Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Sussex Diarists.
29
vogue ; " Will and Jack went to Lewes to see a prize-fight between Harris and another." Horses and carts were "mired" in Sussex roads, and people died of the small-pox in a way which would gladden the hearts of modern anti-vaccina-tors ! " Crying lost goods in church " is a custom " more honoured in the breach than the observance." But there are some signs of civilization : " Mr. Lun, the dancing-master, began teaching at Kester's." Tea begins to be drunk with greater frequency, and the following entry—"Paid Norman 6d. for the reading of a book yesterday, and reed, a case to carry pen and ink and sand "—indicates that letters were not quite neglected. Indeed, this diary itself is a proof of this. But, at the same time, it proves the slight extent to which literature had penetrated to the middle classes at the begin­ning of the 18th century. In the diary of Thomas Turner, mercer, of East Hoathly, we shall find great advance in this respect. He was a reader of books and had a taste for their contents. To Thomas Marchant, as to the Stapleys, they appear to have been totally closed. The only books they were acquainted with, judging from their own records, were account books. Yes, one book is named by Thomas Marchant: it is a book entitled "Lex Testamentaria" (the law of Wills), which he received from Mr. Norman, and he couples the fact with another: "paid 20s. for a ribbon and slouch for Molly Balcombe! " We wonder if Mrs. Marchant was privy to this purchase !
In fact, the whole time and attention of the country gentry and farmers of that time were absorbed in res angusta domi, but which to them were a source of pleasure as well as of profit. It was a prosperous period ; but the leisure which prosperity produces had not yet begun to give that refinement and taste for luxuries which were to follow. The men eat, drank, fished, shot, hunted, bought and sold, raised stock, sowed and reaped, married and begot children; and these, with a little parish business, or a county election now and then, and an occasional bout of drinking, made up life—at
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