Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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xvii                             THACKERAY'S PRAISE                                  173
ing the sea. Not a joyful style of house within, but quite the contrary. Sad-coloured curtains, whose proportions were spare and lean, hid themselves despondently behind the windows. The tables and chairs were put away in rows, like figures in a sum ; fires were so rarely lighted in the rooms of ceremony, that they felt like wells, and a visitor represented the bucket; the dining-room seemed the last place in the world where any eating or drinking was likely to occur; there was no sound through all the house but the ticking of a great clock in the hall, which made itself audible in the very garrets ; and some­times a dull cooing of young gentlemen at their lessons, like the murmurings of an assemblage of melancholy pigeons."— Dr. Blimber's must have been, I think, somewhere in the neigh­bourhood of the Bedford Hotel.
Among other writers who have found Brighton good to work in I might name the authors of The Strange Adven­tures of a Phaeton and A System of Synthetic Philosophy. Mr. William Black was for many years a familiar figure on the Kemp Town parade, and Brighton plays a part in at least two of his charming tales—The Beautiful Wretch, and an early and very sprightly novel called Kilmeny. Brighton should be proud to think that Mr. Herbert Spencer chose her as a retreat in which to come to his conclusions; but I doubt if she is. Thackeray's affection is, however, cherished by the town, his historic praise of " merry cheerful Dr. Brighton " having a com­mercial value hardly to be over-estimated. Brighton in return gave Thackeray Lord Steyne's immortal name and served as a background for many of his scenes.
Although Brighton has still a fishing industry, the spectacle of its fishermen refraining from work is not an uncommon one. It was once the custom, I read, and perhaps still is, for these men, when casting their nets for mackerel or herring, to stand with bare heads repeating in unison these words: " There they goes then. God Almighty send us a blessing it is to be hoped." As each barrel (which is attachec] to every two
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