Adam Smith was a product of that period when expansive and curious minds were unrestrained by the disciplinary boundaries that have since come to separate the various products of professional academic endeavour, and a glance at the titles associated with his name will be sufficient to alert the modern reader to the range of topics covered in his lectures and writings on the commercial society of his own day. But how are Smith’s texts to be read? How can a modern reader come to understand Adam Smith’s analysis of commercial society? Within economics, a new awareness of the significance of rhetoric for reading and understanding texts has become evident,1 and so it might be thought that Smith’s Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres (LRBL) could be used as a guide for reading his own works; Smith as author might guide his modern reader through his own texts.2 Such an approach, however, requires that Smith is the best guide to his own works, and that LRBL does provide a rhetorical account that can be applied to Smith’s other texts. In examining LRBL, this chapter will argue that this is not the case, and that the theory of language presented there is not a helpful one for reading Smith’s texts.