fkohl Posted February 19, 2007 Share Posted February 19, 2007 The following article originally appeared in the New York Times, and was reprinted in the New Hampshire Sentinel on August 30th, 1877: "The Concertina." "There is a so-called musical instrument which is variously known as the accordian, the concertina, or the harmonica. It is modeled upon the common domestic cat. If a cat is either violently squeezed together or pulled out to an unusual lenght the result is a note, or series of notes, of peculiar sharpness and reed-like quality. There is no malignant musician who is not well acquainted with the cat's capabilities as a sound producer, but few men can play on a cat in a way to satisfy a critical audience. Indeed, the cat is probably the most difficult of all musical instruments, and, though small boys frequently attempt to play it, an accomplished cat virtuoso is extremely rare. As a substitute for the cat, some nameless villian, many years ago, invented the concertina. This nefarious instrument is played by alternately squeezing and pulling it precisely as though is were a cat, and the sound which it gives forth is a very close imitation of the sound of the former instrument, although a trifle more nasal in its timbre. Unfortunately, the concertina is as easy to master as the cat is difficult; and it is hence the favorite instrument of the idle and depraved. One small boy of ten years of age has often, with the aid of a single concertina, depopulated a whole neighborhood. The instrument does not, it is true, produce an immediate an effect as does the cornet, and hence the latter instrument is preferred by land speculators who desire to rapidly depress the value of real estate in any given locality. Still, the concertina is sure, even if it is comparatively slow, and there is no surer way of making a handsome fortune than to move into a small house in a good neighborhood, with a small boy who plays the concertina; to buy up the surrounding property at a nominal figure as fast as its owners fly, or are removed to the lunatic asylum, and then to publicly kill the boy to restore confidence and create a rise in the value of the property. Many of our richest and best men have amassed their wealth in precisely this way; and while small boys and concertinas remain as cheap as they now are, the business will be open to all persons of moderate means." "It is generally conceded that lightning is one of the ablest of natural phenomena. The ease with which lightning can find a man in the dark; the celerity with which it can persue him, and the efficiency with which it can strike, have been in all ages the themes of admiration among those who have seen other people attract the attention of the electric fluid. There is nothing that kills a man as thoroughly as does lightning, and it moreover frequently paints a beautiful picture on the breast or back of its victim, and throws it in gratuitously, just as if it were a prize chromo. Scientific persons tell us that a man was once struck by lightning while walking along a country road in France, and that no trace of him was ever afterward found; the intense heat having instantly dissipated him in the form of gases. This beautiful anecdote has comforted thousands of oppressed souls who have remembered it when thunder-storms to which their creditors were exposed were in progress, and it is greatly to be wished that it rested upon some better authority than the assertion of mere scientific persons." "The reader may not at once perceive the connection between concertinas and lightning. Indeed, the lightning has hitherto deplorably failed to connect with the concertina. There is probably not a man living who has not thought what a blessed thing it would be were lightning to invariably hit persons engaging in playing the concertina. In view of the failure of the lightning to strike concertina-players, superficial observers have ventured to hint that the splendid capabilities of electricity have been wasted, while infidels have boldly denied that lightning is any benefit whatever to mankind. What is obviously wanted is a closer connection between lightning and the concertina. The man who tries to play the latter should be made to feel that he is trifling with the former, and that the moment the lightning can get a fair aim at him his crime will be swiftly and fittingly punished." "There has recently occured a joyful incident in New England which will revive public confidence in lightning and kindle hope in the breasts of suffering humanity. During a thunder-shower in a New Hampshire town, a bold, bad man, who was doubtless either an atheist of a positivist, stood at his front door and played the concertina in a way that was little short of blasphemy. He had played that instrument with impunity for many years, and he believed that vengeance had forgotten him, and that he was safe. Suddenly, a blinding flash of lightning darted from the sky and hit him fairly in the mouth. Then the electricity ran cheerfully down his body, scorching him in a way that would have brought smiles to the face of even a deaf person, and finally passing off through the toes of his boots, rendering those organs henceforth useless. The man was not entirely killed, but he was severely injured, and his neighbors are still quite hopeful as to his case. Of course, the incident is generally regarded by the religious part of the community as an instance of the direct punishment of crime, and it will probably be a fruitful theme for sermons and tracts. All good men will rejoice at it and accept it as evidence that the lightning is henceforth prepared to do its whole duty, and it is to be hoped that it will prove a salutary warning to those who are now habitually guilty of playing the concertina. ---N.Y. Times" Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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