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preparation of the Table-Talk, Memoir, and Notes, many collateral sources have been drawn upon. Several of Sydney Smith's Writings, will here be found given entire; while the selection generally presents the most characteristic passages of his “ Wit and Wisdom" from the whole. Numerous Miscellanies of much interest, are included which are not to be met with in any previous
American collection of the author's works.
NEw YoRx, May 20, 1856.
C ON T ENTS.
BIOGRAPHICAL ME MOIR.
SYDNEY SMITH* was born at Woodford, Essex, in the vicinity of London, June 3, 1771, of a respectable family in the middle class of English society. His parents, as will commonly be found with the immediate ancestors of those who have risen to eminence in the world, were persons of marked character. Robert Smith, the father, was a man of curious talents and impulses, with a passion for foreign travel, and a mania, not a little destructive to his finances, for building and altering country-houses in various parts of England. He married a lady of beauty and accomplishments, Miss Olier, of Huguenot birth, her father having been one of the refugees drivento England in the great expatriation consequent on the bigoted tyranny of Louis XIV. This infusion of French blood was afterward called to mind to account for certain peculiarities of disposition, the humours and the mercurial vivacity, associated with strength of purpose, of their son, the subject of the present memoir. * The union of the honourable name of Sydney with the generic patronymic Smith, which has been illustrated by several distinguished personages, would appear to have been adopted in this extensive family from the marriage, in the seventeenth century, of Sir Thomas Smythe, created Viscount Strangford, with a niece of Sir Phip Sydney. It was one of the jests and humours of the Rev. Sydney Sr th's life, to confound himself and be confounded with his contemporary, the British admiral, Sir Sidney SmithGeorge Sydney Smythe, the member of the short-lived Young England Party
who published a volume of poems, “ Historic Fancies," is another instane" of the association of these names.
10 FAMILY HISTORY.
Five children were the fruit of the marriage, four sons and a daughter: all of them, we are told, “remarkable for their talentS.”*
The eldest of the family, one year the senior of his brother Sydney, was Robert, known amongst his contemporaries in the London seciety of wits and statesmen, from a familiar handling of his Christian name at school, as Bobus Smith. Educated at Eton, he there, at the age of eighteen, was associated with the future statesman George Canning, and the fastidious, fine poet, and finished classical scholar of after life, John Hookham Frere, in the composition of the Microcosm. This periodical, of the prolific family of the Spectator, appeared in forty weekly numbers be
* Memoir of the Rev. Sydney Smith, by his daughter, Lady Holland, Am. ed. p. 13. We take the first opportunity to notice the sentiment, propriety, and faithfulness which characterize this filial work. It furnishes ample materials for a knowledge of the man, particularly in his domestic and social relations. The development of his fortunes and position in the world is of especial biographical value.
Immediately after the death of Sydney Smith, the material for the Memoir was begun to be collected by his widow, who was about intrusting the work to the poet Moore, when his broken health defeated the plan. Mrs. Sydney then requested her friend Mrs. Sarah Austin, the accomplished German translator, to undertake the narrative and edit the Letters which had been brought together. Ill health limited Mrs. Austin's subsequent performance of the work to the Selection from the Correspondence which constitutes the second volume of the Memoirs.
Much as the genius of the biographer of Sheridan and Byron is to be respected, and with every consideration of the feeling with which he would have entered on the “ life,” in its political, social, and personal aspects, it is a matter for congratulation that the Memoirs have fallen into female hands. Woman alone could have interpreted so gracefully and truly the kindly virtues of the man. His keen, consistent, brilliant writings need no particular exhibition of his political and public life. They speak for themselves. Mrs. Austin, in her preface finds another appropriate reason for the participation of the sex in the work: in gratitude for what Sydney Smith had accomplished, by his arguments, for female education. “Within our times," she remarks, “no man has done so much to obtain for women toleration for the exercise of their understandings, and for the culture of their talents, as Sydney Smith.” Mrs. Jameson, in her“ Ethical Fragments," makes a similar acknowledgment: “See what he has done for humanity " society, for liberty, for truth –for us women!"