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his life to the promotion of sanitary reform, when once it had become obvious to him that all effort to improve the condition of the people would be impossible until its principles were known and
EARLY LIFE, 1788-1820.
THOMAS SOUTHWOOD SMITH was born at Martock in Somersetshire in 1788, and was intended by his family to become a minister in the body of Calvinistic dissenters to which they belonged. He was educated with that view at the Baptist College in Bristol, where he went in 1802, being then fourteen years of age. A scholarship, entitled the “Broadmead Benefaction,” was granted to him, and he held it for nearly five years.
But in the course of his earnest reading on religious subjects he was led to conclusions opposed in many ways to the doctrines he would be expected to teach ; and when, in the autumn of 1807, from conscientious scruples, he felt bound to declare this to be the case, the benefaction was withdrawn. If we consider his youth and his limited means, it is clear that this avowal must have cost him no little anguish. He was at this time only eighteen. It was an early age at which to have been able to make up his mind on questions so momentous, to break away from early and dear traditions, and to face the displeasure of the Principal of the college, Dr Ryland, whom he ever revered. But honour demanded the sacrifice, and it was made.
In consequence his family cast him off at once and for ever.
During his college career, however, he had visited much at the house of Mr Read, a large manufacturer in Bristol, who was a man of noble character, and at that time one of the leading supporters of the college; and an attachment had sprung up between the young student and Mr Read's daughter Anne. This lady seems to have possessed both great personal beauty and much sweetness and strength of character; and though she in nowise changed her own religious opinions, she yet sympathised deeply with him in his earnest seeking after truth, and encouraged him to risk all-position, friends, everything-rather than act against his conscience.
Mr Read also upheld him through all his difficulties, and in the following year sanctioned their marriage, which brought with it some few very happy years. Two children were born-Caroline, my mother, and a year afterwards her sister Emily.2
His happiness was to be but of short duration, for in 1812 the young wife died, and left him alone, at the age of only twenty-four, with two little children. With what deep grief he mourned her death his early writings show, but he met it with a noble courage and an undiminished faith. The course he took was a strong one.
De. prived of the profession to which he had looked
forward, cut off from all intercourse with his family, and having lost the wife he so devotedly loved, he resolved — leaving his two children under the gentle care of their mother's relationsto apply himself to the study of medicine. Thus he entered as a student at the Edinburgh University in the year 1813.
i Caroline Southwood Smith, married, 1835, Mr James Hill.
Children of this marriage : Miranda Hill, Gertrude Hill
(Mrs Charles Lewes), Octavia Hill, Emily S. Hill (Mrs
C. E. Maurice), Florence Hill.
At first he lived quite alone; but finding it more than he could bear, he returned to England to fetch his eldest child, then four years old.
The father and child (my mother) went from Bristol to Edinburgh in a small sailing vessel, and encountered a terrible storm, which lasted many days. She tells me that she still remembers that storm of eighty-five years ago, the thick darkness, the war of the winds, the toss of the waves, the flash of the lightning illuminating her father's face; but, most of all, she remembers the feeling of the strong arm round her, giving the sense of safety.
His interest in religious matters at this period was greater than ever ; for the change in his opinions, in leading him to take a more loving view of the Divine nature, had increased his ardour for the truth, and his own personal sorrow had heightened his faith and made him wish to carry its comfort to others. As well, therefore, as pursuing his medical studies, he gathered round him in Edinburgh a little congregation for service every Sunday. The sermons preached by him then, seem to have an added depth of feeling when we know the circumstances in which they