encompass Ferguson’s concept of authority, all social relations have a power dimension. Such relations are qualitatively different, yet the preponderance of one or the other is historically contingent and not a matter of lawful progression or decline. This is another indication of the distance between Ferguson’s ‘political’ theory of civil society and more recent ideas of evolutionary spontaneous order, which are sometimes fathered on him. In line with the shorthand comments made on earlier points, Ferguson can be said to be closer to Max Weber’s focus on transactions of power than to Friedrich Hayek’s emphasis on evolutionary selection.} 2. ‘Men of speculation’ differ as to ‘origins of inequality and subordination’ and the ‘right to superiority in some particular instances’. a. This discussion is concerned with facts, not rights. b. ‘The original state of man is supposed to be of great consequence.’ 3. Three steps are required if one is to ‘state and conceive the facts clearly’: a. Discern the causes of distinction; b. State the effects separately, ‘whether power & dependence or authority & deference. c. Origin of causes: original & coeval with human nature or adventitious’; d. Note the variation in effects: progressive, stationary or retrograde.

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{Ferguson’s organization is not altogether clear. The three ‘steps’ relate to the distinction among different origins or causes of subordination (a and c), as well as to two levels of effects (b and d).} 4. There are three causes of subordination: a. Physical advantage (physical or intellectual qualities), arising from: i. Strength of body or mind: strong-weak, majority-minority; ii. Persuasion from men of parts, overawing by men of courage; iii. Voluntary act: ‘They receive a willing submission from those who experience the benefit of their direction or their protection’. iv. In all instances, physical advantage yields power and dependence. b. Merit and demerit: ‘Unequal measures of good will or of malice’. i. Its effects are, for example, esteem and trust. ii. ‘There is a species of power constituted by the [superiority of the] one & of submission and deference by the other. But the power is not assumed & the submission reluctant.’ c. Circumstance or situation: riches and poverty, magistrate and subject. 5. Origin of causes of inequality: a. Physical distinctions original: ‘The attempts of Rousseau to evince the equality of the animal man in a supposed state of brutality altogether vain.’ {Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origins of Inequality is much on Ferguson’s mind throughout. This work clearly disturbed the Edinburgh intellectual set, as witness Smith’s review in the second issue of the short-lived original Edinburgh Review of 1755–6.18} b. Yet physical distinctions are nevertheless variable and may be progressive or retrograde: i. Bodily strength despised; ii. Majority strength prevails still; iii. Personal qualities and courage may not have the same effects where advantages of situation and hereditary distinctions progress. c. Merit or demerit: ‘Dispositions’ differ in infancy and must therefore be coeval with the species.

Sequel of Substitute for Lecture 25, 1783 1. A summary recapitulates the effects of the causes of inequality. a. Power and submission: whether reluctant or willing; b. Authority is unassumed and deference is voluntary; c. Influence and compliance;

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{Note this distinct dimension of influence, which corresponds presumably to the differences in ‘situation’. It is applied later to the position of the king vis à vis a parliament that is ever less likely to defer to the king as authority or to accept him as superior in power. The evident weakening of the other principles of subordination may enter into Ferguson’s uncertainty as to whether the mixed form can sustain itself.} d. Ferguson reintroduces the ‘servile’ who give to the fortunate what is, in fact, due only to merit: ‘with such men it is not safe for any person who would keep his rank to neglect his equipage or dress’. {Every version of the lectures includes some such advice on dress code, which stands out by its amusing specificity and appears to be aimed at the sloppy appearance of Ferguson’s pupils.} 2. Summarizing the origin of effects, Ferguson now remarks that the fluctuations in the importance of unequal strength vary ‘not by any fixed rule of progression’. 3. A discussion of merit and demerit launches a digression on virtue and vice. a. Virtue and vice are coeval with human nature. b. They fluctuate according to qualities ‘most necessary in their condition of life’. c. ‘But as there is a condition many respects common to mankind, so the requisites are also common.’ These include benevolence. d. Some fluctuations are due to interest, licentiousness or mistaken objects. i. Savage nations are praised by travellers, and there is a strong influence of virtue ‘in small communities among men who have a common cause’. ii. Virtue has the least influence among men who are rivals and competitors. iii. ‘The history of virtue and vice ably stated would make a curious subject.’ iv. It is important that one does not in any case so confuse the fact of the fluctuation of virtue (or its mixture) that it affects one’s judgement of what is good. e. To be virtuous, men must be qualified for an active part. i. Qualification requires a mind or temper independent of events. ii. Some have it without effort: ‘If such men were always happy in the choice of conduct, their virtue would be compleat. It is most common in men of dissipation and amusement.’ iii. ‘Men of business’ are too committed to their objectives. iv. ‘In reason’ it is the quality that may be properly said to belong only to those ‘who make it their object to act properly on all occasions’.

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v. Ferguson slightly revises the text which originally speaks of the corrupt times when virtue has little authority. [Revision:] When license and the oppression of power founded on external advantage and force ‘advance in their effects the empire of virtue declines. It is nevertheless real and is one of the sources from which government forever springs up in human society.’ {Note the conjunction between authority in the best sense and government. It is important that Ferguson makes this association in the context of elevating the political vocation, not of enjoining passive obedience. Whatever its vulnerability and faults, government is a manifestation of virtue. This supports the view that Ferguson sees himself as an educator of the officials who are streaming into the British civil and military services out of the Scottish universities.} 4. The sort of inequality based on external circumstances increases with the progress of arts, from near equality, and it impairs the effects of other causes. a. One may distinguish the ways in which principles of differentiation change among men. b. The fluctuation in the ‘empire’ of virtue and personal qualities occurs ‘not by any fixed rule of progression’. c. Distinction based on wealth or birth ‘progresses with the progress of the arts’. d. Distinction based on office ‘has an origin, Progress, and termination regulated by the formation, advances, and revolutions of government’. {If there is no law of progress or decline for the ‘empire’ of authority grounded in virtue, and if the power and inequality generated by wealth and birth increases with the progress of the arts, then the role of government in counteracting social power must rise in importance. The political sphere is ever more important as a corrective to the changes attending commercial progress.} 5. Personal distinctions, physical and moral, are ‘coeval with the Species’: ‘The subordination and government which results from thence is original. This is sufficient to give some order and form to society prior to any other causes of distinction. The subordination of weakness to strength of mind is spontaneous and unobserved. Deference to the authority of virtue is voluntary or matter of choice. The superior has no interest in carrying his ascendant further than it will naturally go. The inferior has no interest in disputing it. This principle of government is sufficient in families and in simple companies of men and is that which leads in many republicks.’ 6. Ferguson disputes the common pattern of beginning the history of government with the establishment of something new and for the first time, rather

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than as the correction of something already existing: ‘This is a pardonable way of considering and stating the ends & advantages of government in general & the comparative advantage of particular models, but false and unsupported by evidence when stated as an historical fact’. {Note the comparatively sophisticated concession to a hypothetical model as a heuristic device.} 7. Men are always ‘found in society acting in some form’ which they change in particulars but not in everything. 8. He stresses again that though man ‘is qualified by degrees to mend his condition’ by his destination for invention and progress in the arts, he can always subsist.

Lecture 30, 23 December 1779 1. There exist discrepancies in voter qualifications between England and Scotland: ‘So that the List of Commoners or Freeholders bears a less proportion to the whole numbers of the people in Scotland than in England. This list is increased in number by the splitting of great estates. This tends to give political consequence proportional to property. The lower qualification has the same effect in England’. {Although Christopher Wyvill, the leader of the Yorkshire Association, assumed that Ferguson would be responsive to his effort to expand his reform agitation to Scotland, Ferguson is quite cool about the differences in franchise that would be the focus of the county and borough reform groups there.19 Since Ferguson nevertheless repeatedly raised the matter in his lectures over a number of years, it is reasonable to suppose that it was an issue among his students. At least one of Ferguson’s students evidently challenged him on the point. In the notes for lecture 53 (as given on 7 February 1780), Ferguson takes time to comment on essays submitted by his students. The only paper he criticizes as ‘still defective’ is an essay called ‘Ancient and Present State of the British Constitution’. Ferguson’s first point has to do with the student’s objections to the state of the borough franchise and to the failure of representatives to act as agents for their constituents. Ferguson objects that the changes intended by the student would bring on the evils – presumably of democratic attacks on property – that representation is supposed to avert. Even more pertinent to our present interest is Ferguson’s second point, his rejoinder to the complaint against the ‘supreme influence of the Crown’: ‘This is no doubt very great. But there are certain limits to the force of influence in determining those who have property and political rights at stake. And even if we supposed the will of the King to prevail in England as it does

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in France, yet still it is of much consequence by what means the compliance is obtained whether by Force or by Persuasion and Influence.’} 2. Ferguson offers some general reflections on constitutions and conquest: ‘There is a constitution of which no particular man or particular set of men was the Founder raised upon a casual foundation and gradually perfected by the attention of all parties to enforce what was necessary or expedient in respect to their several conditions and functions. Particularly of the commons to enforce the pretensions of their own. Men even judging impartially in questions of political expedience or choice must be determined by circumstances. Amidst Parties contending partially for their respective advantages the choice will be determined by the interest character and will of those who are condition to make it. {Ferguson resists a reductionist rendering of political aims, notwithstanding his realistic understanding of the circumstantial constraints on political collectivities. Despite the indicated deletion, he does not exclude ‘interest’ as a possible purpose.} Where the people prevail, Democracy. Where the Nobles, Aristocracy. Where the Prince, Monarchy. Where any two or more of these Powers operate in any constitution, the transition from mixed to a simple or from the ascendant of one power to the prevalence of another may be gradual. But the introduction of any new power is generally violent. Hence the Transition from Republic to Monarchy or the converse is violent. But upon great changes of Circumstances nevertheless frequent and unavoidable. {Lecturing ten years before the French Revolution, Ferguson anticipates his curious and calm reaction after 1789. War is regrettably normal, and not even domestic violence is necessarily an opening to chaos and confusion.} The Progress of States in extension and wealth are fraught with political change and vicissitude. Conquests made by military force are preserved by military government and lead to despotism. The weak are subject to this calamity because they are conquered and the strong because they are conquering. Here then all prosperous nations would land involving both the conquering and the conquered. If various accidental difficulties did not suspend and impede their progress. {The logic of empire is interrupted by accident, just as the British constitution was kept from following the course of European feudal monarchies by the accidental separation of Lords and Commons. Notwithstanding valuable generalizations, political analysis remains inseparable from the particulars of narrative history. Ferguson can be said to anticipate what Charles Tilly calls the method of ‘superior stories’ for answering the ‘Why?’ of his inquiries.20} And here all nations who arrive at this extreme would remain forever if the vice of the establishment were not sufficient to destroy it. Military force from extreme confidence in its own strength becomes corrupted and weak. And

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under its keeping the greatest fabric moulders into dust. Mighty empires dissolve into their original elements of small and disconnected parts.’ 3. ‘In one sense the career of fortune is independent of human power. For no single man or number of men plan & execute it or are in no condition to stop or execute its course. And yet the whole is the result of human nature and the actions of men. What is the individual to do afloat upon this torrent? To commit himself to its direction without any effort! No. For if every individual were to do so there would be no torrent. And if men were to do so in every single instance there would be no action. The torrent is formed by united impulses of such efforts as his own. And the direction is taken from the prevailing dispositions of men, not from any external or fatal necessity. And every individual is to consider himself as a constituent part of the moving power, not merely as a matter to be moved or disposed of by another. It would be absurd to acquiesce in any defect because defects are real. Or to decline any advantage because those that we choose may not be obtained. Human affairs are mixed and it is the object of man to hasten and increase the good, to retard and diminish the evil. It is not even in the power of man to refrain from acting this part to the amount of his conception. He pleads fate sometimes to excuse his not doing what he is otherwise averse to attempt. The object of this place however is to state facts, not to point out objects of choice. These however intrude themselves whenever the materials from which they arise are presented. And it is of moment to remember that facts are enumerated and particulars brought under review for the purpose making us acquainted with the field on which judgment and choice are to be exercised hereafter.’ {Note the metaphor of the flowing stream; it recurs in Ferguson’s discussion of revolution in his final lecture. That application distances the metaphor from ‘spontaneous order’. Once again, it is important to distinguish between ‘unanticipated consequences’ and ‘spontaneous order’, which is merely one among a number of types of unintended outcomes. The choices of greatest interest to Ferguson are political choices and the outcomes of greatest importance are practical constitutions.} 4. ‘End of History’ [in margin]: ‘To be well versed in the manner and genius of human conduct in what relates to commerce, war, and politics is to know mankind and possess the principal elements of the Statesman or the Warriors Profession’. {Note that this professional training, the objective of the segment dealing with history of the species, does not in itself require the ‘science’ that derives from the history of the individual. The more generic pedagogical goals, for students with different aims, are laid out under the succeeding point.}

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5. ‘Manner of proceeding in this place’: a. To prompt and to assist those who are first forming ‘habits of inquiry and disquisition’ and to identify the ‘preferable object’ and the right road to those who have such habits. b. At the outset, one must learn some things by rote, but what counts are ‘habits of thinking’. c. The exertion of mind is necessary to acquire force of mind. {Ferguson here offers a rare reflection on his objectives in teaching, implicitly distinguishing the ‘manner of proceeding’ in the classroom from the conduct that would be (more) appropriate in some other place.21 Since force of mind is one of the physical sources of power, Ferguson’s threefold programme can stand as a curious enactment of the Baconian motto that knowledge is power. In fact, Ferguson elsewhere nods in the direction of the more usual construction of that formula, where he speaks of science as a way to improve art, which enhances command. That Ferguson most often does not think of the statesman’s or warrior’s professional qualifications in this instrumental way does not distinguish him from Bacon himself, whose essays and civil histories are similarly linked to judgement of a different kind.} d. One must commit one’s thoughts to writing and write essays for submission.

Lecture 92, 12 April 1776 1. ‘The profit of commerce to the state is the accumulation of commodities resulting from the encouragement of industry.’ a. We distinguish foreign from internal trade. b. [Margin, in later handwriting:] ‘If every trade could be carried on between the subjects of the same state, it would be the most advantageous.’ [Marginal notes press the point] The importance of trade between ‘contiguous’ husbandman and tradesman, over against the ‘false idea of profit, which is supposed to arise from foreign trade alone’. c. The larger the state the less the external trade: e.g. the Roman Empire and China. {This curious preference for autarchy, one of several indications of Ferguson’s difficulties with Adam Smith’s priorities, has an unexpected sequel in the citation of the Roman Empire and China as examples of states that meet this desideratum. The latter remark is especially striking since Ferguson criticizes the Roman Empire for its failure to develop a productive economy and he takes China, in the Essay, as the model of the worst fate for a purely commercial society.}

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d. The profits of foreign trade are mutual. [Later qualification: ‘but not always’.] e. There is a difference between the balance of trade measured by price and that measured by value. The balance is properly to be taken from the latter, as well as the balance of price. 2. On the uses of money in domestic and international trade. [Section crossed out in later ink.] a. Bills of credit instituted to lessen the need to import money for domestic transactions and to save wear and tear. Money enables the extension of credit and is useful ‘to an industrious and thriving people’ but it is ‘pernicious to [the] spendthrift’. b. In international trade, the balance must be righted by money, which is valued by international standards of metallic purity. Bills of exchange may also serve. c. A devaluation of currency occurs when a nation has an unfavourable balance of price, because of cost to creditor of securing payment where there is no bill of exchange.

Substitute for Lecture 97, 21 April 1783 1. Political establishments as a ‘fortress’ under which there is political and civil liberty. They need entail no sacrifice of ‘liberty’. [In margin: ‘Consent’.] 2. Happiness resides in character and it is ‘not the effect of external circumstances or the gift of one man to another. Nevertheless as men are variously formed in the school of society. This happiness or misery may sometimes be traced to the establishments of their country.’ a. [Margin:] ‘The state of society whether happy or wretched is external to every individual. At the same time the character of the individual is the element of which the happiness of society is formed.’ b. To the citizen, the love of mankind is the love of country: ‘Every virtue may spring from this, and an ardour in the cause of our country whet the understanding, give application to serious affairs. Courage and elevation of mind.’ c. Affectionate regard for parental provision of justice. d. ‘Men are gained by confidence & derive elevation of mind from engagement in the pursuit of noble objects.’ e. ‘They love situations where they are properly occupied.’ f. In summing up the relations between these constituents of happiness and ‘the establishments of the country’, Ferguson observes that the former are ‘Tendencies of the greatest moment in the opposite extremes of political freedom and servitude’.

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3. With this understanding of safety and happiness we can distinguish ‘preferable establishments and form principles of political conduct’. 4. ‘Men have their sects in Politics as well as religion. They are sometimes partial, sometimes adverse to the forms of their own country. They espouse as the cause of mankind what they wish for themselves consider fitting for their own country. {The deletion represents a small change, consistent with earlier resistance to conventional interest-charged expressions. ‘Civic virtue’ is never wholly abandoned.} Our choice in every instance must be directed by the character and circumstance of the people. The character of the people in this view of it results from the degree of virtue or other principle on which they may be governed. Their circumstances are determined by their casual subordination & the extent of empire.’ {The extent of empire remains a key variable even in the most compressed statement of the overall thesis on the need to qualify optimal political preferences in the light of circumstances. The other variables, listed below, are a mix of social and cultural factors.} a. Degree of equality. b. Degree of admiration for equality. {Note this interesting new ‘ideological’ criterion, a subjective element to go with his more usual objective circumstances.} c. ‘Governed’ by consciousness of virtue, honour or fear. d. A small population or a larger one that is either collected in towns or villages or spread over extensive territories. 5. Four ‘cases’ of contrasting configurations: ‘But every supposed variation in the case requires or recommends a different choice’: a. A small population, ‘nearly equal’, collected and ‘perfectly virtuous’, points to democracy; b. A distinction of classes, and ‘concessions of inequality that accompany it’, points to aristocracy or mixed government; c. A larger extent of territory, a differentiated gradation of ranks and the principle of honour point to monarchy; d. ‘Still greater territorial extent, vice and profligacy require the government of force and serve as an apology for despotism. But it is probable that men are nowhere so bad as to render absolute servitude the only state of which they are susceptible.’

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{In this case, extent of empire is not expressly included, yet, as in earlier discussions, the condemnation of despotism is made subject to being a matter of degree.}

Substitute for Lecture 98, 22 April 1783 1. ‘That political institutions procure the safety of the people in proportion as they are adapted to the circumstances and character of the people.’ a. ‘There are zealots for every form’, but the variety of governments remains to be recognized. b. These are to be related, most importantly, to the specific character of the ‘casual distinction of ranks’ and to the extent of the domain. 2. ‘As the propriety of political establishments is to be decided hypothetically we may refer the whole subject to four cases.’ a. The form of democracy requires equality, small extent and perfection of virtue. i. ‘They who wish for the form ought likewise to wish for the condition & both together make a noble object of choice … but to contend for the form … in any case to which it is not accommodated would be highly dangerous. Great Britain in particular is far removed from this case.’ {This deletion is interesting both because Ferguson considered making the point explicit and because he then decided against raising the question.} ii. ‘This case nevertheless must be admitted as the ideal point of perfection from which every deviation is defect in human affairs.’ iii. This ideal is ‘Nowhere realized’, for there is a ‘mixed condition of men, &c’. iv. Given these diversities, ‘Choice must vary’. b. In general, given a mixed character, various degrees of adventitious distinctions, and diverse extents, we must choose best among aristocracy, mixed republic or monarchy. c. Monarchy: ‘Where the principle of honour or the love of distinction comes in place of virtue or the love of equality, a continued gradation of ranks, territory of considerable extent. Such circumstances lead to monarchy and render it not only expedient but necessary’ [Ferguson’s original emphasis]. i. ‘Occasional struggles for an aristocratic or republican mixture or for despotism constitute a state of violence or short duration. ii. The state ever settles in an acknowledgment of supreme monarchical authority and the King ever obliged to reign according to fixed and determinate laws.’

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d. The case of a perfectly vicious people without any distinctions: i. This is imaginary, like the first case. ii. The vicious must be restrained and since they can be restrained only by fear, force must be used. iii. ‘To govern territories of great extent tho’ inhabitated by ordinary men discretionary powers are necessary. In extensive empires secrecy and promptitude are so necessary as to require discretionary and irresistible power. Empires are formed and preserved only by military force’ [Ferguson’s emphases]. iv. The question of discretionary power and force raises the question of whether there are any checks: religion and manners are the only ones possible. v. ‘Occasional applications of discretionary power and force may be necessary but continued despotism is never to be considered as an object of choice but the last stage of corruption incident to mankind and continued discretion may be necessary in some instances, but it is certainly not an object of choice where it is not so.’ {Notwithstanding the highly moralistic setting of this fourth ‘case’, Ferguson surprisingly turns it into a discussion of functional requisites of large empires and the problem of emergency powers, coming to a conclusion that can almost be labelled wistful.}

Substitute for Lecture 99, 23 April 1783 1. Two extreme cases represent situations towards which affairs may tend but never fully arrive: one shows what to aim for, the other, what to shun. a. Under conditions of virtue and a concentrated small population, democracy is best. b. Where there is vice, ‘coalitions’ may serve as ‘antidote’ because they extend ‘that peace which is the effect of political establishments’. {This tends to confirm the emphasis on pluralist bargaining in some recent scholarship.22} i. ‘But when carried too far, they may introduce worse evil and continual state of war between the governing and the governed.’ ii. This would be a war between the injurious and the injured, ‘even when the latter does not resist’. c. A master of despotism becomes a prisoner of the very army he uses for oppression.

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d. Force is a constituent of all governments, but ‘it is extremely absurd to contend for despotism as the preferable model’. 2. We should turn to the maxim that the distribution of offices should be adapted to the constitution. 3. ‘Revolution consists in transferring legislation’, but it may be gradual nonetheless. 4. Sovereign power comprises legislation, jurisdiction and execution: these functions should be separate. a. A judge should (1) know law and (2) ‘be interested in the justice of his decree’. i. In the administration of justice, it is best to combine members of the people with officials, who may instruct them. ii. ‘Revolutions prepared by transferring the judicature’ [in margin]. {Two unexpected remarks on revolution, although the former would follow from a Lockeian analysis. The second remark corresponds to an observation in Ferguson’s Roman Republic, where he emphasizes the shift in jurisdictions as an element in the ‘revolution’ terminating the republic.23} b. The executive wields the force of the state, for the preservation of society, by giving effect to laws and against foreign enemies. i. Distinguish monarchical and republican organizations. ii. Power most subject to abuse in executive. 5. ‘The safety of the people depends greatly on the choice & constitution of the military force.’ {This passage requires amplification by reference to an earlier lecture, below, in which Ferguson’s advocacy of the militia is relativized.}

Lecture 89, 9 April 1776 [This lecture is also expressly dated 1780 and 1784. There are corrections in another hand, which could be that of Dugald Stewart, who was Ferguson’s successor, although resemblance to other Stewart samples is not clear.] {1. Ferguson returns to the theme of defence. a. ‘When the abilities of the statesman and those of the warrior are separated, the statesman becomes a clerk and a babbler and the soldier a mere gladiator or executioner.’ b. There is some necessity that requires professionals: ‘In the advanced state of arts, commerce and national enlargement there arises a species of military service for which the labourer & the trader wants leisure and in which the persons of rank have not sufficient inducements of honour. There is an

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ordinary garrison duty. Distant settlements to be maintained and distant wars to be supported.’ c. Yet there is a ‘Public loss’ if a tradesman is taken from his workshop or a statesman from his department and ‘no honour to be won for the man of rank’. d. A professional army ‘must be formed’, with appeal to highest possible ranks because the service performed by this profession is very honourable. e. People and gentlemen to be trained for self-defence: they will overcome inferiority to professionals in case of necessity: discipline can be acquired and strong motivation will be present. f. A defence policy must not ‘suffer the great body of the people to become less warlike or more corrupted than necessary’. g. ‘This is a corruption to which nations in the advanced ages of commerce & separate professions are extremely exposed. The proper cautions against it are therefore a principal object in the policy of reflection if ever such a policy makes any progress with mankind.’}

Lecture 100, 20 April 1776 1. All cases under this category [states of (i) no small extent or (ii) large common virtue] suppose enough virtue that some at least among people are ‘worthy of a share in the government’. a. ‘Under the term virtue, in this case, we understand such a sense of public consideration as lead men to the necessary sacrifices of private interest. Even of vanity and ambition.’ b. If this supposition does not apply, then ‘we must suppose them to be governed by the sense of personal honour or by mere motives of fear’. 2. Third case [(iii) monarchical]. a. ‘They consider every action as it raises or degrades, never merely as it is just human or due to the public.’ b. ‘Place of every person is marked out by a distinction from those above and those below.’ c. ‘Gradations … naturally terminate in monarchy.’ d. The King is the ‘center of honour’. e. Contrast conduct under these conditions with republican virtue. f. ‘The character of the people … disqualify [some] … and fit [others]’ for military or other political function. g. ‘Extent … makes [monarchy] … still more necessary.’ h. ‘Even select numbers brought from a distance can have no common maxims of conduct.’

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i. But a king ‘is confined by insurmountable bounds to what is honourable for himself and his subjects’. 3. Fourth case [(iv) despotical]. a. ‘Government appears to require councils more arbitrary, prompt and secret than those of a monarchy.’ b. ‘Prompt and terrifying punishment’ are its principal engines. c. ‘We must lament the growth of empire that appears to render despotic governments in some cases necessary.’ d. Otherwise, there is no perfect vice and no justification for despotism. e. Despotism opens the possibility of providing for the ‘safety of people’ even in great empires: ‘The interests of men properly connected with their duty have been made preservative of order and public justice’. f. One must distinguish ‘times of occasional distractions and tumults’ from periods of ‘ordinary calm’; the former requires arbitrariness everywhere, but the latter allows safeguards even in great empires. g. ‘Continual despotism is an accident and an usurpation not necessarily connected with the fortunes of mankind in such a manner that it is not always to be guarded against and avoided.’ {This is the strongest statement of what might be called the relativized judgement of despotic rule. Note that the lecture takes place in April of 1776, which is a year after Lexington and Concord, and a month after the evacuation of Boston.}

Substitute Lecture 100, 24 April 1783 1. Executive power is delegated in republics. Monarchical power has advantages in emergency, and for dispatch and secrecy. a. The king performs the ‘respectable and amiable’ tasks and delegates the remainder. b. It is important that the sovereign retain command over military force. [Margin:] ‘Revolutions prepared and effected by transferring the military power.’ {Here Ferguson suggests a third condition of revolution, to go with earlier criteria of shifts in legislative and judicial functions. Note that the revolutionary outcomes are all examples of unintended consequences of actions taken for reasons remote from revolutionary objectives. Arguably, the passages in Ferguson that are often cited as anticipations of the theory of spontaneous order are expressions of this political truism.24}

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c. A fatality of error in command of force: ‘Power and privilege are always ultimately forfeited’ if the sovereign is not in charge. 2. Ferguson disputes Alexander Pope’s maxim [‘For forms of government let fools contest; / Whate’er is best administered is best’25]. a. Forms of government are unequally administered. b. ‘The constitution of government defines the rights of men and determines their degree of security. Determines their relations in all their variety from the relation of equals to that of master and slave. Other external circumstances affect mankind in relation to safety or danger. This affects their character and is the principal source of that variety which has been exhibited by mankind.’ c. ‘Nations are the schools in which men of different ages and countries are so differently formed.’ One may compare Greeks under Aegilaus or Epominades with those under the Turkish basha. d. The greatest beneficence is ‘to procure or preserve political establishments of a happy tendency’. e. Ferguson equates the conduct of ‘Politics’ with ‘the cause of mankind in their general tendencies’. 3. Conclusion of lecture: a. ‘My object has been to fix a standard of estimation in human affairs.’ i. ‘Tradesmen are formed by the contraction and limitation of thought and application to single points and parts of subjects; but intellectual ability is acquired by wide and comprehensive views of what interest mankind or of what human nature has to offer as matter of information, discernment or choice.’ ii. ‘Happy and valuable qualities’ are the ‘peculiar beauty and excellence of human nature’ ‘which everyman may possess’ ‘of which men are unequally possessed’. {The two formulations are not strictly speaking contradictory but they certainly aim at opposite rhetorical effects.} iii. In the first part of moral inquiry, one should follow the ‘march of reason from particulars to generals which is common to all sciences’. Ferguson adds that he is concerned with ‘realities’ not ‘suppositions’. iv. Then one should proceed to the ‘principal fruit of it with respect to us’, the primacy of personal qualities. b. ‘Objects of literary study’ in ‘improving powers of discourse & reason’. {It is not wholly without interest that Ferguson’s first thought was in a humanist direction – or that he deleted the point.}

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b. ‘The end of science is the acquisition of power or the formation of art.’ i. In ‘Matters within reach of our influence’, knowing the laws of nature lets us ‘direct her operations to our powers’. ii. ‘In mechanical matters art is constituted by the knowledge of means chiefly.’ iii. ‘In what relates to the attainment of beauty and excellence art consists chiefly in the knowledge of ends.’ {Ferguson’s adaptation of the Baconian formula reinforces my earlier observation (lecture 30, point 5) that the recourse to Bacon was not identical with a categorical acceptance of instrumental rationality.} c. ‘There is a habit and exterior manner required to accomplished Man but the principal requisite is that idea of perfection of which the author of the Persian Letters says that in following he should think himself the happiest of men.’ {Ferguson doubtless means Usbek, the prime protagonist in the epistolary novel, not Montesquieu, the author of the book. Usbek is not an unambiguous figure, especially in relation to the women in his harem, where he is exposed as a suborner of despotism.26} i. Perseverance and repeated exertion, if there is will to excellence, will produce habits. ii. Men think about their appearances, but ‘reality is the genuine principle of every noble appearance’. d. ‘Great principle of what is excellent in all the appearances and performances of men: i. who can reason wisely and ably ii. who gains the confidence of other men iii. who gains the ascendant of a superior character.’ 4. Ferguson cites Shaftesbury as general authority for the conclusion that the studies initiated in Ferguson’s course are to be valued for their capacity to explain, for their theories, for elocution, but (above all) for ‘excellence of a just and accomplished mind’. The important thing is what we become, not what we know. 5. Ferguson hopes that his introduction to these subjects will facilitate access to a life of ‘useful observation’ and ‘worthy and able conduct’. Ferguson conjoins the observation of past and present scenes, the acceptance of instruction and the choice of models.

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6. ‘In literature and philosophy, too, the best guides are writers who have stood the test of ages and for whose sake we continue to study languages of the dead.’ a. Among the ancients: Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, Tacitus, Epictetus and Antonius. b. Among the moderns: Lord Shaftesbury, Francis Hutcheson and Montesquieu.

Substitute Lecture 100, 21 April 1785 1. ‘There is a disposition in free nations to separate the conditions of civil & military. The civil ranks consider this separation as devolving a burden. The military receive it as an exclusive title to important preferments. In the meantime, civil rights part with their security in parting with the powers of defense.’ 2. After reviewing the relations between monarchy and despotism, Ferguson states: ‘There is no branch in which the transitions of men are more insensible or more fatal’. {This epitomizes the new realization about the conjunction between empire and revolution. In the light of Ferguson’s grudging acceptance elsewhere of imperial expansion and its consequences, this statement is not merely a warning to avoid even the first wrong step. See below on expansion.} 3. ‘The preferable establishment for every society of men is that which is best suited to their circumstance and character: In following the tract into which they are led by their character and circumstances they arrive at suitable establishments &c.&c. So that if the first were permanent the second would be also. And where the first cannot be improved the other ought not to be changed. But to remedy incidental evils.’ a. We may take as a rule: ‘where the condition of the state is above mediocrity the rule of political wisdom is to resist unnecessary change’. b. ‘Human nature however is progressive and the state of society subject to fluctuation and change. The prosperous extend, the declining contract their resources and limits. Successive generations succeed to new objects and views.’ {Extension is the crux. Ferguson recognizes it as a sign and source of the human activity that makes for happiness, but he also sees physical expansion of political entities as a function of imperialism, which implies in turn at least some measure of despotism. The paradox is a matter for optimal management for Ferguson, not pessimistic despair at human decline.}

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c. ‘Revolutions come like the fall of a cataract. Or are sensible only in the result of a slow and insensible current.’ {Note the two modes of revolution, both cast in the metaphor of the moving stream used earlier (lecture 30, point 3) to evoke the human field of action as a whole. If Ferguson’s passages on unexpected consequences were to be taken as equivalent to a conception of ‘spontaneous order’, it would have to be recognized that in his view revolution could furnish such an example as well as the society of merchants.} 4. ‘Such is the scene in which the wise and virtuous are to act. It is seldom advisable to make innovations upon speculative principles. The occasions on which remedies are wanted to urgent evils are sufficiently frequent. But still where the wise would make no change, changes are made. And it is the object of wisdom to retard, accelerate or direct the course, so as to counteract the tendency to evil and favour the tendency to good.’ a. Here extensive knowledge and foresight may be supremely useful even where their effects escape the vulgar eye. The prize for which they contend is of supreme importance to mankind. b. Consider what the generations of fortunate men derive from their ancestors: Rights are ascertained, confirmed and secured. Human nature is enabled to attain its highest honours: art, science and virtue. c. ‘But let them beware of the idea that they have obtained their object and may remit their effort. The stone of Sisyphus must not be left to itself at any point in the declivity of human affairs. Consider what the unfortunate generations incur from the remissness or folly of ancestors.’ d. ‘The partial interest that is diligent prevails and oversets the balance of justice.’

7 FERGUSON, ROMAN HISTORY AND THE THREAT OF MILITARY GOVERNMENT IN MODERN EUROPE Iain McDaniel

In all of his works, Adam Ferguson looked to history as a source of insight into the moral and political problems of his own age. His History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic (1783) is no exception. Through a classically-inspired narrative of Rome’s rise, progress and decline, Ferguson attempted to answer a set of questions regarding the future prospects of European states and the dangers facing their governments. Given his earlier philosophical exposition of the causes of the rise and decline of nations and empires in the Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767), it is unsurprising that Ferguson should have subsequently turned to Roman history. The history of the republican constitution had long been regarded, particularly in Britain, as shedding light upon the strengths and weaknesses of ‘mixed government’, that fusion of democratic, aristocratic and monarchical powers that Polybius described in the sixth book of his Histories. Furthermore, Rome’s history exhibited a progression from ‘very rude beginnings’ to ‘very high degrees of refinement’, a process that broadly foreshadowed Europe’s modern (i.e. post-Roman) history and provided an elaborate counterpoint to the great Scottish Enlightenment inquiries into the ‘progress of society in Europe’.1 Rome’s history constituted antiquity’s clearest example of the ‘corruption’ of a free government and its replacement by a despotic regime, a process which afforded Ferguson ample scope to refine and amplify the message of the Essay. As he wrote to William Strahan in 1782, his purpose was to give a complete account of the ‘revolution’ by which the republic’s free system of government collapsed in a ‘confessed and hereditary Monarchy’.2 But the work also furnished him with opportunities to impart moral and didactic lessons that would encourage the dissemination of those patriotic virtues that Ferguson considered necessary to the formation of the ‘political character’ of modern citizens. He claimed that his work would ‘furnish those who are engaged in transactions any way similar, with models by which they may profit, and from which they – 115 –

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may form sound principles of conduct, derived from experience, and confirmed by examples of the highest authority’.3 Rome’s fate had immense resonance for Ferguson. In the opening pages of the Roman Republic, he summarized the underlying causes of Rome’s ‘termination’ and strongly implied that the predicament of the ancient republic had by no means become irrelevant under modern conditions: The Romans … became the conquerors of many kingdoms in Asia and Africa, as well as in Europe; and formed an empire, if not the most extensive, at least the most splendid of any that is known in the history of mankind. In possession of this seeming advantage, however, they were unable to preserve their own institutions; they became, together with the conquests they made, a prey to military government, and a signal example of the vicissitudes to which prosperous nations are exposed.4

Later in the work, citing Tacitus’s observation that the Augustan principate was the ‘only possible cure for the distracted country’, Ferguson wrote that military government was ‘almost a necessary result of the abuse of liberty’, and that ‘in order to know with how much care the evil itself ought to be avoided, we must attend likewise to the full effects of the cure’.5 The Roman Republic was thus decisively shaped by Ferguson’s anxiety that the civil governments of modern Europe might come to be superseded by military regimes similar to the despotic government of the Roman Empire. The purpose of this essay is to identify more precisely the causes that gave substance to his fears. Ferguson’s insistence upon the relevance of classical history for a proper understanding of modern Europe’s political trajectory sets him at some distance from other Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, particularly David Hume and Adam Smith, both of whom generally (but never unambiguously) emphasized the superiority of modern commercial societies over their ancient and more ‘barbarous’ predecessors.6 In this respect, Ferguson’s Roman Republic sheds additional light upon the complex story of the reception of classical history in eighteenth-century Britain, indicating significant lines of disagreement between the major thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment. Scholars have long emphasized important divergences between Ferguson’s and Smith’s thinking on issues pertaining to national defence, and have related their differing assessments of the problems facing modern societies to their interventions in the Scottish debates on the respective merits of militias and standing armies. As both John Robertson and Richard Sher have suggested, Ferguson’s deep commitment to the programme for the establishment of a Scottish militia after 1756 can be regarded both as a reflection of his concerns regarding the potential ‘corruption’ of modern citizens in the light of the growth of professional armies, and as an expression of his unease at the military vulnerability of Britain vis-à-vis France.7 Ferguson’s principal contribution to the debates at the beginning of the Seven Years War, his

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Reflections Previous to the Establishment of a Militia (1756), went beyond earlier Scottish critiques of standing armies (such as Andrew Fletcher’s 1698 Discourse of Militias) in questioning the capacity of the British state to combine commercial growth with a robust system of military defence.8 Unlike Fletcher, whose principal criticism of standing armies related to their potential to become instruments of royal tyranny, Ferguson stressed the danger that military power would fall ‘into the Hands of the least reputable Class of the People’, thus threatening the order of property and authority established in the British state.9 Adam Smith himself later discussed some of these problems in relation to republican states in the jurisprudence lectures he delivered at Glasgow in 1762–3, and hinted at parallels between the ‘military governments’ of Caesar and Cromwell.10 Unlike Smith, however, who would later claim that a properly-organized standing army guaranteed British liberties far more robustly than a militia ever could, Ferguson advocated the militia both as a crucial component of Britain’s system of national defence and as a necessary institutional guarantee against the emergence of a modern Pompey or Caesar.11 The prospect of a French military onslaught at the beginning of the Seven Years War, coupled with the threats to liberty posed by the establishment of professional armies at home, constituted the immediate political context for Ferguson’s discussion of the problem of military government. However, as his later published writings and private correspondence attest, the issue remained absolutely central to Ferguson’s political concerns long after the immediate alarm of the late 1750s had passed. These concerns led him into increasingly sophisticated historical inquiries into the prospects facing not only the British state, but also European governments more generally. In several letters dating from the late 1760s, Ferguson warned that the increasingly factious and turbulent popular politics associated with the London ‘Mob’ might encourage the British army to impose an emergency military dictatorship.12 In the Essay, he had analysed this possibility in greater historical depth and with greater philosophical precision, arguing that the separation between civil and military departments of modern European states had engendered large, highly disciplined, but unpatriotic and corrupt armies, whose loyalties to established governments were questionable, to say the very least. A decade later, in his pamphlet dealing with the American War of 1776 (a critical response to Richard Price’s Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty), Ferguson expressed the fear that the establishment of a large-scale democratic republic in America would lead, ineluctably, to the imposition of military government, which he believed to be ‘the fate that has ever attended Democracies attempted on too large a scale’.13 Finally, when he reflected upon the French Revolution and its aftermath (in several unpublished essays written towards the end of his life), Ferguson unhesitatingly described the Napoleonic Empire as a modern variant of ancient Rome’s military empire, characterizing

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Napoleon as a living embodiment of the corrupt despotic politics he associated with the regimes of Tiberius and Nero.14 In short, Ferguson viewed the threat of military government as one of the central political predicaments of modernity.

The Intellectual Background In utilizing the history of Rome in order to demonstrate the severity of the threat he diagnosed, Ferguson rehearsed several well-established traditions in the history of European political thought. Throughout the eighteenth century, Rome’s transition from republic to empire had been used to make two distinct claims regarding the threats that armies (and militarism more generally) posed to the liberty of modern states. First, Rome’s case demonstrated the dangers of territorial conquest, since it was claimed that large empires engendered the centralization of military and political power to a degree incompatible with the institutional arrangements and moral dispositions that guaranteed the liberty of republics. As Samuel Pufendorf, for example, argued as early as 1682, conquering states ran a high risk of collapsing into the ‘worst sort’ of monarchy, where the ‘Army exercis’d Sovereign Authority’.15 Such assessments often formed the backdrop to opposition to ‘universal monarchy’ in the first half of the eighteenth century, particularly among those who feared that France’s territorial ambitions would undermine the precarious balance of power established among European states at the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.16 Second, the destruction of the Roman republic surfaced in arguments regarding the alleged ‘corruption’ of domestic politics, especially in Britain. The shifting distribution of political powers between the various assemblies and magistracies that made up the Roman constitution provided a framework for comprehensive analyses of supposed distortions visited upon Britain’s mixed constitution by the executive’s manipulation of parliament, the rising public debt and the growth of standing armies. For writers within the early eighteenth-century ‘commonwealthman’ tradition, such as the authors of Cato’s Letters, the principal practical issue was Britain’s dangerous reliance on standing armies, which threatened a recurrence of the ‘Military Government’ of the Roman Empire. Military government, they argued, was already quite advanced among the monarchies of continental Europe, and would be the fate of any state ‘where the Army is the strongest power in the Country’.17 Ferguson’s Roman Republic was built upon conceptual foundations established in these early eighteenth-century debates. It was, however, even more decisively influenced by the writings of Montesquieu, who provided Ferguson not only with the theoretical resources for understanding military government, but also with a unique interpretation of the history of Rome.18 In his Considerations on the Greatness of the Romans and their Decline (1733), Montesquieu had mounted a devastating attack on Rome’s ‘spirit of conquest’, which formed part

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of a broader critique of the military ambitions he associated with Louis XIV.19 Rome, he declared, was a republic whose ‘purpose’ was expansion, founded upon the principle of continual war. This initially gave rise to an extraordinary sequence of military successes, but also fuelled the empire’s territorial expansion to an extent that ultimately destroyed it. Montesquieu identified two main causes of the republic’s ruin: the immense power granted to generals in the provinces (which paved the way for the destruction of liberty by Pompey, Caesar and Augustus), and the corruption of Rome’s civic spirit that resulted from the attempts of the conquered peoples to share in the rights of sovereignty.20 The consequence was the ‘ambiguous government’ of Augustus, a military despotism founded upon an underlying division between civil and military forces within the state.21 In Montesquieu’s analysis, military governments faced an insuperable contradiction between the demands of external security and internal liberty: an ‘empire founded on arms needs to be sustained by arms’, but the empire was ‘in a situation where it could not endure without soldiers and could not endure with them’.22 In the Considerations, Montesquieu sought to expose a deep incompatibility between the politics of ancient republicanism and the institutions of the eighteenth-century monarchy. He emphasized that Rome’s military government bore little resemblance to the monarchies of modern Europe and was better understood in the light of the militaristic political culture of the republic. It was a ‘general rule that military government is, in certain respects, republican rather than monarchical’.23 In the Spirit of the Laws, he provided a more elaborate analysis of the relations between civil authority and military force that characterized each of the two ‘moderate’ forms of government he identified (republics and monarchies). In republics, civil and military powers and occupations had to be combined, since – as the example of Rome had shown – it was ‘very dangerous’ to create a distinct military body within the state. This explained why, furthermore, in the quasi-republican English polity, a ‘particular estate for fighting men is feared’.24 In monarchies, on the other hand, military occupations were incompatible with the exercise of civil authority, since magistrates must ‘not have at the same time both the people’s trust and the force to abuse it’.25 As Montesquieu noted elsewhere, this permitted the use of ‘regular troops’ in monarchical states, although such standing forces had to be small so as not to destabilize the precarious balance of powers within the monarchy.26 But the republican ideal of a national militia could only be dangerous to the modern monarchy. For this reason, he viewed as dangerously anachronistic the attempts of contemporary rulers (such as Frederick William I of Prussia) to emulate the Roman republic by embarking upon large-scale projects of militarization of their nations.27 In a crucial passage of the Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu described this ‘increase of troops’ as the ‘new disease’ afflicting European states. Such militarism – a

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pathological symptom of acute hostilities within the European states-system – threatened a return of the sort of centralized, military-despotic state he associated with both the Roman Empire and the empires of Asia. Soon, he wrote, ‘as a result of these soldiers, we shall have nothing but soldiers, and we shall be like the Tartars’ – subject to the government of force.28 Montesquieu’s ideas provided crucial theoretical coordinates for numerous subsequent writers who sought to understand the possible implications of the reconfiguration of Europe’s patterns of military provision in the second half of the century. Although his largely optimistic assessment of Europe’s pacific tendencies was frequently viewed with some scepticism, his prognosis of military government was repeated and often amplified. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, for instance, argued that the aggrandizing ambitions of European monarchs had caused an exponential expansion of ‘armies and garrisons’, which would renew the cycle of oppression, impoverishment and depopulation that had destroyed the Roman Empire.29 In one of his many contributions to the Abbé Raynal’s Histoire Politique et Philosophique des Deux Indes, Denis Diderot identified this multiplication of soldiers and the improvement of military discipline as manifestations of the ongoing rivalry between European nations that was inexorably leading them to a condition of military government.30 At the same time, Montesquieu’s advocacy of a more differentiated set of civil and military institutions for the modern monarchy – particularly his argument for a small body of ‘regular troops’ – was subject to critical appraisal and scrutiny. There were those, like the Chevalier de Chastellux, who followed Montesquieu in rejecting the ‘barbarous’ heritage of the Roman military republic, and who recommended a clear separation between civil and military functions as the basis of a modern, economically-productive state.31 But there were also those who viewed Montesquieu’s distinction between civil and military occupations as a potential source of irreversible decline, and claimed that the specialization of defensive functions implied a dangerous loss of patriotic ‘zeal’ among an increasingly complacent and pacific citizenry. For these writers, Montesquieu’s conception of ‘honour’ as the ‘principle’ of monarchical government seemed an insufficient basis upon which to rest the moral and political health of the modern state, and they insisted upon the need for a modicum of the ‘political virtue’ that Montesquieu had confined to the ancient republics if modern states were not to collapse into military government. This was roughly the point of view that Ferguson elaborated when he joined this debate in 1767 with the publication of An Essay on the History of Civil Society.

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Military Government in An Essay on the History of Civil Society Ferguson’s own thinking on the issues raised in Montesquieu’s work was first laid out in detail in An Essay on the History of Civil Society. In the work’s final sections, which dealt with ‘Corruption and Political Slavery’, he described the ‘refined’ or ‘polished’ nations of modern Europe as threatened by a ‘fatal revolution’ that would result in the establishment of military government.32 Ferguson’s prediction rested upon a far-reaching historical analysis of the threats to the survival of the civil governments of Europe that drew heavily upon conceptual resources contained in the Spirit of the Laws. He explicitly borrowed Montesquieu’s famed typology of governments and their associated ‘principles’, distinguishing between republican, monarchical and despotic states and the ‘sentiments or maxims’ (virtue, honour and fear respectively) that characterized each type.33 He also reconstructed Montesquieu’s thesis that despotic monarchy (a highlycentralized regime dominated by the principle of fear) would be the result of the destruction of all subordinate and intermediate powers within a state.34 Like Montesquieu, furthermore, Ferguson associated military government with ‘maxims of conquest’, and referred to the history of Roman imperialism as evidence that ‘enlargement of territory’ and the ‘progress of empire’ had been principal causes of the establishment of the military regimes of the past.35 He therefore warned that any revival of the ancient spirit of conquest would be disastrous under modern conditions, given the global reach of European states and the fragility of the ‘balance of power’ in Europe itself. However, Ferguson’s diagnosis differed from Montesquieu’s in several crucial respects. As a discourse on the moral dispositions necessary to preserve liberty, the Essay demanded the revival and strengthening of a vigorous ‘national spirit’, which Ferguson believed to be threatened by the progress of ‘refinement’ in advanced or ‘polished’ societies. In the Essay’s final chapters, he attacked a dangerous tendency towards ‘tranquillity’, ‘moderation’ and ‘lethargy’ among modern citizens, which led him partially to revise Montesquieu’s account of ‘honour’ as a sufficient condition of liberty in a large modern monarchy. Like the Marquis de Saint-Lambert, who had developed a similar argument against Montesquieu’s characterization of honour in his articles ‘Honneur’ and ‘Législateur’ (included in the Encyclopédie), Ferguson emphasized the possibility that Montesquieu’s ‘false honour’ might easily degenerate into private ‘retirement’ and a narrow concern with merely external codes of politeness.36 For this reason, he insisted on the ongoing need for the public virtues of ‘courage’, ‘fortitude’ and ‘elevation of mind’ that Montesquieu himself had confined to republics.37 Furthermore, there was a marked ambiguity in Ferguson’s response to Montesquieu’s description of the British polity as a mixture of republican and monarchical elements.38 Although Ferguson associated this peculiarly British hybrid with the authority of law and

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with wholly beneficial restraints upon the prerogative powers of the Crown, he also noted the dangerous tendency of the mixed constitution to breed misplaced sentiments of ‘equality’ that weakened the civil distinctions upon which the government of all large states finally rested.39 Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Ferguson severely criticized Montesquieu’s recommendation that military and political functions be strictly demarcated, and offered an alternative theory of the union of civil and military departments as the basis of the nation’s security against any potential foreign invasion or internal military coup d’état. The diagnosis offered in the Essay grew out of a conjectural history of ‘refinement’, in which Ferguson traced the gradual emergence of civil government in modern Europe and recapitulated Montesquieu’s thesis of the decisive advantages that monarchical government conferred upon the large states of modern Europe. According to Ferguson, the Germanic peoples that settled upon the territories of the Roman Empire had laid the foundations of monarchical government in western Europe. Forged by conquest, these primitive monarchies were structured on a model of military hierarchy, although the immense power of the feudal vassals vis-à-vis the sovereign prevented the emergence of ‘general despotism’ within the state.40 The threat of military government had surfaced periodically (Ferguson quoted Hume’s History of England on the dangers posed by the Elizabethan monarchy), but a fortuitous combination of geographical and political causes had rescued Europe from the fate of the military empires of Asia.41 Europe’s subsequent history was marked by the emergence of elaborate distinctions of rank, the progress of commercial arts and the gradual separation of political functions, all of which contributed to the development of systems of civil liberty. In Britain, where an ‘extensive territory’ was now governed without military force at the disposal of the executive, these processes had resulted in a ‘spectacle new in the history of mankind’, but even the more absolutist continental states had come to guarantee the security of property and the protection of the person.42 Internationally, Europe was characterized by equilibrium in the balance of power between the major states, which had displayed considerable prudence and moderation in their efforts to maintain it. Ferguson noted that ‘if our rule in measuring degrees of politeness and civilization is to be taken from hence, or from the advancement of commercial arts, we shall be found to have greatly excelled any of the celebrated nations of antiquity’.43 The progress of refinement in Europe, however, had a hugely ambivalent legacy. Notwithstanding the remarkable achievements of the eighteenth-century state in developing institutions favourable to civil liberty and in securing the regular administration of justice, Ferguson pointed to an underlying division between the ‘departments of war and state’ that, he insisted, prefigured a crisis of the modern monarchy every bit as lethal and irreversible as that which had destroyed the Roman republic.44 In the ancient republics of Sparta and Rome,

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and even among the barbarous nations of North America, all citizens were equally soldiers, while their leaders were equally at home in the occupations of civil government and war. This unity of functions sustained a high degree of patriotic commitment throughout the entire public, and formed a ‘permanent and regular’ system of national defence.45 The refined nations of Europe, however, had reversed the correct ordering of civil and military functions: It was certainly never foreseen by mankind, that in the pursuit of refinement, they were to reverse this order; or even that they were to place the government, and the military force of nations, in different hands. But is it equally unforeseen, that the former order may again take place? and that the pacific citizen, however distinguished by privilege and rank, must one day bow to the person with whom he has intrusted his sword. If such revolutions should actually follow, will this new master revive in his own order the spirit of the noble and the free? Will he renew the characters of the warrior and the statesman? Will he restore to his country the civil and the military virtues? I am afraid to reply. Montesquieu observes, that the government of Rome, even under the emperors, became, in the hands of the troops, elective and republican: but the Fabii and the Bruti were heard of no more, after the praetorian bands became the republic.46

The severance of civil and military functions was as much a moral as a political problem. Participation in the arduous duties of war and politics was a necessary stimulus of a vigorous, patriotic ‘national spirit’. Savage and barbarous nations, such as the tribes of North America and the primitive Germans described by Tacitus, preserved the martial virtues of vigour, independence and courage due to the ‘frequent dangers’ they faced and the ‘frequent practice of war’.47 The modern state’s reliance upon professional soldiers had in this respect been one of the most corrupting of all the ‘boasted refinements’ of civil society. In creating an artificial distinction between soldier and pacific inhabitant, the polished nations of Europe had created a ‘breach’ in the system of national virtues, thus destroying the patriotic ‘zeal’ or ‘national spirit’ that constituted the final guarantee against the prospect of both domestic ‘usurpation’ and foreign invasion: The boasted refinements, then, of the polished age, are not divested of danger. They open a door, to disaster, as wide and accessible as any of those they have shut. If they build walls and ramparts, they enervate the minds of those who are placed to defend them; if they form disciplined armies, they reduce the military spirit of entire nations; and by placing the sword where they have given a distaste for civil establishments, they prepare mankind for the government of force.48

From this perspective, Montesquieu’s advocacy of a more differentiated set of civil and military institutions for the modern monarchy, the defence of which would be based upon a small body of disciplined, regular troops, was an inadequate solution to the long-term military and political challenges facing modern states. Ferguson’s point was that, in the socially and economically divided nations of modern Europe,

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the military would gradually come to be dominated by the lower ranks of society, creating a dangerous asymmetry in the balance of powers between the propertied and the poor. It was for this reason that he criticized the delegation of military responsibilities (through substitution) from the propertied ranks to a paid class of ‘subordinate’ mercenaries, whose lack of property rendered their interest in the maintenance of the constitution almost nil.49 The ‘dangerous alliance of faction with military power’ that would potentially result from this process paved the way for a ‘usurpation’ of political power under demagogic leadership.50 From an international perspective, however, the ramifications were even more disturbing. Unlike Montesquieu, Ferguson assumed that the compulsions of conquest and aggrandizement continued to dominate the international politics of Europe, and he had little confidence in Montesquieu’s thesis that modern nations had begun to be ‘cured’ of Machiavellian power-politics. He pointed out that commercial interests had spawned new forms of ‘domination and enlargement’, and argued that the increasingly globalized character of modern commerce had dangerously raised the stakes in the ancient quest for national grandeur and prestige. In the scenario Ferguson presented in the Essay, however, the fate of Rome would be experienced not as a direct consequence of extended empire, but as an unintended consequence of European rivalry and the dysfunctional security arrangements to which it had given rise: It is vain to affirm, that the genius of any nation is adverse to conquest. Its real interests most commonly are so; but every state which is prepared to defend itself, and to obtain victories, is likewise in hazard of being tempted to conquer. In Europe, where mercenary and disciplined armies are every where formed, and ready to traverse the earth, where, like a flood pent up by slender banks, they are only restrained by political forms, or a temporary balance of power; if the sluices should break, what inundations may we not expect to behold? Effeminate kingdoms and empires are spread from the sea of Corea to the Atlantic ocean. Every state, by the defeat of its troops may be turned into a province; every army opposed in the field to-day may be hired tomorrow; and every victory gained, may give the accession of a new military force to the victor.51

Ferguson’s analysis went beyond earlier critiques of Europe’s political system by pointing to flaws in the balance of power that threatened a collapse more total – and geographically more widespread – than previous commentators had imagined. The continental military empire that would emerge from any such collapse would be far less ‘civilized’, but appreciably more powerful, than any of the monarchies that currently made up the states-system. With this prospect in mind, it is easier to see why Ferguson continued to insist so emphatically upon Britain’s vulnerability to foreign invasion, even after the astonishing military gains of the Seven Years War.52 The prospect of a powerful military government emerging on the Continent, matched against a wealthy (but politically divided and morally

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depleted) British state, would stimulate Ferguson to think more carefully about the history of republican Rome.

Military Government in Ferguson’s Roman Republic The History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic was the product of roughly twelve years’ sustained thinking upon the predicament Ferguson had analysed in the Essay.53 The work certainly reflects many British and European anxieties of the 1770s, the decade in which Britain not only went to war over its American colonies, but also became the subject of philosophical criticism as the most obvious pretender to a new, commerce-driven global imperium. In Britain itself, it was increasingly felt that the unwieldy empire acquired during the Seven Years War had become simply too large to be governed effectively and that it had given rise to dangerously powerful military establishments that threatened constitutional balance at home. The supposedly ‘despotic’ character of English rule in India was regarded as merely one symptom of a burgeoning militarism which, many observers feared, might reignite the ancient peril of universal empire under a new guise.54 Ferguson’s Roman Republic echoed these critiques of Britain’s apparently resurgent imperial ambitions in a way not dissimilar to the great French history of European colonialism produced during this period: the Abbé Raynal’s enormous (and hugely successful) Histoire Des Deux Indes. The evidence of the Roman Republic suggests, however, that Ferguson’s primary concern remained that of securing Britain’s independence against threats that lay closer to home. For this reason, he combined standard criticisms of Rome’s imperial conquests with a defence of the republican constitution and its system of military provision. The new argument was that Rome’s constitution, despite its many defects and inconsistencies, provided the republic with a powerful defensive force and a virtuous governing elite – both of which constituted fundamental guarantees against the prospect of military government. As he put it in an early chapter of the Roman Republic: No State has a right to make the submission of mankind a necessary condition to its own preservation; nor are many States qualified to support such pretensions. Some part of the political character, however, so eminent in this famous republic, is necessary to the safety, as well as to the advancement of nations. No free State is safe under any government or defence than that of its own citizens. No nation is safe that permits an ally to suffer by having espoused its cause, or that allows itself to be driven, by defeats or misfortunes, into a surrender of any material part of its rights.55

Here Ferguson took a decisive stand against those, such as Montesquieu, who failed to distinguish patriotic political values (which Rome possessed in abundance) from the egalitarian, democratic republicanism that (in both authors’ views) ultimately corroded the liberty of the Roman state. Essentially, he called

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for the renovation of modern Britain’s military and political system along the lines of the early (uncorrupted) Roman republic. As the first chapters of the Roman Republic demonstrated, patriotic states like Rome possessed huge advantages over their less public-spirited neighbours. Ferguson emphasized two features which brought Rome its success in war. The first was the citizens’ militia, the ‘establishment by which the Romans conquered the world’.56 The invention of numerous military rewards and distinctions gave additional impetus to the development of the citizens’ military spirit. Even more importantly, the convergence of civil and military powers and responsibilities meant that Rome’s senators were both ‘statesmen and warriors’. This combination of roles underpinned the authority of the senatorial government and instilled Rome’s generals with the virtues of ‘penetration, sagacity, and courage’. Rome thus united the advantages of civil and military states by ‘blending the professions of state and of war together’, an institutional formation to which Ferguson ascribed ‘the great ability of her councils, and the irresistible force with which they were executed’.57 By way of contrast, the commercial republic of Carthage had separated its civil and military departments, relied on mercenary soldiers for its defence, and therefore ‘stifled or neglected the military character of their own citizens’.58 Rome’s triumph over the wealthier Carthaginians was owing entirely to her superior ‘national character’. Having described the initial advantages of the Roman constitution, the remainder of Ferguson’s narrative was taken up with analysing the causes that had led to Rome’s ‘termination’ in the military government of the Empire. Unsurprisingly, given the critique of military adventurism outlined in the Essay, Ferguson identified Rome’s ruthless policy of territorial expansion as the main factor. Echoing earlier traditions of hostility to universal monarchy, he noted that Rome’s case clearly demonstrated ‘how odious, and in the end, how calamitous for both, it is for one nation to become subject to another’.59 Underlying his account was a powerful critique of the acute ‘national animosity’ that motivated the republic’s foreign policy. Ferguson had long cautioned British statesmen against undertaking wars motivated by excessive ‘ambition’, although at this point it is equally likely that he had France uppermost in his mind.60 It was Rome’s exaggerated ‘love of dominion’ that corrupted its initially virtuous ‘military character’ and had such poisonous effects upon international politics. The cruelty displayed following the defeat of Carthage was only the most notorious example of the republic’s fierce ‘jealousy’, ‘animosity’ and ‘antipathy’.61 Like the Spanish conquerors of the New World, Rome gratified its ‘avarice and ambition, at the expense of nations to whose possessions they have no reasonable or just pretensions’.62 This ‘insatiable thirst of dominion’ finally led the republic into a series of wars undertaken ‘not in defence of their own possessions, but for the enlargement of an empire already too great’.63 The consequence was the slow but inevitable haemorrhaging of those martial virtues that, in Ferguson’s political

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theory, could be sustained only among a plurality of independent nations. It was no accident that Rome’s moral decline could be dated from the ‘absence of alarms’ in an increasingly complacent, self-absorbed city. Despite the ‘peace’ and ‘protection’ supposedly conferred upon the provinces by the sovereign authority of the Roman Empire, Ferguson entirely rejected the Roman model of imperial rule as inconsistent with the long-term security or prosperity of nations.64 We need to reconstruct in more detail, however, precisely how Rome’s imperialism undermined its liberty. It should be emphasized first of all that Ferguson did not seek to establish direct parallels between Rome’s military empire and the maritime and commercial empire of eighteenth-century Britain.65 His argument depended upon a distinction between republican and monarchical forms of government and their degree of compatibility with extensive dominions, the upshot of which was that monarchies possessed distinct advantages over republics in preserving large-scale empires. Echoing both Hume and Montesquieu, Ferguson noted that republican states generally exercised a far more severe and despotic form of rule over their provinces than monarchies did.66 Rome’s failure to develop a coherent set of political institutions analogous to those of the British mixed monarchy was one of the reasons why its empire was so completely maladapted for long-term survival: [I]t might, no doubt, have been still better for the empire, if the spirit of legal monarchy could at once have been infused into every part of the commonwealth; or if, without further pangs or convulsions, the authority of a Prince, tempered with that of a Senate, had been firmly established.67

Ferguson argued that the government of large states depended upon hierarchical systems of ‘subordination’ or, to use the standard terminology of Scottish Enlightenment political theory, upon a ‘distinction of ranks’. Having acquired its enormous territory, Rome owed ‘its safety and the order of its government to a respectable aristocracy, founded on the distinctions of fortune, as well as personal qualities, or the merit of national service’. The republic should have accepted the ‘disparities’ and ‘subordinations’, ‘which mankind in such situations universally have found natural, and even necessary, to their government’.68 In Ferguson’s reconstruction, however, the legitimate political authority of the patrician class was gradually eroded by the democratic politics of the corrupt popular faction in the city, beginning with the radically egalitarian land-reform proposals of the Gracchi.69 Subsequent demagogues pressed for a series of legal and institutional measures (the abolition of debts; the secret ballot in legislative assemblies; the distribution of free grain), all of which strengthened the democratic component of the Roman constitution and undermined the authority of the government. All of this demonstrated the tribunes’ acute misunderstanding of the foundations of liberty in large political communities and violated the ‘nat-

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ural’ progress of political institutions as they underwent adaptation to changing material and political circumstances. Ferguson’s argument that Rome’s liberty depended upon a powerful aristocracy, whose authority derived from wealth as well as virtue, represents a reworking of Montesquieu’s thesis of the unsuitability of republican government for the large, unequal monarchies of modern Europe. Yet Ferguson made clear that the real damage to Rome’s government resulted from the impact that the strains of empire placed upon the composition of the military itself. The establishment of provincial military governments (which replaced the earlier colonies) created intractable contradictions between the demands of war and civil government, as the higher ranks withdrew from military occupations and thereby lost much of their former prestige as both ‘statesmen and warriors’. Marius’s unprecedented expedient of employing the very poorest class of citizens (the capite censi) in the legions marked the real point of no return: This circumstance is quoted as a remarkable and dangerous innovation in the Roman State, and is frequently mentioned among the steps which hastened its ruin. The example, no doubt, may instruct nations to distinguish the military operations required at a distance, from the more important object of preservation and home-defence; so that in declining the distant service, the more respectable orders of the People may not think it necessary to abandon themselves to depredation at home. In the first ages of Rome, the citizens in political convention, were styled the Army of their Country, and such in every age is the army in whose hands the freedom of nations is secure. From the date of these levies at Rome, the sword began to pass from the hands of those who were interested in the preservation of the republic, into the hands of others who were willing to make it a prey. The circumstances of the times were such, indeed, as to give warning of the change. The service of a legionary soldier was become too severe for the less indigent order of citizens, and now opened to the necessitous the principal road to profit, as well as honour. Marius, to facilitate his levies, was willing to gratify both; and thus gave beginning to the formation of armies who were ready to fight for or against the laws of their country, and who, in the sequel, substituted battles in the streets of Rome, for the bloodless contests which had hitherto arisen from the divisions of party.70

Following this transformation of military arrangements, the Senate was rendered both politically and militarily insignificant. It soon became impossible for even the most public-spirited general to bring the armies under control, while nothing could ‘compensate for the ruinous tendency of a precedent which brings force to be employed as an ordinary resource in political contests’.71 Military government, in Ferguson’s analysis, was thus the result of the explosive combination of popular licence and military power characteristic of the later republic. The absence of political and institutional resources at the disposal of the Senate meant that the ‘disorders arising from the weakness of government’ could be corrected only by instituting military despotism. From a more philosophical perspective, the subsequent military regime was the culmination (rather than

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the betrayal) of the corrupted republican understanding of liberty as consisting in a ‘perfect freedom from all restraint’.72 Ferguson’s narrative concluded with an analysis of the Roman imperial regime that warned against the possible recurrence of a similar collision between ‘democratic’ politics and military power in modern states. Although Rome’s post-republican government bore little resemblance to the ‘mixed constitution of monarchy’ that subsisted ‘with so much advantage in some of the kingdoms of modern Europe’, Ferguson underlined the structural similarities between the ancient and modern political trajectories.73 It was for this reason that he emphasized so strongly the Tacitean theme of the disjunction between appearance and reality under the early emperors. Although Augustus succeeded in preserving the forms of the ancient republican constitution, the Roman Empire was a state in which the sovereign imperator must ‘forever submit to the head of the army’, and where genuine power rested ‘with those military bodies who are in possession of the capital, or who surround the person of the Prince’.74 The discrepancy between the realities of servitude and outward legality, moreover, served as a ‘caution, to those who need to be told under what disguise the most detestable tyranny will sometimes approach mankind’.75 It was ‘instructive to observe with what care this sovereign endeavoured to flatter the vanity of Roman citizens, by preserving the distinction of ranks, while in reality his policy was calculated to remove every distinction, and to render all ranks equally dependent on himself ’.76 Ferguson thus drove home the argument (already touched upon in the Essay) that the modern mixed constitution might itself harbour despotic tendencies beneath the external lineaments of liberty: ‘the constitution indeed may be free, but its members may likewise become unworthy of the freedom they possess, and unfit to preserve it’.77 The Roman Republic made clear that without a truly independent intermediary nobility between sovereign and people – a military-patriotic version of Montesquieu’s pouvoirs intermédiaires – modern politics was in danger of swinging violently from those extremes of popular anarchy and despotism manifested in the later Roman republic, and finally succumbing to a military government. In practical terms, genuine independence on the part of such a patriotic nobility meant that they, unlike the Roman senators in the later republic, shoulder their military responsibilities with commitment, courage and energy, thereby preserving the unity of civil and military roles that formed the centerpiece of Ferguson’s theory of the modern state.

Conclusion A ‘licentious’, pseudo-democratic state under the auspices of a military ‘monarch’ was the worst possible outcome imaginable for Ferguson. It is quite clear, furthermore, that he viewed the threat of military government as coming less

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from above than from below: from the novel combination of popular passions and military power that had come increasingly to dominate the politics of eighteenth-century Britain. In this respect, Ferguson’s thought took a different direction to that of many French readers of Montesquieu, for whom the danger remained the gradual imposition of military government under the auspices of the Bourbon monarchy itself.78 Ferguson had already criticized Montesquieu (and unnamed others) for failing to understand British politics on precisely this issue: ‘They only think of the dangers to Liberty that come from the Crown. They do not consider the dangers to Liberty that come from the Populace.’79 Ferguson’s alternative conception of the bases of rule in a modern ‘civil society’ – based upon the unity of civil authority and military force embodied in a patriotic nobility – was designed to meet precisely this threat of popular demagoguery, while at the same time to secure the military defensibility of Britain against potential foreign aggressors. But Ferguson’s warnings also applied to the monarchies of mainland Europe, where – as the Essay made clear – the authority of ‘civil’ governments had come to seem increasingly precariously established in the light of the menacing expansion of large and disciplined standing armies. Of course, it was in France that events most closely resembling Ferguson’s predictions first came to pass, as the French Revolution passed from civil war, through the Terror, to the military-despotic imperialism of Napoleon. Unlike his younger Scottish compatriot, James Mackintosh, Ferguson readily conceived this ‘history’ in precisely the same terms in which he had understood the collapse of republican government in Rome, as a consequence of the misplaced political loyalties of the military establishment: In this the Revolution consisted or by this alone it was effected. If the Army had adhered to the King the popular Assembly would have been dismissed and a Military Government had been Established in the House of Bourbon Innocent indeed Compared to that which has since taken place in the House of Buonaparte.80

In Ferguson’s view, the resulting military empire demonstrated just how fragile the ‘long boasted balance of power’ really was.81 Napoleon’s military usurpation was ultimately a long-term consequence of the fierce military rivalries between the European monarchies, and their inability to contain the forces they themselves had unleashed in their pursuit of military security. The combination of corrupt republican politics and militaristic adventurism that Ferguson had diagnosed as the cause of Rome’s ‘termination’ in the Roman Republic had returned to haunt the politics of modern Europe.

8 FERGUSON’S ‘A PPROPRIATE STILE’ IN COMBINING HISTORY AND SCIENCE: THE HISTORY OF HISTORIOGRAPHY REVISITED Annette Meyer

Adam Ferguson’s place in the history of ideas has been understood variously. For example, some have portrayed him as an early founder of modern sociology, but others have interpreted his thought as representative of the ideal of civic humanism.1 However, Ferguson is rarely recognized for his work as a historian,2 in contrast to the famous English-speaking historians of the Enlightenment, David Hume, William Robertson and Edward Gibbon. This is all the more surprising given that Ferguson not only undertook historical work but also reflected theoretically on the writing of history. In this essay I investigate why it is that Ferguson has played only a minor role in the history of historiography. My argument focuses on how Ferguson’s marginalization may derive from his theoretical conception of history as combining empirical and rational elements. Ferguson’s unique contribution, his ‘Appropriate Stile’,3 develops from David Hume’s conception of history, anticipates nineteenth-century hermeneutics, and suggests that the focus of historical research should be the species, or ‘mankind’. Oscillating between moral philosophy, erudite historical narrative and the science of natural history, Ferguson’s historical essays are not easily categorized. As a preliminary consideration one might seek to situate his work within either the history of historiography or the history of science.4 On the one hand, however, the history of historiography does not accept the constraints of the naturalistic approach that Ferguson advocated; on the other hand, the history of science does not respect the forms of historical erudition to which he applied his methodological considerations. As an alternative, one might consider that Ferguson’s contributions to political or civil history offer a categorical contrast to his work in the science of natural history. However, since his theoretical considerations embraced both of these genres, it seems problematic to differentiate between his idea of ‘history’ and his concept of ‘natural history’. After all, the term historia implies that empirical circumstances are relevant for both types of – 131 –

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inquiry. The specific order of historical material and its narrative construction were traditionally subsumed under the ‘artes historicae’, engendering thereby the long-lasting debate about the appropriate style or method in writing history.5 An analytical distinction between Ferguson’s concept of ‘natural history’ – as employed in An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767) – and his political historiography thus overlooks the common empirical basis of both sorts of historical inquiry. In so far as I focus on a unitary reading of Ferguson’s historical works, a reading which leads us to certain methodological (if not epistemological) questions, we must first describe the gulf that exists between two parallel interpretations of his work. The two non-intersecting responses are the German-dominated line of the history of historiography and the predominantly Anglo-American tradition of the history of science. Both traditions agree that historical writing underwent a profound change around 1800, but their perspectives are different. For the first, the horizons of history emerge from romanticism and idealism, for the latter from empiricism and positivism. The very boundaries of these traditions did not allow for a true or full understanding of Ferguson’s conception of history. Thus, it is only in the imagined intersection of these two traditions that one may identify Ferguson’s particular contribution to the theory of historiography.

The Boundaries of the History of Historiography Of the two traditional interpretations of Ferguson’s historical writings, the first is the historiographical approach. A penchant for writing histories of historiography would appear to be typically German. Supporting this impression is the widespread belief among German historians that, since the late nineteenth century, they have played a decisive role in establishing history as a science. The new self-assuredness of these historians was throughout the nineteenth century accompanied not only by debate about methodology but also by a shift in historiographical paradigms. Intellectual renewal was also accompanied by the institutionalization of historiography in seminars, institutes and journals.6 Thus placed in the limelight, ‘historicism’ seemed to be a German export, and German historical writers went to great lengths to trace the source of their own achievements from this development.7 The term ‘historicism’ was coined in the late nineteenth century when the unique privilege of eighteenth-century historical explanation (the ‘sciences of man’) and the genre of ‘histories of mankind’ – including Ferguson’s An Essay on the History of Civil Society, Voltaire’s Essai sur l’histoire générale et sur les mœurs et l’esprit des nations (1756) or Johann Gottfried Herder’s Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit (1784–91) – came under serious doubt. The concept of historicism is ‘indispensable to any attempt to account for the passage

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of historiography towards social science in the eighteenth and nineteenth century’,8 especially if one considers the theories, methods and self-description of the professionals and their newly-founded discipline: the science of history. Yet the question of when the disciplinary study of history started – when history ceased to be either a synonym for empirical facts or a matter of literary scholarship – is important. At what juncture did the scientific claims for history as an independent subject – with its own objects, methods and theories – find their justification? In fact, the boundaries set at the beginning of the history of historiography are still effective. For this reason we must return to the keepers of the Pantheon of historicism, such as philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey or the later steward of historicism Friedrich Meinecke. Although these thinkers certainly gave credit to Italian, French and (especially) English historians in developing modern historiography, it was only the ‘German mind’ that they considered able to create the great synthesis of natural right, idealism, philosophy of history and religiosity.9 Meinecke attributed to both Adam Ferguson and Edmund Burke a preromantic style of historiography, suggesting thereby that each possessed a distinctive understanding of the individual essences of various epochs.10 This understanding, said to be elementary for the development of historicism, differed fundamentally from the theoretical constructs of Enlightenment historiography, whose rigid intellectualism, according to Meinecke, tended to produce unhistorical analyses. Despite praise for his historiography, Ferguson’s writings were subject to criticism.11 Focusing on Ferguson’s reliance on ancient literature, Barthold Georg Niebuhr, for example, penned a devastating review of Ferguson’s History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic (1782).12 Even when criticism of Ferguson was not as severe as that doled out by the author of the Römische Geschichte (1811), the work singled out by Dilthey and Meinecke as having first ‘opened the stage for modern historical writing’,13 there was no doubt among Anglo-American historians of historiography that Ferguson’s historical writing had been influenced by what were taken to be ‘rationalistic’ currents moving within the Enlightenment. Writing in the first half of the twentieth century, American historian Thomas Preston Peardon found the meaning of ‘rationalistic historical writing’ to be self-evident. Nonetheless, he summarized its two main features as its ‘pragmatic value’, that is, its ability to provide ‘lessons for life’ (a feature Peardon valued as a traditional element of history), and its ‘philosophical spirit’, by which he meant its analytical illumination of the causes and effects of historical events, rather than its narrative flow. Against Ferguson’s description of his own work as demanding that the tenets of natural history be derived ‘from observation and experiment’,14 Peardon perceived a rationalist mode of history in Ferguson’s writings consisting in a one-sided use of history, a neglect of sources and a careless projection of value

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judgements onto past events.15 Yet in fact it was Ferguson’s explicit intention to avoid such practices. Peardon was able to render his diagnosis more precise by using the oftenrepeated genre description offered by Dugald Stewart, who seemed to function as ideographic custodian of the inheritance of the Scottish Enlightenment. Although Stewart had not spoken of ‘rationalistic historical writing’ as Peardon would, he coined the term ‘conjectural history’ in regard to Adam Smith’s account of the origin of language in his Dissertation on the Origin of the Languages (1761). Stewart also broadened the term to include narratives in the works of David Hume, Henry Home, Lord Kames and John Millar.16 Another representative of the next generation of Scottish scholars, professor of universal history at the University of Edinburgh, Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee, decided that the label ‘conjectural history’ also suited Ferguson’s An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767), calling the work ‘the most elegant of this specimen’.17 Despite the fact that this historiographic categorization – both Stewart’s and Lord Woodhouselee’s – was part of an almost hagiographical approach towards their academic teachers, and thus excluded a fundamentally critical position per se, the label ‘conjectural history’ nonetheless allowed Stewart and Lord Woodhouselee to distance themselves from Hume’s and Ferguson’s attempts to develop a universal history with scientific claims. For Stewart, the advantage of the method he identified as a form of ‘philosophical investigation’ was that it finally allowed historians to extend their studies into eras – prehistory, for example – that were not accessible via historical-empirical methods and to speculate on the correlation of the development of society and the advancement of sciences. According to Stewart, the strategy of ‘conjectural historians’ was to replace the absent sources on human prehistory with travellers’ reports. These accounts would allegedly reveal all-encompassing models of civilization and enable the historical reconstruction of various states of successive refinement.18 The reliance on accounts of ‘rude nations’ and the use of anthropological data permitted the development of analogies that would allow plausible conjecture about epochs of early history otherwise subject only to wild fantasizing. However, in another work, Stewart expressed fundamental qualms about this philosophically-inspired but only apparent empiricism: To a philosophical mind, no study can certainly be more delightful than this species of history; but as an organ of instruction, I am not disposed to estimate its practical utility … It does not seem to me at all adapted to interest the curiosity of novices; nor is it so well calculated to engage the attention of those who wish to enlarge their scientific knowledge, as persons accustomed to reflect on the phenomena and laws of the intellectual world.19

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Lord Woodhouselee was even less inclined to hide his discomfort with the flawed methodological foundations of this form of philosophical and natural history. For him it was a question of scientific integrity to exclude ‘sourceless’ prehistory from his concept of ‘universal history’. He thus restricted himself to the history of political events for which sources existed.20 For this reason, his view of ‘conjectural history’ was even more drastic than Stewart’s: To readers of a metaphysical turn, or even to those of a lively imagination and sanguine temperament, who are caught by a beautiful and artful hypothesis, such inquiries afford the highest pleasure; while by the more sober, cautious, yet penetrating intellect, they are received with jealousy, scrutinized with phlegm, and in the end coldly laid aside, as airy, vague, and unsubstantial speculations.21

In supporting a new concept of history, the self-assurance of Stewart and Woodhouselee is unmistakable. In fact, their single-minded confidence in the empirical focus of the historical sciences already points to nineteenth-century positivism, one representative of which, Henry Thomas Buckle, would echo clearly Dugald Stewart’s more cautiously formulated criticism of ‘conjectural history’.22 The contrast between Anglo-American ‘positivism’ and German ‘historicism’ was most fully expressed in the methodological debate between Buckle and Johann Gustav Droysen. Droysen rejected Buckle’s naturalistic approach to history, insisting that there was only one specific method necessary to ‘elevate history to the rank of a science’: hermeneutics.23 Despite their methodological differences, there was agreement concerning the limits of the Enlightenment concept of the history of mankind, regardless of whether it was exposed in Scottish (Lord Kames, John Millar, James Dunbar), French (Anne Robert Turgot, Condorcet) or German (Isaak Iselin, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and Herder) considerations of the history and diversity of the species.24 Furthermore, notwithstanding different views about whether naturalistic models could be applied to historical investigations, there was agreement regarding the need to jettison theoretical frameworks that invoked the ‘natural history of man’, just as there was a shared recognition of the methodological potential inherent in eighteenth-century historical anthropology.25 In the debate on the paradigm shift from Enlightenment historiography to historicism, Peter Burke introduced the term ‘counterrevolution’ to describe how the new methodological canon of the nineteenth century was a reaction to an earlier and fundamental methodological renewal of historical writing in the eighteenth century.26 Ferguson’s understanding of historiography permits an investigation of the very nature of this renewal. If one adopts the vantage point delineated above (the construction of genealogies in the history of historiography), then the criticisms of subsequent generations resemble primarily a polemical gesture aimed at setting boundaries. The condemnations, especially

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of the nineteenth century, miss their target precisely in so far as the methodological contrast between empiricism and rationalism, as used by scholars such as Stewart, Droysen, Buckle, Meindecke and Peardon, is invoked to discredit Ferguson’s approach as lacking the requisite empirical or rational element. Droysen and Meinecke charge Ferguson with a deficient philosophical understanding of history, but Buckle and Peardon indict the Scot for an insufficient empirical grounding. Why are such divergent critiques possible? The answer may reside in how both sets of criticisms are anachronistic projections on a model that, in fact, rejects such a binary scheme. The simplistic model of the history of science was constructed on legends of putative clarity about the methods of each philosopher and was typically combined with a schematic epistemology.27 In such teleological histories of epistemology it was pretended that all historical methods could be categorized into a rationalist or empiricist lineage. In contrast to this simplistic scheme, the defining principle of Ferguson’s model sought to reconcile the methodological poles of induction and deduction, which only a short time later, prominently represented by Immanuel Kant, were said to be incommensurate28 Ferguson’s methodological considerations concerning the history of man were beyond the pale of traditional history of historiography on the one hand and beyond the limitations of history of science on the other. In combining the scientific empirical and the rationalistic philosophical approach to natural history, Ferguson developed a specific historical advancement of Hume’s ‘science of man’.

Hume’s Concept of the ‘Science of Man’ David Hume’s concept of the ‘science of man’ may be considered as the intellectual starting point for Ferguson’s model of history. In A Treatise of Human Nature (1739/40), Hume portrays the aims and postulates of a scientificallyrenewed study of humankind as a clearly executable battle plan: From this station we may extend our conquests over all those sciences, which more intimately concern human life … There is no question of importance, whose decision is not compriz’d in the science of man; and there is none, which can be decided with any certainty, before we become acquainted with that science. In pretending therefore to explain the principles of human nature, we in effect propose a compleat system of the sciences, built on a foundation almost entirely new, and the only one upon which they can stand with any security. And as the science of man is the only solid foundation for the other sciences, so the only solid foundation we can give to this science itself must be laid on experience and observation.29

The inductive method should no longer be restricted to the philosophy of nature but introduced to the study of the causes of human actions.30 As a result, anthro-

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pology no longer serves as a preparation (propaedeutic) for other sciences but becomes their very foundation. What the empirical data for this new science should consist of and what methods should be used in this ‘science of man’ – questions that concern practical implementations – were only secondary to Hume.31 He restricted himself to the statement that sources such as historical accounts and anthropological field studies should be consulted and that these could be obtained primarily from travel reports.32 In this respect, history offered a reservoir of case studies to replace the experimentation called for in the natural sciences: These records of wars, intrigues, factions, and revolutions, are so many collections of experiments, by which the politician or moral philosopher fixes the principles of his science, in the same manner as the physician or natural philosopher becomes acquainted with the nature of plants, minerals, and other external objects, by the experiments which he forms concerning them.33

However, Hume remained sceptical about the extent to which the historical process itself – beyond functioning as a source of data for anthropology – could be scientifically apprehended. Although Hume’s philosophy and historiography must be interpreted as very closely related,34 he always perpetuated a curious epistemological separation between his philosophical and historical work. He pursued historical studies primarily for their literary and educational value, not for their innovative use of sources, their theoretical reflections, or even their putative scientific claims.35 In relation to his ‘science of man’, he found the usefulness of history to be based on the axiom of the uniformity (and immutability) of human nature throughout time and place,36 a postulate of natural law that in hindsight seems to contrast with historical thinking but whose acceptance was requisite for the scientific permeation of anthropological laws to which Hume aspired. For Hume, historia, as the empirical foundation of the ‘science of man’, was comparable to experimentation in nature. History was consulted both as an inexhaustible reservoir of anecdotes (in the rhetorical sense) and also as a temporal space out of which one might glean information on the development of certain human qualities, just as a natural scientist might derive knowledge from the observation of natural events.37 History itself, however, remained a region that could not be fathomed scientifically; its laws, like those of nature, could not be deciphered. Thus, the generally valid principles of the ‘science of man’, which in Hume’s view should serve as the foundation for all other sciences, are not found or discovered in any historical laws or processes but in the nature of human beings. The evidence for a specific and uniform human nature is gleaned from cases and examples scattered throughout history. Through appeal to human nature, now understood to provide the scientific basis of our knowledge of the

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causes of human actions, Hume sought to comprehend social phenomena such as religion, economy and morals. Hume’s account implies that history is the foundation of the ‘science of man’, which itself is the basis for all other avenues of knowledge; yet history itself lacks any grounding. If this is so, then Hume has left open some methodological problems in the realization of the ‘science of man’.38 This is not to say that Hume’s philosophical and historical works do not offer some mutual substantiation; however, whereas Hume’s mitigated empirical epistemology opens a perspective on man as a scientific object, history has no independent, or scientifically revisable, status in the ‘science of man’.39 Turning from history to natural history, Hume’s Natural History of Religion (1757) reveals his interest in anthropological as well as historical insights. A ‘natural history’ sits between the poles of a philosophical treatment (which assumes uniformity) and a historical treatment (which assumes change). Traditionally, historia naturalis had been reserved for empirical-classificatory data collection. By expanding it to include humans, and thus incorporating historia humana, it gained completely new significance.40 The result was that authors of ‘natural histories of man’, such as Adam Ferguson, Lord Kames or John Millar, were now confronted with theoretical questions. Some of these pertained to the interdependent relationship between historical investigation and the philosophical hypothesis of uniformity. For example, to what extent can basic anthropological axioms – such as uniformity or perfectibility – tolerate diverging empirical results? Similarly, is it possible to reconcile static anthropological assumptions with models of historical movements, such as those already furnished in Buffon’s Histoire naturelle générale et particulière (from 1749)?41 Buffon not only included man within his concept of natural history, but he emphasized the historical development of the whole species. The apparent polarization between uniformity (philosophy) and change (history) in the field of the natural history of man could be overcome once it was noticed that the very focus of investigation, mankind or humanity, could also serve as both historical object and philosophical subject.42 Ferguson plays a decisive role in that process.

Ferguson’s Epistemological Foundation for the Natural History of Mankind Hume assumed that history provided the standard for creating an account of human nature that would be theoretically fruitful. Yet history seems to have no foundation of its own. How does Ferguson confront such problems emerging from Hume’s account?43 Ferguson seeks to defend the scientific investigation of history against the objection that any description of historical events is but an arbitrary sequence of collected data. To meet that objection, he must show

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that history (or natural history) is not an enterprise in which there is simply an accumulation of facts; rather, history must invoke new methodological (and epistemological) standards to discover and to order facts.44 Ferguson seeks, therefore, to reconcile the alleged opposition of the nature of man on the one hand and the structure of history on the other. In Institutes of Moral Philosophy (1769),45 an unusually popular textbook46 to accompany his classroom lectures, a schematic guide was offered. As a contemporary reviewer summarized, ‘These institutes contain heads from which lectures are given, which comprise masterly reflections on the history of mankind, and an instructive analysis of the human mind; which exhibit an elegant and ingenious system of morality; and the most comprehensive views on jurisprudence and political law’.47 According to Ferguson, the only scientific account of all human concerns – whether present, past or future, whether of the species or of the individual – is the ‘natural history of man’.48 Only investigations along this path could yield knowledge of human nature. The complexity of any such ‘natural history’ arises out of its relation to two seemingly distinct disciplines: ‘history’ and ‘science’.49 This twofold allocation likewise results in two concerns: to describe how humans are, and, through the derivation of laws of natural history, to recognize how humans should be. For any description, the available data must be used as in natural philosophy: scientific results, according to Ferguson, can be obtained only if ‘general rules’ have been derived from the collection of otherwise isolated phenomena: ‘facts’. Every general rule that either describes facts or sets forth what is ‘good’ and ‘right’ is a ‘law of nature’. A general rule that is transferred to isolated phenomena is a ‘principle’. Explanations based on such principles are ‘theories’ or ‘systems’. In its method of creating ‘general rules’ from individual observations, science proceeds in an ‘analytic’ manner, while, on the other hand, the purpose of the ‘synthetic’ method is to advance from a general rule to its particular application. The analytic method is responsible for scientific ‘inventions’, while the synthetic method is responsible for ‘instruction’. A justification or proof of some conclusion is either taken from ‘law’ (‘a priore’) or from the isolated phenomenon (‘a posteriore’).50 Ferguson’s account, however schematic, suggests that there is a methodological bridge between thesis development (scientia)51 and empirical data collection (historia).52 How is this so? The link relating the two different forms of knowledge is the inquirer or agent. The general rules that are derived from observation are gleaned only through being an engaged participant in the ‘natural history of man’ that is under investigation. Only by being a participant could the historical process prove decipherable. The epistemological linkage between the natural phenomenon ‘man’ and the cultural construction of ‘mankind’ as its own historical process – the identification of the subject and object of perception – was a precedent condition for combining the natural and moral sciences. In relat-

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ing the engaged participant to the knowledge of history, Ferguson created an all-embracing model for an innovative scientific genre that had no appropriate name in eighteenth-century epistemology.53 In the early nineteenth century, however, a method able to mediate between an isolated empirical phenomenon and its surrounding structure came to be called ‘hermeneutics’. During the late eighteenth century this peculiar (and at that time unnamed) method was confined to religion, philosophy and literature. But with the invention of ‘hermeneutics’ in the nineteenth century historians of science came to neglect the eighteenth-century roots of this approach to understanding human nature. The hermeneutical potential of eighteenth-century thought, such as Ferguson’s, consisted of understanding the rules of the natural history of mankind qua being a man. One way of understanding the influence and innovation of Ferguson’s perspective is by appealing to one of the German translators of Hume’s Essays, the Königsberg philosopher Christian Jakob Kraus. He redefined the adequate method for what ‘Stewart calls theoretical or conjectural history’ and what ‘Hume calls natural history’ as twofold: ‘The principles and use of history are followed by a doubled form of theory: 1) hermeneutics as the critique of historical data 2) heuristic as the critique of historical method’.54 With these epistemic considerations Kraus seeks to follow Ferguson’s impulse to mediate between the empirical natural history of man (Anthropologie) and the philosophical history of mankind (Geschichtsphilosophie).55 Kraus’s example shows that Ferguson’s solution – the synthesis of the empirical and the philosophical history of mankind (combined with an interest in moral philosophy) – was acknowledged for its methodological innovativeness, a theoretical export of the Scottish Enlightenment not typically recognized as such. Ferguson pointed out that, analogous to the physical law, the correspondence between the isolated historical fact and the scientific historical theory was ‘moral law’.56 Whereas the subjects of the physical laws are collected under such categories as mechanism, vegetation and animal life, the subjects of moral science are ‘any matters of choice, together with the nature and actions of free and voluntary agents’.57 Ferguson’s essential contribution to the history of historiography was consequently no proto-materialistic model, as sometimes understood, but a conception of individual morality as the indicator of the historical sustainability of societies. ‘Any matters of choice’ were linked with the moral law which again was deduced from human nature. At first glance Ferguson’s proposal might suggest his embrace of a Kantian solution, but the crucial difference consists in Ferguson’s empirical, not metaphysical, foundation of morals. By combining history and science, his epistemological foundation of the natural history of mankind had a lasting effect on the theoretical reflections of historiography, whose purely rhetorical function in the tradition of the historia magistra vitae was relegated

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to the background, like static constructions of natural law – similar to a natural condition.58 Especially in the Anglo-American historiographical tradition – as represented in Peardon’s account – Ferguson’s style of historical writing was traced to the humanist rhetorical tradition. This attribution ignores, however, that the travelogues reporting the customs of ‘rude nations’ did not serve only as a storehouse of synchronous moral examples but provided a diachronic perspective to assist in understanding the progressions and regressions of societies. In this way Ferguson’s preoccupation with history would allow him insight into the political and moral status of contemporary society. His interest in Roman history must be interpreted in this context. In the second half of the eighteenth century, the methodological wand for all comparative studies and fashionable natural histories of mankind involved the application of analogies, comparisons and causalities; the application of such analogies, which presumed the basic anthropological axioms of the uniformity and the perfectibility of man, led to an ever more predictable history of mankind.59 Under the auspices of a critical, always revisable theory of civilization, daring and unhistorical constructions were no longer tenable for Ferguson, for these served primarily to legitimize certain philosophical aims.60 Ferguson’s methodological reservation therefore aimed at authors who uncritically supported the theory of perfectibility or depravity, theses closely related to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s philosophy and its epigones.61 In line with Hume’s academic scepticism, Ferguson reminded readers that such heuristic models of society could not be mistaken for historical facts, nor did they mirror reality.62 Every form of historiography serves to create ‘informations’ as Ferguson put it: classical-political historiography does this illustratively, in narrative form, while the ‘natural history of man’ analyzes facts explanatorily, in descriptive form.63 This is why the responsibility of every natural historian is to discover and to expound on facts, not to engage in supposition: ‘the natural historian thinks himself obliged to collect facts, not to offer conjectures’.64 Dugald Stewart’s equation of ‘natural history’ with ‘conjectural history’ not only ignored Ferguson’s own conscious methodological demarcation,65 it manifested the narrowing of the scientific view to a method whose focus was strongly inductive. Stewart’s codification of the natural historian’s approach as ‘philosophical investigation’ lost sight of the fact that the natural historian consciously rejected conjecture.66 At this juncture, the scientific-historical aspect of Burke’s claim of ‘counterrevolution’ must not be forgotten: For the early critique of conjectural history may explain less about the concept itself than about the desires of a new generation to silhouette their claims against the achievements of a previous generation – regardless of how revolutionary the earlier groups might have been.

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Stewart used his hagiographic studies to stylize his own approach as the crowning end of a difficult tug-of-war to establish the right method. For Stewart, his approach was ‘in strict conformity to the rules of inductive philosophizing’ and thus strictly distinct from systems based on ‘hypotheses’, a description (or accusation) that Stewart, following Thomas Reid, aimed at Hume’s entire philosophical system as well as at ‘conjectural historians’, such as Ferguson, who stood in Hume’s tradition.67 As a matter of fact, nothing seemed more senseless to Ferguson than the simple collection of facts with no systematic approach. In collecting the materials of history, we are seldom willing to put up with our subject merely as we find it. We are loth to be embarrassed with a multiplicity of particulars, and apparent inconsistencies. In theory we profess the investigation of general principles; and in order to bring the matter of our inquiries within the reach of our comprehension, are disposed to adopt any system.68

To counteract the arbitrary choice of particulars, Ferguson first categorizes facts in accordance with two natural laws: the ‘physical’ and the ‘moral’. A physical law designates a change to which one may attribute two types of causes: ‘Efficient, and final. The efficient cause, is the energy or power producing an effect. The final cause, is the end or purpose for which an effect is produced.’69 The ‘final cause’ is the goal of moral laws whose validity and power are obligatory; however, physical laws are related only to actual changes and are thus the immediate object of the sciences. Accordingly, for Ferguson, the function of a theory is to reduce observed changes to general principles.70 These general principles could not be arbitrarily accepted, however, but had to stand up to the same criteria of ‘probability’ and ‘compatibility’ that were expected of the other natural laws.71 The problem of the theoretical distinction between the arbitrary and the probable ascertainment of a general rule was elucidated by Ferguson – as well as other eighteenth-century authors – by comparing Newton’s method with the Cartesian world view. While Newton derived his theory of planetary motion from the general study of the movement of bodies and forces, Descartes promoted a ‘false science’ through his untenable hypotheses: ‘Thus the vortex of Descartes, being a mere supposition, could not explain the planetary motions: and the terms, idea, image, or picture, of things, being terms merely metaphorical, cannot explain human knowledge and thought’.72 With this prominent example from the history of science the contrast between inductive and deductive methods was tempered because it was obvious that, in the end, every theory rests on basic facts and no fact can be proven a priori.73 This sort of justification of empiricism invokes the very limits of knowledge and, in so doing, makes Ferguson a learned disciple of Hume. Nonetheless, there remain differences between the two. In the tradition of the early modern

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meaning of historia, Hume uses natural history as a research field for the study of human motives. Ferguson’s conception of history is more universal because it includes historia naturalis and historia civilis. Analogous to Hume’s Natural History of Religion, Ferguson’s An Essay on the History of Civil Society is laid out as a compendium of the characteristics of man. But, in contrast to Hume, Ferguson regards the characteristics of human nature as accessible only by comprehending the continual development of mankind over time: ‘This progress in the case of man is continued to a greater extent than in that of any other animal. Not only the individual advances from infancy to manhood, but the species itself from rudeness to civilization.’74 It is unambiguously clear that, for Ferguson, human nature cannot be derived from an arbitrary series of historical examples. Only a systematic comparative review of the whole process of civilization can prove man’s development: ‘If the question be put, What the mind of man could perform, when let to itself, and without the aid of any foreign direction? we are to look for our answer in the history of mankind.’75

‘Mankind’ as the Object of History By presenting a concept for combining and naturalizing the traditional division of man according to an animal and a rational nature, Ferguson followed the maxims of the ‘science of man’, thereby invoking anthropological premises such as the ‘uniformity’ and ‘perfectibility’ of man.76 Although the object of his efforts was also to establish universal laws of human nature, his scientific programme was decisively expanded. As his object of research Ferguson chose not ‘man’ but ‘mankind’: ‘Mankind are to be taken in groups, as they have always subsisted. The history of the individual is but a detail of the sentiments and the thoughts he has entertained in the view of his species; and every experiment relative to this subject should be made with entire societies not with single men.’77 By discovering the ‘system of things, in the midst of which mankind are placed, and from the varieties of aspect under which the species has appeared under different ages and nations’, it seemed possible for Ferguson to acquire knowledge of human nature.78 Ferguson’s new focus on ‘mankind’ made him one of the founders of sociology in the lineage of modern sciences.79 Without question the discovery of mankind as a scientific object paved the way for further inquiries into the different forms and conditions of society. Yet this was not Ferguson’s original intention. His investigations sought a scientific foundation for moral philosophy, as well as the elucidation of guidelines for moral practice. By increasing our insights into our own species, the human being is granted perspectives on the laws of his nature and the possibility to mould his political environment. In other words, for Ferguson, the findings of natural philosophy are accompanied by a liberation from

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external forces, thereby allowing the possibility of self-determination: ‘And it may be said of mankind in general, that the extension of knowledge is an accession of power’.80 The possibility to engage creatively in human development reveals how Ferguson has broadened the older concept of ‘natural history’ – as the propaedeutics of anthropological data for moral philosophy – so as to incorporate the concept of ‘civil history’.81 Such a bivalent approach is reflected in Ferguson’s dual-structured historiography that manifests a theoretical and inductive method, as well as a narrative structure with a pragmatic intention (one guided by its very inductive procedure). Ferguson’s attempt at drafting a ‘civil history’ has to be understood as a ‘humanistic experiment’ for transmitting his opinion of ‘civic virtues’;82 it is also a manifestation of the increasing influence of a specific historical consciousness in the Scottish Enlightenment. An Essay on the History of Civil Society is a watershed that marks Ferguson’s increasing distance from ‘pure’ pneumatics and moral philosophy and his growing alliance with a scientifically studied history as an indispensable basis for anthropology. His History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic – which he considered as his main work – is the product of this development. Not only does Ferguson provide, in his appeal to mankind, a modified object of history, but he also suggests that the whole species is the target, or addressee, of his moral philosophy. The whole species (‘mankind’) now becomes the beneficiary and intention (‘humanitas’) of history. Thus, ‘mankind’ is both the ontological basis of research and the normative goal of human beings.83 Once history becomes an ancillary science of moral philosophy, it is of crucial importance whether historical data are used as a basis for an act- or end-oriented version of practical philosophy.84 Hume’s study of history was indebted to the act-oriented practical philosophy and showed its normative content in the analysis of historical conditions. In Ferguson’s Essay, history serves as a basis for an end-oriented practical philosophy, and there we observe a shift of the telos: turning from the individual maxims to the historical process itself. The limits of a scientifically ascertainable history of mankind become the framework of a historically derived and secular moral philosophy. That Ferguson created a secular, practical and generic moral philosophy in a historical perspective makes it appropriate to describe his style as ‘pragmatic historiography’.85 The pragmatic nature of Ferguson’s style is not that which Peardon characterized as within the humanist rhetoric tradition; rather it is a narrative method bridging the confusing empirical material on man – as provided, for example, by travel reports – and the new theoretical conceptualization of the history of mankind.86 Ferguson thus presented a methodological solution to mediate between disparate elements (man, mankind), specific epistemological worries (a priori, a posteriori) and various methods (deduction, induction) of naturalizing the

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history of mankind. Ferguson’s methodological proposition was a sort of middle road between empirical observation and abstract formalization. Hence his model of a historically-informed anthropology existed beyond the limitations of the newly-founded sciences at the beginning of the nineteenth century.87 However these new disciplinary limitations obstructed the view of the histories of science. Ferguson’s ‘Appropriate Stile’ in history implied that the contrasts between anthropology, history and moral philosophy could be amalgamated into a scientific anthropological history that differed fundamentally from the historical anthropology propagated in Hume’s ‘science of man’. The discovery of mankind, its development and destination as an object of science, has had fundamental consequences for the history of historiography. Even if successive generations defamed the combination of philosophy, ethics, anthropology and history as inadmissible, propagating instead a purely empirical, positivistic or historicist solution, the new scientific focus on mankind (civilization, society, species, cultural history) was the indispensable basis for their own writings.88 Ferguson’s epistemology of the natural history of mankind was one of the first daring attempts to emancipate history from its traditional propaedeutic function and establish it as a methodically independent, scientifically comprehended research discipline.

Acknowledgements I should like to thank Gregor Pelger and Bethany Wiggin for their indispensable help. I am also grateful to Eugene Heath and Vincenzo Merolle for their criticism and encouragement.

9 FERGUSON’S POLITICS OF ACTION Fania Oz-Salzberger

‘That man is not made for repose’1 is a major conclusion of Adam Ferguson’s analysis of human nature and of human history. Men act or languish; nations are at best ‘forward, enterprising, inventive, and industrious’,2 at times suffer ‘periods of remissness’,3 and at worst decline and die. The need and the desire for action are common to men and beasts, but they are interwoven into human history in ways unique to the species. To begin with, human exertion is the fundament of society and polity. Yet human motives – such as ambition and avarice – may overturn political structures and reduce liberty. In modern times, safety and wellbeing can render physical exertion elective and induce political laziness, causing corruption and decline. Commercial societies also run the risk of departmentalizing human actions in a way that may – but need not – threaten active political virtue, which Ferguson took to be man’s highest end. Ferguson’s philosophy of action is not part of a metaphysical system. Unlike his good friend David Hume, he did not create a theory of passion, action and effect. Still less does his work constitute an early contribution to analytic philosophy of action of the twentieth-century brand.4 His aim, in An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767) and in the Principles of Moral and Political Science (1792),5 was twofold: to offer a descriptive natural history of the human species, and to interpose it with a civil history of human societies with a prescriptive core. Thus, his description of active human nature led to a normative analysis of action in society, ripening into an assertion of the importance of public commitment requisite from citizens of a good polity. The normative aspect of his writings, indeed, stretched beyond the extrapolation of what needs to be done: his texts and lectures were themselves intended as a mind-enhancing and politically affective enterprise, an action through words. Most of his major works, including the Essay, the Roman Republic, the Principles and many of the essays, could be read in context as essayistic political acts, rather than mere intellectual exercises in system-making.6 – 147 –

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Ferguson lived up to his creed; his own public exertions, from the Black Watch chaplaincy through the Carlisle Commission, place him among the politically active thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment, of which he was arguably the most military-minded. Considering the distinct overlap between his moralpolitical standards and his historical actor’s persona, it is somewhat ironic that an anonymous posthumous estimation tended to focus on the figure Ferguson had cut, a ‘Scottish Cato’ in manners and appearance, rather than on his well-aligned philosophical and active pursuits. ‘He was’, one nineteenth-century biographer wrote of him, ‘more than he did’.7 It would be fairer to say that Ferguson was a constant doer, and a great pontificator for deeds.

Active Nature and Public Exertion The idea of human self-realization through exertion, smoothly coupled with civic prowess8 through active political participation, runs the gamut of Ferguson’s philosophical writings. It is found in the strongly-worded Essay, in the far milder university textbook Institutes of Moral Philosophy (1769), and, in historicized form, in The History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic (1783); it is also prevalent in the politically more cautious, post-Revolution Principles. If Ferguson reconsidered his conviction in his late years, this did not tone down his commitment to political vita activa as such. More than any other Scottish writer of his day Ferguson equated ‘mankind’ with a vigorous notion of ‘men’, and ‘society’ with active civic life. His famous dictum on the historical and methodological primacy of society, ‘mankind are to be taken in groupes’,9 is in effect complemented by the statement that ‘nations consist of men’.10 Polities owe their existence and welfare to the exercise of certain natural traits that are essentially and exclusively masculine, such as play, pursuit and conflict. The ‘disposition to action’, the love of adversity, is what ‘every boy knows at his play’.11 In ‘rude’ societies man is the hunter, gamester, warrior; in the ancient polities he was the soldier and statesman; in modern states he ought to maintain an all-rounded civic personality, a non-specialized political skill and military prowess. Perennial human psychology, inborn masculine traits, primitive tribal codes, and the history of ancient and modern societies – all provided Ferguson with a linear or concentric model for substantiating a general truth: men are prone to action. Ferguson does not offer a theoretical justification for the transition from a pre- and extra-political ‘disposition to action’ – which he treats mostly in a descriptive manner – to the highly normative treatment of political exertion and public-minded activism. His works, especially the Essay, glide with ease from manly turbulence as a natural trait to the virtuous political exertions of dedicated members in a functioning republic.

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At the bottom of this great chain of exertion are ‘[man’s] associates, the dog and the horse’, and other ‘noble’ animals that share his love of play and fight.12 At the top are the loftiest human goals, political freedom and individual integrity, which must be supported by constant action and fruitful civic strife. ‘The rivalship of separate communities, and the agitations of a free people, are the principles of political life, and the school of men’, in the words of the Essay.13 The Institutes tones down the case for discord but praises political exertion: ‘The reason and the heart of man are best cultivated in the exercise of social duties, and in the conduct of public affairs’.14 The endorsement of conflict resurfaces in the Principles, where ‘The trials of ability, which men mutually afford to one another in the collisions of free society, are the lessons of a school which Providence has opened for mankind’.15 As late as 1796, in a letter to John Macpherson, the septuagenarian Ferguson again emphasized the need for individual civic involvement, even at the price of political restlessness and civil strife.16 Competing boys, pugnacious savages and playful animals were thus part of Ferguson’s assertion of the active role of individual citizens in a contingent, open-ended, and not necessarily progressive history of civil society. Yet modern polities complicate the issue of exertion in ways unknown to savage societies or to childhood playgrounds. As David Kettler suggested, active lives require an accommodating locus, a ‘presentation of circumstances as hospitable to action’.17 While beasts, savages and young boys normally enjoy a natural stomping ground, men and citizens, ancient as well as modern, require both good fortune and civic fortitude in order to act out their natural propensity. The crux of Ferguson’s moral philosophy, defined as ‘the study of what men ought to be, and of what they ought to wish, for themselves and for their country’,18 was thus a theory of constant business as opposed to repose, of negotium rather than otium, on the personal as well as the political level.19 The underlying dichotomy was not between savage and civilized man, but between man employed in action, natural or moral, and man languishing in corruption or slavery. Accordingly, ‘The admiration Cicero entertained for literature, eloquence, and civil accomplishments, was not more real than that of a Scythian for such a measure of similar endowments as his own apprehension could reach’.20 Nevertheless, the balance between negotium and otium was not a constant in human history. Refinement undermines man’s active nature in general, and the citizen’s public exertion in particular. Hence Ferguson’s move from descriptive to normative tenor as his accounts of civil society reach eras of luxury, ancient and modern. Political virtue, for Ferguson, was thus a matter of conscious participation. Good states, he insisted, are ‘states where different orders of men are summoned to partake in the government of their country’.21 This ran against the grain of fashionable social ideas of sensibility and aestheticism, against the recent enno-

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blement of the private sphere – in effect, against the new-found respectability of domestic and female approaches to life. Ferguson’s history of civil society was not a story of growing harmony and peace – ‘man is too disposed to opposition’ – but of perpetual discord which is deliberately poised against the model of feminine domesticity. Men, Ferguson is happy to say, ‘will be forever separated into bands, and form a plurality of nations’, at least until ‘we have reduced mankind to the state of a family’.22 As the context makes clear, this ‘reduction’, or reversal of the Aristotelian account of social evolution, will fortunately never take place. Ferguson had little time for the female version of human nature, and even less time for the ‘feminine principle’ in the rise of Western civilization. He did not take the trouble, as Hume did, to relate to ‘my female readers’.23 The only women making any meaningful appearance in the Essay are the ladies who ‘never look abroad’ and complain about bored husbands disturbing them on a rainy day, thereby demonstrating men’s natural disposition to outdoor life.24 ‘Looking abroad’, in the Essay as well as the Principles, denotes Ferguson’s notion of an essential human (that is, male) cognitive activity: in order to enhance his ‘improveable capacity’, man ought to be accountable to society and ‘to look abroad into the general order of things’.25 When societies decline into excessive finesse and compartmentalize the classical civic tasks, ‘citizens and soldiers might come to be distinguished as much as women and men’.26 Men, unlike women, are in need of ‘pursuit’.27 The noun ‘pursuit’, Ferguson’s favourite term for manly exertion as well as political verve, appears no less than seventy-six times in the text of the Essay, and no less than fifty times in the Roman Republic, without counting its derivative verbs. In Ferguson’s language, ‘pursuit’ is not limited to the perusal of material improvement, nor is it solely the game-hunter’s expertise. It is, rather, the differential marking manly departure from effeminate sensuality, from the non-action of the languid. ‘Sensuality is easily overcome by any of the habits of pursuit which usually engage an active mind. When curiosity is awake, or when passion is excited, even in the midst of the feast when conversation grows warm, grows jovial, or serious, the pleasures of the table we know are forgotten. The boy contemns them for play, and the man of age declines them for business.’28 ‘Play’ is a constant companion of Ferguson’s rhetoric of pursuit, game, sport, business and civic action. His usage of the term smoothly encompassed the full spectrum of its meaning – playing a role, theatre acting, child’s play – with a unifying panache. A significant early appearance couples ‘play’ with ‘man’ in Ferguson’s sermon to the Black Watch Regiment in 1746, where he quoted 2 Samuel 10:12, ‘be of good courage, and let us play the man for our people, and for the cities of our God’. This was a well-chosen citation. Ferguson’s sermon was aimed to make sure that his Highlander soldiers, fresh from the Jacobite trauma of 1745, understood that civic loyalty must be given to demos (qua body

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politic) rather than to ethnos or tribal affiliation, to commonwealth rather than to birthplace: By a man’s country is meant that society or united body of men, of which he is a member, sharing all the advantages that arise from such a union. Not merely the soil or spot on which he was born … No: the name of country bears a meaning more sacred and more interesting. It was not for the place of their nativity that Jacob exhorts the Israelites to play the man; it was for their people and for the cities of their God.29

‘Playing the man’ is no accidental turn of phrase. Ferguson took play in all its guises to be the true matrix for human happiness through exertion.30 Borrowing the Stoic account of life as a constant game, he latched it to his notion of competition and restlessness igniting every happy civil state: The Stoics conceived human life under the image of a Game; at which the entertainment and merit of the players consisted in playing attentively and well, whether the stake was great or small. This game the author has had occasion to see played in camps, on board ships, and in presence of an enemy, with the same or greater ease than is always to be found in the most secure situations.31

There is thus a continuum of hunt, war, play, ‘business’ (in its broad eighteenth-century sense) and civic participation, all epitomizing for Ferguson the realization of men’s true nature: ‘business or play may amuse them alike’.32 Outside this spectrum of exertion is the luxurious repose of the effeminate, as well as the narrow dealings of the specialized economic actors, a product of the separation of professions. Both these areas, which may technically provide activities of certain kinds, are excluded from natural manly action, as well as from moral active virtue. The indolent rich and the confined producers and traders are, to use Kettler’s terms, acting out of proper place. They lack ‘a context consonant with actions meeting an ethical obligation’.33 On this point Ferguson parted ways with both David Hume and Adam Smith. It was partly with a view of Hume that Ferguson may have directed his critique of modern scholarship as divorced from political life. ‘It is peculiar to modern Europe’, he wrote, ‘to rest so much of the human character on what may be learned in retirement, and from the information of books’.34 This is not so much a refrain against Hume’s own idea of active man,35 but a critique of historical analyses of modern states that disposed of the active citizen. Ferguson’s engagement with Hume over the kernels of human motivating power is laid out in the Essay without referring to Hume by name, but poignantly denoting his A Treatise of Human Nature: The very terms pleasure and pain, perhaps, are equivocal; but if they are confined, as they appear to be in many of our reasonings, to the mere sensations which have a reference to external objects, either in the memory of the past, the feeling of the present,

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Ferguson rejects the gleaning of actions, even more so of moral actions, from pleasure and pain alone. ‘The mind’, he argues, ‘during the greater part of its existence, is employed in active exertions, not in merely attending to its own feeling of pleasure and pain’. Echoing the unnamed Hume again, he continues: ‘and the list of its faculties, understanding, memory, foresight, sentiment, will, and intention, only contains the names of its different operations’.37 Such operative categories are by no means exclusively reliant on the attraction to pleasure or the resentment of pain. Nor do they emerge from these, or any other, particular sensations or the mental picturing thereof. Rather, the mind’s faculties are set in their operative mode within the broader parameters of the human propensity for action itself. Men act, first and foremost, because it is in their nature to act rather than repose: [I]f what we call pleasure or pain, occupies but a small part of human life, compared to what passes in contrivance and execution, in pursuits and expectations, in conduct, reflection, and social engagements; it must appear, that our active pursuits, at least on account of their duration, deserve the greater part of our attention. When their occasions have failed, the demand is not for pleasure, but for something to do; and the very complaints of a sufferer are not so sure a mark of distress, as the stare of the languid.38

A similar reliance on active pursuit underlies Ferguson’s critique of Hume’s and Smith’s political economy. Commercial society in its modern phase may become hostile to ‘active pursuits’ not because of the accumulation of wealth and the attachment to luxury in themselves, but because of the physical and political laziness they generate. Similarly, the ‘separation of professions’ left mankind pursuing activities, no doubt, but such that deprived them of well-rounded manly exertion. Unlike Hume and Smith, Ferguson’s idea of the polity nevertheless depended on sustaining the derogatory sense of the effeminate, the economically self-interested and the apolitically ‘polite’. Prosperity and progress could well be the unintended consequences of commercial selfishness and accumulation of technical skill – indeed, Ferguson was one of the best presenters of this innovative idea – but political membership must always remain intentional, assertive, and thus (by definition) ‘manly’. Political participation and military valour, Ferguson argued against Smith, cannot be ‘delegated & become matter of Separate Profession’ without undermining ‘the Genius & Character of man’.39 A modern society of polite and commercial fellow-subjects is doomed to decline – just like its ancient predecessors – if stripped of its citizens’ militia and, so to speak, its agora. Thus, Ferguson was perhaps the only major Scottish Enlightenment thinker for whom the term ‘politics’ denoted a lively practice as well as a

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scholarly pursuit. A man of action was no less entitled than a retiring scholar to be called a politician.40 It is from within the active life, not from the scholar’s detached stance, that both philosophy and virtue derive their true meaning.41

Active Political Virtue The derivation of man’s political persona from his natural restlessness, and the ensuing emphasis on modern man’s political calling in the midst of – if not against the grain of – commercial and polite society, are hallmarks of Ferguson’s attempt to reconstruct a politics of action for the modern European state, or at least for Britain.42 The extent of Ferguson’s republican commitment is a matter for controversy among scholars. As I have argued at length,43 Ferguson used republican language often and consistently. Thus, the Essay’s second edition, in 1768, spelled out that in the past ‘men civilized were men practiced in the duty of citizens’, while in the refined and commercial society of his day ‘men civilized are scholars, men of fashion and traders’.44 Acknowledging that the term ‘civil’ and its derivatives ran a broad gamut of denotations in eighteenth-century vocabularies, often opposed to his preferred meaning, Ferguson left no doubt on his preference for meanings linked to public-minded active citizenship. That republican ideas are linked to citizens’ public-minded actions is made clear by numerous citations, such as the following passage in the Essay. Ferguson’s moral approbation of the republican citizen rather than the monarchic subject is clear from the context. The republican must act in the state, to sustain his pretensions; he must join a party, in order to be safe; he must form one, in order to be great. The subject of monarchy refers to his birth for the honour he claims; he waits on a court, to shew his importance; and holds out the ensigns of dependence and favour, to gain him esteem with the public.45

Notwithstanding his fascination with commercial modernity and his anticipations of modern sociology and anthropology, Ferguson remained insistent on the classical idea of active political virtue during his whole philosophical career.46 While the Essay, published in 1767, is rightly considered the most ‘republican’ of Ferguson’s books, compared to the student textbook Institutes and to the later, post-Revolution, Principles, attention should be drawn to the strong republican colour of the Roman Republic of 1783, a three-volume opus tracing the demise of active civic virtue in Rome.47 Here was Ferguson’s distinct, and late, contribution to the Neo-Roman tradition, which in early modern republican thought decisively broke from the Greek ideal of vita contemplativa and embraced the Roman notion of public-spirited citizenship.48 In the Principles, Ferguson pointedly cited Cato’s praise of action and process rather than ‘the end or purpose to which the action was directed’,

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as quoted in Cicero’s De Finibus.49 This Ciceronian mindset made, for Ferguson, the finest historical example for the requisite admixture of active virtue in philosophical thought and historical performance.50 Rome, republic at best and tyranny at its imperial worst, offered the best historical array of civic experience. In sum, the Principles was aimed at demonstrating how ‘the turbulence of free states is contrasted with the seeming tranquillity of a despotical government’.51 Political freedom was born in action, borne by political actors, and effective only as the fruit of contemplation created within a pulsating vita activa. Such ideas shed much of their meaning in the reclusive calm of modern libraries. Most modern readers are no longer civic actors. They tear politics – indeed, Greek and Roman expression as a whole – from its living context and turn it into an abstract aesthetics. [W]e endeavour to derive from imagination and thought, what is in reality matter of experience and sentiment: and we endeavour, through the grammar of dead languages, and the channel of commentators, to arrive at the beauties of thought and elocution, which sprang from the animated spirit of society, and were taken from the living impressions of an active life.52

This claim, in the first part of the Essay, amounts to a demand that politics must not be reduced to a science. Ferguson did not mention Hume by name, but formulations such as the following target Hume’s ‘science’ by allusive vocabulary. If Hume’s pivotal essay claimed that ‘so great is the force of laws … that consequences almost as general and certain may sometimes be deduced from them, as any which the mathematical sciences afford us’,53 then so is Ferguson’s wording suggestively polemical in such passages as this: Our attainments are frequently limited to the elements of every science, and seldom reach to that enlargement of ability and power which useful knowledge should give. Like mathematicians, who study the Elements of Euclid, but never think of mensuration, we read of societies, but do not propose to act with men: we repeat the language of politics, but feel not the spirit of nations: we attend to the formalities of a military discipline, but know not how to employ numbers of men to obtain any purpose by stratagem or force.54

Was Hume, for Ferguson, a political scientist seeking mathematical certainty but ‘feeling not the spirit of nations’? This can be left as an open question. It is significant, I suggest, that despite Hume’s psychological commitment to man’s active nature, his political histories tended to exclude individual actions – including public-minded ones – as viable means of making changes in history. Thus, Hume’s definition of ‘politics’ is invariably that of a discipline of enquiry rather than a practice, and his ‘politician’ is always a theorist, never a statesman. Furthermore, politics as science, just like physics and chemistry, ‘treat of general facts’,55 ‘laws

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and forms of government [have] a uniform influence upon society’,56 and laws have ‘little dependence’ upon ‘the humours and tempers of men’.57 Ferguson may not have wished to confront Hume directly in the Essay, letting his vocabulary ensconce the polemics instead. His direct engagement with Hume was spelled out more clearly in an unpublished manuscript, ‘Of the Principle of Moral Estimation: David Hume, Robert Clerk, Adam Smith’, compiled in 1801 and 1806.58 In this imaginary dialogue, Clerk, evidently serving as Ferguson’s mouthpiece,59 taunts Hume for thinking that ‘morality is founded on utility and that virtue is only a cow that gives milk of a particular sort, alms to the poor, and every mans due to himself ’.60 In the dialogue the personage of Hume cheerfully concedes that ‘moral virtue … is the utility or usefulness that proceeds from mind’, and he goes on to provoke Clerk (and Ferguson) by saying that ‘virtue for the most part is admired as a principle of self denial’.61 Clerk’s response is sharp: That proceeds from the stupid notion that man is to estimate himself as he estimates a dead ox from his belly and four quarters so whatever he does without a view to that self is said to be self denial.62

And, a few paragraphs later, with evident Fergusonian equation of virtue as happiness and happiness as exertion: When I talk of happiness, I do not go to the rabble in the street for an account of it. … I call that man happy who is habitually courageous and benevolent, whose occupations and thoughts are pleasant … If virtue is a term of praise and felicity, here I fix it on goodness and wisdom, on fortitude, temperance and the occupations of a strenuous mind.63

The individual’s ‘strenuous mind’, blessed with fortitude and courage, is the cornerstone of Ferguson’s politics of action. It is the basis for his consistent demand that citizenship ought to return to the state of a self-conscious practice. As his unpublished dialogue makes clear, and his selection of words in the Essay suggests, he felt that his politics of action was, at the very least, on a collision course with Hume’s philosophical politics.

Unintended Consequences and Political Action As the present context makes clear, Ferguson’s memorable phrasing of the concept of unintended consequences is misleading when taken, as is often the case, separately from his politics of participation. To be sure, the principle of spontaneous historical progress is beautifully laid out in the Essay: Like the winds, that come we know not whence, and blow whithersoever they list, the forms of society are derived from an obscure and distant origin; they arise, long

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Yet Ferguson argued vehemently against reliance on self-regulating mechanisms in politics. The Habeas Corpus Act, touchstone of English freedom, ‘requires a fabric no less than the whole political constitution of Great Britain, a spirit no less than the refractory and turbulent zeal of this fortunate people, to secure its effects’.65 Nothing can replace constant, deliberate, virtuous human support for the legal mechanism of the well-ordered state. Modern society can rely neither on the man-made clockwork of its constitution, nor on the natural mechanism of self-regulating interests converging in the marketplace. Nature and laws are indispensable but insufficient; self-interest and professionalization are historical explicatory factors but not political guarantors. All good states, regardless of their form of government, need some degree of manual operation by keen amateurs. The essentiality of individual political action, derived from a broad theory of man’s active nature, is at the very core of Ferguson’s moral philosophy, from his 1745 sermon to the Highlanders regiment to the Principles of 1792. His political convictions may have flowed and ebbed; his trust in the rule of the many may have abated as he grew older and witnessed its abuses; but his idea of the active, playful, turbulent man-citizen-warrior remained untainted by historical disappointment. Its presence throughout Ferguson’s life and work is a story of philosophical consistency.

10 FERGUSON AND THE ACTIVE GENIUS OF MANKIND Craig Smith

From what we have already observed on the general characteristics of human nature, it has appeared, that man is not made for repose. In him, every amiable and respectable quality is an active power, and every subject of commendation an effort. If his errors and his crimes are the movements of an active being, his virtues and happiness consist likewise in the employment of his mind; and all the lustre which he casts around him, to captivate or engage the attention of his fellow creatures, like the flame of a meteor, shines only while his motion continues: the moments of rest and of obscurity are the same.1

As the details of his life testify, Adam Ferguson, in all of his roles as academic, minister, soldier and diplomat, was first and foremost a ‘man of action’,2 and it is perhaps only natural that a man of action should become so preoccupied with the concept of activity. Action lies at the heart of his social thought. His very understanding of human nature is couched in terms of his recognition of its active nature and the interactive nature of the societies in which mankind assembles. Throughout his writings Ferguson considers the theme of action with remarkable consistency and frequency. Drawing from across his works, this essay reconstructs how Ferguson blends descriptive and normative argument to develop his conception of action, as a principle of human nature, into a ‘standard of estimation for mankind’.3 Ferguson’s combination of the descriptive and the normative confronts him with a problem: how can he reconcile his criterion of moral judgement with his growing awareness of the significance of the unintended consequences of social interaction? It will be argued that Ferguson seeks to resolve this question through the development of a concept of national character. Ferguson’s discussion of the fall of the Roman Republic illustrates his attempt to utilize a concept of national character or spirit as a means of extending his moral principle to the assessment of social level outcomes. It is to this concept of national character that he attributes moral responsibility for out– 157 –

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comes beyond the active power of individual agents. As a result of this Ferguson maintains that the fate of nations can provide us with moral lessons. In the eighteenth-century debate over wealth and virtue Ferguson is often seen as the most ambivalent of the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers in his reaction to commercial modernity. He has been characterized as an old-fashioned moralist fighting a ‘rear-guard civic moralism’4 against the acceptance of commerce found in the work of David Hume and Adam Smith. However, Ferguson is also fighting another, altogether more serious, sort of rearguard action. The increasingly sophisticated understanding of social interaction and history that developed in the eighteenth century had begun to undercut the traditional act of moralizing itself. The growing awareness, perhaps most famously expressed in Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature, of the distinction between naturalistic observation and normative judgement, and the conceptual sleight of hand employed by theories that shift between the two,5 was compounded by the realization of the implications of social complexity. Ferguson himself is credited with one of the most eloquent descriptions of the eighteenth-century preoccupation with unintended consequences and social complexity with his statement that institutions are ‘the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design’.6 The significance of the idea of unintended consequences, or the ‘law of the heterogeneity of ends’ as Duncan Forbes would have it, is that it precludes any simplistic link between individual intention, action and social-level outcomes.7 The challenge mounted by Bernard Mandeville in The Fable of the Bees exercised many of Ferguson’s contemporaries and, for all the energies expended on attacking Mandeville’s alleged normative conclusions, the accuracy of his distinction between individual-level motivations and social-level outcomes itself presents a serious challenge to the traditional moralist intent on drawing wider lessons from the moral assessment of the character of individuals engaged in social life. In a passage in which Ferguson discusses action and design he cites an example from Oliver Cromwell quoted by Cardinal de Retz. In his Memoires, de Retz grapples with a similar dilemma about how to preserve moral judgement in the face of unintended consequences.8 Deeply influenced by Niccolò Machiavelli, de Retz produced a theory that rests on the belief that history is shaped by the purposive actions of great men, and that their actions can be analysed and assessed by building detailed psychological portraits of the figures involved. De Retz’s aristocratic view of history faces a problem similar to that confronting Machiavelli’s analysis of virtù: circumstances outside the control of individuals can frustrate their plans and prevent a clear attribution of praise or blame. Taking its cue from the scholarship of J. G. A. Pocock, much of the literature on this topic adopts the language of Machiavelli.9 The schematic of virtù and fortuna is seen as a discourse for the intersection of the sphere of individual control with that of social circumstances, and Ferguson’s twin interests in sociological obser-

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vation and didactic moralizing place this intersection at the heart of his work. De Retz’s response to this problem was to cling to the aristocratic ideal, and he finds himself criticizing actions which achieved successful outcomes through the intervention of ‘fortune’ while praising unsuccessful actions that were frustrated by circumstances outside the individual’s control. Although there is more than a little of this attitude in Ferguson, particularly in his treatment of Cato during the waning of the Roman Republic, it is also apparent that Ferguson is reluctant to dispense with the traditional didactic role of the moralist in an increasingly hostile academic and social context. The central problem, then, is that the ramifications of social complexity (the unintended consequences of purposive action) seem to obscure any straightforward attribution of a causal relationship between individual action and morally assessable outcome. In other words, if social interaction in complex societies inevitably produces unintended consequences then does this allow either for attributions of responsibility or for moral assessments of individual conduct as they relate to social-level outcomes?

Action and Human Nature In the Scottish Enlightenment the language of action makes its most prominent appearance in the discussion of the attribution of moral responsibility. Perhaps the most explicit discussion of this theme among Ferguson’s contemporaries lies in Thomas Reid’s Essays on the Active Powers of Man. Reid employs the term ‘action’ in a specific technical sense in order to distinguish those aspects of human behaviour associated with the will. By Reid’s understanding, active power is necessary to make moral assessments of human behaviour: ‘Active power, therefore, is necessarily implied in the very notion of a morally accountable being’.10 If we are to attribute moral responsibility for an outcome we must identify an individual as having the active power to have either caused or prevented it from occurring.11 As Reid notes, we cannot apply moral evaluation to a person’s physical appearance or racial origin as each lies outside the scope of one’s active power as an individual. Reid undertakes this discussion under the division of ‘rational’ and ‘animal’ principles of action,12 arguing that only rational creatures can be held to be morally responsible. Reid’s use of active power as a qualification for moral judgement offers us an interesting window into Ferguson’s attempt to deploy the notion as a basis for moral judgement. For Ferguson humans are ‘formed to act’ and ‘fitted to act’13 – activity is something integral to our make-up. Human nature, he notes in the Institutes, is actually ‘in motion’,14 while in the Principles he asserts that all living creatures carry ‘a principle of active exertion in themselves’.15 In relation to man this results in a situation by which ‘Every quality of his nature is an energy, not a quiescent

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mode of existence’.16 It is this life force or spirit that lies behind man’s ‘active nature’.17 Thus far mankind does not differ from other animals that are similarly embedded in this active system of nature; or as he puts it in the Institutes, all creatures are ‘active from original choice, and propensity’.18 However, it is crucial to Ferguson’s understanding of humanity’s place in the system of nature that they alone possess higher intelligence and as a result are ‘more active than any other nature’.19 This intelligence manifests itself in the fact that Man is a ‘Being destined to act from observation and experience’.20 His distinction between man and other animals goes further. In the Essay he argues that man is possessed of a ‘principle of progression’21 which distinguishes his actions from the more instinctual acts of other animals. The means of acquiring knowledge from observation and experience and the power that it brings is a product of the application of mind to ‘active exertions’.22 Strength of mind, like strength of body, is ‘the result of exercise’.23 Active participation in the world improves the mental capacity of humans and lends them successive powers to attain the objects of their ambitions. Learning and civilization arise from ‘the bustle of an active life’24 and not from ‘the repose of a pacific situation’.25 Like Reid, Ferguson believed that it was the characteristic of an intelligent being to be the ‘artificer of his own condition’.26 In the Principles man is ‘by nature an artist’27 who is ‘destined to be the artificer of his own fortune’.28 As a result of his possession of rationality and his ability to shape the world around him, man becomes a moral agent who can be judged as having responsibility for his actions. Ferguson then identifies the principle that drives or directs man’s action and progress as ambition, understood as ‘the desire of something better than is possessed at present’.29 This desire for improvement is ‘never disposed to acquiesce in its present attainment’30 and leads man constantly to direct his attention towards realizing ‘hope to hope’.31 Action prompted by ambition shapes the course of man’s intelligently directed behaviour. The progress of the individual and species is driven by this ambitious activity aimed at the satisfaction of our ‘continual’32 and ‘insatiable’33 desire for further improvement. In Ferguson’s view men ‘are destined to improve on their lot’,34 as a result of their ‘active and progressive natures’.35 At this point in the Principles Ferguson begins to insert a set of normative assumptions into what has thus far been a descriptive anatomy of the distinction between humans and animals.36 The naturalistic observation of the principle of action in human behaviour is about to be extended into a series of assertions about the moral desirability of particular forms of action.

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Action and Virtue Having described how action, prompted by ambition, is the root of social and intellectual experience, we can now reconstruct how Ferguson extends this analysis of the centrality of action into a prescriptive moral theory that can be traced across the body of his work. The first step in this process is a return to the observation that action is a principle of human nature. Ferguson glosses this to observe that ‘Mind is an active power and mere action is agreeable or what is called amusing’.37 In the Essay Ferguson describes human happiness as an active principle, depending on ‘an active, and strenuous mind’.38 He returns, in the Principles, to this same idea when he notes that, in order to be happy, humans must: ‘be employed, or have something to do’.39 If ambition provides the prompt to action, then this ambition is compounded in our active nature by the enjoyment of the task at hand. A clear consequence of this in all of Ferguson’s work is that ‘Happiness is not that state of repose’.40 If man is an ‘active and aspiring being’41 then inactivity would be a form of torture, a condition of ‘weariness, suffering, and disgust’,42 as it runs against the grain of our nature. If, however, many of our actions are directed towards ‘a point of repose to which we aspire’43 in the understanding that it represents a happy condition, then we are woefully misguided: ‘It is a wretched opinion, that happiness consists in a freedom from trouble, or in having nothing to do’.44 Happiness is not the product of leisure, nor is it the enjoyment of the ‘mere animal pleasures’45 that are the principal object of our ambition. Rather it is realized in ‘the exertion and application’46 of our faculties. What Ferguson is suggesting here is that our active nature and the prompt of ambition come together to deceive us into constant pursuit of an unattainable idea of repose. Moreover this repose is not true happiness any more than it represents an end to ambition. In the Essay Ferguson observes: ‘The attainment of one end is but the beginning of a new pursuit’.47 Human ambition is insatiable, it cannot be satiated by the security of any level of wealth or achievement as each new acquisition ceases to be an object of pleasure and is taken as ‘a necessary’.48 As does Adam Smith, Ferguson attributes this deception to the wisdom of Nature,49 explaining ‘But nature has wisely, in most particulars, baffled our project; and placed no where within our reach this visionary blessing of absolute ease’.50 Happiness is attained from the exercise of active pursuit, not from the satisfaction of securing the goal, and as such it is not a static outcome but a dynamic process. Moreover, if action itself is the true source of happiness, then the greater the degree of vigour or ‘ardour’51 involved in the activity, the greater the happiness inspired. In other words, far from being happy in pacific situations of repose, we are exhilarated by ‘calls to danger and hardship’52 as they prompt us to exert ourselves and find enjoyment. In the Essay, one example Ferguson offers of

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this is hunting.53 The thrill of the chase is a greater source of happiness than the kill. Indeed the chase can be enjoyed without a kill. Humans, with greater intelligence than other animals, are disposed against inactivity and when they have secured their subsistence they require to be ‘otherwise occupied’.54 Indeed they are so far from valuing peaceful repose that they frequently fill up their leisure time with ‘hazardous sports and diversions’.55 From here we can reconstruct how Ferguson’s argument moves decidedly from the descriptive and sociological to the evaluative and prescriptive as he seeks to distinguish types of activity that produce greater degrees of happiness.56 Humans naturally seek active diversion in times of ease and this leads to the creation of ‘pastimes’.57 However, a pastime is just that, it is a form of activity undertaken to divert us from the languor induced by repose. For Ferguson pastimes represent a ‘disease’58 and are worthless compared to ‘business’59 or ‘real affairs’.60 In the Principles Ferguson understands ‘business’ to refer to that type of activity that is ‘prescribed by some consideration of interest or duty … [and] distinguished by the importance of the object’.61 The trivial nature of pastimes lends them the whiff of ‘dissipation’,62 a condition that displays a ‘weakness of the mind which loaths its best occupations, as the sickly stomach is found to loath the most wholesome food’.63 Pastimes reconcile men to a less vigorous manner of living. In the Essay Ferguson compounds this observation by noting that these sorts of amusements can, like drunkenness, also reconcile men to inaction. As he puts it: ‘the gaming-table, dogs, horses, and wine, are employed to fill up the blank of a listless and unprofitable life’.64 They are taken up as a distraction to deflect our distress at failing to engage in serious ‘business’. The result of this observation is that serious ‘business’ is to be preferred to ‘mere amusement or pastime’.65 As he notes in the Institutes: ‘Men are best amused with exercises that engage them most, that awaken their affections, and occupy their talents. For this reason, the more serious and urgent occupations are to be preferred to the more slight, and apparently pleasant.’66 Indeed, in the Principles, those who avoid business ‘reject what is fitted to employ them agreeably’.67 Thus Ferguson has extended his observation about the active principles inherent in human nature to observe that active beings find happiness in the exercise of their talents. He then develops this understanding of the human condition to observe that scenes of activity that engage the attention and try the faculties in serious business are likely to be a greater source of happiness for mankind than the distractions of pastimes. In Ferguson’s view: The human mind is not amused without an object, and the nearer that its object, in the interest it creates or the ardour it excites, approaches to what are termed the important affairs of life, the more effectual the amusement or pleasure it brings. The dissipated, accordingly, while they fly from business as an application of too serious a nature, find some other interest or passion to command their attention.68

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It has become apparent that Ferguson, despite his own strictures against mixing naturalism and moral judgement, is operating with a particular, normatively loaded understanding of human activity. Human nature is active, human happiness depends on activity and receives its fullest realization in the conduct of ‘business’. What Ferguson understands as the ‘business of real life’69 becomes clear through his consideration of the role of the citizen. ‘Business’, he writes in the Institutes, ‘is supposed to terminate in some serious purpose’.70 In the Principles, it lies in the ‘offices of private friendship, or of public station’ beyond the ‘necessities’ of our own condition.71 Ferguson appears to exclude commercial activity from his definition of ‘business’. This exclusion seems to rest on the assumption that if an unambiguous standard of moral conduct is to invoke the notion of ‘serious business’, then such ‘business’ must involve the ‘free’ exercise of choice rather than a reaction to physical necessity. In other words, the classical idea of the independent citizen is being subtly invoked as a necessary condition for the type of serious ‘business’ that represents the most effectual arena for human happiness and virtue. Ferguson, in opposition to the ‘modernism’ of Hume and Smith, is operating in a classical tradition of thought that seeks to distinguish between the human, ‘virtuous’ sphere of serious ‘business’ and the animal, ‘sensuous’ sphere of necessities and material enjoyment.72 Having made a practical judgement as to the superiority of serious ‘business’ as an arena for the exercise of man’s active nature, Ferguson then returns to the well-known Stoic theme of the identity of happiness and virtue. True happiness is to be found in the active exercise of virtue. As a result happiness and virtue are identical and both are the product of the proper exercise of our active natures. A consequence of this is that virtue itself is an ‘active’73 principle in nature, and, moreover, that it is most effectually attained when men are vigorously engaged in serious ‘business’. As Ferguson notes in the Essay: ‘The virtues of men have shone most during their struggles, not after the attainment of their ends’.74 If we attach this to the previous argument about the deficiency of pastimes we see a typically Stoic argument that activity and the true happiness it brings are to be found in the exercise of virtue. Virtue is a product of ‘active exertions’75 and, as a result of our possession of the active power of intelligence, we are capable of the choice to pursue genuine virtue in the serious ‘business’ of life. One result of this for Ferguson, as for Reid, is that for us to be able to make a moral ‘discernment’76 about another person, that individual’s character must first take on an external manifestation. Or, as he puts it in the Principles: The distinction of moral good and evil cannot be ascertained in the description of mere external action; nor can the merit or demerit of a man be known until he has acted. Insomuch, that, although in abstraction we may take asunder, and state apart,

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External action is a necessary condition for us to be able to judge the internal motivation that is the true hallmark of virtue. As Ferguson would have it: ‘The worth of a man is made known by its external effects; and though external effect is subordinate in value to the affection of mind, yet neither this nor any other connection in the minds of men could exist otherwise, than by means of the external effects and appearances which cause them to be mutually known’.78 Thus when we moralize we assess the ‘moral action’79 which includes both the intent behind and the consequences of the physical action. In other words, humans must act in order for us to be able to pass judgement upon their character. While both the intention behind and the consequences of an action can be applied as standards of judgement, the act itself is necessary for us to be able to draw any kind of lesson. However, given the reality of the unintended consequences of purposive action, the connection between intention and outcome becomes obscured in many cases and leaves moral judgement and attribution of responsibility focused on the intention that guides the action. Ferguson judges that the virtuous man is possessed of a ‘disposition to act well’80 and to pursue active virtue with ‘zeal’ and ‘vigour’.81 The degree of vigour thus acts as an indicator of the virtuousness of the individual as he goes about ‘business’. In the Essay, Ferguson returns again and again to the idea that vigorous activity in serious ‘business’ is the hallmark of moral worth. For example: ‘Men are to be estimated, not from what they know, but from what they are able to perform; from their skill in adapting materials to the several purposes of life; from their vigour and conduct in pursuing the objects of policy, and in finding the expedients of war and national defence’.82 Active life is not simply a description drawn from the natural history of man, it is also a moral principle that can be used to judge the value of actors and the vice or virtue of their actions. Given all of this Ferguson has developed an understanding of human nature and activity that includes a normative assertion about the value of vigorous activity in ‘business’ which he uses to make moral judgements about the virtuousness of individuals. In The History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic we have a clear example of Ferguson applying action as a criterion of moral judgement.83 Ferguson peppers this history with character sketches and these sketches reveal his assessment of each individual’s character and his relative success. Two sketches are particularly revealing for our purposes. Ferguson’s praise for Cato notes his virtuous motives and lack of success, while his sketch of Caesar attacks his weakness of character but admits his success in securing his designs.84 Employing the twin criteria of success and virtue, Ferguson’s account of ‘moral action’ leads him

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to acknowledge that the ‘virtuous’ Cato was (admirably) mistaken in fighting for a republican system that was already doomed by the time he took to the stage. As Ferguson explains: The change therefore from republic to monarchy, it may be alleged, was seasonable; and Cato, with Cicero, Brutus, and all the other partisans of the commonwealth actuated by a mistaken, though commendable zeal for liberty, would have supported their fellow-citizens in their pretensions to government after they were unworthy of it; in this attempt they fell a necessary sacrifice to their own error; and in their ruin made way for an establishment better fitted to the condition of the age, and to the character of the people, than that for which they contended and bled.85

In the Principles he even approaches de Retz’s aristocratic valorization of noble failure. For example, he goes so far as to argue that: ‘The mere attempts of a virtuous man to serve his friend, or his country, is an object of moral esteem; not only where he may have failed in his purpose, but even where the event may have been calamitous to himself, or to others’.86 What we see here in an extreme form is the separation of the two standards used to judge the character of individuals (the virtue of their intentions and the success of their actions), with virtue clearly given preference over success in the moralist’s assessment of individual character.

Action and National Character However, Ferguson is not yet ready to give up on the criterion of success as an aspect of moralizing. If, as is clearly the case, man’s power to shape the world is limited by the natural and social circumstances in which he finds himself, then the task of including outcomes in moralizing becomes decidedly more difficult. Ferguson was keenly aware that the active system of nature is, in reality, a constant process of interaction. As he describes it in the Principles, ‘All nature is connected; and the world itself consists of parts, which, like the stones of an arch, mutually support and are supported. This order of things consists of movements, which, in a state of counteraction and apparent disturbance, mutually regulate and balance one another’.87 The observation that institutions are the product of ‘human action’ but not the result of ‘human design’88 indicates that Ferguson was well aware of the role of unintended consequences in the process of social change. Armed with his evolutionary understanding of social change, he tends to deprecate theories that place excessive focus on ‘great legislators’89 as explanations for the emergence of social phenomena. Given his theoretical outlook, Ferguson’s criteria of virtue and success, as applied to individuals, cannot be applied to make judgements about wide-scale and long-term social change in so far as these changes are produced by social interaction. In other words, because these outcomes are the

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product of the unintended consequences of social interaction and not the direct result of deliberate action by any one individual, the criterion of vigorous activity in serious ‘business’ cannot be applied in any meaningful sense. If judgement is to be made and a ‘moral’ to be drawn from the ‘Progress and Termination’ of the Roman Republic, then it must be of the people as a whole and their manners and institutions. Cato acted from virtuous motives but was unsuccessful; Caesar lacked virtue, but was successful. Yet neither of these character sketches can explain the fall of the Republic in a satisfactory manner. If this is the case, then Ferguson cannot draw larger moral lessons from their behaviour because he cannot attribute the fall of the Republic to events that were within the active power of specific individuals. Instead, if there is to be a moral lesson drawn from the fall of the Republic it must be provided on a societal level. As he concludes in the Essay: ‘this state fell not into obscurity for want of eminent men’ but because ‘the people was corrupted’.90 As a result it is not the active virtue of de Retz’s great individuals that is of significance here, but the spirit of activity among the people as a whole. Ferguson’s concern becomes how to move moral judgement beyond the acknowledged reality that in most cases social complexity and unintended consequences preclude simple causal attributions of outcomes to the purposive actions of specific individuals.91 This leads Ferguson to understand the situation of a nation at any given point in its history as a form of balance arising from social interaction. The ‘vigour’92 of a state is related to Ferguson’s theme of liberty secured by balance, competition and an active citizenry and, in turn, this idea of vigour is advanced in the twin languages of healthy individual and national character. As he would have it: ‘The reason and the heart of men are best cultivated in the exercise of social duties, and in the conduct of public affairs’.93 Liberty can be preserved only amongst an active citizen body with the ‘resolute spirit’94 to defend it from internal and external threats. Like the order of nature, social order is a product of a constant balancing of interaction, ‘counteraction and apparent disturbance’. Ferguson’s analysis of the ‘scenery of an active life’95 leads him to conclude that it is the active participation of citizens in serious ‘business’ that is the mark of a flourishing society. If mankind is active by nature and ‘destined’96 to exist in social groups, then groups of individuals must be understood as ‘an active society’.97 This leads Ferguson to develop his idea of a ‘National Spirit’.98 An active people possess a vigorous spirit that indicates a healthy society. We see the judgements of the character of individuals in the Roman Republic extended to a judgement of the character or spirit of nations. By utilizing the concept of the national spirit, Ferguson extends the idea of individual spirit or character (as a locus of moral responsibility) to the collective behaviour and manners of a people.

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In one sense, such an extension obviously means that the spirit of the nation is composed of the spirit of the individuals who form the people, but Ferguson also believes that generalizations can be made on a more holistic level about shared behaviour patterns and customs. This is a direct result of his observation that humans are social creatures whose behaviour is deeply influenced by socialization within a particular group. Parallel to Hume’s argument in ‘Of National Characters’, Ferguson’s conception of national spirit is a generalization covering the manners of a whole people, but it is not the crude national stereotyping that Hume rejects at the start of his essay.99 Ferguson wants to make generalizations about the character or spirit of a people at a certain point in their history. Thus progressive nations possess an active spirit, declining nations a relaxation of spirit. For example, in the Essay the conflict between Rome and Carthage is to be understood as ‘the natural exercise of an ambitious spirit’100 that marked both nations at that point in their history. When Ferguson uses phrases such as ‘national vigour’101 or ‘the active genius of mankind’102 he is laying out a linkage between an ‘active’ individual character and a generalization about societies composed of such characters and the manners that prevail in them. The corruption of Rome was a result of the demise of the ‘prevalence’,103 among the body of the people, of active citizenship and so it is the body of the people who are to ‘blame’ for the fall of the Republic. Ferguson has attempted to develop a theory for the moral judgement of both individual and national character that is grounded in the centrality of the active pursuit of serious ‘business’. As we saw above in the discussion on pastimes, repose is a deceptive ideal and this is especially the case when it leads to political quietism. As Ferguson notes in the Essay: We have reason to dread the political refinements of ordinary men, when we consider, that repose, or inaction itself, is in a great measure their object; and that they would frequently model their governments, not merely to prevent injustice and error, but to prevent agitation and bustle; and by the barriers they raise against the evil actions of men, would prevent them from acting at all.104

For Ferguson there is a very real danger that ‘the boasted refinements of civil society, will be mere devices to lay the political spirit at rest, and will chain up the active virtues more than the restless disorders of men’.105 A result of ‘a remission of the national spirit, and a weakness of character’106 among the nation as a whole, national decline occurs as the activity necessary for a healthy society gives way to dissipation and national spirit is sapped. Thus we can reconstruct how Ferguson extends his criteria of successful and virtuous action into the judgement of social interactions. The national character or spirit is the ‘active power’ responsible for the virtue and success of the nation and national decline is the result of ‘Relaxations in the National Spirit’107 or a corrup-

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tion of national character. The distinction being drawn here between relaxation and corruption appears to be between an ‘internal decay’108 produced by ‘voluntary neglects’109 and a corruption of manners. Ferguson adopts this vocabulary in the Essay, where he argues that ‘the measure of a national spirit’ is to be found in the ‘ardour and vigour’ with which a people pursue serious ‘business’.110 This ardour is subject to natural ‘paroxysms’ and ‘intermissions’111 that correspond to periods of national progress and stagnation. National spirit can ‘relax’ when there is a dearth of national objects that warrant serious activity – most notably in prolonged periods where there is an absence of external threat. The theme of corruption is illustrated in Ferguson’s treatment of the concept of luxury. He begins his discussion by noting that it is an ambivalent concept, made more so by the fact that discussions of luxury are always relative to the state of material advance attained by a society: one man’s luxury is another’s necessity. However, Ferguson believes that luxury goods themselves tend to promote neither virtue nor vice. Luxury goods are merely one object of our natural, and insatiable, ambition. The incidence of corruption relates to the ‘character’ of individuals, and by extension to the opinions and manners of a people, not to the physical ‘equipage’.112 Corruption occurs when human activity is directed towards ‘effeminate vanity’113 rather than serious ‘business’. Ferguson defines a corrupt society as one in which the objects of esteem and emulation are not virtuous acts in serious ‘business’, but the frivolous rewards of riches and ‘courtfavour’.114 What emerges from the discussion of luxury in the Essay is an argument that parallels that noted previously about pastimes. The pursuit of luxury goods can become the primary focus of individual attention, and the enjoyment of luxury goods can breed ‘intemperance or sloth’, only when there is a ‘remission of other pursuits’ among the population at large.115 In other words, a relaxation of national spirit opens the door for a corruption of manners. Ferguson is then free to argue that the vices traditionally associated with luxuries (sloth, decadence, avarice) are not necessary features of wealth.116 Instead they are the effect of an absence of calls to action in other serious spheres of human ‘business’, of ‘an intermission of national and political efforts’.117 While trade is not itself morally admirable, on account of its connection to physical necessities and sensuous frivolities, neither is it morally objectionable. The origin of corruption is not a direct product of commercial society, but is rather an incidental effect of inattention to serious ‘business’. Corruption and remission of national spirit are the dangers of peace whatever the level of material development. When it comes to Ferguson’s concerns about his own society the argument returns to the dangers of ‘the repose of a pacific station’118 as a temptation to inaction because in a commercial society ‘we may find him become effeminate, mercenary, and sensual: not because pleasures and profits are become more alluring, but because he has

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fewer calls to attend to other objects’.119 For Ferguson politics becomes the primary arena of virtue because it deals with the exercise of choice in the serious ‘business’ of life. Inaction in the serious ‘business’ of the public realm is the mark of a corrupt national character or of a diminished national spirit. What is sought is a balance between ‘the disinterested love of the public’ and the ‘desires of preferment and profit’.120 Ferguson’s disquisition on the need for active political participation by the people is part of his attempt to preserve this balance and to maintain the activity necessary to sustain individual and national spirit. Indeed his preoccupation with establishing militias is as much an attempt to ensure action in the public realm as it is a genuine tactic of military preparedness.121 Ferguson combines his argument about the corruption of national character with the recognition that national progress is cyclical in nature. He draws on the observation of history to assert that the ‘vigour of a nation’122 is subject to ‘paroxysms’.123 Nations rise to prominence and decline into obscurity once the active spirit that drove their advance settles into complacency. Throughout his Roman Republic there is a sense that the very forces and national vigour that drove the expansion of Roman power throughout the ancient world would eventually give way to relaxation, effeminate complacency and civil dissension when peace was secured by absolute dominion.124 He observes that, in answer to the threat of Caesar, the people of Rome were ‘incapable of the exertions which such an occasion required’.125 The source of this incapacity was to be seen in the character of the forces arraigned under Pompey’s command: ‘Nursed in luxury, and averse to business, petulant in safety, useless in danger, impatient to be at their villas in the country, and their amusements in the town’.126 The fall of the Republic saw the beginning of the long cycle of Roman decline. This decline was the result of an absence of external threats and a corruption of individual manners that led to a dissipation of national spirit. Ferguson draws a clear lesson from the facts of the Roman Republic as he related them. The military and political virtues, which had been exerted in forming this empire, having finished their course, a general relaxation ensued, under which, the very forms that were necessary for its preservation were in process of time neglected. As the spirit which gave rise to those forms was gradually spent, human nature fell into a retrograde motion, which the virtues of individuals could not suspend; and men, in the application of their faculties even to the most ordinary purposes of life, suffered a slow and insensible, but almost continual decline.127

Ferguson recognized that no one individual could be held morally responsible for the fall of the Republic, just as no one individual could save the Republic. But this did not prevent him from attributing the fall to the character of the whole people through a ‘fatal dissolution of manners’.128 Ferguson believed that

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his analysis of the function of action in human nature and society had allowed him to make didactic moral judgements, not only about individual characters, but also about the national characters best fitted to preserve virtue. Success and virtue are the criteria of character judgement on an individual level, and so too are they the criteria of judgement on a national level through assessments of interaction, participation and ‘spirit’. In both cases the lesson is that active virtue should not be surrendered to complacent success. In many respects Ferguson stands at a crossroad in intellectual history. The classical tradition that held virtue as an ideal actively pursued – a standard by which we might judge men and their actions – was giving way to a world in which awareness of social complexity prevented the sort of simple moralizing that linked virtuous individuals with virtuous outcomes. It was not necessary to accept all of Mandeville’s conclusions in order to accept the truth of the observation that old-fashioned moralizing failed to provide a satisfactory account of the reality of unintended consequences. In attempting to deal with this challenge, and to preserve the possibility of drawing moral lessons from the history of individuals and nations, Ferguson’s sociological interests led him to become an early player in the development of modern historicism. His attempt to draw wider lessons from history through the idea of national character or spirit would later be developed and systematized in G. W. F. Hegel’s work. In Ferguson’s case it represents an attempt to use the concept of action as a unifying feature of human life that could preserve the traditional didactic role of the moralist in the face of the complexity of social interaction.

Acknowledgements The author wishes to thank the editors and anonymous referees for their invaluable comments, attention to which greatly improved the paper, and the British Academy for their generous funding under the Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme.

11 PROVIDENCE AND PROGRESS: THE RELIGIOUS DIMENSION IN FERGUSON’S DISCUSSION OF CIVIL SOCIETY Jeng-Guo S. Chen

Scholars who have examined the political and social thought of Adam Ferguson often conclude that he is a secular thinker.1 They discern no theological dimension to his theories of society and progress, despite Ferguson’s religious upbringing and education. In his notable study, David Kettler overstates the case, arguing that ‘Ferguson’s thought was fundamentally secular – and certainly not Christian’.2 It is true that Ferguson’s theology is not classically Christian: He hardly touches on issues of original sin, revelation or redemption. In discussions concerning providence and immortality, he refers not so much to the Church Fathers as to Stoic writers, including Aurelius, Epictetus and Cato, among others.3 His theology is unequivocally derived from the book of nature, not the book of words. Ferguson insisted on reinstating the connection between morality and religion, unlike Bernard Mandeville or David Hume, whose moral philosophies severed the connection between the two. Within Ferguson’s reasoned theories of society, one glimpses his lifelong attempt to combine a conception of progress with that of divine providence. In fact, his providentialism tends to be of a rational and systematic sort in that it does not require divine intervention but designed order, regularity and an overall structuring of cause and effect to beneficial ends. Within such a providential order, Ferguson argued that humans were to conduct themselves according to moral laws that were unmistakably prescribed by God. ‘In chusing what is morally good, it is happy to know that we obey our Creator; and in obeying our Creator, it is happy to know, that what he commands is the specific good, and felicity of our nature’.4 God is providential in that it is God’s power and design that sustain the universe and guide human destiny. Ferguson’s ideas of civil society and morality rest upon his understanding of the human being as a uniquely important creation. The present paper argues that one cannot fully appreciate Ferguson’s critique of civil society unless one comprehends the religious aspect of his thought, – 171 –

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specifically that of providence. In delineating Ferguson’s appeal to providence, two related themes are developed. By placing An Essay on the History of Civil Society into context with his other works – as well as those of his predecessors and contemporaries, in particular his mentor at Edinburgh University, William Cleghorn – a reading is proposed that is separate and distinct from that set forth by historians who interpret Ferguson as an advocate of civic humanist virtue. Ferguson’s concern with morality is related more closely to the idea of ‘history’ than to ‘civil society’. The divine gifts of instinct, and other primordial qualities, are the real causes of national and social progress and these may be preserved within different forms of society. Second, Ferguson’s idea of progress is illustrated by identifying how he conceptualizes history as two-tiered: national history is subject to changes of fortune, but the progress of universal history is preserved by the creator. The rise and decline of national or political history are understood best within the context of universal history.

Ferguson and Scottish Religious Moderation Along with some of his fellow ministers, Ferguson celebrated the emergence of civil society in Scotland, but he did not succumb completely to secularization. Out of his commitment to religious moderation, one of several distinct intellectual currents of the Scottish Enlightenment, Ferguson sought to provide a religious edge to the apparently secular notion of civil society. Reared within a Calvinist family, Ferguson ‘remained prone to an intense earnestness of the sort which Calvinism has so often imparted in Scotland’.5 The mark of Calvinism faded considerably, however, as Ferguson interacted, intellectually and socially, with Edinburgh’s Presbyterian moderates, including William Robertson, Hugh Blair, Alexander Carlyle and John Home. Having resigned from his ministerial service in 1754 and taken up permanent residence in Edinburgh in 1756, Ferguson quickly found himself advocating for a militia in Scotland and for the theatrical arts, as demonstrated, respectively, in his Reflections Previous to the Establishment of a Militia (1756) and The Morality of Stage Plays Seriously Considered (1757). The moderates differed from other groups of Presbyterians in significant institutional and theological ways. For example, moderates laid great store in the higher education of ministers and preachers and distrusted the method of preaching that Methodists and other radical religious sects deployed to encourage spontaneous expressions of feeling. Sympathetic towards material progress, the moderates disdained religious fanaticism.6 It is small wonder that the moderates in Edinburgh were among the few clergymen who cultivated a friendship with the notorious sceptic David Hume, whose writings, as early as 1748, cast doubt on the possibility of miracles and on any purported providence.7 In his History

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of England, Hume ridiculed Oliver Cromwell as a man of political and religious fanaticism,8 and in various essays – including ‘Of Superstition and Enthusiasm’, ‘The Sceptic’, ‘Of Suicide’ and, above all, in ‘Of the Immortality of the Soul’ – he relentlessly criticized superstitious belief. Most moderates, in fact, sympathized with an empiricist approach to understanding the world, one that Hume aptly expressed in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion: ‘the larger experience we acquire, and the stronger reason we are endowed with, we always render our principles the more general and comprehensive’.9 Accordingly, the moderates maintained an understanding of religion more sophisticated than that which some Christians had sometimes sought to impose upon the uneducated heathen. As Thomas Ahnert has argued, in comparison with the Evangelicals and other popular sects, the moderates tended to refrain from embracing orthodox Christian doctrine, including such tenets as that of immortality and revelation.10 The moderates’ intellectual kinship with Hume brought them to stand for him at his excommunication trial by the Presbyterian Church in 1756, and Ferguson was among those defending him.11 According to Ernest Mossner, the Evangelical divines who tended to execrate Hume were thinkers who ‘sought to derive natural philosophy from Scripture alone’.12 Apparently, Ferguson held a more secular and unorthodox view of human history than the Evangelicals. For example, in his Essay, he considered the evidential value of the Bible to be no stronger than that of fables of other nations, and he curiously described the descendants of Adam and Eve as ‘their race’, indicating a distance of identity.13 He asserted, instead, that ‘from the Greek and Roman historians … we have not only the most authentic and instructive, but even the most engaging, representations of the tribes from whom we descend’.14 In opposition to the sermon he preached at the battle of 1745, Ferguson unambiguously opted for a secular, rather than a sacred, history.15 Having abandoned his oath as a minister, Ferguson appears to have undergone a secular turn, but is that the whole story? In fact, the gulf between Ferguson’s religious outlook and that of Hume is greater than that between Ferguson and the Evangelicals. Believing in God as the creator, Ferguson rejected sceptical empiricist doubts about the immortality of the soul. As late as 1780, he considered the immortality of the soul a seminal issue for his students. In his lecture notes for his class on moral philosophy, he wrote, ‘In treating of mind it was common in the Schools to enumerate the Faculties of the human Mind & to discuss the Celebrated Questions relating to the Immateriality & Immortality of the Human Soul’.16 His notes state that he treated other topics of religious, if not Christian, belief, including how one ought to ‘Ascend to God to state the Evidence of his Existence & enumerate his attributes’.17 In his Principles of Moral and Political Science, published in 1792, Ferguson recapitulates the issue of the immortality of the soul, as well as that of

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providence.18 He states emphatically that the knowledge of morality cannot be separated from a theistic view of the world. For Ferguson, to criticize religious superstition and to hold a positive attitude towards the material world was one thing, to deny the connection of religion and morality was another. Under this apprehension, there is reason to hope that the principles of morality should be strictly connected with those of religion … Superstition is the fear of harm and disorder from invisible powers. … The knowledge of nature, to which mankind aspire, may, in its progress, improve their conception of God, and at once reform their belief, and its application to practice.19

Into the last decade of the eighteenth century, Ferguson continued, in a less public way, to elaborate on the idea of providence and related issues, as evidenced in his manuscripts and essays. Despite his later congratulations to Ferguson for the success of the Essay, Hume urged Blair and Robertson to prevent its publication, remarking that the style, reasoning, form and content of the manuscript would not find a welcome audience.20 The immediate popularity of the Essay proved, however, that Hume was, at least on this subject, out of touch with the public. Although it does not profit to guess which particular aspects or features of Ferguson’s treatise proved worrisome to Hume, it is certainly worth pointing out that the Essay contains discussions not only of the refinement of arts and taste but of providential design and the proper understanding of self-interest; these last two, in particular, Hume would have found difficult to digest. One might well conclude that in comparison with other moderates, such as Robertson or Blair, Ferguson is the most powerful voice within that camp to renounce Hume’s scepticism and to defend the idea of a providential ordering of civil society.

Civil Society and Providence Civil society is distinctly human because it is created by human effort, which itself is made possible by human faculties, including rationality, that are endowed by God. Accordingly, from its very conception, civil society conveys a providential meaning. For Ferguson, this understanding links an eighteenth-century idea of progress (discussed below) with traditional Christian humanism. Since the Renaissance, many Christian humanists, such as Pico della Mirandola and Marsilio Ficino, had argued eloquently that humans occupy a special place in the universe and, consequently, bear a duty corresponding to their blessed position.21 The relationship and distinction between humans and animals, and their respective places in nature, were oft-debated issues in eighteenth-century Scotland. Francis Hutcheson, for one, believed that God created humans to govern the world, in benign fashion, placing other animals within their power. Animals

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were a providential provision from God proportioned to human necessities for food and labour.22 To Ferguson, the emergence of civil society manifests that humans have been granted a blessed position. In the Essay, he explains that ‘In other classes of animals, the individual advances from infancy of age or maturity; and he attains, in the compass of a single life, to all the perfection his nature can reach: but in the human kind, the species has a progress as well as the individual’.23 The collective progress of human society is derived from the very fact that humans are endowed with mind (reason, soul or spirit),24 a special grace of God. Ferguson maintains, ‘Man, in the result of his animal nature, differs from the brutes only in the degree or manner of what he exhibits; but in that of his intellectual nature, he differs totally, and in kind’.25 Because of this human faculty of the mind, Ferguson confidently assumes, in a Neo-platonic vein, that this species ‘appears to be highly favoured & destined to move in a higher Sphere than any other Species’.26 The self-transformation of humans via the development of their minds gives further evidence of the providential destiny of Man: Not only are humans able to create their own histories, but they can reflect on these histories, thereby arriving at an appreciation of providence. Very early in his Essay, Ferguson proclaims that ‘We forget that physical powers, employed in succession, and combined to a salutary purpose, constitute those very proofs of design from which we infer the existence of God; and that this truth being once admitted, we are no longer to search for the source of existence; we can only collect the laws which the author of nature has established; and in our latest as well as our earliest discoveries, only come to perceive a mode of creation or providence before unknown’.27 The great advantage of the emergence of civil society is that people become ‘more active and curious’ as they are more ‘knowing and … polished’.28 However salutary the creation of civil society, it is, nevertheless, but a transition in historical progress. Civil society is not the final object of history or human enjoyment. Ferguson repeatedly reminds readers that the true and vital value of civilization is the progress of the mind, on which human happiness must rest. ‘To know himself, and his place in the system of nature, is the specific lot and prerogative of man.’29 Likewise, the true goal of civilization is to assure and safeguard intellectual progress until the human mind understands or approximates the mind of God. As argued above, Ferguson attests that, ‘The knowledge of nature, to which mankind aspire, may, in its progress, improve their conception of God, and at once reform their belief, and its application to practice’.30 A concept of providence figures unequivocally, if inconspicuously, in the Essay. There Ferguson mentions the word ‘providence’ only four times,31 and otherwise refers to this idea on but a handful of occasions (typically in reference to the wisdom or plan of God).32 What exactly is providential order and what is its role in human history? This remains a problem for Ferguson. Throughout

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his life, he pondered and addressed insistently, if intermittently, the issue. As early as 12 November 1777, a year after Hume died, Ferguson told students in his classes on moral philosophy that they would consider, ‘The existence of God His attributes His Providence & Government in the present and future States’. ‘In these’, he continued, ‘will consist the first great division of our course relating to the fact as it stands in human nature & respects to Providence of God’.33 In another lecture, Ferguson exclaimed, ‘In stating the Fact with respect to Mankind & the Providence of God. The Subject is necessarily divided into two Principal Branches. The Knowledge of God & the Knowledge of Man. The Knowledge of man as being most attainable comes first in order.’34 In these lectures, Ferguson did not provide substantial arguments for providence or for the existence of God. It is understandable that after the publication of some of Hume’s writings (including his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748)) it became harder, not easier, for the moderates to reaffirm the idea of providence.35 In fact, however, Humean scepticism did not really hinder the moderates from utilizing notions of providence to explain human affairs. As late as the 1800s, Ferguson still frequently drew on the knowledge of God or God’s providential works. According to David Fate Norton, both George Turnbull in A Philosophical Enquiry Concerning the Connexion between the Doctrines and Miracles of Jesus Christ and Henry Home, Lord Kames, in his Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion, argue for the certainty of human knowledge by deploying a version of ‘Providential Naturalism’. According to this doctrine, everything created by God or providence had been ordered fit for humans to understand. The human mind or common sense, as Turnbull asserted, had the capacity to obtain knowledge and to pursue virtue successfully.36 In addition, Ferguson’s close associate William Robertson used the idea of providence to teach virtue and to explain civilization, not to mention the British colonization of India. For example, in Robertson’s sermon ‘The Situation of the World at the Time of Christ’s Appearance’ he claims that reason and careful observation could enable humans to ‘form probable conjectures with regard to the plan of God’s providence’.37 Likewise, Ferguson aspires to situate civil society within a religious framework that not only explains the causes and origin of human progress but bestows on civil society a transcendent meaning.

Providential Order, Universal Progress and the Influence of Cleghorn Ferguson’s late writings show a committed effort to theorize his lifelong belief in God, an endeavour undertaken with an eye to making religion more congenial to the modern mind. His understanding of providential order, as God’s benevolent design for his rational creatures, should not be confused with either miracles or divine intervention in human history.38 Ferguson regarded history – even the

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universal history of all individuals and nations – as a composed of ‘secondary causes’. Through careful investigation of these secondary causes, and their relations to each other, humanity could discover the moral laws intended by God, the first cause, for his rational creatures. Secondary causes are, then, the substances (including humans) that God, the primary cause, creates and conserves. Those substances are ‘causes’ because they contribute to or bring about effects – events, relations, actions and institutions. In so doing, secondary causes evidence God’s benevolence and reveal how nature is instrumental to human beings.39 In contrast to either an intuitive comprehension of the ‘first cause’ or some revelation of that being, the knowledge of secondary causes is hard-earned and progressive: the more the mind understands the system of secondary causes, and their relation to a first cause, the more society will advance and the mind will unfold. If the Almighty were to operate merely by Acts of Will without the intervention of Secondary means The Intelligent Creature would have no resources but that of Prayer to the Almighty for Interposition in Obtaining the end or purpose in View. The Secondary Cause is an Instrument in the hand of Man by which to effect his Purpose in many Instances and the Materials strewed on the Earth or hid in its bosom are Subjects of his Art …40

Ferguson contends that, because of the Creator’s benevolence in gracing humans with reason,41 and by means of due and proper exploration of the variation of things as secondary causes, ‘the Final Cause of the Systematick Variety of Things is discernible’.42 In fact, Ferguson suggests that providential order is manifest in two major social phenomena: the universal progress of history and the inequality of ranks within society. The idea of a universal progress owes much to William Cleghorn, the professor of moral philosophy at Edinburgh when Ferguson studied there in 1743. Cleghorn’s moral philosophy emphasizes the development of the mind and its ability to perceive the beauty of the universe as it progresses. Cleghorn rejects Hobbesian materialism and argues for the immortality of the soul.43 Cleghorn explains that ‘the mind cannot intuitively view the ideas of good and beauty, this only belongs to the Deity. However from this discursive faculty we may learn some imperfect hints and anticipations of that ultimate good comprehended by the intellect or the Deity, in which they are perfect.’44 In his social inquiry Ferguson seeks to provide a scientific edge to his mentor’s conclusions. The most significant feature of providential order is, to Ferguson, the constant progress of nature and the universe, including its human inhabitants. Cleghorn relies on both his Platonic and Newtonian influences to expound an ever-shifting and progressive picture of the universe as providentially ordered. There is more Room for Power Wisdom & Design in the progressive than in the Quiescent System. In the latter the same purpose is always separate, whereas in the former

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As late as 1780, Ferguson revisits Cleghorn’s contemplation of the progressive universe. On one page of the manuscript of Ferguson’s Lectures on Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy, a title ‘Providence’ is curiously present in red. In the corresponding lecture, which focuses on the succession of death and birth, Ferguson employs a language reminiscent of renaissance imagery, paying tribute to the providential order of the progressing world. We perceive in Nature the Vestiges of Intelligence & Power, always superior & often very different in Character from what we should intend or could accomplish … We neither should conceive nor can we accomplish the mode of preserving a Species of which every Individual is Perishing. But in Nature every Species is preserved by Succession, & the Death of one Generation is not less a part in the order of Nature than the Birth or Succession of Another. In this Manner all Nature is continually Perishing & continually reproduced.46

This is a rational contemplation of providence in the robe of the economy of nature. What would seem evil to individuals, such as death, could be benevolent to the whole species; providence seeks preservation not annihilation. National history, of which civil society is an embodiment, is an allegory of the universal history of human beings. Individuals or nations might suffer from corruption and decay, but history, composed of individuals and nations, progresses incessantly. The loss of some individuals and nations is balanced by the generation and success of others. Providence does not create only the form but also the seeds of constant progress. The human mind is endowed with an instinct for perfection, as well as reason and other cognitive faculties, so that nations can progress. Perishing is as individual as corruption is accidental, but human advancement can be collectively restored and reborn. The progress of individuals is limited and predestined by the creator. But thanks to the faculties of reason and foresight, the progress of human society is open-ended, if not inevitably endless. Ferguson says little about revelation or eschatology. Likewise, he never addresses the limit of the collective progress of human history, as if it was the will of God that lay beyond human comprehension.

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What the Fergusonian idea of progress emphasizes is its theoretical continuity. Thus, civil society is by no means the last stage in history, just as the “savage” state is but a transience. Every thing human indeed is subject to perish; and in the same race of men, knowledge gives way to ignorance. The light of science is no more in corners where it formerly shone: but this is rather the removal than the extinction of light. It passes from one race of men to another, and, when it seemed to be extinguished, is perhaps about to be restored with additional force.47

It is in the context of providential order, or progressive universal history, that Ferguson’s famous and notoriously puzzling idea of ‘spontaneous order’ can be understood. As argued above, progress is a feature of the providential order, in which national histories are parts. Thus, ‘Every step and every moment of multitude, even in what are termed enlightened ages, are made with equal blindness to the future; and nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design’.48 Yet it remains the case that human reason and action are essential to conserving whatever progress has been collectively gained. Indeed, in the Essay Ferguson also suggests that reason and conscious actions are necessary for national or political history. Although free constitutions of government seldom or never take their rise from the scheme of any single projector, yet are they often preserved by the vigilance, activity, and zeal of single men.49

In relation to providence, a citizen’s performance of duty becomes in actuality an instrumentality of God. As early as 1769, Ferguson professed, Religion is the sentiment of the mind relating to God. The transaction of religion is its tendency to influence men’s conduct. This tendency is of two kinds. The first is, to make men love wisdom and beneficence, as being the characteristics of the Supreme Being, whom they adore; and to make them love their situations, and their duties, as being appointed by providence.50

By reinstating God’s benevolence into the progress of society, Ferguson’s theory of natural religion becomes a recommendation for the ‘Age of Improvement’, as well as a call to acknowledge the importance of religion and to recognize one’s duties to God.51 Ferguson stated unequivocally that human beings were by nature sociable and that they had a duty towards others. Moreover, humans tended to self-correct their actions through reflection. Cleghorn had pronounced uncompromisingly that there was ‘no higher being in the universe than the intelligent mind’. Even though the perfect mind, i.e. God, would not make mistakes, the human mind

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could err. For example, the commission of ‘moral Evil’, Cleghorn suggested, must ‘proceed from a wrong Order of the Mind’ – ‘from the Imagination that the Beauty of the Will consists in the Prosecution of the inferior Order of Beauty’.52 Ferguson translated the metaphysical and aesthetic language of Cleghorn into moral precepts that invest in the human mind the primary role in making human history. Man may mistake the objects of his pursuit; he may misapply his industry, and misplace his improvements … He must look for it [i.e. the best state of his nature] in the best conceptions of his understanding, in the best moment of his heart; he must thence discover what is the perfection and the happiness of which he is capable.53

Providential Order and Inequality Ferguson’s intellectual efforts were aimed at buttressing his religious moderation with a philosophical grounding that would not contribute to the dissolution of social order, a tendency he perceived in both Mandevillean egoism and Humean scepticism. Ferguson argued forcefully for certain forms of social inequalities: thus, rank and distinction warrant full acknowledgement as manifestations of a providential ordering. Many Scots ‘materialist’ theorists of social disparity, following Pufendorf, disputed the contractarian view that human inequality was derived from a historically-determined and unequal distribution of property.54 Those Scots maintained that, within the four-stage theory, social distinction resulted from the fictions of property law instituted after agricultural society had been fully established. On the other hand, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s state of nature implied a peaceful and egalitarian society rooted in a presumption of the nobility of human nature. Against Rousseauean egalitarianism, Ferguson translated the Scots literati’s material economy into a moral economy guided by a providential imperative. Ferguson maintained that inequalities of property were a ‘natural’ development of the primordial and providential inequality of humans: ‘There is a Principle of Subordination in the difference of Natural Talents in the distribution of Property Power & Dependence’.55 Furthermore, ‘Unequal strength and capacity, unequal knowledge resolution and courage, create a subordination. The weak are dependent on the strong, the ignorant on the knowing, and the timorous on the brave.’56 Although human inequality had natural, primordial and providential origins – just as the strong, the wise and the brave ‘naturally’ led different lives, reflecting distinct social and economic status – such a genesis did not contradict the fact that people of different ranks had mutual needs and obligations. To Ferguson, social inequality had to be maintained to the extent that it was part of a dynamic harmony within society. It was not the charity of the rich,

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but the ‘industry and sobriety’ of the poor that contributed to the harmony of society.57 It has pleased Providence, for wise purposes, to place men in different stations, and to bestow upon them different degrees of wealth. Without this circumstance there could be no subordination, no government, no order, no industry. Every person does good, and promotes the happiness of society, by living agreeable to the rank in which Providence has placed him.58

Crucial for preserving civil society, government is constituted by structures of subordination and inequality. Many Scots theorists, including Lord Kames, Hume, Smith, John Millar and others, proposed that government originated from the emergence of property rights. Separate from this secular view, Ferguson’s notion of the origin of government has an unequivocally providential edge: ‘some mode of subordination is as necessary to men as society itself; and this, not only to attain the ends of government, but to comply with an order established by nature’.59 Civil society, in the last analysis, is not an outcome of human design, but a natural progress of subordination. In justifying social disparities by alluding to providence, Ferguson was no exception. Cleghorn had pointed out, in keeping with his view of the ‘Great Chain of Being’, that all animals, including ‘Man’, are capable of submitting themselves to that which is ‘contrived by a beneficent Being who gives every one a rank as their merit claim’.60 Likewise, in a sermon preached in support of a charity-school scheme, Robert Moss, an English minister, remarked that ‘if, by the disposition of providence, all men had been made as equal in fortune and condition, as they are in nature, it would have been an eternal dispute’. Moss concluded that the rich and the poor had to be ‘encouraged to act agreeably to the station in which God had placed them’.61 The idea of a providential ordering of social classes was not unconventional in the eighteenth century, but Ferguson redirects the conventional understanding towards a new way of thinking about progress. In both his Morality of Stage-Plays Seriously Considered and his Essay, Ferguson suggests that providentially-ordained progress is based on the division of labour. In the Principles, Ferguson claims that human wants are ‘evidence of the wisdom and goodness of Providence’ and ‘fitted to an active being’.62 Human wants buttress the mechanism of the division of labour and thus provide the basis for the gradual refinement of arts. Accordingly, just as natural history with its variation of plants and animals reveals the existence of the Deity, so does civil society – whose various professions and activities respond to insatiable wants – provide a historical embodiment of providential order and benevolence. In fact, Ferguson’s concern with, or rather worry about, the preservation of civil society seems to be assuaged by his belief in providence: After all, providential order

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ensures that a situation is ‘suited to this active and aspiring being’.63 Nonetheless, life in a polished society, as Ferguson repeatedly warns, may encourage citizens to ‘indolence and sloth’. Apparently, historical progress generates a paradox: as human beings become more civilized, so may they stray from the ostensible route of providential progress. That progress, in specific instances, may generate regress would appear to require explanation. Ferguson does not explain the possibility of human sloth, wrongdoing or even decay in terms of some primordial fall of human nature. Instead, he ascribes this civilizational paradox to another providential gift: free will. In order to comprehend Ferguson’s use of free will, one must first take account of his notion of progress and virtue.

Progress, Stadial Theory and Virtue Along with many of his continental and British contemporaries, Ferguson embraces an idea of progress that is eclectic, if not unique. Among the eighteenth-century partisans of progress, the French philosophes, particularly the Marquis de Condorcet, held a radical view of human progress that assumed infinite improvement, even perfectibility, in human reason and society.64 According to David Spadafora, many English clergymen, such as Joseph Priestley and Richard Price, propagated an idea of progress as human perfectibility that came close to its French counterpart. The English idea of progress was, however, not monolithic. Influential writers, such as John Brown, with his popular Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Time, and Edward Gibbon, with his even more acclaimed Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, both expressed fear of the degeneration or corruption of modern society. Although both affirmed a cyclical rise and fall occurring naturally throughout history, Brown hypothesized the possible rupture of the cycle.65 Compared to the English view, the Scots held a more material view of progress. Generally speaking, since the 1750s the Scots, including Adam Smith, Lord Kames (Henry Home), John Dalrymple and William Robertson, all maintained, in one way or another, that human history progresses with the transformation of production.66 In the Scottish context, Ferguson’s views are even more intriguingly idiosyncratic, for he does not subscribe to the material language of patterned social progress such as found in the four-stage theory or in a cyclical view of history. He divides history into three stages: the savage, the barbarian (or ‘rude’) and the civil or polished society. These stages correspond roughly to hunting, pastoral and commercial societies, or to the primitive, feudal and modern.67 From a materialist view of the four stages theory, Ferguson’s stadial theory was a corruption at best. He characterizes the early stages by the seemingly more human-oriented terms of ‘savage’, ‘barbarian’ and ‘rude’, enabling him to convey thereby how

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such virtues as valour, fortitude and courage were affiliated with the presumed characteristics of savages and barbarians. Such a conceptualization of virtue and society offers a contrast to his associations of luxury, effeminacy and (possible) corruption with ‘polished’ societies.68 Many early modern theorists of classical republicanism, for instance Niccolò Machiavelli and Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke, shared the view that a society which had lost its virtue would sink back into its original barbarism.69 Ferguson’s sentiments towards both republican and civic virtue have attracted great attention, with much debate ensuing among modern historians.70 For this reason, he was variously described as an exponent of cyclical history or a pessimistic opponent of modern commercial society.71 This pessimistic interpretation, based on civic virtue theory, results from a misreading of Ferguson’s idea of history. In the context of his idea of history, Ferguson’s concern with virtue and corruption need not be described as ‘civic’ because, in his view, virtuous qualities do not belong to any specific time, place or social structure; rather, such qualities are as primordial as human nature. Ferguson explains, The most animating occasions of human life, are calls to danger and hardship … and man himself, in his excellence, is not an animal of pleasure, nor destined merely to enjoy what the elements bring to his use; but, like his associates, the dog and the horse, to follow the exercises of his nature, in preference to what are called its enjoyments; to pine in the lap of ease and of affluence, and to exult in the midst of alarms that seem to threaten his being.72

The reason that human history progresses from savage and barbarian societies to the polished and commercial society is the providential endowment of primordial virtues – instincts for sociability, perfection, struggle, vigilance and so forth. However, these virtues are on the brink of being marginalized in civil society. Many Scots, including Hume, Smith, Robertson, John Millar and others, held that human manners and institutions came to be progressively refined with changes in social patterns.73 Ferguson, on the other hand, was more concerned with how to keep intact the primordial virtues. Unlike other animals, the natural ‘respectable’ human attributes can be overshadowed or numbed by indolence, in part due to the rise of civil society. It is, thus, to Ferguson, not civic but primordial virtue that is suited to energizing society. A close textual investigation may help us appreciate more fully Ferguson’s strategy of deploying the language of decline, on the one hand, and that of progressivism, on the other. Most of Ferguson’s alleged sentiments regarding the decline and decay of civilization can be found in the last part of his Essay. In my view, Parts I and II of this work defend a theoretical proposal of universal human progress, beginning with a powerful rejection of the idea of the state of nature. Parts III and IV include a philosophical history of human evolution, from the

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rude to the more polished societies. Finally, Parts V and VI describe examples from the ancient past and provide lessons from the rise and fall of nations. The last section harks back to the theoretical proposition of human progressivism: if history demonstrates general progress, then why have some nations been driven to decline? In Ferguson’s view, history actually consists of two tiers, a general or universal history, and a national history. Even if nations might suffer corruption and decline, history remains incessantly progressive. Almost from the outset of the Essay, Ferguson argues emphatically for the general progress of human history. It is in the context of the great or universal history that Ferguson vehemently opposes John Locke, Thomas Hobbes and, particularly, Rousseau’s notions of the state of nature. Ferguson repeatedly maintains that the artifacts of human creation are, in fact, natural: ‘We speak of art as distinguished from nature; but art itself is natural to man’.74 Parts I and II of the Essay are replete with assertions of a view of human progress as primordial and that ‘man is susceptible of improvement, and has in himself a principle of progress, and a desire of perfection’. Though slow, human progress is forced up like spring water and ‘silently presses on every resistance’.75 Individuals have a life cycle from birth and infancy to maturity and death, but a society is perpetually being succeeded by members ‘renewed in every generation’, ‘where the race seems to enjoy perpetuated youth, and accumulating advantages’.76

Progress and Free Will Many modern critics have noted Ferguson’s progressivism,77 but its relation to providential meaning deserves attention. Although humans cannot envision the exact parameters that God sets for human progress, it is our responsibility to respond to the benevolent call of progress. All beings are destined to grow and progress; the higher the species in the ‘Great Chain of Being’, the more perfect and advanced it will become. In diametrical opposition to the stadial theory of moral progress, Ferguson argues: The rank of a progressive subject is to be estimated, not by its condition at any particular stage of its progress, but by its capacity and destination to advance in the scale of being … In the human infant, though inferior to the young of many other animals, we anticipate the beauty of youth, the vigorous soul of manhood, and the wisdom of age. And the highest rank, in the scale of created existence, is due to that nature, if such there be, which is destined to grow in perfection, and may grow without end …78

Most of Ferguson’s descriptions of the decline of modern states, appearing in Parts V and VI in the Essay, also restate his concern with ‘free will’ and providence. Providential order is, as Ferguson believed, manifested in a constant progression of the universe.79 Why, then, do polities or nations suffer declines? The possibility of social decline, revealing human fallibility and the limits of

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rationality, brings the perfection of providence into sharp relief. God grants humans freedom of will, so that they are responsible for their actions. When we say that the Author of nature has projected a scene of discipline and progress for men it is not meant to affirm any rate of actual attainment for this versatile being. The faculties are given to him, and the materials are pretended for his use: but the effect is optional to him.80

Given that we are fallible and free creatures, the individual may overlook or neglect the ‘powers of reflection in the mind of man, that enable him to anticipate the future … which providence has put in our power’.81 Furthermore, the precariousness of national history underscores the importance of human virtues. Accordingly, indolence or effeminacy of the mind engenders corruption or degeneration in political or national society. Because of free will, particular nations experience vicissitudes of fortune. Thus, at the level of the individual and the nation progress is not mechanistic or determined. Benevolent providence and human free will work together to explain why human history staggers forward and suffers setbacks, why some nations advance and some decline. Yet on the whole God ensures that universal history advances. There is no obvious reconciliation of these claims. In fact, Ferguson’s concern is less to confront any philosophical difficulties than to advance a moral point about human responsibility. For example, acutely aware of the conflicts of his century, Ferguson recalls, in section VI of his Essay, how the Roman Republic started to crumble when its citizens neglected to heed the call of providence, as reflected in Stoic teachings. Nothing stated so far repudiates the argument that Ferguson embraced some sort of republicanism. A republican exaltation is evident in his Essay.82 What this paper emphasizes is that it is fruitful to read Ferguson’s concern with republican virtue intertextually and in the context of providential history. The Essay is composed of three genres: a philosophical reflection on human nature, specifically, the capacity to be active and desirous for progress; a historical or anthropological account of human progress from ancient peoples or other-worldly societies; and a moral prescription of the virtues necessary for maintaining national progress. These three genres correspond, in significant ways, to Ferguson’s vocational rhythms as he moved from minister to historian to moral philosopher. In the context of grasping the idea of progress, his moralist teaching was imperative because, as Ferguson himself repeatedly contended, humans were ‘destined’ to progress. The emergence of civil society constitutes a watershed of human progress, providing a confluence of experiences that both reveal and enable the sophistication, knowledge and penetration of the human mind. Civil society also facilitates, however, various sorts of enjoyments and comforts that may lead to a diminution of vigour. To preserve, if not to reinstate, the primordial virtues and

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the preservation of progress, a better understanding of the divine is required. Superstitions commonly practised in ‘barbarian’ society must be disdained and forsaken, even as God’s designed order is duly acknowledged. For Ferguson, the citizen, as a rational creature of God, bears the responsibility to maintain progress. With the recognition of providential order, the citizens of civil society must decide whether they aspire to be willing instruments for that design. And thus, we may conclude, the highest point to which moral science conducts the mind of man, is that eminence of thought, from which he can view himself as but a part in the community of living natures; by which he is in some measure let into the design of God, to combine all the parts together for the common benefits of all; and can state himself as a willing instrument for this purpose, in what depends on his own will; and as a conscious instrument, at the disposal of providence, in matters which are out of his power.83

Acknowledgements The author is deeply grateful to the Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Department, for granting him a permission to use the manuscript materials of Ferguson and Cleghorn in this paper. He also extends his thanks to Dr Annette Munt, Dr Guo Juin Hong, Professor Vincenzo Merolle, anonymous reviewers and, particularly, Dr Eugene Heath for assistance and helpful remarks in preparing the essay for publication.

NOTES

1 Brewer, ‘Ferguson’s Epistolary Self ’ 1.

2. 3.

4. 5. 6. 7.

On civic humanism, see J. G. A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975, rpt 2003) and Virtue, Commerce and History: Essays on Political Thought and History, Chiefly in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985). For an analysis of how civic humanism mediated Ferguson’s sociological writings, see J. D. Brewer, ‘Adam Ferguson and the Theme of Exploitation’, British Journal of Sociology, 37 (1986), pp. 461–78. See A. Kalyvas and I. Katznelson, ‘Adam Ferguson Returns: Liberalism Through a Glass Darkly’, Political Theory, 26:2 (April 1998), pp. 173–97. The Adam Ferguson Institute in Ohio sums up this modern interest when it writes on its home page (http://www.logon.com/afi) of its commitment to ‘study and discuss the works of Ferguson’ in order to promulgate what it means to be a civil societarian: A Civil Societarian knows that, because of unintended consequences, a number of government programs cause more harm than good. The overall result is the creation of a permanent underclass, as the public sector reduces the private sector’s ability to generate economic progress for all. A Civil Societarian knows that freedom is the road to both material and spiritual growth. Civil Societarians will not trade their freedom for security because this leads to the loss of both. Civil Societarians know that a great country is simply a place where individuals are free to do great deeds. A Civil Societarian is not willing to stand by and watch as this land we call America declines, like past civilizations whose people lost track of their liberty and trusted their rulers more than they trusted themselves. A Civil Societarian understands the purpose of the US constitution and stands against those who misinterpret and misunderstand this document as they slowly take away the freedom that it was designed to protect. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, ed. V. Merolle, intro. J. B. Fagg, 2 vols (London: Pickering & Chatto, 1995), vol. 1 (1745–80), p. 223. M. Kugler, ‘Provincial Intellectuals: Identity, Patriotism and Enlightened Peripheries’, Eighteenth Century, 37 (1996), pp. 156–73. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 1, p. 202. Emphasized by D. Allan, Adam Ferguson (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press; Aberdeen: Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies, 2006), p. 33. – 187 –

188 8.

9.

10. 11.

12.

13. 14.

15.

16. 17. 18. 19.

20.

21.

Notes to pages 8–9 On which, see B. Lenman, Integration, Enlightenment and Industrialization in Scotland, 1746–1832 (London: Edward Arnold, 1981); N. Phillipson, ‘Towards A Definition of the Scottish Enlightenment’, in P. Fritz and D. Williams (eds), City and Society in the Eighteenth Century (Toronto: Hakkert, 1973), pp. 125–47; T. C. Smout, ‘Where had the Scottish Economy got to by the Third Quarter of the Eighteenth Century?’, in I. Hont and M. Ignatieff (eds), Wealth and Virtue: The Shaping of Political Economy in the Scottish Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 45–72. On which, see R. L. Emerson, ‘The Social Composition of Enlightened Scotland: The Select Society of Edinburgh 1754–1764’, Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 114 (1973), pp. 291–329. L. Hill, ‘Eighteenth-Century Anticipations of the Sociology of Conflict: The Case of Adam Ferguson’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 62 (2001), pp. 281–99. J. D. Brewer, ‘Conjectural History, Sociology and Social Change in Eighteenth-Century Scotland: Adam Ferguson and the Division of Labour’, in D. McCrone, S. Kendrick and P. Straw (eds), The Making of Scotland: Nation, Culture and Social Change (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1989), pp. 13–30. See Brewer, ‘Adam Ferguson and the Theme of Exploitation’; and Brewer, ‘The Scottish Enlightenment’, in A. Reeve (ed.), Modern Theories of Exploitation (London: Sage, 1987), pp. 6–27. R. Pascal, ‘Property and Society: The Scottish Historical School of the Eighteenth Century’, Modern Quarterly, 2 (March 1938), pp. 167–79. See R. L. Meek, ‘The Scottish Contribution to Marxist Sociology’, in R. L. Meek, Economics and Ideology and Other Essays (London: Chapman and Hall, 1967), pp. 34–50, also in J. Saville (ed.), Democracy and the Labour Movement (London: Chapman and Hall, 1954), pp. 84–102; A. Skinner, ‘A Scottish Contribution to Marxist Sociology?’, in I. Bradley and M. C. Howard (eds), Classical and Marxian Political Economy (London: Macmillan, 1982), pp. 95–121. For example: R. H. Campbell and A. Skinner, The Origins and Nature of the Scottish Enlightenment (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1982); A. C. Chitnis, The Scottish Enlightenment (London: Croom Helm, 1976); J. Rendall, The Origins of the Scottish Enlightenment (London: Macmillan, 1979). J. B. Fagg, ‘Biographical Introduction’, in The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 1, pp. xx–cxvii, on p. lxxii. Allan, Adam Ferguson, pp. 150–1. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson. See Allan, Adam Ferguson, p. 5; D. Forbes, ‘Introduction’, in A. Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society, ed. D. Forbes (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1966), pp. xiii–xli, on pp. xxxviii–xxxix; D. Forbes, ‘Adam Ferguson and the Idea of Community’, in D. Young (ed.), Edinburgh in the Age of Reason (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1967), pp. 40–7; Hill, ‘Eighteenth-Century Anticipations of the Sociology of Conflict’, p. 282; and D. G. MacRae, ‘Adam Ferguson, 1723–1816’, in T. Raison (ed.), The Founding Fathers of Social Science (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969), pp. 17–26, on p. 19. Scott may have embellished the tale for dramatic effect to reinforce the impression of Ferguson’s Highland background, since Fagg’s account has him only throwing his papers at the colonel, see Fagg, ‘Biographical Introduction’, p. xxiv. R. Sorenson, ‘Fame as the Forgotten Philosopher: Meditations on the Headstone of Adam Ferguson’, Philosophy, 77 (2002), pp. 109–14, on p. 110.

Notes to pages 9–17

189

22. Allan, Adam Ferguson, p. 5. 23. A. Carlyle, The Autobiography of Dr Alexander Carlyle (1805), ed. J. Burton (Edinburgh: Foulis, 1910), p. 295. 24. Quoted by Fagg, ‘Biographical Introduction’, p. xxv. 25. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 261. 26. For further details, see J. D. Brewer, ‘Putting Adam Ferguson in His Place’, British Journal of Sociology, 58 (2007), pp. 105–22. 27. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791–1799, ed. J. Sinclair, new intro B. Lenman, 20 vols (Wakefield, E. P. Publishing, 1977), vol. 12, p. 81. 28. Allan, Adam Ferguson, p. 1. 29. Carlyle, The Autobiography of Dr Alexander Carlyle, p. 296. 30. L. Stanley, ‘The Epistolarium: On Theorizing Letters and Correspondences’, Auto/Biography, 12 (2004), pp. 201–35, on p. 208. 31. L. Stanley, ‘Shadows Lying Across Her Pages: Epistolary Aspects of Reading “The Eventful I” in Olive Schreiner’s Letters’, Journal of European Studies, 32 (2002), pp. 251–66. 32. Noted by T. Butt and D. Langdridge, ‘The Construction of the Self ’, Sociology, 37 (2003), pp. 477–93, on p. 483. 33. For example K. Plummer, Documents of Life 2: An Invitation to a Critical Humanism (London: Sage, 2001), p. 54. 34. J. D. Brewer, The Royal Irish Constabulary: An Oral History (Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, 1990), pp. 14–19. 35. E. J. Webb, D. T. Campbell, R. D. Schwartz and L. Sechrest, Unobtrusive Measures: Nonreactive Research in the Social Sciences (Chicago, IL: Rand McNally, 1966), p. 105. 36. Stanley, ‘The Epistolarium’, pp. 202–3. 37. Ibid., p. 212. 38. Ibid., p. 223. 39. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 1, p 14; vol. 2 (1781–1816), p. 520. 40. Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 101–2. 41. Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 357–8. 42. Fagg, ‘Biographical Introduction’, vol. 1, p. xxiv; Carlyle, The Autobiography of Dr Alexander Carlyle, p. 297. 43. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 408. 44. Ibid., vol. 1, p 114. 45. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 411. 46. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 53. 47. For Pitt, see ibid., vol. 2, p. 350. 48. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 18. 49. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 506. 50. Carlyle, The Autobiography of Dr Alexander Carlyle, p. 568. 51. Fagg, ‘Biographical Introduction’, p. xlix. 52. Carlyle, The Autobiography of Dr Alexander Carlyle, pp. 297–8. 53. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 269. 54. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 42. 55. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 591. 56. Details of the drafts are in ibid., vol. 2, pp. 587–9. 57. Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 439–40. 58. Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 525–6. 59. Allan, Adam Ferguson, p. 2.

190 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79. 80. 81. 82. 83. 84. 85. 86. 87. 88. 89.

90. 91. 92.

93. 94. 95. 96. 97. 98.

Notes to pages 17–21 The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 1, p.10. Fagg, ‘Biographical Introduction’, p. xxix. Quoted in ibid., p. xxviii. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, pp. 525–6. J. Lorimer, ‘Adam Ferguson’, Edinburgh Review or Critical Journal, 125 ( January 1867), pp. 25–44, on p. 44. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 375. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 112. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 124. Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 265, 340. See Brewer, ‘Putting Adam Ferguson in His Place’. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 483. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 495. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 361. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 340. For example, see ibid., vol. 1, pp. 223, 231. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 427. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 437. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 431. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 431. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 430. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 353. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 529. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 529. Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 26–7. See the letter written prior to the sixth edition in ibid., vol. 2, p. 350. Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 267–8. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 437. Quoted by Allan, Adam Ferguson, p. 72. Ibid., p. 75. On one occasion Ferguson does cite Robertson’s History of Scotland in the Essay. This is in reference to the military obligations to chiefs under clan systems, which he uses as an example of the history of subordination, see Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Forbes, p. 131. Clearly, therefore, he knew of the historical literature on Scotland; what he is stating in this letter is a relative lack of interest in it. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 546. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 546. C. Beveridge and R. Turnbull, The Eclipse of Scottish Culture: Inferiorism and the Intellectuals (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1989); C. Beveridge and R. Turnbull, Scotland After Enlightenment (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1997). Beveridge and Turnbull, The Eclipse of Scottish Culture, pp. 7–8. Ibid., p. 29. Ibid., p. 16. G. E. Davie, The Democratic Intellect (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1961). The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 1, p. 202. A. Murdoch, ‘Scotland and the Idea of Britain in the Eighteenth Century’, in T. M. Devine and J. R. Young (eds), Eighteenth-Century Scotland: New Perspectives (East Linton: Tuckwell Press, 1999), pp. 90–106.

Notes to pages 21–5

191

99. Beveridge and Turnbull, Scotland After Enlightenment, p. 95. 100. C. Withers, ‘The Historical Creation of the Scottish Highlands’, in I. Donnachie and C. A. Whatley (eds), The Manufacture of Scottish History (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1992), pp. 143–56. 101. Beveridge and Turnbull, Scotland After Enlightenment, p. 86. 102. For a similar analysis of the way in which the public and private mediated the sociological writings of another famous sociologist from the discipline’s history, see J. D. Brewer, ‘The Public and Private in C. Wright Mills’s Life and Work’, Sociology, 39 (2005), pp. 661–77.

2 Allan, ‘Ferguson and Scottish History’ 1.

E. Gellner, ‘Adam Ferguson and the Surprising Robustness of Civil Society’, in E. Gellner and C. Cansino (eds), Liberalism in Modern Times: Essays in Honour of José G. Merquior (Budapest and London: Central European University Press, 1996), pp. 119–31. 2. W. C. Lehmann, Adam Ferguson and the Beginnings of Modern Sociology (New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1930); Meek, ‘The Scottish Contribution to Marxist Sociology’; R. L. Meek, ‘Smith, Turgot, and the “Four Stages” Theory’ in R. L. Meek, Smith, Marx and After: Ten Essays in the Development of Economic Thought (London: Chapman and Hall, 1977), pp. 18–32; R. L. Meek Social Science and the Ignoble Savage (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976); MacRae, ‘Adam Ferguson’. 3. Pascal, ‘Property and Society’; Brewer, ‘Adam Ferguson and the Theme of Exploitation’; Brewer, ‘Conjectural History, Sociology and Social Change in Eighteenth-Century Scotland’; F. A. Hayek, ‘The Results of Human Action but Not of Human Design’ in F. A. Hayek, Studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1969), pp. 96–105. 4. J. Robertson, The Scottish Enlightenment and the Militia Issue (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1985). As an established fixture in the development of modern historiography, Ferguson also features prominently in major recent studies such as J. G. A. Pocock, Barbarism and Religion, Volume 2: Narratives of Civil Government (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999) and M. S. Phillips, Society and Sentiment: Genres of Historical Writing in Britain, 1740–1820 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000). 5. H. Cockburn, Memorials of His Time (Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1856), p. 49. 6. D. Kettler, The Social and Political Thought of Adam Ferguson (Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 1965), p. 4. 7. A. Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of The Wealth of Nations (1776), ed. R. H. Campbell and A. S. Skinner, 2 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976; rpt Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 1981), vol. 1, pp. 297–317. 8. Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 393, 413–14. 9. Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 721–2, 785, 809–10. 10. D. Hume, The History of England, 6 vols (London: T. Cadell, 1778; rpt Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1854; Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 1983), esp. vol. 4, pp. 251ff ; vol. 1, p. 13; vol. 6, p. 522. 11. See, for instance, Kames’s Essays upon Several Subjects in Scots Law (1747) and Essays Upon Several Subjects Concerning British Antiquities (1748), Sir David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes’s Annals of Scotland from Malcolm Canmore to Robert I (1776), Henry’s History of

192

12.

13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19.

20.

21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

26. 27. 28.

Notes to pages 25–31 Great Britain (1771–93) and Sir John Dalrymple’s Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland (1771). Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society, ed. F. Oz-Salzberger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 127. There is also a footnote to Macpherson’s Gaelic poetry, added to the 1768 edition of the Essay (at p. 166, n., in the Oz-Salzberger edition), but this too avoids mention of Scotland and is instead used merely to reference the emergence of bardic culture in primitive societies. Ibid., pp. 25, 99, 100, 102, 209. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 437. D. Hume, Letters of David Hume, ed. G. Birkbeck-Hill (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1888), p. 155. D. Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (1739), ed. L. A. Selby-Bigge, rev. P. H. Nidditch, 2nd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), p. xv. Monthly Review, n.s. 5 (1791), p. 403. K. O’Brien, Narratives of Enlightenment: Cosmopolitan History from Voltaire to Gibbon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 114–22. D. Allan, Virtue Learning and the Scottish Enlightenment: Ideas of Scholarship in Early Modern History (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1993); M. Fearnley-Sander, ‘Philosophical History and the Scottish Reformation: William Robertson and the Knoxian Tradition’, Historical Journal, 33 (1990), pp. 323–38. D. Allan, ‘“Ane Ornamente to Yow and Your Familie”: Sir Robert Gordon of Gordonstoun’s Genealogical History of the Earldom of Sutherland’, Scottish Historical Review, 80 (2001), pp. 24–44; D. Allan, Philosophy and Politics in Later Stuart Scotland: Neo-Stoicism, Culture and Ideology in an Age of Crisis, 1540–1690 (East Linton: Tuckwell Press, 2000), pp. 116–21, 145–51. J. Hill, ‘An Essay Upon the Principles of Historical Composition’, Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1 (1784), p. 79. G. Turnbull, A Treatise on Ancient Painting (London, 1740), p. xxiii. A. F. Tytler, Plan and Outline of a Course of Lectures on Universal History, Ancient and Modern (Edinburgh, 1782), p. 5. G. Turnbull, Observations upon Liberal Education (London, 1742), p. 393; A. Gerard, An Essay on Genius (London, 1774), p. 221. D. Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals (1748), ed. L. A. Selby-Bigge, rev. P.H. Nidditch, 3rd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975), p. 164; S. Evnine, ‘Hume, Conjectural History and the Uniformity of Human Nature’, Journal of the History of Philosophy, 31 (1993), pp. 589–606; G. H. Sabine, ‘Hume’s Contribution to the Historical Method’, Philosophical Review, 15 (1906), pp. 17–38. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 119. Ibid., p. 119. David Hume of Godscroft, History of the Houses of Douglas and Angus (Edinburgh, 1644), preface. Godscroft, who was fascinated by what he promiscuously presented as Fortune and Providence, also made other claims that prefigure the Enlightenment’s interest in ‘Unintended Consequences’: about Julius Caesar, for example, he wrote that his life illustrated the role of fortune ‘which turnes the wheele of humane affairs beyond, and contrary to their expectation’ (p. 322). At the start of the eighteenth century similar interpretative devices, this time in an ostensibly providential framework applied explicitly to large-scale historical phenomena, were promoted by another Scottish historian,

Notes to pages 31–8

29.

30. 31. 32. 33. 34.

35. 36.

37. 38. 39. 40.

41. 42. 43. 44. 45.

46. 47. 48.

193

Patrick Abercromby, who considered that the reign of Malcolm Canmore, King of Scots, showed ‘nothing so much, as that unsearchable Providence that over-rules the Projects and Efforts of Men, gives Kingdoms and takes them away, depresses and raises Families, distracts and re-settles Nations, and by Means, humane Wisdome can neither foresee nor defeat, brings about its own secret and adorable Ends’, The Martial Atchievements of the Scots Nation, 2 vols (Edinburgh, 1711–15), vol. 1, p. 339. R. Hamowy, The Scottish Enlightenment and the Theory of Spontaneous Order (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1987); R. L. Emerson, ‘Conjectural History and the Scottish Philosophers’, Canadian Historical Association Historical Papers (1984), pp. 63–90. W. Bagehot, ‘Adam Smith as a Person’, in R. H. Hutton, (ed.), Biographical Studies (London: Longman, 1881), pp. 247–64, on p. 255. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 7. Ibid., p. 14. Ibid., pp. 12–14. This point has, of course, been widely discussed, and has a long pedigree, but see, for an early exposition, Pascal, ‘Property and Society’, passim, as well as J. Clive, ‘The Social Background to the Scottish Renaissance’, in N. T. Phillipson and R. Mitchison (eds), Scotland in the Age of Improvement (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1970), pp. 225–44. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 214. A. Ferguson, The History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic, 3 vols (London: Strahan and T. Cadell, 1783); 2nd edn, 5 vols (Edinburgh, 1799); rpt 1 vol. (New York: J. C. Derby, 1856), p. 481. Robertson, The Scottish Enlightenment and the Militia Issue, passim. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, pp. 215–16. Ibid., p. 145. G. S. Wood, ‘The American Revolution’, in M. Goldie and R. Wokler (eds), The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Political Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 601–25, on p. 603. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, pp. 70–1. Ibid., p. 128. Ibid., p. 126. MacRae, ‘Adam Ferguson’; Lehmann, Adam Ferguson and the Beginnings of Modern Sociology. F. Oz-Salzberger, Translating the Enlightenment: Scottish Civic Discourse in EighteenthCentury Germany (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995); F. Oz-Salzberger, ‘Adam Ferguson’s Histories in Germany: English Liberty, Scottish Vigour and German Rigour’ in B. Stuchtey and P. Wende (eds), British and German Historiography, 1750–1950 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 49–66. A. Ferguson, Principles of Moral and Political Science, 2 vols (London: A. Strahan and T. Cadell; Edinburgh: W. Creech, 1792), vol. 1, p. 1. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 8. On the purging of ‘Scoticisms’, a perceived obligation among most of the Enlightenment intelligentsia, the key primary text is the philosopher and poet James Beattie’s Scoticisms, Arranged in Alphabetical Order, Designed to Correct Improprieties of Speech and Writing (Edinburgh, 1779). Hume, of course, was even maliciously rumoured to have confessed his Scoticisms rather than his sins on his deathbed.

194

Notes to pages 40–1

3 Fagg, ‘Ferguson’s Use of the Edinburgh University Library’ 1. 2.

3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

14. 15.

16.

Inventory of Dr Adam Ferguson, 283, Commissariat of St Andrews, Record of Inventories, VIII, 574, National Archives of Scotland. Sir Adam Ferguson to William Adam, 18 September 1817, in The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 591. There have been three editions of Ferguson’s manuscripts. The first was Winifred Philip’s typescript, The Unpublished Essays of Adam Ferguson, 3 vols (Argyll: n.p., 1986). This was followed in 1996 by Yasuo Amoh’s work (in English) entitled Adam Ferguson: Collection of Essays (Kyoto: Rinsen Book Company, 1996). The latest edition was The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, ed. V. Merolle, with E. Heath and R. Dix (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2006). John Lee to Hugh Cleghorn, St Andrews, 22 October 1817, in The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 591. The bracketed word is part of the letter as published. Adam Ferguson to John Macpherson, London, SE Blackheath, 9 April 1775, in ibid., vol. 1, p. 119. Adam Ferguson to Edward Gibbon, Edinburgh, 19 March 1775, in ibid., vol. 1, p. 135; and Ferguson to Adam Smith, Edinburgh, 18 April 1776, in ibid., vol. 1, p. 142. Adam Ferguson to Lord Stanhope, Edinburgh, 10 March 1777, in ibid., vol. 1, p. 145. Adam Ferguson to John Macpherson, Edinburgh, 21 August 1780, in ibid., vol. 1 p. 250. Adam Ferguson to [William Creech], Argyle [Square], 5 March 1783, in ibid., vol. 2, 294. See also J. MacKenzie, The Life of Michael Bruce Poet of Loch Leven (London: J. M. Dent, 1905) which attempts to explain the convoluted affair. MacKenzie, who also asserts that a rough copy of Bruce’s ‘Ode to the Cuckoo’ in the young man’s hand had something to do with those rough copies of letters lately discovered, which had passed into the possession of the late Rev. Professor [Oliphant] Smeaton as part of a large collection of material which had been gathered by another for the purpose of publishing a life of Professor Adam Ferguson. About the time Professor Smeaton got these given to him Dr John Small issued a volume of Professor A. Ferguson’s life, so that no further action was taken (p. 135). The author would like to thank Richard B. Sher for alerting her to these materials. Adam Ferguson to ‘Madam’, 24 February 1790, in The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 338. Adam Ferguson to John Macpherson, Nidpath Castle, 7 May 1796, in ibid., vol. 2, pp. 390–1. Adam Ferguson to John Macpherson, Hallyards, 23 December 1796, in ibid., vol. 2, p. 409. Adam Ferguson to [William Creech], Hallyards, 5 July 1797, in ibid., vol. 2, p. 416. Adam Ferguson to Alexander Carlyle, Hallyards, 2 October 1797, in ibid., vol. 2, p. 423; and Adam Ferguson to Alexander Carlyle, Hallyards, 2 October 1797, in ibid., vol. 2, p. 425. Adam Ferguson to Andrew Stuart, Hallyards, near Peebles, 28 June 1798, in ibid., vol. 2, p. 437. Adam Ferguson to John Macpherson, Hallyards, 10 November 1804, in ibid., vol. 2, p. 491; and Adam Ferguson to [Archibald Alison], St Andrews, 11 July 1811, in ibid., vol. 2, p. 517. L. Hill, The Passionate Society: The Social, Political and Moral Thought of Adam Ferguson (Dordrecht: Springer, 2006), p. 63.

Notes to pages 41–55

195

17. C. P. Finlayson and S. M. Simpson, ‘The History of the Library: 1710–1837’ in J. R. Guild and A. Law (eds), Edinburgh University Library, 1580–1980: A Collection of Historical Essays (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Library, 1982), pp. 55–66, on p. 56. 18. Minutes of the Senatus Academicus, 1733–1790, MS, Special Collections Division, Edinburgh University Library, vol. 1, pp. 163, 166, 182, 184, 190. 19. Finlayson and Simpson, ‘The History of the Library’, pp. 57–8. 20. Receipt Book, Books Borrowed from Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division, Edinburgh University Library, DA 2. 2–4 (Ferguson 1764–90, Ferguson 1790–1806). The entries were abbreviated and difficult to read, in addition to having lines drawn through them. After the records in the receipt books were reconstructed the entries were expanded by checking them against many and varied sources. The expansions are shown in brackets. The most helpful source was Catalogue of the Printed Books in the Library of the University of Edinburgh, 3 vols (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1918–23). Computer resources were also valuable, including on-line access to the British Library, the University of Edinburgh Library, Google.com, Dogpile.com and World Catalog (used thanks to the kindness of Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas). Anne Stricklin provided most of the Latin translations. 21. Extracts from the Town Council Records, 16 May 1764, in A. Dalzel, History of the University of Edinburgh from its Foundation, 2 vols (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1862), vol. 2, p. 433. 22. Adam Ferguson to Edward Gibbon, Edinburgh, 18 April 1776, in The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 1, p. 141. 23. Extracts from the Town Council Minutes, 27 October 1773, in Dalzel, History of the University of Edinburgh, vol. 2, p. 444. 24. Extracts from the Town Council Minutes, 24 May 1775, in ibid., vol. 2, pp. 445–6. 25. Minutes of the Senatus Academicus, vol. 1, pp. 333–4. 26. After Ferguson retired books were sometimes checked out on his page with no signature. It is impossible to determine if they were borrowed by or for him. These books have been given less complete bibliographical detail than those which can be charged positively to him. Books checked out by his sons or students have been omitted. The younger Adam Ferguson checked out four books, Joseph Ferguson fourteen, and James Ferguson thirtyseven. Students borrowed twenty-two. 27. Ferguson, Principles of Moral and Political Science, 2 vols (rpt New York: Garland, 1978), vol. 1, p. 8. 28. A. Ferguson, ‘Minutes of the Life and Character of Joseph Black, M.D.’, Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 5 (1805), pp. 101–17. Read 3 August 1801. 29. L. C. Draper, in his King’s Mountain and its Heroes ( Johnson City, TN: Peter Thomson, 1881), p. 211, cites Ferguson’s ‘rare, if not hitherto unknown pamphlet’. The author would like to thank Richard B. Sher for pointing this work out to her. 30. Hill, The Passionate Society, p. 238. 31. P. Salway, Roman Britain: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 2. The author thanks Professor Vincenzo Merolle for sharing his insight on this matter. 32. Hill, The Passionate Society, p. 236. 33. Brewer, ‘Adam Ferguson and the Theme of Exploitation’, p. 473, as quoted in Hill, The Passionate Society, p. 234.

196

Notes to pages 65–70

4 Raynor, ‘Ferguson’s Reflections Previous to the Establishment of a Militia’ 1.

2.

3. 4. 5.

6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20.

‘Lord George Sackville desired I would acquaint you, in case he had not, that My Lord Lieutenant was pleased to give Leave of Absence from the April Muster next ensuing, to The Revnd. Mr. Adam Ferguson Chaplain to my Regt. Which I beg the favour you’ll please write of to Ireland’, Lord John Murray to Sir Robert Wilmot, 15 March 1755, Derbyshire Record Office, D3155/C1706. ‘Mr. Speaker Onslow’s Speech to the King on presenting the Money Bills’, 27 May, Gentleman’s Magazine (October 1756), p. 457; reprinted in W. Cobbett and J. Wright (eds), The Parliamentary History of England, 36 vols (London: Hansard, 1806–20), vol. 15, p. 770. H. Walpole, Memoirs of King George II, ed. J. Brooke, 3 vols (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985), vol. 2, p. 91. Charles Jenkinson to Sanderson Miller, 19 May 1756, in L. Dickins and M. Stanton (eds), An Eighteenth-Century Correspondence (London: John Murray, 1910), p. 332. A. Ferguson, Reflections Previous to the Establishment of a Militia (London: R. and J. Dodsley, 1756); date of publication as given in the Public Advertiser, 25 November 1756. The pamphlet was very favourably reviewed in the Monthly Review (December 1756), pp. 673–5. Ferguson, Reflections, p. 53. Ibid., p. 3. Ibid., p. 48. Ibid., p. 17. Ibid., p. 30. Ibid., pp. 8, 13. ‘To the Nobility and Gentry, associated for the Preservation of the Game’, Gentleman’s Magazine (August 1756), p. 384; reprinted from the Daily Gazetteer. See also J. R. Western, The English Militia in the Eighteenth Century: The Story of a Political Issue, 1660–1802 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965), pp. 71–2, 119–20. Ferguson, Reflections, pp. 13, 16, 17. Ibid., p. 25. Gilbert Elliot to George Grenville, 25 May 1756, in W. J. Smith (ed.), The Grenville Papers, 4 vols (London: John Murray, 1852), vol. 1, p. 160 (original emphasis). Parliamentary History, vol. 15, p. 736. Gentleman’s Magazine ( June 1756), p. 295. Ferguson, Reflections, p. 12. Lord Dacre to Sanderson Miller, May 1756, in Dickins and Stanton (eds), An Eighteenth-Century Correspondence, p. 333. This is evident in Gilbert Elliot’s second report of Hardwicke’s speech: ‘… my Lord Chancellor’s argument against the Bill was worthy of so great a man, one who declared that day he was no prerogative lawyer. He, too, is a friend to militia; his idea is, that it ought to consist only of 30,000 men; a fixed revenue for their pay, not to be annually voted; to depend solely on the Crown. The consent of Parliament to their being called is no doubt a violent encroachment upon prerogative. How could the House of Commons entertain so wild a project? At any time it would have been absurd, much more so under the present auspicious Administration. This hint, it is devoutly to be wished, will be adopted next session’, Gilbert Elliott to George Grenville, 27 May 1756, in Smith (ed.), The Grenville Papers, vol. 1, p. 161.

Notes to pages 70–4

197

21. Sir Edward Turner to Sanderson Miller, 25 May 1756, in Dickins and Stanton (eds), An Eighteenth-Century Correspondence, p. 335. 22. They proposed several ‘amendments designed to make the bill harmless’: that it was to be only a temporary measure limited to five years; that it should consist only of 30,000 men instead of 60,000; and that ‘it was not to be raised by ballot unless it proved impossible to do so by volunteers’. ‘The great idea now was to let it die a natural death after the excitement that had brought it forth had evaporated’, Western, The English Militia in the Eighteenth Century, p. 138. 23. Ferguson, Reflections, pp. 36, 37, 41, 43, 46, 47. 24. Ibid., p. 53. 25. R. B. Sher, Church and University in the Scottish Enlightenment: The Moderate Literati of Edinburgh (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985), p. 219; emphasis added. In his A Discourse of Government with relation to Militias, Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun had proposed a militia model that ‘would be as great a school of virtue as of military discipline’ (1698; London, 1755), p. 55. 26. Parliamentary History, vol. 15, p. 757. 27. Ibid., vol. 15, p. 721. 28. Ferguson, Reflections, pp. 50, 53. 29. D. Hay and N. Rogers, Eighteenth-Century English Society: Shuttles and Swords (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), ch. 2. 30. Robertson, The Scottish Enlightenment and the Militia Issue, pp. 90–1. 31. Almost fifty years after he penned Reflections Ferguson wrote to his former student Henry Dundas that ‘in admitting Recruits [to the militia] we are rather to Select than to solicit; For besides that it is no recommendation to any Institution, that it is open to every one; here is a Trust that must not be prostituted’. As for compulsion: ‘In this way no doubt every Subject may be forced to handle a Firelock: but this is soon Obtained and it is of little value if the Heart does not go along with it. There is danger that whatever is forced may leave an impression of Servitude and consequently some degree of repugnance to the Bussiness’, in The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, pp. 473, 476.

5 Amoh, ‘Ferguson’s Views on the American and French Revolutions’ 1. 2. 3. 4.

5.

6.

Smith, Wealth of Nations, vol. 2, p. 947. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 947. David Hume to Baron Mure of Caldwell, 27 October 1775, in D. Hume, The Letters of David Hume, ed. J. Y. T. Greig, 2 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1932), letter 510. David Hume to Baron Mure of Caldwell, 26 October 1775, in ibid., letter 509. For Hume’s view on America, see H. Tanaka, ‘Hume on America’, Konan Economic Review, 22:2 (1981), pp. 79–112 (in Japanese); and D. W. Livingston, Philosophical Melancholy and Delirium: Hume’s Pathology of Philosophy (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1998), esp. chs 11, 12. L. G. Tait, ‘Introduction’, in The Works of the Rev. John Witherspoon, 4 vols (1802 edn, rpt Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 2003), vol. 1, p. x. On Witherspoon and America, see R. B. Sher and J. R. Smitten (eds), Scotland and America in the Age of the Enlightenment (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1990), part 1: ‘Religion and Revolution: The Two Worlds of John Witherspoon’. See D. Daiches, ‘John Witherspoon, James Wilson and the Influence of Scottish Rhetoric on America’, in J. Dwyer and R. B. Sher (eds), Sociability and Society in Eighteenth-Century Scotland (Edinburgh: Mercat Press, 1993), pp. 163–80. For Witherspoon’s reading

198

7.

8. 9.

10. 11.

12.

13. 14. 15.

16.

Notes to page 74 list, see D. F. Thompson, ‘The Education of a Founding Father. The Reading List for John Witherspoon’s Course in Political Theory, as Taken by James Madison’, Political Theory, 4 (November 1976), pp. 523–9. For Scottish opinion on the American Revolution, see D. I. Fagerstrom, ‘Scottish Opinion and the American Revolution’, William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, 11:2 (1954), pp. 252–75. For more recent accounts, consult B. Harris (ed.), Scotland in the Age of the French Revolution (Edinburgh: John Donald, 2005); and B. Harris, The Scottish People and the French Revolution (forthcoming, London: Pickering & Chatto, 2008). Sher, Church and University in the Scottish Enlightenment, ch. 7: ‘The Tolerant Conservatives’. For controversy over the presentation of Douglas in Edinburgh, see ibid., pp. 74–92; Y. Amoh, Adam Ferguson and the Scottish Enlightenment (Tokyo: Keiso, 1993), pp. 93– 112 (in Japanese). Sher, Church and University in the Scottish Enlightenment, p. 275. C. McC. Weis and F. A. Pottle (eds), Boswell in Extremes, 1776–1778 (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970), p. 360. See also, H. Mizuta, ‘The Scottish Enlightenment and the American and French Revolutions’, in S. Tanaka (ed.), Studies on the Scottish Enlightenment (Tokyo: Hokuju, 1988), pp. 277–301 (in Japanese). Thompson, ‘The Education of a Founding Father’, p. 528; and G. L. McDowell, ‘Commerce, Virtue, and Politics: Adam Ferguson’s Constitutionalism’, Review of Politics, 45:4 (October 1983), pp. 536–52, esp. p. 538. It is an irony of history that while Ferguson bitterly opposed American Independence, Witherspoon, who introduced Ferguson into America from Scotland, signed the Declaration of Independence and contributed greatly to the founding of a new state. Ferguson referred to Witherspoon in one of his letters, see below, p. 80. Ferguson was born on 20 June, Witherspoon on 5 February, Smith on 5 June and Richard Price, discussed below, on 23 February. They likely got acquainted when they were studying divinity at Edinburgh University: Witherspoon from 1736 to 1743, Ferguson from 1742 to 1745. For Ferguson’s views on America, see H. Tanaka, ‘Adam Ferguson on America and Civilized Society: His Tract against Civil Liberty by R. Price’, Konan Economic Review, 25:4 (March 1985), pp. 187–226 (in Japanese); Y. Amoh, ‘Adam Ferguson and the American Revolution’, Kochi University Review, 37 (March 1990), pp. 55–87, which is partly used in the present essay; and R. Hamowy, ‘Two Whig Views of the American Revolution: Adam Ferguson’s Response to Richard Price’, in R. Hamowy, The Political Sociology of Freedom: Adam Ferguson and F. A. Hayek (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2005), pp. 159–82 (first published in Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy, 31:1 (Fall 2003), pp. 3–35). For the contrast in the two Adams’s views on civilization, see H. Mizuta, ‘Two Adams in the Scottish Enlightenment: Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson on Progress’, Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 191 (1980), pp. 812–19; and for their views on national defence, see R. B. Sher, ‘Adam Ferguson, Adam Smith, and the Problem of National Defense’, Journal of Modern History, 61:2 (1989), pp. 240–68. J. Small, ‘Biographical Sketch of Adam Ferguson, LL.D., F.R.S.E., Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh’, Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 23:3 (1864), p. 665.

Notes to pages 74–7

199

17. For other accounts of Ferguson’s views on the two revolutions, see Kettler, The Social and Political Thought of Adam Ferguson; Fagg, ‘Biographical Introduction’, pp. xlvii–lvi, lxxxii–lxxxvii; and Sher, Church and University in the Scottish Enlightenment, chs 7, 8. 18. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 1, pp. 95–6. The original letter is undated; Merolle conjectures that it was written in 1772 or early in 1773. 19. R. Price, Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, the Principles of Government, and the Justice and Policy of the War with America (1776), in R. Price, Two Tracts on Civil Liberty (1778 edn, rpt New York: Da Capo Press, 1972). 20. A. Ferguson, Remarks on a Pamphlet Lately Published by Dr. Richard Price, Intitled, Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, the Principles of Government, and the Justice and Policy of the War with America, &c., in a Letter from a Gentleman in the Country to a Member of Parliament (London: T. Cadell, 1776). Hamowy regards Remarks as ‘one of the most measured of the published rebuttals’ (‘Two Whig Views of the American Revolution’, p. 160). 21. Hamowy considers that ‘a handsome government stipend’, awarded to Ferguson on 23 January 1776, motivated Ferguson to write a pro-government pamphlet (ibid., p. 163). However, it was not only the stipend but also the great sensation caused by the publication of Price’s Observations (‘Several thousand copies were sold within a few days of its publication’, ibid., p. 160) that inspired Ferguson to write his pamphlet against Price’s Observations. 22. Ferguson, Remarks, p. 2. 23. Price, Observations, pp. 6–7 (original emphases). 24. Ferguson, Remarks, p. 7. 25. Ibid., p. 4. See C. Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws (1748), ed. and trans. A. M. Cohler, B. C. Miller and H. S. Stone (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 155–6. 26. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzbeger, p. 160. Since Pocock’s The Machiavellian Moment, others have argued that Ferguson was greatly influenced by civic humanism. See the recent work of M. Geuna, ‘Republicanism and Commercial Society in the Scottish Enlightenment: The Case of Adam Ferguson’, in M. van Gelderen and Q. Skinner (eds), Republicanism: A Shared European Heritage, 2 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002) vol. 2, pp. 177–96, and the essay by F. Oz-Salzberger, ‘Scots, Germans, Republic and Commerce’, vol. 2, pp. 197–226. 27. Ferguson, Remarks, p. 14. 28. Ibid., p. 13. 29. Price, Observations, p. 19. See also, Ferguson, Remarks, p. 17. 30. Ibid., p. 44. 31. Ibid., p. 31. 32. Price, Observations, p. 70. 33. Ibid., p. 71. 34. Ferguson, Remarks, pp. 22–3. 35. Ibid., p. 23. 36. Ibid., pp. 58–9. 37. Ibid., p. 58. 38. Sher, Church and University in the Scottish Enlightenment, p. 272; see also pp. 206–11. 39. A. Ferguson, A Sermon Preached in the Ersh Language to His Majesty’s First Highland Regiment of Foot, Commanded by Lord John Murray, at their Cantonment at Camberwell, on the 18th Day of December 1745 (London, A. Millar, 1746). 40. Sher, Church and University in the Scottish Enlightenment, p. 273.

200 41. 42. 43. 44. 45.

46. 47.

48.

49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55.

56.

57. 58. 59.

Notes to pages 77–80 See Price, Observations, pp. 104–8. Ferguson, Remarks, p. 60. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 1, p. 156. ‘We cannot perceive at all sympathetic feeling towards America in Ferguson’s writings’, Tanaka, ‘Adam Ferguson on America and Civilized Society’, p. 220. It was on 2 December 1777 that the information was conveyed to the King. See C. R. Ritcheson, British Politics and the American Revolution (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press 1954), pp. 233–4. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 1, p. 166. For the history of the Carlisle Commission, see Ritcheson, British Politics and the American Revolution, pp. 258–86; A. S. Brown, ‘The Impossible Dream: The North Ministry, The Structure of Politics, and Conciliation’ in L. S. Kaplan (ed.), The American Revolution and ‘A Candid World’ (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1977), pp. 17–39. Regarding Ferguson’s commitment to the Commission, see J. B. Fagg, ‘An “Ingenious Literary Production”: Adam Ferguson and the Carlisle Commission Manifesto’, Scotia: Interdisciplinary Journal of Scottish Studies, 24 (2000), pp. 1–14. ‘Proceedings of the British Commissioners at Philadelphia, 1778–9. Partly in Ferguson’s hand’, MS, Edinburgh University Library, Dc.1.68. Along with the Edinburgh University Library manuscript, there remain two additional sets of Proceedings of the Carlisle Commission, one in the Castle Howard Archives, the other in the British Library. For more information, see Y. Amoh, D. Lingley and H. Aoki, ‘Introduction’, in ‘Proceedings of the British Commissioners at Philadelphia, 1778–9: Partly in Ferguson’s Hand’, ed. Y. Amoh, D. Lingley and H. Aoki (preliminary version), The Kakenhi Supplemental Project Research Report (Kochi: Kobun, 2007). The section of the ‘Proceedings’ referred to as ‘Orders and Instructions’ is also contained in S. E. Morison (ed.), Sources and Documents Illustrating the American Revolution, 1764–1788, and the Formation of the Federal Constitution, 2nd edn (London: Oxford University Press, 1929), pp. 186–203. ‘Proceedings of the British Commissioners’, Edinburgh University Library, Dc.1.68, pp. 32–3. Ibid., p. 33. Ibid., p. 31. Ibid., pp. 36–7. Ibid., p. 71. Ibid., p. 86. Ibid., pp. 170–8. At the bottom of the ‘Manifesto’ is signed ‘By their Excellencies [namely, Carlisle, Clinton and Eden] Command. Adam Ferguson, Secretary’. For detailed analysis of the ‘Manifesto’, see Fagg, ‘An “Ingenious Literary Production”’. ‘Proceedings of the British Commissioners’, p. 170. As secretary, Ferguson was charged with disseminating the document and he was, therefore, busy with the printing of several hundred copies in English and German. See also Fagg, ‘An “Ingenious Literary Production”’, p. 5. ‘Proceedings of the British Commissioners’, p. 172. Ibid., p. 173. Probably John Witherspoon. See above, pp. 73–4.

Notes to pages 80–3

201

60. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 1, pp. 201–2. 61. E. Burke, ‘Speech at Bristol Previous to the Election 6 September 1780’, in E. Burke, The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, ed. W. M. Elofson with J. A. Woods, 9 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), vol. 3, p. 633. 62. T. Paine, ‘The Crisis Number VI’, in T. Paine, Collected Writings, ed. E. Foner (New York: The Library of America, 1995), p. 181. 63. Ibid., p. 182. Paine criticized Ferguson by name. See also Fagg, ‘An “Ingenious Literary Production”’, pp. 6–7. 64. The ‘Memorial respecting the measures to be pursued on the present immediate prospect of a final separation of the American colonys from Great Britain’ (MS, Edinburgh University Library, Dc.1.42, ff. 417–21) was first published in Amoh, ‘Adam Ferguson and the American Revolution’, pp. 81–7, later in Ferguson, Collection of Essays, pp. 302–6, and in The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, pp. 556–60. 65. ‘Memorial’, in Collection of Essays, pp. 302–3; and The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 556. 66. In the ‘Memorial’, Ferguson does not elaborate the economic details of his mercantilist assumptions. After all, in the Essay he wrote that he was not much conversant in ‘speculations on commerce and wealth’ (ed. Oz-Salzburger, p. 140). 67. ‘Memorial’, in Collection of Essays, pp. 304–5; and The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 558. 68. Ibid., in Collection of Essays, p. 305; and The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 558. 69. The ‘Memorial’ referred not only to the French intervention in the war but also to that of the Spanish. Spain entered the war on the side of France in April 1779. Therefore, the ‘Memorial’ was written after that time. Ferguson and the commissioners landed at Plymouth on 19 December 1778. See Fagg, ‘Biographical Introduction’, p. liv. 70. ‘Memorial’, in Collection of Essays, p. 302; and The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 556. 71. Ibid., in Collection of Essays, p. 306; and The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 559. 72. I. R. Christie, ‘The Yorkshire Association, 1780–4: A Study in Political Organization’, The Historical Journal, 3:2 (1960), pp. 144–61, on p. 144. 73. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 1, p. 233. 74. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 289. 75. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 292. 76. Ferguson died on 22 February 1816. 77. See Fagg, ‘Biographical Introduction’, pp. lxxxii–lxxxvii. 78. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, pp. 336–7. 79. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 340. 80. On the French translation of the Roman Republic and Démeunier, see ibid., vol. 2, p. 342, nn. 14, 15. 81. Ferguson, Principles of Moral and Political Science, rpt, intro. J. Hecht, 2 vols (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 1995), vol. 2, pp. 472–3 (original emphasis). 82. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 471. 83. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 473. 84. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 473. 85. Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 474–5.

202

Notes to pages 83–6

86. The watermark of the paper, 1803 (Edinburgh University Library, Dc.1.42, ff. 1–8) and 1799 (ff. 9–36), shows that ‘Of Statesmen and Warriors’ was written after the Treaty of Amiens in March 1802. This essay may be found in Ferguson, Collection of Essays, pp. 26–38, and in The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, pp. 33–46. 87. ‘Of Statesmen and Warriors’, in Collection of Essays, p. 29; and The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 35. 88. Ibid., in Collection of Essays, pp. 30–1; and The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 36. 89. The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 419. 90. The date is inferred from the watermark, 1806. ‘Of the French Revolution with its Actual and Still Impending Consequences in Europe’ was first published by Y. Kubo in Kwansei Gakuin University Annual Studies, 11 (1962), pp. 165–73. The essay may be found in Ferguson, Collection of Essays, pp. 132–40; and The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, pp. 133–41. 91. ‘Of the French Revolution’, in Collection of Essays, p. 132; and The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 134. 92. Ibid., in Collection of Essays, p. 134; and The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 135. 93. Ibid., in Collection of Essays, p. 135; and The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 135. 94. Kettler writes that ‘Ferguson’s animosity toward the French Revolution rested primarily on the threat which he believed it posed to the security of England and to the peace of Europe’, Kettler, The Social and Political Thought of Adam Ferguson, p. 93. 95. ‘Of the French Revolution’, in Collection of Essays, p. 138; and The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p 137. 96. Ibid., in Collection of Essays, p. 135; and The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p 135. 97. On 20 September 1792, near the village of Valmy, in northern France, the French artillery defeated the invading Prussian army. The victory at the Battle of Valmy encouraged the French revolutionary troops. 98. Ibid., in Collection of Essays, p. 139; and The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 138. 99. Ferguson also feared the appearance of a dictator in a republic across the Atlantic. See above, pp. 76–7, and Ferguson, Remarks, pp. 22–4. 100. ‘Of the French Revolution’, in Collection of Essays, p. 140; and The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 139. 101. Ibid., in Collection of Essays, p. 139; and The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 138. 102. Adam Smith had expected that ‘Should the war in America drag out through another campaign, the American militia may become in every respect a match for that standing army, of which the valour appeared, in the last war, at least not inferior to that of the hardiest veterans of France and Spain’ (Smith, Wealth of Nations, vol. 2, p. 701). 103. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 26. 104. Compare Ferguson’s essay ‘Of the French Revolution’ (see above, pp. 84–5) with Hugh Blair’s ‘On the Love of Our Country (Preached 18th April 1793, on the day of a National Fast appointed by Government, on occasion of the War with the French Republic)’, in H. Blair, Sermons, 5 vols (London, 1777–1801), vol. 5, pp. 124–51. Blair writes, ‘We have beheld the throne and the altar overthrown together; and nothing but a wretched ruin left, where once a stately fabric stood’ (p. 135). For Alexander Carlyle’s fast-day sermon, see Sher, Church and University in the Scottish Enlightenment, pp. 209–10.

Notes to pages 87–92

203

6 Kettler, ‘Political Education for Empire and Revolution’ 1.

2. 3.

4.

5. 6.

7. 8. 9.

10.

11. 12. 13.

G. E. Davie, ‘Berkeley, Hume, and the Central Problem of Scottish Philosophy’, in D. F. Norton, N. Capaldi and Wade L. Robinson (eds), McGill Hume Studies (San Diego, CA: Austin Press, 1979), pp. 43–62. M. Freeden, Ideologies and Political Theory: A Conceptual Approach (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996). Kettler, Adam Ferguson: His Social and Political Thought (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2005), a reprint of The Social and Political Thought of Adam Ferguson, with a new introduction and afterword; D. Kettler, ‘Sociology of Knowledge and Moral Philosophy: The Place of Traditional Problems in the Formation of Mannheim’s Thought’, Political Science Quarterly, 82 (September 1967), pp. 399–426. D. Kettler, ‘History and Theory in the Scottish Enlightenment’, Journal of Modern History, 48 (March 1976), pp. 95–100; D. Kettler, ‘Linking the Philosophical and Political’, Political Studies, 24 (September 1976), pp. 334–8; D. Kettler, ‘History and Theory in Ferguson’s Essay on the History of Civil Society: A Reconsideration’, Political Theory, 5 (November 1977), pp. 437–60. D. Kettler, ‘Ferguson’s Principles: Constitution in Permanence’, Studies in Burke and His Time, 19 (1978), pp. 208–22. A. Ferguson, Lectures on Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy, MS, Papers of Professor Adam Ferguson (1723–1816), Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division, Dc.1.84. Compare C. Loader and D. Kettler, Karl Mannheim’s Sociology as Political Education (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers 2002). See Kettler, ‘History and Theory in Ferguson’s Essay’, pp. 455–6, 459, nn. 31–2. W. A. Brown, Empire or Independence: A Study in the Failure of Reconciliation, 1774– 1783, new edn (Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, 1966). Contrary to some characterizations of Ferguson’s position, which draw on a misidentified pamphlet against Price (Remarks on Dr. Price’s Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty (London: G. Kearsley, 1776)), Ferguson’s proposal for major policy concessions without substantial political change anticipated the government’s version of a ‘Canadian’ settlement, authorized when it was much too late and under the duress of the defeat at Saratoga and the subsequent imminence of the French alliance. See Kettler, Adam Ferguson, p. 77, n. 51. The present emphasis on the American case leaves open the question of Ferguson’s interest in Indian affairs, observable not only in his unexpectedly frequent references to the subject in the Essay but also in his application in 1773 ‘for an important position relating to the government of India’. See Kettler, Adam Ferguson, p. 71, n. 17. Ferguson corresponded for decades with his former student and later benefactor John Macpherson, who was Warren Hasting’s short-term successor. A complete set of reading notes for all of Ferguson’s lectures in the first and last parts of his course (1775–85: lectures 1–34; 85–103) is available at: . R. D. Cummings, Human Nature and History (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1969). See in particular Hamowy, The Scottish Enlightenment and the Theory of Spontaneous Order. Kalyvas and Katznelson, ‘Adam Ferguson Returns’.

204

Notes to pages 92–116

14. C. Schmitt, The Concept of the Political (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1976). 15. B. Buchan, ‘Civilisation, Sovereignty and War: The Scottish Enlightenment and International Relations’, International Relations, 20:2 (2006), pp. 175–92. 16. R. Vernon, ‘Unintended Consequences’, Political Theory, 7:1 (February 1979), pp. 57– 73. 17. In particular, see D. Hume, ‘Whether the British Government Inclines more to Absolute Monarchy, or to a Republic’, in Essays, Moral, Political and Literary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1963); D. Forbes, Hume’s Philosophical Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), pp. 180–1. 18. A. Smith, ‘Letter to the Edinburgh Review’, in Essays on Philosophical Subjects, ed. W. P. D. Wightman and J. C. Bryce (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980; rpt Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982), pp. 242–56. 19. Kettler, Adam Ferguson, pp. 23–5, 86–7. 20. C. Tilly, Why? (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006). 21. On the importance of the metaphor of ‘place’ in Ferguson’s thought, see Kettler, ‘History and Theory in Ferguson’s Essay’, pp. 439–44. 22. Kalyvas and Katznelson, ‘Adam Smith Returns’. See also Kettler, ‘History and Theory in Ferguson’s Essay’. 23. Ferguson, Roman Republic (1856 edn), p. 104 (II.III). 24. A passage often cited in support of the ‘spontaneous order’ interpretation notes that political establishments ‘are indeed the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design’. Yet Ferguson credits the conclusion to the Memoirs of Cardinal de Retz, who is recalling stories of political intrigue. See the Afterword in Kettler, Adam Ferguson, pp. 317–18. 25. A. Pope, An Essay on Man, in A. Pope, The Works of Alexander Pope (1871), collected Rt Hon. J. W. Croker, intro. and notes Rev. W. Elwin, 10 vols (New York: Gordian Press, 1967), vol. 2, p. 423 (Epistle III, VI.303–4). 26. Kettler, ‘Montesquieu on Love: Notes on the Persian Letters’, American Political Science Review, 58 (September 1964), pp. 658–61.

7 McDaniel, ‘Ferguson, Roman History and the Threat of Military Government’ 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

6.

Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 108. On the Scottish inquiries into the ‘progress of society in Europe’, see Pocock, Barbarism and Religion, Volume 2. A. Ferguson to W. Strahan, 12 October 1782, in The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 288. Ferguson, Roman Republic (1783 edn), vol. 1, p. 4. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 3. Ferguson, Roman Republic (1799 edn), vol. 5, p. 155. Compare Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome, trans. M. Grant, rev. edn (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971), p. 37: ‘[T]he only possible cure for the distracted country had been government by one man’. See, for example, D. Hume, ‘Of the Populousness of Ancient Nations’, in Essays, Moral, Political and Literary, ed. E. F. Miller (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 1985), pp. 377– 464; A. Smith, Lectures on Jurisprudence, ed. R. L. Meek, D. D. Raphael and P. Stein (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978; rpt Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 1982), esp.

Notes to pages 116–19

7. 8.

9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.

17. 18.

19.

20.

21. 22. 23.

205

pp. 196–9. For a general explanation of Smith’s account of the advantages that modern commercial societies possessed over ancient civic republics, see I. Hont and M. Ignatieff, ‘Needs and Justice in the Wealth of Nations: an Introductory Essay’, in Hont and Ignatieff (eds), Wealth and Virtue, pp. 1–44. Robertson, The Scottish Enlightenment and the Militia Issue; Sher, ‘Adam Ferguson, Adam Smith, and the Problem of National Defense’. The British debate of the early years of the Seven Years War revolved around the concept of national ‘military spirit’ and involved a number of participants. See especially J. Brown, An Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times (London, 1757), and R. Wallace, Characteristics of the Present Political State of Great Britain (London, 1758), esp. Part V: ‘Of the National Genius and Capacity for Self-Defence’, pp. 193–256. Ferguson, Reflections, p. 53. Compare Fletcher, A Discourse of Government with relation to Militias, esp. p. 8. Smith, Lectures on Jurisprudence, pp. 236–8. Smith, Wealth of Nations, vol. 2, pp. 706–7; Ferguson, Reflections, pp. 25–8. Ferguson to W. Pulteney, 1 December 1769, in The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 1, p. 88. Ferguson, Remarks, p. 23. Ferguson, ‘Of the French Revolution’, in The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, pp. 133– 41. S. Pufendorf, An Introduction to the History of the Principal Kingdoms and States of Europe (1682–6), 10th edn (Dublin, 1729), pp. 22–3. For a classic British statement of the dangers posed by France immediately after Utrecht, see R. Steele, The Crisis: or, A Discourse Representing, from the most Authentic Records, the Just Causes of the Late Happy Revolution (London, 1714), pp. 30–2. For the revival of similar fears during the War of the Austrian Succession, see E. G. Gould, The Persistence of Empire: British Political Culture in the Age of the American Revolution (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), pp. 3–14, 30–4. On the French arguments levelled against any resumption of Louis XIV’s military adventures, see I. Hont, Jealousy of Trade: International Competition and the Nation State in Historical Perspective (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005), esp. pp. 22–37. J. Trenchard and T. Gordon, Cato’s Letters; or, Essays on Liberty, Civil and Religious, and other Important Subjects, 5th edn, 4 vols (London, 1748), vol. 3, p. 285. Ferguson signalled the extent of his intellectual debt to Montesquieu in his Essay: see Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 66. In the ‘Advertisement’ to the Roman Republic, he praised Montesquieu’s earlier Considerations for ‘collecting into general points, what every reader may be pleased to observe in detail’, Ferguson, Roman Republic (1799 edn), vol. 1, p. xxiii. See P. A. Rahe, ‘The Book that Never Was: Montesquieu’s Considerations on the Romans in Historical Context’, History of Political Thought, 26:1 (2005), pp. 43–89; Hont, Jealousy of Trade, pp. 28–9. C. Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and their Decline (1734), ed. and trans. D. Lowenthal (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 1965), pp. 92–4. Ibid., p. 122. Ibid., pp. 171, 150. Ibid., p. 152. For further elaboration of Montesquieu’s critique of democratic republicanism, see V. B. Sullivan, ‘Against the Despotism of a Republic: Montesquieu’s Correction

206

24. 25. 26.

27. 28. 29.

30.

31.

32. 33. 34. 35. 36.

37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51.

Notes to pages 119–24 of Machiavelli in the Name of the Security of the Individual’, History of Political Thought, 27:2 (2006), pp. 263–89. Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, pp. 69–70. Ibid., p. 69. On Montesquieu’s demand for small ‘regular troops’ in the modern monarchy, see his Réflexions sur la monarchie universelle en Europe, in C. Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Oeuvres Complètes de Montesquieu, ed. C. P. Courtney and F. Weil, 2 vols (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2000), vol. 2, p. 342. Also see the characterization of monarchy contained in Montesquieu’s Persian Letters: ‘Power can never be divided equally between prince and people: it is too difficult to keep the balance. The power must necessarily decrease on one side and increase on the other, but usually the ruler is at an advantage, being in control of the armed forces’, C. Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Persian Letters (1721), 2nd edn, trans. C. J. Betts (Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1993), p. 187. Montesquieu, Considerations on the Causes, p. 146. Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, p. 224. J.-J. Rousseau, ‘Discourse on Political Economy’, in ‘The Social Contract’ and Other Later Political Writings, ed. and trans. V. Gourevitch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 28–9. Abbé G. T. F. Raynal, A Philosophical and Political History of the Settlements and Trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies, trans. J. O. Justamond, 8 vols (London: Strahan & Cadell, 1783), vol. 8, p. 155. Marquis J. F. Chastellux, An Essay on Public Happiness, investigating the State of Human Nature, under each of its Particular Appearances, through the Several Periods of its History, to the Present Times (London, 1774), pp. 96–9, 237. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 258. Ibid., pp. 63–73. Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, pp. 27–8, 59–66; Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 71. Ibid., pp. 71, 257. Ibid., pp. 241–3. Compare J.-F. de Saint-Lambert, ‘Honneur’ and ‘Législateur’, in D. Diderot and J. le Rond d’Alembert (eds), Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, par une société des gens de lettres, 17 vols (Paris, 1751–61), vol. 8, pp. 288–91, vol. 9, pp. 357–63. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, pp. 241–6. Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, pp. 70, 330. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, pp. 128, 182. Ibid., pp. 126–7. Ibid., p. 128. Ibid., pp. 128, 145. Ibid., p. 193. Ibid., p. 146. Ibid., pp. 144–5. Ibid., p. 145. Ibid., p. 99. Ibid., p. 219. Ibid., p. 146. Ibid., p. 256. Ibid., p. 148.

Notes to pages 124–9

207

52. For examples of Ferguson’s continuing preoccupation with Britain’s vulnerability to foreign conquest, see Ferguson to J. Macpherson, 27 July 1779; Ferguson to J. Macpherson, 18 December 1779; Ferguson to W. Eden, 2 January 1780; in The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 1, pp. 218–19, 222–5, 232–6. 53. Ferguson to W. Strahan, 15 July 1782, in ibid., vol. 2, p. 284. 54. For an overview of these debates see P. J. Marshall, ‘Empire and Authority in the Later Eighteenth Century’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 15:1 (1987), pp. 105–22; P. J. Marshall, ‘A Nation Defined by Empire, 1755–1776’ in A. Grant and K. J. Stringer (eds), Uniting the Kingdom: The Making of British History (Routledge: London, 1995), pp. 208–22; H. V. Bowen, ‘British Conceptions of Global Empire 1756–83’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 26:3 (1998), pp. 1–27. For general discussion see L. Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707 – 1837, 3rd edn (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005), pp. 101–45. 55. Ferguson, Roman Republic (1799 edn), vol. 1, p. 378. 56. Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 300–1. 57. Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 102–3. 58. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 119. 59. Ibid., vol. 3, p. 36, n. 60. Ferguson, Reflections, p. 38. Also see Ferguson’s cautions against British aggression in the 1790s: Ferguson to J. Edgar, 23 September 1795, in The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 372. 61. Ferguson, Roman Republic (1799 edn), vol. 1, p. 345. 62. Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 147–8. 63. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 355. 64. Ibid., vol. 5, p. 145. 65. On the ‘ideological’ conception of the British Empire as ‘Protestant, commercial, maritime, and free’, see D. Armitage, The Ideological Origins of the British Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); and D. Armitage, ‘The British Conception of Empire in the Eighteenth Century’, in F. Bosbach and H. Hiery (eds), Imperium / Empire / Reich: Ein Konzept politischer Herrschaft im deutsch-britischen Vergleich: An Anglo-German Comparison of a Concept of Rule (München: Prince Albert Studies, 1999), pp. 91–108. 66. Ferguson, Roman Republic (1799 edn), vol. 2, p. 319. On Montesquieu and Hume, see J. Robertson, ‘Universal Monarchy and the Liberties of Europe: David Hume’s Critique of an English Whig Doctrine’, in N. Phillipson and Q. Skinner (eds), Political Discourse in Early Modern Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp. 349–73. 67. Ferguson, Roman Republic (1799 edn), vol. 4, pp. 139–40. 68. Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 390, 396. 69. Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 388–417. On ancient agrarian laws in early modern political thought in general, see E. Nelson, The Greek Tradition in Republican Political Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). 70. Ferguson, Roman Republic (1799 edn), vol. 2, p. 59. Compare Hume’s analysis of the progress of ‘enormous monarchies’ in D. Hume, ‘Of the Balance of Power’, in Political Writings, ed. K. Haakonssen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p. 160. 71. Ferguson, Roman Republic (1799 edn), vol. 2, p. 146. 72. Ibid., vol. 5, pp. 155, 408. 73. Ibid., vol. 5, pp. 138–9. 74. Ibid., vol. 5, pp. 155, 338.

208

Notes to pages 129–33

75. 76. 77. 78.

Ibid., vol. 5, p. 404. Ibid., vol. 5, p. 244. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 210. For example, see Raynal, A Philosophical and Political History, vol. 8, pp. 155–61. Unlike Montesquieu and Ferguson, however, Raynal and Diderot expressed hostility to the ‘odious distinction’ of nobility in modern monarchies, ibid., vol. 8, p. 229. 79. Ferguson to W. Pulteney, 7 November 1769, in The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 1, p. 83. 80. Ferguson, ‘Of the French Revolution’, in The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 136. Compare J. Mackintosh, Vindiciae Gallicae: Defence of the French Revolution and its English Admirers (London, 1791), pp. 55–6, 285–91. 81. ‘Of the French Revolution’, in The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 137.

8 Meyer, ‘Ferguson’s “Appropriate Stile” in Combining History and Science’ 1. 2.

3. 4.

5. 6.

7.

8.

9.

Lehmann, Adam Ferguson and the Beginnings of Modern Sociology, pp. 26ff. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment, pp. 499–501. Pocock and Mark Salber Phillips recently incorporated Ferguson’s work into their histories of historiography. In contrast to Phillips, Pocock rejects the anachronistic term of ‘conjectural history’ for Ferguson’s method and attributes to him a ‘big bang theory of history’. See Pocock, Barbarism and Religion, Volume 2, pp. 330–45, esp. p. 333; and Phillips, Society and Sentiment, pp. 179–84. ‘Of History and its Appropriate Stile’, in The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, pp. 19–31. ‘The science of natural history’ was in transition between the simple classification of the facts of nature (res naturae) and a physical delineation of natural phenomena. See P. R. Sloan, ‘Natural History’, in R. C. Olby, G. N. Cantor and J. R. R. Christie (eds), Companion to the History of Modern Science (London: Routledge, 1996), pp. 295–313. A. Grafton, What was History? The Art of History in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 28. Thus, the title of Georg Iggers’s essay poses the heretical question: ‘Did History Really Become a Science Earlier in Germany than in Other European Countries?’, in W. Küttler, J. Rüsen and E. Schulin (eds), Geschichtsdiskurs: Anfänge modernen historischen Denkens, 5 vols (Frankfurt: Fischer, 1994), vol. 2, pp. 73–85. See E. Fuchs, ‘Provincializing Europe: Historiography as a Transcultural Concept’, in E. Fuchs and B. Stuchtey (eds), Across Cultural Borders: Historiography in Global Perspective (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 1–26, esp. p. 5. J. K. Wright, ‘History and Historicism’, in T. M. Porter and D. Ross (eds), The Modern Social Sciences, The Cambridge History of Science, vol. 7 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 113–30, on p. 114. See Wilhelm Dilthey’s groundbreaking study, ‘Das achtzehnte Jahrhundert und die geschichtliche Welt’, in W. Dilthey, Gesammelte Schriften. Studien zur Geschichte des deutschen Geistes, 30 vols (Leipzig and Berlin: Teubner, 1927), vol. 3, pp. 209–75. Meinecke formulated the idea precisely: ‘Historism [historicism] is for the time being nothing other than the application on historical life of the new principles of life developed in the great German movement that started with Leibniz and ended with Goethe’s death. This movement continued a general occidental movement, and the crown fell to the German

Notes to pages 133–4

10.

11.

12.

13. 14. 15.

16.

17.

18.

19.

209

mind’ [trans. by the author, A. M.], F. Meinecke, Die Entstehung des Historismus, 2 vols (Berlin: Oldenbourg, 1936), vol. 1, p. 2. Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 281–8. Vincenzo Merolle attributes a form of proto-historicism to Ferguson. See his ‘Introductory Essay: Ferguson’s Political Philosophy’, in The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, pp. xi–lxxxvi, on p. xiii. ‘Ferguson had none of the power and imagination needed to give his significant approaches on historiographical thinking and unbiased evaluation of historical events the fully individual vitality they needed. This became truly apparent in 1783, when he published his History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic’ [trans. A. M.], Meinecke, Die Entstehung des Historismus, vol. 1, pp. 286ff. ‘To those who want to acquire a knowledge of Roman history the book is worth nothing’, in The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 323. B. G. Niebuhr, Vorträge über alte Geschichte an der Universität Bonn gehalten, ed. M. Niebuhr, 3 vols (Berlin, 1847), vol. 1, p. 54. Some years ago, Peter Hanns Reill refuted the claim that Niebuhr presented the first concise realization of the historical-critical method: ‘Barthold Georg Niebuhr and the Enlightenment Tradition’, German Studies Review, 3 (1980), pp. 9–26. Meinecke, Die Entstehung des Historismus, vol. 2, p. 545 [trans. A. M.]; see also Dilthey, ‘Das achtzehnte Jahrhundert’, pp. 269ff. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 8. T. P. Peardon, The Transition in English Historical Writing, 1760–1830 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1933), pp. 10–11. Little is known about the context of this work, written with the encouragement of Carlton J. H. Hayes, but see H. T. Parker, ‘Hayes, Carlton Joseph Huntley’, in L. Boia (ed.), Great Historians of the Modern Age: An International Dictionary (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), pp. 738–9. Despite inadequacies, Peardon’s survey remains the most detailed overview of Anglo-Saxon historiography (c. 1800). D. Stewart, An Account of the Life and Writings of Adam Smith, in Smith, Essays on Philosophical Subjects, pp. 269–351, on p. 293. See also M. Schmidt, ‘Dugald Stewart, “Conjectural History” and the Decline of Enlightenment Historical Writing in the 1790s’, in U. Broich, H. T. Dickinson, E. Hellmuth and M. Schmidt (eds), Reactions to Revolutions: The 1790s and their Aftermath (Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2007), pp. 231–62. A. F. Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Honorable Henry Home of Kames, one of the Senators of the College of Justice, and one of the Lords Commissioners of Justiciary in Scotland. Containing Sketches of the Progress of Literature and General Improvement in Scotland during the Greater Part of the Eighteenth Century, 2 vols (Edinburgh, 1807), vol. 2, p. 200. ‘In such inquiries, the detached facts which travels and voyages afford us, may frequently serve as land-marks to our speculations; and sometimes our conclusions a priori, may tend to confirm the credibility of facts, which, on superficial view, appeared to be doubtful or incredible’, Stewart, An Account of the Life and Writings of the Adam Smith, p. 293. D. Stewart, ‘Dissertation: Exhibiting the Progress of Metaphysical, Ethical and Political Philosophy since the Revival of Letters in Europe’, in D. Stewart, The Collected Works of Dugald Stewart, ed. Sir W. Hamilton, 10 vols (Edinburgh: Constable 1854), vol. 1, pp. 384–5. On Stewart’s significance for questioning ‘the hypothetical and analogical methods in science’, see R. Olson, Scottish Philosophy and British Science, 1750–1880: A Study in the Foundation of the Victorian Scientific Style (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975), pp. 94ff.

210

Notes to pages 135–7

20. A. F. Tytler’s Lectures on Universal History, 1800–1801, pres. by John Grant, Esq. MS, Edinburgh University Library, Dc. 6.115. 21. Tytler, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Honorable Henry Home, vol. 2, p. 112. 22. Buckle writes, for example, that all major eighteenth-century Scottish authors ‘regarded such inductions as unimportant in themselves, and as only valuable insofar as they supplied the premises for another deductive investigation’, H. T. Buckle, Introduction to the History of Civilization in England (1857–1861), ed. J. M. Robertson (London, 1904), p. 798. 23. G. G. Iggers, The German Conception of History: The National Tradition of Historical Thought from Herder to the Present (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1968), p. 111. The relevant work of Droysen is Die Erhebung der Geschichte zum Rang einer Wissenschaft [The Elevation of History to the Rank of a Science], in J. G. Droysen, Historik, ed. P. Leyh (Stuttgart: Frommann und Holzboog, 1977), pp. 451–69. 24. On differing Enlightenment conceptions of mankind, see A. Meyer, ‘The Experience of Human Diversity and the Search for Unity: Conceptions of Mankind in the Late Enlightenment’, Studi Settecenteschi, 21 (2001), pp. 245–64, esp. pp. 255ff. 25. See E. Fuchs, ‘Positivistischer Szientismus in vergleichender Perspektive: Zum nomothetischen Wissenschaftsverständnis in der englischen, amerikanischen und deutschen Geschichtsschreibung’, in W. Küttler, J. Rüsen, and E. Schulin (eds), Geschichtsdiskurs: Die Epoche der Historisierung, 5 vols (Frankfurt: Fischer, 1997), vol. 3, pp. 396–423. 26. Burke was targeting Leopold von Ranke, even though Ranke certainly played less of a role in promoting historicism as a new paradigm than did his successors, P. Burke, ‘Ranke als Gegenrevolutionär’, in W. J. Mommsen (ed.), Leopold von Ranke und die moderne Geschichtswissenschaft (Stuttgart: Klett Cotta, 1988), pp. 189–200, on p. 190. 27. As for example in William Whewell’s History of Inductive Sciences, from the Earliest to the Present Time, 3 vols (London, 1837). See D. Kelley, ‘The History of Ideas in the British Tradition’, Storia della Storiografia, 41 (2002), pp. 3–19, on p. 15. 28. For a critical examination of this system of categorizing the history of philosophy, see H.-J. Engfer, Empirismus versus Rationalismus? Kritik eines philosophiegeschichtlichen Schemas (Paderborn: Schöningh, 1996), pp. 312ff. 29. Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, p. xvi. 30. See Christopher Fox’s introductory essay, ‘Introduction. How to Prepare a Noble Savage: The Spectacle of Human Science’, in C. Fox, R. Porter and R. Wokler (eds), Inventing Human Sciences: Eighteenth Century Domains (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1995), pp. 1–30, on p. 2. On the Scottish contribution regarding the connection of ‘natural’ and ‘moral philosophy’, see Olson, Scottish Philosophy and British Science, p. 12. 31. Not until the Enquiry (1748) can one find directions on the methods of the ‘science of man’, Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, pp. 80ff. 32. The connection of history and anthropology as ‘archetypical’ for the ‘Human Sciences’ is investigated in A. Pagden, ‘Eighteenth-Century Anthropology and the “History of Mankind”’, in D. R. Kelley (ed.), History and the Disciplines: The Reclassification of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 1997), pp. 223– 35, on p. 231. 33. Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, pp. 83ff. 34. N. Phillipson, Hume (New York: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1989), p. 4.

Notes to pages 137–9

211

35. Hume distinguishes between history (as ‘knowledge’) and other ‘sciences’ in ‘Of the Study of History’, in Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary, ed. T. H. Green and T. H. Grose, 2 vols (London: Longmans, Green, 1875), vol. 2, pp. 388–91. 36. Hume leaves no doubt about how this axiom arises, stating: ‘It is universally acknowledged that there is a great uniformity among the actions of men, in all nations and ages …’, Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, p. 83. 37. Ernst Cassirer concedes Hume a special role in the ‘conquest of the historical world’: ‘he does not describe history as a constant development; but he enjoys its restless change, the view of the ‘becoming’, in and of itself. He does not look for any “reason” in this “becoming” and does not believe in it’, E. Cassirer, Die Philosophie der Aufklärung, 3rd edn (Tübingen: Mohr, 1973), p. 302 [trans. A. M.]. 38. ‘Hume’s philosophical history has gaps and inconsistencies and hesitancies’, Forbes, Hume’s Philosophical Politics, p. 309. See also Meek, Social Science and the Ignoble Savage, p. 30. 39. Even if the relation of history and philosophy in Hume’s work must be interpreted very closely, as Donald Livingston claims convincingly, the epistemological status of both subjects remains hierarchical: history is the touchstone for philosophy. See his Philosophical Melancholy and Delirium, pp. 210–46. 40. See R. Olson, ‘The Human Sciences’, in T. M. Porter and D. Ross (eds), EighteenthCentury Science, The Cambridge History of Science, vol. 4 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 437–62. 41. On the significance of Buffon’s development model, see P. H. Reill, Vitalizing Nature in the Enlightenment (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005), pp. 10ff. 42. Hume was not interested in ‘humanity’ as a scientifically fathomable historical or normative entity. See G. Deleuze, Empirisme et Subjectivité. Essai sur la nature humaine selon Hume, 4th edn (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1988), pp. 23ff. 43. ‘So history is a goldmine for the science of human nature’, M. Frasca-Spada, ‘The Science and Conversation of Human Nature’, in W. Clark, J. Golinski and S. Schaffer (eds), The Sciences in Enlightened Europe (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1999), pp. 218–45, on p. 222. 44. ‘The Method or Arrangement in Natural or descriptive History is in a certain degree Arbitrary & may be varyed to facilitate comprehension or Memory: but in Science it is fixed in Nature And cannot be varyed without frustrating the very Purpose for which it is instituted’. See ‘Of the Sciences of which the Subject is the Mind’, in The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 190. 45. Institutes of Moral Philosophy. For the use of Students in the College of Edinburgh, 2nd edn (Edinburgh and London, 1773). The short text Analysis of Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy. For the Use of Students in the College of Edinburgh (Edinburgh: A. Kincaid & J. Bell, 1766) is the predecessor of this text. The Institutes, revised and expanded, appeared in 1792 as Principles of Moral and Political Science. 46. Oz-Salzberger, Translating the Enlightenment, pp. 196ff. 47. According to the anonymous reviewer of the second edition in the Edinburgh Magazine and Review, 1 (1773–4), p. 103. 48. Ferguson is also referring directly to ‘Buffon’s Natural History’, Institutes (1773 edn), p. 15. 49. Ibid., pp. 2–3. 50. Ibid., pp. 2–3. 51. In the eighteenth century, the meaning of ‘science’ included epistemological questions; no discipline of learning or knowledge was excluded from the realm of science and

212

52.

53.

54.

55.

56.

57. 58. 59.

60.

61. 62. 63. 64. 65.

Notes to pages 139–41 deemed ‘non-scientific’: ‘[T]he faculty whereby we perceive things and their relations … Science is no other than a series of deductions, or conclusions, which every person, endued with those faculties, may, with a proper degree of attention, see, and draw: and a science; i.e. a formed science, is no more than a system of such conclusions, relating to some one subject, orderly and artfully laid down in words’, E. Chambers, ‘Preface’, in Cyclopaedia: or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, 5th edn (London, 1741–3), vol. 1, p. ix. ‘Collection of facts, in description or narration, constitutes history. General rules, and their applications, to regulate or to explain particulars, constitute science’, Ferguson, Institutes (1773 edn), pp. 2–3. The stimulus for my interpretation comes from works by P. H. Reill, in particular ‘Narration and Structure in Late Eighteenth-Century Historical Thought’, History and Theory, 3 (1986), pp. 286–98. C. J. Kraus, ‘Encyklopädische Ansichten einiger Zweige der Gelehrsamkeit [1789]’, in H. W. Blanke and D. Fleischer (eds), Theoretiker der deutschen Aufklärungshistorie, 2 vols (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann und Holzboog, 1990), vol. 2, pp. 379–96, on p. 380. Two realms of knowledge that Kraus’s teacher, Kant, sought to demarcate. See I. Kant, Anthropologie in pragmatischer Hinsicht, in I. Kant, Werke, ed. W. Weischedel, 10 vols (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1998), vol. 6. On eighteenth-century concepts of anthropology, see J. H. Zammito, Kant, Herder, and the Birth of Anthropology (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2002), p. 7 (on the Scottish background of historical anthropology in Germany, p. 237). ‘Ferguson did not really give us strictly empirical or quantitative science of society with well-defined boundaries because his project is still bound up in the methodologies of the distinctively eighteenth-century disciplines of pneumatics, moral philosophy and politics’, Hill, The Passionate Society, p. 73. Ferguson, Institutes (1773 edn), p. 6. ‘Of History and its Appropriate Stile’, in The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 21. See also Reill, Vitalizing Nature in the Enlightenment, pp. 69–70. ‘In this way formative analogies become prime constituents of scientific abstraction and law-making’, S. Atran, Cognitive Foundations of Natural History: Towards an Anthropology of Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 12. ‘Under this term, of the State of Nature, authors affect to look back to the first ages of man, not without some apparent design to depreciate his nature, by placing his origin in some unfavourable point of view’, Ferguson, Principles (1995 edn), vol. 1, p. 197. Rousseau used the term ‘perfectibilité’ in different writings, though most notably in his work of 1755, Sur l’origine et les fondemens de l’inégalité parmi les hommes. Ferguson, Principles (1995 edn), vol. 1, p. 196. ‘Of History and its Appropriate Stile’, in The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, pp. 19, 28, n. 3. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 8. Dugald Stewart heard Ferguson’s lectures on moral philosophy in Edinburgh, the Institutes serving as the accompanying text. In his own lectures on moral philosophy, delivered in 1785 after succeeding Ferguson, Stewart relied primarily on the works of Thomas Reid, with whom he had studied in Glasgow for one year (1771–2). Stewart’s dependence on Reid – ‘the true philosophical prophet’ – shows that he was closer to the ‘Common Sense’ philosophy than to Hume and Ferguson’s epistemology. Stewart’s biog-

Notes to pages 141–4

66. 67.

68. 69. 70.

71.

72.

73. 74. 75.

76.

77. 78. 79. 80. 81.

213

rapher John Veitch also reaches this conclusion, writing: ‘No pupil ever caught the spirit of a master more fully, or more intelligently appreciated his method of philosophical inquiry’, J. Veitch, ‘Memoir of Dugald Stewart’, in The Collected Works of Dugald Stewart, vol. 10, pp. v–cxv, on p. xxv. As Ferguson warned: ‘We are often tempted into these boundless regions of ignorance or conjecture …’, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p.12. Paul B. Wood sheds light on the development and fractures within Scottish Enlightenment philosophy in ‘The Hagiography of Common Sense: Dugald Stewart’s Account of the Life and Writings of Thomas Reid’, in A. J. Holland (ed.), Philosophy, its History and Historiography (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1985), pp. 305–22, on p. 316. See also P. B. Wood, ‘Dugald Stewart and the Invention of “the Scottish Enlightenment”’, in P. B. Wood (ed.), The Scottish Enlightenment: Essays in Reinterpretation (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2000), pp. 1–36. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 21. Ferguson, Institutes (1773 edn), p. 5. ‘Theory consists in referring particular operations to the principles, or general laws, under which they are comprehended; or in referring particular effects to the causes from which they proceed’, ibid., p. 7. In classical philosophy, ‘hermeneutic probabilism’ functioned as a counter-concept to the claims of ‘necessity and veracity’. I am not aware of literature on this issue as it relates to the Scottish Enlightenment. For similar work on the German Enlightenment, see L. Danneberg, ‘Probabilitas hermeneutica. Zu einem Aspekt der Interpretations-Methodologie in der ersten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts’, Aufklärung, 8 (1994), pp. 27–48. Ferguson, Institutes (1773 edn), p. 8. Somewhat more conciliatory toward Descartes is F. M. A. de Voltaire, Letters Concerning the English Nation (London: Peter Davies, Covent Garden, 1924), pp. 93ff. Ferguson, Institutes (1773 edn), pp. 8–9. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 7. Ibid., p. 9. Ferguson proceeds to explain, ‘[W]e are to take the history from every active being from his conduct in the situation to which he is formed, not from his appearance in any forced or uncommon condition; a wild man therefore caught in the woods, where he had always lived apart from his species, is a singular instance, not a specimen of any general character’, ibid., p. 9. Ferguson alludes here to the dubious methods of natural historians like Lord Monboddo, who sought, throughout Europe, examples of a precivilized state of society. See also J. V. Douthwaite, The Wild Girl, Natural Man, and the Monster. Dangerous Experiments in the Age of the Enlightenment (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2002). As Ferguson wrote: ‘… trace every mode of being to its source; it may be safely affirmed, that the character of man, as he now exists, that the laws of this animal and intellectual system, on which his happiness now depends, deserve our principal study …’, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, pp. 8–9. Ibid., p. 10. Ferguson, Principles (1995 edn), vol. 1, p. 6. Brewer, ‘Conjectural History, Sociology and Social Change in Eighteenth-Century Scotland, p. 26. Ferguson, Principles (1995 edn), vol. 1, p. 2. Kettler interprets Ferguson’s twofold connotation of history as a development of Bacon’s dual use of history in ‘History and Theory in Ferguson’s Essay’, p. 455.

214

Notes to pages 144–8

82. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment, pp. 499ff. 83. Ferguson, Principles (1995 edn), vol. 1, pp. 34ff. 84. O. O’Neill, ‘Practical Reason and Ethics’, in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. E. Craig (London: Routledge, 1998), pp. 613–20, on p. 614. 85. ‘They [the pragmatists] hoped to save philosophy from metaphysical idealism, but also to save moral and religious ideals from empiricist or positivist scepticism’, R. Rorty, ‘Pragmatism’, in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, pp. 633–40, on p. 633. 86. ‘That the birth of man is more painful and hazardous; that the state of his infancy is more helpless, and of longer duration, than is exemplified in the case of any other species, may be ranked with the apparent comparative defects of his animal nature: But this circumstance, we may venture to affirm, like many others of his seeming defects, is of a piece with that superior destination, which remains to be fulfilled in the subsequent history of mankind’, Ferguson, Principles (1995 edn), vol. 1, p. 28. 87. Ferguson’s model had great impact on German ‘popular philosophers’ otherwise marginalized within the current of idealism. See J. van der Zande, ‘Popular Philosophy and the History of Mankind in Eighteenth-Century Germany’, in Storia della Storiografia, 22 (1992), pp. 37–56, on p. 38. 88. Reill reveals as erroneous the critique of the supposedly inadmissible crossing of boundaries in the scientific view of this approach. See ‘Das Problem des Allgemeinen und des Besonderen im geschichtlichen Denken und in den historiographischen Darstellungen des späten 18. Jahrhunderts’, in K. Acham and W. Schulze (eds), Teil und Ganzes (München: Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag, 1990), pp. 141–168, on p. 146.

9 Oz-Salzberger, ‘Ferguson’s Politics of Action’ 1. 2. 3. 4.

5. 6. 7. 8.

9.

Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 199. Ibid., p. 200. Ibid. Modern action theory pursues the cognitive aspects of human action and agency in terms of self-consciousness, governance and intention, in addition to the moral aspects of agency. Ferguson did not engage with the majority of these issues. Intentional action, endowed with moral significance in a broadly Stoic sense, was a departure point, not an object of analysis, of his moral and political philosophy. See D. Davidson, Essays on Actions and Events (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980); C. Ginet, On Action (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); and, for a broad range of contemporary action theory expositions, A. Mele (ed.), The Philosophy of Action (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997). Ferguson, Principles. This point is convincingly made by Kettler in ‘History and Theory in Ferguson’s Essay’. Edinburgh Review, 125 (1867), pp. 48–9. ‘Civic’, used in this essay as an adjective denoting matters pertaining to the public-minded civilian, is not intended as a derivative of Hans Baron’s controversial concept of ‘civic humanism’; see Baron, The Crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance: Civic Humanism and Republican Liberty in an Age of Classicism and Tyranny, 2 vols (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1955; rev. edn, 1 vol., 1966). Ferguson’s source material and conceptual framework were not gleaned from Italian Renaissance texts. He did use the terms ‘citizen’, ‘civil’ and ‘civilized’ in a sense pertaining to public-minded active citizenship (see below). For a classic critique of Baron’s ‘civic humanism’, see J. Seigel, ‘Civic Humanism, or Ciceronian Rhetoric?’, Past & Present, 34 ( July 1966), pp. 3–48. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 10.

Notes to pages 148–52 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19.

20. 21. 22. 23.

24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30.

31. 32. 33. 34.

35.

36.

37.

215

Ibid., p. 213. Ibid., p. 48. Ibid., pp. 47–8, see also p. 28; Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, pp. 14–15. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, pp. 62–3. Ferguson, Institutes of Moral Philosophy. For the Use of Students in the College of Edinburgh (Edinburgh: A. Kincaid and J. Bell, 1769), p. 291. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, pp. 508–9. Ferguson to John McPherson (2 June 1796), in The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson, vol. 2, p. 393. Kettler, ‘History and Theory in Ferguson’s Essay’, pp. 439ff. Ferguson, Institutes (1769 edn), p. 84. On the neo-Roman application of the otium-negotium dichotomy, see Q. Skinner, ‘Thomas More’s Utopia and the Virtue of True Nobility’, in Q. Skinner (ed.), Visions of Politics, Volume 2: Renaissance Virtues (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 213–44; Nelson, The Greek Tradition in Republican Thought, pp. 22ff. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, pp. 14–15. Ibid., p. 58. Ibid., p. 26. Hume, Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary, ed. Miller, p. 563. See also V. J. Sapp, ‘The Philosopher’s Seduction: Hume and the Fair Sex’, Philosophy and Literature, 19 (1995), pp. 1–15. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 45. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, pp. 5, 6. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 219. Ibid., p. 15 and passim; Ferguson, Roman Republic (1783 edn), p. 36 and passim. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, pp. 46–7. Ferguson, A Sermon Preached in the Ersh Language, p. 6. On Ferguson’s idea of play, see Oz-Salzberger, Translating the Enlightenment, pp. 114– 16; of its possible impact on Schiller’s concept of ‘play-drive’, see pp. 304ff. Histories and cultural analyses of play, most notably Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens (1938; Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1971), have not mentioned Ferguson’s use of the term, which, I argue, bears directly on his politics of action. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, p. 7. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 46. Kettler, ‘History and Theory in Ferguson’s Essay’, p. 441. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 33. See Forbes, Hume’s Philosophical Politics, pp. 138ff, for a description of Hume’s self-conscious transformation from an active politician into a contemplative one. Hume certainly asserted that ‘Man is also an active being; and from that disposition, as well as from the various necessities of human life, must submit to business and occupation …’, and also ‘Be a philosopher; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a man’, Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, p. 9 (I.iv). I thank Eugene Heath and an anonymous reviewer for helping to delineate the extent to which Ferguson followed Hume, and the point at which he parted from him. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 44. Ferguson’s passage closely echoes Hume’s terminology of pleasure, pain, memory, sensation and anticipation, as used in A Treatise of Human Nature, I.i.2–3, II.i.8–10. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 44.

216

Notes to pages 152–5

38. Ibid., p. 45. 39. Ferguson, ‘Of the Separation of Departments, Professions and Tasks resulting from the Progress of Arts in Society’, ed. Y. Amoh, Eighteenth-Century Scotland, 3 (1989), p. 14. The essay may also be found in The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, pp. 143–52, on pp. 149, 150. See also Ferguson, Collection of Essays, pp. 141–51, on pp. 150,151. 40. Ferguson’s Essay plays on both meanings of the word, hailing Montesquieu as a ‘profound politician’ (p. 66), but also mentioning the active ‘politician, whose spirit is the conduct of parties and factions’ (p. 47). See F. Oz-Salzberger, ‘The Political Thought of the Scottish Enlightenment’, in The Cambridge Companion to the Scottish Enlightenment, ed. A. Broadie (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 157–77. 41. See Kettler’s telling reading of Ferguson as opposing Smith’s concept of non-active ‘Spectator’ and embracing a ‘distinct actor’s perspective’ in its stead: ‘History and Theory in Ferguson’s Essay’, pp. 443–4. 42. For major interpretations emphasizing Ferguson’s republican bent, see especially Kettler, The Social and Political Thought of Adam Ferguson; Forbes, ‘Introduction’; Robertson, The Scottish Enlightenment and the Militia Issue; Gellner, ‘Adam Ferguson and the Surprising Robustness of Civil Society’; Geuna, ‘Republicanism and Commercial Society in the Scottish Enlightenment’. 43. Oz-Salzberger, ‘Introduction’, in Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, pp. vii–xxv, on pp. xvii and passim. 44. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, pp. 195, n. s, 271. 45. Ibid., pp. 181–2. 46. This point is duly stressed by Hill, who otherwise engages with Ferguson’s role as predecessor of modern sociology, in ‘Eighteenth-Century Anticipations of the Sociology of Conflict’, esp. pp. 290–2. 47. A recent reassessment, attempting to underplay Ferguson’s ‘resolute republicanism’ and to underscore his amalgamation of republican ideas with commercial liberalism, significantly fails to make a single reference to the Roman Republic: Kalyvas and Katznelson, ‘Adam Ferguson Returns’. 48. Q. Skinner, Liberty before Liberalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). On Ferguson’s Ciceronian context, see Kettler, ‘History and Theory in Ferguson’s Essay’, p. 442. A different view of Ferguson’s Ciceronianism is presented in Merolle’s ‘Ferguson’s Political Philosophy’, pp. xi–xlv. On this issue I cast my vote with Hill, who stresses Cicero’s impact on Ferguson’s idea of public virtue and service; see L. Hill, ‘Adam Ferguson and the Paradox of Progress and Decline’, History of Political Thought, 18 (1997), pp. 677–706, esp. pp. 701–2. 49. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, p. 327. See also Hill, ‘Adam Ferguson and the Paradox of Progress and Decline’, p. 702. 50. Cicero, easily the greatest hero of Ferguson’s Roman Republic, was mentioned no less than 420 times throughout the 3-volume opus. 51. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, p. 510. 52. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 34. 53. Hume, ‘That Politics may be Reduced to a Science’, in Hume, Political Writings, pp. 4–15, on p. 5. 54. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 34. 55. Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, p. 165 (XII.iii.132). 56. Ibid., p. 90 (VIII.i.70); the point is phrased as a rhetorical question: ‘How could politics be a science, if laws and forms of government had not a uniform influence upon society?’

Notes to pages 155–9

57. 58.

59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64.

65.

217

See also pp. 97–8 (VIII.ii.76): ‘All laws being founded on rewards and punishments, it is supposed as a fundamental principle, that these motives have a regular and uniform influence on the mind, and both produce the good and prevent the evil actions’. Hume, ‘That Politics be Reduced to a Science’, p. 5. This text was first published by E. C. Mossner, ‘“Of the Principle of Moral Estimation: A Discourse between David Hume, Robert Clerk, and Adam Smith”: An Unpublished MS by Adam Ferguson’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 21 (April–June 1960), pp. 222–32. I have used the text in Ferguson, Collection of Essays, pp. 204–14. See also The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, pp. 207–15. Collection of Essays, pp. 321–2, fn. 3, 9, 16. Similarly Kettler, Social and Political Thought of Adam Ferguson, pp. 113–14. ‘Of the Principle of Moral Estimation’, in Collection of Essays, p. 205; and The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 208. Ibid., in Collection of Essays, pp. 205, 206; and The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, pp. 208, 209. Ibid., in Collection of Essays, p. 206; and The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 209. Ibid., in Collection of Essays, p. 207; and The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 209. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 119. See also Hamowy, The Scottish Enlightenment and the Theory of Spontaneous Order; Hill, ‘Adam Ferguson and the Paradox of Progress and Decline’. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 160.

10 Smith, ‘Ferguson and the Active Genius of Mankind’ 1. 2.

Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 199. Merolle, ‘Ferguson’s Political Philosophy’, p. xxxiv. In her biographical essay on Ferguson, Jane Fagg refers to ‘his fits of impatient restlessness’. See Fagg, ‘Biographical Introduction’, p. xxxiii. 3. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, p. 114. 4. R. B. Sher, ‘From Troglodytes to Americans: Montesquieu and the Scottish Enlightenment on Liberty, Virtue, and Commerce’, in D. Wootton (ed.), Republicanism, Liberty, and Commercial Society, 1649–1776 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), pp. 368–402, on p. 398. 5. Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, p. 469. 6. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 119. 7. D. Forbes, ‘“Scientific Whiggism”: Adam Smith and John Millar’, Cambridge Journal, 7 (August 1954), pp. 643–70, on p. 651. Christopher J. Berry, in his discussion of the ‘de-moralization’ of luxury in the eighteenth century debate, notes that ‘Given that individual actions have unintended consequences, then the area of individual moral responsibility is also correspondingly curtailed’, The Idea of Luxury (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p. 163. 8. For a discussion of de Retz’s theory of history, see D. A. Watts, Cardinal de Retz: The Ambiguities of a Seventeenth-Century Mind (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980). 9. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment, pp. 499–503. 10. T. Reid, Essays on the Active Powers of Man, in T. Reid, Works, ed. Sir W. Hamilton, 6th edn, 2 vols (Edinburgh: Maclachlan and Stewart, 1863), vol. 2, p. 622. 11. Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 524–7. 12. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 554.

218

Notes to pages 159–60

13. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 64. Lehmann describes this as a principle of ‘activism’ in human nature. See Adam Ferguson and the Beginnings of Modern Sociology, p. 113. 14. Ferguson, Institutes (1769 edn), pp. 163–4. 15. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, p. 12. 16. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 37. 17. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 48. The terminology of spirit, vigour and health is adopted from the eighteenth-century discussions of pneumatology, a subject which transferred the language of metaphysics into a discussion of what John Wright calls the ‘psychophysiological’ theories of Descartes and Malebranche. See Wright, The Sceptical Realism of David Hume (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1983), p. 74. 18. Ferguson, Institutes (1769 edn), p. 69. 19. Ibid., p. 150. 20. Ibid., p. 118. Mankind are ‘Intelligent creatures destined [by God] for Active life’, The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 125. Indeed Ferguson goes so far as to assert that the ‘Final Cause’ of the system of nature ‘appears to be, that the talent of man for invention should be employed’ (Ferguson, Institutes (1769 edn), p. 15). For a discussion of Ferguson’s epistemology and his distinction between learning through experience and learning from testimony or books, see my ‘Adam Ferguson and the Danger of Books’, Journal of Scottish Philosophy, 4:4 (2006), pp. 93–109. 21. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 14. 22. Ibid., p. 44. 23. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, p. 55. See, for example: ‘To his Active Nature the Active Scene is accommodated. And to his progressive Nature The Observation he is concerned to make the Lessons of Experience and the faculties acquired by Practice are fully and specifically accommodated’, The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 183. 24. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 169. 25. Ibid., p. 242. A point noted by Lehmann in Adam Ferguson and the Beginnings of Modern Sociology, pp. 51–4. Ferguson links this to his attack on scholasticism, though it also represents an extended rumination on Aristotle’s distinction between practical and theoretical knowledge; Ferguson seems convinced that mental acuity is not the product of retired or abstract contemplation but can be produced only by a life of active participation in the world. 26. The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 177. 27. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, p. 200. 28. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 52. See also the discussion of the will and freedom of choice at ibid., vol. 1, p. 152. 29. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 207 (italics omitted). 30. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 32. 31. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 13. 32. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 99. 33. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 39. 34. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 257. 35. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 297. Vincenzo Merolle neatly encapsulates this view: ‘Man is presented with a scene of action, and society offers the occasion of his best exertions. Consequently, progress has no end’, Merolle, ‘Ferguson’s Political Philosophy’, p. xv. 36. This is hardly surprising given the explicit aim of much of Ferguson’s work to provide both a natural history of man and a discussion of moral principles. He explicitly divides

Notes to pages 160–2

37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42.

43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49.

50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56.

57.

58. 59. 60.

219

the Principles into two separate volumes that deal respectively with the natural history of man and the principles of moral law. The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 196. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 60. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, p. 14. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 51. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, p. 178. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 29. Ferguson returns frequently to this point, arguing that action is the true source of happiness and that ‘languor’ is a condition of suffering, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 46. For a discussion of this see L. Hill ‘The Invisible Hand of Adam Ferguson’, The European Legacy, 3:6 (1998), pp. 42–64, on p. 47. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 205. Ferguson, Institutes (1769 edn), p. 165–6. See also Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, p. 87. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 51. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, p. 185. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 205. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, p. 249. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 205. Smith’s extended discussion of the ‘poor man’s son’ in The Theory of Moral Sentiments ends with the observation that ‘nature’ creates the ‘deception’ of convenience that prompts mankind to practise industry in pursuit of an illusory ease. See A. Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), ed. D. D. Raphael and A. L. Macfie (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976; rpt Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982) p. 183. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 205. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, p. 15. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 47. Ibid., p. 45. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, p. 9. For Ferguson’s discussions of sport see vol. 1, pp. 14, 186–7, 222; vol. 2, pp. 12, 88. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 88. David Kettler has noted this shift between descriptive sociology and evaluative moral judgements in Ferguson’s writing. See his The Social and Political Thought of Adam Ferguson, p. 224. It has also been the subject of a recent discussion by Christopher Finlay, who argues that Ferguson’s work represents a ‘marriage of natural history and civic moralism’ in which he uses natural history for rhetorical rather than logical persuasion. See C. Finlay, ‘Rhetoric and Citizenship in Adam Ferguson’s Essay on the History of Civil Society’, History of Political Thought, 27:1 (Spring 2006), pp. 27–49, on pp. 36, 43. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, p. 19. See also Ferguson, Institutes (1769 edn), p. 166: ‘By declining every duty, and every active engagement, they render life a burden, and complain that it is so. By preferring amusement to business, they reject what is fitted to occupy them, and search in vain for something else to remove their languor.’ The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 276. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 52. Ferguson, Roman Republic (1856 edn; rpt Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2001), p. 179. See also Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, p. 90; and An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 58. Ferguson extends this argument, regarding strenuous action and

220

61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72.

73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79. 80. 81. 82. 83.

84. 85.

86. 87.

Notes to pages 162–5 pleasure, into his belief that warfare is invigorating for both individuals and nations. See Roman Republic (2001 edn), p. 42 and An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 47. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, pp. 88–9. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 388. Ibid., vol. 2 p. 89. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 246. See also Ferguson, Institutes (1769 edn), p. 256. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, p. 388. Note the dual meaning of the Latin negotium as business or work, and as difficulty, labour, pain or trouble. Ferguson, Institutes (1769 edn), p. 154–5. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, p. 89. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 388–9. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 296. Ferguson, Institutes (1769 edn), p. 256. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, p. 19. A tradition that feeds through the eighteenth century and into the language of needs versus choice in Hegel’s Philosophy of Right and which also lies at the heart of Marx’s critique of Hegel’s system. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, p. 43. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p.196. See also Merolle, ‘Ferguson’s Political Philosophy’. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, p. 54. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 113. Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 165–6. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 365. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 139. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 334. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 188–9. Kettler refers to this as his ‘activist conception of virtue’ in The Social and Political Thought of Adam Ferguson, p. 150. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 33. Merolle has argued that the moralizing in the Roman Republic is ‘implicit’ rather than ‘explicit’ (Merolle, ‘Ferguson’s Political Philosophy’, p. xxi) and, although this may be true of the moral drawn from the history of the people as a whole, there can be little doubt that Ferguson, despite his stated intention to do otherwise, exercises specific moral as well as practical judgements of the main players in the history. While his assessments remain standard, and indeed draw on footnoted references to classical sources, they are nonetheless conducted in line with the specific criterion of active virtue. See also Kettler, The Social and Political Thought of Adam Ferguson, p. 199. Ferguson, Roman Republic (2001 edn), p. 320. Ibid., p. 404. This is not to say that the inevitability of the fall of the Republic leads Ferguson to excuse those (Pompey, Caesar) whom he holds (in part) responsible for its ultimate destruction. As he puts it: ‘To state the difficulty of preserving the republic in such hands, as an excuse for having destroyed it, were to offer the character of criminals as an excuse for their crimes’ (ibid., p. 406). It remains possible to pass moral judgement on individuals for their personal behaviour, but this in itself is not sufficient to draw larger conclusions. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, p. 120. Ibid., vol. 1 p. 18.

Notes to pages 165–9

221

88. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 119. 89. Ibid., p. 121. Ferguson was objecting to inaccurate ancient legislator myths and also cautioning against the widespread Enlightenment desire to act as constitutional legislators. See also C. J. Berry, Social Theory of the Scottish Enlightenment (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997), p. 37–9. 90. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 211. 91. Merolle describes this as part of Ferguson’s position as a ‘meeting point’ between Enlightenment and historicism. See ‘Ferguson’s Political Philosophy’, p. xv. 92. Ferguson, Roman Republic (2001 edn), p. 151. 93. Ferguson, Institutes (1769 edn), p. 291. 94. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 251. 95. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, p. 314. 96. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 26. 97. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 71. 98. Ibid., p. 200. It is clear that Ferguson’s intellectual inspiration for this project is Montesquieu, in particular Considerations on the Causes, the 1734 precursor to The Spirit of the Laws. It should also be borne in mind that the term ‘spirit’ also had a distinct pneumatological or physiological application in the eighteenth century that underlies the metaphor of national health. This is a line of thought that leads, intellectually, to historicist judgements of eras and to the Hegelian notion of ‘Spirit’. See Oz-Salzberger Translating the Enlightenment, p. 136–9, for a discussion of Ferguson’s impact on German thought. 99. Hume, Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary, ed. Miller, pp. 197–215. 100. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 197. 101. Ibid., p. 114. 102. Ibid., p. 115. 103. Ferguson, Roman Republic (2001 edn), p. 405. 104. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 209. 105. Ibid., p. 210. 106. Ibid., p. 220. 107. Ibid., p. 203. 108. Ibid., p. 199. 109. Ibid., p. 212. 110. Ibid., p. 200. 111. Ibid., p. 204. 112. Ibid., p. 239. See also Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, pp. 48, 77, 342. The best discussion of the luxury debate in the Scottish Enlightenment remains Berry’s The Idea of Luxury. 113. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 238. 114. Ibid., p. 226. 115. Ibid., p. 236. 116. See also Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, pp. 386–8. In the Roman Republic (2001 edn, p. 118) Ferguson discusses the ineffectiveness of the Roman sumptuary laws that he also rejects in An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 151. 117. Ibid., p. 242. 118. Ibid., p.242. 119. Ibid., p. 237.

222

Notes to pages 169–73

120. Ibid., p. 245. What Gary L. McDowell has called Ferguson’s search for a ‘Commercial Republicanism’, McDowell ‘Commerce, Virtue, and Politics’, p. 536. 121. See Sher, ‘Adam Ferguson, Adam Smith, and the Problem of National Defense’, p. 265. The language that Ferguson uses in Reflections Previous to the Establishment of a Militia makes this abundantly clear. He argues that ‘We have indeed allowed Repose to steal our Minds, but the Spirit is not extinct’. The implication drawn is that our national spirit has been sapped and is in need of reinvigoration through active participation, Reflections, p. 14. 122. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 204. 123. Ibid., p. 201. Again, note the use of physiological language to describe the national spirit. 124. Schneider observes this line of argument in Ferguson’s Roman Republic and concludes that in his view ‘the Romans are defeated by their very success’, L. Schneider, ‘Introduction’, in A. Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society, ed. L. Schneider (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1980), pp. v–xxviii, on p. xvii. 125. Ferguson, Roman Republic (2001 edn), p. 259. This in no way excuses the personal role of the likes of Caesar in the fall of the Republic. Ferguson’s judgement of national character does not provide an excuse for individual vice. 126. Ibid., p. 287. 127. Ibid., p. 481. 128. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 238.

11 Chen, ‘Providence and Progress’ 1.

For instance, Kettler, The Social and Political Thought of Adam Ferguson; Lehmann, Adam Ferguson and the Beginnings of Modern Sociology. These works sparked the renaissance in the study of Ferguson’s philosophy. Hill’s recent publication, The Passionate Society, is arguably the first systematic study of Ferguson’s views of progress, theology, teleology and related issues. Working from a different approach, my own study complements many of Hill’s insights. 2. Kettler, The Social and Political Thought of Adam Ferguson, p. 131. 3. The Stoics’ influence on Ferguson’s thought is conspicuous. See Ferguson’s Institutes, rpt 1769 edn (Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1994), p. 137; Roman Republic (1783 edn), vol. 2, p. 115; Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, pp. 310–14; Ferguson, An Essay, ed. OzSalzberger, pp. 41, 54, 57, 228 and passim. 4. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 2, p. 171. 5. Allan, Adam Ferguson, p. 2. 6. Sher, Church and University in the Scottish Enlightenment; J.-G. S. Chen, ‘William Lothian and Edinburgh Belle-Lettres Society: Learning to be a Luminary in Scotland’, British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 27:2 (2004), pp. 173–87. 7. See, for example, sections X (‘Of Miracles’) and XI (‘Of a particular Providence and of a future State’) of Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748), ed. L. A. Selby-Bigge, rev. P. H. Nidditch (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), pp. 109–48. 8. Hume, The History of England, vol. 5, pp. 262, 307–9. 9. Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779), ed. N. K. Smith (London: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1947), p. 134. 10. T. Ahnert, ‘The Soul, Natural Religion and Moral Philosophy in the Scottish Enlightenment’, Eighteenth-Century Thought, 2 (2004), pp. 233–53.

Notes to pages 173–6

223

11. E. C. Mossner, The Life of David Hume, 2nd edn (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980), pp. 336–55. 12. Ibid., p. 339. 13. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 74. 14. Ibid., p. 78. 15. ‘Sacred history gives sufficient authority to presume, that public calamities are the effect of public corruption …’, Ferguson, A Sermon Preached in the Ersh Language, p. 3. 16. Ferguson, Lectures on Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy, f. 5. 17. Ibid., f. 5. 18. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, p. 322. 19. Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 304–5. 20. The Letters of David Hume, ed. Greig, vol. 2, p. 12. 21. P. O. Kristeller, Renaissance Concepts of Man (New York: Harper & Row, 1972); E. Cassirer, P. O. Kristeller and J. H. Randall, Jr (eds), The Renaissance Philosophy of Man (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1948); A. O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1936). 22. F. Hutcheson, A System of Moral Philosophy, 2 vols (Glasgow: R. and A. Foulis, 1755), vol. 1. pp. 168–72. 23. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 10. 24. See, for example, ibid., pp. 57, 225–6. 25. Ferguson, Institutes (1994 edn), p. 118. 26. This statement is drawn from his Lectures on Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy, f. 121b. 27. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 12. 28. Ibid., p. 205. 29. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, p. 306. 30. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 305. 31. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, pp. 12, 29, 89, 242. It is worth noting that in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, the much-acclaimed idea of ‘the invisible hand’ appears only once (IV.ii.9). The idea also appears once in The Theory of Moral Sentiments (IV. I.10). 32. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, pp. 37, 63–4, 36, 137. 33. Ferguson, Lectures on Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy, f. 24. 34. Ibid., f. 23b. 35. Not to mention Hume’s rejection of any knowledge of a deity or a final cause, as seen in his work published posthumously in 1779, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. See, in particular, D. Wootton, ‘Hume’s “Of Miracles”: Probability and Irreligion’, in M. A. Stewart (ed.), Studies in the Philosophy of the Scottish Enlightenment (Oxford: Oxford University Press,1991), pp. 191–229, esp. p. 223; J. Robertson, The Case for the Enlightenment: Scotland and Naples 1680–1760 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 302–8; K. Haakonssen, Natural Law and Moral Philosophy: From Grotius to the Scottish Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 86; D. F. Norton, David Hume: Common-Sense Moralist, Sceptical Metaphysician (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982), pp. 205ff ; and J. Force, ‘Hume and the Relation of Science to Religion among certain Members of the Royal Society’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 45:4 (1984); pp. 517–36. 36. Norton, David Hume, pp. 162–91. 37. See S. Brown, ‘William Robertson (1721–1793) and the Scottish Enlightenment’, N. Phillipson, ‘Providence and Progress: An Introduction to the Historical Thought of

224

38.

39. 40. 41.

42. 43.

44. 45. 46.

47. 48.

49. 50. 51.

52. 53. 54. 55. 56.

Notes to pages 176–80 William Robertson’, and G. Carnell, ‘Robertson and Contemporary Images of India’, all in S. Brown (ed.) William Robertson and the Expansion of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 7–35, 55–73, 210–30 respectively, see pp. 16, 68–9, 223 respectively. Thus, his conception of providence is distinguished, for example, from that of either the Anglican physico-theologian Thomas Burnet or the English Presbyterian Samuel Chandler. These writers asserted that ‘extraordinary’ or ‘special’ providence occurs when God intervenes in human affairs or, more drastically, elects to destroy the Earth. See D. Spadafora, The Idea of Progress in Eighteenth-Century Britain (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990), pp. 112, 121. ‘Of Cause and Effect/Ends and Means/Order Combination and/Design’, in The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 123. Ibid., pp. 124–5. ‘Of Good and Evil Perfection and Defect’, in The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 196. The theme of man’s duty to the Deity also figures prominently in Hutcheson’s outlook. See A System of Moral Philosophy, vol. 1, pp. 168ff. ‘What May be Affirmed or Apprehended of the Supreme Creative Being’, in The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 15. W. Cleghorn, ‘Lectures of Moral Philosophy’, MS, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division, Dc. 3. 3–6, in Dc. 3. 3, ff. 21–38; D. Nobbs, ‘The Political Ideas of William Cleghorn, Hume’s Academic Rival’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 26:4 (1965), pp. 575–86; and J.-G. S. Chen, ‘William Cleghorn’s Idea of Friendship’, unpublished paper presented to Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society, Williamsburg, Virginia, 30 April 2006. Cleghorn, ‘Lectures of Moral Philosophy’, Dc. 3. 4, f. 221–3. Ibid., Dc. 3. 3, f. 41. Ferguson, Lectures on Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy, ff. 153b–4. Another part of the same manuscript reads, ‘Nature preserved by succession and Death a part in the order of Nature. Nature is continually perishing & reproduced. In one view [nature is] hastening to its end. In another view [it is] likely to be overstocked’ (f. 148b). Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, p. 282. A similar opinion is found in An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 33. Ibid., p. 119. On Ferguson and spontaneous order, see Forbes, ‘“Scientific” Whiggism’; Hamowy, The Scottish Enlightenment and the Theory of Spontaneous Order; and Hill, The Passionate Society, pp. 101–21. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 130. Ferguson, Institutes (1994 edn), pp. 236–7. ‘It is happy to have continually in view… that we are instruments in the hand of God for the good of his creatures; that if we are ill members of society, or unwilling instruments in the hand of God, we do our utmost to counteract our nature, to quit our station, and to undo ourselves’, ibid., p. 169. Cleghorn, ‘Lectures of Moral Philosophy’, Dc. 3. 4, f. 237. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 15. Berry, Social Theory and the Scottish Enlightenment, pp. 94–102; Hont, Jealousy of Trade, pp. 159–84. ‘Of the Separation of Departments Professions and Tasks resulting from the Progress of Arts in Society’, in The Manuscripts of Adam Ferguson, p. 144. Ferguson, Institutes (1994 edn), p. 37.

Notes to pages 181–4

225

57. A. Ferguson, The Morality of Stage-Plays Seriously Considered (Edinburgh: n.p., 1757), p. 25. 58. Ibid., p. 24. 59. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, pp. 63–4. See also Ferguson, A Sermon Preached in the Ersh Language, p. 7. 60. Cleghorn, ‘Lectures of Moral Philosophy’, Dc. 3. 3, f. 77. 61. R. Moss, The Providential Division of Men into Rich and Poor, and the Respective Duties thus Arising (London: Richard Sare, 1708), p. 5. 62. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, p. 177. 63. Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 178–9. 64. A.-N., Marquis de Condorcet, Outlines of an Historical View of the Progress of the Human Mind (London: J. Johnson, 1795). For a valuable analysis of Condorcet’s idea of progress, see R. Nisbet, History of the Idea of Progress (London: Heinemann, 1980), pp. 206–12. 65. Spadafora, The Idea of Progress in Eighteenth-Century Britain, pp. 214–25, 246ff. 66. H. Home, Lord Kames, Historical Law-Tracts, 3rd edn (Edinburgh: T. Cadell, 1776), pp. 90, 103–6. Smith, Lectures on Jurisprudence, pp. 14–16. W. Robertson, ‘A View of the Progress of Society in Europe’, in W. Robertson, The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V, 4 vols (London: W. Strahan, 1772). An exponent of social progress, Robertson sometimes slipped into a cyclical view of history, as in his History of America when he contends that the way to understand the human being is to ‘follow him in his progress through the different stages of society, as he gradually advances from the infant state of civil life towards its maturity and decline’, History of America, 3 vols (Bristol: Thoemmes, 1996), vol. 2, p. 50. 67. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, pp. 118, 172, 196, 234 and passim. 68. Ibid., p. 235. 69. Spadafora, The Idea of Progress in Eighteenth-Century Britain, pp. 15, 218; and J. G. A. Pocock, ‘Gibbon and the Shepherds: The Stages of Society in the Decline and Fall’, History of European Ideas, 2 (1981), pp. 193–202, on pp. 195–6. 70. To name but a few, Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment; Robertson, The Scottish Enlightenment and the Militia Issue; Geuna, ‘Republicanism and Commercial Society in the Scottish Enlightenment’. 71. Forbes, ‘Introduction’, pp. xxxiv and xiv; E. Gellner, Conditions of Liberty: Civil Society and Its Rivals (London: Allen Lane/The Penguin Press, 1994), ch. 8. The best bibliography of secondary literature on Ferguson’s views of progress and decline is in Hill, The Passionate Society, pp. 237–69. 72. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, pp. 47–8 (emphasis added). 73. Berry, Social Theory of the Scottish Enlightenment, ch. 5. 74. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 12. 75. Ibid., pp. 12–14. 76. Ibid., p. 199. 77. In the 1960s Jean Willke noticed this progressivism: ‘The Historical Thought of Adam Ferguson’ (PhD Dissertation, Catholic University of America, 1962). In the 1990s, Spadafora and Hill came independently to the same conclusion: Spadafora, The Idea of Progress in Eighteenth-Century Britain, pp. 302–4; Hill, ‘Adam Ferguson and the Paradox of Progress and Decline’, p. 682. 78. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, p. 191.

226

Notes to pages 184–6

79. Humans as a collective species are destined to progress, particularly in the increasing power of the mind. As Cleghorn remarked: ‘By the Progression of the World, Mind’s Knowledge & Power are both Increased’, ‘Lectures of Moral Philosophy’, Dc. 3. 3, f. 43. 80. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, p. 314. Ferguson also remarks: ‘But every person, being principally interested in himself, is the absolute master of his own will, and for the choice he shall have made is alone responsible’, ibid., vol. 1, p. 202. 81. Ibid., vol. 2, p. 11. 82. Ferguson, An Essay, ed. Oz-Salzberger, p. 202. 83. Ferguson, Principles (1792 edn), vol. 1, p. 313. For a similar view see Ferguson, Institutes (1994 edn), p. 169.

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INDEX

active nature 5–6, 121–3, 148–53 ambition and responsibility 159–60 national character and 165–70 providential order and 181–2 unintended consequences 30, 155–9, 165–6 virtue and 161–5 political virtue 147–55, 167 see also human nature and society; progress Adam, Robert 9–10 Addison, Joseph 29 Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh 27 Ahnert, Thomas 173 Alison, Archibald, Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste 40 Allan, David 3, 8, 10, 17, 23 American War of Independence 7, 49, 73–82 Ammianus Marcellinus, History of the Roman Emperors 45, 51, 54 Anglo-American historians 133–6, 141 Annual Register (December 1767) 20 anthropology 136–7, 138, 144–5 Appian 45, 50 Arbuthnot, On Ancient Coins 44, 48, 50 aristocractic forms of government 94 Aristotle 54, 150 Arriani, History of Alexander’s Expeditions 50 art 112–13 Asconius Pedianus 52, 54 Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 44 Augustus 119, 129 Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae 44, 53

Bacon, Francis 26, 43, 88, 103, 112 Bagehot, Walter 31 Barbault, Jean 53 Barrington, Daines 46 Bayle, Pierre, Dictionary 48 Beattie, James 20 Bedford, Duke of 71 Berkeley, George, Treatise [concerning] the Principles of Human Knowledge 42, 52 Beveridge, Craig 21 Bhagvat-Geeta 51 Black Watch Regiment 10, 18, 65, 150 Black, Joseph (cousin of AF) 54 Blackstone, William, Commentaries 43, 45, 52 Blackwell, Thomas, Memoirs of the Court of Augustus 49 Blair, Hugh 74, 172 Blair, John 52 Boccaccio 52 Boece, Hector, Scororum historiae 26 Boerhaave, Herman, Chemistry 54 Bolingbroke, Viscount 183 borough franchise system 100 Bower, Walter 26 Brewer, John 2–3, 7, 55 Briet, Philippe 53 Brotier, Gabriel, Tacitus 48 Brown, John, Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Time 182 Browne, Peter, Limits of Human Understanding 43 Bruce, James 54 Travels to find the Source of the Nile 51, 52 Buchan, Bruce 92

– 245 –

246

Adam Ferguson: History, Progress and Human Nature

Buchanan, George, Rerum Scoticarum historia 27 Buckle, Henry Thomas 135 Budé, Guillaume, On the As and its Parts 43 Buffon, Comte de, Histoire naturelle générale et particulière 138 Burckhardt, Sigurd 87 Burke, Edmund 80 Burke, Kenneth 87 Burke, Peter 135 Burton, John 16 ‘business’ 162–3 Caesar’s Commentaries 45, 50, 51, 52 Calvinism 20, 28, 29, 172 Campbell, Archibald, Original of Moral Virtue 42 Campbell, John Fletcher 50 Carlisle Commission 7, 49, 74, 77–82, 91 ‘Manifesto and Proclamation’ 79–80, 81 Carlisle, Frederick Earl of 78 Carlyle, Alexander 7, 9, 11, 16, 34, 74, 172 AF’s letters to 41, 80 Carthage 126 Cato 165, 166, 171 Cato’s Letters 118 Catrou and Rouillé, Roman History since the Foundation 50 causality 29–30 unintended consequences and 30–1, 155–6, 165–6 Chastellux, Chevalier de 120 Chen, Jeng-Guo S. 6, 171 Chenier, Louis de 52 Cicero 47, 48, 50, 52, 149 De Finibus 45, 154 Letters to Friends 44 On the Republic 44 Orationes ex recensione 43 civil liberty see liberty civil society see Essay on the History of Civil Society, An; human nature and society Clarendon, Edward Hyde, Earl of, History 47 Cleghorne, William 172, 181 ‘Lectures of Moral Philosophy’ 177–8, 179–80 Code of Gentoo Laws, The 40

Condorcet, Marquis de 182 ‘conjectural history’ 134–5, 140, 141 Cook, James, Voyages 51, 52 corruption of society 121, 167–8, 182 ‘counterrevolution’ 135 Creech, William 41 Crevier, J. B. L. 51 Cudworth, Ralph, True Intellectual System of the Universe, The 43 Dalrymple, David 52 Annals of Scotland 49 Dalrymple, Sir John 16, 25 Davie, George 87 Démeunier, Jean Nicholas 82 democracy 94, 127–9 see also republicanism Descarte, René 142 despotism 95, 101, 107–8, 110 see also military government Diderot, Denis 120 Dillthey, Wilhelm 133 Dio Cassius 5, 43, 50 Roman History 42, 44, 48 Diodorus Siculus Historical Library 48, 50, 52 Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 48 Dionysius Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 45, 50, 52 ‘division of labour’ 32, 181 Douglas, Bishop 16 Droysen, Johan Gustav 135 Eden, William 78 Edinburgh Review 97 Edinburgh University Library 39, 41–54 list of AF’s borrowings 57–64 education, political, AF’s ‘Lectures on Moral Philosophy’ examined 90–114 empiricism 21–2, 134, 173 hermeneutics 140 Encyclopédie 121 Enfant, Jacques L’ 51 Epicurianism 90 epistolary form 13–19 sociological use of 11–13

Index Essay on the History of Civil Society, An 2, 19, 27, 29, 42, 47, 85, 88, 103, 121, 150 active nature in 157, 164 motivating power 151–6 political participation 75–6, 148–9, 167 causes of social structure 4, 30–1 ‘Corruption and Political Slavery’ 121 military government in 121–5 military service in 33–4, 117 parliamentary monarchy in 35–6 progress in 30–6, 155–6, 160, 183–6 religion in 173, 175–6, 179, 180, 181 republicanism in 153 Scottish context examined 19–22, 24–5, 32–3 AF’s international approach 36–8 systematic approach 37, 142–3 virtue in 114, 183 see also Ferguson, Adam Essay on the Law of Nations, An 40 European polity 115–25 Eusebius 50

247

foreign customs and travels 51–2, 53, 54 list from Edinburgh University Library 57–64 literary 55 on chemistry 54 on Rome 42, 43–5, 48–50 personal library 40–1 works ‘Historical Chart’ 49 Lectures on Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy 178 ‘Manifesto and Proclamation’ 79–80, 81 ‘Minutes of the Life and Character of Joseph Black, MD’ 54 Morality of Stage Plays Seriously Considered, The 172, 181 ‘Of Statesmen and Warriors’ 83 ‘Of the French Revolution’ 84 ‘Of the Principle of Moral Estimation’ 155 Principles of Moral and Political Science (1792) 37, 83–4, 173 Fabretti, Raffaele 46 Refl ections Previous to the Fagg, Jane 3, 8, 17, 39 Establishment of a Militia 66–7, Fanon, Frantz 21 69–72, 117 Ferguson, Adam Remarks on a Pamphlet Lately as army chaplain 9–10 Published by Dr. Price 48, 75–7, 117 as Carlisle Commission secretary 7, 49, ‘Treatise on Refinement’ 27 74, 77–82, 91 see also Essay on the History of Civil as historian 131–2, 136, 138–43, 150–1 Society, An; History of the Progress and his ‘three stages’ 182–3 Termination of the Roman Republic; reputation and concerns 1–6 ‘Lectures on Moral Philosophy’ as Scotsman 7–11, 18–19 Ferguson, Sir Adam (son of AF) 15 as teacher 103 Ferguson, Katharine (wife of AF) 14, 53 epistolary self 13–20 Ferguson, Lieutenant Colonel Patrick 54 political views 18–19, 21, 34–5, 82–6 Festus 46 private life Finlayson, C. P. 41 character 16 Fletcher, Andrew 117 death 54 Florus, Lucius Annaeus 45, 50 family background 10–11 Folard, Jean-Charles de, Commentaries on ill heath 111 Polybius 45 marriage and family life 14–15, 50, 53 Fontenoy, Battle of 9 religious convictions 15, 17, 172 Forbes, Duncan 158 reading and research Fordun, John, Scotichronicon 26, 27 for natural history classes 47

248

Adam Ferguson: History, Progress and Human Nature

France 78 Revolution 82–6, 117–18, 130 Seven Years War 65–6, 117 Fraser, James 46 Freeden, Michael 87 freedom see liberty Fresne, Charles du 44 Frontinus 50, 53 Game Laws 68 Gellner, Ernest 23 Gentleman’s Magazine (1756) 69 George II 68 Gerard, Alexander, Essay on Genius 30 German historians 132–3 Germanic peoples 122 Gesner, Johann Matthias 45, 48 Thesaurus 42, 43 Gibbon, Edward 43 Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, The 40, 53, 182 Goltz, Herbert, Thesaurus 45 Goodall, Walter 27 Gordon, Sir Robert, Genealogical History of the Earldom of Sutherland 28, 29 Gottfried, Johann 132 government, forms of 94–6 autarchy 103, 109–11 mixed and simple class 95, 101–2, 115 see also military government Graevius, John George, Thesaurus 45, 51 Gray, Thomas 20 Gronovius, Jakob 50, 52 Habeas Corpus 156 Hamilton, William, On the Phlegraean Plain 53 happiness 105–6, 155, 161–3 Hardwicke, Lord Chancellor 66, 68–70 Hastings, Warren 40 Hauristius, Benno Caspar 45 Hawkesworth, John 52 Hayek, Friedrich 23, 94 Henry, Robert 25 hermeneutics 140 Highlands of Scotland 10, 18–19, 69 Hill, John 28–9 Hill, Lisa 54, 55

‘historicism’ 132–3, 135 historiography see history of historiography; Scotland, historiographical tradition history, AF’s three stages of 182–3 history of historiography 132–6 Hume’s ‘science of man’ 136–8 mankind as object of history 143–5, 148 methodology 141–3 natural history 138–43 see also Scotland, historiographical tradition; sociology History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic AF’s purpose behind 115–18, 144, 148 intellectual background 118–25 military government in 125–9 national character in 157–8, 164–70 republicanism in 153–4 revolution in 108 sources first edition 42, 43–5, 48–50, 55 revised edition 52–4 see also Ferguson, Adam Hobbes, Thomas 93 Opera 43, 52 Home, John 34, 172 Douglas 74 Hook, Nathaniel, Roman History 49 Horace 50 Howe, Richard and William 78 human nature and society action and moral responsibility 159–61 as second cause 177 causes of social structure 29–31 unintended consequences and 30–1, 155–6, 165–6 happiness 155, 161–3 intellect 111–13, 175 providence and 174–6 rationality 159–60 universalism and 36–8 women’s position 150 see also active nature; inequality; ‘Lectures on Moral Philosophy’; liberty; natural history; progress humanism, Christian 174 Hume, David 15, 16, 20, 26, 87, 95, 116 AF’s Essay and 174

Index AF’s letters to 17 religion and 171, 172–3 ‘science of man’ 136–8, 143, 154–5 works Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion 173 Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding 30 Essays 140 History of England 24, 29, 122, 173 Natural History of Religion 138, 143 ‘Of National Characters’ 167 Treatise of Human Nature, A 136, 151–2, 158 Hume, David, of Godscroft 29, 31 History of the Houses of Douglas and Angus 28 Hutcheson, Francis 174–5 An Enquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue 42–3 imperialist expansion 91–2, 118–19, 121, 124–5 Rome’s transition to military state 126–9 India 92, 125 industrialization 33 inequality as beneficial distinction 122, 127–8 discussed in AF’s lectures 96–100 providential order and 177, 180–2 virtue and vice 98–9 see also human nature and society Institutes of Moral Philosophy for the Use of Students in the College of Edinburgh 43, 47, 148, 149, 160, 162 see also Ferguson, Adam intellect 111–13, 175 Jacobites 8, 18, 34, 68 Johnson, Samuel Dictionary 46, 50 Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland 53 Johnston, George 78 Josephus 48, 54 Julian Obsequens 50 Julian, the Apostate 49

249

Kalyvas, Andreas 92 Kames, Lord 25, 138 Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion 176 Katznelson, Ira 92 Kettler, David 24, 87 Knox, John, History of Scotland 28, 49 Knox, Vicesimus, Essays 51 Kraus, Christian Jakob 140 Kugler, Michael 7 Laing, Malcolm, History of Scotland 54 ‘Lectures on Moral Philosophy’ explanation of society 90–1 emulation, interest and love 93 force and hostility 91–2 happiness and security 105–6 inequality 96–100 virtue of mind 112–13 government, forms of 93–6 as adapted to character of the people, 106–7, 113 constitutions and conquest 101–2 voting rights 100 see also Ferguson, Adam; human nature and society; moral philosophy; political theories Lee, Dr John 40 letters see epistolary form liberty 104 democratic politics and 127–8 Habeas Corpus 156 honour as condition of 121 Rome’s transition to military state 126–9 separation of state and military and 117–19 ‘vigour’ and security 75–7, 166 see also human nature and society Lipsius, Opera 49 Literary Miscellany (1768–9) 45 Livy 47, 49, 50 Locke, John 108 Essay Concerning Human Understanding 42, 43 Logan, John 40 Logierait, Scotland 10, 18 Lorimer, James 17 Lowthrop, John 43

250

Adam Ferguson: History, Progress and Human Nature

Lucanus 47, 50 luxury, concept of 168 McDaniel, Iain 115 Machiavelli 158–9, 183 Mackenzie, Henry 18 Mackintosh, James 130 Macpherson, James, History of Great Britain 40 Macpherson, Sir John 7, 10, 16, 18, 40 AF’s letters to 75, 77–8, 81, 82 Macrobius 50 Madison, James 74 Mair, John, Historia maioris Brtanniae 26–7 Manchester 19 Mandeville, Bernard 31, 171 Fable of the Bees, The 158 Mannheim, Karl 87 Mariti, Giovanni 52 Marlianus, Raimundus 49 Marxism 8, 23, 87 Mary, Queen of Scots 27–8 Meinecke, Freidrich 133 Melmoth, William 45 Melville, Lord 14 mercantilism 80–1, 91, 103–4, 124, 158 mercenary troops 65–6, 126 Merolle, Vincenzo 1, 8, 19 Meyer, Annette 131 Middleton, Conyers, Life of Cicero 42 militia debate 65–72, 116–19, 122–9, 152 see also militarism; military government; military service militarism, imperialist expansion and 118–19 see also militia debate; military government; military service military government 95, 101 in An Essay on the History of Civil Society 121–5 Montesquieu on 118–20 popular abuse of liberty and 117–18 Rome’s transition into 126–9 see also despotism; government, forms of; militia debate; militarism; military service military service honour of 71, 83–4

in AF’s historigraphy 33–4 standing armies 117–18 theme of defence 108–9, 113–14 see also militia debate; militarism; military government Mill, John Stuart, Logic 90 Millar, John 138 On Government 53 Milton, Lord 14, 15 mixed government 35–6, 95, 101–2, 115 modernity 31–6 monarchy as form of government 94–5, 100–1, 106 autarchy 103, 109–11 civil liberty and 121–2 parliamentary monarchy 35–6 use of troops and 118–20 Mongault, Nicholas H. 45 Montesquieu 31, 48, 93 military debate 118–25, 130 Considerations on the Greatness of the Romans and their Decline 118–19 Persian Letters 112 Spirit of the Laws 119–20, 121 Montfaucon, Bernard de, Antiquitys 46, 49 Monthly Review 26, 51 moral law 142, 158, 171, 174, 177 moral philosophy 26, 29, 111–13, 149, 159–60, 176 see also ‘Lectures on Moral Philosophy’ Mossner, E. C. 173 Muratori, L. A. 52 Murdoch, A. 21 Napoleon Bonaparte 84–5, 130 national character 165–70 natural history 4, 31–6, 143–5 AF’s epistemological foundation 138–43 see also human nature and society Nepos, Cornelius, Vitae Exellentium Imperatorum 48 Newcastle, Duke of 68 Newton, Isaac 26, 142 Niebuhr, Georg 133 North, Frederick Lord 78 Orme, Robert 49 Ovid 47

Index Oz-Salzberger, Fania 5, 147 Paine, Thomas 80 Paley, William, Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy 51 Panvinio, Onofrio 45, 48 Park, Mungo 53 Parliamentary History of England 45 parliamentary monarchy 35–6 Peardon, Thomas Preston 133–4 Percival, Robert, Out of Ceylon 54 Petronius Arbiter, Satyricon 50 Phillips, Thomas, Voyages 53 physical law 142 Pighius, S. V. 52 Pinkerton, John, History of Scotland 53 Plato 52 Playfair, John 51 Pliny, Historia Naturalis 44, 48 Plutarch, Parallel Lives 42, 43, 48, 52 Pocock, J. G. A. 158 political education, AF’s ‘Lectures on Moral Philosophy’ examined 90–114 political theories 34–6 AF’s politics of action 147–55 national spirit and 165–70 unintended consequences and 155–6 political economy 23, 103–4, 152 Wealth of Nations, The 24, 40, 73, 77 ‘political ideology’ 87 universal franchise and 83 see also ‘Lectures on Moral Philosophy’ Polybius 48, 53 History 47, 115 Pope, Alexander 111 Potter, John, Antiquities 50 Presbyterian Church 17, 28, 172–4 Price, Richard, Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty 75–7, 91, 117 Priestley, Joseph, On Electricity 47 Principles of Moral and Political Science, The (1792) 37, 52, 165 on human activity 147, 148, 151, 159– 60, 162–4 on providence and progress 179, 181, 184, 185 progress 31–2, 95–6, 99, 113, 143 cyclical nature of 169, 182

251

free will and 184–6 providence and 175–80, 181, 184, 185 stadial theory and virtue 182–4 see also active nature; human nature and society property law 180–1 providence 29, 171–6 free will and 184–6 social inequality and 180–2 universal progress 176–80 Prussia 84 Pufendorf, Samuel 49, 118, 180 rationality 159–60 Raynal, Abbé, Histoire Politique et Philosophique des Deux Indes 120, 125 Raynor, David 65 Reid, Thomas 87 Essays on the Active Powers of Man 159 religion atheism 84 capitalism and 20 Christian humanism 174–5 eschatological historiography 29–30 providence and progress 171–86, 184–6 civil society and 174–6 free will and 184–6 inequality and 180–2 religious moderation, Scottish 172–4, 176 republicanism 7, 127, 183 AF’s active political virtue and 153–6, 185 American democratic 73–82, 117 French 82–6, 117–18 see also democracy; History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic Retz, Cardinal de 158–9, 166 revolution 73–86, 110–11, 114 Robertson, James 41 Robertson, John 116 Robertson, William 17, 19, 38, 41, 74, 172, 176 History of Scotland 25, 27, 29 Robison, John, Proofs of a Conspiracy 41 Rollin, Charles 48–9

252

Adam Ferguson: History, Progress and Human Nature

Roman republicanism see History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 21, 141, 180, 210 Discourse on the Origins of Inequality 37, 97 Ruddiman, Thomas 27 Rumford, Count, Essays Political, Economical, and Philosophical 41 Russel, James (AF’s cousin) 47 s’Gravesande, Willem, System of Natural Philosophy 47 Saint-Lambert, Marquis de 121 Salmasius, Claudius 45 Sandys, Lord 71 Saratoga (1777) 77–8 Schmitt, Carl 92 Schreiner, Olive 12 ‘science of man’ 136–8, 143, 154–5 Scotland AF’s feelings for 7–11, 18–19, 34–5 AF’s treatment of 24–5, 31–3, 36 Edinburgh University Library 39, 41–54 Highlands 10, 18–19, 69 religious moderation 172–4 Treaty of Union 31, 34–6 Scotland, historiographical tradition assimilationist attitudes 21, 35–6 causality 29–30 in early historical writing 26–8 in Enlightenment writing 24–6 military service debate and 33–4 see also history of historiography Scots Magazine (March 1767) 20 Scott, Andrew and John, booksellers, 40 Scott, Sir Walter 9 Seneca 54 Seven Years War 65–6, 117, 125 Shaftesbury, third Earl of 29, 112 Shelburne, Earl of 77 Sher, Richard 74, 116 Sheringham, Robert 43–4, 45, 50 Silius Italicus 47 Simpson, S. M. 41 Smith, Adam 14, 38, 93, 103, 116, 134 jurisprudence lectures 117 Wealth of Nations, The 24, 40, 73, 77

Smith, Craig 5, 157 Smollett, Tobias 52 society and human nature see human nature and society ; ‘Lectures on Moral Philosophy’ Society for Promoting the Reading and Speaking of the English Language 18 sociology 8, 133 AF’s empiricism 21–2, 36–7 AF’s focus on ‘mankind’ 143–5 use of epistolary form 11–12 see also history of historiography Solinus 53 Polyhistoria 46 Spadafora, David 182 Spanheim, Ezechiel, Antiques 48 Sparrman, Anders, Voyage to the Cape of Good Hope 51 Spon, Jacob 52 ‘spontaneous order’ 165–6, 179 Stanhope, Philip, fifth Earl of Chesterfield 47–8 Stanley, Liz 11, 12–13 Stanley, Thomas, The History of Philosophy 42 Stephano, H. E. 48 Stewart, David, Sketches of the Character, Manners and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland 9 Stewart, Dugald 23, 108, 134, 141–2 Stoicism 90, 151, 163, 171 Strabo, Geography 43, 48, 53 Strahan, William 115 Stuart, Andrew 19 AF’s letters to 25 Genealogical History of the Stuarts 41 Stuart, Gilbert 51 Suetonius, Opera 46 Sullivan, Richard J. 52 Swinburne, Henry, Travels in the Two Sicilies 53 Tacitus 46, 50, 51, 52, 116 Tavernier, J. B., Travels 51 Terence 52 Terrasson, Antoine, History of Roman Jurisprudence 45 Thoulier, Pierre Joseph, Cicero 63

Index Townshend, George 65–6, 68–70 travel reports 137 Treaty of Union 31, 34–6 Treaty of Utrecht 118 Turenne 52 Turnbull, George 29, 176 Turnbull, Ronald 21 Tytler, Alexander 29, 134 Tytler, William, Inquiry, Historical and Critical into the Evidence Against Mary, Queen of Scots 27 unintended consequences 30–1, 155–6, 165–6 universalism 36–8 Varro 50 Opera 46 virtue action and 161–5 active political 153–6 art and 112–13 elevation of the mind 111–13, 175 government and 98–9, 114 civil and military functions 123 democractic 105, 107–8, 109 monarchical 109–10, 121 military service and 71, 83–4 progress, stadial theory and 182–4

253

Voltaire 46 voting rights 100 Walker, Obadiah, Greek and Roman History Illustrated by Coins 43 Wallace, Robert, Dissertation on the Numbers of Mankind 42 Walpole, Horace 66 Washington, George 79 Weber, Max 20 Wheeler, Sir George 52 Whitlocke, Bulstrode, Memorials 47 Wight, Alexander, On Elections 49 Withers, Charles 21 Witherspoon, John 73–4 Wodrow, Robert, History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland, The 28 women 150 Woodhouselee, Lord 134, 135 Wraxall, Sir Nathaniel, History of France from the Accession of Henry the Third 40–1 Wynne, John 43 Wyvill, Christopher 81, 100 Yorkshire Association 81, 100