Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

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xvn                                     MARTHA GUNN                                      165
ceeded to edge her closer and closer to the great fire, pocket side nearest, and there he kept her until her sin had found her out and dress and butter were both ruined. Doubtless his Royal Highness made both good, for he had all the minor generosities.
An old book, quoted in Mr. Bishop's interesting volume A Peep into the Past, gives the following scrap of typical conversa­tion between Martha and a visitor :—" ' What, my old friend, Martha,' said I, ' still queen of the ocean, still industrious, and busy as ever; and how do you find yourself' ? ' Well and hearty, thank God, sir,' replied she, ' but rather hobbling. I don't bathe, because I a'nt so strong as I used to be, so I superintend on the beach, for I'm up before any of 'em; you may always find me and my pitcher at one exact spot, every morning by six o'clock.' ' You wear vastly well, my old friend, pray what age may you be ' ? ' Only eighty-eight, sir ; in fact, eighty-nine come next Christmas pudding; aye, and though I've lost my teeth I can mumble it with as good relish and hearty appetite as anybody.' 'I'm glad to hear it; Brighton would not look like itself without you, Martha,' said I. ' Oh, I don't know, it's like to do without me, some day,' answered she, ' but while I've health and life, I must be bustling amongst my old friends and benefactors; I think I ought to be proud, for I've as many bows from man, woman, and child, as the Prince hisself; aye, I do believe, the very dogs in the town know me.' ' And your son, how is he ' ? said I. ' Brave and charming; he lives in East Street; if your honour wants any prime pickled salmon, or oysters, there you have 'em.'"
On the Prince's birthday, and on the birthday of his royal brothers, Brighton went mad with excitement. Oxen were roasted whole, strong beer ran like water, and among the amusements single-wicket matches were played. One of the good deeds of the Prince was the making of a cricket ground. Before 1791, when the Prince's ground was laid out, matches had been played on the neighbouring hills, or on the Level.
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