英日対訳:T.ビーチャム自叙伝A Mingled Chime第35章(2/2)コヴェント・ガーデン契約急展開








All of which brings me to the point where I propose to throw a ray of truth upon certain private affairs of mine which have received a good deal of notice in the Press of most countries and about which I have preferred to remain silent during twenty years and more. Everywhere I have found the impression that I inherited from my father a large fortune, the greater part of which I have spent on artistic enterprises, and that generally I am thriftless, prodigal, and without understanding of money. One part of this opinion at least is as far removed from the truth as anything can be. It may be that I have expended very large sums on music and other artistic ventures, but not out of my inheritance, for the simple reason that I was powerless to touch the capital of it. How has this misconception come about? Mainly through the indefinite character of much of our legal system and the casual methods of reporting in the Press, as will be seen hereafter.  




My father’s executors, having completed the preliminary examination of his affairs, called me into consultation. The disposition of his estate was simple enough in outline, his Lancashire business being left almost wholly to my brother and myself and the residue mainly to four of my sisters. But upon the whole property lay the burden of the Covent Garden contract, on which two million pounds were still owing. There was no earthly chance of finding this sum out of the assets at our disposal, for even if the business could be sold in war time, which was highly doubtful, it would not bring in enough to discharge the obligation. Although its yearly profits were considerable, its capital value was moderate, consisting mostly of good will, with few tangible possessions such as land and buildings to back it up. A larger portion of the residue than expected would have to go in paying debts and overdrafts, and it looked as if my sisters’ share would be considerably below anticipation. It would help the situation, argued the executors’ advisers, for the whole estate to be in the hands of my brother and myself alone, and if we would purchase the residuary part of it, we should be left in undivided control and in a better position to deal with Covent Garden. 




James White was well on the side of such a transaction, being just as anxious as the executors to get the estate out of their hands and into ours; and as he was quite confident that we could find the money to carry it through, my brother and I entered into a contract under which we undertook to pay for the residue about twice as much as it eventually proved to be worth, and sat down to observe the operations of the financial wizard.  




My father, in full anticipation of many more years of life as well as the imminent settlement of the Estate problem, had only a few weeks before his death made a fresh will, and if he had survived a year or two longer its terms would have presented no difficulty to his successors. But having been drawn with an eye to the big deal which was awaiting early completion his unexpected death made it almost unadministrable, so interwoven and complicated were the numerous interests therein, great and small. The portion of the business bequeathed to me was left in trust, which proved to be a constant stumbling block in the path of White's schemes for handling the estate in the broad, bold fashion with which he was familiar; and as the months went by it became increasingly evident that here was a problem beyond his capacity to solve. He could raise the money neither to complete the residuary estate contract, nor to finance Covent Garden, and he was not helped by the war situation, which had deteriorated rather than improved. Air raids had been more frequent, the U-boat menace was the constant nightmare of the Government, and the public was beginning to realize that it was involved no longer in a chivalrous crusade but a war of life and death. Official restrictions continued to remain unrelaxed, the City was unresponsive, financial wizardry had bitten off more than it could chew, and its magic wand was waving in vain. We had no alternative but to go to the executors and confess our impotence. If only the war would stop and the wicked Germans admit defeat, all might be well: the wheels of company flotation now at a standstill would revolve again merrily and we would all live happily ever afterwards. The executors sympathized with these pious hopes for the future but were naturally more interested in the present. They had a contract with us for a very large sum of money and where was it? The only answer to this question was, nowhere, and there appeared small chance of an improvement in our unlucky position.  




There happened to be in Liverpool at that time an accountant with a talent for figures nearly akin to genius. He had been called in by the executors on taking over their duties, had advised them throughout, had been half anticipating the present impasse, and now produced overnight a scheme for the reconciliation of the conflicting interests in the estate and the unraveling of the Covent Garden tangle. It was necessary, however, in view of the numerous trust shares in the will and ihe ambiguous position of the executors, for the estate to be administered under an order of the Court of Chancery; and the essentials of the scheme were that a large sum be borrowed from the bank to reduce the unpaid balance of the Covent Garden purchase money, that the property be nursed over a period of years, that my brother and I agree to accept a much reduced income from the business and that the balance of such income be accumulated to pay off the bank and ultimately the residuary contract. 




When the suggestion of Chancery was first made, my thoughts reverted to a disclosure which my father had made to me during that summer of 1916 in Lancashire. An old friend of his and a man of great ability had died leaving a will which he had innocently imagined to be crystal-clear and fool proof. It had proved to be so difficult of interpretation that his estate had to be thrown into Chancery, and there it remained for over five years. While deploring this disaster my father had been a little critical of the carelessness of its author and declared with a certain complacency that, profiting by this experience, he had caused a will to be drawn up which could give under no circumstances the slightest trouble to those appointed to carry out its provisions. I was filled with disquiet and foreboding at the prospect before us, but there appeared no other way out. The vendors of Covent Garden were getting restless and something had to be done about it. So off to the Court we went and obtained an order of administration which took six full years and more to mn its appointed course. 




This critical step brought me up sharply against an unpleasant reality. My father during his lifetime had stood solidly behind my numerous enterprises, sometimes shouldering a part of the burden himself, at others loaning me amounts which would be debited to my eventual share in the estate. At his death therefore I had several overdrafts which could have been discharged or  

reduced without difficulty had I been receiving all the dividends due to me from the St. Helens business under normal conditions, but not with a materially reduced income. Undoubtedly the wise thing from the prudential point of view would have been to part company with those organizations which I had been assisting to keep alive since the outbreak of war, or at all events to cut down substantially my contribution to their support; but I shrank from the immediate application of the axe of economy to the root of my problem. Hundreds of worthy people were for the moment dependent on the continuance of my efforts; I had created the finest native opera company ever seen in England, my audiences were increasing over all the Kingdom, and although my outlay was heavy, I was hopeful that after a while it would diminish. Only in the last extremity did I feel like throwing up the sponge, for after all the war might end before long and the situation change for the better. I therefore threw caution out of the window and determined to go on as long as it was within my power.  








Alice (Lauren Cuthbertson) stumbles upon the Mad Hatter (Steven McRae) in Christopher Wheeldon's curious production of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for The Royal Ballet.