Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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28                 Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
At Danny, on one occasion, he, his wife and others " staid late and drank too much." On another occasion, at Mr. Whitpaine's, " staid late there and drank enough?' Again, at John Smith's, " stay'd late and drank too much." Nor was he very particular with whom he drank. A mountebank came to the town (Hurst), and Mr. Marchant records, " Mr. Scutt and I drank tea with the tumbler. Of his tricks (he modestly writes) I am no judge ; but he appears to me to play well on the fiddle."
Perhaps the trick of playing the fiddle was to Thomas Marchant (as, indeed, it was at a later date to Dr. Johnson) the most wonderful of all tricks ! The arrival of a mountebank was evidently an event at Hurst. In subsequent entries we are informed, " A mountebank man here the 2nd time. * * * I drank with him yesterday at the Swan." And, later on, "The mountebank in the town. A smock race in our field." Probably in honour of the mountebank! The visits of mountebanks are rare enough now ; but the visits of another sort of gentry have died out quite. " Mr. Russell, the non­juror, came there (to Mr. Dodson's, the Rector of Hurst) in the evening." Non-jurors were those clergymen of the Church of England who refused to take the oaths of allegiance to the new dynasty and denied the orthodoxy of the Bishops who recognised William and Mary as their Sovereigns.
Bleedings and shavings of the head are frequently recorded, and cyder is still brewed. Side by side with these old fashions, now extinct, are symptoms of new ones, which still flourish. Thus, in 1717, "Willy went to see a cricket match"—an early record of that now national game. In Whitsuntide of the same year " the new singers began to sing in the church," and Mr. Blencowe adds, in a note, that the then Bishop of Chichester granted a faculty at this time for a singing gallery at the west end of Hurst Church, where, doubtless, the " new singers" were located. "Carried flax" is a reference to a growth now seldom seen in Sussex. The Sussex iron mills were in full work; prize-fighting was in
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