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A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith
Letters 1840
Sydney Smith to Lady Jane Davy, 20 November 1840

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
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Letters 1810
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Letters 1813
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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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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
Green-street, Nov. 28th, 1840.
Dear Lady Davy,

Do you remember that passage in the ‘Paradise Lost’ which is considered so beautiful?—
“As one who, long in populous cities pent,
Where houses thick and sewers annoy the air,
Forth issuing on a summer’s morn, to breathe
Among the pleasant villages and farms
Adjoin’d, from each thing met conceives delight;
The smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine,
Or flowers: each rural sight, each rural sound.
If chance with nymph-like step fair virgin pass,
What pleasing seem’d, for her now pleases more,
She most; and in her look sums all delight.”

I think this simile very unjust to London, and I have amended the passage. I read it over to Lady Charlotte Lindsay and the Miss Berrys. The question was, whom the gentleman should see first when he arrived in London; and after various proposals, it was at last unanimously agreed it must be you: so it stands thus:—
“As one who, long in rural hamlets pent,
Where squires and parsons deep potations make,
With lengthen’d tale of fox, or timid hare,
Or antler’d stag, sore vext by hound and horn,
Forth issuing on a winter’s morn, to reach
In chaise or coach the London Babylon
Remote, from each thing met conceives delight;
Or cab, or car, or evening muffin-bell,
Or lamps: each city sight, each city sound.
If chance with nymph-like step the Davy pass,
What pleasing seem’d, for her now pleases more,
She most; and in her look sums all delight.”

I tried the verses with names of other ladies, but the universal opinion was, in the conclave of your friends, that it must be you; and this told, now tell me, dear Lady Davy, how do you do? Shall we ever see you again? We are dying very fast here; come and take another look at us. Mrs. Sydney is in the country, in rather bad health; I am (gout and asthma excepted) very well.

The sword is slowly and reluctantly returning into its scabbard. The Ministry hangs by a thread. We are alarmed by the Auckland war.

You are much loved here, and much lamented; and this is pleasant, even though thousands of miles intervene. I should be glad to know that anybody under the equator or the southern tropic held me in regard and esteem.

Sydney Smith.