By Mike Wade (July 4 2008)
A skirl of the bagpipes, a billowing of canvas, and with the words “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Adam Smith", Professor Vernon Lomax Smith, pulled the chord to reveal a new and daunting statue of Scotland's most eminent economist, staring down Edinburgh's Royal Mile and out to the North Sea and the world.
The bronze artwork, the first of Smith to be erected in Scotland, was created by Sandy Stoddart and is sited close to the Mercat Cross.
Depicting the economist with a grim face, clad in a gown from Glasgow University - where he taught - it is an undeniably powerful addition to the Edinburgh scene.
No surprise then that Professor Smith, the 2002 Nobel laureate for economics from Orange County, California, should have chosen to spend his July 4 holiday in Scotland.
His devotion to his illustrious namesake knows no bounds, and extends even to his necktie, a bootlace affair, finished with an 18th century flourish, in a silver clasp bearing the profile of Adam Smith.
“He's very excited about this," said Candace, his wife, as the professor took to the podium to praise “the first great post-Newtonian scientist".
He quickly went on to urge his audience of academics, thinkers, and slack-mouthed tourists to rush out and buy Smith's least-known major work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments.
For the Smith enthusiasts who had come from every corner of the globe, this had been a great day. It had begun further down the Royal Mile, at the 18th century economist's Edinburgh home, Panmure House, with a piece of good news.
Panmure has been on the market for months but yesterday it was confirmed that the city council had agreed in principle to sell the building to the Edinburgh Business School at Heriot Watt University, where it will become a student centre.
Lord Forsyth, former Secretary of State for Scotland in the last Conservative government, praised the statue, which was commissioned by the Adam Smith Institute and cost £250,000.
He said it was something the Tories should have thought of when in power, “It is quite severe, but it will remind the Scots of the importance of markets, which they certainly need reminding of."
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