LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Letters 1838

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
402.] To the Countess Grey.
Dear Lady Grey,
* * * * *

I suppose you do not mean to be in town till after Easter. I shall be there the middle of next month. I was in town all November. The general notion was, that the Whigs were weakened; at the same time it is not easy to see how the ill temper of the Radicals will get them out. The Radicals will never dare to vote with the Tories, and on all Radical questions the Tories will vote with the Government. I see, by the report of the Church Commissioners for November last, that all the points for which the Cathedrals contended are given up. This is very handsome on the
part of the Commissioners; and their reform, whether wise or not, will at least be just.

I hope Lord Grey continues quite well; but quite well, I find, at sixty-seven, means about twelve or fourteen distinct ailments; weak eyes, a violent pain in the ankle, stomach slightly disordered, etc.

I have had a long correspondence with Lord John Russell about shutting St. Paul’s, which I have published, and would send you if it were a subject of any interest. Joseph Hume wants to make himself popular with the Middlesex electors; Lord John is afraid of Joseph Hume: hence all the correspondence.

I send you a list of my papers in the Edinburgh Review. If you keep that journal, some of them may amuse you when you are out of spirits.

Ever affectionately yours,
S. S.

403.] To R. Monckton Milnes, Esq.
June 30th, 1838.
My dear Sir,

If you want to get a place for a relation, you must not delay it till he is born, but make an application for him in utero, about the fifth or sixth month. The same with any smaller accommodation.

You ask for tickets on Wednesday, to go to St. Paul’s on Thursday, my first promise dating 1836! I would however have done my possible, but your letter did not arrive till Saturday (paulo post). The fact is, I have been wandering about the coast, for Mrs. Sydney’s health; and am taken by the Preventive
Service for a brandy merchant, waiting an opportunity of running goods on a large scale.

I wish you many long and hot dinners with lords and ladies, wits and poets; and am always truly yours,

Sydney Smith.

404.] To Lady Davy.
July 7th, 1838.
Dear Lady Davy,

Common-place, delivered in a boisterous manner, three miles off; and bad, tedious music. If you choose to expose yourself to this in cold blood, it becomes my duty to afford you the means of doing so; for which purpose I enclose, with my affectionate benediction, the order to the “virgins.”

Pray excuse me from dining just now. I am possessed by a legion of devils. Accustomed to a hot climate, they are very active in warm weather. Ever yours,

Sydney Smith.

405.] To Miss G. Harcourt.
Charles-street, 1838.
My dear Georgina,

You see how desirous I am to do what you bid me. In general, nothing is so foolish as to recommend a medicine. If I am doing a foolish thing, you are not the first young lady who has driven an old gentleman to this line of action.

That loose and disorderly young man, E—— H——, has mistaken my wishes for my powers, and has told
you that I proposed to do, what I only said I should be most happy to do. I have overstayed my time so much here, that I must hasten home, and feed my starving flock. I should have left London before, but how could I do so, in the pains and perils of the Church, which I have been defending at all moral hazards? Young tells me that nothing will induce the Archbishop to read my pamphlets, or to allow you to read them.

The summer and the country, dear Georgina, have no charms for me. I look forward anxiously to the return of bad weather, coal fires, and good society in a crowded city. I have no relish for the country; it is a kind of healthy grave. I am afraid you are not exempt from the delusions of flowers, green turf, and birds; they all afford slight gratification, but not worth an hour of rational conversation: and rational conversation in sufficient quantities is only to be had from the congregation of a million of people in one spot. God bless you!

Sydney Smith.

406.] To Sir George Philips.
About September, 1838.
My dear Philips,

You will be glad to hear that I have had a fit of the gout, but I cannot flatter you with its being anything very considerable. The Miss Berrys and Lady Charlotte Lindsay are here, and go tomorrow to Torquay. I have by this post had a letter from John Murray, who seems to rejoice in his Highland castle.

I have just written a pamphlet against Ballot, and
shall publish it with my name at the proper time. I have done it to employ my leisure. No politics in it, but a bonâ fide discussion. I am an anti-ballotist. It will be carried, however, write I never so wisely.

Lord Valletort possessed of Mount Edgecumbe, and bent double with rheumatism! there is a balance in human conditions! Charles Wynne is a truly good man. Pray remember me very kindly to Lushington, and beg he will come, with all his family, Professor and all, to Combe Florey. The curses of Glasgow are, itch, punch, cotton, and metaphysics. I hope Mr. Lushington will discourage classical learning as much as he can.

Nickleby is very good. I stood out against Mr. Dickens as long as I could, but he has conquered me.

Get, and read, Macaulay’s Papers upon the Indian Courts and Indian Education. They are admirable for their talent and their honesty. We see why he was hated in India, and how honourable to him that hatred is. Your sincere friend,

Sydney Smith.

407.] To the Countess of Carlisle.
Combe Florey, September, 1838.
Dear Lady Carlisle,

I see by the papers that you are going abroad, which is all wrong; but pray tell me how you and Lord Carlisle do, before you embark, and when you come back.

We have had a great succession here of literary ladies. The Berrys are gone to Torquay, which they pronounce to be the most beautiful place in England,
or out of it. They stayed some time with us, and were agreeable and good-natured. Then came ——, who talked to me a good deal about war and cannons. I thought him agreeable, but am advised to look him over again when I return to London.
Luttrell and Mrs. Marcet are here now. —— is staying here, whom I have always considered as the very type of Lovelace in ‘Clarissa Harlowe.’ It is impossible, you know, to read an interesting book, and not to clothe the characters in the flesh and blood of living people. He is Lovelace; and who do you think is my imaginary Clarissa? A certain lady who has been at Castle Howard, whom, on account of her purity, I dare not name, sojourning in —— Street, and an admirer of yours, and a friend of mine. Who can it be?

I have written the pamphlet you ordered upon the Ballot; and as you love notoriety, I mean to dedicate it to you, with the most fulsome praise: virtues—talents—grace—elegance—illustrious ancestors—British feeling—mother of Morpeth—humble servant, etc.

Your sincere and obliged friend,
Sydney Smith.

408.] To the Countess Grey.
Combe Florey, September, 1838.
My dear Lady Grey,

I hope you are all well and safe at Howick. I have never stirred an inch from this place since I came from town,—six weeks since: an incredible time to remain
at one place. This absence of locomotion has however been somewhat secured by a fit of the gout, from which I am just recovered; and which, under the old regime, and before the reign of colchicum, would have laid me up for ten weeks instead of ten days. I know you will quote against me
Sir Oracle Hammick; but to him I oppose Sir Oracles Halford, Holland, Chambers, and Warren.

Have you, or has Lord Grey, been among the wise men at Newcastle? Headlam asked me to go; but, though I can endure small follies and absurdities, the nonsense of these meetings is too intense for my advanced years and delicate frame. One of the Bills for which I have been fighting so long has passed; and I have the satisfaction of seeing that every point to which I objected has been altered; so that I have not mingled in the affray for nothing.

Pray tell me about yourself, and whether you are tolerably well; but how can you be well, when you have so many children and so many anxieties afloat? How does dear Georgiana do?—that honest and transparent girl; so natural, so cheerful, so true! A moral flower, whom I always think of, when I sketch in my mind a garden of human creatures.

Read Dr. Spry’sAccount of India,’ and believe, if you can, (I do,) that within one hundred and fifty miles of Calcutta, there is a nation of cannibals living in trees. It is an amusing book. Read, also, Macaulay’s Papers upon Indian Education, and the Administration of Justice in India; but I hardly think you care about India.

We have never been a single day without company, principally blue-stocking ladies, whose society Lord
Grey so much likes. Believe me, dear Lady Grey, your affectionate friend,

Sydney Smith.

409.] To Lady Holland.
September 6th, 1838.

If all the friends, dear Lady Holland, who have shared in your kindness and hospitality, were to give a little puff, you would be blown over to Calais with a gentle and prosperous gale. I admire your courage; and earnestly hope, as I sincerely believe, that you will derive great amusement and satisfaction, and therefore improved health, from your expedition.

I am out of temper with Lord Melbourne, and upon the subject of the Church; but in case of an election, I should vote as I always have done, with the Whigs. As for little John, I love him, though I chastise him. I have never lifted up my voice against the Duke of Lancaster; I should be the most ungrateful of men if I did.

We have had a run of blue-stocking ladies to Combe Florey this summer, a race you despise. To me they are agreeable, and less insipid than the general run of women; for you know, my Lady, the female mind does not reason.

Kindest regards to the Duke of Lancaster.

S. S.

410.] To the Countess Grey.
Combe Florey, December, 1838.

Awkward times, dear Lady Grey! However, you
see those you love, sooner than you otherwise would have seen them, and see them safely returned from a bad climate and disturbed country; and this is something, though not much. I do not see with whom
Durham can coalesce. Not with Ministers, certainly; not with ——; not with Peel; scarcely with the Radicals. I see no light as to his future march. Will these matters bring Lord Grey up to town at the beginning of the session? I sincerely hope he may not think it necessary to place himself in such a painful and distressing situation. I think the Whigs are damaged, and that they will have considerable difficulty in the registration. The Hibberts are here, helping us to spend the winter; but nothing can make the country agreeable to me. It is bad enough in summer, but in winter is a fit residence only for beings doomed to such misery, for misdeeds in another state of existence.

On Sunday I was on crutches, utterly unable to put my foot to the ground. On Tuesday I walked four miles. Such is the power of colchicum! I shall write another letter about Church matters, and then take my leave of the subject; also, as I believe I told you before, a pamphlet against the Ballot.

What a strange affair is your Newcastle murder! it is impossible to comprehend it. I think you will want a cunning man from Bow-street.

Believe me, dear Lady Grey, ever your affectionate friend,

Sydney Smith.