The Sussex Diarists.
was the Duke of Newcastle, the first and last of the House of Pelham who bore the title, and whose seat, Halland House, was situated at Laughton and was the scene of great festivities—in other words, of much dissipation, upon which Mr. Thomas Turner does not omit to pass some severe and just strictures, though, considering from whom they came, it is a little like the pot calling the kettle black! " Oh, how glad," he exclaims on one occasion, " am I that the hurry and confusion is over at Halland, for it quite puts me out of that regular way of life which I am so fond of; and not only so, but occasions me, by too great hurry of spirits, many times to commit such actions as is not agreeable to reason and religion!"
Cock-fighting was at this period one of the "national" sports. Ex. gr.:—"Was fought, this day, at Jones's, a main of cocks between the gentlemen of Hothly and Pevensey."
The grossness of manners that showed itself, in private life, in inordinate drinking and " romping " and the carrying home of each other's wives on their backs was, as might be expected, not without its public phase. Mr. Turner occasionally attended Vestry meetings and he does not speak of them in the most flattering terms. Thus, "after dinner I went down to Jones, to the Vestry. We had several warm arguments at our Vestry to-day and several vollies of execrable oaths oftentime redounded from almost all parts of the room. A most rude and shocking thing at publick meetings."
In the midst, however, of the hard drinking and swearing and coarse immorality of the day, indications occur in Mr. Turner's diary of the deeper current that was setting in. Literature entered largely into the delights of our East Hothly trader and science put in an occasional appearance, though as yet she was a wonder and a mystery. " There being at Jones's a person with an electrical machine my niece and I went to see it; and tho' I have seen it several years agoe, I think there is something in it agreeable and instructing, but at the same time very surprising. As to my own part, I am quite at a loss to form any idea of the phceinomina."