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Sydney Smith

1771-1845. English clergyman, writer, and wit. Educated at Winchester and Oxford, he was ordained in 1796. In 1802 he helped to found the Edinburgh Review and contributed to it for twenty-five years. Bigotry and tyranny, hypocrisy and cruelty were his particular targets. Particularly noteworthy were The Letters of Peter Plymley on Catholic emancipation. His own prejudices, however, led him to unjustified attacks on William Carey* and other early missionaries abroad as well as evangelicals at home whom he described as “fanatics . . . in one general conspiracy against common sense and rational orthodoxy Christianity.” A fine talker and wit, he was prevented from receiving a preferment by his outspoken views, except to a canonry first at Bristol and then at St. Paul's, London, which at least delivered him from his vicarage in the rural countryside which he loathed.

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