Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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90                 Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
the rounded backs of the ribbed chalk began to show them­selves, "dolphin-like," above the waves, and to which the sweet breath of the south is as much the parent as Zephyr and Aurora were, in their May sportings, to the spirit of Mirth.
On these Downs, then—these beautiful Southdowns of Sussex—must the first sheep that were brought from Spain by Carthaginians, or from Gaul by Celts or Romans, have been turned out to feed. And, allowing something for the difference of nationalities, we do not think the first guardian of them could have differed very much in garb or customs from those shepherds who now tend them. He must have had his toga—his warm great coat or mantle—to shelter him from the keen winds that sometimes blow eastward and northward over the Downs, and he must have had some kind of flopping head-gear—sombrero or cappello—to shade his eyes from the mid-day sun. And when he had these—Celt or Carthaginian, Roman or Saxon—he did not, probably, look so very unlike that figure that now meets our gaze on the Down side. Motionless, of course—the Down shepherd always is motionless, but erect, or just leaning on his crook, with his wallet at his side, and with his dog at his feet, looking up at him with that eager look, in expectation of a command, which sheep-dogs are born with. Not a young man—who ever saw a young shepherd ?—but of an age not easy to fix, nor with an expression of face easy to decipher. A blank, and yet not a blank; rather an unwritten page in which much may be read—an expression moulded by generations of men (for Down shepherds, as a rule, descend from father to son) who have looked daily on the same scene —and that mainly made up of three great elements—sky, and sea, and Down—and with the same object in view: to feed that flock of sheep and renew it from year to year. Objects, these, uninterfered with by the outer world, and with as little intermixture of those personal elements of love and hope and fear—of desire to rise or fear to fall—as it is possible for human life to go on with. For as to those
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