Page images
PDF
EPUB

even Spanish, seems to be all but indispensable; for all these languages have been sung at provincial festivals. To converse in French, if not Italian, is almost equally important to those who must mix so much with foreigners, and with such various society. To be able to read music with the utmost facility,—to understand its construction sufficiently, at least, to judge of the propriety of ornament upon given harmonics,-to play the pianoforte enough to accompany,--are essentials. To these accomplishments ought to be added a wide and comprehensive study of English, Italian, and German composers, both for the church and the theatre. Here is enough for the employment of a laborious life; but if the artist have not polished manners, and some acquaintance with the current literature, he or she will find little countenance in the polite world, to which, if they mix in society at all, it is their province to aspire. This is no ideal picture. We have known females,-aye, and young females,- (for they far exceed the men,) whose attainments were not far short of this estimate. Madame Caradori Allan is one of the brightest examples. To all these attainments she adds drawing and modelling to great perfection, and is, withal, amongst the most modest, sensible, and well-bred persons of her time. We know not how it is, but so it is, the foreigners excel us in the extent and variety of their accomplishments. · We have already alluded to the dearth of rising singers in certain classes. The absence of commanding talent is obvious; but perhaps so much more is now done, even by second-rates, that, to be first, implies even more than former favourites achieved. Upon the stage there are Misses Inverarity, Betts, Shirreff, Romer, Cawse, H. Cawse, Mrs. Waylett, Madame Vestris, Mrs. Wood, &c.; Messrs. Sapio, Wilson, Templeton, and Wood, tenors; H. Phillips, Seguin, and Stansbury, basses. In the concert Miss Masson has already attained high eminence; Mrs. Seguin, Mrs. Bishop, and, above most others, Miss Clara Novello, afford abundant promise. But the summit is only attained by long, as well as painful labour.

Our notice has run to an extent which compels us to postpone the last and most fashionable, if not the most popular, item,—the portraiture of foreign excellence,—to another Number. Enough, we hope, has been said to prove that the natives of England, under judicious cultivationgive them fair play-have, at least, the power of vying with foreign artists in most, if not in all, the branches. If Italy and Germany boast their Catalani, their Colbran, their Pasta, and their Sontag, we have our Billington, our Vestris, our Salmon, and our Stephens. Braham we pronounce to be unmatched, in spite of all his sinkings. It is a question whether Italy ever produced a more perfect cantabile singer than Harrison. What, then, is wanting to the perfecting of English art and English artists ? That devotion to music which England can never feel, so long as England considers politics, commerce, and general literature to have superior claims; in short, so long as Englishmen and Englishwomen prefer domestic affection and society to public entertainment, general good to personal amusement, freedom to frivolity, moderate to excessive pleasures, and reason to passion. set Romaic. The Russ will soon appear, now that the horn band has come among us.

THE LATE MR. TARDY.

Better late than never” was the motto of that ancient family, the Tardys; that of the Loiters, Slow and sure.The deceased Sir Dawdlemore Tardy, of Neverdone Castle, Bart., father to our present subject, married Miss Evelina Loiter, sole offspring of Sir Lag Loiter, Bart., of Limpingham Hall. Certain trifling circumstances appeared to render this marriage desirable—such as equality of rank, contiguity of the family estates, the mutual affection which had long existed between the principal contracting parties, the fitness of their ages, the conformity of their habits, tastes, and dispositions, &c. Yet, maturely considered, a more injudicious union can hardly be imagined ; for what, indeed, but the most disastrous consequences could be expected to result from the junction, not of the families, but of their mottoes! In the formation of character the operation of a precept frequently repeated, though imperceptible, is certain ; and no one will venture to dispute that a person who can scarcely ever step into his carriage, or seal a letter, without finding the same maxim obtruded upon his attention, will insensibly become its slave. How much, then,' must the case of such a one be aggravated when abandoned to the influence of two such monitors, both pointing the same way! Had either of the two families had for their motto, " Delays are dangerous,or “ Strike while the iron's hot,or, “ A stitch in time saves nine,” or “ Never put off till to-morrow what can be done to-day.-though, haply, somewhat too long, or not sufficiently elegant to decorate the pannels of a carriage,--the counteracting influence of one of these sentences would have neutralized the mischievous effects of either of the others. As it was, the operation of their combined force was irresistible: and of their pernicious power the unfortunate victim was the late Mr. Loiter Lag Tardy.

The Genius of Delay seems to have presided over the fortunes of our hero even before his entrance into this world of trouble. · Anxiously awaited by Sir Dawdlemore and his young and lovely wife was the period which should bless them with what is prettily termed a pledge of affection. The tenantry, also, of the two families felt a deep and natural interest in the event, for (to say nothing of the love and respect they entertained for their landlords) the birth of a child was to be celebrated by the roasting of a couple of fat oxen, and the distribution of sundry barrels of • very strong ale. The heads of the most learned gossips of the village of Limpingham were at work; signs and appearances were carefully considered ; time was strictly calculated ; and, at length, by a general concurrence of opinions, the eighth of September was declared the favoured and fortunate day which the young stranger would most certainly honour with his first interesting squeak. The important eighth of September arrived. Certain symptoms experienced by Lady Tardy seemed likely to confirm the opinions of the old ladies of Limpingham. The ale-barrels were rolled out upon the lawn of Neverdone Castle, the fatted oxen were turned from their pastures, the ropes of the church-bells of Limpingham were already in the hands of the most expert ringers in the village, and nothing remained wanting to put all these evidences of

October - VOL. XXXVIII, NO, CLIV.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

heart-felt rejoicings into appropriate action, but the preconcerted signal which was to announce, incontestably, an addition to the family. But the old ladies of Limpingham were, for once, at fault; and the eighth of September was disappointed of its expected honours, for the little Tardy appeared not on that day. So the bell-ringers returned to their homes, the ale-barrels were restored to their shed, and the fatted oxen to their pastures. Another day passed away, and another; a week, a fortnight elapsed, yet was the world ungladdened by the addition of the invaluable unit to its hundreds of millions. “Slow and sure,” said Sir Lag Loiter. “Better late than never," responded his patient son-in-law. At last—at last—at last, on the twenty-ninth of September, (exactly twenty-one days after the period calculated upon,) at precisely nine of the morning, a red flag, hoisted on one of the chimney-tops of Neverdone castle, gave assurance of the birth of an heir-male to the house of Tardy. All was now rejoicing! The bells of Limpingham church were set ringing, the ale was rolled out to be tapped, the oxen were driven forth to be slaughtered.

We have already said that the Genius of Delay seems to have presided over the fortunes of our hero, even (if such an expression be allowable) before his birth. His first step in the world, or, more strictly speaking, the very step he took into existence, was taken too late! The young gentleman, whose appearance we have announced, was not Master Loiter Lag Tardy! Barely had a quarter of an hour passed away, (for Sir Dawdlemore Tardy and Sir Lag Loiter were still shaking hands, and congratulating each other upon the happy event,) when the nurse burst into the room, and announced the arrival of a second pledge of affection! This was our hero. Call it indolence; call it politeness towards his fellow-brat whom he allowed to take the start of him; qualify his conduct upon the occasion in whatsoever way you please; certain it is, that by coming into the world just a quarter of an hour too late, he lost a baronetcy, with two-and-thirty thousand a year, and took in exchange the advantageous place of younger brother, with a magnificent three hundred whilst his father lived, and the chances of what afterwards the generosity of the person whom he had so kindly obliged might choose to bestow upon him on his acceding to the title and the estates.

The overjoyed father (whose delight, however, was somewhat diminished by receiving more than he had bargained for) was naturally anxious to feast his eyes with a sight of the future baronet and his brother. Accordingly, two little lumps of brick-dust-coloured putty were brought for his inspection. Not greater could have been his wonder and his admiration had a phoenix and a unicorn been exhibited to him. Apparently forgetting that such things are by no means uncommon, he gazed upon them as though they were the rarest productions of nature; and, like the bird we have alluded to, only to be met with once in a century. But the first-felt raptures of paternity must be treated with indulgence.

" Do you consider them handsome, nurse ?” asked he, in a tone sufficiently indicating that he did-at the same time putting a couple of guineas into the hand of the matron.

“ They are, positively, the most beautiful creatures I ever beheld, Sir," replied she; adroitly adding," and so like you and my lady!"

She then expatiated on the several charms of the things; declaring a small pimple in the centre of what she pretended was the face of our hero-[having no business with his brother, we shall make no further mention of him)—to be the very nose of her ladyship ; and a gimlethole just below it to be Sir Dawdlemore's own mouth.

But however well-founded may have been the nurse's encomium on the beauty of the little gentleman, certain it is that that beauty was not destined to be of long duration. At the period when Mr. Tardy came into the world, that scourge of society, that foe to the quiet and comfort of mankind, the barbarous and ever-to-be-execrated Jenner, had not yet promulgated his fatal discovery of the means of counteracting that admirable contrivance, called the small-pox, for preserving the earth from being overrun with scrubby, screaming children. Then did that invaluable disease walk unimpeded through the blind alleys and the crooked lanes, in one week beneficently sweeping away a greater number of the

“ little unwashed” than the combined industry of war, plague, pesti· lence, and famine, could in a month exterminate, One morning the

nurse entered the breakfast-parlour, and, with consternation painted on her countenance, informed the baronet and his lady that four virulent cases of small-pox had appeared in the immediate neighbourhood of the castle. At this awful intelligence the baronet and his lady looked aghast.

“ What is to be done, nurse ?"? inquired Lady Tardy.

“ O, my lady,” replied nurse," the dear baby ought to be inoculated immediately; and I have told your ladyship so for this month past."

" Slow and sure, nurse," rejoined her ladyship; “ I don't think the child is in condition for the operation.”

“0, my lady," continued nurse, “ an angel from heaven wouldn't be fitter to be inoculated. We can never be too early in these matters; and, with my will, it should have been done yesterday.”

“ Better late than never,” said Sir Dawdlemore; “ it shall be done to-morrow.

On the evening of that very day, the unfortunate little Loiter took the disease naturally. It was a case of the most malignant character, and, for a long time, the state of the little sufferer seemed hopeless. How ever, he recovered; but (thanks to the family motto of the Tardys !) the beauty of his “ human face divine” was obliterated for ever.

To recount the instances, in his boyish days, of young Tardy's failures and mishaps, through his indolent habit of procrastination, were endless. Was a school-prize to be contended for, his exercise, which was never deficient in merit, was always nearly ready about the time when it should be delivered in, yet never finished, or not presented, till just a quarter of an hour after the period when it could be received. Did he join a marauding party in an orchard, his companions would scamper away on the first alarm of detection, whilst he, too indolent to run for it, would be caught, and bear the punishment due to the whole party. Or even was he a candidate for a prize in a rowing-match or a pony-race, the slow-and-sure maxim would still prevail.“ Where's the good of doing things in a hurry?” he would ask : and when, as a natural consequence of his “ taking it easy,” he came in just in time to lose (as he invariably did), and his successful rival sneeringly welcomed him with “ a leetle too late, Tardy," he would console himself, for the loss of both money and

reputation, by quoting the family motto, “Well--better late than

never."

His education finished, it became necessary to consider the means of establishing him in life. But what could be done for the poor fellow ? The joint fortunes of the Tardys and the Loiters amounted, it is true, o two-and-thirty thousand a year; but this, together with the title, was, very properly, destined to illustrate the career of the elder brother. Loiter thought this hard ; and once, when his settlement was the subject of discussion, he ventured to express such an opinion to Sir Dawdlemore :

"Now I ask you, my dear father, as a man who knows what life is, what can I do with the three hundred a year you allow me?”

“ Really, my dear boy, that's a very perplexing question.” “ Now, Sir, do you think you could live upon three hundred a-year ?"

This question being little less perplexing than the other, the baronet humm’d, and ha’d, and hesitated, and at length replied, .“ Why-aw-no-1-aw-candidly speaking I don't think I could; but, you see-aw-I never was a younger brother, but-aw—if I had been, I suppose I must have contrived as well as I could with it-andaw—that's what you must do-aw-don't you see?”

“ But, surely, father, out of an income of two-and-thirty thousand pounds something might- "

“That's nothing to the point, Loiter; be reasonable, and remember that your elder brother will have to maintain the dignity of our nameand that nothing less than that will do it—whilst you, for your part, having no responsibilities in the world, can easily "

“Then, Sir," warmly exclaimed Loiter, “ I must say I consider it a cruel injustice that I should be turned forth a beggar, simply because in our race into the world my brother happened to beat me by half a neck.”

“ And I must say, Sir," with equal warmth retorted Sir Dawdlemore, “ I consider your complaint to be both unjust and absurd: you have no one to thank for that but yourself: why did you let him ?” So saying, he angrily left the room.

In about half an hour he returned. “Come, Loiter," said he, “ give me your hand. Although I can do nothing for you myself, I have not been negligent of you. Your fortune is made. By my interest at the India-House I have procured a writership for you. I have been long trying for this, but wouldn't let you know it till I could tell you I had succeeded. Read this letter.” · The delighted Loiter Lag Tardy read :

“ East India House, 13th February, 179—". “ Why, Sir," said Loiter, “ this letter is dated exactly ten days ago!"

“ Yes, my dear boy; but slow and sure: sending a beloved son to India is, after all, a serious affair, and ought not to be too hastily determined upon. But read on.”

Loiter continued :

My dear Sir Dawdlemore --At length I have a nomination to a writership, which I shall be most happy to use in favour of the son of so old and so valued a friend as you. But within three days of your receipt of this (AT THE VERY LONGEST) pray inform me whether you are now in the mind to accept it; for, as you will readily believe, I am pyerwhelmed with applications for it,--and one amongst them i.

« PreviousContinue »