« PreviousContinue »
made his fame by the exquisite music which he wrote for the “Tempest."
Lecocq's latest opera-boutfe, “ Les Prós St. Gervais," which was brought out at the Criterion on Nov. 28, only a fortnight after its production in Paris, has had a triumphant success, and promises to be almost as long-lived as the famous “Madame Angot." The plot is good, and, for a wonder, intelligible, the music bright and sparkling throughout; and there is nothing that can offend the ear of the most fastidious. Madame Pauline Rita, who plays the principal character—that of a young Prince de Conte, whose adventures at a lourgeois picnic party, which he visits in disguise, forms the subject of the piece—sings the music allotted to her charmingly, though as an actress she has much to learn. The rest of the cast is fairly good, and the chorus and orchestra are all that can be desired.
Probably there has never been a time when it has been possible to hear so much good music in London as now The Albert Hall Concerts offer a constant succession of musical treats of the highest order. The Monday and Saturday Popular Concerts supply the one class of music which cannot be heard at the Albert Hall.
At the Crystal Palace there is the annual series of classical concerts by Mr. Mann's unrivalled band; and the veteran Sacred Harmonic Society have commenced their yearly performances of oratorios at Exeter Hall. As for the first of these, it would take far more space than we have at our command to go through in detail a tithe of the music that has been heard at the Albert Hall during the last few weeks. The original programme has been so far adhered to with tolerable fidelity, though the line which separates the music of the “ English night from that of the
Popular” and “ Ballad” nights is a very thin on, hardly perceptible to the outside public. In fact, it has been found desirable to particularize some of these nights by giving to the selection some special character, and we have had two “Scotch nights," which proved brilliant successes, an “Irish night," and a “Welsh night.” The oratorio concerts are of course the principal feature of the scheme, and they have been, on the whole, the best attended; but the performance of an oratorio every week is as severe a task on the devotion of the public as it must be on the attention of the chorus. It is much to be feared also that with such frequent performances, habits o insufficient rehearsal, and consequent carelessness, wilf grow up, which will prove fatal in the end. We should
really be glad to hear that there is truth in the report that the directors intend abridging the number of concerts to two in each week, as we believe that the performances would be better and the audiences larger. In the miserable weather which is too common at this time of year, a visit to—and worse still, departure from—the Albert Hall, entail miseries which only the most devoted amateurs of music will be prepared to face. The two latest oratorio performances have been the “Elijah” and the Passion Music (“St. Matthew "). The former laboured under several disadvantages, the chief of which were the absence of Mr. Sims Reeves and a want of steadiness in the chorus. Messrs. Montem Smith and Carter did their best to atone for the former, and Mr. Barnby tried his hardest to counteract the latter, but neither were particularly successful. In the Passion Music, the choir was heard to far greater advantage.
The Sacred Harmonic Society opened with " Elijah," which they followed up with “ Solomon," on Dec. 11. Considerable alterations have been made in the personnel of the choir, and several of the veterans have been replaced by younger members, but there is still plenty of room for improvement in the direction of firmness and accuracy of attack.
The ante Christmas series of the Crystal Palace Saturday Concerts come to an end on Dec. 19, when we believe Sir F. G. Ouseley's new oratorio, “Hagar," will be given. The most interesting of the more recent ones was that of Saturday, Dec. 5, the anniversary of Mozart's death, in consequence of which most of the music was selected from his works. The “ Jupiter" symphony and the "Figaro" overture naturally found a place in the programme, and both were magnificently played. M, Sainton introduced a violin concerto, written by the Master for his own use, and played it with his well-known breadth of tone and accuracy of intonation, but the piece itself was not specially interesting. At the concert of the 12th, Schubert's magnificent C Major symphony was given.
The old Hanover Square Rooms, having been for years the centre of classical music in London, are about to be converted into a club-house, and a farewell concert will be given there by the Royal Academy of Music on Dec. 19. The rooms long enjoyed the reputation of being the very best in London for sound, and a wondertul host of musical associations cluster round them,
POLITICS FOR LADIES.
for adding this feature to the contents of our Magazine, and we feel assured that current events will always supply enough subjects of interest to justify us in appropriating the space necessary to record them.
It is a very important question, not only to statesmen and professed politicians, but to society generally, what is to be the future of France? It is vow nearly four years since the Germans completed their conquest, and since France undertook to establish a Government to replace that of the fallen Emperor, and how much nearer is it to a settlement? At present there seems to be a lall in the great strife of parties; but it is only a lull, and any moment may witness the outbreak in the civil conflict. One year of the Septennate has expired, but he would be a daring man who would predict that Marshal Macmahon has a safe lease of power for the coming six years. Perhaps there may be some of our readers who are not quite clear as to the meaning of the Septennate, and we will try to explain. In December, 1873, it was agreed by the Legislative Assembly that the Marshal shonld remain in power as President for seven years; but it by no means decided what was to come after the seven years were ended. The Septennate (meaning, of course, term of seven years) was a truce, not a settlement. A Republic was only definitively established, and the Legitimists, Orleanists, Imperialists, and Republicans were alike hopeful that time night bring such changes, that, when the seven years have expired, they will be able to command such a majority of the nation as will establish the form of government they desire. Marshal Macmahon is not, then, the first of a line of Presidents, constitutionally established, like the Presidents of the United States, with a seven years' lease of power, but only a President pro tem., charged with maintaining order and public security, and developing the resources of the country. In his message at the opening of the Assembly he claims no higher position, and, devoid as he is supposed to be of personal ambition, he may, no doubt, safely be depended on to perform the duty he is charged with. There is a slight tendency observable amongst those moderate members of the Monarchical parties to accept a Republic as the only possible Government, and certainly the mercantile community, satisfied with the development and increasing wealth of the country, are disposed to defer theoretical politics and personal prejudices in favour of a government which can insure peace and prosperity. But thoughtful observers cannot avoid thinking what might be the state of France, with the chief of the army and the most popular soldier in the country as the arbiter of its destiny, were not that chief the moderate, unambitious man, faithful to his duty, that Marshal Macmahon has proved himself to be.
Our Parliament will meet for the despatch of business on the 5th of February, and then we shall soon know
what the deliberations of the Cabinet are likely to produce. One matter about which some alarming prognostications have been uttered the state of the national finances-promises to wear a more satisfactory aspect than it was supposed would be the case. Our national housekeeping is a subject in which ladies should fell an especial interest. It is the domestic difficulty on enlarged scale. The great national family is to be taken care of, and provided for, and the bills must be met when due. Sir Stafford Northcote, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, must have had an anxious time for the last few months. He had estimated that a certain amount of revenue would be available by the time the next Budget would have to be prepared, and for a time it seemed that his calculation was utterly fallacious, and that a very ugly deficiency would be the feature of the next financial statement. Visions of a recurrence of the income tax to its rate before the last reduction, haunted the dreams of nervous heads of families; but it now seems more than probable that, not only will the year's receipts be ample to cover the expenditure, but that very possibly there may be an available surplus.
Mr. Gladstone's attack on Ritualism and the Vatican decrees are the first note of conflict, in which we may expect he will engage in the coming session. His shots at the Romish Church have told well, and he appears to have a reserve of ammunition for the Ritualists. The position they now occupy is a very strange one. They are neither in the Church nor out of it. Mr. Mackonochie, of St. Alban's Church, is suspended for six weeks by a decree of an ecclesiastical court, but he has given notice of an appeal to the Privy Council. Virtually the Ritualists smile at the power of the law to control them, and are almost as independent of it as if the union of Church and State were the fiction it almost appears to be when the State-supported bishops are so powerless. Either they must be strengthened to deal effectively with the clergymen in their dioceses in enforcing uniformity, or the Church must be disestablished, and naturally divide into the various sects of which it is actually composed, each to depend upon itself for support,
It is not exactly an agreeable reflection that, in these times, when we are disposed to value so highly the results of our boasted civilization, and the influence on the minds of the lower classes of society of better intellectual and moral instruction, one of the chief topics of conversation is the prevalent, and, apparently, increasing brutality of men towards their wives, and the best means of making such an example of convicted ruffians as may deter others. One of our ablest judges, Mr. Justice Mellor, has publicly expressed his opinion that he has felt it his duty to overcome his natural repugnance to the use of the “cat,'' from a growing conviction that no other form of punishment will be efficient. In such a case, any ta'k about " degradation" would be simply absurd.
GATHER UP THE FRAGMENTS.
where only one has grown before, is to be esteemed a benefactor to his country, surely the woman who can make the materials for a meal which have hitherto been considered but enough for one sufficient for two, must be considered a benefactor to her country in an equal degree. The one will be a proficient in the art of agriculture, the other well versed in the art of cookery—arts of civilized nations on which depend, to use the words of Count Rumford, the number of inhabitants which may be supported in any country upon its internal produce."
To hope to support the inhabitants of the United Kingdom on the food that can be raised within its limits, is to expect the realization of an impossibility, for much, if not most, of the food we consume comes (and in future years must come in a far greater degree as population increases) from foreign lands, and therefore there is all the more need that the women of England and Wales, Scotland, and Ireland should be proficient in the art of cookery, and skilled in the science of domestic economy. To have a thorough knowledge of the former, in fact, is to be master of the latter, for good cookery means economy and carefulness, as a good cook will never throw away even a fragment of bone till all the nutritious matter it contains has been extracted from it; and even then, the bone itself, bereft of all its gelatine, should be preserved for transfer to those who collect such substan for the manufacture of manure, or, better still, utilized at home by being crushed for the garden, for all plants are improved by an admixture of bone-dust in the soil in which they grow; and to single out one class of vegetables which are particularly valuable as a heat-producing article of food, for leguminous plants it is most essential.
In nature nothing is ever lost-nothing that has been called into being by the Creator can ever suffer destruction. What we call destruction is merely change. We throw a lump of coal on the fire, and because, when it is burned, we see it no longer in the form and condition in which it was when it was placed on the fire, we say in common parlance that it is destroyed, gone, lost. This, however, is not so; the form in which it met our eyes when it was brought from the depths of the earth, and stored in our cellars for use in due season, is destroyed it is true, but the elements of which the coal was composed remain. They have been separated by the agency of heat, and have entered into new combinations—have assumed new forms. The chief constituents of coal are carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen; combined with these in small proportions are nitrogen and sulphur, and there is a residue of earthy matter which we call “ash.” Where coal is subjected to the action of heat in a stove or open
grate, part of the carbon escapes up the chimney unconsumed in the form of smoke or small fine particles of carbon, much of which is attracted to and remains on the sides of the chimney in its passage upwards, and renders necessary its cleansing by the chimney-sweep at certain times. The oxygen of the air, without which a fire cannot burn, unites with part of the carbon that is disengaged, and forms the gaseous substance which is called carbonic acid, and with the hydrogen of the coal the oxygen of the air forms water, which is expelled in the form of steam. By this chemical union of the oxygen of the air with the carbon and hydrogen of the coal, heat is evolved. The nitrogen of the coal is dispelled as gaseous ammonia, and the sulphur as sulphurous acid. The earthy matter or residue remains in the grate. Thus, though the coal is burnt it is not destroyed, but the elements of which it was 'composed are merely liberated from the peculiar bond of union that has so long held them together, and set free to enter into other combinations, and to do other work in the great laboratory of Nature.
Cinders or half-burned bits of coal are sadly wasted in most houses, through the reluctance of the servant to sift the ashes when removed from the grate, and save all that is large enough to be placed on the fire once more. In his lectures delivered in the cookery schools at the International Exhibition for 1873 and 1874, some of which are now printed in an abridged form,* Mr. Buckmaster gives the following useful lesson on the value of cinders in lighting a fire. “ Fuel,” he says, and it is a truth to which every householder will give assent, probably with a sigh, “has now become a very expensive article in every household, and the proper management of a fire should be the constant consideration of the cook. To light a fire, begin by placing a few cinders at the bottom of the grate, then take some crumpled-up paper, a letter, carpenters' shavings, or light dry brushwood, then a few dry sticks loosely across each other, then some of the largest cinders, then a few pieces of nobby coal about the size of a tennis ball, and finish with a few pieces nicely placed between the bars. Light the fire in two or three places at the bottom with a lucifer or lighted paper. A servant who uses a candle is wasteful and untidy. When the fire is well lighted, place some larger pieces of coal and cinders at the back, and always put on the coals either with your hands, for which you may keep an old glove, or a shovel, never throw them on from the scuttle. All the smaller coal, cinders, and refuse, place on the top, and in a few minutes you will have a good fire, and by a good fire is not meant a wasteful and extravagant
* BUCKMASTER'S COOKERY. George Routledge & Sons.