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96 The National Music of America.
American history than those thus far cited in this chapter.
One of the most peculiar features of the music of this most dreadful epoch of history is its utterly light and frivolous character. This by no means tends to make the events, which intertwined with the tunes, less gruesome, but seems to accentuate their horror. A tiny candle serves but to make darkness more impressive; the rollicking songs introduced by Shakespeare in " King Lear " or " Hamlet " but intensify the presentation of the agony of the deserted monarch, or the pathos of Ophelia's insanity. In the same manner the saturnalia of murder is made more vivid by the fact that the march played while Marie Antoinette was conducted to the guillotine was a potpourri of the most jovial opera tunes.1
A similar bright streak, which contrasts
1 This march was in the possession of Mrs. Augustus Lowell, of Boston, a few years ago.