290 Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
barbarous. In their persons not corpulent, but rather spare and thin-shanked ; in their diet generally frugal; and in their cookery, being neither dainty nor expensive, they care most for pork, which, indeed, they prepare skilfully, by steeping in brine."
To the Sussex ladies he was a little more lenient; but upon that head we have already quoted him. And now we come to the fons et origo of that often-repeated witticism which assigns to the stiffness of Sussex clay the length of Sussex legs:—"Come now, my friends," exclaims Dr. Burton, "I will set before you a sort of problem in Aristotle's fashion : Why is it that the oxen, the swine, the women, and all other animals, are so long-legged in Sussex ? May it be from the difficulty of pulling the feet out of so' much mud by the strength of the ankle that the muscles get stretched, as it were, and the bones lengthened ?"
The association of the fair sex with men and swine, "and all other animals," somewhat detracts from the merit of the learned traveller's preceding eulogy on Sussex women. But we must allow something for the manners and language of the times, and for a learned and unreclaimed bachelor! And then he does not spare himself; for, after compassionating the status of his step-father, the Rector of Shermanbury, "a man in slender circumstances, stuck and buried in that irresistible Sussex mud, in a poor spot," he exclaims, " How disgusted I immediately felt with myself when looking on him! How, in comparison of him, I despised myself, sleek and fat, with a well-fed body, like a pig from the reverend herd."
Verily, the clerical estimate of the Doctor was not a very high one!
So much for the Sussex roads in 1750.
At a still earlier date, in 1731, an Itinerary of the roads in England and Wales was edited by John Owen, gent., of the Inner Temple, and in the Sussex map, which he gives,