In writing this Study of Sydney Smith, I have been working in a harvest-field where a succession of diligent gleaners had preceded me.
As soon as Sydney Smith died, his widow began to accumulate material for her husband's biography. She did not live to see the work accomplished, but she enjoined in her will that some record of his life should be written. The duty was undertaken by his daughter, Saba Lady Holland, who in 1855 published A Memoir of the Reverend Sydney Smith. To this memoir was subjoined a volume of extracts from his letters, compiled by his friend and admirer, Mrs. Austin.
For nearly thirty years Lady Holland Memoir and Mrs. Austin Selection of Letters together constituted the sole Biography of Sydney Smith, and they still remain of prime authority; but they are lamentably inaccurate in dates.
Lord Houghton's slight but vivid monograph was published in 1873. In 1884 Mr. Stuart Reid produced A Sketch of the Life and Times of Sydney Smith, in which he supplemented the earlier narrative with some traditions derived from friends then living, and "painted the figure of Sydney Smith against the background of his times." In 1898 the late Sir Leslie Stephen contributed an article on Sydney Smith to . . .