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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Sydney Smith (1771–1845)


AMERICAN ICE.—Shortly after the repudiation of the Pennsylvanian bonds, Sydney Smith was shown a lump of American ice, upon which he remarked, “That he was glad to see anything solvent come from America.”

CANNIBALS.—Sydney Smith is said to have given some advice to the bishop of New Zealand, previous to his departure, recommending him to have regard to the minor as well as to the more grave duties of his station—to be given to hospitality—and, in order to meet the tastes of his native guests, never to be without a smoked little boy in the bacon sack, and a cold clergyman on the sideboard. “And as for myself, my lord,” he concluded, “all I can say is, that I hope you will not disagree with the man that eats you!”

IMPERTINENCE OF AN OPINION.—It is always considered as a piece of impertinence in England, if a man of less than two or three thousand a year has any opinions at all upon important subjects.

USE AND ABUSE.—A certain authoress interdicts cards and assemblies. No cards, because cards are employed in gaming; no assemblies, because many dissipated persons pass their lives in assemblies. Carry this but a little farther, and we must say, no wine, because of drunkenness; no meat, because of gluttony; no use, that there may be no abuse!

VIRGILIAN PUN.—Smith proposed, as a motto for Bishop Burgess, brother to the well-known fish-sauce purveyor:

  • “Gravi jampridem saucia cura.”
  • THE WRONG WORD.—Preaching a charity sermon, he frequently repeated the assertion that Englishmen were distinguished for the love of their species. The collection happened to be inferior to his expectations, and he said that he had evidently used the wrong word: his expression should have been, that they were distinguished for their love of their specie.

    SAMARITANS.—Yes, you find people ready enough to do the Samaritan, without the oil and twopence.

    DOGS.—“No, I don’t like dogs; I always expect them to go mad. A lady asked me once for a motto for her dog Spot. I proposed, ‘Out, damnèd Spot!’ But she did not think it sentimental enough.”