Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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Social Changes in Sussex.                  293
1 George 3, c. 42, which consolidated and amended the then existing Highway Acts, and by which time the iron-works of Sussex were nearly extinct.
It was, however, the introduction of turnpike-gates, by which tolls could be levied under private Acts of Parliament, that those roads so much needed in Sussex were supplied. These were chiefly passed between 1756 and 1780, and in a list of them given by Mr. G. Slade Butler in Topographica Sussexiana (Vol. 15 of S.A.C.) we find an Act for repairing and widening the road from Lewes to Brighthelmstone, and another from Brighthelmstone to the County Oak on Lovell Heath. -
Whilst, to people out of Sussex, the roads of that county were a reproach and an abomination—" Souseks full of dyrt and myre" was the description of it in a rhyme of the 8th Harry's time—by people in it they were regarded as a safe­guard and protection both from the rogues and cut-throats of the metropolis and the attacks of an invading enemy. There were, however, two sides to this question. If bad roads were obstacles to criminals and invaders, they also stood in the way of the opponents of these gentry, who, if they once got a footing in the country, were more difficult to be got rid of. Highwaymen and smugglers, less than 100 years ago, set the local authorities at defiance, and it was necessary to call out the militia to apprehend one of the former, and to besiege towns and to fill them with troops in order to check the latter. Speedy lines of inter-communica­tion are now looked upon, and with good reason, as one of the best safeguards of a country, both from internal and external foes, and it is the ill-doer who has most cause to curse the well-kept highway which ensures a rapid pursuit and the electric telegraph which cuts off escape. These may at times facilitate crime or aggression; but, if put to their right use, they are instruments in the hands of order and safety, and the better the roads of a country the easier it is to protect and defend it. In this respect, both as to highways and to
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