Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][merged small]

USSEX, or, as the name denotes, the land of the

South Saxons, has seen changes as strange as

any of our counties. It is difficult to approach in idea to what it must have been eighteen centuries ago, when three parts of it were an impervious forest, inhabited by our painted, half-naked forefathers; when the sea-washed hills, which have long since become surrounded by dry land, and fields, now the glory of the husbandman, teemed with ocean-life ; and when many an acre, now covered by the waves, formed part of the English soil.

Whatever may be said of Professor Airy's opinion, that Cæsar twice landed on the shores of Sussex, History dimly sees Vespasian subjugating its savage tribes, making Regnum, the future Chichester, his headquarters ; and three great Roman roads, with their military stations, traversing the length and breadth of the district, whilst its high hills' bristled with earthworks and encampments.

Descending to Saxon times, we might tell how the county became an independent, though the smallest, kingdom of

the Heptarchy, and how it possessed a line of princes of its own, -of which Ælla, who landed here, as Hengist and Horsa did in Kent, may be accepted as the founder,-till it became merged by Ceadwalla in its powerful western neighbour Wessex, whose King Egbert united England under his consolidating rule. We might dwell on the great doubtful battle-field of Mercredesbourne, in which Ælla finally pushed the Britons eastwards, could we tell our readers where it was, or give them any more satisfactory information regarding its name than that it was probably at a rivulet between Eastbourne and Birling Gap, called after one Mercrede ; and we might dilate on the siege and storm of the strong old city Anderida, the site of which, although now fixed with all but certainty at Pevensey, has been claimed by no less than seven Sussex towns. Later, we may glance with more of historic confidence—though not even here without some admixture of legendary exaggeration-at Bishop Wilfrid, whose beauty arrested the arm of the executioner who had beheaded by his side Delfinus, Bishop of Lyons,-Wilfrid, now attacked by Sussex wreckers, and now avenging himself on the inhospitable pagans by converting them to Christianity; at good King Edilwalch too, and his wife Eaba, who granted seven hides of land at Selsey for an endowment of the first Sussex bishopric. Later still, we learn how Earl Godwin obtained the broad acres of Bosham, and how Harold made them his home, and died gloriously on the Battaile field ;' how William II. invested Pevensey; how the Empress Maud

was received at Arundel Castle by Adeliza the Queen Dowager ; how the great battle, in which Henry III. was completely defeated by his barons, was fought at Lewes, and by-and-by the inquisitions of rebels' were held ; and then, how the county grew more loyal, and royal progresses in it became rife ; how Henry VIII. was entertained at Michelgrove, Edward vi, at Petworth, Queen Elizabeth at Cowdray, and George I. at Stanstead; how badly it fared in the days of the Great Rebellion with many a loyal Sussex town and fortress ; and how, in our own day, Brighton has risen to prosperity under royal patronage.

The county is not without its great names in Church and State. In Sussex were bred or born John Peckham, Robert Winchelsey, Thomas Bradwardine, Thomas Arundell, and William Juxon. Of no other county can it be said, observed Fuller, that it has sent forth five Archbishops of Canterbury. To Sussex also we owe a divine who would have been, had he lived, a worthy leader of the English ChurchHugh James Rose, Principal of King's College, London, whose stout heart and wise head and eloquent tongue the Church has sorely missed during the struggles and difficulties and errors of recent years. Sir Edward Dalyngruge, the founder of Bodiam Castle, was present at Crecy and Poitiers, and was one of the most successful “knights adventurers' of his time. Thomas Sackville, Baron Buckhurst, the poet and diplomatist, was Lord High Treasurer, Sir J. Jeffery Chief Baron, and Sir William Pelham of

1 Born at Little Horsted, 1795, died 1838.

1

Laughton the Irish Chief Justice to Elizabeth. John Selden in himself is worth a host ; Edward Gibbon lies buried at Fletching, under a mausoleum erected by his friend Lord Sheffield; and the pious Leighton at Horsted Keynes. Shelley was born at Field Place. Sir Edward Sugden, now Lord St. Leonards, whose brief Chancellorship will not be readily forgotten, resided near the forest from which he takes his title. In Sussex also (says Lord Campbell) ex-Chancellor Erskine 'bought an estate, which turned out an unfortunate speculation, for it produced nothing but stunted birch-trees, and was found irreclaimable. Nor do the ten Protestants burnt at one fire at Lewes, and seventeen at other places, during the episcopacy of Bishop Christopherson-of whom Fuller quaintly observes, that though ' he had much of Christ in his name, he had none of Him in his nature'-less deserve a place among the worthies of the county. The three brothers Shirley, too, of Wiston, were famous in their generation, and their adventures the admiration of Christendom: Anthony, whom we find successively in opposite quarters of the globe-in Africa, Jamaica, Persia, and Russia, in Germany, and Morocco, ---and occupying a diplomatic position in every court in Europe; Robert, who strove to establish commercial relations with Persia, and whose fine portrait by Vandyke adorns the Petworth collection ; and Thomas, imprisoned at Constantinople, and in the Tower, then bankrupt and heart-broken, and selling Wiston to pay his creditors. In few counties, moreover, have the great places changed hands

seldomer. The Howards and the Sackvilles, the Fienneses, the Pelhams, and the Ashburnhams, the Percys and the Montagues, have been for many generations the lords of the soil, and inseparably identified with Arundel and Buckhurst, with Hurstmonceux, Stanmer, and Laughton, with Ashburnham, Petworth, and Cowdray.

"Sussex has never lacked faithful men of letters to do her honour. Among her antiquaries the palm must undoubtedly be awarded to Sir William Burrell. As we turn over those fifteen folio volumes of mss. which he bequeathed to the British Museum, we actually seem to have before us all the indentures, pedigrees, and manorial records which the county could ever have possessed. Mr, Dallaway, Mr. Cartwright, and Mr. Tierney have laboured skilfully in the same cause; Mr. Horsfield has written on the entire county; whilst Mr. Blaauw's and Mr. Lower's contributions on detached county subjects, but of more than local interest, are very profitable reading : we know of nothing more pleasantly told than the Battle of Hastings by the latter. The works which stand at the head of our article furnish still more recent evidence of the interest which Sussex topography and archæology excite. The “ Collections” of the Sussex Archæological Society now extend to thirteen goodly octavo volumes. They are among the best and most interesting works of the sort with which we are acquainted.'—Abridged from the Quarterly Review.

« PreviousContinue »