LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Letters 1812

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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85.] To Francis Jeffrey, Esq.
January, 1812.
Dear Jeffrey,

I certainly am very intolerant and impatient, and I
will endeavour to be less so, but do not be hurt by my critiques on your criticisms; you know (if you know anything) the love and respect I have for you; this is not enough—add also, the very high admiration. But it is the great fault of our Review that our wisdom is too long; it did well at first, because it was new to find so much understanding in a journal. But every man takes up a Review with a lazy spirit, and wishes to get wise at a cheap rate, and to cross the country by a shorter path. Health and respect!

Sydney Smith.

86.] To Francis Jeffrey, Esq.
June, 1812.
My dear Jeffrey,

I feel that I owe you an apology for troubling you so often about the Review; but I am really desirous of doing something for it, and, in my search for new books, they turn up at different times, and compel me to make these different appeals to you. The subjects I have already mentioned are:—1st. Sir F. Burdett on the Law of Imprisonment for Libel; 2nd. The Statement of the late Negotiations; 3rd. The Duke of Sussex’s speech; 4th (and now for the first time), Halliday’sObservations on the Present State of the Portuguese Army;’ in which I propose to include some short statement of, and observations upon, Lord Wellington’s campaigns in Portugal. The last undertaking is the only one to which a fresh answer is required from you.

Horner is, I think, getting better. There never was a period when the hopes of good Whigs were so cruelly
disappointed. I dare say Lords
Grey and Grenville meant extremely well, but they have bungled the matter so, as to put themselves in the wrong, both with the public and with their own troops. The bad faith of the Court is nothing. If they had suspected that bad faith, they should have put it to the proof, and made it clear to all the world that the Court did not mean them well; at present they have made the Court the object of public love and compassion, made Lord Yarmouth appear like a virtuous man, given character to the Prince, and restored the dilapidation of kingly power.

I write from Cambridge, and shall be at York on Friday to dinner. Adieu! and believe me ever your sincere friend,

Sydney Smith.
87.] To the Earl Grey.
Heslington, August 17th, 1812.
Dear Lord Grey,

I really think you are unjust to ——. He may be capricious, unjust, fickle, a thousand faults; but, if you mean by discreditable motives, any love of office or concern about it, I sincerely think him exempted from any feelings of that nature.

I suppose you know by this time the nature of Canning’s last negotiation; if not, he was to have come in with two members in a Cabinet of fifteen; and Lord Liverpool, who negotiated the arrangement, conceived it to be agreed between Lord Castlereagh and Canning that they were to enjoy co-ordinate power and importance in the Commons,—at least, as much
as any Ministerial arrangement could confer equal power upon such unequal men. In a subsequent explanation however, it turned out that Lord Castlereagh had no such intentions; that he intended to keep the lead in the House of Commons, and to be considered as the Minister of the Crown in that assembly. This put an end to the negotiation.

I do not know whether you like praise, but I cannot help saying how much I was struck with your style of writing in the State Papers published by Lord Moira. It is impossible that anything can be more clear, manly, and dignified; it is a perfect model for State-paper writing. After saying thus much of the mode, it is right to add, I am the critic in the Edinburgh Review upon the substance of the negotiation. I have given reasons for my opinion, preserving, as I hope and intended and felt, the greatest possible respect for you; but I am foolish in supposing that you heed or read the obscure speculations of reviewers and scribblers.

I remain ever, my dear Lord Grey, very truly yours,

Sydney Smith.

88.] To Francis Jeffrey, Esq.
September, 1812.
My dear Jeffrey,

I have to thank you for many kind letters, which I would have answered sooner, but that I have been expecting the Review, upon which I wished to offer you my opinion.

I like the review of Malcolm very much; there is such an appearance of profound knowledge of the sub-
ject, joined to so very gentlemanlike a spirit of forbearance, that it gives me considerable pleasure. I liked very much the article on Peace, and the
review on Miss Edgeworth; John Knox I have not yet read. I am very glad you like my review of the Negotiation; pray tell me if it is much complained of by the Whigs. I shall not regret having written it if it is; but if I reconcile the interests of truth with the feelings of party, so much the better; I am sure it is the good sense and justice of the question.

Whilst I write, our poor, amiable old friend is mouldering in her tomb; I had a most sincere affection for her, and such a friend I shall not soon replace, and I feel the loss with very sincere grief. Miss —— is deeply affected: she is made up of fine feelings, and her mother filled her whole heart and soul.

I know not how to rejoice in the useless splendour of Lord Wellington’s achievements, for I am quite a disbeliever in his ultimate success; but I am incapable of thinking of anything but building, and my whole soul is filled up by lath and plaster.

Mrs. Fletcher has been here and dined with us,—self and spouse. I was surprised to find her unaffected, and more sensible than from her blazing sort of reputation I had supposed to be the case; more handsome, too, than I had judged her in Edinburgh: in short, she produced a very agreeable impression both upon Mrs. Sydney and me.

I see Seymour is selling his Scotch place. I am glad to find you are in the country, for then I am sure you are happy. Yours affectionately,

Sydney Smith.

89.] To John Allen, Esq.
December 29th, 1812.
My dear Allen,

I thank you sincerely for your friendly and considerate communication respecting the opinion of the Archbishop.

You may easily imagine that I have reflected a good deal upon the expediency of an undertaking so very serious as that of building. I may very likely have determined wrong, but I have determined to the best of my judgment, anxiously and actively exerted. I have no public or private chance of changing my situation for the better; such good fortune may occur, but I have no right to presume upon it. I have waited and tried for six years, and I am bound in common prudence to suppose that my lot is fixed in this land. That being so, what am I to do? I have no certainty of my present house; the distance is a great and serious inconvenience; if I am turned out of it, it will be scarcely possible, in so thinly inhabited a country, to find another. I am totally neglecting my parish. I ought to build; if I were bishop, I would compel a man in my situation to build; and should think that any incumbent acted an ungentlemanlike part who compelled me to compel him, and who did not take up the money which is lent by the Governors of Queen Anne’s bounty for the purpose of building.

Such, I conceived, would be the Archbishop’s opinion of me had I availed myself of his good-nature to apply for perpetual absence from my living, and for permission to live in hired houses. In all conver-
sations I have had with him, he has never discouraged the idea of building, but, on the contrary, always appeared to approve and promote it. I am therefore surprised not a little at what you tell me, and can only interpret it to mean that he would not absolutely have compelled me to build, but that he would have thought it mean and unfair in me not to have made an exertion of that kind. His mere forbearance from the use of authority is an additional reason for beginning. Lastly, I have gone so far that even if the communication were more authorized and direct, I could hardly recede. To kick down the money I have been saving for my family has cost me a great deal of uneasiness, and at one time I had thought of resigning my living. Having now decided according to the best means of an understanding extremely prone to error, nothing remains but to fight through my difficulties as well as I can.

It will give me sincere pleasure to think that you take an interest in my well-doing (not that I doubted it), but a particular instance (like this) is more cheering than a general belief.

Health, happiness, and as many new years as you wish!

Sydney Smith.