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long ago renounced and abandoned as untenable. And what I have written in Latin and published in Germany, I shall defend in my own language, and justify to my own countrymen, wheuever the proper time shall arrive. “ I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,
“ J. W. DONALDSON,”
This puts the matter fairly to issue. The writer will answer for all his opinions to his own countrymen, when the proper time arrives. This, we presume, would be, when those ecclesiastical superiors to whom appeal bas been made, shall summon him to do so. If these do not call him to account, he has a right, after this challenge, to conclude that all his opinions are within the limits of those tolerated, or rather protected-for this silence shields them-within the national religion. If he can conclude this, we have a right to do the same.
Art. VIII.- A Memoir of the Reverend Sidney Smith, by his Daughter,
LADY HOLLAND. With a selection from his Letters, edited by Mrs. Austin. 2 vols. London: Longman, 1855.
S Sidney Smith, who was then a dignitary of the
favourite bay-window, in his comfortable parsonage at Combe Florey, in Somersetshire, a pompous little man in rusty black was ushered into the apartment. “May I
the Canon of St. Paul's, “what procures me the honour of this visit!” “Oh,” said the little man, “I am compounding a history of the distinguished families in Somersetshire, and have called to obtain the Smith's arms." “I regret, sir,” he replied, “not to be able to contribute to so valuable a work, but the Smiths never had any arms, and have invariably sealed their letters with their thumbs.” He loved to repeat the answer of Junot to the old noblesse when boasting of their ancestors : " Ah, ma foi ! je n'en sais rien ; mois je suis mon ancetre.” Writ
ing to Mrs. Meynell, Feb. 25th, 1831, he uses this lively comparison to express his horror even of those wars and revolutions which are undertaken for the advancement of civilization. “ Wild beasts must be killed in the progress of civilization, but thank God that my ancestors,—that is not mine, for I had none, but Mr. Meynell's ancestors,did this some centuries ago.” And in 1826, writing to his wife from Paris, he says: “I have bought a coat of arms on a seal for six shillings, which will hereafter be the coat of arms of the family; this letter is sealed with it." On his carriage—when he got one-he put the motto, Faber meæ fortunæ, by which he declared to all the world that he owed nothing for lineage, and that he was the architect of his own fortune.
Yet Sidney Smith could not say with poor Burns, that his
"Ignoble blood Had flowed through scoundrels ever since the flood,” for he was the son of a gentleman of moderate fortune. flis father, Mr. Robert Smith, was very clever, but odd by nature, and still more odd by design. He married at an early age a Miss Olier, the younger daughter of a French einigrant, whose family was dependent for support on a school for young ladies, which was kept by his elder daughter in Bloomsbury Square. At the church door Mr. Smith gave his beautiful bride in charge to her mother, and immediately set off to America. After wandering over the world for many years he returned, recovered his wife, and spent the remainder of a long life in diminishing his fortune, by buying, altering, spoiling, and then selling about nineteen different places in England, till, in his old age, he at last settled at Bishop's Lydiard, in Somersetshire, where he died. He was the father of five children, no two of which, it is to be presumed, saw the light in the same county. In 1771 Robert Smith resided at Woodford, in Essex, and in that year his second son, Sidney, was born. The child inherited a little of his father's address, and all the sprightliness of his mother. Sidney once upon a time met a gentleman in a coach who told him of a very odd clever fellow called Sidney Smith, who then resided at Bristol. He instantly and very properly informed his companion that he was Sidney Smith, because, he says, my companions might have proceeded to
inform me that I had murdered my grandmother, and this I would have been obliged to have resented. Had he been less witty, many things which he did and wrote and said would have acquired for him the character of an odd fellow, but as it was, they became the accessories of his wit. No other man could have farmed by means of a speaking trumpet, or driven about the country with a sieve of corn attached to the point of the shaft of a vehicle, which had so often been renewed by village carpenters, tinkers, and tailors, that he called it the immortal—the object of the said sieve being to delude a lazy horse into the idea that if he were to trot he would overtake a feed of oats—without incurring the imminent risk of being shut up for life in a lunatic asylum. But what would have been insanity in another man, Sidney's comments made irresistibly ludicrous, at the same time that they effectually secured himself from being regarded as a buffoon. On the contrary, you learned to admire him by the light of his genius, which shone upon everything which which he came in contact. Nil teligit quod non ornarit. He called this sluggish horse Calamity, and the sieve his patent Tantalus. He used to ride as well as drive Tantalus, and we must, as an illustration of what we have been saying, allow himself to tell how his equestrianism came to an end.
“I used,' he says, “to consider a fall from a horse dangerous, but much experience has convinced me to the contrary. I have had six falls in two years, and just behaved like the three per cents when they fall. I got up again, and am not a bit the worse for it, any more than the stock in question. Nevertheless, he adds, 'I left off riding, for the good of my parish and the peace of my family; for, somehow or other, my horse and I had a habit of parting company. On one occasion I found myself suddenly prostrate in the streets of York, much to the delight of the Dissenters. Another time my horse Calamity flung me over his head into a neighbouring parish, as if I had been a shuttlecock, and I felt grateful it was not into a neighbouring planet; but as no harm came of it, I might have persevered perhaps if, ou a certain day a quaker tailor from a neighbouring village, to which I had said I was going to ride, bad not taken it into his head to call soon after my departure, and request to see Mrs. Sidney. She instantly, conceiving I was th if not killed, rushed down to the man exclaiming, Where is he? where is your master ? is he hurt? The astonished and quaking snip stood silent from surprise. Still more agitated by his silence, she exclaimed, 'Is he hurt? I insist upon knowing th:
worst.' Why, please ma'am, it is only thy little bill, a very small account, I wanted to settle,' replied he in much surprise."
After this he gave up riding, notwithstanding his conviction that he knew one man who was a worse rider than himself, and who was at least one fall ahead of him.
Sidney Smith, and his elder brother, Robert, inherited from their mother, along with other estimable things, a considerable portion of her beauty. Robert was very intimate with Tallyrand, when he was living as an emigrant in this country. On one occasion the conversation turned upon the beauty often transmitted by parents to their children. Young Smith spoke with enthusiasm of his mother's beauty, on which Tallyrand exclaimed with a shrug, “ Ah! mon ami, çetait donc apparement monsieur votre père qui vetait pas bien.'
Their mother describes the young Smiths as neglecting games, seizing every hour of leisure for study, and often lying on the floor stretched over their books, discussing with loud voice and most vehement gesticulation, every point that arose, often subjects above their years, and arguing upon them with a warmth and fierceness as if life and death hung upon the issue. At the age of six Sidney was sent to school to Southampton, and from thence with his youngest brother, Courtenay, to the Foundation at Winchester. There they suffered many years of misery and positive starvation; there never was enough provided, even of the coarsest food, for the whole school, and the little boys were of course left to fare as they could.” Even in his old age he used to shudder at the recollection of Winchester, nor could he ever speak but with horror of the whole system, which was one of abuse, neglect, and vice. But in spite of hunger and neglect, he rose to be captain of the school, and the two brothers received a flattering, though involuntary, compliment from their schoolfellows, who signed a round-robin and sent it to Dr. Warton, the Warden, "refusing to try for the college prizes if the Smiths were allowed to contend for them any more, as they always gained them.' He used to say,
I believe, whilst a boy at school, I made above ten thousand Latin verses, and no man in his senses would dream in after life of ever making another.” But although he did not make any more verses he preserved his knowledge of the language by reading some Latin
book, and translating English into Latin every day of his life. From this picture of Winchester School it would seem that the original of Dotheboys Hall might have been found in other parts of England as well as in Yorkshire.
As Captain of Winchester Sidney Smith became entitled to a Scholarship and afterwards to a Fellowship in New College, Oxford. Before going there his father sent him to Mount Villiers, in Normandy, where he remained en pension for six months, to perfect his knowledge of French, which he spoke ever afterwards with great fluency, although he did not write it correctly. As the fierceness of the French Revolution was then at its height, he thought it necessary to enroll himself in one of the Jacobin clubs of the town, in which he was entered as “ Le Citoyen Smit, Membre Affilié au Club des Jacobins de Mont Villiers.” And, in fact, had it not been for his address and citizenship he would have been hung on a lantern-post along with his brother and Captain Drinkwater, who in spite of his remonstrances had drawn the gendarme upon them, by commencing to sketch the works at Cherbourg.
New College, which he entered on his return from France, was renowned for nothing but the quantity of port wine consumed by the Fellows. Sidney obtained his fellowship as soon as possible, but as this was worth only £100. per annum, and as his father never afterwards gave him a penny until his death, he had to choose between a gaol and abstinence from port wine. Sidney choose the latter alternative, and to his abstinence he owed perhaps his health and moral conduct, as well as his liberty. Indeed, with his slender income, he not only kept clear of debts himself, but even paid £30. which his brother Courtenay owed at Winchester. Had Sidney, with his fascinating powers, become a member of a drinking club in College, there can be little doubt but that he would have been ruined.
On leaving college it became necessary to choose a profession. His own inclination was strongly in favour of the Bar, but his father urged him so earnestly to enter the Church, that he felt it his duty to obey, and he became a curate in a small village in the midst of Salisbury Plain. Ile describes himself as the first pauper in the hamlet, which consisted of a few scattered cottages and farms. Once a week a butcher's cart came over from Salisbury,