44 Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
Though Mr. Turner was not quite at home in scientific terms this entry is creditable to him, and is a great advance on Mr. Marchant's admiration of the tricks of the " tumbler" at Hurst.
Mr. Turner also had his opinions in politics, and was not afraid to read the North Briton, nor to express his approval of its contents:—"July 13, 1763. In the even read several political papers called the North Briton, which are wrote by John Wilks, Esq., Member for Ailesbury, Bucks, for the writing of which he has been committed to the Tower and procured his release by a writ of Harbus Corpus. I really think they breathe forth such a spirit of liberty that it is an extreme good paper."
Well done, country trader of a hundred years ago! There is many a country trader in the present day who would hesitate to speak out so boldly as this! It may be doubted, indeed, whether the position of the country shopkeeper has not degenerated in the last hundred years, both in respect to the amount of trade done and the character of the men who carry it on. It is clear that Mr. Thomas Turner, general dealer, of East Hothly, was a man of some importance and standing. He and his wife associated, as we have seen, on equal terms with the clergyman and the clergyman's wife, and he was "hail fellow, well met" with the gentry and farmers. He carried on a very extensive trade, and it is recorded of his son and successor that he "turned over" £"50,000, and, in one or two years, as much as £70,000 a year: the profits upon which, we may be sure, were much larger than they would be at the present day. " It is," say the Editors of this diary, " certainly a fact that several county families in Sussex can, if they are so disposed, trace their pedigree up to the mercers of bye-gone times." We do not for a moment suppose that they are so disposed! Country mercers are not the men they were. A large part of their custom has been diverted to towns, now so numerous and accessible, and we question if the county families of the future will be much recruited from their ranks.