The height of hate…. and why not to perform comic songs

There are some times when someone ( I can vouch from personal experience) when there rages an intense and blind hate towards some one or thing and you could literally tear them apart or perform some other spectacular act of frenzied violence if you get the opportunity. However, a lot of people can be thankful that these extremely sanguinary moments occur far and far between and mostly brew over soon. Here is a literary depiction of such a state…….

The sight of those~~ rouses every evil instinct in my nature. I feel I want to tear each one down, and hammer it over the head of the man who put it up, until I have killed him, and then I would bury him, and put the board up over the grave as a tombstone.

I mentioned these feelings of mine to Harris, and he said he had them worse than that. He said he not only felt he wanted to kill the man who caused the board to be put up, but that he should like to slaughter the whole of his family and all his friends and relations, and then burn down his house. This seemed to me to be going too far, and I said so to Harris; but he answered:

“Not a bit of it. Serve `em all jolly well right, and I’d go and sing comic songs on the ruins.”

I was vexed to hear Harris go on in this blood-thirsty strain. We never ought to allow our instincts of justice to degenerate into mere vindictiveness. It was a long while before I could get Harris to take a more Christian view of the subject, but I succeeded at last, and he promised me that he would spare the friends and relations at all events, and would not sing comic songs on the ruins.

<<From this follows the subject – by no means connected – of how you can make yourself ridiculous by trying to become the life and soul of a party – by singing comic songs. I am thankful for a most benign and merciful providence  for endowing me with a most retiring disposition, well content to remain out of the limelight. However read the account that follows…..>>

You have never heard Harris sing a comic song, or you would understand the service I had rendered to mankind. It is one of Harris’s fixed ideas that he can sing a comic song; the fixed idea, on the contrary, among those of Harris’s friends who have heard him try, is that he can’t and never will be able to, and that he ought not to be allowed to try.

When Harris is at a party, and is asked to sing, he replies: “Well, I can only sing a comic song, you know;” and he says it in a tone that implies that his singing of that, however, is a thing that you ought to hear once, and then die.

“Oh, that is nice,” says the hostess. “Do sing one, Mr. Harris;” and Harris gets up, and makes for the piano, with the beaming cheeriness of a generous-minded man who is just about to give somebody something.

“Now, silence, please, everybody” says the hostess, turning round; “Mr. Harris is going to sing a comic song!”

“Oh, how jolly!” they murmur; and they hurry in from the conservatory, and come up from the stairs, and go and fetch each other from all over the house, and crowd into the drawing-room, and sit round, all smirking in anticipation.

Then Harris begins.

Well, you don’t look for much of a voice in a comic song. You don’t expect correct phrasing or vocalization. You don’t mind if a man does find out, when in the middle of a note, that he is too high, and comes down with a jerk. You don’t bother about time. You don’t mind a man being two bars in front of the accompaniment, and easing up in the middle of a line to argue it out with the pianist, and then starting the verse afresh. But you do expect the words.

You don’t expect a man to never remember more than the first three lines of the first verse, and to keep on repeating these until it is time to begin the chorus. You don’t expect a man to break off in the middle of a line, and snigger, and say, it’s very funny, but he’s blest if he can think of the rest of it, and then try and make it up for himself, and, afterwards, suddenly recollect it, when he has got to an entirely different part of the song, and break off, without a word of warning, to go back and let you have it then and there. You don’t—well, I will just give you an idea of Harris’s comic singing, and then you can judge of it for yourself.

To be continued……

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