COBBETT LOOKS AT THE SQUIRE 15
stand beside White's Natural History of Selbome. In Sussex, as elsewhere, the fowler has prevailed, and although rare birds are still occasionally to be seen, they now visit the country only by accident, and leave it as soon as may be, thankful to have a whole skin. Guns were active enough in Knox's time, but to read his book to-day is to be translated to a new land. From time to time I shall borrow from Mr. Knox's pages : here I may quote a short passage which refers at once to his home and to his attitude to those creatures whom he loved to study and studied to love :—" I have the satisfaction of exercising the rites of hospitality towards a pair of barn owls, which have for some time taken up their quarters in one of the attic roofs of the ancient, ivy-covered house in which I reside. I delight in listening to the prolonged snoring of the young when I ascend the old oak stairs to the neighbourhood of their nursery, and in hearing the shriek of the parent birds on the calm summer nights as they pass to and fro near my window; for it assures me that they are still safe; and as I know that at least a qualified protection is afforded them elsewhere, and that even their archenemy the gamekeeper is beginning reluctantly, but gradually, to acquiesce in the general belief of their innocence and utility, I cannot help indulging the hope that this bird will eventually meet with that general encouragement and protection to which its eminent services so richly entitle it."
One more literary association : it was at Trotton that William Cobbett looked at the squire. "From Rogate we came on to Trotton, where a Mr. Twyford is the squire, and where there is a very fine and ancient church close by the squire's house. I saw the squire looking at some poor devils who were making ' wauste improvements, ma'am,' on the road which passes by the squire's door. He looked uncommonly hard at me. It was a scrutinising sort of look, mixed, as I thought, with a little surprise, if not of jealousy, as much as to say, ' I wonder who the devil you can be ?' My look at the