Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Sussex Diarists.                      53
the first " principal inhabitant " who subscribed to Gale's appointment, John Kent, not being able to write, made his mark! The qualifications for the office were, to possess "a genius for teaching," write a good hand, and understand arithmetic well; in addition to which he was "to be particularly careful of the manners and behaviour of the poor children (it was a free school') committed to his care."
How far Walter Gale acquitted himself of these duties we shall have an opportunity of judging by-and-bye. The school must have been a poor place; for its master soon had occasion to noteó" I found the greatest part of the school in a flow, by reason of the snow and rain coming through the leads." The scholars were 21 in number, " the third part of which are supposed to be writers " (that is, taught to write).
Walter Gale commemorated his appointment to his office by the commencement of a diary, one of the first uses (?) of which is to chronicle a dream to the effect "that I should be advantageously married and be blessed with a fine offspring, and that I should live to the age of 81, of which time I should preach the Gospel 41 years." There is no evidence in the succeeding entries that any of these prophetic intimations ever came to pass. But in this and other entries there are signs of the superstition of the times. One of Mr. Gale's earliest visitors at the school is " Mr. Hassel, the conjuror," and the worthy pair soon adjourn to Elliott's (the public-house, we presume) "where he (that is, the conjuror), treated me (the schoolmaster) with a quartern of gin, and I gave him a dinner at Coggin's Mill" (Mr. Gale's place of abode). " Having," he proceeds, " dined the conjuror, we returned to Elliott's, where he treated me as before."
" The conjuror," it seems, was at work on the map of a farm belonging to Col. Fuller, and Mr. R. W. Blencowe, who edits the diary, remarks, " The profession of a conjuror a hundred years ago was by no means uncommon, nor does it seem to have been thought a discreditable one. A person of the same name was in full practice as a cunning man in the
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