Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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102               Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
those of his late companions. Yet year after year the members of these Companies meet together, make their accustomed round, and carry out their compact with much goodwill and harmony. It is one of the few remaining instances which modern life affords of such voluntary associations for a common end. In the Middle Ages they were, doubtless, more common. The Masons of those days went about in Companies from city to city, and parish to parish, raising those wonderful and beautiful fabrics which are the admiration and marvel of later days. Other " crafts­men " did the same, and to the present day in Germany it is a part of the education, or apprenticeship, of the youth who desires to be a skilled workman, or " meister," thus to travel from place to place for a certain period.
But we, too, are wandering from our subject—our shearers, who, indeed, are lost to us as soon as the shearing feast is over. They disperse and resume their ordinary occupations. Neither are these merry meetings so common as they were wont to be. There has been an attempt to revive the harvest-feast in another and, doubtless, improved form; but we are not aware that this has extended to the sheep-shearing feast. As a consequence, the shearers take home more money to their families. The amounts they earn are, indeed, pretty considerable, and to be a good shearer is not only honourable, but profitable. The best sheep-shearer is a man known in his district, as the best swordsman or bowman used to be in former days. Some few years ago prizes were contended for at County competitions, and in one special instance the shearers of East Sussex were pitted against those of West Sussex, in Goodwood Park, and were beaten. But this, too, is a practice that has passed away. So
The old order changeth, Yielding place to new.
But, let there be what changes there may, there will always
be shepherds and sheep-shearers in the land; they are two
of those primeval vocations which remain unchanged and
unchangeable in the midst of our changing civilization, and
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