Page:Highways and Byways in Sussex.djvu/278

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250
CHAP.
DR. JOHNSON AT LEWES

be in difficulties; and the Rev. Gideon Mantell, the Sussex geologist, whose collection of Sussex fossils is preserved in the British Museum.

In St. Ann's church on the hill lie the bones of a remarkable man who died at Lewes (in the tenth climacteric) in 1613—no less a person than Thomas Twyne, M.D. In addition to the principles of physic he "comprehended earthquakes" and wrote a book about them. He also wrote a survey of the world. I quote Horsfield's translation of the florid Latin inscription to his memory: "Hippocrates saw Twyne lifeless and his bones slightly covered with earth. Some of his sacred dust (says he) will be of use to me in removing diseases; for the dead, when converted into medicine, will expel human maladies, and ashes prevail against ashes. Now the physician is absent, disease extends itself on every side, and exults its enemy is no more. Alas! here lies our preserver Twyne; the flower and ornament of his age. Sussex deprived of her physician, languished, and is ready to sink along with him. Believe me, no future age will produce so good a physician and so renowned a man as this has. He died at Lewes in 1613, on the 1st of August, in the tenth climacteric, (viz. 70)."

Dr. Johnson was once in Lewes, on a day's visit to the Shelleys, at the house which bears their name at the south end of the town. One of the little girls becoming rather a nuisance with her questions, the Doctor lifted her into a cherry tree and walked off. At dinner, some time later, the child was missed, and a search party was about to set out when the Doctor exclaimed, "Oh, I left her in a tree!" For many years the tree was known as "Dr. Johnson's cherry tree."

Lewes is ordinarily still and leisurely, with no bustle in her steep streets save on market days: an abode of rest and unhastening feet. But on one night of the year she lays aside her grey mantle and her quiet tones and emerges a Bacchante robed in flame. Lewes on the 5th of November is an incredible sight; probably no other town in the United Kingdom offers