2 Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
writers of fiction; these writers live in towns, and naturally describe what they see most of: that is, town manners. So, perhaps, ioo years hence, our descendants will wonder what kind of creature was the agricultural labourer, or even the farmer, or small country tradesman of these days. And, unless any of this class happen to have kept a diary, and this diary shall happen to have been preserved, the feeling of wonder will go unsatisfied!
But " sufficient for the day is the evil thereof." Let us make use of some of the material which other ages have provided for us, and endeavour to present, as much as possible in their own language, some of the moral and social features and characteristics of our forefathers to their successors of the present day, beginning with The Sussex Diarists.
The range of the Sussex Diaries is from 1655 to 1750. Previous to the earlier date, clerkly accomplishments were rare except in the higher spheres of life, and it is not in that sphere that diaries are to be found. The Duchess of Newcastle (who lived in the reign of the two Charles's) is an exception to the rule; but she was not a Sussex woman, nor were the Pastons (whose letters, written during the Wars of the Roses, may almost pass for diaries) a Sussex family. Would that they had been! Sussex had its men of letters in Andrew de la Borde, the original " Merry Andrew," and the author of that "merryconceit," the "Wise Men of Gotham," as also in Nicholas Culpepper, the author of the Herbal. But neither of these men was a diarist. They were, perhaps, too, occupied with other, and, as they thought, higher matters. Men who keep diaries would seem, according to our Sussex experience, to be " home-staying youths"—men with a certain amount of leisure, and whose minds are more active than their bodies ; not engaged in great affairs—for these engross the mind and lead it from smaller details, such as make up diaries, to the contemplation of greater results—but men in the middle ranks of life, to whom ordinary passing events, such as occur in all civilized communities, possess an interest,