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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Letters 1805

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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11.] To Francis Jeffrey, Esq.
No date, but believed about 1805.
My dear Jeffrey,

You are raving mad if you take the least notice of ——. Let nothing—not even the pleasantry and success of an answer you might write—tempt you to do it. It is quite out of his power to do you the least harm, and out of yours to do him any: he is perfectly invulnerable by his degradation, and, from the same cause, innoxious. I beg and entreat you to lay aside all thoughts of an answer. I have read through his pamphlet, and never read such dull trash. What is the history of my escape?

I cannot say I am much struck with your Reid. I do not quite agree with you in your observation upon the science of metaphysics, nor with the differ-
ence you have attempted to establish between observation and experiment; but there is in that article quite enough of acuteness, good sense, and good writing to render it an ornament to the work, the character of which will not, in my opinion, suffer by the present number. The two articles which pleased me most were
Izarn and D’Agnesi; I suspect them both to be from Playfair. ——’s review is too coarse—some parts absolutely ungentlemanlike. The great horror of the review is the ge in gelidus being made long; I was forced to break it to Elmsley by degrees.

If I were to write on in the Review, I would certainly not conceal myself, but I am much afraid it may not be in my power. I am engaging in my profession, and determined to write a book. We shall be heartily glad to see you if you come here. You will take some time in getting acquainted with the R——s, but you will succeed at last, and they are really worth the trouble: but do not talk lightly before them on serious subjects,—you will terrify them to death. I shall always love Edinburgh very dearly. I know no man of whose understanding and principles I have a higher opinion than I have of yours. I will come and visit Edinburgh very often if I am ever rich, and I think it very likely one day or another I may live there entirely. I write with a bad headache, but I write speedily to remonstrate, in the strongest manner, against your pamphlet. I am sure John Murray will agree with me: my kindest regards to him; he is an admirable man. Adieu!

Sydney Smith.

12.] To Francis Jeffrey, Esq.
February, 1805.
My dear Jeffrey,

I thought you had entirely forgotten me, and was pleasing myself with the notion that you were rising in the world, that your income was tripling and quadrupling in value, and that you were going through the customary and concomitant process of shedding your old friends and the companions of your obscurity,—when, behold! your letter arrived, diminished your income, blunted your fame, and restored your character.

As for me, I am plagued to death with lectures, sermons, etc.; and am afraid I have rather overloaded myself. I got through my first course I think creditably; whether any better than creditably, others know better than myself. I have still ten to read, have written two upon wit and humour, and am proceeding to write three upon taste. What the subject of the others will be I know not. I wish I had your sanity and fertility at my elbow, to resort to in cases of dulness and difficulty.

I am extremely glad, however, upon the whole, that I have engaged in the thing, and think that it will do me good, and hereafter amuse me, when I have more leisure.

I have not seen much of your friend Bell,* but mean to see more of him. He is modest, amiable, and full of zeal and enterprise in his profession. I could not have conceived that anything could be so perfect and beautiful as his wax models. I saw one today, which was quite the Apollo Belvidere of morbid anatomy.

Horner is a very happy man; his worth and talents

* The late Sir Charles Bell.

are acknowledged by the world at a more early period than those of any independent and upright man I ever remember. He verifies an observation I have often made, that the world do not dislike originality, liberality, and independence so much as the insulting arrogance with which they are almost always accompanied. Now, Horner pleases the best judges, and does not offend the worst.

God bless you, my dear Jeffrey!—is the prayer of your sincere friend,

Sydney Smith.

13.] To Francis Jeffrey, Esq.
Doughty-street, April, 1805.
My dear Jeffrey,

I should be very much obliged to you to transmit the enclosed testimonials to St. Andrew’s, to pay for the degree, to send me word how much you have paid for it, and I will repay you immediately. If there be any form neglected, then send us information how to proceed. The degree itself may be sent to me also, by the mail or post, according to its size. Pray do not neglect this affair, as the interests of a poor and respectable man depend upon it.

My lectures are just now at such an absurd pitch of celebrity, that I must lose a good deal of reputation before the public settles into a just equilibrium respecting them. I am most heartily ashamed of my own fame, because I am conscious I do not deserve it, and that the moment men of sense are provoked by the clamour to look into my claims, it will be at an end.

Sydney Smith.

14.] To Francis Jeffrey, Esq.
Doughty-street, 1805.
My dear Jeffrey,

Many thanks to you for your goodness. My little boy is, thank God, recovered. I sat up with him for two nights, expecting every moment would be his last. My great effort was to keep up Mrs. Sydney’s spirits, in which I succeeded tolerably well. I will not exercise my profession of preaching commonplaces to you; I acknowledge your loss was a heavy calamity, for I can measure what you felt by what I felt for you.

You have raised up to yourself here, individually, a very high and solid reputation by your writings in the Edinburgh Review. You are said to be the ablest man in Scotland; and other dainty phrases are used about you, which show the effect you have produced. Mackintosh, ever anxious to bring men of merit into notice, is the loudest of your panegyrists, and the warmest of your admirers. I have now had an opportunity of appreciating the manner in which the Review is felt, and I do assure you it has acquired a most brilliant and extensive reputation.

Follow it up, by all means. On the first of every month, Horner and I will meet together, and. order books for Edinburgh: this we can do from the monthly lists. In addition, we will scan the French booksellers’ shops, and send you anything valuable, excepting a certain portion that we will reserve for ourselves. We will, in this division, be just and candid as we can; if you do not think us so, let us know. You will have the lists, and can order for yourselves any books, not before ordered for you; many catalogue articles I will take, to avoid the expense of sending them backwards
and forwards from Edinburgh to London: many I will send. The articles I shall review from No. 6 are ‘
Iceland,’ Goldbering’sTravels into Africa,’ and Segur upon the ‘Influence of Women in Society.’ I shall not lose sight of the probability of procuring assistance; some, I am already asking for. You will not need from me more than two sheets, I presume. Pray tell me the names of the writers of this number. Mackintosh says there has been no such book upon Political Economy as Brougham’s since the days of Adam Smith.

S. S.

15.] To Francis Jeffrey, Esq.
My dear Jeffrey,

Many thanks to you for your attention to my diploma. When you send me a statement of expenses, I will give you a draft for the money; by statement, I mean amount.

I conclude my lectures next Saturday. Upon the whole, I think I have done myself some little good by them.

I think your last articles in the Edinburgh Review extremely able, and by no means inferior to what you have done before.

John Allen is come home, in very high favour with Lord and Lady Holland. They say he is, without exception, the best-tempered man that ever lived, very honourable, and of an understanding superior to most people; in short, they do him complete justice. He is very little altered, except that he appears to have some faint notions that all the world are not quite so
honourable and excellent as himself. I have the highest respect for John Allen.

I wrote to Dugald Stewart, to tell him of a report which prevailed here, that the General Assembly had ordered him to drink a Scotch pint of hemlock, which he had done, discoursing about the gods to Playfair and Darcy!*

Best regards to Tim Thompson. When am I to see you again, and John Murray, and everybody in the North whom I love and respect?

Sydney Smith.

16.] To Dr. Reeve†—(Vienna).
8, Doughty-street, Brunswick-square, October 29th, 1805.
My dear Sir,

I suggested everything I could to Barnard; told him that you had made three distinct efforts to come home, and had been robbed as many times by armed chaplains of the Austrian army; that Dr. De Roches had been wounded in the right glontean, and you yourself thrown into a smart tertian by your grief and anxiety. The committee will not bind themselves to make a new engagement with you, but I have no

* Mrs. Dugald Stewart.

Dr. Reeve was a pupil of Mr. Martineau, an eminent surgeon at Norwich. He afterwards studied medicine at Edinburgh, where he enjoyed the friendship of Mr. Sydney Smith, Mr. Horner, and other founders of the Edinburgh Review, and was among the early contributors to that journal. At the time this letter was written, he was travelling on the Continent with his friend Dr. De Roches, of Geneva, who had also studied at Edinburgh. Dr. Reeve afterwards married tho elder daughter of Mr. John Taylor, of Norwich, and settled at that place. He died in the year 1814.—Ed.

doubt you will secure your situation upon your return.

I will, in the meantime, do all I can to get you inserted in the list for spring, 1807, which comes out, I think, about May 1806.

I would advise you not to fling away this occasion, which is no despicable one, for a physician; because he must be a very clumsy gentleman if, in lecturing upon the moral and physical nature of man, he cannot take an opportunity of saying, that he lives at No. 6, Chancery-lane, and that few people are equal to him in the cure of fevers. As to the improvement you get, my dear doctor, in travelling abroad, credat Judæus! You have seen a skull of a singular conformation at Dr. Baumgarten’s, and seen a toe in Suabia, which astonished you; but what, in the name of Dr. Gregory, can you see in Germany of a therapeutic nature which you cannot see better in Scotland or here? You will do yourself more real good by superintending one woman of quality in London, than by drinking tea with all the German professors that ever existed.

All these events in Germany have not astonished me: I allowed Buonaparte twenty-eight days to knock both armies clunes super caput (as the vulgar have it), to conclude peace, make a speech to the Senate, and illuminate Paris. He is as rapid and as terrible as the lightning of God; would he were as transient! Ah! my dear doctor, you are of a profession which will endure for ever; no revolutions will put an end to Synochus and Synoche; but what will become of the spoils we gather from the earth? those cocks of ripe farina, on which the holy bough is placed—the
tithes! Adieu—God bless you! I will watch over your interests, and, if anything occur, write to you again.

Sydney Smith.

P.S. I think, upon reflection, you had better write a line to the Committee, stating the impossibility of your coming home, though you strongly wish, and begging to be put on the list for spring, 1807. Add also that you will employ the intervening time in collecting materials for your lectures. Send it to me; never mind postage.