Landseer says that I was a good-looking chap twenty or thirty years ago, and he therefore asked me to sit to him, whereto I replied, `Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?'
The mot is universally given to Sydney Smith, but Edwin Landseer swears he never did, nor could have asked so ugly a fellow to sit, and thinks it unfair that I should have been robbed of my joke in favour of so wealthy a joke-smith. If it was mine, I had quite forgot the fact and adopted the general creed on the weighty point. If Landseer be correct, I fancy he must have thought of introducing me into his picture of Scott with his dogs in the Rhymer's Glen; but if so, I can't imagine why I did not accede to the flattering proposal. Here is a good illustration of the value of evidence, however. Pity the doubt was not raised before Sydney joined the majority, that we might have had his say also. What I object to is the allegation of his ugliness. I always admired his countenance as the most splendid combination of sense and sensuality.
From J. G. Lockhart, in a letter to Patrick Robertson, Lord Robertson, Scottish judge (circa 1850)
Andrew Lang, The Life and Letters of John Gibson Lockhart (1897), ii. 329-330.
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