Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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146               Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
a wide range of literature—imaginative, historical, musical and theological. He was an inordinate reader, and his memory was a tenacious one, so that he could write and talk (and talk well, too) on nearly all subjects. And, like Dr. Johnson, he talked—perhaps wrote—too often for victory's sake, and not from conviction. I almost doubt if he had any settled convictions! He had had no grounding in know­ledge—had picked it up in snatches here and there, as birds do their food, and so it lay all higgledy-piggledy in his head, being handy for use in irregular guerilla warfare, such as is often carried on in newspapers; very formidable to the uneducated opponents whom he met in the " Free and Easies " where he reigned, a "Triton among the minnows;" often­times, too, very surprising and embarrassing to men more highly and regularly educated than himself, but whose reading had not been so wide, and whose intellect was not so robust as Simes's. But still he was imperfectly educated, and never, like Richardson, found the corner-stone on which he could build up the multifarious materials he had collected into one harmonious whole. For, of that gift of studying and acquiring languages which was Richardson's forte in early life, Simes had not a particle. He knew no language but English, and though he wrote that in a nervous, racy, fluent style, yet even there he occasionally tripped. He wanted some one to revise his " copy," thrown off as it was at a white heat. Nor was he a poet, though he could rhyme, and some of his political squibs, in verse, were excessively happy.
But it was in prose—strong, sterling English prose—which those who run could read, that Samuel Simes shone. He had read Cobbett's political works — his "Register," "Peter Porcupine," &c.—and studied Cobbett's grammar', as a young man; and they had not been thrown away on him. He had much imagination, too, though not of a high class, and he had a keen sense of humour. Some of his reports of meetings were masterly. He did not use shorthand—nobody did in that day, and reports were often the better for it—having more
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