Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

aflright. I sprang up, and rushed to the window looking into the farm-yard, which I had unfortunately left wide open. Again the piercing cry thrilled through me, and in the grey of the coming dawn I beheld beneath my window a form, with out-stretched neck, the upper part of which, just beneath the head, was all red, as if covered with blood; and then, sir, another shriek, louder than before_" Cock-a-doodle doo-0-0-0-0!!!" Ay, there he was, my beautiful cock, that I bought at the last Spring Show of the Dublin Society-up, and dressed, booted and spurred, I may say; and what's more, the young polygamist had all his wives up, and stirring, and would not let a hen of them all lie abed for a comfortable half hour's nap after he had turned out himself. Well, Anthony, I laughed heartily, though, you may be sure, I bestowed on him as many good wishes as Mycillus, the cobbler, did upon his offending fowl. I returned to bed, but so thoroughly aroused, that sleep was not again to be thought of; so I began musing, for want of something better to do, and my thoughts turned, naturally enough, upon my disturber. Now you will ask, with Jacques in the play

16 Of what kind should this cock come of ?"

I will tell you, Anthony. He was a foreign bird, a cock of a Corsican breed, that was continually strutting about, clapping his wings, and fighting with all the old established fowls of the yard. At first he was quiet enough, but in a very short time he attacked a poor old Orleans cock, plucked every feather out of his tail, and left him and an old hen, and some chickens of the same breed, as bare as the back of my hand; and yet for all his strutting, I have seen him sometimes, in wet and stormy weather, with his plumes draggling, and his crest as fallen as the sorriest fowl of them all.

Thinking of cocks, made me somehow think of Frenchmen, and it struck me that though, upon the whole, a Frenchman is typified happily enough by the cock--for your Frenchman is a vain-glorious, loud-speaking, head-elevating, strutting animal ; talking magniloquent common places, and expressing by a world of tropes, figures, and florid periphrases what John Bull would state in a gruff, curt monosyllable, and continually intermeddling with and disturbing the peace of the world, and asserting the liberties of other nations when he has got no more than the name of it at home (I must admit, however, that he is game to the back-bone, and will fight while he has a leg to stand on)-yet I think, in one respect, a lark or a jay would be a fitter representative. A Frenchman is essentially a singing-bird ; under all circumstances, and in all places he is ready to hop about and sing his CHANSON. He did so in the monastery, as well as on the battle field—under the monk's cowl and the militaire's chaco-at the peaceful vintage, and on the scaffold; for it is a well-known fact, though an author of some authority denies it, that hymns, romances, and light amatory songs, some full of sentiment, wit, liveliness, and delicacy—others blood-thirsty, furious, and grotesque—W

were composed during the reign of terror. One of themselves has very felicitously expressed this national taste :-" Les Français ont toujours chanté, ils chanteront toujours.” It is, however, in this lighter style of composition that the French may be said to excel. The genius of their language, though not as musical as the Italian, is sufficiently suited for the chanson, but the chant or song of a higher class is rarely found in a high degree of excellence, though Lamartine, in modern days, has produced some fine verses; and the epic is quite out of their range. Indeed there is nothing in the language worthy of the name—no poem that will bear a comparison with the epics of Dante, Tasso, or Milton. But the French chanson must not be lightly esteemed. The author from whom I have just quoted, has thus well described it:

“ Elle est l'expression de tous les sentiments, elle prend mille formes, elle est gaie, satirique, badine, gracieu e, enthousiaste ; elle peint l'amour, elle fronde les abus, elle s'élève par les accents de la gloire, elle attendrit les femmes, elle fait trembler les puissants, elle exalte les cæurs, et c'est en chantant que les soldats français ont marché aux combats, comme c'est en chantant que le peuple laborieux adoucit sa peine, et s'encourage à ses travaux."

It is not ascertained when the French first took to the chanson ; for my own

part, I suspect they began to chirp in that style as soon as they chipped the shell. The Normans and Provençals did not sing in the vulgar tongue, but in the romance language of the troubadours. In the twelfth century, however, we find a chanson à boire amongst the compositions of Eustache Deschamps, which is, perhaps, the earliest of that species extant. In the following century the number of writers in this style amounted to about seventy, amongst whom were some great names, such as Thibault, Count of Champagne, afterwards King of Navarre, the Count of Anjou, King of Sicily, and the father of St. Louis. From that time the number constantly increased, till the whole country was flooded with chansons about every thing and every person, political, satirical, amatory, bacchanalian, martial, and pastoral. I met not long since with a curious piece of statistics on this subject, which shows what an inveterate chansonnier is Johnny Crapaud. There were in Paris and its environs, in the year 1845, no less than four hundred and eighty “Sociétés Chantantes.” The rule of these societies was that each member should compose at the least a chanson every month. Now assuming that each society consisted of twenty members, a very low average indeed, we shall have nine thousand six hundred of those song writers, producing one hundred and fifteen thousand two hundred new songs yearly! Il to this we add the number of amateurs, who bring forward their contributions upon all interesting domestic occasions—death, births, marriages, and soforth—perhaps it would not be saying too much to estimate ihe yearly crop of songs in the Paris district to three hundred thousand !! Well, then, there is all the rest of France who are producers on a large scale. For myself, I would fear to make an estimate ; but I have seen it stated as high as a million songs in the year for the entire kingdom, Paris included !!! Am I not right then, dear Anthony, in affirming that cock-crowing gives but a faint idea of the everlasting warbling which goes on in La Belle France. Thank God, we know how to indulge in those pleasures in moderation.

Having said so much on the song-singing of our Gallic neighbours, I will now offer you a specimen or two of a comparatively recent period. They have been selected as they came to hand, but will each afford a fair sample of their kind in general.

There was no song in its day more popular in France than that which is still well known by the name of “Malbrook." The air is said by Châteaubriand to be as old as the time of the Crusades, but the words were probably written after the year 1709, though they did not become known till after the death of the famous Duke of Malbrough. It happened that the nurse of the young Dauphin, afterwards Louis the XV.-and a good nurse I have no doubt was Madame Poitrine, if there be any faith to be placed in names—used to rock the young scion of roy. alty to sleep in his cradle with a song, which of course was very consolatory to the ears of the inmates of Versailles, seeing that it assailed with a somewhat dastardly ridicule the memory of a hero then in his grave, who, while living, made Louis tremble on his throne, and sue in vain for peace. But it was, however, some comfort for Frenchmen to have a song to sing about one who had defeated Villars and Boufflers, and routed their armies at Blenheim, Ramilies, and Malplaquet. Accordingly, Nurse Poitrine's song soon reached Paris, and then spread all over France; and for four or five years after, you could hear nothing (supposing you were then alive, which I believe was not the case, Anthony) than the refrain of “ Mironton, mironton, mirontaine !" sung with great bravery. So satisfactory, in truth, was this posthumous victory over the great general, that the French ladies had the song printed on fans and firescreens, with illustrations of the duke's burial, the duchess on her tower, and the page in mourning. Malbrook, as you know, is the corruption of the duke's title,

"For fame
Sounds the heroic syllables both ways;
France could not even conquer your great name,

But pruned it down to this facetious phrase,
Beating or beaten she will laugh the same.”

And now I will give you the song in its integrity, and you can judge of it for yourself.

MOKT ET CONVOI DE L'INVISCIDLE

MALBROOK.

THE DEATH AND BURIAL OF TILE IX

VINCIBLE MALBROUGH.

I.

I.
Malbrook s'en va-t en guerre,
Mironton, mironton, mirontaine ;

Malbrook s'en va-t-en guerre,
Ne sait quand reviendra.
Ne sait quand reviendra,
Ne sait quand reviendra ;

Malbrook s'en va.t-en guerre,
Ne sait quand reviendra.

11.
Il reviendra z'à Pâques,
Mironton, mironton, marontaine ;

Il reviendra z'à Pâques
Ou à la Trinité,
Ou à la Trinité.

&c., &c.

Malbrough's gone to the war, Sir

Mironton, mironton, mirontaineNobody knows, by gar, Sir,

When he'll be back again,
When he'll be back again,

When he'll be back again,
Nobody knows, by gar, Sir,
When he'll be back again.

II. He'll come back again at Easter

Mirunton, mironton, mirontaineHe'll come back again at Easter,

Or at Trinity, I ween,
Or at Trinity, I ween,

Or at Trinity, I ween,
He'll come back again at Easter,

Or at Trinity, I ween.

III.

III.

La Trinité se passe, Mironton, mironton, mirontaine;

La Trinité se passe,
Malbrook ne revient pas,
Malbrook ne revient pas.

But Trinity has passed by—

Mironton, mironton, mirontaineBut Trinity has passed by;

And he's not come back again,
He's not come back again,

He's not come back again,
But Trivity is passed by,

And he's not come back again.

&c., &c.

[ocr errors]

IV.

[blocks in formation]

My lady she mounted her tower

Mironton, mironton, mirontaineMy lady she mounted her tower, As high as she could attain, As high as she could attain,

As high as she could attain,
My lady she mounted her tower,
As high as she could attain.

V.
She spied his page a-riding-

Mironton, mironton, mirontaineShe spied his page a-riding

In black along the plain,
In black along the plain,

In black along the plain,
She spied his page a-riding
In black along the plain.

VI. "My pretty page, what tidings ?

Mironton, mironton, mirontaine-
My pretty page, your tidings?
To hear them I am fain,
To hear them I am fain,

To hear them I am fain,
My pretty page, your tidings?

To hear them I am fain."

VI.

Beau page, ah! mon beau page, Mironton, mironton, mirontaine;

Beau page, ah! mon beau page,
Quelle nouvelle apportez ?
Quelle nouvelle apportez ?

&c., &c.

VII.

VII.

Aus nouvell's que j'apporte, Mironton, mironton, mirontaine;

Aux nouvell's que j'apporte,
Vos beaux yeux vont pleurer,
Vos beaux yeux vont pleurer.

&c., &c.

“ The news I bring, my lady

Mironton, inironton, mirontaineThe news I bring, my lady,

Will make your eyes to rain,
Will make your eyes to rain,

Will make your eyes to rain,
The news I bring, my lady,

Will make your eyes to rain.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

XII. “The third his big sword carried

Mironton, mironton, mirontaineThe third his big sword carried,

The fourth bore-nothing, I ween,
The fourth bore—nothing, I ween,

The fourth bore—nothing, I ween,
The third his big sword carried,
The fourth bore-nothing, I ween.

XIII. “ Around his tomb they planted

Mironton, mironton, mirontaineThe rosemaries they planted

Around his tomb to train,
Around his tomb to train,

Around his tomb to train,
The rosemaries they planted,

Around his tomb to train.

XIII.
A l'entour de sa tombe,
Mironton, mironton, mirontaine ;

A l'entour de sa tombe,
Romarins l'on planta,
Romarins l'on planta.

&c., &c.

XIV.
Sur la plus haute branche,
Mironton, mironton, mirontaine ;

Sur la plus haute branche,
Le rossignol chanta,
Le rossignal chapta.

&c., &c.

XIV. “Upon the topmost branches

Mironton, mironton, mirontaineUpon the topmost branches We heard a nightingale's strain, We heard a nightingale's strain,

We heard a nightingale's strain, Upon the topmost branches

We heard a nightingale's strain.

VOL. XXXVI.NO. CCXIII.

XY.
On vit voler son âme,
Mironton, mironton, mirontaine ;

On vit voler son âme,
Au travers des lauriers,
Au travers des lauriers.

&c., &c.

XV. “ We saw his soul fly upwards

Mironton, mironton, mirontaine
Fly up through the laurel branches,
The heavens to attain,
The heavens to attain,

The heavens to attain,
We saw his soul fly upwards,

The heavens to attain.

[blocks in formation]

XVI. “ Each man down on the earth fell

Mironton, mironton, mirontaineEach man down on the earth fell,

And then-got up again,
And then--got up again,

And then got up again,
Each man down on the earth fell,
And then-got up again.

XVII.
“ To sing the mighty triumphs

Mironton, mironton, mirontaineTo sing the mighty triumphs

That Malbrough did attain,
That Malbrough did attain,

That Malbrough did attain;
To sing the mighty triumphs
That Malbrough did attain.

XVIII. “ The ceremony ended

Mironton, mironton, mirontaineThe ceremony ended,

Each man his bed did gain,
Each man his bed did gain,

Each man his bed did gain,
The ceremony ended,

Each man his bed did gain.

XVIII.
La cérémonie faite,
Mironton, mironton, mirontaine ;

La cérémonie faite,
Chacun s'en fut coucher,
Chacun s'en fut coucher.

&c., &c.

XIX.
Les uns avec leurs femmes,
Mironton, mironton, mirontaine ;

Les uns avec leurs femmes,
El les autres tous seuls,
El les autres tous seuls.

&c.

XIX. “ Some with their wives to bed went

Mironton, mironton, mirontaine-
Some with their wives to bed went,

Some did alone remain,
Some did alone remain,

Some did alone remain,
Some with their wives to bed went,

Some did alone remain.

[ocr errors]

XX.

Ce n'est pas qu'il en manque, Mironton, mironton, mirontaine ;

Ce n'est pas qu'il en manque,
Car j'en connais beaucoup,
Car j'en connais beaucoup.

&c., &c.

XX. “But not for lack of ladies

Mironton, mironton, mirontaine But not for lack of ladies,

In faith I will maintain,
In faith I will maintain,

In faith I will maintain,
But not for lack of ladies,

In faith I will maintain.

XXI.
Des blondes et des brunes,
Mironton, mironton, mirontaine ;

Des blondes et des brunes,
Et des chataign's aussi,
Et des chataign's aussi.

&c., &c.

XXI. " Of white ones or of dark ones

Mironton, mironton, mirontaineOf wbite ones or of dark ones,

Or yet of brown again,
Or yet of brown again,

Or yet of brown again,
Of white ones or of dark ones,

Or yet of brown again.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »