NO musical instrument has
been subjected to so much hostile criticism as the Great Highland
No musical instrument has
been so often made the butt of the heavy after-dinner wits!
Men, in whom the sense of
humour seems entirely awanting, waken up on the first mention of the
word Bagpipe, feeling that their reproach is about to be taken from
themnow they will show that they too are possessed of a nice witand
nine out of ten such answer the simple question Do you like the
Bagpipe?' with, Oh, yes! I like the Bagpipe at a distance. The long
pause after Bagpipe punctuates the wit, and prepares for the laughter
that always follows.
Is this sort of thing not
becoming a little stale?
It may be clever! I
really do not know; but even the best joke loses force from
Demades, the Athenian
Orator, a man of no character or principle, who lived in the beginning
of the fourth century, B.C., was among the first to set the fashion of
laughing at the Pipe, and there has been a host of imitators since his
unprincipled braggart, says that he is as melancholy as the drone of a
Shylocks reference to it
is unfit for gentle ears.
Otway, of whom his
biographer writes little is known, nor is there any part of that little
which his biographer can take pleasure in relating, said once, A
Scotch song! I hate it worse than a Scotch Bagpipe.
While William Black, the
novelist, not to be outdone in originality by these old writers, harps
upon the same string thusSermons, like the Scotch Bagpipes (sic),
sound very well,when one does not hear them.
Only the other day an
English critic, who was present at a large gathering of Highlanders in
one of the Midland towns, wrote to his paper as follows : The
Highlanders cheered loud and long as the pipers marched into the hall to
the strain of the Bagpipes. The Englishmen also cheered heartily when
the pipers marched out
The italics mark the
humour, and prevent the careless reader from missing a joke, all
time-worn and thread-bare as it is.
Now, by two-headed Janus,
Nature hath framed strange fellows in her time:
Some that will evermore peep through their eyes,
And laugh like parrots at a Bagpiper.