LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Letters 1844

Author's Preface
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Editor’s Preface
Letters 1801
Letters 1802
Letters 1803
Letters 1804
Letters 1805
Letters 1806
Letters 1807
Letters 1808
Letters 1809
Letters 1810
Letters 1811
Letters 1812
Letters 1813
Letters 1814
Letters 1815
Letters 1816
Letters 1817
Letters 1818
Letters 1819
Letters 1820
Letters 1821
Letters 1822
Letters 1823
Letters 1824
Letters 1825
Letters 1826
Letters 1827
Letters 1828
Letters 1829
Letters 1830
Letters 1831
Letters 1832
Letters 1833
Letters 1834
Letters 1835
Letters 1836
Letters 1837
Letters 1838
Letters 1839
Letters 1840
Letters 1841
Letters 1842
Letters 1843
‣ Letters 1844
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532.] To Mrs. Grote.
Combe Florey, Jan. 3rd, 1844.
My dear Mrs. Grote,

You have seen more than enough of my giving the living of Edmonton to a curate. The first thing the

* This was written after hearing Irving preach.

unscriptural curate does, is to turn out his fellow-curate, the son of him who was vicar before his father. Is there not some story in Scripture of the debtor who had just been excused his debt, seizing his fellow-servant by the throat, and casting him into prison? The Bishop, the Dean and Chapter, and I have in vain expostulated; he perseveres in his harshness and cruelty.

Senior has just left us; he seems to have gained great credit from his Irish article. I am always very much pleased with your commendation. I am really sincere in my love of what is honest and liberal, and I wrote with no lack of moral wrath.

I am going on Thursday to Bowood, where my brother is; he returns with me. Everett is coming here, and on the 15th the Hibberts. Mrs. Sydney is uncommonly well; I thought I was going to be very ill during the close, muggy weather, but this frost has restored me to life; and so I return to my text, by asking why you suppose your letters are not agreeable?

Sydney Smith.

533.] To Mrs. ——.
Combe Florey, Jan. 23rd, 1844.

Many thanks, dear Mrs. ——, for your agreeable letter. You seem to be leading a happy life; making a pleasing exception to the generality of mankind, who are miserable. —— writes to me at long intervals. I think I am falling into desuetude and disgrace.

Your list of French visitors is, I dare say, very splendid, but I am so ignorant of French society, that
they are most of them unknown to me; I mean, unknown by reputation, as well as personally. I should like more of a mixture. You seem to have too much talent in your drawing-room. I met
Berryer at the Chancellor’s in London, and was much struck with his physiognomy and manner.

Poor Miss Fox (as I believe you know) has had a slight paralytic stroke. She was a most beautiful specimen of human excellence. I have been in the country ever since the middle of December, and know nothing about men and things. I am tolerably well, but intolerably old.

Jeffrey is laid up with a bad leg, which is getting rather serious. Have you seen his publication in four volumes, dedicated to me? I told him it was the greatest compliment I had ever received in my life.

I receive every day letters of abuse and congratulation from America, for my three epistles. I continue to think they will never pay, and I continue to value you very much. I am very glad Mr. —— is better, and I beg you to accept my affectionate benediction.

Sydney Smith.

534.] To Mrs. Holland.
January, 1844.
Dear Saba,

People of wealth and rank never use ugly names for ugly things. Apoplexy is an affection of the head; paralysis is nervousness; gangrene is pain and inconvenience in the extremities. All that I heard from D——, who falls into this kind of subterfutive language, was that Miss —— was indisposed, and it was only after your letter that I got anything like the
truth from him; she is certainly in danger, and he says that he should not be surprised to hear of her death. Poor dear ——! So it is, that the best as well as the worst disappear. I am heartily sorry for the ——. Bobus and
Mr. Everett are staying here. God bless you! Ever affectionately,

Sydney Smith.

535.] To Mrs. Holland.
Combe Florey, 1844.
My dear Saba,

Are you sure that you are sufficiently acquainted with what the strength of cider ought to be, to determine that your cider has been adulterated? The farmer has the character of being a remarkably honest man, and his reputation is at stake. Send me down here a couple of bottles, which I will compare with his cider. George Hibbert is here. Your mother has no illness, but much malaise. I complain of nothing but weakness, and want of nervous energy; I look as strong as a cart-horse, but I cannot get round the garden without resting once or twice, so deficient am I in nervous energy. I doubt whether to attribute this to old-age, and to consider it as inevitable, or to blame this soft, and warm, and disinvigorating climate. I believe if I were at Ramsgate or Brighton I should be strong.

I think Bobus much too adventurous for the powers of his sight; he lives in constant danger, but not fear, of a tremendous fall; and to walk, as he does, in the streets, is positive insanity. His blindness is singular: he can see a mote, but not a beam,—the smaller any-
thing is, the better he sees it; he could see David, but would run against Goliath.

We propose to be in London about the 20th, of which you may inform a fond and expecting capital. I have said nothing to your mother of the marble chimney-pieces* in the drawing-rooms; I think she will faint with joy when she sees them. God bless you, dear Saba! My kind regards to Holland.

Your affectionate father,
Sydney Smith.

536.] To Mrs. Grote.
Combe Florey, Jan. 31st, 1844.
My dear Mrs. Grote,

Your fall entirely proceeded from your despising the pommel of the saddle,—a species of pride to which many ladies may attribute fractures and death. When I rode (which, I believe, was in the middle of the last century) I had a holding-strap fixed somewhere near the pommel, and escaped many falls by it.

Nothing ever does happen at Combe Florey, and nothing has happened.

* * * * *

Old-age is not so much a scene of illness as of malaise. I think every day how near I am to death. I am very weak, and very breathless. Everett, the American Minister, has been here at the same time with my eldest brother. We all liked him, and were confirmed in our good opinion of him. A sensible, unassuming man, always wise and reasonable.

* * * * *

“If I take this dose of calomel, shall I be well im-

* See Memoir, page 216.

mediately?” “Certainly not,” replies the physician. “You have been in bed these six weeks; how can you expect such a sudden cure? But I can tell you you will never be well without it, and that it will tend materially to the establishment of your health.” So, the pay to the Catholic Clergy. They will not be immediately satisfied by the measure, but they will never be satisfied without it, and it will have a considerable tendency to produce that effect. It will not supersede other medicines, but it is an indispensable preliminary to them.

If you dine with Lady ——, it is a sure proof that you are a virtuous woman; she collects the virtuous. I have totally forgotten all about the American debt, but I continue to receive letters and papers from the most remote corners of the United States, with every vituperative epithet which human rage has invented.

Your affectionate friend,
Sydney Smith.

537.] To the Countess of Carlisle.
Combe Florey, February, 1844.
My dear Lady Carlisle,

We have read every account of Lord Carlisle, and inquired of every one who could give us any information, and have been unwilling to add to your cares and distractions by inquiries which might put you under the necessity of writing. Pray say all that is kind, and friendly, and affectionate, from this family to him. To be cared and thought about is some pleasure to the sick, even when that solicitude comes from a country parson and his wife. The danger
seems to be over; the business now is to mitigate pain, and to amuse. Mrs. Sydney is tolerably well; I cannot breathe, or walk, and am very weak; in other respects I am well also. We go to London on Tuesday, and are busy packing up ten times as many things as we shall ever want.

I beg you do not answer this note; it requires none. I only write it to say, don’t imagine we are inattentive to what is passing at Castle Howard, because we respect your time and are sensible of your many serious cares. Castle Howard befriended me when I wanted friends; I shall never forget it, till I forget all.

I remain, with respectful affection, your friend,

Sydney Smith.

538.] To Charles Dickens, Esq.
56, Green-street, Feb. 21st, 1844.
Dear Dickens,

Many thanks for the ‘Christmas Carol,’ which I shall immediately proceed upon, in preference to six American pamphlets I found upon my arrival, all promising immediate payment! Yours ever,

Sydney Smith.

539.] To the Countess Grey.
No date.
My dear Lady Grey,

I give two dinners next week to the following persons, whom I enumerate, as I know Lady Georgiana loves a little gossip. First dinner—Lady Holland, Eastlake, Lord and Lady Monteagle, Luttrell, Lord
Auckland, Lord Campbell, Lady Stratheden, Lady Dunstanville, Baring Wall, and Mr. Hope. Second dinner—Lady Charlemont, Lord Glenelg, Lord and Lady Denman, Lord and Lady Cottenham, Lord and Lady Langdale, Sir Charles Lemon, Mr. Hibbert, Landseer, and Lord Clarendon.

The Ministry are very much vexed at the majority of Lord Ashley, and are making great efforts to beat him; and it does seem to be absurd to hinder a woman of thirty from working as long as she pleases; but mankind are getting mad with humanity and Samaritanism.

I preached the other Sunday a sermon on peace, and against the excessive proneness to war; and I read them two or three extracts from the accounts of victories. It was very much liked. I shall try the same subject again,—a subject utterly untouched by the clergy.

I am reading the Letters to George Selwyn, which entertain me a good deal, though I think it a shameful publication. The picture of the year is to be Jairus’s Daughter, by Eddis.

We are all tolerably well here, and send a thousand regards to all. God bless you!

Sydney Smith.

540.] To the Countess Grey.
Green-street, Feb. 28th, 1844.
My dear Lady Grey,

I am quite delighted to learn from so many sources that Lord Grey is so much better, and I trust we shall see him in town after Easter.


What news have I to tell you? Nothing but what the papers will tell you better. Howick’s speech is universally praised for its honesty and ability. I think O’Connell will have two years’ imprisonment, and the Government and the Irish Courts have come off much better than it was supposed they would do.

We have not very good accounts from Castle Howard. There is a rumour that Lord Ashburton is employed in holy flirting with the Pope. The common idea, that a præmunire is incurred by these flirtations, or that there is any law enacting penalties for communications with his Holiness, is erroneous.

Four volumes of Burke’sLetters to the Marquis of Rockingham’ are about to be published. I am not sorry to come to London. I have been living upon commonplaces and truisms for three months. I always fatten and stupefy on such diet; I want to lose

flesh and gain understanding. The new Lady —— dined with Lady —— on Sunday. I thought she would have fainted. The page always has sal-volatile at hand for first introductions.

Affectionately yours,
Sydney Smith.

541.] To the Countess Grey.
No date.
My dear Lady Grey,

God bless you, and support you in great trials, such as the illness of so good and great a man, and one who has played so distinguished a part in the events of these times! Convey to him my ardent wishes for his safety and exemption from pain. I am a great believer in his constitution, and feel sure that we
shall yet have many conversations about the wonderful things of this world.

I send you a very honest and sensible sermon,—so little like most sermons, that I think our dear Earl might read it, or have it read to him; but let that honest Howick read it, who loves everything that is bold, and true, and honest; and send it back to me when it is done with. Only think of the iniquity of young ——. No sooner does he find himself extricated from poverty and misery, than the first thing he does is to turn out a poor curate, the son of the former vicar, before his father! His conduct has been quite abominable.

I go on Tuesday, for two or three days, to Bowood, where a large party is assembled: amongst the rest, Lady Holland. We are dying of heat. I sleep with my windows open every night. The birds are all taken in, and building; the foolish flowers are blowing. Human creatures alone are in the secret, and know what is to happen in a week or two.

I met Mr. —— in town. I have never joined in the general admiration for this person. I think his manners rude and insolent. His conversation is an eternal persiflage, and is therefore wearisome. It seems as if he did not think it worth while to talk sense or seriousness before his company, and that he had a right to abandon himself to any nonsense which happened to come uppermost; which nonsense many of his company remembered to have come uppermost often before. I receive every day from America letters and pamphlets without end. I verily believe the United States are cracking. A nation cannot exist in such a state of morals.


Give my kindest and most affectionate regards to Lord Grey; and believe me ever, dear Lady Grey, your sincere and affectionate friend,

Sydney Smith.

542.] To the Countess Grey.
Green-street, March 9th, 1844.
My dear Lady Grey,

With your occupations and anxieties, I hold you entirely acquitted for not writing to me, and pray let this be understood between us. I take so much interest in Lord Grey’s recovery, that I am rejoiced to see your handwriting, but always afraid that your own health will suffer by gratifying the affectionate curiosity of your friends.

The Whigs and Democrats are full of a notion that O’Connell is not to be punished; that the Government, yielding, to the opinion that his trial has been unfair, are not to bring him up for judgment. I am not of this opinion. I think, unless their own law-officers were to tell them that this trial had been unfair, the Government are bound to deal with O’Connell as they would with any one else; and I believe they will do so. I have heard some of our English judges say his sentence ought to be for two years. As for the danger of shutting him up, if you cannot do that, then there is a civil war; and the sooner it is fought out, the better.

God bless you, dear Lady Grey! Kindest regards to my Lord.

Sydney Smith.

543.] To the Countess Grey.
No date.
My dear Lady Grey,

I am beginning Burke’s Letters, or rather, have gone through one volume; full of details which do not interest me, and there are no signs yet of that beautiful and fruitful imagination which is the great charm of Burke. With the politics of so remote a period I do not concern myself.

The weather is improved here, and the harvest is got in; and a very good harvest it is.

I hope Lord Grey observes the ministerial relaxations towards the Catholics. It is a very difficult question to know what to do with O’Connell. The only question is, the pacification of Ireland, and the effect that his detention or liberation would produce upon that country. All private pique and anger must be swallowed up in this paramount object. Lord Heytesbury is a man of good sense. I have no fear of a French war as long as Louis Philippe is alive; and live he will, for they cannot hit him, and seem to have left off shooting at him in despair. After that, nothing but nonsense and folly; but before then, I shall probably be dead myself.

You talk of your climate: I dare say it has its evils, but nothing so bad as the enervating character of this. It would unstring the nerves of a giant, and demoralize the soul of Cato. We have just sent off a cargo of London people, who have been staying here three weeks. They say that all their principles and virtues are gone! My kindest regards to your noble patient.

Sydney Smith.

544.] To Miss G. Harcourt.
Combe Florey, 1844.
My dear Georgiana,

I set off in despair of reaching home, but, on the contrary, Mrs. Sydney got better every scream of the railroad, and is now considerably improved. Many thanks for your kind and friendly inquiries. I was confined three days in London waiting for Mrs. Sydney’s recovery: they seemed months. Nothing can exceed the beauty of the country; I am forced to own that.

I have been reading Arnold’s Life, by Stanley. Arnold seems to have been a very pious, honest, learned, and original man.

I hope the Archbishop has resumed the use of his legs; for if an archbishop be a pillar of the Church, and the pillar cannot stand, what becomes of the incumbent weight? And neither of us, dear Georgiana, would consent to survive the ruin of the Church. You would plunge a poisoned pin into your heart, and I should swallow the leaf of a sermon dipped in hydrocyanic acid. —— would probably rejoice in the loss of us both, for in her Church the greater the misery, the greater the happiness; they rejoice in woe, and wallow in dolours.

Be a good girl, and write me a line every now and then, to tell me about my old friends; and believe me to be always your affectionate friend,

S. S.

545.] To the Countess Grey.
Green-street, Grosvenor-square,
27th, 1844.
My dear Lady Grey,

I think Channing an admirable writer. So much sense and eloquence! such a command of language! Yet admirable as his sermon on war is, I have the vanity to think my own equally good, quite as sensible, quite as eloquent, as full of good principle and fine language; and you will be the more inclined to agree with me in this comparison, when I tell you that I preached in St. Paul’s the identical sermon which Lord Grey so much admires. I thought I could not write anything half so good, so I preached Channing.

You can hardly expect to go on straightforward in recovering; sometimes you will stop, sometimes recover twice as much in one week as you have done in three weeks preceding. If this day is with you as it is with us, it ought to be the first of going out. It is real Spring.

What an odd state politics are in! It is not at all impossible that Ministers will go out. God bless you, dear Lady Grey!

Sydney Smith.

546.] To the Countess Grey.
No date.
My dear Lady Grey,

Your account seems good of Lord Grey. I envy him the taste of fresh air after such a long confinement, to say nothing of the fine feeling which cessation from pain produces; not that I would be ill, but
that I consider these feelings as some little abatement of evil.

The Government are to have this year, I understand, a very splendid budget; but obtained, of course, by the pernicious auxiliary of the Income Tax.

What a singular event,—these divisions upon the working hours of the common people! The protection of children is perhaps right; but everything beyond is mischief and folly. It is generally believed, that if the Ten Hours Bill is carried, Government will resign. I am a decided duodecimalist. —— is losing his head. When he brings forward his Suckling Act, he will be considered as quite mad. No woman to be allowed to suckle her own child without medical certificates. Three classes—viz. free sucklers, half sucklers, and spoon-meat mothers. Mothers whose supply is uncertain, to suckle upon affidavit! How is it possible that an Act of Parliament can supply the place of nature and natural affection? Have you any nonsense equal to this in Northumberland?

I think I could write a good sermon against war, but I doubt if I shall preach any more. It makes me ill; I get violently excited, and tire myself to death.

—— is gone to Paris. He made a sensation at the Drawing-room, by asking the Queen, at some length, if he could take parcels or letters for her!

I have some thoughts of going to Brighton tomorrow, but I believe indolence will prevail. I pray for fine weather for Lord Grey. It will be his cure when it does come.

God bless you!
S. S.

547.] To the Countess Grey.
April 22nd, 1844.

I hear from all quarters, dear Lady Grey, that Lord Grey is going on as well as possible; that is, that he is keeping pace with my hopes and wishes. Has Lord Grey read the Edinburgh Review? The article on Barrère is by Macaulay, that upon Lord St. Vincent by Barrow. I think the latter very entertaining; but it was hardly worth while to crucify Barrère: Macaulay might as well have selected Turpin.

I have no news to tell you. It is generally thought the Duke of Wellington has been unguarded about the Directors. Peel’s Bank plan is admired and approved; so is the appointment of Hardinge.

God bless you, dear Lady Grey!

Yours affectionately,
Sydney Smith.

548.] To the Countess Grey.
May 29th, 1844.
My dear Lady Grey,

I am afraid you are not going on so well as heretofore, and I am almost afraid to ask you your present condition: therefore do as you are inclined, and if to send me such news as you have to send gives you pain, do not send it.

Mrs. Sydney had a sharp attack of pain yesterday, which prevented us from going to Lady Essex’s play, which has been acted with universal approbation in Belgrave-square. I was very glad not to be there, as I am sure I should have been tired to death. If real
actors cannot amuse me, how should pretended actors do so? Can mock-turtle please where real turtle is disliked?

I think we now have O’Connell safe between walls. I look upon his punishment as one of the most useful events which have taken place in my time. It vindicates the law, shows the subject that the Government is not to be braved, and puts an end for many years to the blustering and bullying of Ireland. Their perseverance is creditable to Ministers. There was, my dear Lady Grey, a serious intention to go out; but it was too ridiculous.

I am inclined to think you are going on tolerably well, for I ask everybody who is likely to know, and make out the best account I can; but your own case puzzles me.

I am going to dine with —— today. The rumour increases of her having murdered Dr. ——. The question is, Where is he? What was that large box taken away at two in the morning?

Read Arnold’s Life, by Stanley, and Twiss’s Life of Lord Eldon. The latter is not badly done, and I think it would much amuse Lord Grey, as it is the history almost of his times. Lord Eldon was the bigoted enemy of every sort of improvement; and retarded, by his influence, for more than twenty-five years, those changes which the state of the country absolutely required. Ever affectionately yours,

Sydney Smith.

549.] To M. Eugene Robin*
Paris, June 29th, 1844.

Your application to me does me honour, and requires, on your part, no sort of apology.

It is scarcely possible to speak much of self, and I have little or nothing to tell which has not been told before in my preface.

I am seventy-four years of age; and being Canon of St. Paul’s in London, and a rector of a parish in the country, my time is divided equally between town and country. I am living amongst the best society in the Metropolis, and at ease in my circumstances; in tolerable health, a mild Whig, a tolerating Churchman, and much given to talking, laughing, and noise. I dine with the rich in London, and physic the poor in the country; passing from the sauces of Dives to the sores of Lazarus. I am, upon the whole, a happy man; have found the world an entertaining world, and am thankful to Providence for the part allotted to me in it. If you wish to become more informed respecting the actor himself, I must refer you to my friend Van de Weyer, who knows me well, and is able (if he will condescend to do so) to point out the good and the evil within me. If you come to London, I hope you will call on me, and enable me to make your acquaintance; and in the meantime I beg you to accept every assurance of my consideration and respect.

Sydney Smith.

* M. Eugene Robin had made an application to Mr. Sydney Smith, through Mr. Van de Weyer, for some particulars of his life, of which he wished to give a sketch in the ‘Revue des Deux Mondes.’

550.] To his Excellency M. Van de Weyer.
Combe Florey, July 31st, 1844.
Dear Van de Weyer,

Have not some letters been published in modern times, containing the remonstrances of Alva to Philip, and of Philip to Alva, against the cruelties practised by the Spaniards in the Low Countries, and recommending milder measures? and if so, pray tell me in what book such letters are to be found. Have you seen a History of Holland, in three volumes, by a Mrs. Davis, published by Walton, Strand; or heard any character of it?

How do you do, and all the family? Will you come to the West,—I mean to Combe Florey,—in the month of August? and what day? Will you believe me (as you safely may) yours sincerely?

Sydney Smith.

551.] To Mrs. Grote.
Combe Florey, July, 1844.
Dear Mrs. Grote,
* * * * *

Our squire died the very day we came home. Do you want any land?

I have been reading the Life of Arnold of Rugby, who seems to be a learned, pure, and honest Liberal; and with much zeal and unaffected piety. From this I proceeded to the life of the most heartless, bigoted, and mischievous of human beings, who passed a long life in perpetuating all sorts of abuses, and in making money by them.


I am afraid this country does look enchantingly beautiful; you know the power truth has over me. There is nothing new,—I will not say under the sun, for we have no sun in England,—but under the fogs and clouds. The best thing I have seen for some time is the declaration of the Government, of their good intentions towards the Roman Catholics.

I am not expecting any particular person, but generally, all mankind and womankind. * * *

Yours affectionately,
Sydney Smith.

552.] To the Countess of Carlisle.
Combe Florey, August, 1844.
My dear Lady Carlisle,

I have been leading a very musical life lately. There is an excellent musical family living in London; and finding them all ill, and singing flat, I brought them down here for three weeks, where they have grown extremely corpulent, and have returned to London, with no other wish than to be transported after this life to this paradise of Combe Florey. Their singing is certainly very remarkable, and the little boy, at the age of seven, composes hymns; I mean, sets them to music. I have always said that if I were to begin life again, I would dedicate it to music; it is the only cheap and unpunished rapture upon earth.

—— —— has not yet signified her intentions under the sign manual; but a thousand rumours reach me, and my firm belief is, she will come. I have spoken to the sheriff, and mentioned it to the magistrates. They have agreed to address her; and she is
to be escorted from the station by the yeomanry. The clergy are rather backward; but I think that, after a little bashfulness, they will wait upon her.
Brunel, assisted by the ablest philosophers, is to accompany her upon the railroad; and they have been so good as to say that the steam shall be generated from soft water, with a slight infusion of chamomile flowers.

I am glad to see that Sir Robert Peel is softening a little towards the Catholics. That is the great point, in comparison of which Pomaré and Morocco are nothing.

I think we shall go for some days to the sea-side. I wish we could find such an invigorating air as you have at Scarborough; but our atmosphere is soft, demoralizing, and debilitating. All love of duty, all sense of propriety, are extinguished in these enervating climates. The only one of my Yorkshire virtues which I retain, is a sincere regard for Castle Howard and its inhabitants; to whom health and prosperity, and every earthly blessing! From your obliged and sincere friend,

Sydney Smith.

553.] To Dr. Holland.
Combe Florey, August, 1844.
My dear Holland,

I ought to have answered your letter before, but I have been so strenuously employed in doing nothing, that I have not had time to do so. Whatever Mrs. Sydney may say of herself, I think she is very languid from her late attack in London, and that she needs the sea-side; and there I mean to go for some
Jeffrey is under the care of a committee, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Empson, his wife, the footman, and a Highland nurse, and they report to his admirers, consisting of several scores of young ladies, and others well advanced in years; it is a science by itself, the management of that little man, and I am afraid, unless you could affect all the committee simultaneously with the principal, your science would be in vain.

I hope you will have good weather for your journey. Beg of all your party, when they come in at night, fatigued, hungry, and exhausted, to sit down and write their journals, but not to show them to me. I keep clear of gout, but always imagine I am going off in an apoplexy or palsy, and that the death-warrant is come down. I saw the other day, in midday, a ball of fire, with a tail as long as the garden, rush across the heavens, and descend towards the earth; that it had some allusion to me and my affairs I did not doubt, but could not tell what, till I found the cow had slipped her calf: this made all clear.

Ever yours affectionately,
Sydney Smith.

554.] To the Countess Grey.
Combe Florey, Aug. 20th, 1844.
My dear Lady Grey,

I don’t hear a word about the war, but your correspondents are much more likely to be well-informed upon this point than mine. There are not two more intelligent men in the kingdom than Wood and
Howick; and they write from the great news-market. I mean to go, on Tuesday, 27th, to the sea-side, at Sidmouth, with Mrs. Sydney, there to stay some days. It is exactly a place to suit you to winter in; so warm, beautiful, and sheltered;—and very good houses for nothing.

I am thinking of writing a pamphlet to urge the necessity of paying the Catholic clergy; but the ideas are all so trite, and the arguments so plain and easy, that I gape at the thoughts of such a production. Lord Grey can have no doubt of the wisdom of paying the Catholic clergy. I should like very much to go to Ireland for a fortnight; I am sure I could learn a great deal in that time; but the indolence, the timidity, and the uncertain health of old-age keep me at home.

Don’t talk of giving up the world,—we shall all meet again in Berkeley-square. Lady Georgiana will play the harp, the physician will sing, —— will look melancholy, and Lady Caroline will be making shrewd remarks to herself; I shall be all that is orthodox and proper; Lord Grey will be inclined to laugh.

God bless you, dear Lady Grey!

S. S.

555.] To the Countess of Carlisle.
Combe Florey, Aug. 25th, 1844.
My dear Lady Carlisle,

I think the enclosed will amuse Lord Carlisle. Mr. Wainwright* is known to Morpeth, as well as to my

* A distinguished minister of the Episcopalian Church, United States, since dead.

self, and is a most amiable clergyman, who paid a visit to this country two or three years since.

The fact is unknown to any of his congregation, but when in this country, he went once to the Opera, and supped with Lord Lyndhurst afterwards. In private, he often wore a short cassock, like a bishop’s, and looked at himself for a long time in the glass. He carried over one of these cassocks to America, that Mrs. Wainwright might see him in it.

We are going for a week to Sidmouth, that paradise of the waves.

Sydney Smith.

556.] To the Countess of Carlisle.
No date.
My dear Lady Carlisle.

Do not let Morpeth persuade you that Alexis is anything but an impostor. There seems to be something missing in London; and I find, upon reflection, it is Lord Carlisle and yourself.

The Archbishop of York is laid up with a sprained ankle; sprained at a christening! How very singular! It is such a quiescent ceremony, that I thought I might have guaranteed at its celebration all the ligaments of the human body. He is never a moment without a bishop or a dowager duchess coming to call.

What shall I say of my unworthy self, but that I am well, rich, and tolerably healthy? Mrs. Sydney has no great illness, though much malaise. I hear that Lord Carlisle is wheeled down to the gallery, and gets a little fresh air at the door. I know all the locale so well that I see him in his transit, and he takes with him my best and kindest wishes wherever he goes.


Sir Robert Peel and I have made friends; and so you will say, dear Lady Carlisle, that I want to be a bishop. But I thank God often that I am not a bishop; and I want nothing in this world but the friendship and goodwill of such good persons as yourself.

Alas! how short is a sheet of paper! What remains must convey my affection and respect to my excellent friends at Castle Howard. And may God bless them!

Sydney Smith.

557.] To the Countess Grey.
Sidmouth, Aug. 29th, 1844.
My dear Lady Grey,

I think I shall turn out to be right, and that there will be no war immediately. What the scramble for the fragments of the Mahometan empire may produce ultimately in the Mediterranean, I know not; but I would lay a wager we are not at war before Christmas. I offer you a bet of five shillings to that effect; if you think this venture indiscreetly large, Georgiana will, 1 dare say, take half.

We are at Sidmouth. It is extremely beautiful, but quite deserted. I have nothing to do but to look out of window, and am ennuied. The events which have turned up are, a dog and a monkey for a show, and a morning concert; and I rather think we shall have an invitation to tea. I say to every one who sits near me on the marine benches, that it is a fine day, and that the prospect is beautiful; but we get no further. I can get no water out of a dry rock.

There arrived, the other day, at New York, a Syd-
ney Smith.* A meeting was called, and it was proposed to tar-and-feather him; but the amendment was carried, that he should be invited to a public dinner. He turned out to be a journeyman cooper! My informant encloses for me an invitation from the
bishop of the diocese to come and see him, and a proposition that we should travel together to the Falls of Niagara!

Ever, dear Lady Grey, affectionately yours,
Sydney Smith.

558.] To the Countess Grey.
No date.

I should say, my dear Lady Grey, that, upon the whole, the O’Connell business has not ended unfavourably. The Government has not done anything shabby or timid, but, on the contrary, has acted with spirit. They have been badly served by their law-servants, but that is not their fault. The evil will not end, nor the business be settled, without a battle.

Read travels in the East, called ‘Eothen.’ They are by a Mr. Kinglake, of Taunton, a chancery barrister, and are written in a lively manner. They will amuse Lord Grey, who, I presume, is read to regularly every day.

God bless you, dear Lady Grey! Kind regards to Lord Grey, of whom I am in weekly hopes of receiving a better account.

Sydney Smith.

* See Memoir, page 306.

559.] To His Excellency M. Van De Weyer.
Combe Florey, Sept. 17th, 1844.
Dear Van de Weyer,

Many thanks for your proffered loan of the book from which you took the letters you were so good as to send me, of Alva and Philip; but as I never return books, I make a rule never to borrow them. I shall send the title of the work you have been so kind as to mention to my authoress, and of course there can be no objection to her printing a quotation from the printed work. I have not mentioned your name. I shall not trouble you for any further information on this topic, because I must extricate myself from this lady, who (though clever, and in a situation perfectly independent) I am afraid will bore me. You have so recently suffered this alarm from me, that you will, I am sure, understand how I should fall into similar apprehensions.

I am very sorry you have been and are unwell; you have had too much to do. I am (in common with many other gentlemen in orders) suffering from the very opposite cause.

Rumours of wars reach me on every side; my only confidence is, that the Governments on both sides of the water wish for peace.

We are expecting Mrs. —— ——, who perhaps has never occurred to you in a rural point of view.

I remain, my dear Sir, very truly yours,
Sydney Smith.

560.] To the Countess Grey.
Combe Florey, Sept. 25th, 1844.
My dear Lady Grey,

Lord Grey understands these matters better than I do, but I do not see how the reversal of O’Connell’s sentence can injure, morally, the House of Lords. It was (I have no doubt) the honest decision of the majority of those who, from their legal habits, and attention to the case, had a right to decide; and that the lay Lords abstained from voting was surely an act of honesty. It shows, however, the absurd constitution of a court of justice, where ninety-nine of the hundred judges are utterly incapable of forming any just opinion of the subject.

I mean to write a pamphlet upon the payment of the Catholic and Presbyterian clergy in Ireland; the honest payment—without any attempt to gain power over them. Their refusal to take it is no conclusive objection, and they would take it a poco a poco, if it were honestly given. We must have a regular Ambassador residing at the Court of Rome; patronage must be divided with an even hand between Catholic and Protestant; all their alleged wrongs about land must be impartially examined, and, if just, be speedily redressed; a large army be kept ready for immediate action, and the law be put in force against O’Connell and O’Connellism, in spite of all previous failures. Will Lord Grey or Howick dissent from these obvious principles?

Adieu, dear Lady Grey!

Sydney Smith.

561.] To the Countess Grey.
Combe Florey, Oct. 5th, 1844.
My dear Lady Grey,

I had a smart attack of giddiness on Tuesday, which alarmed me a good deal. The doctor said it was stomach, and has put me under the most rigid rules; I will try to follow them.

I think ‘Ireland and its Leaders’ worth reading, and beg of you to tell me who wrote it, if you happen to know; for though you call yourself solitary, you live much more in the world than I do, while in the country.

Have you noticed the abuse of St. Paul’s in the ‘Times’? I was moved to write, but I kept silence, though it was pain and grief to me. Read Captain Marryat’sSettlers in Canada.’

Sydney Smith.

562.] To the Countess Grey.
Combe Florey, Oct. 11th, 1844.
My dear Lady Grey,

I rather think that last week they wanted to kill me, but I was too sharp for them. I am now tolerably well, but I am weak, and taking all proper care of myself; which care consists in eating nothing that I like, and doing nothing that I wish. I sent you yesterday the triumph of a fellow-sufferer with Lord Grey. Tell me fairly the effect such a narrative produces upon him. The greatest consolation to me is, to find that others are suffering as much as I do. I would not inflict suffering upon them; I would contribute actively
to prevent it; but if it do come after this, I must confess * * * * *

Always affectionately yours,
Sydney Smith.

I shall be in London the 22nd and 25th.

See what rural life is:—

Combe Florey Gazette.

Mr. Smith’s large red cow is expected to calve this week.

Mr. Gibbs has bought Mr. Smith’s lame mare.

It rained yesterday, and, a correspondent observes, is not unlikely to rain today.

Mr. Smith is better.

Mrs. Smith is indisposed.

A nest of black magpies was found near the village yesterday.

563.] To Dr. Holland.
Combe Florey, October, 1844.
My dear Holland,

I cannot let this post pass over without thanking you for one of the very best letters I ever read, to say nothing of its great kindness. It is a tolerably good day with me today; Lyddon says my pulse is better, but I am very weak; I think also my breathing is better. I rather lean to coming up to London.

Yours affectionately,
Sydney Smith.

564.] To Dr. Holland.
Combe Florey, 1844.
Scale of Dining.
Roast and boiled.

Dear Holland—I am only at broth at present, but Lyddon thinks I shall get to pudding to-morrow, and mutton-chops the next day. I long for promotion.

Yours affectionately,
Sydney Smith.
565.] To the Countess of Carlisle.
56 Green Street, Oct. 21st, 1844.
My Dear Lady Carlisle,

From your ancient goodness to me, I am sure you will be glad to receive a bulletin from myself, informing you that I am making a good progress; in fact, I am in a regular train of promotion: from gruel, vermicelli, and sago, I was promoted to panada, from thence to minced meat, and (such is the effect of good conduct) I was elevated to a mutton-chop. My breathlessness and giddiness are gone—chased away by the gout. If you hear of sixteen or eighteen pounds of human flesh, they belong to me. I look as if a curate had been taken out of me. I am delighted to hear such improved accounts of my fellow-sufferer at Castle
Lady —— is severe in her medical questions; but I detail the most horrible symptoms, at which she takes flight.

Accept, my dear Lady Carlisle, my best wishes for Lord Carlisle and all the family.

Sydney Smith.

566.] To the Countess Grey.
56 Green Street, Nov. 7th, 1844.
My Dear Lady Grey,

I have been seriously ill, and I do not think I am yet quite “clear of the wood,” but am certainly a good deal better. My complaints have been giddiness, breathlessness, and weakness of the digestive organs. I believe I acted wisely in setting off for London on the first attack; it has secured for me the proximity and best attentions of Dr. Holland, and the use of a comfortable house, where a suite of rooms are perfectly fitted up for illness and death.

I have a great notion you can send me better accounts of Lord Grey; pray do, and give him my earnest and sincere regard.

Sydney Smith.