Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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Social Changes in Sussex.                  289
to be intended for the people and the public, but rather the by-ways of individuals, or more truly the tracks of cattle-drivers ; for everywhere the usual footmarks of oxen appeared, and we, too, who were on horseback, going on zigzag almost like oxen at plough, advanced as if we were turning back, while we followed out all the twists of the roads. Not even now, though in summer time, is the wintry state of the roads got rid of; for the wet, retained even till now in this mud, is sometimes splashed upwards all of a sudden to the annoyance of travellers. Our horses could not keep on their legs on account of these slippery and rough parts of the roads, but sliding and tumbling on their way, and almost on their haunches, with all their haste got on but slowly."
At the time this was written Horsham was the metropolis of the Weald, and is described as " ancient and populous;" the Assizes being held there, and salesmen from London resorting thither "to buy with ready money so many thousand of the chicken race."
Travelling thence through the forest of St. Leonard's, "we fell again," says the Doctor, "upon the especially impassable Sussex roads." "The surface of the earth deceived and impeded us in our advance, for, although apparently dry and looking firm, yet it entrapped us, so we went on, into tumbles and much muddiness, so that the day was already fading away when we arrived at the long-desired dwelling" (the Rectory House, Shermanbury).
We cannot omit Dr. Burton's description of the natives of Sussex at this period (1751), for it is obvious that he looked upon their manners as smacking of their soil. "The men there, as not being accustomed to quit their homes for the sake of traffic, or any other purpose, generally live by themselves, and, being born on the soil, continue unrefined. Nor does it seem at all strange, if mixed up with so much mud, some sordidness should also stain in some degree the frame of their minds. Their manners, therefore, are not the most gentlemanlike or agreeble, but neither are they quite V
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