The Sussex Diarists. 3
and are not as yet so insignificant as to be utterly unworthy to be recorded. We are afraid that such is the case now; that diarists are an extinct class. They have been superseded by the newspaper. Of what use, it may now be asked, for individuals to chronicle events which it is the business of the journalist to send forth to the world with all the authority of official and verbatim reports? The notes of a Pepys or an Evelyn would now only be partial and incorrect copies of the Times or the Telegraph. No; the golden days of the English diarists are gone; they extend from the period of the Reformation, when the middle ranks began to read and write, up to the introduction of the newspaper.
All our Sussex diaries fall within that period, and they fill up a most important gap in social history. We are afraid the newspaper itself will not supply to coming ages that insight into domestic life and manners—that peep at personal peculiarities—at the little failings and the foibles of men—their peccadilloes and prejudices—which we get in the diaries of the Rev. Giles Moore, Rector of Horstead Keynes; Thomas Turner, general shopkeeper, of East Hothly; Anthony Stapley, Squire of Hickstead Place; Walter Gale, schoolmaster, of Mayfield; Leonard Gale, ironmaster, of Worth; Thomas Marchant, yeoman, of "Little Park," Hurst; Counsellor Timothy Burrell, of Cuckfield ; and Dr. Burton, of Oxford.
The names and avocations of the above list of Sussex Diarists bear out our statement that it is the middle classes that have been the largest contributors to this species of literature, and not so much the noble, or rich, or learned, who might be supposed to have most leisure for such occupation —not so much these as the ordinarily educated and intelligent man, interested in his own and his neighbours' affairs, and with business habits to which the keeping of a daily record might be a help as well as a diversion.
It is to be regretted that no female diary has been discovered, or published, in Sussex, which might give us a glimpse of the ladies' side of the question! In a description