Skip to main content

Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

See other formats

to Alps and Sanctuaries          263

much better than my own. But this does not matter to him
now, for he has not the faintest idea that he ever wrote any
of them and, more likely than not, has never even refreshed
his memory by reading them.

Beethoven at Faido and at Boulogne

I have twice seen people so unmistakably like Beethoven
(just as Madame Patey is unmistakably like Handel and only
wants dressing in costume to be the image of him not in
features only but in figure and air and manner) that I always
think of them as Beethoven.

Once, at Faido in the Val Leventina, in 1876 or 1877, when
the engineers were there surveying for the tunnel, there was
among them a rather fine-looking young German with wild,
ginger hair that rang out to the wild sky like the bells in In
Memoriam, and a strong Edmund Gurney cut,* who played
Wagner and was great upon the overture to Lohengrin ; as for
Handel—he was not worth consideration, etc. Well, this
young man rather took a fancy to me and I did not dislike
him, but one day, to tease him, I told him that a little in-
significant-looking engineer, the most commonplace mortal
imaginable, who was sitting at the head of the table, was like
Beethoven. He was very like him indeed, and Miiller saw it,
smiled and flushed at the same time. He was short, getting
on in years and was a little thick, though not fat. A few days
afterwards he went away and Miiller and I happened to meet
his box—an enormous cube of a trunk—coming down the

" That's Beethoven's box," said Miiller to me.

" Oh," I said, and, looking at it curiously for a moment,
asked gravely, " And is he inside it ? " It seemed to fit him
and to correspond so perfectly with him in every way that one
felt as though if he were not inside it he ought to be.

The second time was at Boulogne this spring. There were
three Germans at the Hotel de Paris who sat together, went
in and out together, smoked together and did everything as
though they were a unity in trinity and a trinity in unity.
We settled that they must be the Heckmann Quartet, minus

* Edmund Gurney, author of The Power of Sound, and Secretary
of the Society for Psychical Research.