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the reach of our every-day communion, were it not for the impulse of vanity, we should never think of offering them our friendship, exposing to them our amiable weaknesses, or of seeking from them an interchange of familiar thoughts. Of their countenance we might be proud, and their approbation we might covet, but of their affection we should never dream.
With this class, neither in the multitude of his victories, nor in vastness of any one conquest, can Sir Sidney Smith be associated. higher degree of praise, a more lofty because a better honour, is due to him. In his person, though he has not revived the age of chivalry, he has shown what is the real splendour of the chivalric character. All his public actions seem to have been less the offspring of mere military calculation and naval science, than of the intuition of the most romantic courage and the highest moral feeling, always controlled by a prudence and intrepidity that no danger, however sudden, could surprise, and no difficulty, however menacing, vanquish. That such is the principal feature of his character the following pages will fully exemplify.
The prepossession in favour of good blood should not be regarded as a prejudice. We should not deny to the human what is conceded
to the other animal races. This is less a moral than a mere physical question, though the results are most conspicuously and best shown in moral action. Revelation teaches us, and we devoutly conform to the lesson, that, in the eye of the Omnipotent, all men are equal. This is in a religious sense. But we know that, in a worldly view, not only are all men the one differing from the other, but the races of men show a distinction still more marked. William Sidney Smith possesses the advantage of good blood in a very high degree.
Sir Sidney Smith is a collateral and no very remote relative to the late Lord Chief Baron Sir Sidney Stafford Smithe, and of the SMYTHE Lord Viscount Strangford. These are descendants from Customer Smith, who flourished in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Consequently, the ancient and genuine orthography of the name is Smythe ; but as the subject of this biography has always in his official documents spelt his name Smith, and as in that spelling the augmentation to his family arms has been granted, to it we shall consequently adhere. Unfortunately, we have no means of ascertaining for what reason or at what time this orthography was changed. It is of but small moment in itself, though, to the antiquarian and the genealogist, it may appear of paramount importance.
That the change is of some antiquity, is evident by the following inscription upon a large gravestone among the pavement in the nave of the church of New Shoreham. It is an epitaph to the memory of Sir Sidney's grandfather, and runs thus :
6 Here lieth
Who served his King, Country, and Friend.
A kind Father, and friendly to his Acquaintance : Who died, much lamented, the 28th of October, 1727,
Aged 66 Years."
This Cornelius Smith was the father of Captain Edward Smith, of the Burford, who was mortally wounded at the attack of La Guira, Feb. 19th, 1743, and grandfather of General Edward Smith, colonel of the 43rd Regiment, and governor of Fort Charles, Jamaica. This gen
, tleman served with the hero Wolfe at the reduction of Quebec, and died at Bath on the 19th of January 1809.
Sir Sidney Smith is a nephew of this General Smith, and a son of this general's younger brother. Sir Sidney's father served in the early part of the war of 1756, as aide-de-camp to the Right Honourable Lord George Sackville, and afterwards held an office in the royal household. Sir Sidney's mother was a Miss Mary Wilkinson, daughter of Pinkney Wilkinson, Esq., a very opulent merchant.
From the riches of his maternal grandfather Sir Sidney Smith derived but little benefit, as his father having married in opposition to the wishes of Mr. Wilkinson, and for other reasons that will be afterwards alluded to, the vast property left by that gentleman was devised to his other daughter, Lady Camelford.
There seem to have been great causes of mutual dissatisfaction between Sir Sidney's father and maternal grandfather, as, the former having withdrawn his sons from the protection of the latter, the old gentleman, some little time previous to his death, cancelled a codicil to his will, by which, notwithstanding the little harmony that subsisted between him and his son-in-law, he had made some provision for his grandchildren.
By this daughter of Mr. Wilkinson the father of Sir William Sidney Smith had three sons and no daughter whatever. The eldest of these sons, now Colonel Charles Douglas Smith, is still living, enjoying his well-earned honours and great affluence, acquired by long and meritorious services in the East Indies. Colonel Smith first entered the army in a regiment raised by Lord
Suffield. This gentleman has a son in the Exchequer Office.
The second son, William Sidney Smith, who was born in Park Lane, Westminster, we believe towards the close of the year 1764, is the subject of these Memoirs.
John Spencer Smith, the third and youngest son, procured the appointment of page to Queen Charlotte, and so well recommended himself in that capacity, and so highly were his general talents appreciated, that he was sent on a mission of great importance to the court of Wurtemberg. He afterwards travelled to Constantinople, and it is confidently believed that he there converted to Christianity, and subsequently married, a Turkish lady of high rank and of great wealth. As will be seen in the course of these
he was ultimately of the greatest service to Sir Sidney Smith in all his operations in Egypt, and as our minister at the Ottoman court preserved and increased the good understanding that then subsisted between a government so fastidious and inconstant and ourselves. He is now in the enjoyment of a well-earned pension.
We have already briefly adverted to the loss to William Sidney and his brothers of their fair proportion of the grandfather's vast fortune. That this loss has been to them a blessing rather