Sussex archaeological collections/Volume 9/Extracts from the Journal of Walter Gale, Schoolmaster at Mayfield, 1750.

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Extracts from the Journal of Walter Gale, Schoolmaster at Mayfield (1750)
by Walter Gale
803283Extracts from the Journal of Walter Gale, Schoolmaster at Mayfield1750Walter Gale

Extracts from the Journal of Walter Gale, Schoolmaster at Mayfield, 1750.

Edited by R. W. Blencowe, Esq.

In two former volumes of our Archaeological work we were enabled to publish extracts from the journals of a country gentleman and a country clergyman, who lived in Sussex about the middle and latter part of the seventeenth century. These genuine records give us considerable insight into the social and moral character of the different classes to which they belonged. We are now enabled, through the kindness of Mr. Ross, the mayor of Hastings, to present to the public another record of the same nature, but of a later date by nearly a century, in the shape of the Diary of a Schoolmaster in a country parish, which carries our sphere of observation among a different and much more extensive class, and completes, as it were, the picture of Sussex manners and habits in the days that are past.

This diary was found by Mr. Ross, spread out in a garden at Hastings to be dried for the purpose of lighting fires. By him the papers were rescued from the flames, and kindly communicated to the Society.

On Friday, the 29th of June, 1750, there were assembled in parochial conclave, in the church of Mayfield, the vicar and six more of the principal inhabitants of the parish, the trustees and managers of a free-school recently founded and endowed there, and then and there did they proceed to appoint Walter Gale the schoolmaster, his qualifications being, as is recorded in one of the parish books, that he was a member of the Church of England, of known affection to the present establishment in church and state, understanding the grounds and principles of the Christian religion, of sober life and conversation, of a meek and humble behaviour, having a good government over himself and his passions, a frequenter of the holy communion, possessing a genius for teaching, writing a good hand, and understanding arithmetic well: amongst other duties he was to be particularly careful of the manners and behaviour of the poor children committed to his care. To these rules were subscribed the names of John Gorman, vicar; the mark of John Kent x, Edward Sawyer, Samuel Baker, John Diplock, Ansell Day, and John Russell.

There is something very interesting in the wise and careful way in which the duties of a schoolmaster are enforced in the rules of many of our old grammar-schools. "He shall be a man," say the statutes of the school of St. Mary Overy, passed in 1614, "of a wise, sociable, and loving disposition, not hasty or furious, nor of any ill example; he shall be wise, and of good experience to discern the nature of every child, to work upon the disposition for the greatest advantage, benefit, and comfort of the child, ever proposing to clear up and put life and spirit into the capacity and memory; love, patience, diligence, gentleness, and moderate desire of praise in the scholars." And Archbishop Harsnett, in founding his school at Chigwell, in Essex, 1629, says:—"I publish the true intentions of my heart, that I more affectionately desire that the poor scholars of my schools be nurtured and disciplined in good manners, than instructed in good arts; and therefore I charge my schoolmasters, as they will answer it to God and to good men, that they bring up their scholars in the fear of God and reverence to all men."

No such happy accident as that which caused the ample foundation of the schools at Wickwar, in Gloucestershire, in 1684, had ever occurred at Mayfield. No poor boy, apprenticed, as young Hosea was, to a weaver of that place, in carrying, according to custom on a certain day in the year, a dish called whitepot to the bakers, let it fall and broke it, and, fearing to face his mistress, ran away to London, where he prospered, and, remembering his native village, founded the schools there which bear his name. No William Jones was there, who, if the traditions of Monmouth be true, left that place to become a shopboy to a London merchant in the time of James I., and by his good conduct rose first to the counting-house, and then to a partnership in the concern; and, having realized a large fortune, came back in the disguise of a pauper, first to his native place, Newland, in Gloucestershire, from whence, having been ill received there, he betook himself to Monmouth, and meeting with kindness among his old friends, he bestowed £9000 in founding a free grammar-school.[1]

The salary of the Mayfield schoolmaster was only £16 a year, which was subsequently increased by the bequest of a house and garden, which let for £l8 a year. There were none of those perquisites, so common in old grammar schools, by which the scanty fortunes of the masters were increased, and the boys instructed in the humanities, as in the Middle School at Manchester, where the master provided the cocks for which he was liberally paid, and which were to be buried up to their necks to be shied at by the boys on Shrove Tuesday and at the feast of St. Nicholas, as at Wyke, near Ashford. No Mr. Graham had bequeathed a silver bell to Mayfield, as he had done to the school at Wreay, in 1661, to be fought for annually, when two of the boys, who had been chosen as captains, and who were followed by their partisans, distinguished by blue and red ribbons, marched in procession to the village green, where each produced his cocks; and when the fight was won, the bell was appended to the hat of the victor, to be transmitted from one successful captain to another.[2] There were no potation pence, when there were deep drinkings, sometimes for the benefit of the clerk of the parish, when it was called clerk's ale, and more often for the schoolmaster, and in the words of some old statutes, for "the solace of the neighbourhood:" potations which Agnes Mellers, a vowess, the widow of a wealthy bellfounder of Nottingham, endeavoured, in some degree, to restrain, when she founded the grammar-school in that town in 1513, by declaring, that the schoolmaster and usher of her school should not make or use any potations, cock-fightings, or drinkings, with his or their wives, hostess or hostesses, more than twice a year. There were no "delectations" for the scholars, such as the barring out of the schoolmaster, which Sir John Deane, who founded the grammarschool at Witton, near Northleach, to prevent all quarrels between the teacher and the taught, determined should take place only twice a year, a week before Christmas and Easter, "as the custom was in other great schools." No unhappy ram was provided by the butcher, as used to be the case at Eton in days long, by, to be pursued and knocked on the head by the boys, till on one occasion the poor animal, being sorely pressed, swam across the Thames, and, rushing into the market-place at Windsor followed by its persecutors, did such mischief, that this sport was stopped, and instead thereof it was hamstrung, after the speech on Election Saturday, and clubbed to death. None of these humanizing influences were at work at Mayfield: there was not even the customary charge of 5s. to each boy for rods-a painful tax to the scholar who needed their reforming influence, but still more so to him who was too good ever to require it.

No such rules as those in force at the free grammar-school of Cuckfield prevailed at Mayfield. They were not taught "on every working day one of the eight parts of reason, with the word according to the same, that is to say, Nomen with Amo, Pronomen with Amor, to be said by heart; nor, as being a modern and a thoroughly Protestant school, were they called upon before breakfast upon a Friday to listen to a little piece of the Pater Noster or Ave Maria, the Credo or the verses of the Mariners, or the Ten Commandments, or the Five Evils, or some other proper saying in Latin meet for babyes." Still less, as in the case of the grammar-school at Stockport, did any founder will "that some cunning priest, with all his scholars, should, on Wednesday and Friday of every week, come to the church to the grave where the bodies of his father and mother lay buried, and there say the psalm of De Profundis, after the Salisbury use and pray especially for his soul, and for the souls of his father and mother, and for all Christian souls." Neither did the trustees, that they might sow the seeds of ambition in the minds of the scholars, ordain, as was done at Tunbridge and at Lewisham, "that the best scholars and the best writers should wear some pretty garland on their beads, with silver pens well fastened thereunto, and thus walk to church and back again for at least a month:" a ceremony which in these days would infallibly secure for them all sorts of scoffings, and probably a broken head.

Walter Gale, the object of the choice at Mayfield, and the writer of the journal from which the following extracts are taken, was not such an one as Joseph Moxon, who, having acted as waiter at his father's inn at Market Bosworth, was placed by the patron of the school there at the head of it, despite of all his own earnest remonstrances and protestations of incompetency. On the contrary, he was a sort of universal genius: he could turn his hand to almost anything; and, in addition to his scholastic functions, he was a landmeasurer, a practical mathematician, an engraver of tombstones, a painter of public-house signs, a designer of ladies' needlework, and a maker of wills.

When the people of Chorley, in Lancashire, built their schoolhouse, they recorded this their resolution, that no schoolmaster or minister who might hereafter be, should, for "diverse great causes, inhabit therein;" the real "great cause" being, as was afterwards explained, that the wives, and children begotten in such habitation, might become chargeable to the parish. This difficulty, as far as Walter Gale was concerned, was obviated by the selection of a single man, who dwelt with his mother at a place called Coggin's Mill, near Mayfield. The school at first was held in a place partitioned off from the church. A schoolroom was afterwards built, which it is to be hoped, "all superfluity of too curious works of detayle and busie mouldings being layd apart, was edified of the most substantial stuffe of stone, lead, glass, and iron."[3]

Immediately upon his appointment, Master Gale began to keep a journal, and among his earliest notices we find the following account of a dream, which, as we shall see hereafter, was never realized:—

"Tuesday, 14th.—I dreamt last night that I should be advantageously married, and be blessed with a fine offspring, and that I should live to the age of 81, of which time I should preach the. gospel 41 years; this I conceived in my sleep was a prophetical dream, which GOD in His infinite mercy grant, together with ability to perform that holy function, becoming the state to which I thought I was wonderfully raised. Amen!"

The writer of the diary had been an officer of excise, and had been dismissed for reasons which may, upon further acquaintance with him, be easily guessed at, and, notwithstanding his high aspirations, was anxious to be restored to his former office. In a letter written some time after his appointment to a Mr. Price, requesting him to use his influence for that object, he gives the following account of his new situation. He says:—

"Dec., 1749.—The many vicissitudes of fortune which I have experienced since my being discharged from the office would constitute a pretty good history; so that, passing over these circumstances, I take the freedom to inform you that I am now at the head of a little free school at Mayfield, in this county, which is famous for being the repository of several notable relicks of antiquity, of which the principal one is a pair of tongs with which the inhabitants affirm, and many believe it, that St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury , who had his residence at a fine ancient dome in this town, pinched the devil by the nose when, in the form of a handsome maid, he tempted him. What made it more terrible to this sightly tempter was, that the tongs happened to be red hot, and it was one that St. Dunstan made use of at his forge, for it seems that the archbishop was a blacksmith as well as a saint."

"Sunday, 3rd Jan.—I came to Hothly and attended divine service, which was performed by the Rev. Richard Porter. Text, St.Matthew, 5th chap., 19th verse. The subject of his discourse kept very close to the sense and words of the text, and seemed to be but little less than a comment thereon, and tended to nothing more than to shew that those, who by their lives' example, precepts and commands should teach others to break the commandments of GOD, should be called the least in the kingdom of heaven, viz., be excluded for ever therefrom, it being a more heinous offence to corrupt others than to live loosely ourselves." The importance of attending to sermons and of taking down notes of the preacher's words was more thought of in the days of old than at present. In the rules of many an old grammar-school this duty and practice are strictly enjoined both on schoolmasters and scholars.

"15.—I posted a note for Verral, to desire him to send me to-morrow, Bishop Beveridge's Great Necessity and Advantage of Publique Prayers and Frequent Communion, and Burket's Poor Man's Help, which books are for Mr. Newington's son Zebulon, at Withernden.

"Wednesday, 6th.—Mr. Hassell the conjuror came to school, and brought with him a map which he had made of a farm belonging to Colonel Fuller. We went together at noon to Elliott's, where he treated me with a quartern of gin, and I gave him a dinner at Coggin's Mill. Having dined the conjuror, we returned to Elliot's, where he treated me as before. I wrote the title of his map, and at four o'clock we went to Beale's to the clubb; at six I went to the school and finished his map, and he, as a satisfaction, promised me a half-a-crown. At nine he returned to Heathfield, carrying with him my Little's Introduction to Astrology. He gave me directions to write to Mr. White of Rotherfield, to demand Raleigh's History of the World, which he had in his hands."

The profession of a conjuror a hundred years ago was by no means uncommon, nor does it seem to have been thought a discreditable one. A person of the same name was in full practice as a cunning man in the neighbourhood of Tunbridge Wells very recently. One of the best known of his craft was a man of the name of Saunders, of Heathfield, who died about fifty years ago. he was a respectable man, and at one time in easy circumstances; but he neglected all earthly concerns for astrological pursuits, and, it is said, died in a workhouse.

"11th.—Master Eastwood came to the school: he invited me to the Oak, and treated me with a mugg of fivepenny.

"14th.—I found the greatest part of the school in a flow, by reason of the snow and rain coming through the leads. The following extempore verse I set for a copy:—

'Abandon every evil thought,
For they to judgement will be brought.'

In passing, the Star I met with Mr. Eastwood; we went in and spent 2d. apiece. Fitness the miller was there, from whom I learnt that twenty drops of the spirits of hartshorn in half a quartern of gin, will drive an ague: be affirmed that it had driven his many a time.

"Dec. 1st.—Gathered some prime roses which for beauty and fragrancy came but little short of those gathered in April; it appeared that they might have been gathered a week sooner.

"Master Kent came to Coggin's Mill, and in computing the charitable contributions given to make an establishment for the school, we made out £371, besides many that are not applied for.

"19th.—I called at Mr. Goodman's to know how long he would have the boys be from school at Christmas. He considered that it was a bad time for business, and ordered them a fortnight now and three weeks at Bartholomew Tide.

"20th.—I went to Mr. Sawyer's with the key of the school, and stopt and smoaked a pipe of tobacco. One of his daughters said that she expected a change in the weather, as she had last night dreamt of a deceased person."[4]—This superstition still lingers in the Weald of Sussex.

"21st, St. Thomas Day.—I began to paint Turner's sign; went to church and attended prayers, which being finished, I went to the school where we were followed by Mr. R. Baker and his lady and Master Kent, who ordered Stephen Parker the sexton, who kept the doors, to let some of the dollers in, which being done, he distributed the cash, I taking the account of the receivers; we found the number to be 1O8."

This old custom of going a gooding on St. Thomas's Day is wearing out. It was very common in the south-eastern counties of England, and still prevails in the town of Lewes and some of the neighbouring parishes. It is confined to women, who formerly, in return for the alms which they received, used to present their benefactors with sprigs of evergreens, probably to deck their houses with at the ensuing festival.—(Brand's Popular Antiquities.)

"Returning, to Coggin's Mill, I found old Fitness there, who wanted me to go with him to witness a will which he had in his pocket, in which his uncle had given him all the moveables at the mill. It was drawn up in a foolish manner by Browne of Rye. The old man came and signed the will, the witnesses being Master Weston and his wife, both of whom signed with a +.

"22nd.—Fitness called at our house on his return. I endeavoured to persuade him to get his uncle to sign a new will, looking upon the other as good for nothing, which he promised to do.

"26th.—I began to draw the quilt belonging, to Mr. Godman.

"30th.—I finished the bed-quilt after five days' close application. It gave satisfaction, and I received 10s. 6d. for the drawing Mr. Godman did not say he thought it too much, but that 'was a pretty deal of money.

"As I returned home at 6 o'clock I observed the planets in this order:—

* Mars.
* Jupiter.
* Venus.
☽ Luna

"They made a fine appearance, and the sky being clear the whole celestial sphere appeared in perfect harmony.

"Jan. 1st., 1751—I was at the Rev. Richard Porter's, and continued there this day, and posted for him a translation from Longinus of Sappho, which he had anew translated into Sapphic verse, to the sound time and metre with the original Greek.

"2d.—I went to Hammond's, and drank- with him a bottle of beer and two drams. I invited him to the butcher's, and treated him with a mugg of beer. Master Dumbrell came in; we went to Gurrs, where he spent 1s., and I went home to bed.

"I was informed at Mast. Hammond's that Mast. Dumbrell, having been catched by Ditchers in his wife's chamber, was obliged to give a bond of £30 before be was permitted to leave the room.

"Wednesday, 3d.—I went to the butcher's, to call him to go to Chalvington, but he being drunk, the journey was deferred. I met with Mr. Vine and Mr. Price, who treated me with a quartern of brandy and a mugg of ale.

"4th.—I past accounts with Widow Cane, £1. 13s. 0d.; Mr. Thatcher, £l. 10s. 0d.; and Mr. Markwick, £1. 17s. 6d.: this money was in full for their tombstones; and I desired the favour of Mr. Goldsmith to employ me in painting, the Commandments, a thing they intend to have done in their church.

"Sunday, 7th.—Gave my attendance at divine service. Two o'clock, I went to the Star, at Heathfield, where I found the conjuror, and spent 3½d. with him.

"8th.—Began my school at noon. I waited on Miss Anne Baker, of whom I received a neckerchief to draw.

"10th.—Came to the church, Mr. Newington's boy, at Withernden, who brought me the unhappy tidings that my sister was very ill, and that I was desired to go there that day. I dismissed the scholars, and went to Withernden.

"I found my sister extremely indisposed, and unlikely to live. I was informed by my sister Stone that she had miscarried the Sunday before, and had had a very ill time of it. Mr. Harvey, Chancellor Jordan's curate at Burwash, had been there the night before, and had administered the sacrament to her. I stayed there that night, and, my sister being somewhat better, she ordered me to tell my mother to come to her.

"11th.—My cousin, John Vine, came to me, and brought with him Camden's Britannia and a parcel of Ephemerises; he was so good as to stay with me; we went to Mr. Moon's, and supped there, and spent the evening in very agreeable chat.

"Sunday.—I set out for Withernden. My sister was still extremely ill. I told them in discourse that on Thursday last, the town clock was heard to strike 3 in the afternoon twice, once before the chimes went, and a 2d time pretty nearly a ¼ of an hour after. There were present at the time in the school, Mr. Sawyer, Mastr. Kent, Cousin Vine, and myself, who all observed it. The strikes at the 2d striking seemed to sound very dull and mournfully; this, together with the crickets coming to the house at Laughton just at our coming away, I look upon to be sure presages of my sister's death. At 4 p.m. I was called up by my mother, who said that my sister, having took a composing draught, had lain down in an insensible condition, and she feared that she would never wake; at 7 I set out for Mayfield, when my sister, to our general griefs, seemed just expiring. Finished drawing Miss Anne's handkerchief, and carried it home to her, receiving ls. for my labour. Miss Patty, her sister, gave me a pair of shoes to draw in diamonds.

"Met with Mr. Roberts, who invited me in, and gave me a dram and a pint of mild.

"18th. Harry came with the unwelcome news of my sister's death, 11 p.m. I met Mr. Roberts, who invited me in and gave me a dram.

22nd.—I set out to attend my sister's funeral. Bands were supplied to every one of the near relations, and gloves to every one who attended, as also red and white wine. Next to the corpse followed my brother Newington and Joe, then my brother and sister Stone, then Mr. Joseph Newington and his wife, Dr. Newington and his wife, Mr. Benj. Newington and his wife, Mr. J. Newington and myself. There was a sermon preached on the occasion by the Rev. Mr. Hailley, The text was, 'Keep innocency, and take heed to the thing that is right,' &c. The sermon being ended, we conducted the corpse to the grave,[5] in the before-mentioned order. We being prodigiously cold, went to the Bear, and refreshed ourselves.

"26th.—I was informed by my mother that I had been called upon last night by a man from Hailsham. He proved to be Master Ley from Brighthelmstone: we went to Peerless, where he spent 5d. and I 9d. I put into his hands my best wigg to be buckled, which be said would come to 2s. 6d. I paid him a 1s. towards the work to be done to my wigg."

There seems to have been no such stipulation with Master Gale as that in force at the school at Lewisham, "that the schoolmaster should not follow vain and gaudy fashions of apparel, and wear long-curled or ruffin-like hair;" nor were the boys of Mayfield, as was the case there, forbidden to wear long-curled, frizzled, or powdered or ruffin-like hair, or to cut it in such sort or manner that both the beauty of their foreheads might be seen and that the hair should not grow longer than above one inch below the tips of their ears.

"Monday, 5th.—Being very wet in going to town, I went into Peerlesses to dry up, and spent 2d. Here was Satan, who affirmed that his father voided a worm out of his month upwards of 5 ells long. He said he would produce a woman in the town who would vouch for the truth of the assertion.

"Sunday, 11th. Feb.—Gave attendance at divine service, 4th chap. of St. John, 24th verse. He gave an historical account of our Saviour's conversation with the Samaritan woman; he then made an explanation of Jacob's ladder, and he found great fault with some of his auditors that they did not attend prayers on holydays.

"15th.- Master Kent and Mr. M. Baker came to the school. They discoursed with me of the number of scholars I would teach for £I6 per ann. Master Kent proposed 24, but after much debate the number was fixed at 21, the third part of which are supposed to be writers.

"27th.- This being Shrove-Tuesday, I went to Halland to the Nursery. This being, the day for the rearing of the sign, I found several people there, and I took my dinner with them.

"Wednesday, 28th.- It being extremely cold, I went to Peerless and bought a quartern of anniseed and borrowed a prayerbook to go to church: at noon I returned the book, and spent 21/2d. Went to Mr. Baker's, and did the drawing for Miss Anne's handkerchief, and took for my reward a pint of strong.

"Sunday, 4th.- I took the conjurors dividers to Heathfield, and I left them, the conjuror not being at home. Returned to Mayfield, accompanied part of the way by my Cousin Vine: we came to the conclusion, if the weather remained fine, about a journey to Bourn, and we agreed both of us to put off our schools in that day."

A singular specimen of a schoolmaster was his Cousin Vine, and one strongly tinctured with the superstitions of the times. He is said to have made it part of his duty to instruct his scholars principally on the power and malevolence of Satan. One of his pupils, who survived till within the last twenty years, used to relate how that he thought Satan Had his dwelling among the tombs in Heathfield Churchyard, and that he often expressed a wish that he would show himself in the daytime, thinking that Master Vine, with his forty scholars, would be able to drive him once and for ever out of the parish.

"9th.- I went to Heathfield and met with John Vine, who had neglected to put off his scholars, and raised some weak excuses against going.

"5th March.- Master Thos. Merchant, at Little London, came into the school to confer about painting, the Commandments at their church. I made the price two guineas, which he bad no objection to. I went to Heathfield, and went to the Star and met Master Starr there, who was drinking with an old soldier and Welch Bess, his odiously swearing trull.

"10th.- Being disappointed of my Bourn journey, I set out for Laughton after drinking a quartern of gin, and came to Whitesmiths, where was a hurley bolloo about Mr. Plummer's (now a custom-house officer) having seized a horse loaded with 3 anchors of brandy, which was carried off by him and two soldiers, and afterwards stabled at Parishe's; John Willard and Wm. Bran being there, followed and overtook them, and prevailed with them to go back. Parish took the seized horse and put it into Martin's stable."

Two years only before this occurred a special commission, at the head of which that great judge Sir Michael Forster presided, had been sent to Chichester to try seven smugglers for the murder of two custom-house officers under circumstances of atrocity too horrible to be related. They were convicted, and, with the exception of one who died the night before the execution, they were all executed and hanged in chains in different parts of Sussex. A company of foot guards and a troop of horse attended to prevent all chances of rescue, so thoroughly were the feelings of great numbers of the people enlisted on the side of the smugglers. Seven more were tried and convicted at the following assizes at East Grinstead for the barbarous murder of a poor fellow named Hawkins, who was suspected of giving information against them, and who was literally flogged to death, and for highway robbery. Six of them were executed. Most of them belonged to the celebrated Hawkhurst gang, who were the terror of the counties of Kent and Sussex. Three more were tried at the Old Bailey for joining with sixty others in breaking open the custom-house at Poole, and taking away a quantity of tobacco which had been seized and deposited there. They were executed at Tyburn. The place called Whitesmith was celebrated for its nest of smugglers long after this time. It has been stated, by a person who took the office of overseer of a neighbouring parish about forty years ago, that one of the outstanding debts of the previous year was due to ——— of Whitesmith, a well-known smuggler, for "two gallons of gin to be drunk at the vestry"!

There were places of deposit for the smuggled goods, most ingeniously contrived, in various parts of Sussex. Among others, it is said, was the manorial pound at Falmer, under which there was a cavern dug, which could hold 100 tubs of spirits; it was covered with planks, carefully strewed over with mould, and this remained undiscovered for years.

In the churchyard at Patcham there is an inscription on a monument, now nearly illegible, to this effect:—

Sacred to the Memory

of Daniel Scales, who was unfortunately shot, on Thursday Evening, Nov. 7th, 1796.

Alas! swift flew the fatal lead,
Which pierced through the young man's head.
He instant fell, resigned his breath,
And closed his languid eyes in death.
All you who do this stone draw near,
Oh! pray let fall the pitying tear.
From this sad instance may we all
Prepare to meet Jehovah's call.

The real story of his death is this. Daniel Scales was a desperate smuggler, and one night he, with many more, was coming from Brighton, heavily laden, when the excise officers and soldiers fell in with them. The smugglers fled in all directions; a riding-officer, as they were called, met this man, and called upon him to surrender his booty, which he refused to do. The officer, to use the words of the editor's informant, a very respectable man and neighbour, who in early life was much engaged in such transactions, knew that "he was too good a man for him, for they had tried it out before; so he shot Daniel through the head."

Sir John Deane, the founder of the Grammar School at Wilton, near Northleach, declares, in one of his statutes, "Because nothing that is perpetual is pleasant, I will that the schoolmaster shall have liberty, in every year, to absent himself for thirty days, to recreate himself." A sentiment in which Master Gale entirely concurred.

"Sunday, 18th.- I gave attendance at divine service morning and afternoon. Meeting, afterwards with Mr. Cates, he invited me home with him, with which I complied, and partook of an entertainment, which consisted of cherry brandy, elderberry wine, &c. I smoked two pipes of tobacco, and left his house soon after sunset.

"26th.- Mr. Rogers came to the school, and brought with him the four volumes of Pamela, for which I paed him 4s. 6d., and bespoke Duck's Poems for Mr. Kine, and a Caution to Swearers for myself. He wanted to borrow of me the three volumes of Philander and Silvia which I promised to lend him. I went to Mr. Baker's for the list of scholars, and found him alone in the smoaking-room; he ordered a pint of mild beer for me, an extraordinary thing. Left at Mr. Rogers' the three volumes of Love Letters from a Nobleman to his Sister.

"Sunday, April 1st.- Gave attendance at divine service. Text, 'Lazarus, come forth.' He remarked that Lazarus lived thirty years at Bethany after he was raised, a living monument of this great miracle of our Saviour.

"'The passing bell at this church was rung from 2 till 3 o'clock, for Mr. Baker, at Hamsall.

" Sunday, 15th.- Noon. Gave attendance at divine service, and, by God's grace, to all the duties of this part of the day and year.

" Sunday, 22d.- Came to Hoathley. There being no service there, by reason that Mr. Porter was gone to Chayley, to officiate for his uncle, who was indisposed.

"26th.- I set off for Brighthelmstone, and came at noon to Malling-street, and went to the Dolphin. Kennard told me that Burton's successor had had a great many scholars, but that their number began to decrease, by reason of his sottishness, and he offered, if their dislike of him should increase, to let me know of it. The. rain clearing, off at three o clock, I set out for Brigthelmstone, passing through Southover, but being advanced on the hills, the rain returned, and drove me for shelter under a thin hawthorn hedge, and I was obliged to return to Grover's, where I drank tea, and discoursed merrily, but innocently, with his wife, notwithstanding which, Grover was so indiscreet as to shew some distaste at it, and to have great difficulty to keep his temper.

"Sunday, 6th.- I went to church at Hothley. Text from St. Matthew: 'Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat, and what shall we drink, or wherewithall shall we be clothed,' and I went to Jones', where I spent 2d., and here came Thomas Cornwall, and treated me with a-pint of twopenny.

"10th.- I finished diamonding two heel-bands and three hind-quarter pieces of a pair of shoes for Squire Baker's lady.

"May, 1750, 13th Sunday.- I heard, on my arrival at Coggin's Mill, that Mr. Godman had died the day before. Gave my attendance at church. Service was performed by the Rev. Mr. Delves (text, Acts xxiv. v. 25), Who made an excellent discourse. On Wednesday, the hearse with the corpse of Mr. Godman set out from the vicarage, to be deposited in the Horsted chancel in that church (Framfield).

"19th.- Mr. James Kine came; we smoaked a pipe together, and we went and took a survey of the fair; we went to a legerdemain show, which we saw with tolerable approbation. Went to Waghorne's, to leave my serge German breeches, they being, too big for me.

"26th.- Old Kent came, and I went with him to Mr. Baker; they said they should have a ragged congregation of scholars, who should sit together in the new gallery, and that they should insist on my sitting with them: to this I did not assent.

"Sundav, 27th.- I set out with Mr. Cates for Buxted. and we came to Hartfield at eleven, and went and dined with Mr. Martin on a neck of mutton and a pudding-cake; after dinner we were entertained with two bowls of milk-punch, and then with Mr. Ball, Mr. Martin, and their wives, we set out for Witheyham. They went with the intent to pay a visit to the curate, who was not at home. We procured the keys of the church and vault, and then we went to Spencer's, where we had a large bowl of milk-punch, which cost us 6d. each: when we bad finished it, we separated to our respective homes. I came to Mayfield at 11 o'clock.

"May 28th.- Gave attendance at a cricket-match, played between the gamesters at Burwash and Mayfield, to the advantage of the latter.

"Friday, 29th.- St. Peter and St. Paul. I went to the fair at Wadhurst. Took a turn in the fair, where, on sweethearts and maidenheads, I laid out 2d.

"30th.- I found myself this morning with an unusual chilliness in every part of my body, attended with such a pain in my limbs that made it very difficult for me to stand upright; at 1 o'clock I went to Peerless, and had a 1d. worth of gin, to warm my stomach; at 4, I went, as before, and bought a quartern. 7 o'clock, I finished drawing a waistcoat for Mr. Baker; I carried it home, and received 2s. from his lady for my work.

"31st.- Mr. Baker told me I had not enough for drawing his waistcoat, and he gave me 5s. for my further satisfaction, and for measuring his hop-garden. At 11, Mr. Baker, his lady, Miss Patty Baker, and Mr. Samuel, set out for Bristol; at 6 o'clock I finished a poem on Mr. Baker's journey, which I showed to Mr. Keats and it met with his approbation.

"June lst.- I dismissed the scholars, finding myself indisposed, and went to Mr. Mascalls where they assured me I had caught the measles.- Sunday: 3d. As they did not come out by last night's sweating, I went to Dr. Maynard, with an intent to be blooded; but he dissuaded me, affirming that though the measles had not made their appearance, yet he could feel them within the skin, ready to come out; a few made their appearance about the temples in the afternoon. 4th. The distemper, now came on apace, so that I prepared for bed, and went to it almost blind. My mother and Mary Cornwall sate up with me. Finding myself extremely ill, I sent to Frantfield Street, with word to my brother Stone of my illness, to pray him to come to me, intending to make my will and appoint him my executor.

"6th.-My brothers Newington and Stone came to see me, and my cousin Ellis and his wife, and about this time the distemper came to its height. I gave an old German serge coat for my godson. At 11, I sent Mascall to town for a pint of white wine, sugar, and mace, which cost 2s. Tried to compose myself this night to rest, but found it impossible; when I shut my eyes, every thing, seemed to be inverted in a strange huddling confusion.

"13th.- Sent Mary to her brother's for a neck of mutton, and went down stairs for an hour or two. Mr. Cates came, and showed me a newspaper with the verses on Mr. Baker's going to Bristol. The bread growing very bad, I gave Mary Cornwell the greatest part of a loaf.

"Sunday, 17th.- Gave attendance at divine service fore and after noon.

"Sunday, July 1st.- Set out with Mr. Kine and Mr Wynsch, in a body, to 'Withyham. We came there, and took a survey of the vault of the church, in which were many coffins, some of them in a ruinous condition. Here is deposited, in a brass case, the heart of a young, lady, who died in France, of whom nothing, was brought home but her heart. We next went into the chancel, in which is an incomparable fine monument, erected to the former Duke and Dutchess of Dorset and their 13 children; the surviving children are represented as holding an olive-branch in their hands, those deceased a death's head. On the north side of this monument kneels the Duke in his armour, and a commanding-staff in his right hand. On the south side the Dutchess, in her boddice and a dress used in those times; and on the top their eldest son, lying nearly supine, with a skull held on his left knee, and resting himself on his elbow. Having finished our remarks, we dismissed the clerk with a shilling, and gave our attendance at church. Having discharged our reckoning, 9 p.m. we set out for Penshurst, and put up at the Leicester Arms, the keeper of which is clerk of the parish, who provided us with seatroom at the church. The service there being ended, we repaired to the park, and took a view of the external part of the house belonging to that ancient family of the Sidneys, and examined every creek and corner, in search of something curious. We returned to the Leicester Arms, and sent up a man to know if we could see the inside of the place; being told we could, we went to the house, and found the gates open, and the porter attending, as if he expected persons of the first rank. However great his disappointment might be, we were introduced to a genteel woman, who shewed us the house, in which we saw more rarities than I can recount; I shall therefore only remark, that on coming, away we gave her 2s. 6 d."

A great gap occurs here in the manuscript, many of the leaves having been lost, and when the diary is resumed, it is clear that things had not gone on well with some of the trustees and Master Gale, old Master Kent leading on the attack upon the schoolmaster.

"1758. Tuesday, 25th April.- I met the old man in the town, who, without any provocation on my part, or saying a word to him, loaded me with opprobrious language, and told me the report of the town was, that I was a drunken, saucy, covetuous fellow, and concluded with his Opinion, that I had neither good breeding or honesty. In answer, I disallowed the report the old man charged upon the town; I allowed there might be a little truth in my being covetuous, but as to drunkenness and sauciness, it was utterly false.

"May 6th.- I sent to Mr. Kine, of Ticehurst, the following letter:-

"'My dear Friend,- I was sometime ago told that the gentlemen of Ticehurst were intent upon fixing a salary for a charity school. If such a scheme should be revived, and it should be worth acceptance, I intend to make them the humble offer of my services, and I should be obliged to you to sound the minds of those Gentlemen you may fall in with, especially Mr. Medlicott and Mr. Noakes; who can tell but their estates are put into their hands for some such good purpose as this? It may appear odd to you, that, being the master of a school, I should seek after another. It is true I might save myself that trouble, if I could be mean-spirited enough to put up with all the indignities offered me by my antagonist, old Kent, a bare recital of which would fill a volume in folio. So far as you can be serviceable in it, I make no doubt but you will; should it ever be in my power to make good this kindness, I shall esteem myself happy in doing, it.

"'From, deare friend, yours sincerely.'

"10th.- Received a testimony of a death in our family within a twelvemonth, and, by the appearance of it, I suppose it to be myself.

"15th.- I left the following letter for Mr. John Langham:-

"'This is humbly to intreat the faivour that you will please, at the first agreeable opportunity, to know of Mr. Tapsell, whether he shall make any alteration in his furnace clerks; if he should, please to inform him that it is my desire to serve him in that capacity. The reason for endeavouring to leave Mayfield, is on account of some disagreeable alterations the trustees are making in the school.

"'Sir, your very humble servant.'

"27th.- I was told this day that old Kent, by reason of his having been treated by his cousin John Collins, yesterday at the Star, got very drunk, at 12 o'clock at night, which occasioned him to be absent from divine service this day forenoon.

"Saturday, 29th.- Went to Beale's, to read the newspaper. Mr. Olive said that he and Samuel Young, last Saturday night, were with old Kent, at the Forge, and that he paid his reckoning freely; that towards 10 o'clock in the morning they had him home, and that, notwithstanding the old woman's scolding, they staid drinking a bottle or two of the old man's beer and left him on the bed extremely drunk.

"August 2.- The Wadhurst gentlemen came to play a cricket with those of Mayfield, when the former beat the latter by 106.

"Sunday, Sept. 17th.- The old man met the children, and heard some of them say the Lord's Prayer.

"Dec. 14th.- The two old men, Kent and Edwards, came to school, and attended while the boys went through the Exposition and Catechism, and also reading the prayers. I delivered to him the abstract I had made of the Christian Schoolmaster Instructed; he promised to return it to me in a little time.

"8th Jan. 1759.- Left at Ruth Levett's a pair of stays of my mother; on coming away, she told me that she was, the Saturday before, at old Kent's; whilst she was there, old Sawyer came in to whom old Kent said he might take away his book again, meaning my manuscript; that the old woman had read it over to him, and that it was the **** nonsense that ever was; and thereupon they put the question, 'What is to be done with him?' to which the old woman replied, that ' the quarter sessions were not over.' By what was here said, she supposed that something was intended to be done against me by those old men at the quarter sessions.

"Saturday, 7th.- I set out for Frantfield fair, with a roasting pig for my sister Stone. Came to her, and there drank tea with the incomparable Miss Foster.

"22d of July- I was seized with the rheumatism, Dr. Duplock came, and as the pain affected the loins, he bled me in the foot.

"24th.- Left, off school at 2 o'clock, having heard the spellers and readers a lesson apiece, to attend the cricket match of the gamesters of Mayfield against those of Lindfield and Chailey. "28th.-My foot being tender with bleeding, I did not go to church.

"August 2d.- Having taken three pills, I sent to Peerless for 1d. worth of warm ale.

"13tli.- Having taken 3 pills, I sent for 1d. worth of warm ale, which I took to Mother Keats' and eat with it a hot roll

"July 2d.- I went with Master Freeman to Wadhurst; we went to the Queen's Head, where we had a quartern of brandy. I went to the supervisor's house, and returned to the Queen's Head, and had three pints of fivepenny, between myself and 3 others; we set out together at 8 o'clock, and being invited to a mugg of mild beer, we went in to Mr. Walters'. We left him with a design to cross the fields through Mepham's Gill; but it being extremely dark, we kept not long the right path, but got into the road, which, though bad, we were obliged to keep, and not being able to see the footmarks, I had the mischance of slipping from a high bank, but received no hurt. Old Kent came to the knowledge of the above journey, and told it to the Rev. Mr. Downall, in a false manner, much to my disadvantage; he said that I got drunk, and that that was the occasion of my falling, and that, not being contented with what I had had, I went into the town that night for more.

"5th. Nov. Powder Plot.- Attended divine service, and returned to dinner at my friend Fielder's house, where I partook of a handsome entertainment. The text was 2d Sam. 22d chap. 40th verse. The minister divided his discourse into three heads:- 1st, he spoke of the benefits vouchsafed to this nation by Divine Providence; 2d, the thanks we ought to give for so great blessings; 3dly, he expatiated on the wily intrigues of the Church of Rome, whose constant endeavour it was to extinguish the whole community of Protestants, who are the true followers of the doctrines of Christ and his Apostles; and, in conclusion, he admired and wondered at the incorrigibleness of the Jacobites, their aptness to rebel, and their blind zeal in adhering, to the principles of Popery and superstition.

"April 10th.- My mother, to my great unhappiness, died in the 83rd year of her age, agreeable to the testimony I had of a death in our family on the 10th of May last.

"13th.- Having by the assistance of Master Weston, got 24 men together to carry my mother to Frantfield, we set out and passed through the town, and came to Luff's about noon. I spent 1s. on them, and we reached my brother Stone's about 2 o'clock. We put the coffin into the parlour, and went to Cripps', at the Greyhound, where I treated them with bread, beer, and tobacco, 8s. 6d., and with cheese, 2s. 6d. After paying them 2s. 6d. each, they returned to Mayfield.

"14th.- I went to Mr Whately's and paid him 8s. 6d. for reading the service and breaking the ground."

Master Gale, having reason to believe that his enemy old Kent intended to inform against him as being an unlicensed teacher, having gone round the parish and called upon his neighbours to certify to his good qualities, "his attachment to church and state, his sober life and conversation" the last of whom was old Mr. Diplock of the Moat, with whom be took part in a bottle of strong beer, in due time received his license, which, omitting the preamble, ran as followeth:

"To our beloved in Christ Walter Gaile, of the parish of Mayfield, in the Deanery of South Malling aforesaid, greeting.

"Whereas you have been recommended to us by the testimony of the ministers and churchwardens and many of the principal inhabitants of the parish of Mayfield, as a person of a sober and virtuous life, and of sound morals, and well qualified to teach and instruct youth in reading, writing, and arithmetic, whereby we are inclined to have a favourable regard unto you; we therefore by these presents grant unto you the said Walter Gaile, in whose fidelity we greatly confide, our license and faculty to teach and instruct the youth of the parish of Mayfield, as a schoolmaster in reading, writing,, and arithmetic.

"Given under the seal of our office this sixteenth day of April, one thousand seven hundred and fifty-seven. (Signed) "JOHN BUTTTERWORTH, Doctor of Laws, Dean and Commissary, &c. &e."

"I was called upon by Bassett, who came to quarrel with me on account of my correcting his boy for some enormous crimes he had been guilty of, all which he foolishly denied at first, and insisted upon it that his boy was unjustly corrected; yet in the end he confessed everything that the boy was beat for.

"11th May.- Dick Pentecost was sent to school to be taught free, notwithstanding the list was full before, by the order of old Kent, for no other reason than his father was poor. I told him I had enow without him, and he might tell the old man, that when I had two of his family I had as many as were appointed.

"29th.- The old man entered the school with George Wilmhurst and Eliz. Hook, and said they should be taught free I asked him how many I was to teach free; without any further ado, be flew into a violent passion. Among other abusive and scurrilous language he said I was an upstart, runnagate, beggarly dog; that I picked his pocket, and that I never knew how to teach a school in my life. He again called me upstart, runnagate, beggarly dog, clinched his fist in my face, and made a motion to strike me, and declared be would break my head. He did not strike me, but withdrew in a wonderful heat, and ended all with his general maxim, 'The greater scholler, the greater rogue.'

"30th.- I told Mr. Dungate of my entering on the assistant hop business at Rotherfield with the approbation of Mr. Baker, of which he also approved. I then delivered a paper which ran thus :-

"'Whereas the deplorable situation of the schollers of the free school, arising from their being confined in a close room with a charcoal fire, hath been made to appear, it is thought absolutely necessary to do something whereby the pernicious vapour which arises thence may be vented and carried off, for which purpose a cupola has been proposed; it appears by an estimate that the charge will amount to £3. 3s.; it is proposed to raise that sum by subscription.'

"3rd Sept.- Set out as hop assistant for Rotherfield, and surveyed the short ride.- 4th. The ride being of extraordinary length, I made it my practise to ride, having the use of a mare of which Mr. Tucker had the keeping of in the forest, and given to me. I set out on horseback, surveying till I came to Mr. Bridge's, who entertained me well. I staid there from 9 till 10, and then set out for Green Hedges; and on my return, in riding down Enting Hill, at a very steep part of the hill, for Want of a crupper to the saddle, my weight drove it down to the mare's withy,, which occasioned it to turn round, and me thereby to fall to the ground. I unfortunately sprained my wrist in a horrible manner, and broke a rib on right side, which came against a stony bank. As soon as I could make a shift to rise, I took advantage of the rising ground to mount again, and rode forward Dowgates, and left the mare with Master Wickens, finding, myself incapable of gettling off or on, and returned to my lodgings at Rotherfield.

"5th.- Finding myself much worse than I was overnight, I rose with extream difficulty, and dressed myself, and bathed my wrist with a fomentation of pot liquor and bran.

"8th.- I was encouraged, by finding my pains in my right side considerably abated, to walk on the forest, where I found Mr. Tucker hunting the warren for a stray rabbit. We went together to Mr. White's to breakfast, and afterwards we sate down with the alderman and drank of raisin wine - very good!

"3rd Oct.-I came to Mayfield and found in the church porch the two Wilmshursts and Geo. Richardson, who through James's too mild treatment was got to be master. I ordered him into the school, and took the management myself. I was told by Mr. Downer that the day before James had been so indiscreet as to suffer Richardson's boy George to bring beer into the school, and, old Kent coming in before the mug was out, the boy asked him to drink; thereupon he fell into a great heat, and drove the boy out of the school."

Such a circumstance as this would probably not have occurred had the liberal rule in force in several old grammar-schools prevailed at Mayfield, that the boys should have an hour from three o'clock till four for their drinkings.

"26th.- I was called into the little chamber over the clubroom, and there I found Mr. Baker, Mr. Dowgate, old Sawyer, and old Kent, who said that 'I spent my time in reading printed papers to the neglect of the children ; he said that I was covetous, and undertook to do other persons' business to the neglect and detriment of the school ; that the children did not improve, and that he would get an old woman for 2d. a week that would teach them better.' I answered that 'many of them were extremely dull, and that I would defie any person that should undertake it to teach them better.' He then said 'that I got money so fast that I was above my business, and it made me saucy, and that I had been always discharged from every place where I had any employment, unless it was from old Mary Weston's, and he did not know whether I had been sent from there or no.' I answered that 'he was again mistaken, that I was not above my business, but carefully discharged it; nor could I be called saucy for defending the truth, and that he was grievously out in affirming that I had been discharged from the places I had served, for contrariwise, I met with advancement on leaving- every one of them.'"

Those who have had experience in the teaching the youths of Sussex, will probably agree with Mr. Gale in his estimate of their natural intelligence, in which they certainly are inferior to the children of the north of England. Henry Bexwyx, and Johanne his widow, who founded a school at Manchester in 1524, give as their reason for so doing that "the children of the county of Lancaster have pregnant wits, but that they have for the most part been brought up rudely and idly, and not in virtue, cunning, erudition, literature, or good manners."

The remainder of Master Gale's diary is lost. It was probably very voluminous, for he held his place till 1771, long after his great adversary, old Kent, was laid in his grave. Whether he fell in consequence of pressure from without, such as, in 1631, was brought to bear upon the mayor and aldermen of Chester, who were called upon "to appoint a new master instead of old Mr. Hawarde, who was inefficient, and young William, who was idle and neglectful," will probably never be known. This much, however, is certain, that at a meeting held on the 18th of October, 1771, it was resolved nem. con.,

"That the schoolmaster, Mr. Walter Gale, be removed from the school for neglecting the duties thereof, and that he have notice to leave the same the next quarter-day.

  (Signed) Roger Challice, Vicar.
John Duplock.
John Wood.
T. Huett Dungate.
Thos. Maynard."

And, on 10th. April, 1772,

"It was ordered that Mr. Gale, the old schoolmaster, be not paid his salary due, till he has absolutely put the schoolhouse in such a condition as to the form of it as it was at the time of his entering upon such house.—Agreed to nem. con."

Two or three years ago a friend of the editor visited the school of ——— in no distant or obscure part of England; and, observing some deep-coloured stains upon the oaken floor, inquired the cause. He was told that they were occasioned by the leakage of a butt of Madeira which the master of the grammar-school, who had grown lusty, not having had for some time any scholars who might afford him the opportunity of taking exercise, employed himself upon a rainy day in rolling up and down the schoolroom for the purpose of ripening, the wine and keeping himself in good condition. It may be satisfactory to know that this ceremony has ceased, and that the school in question is now carrying out worthily and well the objects for which it was founded.

  1. See Carlyle's Concise Description of the English Endowed Grammar Schools, from whose book all the cases alluded to are taken.
  2. Cock-fighting was, in fact, the great national amusement, particularly in the north of England, and Berwick-upon-Tweed was among the places most celebrated for it. The grandfather of a friend of the editor's, some ninety years ago, was travelling in the north of England, when a cock-fighting was about to take place. The parties were in want of an adept in putting on the spurs: he was recognised by an acquaintance, who exclaimed "Here comes a Berwick man; he knows how to do it."—Cock-fighting is now legally a misdemeanour; and on the 15th of April, at the Liverpool Police Court, James Clark, a publican in Houghton Street, was fined £5 and costs for permitting cock-fighting in his house.—Times, April 20, 1857.
  3. Such are the injunctions for building Eton College given by its royal founder Henry VI.
  4. Among the rules of the school at Chigwell, in Essex, which was founded in 1629, it was declared that "the master must be a man of sound religion, neither Papist nor Puritan, of a grave behaviour and sober and honest conversation, no tippler or haunter of alehouses, and no puffer of tobacco.
  5. The grave is on the north side of the chancel, about six rods therefrom, about in a line with the end wall.