BYGONE SUSSEX - online book

Essays, Sketches and Illustrations of bygone Sussex

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acteristic Sussex scenery. To-day, with soft fleecy clouds floating here and there across the sky that overhangs the South Downs and the plains dotted with hamlets that stretch from them, it is such a landscape as Constable loved to paint.
With lingering steps we leave the churchyard, and, regaining the lane, are soon past the village. Then signs of life become visible, and we watch with lazy interest some men who are ploughing. To the left there is a cart track leading from the road to a chalk pit that comes into view. This brings us to the largest " man" in the United Kingdom.
For who within a parish church can stroll
Wrapt in its week-day stillness and vacation, Nor feel that in the very air his soul
Receives a sweet and hallowing lustration ? Why are they shut ?
The vacant pews, blank aisles, and empty choir,
All in a deep sepulchral silence shrouded, An awe more solemn and intense inspire,
Then when with Sabbath congregations crowded. Why are they shut?
The echoes of our footsteps, as we tread
On hollow graves, are spiritual voices ; And holding mental converse with the dead,
In holy reveries our soul rejoices. Why are they shut ?
If there be one—one only—who might share
This sanctifying week-day adoration, Were but our churches open to his prayer,
Why—I demand with earnest iteration— Why are they shut ?
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