Percy Smythe, 8th Viscount Strangford
He was born in St Petersburg, Russia, the son of the 6th Viscount Strangford, the British Ambassador. During all his earlier years Percy Smythe was nearly blind, in consequence, it was believed, of his mother having suffered very great hardships on a journey up the Baltic Sea in wintry weather shortly before his birth. His education was begun at Harrow School, whence he went to Merton College, Oxford. He excelled as a linguist, and was nominated by the vice-chancellor of Oxford in 1845 a student-attache at Constantinople.
While at Constantinople, where he served under Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, Smythe gained a mastery not only of Turkish and its dialects, but of almost every form of modern Greek, from the language of the literati of Athens to the least Hellenized Romaic. He had already a large knowledge both of Persian and Arabic before going east, but until his duties led him to study the past, present and future of the sultan's empire he had given no attention to the tongues which he well described as those of the international rabble in and around the Balkan peninsula.
On succeeding his brother as Viscount Strangford in 1857 he continued to live in Constantinople, immersed in cultural studies. At length, however, he returned to England and wrote a good deal, sometimes in the Saturday Review, sometimes in the Quarterly Review, and much in the Pall Mall Gazette. A rather severe review in the first of these organs of the Egyptian Sepulchres and Syrian Shrines of Emily Anne Beaufort (1826–1887) led to a result not very usual, the marriage of the reviewer and the author.
One of the most interesting papers Lord Strangford ever wrote was the last chapter in his wife's book on the Eastern Shores of the Adriatic. That chapter was entitled "Chaos," and was the first of his writings which made him widely known amongst careful students of foreign politics. From that time forward everything that he wrote was watched with intense interest, and even when it was anonymous there was not the slightest difficulty in recognizing his style, for it was unlike any other.
Percy Smythe was president of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1861–64 and 1867–69.
On his death in 1869 his titles became extinct. A Selection from the Writings of Viscount Strangford on Political, Geographical and Social Subjects was edited by his widow and published in 1869. His Original Letters and Papers upon Philology and Kindred Subjects were also edited by Lady Strangford (1878).
The future national poet of Bulgaria, Ivan Vazov, eulogizes his name and deeds in several of his poems written in 1876, following the April uprising and the Turkish atrocities in Rumelia, including one dedicated to his wife, Lady Strangford.
- Obituary of Lord Strangford, Murchison, R. I. (1869). Address to the Royal Geographical Society. Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London, 13(4), 259-318.
- See Fonblanque, E.B. (1877). Lives of the Lords Strangford, with their Ancestors and Contemporaries through Ten Generations (1 ed.). London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin. pp. 247–294. Retrieved 13 December 2014. via Internet Archive
- Elizabeth Baigent, ‘Smythe , Emily Anne, Viscountess Strangford (bap. 1826, d. 1887)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 2 May 2015
- See Viscountess Strangford (1864). Eastern Shores of the Adriatic (1 ed.). London: Robert Bentley. Retrieved 10 December 2014. via Internet Archive
- See Viscountess Strangford, ed. (1869). A Selection from the Writings of Viscount Strangford on Political, Geographical and Social Subjects. I (1 ed.). London: Richard Bentley. Retrieved 9 April 2016. via Internet Archive. Viscountess Strangford, ed. (1869). A Selection from the Writings of Viscount Strangford on Political, Geographical and Social Subjects. II (1 ed.). London: Richard Bentley. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
- See Viscountess Strangford, ed. (1878). Original Letters and Papers of the late Viscount Strangford upon Philology and Kindred Subjects (1 ed.). London: Trübner. Retrieved 10 December 2014. via Internet Archive
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