LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Letters 1828

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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270.] To the Countess Grey.
Foston, Jan. 4th, 1828.

We were married on New Year’s Day,* and are gone! I feel as if I had lost a limb, and were walking about with one leg,—and nobody pities this description of invalids. How many amputations you have suffered! Ere long, I do not think you will have a leg to stand on.

Kind regards to my Lord and my friends your daughters; as many years to you all as you wish for yourselves.

Your affectionate friend,
Sydney Smith.

271.] From Lady Lyndhurst.
George-street, Jan. 24th, 1828.
My dear Mr. Smith,

My husband has just informed me that he has nominated you to a vacant stall at Bristol; and he was willing that I should have the pleasure of first communicating to you this good news. I need not say

* Marriage of his youngest daughter to N. Hibbert, Esq.

now much it has delighted me. Pray have the goodness to write and inform me how you and
Mrs. Sydney are, and where your new-married daughter is. Best regards to all you love. Ever yours,

S. G. Lyndhurst.

272.] To Lady Holland.
Bristol, Feb. 17th, 1828.
My dear Lady Holland,

An extremely comfortable Prebendal house; seven-stall stables and room for four carriages, so that I can hold all your cortége when you come; looks to the south, and is perfectly snug and parsonic; masts of West-Indiamen seen from the windows. The colleagues I have found here are a Mr. Ridley, cousin to Sir Matthew; a very good-natured, agreeable man;—deaf, tottering, worldly-minded, vain as a lawyer, noisy, and perfectly good-natured and obliging. The little Dean I have not seen; he is as small as the Bishop, they say. It is supposed that the one of these ecclesiastics elevated upon the shoulders of the other, would fall short of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s wig. The Archbishop of York is forced to go down on his knees to converse with the Bishop of Bristol, just as an elephant kneels to receive its rider.

I have lived in perfect solitude ever since I have been here, but am perfectly happy. The novelty of this place amuses me.

It seems to me that Lord Wellington has made a great mistake in not putting a perfectly independent man, or an apparently independent man, over the
army. The cry against a military governor will now be very loud.

Your sincere and affectionate friend,
Sydney Smith.

273.] To Lord Holland.
Foston, July, 1828.
My dear Lord Holland,

I hear with great concern of your protracted illness. I would bear the pain for you for a fortnight if I were allowed to roar, for I cannot bear pain in silence and dignity.

I have suffered no damage in corn nor hay. Several Dissenters have suffered in our neighbourhood. Pecchio’s marriage goes on well. The lawyers are busy on the settlements. I cannot say how happy it makes me to see in port a man so clever, so honourable, and so unfortunate. I go to Bristol the middle of September, calling in my way on the two Lytteltons, Abercrombie, Meynell, and (but do not tell Whishaw) Lord Bathurst.

I am reading Walter Scott’sNapoleon,’ which I do with the greatest pleasure. I am as much surprised at it, as at any of his works. So current, so sensible, animated, well-arranged: so agreeable to take up, so difficult to put down, and, for him, so candid! There are of course many mistakes, but that has nothing to do with the general complexion of the work.

I see the Duke of Bedford takes the chair for the Amelioration of the Jews. It would make me laugh to see that excellent Duke in the midst of the Ten Tribes, and I think he would laugh also. But what
will become of our trade of contending against religious persecution? Everybody will be emancipated before we die! I say our trade, for I have learnt it from you, and been your humble imitator.

God bless you, dear Lord Holland! There is nobody in the world has a greater affection for you than I have, or who hears with greater pain of your illness and confinement.

S. S.

274.] To Henry Howard, Esq.
Bristol, Aug. 28, 1828.
My dear Sir,

You will be amused by hearing that I am to preach the 5th of November sermon at Bristol, and to dine at the 5th of November dinner with the Mayor and Corporation of Bristol. All sorts of bad theology are preached at the Cathedral on that day, and all sorts of bad toasts drunk at the Mansion House. I will do neither the one nor the other, nor bow the knee in the house of Rimmon.

It would, I am sure, give Mrs. Sydney and myself great pleasure to pay you a visit in Cumberland, and one day or another it shall be done; but remember, the difference is, you pass near us in coming to London, and it must be by malice prepense if we come to you. I hope you have seen the Carlisles, because I wish you all sorts of happiness, and know none greater than the society of such enlightened, amiable, and dignified people. When does Philip come to see me? does he fear being converted to the Protestant faith? Brougham thinks the Catholic question as good as carried; but I never think myself as good as carried,
till my horse brings me to my stable-door! Still
Dawson’s conversion is portentous. Lady —— in former times insisted upon Lady Bessborough having a tooth out before she herself would venture:—probably Peel has made Dawson become a proselyte before him, in the same spirit. What am I to do with my time, or you with yours, after the Catholic question is carried?

Fine weather,—or, to speak more truly, dreadful heat;—both hay and corn without a drop of rain; while many Dissenters in the neighbourhood have lost their crops. I have read Knight’s pamphlet: pretty good, though I think, if I had seen as much, I could have told my story better;—but I am a conceited fellow. Still, whatever are my faults, I am, dear Mr. Howard, most truly yours,

Sydney Smith.

275.] To Lord Holland.
Bristol, Nov. 5th, 1828.
My dear Lord Holland,

Today I have preached an honest sermon (5th of November), before the Mayor and Corporation, in the Cathedral;—the most Protestant Corporation in England! They stared at me with all their eyes. Several of them could not keep the turtle on their stomachs. I know your taste for sermons is languid, but I must extract one passage for Lord Holland, to show that I am still as honest a man as when he first thought me a proper object for his patronage.

“I hope, in the condemnation of the Catholic religion, in which I sincerely join their worst enemies, I
shall not be so far mistaken as to have it supposed that I would convey the slightest approbation of any laws which disqualify and incapacitate any class of men for civil offices, on account of religious opinions. I consider all such laws as fatal and lamentable mistakes in legislation: they are the mistakes of troubled times and half-barbarous ages. All Europe is gradually emerging from their influence. This country has lately made a noble and successful effort for their abolition. In proportion as this example is followed, I firmly believe the enemies of the Church and State will be lessened, and the foundation of peace, order, and happiness will receive additional strength.

“I cannot discuss the uses and abuses of this day; but I should be beyond measure concerned if a condemnation of theological errors were construed into an approbation of laws so deeply marked by the spirit of intolerance.”

I have been reading the ‘Duke of Rovigo.’ A fool, a villain, and as dull as it is possible for any book to be about Buonaparte. Lord Bathurst’s place is ugly; his family and himself always agreeable. Believe me always very affectionately,

Sydney Smith.

276.] To John Murray, Esq.
November 28th, 1828.
My dear Murray,

Noble weather! I received some grouse in the summer, and upon the direction was marked W. M. This I construed to be William Murray, and wrote to thank him. This he must have taken as a foolish quiz,
or as a petition for game. Pray explain and put this right.

The Kent Meeting has, I think, failed as an example. This, and the three foolish noblemen’s letters, will do good. The failure of the Kent precedent I consider as of the utmost importance. The Duke keeps his secret. I certainly believe he meditates some improvement. I rather like his foreign politics, in opposition to the belligerent Quixotism of Canning. He has the strongest disposition to keep this country in profound peace, to let other nations scramble for freedom as they can, without making ourselves the liberty-mongers of all Europe; a very seductive trade, but too ruinous and expensive.

How is Jeffrey’s throat?—
That throat, so vex’d by cackle and by cup,
Where wine descends, and endless words come up.
Much injured organ! Constant is thy toil;
Spits turn to do thee harm, and coppers boil:
Passion and punch, and toasted cheese and paste,
And all that’s said and swallow’d, lay thee waste!

I have given notice to my tenant here, and mean to pass the winters at Bristol. I hope, as soon as you can afford it, you will give up the law. Why bore yourself with any profession, if you are rich enough to do without it? Ever yours, dear Murray,

Sydney Smith.

277.] To Lady Holland.
December, 1828.
My dear Lady Holland,

Many thanks for your kind anxiety respecting my health. I not only was never better, but never half
so well: indeed I find I have been very ill all my life, without knowing it. Let me state some of the goods arising from abstaining from all fermented liquors. First, sweet sleep; having never known what sweet sleep was, I sleep like a baby or a ploughboy. If I wake, no needless terrors, no black visions of life, but pleasing hopes and pleasing recollections: Holland House, past and to come! If I dream, it is not of lions and tigers, but of Easter dues and tithes. Secondly, I can take longer walks, and make greater exertions, without fatigue. My understanding is improved, and I comprehend Political Economy. I see better without wine and spectacles than when I used both. Only one evil ensues from it: I am in such extravagant spirits that I must lose blood, or look out for some one who will bore and depress me. Pray leave off wine:—the stomach quite at rest; no heartburn, no pain, no distension.

Bobus is more like a wrestler in the Olympic games than a victim of gout. I am glad —— is become so bold. How often have I conjured him to study indiscretion, and to do the rashest things that he could possibly imagine! With what sermons, and with what earnest regard, I have warned him against prudence and moderation! I begin to think I have not laboured in vain.

I disappear from the civilized world on Friday.

S. S.

278.] To Francis Jeffrey, Esq.
No date: about 1828 or 1829.
My dear Jeffrey,

I trust you and I hang together by other ties than
those of Master Critic and Journeyman ditto. At the same time, since I left your employment, you have not written a syllable to me.* I hope you will do so, for among all your friends you have none who have a more sincere regard or a higher admiration for you; and it would be wicked not to show these epistolary remembrances of each other.

I should be glad to know your opinion of the Corn Bill. I am an advocate for the principle, but would restrict the protection price to nine shillings instead of ten. The latter price is a protection to rents—not to agriculture. I confess I have not nerve enough for the stupendous revolution that the plan of growing our bread in France would produce. I should think it rash, and it certainly is unjust; because we are compelled to grow our lace, silk-goods, scissors, and ten thousand other things in England, by prohibitory duties on the similar productions of other countries. These views are probably weak, and I hold them by a slender thread, only till taught better; but I hold them.†

There is a great Peer in our neighbourhood, who gives me the run of his library while he is in town; and I am fetching up my arrears in books, which everybody (who reads at all) has read; among others, I stumbled upon the ‘Life of Kotzebue,’ or rather his year of exile, and read it with the greatest interest. It is a rapid succession of very striking events, told

* Mr. Sydney Smith ceased to write in the Edinburgh Review when he became a dignitary of the Church, towards the end of the year 1827.

Mr. Sydney Smith held them not long. He became an advocate, and a very earnest one, for Free Trade.—Note by Mrs. Sydney Smith.

with great force and simplicity. His display of sentiment seems natural to the man, foolish as it sometimes is. With
Madame de Staël’s Memoirs, so strongly praised by the excellent Baron Grimm, I was a good deal disappointed: she has nothing to tell, and docs not tell it very well. She is neither important, nor admirable for talents or virtues. I see your name mentioned among the writers in ‘Constable’s Encyclopædia;” pray tell me what articles you have written: I shall always read anything which you write. Is the work carried on well? The travels of the Gallo-American gentleman alluded to by Constable, are, I suppose, those of M. Simond. He is a very sensible man, and I should be curious to see the light in which this country appeared to him. I should think he would be too severe.

We are all perfectly well. I am busy at my little farm and cottage, which you gave me reason to believe Mrs. Jeffrey and yourself would visit. Pray remember me to Murray, and believe me ever, my dear Jeffrey, now, and years hence, when you are a judge, and the Review is gone to the dogs, your sincere and affectionate friend,

Sydney Smith.