Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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40                 Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
chronicle that he had broken them? There can be little doubt that Thomas Turner had a " tender conscience"—that he really did grieve when he drank too much, gambled away his money, and played the fool; and probably he had some idea that in recording his delinquencies he made some reparation for them and strengthened himself for better things. He was also, it is plain, of an open, social, communicative temper—in this resembling his great prototype, Pepys. He did not live in a great city or see much of life; but he got as much as he could out of the little rural community in which he did live. He was a lively actor in it and he was an acute observer. He was a good business man, too, in the habit of keeping accounts, and, from making entries of his business dealings, there was but a step to making entries of his personal affairs—his pleasures and his troubles—his discretions and his follies. It was a diversion from his more sedate occupations. There was, too, doubtless, a little smattering of vanity in it. He was the hero of the drama—at once the victor and the sufferer. If he sinned it was some consolation that he also inflicted the punishment; if he suffered (and as he had a Xantippe for his mother-in-law there is no doubt he did!) there was some solace in giving expression to it. If he failed, he could condole with himself. If he succeeded, did he not prolong the pleasure of success by setting it down in his diary ? And then there was, as we have said, a little vanity mixed up with it. It is not every man that can keep a diary of any kind; and Thomas Turner's was not an ordinary diary. He had some literary taste and ability and must have felt, as he made his entries, that he was doing what no other man in his parish—perhaps in the county—could do. He was, perhaps, prolonging the memory of his name to other ages—conferring on himself a species of immortality! We have reason to be thankful that he did it. The result is that we have a picture of rural manners in the last century which is worth a whole library of learned essays or sermons or fashionable novels, and that we can see here how Englishmen of the middle classes actually passed their lives in those small
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