Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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136               Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
its ranks like a Macedonian phalanx against such as attempt to make a way by force of genius into its Sacred Band!
So I do not know that the amount of human happiness will be much diminished by the loss of the self-educated man—of those who attempted to mount upwards, not by the national staircases, the Public Schools and the Universities, but by a kind of hand-over-hand process, as boys climb trees and sweeps get to the top of greasy poles! For, though the prize at the top of the pole may be carried off, it is seldom worth the pain and suffering which it costs—to the sweep or to the self-educated man!
At least, that is the conclusion I have come to from my knowledge of self-educated men in this town of Brighton. I have known some—who that has lived 60 years has not ? They used to be more or less numerous in every town in England, and were generally as much known for their eccentricities and misfortunes as for their talents; for, doubt­less, in the process of self-education, tares came up plentifully with the wheat; there is little time for weeding—it needs a very strong man to weed himself!—and so the penalty paid by the local genius—the poet, or the linguist, or the mathematician —was, too often, to be pointed out to strangers as a kind of lusus natures; in Sussex phrase, a "main clever kind of chap," but as much to be laughed at and pitied as admired or rewarded.
If I had to exemplify this class of men, as it existed in Brighton some 40 or 50 years ago, I should choose two men whose names are still familiar in some ears, and whose features are not quite forgotten, but whose works are passing more and more out of fame and use. I mean George Frederick Richardson and Samuel Simes: the former a native of Brighton ; the latter of Lewes.
I am not going to write their biographies, nor to draw a parallel between them, after the manner of Plutarch, but simply to illustrate my theory of self-educated men. In some respects they agreed, as in local position—for both sprang
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