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gazed with modest admiration on Reynolds' Baretti; while Mack intosh 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 "We should never discover," conversations of this clever divine. 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 It is not to be supposed, however, that be enlarged by many honcured names. 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 hin 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,
"I knew him in his livelier London days,
A brilliant diner-out, though but a curate;
Until preferment, coming at a sure rate,
Who would suppose thy gifts sometimes obdurate?)
But both were thrown away amongst the fens;
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;
"Rare Sydney! thrice honoured the stall where he sits,
Had England a hierarchy formed all of wits,
Whom, but Sydney, would England proclaim as it primate ?
"And long may he flourish, frank, merry, and brave,
A Horace to feast with, a Pascal to read!
While he laughs, all is safe; but, when Sydney grows grave,
We shall then think the Church is in danger indeed."
There are one or two notices of Smith in the Noctes Ambrosiana, where his old Edinburgh friends took good care of him. Tickler pronounces him " a formidable enemy to pomposity and pretension. No man can wear a big wig comfortably in his presence; the absurdity of such enormous fizzle is felt; and the dignitary would fain exchange all that horsehair for a few scattered locks of another animal." To which Christopher North sagely replies, "He would make a lively interlocutor at a Noctes." Sydney is introduced again, in 1831, when there was talk of making him a Bishop. North thinks that, at the first vacancy, he should be made Dean of St. Patrick's, as a witty successor, of course, of Swift. Tickler suggests, that we should then have the charges in rhyme, e. g.:
"Reverend brethren, fish not, shoot not,
Reel not, quadrille not, fiddle not, flute not,
That the parson on Sunday should dine with the Squire, sirs.*
In 1838, there was a lively notice of "the Reverend Sydney Smith," in Fraser's "Gallery of Literary Characters," with a
* Smith, by the way, was himself no sportsman. When he settled in the country he formed a resolution never to shoot, and gave these conclusive reasons: "First, because I found, on trying at Lord Grey's, that the birds seemed to consider the muzzle of my gun as their safest position; secondly, because I never could help shutting my eyes when I fired my gun, so was not likely to improve; and thirdly, because, if you do shoot, the squire and the poacher both consider you as their natural enemy, and I thought it more clerical to be at peace with both." (Lady Holland's Memoir, p. 133.) He was quite too careless a rider for the chase, and had far too little patience for the angle. Dancing seems to have had a peculiar effect upon him. When his pupil was under his charge at Edinburgh, he wrote to Mrs. Beach: "Michael takes a lesson in dancing every day. I get him, now and then, to show me a step or two. I cannot bear the repetition of this spectacle every day, as it never fails to throw me into a fit of laughing little short of suffocation." (Memoir, 4th Eng. ed., p. 25.) Of theatres, oratorios and the like, he was always impatient.
GRAVITY AND LICENSE.
wicked caricature, by Maclise, which, however, taken with the other engraved portraits, may help, materially, to a knowledge of the personal appearance of the man.
Much has been said concerning the irreverence of Sydney Smith, and his incapacity, in consequence of the social freedom, the license of the intellect, which he indulged in, to discharge the sober duties of the Church. As there is, apparently, some colour for this objection, it may be worth while to look into its nature. It is undoubtedly right that a clergyman should be required to make some sacrifices of matters allowable enough in themselves, to sustain the distinct professional character of his calling. The world exacts something from the lawyer, the physician, and the merchant, on this point. These classes are bound under various social penalties, to sustain, to a certain extent, a conventional propriety and decorum. The pleader is expected by his client to be calm and collected, and play no mountebank tricks in court. A physician who indulges in any great levity of manner should not be disappointed at the slender list of his patients. The great merchant is a grave man, for he is intrusted with the millions of other people, and pecuniary responsibility of this kind must needs occupy his attention seriously. In a higher degree and to a greater extent, the vocation of the divine demands and inspires solemnity. There is, however, parallel with all these requirements, a natural, healthy, development of the individual man. Gravity is a good thing in its place, but it may be asked for in excess. The cheap gravity of the fool, whose stagnant countenance is the index of the unstirred min 1 within, may be purchased in every market; and very frequently finds purchasers who pay dear for the commodity. Gravity may be the cloak of hypocrisy; it is a garment easily up, and its wear deceives many. Get the genuine article, and it is invaluable. "There is," says Doctor South, "the silence of an Archimedes in the study of a problem, and the stillness of a Sow at her wash." Lest we confound exhibitions so diverse,
must look underneath to the elements of character. The man, after all, is the basis of the worth, and as it is upon the development of what Nature has implanted, care must be taken not to thwart or defeat her movements. She, the mighty mother, will assert herself rightfully, and overrule or be revenged upon the conventionalisms. If your grave lawyer does not possess liveliness or quickness of mind, he will not see promptly into your case, or will hazard it where readiness is required, in the brief, dramatic action of the court. The physician should have great vivacity of perception, for he has frequently but a moment to choose between life and death. The merchant needs a nimble understanding, else his staid formulas of trade will leave him in poverty. Is it any ground of objection with an intelligent mind, that the lawyer is a man of humour, that he makes an excellent after-dinner speech, that he enjoys a dramatic entertainment; that the physician contrasts the pretensions of intellect with his knowledge of physical necessities, and laughs loudly and frequently over the incongruities brought to his knowledge; or that the merchant, out of his counting-house, makes himself as jocose and agreeable as it is possible for him to be? To state the objection is to refute it. How is the case, then, different with a clergyman? Does wit incapacitate him for the work of a Christian minister? Because he may be said, unlike the lawyer, physician, or merchant, to be always practising his profession, is he, on that account, never to relax the muscles of his face, or shake the midriff of his neighbour by laughter-compelling jest? An Apostle has borne his testimony against dullness in conversation, by recommending that speech be seasoned with salt. No one can reasonably question the good gifts of wit and humour, in their beneficence to one in the clerical relation, or in any other. It becomes, then, a question of degree, when Sydney Smith is arraigned as too great a jester for the pulpit. But how can this question of moderation be decided? Who shall set the limit where wit transcends decorum and commences to be anticlerical? If one jest or a dozen are permissible, why not twenty