The citizen predestined to the clarinet has an intelligence which is almost obtuse up to the age of eighteena period of incubation, when he begins to feel in his nose the first thrills of his fatal vocation.
Later on, if he wants to obtain the position of porter in a gentlemans house, or aspires to the hand of a woman with a delicate ear, he tries to lay aside his instrument, but the taste for loud notes and strong liquors only leaves him with life.
At home, he or she is in the habit of bringing out the instrument at dessert, and dinner being over, and the spirits of the family therefore more or less cheerfully disposed, will entertain the company with the Miserere in Il Trovatore, or some similar melody.
The organist is usually a person sent into the world for the purpose of making a great noise without undue expenditure of strength, one who wants to blow harder than others without wearing out his own bellows.
At forty he becomes the intimate friend of the parish priest, and the most influential person connected with the church. By dint of repeating the same refrains every day at matins and vespers, he acquires a knowledge of Latin, and gets all the anthems, hymns, and masses by heart. At fifty he marries a devout spinster recommended by the priest.
He makes a kind and good-tempered husband, his only defect in that capacity being his habit of dreaming out loud on the eve of every church festival. On Easter Eve, for instance, he nearly always awakens his wife by intoning, with the full force of his lungs, Resurrexit! The good woman, thus abruptly aroused, never fails to answer him with the orthodox Alleluia!
At the age of sixty he becomes deaf, and then begins to think his own playing perfection. At seventy he usually dies of a broken heart, because the new priest, who knows not Joseph, instead of asking him to dine at the principal table with the clergy and other church authorities, has relegated him to an inferior place, and the society of the sacristan and the grave-digger.
The unhappy man who succumbs to the fascinations of this instrument is never one who has attained the full development of his intellectual faculties. He always has a pointed nose, marries a short-sighted woman, and dies run over by an omnibus.
His greatest satisfaction, as a general thing, is that of making the strings weep. Sometimes, indeed, he succeeds in making his wife and family do the same thing in consequence of a diet of excessive frugality. Sometimes, too, he contrives to make people laugh or yawn, but this, according to him, is the result of atmospheric influences.
An immense apparatus of wood and sheepskin, full of air and of sinister presages. In melodrama the roll of the drum serves to announce the arrival of a fatal personage, an agent of Destiny, in most cases an ill-used husband. Sometimes this funereal rumbling serves to describe silencesometimes to indicate the depths of the operatic heroines despair.
The drummer is a serious man, possessed with the sense of his high dramatic mission. He is able, however, to conceal his conscious pride, and sleep on his instrument when the rest of the orchestra is making all the noise it can. In such cases he commissions the nearest of his colleagues to awaken him at the proper moment.
On awaking, he seizes the two drumsticks and begins to beat; but, should his neighbor forget to rouse him, he prolongs his slumbers till the fall of the curtain. Then he shakes himself, perceives that the opera is over, and rubs his eyes. If it happens that the conductor reprimands him for his remissness at the attack, he shrugs his shoulders and replies, Never mind, the tenor died, all the same. A roll of the drum, more or less, what difference would it have made?