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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Letters 1812
Sydney Smith to John Allen, [27] December 1812

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
December 29th, 1812.
My dear Allen,

I thank you sincerely for your friendly and considerate communication respecting the opinion of the Archbishop.

You may easily imagine that I have reflected a good deal upon the expediency of an undertaking so very serious as that of building. I may very likely have determined wrong, but I have determined to the best of my judgment, anxiously and actively exerted. I have no public or private chance of changing my situation for the better; such good fortune may occur, but I have no right to presume upon it. I have waited and tried for six years, and I am bound in common prudence to suppose that my lot is fixed in this land. That being so, what am I to do? I have no certainty of my present house; the distance is a great and serious inconvenience; if I am turned out of it, it will be scarcely possible, in so thinly inhabited a country, to find another. I am totally neglecting my parish. I ought to build; if I were bishop, I would compel a man in my situation to build; and should think that any incumbent acted an ungentlemanlike part who compelled me to compel him, and who did not take up the money which is lent by the Governors of Queen Anne’s bounty for the purpose of building.

Such, I conceived, would be the Archbishop’s opinion of me had I availed myself of his good-nature to apply for perpetual absence from my living, and for permission to live in hired houses. In all conver-
sations I have had with him, he has never discouraged the idea of building, but, on the contrary, always appeared to approve and promote it. I am therefore surprised not a little at what you tell me, and can only interpret it to mean that he would not absolutely have compelled me to build, but that he would have thought it mean and unfair in me not to have made an exertion of that kind. His mere forbearance from the use of authority is an additional reason for beginning. Lastly, I have gone so far that even if the communication were more authorized and direct, I could hardly recede. To kick down the money I have been saving for my family has cost me a great deal of uneasiness, and at one time I had thought of resigning my living. Having now decided according to the best means of an understanding extremely prone to error, nothing remains but to fight through my difficulties as well as I can.

It will give me sincere pleasure to think that you take an interest in my well-doing (not that I doubted it), but a particular instance (like this) is more cheering than a general belief.

Health, happiness, and as many new years as you wish!

Sydney Smith.