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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Chapter XII

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
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Letters 1806
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Letters 1830
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Letters 1844
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I have but little more to add; my (to me) sad tale is nearly told; but I will here insert some extracts from a journal of a dear Scotch friend, who spent a month in his house, which, though never meant to see the light, have most kindly been given to me at my request; and which I feel to be valuable, not only because they are nearly the last notes I have of him (being taken the year before his death), but because they also, on many points, confirm, from notes taken at the moment, the traits I have given of him from mere recollection.

“‘Do you not like the country?’ ‘I like London a great deal better; the study of men and women, better than trees and grass.’

“‘Oh! some men are born happy. I often think, what a fortunate circumstance it was for me, in going
to Edinburgh (quite a stranger), to fall at once into intimacy with such remarkable men as
Jeffrey and the rest.’ ‘How was it?’ ‘I went to Edinburgh with a pupil,—I had nothing else. Then the Edinburgh Review,—what a machine that has been!’

“‘I love Jeffrey very dearly;’ and, speaking of his knowledge of all subjects, and his review of Madame de Staël: ‘I used to say then that the nearest thing Jeffrey had ever seen to a fine Parisian lady was John Playfair.’ How we laughed at this!

“‘Miss Edgeworth was delightful,—so clever and sensible! She does not say witty things, but there is such a perfume of wit runs through all her conversation as makes it very brilliant.’

“We walked home after church; he paid visits to the cottagers, speaking to them frankly and cheerily, or scolding them for not coming to tell him they were better, or that they wanted more medicine.

“‘Nobody’ (says a sketch in the ‘Spectator,’ written by some friend) ‘too obscure for Sydney to put in good-humour with themselves.’ Nay, I have seen him brighten the countenance of his poor parishioners for the day, by a captivating phrase or two, when he met them, or visited their cottages. On one occasion, his parish-clerk being laid up with a broken shin, Sydney called to inquire. ‘I’m getting round, your honour, but I sha’n’t be fit for duty on Sunday.’ ‘Sorry for that, Lovelace; indeed, we shall miss you at the singing.’ Then, turning to me,—‘You can’t think what a good hand Lovelace is at a psalm; you should hear
him lead off the Old Hundredth.’ At which the old clerk’s eyes fairly glistened, and he stammered out, ‘Oh! your honour’s only saying that to cheer me up a bit.’

“Sometimes he had a good report to give of an absent son or daughter, whom he had seen in London, and obtained a place for. He employed many old people about the garden, and was anxious that everybody near him should be comfortable. ‘Have you seen my doctor’s shop? Come, I’ll show it you.’ I expressed my wonder. ‘Yes, life is a difficult thing; here’s everything prepared,—stomach-warmers, sore-throat collars, etc. I studied medicine, and went through the hospitals at Edinburgh; I know a good deal. I often regret that medical men will not talk more of their profession. It is a very interesting subject to every one, at least a little of it; but I never can get any of them to speak,—they look quite offended.’

“The poor people and the servants are very fond of him; he does them so much good, and gives them clothes, books, medicines. They look to him for everything, and they like his free speaking to them; he is so merry and frank: so my maid tells me.

“He sometimes read aloud to Mrs. Sydney and me in the evening, when anything struck him,—such as parts of Liebig,—so clearly and distinctly, observing shortly on parts as he read, and listening good-naturedly to our observations. We had each our armchair, lamp, and book in the evening, and not much conversation when alone. Occasionally he would sit with an air of profound meditation, and would begin
as thus:—‘Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. That is new; that is peculiar to the Christian religion.’ Or he would repeat the sublime prayers for the Queen, in his grand tones, to mark their fine composition.

“‘I dine sometimes at ——, and the head of the bank sits at the foot of the table, looking so attentive, and bowing so obsequiously; and when I talk, à tort et à trovers, as I am apt to do, I see by his expression that he says to himself, “There is a man I would not lend money to at fifteen per cent.; he’s a rash man; he would buy bad Exchequer bills; he is not to be trusted.” He little knows me.’ ‘That is very true,’ said Mrs. Sydney; ‘people are not aware that Sydney, with all his mirth, is one of the most cautious, prudent men that ever existed; he is always looking forward, and providing against what may happen.’ ‘Yes, I always expect the worst; but it has a good effect, for it makes me cautious.’

“‘When I went to Edinburgh I had two introductions, to Sir William Forbes and Professor ——. He was clerk to the General Assembly of the Kirk. He said to me one day after dinner, “D—n the solemn league and covenant! it has spoiled the longs and shorts in Scotland.’”

“‘I like Dr. Fergusson much. William Clerk is an original man; how rare it is to meet an original man!’

“‘I wish sometimes that I were a Scotchman, to have people care about me so much.’


“‘The Americans, I see, call me a Minor Canon. They are abusing me dreadfully today: they call me Xantippe; they might at least have known my sex: and they say I am eighty-four. I don’t know how it is,’ said he, laughing, ‘but everybody who behaves ill to me is sure to come to mischief before the year’s out. I am not angry with them; I only say, I pity you, You are sure to suffer.’

“‘Were you remarkable as a boy, Mr. Smith?’ ‘Yes, Madam, I was a remarkably fat boy. I was at one time to have been a supercargo to China, to Hongkong.’

“‘Here is a hymn-book that an old man of eighty-four sends me, he says, because of his pleasure in hearing of my giving the living of Edmonton to Tate’s son. I should have been better pleased if it had not cost me a shilling.’ ‘Oh!’ said Mrs. Sydney, ‘I would willingly have given a guinea for it.’

“‘Here is an anonymous letter from some one who has a quantity of Mississippi bonds, asking me what he should do with them? How can I tell? they are not worth sixpence.’

“That month every post brought letters to him, either of complaint of the Americans, of the income-tax, or of some evil, which the writers (strangers) entreated. Mr. Smith to write against, and to help them to remedy. There were also many feeling letters on the subject of his generosity to the family of Canon Tate. He could not conceive why the world praised him so much for that; he always spoke so simply
about it, that it showed me how natural it was to his disposition to be kind and generous. He was evidently pleased by some of the newspapers’ clever notices of his Letters to America. ‘Well, they lay it on pretty thick today; where is
Mrs. Sydney?’ He was perpetually coming to her with something for her sympathy or consultation; and richly did she deserve that happiness, from her devoted love and admiration. One day I pointed out an article in the ‘Times,’ of one who was reckoned the Sydney Smith of Spain: it amused him.

“‘I had once a mind to write a letter to young bishops; bishops I have known speak to their inferior clergy worse than they do to their footmen.’ ‘Why do you not, Mr. Smith?’ ‘Oh, it would be a life of contention; I am too old to bear a life of contention now.’

“‘There is a specimen of national honesty! read that marked with red ink.’ ‘Do you mean a joke?’ ‘No, no.’ ‘Do give me a sign.’ ‘Well, I’ll sometimes give you a sign when there is no joke, and you’ll be sure to laugh. Frere used to tread on a man’s toes to make him think he said something wrong. . . . When I was in Edinburgh, I said to a lady, speaking of the Dean of Faculty, that we thought our Deans in England had no faculties. She said, “Well, I call that a very good joke!”’

“‘I hope somebody will tell me when I grow old and prosy; though I am not likely to get very prosy, I’m in general so short.’ ‘Yes, too short, Mr. Smith.’


“Christmas-day was one rich in recollections. The weather was fine. I looked out, and saw the maid Maria gravely and busily tying on oranges to the branches of the bay-trees, that were planted in large green tubs round the lawn. The effect was gay and sunny, and pleased him mightily. The sermon that day was a glorious one;—on Christmas, the contrast of the world before the blessed era, and the sudden effect after,—gratitude, immortal life, etc. I hope the sermon is preserved. I cannot give a good account of all that was interesting at that time,—of the children’s feast, the schools, the prizes, the charities, etc.; but I remember my admiration of the variety of character which Mr. Smith displayed that day. From the sublime duties of the morning, he became, with the large family-party assembled at dinner, the Sydney Smith of London society; and in the evening he was delightful. ‘I crave for music, Mrs. Smith; music! music!’ He sang, with his sweet, rich voice, ‘A few gay soarings yet.’ He imitated an orchestra preluding, talking French, telling stories, and laughing so infectiously. Next morning he was merrier than ever; I found the party all at breakfast, waiting till I came, before he would allow a Scotch cake to be touched, which my maid had prepared (bad enough). He had often asked me to suggest some improvement to his house, something new—(poor I could think of nothing new, but cakes made with soda and buttermilk!); it was this cake we were all to take the same chance of suffering from, by eating it together. ‘Let us make
a tontine for the survivor,’ said he, laughing. It was wonderful how he played upon this cake, on me, and on Scottish luxuries; he fancied that I feared to be too comfortable. ‘Oh, that easy couch! you’ll suffer for that a thousand years hence, depend upon it.’

“‘Want of money is a great evil: I declare, every guinea I have gained I have been the happier. I was very poor till I was appointed to St. Paul’s; that made me easy, and then my brother Courtenay’s death made me rich.’ An old friend congratulating him on his appointment to St. Pauls: ‘Why, I think it makes me most happy to feel I can now keep a carriage and horses for her, in her old-age (pointing to Mrs. Sydney), which I could not have done before.’

“‘I once rode on a turtle five feet along, supported by two people: piety trampling luxury underfoot! Do you take it?’

“The first sermon I heard in Combe Florey church was certainly meant for my good: ‘Cast your care upon God, for he careth for you.’ It was so comforting and encouraging! With what delight did I look and listen, in that church, to the grand form and powerful countenance, noble and melodious voice! In reading the Lessons and Psalms, he read so as almost to make a commentary on every word, and the meaning came out so rich and deep. His sermons were not given in St. Paul’s with more interest and effect; and yet they were adapted to the congregation, from their plain and practical sense. Remembering him in St. Paul’s crowded cathedral, and looking at him
in the little village church, filled with peasantry, I was pleased to see him always the same.

“I wish I could convey the idea of his appearance as he sat in the bay-window of the library, writing. I used sometimes, in walking past, to venture near, to look at him. There was power, profundity, and meaning in his countenance; and he would often take up his papers with an amused expression. I was convinced that he was a very happy man. I often regretted that I had no spirits or courage to speak to him, or to join him in his walks in the garden, but I have much respect for the silence of a great man.

“These memorandums seem very simple, but I wished to be able to recall to myself the looks and tones of one whom I had been accustomed to admire through much of my life; and I feel, when writing for myself, that my impressions are conveyed.

“On New Year’s Day, we were walking in the garden; he discovered a crocus, which had burst through the frozen earth; he stopped suddenly, gazed at it silently for a few seconds, and, touching it with his staff, pronounced solemnly, ‘The resurrection of the world!’”

To this pretty, simple journal I have little to add. Yet how different are the minds of men! An apple fell to the ground, and Sir Isaac Newton saw in it one of the great laws of nature. How many men would have passed that little crocus, and seen in it only a flower: whilst to my father’s mind (not quite un-
worthy of this great ancestor) it brought at one glance to his thoughts all the wonderful effects the breath of life, which had gone forth, was producing in every portion of the world, for man’s benefit now, and was to produce on man himself in a world to come.

He saw but one resurrection upon earth more. In the spring he went up to London, as usual, for a short time; and whilst there, met, at the house of Mr. Van de Weyer, a literary man of some eminence who afterwards published a sketch of him in the ‘Revue des Deux Mondes;’ in which he introduced a short and humorous answer of my father’s to him, not however intended for publication. My mother wishing to know some particulars of this from Mr. Van de Weyer, after my father’s death, he had the kindness, amidst all the hurry of a sudden departure for Germany, to write out the following account of the transaction for her, which he has given me permission to insert.

June 1852.
“My dear Mrs. Sydney Smith,

“I hasten, before our departure for Germany, to enclose, according to your wishes, several extracts from the letters which my poor friend Eugene Robin wrote to me on the subject of the article published by him in the ‘Revue des Deux Mondes.’

“In 1844, Eugene Robin, who had left Brussels, where he had been educated, and had, at a very early age, distinguished himself, both as a poet and a critic, spent a few days with us in London; and, as he was
anxious to know the best and most original writers of England, we had long conversations together on the works of
Mr. Sydney Smith, which I lent him, and for which he soon felt and expressed a great admiration. On the 22nd of April, I received from him the following letter:—

“‘Vous vous souvenez peut-être de m’avoir parlé de la collection des écrits de Jeffrey et de Sydney Smith sur lesquels il y avait de bons articles à faire pour la ‘Revue des Deux Mondes.’ Le ‘Jeffrey’ a été traité par M. Forcade, dans la dernière livraison; mais le ‘Sydney Smith’ vient de m’échoir en partage. J’ai demandé le livre à Londres: mais je voudrais bien, comme vous connaissez intimement l’auteur, que vous eussiez la bonté, si vos loisirs vous le permettent, de me dire si ce sont là réellement tous ses ouvrages; de me donner (c’est bien indiscret de vous demander ces choses-là) sur l’homme et sur l’écrivain de ces détails qu’avec votre esprit d’observation, vous seul pouvez bien connaître. Ils ajouteraient singulièrement de prix à un travail fait avec conscience. J’ai le pain de mon article; j’attends de vous le sel. Pourquoi m’avezvous encouragé à ne voir en vous que l’homme de lettres bienveillant pour ses jeunes confrères? Je ne vous importunerais pas de la sorte.’

“I immediately answered that I very much regretted not to be able to comply with his request, my very intimacy with Mr. Sydney Smith preventing me, without his consent, from sending for a Review any biographical anecdotes or critical observations on his life and wri-
tings; but I advised
M. Robin to write himself to Mr. S. Smith, and I offered to deliver his letter, and to explain both his reasons for doing so, and my reasons for not acceding to his demand, and to obtain an answer for him. M. Robin sent me a charming letter (I regret that I have not kept a copy of it) for Mr. Sydney Smith, who kindly approved of what I had said and done, and entrusted to my care an answer to Eugène Robin’s letter.*

“More than two months elapsed before Eugène Robin acknowledged the receipt of this letter to me in the following words:—

“‘Paris, le 3 Sept., 1844.

“‘Vous avez bien voulu m’envoyer la lettre amicale et toujours spirituelle de votre ami le Révérend Sydney Smith. Elle m’a grandement encouragé à faire l’article dont je vous avais parlé; maintenant, ce travail est fini depuis plus de quinze jours; il n’y manque plus que quelques petits détails biographiques, qui, transmis par vous, selon le désir exprimé par M. Sydney Smith, relèveraient singulièrement mon récit et ma critique. Si vous vouliez faire un effort en faveur de l’aimable Chanoine de Saint-Paul, que ne vous devrais-je pas?’

“I have not kept a copy of my answer to him, the substance of which was communicated to Mr. Sydney Smith. The article appeared soon after, and Mr. Sydney Smith was informed of its publication by M.

* The letter, having been already published, is not given here.

Robin. This letter was not sent through me: I heard of it by the two following notes from Mr. Sydney Smith:—

“‘October 21, 1844.

“‘You may remember I wrote through you to Eugene Robin, giving, at his request, some account of myself. I have received a letter from him, stating that the Review is published, and that he has quoted a part of my letter. I confess this rather alarms me. Will it be putting you to an inconvenience if I beg the loan of the Review for two or three hours? I will deviate from my usual custom, and return it punctually.’

“‘October 24.

“‘I have received the Review by post, so I will not trouble you for yours.

“‘Eugene has said more about me than I deserve. He is of himself a little long; but I am very much pleased and flattered by the approbation of so clever a man.

“‘He had better not have quoted my letter; but there is no great harm. Yours,

“‘Sydney Smith.’

“We leave tomorrow. Believe me, my dear Mrs. Sydney Smith,

“Yours very faithfully,
“Sylvain Van De Weyer.”

Here, though slightly anticipating events, I shall
insert two most touching letters from his friend
Lord Jeffrey,—the one on the occasion of his long, last illness, and the other on receiving the fragment on the Irish Church, after my father’s death. And I give them with the more pleasure, as they not only furnish fresh proof of the tenderness and kindness of Lord Jeffrey’s nature, but afford ample testimony to the devotion and admiration he bore my father, and which my father’s deep love for him so fully deserved. To my regret, this has been almost passed over, or barely alluded to, in the Life lately published of Lord Jeffrey.

Edinburgh, Feb. 10th, 1845.
“My dear Saba,

“I do not know when I have felt more moved and delighted, than when Professor Pillans came into my room yesterday with a short letter from our beloved Sydney (but in his wife’s handwriting), cheerfully written; and saying, among other things, and in substance, that he ‘looked forward to his recovery, and at all events was making very valuable progress:’ I think those were the words. I need not tell you how sad we have all been about him, nor what a gloom the accounts we have lately received have thrown over the circle of his ancient friends. While that lasted, I for one at least had not courage to distress you by any inquiry; but this letter has excited a less painful anxiety, and I hope you will forgive me for the trouble it leads me to give you. You cannot over-estimate the interest I take in the oldest and truest of my re-
maining friends; and I believe I may say the same of
Murray. Do then, my dear child, let us know whether we may not hope again.

“And believe me always affectionately yours,
“F. Jeffrey.”
Haileybury College, Hertford, April 21, 1845.
“My very dear Saba,

“I have felt several times in the last six weeks that I ought to have written to some of you; but in truth, my dear child, I had not the courage; and today it is not so much because I have the courage, as because I cannot help it.

“That startling and matchless Fragment was laid upon my table this morning; and before I had read out the first sentence, the real presence of my beloved and incomparable friend was so brought before me, in all his brilliancy, benevolence, and flashing decision, that I seemed again to hear his voice and read in his eye, and burst into an agony of crying. I went through the whole in the same state of feeling: my fancy kindled, and my intellect illumined, but my heart struck through with the sense of our loss, so suddenly and so deeply impressed by this seeming restoration.

“I do not think he ever wrote anything so good, and I feel mournfully that there is no one man alive who could have so written. The effect, I am persuaded, will be greater than from any of his other publications: it is a voice from the grave. And it may truly
be said that those who will not listen to it, would not be persuaded though one were to rise from the dead.

“It relieves me to say all this, and you must forgive it. Heaven bless you, my dear child! With kind remembrances from all here,

“Ever very affectionately yours,
“F. Jeffrey.”

During the summer of this year, he received many of his old friends; and, amongst others, his eldest and now only brother, Robert, Mr. Hallam, and Mr. Everett, the American minister. Of this visit I find this touching notice in a letter of Mr. Everett’s to my mother, on receiving the volume of posthumous sermons she published:—

“One of them I heard him preach in his little village church at Combe Florey. The reading of it brings back to me, in the freshest recollection, that delightful visit,—one of the brightest spots in my English residence—though I am painfully affected by considering that the two great men whose society I then enjoyed are gone; men who, in their peculiar paths of eminence, have not left their equals behind them.” On another occasion Mr. Everett says:—“The first remark that I made to myself, after listening to Mr. Sydney Smith’s conversation, was, that if he had not been known as the wittiest man of his day, he would have been accounted one of the wisest.”

My father opened his house for a month to that poor, interesting family for whom he had interceded
with so much success with
Sir Robert Peel, and who were pining for a little fresh air. Amongst these was a clever, imaginative little boy, by whom he was much interested. Every evening he examined into his conduct during the day; and, if blameless, sent him to bed with a large red wafer stuck in the middle of his forehead as a reward. The Order of the Garter could not have made the child more proud. Once only, during his visit, did he forfeit the red wafer, and went sobbing and broken-hearted to bed; having been convicted, first, of cutting off the whiskers of Muff, Annie Kay’s favourite cat; and last, though not least, meddling with the poetical salad when dressed. Such crimes could not, of course, be pardoned!

My father went, for a short time, in the autumn, to the sea-side, complaining much of languor. He said, “I feel so weak, both in body and mind, that I verily believe, if the knife were put into my hand, I should not have strength or energy enough to stick it into a Dissenter.”

In October my father was taken seriously ill; and Dr. Holland went down immediately to Combe Florey, and advised his coming up to town, where he might be constantly under his care. He bore the journey well; and for the first two months, though very weak, went out in his carriage every day, saw his friends, broke out into moments of his natural gaiety, saying one day, with his bright smile, to General Fox (when they were keeping him on very low diet), and not allowing him any meat, “Ah, Charles! I wish I were
allowed even the wing of a roasted butterfly;” and was at times so like his former self, that, though Dr. Holland was uneasy about him, we could not give up hope.

But other and more urgent symptoms coming on, Dr. Holland became so anxious, that he begged that Dr. Chambers might be called in. My father most unwillingly consented,—not from any dislike of Dr. Chambers, but from having the most perfect confidence in Dr. Holland’s care and skill.

That evening he, for the first time, told his old maid and nurse, Annie Kay, that he knew his danger; said where and how he should wish to be buried;—then spoke of us all, but told her we must cheer him, and keep up his spirits, if he lingered long.

But he had such a dread of sorrowful faces around him, and of inflicting pain, that to us he always spoke calmly and cheerfully, and as if unaware of his danger.

He now never left his bed. Though suffering much, he was gentle, calm, and patient; and sometimes even cheerful. He spoke but little. Once he said to me, taking my hand, “I should like to get well, if it were only to please Dr. Holland; it would, I know, make him so happy; this illness has endeared him so much to me.”

Speaking once of the extraordinary interest that had been evinced by his friends for his recovery (for the inquiries at his door were incessant),—“It gives me pleasure, I own,” he said, “as it shows I have not misused the powers entrusted to me.” But he was most touched by the following letter from Lady Grey
to my mother, expressing the feelings towards him, of one of the friends he most loved and honoured,—one who was, like himself, lying on that bed from which he was never to rise, and who was speaking as it were his farewell before entering on eternity.

Lord Grey is intensely anxious about him. There is nobody of whom he so constantly thinks; nobody whom, in the course of his own long illness, he so ardently wished to see. Need I add, dear Mrs. Sydney, that, excepting only our children, there is nobody for whom we both feel so sincere an affection. God knows how truly I feel for your anxiety. Who is so sadly entitled to do so as I am? But I will hope the best, and that we may both be blessed by seeing the person most dear to us restored to health.”

One evening, when the room was half-darkened, and he had been resting long in silence, and I thought him asleep, he suddenly burst forth, in a voice so strong and full that it startled us,—

“We talk of human life as a journey, but how variously is that journey performed! There are some who come forth girt, and shod, and mantled, to walk on velvet lawns and smooth terraces, where every gale is arrested, and every beam is tempered. There are others who walk on the Alpine paths of life, against driving misery, and through stormy sorrows, over sharp afflictions; walk with bare feet, and naked breast, jaded, mangled, and chilled.”

And then he sank into perfect silence again. In
quoting this beautiful passage from his sermon on Riches, his mind seems to have turned to the long and hard struggles of his own early life.

The present painful struggle did not last many days longer. He often lay silent and lost in thought, then spoke a few words of kindness to those around. He seemed to meet death with that calmness which the memory of a well-spent life, and trust in the mercy of God, can alone give.

Almost the last person he saw was his favourite and now only-surviving brother, Bobus; and nothing could be more affecting than to see these two brothers thus parting on the brink of the grave; for my dear uncle only left my father’s deathbed to lie down on his own,—literally fulfilling the petition my father so touchingly made to him in one of his early letters, on hearing of his illness, “to take care of himself, and wait for him,”—and before the end of a fortnight had followed him to the grave.

Heslington, 1813.
“Dear Bobus,

“Pray take care of yourself. We shall both be a brown infragrant powder in thirty or forty years. Let us contrive to last out for the same, or nearly the same time. Weary will the latter half of my pilgrimage be, if you leave me in the lurch.

“Ever your affectionate brother,
“Sydney Smith.”

Of the genius, learning, and virtue that were lost
to the world, in that grave, I dare not attempt to speak; it belongs to other and abler pens than mine to tell; but to me my uncle’s death was as the death of a second father,—the extinction of all I have ever known or conceived that was brightest and best in the world.

A very eminent man, who had the rare privilege of associating intimately with my uncle, writes of him to Sir Henry Holland:—“I never knew a mind with so gigantic a grasp. Our talk when alone was always most serious.”

These beautiful and characteristic lines were found in my uncle’s desk, supposed to have been composed by him shortly before his death:—
“‘Hîc jacet!’—O humanarum meta ultima rerum!
Ultra quam labor et luctus curæque quiescunt,
Ultra quam penduntur opes et gloria flocci;
Et redit ad nihilum vana hæc et turbida vita:
Ut te respicerent homines! Quæ bella per orbem,
Qui motus animorum et quanta pericula nostra
Acciperent facilem sine cæde et sanguine finem!
Tu mihi versare ante oculos, non tristis imago,
Sed monitrix, ut me ipse regam, domus hæc mihi cum sit
Vestibulum tumuli, et senii penultima sedes.”

“‘Hîc jacet!‘—O last goal of human things, beyond which labour and mourning and cares are at rest, beyond which riches and glory are weighed as nothing, and this vain and turbid life returns to nought! Oh that men would thus regard thee! What wars throughout the world, what passions of the soul, how
many dangers besetting us, might so obtain an easy termination without slaughter or blood! Mayest thou be present before my eyes, not a mournful image, but an admonisher, that I should regulate myself; since this house is to me the vestibule of the tomb, and the next to closing seat of my old-age!”

My father died at peace with himself and with all the world; anxious, to the last, to promote the comfort and happiness of others. He sent messages of kindness and forgiveness to the few he thought had injured him. Almost his last act was, bestowing a small living of £120 per annum on a poor, worthy, and friendless clergyman, who had lived a long life of struggle with poverty on £40 per annum.* Full of happiness and gratitude, he entreated he might be allowed to see my father; but the latter so dreaded any agitation that he most unwillingly consented, saying, “Then he must not thank me; I am too weak to bear it.” He entered,—my father gave him a few words of advice,—the clergyman silently pressed his hand, and blessed his death-bed. Surely such blessings are not given in vain!

My father expired on the 22nd of February, 1845,

* In dictating a few words in his favour (for he was too weak to write) to the Bishop of Llandaff, he says:—“In addition to his other merits, I am sure he will have one in your eyes, for he is an out-and-out Tory.” So little did party-feelings influence my father in bestowing preferment!

—his death caused by hydrothorax, or water on the chest, consequent upon disease of the heart, which had probably existed for a considerable time, but rapidly increased during the few months preceding his death. His son closed his eyes. He was buried, by his own desire, as privately as possible, in the cemetery of Kensal Green; where his eldest son,
Douglas, and now my mother, repose by his side.

And if true greatness consists, as my dear and valued old friend Mr. Rogers once quoted here from an ancient Greek writer, “in doing what deserves to be written, and writing what deserves to be read, and in making mankind happier and better for your life,” my father was a truly great and good man.

My mother’s anxiety to have a Memoir written of my father had induced her to apply very soon after his death to Mr. Moore, for his able assistance; but upon further consideration it was thought the event was then too recent; and before sufficient materials could be collected, Mr. Moore’s health rendered the task impossible. The following letter refers to my mother’s request to Lord Jeffrey to contribute his recollections of my father.

June 14, 1845.
“My dear Mrs. Smith,

“I do not systematically destroy my letters, but I
take no care of them, and very few, I fear, have been preserved. I shall make a search, however, and send you all I can. I was very glad to hear some time ago, that
Moore had agreed to assist in preparing the memorial, about which you are naturally so much interested. He will do it, I am sure, in a right spirit, and with the feeling which we are all anxious to see brought to its execution. Then he writes gracefully, is so great a favourite with the public, that the addition of his name cannot fail to be a great recommendation. If it occurs to me, on reflection, that there is anything I can contribute in the way you suggest, I shall be most happy to have my name once more associated with his on such an occasion. You know it must always be a pleasure to me to comply with any request of yours; and the form in which you wish this to be done, is certainly that which I should prefer to any other. Yet the models to which you refer, might well deter me from attempting anything that might lead to comparison.*

“I am glad to think of you at Munden,† rather than in Green-street, in this charming weather; and beg to be most kindly remembered there to my beloved Emily and all her belongings.

“I have not had much to boast of in the way of health since my return, but have still been well enough hitherto to get through with my work. We are fixed

* Sydney’s Letters to the Editors of Sir J. Mackintosh and Mr. Horner’s Memoirs.

Mr. Hibbert’s house in Hertfordshire.

here now, I think, pretty much till winter, and expect to be joined by
Charley and her infant, in a fortnight,

“With kindest regards,
“Ever very affectionately yours,
“F. Jeffrey.”

“My dear Mrs. Sydney,

“Your kind note of the 12th came to me at the Euston Hotel this morning, when I was in the act of sallying forth to join the train which brought me here two hours ago. So you see I could not possibly thank you any earlier, for your kind inquiries; nor gratify myself by the interesting pilgrimage to Green-street, which I should otherwise have undertaken with such a deep devotion of feeling. I hope yet to live, however, to commune with my heart at that shrine.* I am glad that Eddis has been so successful. For calm and true expression, and the rendering of what is moral, rather than passionate, in our natures, I think he is the first of our living artists. I have indeed been very ill and recover but slowly, though I have little actual suffering, and hope to be a little less feeble and shabby yet before I die. Notwithstanding, I have no anxiety, nor low spirits, though the animal vitality is at times low enough, God knows. My affections and the enjoyment of beautiful nature, I thank

* A portrait of my father, which Mr. Eddis had just painted for my mother.

heaven, are as fresh and lively as in the first poetical days of my youth, and with these there is nothing very miserable in the infirmity of age. We are taking two of our grandchildren down with us, and I hope to have the whole household reunited at Craigcrook, on the first days of July. They are all (except the poor patriarch who tells you so) in the full flush of health and gaiety, and would make a brightness in a darker home than mine.

“Give my true and tender love to my dear Emily. I often think of her in her early home at Foston, and in that still earlier Yorkshire home, where she tempted me to expose myself on the jackass.*

“With kind remembrances to Hibbert and all his descendants, God bless you all, and always.

“Very affectionately yours,
“F. Jeffrey.”

Hints on Female Education.

Though the subject of education is now much more generally studied and understood than it was formerly, yet the following slight hints, written at the request of a very young mother, when my father was a very young man, may not be entirely without value

* See Narrative, p. 153.

and interest to some young mother now; and at least show how early he felt the value and importance of education to women. I received them too late to insert them in their proper place.

“I am afraid, my dear Madam, you will find in these few hints little which you have not already anticipated, and that their only merit will be, that intention of being useful to your children by which they are dictated. Your daughters will have a great deal to do, and you will have a great deal to superintend; and exertion on their part, and inspection on yours, will lose very much of their effects without a systematic distribution of time. I cannot compliment you with having been a great economist of life. In your own instance indeed it is not of much importance; but the education of your daughters ought to (and I am sure will) impose upon you a restraint of natural propensities. If you wish to be useful to them, you must be active, persevering, and systematic; you must lay out the day in regular plots and parterres; and toil and relax at intervals, fixed as much as your other affairs will permit. The consideration of religion may perhaps be brought too frequently before the minds of young people. Pleasure and consolation through life may be derived from a judicious religious education; a mistaken zeal may embitter the future days of a child with superstition, melancholy, and terror. Short prayers at rising and going to bed; a regular attendance at church; the precepts of a mo-
ther as a friend, sparingly and opportunely applied, appear to me to be the best kind of foundation for the superstructure of religion. It will be wise perhaps to teach them very early, that Sunday is a day on which their ordinary studies should be laid aside, and others of a more serious nature attended to. What the religious books are which are to be put into the hands of children, you know best; but there are some which, when their understandings become more enlarged, your daughters should certainly read, such as* . . .

“God has made us with strong passions and little wisdom. To inspire the notion that infallible vengeance will be the consequence of every little deviation from our duty is to encourage melancholy and despair. Women have often ill health and irritable nerves; they want moreover that strong coercion over the fancy which judgment exercises in the minds of men; hence they are apt to cloud their minds with secret fears and superstitious presentiments. Check, my dear Madam, as you value their future comfort, every appearance of this in your daughters; dispel that prophetic gloom which dives into futurity, to extract sorrow from days and years to come, and which considers its own unhappy visions as the decrees of Providence. We know nothing of tomorrow; our business is to be good and happy today.

“One of the great practical goods which Christi-

* Omitted, because, since this period, works fitted for the young have become so numerous and are so improved, that the list is of little use.

anity is every day producing to society is that extreme attention to the necessities of the poor, for which this country is so remarkable. I hope you will give your daughters a taste for active interference of this kind; nothing makes a woman so amiable and respectable.

“I would keep from my daughters immoral books, sceptical books, and novels; from which last I except Sir C. Grandison. I confess I have a very great dread of novels; the general moral may be good, but they dwell on subjects and scenes which it appears to me it is the great object of female education to exclude. A woman’s heart does not want softening; it is a strange composition of tears, sighs, sorrows, ecstasies, fears, smiles, etc. etc.;—a man is all flesh and blood.

“I hope at the proper time you will take your children into the world. It will please them, relieve them from that painful shyness and embarrassment inseparable from a retired life, and give them the fair chance they ought to have of settling to advantage.

“The accomplishments are of use, as they embellish and occupy the mind; but after all, they are subordinate points of education, and too much time may very easily be given to them. It is very agreeable to look at good drawings; it is very delightful to hear good music; but good sense, sound judgment, and cultivated understanding, are superior to everything else;—they make the good wife, the enlightened mother, the interesting companion. Do not suppose I am decrying accomplishments. I am only giving them their just rank, and guarding against that exclusive
care and absorbent eagerness with which it is at present the fashion to cultivate them.

“You mean to give your girls a taste for reading. Nothing else can so well enable them to pass their lives with dignity, with innocence, and with interest. Let us go into detail, and see if we can chalk out a convenient plan for them. They must learn French; do you know enough of this language to instruct them, or must they have a master? If the latter, the grammar, pronunciation, etc., will be his affair. In the choice of books it will be very much in your power to direct them; the first will be easy, and suitable to children in point of language; such books abound,—you cannot mistake them; then the whole field of French literature is open for you to select from. For example, when you think them old enough, and sufficiently acquainted with the language, let them read Bourdaloue and Massillon’s Sermons, Bossuet’s Oraisons Funebres, Sermons of Father Elisée, as specimens of the sacred eloquence of the French; let them read some of the best plays of Pierre Corneille, Racine, Moliere, Voltaire’s tragedies, some of Boileau, particularly the Lutrin, the Henriade of Voltaire. Supposing they wish to read French history, always take care to make geography and chronology go hand in hand with history, without which it is nothing but a confused jumble of places and events. When they have read the history of Greece and Rome, they should not fail to read Plutarch’s Lives; one of the most delightful books antiquity has left us. They will of course pay an early
attention to the history of their own country, which they will find curiously detailed in
Henry, philosophically in Hume, drily and accurately in Rapin. With the poets and dramatic writers of our own country you are as well acquainted as myself. I hope they will learn Italian. In arithmetic it does not appear to be of consequence that they should go far, not further perhaps than compound division; but I would certainly endeavour, by much practice, to make them very dexterous in the common operations of subtracting, multiplying, and adding. It is of great importance to give them correct notions in the common elements of geography and astronomy, and to make them quite at their ease in the use of maps;—this will be done in very little time. In the order of study, the acquirement of what is preparatory to general literature will first require your attention, as well as those which are of indispensable necessity; I mean writing, ciphering, French, geography, spelling, etc. When these first difficulties are got over, put them boldly on the Greek and Roman history in the mornings, and poetry or belles lettres—English or French—in the afternoons. Remark to them, encourage them to make their remarks to you; applaud, blame, encourage, and use every little pious artifice in your power to give them that sure, best, and happiest of all worldly attainments—a taste for literary improvement.

“I have recommended a division of studies into those of the morning and evening, because I think it can be very easily done without producing confusion,
and it is tedious to dwell upon one subject for a whole day. If you can get them to read in a connected method, you will have gained a point of great importance. For example,
Spenser precedes Dryden, Pope, etc.; and by following this order of precedence, you see the improvement of language, and remark how each poet is indebted to those who went before him. Voyages and travels, and the history of modern Europe, would exhaust the longest life. Botany they will be delighted with.

“I have given a list of some few books in the principal departments of knowledge, in case they should strike into any one of them. The truth is, it is not important what part of knowledge they love best. A woman who loves history, is not more respectable than a woman who loves natural philosophy; either will afford innocent, dignified, improving occupation. If they show no predilection, then give them one: if they do, follow it. We move most quickly to that point where we wish to go.

“Let your children see that you are sorry to restrain them, happy to indulge them. Confess your ignorance when they put questions to you which you cannot answer, and refer them elsewhere; and relax from your instruction and authority in proportion as your children want them less. I write positively, my dear Madam, to avoid the long and circuitous language of diffidence, not because I attach any value to my opinions.

“I have contented myself with general hints, be-
cause in writing on these subjects it is no very difficult thing to slip into a folio volume. I have omitted the mention of many things which I know you will do well, and have purposely introduced that of others where I have some apprehensions of you. If it were not to make you an oner unworthy of acceptance, I should say that my serious and most zealous advice is always at your command.

“Adieu, my dear Madam; take courage, exert yourself. If there be one sight on earth which commands interest, respect, and assistance from men, it is that of a good mother, who, under the providence of God, exerts her whole strength for the advantage and improvement of her children.

“Your most sincere well-wisher,
“Sydney Smith.”



[On the opposite side of the Tomb.]

List of the Rev. Sydney Smith’s Articles in the
Edinburgh Review.

Vol. Art. Page.   Vol. Art. Page.   Vol. Art. Page.
1 2 18   12 9 151   32 6 389
1 3 24   13 2 25   33 3 68
1 9 83   13 5 77   33 5 91
1 12 94   13 4 333   34 5 109
1 16 113   14 3 40   34 2 320
1 18 122   14 11 145   34 8 422
1 20 128   14 5 353   35 5 92
1 6 314   13 14 490   37 7 123
1 10 382   15 3 40   35 2 286
2 2 30   15 3 299   36 6 110
2 4 53   16 7 158   36 3 353
2 6 86   16 3 326   37 2 325
2 14 136   16 7 399   37 7 432
2 17 172   17 4 330   38 4 85
2 22 202   17 8 393   39 2 43
2 4 330   21 4 93   30 2 31
2 10 398   22 4 67   40 7 427
3 12 146   23 8 189   41 7 143
3 7 334   31 2 295   43 7 395
3 9 355   31 6 132   43 2 299
9 12 177   31 2 295   43 7 395
10 4 299   32 2 28   44 2 47
10 6 329   32 3 309   45 3 74
11 5 341   32 6 111   45 7 423
12 5 82