A SUSSEX ENTHUSIAST
Of his talk I found it impossible to tire, and I shall never cease to regret that circumstances latterly made visits to him very infrequent. Towards the end his faculties now and then were a little dimmed; but the occlusion carried compensation with it. To sit with an old man and, being mistaken by him for one's own grandfather, to be addressed as though half a century had rolled away, is an experience that I would not miss.
To the end John Home dressed as the country gentlemen of his young days had dressed; he might have stepped out of one of Aiken's pictures, for he possessed also the well nourished complexion, the full forehead, and the slight fringe of whiskers which distinguished Aiken's merry sportsmen. His business taking him deep into the county among the farms, he was always in walking trim, with an umbrella crooked over one arm, his other hand grasping the obtuse-angled handle of a ground-ash stick. These sticks, of which he had scores, he cut himself, his eye never losing its vigilance as he passed through a copse. Under the handle, about an inch from the end, he screwed a steel peg, so that the stick, when it was not required, might hang upon his arm ; while a long, stout pin, with a flat brass head, was also inserted, in case his pipe needed cleaning out. Thus furnished, with umbrella and stick, pipe and a sample of his merchandise, John Home, in his wide collar, his ample coat with vast pockets over the hips, his tight trousers, and his early-Victorian headgear, has been, these fifty years, a familiar figure in the Weald as he passed from farm to farm at a steady gait, his interested glances falling this way and that, noting every change (and perhaps a little resenting it, for he was of the old Tory school), and his genial salutation ready for all acquaintances. But he is now no more, and Sussex is the poorer, and the historian of Sussex poorer still. I believe he would have liked this book j but how he would have shaken
his wise head over its omissions !
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