Friday 11 September 2009

Crashaw’s Diary (part ii)

The story so far: Philip Crashaw is the Curate to the Rev. Arthur Jenkins in a Country Parish in Dorset. The year is 1870.

Saturday 27th August
A memorable evening as I accompanied Mr and Mrs Jenkins and the Misses Milligan to a concert in the Guildhall in B--. Mr Jenkins’ younger brother Frank is visiting from Chippenham and came too. All the way in the carriage Frank complained bitterly about the programme of music we were to listen to: he said that he only wanted to listen to music that stirred the "grandest emotions", the music of Brahms and such – not string quartets from a hundred years ago.

When we arrived the Guildhall looked splendid, the chandeliers sparkling with a thousand stars and casting a warm glow over the crowd. Soon the musicians took to the stage, looking very impressive in their tailcoats. A delicious hush fell. Then --- what a splendid programme we were treated to, including a string quartet by Haydn. How that immortal composer’s music speaks to me! That feeling of getting things done, of sheer good nature and handiness: to me, it was quite incomparable.

On the way back, Frank continued to complain about the music, until Mr Jenkins said (rather irritably) that, if Frank had known all along that he would not enjoy the programme of music, then he should not have come. To which Frank replied that he had merely wanted an evening out, and that was all.

“But, dear Frank,” I said, “to come to an evening of eighteenth century music while knowing that you would not enjoy it, surely you knew you were on a Haydn to nothing.”

Frank offered nothing in reply but, as a stray beam from a lantern entered the carriage, I noticed the younger Miss Milligan regarding me with a serious air.

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