Imatges de pÓgina

two principal traits of character that Sir Sidney displayed through the whole course of his life—a recklessness in running into danger, and great resources of mind in getting out of it with credit.

It was at Midgham that William Sidney formed some of his most useful and distinguished friendships; among others, the Duke of St. Albans, the Lords Rivers and Delaware, and Lord Rodney, who was a constant visiter, and with whom he first went to sea.

William Sidney Smith did not long remain under the paternal roof, and, during the small time that he enjoyed that advantage and happiness, he was deprived of the soothing attention of one who, on account of those differences so much to be deplored, with her family, was unfortunately living separate from her husband. She did not survive to witness the renown of her sprightly and favourite son, as she passed into a happier state of existence before he returned from his second trip to sea. She died and was interred at Bath.

Those who knew well Sir Sidney Smith in his boyhood, describe him as then being a most vivacious specimen of juvenility-quick, daring, and mercurial, and not far removed from a little Pickle. In his person, though of small size, he was eminently handsome, with clustering and



curling black hair, dark clear complexion, and with a high colour. At the earliest age he evinced an utter contempt of danger, and a decision of character, that, under proper training, warranted the most sanguine hopes of future excellence. Among his other qualities, an aptitude for invention, and a power of adaptation of his then limited capabilities, both in the prosecution of his studies and amusements, early displayed themselves. He was a boy for whom you might fear a little, whom you could not help loving much, and whom you must admire entirely.


Sir Sidney's first entrance into the Navy-Some reflections

on the early appointments of that period—His various juvenile services until he was made Post Captain.

We have now to introduce our young subject upon that arena that was afterwards to prove the scene of exploits that elevated the already-exalted naval fame of his country to a still loftier glory, and where he entwined the military with the naval laurel in the triumphal crown that he threw at the feet of England's Genius of Victory.

Long before his little feet had mimicked the officer-stride on the deck of a man-of-war, he had, in his infant imagination, commanded, fought, and conquered. His thoughts, his dreams, his short moments of seriousness, and his long hours of playfulness, were all devoted to fighting the French. He seemed to have been born with, and nurtured in, an antipathy to that nation,

with which fate had ordained that he should

pass the greatest portion of his life, either as their battling enemy, their impatient prisoner, or their welcome guest.

He appears, in his earliest youth, to have been a merry and graceful parody of one of the young Hannibals. The Frenchthe French-he would annihilate them ! His puerile antipathies ripened into a very disastrous though gallant and no longer prejudiced opposition to that nation, which he commenced by hating, and finished by beating and respecting.

His father being gentleman usher to Queen Charlotte, and enjoying much of her personal favour, the reader must not be surprised, considering how naval matters were managed at that period, to learn that little Smith strutted a midshipman on board of the Sandwich, under Lord Rodney, before he was twelve



age. It would be a difficult matter successfully to defend appointments of this description by argument-or rather, that which we might produce as arguments, would no longer be considered as such in these march-of-mind-boasted days. All that we can do, is to imitate that shrewd person, who, when a very learned philosopher was strenuously arguing that there could not, by possibility, be any such thing as motion, merely got up and walked across the room. To those who con



demn these boyish appointments as contrary to justice and subversive of the service, we shall perhaps admit their reasonings to be unanswerable without being in the least convincing, and content ourselves with mentioning the glory of, in this respect, the unreformed navy, and pointing to such names as those of Duncan, Jervis, Nelson, and, last though not least among them, Sir Sidney Smith, who all entered the service about the same age.

Improper, perhaps, as at heart we acknowledge these appointments to be, we must now introduce him, stiff in his uniforms, with his shrill treble pipe imitating the hoarse tones of command, and shaking off the schoolboy a little before he could gracefully creep into the seemliness and importance of the officer and the man. However, he showed an astonishing precocity in his metamorphosis; and, long before other lads had divested themselves of the fear and the tyranny of the ferula and the rod, he had already become respectable as a friend, and something to be dreaded as an enemy among men.

From reports to which we can safely give credit, we find that he was universally beloved on board the Sandwich, and almost immediately drew upon himself the favourable notice of his superior officers.

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