« PreviousContinue »
however, he feels free to mention : There was at least one of them, an elderly man, who had been going round to those of his congregation whom he thought he could influence, and telling them that the only thing to be done was "to go over.” He is “all right” now again, and has been persuaded that his “ Orders" are valid. The question of “Authority" does not disturb him. He is a type of
But, as one of these clergy (a clever man, who had done his part in persnading his fellows to remain) remarked to the writer, “ if a few of the more prominent had started at that time the rest would have followed.” It is well known that to the majority of Anglican clergy it is supremely indifferent whether they possess Orders in the Catholic sense or not. And most of the young men, of whom the “extremest party almost entirely consist, are content in this matter to follow a few leaders, who assure them that their Orders are valid, without studying the question for themselves. Soon after the Pope's decision came out the writer tried to elicit the opinion of one of these young men on the question in the course of conversation. He replied, “ It is no business of mine whether I have Orders or not." And his opinion no doubt represents that of many who blindly accept the validity of their Orders with their doctrine and ritual on the authority of others who have no more authority than themselves.
A variety of considerations, of ties worldly or sentimental (sucb as a long life's work), combine to keep the older men in the Anglican communion, considerations of whose power, perhaps, they are hardly conscious as influencing their decision. And the younger men follow them as the bell-wethers of the flock.*
From the point of view of Catholics, the Ritualists are good men (very good-some of them) in a false position. They have “a zeal, but not according to knowledge." Catholics can but hope and pray that, as many members of the Church of England seem gradually to be feeling their way back to the whole deposit of faith, of which they were deprived at the “Reformation,” they may at length arrive at
The writer does not intend to question their good faith, or to deny that many of them are thorougbly persuaded of the validity of their Orders on grounds satisfactory to themselves. What they do not see is that this is, after all, a mere opinion, which depends upon the exercise of their private judgment, which is not considered an essential belief even in their own Church, and for which all living authority of the Catholic Church, or, for that matter, of the whole of Christendom except themselves, is entirely lacking. It is the same with their teaching and ceremonial. That was taken in the first place from the Catholic Church, and now the curates take it from the vicars, but the vicars certainly did not take it from the bishops.
"My vicar," was the authority quoted recently in a London police-court by a young corate for a service not in the Book of Common Prayer.
A letter, which appeared in a recent issue of a Church newspaper, written by a late curate, now vicar, opens in a quite pathetic way, thus : “The present ritual controversy . . . is somewhat disquieting to those of us who have meekly followed our leaders and been taught how to say Mass in a Catholic manner by those who are considered [by whom ? the bishops ?] experts in ceremonial and liturgiology."
their full heritage. The present writer has seen this process going on very rapidly even in the few years of his ministration in that Church.
Stone by stone the shattered edifice of the faith has been built up in the minds of many, till first this point and then that, which was rejected a short time ago even by High Churchmen as "un-primitive and un-catholic,” has been found, on further study and reflection, to be both Primitive and Catholic.
God grant that the authority of the See of Peter—the very rock of Christendom *—may also in time be seen to be, as it really is, both Primitive and Catholic.
On account of the common errors of non-Catholics on this subject, it is as well to state that, of course, the Church holds that this attribute is only applied to St. Peter and his See in a subordinate sense to that in which it is used of Christ, “ that Rock' than Whom “no man can lay other foundation.”
H. C. CORRANCE.
VIOLINS AND GIRLS.
BEAUTIFUL girl playing on a beautiful violin is the most
beautiful thing in the world—bien entendu, that the beautiful girl is full of genius and sensibility.
The barrier which for long, in spite of St. Cecilia and the angels, warned off women from violins, in the name of all that was feminine, no longer exists. Indeed, within the last twenty-five years, we have been afflicted with a girl-violin mania. School misses before they are in their teens clamour to learn the violin. It is a common sight in London to see maidens of all ages laden with fiddles of all sizes, their music rolls strapped tightly to the cases, hurrying to the underground railway, or hailing the omnibus or cab in Oxford Street, Regent Street, and Bond Street, Then the Royal Academy, Royal College, Guildhall class-rooms are choked with violin-girls, and no ladies' seminary is now complete without the violin tutor. Women have already invaded orchestras, and at least one celebrated amateur society can boast of nothing but lady players, whilst the profession as regards soloists divides its honours pretty equally between male and female virtuosi.
Upon the depressing and gloomy side of this question I do not desire to dwell at undue length. Girls without talent, it is alas ! true, rush to the violin, and are forced offensively upon unoffending audiences, who apparently have not yet discovered the means of defending themselves. If a girl nowadays can't play the piano, she is no longer pressed, but if she can't play the violin she does not seem to have a candid friend with sufficient courage to tell her so. She will get up with the greatest aplomb in any assembly and inflict the scrapings of an incompetent novice on the company.
The room will immediately be hushed, just as it is when a pretty creature with
a voice like a peacock stands up to sing—and after a brief but futile tussle with Raff's cavatina, or Bach's prelude, your violin girl will retire smirking and self-satisfied, without the least idea that she has been exposing herself to the pity and ridicule of any musicians who happen to be present.
Of course, the advantages to a girl of performing on the violin are obvious. If she sings she may lose her voice, and if she has not got one she can't sing. If she plays the piano no one will cease talking, in England at least; no, not even if she plays divinely; and then she cannot be well seen at the piano. But if she holds a violin she is at once isolated. In our overcrowded female population isolation is everything. To be picked or to pick yourself out of the crowd, to command the undivided attention of the room, to have your innings, and to have it all to yourself under the most advantageous, the most fascinating circumstances, that is a great point. A girl may go to a dozen " at homes” and parties, but there are dozens more girls there along with her, and she is but one in the dozen. But let her suddenly appear with her violin and she gets her opportunity. She is perfectly seen as she stands at ease. If she plays at night her arms and shoulders are bare, her head, with its artistically dressed hair, set off with a rose or diamond comb, falls into a natural and fetching pose, just a little on one side, her cheek leans lovingly upon the smooth surface of her glowing Cremona, and is set off at once by its sombre orange or gold red varnish. Every motion of both her wellrounded arms is expressive; every attitude, if she plays really well and knows how to hold her instrument, must be graceful—displaying her flexible wrists, arms, and shoulders to the best advantage. Expression, pathos, passion, sweetness, tenderness, vigor, aspiration, ecstacy, delicious imaginative woe, all sweep over her countenance like swift cloud shadows that chase each other on a summer's day over the wide uplands or sunny cornfields. She reveals herself without selfconsciousness, for she claims the virtuoso's privilege of being lost in her art. She charms by her spontaneity, her enthusiasm is infectious; see, her eyes are now half closed in dreamy languor, but presently they flash forth like beacon fires, and then on a sudden seem to fill with tears that glisten in her long dark lashes and forget to fall. The congealed girl is melted by the very essence of her divine art. The silent maiden finds a frank and fearless tongue more eloquent than her own.
Her emotional consciousness, which lay buried in the depths of her virginal nature, is suddenly brought up to the surface; it pervades the whole of her tingling frame, and her soul, a moment before apparently so cold and pallid, like a piece of labrador spar when set at a particular angle, gives off beautiful and iridescent tints.
It is indeed strange that woman should have had to wait until the last quarter of the Victorian Era before her claims to the violin were fully recognised, when a moment's reflection will show how perfectly adapted the instrument is to her whole constitution, and how exquisitely fitted she is to manipulate its anointed fabric and call forth the secrete of its mysterious soul. Her sensitive hand seems made to clasp its smooth and taper neck. How gracefully and expressively do her white, rosy-tipped fingers spread themselves upon the black finger-board, now pressing down close and tight, now hovering over the vibrating chords. With what swiftness of command does her bow attack, caress, or dally with the willing strings; how comfortably and fondly does the Cremona nestle under her little chin, close above her throbbing heart, as though listening fondly to the whispering rustle of those tender beats before transmuting their message into mystic sound.
At last, at last! she has found a vehicle worthy of her subtle or passionate, but too long imprisoned, emotions; all those vague day-dreams, those quick returns upon self, those shy reticences which yearn for å ear that cannot be found, those confidences which will be revealed through her violin, but never betrayed, that suffocation of feeling that finds no relief until it is suddenly seized, explored, embraced, and lifted away upon those tidal waves of ineffable melody, the spiritual counterpart of herself, the ministers of her agony and of her delight, the interpreter of things which “words are powerless to express, and leave them still unsaid in part, or say them in too great excess!”
Yes, surely the violin is made for woman, and woman is made for the violin. It is at once her grandest interpreter of feeling and her best substitute for love, if love she may not have. I have often noticed how all-sufficient to a woman is her violin, ay, it fills her ideal kingdom with the suggestion and prophecy of so much that might be spoiled by more material realisation; and we must remember
at, whilst woman is the greatest and most inexorable of realists, she is also an idealist beyond man's wildest dreams; but she will often discover in the subtle fabric and materialism of the violin just so much of realism as she requires to enable her to live perfectly in a purely ideal and almost supersensuous world of psychic consciousness. In this high empire of sound the woman becomes a true priestess. She stands forth as the embodiment of human sympathy and spiritual intuition.
The other day I was casually looking through a photographic album of violin-playing women. Among them were the most famous, the most accomplished and fascinating of our time. In many I noticed that dreamy far-away look of those who move about in worlds not realised; but here is one surely close apon the borderland, listening, as it were, to footfalls on the threshold, or to “the lordly music flowing from the illimitable years!” In many I discerned a look of almost overwrought sensibility, and a proscience as of a fine spirit