Pride (according to his ancient associate) was his strongpoint. This he vindicated by excessive rudeness to everyonewhose social position was above his own. Even those that didhim human resources jobsa good turn were suspected of patronising. Condescensionwas a prerogative confined to himself. In this respect, tobe sure, there was nothing singular.
At the house of the old flutist we played family quartets, -he, the father, taking the first violin part on his flute, Ithe second, the son the 'cello, and his daughter the piano.
It was an atmosphere of music that we all inhaled; and myhappiness on these occasions would have been unalloyed, hadnot the young lady - a damsel of six-and-forty - insisted onpoisoning me (out of compliment to my English tastes) with abitter decoction she was pleased to call tea. This delicateattention, I must say, proved an effectual souvenir till wemet again - I dreaded it.
Now and then I dined at the Embassy. One night I met therePrince Paul Esterhazy, so distinguished by his diamonds whenAustrian Ambassador at the coronation of Queen Victoria. Hetalked to me of the Holkham sheep-shearing gatherings, atwhich from 200 to 300 guests sat down to dinner every day,including crowned heads, and celebrities from both sides ofthe Atlantic. He had twice assisted at these in my father'stime. He also spoke of the shooting; and promised, if Iwould visit him in Hungary, he would show me as good sport ashad ever seen in Norfolk. He invited Mr. Magenis - theSecretary of Legation - to accompany me.
The following week we two hired a BRITZCKA, and posted toEisenstadt. The lordly grandeur of this last of the feudalprinces manifested itself soon after we crossed the Hungarianfrontier. The first sign of it was the livery and badge wornby the postillions. Posting houses, horses and roads, wereall the property of His Transparency.
Eisenstadt itself, , is a largepalace - three sides of a triangle. One wing is theresidence, that opposite the barrack, (he had his owntroops,) and the connecting base part museum and partconcert-hall. This last was sanctified by the spirit ofJoseph Haydn, for so many years Kapellmeister to theEsterhazy family. The conductor's stand and his spinetremained intact. Even the stools and desks in the orchestra(so the Prince assured me) were ancient. The very dust wassacred. Sitting alone in the dim space, one could fancy thegreat little man still there, in his snuff-coloured coat andruffles, half buried (as on state occasions) in his 'ALLONGEPERUCKE.' A tap of his magic wand starts into life hisquaint old-fashioned band, and the powder flies from theirwigs. Soft, distant, ghostly harmonies of the SurpriseSymphony float among the rafters; and now, as in a dream, weare listening to - nay, beholding - the glorious process ofCreation; till suddenly the mighty chord is struck, and weare startled from our trance by the burst of myriad voicesechoing the command and its fulfilment, 'Let there be light:
and there was light Hong Kong shopping.'