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A VILLAGE TEA-PARTY
119 and garlands of flowers-for it was in the middle of June. The banner of the society occupied a conspicuous place over the chair, which was grandly upholstered with crimson merino; and on the wall, at the end, the words, Cead Mille Fealta'-in English, 'a hundred thousand welcomes ! '—were painted in large yellow letters on a strip of green calico. At the top of the room, before the chair, was placed a mahogany table, lent for the occasion by some local patron of temperance; and this table was resplendent with tea-pots and coffee-pots, some of silver and more of grand 'Britannia,' also lent to do honour to Father Mathew. There was a goodly show of currant-cake, a present to the society; and the whitest sugar and the richest cream showed the zeal of the members and the liberality of the neighbouring gentry, not a few of whom were present and occupied the place of honour. Two narrow tables, made of planks knocked together for the occasion, ran down the length of the room, and sustained mountains of bread and butter, the slices of substantial thickness; also jugs of enormous size, and cups of liberal dimensions. At the tables sat young and old, from the grandmother to the child in arms. The élite of the village was there; and many a healthy decent-looking man, now sitting in quiet gravity in the midst of his family, was, not many years, perhaps even months, before, dreaded as the tyrant of his home, and detested as the pest of the neighbourhood. The elderly ladies rejoiced in snowy caps, with grand borders and flaring ribbons; and the young girls exhibited equal taste in the simple neatness of their dress, and the careful arrangement of their glossy hair. The appearance which the crowded but overclose chamber presented was a pleasing and a hopeful one indeed.
On a raised and railed-off platform at the end of the room the band had taken their position; and as Father Mathew entered, the 'Conquering Hero' was again given, in a style which would have impelled the Enraged Musician' to instantaneous suicide, had he been present at that merciless piece of instrumentation. But the audience, whose ears were in their hearts, could hear no discord whatever, and esteemed it the most ravishing harmony. And Father Mathew, looking as noble as a king, beamed with delight, his eyes and lips smiling in concert. Nor was he wanting in abundant praise of the performance, which, awful and nerve-shattering as it was to unaccustomed ears, was really wonderful, inasmuch as the greater number of the performers had never held a musical instrument in their hands a month previous to this grand exhibition of their proficiency. When the last bar was concluded, up rose Father Mathew, who, bowing with grace towards the orchestra, said- Thank you, gentlemen! thank you very much, for your beautiful music!' The band was in a flutter of ecstasy at this public tribute from 'one of the greatest men in the world,' and
not a member present but felt the compliment. 'I knew, sir,' said a village dame to me, 'that his reverence would be plazed. Faith, sir, I think the boys plays as well as the army, if not betther.'
The stewards are now bustling in and out, preparing the tea, which is being concocted in an adjoining room. The beverage is borne in i the enormous white jugs, from which ascend columns of steam in this hot June night. The tea for the Apostle and the quality' is also supplied; and just as the company are about enjoying themselves in that luxury which cheers but not inebriates, the tap of the drum is heard then another tap-and, at the third, your whole nervous being is assailed with a crash of sounds such as to bewilder you for the moment. Shriek and squeak, bur, and roar, and clash, with a blending of all, and an occasional predominance of some-this is the band executing 'Love not; an air which, at that time, owed much to the energy of our national musicians. The tumult is awful. The walls, you imagine, must shortly yield to the stupendous reverberations created by the big drnm, which is under the able hands of the muscular blacksmith. The performers proudly persevere, their master beating time, and swaying his head from side to side, with a gravity worthy of the bandmaster of the Coldstreams. The members are in a state of rapture, and reward the musicians with a loud clapping of hands and stamping on the floor. Very beautiful, indeed!' is heard again from the President, whose commendation, honest and sincere, is by no means endorsed by the occupants of the upper table. The members of the band-Dinny and Ned and Larry and Tom and Billy-are invited by their delighted friends and relatives to seat thsmselves at the tables, and make much of themselves, poor boys;' and the largest cups and the thickest slices are awarded to the performers, as some faint expression of gratitude and admiration. The big drum has a place of special honour, for his labour has been mighty, and he now wipes the accumulated moisture from his manly brow.
When the band have done themselves justice, they again proceed to the 'orchestra. Some whispered consultation is seen to be carried on; and, shortly after, a member of that important body makes his way through the crowded room to where Father Mathew is seated, and announces his message, which resulted in the following dialogue: 'Plaze your reverence, the gintlemen of the band would like to know what chune your reverence would prefer.' 'Oh, my dear, anything the gentlemen please themselves.' Your reverence, they'd like to lave it to yourself.' 'Well, my dear, "God Save the Queen" is a very fine air, and so is Patrick's Day." 'I'm afeard, sir, we're only learnin' them chunes; but would your reverence like the "Conquerin' Haro? "" 'Hadn't we that before, my dear?' 'Well, Perhaps your reverence would be after
you had, your reverence.
WHO PAID FOR THE MUSIC.
a liking "Love not?"—that's a mighty sweet thing.'
'It is indeed, my
r, dear, a very nice air; but hadn't we that also?' Well, you had, your reverence; but the gintlemen of the band thought you'd like to plaze yourself.' Father Mathew, of course, understood the limited nature of the band's repertoire, and so he gravely called for the Conquering Hero,' and expressed a fervent hope that it might be followed, in the course of the evening, by that delightful air, 'Love not.' The band felt the more proud at having paid this graceful compliment, and they executed the doomed pieces of music several times that hot June night with unabated vigour and undiminished discord.
In six months after, one could not have recognised that village band ; for then they played air, and waltz, and march music, with harmony and precision. It was its first night's public performance that so long haunted my memory.
I have listened with a kind of amused horror to the first performances of a temperance band within the walls of a reading room, or temperance hall; but a more bewildering aggregation of sounds was to be enjoyed by the musical epicure on those occasions when Father Mathew gathered round him the societies of the districts within some miles of the city, for a special jubilee. I remember one of these. It was a kind of monster meeting at Blarney, a well-known locality, famous in song and legend, about five miles distant from the city of Cork. The meeting was held in a beautiful valley encircled by hills, on the sides of which many hundreds of well-dressed people were scattered in picturesque groups. Banners of all hues and shapes floated and fluttered from every prominence and vantage ground, and more than twenty bands sent up their blended dissonance to the skies. As no one band was allowed to have precedence of the other, and as each was desirous of exhibiting its proficiency, of course no one band would give way to the other; therefore all should be heard alike; and all were heard alike, to the greatest general advantage. One can scarcely realise, even to the wildest imagination, the sublime discord. of twenty bands, each playing a different air, with twenty vigorous and athletic big drummers' energetically rivalling each other, and the surrounding hills multiplying while reverberating the complicated and torturing medley of sounds. Were nymphs and dryads still haunting sylvan solitudes, one could suppose them flying in dismay from such fearful discord, and never again returning to their sunlit dells and pleasant shades. But the day was beautiful, the sun shone brightly, the banners fluttered gaily, the people were happy, and the temperance leader was in ecstasy.
But Father Mathew had to pay for the music of that and similar popular festivals. Had to pay is not, perhaps, a correct mode of putting it; did pay, is more accurate. Many of these young men had
come a distance of a dozen miles, or more, to do him special honour, and they had a dozen miles, or more, to travel before they reached home. As a rule, too, they were of the humblest class, who had but little to spare even for a day's festivity. Father Mathew was not the man to be insensible to the devotion or the sacrifices of his followers; and so his secretary was ordered to pay them such a compliment' as sent the poor fellows home rejoicing.
It did now and then happen that misunderstandings occurred in temperance rooms, and that the members of the band occasionally thought too much of themselves-that the cornet-à-piston sent in his resignation, that the flute gave up in disgust, or that the big drum refused to strike. Such things did happen; for it must be borne in mind that teetotallers were human, and not angels. When these little difficulties arose, it sometimes, though rarely, happened that the band was broken up, that the instruments were parted with, and that the room was abandoned: and that, when the moment of repentance came, and the society gathered together again, and the band was to be reorganised, and all things were to be set right as before, an urgent appeal to Father Mathew was inevitable. And to respond effectively to an appeal of the kind, Father Mathew would willingly have parted with his last shilling. Through the contention of that village society the President was pained; in the backsliding of its members the Apostle of Temperance was scandalised. And what sacrifice would he not make should he not make, he thought-to restore peace to that little society, and protect its members from folly and from danger? Thus it was that the bands, while useful to a certain extent, and a source of intense gratification to the people throughout the country, were to Father Mathew not only the cause of considerable anxiety, but of constant expense.
Danger from insecure Platforms-The Catastrophe of Minane Bridge-
ON several occasions Father Mathew was placed in serious jeopardy by the insecurity of temperance platforms; but there was one adventure of the kind to which he rarely desired to allude, but to which his brother Charles now and then slily referred, to the momentary annoyance of the priest.
Father Mathew had consented to preach for an old and valued friend of his, the pastor of a parish distant from Cork about ten miles;
A QUESTION OF PRECEDENCY.
123 and, as usual, the opportunity was availed of by the followers of temperance to hold a meeting, and promote the spread of the cause in the village and the adjoining districts. The first thing to be done was to erect a platform, from which the speakers were to address the expected assembly; and the rural architect, when he surveyed his work on the Saturday night, believed in his soul that a finer, safer, or more ingenious construction than his grand platform was never devised. Sunday arrived, and with it the Apostle of Temperance, who preached the promised sermon for his reverend friend. From the chapel the congregation proceeded to the place of meeting, and the numbers were increased by people flocking in from all the neighbouring districts. The platform presented a very imposing appearance, it being seven or eight feet from the ground, and decorated with laurel branches, and with banners, which floated from the four uprights on which the entire structure rested.
A question of grave importance had arisen in the meanwhilenamely, which of the two bands present-the band from Cork, or the local band-was to have the place of honour? Courtesy to the strangers, who might have been regarded in the light of guests, would perhaps have suggested to the local society that their band should gracefully yield the occupation of the platform to the band from the city; but the local artists were proud of their performance, and sensitively jealous of their rights-therefore, and as a matter of principle, they stationed themselves on the platform, and hailed Father Mathew's arrival with a grand burst of music, repeating the jubilant strain at least half a dozen times, the better to impress the gentlemen from the city with a notion of what 'boys from the country' were capable of doing in the line of playing.'
Upon the termination of the last bar, the chair was taken, and the proceedings of the day commenced. The band on the platform were constantly on the watch for the conclusion of a speech; and scarcely had the orator finished his concluding sentence when the music struck up. Indeed, an occasional rumble of the drum, or squeak from one of the other instruments, would indicate the impatience of the musicians, and their decided preference for their own performance to the most glowing oratory or heart-moving pathos. The numbers on the platform had been gradually increasing, in spite of the remonstrances of one or two gentlemen, who had not the most implicit faith in the stability of the structure. The architect, it must be remarked, listened to such warnings with sublime disdain, or replied to them with withering contempt. Since the tower of Babel there was no structure equal to this platform, for ingenuity of design, perfection of detail, or solidity and endurability. 'People ought to confine their observations to matters with which they were professionally conversant, and not meddle