Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Sussex Smugglers.
ITHIN little more than a century Sussex has seen two classes of smugglers flourish on her coast. The first were exporters of an English production— wool—which English legislators were foolish enough to try to keep at home under the idea of " protecting" the woollen manufacturers, and so there was a regular war along the southern coast (encouraged, it was asserted, by members of the higher classes who owned sheep-farms) between the smugglers of wool to France and Holland and the supervisors," surveyors," and "riders" who were appointed to prevent the exportation of wool. The second and later class of smugglers were importers of foreign goods—chiefly tea, spirits, tobacco, and silk—the duties on which were so enormous as almost to prohibit the use of them—indeed, some manufactured articles were prohibited altogether. If it had not been for the smuggler in the latter years of the last century and the beginning of the present century, a large proportion of the population of England would have had to go without a good many articles now looked upon as necessaries of life. The smuggler supplied the farmer with spirits, and the farmer's wife with tea. He supplied the fine lady with silk and lace, and the fine gentleman with Bandana handkerchiefs. Huskisson, who saw the folly of the system long before the days of Cobden and Bright, told the House of Commons once that the only way to put down smuggling was to take off duties; otherwise it would defeat all their
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