Sunday, June 24, 2012

Flageolet


‘Monday 24 June 1667

Up, and to the office, where much business upon me by the coming of people of all sorts about the dispatch of one business or other of the fire-ships, or other ships to be set out now. This morning Greeting come, and I with him at my flageolet…’

Thomas Greeting gained employment in Charles II’s court in 1662.  Greeting helped introduce the Flageolet to English music, and published “The Pleasant Companion, or new Lessons on the Flagelet”, around 1668.  Greeting taught Samuel Pepys how to play (Pepys Diary above).  This woodwind instrument made its way in to Walter Scott’s “Guy Mannering”, as well.

'Two or three times during the last fortnight I heard, at a late hour in
the night or very early in the morning, a flageolet play the little Hindu
tune to which your daughter is so partial. I thought for some time that
some tuneful domestic, whose taste for music was laid under constraint
during the day, chose that silent hour to imitate the strains which he
had caught up by the ear during his attendance in the drawing-room. But
last night I sat late in my study, which is immediately under Miss
Mannering's apartment, and to my surprise I not only heard the flageolet
distinctly, but satisfied myself that it came from the lake under the
window. Curious to know who serenaded us at that unusual hour, I stole
softly to the window of my apartment. But there were other watchers than
me. You may remember, Miss Mannering preferred that apartment on account
of a balcony which opened from her window upon the lake. Well, sir, I
heard the sash of her window thrown up, the shutters opened, and her own
voice in conversation with some person who answered from below. This is
not "Much ado about nothing"; I could not be mistaken in her voice, and
such tones, so soft, so insinuating; and, to say the truth, the accents
from below were in passion's tenderest cadence too,--but of the sense I
can say nothing. I raised the sash of my own window that I might hear
something more than the mere murmur of this Spanish rendezvous; but,
though I used every precaution, the noise alarmed the speakers; down slid
the young lady's casement, and the shutters were barred in an instant.
The dash of a pair of oars in the water announced the retreat of the male
person of the dialogue. Indeed, I saw his boat, which he rowed with great
swiftness and dexterity, fly across the lake like a twelve-oared barge.
Next morning I examined some of my domestics, as if by accident, and I
found the gamekeeper, when making his rounds, had twice seen that boat
beneath the house, with a single person, and had heard the flageolet. I
did not care to press any farther questions, for fear of implicating
Julia in the opinions of those of whom they might be asked. Next morning,
at breakfast, I dropped a casual hint about the serenade of the evening
before, and I promise you Miss Mannering looked red and pale alternately.
I immediately gave the circumstance such a turn as might lead her to
suppose that my observation was merely casual. I have since caused a
watch-light to be burnt in my library, and have left the shutters open,
to deter the approach of our nocturnal guest; and I have stated the
severity of approaching winter, and the rawness of the fogs, as an
objection to solitary walks. Miss Mannering acquiesced with a passiveness
which is no part of her character, and which, to tell you the plain
truth, is a feature about the business which I like least of all. Julia
has too much of her own dear papa's disposition to be curbed in any of
her humours, were there not some little lurking consciousness that it may
be as prudent to avoid debate…’

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