Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Old Sussex Tory.                    121
was the Tory party. Never did any man give himself up more completely to his party, in a day when men did give themselves up to their party in a way they don't know now. It was his country—his religion—the pride and glory of his life. He would do anything for it. My Uncle was as moral and as kind-hearted a man as ever breathed. But when his party was in question—when there was a Tory to be returned for his native city, which was Chichester, or for his county— which was Sussex—he threw religion, morality, friendship, kind-heartedness to the winds with a fine disdain. He meant his party to win ; and that meant that he meant to stick at nothing which might make it win. He entered without scruple—nay, with a ready joy—into the most atrocious conspiracies against his fellow-citizens. He lured them away from the poll on the last day of polling by the most abominable devices—he locked them up in his own house until the poll was closed ; and he boasted of it afterwards (I have heard him do so!) as though he had performed the noblest, most patriotic, and most meritorious action in the world. How he escaped fine and imprisonment for this defiance of the law, I never could discover, except it was that everybody else in those days did the same thing, or admired those who did; or perhaps—and I think this is the better explanation of the two—there were, as our neighbours in France say when a man has murdered half-a-dozen people, extenuating circumstances in his favour which saved him from the penalties of the law. For, if there was a man in his own city who was respected and beloved, it was my Uncle Mason, not on account of his Toryism, but in spite of it. Everybody knew that he was a rank old Tory, and stuck at nothing to serve the Tory cause; but then, too, everybody knew that he was just as ready to serve anybody who needed assistance, whether he was Tory, Whig, or Radical. He was really a man who did not allow his left hand to know what his right hand did, for the latter was continually in his breeches' pocket in search of coin, which, certainly, when found, was not " made a note of." This, too, smacked of
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