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THE REV.SYDNEY SMITH.
COMPLETE IN ONE VOL.
EDWARD G. TAYLOR,
128 FULTON STREET.
WHEN first I went into the Church I had a curacy in the middle of Salisbury Plain. The Squire of the parish took a fancy to me, and requested me to go with his son to reside at the University of Weimar; before we could get there, Germany became the seat of war, and in stress of politics we put into Edinburgh, where I remained five years. The principles of the French Revolution were then fully afloat, and it is impossible to conceive a more violent and agitated state of society. Among the first persons with whom I became acquainted were, Lord Jeffrey, Lord Murray (late Lord Advocate for Scotland), and Lord Brougham; all of them maintaining opinions upon political subjects a little too liberal for the dynasty of Dundas, then exercising supreme power
over the northern division of the island.
One day we happened to meet in the eighth or ninth story or flat in Buccleugh-place, the elevated residence of the then Mr. Jeffrey. I proposed that we should set up a Review; this was acceded to with acclamation. I was appointed Editor, and remained long enough in Edinburgh to edit the first number of the Edinburgh Review. The motto I proposed for the Review was,
'Tenui musam meditamur avena.'
'We cultivate literature upon a little oatmeal.'
But this was too near the truth to be admitted, and so we took our present grave motto from Publius Syrus, of whom none of us, I am sure, had ever read a single line; and so began what has since turned out to be a very important and able journal. When I left Edinburgh, it fell into the stronger hands of Lord Jeffrey and Lord Brougham, and reached the highest point of popularity and success. I contributed from England many articles, which I have been foolish enough to collect and publish with some other tracts written by me.
To appreciate the value of the Edinburgh Review, the state of England at the period when that journal began should be had in remembrance. The Catholics were not emancipated-the Corporation and Test Acts were unrepealed-the Game Laws were horribly oppressive-Steel Traps and Spring Guns were set all over the countryPrisoners tried for their Lives could have no Counsel-Lord Eldon and the Court of Chancery pressed heavily upon mankind-Libel was punished by the most cruel and vindictive imprisonments-the principles of Political Economy were little understood -the Law of Debt and of Conspiracy were upon the worst possible footing-the enormous wickedness of the Slave Trade was tolerated- -a thousand evils were in existence, which the talents of good and able men have since lessened or removed; and these effects have been not a little assisted by the honest boldness of the Edinburgh Review.
I see very little in my Reviews to alter or repent of: I always endeavoured to fight against evil; and what I thought evil then, I think evil now. I am heartily glad that all our disqualifying laws for religious opinions are abolished, and I see nothing in such measures but unmixed good and real increase of strength to our Establishment.
The idea of danger from the extension of the Catholic religion in England I utterly deride. The Catholic faith is a misfortune to the world, but those whose faith it conscientiously is, are quite right in professing it boldly, and in promoting it by all means which the law allows. A physician does not say 'You will be well as soon as the bile is got rid