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Selected Poetry of Sydney Smith (1771-1845)


from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

  1. Answer to an Invitation to Dine at Fishmongers Hall
  2. Here Lies Poor Nick
  3. My Dear G.
  4. Recipe for a Salad


Notes on Life and Works

Born June 3, 1771, Sydney Smith was educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford, where he took a B.A. in 1792 and an M.A. in 1796. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1796 and became a curate in Nether Avon, near Amesbury. Moving to Edinburgh as a tutor, Smith published his first book of sermons and married Catharine Amelia Pybus. During this period he co-founded and edited the Edinburgh Review, to which he contributed much of his life. By 1803 the Smiths had gone to London, where he achieved a reputation as an outstandingly witty preacher at such places as Berkeley Chapel, Mayfair, the Foundling Hospital, and the Fitzroy Chapel. He lectured on moral philosophy at the Royal Institution from 1804 to 1806 and wrote his best-known work, Peter Plymley's Letters, on legalizing Roman Catholic worship. He served as priest at and lived near Foston-le-Clay, Yorkshire, in 1809, moved to Bristol to become a prebend in its cathedral in 1828, and three years later returned to London to take up a canonry at St Paul’s Cathedral. Besides his sermons and philosophic lectures, Smith's fame rests on his letters, and among them we find his occasional verse. He died at Green Street, London, on February 22, 1845, and interred at Kensal Green.

Biographical information

Given name: Sydney
Family name: Smith
Birth date: 3 June 1771
Death date: 22 February 1845
Pseudonym: Peter Plymley
Nationality: English
Family relations
          wife: Catharine Amelia Pybus (from 1800)
Education
          Winchester College: 1777 to 1782
          New College, Oxford (B.A.): 1789 to 1792
          New College, Oxford (M.A.): 1792 to 1794
Religion: Anglican
Occupations
          Journalist: 1801
          Preacher: 1804 to 1806
          Minister: 1806 to 1828
          Canon: 1828 to 1845
Residences
          56 Green Street, Grosvenor Square, London to 1845
          46 George St., Edinburgh: 1800 to 1803
          London: 1803 to 1809
          Foston-le-Clay, Yorkshire: 1809 to 1828
          Bristol: 1828 to 1831
          London: 1831 to 1845
Buried at: Kensal Green
First RPO edition: 2002