Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Sussex Diarists.
39
of which Mr. Porter," he says, " calls it innocent mirth, but I in opinion differ much therefrom."
The next day Mr. Thomas Turner was " at home—very piteous," and certainly deserving no pity. For, yet once more, on the following Friday, the orgies were renewed at his own house, and then, he adds, "all revelling for this season is over; and may I never more be discomposed with so much drink, or by the noise of an obstreperous multitude, but that I may calm my troubled mind and sooth my dis­turbed conscience."
A more striking illustration of the grossness of the manners of the age will scarcely be found—even in the pages of Fielding or Smollett. That the clergyman of the parish, and a man of learning, as Mr. Porter evidently was, should have joined in such scenes shows to what a low point " the cloth " had sunk, and that the Trullibers and Thwackams and Squareums of fiction were not mere " inventions of the enemy."
Thomas Turner did not take the same trouble as Samuel Pepys did to conceal what he wrote. He had not the same reasons for doing so, for he was not the servant of a jealous Government, nor did he live in a scandalous Court, which might not have been too well pleased to have its doings handed down to posterity. He wrote his diary in a fair legible hand, in some 116 "stout memorandum books," and the manuscript went down to his son and his grandson, by the latter of whom it has been given to the world. But in Turner's own life-time he must have kept it very close. His first wife, his " dear Peggy," we are certain never saw it, or it would scarcely have survived to the present day! He must have written it " on the sly," and it must have taken up a good deal of his time. Yet he had a large business to attend to. What were his motives, then, for keeping so voluminous a diary? Why did he chronicle with such minuteness his own doings and those of his neighbours—not always of the most creditable kind? Why did he so often enter such good resolutions, and alas! why did he so frequently have to
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