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But the fact remains, and will be for- the sounds were attributable must, I ever impressed upon my memory, that fear, remain an inexplicable mystery, the felling of the jungle at dead of night or be put down, as by the natives, to was no conjured-up fancy of a disorder- the evil machinations of a veritable ed imagination ; though to what cause " Pezazi."-Macmillan's Magasine.
BY THE AUTHOR OF “ JOHN HALIFAX, GENTLEMAN."
I.-A LITTLE MUSIC.
English drawing-room music was like
from five-and-twenty to thirty years 'Will you favor us with a little ago. music?"
In the concert-room things were not Such, in my young days, used to be much better. There were so far as I the stereotyped request. And truly the can call to mind-no educated audi“favor” was small ; likewise the grati: ences, and therefore no classical repertude. When the music began the talk. tories to suit them. Ballads and bravuras, ing began also, louder than ever, and theatrical overtures, and pots-pourris of probably only the hostess, standing operatic airs, a few showy, noisy pianopolitely by the piano, was much the forte pieces, or arrangements for violin wiser for that feebie, florid performance and fute—this was the ordinary food of "La Source, or “ Convent Bells, provided for music-lovers. Such a bill or “ Home, Sweet Home, with varia- of fare as nowadays true musicians revel tions”-very varied indeed. Perhaps, in, of Saturday afternoons at the Crystal afterward, one or two people conde- Palace, at the Philharmonic, or the scended to listen to a mild interpretation Monday Popular, was absolutely unof “She wore a wreath of roses,” or known. Nobody would have cared for even of “ The heart bowed down,” and it. I myself remember when Mendels“I dreamt that I dwelt in marble sohn's "Lieder Ohne Worte" were first halls." But any one who remembers played, here and there, and nobody listwhat was the standard of drawing-room ened to them particularly, or thought vocalism a quarter of a century ago will very much of them.
And sixteen years understand how the gentle sentimental- ago I heard a large and fashionable audiisms of Poet Bunn and Michael Balfe ence in a provincial town keep up a sufficed all our needs. A good many of steady remoreless monotone of converus young folks sang--some in tune, some sation all through one of Charles Hallé's out of tune ; it did not matter much, best Recitals. nobody listened particularly. And some People do not do that now. Whenof us could play our own accompani- ever or wherever you go to hear a Beetments-some could not. These last hoven symphony, you have the comfort · fared badly enough, falling into the of hearing it in silence. Nevertheless, hands of young ladies who " had never to a great many people might still be apbeen used to play at sight," or being plied the withering sarcasm which was hammered into nothing by some wild hurled at myself the other day, on darpianist who considered the accompani- ing to own to an artist that I did not adment everything, the voice nothing. mire all Old Masters. “Madam, there And, our performances over, the listen: are people who, if you play to them a ers or non-listeners said " Thank you !" fugue of Bach's, will answer, “ Yes, very and went on talking faster than ever. fine !' but in their hearts they prefer All had done their duty, the evening had 'Pop goes the weasel.'” been helped on by“ a little music It is in the hope of raising the masses little as possible and everybody was from this depth of musical degradation satisfied.
that I am tempted to use a little plainThis, I believe most middle-aged peo- speaking. ple will allow, is a fair picture of what If we believe, as most of us do, in our
own great superiority to our grandfath- can be nothing to the positive agonies of ers and grandmothers, why not hope those others, blessed, or cursed, with a that our grandchildren may be superior sense of time and tune, when doomed to to ourselves ? The old ways are not be auditors of “ a little music.” As to always the best ways, and the weakest the instrumental, one braces one's argument one can use against a new nerves for what is going to happen ; but thing is its being new. With unalloyed when it comes to the vocal, one often pleasure I admit in how many things I feels inclined to put one's fingers in have seen the world improve-even in one's ears and scream. The torture-I my own time. For instance, last night use the word deliberately—that it is to I heard a young lady scarcely out of her sit and smile at a smiling young lady teens give lIandel's “Whene'er you singing flat, perhaps a quarter of a tone, walk" in a thin soprano, certainly, but with the most delightful unconsciouswith perfectly true intonation and cor- ness, or pounding away at a deafening rect taste. Her mother accompanied accompaniment, which is sometimes a her, and afterward played a page or blessing, as it hides all errors of voice two of dear old Corelli in a way to re- and style! And what patience it takes fresh any musical soul. And I have
Thank you !" to a young man lately been staying in a peaceful provin- who has perhaps a really fine voice and cial family, where the father and son great love for music, but has never learnsang “ The Lord is a man of war'' ed his notes, and sings entirely from ear. almost as well as I had heard it at the Consequently his unhappy accompanyist Handel Festival the week before ; and has to run after him, stopping out a where, out of business hours, the whole crotchet here, and lengthening a quaver house was alive with music, one boy there ; abolishing time altogether, and playing the violin, another the organ, a. only too glad to be “in at the death" third the pianoforte, and all being able with a few extempore chords. Yet both to take up a glee or anthem and sing it at these young sinners probably consider sight, without hesitation or reluctance. themselves, and are considered by their
Of course this implies a consider- friends, as accomplished performers. able amount of natural musical fac- There is a delusive tradition that ulty, as well as of cultivation. The music is an “ accomplishment,” and chief reason of the low standard of those who exercise it must be perform what may be called domestic music, ers.” Whereas it is an art, or rather a in England, where professional music science, as exact a science as mathematics is as good as anywhere in Europe, is (which, perhaps, accounts for the fact not so much the lack of talent as of that many mathematicians have been education. A professional musician of also musicians), and all who pursue it long experience said to me the other day ought to be careful, conscientious, laborithat he believed everybody had a voice ous students. Thoroughness in any and an ear-a fact certainly open to thing is good and right-thoroughness in doubt. But, undoubtedly, the number music is indispensable. While “the of persons, male and female, who have pianoforte and singing" are taught voices and ears, and could-with some merely as superficial branches of educalittle trouble-be made into musicians, tion, with a view to showing off, so as to is sufficiently numerous to prove that we play a well-taught piece or sing a bravura have only ourselves to blame if the song, so long will the standard of music present state of English drawing-room remain as low as it now is among our music is--well ! all true musicians and young people. They may be performmusic-lovers know what it is, and how ers, after a fashion, but they will never much they have to endure.
be artists. For the true artist in any art I once heard a non-musical friend say thinks less of himself than of his art, of herself and another, after listening to and the great charm of music, to all an exquisitely-played trio of Mozart's, educated musicians, is that it is a com“ It was eighteen pages, and we bore it bination art. That is, the aim of it is well !" To which, of course, a laugh not—at least never should be-simply was the only possible answer. But the to exhibit one's self, but to be able to negative sufferings of unmusical people take a part in a whole, and so contribute
who is “
to the general benefit and enjoyment of reads, but an incapable violinist, an insociety. Therefore, a pianoforte player correct pianoforte player, or a singer who hasn't brought her music, out of tune, cannot possibly be secludvocalist who “doesn't know that duet ed, but must exhibit his shortcomings -has never learned it,' or a part-singer for the affliction and aggravation of
very sorry, but cannot sing at society. sight,” are a style of musicians much Therefore, let no child be taught to be deplored, and a little blamed. music who has not a natural aptitude for Until music is so taught from the first it. Decided musical talent generally that every one who pretends to love shows itself early. Many children sing and practise it shall be capable of do- before they can speak. I have written ing this in concert with others, of sitting down, with the date affixed, so that down to play an accompaniment at sight, there could be no mistake, more than or reading a part in a glee as easily as one actual tune invented and sung by a out of a printed book, I fear we cannot small person of three years old. But be considered a musical nation. And it the negative to these positive instances would be better for us if we were, since is less easily ascertained. The musical, of all the arts music is the most social, like many another faculty, develops and sympathy therein the most delightful more or less rapidly according to the atand the most humanizing.
mosphere it grows in. And there is Another superstition of the last gene- always a certain period of “grind” so ration I should also like to drag to light very distasteful that many a child will and annihilate. It was considered right declare it “ hates music,” and wish to and fitting that young ladies—all young give it up, when a little perseverance ladies-should learn music, to sing if would make of it an excellent musician. they could, but at all events to play. I am no cultivated musician myself-I Young ladies only. The idea of a boy wish, with all my heart, the hard work playing the piano was scouted entirely. of life had allowed me to be! but I feel
Now, both boys and girls who show grateful now for having been compelled, any aptitude for music should be taught three times over, amid many tears, to it without hesitation. Nay, for some learn my notes,” which was nearly all things, the advantage is greater to boys the instruction destiny ever vouchsafed than to girls. It is a common complaint me. -how very helpless a man is without Nevertheless, I believe I did a good his work! Should sickness or other deed the other day. A mother said to necessity keep him away from it he goes me, “My child is thirteen, and has been moping about the house, restless and working at music ever since she was mournful, as cross as two sticks,” a
She has no ear and no taste. torment to everybody, and, above all, to If she plays a false note, she never himself. Women have always plenty to knows it. Yet she practises very conbusy themselves withal-employment for scientiously two hours a day. What heads and fingers ; but men, unless must I do?" My answer was brief : blessed with some special hobby, have Shut the piano and never let her open almost nothing.
The advice was taken, and But then, as I said, music must be the girl, who now spends that unhappy studied as an art, and not as a mere two hours upon other things, especially amusement. Whether or not my clever drawing, in which she is very diligent professor be right, and everybody has a and very clever, would doubtless bless voice and ear, only needing cultivation me in her heart if she knew all. more or less, still, in many cases, it re- But the love of music, which she had quires the more and not the less, not, often exists without great talent for
Everything that is worth doing at all it. Still in such cases cultivation can is worth doing well," and music is one do much. Many vocalists, professional of those things which if not done well and otherwise, have begun by being vox is better left undone, for the sake of et præterea nihil—that is, possessing a other folk. A man may hide his feeble fine organ, but no skill in using it. sketches in his portfolio, and publish his While, on the other hand, many delightbad poetry in books which nobody ful singers, I recall especially Thomas
Moore and Sheridan Knowles, have had the little soul, should there be a musical scarcely any voice at all. The expres- soul, will soon wake up-will compresion, the taste, the reading of a song are hend the why and wherefore of the most as essential and delightful as the voice wearisome of scales and the hardest of to sing it with ; and these last long after exercises, and conceive an ambition not nature's slow but inevitable decay has merely to “play a piece," but to betaken away what to a singer is always a come a true musician. sore thing to part with, so
The too early playing of pieces or many are very long-far too long !-in singing of songs is the most fatal thing recognizing this. Sadder to themselves possible. It substitutes clap-trap for even than to their listeners is the dis- pure taste, and outside effect for covery that now, when they really know thoroughness of study. It is also very how to sing a song, they have not the bad for the young performer. Many a physical power of singing it.
nervous child can play well enough But art, cultivation, and a little time- alone, but if set to show off before a ly clear-sightedness-or clear-hearing- room full of indifferent people is absoness—can prop up many a failing voice. lutely paralyzed. And an inferior child Any one who remembers how Braham who is not nervous is probably made insang at seventy-five will acknowledge tolerably self-conceited by this showing this. A then young, but now elderly off, which foolish parents applaud and musician, once told me how he remem- are delighted with, ignorant that the true bered having had to accompany the aim and end of music is first the delight great tenor in the “ Bay of Biscay,of the musician himself, and next that given with a fire and force almost in- he should be able, either singly or as credible in a septuagenarian, and re- part in a whole, to contibute to the deceived with thunders of encores. “My light of other people. Cultivated people boy,” whispered Braham,“ play it half first, but likewise all people ; for, in a tone lower.” Again it was given, and spite of my friend's severe remark about again encored. Half a tone lower "Pop goes the weasel," I believe that still," said the old vocalist ; " they'll the very highest art is also the simplest, never find us out.” Nor did they. and therefore will always touch the And the applause after the third effort masses ; perhaps far more than art a dewas loudest of all, so completely did art gree lower and more complex. There conceal the defects of failing nature, may be two opinions upon Beethoven's But suppose the singer had not been an "Mount of Olives," grand as it is; but artist, or the accompanyist had only un- I think the veriest clown that ever derstood a little music, and been in- breathed could not listen unmoved to capable of transposing the song " half a Handel's "Halleluj
Hallelujah Chorus, or to tone?''
what, after twenty-five years, I rememIf music is studied at all it ought to ber as the perfect expression of musical be studied thoroughly, and from the very art and religious faith-Clara Novello's first. Parents are apt to think that any; singing, of I know that my Redeemer body can teach music to a child, and liveth. that any sort of piano is good enough It is art such as this, and taste cultifor a child to practise on. No mistake vated so as to be able to appreciate it, can be more fatal. A child who is fit which I would desire to see put in place to be taught at all should be taught by a of that “ little music" which, like little capable musician with intelligence learning, is " dangerous thing. enough to make the groundwork not Dangerous, in the first place, because merely superficial, but solid ; and not all shallow and superficial acquirements only solid, but interesting. A great deal must be so ; and secondly, because it of the preliminary study of music is not inclines to a system of personal display at all interesting unless the teacher at small cost, which is always the detethoroughly understands it, and takes the rioration of true art. Surely it would trouble to make the child understand it be none the worse for us in England-it -the infinite and complicated beauty of is not in Germany—if, instead of each the science of harmony, in opposition to person being taught to sing or play for the dulness of mere strumming. Then himself, more or less badly, the general
aim of musical education was that every And here let me end with one pas. member of every family should try to be sionate and indignant protest against the able to take part in a simple family con- habit which ill-conditioned guests incert-classical chamber music or pleas- dulge in, and timid hosts and hostesses ant after-dinner part-songs and glees. allow, of talking during music, a breach
In the good old times probably it was of good-manners and good-feeling which so. Pepys's Diary" seemed to imply whenever it is found, either in public or that in his day everybody could bear a private, should be put a stop to firmly hand, or a voice, in an after-supper and remorselessly. If people do not like catch ; and farther back still we have music they need not listen to it ; they plenty of evidence that the Elizabethan can go away. But any person who finds soldiers thought none the worse
of himself at a concert, or in a drawingthemselves for being able, not only to room where music is going on, and sing, but to compose an Elizabethan does not pay it the respect of total madrigal.
silence, is severely to be reprehended. But even in my own generation I have To recapitulate in a few words the aim seen music advance so much that I have of this “Plain-Speaking."
Let every hope in the good time coming," which child, boy or girl, be taught music, or often casts its shadow before. It did on tried to be taught, till found incapable. me the other day at a garden-party, where In that case, abolish music altogether, one of Mendelssohn's concertos for piano, and turn to more congenial and useful violin, and violoncello was given by three studies. Secondly, let no one pretend young people, not professional, in a to learn music who does not really love manner that Mendelssohn himself would it, but let those who do study it well have liked to hear. Afterward and thoroughly, so far as the work of brother and sister played a Handel duet life will allow, always remembering that
– violin and piano-after a fashion that the aim of their studies is not to exhibit implied many a pleasant evening of fra- themselves, but the music—for the best ternal practising. And in the singing, of musicians is only an interpreter of though one voice was a little past its first other people's language. There are youth, and the other owed more to cul- endless varieties of language to choose tivation than nature, and the third, from ; each reader may have a different which was exceedingly beautiful-well, taste and different style ; nay, I will go the luckless accompanyist had now and so far as to say that he who plays “ Pop then to count five crotchets in a bar in goes the weasel
goes the weasel " with spirit, force, and order to keep time--still every vocalist accuracy, is not at all to be despised. showed taste, feeling, and expression, But one thing is inexorably right and and every song was well chosen and necessary—let every one who does anypleasant to hear. Between whiles peo- thing in the science of sweet sounds try ple wandered to the simple tea-table un- to do it as well as he possibly can. der one tree, and the fruit-table under Then, haply, we shall gradually cease another, but they always came and filled to be “favored” with that great abomithe music-room-filled it, I am glad to nation to all appreciative souls—“ a say, with an audience that was perfectly little music !”—Good Words. silent.
FROM THE FRENCH OF PAUL DÉROULède.
The air is keen, the line is long,
The Zouave column chaunts the prayer :
And Prussians wait us there.