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They all burst into tears. It flung me also into a great agitation of tears, and I wept and groaned for a long time.
Then I rose, and said I thought it was very likely to end in their keeping a buggy, at which we all laughed as violently. The poor old lady, who was sleeping in a garret because she could not bear to enter into the room lately inhabited by her husband, sent for me and kissed me, sobbing with a thousand emotions. The charitable physician wept too... I never passed so remarkable a morning, nor was more deeply impressed with the sufferings of human life, and never felt more thoroughly the happiness of doing good."
This man had a heart, but young Tate had none, for he no sooner got himself securely fixed in the parish than, in spite of his benefactor's remonstrances, he turned out his fellow-curate, who by a singular coincidence, was also the son of a former vicar of Edmonton.
Towards the end of his life, Sidney Smith became a rich man. His younger brother spent his years in India in amassing £100,000, came home an old, infirm, solitary man, and died suddenly without making any will. To the third part of this sum Sidney became entitled. “ After buying,” he says, “ into the Consols and the Reduced, I read Seneca ‘On the contempt of Wealth.' What intolerable nonsense.” This was his creed. To be kind, benevolent, honest, moral, and to enjoy all the good he could get out of the world. He says he felt happier for every pound he got richer. Had he looked into the gospel instead of Seneca, he might have found better reasons for despising wealth. The year before he died he gives this true picture of himself, in a letter dated June 29, 1844. am seventy-four years of age ; and being Canon of St. Paul's and a rector of a parish in the country, my time is divided equally between town and country. I am living amongst the best society in the Metropolis, and at ease in my circumstances; in tolerable health, a mild Whig, a tolerating Churchman, and much given to talking, laughing, and noise. I dine with the rich in London, and physic the poor in the country ; passing from the sauces of Dives to the sores of Lazarus. I am upon the whole a happy man; have found the world an entertaining world, and am thankful to providence for the part allotted to me in it.” He laughed even at his own maladies. Sidney,” he says to a friend,“ has eight distinct illnesses and I have nine. We take something every hour, and pass the mixture from one to the other." "I am only
half recovered," he tells Lord Mahon, "from a violent attack of gout in the knee, and I could not bear the confinement of dinner, without getting up and walking between the courses, or thrusting my foot on somebody else's chair, like the Archbishop of Dublin.”. He was, in fact, not unlike the portrait he drew of one of his acquaintances:
Going gently down hill, trusting that the cookery in another planet may be at least as good as in this, but not without apprehension that for misconduct here, he might be sentenced to a thousand years of tough mutton, or condemned to a little eternity of family dinners.''
He studied comfort in everything. Very high and very low temperature,” he said, “ extinguishes all human sympathy and relations. It is impossible to feel affection beyond 789, or below 20° of Fahrenheit; human nature is too solid or too liquid beyond these limits. Man only lives to shiver or to perspire...I cannot fall into the absurd English fashion of going in open carriages in the months of December and January—seasons when I should prefer to go in a bottle, well corked and sealed.”
He was passionately fond of society and always had the lion's share of the conversation. Mc. Auley and he, he said, often as they met, never once heard each other's voice. And when he had finished a good story he would say: “Poor Mc. Auley, he will regret not having heard that."
An American lady would not listen, and insisted on having the talk to herself; Sidney revenged himself by describing her as one who abuses the privilege of literary women, to be plain ; and, in addition, has the true Kentucky twang through the nose, converting that promontory into an organ of speech.
Like Johnson he disliked country life, and loved the city only: “The summer and the country," he says, "have no charm 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 delusion 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.” He cared not for the acquaintance of the vegetable world, and were it not for the interference of friends "would order the roses to be boiled for
dinner, and gather a cauliflower for a nosegay. real use of the country," he said, "is to find food for cities; but as for the residence of any man who is neither butcher nor baker, nor food-grower in any of its branches, it is a dreadful waste of existence and abuse of life.' Mrs. Sidney and I,” he tells Lady Grey, "have been leading a Darby-and-Joan life for these last two months, without children. This kind of life might have done very well for Adam and Eve in Paradise, where the weather was fine and the beasts as numerous as in the Zoological Gardens, and the plants equal to anything in the gardens about London, but I like a greater variety......We are expecting some company, but the idea of filling a country house with pleasant people is a dream; it all ends in excuses and disappointments, and nobody comes but the parson of the parish......I suspect that the fifth act of life should be in great cities; it is there, in the long death of old age, that a man most forgets himself and his infirniities; receives the greatest consolation from the attention of his friends, and the greatest diversion from external circumstances. “We are,” he tells his daughter, "going through our usual course of jokes and dinners; one advantage of the country is, that a joke once established is good for ever ; it is like the stuff which is denominated everlasting, and used as pantaloons by careful parents for their children. In London you expect a change of pleasantry; but M. and N. laugh more at my six-year-old jokes than they did when the jokes were in their infancy.”
Amongst his other maladies, he was subject to hayfever. "My fear is,” he says, perishing by deliquescence; I melt away in nasal and lachrymal profluvia... Light, dust, contradiction, an absurd remark, the sight of a dissenter sets me sneezing; and if I begin sneezing at twelve I do not leave off until two o'clock, and am heard distinctly in Taunton when the wind sets that way,-a distance of six miles.”
In 1835 he took his wife and youngest daughter, Mrs. Hibbert, to Paris. To his eldest daughter, Lady Holland, he thus describes the passage from Dover to Calais: “It blew a hurricane all that night, and we were kept awake by thinking of the different fish by which we should be devoured, on the following day. I thought I should fall to the lot of some female porpoise, who, mistaking me for a porpoise, but finding me only a parson, would make a dinner of me.” He often jests about his obesity, but as death approached he began to grow lean. “If," he says, to the Countess of Carlisle, “ you hear of sixteen or eighteen pounds of human flesh, they belong to me. I look as if a curate had been taken out of me.
This letter to the Countess of Carlisle, which is the last but one in the volume, was written on the 21st of October, 1844, and he died in London, on the 22nd of February, 1845. We have endeavoured to convey some idea of that exhaustless fund of wit, which renders the volume containing his letters as interesting as a good novel; and to exhibit him as an affectionate husband, a loving father, a faithful friend, and a powerful and unflinching advocate of right and justice. No man erer had an equal power of converting words into “sharp swords,” and he was not sparing of his weapons when intolerance was to be beaten down, or cant and hypocrisy to be stripped of the mask and exposed to the scorn of the world.
NOTICES OF BOOKS. I.-The Annals of Ireland, by the Four Masters. Consisting of the
Irish Text, from the Original MS., and an English Translation, with copious explanatory Notes, and an Index of Names, Places, and Events, By John O'DONOVAN, L.L.D. New Edition (Prospectus). Dublin : Hodges and Smith, 1855.
It is needless for us to say one word in recommendation of this great national undertaking. We have already spoken at great length of the first edition, which was published several years ago. The reprint of that edition now in preparation is to us a source of still higher gratification. It will bring the work within the reach of many
whose means the earlier and more expensive edition was found unsuitable; and while it contains precisely the same matter as the former, and is printed in a style, which, if not equally luxurious, is quite as elegant and substantial, it is issued at a cost from which comparatively humble collectors may not shrink.
To the patronage of our clergy especially, we commend a work which for them possesses a peculiar interest, and which comes before them sanctioned by the unanimous recommendation of the episcopal body.
PRINTED BY RICHARDSON AND SON, DENBY.
Art. I.—Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac
Newton. By Sir David BREWSTER, K. H. &c. 2 vols, Edinburgh: Constable and Co. 1855.
E hardly know how far it may be possible for any
powers of description, or any charm of style to communicate interest to the biography of a mere philosopher; of one who is remarkable neither for the more showy grandeur or the more vulgar weaknesses of our nature, whose passions have not been thrown into relief by great events, and whose life has been diversified by no variety of fortune. It may be a fault in our organization, or it may be owing to the influence under which our habits of mind have been formed, that the heroes of science, the explorers of the ocean of natural truth, or the still bolder adventurers that tempt the heights and depths of metaphysical speculation, cannot awaken our curiosity or enlist our feelings to anything like the same extent as a poet, a soldier, a saint, a statesman, a highwayman, or a dozen other equally questionable characters. To those, of course, whose pursuits are identical with his own, the history of the philosopher is full of interest, and that too of the most practical description. In studying the life of a philosopher you necessarily follow, to some extent at least, the history of the science with which he has connected his name; and if the investigations you propose to yourself are of a like character with his, you naturally look to his history for enlightenment and guidance. This is more especially true with respect to the physical sciences, which lie
VOL. XXXIX.-NO. LXXVIII.