Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Old Sussex Radical.                 113
Clio Rickman—for it is he of whom I write—was one of these latter. Of his early life I know nothing, except that he was a member of the old Sussex Quaker family of that name, which still survives, and, I believe, flourishes, in this county. He must have early left the communion of the Friends, taking with him, however, that spirit of resistance to undue authority and that contempt of forms which used to characterise the followers of George Fox. But with the narrower and more ascetic spirit of Quakerism he had no sympathy, and he showed it by assuming that classical name of Clio—the Muse of History—which most certainly his Quaker parents did not bestow upon him,* but by which he was always known to his friends in after-life. It was in his latter days that I knew him—and that was 50 years ago—when he stood out of society like some old rock that carries down to later ages the evidence of a pre-existing world. How well do I recollect the mingled feelings of awe and wonderment with which I first encountered the heavy brow and severe-looking eyes that frowned from beneath a low-crowned, broad-brimmed straw hat! with what astonishment I looked at his quaintly-cut blue coat, with enormous brass buttons and square lappets, from the pocket of one of which peeped the corner of a silk handkerchief, at which many generations of London thieves had pulled and tugged and never succeeded in extracting it; and for a very good reason: it was securely sewn with stout pack-thread into the inner lining! That handkerchief was for show and sport—it was the fashion of the day so to show the handkerchief—the fefiow-one was for use, a huge coloured cotton one, and it lay safely inside the low-crowned straw hat that covered that capacious brow. That hat itself was a prodigy in the hat-way. It was a feat for us youngsters (I am speaking of days when I was a boy) to lift it, or to try to lift it; for its weight was enormous, and was yearly increased by a pound of solid paint bestowed upon it. It was the whim of its wearer so to freshen it up. But he had another reason:
* His Christian name was Thomas.
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