Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Sussex Cottage-Wife.                 107
and as these latter were never idle, so were the former members never indulged in inactivity.
And yet their burthen was not very great. A body more spare than that of our Sussex cottage-wife is rarely to be met with—that is, in a sound healthy body, which,* as was her boast, had never known a day's illness since it could take care of itself. Take care of itself? No, that wont do. Little care of itself had that little spare body ever taken, but a great deal of other people. In the days of crinoline, it was a wonder, and also to us a delight, to look at that little active body, as straight as a poplar, and as curveless. " Lines of beauty," physically, there were none; but, morally, in the absence' of all thought of self, Mrs. Colly was a line of beauty from the top of her head to the soles of her feet. And at each extremity there was something to admire. Her hair— and she was above 70 when we first knew her—was raven-black, and there was plenty of it, too; her eyes matched with it, bright and quick, and with a kindly twinkle in them. If you could take your eyes off her's—and it was not easy—and give a glance at her feet, you saw that her boots, thick and leather-laced as they were, could bear the scrutiny. A tidy, busy little soul was Mrs. Colly—one whose whole life had been spent in keeping the wolf from the cottage door, and making good the adage that cleanliness is next to godliness. She had, of course, married young—all Sussex cottage-wives do marry young—and, equally of course, had had a large family of children, whom, to use her own expression, "she had brought up in the fear of God from a month up'ards." What they did in the month that preceded the "up'ards" we never could fathom. It was one of those mysteries of speech that went down to the grave with Mrs. Colly. But as to the after-months of the children's existence, there was no doubt about them. We knew all the children, sons and daughters, and they were all worthy of their mother, or nearly so. How she and her husband (a farm labourer) could have brought them up, as they did, and given them the learning they
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