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The life and correspondence of Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith - PDF ebook

Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith

Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith

Excerpt from the introduction:

The circumstance which led to my undertaking the following work was purely accidental and quite unexpected by me, as I never had an opportunity of becoming personally acquainted with the distinguished subject of the Memoir. In the early part of the present year, Mr. Bentley, the publisher, called upon me to propose that I should write the Life with a Selection from the Correspondence of Sir W. Sidney Smith, for which he conceived me to be well qualified. 

Mr. Bentley, it appeared, had purchased a vast mass of original autograph manuscripts and papers relating to this subject, and considering from the nature of the materials that a work of public interest might be produced from them, accordingly placed them in my hands. 

After a laborious examination of this mass of un-arranged papers, I discovered that there was scarcely sufficient available matter to carry out the proposed design. On mentioning this to my father, it occurred to him,. that Captain Septimius Arabin, R.N., was an old acquaintance, and the most intimate, sincere, and long-tried friend of Sir Sidney. Smith; that he was still living in Paris, and must necessarily be in possession of much valuable information regarding his late friend, and probably of many manuscript documents; and he resolved upon asking him the question. 

The application was immediately made and most kindly responded to. " The sight of your hand- writing (Captain Arabin says to my father), reminded me of old times; and it gives me the greatest pleasure to learn that your son undertakes the task of writing the memoirs of our old friend Sir Sidney Smith. I know of no one more likely to do justice to such a work, and I shall be most happy indeed if I can in any way contribute information or materials to aid his undertaking." To myself, he kindly writes, "I assure you that it gives me the greatest pleasure to contribute, in any way, to the materials which you already have, for compiling the life of Sir Sidney Smith. I wish much that the papers which he left had been in a less confused state than those I now send. Many of these papers are written by himself papers of all kinds, which Sir Sidney had put into a carton, entitled ' Papers for the History of my Life.' Some of those I have already sent, but you shall have all the others, and you can then make your selection." 

I never can be sufficiently thankful for the liberal and unbounded kindness of Captain Arabin, in the profuse supply of materials, leaving it to my discretion to make use of such as might with propriety be given to the world. He appears, indeed, to feel relief in placing the papers in my father's hands, for my use. In a letter to him, he says, " 

I know from long experience that no one, either in official or private life, felt more justly or more kindly towards Sir Sidney, or more fully appreciated his public services than you did, and poor Sir Sidney had always the same feeling of regard and esteem for you/' I say relief for Sir Sidney bequeaths by his Will to his nephew W. S. Smith, and Septimius Arabin, captains in His Majesty's navy, as joint property, all manuscripts, prints, and drawings, serving as materials "to compile and produce by their joint labors, the history of my life." Sir Sidney, on this occasion, did not reflect that a historian is not made by order, or by a legacy in a will, and instead of "joint labors.

Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith GCB GCTE KmstkSO FRS (21 June 1764 – 26 May 1840) was a British naval officer. Serving in the American and French revolutionary wars, he later rose to the rank of admiral. Napoleon Bonaparte, reminiscing later in his life, said of him: "That man made me miss my 
destiny" (Wikipedia)

Publisher London: R. Bentley

Author: Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith
Editor John Barrow
 Publication date: 1848

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