Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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difficulties offered to the profession by the Government were difficulties that existed merely to be overcome. Perhaps fiscal reform may restore the old pastime.
The word smuggler arouses in the mind the figure of a bold and desperate mariner searching the coast for a signal that all is safe to land his cargo. But as a matter of fact the men who ran the greatest risks were not the marine smugglers at all, but the land smugglers who received the tubs on the shore and conveyed them to a hiding place preparatory to the journey to London, whither the major part was perilously taken. Such were the Alfriston smugglers. These were the men who fought the revenue officers and had the hair's-breadth escapes. These were the men whose houses were watched, whose every move­ment was suspected, who needed to be wily as the serpent and to know the country inch by inch.
Not that the sea smuggler ran no risks. On the contrary, he was continually in danger from revenue cutters and the coastguards' boats. Bloody fights in the Channel were by no means rare. He was also often in peril from the elements; his endurance was superb ; he had to be a sailor of genius, ready for every kind of emergency. But the land smuggler was more vulnerable than the sea smuggler, his rewards were smaller, and his operations were less simple. There is a vast difference between a dark night at sea and a dark night on land. Once the night fell the sea was the smuggler's own : he was invisible, inaudible. But the land was not less the revenue officer's : the land smuggler had to show his signal light, he had to roll casks over the beach, he had to carry them into security. His horse's hoofs could not be stilled as oars are muffled, his wheels bit noisily into the road, he was liable to be stopped at any turn. And he ran these risks from the coast right into London. I doubt if the land smuggler has had his due of praise. Sometimes the land smuggler had to be land smuggler and sea smuggler too, for many of the ships never troubled to make a landing at
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