LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Letters 1822

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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205.] To Francis Jeffrey, Esq.
March 17th, 1822.
My dear Jeffrey,

I had written three parts in four of the review I promised you of Miss Wright’s book on America, and could have put it in your hands ten days since; but your letter restricts me so on the subject of raillery, that I find it impossible to comply with your conditions. There are many passages in my review which would make the Americans very angry, and—which is more to my immediate purpose—make you very loath to publish it; and therefore, to avoid putting you in the awkward predicament of printing what you disapprove, or disappointing me, I withdraw my pretensions. I admire the Americans, and in treating of America, should praise her great institutions, and laugh at her little defects. The reasons for your extreme prudery I do not understand, nor is it necessary I should do so. I am satisfied that you are a good pilot of our literary vessel, and give you credit when I do not perceive your motives.

I am at York. Brougham is here; I have not seen him yet. Your affectionate friend,

Sydney Smith.

206.] To Mrs. Meynell.
London, May 10th, 1822.
Dear Mrs. Meynell,

I have got into all my London feelings, which come on the moment I pass Hyde-park Corner. I am languid, unfriendly, heartless, selfish, sarcastic, and inso-
lent. Forgive me, thou inhabitant of the plains, child of nature, rural woman, agricultural female! Remember what you were in Hill-street, and pardon the vices inevitable in the greatest of cities.

They take me here for an ancient country clergyman, and think I cannot see!! . . . How little they know your sincere and affectionate friend,

Sydney Smith.

207.] To Francis Jeffrey, Esq.
Foston, June 22nd, 1822.
My dear Jeffrey,

I understand from your letter that there only remains the time between this and the 12th of July for your stay in Edinburgh, and that then you go north; this puts a visit out of the question at present. I think, when I do come, I shall come alone: I should be glad to show Saba a little of the world, in the gay time of Edinburgh; but this is much too serious a tax upon your hospitality, and upon Mrs. Jeffrey’s time and health; and so there is an end of that plan. As for myself, I have such a dislike to say No, to anybody who does me the real pleasure and favour of asking me to come and see him, that I assent, when I know that I am not quite sure of being able to carry my good intentions into execution; and so I am considered uncertain and capricious, when I really ought to be called friendly and benevolent. I will mend my manners in future, and be very cautious in making engagements. The first use I make of my new virtue is to say that I will, from time to time, come and see you in Edinburgh; but these things cannot be very fre-
quent, on account of expense, visits to London (where all my relations live), the injustice of being long away from my parish and family, my education of one of my sons here, and the penalties of the law. At the same time, I can see no reason why you do not bring Mrs. Jeffrey and your
child, and pay us a visit in the long vacation. We have a large house and a large farm, and I need not say how truly happy we shall be to see you. I think you ought to do this.

Pray say, with my kind regards to Thomson, that I find it absolutely impossible to write such a review on the Cow-Pox as will satisfy either him or myself for this number. I will write a review for the next, if so please him; what sort of one it may be, the gods only know. I will write a line to Thomson. I will send you the Bishop if I can get him ready; if not, certainly for the next number, I never break my word about reviews, except when I am in London. Pray forgive me; I am sure your readers will.

I read Cockburn’s speech with great pleasure. I admire, in the strongest manner, the conduct of the many upright and patriotic lawyers now at the Scotch bar, and think it a great privilege to call many of them friends; such a spectacle refreshes me in the rattery and scoundrelism of public life.

Allen and Fox stopped here for a day. My country neighbours had no idea who they were; I passed off Allen as the commentator on the Book of Martyrs.

Ever affectionately yours,
Sydney Smith.

208.] To Lady Mary Bennett.
Foston, August, 1822.
Dear Lady Mary,

Many thanks for the venison, and say, if you please, what ought to be said to my Lord. It was excellent. I shall make a bow to Chillingham as I pass it on the stage-coach on my way to Scotland, where I am going to see my friend Jeffrey.

I have had a great run of philosophers this summer;—Dr. and Mrs. Marcet, Sir Humphry Davy and Mr. Warburton, and divers small mineralogists and chemists. Sir Humphry Davy was really very agreeable,—neither witty, eloquent, nor sublime: but reasonable and instructive.

I remember the laughing we had together at C—— House; and I thank God, who has made me poor, that he has made me merry. I think it a better gift than much wheat and bean land, with a doleful heart.

I am truly rejoiced at the recovery of Duke John; he is an honest, excellent person, full of good feelings and right opinions, and moreover a hearty laugher. I am glad to hear of the marriage of Mr. Russell with Miss ——. The manufacture of Russells is a public and important concern. Adieu!

Affectionately yours,
Sydney Smith.

209.] To Lady Mary Bennett.
Foston, Nov. 1st, 1822.
My dear Lady Mary,

You will be sorry to hear that Douglas has had bad
health ever since he went to Westminster, and has been taken thence to be nursed in a typhus fever, from which he is slowly recovering.
Mrs. Sydney set off for London last week, and is likely to remain there some time; I find the state of a widower a very wretched one.

Lady —— is unwell, and expects to be confined in February. The public is indebted to every lady of fashion who brings a fresh Whig into the world.

It is a long time since you wrote to me; the process by which I discover this is amusing enough. I feel uneasy and dissatisfied; the turnips are white and globular—no blame imputable to the farm—no Dissenters, no Methodists in the parish—all right with the Church of England; and after a few minutes’ reflection, I discover what it is I want, and seize upon it as the sick dog does upon the proper herb.

* * * * *

I know —— never spares me, but that is no reason why I should not spare him; I had rather be the ox than the butcher.

Write to me immediately: I feel it necessary to my constitution; and I am, dear Lady,

Your affectionate friend,
Sydney Smith.

210.] To Mrs. Meynell.
November, 1822.
My dear Mrs. Meynell,

I think Adam Blair beautifully done—quite beautifully. It is not every lady who confesses she reads it; but if you had been silent upon the subject, or even
if you had denied it, you would have done yourself very little good with me.

Our house is full of company: Miss Fox and Miss Vernon; Mr. and Mrs. Spottiswode, with their children; and Captain Gordon, an old and esteemed friend of mine.

I hear from all your neighbours that you are much liked, but that they should not have supposed you had written so many articles in the Edinburgh Review as you are known to have done.

God bless you, my dear friend! Keep for me always a little corner of regard.

Sydney Smith.

211.] To Lady Mary Bennett.
My dear Lady Mary,

I shall be obliged to you to procure for me Mr. Rogers’s verses upon the Temple of the Graces at Woburn: I thought them very pretty, and should be glad to possess them.

Lord and Lady Granville have been staying at Castle Howard, where we met them. Whatever other merits they have, they have at least that of being extremely civil and well-bred; good qualities which, being put into action every day, make a great mass of merit in the course of life.

I am glad you liked what I said of Mrs. Fry. She is very unpopular with the clergy: examples of living, active virtue disturb our repose, and give birth to distressing comparisons: we long to burn her alive.


Who knows his secret sins? I find, upon reference to Collins’s Peerage, I have been in the habit for some months past of mis-spelling Lord Tankerville’s name; and you have left me in this state of ignorance and imperfection, from which I was awakened by a loud scream from Mrs. Sydney, who cast her eye upon the direction of the letter, and saw the habitual sin of which I have been guilty.

On account of the scarcity of water, many respectable families in this part of the world wash their faces only every other day. It is a real distress, and increasing rather than diminishing. God bless you!

Your sincere friend,
Sydney Smith.

212.] To Lady Mary Bennett.
No date.
My dear friend,

I am not in London, but on my way to it, at Holland House. The person taken for me is a very fat clergyman, but not I. So singular a letter as yours I never saw. You say, “I shall be on the banks of the Thames till Tuesday, after that at C—— House, but before Tuesday you will find me at the Privy Gardens.” Can you thus multiply yourself? If you can, pray let me have a copy of you at Poston; and pray, dear Lady Mary, let it be well done, and very much like the original; not a hasty sketch, but minute;—and take no liberties with the pencil. The great merit of a copy is fidelity.


I should have been glad to renew my acquaintance with the Edgeworths.

Sydney Smith.

213.] To Lady Mary Bennett.
No date.
My dear Lady Mary,

Having written what I had to write on Small Pox and the Bishop of Peterborough, I wish to discuss Mr. Biggs’s Report of Botany Bay. Mr. Bennett was so good as to offer me the loan of his Report; if he remains in the same gracious intentions toward me, will you have the goodness to desire him to send it by return of post?

I have been making a long visit to my friends in the neighbourhood of Manchester. Their wealth and prosperity know no bounds: I do not mean only the Philippi, but of all who ply the loom. They talk of raising corps of manufacturers to keep the country gentlemen in order, and to restrain the present Jacobinism of the plough; the Royal Corduroys—the First Regiment of Fustian—the Bombazine Brigade, etc. etc.

I have given the Bishop of Peterborough a good dressing. What right has anybody to ask anybody eighty-seven questions? and tell me (this is only one question) what agreeable books I am to read. I hear of a great deal of ruin in distant counties; there is none here, but then the soil is good.

Your sincere friend,
Sydney Smith.

214.] To Lady Wenlock.
Foston, Dec. 11th, 1822.
My dear Madam,

We will keep ourselves clear of all engagements the first week of the new year, and in readiness to obey your summons for any day of it. I care not whom I meet, provided it is not Sir ——, and to invite any body to meet him would be a very strong measure. Sir William and Lady Gordon are very agreeable people, and indeed I should be ashamed of myself if I were not a good deal captivated by her; but upon that point I have nothing to reproach myself with. Lewis, I suppose, was hastening on to the Treasury, with the accumulation of guilty jobs that he had discovered in Scotland; he will make a very faithful servant to the public for two or three years, beyond which period it would be a little unreasonable perhaps to expect the duration of his public virtues.

I remain, my dear Madam, very truly yours,

Sydney Smith.