“I cannot understand how you should be able to sing Scotch songs so well. I never heard any but Scotch women sing them, even endurably, before: your singing of them is perfect.”
“It seems to me,” said Euphra, speaking as if she would rather have remained silent, “that a true musical penetration is independent of styles and nationalities. It can perceive, or rather feel, and reproduce, at the same moment. If the music speaks Scotch, the musical nature hears Scotch. It can take any shape, indeed cannot help taking any shape, presented to it.”
Hugh was yet further astonished by this criticism from one whom he had been criticising with so much carelessness that very day.
“You think, then,” said he, modestly, not as if he would bring her to book, but as really seeking to learn from her, “that a true musical nature can pour itself into the mould of any song, in entire independence of association and education?”
“Yes; in independence of any but what it may provide for itself.”
Euphrasia, however, had left one important element unrepresented in the construction of her theory—namely, the degree of capability which a mind may possess of sympathy with any given class of feelings. The blossom of the mind, whether it flower in poetry, music, or any other art, must be the exponent of the nature and condition of that whose blossom it is. No mind, therefore, incapable of sympathising with the feelings whence it springs, can interpret the music of another. And Euphra herself was rather a remarkable instance of this forgotten fact.
Further conversation on the subject was interrupted by the entrance of Mr. Arnold, who looked rather annoyed at finding Hugh in the drawing-room, and ordered Harry off to bed, with some little asperity of tone. The boy rose at once, rang the bell, bade them all good night, and went. A servant met him at the door with a candle, and accompanied him.
Thought Hugh: “Here are several things to be righted at once. The boy must not have wine; and he must have only one dinner a-day—especially if he is ordered to bed so early. I must make a man of him if I can.”
He made inquiries, and, with some difficulty, found out where the boy slept. During the night he was several times in Harry’s room, and once in happy time to wake him from a nightmare dream. The boy was so overcome with terror, that Hugh got into bed beside him and comforted him to sleep in his arms. Nor did he leave him till it was time to get up, when he stole back to his own quarters, which, happily, were at no very great distance.
I may mention here, that it was not long before Hugh succeeded in stopping the wine, and reducing the dinner to a mouthful of supper. Harry, as far as he was concerned, yielded at once; and his father only held out long enough to satisfy his own sense of dignity.