Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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260                Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
and greater era, came to live side by side with the representative of a by-gone age and effete literature. It was like Nature coming to live on the threshold of Fashion. What they thought of one another we do not know; but they exchanged civilities; Blake even illustrated some of Hayley's poems, and when Blake got into some trouble by chastising the insolence of a disbanded soldier, who invaded his little garden at Felpham, and had to answer a charge of disloyalty before the Chichester Magistrates, Hayley stood his friend, and Blake was not sent to gaol as a sans culotte.
Hayley died at Felpham (where his house and Blake's humble cottage still stand in their integrity), and was buried at Eartham. The offices that he had so often performed for others were now performed for him; his epitaph (in Felpham Church) was written by his friend, Mrs. Opie, and his auto­biography was published in two quarto volumes by a Reverend friend. His name lives, and always will live, in the history of English literature, because it fills up a niche of time, like that of a roi fainiant in French history; but his works are entirely forgotten.
Charlotte Smith {nee Turner) is the only poetess of note Sussex can boast of.* And she was not Sussex born. She first saw the light in London (in 1749). But her family were Sussexian; the family seat was Bignor Park, near Arundel; and her grandfather filled the office of High Sheriff of Sussex in 1714. The chief part of her life, too, was passed in Sussex. She went to school at Chichester; her holidays were spent at Bignor; and when she married it was at Storrington and at Woolbeding that she chiefly lived and wrote. She was a contemporary and a friend of Hayley, and, like him, she was unhappy in her matrimonial life, separating from her husband, as Hayley had separated from both his wives. It seems,
• We refer to poetesses of the past. Our own days have been richer in this respect. Mrs. William Sawyer {nee Andrews) (and the wife of a gentleman, a native of Brighton, who has made a literary reputation in London, both for his poetry—" Ten Miles from Town," &c.—and for his prose) is only one instance of Sussex ladies, still living, who have wooed the Muses with success. [Since this note to the first edition Mrs. Sawyer has passed away, at a comparatively early age, and her poems have yet to be collected.]
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