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"FIRST MONTH.—The last night of the year
has passed. To-morrow, crowds will assemble
for the holiday. Let us erect before our doors
the beautiful fir-tree."*

* A feature of the New Year festival of the
Japanese, not unlike our own Christmas celebrations,
is the displaying of fir-trees and bushes before their

As regards the manner in which this was
sung, I can candidly say that it was as far from
the whoop-like extravagance I had been led to
expect as one could have desired. Among the
score or two of Japanese around, there were as
many with tolerable voices as would probably be
found in the same number of uneducated
amateurs the world over. And a few of them, I
afterwards discovered, not only had exceedingly
agreeable voices, but also knew how to use them
with something approaching to taste and skill.
Vocal cultivation, however, seemed to be beyond
their wildest flights of fancy, and their highest
musical joy was a good round chorus, with
plenty of syllables to each line, and a snap at
the end. I need not say that these choruses
were sung in unison, for, when harmony begins
to be understood in a nation, there music fairly
takes its place as serious art. But they were
quick to learn simple harmonies, and often
repeated their own songs as duets, in thirds or
sixths, as the case might be.

Their language, unsymmetrical as it may
appear dressed up in characters presentable to
English eyes, is really as soft and melodious as any I
have heard. It is entirely free from harsh or
guttural sounds, and the words are crowded with
vowels. No syllable ever terminates in a consonant.
To get exactly at the Japanese utterance
of the words given above, a French pronunciation
of vowels rather than an English should be
adopted, especially with the letter "u." In case
anybody should feel interested in seeing the
original words, here they are, as they were
written down in Katakana by the nimble fingers
of Matsumoto Sanojouh, second secretary of the
embassya gentleman whose simple dignity and
generous courtesy would more than adorn any
station an enlightened society could offer:



If it were desirable to give additional
specimens of Japanese music, I could do so,
but the one I have offered is a very fair
example of their ordinary popular songs, and is
neither better nor worse than the average.
They are all short, excepting the heroic or
historical songs, which are very stately affairs, and
not so graceful as the rest. Like the times of
most nations with whom music has not far
advanced, they are generally in minor keys, though
some very pretty ones are exceptions to this rule.
This single specimen will at least show that the
Japanese have melodies regular in form,
properly accentuated, and by no means destitute of
spirit and euphony. Properly harmonisedand
it is susceptible of very good harmonisingthe
above might pass for as neat a bit of melody as
we are apt to find floating about our music
stores. At any rate, it supplies what I think
has not before been givenan opportunity to
judge directly what the Japanese music is like.
And, so far as my own testimony goes, I can
certainly say, in opposition to previous verdicts,
that, after hearing all sorts of performances
from the seventy-five Japanese officers who
visited the United States, I think they sing
quite as well as could be expected, and that, on
the whole, worse afflictions (with better names)
for human ears than their much-abused music
can be found nearer home without the slightest


IN these days when elaborate execution has,
to so great an extent, taken the place of wit,
and fine drawing usurped that of Humourin
these days when that great gift of humour is
held in possession by but a very few of those
who profess to provide amusement for the
publicit is something to discover a new vein
of fun developing itself in somewhat of a new
form, but genuine fun nevertheless, and that,
considering the nature of the means taken for
its elimination, of the most refined and polished

This new vein of humour is in no way
connected with photography. When photography
tries to be funny, there is one, and one only,
result:—vulgarity, and vulgarity of the most
tragic and lachrymose kind. The "something
new" to which we wish to call attention, has
nothing whatever to do with photography. It
is not developed eitheras has ordinarily been
the caseby means of the pencil or the pen.
It is neither written humour nor drawn humour.
The artist has chosen a wholly new medium
through which to say what he has got to say,
and speaks to us by means of models or other
objects set up actually before our eyes, whether
figures moulded by the hand of man, or specimens
of the animal creation so arranged, so twisted
or distorted from their nature as to reflect
something of human passion, and of human
weaknesses and folly.

With one portion of these caricatures, all of
which have their birth on a foreign soil, most
persons are probably familiar, as they have
been largely imported into this country. There