T may be questioned if any County can produce four greater names in English literature than those of John Fletcher, Thomas Otway, William Collins, and Percy Bysshe Sheliey. These are the Dii majores of Sussex. We have also many poets of the second and third class, not unknown to fame, but better known in their own day than they are now. Amongst these are Hayley, Hurdis, Charlotte Smith, Clio Rickman, George Frederick Richardson, Charles Crocker, and Charles Verral.
To the four great names that head our roll of Sussex Poets it would be impossible for any writer, short of the highest order, to do full justice. To make use of Fletcher's own magnificent language, in which he makes Caesar mourn over the murdered Pompey—
Nothing can cover their high fame but Heaven; No pyramids set off their memories, But the eternal substance of their greatness, To which we leave them.
But, before referring to these great poets, three of whom were dramatists (for Shelley is entitled to take rank with Shakspeare, Marlowe, Webster, Fletcher and Otway, by virtue of his " Cenci"), we ought not to forget that the precursor of all these sons of fame—the first Englishman who wrote a tragedy worthy to be so called—was a native of Sussex: Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst, afterwards Earl of Dorset. "The earliest tragedy," according to Hazlitt, in his lectures on the Elizabethan Dramatists, "that we have—that of Ferrex