Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 53.djvu/161

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British life offices. From 1879 to 1881 he was chairman of the Association of Scottish Managers, and as such drafted the Married Women's Policies of Assurance (Scotland) Act, 1880.

Smith made his mark in letters and philosophy as the translator (1845–9) and biographer (1845) of Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762–1814), with whose idealism he was in strong sympathy. He had no classical tastes or training, but was widely read in French and German, as well as in English literature. His familiarity with modern European thought was extended by foreign travel. In 1846 he was one of the founders of the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution, and was long its most active vice-president and chairman of its directors. The selection of its library and the arrangements for its winter lectures owed much to his insight and enterprise, and to his admirable combination of courage and strong sense. The honorary degree of LL.D., conferred upon him by Edinburgh University in 1872, was a well-earned tribute to one who, without the aid of an academic career, had done much to foster the true spirit of modern culture.

In politics a strong liberal, he took an active part in the second return of Macaulay for Edinburgh (1852), in the election of Adam Black [q. v.] as Macaulay's successor (1856), and in the successive elections of Mr. Gladstone for Midlothian. He was a J.P. for Midlothian. For some time he was an office-bearer, subsequently an attendant, at St. Mark's Chapel (unitarian). Among his closest friends were Robert Cox [q. v.] and William Ballantyne Hodgson [q. v.] His genial humour, generous kindness, and steadfast will made him a powerful personality in the circles in which he moved. He died at his residence, Lennox Lea, Currie, Midlothian, on 28 May 1896, and was buried at the Dean cemetery, Edinburgh. He married (1844) Martha (d. 16 May 1887), daughter of Robert Hardie, manager of the Edinburgh University printing press, and had nine children, of whom seven survived him. His translations of Fichte (forming part of ‘The Catholic Series’ published by John Chapman) comprise: ‘The Nature of the Scholar … with a Memoir,’ 1845, 8vo; ‘The Vocation of the Scholar,’ 1847, 8vo; ‘The Characteristics of the Present Age,’ 1847, 8vo; ‘The Vocation of Man,’ 1848, 8vo; ‘The Way towards the Blessed Life,’ 1849, 8vo. These were collected with additions, as ‘The Popular Works of Fichte … with a Memoir,’ 1849, 8vo, 2 vols. (1889, 8vo, 2 vols.).

[Scotsman, 29 May 1896, 30 May 1896 (letter by W. T. Gairdner, M.D.); Christian Life, 6 June 1896, p. 278; personal knowledge.]

A. G.

SMITH, Sir WILLIAM CUSAC, baronet (1766–1836), Irish judge, and pamphleteer, born on 23 Jan. 1766, was the eldest son of Sir Michael Smith, an Irish lawyer of eminence, who, after sitting for eleven years in the Irish parliament, was from 1794 to 1801 a baron of the court of exchequer, and from 1801 to 1806 master of the rolls in Ireland. Sir Michael was created a baronet in 1799, in recognition as well of his son's parliamentary services to the government as of his own judicial eminence, and died on 17 Dec. 1808, having retired from the bench in 1806.

William Cusac Smith was the only son of Sir Michael and of Mary, daughter and heiress of James Cusac of Coolmine. On his mother's death he assumed the additional surname of Cusac. He was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated in 1788. While at the university Smith became acquainted with Edmund Burke, with whom he corresponded (Burke, Correspondence, iv. 37), at whose house he passed some of his vacations (Prior, Life of Burke, ii.), and to whom he dedicated in 1792 two pamphlets, entitled ‘The Rights of Artisans’ and ‘The Patriot’ (Burke, Correspondence, iv. 266). He was called to the Irish bar in 1788, and, rapidly acquiring a substantial practice, was made a king's counsel in 1795. In the same year he entered parliament for the borough of Donegal. Though holding liberal views on catholic emancipation, as might be expected from a disciple of Burke, he became a strong supporter of the government, and was one of the first and most strenuous advocates of the union. His speech in the union debate in 1799 was esteemed one of the ablest on that side, and was published as a pamphlet (Castlereagh Correspondence, ii. 130). He was an active member of the minority of the Irish bar which favoured the union, and the author of a protest against the action of the majority (ib. i. 344). Several letters and pamphlets which he wrote at the time were republished in ‘Tracts on the Union’ in 1831.

In December 1800 Smith was appointed solicitor-general. While holding that office he was appointed deputy judge of assize, and went the north-east circuit as the colleague of his own father. In 1801 he became a baron of the exchequer. For many years he enjoyed the highest respect and confidence in this position, his leanings towards catholic emancipation rendering him popular with the Irish public. In his latter years, however,