The Sussex Diarists.
The indignation with which our East Hothly general-dealer looked upon any intrusion on his ground is shown by the following note, in which he refers to the first appearance in the parish of a licensed hawker:—
"July 6. This day came to Jones's a man with a cartload of milinery, mercery, linen-drapery, silver, &c, to keep a sale for two days, which must undoubtedly be some hurt to trade; for the novelty of the thing (and novelty is surely the predominant passion of the English nation, and of Sussex in particular) will catch the ignorant multitude, and perhaps not them only, but people of sense, who are not judges of goods and trade, as indeed very few are; but, however, as it is it must pass."
Novelty, the passion of Sussex in 1763! What would Thomas Turner say now?
We have said that the beginning and the middle of the last century was a time of prosperity, though gross in manners and low in morals. The state of crime shows it.—"Monday, Aug. 11, 1754. This day the Assizes at Lewes and only one prisoner." Thirty-two years later, after the American war, there was a different tale to tell. " I preached," writes the Rev. Mr. Poole, " before the Judge in the College Chapel at East Grinstead, the Church being in ruins. A very full Assize and heavy calendar. Twenty-six prisoners; nine condemned and six for execution." Possibly for what would now be treated as light offences; for the penal code was Draconic, and Jack Ketch flourished under it!
Before we take up the thread of Mr. Turner's domestic history we will note one or two points of interest to the archaeologist. In 1756 he attended a sale at Lewes, and the mode of auction was that the last bidder, whilst a candle burned, was the buyer. The candle was lighted before four o'clock and burned till eight; four hours being occupied in the disposal of property worth £420! Pepys notices the same custom. "Sept. 3, 1662. After dinner we went and sold the Weymouth, Success and Fellowship Hulkes, where it was pleasant to see how backward men are at first to bid; and yet, when the candle is going out, how they bawl and dispute afterwards who bid the most first. And here I observed one