Sir William Smith, 1803-1893

[Mentioned in Science and Health, p. 320]

The Dictionary of the Bible was Smith's greatest work. To it he brought thorough scholarship, liberal thought, and exhaustive research. For example, in the original edition, 14 pages are given to an article on Noah. The list of those he chose to be contributors is impressive and includes such names as Rev. Horatius Bonar and Sir George Grove, the musicologist. The latter gave all his leisure time to the undertaking for seven years, and to him alone were entrusted the final pages.

In his century Smith's works were known to almost every educated Englishman, for he compiled a Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, writing a large part of it himself. He also wrote "Student's Greece," compiled a Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, and a Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. He also inaugurated a student's series of short histories and produced a carefully annotated edition of Gibbon (8 vols.).

It was Smith's love of classical studies—he had early won first prizes in both Latin and Greek—that made him abandon first the study of theological subjects and later the study of law and become a professor of Latin and Greek. He also served as Classical Examiner in the University of London and was a member of the commission of copyright. For over a quarter of a century he was editor of the Quarterly Review. For his many contributions to classical and ecclesiastical learning he was given an honorary degree by Oxford and was knighted by Queen Victoria.

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Signs of the Times
August 13, 1955

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