JP's side with the smugglers

'Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by' A Smugglers' Song' by Rudyard Kiplng

The words of Kipling's song above seem to have been followed by the judiciary of the time who, in Sussex, not only turned a blind eye to smuggling but released men found to be actively taking part in it. Paul Monod in his article 'Dangerous Merchandise: Smuggling, Jacobitism, and Commercial Culture in Southeast England' explains why:


Paternalism extended into the courtroom, where sympathetic justices of the peace sometimes frustrated the government's efforts to crush smuggling.


Two Sussex JPs, Charles Eversfield and John Wicker, infuriated the customs authorities by freeing some members of the Mayfield land-smuggling gang who appeared before them at Horsham in 1721. Eversfield was a former M.P. and a known Jacobite; Wicker, son of a Tory M.P., bought up the Caryll estates around Horsham.


In the late 1740s, the Whig duke of Richmond feared that Thomas Sergison of Cuckfield (who also owned former Caryll lands) and another Tory justice, the ironmaster John Fuller of Brightling, might interfere with the government’s prosecution of the Hawkhurst gang.


A couple of years earlier, three captured Sussex smugglers had been defended at their trial by an Irish Catholic solicitor named Kelly. It is likely that the benevolent recusant, perhaps John Caryll of Ladyholt, paid for Kelly's services.



A Smuggler's Song

If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse's feet,

Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street,

Them that ask no questions isn't told a lie.

Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by.


Five and twenty ponies,

Trotting through the dark -

Brandy for the Parson, 'Baccy for the Clerk.

Laces for a lady; letters for a spy,

Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by!


Running round the woodlump if you chance to find

Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,

Don't you shout to come and look, nor use 'em for your play.

Put the brishwood back again - and they'll be gone next day!


If you see the stable-door setting open wide;

If you see a tired horse lying down inside;

If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;

If the lining's wet and warm - don't you ask no more!


If you meet King George's men, dressed in blue and red,

You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said.

If they call you 'pretty maid', and chuck you 'neath the chin,

Don't you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one's been!


Knocks and footsteps round the house - whistles after dark -

You've no call for running out till the house-dogs bark.

Trusty's here, and Pincher's here, and see how dumb they lie

They don't fret to follow when the Gentlemen go b !


'If You do as you've been told, 'likely there's a chance,

You'll be give a dainty doll, all the way from France,

With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood -

A present from the Gentlemen, along 'o being good!


Five and twenty ponies,

Trotting through the dark -

Brandy for the Parson, 'Baccy for the Clerk.

Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie -

Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by!


Notes on above:

brishwood - Sussex dialect for brushwood.

King George's men - Soldiers or excise-men hunting the smugglers.

Valenciennes lace - originally produced (c. 1705-80) in the town of that name in Northern France.

Sources

A Smugglers Song http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_smuggler.htm


Dangerous Merchandise: Smuggling, Jacobitism, and Commercial Culture in Southeast England, 1690-1760

Paul Monod Journal of British Studies Vol. 30, No. 2 (Apr., 1991), pp. 150-182 (33 pages) [P157]

Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of The North American Conference on British Studies

Available from JSTOR.org.


'Smugglers' an etching, technique includes aquatinting; hand-coloured, by John Atkinson. 1 January 1808. Wikimedia public domain image.


Contributed by Malcolm Davison.