LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Chapter XI

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
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Letters 1813
Letters 1814
Letters 1815
Letters 1816
Letters 1817
Letters 1818
Letters 1819
Letters 1820
Letters 1821
Letters 1822
Letters 1823
Letters 1824
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Letters 1829
Letters 1830
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Letters 1834
Letters 1835
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Letters 1840
Letters 1841
Letters 1842
Letters 1843
Letters 1844
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After this period, the only things he wrote were a short pamphlet on the ballot, which went through many editions, and had much success; and the Fragment on Ireland, which he left behind, and which my mother published after his death; showing that he died as he had lived, earnest in the cause of religious toleration and the amelioration of Ireland. But though he did not live to see all he wished in Ireland accomplished, yet, as Johnson says, “he who is cut off in the execution of an honest undertaking, has at least the honour of falling in his rank, and has fought the battle, though he missed the victory.”

In the autumn, hearing that his friend Mr. Van de Weyer and his family were coming into the west, my father sent him the following note:—

October, 1843.

“Health to the greatest of diplomatists, and, to the Belgian kingdom, trade, glory, and peace! You must not pass this way without visiting Combe Florey; we shall expect you on the 9th, we dine at seven,—Madame Van de Weyer, you, and the little ambassador. We are six miles from Taunton, and Taunton is an hour and a half from Bristol. If you write to Sweet’s Hotel, they will have horses ready for you, and the people know the way to my house. Pray write a line to say whether we may expect you; we shall be delighted to see you, and truly mortified to miss you.

“Yours ever very truly,
“Sydney Smith.”

They came and spent a day or two with us; days, alas! of incessant rain, putting the charms of the little parsonage to the severest trial. But if it was dark and gloomy without, it was all gaiety and sunshine within; for our guests came disposed to be pleased with everything they found, and the intercourse of two such remarkable men as Mr. Van de Weyer and my father, both loving to exercise their minds on grave and important subjects, and both possessing such a fund of knowledge, wit, anecdote, and clever nonsense, to intermingle with them, made one quite forget the passage of time, and the visit seemed over almost as soon as begun. They left us on the most lovely morning, when Combe Florey had put on her gayest and freshest garb; and carried away, I trust, as agreeable
impressions as they left behind. In the evening of the same day arrived Mr. Van de Weyer’s secretary, bearing a summons to Windsor, which, owing to Mr. Van de Weyer’s movements, had remained some days unnoticed, and it became necessary to follow him to Bowood immediately. But as Mr. De la P—— could not arrive till one or two in the morning, my father thought
Madame Van de Weyer might be much alarmed by suddenly hearing, in the middle of the night, that a messenger had arrived from home, and it was agreed that Mr. De la P—— should send in the following note, to set their minds at ease.

“Dear Van de Weyer,

“Long live the Belgic lion! long may he roar over the tiger of Prance! You are wanted at Windsor. De la P—— is below. The young ambassador and all the children, and all the grandpapas, are quite well. There is an air of piety in De la P—— that is very agreeable to me.

“Ever yours,
“Sydney Smith.”

“Get up immediately.”

And he wrote at more length, to explain, as he says, his share in the transaction.

“Dear Van de Weyer,

“Let me explain my share in the proceedings. Between five and six o’clock appeared, in a fly, a grave
person, who denominated himself Octave de la P——, in search of you. I concluded, by the solemnity of his aspect, that he was come to announce the last days of the Belgian monarchy. On the contrary, it was to carry you off to the Castle at Windsor. He could not go from hence, seeing the time of his arrival, till the eleven o’clock train; and as he was resolute to have you, and I believe Madame also, in London by six o’clock tomorrow, we agreed that nothing remained but to proceed to Chippenham in the train, to extract you from Bowood, and to convey you to the Metropolis. I told him he would be most probably shot at Bowood by the watchman; but he declared that his papers were all in order, and to die in the performance of his duty was a glorious death for a Belgian. I wrote a jocular note to send up to your bedside, that you might not be alarmed about your children.

“If Octave de la P—— has perished in the invasion of Bowood, I certify that he died with the deepest admiration of the ever-memorable Belgic revolution.

“Yours very truly,
“Sydney Smith.”
October 12th, 1843.”

A short time before my father’s death, Lord Jeffrey had likewise made a collection of his contributions to the Edinburgh Review; which collection he did my father the honour to dedicate to him, and, by a few words in it, confirmed my father’s account of its origin.
I have heard my father say that there was hardly any event in the whole course of his life, that had gratified him more deeply than this dedication from his old friend, Lord Jeffrey.

As I am anxious to make this sketch of my father as complete as possible, I shall here insert a few extracts from a letter, containing his recollections of him, written at my request by Lord Murray; who speaks not only with the authority of his own high character, but of early acquaintance, and an unbroken friendship of half a century.

Sydney’s acute and almost intuitive perception of character made him at once detect whatever was fictitious or assumed; but though this never escaped his keen observation, he was, I firmly believe, more severe towards himself than he was ever towards any other person. His disgust at hypocrisy made him so anxious to avoid the semblance of any attempt to appear better than he was, that he did not always do himself justice. Many, I should say most, of his just or benevolent actions were only known to his most intimate friends, and that accidentally.* The goodness of his heart was only revealed by his acts.

“He was so free and open in discourse, that he gave all manner of advantage to those who were disposed to distrust a person overflowing in genial wit and humour.

* Many as I have told, how many more I have been obliged to suppress, from reasons easily understood!—Author.


“Though Sydney Smith could not avoid being conscious of his great powers of writing and speaking, I firmly believe that his estimate of himself and of his own character were truly humble. He was ready to acknowledge the superiority of persons whose abilities were inferior to his own. He claimed little more for himself than practical common sense; but though this was all he claimed, he could not help clothing his sound sense with language which was beautiful, and at the same time more witty and humorous than that of other men. Yet, putting himself lower in the scale, I believe, than he had a fair right to be, he never acquiesced in any opinions in which he did not agree, though coming from the highest station, either secular or clerical. The higher they were, the more he considered it his duty to discuss and examine the opinions they proclaimed to the public. In doing so he felt he was vindicating the rights of the humblest curate in the Church, or defending those who could not defend themselves from the attacks of men in high stations, who often made them in places where they could not be otherwise refuted.

“Whether he did not render a greater service to the public and to his profession by this intrepid conduct, than he could have done by the most respectful and submissive silence, it is for others to determine; but his fearless assertion of what he conceived to be the right, is perfectly consistent with the most modest estimate of his own merits.

Sydney Smith thought it right and honest to act
openly, and avow whatever he wrote, without regard to any personal consequence that might result to himself. There are some men who, if a serious truth is to be supported or enforced, insist that every argument or illustration should be equally solemn and grave. They forget that a person of Sydney Smith’s powers would be but half an ally if he did not employ the wit and humour with which he was endowed to enforce truth or expose pretension. Such men would prefer the dullest argument to the most withering and convincing exposure of a fallacy.

“A foreigner, on one occasion, indulging in sceptical doubts of the existence of an overruling Providence in his presence, Sydney, who had observed him evidently well satisfied with his repast, said, ‘You must admit there is great genius and thought in that dish.’ ‘Admirable!’ he replied; ‘nothing can be better.’ ‘May I then ask, are you prepared to deny the existence of the cook?’—Many anecdotes equally characteristic might be furnished by his old friends, but I fear to repeat what you may have already been told, and have merely hinted at some traits of Sydney’s character known only to his most intimate friends.”

The following is an extract from some lines written on receiving the present of my father’s garden-chair, after his death, from the Rector of Combe Florey, by a friend and neighbour:—
“Thanks for thy gift! ’t will ofttimes bring to mind
A friend who was the friend of human kind;
A man who had no equal amongst men,
Whene’er he chose to wield the moral pen.
For wit, truth, genius, courage, all conspired
To make (and made at last) a sage inspired,
Whom wise men loved, and even wits admired.
“Whate’er was true, he loved; but all pretence,
Pride without merit, learning without sense,
Small niggard piety, which deals in tracts,
And substitutes cant words for Christian acts,
He hated. And most holy war did wage
With each Tartuffe, who shamed our English stage.
“Peace to his spirit! many a year will run
Into oblivion ere another sun
Like his will rise and lend the world its light.
Honour to him! to thee thanks, and good-night!”

I find some lines in a letter from Lady Carlisle (one of the kindest and warmest of my father’s friends) to my mother, written soon after his death, on passing within sight of Foston. They have been carefully preserved by my mother; and though meant for no eye but hers, my father so valued any proof of Lady Carlisle’s regard, that I must not omit them here.
“Is that the roof, to friendship dear,
Where Genius once, with matchless ray,
Illumined all within its sphere,
And all was brilliant, all was gay?
“Yes! there the joyous laugh was raised,
And converse held with social glee.
Sydney, by wits and sages praised,
Shall still be loved and mourned by me.”

I might, to those little tributes of affection which I
have already given, add such a list of mourners for his loss (whose letters have all been preserved by my poor mother*), as would claim respect for any life, and do honour to any grave. But if I have not already succeeded in showing by his actions how worthy he was to be respected in life, and to be mourned in death, I fear I shall derive little aid even from such names, and might run the risk of wearying my readers. I will therefore go on with what little remains to tell of my narrative.

My father “was sitting at breakfast one morning in the library at Combe Florey,” said Mrs. Marcet, who was staying with us, “when a poor woman came, begging him to christen a new-born infant, without loss of time, as she thought it was dying. Mr. Smith instantly emitted the breakfast-table for this purpose, and went off to her cottage. On his return, we inquired in what state he had left the poor babe. ‘Why,’ said he, ‘I first gave it a dose of castor-oil, and then I christened it; so now the poor child is ready for either world.’”

I long to give some sketch of these breakfasts, and the mode of life at Combe Florey, where there were

* After my father’s death, it was the great comfort and occupation of my mother’s life to collect and arrange my father’s letters and papers, for the purpose of this Memoir, and her labours have contributed not a little towards its accomplishment. In one of her letters to me, my mother says, “You know the great occupation of my life has been to collect materials for some future memorial of my noble-hearted husband.” And again, “Time goes rapidly on; I tremble at each day’s delay. To have this matter unsettled is the only thing that makes death terrible.”

often assembled guests that would have made any table agreeable anywhere; but it would be difficult to convey an adequate idea of the beauty, gaiety, and happiness of the scene in which they took place, or the charm that he infused into the society assembled round his breakfast-table. The room, an oblong, was, as I have already described, surrounded on three sides by books, and ended in a bay-window opening into the garden: not brown, dark, dull-looking volumes, but all in the brightest bindings; for he carried his system of furnishing for gaiety even to the dress of his books.

He would come down into this long, low room in the morning like a “giant refreshed to run his course,” bright and happy as the scene around him. “Thank God for Combe Florey!” he would exclaim, throwing himself into his red arm-chair, and looking round; “I feel like a bridegroom in the honeymoon.” And in truth I doubt if ever bridegroom felt so joyous, or at least made others feel so joyous, as he did on these occasions. “Ring the bell, Saba;” the usual refrain, by the bye, in every pause, for he contrived to keep everybody actively employed around him, and nobody ever objected to be so employed. “Ring the bell, Saba.” Enter the servant, D——. “D——, glorify the room.”* This meant that the three Venetian windows of the bay were to be flung open, displaying the garden

* On reading this passage to two very sensible persons, I was advised to omit this expression, as it might give offence. At first I did so, but on reflection I am inclined to say, with our old English motto, “Honi soit qui mal y pense!” In my father’s mouth it meant only “Let in the glorious light and the beautiful world;” and instead of

on every side, and letting in a blaze of sunshine and flowers. D—— glorifies the room with the utmost gravity, and departs. “You would not believe it,” he said, “to look at him now, but D—— is a reformed Quaker. Yes, he quaked, or did quake; his brother quakes still: but D—— is now thoroughly orthodox. I should not like to be a Dissenter in his way; he is to be one of my vergers at St. Paul’s some day. Lady B—— calls them my virgins. She asked me the other day, ‘Pray,
Mr. Smith, is it true that you walk down St. Paul’s with three virgins holding silver pokers before you?’ I shook my head, and looked very grave, and bid her come and see. Some enemy of the Church, some Dissenter, had clearly been misleading her.”

“There, now,” sitting down at the breakfast-table, “take a lesson of economy. You never breakfasted in a parsonage before, did you? There, you see, my china is all white, so if broken can always be renewed; the same with my plates at dinner: did you observe my plates? every one a different pattern, some of them sweet articles; it was a pleasure to dine upon such a plate as I had last night. It is true, Mrs. Sydney, who is a great herald, is shocked because some of them have the arms of a royal duke or a knight of the garter on them, but that does not signify to me. My plan is to go into a china-shop and bid them show me

anything irreverent, his heart was overflowing with gratitude and happiness, and he thanked God with his whole heart for the beautiful world in which he had placed him.

every plate they have which does not cost more than half-a-crown: you see the result.”

“I think breakfasts so pleasant because no one is conceited before one o’clock.”

Mrs. Marcet admired his ham. “Oh,” said he, “our hams are the only true hams; yours are Shems and Japhets.”

Some one, speaking of the character and writings of Mr. ——: “Yes, I have the greatest possible respect for him; but, from his feeble voice, he always reminds me of a liberal blue-bottle fly. He gets his head down and his hand on your button, and pours into you an uninterrupted stream of Whiggism in a low buzz. I have known him intimately, and conversed constantly with him for the last thirty years, and give him credit for the most enlightened mind, and a genuine love of public virtue; but I can safely say that during that period I have never heard one single syllable he has uttered.”

Mrs. Marcet complaining she could not sleep: “I can furnish you,” he said, “with a perfect soporific. I have published two volumes of sermons; take them to bed with you. I recommended them once to Blanco White, and before the third page he was fast.”

“This is the only sensible spring I remember (1840): it is a real March of intellect.”

“If I were to select a figure to go through life with, I think it should be Windham’s figure and Canning’s face.”

“I make it a rule to endure no evil that can be re-
medied. D—— laughs at me for my inventions and contrivances; but what is the consequence of his indolence? I go to his house, and find him sitting in his arm-chair, waging war against human existence, and a prey to blue-devils; and all because his pens won’t write, his ink won’t mark, his sealing-wax won’t melt, his fires won’t burn, his blinds won’t pull up or down, and his windows and doors won’t open and shut,—evils which a nail, a drop of water, or five minutes’ exertion would have remedied.”

On seeing a very foolish letter by an acquaintance in the newspapers: “There! read that! what incredible folly! You pity a man who is lame or blind, but you never pity him for being a fool, which is often a much greater misfortune.”

Miss Fox was mentioned, who was at that time at Bowood: “Oh, she is perfection; she always gives me the idea of an aged angel.”

Some one speaking of the utility of a measure, and quoting ——’s opinion: “Yes, he is of the Utilitarian school. That man is so hard you might drive a broad-wheeled waggon over him, and it would produce no impression; if you were to bore holes in him with a gimlet, I am convinced sawdust would come out of him. That school treat mankind as if they were mere machines; the feelings or affections never enter into their calculations. If everything is to be sacrificed to utility, why do you bury your grandmother at all? why don’t you cut her into small pieces at once, and make portable soup of her?


“By the bye, talking of portable soup, my great neighbour, Lord D——, found it necessary to look a little into his establishment; and the first discovery he made was that his cook had for some years been contracting to furnish the navy with portable soup, not made of grandmothers, but at his expense.”

“I always say to young people, Beware of carelessness, no fortune will stand it long; you are on the high road to ruin, the moment you think yourself rich enough to be careless.”

Speaking of education: “Never teach false morality. How exquisitely absurd to tell girls that beauty is of no value, dress of no use! Beauty is of value; her whole prospects and happiness in life may often depend upon a new gown or a becoming bonnet, and if she has five grains of common sense she will find this out, The great thing is to teach her their just value, and that there must be something better under the bonnet than a pretty face for real happiness. But never sacrifice truth.”

Talking of beauty of style: “What so beautiful as that of the Bible? what poetry in its language and ideas!” and taking it down from the bookcase behind him, he read, with his beautiful voice, and in his most impressive manner, several of his favourite passages; amongst others I remember—“Thou shall rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of an old man;” and part of that most beautiful of Psalms, the 139th:—“O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my down-sitting and mine up-
rising; thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. . . . Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me, even the night shall be light about me; yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee;”—putting the Bible again on the shelf.

“There is one thing I feel very grateful to my father for—having taught me the habit of immediately hunting out any object I found myself ignorant of.” “Remember that, F—— (addressing one of his grandsons); I have found it most useful: never submit to be ignorant when you have knowledge at your elbow.”

Talking of punishments: “Ah! that is all very well; but who punishes the bore, let me ask? There is no social crime committed with such impunity.”

“Have you never observed what a dislike servants have to anything cheap? they hate saving their masters’ money. I tried this experiment with great success the other day. Finding we consumed a great deal of soap, I sat down in my thinking-chair, and took the soap question into consideration, and I found reason to suspect that we were using a very expensive
article, where a much cheaper one would serve the purpose better. I ordered half-a-dozen pounds of both sorts, but took the precaution of changing the papers on which the prices were marked, before giving them into the hands of Betty. ‘Well, Betty, which soap do you find washes best?’ ‘Oh, please Sir, the dearest, in the blue paper; it makes a lather as well again as the other.’ ‘Well, Betty, you shall always have it, then;’ and thus the unsuspecting Betty saved me some pounds a year, and washed the clothes better.”

“No; very few people ever were so wise as Abercrombie looked, as Fox said of Thurlow.”

On his little granddaughter running up to kiss him: “Children are excellent physiognomists, and soon discover their real friends. Luttrell calls them all lunatics; and so, in fact, they are. What is childhood but a series of happy delusions?”

“It is lamentable to see how ignorant the poor are. I do not mean of reading and writing, but about the common affairs of life. They are as helpless as children in all difficulties. Nothing would be so useful as some short and cheap book, to instruct them what to do, to whom to go, and to give them a little advice; I mean, mere practical advice. I have begun something of this sort for my parishioners; here it is.

Advice to Parishioners.

“If you begin stealing a little, you will go on from little to much, and soon become a regular thief; and
then you will be hanged, or sent over seas to Botany Bay. And give me leave to tell you, transportation is no joke. Up at five in the morning, dressed in a jacket half blue half yellow, chained on to another person like two dogs, a man standing over you with a great stick, weak porridge for breakfast, bread and water for dinner, boiled beans for supper, straw to lie upon; and all this for thirty years; and then you are hanged there by order of the governor, without judge or jury. All this is very disagreeable, and you had far better avoid it by making a solemn resolution to take nothing which does not belong to you.

“Never sit in wet clothes. Off with them as soon as you can: no constitution can stand it. Look at Jackson, who lives next door to the blacksmith; he was the strongest man in the parish. Twenty different times I warned him of his folly in wearing wet clothes. He pulled off his hat and smiled, and was very civil, but clearly seemed to think it all old woman’s nonsense. He is now, as you see, bent double with rheumatism, is living upon parish allowance, and scarcely able to crawl from pillar to post.

“Off with your hat when you meet a gentleman. What does it cost? Gentlemen notice these things, are offended if the civility is not paid, and pleased if it is; and what harm does it do you? When first I came to this parish, Squire Tempest wanted a postilion. John Barton was a good, civil fellow; and in thinking over the names of the village, the Squire thought of Barton, remembered his constant civility,
sent for one of his sons, made him postilion, then coachman, then bailiff, and he now holds a farm under the Squire of £500 per annum. Such things are constantly happening.

“I will have no swearing. There is pleasure in a pint of ale, but what pleasure is there in an oath? A swearer is a low, vulgar person. Swearing is fit for a tinker or a razor-grinder, not for an honest labourer in my parish.

“I must positively forbid all poaching; it is absolute ruin to yourself and your family. In the end you are sure to be detected,—a hare in one pocket and a pheasant in the other. How are you to pay ten pounds? You have not ten pence beforehand in the world. Daniel’s breeches are unpaid for; you have a hole in your hat, and want a new one; your wife, an excellent woman, is about to lie in,—and you are, all of a sudden, called upon by the Justice to pay ten pounds. I shall never forget the sight of poor Cranford, hurried to Taunton Gaol; a wife and three daughters on their knees to the Justice, who was compelled to do his duty, and commit him. The next day, beds, chairs, and clothes sold, to get the father out of gaol. Out of gaol he came; but the poor fellow could not bear the sight of his naked cottage, and to see his family pinched with hunger. You know how he ended his days. Was there a dry eye in the churchyard when he was buried? It was a lesson to poachers. It is indeed a desperate and foolish trade. Observe, I am not defending the game-laws, but I am
advising you, as long as the game-laws exist, to fear them, and to take care that you and your family are not crushed by them. And, then, smart stout young men hate the gamekeeper, and make it a point of courage and spirit to oppose him. Why? The gamekeeper is paid to protect the game, and he would be a very dishonest man if he did not do his duty. What right have you to bear malice against him for this? After all, the game in justice belongs to the landowners, who feed it; and not to you, who have no land at all, and can feed nothing.

“I don’t like that red nose, and those blear eyes, and that stupid downcast look. You are a drunkard. Another pint, and one pint more; a glass of gin and water, rum and milk, cider and pepper, a glass of peppermint, and all the beastly fluids which drunkards pour down their throats. It is very possible to conquer it, if you will but be resolute. I remember a man in Staffordshire who was drunk every day of his life. Every farthing he earned went to the alehouse. One evening he staggered home, and found at a late hour his wife sitting alone, and drowned in tears. He was a man not deficient in natural affections; he appeared to be struck with the wretchedness of the woman, and with some eagerness asked her why she was crying. ‘I don’t like to tell you, James,’ she said, ‘but if I must, I must; and truth is, my children have not touched a morsel of anything this blessed day. As for me, never mind me; I must leave you to guess how it has fared with me. But not one mor-
sel of food could I beg or buy for those children that lie on that bed before you; and I am sure, James, it is better for us all we should die, and to my soul I wish we were dead.’ ‘Dead!’ said James, starting up as if a flash of lightning had darted upon him; ‘dead, Sally! You, and Mary, and the two young ones dead? Lookye, my lass, you see what I am now,—like a brute. I have wasted your substance,—the curse of God is upon me,—I am drawing near to the pit of destruction,—but there’s an end; I feel there’s an end. Give me that glass, wife.’ She gave it him with astonishment and fear. He turned it topsy-turvy; and, striking the table with great violence, and flinging himself on his knees, made a most solemn and affecting vow to God of repentance and sobriety. From that moment to the day of his death he drank no fermented liquor, but confined himself entirely to tea and water.* I never saw so sudden and astonishing a change. His looks became healthy, his cottage neat, his children were clad, his wife was happy; and twenty times the poor man and his wife, with tears in their eyes, have told me the story, and blessed the evening of the fourteenth of March, the day of James’s restoration, and have shown me the glass he held in his hand when he made the vow of sobriety. It is all nonsense about not being able to work without ale, and gin, and cider, and fermented liquors. Do lions and cart-horses drink ale? It is mere habit. If you have good nourishing food, you

* A fact.

can do very well without ale. Nobody works harder than the Yorkshire people, and for years together there are many Yorkshire labourers who never taste ale. I have no objection, you will observe, to a moderate use of ale, or any other liquor you can afford to purchase. My objection is, that you cannot afford it; that every penny you spend at the ale-house comes out of the stomachs of the poor children, and strips off the clothes of the wife.

“My dear little Nanny, don’t believe a word he says. He merely means to ruin and deceive you. You have a plain answer to give:—‘When I am axed in the church, and the parson has read the service, and all about it is written down in the book, then I will listen to your nonsense, and not before.’ Am not I a Justice of the Peace, and have not I had a hundred foolish girls brought before me, who have all come with the same story?—‘Please, your Worship, he is a false man; he promised me marriage over and over again.’ I confess I have often wished for the power of hanging these rural lovers. But what use is my wishing? All that can be done with the villain is to make him pay half-a-crown a week, and you are handed over to the poor-house, and to infamy. Will no example teach you? Look to Mary Willet,—three years ago the handsomest and best girl in the village, now a slattern in the poor-house! Look at Harriet Dobson, who trusted in the promises of James Harefield’s son, and, after being abandoned by him, went away in despair with a party of soldiers! How can you be
such a fool as to surrender your character to the stupid flattery of a ploughboy? If the evening is pleasant, and birds sing, and flowers bloom, is that any reason why you are to forget God’s Word, the happiness of your family, and your own character? What is a woman worth without character? A profligate carpenter, or a debauched watchmaker, may gain business from their skill; but how is a profligate woman to gain her bread? Who will receive her?

“But this is enough of my parish advice.”——

“Have you observed that nothing can be done in England without a dinner? When first I came to Bristol, I found it was dinner all the day. Not the appetite of an alderman could have got through them, or the stomach of an ostrich digested them. I examined into their objects, and found the expenses of the greater part exceeded the sum collected for the charities for whose benefit we dined. All such I refused to dine at, or subscribe to, and I daresay was considered a monster in consequence. However, it is quite true what Frere says: ‘An Englishman opens, like an oyster, with a knife and fork; one never knows what is in a man till these two agents are in active employment.’

“When I hear the rustics yawn audibly at my sermons, it reminds me of Lord Ellenborough, who, on seeing Lord —— gape during his own long and dull speech, said, ‘Well, I must own there is some taste in that, but is not Lord —— rather encroaching on our privileges?’


“It is a curious fact that the peasantry in England apply the masculine and feminine gender to things, like the French. My schoolmistress here, a very respectable young woman, hurt her leg. I inquired how she was, the other day; she answered, ‘He was very bad; he gave her a deal of trouble at night.’ I inquired who, in some surprise; and found it was her leg. If I complain of want of punctuality, the servants say, “’Tis long of the clock, Sir. She has gone quite wrong; she’s always going wrong.’

“Some of the words used by the peasantry are very expressive: insense, for example, is to get the sense into a man. ‘Well, John,’ I sometimes say, ‘have you insensed that man?’ ‘Yes, your honour; and he teld me he could na understand your honour na more than if ye were a Frenchman.’”

Some one mentioned that a young Scotchman, who had been lately in the neighbourhood, was about to marry an Irish widow, double his age and of considerable dimensions. “Going to marry her!” he exclaimed, bursting out laughing; “going to marry her! impossible! you mean, a part of her: he could not marry her all himself. It would be a case, not of bigamy, but trigamy; the neighbourhood or the magistrates should interfere. There is enough of her to furnish wives for a whole parish. One man marry her!—it is monstrous. You might people a colony with her; or give an assembly with her; or perhaps take your morning’s walk round her, always provided there were frequent resting-places, and you were in rude health. I
once was rash enough to try walking round her before breakfast, but only got half-way and gave it up exhausted. Or you might read the Riot Act and disperse her; in short, you might do anything with her but marry her.” “Oh, Mr.
Sydney!” said a young lady, recovering from the general laugh, “did you make all that yourself?” “Yes, Lucy,” throwing himself back in his chair and shaking with laughter, “all myself, child; all my own thunder. Do you think, when I am about to make a joke, I send for my neighbours C. and G., or consult the clerk and churchwardens upon it? But let us go into the garden;” and, all laughing till we cried, without hats or bonnets, we sallied forth out of his glorified window into the garden.

Opposite was a beautiful bank with a hanging wood of fine old beech and oak, on the summit of which presented themselves, to our astonished eyes, two donkeys, with deer’s antlers fastened on their heads, which ever and anon they shook, much wondering at their horned honours; whilst their attendant donkey-boy, in Sunday garb, stood grinning and blushing at their side. “There, Lady ——! you said the only thing this place wanted to make it perfect was deer; what do you say now? I have, you see, ordered my gamekeeper to drive my deer into the most picturesque point of view. Excuse their long ears, a little peculiarity belonging to parsonic deer. Their voices, too, are singular; but we do our best for you, and you are too true a friend of the Church to mention our defects.”
All this, of course, amidst shouts of laughter, whilst his own merry laugh might be heard above us all, ringing through the valley, and making the very echoes laugh in chorus.

Then wandering on a little further, his black crutch-stick in his hand, and his white hairs blown about by the soft Somersetshire wind: “It must be admitted,” said he, “if the mind vegetates, the body rejoices, in the country. What an air this is! Our climate is so mild, that myrtles and geraniums stand out all the winter; and the effects of it on the human constitution are such, that Lady ——, a model of female virtue, who never gave that excellent baronet, her husband, a moment’s anxiety, declared to me with a deep sigh, after a week’s residence here, that she must go, for she felt all her principles melting away under its influence. Some of my Scotch friends, it is true, complain that it is too enervating; but they are but northern barbarians, after all, and like to breathe their air raw. We civilized people of the south prefer it cooked.”

On observing some of the autumn crocus in flower, he stopped: “There!” he said, “who would guess the virtue of that little plant? But I find the power of colchicum so great, that if I feel a little gout coming on, I go into the garden, and hold out my toe to that plant, and it gets well directly. I never do more without orders from head-quarters. Oh! when I have the gout, I feel as if I was walking on my eyeballs.”

Going a few steps further: “There, now lift your eyes, and tell me where another parsonage-house in
England has such a view as that to boast of. What can Pall Mall or Piccadilly produce to rival it? The church, too, which you see;—it must be a satisfaction to your ladyship to find yourself so near the church. When first I came here, all that view was shut out by trees. I saw at one glance what was to be done. I called for Jack Spratt, my carpenter, and his hatchet.
Saba was in tears, Mrs. Sydney in hysterics, all the family in despair; but I hardened my heart, Jack Spratt cut vigorously, at every stroke the view became more lovely, and now the whole family are converts and deny the tears.”

“Did you say, a Quaker baby? Impossible! there is no such thing; there never was; they are always born broad-brimmed and in full quake. . . . Well, all I can say is, I never saw one; and what is still more remarkable, I never met with any one who had. Do you believe in it? Lady Morley does not. Have you heard the report that they are fed on drab-coloured pap? It must be this that gives them their beautiful complexion. I have a theory about them and bluecoat boys, which I will tell you some day.”

“Yes, it requires a long apprenticeship to speak well in the House of Commons. It is the most formidable ordeal in the world. Few men have succeeded who entered it late in life; Jeffrey is perhaps the best exception. Bobus used to say that there was more sense and good taste in the whole House, than in any one individual of which it was composed.”

“We are told, ‘Let not the sun go down on your wrath.’ This of course is best; but, as it generally
does, I would add, Never act or write till it has done so. This rule has saved me from many an act of folly. It is wonderful what a different view we take of the same event four-and-twenty hours after it has happened.”

“Yes, I think the Duke of —— wore his rank most gracefully. I have heard that he was once mounting his horse, in company with the Archbishop of York, and desired the groom to let go the rein. The groom stupidly retained it. The nobleman snatched it with some violence, and, riding off, called him a fool. He had hardly proceeded a hundred yards, when he stopped, saying, ‘Why did I call that man a fool? I daresay he is not so great a fool as I am.’ He instantly turned his horse, galloped after the man, and made his peace with a kind word and half-a-crown.”

This pretty trait reminds me of what I have not unfrequently seen in my father, and think I may mention here; for though it is not the part of a daughter to reveal faults, yet a fault nobly repaired or repented of, adds to the respect and interest which a character inspires. My father was by nature quick and hasty, yet he always struggled against it; made many regulations to avoid exciting such feelings; and when he did give way, it often excited my admiration to see him gradually subduing his chafed spirit, and to observe his dissatisfaction with himself till he had humbled himself and made his peace, it mattered not with whom, groom or child. He could not bear the reproaches of his own heart.

“In this hard, rough, every-day working world, the
object of education should not be, as it so often is, to excite and sharpen the acute feelings of a young person, but to calm and blunt them; preserving only those warm and generous feelings which give strength and courage to perform the great duties of life.”

“Once, when talking with Lord on the subject of Bible names, I could not remember the name of one of Job’s daughters. ‘Kezia,’ said he immediately. Surprised, I congratulated him upon being so well read in Bible lore. ‘Oh!’ said he, ‘my three greyhounds are named after Job’s daughters.’”

“Ah!” said my father, on taking us round his farm, “you will find it is a formidable undertaking to visit an improver; we spare you nothing, from the garret to the pig-stye. It is like a Frenchman’s explanation; they never give you credit for knowing the commonest facts. C’est toujours, ‘Commençons au déluge.’ My heart sinks when a Frenchman begins, ‘Mon ami, je vais vous expliquer tout cela.’ A fellow-traveller once explained to me how to cut a sandwich, all the way from Amiens to Paris.”

“Yes, he was a clever and liberal man, but his wife was a much more remarkable woman; she had a truly porcelain understanding.”

“True, it is most painful not to meet the kindness and affection you feel you have deserved and have a right to expect from others; but it is a mistake to complain of it, for it is of no use: you cannot extort friendship with a cocked pistol.”

On some one of his guests lamenting they had left
something behind: “Ah!” he said, “that would not have happened if you had had a screaming gate.” “A screaming gate? what do you mean,
Mr. Smith?” “Yes, everybody should have a screaming gate. We all arrived once at a friend’s house just before dinner, hot, tired, and dusty,—a large party assembled,—and found all the keys of our trunks had been left behind; since then I have established a screaming gate. We never set out on our journey now without stopping at a gate about ten minutes’ distance from the house, to consider what we have left behind: the result has been excellent.”

“Nothing is so tiresome to me as a person who is always talking Phœbuses; I prefer plain honest dulness a thousand times.”

“Cultivate the love of reading in a young person; it is an unceasing source of pleasure, and probably of innocence.”

“Yes, it was a mistake to write any more. He was a one-book man. Some men have only one book in them; others, a library.”

“I believe one of the Duke of Wellington’s earliest victories was at Eton, over my eldest brother, Bobus. I have heard that the Duke reminded him of it on seeing him accidentally in society many years after the Spanish campaigns.”

On meeting a young lady who had just entered the garden, and shaking hands with her: “I must,” he said, “give you a lesson in shaking hands, I see. There is nothing more characteristic than shakes of
the hand. I have classified them.
Lister, when he was here, illustrated some of them. Ask Mrs. Sydney to show you his sketches of them when you go in. There is the high official,—the body erect, and a rapid, short shake, near the chin. There is the mort-main,—the flat hand introduced into your palm, and hardly conscious of its contiguity. The digital,—one finger held out, much used by the high clergy. There is the shakus rusticus, where your hand is seized in an iron grasp, betokening rude health, warm heart, and distance from the Metropolis; but producing a strong sense of relief on your part when you find your hand released and your fingers unbroken. The next to this is the retentive shake,—one which, beginning with vigour, pauses as it were to take breath, but without relinquishing its prey, and before you are aware begins again, till you feel anxious as to the result, and have no shake left in you. There are other varieties, but this is enough for one lesson.”

On examining some new flowers in the garden, a beautiful girl, who was of the party, exclaimed, “Oh, Mr. Sydney! this pea will never come to perfection.” “Permit me, then,” said he, gently taking her hand and walking towards the plant, “to lead perfection to the pea.”

“I think an office for marriage would be a very good thing. I am sure I could marry people much better than they marry themselves; young people are so absurd, and accept and refuse for such foolish reasons. I wish, Miss ——, you would employ me; I have suc-
ceeded admirably already on two occasions: will you take my advice?” “Oh yes,
Mr. Sydney.” “Well, then, we will have a little private conversation, and consider your case; but now I must go and look after my parish.”

“After luncheon may I have the honour of driving you round my wood?” (addressing one of the ladies). “David, bring me my hat.” And with his crutch-stick in his hand, he sallied forth into his parish, where he always seemed to carry comfort and pleasure into every cottage he entered, for he brought what the poor value so highly, and so seldom obtain—sympathy. He appeared, and was, interested in their concerns. When he sat down in a cottage, nothing escaped his eye: Solomon’s Temple in rockwork,—the Prodigal Son on the wall,—the old woman in the ingle-nook,—the dirty, rosy infant on the floor, all came in for a share of his notice.

“Why, John, I took you for a general officer at least, in that new red waistcoat; but, John, I think there is a touch of pride in those brass buttons, don’t you?” “Na, your honour, there beant,” said John, highly gratified, and grinning from ear to ear. “Well, and how do you do?” to the old woman. “Oh! the stuff your honour sent did me a world of good.” “Ah, I thought it would reach the right spot, Dame; well, then, you must send the bottle for some more.”

“At this time,” writes Mrs. Marcet, “he was in the habit of spending half an hour every morning with a
young workman who was in the last stage of consumption; ‘part of that time,’ he said, ‘was spent in preparing him for another world, and part in endeavouring to render his last days in this as cheerful and as happy as he could.’ He used to stop and talk to the children of the village as he passed along the road. He always kept a box of sugar-plums in his pocket for these occasions, and often some rosy-faced urchin was made happy by sharing its contents, or obtaining a penny to buy a tart. ‘Let it be large and full of juice, Johnny,’ he would say, ‘so that it may run down both corners of the mouth.’ Stopping another: ‘What do you call me? who am I?’ ‘Why, we calls you the Parson Doctor.’ ‘Oh, you little rogue!’ pinching his check smilingly, and holding up his fist at him, ‘I will send you a dose when I go home.’

“At last he returned, and presently might be heard the cry of ‘Jack Spratt!’—a few minutes after,’ Betty Loch!’ (the garden-woman); then ‘Bunch!’ (now converted into a cook); then ‘Annie Kay!’ Shortly after he would come up into the drawing-room with a large manuscript book in his hand, and, seating himself in an arm-chair, look round upon us. ‘What are you reading?’ ‘The Life of Franklin.’ ‘Oh, that is right. I recommend the study of Franklin to all young people; he was a real philanthropist, a wonderful man. It has been said, that it was honour enough to any one country to have produced such a man as Franklin. I think all young people should read the Spectator, too,—a paper a day; I always did.’


“On Miss ——, and her friend Dr. ——’s daughter passing through the room, some one remarked what a pretty contrast their different styles of beauty made. “Yes,’ he said, ‘Miss —— reminds me of a youthful Minerva; and her friend, as Dr. ——’s daughter, must be, you know, the Venus de Medicis.’

“Talking of Switzerland: ‘Well, what are they doing now in the irritable little republic? They say a change in the hour of shutting the gates convulsed the whole canton of Geneva. Have they deposed M—— yet? You remember ——’s answer, when they sent him a decree that he could not be permitted to fire in the republic? “Very well,” said he, “it makes no sort of difference to me; I can very easily fire over the republic.”

“Some one mentioning a marriage about to take place: ‘Why, it is like the union of an acid and an alkali; the result must be a tertium quid, or neutral salt.’

“‘What a beautiful thought (reading from a book in his hand): a sun-beam passes through pollution unpolluted.’

“‘Ah! what female heart can withstand a red-coat? I think this should be a part of female education; it is much neglected. As you have the rocking-horse to accustom them to ride, I would have military dolls in the nursery, to harden their hearts against officers and red-coats. I found myself in company with some officers at the country-house of a friend once; and as the repast advanced, the colonel became very elo-
quent, and communicated to us a military definition of vice and virtue. “Vice,” he said, “was a d—d cocked-tailed fellow; and virtue,” said he (striking the table with his fist, to enforce the description), “was a fellow fenced about for the good of the service.” We all burst into such an uncontrollable paroxysm of laughter, that I began to fear the honest colonel might think it for the good of the service to shoot us through the head; so, for the good of the Church, hastened to agree with him, and we parted very good friends.’

“‘Yes, Mr. —— has great good sense, but I never met a manner more entirely without frill.’

“Talking of Lord Denman: ‘What a face he has! how well he looks his part! He is stamped by nature for a Chief Justice. He is an honourable, high-minded man. I have a great respect for him.’

“‘I will explain it to you,’ said Mr. D——. ‘Oh, pray don’t, my dear D——,’ said Sydney laughing; ‘I did understand a little about the Scotch kirk before you undertook to explain it to me yesterday; but now my mind is like a London fog on the subject.’

“‘But I came up to speak to Annie Kay. Where is Annie Kay? Ring the bell for Annie Kay.’ Kay appeared. ‘Bring me my medicine-book, Annie Kay. Kay is my apothecary’s boy, and makes up my medicines.’ Kay appears with the book. ‘I am a great doctor; would you like to hear some of my medicines?’ ‘Oh yes, Mr. Sydney.’ ‘There is the Gentle-jog, a pleasure to take it,—the Bull-dog, for more serious cases,—Peter’s puke,—Heart’s delight, the
comfort of all the old women in the village.—Rub-a-dub, a capital embrocation,—Dead-stop, settles the matter at once,—Up-with-it-then needs no explanation; and so on. Now, Annie Kay, give Mrs. Spratt a bottle of Rub-a-dub; and to Mr. Coles a dose of Dead-stop and twenty drops of laudanum.’

“‘This is the house to be ill in’ (turning to us); ‘indeed everybody who comes is expected to take a little something; I consider it a delicate compliment when my guests have a slight illness here. We have contrivances for everything. Have you seen my patent armour? No? Annie Kay, bring my patent armour. Now, look here: if you have a stiff neck or swelled face, here is this sweet case of tin filled with hot water, and covered with flannel, to put round your neck, and you are well directly. Likewise, a patent tin shoulder, in case of rheumatism. There you see a stomach-tin, the greatest comfort in life; and lastly, here is a tin slipper, to be filled with hot water, which you can sit with in the drawing-room, should you come in chilled, without wetting your feet. Come and see my apothecary’s shop.’

“We all went downstairs, and entered a room filled entirely on one side with medicines, and on the other with every description of groceries and household or agricultural necessaries; in the centre, a large chest, forming a table, and divided into compartments for soap, candles, salt, and sugar.

“‘Here you see,’ said he, ‘every human want before you:—
‘Man wants but little here below,
As beef, veal, mutton, pork, lamb, venison show;’
spreading out his arms to exhibit everything, and laughing. ‘Life is a difficult thing in the country, I assure you, and it requires a good deal of forethought to steer the ship, when you live twelve miles from a lemon.

“‘By the bye, that reminds me of one of our greatest domestic triumphs. Some years ago my friend C——, the arch-epicure of the Northern Circuit, was dining with me in the country. On sitting down to dinner, he turned round to the servant, and desired him to look in his great-coat pocket, and he would find a lemon; “For,” he said, “I thought it likely you might have duck and green-peas for dinner, and therefore thought it prudent, at this distance from a town, to provide a lemon.” I turned round, and exclaimed indignantly, “Bunch, bring in the lemon-bag!” and Bunch appeared with a bag containing a dozen lemons. He respected us wonderfully after that. Oh, it is reported that he goes to bed with concentrated lozenges of wild-duck, so as to have the taste constantly in his mouth when he wakes in the night.’

“‘Look here, this is a stomach-pump; you can’t die here. Bobus roared with laughter when I showed it to him, but I saved my footman’s life by it.* He

* Literally true. The man had a passion for dough, and, returning hungry one night, found a lump of dough which had been prepared with arsenic for the rats, left most improperly by the gardener on the kitchen dresser; and, indulging his passion, he devoured

swallowed as much arsenic as would have poisoned all the rats in the House of Lords; but I pumped lime-water into him night and day for many hours at a time, and there he is. This is my medical department.
Saba used to be my apothecary’s boy before Dr. Holland carried her off; Annie Kay is now promoted to it.’

“We spent some time in examining the wonders of the shop, as he called it; he showing us all sorts of contrivances and comforts for both rich and poor; and, in doing so, exhibiting at the same time that mixture of sense, nonsense, forethought, and gaiety, so peculiar to himself, and which gave a charm even to the details of a grocer’s shop. We then returned to the drawing-room: in a short time he followed us up, with another book in his hand. ‘Mrs. Sydney, I find the cook wants yeast and eggs.’ ‘Yes, she has not been able to get any.’ ‘Why did you not write it down in my book, then. I always tell Mrs. Sydney, when she wants anything, to write it down in my book; once down in my book, and it is done directly. Look here, it is divided into

considerable quantity of it. The punishment was speedy; my father was called up, and, on hearing what had happened, put the stomach-pump instantly into use, and, turning to his medical books, applied incessantly the proper remedies all night, till the arrival of the medical man in the morning. The remaining dough was analysed, and I am afraid to state from memory the number of grains of arsenic he had swallowed. The medical man said, nothing but the promptness of my father’s remedies could possibly have saved the poor man’s life, which remained doubtful for many days; and it was months before he recovered from its effects. But he lived to show his gratitude to his master by his watchful and tender care of him in his last illness.

different heads,—the carpenter, the blacksmith, the farm, the sick, the house, etc. etc.; that is the way to keep house in the country. Every day I look through these wants, and remedy them. Now, Mrs. Sydney, you want eggs and yeast. I will mount the boys on the ponies, and they shall scour the country forthwith, and you shall be supplied with yeast and eggs till you cry, Hold! hold! enough!’

“Then, looking round on us: ‘I wish I could sew. I believe one reason why women are so much more cheerful, generally, than men, is because they can work, and vary more their employments. Lady —— used to teach her sons carpet-work. All men ought to learn to sew.’

“Speaking of manners as a part of education: ‘Yes, manners are often too much neglected; they are most important to men, no less than to women. I believe the English are the most disagreeable people under the sun; not so much because Mr. John Bull disdains to talk, as that the respected individual has nothing to say, and because he totally neglects manners. Look at a French carter; he takes off his hat to his neighbour carter, and inquires after “la santé de madame,” with a bow that would not have disgraced Sir Charles Grandison; and I have often seen a French soubrette with a far better manner than an English duchess. Life is too short to get over a bad manner; besides, manners are the shadows of virtue.’

“‘It is astonishing the influence foolish apothegms have upon the mass of mankind, though they are not
unfrequently fallacies. Here are a few I amused myself with writing, long before Bentham’s book on Fallacies.

Fallacy I.—Because I have gone through it, my son shall go through it also.

“A man gets well pummelled at a public school; is subject to every misery and every indignity which seventeen years of age can inflict upon nine and ten; has his eye nearly knocked out, and his clothes stolen and cut to pieces; and twenty years afterwards, when he is a chrysalis, and has forgotten the miseries of his grub state, is determined to act a manly part in life, and says, ‘I passed through all that myself, and I am determined my son shall pass through it as I have done;’ and away goes his bleating progeny to the tyranny and servitude of the long chamber or the large dormitory. It would surely be much more rational to say, ‘Because I have passed through it, I am determined my son shall not pass through it; because I was kicked for nothing, and cuffed for nothing, and fagged for everything, I will spare all these miseries to my child.’ It is not for any good which may be derived from this rough usage; that has not been weighed and considered; few persons are capable of weighing its effects upon character; but there is a sort of compensatory and consolatory notion, that the present generation (whether useful or not, no matter) are not to come off scot-free, but are to have their share of ill-usage; as if the black eve and bloody nose which
Master John Jackson received in 1800, are less black and bloody by the application of similar violence to similar parts of Master Thomas Jackson, the son, in 1830. This is not only sad nonsense, but cruel nonsense. The only use to be derived from the recollection of what we have suffered in youth, is a fixed determination to screen those we educate from every evil and inconvenience, from subjection to which there are not cogent reasons for submitting. Can anything be more stupid and preposterous than this concealed revenge upon the rising generation, and latent envy lest they should avail themselves of the improvements time has made, and pass a happier youth than their fathers have done?

Fallacy II.—I have said I will do it, and I will do it; I will stick to my word.

“This fallacy proceeds from confounding resolutions with promises. If you have promised to give a man a guinea for a reward, or to sell him a horse or a field, you must do it; you are dishonest if you do not. But if you have made a resolution to eat no meat for a year, and everybody about you sees that you are doing mischief to your constitution, is it any answer to say, you have said so, and you will stick to your word? With whom have you made the contract but with yourself? and if you and yourself, the two contracting parties, agree to break the contract, where is the evil, or who is injured?

Fallacy III.—I object to half-measures,—it is neither one thing nor the other.

“But why should it be either one thing or the other? why not something between both? Why are half-measures necessarily or probably unwise measures? I am embarrassed in my circumstances;—one of my plans is, to persevere boldly in the same line of expense, and to trust to the chapter of accidents for some increase of fortune;—the other is, to retire entirely from the world, and to hide myself in a cottage;—but I end with doing neither, and take a middle course of diminished expenditure. I do neither one thing nor the other, but possibly act wiser than if I had done either. I am highly offended by the conduct of an acquaintance; I neither overlook it entirely nor do I proceed to call him out; I do neither, but show him, by a serious change of manner, that I consider myself to have been ill-treated. I effect my object by half-measures. I cannot agree entirely with the Opposition or the Ministry; it may very easily happen that my half-measures are wiser than the extremes to which they are opposed. But it is a sort of metaphor which debauches the understanding of foolish people; and when half-measures are mentioned, they have much the same feeling as if they were cheated—as if they had bargained for a whole bushel and received but half. To act in extremes is sometimes wisdom; to avoid them is sometimes wisdom; every measure must be judged of by its own particular circumstances.”


“‘Did you ever hear my definition of marriage? It is, that it resembles a pair of shears, so joined that they cannot be separated; often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing any one who comes between them.’

“Some one speaking of Macaulay: ‘Yes, I take great credit to myself; I always prophesied his greatness from the first moment I saw him, then a very young and unknown man, on the Northern Circuit. There are no limits to his knowledge, on small subjects as well as great; he is like a book in breeches. . . . Yes, I agree, he is certainly more agreeable since his return from India. His enemies might perhaps have said before (though I never did so) that he talked rather too much; but now he has occasional flashes of silence, that make his conversation perfectly delightful. But what is far better and more important than all this is, that I believe Macaulay to be incorruptible. You might lay ribbons, stars, garters, wealth, titles, before him in vain. He has an honest, genuine love of his country, and the world could not bribe him to neglect her interests.’

“Talking of absence: ‘The oddest instance of absence of mind happened to me once in forgetting my own name. I knocked at a door in London; asked, Is Mrs. B—— at home? “Yes, Sir; pray what name shall I say?” I looked in the man’s face astonished:—what name? what name? ay, that is the question; what is my name? I believe the man thought me mad; but it is literally true, that during the space of
two or three minutes I had no more idea who I was than if I had never existed. I did not know whether I was a Dissenter or a layman. I felt as dull as
Sternhold and Hopkins. At last, to my great relief, it flashed across me that I was Sydney Smith.’

“‘I heard of a clergyman who went jogging along the road till he came to a turnpike. “What is to pay?” “Pay, Sir? for what?” asked the turnpike-man. “Why, for my horse, to be sure.” “Your horse, Sir? what horse? Here is no horse, Sir.” “No horse? God bless me!” said he suddenly, looking down between his legs, “I thought I was on horseback.”

“‘Lord Dudley was one of the most absent men I think I ever met in society. One day he met me in the street, and invited me to meet myself. “Dine with me today; dine with me, and I will get Sydney Smith to meet you.” I admitted the temptation he held out to me, but said I was engaged to meet him elsewhere. Another time, on meeting me, he turned back, put his arm through mine, muttering, “I don’t mind walking with him a little way; I’ll walk with him as far as the end of the street.” As we proceeded together, W—— passed: “That is the villain,” exclaimed he, “who helped me yesterday to asparagus, and gave me no toast.” He very nearly overset my gravity once in the pulpit. He was sitting immediately under me, apparently very attentive, when suddenly he took up his stick, as if he had been in the House of Commons, and tapping on the ground with it, cried out in a low but very audible whisper, “Hear! hear! hear!”


“‘By the bye, it happened to be a charity sermon, and I considered it a wonderful proof of my eloquence, that it actually moved old Lady C—— to borrow a sovereign from Dudley, and that he actually gave it her, though knowing he must take a long farewell of it. I was told afterwards by Lady S—— that she rejoiced to see it had brought ‘iron tears down Pluto’s cheek’ (meaning by that her husband), certainly little given to the melting mood in any sense.

“‘One speech, I remember, of Dudley’s, gratified me much. When I took leave of him, on quitting London to go into Yorkshire, he said to me, “You have been laughing at me constantly, Sydney, for the last seven years, and yet in all that time you never said a single thing to me that I wished unsaid.” This, I confess, pleased me.* . . . But I must go and scour the country for yeast and eggs;’—and off he went.

“After luncheon appeared at the door a low green garden chair, holding two, and drawn by the two donkeys already introduced; but despoiled, to their obvious relief, of their antlers. ‘This was built by my village carpenter,’ said he, ‘but its chief merit is that it cannot be overturned. You need not fear my driving now; Mrs. Sydney will give me an excellent character. She

* It is most gratifying to find how often this delicate use of his great powers of wit and sarcasm is alluded to by his friends and acquaintance in the papers entrusted to me. I see it is said of him, in one of the publications, at his death:—“It is a rare distinction, but one which ought to be written on his monument, that while he wasted no gift of those so liberally bestowed upon him, in ministering to the unworthy pleasures of others, or in promoting his own selfish aggrandisement,—as a wit he was more beloved than feared.”

was very much afraid of me when I first took to driving her in Yorkshire, but she raised my wages before the first month. I am become an excellent whip, I assure you.’ So saying, he mounted into the little vehicle, and set off with his lady at a foot’s pace, we following in his train down the pretty valley into which the garden opened, and through his wood walks, till we came out upon a fine table-land above the house, commanding a splendid view of the fine range of the Quantoc Hills on the one side, and the rich Vale of Taunton on the other.

“‘There!’ said he, ‘behold all the wonders of the world beneath you! can anything be more exquisite, more beautiful? I often come up here to meditate. I think of building a Gazebo here. The landscape is perfect; it wants nothing but water and a wise man. I think it was Jekyll who used to say, that ‘the further he went west, the more convinced he felt that the wise men did come from the east.’ We have not such an article. You might ride from the rising up of the sun until the going down thereof in these regions, and not find one (I mean a real philosopher) whom you would consult on the great affairs of life. We are thoroughly primitive; agriculture and agricultural tools are fifty years behind the rest of England.

“‘A neighbouring squire called on me the other day, and informed me he had been reading a delightful book. The fact of his having any literary pursuits at all was equally agreeable and surprising to me, and I inquired the subject of his studies. “Oh!” said he,
Arabian Nights’ Entertainments; I have just got it, and I advise you to read it. I assure you, Mr. Smith, you will find it a most amusing book.” I thanked him, cordially agreed with him, but ventured to suggest that the book was not entirely unknown to me.’

“‘A joke goes a great way in the country. I have known one last pretty well for seven years. I remember making a joke after a meeting of the clergy, in Yorkshire, where there was a Rev. Mr. Buckle, who never spoke when I gave his health; saying, that he was a buckle without a tongue. Most persons within hearing laughed, but my next neighbour sat unmoved and sunk in thought. At last, a quarter of an hour after we had all done, he suddenly nudged me, exclaiming, “I see now what you meant, Mr. Smith; you meant a joke.” “Yes,” I said, “Sir; I believe I did.” Upon which he began laughing so heartily, that I thought he would choke, and was obliged to pat him on the back.’

“Talking of the singular degree of obstinacy of Miss ——, on the most difficult and doubtful subjects, ‘Oh! nothing but a surgical operation will avail; it must be cut out of her.’

“‘I see you will not believe it, but I was once very shy.’ ‘Were you indeed, Mr. Smith? how did you cure yourself.’ ‘Why it was not very long before I made two very useful discoveries: first, that all mankind were not solely employed in observing me (a belief that all young people have); and next, that shamming was of no use; that the world was very clear-sighted, and soon estimated a man at his just value.
This cured me, and I determined to be natural, and let the world find me out.’

“‘Oh yes! we both talk a great deal, but I don’t believe Macaulay ever did hear my voice,’ he exclaimed, laughing. ‘Sometimes, when I have told a good story, I have thought to myself, Poor Macaulay! he will be very sorry some day to have missed hearing that.’

“‘Other rules vary; this is the only one you will find without exception,—that, in this world, the salary or reward is always in the inverse ratio of the duties performed.’

“Some one speaking of Mr. Grenville: ‘I always feel better for being in Mr. Grenville’s company; it is a beautiful sunset. You know the man in a regiment who is selected to stand out before them as their model; he is called the fugleman. Now, Mr. Grenville I always consider as the fugleman of old-age. He has contrived to combine the freshness and greenness of mind belonging to youth, with the dignity and wisdom of age.’

“Some one wondering at his praises of ——, and telling Sydney that he often abused him: ‘Oh!’ said my father, laughing, ‘I know he does not spare me, but that is no reason I should not praise him. At all times I had rather be the ox than the butcher.’

“Talking of Sheridan: ‘Creevy told me, once, when dining with Sheridan, after the ladies had departed, he drew the chair to the fire, and confided to Creevy that they had just had a fortune left them. “Mrs. Sheridan and I,” said he, “have made the solemn vow to
each other to mention it to no one, and nothing induces me now to confide it to you but the absolute conviction that Mrs. Sheridan is at this moment confiding it to
Mrs. Creevy upstairs.” Soon after this I went to visit him in the country with a large party; he had taken a villa. No expense was spared; a magnificent dinner, excellent wines, but not a candle to be had to go to bed by in the house; in the morning no butter appeared, or was to be procured for breakfast. He said, it was not a butter country, he believed. But with Sheridan for host, and the charm of his wit and conversation, who cared for candles, butter, or anything else? In the evening there was a quarrel amongst the fiddlers, they absolutely refusing to play with a blind fiddler, who had unexpectedly arrived and insisted upon performing with them. He turned out at last to be Mathews; his acting was quite inimitable.’

“This brought us home again. Meeting at the door his grandson, returning quite exhausted with a prodigious walk: ‘Oh, foolish boy! remember, head for glory, feet for use.’

“He then left us, and might be seen in his pretty library; sometimes in his arm-chair, seated, with books of different kinds piled round him, some grave, some gay, as his humour varied from hour to hour. And this rapid change of mood, which I see his friend Mr. Moore remarks upon, was one thing amongst many which gave such freshness and raciness to his conversation: you never could guess what would come next.
At other times seated at a large table in the bay-window, with his desk before him—on one end of this table a case, something like a small deal music-stand, filled with manuscript books—on the other a large deal tray, filled with a leaden ink-stand, containing ink enough for a county; a magnifying glass; a carpenter’s rule; several large steel pens, which it was high treason to touch; a glass bowl full of shot and water, to clean these precious pens; and some red tape, which he called ‘one of the grammars of life;’ a measuring line, and various other articles, more useful than ornamental. At this writing establishment, unique of its kind, he could turn his mind with equal facility, in company or alone, to any subject, whether of business, study, politics, instruction, or amusement, and move the minds of his hearers to laughter or tears at his pleasure.”

He used to say he never considered his education finished. To the last years of his life, he kept up his classical studies, his reading and analysis of the Bible (of which I find notes in his papers), and profane and ecclesiastical history, from which he frequently put down hints, some of which I have given. He was also very fond of exercising himself in translating English into French, which he spoke with great fluency, but did not write correctly. He frequently interrupted these pursuits by issuing forth into his gay garden, to take a stroll round it by himself, stopping at intervals, with his crutch-stick swung behind him, as usual, as
if meditating on the subject of his studies; or sometimes sitting down on the lawn to watch or join in the gambols of his little grandchildren, or to comfort them in some childish affliction, in which the never-failing sugar-plum box was found a most useful assistant; sometimes in conference with Jack Spratt or Annie Kay on some domestic concern. When we met at dinner, he was, if possible, more agreeable than he had been during the day. “
Sydney’s wit,” as was happily said of him by Mr. Howard, “is always fresh; you find the dew still on it.” It is remarked of him somewhere that “he had the power of breathing the breath of life into a dead truism; everything coming from his mind seemed to be original, even when it was old.”

One of his most intimate friends writes of him:—“It is quite extraordinary how different every word that drops from Sydney’s pen is from anything else in the world. Individuality is stamped on every sentence, and you can hardly read a page without coming to some sentence that no other man could have written. It was the same with his conversation.”

It signified not what the materials were: I never remember a dull dinner in his company.* He extracted amusement from every subject, however hopeless. He descended and adapted himself to the meanest capacity, without seeming to do so; he led without seeking to lead; he never sought to shine—the light

* My poor mother felt the change so strongly after his death that, on dining out for the first time alone, she said, “Everybody seemed to her so unusually flat, that she thought they must all have suffered some severe loss.”

appeared because he could not help it. Nobody felt excluded. He had the happy art of always saying the best thing in the best manner to the right person at the right moment; it was a touch-and-go impossible to describe, guided by such tact and attention to the feelings of others, that those he most attacked seemed most to enjoy the attack: never in the same mood for two minutes together, and each mood seemed to be more agreeable than the last. “I talk a little sometimes,” said he, “and it used to be an amusement amongst the servants at the
Archbishop of York’s, to snatch away my plate when I began talking; so I got a habit of holding it with one hand when so engaged, and dining at single anchor.”

“Now, I mean not to drink one drop of wine today, and I shall be mad with spirits. I always am when I drink no wine. It is curious the effect a thimbleful of wine has upon me; I feel as flat as ——’s jokes; it destroys my understanding: I forget the number of the Muses, and think them thirty-nine of course; and only get myself right again by repeating the lines, and finding ‘Descend, ye thirty-nine!’ two feet too long.”

“Oh, Saba carves for me. I always tell her I shall cut her off with a shilling if she ever asks me to help her to a dish before me. It is quite a pleasure to see her carve.”

“That pudding! yes, that was the pudding Lady Holland asked the recipe for when she came to see us. I shook my head, and said it could not be done,
even for her ladyship. She became more urgent;
Mrs. Sydney was soft-hearted, and gave it. The glory of it almost turned my cook’s head: she has never been the same since. But our forte in the culinary line is our salads: I pique myself on our salads. Saba always dresses them after my recipe. I have put it into verse. Taste it, and, if you like it, I will give it you. I was not aware how much it had contributed to my reputation, till I met Lady —— at Bowood, who begged to be introduced to me, saying, she had so long wished to know me. I was of course highly flattered, till she added, ‘For, Mr. Smith, I have heard so much of your recipe for salads, that I was most anxious to obtain it from you.’ Such and so various are the sources of fame!

“To make this condiment, your poet begs
The pounded yellow of two hard-boil’d eggs;
Two boil’d potatoes, pass’d through kitchen sieve.
Smoothness and softness to the salad give.
Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl,
And, half-suspected, animate the whole.
Of mordant mustard add a single spoon,
Distrust the condiment that bites so soon;
But deem it not, thou man of herbs, a fault,
To add a double quantity of salt.
And, lastly, o’er the flavour’d compound toss
A magic soupçon of anchovy sauce.
Oh, green and glorious! Oh, herbaceous treat!
“T would tempt the dying anchorite to eat:
Back to the world he’d turn his fleeting soul.
And plunge his fingers in the salad-bowl!
Serenely full, the epicure would say,
Fate cannot harm me, I have dined today.”

Mrs. Sydney was dreadfully alarmed about her side-dishes the first time Luttrell paid us a visit, and grew pale as the covers were lifted; but they stood the test. Luttrell tasted and praised. He spent a week with us, and having associated him only with Pall Mall, I confess I was agreeably surprised to find how pleasant an inmate he made of a country-house, and almost of a family party; so light in hand, so willing to be pleased. Some of his Irish stories, too, were most amusing, and his manner of telling them so good. One: ‘Is your master at home, Paddy?’ ‘No, your honour.’ ‘Why, I saw him go in five minutes ago.’ ‘Faith, your honour, he’s not exactly at home; he’s only there in the back-yard a-shooting rats with cannon, your honour, for his devarsion!

“A school examination, too: the children were asked what the first woman was made of. A general burst of ‘Ribs of mon! ribs of mon!’ ‘And what was the first man made of?’ ‘Doost and ashes! doost and ashes!’ was the reply. After this trial of us, he repeated his visits several times, and we found him a most agreeable inmate.

“Oh, don’t tell me of facts, I never believe facts: you know, Canning said nothing was so fallacious as facts, except figures.”

“My friend Ord’s place is the last spot in England: all beyond is chaos.”

“That is a fine idea of Clarke’s:—‘The frost is
God’s plough, which he drives through every inch of ground in the world, opening each clod and pulverizing the whole.’”

“When some one asked what could induce the Ministry to send Lord M—— to Ireland and Lord C—— to Scotland, Jekyll said, ‘Oh, it is only the doctor who has put wrong labels on them by mistake.’ The apothecaries’ boys in London do this on purpose, and change the labels for their amusement: so Lady F. takes Lord D.’s embrocation, and Lord D. rubs his leg with her draught; but the most remarkable part of it all is, that it answers just as well as if the labels had been left.”

“I once dissuaded a youth from entering the army, on which he was bent, at the risk of breaking his mother’s heart, by asking him how he would prevent his sword from getting between his legs. It quite staggered him; he never solved the difficulty, and took to peace instead of war.”

“I agree with Sir James Mackintosh, and have found the world more good and more foolish than I thought when young.”

“It is an unlucky book;—fine sentiments fined down till you can’t see them; encouraging young ladies in dangerous imaginings of what is not; of an exquisite fellow bursting with sentiment, only he is in the moon and can’t be reached. I will, I think, write an opposition hero, who shall be the antidote.”

“The most promising sign in a boy is, I should say, mathematics.”


Madame de Sévigné I think much overpraised; everybody writes as well now. Lady Mary Wortley wrote much better, sound sense. Twelve volumes of pretty turns are too much.”

“You remember Thurlow’s answer to some one complaining of the injustice of a company. ‘Why, you never expected justice from a company, did you? they have neither a soul to lose, nor a body to kick.’”

“Ah, you always detect a little of the Irish fossil, the potato, peeping out in an Irishman.”

Some one, speaking of Missions, ridiculed them as inefficient. He dissented, saying, that “though all was not done that was projected, or even boasted of, yet that much good resulted; and that wherever Christianity was taught, it brought with it the additional good of civilization in its train, and men became better carpenters, better cultivators, better everything.”

He mentioned somebody rising in the House, saying, “I rise to answer the Honourable Alligator on the other side of the House.”

“Have you heard my parody on Pope?—
“Why has not man a collar and a log?
For this plain reason—man is not a dog.
Why is not man served up with sauce in dish?
For this plain reason—man is not a fish.
There are a great many other whys, but I will spare you.”

“Was —— not very disagreeable? ‘Why, he was as disagreeable as the occasion would permit,’ Luttrell said.”


“Nobody was more witty or more bitter than Lord Ellenborough. A young lawyer, trembling with fear, rose to make his first speech, and began: ‘My lord, my unfortunate client— My lord, my unfortunate client— My lord—’ ‘Go on, Sir, go on,’ said Lord E.; ‘as far as you have proceeded hitherto, the Court is entirely with you.’ This was perhaps irresistible; but yet, how wicked! how cruel! it deserves a thousand years’ punishment at least.”

Luttrell used to say, ‘I hate the sight of monkeys, they remind me so of poor relations.’”

“Oh, they were all so beautiful, that Paris could not have decided between them, but would have cut his apple in slices.”

“When I went into Rundell and Bridges’, there were heaps of diamonds lying loose about the counter. I never saw so many temptations, and so little apparent watchfulness. I thought there were many sops, and no Cerberus. But they told me, when I asked, that there were unseen eyes directed upon me in every part of the shop.”

Speaking of Lady Murray’s mother, who had a most benevolent countenance: “Her smile is so radiant, that I believe it would force even a gooseberry-bush into flower.”

Some young person, answering on a subject in discussion, “I don’t know that,” he said, smiling, “Ah! what you don’t know would make a great book, as C—— replied to B——.”

“I never go to tragedies, my heart is too soft. There is too much real misery in life. But what a
face she had! The gods do not bestow such a face as
Mrs. Siddons’ on the stage more than once in a century. I knew her very well, and she had the good taste to laugh heartily at my jokes; she was an excellent person, but she was not remarkable out of her profession, and never got out of tragedy even in common life. She used to stab the potatoes; and said, ‘Boy, give me a knife!’ as she would have said, ‘Give me the dagger!’

“Oh, Mrs. Sydney believes it is all true; and when I went with her to the play, I was always obliged to sit behind her, and whisper, ‘Why, Kate, he is not really going to kill her,—she is not really dead, you know;’ or she would have cried her eyes out, and gone into hysterics.”

“All gentlemen and ladies eat too much. I made a calculation, and found I must have consumed some waggon-loads too much in the course of my life. Lock up the mouth, and you have gained the victory. I believe our friend, Lady Morley, has hit upon the right plan in dining modestly at two. When we are absorbed in side-dishes, and perplexed with variety of wines, she sits amongst us, lightly flirting with a potato, in full possession of her faculties, and at liberty to make the best use of them,—a liberty, it must be owned, she does not neglect, for how agreeable she is! I like Lady Morley; she is what I call good company.”

“Never was known such a summer as this; water is selling at threepence a pint. My cows drink beer, my horses ale.”

“The French certainly understand the art of fur-
nishing better than we do; the profusion of glass in their rooms gives such gaiety. I remember entering a room with glass all round it, at the French Embassy, and saw myself reflected on every side. I took it for a meeting of the clergy, and was delighted of course.”

“In composing, as a general rule, run your pen through every other word you have written; you have no idea what vigour it will give your style.”

The conversation turning on ——, I forget who, it was said so well, “There is the same difference between their tongues as between the hour and the minute hand; one goes ten times as fast, and the other signifies ten times as much.”

“I think no house is well fitted up in the country without people of all ages. There should be an old man or woman to pet; a parrot, a child, a monkey;—something, as the French say, to love and to despise. I have just bought a parrot, to keep my servants in good humour.”

“No, I don’t like dogs; I always expect them to go mad. A lady asked me once for a motto for her dog Spot. I proposed, ‘Out, damned Spot!’ but she did not think it sentimental enough. You remember the story of the French marquise, who, when her pet lapdog bit a piece out of her footman’s leg, exclaimed, ‘Ah, poor little beast! I hope it won’t make him sick.’ I called one day on Mrs. ——, and her lap-dog flew at my leg and bit it. After pitying her dog, like the French marquise, she did all she could to comfort me, by assuring me the dog was a Dissenter, and hated the
Church, and was brought up in a Tory family. But whether the bite came from madness or Dissent, I knew myself too well to neglect it; and went on the instant to a surgeon and had it cut out, making a mem. on the way to enter that house no more.”

“If you want to make much of a small income, always ask yourself these two questions:—first, do I really want it? secondly, can I do without it? These two questions, answered honestly, will double your fortune. I have always inculcated it in my family.”

“Lady —— is a remarkably clever, agreeable woman, but Nature has made one trifling omission—a heart; I do like a little heart, I must confess.”

“I never was asked in all my life to be a trustee or an executor. No one believes that I can be a plodding man of business, as mindful of its dry details as the gravest and most stupid man alive.”

“I have heard that one of the American ministers in this country was so oppressed by the numbers of his countrymen applying for introductions, that he was obliged at last to set up sham Sydney Smiths and false Macaulays. But they can’t have been good counterfeits; for a most respectable American, on his return home, was heard describing Sydney Smith as a thin, grave, dull, old fellow; and as to Macaulay (said he), I never met a more silent man in all my life!”

Talking of Mrs. ——: “She has not very clear ideas, though, about the tides. I remember, at a large party at House, her insisting that it was always high tide at London-bridge at twelve o’clock. She re-
ferred to me: ‘Now,
Mr. Smith, is it not so?’ I answered, ‘It used not to be so, I believe, formerly, but perhaps the Lord Mayor and Aldermen have altered it lately.’”

“Mr. —— once came to see us in Yorkshire; and he was so small and so active, he looked exactly like a little spirit running about in a kind of undress without a body.”

Speaking of a robbery: “It is Bacon, I think, who says so beautifully, ‘He that robs in darkness breaks God’s lock.’ How fine that is!”

On some persons mentioning Mr. ——: “Yes, I honour him for his talents and character, and his misfortunes have softened the little asperities of his manner, and made him much more agreeable. Tears are the waters of the heart.”

“People complain of their servants: I never had a bad one; but then I study their comforts, that is one recipe for securing good servants.”*

Dante, in his ‘Purgatorio,’ would have assigned five hundred years of assenting to ——, and as many to —— of praising his fellow-creatures.”

“I have divided mankind into classes. There is the Noodle,—very numerous, but well known. The Affliction-woman,—a valuable member of society, generally an ancient spinster, or distant relation of the family, in small circumstances: the moment she hears of any accident or distress in the family, she sets off, packs up her little bag, and is immediately established there,

* He hardly ever lost a servant but from marriage or death.

to comfort, flatter, fetch, and carry. The Up-takers,—a class of people who only see through their fingers’ ends, and go through a room taking up and touching everything, however visible and however tender. The Clearers,—who begin at the dish before them, and go on picking or tasting till it is cleared, however large the company, small the supply, and rare the contents. The Sheep-walkers,—those who never deviate from the beaten track, who think as their fathers have thought since the flood, who start from a new idea as they would from guilt. The Lemon-squeezers of society,—people who act on you as a wet blanket, who see a cloud in the sunshine, the nails of the coffin in the ribbons of the bride, predictors of evil, extinguishers of hope; who, where there are two sides, see only the worst,—people whose very look curdles the milk, and sets your teeth on edge. The Let-well-aloners,—cousins-german to the Noodle, yet a variety; people who have begun to think and to act, but are timid, and afraid to try their wings, and tremble at the sound of their own footsteps as they advance, and think it safer to stand still. Then the Washerwomen,—very numerous, who exclaim, ‘Well! as sure as ever I put on my best bonnet, it is certain to rain,’ etc. There are many more, but I forget them.

“Oh yes! there is another class, as you say; people who are always treading on your gouty foot, or talking in your deaf ear, or asking you to give them something with your lame hand, stirring up your weak point, rubbing your sore, etc.”


“The advice I sent to the Bishop of New Zealand, when he had to receive the cannibal chiefs there, was to say to them, ‘I deeply regret, Sirs, to have nothing on my own table suited to your tastes, but you will find plenty of cold curate and roasted clergyman on the sideboard;’ and if, in spite of this prudent provision, his visitors should end their repast by eating him likewise, why I could only add, ‘I sincerely hoped he would disagree with them.’ In this last sentiment he must cordially have agreed with me; and, upon the whole, he must have considered it a useful hint, and would take it kindly. Don’t you think so?”

On joining us in the drawing-room, and sitting down to the tea-table: “Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? how did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea. I can drink any quantity when I have not tasted wine; otherwise I am haunted by blue-devils by day, and dragons by night. If you want to improve your understanding, drink coffee. Sir James Mackintosh used to say, he believed the difference between one man and another was produced by the quantity of coffee he drank.”

O’Connell presented me to the Irish members as the powerful and entertaining advocate of the Irish Catholic claims.”

Talking of the ardour of country gentlemen for preserving game: “I believe —— would die for his game. He is truly a pheasant-minded man; he revenged himself upon me by telling all the Joe Millers he could find as my jokes.”


“Oh, the Dean of —— deserves to be preached to death by wild curates.”

“I am old, but I certainly have not that sign of old-age, extolling the past at the expense of the present. On the contrary, the progress of the world in the last fifty years almost takes my breath away. Steam and electricity have advanced it beyond the dreams of the wildest visionary two hundred years ago. By the bye, on the subject of steam, I have a most curious letter, which I extracted from a periodical, and will show you; it struck me as so interesting, that I made inquiries about it from the author of the publication, and have some reason to believe it is authentic.

Letter of Marion de Lorme to the Marquis de Cinq-Mars.
Paris, February, 1641.
“My dear Effiart,

“While you are forgetting me at Narbonne, and giving yourself up to the pleasures of the Court and the delight of thwarting M. le Cardinal de Richelieu, I, according to your express desire, am doing the honours of Paris to your English lord the Marquis of Worcester; and I carry him about, or rather he carries me, from curiosity to curiosity, choosing always the most grave and serious, speaking little, listening with extreme attention, and fixing on those whom he interrogates two large blue eyes, which seem to pierce to the very centre of their thoughts. He is remarkable for never being satisfied with any explanations which are given him, and he never sees things in the light
in which they are shown to him; you may judge of this by a visit we made together to Bicêtre, where he imagined he had discovered a genius in a madman.

“If this madman had not been actually raving, I verily believe your Marquis would have entreated his liberty, and have carried him off to London, in order to hear his extravagances from morning till night, at his ease. We were crossing the court of the madhouse, and I, more dead than alive with fright, kept close to my companion’s side, when a frightful face appeared behind some immense bars, and a hoarse voice exclaimed, ‘I am not mad! I am not mad! I have made a discovery which would enrich the country that adopted it.’ ‘What has he discovered?’ asked our guide. ‘Oh!’ he answered, shrugging his shoulders, ‘something trifling enough: you would never guess it; it is the use of the steam of boiling water.’ I began to laugh. ‘This man,’ continued the keeper, ‘is named Salomon de Caus; he came from Normandy four years ago, to present to the King a statement of the wonderful effects that might be produced from his invention. To listen to him, you would imagine that with steam you could navigate ships, move carriages; in fact, there is no end to the miracles which, he insists upon it, could be performed. The Cardinal sent the madman away without listening to him. Salomon de Caus, far from being discouraged, followed the Cardinal wherever he went with the most determined perseverance, who, tired of finding him for ever in his path, and annoyed at his folly, shut him up in Bicêtre,
where he has now been for three years and a half, and where, as you hear, he calls out to every visitor that he is not mad, but that he has made a valuable discovery. He has even written a book on the subject, which I have here.’*

Lord Worcester, who had listened to this account with much interest, after reflecting a time, asked for the book, of which, after having read several pages, he said, ‘This man is not mad; in my country, instead of shutting him up, he would have been rewarded. Take me to him, for I should like to ask him some questions.’ He was accordingly conducted to his cell; but, after a time, he came back sad and thoughtful. ‘He is indeed mad now,’ said he; ‘misfortune and captivity have alienated his reason; but it is you who have to answer for his madness; when you cast him into that cell, you confined the greatest genius of the age.’ After this we went away, and since that time he has done nothing but talk of Salomon de Caus.”

“I destroy, on principle, all letters to me, but I have no secrets myself. I should not care if almost every word I have written were published at Charing Cross. I live with open windows.”

“This is a noble description of God’s omnipresence (turning over the leaves of a book),’His centre is everywhere, his circumference is nowhere.’”

Talking of New Year’s Day and Christmas: “No, the returns of those fixed periods always make me

* This book is entitled, ‘Les Raisons des Forces mouvantes, avec diverses machines tant utiles que puissantes.’ (Pub. 1615, in folio.)

melancholy. I am glad when we have fairly turned the corner, and started afresh. I feel, like my friend
Mackintosh, ‘there is another child of Time lost,’ as the year departs.

“What a loss you had in not knowing Mackintosh! how was it? . . . . Yes, his manner was cold; his shake of the hand came under the genus ‘mortmain;’ but his heart was overflowing with benevolence. I like that simile I made on him in my letter, of ‘a great ship cutting its cable;’—it is fine, and it well described Mackintosh. His chief foible was indiscriminate praise. I amused myself the other day,” said he, laughing, “in writing a termination of a speech for him; would you like to hear it? I will read it to you:—

“‘It is impossible to conclude these observations without expressing the obligations I am under to a person in a much more humble scene of life,—I mean, Sir, the hackney-coachman by whom I have been driven to this meeting. To pass safely through the streets of a crowded metropolis must require, on the part of the driver, no common assemblage of qualities. He must have caution without timidity, activity without precipitation, and courage without rashness; he must have a clear perception of his object, and a dexterous use of his means. I can safely say of the individual in question, that, for a moderate reward, he has displayed unwearied skill; and to him I shall never forget that I owe unfractured integrity of limb, exemption from pain, and perhaps prolongation of existence.


“‘Nor can I pass over the encouraging cheerfulness with which I was received by the waiter, nor the useful blaze of light communicated by the link-boys, as I descended from the carriage. It was with no common pleasure that I remarked in these men, not the mercenary bustle of venal service, but the genuine effusions of untutored benevolence; not the rapacity of subordinate agency, but the alacrity of humble friendship. What may not be said of a country where all the little accidents of life bring forth the hidden qualities of the heart,—where her vehicles are driven, her streets illumined, and her bells answered, by men teeming with all the refinements of civilized life?

“‘I cannot conclude, Sir, without thanking you for the very clear and distinct manner in which you have announced the proposition on which we are to vote. It is but common justice to add, that public assemblies rarely witness articulation so perfect, language so select, and a manner so eminently remarkable for everything that is kind, impartial, and just.’”*

At ten we always went downstairs to prayers, in the library. Immediately after, if we were alone, appeared the ‘farmer’ at the door, lantern in hand. “David,

* This trifling critique on his old friend, good-humoured as it is, I should not have given without the permission of his family, who know that Sir James, had he seen it, would have been the first to smile at it. I ought to add, that the same kind indulgence has been granted me wherever I have ventured on any anecdote that I feared might give pain.

bring me my coat and stick;” and off he set with him, summer and winter, to visit his horses, and see that they were all well fed, and comfortable in their regions for the night. He kept up this custom all his life.

On returning to the drawing-room, he usually asked for a little music. “If I were to begin life again, I would devote much time to music. All musical people seem to me happy; it is the most engrossing pursuit; almost the only innocent and unpunished passion.

“Never give way to melancholy: nothing encroaches more; I fight against it vigorously.* One great remedy is, to take short views of life. Are you happy now? Are you likely to remain so till this evening? or next week? or next month? or next year? Then why destroy present happiness by a distant misery, which may never come at all, or you may never live to see it? for every substantial grief has twenty shadows, and most of them shadows of your own making.”

Speaking of ——: “It was a beautiful old-age; how fine those lines of Waller are—
“The soul’s dark cottage, batter’d and decay’d.
Let in new lights through chinks that Time has made!’”

“Yes; —— was merry, not wise. You know, a man of small understanding is merry where he can, not where he should. Lightning must, I think, be the wit of heaven.”

Mr. P—— said to him, “I always write best with

* Yet I see in his note-book,—“I wish I were of a more sanguine temperament; I always anticipate the worst.”

an amanuensis.” “Oh! but are you quite sure he puts down what you dictate, my dear P.?”

Speaking of a Revolutionist: “No man, I fear, can effect great benefits for his country without some sacrifice of the minor virtues.”

“I often think what a different man I might have been if, like my friend Lord Holland, and others, I had passed my life with all that is most worth seeing and hearing in Europe, instead of being confined through the greater part of it to the society of the parish-clerk. I always feel it is combating with unequal weapons; but I have made a tolerable fight of it, nevertheless. I am rather an admirer of O’Connell: he, it cannot be denied, has done a great deal for Ireland, and, on the whole, I believe he meant well; but ‘hell,’ as Johnson says, ‘is paved with good intentions.’”

A little more of such talk, intermixed with those brilliant and amusing bursts of humour and attack,—which I see prettily compared, in one of the printed sketches of him, to “summer lightning, that never harmed the object illumined by its flash,”—and then to bed; and all was quiet, and at peace, in the little parsonage.

I have endeavoured here,—partly from recollection, partly from my own and my friends’ notes,—to give some faint idea of the style of my father’s conversation and his manner of living with his family and friends. I flatter myself, by those who knew him intimately, it
will not be thought an unfaithful copy. But, alas! without the look, the voice, the manner, the laugh, the thousand little delicate touches, the quick repartee, the connecting links from which these observations sprang,—without the master-spirit’s voice to animate the whole,—without all this, I feel it is but a body without a soul. Yet, body as it is, to me it is most precious, as all that now remains to me of my father; and I would fain believe there are a few still alive who will accept this relic of a great man gone, with gratitude,—will live with him again in these pages,—will be reminded, by them, of him as he was, and not as I have here imperfectly attempted to describe him.