In 1848-54 he edited the Salisbury and Winchester Journal, and in 1852 at Salisbury organized one of the first provincial exhibitions of art and industry in England.In 1854 Smith migrated to Melbourne where he joined the Age as leader-writer and dramatic critic.He displayed only a limited understanding of stage tradition, theatrical trends and the intellectual issues raised by works of legitimate drama. Horne he was a combatant in the great 'Hamlet controversy' of 1867; their letters to the Argus were collected and published in Melbourne as The Hamlet Controversy. …Converted to spiritualism in the 1870s he became one of its major propagandists and controversialists and some of his contemporaries lost confidence in his judgment.He was susceptible to the personal blandishments of visiting actors, and could be more than 'a little blind' to their shortcomings on the stage. He corresponded with prominent European spiritualists and contributed numerous articles to the local journal, the Harbinger of Light.
On 2 October he began the short-lived satirical magazine Touchstone.However his proclamation of the imminent destruction of the world in 1873 was condemned as heresy both on rational and theological grounds by the Victorian Association of Progressive Spiritualists, and caused the defection of a number of believers.He reputedly attempted to educate his children by magnetically transmitting to their minds the wisdom of dead scholars and artists.James Smith (1820-1910), journalist, was born at Loose near Maidstone, Kent, England, son of James Smith, supervisor of inland revenue, and his wife Mary.Educated first for the Church he turned to journalism and at 20 became editor of the Hertfordshire Mercury and County Press.Like Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites he wanted art to stimulate the moral and spiritual faculties; he became, especially after the 9 x 5 Impression Exhibition of 1889, an outspoken opponent of impressionism.