Sydney Smith, towards the close of his life, considered the changes which had passed over the country within his recollection, he said that he wondered how the young men of his time had managed to preserve even a decent appearance of cheerfulness. Sydney Smith died in 1845, just at the beginning of those deeper and wider changes of which he suspected nothing; for, though he was a clear-headed man in many ways, he was no prophet—he saw the actual and the present, but was unable to feel the action of the invisible and potent forces which were creating a future to him terrible and almost impossible. Had he possessed the prophetic spirit, he would have been another Jeremiah for the destruction of the old forms of society; the levelling up and the levelling down destined to take place would have been pain and grief intolerable to him.
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