Regretting the meagre records of the life of Adam Smith, the Right Hon. R. B. Haldane, M.P., remarks: - "We think of him, in the main, and we think of him rightly, as the bosom friend of David Hume" (b. 1711, d. 1777). Naturally, incidents in the life of a philosopher are neither numerous nor stirring. It is unreasonable to expect them, and such stories as are handed down regarding great thinkers are best not to be accepted unreservedly. I leave Hume, therefore, to present his own picture as drawn in My own Life - the picture he wished posterity to have - which consequently follows this introduction, and is itself followed by Adam Smith's celebrated letter to Mr. Strahan, Hume's publisher, giving an account of Hume's death.
It is chiefly as a political economist that Hume concerns us here, as it is in the Political Discourses, first published in 1752, his economic principles are set forth. What the reader may expect to find in these Discourses I prefer to let writers of renown tell. Thus Lord Brougham –
"Of the Political Discourses it would be difficult to speak in terms of too great commendation.