A Memoir Of The Reverend Sydney Smith By His Daughter Lady Holland "A Book In Breeches"

Saba Holland

"A Book In Breeches"

Context: A considerable part of Saba, Lady Holland's, biography of her father, the Reverend Sydney Smith, is devoted to quotations from his general conversation, in Combe Florey where he preached. Begun in 1843, the biography was not published until ten years after his death. Most of his quips and comments appear in unconnected paragraphs. One of the longest paragraphs reports his comment about Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800–1859). Many people have been called "a walking encyclopedia." Here is a more original description of a well-informed man, "like a book in breeches." Macaulay read widely and voraciously, and many have testified to his retentive memory.

Some one speaking of Macaulay: "Yes, I take great credit to myself; I always prophesied his greatness from the first moment I saw him, then a very young and unknown man, on the Northern Circuit. There are no limits to his knowledge, on small subjects as well as on great; he is like a book in breeches. . . . Yes, I agree, he is certainly more agreeable since his return from India. His enemies might perhaps have said before (though I never did so) that he talked rather too much; but now he has occasional flashes of silence that make his conversation perfectly delightful. . . ."