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"You must dance at weddings because 'tis the time of life. At christenings, folk will even smuggle in a reel or two, if 'tis no further than the first or second child... For my part I like a good hearty funeral as well as anything. You've as splendid victuals and drink as at other parties, and even better. And it don't wear your legs to stumps in talking over a poor fellow's ways as it do to stand up in a hornpipe."


Mr Valentine Austen, who died at Wye in Kent on Saturday August 21st, 1795, was buried on the Wednesday following. He had given very particular directions in his will with regard to his funeral, which were carefully attended to, and the singularities of it conducted in such a manner as to form a scene equally solemn and affecting. Between twelve and one o'clock, the procession set out from his house, and went that way which leads through the High Street up to the church. The bells were carefully muffled and rang a dumb peal.

The procession was preceded by two women who were formerly his hop-tyers, strewing old hops. The band, consisting of two French horns, two bassoons, two fifes, two hautboys, two violins and a long drum, played a solemn dirge all the way to the church gate. In the church (between the psalms and the Lesson) the 104th psalm was played and sung; and from the Church to the grave, the dirge was repeated. The concourse of people was astonishingly great and they behaved with order and attention, during the whole of the ceremony. Mr Austen was ever good to the poor in his life and he remembered them at his death. He ordered to the poor hop-strewers half a guinea apiece; to every poor man resident in the parish, a quart of beer and a twopenny loaf; and to every poor child, half the quantity of bread and beer. He also left £50 to the Sunday School of Wye. This eccentric man, some years before his death, had his coffin made in readiness for that event.


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