Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

"Mons-zat ees, Meester ze Caurnel-you maek me too mautch honneur. I am ge-lad, very ge-lad-and how are ze troupes? Av zey bonne santé, or arr zey malades, loike zees sacrés tupps ov Mr. Snortair? Say, zen, arr sey malades? for I av' von grrand speeceefeek." "Tak' tent, Caurnel," whispered the proprietor of the tups.

The Colonel repressed a grim smile, saying, "You are too kind, Viscount; my men are, I thank you, in perfect health.”

"Dommage!" muttered the Viscount, "I vood hav' geeven zem

l'elisir."

"Dinner is on the table, gentlemen," announced the butler.

66

Snorter," said the Colonel, with a wave of the hand, "will you lead the way? Viscount, will you follow the Snorter ? "

"Na, na!" said the Snorter, "menners is menners: it's my ain hoose; gang yer ways, Caurnel, wi' the Veecoont, and I'll bring up the rair wi' ane o' yer young men."

The Colonel, shrugging his shoulders to imply that an eccentric must be humoured, offered his arm to the Frenchman, and the procession moved off. The Snorter remained, grimacing as we passed. M'Nish, with the modesty of the last-joined, let every one pass him also, and thus fell an easy prey to the "haraidatary keeper."

"Gie me yer airm, my man," said that functionary, "and we'll gang thegither—' crabbit age and youth;' but, eh! man, ye look awfu' glumpy; it's crabbit youth and age, I doot; whaat's comed till the callant ?"

"Indeed, Mr., I did not quite catch the title," said M'Nish. "Snoarter!" snorted its proprietor.

"I beg pardon, Mr. Snorter”

"There's nae Muster till't-The Snorter."

"A thousand pardons, but really I have only joined to-day, and I am so unused to these scenes-Demerara is so different from Scotland; and your titles and everything are a-a-a-so bewildering, and I don't think I don't think (you'll consider me an ass, I know) I shall ever get on in this regiment; and I'm not an Irishman."

[ocr errors]

Hoot, laddie! hoot, man, and gif ye was-whaat fore no? There's Brian Boroo, and Magillicuddy Reeks, and Cruiskeen Lawn, a' ken't folk, and 'sponsible gentlemen for a' they be Irish. Ne'er hang yer head for that; and Dugald and Sennacherib, they'll no harm ye; and the Caurnel, he's a thrawn cratur', but he means weel, and ye'll leeve to be Caurnel o' the Strathbungies yersel', and aiblins a snoarter-wha kens ? "

These crumbs of comfort were dispensed as we passed into the mess-room and took our seats; the Colonel at the head of the table, on his right the Viscount, supported by an adept in plain clothes; on his left the Snorter, supported by M'Nish, beside whom I took up my position. Sennacherib stood behind the Viscount, and Dugald behind the Snorter, having deposited one key, knife and fork fashion, on either side of his master's plate.

"An' ye're fae Demerarra a' the way?" continued the comforter; "an' what kin' o' bestial do the folk rin tull thereawa'?"

"I'm not aware," said M'Nish, whose temper was giving way under nervous excitement-"I'm not aware that the people in Demerara are more bestial than the people in Scotland."

"Hoot, man, ye misunderstaun'-is it nowt or sheep they breed maist o'? Ye see, jist at this praisent time I'm sair fashed wi' my tups, and-"

"Ah, ha! ha! ze tupps again; but I have my speeceefik," said the Viscount.

"Let me entreat you, Viscount," whispered the Colonel, in a loud aside, "not to encourage our friend to talk on these discreditable topics; he forgets his noble lineage and lofty position in hobby for breeding sheep and cattle. Let us change the subject and make him ashamed of himself; and, Viscount," he continued aloud, 66 what is the state of your political atmosphere in France?"

"Ah! ze poliwick," said he, "I daunot knaw; eet ees baad, but I knaw not mauch. I am relegaated. I am in vat you call ze baad smells-no-how say you ? in baad odeur wiz ze gooverrment, and eet ees long time I was not een Ferrance, and aal is shaynge perhaps. I had speeceefik, voyez-vous? I sed, kaut me off ze hedd of zees sacré cochin Louis Philippe-kaut eet off, and mack eat zat polisson, zat brrigand Guizot, maek heem eat ze hedd of ze bourgeoise bête, perruque and aal. Zat was my leetel arrenchment. Zey wood notzey veesh eat Peaugout. I daunot loike, and pendant won week, I was la cuisinière, ze shemale cook of Monsieur Broon (Angleesh), een hees cautch to ze sea and een hees yautch to Angleterre, vare me voici, yet again Peaugout! Ha! ha! Vive la Republique! eet veal comm, and zen vee veel comm manger ze Angleesh. Monsieur le Colonel, je vous mangerai."

"Thank you, Viscount," said the Colonel, "but my humble decorations may show you that the French have already had an opportunity of doing so, and have not taken advantage of it."

"Ah, you

arr ole, you arr tuff loike zese Tu-(pardon!)

Steel I veel devawer you my teere! Eef zese poltrons of Irlandais

"Hush! my dear Viscount," said the Colonel. "You must respect national susceptibilities. Our mess rules are stringent, and we must say nothing that might lead to violence. Mr. M'Nish has already shown symptoms of an ungovernable temper, and I cannot answer for him."

"Ah, Monsieur M'Sneesh," said the Viscount, good-naturedly, noticing his distress, "let us drink togezer; vee arr ze appressed nashionaltés; let us dreenk, 'confound ze Angleesh,' and vee veel eat ze Corrnel, you and I, and you shal hav' hees corrk legg!"

There was a general titter, supposed to be at the Colonel's expense, who looked grim, thereby appeasing M'Nish a little.

"Weel," said the Snorter, "I'll no say but the corrk limb wad be the mair nutreetious o' the twae, for the Caurnel's nae invitin' morsel, the auld howtowdy."

Again there was a titter, which the Colonel, though looking black as thunder, thought fit to take no notice of, and changed the subject.

"May I ask, Viscount," said he, "where you got that remarkably fine retainer? His appearance delights me; his dignity is so truly Oriental, and what some of us who sit in high places" (a scourge-like glance at the Snorter) "might imitate with advantage."

"Ah, Sennacheribs; vell, I faund heem."

"Found him, my dear Viscount? How very delightful!"

"Ye-es. I vos vees my regiment, Chasseurs d'Afrique, een Algerie. I go for le sport in too ze desarte, and I foind heem zare." "Does he speak French ?"

"Gnaw-zat ees, won, two, tree vord. Par example, Comment vous portez-vous, Mons. Sennacherib ?'"

"Trick biang," glugged the Moor, in guttural accents. "Ah, very interesting," cried the Colonel.

Arab click, I observe."

"Deevel doot him," growled the Snorter. ye a' aboot that."

"He has the true

"Oor Kirsty could tell

I have already said that my role for the evening was to be that of a newly-married young lady, bride of one of the officers; and it was arranged that I should have a tea-party after mess, at which all should be present for the purpose of making my acquaintance. So about this time I made an excuse, and retired from the dinner-table to my tiring-room.

Encores.

THE approach of the spring and summer season of music in London promises to revive an old vexed question in the economy of concerts. In a short time we shall be once more plunged into the whirl of numberless soirées and matinées. "Recitals," slow and sombre in character; "choral performances;" "historical concerts," with their dry and dusty illustrations; "ballad concerts," with their wearisome reiteration of the half-dozen new songs of the year; the portentously classic and the noisily popular; the semi-sacred and the wholly profane; added to the legion of benefit performances-from the dead level of which one or two "monstre concerts" stand delusively forth-make up a total from which a less indurated public than that of London in the dog-days might well shrink appalled. But to the well-seasoned Londoner whose knowledge of the three early summer months is a yearly-repeated experience, this multitudinous infliction presents few terrors. Recalling the story of the clock pendulum which considered the necessity of ticking sixty times in every minute, involving no less than 86,400 ticks every day, an insupportable piece of labour, until it was reminded that if it was required to tick sixty times per minute, it had at least a whole minute allotted it to perform that task, the Londoner consoles himself with a similar reflection. If he has to go through some dozen musical performances in the course of the week, he at any rate knows the limit of the infliction. The penal term is only three months in duration. So rapid a course of life could not possibly bear a longer stretch, the surplus of oxygen in the social atmosphere would otherwise exhaust vitality. We cannot keep up the high pressure for a long time in succession; and the weary denizen of the stalls can look forward to the breezy moors, the cool sands, the peaceful pastures, that are to come. He may console himself with this prospect, and in the interim he may calculate the exact strain put upon his faculties, and the amount of endurance requisite to meet it. Five minutes' patience to endure this feeble ballad; three quarters of an hour's repression during that sonata; a stray whiff of pleasure for the next opera movement, counterbalanced by the tedium of the succeeding concerto in endless parts. He could fore-reckon on the precise amount of fortitude necessary to enable him "to suffer and be strong," but for one unfortunate item, which throws him out of all calculation. In

balancing his books he has to leave a wide and unsatisfactory margin for encores. He can never be certain where an encore will come in, disturb his reckoning, and induce a superadded strain on the faculty of endurance. In the philosophy which consoled the clock pendulum, no proviso was ever made for the necessity of encores; the bargain distinctly was for sixty ticks, and a whole minute allowed; the proposition that, in consideration of efficiency in ticking, some fifty per cent. of vibrations should be required, would have invalidated the whole arrangement at once. But the theory of encores involves this monstrous proposition, that the more efficiently the labour is performed, the greater stress is put upon the labourer; so that, if he be perfectly effective, he shall be required to perform his task two if not three times over.

But, it may be said in defence of the system, the encore is simply a compliment paid to the artist. In exceptional cases it may be so considered. There are, we admit, performers in plenty who accept a bis as the legitimate tribute to their genius, and who are terribly disappointed if they do not earn this favour. The new pianist, for instance, charged with an excess of vanity derived from the exaggerated reception of his instrumental fireworks on the Continent, is quite content that his acrobatic exhibition with one hand should be interrupted in the midst by the efforts of a friendly claque. His supercilious face brightens at the applause of that crowd who mistake his gymnastics for genius. His walk from the piano-modelled on the strut of Hyde Park loungers demonstrates his prodigious self-satisfaction. To him the encore is an unmixed blessing, for he lives for ostentation, not for art. Or, to take another example, the rising vocalist, whose triumphs have hitherto been confined to suburban platforms, is delighted with every bis which advances his position towards St. James's Hall. Far different is it with the tried and conscientious artist. To him the encore is so habitual that it ceases to have any value; it becomes simply an infliction. A "recall" would convey quite as eloquently the praise of the multitude. In fact, a recall to the platform has the full worth of an encore as a complimentary demonstration, while at the same time it imposes no inconvenience. Sometimes, too, the unity of a musical masterpiece is destroyed by the enforced repetition of one portion. A sonata, for instance, is constructed so as to elaborate, according to the intention of the composer, a certain defined succession of ideas. To repeat one of the movements is to upset the effect of the whole. It is like a sum in proportion, or an algebraic equation, where yon cannot double one of the quantities and expect the result to be the

« ZurückWeiter »