Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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52                  Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
career was, that Thomas Turner began as a schoolmaster and ended as a trader, whereas Walter Gale, beginning as an Officer of Excise, ended as a schoolmaster. How he came to fail in the former capacity admits of very little doubt; he shared in the general failing of the age: an inordinate love of drink. He had been discharged from his office, and he was not so enamoured of the instruction of youth but that he was desirous to be replaced in it, and, in an application to a friend with that view, he states that " the many vicissitudes of fortune which I have experienced since my being discharged from the office [of Exciseman] would constitute a pretty good history."
Perhaps a pretty bad history would have been nearer the mark. There can be little doubt that, though Walter Gale was a clever man and could turn his hand, as his diary shows he did, to a good many things, he was not at all fitted, by his habits or inclinations, for the office of a schoolmaster. But that office stood at a very low ebb in the middle of the last century. It was a period of general neglect and carelessness so far as the education and morals of the lower—indeed, it might be said of the middle classes, were concerned. The old Grammar Schools and " Free Schools," so freely endowed in the first years of the Reformation, had been suffered to fall into decay, or, where they still flourished, it was owing, not to any general system of supervision, but to the accident of some efficient man having been appointed as schoolmaster, as, for instance, Dr. Bayley, at Midhurst, or John Grover, at Brighthelmstone.
It was not likely that a very efficient man would be obtained at Mayfield (a parish at the north-eastern extremity of Sussex), where the salary was £16 a-year, until increased by the bequest of a house and garden which let for £18 a-year. No man could support a wife or bring up a family on such a miserable stipend as this; but this difficulty was got over at Mayfield by the election of a single man. The election lay with the Vicar and principal inhabitants of the place, and
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