The overture to the promenade concerts usually consists of a pantomime entirely new to an English audience. Monsieur Jullien having made his appearance in the orchestra, seats himself in a conspicuous situation, to indulge the ladies with the most favourable view of his elegant person, and the splendid gold-chainery which is spread all over his magnificent waistcoat. A servant in livery then appears, and presents him with a pair of white kid gloves. The illustrious conductor, having taken some time to thrust them upon a very large and red hand, leisurely takes up his baton, rises, grins upon the expectant musicians, lifts his arm, and—the first chord is struck!
Quadrilles are the staple of the evening—those composed by Monsieur Jullien always, of course, claiming precedence and preference. These are usually interspersed with solos on the flageolet, to contrast with obligati for the ophecleido; the drummers—side, long, and double—are seldom inactive; the trombones and trumpets have no sinecure, and there is always a great mortality amongst the fiddle-strings. Eight bars of impossible variation is sure to be succeeded by sixteen of the deafening fanfare of trumpets, combined with smashing cymbalism, and dreadful drumming.
The public have a taste for headaches, and Jullien has imported a capital recipe for creating them; they applaud—he bows; and musical taste goes—in compliment to the ex-waiter’s genuine profession of man-cook—to pot.
But the ci-devant cuisinier is not content with comparatively harmless, plain-sailing humbug; he must add some sauce piquante to his musical hashes. He cannot rest with merely stunning English ears, but must shock our morals, At the bals masques, the French dancers, and the hardly mentionable cancan, were hooted back to their native stews under the Palais Royal; but he provides substitutes for them in the tableaux vivans now exhibiting. This, because a more insidious, is a safer introduction. The living figures are dressed to imitate plaster-of-Paris, and are so arranged as to form groups, called in the bills “classical;” but for which it would be difficult to find originals. In short, the whole thing is a feeler thrown out to see how far French impudence and French epicureanism in vice may carry themselves. It shall not be our fault if they do not experience an ignominious downfall, and beat a speedy retreat, to the tune of the “Rogue’s March,” arranged as a quadrille!
* * * * *
THE REAL TEMPLE OF FAME.
“Some men are born to
greatness, some men achieve greatness, and
some have greatness thrust upon them.”—SHAKSPEARE.
Reader, should you doubt the above assertion, in the true showman phraseology, just “Walk up! walk up!” to Madame Tussaud’s, the real Temple of Fame, and let such doubts vanish for ever; convince yourselves that the mighty attribute not more survives from good than evil deeds, though, like poverty, it makes its votaries acquainted with the strangest of strange bedfellows! The regal ermine and the murderer’s fustian alike obtain their enviable niche.