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In spite of which sarcastic observations, the
piano, so brilliant in the concert-room under the
hands of a virtuoso, is above all the instrument
for meetings of intimate friends. In small towns
and in the country, what would become of the
long winter evenings, when every one is driven
to his own intellectual resources, but for the
pastime of home-made music? The piano is the
family friend. It is a discreet and charming
confidant, who receives the secrets of our heart when
agitated and wrung by moral fevers. The bashful
girl can make the keys repeat the melody
which he prefers.

It is harsh to suppose that the love of display
is the reason which urges not a few middle-aged
persons to betake themselves to practising the
piano. One professor has among his pupils a
lady aged sixty-four. After losing her husband,
her son, and her daughter, she seeks in the study
of the piano, not a consolation for her sorrows,
but an occupation to divert her melancholy
thoughts. She had learned music in her youth,
and could once perform, tolerably, Haydn's and
Mozart's sonatas. After more than half a
century, she had the courage to take up music again,
and the instrument which recalled the days of
her girlhood. She is an excellent pupil, who
receives her lessons with pleasure, who never
misses a lesson, and who makes notable progress.
Such examples may not be common; but what
other instrument could be taken in hand by a
woman sixty-four years of age?

The piano, usually expressive of cheerfulness
and gentle pleasure, has been, under certain
circumstances, the painful interpreter of heart-
rending emotions. Chopin, feeling the
approach of death, wished to bid a last farewell to
the instrument which had given utterance to his
poetic inspirations, and had been the means of his
great success. A piano was brought to his
bedside. With icy hands and clouded vision, he
attempted to draw a few sounds from the instrument.
A sweet and touching melody, deeply
expressive of regret, was whispered forth; but the
musician was unable to complete his pathetic
improvisation. He fell back on his bed of
suffering, and expired a few hours afterwards.

Lablache, the incomparable artist, the worthy
man par excellence, who is still regretted by the
musical world, attempted to sing upon his deathbed:
in order, as he said, to die as he had always
lived, devoted to his art. "Go," he said to one
of his children, "go to the piano and accompany
me." The son, struggling to conceal his emotion,
obeyed his father's last request. Lablache then
sang the first verse of the English romance:—
"Home, Sweet Home." At the second verse,
the singer's throat contracted, and not a note
could issue from it.

"Ah!" said Lablache, " I can sing no longer.
I am a lost man!" He died that very night.

There is a project of establishing in Paris a
club for amateur pianists. The original
members are required to be able to execute
respectably one of Thalberg's grand fantasias, and to read
music well enough to accompany an opera-song
at sight. The principal object of the club is the
execution of works for the piano. Independent
of the grand meetings, at which the principal
French and foreign celebrities will perform in
succession, every member will be expected to
play, every week, some new piece for the piano.


THERE are some small out-of-the-way landing-
places on the Thames and the Medway, where I
do much of my summer idling. Running water
is favourable to day-dreams, and a strong tidal
river is the best of running water for mine. I
like to watch the great ships standing out to sea
or coming home richly laden, the active little
steam-tugs confidently puffing with them to and
from the sea-horizon, the fleet of barges that seem
to have plucked their brown and russet sails
from the ripe trees in the landscape, the heavy
old colliers, light in ballast, floundering down
before the tide, the light screw barks and
schooners imperiously holding a straight course
while the others patiently tack and go about,
the yachts with their tiny hulls and great white
sheets of canvas, the little sailing-boats
bobbing to and fro on their errands of pleasure
or business, andas it is the nature of little
people to domaking a prodigious fuss about
their small affairs. Watching these objects,,
I still am under no obligation to think about
them, or even so much as to see them, unless it
perfectly suits my humour. As little am I
obliged to hear the plash and flop of the tide,
the ripple at my feet, the clinking windlass afar
off, or the humming steam-ship paddles further
away yet. These, with the creaking little jetty
on which I sit, and the gaunt high-water marks
and low-water marks in the mud, and the
broken causeway, and the broken bank, and the
broken stakes and piles leaning forward as if
they were vain of their personal appearance and
looking for their reflexion in the water, will
melt into any train of fancy. Equally adaptable
to any purpose or to none, are the
pasturing sheep and kine upon the marshes, the
gulls that wheel and dip around me, the crows
(well out of gunshot) going home from the
rich harvest-fields, the heron that has been out
a-fishing and looks as melancholy, up there in the
sky, as if it hadn't agreed with him. Everything
within the range of the senses will, by the aid of
the running water, lend itself to everything
beyond that range, and work into a drowsy
whole, not unlike a kind of tune, but for which
there is no exact definition.

One of these landing-places is near an old fort
(I can see the Nore Light from it with my
pocket- glass), from which fort mysteriously
emerges a boy, to whom I am much indebted for
additions to my scanty stock of knowledge. He
is a young boy, with an intelligent face burnt to
a dust colour by the summer sun, and with crisp