Advice from Rev Sydney Smith to Lady Georgiana Cavendish on how to respond to low spirits


Dear Lady Georgiana,

Nobody has suffered more from low spirits than I have done, so I feel for you.


1st: Live as well as you dare.

2nd: Go into the showerbath with a small quantity of water at a temperature low enough to give you a slight sensation of cold.


3rd: Read amusing books.

4th: Take short views of human life – not further than dinner or tea.


5th: Be as busy as you can.

6th: See as much as you can of those friends who like and respect you.


7th: And of those acquaintances who amuse you.

8th: Make no secret of low spirits to your friends, but talk of them freely – they are always worse for dignified concealment.


9th: Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you.

10th: Don’t expect too much from human life – a sorry business at the best.


11th: Compare your lot with that of other people.

12th: Avoid poetry, dramatic representations (except comedy), music, serious novels, melancholy, sentimental people, everything likely to excite feeling or emotion, not ending in active benevolence.


13th: Do good and endeavour to please everybody of every degree.

14th: Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue.


15th: Make the room where you commonly sit gay and pleasant.

16th: Struggle little by little against idleness.

17th: Don’t be too severe upon yourself, or underrate yourself, but do yourself justice.


18th: Keep good blazing fires.

19th: Be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion.

20th: Believe me, dear Lady Georgiana.


Very truly yours, Sydney Smith.

Feb. 16, 1820


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