« PoprzedniaDalej »
Thus, every wedding ter- mately acquainted with all signs and minates in howlings and moanings, symptoms of passion, distinguishes à while each funeral ends with danc- coup d'ail the cause of the sallow cheek ing and joyful songs.
or the fevered eye of such another The ever-recurring excitements whether the hand from which she is
women; she can feel instinctively and excesses of which these people's expected to decipher a fate, be stretchlife is made up, cannot fail to have ed towards her with the hasty gesture a deteriorating effect on mind and of hope, or with the hesitation of tear. body; early undermined constitu- Without difficulty she reads, in distions and premature death or do- dainfully curled lips, or ominously tage being the penalty paid by fore her be nourishing a secret grief
drawn brows, whether the youth bemany for the unbridled and sense
or planning revenge; whether he seek less gratification of their passions. for love or have lost it already. She This life, however, while it de- can further distinguish, at a glance, stroys many, sharpens the faculties the delusive presumption of youth and of those whose stronger natures beauty; the false security of posseshave enabled them to defy these sion, which would seem to defy misravages, bestowing on such a curious fortune: she knows the annihilating
blows of fate and the vulnerability penetration in all matters relating of the human heart too well, not to to the senses and passions.
mistrust the smile of over-conscious This theory holds good more es- happiness, and to prophesy unexpectpecially in the case of the women, ed misfortune to those who refuse to who, already gifted by nature with believe in the instability of the future. keener perceptions, and prema for she herself has faith in her own
She cannot be called a hypocrite, turely ripened in what may called a tropical atmosphere of carries within him the germs of his
diagnosis: believing that each of us passion, develop an almost su- own fate, she is convinced that, sooner pernatural power of clairvoyance, or later, her prognostics must be fulwhich enables them with incredible filled. Her only care is, therefore, to celerity to unravel hitherto undis- clothe her predictions in a garb which, closed secrets only by means of easily captivating the imagination, and intuitive deductions.
thereby impressed on the memory, will spring again to life, along with the
image of the prophetess, whenever the “The surprising vividness of their latent emotions she has detected, havimpressions" (again to quote Liszt on ing reached their culminating point, this subject) rarely fails to commu- bring about the success or the catasnicate itself, like wildfire, to the hear- trophe foreseen from the investigation ers. As by the contagion of a deadly of a hand and a heart. poison—the mere touch of the gipsy “After all, why should we wonder fortune-teller is often sufficient to that the secrets of the future can be affect them with the sensation of an deciphered by one so intimately acelectric shock or vibration.
quainted with the inmost folds of the “A few apt reflections strewed human soul and the workings of difabout in conversation, casual excla- ferent passions, confined in the human mations of apparent simplicity, some breast like so many caged lions or torprimitive rhymes and verses, accen- pid slumbering reptiles ? tuated by passion, so
to say, ham
Passion, always accompanied by mered into relief like the raised fig. a strong sympathetic instinct, quickly ures on a medal—such are the means divines the presence of a kindred paswhich suffice to stir up in an audience sion. Apt to decipher the symptoms whatever elements be there existing of inevitably betrayed in voice and gessecret wrath, of latent rebellion, of ture, and skilled to read in that characters bent but not broken,of affec. mystic book whose characters are so tions discouraged but not despairing. plainly impressed on the leaves of a
"The gipsy woman herself, inti- physiognomy which, betraying where
it would conceal, becomes the more ural agency, which opinion was expressive in proportion as the heart strengthened and confirmed by the within is agitated by tumultuous romantic conditions of the gipsy's throbbings—the gipsy knows full well
existence. with whom she has to deal, and can justly estimate what sort of characters
But is not, in truth, this delicate are those which seek her counsel." and subtle perception—a percep
tion only acquired by constant fricThe enlightened folk who sweep- tion with passion—in itself a secret ingly condemn the fortune-teller and undeniable power ?. A sudden as a liar and a cheat, are probably inspiration, a positive intuition of no less mistaken than the ignorant what is to be, from the rapid unrustics who blindly believe in her veiling of what already is ? and as an infallible oracle. Should here again Liszt is probably right not precisely the superior enlight- in declaring this gift of prophecy, enment of which we boast nowa- so universally accredited to the days be rather an argument for gipsies in all countries, to be a believing in the fortune-teller? too deeply rooted belief in the If phrenology and graphology are mind of the people not to have permitted to take rank as acknow- some rational ground for its existledged sciences, why should not ence. the gipsy's woman's power of divi- For my own part I have selnation be equally allowed to count dom had inclination to confide the as a shrewd deciphering of charac. deciphering of my fate to one of ter, coupled with logical deductions these wandering sibyls, and can as to the events likely to be evoked therefore only affirm that on the by the action of the passions, in solitary occasion when half in jest combination of a given set of cir- I chose to interrogate the future, cumstances ?
I was favoured with a piece of It is, I think, Balzac who said, intelligence so startling and impro“Si le passé a laissé des traces, il bable, as could only be received est à croire que le futur posséde des with a laugh of derision; yet beracines ;" and on the principle fore many days had elapsed this that every man is master of his startling and improbable event had own fate, there is no reason why actually come to pass, and the these roots, invisible to the rest of gipsy's prophecy was fulfilled in the world, should not be percep- the most unlooked-for manner. tible to those who have made of Chance probably, or coincidence, this subject the study of a life- most people will say, and indeed time. Why should not the seer I do not see myself how it could be able to proclaim the fruits to have been anything else but merest be reaped from the recognition coincidence. I merely state the of those germs which already fact as it occurred, without attemptexist ?
ing to draw any general concluIgnorant people, astonished at sion from the isolated instance the detection of secrets which within my own range of obserthey believed securely locked up vation. in their own breast, and not un- If to the gipsy woman is given derstanding the process by which a certain power over the minds such conclusions were reached, of her fellow-creatures, the gipsy were ready to attribute the gipsy's man, at least in Hungary, is not power of divination to supernat- without his sceptre, and this scep
tre is the bow with which he plies music which I have not got-somehis violin.
thing which is wanting in me.” Hungarian music and the gipsy What was wanting I came to player are indispensable conditions understand later, when I became of each other's existence. The Hun- familiar with Hungarian music, as garian music can only be rightly rendered by the Tzigane players. interpreted by the Tzigane musi- It was the training of a gipsy's cian, who, on his side, can play no whole life which was wanting here music so well as he does the Hun- -a training which alone teaches garian, into whose execution he the secret of deciphering those throws all his heart and his soul, wild strains which seem borrowed all his latent passion and un- from the voice of the tempest or conscious poetry; the melancholy stolen from whispering reeds. In and dissatisfied yearnings of a pas- order to have played the Hungarian sion-beaten soul; the despondency music aright, she would have reof an exile who has never known quired to have slept on mountaina home, and the wild freedom of tops during a score of years, to a savage who has never known a have been awakened by falling master.
dews, to have shared the food Did the Tziganes bring their of eagles and squirrels, and have music ready-made into Hungary, been on equally familiar terms or did they find it there on their with stags and snakes—conditions arrival, and merely adopt it? is a which unfortunately lie quite out question occasioning much contro- of the reach of delicate Polish versy. Liszt is inclined to think ladies ! the former, which would mean that Music was the only art within no Hungarian music existed pre- the Tzigane's reach ; for despite vious to the advent of the gipsies his vividness of imagination, and in the country. That this music the continual state of inspiration is essentially of an Asiatic char- in which he may be said to live, he acter is, however, no positive proof would never have become a poet, in favour of this theory; for are painter, or sculptor, because of the not the Hungarians themselves an fitfulness of his nature, and of his outwandered Asiatic race? And incapacity to clothe his inspirawhat more natural than the sup- tions in a precise image, or reduce position that Asiatic race them to a given form. Every man should be the best interpreter of the has the impulse to manifest his music of a kindred people ? More feelings in some way or other, and likely, however, this music is the music was the only way open to unconscious joint production of the Tzigane, as being the one solithe two, the Tzigane being the tary art which à la rigueur can artist who has sounded the depth possibly dispense with scientific of the Hungarian nature and given training and be taught by instinct expression to it.
alone. I remember once asking a dis- Devoid of written music, the tinguished Polish lady, herself a Tzigane is not forced to divide his notable musician, and pupil of the attention between a sheet of paper great Chopin, whether she ever and his instrument, and there is played Hungarian music?
nothing to distract him from the "No," she answered; “I cannot utter abandonment with which he play it: there is something in that absorbs himself in his play. He
seems to be sunk in an inner world through the air. At such moments of his own; the instrument sobs the Tzigane gives forth everything and moans in his hands, and is that is secretly lurking within him pressed tighter against his breast, -fierce anger, childish wailings, as though it had grown and taken presumptuous exultation, brooding root there. This is the true mo- melancholy, and passionate dement of inspiration, to which he spair; and at such moments one rarely gives way, and then only in could readily believe in his power the privacy of an intimate circle of drawing angels down from -never before a numerous and heaven into hell ! unsympathetic audience. Spell- Listen how another Hungarian bound himself by the power of writer has described the effect of the tones he evokes, his head grad- their music: ually sinking lower and lower over the instrument, his body bent for- “How it rushes through the veins ward in an attitude of rapt atten- like electric fire! How it penetrates tion, his ear seeming to be listening straight to the soul! In soft plaintive to far-off ghostly strains, audible to minor tones the adagio opens with a himself alone, the untaught Tzigane sighing and a longing of unsatisfied
slow, rhythmical movement: it is a achieves a perfection of expression aspirations; a craving for undiscovunattainable by mere professional ered happiness; the lover's yearning training.
for the object of his affection; the This power of identification with expression of mourning for lost joys, his music is the real secret of the for happy days gone for ever : then Tzigane's influence on his audi- abruptly changing to a major key, the Inspired and carried away and from the whirlpool of harmony
tones get faster and more agitated, by his own strains, he must per- the melody detaches itself, alternately force carry his hearers with him seeming to be drowned in the foam as well ; and the Hungarian list- of over-breaking waves, to reappear ener throws himself heart and soul floating on the surface with undulainto this species of musical intoxi- ting, motion, collecting, as it were, cation, which is to him the greatest fury. But quickly as the storm came
fresh power for a renewed burst of delight on earth. There is a pro- it is gone again, and the music relapses verb which says, “ The Hungarian into the melancholy yearnings of
. only requires a glass of water and before." a gipsy fiddler in order to make him quite drunk ;' and indeed in- These two extremes of fiercest toxication is the only word fittingly passion and plaintive wailing charto describe the state of exhaltation acterise the nature of the Hungarinto which I have seen a Hungarian ian, of whom it is said that " weepaudience thrown by a gipsy band. ing, the Hungarian makes merry.
Sometimes, under the combined When under the influence of influence of music and wine, the music he is capable of flinging his Tziganes become like creatures pos- money about with the most reckless sessed; the wild cries and stamps extravagance. Fifty, a hundred, of the equally excited audience only a thousand florins and more, have stimulate them to greater exer- been often given for the performtions; the whole atmosphere seems ance of a single air. Sometimes tossed by billows of passionate a Hungarian will stick a large harmony; you seem to see the bank-note behind his ear, while electric spark of inspiration flying the Tzigane proceeds to play the
favourite tune, drawing nearer and or despair, are inextricably internearer till he is almost touching ; woven with the image of the Tzipouring the melody straight into gane player. the upturned ear of the enraptured When the dancers are limp and auditor ; dropping out the notes as uninterested, the Tzigane loses inthough the music were some ex- terest as well, and plays carelessly quisitely flavoured liquid Aattering and without spirit; but if he sees the palate of a super-refined gour- dancing con amore, and especially met, who, with half-closed eyes ex- if his playing be praised, he knows pressive of perfect beatitude, en- neither hunger nor fatigue. His tirely abandons himself to the de- eyes being free, nothing escapes his lightful sensation.
observation; and he is far better In Hungary the words Tzigane au fait of every flirtation, mistake, and musician are synonymous, and coolness, or quarrel, than the most to say “I shall call in the Tzi- vigilant ball-room chaperon. ganes,” is to mean “I shall send
A pair of lovers dancing are his for the music."
greatest delight; and for them Not only the people, at their he exerts himself to the utmost, rustic gatherings, dance to the throwing his whole soul into the strains of these brown Bohemians, music, breathing the softest sighs but in no real Hungarian ball-room and the most passionate rhapwould other music be tolerated; and sodies of which his instrument is the Austrian military bands, so capable. much prized elsewhere, are here
It is said that he often perat a discount, and considered of forms the office of a page d'amour no use.
in taking letters backwards and Of course the gipsy bands in the forwards between young people large towns are not composed of who have no other means of comthe ragged, unkempt individuals munication, his peculiar code of which haunt the village pot-houses, honour forbidding him to take any or the lovely csardas on the puszta. pecuniary remuneration in return. Their constant intercourse with Many of these Tzigane musicians higher circles has given them a can show dainty pieces of handicertain degree of polish, and they work and presents of valuable even consent to appear in Hun- studs or pipes, received from highgarian costume; but they are in- born patrons in token of gratitude tringically the same as their more for delicate services rendered. vagabond brethren, and their eye The position of these Tzigane never loses the semi-savage glitter musicians is in every way a pecumarking half-tamed animals. liar one, the intimacy with the
The calling of musicians has often upper classes brought about by become hereditary in certain fami- their calling involving no sort of lies, who thus feel themselves to be equality whatsoever. The Tzigane interwoven with all the pleasures remains a gipsy fiddler, while the and pains, the fates and fortunes, Hungarian is a nobleman; and the of the nobility for whom they play; barrier between the two classes is and vice verså, for the youth of almost as absolute as that between both sexes in Hungary, the recol- Jew and gentleman is in Poland. lection of every pleasure they have Although it is no uncommon sight enjoyed, the dawn of first love, and in the streets of any Hungarian every alternation of hope, triumph, town, towards the small hours of