Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Southdown Shepherd.
F any class of men in Sussex have escaped the touch and changes of time it is surely the shepherd of the Southdowns. Not only is his occupation one that does not change, and does not admit of change, or of very little change, but the spot where he pursues it remains necessarily the same. Ages go by, fashions come and go, and revolutions sweep over him, and he takes no note or heed of them; and they have no word or work for him. No matter who is master in the land, king, or lords, or people, they do not want and yet cannot do without the shepherd. The sheep must be tended on the hills, and the man who does it is equally respected and disregarded by all parties. He is part of the flock. He does not constitute a class; his numbers are too few for that; he is but a unit in the great total of humanity. He stands apart out of the crowd—is an exceptional being, and retains his place and his characteristics—his peace and his solitude— when all around him is in a state of flux and mutation.
It would be a great mistake, however, to suppose that the shepherd of the Downs is like other shepherds, or rather, perhaps, we should say, that shepherds in other parts of the world, or even in our own England, are, or have been, like the shepherd of the Downs. The shepherds of the East, like Abraham and Laban and Jacob, were, as their descendants are to this day in the oases of Arabia, the chiefs of great tribes—often warriors and kings, sages and legislators, with
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