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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Chapter IV
Sydney Smith to Gerrard Andrews, [1806]

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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“Dear Sir,

“I am about to address myself to you upon a subject which very materially concerns my happiness and interest, and on which therefore I am sure you will consider, with as much disposition to befriend a brother clergyman as you can entertain consistently with your duty. Messrs. —— and Co. have agreed to let me a lease of the chapel in —— street: will you, under any restrictions, and upon any conditions, allow me to preach there?

“In the first place, I cannot doubt that where a place of worship is to exist in your parish, you would rather that the worship of the Church of England
were carried on there, than that it should belong to such sectaries as the Christians of the New Jerusalem (as they entitle themselves). I should have greater reluctance in making this request if the places of worship in your parish were thinly attended, or if they were more than sufficient for the population of the parish; but, on the contrary, numbers are sent away every Sunday from your church, for want of room. Many families have in vain waited for years to obtain seats there; and the other chapels-of-ease I understand to be quite filled, though they cannot be said to be so overflowing. This chapel does not hold above three hundred and fifty persons, exclusive of servants; the mere overflowings of your church would fill it.

“It is, I admit, of great importance for you to consider whether I am, or am not, such a person as you would wish to perform the duties of a minister in your parish. This you can easily enough ascertain. I have officiated nearly two years in Berkeley Chapel, where the Primate of Ireland, the Bishop of Lichfield, and Dr. Dutens have seats: of the two former gentlemen I know nothing; with Dr. Dutens I am well acquainted. If these three dignified and respectable clergymen have any objection to make to my doctrines, I do not wish that the request I make to you should be successful, and I am the first to withdraw it. But if they say of me that my preaching commands attention, that I have any talent for enforcing moral and religious truth, and that I may be beneficially entrusted with such an office in any situation,—such testimony,
I am sure, will have its due weight with you, and if you can let me preach, you will. It has often been said of the proprietors of chapels, that they are rather apt to tell such truths as are pleasant, than such as are useful. I appeal to the same gentlemen, whether the fear of offending any one, let his rank and situation be what it may, has ever prevented me from enforcing duties on which I thought myself bound to animadvert; and you will excuse me if I say that you yourself, who have nothing to gain by pleasing or to lose by offending, have not attacked the vices of the rich and the great with more honest freedom than I have done, though your superior years, station, and understanding have of course enabled you to do it with much greater effect.

“My pretensions however of this nature must of course be judged by others. But of my situation in life (as I am the only judge of it) I hope you will allow me to say a few words. I am a married man, with two children, and as I am young my family may increase; I have a very small fortune, no preferment, nor any friends who are likely to give me any. The chapel where I preach at present will, I fancy, soon be sold; and it is not impossible that the clergyman who can afford to purchase it may choose to preach himself. It is not for want of exertion, my situation in the Church is not better, for I have not been idle in the narrow and obscure field which is open to the inferior clergy. I hope you will have the kindness to consider these circumstances, before you refuse me the oppor-
tunity of supporting my family and bettering my situation by my own exertions.

“A few years ago, my dear Sir, when your situation was what mine is, such considerations would have touched you, and you would have acknowledged their force. You know well the difficulties and the miseries of a curate’s life; and I am sure you are the last man in the world to forget them, merely because you have overcome them with so much honour and distinction. I am aware it will be necessary to apply to the patron of the living if your answer should be favourable to me, but I fancy it is regular to make the first application to you; and I rather write than call upon you, because I think it unfair, on such subjects, to take gentlemen by surprise, where sufficient leisure ought to be given for deliberation. In a week’s time I will call upon you for an answer; if you grant my request, T shall feel very grateful to you. I shall receive your answer with great anxiety, and am,

“My dear Sir, with great respect,
“Your obedient servant,
“Sydney Smith.”