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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Letters 1813
Sydney Smith to John Allen, 24 January 1813

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
Bath, January 24th, 1813.
My dear Allen,

Vernon* has mistaken the object of my letter, and I have written to tell him so. I had no other object in writing to him than to say this: “Do not let the Archbishop imagine that I have either conceived or represented myself to be the martyr of his severity. I never thought I should be compelled, though I had no doubt I should be expected, to build, and fairly expected; and when any man who can command me to do a just thing, does not command me because he is afraid of appearing harsh, his forbearance is, and ought to be, as powerful as any mandate.”

Vernon’s reply to my first letter contains an express permission from the Archbishop to recede from my engagement, if I think fit. To this I have answered (with every expression of gratitude for the intention) that it comes too late; that I have incurred expenses and engagements which render it imprudent and impossible to retreat; that had I known myself two years ago to have been a free agent, as I now find I might have been, I would have set myself sincerely to work to find out some habitation without building; that I am convinced his Grace was misled by my light manner of talking of these matters, and never ima-

* Mr. Vernon Harcourt, son of the late Archbishop of York.

gined me to be in earnest, or he would have expressed to me, when I made my promises, his opinion, which I have now received, and through the same friendly channel; lastly, that I believe, after all, I have done the wisest thing, and that by doing and suffering, I have no doubt of scrambling through my difficulties. This, said in as kind and civil a manner as I could adopt, was the substance of my answer to Vernon, and is of course my answer to the very kind and friendly remonstrances I have received from you.

When I say that I shall pass my life at Foston, I by no means intend to take a desponding view of my situation, or to doubt the kindness of those friends whom I love so sincerely, and from whom I have already received obligations which I never can forget while I can remember anything. But their power to do me good depends upon accidents upon which it would be folly in any man to found a regular calculation. Those accidental visitations of fortune are like prizes in the lottery, which must not be put into the year’s income till they turn up. My fancy is my own: I may see as many crosiers in the clouds as I please; but when I sit down seriously to consider what I shall do upon important occasions, I must presume myself rector of Foston for life.

I shall be in town Wednesday night late, and stay only four or five days.

What you say about the Whigs, the measure you take of their usefulness, and of the share of power they may enjoy, is fair and reasonable.

Ever most truly yours,
Sydney Smith.