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Monday, 16 April 2012

"...Sang with Striking Effect the National Anthem, Which was Succeeded by Lusty Cheers for her Majesty..." Or: Some Diamond Jubilee Details:

This isn't a real blog post as such, but I have some information that some may find interesting sitting in a folder on my computer, and I thought I may as well share it, since it's no good hidden away, and hopefully people may enjoy reading it or even get some use out of it;

Advertising using the Queen
Recently I was asked to provide someone with a little information about the celebrations that occurred in London for Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee in 1897. My instructions were to find out what food people were eating, what music they were listening to, special events they may have attended and such like, and I was only too happy to help. (I was writing my advertising post at the time - which you can find directly beneath this one - and had been looking at plenty of instances of 'jubilee mania' which resulted in advertisers using the image of the Queen to push their products)

Much like Victoria ’s golden jubilee in 1887, the country went through a period of ‘jubilee mania’ in 1897 for her diamond jubilee. I discovered plenty of articles letters describing the flooding of the market with what, by the sound of it, can only be described as ‘tat’. Jubilee toothpicks, combs, handkerchief’s, ash trays and the like swarmed the cities, which seemed to annoy a lot of people, but, on the whole, the country (from what I found, anyway) appears to have been in celebratory mood for the jubilee.

It does seem that Britons were far more patriotic then than they are today, (possibly because they had an Empire to cheer about) but along with the usual stories of flags, Chinese lanterns, bonfires and fireworks that were put up, and watched in most cities and towns, I managed to find some useful snippets in what I think are probably the best barometers for the public opinion, and the best source of detail for events such as these – old newspapers.
 
So, here are some little details I managed to sniff out from old newspapers with regards to Queen Victoria's Diamond jubilee. I have separated them into sections for slightly easier reading;


General Celebration:
At the instance of Mr. Wootton Isaacson, M.P., the Secretary of State for War has promised that the Indian and Colonial contingents, together with the Guards and bands, will parade through 16 miles of the East End of London some convenient day after the Jubilee Celebration. Information has already been received of arrangements to light no fewer than 720 large bonfires from elevated points throughout the United Kingdom on Jubilee night. Yorkshire alone is providing more than 100 bonfires. Sussex and Somerset have each planned 60 to correspond with the number of years of the Queen's Reign. In another case a similar idea is to be carried out by erecting a bonfire 60ft. in height. Even the small county of Radnor has arranged for 40 bonfires.
 

Good Deeds, Food & the Celebrations for the Less Fortunate:
In connection with the Princess of Wales's Fund for the poor, the Bethnal Green Committee have arranged that lodgers in lodging-houses and the outcast poor of their parish shall be all entertained in one building, and that the dinner shall consist of roast beef, two vegetables, plum pudding, bread, lemonade, and oranges. One half ounce of tobacco and a clay pipe will be given to each man. An orchestral band will play during dinner, and the room will be decorated. There will be other dinners at various places for persons not in that category.
 
Provision will also be made for dinners, to families in their own homes. Local tradesmen will be employed, but samples of all food to be given will be inspected beforehand. The dinners will be distributed by voluntary helpers to the people in their homes, with coals, &c., to cook with, and will consist of meat, potatoes, puddings, bread, butter, and tea.
By desire of the Lady Mayoress, the Ragged School Union will feed the crippled children, and the names of applicants may be sent to 37, Norfolk Street , Strand . There will be one large dinner for crippled children at the People's Palace, the rest being provided for at their own homes. Mr. Wheatley, of the St. Giles's Christian Mission, has been asked to deal with cases of the wives and families of persons in prison. Blind people will be provided for through the Indigent Blind Society, of 27, Red Lion Square , or the National Blind Relief Society in Chelsea . A preliminary meeting of music-hall managers, artists, and others was held at the Tivoli yesterday, Mr. Vernon Dowsett presiding, for the purpose of taking steps to celebrate the Long Reign. It was agreed that the celebration take the form of a benefit performance, the charity to be aided being the Queen's Jubilee Institute for Nurses. This idea was taken up with enthusiasm by the large and representative gathering. It was decided to hold a matinee performance at the Tivoli on the 28th inst., the use of the theatre being freely granted for the occasion.
 

CHILDREN'S ENTERTAINMENT AT GRAYS-INN.
By the kindness of the Treasurer and Masters of the Bench of Grays Inn a Jubilee entertainment was given to nearly two thousand children on Saturday afternoon and evening, in the gardens of their Inn. That the fete was of an unconventional character may be inferred from the fact that the cards of invitation were allotted to eight of the poorest schools in the neighbourhood of the Inn , between three hundred and four hundred working women being also included.In the organisation and superintendence of the proceedings a prominent part was taken by Mr. M. W. Mattinson, Q.C, the Treasurer, Mr. Hugh Shield, Q.C, Mr. John Rose (Police-court Magistrate), Mr. S. Macaskie, Mr. F. W. Musgrave, the Steward, and Mr. Dornthwaite, Chief Clerk. At the beginning a Jubilee mug was given to each child, and it was well that it was of unbreakable material, otherwise the exuberance of the children when they found themselves within the grounds, so different from their ordinary surroundings, might have produced a good deal of inconvenience.An hour or so was spent in amusement before tea. to which the children, grouped according to their schools, sat down upon the grass, an ample supply of bread and butter and cake being provided; while elder visitors (not a few of whom brought babies) were accommodated in a marquee. The entertainments included a couple of Punch and Judy shows, conjuring, the eccentricities of a "Nigger" troupe, swings, and see-saws, not one of which was for a moment unattended, and music by a good band in uniform. Music, of course, suggested dancing, and the "steps" which almost invariably accompany the playing of a barrel organ in the streets of the poorer quarters of London were reproduced by many of the children, especially the girls, in a remarkable manner. The weather was delightfully fine, the bright sunshine being tempered by a pleasant breeze; numbers of the youngsters in consequence found their chief diversion in gambolling on the grass or rolling down the slopes by which two sides of the gardens — or "walks'' as they were termed in days gone by — are enclosed, which they did with all the abandon of which children released for a time from brick-and-mortar environments are capable.On a grassy terrace a series of sports were indulged in, consisting of races for boys and girls, separately and "mixed," potato picking, egg and spoon contests, &c. The difficulty was, however, to keep a clear course, as no area was enclosed at all, and the ladies and gentlemen who undertook this duty had their hands more than full in checking the encroachment of the non-contestants— encroachment pardonable enough when it was considered that the intruders ranged in age from four years up to about three times that figure.On leaving, each boy and girl, who had previously received a large mince pie, was presented with a bag of sweets. The gardens — containing many very fine trees— were decorated with flags and Chinese lanterns, remnants of the more ambitious entertainment which the Benchers gave on the previous evening.
  - London Standard - Monday 28 June 1897


A GIGANTIC TEA PARTY.
Of the many free meals with which the school children and the poor of the Metropolis have been regaled in commemoration of the Queen's long reign, none, perhaps, was more numerously attended than that given yesterday afternoon at Olympia to the school children in the parish of Hammersmith. Four o'clock was the time fixed for the tea to commence, but fully an hour before that time several thousand children, presenting a clean and smart appearance, gathered in Blythe Road , completely blocking the thorough- fare leading to the Olympia Annexe. The meal, which consisted of a plentiful supply of tea and milk, bread and butter, and plum and currant cake, was served in the spacious building which was lately utilised for roller skating. Tables, heavily laden with huge piles of bread and butter and cake, were stretched a few feet apart in line from one end of the building to the other. The building was stocked with 5000lb. of bread, 500lb. of butter. 1200lb. of sugar, 5000lb. of cake, 150lb. of tea, and 1500 gallons of milk. The children — boys and girls together — who numbered upwards of 12,000, and all of whom live within easy distance, marched in procession to the building. They were regaled in batches varying in number from 3000, to 3700. The hands of the clock had turned six before the last batch, which numbered nearer 4000 than 5000 children had been feasted. There being still a quantity of food left, the Committee decided to admit several hundred poorly clad children, who had neither been invited nor attended the schools, but who had gathered outside the gates, an invitation which was promptly accepted. For the amusement of the school children a variety entertainment was provided in the grounds, which was followed by a cycle carnival organised by some of the residents in the district. Later in the day the groups were visited by the Lady Mayoress, who, accompanied by her two daughters — evinced much interest in the games indulged in. Prior to her departure the children were massed round the band-stand in the grounds, and on the signal being given, sang with striking effect and great heartiness three verses of the National Anthem, which was succeeded by lusty cheers for her Majesty, with which the proceedings were brought to a close. The arrangements were admirably carried out under the supervision of Mr. John C. Piatt, who was assisted by the local clergy and several of the leading inhabitants.
  - London Standard - Friday 02 July 1897

Public Opinion:
AN OLD SOLDIER TO THE EDITOR OF THE MORNING POST.
SIR, — The Jubilee has been the means of flooding the shop windows with wares of every sort and kind bearing the National emblems: Jubilee mugs, walking-sticks, charms, photograph frames, links, watches, pins, clocks — nothing is lacking; but it is too lamentable to see the terrible errors which have been made in carrying out the heraldic part of the designs. It has, alas! too long been evident that heraldry is almost forgotten by this generation, for it almost seems that the chief necessity in colouring the national emblems is to do that which is the reverse of right. To represent the historic Union Rose of York and Lancaster, so long the badge of England (and now taking its part in the Union badge), as a garden variety of red or white, or to omit the double treasure within which the Scotch lion should perform his gymnastic feats, are merely minor errors. Again, we frequently see the Irish harp on a green ground instead of the Royal blue; also the colours of the lions and of the ground on which they disport themselves reversed. I noticed at a certain store in the vicinity of Albert-gate the red St. George's Cross in the Union flag shown blue, St. Patrick white on red, and St. Andrew blue on white. Surely, when one sees these flagrant mistakes, it is time that some steps should be taken to prevent unscrupulous tradesmen from foisting on a credulous public these despicable parodies of the National insignia. Has not the Earl Marshal of England the power to forbid or punish such desecration? or, if not, cannot Parliament confer such power on him ? Now that her Majesty's uniforms have ceased to clothe the sandwichmen, could not some little attention be paid to this misuse of the Royal Arms and badges? Truly there are a few bright exceptions, amongst them a well known Bond Street firm, who are making the most laudable efforts to ensure the strictest accuracy in design, and their Jubilee souvenirs are most instructive, being quite an education to those not well versed in the intricacies of heraldry.
 — Yours, &c,
  -  Morning Post, 4th June, 1897
 
 
HERALDRY. TO THE EDITOR OE THE MORNING POST.
SlR,—
Some special form of decoration should be given, with her Majesty's permission, to the window in which her Majesty stood when she was proclaimed our Queen. The window is one of many on the east side of St. James's Palace, and remains exactly as it was 60 years ago. It is the most interesting spot in London , and is really unknown to the present generation. Being historical, it deserves to be marked by some token on Jubilee Day worthy of its associations, while there is evidence in existence which should satisfy even Lord Rosebery and Sir John Lubbock that the window in question is known by —
Yours, &c,
 

TO THE EDITOR OF THE MORNING POST.
SIR,— I am surprised that the kindly and beautiful thought of the Princess of Wales to have us hungry persons in London for one day has not been caught up enthusiastically all over the Kingdom. Surely if this can be undertaken for so vast a number as the poor of London it could with much less trouble and expense be arranged for every town and village in England at any rate, if not in Scotland and Ireland also. It would be something for all to remember, and would surely give pleasure even to the Queen herself to feel that there was one day in her Reign when there was not a hungry person in the United Kingdom. Is it not worth an effort?
   - Morning Post - Thursday 03 June 1897


JUBILEE WASTE.
TO THES EDITOR OF REYNOLD’S NEWSPAPER
Sir,-A well-known mustard maker who had piled up quite a heavy fortune by inflaming the membrane of millions of stomachs, and by extracting cold on the chest with counter irritation, was once asked how it was that he had made so much wealth out of an article of which people ate so little in comparison to their food. He answered, “I have lived and made money by what people waste, not by what they eat." Anyone who has studied the use and abuse of the mustard-pot will feel the force of this remark. Now, sir, it seems to me that this applies not only to condiments but to the more solid necessaries of life. The forthcoming Jubilee throws the matter into a very lurid blaze of light. Everybody seems to have over estimated the attractive power of the great jubilee extravaganza. The men who rushed to secure sites for seats, so as to make a corner in them, and so reap unearned wealth, also cried out that London would be virtually in it state of famine for two or three days, as it would be impossible to secure any provisions except at famine prices. As a consequence there is already a tendency to "barden" the prices of poultry and fish. It does not mean that the farmers who grow the poultry or the fishermen who catch the fish will reap any particular benefit. It simply means that the men who deal in the market will buy at the ordinary prices and deal "at Jubilee prices." The provisioning of London is a simple matter at ordinary times, and, if we allow for an influx of a million people, that would only (under ordinary circumstances) mean a fifth of the second day's supply. But it has to be borne in mind that there will be a large outflow from London . The City man and the well-to-do – especially those who have let their windows well – will get away from the crowd and go away to the seaside or seine other place. Thus I argued with a well-known caterer. He simply laughed at me. He said, "I should have thought that a man of the world like you would have known by this time that we do not cater for appetite. We cater for waste." Upon listening to his arguments I could feel the force of them. They were to this effect. If you keep an hotel, and have a big crowd, you cook according to an average. What is left goes into the cold stock or the stock pot. But on the Jubilee Day you are sending provisions to places where nothing ever fed before save the sparrows or the rats; you are sending it to the churchyards, the vacant places called “no man's land": you are sending it to the dingy recesses of lawyers' offices, tailors' shops, fishmongers' slabs, banking houses, china, merchants, half demolished buildings, railway bridges and arches, wharves and public buildings, and even newspaper offices. What can they do with "the cold" but waste it?
When a man puts a proposition like that to one the answer is not ready on the spur of the moment. My caterer continued. "The contract is sixty or a hundred lunches. My price, bar liquor, is six shillings a head: no poultry or fish. Well they say they will have poultry and fish, and then I say ten shillings a head, or, if it is a swell place, a guinea." "But," I answered, “who can eat a guinea's-worth of lunch?" “My good sir," he replied, “- they do not eat it. But I cannot weigh it out to an ounce. I am obliged to send whole joints, whole fowls, salmon, or whatever it may be. In some cases it may be they won't eat half of it, in some cases not a third; but it is there. I cannot take it back, and they have got to pay for it. Just the same with wine, &c. It is opened and it is left. I cannot take it back. So you must not calculate upon the extra, supply for a million of people, but for the supply for three times the amount really needed."
In this way only can the anticipated food famine prices be accounted for. The sufferers for this gigantic piece of nineteenth-century folly will he the unfortunate frugal house keeper who does not care a jot about the Jubilee. If the wasted pieces could be collected and given to the very poor some good might come out of it. We have the proposition of the Princess of Wales to feed the poor on a certain day. The idea is laudable enough, but at the same time it is ridiculous. In such cases, as a rule, the least deserving generally get the bounty. The duty of selecting the poor is usually left in the hands of the local clergy. In such cases the poor represent the poor of the particular parson's parish The very poor, who are too poor to go to church and too proud to vaunt their poverty in public, get nothing. To give at man who has to starve for the greater part of the year a dinner bigger than he wants on one particular day is a mistake. He gorges more than is good for him and he feels the bitterness of his position more acutely for many days afterwards.
Much better would it be to give him a few loaves at bread or a joint, which would afford him a moderate meal for several days afterwards, A Jubilee banquet, even to the poor, is waste.
           - Reynolds's Newspaper - Sunday 13 June 1897

TO THE EDITOR OF THE MORNING POST.
Sir, — I hope it is not too late for some consideration to be given, in connection with the Jubilee rejoicings, to the loyalty of the Irish Militia, who during the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny formed so large a portion of our Army. The Irish Militia gave hundreds of its best men to the Regular Service during those times. Their courage and discipline has never been called in question. Would it not, therefore, be a suitable time to recognise their services, and also that of the English, Scots, and Welsh Militia by some distinctive badge? The officers, non-commissioned officers, and men cannot now be very many who were "out" during the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny, and the cost to the country would be very small in comparison with the gratification it would create in the Constitutional Force of the country, and it would also tend to allay any ill-feeling which may have been engendered by the Volunteer medal given to the English, Scots, and Welsh Volunteers.
— Yours, &c


Organization of Events:
THE PRICES OF SEATS. A prolonged investigation conducted yester-day along the whole line of route showed that the prices paid for seats depend simply on what is offered. From Buckingham Palace to Cockspur Street it may be said that seats are priceless, but that is because they are mostly in clubs, whose members have balloted for their places months ago. In Trafalgar-square the stands erected by the Board of Works and the County Council were, to the privileged persons who had a churn on them, cheap indeed. On the County Council stand seats could be obtained by a favoured few as low as 20s: but ordinary members of the Council and various Labour leaders, prominent Municipal enthusiasts, and the like, had to pay 50s. per seat. In the Strand prices have fallen, and are continuing to fall. Every shop window competes with its neighbour: but, unless there is a convenient lunch within reach, the public have fought shy of paying the extravagant prices asked at first. From twenty guineas per seat on the first floor, prices have dropped to two guineas, and there are ample indications that today no reasonable offer will be refused for any seat left unlet. "No reasonable offer," in most cases, seems to mean not less than a guinea. The windy weather yesterday seemed to have a most sobering effect also on those who would have purchased seats in any of the larger open-air stands around the churches in that part of the route between the Strand and St. Paul 's. Restaurants, which had, in addition to convenient seating facilities for luncheon, were the only places where prices were maintained at a high figure. Even in St. Pauls churchyard there were still seats to let, but a determined resistance is there offered to any reduction in price, and five guineas per seat remained the lowest terms on which a place could be had from which to witness the scene of the religious service and the illuminations that are to follow. These low charges only concerned very high-placed seats.

In Cheapside and King William Street the market, in the language of the Stock Exchange, is "firm." and two guineas at least have to be paid for a top floor window. Over London Bridge prices have come down tremendously, and seats may be had for as little as 10s. They are not very good places, but a substantial glimpse of the Procession may be had. The competition of occupants of grand stands and windows on the other side of the river is very keen, and it is easily possible to arrange terms to suit the slenderest purse. This is the condition of affairs all through the southern portion of the Royal route, and there is no doubt that on Tuesday morning it will be feasible to obtain seats in good positions for anything in the way of cash which may be offered. There are great complaints by those who have been at the expense of erecting elaborate structures at the losses they are certain to sustain. In one case no less than 10,000l was expended before a seat was sold, and a loss was expected by Tuesday night of at least 2000l. The particular stand mentioned is in a very prominent position. The consensus of opinion among the agents interviewed yesterday was that the various syndicates who had dealt in these seats had scared the public at first by their high charges, and been themselves guilty of paying too much for the sites they occupied.  - London Standard 19th June 1897
Queen Victoria passes St Paul's Cathedral on her Jubilee procession



THE JUBILEE. PREPARATIONS FOR SPECTATORS.
Only here and there along the line of the route of the Royal Procession South of the Thames is there any opportunity of putting up stands; but the houses and places of business are numerous, if, in many cases, small, and here, as in many other portions of the route, the supply of seats is more than equal to the demand so far. Indeed, the occupiers who accepted the earlier offers of syndicates and speculators were wise in their generation. They have obtained better prices than are being now given. This is the district in which there has been some controversies about the eviction of poor tenants, and while there undoubtedly have been some cases of hardship, yet when the little rooms have been emptied, made clean and more inviting in appearance, and the small windows filled with stands, they will be let, if at all, at a figure which will leave very little profit for the owner. Except at the northern end of the Borough High Street the thoroughfares which will be traversed by her Majesty are all wide, with broad pavements, so that hundreds of thousands of the inhabitants of South London will be able to view the Procession. Fortunately, in this district a considerable number of religious and benevolent institutions will reap pecuniary benefit from the Commemoration. When the seat rents go to a charity or for religious purposes there are always enthusiastic friends to find a market for the tickets and thoughtful purchasers to give a preference to these places when making their arrangements. To start with, St. George the Martyr, in the Borough High Street, will garner about £2,000, a stand to accommodate some 1,200 people having been built outside the church, which juts out into the street and will afford a fine view. The prices range from 3gs. to l0gs., and the money will go towards the erection of new schools and the restoration of the church. In the Borough Road the Polytechnic has made the most of its good site. Not only are the windows being let, but a stand in the front will seat about 2,000, and the profits will go to building a gymnasium and a new workshop. On the other side the London County Council has a stand on a vacant piece of ground belonging to them, and the School Board are making use of the only site they possess on the line of route, and are covering with scaffolding the front of the Borough Road School . The Royal Eye Hospital , St. Georges Circus, the foundation stone of which was laid by the Princess of Wales some years ago, will let its many windows, and among other beneficiaries of the Commemoration will be St. Paul 's Church and St. Thomas 's Church, the Yorkshire Society School and St. Thomas 's Hospital. The Governors and staff of the last-named institution have exerted themselves with success to let seats in a large stand in front of the Hospital. The South Western Railway has repainted the arch across Westminster Bridge Road in green and gold, and seats are rising on each side of the arch, while Harrod's Stores have acquired Messrs. Atkinson's premises for the day, and will have provision for about 2,000 sightseers. On the north side of Westminster Bridge the tower of Big Ben is flanked by two large stands, which are for the use of members of the House of Commons, the officials, and journalists engaged in the Press Gallery and Lobby. These will provide about 1,700 places. Further on in Parliament Square is another great temporary structure building for the Office of Works for Colonial and Indian visitors. The London and North Western Company's Office at the corner of Parliament Street is already nearly hidden with scaffolding, and in Whitehall the Government offices are all erecting seats in front of the ground floor windows; while the roof of Dover House supports several tiers. Opposite the Home Office the Diamond Jubilee Grand Stands Company are building a large pavilion, which, when finished, will resemble a theatre auditorium, with boxes, dress circle, and promenade. In Whitehall , as in the earlier part of the route from Hyde Park Place to Cockspur Street , the demand seems to be brisk and the prices are higher. A private box for ten persons here is charged 250gs., and single seats go from 2gs. to 20gs. Another elaborate stand is at the corner of the Horse Guards Parade, which is built somewhat in the shape of the letter L, the seats at the foot commanding a view of the Procession as it turns into Parliament Street . Here the higher-priced places will be arranged like theatre stalls, and the building is supported, like the other just described, on steel girders. This stand will seat 4,000, and the charges range from 4gs. to 20gs. The Charity Commissioners' Office and the Railway Department of the Board of Trade are both utilising their frontages for the officials, and the last stands on the route are those near the new Admiralty Offices, facing the Horse Guards parade, which are also being built by the Government. Altogether the number of official seats along the line of the Procession exceeds 25,000. The carpet to be used on the Throne Dai's at the forthcoming Jubilee is the outcome of a shilling subscription from the women of England on the suggestion of the Duchess of Teck. It has just been completed. The carpet is a comparatively small one, 18ft. by 16ft., but as every thread has been tied by hand (by girls) it has occupied nearly three months in weaving alone, whilst the design involved considerable labour prior to that. Every detail has been either suggested by or submitted to and approved by his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and other members of the Royal Family, and the whole is emblematical of the Empire. It is to be exhibited by the manufacturers at Bridgnorth from Saturday to Tuesday next, when it will be forwarded to London .

  - London Standard 19th June 1897
 

TO THE EDITOR OF THE STANDARD
Sir; — If the Managers of the Underground and other Railways in London would adopt a simple precaution on the Jubilee day, they would remove the dread of thousands of their passengers. It is simply this. To place a man in uniform, or a policeman, at the inlet door of each station; to form the passengers into a queue in the street — say three abreast. This would ensure "First come first served," prevent all pushing and crowding, give complete control of the numbers on the platforms, and make safe and comfortable what, otherwise, will be a risky undertaking.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
  -  London Standard 19th June 1897



TO THE EDITOR OF THE MORNING POST
Sir, — I beg to call your attention to the danger likely to arise from the over-crowding of the station platforms on the Underground Railway on Jubilee Day. The Bank Holiday catastrophe at Hampstead-heath has shown how simply such an accident may occur. Surely some means of limiting the number of passengers allowed on the platforms of such a busy station as Baker Street , for instance, might easily be arranged.
—     Yours, &c,
- Morning Post - Thursday 03 June 1897


Music:
JUBILEE MUSIC
YESTERDAY afternoon a batch of Jubilee compositions, some new, some nearly new, was given at the Queen's Hall, conducted for the most part by the distinguished composers, themselves. Dr. G. C. Martin, for a beginning, presided over a performance of his "Festival Te Deum," a work of considerable interest and real merit. Without departing from the spirit of the words – on the contrary feeling them for the most part very intimately – he has contrived, nevertheless, very cleverly to combine solemn melody with remarkable freshness and novelty of sentiment. He never for a moment permits his hearers to slacken their attention, although he secures his effects without the slightest vulgarity or cheapness. Then, again, the work impresses one as being an organic whole; part develops naturally from part, and closes again, without violence and without the least sense of scrappiness or irregularity. That, we take it, is the great danger of writing live music to words of this nature which represent so arbitrary and so many various emotions within the limits of a space so small, and we do not hesitate to say that Dr. Martin has produced a fine ecclesiastical work which, in its own appropriate place, must have a finer effect even than it had yesterday afternoon in the concert room. He has paid great attention to the orchestration, which is for the most part extremely well done, though it was possible here and there to detect a little superfluous ornament that occasionally made the music seem more gaudy than rich, a very slight fault which is amply atoned by the genuine insight and appreciation of the right means to an end which the music otherwise proves the composer to have in abundance.
Mr. Eaton Faning's setting of Sir Edwin Arnold's' "Queen Song" was next given, and may be dismissed briefly. We have mentioned this composition before in connection with a concert at the Albert Hall the other day, when it was given for the first time. Our first impressions of the work are not effaced. It "goes" in a certain sense, but it is thoroughly common and uninteresting in conception, without originality or delicacy. The most that can be said in its favour is that it has a good deal of the inspiration of the words in it – words which you instinctively feel should be sung to loud and intelligible rhythms, with an insistent accent and as obvious a melody as may be conceived. Unfortunately Mr. Frederic Cowen's Commemoration Ode, which was also given, follows precisely the same lines, to such an extent, indeed, that its opening phrases seemed, to the casual listener, to be actually only a slight variant of, part of Mr. Faning's music.
Mr. Cowen's music, in truth, is here but of small merit and is only a little less common than Mr. Faning's; moreover, we are not even sure that that is really an improvement, for this other composer does his part with a will and with evident enjoyment, while Mr. Cowen seems to be afraid of handling a matter with which he has clearly little sympathy; and we prefer frank, clean corduroy to a shabby and shiny frock-coat.
Mr. Randegger's version of the 150th Psalm, also sung, was exceedingly amusing. Miss Fanny Moody was engaged for the treble solo, and she was there to sing it; but Mr. Randegger so heaped his orchestra in enormous blasts of elementary musical phrase upon her unfortunate voice that we really cannot Judge the matter, though from her manner and action she seemed to be singing very vigorously, and she certainly sang the first verse of the National Anthem at the opening of the concert very well indeed. Finally, Dr. Bridge presided over a performance of his jubilee Anthem, “Blessed be the Lord," the chief humour of which lay in the introduction of phrases into the music from "God Save the Queen," which had the delightful effect of causing the bulk of a loyal audience to pop to their feet every now and then, and to subside perplexedly when the phrase turned, under a sort of dazed impression that they were listening to occasional performances of the National Anthem. No: most of the musical flowers of this jubilee bouquet were not particularly fragrant or impressively beautiful.
  - Pall Mall Gazette - Monday 21 June 1897

           
To hark back to my previous post, and also relevant to this post, I've been out and about over the last few weeks and have not been surprised to find that the tradition of using national events to sell tat is still going strong - I've seen Queen Elizabeth jubilee tea-towels, canvas bags, oven gloves, cushions etc, etc.

It's nice in a way to know that we still hold on to some Victorian customs...

2 comments:

  1. Fascinating post, I can see I'm going to be spending some time here!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you - I hope you find plenty of interest!

    ReplyDelete