The Chevalier Bayard

The town of Bresse having revolted against the
French, was attacked, taken, and sacked, with an almost unexampled fury.

The chevalier Bayard, who was wounded at the beginning of the action, was

carried to the house of a person of quality, whom he protected from the

fury of the conquerors, by placing at the door two soldiers, whom he

indemnified with a gift of eight hundred crowns, in lieu of the plunder

they might have lost by their attendance at the door. The impatience of

Bayard to join the army without considering the state of his wound, which

was by no means well, determined him to depart. The mistress of the house

then threw herself at his feet, saying, "The rights of war make you master

of our lives and our possessions, and you have saved our honour. We hope,

however, from your accustomed generosity that you will not treat us with

severity, and that you will be pleased to content yourself with a present

more adapted to our circumstances, than to our inclinations." At the same

time, she presented him with a small box full of ducats.

Bayard, smiling, asked her how many ducats the box contained. "Two thousand

five hundred, my lord," answered the lady, with much emotion; "but if these

will not satisfy you, we will employ all our means to raise more."--"No,

madam," replied the chevalier, "I do not want money: the care you have

taken of me more than repays the services I have done you. I ask nothing

but your friendship; and I conjure you to accept of mine."

So singular an instance of generosity gave the lady more surprise than joy.

She again threw herself at the feet of the chevalier, and protested that

she would never rise until he had accepted of that mark of her gratitude.

"Since you will have it so," replied Bayard, "I will not refuse it; but may

I not have the honour to salute your amiable daughters?" The young ladies

soon entered, and Bayard thanked them for their kindness in enlivening him

with their company. "I should be glad," said he, "to have it in my power

to convince you of my gratitude; but we soldiers are seldom possessed of

jewels worthy the acceptance of your sex. Your amiable mother has presented

me with two thousand five hundred ducats; I make a present to each of you

of one thousand, for a part of your marriage portion. The remaining five

hundred I give to the poor sufferers of this town, and I beg you will take

on yourselves the distribution."

One of the finest actions of a soldier of which history makes mention, is

related in the history of the Marechal de Luxemburg. The marechal, then

Count de Boutteville, served in the army of Flanders in 1675, under the

command of the Prince of Conde. He perceived in a march some soldiers that

were separated from the main body, and he sent one of his aides-de-camp to

bring them back to their colours. All obeyed, except one, who continued his

road. The count, highly offended at such disobedience, threatened to strike

him with his stick. "That you may do," said the soldier, with great

coolness, "but you will repent of it." Irritated by this answer,

Boutteville struck him, and forced him to rejoin his corps. Fifteen days

after, the army besieged Furnes; and Boutteville commanded the colonel of a

regiment to find a man steady and intrepid for a coup-de-main, which he

wanted, promising a hundred pistoles as a reward. The soldier in question,

who had the character of being the bravest man in the regiment, presented

himself, and taking thirty of his comrades, of whom he had the choice, he

executed his commission, which was of the most hazardous nature, with a

courage and success beyond all praise. On his return, Boutteville, after

having praised him highly, counted out the hundred pistoles he had

promised. The soldier immediately distributed them to his comrades, saying,

that he had no occasion for money; and requested that if what he had done

merited any recompense, he might be made an officer. Then addressing

himself to the count, he asked if he recognised him? and on Boutteville

replying in the negative, "Well," said he, "I am the soldier whom you

struck on our march fifteen days ago. Was I not right when I said that you

would repent of it?" The Count de Boutteville, filled with admiration, and

affected almost to tears, embraced the soldier, created him an officer on

the spot, and soon made him one of his aides-de-camp.

Handel had such a remarkable irritation of nerves, that he could not bear

to hear the tuning of instruments, and therefore at a performance this was

always done before he arrived. A musical wag, who knew how to extract some

mirth from Handel's irascibility of temper, stole into the orchestra, on a

night when the Prince of Wales was to be present, and untuned all the

instruments. As soon as the prince arrived, Handel gave the signal for

beginning, _con spirito;_ but such was the horrible discord, that the

enraged musician started up from his seat, and having overturned a double

bass, which stood in his way, he seized a kettle-drum, which he threw with

such violence at the leader of the band, that he lost his full-bottomed wig

in the effort. Without waiting to replace it, he advanced bare-headed to

the front of the orchestra, breathing vengeance, but so much choked with

passion, that utterance was denied him. In this ridiculous attitude he

stood staring and stamping for some moments, amidst a convulsion of

laughter; nor could he be prevailed upon to resume his seat, until the

prince went in person, and with much difficulty appeased his wrath.

Handel being only a musician, was obliged to employ some person to write

his operas and oratorios, which accounts for their being so very defective

as poetical compositions. One of those versifiers employed by him, once

ventured to suggest, in the most respectful manner, that the music he had

composed to some lines of his, was quite contrary to the sense of the

passage. Instead of taking this friendly hint as he ought to have done,

from one who (although not a Pindar) was at least a better judge of poetry

than himself, he looked upon the advice as injurious to his talents, and

cried out, with all the violence of affronted pride, "What! you teach me

music? The music is good music: confound your words! Here," said he,

thrumming his harpsichord, "are my ideas; go and make words to them."

Handel became afterwards the proprietor of the Opera House, London; and

presided at the harpsichord in the orchestra (piano-fortes not being then

known). His embellishments were so masterly, that the attention of the

audience was frequently diverted from the singing to the accompaniment, to

the frequent mortification of the vocal professors. A pompous Italian

singer was, on a certain occasion, so chagrined at the marked attention

paid to the harpsichord, in preference to his own singing, that he swore,

that if ever Handel played him a similar trick, he would jump down upon his

instrument, and put a stop to the interruption. Handel, who had a

considerable turn for humour, replied: "Oh! oh! you vill jump, vill you?

very vell, sare; be so kind, and tell me de night ven you vill jump, and I

vill advertishe it in de bills; and I shall get grate dale more money by

your jumping, than I shall get by your singing."

Although he lived much with the great, Handel was no flatterer. He once

told a member of the royal family, who asked him how he liked his playing

on the violoncello? "Vy, sir, your highness _plays like a prince_." When

the same prince had prevailed on him to hear a minuet of his own

composition, which he played himself on the violoncello, Handel heard him

out very quietly; but when the prince told him, that he would call in his

band to play it to him, that he might hear the full effect of his

composition, Handel could contain himself no longer, and ran out of the

room, crying, "Worsher and worsher, upon mine honour."

One Sunday, having attended divine worship at a country church, Handel

asked the organist to permit him to play the people out; to which, with a

politeness characteristic of the profession, the organist consented. Handel

accordingly sat down to the organ, and began to play in such a masterly

manner, as instantly to attract the attention of the whole congregation,

who, instead of vacating their seats as usual, remained for a considerable

space of time, fixed in silent admiration. The organist began to be

impatient (perhaps his wife was waiting dinner); and at length addressing

the performer, told him that he was convinced that _he_ could not play the

people out, and advised him to relinquish the attempt; which being done,

they were played out in the usual manner.

In 1741, Handel, who was then proceeding to Ireland, was detained for some

days at Chester, in consequence of the weather. During this time he applied

to Mr. Baker, the organist, to know whether there were any choir men in the

cathedral who could sing _at sight_, as he wished to prove some books that

had been hastily transcribed, by trying the choruses. Mr. Baker mentioned

some of the best singers in Chester, and among the rest, a printer of the

name of Janson, who had a good bass voice, and was one of the best

musicians in the choir. A time was fixed for this private rehearsal at the

Golden Falcon, where Handel had taken up his residence; when, on trial of a

chorus in the Messiah, poor Janson, after repeated attempts, failed

completely, Handel got enraged, and after abusing him in five or six

different languages, exclaimed in broken English, "You schauntrel, tit not

you dell me dat you could sing at soite?" "Yes sir," said the printer, "so

I can, but not at _first sight_."

Mozart, walking in the suburbs of Vienna, was accosted by a mendicant of a

very prepossessing appearance and manner, who told his tale of woe with

such effect, as to interest the musician strongly in his favour; but the

state of his purse not corresponding with the impulse of his humanity, he

desired the applicant to follow him to a coffee-house. Here Mozart, drawing

some paper from his pocket, in a few minutes composed a minuet, which with

a letter he gave to the distressed man, desiring him to take it to his

publisher. A composition from Mozart was a bill payable at sight; and to

his great surprise the now happy mendicant was immediately presented with

five double ducats.

When Haydn was in England, one of the princes commissioned Sir Joshua

Reynolds to take his portrait. Haydn went to the painter's house, and sat

to him, but soon grew tired. Sir Joshua, careful of his reputation, would

not paint a man of acknowledged genius, with a stupid countenance; and

deferred the sitting till another day. The same weariness and want of

expression occurring at the next attempt, Reynolds went and communicated

the circumstance to his royal highness, who contrived the following

stratagem. He sent to the painter's house a German girl, in the service of

the queen. Haydn took his seat for the third time, and as soon as the

conversation began to flag, a curtain rose, and the fair German addressed

him in his native language, with a most elegant compliment. Haydn,

delighted, overwhelmed the enchantress with questions; his countenance

recovered its animation, and Sir Joshua rapidly seized its traits.

Haydn could be comic as well as serious; and he has left a remarkable

instance of the former, in the well known symphony, during which all the

instruments disappear, one after the other, so that, at the conclusion, the

first violin is left playing by himself. The origin of this singular piece

is thus accounted for. It is said that Haydn, perceiving his innovations

were ill received by the performers of Prince Esterhazy, determined to play

a joke upon them. He caused his symphony to be performed, without a

previous rehearsal, before his highness, who was in the secret. The

embarrassment of the performers, who all thought they had made a mistake,

and especially the confusion of the first violin, when, at the end, he

found he was playing alone, diverted the court of Eisenstadt. Others

assert, that the prince having determined to dismiss all his band, except

Haydn, the latter imagined this ingenious way of representing the general

departure, and the dejection of spirits consequently upon it. Each

performer left the concert room as soon as his part was finished.

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