Page:Highways and Byways in Sussex.djvu/80

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52
CHAP.
THE MARDEN VIOLETS

takes a surprisingly novel line. "Nay, nay, it is not gloomy" he begins, and the end is thus:—

     Nor fancy Druid rites have left a stain
       Upon its gentle beauties:—loiter there
       In a calm summer night, confess how fair
     Its moonlight charms, and thou wilt learn how vain
     And transitory Superstition's reign
       Over a spot which gladsome thoughts may share.

The ordinary person, not a poet, would, I fear, prefer to think of Kingly Bottom's Druidical past.

The last time I was in Kingly Bottom—it was in April—after leaving the barrows on the summit of the Bow Hill, above the Vale, I walked by devious ways to East Marden, between banks thick with the whitest and sweetest of sweet white violets. East Marden, however, has no inn and is therefore not the best friend of the traveller; but it has the most modest and least ecclesiastical-looking church in the world, and by seeking it out I learned two secrets: the finest place for white violets and the finest place to keep a horse. There is no riding country to excel this hill district between Singleton and the Hampshire border.

At the neighbouring village of Stoughton, whither I meant to walk (since an inn is there) was born, in 1783, the terrible George Brown—Brown of Brighton—the fast bowler, whose arm was as thick as an ordinary man's thigh. He had two long stops, one of whom padded his chest with straw. A long stop once held his coat before one of Brown's balls, but the ball went through it and killed a dog on the other side. Brown could throw a 4½ oz. ball 137 yards, and he was the father of seventeen children. He died at Sompting in 1857.

Of Racton, on the Hampshire border, and its association with Charles II., I have already spoken. Below, it is Westbourne, a small border village in whose churchyard are two pleasing epitaphs. Of Jane, wife of Thomas Curtis, who died in 1719, it is written:—