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date: 22 April 2021

Sydney Smith 1771–1845
English clergyman and essayist 

  1. The moment the very name of Ireland is mentioned, the English seem to bid adieu to common feeling, common prudence, and common sense, and to act with the barbarity of tyrants, and the fatuity of idiots.
    Letters of Peter Plymley (1807)
  2. We shall generally find that the triangular person has got into the square hole, the oblong into the triangular, and a square person has squeezed himself into the round hole. The officer and the office, the doer and the thing done, seldom fit so exactly that we can say they were almost made for each other.
    Sketches of Moral Philosophy (1849) Lecture 9
  3. [Take] short views of human life—not further than dinner or tea.
    letter to Lady Georgiana Morpeth, 16 February 1820; see Smith
  4. What would life be without arithmetic, but a scene of horrors?
    letter to Miss [Lucie Austen], 22 July 1835
  5. I have no relish for the country; it is a kind of healthy grave.
    letter to Miss G. Harcourt, 1838
  6. A comfortable house is a great source of happiness. It ranks immediately after health and a good conscience.
    letter to Lord Murray, 29 September 1843
  7. Take short views, hope for the best, and trust in God.
    Lady Holland Memoir (1855) vol. 1, ch. 6; see Smith
  8. No furniture so charming as books.
    Lady Holland Memoir (1855) vol. 1, ch. 9; see Powell
  9. How can a bishop marry? How can he flirt? The most he can say is, ‘I will see you in the vestry after service.’
    Lady Holland Memoir (1855) vol. 1, ch. 9
  10. As the French say, there are three sexes—men, women, and clergymen.
    Lady Holland Memoir (1855) vol. 1, ch. 9
  11. My definition of marriage…it resembles a pair of shears, so joined that they cannot be separated; often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing anyone who comes between them.
    Lady Holland Memoir (1855) vol. 1, ch. 11
  12. He has occasional flashes of silence, that make his conversation perfectly delightful.
    Lady Holland Memoir (1855) vol. 1, ch. 11
  13. Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl,
    And, scarce-suspected, animate the whole.
    Lady Holland Memoir (1855) vol. 1, ch. 11 ‘Receipt for a Salad’
  14. Serenely full, the epicure would say,
    Fate cannot harm me, I have dined to-day.
    Lady Holland Memoir (1855) vol. 1, ch. 11 ‘Receipt for a Salad’; see Dryden
  15. Brighton Pavilion looks as if St Paul's had slipped down to Brighton and pupped.
    attributed; Alan Bell (ed.) The Sayings of Sydney Smith (1993)
  16. Death must be distinguished from dying, with which it is often confused.
    H. Pearson The Smith of Smiths (1934)
  17. I am just going to pray for you at St Paul's, but with no very lively hope of success.
    H. Pearson The Smith of Smiths (1934)
  18. I never read a book before reviewing it; it prejudices a man so.
    H. Pearson The Smith of Smiths (1934) ch. 3
  19. Minorities…are almost always in the right.
    H. Pearson The Smith of Smiths (1934) ch. 9
  20. My idea of heaven is, eating pâté de foie gras to the sound of trumpets.
    view ascribed by Smith to his friend Henry Luttrell
    H. Pearson The Smith of Smiths (1934) ch. 10
  21. Nothing can be more disgusting than an oratorio. How absurd to see 500 people fiddling like madmen about Israelites in the Red Sea!
    Hesketh Pearson The Smith of Smiths (1934)
  22. What two ideas are more inseparable than Beer and Britannia?
    H. Pearson The Smith of Smiths (1934) ch. 11