Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Last of his Kind.                   157
of the Revels, or Jester, or what you will—with nothing particular to do— no particular department to overlook, but ready for anything or for nothing, as the occasion demanded, or didn't demand. But times are altered, and men of this kind are not needed now, even in " great houses," in which every officer has his function sharply mapped out—in the household, or in the office, or in the field. Only the head of the family—and not always he—is allowed to give a broad look-out over the expanse of life, and say whether he will work or play—walk or ride or drive—do much or little or nothing, and in what style he likes. Few heads of houses, perhaps, can do this now—they are tethered down too strictly to their duties. And so they have no need of anybody else to assist them in doing—well, I suppose I must say, in doing nothing!
The world into which poor Osmond was born—" an age too late"—persisted in regarding all that he did, much and various as it was, as nothing, or next to nothing—counting as nothing, and worth nothing in exchange for it. He was always active; and yet he had the reputation of being an idle man. He was always in request; and yet he was never wanted—in the way in which now-a-days men expect to be wanted—" for a consideration." He had plenty of services to give away, and was ready to give them, and people accepted them; but he had nothing to sell, or exchange, which people cared to pay or barter for. If they wanted to play, or to do anything that was unprofitable, Osmond was the first man to rise up in their thoughts. He had a profession —the shadow of a profession; but it never seemed to stand in his way, and so his friends never thought of it as an obstacle when they wanted him; and he seemed to think still less of it when he was wanted. He was deemed to be a kind of social flotsam and jetsam, carried by the tide of life here and there, and which any man or woman could pick up and turn to their use without cost to themselves. He was a " gentleman at large," without a groove to run in, but with a certain capacity for moving freely in every direction, as the
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