Wednesday, November 21, 2012


No Relish for the Country

Sydney Smith (1771-1845), letter to Miss Georgiana Harcourt (1838):
The summer and the country, dear Georgiana, have no charms for me. I look forward anxiously to the return of bad weather, coal fires, and good society in a crowded city. I have no relish for the country; it is a kind of healthy grave. I am afraid you are not exempt from the delusions of flowers, green turf, and birds; they all afford slight gratification, but not worth an hour of rational conversation; and rational conversation in sufficient quantities is only to be had from the congregation of a million of people in one spot.
His letter to Lady Holland (January 3, 1841):
I do all I can to love the country, and endeavour to believe those poetical lies which I read in Rogers and others, on the subject; which said deviations from truth were, by Rogers, all written in St. James's-place.
His letter to Mrs. Meynell (December, 1841):
You may laugh, dear G., but, after all, the country is most dreadful! The real use of it is to find food for cities; but as for a residence of any man who is neither butcher nor baker, nor food grower in any of its branches, it is a dreadful waste of existence and abuse of life.
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