Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Sussex Sheep-Shearer.
T0 some readers it may suggest itself that the shearer of sheep ought to have been associated with the shepherd—that it is one and the same set of men who tend the sheep and who shear them. But this would be to fall into a mistake. A shepherd may be, and, indeed, usually is a shearer, but the great majority of shearers are not shepherds; and whilst the character of the shepherd varies with the locality in which he carries on his work—and thus the shepherd of the hills may be a very different character from the shepherd of the plain or the mountain—the occupation of the sheep-shearer knows no such variation. It is pursued in every county and country pretty much under the same circumstances and conditions, and gives rise to no special character in those who pursue it. It is, indeed, so to say, only an accident of rural life; occupies a few days' labour, and then is not needed until another year. So, sheep-shearing is not a vocation—a settled calling; there is no body of men who get their living solely by it, as shepherds get their's. A shepherd is always to be seen where there are sheep; but enquire for a sheep-shearer in any but the sheep-shearing months, and the only reply you would get would be to be shown a man who can shear, but whose settled employment is of a very different kind. And yet it is not every man that can shear—only here and there one; and so the sheep-shearer stands out from the common herd of agricultural labourers: he is, for some few days of the year,
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