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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Letters 1804
Sydney Smith to Francis Jeffrey, [April or May 1804]

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
London, 1804.
My dear Jeffrey,

I can hardly believe my own eyes when they inform me that I am up, dressed, and writing by eight o’clock in the morning; and as there is nobody near by whose

* The loss of her infant son.

perceptions I can rectify my own, the fact will probably be undecided through the whole of my letter. To put the question to an intellectual test, I have tried an act of memory, and endeavoured to form a distinct image of the editor of the
Edinburgh Review; but he appears to me of a stature so incredibly small, that I cannot venture to say I am awake, and my mind in a healthy and vigorous state: however, you must take me as you find me. Talking of the Edinburgh Review, I hardly think the article on Dumont is much liked by those whose praise I should be most desirous you should obtain; though it conciliates the favour of men who are always ready to join in a declaration of war against all works of speculation and philosophical enterprise; but when I speak in dispraise of this article, I only contrast it with what you have done better; for, in spite of its errors (if any such there be), it would make the fortune of anybody else.

I certainly, my dear Jeffrey, in conjunction with the Knight of the Shaggy Eyebrows,* do protest against your increasing and unprofitable scepticism. I exhort you to restrain the violent tendency of your nature for analysis, and to cultivate synthetical propensities. What is virtue? What’s the use of truth? What’s the use of honour? What’s a guinea but a d—d yellow circle? The whole effort of your mind is to destroy. Because others build slightly and eagerly, you employ yourself in kicking down their houses, and contract a sort of aversion for the more honourable, useful, and difficult task of building well yourself.

I think you ought to know Horner too well by this time to expect his article on Malthus before you see it.

* Francis Horner, Esq.


The satire against me I have not yet read. One of the charges against me is, I understand, that I am ugly; but this is a mere falsehood, and a plain proof that the gentleman never can have seen me. I certainly am the best-looking man concerned with the Review, and this John Murray* has been heard to say behind my back. Pray tell the said J. Murray that three ladies, apparently much agitated, have been here to inquire his direction, calling him a base, perfidious young man.

I am extremely sorry for poor Alison: he is a man of great delicacy, and will be hurt by the attack of this scoundrel. Dumont is certainly displeased with the Review. Most sincerely and affectionately yours,

Sydney Smith.