A KENTUCKY FIDDLER AND A FRENCH VIOLINIST.—A correspondent of the N. Y. Spirit of the Times, who writes under the signature of “Old Virginny,” tells the following good story :
Old Bob Walker ! did you never hear of him ? He was the greatest fiddler (he hated the name of violin) that ever drew a bow in Old Kentuck. He was known by every man, woman and child in the State. It was just as impossible to have a frolic without old Bob, as it was to eat dinner without hog and hominy. The fiddle was his only companion ; his pillow at night and his breakfast in the morning ;--he lived and slept by it--he was in Old Kentuck what Paganini was in Europe.
Some twelve years since, the dramatic company of Louisville were astonishing the natives of Frankfort, and the Big Guns of the Legislature. Their orchestra consisted of nothing more than one poor little Frenchman ; he scratched away for two or three nights, much to his own satisfaction, but little to the amusement of the audience. In the meantime who should arrive in town but old Bob. The manager was immediately notified that he must employ him, as he was a host within himself.—Night came, and old Bob was seated alongside the little Frenchman. The old fiddler did not much relish the little Frenchman, and he despised book music ; he would rather have been at a corn-shucking frolic than in a Theatre.—The play was “ Virginius,” and every thing went on well until the close. Virginius dies—the ladies are seen with white handkerchiefs to their eyes—the big tear is seen to course down the cheek of manly youth—the bell rings for the curtain to descend slowly—the little Frenchman strikes up a melancholy air and said “ pianissimo.” Old Bob looked at him and said, “ Piana h—l !” and struck up with all his might,--“ Oh! Judy put the kettle on—Oh ! Judy put the kettle on.” It was like magic ; the sublime to the ridiculous. The curtain came down with a double-shuffle—the audience yelled—the little Frenchman scratched his head—and the indignant Virginius swore vengeance against all Kentucky Fiddlers.
Source: New Orleans Daily Picayune, 21 February 1841 (no 24). 2nd unnumbered page. University of Memphis by interlibrary loan through the University of Richmond.
Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.
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