Mid Sussex Times – Tuesday 27 March 1900
CUCKFIELD FREE LIBRARY.
To the editor of the Mid Sussex Times-
Sir, May I take the liberty of pointing out one aspect of the Cuckfield Hall and Free Library that seems to be in danger of being overlooked.
Any of us who have taken even the most superficial interest in the social questions of the day must have had our attention frequently arrested by what is known as the “congestion in our great cities”. 10 years ago, inner London was squeezing out its population into Greater London at the rate of 130 per day. A high birth rate is not the sole cause of this; it is largely due to a continuous influx from the country.
This is an evil which cuts both ways, for while it congests the great cities, it also denudes the country of the brightest and most energetic of its young people. In fact some go so far as to say that it is not only a serious problem but a positive menace to the happiness and prosperity of this country. Surely, Sir, it is our obvious duty but to counteract as much as possible this continual drain on the rural districts.
There is only one way and that is to get at the cause. The cause is not simple, but if we ask those people why they are so anxious to live in a large town, nine out of ten will reply “Because I want more Life”. The word is short but expressive. To sum it means gaiety - theatres, music, dancing; to others lectures, art and science classes; and to many the boon of a Free Library. I have heard several say in Cuckfield that the one thing they missed most in the country was the public library.
It is then, presumptuous, Sir, to think that, if we endeavour to give our young people some of the above attractions of the towns, we shall retain a larger percentage of the best and most intellectual of them in the country? I suppose our little country towns have in the past been lifeless and inanimate enough to drive anyone away, but we have made a start in Cuckfield, and our hall has echoed this winter to lectures, concerts and dancing, and we are now promised a Science evening.
Having put our hand to the plough, surely we shall not look back, but adopt the Library Act and do our best to provide those among us, and those to come, with that fascination and necessity of modern existence commonly known as “Life”.
Apologising for taking so much space,
I remain, yours truly,
Cuckfield, 22 March 1900