Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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this book was printed : one who knew her footpaths and spinneys, her hills and farms, as a scholar knows his library. John Home of Brighton was his name: a tall, powerful man even in his old age—he was above eighty at his death—with a wise, shrewd head stored with old Sussex memories: hunting triumphs; the savour of long, solitary shooting days accom­panied by a muzzle-loader and single dog —such days as Knox describes in Chapter V; historic cricket matches j stories of the Sussex oddities, the long-headed country lawyers, the Quaker autocrats, the wild farmers, the eccentric squires; characters of favourite horses and dogs (such was the mobility of his countenance and his instinct for drama that he could bring before you visibly any animal he described); early rail­way days (he had ridden in the first train that ran between Brighton and Southwick); fierce struggles over rights-of way; reminiscences of old Brighton before a hundredth part of its present streets were made; and all the other body of curious lore for which one must go to those whose minds dwell much in the past. Coming of Quaker stock, as he did, his memory was good and wTell-ordered, and his observation quick and sound. What he saw he saw, and he had the unusual gift of vivid precise narrative and a choice of words that a literary man should envy.
A favourite topic of conversation between us was the best foot route between two given points—such as Steyning and Worthing, for example, or Lewes and Shoreham. Seated in his little room, with its half-a-dozen sporting prints on the wall and a scene or two of old Brighton, he would, with infinite detail, removing all possibility of mistake, describe the itinerary, weighing the merits of alternative paths with profound solem­nity, and proving the wisdom of every departure from the more obvious track. Were Sussex obliterated by a tidal wave, and were a new county to be constructed on the old lines, John Home could have done it.
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