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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Letters 1816
Sydney Smith to Francis Horner, [December] 1816

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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Foston, 1816.
My dear Horner,

We are tolerably well pleased with the account you give of yourself. It would have been unreasonable to expect that you could gain anything during the fatigue of travelling; it is much that you have not lost. Now is your beginning! I hope you will have the

* Mr. Horner was Douglas’s godfather.

resolution to withstand the importunities of friends, and hermetically to seal yourself. Dear little F—— A—— has the best heart in the world, but you must not let her excite you to much talking. If —— were at Pisa, you would of course order horses.

I have just read Dugald Stewart’s ‘Preliminary Dissertations.’ In the first place, it is totally clear of all his defects. No insane dread of misrepresentation; no discussion put off till another time, just at the moment it was expected, and would have been interesting; no unmanly timidity; less formality of style and cathedral pomp of sentence. The good, it would be trite to enumerate:—the love of human happiness and virtue, the ardour for the extension of knowledge, the command of fine language, happiness of allusion, varied and pleasing literature, tact, wisdom, and moderation! Without these high qualities, we all know Stewart cannot write. I suspect he has misrepresented Horne Tooke, and his silence respecting Hartley is very censurable. I was amazingly pleased with his comparison of the Universities to enormous hulks confined with mooring-chains, everything flowing and progressing around them. Nothing can be more happy.

I speak of books as I read them, and I read them as I can get them. You are read up to twelve o’clock of the preceding day, and therefore must pardon the staleness of my subjects. I read yesterday the evidence of the Elgin Marble Committee. Lord Elgin has done a very useful thing in taking them away from the Turks. Do not throw pearls to swine; and take them away from swine when they are so thrown. They would have been destroyed there, or the French
would have had them. He is underpaid for them.
Flaxman’s evidence (some little ostentation excepted) is very ingenious. Payne Knight makes a very poor figure;—unshaken confidence, upon the most scanty foundations.

We are all perfectly well. Corn is rather bad than dear, but makes good unleavened bread; and the poor, I find, seldom make any other than unleavened bread, even in the best seasons. I have seen nobody, and heard from nobody, since I last wrote. Seven years’ absence from London is too severe a trial for correspondents. Even Astrea Whishaw has given way.

I remain always your affectionate friend,
Sydney Smith.