Years after, in an article in the Edinburgh Review, he wrote against the cruel and oppressive system of fagging pursued in such places; the false notion of hardening youth by exposing it to privations which were positive evils, under plea of inuring to hardships which there was little probability of meeting in after-life; the heartless exposure to premature vice and the almost inevitable neglect of instruction, with so great a number of pupils.* As captain of the school, Sydney was of course an adept in the composition of Latin verses, one of the chief benefits of which was the inexhaustible subject of ridicule it afforded to him through life. The brothers Sydney and Courtenay were such proficients at Winchester, that a round robin was sent up by the pupils to the effect that it was useless to contend for the prizes as the Smiths always gained them. Another anecdote places the young Sydney in a picturesque light. A visiter of distinction came to the school and found him reading Virgil under a tree while his schoolfellows

*Though learning and academic honours seem readily to have been acquired at these institutions by the members of the Smith family, their personal experience was by no means favourable. "Even in old age," says his daughter of her father Sydney, “I have heard him speak with horrour of the misery of the years he spent at Winchester. He suffered there many years of misery and positive starvation." Courtenay was compelled by ill usage to run away twice from the same school. At a later day Sydney's son Douglas became King's scholar at Westminster. When he was sent to the school in 1820 his father writes to a lady correspondent: "Douglas is gone to school; not with a light heart, for the first year of Westminster in College is severe - an intense system of tyranny, of which the English are very fond, and think it fits a boy for the world; but the world, bad as it is, has nothing half so bad." "The hardships and cruelties Douglas suffered as a junior boy from his master," his mother tells us, "were such as at one time very nearly to compel us to remove him from the school. He was taken home for a short period, to recover from his bruises and restore his eye. His first act, on becoming captain himself, was to endeavour to ameliorate the condition of the juniors, and to obtain additional comforts for them from the head master."

Rogers tells us in illustration of the system (Dyce's Table Talk) that "when Lord Holland was a school-boy, he was forced, as a fag, to toast bread with his fingers for the breakfast of another boy. Lord H.'s mother sent him a toasting-fork. His fagger broke it over his head, and still compelled him to prepare the toast in the old way. In consequence of this his fingers suffered so much that they always retained a withered appearance."

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were at play. He took the book from the boy's hand, patted his head, uttered the words: "Clever boy! clever boy! that is the way to conquer the world," and clinched the encouraging aphorism with the gift of a shilling. The encomium and prophecy are said to have produced a strong impression on the youthful scholar.*

A brief interval was passed by Sydney between Winchester and Oxford. He was for six months in a boarding-school in France, at Mont Villiers in Normandy, where he acquired a familiar knowledge of the language, which he ever afterward retained, and saw something of the troubled scenes of the French Revolution. Plain Sydney, for obvious prudential reasons, became "Le Citoyen Smit" affiliated member of the Club of Jacobins of Mont Villiers. At New College, Oxford, his career, of which little has been told the public, was one of industry and its rewards. He was safe, in his constitutional temperance and sense of independence, from the usual temptations to dissipation and expense. He received his degree of Bachelor of Arts, Oct. 10, 1792, and that of Master of Arts exactly four years later. He secured his fellowship at the earliest moment, with its perquisite of a hundred pounds a year, out of which he managed to support himself and magnanimously pay a debt of thirty pounds which his brother Courtenay had contracted at Westminster school.

The world was now before Sydney for the choice of a profession. His father at one time meditated sending him in the track of his brothers to the East, in the mercantile line as supercargo to China; the youth himself naturally thought of carrying his powers of mind, well suited to the profession, to the bar; his father settled the matter by choosing for him the church, Sydney, who was a practical optimist, acquiesced and was installed in 1794 as a humble curate in the parish of Netheravon near Amesbury in the middle of Salisbury Plain. His parochial domain was limited to a few cottagers and farmers, relieved by the Sunday dinner with the parish squire, Mr. Hicks Beach, who fortunately apprehended

* Lady Holland's Memoir, p. 19.



the sagacity and education of his visiter, "took a fancy" to him, and at the close of a second year engaged him as teacher to his eldest son.* A course at the university of Weimar was determined upon; but the wars of the continent put an end to the plan: and, "in stress of politics," as Sydney Smith himself has related, "he put into Edinburgh." This was in 1797.

The incidents of Sydney Smith's domestic life with his pupil at Edinburgh are happily related in his correspondence with the family of Mr. Beach. † He took lodgings in an excellent quarter of the town and kept up a bachelor's establishment with his pupil Michael and a German courier, Mithoffer, the companion of the journey. All sorts of domestic difficulties were encountered. He conquered the susceptibility of his housemaid and kept her in his service, safe from the attacks of "seven sweethearts;" went to market himself till Mithoffer became a better "judge of meat;" failed lamentably in a joint attempt with cook and courier to "make a pie;" laid in beef in the salting tub and "looked into the family affairs like a fat old lady of forty." At the coming on of winter the female owner of the premises attempted to raise the rent. Sydney resisted the imposition and held his ground notwithstanding the landlady called him "a Levite, a scourge of human nature and an extortioner," and ordered him out "instantly, bag and baggage, without beat of drum or colours flying."

Judging from the candid reports sent home, which by no means exhibit the usual flattery of such relations, Sydney Smith was a

* Mr. Hicks Beach at one time represented Cirencester in Parliament. Cobbett, in his Rural Rides in the Counties of England, gives an account of a visit in 1826 to Netheravon. He speaks of the valley of the Avon in which the village is situated as of great beauty-and the population as having deteriorated. "There is a church, large enough to hold a thousand or two of people, and the whole parish contains only three hundred and fifty souls, men, women, and children. This Netheravon was formerly a great lordship, and in the parish there were three considerable mansion-houses, besides the one near the church."

The letters of Sydney Smith, chiefly addressed to Mrs. Beach appear in the later English editions of Lady Holland's Memoir.



faithful guardian. While he stimulated mental exertion and exacted personal respect he was, no doubt, a very agreeable one. His admirable art of conveying information, must have made instruction very much a pastime. The tuition was moreover relieved by summer excursions in the Highlands and Wales, and winter advances into the attractive circles of Edinburgh society.

A passage of the Highland experiences is characteristic in its double consciousness of sublimity and inconvenience. "He knows not the earth," Sydney writes, "who has only seen it swelling into the moderate elevation, or sinking to the gentle descent of southern hills and valleys. He has never trod on the margin of the fearful precipice, journeyed over the silent wilderness, and gazed at the torrent hiding itself in the profound glen. He has never viewed Nature but as she is associated with human industry; and is unacquainted with large tracts of the earth from which the care of man can hope for no return; which seem never to have been quickened with the principle of vegetation, or to have participated in the bounties of Him whose providence is over all. This we have seen in the Highlands; but we have mortified the body in gratifying the mind. We have been forced to associate oat-cakes and whiskey with rocks and waterfalls, and humble in a dirty room the conceptions we indulged in a romantic glen."

Edinburgh society was then on the verge of a new intellectual development. It was rich in honour and promise. Taking the year of Sydney Smith's arrival for a glance at its celebrities, we find Jeffrey, his future intimate and associate in friendship and letters, at the age of twenty-four, recently entered at the bar, fresh from his energetic, youthful studies, and the invigorating, mental exercises of the Speculative Society. Brougham, a young man, just entered at the Speculative, was laying the foundation of his great public career. Walter Scott, the mention of whose name gives a glow to the time, was twenty-six, an advocate-his head filled with as yet undeveloped studies of romantic history, which was all living reality in the heart of the young lover at the feet of



the future Lady Scott. Francis Horner, one of the youngest members of the whig circle of the town, destined to become honourably distinguished in a brief, public career, was that year absent from his native place, polishing off in England the asperities of his native dialect. Sydney Smith, attracted to him by his personal worth and liberal politics, sought his acquaintance on his return, and formed a noble friendship interrupted only by death. John Allen who, not long after, was recommended by Sydney Smith to Lord Holland as his travelling-companion in Spain, whose historical studies and personal qualities secured for him a forty years' residence at Holland House, was a physician and reform politician, at the age of twenty-seven; highly distinguished for his Edinburgh Lectures on the Animal Economy. Lord Webb Seymour, brother of the Duke of Somerset, attracted by the opportunities of study afforded by the University, came from Christ Church, Oxford, to Edinburgh about the same time. He was then at the age of twenty, a young man of singular worth of character, and distinguished by conscientious application to the mathematical and metaphysical sciences, which, had he possessed more vivacious powers of mind, would have doubtless produced some lasting literary monument for the world. Before he had completed the studies, which, indeed, would have been life long with one of his tastes and temper, he fell into ill health and died at Edinburgh,

* Allen, who frequently figures in the Sydney Smith Letters, was one of those useful students whose conversation is more productive to the world than their writings. He assisted Lord Holland in his historical speeches, and was a great authority at Holland House on matters of physical and moral science, politics and metaphysics. Lord Brougham, in his "British Statesmen," speaks of his "combination of general views with details of fact," with warm admiration. He published an article in the Edinburgh Review for June, 1816, on the Constitution of Parliament, which was highly spoken of by Mackintosh. He wrote the Life of Fox in the Encyclopædia Britannica ; "An Inquiry into the Rise and Growth of the Royal Prerogative in England," "A Vindication of the Independence of Scotland," and a reply to Lingard, whose history he had reviewed in the Edinburgh. He was made Master of Dulwich College. He died in 1843, at the age of seventy-three, leaving property of about seven or eight thousand pounds.

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