Page:Highways and Byways in Sussex.djvu/276

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248
CHAP.
"CLIO" RICKMAN

to have so much of the devil in him, kings might very beneficially be dispensed with."

I thought of that historic game of bowls as I watched four Lewes gentlemen playing this otherwise discreetest of games in the meadow by the castle gate on a fine September evening. Surely (after the historic Plymouth Hoe) a lawn in the shadow of a Norman castle is the ideal spot for this leisurely but exciting pastime. The four Lewes gentlemen played uncommonly well, with bowls of peculiar splendour in which a setting of silver glistened as they sped over the turf. After each game one little boy bearing a cloth wiped the bowls while another registered the score. And now I feel that no one can really be said to have seen Lewes unless he has watched the progress of such a game: it remains in my mind as intimate a part of the town and the town's spirit as the ruins of the Priory, or Keere Street, or the Castle itself.

The house of Tom Paine, just off the High Street, almost opposite the circular tower of St. Michael's, has a tablet commemorating its illustrious owner. It also has a very curious red carved demon which otherwise distinguishes it. Lewes was not always proud of Tom Paine; but Cuckfield went farther. In 1793, I learn from the Sussex Advertiser for that year, Cuckfield emphasised its loyalty to the constitution by singing "God save the King" in the streets and burning Paine in effigy.

Mention of Tom Paine naturally calls to mind his friend and biographer (and my thrice great uncle), Thomas "Clio" Rickman, the Citizen of the World, who was born at Lewes in 1760. Rickman began life as a Quaker, and therefore without his pagan middle name, which he first adopted as the signature to epigrams and scraps of verse in the local paper, and afterwards incorporated in his signature. Rickman's connection with Tom Paine and his own revolutionary habits were a source of distress to his Quaker relatives at Lewes, so much so that there is a story in the family of the Citizen being