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John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

Sydney Smith 1771-1845 John Bartlett

    It requires a surgical operation to get a joke well into a Scotch understanding. 1
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 15.
    That knuckle-end of England,—that land of Calvin, oat-cakes, and sulphur.
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 17.
    No one minds what Jeffrey says:… it is not more than a week ago that I heard him speak disrespectfully of the equator.
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 17.
    We cultivate literature on a little oatmeal. 2
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 23.
    Truth is its [justice’s] handmaid, freedom is its child, peace is its companion, safety walks in its steps, victory follows in its train; it is the brightest emanation from the Gospel; it is the attribute of God.
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 29.
    It is always right that a man should be able to render a reason for the faith that is within him.
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 53.
    Avoid shame, but do not seek glory,—nothing so expensive as glory. 3
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 88.
    Let every man be occupied, and occupied in the highest employment of which his nature is capable, and die with the consciousness that he has done his best.
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 130.
    Looked as if she had walked straight out of the ark.
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 157.
    The Smiths never had any arms, and have invariably sealed their letters with their thumbs.
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 244.
    Not body enough to cover his mind decently with; his intellect is improperly exposed.
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 258.
    He has spent all his life in letting down empty buckets into empty wells; and he is frittering away his age in trying to draw them up again. 4
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 259.
    You find people ready enough to do the Samaritan, without the oil and twopence.
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 261.
    Ah, you flavour everything; you are the vanilla of society.
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 262.
    My living in Yorkshire was so far out of the way, that it was actually twelve miles from a lemon.
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 262.
    As the French say, there are three sexes,—men, women, and clergymen. 5
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 262.
    To take Macaulay out of literature and society and put him in the House of Commons, is like taking the chief physician out of London during a pestilence.
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 265.
    Daniel Webster struck me much like a steam-engine in trousers.
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 267.
    “Heat, ma’am!” I said; “it was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones.”
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 267.
    Macaulay is like a book in breeches…. He has occasional flashes of silence, that make his conversation perfectly delightful.
          Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. i. p. 363.
    Serenely full, the epicure would say,
Fate cannot harm me,—I have dined to-day. 6
          Recipe for Salad. p. 374.
    Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea?—how did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea.
          Recipe for Salad. p. 383.
    If you choose to represent the various parts in life by holes upon a table, of different shapes,—some circular, some triangular, some square, some oblong,—and the persons acting these parts by bits of wood of similar shapes, 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. 7
          Sketches of Moral Philosophy.
    The schoolboy whips his taxed top; the beardless youth manages his taxed horse with a taxed bridle on a taxed road; and the dying Englishman, pouring his medicine, which has paid seven per cent, into a spoon that has paid fifteen per cent, flings himself back upon his chintz bed which has paid twenty-two per cent, and expires in the arms of an apothecary who has paid a license of a hundred pounds for the privilege of putting him to death.
          Review of Seybert’s Annals of the United States, 1820.
    In the four quarters of the globe, who reads an American book, or goes to an American play, or looks at an American picture or statue?
          Review of Seybert’s Annals of the United States, 1820.
    Magnificent spectacle of human happiness.
          America. Edinburgh Review, July, 1824.
    In the midst of this sublime and terrible storm [at Sidmouth], Dame Partington, who lived upon the beach, was seen at the door of her house with mop and pattens, trundling her mop, squeezing out the sea-water, and vigorously pushing away the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic was roused; Mrs. Partington’s spirit was up. But I need not tell you that the contest was unequal; the Atlantic Ocean beat Mrs. Partington.
          Speech at Taunton, 1813.
    Men who prefer any load of infamy, however great, to any pressure of taxation, however light.
          On American Debts.
Note 1.
See Walpole, Quotation 4. [back]
Note 2.
Mr. Smith, with reference to the “Edinburgh Review,” says: “The motto I proposed for the ‘Review’ was ‘Tenui musam meditamur avena;’ but this was too near the truth to be admitted; so we took our present grave motto from Publius Syrus, of whom none of us had, I am sure, read a single line.” [back]
Note 3.
A favorite motto, which through life Mr. Smith inculcated on his family. [back]
Note 4.
See Cowper, Quotation 68. [back]
Note 5.
Lord Wharncliffe says, “The well-known sentence, almost a proverb, that ‘this world consists of men, women, and Herveys,’ was originally Lady Montagu’s.”—Montagu Letters, vol. i. p. 64. [back]
Note 6.
See Dryden, Quotation 65. [back]
Note 7.
The right man to fill the right place.—Layard: Speech, Jan. 15, 1855. [back]