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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Letters 1843

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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493.] To Charles Dickens, Esq.
January 6th, 1843.
My dear Sir,

You have been so used to these sort of impertinences, that I believe you will excuse me for saying how very much I am pleased with the first number of your new work. Pecksniff and his daughters, and Pinch, are admirable,—quite first-rate painting, such as no one but yourself can execute.


I did not like your genealogy of the Chuzzlewits, and I must wait a little to see how Martin turns out; I am impatient for the next number.

Pray come and see me next summer; and believe me ever yours,

Sydney Smith.

P.S.—Chuffey is admirable. I never read a finer piece of writing; it is deeply pathetic and affecting. Your last number is excellent. Don’t give yourself the, trouble to answer my impertinent eulogies, only excuse them. Ever yours,

S. S.

494.] To Lady Holland.
Combe Florey, Jan. 16th, 1843.
My dear Lady Holland,

I exempt you from a regular and punctual system of answers to my nonsense. I find it almost impossible to read your handwriting; but knowing it always contains some proffer of kindness and hospitality to me, I answer upon general principles and conjecture.

Have you any objection to take a few lessons of writing from me in my morning calls? I could bring you on very much in the course of next summer; and if you take pains, I will show your book to Lady Cowper. I behaved very generously to Bobus in letting him off from coming here; he promises to come next summer, but such is my good-nature, that I think he will try to escape. Bowood is, I believe, his only exception to the love of solitude.

We are in a snow-storm; but with a warm house and noisy grandchildren, I defy the weather. I wish
for nothing out of the house but the continuance of your kindness and affection.

Sydney Smith.

495.] To Miss Berry.
Combe Florey, Jan. 28th, 1843.

Are you well? Answer me that, and I am answered. I question everybody who comes from Curzon-street, and the answers I get are so various, that I must look into the matter myself. Who comes to see you? or rather, who does not come to see you? Who are the wise, the fair, the witty, who absent themselves from your parties, and still preserve their character for beauty, for wisdom, and for wit? I have been hybernating in my den, but begin to scent the approach of Spring, and to hear the hum of the Metropolis, proposing to be there the 22nd of February.

Poor ——! the model of all human prosperity! He seems to have been killed, as an animal is killed, for his plumpness. What other motive could there be? Or was it to liberate him from the ——? to terminate the frigid friendship, and to guard the —— from that heavy pleasantry with which, in moments of relaxation, —— is apt to overwhelm his dependants? I say, moments of relaxation; because this unbending posture of mind is never observed in him for more than a few seconds.

Mankind looked on with critical curiosity when Lady Holland dined with you; only general results reached me here; it would have been conducted, I am sure, with the greatest learning and skill on both sides.
Ah! if Providence would but give us more
Boswells! But your house deserves a private Boswell; think of one. Whom will you choose? I am too old, and too absent,—absent, I mean, in body.

I am studying the death of Louis XVI. Did he die heroically? or did he struggle on the scaffold? Was that struggle (for I believe there was one) for permission to speak? or from indignation at not being suffered to act for himself at the last moment, and to place himself under the axe? Make this out for me, if you please, and speak of it to me when I come to London. I don’t believe the Abbé Edgeworth’s “Son of St. Louis, montez an ciel!” It seems necessary that great people should die with some sonorous and quotable saying. Mr. Pitt said something not intelligible in his last moments: G. Rose made it out to be, “Save my country, Heaven!” The nurse, on being interrogated, said that he asked for barley-water.

I have seen nobody since I saw you, but persons in orders. My only varieties are vicars, rectors, curates, and every now and then (by way of turbot) an archdeacon. There is nobody in the country but parsons. Remember, you gave me your honour and word that I should find you both in good health in February. Upon the faith of this promise I gave, and now give, you my benediction.

Sydney Smith.

496.] To the Countess Grey.
Green-street, Feb. 28th, 1843.
My dear Lady Grey,

Bulteel has stated his case to me, and I have given
him my advice upon it. Has a bishop a right to make a condition of ordination, that which the law does not make a condition,—that no man shall be ordained who has not taken an English degree? Suppose he were to say that no man should be ordained who travels on the continent, or who has studied the Italian language, or who is not six feet high. Where does power end? How does he prove that the tutor knew this rule? What right has he to say, that a man (even knowing it) may not go to be ordained when he chooses?—and fifty other questions to which the case gives birth.

Sydney Smith.

497.] To Roderick Murchison, Esq.
Green-street, March 10th, 1843.
Dear Murchison,

Many thanks for your address, which I will diligently read. May there not be some one among the infinite worlds where men and women are all made of stone? Perhaps of Parian marble? How infinitely superior to flesh and blood! What a Paradise for you, to pass eternity with a greywacke woman!

Ever yours,
Sydney Smith.

P. S.—Very good indeed! The model of an address from a scientific man to practical men! Great zeal, and an earnest desire to make others zealous.

The style and language just what they ought to be. No lapses, no indiscretions. The only expression I quarrel with is, monograph; either it has some con-
ventional meaning among geologists, or it only means a pamphlet,—a book.

498.] To Miss G. Harcourt.
Green-street, March 29th, 1843.
My dear Georgiana,

Was there ever such stupid trash as these humorous songs? If there is anything on earth makes me melancholy, it is a humorous song. Still I glory in the Widow E——, and am infinitely pleased with her good sense and the gentleness of her nature.

I did not think you were recovered at Mr. Grenville’s, but I thought you better at Belgrave-square. I took a medical survey of you, unobserved by you.

Always, dear Georgiana, your affectionate friend,

Sydney Smith.
Note to Miss G. Harcourt.
My dear G.,
The pain in my knee
Would not suffer me
To drink your bohea.
I can laugh and talk,
But I cannot walk;
And I thought His Grace would stare
If I put my leg on a chair.
And to give the knee its former power,
It must be fomented for half an hour;
And in this very disagreeable state,
If I had come at all, I should have been too late.

499.] To Dr. Whewell.
April 8th, 1843.
My dear Sir,

My lectures are gone to the dogs, and are utterly forgotten. I knew nothing of moral philosophy, but I was thoroughly aware that I wanted £200 to furnish my house. The success, however, was prodigious; all Albemarle-street blocked up with carriages, and such an uproar as I never remember to have been excited by any other literary imposture. Every week I had a new theory about conception and perception; and supported by a natural manner, a torrent of words, and an impudence scarcely credible in this prudent age. Still, in justice to myself, I must say there were some good things in them. But good and bad are all gone. By ‘moral philosophy’ you mean, as they mean at Edinburgh, mental philosophy; i.e. the faculties of the mind, and the effects which our reasoning powers and our passions produce upon the actions of our lives.

I think the University uses you and us very ill, in keeping you so strictly at Cambridge. If Jupiter could desert Olympus for twelve days to feast with the harmless Ethiopians, why may not the Vice-Chancellor commit the graduating, matriculating world for a little time to the inferior deities, and thunder and lighten at the tables of the Metropolis?

I hope you like Horner’sLife.’ It succeeds extremely well here. It is full of all the exorbitant and impracticable views so natural to very young men at Edinburgh; but there is great order, great love of knowledge, high principle and feelings, which ought to grow and thrive in superior minds.


Our kind regards to Mrs. Whewell. Ever, my dear Sir, sincerely yours,

Sydney Smith.

500.] To Roderick Murchison, Esq.
Green-street, April 29th, 1843.
Dear Murchison,

I am very much obliged to you for your book, which I shall read, though I shall not understand it; not from your want of light, but from my want of vision. I rejoice in your reputation; I know your industry and enterprise, and am always truly yours,

Sydney Smith.

501.] To Miss Berry.
Dear Berries,

I dine on Saturday with the good Widow T——, and blush to say that I have no disposable day before the 26th; by which time you will, I presume, be plucking gooseberries in the suburban regions of Richmond. But think not, O Berries! that that distance, or any other, of latitude or longitude, shall prevent me from following you, plucking you, and eating you. Whatever pleasure men find in the raspberry, in the strawberry, in the coffee-berry, all these pleasures are to my taste concentrated in the May-Fair Berries. Ever theirs,

Sydney Smith.

502.] To John Murray, Esq.
Green-street, June 4th, 1843.
My dear Murray,

I should be glad to hear something of your life and adventures, and the more particularly so, as I learn you have no intention of leaving Edinburgh for London this season.

Mrs. Sydney and I have been remarkably well, and are so at present; why, I cannot tell. I am getting very old in years, but do not feel that I am become so in constitution. My locomotive powers at seventy-three are abridged, but my animal spirits do not desert me. I am become rich. My youngest brother died suddenly, leaving behind him £100,000 and no will. A third of this therefore fell to my share, and puts me at my ease for my few remaining years. After buying into the Consols and the Reduced, I read Seneca ‘On the Contempt of Wealth!’ What intolerable nonsense! I heard your éloge from Lord Lansdowne when I dined with him, and I need not say how heartily I concurred in it. Next to me sat Lord Worsley, whose enclosed letter affected me, and very much pleased me. I answered it with sincere warmth. Pray return me the paper. Did you read my American Petition, and did you approve it?

* * * * *
* * * * *

Why don’t they talk over the virtues and excellencies of Lansdowne? There is no man who performs the duties of life better, or fills a high station in a more becoming manner. He is full of knowledge, and eager for its acquisition. His remarkable polite-
ness is the result of good-nature, regulated by good sense. He looks for talents and qualities among all ranks of men, and adds them to his stock of society, as a botanist does his plants; and while other aristocrats are yawning among Stars and Garters, Lansdowne is refreshing his soul with the fancy and genius which he has found in odd places, and gathered to the marbles and pictures of his palace. Then he is an honest politician, a wise statesman, and has a philosophic mind; he is very agreeable in conversation, and is a man of an unblemished life. I shall take care of him in my Memoirs!

Remember me very kindly to the maximus minimus* and to the Scotch Church. I have urged my friend the Bishop of Durham to prepare kettles of soup for the seceders, who will probably be wandering in troops over our northern counties.

Ever your sincere friend,
Sydney Smith.

503.] To Charles Dickens, Esq.
56, Green-street, July 1st, 1843.
Dear Dickens,

Excellent! nothing can be better! You must settle it with the Americans as you can, but I have nothing to do with that. I have only to certify that the number is full of wit, humour, and power of description.

I am slowly recovering from an attack of gout in the knee, and am very sorry to have missed you.

Sydney Smith.

* Lord Jeffrey.

504.] To Lord Mahon.
July 4th, 1843.

I am only half recovered from a violent attack of gout in the knee, and I could not bear the confinement of dinner, without getting up and walking between the courses, or thrusting my foot on somebody else’s chair, like the Archbishop of Dublin. For these reasons, I have been forced for some time, and am still forced, to decline dinner engagements. I should, in a sounder state, have had great pleasure in accepting the very agreeable party you are kind enough to propose to me; but I shall avail myself, in the next campaign, of your kindness. I consider myself as well acquainted with Lady Mahon and yourself, and shall hope to see you here, as well as elsewhere. Pray present my benediction to your charming wife, who I am sure would bring any plant in the garden into full flower by looking at it, and smiling upon it. Try the experiment from mere curiosity. Ever yours,

Sydney Smith.

505.] To Mrs. Grote.
Combe Florey, July 17th, 1843.

I have been sadly tormented with the gout in my knee. I had made great progress; but at the Archbishop’s I walked too much, and the gout came back.

My place looks very beautiful, and I really enjoy the change. We were very sorry not to see you the evening you were to come to us; but the temptation not to come, where you have engaged to come, is more than you can resist: try refusing, and see what that
will do!
Mr. Grote was very agreeable and sensible, as he always is. I met Brunel at the Archbishop’s, and found him a very lively and intelligent man. He said that when he coughed up the piece of gold, the two surgeons, the apothecary, and physician all joined hands, and danced round the room for ten minutes, without taking the least notice of his convulsed and half-strangled state. I admire this very much.

Your sincere friend,
Sydney Smith.

506.] To His Grace the Archbishop of York.
Combe Florey, July 20th, 1843.

I have taken the liberty to send your Grace the half of a Cheddar cheese. It is directed to you, at Nuneham Steventon. You will be glad to hear my knee is better a good deal. I have written two letters to the Reverend Leibnitz Newton Lavoisier W—— H——, to know when he means to come here, and can get no answer. There must be something wrong at the Poles or the Equator, or in the Milky Way. Pray jog him.

I am learning to sing some of Moore’s songs, which I think I shall do to great perfection. I found here everything very comfortable and very beautiful; as I left everything, though in a very superior degree, at Nuneham.

I beg my kind regards to dear Georgiana, and remain, my dear Lord, with affection and respect, always yours,

Sydney Smith.

507] To Mrs. Meynell.
Combe Florey, 1843.
My dear Mrs. Meynell,

Let me, if you please, have a word or two from you, to tell me of your new habitation. Saba seems to have been delighted with her visit. I see —— has been with you. How did you like her? To me she is agreeable, civil, and elegant, and by no means insipid. She has a kind of ready-money smile, and a three-percent. affability, which make her interesting.

We have been leading a very solitary life here. Hardly a soul has been here, but I am contented, as I value more every day the pleasures of indolence; and there is this difference between a large inn like Temple Newsam and a small public-house like Combe Florey, that you hold a numerous society, who make themselves to a certain degree independent of you, and do not weigh upon you; whereas, as I hold only two or three, the social weight is upon me. Luttrell is staying here. Nothing can exceed the innocence of our conversation. It is one continued eulogy upon man-and-woman-kind. You would suppose that two Arcadian old gentlemen, after shearing their flocks, had agreed to spend a week together upon curds and cream, and to indulge in gentleness of speech and softness of mind.

We have had a superb summer, but I am glad it is over; I am never happy till the fires are lighted. Where is your house in London? You cannot but buy one: it is absolutely impossible for Temple Newsam not to have a London establishment. God bless you, dear G.! Keep a little love for your old friend,

Sydney Smith.
508.] To Sir George Philips, Bart.
56, Green-street, Aug. 19th, 1843.
My dear Philips,

I still believe in the return of business to Manchester, because I believe in the efficiency of capital, coals and priority of skill, and cannot think that these advantages can be so soon eclipsed. How can the cotton trade be lessened, if the import of the raw article continues every three years to increase? If the demand remains the same, or nearly the same, and a mill, from the improvements of machinery, can do three times the work it used to do, of course two-thirds of the mills must be put down; and this apparent stagnation is considered a proof of the diminution of the trade, whereas it is evidence of its healthy state and its increase.

We have had little Tommy Moore here, who seemed very much pleased with his visit. Mrs. Holland and her five children are here.

I cannot make out the Spanish revolution. I thought Espartero honest, brave, and to be well understood and esteemed by the Spanish people; but they all rise up with one accord, and kick him into that refuge of expelled monarchs—a British man-of-war.

I think the Conservatives begin to feel that Sir Robert Peel is a little damaged; still I should be sorry to see him out: he knows how to disguise liberal ideas, and to make them less terrible to the Foolery of a country. The Whigs delight to shock and affront, and to make their enemies ashamed that such a measure has not been carried out before. I am glad your journey is about to be shortened to London: the
rail has been invaluable here,—it has brought us within fifty miles of London. The clanger is of becoming, from our proximity to the railroad, too much in fashion; but I have a steady confidence in my own bad qualities. Your sincere friend,

Sydney Smith.

509.] To Mrs. Grote.
Combe Florey, Aug. 31st, 1843.
My dear Mrs. Grote,

We shall be extremely glad to see Grote and you. I have not received the ‘Morning Post’ you sent me, but I perceive, in other papers, my squib has burst, and caused some consternation.

I find I am getting old, and that my bodily feelings agree very well with the parish register. You seem to have had a very amusing life, with singing and dancing; but you cannot excite my envy by all the descriptions of your dramas and melodramas; you may as well paint the luxuries of barley-meal to a tiger, or turn a leopard into a field of clover. All this class of pleasures inspires me with the same nausea as I feel at the sight of rich plum-cake or sweetmeats; I prefer the driest bread of common life. I am in no degree answering your taste, but stating my own.

I wish Mrs. —— would make us a visit here; she is so good-natured and amiable, that we should be really very glad to see her.

In coming here, you come to old-age, and stupidity connected with old-age; I have no recommendation to
offer you, but a beautiful country and an affectionate welcome.

Peel seems to be a little damaged; it may be that Ireland cannot be governed by Tories. Three-fourths of the quarrels of England seem to be about established churches. Dr. Holland is just come from Ireland with a diminished sense of the danger of the Repeal cry. My house is, as I tell my daughter, as full of Hollands as a gin-shop.

I have a letter from Ticknor, of Boston, who thinks the Pennsylvanians will pay; but I tell him when once a people have tasted the luxury of not paying their debts, it is impossible to bring them back to the black broth of honesty. Yours,

Sydney Smith.

P.S.—The ‘Morning Post’ is arrived. The author of the letter is Ticknor, Professor at Boston; it is honourable to me; but he magnifies my literary gains, and I much doubt if I have ever gained £1500 by my literary labours in the course of my life.

510.] To the Countess Grey.
Combe Florey, Sept. 3rd, 1843.

Don’t attempt to teach Sir —— —— the Northumberland method of farming. He cares for nothing but Piccadilly and the hospitals, and Lady ——, and is miserable out of London. In coming home last week from a dinner-party, our carriage was stopped; and as I was preparing my watch and money, a man put his head into the window, and said, “We want Dr. Holland.” They took him out, and we have heard nothing of him since; we think of advertising.


I am thinking of going for a week or ten days to Ilfracombe. My only difficulty is to find out whether I like to go. I am very fond of a short visit to the sea, but the comforts of home become every day more important to old people; a bad bed, a cold room, a smoky grate,—these are the prices always paid for excursions. Ever affectionately yours,

Sydney Smith.

511.] To Lady Dufferin.
Combe Florey: no date.

I am just beginning to get well from that fit of gout, at the beginning of which you were charitable enough to pay me a visit, and I said—the same Providence which inflicts gout creates Dufferins! We must take the good and the evils of life.

I am charmed, I confess, with the beauty of this country. I hope some day you will be charmed with it too. It banished, however, every Arcadian notion to see —— walk in at the gate today. I seemed to be transported instantly to Piccadilly, and the innocence went out of me.

I hope the process of furnishing goes on well. Attend, I pray you, to the proper selection of an easy chair, where you may cast yourself down in the weariness and distresses of life, with the absolute certainty that every joint of the human frame will receive all the comfort which can be derived from easy position and soft materials; then the glass, on which your eyes are so often fixed, knowing that you have the great duty imposed on the Sheridans, of looking well. You
may depend upon it, happiness depends mainly on these little things.

I hope you remain in perfect favour with Rogers, and that you are not omitted in any of the dress breakfast parties. Remember me to the Norton: tell her I am glad to be sheltered from her beauty by the insensibility of age; that I shall not live to see its decay, but die with that unfaded image before my eyes: but don’t make a mistake, and deliver the message to ——, instead of your sister.

I remain, dear Lady Dufferin, very sincerely yours,

Sydney Smith.
An Enclosure.
September 22nd.

I am very much mortified that Lady Dufferin does not answer my letter. She has gone to Germany—she is sick—she has married Rogers—she . . . . In short, all sorts of melancholy explanations came across me, till I found that the probable reason of her not answering my letter was, that she had not received it. I was strengthened in this belief from finding in my writing-desk the letter itself, which was written a month ago, and I conceived it to have been despatched the same day. I can write nothing better, for I can only repeat my admiration and regard.

Sydney Smith.

512.] To Miss Berry.
Combe Florey: supposed 1843.

I am reading again Madame du Deffand. God forbid I should be as much in love with anybody
(yourself excepted) as the poor woman was with
Horace Walpole! Did I ever write to you before on this paper? It is called in the shops criminal blush demy. There is an innocent blush demy, which is cheaper.

I see some serious evil has befallen Ferguson of Raith. I lament it for your sake and for the general good, as he is an excellent person.

The smell of war is not over. I lament, and can conceive no greater misery. Among other evils, everybody must be ready for fighting; and I am not ready, but much the contrary. I am ten miles from the coast; a French steamer arrives in the night, and the first thing I hear in the morning is that the cushions of my pulpit are taken away, and my curate and churchwardens carried into captivity.

I was sorry to be forced to give —— such a beating, but he was very saucy and deserved it; however, now the battle is over, and I hope to live in good humour with all the world for the rest of my life, and to bury the war hatchet. I am glad to hear such excellent accounts of your health. Live as long as you can; nobody will be more missed. Give my love, if you please, to Agnes and Lady Charlotte. If you return, all of you, in good health to London, I will speak to Milnes, and have a poem written in praise of Richmond.

Sydney Smith.

513.] To the Countess Grey.
My dear Lady Grey,

How is Lord Grey going on? I conjecture that
what I read in the papers is true, and that your patient has really benefited by the gout, for such is the common order or sequence of medical events.

Suppose O’Connell to have used language violently seditious, that there is clear proof of it, and that it is possible to obtain anything like a fair trial, I think the Ministers have acted properly. The question is worth a battle or two; and, if the battle is to be fought (I mean the physical battle), it had better be at the time we choose, rather than at the time he chooses. We have no foreign war now; there is a good harvest, and an improving trade. I don’t think it a bad time for taking O’Connell by the beard, and then, the next Parliament, pay the Catholic clergy.

My prediction is, that Peel will be driven out by the concessions to be made to Ireland, and that it will fall to Lord John to destroy the absurd Protestant Church in that kingdom. It will hardly do to pay the priests; the thing is gone beyond that now. You must remove the flockless pastors, or the payment of the priesthood will be useless.

I think the Duke quite wrong about the sites for the new churches. I should feel very disaffected against inequality of possession, if I could not get a place for my altar. I am almost for compelling the landed possessor, under the verdict of an appraising jury, to sell me land for such purposes. I become irritable at this oppression. I think Lord Grey and you will catch the kindred flame.

Your affectionate friend,
Sydney Smith.

514.] To Lord Murray.
Combe Florey, Sept. 29th, 1843.
My dear Murray,

Jeffrey has written to me to say he means to dedicate his Essays to me. This I think a very great honour, and it pleases me very much. I am sure he ought to resign. He has very feeble health; a mild climate would suit the state of his throat. Mrs. Jeffrey thinks he could not employ himself. Wives know a great deal about husbands; but, if she is right, I should be surprised. I have thought he had a canine appetite for books, though this sometimes declines in the decline of life. I am beautifying my house in Green-street; a comfortable house is a great source of happiness. It ranks immediately after health and a good conscience. I see your religious war is begun in Scotland. I suppose Jeffrey will be at the head of the Free Church troops. Do you think he has any military talents?

You are, I hear, attending more to diet than heretofore. If you wish for anything like happiness in the fifth act of life, eat and drink about one-half what you could eat and drink. Did I ever tell you my calculation about eating and drinking? Having ascertained the weight of what I could live upon, so as to preserve health and strength, and what I did live upon, I found that, between ten and seventy years of age, I had eaten and drunk forty four-horse waggon-loads of meat and drink more than would have preserved me in life and health! The value of this mass of nourishment I considered to be worth seven thousand pounds sterling. It occurred to me that I must, by my vo-
racity, have starved to death fully a hundred persons. This is a frightful calculation, but irresistibly true; and I think, dear
Murray, your waggons would require an additional horse each!

Lord and Lady Lansdowne, who are rambling about this fine country, are to spend a day here next week. You must really come to see the West of England. From Combe Florey we will go together to Linton and Lynmouth, than which there is nothing finer in this island. Two of our acquaintance dead this week,—Stewart Mackenzie and Bell! We must close our ranks. God bless you, my dear Murray!

Sydney Smith.

515.] To the Rev. Sydney Smith.
[Inserted with the permission of tho Bishop of London.]

* See Memoir, p. 203.

516.] To R. Monckton Milnes, Esq.

517.] To Lord Murray.
56, Green-street, Nov. 9th, 1843.
My dear Murray,

I am afraid there is little chance of your coming so far as Combe Morey, but, if that could be done, it would give us sincere pleasure to show Mrs. Murray and yourself our very pretty country; in the meantime I shall look forward to the more probable chance of seeing you here.

Jeffrey’s legs have as little to support as any legs in the island; I cannot see why they should be out of order. I am delighted to find his general health so good. He is about to dedicate his Reviews to me. I said (what I sincerely felt) that I considered it as the greatest compliment ever paid to me. I shall be obliged to you for the herrings, and tell me, at the same time, how to dress them; but perhaps I mistake, and they are to be eaten naked.

Your exhortation comes too late. My letter in the ‘Chronicle’ was published before yours to me arrived.
It is generally found fault with, as being too favourable, and to this I plead guilty; but I find I get more mild as I get older, and more unwilling to be severe. But if they do not (in business phrase) ‘book up’ by Christmas, I shall set at them in good earnest. I have no sort of belief that they will ever pay, and I mean this week to sell out, I hope and believe at 61, five per cent, stock. Ever yours,

Sydney Smith.

518.] To Lady Ashburton.
Dogmersfield Park, Dec. 3rd, 1843.

Many thanks, dear Lady Ashburton; but on the 7th I must be at Combe Florey, and remain there till my emersion in February. I return to London on Monday, and depart again for home immediately. All joking apart,—the real impediment to making visits is, that derangeable health which belongs to old-age. I am never well when I arrive at a new house. The bread, the water, the hours, the bed, the change of bolster,—everything puts me out. I recover in two or three days, and then it is time to depart. This made the wise man say, that a man should give over arguing at thirty, riding at sixty, and visiting at seventy.

I am truly sorry you are not well. I consider Lord Ashburton and you as good friends, and I rejoice in your rejoicing, and am sorry for the ills which happen to you. I agree with you that —— is in the high road to Puseyism, and that —— is the postboy who is driving her there. She does not mind in the least what I say to her, and calls me a priest of Baal.

Pray give my kind regards to the Plenipotentiary;
first taking the necessary precaution to state where I live, my profession, age, or anything that will awaken in him a recollection that he has seen me before. Ever, dear
Lady Ashburton, most truly yours,

Sydney Smith.

519.] To Lord Murray.
Green-street, Dec. 4th, 1843.
* * * * *

I have just read an admirable review of Senior’s upon Ireland, for the next Edinburgh Review. Nothing can be wiser or better; at the same time, how can any two enlightened persons differ upon such a subject?

Pray do not put off coming to town next year, or, at least, coming to Combe Florey; for I am afraid I cannot put off dying much longer;—not that I am ill, but old. I am very glad you like my American Letters. The question is, will they make them angry or honest,—or both? I did not however mean to say what would make them pay, but to show them that their conduct had been shameful in not paying before, and should leave upon them this feeling, whether they ultimately paid or not.

Tell William Murray, with my kindest regards, to get for you, when he comes to town, a book called ‘Arabiniana, or Remains of Mr. Serjeant Arabin,’—very witty and humorous. It is given away—not sold, but I have in vain endeavoured to get a copy.

Sydney Smith.

520.] To the Countess Grey.
Combe Florey, Taunton, Dec. 10th, 1843.
My dear Lady Grey,

I hope you were amused with my attack upon the Americans. They really deserved it. It is a monstrous and increasing villany. Fancy a meeting in Philadelphia, convened by public advertisement, where they came to resolutions that the debt was too great for the people to pay, that the people could not pay it, and ought not to pay it! I have not a conception that the creditors will ever have a single shilling.

Tell Lord Grey I recommend to his attention, in the forthcoming Edinburgh Review, an article upon Ireland by Senior, the Master in Chancery, which I think admirable; it contains, in my humble estimation, an enumeration of the medicines, and a statement of the treatment, necessary for your distracted country; in defence of which I always state that it has at least produced Lady Grey.

I keep my health tolerably well: occasionally fits of gout, but my eyes are in good preservation; and while I can read and can write, I have no care about age. I should add another condition,—that I must have no pain. I am reading the Letters to George Selwyn, by which I am amused. Many of them are written with wit and spirit; they bring before me people of whom I know a little; and the notes are so copious, that the book makes a history of those times; certainly, a history of the manners and mode of life of the upper orders of society.

Remember me very kindly and affectionately to my
friend and patron
Lord Grey, and believe me as affectionately yours,

Sydney Smith.

521.] To Lord Murray.
Combe Florey, Dec. 17th, 1843.
My dear Murray,

Nothing can be better than the grouse; they arrived in perfect preservation, and gave great satisfaction. Lady —— is staying here. She seems to be a very sensible and very worthy person. I must do her the justice to say that when my jokes are explained to her, and she has leisure to reflect upon them, she laughs very heartily.

I am glad you like my American Letters. I see the rebound has taken place, and all the papers combine in abusing me. My firm opinion is, that they will never pay. The Legislature dares not impose the tax,—the people would never pay it. I shall not be unobservant of what is said in the American papers, and, if needs be, address a few more last words to Jonathan.

Be sure that you keep to your plan of coming to England at Easter, to be fresh dyed. Depend upon it, it will do you good.

Sydney Smith.

522.] To Mrs. Grote.
December 18th, 1843.

My dear Mrs. Grote, I hope the Irish fossils have reached you by this time, and that they are approved of.

* * * * *

My bomb has fallen very successfully in America, and the list of killed and wounded is extensive. I have several quires of paper sent me every day, calling me monster, thief, atheist, deist, etc. Duff Green sent me three pounds of cheese, and a Captain Monigan a large barrel of American apples. The last news from America will, I think, lower the Pennsylvanian funds.

I wonder how you are occupied. I am reading Montaigne. He thinks aloud, that is his great merit, but does not think remarkably well; mankind have improved in thinking and writing since that period. Have you read Senior’s article for the forthcoming Edinburgh Review? It is excellent, and does him great credit.

I went, while in town, one night to the Sartoris’, where Mrs. Sartoris was singing divinely. Your sincere friend,

Sydney Smith.

523.] To Mrs. Grote.
Combe Florey, Dec. 23, 1843.
Dear Mrs. Grote,

You are so energetic, that you never attend to anything in particular, but are always lost in generalities. I sent you a letter of Jeffrey’s, which you have not returned. Are you satisfied that your friend Faucher was treated as well as Lord Jeffrey’s health would permit?

You complain of the smallness of the potatoes: let me suggest the romantic plan of having the potatoes
picked; the large ones reserved for your table, the small ones for the pigs. It is by this ingenious and complicated process that the potatoes you get from the greengrocer in London are managed. There is no accounting for tastes. The potatoes I sent appear to me to be excellent.

You have planted seven hundred firs; the number is scarcely credible. Have you read the Swedish method of planting, under which the tree grows fourteen feet in one year? It consists in burying half a pound of tallow candles with every fir planted. I cannot believe it; but it is difficult to disbelieve what is published in a grave work.

Ever your sincere friend,
Sydney Smith.

524.] To Sir George Philips.
Combe Florey, Dec. 28th, 1843.
My dear Philips,

I am going to Bowood for five or six days next week. I shall find Bobus there, who will come on from thence here. He is very blind, but bears up against the evils of age heroically. The great question of the next Session will be the support of the Catholic clergy. Will Peel dare to bring it on? Will he be able to carry it in and out of the House, if he does? Longman has printed my American Letters in the shape of a small pamphlet, and it has a very great circulation. I receive presents of cheese and apples from Americans who are advocates for paying debts, and very abusive letters in print and in manuscript
from those who are not. I continue to think the Pennsylvanians will not pay; and so thinks, as I hear,
Jones Lloyd.

Your old and affectionate friend,
Sydney Smith.

525.] To Mrs. Holland.
December, 1843.
My dear Saba,

I will bear in mind the name and misfortunes of Mr. B., and if any opportunity occurs, will endeavour to make myself useful to him; but, as you may suppose, I am up to the ears in clergymen. Your mother sent you the flaming panegyric of me in the ‘Morning Chronicle’ (and sent it at my desire, because I am sure it would give you pleasure, as I see you have an honest pride in the praises of your father); whether right or wrong others must determine, if any one thinks about it; but I should really deserve some praise if I could write as well as my eulogist.

Your mother and I mean to have a twelfth-cake, and draw kings and queens alone. Pray desire G. Hibbert to let us know whether and when he will come, and don’t forget this message. Many thanks for your kindness in getting Charlotte Loch* a place; the misfortune of the poor girl is that she has not been taught millinery and mantuamaking. Give my love to all your party; and believe me,

Your affectionate father,
Sydney Smith.

* One of his parishioners, about whom he was interested.

526.] To Mrs. Holland.
Combe Florey, December.
My dearest Daughter,

Many pardons for not having written to you according to promise; but the calf and the kitchen-maid both kept their beds, George Strong had quinsy, and the shafts were broken. I had a very agreeable journey down, going in the public carriages,—an infinitely more agreeable method than in a private vehicle. I felt as little fatigue as in my arm-chair in this library, and could have gone on to the world’s end without being tired.

The whole country is divided between the Clerk of the Peace and Captain Mars, who has challenged him. Mars, the God of War, challenging the Clerk of the Peace! I am studying the question deeply, as is Cecil.

Not a breath of wind; a solemn stillness; all nature fast asleep; Storm and Tempest bound over to keep the peace! There never was such a period.

Love to Holland and the children.

Ever your affectionate father,
Sydney Smith.

527.] To his Grandchild.
On sending him a Letter over weight.

528.] To Miss Berry.

I hope, my dear friend, you are well. I met the lofty P—— on the railroad, and he gave me some account of you, but not enough for my ravenous desire of your welfare. Oh, happy woman! the suburban beauties of Richmond were not enough; but Providence sent you ——, a woman of piety and ancient faith; and the preux chevalier, sans peur et sans reproche!

Mrs. Sydney and I are tolerably well. The diminished temperature has restored my locomotive powers, such as they are; but in the dog-days I could not move.

We have had Tommy Moore and Lady Morley, and a few more unknown to fame. Dr. Holland has just made a rush from Combe Florey to Jerusalem. By the bye, I saw a piece of news the other day, in which a gentleman made his good fortune known to the world in the public papers. “Last week the Rev. Elias Johnson was made Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of Jerusalem!” I should like to know what his questions are to the candidates.

I presume you have never been a day without crowds. Has the Davy glittered at Richmond? By deaths and
marriages the world is thinned since we met. My kindest regards to
Lady Charlotte, to both of you, and those of Mrs. Sydney. Yours,

Sydney Smith.

529.] To the Countess of Morley.*
No date.
Dear Lady Morley,

Pray understand me rightly: I do not give the Bluecoat theory as an established fact, but as a highly probable conjecture; look at the circumstances. At a very early age young Quakers disappear, at a very early age the Coat-boys are seen; at the age of seventeen or eighteen young Quakers are again seen; at the same age, the Coat-boys disappear: who has ever heard of a Coat-man? The thing is utterly unknown in natural history. Upon what other evidence does the migration of the grub into the aurelia rest? After a certain number of days the grub is no more seen, and the aurelia flutters over his relics. That such a prominent fact should have escaped our naturalists is truly astonishing; I had long suspected it, but was afraid to come out with a speculation so bold, and now mention it as protected and sanctioned by you.

Dissection would throw great light upon the question; and if our friend —— would receive two boys into his house about the time of their changing their coats, great service would be rendered to the cause.

Our friend Lord Grey, not remarkable for his attention to natural history, was a good deal struck with the

* This letter, without date, seems to have been after a conversation given in the Narrative, page 350, where the subject is alluded to.

novelty and ingenuity of the hypothesis. I have ascertained that the young Bluecoat infants are fed with drab-coloured pap, which looks very suspicious. More hereafter on this interesting subject. Where real science is to be promoted, I will make no apology to your Ladyship for this intrusion. Yours truly,

Sydney Smith.

530.] From the Countess of Morley.
No date.

Had I received your letter two days since, I should have said your arguments and theory were perfectly convincing, and that the most obstinate sceptic must have yielded to them; but I have come across a person in that interval who gives me information which puts us all at sea again. That the Bluecoat boy should be the larva of the Quaker in Great Britain is possible, and even probable, but we must take a wider view of the question; and here, I confess, I am bewildered by doubts and difficulties. The Bluecoat is an indigenous animal—not so the Quaker; and now be so good as to give your whole mind to the facts I have to communicate. I have seen and talked much with Sir R. Ker Porter on this interesting subject. He has travelled over the whole habitable globe, and has penetrated with a scientific and scrutinizing eye into regions hitherto unexplored by civilized man; and yet he has never seen a Quaker baby. He has lived for years in Philadelphia (the national nest of Quakers); he has roamed up and down Broadways and lengthways in every nook and corner of Pennsylvania; and yet he never saw a Quaker baby; and what is new and most
striking, never did he see a Quaker lady in a situation which gave hope that a Quaker baby might be seen hereafter. This is a stunning fact, and involving the question in such impenetrable mystery as will, I fear, defy even your sagacity, acuteness, and industry to elucidate. But let us not be checked and cast down; truth is the end and object of our research. Let us not bate one jot of heart and hope, but still bear up and steer our course right onward.

Yours most truly,
F. Morley.

531.] To the Countess of Morley.*
* * * * *