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A SYDNEY SMITH NOVEL.
A NOVEL BY SYDNEY SMITH.*
WHEN Smith lost a few hundreds by the Pennsylvania Bonds, a publisher called on him offering to retrieve his fortunes, if he would get up a three-volume novel.
in two cantos, in trochaic eight syllable catalectic. It appeared in 1827, when Crockford established his magnificent "hell" in James street. The moral is well-pointed, but the verse is feeble for the satiric demand of the occasion. It was accompanied by a little poem, "A Rhymer in Rome."
Byron, as reported in the Conversations with Lady Blessington, describes the traits of Luttrell: "Of course," he said, "you know Luttrell. He is a most agreeable member of society, the best sayer of good things, and the most epigrammatic conversationist I ever met with. There is a terseness and wit mingled with fancy, in his observations, that no one else possesses, and no one so peculiarly understands the apropos. His Advice to Julia is pointed, witty, and full of character, showing in every line a knowledge of society, and a tact rarely met with. Then, unlike all or most wits, Luttrell is never obtrusive: even the choicest bon-mots are only brought forth when perfectly applicable, and then are given in a tone of good-breeding which enhances their value."
Moore has a number of Luttrell's "felicities" in his Diary. Walking with him one day, the poet remarked a saying on Sharp's very dark complexion, that he looked as if the dye of his old trade (hat-making), had got engrained into his face, "Yes," said Luttrell, "darkness that may be felt." He gave this illustration of the English climate: On a fine day, like looking up a chimney; on a rainy day, like looking down it." He told a capital story of a tailor, who (we follow Moore's words) used to be seen attending the Greek lectures constantly; and when some one noticed it to him as odd, the tailor saying modestly, that he knew too well what became his station, to intrude himself, as an auditor on any of those subjects of which, from his rank in life, he must be supposed to be ignorant; but "really," he added, "at a Greek lecture, I think we are all pretty much on a par."
Rogers pronounced Luttrell's epigram on Miss Tree, the singer, "quite a little fairy tale."
"On this tree when a nightingale settles and sings,
We are indebted to Mr. Washington Irving for the following anecdote, not hitherto in print. He was walking in company with Moore and Luttrell, at the former's suburban residence, La Butte, near Paris, when the conversation fell on a female aeronaut, who had not been heard of since her recent ascent. Moore described her upward progress- -the last seen of her she was still ascending, ascending, "Handed out," slipped in Luttrell, "by Enoch and Elijah.” Henry Luttrell died at his London residence, in December, 1851, in his eighty-first year.
*This and the three following passages are from the Memoir of Rev. Richard Harris Barham, by R. H. D. Barham, the author of the "Ingoldsby
“Well, sir,” said the Rev. Sydney, after some seeming consideration, “if I do so, I can't travel out of my own line, ne sutor ultra crepidam; I must have an archdeacon for my hero, to fall in love with the pew-opener, with the clerk for a confidant-tyrannical interference of the churchwardens-clandestine correspondence concealed under the hassocks-appeal to the parishioners, etc."
"All that, sir," said the publisher, "I would not presume to interfere with; I would leave it entirely to your own inventive genius."
“Well, sir, I am not prepared to come to terms at present, but if ever I do undertake such a work you shall certainly have the refusal."
THE BISHOP OF NEW ZEALAND.
On the departure of the Bishop of New Zealand for his diocese Smith recommended him to have regard to the minor as well as to the more grave duties of his station—to be given to hospitality— and, in order to meet the tastes of his native guests, never to be without a smoked little boy in the bacon-rack, and a cold clergyman on the sideboard. "And as for myself," my lord, "he concluded, “all I can say is, that when your new parishioners do eat you, I sincerely hope you may disagree with them."
OF Dean Che said his only adequate punishment would be to be preached to death by wild curates.
SMITH told me of the motto he had proposed for Bishop Burgess's arms, in allusion to his brother, the well-known fish-sauce projector.
"Gravi jampridem saucia curâ.*
Legends," whose Diary furnishes us with several choice specimens of Smith's pleasantry. He was a Minor Canon of St. Paul's, and of course had good opportunity to study his friend's humour.
* Eneid, iv.
SPECIE AND SPECIES.
DOUBLING THE CAPE.
PUNS are frequently provocative. One day, after dinner with a Nabob, he was giving us Madeira
"London-East India-picked - particular,"
then a second thought struck him, and he remembered that he had a few flasks of Constantia in the house, and he produced one. He gave us just a glass apiece. We became clamorous for another, but the old qui-hi was firm in refusal. "Well, well," said Sydney Smith, a man for whom I have a particular regard, "since we can't double the Cape, we must e'en go back to Madeira." We all laughed—our host most of all-and he too, luckily, had his joke. "Be of Good Hope, you shall double it;" at which we all laughed still more immoderately, and drank the second flask.*
SPECIE AND SPECIES.
SYDNEY SMITH, preaching a charity sermon, frequently repeated the assertion, that, of all nations, Englishmen were most distinguished for generosity and the love of their species. The collection happened to be inferior to his expectations, and he said, that he had evidently made a great mistake, and that his expression should have been, that they were distinguished for the love of their specie.†
A CONVERSATIONAL COOK.
MOORE set Sydney Smith at home in a hackney-coach after a pleasant dinner-party at Agar Ellis's. On his remarking "how well and good-humouredly the host had mixed us all up together," Smith said, "That's the great use of a good conversational cook, who says to his company, 'I'll make a good pudding of you; it's no matter what you came into the bowl, you must come out a pudding.' 'Dear me,' says one of the ingredients, wasn't I just now an egg? but he feels the batter sticking to him now."‡
*Maginn's Maxims of Odoherty, Number Twenty, Blackwood's Mag.,
The World We Live In. Blackwood, June, 1837.
ARTICLES AND MUSES.
A FALSE QUANTITY.
THERE is a current remark attributed to him, that a false quantity at the commencement of the career of a young man intended for public life, was rarely got over; and when a lady asked him what a false quantity was, he explained it to be in a man the same as a faux pas in a woman.
He said that was so fond of contradiction, that he would throw up the window in the middle of the night, and contradict the watchman who was calling the hour.
WHEN his physician advised him to "take a walk upon an empty stomach," Smith asked, "Upon whose?"
THE ARTICLES AND THE MUSES.
"I HAD a very odd dream last night," said he; "I dreamed that there were thirty-nine Muses and nine Articles; and my head is still quite confused about them.”†
SMITH said, "The Bishop of is so like Judas, that I now firmly believe in the apostolical succession.
* This and the three following are from Dyce's Recollections of the TableTalk of Samuel Rogers.
There is a better version of this in Lady Holland's Memoir: "Now I mean not to drink one drop of wine to-day, and I shall be mad with spirits. I always am when I drink no wine. It is curious the effect a thimbleful of wine has upon me; I feel as flat as 's jokes; it destroys my understanding: I forget the number of Muses, and think them thirty-nine of course; and only get myself right again by repeating the lines, and finding 'Descend, ye thirty-nine,' two feet too long."
COOL OF THE EVENING.
SENTENCE ON AN ALDERMAN.
SYDNEY SMITH was asked what penalty the Court of Aldermen could inflict on Don-Key for bringing them into contempt by his late escapade. He said, "Melted butter with his turbot for a twelvemonth instead of lobster-sauce."*
WHEN the great Nestor of our poets (Rogers) advanced as a great truth, at his own table, that no man became great but by getting on the shoulders of another, Sydney Smith, who was present, was so pleased with the remark, that his favourite expression, when he heard anything very good, "booked" was uttered by him very emphatically on this occasion. By "booked" Sydney meant to imply accepted, endorsed, and to be repeated."†
YOUTH AND FAMILIARITY.
ONE evening, at a dinner party, he was excessively annoyed by the familiarity of a young fop, who constantly addressed him as "Smith"-"Smith, pass the wine," and so forth. Presently the young gentleman stated that he had received an invitation to dine with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and asked the reverend canon "what sort of a fellow" he was.
"A very good sort of a fellow, indeed," replied the satirist; “only, let me give you a piece of advice—don't call him Howley."
This rebuff vastly amused the company, but the object of it, being a fool at all points, did not see this point, and talked on in happy unconsciousness. Soon afterward, one of the company rose to depart, pleading an engagement to a soiree at Gore House.
"Take me with you," roars young Hopeful.-" I've the greatest possible desire to know Lady Blessington."
This request was very naturally demurred to, on the ground that a visitor was not authorized to introduce uninvited guests.
Letter of Jekyll to Lady Blessington, Sept. 1833. Sir John Key, alderman and mayor, a notoriety of the times.
↑ Town and Table Talk. Illus. Lond. News, Feb. 25, 1854.
↑ This and the four following are waifs and strays, to which we can assign no particular credit.