Containing austerus and.., p.1

Village Annals, Containing Austerus and Humanus: A Sympathetic Tale, page 1


Village Annals, Containing Austerus and Humanus: A Sympathetic Tale

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Village Annals, Containing Austerus and Humanus: A Sympathetic Tale

  Produced by Chris Curnow, Emmy and the Online DistributedProofreading Team at (This file wasproduced from images generously made available by TheInternet Archive)









  Griggs & Dickinsons, Printers. 1814.


  [Sidenote: Skaiting.]

  [Sidenote: Village Ale-House.]

  IT was in that season of the year when nature wears an universal gloom,and the pinching frost arrests the running stream in its course, andgives a massy solidity to the lake that lately curled with everybreeze, that Sir Filmer Hopewell, having lost his road in the Dale ofTiviot, was met by two youths that swiftly skimmed the surface of theslippery brook, and sought an antidote against the inclement cold inthe wholesome though dangerous exercise of skaiting. Of these haleand ruddy young villagers he enquired his road, or where he mightmeet with a lodging for the night, for the sun was declining in theshades of evening fast encompassing the dale. They directed him to thesummit of a neighbouring hill, on the declivity of which there stood asmall village, where probably he might meet with accommodation. Thoughwearied and fatigued, this information gave him vigour, and he hastenedup the hill, and soon beheld with pleasure, beheld the sign of the Lionand Dog; that on a lofty post invited to the village ale-house. Heentered it a seasonable and salutary asylum from the wintry blast, andwas conducted into a neat little parlour, with a cheerful fire. Beingseated, his host quickly made his appearance, with such refreshmentas his house afforded. Sir Filmer, on his first entering, immediatelyperceived there was _character_ in his countenance; a quick dark eyeand sharp features that gave him that appearance of intellect, which isseldom found to be belied upon further acquaintance. He therefore gavehim an invitation to spend an hour or two with him; which he acceptedwithout hesitation: and after taking a bumper to the health of hisguest, entertained him with numerous anecdotes of the village.

  [Sidenote: The Landlord.]

  [Sidenote: Scenes of distress.]

  "You must, at this inclement season," said Sir Filmer, "witness manyscenes of distress, and have many calls upon your humanity." "Yes,"replied the worthy man, the tear glistening in his eye, "to weep withthose that weep, to lighten the burden of human woe, and to administercomfort to the dejected soul, are offices, to the exercise of which,we have frequent calls. Having lived here for some years, and beingwell known, I am sometimes called to the houses of neighbouringpeasants, in which poverty and affliction seem to have taken up theirabode; yet, believe me, sir, I never return from those houses withgreater pleasure, or with more heart-felt satisfaction, than when Ithink I have contributed my share in wiping away the falling tear, orwhispering peace to the troubled breast.

  [Sidenote: Two opposite characters.]

  "Small, however, sir, as the village is, it produces two characters, asopposite almost in their natures, as the darkness of a stormy night isto the splendour of meridian day. These characters as they are unknownto you, allow me to introduce to your acquaintance, under the names of_Austerus_ and _Humanus_; the former a man of callous soul; the latterone who thinks, and feels while he thinks.

  [Sidenote: Character of Austerus.]

  "_Austerus_ possesses a fortune of three thousand pounds a-year, has anelegant house, and keeps a large retinue.

  "His lands yield abundant crops, and his flocks are heard bleatingon the neighbouring hills. His tenants are pretty numerous, and hisdependants many.

  "One would imagine," says Sir Filmer, "this man was destined by heaven,as a blessing to the part of the country in which he lives; that thefamilies around him, would hail him as their liberal benefactor, andthat his domestics would bless the hour in which they entered hisspacious hall."

  [Sidenote: Lordly Oppression.]

  "However natural this conclusion, Sir," replied the host, "it is farfrom being well founded. Extremely passionate, he rages and storms; andeven after the storm has subsided, his face bespeaks the anger whichhe can ill conceal. Sour and austere, haughty and overbearing, he isdreaded by his servants, and despised by all. His tenants, whose landsare rented to the full, barely subsist, and regret the moment theywere so unfortunate as to tread the ground of hard oppression; one ofwhich--poor man!--how often have I witnessed the tear drop from hiseye, on the approach of quarter-day, when, with the spade in his hand,he ceased from toil, to awaken bitter reflections over the sad state ofa destitute family.

  [Sidenote: Hard Treatment of the Poor.]

  "But what adds an indelible stain to the character of _Austerus_, isthat he is hard-hearted to the poor, and unfeeling to the sons ofdistress. It is a painful truth, that his cane has been lifted upover the head of poverty, as it approached his lordly door to bega pittance. What! O hardened _Austerus_! were riches given thee toindulge thy pampered carcase, and to steel thy heart against thy poorer_brethren_? for the shivering beggar at the gate is still thy brother!

  [Sidenote: Distressed Family.]

  "This I have frequently witnessed with a poor old woman, who travelsround the country with laces and other little things, and asks theboon of the wealthy, to enable her to exist; while his children, whodare not, with his knowledge, assist her, let down trifles from theirchamber window, to relieve this poor old creature, bent with thewinters that have past over her head.

  "Besides the poor, Sir, the afflicted, who are tossed on the bed ofsickness, implore his assistance in vain. Pity is even denied them.

  "I ventured once to recommend to him a peasant's family, in theneighbourhood, on whom affliction's rod had suddenly fallen, by sadaccident. As they were boiling their frugal meal of potatoes, thevessel upset, and scalded the father and one of the children mostdreadfully.

  "While I related these circumstances to him, a tear, some how or other,had forced its way down my cheek.

  [Sidenote: Hard Heartedness.]

  "He heard me with a shocking indifference; said _he would think ofit_, and turned away rudely from me, though I assured him (what wastoo true, and aggravated his shame) that they resided in a corner ofhis own estate, and that their situation admitted of no delay. As heretired, I could perceive that he was indignant at my freedom."

  Here the good landlord's looks betrayed his detestation of thisunfeeling conduct; and while he thought of the miseries of thisunfortunate family, he exclaimed with the patriarch, "Cursed be hisanger, for it was fierce; and his wrath, for it was cruel!" I envy nothis crimson bed of state, nor his faring sumptuously every day, whilehe possesses an unfeeling heart and a niggardly soul.

  [Sidenote: Pleasures of a Liberal Mind.]

  "Better (says he) infinitely better, is that man, who, though his shareof wealth may be more scanty, is blessed with a noble, a liberal heart;and such is Humanus.

  [Sidenote: Character of Humanus.]

  "Humanus honours me with his acquaintance and his confidence. I knowhis heart and his feelings almost as well as he knows them himself.Descended from worthy ancestors, he retains no small portion of theirvirtues. Possessing a moderate fortune, he has no idea of extravagance.He lives in a neat little house, adjoining a small freehold-farm, whichdescended to him from his father, and which has been held by one familyfor many years, at a rent that enables them to live comfortable, and totill the land with pleasure.

  Unlike the tena
nts of Austerus, this family is always cheerful; andthe father, while he ploughs his fields, is frequently visited by hislittle prattlers, whom he looks upon with the greatest pleasure, whilehe stops his well-fed horses to mount them on his plough.

  [Sidenote: Benignity.]

  "Nor is it only among those with whom Humanus is immediately connected,that his benevolence is felt: he seems to walk about doing good, and isnever so happy as when he sees all nature rejoice, and when, as is hiscustom, he is seen with his grandson, feeding the parent hen and herchickens: his benign countenance seems to say, The poor and needy, howshould I like to shelter you under my wing, as the hen sheltereth herchickens.

  [Sidenote: The afflicted Cottage.]

  "His charity is indeed wonderful. It often puts me to the blush, whenI reflect how far I fall short of it. It was but the other day that hesaid, "Come, let us make a short excursion." I followed him. We entereda thatched cottage; I shall never forget the sight, nor the part thegood Humanus acted on that occasion.

  [Sidenote: Toil of the Villager.]

  "On a low bed lay the very picture of wretchednes, that seemed to say,"I fly to the grave as the end of my sorrows." The feeling Humanus,whose very soul is sympathy, with soft steps approached the bed ofthe sufferer, his eyes full of tears, his heart oppressed with grief:"Live, (cried he) Heaven is kind! Who can tell what happiness is inreserve for you! I go to send for the physician, and shall immediatelyreturn. Humanus hurried home to give directions to his servant, andcame quickly back. His attentions were now renewed to the afflictedmother, for she was the wife of a poor thresher, who rises at thecrowing of the cock, and toils till the going down of the sun, tomaintain a numerous family.

  [Sidenote: The Reward of Virtue sure.]

  [Sidenote: Effects of Beneficence.]

  "He now ordered some wine, which he had brought with him, to beadministered with success: and the arrival of the doctor, who expressedhopes of her recovery, changed, I could perceive, the face of myfriend; the joy of his heart shone forth in his countenance; and neverdid he appear in my eyes more worthy and more amiable. Happy Humanus!said I to myself; the rewards of virtue are sure. Thou already enjoyestthose within thy own breast, and Heaven has still greater ones in storefor thee. May thy laudable example become more universal! He repeated,frequently his visits to the humble dwelling; nor were those visitsdropped till he saw there was little occasion for them: and the wifeof the poor thresher is now recovered from a dangerous fever, as muchthrough the sympathy of the good Humanus, as through the skill of thephysician, his tender heart prompted him to send to her aid. She nowlives useful to children; and her poor little Betty is no longer seenweeping on the village green, for the distressed state of her sufferingmother. The flail of the father now awakens echo with the dawn of themorning, and he goes on with his work rejoicing; and the whole familyis often heard to pray heaven's richest blessing on the head of theircompassionate friend and benefactor. Such are the charming effects ofbeneficence, and, such the disposition of Humanus!"

  [Sidenote: Conclusion.]

  So finished our landlord his tale, and Sir Filmer prepared for bed.I shall only ask my young reader whether, upon a review of the twocharacters, he would be an Austerus, or an Humanus?--a sordid, selfishbeing, or one who possesses a generous, a heaven-born soul? If he wouldwish to be the latter, let him endeavour to make all around him happy,and frequently call to mind the distresses of human life--the solitarycottage, and the weeping orphan--for graceful in youth is the tear ofsympathy, and benign its influence on the sons of affliction.


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