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My Friends and Acquaintance
Horace & James Smith II

Vol I Contents
Charles Lamb I
Charles Lamb II
Charles Lamb III
Charles Lamb IV
Charles Lamb V
Charles Lamb VI
Charles Lamb VII
Charles Lamb VIII
Charles Lamb IX
Charles Lamb X
Thomas Campbell I
Thomas Campbell II
Thomas Campbell III
Thomas Campbell IV
Thomas Campbell V
Thomas Campbell VI
Thomas Campbell VII
Lady Blessington I
Lady Blessington II
Lady Blessington III
Lady Blessington IV
Lady Blessington V
R. Plumer Ward I
R. Plumer Ward II
R. Plumer Ward III
R. Plumer Ward IV
R. Plumer Ward V
R. Plumer Ward VI
Appendix vol I
Vol II Contents
R. Plumer Ward VII
R. Plumer Ward VIII
R. Plumer Ward IX
R. Plumer Ward X
R. Plumer Ward XI
R. Plumer Ward XII
R. Plumer Ward XIII
R. Plumer Ward XIV
R. Plumer Ward XV
R. Plumer Ward XVI
R. Plumer Ward XVII
R. Plumer Ward XVIII
R. Plumer Ward XIX
R. Plumer Ward XX
R. Plumer Ward XXI
R. Plumer Ward XXII
R. Plumer Ward XXIII
Horace & James Smith I
‣ Horace & James Smith II
William Hazlitt I
William Hazlitt II
William Hazlitt III
William Hazlitt IV
William Hazlitt V
William Hazlitt VI
William Hazlitt VII
William Hazlitt VIII
Appendix vol II
Vol III Contents
William Hazlitt IX
William Hazlitt X
William Hazlitt XI
William Hazlitt XII
William Hazlitt XIII
William Hazlitt XIV
William Hazlitt XV
William Hazlitt XVI
William Hazlitt XVII
William Hazlitt XVIII
William Hazlitt XIX
William Hazlitt XX
William Hazlitt XXI
William Hazlitt XXII
William Hazlitt XXIII
William Hazlitt XXIV
William Hazlitt XXV
William Hazlitt XXVI
Laman Blanchard I
Laman Blanchard II
Laman Blanchard III
Laman Blanchard IV
Laman Blanchard V
Laman Blanchard VI
Laman Blanchard VII
Laman Blanchard VIII
R & T Sheridan I
R & T Sheridan II
R & T Sheridan III
R & T Sheridan IV
R & T Sheridan V
R & T Sheridan VI
R & T Sheridan VII
R & T Sheridan VIII
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For some years subsequent to the period just referred to, Horace Smith confined his literary efforts to light and ephemeral magazine papers, in prose and verse. Having, however, in the meantime retired from city life, with a competent fortune, and, finding that the only safe and permanent road to literary fame, and large profits from it, was that which had been recently opened by Walter Scott, he determined to try his hand at a prose fiction, under the three volume novel form. And this brings me to the incident in his literary career which has chiefly induced me to offer the foregoing and subsequent details to the reader. I must premise, however, that I should not have felt myself justified in making public the anecdote and correspondence which follows, but that
Horace Smith himself has referred to it in his preface to the last edition of “
Brambletye House,” and in that spirit of generous and ingenuous candour, which was a marked feature of his estimable character.

Perhaps I cannot better introduce the Correspondence which follows, than by giving the passage above referred to, from the preface to the last edition of “Brambletye House.”

“Having learnt that I had composed a work of fiction, which, however, no one had then seen, he, Mr. Colburn, wrote me a flattering letter, offering so liberal a sum for the copyright, that, with a mingled feeling of surprise and gratification, I acceded to his proposal, and forwarded him the papers. It is customary with publishers to submit their manuscripts to competent readers, for the purposes of revision. The gentleman upon whom the task devolved in the present instance, and who was a perfect stranger to me, sent me a friendly and admirably-written letter, earnestly dissuading me from printing a work which, as he felt well assured, would disappoint the expectations of the public,
and be far from conferring upon me a degree of literary reputation to which I might justly aspire. That I was deeply mortified at this unpalatable and unexpected communication, I will not affect to deny; but, as I had implicit confidence in the sincerity, as well as the good judgment, of my adviser, I resolved instantly to suppress my unlucky attempt, and endeavour to produce something better. I got back my papers, hurried home, and for fear of any wavering in my good intentions, committed them without delay to the flames. When I compared the time and trouble my work had cost me, with the alarming rapidity of its disappearance, as sheet after sheet became converted into tinder, it must be admitted that I felt some “compunctious visitings of nature,” although I endeavoured to “lay the flattering unction to my soul,” that I was evincing no small degree of fortitude, in thus turning into smoke the handsome sum that I was to have received for the copyright. My next attempt assumed a historical form, and in five months I completed and forwarded, as a substitute for ‘The Gentleman in Black,’ the novel of
Brambletye House.’”—Preface to last edition of Brambletye House.

The following is a copy of the letter referred to by Mr. Horace Smith in the foregoing statement. Its insertion seems necessary to a full understanding of that which follows it:—

“To Horatio Smith, Esq.

Sir,—I fear you will think me officious in what I am about to say to you; but I hope, and indeed expect, that you will not think me impertinent; because you will perceive that I can have but one motive for the step I am taking. You are, of course, aware that publishers, before they finally arrange for the publication of any considerable work, are in the habit of consulting some ‘literary friend’ in whose judgment they think they can confide, as to the character, &c., of the work in question. In pursuance of this practice, Mr. Colburn has placed in my hands the MS. of your novel entitled ‘The Gentleman in Black,’ mentioning to me that it is yours, simply because he supposed that, as I am in the habit of reading all that you write,
I could not have proceeded far in the perusal of this work without making that discovery for myself.

“I have accordingly perused the work with great care; and I now, after much hesitation, and with unfeigned diffidence and embarrassment, venture to address you, instead of Mr. Colburn, on the subject.

“You will readily believe that I have had some difficulty in making up my mind to do this at all. But I assure you that the mode in which I am to do it is still more perplexing to me. As, however, the shortest mode will doubtless be the one least unpleasant to you, I shall at once adopt that. In a word, then—is your own opinion as to the merits of the MS. I have just read entirely settled? Of course, I mean so far as a writer can feel that he is able to judge of his own work. And if your opinion about it is settled, have you fully made up your mind to give this work to the world?

“As I am not in a position to obtain replies to these questions, I must go on to say—if you have not fully determined on the publication of the ‘Gentleman in Black,’ let me entreat you to reconsider of it, and to place
the MS. in the hands of some literary friend (if such an one there be), who has at once a sufficiently sincere regard for you, personally, to dare to tell you the truth, and a sufficiently firm judgment to prevent his opinion from being biassed by that regard.

“I could willingly stop here, but as I have voluntarily ‘tied myself to the stake,’ it would be cowardice not to ‘fight the course.’ I will therefore add, that if, instead of being a stranger to you personally, I were such a friend as I have just fancied, I should earnestly entreat you not to publish the work at all.

“Probably if I were saying this to you instead of writing it, your first question (if you chose to listen to me at all on the subject) would be—‘Why?’ And the reply to it would puzzle me not a little. But as it is, I find the reply still more difficult; for to go into any detailed remarks on your work, without being able to judge whether or not you are likely to have perused this letter even thus far, without throwing it into the fire, would be an impertinence. I must, therefore, content myself with saying, gene-
rally, that a most careful perusal and consideration of your MS. has convinced me that it cannot be published as yours without greatly injuring your reputation—or rather, that it cannot be published at all without doing so; because, whether you avow it or not, it must and will be known as yours.

“Perhaps, as I have been tempted to say thus much, I ought to proceed into something like detail, in order to bear out the general opinion I am expressing. But (to say nothing of my fear that I have already said too much) I not only expect, but earnestly hope, that my opinion—the value of which, whatever it may be, you cannot possibly know—will have no further influence on you than to induce you to reconsider the matter yourself, and to procure the opinion of some other person on whom you can depend.

“And now, Sir, I really feel myself called upon to apologise for addressing the above observations to you, and to suggest—I had almost said to invent—excuses for so doing. But perhaps the real reason for doing a thing is always, between honest men, the best after all, both for giver and receiver. The truth,
then, is, that if I had not known whose the work in question was, I should simply have expressed my opinion about it to
Mr. Colburn purely as a matter of business, and then not have thought or cared anything more about the consequences of that opinion, except in so far as they might affect the interests of the gentleman who placed the work in my hands. I hope you will not think I am increasing rather than excusing the obtrusiveness of this letter, when I add, that, on finding the work to be yours, I read it with very different feelings from what I otherwise should. In fact, I have never read the most trifling of your essays in the periodicals of the day without being not only amused but bettered by the perusal; and even from them, but still more from what I have been in the way of hearing from persons who have been long acquainted with you, I had conceived a personal respect for your character, which has tempted me to do an unusual, and I still almost fear you may think an impertinent thing, in order to induce you to pause, and seriously reconsider, before you finally determine on doing what may (and what in my
opinion most certainly will) not only not increase, but greatly diminish that literary reputation which you now enjoy, and which, though comparatively circumscribed, is perhaps the most enviable one possessed by any literary man of the present day.

“In order that what I have now said may not place or leave you in any uncertainty as to your position with Mr. Colburn in this matter, I think it necessary to add that I have not taken this step without letting him know that I intended, or rather that I desired, to do so; for if he had expressed any objection to my offering you the advice I have now ventured to give, I should have felt myself bound not to offer it—for reasons which will be obvious to you.

“It may be proper for me to add further, that, in case you should still determine on publishing this novel, nothing that I either have said or need say to Mr. Colburn respecting it will be calculated to interfere with any arrangements that you may wish to make with him—my general opinion of the work being that, even without your name, it is likely to meet with a fair share of success, and that
with your name its mere popular success can scarcely fail to be very considerable.

“In conclusion, let me say, that if my name would give any additional weight to the opinion I have expressed above, I should feel no hesitation in subscribing it; but it would not. I should therefore only be taking a still further liberty in subscribing it.

“I am, Sir,
“Your obedient servant,
“ * * *.”

To this letter the writer received the following reply:—

“No. 14, Regent Street, Friday,
“Nov. 12, 1824.

“Sir,—Beginning with thanking you most cordially for the frank, friendly, and delicate manner in which you have executed your unpleasant commission respecting my attempt, I beg to assure you, that if we had known one another personally (a pleasure and advantage to myself which I still hope to enjoy), you would have felt little or none of that difficulty and embarrassment to which you allude. Always distrustful of my own trifling productions, nobody has been more
astonished than myself at the incommensurate notice which some of them have obtained; and I am, therefore, not less sincerely obliged to any friend for his opinion, than disposed to yield to it an implicit obedience. Hearing that such a thing was in existence,
Mr. Colburn, with his usual promptitude and liberality, wrote to make me an offer for my novel, which I accepted, as he can confirm to you, on two conditions—first, that my name should not be committed; and, secondly, that it should be submitted to some competent person to decide upon its fitness for publication at all. Some little deviation has certainly taken place from the former condition in the way it was announced in the last ‘New Monthly;’ but it is unimportant now, as your friendly advice will of course induce me to make an immediate auto-da-fé of Mr. Isaac Spurlingford and all his heretical associates. As leisure offers, however, I may make another, and I hope a better, effort against the season of next year, which I should put into Mr. Colburn’s hands; and nothing would give me more confidence than the prospect of looking forward to the same
able and judicious counsel which, I verily believe, has done me an essential service in the present instance. On Mr. C.’s account, even more than on my own, I am happy that I was provident enough to stipulate for this previous supervision.

“It might look like affectation were I to say that I am not vexed at having misspent my time. But I can from my heart declare, that the sentiments of esteem with which you are pleased to honour my character as a man, more than compensate any little disappointment which I may feel as a scribbler.

“Again begging you to accept my sincere acknowledgments, I am, Sir, your obliged and grateful servant,

“Horatio Smith.”

It should seem, from Mr. Horace Smith’s statement in the extract I have given from his preface to “Brambletye House,” that the remonstrance which was the chief object of the following letter, as to his intended precipitate sacrifice of his first attempt at novel-writing, either came too late or was disregarded:—

“To Horatio Smith, Esq.

Sir,—Mr. Colburn has just given me your letter, the terms of which, I need scarcely say, are very gratifying to me. It tempts me, however, to take the liberty of addressing you a second time—partly with a view to correct an error into which you appear to have fallen in respect to my first letter; but chiefly on another account.

“You speak of the ‘unpleasant commission’ which I have executed. This makes me fear that you may have received my letter as the result of an understanding between Mr. Colburn and myself, that that would be the best mode of making you acquainted with the opinion which, according to your express wish, he had obtained respecting your work. I am anxious that you should not suppose this to have been the case, simply because, in point of fact, it was not the case. If it had been so, I should then indeed have been executing ‘an unpleasant commission’—or rather it would have been one that I should have refused to execute at all—because I consider that my only fair excuse for venturing to address you was (if I may
so express it) that personal feeling which I had accustomed myself to entertain in regard to you; and which ‘excuse’ would, in fact, have been one of those which are more properly written ‘pretence,’ if I had been executing a mere ‘commission.’

“I will say no more on this point. Indeed I am afraid you may already think I am ‘considering too curiously’—especially as I feel that the point in question would not, of itself, have entitled me to trouble you a second time.

“My chief reason for addressing you now is the hasty determination (you must allow me to call it so) to which you seem to have come, in consequence of what I said concerning your work. I am not going to affect any particular modesty in regard to the value of my opinion on a point like the one in question; and if you yourself had had any opportunity of judging as to that value, and had then chosen to abide by it, I should have had nothing to say. Nay—if I had gone somewhat into detail concerning the work, and given any express reasons for the unfavourable opinion I entertained of it,
I own that I should not have been either surprised or sorry at your feeling satisfied with them. But when you tell me that you shall at once, and without hesitation, sacrifice the result of a considerable portion of your time and thought, merely on the strength of a general opinion, of which (permit me to say) you cannot know the value, I feel an anxiety and responsibility which I had no intention of incurring when I ventured to address you.

“You will perhaps say that the affair is one for your consideration alone. But to this I must reply—not exactly, and for the reason I have just hinted at. In fact, it never for a moment occurred to me that you would think of doing more than I had urged you to do. The utmost that I anticipated or hoped from my letter was that you would pause and consider, and take further means of ascertaining whether my advice was worth attending to. I assure you that if I had wished my letter to produce any other result than this, I should have written it in different terms. If, therefore, its effect was any other, it arose from my
not having expressed myself with due clearness. As the matter stands at present, it is purely a submission of your judgment to mine—which is what I am really alarmed at incurring the responsibility of—especially as my opinion as to the propriety of suppressing the work rested almost entirely on the fact of its being your work, and not (as it is) a work more or less fit for publication.

“Probably your reply will still be—that all this is for your consideration. I cannot deny it—and I have done: for my object in troubling you now is, not to again urge anything upon your consideration, but only to absolve myself from the imputation as well as the responsibility of having presumed to offer you a judgment that could by possibility become a final one on such a point.

“Long as I fear you will find this letter, I cannot conclude it without alluding to a few words at the beginning of yours, which seem to point at the possibility of our not remaining unknown to each other. If I have never sought this pleasure, and cannot persuade myself to seek it even now, it is because I feel with the most unfeigned humi-
lity that I have nothing whatever to offer you (except gratitude) in return for the advantage it would be likely to afford me.

“I am, Sir,
“Your obedient servant,
“ * * *.”

Whether or not Horace Smith deemed the concluding paragraph of the foregoing letter a cold and ungracious greeting of his advance towards a personal acquaintance, instead of being (as it was) a diffident waiting for a further advance on his part—certain it is that he never made any subsequent advance—nor was I anxious to receive one—believing as I did, and do, that it is not in human nature—at all events, not in literary human nature—to entertain feelings of complacency towards the man who has succeeded in satisfying us that we are not so clever as we had fancied ourselves. And this view of the matter was confirmed by the fact, that, when we several years afterwards become personally acquainted, Horace Smith never alluded to the subject, though, in the interim, he had, as I understood, become acquainted with the name of his volunteer adviser.


Some years after the date of the above correspondence, but before I was personally acquainted with Horace Smith, the strong feeling I had always entertained as to his literary tact and judgment, and my strong confidence in the frank generosity of his personal character, induced me to “give him his revenge,” by submitting to his judgment a work, to which I attached as much value as I could persuade myself to do to anything of my own production. I had commissioned the mutual friend who handed the work to Horace Smith, to let him know, if he thought proper, that the writer of the comedy and of the disparaging remarks on “The Gentleman in Black” was one and the same person, but had specially stipulated for my name being withheld from him. Thus the case was evidently one of that class contemplated in the well-known wish that “mine enemy would write a book.” Whether the laudatory portions of the result, as given below, are to be attributed to sound judgment and honest approval, or to the generous forbearance of one who holds his too candid critic at his mercy, is more than I shall pretend to decide.


Here follow Horace Smith’s remarks on the work thus submitted to his critical judgment. It was a regular comedy of the old school.*

“It is many years since I resided in London, or even saw a play there, and such marked changes have latterly occurred in the conduct of our theatres and the dramatic taste of the public, that I feel some hesitation in offering an opinion upon this comedy as adapted to an audience of the present day. But I have no difficulty whatever in declaring that, when measured by the very best works of a similar class that I have either seen or read,† it seems to me to be one of those genuine and legitimate comedies that ought to command a great and undoubted success. Its merits are of a high order—sterling—indisputable; and, if they be not recognised as such, I can only repeat that the public taste must have been changed very much for the worse.

“So much for the general impression pro-

* This comedy has just been published, under the title of “Marriage in May Fair.”

† The italics are the writer’s own.

duced by its perusal. Now, for the objections that have occurred to me, and which, very probably, would not have occurred to me had I been more conversant with the actual stage.

“I don’t like the title, which will tempt the wags to turn the play into ridicule, should it not be very favourably received, and which may be avoided by prefixing the word ‘assumed,’ or ‘affected.’

“The first act, I think, would bear a little compression. In these days, when so much bustle is required, I would not make the whole act (however the unities may be preserved) consist of only one scene. Change of scene, even from one room to another, keeps attention awake, and assists an audience, just as a frequent division into chapters enlivens a reader.

“Act ii., p. 2. I agree with Mr. Ward, in thinking that it is rather hazardous to say too much about Belton’s wit; for it makes it deuced difficult to write up to your own character. Parts of this act recal ‘The School for Scandal;’ and, in the next act, I was reminded of ‘The Road to Ruin;’ but in neither case is there anything more than
a general resemblance, nor anything that I would alter.

“Act iv., p. 1. Lady Falkland’s talking of a separation, on so very slight a foundation, is too strong. Might she not say,—‘Some wives, if they were thus treated, would insist on a separation,’ &c.

“Act v., last scene. If Belton is to be dismissed without any redeeming traits, or feelings of repentance, I think he gets off too cheaply. Couldn’t he be more completely humiliated and exposed? Nor would I dismiss him with a threat that points to a duel, and leaves a doubt upon the minds of the audience whether the comedy, after all, may not have a tragic conclusion.

“I agree with Mr. Ward in thinking that more might be made of Emma,—particularly in some scenes with her brother, and that she is unnecessarily lowered by being so very easily bestowed upon Wildgoose. I am also of opinion, that the audience ought to be let into Madame Beaumonde’s honest intentions, that they might sympathise with her, as she proceeds to carry them into effect, and enjoy more the defeat of Belton.

“I have now stated every objection that
occurred to me,—many of which, as it will be seen, are extremely frivolous; but I wished to state my impressions fully and candidly. Let me repeat, however, I am no judge of dramatic writing as it is now pursued, and that, if the author of such a comedy as this cannot insure success, he has at least deserved it.

“H. S.
“6th Oct., 1838.”

It was two or three years after the date last referred to, that I became personally acquainted with Horace Smith, at a literary dinner-party at the house of a mutual friend; and I have never met with a literary man, whose personal bearing was, on this first abord, more entirely and agreeably answerable to the social and intellectual reputation he had enjoyed for so many years: for he was at this time considerably advanced in life.

As Horace Smith had, at the period I now refer to, retired from London life, and constantly resided at Brighton, my subsequent personal acquaintance with him remained very slight. It would, therefore, be inconsistent with the plan and principle of these Recollections, for me to attempt any estimate
of his personal and intellectual character. But it may be not improper for me to record my impression, that no man ever more fully merited the enviable reputation he enjoyed, as among the most frank, amiable, and gentlemanly of men—a reputation which fairly overlaid and extinguished that which belonged to his literary pretensions, as the chief writer of the most famous publication of its day, and the author of several of our most popular and approved works of fiction. It was, in fact, the rare attainment of Horace Smith, during the time I knew him, to have nothing professional—nothing of the author about him—rare, I mean, in connexion with the fact, not only that he was an author by profession, but that he was so devoted to that profession, as to derive the chief pleasure and amusement of his life from the practice of it; though his worldly circumstances made its pecuniary results a matter of comparative indifference to him. The only trace of authorship that showed itself in Horace Smith, was that rare and valuable esprit de corps, which caused him to feel a strong and lively interest in the pretensions of all rising aspi-
rants for literary distinction, and a desire to testify that interest by every means in his power; and his house, during the whole period of his residence at Brighton, was the receptacle of all that was distinguished in the pursuit to which he had devoted the last five and twenty years of his fortunate and happy life.

The following letter will speak for itself.

Horatio Smith to P. G. Patmore.
“Brighton, 12 Cavendish Place, July 1, 1844.

“Dear Sir,—Many thanks to you and Mr. Moxon, for the little volume of poems by your son, which I have just perused with very great pleasure; and beg leave most sincerely to congratulate you on the true feeling of poetry which they evince, and the promise they afford of his attaining no mean station in literature, since he can accomplish so much in the outset of his career. The times, we are daily told, are not poetical; but I cannot, and do not, believe, that the simple and natural effusions of the Muse will ever lose their attraction. The subject of the Woodman’s Daughter is painful, but it is very
cleverly and delicately treated. As was to be expected from the youth of the writer, there is, perhaps, a predominance of love stories—an objection, if it be one, which would not have occurred to me thirty or forty years ago—when I was still older than your son. The
Boccacio story of the Hawk pleases me the most, but they are all full of talent and of promise. Pray convey to the young bard my best wishes for his success, and believe me ever, dear Sir,

“Yours, very truly,
“Horatio Smith.”


James Smith was very different from his brother Horace in all the qualities and attributes of his mind and intellectual character, with the exception of his lively wit, amiable and popular manners, and singularly gentlemanly bearing and personal appearance. In this latter respect James Smith was all his
life a model; and this, although he had been bred and brought up in the city, and passed nearly the whole of his life there. I have never seen a man on whom was more legibly and eloquently written that comprehensive title, “Gentleman.”

My first sight of James Smith, and its result, so strongly and singularly confirm this feeling, that I will venture to relate the odd circumstances attending it. I had repeatedly heard him spoken of generally in the above sense by his friends, but had not heard his personal appearance described, and had certainly not seen any portrait of him, or attempted to form to myself any specific notion whatever of his “complement extern,” when, in passing up Ludgate Hill, I met a person of whom I said to myself as he passed me—“that, I think, must be James Smith.”

The supposition that one could thus fix a man’s identity purely by instinct, seemed so ridiculous on the face of it, that I never thought of the matter again till about two years afterwards, when I met, at the house of the late Charles Mathews, at Highgate,
my Ludgate Hill model of a gentleman, and he was introduced to me as “
Mr. James Smith.”

The reader will perhaps smile incredulously at this little history; but it is simply true nevertheless.

James Smith, though certainly not possessing a larger amount of wit and humour than his brother Horace, was essentially and emphatically “a wit”—in the old-fashioned sense of the age of Anne and her immediate successor. Had he lived in those days, he would have been among the favourite habitués of Button’s and Wills’s, and would have manfully asserted and maintained his station among the best of that brilliant day. As it was—though, like his brother, associating with the highest and most cultivated spirits of the day in which he lived, and fully qualified to take a distinguished place among them—unlike that gentle and genial spirit, he preferred those lower and more limited circles in which his intellectual pretensions were paramount and his supremacy undisputed: he preferred the green-rooms of Covent Garden and Drury Lane to Holland
House; and so anxious and determined was he to succeed in establishing the social reputation at which he aimed in both these circles, that I’m afraid there is little doubt of his having made it no unimportant part of the business of his life to manufacture beforehand the appliances and means proper to his success; so that you could never be sure of any one of his droll anecdotes, lively sallies, bitter jests, or biting repartees, that it was not fait à loisir. I have never met with any man, except
Theodore Hook, who came into society so completely “light armed with points, antitheses, and puns” as James Smith always did, or who so skilfully managed to plant and play them off. But, unlike Theodore Hook’s, they were evidently not the joyous birth of the moment, but either the growth of careful thought and deliberate concoction, or (like the stolen children of the gipsies) disfigured to make them pass for his own. I will illustrate what I have said by extracting from my diary two or three of James Smith’s jokes—débitéd at the pleasant after-dinner-table of Charles Mathews—where chiefly I was in the habit of meeting him.


On Mathews’s neighbour, Mrs. Coutts, afterwards the Duchess of St. Albans, being mentioned, James Smith related the following story, à propos to her early career:—“I was lately present,” said J. S., “when two elderly ladies were discussing, in a stagecoach, the character and doings of Mrs. Coutts. Among other things, after going through a long list of her alleged iniquities, one of the ladies, professing to be very liberal in her estimate of the character they were handling, and not disposed to make out the subject of their discourse as worse than she really was, said that she had just been reading a biographical sketch of her life, in the course of which, in describing the various blandishments she had used to attract and gratify her aged patron, it was stated (in a quoted line of verse) that she had—
“Hopped in his walks, and gambolled in his sight.”

“Now, ma’am,” said the speaker, “this I take to be a piece of scandal; and scandal about any woman is what I never will encourage or circulate. Mrs. Coutts has plenty of faults, no doubt; but I don’t think she
gambles—at least, I have never heard that she does.”

On the same day, he told a story in illustration of the blissful ignorance of a certain city millionaire. A friend met him at Brighton, just after he had been shampooed by the celebrated black man, Mahomet; and he was saying that, though he had undergone the operation a great many times, he didn’t find that it had done him any good. “Then,” said his friend, who we may suppose to have been a joker of the James Smith school, “I suppose you consider that he is Mahomet the Impostor.” “Oh no!” said the good-natured Sir William, as if shocked at the idea of saying anything that might hurt the poor man’s reputation—“Oh no! I don’t say that—I don’t say that.”

Now these stories, droll as they are, bear something upon the face of them which more than indicate their origin to have been the brain of the relator; and it was the same with nearly all James Smith’s spoken facetiæ. He was a wit, certainly; but he was more of a wag than a wit, and more of a pleasant, because well-conditioned egotist than either.


This view of James Smith’s intellectual pretensions, as compared with those of his younger brother, the simple-hearted, kindly, generous, and unpretending Horace, is confirmed by the fact that all, or nearly all, the best parts of the “Rejected Addresses” were written by the latter. This is the case with the Byron, Scott, Moore, Fitzgerald, &c.

Though living to an advanced age, and devoted during the whole of his life to the duties of an absorbing profession;* and though during the last fifteen years of that life he was a martyr to bodily infirmities, and for years before his death could only move about on crutches, James Smith nevertheless preserved to the last that gaiety of heart, that cheerful temperament, and that “spirit of youth,” which, in fact, were the main secrets of his social as well as his literary success.

* He was at an early age articled to his father, an eminent legal practitioner, and solicitor to the Ordnance, and succeeded him in the latter appointment.