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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Letters 1809
Sydney Smith to Lady Holland, 9 September 1809

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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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
London, Sept. 9th, 1809.
My dear Lady Holland,

I hear you laugh at me for being happy in the country, and upon this I have a few words to say. In the first place, whether one lives or dies, I hold, and have always held, to be of infinitely less moment than is generally supposed; but if life is to be, then it is common sense to amuse yourself with the best you can find where you happen to be placed. I am not leading precisely the life I should choose, but that which (all things considered, as well as I could consider them) appeared to me to be the most eligible. I am resolved, therefore, to like it, and to reconcile myself to it; which is more manly than to feign myself above it, and to send up complaints by the post, of being thrown away, and being desolate, and such like trash. I am prepared, therefore, either way. If the chances of life ever enable me to emerge, I will show you that I have not been wholly occupied by small and sordid pursuits. If (as the greater probability is) I am come to the end of my career, I give myself quietly up to horticulture, etc. In short, if it be my lot to crawl, I will crawl contentedly; if to fly, I will fly with alacrity; but, as
long as I can possibly avoid it, I will never be unhappy. If, with a pleasant wife, three children, a good house and farm, many books, and many friends, who wish me well, I cannot be happy, I am a very silly, foolish fellow, and what becomes of me is of very little consequence. I have at least this chance of doing well in Yorkshire, that I am heartily tired of London.

I beg pardon for saying so much of myself, but I say it upon this subject once for all.

We had a meeting of our Club last Saturday, and a very agreeable one, where your journey to Spain was criticized at much length. Some inclined to this opinion, others to that,—but upon my mentioning that several agreeable dinners at Holland House were irretrievably lost, there was a perfect unanimity of opinion. Sharpe said, “It was a blow.”

I met —— in the Strand today. He had the two first sheets of his poem in his pocket, and I believe nothing else, for he told me he had spent all his money, and was rather put to it.

Poor Dumont has lost his sister, and is in great affliction; but he dines with me on Saturday, and I hope to raise up the pleasures Nos. 13 and 24.

No news of any kind, except that this pert and silly answer of Canning’s to the citizens has made a considerable impression in the City. Some say that Lord Hawksbury attempted this piece of pertness in imitation of Canning.

I have read the Review, and like the review of Rose exceedingly. How can any one dislike it? Parliamentary Reform exceedingly good, with some objections; Miss Edgeworth over-praised; Strabo, by Payne Knight, excellent; the Bakerian Lectures very good;
Lord Sheffield dull and hot. I am glad you liked Parr.

I am about to open the subject of classical learning in the Review, from which, by some accident or other, it has hitherto abstained. It will give great offence, and therefore be more fit for this journal, the genius of which seems to consist in stroking the animal the contrary way to that which the hair lies.

I dare say it cost you much to part with Charles; but in the present state of the world, it is better to bring up our young ones to war than to peace. I burn gunpowder every day under the nostrils of my little boy, and talk to him often of fighting, to put him out of conceit with civil sciences, and prepare him for the evil times which are coming!

Ever, respectfully and affectionately, your sincere friend,

Sydney Smith.