BYGONE SUSSEX - online book

Essays, Sketches and Illustrations of bygone Sussex

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The landscape is steeped in a sense of quiet and repose. A long low-built joiner's shop is open to the view ; wood and tools are visible, but not even a solitary workman. Picturesque but lonely is the aspect of the village of Wilmington. To the right of the lane some steps lead up the slight eminence upon which the church is placed. In the green God's-acre lie the silent patriarchs of the village, their hands folded from labour, and their voices hushed and still. An enormous yew-tree stands at the east end of the church, and we rest for a while on the low benches beneath its ample shade. The church door, as is frequently the case in Sussex, is standing open, and we enter.* The restorer has been at work here as
* It is noteworthy that Horace Smith's poem " Why are they Shut ?" was composed while the author was sitting outside a country church, in Sussex, much regretting that, as it was week day, he could not gain admittance to the sacred edifice.
" Why are our churches shut with jealous care,
Bolted and barred against our bosom's yearning, Save for the few short hours of Sabbath prayer, With the bell's tolling statedly returning— Why are they shut ?
If with diurnal drudgeries o'erwrought,
Or sick of dissipation's dull vagaries, We wish to snatch one little space for thought,
Or holy respite in our sanctuaries— Why are they shut ?
What! shall the church, the house of prayer no more
Give tacit notice from its fastened portals, That for six days 'tis useless to adore,
Since God will hold no communings with mortals? Why are they shut ?
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