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The grant to the Board commenced in 1828, but was only £2500 per annum for many years, and often greatly less, the practice appearing to have long been to require from the Treasury only the sum actually wanted for each work; and, from some absence of knowledge among both proprietors and fishermen, and probably inexperience on the part of the Commissioners of the Board, the grant in certain seasons was not obtained at all. It never seems to have reached a regular annual payment of £2500 until the year 1838, nor £3000 until the year 1850. Yet since its institution it has, by means of the negotiations of the Board, drawn out from private parties, for the erection of harbours, the sum of. £27,455
Of itself, the Board has
Making a total of £86,854 expended on the improvement of our coasts. It ought, moreover, to be borne in mind, that although, by the Act of Parliament, not less than onefourth must be contributed by the private promoters of these shoreworks, yet, through the influential management of the Board, this required proportion has in a great many cases been raised to one-third, and in some to one-half, of the estimated sum. So greatly, indeed, have the benefits of these ameliorations attracted the attention of the poor fishermen themselves, that they have not seldom of late come forward with offers of contributions much beyond what could have been anticipated from men of their class. When we
consider the other advantages necessarily flowing from the increased prudential habits which must precede this social or domestic saving,the diminution in the consumption of ardent spirits, and abstinence from other sensuous enjoyments,-it seems impossible to overrate the importance of any existing and well-established condition of affairs, admitted to be directly influential in the production of so beneficial, we may say so blessed, a result.
On the most mature and deliberate consideration of the whole matter now before us, and with large practical experience of the history and habits of our fishermen, and other coast population, we desire to protest against the unpatriotic rumour which has reached our ears, that the Board of Fisheries is about to be abolished, and its beneficial functions performed by-we know not whom.
We have now no longer any space for special observations on the two works of which the titles are given at the foot of the first page of this article. Like all its predecessors, the Report by the Commissioners of the Board of Fisheries, for 1854, contains a great deal of valuable statistical and other information, which, if we seek for elsewhere, we shall fail to find. The author of the treatise on "Fisheries," in the current edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, has presented us with an ample and accurate exposition of his subject, with which he is no doubt well acquainted. He appears to us to be rather long-winded on the history and habits of the salmon and its smolts, whether one year old or two; but this is probably one of his hobbies, and as it may be also a favourite topic with a numerous class of curious and inquiring readers, and has recently assumed additional importance in connection with the artificial breeding of the finest of our freshwater fishes, our ingenious author's time and labour have probably been by no means misbestowed in its elucidation.
THE art of criticism is a branch of literature peculiar and separate, rigidly marked out from all the other branches of this gentle craft. An author, like a mother, throws all his personal prestige, all his hope, and all his riches, into that frail rich-freighted argosy, the book, which is doubtless his, but yet a separate entity, and by no means him; and almost in proportion to the power of his genius, and the elevation of his aim, his book outshines and overtops its maker, and becomes of the two the more real and tangible existence. It is indeed the inevitable tendency of art, in all its loftier labours, to glorify the work rather than the worker. The man perforce moves in a limited circle, the book goes everywhere. It is true that we are all much in the habit of saying that the author is better than the book; but this is an extremely questionable proposition, and one which experience constantly controverts. Also we all make comments-and on what subject have we been so unanimously eloquent on the wide reception given to the productions, and the small amount of public acknowledgment bestowed on the persons, of English men of literature. Yes, they may do those things better in France; but it is not all our English conventionalism, nor is the "stony British stare" with which the man of land petrifies the man of letters in these realms by any means a primary or even a secondary cause of that want of social rank and estimation of which we all complain. Instead of that, it is the normal position of authorhood, the bona fide and genuine condition of a man who has voluntarily transferred his wealth, his aspirations, and his power, to another existence, even though that existence is a creation of his own. The writer of a great book is an abdicated monarch; out of his cloister, discrowned, but triumphant, he watches the other king whom he has made, going forth gloriously, a youth and a bridegroom, to take the world by storm. There are other modes of fame for him who has a
mind to enjoy it in his own person; but it is scarcely to be disputed, to our thinking, that the very first principle of art is to glorify the book, the picture, or the image, over the mind that brought them forth.
But criticism does what literature proper does not pretend to do. Happy the man who first hit upon the brilliant expedient of reviewing! The works of the critic are of their nature fugitive and ephemeral ; but the same nature gives them innumerable advantages-immediate influence, instant superiority, a dazzling and unlaborious reputation. The works are almost nothing in many cases, but the men have leaped upon the popular platform, and mastered the reins of the popular vehicle in the twinkling of an eye. From whence it comes that the greater critics of modern literature are all known to us rather as persons than as writers. The younger generation, to whom the birth-hour of the Edinburgh, that Pallas Athene, in her buff and blue, is a remote historic epoch, have known all their lives the names of Jeffrey and of Sydney Smith; but we venture to say that this knowledge, so far from being based upon the actual productions of these distinguished and brilliant writers, would suffer diminution rather than increase from the most careful study of their several books. It is an entire mistake to send back these versatile and animated personages into the obscure of authorship; their reputation stands out a world above and beyond the volumes that bear their names. They have made no act of abdication in favour of a book; they are orators, impassioned, eager, partial; they are men, each in his own person, storming at us with individual opinions, laughter, indignation, contemptuousness, making splendid blunders, brilliant successes, and leaving echoes of their own undaunted voices in the common din of every day. Their reputation is immediate, sudden, personal-not the fame of a book, but the renown of a
And to this cause we may attribute the very evident fact, that some of the most notable men of the last generation have left little behind them to justify the extraordinary reputation bestowed on them by their contemporaries. Even our own St Christopher, the genial giant of Maga, is not sufficiently represented in the world of books- and his brilliant rivals of the opposite party have none of them left a Noctes. These men entirely eclipse the published works that bear their name. We know what their opinions were, much more by the primitive vehicle of oral tradition, than by the aid of print or publisher. Their position was that of speakers, not of writers; their periodical address to the public was a personal and direct address, out of a natural pulpit, where the audience saw the orator, as well as the orator saw the audience, and the immediate response was marvellous. But there is compensation in all things; the author had up" before this bench of judges, and gloriously cut to pieces to the triumph and admiration of all beholders, has his quiet revenge over his old castigators. The critic, like Dives, has all his good things in his lifetime; it is the nature of his fame to decrease, and fade into a recollection. The man dies; the book lives on.
The writer of the work before us,* brief and modest as is her execution of her labour of love, is diffident of the reception which it may meet with at the hands of the public. Lady Holland's doubts on this question have been, doubtless, set at rest long ere now; and we are after date in offering her the comfort of our opinion, so far as that may go. Yet we cannot help saying, that with such a man as Sydney Smith, a biography was a necessity-a right belonging to him, and a duty owed to us. During his own time he was not a moral essayist, though all the world crowded to his lectures-not an Edinburgh Reviewer, though he himself was the Jove from whose brain that armed Minerva sprang-nor, last and least, a Canon of St Paul's. He was Sydney Smith-it was enough distinc
*Memoir of the Rev. Sydney Smith.
tion-official character would not stick to so manful and mirthful a personage; it was not possible to seize upon one part of his sunshiny and genial nature, and make of it a supposititious man. There was no catching him even in profile; wherever he went, he went with his whole breadth in full array of errors and excellences, ampler than his canonicals. It is folly to say that such a life was uneventful, or that such a person was not a fit subject for biography. In fact, he was the fittest of subjects; and as the world never before knew him so well, it is safe to say that, not even in the sudden triumph of his first great enterprise, not in the excitement of the times of Plymley, nor in the fury of American repudiation, was the name of Sydney Smith so distinguished or so popular
This is the doing of his daughter and his wife. Honour to the love which would not be discouraged! The mother has not been permitted to see how thoroughly and cordially the world appreciates that honest and noble Englishman, of whose fame she was the loyal conservator; but to have carried out so well her mother's purpose, and to have seen how completely the public mind adopts and justifies their own loving estimate of the head of their household, must be, to Lady Holland, sufficient reward.
Sydney Smith was the son of a gentleman, clever enough and rich enough to be a somewhat remarkable and "picturesque
picturesque" personage, but not, so far as appears, a very influential one, either as regarded the character or fortune of his sons. boys were clever beyond precedent; so clever, that their schoolfellows made solemn protest against the injustice of being compelled to strive for prizes with "the Smiths," who were always sure to win. Sydney, the most distinguished of the brotherhood, was captain of the school at Winchester, and, in Oxford, a Fellow of New College. If popular report speaks true, such learned celibates are always lovers of good cheer and in those days, according to La Hol
land, port wine was the prevailing Helicon; for medievalism had not then come into fashion, and learned leisure hung heavy upon the colleges. In the thronged world of youth and intelligence, within and around these ancient walls, it is easy to suppose how great an influence, had he sought it, must have fallen to such a man as Sydney Smith-not to say that society was his natural element, and conversation his special and remarkable gift. Under these circumstances -at an age in which every one loves to excel, and in a place where he had unusual opportunities of distinguishing himself the young Fellow, seeking neither pleasure nor influence, stoutly turned his back upon temptation, and lived, like a brave man as he was, upon his hundred pounds a-year. Sydney was of other mettle than those hapless men of genius whose "light from heaven is a light which leads astray; and it is singular to observe that the prevailing characteristic of this famous wit and man of society, at this most perilous portion of his life, was steadfast, honest, self-denying independence. Such an example is rare; and no one who wishes to form a true estimate of the hero of this story, should omit to note this triumph of his youth.
From New College, by an abrupt transition, the young man falls into his fate. Why the most brilliant of Mr Robert Smith's four sons should be the sacrifice of the family we are not told; but the elder is destined for the bar, and the younger for India, and to Sydney remains only the Church. He does not feel, nor pretend to feel, that this is his natural vocation; but he feels it "his duty to yield to his father's wishes, and sacrifice his own." Indeed, to take him within his own limited standingground, the life of Sydney Smith seems nearly a perfect one-duty, frankly accepted and honestly fulfilled, is in every period and change of his history; and so long as we take it for granted that it is only one of the learned professions which this good son enters in obedience to his father's wishes, we cannot sufficiently admire the fortitude with which he takes up his lot. However, we warn our readers, who may entertain
notions, old-fashioned or newfangled, that a clergyman should be something more than a professional man, to discharge all such fancies from their mind while they discuss this history. Sydney Smith is only to be dealt with on his own platform, and by the light of his own motives. For ourselves, we confess that this most honest, kindhearted, and benevolent divine, is not by any means our beau ideal of a clergyman. Granting all his admirable qualities, and with due regard for the "calm dignity of his eye, mien, and voice," his "deep earnest tones," and " solemn impressive manner," and also for the unfailing benevolence and kindliness of his dealings with his parishioners-in all which we perfectly believe we still cannot help feeling that the least satisfactory view which we can have of Sydney Smith is that of his clerical position. He does not belong to it, nor it to him; he is a wit, a scholar, a man of letters, a man of politics, but in no sense, except in the merely arbitrary matter-of-fact one, is he a clergyman. Without entering into the religious question, or throwing any stigma whatever upon a man, in his own way, so honest and so admirable, we are obliged to hold by our opinion,-the common motives of honesty and propriety which govern men in the commonest of occupations, are all that are necessary in his profession of clergyman for a true judgment of Sydney Smith. It is his duty to look after the morals and comforts of his parishioners, and he does his duty; but to require of him the entire devotion of an evangelist, would be to require what he does not pretend to, and indeed disapproves of. To judge him as we judge the primitive apostles of our faith, or even to judge him as we judge an Evangelical incumbent or a Puseyite rector-men who, after their different fashions, live for this laborious business of theirs, and put their whole heart in itwould be idle and useless. He must be looked on in the light of his own motives and his own principles, and not according to any special view of ours.
And in this aspect we can admire the sacrifice which a young man,
conscious of his own great powers, and no doubt conscious that in this sphere, of all others, were they least likely to do him service, made "to his father's wishes." He was soon put to a severe practical trial, and with equal fortitude seems to have endured his banishment to the dreary solitude of his first curacy. It was a cruel experiment. "Sydney Smith a curate in the midst of Salisbury Plain!" exclaims his biographer; and certainly the position was dismal enough. "The village consisted but of a few scattered cottages and farms"- once a-week a butcher's cart came over from Salisbury"-and "his only relaxation, not being able to keep a horse, was long walks over these interminable plains." Under these circumstances one may suppose that a little of the fervour of that Methodism, at which in after days he aimed his least successful arrow, might have been the best amelioration possible to this melancholy state of things; and very sad it is indeed to send a man, with no apostolic vocation whatever, to a place which nothing but the vocation of an apostle could render bearable. Nevertheless Sydney, honest, brave, and manful, did his duty. He remained at his post, though he did not love it, and did what was required of him, if not like an apostle, at least like an honest man.
Let us pause to say that this seems to us the really distinct and predominant feature in the character of Sydney Smith. He is everywhere a full-developed Englishman, making greater account of the manly virtues than of the ethereal ones-disposed to take the plain path before him, and to tread it sturdily-given to discussing everything that comes under his notice, in its actual and practicable reality rather than its remoter essential principles-a man given to doing more than to speculating a mind not matter-of-fact, but actual-a soul of hearty and thorough honesty. Honesty is one of the most definite principles of our nature-it leaves no misty debatable land between the false and the true; and a man who says nothing but what he believes true, and does nothing but what he believes right, may be many
a time wrong, as human creatures are, yet must always be an estimable man. Sydney Smith is never quix otic-never goes positively out of his way to seek a duty which does not specially call upon him. As long as the bishop is propitious, he is quite content to leave Foston among the Yorkshire clay, without a parishpriest; but as soon as the duty places itself broad and distinct before him, he is down upon it without a moment's pause, builds the ugly vicarage, takes possession of the unattrac tive parish, does whatever his hand findeth to do. In this lies the charm and force of his character; in spite of all we say ourselves, and all that other people are pleased to say concerning the sombre and foggy mood of our national mind, we, for our own part, cannot help regarding Sydney Smith as a very type and impersonation of that virtue which has the especial admiration of these islands. For we like tangible worthiness, we British people-we like something to look at, as well as to hear tell of, and rejoice with our whole hearts over the man who "goes in" at his foes, and overcomes them-who makes light of the infinite "bothers" of life, and bears its serious calamities like a man, and who carries his good cheer and his cordial heart unclouded over all. This is the national standard and type of excellence, let them speak of vapours and moroseness who will.
From the dreary probation of this first charge, Sydney was elevated to a tutorship, and ushered into a new and eventful life. With his pupil, the son of a Squire, to whom belongs the honour of finding out that this curate of Netherhaven was no ordinary personage, the young tutor, by a happy chance, found his way to Edinburgh. War broke out; Germany fell into trouble-well for Sydney!and so the Jove came to Athens that the Minerva might be born. Does anybody remember how it was in those old, old days? Dearest reader, there was no Maga! there were Gentleman's Magazines, and Scots Magazines, and other outré and antiquated productions. The broad and comprehensive rvey of general events to which now accustomed, the univers m of everything and