It is published in his works, and remains a plain, simple, sincere assertion in the words of its title, of "Those Rules of Christian Charity, by which our Opinions of other Sects should be formed." The Bristol preferment brought with it a living, and Foston-le-Clay was exchanged for the more euphonious Combe Florey, situated in a scene of natural beauty, near Taunton; in Smith's own description, “a most parsonic parsonage, like those described in novels." This increase of prosperity was darkened by the death of his son Douglas, in 1829-a sorrow which accompanied the father through life. In his note book of the time, he writes, "April 14th, My beloved son Douglas died, aged twenty-four. Alas! alas!" And afterward: "So ends this year of my life-a year of sorrow, from the loss of my beloved son Douglas—the first great misfortune of my life, and one which I shall never forget." Lady Holland adds the touching trait, "in his last hours he often called his youngest son by the name of Douglas.”

A year after, his friend Lord Grey having become minister, Sydney Smith's cathedral stall at Bristol was exchanged for a similar but more profitable post in London, and he became Canon Residentiary of St. Paul's.* Combe Florey he still continued to hold, and thus, between town and country, “dining with the rich in London, and physicking the poor in the country, passing from the sauces of Dives to the sores of Lazarus,"† he continued his clerical career through life.

of November] before the Mayor and Corporation, in the Cathedral-the most protestant Corporation in England! They stared at me with all their eyes. Several of them could not keep the turtle on their stomachs." *The following letter to his friend, Mrs. Meynell, records the event:"SAVILLE Row, September, 1831. "MY DEAR G., I am just stepping into the carriage to be installed by the Bishop, but can not lose a post in thanking you. It is, I believe, a very good thing, and puts me at my ease for life. I asked for nothing-never did any thing shabby to procure preferment. These are pleasing recollections. My pleasure is greatly increased by the congratulations of good and excellent friends like yourself. God bless you! "SYDNEY SMITH."

1 Letter to M. Eugene Robin. Memoir, ii. 497.



Nor were his duties at either place neglected. He became a most zealous guardian of the church property and affairs at St. Paul's, superintending building accounts and expenses toilfully and skilfully; and preaching in his turn, to the close of his life, with dignity and eloquence; while in the summer months, at Combe Florey, his heart expanded among his parishioners, whom he attended with faithful tenderness; entering into their circumstances, and, what is so rare in the world with persons of superior station, surveying, with heartfelt sympathy, the cares and enjoyments of life on a lower level. Hodge had always, in Sydney Smith, a friend, who understood him, and when it was threatened that Hodge's beer would be cut off by meddling licensers, or Hodge was in danger from the game laws, he had, in his clerical visiter, a useful protector. Sydney Smith's Advice to Parishioners is worthy of the philanthropy, humanity, and good-humoured shrewdness of Poor Richard. For Franklin, indeed, Smith entertained a generous admiration, and the manners of the two sages were, in many things, not unlike.

To the domestic sketches of Foston, must be added, as a pendant, this pencilling, by Lady Holland, of "glorified" Combe Florey:-"I long to give some sketches of these breakfasts, and the mode of life at Combe Florey, where there were often assembled guests that would have made any table agreeable anywhere; but it would be difficult to convey an adequate idea of the beauty, gayety, and happiness of the scene in which they took place, or the charm that he infused into the society assembled round his breakfast-table. The room, an oblong, was, as I have already described, surrounded on three sides by books, and ended in a bay-window, opening into the garden: not brown, dark, dulllooking volumes, but all in the brightest bindings; for he carried his system of furnishing for gayety even to the dress of his books.

"He would come down into this long, low room in the morning like a giant refreshed to run his course,' bright and happy as the scene around him. Thank God for Combe Florey!' he would




exclaim, throwing himself in his red arm-chair, and looking around; 'I feel like a bridegroom in the honeymoon.' And in truth I doubt if ever bridegroom felt so joyous, or at least made others feel so joyous, as he did on these occasions. Ring the bell, Saba' the usual refrain, by-the-by, in every pause, for he contrived to keep every body actively employed around him, and nobody ever objected to be so employed. Ring the bell, Saba.' Enter the servant, D—. ‘D——, glorify the room.' This meant that the three Venetian windows of the bay were to be flung open, displaying the garden on every side, and letting in a blaze of sunD— glorifies the room with the utmost You would not believe it,' he said, 'to look is a reformed Quaker. Yes, he quaked, or did quake; his brother quakes still: but D is now thoroughly orthodox. I should not like to be a Dissenter in his way; he is to be one of my vergers at St. Paul's some day. Lady B calls them my virgins. She asked me the other day, 'Pray, Mr. Smith, is it true that you walk down St. Paul's with three virgins holding silver pokers before you?' I shook my head, and looked very grave, and bid her come and see. Some enemy of the Church, some Dissenter, had clearly been misleading her.'

shine and flowers. gravity, and departs. at him now, but D

"There now,' sitting down at the breakfast-table, 'take a lesson of economy. You never breakfasted in a parsonage before, did you? There, you see my china is all white, so if broken can always be renewed; the same with my plates at dinner: did you observe my plates? every one a different pattern, some of them sweet articles; it was a pleasure to dine upon such a plate as I had last night. It is true, Mrs. Sydney, who is a great herald, is shocked because some of them have the arms of a royal duke or a knight of the garter on them, but that does not signify to me. My plan is to go into a china shop and bid them show me every plate they have which does not cost more than half a crown; you see the result.'"

Smith's London life, at his residence in Charles street, appears



to have been attended by "all that should accompany old age, honour, love, obedience, troops of friends," but some faces, alas, were missing. Mackintosh, whose memory he fondly cherished, was no longer living, and others had fallen in the race. He gained, however, the alliance of Dr. Holland,* who married his daughter Saba, in 1834, and new faces came to cheer him in his home-circle.

The fifteen years assigned to the Canon of St. Paul's, bore rich fruits of his preceding culture and discipline. He had ceased contributing to the Edinburgh Review, having penned his last article-it was on the Catholic Question-in 1827. He now thought it decorous that a Church dignitary should appear openly to the world in his writings, and not shelter himself under the anonymous. His pen, however, was not idle, and he stood forth still, as ever, in pamphlets and letters to the newspapers, a champion of liberal interests, and of the rights of his order.

Having been thrown, upon his first arrival at Bristol, in 1830, into the midst of the violent agitations of the times, he met the crisis by his practical earnest advice to the uninstructed laboring classes, and his more resolute warnings to the exclusive politicians. To enlighten the poor on the value of machinery, which they were bent upon destroying, he published several cheap tracts, entitled "Letters to Swing;" while at county Reform meetings at Taunton, he levelled several most vigorous speeches at the pressing evils of the representative system. In one of these occurs his now world renowned introduction of Mrs. Partington.

The most notable of all Sydney Smith's writings on the affairs of the Establishment, were his three Letters addressed to Archdeacon Singleton, the first of which appeared in 1837, and the

* Sir Henry Holland, eminent for his literary and philosophical, as well as professional attainments. He took his degree of M. D. at Edinburgh, in 1809. In the summer of 1810 he visited Iceland, in company with Sir George Mackenzie, to whose book of travels in the island he contributed the Preliminary Dissertation and the article on Education and Literature. His "Travels in the Ionian Isles, Albania, Thessaly, Macedonia, &c., during the years 1812 and 1813," were received with favour on their publication in 1819.



others at intervals of about a year. They relate to the affairs of the Whig Ecclesiastical Commission, then sitting, and chiefly to its attempted invasions of Cathedral endowments and patronage. It was proposed, among other things, to assist the revenues of the poorer clergy, by taking from a number of the larger benefices pecuniary advantages, to form a fund for the augmentation of small livings. The prebendal stalls of St. Paul's, in particular, were exposed to the shears of the projected bill. They were to be diminished in number, and their emoluments curtailed. Sydney Smith came forth resolutely to the rescue. As it was a commission of Bishops in which Deans and Chapters were not represented, and as Episcopal revenues were not to be touched, the Bishops were made to feel the full force of his wit and argument. There is some very plain talk addressed to the Bishop of London, the learned Blomfield, whose passion for government is made to appear a virtue in excess. "Here it is," Smith exclaims, citing a charge of rashness against the Bishop's classical emendations, "qualis ab incepto. He begins with Eschylus, and ends with the Church of England; begins with profane, and ends with holy innovations-scratching out old readings which every commentator had sanctioned, abolishing ecclesiastical dignities which every reformer had spared; thrusting an anapæst into a verse which will not bear it; and intruding a Canon into a Cathedral which does not want it." The handling of the Bishop of Gloucester, Dr. Monk, who threw into the discussion an attack upon Sydney Smith, as a scoffer and jester," is excessively severe, retorting personality for personality. There is a very neat example of mingled satire and eulogy in a page on Lord Melbourne. In these papers, too, occurs the celebrated description of Lord John Russell: "There is not a better man in England; but his worst failure is, that he is utterly ignorant of all moral fear; there is nothing he would not undertake. I believe he would perform the operation for the stone-build St. Peter's. or assume (with or without ten minutes' notice), the command of the Channel Fleet; and no one would discover, by

[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »