Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

Home | Order | Support | About | Contact | Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

XII                           A SCHOOL OF CHAMPIONS                           115
turf and geraniums, is the ancient iron ring used in the bull-baiting which the inhabitants indulged in and loved until as recently as 1814. That the town is still disposed to entertain­ment, although of a quieter kind, its walls testify; for the hoardings are covered with the promise of circus or conjuror, minstrels or athletic sports, drama or lecture. In July, when I was there last, Horsham was anticipating a fete, in which a mock bull-fight and a battle of confetti were mere details; while it was actually in the throes of a fair. The booths filled an open space to the west of the town known as the Jew's Meadow, and among the attractions was Professor Adams with his "school of undefeated champions." The plural is in the grand manner, giving the lie to Cashel Byron's pathetic
It is a lonely thing to be a champion.
Avoiding Professor Adams, and walking due west, one comes after a couple of miles to Broadbridge Heath, where is Field Place, the birthplace of the greatest of Sussex poets, and perhaps the greatest of the county's sons—Percy Bysshe Shelley. The author of Adonais was born in a little bedroom with a south aspect on August 4, 1792. His father's mother, nee Michell, was the daughter of a late vicar of Horsham and member of an old Sussex family; another Horsham cleric, the Rev. Thomas Edwards, gave the boy his first lessons. Field Place is still very much what it was in Shelley's early days— the only days it was a home to him. It stands low, in a situa­tion darkened by the surrounding trees, a rambling house neither as old as one would wish for aesthetic reasons nor as new as comfort might dictate. There is no view. In the garden one may in fancy see again the little boy, like all poetic children, "deep in his unknown day's employ." Indeed, like all children, might be said, for is not every child a poet for a little while ? In the Life of Shelley by his cousin Thomas Medwin is printed the following letter to a friend at Horsham, written when he was nine, which I quote not for any particular
I 2
Previous Contents Next