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in Spain. The ladies meet, chat, and talk for an hour in the afternoon; in the evening, the gentlemen come in, and merely smoke their paper cigarettes, and, perhaps, drink a glass of cold water (but rarely) and so, with bright conversation, and no expense or trouble to either master or servants, a great deal of simple pleasure is afforded, and all come satisfied, and drop off pleased and contented. Even to go so high in middle-class life as the regular weekly reunion at Señor Castelar's modest house in Madrid, no viands are ever offered; the guests simply sit round the room of the great orator, smoke their paper cigarettes, and listen to his sparkling wit and brilliant conversation; and thus the privilege of entertaining your friends is put within the reach of all.
Poverty in middle-class people is never a bar to seeing society; and poverty owes a debt to Spanish customs. Here there is none of the cruel mortification carried on against decent poverty as in England; the poor charity-school girl's beautiful rich hair is not cropped and shorn. In England, poverty, I grant, has less physical suffering, and is better relieved, than in Spain, but it is far more insulted. In Spain, poverty has great suffering, but it has no insults to wound its feelings all may be poor, one day; poverty is sympathized with; poverty maintains its decent self-respect.
And every one who has a chair and a brasero can give a winter evening's party, and meet their friends in social intercourse.
I come to speak of one more, and that an important, use of the copa, or brasero: a wire cage is put over the brass pan of glowing charcoal, and it is lifted into the bed, after the fashion of the English warming-pan: shifted about from side to side, the sheets are soon thoroughly warmed. The comfort of this to an invalid in the icy cold of Madrid or Valladolid can hardly be told. Every good housewife buys, each week, at the door, a packet, costing two and a half pence, of dried lavender-flowers, and each day sprinkles a certain portion upon the glowing charcoal; thus the whole room is perfumed, and smells much like a church where the incense has lately been swung.
It is in this way, too, that the close room of the invalid is fumigated, the pan being put on his bed, and the fumes of the aromatic lavender playing round him like a cloud, and giving warmth, sweetness of perfume, and relief to the bronchial tubes.
As regards house-rent, for thirty-six pounds per annum a good one-story house (unfurnished) may be had, in Andalucian towns, and a piso, or flat, for two pounds per month. For living at a lodging-house the guest pays about eight shil
lings per diem, for which he gets one small room, the use of a public sitting-room, and two meals per diem, with weak wine ad libitum.
In old Spanish houses there is generally a very cleverly contrived secret receptacle for money, akin to the "secret drawer" of the oldfashioned English desk; and even now this secret cupboard is much used, the Spanish idea of security being (an idea founded on the bitter experience of many years) to cage the windows in iron bars, lock up the house at night, in winter draw round one the family, look at the money, and then: "Why, I am very safe; all I love and all I need is contained within the four walls of my casa." There is, I grieve to say, a vast deal of distrust of banks and government securities, and a great holding to the proverb, "No hay mas amigo que Dios, y un duro en el bolsillo" (i. e., "No friend save God, and a dollar in your pocket").
And now with the middle class there is no banking of money; the bankers, to begin with, give no interest, as a rule; and just as in Scotland, in the troubled year of 1650, the goldsmiths were the only bankers, so now in Spain the gentry constantly hoard their money in their own houses; some put their jewelry and plate in the montes de piedad, of which more anon.
We have now fairly finished our sketch of the Spanish gentleman's or tradesman's house; we must rise at early morning to pass an ordinary day with a family of the class which I am attempting to describe.
The Spaniards are, as a rule, exceedingly early risers, the chief business of shopping being necessarily, owing to the scorching heats by day, performed in the early morning: at 4 A. M. the dawn-the lovely, cool, even chilly madrugada of Spain-breaks out dimly, the last sound of the sereno's, or night-watchman's, cry has died away along the voiceless street-then the family arise, the ladies to dress, the men to smoke the morning cigarette, and all to drink a cup of chocolate and eat a fragment of toast or sponge-cake.
Ere five o'clock has struck, the streets are thronged; the servants are all en route, basket on arm, to buy the day's provisions at the fruitmarket, the ladies of the party are all fussing about, putting on the "customary suit of solemn black," for is not the misa, or early service-bell, already clanging out from the old, gray, timehonored church-tower?
A more beautiful sight, or one more suggestive, than a Spanish street-corner at 6 A. M. I have never yet beheld. Two streams are meeting in the crowded, sunlit, joyous streets-the poor toilers and the stately, dark-robed dames and their daughters, and the husband or son of the family. They each are going on a different
errand, each to a different scene and place-the gentry to church, the servants to the plaza de fruta; and the two sides of the religious life, working and praying, are finely contrasted.
With lustrous, dreamy eyes, with stately step, with gilt-leaved prayer-book in hand, with rich silk dress of deepest black, and black mantilla, the lithe but stately Spanish ladies glide over the rugged stones on their way to the misa at the early morn in the perfumed, incense-scented church, in the crumbling, hoary square, in the lowly street.
Not like the ostentatious religion of the English is this Spanish phase of Christian worship. The English worshiper, donning his or her religion, just as he dons his Sunday attire, presses toward his pew, at glare of eleven-o'clock sun, sits out a two hours' service, observes that "Mr. So-and-so wasn't there," and criticises the sermon-thus breaking at once the first rule of Christianity," Judge not."
The Spaniard, in plain mourning-suit or dress, just pushes humbly aside the curtain of the church-door, and kneels to pray upon the lowly estera, or the stone-flagged floor, and, having prayed, slips out, wholly unseen and unobserved in the somber gloom and darkness of the church. The Spaniard listens to, but forbears to criticise, the preacher and his words.
The Spaniard makes religious worship a part of his daily life.
The Spaniard has no "pew" or "sitting"; he kneels beside his shoemaker, his shoeblack, his field-laborer, his costermonger, his milliner, and in God's house, at least to all appearance, all are equal.
The Spaniard is not locked into a building for two hours, as is the fashion in English churches he goes in, kneels down, and slips out unobserved when his heart is satisfied and his feelings have expended themselves in his act of worship.
The stream of toilers has met the stream of prayers, and Mary and Martha separate, until breakfast-time, when servant and master meet again.
The hours of meals with the Spanish families differ slightly; but, with all, there are two chief meals (to say nothing of the cup of early chocolate) in the day. At 11 A. M. or 12 is the almuerzo, or breakfast, and at 4 or 6 P. M. the comida, or dinner. A few years since the custom was (and it prevails now, in old pueblos and with old families) to breakfast at 9.30 A. M. and dine at 3, and have a trifle of supper at 9 P. M.
In Cataluña the manufacturing poor have almuerzo at 8.30 A. M., merienda, or luncheon, at 12, and comida, or cena, at 6 or 6.30 P. M.; while the peasantry in most parts of Spain have
at 6 A. M. a copa of aguardiente, at 12 their breakfast, at 4 P. M. just a “snack” and a cigar, and at 6, on their return home, their supper.
However, modern middle-class Spain breakfasts at II A. M., and dines at about 5 or 6 P. M.
Dines-breakfasts-lunches! did I say? If these words convey to my reader's ears the idea of strictly fixed hours, of papa standing sharpening his scythe at the end of the table to mow down beef in sheaves, mamma pegging into some unhappy child who comes in with a tumbled pinafore, a "grace" before meat that absolutely means nothing (Spaniards say, "God only listens to one grace, that is, the sending a slice of the dinner to the poor"; and I think they say truly), and a "grace after meat" that means less than nothing, but before the saying of which no one may dare to move from table-if my words conjure up any such picture before my reader's eyes, let them be immediately dismissed.
The perfect ease of the family life, even if, as I believe, it is too often carried to excess, binds the members of one family together with, literally, "cords of a man." Nowhere, as in Spain, do the big sons so love and seek their seat at their father's simple table, and love to be with their mother and sisters.
True, too often they are men who ought to be up and doing; winning honor in the army or navy, toiling in the counting-house, felling trees in the colonies, or delving for gold in far 'Frisco. But I am bound, in writing, to put the lights as well as the shadows before my readers, and, deeply as I lament to see "Young Spain" so often content to live upon his aged father's savings, yet I must not disguise the fact of the great affection and amiability that exist.
It is breakfast-time; the aguador, or watercarrier, has filled the barrels, and the table is "laid "—with a snowy cloth, with porous Andujar pitchers of classic shape; with a melon rolling here and there; knives, forks, plates, put on without any regard to order or arrangement; bunches of white and purple grapes, and a few bottles of red astringent wine; the red wine, like Burgundy, of Val de Peñas; the amber-colored wine of Almera (grown in the slopes around Albuñol); the red wine of Cataluña; or, perhaps, the white wine of Seville. Bread lies, in spiral roscas, or in French rolls, or in teleras (long, thick staves of coarse bread), all about the table; a few aromatic flowers, bought in the plaza, stand in the midst.
An old man comes in-a servant-girl, with bare arms, and in undress uniform, comes in. Well, they look round-the family have not come to table. Bueno; paciencia!"—" Well; patience!" they say, and the man lights his paper cigarette, and leans against the door.
The mother and father, and one or two daughters of the family, come in, and take their places; the father quietly takes the melon before him, and cuts it into slices, passing the plate round from one to the other; all are wonderfully silent, respectful, self-controlled; the household seems so peaceful, so patriarchal in its simple primitiveness, that the stranger feels out of place; it is another, purer, older world into which he has entered; all so simple, so natural, so self-respectful, no servantgirlism, no bells, no waiting at table of flunky or footman, or awkward cub just caught from the stable-yard.
The sons saunter in, cigar in mouth, but reverent toward their parents, and, saluting them with the morning kiss of affection and of peace, take their slice of melon.
Then the soup, or caldo, is placed carefully on the table, anywhere, and each takes a plateful; then comes the cocida, for the richest families live much as the poor, and, in true, natural Spain, there are no gourmets or gourmands; then comes, as I have said, the cocida-meat stewed to rags, from which the caldo has been taken, with rice, and slices of every sort of stewed vegetable, of the luscious, aromatic, semi-pungent vegetables of the country. A little dish of sausage, or of bacon, follows; then bread and cheese, and then fruit again, and the men drink a little, but very little, wine, the women only water. A cup of coffee and a cigarette follow; the meal is over. The clock goes half-past twelve
or one, and it is wellnigh time to lie down, if in summer, in the darkened alcoba, and rest for a few hours, or sit down and make dresses for the coming Feast-day. The dinner or comida is but a repetition of the almuerzo or breakfast; all have good appetites, both for the one and for the other, and the girl, so delicate, in chiseled features and pallid complexion and graceful form, will quite surprise you by her healthy appetite and the easy naturalness with which, with a beaming face, ever contented, joyous, and overflowing with kindness, she takes the fruits of the earth, and the simple meal.
As to complaining of “a bad dinner," that is a thing simply unheard of; there is no need for a cook to know more than how to guisar a stew-that is enough for these simple and unsophisticated, but most refined and delicate, children of Nature.
And, dinner over, there is the paseo, or walk, in the cool, dusky evening, in the accustomed spot; and the men go to the Casino, smoke, drink coffee, and talk politics. Then, at night, early, all repair to bed-the bed with its most costly worked linen, its fringes of lace; for even the humblest peasant, with a mud-floor, will, like the Albanians, have beautiful and ornate bedlinen.
FTER describing at length, and with much minuteness, the stage and scenic arrangements of the Paris Opera-House, Saint-Preux, in "La Nouvelle Héloïse," adds that a prodigious number of machines are employed to put the whole spectacle in motion, that he has been invited several times to examine them, but that he is "not curious to learn how little things are performed by great means." The little things, however, of the stage, have always possessed much interest for theatre-goers; and both in "La Nouvelle Héloïse" and in his Musical Dictionary," Rousseau himself, in spite of Saint-Preux's disclaimer, devotes much attention to them. "Imagine," writes Julie's lover to the object of his affection, "an inclosure fifteen feet broad, and long in proportion; this inclosure is the theatre. On its two sides are placed at intervals screens, on which are curiously painted the ob
You will, in this slight sketch of middle-class domestic life, have been struck by its three leading features-its frugality, its simplicity, and its naturalness.
HUGH JAMES ROSE (Temple Bar).
jects which the scene is about to represent. At the back of the inclosure hangs a great curtain, painted in like manner, and nearly always pierced and torn, that it may represent at a little distance gulfs on the earth or holes in the sky. Every one who passes behind this stage, or touches the curtain, produces a sort of earthquake, which has a double effect. The sky is made of certain bluish rags, suspended from poles, or from cords, as linen may be seen hung out to dry in any washerwoman's yard. The sun, for it is seen here sometimes, is a lighted torch in a lantern. The cars of the gods and goddesses are composed of four rafters, secured and hung on a thick rope in the form of a swing or seesaw; between the rafters is a coarse plank, on which the gods sit down, and in front hangs a piece of coarse cloth, well dirtied, which acts the part of clouds for the magnificent car. One may see to
ward the bottom of the machine two or three foul candles, badly snuffed, which, while the greater personage dementedly presents himself swinging in his seesaw, fumigate him with incense worthy of his dignity. The agitated sea is composed of long angular lanterns of cloth and blue pasteboard, strung on parallel spits, which are turned by little blackguard boys. The thunder is a heavy cart, rolled over an arch, and is not the least agreeable instrument heard at our opera. The flashes of lightning are made of pinches of resin thrown on a flame, and the thunder is a cracker at the end of a fuse. The theatre is, moreover, furnished with little square traps, which, opening at the end, announce that the demons are about to issue from their cave. When they have to rise into the air, little demons of stuffed brown cloth are substituted for them, or sometimes real chimney-sweeps, who swing about suspended on ropes, till they are majestically lost in the rags of which I have spoken."
Contemptible, however, as toward the end of the eighteenth century was the character of stage decorations, both at the Paris Opera and the Comédie Française—and doubtless, therefore, at nearly all the French theatres-the art of presenting theatrical pieces suitably and magnificently was not at that time by any means in its infancy. It was rather in its decadence.
During the reign of Louis XIV., the sun and moon were so well represented at the French Opera that, as Saint-Evremond informs us, the Ambassador of Guinea, assisting at one of its performances, leaned forward in his box when those orbs appeared, and religiously saluted them. In the days before Gluck and Mozart, the Opera at Vienna was chiefly remarkable for its size and for the splendor of its scenery; and in a wellknown description of an operatic performance at Vienna, addressed by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu to Pope, we are told that "nothing of the kind was ever more magnificent," that "the decorations and habits cost the Emperor thirty thousand pounds sterling," and that "the stage, built over a very large canal, divided at the beginning of the second act into two parts, discovering the water, on which there immediately came from different parts two fleets of little gilded vessels that gave the representation of a naval fight."
When opera began to be treated seriously as a form of musical art, these spectacular vanities were abandoned. But, in Rousseau's time, the French Opera was remakable neither for its scenery nor for its singing. In the eighteenth century the Italians already thought more of the music of their operas than of the decorations to which, at an earlier period, they had accorded the first place. The stage-effects of Servandoni and Brunio, who were at once architects, sculp
tors, and painters, are said to have been marvelous. Many of the Italian theatres had been constructed so as to admit of the most elaborate spectacular representations.
M. Edouard Fournier, contrasting in his "Vieux Neuf 'the poverty of our modern stage representations with the richness by which those of ancient times were distinguished, sets forth that the Farnesino Theatre at Parma, built for dramas, tournaments, and spectacles of all kinds, contained at least fifty thousand spectators. Servandoni was for some time scene-painter and decorator at the Opera of Paris; but a stage which (as Rousseau, speaking through the medium of Saint-Preux, has told us) was "fifteen feet broad, and long in proportion," could not afford the Italian artist fit scope for his designs; and he accordingly left Paris for Dresden, where Augustus of Saxony (Mr. Carlyle's Augustus the Strong ") enabled him to work on a grand scale, and to produce pieces in which four hundred mounted horsemen could manœuvre with ease.
It was not until three quarters of a century later that horses, or even a single horse, were destined to appear on the boards of the Paris OperaHouse. To Meyerbeer, or perhaps to Meyerbeer and Scribe conjointly, belongs the doubtful honor of having introduced live horses in the musical drama. But, long before Marguerite de Valois rode on to the stage in the opera of "Les Huguenots," a real horse had, in the year 1682, appeared before an ordinary theatrical audience in the character of Pegasus. As poets, according to an inhuman creed, make better verses for being kept without money, so it was held that the unhappy Pegasus ought, until the end of his performance, to be deprived of oats. The sensation of hunger gave, it is said, “a certain ardor" to the movements of the poetic courser; and the sound of corn shaken in a sieve had the effect of making the proud but famished steed neigh, snort, and stamp in a style thought worthy of Pegasus himself.
The white horse which figured in the first representation of "Les Huguenots," at our Royal Italian Opera, without being precisely a Pegasus, had often served as hack to one of the greatest of English writers. It was, or had been, the property of Mr. Thackeray, and answered to the name of "Becky Sharp."
From the work in which Servandoni in the eighteenth century introduced at the Dresden Theatre four hundred horsemen to the one-horse opera of "Les Huguenots" the step is indeed a long one. Nor does it seem to mark a progress; though, as a matter of fact, the history of the theatrical spectacle is something quite apart from that of the musical or of the poetical drama.
Opera has never profited by being represented with great scenic magnificence, nor by the at
tempts so frequently made to increase the interest of the work performed by introducing realistic or absolutely real accessories. The original stage Pegasus may perhaps have learned to deport himself in a becoming manner; and it has been seen that precautions were taken toward that end. But the live goat in "Dinorah" always misbehaved himself until, ultimately, at the Royal Italian Opera, Madame Adelina Patti found herself obliged to discard her unruly pet, and to sing Dinorah's charming cradle-song either to a purely imaginary animal or to a stuffed figure.
At a Paris theatre an attempt was once made to give reality to a pastoral scene by bringing on to the stage a flock of live sheep, which, however, frightened by the lights and by the clamor of the audience, lost no time in going astray, so that at the second representation it was found necessary to replace the live sheep by pasteboard imitations.
The insufficiency of the stage-arrangements at the Paris Opera, when Rousseau was expatiating on the artistic poverty of that establishment, may be explained in some measure not only by the smallness of the stage, but by the manner in which it was blocked up on both sides by the aristocratic section of the audience, who sat in rows on both sides of the singers, while the baser portion of the public stood in the pit, which, until a comparatively late period, was unprovided with seats. Often the occupants of the benches on the stage took quite a different view of the representation to that formed by the upstanding spectators in the parterre; and ideas were some times exchanged between the two great divisions of the public with an irritating effect, and with results which sometimes took the form of open violence. The actor or singer, under this absurd arrangement, stood in the midst of his audience; and when, as sometimes happened, the remarks made by those on the stage induced him to turn round, he was accused of showing disrespect to the public in front of the orchestra. At times, under this arrangement, a piece was hissed by one division, applauded by the other; it was not always the aristocratic section which allowed itself in the right. "Le Grondeur," by Brueys and Palaparet, was received with hisses from the stage, with applause from the pit. Molière's "Ecole des Femmes," which delighted the pit, found no favor in the eyes of the too fastidious, but not sufficiently intelligent, patrons of the seats on the stage, one of whom, at each fresh burst of laughter, is said to have exclaimed, with a shrug of the shoulders: "Laugh away! laugh away! you fools in the pit!"
The benches on the stage of the Paris Opera were abolished, at the instance of the Count de Lauraguais, who, it has been surmised, may have felt annoyed at Sophie Arnould's being stared at,
and spoken to by the frequenters of these seats. This munificent patron of operatic art—and of operatic artists-paid, in any case, a sum of twelve thousand livres, by way of compensation, for the loss sustained by the theatre in consenting to the abolition of the banquettes.
At our English theatres the spectators who were allowed to take seats on the stage did not, as in France, place themselves prominently before the public. The practice, however, of admitting so many visitors behind the scenes, and of allowing them to remain on the stage while the performance was actually going on, could not but be attended with many inconveniences, one of which is mentioned by Mrs. Bellamy in a wellknown passage of her memoirs. A Mr. St. Leger, as Mrs. Bellamy passed before him on the stage at Dublin, kissed her on the neck, and received a box on the ears in return. Lord Chesterfield rose in his box and applauded. His example was followed by the whole house; and, at the end of the act, Major Macartney, deputed by the Viceroy, waited on Mr. St. Leger, and requested him to make a public apology. This incident had an important effect in bringing about a reform which had long been advocated.
Many reforms or innovations, supposed to be of the present day, are but returns to ancient practices. There is much in Herr Wagner's musical system-including the use of horses on the stage-which is not by any means so new as is generally supposed. There was novelty at one time in bringing the orchestra before the public, instead of keeping it out of sight, as was done in the early days of the drama, and quite lately at the Wagner festival of Baireuth. The custom, too, adopted at Baireuth, of proclaiming the approaching representation by sound of trumpet, though apparently new in the present day, is not so new as the system of distributing programmes, which dates only from the time of Dryden. In France the custom of naming the artists in the bills of the performance is still more modern, being not quite a hundred years old. On the 9th of September, 1779, the actors of Paris held a meeting, at which they adopted a petition, begging the Mayor of Paris not to force them to print their names on the programmes. It was held by the profession to be for the advantage of theatres generally that singers and actors should remain anonymous; for if, in an important part, a favorite artist was to be replaced on a given evening by an artist of no great popularity, the public, it was argued, would not be prevented by such a substitution from attending. It was not until 1791 that the Paris Opera adopted the custom of announcing the performers' names. However the general interests of the stage may have been affected, it can scarcely be said that artists,