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SYDNEY SMITH IN A YORKSHIRE LIVING. 303
predicted our death, in spite of an infant of six months old who had never been out of the house, I landed my family in my new house nine months after laying the first stone, on the 20th of March; and performed my promise to the letter to the Archbishop, by issuing forth at midnight with a lantern to meet the last cart, with the cook and the cat, which had stuck in the mud, and fairly established them before twelve o'clock at night in the new parsonage-house;-a feat, taking ignorance, inexperience, and poverty into consideration, requiring, I assure you, no small degree of energy.
It made me a very poor man for many years, but I never repented it. I turned schoolmaster, to educate my son, as I could not afford to send him to school. Mrs. Sydney turned schoolmistress, to educate my girls, as I could not afford a governess. I turned farmer, as I could not let my land. A man-servant was too expensive; so I caught up a little garden-girl, made like a mile-stone, christened her Bunch, put a napkin in her hand, and made her my butler. The girls taught her to read, Mrs. Sydney to wait, and I undertook her morals; Bunch became the best butler in the county.
I had little furniture, so I bought a cart-load of deals; took a carpenter (who came to me for parish relief), called Jack Robinson, with a face like a full-moon, into my service; established him in a barn, and said, "Jack, furnish my house." You see the result!
At last it was suggested that a carriage was much wanted in the establishment. After diligent search, I discovered in the back settlements of a York coachmaker an ancient green chariot, supposed to have been the earliest invention of the kind. I brought it home in triumph to my admiring family. Being somewhat dilapidated, the village tailor lined it, the village black
smith repaired it; nay, but for Mrs Sydney's earnest entreaties we believe the village painter would have exercised his genius upon the exterior; it escaped this danger however, and the result was wonderful. Each year added to its charms: it grew younger and younger; a new wheel, a new spring; I christened it the Immortal. It was known all over the neighbourhood; the village boys cheered it, and the village dogs barked at it; but "Faber meæ fortunæ was my motto, and we had no
Added to all these domestic cares, I was village parson, village doctor, village comforter, village magistrate, and Edinburgh Reviewer; so you see I had not much time left on my hands to regret London.
My house was considered the ugliest in the county, but all admitted it was one of the most comfortable; and we did not die, as our friends had predicted, of the damp walls of the parsonage.-[Memoir.]
I USED to think a fall from a horse dangerous, but much experience has convinced me to the contrary. I have had six falls in two years, and just behaved like the three per cents when they fall,-I got up again, and am not a bit the worse for it, any more than the stock in question. I left off riding, however, for the good of my parish and the peace of my family; for, somehow or other, my horse and I had a habit of parting company. On one occasion I found myself suddenly prostrate in the streets of York, much to the delight of the Dissenters. Another time, my horse Calamity flung me over his head into a neighbouring parish, as if I had been a shuttlecock, and I felt grateful it was not into a
DEFINITION OF A NICE PERSON.
neighbouring planet; but as no harm came of it, I might have persevered perhaps, if, on a certain day, a Quaker tailor from a neighbouring village, to which I had said I was going to ride, had not taken it into his head to call, soon after my departure, and requested to see Mrs. Sydney. She instantly, conceiving I was thrown, if not killed, rushed down to the man, exclaiming, "Where is he? where is your master? is he hurt?" The astonished and quaking snip stood silent from surprise. Still more agitated by his silence, she exclaimed, "Is he hurt? I insist upon knowing the worst." Why, please, ma'am, it is only thy little bill, a very small account, I wanted thee to settle,” replied he, in much surprise. After this, you may suppose, I sold my horse: however, it is some comfort to know that my friend Sir George is one fall ahead of me, and is certainly a worse rider. It is a great proof, too, of the liberality of this county, where everybody can ride as soon as they are born, that they tolerate me at all.- [Memoir.]
DEFINITION OF A NICE PERSON.
A NICE person is neither too tall nor too short, looks clean and cheerful, has no prominent feature, makes no difficulties, is never misplaced, sits bodkin, is never foolishly affronted, and is void of affectations.
A nice person helps you well at dinner, understands you, is always gratefully received by young and old, Whig and Tory, grave and gay.
There is something in the very air of a nice person which inspires you with confidence, makes you talk, and talk without fear of malicious misrepresentation; you feel that you are reposing upon a nature which God has made kind, and created for the benefit and happiness
DEFINITION OF HARDNESS OF CHARACTER.
of society. It has the effect upon the mind which soft air and a fine climate have upon the body.
A nice person is clear of little, trumpery passions, acknowledges superiority, delights in talent, shelters humility, pardons adversity, forgives deficiency, respects all men's rights, never stops the bottle, is never long and never wrong, always knows the day of the month and the name of everybody at table, and never gives pain to any human being.
If anybody is wanted for a party, a nice person is the first thought of; when the child is christened, when the daughter is married,-all the joys of life are communicated to nice people; the hand of the dying man is always held out to a nice person.
A nice person never knocks over wine or melted butter, does not tread upon the dog's foot, or molest the family cat, eats soup without noise, laughs in the right place, and has a watchful and attentive eye.
DEFINITION OF HARDNESS OF CHARACTER.
HARDNESS is a want of minute attention to the feelings of others. It does not proceed from malignity or a carelessness of inflicting pain, but from a want of delicate perception of those little things by which pleasure is conferred or pain excited.
A hard person thinks he has done enough if he does not speak ill of your relations, your children, or your country; and then, with the greatest good-humour and volubility, and with a total inattention to your individual state and position, gallops over a thousand fine feelings, and leaves in every step the mark of his hoofs upon your heart. Analyse the conversation of a well-bred man who is clear of the besetting sin of hardness; it is a perpetual
ADDRESS TO THE MACHINE BURNERS.
homage of polite good-nature. He remembers that you are connected with the Church, and he avoids (whatever his opinions may be) the most distant reflections on the Establishment. He knows that you are admired, and he admires you as far as is compatible with good-breeding. He sees that, though young, you are at the head of a great establishment, and he infuses into his manner and conversation that respect which is so pleasing to all who exercise authority. He leaves you in perfect goodhumour with yourself, because you perceive how much and how successfully you have been studied.
In the meantime the gentleman on the other side of you (a highly moral and respectable man) has been crushing little sensibilities, and violating little proprieties, and overlooking little discriminations; and without violating anything which can be called a rule, or committing what can be denominated a fault, has displeased and dispirited you, from wanting that fine vision which sees little things, and that delicate touch which handles them, and that fine sympathy which this superior moral organisation always bestows.
So great an evil in society is hardness, and that want of perception of the minute circumstances which occasion. pleasure or pain!
ADDRESS TO THE MACHINE BURNERS (1828).
To Mr. Swing.
THE wool your coat is made of is spun by machinery, and this machinery makes your coat two or three shillings cheaper,—perhaps six or seven. Your white hat is made by machinery at half price. The coals you burn are pulled out of the pit by machinery, and are sold to you much cheaper than they could be if they were pulled