Dr. Southwood Smith / A Retrospect
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It is now nearly forty years since the death of my grandfather, Dr Southwood Smith, and with this distance of time lying between him and us, it may not be uninteresting to this generation to look back upon the origin of some of the great social reforms which have now reached such wide proportions, and to see these reforms as gathered round the life of a man who was in the forefront of the noble army which promoted them.
He, one of the first to seize a truth, one of the most indomitable to persevere in the promulgation of it when perceived, went straight forward until it prevailed, and thus became instrumental in conferring some of the widest benefits which have come to us in this century.
From his great grief in early manhood he but emerged the stronger. The force of his condensed sorrow produced an energy which carried all before it, and resulted in the strength of his middle age and the serenity of his latter years. In order that such a life—crowned by its humility—might not pass away without some permanent record of its nobleness, the following memoir has been written.
I must apologise for the frequent allusion, in the midst of grave public questions, to my own recollections; but since all the early years of my life were passed at my grandfather's side, it has been difficult to avoid this.
Moreover, I have hoped that something picturesque and touching would be found in the relation of the strong man and little child, who worked together at various public causes, playing together in the bright intervals, and that something of the reverent enthusiasm he inspired in that child might pass, through her, to those who read these pages.