Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub
[merged small][ocr errors]

I gave a “convite,” as such a party is called in that part of the world. I had the worthy curate, the Comandante Brest, Don Pedro Quesnėy, Mr. George Washington Tuckerman, Señor Valdés, a merchant, Don Baltazar Gonzalez, the comandante's uncle, his riyal Duval, and one or two others, the notables of the port. In addition I had an original countryman of our own,-a Highlander,one Captain M.Dougall, who commanded a brig which had been sent up the river by an English house to take down some hides which their agent had collected in the province.

All the good things and all the good cooking of Goya were put in requisition for the “ convite."

To many native dainties, in the shape of roast and ragout, poultry and pies, pastry and sweets, were added English luxuries, consisting of hams, pickles, sauces, Stilton cheese, and other delicacies,

-good honest port, brown sherry, and, (what is much cheaper in South America than England,) plenty of claret. The whole furnished out a very good repast for our guests, or, which is the same thing, what they esteemed as such.

The dinner concluded, my brother and I considered that, according to the custom of that day,

10

THE CONVITE

R ENTERTAINMENT.

five-and-twenty years ago, though happily a great reform has taken place since—our next duty was to settle under the table as many of our friends as chose to view that as their legitimate place at the finale of the banquet. Dining with an Englishman, the honest Goyeros believed that they were bound by the strictest rules of etiquette, to drink till they could drink no more; for at that time an “ English dinner” and “getting drunk” were two ideas rendered indissolubly one in their minds. So the wine circulated freely; mirth and hilarity presided over the “ festive board,” and without calculating consequences for the next morning, every one was as happy as good cheer and good company could make him. I must except the comandante's uncle, who somewhat moodily retired after the conclusion of the dinner, and the worthy curate, who, though very happy, took also an early departure.

I was never yet at a “convite” where there were many Spaniards that I did not witness a great deal of pleasantry, drollery, and wit. On this occasion these pleasant ingredients of society were rendered more piquant by the originalities of Tuckerman, Quesnėy, and M.Dougall. The wine softened Tuckerman's sensibility into many maudlin recol

CAPTAIN MÓDOUGALL.

11

lections of his dear Charlotte, when in a set speech he called on us to drink, as “ his toast,” to her health ; Don Pedro's volubility and incomprehensibility increased with every glass of claret which he took; while Captain M‘Dougall's Spanish, when he attempted it, was even more amusing than Quesney's. On the other hand his homely broad Scotch, with a Highland accent, when woven in with the finely-spun thread of Tuckerman's superlative eloquence, formed a web of curiously contrasted material.

I had heard of M.Dougall's being a great proficient on the violin, and the moment I mentioned the instrument he jumped up, clapped his hands, and giving a wheugh! off he ran to his vessel, moored within 50 yards of where we sat, and returned in three minutes with his fiddle.

He proved to be the most perfect adept at Scotch reels and highland airs (some of which by-the-bye are not at all unlike the South American tristes) that ever delighted my ears; and, in his own particular line, he was the veriest “ fanatico per la musica” that ever drew bow across catgut. Those who know the Highlander are aware that his character often developes an

12

CAPTAIN MÓDOUGALL,

enthusiasm and fervour far surpassing the bounds which the soberer Englishman allows to his inward movements or his outward demonstrations : so that when M.Dougall found his native strains touched the heart, and his Neil Gowisms moved with sympathetic ardour even the souls of the Spaniards, he could scarcely, as a Scotchman, contain his feelings of pride and joy, so far as not to interfere with the heart-stirring strains which, like another Paganini, he drew from the fiddle. But when he heard, in that remote region of the globe, the repeated applauses of his own countrymen; when we inflamed his imagination by carrying him back to the scenes of our father-land, and called on him for some well-known illustration of them on his magic instrument, for “ Ye banks and braes," or Auld Robin Gray,or “ Maggie Lawther," or Fie, let us a' to the waddin ;" when, at last, to some irresistible reel, we could no longer keep our seats, but started to our feet as if the ball had commenced,–M.Dougall could no longer restrain his joy; it overflowed and carried all before it : he turned round and round, threw down his fiddle, flourished his fiddlestick in the air, huzzaed, and gave way to an extravagant delirium of national

THE SCOTCH FIDDLER.

13

buoyancy as he witnessed, on those who surrounded him, the effects of his own performance.

The convite commenced at three o'clock, and at nine it broke up. The comandante got what M.Dougall called “unco fou,” and, himself disorderly, was sent home supported by his two orderlies. Old Gonzalez got to be on the best terms with the modest Duval, and, I think, almost went the length of promising to let him have Rosita; while Duval could do nothing but look, in return, as lovingly at Gonzalez as if he were his daughter Rosa, squeezing his hand, and ekeing out, by gesticulations, those tender feelings which his tongue refused to express with anything like clearness. As for Tuckerman, he was in the clouds ; he apostrophized Charlotte ; he essayed to break through a misty conglomeration of imagery of domestic bliss and refined friendship, which lay huddled in confusion on his mind. He spouted about the “ blue chạmber," and the “sloping lawn” on the banks of the Paraná; and he made his exit, proclaiming an everlasting peace between the starstudded bunting of the United States and the Union Jack of Old England. My brother and myself were just brought to that point which is

« AnteriorContinuar »