LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Letters 1830

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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290.] To John Murray, Esq.
Clifton, Jan. 3rd, 1830.
My dear Murray,

I have not heard the particulars of Jeffrey becoming Lord Advocate, but I know enough to know they redound to your honour. Your conspiracy at Brougham Hall must have been very interesting. Principally Edinburgh Reviewers! How very singular! The Review began in high places (garrets), and ends in them.

There is an end of insurrection; I had made up my mind to make an heroic stand, till the danger became real and proximate, and then I should have been discreet and capitulating.

I can hardly picture to myself the rage and consternation of the Scotch Tories at this change, and at the liberality which is bursting out in every part of Scotland, where no lava and volcanic matter were suspected. I love liberty, but hope it can be so managed that I shall have soft beds, good dinners, fine linen, etc., for the rest of my life. I am too old to fight or to suffer. God bless you! Love to Mrs. Murray. Ever yours,

Sydney Smith.

291.] To Mrs. Meynell.
Combe Florey, April 17th, 1830.
My dear Mrs. Meynell,

I have (as you say) had the gout, not severely, but it was a monition. How I came not to have had it years ago I cannot tell. My place is delightful; never was there a more delightful parsonage! Come and
see it. Be ill, and require mild air and an affectionate friend, and set off for Combe Florey.

Have you read Moore? I come in, I see, for a little notice once or twice. I find the Peer and Poet (and I knew it only yesterday) has dedicated a stanza or two to me in Don Juan.

God bless you, dear Gena!

Sydney Smith.

292.] To H. Howard, Esq.*
Combe Florey, Taunton, Aug. 2nd, 1830.
My dear Sir,

The intelligence we have received today, from the kind transmission of the Carlisle paper, gave us all here sincere pleasure. It is a pure pleasure to me to see honourable men of ancient family restored to their birthright. I rejoice in the temple which has been reared to Toleration; and I am proud that I worked as a bricklayer’s labourer at it—without pay, and with the enmity and abuse of those who were unfavourable to its construction. We are finishing here, and are in a very beautiful parsonage; come and see me. You owe me some recompense for my zeal.

Ever yours,
Sydney Smith.

293.] To the Honourable Miss Fox.
August, 1830.
My dear Miss Fox,

Merely to say that these and twenty such handbills

* On the election of his son as M.P. for Carlisle,

Letters to Swing.

were not, as you suppose, written by me, but by a neighbouring curate. They have had an excellent effect. There is one from Miss Swing, threatening to destroy crimping-irons for caps, and washing machines, and patent tea-kettles; vowing vengeance also on the new bodkin which makes two holes instead of one.

Justices’ wives are agitated, and female constables have been sworn in. Ever yours,

Sydney Smith.

294.] To the Countess Grey.
My dear Lady Grey,

I am not without apprehensions for the new French Revolution; but I admire and rejoice. However it may end, it was nobly begun. I do not know what to do with the captive Ministers, but I am afraid I must hang them.

I knew Huskisson very well, and sincerely lament his loss. He was to me a very agreeable man; for he was always ready to talk on his own subjects, and was always clear, instructive, and good-natured. The Duke has got rid of his only formidable antagonist in the House of Commons, and it seems to me clear that the remnant of that party will now enlist under his standard; and I dare say they have by this time taken the marching shilling.

I was not disappointed by Plymouth. The papers were delighted with my urbanity and good-humour, and by the appearance of excellent health which I exhibited. They described my visit to the dockyard and the Caledonia, and the deep knowledge of my profes-
sion which I displayed. If the real
Sir Sidney goes there, he will infallibly be taken for an impostor.

I have great pleasure in hearing from you. We are now old friends, and have run the better half of the race of life: you, on high ground; I, on low ground. Of the little that remains, I endeavour to make the best. I am a little surprised that I have scrambled through it so well as I have. That I have lived on good terms with so many good people, gives me more pleasure than any other reflection. I must beg of the noble Earl and you to continue to me as long as you can that source of pleasure. God bless you!

Sydney Smith.

295.] To Lady Holland.
Weston House, Oct. 15th, 1830.
My dear Lady Holland,

We are here on a visit to Sir George Philips, who has built a very magnificent house in the Holland House style, but of stone: a pretty place in a very ugly country.

I am very glad to see Charles in the Guards. He will now remain at home; for I trust that there will be no more embarkation of the Guards while I live, and that a captain of the Guards will be as ignorant of the colour of blood as the rector of a parish. We have had important events enough within the last twenty years. May all remaining events be culinary, amorous, literary, or anything but political!

Lord John Russell comes here today. His corporeal antipart, Lord N——, is here. Heaven send he
may not swallow John! There are, however, stomach-pumps, in case of accident.
Bobus talks of coming to us in November. When I see him I will believe in him. We shall return home the beginning of November, stay till the end of the year, and then go to Bristol; that is, if the Church of England last so long; but there is a strong impression that there will be a rising of curates. Should anything of this kind occur, they will be committed to hard preaching on the tread-pulpit (a new machine); and rendered incapable of ever hereafter collecting great or small tithes.

I remain always your affectionate and obliged friend,

Sydney Smith.

296.] To John Murray, Esq.
Weston House, Oct. 24th, 1830.
My dear Murray,

There will be no changes in the Government before Christmas; and by that time the Duke will probably have gained some recruits. He does not want numbers, but defenders. Whoever goes into his Cabinet, goes there as an inferior, to register the Duke’s resolutions,—not as an equal, to assist in their formation; and this is a situation into which men of spirit and character do not choose to descend. The death of Huskisson has strengthened him very materially; his firmness, powers of labour, sagacity, and good-nature, and his vast military reputation, will secure his power. Averse from liberal measures, he will be as liberal as the times require; and will listen to instructed men on subjects where he has no opinions, or wrong ones.

During the first moments of the French Revolution,
La Fayette had almost resolved upon a republic, but was turned the other way by the remonstrances and representations of the American Minister.

The new Beer Bill has begun its operations. Everybody is drunk. Those who are not singing are sprawling. The sovereign people are in a beastly state.

You are rich and rambling; pray come and see us next year. Your very sincere and affectionate friend,

Sydney Smith.

297.] To John Allen, Esq.
November, 1830.
Dear Allen,

Pray tell me how Lord Holland is, as I do not at all like the accounts I have received from Lord John.

I am frightened at the state of the world; I shall either be burnt, or lose my tithes, or be forced to fight, or some harm will happen to disturb the drowsy slumbers of my useless old-age.

—— talks of coming to see me; but I have not the slightest belief. He will break down on the road, and return; or be lost in the Capua of Bowood; or be alarmed by Surrey incendiaries, and sit up all night surrounded by pails of water, squirts, and syringes. I have been visited by an old enemy, the lumbago; equally severe, as it seems, upon priest and anti-priests. I believe it comes from the stomach; at least it is to that organ that all medical men direct their curative intentions.

Tell me what is going to happen. Ever yours,

Sydney Smith.

298.] To the Countess Grey.
Combe Florey, Nov. 21st, 1830.
My dear Lady Grey,

I never felt a more sincere pleasure than from Lord Grey’s appointment. After such long toil, such labour, privation, and misrepresentation, that a man should be placed where Providence intended he should be,—that honesty and virtue should, at last, meet with their reward,—is a pleasure which rarely occurs in human life; and one which, I confess, I had not promised myself.

I am particularly glad that Brougham (if my friend Lord Lyndhurst must go out) is Chancellor,—for many reasons. I should have preferred Goderich for Home, Melbourne for Colonial, Secretary. The Duke of Richmond is well imagined. I am very glad Lord Durham is in the Cabinet, because I like him, and for better reasons. Sir James Graham surprises me. The appointment is excellent; but I should have thought there must have been so many great people who would have been clamorous. Pray give John Russell an office, and Macaulay is well worth your attention; make him Solicitor-General.

Adieu, my dear Lady Grey. Give my sincere and affectionate regards to Lord Grey. Thank God he has at last disappeared from that North Wall, against which so many sunless years of his life have been passed!

Your sincere and affectionate friend,
Sydney Smith.

299.] To John Murray, Esq.
8, Gloucester-place, Clifton.
No date: about
My dear Murray,

Pray tell me how you are all going on in Scotland. Is Jeffrey much damaged? They say he fought like a lion, and would have been killed had he been more visible; but that several people struck at him who could see nothing, and so battered infinite space instead of the Advocate.

I think Lord Grey will give me some preferment if he stays in long enough; but the upper parsons live vindictively, and evince their aversion to a Whig Ministry by an improved health. The Bishop of —— has the rancour to recover after three paralytic strokes, and the Dean of —— to be vigorous at eighty-two. And yet these are men who are called Christians!

Do these political changes make any difference in your business? You are so rich, that it is of no consequence; but still it is pleasant to progress. Give my kind regards to your excellent wife, and to Mrs. Jeffrey, a great favourite of mine.

Sydney Smith.

300.] To Mrs. Meynell.
Combe Florey, November, 1830.
My dear Mrs. Meynell,

What do you think of all these burnings? and have you heard of the new sort of burnings? Ladies’ maids have taken to set their mistresses on fire. Two dowagers were burnt last week, and large rewards
are offered! They are inventing little fire-engines for the toilet-table, worked with lavender water!

This place is perfection; I never saw a more charming parsonage or a more beautiful country. I go to Bristol for a residence of six weeks at the end of the year, or sooner, if my house is set on fire.

Never was any Administration so completely and so suddenly destroyed; and, I believe, entirely by the Duke’s declaration; made, I suspect, in perfect ignorance of the state of public feeling and opinion.

Adieu! Ever yours affectionately,

Sydney Smith.

301.] To Sir George Philips.
Combe Florey, Dec. 20th, 1830.
My dear Philips,

I was in hopes to have spent a quiet old-age; but all Europe is getting into a blaze, and that lightheaded old fool, La Fayette, wants, I see, to crusade it for Poland. Swing is retiring. He is only formidable when he takes you unawares. He was stopped in his way from Kent before he reached us. I can give you no plan for employing the poor. I took great pains about these matters when I was a magistrate, but have forgotten all my plans. There are too many human beings on the earth: every two men ought to kill a third.

I should not be surprised if there were a dissolution of Parliament. I think the Tories will try to make a last rally with this Parliament, yet the fools ought to see that there is nothing between Lord Grey and Cobbett.


—— spent a fortnight with us; he was remarkably well and contradictory—clear of gout and of assent.

Read the ‘Collegians,’ an admirable novel, but an old one, of two or three years’ standing.

Sydney Smith.