Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A moral weakness which I share and would be prepared to overlook

Quakers were being discussed. Sydney joined in:
'Though I am not generally considered an illiberal man, I must confess to one little weakness, one secret wish - I should like to roast a Quaker.'
'Good heavens, Mr Smith!' exclaimed a serious gentleman sitting nearby; 'roast a Quaker?'
'Yes, sir,' replied Sydney, with the utmost gravity; 'roast a Quaker.'
But do you not consider the terrible torture?'
'Yes, sir, I have considered everything. It may be wrong, as you say; the Quaker would undoubtedly suffer acutely; but everyone has his tastes, and mine would be to roast a Quaker. One would satisfy me, only one. I hope you will pardon my weakness, but it is one of those peculiarities I have striven against in vain.'         .

Stuart J. Reid, The Life and Times of the Rev. Sydney Smith (1884) (A N Wilson The Faber Book of Church and Clergy London 1993)

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