Pencil Sketches; or, Outlines of Character and Manners, page 14
"Sleep you, or wake you, lady bright?"--LEWIS.
"And now tell me the reason of your giving us the slip on Tuesdaynight," said Charles Cavender to Frederick Merrill, as they came out ofcourt together, and walked into the shade of the beautiful double row oflinden trees that interlace their branches in front of the PhiladelphiaState House, perfuming the atmosphere of early summer with the fragranceof their delicate yellow blossoms.
"To tell you the truth," replied Merrill, "I never had much fancy forthese regular serenading parties. And as, on Tuesday night, I had apresentiment that the course of ours was not going to run smoothly, andas I found it impossible to play with such a second as DickDoubletongue, I resigned my flute to Walton, and went home for myguitar, being very much in the notion of taking a ramble on my ownaccount, and giving a little unpretending music to several pretty girlsof my own acquaintance."
"Ah! that guitar!" exclaimed Cavender: "Since you first heard Segura, noSpaniard can be more completely fascinated with the instrument. And, todo Segura justice, he has made an excellent guitar player of you, andcultivated your voice with great success."
"But how did you proceed after I left you?" asked Merrill.
"Oh! very well!" replied Cavender; "only that infernal piano, that HarryFingerley insisted on being brought along with us, was prettyconsiderable of a bore."
"So I thought," responded Merrill; "to me there appeared something tooabsurd in conveying through the streets at night so cumbrous aninstrument--carrying it on a hand-barrow, like porters."
"Well," observed Cavender, "there were, however, enough of us to relieveeach other every square. By-the-bye, I suspect that your true reason fordeserting was to avoid taking your turn in carrying the piano."
"You are not far wrong," replied Merrill, smiling.
"It was a ridiculous business," resumed Cavender. "As Fingerley cannottouch an instrument without his notes, and always chooses to show off indifficult pieces, a lantern was brought along, which one of us wasobliged to hold for him whenever he played. Unluckily, a music stool hadbeen forgotten, and poor Harry, who, you know, is one of the talleststriplings in town, was obliged to play kneeling: and he wore the kneesof his pantaloons threadbare, in getting through a long concerto ofBeethoven's, before Miss Flickwire's door."
"To what place did you go after I left you?" inquired Merrill.
"Oh! to serenade that saucy flirt, Miss Lawless, Frank Hazeldon's flame.We ranged ourselves in front of the house, set down the piano and itselegant supporter, the hand-barrow, upon the pavement, and all struck upthe Band March, with our eyes turned upwards, expecting that we shouldsee the shutters gently open, and the pretty faces of Lucy Lawless andher two sisters slyly peeping down at us. But we looked in vain. Noshutters opened, and no faces peeped."
"Perhaps," said Merrill, "the family were all out of town?"
"No, no," replied Cavender; "a bright light shone through the fan-glassover the door, which opened at last, just as we had concluded the BandMarch, and out came Bogle, followed by two or three other waiters ofrather a more decided colour, who stood a little aloof. 'Gentlemen,'said Bogle, 'Miss Lawless desires her respects and compliments to youall, and wishes me to inquire if there is one Mr. Hazeldon amongyou?'--'Yes; I am Mr. Hazeldon,' said Frank, stepping out.--'Then,'resumed Bogle, with his usual flourish of hand, 'Miss Lawless presentsher further respects and compliments, and requests me to make youacquainted that she has a party to-night, and as Frank Johnson waspre-engaged, and could not come, she desires you will play a fewcotillions for the company to dance--and if there are any moregentlemen-fiddlers present, she will thank them to play too.'
"There was a general burst of mingled indignation and laughter. Some ofthe serenaders advanced to put Bogle into the gutter, but he verynaturally resisted, justly declaring that he ought not to be punishedfor obeying the lady's orders, and delivering the messagesystematically, as he termed it.
"The windows of the front parlour were now thrown open, and Miss Lawlesswith her sisters appeared at them, dressed in lace and flowers. Bothparlours were lighted up with chandeliers, and filled with company.
"'Mr. Hazeldon,' said Miss Lawless, 'you and your friends have comeprecisely at the right time. Nothing could be more apropos than yourarrival. We were all engaged with the ice-creams and jellies while youwere playing the Band March (which, to do you justice, you performedvery respectably), or we should have sent Bogle out to you before. Pray,Mr. Hazeldon, give us "Love was once a little boy;"--it makes anexcellent cotillion--and we shall then be able to decide between themerits of your band and that of Mr. Francis Johnson.'--'But we are allgentlemen, madam,' said the simple Bob Midgely, 'and this is aserenade.'--'The more convenient,' replied Miss Lawless, who is really avery handsome girl; 'a serenade may thus be made to answer a doublepurpose--killing two birds with one stone, in proverbial parlance.'
"Poor Frank Hazeldon was so much annoyed as to be incapable of reply,being also vexed and mortified at having no invitation to hislady-love's party.
"But I went forward, and said to Miss Lawless, that if she and herfriends would come out, and perform their cotillions on the pavement, wewould have much pleasure in playing for them. To this she replied, thatshe now perceived we had no tambourine with us, and that a dance withoutthat enlivening instrument must always be a very spiritless affair.Therefore she would excuse, for the present, the services of Mr.Hazeldon and his musical friends.
"She then closed the window, and we bowed and moved off; resolved thatfor the future we would take care to avoid the awkward _contre-tems_ ofserenading a lady when she is in the act of having a party. FrankHazeldon loudly protested against the insolence of his dulcinea, 'who,'said he, 'would not dare to say and do such things, only that she knowsherself to be (as she certainly is), the most beautiful creature on theface of the earth.' However, he averred that he had done with MissLawless entirely, and would scrupulously avoid all further acquaintancewith her, now that she had not only affronted himself, but his friends.We advised him to consider it not so deeply."
"He seems to have taken your advice," observed Merrill; "for there heis, just turning the corner of Sixth street with her--she laughing athim as usual, and he, as usual, thankful to be laughed at by her. Butwhere else did you go?"
"We went to two other places," replied Cavender; "where nothingparticular happened, except that at one of them the ladies threw flowersdown to us. Afterwards, Dick Doubletongue proposed our going into Marketstreet to serenade two very pretty girls, the daughters of a wealthytradesman, who, being an old-fashioned man, persevered in theconvenience of living in the same house in which he kept his store.Unluckily, it was the night before market-day. We began with 'Life letus cherish,' which Dick assured us was a special favourite with theyoung ladies--and our music soon aroused the market-people, some of whomwere sleeping in their carts that stood in the street, others, wrappedin coverlets, were bivouacking on the stalls in the market-house, to beready on the spot for early morning. They started up, jumped down,gathered around us, and exclaimed--'Well, did ever!'--'Now, that's whatI call music!'--'There, Polly, there's the right sort of fiddling foryou!'--'Well, this beats _me_!'--'Law, Suz!--how they do play itup!'--and other equally gratifying expressions. And one woman called outto her husband--'Here, daddy, take up the baby, and bring him out of thecart, and let him hear some music-playing, now he has a chance.' So thebaby was brought, and daddy held him close up to the flute-players, andthe baby cried, as all babies should do when they are taken up in thenight to hear music.
"To crown all, the concert was joined by a dozen calves, who awoke fromtheir uneasy slumbers in the carts, and began bleating in chorus; and bythe crowing of various fowls, and the quacking of various ducks thatwere tied by the legs in pairs, and lying under the stalls. Every momentfresh market-carts came jolting and rattling over the stones, and wewould have gone away at the conclusion of 'Life let us cherish,' onlythat Dick begged us to remain till we saw some indications of
"The combination of noises that accompanied your Market streetserenade," observed Merrill, "reminds me of a ridiculous incident thatoccurred one night, when I and my flute were out with Tom Clearnote andSam Startlem; Clearnote having his Kent bugle, and Startlem making hisfirst public essay on the trombone, which he had taken a fancy to learn.We went to a house in Chestnut street, where there were three charminggirls, who we soon saw had all properly disposed themselves forlistening at the windows. We commenced with the March in Masaniello.Unfortunately, Sam Startlem, from having a cold, or some other cause,and being but a novice on the trombone, found it impossible to fill theinstrument, or to produce any sound but a sort of hollow croak, thatwent exactly like 'Fire! fire!'--the cry which so often frights our townfrom its propriety.
"Just then the watchman was passing with a dog that always followed him,and that had a habit of howling whenever he heard the alarm of fire. Onmeeting the strange sounds, half guttural, half nasal, from Startlem'strombone, he very naturally mistook them for the announcement of aconflagration, and set up his customary yell. In a few minutes, theboys issued from all quarters, according to their practice, by day andby night whenever there is anything to be seen or heard that promises amob. The supposed cry of fire was reiterated through the street; andspread all round. Presently two or three engines came scampering along,bells ringing, trumpets braying, torches flaring, and men shouting--allrunning they knew not whither; for as yet the bell of the State Househad not tolled out its unerring signal.
[Footnote 83: Fact.]
"In the general confusion, we thought it best to cease playing, andquietly decamp, being ashamed (for the honour of our musicians) toinform the firemen of the real cause of the mistake; so we gladly stoleout of the crowd, and turned into a private street.--But excuse me forinterrupting you.--Finish your narrative."
"There is little more to be said," resumed Cavender. "By the time we hadafforded sufficient amusement to the market-people, the moon had longsince set, and the stars begun to fade. So we all put up ourinstruments, and wearily sought our dwelling-places;--Harry Fingerleywisely hiring relays of black men to carry home the piano.
"But we have been talking long enough under these trees," continuedCavender; "let us walk up Chestnut street together, and tell me whatbefell yourself while serenading according to the fashion of OldCastile. Of course, you went first to Miss Osbrook?"
"I did," replied Merrill, smiling, and colouring a little; "and I playedand sung for her, in my very best style, several of my very best songs.And I was rewarded by obtaining a glimpse of a graceful white figure atthe window, as she half unclosed it, and seeing a white hand (halfhidden by a ruffle) resting gently on one of the bars of the Venetianshutter--and as the moon was then shining brightly down, I knew that mydivine Emily also saw _me_.
"From thence I went to the residence of a blooming Quaker girl, who, Iunderstood from a mutual friend, had expressed a great wish for aserenade. She came to the window, and was soon joined by an old nurse,who, I found by their conversation, had been kindly awakened by theconsiderate Rebecca, and invited by her to come to the front room andlisten to the music; on which the half-dozing matron made no comment,but that 'sometimes the tune went away up, and sometimes it went rightdown.'
"Having commenced with 'The Soldier's Bride,' I was somewhat surprisedat the martial propensities of the fair Quakeress, who in a loud whisperto her companion, first wished that Frederick Merrill (for she had atonce recognised me) would play and sing 'The Soldier's Tear,' and then'The Soldier's Gratitude.' When I had accomplished both these songs, Iheard her tell the old woman, that she was sure 'The Battle of Prague'would go well on the guitar. This performance, however, I did not thinkproper to undertake, and I thereupon prepared to withdraw, to theaudible regret of the lovely Rebecca.
"As I directed my steps homeward, I happened to pass the house of ayoung lady whose family and mine have long been somewhat acquainted, andwho has acquired (I will not say how deservedly) a most unfortunate_sobriquet_. At a fancy ball, last winter, she appeared in the characterof Sterne's Maria, dressed in a white jacket and petticoat, with vineleaves in her hair, and a flageolet suspended by a green riband over oneshoulder. Her mother, a very silly and illiterate woman, announced heras 'Strange Maria'--absurdly introducing her by that title, and sayingrepeatedly through the evening to gentlemen as well as to ladies--'Haveyou seen my daughter yet?--Have you seen Strange Maria?--There she is,sitting in that corner, leaning her head upon her hand--it is a part ofher character to sit so--and when she is tired, she gets up and dances.She appears to-night as Strange Maria, and it suits exactly, as her nameis really Maria. Her aunt, Mrs. Fondlesheep, chose the character for herout of some book, and Madame Gaubert made the jacket.'
"From that night, the poor girl has gone unconsciously by this foolishnickname. And, unfortunately, she is almost as much of a simpleton asher mother, though she was educated at a great boarding-school, and saida great many long lessons.
"I took my seat on the marble carriage-step in front of the house, andthe moon having declined, I played and sung 'Look out upon the stars, mylove.' Soon after I commenced, I saw a window in the second story thrownopen, and the literal Maria doing exactly as she was bid, in earnestlysurveying the stars--turning her head about that she might take a viewof them in every direction.
"I then began the beautiful serenading song of 'Lilla, come down to me,'with no other motive than that of hearing myself sing it. At theconclusion of the air, the front door softly opened, and Strange Mariaappeared at it, dressed in a black silk frock, with a bonnet and shawl,and carrying a bundle under her arm.
"She looked mysterious, and beckoned to me. I approached her, somewhatsurprised. She put the bundle into my hands, and laying her finger onher lips, whispered--'All's safe--we can get off now--I have just hadtime to put up a change of clothes, and you must carry them for me.'
"'My dear Miss Maria,' said I, 'what is it you mean? Excuse me forsaying that I do not exactly comprehend you.'
"'Now, don't pretend to be so stupid,' was the damsel's reply; 'did younot invite me in the song to come down and run away with you? You sungit so plain that I heard every word. There could not be a betteropportunity, for ma's in the country, and there is never any danger ofwaking pa.'
"'Really, Miss Maria,' said I, 'allow me to say that you have totallymisunderstood me.'
"'No such thing,' persisted the young lady. 'Did I not hear you over andover again say, "Lilla, come down to me?" Though I never was allowed tosee a play or read a novel, I am not such a fool that I cannotunderstand when people want to run away with me. By Lilla you of coursemeant me, just as much as if you had said Maria.'
"'On my honour,' I expostulated, 'you are entirely mistaken. Only permitme to explain'--
"'Nonsense,' interrupted the lady; 'the song was plain enough. And so Igot ready, and stole down stairs as quickly as possible. AldermanPickwick always sits up late at night, and rises before day to write forthe newspapers. He lives just round the corner, and never objects tomarry any couple that comes to him. So let's be off.'
"'I entreat you,' said I, 'to listen to me for one moment.'
"'Did you bring a ring with you?' continued the fair eloper, whosepresent volubility surprised me no less than her pertinacity, havinghitherto considered her as one of the numerous young ladies t
"'A ring!' I repeated; 'you must pardon me, but I really had no suchthought.'
"'How careless!' exclaimed Maria. 'Don't you know that plain rings arethe only sort used at weddings? I wish I had pulled one off the windowcurtain before I came down. I dare say, Squire Pickwick would nevernotice whether it was brass or gold.'
"'There is no need of troubling yourself about a ring,' said I.
"'True,' replied she, 'Quakers get married without, and why should notwe? But come, we must not stand parleying here. You can't think, Mr.Merrill, how glad I am that you came for me before any one else. I wouldmuch rather run away with you, than with Mr. Simpson, or Mr. Tomlins, orMr. Carter. Pa' says if ever he does let me marry, he'll choose for mehimself, and I have no doubt he'll choose some ugly fright. Fathers aresuch bad judges of people.'
"'Miss Maria,' said I, 'you mistake me entirely, and this error must berectified at once. I must positively undeceive you.'
"At that moment, the door half opened--a hand was put out, and seizingthe arm of Maria, drew her forcibly inside. The door was then shut, anddouble locked; and I heard her receding voice, loudly exclaiming--'Oh!pa'--now, indeed, pa'--who'd have thought, pa', that you were listeningall the time!'
"I stood motionless with joy and surprise at this opportune release--andI recollected that once during our scene on the door-step, I had thoughtI heard footsteps in the entry.
"Presently the father put his head out of his own window and said tome--'Young man, you may go, I have locked her up.'--I took him at hisword and departed, not a little pleased at having been extricated in sosummary a way from the dilemma in which the absurdity of Strange Mariahad involved me."
* * * * *
About a week after this conversation, Cavender inquired of his friend,who was visiting him at his office, if he had again been out solus on aserenading excursion.
"No," replied Merrill, "I have had enough of that nonsense. There is nobetter cure for folly, and particularly for romantic folly, than a goodburlesque; and I find I have been parodied most ridiculously by thatprince of fools, old Pharaby, the bachelor in an auburn wig and corsets,that lives next door to Miss Osbrook. This said Pharaby assumes apenchant for my opposite neighbour, the rich and handsome young widow,Mrs. Westwyn. Taking a hint from my serenading Emily Osbrook, but faroutdoing me, he has every night since presented himself under thewindows of the fair widow, and tinkled a guitar--which instrument heprofesses to have learned during a three months' consulship in one ofthe Spanish West India Islands. He plays Spanish, but sings Italian; andwith a voice and manner to make Paggi tear his hair, and Pucci drop downdead.
"Mrs. Westwyn, whom I escorted home last evening from a visit to MissOsbrook, was congratulating herself on the appearance of rain; as itwould of course prevent her from being disturbed that night by her usualserenader, the regularity of whose musical visitations had become, shesaid, absolutely intolerable.
"About twelve o'clock, however, I heard the customary noise in front ofMrs. Westwyn's house, notwithstanding that the rain had set in, and wasfalling very fast. I looked out, and beheld the persevering inamoratostanding upright beneath the shelter of an umbrella held over his headby a black man, and twitching the strings of his guitar to the air of'Dalla gioja.' I was glad when the persecuted widow, losing allpatience, raised her sash, and in a peremptory tone, commanded him todepart and trouble her no more; threatening, if he ever again repeatedthe offence, to have him taken into custody by the watchman. PoorPharaby was struck aghast; and being too much disconcerted to offer anapology, he stood motionless for a few moments, and then replacing hisguitar in its case, and tucking it under his arm, he stole off round thecorner, his servant following close behind with the umbrella. From thatmoment I abjured serenades."
"What! all sorts?" inquired Cavender.
"All," replied Merrill--"both gregarious and solitary. The truth is, Ithis morning obtained the consent of the loveliest of women to make methe happiest of men, this day three months; and therefore I havesomething else to think of than strumming guitars or blowing flutesabout the streets at night."
"I congratulate you, most sincerely," said Cavender, shaking hands withhis friend; "Miss Osbrook is certainly, as the phrase is, possessed ofevery qualification to render the marriage state happy. And though I andmy other associates in harmony have not so good an excuse for leavingoff our musical rambles, yet I believe we shall, at least, give them uptill next summer--and perhaps, by that time, we may have devised someother means of obtaining the good graces of the ladies."
"But apropos to music," continued Cavender; "if I can obtain my sister'spermission, I will show you a letter she received some time since from ayoung friend of hers with whom she is engaged in a whimsicalcorrespondence under fictitious names, somewhat in imitation of theladies of the last century. Both girls have been reading the Spectator,and have consequently taken a fancy to the Addisonian plan ofoccasionally throwing their ideas into the form of dreams or visions;addressing each other as Ariella Shadow and Ombrelina Vapour."
Cavender then withdrew to his sister's parlour, and in a few minutesreturned with the letter, which he put into Merrill's hand, telling himto read it while he finished looking over some deeds that had been leftwith him for examination.
Merrill opened the letter, and perused its contents, which we willpresent to our readers under the title of
A DREAM OF SONGS.
MY DEAR OMBRELINA,
Last evening, on my return from Melania Medley's musical party, where nothing was played or sung that had been out more than two or three weeks, I could not but reflect on the fate that attends even the most meritorious compositions of the sons of song: honoured for awhile with a short-lived popularity, and then allowed to float down the stream of time unnoticed and forgotten--or only remembered as things too entirely _passe_ to be listened to by "_ears polite_"--or even mentioned in their presence. It is true that as soon as a song becomes popular it ceases to be fashionable; but is not its popularity an evidence of its merit, or at least of its possessing melody and originality, and of its sounds being such as to give pleasure to the general ear? Who ever heard a dull and insipid tune played or sung in the streets, or whistled by the boys?
Falling asleep with these notions in my head, they suggested a dream in which I imagined myself visited by impersonations of almost innumerable songs, many of which had been "pretty fellows in their day," but have now given place to others whose chief characteristic is that of having no character at all.
The following outline may give you, dear Ombrelina, a slight idea of my vision, making due allowance for the confusion, incoherence, and absurdity that are always found in those pictures that imagination, when loosened from the control of reason, presents to the mind's eye of the slumberer.
"I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls," being mistress of a handsome and spacious mansion in a fine romantic country, whose hills and woodlands sloped down towards the ocean. I seemed to be duly prepared for the reception of a numerous party of visiters, whom I recognised intuitively, as soon as I saw them, for the heroes and heroines of certain well-known songs--also being familiar with the characters of many of them from my intimate acquaintance with Aunt Balladina's old music-books.
The earliest of my guests were some much-esteemed friends, descendants of the "Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled"--they wore "The Tartan Plaidie" and "The White Cockade"--and they looked as if they had all been "Over the Water to Charlie." I felt particularly honoured by the presence of that gallant chieftain, "Kinloch of Kinloch," who, for the express purpose of making me a visit, had relinquished for a time his grouse-shooting excursions "O'er the moor among the heather"--had given up his musings on "The banks and braes o' Bonnie Doon," and bade for awhile "Adieu, a heartwarm fond adieu" to "The Birks o
Next arrived the ancient laird "Logie o' Buchan;" and then "Auld Robin Gray" came tottering along supported by his pensive daughter Alice, and by "Duncan Gray," his laughter-loving son, well known among the lasses as "The Braw Wooer." The Gray family took their seats at "The Ingle Side," where old "John Anderson" and his wife had already established themselves close together in two arm-chairs. "Logie o' Buchan" joined them; but his habits being somewhat taciturn, it was not till they talked of "Auld lang syne" that he was induced to mingle in the conversation--yet the ice once broken, he was as merry in his reminiscences as either of his companions.
Robin Gray reminded the laird of Buchan of his elopement with that extreme blonde the "Lassie wi' the lint-white locks," who, when only "Within a mile of Edinburgh," had given him the slip and ran off with "Jockey to the Fair." The laird retaliated by laughing at Robin for having been one of the six-and-thirty suitors of that ugliest of heiresses, "Tibby Fouller o' the Glen." John Anderson was made to recollect his having been deserted in his youth by the beautiful but mercenary "Katrine Ogie," who afterwards became "Roy's wife of Aldivalloch," and in taking the carle and leaving her Johnnie, furnished another illustration of the fallacy of the remark, "Oh! say not woman's heart is bought."
These old stories were at first very amusing, but they continued so long and with so many episodes and digressions, that we at length discovered "We were a' noddin." Finally they were interrupted by the arrival of "Bonnie Jean," "The Lass of Patie's Mill," "Bessie Bell and Mary Gray," and other "Flowers o' the Forest," who were following that gay deceiver "Robin Adair," himself a verification of the well-known fact that "Though love is warm awhile, soon it grows cold."
Robin Adair, whose mind, after all, seems to have run chiefly on balls and plays (a visit to Paris having quite spoiled him for the society of "The Braes of Balquither"), had first made love to the unfortunate "Highland Mary," and then gayly and heartlessly quitted her with that useless piece of advice which nobody ever took, "Sigh not for love." Next he paid his devoirs to "Jessie the flower o' Dumblane," as he met her one morning "Comin' thro' the rye." And he had subsequently entered into a flirtation with "Dumbarton's bonny Belle"--a young lady whose literary and scientific achievements had lately procured for her the unique title of "The Blue Bell of Scotland." But it was whispered in the most authentic circles that she had recently frightened him away by asking him that puzzling question "Why does azure deck the sky?"
Yet, however the follies and inconstancies of Robin Adair might have rendered him a favourite with the ladies (who often tapped him with their fans, saying, "Fly away pretty moth"), he did not seem to be held in equal esteem by his manly compatriots. On his presuming to clap "Young Lochinvar" on the shoulder, and accost him as "Friend of my soul," that high-spirited chieftain immediately proceeded to "Draw the sword o' Scotland," with a view of chastising his familiarity. But "Swift as the flash," Robin eluded the blow, and danced out of the room singing "I'd be a Butterfly."
At the desire of several of the ladies, I accompanied them to the veranda to look at the prospect of the beautiful surrounding country, and our attention was soon arrested by notes of distant music.
"What airy sounds!" was our unanimous exclamation; and we almost fancied that they must have proceeded from the "Harp of the winds," till presently we heard the tramp of horses, and beheld a numerous company descending by its circuitous path the hill that rose in front of the house. As "I saw them on their winding way," I had no difficulty in recognising each individual of the troop.
Foremost came "The Baron of Mowbray" mounted on his "Arab Steed," and accompanied by a "Captive Knight" whom he had rescued from a Saracen prison, and I soon discovered that it was "Dunois the young and brave." Dunois was followed by his accomplished but wilful page, "The Minstrel Boy," who, having broken his harp in a fit of spite, was obliged to substitute an inferior instrument, and to strike "The Light Guitar," which he retained as "The Legacy" of a "Gallant Troubadour" who had fallen beside him in battle, and of whose untimely fate he had sent notice to his "Isabelle" by a "Carrier Pigeon."
Behind the youthful minstrel strode a "Happy Tawny Moor" performing powerfully on "The Tartar Drum."
"The Young Son of Chivalry" brought with him a beautiful damsel whom he had found in a "Bower of Roses by Bendameer's Stream"--and whose eyes, resembling those of "The Light Gazelle," identified her as "Araby's Daughter." "Rich and rare were the gems she wore;" and she had testified her readiness to "Fly to the Desert" with her bravo Dunois; to glide with him "Thro' icy valleys," in the wilds of Siberia; or to accompany him even across "The sea--the sea--the open sea." No music would have sounded so sweetly in her ear as "The Bridemaid's Chorus," and she would willingly have given all her pearls and diamonds in exchange for "The plain gold ring."
Next came a gentleman in naval uniform, whom I gladly recognised as my former acquaintance, "The Post Captain;" for the last time "We met--'twas in a crowd"--and I had not an opportunity of saying more than a few words to him. He was not in his usual spirits, having lately been jilted by the beautiful but "Faithless Emma," who knew not how to value "The Manly Heart" that had so long been devoted to her. He was accompanied by a "Smart Young Midshipman," and followed at a respectful distance by some hardy-looking "Tars of Columbia," who, whether exposed to the storms of "The Bay of Biscay," or sailing before the wind with "A wet sheet and a flowing sea," or engaged in contest with "The Mariners of England," are always ready to venture life and limb in the cause of "America, Commerce, and Freedom."
After them came a motley group whose homes were to be found in every part of the world, and amongst whom even "The Gipsies' Wild Chant" was heard at intervals. Looking as if he had just issued from "The vale of Ovoca," and wrapping around him a damp overcoat, threadbare wherever it was whole, came an "Exile of Erin," who proved to be the famous serenading robber, "Ned of the Hills." Near him was another outlaw, "Allen-a-Dale," who, being something of an exquisite (notwithstanding his deficiency in ploughland and firewood) looked with hauteur on "The wayworn Traveller." The Hibernian freebooter was not, it is true, as well supported as when "Proudly and wide his standard flew;" having found by recent experience that it is not always safe to go a-robbing with flying colours: but he was not without his followers (what Irishman is?) and he and they returned with interest the contemptuous glances of the English brigand.
There were representatives of every nation and of every period in which the voice of music has been heard. Some were serious and some were gay--some were dignified, and others very much the contrary--some had always moved in the first circle, and some were in the people's line. I saw a "Bavarian Broom Girl" endeavouring to persuade "Mynheer Van Clam" to waltz with her round the hill: but finding it impossible to induce in him a rotatory motion, and that his steps never could be made to describe a circle, she wisely gave him up for a "Merry Swiss Boy," who whirled round with her to her heart's content, though his sister would not dance, but was perpetually wailing "Oh! take me back to Switzerland." There was also the disdainful "Polly Hopkins" sailing round her ill-used but persevering lover, "Tommy Tompkins." Among others came the foolish "Maid of Lodi," ambling on her poney; the deplorable "Galley Slave;" the moaning "Beggar Girl;" and several others with whose company I could well have dispensed.
The sound of voices now came from the sea, and we saw several boats approaching the shore--"Faintly as tolls the evening chime," we distinguished the Canadian rowers. Next came the fellow-fishermen of Masaniello chanting their Barca
I went down with the other ladies to the portico to receive the company that was every moment arriving, and I found the avenue that led to it already filled. Among the Hibernians, we saw a wandering musician who had "Come o'er the sea" to pursue his profession. However, he succeeded but badly; after several attempts, finding it impossible even to "Remember the glories of Brian the Brave." The truth is, he was confused and disconcerted by discovering, when too late, that the harp he had in haste brought with him, was the identical one which had hung so long on Tara's walls that its soul of music was undoubtedly fled; all the strings being broken. This _contre-tems_ excited the sneers of the English part of his audience, but I besought them to "Blame not the bard," whose countrymen I saw were beginning to kindle in his behalf, and knowing that "Avenging and bright are the swift swords of Erin," I made peace by ordering refreshments to be brought out, and sending round among them the "Crooskeen Lawn."
Again the sound of distant music floated on the air from "Over the hills and far away." At first, we thought that "The Campbells were coming" (none of that noble and warlike clan having accompanied the numerous "Sons of the Clyde" that had already arrived), and the male part of our company were preparing to "Hurrah for the Bonnets of Blue." But as the sounds approached, they were easily distinguished for the ever-charming and exhilarating notes of "The Hunters' Chorus," that splendid triumph of musical genius. We soon saw the bold yagers of the Hartz forest descending the path that led round the hill, their rifles in their hands, their oak-sprigs in their hats, and looking as much at home as if they were still in their "Father-land."
I welcomed the whole company, though well aware that among them all there was "Nobody coming to marry me;" and, as "Twilight dews were falling fast," I invited them into the house, which fortunately was large enough to accommodate them. The evening was spent in much hilarity. "Merrily every bosom boundeth," and "Away with melancholy," was the general feeling. A toast was suggested in compliment to their hostess; but unwilling that they should "Drink to me only," I proposed "A health to all good lasses," and it went round with enthusiasm.
Our festivity met with a little interruption from "The Maid of Marlivale," who, while taking one of her usual moonlight rambles, had been frightened by something that she supposed to be "The Erl King," and she rushed in among us, in a state of terror which we had some difficulty in appeasing.
After supper, at which "Jim Crow" was chief waiter (till his antics obliged me to dismiss him from the room), music and dancing continued till a late hour. At length "I knew by the smoke" that the lamps were about to expire, and I was not sorry when the party from Scotland broke up the company by taking leave with "Gude night, and joy be wi' you a'"--and in a short time "All the blue bonnets were over the border." I must tell you in confidence, my dear Ombrelina, that "A chieftain to the highlands bound" presented me "The last rose of summer," and was very importunate with me to become the companion of his journey and the lady of his castle; but I had no inclination to intrust my happiness to a stranger, and to bid "My native land, good night."
Hitherto, whenever, "I've wandered in dreams," it has generally been my unlucky fate to lose all distinct recollection of them before "The morn unbars the gates of light." This once I have been more fortunate. But still, my dear Ombrelina, I think it safest to intrust to your care this slight memorandum of my singular vision. And should you lose it, and I forget it, we have still the consolation that "'Tis but fancy's sketch."
"In truth," said Merrill, folding up the letter, after making variouscomments upon it, "on the subject of music, this young lady seems quite_au naturel_. I fear for her success in society."
"Then," observed Cavender, "you must exert your influence in inducingher to change or suppress her opinion on this topic, and perhaps on someothers in which she may be equally at variance with _les gens comme ilfaut_."
"My influence?" replied Merrill. "Is it possible that I know the lady?"
"You know her so well," answered Cavender, "that I wonder you areunacquainted with her autograph; but I suppose your courtship has beenaltogether verbal."
"Emily Osbrook!" exclaimed Merrill. "Is she, indeed, the author of thisletter? It is singular enough that I have never yet happened to see herhandwriting; and once seen, I could not have forgotten it. But I canassure you that she has sufficient knowledge of the art to be fullycapable of appreciating its difficulties and understanding its beauties,and of warmly admiring whatever of our fashionable music is really good;that is, when the sound is not only a combination of beautiful tones,but also an echo to the sense. We have often lamented that so many finecomposers have deigned to furnish charming airs for common-place ornonsensical poetry, and that some of the most exquisite effusions of ourpoets are degraded by an association with tasteless and insipid music.But when music that is truly excellent is 'married to immortal verse,'and when the words are equal to the air, who does not perceive that thehearers listen with two-fold enjoyment?"
"Two-fold!" exclaimed Cavender.--"The pleasure of listening todelightful notes, with delightful words, uttered with taste and feelingby an accomplished and intellectual singer, is one of the most perfectthat can fall to the lot of beings who are unable to hear the music ofthe spheres and the songs of Paradise."