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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Letters 1802
Sydney Smith to Francis Jeffrey, [August] 1802

Author's Preface
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Editor’s Preface
Letters 1801
Letters 1802
Letters 1803
Letters 1804
Letters 1805
Letters 1806
Letters 1807
Letters 1808
Letters 1809
Letters 1810
Letters 1811
Letters 1812
Letters 1813
Letters 1814
Letters 1815
Letters 1816
Letters 1817
Letters 1818
Letters 1819
Letters 1820
Letters 1821
Letters 1822
Letters 1823
Letters 1824
Letters 1825
Letters 1826
Letters 1827
Letters 1828
Letters 1829
Letters 1830
Letters 1831
Letters 1832
Letters 1833
Letters 1834
Letters 1835
Letters 1836
Letters 1837
Letters 1838
Letters 1839
Letters 1840
Letters 1841
Letters 1842
Letters 1843
Letters 1844
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Burnt Island, June, 1802.
My dear Jeffrey,

With the inculpative part of your criticisms on mine I very much agree; and, in particular, am so well aware of that excessive levity into which I am apt to run, that I think I shall correct it.

Upon the point of severity, I beg you to recollect the facts. That —— is a very stupid and a very contemptible fellow no one pretends to deny. He has been hangman for these ten years to all the poor authors in England, is generally considered to be hired by Government, and has talked about Social Order till he has talked himself into £600 or £700 per annum. That there can be a fairer object for critical severity I cannot conceive; and though he be not notorious in Edinburgh, he is certainly so in London. If you think that the violence of the attack may induce the generality of readers to sympathize with the sufferer rather than
with the executioner, in spite of the recollection that the artificer of death is perishing by his own art, then your objections to my criticism are good, for the very opposite reason to that you have alleged; not because they are too severe, but because, by diminishing the malice of the reader, they do not attain the maximum of severity.

You say the readers will think my review long. Probably. If it is amusing, they will not: if it is dull, I am sorry for it,—but I can write no better. I am so desirous of attacking this time-serving ——, that I cannot consent to omit this article, unless my associates consider their moral and religious characters committed by it; at the same time, I will, with great pleasure, attempt to modify it.

I am very much obliged to you for your animadversions on my inaccuracies, and should be obliged to you also to correct them. One of the instances you mention is rather awkward than incorrect, but had better be amended. I wrote my views exactly as you see them; though I certainly made these blunders, not in consequence of neglect, but in spite of attention.

I will come over soon if I can, not to detect Scotticisms, but to enjoy the company of Scotchmen. Just now I am expecting Dugald Stewart and his spouse.

I have been so very bitter lately against authors, and find so much of the infusum amarum still remaining in my style, that I am afraid you will not think my answer to your expostulation a very gracious one. If you do think so, pray think otherwise: you cannot be too candid with me. You will very often find me too vain for correction, but never so blind to the value of a frank and manly character as not to feel real
gratitude, when it consults my good, by pointing out my errors.

Sydney Smith.