Page:Highways and Byways in Sussex.djvu/169

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141
A POCKET BOROUGH

village was the scene of an encounter between Royalists and Roundheads. A letter from John Coulton to Samuel Jeake of Rye, dated January 8, 1643-4, thus describes the event:—"The enemy attempted Bramber bridge, but our brave Carleton and Evernden with his Dragoons and our Coll.'s horse welcomed them with drakes and musketts, sending some 8 or 9 men to hell (I feare) and one trooper to Arundel Castle prisoner, and one of Capt. Evernden's Dragoons to heaven." A few years later, as we have seen, Charles II. ran a grave risk at Bramber while on his way to Brighton and safety.

Bramber was, for many years, a pocket borough of the worst type. George Spencer, writing to Algernon Sidney after the Bramber election in 1679, says:—"You would have laughed to see how pleased I seemed to be in kissing of old women; and drinking wine with handfuls of sugar, and great glasses of burnt brandy; three things much against the stomach." In 1768, eighteen votes were polled for one candidate and sixteen for his rival. One of the tenants, in a cottage valued at about three shillings a week, refused £1000 for his vote. Bramber remained a pocket borough until the Reform Bill. William Wilberforce, the abolitionist, sat for it for some years; there is a story that on passing one day through the village he stopped his carriage to inquire the name. "Bramber? Why, that's the place I'm Member for."

Bramber possesses a humorist in taxidermy, whose efforts win more attention than the castle. They are to be seen in a small museum in its single street, the price of admission being for children one penny, for adults twopence, and for ladies and gentlemen "what they please" (indicating that the naturalist also knows human nature). In one case, guinea-pigs strive in cricket's manly toil; in another, rats read the paper and play dominoes; in a third, rabbits learn their lessons in school; in a fourth, the last scene in the tragedy of the Babes of the Wood is represented, Bramber Castle in the