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Memoirs of Henry Hunt, Esq, Volume 2

By Hunt, Henry

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Book Id: WPLBN0000619164
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Title: Memoirs of Henry Hunt, Esq, Volume 2  
Author: Hunt, Henry
Volume:
Language: English
Subject: Literature & thought, Literature and history, Literature & philosophy
Collections: Project Gutenberg Consortia Center
Historic
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Publisher: Project Gutenberg Consortia Center

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Hunt, H. (n.d.). Memoirs of Henry Hunt, Esq, Volume 2. Retrieved from http://worldlibrary.org/


Excerpt
Hunting, shooting, and fishing by day, and mixing in the thoughtless, gay, and giddy throng by night, soon, however, dispelled any unpleasant impression which this circumstance had made upon my mind. I every day became acquainted with new and more fashionable society than I had before associated with, and as my son was about to be christened, we were determined to give a sumptuous feast and a ball, at which upwards of forty friends sat down to dinner. When I recal to mind all those expensive and thoughtless proceedings, I can reflect with great satisfaction upon one circumstance; which is, that I never forgot the poor. I always attended to their complaints, and ministered to their wants, when I could scarcely find time for any thing else. I never gave a feast that the poor did not partake of. Whether it were the celebration of a birth-day, or at a christening, they always came in for a share. I forgot to mention, that, when my son was born, I kept up the good ancient custom, which had been exercised with so much old English hospitality at my birth, by my father. Not only were toast and ale given to all my friends and neighbors, but my servants also had such a junketing as they will never forget. My birth-day, the 6th of November, I continued to celebrate as my father had done before his death; and I will here take leave to relate in what way I celebrated that event. I always had a party of private friends; but, while we were enjoying ourselves with every delicacy which the season afforded, the dinner generally consisting of different sorts of game of my own killing, dressed in various shapes?whilst me and my neighboring friends and visitors were regaling ourselves, I was never unmindful of my poorer neighbors. Enford was a very extensive parish, containing a population of nearly seven hundred inhabitants. Amongst them there were a considerable number of old persons, for whom, after my father?s death, I had successfully exerted myself, to procure them an increase of their miserable pittance of parish pay; which pay I had, as the reader will remember, raised from half-a-crown to three shillings and sixpence each per week. All these old people of the parish, of the age of sixty-three and upwards, I invited annually, without any distinction, to come and partake of the feast on the sixth of November. The servants? hall was appropriated to their use on that day; and as there were seldom less than twenty above this age, we always had as large a party as the house would well contain. There were about equal numbers of men and women, but several of the latter were the oldest, some of them being nearly ninety years of age, and many of them above eighty. As this parish consisted of eight hamlets, some parts of it, where the old persons resided, were at a distance of nearly two miles; and as, from their extreme old age, some of the poor creatures were unable to walk so far and back again, I always sent a cart and horse round to bring them. They had an excellent dinner of substantial meat and pudding, besides the dainties that went from my table, after which they regaled themselves with good old October or cyder. The day and night were always passed with the greatest hilarity, and I was never completely satisfied, unless I was an eye-witness that there was as much mirth and jollity amongst my old friends in the hall, as there was amongst my other friends in the dining and drawing rooms. To bring these poor old creatures together, and to make them once a year happy in each other?s company, was to me a source of inexpressible delight. The very first year I assembled them after my father?s death, several of them had never seen each other for eight or ten years, in consequence of their inability to leave their homes. They were overjoyed at meeting each other again, as it was a pleasure which they had long since banished from their hopes. One or two of them, who had never been a hundred yards from their own humble sheds for years before, and who had resigned all thoughts of ever going so far from their homes again, till they were carried to their last long home in the church-yard, were now inspired with new hopes, and appeared to enjoy new life; and they actually met their old workfellows and acquaintances, and spent a pleasant day with them on the 6th of November, in the hall at Chisenbury House, for eight or ten years afterwards, where they never failed to recount all the events of their youthful days. They were all full of the tales of former times, and of the anecdotes of my forefathers, of which they had been eye-witnesses. One gave a narrative of a feast of which he had partaken, another had danced at my grandfather?s wedding, a third had nursed my father, and all of them were past their prime when I was born. To listen to their garrulity, and to witness the pleasure they felt in describing and recalling to each other?s recollection, the scenes of years long gone by, and their opinion respecting the alteration in the times, was to me a source of indescribable delight. An old man and woman, who were each of them above eighty years of age, always sung with great glee a particular duet, which they had sung together, at my grandfather?s home-harvest, upwards of sixty years before. Two women and a man, all above eighty, regularly danced a reel. Each individual sung a song, or told a story, and, to finish the evening, a tremendous milk-pail, full of humming toast and ale, wound up the annual feast, which set the old boys? and girls? heads singing again. Then, each heart being made full glad, care was taken that no accident or inconvenience should happen to such old and infirm people, by their being obliged to hobble home in the dark. A steady carter, Thomas Cannings, and an able assistant, loaded them all up in a waggon, in which they were drawn to their respective homes, and deposited there in perfect safety, where they enjoyed a second pleasure in recounting to their neighbors the merry scenes that passed on the squire?s birthday. It will easily be believed by the reader, that they looked forward to the Christmas treat, of the same sort, and from thence to the next birth-day, with as much anxiety as the country lads and lasses look forward to the annual wake or fair.

 

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