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cial intercourse, a sort of mental dram-drinking, rare as it was delightful."*

An important position in the literary annals of Holland House belongs to Lady Holland. She was the daughter and heir of Richard Vassall and the divorced wife of Sir Godfrey Webster. Lord Holland, previous to his marriage to her, in 1797, paid to her husband six thousand pounds damages in a criminal action. He took, at the marriage, the name of Vassall. Lady Holland had talent, knew how to shine among the wits, be fascinating and influential, was often a warm friend, while her domineering patronage appears at times to have been sufficiently offensive. It is curious to note Sydney Smith's recognition of a Hollandophobia visiting all new guests at the house. The poet Campbell, at the age of thirty, went there with dread. "Lady Holland," he writes to a friend, "is a formidable woman. She is cleverer, by several degrees, than Buonaparte." Rogers told a characteristic story of her manner:-"When Lady Holland wanted to get rid of a fop, she used to say, 'I beg your pardon, but I wish you would sit a little further off; there is something on your handkerchief which I don't quite like.'" Very unlike this was Sydney Smith's description of the kind and intellectual Miss Fox, Lord Holland's sister:— "Oh, she is perfection: she always gives me the idea of an aged angel."

Byron gave some caustic touches to the literary set at Holland House, in his English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, with a cutting glance at "My lady." There are some instances of her rule in Rogers' Table Talk, and an occasional glimpse, in Moore's Diary, of her

* Memoirs, i. 78.

Dyce's Table Talk, p. 273.

Take one for the sake of the adroitly-turned compliment at the close:"Lord Holland never ventured to ask any one to dinner (not even me, whom he had known so long and so intimately) without previously consulting Lady H. Shortly before his death I called at Holland House, and found only Lady H. within. As I was coming out I met Lord Holland, who said, 'Well, do you return to dinner?' I answered, 'No; I have not been invited.' Perhaps this deference to Lady H. was not to be regretted; for Lord Holland was so

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Sydney Smith indeed any one

"rather bravura mood." A Sunday garden scene, in that record, is picturesque: "Breakfasted with Rogers. Went out to Holland House. The levee there of a Sunday always delightful. My Lord on his stock-still pony, taking exercise, as he thinks: and my Lady in her whiskey, surrounded by savans. There were today Sydney Smith, Brougham, Jeffrey, &c. praised my Byron,' the first book of mine (or else's) I ever heard him give a good word to; seemed to do it, too, with sincerity."* Elsewhere Moore chronicles Lord Holland at breakfast "in his gouty chair, but with a face as gay and shining as that of a schoolboy." He has a happy look in Leslie's picture of the Library at Holland House, where he is introduced with full lengths of Lady Holland and their constant companion, Allen; who appears as well filled out in person and beneficent in countenance as his Lordship.

There are some very pleasant glimpses of Holland House in Sydney Smith's Letters. Writing to Lady Holland, he says:-"I am sure it is better for Lord Holland and you to be at Holland House, because you both hate exercise (as every person of sense does), and you must be put in situations where it can be easily and pleasantly taken. Even Allen gets some exercise at Holland House, for Horner, Sheridan, and Lord Lauderdale take him out on the gravel-walk, to milk him for bullion, Spain, America, and India; whereas, in London, he is milked in that stall below stairs."†

In another letter to Lady Holland, without date, Allen reappears :-"I know nothing more agreeable than a dinner at Holland House; but it must not begin at ten in the morning, and last till six. I should be incapable, for the last four hours, of laughing at Lord Holland's jokes, eating Raffaelle's cakes, or repelling Mr. Allen's attacks upon the church."

hospitable and good-natured, that, had he been left to himself, he would have had a crowd at his table daily."-(Dyce's Recollections, p. 275.)

*Moore's Diary, May 2, 1830.

Heslington, April 21, 1810.



Allen's chemistry and opinions were always a resource for Sydney Smith. Moore has one of these occasions; dining at Holland House, he enters in his Diary:-" Sydney Smith very comical about the remedy that Lady Holland is going to use for the bookworm, which is making great ravages in the library. She is about to have them washed with some mercurial preparation; and Smith says it is Davy's opinion that the air will become charged with the mercury, and that the whole family will be salivated. 'I shall see Allen,' says Smith, 'some day, with his tongue hanging out, speechless, and shall take the opportunity to stick a few principles into him.'"

The finest tribute to the literary glories of Holland House, under the long reign of its late master, is in an article on Lord Holland, by Macaulay, in the Edinburgh Review for July, 1841-where, in most musical periods, are painted the reminiscences of “a few old men" visiting the locality on which the great city is so rapidly encroaching. “With peculiar fondness they will recall that venerable chamber, in which all the antique gravity of a college library was so singularly blended with all that female grace and wit could devise to embellish a drawing-room. They will recollect, not unmoved, those shelves, loaded with the varied learning of many lands and many ages; those portraits in which were preserved the features of the best and wisest Englishmen of two generations. They will recollect how many men who have guided the politics of Europe-who have moved great assemblies by reason and eloquence-who have put life into bronze or canvass, or who have left to posterity things so written as it shall not willingly let them die-were there mixed with all that was loveliest and gayest in the society of the most splendid of capitals. They will remember the singular character which belonged to that circle, in which every talent and accomplishment, every art and science, had its place. They will remember how the last debate was discussed in one corner, and the last comedy of Scribe in another; while Wilkie Diary, April 6, 1823.

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gazed with modest admiration on Reynolds' Baretti; while Mackintosh turned over Thomas Aquinas, to verify a quotation; while Talleyrand related his conversations with Barras at the Luxemburg, or his ride with Lannes over the field of Austerlitz. They will remember, above all, the grace-and the kindness, far more admirable than grace-with which the princely hospitality of that ancient mansion was dispensed."

Whilst honouring these associations of Sydney Smith's manly and noble friendships, it is but justice to the society of his age, to remind the reader, that there were brilliant thinkers and writers outside of the charmed circle and visiting list of Holland House, of whose existence we are scarcely reminded in the letters and conversations of this clever divine. "We should never discover," remarks the North American Review, "from this chronicle that Coleridge also talked, Carlyle reasoned, Lamb jested, Hazlitt criticised, and Shelley and Keats sang in those days. Within the sensible zone of English life, as that term is usually understood, Sydney lived. His scope was within the Whig ranks in politics, and the Established Church pale in religion. The iron horizon of caste is the framework of this attractive picture."*

It is to be noticed also, in this connection, how little Smith's reputation was promoted by the arts of the press of the present day. His associates avoided mere literary notoriety. The Edinburgh Review was anonymous, and it was only in his latter days, when he wrote, occasionally, to the newspapers, and his “works”

*N. A. Rev. Jan., 1856. An appreciative view of the essential personal character of Sydney Smith, by Mr. H. T. Tuckerman. The list of omissions might be enlarged by many honoured names. It is not to be supposed, however, that Smith was or would have been insensible to the merit of the great authors just named, or that the "Chronicle" tells the whole story of his tastes and acquisitions. Preoccupied with his own duties, he was slow or indifferent in making new acquaintances. In 1848, ten years after Carlyle had published his Sartor Resartus, and three years after the publication of his French Revolution, Smith writes to a lady friend: "I have not read Carlyle, though I have got him on my list. I am rather curious about him." But had any man ever nobler friends, or did any ever honour such friends more?



had been collected, that Sydney Smith's name was much before the public. There are few early notices of him by his brother authors.

Byron has an allusion in " English Bards and Scotch Reviewers," to "Smug Sydney," and in his sixteenth Canto of Don Juan, in the description of the banquet:

"And lo! upon that day it came to pass,

I sat next that o'erwhelming son of heaven,
The very powerful parson, Peter Pith,
The loudest wit I e'er was deafened with.

"I knew him in his livelier London days,

A brilliant diner-out, though but a curate;
And not joke he cut but earned its praise,

Until preferment, coming at a sure rate,
(O Providence! how wondrous are thy ways!

Who would suppose thy gifts sometimes obdurate?)
Gave him, to lay the devil who looks o'er Lincoln,
A fat fen vicarage, and nought to think on.
"His jokes were sermons, and his sermons jokes;

But both were thrown away amongst the fens;
For wit hath no great friend in aguish folks.
No longer ready ears and short-hand pens
Imbibed the gay bon-mot, or happy hoax:

The poor priest was reduced to common sense,

Or to coarse efforts very loud and long,

To hammer a hoarse laugh from the thick throng."

Moore compliments him in some verses written about 1840, entitled, "The Triumphs of Farce."

"And still let us laugh, preach the world as it may,

Where the cream of the joke is, the swarm will soon follow;

Heroics are very fine things in their way,

But the laugh, at the long-run, will carry it hollow.

"Yes, Jocus! gay god, whom the Gentiles supplied,

And whose worship not even among Christians declines;
In our senates thou'st languished, since Sheridan died,
But Sydney still keeps thee alive in our shrines.

"Rare Sydney! thrice honoured the stall where he sits,
And be his every honour he deigneth to climb at!

Had England a hierarchy formed all of wits,

Whom, but Sydney, would England proclaim as it primate?

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