Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Old Sussex Tory.                    123
and even those below them, have broken through every shackle on freedom of movement imposed by " the wisdom of our ancestors," would be intolerable. But it was not so to our grandfathers. We are the creatures of habit, and it was as easy to them to stay at home—never to stir from the street in which they were born—for months, and even years together, as it is for us to rush about the country in railway carriages, or fly from land to land—not to say Continent to Continent— in steamers. My Uncle, then, as a model Tory tradesman— he was a bookseller—never went from home for years together in the early days of his life except on duly-announced matters of business. His city was his world, and everything was measured by it. It was an old cathedral city, ruled by the clergy, and hedged in by great aristocratic families: the per­fection of a Tory city; and Toryism grew up to perfection in it. Nothing was good that was not old; nothing respectable that was not sanctioned by the clergy; nothing to be admired that was not aristocratic. Age, the Church, the British Constitution (the latter being embodied in a Tory Govern­ment), these were the essentials of British liberty, prosperity, and orthodoxy, and they were summed up in one term: Toryism. It took in religion, morals, and manners—even literature.
I have said that my Uncle was a bookseller, and in that day a bookseller, and particularly in a city like Chichester, meant a man who understood books as well as sold them; for books were books in those days, whereas now they are merely so much printed paper. Let me explain. New books, whether in the shape of newly-written works or new editions of old authors, were the rare exceptions; old books were the staple of a bookseller's trade: good old authors, weighty in subject, and printed and bound in the same solid fashion as they were written in ; Hooker, Stillingfieet, Chillingworth, Barrow, Tillotson, and such like. Now, my Uncle Mason was thoroughly up in his business; he understood books, and especially books of Divinity—for which, of course, there was a large demand in a city like Chichester—as well
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