270 THE SUSSEX COAST
the poet and Oxford professor who attempted to vindicate his Alma Mater from Gibbon's unkindly criticisms. He was the author of the Village Curate—all about Bishopstone, his native place, to whose vicarage he was appointed in 1791. It contains the rather well-known passage—
"It wins my admiration To view the structure of that little work, A bird's nest. Mark it well, within, without; No tool had he that wrought, no knife to cut, No nail to fix, no bodkin to insert, No glue to join : his little beak was all ; And yet how neatly finished! What nice hand, With every implement and means of Art, And twenty years' apprenticeship to boot, Could make me such another? Fondly then We boast of excellence, whose noblest skill Instinctive genius foils."
Just over a single ridge of Downs from Seaford is the water-gap through which the Cuckmere, whose sources are largely in Heath-field Park, winds like a serpent to the sea. Here were the marshes that gave the river its name. The main road to Eastbourne crosses it at Exceat, hardly more than a farm, whose cattle pasture in the flat meadows by the river below. Half a mile away is the sequestered Down village of West Dean. The ruined manor-house, largely of worked flints, is overgrown with wallflower and other vegetation; the most interesting part is the round dove-cot, whose plinth and flat arched doorway have some ashlar that seems to be of the fifteenth century. The church has early Norman fragments, and the walls are of different periods; but existing details, particularly two sepulchral recesses of different kinds of stone and a trefoiled