Imatges de pÓgina
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leg, the " prima donna assoluta” was fifty- had made the acquaintance of a Milanese three years of age, and the “prima bal- banker who had a charming villa on the lerina” was slightly humped in the back, opposite side of the lake, say at Silva and was endowed with but a single eye; Selvaggia. He had a pretty yacht, in which So, as you may imagine, the Canobbiana many a time we made voyages on the idle entertainments did not draw very crowded expanse, voyages which reminded me of audiences. The garden of the usually the cruise of Sir Cymochles. My host was pleasant Caffé Cova, where we dined (chiefly an enthusiastic fresh-water sailor, so much on macaroni and fried intestines), “al so that the lake boatman used to call him, fresco," had become a nuisance, owing to “Il Signore della Vela.” He was perpetuthe continual presence of noisy patriots, ally splicing his main brace, and reefing his smoking bad “Cavours," and screeching topsail. Sail ! we did nothing but sail : that about the incapacity of General de la Mar- is to say when we were not breakfasting, mora, and the shameful tergiversation of the or dining, or smoking, or drinking " asti Emperor Napoleon the Third in the matter spumante," or dozing, or playing with a of the Dominio Veneto. The caricatures in large French poodle that was rated on the the Spirito Folletto were wofully stupid, books of the yacht, and I think did more and altogether Milan had become socially work than any of the crew (one man, very uninhabitable. Mildman and I determined like Fra Diavolo in a check shirt, and to start on a ramble. We got to Chiavenna, without shoes and stockings, and a boy and so, by Vico Soprano, to St. Moritz. who played the guitar), for he was incesThence, hiring a little" calescino," a pietu- santly racing from the bow to the stern, resque kind of one-horse chaise, we made and barking at the passing boats. We Samaden, and for three weeks or so dodged spent at least eight hours out of the in and out of the minor Alpine passes-the twenty-four on the water; and when there Bernina, the Tonale, and so forth-taking was å dead calm we lay to and went to to mule-back when the roads were im- sleep. At breakfast time the Perseveranza, practicable for the " calescino," and coming the chief journal of Lombardy, came to out into the Tyrol at last somewhere near band, and our hostess would read out the Storo, where we rejoined our famous Hero telegrams for our edification. After that and his red-shirted army. After another we bade the Perseveranza go hang, and skirmish or so — we called them battles strolled down towards the yacht. I never -there was another armistice, and back read anything, I never wrote anything, I I came to Milan, but this time alone. I never thought of anything, while I was shook hands with Mildman, and the last I floating on the Idle Lake, save of what a saw of him was his slender figure bestriding capital thing it would be to be idle for ever. a mule in a mountain gorge, and in the set- In our boating excursions we frequently ting sun. He was departing in quest of landed at different points on the lake, and windmills to charge, or forlorn Dulcineas to called upon people. They were always rescue; he was bound for Damascus, or glad to see us, and to entertain us with the “ewigkeit." What do I know about fruit, wine, cigars, sonatas on the pianoforte it? Farewell, excellent Quixotic man. (if there were ladies present), and perfectly

But I went back to Mediolanum; and idle conversation. I never yet learnt the for the next eight weeks I was continually “ nice conduct of a clouded cane;" but I running backwards and forwards to the think that I acquired, during my sojourn Idle Lake. I had grown to love it. I on the Idle Lake, the art of twirling a loved even the quaint old Lombard town fan, and of cutting paper. Had I stayed from which the lake derives, not its sobri- long enongh I might have learned to quet, but its real name. There are two of whistle : that grand accomplishment of the dirtiest and dearest hotels in Northern the perfect idler. By degrees I became Italy in that town; yet I was fond of them conscious that my visiting acquaintance both. There are as many evil smells in was extending among a very

remarkable the town as in Cologne; yet the imperfect set of people; and that nearly everybody drainage, and the too apparent presence occupying the dainty palazzi and trim of decaying animal and vegetable matter little villas nestling among the vines, and in the market-place, did not affect me. oranges, and olives of the Idle Lake was Was I not on the shore of the great, calm, Somebody. It will be no violation of confiblue lake, with the blue sky above, and the dence I hope, and no ungrateful requital of blue mountains in the distance, and the hospitality, to hint that at Bella Riviera to whole glorious landscape shot with threads the north-east was situated the charming of gold by the much embroidering sun ? I country house of Madame la Princesse Hatzoff, the consort, indeed, of the well. a bitter sickness comes across her. What known General Adjutant and Grand Cham- artificer likes to reflect upon his loss of berlain to His Imperial Majesty the Tsar competency in his art ? Are retired amof all the Russias. M. le Prince resides on bassadors, are generals hopelessly on halfhis extensive estates in the government of pay, are superannuated statesmen, or the Tamboff. Some say that he is sojourning in head-masters of public schools, who have a yet remoter government, that of Tobolsk retired on handsome pensions, so very in Siberia, where he is occupied in mining happy, think you ? Not so, perchance. pursuits in the way of rolling quartz stone Ambition survives capacity very often. The in the wheelbarrow to which he, as a life diplomatist clings to his despatch-bag, the convict, is chained. The Princess Hatzoff soldier to his bâton of command, the minispasses her winters either in Paris or ter to his red box, the pedant to his rod, Florence, her springs in England, her the actor to his sock and buskin or his autumns at Homburg or Baden, and her comic mask, long after the verdict of supersummers on the Idle Lake. She is fuity has been delivered; long after the enormously rich, although M. le Prince, dread fiat of inefficiency has gone forth— during their brief wedded life, did his best the fiat proclaiming that the bellows are: to squander the splendid fortune she burned, that the lead is consumed of the brought him. She is growing old now; fire, and that the founder worketh in vain. her clustering ringlets-she was renowned All round the coasts of the Idle Lake for her ringlets—are silvery white; her there were retired celebrities. The district shoulders are arched, and her hands was a kind of prosperous Patmos, a St. tremble ominously as she holds her cards Helena tenanted by voluntary exiles, a at piquet; but her complexion is still ex-jovial Cave of Adullam. Here vegetated quisitely clear, and she is not indebted to an enriched director of promenade concerts; art for the roses on her cheeks. Her feet there enjoyed his sumptuous “otium” the are deliciously small and shapely, and she ex-proprietor of dwarfs and giants, of is fond of exhibiting them, in their open- learned pigs and industrious fleas; and in worked silk stockings, and their coquettish yonder Swiss châlet lived a lion-tamer, little slippers with the high heels and the much famed on the Idle Lake for his propink rosettes. Forty years ago you used ficiency in breeding rabbits. Millionaire to see waxen models, coloured to the life, patentees of cough lozenges, bronchitic of those feet (with the adjoining ankles), wafers, anti-asthmatical cigarettes, univeray, and of those half-paralysed hands, in sal pills, and Good Samaritan ointments, the shops of the Palais Royal and Regent- abounded on the Lake; together with a street, and the Great Moskaia at Peters- group of wealthy veteran tenors, baritones, burg. Forty years ago her portraits, in and bassi, several Parisian restaurateurs half a hundred costumes and a whole hun- and café keepers who had realised large dred attitudes, were to be found in every fortunes; a contractor of one of the Rhine printseller's window in Europe. Forty years watering - place gambling tables; many ago she was not Madame la Princesse affluent linendrapers and court milliners, Hatzoff, but Mademoiselle Marie Fragioli, and an English ex-butcher from Bond. the most famous opera-dancer of her age. street, as rich as Crosus. All who were The world has quite forgotten her, but I out of debt, and had nothing to grumble doubt whether she has as completely for- at, seemed to have gathered themselves to. gotten the world : nay, I fancy that in gether on these shores, leading a tranquil, her sumptuous retreat she sometimes rages, dozy, dawdling kind of existence, so that and is wretched at the thought that age, you might have imagined them to be pardecrepitude, and her exalted rank com- takers before their time of the delights of pel her to wear long clothes, and that in some Eastern Elysium, and to be absorbed the airiest of draperies she can no longer in the perpetual contemplation of Buddha. spring forward to the footlights, night after But my days of relaxation on the banks night, to be deafened by applause, and of the Idle Lake came, with that autumn, pelted with bouquets, and to find after- to an end; and away I went into the wards at the stage-door more bouquets, with “ewigkeit,” always into the “ewigkeit,” to diamond bracelets for holders, and reams be tossed about in more wars and rumours of billet-doux on pink note-paper. Those of wars, and rebellions and revolutions. triumphs, for her, are all over. They are For years I have not set eyes upon the enjoyed by sylphs as fair, as nimble, and as Idle Lake; but I often dream of it, and caressed as she has been ; and when she puzzle myself to determine whether it is reads of their successes in the newspapers situated somewhere between the Lake of

Garda and the Lake of Como. But that this appetising addition the play has never there is such a Lake, and that it is glo- been represented. There is a story, howriously Idle, I am very certain.

ever, which one can only hope is incorrect, of an impresario of Oriental origin,

who supplying the necessary meal, yet STAGE BANQUETS.

subsequently fined his company all round

on the ground that they had “combined to A VETERAN actor of inferior fame once ex. destroy certain of the properties of the pressed his extreme dislike to what he was theatre." pleased to term “the sham wine parties” There are many other plays in the course of Macbeth and others. He was aweary of which genuine food is consumed on the of the Barmecide banquets of the stage, of stage. But some excuse for the generally affecting to quaff with gusto imaginary fictitious nature of theatrical repasts is to wine out of empty pasteboard goblets, and be found in the fact that eating, during of making believe to have an appetite for performance, is often a very difficult matwooden apples and“ property' comestibles. ter for the actors to accomplish. Michael He was in every sense a poor player, and Kelly in his Memoirs relates that he was had often been a very hungry one. He required to eat part of a fowl in the supper took especial pleasure in remembering the scene of a bygone operatic play called A entertainments of the theatre in which the House to be Sold. Bannister at rehearsal necessities of performance, or regard for had informed him that it was very difficult rooted tradition, involved the setting of to swallow food on the stage. Kelly was real edible food before the actors. At the incredulous, however. “But strange as it same time he greatly lamented the limited may appear,” he writes, “ I found it a fact number of dramas in which these precious that I could not get down a morsel. My opportunities occurred.

embarrassment was a great source of fun He had grateful memories of the rather to Bannister and Suett, who were both obsolete Scottish melodrama of Cramond gifted with the accommodating talent of Brig; for in this work old custom de- stage feeding. Whoever saw poor Suett as manded the introduction of a real sheep's the lawyer in No Song no Supper, tucking head with accompanying “ trotters.” He in his boiled leg of lamb, or in the Siege told of a North British manager who was of Belgrade, will be little disposed to wont-especially when the salaries he was question my testimony to the fact. From supposed to pay were somewhat in arrear, this account, however, it is manifest that and he desired to keep his company in good the difficulty of "stage feeding," as Kelly humour and, may be, alive-to produce this calls it, is not invariably felt by all actors play on Saturday nights. For some days alike. And probably, although the appebefore the performance the dainties that tites of the superior players may often fail were destined to grace it underwent ex- them, the supernumerary or the represen. hibition in the green-room. A label bore tative of minor characters could generally the inscription : "This sheep's head will contrive to make a respectable meal if appear in the play of Cramond Brig on the circumstances of the case supplied the next Saturday night. God save the King." opportunity. * It afforded us all two famous dinners, The difficulty that attends eating on the reveals our veteran. “We had a large pot stage does not, it would seem, extend to of broth made with the head and feet; drinking, and sometimes the introduction these we ate on Saturday night; the broth of real and potent liquors during the perwe had on Sunday.” So in another Scottish formance has lead to unfortunate results. play, the Gentle Shepherd of Allan Ram- Thus Whincop, who, in 1747, published a say, it was long the custom on stages north tragedy called Scanderbeg, adding to it of the Tweed to present a real haggis, “a List of all the Dramatic Authors, with although niggard managers were often some Account of their Lives,”' &c., describes tempted to substitute for the genuine dish a curious occurrence at the Theatre Royal a far less savoury if more wholesome mess in 1693. A comedy entitled The Wary of oatmeal. But a play more famous still Widow, or Sir Noisy Parrot, written by for the reality of its victuals, and better one Higden, and now a very scarce book, known to modern times, was Prince Hoare's had been produced ; but on the first remusical farce, No Song, no Supper. A presentation, the author had contrived steaming hot boiled leg of lamb and tur- so much drinking of punch in the play nips may be described as quite the leading that the actors almost all got drunk, and character in this entertainment. Without were unable to get through with it, so that

the audience was dismissed at the end of I cut a slice when I'm having my own tea, the third act." Upon subsequent perform at home, and bring it down with me.” ances of the comedy no doubt the manage- Rather among the refreshments of the ment reduced the strength of the punch, side-wings than of the stage must be or substituted some harmless beverage, counted that reeking tumbler of “

very toast-and-water perhaps, imitative of that brown, very hot, and very strong brandyardent compound so far as mere colour and-water, which, as Doctor Doran rewas concerned. There have been actors, lates, was prepared for poor Edmund however, who have refused to accept the Kean, as, towards the close of his career, innocent semblance of vinous liquor sup- he was wont to stagger from before the plied by the management, and especially footlights, and, overcome by his exertions when, as part of their performance, they and infirmities, to sink, “a helpless, speechwere required to simulate intoxication. À less, fainting, bent-up mass," into the chair certain representative of Cassio was wont placed in readiness to receive the shatto take to the theatre a bottle of claret tered, ruined actor. With Kean's protofrom his own cellar, whenever he was type in acting and in excess, George called upon to sustain that character. It Frederick Cooke, it was less a question of took possession of him too thoroughly, he stage or side-wing refreshments than of said, with a plausible air, to allow of his the measure of preliminary potation he had affecting inebriety after holding an empty indulged in. In what state would he come goblet to his lips, or swallowing mere toast- down to the theatre ? Upon the answer to and-water or small beer. Still his pre- that inquiry the entertainments of the night caution had its disadvantages. The real greatly depended. “I was drunk the night claret he consumed might make his intem- before last,” Cooke said on one occasion; perance somewhat too genuine and accu-“still I acted, and they hissed me. Last rate; and his portrayal of Cassio's speedy night I was drunk again, and I didn't act, return to sobriety might be in such wise they hissed all the same. There's no knowvery difficult of accomplishment. So there ing how to please the public." A fine actor, have been players of dainty taste, who, Cooke was also a genuine humorist, and required to eat in the presence of the au- it must be said for him, although a like dience, have elected to bring their own excuse has been perhaps too often pleaded provisions, from some suspicion of the for such failings as his, that his senses gave quality of the food provided by the ma- way, and his brain became affected after nagement. We have heard of a clown very slight indulgence. From this, howwho, entering the theatre nightly to under- ever, he could not be persuaded to abstain, take the duties of his part, was observed and so made havoc of his genius, and terto carry with him always a neat little paper minated, prematurely and ignobly enough, parcel. What did it contain ? bystanders his professional career. inquired of each other. Well, in the comic Many stories are extant as to performscenes of pantomime it is not unusual to ances being interrupted by the entry of insee a very small child, dressed perhaps as nocent messengers bringing to the players, a charity-boy, crossing the stage, bearing in the presence of the audience, refreshin his hands a slice of bread-and-butter. ments they had designed to consume beThe clown steals this article of food and hind the scenes, or sheltered from observadevours it; whereupon the child, crying tion between the wings. Thus it is told of aloud, pursues him hither and thither about one Walls, who was the prompter in a Scotthe stage. The incident always excites tish theatre, and occasionally appeared in much amusement; for in pantomimes the minor parts, that he once directed a maidworld is turned upside-down, and moral of-all-work, employed in the wardrobe deprinciples have no existence; cruelty is partment of the theatre, to bring him a gill only comical, and outrageous crime the of whisky. The night was wet, so the girl, best of jokes. The paper parcel borne to not caring to go out, intrusted the comthe theatre by the clown under mention mission to a little boy who happened to be enclosed the bread-and-butter that was to standing by. The play was Othello, and figure in the harlequinade. “You see I'm Walls played the Duke. The scene of the a particular feeder,” the performer ex- senate was in course of representation. plained. “I can't eat bread-and-butter of Brabantio had just stated : any one's cutting. Besides, I've tried it, and they only afford salt butter. I can't

My particular grief stand that. So as I've got to eat it and

Is of so flood-gate and o'erbearing nature,

That it engluts and swallows other sorrows, no mistake, with all the house looking at me, And it is still itself,

and the Duke, obedient to his cue, had in- maker, and are designed for what are quired:

known as the “spill and pelt” scenes of Why, what's the matter?

the pantomime. They represent juicy when the little boy appeared upon the legs of mutton, brightly streaked with red stage, bearing a pewter measure, and ex- and white, quartern loaves, trussed fowls, plained, “It's just the whisky, Mr. Walls; turnips, carrots, and cabbages, strings of and I could na git ony at fourpence, so sausages, fish of all kinds, sizes, and yer awn the landlord a penny; and he colours; they are to be stolen and pocketed says it's time you was payin' what's doon by the clown, recaptured by the policeman, i the book.” The senate broke up amidst and afterwards wildly whirled in all directhe uproarious laughter of the audience. tions in a general “ rally” of all the cha

Real macaroni in Masaniello, and real racters in the harlequinade. They are but champagne in Don Giovanni, in order that adroitly painted canvas stuffed with straw Leporello may have opportunities for or sawdust. No doubt the property-maker "comic business” in the supper scene, are sometimes views from the wings with con. demanded by the customs of the opera- siderable dismay the severe usage to which tic stage.

Realism generally, indeed, is his works of art are subjected. “He's an exgreatly affected in the modern theatre. cellent clown, sir," one such was once heard The audiences of to-day require not merely to say, regarding from his own stand-point that real water shall be seen to flow from the performance of the jester in question. a pump, or to form a cataract, but that "He don't destroy the properties as some real wine shall proceed from real bottles, do.” Perhaps now and then, too, a minor and be fairly swallowed by the performers. actor or a supernumerary, who has derided In Paris, a complaint was recently made “the sham wine parties of Macbeth and that, in a scene representing an entertain- others," may lament the scandalous waste ment in modern fashionable society, the of seeming good victuals in a pantomime. champagne supplied was only of a second. But, as a rule, these performers are not rate quality Through powerful opera- fanciful on this, or, indeed, on any other glasses the bottle labels could be read, and subject. They are not to be deceived by the the management's sacrifice of truthfulness illusions of the stage; they are themselves to economy was severely criticised. The too much a part of its shams and artifices. audience resented the introduction of the Property legs of mutton are to them not cheaper liquor, as though they had them- even food for reflection, but simply "proselves been constrained to drink it.

perties,” and nothing more. Otherwise, a As part also of the modern regard for somewhat too cynical disposition might be realism may be noted the "cooking-scenes,” unfortunately encouraged; and the poor which have frequently figured in recent plays. player, whose part requires him to be lavish The old conjuring trick of making a pud- of bank-notes of enormous amount upon the ding in a hat never won more admiration stage, and the hungry "super,” constrained than is now obtained by such simple expe- to maltreat articles of food which he would dients as frying bacon or sausages, or prize dearly if they were but real, might be broiling chops or steaks upon the stage in too bitterly affected by noting the grievous sight of the audience. The manufacture discrepancy existing between their private of paste for puddings or pies by one of and their public careers—the men they are the dramatis persone has also been very and the characters they seem to be. favourably received, and the first glimpse of the real rolling-pin and the real flour to be thus employed, has always been attended

CASTAWAY. with applause. In a late production, the

BY THE AUTHOR OF “BLACK SHEEP," "WRECKED IN opening of a soda-water bottle by one of the characters was generally regarded as quite the most impressive effect of the representation.

CHAPTER VIII. COMBINATION AND CONSPIRACY. At Christmas time, when the shops are Mrs. ENTWISTLE lying on her sofa, which so copiously supplied with articles of food -there being no longer anything worth as to suggest a notion that the world is looking out at-had been moved away from content to live upon half-rations at other the window and wheeled opposite the fire, seasons of the year, there is extraordinary was gazing into the glowing coals, and storing of provisions at certain of the seeing in them dreary scenes, which theatres. These are not edible, however; harmonised with the gloomy state of her they are due to the art of the property- mental reflection, for Mrs. Entwistle was

PORT,” &c. &c.

BOOK III.

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