Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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160               Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
thousands of men, his inferiors in many things, who "got on," and lived, they and theirs, after a fashion. The only difference was, that they belonged to the age in which they lived—had a place in the "great scheme," higher or lower, perhaps very low and very unpleasant, but still a place, which they could hold against the world, and which the world could not or did not wish to deprive Ihem of, for it was of use to it. He did and could not make such a place, not for one—for himself— much less for two or three, dependent on him. He should— so an old naturalist friend of his comically put it—have done what the insects did which he somewhat resembled in his light-hearted, erratic, day-for-day kind of life: he should have spun a cocoon, beneath a pleasant shady tree, and gone to sleep, to wake up again in a brighter world than this old working-day one of our's has become. As to doing as other men did—taking unto himself a wife—hoping to continue such a race as his—to take his place in the ranks of daily plodders, and to provide for the growing wants of the morrow, it was absurd to think of such a thing. Osmond had never known what to-morrow was in its true sense—in its beef-and-mutton aspect—only in its promise of fruit and flowers, play and pleasure. The responsibilities of the future had never been realities to him—only to this extent: would the wind be in the right quarter for the trout to rise? or would the sky be cloudy enough for the harriers to run? or would the ice bear on Falmer Pond? or would the snow prevent his going to Mrs. Such-an-one's ball? These were the contingencies which chequered Osmond's future—which made it bright or gloomy —gay or sad. It was the simple unreflecting life of a primitive age and race, drawing all its joys and griefs from the surface. Of the complex, artificial life that makes up Society of the 19th century—of its numerous demands and necessities—its checks and safeguards—its provisions and sacrifices, he knew little or nothing. He had never cared much for himself—his wants had been few and inexpensive. He would do anything to give pleasure to others, and there he had not been unsuccessful. But to take up that position in Society which Society expects
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