Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - Gaslight and Daylight, by George Augustus Sala, 1859 - Chapter 25 - Music in Paving-Stones

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IN the Stones of Venice—their Sea Stories and Foundations—Mr. Ruskin could find elaborate theories; could weave from them fantastic tissues of Art-thought; could raise upon them cunning superstructures of argument, illustration dogmatism, and beautiful description. Let me try, if, striking the paving-stones with my iron heel, I cannot elicit some music from them. Let the stones of Regent Street, London be my Rock Harmonicon, and let me essay to play upon them some few bars more of the musical tune.
Regent Street is the only boulevard of which London can boast; and though the eight-storied houses, the shady trees, the gay cafés, the peripatetic journal-mongers, the bustling stalls, the glittering passages, the broad asphalte pavement, which give so pleasant and lively an aspect to that magnificent promenade which extends from the Madeleine, in Paris, to the Bastille—though these are wanting, there is sufficient crowd, and bustle, and gaiety, in our Regent Street, sufficient wealth and architectural beauty, to enable it, if not to vie with, at least to compensate a foreigner for his temporary exile from his beloved Boulevard des Italiens.
Between three and six o’clock every afternoon, celebrities jostle you at every step you take in Regent Street. The celebrities of wealth, nobility, and the mode, do not disdain to descend from their carriages, and tread the flags like ordinary mortals. Science, Literature, and Law, walk arm-in-arm three abreast. Dethroned kings, expatriated generals, proscribed republicans, meet on a neutral ground of politics, and paving-stones. It is pre-eminently in a crowded street that you see that equality which will assert itself at times—etiquette, William the Conqueror, and Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage, notwithstanding. The Queen of Spain has legs in Regent Street, and uses them. The Duke of Pampotter cannot usurp a larger share of the pavement than the plebeian in a velveteen shooting-jacket who sells lap-dogs. Every [-284-] gent in a Joinville tie, irreproachable boots, and a successful moustache, can be for the nonce the shepherd Paris, and adjudge the golden apple to the most beautiful bonnet, and the most beautiful face, whether their possessor be a fashionable marchioness or a fashionable milliner.
Those good friends of ours, the foreigners, who need only to know and visit England to take kindly to its streets, people, viands, liquors, and import of bullion, have taken at least nine points of the law in Regent Street, these twenty years agone. It is refreshing to see these worthy fellows in the most eccentric hats, the wildest pantaloons, the craziest extravagancies of braiding, time most luxuriant beards; glistening with pomatum, electro-plated jewellery, and boot-varnish; swelling down Regent Street, making the air redolent with foreign perfumes and the smoke of foreign cigars ; their wives and daughters giving viva voce lessons in the art of wearing a bonnet, holding up a dress, and scragging the hair off the temples, a l’Imperatrice, and all gazing approvingly at the numerous indications which Regent Street presents, of England being the place for foreigners after all, and Regent Street the locality, par excellence, for foreigners to open brilliant shops for the sale of perfumes, gloves, cambric pocket-handkerchiefs, Vanille chocolate, ormolu clocks, Strasburg pies, St. Julien claret, and patent leather boots.
Music, above all, hath charms in Regent Street; and its paving-stones unceasingly echo beneath the feet of the denizens of the musical world. Music-masters and mistresses hurry to and fro from their lessens; singers to concerts or into Messrs. Octave and Piccolo’s music-warehouse; and a considerable number of the stars of the musical hemisphere, walk in this harmonious boulevard, merely to see and to be seen. It is as incumbent on a musical notoriety, on his return from the continent, or the provinces, on the eve or the morrow of a success, to show himself in Regent Street, as for a betting-man to clink his boot-heels upon the nobbly stones of Messrs. Tattersall’s yard. Musical reputations have been won and lost in Regent Street; and the reigning prima donna dares not despise the opinions of its paving-stones.
What gleams in the distance so snow-white, what is found to be on nearer inspection so elaborately embroidered, so faultlessly plaited, so free from crease or wrinkle? What but the shirt of the great German basso; and who can the great basso be but Bompazek?
[-285-] No braces disturb the equanimity of that unrivalled shirt, no waistband visits its snowy expanse. In deference to established prejudices, Bompazek wears a coat—a coat, mul­berry in colour, lined with watered silk, and marvellously tagged and braided; but were he entirely a free agent we have no doubt that the sleeves and wristbands, the seams, gussets, and bands, of that shirt of shirts would be made fully manifest to Regent Street. He must grieve that he is not a Whiteboy and cannot wear his shirt over his clothes; for the shirt is Bompazek, and Bompazek is the shirt. If ever he had a palace with stained glass windows, he might paraphrase the Cardinal of York’s proud motto, and write up, Ego et indusium meum—I and my shirt. There is much virtue in a clean shirt—a good, fine, well-got-up shirt: showing plenty of collar, front, and wristbands. Many a man has been indebted to his washerwoman, not only in the amount of her little bill, but for subsequent fame and fortune. They say that Tom Gills, who was renowned for wearing the finest collars in Europe, and positively devoted a considerable portion of his time to cutting out models of shirt-collars in pasteboard for the guidance of his registered shirt-maker, obtained his colonial appointment mainly through his cellars. I wish myself that colonial appointments were obtained from the virtuous government of this enlightened country for no worse reasons. Should we get on much worse than we do, I wonder, if we chose our governments themselves for their collars?
I have said that Bompazek wears not braces. In lieu thereof he is girt with an embroidered belt,—a belt thickly sown with rich beads—the gift and work, perchance, of some fair Fraulein in Germany, the lady of his love, whom, like the Standard Bearer, he dare not name. Bompazek has a beard that the Emperor Julian, the apostate, he who boasted of his barba longa et populata, would have been proud of. His mouth is of an affable, good-humoured cut; his blue eye suggests not violence, pride, ambition, but is suggestively eloquent of mild beer and milder pipes. In both does Bompazek mildly delight.
Yes. This big, barbated, spicated basso, with the beard of a sapeur, the stature of a Colossus, the strength of a Taurider, the lungs of a Stentor, is the mildest, meekest, most placable, soft-hearted creature that you can imagine. He is a great friend of little children; and though they are frightened at first at his tremendous bass voice, they soon venture to climb [-286-] on his knees, and play with the breloques of his watch-chain, and make use of his beard for prehensile purposes, and listen to the little lieds he sings them in the biggest voice that ever you, heard. He is the victim, milch cow, and béte de souffrance of herds of hungry, ragged, disreputable foreigners, who come to him with torn and greasy passports, and letters of introduction from people he never heard of; who drink his beer, smoke his pipes, eat his suet-puddings, sleep in his drawing-room, borrow his money, wear even his sacred shirts, and call him Dummerkopf for his pains. He is always giving or lending money, singing for nothing, subscribing to charities. He has always some baufre eggzile whose rent he pays, and whose lit is always being taken from under him and redeemed by Bompazek.
It is reported that Bompazek cannot go back to the Grand Duchy of Schloss-Schinkenstein, his native place, as he was serious implicated in the revolutionary movement of  '48 ; and the Grand Duke is furious against him. I cannot for the life of me conceive to what greater extent this big, harmless man could have compromised himself in a political sense than by drinking beer out of a conspirator’s glass, or giving a pipe- light to a democrat. Perhaps his beard went against him. It is decidedly the most revolutionary thing about him.
Bompazek lodges in Great Blenheim Street, where he occupies time first-floor, and has irretrievably ruined four carpets with expectorations. I us drawing-room and bed-room are one large pipe. ‘Time whitewashed ceiling is smoked to a golden colour, the walls are covered with the marks left by lucifer-matches rubbed against them for ignition; tobacco-ash lurks in the chairs, the keys of the pianoforte, the curtains, and the music-books. The smell of tobacco is overpowering, but not offensive; it has no time to grow stale—fresh pipes being continually lighted. When Bompazek says, ‘Gom and bipe vid me dis evedig,’ you find a table covered with pipes of every imaginable form and size, a bottle of hollands, a huge porcelain jar of tobacco, and an armoury of pewter pots. Six or seven Germans, including Bompazek, range themselves round the fire-place, each man wrapped in a dry blanket of smoke, and gravely spit the fire out; the loudest sound that is heard being the coughing of Mrs. Pickwinkle, the landlady, and her servant 'Melia in the kitchen below.
Mrs. Pickwinkle does not object to the smoke or the expectoration. Mr. Bompazek is so good a lodger, and pays so [-287-] liberally and regularly, says she. But by one of those inexplicable caprices, peculiar to the feminine organisation, she has taken violent exception to Bompazek’s suet-puddings. He is inordinately fond of those indigestible delicacies. So are his friends. He eats them for breakfast, luncheon, dinner, supper,—for Bompazek, as befits a true child of Fatherland, is a four-meals-a-day man. So are his friends, the silent men who help to spit the fire out. Mr. Pickwinkle has been on the point several times of giving him warning on this irritating account. She leads 'Melia a dreadful life about the puddings. She explodes on the subject in back-kitchens and areas, on staircases and landings, to friends and neighbours. I called on Bompazek once. He was out, but was expected to return to dinner almost immediately; Mrs. Pickwinkle was in a fury on the pudding grievance. She took me into his sitting-room, where, on a table garnished with a cloth burnt in several places by hot tobacco-ash, I found a stew and seven puddings. ‘There,’ she cried, ‘seven mortal puddings for a party as calls himself a Christian! Now, Mr. Penn, can flesh and blood stand that?’ Landladies have curious likings and antipathies. One begged me to suit myself elsewhere, once, because I objected to having four pounds of bacon at a time, and didn’t like it streaky. She remarked that she had let lodgings for five-and-twenty year, and wished to know if I considered myself a gentleman. I know of a landlady who gave her lodger warning—not because he was backward with his rent, nor for keeping late hours, or smoking, or carrying on—but because he wore such large buttons. She had bore with it as long as she could, she said, hut she was certain them buttons could be no good.
As Bompazek comes sailing majestically down Regent Street. you may remark that there hangs upon his arm, talking very loudly and vivaciously, and looking round with a complacently defiant air, as if to say ‘ This is Bompazek, the great basso, and I am his friend,’ a very little man in a tremendously tall hat, which seems perpetually to be on the point of overbalancing him. This is little Saint Sheddle, who, as I have remarked in a former paper, knows, and is intimate with, everybody in the musical world. Saint Sheddle is one of the fifty thousand living enigmas who walk and talk, and wear good hats and boots, without any ostensible means of existence. Nobody knows how Saint Sheddle lives. He was known as Captain Saint Sheddle at Brighton; as Dr. Saint [-288-] Sheddie at Bath; and I saw his name myself in the ‘Vienna Fremnden Blatt,’ as Le Comte de Saint Sheddle, rentier from London. I should not be surprised to hear of him, some of these days, as the  Venerable Archdeacon Saint Sheddle in Torquay, or as Shedalli Pasha at Erzroum.
Meanwhile, Saint Sheddle goes everywhere, and puts his legs under innumerable mahoganies. He walks out in the park with Madame Perigord’s children. He fetched home Poskoggi’s niece from school in the Avenue Marigny in Paris. He dines with Octave and Piccolo when they entertain the musical stars at Greenwich or Richmond; he is at all Papadaggi’s grand Soirées; he is admitted to Lady Tremoloso’s musical evenings ; stays whole weeks at her palatial country seat, Chromatic Park, and went to Vienna with the well­known amateur and friend of artists, Sir Peddler Fugue. He is a member of the Jolly Scrapers’ Club, a reunion of the members of the principal orchestras, held at the Bass-viol, Vinegar Yard; it is even reported that he is employed to pawn Madame Garbanati’s jewellery when that lady, as it frequently happens, is in difficulties; and that he writes all Tifferari’s letters. It is certain that he has admission to all the green-rooms, tickets for all the concerts, and is intimate with the mysterious Panslavisco. But how does the man live? What hatter, what bootmaker, what tailor, supplied the habiliments? Where does the massy gold chain come from? Is Saint Sheddle something in the wine trade, or the coal trade? Does he deal in pictures, or sell snuff on commission?
The only business operation in which Saint Sheddle was ever positively known to be engaged was when he took the Saint Sepulchre’s theatre for the performance of Burmese operas. We all remember how many nights his season lasted, who didn’t get their salaries, and what a melancholy failure the whole speculation was. Saint Sheddle ran to Portugal Street as if he had been running a race. Somehow he didn’t ‘go through the court;’ the discovery of his multifarious addresses might perhaps have been fatal to him; but he has been going through ever since. If you speak about debts or difficulties to Saint Sheddle, he says, ‘ Debts! pooh, my boy! Look at me. Five judgments out against me. What’s that? Got my protection in my pocket.’ And he shows it you.
The little man is very popular in the musical world. He negotiates engagements, arranges with music-sellers for the publication of sentimental ballads by the Honourable [-289-] Miss A—, and polkas by captains in the Life Guards; is the general peacemaker, mediator, and go-between of the profession. When Poskoggi, the composer, maddened by the unfounded jealousy of madame his spouse, emptied a plate of macaroni upon the piano, and fled his home and household gods for ever, Saint Sheddle interposed, sought out the unhappy husband at the hotel in Lisle Street, Leicester Square, where he had taken refuge, and was playing billiards with the despair of Napoleon after Waterloo, and reconciled Madame Poskoggi to her ‘horsepond ‘— as she called her husband. When Mademoiselle Shaddabacco broke her engagement with the management of the Italian Opera, and retired to Dieppe in the sulks, ostensibly because Packerlickey, the manager, refused to pay for the expense of a foot-page to attend to her poodles, but really because Mademoiselle Baracouta, that upstart parvenue—that prima donna of yesterday—had created a furore in Kabucodonosore; it was Saint Sheddle who started off to Newhaven by the express-train, crossed the briny ocean, cleared away all difficulties, and brought the Shaddabacco back in triumph. His evidence on the great trial of Packerlickey versus Guffler, on the disputed question of the copyright in the music of the ballet ‘Les mile et une Jambes,’ was of the greatest value. He has just taken the affairs of Madame Garbanati (who has been living too fast) in hand. When malicious people began to whisper ugly things about Miss Linnet in connection with Captain de Prance of the Harpooners; who but Saint Sheddle went about, defending the young lady everywhere? Who but he vowed he was present when Miss Linnet boxed the Captain’s ears, and when old Linnet, her papa (a worthy man, once a schoolmaster, but too fond of cold rum and water), kicked the captain down stairs? Who but he declared, striking a seraphine in Octave’s shop, with virtuous vehemence, that he, Saint Sheddle, would call out and fight any man who dared to whisper a syllable against the maligned young lady?
Adolphus Butterbrod, Ph. Dr., of Schwindelburg, who has just passed Bompazek with so low a bow, although the basso scarcely acknowledged it, does not like Saint Sheddle: he says he is ‘an indriguand.’ In days gone by, Butterbrod was confidential friend and agent to Bompazek, and had free right of warren over his pipes, his purse, his puddings, and his shirts; he arranged all the basso’s engagements, and haughtily told concert-givers that he had ‘roged ‘—or raised—[-290-] his terms. But he was detected in flagrant delict of conspiring with Tonner von Heidelburg, Bompazek’s enemy and rival; and cotemporary history records that the usually mild Bompazek (the rage of a sheep is terrible) beat the traitor violently with an umbrella, and banished him from the domains of Pickwinkle for ever. Saint Sheddle is Fidus Achates to the big basso now, and the Ph. Dr. would like to do him a good turn if he could.
Place aux Dames! Room for the stately lady in black velvet, who meanders gracefully along the pavement. Two smaller cygnets, in sea-green watered-silk and laced trousers, accompany the parent bird. This is Madame Perigord, the renowned contralto, and her youthful daughters. Lesbia Perigord has a beaming eye, a robe of silk velvet, long black ringlets, a chain of gold, a chatelaine, diamond rings, pearly teeth, faultless hands and feet, in little gloves and boots as faultless. Lesbia has a voice of liquid honey and passionate fire, poising itself for a moment on her ruby lips, and flying straightway into her hearers’ hearts. Lesbia is a superb creature; but, oh! I will content myself with Camberwell and my Norah Creina—my gentle, simple Norah Creina, who cannot sing contralto, but can make Irish stew. For Lesbia has a temper. Let me whisper it; a deuce of a temper. Let me write it on paper and show it to you privately; a devil of a temper! I would rather not be Lesbia’s sparrow, if I did not think my neck in want of wringing. I would rather not be one of Lesbia’s sea-green children, if I preferred the law of kindness to the law of kicks and cuffs. I would rather not be Lesbia’s maid, if I valued peace of mind or body; and I would decidedly not be Lesbia’s husband upon any consideration whatever.
Madame Perigord was very nearly the death of Piccolo. Piccolo suffered much from rheumatism, and happening casually to mention the matter to the Perigord, she immediately insisted on sending to Paris to her doctor, one Mercantori, for a certain marvellous embrocation, which would cure Piccolo instantaneously. It was no use demurring to Mercantori’s preparation. It had cured the Perigord when she was like that (pointing to a sideboard as an emblem of immobility), and he must take it. Besides, Piccolo is so accustomed to do what he is asked, that had Madame Perigord proposed sending for a white elephant from Siam, and boiling it up into broth as a remedy for rheumatism, it is not improbable that he would have [-291-] assented to the proposition. So, the famous embrocation (for which Piccolo was to be charged cost price) was sent for from Paris. In the course of the week a deal case of considerable size, addressed to Lord Piccolo, arrived in London at the music-seller’s residence, and he was gratified by having to pay one pound nine and sevenpence sterling for carriage. The case, being opened, was found to contain sundry bottles of a dark liquid resembling treacle-beer, several packages of mysterious-looking blue-paper tubes, closely approximating in appearance to the fireworks manufactured by the Chevalier Mortram, and a large pot of pomatum. One of the bottles being opened, emitted such a deadly and charnel-like odour that Mrs. Piccolo, who is rather a strong-minded woman, immediately condemned the whole paraphernalia as rubbish, and sentenced it to perpetual penal servitude in the dusthole: which sentence was as speedily put into execution, but not before a cunning document was found coiled up among the supposititious fireworks. This turned out to be a facture, or invoice, in which Lord Piccolo, of London, was debited to Vicesimo Mercantori, Pharmacien-Droguiste, in the sum of three hundred francs, otherwise, twelve pounds sterling, for goods by him supplied. Mrs. Piccolo went into hysterics. Piccolo was moved to call Doctor Mercantori injurious names; but, as that learned pharmacien and druggist was some hundreds of miles away, the reproaches cannot have done him much harm. The worst was yet to come. Piccolo was rash enough to remonstrate with the Perigord. Miserable man! The Perigord incontinently proceeded to demolish him. She abused him in French—she abused him in Italian—she abused him in English. She wrote him letters in all sorts of languages. She stamped in his music-warehouse and shook the dust from off her feet on the threshold. She sent Girolamo Bastoggi, Avocato of Turin, to him, who spoke of la giustizia, and snuffed horribly. She even sent her mother (the Perigord had a mother at that time), a dreadful old female with a red cotton pocket-handkerchief tied round her head, and outrageously snuffy. The old lady’s embassy was not fertile in conversation, but it was dreadfully contemptuous. After expressing her opinion that England was a ‘fichu pays,’ she looked round upon the assembled Piccolo family, said, ‘Vous étes toutes des—pouah!’ snapped her fingers, expectorated, and vanished. The unhappy Piccolo would only have been too happy to pay the disputed twelve pounds, but Mercantori’s demands all [-292-] merged into the grievous wrong that had been done Madame Perigord. She had been touched in her honour, her loyalty, her good faith. She spoke of Piccolo as an infame, a man of nothing, a music-master, a gredin. She mocked herself of him.
There is a domestic animal attached to the Perigord’s establishment in the capacity of husband: a poor, weak-eyed, weak-minded man, in a long brown coat, who leads a sorry life. He is supposed to have been, in early life, a dancing-master in France; and Madame married him (it can scarcely be said that he married her) under the impression that he had ‘rentes,’ or income—which he had not. He fetches the beer; he transposes Madame Perigord’s music: he folds circulars and seals tickets when she gives a concert. The maid patronises him, and his children do not exactly know what to make of him. They call him 'ce drole de papa.' His principal consolation is in the society of a very large hairy dog, called Coco, over which he maintains unbending authority, teaching him the manual exercise with much sternness. The satirical say that Madame Perigord’s husband dines in the kitchen, and varnishes his wife’s boots when she plays male parts. When she goes to Paris, it is reported that she puts him out to board and lodge, at a cookshop in the Marais; leaving him behind while she visits Brussels or the Rhine with her daughters. It is certain that she made a long operatic tour in the United States, leaving her husband in London, and that, as she forgot to remit him any money, the unhappy man was reduced to great straits.
Here come a face and a pair of legs I know very well. how do you, Golopin? Golopin is the first flautist of the day. He is almost a dwarf. He is within a hair’s breadth of being humpbacked. He has a very old, large, white head, under which is a little, old tanned, yellow face. He plays the flute admirably, but in private life he squeaks and scratches himself. Golopin’s chiefest reminiscence, greatest glory, most favourite topic of conversation, is the fact that he was once kicked by the Emperor Napoleon. ‘In the year nine,’ he says, ‘I find myself called to play of my instrument at one of the musical entertainments give by the Emperor and King at the Tuileries. Pending the evening, feeling myself attained by an ardent thirst, I retire myself into the saloon at refreshments prepared for the artists. In train to help myself from the buffet, I perceive myself that the ribbon of my shoe bad become loose. It was justly then the fashion to wear the [-293-]  culotte courte of white kerseymere, with silk stockings. I stoop myself down then to adjust my shoe-string, having my back to the door, when I hear itself rolled upon the hinges with a movement of authority. Aussitot I receive a violent kick in the kerseymeres. I recognised the coup du maitre ­ the master kick. Yes; it was well him, the victor of Austerlitz and Marengo, the crowned of the Pope, the Emperor. I raise myself; I salute; I make the reverence; I say, “Sire!” “Ah, M. Golopin,” cries the hero, “I demand pardon of you. I took you for a caniche—a white poodle dog.” I have those kerseymeres still, my friend!’
Golopin is a worthy little creature, but is very irascible. He boasts of unnumbered persons he has killed in single combat abroad, and specially of a maître d’armes whom he vanquished with the broadsword. He has great faith in his flute, and generally carries it about with him. At Casserole’s restaurant in the Haymarket, one evening, having a violent dispute with Klitzer, the cornet-à-pistonist, who had bantered him into a state of frenzy, he positively struck that big instrumentalist in the face, though he had to jump at least a foot in the air to do so. He dismissed him with these magniloquent words, ‘Miserable! You have neither the courage of a bug nor the integrity of a lobster. had I my instrument with me I would chastise you.’ People have been rather chary of bantering Golopin since then. That bounteous, kindly, consistent mother Nature of ours, whom we all abuse, and yet should be so grateful to, scarcely ever fashions a little deformed man but she implants in him a most valorous stomach, a high disdain and sense of injured merit, a noble pugnacity and irascibility that make it dangerous to ridicule and insult him.
Who is this, that comes riding—not on a whirlwind like Mr. Addison’s angel (in a Ramilies wig) to direct the storm, but on a peacefully ambling bay pony? It is the well-known amateur and ami des artistes, Sir Peddler Fugue. See; he has just stopped his little nag, and bends over the saddle to talk to Trump, the composer. Sir Peddler Fugue is one of a class not peculiar to the musical world, but common to all the artistic professions. There is your fine-art amateur, who pokes about studios, and advises you to kill that light, and scumble that background, and glaze down that little finger; who has just come from seeing Turpey’s grand figure-piece for next year’s Exhibition; who knows why the hanging [-294-] committee treated Maul so scurvily, and how much Pallet­knife is to have for his commission from Slubber, the great Manchester cotton-spinner; and when Chizzle the sculptor will come back from Rome. There is your dramatic amateur, who has the entrée to all the green-rooms; who took Madame Spinosetti to Nice; paid for little Katty Tentoe’s choregraphic education at the Conservatoire; lent Grogham his Justice Woodcock wig; lost a few hundreds in the Capsicum Street Theatre (under Pepper’s management); wrote a very bad farce that was once played somewhere on a benefit night; and behaved like a father to Miss Haresfoot. There is your literary amateur, who was so good as to read over the proofs of Professor de Roots’s bulky work upon the Integral Calculus (a service handsomely acknowledged by De Roots in his Preface); who found the money for the ‘Comic Economist,’ a humorous illustrated publication, with contributions by the first authors and artists of the day, which had an average circulation of twelve weekly, and lived five weeks; who edited the letters and remains of Twopenny the poet (poor fellow! few remains had he to leave save tavern scores, pawn­brokers’ duplicates, and unpaid washing bills); and who is a member of the Goosequill Club, held at the Homer’s Head, Grub Street. There is your musical amateur, the gentleman who ogles Euterpe through his eye-glass; goes to all the concerts; hangs about all the music-warehouses; and is the general friend, seems, and adviser of the artists. They are worthy fellows, mostly, these art amateurs, having little in common with the big-wigged patrons of old, who were wont to be addressed somewhat in this poetic strain:-
        Still shall my Muse the noble Mugmore sing,
       Friend of the arts and couns’llor of his king,
—and who paid for servile praise with a purse full of gold pieces, just as a provision-merchant would buy a tub of far wholesomer Dorset butter. They do not resemble the ridiculous dilettanti and cognoscenti of the last century, who meddled with artists’ private affairs, and wrote them patronizing letters of advice, and suggested an alteration in a stanza, which spoilt it, and then left their protegés to starve. Thank heaven, Art wants no such patrons now! The ami des artistes of whom Sir Peddler Fugue is a type, likes and frequents artistic society for its own sake.
[-295-] Sir Peddler Fugue, Bart., is very long and lean; and, but for the excellent condition and grooming of his horse, and that he himself is dressed as a quiet English gentleman, instead of a suit of rusty armour, he would bear no inconsiderable resemblance to that deathless knight of La Mancha who had a rueful countenance. If, again, it be Quixotic to be good, and brave, and generous, yet withal a little eccentric, somewhat pedantic, and occasionally (when his exquisite taste and finished appreciation of Art get the better of him) a bit of a bore, Sir Peddler Fugue is decidedly of the same mental mould as Cervantes’ hero. Sir Peddler has a white moustache, grizzled hair, a chin tuft, and wears such spotless buckskin gloves, such lustrous boots, and has so noble and erect a carriage, that he has several times been mistaken, both at home and abroad, for the sovereign of a German principality. He is a bachelor, and lives in chambers in the Albany, where his sitting-room is hung round with M. Baugniet’s lithographs of celebrated musicians, and, I verily believe, with a specimen of every musical instrument, ancient and modern, under the sun: from David’s harp to Mr. Distin’s sax-horns: from the lyre that Bruce brought from Abyssinia, to Stradivarius’s fiddles and Case’s concertinas. The baronet plays a little on most of these instruments; but he chiefly affects a brown old violoncello, with which, in the stillness of the night season, he holds grim and mysterious conferences the instrument grumbling and groaning then, sotto voce, as if it were the repository of secrets which none might hear but he. Far in the recesses, moreover, of a gloomy street in the undiscovered countries lying between Baker Street and the Edgeware Road, there is a long, low, green-papered room, not unlike the inside of a fiddle-case. Thither, twice a week, during certain appointed months in the year, Sir Peddler Fugue repairs, preceded by his man-servant, carrying the brown old violoncello. There he meets a few other amateurs and professionals, reverent men with bald heads and spectacles: Viscount Cattegat (who elevated Miss Bowyer, the soprano, to the peerage, like a nobleman as he was); Francis Tuberose, M.P. (aetat. 80), who plays prettily on the viola; Sir Thomas Keys, that time-honoured music-master, who taught music to the princesses, and was knighted by the revered George the Third himself; and little old Doctor Sharp (Mus. Doc. Oxon.), who wears black smalls and gaiters, bless his heart, and composed a cantata for the Jubilee, goodness knows how many years ago. [-296-] When these rare old boys meet, the wax candles are lighted, pinches from golden snuff-boxes are exchanged, voluminous music scores are produced, and the veterans plunge into a Saturnalia, of which Bach, Beethoven, Mendelsshon, Mozart, are the high priests. Scrape away, ye valiant old men! Scrape, ye stout and kind old hearts! There are resonant echoes to your harmony, far away; in drowsy little country towns, in remote villages, in German Schlossen, in Italian villas, in hot Indian bungalows, where Lieutenant-Colonel Chutnee, Major Pepperpot, and Mango the surgeon, may be even now scraping tunefully for pure love of art, while dissolute Lieutenant Potts is muddling himself with brandy pawnee, and Ensigns Pockett and Cue are quarrelling over billiards.
Sir Peddler Fugue lived very long abroad, I believe, before he succeeded to the baronetcy. While in Milan, he composed an opera, of course, the libretto of which was founded on the story of Hector and Andromache, Cephalus and Aurora, or some equally dreary subject. It is said to have been produced at Cività Vecchia with considerable success as the work of the Cavaliere Maestro Pedlero Fugio, Principe Inglese. In Italy, the baronet acquired a habit of speaking his native language with such a foreign accent and manner that you are puzzled sometimes to determine his English or Italian extraction. ‘Beautiful!’ is his favourite expression. ‘I have seen the Coggi,’ he says; ‘she is B-e-a-u-ti-ful! Your opera, my dear Tromp, is b-e-a-u-ti-ful. I shall nevare forget the b-e-a-u-ti-ful cabaletto in the third act. No!’ Whereupon he lifts his hat in true foreign style, and rides away on his ambling pony, to stop or be stopped by a dozen more professionals with whom he is on terms of intimacy, in his course down Regent Street.
Still up and down the paving-stones the celebrities of the Musical World pass; and, like the fashionable lady of Banbury who rode the white horse, and had rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, a man, if he be so minded, can have music wherever he goes.