Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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126                            SUSSEX IRON WORKS                          chap.
is generally reputed the first Founder of them. Surely in­genuity may seem transposed, and to have crossed her hands, when about the same time a Souldier found out Printing ; and it is questionable which of the two Inventions hath done more good, or more harm. As for Guns, it cannot be denied, that though most behold them as Instruments of cruelty; partly, because subjecting valour to chance ; partly, because Guns give no quarter (which the Sword sometimes doth); yet it will appear that, since their invention, Victory hath not stood so long a Neuter, and hath been determined with the loss of fewer lives. Yet do I not believe what Souldiers commonly say, ' that he was cursed in his Mother s belly, who is kill'd ivith a Cannon] seeing many prime persons have been slain thereby."
Cannon were not, of course, the only articles which the old Sussex ironmasters contrived. The old railings around St. Paul's were cast in Sussex; and iron fire-backs were turned out in great numbers. These are still to be seen in a few of the older Sussex cottages in their original position. Most curiosity-dealers in the country have a few fire-backs on sale. Iron tombstones one meets with too in a few of the churches and churchyards in the iron district. There are several at Wadhurst, for example.
I have seen grass snakes in plenty in St. Leonard's Forest, and was once there with a botanist who, the day being fine, killed a particularly beautiful one ; but the Forest is no longer famous, as once it was, for really alarming reptiles. The year 1614 was the time. A rambler in the neighbourhood, in August of that year, ran the risk of meeting something worth running away from ; just as John Steel, Christopher Holder, and a widow woman did. Their story may be read in the Harleian Miscellany. True and Wonderful is the title of the narrative, A Discourse relating a strange and monstrous Serpent {or Dragon) lately discovered, and yet living, to the great Annoyance and divers Slaughters both of Men and Cattell, by his strong and violent Poyson: In Sussex, two Miles from
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