« ElőzőTovább »
where etiquette prevents me from doing things disagreeable to myself, I am a perfect martinet.
All these things considered, I am sure you will not be a Semiramis to me, but let me off.
(To Miss Berry, 1843.) I am studying the death of Louis XVI. Did he die heroically? or did he struggle on the scaffold? Was that struggle (for I believe there was one) for permission to speak? or from indignation at not being suffered to act for himself at the last moment, and to place himself under the axe? Make this out for me, if you please, and speak of it to me when I come to London. I don't believe the Abbé Edgeworth's "Son of St. Louis, montez au ciel!" It seems necessary that great people should die with some sonorous and quotable saying. Mr. Pitt said something not intelligible in his last moments: G. Rose made it out to be, "Save my country, Heaven!" The nurse on being interrogated, said that he asked for barley-water.
EDWARD EVERETT—AMERICAN DEBTS.
(To Mrs. Holland, Combe Florey, Jan. 31, 1844.) Everett, the American Minister, has been here at the same time with my eldest brother. We all liked him, and were confirmed in our good opinion of him. A sensible, unassuming man, always wise and reasonable.
[This visit appears to have called forth some comments from a portion of the American Press which were met by the following from Sydney Smith.]
(Letter to the Editor of the Morning Chronicle.) Sir: The Locofoco papers in America are, I observe, full of abuse of Mr. Everett, their minister, for spending a month with me at Christmas, in Somersetshire. That month was neither lunar nor calendar, but consisted of forty eight hours-a few minutes more or less.
I never heard a wiser or more judicious defence than he made to me and others of the American insolvency; not denying the in
THE AMIABLE AMERICAN.
justice of it-speaking of it, on the contrary, with the deepest feeling, but urging with great argumentative eloquence every topic that could be pleaded in extenuation. He made upon us the same impression he appears to make universally in this country; we thought him (a character which the English always receive with affectionate regard), an amiable American, republican without rudeness, and accomplished without ostentation! "If I had known that gentleman five years ago," said one of my guests, "I should have been deep in the American funds; and as it is, I think at times that I see 19s. or 20s. in the pound, in his face."
However this may be, I am sure we owe to the Americans a debt of gratitude for sending to us such an excellent specimen of their productions. In diplomacy a far more important object than falsehood is to keep two nations in friendship. In this point, no nation has ever been better served than America has been served by Mr. Edward Everett.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
APRIL, 17, 1844.
JEFFREY AND THE NORTH POLE.
THE reigning bore at this time in Edinburgh (at the beginning of the century), was ; his favourite subject, the North Pole. It mattered not how far south you began, you found yourself transported to the north pole before you could take breath; no one escaped him. My father declared he should invent a slipbutton. Jeffrey fled from him as from the plague, when possible; but one day his arch-tormentor met him in a narrow lane, and began instantly on the north pole. Jeffrey, in despair and out of all patience, darted past him, exclaiming, "Damn the north pole !"* My father met him shortly after, boiling with indignation at Jeffrey's contempt of the north pole. "Oh, my dear fellow," said my father, "never mind; no one minds what Jeffrey says, you know; he is a privileged person; he respects nothing, absolutely nothing. Why, you will scarcely believe it, but it is not more than a week ago that I heard him speak disrespectfully of the equator!"
LINES ON JEFFREY.
AMONG our rural delights at Heslington (says Lady Holland), was the possession of a young donkey, which had been given up to our tender mercies from the time of its birth, and in whose
*Except where otherwise credited, the following anecdotes of Sydney Smith's conversation are derived from the Memoir by Lady Holland.
"I see this anecdote," says Lady Holland, "in Mr. Moore's Memoirs attributed to Leslie, but I have so often heard it told as applying to a very different person, that I think he was mistaken."
education we employed a large portion of our spare time; and a most accomplished donkey it became under our tuition. It would walk up-stairs, pick pockets, follow us in our walks like a huge Newfoundland dog; at the most distant sight of us in the field, with ears down and tail erect, it set off in full bray to meet us. These demonstrations on Bitty's part were met with not less affection on ours, and Bitty was almost considered a member of the family. One day, when my elder brother and myself were training our beloved Bitty, with a pocket-handkerchief for a bridle, and his head crowned with flowers, to run round our garden, who should arrive in the midst of our sport but Mr. Jeffrey. Finding my father out, he, with his usual kindness toward young people, immediately joined in our sport, and, to our infinite delight, mounted our donkey. He was proceeding in triumph, amidst our shouts of laughter, when my father and mother, in company, I believe, with Mr. Horner and Mr. Murray, returned from their walk, and beheld this scene from the garden-door. Though years and years have passed away since, I still remember the joy-inspiring laughter that burst from my father at this unexpected sight, as, advancing toward his old friend, with a face beaming with delight and with extended hands, he broke forth in the following impromptu :
These lines were afterward repeated by some one to Mr. at Holland House, just before he was introduced for the first time to Mr. Jeffrey, and they caught his fancy to such a degree that he could not get them out of his head, but kept repeating them in a low voice all the time Mr. Jeffrey was conversing with him.
SENSIBILITY OF CHILDHOOD.
ONCE, when we were on a visit at Lord's, we were sitting with a large party at luncheon, when our host's eldest son, a fine boy of between eight and nine, burst into the room, and, running up to his father, began a playful skirmish with him; the boy, half in play, half in earnest, hit his father in the face, who
to carry on the joke, put up both his hands, saying, "Oh, Byou have put out my eye." In an instant the blood mounted to the boy's temples, he flung his little arms around his father, and sobbed in such a paroxysm of grief and despair, that it was some time before even his father's two bright eyes beaming on him with pleasure could convince him of the truth, and restore him to tranquillity.
When he left the room, my father, who had silently looked with much interest and emotion on the scene, said, "I congratulate you; I guarantee that boy; make your hearts easy; however he may be tossed about the world, with those feelings, and such a heart, he will come out unscathed."
The father (continues Lady Holland), one of those who consider their fortune but as a loan, to be employed in spreading an atmosphere of virtue and happiness around them as far as their influence reaches, is now no more, and this son occupies his place; but his widowed mother the other day reminded me how true the prophecy had proved; and the scene was so touching that I cannot resist giving it.
IN 1820, my father (writes Lady Holland) went on a visit of a few days to Lord Grey's; then to Edinburgh to see Jeffrey and his other old friends; and returned by Lord Lauderdale's house at Dunbar. Speaking of this journey, he says, "Most people sulk in stage-coaches, I always talk. I have had some amusing journeys from this habit. On one occasion, a gentleman in the coach with me, with whom I had been conversing for some time, suddenly looked out of the window as we approached York and said, 'There is a very clever man, they say, but a d- odd fellow, lives near here-Sydney Smith, I believe.' 'He may be a very odd fellow,' said I, taking off my hat to him and laughing, and I dare say he is; but odd as he is, he is here, very much at your service.' Poor man! I thought he would have sunk into his boots, and vanished through the bed of the carriage, he was so distressed; but I thought I had better tell him at once, or he might proceed to say I had murdered my grandmother, which I must have resented, you know.
"On another occasion, some years later, when going to Brougham