Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Sussex Diarists.                      31
to be social, a good man of business, but yet with a decided bent towards literature. In all these points Samuel Pepys, Secretary of the Admiralty, and Thomas Turner, grocer, draper, haberdasher, hatter, clothier, druggist, ironmonger, stationer, glover, undertaker—for Thomas Turner was all of these, cum multis aim—resemble each other and if one enjoys a world-wide fame and the other only a local reputation, it is owing, perhaps, to the Fate that placed them in such different spheres.
Still, in his own sphere, Thomas Turner is a man to be esteemed, and he has performed a work—namely, that of describing the life of a Sussex rural tradesman 100 years ago—for which he ought to be held in high regard by all students of social history in England.
He was'not a native of Sussex. He was born in 1728 at Groombridge, in Kent; but he claimed descent from an old Sussex family—the Turners of Tablehurst, at East Grinstead —and he must have settled in Sussex pretty early in life, for he begins his diary in 1754, at which time he was only 26 years of age. Where he was educated we are not told ; but he had evidently received an education above the average, and though, as was the failing of the times, his orthography was by no means perfect, he expresses himself with ease and force, and has a considerable command of language. In this, indeed, and in other respects, he is far above the Stapleys and Marchants, or even the Rev. Giles Moore. Take, as a sample, the sentence with which he opens his diary on Sunday, Feb. 8, 1754:—
" As I by experience find how much more conducive it is to my health as well as pleasantness and serenity to my mind, to live in a low, moderate rate of diet, and as I know I shall never be able to comply therewith in so strickt a manner as I should chuse, by the unstable and over-easyness of my temper, I think it therefore fit to draw up rules of proper Regimen, which I do in the manner and form following, which I hope I shall always have the strictest regard to follow, as I think they are not inconsistent with either religion or morality."
As is the wont of young men beginning life—young women, too, perhaps—Thomas Turner forms a number of
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