Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

Home | Order | Support | About | Contact | Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

Another Burwash man posed his vicar more agreeably and humorously in another manner. Finding him a little in liquor the pastor would have warned him against the habit, but the man was too quick. How was it, he asked the vicar with well affected or real concern, that whenever he had had too much to drink he felt more religious than at any other time ?
The Burwash records indeed go far to redeem Sussex men from the epithet " silly," which is traditionally theirs. Con­cerning this old taunt, I like the rector's remarks in Idlehurst. The phrase, he says, " is better after all than ' canny owd Cum-merlan'' or calling ourselves ' free and enlightened citizens' or ' heirs to all the ages.' But suppose Sussex as silly as you like, the country wants a large preserve of fallow brains; you can't manure the intellect for close cropping. Isn't it Renan who attributes so much to solid Breton stupidity in his ancestors ? " I notice that Mr. H. G. Wells, in his very interesting book, Mankind in the Making, is in support of this suggestion. The Idlehurst rector, in contrasting Londoners with Sussex folk, continues: " The Londoner has all his strength in the front line: one can never tell what reserves the countryman may not deploy in his slow way." (Some old satirist of the county had it that the crest of the true Sussex peasant is a pig couchant, with the motto "I wunt be druv." I give this for what it is worth.)
It is to be doubted if any county has a monoply of silli­ness. The fault of Sussex people rather is to lack reserves, not of wisdom but of effort. You see this in cricket, where although the Sussex men have done some of the most brilliant things in the history of the game (even before the days of their Oriental ally), they have probably made a greater number of tame attempts to cope with difficulties than any other eleven. For the " staying of a rot " Sussex has had but few qualifications. The cricket test is not everything: but character tells there just as in any other employment. Burwash, however, must be exempted from this particular
Previous Contents Next