Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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96                 Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
And, of all spots so to see the shepherd in his primitive state, the Southdowns are the best.
" Shepherds," writes Richard Lower, of Chiddingly, Sussex (the father of Mark Antony Lower), in a paper on " Old Southdown Shepherds," " were famous for spinning long yarns; and if it chanced that two or three met together on some lofty brow, within sight of their respective flocks, stories of great length would surely be related. These, chiefly referring to their own calling, would beguile many hours, and sometimes concerned matters that happened ' fifty year agoo,' or very likely a ' hundud.' I once accidentally overheard two retired shepherds, who were sitting on a March morning under a sunny hedge, conversing in a somewhat disconsolate tone concerning the prosperity of bygone days. One was telling the other how he had known the time when, in a single year, from forty to fifty thousand sheep had been washed near the spot where they were sitting, and ' now,' he exclaimed,' there be none!' The ' wash ' had been removed to another locality and this seemed to him almost a national calamity. As to birding? he continued, in a still more doleful tone, ' birding is now all auver; why, I used to make quite a harvest of my birds—twelve pound a year or more I have made of my birds; and one year I made fourteen pounds eight shillings. We sent 'em ye see to Burthemson (Bright-helmstone—Brighton) and otherwhile we catched so many that the Burthemsoners coud'nt take 'em all, and I myself have sent some to Tunbridge Wells. That was the time o' dee, Old Boy, for shepherds.' For laziness the shepherd, in his every-day habits, had no equal. Wrapped up in his thick great-coat, impervious to rain, snow or hail, he would throw himself backwards into a hawth bush and snugly repose as on a bed of down for hours together. If a traveller, chancing to stray to the spot where he lay, enquired his road over those trackless, lonely hills, the shepherd, too lazy to rise to give the required information, would stretch out his leg, pointing with his foot, and say—' over dat yander hill—by de burg—
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