“Oh! it was you and not the music,” he returned half-cajolingly, while he beat the tom-tom on air.
“Hark here!” cried Emilia. She recited a verse. “Doesn’t that sound dead? Now hark!” She sang the verse, and looked confidently for Tracy’s verdict at the close.
“What a girl that is!” He went about the house, raving of her to everybody, with sundry Gallic interjections; until Mrs. Chump said: “’Deed, sir, ye don’t seem to have much idea of a woman’s feelin’s.”
Tracy produced in a night two sketches of libretti for Emilia to choose from—the Roman Clelia being one, and Camillus the other. Tracy praised either impartially, and was indifferent between them, he told her. Clelia offered the better theme for passionate song, but there was a winning political object and rebuff to be given to Radicalism in Camillus. “Think of Rome!” he said.
Emilia gave the vote for Camillus, beginning forthwith to hum, with visions of a long roll of swarthy cavalry, headed by a clear-eyed young chief, sunlight perching on his helm.
“Yes; but you don’t think of the situations in Clelia, and what I can do with her,” snapped Tracy. “I see a song there that would light up all London. Unfortunately, the sentiment’s dead Radical. It wouldn’t so much matter if we were certain to do Camillus as well; because one would act as a counterpoise to the other, you know. Well, follow your own fancy. Camillus is strictly classical. I treat opera there as Alfieri conceived tragedy. Clelia is modern style. Cast the die for Camillus, and let’s take horse. Only, we lose the love-business—exactly where I show my strength. Clelia in the camp of the king: dactyllic chorus-accompaniment, while she, in heavy voluptuous anapaests, confesses her love for the enemy of her country. Remember, this is our romantic opera, where we do what we like with History, and make up our minds for asses telling us to go home and read our ‘student’s Rome.’ Then that scene where she and the king dance the dactyls, and the anapaests go to the chorus. Sublime! Let’s go into the woods and begin. We might give the first song or two to-night. In composition, mind, always strike out your great scene, and work from it—don’t work up to it, or you’ve lost fire when you reach the point. That’s my method.”
They ran into the woods, skipping like schoolboy and schoolgirl. On hearing that Camillus would not be permitted to love other than his ungrateful country, Emilia’s conception of the Roman lord grew pale, and a controversy ensued-she maintaining that a great hero must love a woman; he declaring that a great hero might love a dozen, but that it was beneath the dignity of this drama to allow of a rival to Rome in Camillus’s love.
“He will not do for music,” said Emilia firmly, and was immoveable. In despair, Tracy proposed attaching a lanky barbarian daughter to Brennus, whose deeds of arms should provoke the admiration of the Roman.