英日対訳:トーマス・ビーチャム自叙伝「A Mingled Chime」第2章・幼かった頃(2/2)








It was the custom during the greater part of the nineteenth century, while they were building up their businesses, for Lancashire merchants and manufacturers to live on or very near the premises where their warehouses or factories were located, and work started at six in the morning. But in the eighties there came a relaxation of this Spartan regime, employers and employees alike were allowed to remain a little longer abed, and the increase of branch railway lines gave easier access to the adjacent country, enabling those who could to move out of town. It was in my seventh year that we left St. Helens for Huyton, a village six miles southward and half way on the road to Liverpool. Our new home was a moderate-sized but commodious mansion, and my father, whose chief hobby after music was building, lost no time in adding a large wing of which the ground floor was a single room of small concert hall dimensions. The front of the house had a clear view over several miles of meadows to a rising slope which was the limit of our horizon, and beyond it was a gradual descent through fields to other villages and the river Mersey. On the edge of the ascent was a picturesque group of fourteenth century buildings which had formerly been a monastic establishment. Of these only the Abbey Church remained ecclesiastical property, the remainder having been divided into two parts and converted into an imposing castellated house and a delightful country inn. The latter with its terraces and sunken bowling green was a favorite spot of ours for drives and picnics, and in later years when I was in the neighborhood for concert or opera performances, I often went out to stay a day or two there in preference to the huge modern hotel in Liverpool.  




There was a private school about a hundred yards beyond the bottom of our garden, and to it I was sent to pick up those rudiments of instruction which have harassed the soul of every small child for the past two thousand years, and which no one ever seems to question must be the basis of all human knowledge. But I have to confess that during my first year or two I was a thoroughly idle and indifferent pupil and much preferred to be at home, especially in the music room where had now been installed a pipe organ, an American organ, a concert grand piano, and musical boxes of every kind. My mother disdained the services of a housekeeper and ruled her little domain very much as my father did his business, giving personal attention to every side of it. She enrolled me in her service whenever she thought I had not enough to do to keep me out of mischief, more especially on Sundays when I was sent into the kitchen to assist in the preparation of the midday meal. Invariably an ample loin of beef was roasted on a spit before an immense fire, and like the young Tournebroche my function was to keep it in motion, pouring and repouring over the meat the juice which flowed from it.* While this, the major part of the ceremony, was going on, there would be cooking of Yorkshire pudding, pies, and pastries in the back kitchen, and during the final stage my mother would appear arrayed in a beautiful silk dress with sleeves rolled up, to appraise our labors and give the finishing touches to everything  ith her own hands.  

* La Rotisseiie de la Reine Pddauqiie, Anatole France.  




In spite of my disinclination for regular scholastic work, I was not wanting in industry where my real interest was excited. I had learned to read at a very early age, and as we had an excellent library I dipped into everything I could understand from boys’ tales of adventure to Shakespearean plays. It was in my eighth year that it was discovered I had an unusually retentive memory. Seeing me one day with a copy of Macbeth, my father suggested that I learn a portion of it (one of the witches’ scenes) for recitation before a party of friends. When at the end of my performance one of the guests asked if I knew any more, I replied by giving him the rest of the act and, encouraged by the praises I received, had the entire play on the tip of my tongue in a few days' time. But the recollection of verse, although not of prose, was always a natural and unlabored process of mind with me, particularly if it had the rhythmic and musical quality which to my way of thinking the Elizabethans possessed in larger measure than our later poets. 




Meanwhile my piano lessons continued with regularity, my preceptor coming out from St. Helens once or twice a week. It was impossible for me not to sense that he was almost desperately anxious that I should be something of a success, and I gleaned  ater on that almost at the beginning of my studies he had declared that I had a musical talent which might go far, if I could be induced to practice with greater regularity. As I was not without some real affection for him, which the frequent gift of Everton Toffee and Edinburgh Rock did nothing to decrease, I did work as hard as I could, but without much enthusiasm for the sort of piece he placed before me. With his passion for eighteenth century piano music he was incapable of understanding that I could have progressed three times more speedily had he fed me on an wholly different musical diet. I would listen with joy to anyone playing Chopin, Schumann, or some of the later writers for the instrument such as Grieg. But the pre-Beethoven classical masters did not hold a very high place in my esteem; I had never heard them rendered by a great artist, was unaware how much more difficult they were to make grateful to the ear than their successors, and of their symphonic work I knew nothing as the sound of an orchestra was as yet unknown to me. The youthful mind has no creative imagination of its own, and in the case of a great amount of music its consciousness can be fully awakened only by hearing it given with all or most of the effect intended by the composer. Even in maturity we are surprised and delighted by some penetrating stroke of interpretation which throws fresh light on a piece with which we have been familiar for years. But in childhood we start from nowhere and wander about blindly as in a fog, unless we have the luck to find the rare kind of pedagogue who has a clairvoyant insight into the needs of our nascent personalities.  




The consequence of this was that most of the time I spent at the piano was given up to hammering out all the opera scores I could read. Observing that in many of them the orchestral instrumentation was indicated, I endeavored to reproduce as much of it as I could on the organ. As my feet did not reach the pedals, my father would sometimes collaborate by adding the missing part, but usually more to my embarrassment than gratification. Even at that age I listened to his efforts on that none too tractable instrument with mixed feelings of respect and bewilderment, for it seemed quite outside his power ever to bring about a synchronism of manuals and pedals, and the bass part always had a lower octave played in perpetually disturbing syncopation. But as no one had the heart to draw his attention to this little foible, he would dream away at the keyboard for hours at a time without the slightest suspicion that he was not the soul of accuracy. And these, it may be, were his happiest moments.