Smith, Sydney

Smith, Sydney, an English clergyman and celebrated humorist, was born in Woodford, Essex, in 1771, and was educated at Winchester School and New College, Oxford, where, in 1790, he obtained a fellowship of one hundred pounds a year. Having entered the Church, he became, in 1794, curate of Amesbury, Wiltshire, but three years later went to Edinburgh as a private tutor to the son of the squire of his parish. During this time, he officiated in the Episcopal chapel there. In 1802, in connection with Jeffrey, Horner, Brougham, Dr. Thomas Brown, Playfair, and others, Smith started the Edinburgh Review, to the first number of which, as editor, he contributed seven articles. In 1803 he went to London, and was soon popular as a preacher, as a lecturer on moral philosophy (1804-6), and as a brilliant conversationalist. In 1806, during the short reign of the Whigs, he was presented by lord Erskine to the rectory of Foston-le-Clay, Yorkshire, worth about five hundred pounds a year. Failing to exchange this for some more desirable living, he built a pew rectory, and in 1814 moved into it with his family. Some eighteen years afterwards the duke of Devonshire gave him the living of Londesborough (seven hundred pounds a year) to hold until Mr. Howard, son of the earl of Carlisle, came of age. In 1828 lord chancellor Lyndhurst presented him to a prebendal stall in Bristol, and enabled him to exchange Foston for Combe Florey, Somersetshire. In 1831 earl Grey appointed him one of the canons residentiary of St. Paul's. Having inherited considerable property from his brother Courtenay, he invested largely in the public stock of Pennsylvania; and the neglect of that state to pay the interest on her bonds called out his Petition to Congress and Letters on American Debts. He died in London, Feb. 22, 1845. Sydney Smith was not only the wittiest, but one of the wisest, men of his age. His life was devoted to the removal of great abuses, and to the exposure of public vices and crimes at a time when vice was enthroned in high places, and when so many perils environed the path of a reformer as to require, in even the mildest innovator, a large stock of humanity and an equal share of courage. Without the power and prestige which in England usually follow high birth or wealth, he exercised a greater influence over the public mind of his day than any man except, perhaps, lord Brougham. He erred at times in treating sacred subjects with levity and seeming irreverence; but this fault was one of natural temperament and had no root in infidelity. Although his Christianity partook of the temper of the time and circle in which he moved, and had, therefore, far less of the evangelical element than could be desired, it is yet clear that his life was mainly regulated by a strong sense of duty and that he found peace and comfort in his abiding faith in the great truths of religion. His writings are, Six Sermons (Edinb. 1800, small 8vo): — contributions to the Edinburgh Review (published 1839): — Peter Plymley's Letters (1807), to promote Catholic emancipation: — Sermons (1809, 2 vols.): — Speeches on Catholic Claims and Reform Bill (1825-31): — Three Letters to Archdeacon Singleton on the Ecclesiastical Commission (1837-39): — -The Ballot (1837): — Letter to Lord John Russell on the Church Bills (1838): — Letters on Railways (1842): — -Letters on American Debts (1843). After his death appeared, Fragments on the Irish Roman Catholic Church (Lond. 1845, 8vo): — Sermons (ibid. 1846, 8vo): — Elementary Sketches of Moral Philosophy (1850, 8vo). See Memoir of Rev. Sydney Smith, by his daughter, lady Holland (N.Y. 1855, 2 vols. 12mo); Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v.

a learned English divine and writer, was born in the parish of Allhallows, Barking, Essex, June 3, 1638, and was educated at Queen's College, Oxford, being elected fellow in 1666. In June, 1668, he, as chaplain, accompanied Sir Daniel Harvey, ambassador to Constantinople, and returned in 1671. In 1676 he traveled in France, and returning shortly he became chaplain to Sir Joseph Williamson, secretary of state. In 1683 he took the degree of D.D., and the year following was presented by his college to the rectory of Stanlake, diocese of Oxford, but resigned it in a month. In 1687 he was collated to a prebend in the Church of Heytesbury, Wilts. In August, 1688, he was deprived of his fellowship by Dr. Giffard because he refused to live among the new popish fellows of that college. He was, however, restored in October following; but afterwards, refusing to take the oaths to William and Mary, his fellowship was pronounced void, July 25, 1692. He died at London, May 11, 1710. Among his learned works are the following: Diatriba de Chaldaicis Paraphrastis (Oxon. 1662, 8vo): — Syntagma de Druidum Moribus ac Institutis (Lond. 1664, 8vo): — Epistoloe Duoe, etc. (Oxon. 1672, 8vo): — De Grecoe Ecclesioe Hodierno Statu Epistola (ibid. 1676, 8vo): — Miscellanea (2 vols. 12mo; vol. 1, 1686; vol. 2, 1690): — Epistoloe et Annales Camdeni ab A.D. 1603 ad 1623, etc. (1691, 4to). See Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v.; Darling, Cyclop. Bibliog. s.v.; Chalmers, Biog. Dict. s.v.

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