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Essays, Sketches and Illustrations of bygone Sussex

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118
BYGONE SUSSEX.
MlDDLETON.
" Middleton," says Charlotte Smith, "is a village on the margin of the sea, in Sussex, containing only two or three houses. There were formerly several acres of ground between its small church and the sea, which now, by its continual encroachment, approaches within a few feet of this half-ruined and humble edifice. The wall, which once surrounded the church-yard, is entirely swept away, many of the graves broken up, and the remains of bodies interred washed into the sea; whence human bodies are found among the sand and shingles on the shore." This lonely church suggested to the Sussex poetess the following sonnet:
Press'd by the moon, mute arbitress of tides, While the loud equinox its power combines, The sea no more its swelling surge confines, But o'er the shrinking land sublimely rides.
The wild blast, rising from the western cave, Drives the huge billows from their heaving bed ; Tears from their grassy tombs the village dead, And breaks the silent sabbath of the grave !
With shells and sea-weed mingled, on the shore, Lo ! their bones whiten in the frequent wave; But vain to them the winds and water rave; They hear the warring elements no more :
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