Page:Highways and Byways in Sussex.djvu/184

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156
CH. XVI
SAINT THOMAS'S FIGS

WIT.

Nature must be the ground-work of Wit and Art; otherwise whatever is done will prove but Jack-pudding's work.

WIFE.

You shall see a Monkey sometime, that has been playing up and down the Garden, at length leap up to the top of the Wall, but his Clog hangs a great way below on this side: the Bishop's Wife is like that Monkey's Clog; himself is got up very high, takes place of the Temporal Barons, but his Wife comes a great way behind.

Selden's father was a small farmer who played the fiddle well. The boy is said at the age of ten to have carved over the door a Latin distich, which, being translated, runs:—

Walk in and welcome, honest friend; repose.
Thief, get thee gone! to thee I'll not unclose.

Between Salvington and Worthing lies Tarring, noted for its fig gardens. It is a fond belief that Thomas à Becket planted the original trees from which the present Tarring figs are descended; and there is one tree still in existence which tradition asserts was set in the earth by his own hand. Whether this is possible I am not sufficiently an arboriculturist to say; but Becket certainly sojourned often in the Archbishop of Canterbury's palace in the village. The larger part of the present fig garden dates from 1745. I have seen it stated that during the season a little band of becca ficos fly over from Italy to taste the fruit, disappearing when it is gathered; but a Sussex ornithologist tells me that this is only a pretty story.

The fig gardens are perhaps sufficient indication that the climate of this part of the country is very gentle. It is indeed unique in mildness. There is a little strip of land between the sea and the hills whose climatic conditions approximate to those of the Riviera: hence, in addition to the success of the Tarring fig gardens, Worthing's fame for tomatoes and other fruit. I cannot say when the tomato first came to the English