LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Letters 1820

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
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Letters 1806
Letters 1807
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Letters 1834
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172.] To Edward Davenport, Esq.
Foston, York, Jan. 3rd, 1820.
My dear Davenport,

I sincerely hope your clerical friend will publish his statement; at the same time, it must not be dissembled that a true and candid narrative of what he saw, would for ever put an end to his chance of preferment. My opinion is the same as yours upon the Peterloo business. I have no doubt everything would have ended at Manchester as it did at Leeds, had there been the same forbearance on the part of the magistrates. Either they lost (no great loss) their heads, or the devils of local spite and malice had entered into them, or the nostrils of the clerical magistrates smelt preferment and Court favour; but let it have been what it will, the effects have been most deplorable.

I do not know who Morier is, unless he writes about Persia; my acquaintance is principally confined to sheep and oxen.

Have you read ‘Ivanhoe’? It is the least dull, and the most easily read through, of all Scott’s novels; but there are many more powerful. The subject, in novels, poems, and pictures, is half the battle. The representation of our ancient manners is a fortunate one, and ample enough for three or four more novels.

There are four or five hundred thousand readers more than there were thirty years ago, among the lower orders. A market is open to the democrat writers, by which they gain money and distinction. Government cannot prevent the commerce. A man, if he know his business as a libeller, can write enough for mischief, without writing enough for the Attorney-
General. The attack upon the present order of things will go on; and, unfortunately, the gentlemen of the people have a strong case against the House of Commons and the boroughmongers, as they call them. I think all wise men should begin to turn their faces reform-wards. We shall do it better than
Mr. Hunt or Mr. Cobbett. Done it must and will be.

Mrs. Sydney sends her kind regards; in revenge, I beg to be remembered to your family, and remain, dear Davenport, very truly yours,

Sydney Smith.

173.] To the Earl Grey.
Foston, Jan. 24th, 1820.
Dear Lord Grey,

If you want to read an agreeable book, read Golownin’s narrative of his confinement in, and escape from, Japan; and I think it may do very well for reading out, which I believe is your practice—a practice which I approve rather than follow, and neglect it from mere want of virtue. I think also you may read De Foe’sLife of Colonel Jack,’—entertaining enough when his hero is a scoundrel, but waxing dull as it gets moral. I never set you any difficult tasks in reading, but am as indulgent to you as I am to myself.

I saw Mr. —— the other night for the first time. I am decidedly of opinion that he is like other people. My neighbour, Lord Carlisle, gets younger and younger. I am heartily rejoiced at Mrs. Wilmot’s marriage; but where will Lord Dacre pass his evenings now? Nothing could be more generous and disin-
terested on his part than to relinquish so pleasing a society. If this is not devotion, what is?

There are no appearances here of reviving trade; though many of declining agriculture. If the manufacturing misery continues, there will be a reaction of the Radicals. Assassinations and secret swearings, à l’Irlandaise, or something as bad,—marking an angry and suffering people struggling against restrictions. My curiosity is very much excited by Lord John’s motion. Lord Castlereagh’s assent to it must have surprised you, for I think his assent includes everything that is important; that a disfranchised borough may be taken out of the surrounding Hundred, and conferred elsewhere; or rather, that it need not necessarily be thrown into the surrounding Hundred.

I hope Lady Grey and all your children are well, and that you are improved in health, so as to have passed your Christmas merrily in the midst of your family. You have naturally a genius for good eating and drinking,—as I have often witnessed, and mean to witness again.

We have all been ill; I attended two of my children through a good stout fever of the typhus kind without ever calling in an apothecary but for one day. I depended upon blessed antimony, and watched anxiously for the time of giving bark. They are both now perfectly well. Pray remember me very kindly to dear Lady Grey; and believe me, my dear Lord, with sincere respect and attachment, yours,

Sydney Smith.

174.] To E. Davenport, Esq.
January 29th, 1820.
Dear Davenport,

I think (but that thinking is mere conjecture) that you will be time enough for this number if your packet goes off in a fortnight after receiving this note; perhaps in a month, but the sooner the better. The publication of the Review is not punctual, but depends upon the kindness of Minerva in many parts of the island.

Nobody of whom I know so little, and to whose accuracy and fairness I would rather trust, than to those of Mr. Stanley.* Mr. T—— I do not know. Could you not procure some facts respecting the state of the late Incumbent at Rochdale at the Massacre of Peterloo?

The thing wanted for the lady in question will be the sober, domestic virtues of laying eggs and hatching them. The nest will be cotton,—and a very pleasant nest it is. I wish you were a Yorkshire squire keeping a large house of call in the pleasantest part of the North Riding.

Sydney Smith.

Best compliments to Miss Davenport, who, if she keep a list of her conquests, will be so good as to put me down in the clergyman’s leaf.

175.] To Miss Berry.
Foston, Feb. 27th, 1820.

I thank you very much for the entertainment I have

* Afterwards Bishop of Norwich.

received from your
book. I should however have been afraid to marry such a woman as Lady Rachel; it would have been too awful. There are pieces of china very fine and beautiful, but never intended for daily use.   * * *

I have hardly slept out of Foston since I saw you. God send I may be still an animal, and not a vegetable! but I am a little uneasy at this season for sprouting and rural increase, for fear I should have undergone the metamorphose so common in country livings. I shall go to town about the end of March; it will be completely empty, and the dregs that remain will be entirely occupied about hustings and returning-officers.

Commerce and manufactures are still in a frightful state of stagnation.
No foreign barks in British ports are seen,
Stuff’d to the water’s edge with velveteen,
Or bursting with big boles of bombazine;
No distant climes demand our corduroy,
Unmatch’d habiliment for man and boy;
No fleets of fustian quit the British shore,
The cloth-creating engines cease to roar,
Still is that loom which breech’d the world before.

I am very sorry for the little fat Duke de Berri, but infinitely more so for the dismissal of Decazes,—a fatal measure.

I must not die without seeing Paris. Figure to yourself what a horrid death,—to die without seeing Paris! I think I could make something of this in a tragedy, so as to draw tears from Donna Agnes and yourself. Where are you going to? When do you return? Why do you go at all? Is Paris more agreeable than London?


We have had a little plot here in a hay-loft. God forbid anybody should be murdered! but, if I were to turn assassin, it should not be of five or six Ministers, who are placed where they are by the folly of the country gentlemen, but of the hundred thousand squires, to whose stupidity and folly such an Administration owes its existence.

Ever your friend,
Sydney Smith.

176.] To the Earl Grey.
Saville-row, April 15th, 1820.
Dear Lord Grey,

People—that is, Whig people—are very much out of humour about Lord Morpeth. Lord Morpeth bears it magnanimously; and, I really believe, is glad he has left Parliament, though he does not like the mode. Lord Holland is very well; Lady Holland I have not yet seen. I have seen Lady Grey, the General, and Mrs. Grey. Brougham attends frequently at the Treasury, upon the Queen’s business.

The King sits all day long with Lady C——., sketching processions and looking at jewels; in the meantime, she tells everywhere all that he tells to her. It is expected Burdett will have two years, for which I am heartily sorry. Hunt, I hope, will have six, if it is possible to inflict so many; not so much for his political crimes, but for himself; he is such a thorough ruffian. But he acquitted himself with great ability on his trial.

A narrative is handed about here, written upon the spot by Stanley, a clergyman, brother to Sir John,—
a very sensible, reasonable man. Read it before your first speech.

Walter Scott’s novel is generally thought to be a failure; its only defenders I have heard of are Lord Grenville and Sir William Grant. Furniture Hope has published a novel; Malthus, a new book of Political Economy. I was glad to see the health of Lord John so firmly established; he is improved in every respect. People are red-hot again about the Manchester business, but the leading topic is Scotch and Yorkshire riots. I am truly sorry you do not come up, but I am not quite sure yet that you won’t be provoked to come. Can I do anything for you in town? If any of the Ladies Grey want anything in the dress line, I will execute it better than Lord Lauderdale himself. Ever most sincerely yours,

Sydney Smith.

177.] To the Earl Grey.
May 10th, 1820.
My dear Lord Grey,

I will try to get you a copy of Stanley’s Narrative, which is printed, not published. I have seen your two daughters at Lady Lansdowne’s, and at Lady Derby’s; they both look well, and the gowns look more like French gowns than other people’s gowns do. I am quite out of patience with Lady ——: her fate will be to marry on the Bath road or the Norfolk road; any other such offer on the North road can hardly be expected to occur. I think you might have talked it over with her, and good-naturedly attacked the romantic. The young man was introduced to me, or
rather I to him, at
Lord Jersey’s,—a very decent, creditable-looking young gentleman, and a good judge of sermons. He paid me many compliments upon mine, delivered last Sunday, against bad husbands, so that it is clear he intended to have made a very good one.

The B—— of —— is turned out to be baited next Friday upon the —— case, which appears to be one of great atrocity and persecution. It will end with their rejecting his petition, upon the principle of his having had his remedy in a court of law, of which he has neglected to avail himself; but the real good will be done by the publicity.

The picture of Our Saviour going into Jerusalem, by Haydon, is very bad; the general Exhibition good, as I hear. I have seen West’s pictures:—Death on the White Horse—Jesus Rejected; I am sorry to say I admire them both. A new poem, by Milman, author of ‘Fazio,’ called ‘Jerusalem,’ or ‘The Fall of Jerusalem,’ very much admired, as I hear. Dudley Ward a good deal improved,—I believe, principally by Ellis’s imitation of him, of which he is aware. The Whig Queen revives slowly; the seditious infant not yet christened. Lady Jersey as beautiful and as kind and agreeable as ever. Long live Queen Sarah!

Bayley told Tierney, Hunt would have been acquitted if he had called no witnesses. Tierney well, but very old, and unfit for anything but gentle work. I am going to dine with the Granvilles, to meet the Hollands. Lady Granville is nervous, on account of her room being lined with Spitalfields silk, which always makes Lady Holland ill; means to pass it off as foreign and smuggled, but has little chance of success. Creevy thinks the Session opens in a very mealy-mouthed
manner. I like your nephew
Whitbread, the member, very much.

Lady Grey knows my regard and respect, and that I always send her such courtesy and kindness as I am capable of, whether I write it or not.

Sydney Smith.

178.] To Francis Jeffrey, Esq.
Foston, York, May 19th, 1820.
My dear Jeffrey,

You know what London is for anybody; much more what it is for me, who am feasted so much above my merits and my powers of digestion; accordingly I have done nothing, which I tell you with all penitence. My Irish books, which I took with me to London, are coming back by sea; therefore there is no chance of Ireland for this Review. However, I have gained oral information of considerable consequence. I have sent for the French Travels in Africa, translated and commented upon by Bowditch; and as soon as it comes, shall proceed upon it. I shall now send you a list of what I have offered to do, what you have allowed, and shall make you some fresh offers.

I found in London both my articles very popular,—upon the Poor Laws and America. The passage on Taxation had great success.

I hope you keep a list of books granted. Pray do. No news in town. Voting on one side, reasoning on the other! Everything like economy rejected with horror. Kindest regards to Murray. God bless you!

Sydney Smith.

179.] To Lord Holland.
Foston, June 11th, 1820.
My dear Lord Holland,

I return you many thanks for your letter, and for the exertion in my behalf which you have made, with your accustomed friendship and kindness.

The Chancellor is quite right about political sermons, and in this I have erred; but I have a right to preach on general subjects of toleration, and the fault is not mine if the congregation apply my doctrine to passing events. But I will preach no more upon political subjects; I have not done so for many years, from a conviction that it was unfair. You gave me great pleasure by what you said to the Chancellor of my honesty and independence. I sincerely believe I shall deserve the character at your hands as long as I live. To say that I am sure I shall deserve it, would be as absurd as if a lady were to express an absolute certainty of her future virtue. In good qualities that are to continue for so many years, we can only hope for their continuance.

The incumbent is proceeding by slow degrees to Buxton. I wish him so well, that, under other circumstances, I should often write to know how he was going on; at present I must appear unfriendly, to avoid appearing hypocritical. I have spent at least £4000 on this place; for you must remember I had not only a house, but farm-buildings, to make; and there had been no resident clergyman here for a hundred and fifty years. I have also played my part in the usual manner, as doctor, justice, pacifier, preacher, farmer, neighbour, and diner-out. If I can mend my
small fortunes, I shall be very glad; if I cannot, I shall not be very sorry. In either case, I shall remain your attached and grateful friend,

Sydney Smith.

180.] To Lady Mary Bennett.
Foston, July, 1820.
My dear Lady,
* * * * *

You see revolutions are spreading all over the world,—and from armies.

Would Mr. —— be pleased with an improvement of public liberty, which originated from the Coldstream Guards? Seriously speaking, these things are catching, and though I want improvement, I should abhor such improvers; besides, we shall get old-fashioned in all our institutions, and be stimulated, through vanity, to changes too rapid and too extensive.

Lord Liverpool’s messenger mistook the way, and instead of bringing the mitre to me, took it to my next-door neighbour, Dr. Carey, who very fraudulently accepted it. Lord Liverpool is extremely angry, and I am to have the next!

Sydney Smith.

181.] To John Murray, Esq.
Foston, York, Sept. 3rd, 1820.
My dear Murray,

Many thanks for your kindness in inquiring about your old friends. I am very well, doubling in size every year, and becoming more and more fit for the butcher. Mrs. Sydney is much as she was.


I seldom leave home (except on my annual visit to London), and this principally because I cannot afford it. My income remains the same, my family increases in expense. My constitutional gaiety comes to my aid in all the difficulties of life; and the recollection that, having embraced the character of an honest man and a friend to rational liberty, I have no business to repine at that mediocrity of fortune which I knew to be its consequence.

Mrs. —— is a very amiable young woman, inferior in beauty to Lady Charlotte Campbell, and not so remarkable as Madame de Staël for the vigour of her understanding. Her husband appears to be everything that is amiable and respectable.

The Queen is contemptible; she will be found guilty, and sent out of the country with a small allowance, and in six months be utterly forgotten. So it will, I think, end; but still I think Lord Liverpool very blamable in not having put a complete negative upon the whole thing. It would have been better for the country, and exposed his party to less risk than they have been already exposed to in this business. The Whigs certainly would have refused to meddle with the divorce.

I am sorry to read in your letter such an account of Scotland. Do you imagine the disaffection to proceed from anything but want of employment? or, at least, that full employment, interspersed with a little hanging, will not gradually extinguish the bad spirit?

I have just read ‘The Abbot;’ it is far above common novels, but of very inferior execution to his others, and hardly worth reading. He has exhausted the subject of Scotland, and worn out the few characters that
the early periods of Scotch history could supply him with. Meg Merrilies appears afresh in every novel.

I wish you had told me something about yourself. Are you well? rich? happy? Do you digest? Have you any thoughts of marrying? My whole parish is to be sold for £50,000; pray buy it, quit your profession, and turn Yorkshire squire. We should be a model for squires and parsons. God bless you! All the family unite in kind regards. Shall we ever see you again?

S. S.

182.] To Lady Mary Bennett.
Sedgeley, October, 1820.
My dear Lady Mary,

I cannot shut my eyes, because, if I open them, I shall see what is disagreeable to the Court. I have no more doubt of the Queen’s guilt than I have of your goodness and excellence. But do not, on that account, do me the injustice of supposing that I am deficient in factious feelings and principles, or that I am stricken by the palsy of candour. I sincerely wish the Queen may be acquitted, and the Bill and its authors may be thrown out. Whether justice be done to the Royal plaintiff is of no consequence: indeed he has no right to ask for justice on such points. I must, however, preserve my common sense and my factious principles distinct; and believe the Queen to be a very slippery person, at the moment I rejoice at the general conviction of her innocence.

I am, as you see, near Manchester. While here, I shall study the field of Peterloo.

You will be sorry to hear the trade and manufac-
tures of these counties are materially mended, and are mending. I would not mention this to you, if you were not a good Whig; but I know you will not mention it to anybody. The secret, I much fear, will get out before the meeting of Parliament. There seems to be a fatality which pursues us. When, oh when, shall we be really ruined?

Pray send me some treasonable news about the Queen. Will the people rise? Will the greater part of the House of Lords be thrown into the Thames? Will short work be made of the Bishops? If you know, tell me; and don’t leave me in this odious state of innocence, when you can give me so much guilty information, and make me as wickedly instructed as yourself. And if you know that the Bishops are to be massacred, write by return of post.

Do you know how poor —— is handled in the Quarterly Review? It bears the mark of ****; I hope it is not his, for the sake of his character. Let me be duller than Sternhold and Hopkins, if I am to prove my wit at the expense of my friends! and in print too! God bless you!

Sydney Smith.

183.] To Leonard Horner, Esq.
Foston, 1820.
My dear Sir,

My friend (a potter), to whom we are all so deeply indebted every night and morning, wishes to place a son at Edinburgh, and I have promised to inquire for him. Pray be so good as to tell me the terms of Pillans, and also mention some good Presbyterian body
who takes pupils at no great salary. Never mind whether Whig or Tory, philosopher or no philosopher; a potter has nothing to do with such matters; all I require is that he should be steady and respectable, and that the young fashioner of vases and basins should have an apartment to himself, in which he may meditate intensely on clay. Do me the favour to mention terms.

Why don’t you and Mrs. Horner come and see us, and hear me upon the subject of turnips? The corn is half destroyed. There is no end to the luck of this Administration; they were beginning to be unpopular with the country gentlemen, but now prices will get up.

I am just returned from a long journey into Somersetshire. Kind regards to your family, and name your time for coming here.

Ever most truly yours,
Sydney Smith.

184.] To Francis Jeffrey, Esq.
Foston, October, 1820.
My dear Jeffrey,

I shall be much obliged to you to print my two articles in the next Review, and to inform me of your intention on that point, under cover to G. Philips, Esq., M.P., Sedgeley, Manchester.

My Ireland I have taken some pains with. The history of the termination of the rivers of Botany Bay is curious, the article short, and undertaken at your special request that I should write another article.

Is Southey’sLife of Wesley’ appropriated? Is
Lord John Russell’s book, called ‘
Essays and Sketches of Life and Character, by a Gentleman who has left his Lodgings’?

It is impossible but that the Queen will defeat the King, and throw out the Administration. The majority of bishops, with the Archbishop of York at their head, are against the divorce; the Archbishop of Canterbury is for it.

We have had a good harvest, but there is no market for anything.

I am sorry to see the appointment of Wilson. If Walter Scott can succeed in nominating a successor to Reid and Stewart, there is an end of the University of Edinburgh: your Professors then become competitors in the universal race of baseness and obsequiousness to power.

Sydney Smith.

185.] To Edward Davenport, Esq.
Foston, Nov. 19th, 1820.
Dear Davenport,

The City of York have met and passed resolutions to address for a change of Ministers. I have not heard of any proposal for a county meeting, nor can I think that anything has yet been done which will turn Ministers out of office; almost all who supported them before will continue to support them; the greater part of their friends who voted against them thought the Queen guilty, and almost all justified Ministers in beginning the process. The case may be different if they make it a point of honour to withhold her just rights from the Queen, or to prevent you or me from
praying for her in public. Upon these points I have no doubt they will be defeated; but if they have the good sense to see that they are beaten, and not to make a stand for the baggage-wagons when they have lost the field, they may remain Ministers as long as Cheshire makes cheeses. I need not say to you that I am heartily glad the Queen is acquitted.

As for the virtue of the lady, you laymen must decide upon it. The style of manners she has adopted does not exactly tally with that of holy women in the days that are gone; but let us be charitable, and hope for the best.

The business of the Ministry is surely to prorogue Parliament for as long a time as possible. Some new whale may be in sight by that time.

Ever yours, dear Davenport,
Sydney Smith.

Read, if you have not read, all Horace Walpole’s letters, wherever you can find them;—the best wit ever published in the shape of letters. Marvel with me at the fine and spirited things in ‘Anastasius;’ they are, it is true, cemented together by a great deal of dull matter.

186.] To Edward Davenport, Esq.
Lambton Hall, Dec. 15th, 1820.
Dear Davenport,

I am just come from Edinburgh, and was staying with Jeffrey when your letter arrived. He does not like his editorial functions interfered with, and I do not like to interfere with them; so I must leave you and him to settle as to the article itself. If you write
it, and send it to me, I will play the part of
Aristarchus to you; but remember,—do not accept me for an office of that nature, if you are afraid of truth and severity; upon such subjects I will flatter nobody; nor is it, I am sure, in your nature, or in your habits, to require any such thing.

I shall be at Foston on Sunday, and remain there for the rest of my life.

Scotland is becoming Whiggish and Radical. There is a great meeting at Durham today, in which Lord Grey is to bear a part. I have been staying with him. The Alnwick people came over with an address, and drank forty-four bottles of sherry, and fifty-two of old port, besides ale!

This seems a fine place in a very ugly country. The house is full of every possible luxury, and lighted with gas.

Sydney Smith.

187.] To the Countess Grey.
Foston, Dec. 30th, 1820.
Dear Lady Grey,

The day I left Lambton was, fortunately for me, a very cold day, as the stage-coach was full. We had the captain of a Scotch vessel trading to Russia, an Edinburgh lawyer, an apothecary, a London horsedealer, and myself. They were all very civil and good-humoured; the captain a remarkably clever, entertaining man. All were for the Queen, except the horsedealer.

Lady Georgiana Morpeth called here yesterday, accompanied by Agar Ellice, who is on a short visit to
Castle Howard. The Morpeths are just returned from the
Duke of Devonshire’s. Ellice thinks the Ministry will not go out, but proceed languidly with small majorities; I think it most probable they will be driven out. The appointment of —— is too ridiculous to be true. If Peel refuses, it is, I suppose, because he does not choose to accept a place in a carriage just about to be overturned. The good people of Edinburgh, putting together my visit to Lord Grey, my ulterior progress to Edinburgh, and the political meeting in that town consequent upon it, have settled that Lord Grey planned the meeting, and that I performed the diplomatic part.

I will fit the Lady Greys up with conversation for the spring, and make them the most dashing girls in London. Poor ——! if in love before, what will he be next spring? Poor B——! poor E——! poor everybody! The effect will be universal.

My kindest regards to Lord Grey and your daughters. My children are all perfectly well, so is Mrs. Sydney; Douglas, my eldest son, has distinguished himself at Westminster, and is, to my great delight, become passionately fond of books.

Always, my dear Lady Grey, your sincere friend,

Sydney Smith.

P.S.—Only think of that obstinate Lord Lauderdale publishing his speech! But Lord Lauderdale, with all his good qualities and talents, has an appetite for being hooted and pelted, which is ten times a more foolish passion than the love of being applauded and huzzaed. You and I know a politician who has no passion for one thing or the other; but does his duty, and trusts to chance how it is taken.

188.] To Francis Jeffrey, Esq.
Foston, 1820.
My dear Jeffrey,

For the number next but one, I have engaged to write an article on Ireland, which shall contain all the information I can collect, detailed as well as I know how to detail it.

The Unitarians think the doctrine of the Trinity to be a profanation of the Scriptures; you compel them to marry in your churches, or rather, I should say, we compel them to marry in our churches; and when the male and female Dissenter are kneeling before the altar, much is said to them by the priest, of this, to them, abhorred doctrine. They are about to petition Parliament that their marriages may be put upon the same footing as those of Catholics and Quakers. The principles of religious liberty which I have learnt (perhaps under you) make me their friend in the question; and if you approve, I will write an article upon it. Upon the receipt of your letter in the affirmative, I will write to the dissenting king, William Smith, for information. Pray have the goodness to answer by return of post, or as soon after as you can, if it is but a word; as despatch in these matters, and in my inaccessible situation, is important.

Sydney Smith.

189.] To Edward Davenport, Esq.
Bath: no date.
Dear Davenport,

I think Jeffrey too timid, but he says that the Edin-
Review is watched, and that there is a great disposition to attack it either in Scotland or London; and you must allow that Jeffrey or Brougham in the pillory would be a delicious occurrence for the Tories: I think John Williams would come and pelt.

Great light will be thrown upon the circumstances of the massacre, by Hunt’s trial, which of course will be circulated widely through the country, and will furnish you with a good plea for the introduction of the subject. I heard Hunt at York, and was much struck with his boldness, dexterity, and shrewdness. Without any education at all, he is the most powerful barrister this day on the Northern Circuit; of course I do not mean the best instructed, but the man best calculated by nature for that sort of intellectual exertion.

You see by my letter I am in Bath,—to me, one of the most disagreeable places in the world; but I am on a visit to my father, eighty-two years of age, in full possession, not only of his senses, but of a very vigorous and superior understanding.

I have written two articles in this Edinburgh Review, Poor Laws, and Seybert’s America,—but they are both of a dry and discouraging nature.

Adieu! I hope to see you soon. Ever truly yours,

Sydney Smith.

190.] To Mrs. Meynell.
Foston, 1820.
Dear Mrs. Meynell,

It will give me great pleasure to hear of your health and continued well-doing. I suspect the little boy will be christened Hugo, that being an ancient name in the
Meynell family; and the mention of the little boy is an additional reason why you should write to me before he comes. You will never write after, for the infant of landed estate is so precious, that he would exhaust the sympathies, and fill up the life, of seven or eight mothers. The usual establishment for an eldest landed baby is, two wet nurses, two ditto dry, two aunts, two physicians, two apothecaries; three female friends of the family, unmarried, advanced in life; and often, in the nursery, one clergyman, six flatterers, and a grandpapa! Less than this would not be decent.

We are all well, and keep large fires, as it behoveth those who pass their summers in England.

I have not seen a living soul out of my family since I left London. It is some consolation to think I have avoided the awkward dilemma about the Queen. I should have thought it base not to call, and yet

* * * * *

My conjecture is that there will be no compromise, and that the Queen will be beaten out of the field. The chances against this are that the King’s nerves will give way. You do not know that is in the Green Bag. You thought him full of poetry alone, but gallantry and treason are in his composition. The Queen and her handmaids have been much exposed to the shafts of calumny on account of that too amiable and seducing fellow, who is at once a Lovelace and a Pope. Write me a line to show we are friends, and I will announce the event.

Ever your sincere friend,
Sydney Smith.

191.] To Mrs. Meynell.
York, 1820.
Dear Mrs. Meynell,

We have all been ill,—that is, all but I;—a sort of fever; and they have all been cured by me, for I am deeper in medicine than ever.

Douglas is gone to school; not with a light heart, for the first year of Westminster in college is severe:—an intense system of tyranny, of which the English are very fond, and think it fits a boy for the world; but the world, bad as it is, has nothing half so bad.

I strongly recommend you to read Captain Golownin’s narrative of his imprisonment in Japan; it is one of the most entertaining books I have read for a long time. You must also read —— ——. I would let you off if I could, but my sense of duty will not permit me to do so; for it is, and has long been, my province, to fit you up for London conversation; Mrs. Crape (your maid) dresses you—your other half falls to me.

I hope your children are all well; if they are not, I am sure you are not; and if you are not, I shall not be so. So God bless you, my dear Gee! and remember me kindly to your husband.

Ever affectionately yours,
Sydney Smith.