188 THE SUSSEX COAST
helms tone, part of the battery is washed away, and the water was so high there, that we heard it run in at the top of a chimney of a house that stood near the battery. At Shoreham, and further westward, many fields sown with grain are under water; in short the damage done is inconceivable."
No flattering impression of the town is conveyed in a letter to the Rev. William Unwin, written by Cowper on November 5, 1781. "You did not discern many signs of sobriety, or true wisdom, among the people of Brighthelmstone, but it is not possible to observe the manners of a multitude, of whatever rank, without learning something."
This plaint must be read with appropriate sorrow by good Brightonians, but in the very next year (1782) George, Prince of Wales, who was not what we should now consider strait-laced in his ideas, first visited the place, and so delighted was he that he decided to have a house there himself. This was the beginning of Brighton's real boom, and the fine statue of George IV. by Chantrey looking over the Steine at the sea is a grateful recognition of the fact on the part of the town. How the First Gentleman of Europe, first as Heir-Apparent, then as Prince Regent, and finally as the full-fledged Defender of the Faith, built and rebuilt the Pavilion, painted the town red and some one else's black horse white, how he married Mrs. Fitzherbert and made the poor old Duke of Norfolk drunk, how beautiful was his attire, and how Beau Brummel's was in no way inferior, how he entertained choice companies but little less disreputable than himself —all this is a thrice-told tale.* Even in Thackeray's
* It may be read in detail in J. G. Bishop's excellent The Brighton Pavilion,