Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/284

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268
SMITH, R.—SMITH, SYDNEY

Sikh war, and was present at the battles of Batliwal, AHwal and Sobraon. He was then for some years employed on canal work, and when the Mutiny broke out was in charge of Roorkee. He promptly concentrated the Europeans in the workshops, and though the native sappers deserted, his forethought pre- vented any loss of life. When Delhi was invested he was ap- pointed chief engineer in charge of the siege works. He reached Delhi on the 2nd of July, and immediately advised General Barnard to assault the city. Barnard died while the advice was still under consideration, and his successor, General Reed, could not be induced to follow it; and when Reed in turn was succeeded by Archdale Wilson, the besiegers were so weakened by losses that the moment for a successful attack had passed. Baird Smith, however, prevented Wilson from relaxing his hold on Delhi until the arrival of John Nicholson with reinforce- ments from the Punjab, and of the siege train from Phillour. Nicholson then joined Baird Smith in compelling Wilson to make the assault, which proved successful, on the 14th of September. Baird Smith was ably assisted by Captain Alexander Taylor, but Nicholson was unjust to Baird Smith in assigning to Taylor the chief credit for the siege operations. After the capture of Delhi he returned to Roorkee and to civil employment, and for a time the value of his military services was insufficiently recognized. After the Mutiny he was made A.D.C. to Queen Victoria, became secretary to the government of India in the public works department, and gained well-deserved credit in the famine of 1861. But the onerous character of this work, following a wound and illness at Delhi, broke down his constitu- tion, and he died at sea on the 13th of December 1861. He married a daughter of De Quincey, who long survived him.

See Colonel H. M. Vibart, Richard Baird Smith (1897).


SMITH, ROBERT (1680–1768), English mathematician, was born in 1680, probably at Lea near Gainsborough. After attend- ing Leicester grammar school he entered Trinity College, Cam- bridge, in 1708, and becoming minor fellow in 17 14, major fellow in 171 5 and senior fellow in 1739, was chosen master in 1742, in succession to Richard Bentley. From 1716 to 1760 he was Plumian professor of astronomy, and be died in the master's lodge at Trinity on the 2nd of February 1768. Besides editing two works by his cousin, Roger Cotes, who was his predecessor in the Plumian chair, he published A Compleat System of Opticks in 1738, which gained him the sobriquet of " Old Focus," and Harmonics, or the Philosophy of Musical Sounds in 1749. He was the founder of the Smith's prizes at Cambridge, having by his will left £3500 South Sea, stock to the university, a portion of the interest from which was to be divided yearly between the two junior B.A.'s who had made the greatest progress in mathematics and natural philosophy.


SMITH, SYDNEY (1771-1845), English writer and divine, son of Robert Smith, was born at Woodford, Essex, on the 3rd of June 1771. His father, a man of restless ingenuity and activity, " very clever, odd by nature, but still more odd by design," who bought, altered, spoiled and sold about nineteen different estates in England, had talent and eccentricity enough to be the father of such a wit as Sydney Smith on the strictest principles of heredity; but Sydney himself attributed not a little of his constitutional gaiety to an infusion of French blood, his maternal grandfather being a French Protestant refugee of the name of Olier. Sydney was the second of a family of four brothers and one sister, all remarkable for their talents. While two of the brothers, Robert Percy, known as " Bobus," after- wards advocate-general of Bengal, and Cecil, were sent to Eton, Sydney was sent with the youngest to Winchester, where he rose to be captain of the school, and with his brother, so distinguished himself that their schoolfellows signed a round-robin " refusing to try for the college prizes if the Smiths were allowed to contend for them any more, as they always gained them." At some time during his Oxford career he spent six months in France, being duly enrolled for safety's sake in the local Jacobin club. In 1789 he had become a scholar of New College, Oxford; he received a fellowship after two years' residence, took his degree in 1792 and proceeded M.A. in 1796. It was his wish then to read for the bar, but his father would add nothing to his fellowship, and he was reluctantly compelled to take holy orders. He was ordained priest at Oxford in 1796, and became a curate in the small village of Nether Avon, near Amesbury, in the midst of Salisbury Plain. The place was uncongenial enough, but Sydney Smith did much for the inhabitants, providing the means for the rudiments of education, and thus making better things possible. The squire of the parish, Michael Hicks-Beach, invited the new curate to dine, was astonished and charmed to find such a man in such a place , and engaged him after a time as tutor to his eldest son. It was arranged that they should proceed to the university of Weimar, but, before reaching their destination Germany was disturbed by war, and " in stress of politics " said Smith, "we put into Edinburgh." This was in 1798. While his pupil attended lectures, Smith was not idle. He studied moral philosophy under Dugald Stewart, and devoted much time to medicine: and chemistry. He also preached in the Episcopal chapel, where his practical brilliant discourses attracted many hearers.

In 1800 he published his first book, Six Sermons, preached in Charlotte Street Chapel, Edinburgh, and in the same year, married, against the wishes of her friends, Catharine Amelia Pybus. They settled at No. 46 George Street, Edinburgh, where, as everywhere else, Smith made numerous friends, among them the future Edinburgh Reviewers. It was towards the end of his five years' residence in Edinburgh, in the eighth or ninth storey or flat in a house in Buccleuch Place, the elevated residence of the then Mr Jeffrey, that Sydney Smith proposed the setting up of a review as an organ for the young -malcontents with things as they were. " I was appointed editor," he says in the preface to' the collection of his contributions, " and remained long enough in Edinburgh to edit the first number (October 1802) of the Edinburgh Review. The motto I proposed for the Review was 'Tenui musam meditamur avena.' — ' We cultivate literature on a little oatmeal.' But this was too near the truth to be admitted, and so we took our present grave motto[1] from Publius Syrus, of whom, none of us, I am sure, had ever read a single line." He continued to write for the Review for the next quarter of a century, and his brilliant articles were a main element in its success.

He left Edinburgh for good in 1803, when the education of his pupils was completed, and settled in London, where he rapidly became known as a preacher, a lecturer and a social lion. His success as a preacher, although so marked that there was often not standing-room in Berkeley Chapel, Mayfair, where he was morning preacher, was not gained by any sacrifice of dignity. He was also " alternate evening preacher " at the Foundling Hospital, and preached at the Berkeley Chapel and the Fitzroy Chapel, now St Saviour's Church, Fitzroy Square. He lectured on moral philosophy at the Royal Institution for three seasons, from 1804 to 1806: and treated his subject with such vigour, freshness and liveliness of illustration that the London world crowded to Albemarle Street to hear him. He followed in the main Dugald Stewart, whose lectures he had attended in Edinburgh; but there is more originality as well as good sense in his lectures, especially on such topics as imagination and wit and humour, than in many more pretentious systems of philosophy. He himself had no high idea of these entertaining performances, and threw them in the fire when they had served their purpose — providing the money for furnishing his house. But his wife rescued the charred MSS. and published them in 1850 as Elementary Sketches of Moral Philosophy.

With the brilliant reputation that Sydney Smith had acquired in the course of a few seasons in London, he would probably have obtained some good preferment had he been on the powerful side in politics. Sydney Smith's elder brother "Bobus" had married Caroline Vernon, aunt of the 3rd Lord Holland, and he was always a welcome visitor at Holland House. His Whig friends came into office for a short time in 1806, and presented him with the living of Foston-le-Clay in Yorkshire. He shrank from this banishment for a time, and discharged his parish duties through a curate; but Spencer Perceval's Residence Act was

  1. Judex damnatur cum nocens absolvitur.