Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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XXIX
THE CHURCH COMPLAISANT
275
where the road ran along by a sandy beach just above high-water mark. The stranger, who was a native of some inland town, and utterly unac­quainted with Cornwall and its ways, had reached the brink of the tide just as a " landing " was coming off. It was a scene not only to instruct a towns­man, but also to dazzle and surprise. At sea, just beyond the billows, lay the vessel, well moored with anchors at stem and stern. Between the ship and the shore boats, laden to the gunwale, passed to and fro. Crowds assembled on the beach to help the cargo ashore. On the one hand a boisterous group surrounded a keg with the head knocked in, for simplicity of access to the good cognac, into which they dipped whatsoever vessel came first to hand ; one man had filled his shoe. On the other side they fought and wrestled, cursed and swore. Horrified at what he saw, the stranger lost all self-command, and, oblivious of personal danger, he began to shout, "What a horrible sight! Have you no shame ? Is there no magistrate at hand ? Cannot any justice of the peace be found in this fearful country ? "
" No ; thanks be to God," answered a hoarse, gruff voice. " None within eight miles."
" Well, then," screamed the stranger, " is there no clergyman hereabout ? Does no minister of the parish live among you on this coast ? "
" Aye ! to be sure there is," said the same deep voice.
" Well, how far off does he live ? Where is he ? "
" That's he, sir, yonder, with the lanthorn." And sure enough there he stood, on a rock, and poured, with pastoral diligence, ' the light of other days' on a busy congregation.
The clergy, however, did not always know how useful they were. The Rev. Webster Whistler, of Hastings, records that he was awakened one night to receive a votive cask of brandy as his share of the spoil which, to his surprise, his church tower had been harbouring. A commoner method was to leave the gift—the tithe—silently on the doorstep. Revenue officers have perhaps been placated in the same way.
Smuggling, in the old use of the word, is no more. The sur­reptitious introduction into this country of German cigars, eau de Cologne, and Tauchnitz novels, does not merit the term. A revised tariff having removed the necessity for smuggling, the game is over; for that is the reason of the disappearance of the smuggler rather than any increased vigilance on the part of the coastguard. The records of smuggling show that the
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