The old maxim about the prophet who goes without honour in his own land would seem to apply to Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations, one of the most influential books ever written. It almost beggars belief that Edinburgh council has instructed the sale of his former home, Panmure House, to the highest bidder, for a paltry few hundred thousand pounds, when it should be sparing no effort to ensure the building is kept in the public realm (your report and Letters, 18 March).
Smith, simplistically, is often viewed as the inventor of modern capitalism. In reality, he was a profound humanitarian thinker, a fervent opponent of slavery, a champion of American liberty, a critic of monopolies, a proponent of public education and an author of genius with an international reputation during and beyond his lifetime.
Panmure House is one of the Canongate's few remaining 17th-century mansions, and its association with Smith provides Scotland with a stunning opportunity to celebrate an Enlightenment giant who helped to create our modern world. He appreciated the virtues, as well as the limitations, of the liberal-capitalist system, and his views on the present state of the global economy would be instructive.
The building should be in the ownership of an academic institution or museum trust, restored and used as an international study centre. A public appeal for funding would attract support from both sides of the Atlantic. It should be launched without delay.
The Scottish Government played its part in saving Dumfries House. It could take a leading role in any campaign to redeem this beautiful building in the heart of the world heritage site.
DAVID J BLACK