LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Letters 1835

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
349.] To the Countess Grey.
18, Stratford-place, Jan. 14th, 1835.
My dear Lady Grey,

I believe the new Ministry are preparing some great
coup de théâtre, and that when the curtain draws up there will be seen, ready prepared,—Abolition of Pluralities, Commutation of Tithes, Provision for the Catholic Clergy, etc. Somebody asked
Peel the other day how the elections were going on. Peel said, “I know very little about them, and, in truth, I care little; we have such plans as I think will silence all opposition, or at least such as will conciliate all reasonable men.” Do not doubt that he said this.

I was last week on crutches with the gout, and it came into my eye; but by means of colchicum I can now see and walk. Of course I had the best advice. I write to you, not to make you write to me,—for what can you tell me, where you are, but that C——, of C——, is well or ill?—but because I am in London, and you are not. You may say that you are happy out of office, but I have great disbelief on this subject.

Sydney Smith.

350.] To Sir Wilmot Horton, Bart.
January 1835.
Dear Horton,*

It is impossible to say what the result of all these changes will be. I do not think there is any chance of the Tories being suffocated at the first moment by a denial of confidence; if the more heated Whigs were to attempt it, the more moderate ones would resist it. If I were forced to give an opinion, I should say Peel’s government would last through a session; and a session is, in the present state of politics, an eternity.

* Sir Wilmot Horton was at this time Governor of Ceylon.

But the remaining reforms, rule who may, must go on. The Trojans must put on the armour of the Greeks whom they have defeated.

Never was astonishment equal to that produced by the dismissal of the Whigs. I thought it better at first to ascertain whether the common laws of nature were suspended; and to put this to the test, I sowed a little mustard and cress seed, and waited in breathless anxiety the event. It came up. By little and little I perceived that, as far as the outward world was concerned, the dismissal of Lord Melbourne has not produced much effect.

I met T—— yesterday at Lady Williams’s, a sensible and very good-natured man, and so stout that I think there are few wild elephants who would care to meet him in the wood. I am turned a gouty old gentleman, and am afraid I shall not pass a green old age, but, on the contrary, a blue one; or rather, that I shall be spared the trouble of passing any old-age at all. Poor Malthus! everybody regrets him;—in science and in conduct equally a philosopher, one of the most practically wise men I ever met, shamefully mistaken and unjustly calumniated, and receiving no mark of favour from a Liberal Government, who ought to have interested themselves in the fortunes of such a virtuous martyr to truth.

I hope you will disorient yourself soon. The departure of the wise men from the East seems to have been on a more extensive scale than is generally supposed, for no one of that description seems to have been left behind. Come back to Europe, where only life is worth having, where that excellent man and governor, Lord Clare, is returning, and where so many
friends are waiting to receive you à bras ouverts,—among the rest the
Berries, whom I may call fully ripe at present, and who may, if your stay is protracted, pass that point of vegetable perfection, and exhibit some faint tendency to decomposition.

The idea lately was, that Lord —— would go to India, but they are afraid his religious scruples would interfere with the prejudices of the Hindoos. This may be so; but surely the moral purity of his life must have excited their admiration. I beg my kind (and an old parson may say) my affectionate regards to Lady Horton.

Yours, my dear Horton, very sincerely,
Sydney Smith.

351.] To the Countess Grey.
February 4th, 1835.

A few words to dear Lady Grey. Since —— has taken the field, both parties are become more bloody-minded, and a civil war is expected. The arch-Radicals allow a return of two hundred and sixty Tories, and count upon fifteen Stanleians. This was Warburton’s statement to me the other day. Tories claim more; but, by the admission of their greatest enemies, they are, you see, the strongest of the four parties in the House of Commons. I missed Howick’s speech. He is a very honest and clever man, and a valuable politician.

My daughter, Mrs. Holland, was confined three or four days ago of a little girl, and is doing very well. I am glad it is a girl; all little boys ought to be put to death.


Thank you for the speech. Very good and very honest. I agree with you entirely as to the difficulty of finding anybody in the relics of the Whigs fit to govern the country. —— and ——, who have every other qualification for governing, want that legion of devils in the interior, without whose aid mankind cannot be ruled.

I have no doubt whatever that Sir Robert Peel is sincere in his Church Reform. Bishops nearly equalized,—pluralities, canons, and prebendaries abolished,—tithes commuted,—and residence enforced. A much more severe bill than Whigs could have ventured upon.

Pray excuse my writing to you so often; but I am learning to write clear and straight, and it is necessary I should write a letter every day. I hear you are to be here by the end of the month. If you put it off for a week or two, you will perhaps not be here till the end of the Monarchy.

Your affectionate chaplain,
Sydney Smith.

352.] To Mrs. ——.
18, Stratford-place, Feb. 22nd, 1835.
Dear Mrs. ——,

Many thanks for your kind attention. I read half a volume last night;—but why dialogue? I thought that dialogue, allegory, and religious persecution were quite given up; and that mankind, in these points at least, had profited by experience.

I will tell you what I think of the authoress when
I have read her, which I will do soon,—not from supposing that you will be impatient for my opinions, but for your books; and yet I should not say this of you, for God has written, in a large hand, benevolence and kindness on your countenance.

Very truly yours,
Sydney Smith.

353.] To Lady Holland.
Combe Florey, May 14th, 1835.

My dear Lady Holland, I hope office agrees with you, and that office is likely to continue. I congratulate you sincerely on recovering the Duchy of Lancaster. We are sad Protestants in the West of England, and can on no account put up with the Pope. Johnny is lucky to have got away alive; he was to have come here if he had triumphed. It seems rather a ridiculous position of affairs, when neither of the Secretaries has a seat in Parliament.

You always accuse me of grumbling against my party. As a refutation of that calumny, I send you my declaration of faith. I will take good care you shall never make me a bishop; but if all your future Whig bishops would speak out as plainly, little Johns would not be driven away from large counties. Lord Melbourne always thinks that man best qualified for any office, of whom he has seen and known the least. Liberals of the eleventh hour abound! and there are some of the first hour, of whose works in the toil and heat of the day I have no recollection.

I cannot tell you the pleasure Morpeth’s success has
given to us here. The servants, who are all Yorkshire, and from the neighbourhood of Castle Howard, are in an ecstasy. It has saved dear
Lady Carlisle from a great deal of nervousness and mortification.

Lord Alvanley is equal to Britomart or Amadis de Gaul. I thank him, in the name of the fat men, for the noble stand he has made for circumference and diameter. Your sincere friend,

Sydney Smith.

Extract from the ‘Taunton Courier,‘ enclosed in the foregoing letter.
To Mr. Bunter.

You have done me the honour, in your own name and in that of your brother Requisitionists, to invite me to the meeting holden this day at Taunton. I am really so heartily tired of meetings and speeches that I must be excused; but I agree with you in your main objects.

It appears to me quite impossible that the Irish Church can remain in its present state. Vested interests strictly guarded, and the spiritual wants of the Protestants of the Establishment provided for, the remainder may wisely and justly be applied to the religious education of other sects. I go further; and think that the Catholic Clergy of Ireland should receive a provision from the State equal to that which they are at present compelled to extort from the peasantry of that country. All other measures without this I cannot but consider as insignificant; and it may be as well conceded now, as after years of blood-
shed and contention. This, with time, and a long course of strict impartiality in the Government between Catholic and Protestant, may restore tranquillity to that light, irritable, and ill-used people.

For these reasons I cannot sympathize in the fears which are sincerely felt at this moment by many honest and excellent persons. I believe that Ministers have acted honestly and wisely with respect to the Irish Church; that their intentions to our own Church are friendly and favourable; and that, as far as they have gone, they deserve the support of the public.

I am, Sir, yours, etc.,
Sydney Smith.

354.] To Dr. Holland.
Combe Florey, June, 1835.
My dear Holland,

We shall have the greatest pleasure in receiving you and yours; and if you were twice as numerous, it would be so much the better.

What do you think of this last piece of legislation for boroughs? It was necessary to do a good deal: the question is one of degree. I shall be in town on Tuesday, the 23rd, and, I hope, under better auspices than last year. I have followed your directions, and therefore deserve a better fortune than fell to my lot on that occasion. —— is the Mahomet of rhubarb and magnesia,—the greatest medical impostor I know.

I am suffering from my old complaint, the hayfever (as it is called). My fear is, perishing by deliquescence; I melt away in nasal and lachrymal profluvia. My remedies are warm pediluvium, cathartics,
topical application of a watery solution of opium to eyes, ears, and the interior of the nostrils. The membrane is so irritable, that light, dust, contradiction, an absurd remark, the sight of a dissenter,—anything, sets me sneezing; and if I begin sneezing at twelve, I don’t leave off till two o’clock, and am heard distinctly in Taunton when the wind sets that way,—a distance of six miles. Turn your mind to this little curse. If consumption is too powerful for physicians, at least they should not suffer themselves to be outwitted by such little upstart disorders as the hay-fever.

I am very glad you married my daughter, for I am sure you are both very happy; and I assure you I am proud of my son-in-law.

I did not think ——, with all his nonsense, could have got down to tar-water. I have as much belief in it as I have in holy water; it is the water has done the business, not the tar. They could not induce the sensual peer to drink water, but by mixing it with nonsense, and disguising the simplicity of the receipt. You must have a pitched battle with him about his tar-water, and teach him what he has never learnt,—the rudiments of common sense. Kindest love to dear Saba. Ever your affectionate father,

Sydney Smith.

355] To Mrs. Holland.
Combe Florey, June 3rd, 1835.
Dearest daughter,

Sixty-four years old today. If H—— and F—— in the estimation of the doctor, are better out of town,
we shall be happy to receive them here before your rural holidays begin; your children are my children.

A fall of wood, greater than any of the other falls has taken place; the little walnut-tree and the thorn removed, and a complete view up the valley, both from the library and drawing-room windows. Great opposition—the place would be entirely spoiled; and twelve hours after, an admission of immense improvement. You have seen, my dear Saba, such things as these at Combe Florey. We are both well: no events.

I am afraid of war; I go at once into violent opposition to any Ministry who go to war. What a long line are the —— of needy and rapacious villains! I thought old ——’s letter good and affecting.

I have bought two more ponies, so we are strong in pigmy quadrupeds; my three saddle-horses together cost me £43.10s., all perfect beauties, and warranted sound, wind and limb, and not a kick in them. Shall you ride when you come down? We are never without fires.

We are going through our usual course of jokes and dinners; one advantage of the country is, that a joke once established is good for ever; it is like the stuff which is denominated everlasting, and used as pantaloons by careful parents for their children. In London you expect a change of pleasantry; but M. and N. laugh more at my six-years-old jokes than they did when the jokes were in their infancy. Sir Thomas spoke at —— for two hours,—the Jew for one hour; the boys called out “Old clothes!” as he came into the town, and offered to sell him sealing-wax and slippers.


Give my kindest regards to your excellent husband, and believe me always, your affectionate father,

Sydney Smith.

356.] To Miss ——.
London, July 22nd, 1835.

Lucy, Lucy, my dear child, don’t tear your frock; tearing frocks is not of itself a proof of genius; but write as your mother writes, act as your mother acts; be frank, loyal, affectionate, simple, honest; and then integrity or laceration of frock is of little import.

And Lucy, dear child, mind your arithmetic. You know, in the first sum of yours I ever saw, there was a mistake. You had carried two (as a cab is licensed to do) and you ought, dear Lucy, to have carried but one. Is this a trifle? What would life be without arithmetic, but a scene of horrors?

You are going to Boulogne, the city of debts, peopled by men who never understood arithmetic; by the time you return, I shall probably have received my first paralytic stroke, and shall have lost all recollection of you; therefore I now give you my parting advice. Don’t marry anybody who has not a tolerable understanding and a thousand a year, and God bless you, dear child.

Sydney Smith.

357.] To R. Sharpe, Esq.
Stratford-place, 1835.
My dear Sharpe,

It is impossible to say whether Caesar Sutton or
Pompey Abercrombie* will get the better; a civil war is expected: on looking into my own mind, I find an utter inability of fighting for either party.

—— is better, and having lost his disease, has also lost his topics of conversation; has no heart to talk about, and is silent from want of suffering.

I have seen the new House of Parliament: the House of Commons is very good, much better than the old one; the Lords’ house is shabby. Government are going on vigorously with the Church Bill; it will be an infinitely more savage bill than the Whigs would have ventured to introduce. The Whigs mean to start Abercrombie against the Speaker. All the planets and comets mean to stop, and look on at the first meeting of Parliament. The Radicals allow 260 to the Tories, who claim 290:—from 7 to 5 are given to the Stanley party. Read Inglis’s Travels in Ireland. Bold, shrewd, and sensible, he is accused of judging more rapidly than any man in six weeks’ time is entitled to do; but then he merely states what he saw. I met him, he seemed like his book. Young Mackintosh is going on with his father’s Life. He sent me a tour on the Rhine, by his father; but I thought it differed very little from other tours on the Rhine, and so I think he will not publish it. You will be glad to hear that —— is doing very well: he is civil to the counsel, does not interrupt, and converses with the other judges as if they had the elements of law and sense. India was offered to Sir James Kemp before it was offered to Lord Haytesbury; Kemp refused it on account of a wound in his heel, a vulnerable point (as we know) in heroes. I hear a good account of your cough, and

* In allusion to the contest about the Speaker.

a bad one of your breathing; pray take care of yourself.
Rogers might be mistaken for a wrestler at the Olympic games; Luttrell is confined by the leg; Whishaw is waiting to see which side he is to pooh-pooh! I heartily wish, my dear Sharpe, that physicians may do you as much good as they have done me.

Sydney Smith.

You have met, I hear, with an agreeable clergyman: the existence of such a being has been hitherto denied by the naturalists; measure him, and put down on paper what he eats.

358.] To Sir Wilmot Horton, Bart.
Dear Horton,

Why do you not come home, as was generally expected you would do? Come soon; life is short: Europe is better than Asia. The battle goes on between Democracy and Aristocracy; I think it will end in a compromise, and that there will be nothing of a revolutionary nature; our quarrels, though important, are not serious enough for that.

Read Mrs. Butler’s (Fanny Kemble’s) Diary; it is much better than the reviews and papers will allow it to be: what is called vulgarity, is useful and natural contempt for the exclusive and the superfine. Lord Grey has given up public life altogether, and is retired into the country. No book has appeared for a long time more agreeable than the Life of Mackintosh; it is full of important judgments on important men, books, and things.


I have seen Lord Clare: he hardly looks a shade more yellow. The men who have risen lately into more notice are Sir George Grey, Lord Grey’s nephew, and Lord Howick; Lord John and Morpeth have done very well; Peel admirably.

The complete —— has returned from Italy a greater bore than ever; he bores on architecture, painting, statuary, and music. Frankland Lewis is filling his station of King of the Paupers extremely well: they have already worked wonders; but of all occupations it must be the most disagreeable. I don’t blame the object, but dislike the occupation; the object is justified, because it prevents a much greater destruction of human beings hereafter.

—— will get no credit for his book; it is impossible now to be universal; men of the greatest information and accuracy swarm in the streets,—mineralogists, astronomers, ornithologists, and lousologists; the most minute blunder is immediately detected.

Believe me, my dear Horton, yours sincerely,
Sydney Smith.

359.] To Mrs. ——.
Combe Florey, July, 1835.

Many thanks, dear Mrs. ——, for your kindness in thinking of me and my journey after the door was shut; but you have a good heart, and I hope it will be rewarded with that aliment in which the heart delights,—the respectful affection of the wise and just.

I will write to you before I come to Boulogne, and am obliged to you for the commission. I have been
travelling one hundred and fifty miles in my carriage, with a green parrot and the ‘
Life of Mackintosh.’ I shall be much surprised if this book does not become extremely popular. It is full of profound and eloquent remarks on men, books, and events. What more, dear lady, can you wish for in a book?

I found here seven grandchildren, all in a dreadful state of perspiration and screaming. You are in the agonies of change; always some pain in leaving! I could say a great deal on that subject, only I am afraid you would quiz me. And, pray, what am I to do for my evening parties in November, if you are not in London? Surely you must have overlooked this when you resolved to stay at Boulogne.

Mr. Whishaw is coming down here on the 8th of August, to stay some days. He is truly happy in the country. What a pleasure it would be if you were here to meet him! But to get human beings together who ought to be together, is a dream.

Keep a little corner in that fine heart of yours for me, however small it may be; a clergyman in your heart will keep all your other notions in good order. God bless you!

Sydney Smith.

360.] To Mrs. ——.
August 28th, 1835.
Dear Mrs. ——,

Many thanks. The damsel will not take to the water, but we have found another in the house who has long been accustomed to the water, being no other than our laundry-maid. She had some little dread of
a ship, but as I have assured her it is like a tub, she is comforted.*

I think you will like Sir James Mackintosh’s Life; it is full of his own thoughts upon men, books, and events, and I derived from it the greatest pleasure. He makes most honourable mention of your mother, whom I only know by one of her productions,—enough to secure my admiration. It is impossible to read Mill’s violent attack upon Mackintosh without siding with the accused against the accuser. Can it be generally useful to speak with indecent contempt of a man whom so many men of sense admired, and who is no longer in the land of the living?

I should not scruple to draw upon your good-nature and kindness if I had any occasion to do so; but as to my French journey, the only use you can be of to me is, to be as amiable and agreeable when I see you at Boulogne, as I have found you on this side the water. I can only say a few winged words, and leave you a flying benediction, as I am going by Rouen, and mean to see a great deal in a little time. By the bye, I want to find a good sleeping-place between Rouen and Paris, as I wish to arrive at Paris in the day, time enough to find good quarters.

We have had charming weather; and all who come here, or have been here, have been delighted with our little paradise,—for such it really is; except that there is no serpent, and that we wear clothes. God bless you, dear Mrs. ——! My best and most friendly wishes attend you always.

S. S.

* Mrs. Sydney’s maid would not accompany her to France, from fear of the sea.—Ed.

361.] To Mrs. ——.
Combe Florey, Sept. 7th, 1835.

Health to Mrs. ——, and happiness, and agreeable society, carelessness for the future, and enjoyment of the present!

Who can think of your offer now, and before, but with kindness and gratitude? My brother, who loves paradoxes, says, if he saw a man walking into a pit, he would not advise him to turn the other way. My plan is, on the contrary, to advise, to interfere, to remonstrate, at all hazards. I hate cold-blooded people, a tribe to which you have no relation; and the brother who talks this nonsense would not only stop the wanderer, but jump halfway down the pit to save him. We will go by the Lower Road. The consequence of all this beautiful weather will be, our liquefaction in our French expedition.

I send you a list of all the papers written by me in the Edinburgh Review. Catch me, if you can, in any one illiberal sentiment, or in any opinion which I have need to recant; and that, after twenty years’ scribbling upon all subjects.

Lord John Russell comes here next week with Lady John. He has behaved prudently, but the thing is not yet over. I am heartily glad at the prospect of agreement. Who, but the idiots of the earth, would fling a country like this into confusion, because a Bill (in its mutilated state a great improvement) is not carried as far, and does not embrace as much, as the best men could wish? Is political happiness so cheap, and political improvement so easy, that the one can be sported with, and the other demanded, in this
style? God bless you, dear
Mrs. ——! From your friend,

Sydney Smith.

362.] To the Countess Grey.
Combe Florey, Sept. 11th, 1835.
My dear Lady Grey,

Your letter gave me great pleasure—the pleasure of being cared about by old and good friends, and the pleasure of seeing that they know I care about them. Lord Grey has met with that reception which every honest and right-minded man felt to be his due. If I had never known him, and lived in the north, I should have come out to wave my bonnet as he passed. He may depend upon it he has played a great part in English history, and that the best part of the English people entertain for him the most profound respect. And now, for the rest of life, let him trifle and lounge, and do everything which may be agreeable to him, and drink as much wine as he dare, and not be too severe in criticizing himself.

We have had Scarlett and Denman here: the former, an old friend of mine; Denman everybody likes.

I don’t know whether you have the same joy, but I am heartily glad the fine weather is over; it totally prevented me from taking exercise, and therefore, from being as well as I otherwise should have been. Lord and Lady John Russell came here on Monday. On the 22nd I go to 25, Lower Brook-street, and on the 28th we go to Paris for a month,—Mrs. Sydney, and Mr. and Mrs. Hibbert, and myself. I have not the least wish to see Paris again, but go to show it to
Mrs. Sydney. I think every wife has a right to insist upon seeing Paris. It would give me some pleasure to talk with the
King of France for half an hour.

We all (I take it for granted) rejoice at the wise decision of the Government. They would have lost character if they had given up the Bill, and embroiled the country for an object so trifling. O’Connell’s letter to the Duke of Wellington is dreadfully scurrilous, but there are in it some distressing truths. The state of America will help the Tories, and diffuse a horror of mobs.

I have (heat excepted) spent an agreeable summer with my two daughters and all their families,—seven grandchildren. It will give me great pleasure to hear that Lord Grey and you have been and are well and happy.

Sydney Smith.

363.] To Lady Holland.
Abbeville, Oct. 2nd, 1835.
My dear Lady Holland,

You, who are always good and kind to me, were so obliging as to say I might write to you, and inform you how we got over. Nothing could be worse. * * * * * The weather has been horrible, the country is execrable, the travelling is very slow and tedious. Tomorrow we go from this town to Rouen, and shall be in Paris on Wednesday.

There is a family of English people living here who have been here for five years. They stopped to change horses, liked the place, and have been here ever since:
father, mother, two handsome daughters, and some young children. I should think it not unlikely that one of the daughters will make a nuptial alliance with the waiter, or give her hand to the son of the landlord, in order to pay the bill.

I saw Sebastiani at Calais setting off with the dry-nurse of the Duc de Nemours in a calèche, which any of your Kensington tradesmen would have disdained to enter. There is a blessed contempt of appearances in France.

We are well, and are going to sit down to a dinner at five francs a head. We are going regularly through the Burgundy wines,—the most pernicious and of course the best: Macon the first day, Chablis the second—both excellent; today Volnay.

S. S.

364.] To Mrs. Holland.
Rouen, Oct. 6th, 1835.
My dearest Child,

—— fell ill in London, and detained us a day or two. At Canterbury, the wheel would not turn round; we slept there, and lost our passage the next day at Dover: this was Wednesday,—a day of mist, fog, and despair. It blew a hurricane all that night, and we were kept awake by thinking of the different fish by which we should be devoured on the following day. I thought I should fall to the lot of some female porpoise, who, mistaking me for a porpoise, but finding me only a parson, would make a dinner of me. We were all up and at the quay by five in the morning. The captain hesitated very much whether he would
embark, and your mother solicited me in pencil notes not to do so; however, we embarked,—the
French Ambassador, ourselves, twenty Calais shopkeepers, and a variety of all nations. The passage was tremendous: Hibbert had crossed four times, and the courier twenty; I had crossed three times more, and we none of us ever remember such a passage. I lay along the deck, wrapped in a cloak, shut my eyes, and, as to danger, reflected that it was much more apparent than real; and that, as I had so little life to lose, it was of little consequence whether I was drowned, or died, like a resident clergyman, from indigestion. Your mother was taken out more dead than alive.

We were delighted with the hotel of Dessein, at Calais; eggs, butter, bread, coffee—everything better than in England,—the hotel itself magnificent. We all recovered, and staid there the day; and proceeded to sleep at Montreuil, forty miles, where we were still more improved by a good dinner. The next day, twenty miles further, to Abbeville; from thence, sixty miles the next day to this place, where we found a superb hotel, and are quite delighted with Rouen; the churches far exceed anything in England, in richness of architectural ornament. The old buildings of Rouen are most interesting. All that I refuse to see is, where particular things were done to particular persons;—the square where Joan of Arc was burnt,—the house where Corneille was born. The events I admit to be important; but from long experience, I have found that the square where Joan of Arc was burnt, and the room where Corneille was born, have such a wonderful resemblance to other rooms and squares, that I have ceased to interest myself about them.


Tomorrow we start for Mantes, and the next day we shall be at Paris. Travelling is extremely slow—five miles an hour. I find the people now, as I did before, most delightful; compared to them, we are perfect barbarians. Happy the man whose daughter were half as well bred as the chambermaid at Dessein’s, or whose sons were as polished as the waiter! Whatever else you do, insist, when Holland brings you to France, on coming to Rouen; there is nothing in France more worth seeing. Come to Havre, and by steam to Rouen. God bless you, dear child! Give my love to Froggy and Doggy. Your affectionate father,

Sydney Smith.

365.] To Mrs. ——.
Hôtel de Londres, Place Vendôme,
Sunday, Oct.
11th, 1835.
Dear Mrs. ——,
* * * * *

At Calais, we were delighted with Dessein’s Hotel, and admired the waiter and chambermaid as two of the best-bred people we had ever seen. The next sensation was at Rouen. Nothing (as you know) can be finer;—Beautiful country, ships, trees, churches, antiquities, commerce,—everything which makes life interesting and agreeable. I thank you for your advice, which sent me by the Lower Road to Paris. My general plan in life has been to avoid low roads, and to walk in high places, but from Rouen to Paris is an exception.

The Ambassador lent us his box yesterday, and I heard Rubini and Grisi, Lablache and Tamburini. The
opera, by
Bellini, ‘I Puritani,’ was dreadfully tiresome, and unintelligible in its plan. I hope it is the last opera I shall ever go to.

We are well lodged in an hotel with a bad kitchen. I agree in the common praise of the French living. Light wines, and meat thoroughly subdued by human skill, are more agreeable to me than the barbarian Stonehenge masses of meat with which we feed ourselves. Paris is very full. I look at it with some attention, as I am not sure I may not end my days in it. I suspect the fifth act of life should be in great cities; it is there, in the long death of old-age, that a man most forgets himself and his infirmities; receives the greatest consolation from the attentions of friends, and the greatest diversion from external circumstances.

Pray tell me how often the steamboats go from Boulogne; whether every day, or, if not, what days; and when the tides will best serve, so as to go from harbour to harbour, in the week beginning the twenty-fifth of October. Pray excuse this trouble. I have always compunctions in asking you to do anything useful; it is as if one were to use blonde lace for a napkin, or to drink toast-and-water out of a ruby cup;—a clownish confusion of what is splendid and what is serviceable. Sincerely and respectfully yours,

Sydney Smith.

366.] To the Countess Grey.
Paris, Oct. 20th, 1835.
My dear Lady Grey,

I am sure the pleasantest thing that you and Lord Grey and Georgina could do, would be to go to Paris
for May and June. It would not cost more than life in London, and would be to you a source of infinite amusement and pleasing recollections. Our excursion here has given
Mrs. Sydney the greatest gratification. We have seen the outside of Paris thoroughly. I think Lord and Lady Carlisle both improved in health; they are to stay here the winter.

I have seen Madame de —— once or twice, but I never attempt to speak to her, or to go within six yards of her. I am aware of her abilities, and of the charms of her conversation and manner to those whom it is worth her while to cultivate; but to us others, she is, as it were, the Goddess Juno, or some near relation to Jove.

The French are very ugly; I have not seen one pretty French woman. I am a convert to the beauty of Lady ——; her smile is charming. Paris swarms with English. Lord Granville was forced to go up five pair of stairs to find Lord Canterbury. In another garret, equally high, was lodged Lord Fitzgerald. I care very little about dinners; but I acquiesce thoroughly in all that has been said of their science. I shall not easily forget a Matelote at the Rochers de Cancale, an almond tart at Montreuil, or a poulet à la Tartare at Grignon’s. These are impressions which no changes in future life can obliterate. I am sure they would have sunk deeply into the mind of Lord Grey; I know nobody more attentive to such matters.

The King’s best friends here hardly understand what he is at. I suppose he thinks that, with a free press, nothing could save France from anarchy: perhaps he may be right. I believe him to be a virtuous and excellent man.


We have had bad weather. We leave Paris tomorrow, and shall be in London on the 25th or 26th. Lord William Bentinck is in our hotel, endeavouring to patch up a constitution broken by every variety of climate. I find him a plain, unaffected, sensible man.

Always, dear Lady Grey, with sincere respect and affection, yours,

Sydney Smith.

367.] To Mrs. ——.

Many thanks, dear Mrs. ——, for the Review, which I conclude to be yours, and which I read with pleasure; but I wish you great philosophers would condescend to tell us what and how much you propose to teach; what the real advantages are which society is likely to reap from education, and whether the dangers which many apprehend are not imaginary. You take all the good for granted, and all the idea of evil as exploded. Whereas, education has many honest enemies; and many honestly doubt and demur, who do not speak out for fear of being assassinated by Benthamites, who might think it, upon the whole, more useful that such men should die than live.

Sydney Smith.

368.] To Lord Murray.
Weymouth-street, Portland-place, Nov. 6th, 1835.

No news. All the Ministers meet here on the 12th. John Russell is to make a great splash at Bristol; they began laying the cloth ten days ago. I was
invited, but I have done with agitation. I see Lord John means to spare the House of Lords.

Everybody here is delighted with Mackintosh’s Life, and is calling out for more letters and diaries. I think Robert Mackintosh has done it very well, by putting in as little mortar as possible between the layers of stone.

We are all pleased with our Paris excursion. The Liberals, particularly the Flahaults, do not know what to make of the last measures. If they had only been temporary, there would not have been a dissentient voice.

S. S.

309.] To George Philips, Esq.
November 23rd, 1835.
My dear Philips,

I have bought a house in Charles-street, Berkeley-square (lease for fourteen years), for £1400, and £10 per annum ground-rent. It is near the chapel, in John-street, where I used to preach. I was tired of looking out for ready-furnished houses. We are five minutes from the Park, five minutes from you, and ten minutes from Dr. Holland.

All the Ministers are in town, and I meet them almost every day somewhere or another; but hear nothing of importance, and have no wish to hear anything. They are going on with the reformation of the Church; and the Ministers think that the members of the Commission put in by Peel are quite in earnest, and willing to do the thing fairly.

In calling this morning, I met Lady Davy, Mrs. Marcet, and Mrs. Somerville in the same room. I
told them I was the Shepherd Paris, and that I was to give an apple to the wisest. I congratulated
Whishaw on coming out of W—— House unmarried. He says he does not know that he is unmarried, but rather thinks he is. Time will show if any one claims him.

I ought to have the gout, having been in the free use of French wines; and as Nature is never slow in paying these sort of debts, I suppose I shall have it.

Sydney Smith.

370.] To Mrs. Holland.
December 11th, 1835.
My dearest Child,

Few are the adventures of a Canon travelling gently over good roads to his benefice. In my way to Reading I had, for my companion, the Mayor of Bristol when I preached that sermon in favour of the Catholics. He recognized me, and we did very well together. I was terribly afraid that he would stop at the same inn, and that I should have the delight of his society for the evening; but he (thank God!) stopped at the Crown, as a loyal man, and I, as a rude one, went on to the Bear. Civil waiters, wax candles, and off again the next morning, with my friend and Sir W. W——, a very shrewd, clever, coarse, entertaining man, with whom I skirmished à l’amiable all the way to Bath. At Bath, candles still more waxen, and waiters still more profound. Being, since my travels, very much gallicized in my character, I ordered a pint of claret; I found it incomparably the best wine I ever tasted; it disappeared with a rapidity which sur-
prises me even at this distance of time. The next morning, in the coach by eight, with a handsome valetudinarian lady, upon whom the coach produced the same effect as a steam-packet would do. I proposed weak warm brandy and water; she thought, at first, it would produce inflammation of the stomach, but presently requested to have it warm and not weak, and she took it to the last drop, as I did the claret. All well here. God bless you, dearest child! Love to

Sydney Smith.

371.] To Sir Wilmot Horton, Bart.
December, 1835.
Dear Wilmot Horton,

I have been to Paris with Mrs. Sydney, and Mr. and Mrs. Hibbert. We saw all the cockney sights, and dined at all the usual restaurants, and vomited as usual into the channel which divides Albion from Gallia. Rivers are said to run blood after an engagement; the Channel is discoloured, I am sure, in a less elegant and less pernicious way by English tourists going and coming. The King unpopular, beginning to do unwise things, which surprise the moderate Liberals; but the predominant feeling in France is a love of quiet, and a horror of improvements.

The manufactures of England are flourishing beyond example; there is no other distress but agricultural distress. Every hour that the Ministers stay in they are increasing their strength by the patronage which falls in. I think they will last over next session, and beyond that it would be rash to venture a predic-
tion. I agree with them in everything they are doing. I think there never was such an Administration in this country. This, you will say, is the language of a person (or parson) who wants a bishopric; but, nolo episcopari. I dread the pomp, trifles, garments, and ruinous expense of the episcopal life; and this is lucky, as I have not the smallest reason for believing that any one has the most remote intention of putting the mitre on my head.

Our friend Frankland Lewis is gaining great and deserved reputation by his administration of the Poor Laws,—one of the best and boldest measures which ever emanated from any Government.

I hope you have read Mackintosh’s Life, and that you like it. I think it a delightful book, and such is the judgment of the public. Where are there more important opinions on men, books, and events? They talk of a new edition, and another volume.

—— holds out, but is all claret, gravy, and puff-paste. I don’t think there is an ounce of flesh and blood in his composition. Adieu, dear Horton! come back, my love, to my Lady. Ever yours,

Sydney Smith.