Blaker Family of Sussex - Reminiscences


30th July, 1906.


You may have forgotten that a few years ago you asked me to write some reminiscences of former days; this I also had forgotten till our recent walk from the Dispensary to the Town Hall, when you again mentioned the subject, and most kindly said that, if I would write down any facts I could recollect, you would arrange and edit them for me. I felt that this was such a kind offer that I determined to try what I could do.

" Well, Sire, at your desire, I'll track
   My seventy years of memory back."

On thinking the matter over, however, I soon found that without some system, it would be impossible to arrange events in any chronological order, and the facts would become a confused heap. I have, therefore, written them down in the form of an autobiography, as a simple means of arranging them, and though medical matters are, of course, what you are most interested in, I trust you will pardon my endeavour to give a sketch of a Sussex village as in childhood I recollect it, before railways, better roads and easier means of communication had done away with the primitive habits and customs of the rustic population as I first knew them. Whether there may be anything sufficiently interesting in these few pages to be worth preserving I must leave to you to decide; if there is not they can easily be torn up, and the paper will be the only loss.

Believe me, dear Dr. Newsholme,

Very sincerely yours,

 21st May, 1918.


I have now read through the revised and extended edition of your Reminiscences and am gladder even than I was in 1906 that my suggestion has led to your placing on record this picture of the past. It is evident that you have, with much advantage, expended many paragraphs and introduced considerable new matter. The whole of the manuscript has about it an old-world flavour which it would have been a pity to lose; and I cannot but think that our successors fifty or a hundred years hence will be glad to read such a vivid account of the rural life of a favoured part of our Old England, as it was lived in bygone days. It is a fragment of local history which has permanent value.

The medical portion of the Reminiscences appeals more particularly to me. You have had the good fortune to see and to take a part in the evolution of Surgery from an empirical and ofttimes unsuccessful Art, to an Art which has embodied in it accurate science, and which has been the means of saving or prolonging the lives of many hundreds of thousands of our fellow-men. What scientific Surgery, and still more, what scientific Medicine can do in diminishing the sufferings of war, and in avoiding the pestilence which one has always associated with war, is writ large in our current experience.

One further point. I Have thought you were, perhaps, a little severe in your estimate of character in this generation, as compared with your knowledge of men in your earlier days; though you agree that the present war is showing that we possess a full share of the grit which characterised Britons in the past. It has appeared to me in my reading of history that certain qualities predominate in one age and that other qualities emerge more prominently in other centuries; but that if one could look from a distance at men of each of the contrasted generations there might be as much to admire in one as in in the other. Whether this be so or not, the necessity of the full adherence to the standard of virtue in which every man's word is his bond needed stating, and I am glad you have stated it. I hope you may see your way to publishing these extended Reminiscences, and thus add a valuable quota to the local records of a lovely part of Sussex, with which we both have many valued associations. By so doing you will please your many friends, and none more so than

Your very grateful friend,

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